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Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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

Covok posted:

The intent is for emphasis: the words that the speaker stresses when speaking.

That makes the bolding in this particular case even more bizarre. Try saying that sentence out loud with those words emphasized.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Random bolding is actually sort of a tradition in comics, I think originally it just resulted from letterers not being super great, back in like the 30s, and then it just...kept happening. IIRC it most often happens with hand-lettered stuff.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
It works in most comics because good writers don't try and emphasize four points in a single sentence.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Psionic Artifacts of Athas

So, I mainly reviewed Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs as a prelude to this book. You'll see why once we get to the latter half. For those who don't know, back in 2e there was a product called the Book of Artifacts, basically a big collection of the most high-powered magic items around, the kind you build campaigns around. The Book of Artifacts was, from what I recall, not too bad other than a tendency to copy-paste artifacts directly from existing campaign settings with absolutely no explanation or preparation, such as a cutlass from Spelljammer or the psychometrion, an item from Dark Sun, and an odd decision that pretty much every Artifact should have some powers that are rolled randomly. Because what's a TSR era book without some random tables?

It also had a cover featuring an excellent example of the very fine line between "awe" and "duuuurr"



But anyway....Psionic Artifacts of Athas is basically a version of the Book of Artifacts designed exclusively for the Dark Sun setting. It's not quite clear why they felt that Dark Sun needed its own...I love the setting but the place isn't exactly overflowing with magic items. In fact a good chunk of the items are taken from the Prism Pentad novels, and most are not actually psionic. Perhaps realizing that they didn't have enough material to turn this into a full book they introduced something even weirder: life-shaped artifacts! What are those? You'll see.


Before getting into the actual contents lets take a look at this cover too and all remember the good old days when Brom did the cover art for Dark Sun. Those covers may not have always made sense, but they were cool.



So, lets take a look at the guy on the center. After reading the book you'll realize he's actually sporting a couple of artifacts from inside...at least theoretically because its also clear the artist didn't get a great description. The flaming sword is the Schorcher (sister sword to the Silencer from the book of artifacts) and that weird looking arm is probably the Arm of Radu, Dark Sun's answer to the hand of vecna. By the way, if you're wondering what the hell is wrong with his forehead...I'm not sure either. It might be some kind of life-shaped graft, but it certainly doesn't look anything like the grafts described in the book.

The fellow on the right side is being loomed over by something that is probably the Centennial Brain and flashing us his sexy calves.

If you're wondering why the guy on the left looks so much more badass and better drawn than the other two, its because he's actually been copy-pasted from a Brom piece, the back cover for the Cerulean Storm novel.


There he is, looking like the drummer in a rock band that plays weapons instead of instruments


So, lets check out the contents:

First we get an intro that tells us what artifacts are, how awesome and powerful they are, etc. It also mentions the artifacts that showed up in the Book of Artifacts: The Obsidian Man of Urik, The Silencer of Bodach, the Rod of Teeth and the Psychometrion of Nerid. It says that these artifacts were intentionally left out of this book to leave "more room" for new material. Normally this would be acceptable but actually reading the book makes it clear that its desperately hurting for actual page-count. It's only a 128 page paperback and only about 40 of those pages are dedicated to actual artifacts. It really sucks because the items in the Book of Artifacts were all very cool and flavorful and the book is desperately missing that. The Silencer in particular shares a close relationship with two of the other artifacts in the book, making its absence particularly notable.

And with that we jump into the artifacts.



The Belt of Kings

This is basically the artifact-level version of the magic item "the Belt of Dwarvenkind". It is a big leather belt decorated with gold and silver with a scary demon-face belt-buckle. It fits anyone between a Dwarf up to a Mul and is an ancient symbol of dwarfishness in Athas, from back when Dwarves actually had their own culture and kingdoms before the Sorcerer-Kings destroyed them in the Cleansing Wars. It was created by dwarven clerics and (despite the name) commonly worn by Dwarven generals and heroes. The final rightful wearer of the belt was Rkard, the last Dwarven King who fought and was slain by, one of the Champions of Rajaat: Borys of Ebe.

The belt is from one of the Prism Pentad books where it was given to one of the main characters for a special mission and then it was returned to the Dwarves of Kled where it is guarded by the spirits of past wearers.

The belt gives any dwarf wearing it a Charisma of 18 (non-dwarves get +4 to reaction bonuses towards Dwarves...unless they stole the belt, all dwarves know instantly if the belt is stolen on sight). All non-magical missiles are drawn to its invincible belt-buckle and inflict no damage to the wearer and the wearer gets the benefits of a ring of free action. The biggest bonus is that the wearer can draw on the battle-knowledge that has accumulated in the belt. Warriors fight as though they were 4 levels higher and non-warriors fight as though they were warriors of equal level. The wearer also gains proficiency in any weapon they wish.

