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Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Maxwell Lord posted:


Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century
(Despite all this, the Needle Gun is the starter weapon in Countdown to Doomsday and is pretty effective, and I don’t think the magnetic fields or the battery recharge come into play.)

They're the starter weapon in the PC version of Countdown to Doomsday; the Genesis version starts each character out with laser pistols. That said, I think the needle gun is the better weapon; sure, it only does 1d3 damage, but the Genesis version gives it six shots/round, warriors can specialize in them, nothing in the game is immune to them, and grenades/ECM doesn't foul them.

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Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

Poll time: I have access to GURPS Aztecs and I loved it the last time I read it, but rereading it with an advanced degree... I'm not sure it holds up. And might also be slightly racist. But it is sympathetic and casts a forgotten culture into a new light it desperately needs. Should I review that or Super Console, a game about playing JRPGs whose author is the sort of person that spends two paragraphs insulting people who use strategy guides and the next telling you that using cheats is better?

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Falconier111 posted:

Poll time: I have access to GURPS Aztecs and I loved it the last time I read it, but rereading it with an advanced degree... I'm not sure it holds up. And might also be slightly racist. But it is sympathetic and casts a forgotten culture into a new light it desperately needs. Should I review that or Super Console, a game about playing JRPGs whose author is the sort of person that spends two paragraphs insulting people who use strategy guides and the next telling you that using cheats is better?

Do both, but Super Console first.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Geese at the Beach
It's a lovely day at the beach, and you are a horrible goose.

Geese at the Beach is a very simple Powered by the Apocalypse game, part of the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality in which you play minions of the Goose King - a creature of magnificent power and powerful magnificence, who may be an eldritch beast from beyond time and space or may simply be a very large goose with a crown on his head. Doesn't matter. What does matter is that He has awakened, as He wakes every year, and He has summoned his most trusted followers to go out and find for Him Shinies, so that He may be appeased and His life-decimating wrath be kept at bay for another year. And what place on Earth has more Shinies (and more danger) than The Beach?

But beware! The Beach is dangerous, for there dwells creatures and travails most foul - among them Tourists, Crabs, Harsh Sand, Sharks, Mecha-Squid, The Hot Sun, and, worst of all, the unyielding, undying Seagull Armada. The followers of the Goose King will have to brave all these things and more to retrieve Shinies, gain the Goose King's Favor, and satisfy their liege before His angry honks shake the earth and heavens. The Beach is the most dangerous place on earth, and the GM (Goose Master) is encouraged to make sure everything the players (geese) encounter reflects that... but also that The Beach is where the most wondrous Shinies are, more treasures than any goose could ever steal in their lives. The GM is encouraged to go hog wild with their portrayal of the environment and the Goose King.

(here, in the middle of the section about the beach's dangers, is a note that silly as it is, this is still a game about playing animals that can take harm, both from other animals and possibly humans, and making sure to discuss with your players just what form that harm should take and what their comfort levels are is important. This is a bit of thoughtfulness I wasn't necessarily expecting in a silly game about being a horrible goose, but it's appreciated.)

There are many ways to be a minion of the Goose King, but every one of His minions is similar in certain ways: Every playbook has five Harm Blocks (HP, essentially) and three sets of abilities: Goose Abilities are free to use at any time, and generally represent some innate characteristic of the playbook (you do not need to be a goose to be a Goose; more on that later) which can either help or cause problems for you; King Abilities, which require you to expend a point of the Goose King's Favor to use and are unambiguously positive - things like avoiding Harm and just absolutely ruining poo poo are King Abilities; and Beach Abilities, which play to the less positive stereotypes of your chosen playbook, hold the potential for getting you (or the other Geese) into danger, and grant you a point of the Goose King's Favor for using them. Each playbook also starts with one point of Favor and the Basic Move take something as an offering for the Goose King. To use it, roll 2d8; on a Hit (7+) you add a Shiny to your hoard. With better success comes the ability to pick the positive outcomes of your Shiny theft; anything from creating an opening for you allies to ensuring the Goose King will be pleased with your chosen Shiny is possible. On a 7-9, or on a failed roll, the GM also chooses from a list of negative outcomes: some possible choices include losing another Shiny in the process of taking this one, attracting the attention of the Seagull Armada, or displeasing the Goose King enough that He decides to make His displeasure known. Once acquired, Shinies can either be taken to the Goose King's nest for Favor or healing, or they can be spent and permanently lost to avoid one Harm or interrupt the GM's move to make any other action instead.

If the Geese gather Enough Shinies, the King is mollified, and He slips into slumber for another year. If every Goose is reduced to 0 Harm, they are driven away from the Beach, the Seagull Armada swoops in, claims all the Shinies for themselves, and the world is, quite possibly, lost.

There are five playbooks for Geese at the Beach:
The Buff Goose, also the only actual goose, is built around being fierce and dangerous. These are some of the moves a Buff Goose can use:

Goose Abilities (+/-0):
Remind people that you are the apex predator.
Pick up the knife.
:honk:

King Abilities (-1):
Tank a hit, preventing all Harm done.
Use the knife effectively.
Obliterate your current obstacle.

Beach Abilities (+1)
You gain a favor when you:
Throw Yourself into danger.
Pick a fight all evidence says you should lose.
Affirm the power of the Goose King.

The Duck is a sneaky sort, excelling at getting ahead by any means necessary. They can:

Goose Abilities:
Find bread.
Pinpoint an obvious weakness.
Quack.

King Abilities:
Effortlessly Retreat away from danger.
Navigate into someplace you're not wanted.
Become the richest duck in the world.

Beach Abilities:
Demand to be loved.
Convince someone you are a rubber toy.
Manipulate the humans into breaking the Don't Feed the Birds policy.

The Pelican is uhhhh... you got a gross beak, and you're good at using it. I don't think the author is too fond of pelicans.

Goose Abilities:
Scoop up something you realistically shouldn't.
Endanger everybody else's lives selfishly.
Bark.

King Abilities:
Reveal a secret object you've had stashed away.
Ride a crocodile.
Scoop up something everyone knows you shouldn't be able to.

Beach abilities:
Be gross with your weird giant beak.
Joust another bird.
Get distracted by preening yourself.

The Cat is somewhere between the Buff Goose and the Duck, capable of great grace and great harm in equal measure.

Goose Abilities:
Appear somewhere that you definitely weren't a second ago.
Sits if you fits.
Scream.

King Abilities:
Gracefully avoid Harm.
Squeeze into an opening you shouldn't be able to, reminding everyone you're a liquid.
Become a claw-filled death machine, trapping or Harming your target.

Beach Abilities:
Interfere with something that isn't your business.
Lash out against anyone trying to love you.
Complain for literally, objectively, no reason.

The Fish is... a fish. Someone's gotta be Aquaman, I guess. Or Dory.

Goose Abilities:
Commune with the starfish.
Just keep swimming.
Glub.

King Abilities:
Summon your school to overwhelm the enemy.
Heal yourself or a friend with your calming oil secretions.
Pay attention to something for more than a minute.

Beach Abilities:
Swarm the humans' feet.
Forget about your objective immediately and move to a new one.
Say something someone else has already said, confident it's your idea.

Never let it be said that this game about being a horrible goose at the beach does not give you options. Would I play it? Hell yeah! Is it another game that's so light it'd require a lot of ad-hoc and in the end you're basially freeforming being the terror of some tourist town? Well, yeah. Still, it's probably the very best horrible goose simulator tabletop game that you can currently purchase, and it looks like a great way to spend a beer-and-pretzels type evening.

Leraika fucked around with this message at 02:04 on Jun 16, 2020

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

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


Omnimyth Fables

Omnimyth Fables is a game by Brian Ericson that was inclued in the itch.io Bundle For Racial Justice And Equality, the proceeds of which goes to the NAACP Educational and Legal Defense Fund and the Community Bail Fund. At time of writing, the bundle ends in 3 hours and managed to raise almost $8 million, so there's that! If you missed it, there's also Dissident Whispers by Tuesday Knight Games with proceedings going to the National Bail Fund Network.

Omnimyth is a Fantasy Hearbreaker based on Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition. I want to clarify that, despite the origins, I'm not using Fantasy Heartbreaker in a disparaging way. Brian Ericson's reinvention of the 4E system is genuinely innovative and technically solid, and seems to be driven by a desire to create a grid-less version of 4E with a built-in way to create custom classes and abilities. That said, it clearly shows its pedigree, and if you're not looking for a custom, generic version of 4E with Theater of the Mind combat, it's not as useful to you.

Omnimyth lacks an established setting, so we'll jump straight to the rules. First, the traditional six attributes (STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA) have been refined down to four (Grit, Moxie, Tempo, and Vision). Grit functions as STR and CON combined, while Moxie and Vision jointly fulfill the functions of INT, WIS, and CHA. DEX stands on it's own as Tempo, as Ericson feels that "Dexterity has always been overloaded." It's not quite DTAS, but even if Ericson won't get rid of them he clearly doesn't consider them sacred either.

Each attribute has 3 skills, with broad applications.
Grit has the skills Endure, Force, and Presence (for when you pressure others with your physique, attitude, or bearing).
Moxie has the skills Bluff, Convince, and Entertain. You use bluff when you're lying, convince when you're telling the truth.
Tempo has Grace, Haste, and Precision. The definition between these skills are a little muddy.
Finally, Vision has Empathy, Memory, Notice, and a fourth skill, Spellcraft.

Players also have Serendipity, something that functions similar to Fate or other meta currencies. Each player starts with 2 Serendipity Points, and they can use them to declare things about the world. The game offers an example of "I Know Them!" where the player spends 1 Serendipity Point to declare that they known an NPC. The player "rolls for luck" (a flat 50/50 roll of Odd or Even), and if they succeed they get to define the relationship. If they fail, they still 'fail forward', and the GM gets to determine the relationship to the NPC instead. Serendipity is left mostly up to the GM and their table to define, with guidelines and examples to point you in the right direction.

The final part of a character is their abilities - "a wizard's selection of spells, a medic's poultices, a paladin's smite, or a bard's inspiring songs." This is the core of Omnimyth, and of your character. In Omnimyth, abilities are custom-made using a point-buy system, where you pay a certain amount for ability points to purchase uses (at will, X per short rest, X per long rest, as part of a movement, etc.), effects (damage, healing, etc) and with certain special rules (When critting, when Enraged, etc). This is referred to as means, impacts, and augments (respectively) and powers (collectively).

Ability Powers are grouped into three categories: Magical, Martial, and Mastery. Each time you level, you choose one of the three categories (referred to as 'Talents') which gives you 12 Ability Points of that category, and a Hit Die. The Martial Talent gives you a 1d10 hit die, while the Magical and Mastery Talents give you a 1d8 talent. Martial characters are focused on frontline combat, so the extra HP helps ensure that they can survive. Magical are Magic-Users and Mastery is for your Rogues.

The talents are described as follows:
Magical: Create abilities focused on the Ethereal. Magical abilities may allow you to to target ghosts, sap your own life force to enhance your spells or heal your allies, or any other number of effects.
Martial: Create abilities focused on combat, damage, aggression, applying negative status effects and general weapon expertise.
Mastery: Create abilities focused on altering your luck, creating resources (out of combat) or exhibiting particular craft-skills.

By default Abilities have one mean and two impacts, or one mean, one impact, and one augment. There are certain other constraints on ability design that limit the sort of things you can do. Each Talent gives you 12 Ability Points of that type to buy powers, and you can exchange ability points for each other in a 2 to 1 ratio. So, for example, if I wanted to have a spell that Stunned my target (costing 3 Martial Ability Points), I could spend 6 Magical Ability Points to buy that power. According to the book, "you may reprise overspent points when leveling up," which I interpret to mean that you can re-distribute ability points in your favor when you select a new talent, so you're not punished for 'multi-classing'.

Overall, the abilities system seems to be technically competent and functional, which is very high praise surprising considering the number of moving parts. While I'm sure there's a way to break the system and create overpowered abilities, it's not immediately obvious to me. Besides, even GURPS could be spectacularly broken. The Talents have a surprisingly strong sense of cohesion and theme, and it feels like Ericson put a great deal of playtesting into the mechanics to make sure they both function and play well together.

The combat is... interesting. The first element is the initiative system, which follows the Troika system. Each player puts 3 tokens into The Stack along with the enemy NPC tokens and a 'end of turn' token, and they're pulled out of the stack one at a time. When the End of Turn token is pulled, it ends and the tokens are returned to The Stack. As a result, turn order is semi-random and rounds can end unexpectedly. Combat is grid-less and "Theater of the Mind", which is a sharp divide with 4E. Combat occurs in vaguely defined zones of a meter square, which feels like a grid with bigger squares and extra steps. Age of Sigmar Zones feel like they would work better for this, but who knows how that would affect the rules.

The other interesting element is death. Death is very similar to D&D, where you fall unconscious at 0 HP and you need to make Death Saves to see whether you stabilize or die. However, if you die, you're not out of the game. Instead, you become Ethereal, basically a ghost who can still interact with the living world. It's an interesting twist to allow a player to keep participating in the game, especially considering that the character is probably going to resurrected as soon as they get back to town. As far as I can tell, only Magical abilities can be used while dead, so maybe that solves the "Wizard gets crit and dies immediately" problem, but it's hard to say for sure.

Overall, I appreciate Omnimyth. It's very interesting, it has a lot of great ideas, and I would love to run or play a game with it. If every Fantasy Heartbreaker was this innovative and well-crafted, the RPG world would be much better off. At the same time, I'm not really sure who else would appreciate or enjoy Omnimyth. I understand why Ericson made it, but at the same time, it really raises the question of why anyone would put so much work into something like this. If you're interested in a generic, grid-less version of 4th Edition, Omnimyth is perfect for you. If you run it, let me know - I want to try and make a Lazy-lord.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Snorb posted:

They're the starter weapon in the PC version of Countdown to Doomsday; the Genesis version starts each character out with laser pistols. That said, I think the needle gun is the better weapon; sure, it only does 1d3 damage, but the Genesis version gives it six shots/round, warriors can specialize in them, nothing in the game is immune to them, and grenades/ECM doesn't foul them.

