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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Thousand Thrones

Waylaid By Bullshit

The entire back yard is full of traps that I don't understand why they think you'd spring. For instance, the Rookery is full of caged up birbs. If you pick the lock or otherwise unleash the obviously evil, glaring, partly mutated birbs, they attack you, doing d10+2 armor-ignoring damage for d5 rounds. The birbs are even perched on a dead peasant! Who is pecked to death! And you have to pick the lock! Who the gently caress did they think would be stupid enough to open the cages? The birbs then fly off and 'show up again if the adventurers aren't having a hard enough time'. Poking the body makes it explode and cover a PC in filth, causing Insanity. Sure is a lot of stuff in this adventure designed to spray you with filth. The pond is full of a dozen little poo poo-demons, but Nurglings aren't that dangerous and you have no reason to approach the pond. Like everything in this dungeon, trying to explore or be curious in any way just leads to more dumb traps and monsters, so just keep swinging and don't engage with anything. There's also a gazebo. Do not approach the gazebo. There's nothing of value. As our heroes get close, they hear angry buzzing and back the gently caress off. They're wise to do this, as the gazebo will disgorge mutagenic hornets who do Damage 1 Armor Ignoring per round and debuff you from horrible hornet stings, and also cause Mutation tests 24 hours later based on how often they damaged you and how many Toughness tests you failed. If you somehow fight them off (hitting the swarm with a torch or something for 5 wounds will burn them to death, other weapons don't work) the gazebo just spawns infinite hornets until you're dead or you get the hint that it's empty. The Garden is full of fruit that somehow makes you make a WP test not to touch the obvious trap fruit and does Damage 2 Armor Ignoring and paralyzes your arm for an hour if you fail the test and touch it. The Greenhouse has plants that spray you with disease and one of those key sigils.

Your best bet is to ignore literally everything out here and head for the hedge maze. Ruprecht's journal told our heroes it's where he hid his evil hell temple, and they have yet to find and stab the poo poo out of Tobias so they assume he's there. They're really pissed off at this guy by this point. Rose remarks and Johan confirms that no amount of washing is going to help this place; they make plans to burn the whole goddamn house down once they're done here. Because the heroes have been so thoroughly shown they shouldn't loving touch anything, they didn't take one of the magic 'get through the hedge maze free' amulets. It's a sigil of goddamn Nurgle, of course they think it would disease them since everything else in the drat house is a booby trap. Thankfully you don't need one. They have Syphan and she finally gets to use Magical Sense. You know how your Ranger almost certainly has talents and skills for Navigation? The Hedge Maze will let you use the skill, but specifically negates any bonus talents (and makes you roll at -30). You also have to succeed *4* tests in a row. Using Follow Trail is also at -30, and needs 3 successes in a row. Any attempt to hack through the maze or anything makes evil plants shoot blinding nectar into your face. Any failed test causes encounters with cultists, or various plants that kill you if you touch them, or lets you find a dead Witch Hunter. If you were using the 'PCs work for a Hunter' hook at the beginning, it's their employer. This is the last time any beginning hooks are ever mentioned; our heroes will never see Selena again and she will never both betraying them or anything. Only the Hunter hook really gets any kind of closure in a random encounter here. He doesn't have any gear or anything, obviously. No treasure in any dungeons.

Syphan's Magical Sense is the best way through, and even then she has to make 2 -20 tests. Thankfully for her, she's Aethyrically Attuned and lucky as hell. It costs her both her Fortune points (which might matter a lot) but the elf easily leads them through the maze without any random encounters. The others are pretty impressed. Or would be, if Syphan didn't have an exact spell that would easily defeat this situation just the authors didn't think of it. She's a Light Mage. It's possible you have a Light Mage by this point. Light has a specific spell that lets her see through all illusions, and the Hedge Maze's confusing nature is specifically an illusion the Sigil dispels. So instead of all that, Syphan takes some time to Channel, smashes a glass bead, Rose does a magical raccoon backup dance to give her more magic, and she casts Eyes of Truth, immediately showing the team the way through rather than wasting time. Thanks, Light!

The heroes find the center easily and surprise another group of lovely random encounter cultists climbing out of a fleshy sphincter leading to the Temple. They kill the cultists pretty easily. And they get to the part that makes me suspect Magical Realm. The cultists know the 'special way' to rub the sphincter to enter. The PCs don't, and can't learn it. The scene of the PCs having to hack through it, as it wurbles and sprays them with filth and blood, has loving STAGE DIRECTIONS. 'Make the PCs really WORK at cutting it. They should be covered in pus and blood and disgusting goo by the time they get through'. Everyone also has to check vs. Disease or get the Brown Pox, which will explode and leak poo poo everywhere at inappropriate moments and possibly permanently lowers Fel for scarring. Our heroes don't do this, because they've still got the all-seeing magical eyes of their elf, and just poke the giant magic butt in whatever way the cultists do to get inside rather than having a long 'they have to cut through, getting all filthy and gross and covered in poo poo' scene. The 'there's no other way, they have to do it, make them really get in there and get covered and coated' stage direction poo poo is really, really whizzard-esque.

Look, I don't make this statement lightly. But this is really suggesting someone really, really enjoys writing the PCs getting forced to get covered in poo poo. It's happened repeatedly before now and then it also has a 'and now they HAVE to, if they avoided it, no other way to progress! GET IN THERE!' complete with stage directions for the GM. Combined with the poo poo-sore disease it inflicts to humiliate them. It just feels like someone's Magical Realm.

Anyway, the temple itself is surprisingly short. The kitchens cause Neiglish Rot if you touch anything, most things are diseased if you try to touch them, there's an evil book full of dozens of diseases but each page also causes the disease it describes (the heroes burn it), the heroes can't read anything in here because it's all in Demonic, and finally they find a crazed man held as a future sacrifice who attacks you or alerts the cultists if you try to help and the only safe way past is to kill him. Finally, FINALLY, our heroes reach the actual center of the cult where Johann the Plague Priest, Tobias, and 9 Malady Cultists are waiting, trying to enslave Karl. Johan the Spy is not pleased the villain is named Johann. The encounter here can be very easy at first, because if you killed or managed to sneak by the prisoner, the cultists are Surprised.

Our heroes managed to silence the prisoner without just murdering the guy (Shanna stuck a gag in his mouth or something) and we'll see how this goes with Surprise. There's other stuff that will come up, naturally, but they start off with a ranged volley from surprise at Tobias, trying to kill the priest who's holding Karl and who's led them through all this poo poo. A crossbow bolt, an arrow, laser eyes, and a sling stone interrupt his chanting. Shanna Furies him in the groin with a rock. He drops immediately before the fight even starts. Surprise is loving brutal; +30% to hit, enemy can't act round 1? Tobias is dead before the fight starts. Even if he wasn't, Tobias just isn't very dangerous. Mag 2 can't do very much with Lore of Nurgle.

The problem in the fight isn't Tobias, or Johann. Johann is Mag 1. He can't even use 'real' magic and Petty Chaos magic sucks. The Malady Cultists have lovingly detailed mutations and names, but they're just 9 of the same lovely, easily murdered cultists you've been fighting. None even have Neglish Rot. No, the problem is Sofia. Remember her? She shows up with 12 highly trained, well equipped soldiers. A highly evasive, skilled vampiress duelist and thief who causes Fear (and who has Unsettling, so you're debuffed on WS and BS until you get WP vs. that separate from her Fear) is bad enough. She's backed up by 12 of her blood pets, who are all wearing partial mail armor, WS 45, 2 Attacks, and have stuff like Dodge and SB 4. She's here to kidnap Karl herself, having followed just behind the PCs with an entire unit of troops with no way for the PCs to ever detect her. The fight is meant to be run 'narratively', with the Cultists and Lahmians killing one another as the PCs dive into the fight at points, or 'you can decide one side wipes the other out and have the PCs fight one', and 'you decide how much trouble the PCs have, though if they're foolish they will probably die'. Gee, that sounds more like it's the GM deciding if they die or not, because if the GM decides Sofia and company kill the cult and turn on the PCs, they're now fighting 12 pretty skilled mooks and a loving vampiress. The cult was easy. The Lahmian team is loving mean. Also note most of the female cultists are described as 'once beautiful' or 'pretty if she had a face'.

If the heroes kill Tobias, a terrible tumor on his body explodes into its own creature, spraying poo poo everywhere and running away. It'll show up later. Since they killed him round 1, that event triggers and the Lahmians attack right then; they always start attacking the heroes the moment they kill Tobias to distract them and make sure they don't kill the Chaos Organ. The Lahmians will also step in if the PCs attack Karl or try to kill him in the confusion, preventing it. Our heroes are not here for that, but there's a lot of 'how to keep the PCs from killing Karl' here, naturally. Playing it out for curiosity's sake, yes, the party will lose to the 12 soldiers and Sofia. And remember, Oleg is basically a second warrior, Sif is well equipped and strong, Syphan has good combat magic, Johan is competent enough to contribute, and they have a combat medic. Only Shanna isn't particularly useful in a fight (and she can still get lucky with a sling, ask Tobias). But Sofia can shut down Sif (She has an 84% Dodge Blow and a 71% Parry, Sif only has 2 attacks!) and is more than a match for her alone, while the highly skilled multi-attack mooks swarm everyone else and start cutting down the lighter-armored characters like Syphan and using the fact that they outnumber the party to gain bonuses to hit. But hey, the fight is supposed to be 'narrative'. Sofia attacks the heroes with four of her minions to try to get Karl away while telling her men to handle the cultists, giving the heroes time to fight her. They wound Sofia (at significant cost in Wounds to themselves; Oleg comes out of it at 2, Sif at 0 but no crits) and take out her men, then turn their attention to the wider fight, finding it mostly wrapping up as they shoot down a fleeing Johann the Plague Priest. Johan points down at the alternate, evil Johann for a moment, says something about 'cleaning up his name', then stabs him in the throat. Sofia flees, cursing them, to never again recur or be an adversary.

