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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Even if something seems obvious, it can often be worth devoting text to, because what you devote text to is what readers are going to focus on. If you don't discuss something at all because you think it's so obvious you don't even have to mention it, the reaction of the reader is to assume that you actually are not going to address this thing at all and are deliberately ignoring it and choosing to not focus on it. What you talk in your game about shapes expectations.

Further, it's also important to remember that a fictional world has to be "worth" saving simply because if players cannot get engaged in doing so, unlike the real world, they have the choice to abandon this particular fiction for other, more pleasant fictions to play games in.

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Serf
May 5, 2011




Night10194 posted:

This is nuts to me, as well. I don't think I've ever heard of people getting mad about people writing their own adventures before, though; I know there are groups that primarily play pre-published stuff but I usually thought that was a matter of 'writing our own stuff takes ages and we have jobs/just want to meet up and play' which is perfectly reasonable.

i definitely know there are horror stories about people who sit there and drop 20+ minutes of exposition on you about their lovingly crafted worlds, but there's a happy medium to be struck. i tend to think less is more and anyone who wants to be involved in the worldbuilding should get to pitch in, but you gotta have some sort of world to hang the game off of

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


Joe Slowboat posted:

So I'm sort of working from the assumption that either getting rid of Lord Entropy is not going to change the outcome of the war with beautiful nullity, or if it does, it might help you actually win to convince everyone that the world deserves to exist (once it's no longer ruled by Lord Entropy).

Lord Entropy has an odd history through the Nobilis editions. In 1e he’s the equivalent of the Guys Who Kill You If You Break The Masquerade. In 2e he’s still stupidly powerful but has a bit more personality and reason. In 3e it basically outright says that nobody really keeps his laws and it’s much easier to just stay away from him, and yea in Chuubo’s the guy got ganked by his own son who is a sample PC.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

hyphz posted:

and yea in Chuubo’s the guy got ganked by his own son who is a sample PC.

Look, he went away on an important journey, leaving his bloodstained clothes behind in the incinerator. You can't just believe every rumor you hear!

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Lord Entropy positively reeks of a bad character the author is too in love with.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

wiegieman posted:

Lord Entropy positively reeks of a bad character the author is too in love with.

It is, in fact, canonically impossible to be in love with Lord Entropy. People have done experiments and found that it he is literally immune to erotic attraction.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


wiegieman posted:

Lord Entropy positively reeks of a bad character the author is too in love with.

He’s not mentioned all that much, tbh. And I think the only reason he rules Earth is because all the other Imperators are off fighting Excrucians, so winning the war would bring them all back and hopefully put things back into balance.

golden bubble
Jun 3, 2011

yospos



PurpleXVI posted:


An awful fuckload of words are spent on going: "the world is both as myth would have it and as science would have it at the same time, but no matter what happens in the myth world, it's always happening by-the-scientific-rules in the mundane world, unless a PC-tier or higher god does it, because then it happens in both worlds at once, is patently impossible and probably drives most of humanity immediately insane from having witnessed something supernatural. Also the dinosaurs were destroyed because one of them pooped near an angel which made him so angry he destroyed them all. I have no idea why the setting needs this little anecdote.

THE MYTHICKE WORLDE is basically like the world of Exalted where every object and force in the world, whether animate or not, has a spirit and some degree of sentience and personality as a result. Better hope your burger is into vore or that's gonna be one real loving awkward dinner.

Because in ye olde mythicke worlde, the dinosaurs deserved it because angels can do no wrong. Most of the other non-angel gods found this horrific, and created the mundane world with it's science and physics so animals and humans can do things without deserving a fierce smiting for being too imperfect for the angels.

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

I don't see how Jenna's games garner such hype and so many devoted fans. The Reddit community surrounding Chuubo's is particularly cult-like and all of the Glitch snippets I read feel like there is an element that I'm missing which, if found, would make everything suddenly make sense.

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!


hyphz posted:

He’s not mentioned all that much, tbh.

Okay, this is, I'd like to say, a straight up lie. For more or less all the scene-setting parts of the book he pops up at the very least every second page, and if not him directly, then his courts and the Camorra which are largely a result of his actions. He is mentioned all the time.

Direct mentions are 40 to 50 in about 35 pages of space, ignoring all of the indirect and secondary mentions, so no. He's pretty well-mentioned in the setting parts.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

I mean, he's an important character in that he's pretty much the only Imperator in 2e who has a defined setting role, where every other Imperator of importance is player-defined.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Rand Brittain posted:

I mean, he's an important character in that he's pretty much the only Imperator in 2e who has a defined setting role, where every other Imperator of importance is player-defined.

Just God, bigger than all the other Gods, not a big deal.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Enemy Action
Part 14: HELL MOLD


Evil mold. It's evil mold.

Oxblood Mold is a harmless-looking black mold that is responsible for many bizarre, fire-related deaths and the destruction of much Cover. It's the source of several stories about spontaneous human combustion. No one knows where it came from or if the Machine made it deliberately, but it definitely loves Aether. It infects people by getting spores into an open wound. For normal humans or Stigmatics, that's not too bad - it's essentially a mild poison that gets worse the more spores are in the area and the more hurt you are. Things get worse, though, if the mold encounters Aether, Essence or any other form of supernatural energy. At that point it enters what the book terms its "motile form," vibrating at the quantum level extremely quickly, which makes it get extremely hot. At that point, it causes its victims to burst into flames and release a massive cloud of spores. So if you get infected, you desperately want to avoid literally any kind of magic thing.

Demons, however, have a bigger problem. They can be infected the way humans can...but when the spores become activated, demons don't burst into flame. This is because the quantum-vibrating mold literally entangles itself with their Cover. This prevents the mold from spreading, but it also causes Hull Blight and compromises your Cover. A Cover infected by Hull Blight has tattered, peeling skin that shows the demonic form concealed beneath (or the flesh of other infected Covers). This makes it much harder to trick the universe into reading you as human, makes any compromises worse and also causes social penalties. It also prevents you from reverting any of your demonic form parts that you've manifested. The infection spreads to any Cover you shift into, but going Loud while in an infected Cover will purge you of the disease if that's your only infected Cover left. It can also be cured using certain God-Machine facilities, much like glitches can, but that risks infecting others using the facility for several days after.

Oxblood mold is, y'know, mold. It likes warm, wet places and organic materials to grow on. The Aether-caused alterations let it derive trace nutrients from minerals, so it can survive purely on rock and metal if required. Spores fill any area where the mold grows, but need biological hosts to proceed with their life cycle. After a host bursts into flame, the spore clouds produced search for a suitable surface to grow on and take root, beginning the whole lifecycle from the start again. In its normal state, it looks like black mold, to the point that the two are practically impossible to tell apart. The main difference is that Oxblood Mold tends to grow in geometric or occult patterns and appears somewhat red under UV light. Infected hosts have inflammation around their wounds. In the motile state, the spore clouds are mostly invisible but have weird and visible reactions to different kinds of supernatural energies.

Oxblood mold tends to cause rumors of Satanic cults due to its growth patterns - pentagrams, stars, sigils, that kind of thing. Usually the rumors say the mold grows in patterns traced in the blood of victims. The occasional bursts of mysterious flame only increases the reputations of these places for haunting or curses, especially if foolhardy explorers end up spontaneously combusting. Demons have many conspiracy theories about how Oxblood mold gets created, and studies of it have revealed that it mutates extremely easily and may develop new forms or abilities based on the energies around it. Many demons believe it is a bioweapon developed by the Machine, but it's actually no better for Infrastructure than demons. The Machine expends a notable amount of effort to get rid of Oxblood growths in important facilities to prevent them from interfering with magical energy flows or drawing attention due to human combustion and mysterious flames. Hull Blight also has a tendency to cause widespread demonic paranoia about infection, though it is rarely contagious. Stories of demons spreading Hull Blight to others are usually due to Cover-trading or use of tainted restoration facilities rather than infection because of the way Oxblood spores get stuck inside demons. Despite this, demons still tend to fight each other rapidly when they fear outbreaks of Hull Blight.