The SSI Buck Rogers games also had grade qualities, similar to the Elven- and Dwarven-made weapons in D&D games, where they gave a bonus to damage and to-hit. This made stuff like the Luna-made needle gun a fearsome weapon, doing something like 1d3+4 damage per shot and guaranteeing multiple hits against most opponents.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Yeah. The lunarian monosword is probably the best melee weapon in the entire game simply because it's +4 to hit/1d10+4 damage/two attacks (and warriors can specialize in them!); the only things keeping it from being the best overall weapon in the game are that it's hideously expensive (32000 credits a sword ain't cheap, considering any character can use them!), and, well, it's a melee weapon with a five-foot reach in an era where guns are king. Lunarian needle guns doing 1d3+4 damage, at six shots per burst, plus three picks of Weapon Specialization: Needle Guns... that's a nice healthy range of 48-60 damage right there*, and I think it's a decent tradeoff for only having about a third of the range of a laser pistol.

Having literally just run the numbers, a Martian Desert Runner with 22 Strength gets +6 to hit/+10 damage with melee weapons; Weapon Specialization: Monoswords (3) and a lunarian monosword is +13 to hit (+6 Strength, +4 Lunarian quality, +3 specialization) and 1d10 + 10 Strength + 4 Lunarian quality + 3 specialization damage; 18-27 damage per swing, at two attacks per round with this sword, 36-54 damage range.

...as much as I talk up the lunarian monosword, I think the next time I play Countdown to Doomsday, I'll stick to the guns.

*Assuming you shoot your target all six times.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!






Mutant 2089

In the cursed earth where mutants dwell, There is no law, it's just a living hell.



Everything that lies outside the City limits is called the Twilight Lands, for a while it was just meant to describe the areas between the dark forbidden zones and the neon bathed cities. Although that’s not the case anymore as it turned out these places contained stranger things between heaven and earth that you could think off.
These days no one has any idea how many people live out there. Also only 5 to 10% of it has been explored after the calamity.
There are generally three kinds of settlements out there; farms, mutant villages and external production units.

Farms are usually run by either pioneers or by the twilight lands original inhabitants. Often they’re veritable fortresses in their own right, protected against both mutants and mutated animals.

Pioneer farms are usually equipped with climate controlled domes that help to protect the crops, or cattle, inside against weather, wind and from attacks to a certain extent. However, the size for a farm is restricted by the fact that the domes have an upper limit in size. Currently it’s 1km in diameter and up to 200 meter in height. Either way these farms are all self sufficient, and most importantly they grow real crops and breed real animals. To anyone living in the City this is an untold luxury, as they’re otherwise forced to subsist themselves of gen manipulated surrogate foodstuff that never feels or tastes all that real. There is a measure of contact between the pioneer farms and the City, but that’s scarce and both sides are so suspicious of each other that it borders on disgust. In general pioneer farms are rather well equipped, but if there’s something they might be lacking it’s cyberware.

Ziggy farms, Ziggy being the term for the original inhabitants of the twilight lands, have it much harder in comparison. They lack more or less everything that the pioneers have, no climate domes, no reliable power sources, no decent access to tech and barely any guns. This has led to these kinds of farms being bigger and having more people living near them than the Pioneer ones, just to be able to resist mutant attacks easier. In comparison Ziggy’s has no contact with the City, even if it makes itself known from time to time whenever slave hunters raid them to get cheap labor.

Here and there particularly organized mutants have constructed small villages where they fight a slowly losing battle against nature. These villages pose no threat against the City, but to the various farms that dot the landscapes they’re a dangerous rival to whatever resources are available. Especially wells with drinking water, oil wells and forest areas are hotly contested between the two sides.

It’s not uncommon to find mines located in the twilight lands, not far from the nearest City. In these various raw minerals such as iron, copper, uranium, lead and more are extracted for the factory's needs. The workers are either convicts, mutant slaves or even unemployed people who have been sent to mines as a punishment. The only real, and highly salaried, employees are the dig chiefs and the heavily armed security guards. The most common type of a ‘mine’ are the oil derricks. Usually these are located underground to protect against mutant raids. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not without their own dangers. Things like landslide and mutated giant moles are constant threats to these complexes.

Mutated giant moles is metal as gently caress by my book. :black101: And this is just a taste of what’s to come in future iterations of the game. Trust me on that. Things are going to get real interesting and wild.

The raw material is transported to the city via underground culverts (expensive but the most secure), anti-grav transport ships (quick and safe but also expensive and troublesome) or via railway (cheap but very risky).
So technically you can play train robbers if you so like.

Inside the City there’s usually enough power generators to supply it with what it needs, so a lot of the external ones dotting the landscape are either reserve stations in the case of the main power is disabled somehow. Or ancient power stations that are still required to generate the sufficient amount of power that some functions demand. There are fusion power plants and while they’re safe, they’re nowhere near as powerful as a nuclear reactor. The energy itself is transmitted from large transmitter dishes to the City, where it’s received by transformation stations and converts it to alternating current. Both the transmission stations as well as the power plants themselves are remote controlled and supervised by robots.

The things being done in High Risk Complexes are things that not even the megacorporations want to do inside the City limits. Mainly this is highly dangerous experiments involving chemical and radioactive processes, that could devastate entire blocks if conducted in the City proper. Also various finds from the forbidden zones are usually treated or examined in these places before they are transported into the City. The vast majority of the workforce consists of robots.

The term “Forbidden Zone” was coined somewhere around the 2020’s for areas where nuclear accidents and testing had made the ground so radioactive that it was lethal to be there. But as things progressed more and more high risk areas were declared Forbidden Zones.



The vast majority, or at least three fourths of all declares zones, are surrounded by 25 meter tall electric fences. These are so powerful that anything that comes into contact with them are burned to a crisp. There’s several reasons as to why these fences are used. One reason is to prevent the things that live inside there, mutated bacteria, animals or just mutants, from escaping and wreaking havoc on the City or elsewhere. Another reason is to prevent people from getting inside and finding things that could possibly endanger the power that the corporations possess. There are stories of pioneers having found abandoned bases with nuclear warheads and used these to threaten whole cities.
Beyond the fences the zones are also patrolled by numerous combat droids. But despite all this there are still times where so called ‘suicide plunderes’ manages to get inside the zones. Sometimes they even manage to return back home, usually with large hauls of valuable lost technology, usually space tech.

Nowadays there are four different types of zones; ABC-zones, Nova’s, Warzones and Geo risk zones.

ABC stands for Atomic-Biological-Chemical and is a 20th century term referring to various kinds of forbidden munitions. Although these days the ‘Atomic’ doesn’t stand for nuclear munitions but instead for the remnants of nuclear testing, research labs, dumping sites for radioactive waste and so on. Places where the radiation levels are so high that going anywhere near it is directly hazardous or outright lethal. Biological on the other hand refers to places where the risk for previous unseen epidemics is considered to be high. This can include places such as old gene labs, space ports or mutant infested areas. What connects them all though is that they’re known places where mysterious kinds of illnesses have emerged from. Chemical refers to any place that handled chemical waste or resources; old labs, warehouses, dumping grounds and so on.
Due to its preserved nature it’s usually in the ABC-zones where the chance to find lostech is the highest, and as a consequence also the most well guarded places.

Novas were the epicentres of massive nuclear explosions, this can be either massive craters, destroyed cities or nuclear power plants suffering a catastrophic meltdown. These places usually feature extra well developed defences so as not to let mutants feel trapped and get any ideas of escaping.

War zones are the remnants of the Catastrophe’s battle zones. Usually devastated by either saturated bombing or nuclear strikes. Burnt out skeletons of skyscrapers rise into the sky like skeletal fingers. Ruins of destroyed shopping malls and factories line streets covered with rubble, burned out cars and bleached skeletons. Everything layered under a thick layer of radioactive dust. But these places are not completely dead. The dangers of these zones extend further than just radioactivity. Amongst the ruins, a number of crazed veterans still live. All of them convinced that the war still isn’t over yet, all of them fighting against combat droids who still have not received any orders to stop the fighting and wander around amongst the ruins. War zones are incredibly dangerous places for any outsider; the remaining veterans and droids tend to shoot at anything that moves without asking for any identification. But if you’re lucky you might be able to score some decent old tech.
You’d think those fights would end before long once these veterans die from age, radiation sickness, combat and so on. But apparently these things last forever without much explanation. Are there various underground bases where this resistance is still holding out in the struggle against their robot adversaries? Is the whole just an allusion to Terminator? Who knows.

The perhaps most dangerous and unpredictable areas of all the zones are the geo risk ones. As a result they’re also the ones that have been mapped the least as well. These areas can consist of giant cracks in the earth’s crust, massive fault lines that have torn their way through the landscape and towers upwards for kilometers, massive volcanoes, sulfurous geysers that erupt periodically, large acid lakes that with their corrosive vapours endanger anyone coming near them. The list goes on and on. The only thing found in these places are raw materials that might be hard to find elsewhere. But any extensive mining operations are a dangerous prospect as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and more usually happens without any warning.

During the 2030’s various underground research bases chose to isolate themselves from the surface world. These are the so-called Enclaves. Completely self sufficient they have no real contact with the surface world. In the rare case of an enclave having been found the inhabitants have been completely unaware of what has happened above their heads. There’s no telling how many of these exist as records of their locations have been lost through time. But the ones that have been found have been relatively small and completely free from mutants, but also a high degree of inbreeding. Because the inhabitants still live in the same way that they did back when they shut the door to the outside world, they’re considered a very valuable source of lostech. On the other hand the inhabitants might not be too enthused in all the sudden attention they’re suddenly receiving.

Enclaves are another staple of the Mutant series and will appear in future versions as well. Mutant Zero for instance has the players be the first people who leave the enclave they grew up in to explore the post catastrophe world. And in the first edition they were also the origin for any unmutated human characters.

Another sign of the Catastrophe are the craters. They can be over 15 miles in circumference and three to four kilometers deep. Their massive size usually makes them hard to notice while navigating the terrain, but if you defy the radiation levels and get there you can usually find a lot of old world remnants. Usually old ruined cities and such, even if in some cases people have found large underground complexes that have been exposed by the craters.
But they’re not without their dangers, craters usually are popular places for mutants to be. Usually living in the various nooks and crannies on the sides, sometimes these can be old sewer or subway systems. It’s also why these craters rarely turn into gigantic lakes.

The weather in Mutant is hellish. It’s unpredictable and unstable. Typhoons, storms, heatwaves, sudden cold snaps, pelting rain, hail the size of golfballs or long periods of drought can happen intermittently and without any reason or logic to it. If you’re inside the City you barely notice any of it, the skyscrapers managing to block out most of the rain and wind while enormous climate plants either heat or cool the various blocks as needed. In the twilight lands however, things are different. There the weather is a constant danger, sometimes comparable to hell on earth at its worth.
Then there are the places where things are just… off. Where the location and climate doesn’t really make any sense. Jungles on the siberian taiga, rain forests covering the width of north africa or even something as weird as parts of southeast asia being covered in a thick layer of ice, reminiscent of the ice ages.

The twilight lands are dotted with not only scars of the past, but remnants as well. Old memories of times long since gone. During the 2030’s it was very popular with making gigantic, public awards. Meant to resist both weather and wind they were meant to remind the people of the future of past achievements in science, administration and trade. Some of these can still be found and they’re giant statues, more than hundred meters high, depicting forgotten scientists or politicians.

Good to know that Mutant’s giant statue game is fully on point.

After "Star Wars" all contact with space more or less ceased. In turn the various space ports that had been used to get things in and out of orbit fell were abandoned and fell into disuse. But any attempts to loot them have been prevented by extensive self-sufficient security systems that are in many cases still active.

The most common sight in the twilight lands may just be old roads. They can be seen more or less everywhere. These are usually in very poor shape, craters, cracks, fault lines and other other things have made them almost unusable. Rarely you find an intact stretch of road that’s longer than 10 miles. Here and there railroad tracks curl around the landscape like some kind of fat, giant snake. It’s not uncommon, thanks to geological changes, to see bridges stand on dry land while large riverbers can bisect a road.

Not all cities were destroyed, some were just abandoned. Many of them are victims of battles raging on earth after the space war. Many of them were just emptied of people who instead decided to move into the megacities instead. Now these places are mainly ruins, picked clean of anything worthwhile and inhabited by mutants and ziggy’s.

A result of the 21st century intense consumer society are the enormous scrap yards that still, more than 50 years later, adorn the twilight lands. These are massive mountains of steel, concrete, wood and plastic. Some up to a mile in diameter and over 300 to 400 meters tall. In some cases a dense cover of grass and ferns have turned them into massive hills, forming large mounds in memory of great people of the past. Looting a scrap yard can be lucrative, there’s plenty of stuff to be found there. But the risk for landslides and the ever present mutant danger makes it a very risky prospect.

Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s a Dark Future/Cyberpunk game I’m reading or just your average post-apocalypse game. So far these parts are really the weakest and feel lifted from its predecessor almost wholesale because of the tone. Not to mention the constant mentions of looting and finding relics of the past.

Large swathes of the twilight lands are forested. But at the same time they’re also the places that have been explored the least. Far too many expeditions have ventured inside the deep coniferous and deciduous forests and never returned for the City to think it’s worthwhile bothering about. What little wood is needed is usually just grown inside the City itself. Inside the forests protected environs mutations have evolved and developed much further than anywhere else. As a result they are filled with various kinds of mutated animals seen nowhere else, for the most part they’re usually considerably bigger and hungrier than their original counterparts. In some sump forests there have been reports of giant reptiles of the same kind that lived on earth millions of years ago.
So yes, Mutant also has dinosaurs. This is cool and good.
Outside the ‘usual’ forests that everyone knows about (I’m not going to list a bunch of trees like the book does for some reason), some places have seen an almost explosive growth of rain forests and jungle. Some of these places where it should literally be impossible for it to happen. The whole process is also much faster than seen before, in three years one of the jungles can expand outwards for over 50 miles. Much like the normal forests, these are also mostly unexplored. However their propensity to grow like some kind of giant kudzu from hell means that they can very quickly ‘grow over’ a city and hide it under a dense cover of foliage. This means these places are usually protected from looting by the dangerous forest environment and usually contain loads of high tech finds.

