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

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
I'm totally down with Blood War deserters. I've always liked the idea that the war is so big and so pointless that it makes the occasional demon or devil stop and go 'Man, what am I even doing this for?' Perhaps they can saunter vaguely upwards as they get used to a life where at first, they can't kill and plunder out of fear, and then they slowly wean themselves off the killing and plundering addiction.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
I like this version of Ozymandias.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
I mean hell I'd play as a blood war deserter who is spending all his or her time trying to fit in and look human, maybe takes up adventure since it's the 'acceptable' way to commit mass murder from time to time.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
When I started playing D&D, I didn't know about yuguloths, so I said "Why aren't there Neutral Evil fiends?" and wrote up that faction. Having such a faction for demons and devils who get sick of the Satan Wars sounds like a cool idea.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010
I agree with the thumbs ups for the concept of Blood War deserters in general. Come to think of it, though, these guys shouldn't be alu-fiends; those are tan'ari, and these guys are early in the alphabet listings and act specifically lawful. I guess they should be, I don't know, abishai? Or just devils of a nonspecific type, if you're not married to the established D&D subtypes?

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

I think it's interesting to note that this was an encounter with alu-fiends, an explicitly all female race of (half-)demons descended from succubi, and they did not try to the seduce the party and kill them.

Skellybones
May 31, 2011




Fun Shoe
Maybe the alu-fiends deserted the War because they rejected the social norms of not only their homeland but all the Lower Planes. They're lawful demons because they want to and nobody can say otherwise :colbert:

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

So, Blade and Mikey are coming up with a Starfinger campaign setting...

https://www.tabletopgaming.co.uk/board-games/news/wesley-snipes-and-lord-of-the-rings-sean-astin-are-working-on-a

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Rimmin' and Grimmin' with the A-List, Motherfucker

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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

Some motherfuckers always trying to charge up hazardous terrain.

HerraS
Apr 15, 2012

Looking professional when committing genocide is essential. This is mostly achieved by using a beret.

Olive drab colour ensures the genocider will remain hidden from his prey until it's too late for them to do anything.



doing rimjobs around the g-rim

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!
Dreamlands had a city of cats a Ctech nuked it? gently caress those guys extra hard. I can already see the possibility of using Dream Cat Town as a relaxation place for soldiers in Whatever Mythos Thing We're Fighting War, under the guise of an actual cat therapy center.

And heroic enough dudes get a ticket on Dreamland Express as a get-out-of-PTSD-free card.

What all these chokes and edgy pudgy nematodes don't get that there's no need to a grimdark world relentlessly grim. In fact, all these awesome points - be they saint Drussus, Olianus Pious, Celestine the Living Saint, or Henri, the guy who bargained with the hopes because he wanted to make (rich) people less sad and possibly be the best train conductor for the rest of time - shine because of the relative grimness of the world.

And it's not an either/or proposition, Dreamlands Express is set in a campaign where skinwalkers/flayers are an often reoccurrence.You can have a grimdark setting with hope and you should.

You also should punch nerds enamored with casualty numbers. Any dude nerd who thinks that a billion people dying in the Proletarian Crusade in the Beast Rises series is a made straw man, because nobody cares; big numbers are just noise. Nobody gives a poo poo about how many Marines died in any battle of the Horus Heresy; many people remember the misfortune and tragedy of the Lammenters.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
At least half of the third party settings I've seen for Starfinder are "space is a dark, cold, and hugless place", so at least there's some choice for people looking for that sort of thing.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Cthulhutech would be more fun if the variety of Tagers and Engels, for example, were based on Dreamlands and other mythos monsters. It's another sign of the writers' frank disinterest in their supposed inspirations.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

At least half of the third party settings I've seen for Starfinder are "space is a dark, cold, and hugless place", so at least there's some choice for people looking for that sort of thing.
The only artistic instinct of a perpetual adolescent is to coat childish things in a patina of grimness.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 19:45 on Dec 19, 2017

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!
They sure loved anime, titties and lowered age of consent! Are you triggered yet?


Alu-fiends posted:

Alu-fiends, the horrid female offspring of succubus and human

Don't seem that horrible to me, especially when they can pass as human when hiding wings and have a good chance of being good (well, neutral) if a paladin or something was her dad.

The demons don't even like them, they have all the reasons to tell the war effort to gently caress itself.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

You can stop posting now.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Paths of the Damned Part 1: Ashes of Middenheim

Let's finish off the city so we can get to getting the party in trouble

The Westgate-Sudgarten District saw a fair bit of fighting, but it wasn't subject to artillery bombardment. It saw attacks from flying foes and the determined attention of Chaos's favorite eternal midboss, Be'lakor, but mostly this just resulted in a few charred roofs and some dead soldiers. As the main cemetery of Morrspark is right in the district, the latter wasn't so hard to deal with.