Oxblood Mold doesn't have stats per se. It has rules, but no attributes or skills. The mold can rapidly gain new abilities when exposed to occult stimuli in the form of large amounts of supernatural energies or targeted use of supernatural powers on it. When within several yards of the mold, magical powers are penalized as the mold interferes with the energy flows and it can increase the cost of magic power usage; however, once it enters the motile state, this power goes offline. Spore clouds are ignited by exposure to sufficient magical energies. Aether causes infernal flame, which burns fast and then explodes in sulfurous fumes, dealing large damage to a wide area. Angelic Essence causes holy fire, which takes the form of less damaging spheres of ball lightning that stun people they hit. Other manifestations of fire include fairy lights, erratic flames of many colors which do not do damage but cause mental or emotional warping, and ghostly orbs, blue, white or gray lights that deal large amounts of damage to beings in Twilight exclusively. In any case, only motile-state mold can ignite this way.


What if an evil tree?

The Whispering Oak is a gigantic white oak at the center of a city park. It's a popular place for picnics, despite rumors of disappearances, cult activity or similar. People sometimes talk about whispering voices, but that's all that seems to stick, along with rumors of the tree granting eternal life somehow. Many believe that due to its size it must be very old; they're wrong. It's not even 75 yet. Rather, the tree has just been soaking in the energies of the abundant Infrastructure in the park, and its roots have even pierced the Command and Control Infrastructure underneath it and integrated themselves into the databanks. This has caused the oak to become sentient. It wants to know everything, and all other existences are a means to achieve that. It gathers cryptids and Stigmatics to serve as its actors in the world, and it legitimately believes itself to be a nurturing mentor that gives people their dreams. It just wants everything they know as its price.

The Whispering Oak doesn't really get humanity. It has no empathy, and it doesn't understand why anyone would want to hide information for any reason. It makes no particular distinction between objective and subjective thought - both are data, and it wants all the data. It wants to make its servants happy, but it also knows they are each expendable if required and rarely invests much care into any single person. Anyone that wants to gain something from it has to lie down and place their head in its hollows, allowing it to copy their memories in exchange for whatever.

The Oak is around 120 feet tall, with lots of low branches. It's eight feet wide at the trunk, with a large hollow at the base big enough to fit a human adult's head comfortably. There's smaller hollows, each also sized for a human head but somewhat less comfortable, four feet off the ground in each cardinal direction, plus other ones of similar size haphazardly scattered near the branches. The bark is gray with a coppery tint at some angles, and the wood beneath is bronze. The leaves have a metallic glint and parts of them are copper. While the tree can move, it does so slowly and deliberately, with a shockingly gentle touch. The coppery acorns grow all year round, though they are most numerous in October. It is primarily active in spring and summer, and in winter it sleeps unless someone interfaces with a hollow. The acorns of winter typically hold only random memories and arboreal dreams.

The rumors of eternal life granted by the tree are because it can produce duplicates of people whose minds it's copied, and it can give them any or all of that person's memories, to the extent that they may not even know they're copies. However, the lives of these copies last only as long as the tree has use for them. Many demons in the area believe it must be the Linchpin of all the park Infrastructure, since it's at the center of it all, often surrounded by cryptids and guarded by Stigmatics, which usually is a good indicator. However, destroying it would do very little to bother the Machine. Removing it would have unpredictable consequences, too, since it's currently absorbing a bunch of energy from all that Infrastructure. Some occultists believe all the rumors around the tree are because a local philandering professor who got into a scandal for getting his students pregnant committed suicide under it. He did, and the details are easily available, but the tree was busy doing its thing long before the professor's death. If his ghost is haunting the tree, however, the Oak would be very interested in acquiring his memories.

The Oak is superhumanly intelligent and strong-willed as hell. It's insanely strong and tough and it's slower than a box of rocks, but very charismatic. It knows a lot about academics, the occult and science, but not a ton else. It does, however, know shitloads of information, even if it's not good at applying all of it. It is able to temporarily turn people Stigmatic by feeding them acorns, which also gifts people with temporary skills and an obsession with obeying the tree. Knowledge-acorns are highly addictive. The tree has a giant pillar of energy hidden in one hollow that it can use to devour people if they are fed into it, it can grab stuff with its limbs, and it can speak by rustling its leaves to produce whispers. It copies the minds and memories of anyone that puts their head in a hollow and can speak telepathically with anyone that does by uploading data into their mind. It can produce copies of anyone whose mind is inside it, programmed with any memories or knowledge it likes, but it needs sufficient living organic material fed into it first to produce the body. Copies made this way need to eat knowledge-acorns every week or so to survive and cannot heal naturally without the Oak's help.

Next time: Humans

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.




3: Taking multiple looks at someone because you have better vision than them

Qualities! Yes, every old style 90s point-buy game had to have Advantages and Disadvantages in there somewhere, and they've kept them into Sixth World. They're bought at character generation; you can take up to six qualities, and they can't net cost more than 20 Karma, but you can "top up" with your 50 free Karma if you want to. I think. Well, ok, the text actually says

quote:

You can't select more than six total qualities at character creation, and the net bonus Karma cannot be more than 20.

We are never told what "Bonus Karma" means, so I'm assuming it means the total Karma cost of the qualities, but it could mean total Karma awarded by negative qualities as well, in which case you presumably get six positives for free? Uh.. look, just thank god I never have to play this. You can buy Qualities in play, but they cost double if you do that (thus putting even more pressure on players to front-load their character at character generation time). Negative qualities give you points back, and can't be voluntarily taken during play.

Let's do the positives first. They tend to sort nicely into groups.

Analytical Mind, Catlike, Double-Jointed, Elemental Resistance, Gearhead, Guts, Hardening, Home Ground, Juryrigger, Photographic Memory, Resistance To Pathogens, Spirit Affinity, Toughness and Toxin Resistance all have roughly the same effect; they give you a point of Edge when you attempt to do certain things. Unfortunately, they do have terribly confusing wording. Most of them give you Edge "when..." doing something. Some of those add the caveat "If you do not use the Edge on the test, it goes away." But also, some of them give you Edge "on..." certain tests. Does that mean it goes away afterwards, or not? My assumption would be that it did go away.. except that all of those also have the text "Refer to the Preventing Edge Abuse section" after them, which wouldn't apply if the Edge only applied for that one roll.

Actually, let's mention that section on Preventing Edge Abuse. It basically says that PCs shouldn't be allowed to take actions just to gain Edge, such as deliberately climbing surfaces and then falling down to get Edge points from Catfall, or similar. Thing is, in a system where Edge is used for so much of the modelling, it's not always as obvious as this. For example, someone who uses Memory to think about tactics in previous fights in order to gain an Edge from Analytical Mind. They're not really doing anything.. and their motivation for doing it will be purely to gain the Edge point.. but only because that's all the system has to model the benefit of doing so. Is this reasonable or not?

Also, here's the examples given:

quote:

For example, players might attempt to aim their weapon at an innocent passerby to stack up on the Edge they might gain from targeting such a person, or they might try to take multiple looks at something that isn’t a real opponent when they have better vision than them in an effort to stack up extra Edge.

There are actions for Take Aim and Observe In Detail, but neither of them actually grant Edge. There is a rule that that if you're fighting in an area where visibility gives one side an advantage, then the side with the advantage gets a point of Edge, once. Yes, this means that if two ordinary humans are fighting in a pitch black room, it makes absolutely no difference, since neither has an advantage. It also means that if you have night vision and you turn off the lights in order to fight the other guy who doesn't, that's borderline Edge abuse, because after all you did it just to get Edge, right? Ugh.