The seas in the 2080’s aren’t much to cheer for. Filled with rotting fish, oil deposits that shimmer like the rainbow on the surface, chunks of dead algaes, rotting trash heaps and rusted shipwrecks is what makes up the coastline. There is still life in the seas, but for that you need to travel several miles from land to even catch a glimpse of it. This means fishing is an exceedingly tiny industry these days. 99% of the people living in the City have never seen the ocean, the vast majority never will.

The thing that sets inhabitants of the Twilight Lands apart from your average Joe Citizen in the City is that the former are tougher, more suspicious of others, full of initiative and not to mention more energetic. Which are all very important traits to have to be able to survive in the much tougher environments. People from the City on the other hand tend to be better educated and can probably handle technology better.

No idea why the book suddenly leans into gross generalizations when it’s made abundantly clear that cities are tough places to live for a lot of people. Even without having to deal with hellstorms or similar they’re still obviously not nice places to live in for many. Which something a lot of the prewritten adventurers can and will hammer in because the majority of them do take place inside various cities.

As mentioned several times before the vast majority of the inhabitants in the Twilight Lands are mutants, either nomads or those who have decided to settle down somewhere. They often give away a very unorganized appearance, and it’s not until you examine them a bit closer that you realize that they’re driven by a well developed sense of self-preservation.

quote:

“After all, one has to think about their conditions; they have, in principle, begun at the Stone Age level.”
Mutants have barely any gadgets, and those who have it can barely use them as intended. They’re usually well armed with swords, clubs, bows and spears. They’re usually very peaceful and will only attack if they’re being threatened or being desperate due to shortage of food.
Ugh no, this is just bad. Stop. Let’s not treat them like they’re savage natives or even noble savages for that part. Not to mention they have the gall to call them peaceful when they have several times before declared them as an ever present threat in various ruins and zones. Make up your loving mind here. There are so many better ways to do them than having them be at near stone age level (and yet have swords, okay?). You could expand upon the fact that they’re the children of the twilight lands and therefore have a better connection to those lands. You could say that they’ve set up villages and towns in old ruins in places where humans can’t be for various reasons. But no, instead we just get tribals who don’t get technology and swing stone clubs at you.

Slave Hunters are a despised group of people who live by themselves as a result. In heavy armored cars they travel around the twilight lands and capture big, powerful mutants and ziggy’s that can serve as labour in the City. They’re all heavily armed and completely ruthless.
If I didn’t know any better this is a straight up Judge Dredd reference. I can’t really think of much else it’d be referring to.

Religion has taken a strong backfoot in the City’s societal life. It’s obviously still around but not all that much. Any fanatics usually get deported to the twilight lands where they, with their charismatic personality and simple messages can usually gather huge groups of followers. Their messages tend to vary however, some cults live as harmless hermits on what nature can provide them. While other groups are militant, highly aggressive and well armed to boot. To the City these groups are harmless due to their small size. To the various inhabitants on the outside opinions may vary greatly.

As mentioned before, Pioneers are those who have been exiled from the city to the twilight lands. This means that they usually possess a strong dislike, bordering on hatred, for the City and everything that it stands for.
This means that they try to, to the greatest extent possible, avoid any contact with them. They usually live in strongly fortified farms, and have, almost ironically, been supplied by the City with enough gear to build relatively comfortable societies.
The book really needs to decide on if the Pioneers either dislike the cityfolk or utterly loathe them because things have been flip flopping for a while now. Especially when it also makes repeated mentions that they’ve been set up very comfortably by the City itself and not just thrown out on the street with only the clothes they were. The crime section did mention that the City goes as far as training whoever is being exiled into a pioneer before showing them the door. So at the same time the hatred they feel comes off as unjustified. Resentment? Sure. But outright spite? Nah.

Ziggy’s, or nomads for that part are normal humans who have always lived in the Twilight Lands. They’re highly suspicious against the City and even stay away from the Pioneers because they’re so closely associated with them. They live off farming and looting abandoned cities and forbidden zones. This means that they have good access to tech, even if it’s slightly outdated, but still fully functional. They travel in heavily modified and improved cars and gasoline and firearms are hard currency. The Ziggy’s are the most dangerous kind of inhabitants of these lands, because they’re only driven by a need to survive. They do not hesitate to shoot anything that moves in their hunt for food and items.
And here we have our mandatory Mad Max reference, down to the gas and weapons being considered money. But even then this is far better treatment or description than what the mutants got earlier. Not to mention you can, with the benefit of hindsight, even expand upon the nomads in the vein of Fury Road or Thunderdome. Just to make them a little bit more involved than roving bands of marauders and then also deal with the conflicting culture of Ziggy’s and City people if you so like.

Next time: Wir fahren, fahren, fahren auf der Autobahn.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

Midjack posted:

Do both, but Super Console first.

No.



Normally I’d write a long-winded, self-indulgent personal essay here, but I’m just not feeling it. Also I have no personal connection to the setting other than thinking the inner planes are cool and really liking a let’s play of Planescape: Torment I read once. This review will be a “it’s done when it’s done” affair without a posting schedule, and this book is also… so visually boring. Just diagrams and text with very rare pictures. I can’t decide whether I’ll let the walls of text stand on their own or just borrow relevant pictures off deviantART or something (crediting their source of course). If the thread has no opinion I’ll just flip a coin I guess.

Sidenote: I’m writing this with dictation software for health reasons and I wanted to note the software knew how to correctly spell deviantART. It still automatically capitalizes words after ellipses though :argh:

Introduction! The author, one Jeff Grubb (who’s worked on everything from Dragonlance to Spelljammer to Guild Wars) tells us he wrote this book to bind together all the disorganized information on other planes into some coherent whole, a difficult task he managed by a mixture of previously established information in other AD&D books and winging it. His goal was to focus on the basic mechanics of survival, combat, and exploration in the planes without getting too deep into their aesthetics or inhabitants’ lives; better to keep the mystery intact that way. We’ll see how that works. If there were aspects of the source material he couldn’t successfully average together (say, contradictory myths in the outer planes), he just picked one arbitrarily or made something up – honestly, not a bad policy under the circumstances. Through the intro he uses a radio play series his parents played for him when he was a kid as a framing device and thanks them in his dedication for introducing it to him :3:



Next introduction! This book covers four of AD&D’s five spheres of existence. The fifth, The Prime Material Planes, include every individual D&D setting, all of which are beyond the scope of this book. Each plane overview includes information on methods of travel into and out of the plane, how visitors can survive there, what creatures they can expect to run into (get ready for massive encounter charts!), how the plane changes how combat works, various effects it has on various kinds of magic, their effects on skills, and other assorted information. You also get some notes here on how different planes affect how long subjective time is as compared to time in prime material planes. “Subjective time” means effects last shorter or longer while true time lasts the same time. Okay, look, I’ll just show you:
  • The Ethereal Planes are loose, foggy spirit dimensions laid over every Prime Material Plane; they don’t connect to each other, though they do connect to the Inner Planes. Every piece of matter in the Ethereal Planes has no physical presence by default and solid objects pass through each other, though a few pockets of solid matter (called Demi-planes) can be found here and there. When you’re near the local Prime Material, time passes like it does there, but as you get deeper subjective time gets cut down to 1/10; you take a potion that lasts 10 rounds, you get 100 rounds of effect.
  • The Inner Planes are embodiments of various elements; not just air, water, fire, and earth, but weird combinations on their edges like steam or radiance or ash. They usually kill visitors dead unless they take serious precautions beforehand. Subjective time is doubled here; that 10 round potion lasts five.
  • The Astral Plane is a barren, nearly empty void only inhabited by teeny chunks of stray matter and the occasional astral projection. You can go through it to reach the outer planes or other Prime Materials, though you can find a few other weird things hanging around out there. Subjective time goes about 1000 years per day here, so people sometimes dump people dying for various reasons in here until they find a way to save them. Except spells, spells work in true time here.
  • The Outer Planes key off alignments instead of elements; while the Inner Planes represent parts of the physical world, the Outer Planes represent morality and philosophy. You can find gods and afterlives of various flavors here. True time and subjective time pass at the same rate.

We get some serious :words: about encounter rates, how to design encounters, and methods of altering these tables to fit your campaign, followed by a truly :psyboom: definition of every category of magic spells and items before listing out every spell in AD&D, who can use them, and relevant categories for each.


Page 1 of 2 :whoptc:

Seriously, we get pages and pages of small type covering all this in gratuitous detail. Did people really use all of this to plan out their campaigns? Funnily enough, not a number to be found in this chapter except on sample random roll tables and definitions of various things. No math. Runs against the AD&D stereotype (as passed on to me) but the funny thing about stereotypes is that they aren’t always true.

Was all that clear to you? I’m not sure it’s clear to me :v:. This will probably come up a lot; Grubb wasn’t kidding about exploring mechanics here, this stuff gets crazy complicated. Let me know if I missed anything or wasn’t clear and I’ll try to go back and fix it. I wouldn't say it's incomprehensible, just dense.

This post is nearly 1000 words long. It covers eight pages. Out of 127 :gonk:

Next time we get banished to the Ethereal Plane Shadow Realm.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Falconier111 posted:

No.



We get some serious :words: about encounter rates, how to design encounters, and methods of altering these tables to fit your campaign, followed by a truly :psyboom: definition of every category of magic spells and items before listing out every spell in AD&D, who can use them, and relevant categories for each.

Did people really use all of this to plan out their campaigns?

Probably not, but figure various people might use some of it so he figured to make it as insanely complete as possible just to avoid some fan-creature button-holing him at con demanding to know exactly how "Spiritwrack" or whatever worked on the Demiplane of Blood Golems because that got left OUT!

Tiler Kiwi
Feb 26, 2011


oh hey its the cacodemon. hello cacodemon!

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!


Tiler Kiwi posted:

oh hey its the cacodemon. hello cacodemon!

Actually, that's an Astral Dreadnought.

Looking forward to this review as Planescape is/was my jam in a major way.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

PurpleXVI posted:

Actually, that's an Astral Dreadnought.
As genuinely useless as MOTP was as a game supplement, it had truly great (dare I even say iconic) cover art.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!






Mutant 2089

Here in my car, I feel safest of all, I can lock all my doors
It's the only way to live, In cars




Transportation isn’t all too different from how it is today. People still use cars, planes and helicopters to get where they need, and the majority of those are still gasoline powered. Albeit that is mostly synthetic fuel these days.

There are of course more esoteric modes of transportation available. For instance the anti-gravity technology was developed during the 40’s but after the space war the development came to a sudden halt. Nowadays they’re mainly used as cargo haulers or passenger transports because they’re pretty slow and cumbersome. They’re also incredibly expensive to produce and the fact that they’re also uranium powered (pretty sure they mean they’re nuclear powered), adds to those costs. There are a handful of old relics from the old days around, but they’ve since long stopped being produced and there’s no longer any spare parts available.

The most common craft that city people use whenever they have to travel in the Twilight lands is hovercraft, because it allows them to bypass large amounts of the terrain that would otherwise stop a regular car in its tracks.

But otherwise the most common way of transportation is by car. This is true for both inside and outside of the City. Cars driving around in the City are pretty similar in appearance to what you see today, but the main difference is that they’re mostly controlled by signals relayed by a magnetic path built into the road itself. This is a feature for all major thoroughfares in the City proper. Once a car has entered one of these paths you neither need to turn or control your speed because all of that is controlled by the car itself in conjunction with the road path. But you still need to disable the system if you need to turn off the road or change lane. The system does ensure all cars have the required safety distance between them and it’s impossible to crash as long as the system is connected.
The major roads inside the City, the interstradas, consist of ten lanes and are all equipped with magnet paths. On the very biggest ones all you need to do is tell your car where you need to go and it’s automatically driven there until the magnet path reaches its end, to which is loudly announced by the car.
Cars are gasoline powered, which does make the air around the stradas rather bad but on the other hand the emission control is better than what it was by the end of the 20th century.
In the Twilight lands things are much different. As implied in the ziggy sections cars are in general heavily modified. Up to the point where they are more like armored tanks than cars. Windows replaced with grates or mesh, massive reinforced tires or backup engines are almost standard equipment to deal with the various dangers out there. The engines are usually also of an older make which doesn’t handle the synthetic gasoline that the City cars use. Which means that anyone in possession of an oil well or even a refinery is a very powerful person indeed.
Hey remember that Nomads are a massive Mad Max reference, because they’re totally a Mad Max reference.

Helicopters are a common sight in the skies above the City. They’re used for everything from surveillance to quick transports to and from production sites. The Metropolis conduct the vast majority of their street surveillance in the air using heavily armed helicopters.
I am very disappointed in that they don’t use cool tilt rotors or anything. I mean Appleseed came out just a few years earlier. Granted I’m pretty sure it wasn’t really available in Sweden in english or anything by that point. (First english translation came out in 1988, so a bit too late to be added to this I imagine.) But still, tilt rotors are much cooler than your plane jane helicopter.

Monorails (Monorail!~) is the City’s equivalent to the subway. Now the book calls them Air Paths but in this case I’m just going to translate it to Monorail for the lack of a better term to use. Subways quickly became outdated and very unreliable as more or more shady individuals took their refuge in the tunnels. Instead the much quicker and more comfortable monorails were developed and now stand for almost all of the public transit in the City. The whole system is automated and the fact they’re easy to maintain and cheap to run is seen as a huge plus.

Ever since the space war the City hasn’t really much to do with it. Even now there’s still a bunch of intact bases and complexes in orbit around earth. On clear nights you can see them as bright, almost stationary dots in the sky. But nowadays all the space ports are left to rust and there’s barely any space ships left on terra firma. What’s left is either wrecked or broken, most of the space technology has been forgotten during the past 40 years since the last regular orbital transports. People in 2089 (Which I think this is the first time we get a confirmed date for the setting) have as little knowledge about space travel than the ones in 1989.
And frankly things are not very different in 2020. That probably would’ve worked if I had written this in 2019. Oh well.
Gone are the times when you could seat yourself in a small space yacht and fly up to the moon without any help.
The corporations aren’t particularly interested in space, or any of the planets of the solar system. Nor do they have the resources to conduct any real research into this precarious field. Sure, there have been a couple of attempts at space travel before. But they’ve always been very expensive and provided relatively weak results. Much of the secrets of spaceship constructions was lost with the space war.
The big mystery however is what happened to the various colonization projects that were started during the 2030’s. So far not a word has been heard of either the Mars or Moon colonies. Which has led to the general understanding that they too were destroyed during the space war.