Morrspark is overcrowded and full of elaborate tombs for noble families. The rock of the Falschlag doesn't leave much room for burial, so the locals have begun to resort to cremation and burying the ashes, with plans to build large memorials in Reikspiel, Kislevite, Bretonnian, Khazalid, and Eltharin to salute the fallen and memorialize their sacrifice. The cemetery is also a favorite roost of the city's ravens, who have been seen flying out to clean up the rotting corpses of hook-handed chain-bearer monsters that Archaon tried to use to get into the city. The devout see this as a sign that Morr is triumphing over Chaos. The practical just comment that it's making cleanup easier, and thank Morr for that.

The Grunpark is another public park, since Middenheim seems to love them, and it's become a refugee camp like the other open spaces in the city. It is near the Temple of Shallya, though, and that makes it a more desirable spot. It's also near Ostwald, the Crime Sector if you recall, and thus the gangs both prey on and recruit the refugees into their turf battles. The Shallyans are still busy as ever, now fighting matters of public health crisis and emergency relief rather than a torrent of combat-wounded and actual Nurglite champions. The temple here managed to directly thwart a plot by a Champion of Nurgle to spread plague throughout the city during the siege, Nurglites being the one foe Shallyans are allowed to fight (If you'll recall, their only direct combat spell will only harm Nurglite demons and followers).

There's also a small temple of Myrmidia, strange as that might seem, right next to the Shallyans. The two are sisters in some myths, and the temple is favored by a few highly placed officers in the city's army (despite being unpopular with Ulricans) as well as Tilean and Estalian mercenaries, who often work for the Empire when it needs to bolster its regional patrols.

The Merchant's District is naturally full of places of business and warehouses. The merchants have been hit as hard as everyone else by the siege, but they're willing to go into debt to keep spending and pretend it isn't so. Partly as a source of civic pride (SPEND TO STOP CHAOS FROM WINNING) and partly because a merchant who admits they have to cut back is a merchant who is now vulnerable to a buyout. Everyone in the Merchant's Guild is busily trying to look busy, despite there being little to do until the all-clear sounds and the army is back to regular patrols. Middenheim also suffers from lacking a river route, compared to other cities in the Empire, and thus it relies much more on open roads to actually trade and do business.

Finally, we get to the Undercity. The Undercity is both the city's sewers (with an attendant middling 1st tier fighter class who specializes in tunnel fighting and who is pretty bad overall) and the original dwarven tunnels beneath the city. It's a large set of built-in dungeons and adventure hooks for PCs, including rumors of a half-detonated Skaven superweapon known as Project Supremacy that no-one has been able to penetrate for your PCs to deal with. It isn't an especially exciting place, except for the large dwarf community that still lives down there and jokingly calls the portions under their quarters of town a proper Dwarf Hold. If you ever want to send your players into dark tunnels to root out Skaven, Beastmen, Chaos Remnants, and maybe hidden Undead, the Undercity of Middenheim is the place to go.

Finally, after all that, next time we begin The Ashes of Middenheim, wherein our intrepid Bretonnian Tomb Robber, Imperial Protagonist, Kislevite Peasant, Dwarf Runesmith, and Elven Pampered Noble begin their quest to get waylaid by jackassery. At least they get paid, first!

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Halloween Jack posted:

Cthulhutech would be more fun if the variety of Tagers and Engels, for example, were based on Dreamlands and other mythos monsters. It's another sign of the writers' frank disinterest in their supposed inspirations.
My impression with Cthulhutech above and beyond its obvious problems with a fascination with secret rape clubs, is that they were not into "the Lovecraft Mythos work and its immediate heirs and neighbors," they were into "the Cthulhu RPGs," along with a pretty distinguishable period of anime - basically, the anime you'd see in the college anime club on fansubbed VHS tapes, or seen on television in the case of Robotech. (Their weird space-drow were an obvious piss-take of the Zentraedi, but without the cultural overtones of the ones from Macross.)

So basically Cthulhutech is a veneer of grimdark gloss and an art budget on top of something no more mature than #WaiWaiAnimeRPG now on irc.daisuki.net:6969. All they did was take the fun out of it in favor of more rapemurders.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.
Dark Matter: Xenoforms




Out of This World Monsters In Extraphysicals, Part 2:

We’ve got some more weird poo poo a-coming today in the second half of Extraphysicals.

Litterman:



The Litterman is the wrath of an angry planet, taken form as a garbage elemental. It’s a monster made out of trash that murders people who are responsible for said trash.

As a garbage elemental in a world where the filth of humanity is pervasive, the Litterman is a formidable opponent. Its stats aren’t super impressive nor are its attacks, but it’s incredibly resilient and able to teleport and heal itself while in garbage-rich environments. Needless to say fighting it in a landfill is asking for trouble, and that’s just the kind of place it likes to hang out most of the time, for just that reason. It’s smart enough to know where its advantages lie and patient enough to wait for its enemies to be in just the right position before striking them down.

