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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Cities of Sigmar
Giant Machinery Will Save Us



The Dispossessed are what remains of the mighty Khazalid empires of the Age of Myth. These duardin clans were worshippers of the ancestor gods (most notably Grungni) and renowned for their skill in architecture, masonry and smithing. They built beautiful underground cities laden with gems and gromril. However, their fortresses were unable to stand against the outpouring of wrath in the Age of Chaos, and they fell to the daemonic hordes. All but a few of the ancient empires were lost, and what few survived and did not fundamentally transform themselves as the Kharadron did were only able to do so by abandoning their old lands and following their Warden Kings to safety. Many of them sought refuge in Azyr, under the protection of Sigmar. They call themselves the Dispossessed in honor of what was lost, and that loss has become a cultural obsession, but the Dispossessed have rejected despair and apathy. They have maintained the old ways, the mastery of the forge and the runes that built the empires of old. Since Sigmar reopened the realmgates of Azyr, they have been a key part of the reconquest of the Mortal Realms.

Whenever a new Free City is built, it is the Dispossessed who design its defenses. They are the ones who lay out the fortifications, following the patterns laid down centuries ago, kept strong by constant practice and theorizing. They lead the construction, laying out the rune-carved stones that form the core of each city's defensive bastion. While they excel at this, their work is not only in defense, either. When the Free Cities must take an enemy position and cannot do so by standard siege or battle, such as when Skaven have infiltrated a cave system or warren that cannot be properly blocked up or grots are found in the depths under a city, the Dispossessed come forth once more. They are masters of tunnel fighting and siege engineering, as able to bring down walls and mines as they are to set them up. The Dispossessed train all of their youths in the ways of fighting with axe and hammer, and the Ironbreakers and Hammerers of the duardin clans go into battle in armor of gromril, which can defend against even magically enhanced blows.

The veterans of war among the clans have often been fighting and working for centuries. Their beards grow white with age, but their muscles never falter. As a duardin gets older, they tend to get tougher, their muscles hardening and their skill growing. These are the Longbeards, famous for their martial skill and their insistence that everything was better when they were young. Some of the veterans instead take up the flame cannon and join the Irondrakes, burning out foes with ease. Their leaders are the ancient Warden Kings, who are among the eldest living duardin. They have seen much in their long years, and it takes a lot to surprise or impress them. Their hammers are ancestral weapons, carved with powerful runes that grant terrible strength, and in battle, a Warden King can hold their own against even an Orruk warboss or daemonic champion. They are fighting kings, working kings - the Dispossessed have little use for anyone who will not labor to recover what was lost. They are aided in this by the lorekeepers of the clans, the Runelords who call on the runes and the ancestor gods to weaken and dispel magic.



Some more modern and less traditional duardin have formed a conglomerate with human weaponsmiths and engineers - the Ironweld Arsenal. These humans and duardin haven't abandoned their cultures or traditions, but they are united by a shared love of machinery, science and progress. They are responsible for some of the strangest and deadliest weapons ever made, built in their cog-powered factories. They have made mechanical walking guns, steam-powered artillery trains and high-speed repeating cannons, among other things. The Cogsmiths are in charge of most of these tools, and many of them are accomplished inventors. Each one is expected not only to be good with machines, but good with them under fire, as they must serve as combat engineers for the war engines of the Arsenal, fixing them mid-battle and keeping them firing smoothly. Most carry heavy shotguns to defend themselves as they do so.

The Ironweld are particularly fond of artillery pieces, which give a maximum of bang for a minimum of danger. Most Cogsmiths have a healthy respect for the many dangers of the Mortal Realms and the enemies they face, and prefer to remain at a distance in battle, after all. The Helblaster Volley Gun is one of their great triumphs, a multi-barrel blackpowder repeating gun that can unleash staggering amounts of lead in a very, very short time. They are usually used to break charges, often in conjunction with a Helstorm Rocket Battery. These fire explosive missiles over long distances, functioning equally well to harry and tear apart enemy formations or to smash open fortress walls. Both are designed to keep the crew at minimum risk of return fire by taking advantage of increased range and, in the cast of the rocket battery, indirect fire. However, the Ironweld do recognize that long-range firepower is not sufficient to win all battles - it can't take or hold points, for example, and can be limited by terrain.

To solve this problem, the Ironweld also maintain a large fleet of Gyrocopters and Gyrobombers. These are clockwork-and-steam aircraft with minimal crew requirements, flying at high speed over the enemy's forces. The bombers are, well, bombers - they drop bombs on the enemy. Most Gyrocopters are instead armed with flamethrowers and ingenious valves that vent superheated steam at the enemy and prevent pressure in the machinery from building to dangerous levels. And yet, even these are not the most impressive machines of the Ironweld. For practical deployment purposes, that honor must go to the Steam Tank. These are made by mixing duardin and human innovations into a single vehicle, a smoking, rattling mobile bunker. Its machinery can be deafening, but not nearly as much as its heavy cannons. The hull is thick enough to withstand most assaults, and the treads are strong enough to keep going even if the tank has to run over large numbers of enemy troops. The engine can be put into overpressure to increase speed or to boost the power of the pneumatic cannons, but a tank commander always has to keep in mind the risk when doing so - overheating and catastrophic explosion are possible if you're unlucky.



The Darkling Covens originally hailed from the aelven empires of Ulgu. However, when the Dark Gods invaded, many of their lands fell before the onslaught, and the sorceress and witch-queens that led them were forced to become refugees, fleeing to Azyrheim. Even among the people of Azyr, they tended to remain apart from their fellows. The Ulguan aelves were naturally insular and prone to keeping secrets due to the magical influence of their old home, and they were not particularly willing to share those secrets with the aelven mage councils or the CollegiatE Arcane. Instead, they formed a large web of cults and hidden orders. That is what has become called the Darkling Covens, and each coven tends to operate based on its own unique belief system, but they're not really all that different from each other outside of specific details and rituals. They learned to avoid the attention of the Witch Hunters and the Shadowblades of Sigmar, hiding the less savory of their sorcerous rituals behind layers of illusion and misdirection. The sorceresses excel at bewitching enchantments and gathering secrets, and many are owed favors from people across all parts of society. Their spy networks are some of the best in the Mortal Realms, and they're very good at getting people to do what they want, either by persuasion, blackmail or enchantment.

Some of the Darkling Covens have been happy to join Sigmar's battle against Chaos, while others merely pay lip service to it, but they have all been trying to expand outward with the Free Cities, gathering new converts to their private cults and new agents to their networks. Even the most generous of covens rarely acts without some specific goal or benefit in mind, though. They usually seek to reclaim lost treasures of the aelves from the Age of Myth, the elimination of threats to tehir membership or the earning of favors from potential allies. Several covens have found good allies among the Idoneth Deepkin, providing them with shipments of souls in exchange for promises of future favors. Each Coven is ruled by a single Sorceress, though she often has several lieutenants who are studying and serving under her. Sorceresses are generally deeply ambitious, calculating and cautious aelves with relatively little in the way of empathy. They prefer not to take the field personally most of the time, but when they do, their expertise in shadow magic proves quite powerful. They are even able to invoke lost and ancient words of pain, ancient spells that cause terrible agony in those who hear them. They are able to further empower their magic by ritually killing their own servants if required. Many also maintain allies among the Order Serpentis, which dates back to the aelven nations of the Age of Myth. The Sorceresses of those lands helped the Order in the breeding of the first Black Dragons, and in recognition of that and various favor trading since, some Sorceresses are given dragons of their own, to ride into battle.