(No, let's not even get into the question of how characters in the game world perceive having or not having Edge..)

Ambidextrous removes the penalty which normally says you can't gain or lose Edge when attacking with an off-hand weapon. However, this isn't as useful as it sounds, because it only applies when you're only attacking with an off-hand weapon (because your primary hand has been chopped off, for example); if you're using two weapons, the rules that apply are completely different and don't take account of which weapon is in which hand.

Aptitude we've already mentioned; it lets you raise your skills by one rank higher than the standard cap.

Astral Chameleon ties into the magic system. Essentially, when you do magic on something, you leave behind an "astral signature", which experienced mages can recognize. This gives other people "-2 on tests" (presumably -2 dice? Normally this would be a threshold modifier, but then -2 would make it easier) to recognize your astral signature. This would be good if there were actually any rules for tests to recognize someone's astral signature. There's rules for seeing that a signature is present, but not for identifying whose it is.

Blandness means you're so normal that people have trouble remembering you, and "the threshold on tests to notice if you are following or observing them is increased by 1" (of course that would be an opposed test, which technically means it doesn't have a threshold, but given the mess so far we can forgive that). If you get anything that makes you no longer be bland, you lose this quality, making it a terrible deal.

Built Tough gives you extra hit points. Whadya want?

Dermal Deposits means you have calciferous deposits growing on or through your flesh, which gives you "1 level of natural Armor". There is nothing about "levels of Armor" anywhere in the book, and only one mention of "natural Armor" in a side paragraph in the NPCs section. What it means is that it gives you +1 Defense Rating, which is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard, as we saw before. It also adds a whole +1 to your unarmed damage.

But it also triggers another problem. See, these calciferous deposits.. well, what are they? Are you a mutant of some kind? If you're a mutant, does that come across in DNA tests? Remember, having cyberware makes you harder to heal even by the same surgeons who install and maintain cyberware, but apparently having a bizarre mutation doesn't? It's even more confusing if you remember you can buy this in play.

Exceptional is Aptitude for Attributes. It increases the maximum cap for stat by one point per level.

First Impression is another one that gives you Edge - in this case, when you first meet someone - but it also means this meeting ignores your Reputation and Heat ratings, which as you would probably guess are measures of your tendency to cause mayhem and have it noticed by the authorities. While Heat is never a good thing, Reputation can be positive, so you can be so good at making a first impression that the person you're talking to completely forgets you're a national hero.

Focused Concentration lets you "sustain multiple spells without penalty". This is a rather strange one, since the concentration penalty they're talking about is -2 to all your dice pools per spell.. for doing anything while sustaining any number of spells - it doesn't have to be multiple. So does one level of this mean you can keep one spell up at no penalty, or does it mean that two spells would give the same penalty as one? Who knows.

High Pain Tolerance reduces the dice pool penalties for being wounded, which are normally -1 to all pools for every 3 HP or nonlethal HP you've lost, by 1 point. Cool.

Human-Looking lets a non-human metatype look human at first glance, and gives them a bonus to hide their metatype. It costs 8 karma which is more than balanced out by the free bonuses you get for not being human, so this is just screwing humans even further.

Indomitable is another Edge one, but instead of giving Edge points, it "lowers the cost of Edge Boosts by 1 on tests involving Willpower". We'll go through all the Edge Boosts when we meet the combat system, but we'll stop briefly to mention that the book says that Edge Actions can't have their cost reduced to 0, but no such rule about Edge Boosts.

Long Reach: when you're using a melee weapon, your Close range (which is the only one you can use melee weapons in) is 5 metres instead of 3. Note that it does say when using a weapon, so unarmed strikes don't count. Also note that it doesn't matter for reach purposes whether the actual weapon is a Swiss Army knife or a polearm. (What? Yes, there are polearms. There aren't 10 different kinds, mind you.)

Low-Light Vision: you can see in any light level other than total darkness. The flavor text explicitly says that this can be due to "an implanted increase of rod cells or an augmentation", but it doesn't cost Essence.

Magic Resistance is yet another one that gives you Edge when someone casts a spell on you, except it also screws you over by subtracting 2 from your Essence for the purpose of being healed by magic.

Mentor Spirit means that you've connected with a powerful spirit that helps you do magic - although awkwardly the fact that you have to have magic to take this Quality isn't listed in the text, and in fact the mentor spirits have bonuses that are specifically available to people without magic, so god knows. Guess what they do? If you said they give you Edge, well, A for effort, but no; they lower the cost of Edge Boosts, same way as Indomitable. They also give you a unique disadvantage. Oh, go on then:

Bear boosts resisting damage and Healing spells but gives you a chance to, when you or an ally is injured, not heal them but instead go berserk attacking them.
Cat boosts Athletics, Stealth, and Illusion spells but you have to make a test at the start of combat to be allowed to actually incapacitate your target before it deals Physical damage to you. Let's hope you somehow magically know when your attack would incapacitate them.
Coyote boosts Con and Manipulation spells but you have to make a test to avoid pulling tricks and pranks even if it's to the disadvantage of your friends. You will get shot by your own team. Next.
Dog boosts Outdoors and Detection spells but has to make a test to leave anyone behind or betray their buddies. Since most players play their PCs like this anyway, I can't see a lot of disadvantage here.
Dragon Slayer.. huh? Anyway, it's the mythic hero archetype. Boosts Influence and Combat spells, but gives a -1 to all actions if you ever break a promise, until you make good on it. I hope nothing's happened like, say, the person you made the promise to being killed.
Eagle boosts Perception and Air Summoning spells and gives you a mild allergy to "pollutants". We shall explore allergies further down.
Fire Bringer boosts Engineering or Enchanting, and Manipulation spells, and means you have to roll to avoid honouring someone's sincere request for help. Again, probably what most PCs do anyway. Hope you don't get asked to help two people who want opposite things!
Mountain boosts Outdoors and Counterspelling, but has to make a roll to.. abandon a planned course of action no matter how badly things are going. Have you ever read the CLUE files? It's a (probably 90% false) set of Shadowrun player horror stories, and this seems to be making an excuse for more.
Rat boosts Stealth and Enchanting spells but has to make a roll to not flee combat whenever it starts. Rat is an rear end in a top hat. You will get shot by your own team and dumped next to the Coyote guy. Next.
Sea boosts Con and Illusion spells and you have to roll to avoid pursuing vices when they're available, which in most cities they always are.
Shark boosts Close Combat and Combat spells and has the same berserk rule as Bear except it actually makes sense for them.
Snake gives you two free Knowledge skills and boosts Detection spells, but you have to roll to avoid pursuing secrets. Yay, you rolled high and didn't take the plot hook!
Thunderbird boosts Influence and Air Summoning and has to roll to avoid "responding to an insult in kind". So.. with another insult? Never knew that majestic storm birds were known for zingers.
Wise Warrior boosts Influence and Combat spells and gives -1 to all dice pools if you act dishonourably. Wise Warrior owns a trenchcoat and a katana.
Wolf boosts Counterspelling and Combat spells and has to roll to retreat from a fight.

.. Oh, and the text also says "if you fail to keep aligned with one of these tenets, you lose your connection and all associated bonuses" but there aren't actually any "tenets" clearly listed in the Mentor Spirit sections other than the fluff introductions of the spirits. Does this mean to say that you can ignore the Disadvantage, but at the cost of losing the mentor? Huh.

Quick Healer doubles your natural healing rate.

Thermographic Vision means you can see heat sources in total darkness, but apparently not less than total darkness, so if there's only dim light then you're kinda stuck.

Will To Live increases the amount of damage you can take over your HP total before permadeath. It gives twice as many effective HP as Built Tough.. oh, but look, it's also twice the price. So there's pretty much no reason to take this over that.

And that's the positives. Now we have the negatives; aka, excuses for gaining Karma points.

