Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





The English being less actively evil in this zombie world version of the Great Famine than they were in the real world version of it is kinda weird. If it were true to life they'd be forcing them to work those zombie blighted fields regardless of casualties.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




That Old Tree posted:

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.
They were riddled with errors, IIRC. And the occasional "wait this concept is terrible" like the mundane non-cybered weapon specialist I remember in one of the games. Not even a, like, 4e Edgeomancer, either. Just passing up things that could be a massive benefit to the "hurt mans with weapons" role in exchange for, like, nothing.

Gantolandon posted:

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.
They also tend to, like, hollow people out and drive their body around and poo poo. Even if the Horrors weren't coming behind them, they'd be bad news.

I can't remember if they do that metaphorically, by burrowing into people's souls, or physically. Maybe both?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Terrible Opinions posted:

The English being less actively evil in this zombie world version of the Great Famine than they were in the real world version of it is kinda weird. If it were true to life they'd be forcing them to work those zombie blighted fields regardless of casualties.
At the risk of being sent to the distant town for ideological self-correction, they seem comparably evil, namely "meh gently caress it but we shan't stop private charities, especially if focused on religious conversion of the Catholic."

They didn't particularly try to stop emigration during the Famine, or at least if they did I never heard of it. They just didn't help particularly, either.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Zereth posted:

I can't remember if they do that metaphorically, by burrowing into people's souls, or physically. Maybe both?

The new insect spirit is literally summoned into the subject, who is laid out like a sacrifice. It's similar to being Possessed, but the host and spirit get smushed together more. There are several ways it can work out depending on the strength of the host, the strength of the summoned spirit, and several other things

* Most commonly you get a 'flesh form', which is a horrific hybrid of human and insect
* If the merge favours the Spirit you get a True Form, which exists on the Astral plane like a normal spirit
* If the merge favours the Host you get a Good Merge, which closely resembles the host physically and to a certain extent mentally, but with all their desires and ambitions overwritten by the spirit's. These often pretend to be the host to infiltrate other organisations.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




The Lone Badger posted:

The new insect spirit is literally summoned into the subject, who is laid out like a sacrifice. It's similar to being Possessed, but the host and spirit get smushed together more. There are several ways it can work out depending on the strength of the host, the strength of the summoned spirit, and several other things

* Most commonly you get a 'flesh form', which is a horrific hybrid of human and insect
* If the merge favours the Spirit you get a True Form, which exists on the Astral plane like a normal spirit
* If the merge favours the Host you get a Good Merge, which closely resembles the host physically and to a certain extent mentally, but with all their desires and ambitions overwritten by the spirit's. These often pretend to be the host to infiltrate other organisations.
Ah, yes, thanks!

Anyway, yes, summoning insect spirits is a very bad thing to do so I have no idea what the gently caress they're thinking having the example street shaman doing it. :psyduck:

thatbastardken
Apr 23, 2010

strewth


Nessus posted:

They didn't particularly try to stop emigration during the Famine, or at least if they did I never heard of it. They just didn't help particularly, either.

driving the Irish out of Ireland was a benefit. more room to import stout english yeomen to manage the farms and fields of the aristocracy. these days you'd call it genocide.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Enemy Action
Part 15: Reviving Your Favorite TV Show Is Bad


Generic actress lady.

Bianca Jonak is the former teen actress that starred in the Katie Files, a 1993 show about a teen detective and her football-playing boyfriend solving supernatural mysteries with their friends. It aired for seven seasons and was a huge hit with kids and teens. Even 20 years later, it's got a dedicated fan community, and Bianca's the queen bee of that community. The problem is that the Katie Files was more than just a hit. Various monsters got involved in it, too, spreading both information and disinformation on vampires, werewolves and so on, but even more than that, the show was Infrastructure. The God-Machine allowed the monsters to insert their own stuff into the scripts on monsters because that didn't matter - what mattered was using the show for subliminal programming of children. Many of the cast and crew ran into weird poo poo, but Bianca was the focal point of all of it. She became Stigmatic not due to any single incident, but because of seven years of constant low-level exposure to the Machine.

When Bianca began hallucinating at 22, she panicked and got involved in drugs and sex scandals largely to avoid seeing the horrors around her. She became a tabloid favorite for her partying and drug habit, and most believed she was cracking under pressure. That'd be when a journalist discovered that Bianca's family had a history of schizophrenia, which usually emerged in their early 20s. It destroyed her career. Everyone assumed she was schizophrenic, and that became too much for her. The Katie Files was ended with season seven, and she got worse and worse. After a week-long drug blitz, she had what she thinks of as a spiritual experience, communing with the Machine. It spoke to her, telling her that she was special. That she was important. And Bianca became convinced - she didn't play Katie. She was Katie. She became Katie on the show because it was her life, she was this special person, important to the supernatural. Her suffering was for a reason, and she knew now how to hunt monsters thanks to her acting work. Clearly she must now hunt down the Machine's foes. Clearly.

Bianca has, to all appearances, made a comeback to the spotlight. She's doing conventions again, she's talking to her old co-stars and writers, she's working hard to get a reboot of the Katie Files. With her at the center, of course. Not as Katie - she's too old for that. She's an attractive woman in her early 40s, favoring stylish designer clothes. She always knows where the cameras are, and at conventions she tends to dress like Katie would. She hides her true self both from her fans and from journalists, and even after getting past that, she tends to be quiet. She hates being recorded without being told and she rarely does any taped interviews or panel appearances. She thinks of her job as being a trap for demons, and she uses her celebrity to do it. When she's talking to her prey, she plays up her innocence and victimhood, talking about how the Katie Files ruined her life or wanting revenge and to keep other actresses safe from her fate. (If a demon asks, she claims she's being forced to reboot the show, not that she wants to.) It usually works to get a demon at least investigating, which is all she needs.

Bianca is in deep with the Machine and also super delusional. She actually thinks that Katie is her, or at least an alter ego of her, and demons are just the same kind of monsters she used to "take down" in the show. That said, she's gotten herself very involved, and is even willing to help take down an angel or piece of Infrastructure if it doesn't seem important and will earn her prey's trust. It makes it so much more fun when she betrays them later, after all. Bianca has a wide set of contacts both in the TV industry and in the world of occultists. She may not have all the secrets, but she definitely knows who to go to for them. Many demons think she must be on their side, working to get to some key Infrastructure involved in the show. After all, her monologue on hating the Machine is very persuasive. Unfortunately for her project, the subliminal messages in the old show have been uncovered by several powerful groups of occult weirdos or demons. Most have no ability to tell what the programming was for or why it was there, but everyone knows that kind of thing is never good. There are a number of potent entities that would die before they let it start again.

Oh, and Bianca's killed a guy before. A fan. He broke into her trailer during a shoot, and he had a gun. Bianca got it away from him in the struggle and shot him three times. He died on the way to the hospital. It was all over the papers when it happened, back in the 90s, and it certainly didn't help her mindset. Her publicist made up a story about obsessive stalkers and emphasized that Bianca was safe and regretted what happened. In truth, the fan was more than obsessive - he was the first time Bianca ran into a real enemy agent and realized the effect the show was having on people. She took a while to understand all of it - that the attack was an attempt to end the show by killing her, thus ruining the project. Many interviewers ask about the attack, but Bianca refuses to talk about it and ends interviews once it gets brought up. She is much more open about it in private when dealing with folks she trusts...but that's not a lot of people.

Bianca's not particularly notable for her stats, though she knows way more about the occult than your average former teen actress, and she's a pretty good shot. She's an excellent actor and has connections to police specialized in cult-based crimes as well as contacts in local cults. Her Stigmatic glitch is that anyone talking to her hears a weird ticking in the back of their head. If they keep talking to her for a while, the ticking becomes the sound of gears and machinery running wild. Also, the most fervent fans of the Katie Files sometimes see Bianca as Katie.


The dude, not the face.

Brandon Clements is a completely normal high school kid. He's decently good at school, he's on the varsity football team, he's white-passing of Indian descent and is from a rich family. And he is extremely bored. He wants to do something cool and he wants to have a fast, dangerous life. So he goes to dangerous parts of the city, he hangs out in alleys, that sort of thing. He's just got one problem: he blacks out and doesn't remember what the hell he saw or did, pretty much on the reg. His blackouts are caused by a mix of his hormone levels and heartrate as well as his fight-or-flight instincts. When that happens, the sleeper programming placed in him by the machine takes over, operating on a singular goal of survival.