The warriors of a Coven are typically enchanted by their leaders to remove all fear. This magical control ensures they will not hesitate to die in order to serve their mistresses. The core of such units are the Dreadspears, a defensive unit of lancers that stand to receive enemy charges, working in tight and organized phalanxes. While the Dreadspears catch and hold the enemy in place, the Bleakswords come in to flank. They are master duelists that wield traditional Darkling blades at high speed, hooking past shields and finding vulnerabilities in armor. The Bleakswords are often more ambitious than the Darkspears, seeking the favor of their mistresses with ever more daring an dangerous assaults. Few actually receive the recognition they so crave, however. Behind both stand the Darkshards, armed with repeater crossbows. They send a hail of bolts down at the enemy, and while they're not bad shots, they focus on speed over accuracy. Enough barbed iron in the air means accuracy is less relevant, and the barbs make it very hard to remove the bolts without further damage.

The most skilled warriors are chosen for the Black Guard, bodyguard units for the Sorceresses. Unlike the lesser soldiers, Black Guard champions are rarely controlled through mental sorcery. Their loyalty is earned over time by conditioning, and they are given more autonomy than most Darkling soldiers so that they can anticipate dangers and react to them even if their Sorceress is unaware. Those aelves that wish to become Black Guard usually begin training in childhood, and the training is very harsh. Constant martial drills and occasional gladitorial combat against captive monsters or enemies are both expected. Few of those that volunteer for the training make it to the end, and the lethality makes it a rather inefficient program, but those that come out of it are masters of ancient aelven martial arts and given the best weapons and armor available to the Coven. They wield shadowsteel halberds, light as a feather but stronger than normal steel, allowing them to be used both one- and two-handed. They are graceful and deadly weapons, and the right to wield one is highly prized. Membership in the Black Guard is proof of a Sorceress' trust. They are expected to be ready to give up their lives for their mistress, but the rewards are commensurate to the dangers they face. When not in battle, the Black Guard are given every luxury, and the male lieutenants of a Sorceress are typically chosen from among the elders of the Black Guard. These castellans, spymasters and envoys are given wide power within their Coven's political structure.

The most mysterious of the Darkling forces, however, are the Executioners. These warriors march into battle in skull masks, each wielding a draich, an ancient two-handed blade of the Darkling aelves. What is known about them is that they are utterly dedicated to the art of killing. That's...it. They kill with grace and without mercy, aiming for the neck with their blades. Some believe they are worshippers of Khaine, the Lord of Murder, but the Executioners do not ever speak of their faith. Few of them speak at all, and fewer still to outsiders. Not even the Sorceresses seem to be fully able to control the Executioners, and they are considered deeply unnerving by their fellow Darklings. In battle, the Executioners become joyful, laughing behind their masks as they chop off body parts from their foes. When not fighting, they live monastically in towers and fortresses in the wilderness, rather than in the Free Cities proper. Only Executioners and captives are allowed within these strongholds, but passers-by have reported the echoing sounds of screams from within. No one is entirely clear why the Executioners are willing to fight for the Covens, and they certainly don't appear to be bound by the magic of the Sorceresses. Some theorize that the Sorceresses offer sacrifices for the rituals of the Executioners, while others say that in truth, all Executioners are hybrids of aelf and Shadowkin, produced by dark experimentation by the Covens. They believe that these hybrids exist in a state of constant pain due to their half-shadow nature and can only alleviate that pain by the act of killing. Whether this is true or not, certainly the Executioners love to kill and are very good at it.

Next time: The Scourge Privateers, the Shadowblades and the Phoenix Temple

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Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


Oh good, my lads survived!

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


JcDent posted:

OK, Imma gonna ask a thing: what is an example of a good elfgame? Like, where martials don't snooze after their one attack, where exploration and social are actually pillar shaped, where caster supremacy isn't a thing? Does The Good Elfgame even exist?

Depends on what exactly you're after mechanically.

Take B/X D&D for example: it's all about exploring dangerous environments. It doesn't really have exploration or social mechanics beyond random encounter checks to make the environment feel more lived in and reaction rolls to determine first impressions, because it is assumed that the GM will simply make a fair ruling on anything where random chance isn't a factor, while the combat mechanics are abstracted out because combat is supposed to be just another kind of obstacle. Magic is primarily a tool for problem solving - sure, sleep will end a typical combat encounter in a single turn, but having access to it means you don't have access to things like detect magic or read languages. Later on, fireball is basically the nuclear option, but having it means you don't have access to things like dispel magic or group invisibility.

At higher levels, a mage is more powerful individually than anybody else, but will still only have 20-30 hp, meaning they can be easily killed if taken by surprise - a squad of 10 level 1 fighters could kill them in a single round of combat, assuming fairly average rolls. Fighters, meanwhile, will typically have a castle and an army at this point, and can influence the world as potentially powerful political figures. Thieves will typically be at the head of a thieves guild by this point as well, and wield the kind of power that fighters and mages can't. Again, people aren't typically rolling dice for the political influence; it is assumed that the GM will decide what the NPCs do based on what is reasonable for them to do in the situation. Gaining levels is based primarily on treasure acquired while adventuring, meaning that you are rewarded for picking your fights carefully, negotiating with dungeon denizens, and finding hidden loot over simply trying to murder everything you see (particularly given how fragile characters are in old school D&D).

Alternatively, we have games that don't use classes and where hp doesn't go up with experience. In Mythras, it's up to the GM how common folk magic is (low level healing and utility magic) - it's entirely possible that everybody knows at least a little bit of it, or maybe only a small number of people might start with it, but anybody can learn it if they want to. Divine casters and sorcerers get more powerful magic, but are still just as vulnerable to a crossbow bolt to the back as anyone else, and their magic remains primarily at the personal scale (no creating demiplanes, for instance). Magic in Mythras is a skill as well; therefore, while someone can certainly cast Knock to unlock a mundane lock (though if it has multiple locks, it must be cast multiple times), this costs one magic point per casting, and each casting must be rolled for, whereas a skilled thief could just pick the locks without needing to expend resources. It's worth noting that an average PC will have 11 magic points, which typically recover at a rate of 1 per day (1 per hour in a particularly magic rich setting, or 1 per week in low magic settings).

Mythras isn't really designed to be a game about exploration primarily; your character has a home and a family (generated at character creation), and typically has commitments. You have skills related exploration and social interactions, but they aren't given as much mechanical depth as combat. On the other hand, characters improve by accomplishing their goals, and get better at individual skills (either through experience or else by paying someone for training). Combat, while more detailed mechanically, is definitely not the only (or even primary) means of solving problems. A typical PC can be taken out of combat in a single hit quite easily, regardless of how experienced they are. Skill merely makes them better at not getting hit.

OtspIII
Sep 22, 2002



hectorgrey posted:

Depends on what exactly you're after mechanically.

Yeah, if you're looking for a dnd-like in terms of "rpg in a fantasy setting with a focus on tactical combat and a massive set of chargen customizability (but good)" it's hard to find something that hits all three, but there's tons of stuff that hit 2/3.

To list a few I haven't seen in this thread (although I only started following it reliably a few months ago, so it's very likely some of these have been written up and I just didn't see)

Lancer is the big hot thing in tactical combat games right now, but it's a scifi setting with weird reality-breaking mech-suits.

Quest was touted as a possible D&D-killer a few months ago, and is all built around being easy to learn/optimized for streaming.

Goblin Laws of Gaming is an enormous stone soup of a fantasy RPG system (there have to be over a thousand classes at this point, with multiclassing as a default) that tends towards the high weird while staying pretty rules-light.

IshmaelZarkov
Jun 20, 2013



JcDent posted:

OK, Imma gonna ask a thing: what is an example of a good elfgame? Like, where martials don't snooze after their one attack, where exploration and social are actually pillar shaped, where caster supremacy isn't a thing? Does The Good Elfgame even exist?

WFRP has a Halfling Pie Mafia.

That is the start, middle, and end of my argument. I trust you will find it watertight.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


I do like WHFRP. Honestly all of the Cubicle 7 Warhammer games are good.

sasha_d3ath
Jun 3, 2016

Ban-thing the man-things.