Next time: ULTRATIGER.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

Everyone posted:

Probably not, but figure various people might use some of it so he figured to make it as insanely complete as possible just to avoid some fan-creature button-holing him at con demanding to know exactly how "Spiritwrack" or whatever worked on the Demiplane of Blood Golems because that got left OUT!

Nothing got left out.



The Ethereal Plane



The Ethereal Plane is basically interdimensional glue. It connects every Prime Material to the Inner Planes and stretches over the local reality without ever touching it, at least in some parts. It’s composed of “proto-matter”, whatever that means, and it has two (well, three, kind of, but we’ll get to that) primary components/regions: the Border and Deep Ethereal. The book constantly compares the plane to an ocean, with the Border Ethereal as the shallows and the Deep Ethereal as the open ocean. And yes, that does include fish (well, Tritons).

Every Prime Material has its own personal Border Ethereal that touches it at every point (:quagmire:); you can enter it from wherever you are using a variety of spells, psionic abilities, whatever, the spell or whatever will tell you what it does. At that point you’re free to drift around, since though you can feel gravity, it doesn’t pull anything down; going anywhere is as simple as wanting to go there and stuff stays suspended. You can sort of see out the Border into the neighboring plane (not the other way though) and though certain spells, situations, and extremely dense materials can prevent this you can go through solid objects of any kind (including the ground) in either plane. Or multicellular life forms, so set up a room with vines on the walls and some bouncer out front and you can’t get in from the Ethereal. I can’t tell exactly how opposite sides of the border interact; I think Ethereal travelers and their stuff just bounce off. I do know that if you leave the Ethereal Plane somehow while part of you is inside a physical object you save or die, with “save” meaning you get catapulted into the Deep Ethereal like you accidentally turned off noclip.



Once you float a couple days away from the local Prime Material Plane, you start running into colorful shimmering curtains that look a lot like what would happen if you could approach the northern lights on foot; these are Curtains of Vaporous Color, the borders between a given Border Ethereal and the greater Deep Ethereal. Each curtain carries an appropriate color (Prime Materials are turquoise), can be skimmed along to catapult you somewhere else in the Prime Material very quickly (only if you’re a particularly skilled wizard though :smugwizard:), and occasionally have outposts or waystations set up by travelers. You also get ether cyclones which at least slow you down a bit and at most scatter characters across across the planes (as in, they can end up in different planes) without a clear way back. This being AD&D maybe half the time one’s coming you get a couple minutes warning and the rest it just hits you out of nowhere. Once you get through you enter the Deep Ethereal, which just functions like the Border but without any Material under it, just endless fog; with luck, navigational skill, and plenty of :smugwizard: you can make it through to the Border Ethereal of another Prime Material or Elemental Plane. Or if the effect keeping you in the Ethereal plane ends, in which case you shoot through the nearest curtain and into the appropriate Prime Material/Elemental Plane.

Despite the fact that you can see into other planes when you’re in the border, everything in the Ethereal Plane is made out of the same soupy pseudo-matter, including you. You breathe that matter like it’s air, so you can breathe while inside solid objects, but you can only see so far into the gloom. Making sure you’ve gotten to where you’re going can be a bit of a trial. Combat out there can boil down to slapstick; non-magical and slightly magical equipment lose their potency and become about as hard as any other Ethereal matter (though they still grant relevant stat bonuses), meaning any lightly equipped travelers are better served by sheathing their weapons and engaging in fisticuffs. Magic in general packs a bit less of a punch here. Any divine abilities just barely function unless the power source sits in a nearby plane (by default Ptah hangs out in the Ethereal), summoning spells don’t work unless they summon elementals, spells that summon physical objects just make them out of ethereal matter (throw up a stone wall and the opponent can just walk through it), etc. This book goes into excruciating detail on all sorts of spell effects, but most of this just works on common sense. We do learn that extremely powerful Druids can pop between Inner and Prime Material Planes without crossing the Ethereal, you can ride your horse into the Ethereal Plane if you train it from birth to do so, and monks get some slight but significant combat bonuses across the board. Also, it takes 10 times longer for magic users to regain their spells, like the Plane’s only impediment to :smugwizard:s.

There’s going to be LOTS of :smugwizard: in this review.


Good to see that effect still works here. Or they just used some spare art.

Most of the Plane’s inhabitants are visitors from elsewhere, either intelligent explorers or spirits of various kinds. You do get plenty of monsters, though, of all kinds, ranging from animals that jump into and out of the Ethereal naturally to the occasional lost God (one of the possible Very Rare encounters has your party running into Tiamat). You roll for encounters once every four hours or so, and though you usually run into potentially hostile groups in the Deep Ethereal, about half the time in the Border Ethereal you run across encounters from the appropriate Prime Material tables that only notice you if they can already see into the Plane. Judging by the handy-dandy quarter page chart on determining the party make up of groups of human travelers that only show up a fraction of the time, parties on the way through the Ethereal should be in the low teens level wise, but… Tiamat, man. You might also stumble on demi-planes, lumps of proto-matter so dense they’ve gained internal consistency and developed their own physics and Border Ethereal. We get examples of three that embody shadow, time, and electromagnetism, with a mythical fourth one mentioned where mysterious forces gather villains from across the Prime Material for punishment (hi Ravenloft!).

Altogether pretty boring, especially compared to some of the wildness later on. This stuff is easier to plow through than I thought, I just excise all the uninteresting magic notes. We’ll see if it holds up.

E:
Introducing: the :smugwizard: Counter! Every time we run into a situation a party might be forced into relying on their wizard to survive, the Counter will go up by one! How high will the Counter climb? Let’s take a spin and find out!

:smugwizard: Counter: 2


Next time we venture into the Inner Planes and see what an entire reality made out of fire looks like.

Falconier111 fucked around with this message at 23:40 on Jun 17, 2020

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




There is only one constant in D&D, and it's wizards making GBS threads on everyone else with a gigantic smug grin.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Soulbound
Spelling Bee

Common Spells are special in that any wizard can learn them, no matter what Lore they have. The casting is flavored for their Lore, but the mechanics are identical, carried over from WFRP 4e. Common spells are also unique in that none of them require more than 1 success, though the TN can range from 3 to 6. They are, thus, the safest spells you can get, because the worst you can fail by is one dice and with any Focus at all it's unlikely. Taking the Spellcasting talent gives four spells from this or your lore, plus Mystic Shield and Arcane Bolt.
Aetheric Armor: You give yourself +1 Armor for a round; more successes either extend duration or increase Armor, but duration is cheaper.
Arcane Barrier: You form a barrier around a Zone, preventing anyone from entering or leaving it without a Body or Soul check based on your successes, and also debuff Accuracy of any attack shot through the barrier (but not spells, which don't use Accuracy or care about Defence to begin with).
Arcane Blast: You hit everyone in a Zone, dealing damage based on successes.
Arcane Bolt: Every wizard begins with this spell. You hit someone with a blast, dealing damage based on successes.
Arcane Wave: You send out a wave of energy over your Zone, forcing everyone in it to have to make a Body check based on your successes or fall Prone and take damage based on successes.
Flight: You can fly at Normal speed for a while.
Ghost Light: You make a glowing light in your Zone that removes Obscured traits for a while, and you can move it to nearby Zones with an action.
Move Object: You get minor telekinesis for a while. It can lift anything Medium or smaller, but can't be used for combat - the object moves too slow. You can drop stuff on people, though.
Mystic Shield: Every wizard begins with this spell. You buff someone's Defence for a round, and more successes extend duration.
Nullify: You prevent your Zone and anything in it from appearing as magical, even to Witch-Sight, for a while.

Amber Spells tend towards combat buffs for their best stuff. Some are very good at that! Their higher-success tricks, while often quite good, are very risky to cast without a lot of Focus, so better avoided at first.
Amber Talons: 1 success needed. You or an ally sprout claws for a round, with extra successes boosting duration. The claws do pretty good damage, have Piercing, Rend and Subtle, and also give a bonus to climbing checks. This is pretty good when caught unarmed or you need to climb or want to damage armor.
Bestial Spirit: 4 successes needed. You summon a spirit-gryph-charger for a round, with extra successes boosting duration. The very short duration and high success count limit its usefulness, even though a gryph-charger is itself a very competent fighter and this one trades in mobility for taking half damage from non-magical attacks.
Cower 1 success needed. You cause a Beast to become Stunned for a round, with extra successes boosting duration. This is niche use (Beasts are the only valid target) but very good when it applies, especially since Beasts can be loving terrifying monsters like a magmadroth.
Farsight: 1 success needed. You get telescopic supervision and a boost to Accuracy and vision-related checks for a while. This is a very good buff because of how long term it is - it lasts several minutes rather than rounds.
Flock of Doom: 3 successes needed. You summon a flock of birds to attack someone, doing damage and making them have to make a Body check to avoid being blinded for a round. Successes boost either damage or duration, and while blindness is pretty nasty, the high requirements for even basic success do not make this a very worthwhile attack spell.
Nocturnal: 1 success. Your or an ally become able to see perfeclty in the dark, removing any penalties for low light or darkness, and removing the need to sleep for a day. This is decent due to its long duration, but there's a limit to how often it can be stacked based on the target's Body - they're gonna need sleep eventually.
Pack Hunter: 1 success. You pick two allies nearby, and for a round they get a buff to Melee and damage when attacking the same target. You can spend successes either on duration or to buff more allies. This can be very nasty if everyone is coordinating well.
Primal Hunter: 2 successes. You pick an ally, buffing their Melee, Accuracy and Speed for a round, and also giving them a bonus to hunting and tracking. Successes extend duration. The buff is excellent, so the fact that it needs two successes isn't as big a limit as it might otherwise be.
The Amber Spear: 2 successes. You deal damage based on successes to a target, and it ignores armor. Ignoring armor is real nasty against tougher foes, and the benefit this spell has over other spells in other lores that do the same is it has a long range, but it lacks special effects.
Wildform: 3 successes. You turn yourself or an ally into a Beast of your choice, with Toughness no greater than their maximum Toughness. The target entirely replaces their sheet (except for Wounds) with the Beast's sheet, but aesthetically will resemble the target with fur coloration and so on. All equipment merges in with the target. Extra successes can be spent to boost the target's new Toughness, but if they hit Toughness 0 the spell ends early. It otherwise has a pretty long duration, so it's very handy if you need to take a normally squishy party member and have them pinch hit as a combatant, since as noted, Beasts can be pretty drat tough. The high success cost makes it a Focus-intensive spell, but the benefits are pretty good.

Amethyst Spells have some very good tricks, and tend to lower difficulty levels. It's a good lore - it has combat and general utility.
Death Shroud: 1 success. You make someone appear to be dead for a few hours. They don't breathe and appear dead even to magical examination. They can choose at any time to end the spell early.
Dying Words: 1 success. You can summon a fragment of the soul of a dead body nearby, asking it questions based on successes for a minute or so. It must answer and won't lie.
Ethereal Guide: 1 success. You summon a ghostly spirit which will obey simple commands for a few minutes. It's mostly good at searching for stuff, though it knows nothing about specific people or places so you have to describe what you want. In combat, you can take an action to have it buff someone's Melee and Accuracy for their next attack. It'll stop after each attack so you have to keep re-ordering it, but it's a decent buff.
Night's Touch: You turn yourself insubstantial, along with all your gear, for few minutes. You can speak but not interact physically with objects, and you take half damage from non-magical attacks, but you are warded or repelled by anything that would ward or repel undead.
Pall of Doom: You make a cloud of dear and darkness in a Zone for a round. Anyone in it has to make a Mind check based on your successes or become Frightened and get a Defence debuff for a round, and anyone affected also has to try to leave the Zone on their turn if possible. Additional successes extend duration, but the spell's on the Zone rather than any targets so it has no further effects once they leave the Zone.
Soulflay: 2 successes. This is like Amber Spear - it deals armor-ignoring damage. It has a shorter range, but it also forces a Body check to avoid becoming Prone due to intense pain.
Soulshroud: 4 successes. You pick a Zone; that zone and any ally in that zone cannot be targeted by harmful spell effects for a round. Extra successes extend duration. This would be really good if it weren't so costly. The high success cost means I'm not sure it's worth it most of the time.
Soul Steal: 1 success. This is a short-range attack spell - you pick a target and deal damage based on successes, and you also regain Toughness based on successes. This is pretty great! Doesn't work on undead at all, though.
Unnatural Darkness: You summon a cloud of darkness centered on yourself for a few minutes. It fills your entire Zone, and all allies in it get a bonus to DEfence and avoiding detection. If you move, it moves with you.
Word of Ending: 4 successes. You deal damage to a target based on successes; if the target takes more than their Soul in damage, they become Incapacitated for a round. This is extremely high cost and doesn't ignore armor, so it's of niche usefulness, but it's very show-offy.

Next time: Bright, Celestial and Gold spells

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!






Mutant 2089

Behold Nature, in all of its mutated splendor.

Nature has changed in Mutant, the twilight lands are full of mutated animals and plants. Many of them show little to no similarities to whatever 20th century animal they might stem from. Livestock is all but extinct these days, the only place to really find examples of horses, pigs and cows are in scattered farms. Otherwise you have to look in the history books for them. The most common animal you can find in the City are dogs. Both wild dogs and guard dogs. Frankly I call bullshit on that statement since it’s been shown time and time again that animals are very good at adapting to changing environments. Not to mention rats are incredibly hardy so why wouldn’t they live inside the city? Or cockroaches. In fact, this book doesn’t even have giant mutated cockroaches as an example animal. Bullshit I tell you.
Anyway, all other kinds of meat come from the giant meat factories that through genbank material produces vast quantities of surrogate meat.