AR Vertigo, Bad Rep, Distinctive Style, Honorbound, Loss of Confidence, Prejudice, Scorched, Simsense Vertigo, Social Stress, Uncouth, Uneducated, Unsteady Hands and Weak Immune System are all the evil twins of the positive qualities that give you Edge points: they prevent you spending or gaining Edge points in certain situations. Sometimes you get a roll to not be affected.

Addiction: if you don't get a hit of whatever-it-is at certain regular intervals, you go into withdrawal and can't gain or spend Edge and take a steadily increasing penalty to everything. No, you never get better by going cold turkey, and if you don't take Addiction out of the gate, there are no rules for getting addicted to any drug.

Allergy: you're allergic to something. The bonus depends on how allergic you are (in terms of a universal dice pool penalty) and how common the allergen is. For some reason it appears to be a tradition that the sample characters in Shadowrun have ridiculous allergies; for example, almost all the sample characters in Fourth Edition were allergic to gold. Sixth Edition also continues with that, giving us a combat magician and a technomancer both allergic to grass, a decker allergic to dairy, a weapon specialist allergic to strawberries, and this charming lady:



The street shaman, who they chose to be represented by this art, is allergic to insect stings. I mean, you couldn't make it up. (And no, it's not a nice bit of irony for someone who can control insects to be allergic to them, because she can't control regular insects. What you're seeing there is Summoning Spirits of Beasts, which lets you summon animals of any kind. So she could choose the type of animal she got, and she chose the one she's allergic to.)

Astral Beacon ruins any attempts you make at being stealthy in the astral plane or avoiding magic tracking.

Bad Luck screws you completely by making 2's on your dice count towards glitches on your dice, but fortunately you can't critical glitch unless half of your dice were 1's.

Combat Paralysis knocks your initiative in half and makes you act last in the first round of combat. And no, you can't get around this by messing with Delay actions, because there is no Delay action; so if you happen to get freak rolls and everyone goes before the guy who was going to kick open the door, you have to sit there like lemons for the entire round while the people behind the door shoot your buddy.

Dependants means you have to give up a certain proportion of all income to people you look after.

Elf Poser and Ork Poser both do the same thing: you want to be a different metatype, and you're trying to fit in with them, so Elves, Orks, and Trolls get a point of Edge on Influence/Etiquette tests (!) made to fit in with you! One specific specialization? Really? This is worth the same as Gremlins below! Also, "Poser" seems a bit harsh. It's easy to make jokes about otherkin, but this is a world where those other species do exist and are sentient and have cultures, so wanting to be one seems a lot more reasonable. Oh, and it seems that no-one wants to be a Dwarf.

Glass Jaw lowers your nonlethal HP.

Gremlins, as mentioned above.. means that tech doesn't like you. Any time you use a device, you roll 2d6, and if either dice comes up 1, it goes wrong. That's 30% of the time! What a lovely disadvantage to have in a cyberpunk game. And it costs the same as being a metatype poser and making it easier for the people you like to impress you with their etiquette!

Impaired is the opposite of Exceptional; it lowers your maximum attribute cap. Which means that if you're taking any dump attributes (which you probably are), you can cash in twice - once by not putting points into them, and once again by getting Karma for lowering the maximum to reflect that you don't need to put points in them.

Incompetent is the worse opposite of Aptitude; it means you can never take ranks in a skill. You can't choose it for a skill that you can't use, so you can't be incompetent at Sorcery if you have no magical ability, but you can - say - be incompetent at piloting because the other guy's the driver.

In Debt is an odd one. Instead of giving you Karma back, it affects the ability to trade Karma for cash - which only happens at character generation; each point of Karma you trade for cash gets you 5000 nuyen instead of the normal 2000, but you owe someone that 5000 (not the extra 3000) with interest. Probably only for the desperate. Great way to screw up a one-shot game, though.

Insomnia: each day, you have to make a roll to see how well you slept; if you fail, you can't get more than 2 Edge from any source or spend more than 2 Edge on a single roll. Probably representative enough, I guess, but a bit weird.. and it also only gives 4 Karma.

Low Pain Tolerance doubles all your wound penalties.

Sensitive System doubles all Essence costs for cyberware. And tellingly.. "you cannot have this quality if you have a Magic or Resonance rating". Whyever would that be? Why, it wouldn't be because magic provides an Essence-loss free route to gaining most of the benefits of cyberware, would it?

Sinner doesn't mean you're guilty of breaking commandments, because pretty much every Shadowrunner is. It means you have a legitimate System Identification Number that actually connects to the real you and, for whatever reason, you don't want to wipe it like most do. You have to pay extra tax, and you're easier to track, giving people Edge every time they try to trace you.

And finaly, Spirit Bane means that certain types of spirit hate you, and not only do they gain edge against you but they relentlessly attack you whenever they get the chance. At least the Karma award, 12, is a bit more proportional.

Before we close character generation for the moment, there's two other little things to talk about. The first is one of the more classical examples of Shadowrun cheese and wonky design. You'll notice that one of the options for being a magic user is being an Adept. This is a mage who uses their magic entirely to power up their own body without casting any spells, sort of like the guy at the beginning of Doctor Strange. If you're an Adept, for every point of Magic you get you also get a Power Point, which you can spend on superpowers. One of these is Improved Physical Attribute which gives you a permanent passive bonus to one of the Physical attributes equal to the number of power points invested. The limit is.. well..

quote:

The maximum boost to the attribute is 1.5 times the current level or the augmented maximum, whichever is lower.

I presume that's supposed to mean the maximum boosted value of the attribute, not the maximum boost which would mean you could boost your 6 Body by 6*1.5 = 9 points up to 15. But either way, you've probably just spotted that this gives you an excuse to launder Magic or Adjustment points into Attribute points that break your metatype maximum and then never mention the fact that your PC is an Adept again. 4th Edition had a bit of designer pique about this (along the lines of "the GM should ensure you actually play the character as an Adept", but not what that actually meant) but 6th Edition just gives up.

Finally, Wealth, and Gear. I'm not going to go through all the Gear at this point; we'll have to do it as we reach the systems. At character generation, you gain a number of starting nuyen based on the priority you gave Wealth, plus any you want to trade Karma for, and can then buy equipment with it, provided it is not "illegal gear with a rating of 7 or higher".

Helpfully this does not specify which rating is referred to, but presumably it means availability rating (which, paradoxically, is actually a rarity rating - higher means harder to get). Plus, there are two definitions of illegal in the Gear chapter: generally illegal, and illegal without a license. So are the licensed ones "illegal" by the rules definition, or do you have to buy a license, or can you just buy the licensed ones freely?

Assuming the latter, there are exactly four pieces of Gear in the entire book which are illegal and have an Availability rating of 7 or higher: the Farlight Excalibur (a high-powered cyberdeck), and three versions of nerve gas. Everything else is fair game. Want a huge machine gun, a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, a brace of high-explosive grenades? No problem. The text does say that the hardest items to get are advanced experimental versions of cyberware, which have increased Availability ratings.. except that most of them aren't illegal, just licensed. So you can have an advanced military experimental sub-machine gun grafted onto your arm right out of the gate.

So. Huh. Next time we'll actually try and get onto the main body of the combat system and finally come to the uses of Edge. (Either that or try to go through the goofy sample characters, but reverse-engineering the character generation system in this game might be too much for my brain at the moment.)

hyphz fucked around with this message at 00:37 on Oct 9, 2019

psudonym55
Nov 22, 2014


Has any edition of Shadowrun fixed the problem with having to sit there and watch your hackers hack things for 30 min to 1hr without being able to do anything?
My main memories of Shadowrun was that happening a lot.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




psudonym55 posted:

Has any edition of Shadowrun fixed the problem with having to sit there and watch your hackers hack things for 30 min to 1hr without being able to do anything?
My main memories of Shadowrun was that happening a lot.