JcDent posted:

Does The Good Elfgame even exist?

grimDARK B]

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Spire is literally an ELF game and is good.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Night10194 posted:

Spire is literally an ELF game and is good.

To follow up on this, Heart is a game about exploration and danger that is in many ways similar to older DnD games where your character was expected to raise kingdoms, die young, and do wizard stuff. There are also a couple of expansions, one for a magical city in another dimension and another for being a combat-heavy hit squad that carries out commando raids on high elf strongholds by using an abandoned interdimensional subway system. It doesn't mesh well with Spire, but the devs did make a conversion kit in the book about being that hit squad. It's okay, not great, the one thing I really wanted was the the advancement system ported over to Spire, but that's not a simple cut.

edit: actually has anyone reviewed the expansions for Heart? Because I have some free time two weeks from now and wouldn't mind doing it. They're only like thirty some pages each.

zerofiend
Dec 23, 2006
yar







Heart is dope and is my favorite game these days.

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



I hated it with a passion GMing it in the playtest, but from what I saw of the release (one of our players backed it) it's really turned around and improved.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


SkyeAuroline posted:

I hated it with a passion GMing it in the playtest, but from what I saw of the release (one of our players backed it) it's really turned around and improved.

Out of curiosity what didn't you like about it? I'll be sure to pay attention to any concerns.

So, here's the thing, I've never actually run it or played it and the only reason I know about Heart is because of this thread. So, that's a thing and ordinarily I wouldn't volunteer to review something like that, but the system is easy and three books are like a total of one hundred pages of mostly fluff so I feel like my lack of experience isn't an issue (and it's not like I'll be the first person to review a game with no experience in it). But I've been reading Heart and all three of the supplements and I've also completely read Spire and its supplements so at least I have some idea of what's going on. Plus, the system is like, stupid easy once you see how it works. If anything the systems might be too simple, but I appreciate that you can resolve a whole delve in one session and players are supposed to be part of the creative process. I might pick up Unbound tonight, another Rowan, Rook & Deckard game to read that too.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Mors Rattus posted:

The Bleakswords are often more ambitious than the Darkspears, seeking the favor of their mistresses with ever more daring an dangerous assaults. Few actually receive the recognition they so crave, however.

Simpling Covens :allears:


:shrug:

MonsterEnvy posted:

I do like WHFRP. Honestly all of the Cubicle 7 Warhammer games are good.

Doesn't it run into the martial problem face-first? I know magic was always fun in it (MISCASTS!), but fighters don't seem to have much going besides "hit, hit, hit"?


Night10194 posted:

Spire is literally an ELF game and is good.

Well, yes, but it's on the storygame side of things, and very far from the the "DnD as it imagines itself to be" side of things.

hectorgrey posted:

Take B/X D&D for example:

Isn't that one from the days where thieves sucked at thief stuff et al?


OtspIII posted:

Quest was touted as a possible D&D-killer a few months ago, and is all built around being easy to learn/optimized for streaming.

Goblin Laws of Gaming is an enormous stone soup of a fantasy RPG system (there have to be over a thousand classes at this point, with multiclassing as a default) that tends towards the high weird while staying pretty rules-light.

See, now that is the good stuff, even though I care about multiclassing and a poo poo-ton of classes the least.

Having looked at the SotDL FnF, I'm glad to see that fighters- well, everyone- actually get all sorts of maneuvers at the drop of the hat, which is great.

What about Torchbearer and Strike?

I wanted to look into Ironclaw 2e as well, but, man, Night, you should really reconsider your hate of illustrations :D

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



MonsterEnvy posted:

I do like WHFRP. Honestly all of the Cubicle 7 Warhammer games are good.

WHFRP knows what it wants to do and has mechanics which push towards that goal and intent.

This is honestly such a rare occurrence in game design that it's actually worth mentioning.

And it's why D&D has so many problems IMO - at this point D&D primarily tries to enhance and represent the experience of playing D&D, rather than any sort of fantasy genre fiction.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


MJ12 posted:

WHFRP knows what it wants to do and has mechanics which push towards that goal and intent.

This is honestly such a rare occurrence in game design that it's actually worth mentioning.

And it's why D&D has so many problems IMO - at this point D&D primarily tries to enhance and represent the experience of playing D&D, rather than any sort of fantasy genre fiction.

That's one reason the West End Games Star Wars RPG is my favorite SWRPG. WEG built the mechanics to allow players to do the same kinds of things that occurred in the movies instead of trying to cram Star Wars into a system initially designed to replicate tactical medieval warfare with elves and magic.

It's a simple system and I think it's still the best way to deal with Force-using characters (you take a bit of a hit Attribute-wise to make one and you're probably still not going to get super-great at doing Force stuff anyway, but sometimes it's useful).

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





JcDent posted:


What about Torchbearer and Strike?

Torchbearer is abstracted enough where no one really gets narrative combat-abilities. So a lot of the best "combat spells" are either letting you use your good numbers on an action for once (don't do this, it's a sucker's move) or very minor changes to the math more like a 4e Leader. A magic user's big thing is actually the bullshit utility stuff ; the spell that's legally distinct from Tenser's Floating Disc is probably one of the best in the game. So they spend most of their time in combat huddling and being useless and every once in a while they can carry some loot good or make light or something.

Since everyone is always just deciding what a bunch of dice mean, the fact that Fighters get gently caress tons of dice is more relevant cause there's not like a Trip feat.

OtspIII
Sep 22, 2002



JcDent posted:

Isn't that one from the days where thieves sucked at thief stuff et al?

I'm 100% of the opinion that B/X is the best and most coherently designed edition of D&D, but Thieves really don't work to the point that you should maybe pretend they don't exist.

The best fix I have for them is to treat their Thief Skills as a sort of. . .roll this to auto-succeed instantly/superhumanly, otherwise use the same system anyone would for attempting one of these actions. Even with that, though, they still have wizard HP-scaling and near-wizard armor ratings.

JcDent posted:

What about Torchbearer and Strike?

I don't know Strike well enough to comment on it, but I've played a ton of Torchbearer.

Torchbearer is a weird beast. It's possibly the most system-mastery driven game I've played, where a whooooole lot of the strategy is not intuitive and is about juggling the various game resources (successes and failures, checks, conditions, gear, etc) effectively. It manages to walk this weird line between storygame, elfgame, and boardgame, and pulls it off by being extremely tightly and smartly designed.

It's really good, but it's definitely one that you need to play a few times before it starts to click.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




I just got an email promoting PWYW for what may be a good minimalist system for old school elfgames:

quote:

A 2-page traditional fantasy adventure game based on the original from the 1970s.

nspired by games like OSE, Searchers of the Unknown and Holmes' blue book, Heartseeker has everything you need to play a classic fantasy campaign in just two pages. The game features:

A simple d20 system
Five classes and 9 bloodlines
A simplified Vancian magic system
All the rules needed to run a game
A short monster list
A creative commons license to create your own hacks

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/337182/Heartseeker

I think I'll get it for nostalgia and love of minimalist systems.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


By popular demand posted:

I just got an email promoting PWYW for what may be a good minimalist system for old school elfgames:


I think I'll get it for nostalgia and love of minimalist systems.

I like the Reaction bit where the monsters will even volunteer to help.

"Wait. Why is there a dragon, a skeleton and a basilisk with your group?"

"The cute elf smiled at them so they volunteered to help."

Everyone fucked around with this message at 17:43 on Nov 25, 2020

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




quote:

MONSTER REACTION (1D6)
1. Immediate attack
2-3. Hostile
4. Uncertain
5. Friendly
6. Volunteers to help

that's a very nice and simple roll and I could easily add modifiers like say -1 or -2 if the party just barged in the monster's den.