While all creatures do have attribute values the GM is encouraged to be flexible in order to be able to cover the myriad of different situations and interactions that might happen. Slavishly following the rules is a hindrance to a decent gaming experience. Which is good advice.
And then it follows that up by saying that the GM should modify creatures skills with consideration of age and experience. Considering this whole chapter only deals with animals and plant enemies that seems like a very strange advice to give. It’s also described as an excellent tool for the GM to use when they need to balance their adventure. Okay, sure? The GM is thus encouraged to modify all values up or down by 50% and explain it away with the animal being young or old. I suppose that depends on campaigns because I can’t imagine even an old animal surviving a decently equipped or experienced party for very long. Also, some of these could probably put a lot of hurt in any PC without having to be modified all that much.

We get a couple of examples of animals found in the Mutant world.
First up we have apparently the only thing ever found in the City, Guard Dogs. They have a 1d10 damage bite but only a basic 25% chance to hit. Otherwise not much to write home about.

Bears on the other hand are much worse, sadly no mutated Kodiak bears or anything. Just a bear. If a bear hits someone with both of their claw attacks then they’ve grappled their target and will next round automatically succeed with their hug attack. To break out of this you need to beat their STY with your own. Which is easier said than done when they roll 3d6+9 in strength or just have 20 in average strength score. I assume the number after the forward slash on the attribute score is the average result because it doesn’t mention it anywhere.
Another chance to break someone free is to attack the bear and then there’s a 25% chance per round that it will let go of its victim. At which point it’s probably too late in many cases as the hug does 2d8 damage. Poor Fizban would at most only last two rounds at most if grappled by one with his 18 KP. Its bite and claw attacks only do 2d6 respectively. 4d6 in the case of the claws since that’s two attacks. They have 31 KP with 2 points of natural armor, but on the other hand they only have 20% in dodge so they’re not hard to hit.

Murdertrees are intelligent predatory plants that manage to thrive pretty much everywhere and live by catching smaller prey (up to a human in size) with their tentacles. If you get snared in one of them you need to win over their STY value in an opposing check. Thankfully they only have 14 in average so it’s a lot easier to get out of than from a bear hug. And usually they have 2d4 tentacles that only do 1d6 damage. It’s decently resilient with 33 KP for the trunk and 4 points of natural armor, the tentacles having 14 KP each and 25% dodge.

Next we have GIANT STAG BEETLE. Which is loving awesome. They’re described as being 5 meters long, 1.5 meters tall and 2 meter wide. Really big boys. They’re also very aggressive and leave a swathe of cut down tree trunks in its wake. They are not to be hosed with, having 76 KP and 6 points of natural armor to protect them. And their bite do 5d6 damage and a solid 45% chance to hit you as well. On the other hand they’re really easy to hit with only having a 10% dodge but even then they’re not something you should fight against unless you’re prepared.

After that we have something even cooler, namely the ULTRATIGER. They’re gigantic mutated saber toothed tigers that are almost as tall as a human and 4 meters long. Beyond a pair of three decimeter long canines they look just ordinary tigers. So I can only imagine a massive beefy siberian tiger with huge canines. gently caress yes, that’s cool. I mean I wouldn’t want to meet one because their bite does 4d10 damage while their claws do 4d8 and would most likely tear most PC’s into shreds in a round or two. Even Maria with her 33 KP wouldn’t last long if the ULTRATIGER managed to bite her. Of the ones listed it has the highest health pool with 37 KP and 2 points of natural armor. Not to mention the fastest of the bunch, being able to run 24 meters in one round. It’s also incredibly perceptive, rolling at 80% for that skill and 70% for the Maneuvers. But only 35% dodge.

Then we get… Killer Rabbit. Yup. I guess we absolutely had to make a Monty Python reference in all of this. (I know it’s much, much later but man does Dungeon Meshi pull that off so much better and with fantastic buildup too.)
Either way they hunt in groups of 1d10+10, so you’ll be facing quite a lot of them. Their preferred method of hunting is to sneak up on their prey and then attack their necks or any other unprotected area with a well aimed jump. Their bite does 1d10 damage and has a 30% chance to hit. And then you multiply that attack with at least 10 more and you quickly run into a case of death by a thousand cuts for whoever gets ambushed by these. But on the other hand they have only 2 KP each and no natural armor. Even if they have a 55% dodge chance. So hitting them might be a bit of an issue.

Lastly we actually get something weird for once. Devil Globes are small, lightweight greywhite translucent creatures that float around in the air like a football (soccer for the americans) sized soap bubble. Their surface is completely smooth and covered by acidic mucus. If you somehow manage to touch this you instantly take 10 KP in damage. Armor will negate the damage but at the cost of it being ruined by the acid and its absorption is lowered by 10. If you decide to shoot a Devil Globe then the acid is spread over a 10 meter wide area, but in this case you only take 1 KP in damage. But at the same time if anyone is wearing armor then it loses 1 point of absorption from the acid.
On occasion enterprising mutants manage to catch these with nets and use them as projectiles or mines. Which seems weird since they’re apparently so light that they can easily ride the wind, so I guess you have to make sure it’s behind you before you throw it. Another problem is that they can collide with aircraft (first mention that they’re a thing beyond helicopters), or float into power lines. They’re incredibly weak, having only a single KP and no dodge. But they do apparently come with a mental mutation. And come in groups of 3D20. I can see plenty of GM’s just looking at that mental mutation comment and then how many they rolled up earlier and then just moving on. Have fun rolling up… *dice clatter* 41 different mutations for a 1 KP monster that will most likely die in a long chain reaction the moment one of them goes pop. While there’s nothing explicitly saying that it would happen in the rules, considering the acid does exactly 1 damage that is obviously the intended effect.

Sadly this is all of the listed example creatures, no rules about the giant mutated moles mentioned earlier. Afterwards we get rules about how to make your own monsters. The details of which I shall not bore you with because it’s just recreating the stats that make up the example critters. Worth mentioning that the example monster ends up with a bite attack that does 5d10, a tail strike that does 4d8 and a stomp attack that does 8d10 damage. And apparently it also has a psionic attack that stuns their victim so they can get their heads bitten off and have their innards sucked out. I think the GM in that example has some issues. Let’s just go with that.

One thing worth noting is that this is the second to last chapter of the World book and so far there haven’t been a section dealing with NPCs. The GM advice section certainly makes mention of them as a thing and how you should play them, but there’s not much about making them for your game. There is a prewritten adventure that we’re going to cover as well afterwards that has some stat lines for mooks and NPCs, but beyond that there hasn’t been much of a guideline how to make human/mutant/robot NPCs, only critters and plants. Which is disappointing for a book that otherwise seems very keen on guiding new GM’s into the hobby. Not providing any basic stat blocks for gangers or your average MPOL trooper is kind of unfortunate. But at the same time probably not too hard to just pull some numbers from thin air, even if the risk there is you either make the NPCs too weak or too strong. And points of references are always nice to have to get an idea what to go for. So the book completely missing an NPC section is disappointing.

Next time: So is it any wonder people are afraid of technology?

Der Waffle Mous
Nov 27, 2009

In the grim future, there is only commerce.


this was more bought on by the industry thread discussion but one thing I appreciate with Soulbound is it kinda, uh, taking WFRP's whole, uh, "elves better hid their ears lest the ignorant peasants will lynch them" undercurrent and just loving making it not a thing.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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



The Inner Planes: Air, Fire, Earth, Water

The Inner Planes are the embodiments of the elemental building blocks of reality; the elements. You have six core elements (air, fire, water, earth, positive, and negative) with their own planes, and a bunch of para- and quasi-elemental planes that form the borders between them, each with their own theme. See: one of the many diagrams the book includes. This book being this book, we get a massive information dump on how all the planes work on a fundamental level before describing any of them. I’ll cover the mainstream Elemental Planes first before moving on to energy, para- and quasi-elemental planes later; likewise, I’ll cover specific conditions for specific planes when we get to them instead of frontloading them like the book does.

You can get to the Inner Planes either by a long journey through the Ethereal (which can take several weeks or months), passing through an elemental vortex (either one you open up or one that opens naturally at an appropriate spot, like the part of a volcano), or by hitting the border between two neighboring planes and crossing over. Problem is? Each plane is spatially infinite; without finding a way to compel a local to lead you out, you can travel forever and never leave the plane. Not even :smugwizard: is enough for this; no spell to use. Once you hit the Border Ethereal in a plane, it functions a lot like its equivalent elsewhere except that locals can usually see into it and interact with you as if you’d dropped out of it. More dangerous in a fight, a lot easier to move through.



Each plane is about as dangerous as its equivalent would be in the Prime Material; you can travel through Air without issue but drown or char-roast in the appropriate areas without adequate protection (:smugwizard: to the rescue!). Without a force pulling them down, gravity is relative out here; inanimate objects don’t move unless a sentient pushes them around and stop without losing momentum (this means projectiles stop the moment they leave the weapon but suddenly resume moving and deal damage when you touch them), and people can travel by mentally reorienting gravity and falling, slowing down by reversing it and stopping by negating it (lots of :barf: for anyone prone to vertigo and you can and will splat on objects if you aren’t careful). The other way, negating gravity and just traveling your speed wherever, tends to be much more common. Planes are mostly composed of their titular element, but outside of a core somewhere in its depths you get frequent pockets of other planes that slip in somehow unless local conditions destroy them; travel through them works the same way as in their original home.

Lots of things live in these planes, but mostly appropriate elementals. Except Positive and Negative, those planes are so uninhabitable you can only find an occasional deeply unhappy visitor. Elementals in their home planes almost never look like they do if you summon them elsewhere, since they tend to be bound into uncomfortable forms upon summoning; you get a mixture of versions of elementals you encounter elsewhere (they always have the same stats), reskinned animals and monsters from the Prime Material, and the occasional powerful spirit unique to the area. You can also find genies, some monsters, a few travelers, the occasional grue (there’s a bunch of them, they have their own rules for recruiting them as guides), and even gods from time to time. You also get the occasional inhabitants of a neighboring plane moving through, in which case they just move like they did back home. Magical items drop by two levels as long as they are in an Inner Plane, functioning like non-magical items, and spells that summon or manipulate elements can be automatically tweaked to affect any element of the caster’s choice. Mounts can come in here without issue as long as they have a way to stay alive, Clerics regain spells as normal only if their deity is in one of the inner planes, the Ethereal, or Prime Material, high-level Druids can summon elementals that serve them loyally, and monks get more bonuses (they take no damage when they collide with things).In general, once you get down here any spells that call on or get directed to the Astral or Outer Planes don't work.

All right, busy work over. Time for the planes.



The Plane of Elemental Air is basically Baby’s First Elemental Plane. The air is breathable, the lighting is even (blue sky as far as the eye can see), and the local elementals are the easiest for visitors to control. It’s also treacherous and often deceptive; temperatures can shift without warning, storms and winds can kick up out of nowhere, and objects in the distance can disappear after a different object passes in front of them. Also spells mortal wizards cast to summon elementals manifest physically and can scoop up and compel an unlucky character instead, likely to the dismay of both parties. Creatures are out here are often invisible (made of air, you see) and either float freely through the area or congregate around pockets from other planes, where they build their own homes and structures. Like Djinn.

Djinn are the folks travelers are most likely to interact with here. Unlike intelligent air elementals, djinn lean chaotic good and live in settlements with 20-odd citizens and a few elemental pets/livestock, answering to the biggest one in the settlement (the Sheik) and owing their allegiance to a caliph within a few days travel. They spend much of their time hunting for shinies to slap on to their homes and that makes them extremely vulnerable to bribes; if you can get them something valuable they’ll follow you to the ends of the earth (i.e. guide you around the plane or to its borders and then leave). You can also try to find the gigantic Air Elemental Queen or Bahamut, who has a palace here somewhere, but good luck doing so and not dying. Or members of a bunch of human pantheons, including a lot of Chinese gods. Did I mention the D&D cosmology at this point included pantheons openly lifted from other cultures? The D&D cosmology at this point included deities openly lifted from other cultures. Visit the plane and see if you can hunt down Raven! That sounds like a good idea that isn’t problematic on multiple levels!



The Plane of Elemental Fire is not a fun time. Unless it’s in a pocket of another elemental plane (which don’t last long before they incinerate or melt into slagging), anything vaguely flammable quickly burns away, anything that can melt does so, evaporates, and vanishes into nothing, and eventually the plane destroys everything not specifically protected from it (:smugwizard:). The heat and intensity of the fire varies from place to place, but the atmosphere (there is an atmosphere) is mostly un-breathable poisonous vapor and smoke, while any attempts to navigate without local assistance or :smugwizard: founder between blinding firelight, loud crackling, and no clear way for you to orient yourself. You can also run into the occasional bout of “weather” (fire cyclones), animals composed entirely of fire, and people composed entirely of fire.

Most intelligent fire elementals look down on anything from outside the plane as tragically unpopped bubblewrap, so unless you have the means to beat them up your best bets for getting around are the Efreet and the Azer. The former, the local Genie type, are massive, aggressive metallic creatures that tend to either fight or enslave intelligent creatures they stumble across; they only lean slightly towards evil, apparently. They split their time between outposts of maybe two dozen with the rare powerful genie visitor from another plane and the City of Brass, a massive fortified city of millions ruled over by a complex bureaucracy under a sultan (who can go toe to toe with many gods). If you’re looking for a guide or assistant who won’t stab you in the back at the first opportunity, you can seek out the Azer, basically fire dwarves that live in little homesteads and make their equipment out of fire. Very few higher powers live here, except for a few powerful elementals.



The Plane of Elemental Earth, outside of a few pockets, is entirely composed of dirt and stone. If you materialize in it, you displace whatever materials used to be there and stick around until you starve or asphyxiate (checking for encounters once every four hours as the book recommends, every *consults notes* 200 days on average you’ll run into either a trapped creature of the GM’s choice or a fossil – these encounter tables go deep). Your best bet for travel is either running through the Border Ethereal or :smugwizard:ing your way through solid rock until you hit something you want to go to. Naturally, since you’re dealing with solid earth in every direction, without local or :smugwizard: help you can’t navigate anywhere – though elemental guides can extend their abilities to breathe and move to anyone they touch. When it comes to random encounters, aside from a few geological features like faultlines and gas pockets, you get a surprising amount of wildlife here, mostly animal elementals and monsters. And the occasional dao.