The belt's curse is that if the wearer ever unjustly takes the life of a dwarf the belt will immediately constrict to a diameter of 4 inches...crushing the wearer to death. Should the wearer survive or be Raised then anyone else wearing the belt will feel a compulsion to find and kill them.

To destroy the belt it must be submerged in the blood of 100 murdered dwarves.

The Dark Lens



The Prism Pentad books made the Dark Lens (along with the Pristine Tower) more or less the number one most powerful artifact of Athas. The Lens is the masterpiece of Rajaat, big ugly-pants father of magic himself. The lens is a polished egg-shaped orb of obsidian described as being "about the size of a small kank". That has to be one of the least helpful descriptions ever, considering a normal-sized kank is the size of a large horse or cow. The lens apparently weighs about 170 pounds so...maybe about the size of a person? Who here knows the density of obsidian?

The raw power of the lens can be felt through intense heat that radiates from its surface. It was meant to serve as an amplifier for Rajaats massive magical and psionic powers and it was used in the creation of other powerful artifacts, namely the three swords: the Silencer, The Scourge and the Scorcher. After Rajaat's champions turned on him they used the Lens to imprison Rajaat in a pocket dimension called The Hollow.

Then apparently they put it down someplace else and had a nap because the ultimate magical artifact to end all magical artifacts was then stolen by two dwarves. Wha-wha-whaaaaa. These two dwarves somehow stole the lens out from under the nose of the most powerful beings on the planet then took it and hid it in a "crystal pit" that they created...somehow and for some reason none of the sorcerer kings felt the need to look for it. After the two dwarves died attempting to protect the lens from a tribe of giants they rose as banshees and continue to guard it after death. Then a couple more tribes of giants showed up and the dwarven banshees apparently decided that they'd trick these giants into worshipping the Lens, ensuring they would guard it. The giants called it the Oracle and protected it until it was taken by two protagonists from the novels.

Man, the Prism Pentad was pretty loving stupid.

The Dark Lens is one of those artifacts that is just plain too powerful. I mean, that's kind of the point of artifacts but normally they're not so overwhelmingly powerful that a team of plucky heroes couldn't manage to overcome them. But the Lens is one of those that, in the hands of your enemies, means that anyone who tries to fight is doomed and in the hands of the PCs it turns everything into a cakewalk (not to mention getting the party wizard or psionicist to actually give up the thing later on).

The artifact is only usuable by psionicists (although its meant to be used by multi-classed psionicist/wizards like the Sorcerer Kings and Rajaat himself). First you have to use the psionic power contact to link with the Lens (-4 penalty) while touching the lens. Every round the user fails to make contact they suffer 1d10 damage from the heat of the lens but once contact is made the damage stops. The Lens contains 500 Psionic Power Points that can be tapped to fuel the Lens' powers and these points get restored every 24 hours. The user can also use their own PSPs to activate it should they exhaust the Lens.

The Lens acts as a Rod of Absorption and converts all magic it absorbs into PSPs (5 PSPs per level of the spell) and it lets the user use any psionic science or discipline that they know, have studied or seen used. It can also amplify magical power multiplying all elements of any spell cast through the Lens by 10. For perspective this means a 5th level wizard's fireball would inflict 50d6 damage, fill an area of 400 feet in diameter and having a range of 600 yards. Even a single Magic Missile from a first level wizard would inflict an unavoidable 10d4+10 damage. Oh, and saves against these spells are at -3.

Those with the Lens can use its powers to simply create creatures, manifesting them as an act of will. The creatures cannot have more HD than the user and have only mundane abilities: no magic or psionic powers. This can be done 3 times per day and lasts for an hour. Four times per day the user can alter their form as per Polymorph...this is indefinite unless the effect is dispelled, the user wills it to end or their psychic contact with the Lens is severed.

The Lens also has some random powers: while traveling across the silt sea the user will never be attacked by monsters, the user will not be attacked by undead and is always protected by a Mind Blank spell. Plus some actually random powers, rolled on the Immunities, Protection and Fate & Fortune.

The curse of the dark lens is a 1% per use (cumulative) that they develop meglomania, believing the lens makes them invincible (they aren't far off frankly), complete unwillingness to be separated from the lens and a possible lust for world domination.

There is no suggested means of destruction so long as the sorcerer-kings and Rajaat himself exist in any form.


Heart(s) of the Drake

Just think, someone got paid for drawing these.

Finally, an artifact (or set in this case) that isn't somehow tied into the horrible metaplot from the Prism Pentad. The Heart of the Drake (which really should be called Hearts of the Drakes I suppose) are a set of four artifacts which are the petrified hearts of elemental drakes imbued with incredible elemental powers. Well, moderate elemental powers, they're among the least impressive artifacts.