E: Micro review: Heartseeker
this system could be whipped out in a sudden event of roleplaying emergency and serve as is for beginner adventures, most DM's would start modifying and adding stuff almost immediately but this system could slowly grow with the campaign.

Coming up: combat test

By popular demand fucked around with this message at 11:55 on Nov 25, 2020

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



Ithle01 posted:

Out of curiosity what didn't you like about it? I'll be sure to pay attention to any concerns.

The old system for traveling between "waypoints" (I forget the term the game actually uses) was based around rolling a random number of encounters between two points that *had* to somehow be solved with one and only one dice check, because the progression was based off the results on the single check. Rolled mid-session, too, so you didn't get time to prep anything. The stress system was also way overtuned and stress recovery was essentially unavailable because of its costs, a given character was unlikely to make it much of anywhere without getting destroyed by stress they couldn't offset. Vermissian Knights hosed with both systems and were essential as a result. In short the core gameplay loop worked against the aims of the game, against fun for the players, and against ease of running for the GM.

The release version completely replaced the encounter/travel mechanics and fixed much of the stress system, while also improving playbook variety and balance. I haven't played it to see how well it works in practice now, but that's more due to being in no shape to GM lately.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


JcDent posted:

Isn't that one from the days where thieves sucked at thief stuff et al?

I mean, you're not wrong, but at the same time, how good is a beginner at anything? Thieves do level up faster than other characters (hitting level 3 around the same time as the fighter and mage are hitting level 2), but there's a reason the title for a level 1 thief is "apprentice". It's worth noting that at the same time as the thief kinda sucks at their rolled abilities, the mage only has one or two spells per day, and the fighter still has roughly the same odds of hitting something as the mage (assuming similar strength).

The level 4 thief is going to be in a party with a fighter that has just hit level 3 and a mage that is still an adventure away from level 3. At that point, the thief can pick 30% of locks that they run into; find and remove 25% of small traps (like needles in locks and the like) that they run into without having to do a detailed search; only have a 30% chance of getting caught when trying to pick someone's pocket; have a 35% chance of being able to walk silently on gravel; a 25% of being able to just stand still in a poorly lit place and not be noticed; a 90% chance of climbing a sheer wall; and a 50% chance of hearing the kinds of noises that other people only get a 1/6 chance for.

Old school D&D was written (though I can't speak to how it was played) with the idea that rolls are there for when the outcome is somehow uncertain. The lock on a chest is in poor condition, and clearly not very well made? The thief just picks it without rolling. The lock is clearly well made, well maintained, and has a few tricks to its construction? The thief probably can't just pick it, but does get a useful hint as to what needs to be done to get it open without the keys (if that's possible). A random lock somewhere in the dungeon? Roll - if the roll passes, it's something the thief can pick (and never needs to roll for again unless the lock itself is replaced); if not, it's something the thief needs more experience for. Maybe modify the roll if the situation changes the kinds of locks you're likely to come across in the area.

Having said all that, I kinda prefer OD&D over B/X - the thief hadn't been introduced yet, so it was assumed that basically anybody could do "thief stuff", provided they had the opportunity to learn how. I only mentioned B/X because that's the edition that most OSR games take their cues from. Worlds Without Number is still in beta, having been successfully kickstarted, so if you've ever played Stars Without Number Revised, you presumably have some idea as to how good that will be.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Cities of Sigmar
Cowboys of the Sea



The Scourge Privateers have only been privateers for a short time. They spent generations before that being aelven pirates. They travel the seas in their great ships, hunting sea monsters. These beasts are dangerous, but if taken alive they can be sold for high prices to fighting dens or wizards, and if killed, they provide a wealth of useful trade materials and meat. Many Privateers do make a fine living without having to raid coastal settlements or trade ships any more...but not all are happy with this. The Fleetmasters that command the Scourge tend to be quite ambitious, and many of them do not appreciate the rules that Sigmar laid forth as part of their privateering contract. For those Scourge that reject Sigmar's laws, well, the old ways of raiding are still open.

The Scourge make their homes aboard the Black Arks, huge fortress-cities that float on the ocean surface. They are built from wood in part, but even more from the shells and tanned hides of sea monsters of all kinds. Traditionally, visitors are forbidden - only the Scourge and their prisoners are permitted aboard old-school Black Arks. Officially, slavery is illegal in any area which owes allegiance to the Free Cities. In practice, the nastier Fleetmasters - who, unfortunately, are the majority of them - are happy to take advantage of any loopholes they can find in those laws. The actual raiding and mercantile fleets are primarily frigates and wolfships, not the Black Arks themselves, which may be part of why they can get away with it - most people, particularly law enforcement, never see the decks of the Black Arks.

The Black Ark Fleetmasters serve as the commanders of the Scourge, dressed flamboyantly in many-colored silks and drakeskin cloaks. No aelf earns the rank without having mastered the arts of the shipboard combat and fencing - they'd never be able to hold their position in the vicious world of fleet politics without that, nor lead in hunting down the great beasts of the seas. Fleetmasters have a reputation for cruelty and ruthlessness, and their fighting style does nothing to disabuse people of it, favoring a death by a thousand cuts.

Beneath the Fleetmasters are the Black Ark Corsairs, the chief crew of the Scourge wolfships. Most are veteran fighters who have spent a lifetime hunting, stealing and fighting. Their sea-drake cloaks are as much a tool of battle as their swords, used to block enemy attacks and entangle foes so they can't deal with a vicious counterattack. While the Corsairs prefer the waves, they have developed weapons meant for inland raiding, most notably the Scourgerunner Chariots. These machines are designed for speed and maneuverability, and primarily they get used to chase and wear down land monsters while the riders hurl barbed harpoons. While the Scourge sell most of the beasts they catch, some are kept. Only the greatest, most terrible monsters that the aelf corsairs hunt, however: the Kharibdysses. A Kharibdyss is a massive octopus-hydra, a beast of terrible strength and fury. Their vicious jaws are full of killing fangs, and their tentacles are far faster than their size would suggest.



The Shadowblades are an aelven order that few know about. The art of murderous assassination is more common and respected among the aelves than among humans or duardin these days, due to old religious traditions among many aelves that argue for the purity of taking one life in order to save many. The Shadowblades are the peak of this religious movement, members of an ancient cult that has rededicated itself in service to Sigmar and the Free Cities. Their history is cloaked in secrecy and rumor, and even those that know they exist are uncertain of much of what they truly believe. Some think they worship a dead god of shadow and strength, while others say they wield the power of the Great Void that lies betweenr ealms. What is absolutely true, however, is that they always mark their victims before they strike - a sorcerous brand on the flesh in the shape of a curved blade, to let their victim know they are coming and give them time to get their affairs in order.

Many victims try to flee once the mark appears, but it never truly works. It only prolongs the pursuit, for once the Shadowblades mark a target, they never stop hunting until that target is dead. It may take years, but they have nothing if not dedication. The Shadowblades have hunted Chaos Lords, orruk warbosses, vampires and even mortals who betrayed the Free Cities. They have served Sigmar for a very long time, and as far as history records, their first major deployment was shortly after the Age of Chaos began, when Sigmar sealed up Azyr. They were dispatched to hunt down and purge any agents of Chaos that managed to infiltrate Azyr, which tehy did without mercy. It took the better part of a century, but they investigated and disappeared all Chaos cultists and devotees that they could find, rendering Azyr largely safe from major internal corruption by the Dark Gods...and causing a great deal of fear and terror that still remain as legends and campfire stories among the Free Peoples.

The Shadowblades' cheif agents are the Assassins, each able to wield the essence of darkness to conceal their appearances and movements. They strike out of nowhere, making a few well-placed attacks with a poisoned knife and then vanishing once more. Assassins operate singly and typically do not reveal their identities even to their allies, hiding among their own forces until they spot the right time to strike. When a victim flees beyond reach of an Assassin's knife, however, the Dark Riders are dispatched. They ride horses bred in Ulgu, red-eyed beasts of immense speed and stamina, and are armed with deadly repeater crossbows and barbed spears to slay their marks. Sometimes, the Dark Riders will deploy alongside the Freeguilds, using their speed and mastery of ambush to harry enemy supply lines, patrols and camps.