I find the hacking in 5th ed to be fine. You get marks and then you can do things, though I agree that you should just be able to do the things right off the bat.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


hyphz posted:

Allergy: you're allergic to something. The bonus depends on how allergic you are (in terms of a universal dice pool penalty) and how common the allergen is. For some reason it appears to be a tradition that the sample characters in Shadowrun have ridiculous allergies; for example, almost all the sample characters in Fourth Edition were allergic to gold. Sixth Edition also continues with that, giving us a combat magician and a technomancer both allergic to grass, a decker allergic to dairy, a weapon specialist allergic to strawberries, and this charming lady:



The street shaman, who they chose to be represented by this art, is allergic to insect stings. I mean, you couldn't make it up.

To be fair, if I was deathly allergic to insect stings, but could learn the ability to control insects, I would. Good way to avoid getting accidentally stung.

Allergic to gold, though, really? Is that even a thing?
edit: apparently it is! Who knew.

Prism fucked around with this message at 20:26 on Oct 8, 2019

Poil
Mar 17, 2007


Uh.... I thought associating with insects as a mage isn't usually a good idea in Shadowrun. Sure you might not be an insect shaman but if you constantly throw around bug swarms people might not believe you don't.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




Ah yes, the SR premade characters. None of which were built using the character generation system or actually playable as I recall. Also that allergy choice just reeks of "Well I need at least one disadvantage".

I hate the SR disadvantages in general. Either pointless or just generally mean spirited.

Also I knew the SR6 book was badly edited but man, this is kinda amazing at how inconsistent things are.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


Prism posted:

To be fair, if I was deathly allergic to insect stings, but could learn the ability to control insects, I would. Good way to avoid getting accidentally stung.

Allergic to gold, though, really? Is that even a thing?
edit: apparently it is! Who knew.

Which would be cool if true, but she doesn't actually have the power to control insects. She has the ability to summon Beast Spirits, which she can choose to be insects, but could also choose to be literally anything else she's not allergic to.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I don't think you CAN be allergic to gold. It's like titanium, biology just kind of frowns at it and either leaves it there or throws it in the colon.

I mean biologically, obviously, you can definitely get a magic allergy to gold.

What's the issue with insect shamans in Shadowrun? Bugs seem like a robust choice for spiritual connection in general.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

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


They are kind of tied into the great big gribbly monsters that exist outside of space that want to come in and eat everything. Insects in general are kind of like an early warning sign for the Gribblies.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Insect spirits are uniquely horrifying and monstrous in a way that no other spirit is for Reasons.

Among other things, they ate Chicago.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Tuxedo Catfish posted:

Insect spirits are uniquely horrifying and monstrous in a way that no other spirit is for Reasons.

Among other things, they ate Chicago.
I see, so it's like insect spirits:Shadowrun::socialists:most RPG writers.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I'd love to know what the actual lore behind the bugs is, because I remember them mentioned in Earthdawn in passing, they were a loving pushover in Queen Euphoria, and then went on to become Challenging poo poo for your Advanced Runners.

Also they're ten thousand years early, according to some immortal elf or another.

Though possessing entities setting up a Scientology-alike cult was a cute gimmick.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


I forgot about the insect spirit thing. And I didn't know

hyphz posted:

Which would be cool if true, but she doesn't actually have the power to control insects. She has the ability to summon Beast Spirits, which she can choose to be insects, but could also choose to be literally anything else she's not allergic to.

That bit at all.

Nessus posted:

I don't think you CAN be allergic to gold. It's like titanium, biology just kind of frowns at it and either leaves it there or throws it in the colon.

I thought that too, but I did a quick look and apparently you can be, though it's a minor thing (the primary people investigating it are dermatologists). You are right in that gold does not really cause any problems when ingested.

Edit: It also appears to be gold sodium thiosulfate that causes the reaction rather than pure gold, which would be fine - it's just that you get that in gold-plated items or impure gold.

Prism fucked around with this message at 21:59 on Oct 8, 2019

Razakai
Sep 15, 2007

People are afraid
To merge on the freeway
Disappear here


SPHERES OF MIGHT: Part 5





Equipment is effectively how SoM handles proficiencies and those general feats that every martial has to grab. Anything that didn't really fit into another sphere goes here. So while it's a bit plain, every single character is going to grab a few talents here. When you learn the sphere you don't get any base abilities, but grab a single talent for free.

There's a ton of general talents here and most are quite dull (albeit useful) so I'll give a quick overview. You can get armor proficiency, shield proficiency, weapon finesse+Dex to damage as a talent, improve your reload time with crossbows and guns, fire additional arrows when you fire a bow, get a bonus to AC when unarmored or with a free offhand, bounce your throwing weapons off stuff, deal precision damage with crossbows and guns... there's a lot of useful stuff here for just about anyone.

Discipline talents give a group of associated proficiencies, and sometimes a small bonus. For example Knightly Training gives proficiency with 'knight' like weapons such as lance, longsword etc, and reduces the AC penalty when you charge. Or Huntsman Training gives most ranged weapons, axes, and reduces the penalty from firing at a distance.

Legendary talents are also relatively plain, except for Get Over Here! It does exactly what you think.

Rather than having to burn talents on Equipment, all SoM classes get a Martial Tradition. I mentioned this earlier, but can explain in a bit more detail now. Every tradition consists of 4 talents - this usually gives 1-2 Equipment talents, 1-2 associated spheres, and 1 sphere of your choice. For example the Bushido Warrior tradition gives Armor Training (so you can wear medium/heavy armor), Bushido Training (katanas and so on), the Duelist sphere, and either Beastmastery(Ride) or Duelist(Draw Cut). Note that no SoM class gets anything beyond basic weapon and light armor proficiencies at the most. It's a neat way to customize your character, and the book states that you can make up your own traditions within reason as long as they stick to the 4 talent rule.





Fencing is a fantastic sphere. This is your feinting/duelist(but not Duelist)/sneak attack/swashbuckler sorta sphere and covers a lot of themes, as well as having a ton of synergies.
You start off with Fatal Thrust, which is basically Bad Sneak Attack. You deal +1d6 damage, +1d6 more at 5 BAB and higher to anything that meets the Sneak Attack criteria. Not great, but free damage. Only works with the attack action and AoO though. You also get training in Bluff, so you can feint in order to actually land your Fatal Thrust.

Exploit talents are effects you can apply 1 of when you make a Fatal Thrust. You can make a free steal, disarm or trip - the free disarm in particular is very powerful with Duelist. You can Fatal Thrust(Disarm), which bleeds so you can Hurricane Strike, expend focus to trigger Swift Slice to make a AoO which again triggers Fatal Thrust+bleed, which lets you Leg Cutter to prone them, which lets you ...And Stay Down! for another AoO... this all relies on landing your disarms etc, but still, you get some ridiculous attack+debuff chains going.
Aside from that you can apply penalties to attack rolls, movement, AC, damage reduction, pretty much everything. It's a good set of debuffs here.

General talents focus on supporting Feint plus some utilities. Fast Feint lets you Feint as a move action, and lets you expend focus to move after feinting. Feint Strike lets you make a swift action attack after Feinting. Expert Feint makes Feint last until the start of your next turn rather than just one attack. And Unlikely Feint lets you Feint unintelligent and animal targets at a penalty. Combined, you can Feint as a move action against any target, making them vulnerable for the entire turn to your Fatal Thrust and also getting a free attack. Very nice.
Skewer lets you expend focus to double your Fatal Thrust damage and apply a second Exploit. Pretty good burst.
Parry and Riposte lets you expend focus + an AoO to parry attacks and counterattack, which is a pretty good defense if you're confident in your +hit bonus.
Verbal Feint lets you trash talk enemies and therefore feint at range. Useful for ranged attackers when combined with Death From Afar that lets you Fatal Thrust at range. Hopefully your GM doesn't force you to come up with a new insult every time.
There's also a few mobility and control tricks - extending your range, forcing targets to move in a direction of your choosing, chasing after enemies that try to step away, all small bonuses but quite handy.