They grab Karl, who runs over to Katarine, and they run like hell to get him out of this awful hellhole. Happily, they've also killed the cult that was poisoning Keitchdorf, so that doomed town will be fine. They also recover the Necklace, and the book suggests they'll need a whole sidequest to destroy it, having to seek out and find...an...elf...wizard-

Syphan just holds it up and lasers the poo poo out of it. Elf Wizard! Problem Solved!

Where do I even begin? Aside from the lack of any compelling environmental storytelling or atmosphere, the vague sense of Magical Realm, the constant dumb traps that you'll only spring if you haven't learned not to actually engage with or explore anything on Chaos adventures, etc, the final battle has balancing entirely up to the GM with no guidance and treats '9 lovely mook cultists with meh stats and two pathetic excuses for wizards' as just as dangerous as 'crack team of 12 badass soldiers and their Vampire leader'. Also note there's absolutely no treasure, no rewards, nothing. Just crawling through piles of poo poo. Our heroes rescued Karl, both because just going along with it is the easiest way to run the campaign and because they're not into child murder. What if you shank him while you have the chance? Either the campaign ends here or he turns out to have been a perfect body double the entire time. That's right, it can turn out Karl was never kidnapped at all, and you did literally all of this for nothing. This can also happen if something else killed him in the fight, or the enemy got away with him and the GM doesn't feel like playing out chasing him. Even if it really WAS Karl, if the PCs killed him the next adventure suggests just altering adventures to remove Karl and forcing the PCs through the rest of the campaign.

"The PCs surely have cause to kill Karl" is such a casual phrase, but gently caress. Our heroes ain't down for child murder, so they take the poor kid to get a bath and ask him if he really wants to go back to the Crusade. He says he wants to get to Kislev and won't explain why, but taking him there will intersect with the Crusade no matter what and there's no option for our heroes to talk him out of it or not go along with it, so there ain't no getting off this train. They take the poor kid and make their way to Wolfenburg in Ostland, where they run into the Crusade again by sheer happenstance. The Ride Never Ends. They also burn the evil mansion to the ground on the way out. Good riddance. If only it had had a proper self destruct system.

Chapter 5 is the worst part of the entire campaign. Do not expose Chapter 5 directly to your face. There's nothing here to be salvaged and this chapter alone should convince people not to play Thousand Thrones.

Next Time: Ride Continues Not Ending

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:37 on Apr 18, 2020

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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP
Well that's just lovely.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Chapter 7 will be entirely 'the PCs follow a false lead they couldn't realize is false into a wholly different adventure'. Chapter 6 is mostly fairly standard and not as terrible as most of the rest, just kinda dull. Chapter 8 is mostly a cutscene. Chapter 9 is a 75 room dungeon crawl where taking any damage causes mutation tests and you have a strict and unknown to the players time limit or you lose the campaign.

And yet 5 is still definitely the worst.

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.

Clapping Larry
So you talk about how there's all this travail and still no treasure, and I have a couple of questions: are there a lot of good things a big pile of treasure can actually get you in the engine, and is there any common adversary who's likely to actually have treasure?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
For one, full armor is 400 per character, which is a hell of a lot of money, and getting up to mail armor or plate armor is a massive boost in durability. 100 for a better sword (or 10x whatever your weapon was worth) is worthwhile. Firearms, especially repeater firearms, are very expensive on the 200-400 range. Money is also useful to buy favors, and it's sort of assumed characters would like to make money since this is a hell of a lot of danger to go through. It's a weird paradox where Hams both assumes your PCs are out to get paid but never pays them and expects them to keep going. Healing Draughts are very useful and heal 4 Wounds as long as you aren't at less than 3, and cost 5 crowns each. Horses and mounts and things cost hundreds.

To some degree it's more...gently caress, man, it's just kinda depressing to keep going through hellish slogs without any pay or reward. Even if you're just going to say the PCs squander it on drink and having a good time between missions like 4e does, most PCs would probably like to have the money to squander. Vampires are likely to be loaded and a lot of their treasure isn't inherently cursed. Bandits, corrupt officials, other mercenaries, etc might actually have money or goods to take. Orcs take a lot of plunder solely to show they took it from someone (they don't value gold at all, but they know dwarfs and others do, so if you could bully someone into giving it to you it means you're stronger than them). Hell, Vampire Loot may even be magical in a way that won't kill you. Rats also take treasure specifically because they know they can bribe humans with it, but they don't value it at all so taking it back from them can be fairly easy since they'll happily leave it behind to ensure they escape. Basically everyone but Chaos tends to have loot. Everything you could take from Chaos will kill you, mutate you, or give you diseases.

E: Also note that if you're playing full RAW, even if the items aren't 'useful', promoting into classes often requires expensive trappings. If you need exquisite clothes to be taken seriously as a Noble Lord, that can be a hell of a lot of money. My group never used the 'trappings to promote' rule because it seemed a little silly, and it's only in 2e (1e and 4e just suggest you have the trappings before people take you seriously, but you can still promote), but the 2e rulebook pretty much tells you it's set up to make sure PCs have a use for money or for stealing the stuff they need for their new Career. And if they never get paid for anything and never find treasure, and you're using that rule...well. Some Careers (like being a Knight) just become impossible to enter.

To a large extent, though, it's mostly a character motivation thing. This is a setting that hammers you over and over again with 'your PCs are probably motivated to a significant degree by material gain in addition to whatever else'. I would get adventures where you're being promised large rewards and then screwed over repeatedly, etc. It'd be annoying, but it'd give you a reason to be doing stuff. I'd get 'you reach into the hole because you saw a gem in there and oops, all spiders' or something. But it's always 'there's nothing to take, no clues to find, just a booby trap'. At a certain point, PCs have got to wonder why the hell they're on this road, especially after they've just stopped the cult at Chapter 5 for all they know.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:00 on Apr 18, 2020

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


Chaos loot should be the sort of thing you hand to the wizards/priests and get back as a fancy un-chaosed version in a few sessions.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
There's also an odd incongruity with how the campaign expects the PCs will jump on stuff like 'we have to destroy the Necklace personally' while also punishing PCs any time they try to rescue people or show concern. Beating people down any time they try to help anyone is going to lead to a group rightly noticing and ceasing to do that, yet whole plot points rely on them doing things mostly out of the goodness of their hearts rather than going 'not my problem, no money in it'.

E: Basically, being able to get some kind of reward for taking risks would get players to take risks. Similarly, being able to actually rescue people or occasionally do measurable good would get players to do the same. This campaign is not fond of doing either of those things.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:09 on Apr 18, 2020

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.

WFRP adventure design seems like it wants to trap the PCs in the same kind of cycle as rideshare drivers who take out loans through the company to get a new car, then have to spend every waking moment driving to pay off the car, while slowly losing the battle to maintenance costs and gas and such anyway.

Only it doesn't foreground that conflict enough to make it mean anything other than "nah it just sucks to suck" with a side order of "and that's why nothing ever gets better." Like cool, great, now I understand why people become Chaos cultists.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
One of the nice things Old World Armory highlights is that the money you get paid as an Adventurer (assuming you're being paid) is at once a huge loving amount for the average Old Worlder (50-60 GC for a mission is more money than the average family makes in a year) but complete peanuts next to what the nobles and merchants paying you have. Which would be a great way to go about it! You're making money that looks huge to your little band of mercenaries, while risking your lives and while the merch paying you is laughing into his sleeve about how he got you to kill a bunch of Beastmen for less money than he spends throwing a dinner party for his business buddies.

It neatly explains why you do what you do, while highlighting what bullshit it is that people fight to pay you so little while you end up saving the drat world. While still giving you the money you need for the actual mechanical/upgrading parts of the game. And naturally gives you the option to dangle the kind of score that is Real Rich People Money in front of the players, money they could retire on or buy a title with, to get them involved in really crazy stuff.

E: Basically yes, the rideshare thing is correct. Just normally, if you are getting paid, the money you're getting is still an enormous sum to a PC, which is one reason they might not notice how hosed they're getting on the deal.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:20 on Apr 18, 2020

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
The mansion should have shat itself into oblivion, like a crappy House of Usher.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

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

My players agreed to murder the leader of a local gang in the Borderlands for 10 crowns each, or about $25,000 or so according to the 4e book.

They were pretty excited about it.

TaurusTorus
Mar 27, 2010

Grab the bullshit by the horns

Bieeanshee posted:

The mansion should have shat itself into oblivion, like a crappy House of Usher.

House of Flusher

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


It's not that a crown isn't a lot of money in normal person dollars, it's that the rich are staggeringly rich.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
For reference to get into the Merchant class RAW you need a town house, your own warehouse, and 1,000 GC in liquid assets. The townhouse and warehouse are assets worth about 30,000 or so. This is considered the bare-minimum jumping off point to consider yourself any sort of successful Merch.

Comparing that to a completely fully kitted out PC with a Best Shield, Hand Weapon, and a suit of Plate plus like an Elfbow or something, even the pocket change the merch needs to have for 'going about' money is worth more than the hero's entire kit.

Meanwhile a single Crown is enough for an average person to live for a month.