The lower ranks of the Shadowblades have not yet earned the right to hunt alone or use their dark steeds. These are the Shadow Warriors, aelven archers and fencers inducted into the cult but not yet initiated in the full rites and knowledge. They are trained as guerrillas and trappers, and they are probably the most visible arm of the Shadowblades, often working under command of Free City military forces. They are still insular and secretive, rarely socializing with the forces they work alongside, but are frequently found as scouts and skirmishers operating ahead of the main armies. Otherso ften find them unsettling and grim, and it is widely held that most Shadow Warriors are aelves that lost everything they had to the forces of Chaos and join the Shadowblade cult because they can find peace only through slaughtering those that hurt them so.



The Phoenix Temple are a warrior cult that worships the godbeast Ur-Phoenix, a great creature that is a symbol of fire and rebirth. The warriors of the Temple are reborn in its sacred flame, rebuilding themselves with a new purpose and perfect focus. They are utterly silent in battle, their entire being absorbed in their powerful halberd-based martial arts. Overhead, the skies burn and freeze as the Temple's Phoenixes take wing to fight Chaos as well. Earning the right to enter the Phoenix Temple as an acolyte is not easy. Only aelves are permitted, and they must have sacrificed their own health - physical and mental - in battle against Chaos. Most of these initiates are scarred and broken, driven nonverbal by the terrible acts they have wsitnessed and fought against. The priests of the Ur-Phoenix carry them to sacred shrine-pyres, where they await the coming of a dying Phoenix. These creatures are rare, born only rarely from the eggs of the Ur-Phoenix itself. When the Phoenix comes, it will wrap its wings around the initiates, engulfing both in a frenzy of elemental magic. Thus are both reborn in mind, body and soul, as the fallen Phoenix merges with the initiates.

Initiates that are reborn with the serenity of the Phoenix must then join the Phoenix Guard, the warrior-champions of the Temple that fight to preserve the eternal flame of the Ur-Phoenix and purge Chaos. They are given golden armor and magically enchanted halberds, and they are sent out by Temple leadership to fight on the worst battlefields of the Mortal Realms, for these revenant warriors are now able to endure far more than any normal soul. Their silence symbolizes their acceptance of fate. Death has come for them once, and they are free of all mortal fears now, trusting in the destiny shown to them in Phoenix fire and ice.

Their leaders are the Anointed, each a member of the Guard that has fought for centuries. They are given the chance to go on a pilgrimage to the Pyre of the Phoenix, a crystal valley in Hysh filled by the ever-burning ashes of the Ur-Phoenix. There, they meditate for years and receive echoing visions of the Ur-Phoenix's many rresurrections. Within these visions, the Anointed gain brief glimpses of the destiny of the aelves as a whole. Thus blessed by their god, the Anointed fight with even more intensity than they had before. Their mere presence inspires others to do better and be better, seeing in them a reflection of the Ur-Phoenix's reawakening. Many ride into battle atop a Flamespyre Phoenix or Frostheart Phoenix. These beasts are imbued with the elemental power of their forefather, the Ur-Phoenix, and burn with auras of fire and ice, which they use to destroy foes merely by flying overhead. When they land to strike, they are even more powerful.

Next time: The Wanderers and the Order Serpentis

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Ship Cards: To Boldly Plunder Where No Man Has Plundered Before

NEO doesnít have a lot of dedicated ships, which makes sense, their being a scrappy rebel organization and all. (The Star Wars movies gave the Rebels distinct capital ships out of visual necessity, but a tabletop RPG doesnít have the same needs.) In fact thereís only one ship thatís specifically earmarked as a NEO vessel, the rest in this post are more neutral.



The F-66 Starfire is Neoís Earth/space fighter. Itís very similar to the Krait, but they donít have the stealth tech. Like the Krait and Scorpion it has an AC 6, and a -4 defense bonus bringing it down to 2. Itís slower than both the Krait and Scorpion, but is a little heftier with more HP in all its systems. Itís also a bit larger with more cargo space. A good solid workhorse, armed with a Light Acceleration Gun (more damage than a Gyrocannon, but lower range and a bit less accurate.)



The Lady Jane Gray is Captain Flintís ship, him of the intro to the Character book. Itís a Light Stock Freighter, fairly common among scoundrels and smugglers making whatever the Solar Systemís equivalent of the Kessel Run is. It weighs 30 tons and carries 15 tons of cargo, and has a crew of three. The effective AC is 6 (8 and a -2 bonus) and it carries 2 beam lasers and a gyrocannon. Itís slower than most fighters but can outrun RAM Cruisers easily enough, and thatís probably the important thing.



The LSS Copernicus is a Lunar scout cruiser. The Lunar government is pretty blunt about wanting to keep neutral so youíll likely see a lot of these flying around near the Moon. At 25 tons and 50 feet long itís a pretty fast ship, and has an effective AC of 4. Weapons are a missile mount and a gyrocannon, and they donít have a ton of HP. I can imagine the Lunars sending a swarm of these after any nuisances, though.



The Luxus Triplanetary is a massive passenger liner, over a thousand feet long and weighing 350 tons. The card lists 300 crew & passengers though it doesnít say how many of each. Liners like these run all over the inner planets, and can either dock at a Class A spaceport (as listed on the planetary reference cards) or use shuttle craft to get passengers to and from the surface. They are, of course, sitting ducks in a fight, with an effective AC of 10 and a speed of 1, but they do have 3 pumped lasers and a lot of HP. Youíre more likely to encounter these as a setting for a pirate attack or a mission for where you have to track down a person of interest. (Or solve a murder, those are always happening on board passenger ships.) Still, they make good color.



The U of Deimos is an Asterover, one of many small ships that make runs between a planetary surface and ships or stations in orbit. Itís a bit larger than a fighter, slower but with more HP. Weaponry consists of a single pumped laser, and it has an effective AC of 6. No rules are given for the nifty mechanical arm. I can imagine a lot of scenarios where the players might need to make use of one of these.



And finally, we have Black Barneyís Free Enterprise. As you can see it has a similar design to Kaneís Rogue, to the point that I wonder if there wasnít a shift in the gameís art direction at some point and those two are just the remnants of an earlier, more retro style. Anyway this shipís a heavy cruiser, weighing 300 tons, bristling with weapons, and while its normal AC is 6, the ship has a camouflage hull that can actively blend into the space surrounding it, reducing its AC by 10 against lasers, gyrocannons, and acceleration guns. K-cannons and missiles, however, donít suffer the same penalty. Itís got a respectable speed of 3, specifically modified by Doc Huer. Iím not really sure how youíd ever use this one in game (with a crew of 90 itís hardly something the PCs can easily commandeer), but itís kinda neat.

And with that, we finally, FINALLY, reach the end of the Buck Rogers XXVc box set. Itís a very impressive package, and a solid game- the rules are quite creaky with the hindsight of three decades of design, and my recommendation is basically to just port it over to whatever generic system suits your fancy. The setting, however, is gold. Managing to actually bring together space opera and hard science fiction- two seemingly incompatible subgenres- is a rare feat, and the result is not just fun to read about but has a lot of hooks for a campaign. The license probably did the game more harm than good in the long run; people still mostly just remember the campy TV show, and the reruns are still on to this day. And of course, it makes this nigh-impossible to reprint, even if the rights to Rogers himself werenít tied up in court. (The Dille Family Trust has since gone bankrupt, so theyíre trying to solidify their claim on the IP so they can sell it off, and this could take a while.)

At the same time, I like that they were able to modernize a classic comic strip hero in a way that feels genuinely fresh. As I said before Buck Rogers has always evolved with the times, and this feels like part of a proud tradition.