As a baby, Brandon suffered from frequent ear and eye infections to the extent that he was often hospitalized. While it got better as he aged, even as a preteen he would be in the hospital once a year or so. At age twelve, his parents decided to try out an experimental clinic named Rising Hope, who claimed they could boost his immune system. They signed all the consent forms and signed him up for what the clinic referred to as "cognitive immuno-resuscitationg therapy," which Rising Hope claimed could solve any immune system issues. Two weeks of intensive therapies did the job - Brandon came out healthy, and with sleeper programming. Most Rising Hope patients weren't compatible with the process; he got lucky. The others got a bunch of injections with a cocktail of drugs that would greatly boost the immune system for a year or so, then burn out the entire body's systems, rapidly killing the victims - occasionally via spontaneous combustion. Brandon and a handful of others got "therapy" in the form of being subjected to high adrenaline and then sensory deprivation repeatedly. It caused the mind to isolate itself and strengthened the body's will to survive. These sleepers were also taught how to fight and run, though they did not remember any of it.

The question is 'why.' The Machine has no specific active goal for Brandon to achieve. He and his fellow sleeper agents are programmed as part of a God-Machine witness project. The Machine requires humans that can witness an event but not be changed by it at all. It's much more expensive to actively wipe memories manually than to set up a memory block that prevents them from forming in the first place, so that's why Brandon exists. He and about 50 other sleeper agents got produced before Rising Hope shut down, and most remain in the greater urban area. Brandon can't recall any of the times he's gotten into trouble, because when the programming takes over, he loses the ability to form memories. That said, his actions mean he's being tracked. A small ring of demons has found him and a few other Rising Hope sleepers and are busy documenting their actions. Most other patients were older and less interested in finding trouble, so Brandon's behavior sticks out. He stays alive, but several of the people and entities he's run into remember him. They're usually not happy.

For example, based on his actions, some demons he's witnessed think he must have been an angel. When acting under sleeper programming, he doesn't emote. Period. The blank look makes him resemble an angel or newly-Fallen demon rather than a human. That said, it's more of a side effect of the fact that when Brandon is under his programming, he doesn't count as a witness to supernatural powers. He can't cause compromises by witnessing a breach of Cover, he can't even prevent you from swapping Cover in front of him by being an observer, not while his programming is active. He still counts when his mind is in charge, though. Occasionally his programming has made him rescue people from muggings; this is not because of any particular heroics programmed into him, though, and it's rare. Happened only a few times, and generally he only does it by distracting someone. He can enter a violent fugue state, but his programming will only do it when it is impossible to flee. He's a better fighter than he realizes thanks to his unconscious training, but he's never been in a fight while conscious.

He does know he's tougher than most people. He can take a beating and barely notice, and that's why he does so well in football. His therapies resulted in massively increased pain tolerance, and he can shrug off damage normal humans couldn't. When he tries, he can outdo most of his teen peers on the field. He's actually scared by his own physical abilities fairly often - he doesn't know why he's so tough, and he's unsure if it's healthy. It'd ruin him socially to admit that fear, so he never does. He's used to downplaying his talents and he's gotten good at it.

Statistically, Brandon's not actually that much above average. He's tough and charismatic, but not inhumanly so. He's athletic, good at fighting with weapons and good at persuading people to help him out or like him. His programming means he has a knack for sensing danger, and his training provides him with great skill in improvised weaponry, resisting pain and acting without getting tired, but it also shuts off his mind when that happens. When his programming activates, he loses all emotions and empathy, even fear. His only goal is to find a safe place. He freezes up for a few seconds, and speaks only to give single-word commands; for some reason, his voice drops about half an octave. He ignores all requests, but he does still understand threats and analyzes them for danger. If he believes them, they can get him to change his behavior. He prefers to flee if at all possible; if not, he will fight like hell.

Next time: The Monkey Wrench, the Blood Taker

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Brandon is honestly the creepiest thing in the whole book.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk





:bravo: hooray i look forward to your halloween updates every year!

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


drat, zombie book cool.

Can't wait for Zombies On The Oriental Express or smth.

E:
I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that some fervent fans would see <actress> as <their character>.

Also, I don't get Brandon: why do you want human witnesses that don't form memories? Like, what does him being there do that's better than no human being there in the first place?

JcDent fucked around with this message at 15:38 on Oct 9, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Worlds of the Dead is a real good book and AFMBE is honestly a real good game overall.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




JcDent posted:

Also, I don't get Brandon: why do you want human witnesses that don't form memories? Like, what does him being there do that's better than no human being there in the first place?

Infrastructure can frequently rely on fairly normal human labor to get built and keep running, but also it's a bunch of magical horseshit that freaks humans out. More enhanced humans/cultists, like stigmatics, don't have that problem but are obviously harder to create and control. Apparently, according to Brandon's write-up, it's also harder to mind-wipe people after the fact instead of raising up a generation of sleeper cultists who enter a fugue state when tapped for Infrastructure work.

And/or keeping a lid on all that supernatural crap can just be easier if people in general tend to black out instead of doing stuff like becoming a hunter or whatever.

feedmegin
Jul 30, 2008



thatbastardken posted:

driving the Irish out of Ireland was a benefit. more room to import stout english yeomen to manage the farms and fields of the aristocracy. these days you'd call it genocide.

Umm English emigration to Ireland wasn't particularly a thing. Scottish, sure, but not particularly because of the Famine.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Cooked Auto posted:

I was wondering when someone was considering doing SR6. If SR5 was bad then SR6 is downright abysmal in comparison. It only seems to have been made because the lead developer wanted it to as it seemingly appeals to no one. Or my personal theory is that they wanted to cash in on Cyberpunk Red and CP2077, and then managing to trip over their own feet constantly while doing it.
Suffice to say the SR thread has had a field day in how bad that game turned out.
It certainly seems like it was cranked out in a hurry by someone who happened to be holding the rights.

Shadowrun was one of the first games I ever played. I was really into it for a long time, I even got into it by reading the novel series, yet I hardly think about it anymore. The Dumpshock forums were the first forum I posted on as a teenager, and all I remember about them now was being called a "second wave feminist" for arguing that a discussion about making your familiar your sex slave is loving creepy. Oh, and the time they shut down their off-topic forums because of drama, which just meant that everyone's opinions about politics and martial arts leaked back into the game discussion like a backed-up septic tank.

rodbeard posted:

So what version of Shadowrun is actually playable?
I've played 2, 3, and 4 and they all have huge problems. I found 4 to be the best-balanced and most accessible, but I didn't play it nearly as much as 2 and 3.

It's a crunchy game from the 80s and 90s and has all the problems you'd expect--few are unique. There are volumes of extremely fiddly equipment. The combat system has lots of details, which rarely matter because rocket tag. Magick is overpowered (if the street samurai doesn't rocket-tag you first). Magick, hacking, and vehicles are their own complex subsystems that don't integrate well with the rest of the system.

The main thing I would single out for criticism is the gear. There's a fuckton of gear and everything can be modified--weapons, ammo, armor, vehicles, cyberware, and even your character's home. We would spend more time building characters than playing, and almost all of that time was spent on gear. (Most people would single out the way hacking was a minigame that could totally derail the session, but we never played deckers for exactly that reason.)

That Old Tree posted:

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

Zereth posted:

They were riddled with errors, IIRC. And the occasional "wait this concept is terrible" like the mundane non-cybered weapon specialist I remember in one of the games. Not even a, like, 4e Edgeomancer, either. Just passing up things that could be a massive benefit to the "hurt mans with weapons" role in exchange for, like, nothing.
Yeah, the illustrations for the pregens in 2e and 3e were great, the problem was that the actual statblocks were badly-built or broke the rules. I suppose they were made in the middle of the design process and never fixed. The Weapons Specialist was in 3rd edition and was my favourite illustration.



Shadowrun liked to pretend that "extremely skilled with little or no cyberware" was equivalent to "mediocre skills and cybered to the gills." It's not.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 19:04 on Oct 9, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Enemy Action
Part 15: Psychic Murder Spy


A nice lady?