E: Basically, the social and political gaps of the setting have always been a major part of some of the RPG material. Most of the better material actually works with them and takes a look at them; all the stuff on Talabheim's legal gap, where the extreme number of laws produces a system where the guy who can hire a lawyer or accountant has a huge advantage over people who don't (even as the lower classes have the perception that all the laws make the city fair) is great. Bretonnia's examination of a feudal system and how even having the perfect king won't fix poo poo because the system itself exists to crush the people is great. The Border Princes' take on the lure of power and the perceptions of 'strongmen' is fun! But the worse material just doesn't do anything with it and just uses it as another bludgeon for a generic 'everything is poo poo, guess there's no doing anything' take like Thousand Thrones.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 19:30 on Apr 18, 2020

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Night10194 posted:

One of the nice things Old World Armory highlights is that the money you get paid as an Adventurer (assuming you're being paid) is at once a huge loving amount for the average Old Worlder (50-60 GC for a mission is more money than the average family makes in a year) but complete peanuts next to what the nobles and merchants paying you have. Which would be a great way to go about it! You're making money that looks huge to your little band of mercenaries, while risking your lives and while the merch paying you is laughing into his sleeve about how he got you to kill a bunch of Beastmen for less money than he spends throwing a dinner party for his business buddies.

It neatly explains why you do what you do, while highlighting what bullshit it is that people fight to pay you so little while you end up saving the drat world. While still giving you the money you need for the actual mechanical/upgrading parts of the game. And naturally gives you the option to dangle the kind of score that is Real Rich People Money in front of the players, money they could retire on or buy a title with, to get them involved in really crazy stuff.

E: Basically yes, the rideshare thing is correct. Just normally, if you are getting paid, the money you're getting is still an enormous sum to a PC, which is one reason they might not notice how hosed they're getting on the deal.
This sounds almost like a recreation of Rodriguez's core premise for the character of Machete, and it makes me think Machete would be an excellent Warhammer character.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

wiegieman posted:

Chaos loot should be the sort of thing you hand to the wizards/priests and get back as a fancy un-chaosed version in a few sessions.

Or you turn it into the Sigmarites / College of Light and they pay you what its resale value would have been if it wasn't cursed, this program having been implemented and funded in order to cut down the amount of cursed loot in circulation.

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Nessus posted:

This sounds almost like a recreation of Rodriguez's core premise for the character of Machete, and it makes me think Machete would be an excellent Warhammer character.

You don't say?
https://twitter.com/officialDannyT/status/1024001165174829056?s=20

The Skeep
Sep 15, 2007

That Chicken sure loves to drum...sticks
The ultimate grift... Becoming a chaos cultist specifically to curse items and sell them to priests for purification.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

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

The Skeep posted:

The ultimate grift... Becoming a chaos cultist specifically to curse items and sell them to priests for purification.
Using this adventure hook in my hypothetical Witch Hunters game.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

The Skeep posted:

The ultimate grift... Becoming a chaos cultist specifically to curse items and sell them to priests for purification.

Tzeentch? Probably falls under Tzeentch.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP

Falconier111 posted:

Tzeentch? Probably falls under Tzeentch.

Wink and a nod to Malal.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!




Praxys is the tallest building in Thylea, although we don’t get an actual number. The adamantine doors at the front entrance are 40 feet tall, and judging by this outer tower map it looks to be over 400 feet tall by my ballpark estimate. Or about 60 feet less if we discount the giant shining orb on top.

One does not simply sail to Praxys: the seas are perpetually stormy, and the waters seem to have a mind of their own as the ships of his followers are seemingly unhindered. In fact, the PCs will see 30 warships departing from the Tower, heading in the direction of Mytros. They will not attack the party unless provoked, but there are literally hundreds of enemies between them and given 5th Edition’s bounded accuracy a straight-up fight will not work for most builds.

Sydon’s tower is a 37-room, 8 level dungeon; 9 if we count the lighthouse orb containing an intelligent star enslaved by Sydon. Much like the Island of Yonder, the inhabitants of Praxys have proper military training and there’s a 2-page chart of the make-up and composition of rooms based on different levels of ‘alert’ status. Virtually every room has an entry explaining what NPCs will do in the event that they become aware of infiltration or assault. The party has different means of gaining access to the tower, although Sydon has contingencies for most things possessed by mid-level adventuring parties and conventional armies. The front gate is guarded by cyclops artillerists operating ballista, and the door itself is made out of adamantine and can only be opened either by unbarring the other side or 200 combined Strength. A group of griffons and harpies fly around the towers’ upper levels on the lookout for aerial assaults, while the pipes and plumbing system draining out into the sea has merrow operators. Last but not least, every room of the tower has a permanent Forbiddance spell which blocks teleportation and ethereal travel into or out of Praxys. The monsters are varied, ranging from the martial and giantish races being the most common to less obvious choices such as a cerberus hound, an euryale medusa, and several of Sydon’s empyrean children.

This makes for a dramatically different contrast than Lutheria’s barge, and is even remarked upon by Kyrah and other knowledgeable NPCs in the adventure path who suggest visiting the Nether Sea first for this very reason. The Lady of Dreams is dangerous, but her immaturity and hedonism make for poor organization. The Lord of Storms, on the other hand, is very much the exemplary Lawful Evil Overlord and as such has a much more difficult dungeon.

I’m not going to go over every room, but instead will cover some of the more interesting chambers and subplots:

1. A tribe of myrmekes whose queen is taken hostage by Sydon. They are forced to use their amazing talents to build tools of war, and may help the PCs assault the citadel if their queen is freed.
2. A satyr cook who has had it up to here with Sydon’s dysfunctional family and offers to smuggle the PCs up several levels by hiding them in baked bread loaves sized for Huge creatures.
3. The Heavens, a level connected to the extraplanar realm of Elysium which feels like a veritable paradise. Here Sydon can reward his still-living followers who served him well, while also being able to call upon his spiritual servants from said plane as reinforcements.
4. Nephele, a silver dragon prisoner who is the magical clone of Balmytria, famed heroine of the First War. She is kept as breeding stock to produce dragon eggs for Sydon’s forces, and hates the Lord of Storms so much she’ll be happy to fight Sydon if freed. But only Sydon, she won’t intervene in other fights barring the proper Epic Path.
5. A sparring ground and arena with remote-activated traps and an audience chamber protected by a Wall of Force. One of Sydon’s sons will test the PCs by releasing 3 metallic dragon broodmares to fight the party.
6. A throne room with a sinisterly-appropriate round table whose surface is an accurate map of the Thylean continent and which Sydon is attuned to so he can teleport anywhere accurately on said continent and its seas. There’s a nearby treasure vault containing Sydon’s greatest trophies and possessions, including the original signed copy of the Oath of Peace...which for some reason none of the Five Gods have a copy of. And no, the book does not provide a handout or specifics of said Oath.
7. A telescope-scrying chamber that is the home of the 3 Furies. Oddly enough they’re normal erinyes, but neutral instead of evil. They also are not fond of Sydon and will offer the PCs advice on how to sabotage his plans and/or tower in exchange for 1 magic item per helpful hint.
8. Praxys’ very top, whose giant magical orb holds an imprisoned star which gives off great heat and light. The PCs can free it from its bondage by reuniting it with one of its kin, who can conveniently be found in a pool-portal to the Astral Plane in one of Praxys’ upper level rooms. When reunited (the stars are Medium size, not IRL size) the imprisoned star will break free in a great burst of light, causing the rest of the tower to violently shudder and start collapsing. Needless to say this is one of the 3 options which will summon Sydon to the dungeon to confront the PCs, the other 2 being killing the Cerberus hound or breaking into his treasure vault.

Generic Video Game Trope Alert: Load-Bearing Boss: It is traditional to have a boss battle where the conclusion results in the dungeon violently collapsing, exploding, or otherwise spelling certain death for the party should they not get out in time. In some cases you have to fight the boss while the timer is counting down! The freeing of the star has no set time limit, instead determined by what the DM feels is just enough for their party’s own capabilities for escaping.



Battle With the Lord of Storms: Sydon does not fight alone: he has one of his favorite empyrean children accompanying him. Instead of immediately fighting the party, he will compliment them for their sheer bravery and give a short yet classic evil speech of “join me or die.” Unlike Lutheria, he has no interest in renewing the Oath of Peace: he spent centuries manipulating events for this eventual war and will look weak to his followers if he suddenly calls it off. Instead his terms are for the PCs to join him, otherthrow the Five Gods, and replace them as mortal kings of Thylea for a new order where he and only he is worshiped. In exchange he will spare Mytros, give divine legitimacy to their ruling status in exchange for sacrifice and tribute, and can give them magic items from his vault but only enough for half the party because he hopes to divide them via selfish greed.

The adventure naturally expects that the PCs will defy him and take up arms against the god, even more so than Lutheria. Joining Sydon and felling the Five Gods is not supported at all in the rest of the adventure path, so it sounds more like a Non-Standard Game Over where the PCs forsake their duties and join the cause of evil.

Sydon has more or less the exact same stats as his sister Lutheria. The major changes are that he’s Lawful Evil instead of Chaotic Evil and has a different load-out of innate spells, legendary actions, and a magic glaive and elemental bolt as his two main attacks. He’ll be a tougher match than Lutheria for several reasons: one, he has more long-range capabilities such as a 600 foot range elemental bolt which can take the form of lightning or any other energy type besides psychic and necrotic. He can create a fusillade of lightning bolts or strike the ground causing tremors as his Legendary Actions alongside the predictable ‘attack again’ option. His innate spells are of more immediate battle use: Greater Restoration can counter most debuffs, while Control Weather, Tsunami, and Storm of Vengeance are highly appropriate and useful in the terrain in which the PCs fight him. His utility spells include Water Breathing (to use on his followers), Water Walk, Pass Without Trace, and Plane Shift which can work only on himself. Only Pass Without Trace doesn’t really fit, given he doesn’t seem the type to be subtle.

However, Sydon will not fight to the death, even should his tower be collapsing. He would much prefer to be leading the siege of Mytros and use the map in the throne room to teleport to the city once he loses enough hit points. His empyrean daughter will fight and hold off the PCs in this case. Still, it is possible for the party to kill him, although the Battle of Mytros will still happen but in different circumstances.