Dao are earth genies and huge dicks. While most genies have a vaguely Arabian theme, dao go more for a Mongol or Cossack feel and act the part. They live in mazeworks, winding tunnel networks large enough to house dozens of dao and substantially more slaves. They really like taking slaves, you guys. They all answer (more or less) to a khan that lives in the center of their home state, the Great Dismal Delve, a mazework large enough to fit a country with the population to match. They trade with everyone else, especially the efreet; they’ve proven particularly good at digging up gemstones, which just about every earth elemental values, and are always happy to force others into bondage in exchange.



The Plane of Elemental Water is – you guessed it – a gigantic ocean. No sky, no seafloor, no visible source of light; the whole plane just kind of glows, though the light’s dim enough that you can’t see very far even in clear water (you can hear a bit farther than usual though). Getting around is a bit safer than on other planes – you sink more slowly and can swim faster if you have the right abilities – but you do need extensive :smugwizard: assistance just to not drown. Environmental shifts are rarer here than elsewhere, but they tend to be unpredictable and hard to prepare for; a steam current can boil you alive one moment and an ice flow can deal you cold damage to the next. Instead, most random encounters involve other creatures.

No other inner plane has as many random animals, elementals, and visitors bumming around. Local elementals blend into the water, given their primary elements, and… I’m trying not to say “go with the flow” because of how painfully obvious that pun is, but it absolutely applies. They sort of drift around and mind their own business unless someone tries to bribe them or attacks them. You get Tritons and water spirits of various kinds, but the Marids tower above them in power and influence. The most powerful genies and a bunch of pretentious pricks, they spend most of their time hanging out and bragging about things they didn’t do unless some lesser being pops by and irritates them, at which point they make it disappear. You can get them to follow you around with enough bribery (rare potions work well) but there prone to wandering off or getting pissy and leaving at the worst time possible. Curiously, aside from some powerful water elementals, I can’t find references to water gods living here. You’d think that it be obvious but :shrug:

Between them, those four planes provide the bulk of materials in the various secondary planes, even ones that don’t border them. We’ll cover some of those planes, the ones that sit along the border of two elemental planes – despite all three being infinite – next time.

:smugwizard: Counter: 8

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!


If I remember right, the 2e AD&D explanation for the planes being both infinite and having borders is that they have four spatial dimensions(which also accounts for elementals being pissy and not very smart on the Prime Material, you've just taken away a quarter of their spatial orientation and they're extremely confused), only three of which most Prime Material visitors can perceive, and in those three dimensions, the Inner Planes are infinite. Meanwhile a local guide can see and travel in the fourth spatial dimension and thus help Primes get to the border locations or the next plane over.

Also I always really liked the inner planes, difficult locations to do much with, but I enjoy them.

Also also one of my favourite things about any Inner/Outer Planar expeditions is how adventuring parties can accidentally get hijacked by summoning spells. Tell me that's not a fun little quest hook. If I remember right one of the Infinity Engine games made use of it, too... I think it was either Icewind Dale or Baldur's Gate 2.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


TROIKA!

Facing the Galaxy with a Lawbook, a Rapier and a Pocket Full of Wizard Biscuits

Troika! is a fantastic RPG, in the sense that it is absolutely brimming with fantasy. Troika is an attempt to write a game that absolutely grasps the most important part of RPG writing: As the book itself will tell you, this is a game written in intentionally broad strokes, designed to suggest a wide and ridiculously fun setting while leaving a ton of gaps for you to write in yourself. Everything about the book is meant to be evocative; the random character classes you roll aren't things like Fighter or Thief (well, okay, there's one completely ordinary Burglar) but 'Yongardy Lawyer' (duel-lawyers!) or 'Chaos Champion' (They're on break!) or 'Fellow of the Sublime Society of Beefsteaks'. Or perhaps you are a Monkey-Monger, and all that matters is that you and some very unlucky monkeys are here now.

I admit I'm gonna go a little deeper into Let's Read territory on this one because you need to see a few samples of the writing and the writing needs to be talked about (though obviously not to the extent that you wouldn't want to read the book; the book is totally worth reading for fun even if you have no intention of playing Troika!). The moment I read the character class table I knew I had to try running Troika! Everything about the prose and the ideas just oozes this interestingly whimsical style, where it feels like that brand of silly where the characters themselves take it completely seriously. Which is my favorite kind of complete nonsense. As soon as I saw the Questing Knight (Quixotic wanderers, acting out their own romantic melodrama, mostly considered harmless), the Chaos Champion (Who no longer dons the spikey armor, and who is sort of on a trial separation with the idea of universal destruction and the world ending in screams of terror though their patron assures them they are welcome to come back) and the Lonesome Monarch (Nobody even believes they were a king anymore!) it just hit me that man I would love to write a story about these 3 oddly melancholic people having to hang out and try to get their lives back on track as they adventure in a colorful and weird multiverse.

It's also wholesome. It's hearkening back to an era of weirder sci-fantasy, but while the game is 'Old School' in mechanics (and the mechanics are terrible! Tragically, horribly terrible!) there's no viciousness here. It's all a mixture of baroque, melodramatic melancholy and extraordinary silliness and fun, tied together with a lot of imagination and the explicit goal of getting your imagination fired up. Which is the best goal any RPG writer can have for their project's writing. Add fun, colorful, stylized art (I love the picture of the poor Chaos Champion just sitting there, contemplating his enormous maul, wondering what to do with his life, or the Monkey Monger attempting to hawk their Edible Monkeys) and it really works.

Then you run into the game mechanics and while I knew they'd be trouble, it wasn't until I ran a session that I confirmed how much they were going to be trouble. Troika! is based on a series of gamebooks called Fighting Fantasy which I never played, so I can't comment on them. All I can tell you is that Troika! has one of the most bafflingly bad initiative systems I've ever seen. In fact, we're going to get all the rules out of the way in this first post so I can tell you a little more about why you should read this book anyway, even though the rules system is so bad it will actively hinder your enjoyment of the excellent writing in play. Just run it in something else or write up your own nonsense (this is my plan)! The writing is worth it.

The first problem: Everything players do is based on Skill. You roll 2d6+Skill or 2d6 Roll Under Skill for everything. You have d3+3 Skill at PC creation. It will never change. You have various Advanced Skills from your class that add to your Skill in specific situations (like Sword Fighting). Outside of those you simply roll at base Skill. If you rolled a 4 on Skill, you will accomplish nothing outside your training for most of your career (Rolling 4 or less on 2d6 is uh, not good odds) and the character advancement rules for getting better at things are a very basic 'Roll 2d6 over your current total in a single Advanced Skill to raise it by 1 per rest after you've used it successfully' experience check system. You can only learn wholly new things by training, and base stats never improve. You also have 2d6+12 HP (never goes up) and d6+6 Luck (very powerful). Your PC is meant to be fairly interchangeable and disposable, and if you rolled poorly you are meant to mostly die comically. This is rather at odds with the whimsical and fun tone of the writing.

Also, basically all the rules are for fighting, but fighting is terrible. You're meant to just make things up outside of it, but with the low Skill chance for characters to do things outside of their Advanced Skills, this is unsatisfying. Character competence needed to be broader if you were going to tell me to just free-wheel everything. I would have preferred (and will probably implement!) something like Cardinal's Career Dice, a sort of general 'here are some broad categories of things you are a bit better at, as a Befouler of Ponds or Wizard Hunter'. For instance, in play, our Befouler of Ponds (bog priest who worships the bloated Toad God, who may be a collection of swamp animals rather than a man) wanted to intimidate some rowdy and re-enactment ready Historians in a dangerous and filthy academia bar with his pond magic. We just ruled he could use Swim for it because hell, it was his good skill and this seemed like something the magical bog-priest man should be able to do. While I'm happy to roll with things in game, I would really rather have something more of a framework to work with.

Second problem: I want to know who came up with this game's Initiative system. They are very silly. It is the kind of rule I call a system-killer: It's embedded in the system, but it's also really, really bad, and I can't think of why anyone thought it was a good idea. You put 2 tokens in the pool for each PC, and then usually 2, maybe 1, maybe 3 or 4 or 5 for enemies depending on how dangerous and determined they are. Each enemy contributes. You also place a Round Over token in, and this is the absolute most baffling bit. Each turn, you pull a token. If it's a player's, they act once. If it's an Enemy Token, you choose any one enemy and have them act. So if you're being a dick, a Dragon backed up by a bunch of worthless Gremlins can let the Gremlins give the Dragon all their turns and then this annoying beast of terrible perfection renders all your PCs to ash for sport (We'll get to Dragons). Similarly, the actual odds an individual player gets to move tend to be bad, and you can always roll 'Round Over' and reset the stack (and have any ongoing effects trigger for the round). The poor Befouler of Ponds in my group did not get to move for multiple turns. The Monkey Monger was in a stall that was on fire and taking damage until he moved out, but poor Ewan was stuck in there because...his token didn't come up. Etc, etc. Initiative is the death of Troika! and should be flung out a window with great force, because it is almost calculated to ensure some players have no fun at all and get to do nothing.

Add to this some rather poor general math on what the actual odds on 2d6 are, and the fact that PCs in melee get hit back any time they fail an attack (and have no way to even the odds with enemies with higher skill) and the combat is just a miserable, potentially exceedingly lethal mess. Also add to this that magic costs you HP, requires a casting check, and then requires an enemy to fail to roll under their total Skill on 2d6 to be affected most of the time. The magic can also miscast and instantly kill you or do other zany things. Many enemies have Skill 7-10. Their odds of failing that 2d6 (after you already needed to roll under on TN 7 or 8 or so) are pretty low! It just doesn't fit with the fun tone of the writing at all, and is full of potential for frustration or one player sitting there bored while others go or enemies keep rolling their turns. Add to that an insufficient framework for out of combat hijinks, and Troika! is a wonderful set of fluff that really needs a different set of rules.

But hey! It's really, genuinely excellent fluff.

Next Time: A selection of fine character classes

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 12:58 on Jun 18, 2020

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!






Mutant 2089

TECHNOLOGY!

The average tech level in Mutant lies above most areas of the 20th century. Computers have become faster and more powerful, energy extraction is more efficient and cheaper, laser technology has developed further than anyone thought was possible and more. There’s only two areas where progress seems to have come to a standstill, firearms and space.

I’m going to skip talking about the space part because this book really likes to regurgitate stuff it already explained in a previous chapter, outside of a mention that lost space tech might be found in the forbidden zones but none has managed to do so. Yet, dun dun duuuuun. For all the grief I might give the book at times it does a good job of actually including numerous plot hooks for adventures and campaigns within its pages.
Let’s talk about guns instead, as weird as that might sound. So the reason given as to why everyone still uses old 20th century guns is because there isn’t much else to use. Metropol and SWOT use laser weapons obviously but on the streets and amongst InterPol forces it’s still gunpowder based weapons that is the norm.
Which is a really lazy explanation as to why there’s a bunch of 100 year old weapons (plenty of the guns are even older than that) on the equipment list. Supposedly every single manufacturer and developer decided that energy weapons were the new hotness and dropped ballistic weapons in a heartbeat. Okay, sure? :raise:
Should be mentioned this notion gets booted out the window in future supplements, where you’ll see ballistics firearms being actively made by other corporations. Just unfortunate there’s only two of those and they came a bit too late. Then there’s also the obvious gear book as well, where they do get a bit more creative with things. While adding a ton of existing weapons.
One of those things I can, with the benefit of hindsight, give Shadowrun credit for. They spend a lot more time making all equipment feel flavourful while still being something that you might recognize. Less said about their utility in the game perhaps but it’s far more interesting than seeing lists of just ordinary stuff. Although on the other hand N2 just drowned you in numbers and names so there’s obviously a slight balance act here. Also N2 had way, way too many guns with negligible differences in stats. Mutant does this as well but not as because while the damage isn’t that different they still have different strength requirements and then more if you look at the optional attributes for them. It’s just enough to give you a choice, and possibly have something you want for later on, without overloading you with options.

Also at no point has the game explained what the various availability codes actually stand for. Not even this expanded gear section has any lists of how hard a C or BX are to get in comparison to each other. Pretty sure I mentioned this back then but not even the table booklet has anything referring to what they all mean. A dagger is listed as availability A, but at the same time a basic stiletto is rated as C and a longsword is D. What is the context for all of these in this case?

We get more detailed descriptions about the various weapons mentioned back in update 16. I’m not going to go through all of them and just highlight the more interesting ones.
Laser rapiers were made thanks to nerds. During the 2020’s someone realized that laser technology had advanced far enough that, somehow, the length of the beam could be limited. How you wonder since we’re dealing with a beam of light here. Doesn’t mention. This was obviously capitalized by some nerds who finally realized they could be actual jedi knights and thus made a prototype, because they could. What happened next the book doesn’t actually mention other than a few years down the line the first copies began showing up on the black market. And now the Laser Rapier is a rare weapon made in secret and in low quantities.

quote:

“A very sophisticated, dangerous intermediate between a chainsaw and a lead pipe.”
Yes, it’s just a Lightsaber. Something which becomes even more apparent when it’s described as a long metal cylinder from where a 2 meter long laser beam is projected out from one end. Powered by a fusion battery that lasts for an hour, no rules of how to keep track of that so wholly up to the GM. They’re forbidden everywhere and quite rare as well. Truly this is an age of darkness.
Meanwhile it’s tagged as only be able to be found, which is weird for a weapon that is explicitly mentioned to be sold on the black market.

Pocket masers and mini lasers are essentially energy knives. The latter also has an adjustable blade, somehow.