Legendary talents include Master of Deception, which causes your feint to apply confusion. This gives a pretty good chance for enemies to waste their turn and it's totally free, so pretty good.
Parry Anything lets you parry spells. More ways to bully mages!
Master of Words is intriguing. It allows you to use Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate interchangeably. The actual usefulness of this I'm not sure about, but I guess you could pump one skill sky-high and just rely on it for everything? Swap Diplomacy for Intimidate and scare the king into giving you a better reward! Swap Bluff with Intimidate - everyone knows you're lying, but they're far too scared to do anything about it. This does require 3 different spheres though so it's a painful set of requirements.

So overall a really good sphere. It covers everything from your traditional backstabbing rogue to the archetypical fencer/duelist, but can be used by just about anyone who wants a bit of precision damage and can meet the requirements. It has incredible synergy with Duelist, so combining the two will give you a highly effective and entertaining fighter. Free Bluff is just the cherry on top, so you even get some passable non-combat usage.





Speaking of Intimidate in the last sphere, we come to the sphere focusing on it. Gladiator is about showboating and scaring people. Intimidate tactics have been a mainstay of Pathfinder martials for a while, and so this can be a good sphere to build around.
Your initial talent is Boast, which lets you perform a boast as an immediate action after you crit, kill an enemy or succeed on a maneuver. By default you get Prowess, which gives you 5E style advantage on your next hit. If you can't make use of immediates, it's not a bad move, but as you'll see we can do better. You also get Strike Fear, which lets you expend focus as a full round action to demoralize everyone in 30 ft, or take a penalty to do so without expending focus. Demoralization by default is just a -2 to most rolls, but we'll get a lot of ways to take advantage of it. You also get ranks in Intimidate for free!

Boast talents replace your Prowess boast, and many of them are superior.
Bloodthirst lets you make a free attack. Simple, but an effective way to get immediate action attacks. Not as good as the sphere-specific ones generally, but it's easy to use.
Exemplar gives the Prowess effect to all allies nearby, which is pretty good in a martial heavy party.
Inspiring Pose lets you flex hard enough to cure effects from your allies - everything from poison to supernatural charm. the power of swole compels you

Demoralization talents interact with your intimidate effects in a variety of ways.
Piercing Fear gets around those pesky immunities by letting you expend focus to bypass immunity. Kinda required for most campaigns.
Coward's Bane gives you 5E-advantage on your first attack per round vs a demoralized target which is kinda nuts considering SoM characters typically make 1 big attack per round.
Cow Enemy lets you demoralize as a swift action - good for action economy, but the talent Cornugon Smash lets you demoralize as a free action, so probably better if you can qualify for it.
Frightful is how you turn your fighter into a wizard-tier debuffer. By taking penalties on the Intimidate check, you can instead apply frighten (enemy must flee if possible), or panicked (enemy just cowers helplessly). Combine with Piercing Fear and Strike Fear, and if you can stack enough +Intimidate you can open fights by reducing everything in sight to a quivering wreck that you can coup de grace at your leisure. Move over Sleep and Hold Person!
Master of Fear makes this even easier by letting you Strike Fear without using focus, and reducing it to a standard action. Follow up with Punish the Meek which makes your attacks extend fear duration and you can easily fearlock stuff infinitely.

Aura of Fear is a fun legendary talent that gives you a dragon-style auto-fear. Stuff that fails multiple rolls gain increasingly nasty fear effects, although it only works vs equal or lower level stuff so not great vs bosses.
Speaking of non-boss talents, Burn the Chaff causes melee hits vs feared targets that are 1/2 your level to be autocrits that trigger a save or die. Pretty niche, but fun for mowing down hordes of mooks.
Nightmare Fuel lets you expend focus to permanently fear a target. If the target is aware you're within 60 feet it becomes automatically shaken, and this can only be removed by medium to high level spells. Not exactly useful in combat, but a hilarious fluff move. Annoying recurring npc you can't murder? Nightmare Fuel them and become their personal boogeyman.

So Gladiator is pretty laser focused on being spooky, but that's a great niche what with the ability to bypass immunities. Going all-in lets you end fights without even swinging a weapon, and a light investment gives a decent debuff. Boasts aren't amazing, but they're a useful bonus if you don't have much to do with your swift actions. Definitely a good choice.

Next up: Guardian, Lancer, Open Hand

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



I don't think it's fair to criticize SR 6e for having completely garbage pregen characters without mentioning that the pregens in every single edition are hot garbage too.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




I thought the pregens in SR2E were cool and those glossy full color pages are why I bought the book in the first place.

Of course I was about 12 years old at the time.

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012



Bieeanshee posted:

I'd love to know what the actual lore behind the bugs is, because I remember them mentioned in Earthdawn in passing, they were a loving pushover in Queen Euphoria, and then went on to become Challenging poo poo for your Advanced Runners.

Also they're ten thousand years early, according to some immortal elf or another.

Though possessing entities setting up a Scientology-alike cult was a cute gimmick.

They are inhabitants of some other world, which always has a bit more magic than ours.

Generally, too much magic is a bad thing, because Horrors – eldritch monstrosities that feed by destruction – need a lot of it to survive. When its level rises, Earth becomes accessible to them. Because invae's world has more magic, they usually pass through, which causes a swarm of insect refugees go where the invaders can't (yet) survive. This is why their appearance is really bad news – it means that even worse poo poo is not that far away.

ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




wiegieman posted:

Just God, bigger than all the other Gods, not a big deal.

is this the lady of pain argument 2.0

Drakli
Jan 28, 2004
Goblin-Friend

Joe Slowboat posted:


But if there's a Machine, cryptids being a waste product makes sense. (Just like, if the Supernal exists in your game of Chronicles, then a lot of things in human history are intertwined with the rise and descent of symbols in the platonic overworld, and you can assume that all the goings-on of other supernatural lines must in the end have some Supernal resonance, because the Supernal is literally the base code for everything that's not Abyss).

No, it makes sense. If you have a Divine Apparatus running through the Earth, venting off magic fumes, a lot of the weirder wildlife is likely to be magic-waste mutants.

What I find unexpected is that the God Machine itself is a default assumption of the World of Darkness and its weirdness. Even sample vampires and werewolves aren't in the Core Rulebook, but the Eternal Combustion Engine is.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





That's because 2e was originally a campaign about the God-Machine bundled with a bunch of rule updates.

It evolved into a second edition, but the initial piece was "The God-Machine Chronicles" - a standalone expansion with new rules ideas and this fancy new horror monster based on a fan favorite concept from earlier books. It was almost 'The Mothman Chronicles' which is wild to think about.

Really in practice the Machine is only overbearing in the core GM Chronicles/2e book, and also Demon. Since the other 2e books contain their own statement of the core rules (except Demon and... maybe Vampire 2? iDK) the blue book content isn't vital.

It's a weird, historically contingent set of decisions but I don't think the Machine is quite as overbearing in practice as it would appear from 'the core features it heavily.'

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Gladiator sphere almost makes me want to play Pathfinder again, dang. Just strut into the room, rip off your sleeves, and flex at the lich until he breaks down crying tears of dust and begging for mercy.

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



Joe Slowboat posted:

Really in practice the Machine is only overbearing in the core GM Chronicles/2e book, and also Demon. Since the other 2e books contain their own statement of the core rules (except Demon and... maybe Vampire 2? iDK) the blue book content isn't vital.

And even the Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook silos the God-Machine content off into a separate section of the book, a "God-Machine Chronicle" in the same sense that Vampire Second Edition has a "Strix Chronicle:" a signature antagonist you can use if you want a particular focus and don't have one on your own.