Epic Paths: The Gifted One’s locket-grandmother can offer to spiritually bond with the dragon Nephele, granting it a soul which clones do not apparently have. Said dragon will now be able to speak and be slightly more helpful despite its mind now having warring personalities. The dragons in the arena will focus all of their attacks on the Dragonslayer. If the Gifted One and Sydon meet face-to-face, he will instinctively recognize the PC as their grandchild. The Lord of Storms will cautiously appraise the PC’s capabilities, but inevitably find himself disappointed that his descendant is but a tiny, frail mortal.

Thoughts So Far: I like this chapter much better than the Nether Sea, as it feels appropriately high-stakes for the eventual battle with a god. Sydon’s followers show actual tactical competence unlike Lutheria’s drug and wine-addled minions, and there’s a surprising amount of intrigue and alliances the PCs can take advantage of for a combat-heavy dungeon crawl. The various rooms paint a clear picture of Sydon’s plans and capabilities in a way Lutheria’s barge does not: the giant map-table, the scrying-telescope, the training arena, and even the optional encounter of the fleet sailing for war communicate to the players that this is a god who is taking the end of the Oath of Peace seriously.

While I understand that Lutheria’s psychotic nature and emotionally-stunted personality are tropes which can work for the right villain, I cannot help but feel that she fails in comparison to Sydon who feels like a much more existential threat. Not to mention less potentially problematic and squicky stuff besides the forced breeding of dragons. Which is still just one plot element to change around vs many in Lutheria’s case.

Join us next time as the Doom of Thylea arrives in Chapter 9: the Battle of Mytros!

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019

wiegieman posted:

Chaos loot should be the sort of thing you hand to the wizards/priests and get back as a fancy un-chaosed version in a few sessions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3--5jL6fOY

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

Night10194 posted:

The Border Princes' take on the lure of power and the perceptions of 'strongmen' is fun!

Oh hey!

People get into tabletop RPGs in all sorts of ways; they were introduced to them by a friend, encountered them in a game store, or found a rulebook in a bookstore that grabbed their interest. I got into them through a version of the last method: I found a copy of GURPS Space in a Barnes & Noble, saw tables in the back for randomly generating planets and alien species, and immediately snapped it up because I was and am the kind of nerd to spend hours rolling on those tables. I’ve loved doing that sort of thing ever since, so when I heard someone dedicated an official sourcebook to that, I had to download that poo poo. And now that I have nothing to do during the quarantine and because I do what I want, I get to show it to you.



Part 1: Introduction and Chapter 1: Geography

For those of you unfamiliar with the more obscure parts of the Warhammer Fantasy world, the Border Princes (refer to it as one thing with a plural name, i.e. the United States) is the name of a miserable stretch of badlands way to the south of where most games take place, stretching between the borders of Bretonnia, Tilea (fantasy Italy), and a gigantic stretch of even less hospitable land mostly occupied by orcs. It’s kind of a dumping ground for everyone in the setting who’s desperate enough to choose the worst possible place to resettle without having to face down actively hostile governments. Before they released Renegade Crowns, they’d established elsewhere that politics and society in the Border Princes were a swirling mess of civil war and counter-coups that made the systematic approach they’d used in other regional sourcebooks impossible, so the authors just dedicated half the book to methods to randomly generate a campaign setting in the region and the other half to DM advice for using that setting once you put it together. As we’ve seen in the thread, official Warhammer Fantasy adventures are kind of poo poo, but Renegade Crowns takes the opposite approach; it gives you a toolbox to use to generate a campaign from the ground up, providing players with a clear goal (taking the place over), plenty of story hooks, and an interconnected world the players can wedge themselves into as it moves around them. Having used them multiple times, the results you get from these tables just seem to mesh naturally and create something interesting every time.

So that’s what I’m going to do with this review (for the first half of the review at least). I’ll take you step-by-step through the process of creating a region, exploring its quirks and elements as we go, before illustrating how the second half of the book gives you tools you can use to make that setting playable.

Before we begin, I should establish a few things that characterize the Border Princes, just so we can all be on the same page:
  • The land here can barely support agriculture or pastoralism, so populations are low and stakes are high. Resources are desperately rare here compared to anywhere else in the world.
  • As far as the book is concerned, the Border Princes has no native population (the Warhammer wiki mentions a few principalities with Greekish names, but Renegade Crowns never references them, so I do now.) Most people in the area are either immigrants from the rest of the world or their children and grandchildren. Since nobody goes there unless they have no other options, the Border Princes is a hive of scum and villainy populated mostly by criminals, opportunists, and oppressed peasants.
  • These conditions create an excess of population and deficit of land, making bloodshed an always viable option when it comes to survival. If you’re familiar with pond ecology, think that on a societal scale and you have it about right; people are constantly fighting, murdering, betraying, and undermining each other, with nearly every ruler coming to power after killing their predecessor and dying to their successor. However, the presence of orcs, Chaos worshipers, marauding undead, and local monsters keeps them from getting too involved in mutual murder, leading to cooperation between people who hate each other.
  • For a place that’s kind of a gigantic shithole, the Border Princes has a long and complex history. It’s kind of a graveyard of empires; the area’s seen invasions from Nehekhara (fantasy ancient Egypt, eventually became the Tomb Kings), Araby (fantasy, well, Arabia), and Bretonnia, all of which ended up vanishing into the badlands. Combine the stuff they left behind with dwarven ruins, the aftermath of Chaos activity, and weird crap with no obvious origin and you have some wild stuff hiding out in the hills.
  • The Border Princes is characterized by those titular princes: a variety of exiles, strongmen, and would-be rulers who constantly fight for control. No matter how powerful they are, everything they work for will have vanished within a few generations their tests. Any Prince you generate has something like a one-in-20 chance of rising through a peaceful transfer of power instead of some flavor of murder; any government in the region lasting more than three generations is literally unheard of. If there’s a single theme running underneath any Border Princes campaign, it’s a failed interplay of trust and power; in order to come to power, a prince has to surround themselves with figures they can trust to carry out their will, but trusting anyone opens them up to betrayal and probable death. “Futility” might also be another underlying theme, since nothing’s going to last more than a few generations anyway. Everything in the Border Princes is temporary, including anything the players achieve. The book straight up says changing the status quote of the Border Princes is impossible. Instead, the PCs are looking for temporal power and wealth, regardless of what it might bring next – tying them neatly into the cynical themes others in the thread have pointed out underlie Warhammer Fantasy.
  • For the obligatory fluff text, Renegade Crowns tells us the story of one Ilsa, a traveler-turned-Prince, and a bunch of little asides scattered throughout the book. They are kind of generic and spread out, so I’ll summarize her story for you here; she arrives in the Border Princes, complains about the conditions a lot, backstabs her way into power, and dies resenting the guy who backstabbed her. Awesome!

We good? We good. Let’s go.



So the first stage of building the campaign map is laying out a grid. Exciting! The book recommends a 20x20 grid for first-time cartographers but I’m going with 30x30 because I’m a badass. This shall be the beginning of the wonderful road we will travel together, guided along the way by my terrible skills at MSPaint. Way this works is I’m going to make a bunch of rolls on this chart:


Yes, all the charts look like this, but this is one of the biggest. Also, check out that border art!

Each pair of d100 rolls will give me a terrain type and how many squares to fill in with it. Each terrain chunk has two parts: terrain type (badlands, which are so rocky they make farming impossible; hills, which are gentle enough to support animal husbandry and some farming; mountains, which are mountains; plains, which are flat enough to farm or easily traverse; and swamps, which are wet, inhospitable, and generally suck) and vegetation (barren, which means desert, unbroken rock, or terrain uninhabitable for some other reason; scrublands, which are too poor to support human settlement but not borderline impassable; forested, meaning the area has enough trees to supply settlements with wood, forage, and also evil goat people; and grassy, which means the area is actually fertile enough to (in theory) support respectable agriculture). You can also get rivers, which the GM has freedom to draw out as they like, and a variety of unique features. Every time you roll on the chart, you add 10 to the next roll until you get a special feature, after which it resets. You just keep going until each map square (which, by the way, represents 16 mi.˛, or length-wise about the distance you can travel in a day over local terrain) has something in it.

(By the way, I won’t be going this in-depth in the process in the future; right now I’m showing you the basic structure this all runs off.)

Now, while this looks complicated and time-consuming at first blush, that’s because it is. It isn’t actually that difficult a process but building a map does take a while. If you take a close look at the chart (don’t bother, I did it for you), you will notice the results can make you fill in awkward numbers of squares at the same time, place terrains in ways that don’t make geological sense, and leave you with more terrain than the map can fit. They address these issues all at once with my single favorite section in the book;

Renegade Crowns posted:

The first four chapter of this book contains a lot of random tables. Indeed, it consists almost entirely of random tables and guidelines on how to use them. These tables are provided purely to help you create a setting for your campaign. You should ignore the results generated by the tables whenever you have a better idea. If you don’t like the result of a roll, re-roll. This is not “cheating.” This is not even “misusing the book.” This is what you are supposed to do with this book.

One of the hardest parts of creating a campaign setting is filling in the necessary background for the areas where you don’t have great ideas. Use the tables for that. Sometimes, coming up with a great concept is equally difficult, and you can just use the tables and see what the results inspire. However, the tables are there for you to use when you do not have plans of your own. If you have ideas, ignore the tables completely. If a result gives you an idea, ignore all the sub-tables and just put it in.

The tables exist to make your life easier, not to restrict what you can write. Use them as such.

Hell. loving. Yes. Most books that make use of random tables heavily urge you to use results-as-rolled, no matter how much they might clash; they usually rationalize it by pointing out that reconciling contradictory results is a great way to spark creativity. This is true and I have never once failed to fudge a roll a roll to get a more interesting outcome. This is the first time I’ve seen a book acknowledge that, and my first time through I fell in love over the course of three paragraphs. I will make copious use of this principle in the rolls ahead.