But weíre not done yet. I may give my scanner a brief rest, but Iíve got a few of the supplements and modules and while itís by no means comprehensive, Iíd like to look at some of the additional stuff. And when we do finally reconvene, it will be with one simple restriction:

NO HUMANS ALLOWED!

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


As an aside, a couple years ago Mike Mearls asked on Twitter what classic D&D settings people wanted to see ported over to Fifth Edition. I told him I wanted a modern version of Buck Rogers XXVc, and he said that as much as he wanted it (and as much of a fan of XXVc as he is) unfortunately Wizards couldn't get the rights to the setting.

To be fair, nothing's *stopping* anybody from doing it themselves and filing off the Buck Rogers-specific names; hell, laser pistols and laser rifles are already in 5e (though 3d6 and 3d8 radiant damage, respectively, is a little much for a first-level character) as are frag grenades.

Maxwell Lord posted:



The LSS Copernicus is a Lunar scout cruiser. The Lunar government is pretty blunt about wanting to keep neutral so you'll likely see a lot of these flying around near the Moon. At 25 tons and 50 feet long it's a pretty fast ship, and has an effective AC of 4. Weapons are a missile mount and a gyrocannon, and they don't have a ton of HP. I can imagine the Lunars sending a swarm of these after any nuisances, though.

This, and Luna-mounted mass drivers, which another supplement has stats for. (The larger the driver, the more damage it does, to the point where larger drivers can't be installed on ships.)


Maxwell Lord posted:

NO HUMANS ALLOWED!

I know exactly where this is going, and I'm glad for one thing we're gonna see.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




By popular demand posted:

E: Micro review: Heartseeker
Some mild dungeoneering

At Level 1 my characters have these issues:
a.Low HP, Pathfinder rolled only 1, Thief 3 and Wizard 2
b.Cleric gets no prayer slots until level 2
c.only one high ability bonus in the entire group: Warrior got a +1 bonus to hit and damage from his 14 Physical

my quick solution was to start the characters at level 3:
when leveling you roll a d20 against every ability to check if it increases by 1
you roll your class HD for extra HP
you get +1 to hit bonus on every 2nd level and the Warrior Special extra attack can now be used on enemies of HD1 or lower.

quote:

Characters at Level 3 (+1 to hit)
Orc Warrior [P14 M11 A8] Class HD:[D10] HP:10 special: extra attack on enemies HD1 or lower,[+1 bonus to hit and damage] AC 16 Attacks:Spear (10í range) 2 daggers (thrown 20í)

Kobold Cleric [P11 M13 A9] Class HD:[D8] HP:16 special:1 prayers daily, advantage on aura saves. AC 17 Attacks:Mace, Sling (30í range)

Elf Pathfinder [P13 A8 M10] Class HD:[D8] HP:9 special:advantage on hunting, hiding a camp or tracking. Bonus +1 to hit with ranged attacks. AC 15 Attacks:Longbow (160í range), Spear (10í range)

Ratkin Thief [P10 M8 A9] Class HD:[D6] HP:9 special:advantage on stealing, silent move,climbing. Bonus +d6 damage when surprising AC 14 ATK:5 daggers (thrown 20í or melee)

Dwarf Wizard [P10 M15 A10] Class HD:[D4] HP:5 special:3 spells slots daily. Advantage on mental saves. AC 12 Attacks:5 daggers (thrown 20í or melee)

quote:

notes
The abilities are: (P)hysical- STR and DEX and also physical damage saves, (M)ental- INT & WIS and also mental spell resistance, (A)ura- CHR and also Charm resistance.
Bloodline only determines your starting languages: everyone gets Common(human)+ their Bloodline language.
Advantage on skill or save rolls means rolling 2d20 and picking the lower number

Enter the dungeon! (created with an online random generator)
Party enters Room #18
Encounter 5 x Rats at 30', 40', 50'
Rolling reaction:6- Rats are helpful! being plain beasts the rats can't offer help, but they gladly allow themselve to be petted and Cleric decides to adopt one.
No loot!

Party enters Room #1
Encounter 1 x 1st Level Warrior Duergar (dwarf) at 10'
Rolling reaction:2- Duergar is hostile!
but did the party surprise him? I'll let Thief roll Physical with Advantage(roll twice and take lowest) against Duergar's Int to silently open the door (retroactively) 5 vs 10 -Success! party gets a free round while the eeeevil dwarf reaches for his weapon.
Duergar(lizardkin stats): HD2 HP7 , AC14, Atk weapon +1(d6), SV P12 M8 A9, MV 40/120.
Warrior attacks with spear (d20+2): 11,miss!
Pathfinder attacks with Longbow (d20+2): 19, hit! roll class HD(D8) in damage:8 Duergar dies!
get 80 gp in loot!

Party approaches Room #17 and beholds a 1 x 1st Level Warrior Duergar (dwarf) through an archway
Rolling reaction: 4- Duergar is hesitant, lets say the party attempts to bribe him for information which I'll rule will be 50GP per reaction result (so 100GP)
Duergar shares some of the dungeon map and agrees to forget seeing the party.

Party enters Room #9, getting the drop on 1 x 1st Level Warrior Duergar (dwarf) due to previously given information!
Rolling reaction: 3- Duergar is hostile and refuses calls to surrender!
Duergar(lizardkin stats): HD2 HP2 , AC14, Atk weapon +1(d6), SV P12 M8 A9, MV 40/120. at 40'
Pathfinder attacks with Longbow (d20+2):17, hit! roll class HD(D8) in damage:4 Duergar dies!
get 70 gp in loot!

Party enters Room #15, Room is empty and so are #4 and #11.

Party enters Room #3, unaware of the Large Spider on the ceiling.
Rolling reaction:2- Spider is hostile but I think a morale check is called for (d10 vs HD): 9- spider runs into a crack allowing the oblivious party to find-
get 10 gp in loot!

DM tires of dungeon, tries a simple combat encounter
code:
12 x Small Monstrous Centipedes drop on the party (HD1/4 HP2, AC13, Atk Bite+0 (d6),SV P12 M6 A9, MV 40/120)(modified giant ant stats)
Rolling initiative (1d10): 3 vs 1- party moves first!
Wizard casts Sleep (1d4): 4 Centipedes are affected
Centipede #1 mental save 6 vs d20 (roll under): 6- Centipede is asleep
Centipede #2 mental save 6 vs d20 (roll under): 10- Centipede is asleep
Centipede #3 mental save 6 vs d20 (roll under): 15- Centipede is asleep
Centipede #4 mental save 6 vs d20 (roll under): 13- Centipede is asleep
Warrior attacks Centipede #5 (d20+2):15 hit! roll class HD(D10+1) in damage:4 Centipede #5 is no longer alive.
Warrior extra attack! Centipede #9(d20+2):4, miss!
Cleric attacks Centipede #6 (d20+1): 4, miss!
Pathfinder shoots Centipede #12 (d20+2):21 hit!  roll class HD(D8) in damage:3 Centipede #12's time of doom had come.
Thief attacks Centipede #6 (d20+1):11, miss!
Centipede #6 attacks Cleric (d20):13 vs ac17, miss!
Centipede #7 attacks Warrior (d20):8 vs ac16, miss!
Centipede #8 attacks Thief (d20):20 vs ac14, hit! d6 for damage: 4 damage.
Centipede #9 attacks Warrior (d20):7 vs ac16, miss!
Centipede #10 attacks Wizard (d20):12 vs ac12, miss!
Centipede #11 attacks Pathfinder (d20):17 vs ac15, hit! d6 for damage: 5 damage.
Warrior attacks Centipede #9:18 hit! roll class HD(D10+1) in damage:8 Centipede #9 goes SPLAT!
Warrior extra attack! Centipede #7:20 hit! roll class HD(D10+1) in damage:5 Centipede #7 goes SPLAT!
Cleric attacks Centipede #6 (d20+1):15 hit! roll class HD(D8) in damage:5 Centipede #6 is now but a wet smear on the floor.
Pathfinder shoots Centipede #10 (d20+2):5, miss!
Thief attacks Centipede #8 (d20+1):7, miss!
Wizard attacks Centipede #10 (d20+1):13 hit! roll class HD(d4) in damage:2 Centipede #10 is split lengthwise.
Centipede #8 attacks Thief (d20):12 vs ac14, miss!
Centipede #11 attacks Pathfinder (d20):13 vs ac15, miss!
Warrior attacks Centipede #8 (d20+2):15 hit! roll class HD(D10+1) in damage:9 Centipede #8 bites the dust.
Warrior extra attack! Centipede #10(d20+2):7, miss!
Cleric attacks Centipede #10 (d20+1):20 hit! roll class HD(D8) in damage:7 Centipede #10 is crushed under a boot.
sleeping Centipedes #1-4 are now dispached one by one.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Since it's been brought up again, I do believe there was a redesign effort made for XXVc. I recall talking to Mike Pondsmith at a GEN CON in the early '90s about it and he said he was a bit disappointed in the art direction the game took, so it sounds like it was taken out of his hands to make it more pulpy. He described wanting a cover that looked more '80s/'90s sci-fi technothriller, with Buck in a spacesuit, helmet off, standing in front of a space plane that looked like an SR-71.