For some reason the book spends page space detailing both the history and how a crossbow works before ending with a mention that the current model is made by CoreTechs, which makes it our first actually mentioned corporation, and very common among some SWOT forces. Meanwhile Twilight Land inhabitants simply use 20th century versions looted from somewhere. Because actually making crossbows is apparently very hard and everything simply has to be relics of the past or nothing.
Both the crossbow and bow require licenses, to which I assume only means if they’re acquired in the City.
Apparently special forces are very big on using blowpipes in Mutant as well, as the blurb mentions that both InterPol and SWOT use them with regularity. Which seems odd because there’s also needle guns that fulfill exactly the same purpose and there’s no mention of them making sounds.

So apparently at some point during the 2020’s legislation was passed that weapons produced after the year 2000 were banned from being sold for civilian use. This meant that guns before that time were suddenly a bigger dominance on the streets and is also true in 2089. Although technically these weapons are newly produced. It talks about ‘masking’ the production date with the help of modern laser technology. Okay, so you scrub the license number on them? I’m not really sure what the book is trying to tell me here. Especially considering all these guys are pirate manufacturers anyway so why would you need to mask something like that? It goes on to say through the use of “used raw material”, I’m not really sure how raw materials could even be considered used, and shine on ‘the finished product’ with laserbeams you can create exact copies of the old guns that are virtually indistinguishable.
I’m sorry but this sounds really dumb and could’ve been phrased any other way to sound better. You could say they were made by illegal gun manufacturers based on original blueprints using the latest laser cutting technology. Not just “shine some lasers on some used raw material and you get a gun” because it doesn’t make a loving lick of sense when put it that way. It just feels like there’s a chunk of information missing there, I mean how does pointing a bunch of lasers at a gun-shaped block of metal actually create a gun? And then also ‘mask’ the production date? Why would you even need those if this stuff is underground?
Anyway, it ends with another weird thing by mentioning that the production of ammunition was never restricted by law, which in turns means that, despite the harsh rules, it is easy to acquire high-performance automatic weapons.
Oh, how little things have changed. Also, this implies that corporations, or someone for that part, is mass producing ammo for ballistic weapons. Who? I mean the book states that regular firearms were dumped in favour for energy weapons, and we’ll get a mention that SIG Sauer dumped all their firearms production to do energy packs later on. So who is still making all the readily ammo then?
You know, I might just be spending too much brain power on this. Moving on.

The revolver section breaks down the various six shooters available. Only thing worth mentioning is that the blurb about the Derringer pistol ends with: “Even the weakest woman stops a mutant that is running amok with one shot.” First of all I really doubt it because it does as much damage as a hammer (1d6+1) also way to go with that phrasing there. You made it almost to the end of the core books without a single comment like that.

One fun thing that comes from the fact that the book was written in the 1980's is the implication that the Soviet Union never collapsed and Germany never unified. The H&K P7M13 is described as the main sidearm of the West German police far into the 2040’s in this case and there’s at least another similar mention. The Sovietunion does get a mention but in this case only briefly under the Makarov entry and no mention how far they managed to survive.

The writers still hold onto the notion that the M16A1 was infamously prone to malfunction (which it was but for reasons not related to the gun itself), which I’m still annoyed about but not going to spend time arguing about so moving on. Also the motivation for giving the A2 less damage than A1 is not explained and its only mentioned it can shoot burst fire and not fully automatic. So why give it 3d10-2 in damage?

All the rifles mentioned are hunting rifles and no Barret rifle in sight amazingly enough. But I’m sure we’ll see that later on. I’m pretty sure the Marlin M1894 and the Winchester M94 are the two oldest weapons on this list. By 2089 both of those would be almost 200 years old.

The shotgun section mentions that all weapons listed require a cocking motion to reload every shot. Then why the hell do you have the sawn off rule?! Remember, the rule states that you can then use it as a pistol. I mean yes there are shotguns short enough to be classified as pistols (because of course there are), but they still have to be used with two hands at all times Also, for some reason, the number of pellets in each shell for each gun is listed. Unless they fully expect people to calculate damage based on each single pellet. Which, oh wow, have fun with that if you’re insane enough to consider it. Also a lot of the descriptions technically doesn’t make sense considering previous context as they’re mentioned being used by police and military. Neither of which would use those since they’re all supposedly just using energy weapons anyway. If anyone is wondering, the laser shotgun is described as having five barrels that automatically cover a field of fire of 30 degrees.

One mystery that is solved is what the Lanze is, in this case a reloaded west-german rocket launcher (designated Panzerfaust 2). And apparently shooting the M72A2 destroys the weapon. Which is technically correct I suppose.

The turbo laser was primarily used onboard the space age ship of the line and has barely any sensible usage on earth. Why does it have rules if that’s the case? :raise: But apparently some antigravity ships are equipped with them as a defence against mutants and ziggys. Still, why are they even in the stats when there’s also heavy lasers and laser machine guns?

Light combat armor is made out of “ultrakevlar” that was invented in the 2030’s. Also something that the previous description of the Energy armor forgot to mention is that while wearing this you are essentially wearing reactive armor. The suit is covered by a layer of high explosive material that makes any projectile hitting you explode instead of injuring the wearer. It doesn’t say anything about the explosion hurting you though, or what it might actually do to you. I wonder if if you keep shooting anyone who wears this they’ll essentially be stunlocked, or just concussed to hell and back as their body is covered with explosions. They’re only used by heavy SWOT teams so probably not something you’re going to encounter all that often, if ever.

Moving over to vehicles once more, turns out that motorcycles do exist in 2089. They’re rare but very handy to avoid the mile length queues that happen during morning or evening rush hour. The risk of accidents in the “wild traffic” is considered a minus. Which is strange when previously all cars are generally controlled by the magnet paths and they ensure all cars keep a safe distance and crashes are impossible except when turning off or changing lanes. That part is also considered a minus for the bikes. Does this mean that most car drivers give absolutely no fucks about the magnet path in general and just drive like how they feel? Doesn’t say. There are however plenty of street gangs that live for, on and with their bikes. Considering there’s psi-mutants you could pretty much run an Akira campaign. Although that came out two years after this in the West, so it’s not like it served as any inspiration.

Apparently helicopters in 2089 are weak to rocket launchers, grenade launchers and cannons. Who knew. Apparently there are also cannons but for once it’s actually something that isn’t included in the rules.

Antigrav vehicles are usually only used these days for heavy transports between the City and the external factories. While they lack no armament of their own they’re equipped with up to 20 firing ports for pulse lasers and are built to wither a lot of damage. Even more resilient is the vehicle’s fusion reaction that can resist up to ten times as much damage as the hull. If that explodes then a 2 mile wide radioactive zone with a strength of 25 is created. This dissipates with 1 point per month and after 2 years the radiation is gone. Which I suppose is handy to know?

Also going by the description in this section the “Air paths” are pretty much Maglev monorails (monorail!).
Then we get a bunch of information about standard vehicles I’m not going to bore you with mentioning. But those listings do include KP values for windows and hulls. The Winston AG Stock Freighter I mentioned back in update 16 does turn out to be an antigrav freither. And the Exterminator TechTank is just an armored vehicle. It makes a lot more sense that they’re listed here as example vehicles than in the gear section with a EuroDollar price. Because they’re still not something that the players are meant to buy at any point.

The most common method of energy production within the City is fusion power, thousands of small reactors power areas the size of a block and make sure things work. They’re considered to be essentially proof and since the technology was introduced there've only been two or three accidents and rarely any of those resulted in any deaths directly. Then as mentioned before, plenty of power plants in the Twilight Lands that serve as back up generators or to power the external factories and mines.
Then there’s also energy packets which are used to power various things like cyberware, robotics and such up to 24 hours. Which is not all that great by today’s standards considering we have cell phone batteries that last for a week or more. The standard future estimation trap, best option would’ve been to just not say anything specific. Which they’ve been really good with otherwise. But I guess it’s also because the e-packs are also used as weapon ammunition as well. Or they somehow wanted to put a limit to some cyberware attachments that require e-packs. I mean with how much money you’re dumping into those things you might as well just let them use them without limitations.

So apparently all the oil ran out in Mutant, which necessitated the switch to synthetic gasoline instead. Which makes sense in a way, but at the same time it has been mentioned that oil wells and even refineries are massive objects of power in the Twilight Lands. Which means that there’s still oil left out there. Not to mention the numerous underground oil derricks in the outskirts of the City that were mentioned a couple of updates back. So obviously that implies there’s still oil available to extract. Make up your drat mind game and don’t throw me these various contradictions right at the end of the book. Not to mention none of the cars outside the City are able to run on synthetic gasoline. Just to enforce the various hints that it’s all a Mad Max reference.

We get a short blurb about home terminals that really don’t tell you anything you didn’t learn from the City section. Although I think the number of terminals available in each home went up from two to three or four.
The credit card mentioned in the City section gets expanded upon here and is called the IB-card or just IBC for short. It’s a combo of an ID card and a credit card as it’s used to pay for pretty much everything in the City. Another blurb about the ATM machines, which are apparently designed to be real dicks and loudy announce whenever you’re dangerously low on money on your account. And unless you manage to ID yourself as the card owner using a palm reader the nearest MetroPolis unit will be dispatched to your location after three failed attempts. So don’t try to use them while drunk or you’ll end up tazed.

The IB cards also work as keycards to most security systems in the City, as the clearance levels can be stored inside the card. They’re not idiot proof though as the cards can be tampered with, and they make a weird point that the City’s data system can actually crash as well. This means that there’s still a market for mechanical locks. Beyond that there’s the usual standard selection of alarms you see today. But as long as you’re good with computers and know where the alarm systems and how they’re connected you can still open plenty of doors.

Let’s talk about drugs! In this case, medicine. As mentioned several updates ago you heal 1 KP a day, but there are several different drugs that increase this rate of healing, as apparently hospital stays in Mutant are both uncomfortable and very expensive. Not to mention incredibly loving boring based on my own experiences.
The medicine needs to be injected and one method described, as used by SWOT, is to use an autoinjector. And then they throw a rule out of nowhere that says you need to succeed a normal MST check after using an autoinjector to avoid going unconscious for 1d100 minutes. One, don’t add rules in the fluff section. That is lovely game design. Two, why do you have to roll this? Because none of the subsequences medicines listed have any mention of “Oh yeah, your body goes into overdrive when injected and you may pass out as an effect.” There’s zero mentions of that to be found. It’s as if stimpacks in Fallout would randomly have a chance to knock you on your rear end whenever you used one. There’s gently caress all reason why that rule is there and should just be defenestrated. And once more; don’t add rules in the loving fluff section of the game. You had a book specifically for the loving rules.

Regen increases your natural healing and each dose you take increases the rate of healing with the maximum being 1 KP/round after four doses. A minor side effect is that you get incredibly hungry once it has stopped working and for each dosage you took you need to eat two normal dinners to feel good again. For 7,99 ED per dosage that is a pretty good deal. It’s also availability rank B but seeing as there’s no explanation for what that actually means there’s no idea how available it is.

Mendator heals broken bones super quick. One injection between a break will heal it partially in two hours (-25 on all skill checks that use that limb) and you get fully healed after 4 hours. No side effects mentioned. It’s 12,99 ED per dose and another solid choice if you can get it. But it’s availability BX and prescription based for some reason. You’d think any ambulance would be packed full with this and regen considering how good it is.

Salinisyl is Mutant’s answer to RadX. Or a bottle of Vodka from Stalker. It prevents and alleviates the effects of radiation and each dose lasts for 24 hours. Rules wise it means that your FYS when resisting radiation is increased by 15. But when the drug stops working you have halved resistance for 24 hours and a second injection doesn’t help. 50 ED a dose and BX availability. Still a must have if you’re heading into the Zones.

Resistasyl counteracts most known gases and poisons. One injection lasts 2d10+10 minutes and gives you +50 for all resistance chances against them. If you’re already been poisoned then the effect or duration is halved. Costs you 39,99 a dose but also prescription based and BX availability.

Verikyl is a… truth serum. Yeah, they have rules for those for some reason. It has a strength value of 10 and if you fail the resist check then you get automatically friendly with however injected you, and you’ll answer any questions willingly. It lasts 2d10 minutes and once that time is up you fall asleep for 1d4 hours and wake up without any side effects.
But wait, there’s something even worse! Because this game also has rules for an obedience drug. It’s obviously called Obident, because what else would something like that be called, and has a strength of 15 and lasts an hour. During which the victim will obey any order and commands they are given, with the exception of those who might obviously hurt them.
But wait, there’s more! Then there’s also Dormazol which is a strength 20 barbitone that is completely taste, odor and colourless which makes you fall asleep for 2d6 hours if you fail the resist check.
So not only do we get truth serum and an obedience drug we also get a date rape drug. It’s a “GM loving with players” hattrick!
Yeah no, this is all trash and should be ignored post haste. All of these just reek of giving the GM an opportunity to actively gently caress with players in some way, or just be really loving creepy about things. This is frankly stuff that should be done narratively if it really, really has to do and not be stratified with rules. The only one even listed in the gear tables is Dormazol, while the others aren’t. Which makes their presence here an even bigger warning sign that it’s mainly for GM’s to use on players. Ugh, moving on.

Enduran is perhaps the most common drug used in Mutant because it simply makes you go on for longer. Each dosage replaces four hours of sleep and if you take one a day that means you can live on four hours of normal, uninterrupted sleep. The downside is that Enduran is highly addictive and after FYS number of months the body starts building a resistance to it. Which means that you’re still dependent on the drug despite it not working. In order to clear the addiction you need 12 hours of sleep per day which requires either a successful critical MST check or an intervention. Would you still be affected by the nonsensical “Go unconscious when using an autoinjector” rule if you use a drug that keeps you awake?

Combatin is the only combat drug mentioned in this book. It’s been banned ever since the Catastrophe Wars ended almost 15 years ago but obviously that ban hasn’t gone anywhere if it’s mentioned here. Each dosage increases your perception with +25, your MST with +5 and all combat skills with +10 and lasts for 4 hours. But each time you use it you have a 1% chance to be addicted to the drug. No mention what is actually rolled to determine this. It’s just a 1% chance every time you use it. And to get rid of the addiction you need a successful critical MST check or an intervention being staged on you.