Behold! The land of Camet!

Some notes on the map:
  • I know this map isn’t especially pretty, but I don’t care.
  • I am in awe of how fertile this region turned out to be. I mean, I did fudge a few rolls, but I didn’t touch the rolls that gave me grassy hills and plains. Usually a map this size has maybe half as many agriculture-suitable squares. By Border Princes standards this place is practically paradise.
  • Rivers are (I think) supposed to be just long lines, but I find place names tend to fit awkwardly over hand-drawn borders so I usually just treat rivers like any other terrain type, just following a course instead of laid down like other types. Is there a better way to represent them so it doesn’t look like this river is multiple miles across? Probably. Just imagine the river runs down the middle of those squares and each side has the same terrain type as its neighbors. Also, I ended up fluffing this river as prone to extreme seasonal flooding, so I guess blue squares represent those areas underwater at the river’s height.
  • A tor is a tall hill with one accessible path up it and a fertile valley represents farmland that’s up to the standards of the rest of the world; both of those are prime locations for urban settlement and will probably be where any towns happen to pop up when we get to that stage of map generation. I’ve never seen that many in a map this size though, holy crap, this map.
  • Those brown lines represent high cliffs. They aren’t labeled as such in the key because I forgot and only noticed it as I was uploading this post, and like hell am I going to rejigger the layout of all the maps I’ve made for this review to fit one relatively-obvious element in.
  • I didn’t just lay these sections out on the map in order of when I rolled them; I organized my results to more-or-less evenly space inhabitable areas around the center and fill the areas between them and the sides of the map with more hostile terrain. This will give future princes enough space to hold a core territory and struggle to take over their neighbors while leaving room for monsters and ruins. The results may not be geologically sensible, but the book tells us this is common in the Border Princes and also see the first bullet in the list.

Oh, speaking of ruins, that’s the next step in the process. Scavengers and desperate locals either destroy or reoccupy most abandoned structures and settlements in the Border Princes, but a few ruins and up being left untouched; these usually have some kind of supernatural menace haunting them scary enough to keep out interlopers. Ruins fill the role of dungeons, providing places a party might explore to either have a break from local politics or fish out something useful to use in their quest for regional domination. Renegade Crowns HEAVILY encourages you to fiddle with the results you get in this stage, since the results you get this early in the process say a lot about the region and its history: not only do they tell you who’s been through the area and why, but they imply what the tone of your campaign might be; more ruins means adventurers and supernatural elements are more likely to show up, while fewer ruins in the area makes for a more mundane and politically-focused game. I rolled a modest number of ruins in the area, so I guess this map offers a bit of both.

Five elements define each ruin: type, ancient menace, original purpose, reason, and age.
  • Type: the culture or group that built the ruin. The book describes how each group built their structures, a ruin’s aesthetics, and what generally happened after they abandoned them, covering multiple human cultures, dwarves, cultists, and the occasional Border Princes oddities (everything from ruined magic universities to displaced buildings from halfway across the world to things like ruined versions of a party member’s hometown).
  • Ancient Menace: the reason why the ruin hasn’t been dismantled yet, with rolls modified by the ruin’s type. These range from supernatural threats like demons through nebulous plot devices down to hillbilly stereotypes (or a one in 20 chance of nothing). The book refuses to define any of these threats beyond what they are and speculation on how you use them, pointing out that a GM probably knows what’s best for their region more than a bunch of random tables. It also provides advice on how these threats might influence the region if they escape the ruin/the GM wants to mix local politics up.
  • Original Purpose: what kind of building or settlement the ruin used to be, such as a settlement, fortification, or religious structure, with the roll also modified by type. Curiously, Ancient Menace and Original Purpose aren’t connected; you’d think, say, that undead would be more likely to show up in a tomb, but I guess they decided to simplify rolling. Sensible enough. Also curiously, oddities have no entry on this table, which also makes sense since they are supposed to be inexplicable.
  • Reason: why the ruin ended up abandoned. This section is pretty mundane, just covering stuff like civil war or natural disasters or resource exhaustion, with a small chance of getting something supernatural. This is the only table not influenced by the ruin’s type AND the only one to use a D10 instead of a D100.
  • Age: when all this took place. This is the only subsection to not use random rolls; instead it includes a timeline and advice for how GMs might slot the ruin into the region’s history.

Once you finish rolling up your ruins, you’ve completed the first quarter of region generation and are ready to start generating actual Princes of the Border Princes. So let’s do that.



Through the magic of d100s, map labels, and yet more mediocre MSPaint art, we now have a completed terrain map of our new region – and with it, and idea of its history. Let’s go down the list:
  • Old Camer (Khemri, Undead, Fortress, Natural Decay, ~1500): When the Nehekarans first conquered the land that would become the Border Princes, they mostly simply installed satraps that governed and taxed the local populations; the ruins most Cametians call Old Camer were a rare exception. Settled by excess population from the capital city of Khemri (from which the ruins and region both get their names), Nehekharan Camet thrived for centuries, its Khemri immigrants farming the floodplains of the River Vital and freely mixing with the hillfolk who inhabited the region before them. When the Nehekharan civilization declined and pulled back within its borders, Old Camet remade itself as an independent culture and thrived for centuries, only for the Great Spring to become more erratic and permanently flood the River’s banks. Old Camet collapsed under the weight of its own population with its primary food source gone. At some point, a priest (now a folkloric figure called Old Rags) smuggled the secret to raising the dead out of their homeland to make tireless workers and enforcers for the collapsing state, but the presence of undead monsters only sealed the country’s doom and hastened its population turning on it. These days the city has nearly vanished into the swamp, marked only by scattered rubble and skeletons failing to dredge the area out; the only intact structure is the city’s former Citadel, still guarded by the undead. The Khemri have long since vanished as an independent people, but they left their mark in place and personal names among their descendants. To this day, those descendants pass around rumors of the fabulous riches hidden in the old fortress.
  • Al-Misra/Spiral Town (Arabyan, Plague, Settlement, Policy, ~600): The Arabyans also built their own city when they arrived in Camet; the locals now call it Spiral Town, since even centuries later visitors can see spiraling minarets over the city’s crumbling walls. Compared to its Nehekharan predecessor, Al-Misra was a modest town of herders and foresters, but it housed one unique feature: a small outpost of a major Arabyan wizard society. This outpost proved the town’s doom. Around 600 years ago, some foolish mage summoned a Daemon now called the Spirit of the Mountains into that order’s enclave. The plague it promptly released ravaged the city, emptying it of population within a week. Instead of trying to reclaim the city, Araby opted to abandon the region and focus its forces elsewhere; after sealing the Daemon away, they left Camet to its devices.
  • Castle March (Recent Human, Daemon, Fortress, Civil War, ~50): After they left, Camet sank into the standard cycle of decay that characterizes the Border Princes. But part of that cycle is the occasional strong personality that can unite a region. The last Prince to unite Camet was a Bretonnian noblewoman called the Marquise who ruled her domain out of a fortification she dubbed Castle March. As is also the pattern, when she died after a quarter-century of peaceful rule her heirs immediately turned on each other and ripped the realm apart. At some point, one heir managed to seize Castle March before the others formed a coalition to take her down; as they mounted a final assault on the walls, that heir revealed her trump card – she had somehow found and compelled the Spirit of the Mountains to fight for. It killed all her foes before turning on her and slaughtering every person in the fortress. If someone were to defeat the Spirit and reclaim Castle March, they would hold possibly the single greatest stronghold in Camet. But until they find a way to do so, the castle sits abandoned, leaking corruption and plague into the surroundings.
  • Aliyah’s Tower (Arabyan, Weapon, Outpost, Magic, ~600): If they want to do so, they probably ought to start here. As Araby pulled out of Camet, they deployed several elite members of the same order that produced the Spirit to seal it away. They fought it up and down Camet until they lured it into the distant tower of one Aliyah bint Yasmin, the only mage to survive the fall of Al-Misra. Every other wizard there died in the struggle to contain the Daemon before she finally sealed it away. After that, Aliyah disappeared into the Cametian populace, later being made into a folk hero who hunted mutants and cultists of Chaos. Most people in Came know the story, but the details – the location of the tower, how the Spirit was sealed, the actual fate of Aliyah – have long been lost. Finding them again could change the course of Cametian history.

And we’re done with the intro and chapter 1! Next up on the docket is generating the princes themselves, followed by laying out their domains and scattering monsters in for flavor. I have no idea how much space each chapter will need, so we’ll see how everything fits together when we get there.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Renegade Crowns was one of the big surprises of WHFRP2e for me. I had heard over and over again that it was 'bad' or 'disappointing', but I loved it when I took a look at it. Making lovely border realms 1/2 the size of Rhode Island is just a good time, and Chart really gets how to use randomization. "Roll, but if you roll and immediately go 'dang I wished I'd rolled X' then just put X in, you just realized you were hoping for X" is exactly the right way to do randomization for concept generation.

E: I think people who bought it were expecting something like the Bretonnia or Kislev books, and got 'make your own lovely duchy the size of a postage stamp where 3-5 2nd tier characters are actually a power to be reckoned with' and got annoyed it wasn't full of dense fluff. I get that, especially considering David Chart's excellent work on Bretonnia, but goddamn do I like what Renegade Crowns did as its approach to a place that's as much of a goddamn mess as the Border Princes.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 03:56 on Apr 19, 2020

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time


I love random charts; this is great.

e: speaking of random charts, would anyone be interested in a one-post writeup of the lifepath system from Star Light Brigade? I couldn't do the whole game because it's in a language I don't read, but the lifepath system has been translated and it's just such a good encapsulation of the genre it's meant to emulate (mecha anime) that I'd love to share it.