Maxwell Lord posted:

But weíre not done yet. I may give my scanner a brief rest, And when we do finally reconvene, it will be with one simple restriction:

NO HUMANS ALLOWED!

God yes, it still remains one of my favorite supplements for any game.

Otherkinsey Scale
Jul 17, 2012

Just a little bit of sunshine!


JcDent posted:

What about Torchbearer and Strike?

Strike! is really good. There's not really a magic/martial split per se, since one of Strike!'s defining features is siloing off combat from everything else so completely that you could fluff your character's combat abilites any way you want. But, for example, the "necromancer" and "duelist" classes both get plenty of interesting and powerful things to do. And since your role and your class are separate, you can play any class as the party's healer, damage dealer, tank etc.

Pussy Cartel
Jun 26, 2011





Lipstick Apathy

Speaking of Mike Pondsmith...

Thirty years ago he published a little game called Cyberpunk 2020, set in the dark, far off future of today. And apart from a spinoff in the mid-90s and an flubbed attempt at a third edition in the early aughts, no one's heard anything at all about it in all that time, not even a little. But just a few weeks ago he finally blessed the internet with a brand new edition of the only real competitor Shadowrun used to have. Me, I've always been a huge nerd for cyberpunk of all kinds, and for all its flaws I loved Cyberpunk 2020 when l was a kid, and still love that setting today. And that's why I'm going to be covering the new edition, perks, flaws, and all.

So stick around choombas, the future's still pretty loving dark, but at least we've got cyberoptics. Unlike real life, which is dark and doesn't even give us any cool augs, what the gently caress, man.

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


SkyeAuroline posted:

The old system for traveling between "waypoints" (I forget the term the game actually uses) was based around rolling a random number of encounters between two points that *had* to somehow be solved with one and only one dice check, because the progression was based off the results on the single check. Rolled mid-session, too, so you didn't get time to prep anything. The stress system was also way overtuned and stress recovery was essentially unavailable because of its costs, a given character was unlikely to make it much of anywhere without getting destroyed by stress they couldn't offset. Vermissian Knights hosed with both systems and were essential as a result. In short the core gameplay loop worked against the aims of the game, against fun for the players, and against ease of running for the GM.

The release version completely replaced the encounter/travel mechanics and fixed much of the stress system, while also improving playbook variety and balance. I haven't played it to see how well it works in practice now, but that's more due to being in no shape to GM lately.

In my playtest one player shot ahead on stress early due to a bad roll, and since you only lost half stress for taking fallout they wound up at high risk of fallout basically forever after that. There was also basically no guidance on when to give resources so healing stress wasn't really available, since you need to trade resources for healing. I included both problems in my playtest notes, and it looks like they fixed both; the stress system is way more forgiving (minor fallout clears the associated stress completely, major clears all stress from all tracks) so the death spiral isn't nearly as tight. Their guidance about when to give out resources isn't super robust, but at least it's present now. They also give starting characters a resource now and I don't think that was present in the playtest. They definitely listened to feedback about the Junk Mage's powers not all being explicitly spells, thus making their core abilities not actually work depending on your chargen choices.

Basically every issue I brought up in my notes was addressed in good faith, and I'm super impressed with the final result. Heart's muscling its way into my "games to run" list, especially with the option to run it as Vermissian Black Ops and tie it into a simultaneous Spire campaign.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Cities of Sigmar
Elf Problems



The Wanderers were once the beloved people of Alarielle, the guardians of Ghyran against danger. They lived in massive canopy-cities within the many forests of that realm, and they received near-equal favor from their goddess as the Sylvaneth themselves. They fought hard for their land and their religion when the Age of Chaos came, seeking to stave off the assaults by Nurgle's forces. However, the aelven kingdoms of Ghyran were overwhelmed. One by one, they fell and burned or were wiped out by disease. The surviving leaders of the Ghyran aelves found themselves faced with an impossible decision, and they chose to abandon their lands in order to protect their people by heading to Azyr, seeking protection from Sigmar.

Thus did the Ghyran aelves become the Wanderers, nomads without a home. They dedicated themselves to fighting Chaos in penance for what they had done and what they had lost, and they refused to think of Azyr as their homeland. It didn't truly matter - the Everqueen and Sylvaneth will never forgive them for fleeing Ghyran. They will never be granted a place of honor at the side of their goddess. Despite this, they fight on anyway in her honor. The trace out the broken ley lines of old and repair them by reconstructing waystones, ancient artifacts that protect the wild places and ease the taint of Chaos. They know they can never be forgiven for what their ancestors did, but they fight because it is right to try anyway.

The Nomad Princes serve as their leaders, descendants of the old aelven royals. They are archers and spear-fighters of extreme skill, guiding the Wanderers in battle and in tracing out leylines. They are protected from the enemy by the Eternal Guard, who wield weapons of ironwood and steel and would give their lives to protect their rulers. They are even able to call upon the trees and roots to build a fortress around themselves in times of need. While the Eternal Guard stand defensively, the Wildwood Rangers head out beyond their lines. They are dedicated to hunting monsters and daemons by using their powerful draichs, two-handed blades of the ancient aelves. They dart around foes and tear into them with grace and speed.

The greatest warriors of the Wanderers, however, are the Sisters of the Watch. They dedicate themselves to the protection of the leylines, wielding magic through the shots they fire from their great bows. Their accuracy is unmatched among mortals, and each blow they land strikes heart or eye. They work closely with the Wild Riders, cavalry forces that come to attack fleeing foes from atop their powerful stag mounts. The Wild Riders surround and hem in the enemy, preparing them for the great warrior-mages of the aelves - the Sisters of the Thorn. These aelven women call on briars and vines to protect their allies from harm, wield blackbriar javelins that they throw with immense precision, and can call forth terrifying greenflame from the land itself to destroy their foes.



The Order Serpentis are the remnants of an Age of Myth civilization, the aelven empire of Narkath in Ulgu. Narkath was a land of mist, boiling lakes of acid and endless black rains. Its rulers built immense castles of black iron in the shape of vicious claws. While they worshipped the Pantheon of Order, they rejected the laws of Azyr as hypocrisy and weakness. Narkath was a slaving empire that practiced sacrifice of prisoners and performed many dark acts. They were heavily expansionist and took any excuse to attack their neighbors. Their knights were the Order Serpentis, and each was mounted upon a Black Dragon, monstrous beasts bred for viciousness, cunning and intelligence. The dragons would emerge from the stormy skies, their eyes glowing green, to attack the enemy. It was terrifying, and the Narkathian Empire expanded massively by dragon attack.