Carlota Herrera is fairly unique - someone that got captured and remade by the God-Machine, then escaped to become a resistance fighter against it. She is a Stigmatic programmed as a sleeper agent to turn her into a psychic warrior for the Machine...but her programming's broken. This makes her dangerous to know, but also very useful. Even before she got taken by the Machine, she was an intelligence operative recruited out of the army. She worked as an assassin and arsonist against various threats to US operations, always working under deniable circumstances. It was just work, for her. Her family had a three generation military tradition, and while she couldn't talk about her job, they understood. During an operation in Ukraine, though, everything changed. What seemed to be a normal raid went horribly, horribly wrong. The group they were tracking wasn't a terrorist cell - it was a cult of the Machine, the Clock's Gentle Embrace. They trapped humans to sacrifice to the Machine in the false belief that it would reward them for doing so. Carlota's handler had been recruited by the cult and led her team into a trap.

The cultists ambushed the team in an elaborate set of tunnels, marked with occult symbols in bile and full of ball lightning. Carlota has started to recover memories of the sacrificial ritual. The cultists pulled cables from the ground and jammed them into her spine and skull. She can sometimes recall some of her fellows being fed into a machine of blades and pistons, despite trying very hard not to. She wanted it all to burn - and it did. Her mission was accomplished. The cult died, the building burned down, and she was the only one left alive. Officially, she was marked down MIA, presumed dead. She's gone off-grid, having decided that whatever she witnessed was the largest threat to national security that could possibly exist. For the good of the United States, the Machine had to be destroyed.

Carlota is a muscular Hispanic lady in her mid-30s. She wears her hair long to hide the strange puncture scar on the back of her head that is her Stigmatic glitch, which sparks visibly with electricity when she's under stress. She often wears hats or headscarves in public to avoid it being noticed, preferring military and tactical outfits if possible. She feels uneasy in civvies. She speaks rarely, and she always tries to be the first in and last out of any room. She eavesdrops constantly, watching for potential threats and clues. She knows the Machine exists worldwide, but believes that if she can free the USA of it, the rest of the world will be easily fixed. She knows demons exist but she doesn't trust like or trust them, even though she works with them frequently. She believes they have no loyalty to anything but themselves, especially when they talk about finding their own Hells. On the other hand, she can't do this job alone, and even her psychic abilities can't match up to demonic powers. Plus, demons tend to be better infiltrators than she is, especially as time goes on and she feels more and more disconnected.

The biggest advantage Carlota has to offer her demonic allies is also her biggest threat to them: the sleeper programming in her brain. It's very specific and it didn't work right. In the presence of an Infrastructural Linchpin, Carlota's programming activates. In theory it is intended to make her seek out and reinforce any weaknesses in the Infrastructure. However, Carlota's intense and terrible anger has altered the context of the programming. Instead of fixing Infrastructure, her programming now compels her to destroy the Linchpin and all aspects of the Infrastructure housing it. She also attempts to murder everyone involved in the Infrastructure or who happens to be in her way. Once she completes all this, the programming deactivates. Carlota is entirely aware of her sleeper programming and how it works, and she's very much not above activating herself to take down Infrastructure, even if it means killing innocents. Acceptable casualties and all that.

While Carlota is fully aware of the risk of doing so, she has maintained contact with her family. She knows it's endangering them, but she needs it. She uses old, obsolete military communications channels to keep in touch with her brother, Mauro, and her cousin, Angela. She's lied to them about what she's doing, saying it's a secret operation that required her to fake her own death, and has told them nothing else. She's also actively trying to reprogram herself. Not that she regrets her current actions - it's more that she's afraid the destruction she makes leaves a trail. Unfortunately, she's been unable to get access to her sleeper program so far, despite her best efforts with self-hypnosis. She's had more success gathering forces. She's using a bunch of secret funds to finance a militia she's named the Liberty Combat Army, hoping to exclusively recruit stigmatics for it eventually. Until she can manage that, she's using regular mercs. Once the group is fully formed, the plan is simple. She's going to have her paramilitary group track down Machine cults, angels and demons in the USA and kill them all. (In approximately that order of priority.)

Carlota does not have any special sense for Infrastructure components, so using her to detect Linchpins is...dangerous. Once she sees one, that activates her, so you know when you've found it. The problem is that puts you right at the spot her murder rampage begins. Good luck with that! Carlota is also unaware that she's tripped a number of intelligence agents' radars. Her handler's betrayal got noticed, and her formation of the Liberty Combat Army has made her a threat. From the perspective of her old bosses, she's a rogue agent aiming for regime change in the United States. Which, well, not too far from what she's doing, honestly. She thinks she might be tracked soon, but has no idea she has active watchers on her already. Also, while her programming is flawed, it's not useless to the Machine. She's effectively a wandering piece of Elimination Infrastructure, wiping out old projects that are no longer needed while leaving little to no evidence of anything but a rogue psychopath. She's not as precise as a cleaner angel, but she also can't Fall. In fact, from a certain perspective, she is an intensely useful servant of the Machine who just needs to be steered at the correct targets for its plans.

Carlota is strong and tough, but that's most of her skillset. She understands psychic powers to some extent but mostly she fights people, shoots people and sneaks around. Oh, and she's good at scaring people. She's an excellent martial artist, and her psychic powers let her numb people with a touch, she has minor telekinesis and she has very powerful pyrokinesis. As noted, her glitch is that she has a scarred puncture wound on the back of her head that releases harmless electrical energies when she's stressed.


Wannabe demon?

Donald Williams was a poor guy who wanted to be a doctor or surgeon, but had to work two jobs just to help get into college and couldn't afford medical school. He went for being a phlebotomist in a Boston medical lab because it was a decent second best. He'd always liked working with people and was good at calming patients during blood draws...until he ran into Sandra Jackson, a patient who came in monthly for tests under the guise of a cancer survivor. Donald liked her a lot, but he always thought something was wrong. She always seemed around ten years off on her pop culture. Despite this, she never seemed to mind him talking about his husband, though he was sure she'd be homophobic. Actually, she acted like he'd never said anything at all. He also was able to take her blood even when he was sure he missed a vein, and she wasn't weak like most chemo subjects.

Then she tracked him down outside the lab and talked him into going somewhere with her - specifically, to a piece of Infrastructure, where she hooked him up to some kind of blood dialysis machine. Donald isn't sure what it did to his blood and can remember very little of his experience. He just remembers waking up in an alley with small scars where the blood was taken and put back in and a splitting headache. His husband reported him missing and he got picked up by the cops soon after. A few days later, he began hallucinating, seeing strange visions. Everyone left him - even, eventually, his husband. Donald became obsessed with Sandra and what was done to him, becoming a haunted and paranoid person, suspicious of even those close to him. Especially them, really. After his husband left him, he broke into his old job and tried to steal Sandra's blood samples...but they were gone. He was starting to be able to sense the Machine's work, so he started looking for people like Sandra, hoping to test their blood. He sought out the Machine to better understand what was going on, and the more he learned, the worse his life became.

Donald began hunting angels, trapping them and trying to steal their blood when they came after him. He broke into the lab and stole sedatives to use against them, but he was never able to really capture an angel - the Machine just kept recalling them. When he found a demon, he got about an hour of testing in before the guy vanished and destroyed his lab. He's not sure what the hell the thing was. He could tell they were off, but the blood seemed perfectly human. He became curious about demons, and he's set up a makeshift lab inside an old South Boston building. He's put the equipment together from what he can steal or scavenge, and he's as close as he feels comfortable being to the Infrastructure he got abducted to originally. He's been cataloguing what gets done there and even believes he knows what it's for. He knows that angels come out of it, at least. He's supporting himself with part time work at a local blood bank, where he occasionally steals samples for testing.

Donald is a black guy with shaved hair, wild eyes and veins bulging all over his body. His skin is tinted a weird blue thanks to those veins. He wears street clothes and often forgets proper hygiene and bathing. He's still a kind man, but he's been twisted by his experiences. He cares about other people a lot, and that is still what drives him most. He's been horrified by all that he's learned and wants to save humankind from the Machine. He knows just enough about it to get into trouble and not nearly enough to realize that the Machine is far, far bigger than he is. He's curious but paranoid, so he's very cautious with the supernatural. He's got a scientific mind, which drives him to test and categorize what he can, though he's so obsessive at this point that he's more mad scientist than researcher. He mostly tries to trap supernatural beings and steal their blood for testing. If he talks to them, it's to make them complacent until he can get a needle in their arm.