Leraika fucked around with this message at 04:24 on Apr 19, 2020

Ablative
Nov 9, 2012

Someone is getting this as an avatar. I don't know who, but it's gonna happen.
I rolled a map once.


I ended up with Boatmurdered, the Uncharted version of Irem, and some shitfarmers in the river delta immediately adjacent to both.

What I'm saying is, these charts loving rule.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

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

Renegade Crowns and the random dungeon generator book for D&D 3.5 - Dungeonscape, I think? - are my two favorite toolkit random generator books. The GURPS books are okay, but they were a little too focused on being accurate or correct to produce a lot of fun results. I did enjoy the fascists alien cow centaurs I rolled up with GURPS Space though.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

Leraika posted:

I love random charts; this is great.

e: speaking of random charts, would anyone be interested in a one-post writeup of the lifepath system from Star Light Brigade? I couldn't do the whole game because it's in a language I don't read, but the lifepath system has been translated and it's just such a good encapsulation of the genre it's meant to emulate (mecha anime) that I'd love to share it.

:justpost: :justpost: :justpost:

Tibalt posted:

Renegade Crowns and the random dungeon generator book for D&D 3.5 - Dungeonscape, I think? - are my two favorite toolkit random generator books. The GURPS books are okay, but they were a little too focused on being accurate or correct to produce a lot of fun results. I did enjoy the fascists alien cow centaurs I rolled up with GURPS Space though.

GURPS Space aliens do tend to come out like centipedes, don't they? All those segments with their own legs.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!




This chapter happens on the 60th day since the PCs began their voyage. 10 days before that Kyrah and the ship’s crew will grow increasingly worried and encourage them to speed up their quest if they have not confronted Sydon and/or Lutheria.

As the 60th day dawns, Kyrah and Pythor will dramatically watch gathering storm clouds on the Ultros’ Deck, grimly announcing that due to the Oath’s conditions they are no longer gods. Slowly they transform into their original forms, beautiful bronze dragons who take flight immediately so as to not weigh down the ship. Everyone present recognizes these dragons as the original ones who came to Thylea with the Dragonlords 500 years ago due to Special God Magic. Kyrah and Pythor will explain how the silver dragon Balmytria tricked the titans into giving up some of their divine power, which was used to turn themselves into the Five Gods. Mytros has since ascended to the celestial planes, with the other 4 watching over the realm left behind.

Of more practical concern, the 4 no-longer-gods have respectable stats as young bronze dragons but are Huge sized. PCs with the appropriate Epic Path or the Oath of the Dragonlord Paladin archetype can bond with them by sacrificing a magic item, although they will aid the PCs in battle regardless. Which seems a bit of a downgrade as said dragons will lose multiattack and have their breath weapons recharge on long rests...which due to the specifics of the battle below means they’ll only ever use it once per dragon the entire chapter!

Mytros is in chaos by the time the PCs arrive. Fleets of Sydon’s ships breached the harbor, and the city’s forces are losing ground to the invaders. King Acastus is holed up somewhere instead of animating the Colossus, while his silver dragon Icarus went insane from being fed too many aging potions and is attacking friend and foe alike around the harbor. Meanwhile Lutheria is taking advantage of the chaos if the PCs did not renew the Oath with her.

In the event that both Sydon and Lutheria are dead (or pactsworn in case of the latter), then Sydon’s forces still attack Mytros albeit serving under mortal leaders of their Order. Instead the PCs’ main threat will be Kentimane, who has come to destroy Mytros for the murder of his son and/or daughter.

Editing Retcon: I made a bit of a mistake in regards to the Nether Sea chapter. Lutheria will not go on her rape and murder spree in Mytros if the PCs swore Oaths of Service to her as part of the Oath of Peace bargain. Which makes what I thought was a major plothole less of one, although there’s still the issue of what happens if she’s called out when cheating at Twenty Squares.

There are 4 major encounters plus a 5th optional one comprising the Battle of Mytros, and the PC don’t even have time for short rests between them. The amount of civilian casualties is an important one, and numbers accrue on a variety of factors. In addition to their various allies the PCs have four of the former gods turned bronze dragons to aid them in all battles, but they can blunt said civilian casualties by dispensing two of said dragons to help evacuate the city and rescue people instead of helping for one encounter. Mytros smiles upon this self-sacrifice, and PCs who command her brethren to do so will receive divine blessings which last until the end of the siege. The encounters can be done in any order, although the fifth one will only activate if Sydon and/or Lutheria are killed.

:bioware: Trope Alert: Main City Under Siege! Mass Effect had a Reaper attack the Citadel at the end of the first game. Dragon Age’s epic conclusion took place in the capital of Denerim, while its sequel had the Qunari invade the city of Kirkwall where most of the game takes place. Although not a siege per se, the cult of Bhaal attempted to worsen relations between the city of Baldur’s Gate and Amn to forement a war in the original Baldur’s Gate game.

The first encounter involves neutralizing Icarus, who is an Ancient Silver Dragon but suffers from disadvantage on rolls every other round due to not being used to his new powers. His massive body and breath weapon will inevitably result in more dead citizens unless the PCs direct his attention to them or otherwise neutralize his floundering maneuvers.

The second encounter involves confronting King Acastus at the Olympics stand. His so-called Order of Dragonlords are ineffectual, and after suffering many losses he figures that a mass human sacrifice along with the PCs will stay the Titans’ wrath. He also holds a Rod of Rulership which is needed to activate the remaining Colossus, which thankfully is still intact. Acastus himself is nothing special (he’s equivalent to a fighter around the PCs’ level) but he has 7 captains and young copper dragon mounts who can be a bother.

And yes, the Colossus of Pythor can be operated by one PC like a giant mecha. Seeing it walk improves morale among Mytros’ inhabitants, who point up to the horizon and shout that the gods have come to save them. The Colossus has a kickass stat block: it has an amazing 620 hit points, golem construct immunities, is impervious to nonmagical physical attacks, and has a giant spear attack and its own set of Legendary actions which includes an AoE stomp.

And before you ask, it has to be Acastus’ specific Rod of Rulership. The one possessed by the incubus on the Isle of Typhon does not count.

The third encounter involves confronting Sydon, and he’s not alone. Two of his empyrean children along with the three best warriors among the centaur, minotaur,* and gygan races make up his personal honor guard. Figuring that even the PCs will be awed by his unstoppable opposition, he’ll pull a Kneel Before Zod on them. Not to spare them, he just wants to humiliate them in public. PCs who play along and make a successful roll to trick him can get in a surprise round. If the PCs made a pact with Lutheria, she’ll show up for three rounds and attack her brother. Sydon has had it up to here with her** and focuses his attacks on her for this duration. Killing Sydon will result in an epic death throe where he looks in horror at his own wounds, unable to comprehend losing before bursting in a wave of power which sends torrential rains to blanket the region for weeks on end.

*which is a surprise, considering that the Order loves sacrificing them and looks down on them like much of Thylean society.

**their strained relationship is more or less offscreen.

If Lutheria is not constrained by the Oath, she’ll...sigh...be casually walking the streets of Mytros, casting spells to make citizens turn into animals and also to rape and/or cannibalize each other. Which is described briefly onscreen for the boxed text encounter. She finds the entire affair funny and will eventually attack the PCs out of boredom if they do not do so first.

The final encounter happens only if one or both Titans were killed, which is very likely as Sydon fights to the death. Gradually earthquakes will shake the region every minute, growing more intense until a giant hand slams down on the mountain range over the horizon. An even larger body connected to the hand will lift itself from a lying position to full height: it is Kentimane the Hundred-Handed, who has come to take revenge upon the PCs for slaying his children by destroying them and the entire city.



Kentimane is the strongest enemy in this entire adventure path. I’m just going to copy-paste his stat block below:



Even worse, the PCs have to defeat him in less than 10 rounds. Every round he deals immense collateral damage, destroying one entire neighborhood or large notable building. By the 10th round the city is in ruins. The PCs can mitigate some of these casualties by luring him away from the city (most likely offshore) or dispatch 2 bronze dragons to rescue 5,000 citizens.

At this point in the adventure path the designers assume that the party will be around 12th level. Not only did they likely fight one or two Titans, but also Sydon’s Empyrean children who are no pushovers themselves. And this is all without any short or long rests. Although they may have action economy on their side and a few NPC allies, chances are the party is in no condition to fight Kentimane at this time: the party warlock is likely reduced to their eldritch blasts, the primary casters’ best spell slots are likely expended, and limited healing resources will be consumed to make up for an inability to spend Hit Dice to heal due to the lack of short rests.

It’s up to the DM whether defeating Kentimane results in his true destruction or merely merging with the earth where he falls.

The battle’s conclusion depends on how many casualties the city as a whole took. The death toll is determined by looking at how many rounds the PCs took to defeat Kentimane* and deduct the values for every encounter where they sent the bronze dragons to rescue citizens. High casualties are a pyrrhic victory where people are in mourning and nobody really celebrates the PCs’ heroism. Medium means that there’s rejoicing at the fall of the Titans; the PCs are valorized and most certainly elevated to positions of political leadership. Low casualties are the same as medium, save that the PCs are viewed as practically gods and end up having many cults springing up dedicated to their worship.

*which makes no sense if he never shows up, as the casualties to defeating him in 1 round (literally impossible barring some 3rd party cheese or a horde of attacking characters with magical weapons and spells) are a mere 200 citizens.

But one thing is certain: there’s a huge power vacuum in Thylea. The old titans are either dead or powerless, the New Gods save Mytros are now but mortals, and the city-states of Estoria and Mytros lost their leaders. The rest of the adventure path focuses on this political/religious upset and the uncertain chaos that follows.