The first half of the CofD Rulebook provides storytelling advice and everything for games that don't involve the God-Machine, including rules for miscellaneous unrelated monsters and supernatural entities.

CofD has had a lot of first-impression missteps. The second edition ruleset coming out with a God-Machine Chronicle shortly before the release of Demon: the Descent makes the God-Machine sound like a bigger deal than it is. If you actually read, like, the Vampire Second Edition book, the Werewolf and Promethean and Mage books, the Hurt Locker blue-book supplement, the God-Machine appears in those books approximately as much as Changeling's Hedge does, or Geist's Underworld.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Nessus posted:

What's the issue with insect shamans in Shadowrun? Bugs seem like a robust choice for spiritual connection in general.

aside from everything else, insect spirits want to consume the soul of their shaman and then pilot the empty shell around like a meat puppet. they then use said meat puppet to capture other magically sensitive people and hollow them out and stuff more insect spirits into them, ad infinitum

they're completely uninterested in using metahumans as anything other than food or breeding stock. they can't be reasoned with or negotiated with and they have no interest in diplomacy or learning to live within the rules of our society. they're basically an alien life form that realized it can hide itself inside humans to avoid a worse fate in their home dimension, like someone had 'the thing' explained to them in really broad strokes and then tried to take that rough idea and turn it into an antagonist faction

in-universe they managed to consume the souls of so many people in chicago that the UCAS dropped several magical nukes on the city, writing it off as an acceptable loss to contain the problem. the only reason they haven't completely scoured human life from the globe is that each variety of insect spirit (ants, wasps, mantis, beetles, etc.) hate each other only slightly more than they desire to enslave humanity, so they're just as likely to drop whatever nefarious plans they were working on to declare total war against an enemy insect colony they discovered in the next zip code.

to clarify the earlier statement: if you have any magical powers at all, the very last thing you ever want to do is use them to do anything that even has a whiff of insect possession. summoning a swarm of insects just for funsies is likely to get everyone in the room to immediately turn their weapons on you, even if you aren't being particularly threatening

Freaking Crumbum fucked around with this message at 03:11 on Oct 9, 2019

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Perhaps the same could be said of all religions!

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



They use live (meta)-humans as the substrate with which to bring more insect spirits from their home to this world. The hive species want to bring a lot of other insect spirits through.

Insect shamanism, along with blood magic, is one of the few things that will make everyone in the room stop shooting each other so they can all shoot you instead.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

They used a real nuke along with mystical nukes (The Cermak Blast) in Chicago to squash a major hive, then walled up the city and set up a freefire zone around it to kill any survivors that tried to escape. People in the know in the SR Universe will use anything and everything to go after Insect Spirits and gently caress the collateral damage.

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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





Merry Ghostmas, have some zombies! I’m overworked and I stare at my computer as I desperately wait for social media to update when I’m not working so I think a more productive creative project will be a better outlet! Plus, it’s October and I’ll probably never resume covering every single AFMBE book so here’s one of my favorites!

In all seriousness this is one of my favorite AFMBE books. Worlds of the Dead is a wonderfully weird book that’s perfect for the F&F treatment because it’s absolutely light on the mechanics. Worlds of the Dead is just a collection of premade Deadworlds (various alternate realities that have zombie outbreaks as a lynchpin) for a GM looking for inspiration, a one-shot or a campaign. Some of them are pretty meh but as a whole I enjoy most of them. They just go all over the drat place in idea and I love it.

Plus, the nice thing about talking about them is that I don’t have to go too deep into the weeds. They’re barely over 15 pages apiece, ish, and that’s including stats for the various zombies and players. This time I’m probably going to cut out the stat blocks in addition to the lore/in-character slash setting intros (which I will forever tout as being the highlight of these books). I want to relax a little and be more informal/less in-depth and discuss/criticize what we’re looking at. I’m also going to include a one-sentence summary before getting into the real meat of the Deadworld if you just want to skim and not read further.

So without further ado and fanfare, Worlds of the Dead!

ACES HIGH: WORLD WAR I

Summary: In 1917, the Red Baron becomes a revenant leading a squadron of damned fighter pilots.


Unfortunately, the summary kind of speaks for the entire scenario. After his mentor dies in battle, Manfred “The Red Baron” von Richthofen takes control of his aerial unit. Wracked by guilt over his mentor’s death, The Red Baron makes a vow to serve Germany even in death. His plane is eventually shot to pieces in a skirmish and goes down in a tailspin. Before the Allied pilots can confirm the kill, the rest of the unit chase them away. A sweep of the area where his plane went down doesn’t find the plane and the Allied conclude that The Red Baron managed to make the landing and get to safety.

But, no. He really did die. His vow mixed with his will causes something to get back up out of the wreckage and command his destroyed plane to reconstruct itself. The reborn Red Baron flies back to Germany and tells his horrified superiors “yeah I died but, uh, I made a promise I’m gonna go keep. Well. Bye!” and flies right back to the front.

The Flying Circus, lead by the Red Baron, continues its assault on the Allied forces because the Central Powers really do not want to try to stop him. Because they’re not stopping him, the Baron’s got his own necromantic scheme going. Each unit of the Circus has 12 pilots for a total of 48 pilots across 4 units (including the Baron). He inducts living members into the Circus and when they die in battle, he brings them back as a revenant like him. However, his undead pilots can be destroyed, whereupon a new living pilot takes the finally-dead one’s place. Rinse, repeat.

Note how I said his pilots can be destroyed. The Red Baron can’t. Nobody has been successful in shooting his plane down a second time, which creates a sizable problem when he can just keep refilling his ranks.

Also, off-handedly mentioned is the fact that the Germans have found Victor Frankenstein’s notes and are using them to kickstart a zombie army. Put a pin in this idea for later; it’ll come up again in other scenarios but this is just barely mentioned here in an attempt to pad the setting out a bit.

There’re a few sample ideas for adventures in this world which amount to: playing as fighter pilots using hexes and figures, trying to stop the production of zombie soldiers as Allied special forces in Switzerland and playing as spies to figure out the Baron’s weakness. From here it explains the weakness and…treats it as a metaplot thing…yeahhhhhhhh. “Whether the Cast is allowed to find this out or not, the Red Baron is invincible until his destiny comes to pass.” No, c’mon, please, don’t do this. Bad game designer.

In real life there’s debate about who exactly killed the Red Baron. Aerial dogfights aren’t a place for precision answers in service of who killed who. Forensic evidence has actually even proven that the Red Baron wasn’t killed by another fighter pilot but by someone on the ground shooting up. In this Deadworld, the one who can kill the Red Baron is the ghost of his 79th victim, the ghost of Richard Raymond-Barker. RRB’s ghost wanders the trenches and no-man’s lands until the day he sees the Red Baron flying overhead and seizes his destiny (and a nearby mounted machine gun) to shoot him down before passing on to his eternal rest. And, canonically in this Deadworld, nobody wants to admit that a ghost killed him so they give credit to the man commonly credited with killing him (from a plane, even though [gestures up at the forensics]), Arthur Brown.

The rest of this installment are zombie stats and stats for World War I airplanes in case you do want to model aerial battles.

HOW THE ZOMBIES WORK

Depends on the zombie. If they’re one of the Baron’s hand-raised men, they’ve got human/above-human attributes, damage resistance, the ability to sense life, a bevy of skills (including speech) and heightened strength. They also have the supernatural ability to coordinate with each other in the air without speaking or indicating commands. They don’t need any form of sustenance but they can’t make more of themselves. They also don’t have weak spots, so depleting their health through sustained damage is enough to put them down.

If they’re zombies raised from the Frankenstein techniques, they’re still pretty intimidating. They move quickly, they’re trained in fighting, they’re pretty strong, they sense life, they’re smart and they also have damage resistance. Their big weakness is the limited amount of skills they have (though they do have language) and the fact that despite their resistance they’re destroyed through health damage. They also don’t reproduce or need any nourishment. The only thing that makes more Uber Soldats is the reanimation technique being used in specialized preparation centers to bolster the ranks of the zombie army.