On the bright side, Donald does have knowledge of all of Boston's Infrastructure. He maps it obsessively and spies on it often. He's tried to subvert some the way he's seem demons do, but mostly he just causes weird energy ripples that bring in angels, which satisfies him because then he can steal their blood. He's learned to interpret his visions to help hunt down angels and Infrastructure, but even now, most of the visions are painful and confusing. Mostly, he foresees the appearance of new angels a few days before they appear. He's also developed telekinesis and psychometric abilities, which he uses for his research. He's figured out that angels only fake having emotions, so he uses his psychometry to identify emotionally dead areas, and he subconsciously tests the emotions associated with anything he touches. His telekinesis is useful for keeping people away or disrupting their actions as he works.

Every month or so, Donald heads to Dorchester and offers 50-100 bucks to anyone that'll let him take their blood for control samples. He usually asks them a little about themselves to test if they know anything about the Machine. He once nearly got killed by a sleeper agent, which has made him even more paranoid. His ultimate goal is to destroy the Machine, but to do that he has to understand it, at least in his own mind. He has learned what Linchpins are and how they keep Infrastructure functioning. He's tried and failed at using them suborn Infrastructure, but his efforts mostly just break them, which brings demons around to find out what the heck happened. Donald knows demons aren't angels, but he doesn't know how or why they differ. He's gotten a demon to go into its demon form to escape him before, and it terrified him so much that he just hid while it got away. He's hoping he can find another and get the thing to go demon form too, now that he knows to be better prepared.

Donald is very smart and cunning, and he's surprisingly tough and manipulative, too. He's an excellent investigator and medic with a wide array of scientific and occult knowledge. He's also good at breaking and entering, living off the land and reading or lying to people. He's got, as mentioned, telekinesis and psychometry, plus he's sensitive to weird omens and the standard Stigmatic sense for the Machine. His Stigmatic glitch is the veins - all his veins are bulging and tinted electric blue, which is what makes his skin so blue and sickly-looking.

Next time: The Daydream Believer, the Cuckoo

Drakli
Jan 28, 2004
Goblin-Friend

Honestly, I think the writers keep the God Machine's reasons for doing specific plans unexplained, both to maintain its mystique and to allow individual storytellers to come up with motivations suited to their table. That said, I can think of at least a couple reasons why could use human watchers (like Brandon) without memories.

A lot of the God Machine's occult matrices involve having a X number of people at a certain place at a specified time for a ritual that releases Y amount of spiritual energy. Memory-less sleepers can fulfill that function without retaining any info. Alternatively, they could serve as wireless security cameras, witnessing Supernatural eventa and uploading them to the God Cloud without retaining any knowledge themselves or breaking Cover etc.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Halloween Jack posted:

Yeah, the illustrations for the pregens in 2e and 3e were great, the problem was that the actual statblocks were badly-built or broke the rules. I suppose they were made in the middle of the design process and never fixed. The Weapons Specialist was in 3rd edition and was my favourite illustration.



Shadowrun liked to pretend that "extremely skilled with little or no cyberware" was equivalent to "mediocre skills and cybered to the gills." It's not.

Yeah! That illustration is rad and there's always at least one character inspired by it in every Shadowrun game I've played. Give up one of those weapon skills (probably projectile weapons) to lower skills and up the resources for wired reflexes instead and she's real good.

Frobozz
Jul 19, 2017


The Lone Badger posted:

The new insect spirit is literally summoned into the subject, who is laid out like a sacrifice. It's similar to being Possessed, but the host and spirit get smushed together more. There are several ways it can work out depending on the strength of the host, the strength of the summoned spirit, and several other things

* Most commonly you get a 'flesh form', which is a horrific hybrid of human and insect
* If the merge favours the Spirit you get a True Form, which exists on the Astral plane like a normal spirit
* If the merge favours the Host you get a Good Merge, which closely resembles the host physically and to a certain extent mentally, but with all their desires and ambitions overwritten by the spirit's. These often pretend to be the host to infiltrate other organisations.

Of course, this is to allow the GM to run either an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" scenario or an "Aliens" scenario. You can use a bunch of Good Merges to take over a neighborhood or cult or corp facility. They have the appearances and some memories and skills of who they are replacing, but are "a bit off". Queue paranoid runners trying to figure things out without tipping anyone off.

Alternatively you can pack an abandoned building or cave full of horrifying flesh form hybrids, then the street sams and mages can roll in with heavy machineguns, grenades and fireball spells. Or just have the first scenario lead to the second, which is what a lot of the published runs did.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

The irony of building a "fighter" character in Shadowrun is that you can spend hours modding and tweaking every piece of gear...but your entire character revolves around having Wired Reflexes.

Street Samurai, Former Company Man, Mercenary, Bodyguard...you can bin this whole group of archetypes and call them the Wired Reflex Haver.

There's another set of related Archetypes that includes the Ganger, Weapons Specialist, Tribal Warrior, and Rocker. These are the "Front-line fighter that doesn't have Wired Reflexes," and you can group them together as characters you will not play if you know how this system works.

Edit: During a brief period where I GMed, I banned Wired Reflexes and similar cyberware. PCs got a lot more interesting in a hurry.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 21:20 on Oct 9, 2019

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




I'm not all that familiar with SR4 and on, but 2 and 3 had a lot of good art, and they used it to great effect in the poo poo-rear end SR card game.

Also I still distinctly remember the like 8" action figure Heroclix knockoff for Shadowrun from the early 2000's, because my friend who owned a game store got a couple of them and they never moved off the shelf for two years. We eventually opened them up when the store folded, and I think I still have the lovely tiny dice the troll street samurai came with. The figure was kind of cool.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 21:19 on Oct 9, 2019

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Halloween Jack posted:

The irony of building a "fighter" character in Shadowrun is that you can spend hours modding and tweaking every piece of gear...but your entire character revolves around having Wired Reflexes.

Street Samurai, Former Company Man, Mercenary, Bodyguard...you can bin this whole group of archetypes and call them the Wired Reflex Haver.

There's another set of related Archetypes that includes the Ganger, Weapons Specialist, Tribal Warrior, and Rocker. These are the "Front-line fighter that doesn't have Wired Reflexes," and you can group them together as characters you will not play if you know how this system works.

Edit: During a brief period where I GMed, I banned Wired Reflexes and similar cyberware. PCs got a lot more interesting in a hurry.

wired reflexes are so good (at least in 2E and 3E) that unless you expect your character to use magic, you should make room to get those built in. since the initiative system works off "passes" and wired reflexes gives you more passes, it's literally giving you more turns to play than characters without them.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Freaking Crumbum posted:

wired reflexes are so good (at least in 2E and 3E) that unless you expect your character to use magic, you should make room to get those built in. since the initiative system works off "passes" and wired reflexes gives you more passes, it's literally giving you more turns to play than characters without them.
I'm guessing this keeps getting included for the thrill of system mastery.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Drakli posted:

Honestly, I think the writers keep the God Machine's reasons for doing specific plans unexplained, both to maintain its mystique and to allow individual storytellers to come up with motivations suited to their table. That said, I can think of at least a couple reasons why could use human watchers (like Brandon) without memories.

A lot of the God Machine's occult matrices involve having a X number of people at a certain place at a specified time for a ritual that releases Y amount of spiritual energy. Memory-less sleepers can fulfill that function without retaining any info. Alternatively, they could serve as wireless security cameras, witnessing Supernatural eventa and uploading them to the God Cloud without retaining any knowledge themselves or breaking Cover etc.

You can also get weirder with it - the 'status quo' is almost a metaphysical entity in the Chronicles, in a number of the lines. The God-Machine might need some event to be witnessed and not register as weird or bizarre, despite being extremely those things. A mystical event, a giant biomechanical angel, some kind of bizarre Infrastructure or Matrix needs to play out in public, with witnesses, who don't treat it as anything out of the ordinary.

In that context, Brandon is kind of a semi-successful experiment. When the thing happens, he'll run and hide, which is maybe not normal enough, but afterwards it won't have any lasting impact on him or change how he understands the world.

Alternatively, he's precisely correct: The Machine needs people to react like the thing is horrifying and unusual the way baseline humans would, but then just go about their lives. Possibly you could tie this to a thematic or political point about culture and memory, but that might get very dark very quickly.

I prefer the first interpretation because it means you can have Demons stumble upon the matrix in operation: Some kind of immense Machine horror happening in public while all the oddly expressionless human witnesses go about their day-to-day lives. Maybe they'll even remember the incident on cue, but only then, and it won't influence them in any way. "Hey, remember when an immense technohorror emerged from the lake and devoured Mr. Jones from down the street?" "No... oh, yes, that was a few weeks ago, wasn't it? I remember because I was on my way to Starbucks but they were out of my favorite flavors."