The hearts were created by a druid about 1,000 years ago to try and defeat the sorcerer-kings. Believing that the drake's hearts contained the creature's connection to the elemental plane and the source of their power the druid spent decades hunting one of each drake species and performing a lengthy magical project to turn them into artifacts by gathering items of power and ancient pieces of elemental magic. Then he died of a heart attack at the age of 78 right when he finished. Wha-Wha-Whaaaaaah.

No one even knew about this druid's goals or his creations until a wandering elf stumbled upon the cave where he lived and pilfered everything that looked valuable (assuming the hearts to be some kind of carving). Since then the hearts have passed through the hands of nobles and collectors until a few years ago when the Fire Drake heart came into the hands of a Dwarven fire-cleric who discovered its power. She then went on a quest for the other hearts after learning of their existence. However she mysteriously disappeared shortly thereafter, along with the Fire heart.

On top of the druid's ignomious death the Hearts are not nearly strong enough to serve his purpose: they're powerful but not "topple a sorcerer-king" powerful. This isn't from the novels so it isn't allowed to kill sorcerer-kings like they were chumps.

Each heart must be activated by anointing them in a piece of their element: sprinkling the earth heart with dirt, pouring water on the water heart, putting the fire heart in a campfire, and holding the air heart aloft under the open sky. This must be done once per day to keep their powers going.

All the hearts share a power in common: while holding the heart you are invisible to elemental drakes of the heart's type so long as you do not do something to harm the drake. For some reason (probably bad editing) the Earth and Water drake hearts say the hearts make you immune to the earth and water based attacks of the corresponding drake, but the Air and Fire hearts don't have such a statement. However all other powers of the heart fail against Drakes of the heart's type. The Heart also grants +4 to saves from spells of the elemental sphere associated with the heart and allows the bearer to ignore 1s and 2s rolled from damaging spells from the sphere.

*The Air Heart grants the ability to Fly (as the spell) at will and can also go without breathing for up to 12 hours per day and once per week they can remove all air from a 10-yard radius. The vacuum lasts 10 rounds and will kill creatures inside within 1d4 rounds unless they leave. The air heart can conjure a lesser air elemental once per week, create a gust of wind 5/day and cast cloudkill 1/day. Plus three random abilities rolled on the Elemental Air chart.

The curse of the Air heart is a 1% cumulative chance per use that the user will suffer extreme pain on contact with the ground and suffering 1d10 damage per round of contact. (using the Flying ability constantly to avoid it, even while asleep)

*The Earth Heart has probably the most powerful constant ability: it can prevent wizards from drawing power from the earth within 100 yards, stopping all wizardly magic (defiler and preserver), however this requires holding the heart in your hands and concentrating on it. Spells that wizards attempt to cast are used but have no effect. It also allows the bearer to continue breathing even when buried under the ground. The Heart can be used to gate in earth, filling a 50 foot cube around the user. Anyone trapped within the cube who fails their saves is caught and is slowly crushed to death (1d12 damage a round). It's unclear how the earth-heart user is meant to cope with this. They can meld with stone 3/day, animate rock 1/day, conjure a lesser earth elemental 1/week, and transmute rock to mud 1/day. Plus 3 random powers from the Elemental Earth table.

The curse of the Earth heart is the inverse of the Air heart, 1d10 damage per round they are not in contact with the ground. This includes climbing trees and presumably being inside buildings without earthen floors. Like the Air heart there is a 1% cumulative chance per use of the heart that it starts.

*The Fire Heart acts as a ring of fire resistance and cannot be harmed by the poisonous gasses, ash or proximity heat of volcanoes. They can also create non-magical fires (size of a campfire or smaller) at will. Once per day they can gate in fire from the plane of Fire as a 7th level fire cleric. If the user is already a fire cleric their power is doubled. Once per month the heart can be used to spontaneously combust a single humaniod of half-giant size or smaller. The fire does 1d10 damage per round until the target is dead and the flames will not go out until the magic is dispelled, the heart-bearer wills it or it is doused by a spell from the water heart. This also prevents raising from the dead with anything less than a Wish. The fire heart also lets you cast Delayed Blast Fireball 1/day, fire shield 1/day and light 3 times per day, plus 3 powers rolled randomly from the Elemental Fire chart. Is it just me or is the Fire Heart a lot more useful than the others?

The curse is a 1% cumulative chance that the user loses a point of intelligence. Once their intelligence drops to 6 or less they basically have the mind and instincts of a fire-drake, seeking out a volcano to live. Despite this they recall how to use the fire heart and will use its powers to protect themselves.

*The Water Heart allows the bearer to breath underwater and act without penalty (as per helm of underwater action). They also get aquaman powers: telepathically communicating with underwater creatures who react neutrally to them. The heart also allows the user to walk on water. All of these powers are, of course, next to useless in Athas. Twice per day they can dehydrate a creature, inflicting 8d8 damage unless they are immersed in water and once per month they can create 100 gallons of fresh water. The user can also conjure a lesser elemental 1/week, cast wall of ice 1/day and reflecting pool 1/day. Plus three random powers from the Elemental Water table.