The adventure hook has the PCs staking out an arms dealer who also happens to be a shut-in. When several days go by with no activity, they storm the place only to find him dead in the midst of his awful trash house. The circumstances lead them to the rumors of the Litterman, a trash collector turned serial killer, but they eventually realize something paranormal is actually occurring. They trace it back to a trash barge, but the hook legit notes that the PCs might not really have a good reason to do anything but take up recycling at this point because Litterman has a point.

Verdict: Love this guy, he’d be a good combat encounter without being stupid overpowered and also he’s a sensible extension of the idea of an elemental and the poo poo state that humans often leave places in.

Living Dead:



A super boring entry that I guess needed to be done or they’d have people upset there weren’t rules for zombies. I don’t really even want to talk about this much, they’re zombies and they work the way you’d expect zombies to pretty much. They’re caused by a disease and getting bitten by them can cause you to catch that disease, which if it kills you will cause you to also become a zombie. The disease itself is actually a lot less threatening than you’d expect from a zombie plague, it’s totally survivable (which is probably why there’s never been a massive world ending zombie outbreak in the setting). Certainly the disease from The Killing Jar was WAY more deadly. Nobody’s sure where the disease comes from, ooh enigmatic whatever zombies are dull as loving dirt even when this was written and now they’re dull as the dirt below that dirt.

The adventure hook is what you probably think it is.

Verdict: They could have done so much better with this, an original take on zombies at least would have been tolerable but this is just straight bad.

Machine Intelligence:



We already had the ‘consciousness uploaded to the internet’, now let’s have a machine AI. It’s an AI with more intelligence than we’ve actually been able to do and realistic capabilities with respect to using that intelligence. You obviously don’t ‘fight’ a thing like that because it’s a bunch of inanimate objects somewhere.

The adventure hook is pretty long and actually kind of okay, a government agency accidentally created a much better AI than they were trying to and its creator is trying to help it escape (it’s going to be shut down). It’s learned of an alchemic process that could allow its consciousness to be transferred into an object to escape from the facility it’s kept in to the internet. The codex they need is held in a government warehouse and it’s up to the PCs to acquire it. How well the whole thing works out is further left up to the GM.

Verdict: Not bad, not amazing. At least it’s not a bunch of dark enlightenment AI stuff.

Martin Hammond:



Martin Hammond is a dude who one day woke up and realized he can explode things by shouting at them. He learned he could do this after a drunk driver hit his car then left his wife to die rather than help, at which point Hammond annihilated him by shouting “Why didn’t you help me?” He managed to escape being tried for the murder of the driver but he may not manage to escape a CIA department who wants to use his powers to assassinate people. He mostly just wants to be left alone, which seems very unlikely.

Hammond has a Super Power FX from the guide to FX, effectively an energy blast. Otherwise he’s a normal person.

He’s got an adventure hook that puts the heroes in the middle of his conflict with the CIA agent who’s trying to recruit him. They’re investigating something that turns out to be him trying to control his ability while acting as a night watchman for a quarry. The CIA dude will contact them after a bit and suggest that Hammond is an assassin they should help him apprehend. Who they believe and side with and what they do is pretty much up to them at this point.

Verdict: In principle a super hero, in practice as you’d expect in the ‘real’ world having super powers sucks rear end. A great ‘template’ if you want to bring that sort of concept into a Dark*Matter game even if you don’t use him.

Mutant, Series VII



Series VII Mutants are the result of human genetic engineering. They’re a US Government experiment intended to take advantage of technology the Greys provided the Kennedy administration because why not just mash every loving thing together at once. Whatever they’re using can actually cause people to develop and manifest mutations as adults, and Series VII Mutants all began as normal people.

Series VII Mutants are not in fact X-Men or something. They’re pretty much just humans, except with no teeth and unusually large eyes. In return, they get somewhat enhanced senses, resistance to radiation, and occasionally an additional mutation that is not part of the normal slate. There’s no specific entry on using them as a PC race but you totally could, since they’re again just humans with a set of mutations that I’m pretty sure balance each other in points.

The adventure hook has a PC’s sister briefly disappear during a camping trip before being found at the bottom of a ravine with no memory of where she’s been in the interim. MiBs start following her and her home and phone are bugged. An old lady shows up and tells them they’re in terrible danger and then conveniently a sniper nearly kills the sister. She claims to be connected to an effort to help the victims of this experimentation and that the sister is now part of it, but may or may not be on the level.

Verdict: Mutations that don’t grant you super powers are also cool frankly I’m down with these guys.

Next Time: Things that could have fit in other sections about in Extratemporals.