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


At the very least, 5th has a lot more options for init boostering. Wired reflexes in all LCs i've been on has been regarded as a trap option considering how easy it is to use drugs with little/no consequences.

It turns out the future wasn't robot people with wire spines so much as people who can now take ALL THE METH and not die.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





It turns out "get twice as many turns as anyone else" is pretty good. Maybe it shouldn't be an opt- oh wait, it's traditional, we obviously have to keep it forever.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.




4: Edge Lords and Edge Ladies

Big thanks to the forum posters who pointed out that not only is the shaman in the last post summoning the animal they're specifically allergic to, but in Shadowrunland insect spirits are hideously evil all-devouring hiveminds and summoning them is a terrible, terrible idea and something a PC should never do. And it's on the example character! Hooray.

So, time to get down to brass tacks. What's the actual system?

Well, we've pretty much already seen all the system gives you for skills. Yep, anything that's not fighting, hacking or magic is more or less just, roll Attribute + Skill and make up some threshold or other. Huh.

So. Fighting. Now, my prior experience with Shadowrun Fourth Edition didn't just put me off RPGs for a while; it put me permanently off running RPGs in any setting or similar where the gun is the dominant mode of combat. Because pretty much no game gets the modelling of guns right. Mythcreants had an excellent article on the problems, but it basically comes down to: if the rules model action-movie style fights, then the PCs quickly work out that the way to win is to ignore even the lip-service to actual tactics that action movies portray. If the rules model realistic gunfights, then the result is, well, realistic gunfights - sieges, massive terrain dependence, and cheap lives - which are no fun. But Shadowrun has had thirty years to work out how to model good gunfights. Surely it has it down by now?

Yea, that's me being a fool again.

So. First step. Initiative. Initiative is gotten by taking your Reaction and Intuition - not rolling them, just using the bare scores, which means it's even more guaranteed everyone is going to max those stats - and then adding them to a roll on your Initiative Dice. Your standard Initiative Dice is 1d6, and you can earn more by having spells cast on you, loading up with cyberware, or just taking combat drugs, up to 5d6. Initiative Dice aren't rolled for successes; they're rolled for their regular numbers and summed up.

Why this weird Initiative Dice thing? It's been mentioned on the thread, so I'll bring it up: Wired Reflexes. See, the original Shadowrun (or so I'm told) used a Feng Shui style countdown initiative system where the person with the highest Initiative acted then subtracted a number from their initiative to get the value at which they'd act next, so they could act more than once in a round. What this meant was that sufficiently high initiative combatants could finish the entire fight before anyone else got a turn, which wasn't much for anyone who wasn't combat specced. This apparently stuck sufficiently hard that Fourth Edition brought in the daft concept of "initiative passes", where everyone took a first turn in initiative order, then anyone who was sufficiently roided up got a second action, again in Initiative order. This had all kinds of daft consequences, like the movement of characters with more initiative passes being divided between those passes, so they couldn't run between two areas of cover without getting shot at by everyone who went after them on the first pass. Fifth Edition then combined these together, having both a countdown and Initiative Passes. Sixth Edition's version is comparatively sane.

When your round comes up, you get 1 Major Action and 1 Minor Action base, plus 1 extra Minor Action for every Initiative Dice you have. So at base, that's 1 Major and 2 Minor. You can trade 4 Minor Actions for 1 Major action. However, you can never start a turn with more than 5 Minor Actions, so you can only ever do at most 2 Major and 1 Minor action in a turn.

Oh, and editing time: these rules are repeated in the Combat and Game Concepts sections, but the copy in the Game Concepts section doesn't mention the 5 Minor Action limit. The Combat section contains the rules for rolling to hit, but only the Game Concepts section contains the actual list of actions in combat, for some reason. Oh, and one of the forms of cyberware that gives you Initiative Dice is Wired Reflexes, which has a rating of 1 to 4 and, for each rating point, "gives you +1 Reaction, 1 additional Initiative Die, and 1 additional Minor Action". It doesn't state if the additional Minor Action is the same as the one you got for the additional Initiative Die or not, but either way, higher levels of Wired Reflexes end up wasting a ton of minor actions by hitting the cap.

Also, as I mentioned last update, there's no "delay" or "ready" rules. There are "anytime actions", which allow you to save up your actions from your turn and use them later in the round, but they're only relatively minor things and there's no way to wait to take your main turn later in the round. (Also, you can't carry them into the next round.) Which means having a high initiative can end up being a disadvantage; for example, you can't shoot until the team hacker opens the blast doors but if you rolled higher than them on Initiative then your chance to shoot will have come and gone before the doors open. Ugh.

So, without getting into magic, here's the stuff you can do.

  • Attacking is a major action, but you can combine a minor action with it to Call a Shot (there's no locational damage, you just get +2 damage and -4 dice, which since the odds of a single dice being a success is less than 50% is actually a good deal), Quick Draw a weapon (if it has the necessary mods to be quick drawn), Take Aim (gives a stacking +1 to your pool to attack and can be built up over multiple rounds; the text technically doesn't say you have to use the bonus to attack nor that you have to attack the thing you aimed at, but I'm pretty sure GMs keep a clue stick around for anyone arguing against them), Trip (knock someone over with a melee weapon at the cost of 2 damage and an Athletics roll) or.. make Multiple Attacks. Which are ridiculously confusing, for some reason, and we'll come onto them.
  • Moving is a minor action to move 10m or a major action to move 15m plus your hits on an Agility+Athletics roll.
  • Reloading is a major action for an old-school weapon or a minor action for a fancy smartlinked one.
  • Getting a weapon out is a major action. If it's designed to be drawn quickly, it's a Minor action, but you have to attack with it at the same time. Huh?
  • Observing someone is a major action, and all the rules say is that you make a Perception test, and then some examples of why you might need to observe someone. There's nothing else on difficulties or anything similar.
  • Picking up or putting down an object is a major action unless you're prepared to just release the thing and let it land on the floor, in which case it's a minor action.
  • Using a skill or a device is a major action.
  • Defending yourself has a bunch of options. As a minor action, you can Block a melee attack to add your Close Combat skill to defense, or Dodge any other attack to add your Athletics. Both of these have the rather strange add-on text, "the roll must happen in the same player turn in which the action is used", which is presumably a reiteration of the statement about how you can't carry your actions from one round to the next? Anyway, you can also Hit the Dirt to get +2 defence but fall prone (it's a minor action in your turn to Stand Up). If you're prepared to go full defence and spend a major action, you get to add your Willpower to your defence roll for an entire round.
  • Diving out of the way of a grenade has its own rules, but it's a serious screw for the victim. You roll Reaction+Athletics with a penalty for how close to you the thrower is, and the result is the number of metres you can move.. but you have to guess which way to move before you work out where the grenade actually lands, so you can end up diving towards it. Thanks.
  • You can AoO in melee. Yay! The action's called Intercept, you have to have a major and a minor action left in your turn, and it only works in melee. But, hang on.. if you haven't taken your turn in the current round yet, the text says that you logically still have both actions available, so you can Intercept. So.. yet again, having a lower initiative is better! Also, it "counts as your Attack Major Action for the player turn", and it's not clear if that's as well as the Intercept Minor action or instead of it.
  • Jumping behind cover is a minor action, and cover is actually good, it gives you a bonus to Defense Rating (you know, that thing which gets you edge when compared to the attacker's rating, meh) but also a bonus to the Defense test. Bad news is, it takes an extra minor action to attack and you can't get any Edge from attacking from cover. Which seems really bass-awkwards that the literal single best tactic in a gunfight specifically doesn't get you Edge, but hey.

We already saw the basics of attacking, too. You make your attack roll, which is Agility + Firearms or Close Combat. Your opponent makes their defence roll of Reflexes + Intuition or whatever else they have if they chose a defensive action. You compare your Attack Rating and Defence Rating (which is not the result of your roll, it's a trait of your weapon and/or armor), and if one is 4 or more greater than the other, the one with the advantage gets a point of Edge. One point. Did I mention, by the way, that no matter how you gain it you can never gain more than 2 points of Edge in a single combat round? So being a walking tank isn't going to do you that much good.

Once you have the Edge, you get to use it on the roll. And so, drum roll, the stuff you can do with Edge! You can only do one of these per turn, but you can use them repeatedly.