The water curse is a 1% chance per use to increase the users demand for water...5 times their normal intake! They can also never regain constitution lost to dehydration.

The suggested means of destruction is to cast each heart into a mass of the elemental (powerful volcano, into a hurricane, etc) and casting resurrection. The heart will disappear and a week later an ancient drake of the appropriate type will appear.

Next time I'll get back into some more terrible meta-plot artifacts from the first Prism Pentad novel.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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

I thought their intestines were being turned into a nest of angry snakes. Somehow that picture is worse now.

Count Chocula posted:


Wow, that's an impressive density of Native American stereotypes in such a small space.
Yeah there's a lot of undertones for that and other colonization/exploitation of other alien races but I do appreciate how they don't just turn each alien species into a lazy metaphor for a specific group. There's more to them than just how badly we treat them.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten

oriongates posted:

Psionic Artifacts of Athas
The Prism Pentad books made the Dark Lens (along with the Pristine Tower) more or less the number one most powerful artifact of Athas. The Lens is the masterpiece of Rajaat, big ugly-pants father of magic himself. The lens is a polished egg-shaped orb of obsidian described as being "about the size of a small kank". That has to be one of the least helpful descriptions ever, considering a normal-sized kank is the size of a large horse or cow. The lens apparently weighs about 170 pounds so...maybe about the size of a person? Who here knows the density of obsidian?

If my calculations with Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia are right, then it's about 1.13 cubic feet, or 620 times the volume of a standard US large egg.

Barudak
May 7, 2007

oriongates posted:

Once per month they can create 100 gallons of fresh water.

At first I was going to say the Water Heart would be extremely useful on Athas what with it being a free, endless source of water but 100 gallons of fresh water a month would take approximately 10 years to fill a single above ground pool's worth of water at which point you might as well travel across the ocean, learn to surf, and fight the techno-brain suckers for all the fun roleplaying that would be.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer

oriongates posted:

But anyway....Psionic Artifacts of Athas is basically a version of the Book of Artifacts designed exclusively for the Dark Sun setting. It's not quite clear why they felt that Dark Sun needed its own...I love the setting but the place isn't exactly overflowing with magic items. In fact a good chunk of the items are taken from the Prism Pentad novels, and most are not actually psionic. Perhaps realizing that they didn't have enough material to turn this into a full book they introduced something even weirder: life-shaped artifacts! What are those? You'll see.

I've always been halfway convinced that this book is mostly scraps of paper Bill Slaviscek left in his cubicle before quitting TSR. The copy I have is rife with awful grammatical errors, 'its' transposed with 'it's', and at least one of the front sections reads like point-form notes. A significant section of the book being fairly mundane (so to speak) life-shaped grafts and gear didn't help, though at least that stuff was arguably more useful than the artifacts.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Barudak posted:

At first I was going to say the Water Heart would be extremely useful on Athas what with it being a free, endless source of water but 100 gallons of fresh water a month would take approximately 10 years to fill a single above ground pool's worth of water at which point you might as well travel across the ocean, learn to surf, and fight the techno-brain suckers for all the fun roleplaying that would be.

Not to mention that if you fall under the Water Heart's curse you'll end up needing to consume 150 gallons of water per month in order to avoid dehydration. Even a low-level water cleric is actually a better source of magic water.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Bieeardo posted:

I've always been halfway convinced that this book is mostly scraps of paper Bill Slaviscek left in his cubicle before quitting TSR. The copy I have is rife with awful grammatical errors, 'its' transposed with 'it's', and at least one of the front sections reads like point-form notes. A significant section of the book being fairly mundane (so to speak) life-shaped grafts and gear didn't help, though at least that stuff was arguably more useful than the artifacts.

It's even more obvious when you realize that many of the life-shaped items in that section also appear in Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs, but with different rules (different damage, different HD, etc) and absolutely no explanation is provided for this inconsistency. It's not clear if this book is meant to serve as an errata for the Jagged Cliffs book or what.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Part 6: Life in Autoduel America

We're moving on from the AADA Guide with no transition into discussion of daily life in 2036. Jobs are in short supply, and unemployment is at "30%", which is a bit of a ridiculously high number, but at least conceivable if most of America has effectively become third-world. However, it notes that most of those unemployed are apparently on the ol' dole, which results in heavy taxes. The doesn't make a world of sense, because it doesn't seem the infrastructure to really enforce taxation - or distribute unemployement benefits - is widespread. Ultimately, the purpose of this is to show the appeal of being willing to make big bucks in arena bloodsports, but it doesn't quite follow.