I should mention I’m not really sure what a “Critical MST-kontrol” is. It’s not a term I’ve seen until now. I translated it as “Critical MST check” because that is what I assume it means, you need to perfect a MST check to clear off the addiction like the badass hero you’re supposed to be. But I could be wrong obviously.

We get a section about Cyberware that more or less repeats what the section in the rule book said about it. Only thing not mentioned there is that non-cosmetic cyberware surgery takes 1d4 weeks. In comparison to a cybernetic cyberware operation that takes no longer than going to the hairdresser. Which seems like a bit of a gross generalization. Especially considering we’re dealing with ripping out eyeballs or chopping off limbs. Also apparently a cyberware arm in Mutant isn’t more durable than a normal arm. That seems dubious but okay, I guess.

The following section about Robots is pretty much just repeating the information mentioned in the Character race section about them. The last couple of pages feel very much like pointless filler fluff that has already been mentioned elsewhere with minor additions. In this case it’s that there are specially made robots beyond the Calvin Standard Droid that the player robots are meant to be. But the difference is that they’re not mass produced and are often unique works of arts made by one person and have a myriad of functions. But my question is; why wasn’t this included in the description for playable robots? Why wait until the very end of the World book to include that mention? Because that sentence is just filled with character background ideas that you can use instead of just giving the impression you’re a mass produced model that suddenly became masterless. Instead we got a bunch of fluff on those that could have easily been relegated to this part. As a result a bunch of character inspiration is just tucked away in a dark corner.

Right at the end, after several pages of commercials for Mutant Chronicles for the reprinted book I’ve been going off, we have a small dictionary. This replaces a chapter about converting rules and stats from the previous two editions of Mutant into this one. One oversight is that the index at the end includes a mention of it. The dictionary features a lot of slang terms that never showed up in the books itself. It feels a bit of a last moment addition because of that reason, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that they’re very flavourful. Also, very much like Shadowrun’s dictionary, it has plenty of japanese words scattered through it. But also some arabic scattered throughout as well. It’s also until the very end it’s explained that the Maridd blocks mentioned in the Mutant (race) description is derogatory slang for Mutant quarters, as apparently the word Maridd means sick in arabic according to this.

But that’s the last part of the Mutant 2089 World book. I’ll save any closing thoughts for the final update because first there’s the premade adventure that came with the box, which for some reason came included in the middle of the World book pdf, to go through before we wrap up.

Next time: SYPOX

Cooked Auto fucked around with this message at 09:31 on Jun 19, 2020

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Something crucial to Troika! fluff is that a lot of it references the Book of the New Sun, which is one of the best works of science fantasy ever written and just plain one of the best works of 20th Century imaginative fiction, and it’s nice to see.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Joe Slowboat posted:

Something crucial to Troika! fluff is that a lot of it references the Book of the New Sun, which is one of the best works of science fantasy ever written and just plain one of the best works of 20th Century imaginative fiction, and it’s nice to see.

The party for my game last night was a straightwoman legal duelist who deeply believes in the concept of law as a way to defend the weak (with her flashing rapier), a cheerfully seen it all before horrible mutant sailor (who no-one treats as weird, because the spheres are all weird) with a plasma rifle and tales of the stars, a down on his luck monkey-monger and his precious, final remaining monkey Estevan, a Befouler of Ponds who is probably a collection of swamp animals but nobody is sure and who speaks entirely in swamp and pond based metaphor, and The Rhinoman, a well-intentioned and enormous rhinoman, who has grown unfulfilled with selling his tiny spear and undersized helmet to the highest bidder and seeks a new cause.

Together they sought to stop an outbreak of feral tower wizards and prevent them from bringing into being a new and even worse kind of wizard: The Van Wizard. Like a tower wizard, but rather than menacing one neighborhood and disgracing magic in a limited area, the Panel Van would allow this wizard to travel all over and make a nuisance of themselves.

It was great fun to write! Until the mechanics came up in any way.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




That sounds magical in the best way.

You gotta nip that Van Wizard before it spreads.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013




This seems to be the fatal flaw of most OSR games, to me: interesting fluff let down by dire mechanics and/or inherent character disposability. Even stuff like Kevin Crawford's Stars Without Number, which is a well-done book, is so ridiculously lethal it's hard to imagine how you could keep any sort of campaign going without a steady stream of replacement characters. I've been wanting to try Godbound, but I'm worried the same problem exists there.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Night10194 posted:

The party for my game last night was a straightwoman legal duelist who deeply believes in the concept of law as a way to defend the weak (with her flashing rapier), a cheerfully seen it all before horrible mutant sailor (who no-one treats as weird, because the spheres are all weird) with a plasma rifle and tales of the stars, a down on his luck monkey-monger and his precious, final remaining monkey Estevan, a Befouler of Ponds who is probably a collection of swamp animals but nobody is sure and who speaks entirely in swamp and pond based metaphor, and The Rhinoman, a well-intentioned and enormous rhinoman, who has grown unfulfilled with selling his tiny spear and undersized helmet to the highest bidder and seeks a new cause.

Together they sought to stop an outbreak of feral tower wizards and prevent them from bringing into being a new and even worse kind of wizard: The Van Wizard. Like a tower wizard, but rather than menacing one neighborhood and disgracing magic in a limited area, the Panel Van would allow this wizard to travel all over and make a nuisance of themselves.

It was great fun to write! Until the mechanics came up in any way.

I hugely agree, the picaresque Troika! stuff is so good, and the system is so blah.

I feel I should plug my attempt to make a less clunky, less combat-focused Troika! hack. It's a work in progress, but the basic chances of success/dice rules are meant to be a little bit less combat-focused, and I'd like to continue to developing it in that direction with GM advice on how to build a picaresque around the prompts the system generates. If you have time, I'd be interested in your thoughts on whether this does anything to improve on the situation?

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VFiSuBecMEBy_G-miGlL818fdUi1oYlXoYcSlNrLYhQ/edit?usp=sharing

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I don't think this will actually help because the better choice is to not bother trying to stick to the game's initial mechanical frameworks at all, just throw them out, and start from scratch on the principle of 'light design, whimsical game, probably significantly less death'. I think Troika! is best served by just throwing out the work that exists and beginning anew rather than trying to follow any of the deeply flawed existing contours.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Joe Slowboat posted:

I hugely agree, the picaresque Troika! stuff is so good, and the system is so blah.

The adventure in the back is really something. It's a ton of really whimsical encounters, all of which are insanely deadly to any player character that ever interacts with the mechanics, with the explicit DM advice that it's supposed to be a horrible meat grinder for these PCs to make it from the front door of their hotel to the cocktail party on the roof.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Tsilkani posted:

This seems to be the fatal flaw of most OSR games, to me: interesting fluff let down by dire mechanics and/or inherent character disposability. Even stuff like Kevin Crawford's Stars Without Number, which is a well-done book, is so ridiculously lethal it's hard to imagine how you could keep any sort of campaign going without a steady stream of replacement characters. I've been wanting to try Godbound, but I'm worried the same problem exists there.

The campaign is kept going by the fact that you don't do loads of fights so people don't die all the time. Fighting kills you, so don't fight unless you have to or it is extremely in your favour or you have a Biopsion or whatever. The combat is lethal because you're not meant to be solving all your problems with fighting. Stars Without Number not Fights Without Number, go explore and talk to people and use all the skills that aren't fighting. The book is very upfront with fighting being deadly and it should be rare.

Godbound is his Exalted one and that's about being nigh-invincible demigods so that doesn't have the same issue because your basic attack is like "oh yeah and you kill an extra 12 dudes with every roll"

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Joe Slowboat posted:

Something crucial to Troika! fluff is that a lot of it references the Book of the New Sun, which is one of the best works of science fantasy ever written and just plain one of the best works of 20th Century imaginative fiction, and it’s nice to see.

Welp, I've got something to add to my reading list. Thanks!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



EthanSteele posted:

The campaign is kept going by the fact that you don't do loads of fights so people don't die all the time. Fighting kills you, so don't fight unless you have to or it is extremely in your favour or you have a Biopsion or whatever. The combat is lethal because you're not meant to be solving all your problems with fighting. Stars Without Number not Fights Without Number, go explore and talk to people and use all the skills that aren't fighting. The book is very upfront with fighting being deadly and it should be rare.

Godbound is his Exalted one and that's about being nigh-invincible demigods so that doesn't have the same issue because your basic attack is like "oh yeah and you kill an extra 12 dudes with every roll"

this would be simpler and easier to do if combat wasn't still the focus of the rules in terms of length and detail.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also, I think it's usually better to use very simple dice with easy to calculate probabilities if you're going very light, then fill in with metacurrency and such to deal with the issues of a d20 having a predictable 'every +1 is 5%' scaling. I'd also just toss out anything to do with matrices; flipping back to them takes time and it's not something I associate with going light, and Troika! should probably still be very light.

Mors Rattus posted:

this would be simpler and easier to do if combat wasn't still the focus of the rules in terms of length and detail.

Herein is the issue of many a system with lethal combat.

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



If you have lethal combat but make all the rules about combat and the game isn't otherwise setup to be a narrative game you've hosed up as a designer if your intentions aren't to basically murder the party a bunch.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013



Yeah, if you want noncombat to be the focus, make detailed noncombat systems. Stop having an entire chapter about combat while everything else boils down to 'roll a die, pass/fail' and then trying to sell the game as having a heavy diplomatic or exploration focus.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Night10194 posted:

I don't think this will actually help because the better choice is to not bother trying to stick to the game's initial mechanical frameworks at all, just throw them out, and start from scratch on the principle of 'light design, whimsical game, probably significantly less death'. I think Troika! is best served by just throwing out the work that exists and beginning anew rather than trying to follow any of the deeply flawed existing contours.

I think that 'you pull a random piece of really evocative writing with some weird skills on it' is worth maintaining compatibility with, and while I agree that the Fighting Fantasy system is pretty blah, I would really like a system that can make the Troika! backgrounds functional and fun with what they have because they're really good backgrounds.

Now, maybe the solution is to completely excise the mechanical side of that, but I don't think the basic 'you have some skills which you often fail at' approach is anything like as bad without the degree of lethality built into the game at present.

I do actually like the matrices, though they are a bit slow; they create a feel of intense particularity. The trick is just that they need to have more options than just 'does damage' such that they produce more amusing chaos.

(I see Troika! as something where the primary mechanics are about the stuff you're carrying or your weird background traits, and the main play loop is about staying solvent financially, with a slightly engaged combat system. Probably needs more engaging resource systems as well, more haggling and such.)

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 17:01 on Jun 18, 2020

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


There's nothing stopping you coming up with a new mechanical framework that can, and should, incorporate the Rhinoman, the Fellow of the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks, etc. It doesn't need to use the terms laid down in the book (which barely has any mechanics as it exists anyway, just the ones it has are bad) to still come up with a way to be a weird fantasy setting based around your fun and silly backgrounds.

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!


Since someone else is picking up Lancer, does anyone have any good suggestions for stuff to review? Just God, please, don't say more Dragonlance.

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Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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



The Inner Planes: Para-Elemental (Smoke, Magma, Ooze, Ice) and Energy (Positive and Negative)

These planes sit along what passes for borders between the elemental planes; unlike the main ones, these planes are defined by the gradual transition between their neighbors instead of having their own identity. Despite being infinite. The book still doesn’t explain how this can work…

PurpleXVI posted:

If I remember right, the 2e AD&D explanation for the planes being both infinite and having borders is that they have four spatial dimensions(which also accounts for elementals being pissy and not very smart on the Prime Material, you've just taken away a quarter of their spatial orientation and they're extremely confused), only three of which most Prime Material visitors can perceive, and in those three dimensions, the Inner Planes are infinite. Meanwhile a local guide can see and travel in the fourth spatial dimension and thus help Primes get to the border locations or the next plane over.
… But that sounds about right. You don’t get summoners fishing for servants or native powers here; too marginal and obscure for anything to set up shop except for the surly and standoffish elementals in the area. Even other planes barely touch on them; while the elemental planes get pockets from every plane except the Positive and Negative, they only get pockets from either neighbor. Basically, unless you want to visit a local elemental or something, there’s no reason to come here unless going somewhere else.

  • Smoke covers the transition between Fire and Air; the atmosphere is always thick and unpleasant, dissolving into pleasant fog near Air and catching fire near, well, Fire. Crossing through it takes long enough that temporary effects to assist breathing become impractical; you need :smugwizard: removing your need to breathe.
  • Magma separates Fire and Earth, thickening from a gas to lava and cooling into a solid mass as you travel from the former to the latter. Naturally, you need :smugwizard: assistance to survive the transition between pressure and heat.
  • Ooze is basically the plane of mud; it starts as a dampness in the stone of Earth, travels through quicksand in the middle, and turns into silt before heading Water. Though you can use :smugwizard: here, ordinary water breathing equipment works throughout the plane like it would in Water.
  • Ice starts as scattered icebergs in Water, solidifies into sheets (with occasional cracks), then just ends abruptly as a wall of ice next to Air. Between the cold damage and need to travel through solid ice, :smugwizard: is absolutely essential.

Wow isn’t that exciting!!! There just isn’t much to talk about here, just rule clarifications.


A sample encounter chart included to fill space and break up the text.

The Positive and Negative Energy Planes are by far the most dangerous of the inner planes; not even the :smugwizard:est of :smugwizard: can help you here. As the embodied realms of life and death, they both alter your HP just by being there; in the Positive, you gain HP every round until you hit a certain point and explode, and in the Negative view lose HP every round until you die and wither into dust. There are a few bizarre creatures that live here, but they are too alien to strike any kind of deal with. They don’t even have encounter charts. Like… don’t go here. These planes sound interesting in concept, but there’s nothing to do there.

All right, two shorter sections mashed together. Next time we examine the Quasi-elemental planes, where we find out that reality views gemstones as a fundamental good.

:smugwizard: Counter: 12

PurpleXVI posted:

Since someone else is picking up Lancer, does anyone have any good suggestions for stuff to review? Just God, please, don't say more Dragonlance.

Mystara :colbert:

Actually, has Spelljammer ever gotten a writeup? It is the other way you get between AD&D settings :v:

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