  • For 1 Edge, reroll any single dice involved in a roll. Since dice roll failures more often than successes, it's better to reroll opponent's successes than your failures, so you'll probably use this mostly on opposed rolls.
  • For 1 Edge, add 3 to your Initiative Score, either before or during combat. This is very likely to cause arguments when somebody asks if they can do it after an opponent has declared an action to leap in front of them in initiative order, and there's no explanation.
  • For 2 Edge, raise a dice value by 1 pip. So you can make a 4 a 5 or a 1 a 2.
  • For 2 Edge, give an ally 1 edge. Wow, that's a pretty harsh penalty.
  • For 2 Edge, "one Edge vanishes from an opponent of your choice". We don't know if that means you actually pull Edge out of their pool or if you cancel their attempt to use an Edge action or what. If it's the former, you'd presumably need to know how many Edge they have.
  • For 3 Edge, add a automatic hit to a roll, or heal a Stun HP.
  • For 4 Edge, heal a Physical HP, reroll all your failed dice on a roll as long as you didn't glitch (although of course if you have less than 4 failures this is a waste of points) or, "Add your Edge as a dice pool bonus to your roll". No, I have no clue what that means. Does it mean your Edge stat, or the current number of Edge points you have, or the 4 Edge you spent on the roll, or.. well, what? If it's your Edge stat, it's pretty pointless, because the adjustment points you used to buy up your Edge stat could have been used on another stat that wouldn't cost points to use. More interestingly, though, that bonus also causes 6's to become explosive with no repeat limit. It isn't clear if you can use this after the roll or not, because if you can't, it has a pretty significant chance of doing nothing.
  • For 5 Edge, make the opponent count 2s as glitches or make "something fortuitous happen". Again, it isn't clear if you can declare this after the roll or not, and losing 5 Edge for nothing is pretty harsh.
  • For all your Edge points and a permanent point off your Edge stat, you can force a roll to an automatic success with four net hits (again, not sure if it's before or after the roll), or avoid death. This is slightly odd, since you'd usually die by taking too much Overflow damage, and in order to be taking Overflow damage at all you have to be unconscious, so you can be unconscious for a bit longer. And no, we don't find out if this cancels the hit that would have killed you (thus being better the more damage that hit did). In fact, just to confuse everything, there's a statement that "if you were wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the Puget Sound, burning Edge might allow you to find an old, discarded scuba tank, but it won't automatically get you out from underwater" which is.. just baffling. How is that not a 5 Edge "something good happens" action, rather than a "don't die" action? Did the authors forget that you can't breathe directly out of a SCUBA tank unless someone helpfully discarded a regulator as well, and that there is no SCUBA gear in the Gear chapter whatsoever? Eh, this is just weird.

Once you've done that, if the attacker got more hits than the defender they hit, and they add the Net Hits of the roll to the Base Damage of the weapon in order to calculate the damage done. This creates a bit of a problem. Most weapon base damages are quite small, but if you minmax heavily the net hits on an attack can dwarf them. In Fifth Edition, there was a rule that limited the maximum number of net hits you could carry over based on the weapon you were using, but apparently everyone hated it and Sixth Edition has dropped it, so a sufficiently Agile/skilled character can just peg anyone between the eyes with a light pistol.

Now, we have to deal with multiple attacks, and this is so confusing I'm just going to have to do this bit by bit. There's a "multiple attacks" minor action which says: "A character can attack more than one opponent, assuming ammunition, reach and enemy placement allow it. Split your dice pool evenly among all targets, or if you are using two different forms of attack, use half the dice pool for each rounded down. This attack must be used in conjunction with an Attack Major Action."

So. If you want to hit two people with a sword, say, you can just do it with a minor action if you're prepared to split your pool in half. It's not clear if you divide the pool after the roll or before, but OK, this isn't bad.

But now we have to worry about guns. Guns have four possible firing modes. Single Shot mode says "you fire a single bullet". So, is that a single bullet with my attack action, but the minor action pulls the trigger more than once? No idea. Next. Semi Auto: "you fire two rounds rapidly with two trigger pulls", for +1 damage and -2 attack rating. So is that with one action, or with the multiple attack action? Don't know. And the vast majority of firearms in the game are listed as having the Semi Auto mode, but not the Single Shot mode (although just in case you thought it was common sense that any Semi-Auto firearm could fire one shot at a time, there's one gun which does explicitly have both). So can you not just choose to pull the trigger twice? Or can you do that, but only be aiming at one target?

Burst Fire. You can either shoot a narrow burst for -4 AR and +2 damage, or shoot a wide burst and split the dice pool between two targets. We don't find out if this splitting the dice pool is the same splitting the dice pool as with the Multiple Attack minor action or if it's a separate way of getting the same result. Finally, Full Auto "allows multiple attacks without using the Multiple Attack minor action"; you split your dice pool among any valid targets in range, but there's a side comment that in this case, you can "attack a single target with a series of small die pools" (there is no reason to ever do that, except one we'll come to..) But it lowers the Attack Rating by 6. So does using the multiple attack minor action to split your pool not give you the AR penalties, or.. well, god knows.

But what makes this much worse is probably the most infamous confusion in the 6th Edition rules. See, as well as modifying rolls by spending Edge, you can also take Edge Actions, which are modified actions that cost edge and also require certain combinations of other actions to be taken at the time. One of these is called Anticipation, it costs 4 edge, and it reads "when performing this multiple attack, roll your full dice pool for each target."

So, Mr. GM, I have an FN P93 Praetor SMG. It has a 50 round clip and all firing modes except Single Shot. I want to take the Anticipation Edge action with the Multiple Attacks minor action. Note that the text of Multiple Attacks says "assuming ammunition, range, and enemy placement allow it"; it does not say anything about Fire Mode. Since I don't have to split my dice pool, can I shoot 50 people? Or, perhaps I could use it on Full Auto. Anticipation requires me to use the Multiple Attacks minor action; Full Auto says it allows me to use multiple attacks without using a Multiple Attack action, but it doesn't say I can't decide to take that action if I want to, so can I take Full Auto with Anticipation and shoot one guy with my dice pool 50 times? Bleugh. Look, nobody knows. Just leave it.

While we're on the topic: let's have the rest of the Edge actions.

  • Shank (1 edge): reduce your penalty from Calling a Shot with a melee attack to -2 dice. -2 dice for +2 damage is a good deal as long as you can hit with the remaining dice.
  • Sudden Insight (1 edge): perform an action that can be performed untrained, but which you aren't trained in, without the normal penalty which is -1 to the dice pool. Yuck. That 1 edge could have bought you a single dice reroll, and while it's true that isn't guaranteed to make up for losing a dice, you can also save your Edge until you've seen you need it.
  • Tactical Roll (1 edge): when you Hit The Dirt, you can use a melee attack in the same round at no penalty for being prone. This is literally impossible to use. If you've had your turn this round, your chance to melee attack is gone. If you haven't had your turn this round, you don't have a minor action to Hit the Dirt with yet.
  • Tumble (1 edge): if you do more damage to an opponent than their Body with a melee attack, they get knocked Prone. Except.. that would have happened anyway. Any attack that does more than an opponent's Body knocks them prone. The only vague thing this might do, I suppose, is to judge it by the damage inflicted before resistance instead of after? Maybe?
  • Bring the Drama (2 edge): when you're conning someone, you can either increase your asking price by 20 percent (assuming that your con is asking someone for money, I guess) or "bring in 200 nuyen from onlookers!" I admit it's kind of hilarious to imagine someone watching someone conning someone else and being so impressed you toss them a tip. Actually, it's even weirder than that: technically in order to use it, you have to not just be conning someone, you have to be taking the Use Skill: Con action, which means you're using the Con skill in combat, and you can't use this when just talking to someone.
  • Fire from Cover (2 edge): lets you fire from the highest possible level of cover without spending a minor action. 2 edge for 1 minor action? Seriously?
  • Knockout Blow (2 edge): if you deal damage greater than the target's Willpower with a melee attack, you immediately fill their Stun Condition Monitor and they go down. Do you get to know the target's Willpower? Um, who knows?
  • Wrest: when you block an attack, roll Close Combat + Agility vs the attacker's Strength; if you beat them, you steal their weapon. Aha. This is the only thing in the game that's trying to prevent using Strength as a dump stat for melee weapon users.
  • Big Speech (4 edge) lets you make an Influence check twice. The first time each hit gives +1 dice pool to the second one, and the second one is your actual hits for the text.
  • Called Shot - Disarm (5 edge) lets you make an attack which makes the opponent drop their weapon if it hits but does not do any damage. They'll have to spend a whole Major Action next turn to pick it up! That was worth 5 Edge. Ugh.
  • Called Shot - Vitals (5 edge) makes your attack deal 3 extra damage if it hits. Again, this is pretty terrible since anything else that increased your attack dice pool would increase chance to hit as well as damage.