This gives a surprisingly minor penalty to job rolls (-1) and we get the big jobs table that came with every GURPS book of this period, now with exciting rules like payment fluctating for independent work! I can see this mattering for some games, like truckers or corporate troubleshooters, but it's a lot of detail considering many PCs (that is, the titular autoduellists) will be living off of endorsements and prize money, not paychecks.
So what I'm getting from this is that Autoduel came true, but without the welfare payments or sweet car wars. I mean poo poo, that sounds like the Gig Economy in that last paragraph.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN
Ubers dueling each other for fares would be pretty sweet. I think that actually happened between cabbies in the 30s or 40s?

The 'welfare makes people lazy' thing is a bit poo poo. So many of these games have implicit political biases, which is part of why I don't mind the left-wing witch game.

The only thing I know about Austin is SXSW, which would be the place where hotshot young autoduellists try and get noticed and corporations try and be cool?

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013



If raping/torturing people is left-wing I don't see why you'd want to be left-wing.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Count Chocula posted:

Ubers dueling each other for fares would be pretty sweet. I think that actually happened between cabbies in the 30s or 40s?

The 'welfare makes people lazy' thing is a bit poo poo. So many of these games have implicit political biases, which is part of why I don't mind the left-wing witch game.

The only thing I know about Austin is SXSW, which would be the place where hotshot young autoduellists try and get noticed and corporations try and be cool?
Austin is very liberal for Texas but is still in Texas. Steve Jackson himself also seems to be deep into the Discordian/weirdo western stuff ecology which tends to have strong libertarian biases of various sorts. And of course it's a product of the 80s, look at Ghostbusters - great movie, but frankly, Walter Peck was right.

e: Also, the witch game makes Werewolf: the Apocalypse look sensitive and thoughtful

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Nessus posted:

Austin is very liberal for Texas but is still in Texas. Steve Jackson himself also seems to be deep into the Discordian/weirdo western stuff ecology which tends to have strong libertarian biases of various sorts. And of course it's a product of the 80s, look at Ghostbusters - great movie, but frankly, Walter Peck was right.
Both Steve Jackson and William H. Stoddard are GURPS authors that are pretty big into the whole libertarian business, but cases like GURPS Autoduel where it leaks into the text seem to be thankfully rare.

I can only assume that this is due to having other people who can look over your shoulder and say "hey, bud, think things through" as well as some self-restraint, which are both things Bellum Maga/Witch Girls Adventures don't have in their favor.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN
I can appreciate a 'gently caress you, gently caress the system!' punk middle figure, especially given how bad things are getting. I wish it was better written. Maybe it's time for a 'Life in Trump's America' game jam.

What's that famous quote from this forum about a libertarian utopia that includes a shootout with a private toll road?

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 08:20 on Apr 6, 2016

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003



Count Chocula posted:

The 'welfare makes people lazy' thing is a bit poo poo. So many of these games have implicit political biases, which is part of why I don't mind the left-wing witch game.
The witch game's political stance is "murdering people with magic is awesome :fap:" and I mean that emote in the most literal way possible. :gonk:

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.

Zereth posted:

The witch game's political stance is "murdering people with magic is awesome :fap:" and I mean that emote in the most literal way possible. :gonk:

To be fair, murdering people with magic is pretty awesome. That's 90% of D&D's appeal right there.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN
Yeah, 'murdering racist cops and ultra-right wing creepazoids with magic' is a step up from murdering swarthy orcs with magic! And probably happens in a few Stephen King and Grant Morrisin stories.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013



None of us are saying racist dudes as the disposable mooks shouldn't be in a story. The problem is that the author is clearly mastrubating to how they're killed and literally raped. Sort of like how little girls are fine to have in stories generally but we cannot trust Stephen King to not be a creeper if he includes a woman under the age of 20 in his books.

Alternatively in modern D&D it's generally excepted that you're murdering orcs, but gruesomely torturing them is generally frowned upon even in the groggiest of OSR books.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003



Yes I used the masturbation smiley because I believe the author is non-hyperbole version of literally deriving sexual gratification from this poo poo. And the racist/sexist enemies are simply a convenient excuse to cram their fetish into the game.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Yeah, I'm pretty sure if you had a fantasy game that was just barbarians with their mighty thews murdering and torturing orcs and goblins gorily in every illo with big poo poo- eating grins, it wouldn't be any more palatable.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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


Summer: How to Enjoy Stories

You should have enough information to put together a character now. Here's what a character sheet looks like:



Into the rules!

Connections

Before a story starts, it's time to make your Connections! You're in the same town, you've spent time together. The henge described in this story are friends. So, introduce your character so that everyone can decide how they get along with each other.