Thoughts So Far: Odyssey of the Dragonlords was originally a shorter adventure path in the initial KickStarter, and I have the feeling that this was its original endpoint. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and given Sydon’s likely retreat in Praxys means he will most certainly be fought here to a last stand. The Kentimane insertion feels like it was meant to be an alternate in case the Lord of Storms was slain beforehand. But it feels both unexpected and robs the PCs of an otherwise climactic encounter against the Titan siblings by throwing him in out of the blue.

The lack of any kinds of rest is meant to simulate desperation, but it really screws with PC resources and hurts the short-rest focused classes like warlock the most. Even should the party have allies beyond the bronze dragons and colossus, the legendary status of pretty much every major encounter besides King Acastus means that they’ll take a lot of special attacks and spells to put down.

Join us next time as the PCs get a strange request to find replacements for the lost gods in Chapter 10: the New Pantheon!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 05:11 on Apr 20, 2020

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Pictured: Poster prepares to celebrate Holy Communion (probablY)

This avatar made possible by a gift from the Religionthread Posters Relief Fund
Yeah if I ever get around to playing this I am not having grabby mc rear end in a top hat show up.

Fivemarks
Feb 21, 2015
I think you're supposed to have the players use the Colossus to have a GIANT ROBOT FIGHT with Kentimane.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Thousand Thrones

Relatively Inoffensive

Chapter 6 takes place near Wolfenburg, the capitol of Ostland. Remembering from Sigmar's Heirs, Wolfenburg did not have a good time in the Storm. It was right in the path of Archy's march to Middenheim, and while it had its own walls and troops, Ostland is one of the least densely populated and poorest parts of the Empire. While all of Ostland put up a surprisingly good fight that delayed Archy's armies and forced them to bypass multiple fortresses, Wolfenburg itself was not so fortunate and was completely razed. It didn't get the Praag treatment; Archy didn't have time, nor was he the same kind of methodical commander as Kul anyway, but Wolfenburg is by all accounts a corpse city that the Ostland Count can't yet afford to rebuild. I'm not really sure why the Crusade came here, except that it's on the way to Kislev and Karl keeps saying he wants to go there, so maybe they figured they could catch him if he escaped? It also makes no sense to be here if Karl was a double as per this chapter's introduction and its means to continue the campaign if the PCs lost or killed Karl; if they still had Karl back in Altdorf, they could have tried to slip him in to see the Emperor like planned after baiting out Tobias.

Similarly, no matter what the PCs did to Karl, when they arrive in Wolfenburg the starving, crazy Crusade invites them back, with Karl personally telling everyone they're great guys and gals. Which is weird; he does this even if you tried and failed to murder him. What's his game here? No-one knows, it's just necessary for the campaign to continue, so shut up and get back in your seat. Keep your hands and legs inside the ride until the railroad is over. The Crusade is suffering since our heroes last saw it. Being without Karl for awhile made most of the Crusade realize this was sort of stupid and they went home, sheepishly excusing themselves. Being without his aura for over a month breaks the effect; heck, you only have to be outside it for a few days, which means Johan and Sif check to see if they get re-mind-whammied. Johan's WP has also increased immensely; he put all 400 or so EXP from last adventure into it. Which means Johan is no longer under Karl's spell. However, the party still seems to be on board with rescuing the kid, so he goes along with it, wondering why he used to be so rapturous about this. Sif similarly breaks free after a Fortune point, which means they basically could have just dragged the kid away from all this and brought him somewhere safe, or talked to him more carefully about why he wants to go to Kislev, but again: No getting off this train. Just remember none of our heroes are mind-whammied for the rest of the story. They'll have to justify participating entirely based on their own free wills. Sif is also a little annoyed, realizing she's been calling someone 'Better Sigmar', but an oath is an oath and she's no oath-breaker, so she still tells the kid she'll protect him.

Wolfenburg is a problem for the Crusade because there are few people, there's no safety, and there isn't any food. They can't 'live off the land'. A huge series of Chaos Armies already lived off this land, and that means this year's harvest is already hosed, most of the farms and larders are already looted and/or burned, significant portions of Ostland are blighted and will need Rhyans/Taalites and Jade Magisters to come unfuck them, and there's no trade to stick up and ask for donations. Meanwhile, the Wood Elves are coming back, though somewhere along the way the lone elf the PCs saved in the coaching inn has become their leader instead, probably because with so many authors writing each chapter they didn't keep NPCs straight. Also, a Necharch Vampire who knows the interpretation of the prophecies the others are using are dumb Chaos bullshit is waiting in the wings to eat Karl. He believes a crazy legend where Sigmar went east to become a vampire when he was getting old, and thinks that since this boy is obviously a Sigmar, if he eats the Sigmar, HE becomes Sigmar, but not just a Sigmar, some kind of DOUBLE SIGMAR. A double king is powerful enough, imagine a double emperor. While the book talks about Lord d'Trois as a madman, the fact that his plan is the only one among the many vamps that will not lead to him being duped by Chaos means the Necharch is probably the smartest vampire villain in the book. He isn't actually very powerful; he's 'only' Mag 3, has 2 attacks, and is physically weaker than the Strigoi mooks from Chicken Attack. But like Sofia last chapter he's got some well trained soldiers who will be backing him up when the time comes. Unlike Sofia, his opposition is pretty badass, too (and not just the PCs). Things are going to be a clusterfuck later.

Anyway, with the Crusade falling apart, Helmut has hit on the crazy idea that (in addition to getting Karl back) they can fix everything by raising everyone's spirits and getting them all back together with a passion play about the life of Sigmar. If you guessed the PCs were going to eventually get roped into acting, good on you. Which is hilarious, given they have a giant Norsewoman, an elf, and a hobbit. And a cute magical raccoon. Adding magical animals and elves to a play about Sigmar will be fun! Legit I'm fine with setting up a long excuse to have the PCs be terrible actors while trying to protect Karl from an assassination attempt after solving a mystery. The basic outline of Chapter 6 is fine. Another thing I like is that while there's an extensive timetable of events once the play starts up, for ONCE the drat thing says 'hey, if the PCs succeed at one of these tests early or come up with something that spots Lord d'Trois or the elves waiting in the wings to shoot Karl or whatever, interrupt the play early! Let the PCs get ahead of the game and give them a better chance to succeed!' This is a first! A timetable of events full of chances for the PCs to realize things are amiss and that actually give them a good chance of getting the drop on the plotters if they move quickly? Holy hell, is this still Thousand Thrones?

But to get there, we've got another linear investigation to get through. First, our heroes are officially named Templars of the Child, for rescuing Karl from his enemies. Helmut is besides himself with joy, and the heroes recognize that Tobias's 'designated rear end in a top hat' place on the inner circle has been taken by an increasingly fat Father Johannes. While everyone around him is starving, Johannes has been able to swing plenty of food for himself; he may be under Karl's spell, but he's still the same fat rear end in a top hat priest he always was. He's as devoted to Karl as he ever was to Sigmar, which is to say mostly in service to himself. I wish more was done with this element of the campaign; the campaign is so full of vampires and nurglites that the whole 'people become devoted to Karl, but then use him as an excuse to still be assholes, mirroring the flaws of the wider Sigmarite faith' plotline never gets to breathe or take center stage, despite being one of the strongest plot concepts. The story throws up an actually interesting element for some of its villains like Johannes, but then sidelines them over and over again for more goopy mutations, piles of poo poo, and shoehorned in vampires to try to sell the vampire sourcebook that none of them are even properly using. There's also a new fight-guy to replace Krieger, but he doesn't do anything so eh.

Anyway, first there's a mostly pointless set of scenes of the heroes being 'templars of the child', though it does include the fun of the heroes now having adoring fans within the Crusade who regard them as amazing servants of Sigmar. Yes, even the elf wizard. How people invent justification for that I don't know; maybe they say it's like Teclis and Magnus. Yes, I think the camp compares her to Teclis, which is really funny to a Druchii. The only important encounter during this time is when the old character actor selected to play Warboss Grimgut in the upcoming HELDENHAMMER: THE LIFE OF SIGMAR approaches the team. He isn't interested in the role; too much action and physicality, too much stage fighting, and as a thin old character actor he's not a very convincing orc. While she's the wrong gender, he HAS noticed they have someone very large who is very at home speaking languages no-one understands; the role of Grimgut is supposedly written in Orcish, but the lines are all gibberish because the auteur director has no idea what orcish sounds like and wouldn't let anyone change them. He offers Sif a golden crown to pretend to be an orc and fight Sigmar so he can get out of this nonsense and leave the crusade. She tells him he could've stopped at 'fight Sigmar'. Sif will fulfill the dream of all Norse AND get a shiney gold coin out of it. And maybe she will become a famous actress! The party is skeptical. This encounter is designed to get the heroes involved with the play, even before they know it's important. Also note absolutely no-one in this party knows how to act. This will be played for comedy, and rotten fruit.

However, first our heroes have to encounter a dead Strigany, Warham's not very well done not-Roma. Ali is the father of Ahmed, a little Strigany boy who is meant to have annoyed the PCs occasionally before now. Ahmed will be important next chapter when a vampiress tries to kidnap and marry him. Ali's death is completely at random, poisoned by the minions of Lord d'Trois to make sure their poison works so they can start poisoning actors and replacing them in the play, in order to get themselves a chance to get at Karl. I would think randomly poisoning someone with an obvious poisoning death (Katarine's medical and apothecary knowledge is enough to not only point out he's been poisoned rather than choking, but to ID the poison as Chokeweed Extract, which causes throat swelling and strangulation) is merely a good way to make sure people investigate poisoners, but what do I know, I just write things, I'm not an assassin. The adventure commits an annoying sin here: When the players start looking for where Ali got the distinctive wineskin that killed him (it has a coiled serpent motif), 'you should let them roll dice a little and then give them all the information'. If they're just going to learn everything automatically, don't bother with the dice, damnit! It's better than 'Per-10 to continue plot', I guess, but not by a lot. To find out where the maker's mark came from, the heroes will have to go into Wolfenburg itself. This leads to possible random encounters in the city (most of them not dangerous) and a paper chase to find the maker. If the heroes IDed the poison, and having a competent doctor on their team, they did, they instead just need a Gossip+10 to hear about Boris the Herbalist, a guy who makes extracts like that within the city.