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:

My impression with Cthulhutech above and beyond its obvious problems with a fascination with secret rape clubs, is that they were not into "the Lovecraft Mythos work and its immediate heirs and neighbors," they were into "the Cthulhu RPGs," along with a pretty distinguishable period of anime - basically, the anime you'd see in the college anime club on fansubbed VHS tapes, or seen on television in the case of Robotech. (Their weird space-drow were an obvious piss-take of the Zentraedi, but without the cultural overtones of the ones from Macross.)
I think you're right, and I should have been able to spot it immediately. First, I've read enough Chaosium anthologies that I can immediately tell when a story is more inspired by the Call of Cthulhu franchise shared universe than by weird fiction. Second, I can immediately tell when a cyberpunk game is inspired by Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed, Bubblegum Crisis, and nothing that doesn't have tanks and mecha in it.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

Freaking Crumbum posted:

thank you so much for finishing this; I really enjoyed reading your review! Fantasy 2 is definitely the most bug-gently caress gonzo setting I've ever encountered that also had internally consistent logic and mechanics and wasn't just an obvious outlet for the author's sexual kinks.

it still seems like it suffers from "what do you actually DO here?" syndrome, and I enjoyed that you attempted to show off potential plot hooks for an adventure while you were reviewing the madlander culture. FWIW I think the best kind of adventure you could run would be to play heroes from the other nations that all get sent to the madlands for some macguffin and then get to have all the weird poo poo unfold without also having to be shackled to the weirdly confining roles that actual madlanders are allowed to fulfill.

:blush:

Yeah, this thing really shows the signs of being Robin D. Laws's setting baby that just happened to get picked up by a publisher (apparently that's actually what happened; I think Alien Rope Burn said something about that earlier on in the thread). Because it's Robin D. Laws, it escaped the traps most setting babies fall into. The most frustrating thing about the Madlands is that it's so dangerous RAW that outsiders will get gibbed without the support of the Madlanders, the Madlanders are xenophobic enough that said outsiders can't trust them for advice, and all magic they might use will go awry. It's just ludicrously hostile.

For me, the best option would be using the standard GURPS 4th Edition setting, Infinite Worlds; the idea of that setting's technologically advanced, compulsively curious culture clashing against Madlander xenophobia and knowledge would be an interesting background for adventures. Or it would be, if it didn't come into existence years after this book :v:. Still, seeing if Madlands gods cans stand up to rocket launchers sounds like a great time :black101:

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


NOTE FOR NOTE – PART 1

Wherein the investigators learn of a darkness that has spread over this vibrant city, and the investigators locate the Torso during a less than hilarious night at the opera.

stupid poo poo-rear end motherfucker

As I mentioned upthread, Horrient is very railroady and doesn't give players a lot of options. I think this kinda balances out when the scenario is like, good.

Note For Note is not a good scenario.



The Brotherhood of Skin has a strong foothold in Milan. The head of the local chapter is businessman Arturo Faccia, who was specifically recruited by Selim to draw in rich and influential members. Faccia is obsessed with the idea of locating the Simulacrum piece that was lost in the city, and as he grows older he's starting to lose it. He now believes as gospel truth an old superstition that singing an aria at the La Scala opera house grants one their heart's fondest desire.

To that end, Faccia recruited Flavio Conti to kidnap Caterina Cavollaro, who you'll remember as the young soprano who befriended the investigators on their first night on the Express. Conti was dying from tuberculosis, and it was a simple matter of switching his diseased lungs with those of unionist Ennio Spinola (using new spell Transfer Organ) to secure Conti's loyalty. Faccia then used Transfer Organ on himself to give himself Cavollaro's vocal cords, after which he warped her beyond recognition with Control Skin. He has tickets for the opening night of the Aida and plans to sing the aria along with Cavollaro's understudy, while Cavollaro herself has gone insane.

All of this happens before the investigators get to the city, by the way – there's no way to save Cavollaro. In fact, there's pretty much nothing the investigators can actually do to get at Faccia or the Simulacrum piece before the climax of the scenario.

Anyway.

Bash The Fash

This is the first of three scenarios set in Fascist Italy. Travelling in Italy at this time presents a bunch of new problems for investigators. For starters, firearms laws are far stricter than anything they've dealt with so far; carrying firearms of any kind on your person requires a licenza that is not available to non-residents (hope the party's designated bagman is Italian). Customs will have a reason to hassle the investigators about practically everything they own. In addition, Blackshirts can be seen on every street, taking notes and pushing people around. On the upside, the value of the lire has plummeted to the extent that each pound is worth over L100.



That said, Note For Note totally fails to utilise the time period in any way. The other two scenarios do a decent-to-good job of depicting life under Fascism, Note For Note pretty much lets investigators walk away with murder.

The citizens of Milan seem to all be suffering some kind of depression. This is more than just living under Mussolini – the Torso of the Simulacrum has been in the city for years and its Baleful Influence is affecting everyone. The shocking disappearance of Cavollaro is just one more blow to the hearts of the populace. She was last seen leaving the train station and getting into a black Alfa Romeo RL; the rumour going around is that she's run away with an old flame. Police are desperate to hear from anyone with more information about her disappearance.