Connections are a mechanic for describing exactly what they're called. Each Connection has a strength, from 0 to 5, and contents, which is just a descriptive word - Love, Protection, et cetera. Notably, Connections are one-way, so you might have Trust 2 with someone who has a Family 1 Connection back with you, or you might have a Connection with someone else who doesn't have a connection to you at all. As Connections develop over time, the strength may increase or decrease, and the contents may change.

To start with, determine the contents of your Connections with each other PC. Then, you get one extra Connection to the town itself, which in turn has a Connection with you with the special contents "Acceptance". If there are 2-3 players, your Connections with each other start at strength 2. 4 or more, strength 1. Beyond that, the Narrator may decide to have the party have another Connection with a character appearing in the story, but if not, you just start with those Connections with the other PCs.

The types of Connection contents are:
  • Like: You just sort of like 'em. Connection strength can't go above 2 without the contents changing to something else.
  • Affection: You enjoy their company, and are lonely when they aren't around.
  • Protection: You want to keep them out of trouble and be there for them.
  • Trust: You go to them when you need help.
  • Family: You've lived together with them for a long time.
  • Admiration: You want to be like them.
  • Rivalry: You don't want to lose to them.
  • Respect: You think they're amazing.
  • Love: You're in love with them. Only allowed if Connection strength is 2 or higher.
  • Acceptance: You give them a place to belong. Narrator permission is required; this is generally only for the town and for local gods.

Stories and Scenes
A Story is an adventure, and usually also a game session. A Scene is the main unit of division within that story. The Narrator decides when a scene ends or begins, but between scenes, a player can say "before the next thing I'd like to have a scene about X", in which case maybe the Narrator will go along with that (they still get final say). Not everyone is in every scene, but even if you're not in a scene, there's still things for you to do - some powers, and awarding Dreams.

GSS stories are usually about helping someone who is in trouble. Learn what's going on, use your powers to help people, and hopefully don't cause more problems in the process.

Things You Can Do In Scenes

Get Wonder and Feelings
Wonder comes from your bonds to others, and is used for your special powers as a henge. At the start of every scene, gain Wonder equal to the total strength of all your Connections to others.
Feelings are something precious carried in a henge's heart. At the start of every scene, gain Feelings equal to the total strength of all Connections others have towards you.

You'll use Wonder and Feelings during the course of a game to do various things, but you gain more at the start of each scene. Leftover points at the end of a scene can be carried over, but you'll lose them all at the end of the last scene of the story, so don't be stingy with them. Use as many as you can.

Talk and take action
The meat of the game - saying things, and doing things. Since you're not here for your prowess in battle, your greatest weapons are sympathy and kindness. Your objective is to help others, so act affectionaly and sensitively and engage with the other henge in the party when you can. Don't forget your Weaknesses when talking or acting, since a lot of them are more narrative than mechanical.

Award Dreams
This is something anyone can do, whether or not their characterse are in the scene. Dreams are a currency used to show your appreciation to other players, and is used to strengthen Connections. When a character acts, anyone except for the actor can award the player Dreams. This even applies to the Narrator for NPCs. Each player can award no more than one point of Dreams for a given action.

The definition of what actions are worthy of Dreams is vague, but there are two main guidelines. One: Award Dreams when someone says or does something you think is cute. Two: Award dreams when someone says or does something that helps or heals someone else. It might be good to use some kind of physical tokens for this.

Action Checks
Sometimes things aren't guaranteed to happen! Like any coherent RPG, there's a system for determining whether or not uncertain outcomes are successes.

Golden Sky Stories is a diceless system! To make an Action Check, compare a target difficulty to the given Attribute. If it's equal or higher, you succeed. If it's lower, you fail. If you're competing against someone else, compare your Attributes. Whichever is higher wins; if they're the same, it's a tie.

That would be boring, though, so this is where Feelings come in. Whenever you make a check, you can spend any amount of Feelings to boost your Attribute by that much for the duration of a check - so, if your Henge is 2 and you're making a check of difficulty 5, you can spend 3 Feelings to narrowly succeed. If two characters are in opposition, both can keep spending Feelings back and forth until one gives up or runs out of points.

Interestingly, you can also spend Feelings to reduce your score, for example if you want to avoid Surprising somebody too hard. Or if you just want to be clumsy. Remember, stories aren't about winning or losing. If you worry too much about the success of your checks, you might lose something more important.

Use Wonder
You have all sorts of amazing powers as a henge, so why not use them? You are limited only by how much Wonder you have. Every time you use a power, you need to spend Wonder equal to the number next to the ability's name. If you don't have enough, you can't use it. If a power requires a check, and you fail the check, spent Wonder is still lost.

Take Human Form
A special power all henge have. Unlike most powers, its cost can be paid using a combination of Feelings and Wonder, and the cost varies based on the form and the time of day. The base cost to take a human form is 0 in the evening, 2 at night, and 4 during the day, but this form will leave you with your ears and tail (or wings, for a bird) exposed. To hide your ears (or shrink your wings), raise the cost by 2. To completely hide all signs of your animal nature, raise the cost by 4 instead. So, to pass as fully human in the middle of the day costs 8 points, but to appear as an animal-eared and animal-tailed human in the evening is free.