THOUGHTS

I like this Deadworld…with some caveats. First, okay, sure, have the Red Baron only be killed by the ghost of whatshisname. That’s okay. But the entire adventure absolutely has to be a limited campaign of the PCs figuring out how to beat him and maneuver the ghost where it needs to be. Otherwise it’s kind of just a boring one-shot of doing whatever while an invincible undead fighter pilot runs around karate-chopping people out of the sky. “Possible other adventures” in this scenario nothing. Stick with that.

Two, ditch the Uber Soldats, they don’t really add anything and they’re used much better in future Deadworlds in this friggin’ book.. You have an undead doom squad of fighter pilots! Focus the scope on that business!

But outside of that I just really enjoy that this world is the same as our world with a very bizarre hiccup of “one time a famous fighter pilot became an undead vanguard and everyone was very concerned about that until a ghost killed him”. That’s just a good speed bump of weirdness. A lot of the Deadworlds kind of tend to craft this big machine or world that just runs on the zombies being there to justify it. I appreciate the small scope and weird historical fuckup of this one.

BLIGHTED ISLE

Summary: The Irish Famine threatens the entire world in a cross between the beginning lore of Unhallowed Metropolis and justified anger at the British Empire being a bunch of imperialist assholes.


This one is also a little bit…on the nose historically as well. “What if the Potato Blight was supernatural?” well I dunno I guess there’s zombies, I suppose.

The Potato Blight happens in 1846 and causes a mass panic in Ireland to escape the country. The Irish bury their starved dead and do their best to survive on the island or take a gamble on going to America/Europe in a ship stuffed full of other hopeful souls. The plan to stay in Ireland hits a huge snag when the dead start to rise from their mass graves in 1847 with a hunger for human flesh. There’s not a lot of confirmation that this is happening until the undead besiege Dublin and are scared away in a fire that razes the city. The dead are buried…and promptly get back up the next day, along with the burned corpses.

In short, if you die on Irish soil, you get back up if there’s enough of you left. Period. The Blight put something awful and necrotic in the ground and the armies of the dead grow by the day as people keel over from starvation and get back up.

On the British side of things, their evaluation of the situation is mixed between “…this is all our fault by not letting them own their own land and forcing them to become a monocrop country” and “gently caress them they’re Irish”. They do offer aid and expeditions are launched into Ireland to study the Blight, but then the dead rise and Britain promptly says “well. That’s that” and quarantined the island. You can leave to move to another country but nobody’s allowed into Ireland without specialized and highly restricted allowance.

Or at least that was the case until London police discovered a conspiracy of Irish expats emptying Blighted soil smuggled from Ireland into British graves. Now Ireland is completely cut off and has been for two years. Any ships going in and out are sunk by the naval blockade surrounding the island.

The year is 1849. Nobody is any closer to understanding the situation in Ireland. The British are happy to maintain quarantine and just let them die. Ireland has become a collection of well-defended enclaves holding back the dead and nomadic bands of survivors scraping by. Priests are an important social part of the survivors because the survivors are generally desperate for redemption, salvation and hope.

Sample Adventures:
  • Playing as an adventuring band of Catholic missionaries and relief effort workers (legally) passing through the blockade, realizing what’s going on and dealing with the consequences and the fact that the British navy may not let them leave.
  • Irish survivors fleeing to an escape boat piloted by a smuggler…that’s only meant to take one of the PCs to safety. And the beach is choked with the walking dead.
  • The PCs are English dealing with Irish insurrection in the UK and trying to contain the beginning appearances of the Blight. “For a darker twist” have the PCs play as special agents trying to figure out how far is too far when it comes to handling a family of Irish who escaped the blockade and made it ashore…and are unintentionally carrying the Blight with them.
  • The PCs are Irish immigrants aboard an overstuffed ship headed to Ellis Island…and the filth of the ship is letting the Blight take hold. No land in sight and the dead are starting to prowl the halls of the ship. What’ll happen if it makes landfall in New York City and nobody can stop the undead in time?

HOW THE ZOMBIES WORK

The Blight zombies have a symbiotic relationship with the blighted earth itself. If a body is left on blighted soil, it will inevitably rise with a speed depending on how corrupted the earth is (as fast as a hour, on average around 12 hours, rarely a few days). Burning the body prevents this, as does hucking it in a peat bog because the dead can’t get out of a peat bog. The Blight burrows into the nervous system to resuscitate the dead and modifies the mouth for feeding, rotting away the back of the throat and inside of the mouth to expose the arteries and veins (with little flaps of skin that cover these blood-lines that…make weird flapping smacking noises when they engage and disengage).

They also actually feed on Blight spores. See, the Blight animates them but it’s also absolutely everywhere. They can’t ambiently exist thanks to how contaminated the island is; the pollutant levels of the Blight are high but the spores are too diffused into the environment. However, because it’s in the air, the water, the food, the animals (doesn’t affect animals) means that the Irish are constantly accidentally ingesting Blight spores. Which is fine. It’s harmless to the living. However, the human liver and kidneys is really good at concentrating weird particles from all over the body into a handful of spots. This is what makes the Blight zombies attack the Irish: they can smell their digestive system being full of delicious food and they’ll disembowel people to get at the sweet meats, mash them up through chewing and swallow the paste into their veins directly to the metabolic center, the heart.

Physically they look like the walking dead except for the blood that pools in their mouths and runs down their faces whenever they attack. Think old-style vampire myths where they dig up the corpse to find it bloated with blood on its lips due to decomposition gasses. They’re also not an enormous threat. They’re slow, except for when they lunge. They’re as strong as a regular person. They’re not smart. Their big advantages are, well, numbers and the fact that their rotting mouths double as an attack. The smell of the putrid blood bubbling up from their mouths when they feed is enough to sicken people and force them to freeze, giving the Blight zombie the opportunity to grab its prey. Their hearts are also the weak point…but guns are in short supply and nobody’s really willing to get in melee with one. Most Irish settle for incapacitating them and burning them or herding them away. Outside of Ireland, I don’t think the Blight zombies are a threat at all due to their single-minded focus on only feeding on sources full of concentrated Blight. The book doesn’t really go into that.

THOUGHTS

This one kind of walks the line between “tone deaf” and “needs more fleshing out”. It’s not the worst idea to jump-off from, especially because the book directly notes how complicit the British were with the Famine and how the Irish wanting to get some measure of revenge are outweighed by the people who just want to live. Most outbreaks would be complete accidents on par with a refugee ship accidentally becoming a hot-box of super strep.

That said man it’s super 2019 up in this world we’re living and the idea of this zombie outbreak having refugee/geopolitics parallels are a little too eeeeeeesh for my liking. I don’t entirely want to play Irish dealing with impending genocide caused by the undead and British indifference. The more compelling scenario is the one where the world is dealing with this crisis and how that plays out, and it’s kind of shallow in that regards. That said, I like the internal physics of the zombies and how their construction accidentally asks the question of “are they actually an international threat or is the Blight the bigger threat?”. But I don’t think I’d want to play 19th century British dealing with this whole shebang either?

It’s a solid enough nugget of an idea that needs to be worked out more and handled with care. I could get down with a more politically/sociologically-minded short campaign or something like that, but that’s not really what this is. I guess the safe option would be to play the pretty interestingly dark one-shot of “only one of you is meant to leave and the exfil zone is full of undead, how are you going to justify you getting out and who’s being left behind as bait” and pretend that the Blight isn’t being carried by the Irish passively.

NEXT TIME: 17th century France and the 8th century Abbasid Caliphate in the Golden Age of Islam! I’m kind of obscuring just what they’re exactly about by mentioning the time and place! They may not be as interesting as the time and place imply!

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 05:03 on Oct 9, 2019

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