This scenario immediately runs into problems because when the PCs get here they literally don't have any leads on the Simulacrum whatsoever. Literally none – the only thing they know is that someone probably sold it here, but they don't know to whom or where to even start looking. There are three main things to do in Milan: hunt Cavollaro, look into Spinola's death or go sightseeing. loving none of those things have anything to do with the Simulacrum, nor will they get the investigators any closer to that goal. Can I also just say this scenario is a nightmare to read? With the previous scenarios I've just been paraphrasing what the book says but for Milan I actually have to stop and reorganise the poo poo into an order that makes sense.

Let's start with sightseeing.



Say Your Prayers

As promised, Cavollaro has booked luxurious rooms for the investigators in central Milan. There's shelves full of books in the rooms, and a guide to the sights of Milan will inform them about the legend of singing an aria at La Scala. From there, the next place where anything actually happens is the Il Duomo cathedral, which is full of worshippers lighting votive candles and praying for the safe return of Cavollaro. A particularly devout priest insists on giving them a tour that ends with a tearful rant about the evil, corrupting influence of the La Scala. Go off I guess.

Among the locals are three elderly women, all in black and weeping. They're among those lighting candles for Cavollaro. They are in fact three costume designers from the La Scala; if the priest's rant is mentioned to them (in Italian, none of them speak English), they glance at each other and cross themselves. The book recommends giving the investigators a Know roll to notice the crazy coincidence that one crosses the torso. The thing is, why question them at all? If they were the only people with votives for Cavollaro I could understand why the investigators would be interested in them, but clearly they're not. The only reason they're special is because the writer knows they are.

As they're about to leave, they find an old man on his hands and knees, clearly looking for something. He is startled if they offer to help him, causing a jar to fall out of his pocket and shatter on the ground. It's full of dead butterflies and moths. The man hurries away while a chameleon emerges to avail itself of the insect feast. Trying to chase either of them leads the priests to try to restrain the investigators, because honestly I would be pretty pissed off too if rich tourists were chasing lizards in my church. The chameleon quickly slips away.

On their first night in Milan, the investigators hear singing in the streets as they're going to bed. They recognise it immediately as the aria from the Aida, and it's Cavollaro's voice singing it. If they hit the streets they're not the only ones; other people and even police are searching for the source of the voice echoing through the alleys. A Listen roll guides them down a particular alley, at which point they're distracted by a scuttling sound. Spot Hidden reveals the same chameleon they saw earlier, regarding the investigators as if they were flies. It darts away if they go for it. After that encounter, the sounds of singing eventually stop.

The man is Faccia, and the chameleon is his pet. Chameleon saliva is a key component to the Transfer Organ spell – must have been frustrating for Sedefkar to try and figure that one out. Faccia is warming up for his big night at the opera. I actually like the creepy reoccurring chameleon as a piece of atmosphere. It might be the only good thing in the whole loving scenario.

Next time: bullshit motherfucking fucker

Down With People fucked around with this message at 04:25 on Dec 20, 2017

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Falconier111 posted:

Yeah, this thing really shows the signs of being Robin D. Laws's setting baby that just happened to get picked up by a publisher (apparently that's actually what happened; I think Alien Rope Burn said something about that earlier on in the thread). Because it's Robin D. Laws, it escaped the traps most setting babies fall into. The most frustrating thing about the Madlands is that it's so dangerous RAW that outsiders will get gibbed without the support of the Madlanders, the Madlanders are xenophobic enough that said outsiders can't trust them for advice, and all magic they might use will go awry. It's just ludicrously hostile.

Well, the setting is more or less focused around Madlanders, and everybody else is a bunch of relative weirdos designed to make things complicated. Though some of the outside societies are interesting, I think they'd need a bit more detail and structure to actually be played. For better or for worse, it's a setting that's very much the inverse of D&D, since the goal of a Madlander is to have a peaceful life with a prosperous village. It's not to seek money, power, or conflict; those things may come, but they inevitably bring disaster. Of course, it's up to any GM to basically inject that disaster into the game and ensure that the players end up on an adventure whether they like it or not, but it's a game that directly undermines most of the power fantasies you see in most fantasy games. Magic is bad, conflict is deadly, and the gods are anything but trustworthy.

Also, just to quote myself and make sure I got the facts straight-

Alien Rope Burn posted:

While at GenCon I got to talk to Robin Laws about the origins of GURPS Fantasy II: Mad Lands. Apparently it was originally a game he ran using a homebrew system that would be a predecessor to HeroQuest (the Glorantha game, not Milton Bradley) that he had no intention of putting over to a publisher, but he did write it up for Alarums and Excursions (the RPG APA, not the play). Apparently Steve Jackson read up about it and liked it so much he approached Laws about doing it as a GURPS book, but Robin said he never actually used GURPS for it. He agreed that Hillfolk was probably a good system for it but said he never had any trouble running it with a more conventional system.

(Hillfolk was and is my suggested system for any Mad Lands game, for context.)

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

Falconier111 posted:

Hey Inklesspen? Are you still reading this thread? If so, do you remember my magnum opus? And what you said when I asked you included it in your archive for posterity?