You can use all your powers, whether you're in human or animal form, unless they specify otherwise. Regardless of form, you can transform back into an animal instantly at no cost.

Make New Connections
First impressions are important. When you meet a new character, you can make an Impression Check to form a new Connection together. Both characters/players need to agree to make the check. Pick which attribute you're going to use to appeal to them, then make the check, spending Feelings as normal. If your result is 4 or higher, they gain a new Connection to you with a strength of 1. 8 or higher, and it's strength 2 instead. Both characters do this, and now you have your new Connections.

The contents of the connection are roughly determined by the attribute used for the check:
  • Henge: Admiration, Respect
  • Animal: Affection, Trust
  • Adult: Admiration, Rivalry
  • Child: Protection, Affection
If you use the same attribute for the check, and you scored lower than they did, their Connection to you is automatically set to the default "Like".

Things To Do Between Scenes

Strengthen Connections
You can spend your Dreams to strengthen Connections with any characters who appeared with you in the scene that just ended. To raise it by one rank, the cost varies:
  • To 1: 5 Dreams (Free if you made 4+ on the Impresion Check)
  • To 2: 5 Dreams (Free if you made 8+ on the Impresion Check)
  • To 3: 5 Dreams
  • To 4: 8 Dreams
  • To 5: 12 Dreams
Unspent Dreams carry over between scenes, same as Wonder and Feelings.

Change Connection Contents
If the nature of any of your Connections has shifted, you can change the contents within. If it's a dramatic shift, check for permission from your Narrator.

Next: Endings and other things.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
Bellum Maga is the sort of thing a conservative might make to create a strawman out of leftist positions in order to vilify/mock liberals. Nothing about it is appealing in a "punk revenge fantasy fighting the man" sense, it's just a badly written, laughably illustrated peek at a dumb person's fetishes.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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

Kai Tave posted:

Bellum Maga is the sort of thing a conservative might make to create a strawman out of leftist positions in order to vilify/mock liberals. Nothing about it is appealing in a "punk revenge fantasy fighting the man" sense, it's just a badly written, laughably illustrated peek at a dumb person's fetishes.

The next chapter is written in the first person from the Perspective of Abby Soto's self insert character, it is utterly insufferable and full of so many loving typos. There's also a section where she state's she's not a Misandrist because she totally has a boyfriend and they have so much sex guys you don't even know the amount of amazing sex she's having with her totally real boyfriend.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Kurieg posted:

The next chapter is written in the first person from the Perspective of Abby Soto's self insert character, it is utterly insufferable and full of so many loving typos. There's also a section where she state's she's not a Misandrist because she totally has a boyfriend and they have so much sex guys you don't even know the amount of amazing sex she's having with her totally real boyfriend.
"My blackmale friend"

Valatar
Sep 26, 2011

A remarkable example of a pathetic species.
Lipstick Apathy
I do enjoy the juxtaposition between the bellum maga review and the golden sky review, however. Crazy mean-spirited fetish wank, then a game about helping people.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

Barudak posted:

At first I was going to say the Water Heart would be extremely useful on Athas what with it being a free, endless source of water but 100 gallons of fresh water a month would take approximately 10 years to fill a single above ground pool's worth of water at which point you might as well travel across the ocean, learn to surf, and fight the techno-brain suckers for all the fun roleplaying that would be.

What if I told you that you get about 61 gallons of water from using the daily Wall Of Ice spell instead? As far as I know, melted icewater from Wall Of Ice acts like regular water, with it turning to steam if it's melted instantly. That would be about 1930 gallons per month, including the 100 gallons of fresh water. And that's not assuming the Water Heart is treated as a 7th level cleric like the Fire Heart.

Otherwise, that 100 gallons of fresh water per month barely satisfies the water requirements for a single human.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015

Mors Rattus posted:

Random bolding is actually sort of a tradition in comics, I think originally it just resulted from letterers not being super great, back in like the 30s, and then it just...kept happening. IIRC it most often happens with hand-lettered stuff.

The bolded words are actually part of a very long and elaborate code which, when strung together, results in the Anti-Life Equation.

Count Chocula posted:

Yeah, 'murdering racist cops and ultra-right wing creepazoids with magic' is a step up from murdering swarthy orcs with magic! And probably happens in a few Stephen King and Grant Morrisin stories.

Swarthy orcs are evil because of the universal law of alignment. The cops and creepazoids on the other hand are just poor victims of a snake. And even if they're not victims, they probably just want to stop the megalomaniac witches from regressing society back to female spellcaster supremacy days.