The Gods of Order were concerned over the actions of Narkath, but the Shadow King Malerion stepped in to prevent their censure, as he saw value in Narkath for his own purposes. However, they did not have the strength to stand against Chaos alone, and they had no allies, only subjects. The dragon-riders of the Order Serpentis fought well against the armies of daemons that came against them, but they were massively outnumbered. Final victory was impossible. Most of the Order was too proud to recognize their immanent defeat, however, and fell in battle before they would even consider abandoning Narkath. Only the more practical and pragmatic knights survived, deciding they'd take indignity and shame over death. These few survivors of the Order fled to Azyr alongside the Sigmarites they had looked down on, and they spent most of the Age of Chaos stewing over their failures and trying to prepare for vengeance.

Too many Black Dragons died with Narkath - now, only the Dreadlords that command the Order are permitted to ride them. There simply are not enough dragons to go around, especially with the ones owed to the Darkling Covens. The Dreadlords are bitter and rage-filled over the losses they took so long ago and the shame that has followed their order's name. They take joy only in the bringing of suffering to those who have wronged them, and even their allies are wary of calling on them too often, for the Dreadlords and their draconic mounts are only ever satisfied by the total devastation of the enemy, and no order or request can hold them back from scorched earth tactics. They are still sometimes asked for their help, however, for few can match the aerobatics of a Black Dragon ridden by a master knight. Many Dreadlords wield a Lance of Spite, a powerful magical weapon that can impale nearly any foe, and the dragons themselves are immensely powerful fighters. For those Dreadlords that favor the sword to the lance, there are a number of Exile Blades, heirlooms of ancient Narkath that the Order has recovered. Each one is forged from meteoric iron and bound with powerful magic, that they might cut even gromril without resistance. Most often, Exile Blades are wielded in pairs, but some prefer to use an enchanted Tyrant Shield in the off hand instead, for greater ability to parry the blows of daemons and other superhuman fighters.

The Black Dragons are themselves all members of the bloodline of Narkath, their eggs marinated in dark magic and the blood of tortured captives. These rituals imbue the dragons with immense strength and resistance to damage, but they come at a terrible cost. Each dragon's mind is twisted by the experience, instilling a horrible craving for murder and mayhem. They are not mere pets or mounts to their Dreadlords, but partners, each a cold and vicious killer that finds the other a useful companion. The Dreadlords provide victims to eat and kill, and the dragons allow themselves to be ridden in battle. They love to fight, tearing foes apart in the most painful manner they can and spewing choking, poisonous gas that causes their victims' lungs to boil and fill with blood.

The lesser members of the Order Serpentis know better than to disappoint their leaders. The Dreadlords are tyrants over their order, and those who fail them are often flayed alive or fed to the dragons. Their fear of their own commanders means they fight like demons, for it is better to die in battle than be tortured after for cowardice. The lack of dragons means these lesser knights have been forced to rely on smaller mounts. The Order has dedicated much time to breeding monsters in their hatcheries, and the majority of the Order are Drakespawn Knights, riding bad-tempered and cruel reptiles into battle that are significantly smaller than their ancestors. The Drakespawn are formed from the blood of dragons, but only using eggs deemed too weak and impure to be used normally. They are still exceptionally fast creatures, able to jump over most terrain and dash about at blinding speed to outflank their foes. The Drakespawn Knights wield barbed lances to maximize the power of their charges, and the claws, vicious foot talons and deadly fangs of the Drakespawn are no less dangerous.

Some enemy lines are too strong for a mere Drakespawn charge to break. In those cases, the Drakespawn Chariots are unleashed. They are pulled by the same Drakespawn the knights ride, but their wheels are mounted with powerful scythe blades. The chariot roars across the field, and the blades carve open any foes that manage to avoid the spears and crossbow bolts of the charioteers. And yet, this weapon is not the greatest of those developed by the Order to make up for its lack of dragons. That would be the War Hydras. These are monsters created by cruel experimentation in the hatcheries, barely able to be kept under control by their handlers. They are whipped into a frenzy, and even at best they aren't exactly precision-target weapons. What they are, however, is immensely powerful. These beasts rampage through the enemy, devouring victims whole with their many heads and burning them alive with breath of killing flame. The hydras are nearly impossible to kill, as well, for the dragon blood within them is full of sorcerous power that regenerates their wounds and even regrows lost heads. It is said that the only wy to truly kill a War Hydra is to burn every inch of its body to ash and boil off every d rop of its blood, or it will eventually be reborn, hungrier and more maddened by the experience.

The Dreadlords of the Order absolutely despise Chaos and take great joy in causing death and pain among its forces, but their true goal in assisting Sigmar and the Free Cities is simple ambition. This is likely the best method they have of reclaiming lost Narkath for their own, and if that means they have to work with people they despise, but less than they despise Chaos, well...so be it. Until then, they send out great hunting parties to capture any reptilian monsters they can find and drag them back to the hatcheries and breeding pits, in hopes of finding ways to remake the Black Dragons and restore their numbers. Many Dreadlords are also quite influential in the Free Cities due to the Order's wealth and their personal prowess. They have built a number of fortresses as forward bases, such as the Tower of Nar Kavas in Athanasia or the obsidian castles of the Isle of Exiles. It is slow going, but the Order Serpentis is expanding and growing, patiently making its way back towards the empire it once served.

The End!

What's next? Options are:
Chaos (Beasts of Chaos, Blades of Khorne, Disciples of Tzeentch, Hedonites of Slaanesh, Maggotkin of Nurgle, Skaven, Slaves to Darkness)
Death (Flesh-Eater Courts, Nighthaunt)
Destruction (Ogor Mawtribes, Orruk Warclans, Sons of Behemat)
Order (Daughters of Khaine, Fyreslayers, Idoneth Deepkin, Lumineth Realmlords, Sylvaneth)

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Anything, anything at all I can't take more elves

Servetus
Apr 1, 2010


Beasts of Chaos

Talas
Aug 27, 2005



Hedonites of Slaanesh, or just a series of the four main chaos gods, like the series of Cities of Sigmar.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Orcs.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Flesh-Eater Courts

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Talas posted:

Hedonites of Slaanesh,

Going for Hedonites as well as they actually did a good job with Slaanesh.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Cythereal posted:

Flesh-Eater Courts
Seconding for my noble chompy boys

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Just Dan Again posted:

In my playtest one player shot ahead on stress early due to a bad roll, and since you only lost half stress for taking fallout they wound up at high risk of fallout basically forever after that. There was also basically no guidance on when to give resources so healing stress wasn't really available, since you need to trade resources for healing. I included both problems in my playtest notes, and it looks like they fixed both; the stress system is way more forgiving (minor fallout clears the associated stress completely, major clears all stress from all tracks) so the death spiral isn't nearly as tight. Their guidance about when to give out resources isn't super robust, but at least it's present now. They also give starting characters a resource now and I don't think that was present in the playtest. They definitely listened to feedback about the Junk Mage's powers not all being explicitly spells, thus making their core abilities not actually work depending on your chargen choices.

Basically every issue I brought up in my notes was addressed in good faith, and I'm super impressed with the final result. Heart's muscling its way into my "games to run" list, especially with the option to run it as Vermissian Black Ops and tie it into a simultaneous Spire campaign.

This is one of the reasons I don't like reviewing games without playing them because Heart advertises itself as a high-danger game where characters can die easily, but I have no idea if the game actually works out that way in practice.

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Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Talas posted:

Hedonites of Slaanesh, or just a series of the four main chaos gods, like the series of Cities of Sigmar.

I'll vote for this as well. I really want Skaven, but let's save the crazy Nazi rats for later.

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