:v:

You magnificent bastard!

U.T. Raptor
May 11, 2010

Are you a pack of imbeciles!?

Skellybones posted:

Maybe the alu-fiends deserted the War because they rejected the social norms of not only their homeland but all the Lower Planes. They're lawful demons because they want to and nobody can say otherwise :colbert:
I too have played Disgaea 3.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


HeroQuest is a wonderful system to run almost anything in, but it requires some GM work to score and manage challenges and a lot of flexibility.

Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010


Considering Rose Wilder was a libertarian and a big fan of Hitler, that's not as big a contrast as the book seems to think it is.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


Why is the villain hunting for bugs in a cathedral?

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

Kavak posted:

Why is the villain hunting for bugs in a cathedral?

He's not hunting for them, he keeps them on his person to feed his chameleon. As for why he's in the cathedral in the first place, the book simply states that he likes to climb up to the roof and spend literally hours staring out over the city.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

So there's literally no reason to have this encounter unless someone after all the dumb bullshit that's happened to them so far decides that now is a good time to act like a normal tourist.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

Ratoslov posted:

So there's literally no reason to have this encounter unless someone after all the dumb bullshit that's happened to them so far decides that now is a good time to act like a normal tourist.

Literally no reason at all.

Oh to introduce Faccia I guess but then he doesn't reappear or interact with the investigators in any way until the climax of the scenario.

Down With People fucked around with this message at 04:17 on Dec 20, 2017

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

Down With People posted:

Oh to introduce Faccia I guess but then he doesn't reappear or interact with the investigators in any way until the climax of the scenario.

So it's entirely possible for the adventurers to miss the introduction of the villian to the scenario because they make the perfectly rational decision to button down and get straight to buisness rather than gently caress around in Fascist Italy? So the climax of the adventure just shows up out of nowhere to gently caress them up with no buildup or anything?

This is a terrible adventure.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


Their business of... what, exactly? They have no clues to the Simulacrum bits' location like the past two stops, and while it's likely they'll look into the singer's disappearance, it's not a sure thing -and- it doesn't give them anything to go on there either!

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed

U.T. Raptor posted:

I too have played Disgaea 3.

I liked the "We are Rebel Demons, so naturally we have to do good deeds and follow all the rules. Yesterday I did some community service and donated blood I am such a badass"

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

Ratoslov posted:

So it's entirely possible for the adventurers to miss the introduction of the villian to the scenario because they make the perfectly rational decision to button down and get straight to buisness rather than gently caress around in Fascist Italy? So the climax of the adventure just shows up out of nowhere to gently caress them up with no buildup or anything?

This is a terrible adventure.

As Kavak said, they have no business, only three unrelated sidequests (well, two sidequests and some tourism). None of them coalesce into something that will give them the Torso either. The way the scenario is written, there's no rewards for diligence or good investigating, just more script to follow. There's other parts of the campaign which are similar in terms of not giving the players much agency, but they tend to be really cool to make up for it. In Note For Note there's just nothing worth doing.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee

MonsterEnvy posted:

I liked the "We are Rebel Demons, so naturally we have to do good deeds and follow all the rules. Yesterday I did some community service and donated blood I am such a badass"
I appreciate the idea of a demonic Fonz who always wears a leather jacket... and a helmet. Gotta set an example for the kids, ya'know?

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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

Run Milan later in the game and encourage the players to eat tiramisu, gelato and fine coffee to regain sanity at the cost of drawing the attention of black shirts out to make examples of decadent foreigners who swoop in and guzzle down food meant for hard-working Italians (who can on paper actually afford to eat such things under fascist rule so...they might just be mad you're dipping into their dessert stocks).

How does the torso fit in? Well. Uh. Food goes into the torso. Make it work somehow.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

Hostile V posted:

How does the torso fit in? Well. Uh. Food goes into the torso. Make it work somehow.

Investigators all trying to spoon feed the Torso like it's a baby.

I guarantee you a common thread between everyone who's owned the completed Simualcrum is they've all at one point or another propped it up in a chair and tried to feed it.

Down With People fucked around with this message at 06:47 on Dec 20, 2017

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


NOTE FOR NOTE – PART 2

man gently caress this guy


The book assumes that the investigators liked Cavollaro enough that they'll be interested in taking up the investigation themselves. Heaven help you if they don't give a poo poo about her. Since they're staying at the same hotel as she was supposed to, it's easy to find her entourage. Her maid Ysabel flat out refuses to believe the rumour that she's hooking up with an ex, since performing at La Scala meant the world to her. The only reason she'd break schedule is if it was opera-related, like if she wanted to meet up with a patron. Today's newspaper just so happens to mention the return of opera patron Flavio Conti to high society following his miraculous recovery from tuberculosis.