Boris is a scarred and burnt man, who suffered terribly in the sack. His chronic pain has taken the last of his conscience, and while he isn't malicious, the apothecary is happy to sell poison as well as healing now. He figures what people do with it is their own problem. With a little Charm from Katarine and Shanna, they get him to talk. The extract has uses besides killing people; diluted enough it makes both a dye and a good skin balm. At full strength it's great for murder. Some rough looking fellow named Karl (no relation to magic child) with a blue belt bought 3 vials, a Sigmarite friar bought 1, and a well to do gentleman named Dietrich von Dorf also bought 3. Our heroes now have some suspects. They also get Boris's sales pitch: He'll sell all kinds of useful apothecary stuff, notably Healing Draughts, at pretty reasonable prices. They pick up a few Healing Draughts for times when someone's hurt and Katarine's busy or not present, and some Healing Poultices and supplies for Katarine's doctor's bag so she can heal heavily wounded people more easily. Their way of giving the guy some quid-pro-quo for answering their questions. If the heroes hadn't talked him into this, just barging in and searching his office would find bills of sale that gave them the same info without tests, but would cut them off from buying supplies permanently. They get back to the Crusade, having completely ignored the other track for finding the apothecary despite it being apparently sort of important to next chapter. Hooray.

There's a lot of 'the players roll, but if they fail, something else happens to get them the information they need' during this investigation. Which isn't bad on its own, but it's unevenly done. Stuff like 'if you have to just barge in and take Boris's bills of sale, you lose access to a good and relatively cheap merchant for alchemical supplies' is a good way to do it; they always get the minimum they need for the plot, but miss out on a nice bonus or sour a relationship. Stuff like 'let them roll dice for awhile, then tell them everything' is not. Dice should only hit the table when it matters in some way. Especially given Fortune points exist and players can and will throw them at what they think are important investigative rolls. This investigative section is yet another linear investigation with a pre-set path of strict clues, and really I just don't think any of these authors have it in them to write a good investigative scenario, which is very difficult to do I'll grant. Mysteries are actually pretty hard to do in RPGs sometimes. At least it's all leading up to a genuinely fun setpiece for the finale, which really does have space for the players to matter by being clever and having the right skills. Plus, it's an excuse to dress a PC up as an orc or have PCs mill about stage awkwardly trying to remember their lines. Who doesn't want that as part of a tense cat and mouse game with assassins? I think Chapter 6 is overall going to come out the strongest chapter in Thousand Thrones.

Next Time: Investigations.

Aethyron
Dec 12, 2013
Hunter: the Reckoning - Player's Guide

Part Five: Backgrounds


So, Backgrounds. Those things on every old World of Darkness character sheet that every game always seems to struggle slightly to define. We get some stuff about what they are, ending with the assertion that- wait, let me quote this-

quote:

It's best to think of Backgrounds as roleplaying "stats" rather than dots on a character sheet. Unlike points in Conviction or Skills that quantify what your character can do, each Background represents a "slice" of your character's past.

If you're asking yourself what the hell the difference is between a 'roleplaying "stat"' and 'dots on a sheet', rest assured you're not the only one.

Because despite the fact that all Backgrounds give some sort of actual benefit, we're told that they're most important because they paint a picture of who your character is, who they know, what they've done, etc. Again, I don't know why this is different than anything else on a character sheet.

One difference is that Backgrounds apparently go up and down in game without "spending experience points or rolling dice" and are instead gained and lost through roleplaying, pure and simple, a deeply frustrating idea that this book will now attempt to justify, saying that the lack of rules or mechanics for gaining/losing Backgrounds in play is "not a design flaw, but rather quite a conscious decision" as if those are mutually exclusive. Backgrounds create 'real characters' instead of 'static action-movie clones'.

Close-reading this book, I can't help but be fascinated with how often this specific fear pops up, that someone playing this game will make an action hero and that will Be Bad for some reason. It reads like a very weird lack of confidence in the material and its themes- surely, if you want to encourage a certain style of play it would be better to explain why you think it's compelling? We'll come back to this idea later.

Backgrounds! They 'fall into a nebulous zone as no firm mechanic governs their development'. We're told this is good and bad- good, because player's can't increase them with xp and thus the focus is on roleplaying and personality development. Again, the fact that these traits that do have mechanic impact can only be gained through extremely vaguely described means that don't interact with the normal progression system is said to be a plus. It doesn't... really seem like one, to me, but what do I know? At least they do admit that this might be frustrating for players.

There's a sidebar with some optional rules for a way to actually buy Backgrounds. They're bad. Basically it involves spending permanent Willpower to get new Background dots, which seems like a wholly pointless layer since you can buy Willpower back with xp.

Next we get a long section talking about the corebook backgrounds explaining what they do and what sort of events might lead them to go up or down. It's mostly exactly what you'd expect- losing Allies might mean someone died, or stopped wanting to help you. Gaining Allies would indicate making new friends, and so on. It's not a terrible section, it's just not really that interesting from a reviewing perspective. It's probably handy if you're running a game and want to check in with the authorial perspective on how this is supposed to be working, but it's not very exciting.

There are a few moments of mechanical clarification, or suggestions for how Backgrounds might interact or have broader use that are helpful, but none of it is that surprising. Each section has little fiction snippets- one illustrating the Background going up, and one showing it going down. They're fine? More to the point, they're short enough not to be annoying. None of the Backgrounds from the Creed books are in here, of course. You have to buy those books to know about them.

That's this section. It's mostly just... fine, with a little bit of silliness that's not worth getting that excited about, but it's probably ultimately good that it's here.

Coming up: THE DAB! (no, seriously)

Aethyron
Dec 12, 2013
It's depressing how bad most of these hams adventures seem to be because every other thing about it really makes me want to run/play it

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Pictured: Poster prepares to celebrate Holy Communion (probablY)

This avatar made possible by a gift from the Religionthread Posters Relief Fund

Aethyron posted:

It's depressing how bad most of these hams adventures seem to be because every other thing about it really makes me want to run/play it

Terror in Talabheim seems to need less work than most DnD adventures at least.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

Aethyron posted:

It's depressing how bad most of these hams adventures seem to be because every other thing about it really makes me want to run/play it

Honestly, this one is actually pretty good. Chapter 6 is the first scenario I would actually label 'decent' in this book.

To some extent I think the problem is that strict narrative campaigns planned out from the very beginning work even less in Hams than they do in other games (I think a long, pre-written plot beyond a general outline is usually going to encounter issues in any system), because of the highly random PC creation systems. If you're rolling for classes, you really don't know what kind of PCs you're going to get. It's best to make characters and then come up with an adventure afterwards; you got a Tomb Robber, a Student, and a bored Thug? Maybe they're all school friends out to adventure around a treasure map after flunking out/getting kicked out for lack of funds. Etc etc.

Also, one of the consistent problems I encounter in stuff like Thousand Thrones is this weird idea that the PCs need to be regularly humiliated and forced along into stuff. Which is nuts! 'Everyone come up with some ambitions for your team and why you stick together and what you want out of adventure' is how you get the team into trouble, not 'and they're arrested for a crime they didn't commit yet again, and drafted into the militia yet again'.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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

Aethyron posted:

Hunter: the Reckoning - Player's Guide

Part Five: Backgrounds


I genuinely can't think of any White Wolf/Onyx Path game I've ever seen where half the backgrounds weren't irrelevant and the other half weren't broken as poo poo, often more or less requiring a given investment or risking having a useless character.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.

Aethyron posted:

Backgrounds! They 'fall into a nebulous zone as no firm mechanic governs their development'. We're told this is good and bad- good, because player's can't increase them with xp and thus the focus is on roleplaying and personality development. Again, the fact that these traits that do have mechanic impact can only be gained through extremely vaguely described means that don't interact with the normal progression system is said to be a plus. It doesn't... really seem like one, to me, but what do I know? At least they do admit that this might be frustrating for players.
One of the best things about Chronicles of Darkness is the whole "sanctity of merits" thing that says, hey if something in the plot fucks up one of your merits/backgrounds, you get the points you spent on it back to spend on other stuff. A stated example from Dave Brookshaw himself is:

quote:

Sanctity of Merits just means that if you amputate the leg of someone with Parkour, the player gets the xp he spent on Parkour back, as the Merit has been destroyed

And: Good. Good!

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Aethyron
Dec 12, 2013

PurpleXVI posted:

I genuinely can't think of any White Wolf/Onyx Path game I've ever seen where half the backgrounds weren't irrelevant and the other half weren't broken as poo poo, often more or less requiring a given investment or risking having a useless character.

Yeah- I didn't really want to get too far into the weeds on backgrounds as this isn't the corebook (and honestly this section was really boring to read), but 100% agree.

Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

One of the best things about Chronicles of Darkness is the whole "sanctity of merits" thing that says, hey if something in the plot fucks up one of your merits/backgrounds, you get the points you spent on it back to spend on other stuff. A stated example from Dave Brookshaw himself is:


And: Good. Good!

The Player's Guide does say that you should always have your 5 initial points worth of backgrounds, and just move dots around if something would drop- but if you have 6 total background dots and lose 2 points when your allies are killed, you only get one of them refunded which is ehhhhh, fine, as long as you're not using the optional rule where you paid for them in willpower.

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