So. How about the weapons? They're rated by a base damage level and type, their attack ratings at different range bands, and price. With only those three values, can we say "redundancy"? I mean, we could copy and paste all the rating tables here, but it wouldn't be really any fun. There's plenty of mismatches, like how a polearm is 10 nuyen cheaper than a combat knife but has the same rating and deals 1 more damage, and a club is 10 nuyen cheaper than a Sap and identical but for 1 extra damage. Presumably this is on the grounds that the club and the polearm are more difficult to hide, because there's rules for weapon concealability.. but although there's rules for making concealment rolls, no weapon actually gets given a concealment rating, it's all made up by the GM.

Also, we need to meet the wonderful world of the Wireless Bonus. See, Shadowrun Fourth Edition really, really wanted to make sure the hacker had something to do during combat by letting them hack the opponent's cyberware and gear, but because hacking was way too easy for the setting, the result was that every PC group suddenly became luddites en masse and shut down all wireless functionality on all their weapons. So from Fifth Edition onwards, they decided to add a bonus to gear that provides a power-up if you leave the wireless functionality, and the Matrix connection, on your weapons switched on.

Many of these bonuses are ridiculous.

Again, we won't go through them all. But probably the most cringe-inducing is that if you leave the Wi-Fi connection on your taser or shock gloves on, it recharges wirelessly over the Internet. Yes, let's just beam some electricity over the Matrix to them, what could go wrong? Most of the slightly more sensible ones relate to taking less actions to do certain things with the equipment as a result of being able to send a wireless signal to activate them instead of pressing a button (although oddly the equipment doesn't require you to actually have any personal networking equipment, so I guess you can just activate it over Wi-fi with your mind}. Some others are:

  • Guns require a matrix connection to display the amount of ammo they have left.
  • The Fichetti Tiffani Needler, a fabulous fashion accessory that shoots flechettes, can change colour if connected to the Internet.
  • The Aztech Striker Missile Launcher will automatically Google "how to aim" and increase its dice pool by +1 if its connection is intact. No, the thing it's shooting at doesn't have to be on the Matrix, which would have made a bit more sense.
  • If the Bipod mount for a gun is Internet connected, it becomes sturdier. If a Laser Sight has a Matrix connection it becomes more accurate.
  • An unloaded clip of ammo will show you the number of bullets it contains, but only if it's online.

One last thing to deal with just before I admit I'm really too tired to be writing tonight. Chucking grenades at people! If you throw a grenade, you make your Agility + Athletics test as normal, but instead of being compared to defence, the raw hits determine how far the grenade scatters. The scatter is calculated based on taking the net hits on the roll, adding or subtracting a range band modifier, then subtracting the result from a raw 2d6. You then roll another 2d6 to see which direction the scatter takes place in, out of 11 possibilities. Yes, there's arrows in all different directions, not just 45 degree or 90 degree directions. What, you thought you were going to play this on a grid? No, of course not! You're going to be breaking out the tape measures for this baby!

So. Yea. Ballistic weapons are a bloody nightmare in any system and this is no exception. Literally the first character one of my players tried to make in Fourth Edition was a grenade specialist and the first action that he took was to blow himself up with a bad scatter roll. There's no rules for rolling grenades down terrain, for how they're blocked by cover above the target, for how terrain lie affects scatter (yes, your grenade can scatter up a flight of stairs), and so on. It's not quite as ridiculous as Fourth Edition where the scatter modifiers were ludicrously high, but it's still incredibly risky, and there's a nice 1/18 chance of the grenade scattering back towards the thrower.

Oh, also, grenades don't have any Attack Rating, so you can't get Edge by using them.. or by defending against them!

Right, my head hurts. That's enough for now. Next step? Chrome under the skin. And writing about it, too.

Oh, wait! Bonus! People have asked who wrote this. Well, no, it's not Jason Hardy who was the traditional Shadowrun author after Fourth. The credits list, with a bit of research, is:

Brooke Chang, Kevin Czarnecki, Jeff Halket, Dylan Stangel, and Alexander Kadar; all authors from Fifth Edition supplements.
Michael Messmer, author of.. um, two sample adventures.
O.C. Presley, another Fifth Edition author but also the only author involved linked with Shadowrun Anarchy.
Scott Schletz, an old-school type who's written much earlier supplements too and worked on the Fifth Edition core, but he also worked on Court of Shadows so meh.
Robert Volbrecht, who has no prior credits.

hyphz fucked around with this message at 23:34 on Oct 9, 2019

Drakli
Jan 28, 2004
Goblin-Friend

Joe Slowboat posted:

1 Maybe they'll even remember the incident on cue, but only then, and it won't influence them in any way. "Hey, remember when an immense technohorror emerged from the lake and devoured Mr. Jones from down the street?" "No... oh, yes, that was a few weeks ago, wasn't it? I remember because I was on my way to Starbucks but they were out of my favorite flavors."

Sort of an experiment in normalizing Techno-Gnostic Monstrosity in a localized area? I imagine the God Machine could get Its work done much more efficiently without needing all this Concealment Infrastructure just to keep the herd in line.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Nessus posted:

They didn't particularly try to stop emigration during the Famine, or at least if they did I never heard of it. They just didn't help particularly, either.
It wasn't the British government but English landlords that did everything they could to keep the Irish strapped to the land and exporting the resulting food rather than letting the Irish eat it. At every single point during the famine Ireland had a net food export. Also it was widely known that other strains of potato were far less impacted by the blight, but the blight vulnerable potatoes were the ones the primarily English land owners could turn a profit selling to the rest of Europe. The Irish Potato Famine was very inch the genocide that the Holodomor was, just you know perpetrated by and for capitalists.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Drakli posted:

Sort of an experiment in normalizing Techno-Gnostic Monstrosity in a localized area? I imagine the God Machine could get Its work done much more efficiently without needing all this Concealment Infrastructure just to keep the herd in line.

Yes, or at least, that's what this particular occult matrix needs: You can only summon that particular horror, or put to sleep that particular Thing, if you have a bunch of mortal witnesses, and in this case it's easier to have dummies with sleeper programming than go through the whole rigamarole of maintaining a cult (especially if there's a Thing that might be able to put a cult to its own use).

I don't think the Machine is likely to try ruling openly anytime soon, or rather late, since I think the Demon ST Guide had a setting concept for 'the God Machine goes back to the Bronze Age Levant to establish an openly Machine-ruled city-state in the hopes of ruling the future more directly, like a reverse Aku from Samurai Jack, but this ultimately exploded.' The Machine is powerful but it's pretty drat vulnerable to people who know about it, because the machinery it operates on is the Infrastructure. It's not quite the Exarchs, though it's more immediately present in people's lives and is more independent of the symbolic state of humanity.

E: Basically if humanity at large knew about and rejected the Machine, the only probable response it could muster would be 'reload timeline from save state' with a big occult matrix. Which makes 'the plot of Terminator but with Demons' extremely viable, since humanity at open war with angels and a giant Matrix intended to send hunter angels back in time to prevent the revelation is just extremely God-Machine.

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 00:38 on Oct 10, 2019

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




hyphz posted:

In Fifth Edition, there was a rule that limited the maximum number of net hits you could carry over based on the weapon you were using, but apparently everyone hated it and Sixth Edition has dropped it

Or possibly Jason Hardy hated it for some reason. :v:

Also those wireless bonuses are mindboggingly dumb.

Servetus
Apr 1, 2010


Halloween Jack posted:

The irony of building a "fighter" character in Shadowrun is that you can spend hours modding and tweaking every piece of gear...but your entire character revolves around having Wired Reflexes.

Street Samurai, Former Company Man, Mercenary, Bodyguard...you can bin this whole group of archetypes and call them the Wired Reflex Haver.

There's another set of related Archetypes that includes the Ganger, Weapons Specialist, Tribal Warrior, and Rocker. These are the "Front-line fighter that doesn't have Wired Reflexes," and you can group them together as characters you will not play if you know how this system works.