If the investigators contact the pigs there's a protest going on in front of the station. Workers bear signs reading JUSTICE FOR ENNIO SPINOLA, whose body has yet to be returned to his family – the workers believe he was killed by fascists. As for Cavollaro, the cops haven't been able to find any sign of her and will actually welcome help from the investigators. While they're there, impressing or bribing the cops will let them meet up with the detective in charge of the Spinola case. He mentions an interesting discovery: going off the autopsy, Spinola was suffering heavily from tuberculosis, something that should be impossible considering that he was still working in a factory.

If the investigators want to look at the crime scene, angry workers (and probably the detective too) can show them the place. A little B&E takes the investigators to a warehouse where an open space has been prepared. In the middle is a stone slab covered in bloodstains – strangely, it looks like there were two bodies lying side by side. Spot Hidden reveals strange tracks in the blood, Natural World identifies them as chameleon prints. The owner of the warehouse is Conti Machine Parts. You can see where this is all going.



Take A Deep Breath

Conti's address is in the Milan directory. His apartment has an Alfa Romeo RL in the garage.

Conti is a thin, frail-looking man in his fifties. Tuberculosis was about to do him in, but with his new lungs he feels invigorated. He has the windows to his apartment open at all times for the sheer novelty of being able to breathe the air. But even as he revels in his new health, he's under a lot of stress. He wasn't expecting the fuss that Cavollaro's disappearance caused. In addition, he's become intimately acquainted with the supernatural in the past week and is kinda being forced to join a cult. While he tries to cope with initiation into the ways of skin, he hasn't left his apartment in days.

The book's vague on how they can actually meet Conti. The way it's written, I assume they'll be shown right to his study when they come knocking. His shirt is partially unbuttoned, a Spot Hidden roll gives glimpses of fresh scarring. Despite the vigorous energy he displays, a Psychology roll with a bonus die reveals that he's a bundle of nerves this close to a breakdown. On top of all this, Conti is packing heat; he greets any visitors at his desk with the drawer opened – he's got a loaded revolver in there. If the investigators press too closely, he panics and fires. Conti's extremely low on health and will probably die if the investigators shoot back. He dies staring at his blood in amazement: 'I cannot die...a Brother of the Skin...lives...forever…' Searching his body reveals the extent of the scarring around where the lungs should be; coming to the conclusion that an impossible transplant took place costs 0/1D4 SAN. Searching Conti's desk reveals an Orient Express timetable with the Milan arrival time circled. His most recent business contact is Faccia.

If they take him alive or prove his guilt to the cops, nothing can make Conti implicate Faccia. He knows what will happen if he does.

There is no mention of dealing with the possibility of the investigators being charged with Conti's murder. I thought Conti had some housekeepers or something, but I guess they just let the team walk away?

The scenario mentions in passing the possibility of tracking Faccia to his mansion. 'Keepers may wish to stage a showdown there', the book notes. The problem with this is that if you want to do that, you're on your own. There's a comprehensive multi-floor map for the La Scala in the book, but you're hosed if you want anything but a vague description of where Faccia might be. What's worse is that he's not even there, he's 'more likely' hiding in one of his warehouses for some loving reason. You're going to have to create reams of new material if you want an encounter with Faccia before opera night.

Note For Note is so bad it railroads the gamemaster.



Opera Is A Dying Art Form For Stupid Old People

I'm gonna try and keep this short. In addition to the theatre's obvious connection with Cavollaro, there's vague hints dropped throughout the scenario that the Torso might be in the La Scala. It is.

Getting backstage is just a matter of Fast Talking the security, but the backstage area is chaotic. The cast and crew are distraught as anyone by Cavollaro's disappearance but are also rushing around trying to get the opera ready for the big night. Things get more surreal as they try to navigate their way through the costumes, props and scenery; eventually a Hard Luck roll is necessary to prevent them from getting lost. If they do, they must roll for SAN 0/1 'to resist the idea that their search has no significance or importance, that the theatre is reality, and that illusion is the goal to which all activity is directed.'

To which the only appropriate response is: it's just the loving backstage area. Sanity is supposed to be a big deal in CoC, you can't just ding people just because they find themselves in a frustrating (but otherwise totally mundane) situation or you water down the whole concept. You gonna start making people lose Sanity when they stub their toe? This is a cute sequence but it's the work of someone who's high on their own supply; author Bernard Caleo clearly has a great passion for opera but I loving don't and if you're going to write a Mythos-infused opera story you have to do a drat sight better than this poo poo. As is, I can't get past how wanky the writing is here. This whole scenario reads like someone's first draft.

This is the second time it's been published!



Anyway, maybe one way or another they find the music director who confirms that the theatre knows nothing about Cavollaro's performance. He'll grant limited permission to the investigators to stroll around hassling his staff. The secret to the Torso lies with the costume department, the same one that the old lady trio belong to. The department has long suffered the 'costumier's curse' and has been unable to keep any costume designer for longer than three months. It emerges that whoever purchased the Torso years ago didn't understand its true value and it has been used as a costume dummy ever since. The three old ladies say that the thing was creepy but costumes designed on it always fit perfectly. The problem is the department doesn't have the Torso right now; it's somewhere in the lower levels.

The book states very clearly that the Torso cannot be found before someone comes along and throws the investigators out. No location is listed, even for the keeper's benefit. The investigators are simply not allowed to have the Torso before opera night.

Next time: come on baby take me home

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



On the Nth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
Nine Outsiders trading
Eight dolphins dolphing
Seven kzinti leapin'
Six organs legging
FIVE GOLDEN



We return with discussion of the City Builders.

This hominid race built cities, as one might expect; more notable is that they built cities that floated in the air. Their culture, or something recognizable as their culture, spread across half the surface of the Ring, despite individual centers of City Builder civilization occasionally being as far from one another as the Earth is from the Moon. They cooperated with dozens of other hominids, and built great works as well as spreading and mingling culture in their great cities. Images of City Builders are cognate with images of gods or angelic beings for many hominids, and it is possible that the City Builders reached the worlds of Known Space, because - somewhat short-sightedly - they jury-rigged the Ringworld's attitude jets into motors for interstellar spacecraft.

In addition to greatly facilitating the intermingling of cultures and probably being imperialistic bastards even if the raw, staggering scope of the Ringworld meant that it would be hard for almost any boot to rest hard, the City Builders caused problems. An obvious one is that they scavenged the attitude jets of their entire megastructural habitat for spaceships. (In their defense, the Ringworld presents challenges to technological civilization... and the City Builders couldn't meet the Outsiders.) They deliberately spread "vampires," a hominid species using pheromones to lure and prey on other hominids - they extracted those pheromones, in part for their other "invention," the formal conducting of sex between different hominid species, for whatever purpose. While this practice probably was not invented by the City Builders, they sure as hell formalized "rishathra" and spread it across their empire.

You will notice the use of the past tense for the City Builders. While the City Builders are not extinct, an event known as "the Fall of Cities" spread throughout the Ringworld about 1200 years prior to the present day of the setting. (So around 1750 AD.) This caused a breakdown in their magnetic levitation technology, leading to - well - the fall of cities. At a stroke nearly all their works were set to naught, although there may still be City Builder ships or colonies well out there on some unknown planet.

One might, at this point, fairly ask: Okay, but why does this matter? The answer is that City Builder ruins are huge and widespread across the Ringworld, and bear vast quantities of various forms of wealth - technological secrets! Unique alien art! Wonders beyond understanding! Things that made 29th century humans befoul themselves in astonishment! In other words, they are adventure hooks.


too soon. :911:

The City Builder species is not extinct, although they have not made efforts to restore their cities beyond landscaping the ruins in areas where they have remained. (It is possible that attempts were made in the past, and failed.) Survivors often have access to automatic and electromagnetic weapon that was not destroyed in the Fall of the Cities, and are not eager to share. For that matter, the wreckage of the cities can hold all sorts of weird-rear end Stalker-esque technological oddities; a mere sample is the cziltang brone, a device the City Builders used to "soften" matter so that other objects could slide through it. Imagine one that's poorly calibrated and just... running. Somewhere. In the ruins.

City Builders can be played if you want. A City Builder joined the crew in the first Ringworld novel; her name, Halrloprillalar, is apparently a typical example of the species. City Builders are similar statistically to humans but have a 4D6 POW roll (probably how they kept going so long) and 3D6+9 DEX, perhaps because they have realized the underlying physical substrate of mechanical action. They can know any skill, with the exception of Hyperdrive Pilot: they had access to an immortality drug, comparable to (if incompatible with!) boosterspice, and they had it for much longer.

They are also very smug and probably had the superconductor plague coming to them.

Did we not mention this? Well, in the GM's section, you get the whole story - at least according to this version of events. (Later Niven novels may have changed things around.) Around the same time that the colony of Georgia was founded on the eastern seaboard of the United States, the Puppeteers - who had bought the location of the Ringworld off the Outsiders - deposited a technologically voracious bacteria throughout the Ringworld that fed on a superconducting material that was key to City Builder infrastructure. The plan was to send in trading ships to scavenge up in the aftermath and, perhaps, take on the "role" that the City Builders had held, but political shifts on the Fleet of Worlds prevented that from actually happening, and the Puppeteers remembered the Ringworld in the aftermath of other events. Probably.

This plague caused vast ecological upsets throughout the Ringworld, because it fed on infrastructural elements predating the City Builders as well as the infrastructure they themselves built. The City Builder survivors theorize some kind of alien attack or a microbe that they brought back from another world. It is unknown if the bacterium still exists on the Ringworld; it feeds on only one of the four kinds of superconductors humanity knows about... but it may have mutated. Visitors are warned to be careful. Double-bag your gear.

Next time we'll ride through the remaining hominids, who, other than the Ghouls, are less lootable - in many ways they are adventure hooks in their own right. On the other hand, they have way more illustrations!

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5