Kurieg posted:

The next chapter is written in the first person from the Perspective of Abby Soto's self insert character, it is utterly insufferable and full of so many loving typos. There's also a section where she state's she's not a Misandrist because she totally has a boyfriend and they have so much sex guys you don't even know the amount of amazing sex she's having with her totally real boyfriend.

Are you sure this is not some kind of elaborate parody? I'd say it's hard to come up with something that is more ridiculous o_O

ProfessorProf posted:



Summer: How to Enjoy Stories

Golden Sky Stories: The better Werewolf game.

Valatar posted:

I do enjoy the juxtaposition between the bellum maga review and the golden sky review, however. Crazy mean-spirited fetish wank, then a game about helping people.

Helping oppressed Japanese school girls fight the servants of Orochi - aka bullies.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 16:56 on Apr 6, 2016

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Doresh posted:

Helping oppressed Japanese school girls fight the servants of Orochi - aka bullies.

In Golden Sky Stories, you'd probably help the school girl build confidence in herself that lets her stand up to the bully, but instead of fighting they start talking and become best friends because friendship is stronger than hate

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Young Freud posted:

What if I told you that you get about 61 gallons of water from using the daily Wall Of Ice spell instead? As far as I know, melted icewater from Wall Of Ice acts like regular water, with it turning to steam if it's melted instantly. That would be about 1930 gallons per month, including the 100 gallons of fresh water. And that's not assuming the Water Heart is treated as a 7th level cleric like the Fire Heart.

Otherwise, that 100 gallons of fresh water per month barely satisfies the water requirements for a single human.

Actually Dark Sun is one step ahead of you. Ice-producing spells such as Wall of Ice and Ice Storm produce only magical, temporary ice, evaporating into nothingness once the spell ends.

The create water spell is the most effective form of large-scale water production. It's less effective in Athas (1/2 gallon per level per casting), but if a priest focused on pretty much nothing but Create Water spells they can produce a decent amount. A 6th level water cleric using all their 1st level spells for Create Water and their 3rd level spells for Create Food and Water produce about 18 gallons per day, That's a total of 540 gallons per month.

High level clerics can produce even huger amounts once they can Gate in water. A 20th level cleric can, once per day, gate in 14 cubic feet of water which is about 100 gallons, meaning 3000 gallons per month. That would be in addition to 10 gallons per casting of Create Water.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015

Kaza42 posted:

In Golden Sky Stories, you'd probably help the school girl build confidence in herself that lets her stand up to the bully, but instead of fighting they start talking and become best friends because friendship is stronger than hate

Exactly. You don't bring down the patriarchy with body horror and chain smoking.

The Lord of Hats
Aug 22, 2010

Hello, yes! Is being very good day for posting, no?
Golden Sky Stories looks like so much fun. I want to play a fox and lord my vast wealth of 435 yen in small change from my shrine over all of the other PCs :3:.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos

The Lord of Hats posted:

Golden Sky Stories looks like so much fun. I want to play a fox and lord my vast wealth of 435 yen in small change from my shrine over all of the other PCs :3:.

'Be impressed, as I can buy as many as two and a half candy bars!'

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
And then the dog would be all like 'Wow! That's awesome! That's like...more than enough for one for each of us!'

Because dogs are wonderful and easily impressed.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003



The Lord of Hats posted:

Golden Sky Stories looks like so much fun. I want to play a fox and lord my vast wealth of 435 yen in small change from my shrine over all of the other PCs :3:.
I want to play a cat and use the cunning plan of convincing people who caught me talking that I didn't by just saying "No I didn't."

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011

Zereth posted:

I want to play a cat and use the cunning plan of convincing people who caught me talking that I didn't by just saying "No I didn't."

I think you mean 'Nyao I didn't'.

A part of me doesn't think I could come up with many stories to run Golden Sky Stories without it getting repetitive. My thought process for game plots has been inundated with the kind of media that results in power metal covers. Still really like the game, though.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

The Lord of Hats posted:

Golden Sky Stories looks like so much fun. I want to play a fox and lord my vast wealth of 435 yen in small change from my shrine over all of the other PCs :3:.

How many of those coins are actually leaves and nuts?

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Davin Valkri posted:

How many of those coins are actually leaves and nuts?

One five yen piece the Tanuki left at the shrine to be nice

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Mystic Mongol
Jan 5, 2007

Your life's been thrown in disarray already--I wouldn't want you to feel pressured.


College Slice

Tasoth posted:

A part of me doesn't think I could come up with many stories to run Golden Sky Stories without it getting repetitive. My thought process for game plots has been inundated with the kind of media that results in power metal covers. Still really like the game, though.

Just take childhood stories and replace your idiot friends with critters. What's that you say, your childhood stories don't have broad, sweeping plots? That's fine, someone falls down and busts their chin open, everyone runs around panicked for half an hour is a perfect little Golden Sun Story.

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