Edit: During a brief period where I GMed, I banned Wired Reflexes and similar cyberware. PCs got a lot more interesting in a hurry.

Was there ever a standard rationale for where SINless nobodies were getting the cash to get all the hot cyberware, or decks or drones? I mean you can't fight your way to getting your wired reflexes if you need the wired reflexes to be relevant in a fight. Looking through Shadowrun it seems like you either play one of the Magical 1% or the financial top 10%. But then you get character backstories about growing up on the street. Something doesn't add up.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Servetus posted:

Was there ever a standard rationale for where SINless nobodies were getting the cash to get all the hot cyberware, or decks or drones? I mean you can't fight your way to getting your wired reflexes if you need the wired reflexes to be relevant in a fight. Looking through Shadowrun it seems like you either play one of the Magical 1% or the financial top 10%. But then you get character backstories about growing up on the street. Something doesn't add up.
I would guess a selection effect: You get sufficient funds from doing something stupid and risky to obtain Wired Reflexes, at which point your career is on its way. People whose stupid and risky actions led to their deaths do not become PCs.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



In 3e it was a serious problem because to be a real cyborg you needed your backstory to explain how you got crammed with 1,000,000 nuyen worth of ware. 4e reduced it to 100K making it considerably more manageable.

(Then 5e reintroduced the problem for deckers)

The Lone Badger fucked around with this message at 02:36 on Oct 10, 2019

Mr. Prokosch
Feb 14, 2012

Behold My Magnificence!


The only backstories I can think of is "corporate super-soldier who 'stole' his body when he quit," or "rich-kid just here for the violence."

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Usually the cyber comes from the job you had before you were a runner. Corps and governments get that stuff way cheaper.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I am the sort of person who would absolutely leave my weapon open to hacking if it meant I could change its color whenever.

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

I have been informed that it's now October and thus time to do horrifying things.



New Horizon Part 1: Once more unto the breach

If you're a somewhat regular reader, you may have seen my coverage of Knights & Legends. This is the designer's second try. The original K&L has been removed from online distribution for an eventual reworking to "Ludens 2.0", the system backing New Horizon. Like our last go round, there will be regressive and/or gross content. As before, pairs of quotation marks will generally denote small snippets of text pulled directly from the book, formatting, capitalization, punctuation and all.

Everything you see in these updates will be typed by hand. We are assured that this is a feature and not a bug, because the table of contents that lists only chapter titles and page numbers is more than enough to find your way around. Who needs text search or copy/paste in 2019?

So what should you expect from this freshly redesigned core system? Severed limbs. Impairing debilities and illnesses. Parry and counter systems. A family tree. Levels and equipment statistics. Exciting and unique new enemies like goblins, ghouls, and succubi. Standard game mechanics that were not present in the first game. The family tree could be interesting. I mean, it isn't really, but it could have been. We'll get to that.

If you happen to have run through the story of Knights & Legends, New Horizon takes place 50 years after that. I have no desire to retread that ground and the only existing reviews seem to be on RPG Geek so head over there if you're curious. There's a bit of text here discussing the formation of the new nation of Etheros. Its description is stuck after the introduction and not in the world nations chapter for reasons. Sir Calban's (a plot armor dude from one of the previous adventures) wife who does not deserve a name "was chosen to rule as sovereign queen; Under others." I'm not quite sure what that means. Is the sovereign queen subordinate to others? Is this a hosed up way of saying she was the first but there have been others since? I could see it going either way.

Following that are some gaming guidelines. You know what? Here you go. Have an image.



I think I sort of implied last time that the published adventures were a bit railroady, to put it lightly. This time we've got an Adventure Teller, multiple Custom Actors, and etiquette rules that are player-facing only. I think it speaks for itself.

After those guidelines, we see the standard section that outlines what you need. Luckily, there are only two things - a set of polyhedrals and a black-and-white printer. You use the printer to print off exactly four character sheets. Rounding out the "How to Play" section is a recommendation to take a 15 minute break per hour and a few paragraphs under a "Freedom of Choice" heading. Those are a bit interesting - the players may make choices that detract from the story so you should modify the story to keep it on track.

That apparently takes us through the first four entries in the ToC - Introduction, Story, Concept, and How to Play. The only header that is present in the entire book seems to be "Introduction". If there are weird typesetting people in the audience, Introduction would be like a \chapter in LaTeX while Concept (see the image above for reference) would be more like a \subsection and Story would just go unmarked. So finding things may be a bit less of a treat than I was promised.

I'm going to skip character creation and talk about nations now because that makes the most sense. Nations are sandwiched smack dab between races and the family tree system. In short - go read the Knights & Legends entry in the archive. Here are the differences - an apocalypse seems to have happened and worms are no longer present in the list of fauna per nation. The Vancroft leader has changed, now being some dude with the unfortunate name of Marcus Sextus. Kenjiwah is still ruled by the dude that you were forced to kill in one of the old adventurers. And Khimesh is even more :biotruths: than it was last time, adding a centuries-old story regarding the capture of two orcish children as gifts to a king of one of the several kingdoms of white dudes. Said king was disgusted by those beasts so they're slaves now.

That takes us up to page 7 and the start of character creation. We'll cover that all on its own. I promise, more backwards thinking will be coming soon.

Flail Snail fucked around with this message at 11:52 on Oct 10, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

wired reflexes are so good (at least in 2E and 3E) that unless you expect your character to use magic, you should make room to get those built in. since the initiative system works off "passes" and wired reflexes gives you more passes, it's literally giving you more turns to play than characters without them.
Wired Reflexes is a neat little case study in how a trivial bad design decision can really impact your game.

Wired Reflexes (and a few pieces of gear that are similar alternatives) give you a huge initiative boost that can become multiple actions. Designers usually only do this kind of thing when they don't realize that breaking the action economy trumps almost anything else. The Shadowrun designers were aware of how good it is, and made it really expensive in both Essence and cash.

But that's still bad. It almost splits the game between those who have it and those who don't. If you're a street samurai or similar gunhaver, most of your money is bound up in this one piece of gear. If you're not a mage, and you're not a decker or a rigger, there's a huge incentive to put more build points into money and get Wired Reflexes. It discourages those nonmagical skill-focused roles like "detective" or "face."

(Riggers have their own version of Wired Reflexes called Vehicle Control Rig, the thing that lets you drive a car with your brain. It's even more soul-sucking for them than it is for street samurai, because the more you spend on VCR the less you're spending on your KITT or your Airwolf or your Jokermobile.)

megane posted:

It turns out "get twice as many turns as anyone else" is pretty good. Maybe it shouldn't be an opt- oh wait, it's traditional, we obviously have to keep it forever.
I've had people tell me that banning Wired Reflexes makes sense but they can't imagine Shadowrun without it. It's purely nostalgia for the system and the (bad) gameplay, because it's not like Wired Reflexes has the iconic visual aesthetic of something like a lightsaber.

The Lone Badger posted:

In 3e it was a serious problem because to be a real cyborg you needed your backstory to explain how you got crammed with 1,000,000 nuyen worth of ware.
I've never found this convincing. This is one of those things that cropped up in the fandoms of games from the 80s and 90s--we know this is broken, we don't want to fix it for dumb reasons, so it's up to the GM to regulate it by making weird demands.

Anyway. Surely the megacorporate private army isn't paying street price for their cyberware. Considering what it costs to train and deploy you to the Desert Wars, doubling that to test the new product line is a drop in the bucket compared to the marketing budget...

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Halloween Jack posted:

I've never found this convincing. This is one of those things that cropped up in the fandoms of games from the 80s and 90s--we know this is broken, we don't want to fix it for dumb reasons, so it's up to the GM to regulate it by making weird demands.

I meant that it was a problem with the game. If you wanted to be a cybered fighter then your choices re backstory would be weirdly distorted and limited. A lot of character concepts wouldn't work because they didn't explain the 'ware, impairing creativity.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

hyphz posted:

But probably the most cringe-inducing is that if you leave the Wi-Fi connection on your taser or shock gloves on, it recharges wirelessly over the Internet. Yes, let's just beam some electricity over the Matrix to them, what could go wrong?

Fun fact, this is actually probably possible. There are materials that can convert wifi signal into electricity, but there are problems of scale and how much electricity you can get out of it. It's possible that in real life we won't ever be able to get enough converted electricity to recharge a taser (I genuinely don't know the numbers behind it), but it's still somehow one of the least implausible bits of tech in Shadowrun.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply