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Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

The Lone Badger posted:

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.

Who needs a backstory to explain your 'ware when you can get points for having Amnesia! Do less work, get more points!

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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!


Whoof, somehow I missed the original Knights & Legends review, but New Horizons is off to a "strong" start by which I mean anything with those sorts of GM attitudes is usually dogshit. :v:

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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



The brave Latino lady that will never stop propping up US imperialism: will work with demons, organize a militia, try everything really.
This guy: when all you have are skills to draw and analyze blood, everything looks like a blood sample in waiting. If he met a metal Promethian, he'd freak.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Is it just me, or are the subject of this Night Horrors book generally a lot less villainous than the previous two books? They tend to be people you can understand even if you don't agree with them (even the angels), and their body counts are significantly lower.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Well, if you're playing as a spy, you'd expect to spend a lot of your time trying to suborn rather than kill your enemies anyway.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Enemy Action
Part 16: Office Building Brain


I can't quite put my finger on why this face weirds me out.

Grace Pham is a sleeper agent conditioned by the Machine to function as part of its massive nervous system - the Command and Control Infrastructure. These pieces of Infrastructure are often integrated into corporate HQs, military bases or government facilities, which are already highly protected, and most agents within them have no idea what they are helping. But some projects, like Grace's, require more direct control. Grace thinks she just daydreams about weird poo poo a lot in her free time as a receptionist; she has no idea that her daydreams are reflections of her actual sleeper activities. She's an ambitious woman who graduated top of her class, plays multiple instruments and has half a novel written. She expected to be a top surgeon...but in sophomore year, she dropped out of college because her family could no longer afford to pay. The recession shut down their bookstore and her dad came down with lung cancer, and all the pressure was just too much.

Her life went through ups and downs, but she managed to help her family hold together. It took years, and she had no idea, when it all seemed to be getting better, how to get back on her old track. College was too expensive now, jobs hard to find and she couldn't move out in case her mom's depression or her dad's cancer relapsed. Thanks to her elder sister's connections, she got a job at Hampton Solutions, a corporation recently moved into the city, and became a receptionist. It was boring but not much else. Few calls came in, visitors never showed, and upper management liked her enough to send her to a corporate retreat. That'd be where the programming happened. Hampton Solutions, while quite busy, doesn't...produce much. They throw out a lot of words, but mostly they're business and marketing analysts consulted by various clients to do numeric analysis and write white papers. They do enough of this to keep the doors open, but a key percentage of their work backs Command and Control Infrastructure. Some of their charts and data - not a lot, but some - transmit orders and instructions. The company's been part of the Machine since shortly after its founding, and its databanks contain massive amounts of occult information.

The company picks key employees for corporate retreats at a special facility. These employees are programmed to perform new tasks in the secret structure of the company-cult. They picked Grace because she's determined, focused and ambitious - a perfect project manager for occult analytics. She is activated frequently and has led at least three projects to successful completion. Management is very impressed with her ability to plan, and she is marked for intensive future programming to produce an even better agent. She's a small, stocky Vietnamese lady in her 20s, usually with a ponytail and sensible clothes. She's got a birthmark on her right cheek that is a different color than the rest of her skin. When her programming activates, she puts on a green sweater she keeps in her desk, which is apparently a sign of rank and authority in the secret cult in the company.

As normal Grace, Grace is kind and soft-spoken at least until her academic interests come out - at that point she dominates conversation. She's still passionate, even if she thinks her ambitions are dead. She always carries a notebook, often writing down ideas for stories or reminders to herself. Her activation signal is a particular remix of Clair de Lune with reversed key tonality. The office plays this every day around noon, which all employees are required to use as their lunch hour. Activated sleepers meet for a brief lunch and spend the rest of the hour interpreting and sending out data in a special room on floor B5, which is under heavy guard. The company reinforces sleeper programming via freely available meditation recordings. While activated, Grace is ruthless, cunning and a tactical genius, largely because her moral fiber and personality are completely suppressed. She expects obedience, and for a sleeper agent she's shockingly good at improvisation and self-direction, which would be a problem if she weren't also absolutely loyal to the Machine.

Grace can vaguely recall her lunchtime activities and knows she zones out during lunch; she tells herself that these are daydreams, which she recalls only hazily anyway. She can't remember exactly what she was doing or what she saw, but she likes the feeling she gets. Every day after lunch she feels accomplished and fulfilled, which is otherwise not a common thing in her life. However, she's starting to realize something's wrong. She's started to notice weird phrases and symbols in her notebook, clearly written by her but which she cannot recall ever making. They aren't incriminating on their own, but they only started after the first corporate retreat. She's decided she's going to start recording her daydreams in as much detail as she can to figure out what's going on.

Grace has developed a giant crush on a coworker, Maxine, who works in the mailroom. The main reason she hasn't pursued it yet is that technically, Grace is one of her bosses in the corporate structure. Maxine has never been on a corporate retreat, and Grace feels an urge to invite her onto one - an urge that she is having great trouble resisting. In the meantime, she is running a long-term project while under sleeper programming. The Machine has noticed breakthroughs in brain mapping that it wants to take advantage of. Specifically, it appears to want a brain map of every living being on Earth for its files. One of the occult matrices involved in recording all these brain maps requires the sacrifice of an entire family. Sleeper Agent Grace has volunteered her own, though normal Grace has no idea and has yet to be called on to perform the act.

While Hampton Solutions is guarded by normal corporate security, the sleepers also make for a line of very effective defense. Grace is both a project lead and a combat lead, and she's personally executed someone whose sleeper programming broke down and started to rebel. The main reason these rebels happens is that the programming method at the corporate retreats allows sleepers to retain a sense of individual mind while active. This allows for people like Grace, who are self-directed and useful, but also means some people with a stronger sense of self rebel and attempt to escape or start splinter groups. Also, Grace has been using her daydreams as the source of inspiration for her fiction. While she cannot recall the exact details, parts of her sleeper agent life are recorded in the Winnie Magnum series, urban fantasy spy fiction that she puts out on a serial fiction website to rave reviews. A small proportion of readers are actually demons, who have realized that some of the fiction contains hints of the Machine's plans.

Grace is quite intelligent but otherwise average statistically. She's an excellent researcher and academic, decent with computers and science, a decent shot and fighter with melee weapons, a good writer and good at talking to people. She also speaks Vietnamese, French and Spanish in addition to English. She has no idea exactly how good she is at fighting.


Catch me if you can.

Liam Brown is always someone you know, even though he comes out of nowhere. He can see the demon under the flesh, but he's understanding and always ready to help. His presence causes compromises, but he seems to fit and he's always sympathetic. It's only when the angels come that a demon realizes that he should never have been there - and by then, it's far too late. Liam doesn't care. He's a survivor and he doesn't care who he has to throw to the angels to do it. He's a Stigmatic and he is more than willing to use his power to integrate himself into demonic covers to survive. He's an orphan who spent his youth bouncing between foster homes and the juvenile justice system. It was in juvie that he ended up getting pulled into the Machine's plans.

An angel disguised as a woman named Emily Brown had to pretend to be a single mom with a kid in juvie so she could set fire to an apartment block and kill all the tenants as sacrifices. It was all supposed to be a tragic set of deaths caused by a woman falling asleep with a lit cigarette. Liam was selected as the child entirely because his last name matched and his records were the easiest to gently caress with. There's just one problem: Emily Brown liked her life too much. She enjoyed hanging with her neighbors, planning her routines and missing the son she had never actually met. One day she visited him, and that was the day she Fell. What had been purely a fictional relationship became suddenly real as causality and history twisted around her. Liam suddenly had vivid memories of a woman he'd never met raising him. He was spontaneously turned not only into a Stigmatic but an Offspring, the biological child of a demon. That's when the hunter angel busted in and started tearubg everything apart. Liam ran and never looked back, abandoning Emily and his old life.

Liam has become a con artist, fleeing the law and the Machine alike. He's insanely good at it thanks to the manifestation of his demon heritage. After a year, he became able to manipulate memories and integrate himself into people's lives. As long as he wasn't being chased, he could survive anywhere. At first, avoiding cops and angels was easy - they were able to be manipulated and distracted. Then the feds got involved, though, and they're harder to fool. Plus, the angels sent after him got tougher. He's realized that it's never going to stop if he can't get demons to help him out - or if he can't find a better way. That came when an angel came after him as he was hanging in a sandwich shop run by a demon whose Agency he'd been working with. He intended to briefly steal a cashier's identity, but found he was able to entirely become the cashier and go unnoticed by the angel. Even the demons didn't seem to notice what he'd done. Liam expected it to last forever...but Mr. Oregon, the demon shop owner, found his Cover rapidly deteriorating, and when he ended up captured by angels, Liam had to run again. But now, he had a tool to survive with.

When Liam isn't wearing someone else's form, he's a white teenager with a side-parted undercut. He's desperate, but he keeps himself looking good as best he can, favoring expensive clothes if possible. He always wears dark sunglasses to hide the circuit patterns in his eyes. Whenever he reaches a new city, he goes to the first Agency he finds and asks for shelter. If he can't get it, he'll head to the next city, but otherwise he makes himself at home, does odd jobs for local demons and acts generally loud and friendly...until he decides he feels unsafe or disliked. At that point he starts looking for a life to steal. He prefers victims with direct ties to a demon, especially close relationships, though he'll settle for indirect ones if he has to. That's because they're more likely to be protected by the demon, and also because he's lonely and feels a desperate need for company. He often tries to get involved in the life of the demon he's parasitizing, even if the form he's wearing was not aware of the demon's true nature. He's always a good listener. The main giveaways that he's not who he says are, firstly, how he acts, since he doesn't really alter his behavior, and second, his tics - he's got a habit of fidgeting with his hands when nervous. Last, his stigmata always show through.

Liam actually wants to become a demon entirely. He thinks of his power as a minor version of the soul pact, and thinks that he'll develop other demonic abilities with time and effort. He's always on the lookout for rituals that might complete his transformation. In truth, he's merely exploring the Demon-Blooded Cipher, and his ability is his first Interlock. The Demon-Blood Cipher functions for Offspring similarly to demons, but rather than a final secret, achieving the complete Cipher gives the Machine a backdoor into their brain and lets it force them to perform small but significant actions according to its will. This is explained in Heirs to Hell, the book on Demon-Bloods. Liam also has an angel buddy - Harmonious Convergence, the only angel that has so far not tried to capture him. It wants to use him as a spy on the demons he hangs with and offers power in exchange. Liam hasn't taken it up on the offer...yet. Liam is trying to teach his powers to others as a part of his scam. Specifically, he has a Youtube channel in which he pretends his powers are advanced psychological techniques, and he offers private lessons for a huge fee. It has, apparently, been actually working to teach people somehow.

Liam suffers occasional lapses in memory, but not because he's a sleeper agent. It's more of a side effect of the memory alterations that came during the Fall of Emily Brown. He's not serving the Machine (yet) - he's just selfish and trying to survive. Emily Brown is also still alive, using the name Ms. Peridot. She went Loud in order to escape the angels after Liam fled, so he's the only one that really remembers Emily Brown existed, and her Cover isn't one he'd recognize. Despite this, she still loves him and wants to reunite. Liam's victims also aren't dead - he's not making soul pacts, though he thinks he is. What happens is the people whose lives he inhabits are placed in quantum containment until he leaves their identity. They remember nothing of what he does when he's wearing their lives, so to outsiders it appears to be weird behavior accompanied by amnesia.

Liam's extremely manipulative but otherwise pretty average. He's got a wide array of skills but isn't very good at most of them except lying, which he excels at. He's a good con artist, hard to remember and good at fast talking. He is able to temporarily hijack identities or insert himself into other people's memories via his demonic Embeds, and they combine to form his first Interlock, Stepping In, which lets him transform into someone as noted above. He uses their stats and skills, and the Cover of the demon most emotionally close to them helps disguise who he really is, at the cost of risking compromise for that demon. Liam's Stigmatic glitch is the aforementioned circuit patterns in his irises.

Next time: The Cryptid Wrangler, the Ten Thousand Names of God

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Having the Offspring's version of the Cipher actually be bad when the demon version is (probably) good has never really made sense to me.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




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.

if you're talking about fresh characters, it's assumed that their backstory includes an explanation for why they have the things they have. of course there's no mechanical interaction with this, so if someone takes Resources as their best trait and spends a million nuyen turning their character into the terminator and then doesn't put effort into explaining how they got that way, there's no punishment outside GM fiat. if everyone is playing in good faith, that character's backstory should be rife with adventure hooks because it's extremely unlikely that whatever organization chromed them out is totally cool with them loving off to be a shadowrunner.

if you're talking about characters in play, there's all kinds of shady back-alley cyber docs that'll charge you exorbitant fees to install whatever poo poo you want. part of the reason cyberware had quality grades was to gatekeep how easily players could get really OP gear, meaning something like an omega-grade wired reflexes 3 system would only be available in some heavily fortified corporate R&D lab or in the underground bunker of some military black-ops site, so getting in there and jacking the gear would be several adventures on its own, plus then you've still got some very pissed off and powerful agency that wants their poo poo back and wants your head on a plate.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ah, the acrobatics done to make the kid sympathetic. He thinks he's destroying the souls of people to impersonate them, but he actually isn't, so he's not a monster you should whack!

...except for the fact that he's doing it despite knowing/thinking he's destroying souls, so that still makes him monstrous.

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Mors Rattus posted:

I can't quite put my finger on why this face weirds me out.

I think it's mostly that the eyes are way too close together. You're right, it does look off.

JcDent posted:

Ah, the acrobatics done to make the kid sympathetic. He thinks he's destroying the souls of people to impersonate them, but he actually isn't, so he's not a monster you should whack!

I haven't read the actual book, and maybe it's wafflier about the matter, but at least from Mors's writeup I didn't get the impression Liam's supposed to be sympathetic at all (unlike many of the other characters in this book). He seems to be pretty unambiguously presented as completely selfish and uncaring about who he hurts.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Liam is pretty explicitly a selfish rear end in a top hat who doesn't care who he hurts. IMO the most sympathetic person in his writeup is Emily/Ms. Peridot, who managed to fall in love with her fake paradox kid based entirely on having his fake life story put in her head and meeting him for an hour, tops. Like, she really does just want to be a good mom to this teenage jerk.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Yeah, I don't get the vibe we're suppose to sympathize with Liam - understand why he's so messed up, but not sympathize.

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



Rand Brittain posted:

Having the Offspring's version of the Cipher actually be bad when the demon version is (probably) good has never really made sense to me.

Agreed, especially when the actual demonic Cipher is more often than not portrayed as something beyond the scope of the God-Machine's instructions, a kind of cosmic lifeline identified by the Primum. They feel like polar opposites, sharing only the fact that advancing them gives you special powers. I'd honestly like the Demon-Blooded Cipher better if it worked exactly the same but just had an entirely different name.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I Am Just a Box posted:

just had an entirely different name.

Please, we don't need more proper nouns

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




JcDent posted:

Please, we don't need more proper nouns

Please, no more sand on this beach.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s time.



We have finished The Key. Character Creation is behind us. So now, we move on to The Gate. Which is Rules, GM Advice… and The Sooth Deck. God help us all. I’m going to be blitzing through this because as you well know, if there’s one thing more boring than watching oatmeal dry on an institutional white wall, it’s Monte Cook’s mechanics.

Gameplay

This is in fact where we start, after a short paragraph on what Narrative is that is totally unobjectionable. The game as a whole is perfectly fine on the writing end, and has a good grasp of WHAT it’s doing. The issue is just what it’s doing has no reason to be as well executed as it is. Most of this chapter is pretty standard and not very interesting GMing and play advice. How to know when to switch between Narrative and Action Modes in scenes, how to award XP at the end of a session, how to set up and prep for a session, how to handle missing players, etc.

Some quick terminology is the Modes. You got Action Mode which is your basic initiative turn based stuff. Narrative Mode is what they call the non turn-tracked stuff, etc. Basic restatements of standard RPG mechanics.

The weird part comes in Development Mode. Which… I’d almost say is a good idea, in fact it’s a really cool idea! It’s just ruined by clunky execution and a baffling decision to tie it into both The App (Yes, Invisible Sun has an app. It is literally just a chat program and cannot be used for any purposes DURING a session) and the loving Sooth Deck. The App is dumb, but also totally extraneous EXCEPT it isn’t because of the Sooth Deck. We’ll get the THAT but resolution of anything in Development Mode is supposed to be done by drawing a Sooth Card which is awful and we’ll see why much later when I cover that entire nightmare mechanic in its entirety.

Development Mode is basically play between sessions. It’s supposed to let players have solo scenes, do character development, and take care of actions that are not necessarily interesting or important enough to do during live-session-play. It’s a Play-By-Post thing integrated into the rules. This chapter is mostly advice about how to handle it, and it’s actually good! Monte Cook is garbage at game design and setting but he legit does have good GM advice and isn’t a terrible grognard. It’s pretty consistently a thing he’s gotten very good at, just giving practical useful GM and Player advice. Good Job Monte, it’s nothing revolutionary but Competent and Inoffensive is a hell of a high bar to pass in this hobby.



Actions

And here we go. This is the meat of actually rolling. I won't cover everything as I explained a lot back in the last book but some observations:
  • Dice are D10’s, but no 10’s, it’s read and handled as 0-9.
  • ’’Between these two states is a range of numbers, normally 1 to 10. This is called the challenge. (Great skill or magic can broaden the scale to 1 to 13, or even 1 to 17, effectively pushing “impossible” farther and farther off, as advantages make more of the impossible possible.)’’ This is a really confusing paragraph. What it actually means is… Challenge goes up to 17, but everything is split into tiers. 1-10 is Normal Person, 11-13 is Skilled People Only, and 14-17 is Magic Only. Why does it end at 17 instead of 20? Math-wonks feel free to tell me. It feels like an awkward number so there must be some reason to cut it off at 17. The thing I see being an issue is the 11-13, because that’s just fodder for arguing about what is possible for a highly-skilled person to do and is just sort of too wishy-washy for GM’s. Ok no wait, later on we do get a clear reason why it’s 17! Is it based on the presumed “maximum” Venture you can get? Or any maths at all? No. ``The number 17 is the very limit of the suns, the final number of the Nightside Path, and the number of known suns (8) plus the number of actual suns (9). Among other things, it is the number of immortality and divinity `` Yes, difficulty scale is limited by Fake Numerology.
  • Challenge is also the same as level. So NPC Level, level of an obstacle, level of a spell, etc. are all the same thing as Challenge. Sometimes. Sometimes there are specific situations that will increase the Challenge. Nothing decreases Challenge, that just adds to Venture.
  • As a corollary to that, OOPS, Cook does in fact give us an objective measure of challenge in the example of a long-jump. Mainly, the Challenge of a Long Jump is 1 Challenge per foot jumped. So 3 Foot Jump is a Challenge 3. This sounds good except Olympic Long Jumpers regularly leap more than 20 feet. Which means they are making jumps literally impossible even with magic. Oh wait, no sorry you… don’t use real world logic. I’m just going to quote this:

    quote:

    For example, attempting a standing long jump across a gap of 1 foot is challenge 1. A standing long jump of 10 feet is challenge 10. But a typical person can’t leap farther than 6 or 7 feet under normal circumstances. Does that mean that each foot of distance equals +1 to the challenge? Seems close enough to say yes.
    And in fact, it’s that “close enough” that GMs would do well to remember. Don’t agonize over challenges. Set a number and keep the game moving. Rating something on a scale of 1 to 10 is something we’re all fairly used to doing.
    If a character is trying to swim in a raging river, you might think, “Well, that’s a very tough swim, but I can imagine even harder swims (swimming in a tidal wave, perhaps), so I’ll call it challenge 7.”
    Later, the same character is swimming in a pool with a strong current. Not routine, but not as hard as in that river. So you rate it challenge 5.
    That’s all there is to it.
    So, go with what feels right in your belly guts I guess???
  • Magic=Multiple Dice and Multiple Successes. A Challenge against.. Magic? Something involving magic? Magical opposition? Needs Magic to counteract it and that means using magic to get Multiple Dice. If you roll a 0 on one of those extra dice from a spell or ability or Sortiledge you get Flux which is your Random Bullshit Magic Things and Miscast effects and such. More die you get a 0 on, the worse the Flux up to a max of 3 0’s, which can literally just straight kill you instantly. So… more difficult Challenges may need multiple successes and therefore multiple dice and therefore a higher chance of instant magical gently caress-yous.

OK dumping the random thoughts to dig into something meatier:

Using Bene For Effect
Ok so, in addition to spending Bene to bump up your Venture (Your positive modifier to your die roll) you can also spend it instead to modify the results of a successful action. Amazingly, this invokes one of our favorite things! Mandatory “Optional” Abilities! See, there are 4 levels of Effect you can get by spending Bene, but by default you only get level 1 access. Want to be able to spend more to get higher effects? Gotta have the Expansive Endeavor secret (Feat).

What are these effects? Nothing interesting at all, but stupidly designed because certain effects are locked into higher levels for no logical reason.

Level 1: Do +2 Damage, get +1 Venture to social interactions with a character of your choice who knows about your action, +2 to… the same action in the next round, and… nothing. Literally: ‘’Just simply excel: Although there’s no mechanical effect, you succeed at the action with flourish, speed, grace, and aplomb.’’ So we got two semi useful universal things, one that is… just weird, and one that is literally Spend this mechanical resource for no benefit at all. You may say “but narrative advantages are valid rewards for…” no they aren’t EVERYTHING in this game has hard math behind it, it’s literally useless.

Level 2: Another character nearby gets a +1 to their next action, you narratively change the environment in some way, you move farther when doing an action that moves you, you can do a precision called strike to an enemies specific bodypart, you do +4 damage, you knock a character to the ground. So, this tier requires a secret (feat) to access and… only 2 things have mechanical effects. The inspire one character to give them a +1 and the inflict more damage ones are it. None of the others have any actual mechanical effect, it’s all narrative. How far do you move more? Up to the GM to make up, no guidelines or rules. What does a precision strike do? Who knows, ask the GM they have to make it up. Change the environment? Depends. No mechanics.

Level 3: Move AND act. That’s literally a thing you have to spend 3 bene and get a secret (feat) to do, is MOVE and ALSO DO ANOTHER THING. The typical Move and Standard actions require you to spend 3 bene. AS WRITTEN YOU CANNOT BOTH MOVE AND DO ANYTHING ELSE. That’s amazing. The actual action rules just say “anything you can justify as a “single action” or doing one specific thing” but that means that Monte Cook never assumed your magical dimension hopping wizards could both walk AND do magic at the same time. Oh the other stuff is a group version of the Inspire one, give enemies a -1, do +6 damage, group impress, and make a single character lose their next action.

EDIT: I have reread and realized I was incorrect: you can move and perform an action, or move AS an action to move longer distances. The Move and Act is poorly named and merely lets you make ANOTHER move after your action. Also the layout of this book is hot garbage and I literally missed the rules for movement with my eyes.

Level 4: Gain information, either a weakness of an enemy or a secret of another person you’re talking to, something like that. Vague and not a mechanic. -2 ongoing penalty to an enemy via an attack, scare one character into… doing something the GM decides but it’s should be run away or surrender or something but no hard rules sorry! Or +8 damage.

OK the rest of the chapter is pretty much nothing interesting. NPC’s don’t roll, just provide difficulty for PCs, Damage is fixed based on weapon/spell, defenses are rolled by PCs, etc. A mostly dry and not that interesting chapter with a few MAJOR DOOZIES of stupid design.

Next Time: Advanced Rules Modules, Oh God More poo poo to Buy With XP Not In The Character Book Why

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 03:51 on Oct 11, 2019

Drakli
Jan 28, 2004
Goblin-Friend

Mors Rattus posted:


I can't quite put my finger on why this face weirds me out.

It feels like the face got cut and pasted a few pixels too far to the right on the head somehow. It's not quite Picasso, but a little bit there.

Drakli
Jan 28, 2004
Goblin-Friend

Edit: Oops.

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure



New Horizon Part 2: Who are you? Who who, who who?

I hope you're ready for this.

Despite the previous section ending off with the text "Next, is the character creation tutorial.", we don't really start off with one. We get a definition for CA, a few of the steps we'll take when we create our character (but not the first, notably, just a few steps from somewhere in the middle of the process), and text that is trying to be profound or flowery but comes off as broken. I don't want to highlight all of the writing issues because that would involve :filez:. I'll do one more just to reiterate what you'd be dealing with if you were reading this book.

Health & Wellness posted:

Just like any living being, a CA, will be prone to feel, hunger, pain, thirst, and in some occasions, vulnerable to impairing illnesses and diseases.

Some more serious conditions, could even provoke loss of a limb, or death. There will be situations when you should use persuasion, instead of force.

A battle wound could become infected and evolve into a health risk, debilitating many key stats.

First, it's depressing me that this is getting easier to read.

Second, there aren't rules for any of this. There are effects - each race has a line talking about meals and liters of water per day - but that's about it unless those effects are applied on your first day of fasting. No time period after which starvation or dehydration set in. Nothing I've seen regarding actually catching the diseases enumerated later in the book. Keep in mind not being able to do a text search is a feature, so it's not like I can just Ctrl+F "Hepatitis V" (yes, really).

But that's neither here nor there. Let's create a character. Ready for some more :biotruths:?

"In New Horizon, both genders of all races, share neutral stats. But don't worry! That neutrality will be adjusted once you pick a class." . . . "Each race, possess male and female characteristics. That's how the ezorian gods wished them to be."

Moving on. Before we can name our character, we need to pick a race. Enumerating this weird take at nutrition is not compelling so let's snip those unless we see something fun. The races we can choose from are human, dwarf (which, just like in Knights & Legends, benefits from "ticker" skin), elf, orc, and the brand new valkin (or Homo-Angeli, as the text points out). That last is represented by an uncomfortably busty lady. We learn that elves turn into trees when they die but you can delay that using an herbal concoction for some reason.

Let's go with female orc. We take additional damage from fire and lightning sources. We don't need to drink much and we can withstand bacterial infections and parasitic diseases but we require at least three kilograms of meat a day. We write down 5 for our stats and circle 1 for our level. We need a name and I know just where to get one - the official character creation supplement. Picking the only orcish name from the list, our name is Sha'Quita. We can choose to be from any nation but I'll go with Khimesh because that's the arid home that our savage race hails from.

Now we need to fill out our family tree. We do so by rolling 1d6 for the one stat that we'll inherit from each of our parents - Str for men and Wis for women. I got 6 and 5, but we have to subtract 1 from each because that'll totally protect us from an infinitely rising stat boost.

Religion doesn't matter too much mechanically so we'll pick "ancient gods". Moral Code seems to be an open-ended text box so I'm going with "gently caress you, pay me".

Classes and occupations give a stat increase equal to their level and nothing else so choosing what you want is fairly straightforward. At level 1, we can choose between the warrior, hunter, and shaman classes and farmer, fisher, and bartender occupations. Going first in combat is probably good so I'm going to try for a bit of system mastery and choose hunter for our class and bartender for our occupation for a grand total of +2 Spd. Our status as a bartender grants us some amount of income as well (in w/K$, which I'm assuming means "weeks per Kesc"; higher-level occupations have bigger numbers, which seems like a massive downgrade). I'll be sure to note this at the end. Should we gain some levels, we may need to pay to go to Shinobi School or whatever to gain access to that class.

We seem to start off with one skill. At level 1, we can choose between pierce, fireball, and heal. These each cost 2 AP to use and we coincidentally begin with 2 AP. We're going with heal because healing half of your HP every three turns sounds neat. We need to pay for access to higher-level skills once they become available.

And now, every gamer's favorite section - playing dress-up. There's a short list of combined arms/armor and another list of "secondary gear". We haven't been given money yet and the sample character has written three things down so we'll do similar. Sha'Quita is equipped with chainmail, leather armor, and an axe, for a grand total of +2 End, -1 Spd, and +1 Str.

After equipment are a few other item lists. The inventory system is weird, to put it lightly. It's like Minecraft but your inventory is limited to three stacks of three. The sample character bought a selection of potions and ended up with $25 of his $500. Let's just keep our money because none of it is priced.

If we had chosen a bow (or we were level three and thus had access to a flintlock), we'd need to buy a "Steel Arrow Quiver" or a "Lead Pallets" and keep that item in our fourth "special item" slot. Since we don't have one of those, we could instead buy something like a firebomb, lantern, or bear trap. I don't know how much they cost.

Sha'Quita will eventually receive a title for her actions. Titles provide a bonus to influencing someone if titles mean something to them. This amounts to a +1 or +2 depending on the rarity of the title and it seems like you can only have one "active" at a time. Despite us not actually beginning our quest, we seem to start with the title of Adventurer.

Finally, the second most important number in a game that only has combat rules - hit points. We start with 50 and then add 2d20. in Sha'Quita's case, we end up with 82.

With that, we've reached the end of character creation and we definitely have a collection of numbers.

quote:

Sha'Quita the female orc hunter is of fit build with brown hair, green skin, and black hair. She forces people to call her "Adventurer".

She claims to be a bartender but doesn't seem to ever do any bartending. Every 40 weeks, a kesc appears in her coinpurse.

She is always seen wearing chainmail and leather armor while hefting an axe threateningly. If she could use her healing arts to prolong the suffering of her enemies, she would. The ezorian gods seem to only allow her to use those arts on allies, however, which is the sole reason that she took up worshiping the old dead gods out of spite.

HP: 82
AP: 2
Strength: 11
Endurance: 7
Wisdom: 9
Spirit: 5
Speed: 6

Following character creation is a bit on combat. I can't bear to write more so we'll put that off for now.

KirbyKhan
Mar 20, 2009


Soiled Meat

Development mode and THE APP has sparked my interest. It is kinda cool to see Play By Post acknowledged in a rule set and modified as such. Let's your tryhard players be extra in a realm that is off table while still having an accessable account of all this ~secret~ one on one play that the rest of the table can peek in on.

Now, I know that can be easily attained by a Discord server or a cc'd email. So I super can't wait to see how the extra mechanics and the Soothe Deck fucks that all up.

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!


KirbyKhan posted:

Development mode and THE APP has sparked my interest. It is kinda cool to see Play By Post acknowledged in a rule set and modified as such. Let's your tryhard players be extra in a realm that is off table while still having an accessable account of all this ~secret~ one on one play that the rest of the table can peek in on.

Now, I know that can be easily attained by a Discord server or a cc'd email. So I super can't wait to see how the extra mechanics and the Soothe Deck fucks that all up.

Honestly, I'm running my first combined PbP/sessions game, and it actually works really well for some formats. Anything that involves significant downtime, like an Exalted game focusing on citystate-development, or with long travel sections in between ACTION set pieces, would definitely benefit from it. Because you could clear up a lot of it during the week in between sessions, plus it allows people to write up larger, fatter, more descriptive text chunks for those parts.

It's not for every game, but it would be a benefit to many games that deviate from the classic formula.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



I'm a bit cynical about it myself, because IME it's tough to get players to do stuff away from the table (my face-to-face group constantly wastes play time doing stuff like splitting up treasure that could be trivially handled online).

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Understandable. As a member of said hybrid game, its easier when both the live session is discord/irc and the pbp is on a personal wiki/equivalent somewhere.

It massively helps keep interest up in both parts of it since there's a steady dripfeed of things going on to keep attention.

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Okay, this one wonky illustration is probably getting a lot more attention than it deserves, but I wondered whether it could be significantly improved by just moving one eye, and... I think it kind of was?

BEFORE:


AFTER:


The only change between the two pictures is that I moved Grace's right eye four pixels left and one pixel down. (And did a tiny bit of blending between her eyes to patch the gap where I'd moved it from.) It still doesn't look perfect—and maybe I should have moved the eye another pixel or two down, I don't know—but I think it looks a lot less weird and unnatural than it did originally. The exact placement of that eye really seems to me to make a difference.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Enemy Action
Part 17: My Pet Monster


Are you an elf?

Shauna Jones is an animal-loving young lady who has always kept pets, from childhood to now. All kinds - cats, dogs, tarantulas, the lot. She worked as a volunteer at a no-kill shelter in Demopolis, Alabama, though she was never really a fan of the town. Too conservative, and she had a bad reputation because she moved out of her home in high school to move in with her boyfriend, who turned out to be making bathtub meth. He got arrested when his house burned down, but she got out before the cops came. As you can see, she's always been a poor judge of (human) character, which has made it hard for her to keep a job - she always ended up working for assholes, wage thieves, sexual harassers and so on. Animals were easier, and she got them in a way she never got humans. She ended up becoming Stigmatic in a trip to Montgomery - there's not really any Infrastructure at all in Demopolis, but outside Montgomery, she pulled over to check what she thought was a wounded animal on the side of the road. It turned out to be a mutilated animal corpse from an old sacrifice, with a blood trail that led her to a small cult compound.

Shauna pulled a shotgun out of her trunk, because it's loving Alabama, I guess, and headed out to find the animal's killer. They were in the middle of a ritual when she arrived, and she witnessed the birth of an angel. While it looked human, she could tell it wasn't, and she memorized its appearance and fled. She called the cops on the cult but never followed up on what happened to them. She did hunt the angel in the woods and shoot at it, but there was a bright flash, an explosion and then nothing. She got hurled into a tree, fell unconscious and woke up Stigmatic. Shauna went back to Demopolis, but the world had changed. She had constant visions and fevers, and one day all her tattoos' ink flowed together sweated off her but left her skin still colored. She hid the dark colored sweat as best she could, but people avoided her even more now.

When the angel came to find her, she recognized it. She barely escaped its attack alive, largely due to camping in her car and always having her gun. She fled Demopolis for Montgomery, unaware that the Machine's power there was immense. She could sense it everywhere, and it wasn't long before she had to flee again. She stayed on the run for a time before she ran into a group of cat cryptids that lived near a large chunk of Infrastructure. She settled with them, feeling a kinship, and soon figured out that they could eat angels if they came calling and fed on the Infrastructure when they didn't. Shauna began training the cats and, eventually, the other cryptids in the area. She became more and more disconnected from other people, relating to the cryptids far more than she ever had humans. She set up traps and defenses, training the cryptids to attack on command, but she never did get attacked by angels again. Instead, a demon showed up to investigate. Not that she could tell a difference - or cared much. She set the cryptids on him and captured him, using him as a fighting dummy to train the cryptids until he managed to escape. Now, she uses her pack of weirdo animal friends to hunt any supernatural critters she can find, trapping them and using them to train her friends to fight even more.

Shauna, at this point, is more of a feral beast than a human. She remembers what living as a human was like, but being Stigmatic has made it even harder for her than it was to start with. Only the presence of cryptids calms the pain of her visions, and she lives as one of them, based out of an abandoned office bulding near the Alabama State Capitol building. While she lives like an animal, she does make sure to wear clean clothes and cover her arms She's a large white lady with a lot of muscle, short hair and heavy tattoos along her upper arms and torso. The tattoos are vivid and bright on her pale skin, and they always look wet.

Shauna's rapport with the cryptids is more than just being good with animals - she actually has a supernatural control over them, and has recently begun to use that power on normal animals as well. With enough time and practice, she could take control over every animal in Montgomery. The Machine has subverted Shauna without her knowledge, conditioning her and her pack of cryptids to maintain local Infrastructure even though they don't realize it. They drive off demons and, in return, the Machine allows her and her pets to live unmolested as long as they remain useful. Shauna seeks out Montgomery's Infrastructure so she can gain new cryptid friends, training them to defend their homes. She's yet to fully explore the city and doesn't have pets everywhere, but she's got animal friends at most of the city's major Infrastructure sites. Her powers extend to moer than just control - she can communicate with her pets telepathically, even over a distance. A few are smart enough that they can understand her in more than simple commands, and their hearing is good enough that they can hear her voice even miles away. They're rarely that far - they like hanging close by their friend! She talks to her cryptids often but doesn't like talking to normal humans any more.

Oh, and she has an audience now. Shauna's training ring for fighting cryptids has gotten a fanbase among some of the more bloodthirsty locals. She doesn't drive off people watching the training fights she sets up unless she can sense the Machine's taint on them, which she perceives as a smell. Indeed, she's actually started to encourage the audience once the betting started, because she's made a deal with the bookies and takes a large cut of the winnings, which is how she gets food and clothing money now. She's not above coaching her friends to throw fights to make money, either, and thinks it's fun to see the watchers predict a fight wrong.

Shauna is clever and tough, but even more than that she's fast, cunning and manipulative. She's a skilled trapper, knows a shocking amount about the supernatural thanks to her hunts, and is a good shot and very sneaky. She can live off the land easily, is exceptional with animals and is pretty good at dealing with street life. She's telepathic (but only with animals) and can clairvoyantly share senses with animals, can sense most kindsof supernatural activity and has a very strong will. She's pretty much always got her shotgun with her and always has two to three cryptids with her. Her most common ones are her cats, which are fast, strong and tough, often armored or able to steal Aether from demons, or similar powers. Oh right, and her Stigmatic glitch is that she sweats tattoo ink and her tats are always wet.

We're ending on a section on cults. Machine cults are more common than you'd expect, and the terror of them is less that they have fanatical hordes and more that they're very good at eroding individuality of members, who could be anyone, and convincing them to distrust outsiders. Cultists are people. Your neighbors, even your friends. Eccentric, loyal to a dark force, and yet still normal. Our example cult is the Ten Thousand Names of God. They were founded by angels, and their theology states that all deities that have ever been worshipped are emanations of the one true God. When the names of every god, goddess, demigod or figure of worship are collected and classified, all of humanity will spontaneously spiritually awaken and become enlightened. As a group, they are not aware of the Machine or their service to it, though some of the upper ranks ha ve started to suspect something. They've grown focused on technology and Infrastructure as they focus on more and more advanced equipment to achieve their goals.

You see, they know that the majority of god-names are lost - the names of forgotten gods whose cults predated writing, for example, or whose worshippers were wiped out or converted. They believe that a God-emanation can never truly disappear, so the names must still exist, buried in the minds or souls of the descendants of those gods' original worshippers. Therefore, they must develop techniques to extract these names. The methods they've found are almost certainly illegal, definitely nasty and very unpleasant, but the ends justify the means. They've caused permanent brain damage in some, killed others - but what is that against the apotheosis of humanity? The cult is not especially old, having been founded in 1981 by a trio of angels in the guise of respected anthropologists, archaeologists or theologians. They targeted grad students with promises of professional mentoring and used abusive brainwashing techniques to convert them. That was the easiest time for the cult, with the work performed using encyclopedias to gather the easy names. The hard work came after.

That part was when the cultists realized how many names had been lost. They began devoting the cult's resources to uncovering them, not only with their weird extraction techniques but also various archaeological expeditions and other research. The ancestral memory extraction was just their most ambitious project, developed by some of the cult's anthropologists using extremely illegal machines and unethical interrogation techniques. They've also begun working on a giant supercomputer, in theory to create a machine that will infinitely loop recitation of the divine name list. That wouldn't require nearly the processing power their computer is being built to, no matter how long the text strings get. The computer is a piece of Infrastructure under construction, and its purpose has absolutely nothing to do with the cult's aims. They just haven't realized it yet.

Most members of the Ten Thousand Names are highly educated, respected academics in their fields, and they continue the founders' technique of targeting promising grad students for induction and conversion. They serve as mentors, using their authority to bring their chosen students further into the cult via, again, abuse. They ensure their students are sleep-deprived, overworked and not appreciated by other professors and students. This helps strip personal identity and build internal loyalty, and a lot of prospects end up escaping just because they drop out rather than deal with this treatment from their thesis advisor. More desperate students, however, end up joining in search of an edge in the cutthroat world of academia. The cult is usually disguised at first as a club, alumni association or networking group that can help them professionally. Most members keep their actual membership secret, since they know belonging to a cult would harm their reputations. They instead rely on code phrases in articles or professional greetings to identify each other.

Most people never notice that these weirdo nerds are different from other weirdo nerds, and learning that these nerds have a weird religion isn't a big deal for most. Collection of the names of deities in search of enlightenment is weird, but on the face of it it's not evil. They don't learn about the victims. Obtaining victims for ancestral memory experimentation is the job of low-ranking cultists, in order to desensitize them to violence in pursuit of cult goals and to make sure that victims won't realize what's up until too late. Usually, grad student initiates are sent out to find people in need of money, offering them a chance to take a survey and family history screening to determine where their ancestors lived. Those selected by the initial screen are invited to a "long-term study," which most agree to for the cash. Both they and their recruiters are then slowly introduced to cult techniques - hypnotism and memory regression at first, but that almost never works or gets anything that the cult considers more than a false positive. After that, polygraphs and MRI scans. The machines are uncomfortable, but the subjects and students are assured it's all for the greater good. The final step is to plug the victim into a mystic machine and get the student to either do brain surgery on them or extreme hypnosis. Subjects never survive this in one piece. They die, suffer severe brain damage or become Stigmatic. Always. No matter what, these experiments are usually seen as successes. They might not be getting a ton of names, but the God-Machine is getting something out of it.

The Ten Thousand Names aren't specifically interested in occult power, but their archaeological and anthropological work has uncovered a number of ancient power sites and secret histories. They have a surprisingly large collection of artifacts and lore, which they have little particular use for but other people want. They're not too interested in making deals for access, though, unless it'll get them new names of God. Their rituals and initiations are more about secrecy and community rather than occultism, and so learning their secret rituals and codes would allow easy infiltration but not much mystic power. Their big secret is the ancestral memory experimentation, and the cult will kill to keep them secret. If they came out, after all, entire careers would be permanently ruined.

Members of the cult are rumored to partake in orgies and blood sacrifice; they don't. It's just a rumor spread by those who know there is a cult and assume all cults must do that kind of thing. Rituals exist to reinforce cult ties, but by cult standards they're nothing special. Most of the members aren't even aware that the search for names is not, in fact, the actual reason the cult exists. The Machine doesn't give even the slightest poo poo about the list, though it does find their connections and resources generally useful and is clearly getting something out of their weird brain experiments and supercomputer construction. The angels in charge of the cult are trying to find ways to prevent it from schisming - they've found that the theology they made up seems to cause all kinds of internal arguments. Jewish and Chrsitian scholars in the cult often argue about what qualifies as a god-name or whether saints and angels count, they fight over proper spelling or pronunciation - all kinds of utterly meaningless poo poo, often very petty, which is fracturing loyalties.


The good doctor.

Dr. Jimenez Sandoval is an anthropologist from the University of Chicago. He's quite famous in his field, has many awards, is widely respected and has run his department for ten years now. He's got a reputation for being an excellent mentor and most of his students are very successful in their own right. He's also an angel. There is no Dr. Sandoval, not really - there's just an angel whose name is a wordless symbol, wearing the face of an anthropologist. He's one of the founding trio and is the best at pretending at humanity. He's been doing the job since 1981 with only minimal Machine interfacing, and he's actually starting to care. He's found himself liking his colleagues in the department and the students he teaches. He's unsure if it is better to allow himself these feelings, though they may risk a Fall, or if he should deliberately destroy them, which would potentially disobey his orders...and therefore also risk a Fall.

Dr. Sandoval appears to be a Hispanic man somewhere between 40 and 60. He's exactly 5'5" and keeps himself looking proper and dignified. He doesn't care about fashion, being an angel, so he just wears black exclusively. He doesn't talk about himself often and prefers to ask about others. He's good at emulating friendliness, and most people do not suspect he's anything but what he seems to be. He doesn't have full stats - just two listed dicepools, because you are extremely unlikely to need to punch him. He's got 6 dice to get people to tell him about themselves and their goals, which he uses to learn people's desires for better ability to manipulate them. He has 7 dice to confuse people and make them question any apparent inconsistencies in the cult's actions compared to its goals.


I like her hat.

Delores Audwyn is a woman who has always excelled, always gone to the best schools and always loved science. She's a neuropsychologist who sees the human mind as the greatest frontier of discovery, full of infinite secrets to be learned. She was recruited for the Ten Thousand Names, and while she was initially skeptical and unhappy with the cult's more bizarre work, she has become a true believer, especially after seeing the results of the experiments, which really do produce groundbreaking information on the capabilities of the brain. She's a black lady in her late 20s of mixed African and Caribbean heritage. She loves large jewelry, wears trendy clothes and prefers to keep her hair in a scarf or headwrap. She's extremely smart and passionate about her work, but she's not very good at reading other people and telling when they're lying to her. The angels running the cult adore her because she's super easy to manipulate and her faith makes her easy to steer in the long term. Were she to learn the true nature of the cult or be forced to directly deal with and think about the monstrosity of what she does, she might be able to be turned - in which case she'd be extremely dangerous to the Names. Alternatively, it's possible that her continued work alongside the angels may render her Stigmatic.

Delores also doesn't have full stats, because not only will you probably not punch her, she doesn't even have punching skills to begin with. She's just a smart lady. She has 8 dice for grant-writing and persuading people to donate money to her projects or to generally persuade folks to do stuff for her. She has 7 dice for doing research on anything related to psychology, neurology, archaeology, theology or similar, and it never takes her more than an hour to do it. She's super good at it, and if PCs offer her a suficient favor she'd be happy to do it for them.

The End.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 15:09 on Oct 11, 2019

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Shauna Jones Did Nothing Wrong

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure



New Horizon Part 3: Beating things up and other activities

Last time we figured up what all of our numbery things were. Now we're going to determine how to use them. But first, I must admit to making a giant mistake when creating our character. We can't be female. Given the absence of a blank printable family tree form and the placement of Str and Wis next to various boxes in the image below, I have to assume that men go on the left side and women go on the right. I'll also make a note now about Bloodline X-factor. It's not mentioned in the text and you pass on the relevant modifier from your parent without modification so I guess it's just vestigial text.



This wouldn't be the first time I made a mistake - I purchased this product, after all. Change a few adjectives on the blurb from the last update. Choose new pronouns. The sole orc name remains Sha'Quita so that can stay.

Combat is simple. Roll 1d4 + Spd (>= 9) if you want to run away. Compare Spd to determine who goes first. Roll 1d8 + Str for physical attacks or + Wis for magical. Subtract the target's End or Spi (physical/magical, respectively) and you get how much damage the target takes.

You start with half of your AP and spend them to use skills. These hit automatically, which is making the 2d20 fireball look pretty nice. But then you look at our hit point total and realize that Sha'Quita can heal 41.5 damage pretty much at-will. After being spent, AP come back one per turn up to your max.

That's it for basic combat. If you want to break out the advanced combat rules, there are a handful.

Selective targeting allows you to target one of four body parts to inflict some kind of effect instead of dealing damage. I suspect these exist to expand the number of polyhedrals used - you roll a d12 to target the head, d8 for torso, d4 for hands, and d10 for legs. You don't add anything to the die roll and you have to beat a threshold so it's pure chance.

Dodge is mostly useless. You can try to dodge any physical attack using this bit of language: "the blow can be evaded by rolling 1d6, and nailing a result that added to the character's SPD, will equal 11, or greater." Roundabout way of saying 1d6 + Spd >= 11. Look back at Sha'Quita's stats. He's got a Spd of 6, 7 if he removes his armor. His speed is absolutely maxed at first level. If you had not done the dumb thing I did with my class/occupation choice, you could be rocking a 4 and have absolutely no chance or a 5 and succeed only on a 6. I guess it's a free action so no harm in trying.

Alternately, we could try parrying. We're too low level to actually have a shield, though. Assuming we had one, we'd take another hit to Spd. You can only attempt to parry if your Spd score is higher than your attacker's. The slowest thing in the bestiary has a Spd of 5. This includes a dwarf in full plate armor and a giant metal shield. You do the deed by rolling 1d6 + Spd and trying to get at least 10. Sha'Quita could do it with some difficulty using his new modified Spd of 5 or 6 but a less optimal speedyboi would stand no chance. After a successful parry, you counter with 1d8 damage. You don't add your Str to this. It's unclear if the opponent subtracts their End.

There is one final section tangentially related to inflicting damage. New Horizon devotes an entire page to destroying items. Again, it's pure chance. Roll the dice you're told to (none for clay, 1d10 for wood, 1d10+1d20 for iron, and 3d20 for steel) and compare against some number (null, 10, 30, or 50). Succeed or (at the AT's decision, I guess) break your weapon.

Between combat rules and the enemy list is a description of travel and the world map. I refer you to the last game for the map - it's the same sort of thing. I did want to mention this bit of inanity, however - "It's recommended, players use metric and imperial systems, to navigate the world, including the universal compass directions." Cool. Use one of the measurement systems everyone knows, not Castilian or Talmudic.

I'm not going to cover every enemy in the list but I will say there's an inkling of a neat idea. The various entries show how large the relevant enemy is compared to the sample character. This can be good, bad, or ugly. I'll let you decide. Pardon the document overlay.



One of my biggest complaints are with the gigant and fire drake. "Save or die" sucks. These two take it a step farther, skipping the save bit. The fire drake has an ability that allows it to pay 9 AP to roll 5d20. If it gets two 20s, it instantly kills someone. The gigant has a similar ability with one minor exception. Get three 20s and cause a TPK. Actual phrasing there. "(Causes TPK)". Why you would intentionally add a thing into your game whereby a random roll of the dice means literally start over with new characters, I don't know.

You can use the creatures present in this section as random encounters. This could really do with an example as I find it to be completely unusable at the table. When reading the following quote, just keep in mind that all of the enemies fall into one of the enumerated buckets.

quote:

Recommended Appearance Ratio
Common: 2 in 3 battles
Uncommon: 1 in 5 battles
Rare: 1 in 10 battles
Legendary: 1 in 20 battles

I suppose if you do the math to turn those all into a "x in 20" scale, you get somewhere in the vicinity of a d20 roll.

And now you know every single mechanical thing in the game. That's a good stopping point and takes us up to page 87. The remaining 73-ish pages are world history and the three-act campaign. I have yet to decide how to cover them. There are definitely bits throughout that I'd love to tell you about.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah





07 — Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition — Character Creation, Part 3: Burdens & Krewe Archetypes
:spooky::ghost: Splat. :ghost::spooky:

”The world is my epitaph.”
Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition

BURDENS
As discussed in post five, a Sin-Eater’s Burden is a principal theme or resonance to how they died and what attracted a geist to offer them the Bargain. It informs how they will approach the remains of their life and the hellish afterlife they’ve discovered. System-wise, it defines three Haunts for which they have an Affinity, granting a discount on Experience costs to learn them. Remember also that during character creation a Sin-Eater has an Innate Key that resonates with how they died, which they can exploit to gain power, power-up their Haunts and use as a literal key to open Avernian gates.

The Abiding

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Those who died with no legacy left behind. Abiding Sin-Eaters hold oblivion at bay until they can forge something that will last beyond them.
Affinity Haunts: The Caul, The Memoria, The Tomb

The Abiding are perhaps the most stereotypical ghostly loiterers, sticking around because something was left undone. They are concerned with leaving a legacy behind, whether building one up or repairing one that has been damaged. They’re afraid of being forgotten :911:, because that’s almost like never having lived in the first place. The legacies they concern themselves with can be grand, like finishing and submitting an architectural proposal for a literal monument, or more domestic, like bringing together an estranged family.

Abiding often attract geists that have their own unfinished business, seeking to work through the Bound to accomplish the half-remembered adventures cut short by their own death. Other geists attracted to the Abiding are more like cheerleaders or mentors, happy to prop up their Bound, lending them advice and power solely directed towards their goals. In either case they tend to egg on their Bound, whether to get what the geist wants personally out of the relationship or simply to encourage the Bound to keep chasing their own dreams.

Abiding that join Necropolitan krewes want to leave a legacy in both the living and the dead worlds. Being remembered by the living is intensely important to the dead, but being remembered fondly by your fellow dead doesn’t hurt. Abiding in Furies krewes go beyond protecting or rebuilding their legacy and seek vengeance on those who would damage it. Abiding Mourners concern themselves with maintaining and repairing the legacies of other dead. Abiding Pilgrims know that a legacy can be built by helping others, especially the downtrodden of the Underworld. Abiding Undertakers, like Mourners, help build and maintain others’ legacies, by teaching ghosts how best to do so themselves.

Example Bound: a dude who choked training for a hotdog-eating contest, a renowned chef that neglected her family who choked on a sausage, a spotlight-chasing lawyer looking to start a class action lawsuit against gangs (?!?) who was exsanguinated by a gang, an Olympic medalist who was slut-shamed to suicide over a sex scandal.

Example Geists: Le Magistrat who was an imposing judge in life and acts as legal counsel in death, the World Adventurer who speaks in different languages all at the same time but never got to travel the globe like they wanted, the Voice of Reason who offers film-making advice based on their life as a film critic. Other geist titles mentioned are the Watchdog, the Epicurean and the Gold.

The Bereaved

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Those who lost someone dear to them — perhaps in the same incident that killed them, perhaps years before. The Bereaved scour the realms of the dead, seeking the fate of their lost loved ones.
Affinity Haunts: The Caul, The Oracle, The Shroud

The Bereaved are defined by their love for someone or something that they have lost, and a longing to find them or it again. Often this is a loved one—romantic, platonic, familial, it doesn’t matter. Bereaved can also pine for things like how their home town used to be growing up, or the circle of friends they had in college. They also didn’t necessarily die alongside whatever they lost. Some Bereaved linger decades before their own death takes them, and the pang of their defining loss is still so keen, so driving a force, it attracts a geist that offers them the chance to search the Underworld to reconnect.

Geists attracted to the Bereaved are rarely in the same depressive state as their Bound. Some are motivators of hope and cheer, knowing that somewhere out in the wide Underworld, the Bereaved can see their loved ones again. Other geists are simply emotional manipulators, exploiting the Bereaved’s overwhelming sadness and quest for lost love.

Necropolitan Bereaved tend toward small gatherings of the dead and rumination, but might instead organize the largest gathering possible in hope of stumbling into their lost loved one. Bereaved Furies temper a krewe’s outrage with how keenly they understand loss. Bereaved Mourners help others hold onto their own memories of lost love. Bereaved Pilgrims search for their lost love while they help ghosts move on, which is also an opportunity to sift through the teeming dead masses. Bereaved Undertakers are…sufficiently obsessed with their own bullshit that they can be “objective” about assisting other peoples’ journeys to and through death. I gotta admit I’m not crazy about this last one. :actually:

Example Bound: a cancer patient preceded in death by someone she met in her support group, a Chinese woman who killed herself and her unborn baby girl for lack of a son and the One-child Policy, a private eye whose mother disappeared when he was a kid.

Example Geists: Goyet Man who may in fact be the ghost of a pre-human hominid, the Caregiver who is addled and believes every child ghost is her lost child, the Bookie that always wheedles something in return for its services.

The Hungry

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Those who left something behind they couldn’t bear to let go. They haunt the remnants of their lives and accomplishments, protecting what remains and hunting down that which was stolen.
Affinity Haunts: The Boneyard, The Marionette, The Curse

The Hungry refuse to give up their “stuff and things.” This is almost entirely a temporal concern but not strictly material. They want to continue to be a wealthy jet-setter, keep on painting their Warhammer minis, keep stamping their passport until they’ve visited every country on Earth, keep watching a TV show they love. There’s obviously some overlap with the Abiding, here, but for the Hungry it’s more about personal possession and experience than leaving something worthwhile behind. Whatever it is, it’s theirs and they want to keep it. The Hungry attract geists of similarly materialist nature. While the Bound gets to keep doing what made them happy in life, they have to make some time to do the same for their geist. As long as their interests align, Hungry Sin-Eaters and their geists become close allies, partners in crime.

The Hungry don’t tend to have a natural end-point like other Sin-Eaters. Many of their obsessions are practically bottomless regardless of un-death, and even if all you wanted to do was finish your favorite show, there’s always a next favorite show after Big Bang Theory mercifully ends. This makes both Bound and geist particularly susceptible to bribery and manipulation, but they are nevertheless uniquely driven.

It’s natural for the Hungry to join Necropolitan krewes, since they best suit the celebratory nature of their Burden. They share their triumphs and bask in adulation. Hungry Furies make a habit of exploiting those they target—they “come off as corrupt cops.” Hungry Mourners are good at commiseration with and drawing upon the knowledge of the dead. Hungry Pilgrims are hypocrites, helping ghosts move on, for a price, while the Bound refuses to do so. Hungry Undertakers are keenly aware of how close they came to losing whatever keeps them going, and impress onto others how precarious their grasp is on what they love.

Example Bound: a guy who keeps building his dream-cabin getaway, a wizened octogenarian HIV/AIDS researcher this close to a vaccine, a Hollywood starlet who keeps chasing the next big role.

Example Geists: the Robber Baron, the Lumberjack, the Tattered Surgeon, the Tastemaker. As the Burdens go on the specific examples, even just one-off names, become lighter and sparser. :shrug:

The Kindly

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Those who, in death, recognize a great wrong they did in life and return to make amends. The Kindly redress personal wrongs and work to dismantle systems of exploitation they once benefitted from.
Affinity Haunts: The Dirge, The Marionette, The Shroud

“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets” is one of the better quotes sprinkled in the Burdens. This defines the Kindly, Sin-Eaters that did something really bad and, probably, died as a result or from simple accident shortly after. They cheated on their spouse, abused their children, betrayed their best friend, embezzled from their business, etc. They want to mend the world, much like any other Sin-Eater, but the specific harm that they prioritize is the one they did. This can take the form of paying back loans—or “””loans”””—which is possibly a little easier if you didn’t die publicly, or being a weird creepy stalker who tries to help out your estranged family from the shadows.

Kindly geists likewise want to make amends, which often puts a lot on the Sin-Eater’s plate. Like any other geist, the “Kindly” ones are not necessarily good or altruistic outside of their own personal interests. They could be the ghost of an alcoholic who wants to save others from their fate. They could also just as easily see their Bound as a tool to fix their own regrets, using the Sin-Eater’s own mission to manipulate them.

An odd thing suggested in the Kindly is the possibility your geist is someone you died with. It doesn’t really align with everything else in the whole book about how ghosts and geists in particular work, and while it could be an interesting twist there’s no narrative or mechanical support for making it happen.

Necropolitan Kindly are doing their good works through the krewe, but can also use the group to lose themselves in celebration, burying their regrets. Kindly Furies feel like they know what wrongdoing is and so can dish out good justice. Kindly Mourners use their own crime to teach others what not to do. Pilgrim Kindly help put to rest the regrets of others, which should be a little cathartic considering their own motivation. Kindly Undertakers likewise help ghosts move on, though more by being enablers than doing all the work themselves.

Example Bound: a doctor who couldn’t find a suitable organ replacement for his wife, a teacher who acquiesced to ISIL-KP in front of her students and then was shot anyway, a documentarian that chose not to publish damning material for fear of government reprisal, a husband who cheated on his wife, a kid that shared tainted drugs with his date.

Example Geists: the Solemn Girl who cyber-bullied someone to suicide, the Blank Badge who was a cop that shot an unarmed man, the Empty Woman, the Blessed Mind, the Eyeless Watcher.

The Vengeful

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Those who blame another — rightly or wrongly — for their deaths and seek redress for the wrongs done to them.
Affinity Haunts: The Curse, The Memoria, The Rage

The unfinished business of the Vengeful is hurting people. It might be vengeance against whoever is responsible for their death, or just whoever ruined their life but didn’t actually kill them. As with any vengeance, it can be petty as hell. Killing the target of one’s vengeance might be a satisfying conclusion to tracking down and confronting a powerful enemy, while ruining someone’s life is better suited to foes you have more control over, but nothing stops the Vengeful from being ridiculously, self-destructively petty toward dangerous antagonists. In fact, their geists might just encourage this bad habit.

The Vengeful often attract geists just as driven to destruction as their Bound, egging on the Sin-Eater’s rage and “justice.” Some are even drawn to Bound that will take their anger out on the geist, bizarre co-dependent relationships with an ultimately bloody purpose. Other geists may not be so angry or violent, but their sympathy and encouragement nonetheless enable the Sin-Eater’s outbursts.

Vengeful Necropolitans use the celebration of dead society to blow off steam and, of course, to direct them to new targets for their wrath. Fury krewes are a natural fit for the Vengeful, even in some sense reining them in by focusing their violence. Vengeful Mourners act as proxies for the vengeance of other dead. Vengeful Pilgrims tend to release their worldly attachments by destroying them, likewise helping ghosts the same way. Undertaker Vengeful still tend to resolve their obstacles through violence, but they at least put some thought into what is or is not an obstacle worth destroying.

Example Bound: someone killed by burglars, someone “driven to a sex worker” by their inattentive wife, someone who was already on a quest for vengeance when they died.

Example Geists: the Speed Demon, the Strangler, the Starvling Child.

KREWE ARCHETYPES
Similar to Burdens for individual Sin-Eater characters, krewe archetypes are broad categories that outline the nature of a krewe and its approach to the living and the dead. On top of the Bestow Regalia Ceremony that all krewes start with, each archetype determines three other Ceremonies that krewemembers can use if they have enough Mystery Cult Initiation.

Furies

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Krewes that focus on balancing the scales of justice. They put right that which is wrong.
Ceremonies: Ishtar’s Perfume (•), Skeleton Key (••), Black Cat’s Crossing (•••)

Despite their name, Furious krewes are ideally concerned with justice, not simply punishment or vengeance. They seek not just to redress grievances but to mend the the rifts and systems that led to those grievances in the first place. This can take the form of tracking down someone to moralize at them, or just ruining their predatory business, or if all else fails putting the unrepentant down like animals. Furies are here to reform, and in the end they want to build a world that doesn’t need them. Until then it’s not enough just to fix the results of trespass, but to establish the rules that define what a trespass even is, and try to demonstrate these rules as guidance for others to make the world a better place.

Low-key Fury ceremonies often take the form of casual conversation or philosophical debates, arguments over challenging moral knots. Celebrants may act as audience to lectures, taking notes, or everyone might be a participant in interminable, raucous discourse. They are also partial to martial ceremonies, whether ritualized combat or simple pageantry.

Furious krewes have to watch out for overreach. Harshness and violence are tempting “cures” to immediate problems, and sometimes the consequences can seem not so bad. Furies that rein in their brutish impulses can still go too far. Good justice relies on evidence, and ghosts and ghostly super-powers make it easy to build a surveillance state. Even barring all that, Furies can overstep by appointing themselves arbiters of what other krewes should be doing to fix the Underworld.

Example Fury Krewes: Bizango may or may not be the secret ghost police arm of the real Haitian vodou organization. In any case, they try to keep a low profile, rooting out those who trespass against dead society and poisoning them (not usually fatally). Le Quatrième Etat is an underground journalistic outlet that exposes wrongdoing against the dead. They've recently taken down one of their own old, Bound allies who was into human trafficking, which got them a lot of praise but also side-eye from other, nervous allies. The Sodality of the Door concerns itself with protecting other krewes, particularly from the other supernatural denizens of the world. They prefer mediation but nonetheless know how to fall back on "ghost powers and baseball bats."

Mourners

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

These Sin-Eaters remember the dead, especially those the living have forgotten. They bring light into the darkness of the Underworld and return with wisdom to share.
Ceremonies: The Diviner’s Jawbone (•), Gifts of Persephone (••), Bloody Codex (•••)

Mourners believe that nothing should be truly lost to death, from the meanest legacies of everyday nobodies to a late author’s unfinished masterpiece. What they uncover may not be suited for public consumption, but the krewe itself will know, and what matters is that someone remembers. Naturally, they act as repositories for knowledge and centers of research into the dead. Krewes that maintain regular contact with other Mourners can engage in spirited, friendly or not-so-friendly academic rivalry. As ghost-powered game protagonists, this preoccupation also tends to make Mourners into the Lara Crofts of the Underworld. Their ceremonies help preserve and pass on knowledge, and while these krewes often have strong traditionalist streaks they also incorporate plenty of modern trappings like server farms and Underworld-accessible wifi.

It’s easy for Mourner’s academic rivalry to turn sour, leading to spying and sabotage. Their facility for information-gathering can also tempt them to solve their problems with blackmail. Perhaps worst of all, the most depraved Mourners might be willing to destroy information in return for what they want.

Example Mourner Krewes: Supposedly a direct continuation of the ancient library, the Musæum of Alexandria makes its mission to catalog literally all information, in the living and dead worlds, for knowing's sake and to preserve it against the death of humanity. The Society for the Preservation of Endangered Martial Arts wants to catalog all the ways humans fight each other. This is not just a pugilist’s academic interest, as tons of cultural information is carried in the texts and traditions that pass on fighting styles. It can also have practical applications against ancient ghostly enemies. The Uknown Soldier Cult gathers artwork and stories from battlefields, even in places of ongoing conflict. They usually work in pairs with one Cultist serving on each side of the conflict, committing treason as they pass information back and forth.

Necropolitans

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

These krewes care for the dead, protect them from the depredations of the Underworld, and reunite them with loved ones across the veil.
Ceremonies: The Lovers’ Telephone (•), Crow Girl Kiss (••), Dumb Supper (•••)

“Celebrants” is never more apt a name than for members of a Necropolitan krewe. Their goal is to build a society for positive outlooks on life and death, obviously with a preoccupation for the latter considering the nature of Sin-Eaters. They are all about networking, whether through swanky parties, clubbing meetups, or even staying in touch with your friends online. The key to building a better life and afterlife is other people, to make those personal connections that can help focus your motivation or pull you back from the brink of despair. Ultimately, they don’t want to just make the Underworld better, they want the lands of the living and the dead to become friendly neighbors. This very public-facing goal can make more secretive krewes nervous. Necropolitan rites tend towards displays of togetherness and communication, and are often concatenations of all sorts of religious and folklore practices that emphasize community.

Like any hierarchy, Necropolis can become entrenched, adopting a self-importance and entangling itself with other power structures that exist for their own sake. Necropolitan krewes naturally trade in favors and status, a field of work ripe for individual and systemic abuse. They can also simply descend into debauchery, excusing their hedonism as religious ecstasy as they become pushers and dealers getting high on their supply.

Example Necropolitan Krewes: Taking the credit or blame for Sin-Eaters generally using the term “krewe”, le Krewe LaBas was formed after a fight between Mardi Gras Indian tribes in 1920 ended when dead from each side returned as Bound and embraced. These days they have a lot of business in the Underworld, and tend to act as a mentor organization for younger krewes. X-Treme Unction was founded in the 1990s and “is generally accepted to have the worst name of any krewe in history, but its members are really enthusiastic about it.” They’re an extreme sports club that treks to dangerous environments for rescue missions in the living and dead worlds. Not credited as a krewe by many, alt.gothic.ghost started out on Usenet but nowadays has a dedicated mobile app. Its members, themselves too old, too cloistered or otherwise impaired for traditional adventures, specialize in contacting ghosts that channel their powers through electronic devices.

Pilgrims

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

To Pilgrims, death is a step along a journey to something greater. They help the dead release their Anchors and come to terms with their demise.
Ceremonies: Dead Man’s Camera (•), Gifts of Persephone (••), Bloody Codex (•••)

“The Underworld isn’t a threat, it’s a challenge…” Pilgrim krewes see that death is a step after life, that there is another step after death. They want to gentle this journey and usher the dead along to transcend to whatever lies beyond. This philosophy combined with the nature of ghosts to move on by releasing their Anchors leads Pilgrims to view life and death as an exercise in controlling or shedding one’s attachments. While many Pilgrim krewes gather up their beliefs from ascetic Christian mystic traditions or psychoanalytic theory, a significant proportion of them are outright Buddhist sangha (monastic communities). Pilgrim rituals typically involve exploration of the Underworld and celebration of what good can be found there.

A preoccupation with understanding can also be a temptation to forge new attachments, and to grasp and overpower. Pilgrims studying the monstrous denizens and geography of the Underworld may stray into sympathy and emulation. Even Pilgrims who cleave to their mission of helping ghosts move on can lose their way, becoming too focused on the end and not the journey, inflicting what they think is best on their charges rather than teaching them how to truly let go.

Example Pilgrim Krewes: The First Church of Persephone, Architect studies and maps the structures of the Underworld, particularly those built outside of densely populated areas. Seeking to understand and master the waters of the Underworld, the Convivial Society of St. Christopher Souterrain often acts as Ferrymen, but also dive to shipwrecks in the living world to contact ghosts there. The Temple of Dogcatchers study and fight the worst monsters of the Underworld.

Undertakers

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Undertakers help the living get their affairs in order before they become a ghost’s unfinished business. By changing how people perceive death and by understanding its metaphysics, they can change the game altogether.
Ceremonies: Go With Love (•), Crow Girl Kiss (••), Death Watch (•••)

Undertaker krewes seek to shape the Underworld and ghostly existence by changing the way the living view death. Death is at once totally expected and a surprise, and the Undertakers aim to change that. There is no ghostly torment if death is a soothe that leaves no ghosts behind, and for those that nevertheless become ghosts, the Underworld could be a paradise. They study the Dead Dominions to find the best of them, to figure out what seems to have worked and build on that. Their rituals tend to be traditional, as they believe those rites to lay the dead to peaceful rest are signposts laid by their philosophical forebears.

As a philosophy fundamentally about transforming other peoples’ practices and beliefs, it’s temptingly easy for Undertakers to fall back on just trying to control them through intimidation or subtler manipulations. Undertaker krewes also maintain close contact with the Underworld and gather its deep lore, which can become something of a commodity and turn them into power brokers. Arguably worst of all, their constant plumbing of the failures of the past can be disillusioning or even corrupting.

Example Undertaker Krewes: Schultheiss and Company is a PR firm that also does ghost-troubleshooting for big companies, and also cultivates child star Bound in some way. It’s kind of really vague. The Romsa Ludographical Institute is a department in Norway’s University of Tromsø that wants to use Nordic LARP to control the cultural narrative around the dead and Bound. Started in the 80's, Dispatches from Beyond the Veil takes the opportunity to talk plainly to its audience about the Underworld because it’s a conspiracy ‘zine so no one serious suspects a thing.

COMMENTARY
Burdens superficially seem like they suffer from a lot of overlap, a complaint that I can sort of understand and have seen, however I see this as a feature. Reducing Sin-Eater motivations to A Big Regret isn’t quite wrong, but the specific narrative arcs suggested by each Burden are pretty distinct. The Abiding, the Bereaved and the Kindly can all easily start out in very similar places, but their focus handily distinguishes their journey.

I like the krewe archetypes well enough, but I’m just a little unhappy that they’re the big, defining philosophy of your whole group, instead of each being one of the many philosophies it might contain. I’d prefer something a little less mechanically firm. Every remotely interesting krewe will include members with differing outlooks, or even ill-fitting celebrants who are better suited to other types of krewe. (That latter being a perfectly good source of drama!)

Geist loosens up how a lot of the usual templates for these game lines work, and I guess I wish it had gone just a little bit farther dislodging the “philosophical Y-axis splat.” It would be relatively simple removing starting Ceremonies from the krewe archetypes—and, for sanity’s sake, renaming the krewe archetypes to something else. Finding a way to make these philosophies more interactive and relevant would call for a lot more work, possibly adding whole new krewe subsystems. Oh well!

PS X-treme Unction is x-tremely good.

Next Up: Ghost-wizard lists! (Ceremonies, Keys and Haunts.)

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 09:50 on Oct 12, 2019

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Well, I'm back from the Great Power Shutoff!

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.
:hmmyes: That's exactly what I was thinking of, although I thought it had no cyber instead of "a smartlink, some cybereye stuff, and the lovely budget knockoff of wired reflexes no PC should ever take". I think there's one of those in 4e too. Of course in 4e you can get good skills in your specialization if you don't go too broad AND the cyber since it doesn't use the priorites by default.

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.
in 4e I think you can kinda get by with drugs filling the need for "I get more actions"

And don't forget it's the "I go sooner and get to do more things per round" that's important, there are magical and bioware solutions to it (In 4e, if you can afford it, the bioware solution is greatly superior in all ways aside from cost, IIRC)

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.
Previous shadowruns, or going off the grid and erasing your SIN on the way out, I think.

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. 4e reduced it to 100K making it considerably more manageable.

(Then 5e reintroduced the problem for deckers)
5e reintroduced the problem for cyberware too. I think one sample character has cyberware way out of his budget range, but if you go look at how much the same would cost in 4e it's well within his budget.

"up to four plus players"
somebody is unclear on the defintion of "up to"

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017



Halloween Jack posted:



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.

We found this out the hard way when my group made characters based mostly off the pregens. Like, for the Face it didn't matter. At combat she was competent enough with some skill with pistols and hand-to-hand and that was fine, she was there to make sure it didn't come to combat. The Shaman had magic. Decker, Rigger, their skill sets. The Weapon Specialist, though? It's kind of demoralizing to be the one who can use any lethal weapon ever and watching the Street Samurai carve things up before you can even act because Wired Reflexes.

Not terribly along into the campaign one of the run rewards was either nuyen or a much larger store credit in cyberware. They took the hint and got wired and all was well. (Well, as well as 3E got but we made it work.)

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Oof, yeah, that sounds frustrating. I know I keep rambling about it, but at least the unwared weapon spec works in 5th. Its a combo of edge, drugs, and using things that don't rely on sheer dice pools to be effective (autoweapons fire, suppressive fire* explosives, and grabbing little bonuses here and there via small unit tactics, etc)

*which due to a very shadowrun type bug works BETTER the less initiative you have.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Dawgstar posted:

We found this out the hard way when my group made characters based mostly off the pregens. Like, for the Face it didn't matter. At combat she was competent enough with some skill with pistols and hand-to-hand and that was fine, she was there to make sure it didn't come to combat. The Shaman had magic. Decker, Rigger, their skill sets. The Weapon Specialist, though? It's kind of demoralizing to be the one who can use any lethal weapon ever and watching the Street Samurai carve things up before you can even act because Wired Reflexes.

Not terribly along into the campaign one of the run rewards was either nuyen or a much larger store credit in cyberware. They took the hint and got wired and all was well. (Well, as well as 3E got but we made it work.)

How did they carve things up before you could even act? In SR3 they still have the same options as you per pass and only act once per pass, they just get extras afterwards. The only to get more sets of actions per pass is Move-by-Wire cyberware which has a whole host of drawbacks, is mondo expensive and none of the pregens have because it was introduced in a later book. The way it shakes out in the game I'm in is most things are dealt with by everyone's second pass and then the third pass guy has nothing to do.

In the SR3 game I'm in now we have a rotating cast of 14 characters, only 5 have Wired Reflexes 2 (or magic equivalent) and any time they get a third pass its always pretty perfunctory.


Zereth posted:

the lovely budget knockoff of wired reflexes no PC should ever take".

Once you realise that every initiative score between 11-20 and 21-30 are the same 99% of the time because 99% of the enemies you'll face will only get one pass, a low two if they get lucky, while you hitting a guaranteed two passes every time means you've already won and that its trivially easy to get a guaranteed two passes suddenly nobody needs Wired 3 anymore and you can get other stuff. Everyone has access to some initiative boosting thing that can, for very little investment, get them an average of 16-19 on the deck meaning they will always go before all but the massive outlier strongest opposition.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




if i'm remembering what boosted reflexes does correctly it's "small bonus to your init and no extra dice/init passes in 4e"

edit: and you can't take it and wired reflexes at the same time

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017



EthanSteele posted:

How did they carve things up before you could even act? In SR3 they still have the same options as you per pass and only act once per pass, they just get extras afterwards. The only to get more sets of actions per pass is Move-by-Wire cyberware which has a whole host of drawbacks, is mondo expensive and none of the pregens have because it was introduced in a later book. The way it shakes out in the game I'm in is most things are dealt with by everyone's second pass and then the third pass guy has nothing to do.

Mostly it boiled down to the Weapons Specialist only going the same amount of times as somebody playing a support role. How it worked in my experience is everybody'd get their pass and then the Street Samurai would go two more times because the WS had to roll high to get two passes because, whoops, no initiative boosting. They're only rolling, what, 6+1D6 and hoping for an 11 to go again?* And that's not even considering stuff like the spell-lobber just flinging down an AOE spell and calling it a day (which is a Shadowrun problem in general). The crux of the problem - 'highly skilled is the same worth as lots of cyberware or spells or any other niche' - is that it just doesn't apply to combat characters. The player wanted to contribute via combat and did not feel they were really doing so.

*My player didn't buy the Booster Reflexes, buying - surprise - more weapons and such because he thought that was the pregen's deal which in theory it is.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Dawgstar posted:

Mostly it boiled down to the Weapons Specialist only going the same amount of times as somebody playing a support role. How it worked in my experience is everybody'd get their pass and then the Street Samurai would go two more times because the WS had to roll high to get two passes because, whoops, no initiative boosting. They're only rolling, what, 6+1D6 and hoping for an 11 to go again?* And that's not even considering stuff like the spell-lobber just flinging down an AOE spell and calling it a day (which is a Shadowrun problem in general). The crux of the problem - 'highly skilled is the same worth as lots of cyberware or spells or any other niche' - is that it just doesn't apply to combat characters. The player wanted to contribute via combat and did not feel they were really doing so.

*My player didn't buy the Booster Reflexes, buying - surprise - more weapons and such because he thought that was the pregen's deal which in theory it is.

Yeeaaaah, taking stuff off a pregen is a recipe for disaster in any game, that one doesn't feel like it's exclusive to Shadowrun. It does allow you to be bad at it, which is certainly one of its problems, but you can dump str, dex and con on a fighter in D&D too. It could be clearer that multiple passes is how you be good at combat I guess, but every combat based pregen except the ganger (who is melee) has some manner of improved initiative so, for SR3 at least, it doesn't try and say 'highly skilled is the same worth as lots of cyberware or spells or any other niche' for combat, the highly skilled one still has the minimum of cyberware it needs to be proficient at combat. As is its 2d6+7 for initiative, which is two passes on anything higher than a 3 on 2d6 so, ~92% of the time and then the street sam is only getting one more pass on average, instead of two which is much nicer for both parties. The WS could certainly be better, but as is works perfectly fine in a regular game.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

EthanSteele posted:

How did they carve things up before you could even act? In SR3 they still have the same options as you per pass and only act once per pass, they just get extras afterwards.
You are correct, but you'd be surprised how many people houseruled 3e so that wired reflexes worked like in 2e. I remember people complaining about it on Dumpshock. Bad design can be addictive.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Halloween Jack posted:

You are correct, but you'd be surprised how many people houseruled 3e so that wired reflexes worked like in 2e. I remember people complaining about it on Dumpshock. Bad design can be addictive.

I've seen a lot of people read a rule and there be two ways for it work and they go with the one that completely breaks the game, but that's wild even for that sort of thing.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.




5: Got the metal beneath my skin, still rippin' off

Gear porn! Absolutely mandatory, standard part of any cyberpunk game. Silly numbers of weapon modifications and cybernetic replacements are pretty much mandatory for the genre. By which we mean they existed in sci-fi and military stories long before cyberpunk was even a thing, actual cyberpunk stories originally largely used technology symbolically rather than literally and they are only in the RPGs as a bandaid to replace magic items as a money-based character progression system.

Still. Ok. Gear section. As we've already mentioned, gear has a cost in nuyen, an availability rating for how hard it is to get, and a legality status - legal, illegal, or legal only with a license. A fake license - because you sure as heck aren't going to get a real one - costs 200-1200 nuyen depending on how hard it is to identify as fake (but not based on what it's a license for), and you need a fake SIN as well for it to be bound to, which is between 2500-15000. There's a section on concealing gear, but no gear actually has any concealability rating; there's just a list of examples for the GM, which is tricky because the gear is sci-fi and lacks real world references, so you have to guess from the fluff if an item is meant to be "palm size", "slim palm size", or "palmable".

Also, dwarves have to pay 10% extra for fitted gear because they're a weird size, and trolls pay a full 10% extra on everything because they're so big and unwieldy. If a dwarf or troll uses unadapted gear, they get -2 dice on all actions involving that gear.. so they're 100% cool to walk around in ill-fitting armor because there are no "actions" involving it.

We already mentioned the silliness of the wireless bonuses. We can add two items to that. First of all, there's a category of items called "throwbacks" which are pre-wireless tech and can't ever be hacked. Unfortunately, no item in the entire chapter is actually listed as a throwback except a bow, and then only "if you leave off the fancy add-ons". Again, it seems they decided this should be down to GM common sense, and then they threw common sense out the window by giving a wireless bonus to a loving tripod. Secondly, certain weapons in the chapter are listed as coming with tripods or laser sights, and the text says that the bonus is already factored in to their attack rating, but the potential wireless bonus on that tripod or sight isn't mentioned, so are those non-Matrix ones or are they just not very good?

Anyway. I'm not going to go through all the weapons. It's a list of made-up gun names and standard gun fluff. Whatever. We'll just have a few highlights. You can get injection arrows and bolts which deliver doses of drugs or poisons, and there are a number of drugs and poisons in the book, although for some daft reason they're listed in the Combat chapter instead of the Gear chapter and their costs are in a random table in the reference tables section.

What's more interesting are the weapon accessories and modifiers. We already got the wireless equipped tripods and laser sights (and all they do is increase the Attack Rating of the weapon, they don't give a bonus to hit, so they just increase the number of targets you can gain Edge when shooting). We also get a new category of badness for this game: modifiers to undefined values! Yes, isn't it neat and not jarring at all when the GM's supposed to handwave a value but then has to apply a specific modifier to it? Let's see:

  • An Airburst Link doubles the effectiveness of net hits at reducing the scatter of launched ballistic weapons provided both the weapon and the launcher are online (hey, this one actually makes a tiny bit of sense). It also "prevents the opponent from using the Hit The Deck action to reduce damage", which is problematic because a) the action's called Hit The Dirt not Hit The Deck and b) it's not actually the action used to avoid grenades, that's Avoid Incoming.
  • A concealable holster increases the Concealability rating of a pistol or taser by 1, or 2 if it's connected to the sodding Matrix arglebargle. But as mentioned above, no equipment is actually given a Concealability rating.
  • A gas-vent system removes the Attack Rating penalty for firing Semi-Auto. Thus causing even more confusion over whether you can just choose to fire Semi-Auto weapons Single Shot or not.
  • A gyro-mount harness lets you walk around with a medium or heavy machine gun with one less Strength than it'd normally take to carry one, counters penalties and gives a bonus to full-auto.
  • A hidden arm slide, under your clothes, lets you quick draw a pistol or taser, gives you a Bonus Edge when you do, and (sigh) increases the Concealability threshold by 1.
  • An imaging scope is an odd one; you can load it up with cyberware-based vision enhancements. It also has another wireless bonus that actually makes sense! And is actually pretty awesome! You can share your scope view with your boddies on their AR displays. But the real awkward bit is that if you Take Aim through an imaging scope, your target can never gain Edge for having higher Defence than you. So this makes armor really goddamn pointless.
  • A periscope is similar, but lets you fire from the strongest form of cover without a penalty.
  • Shock pads increase the AR modifier from firing in full-auto, which again only actually changes who you can and can't get Edge from.
  • A silencer gives a +2 threshold to any Perception tests to notice the sound of a weapon or see the firer, which would be good if there were any guidelines as to what the base value was. Oh, and if it's online, it apparently gives you an "AR alert if someone nearby moves quickly in response to the sound of the silenced weapon" which seems to involve incredibly sophisticated mind-reading and apparently can't be defended against.
  • A smart firing platform lets you turn a gun into an autonomous turret. An incredibly good autonomous turret: it has 4 minor and 1 major actions, so it can technically fire faster than anyone who hasn't bought upgrades.
  • A smartgun system is the Matrix-based upgrade to a gun. It disables penalties for firing from cover, increases the AR by 2, and gives you +1 to hit provided you have a smartlink either in something you're wearing on your eyes or in your cybereyes. Which is kinda good, but an awful lot of the guns already have them built in, but don't have any mention in their rules text that they can be fired from cover without penalty. Oh, what, obviously you're supposed to apply that? Well, what about the ones with bipods built in, do they get the text's AR bonus too? Um.
  • Explosive bullets give a whole +1 base damage at the risk of blowing you and your gun to bits if you roll a critical glitch. No, they don't deal explosive damage.
  • APDS and Flechette ammo cost you a point of base damage in exchange for 1 or 2 points of AR. Hope that occasional point of Edge is worth losing damage on every shot!
  • Gel rounds do stun damage; Shock rounds deal Stun damage and electrocute the target.
  • Caseless ammo has no description except a sidebar which explains that ammo cases tend to contain RFID tags that alert local authorities whenever a gun is fired, and gives rules for using a tag eraser to get rid of these tags, which would have been helpful if put in the section on the tag eraser but hey. Since small hold-out guns are not illegal, presumably you can just troll the authorities by firing into the air. Also, the whole basis for the "wireless bonus" is that the corps who made the weapons liked being able to track everyone and therefore locked some useful functionality behind Matrix access, but here they are doing some incredibly effective tracking which doesn't need Matrix access.

Armor. Well, ok, we've already seen. It's meh and mostly useless. You can add resistance bonuses to it which don't actually resist damage at all, they disable the status effects that are associated with certain forms of damage.

On to gadgets. These are pretty.. oh dammit they brought back the bloody Commlink. A Commlink is basically your smartphone. It does the regular smartphone stuff, can interface to Augmented Reality, and provides the base defence values for your personal wireless network and thus determines the difficulty of hacking into your personal equipment (the other determinant of which is, bizarrely, your Willpower score!). Unfortunately, just like Fourth Edition, they can't decide if Commlinks are mere client devices or if they're used for everything a computer can be used for - but there are no regular desktop or laptop computers in the gear list. Which buggers everything up because it becomes too easy to bypass any traditional cyberpunk infiltration or hacking mission by just mugging someone and stealing their phone.

If you want to hack, you'll need a Cyberdeck, which.. apparently looks like a medieval bracer and projects a keyboard onto your arm (insert joke about Deckers being used to typing one-handed here). Since their only use is hacking, they're completely illegal, so it's pretty stupid for them to project an obvious keyboard onto your arm, but hey. (Also, the sample character Decker has a "cyberdeck license" which shouldn't exist.)

If you want the full augmented reality experience, you're also going to need Trodes which provide a direct neural interface to your devices, some kind of eyeware to be able to see AR cues (you can load an image link into binoculars, contacts, glasses or even a monocle if you want to look ridiculous) and a Sim Module added to your commlink which deals with the actual projecting. It's suggested that trodes are normally made as part of a headband or hat, because being able to shut down your local hacker by shooting their hat off is hilarious. Oh, you'll also want AR Gloves to allow you to touch and hold objects perceived in AR. By the way, if your AR gloves are online (um, what use would they be if they weren't?), then they also can create a chemical analysis of any held object. That's, um, like several thousand times more sophisticated than their main function.

Electronic Paper costs 5 nuyen per sheet and is essentially a thin touchscreen that you can roll up or fold. If you actually want a Printer, that costs 25 nuyen and comes "attached to a paper supply". Um, how big a paper supply? Are you lugging around a photocopier drawer? If you want to look like a real twit, you can carry around a Satellite Link to access the Matrix in out-of-the-way places (so can things like cased ammo tracking be avoided in those places? Huh). A biometric reader can be used to lock your electronics based on your fingerprint or retina scan; a simrig lets you record your experiences for others to later play back in AR or VR; a trid projector projects an 5-metre cube image but it doesn't look real enough to fool anyone and there's no listed actual use for this; and a Subvocal Microphone lets you communicate via subvocalized speech which means that.. anyone trying to hear you can't gain or spend Edge on the Perception test. How difficult is the perception test? Well, really, why would we specify that? Also, it doesn't mention it anywhere but apparently you need a Micro-Transciever as well for anyone to actually be able to hear you.. and that comes with a Subvocal Microphone.

Ok. Let's get on to the big deal: cyberware! Well, before we get onto that, we have to deal with the ever-thorny issue of Essence. Essence is the stat that limits how much cyberware you can install. That's literally the only statement of exactly what Essence is in the game, plus the note that "the metahuman body can only contain so much 'ware before it loses the small spark that separates a living being from a machine". As we mentioned back in the first update, it doesn't even tell you what your starting Essence level is. But in spite of Essence just being presented as a cyberware limit, there's a bunch of other references to it in other contexts; losing Essence drains your magical ability, and certain supernatural monsters can drain your Essence by having an emotional connection with you (probably fear).

So, we'll skip all the arguments about technology making you less human, and the implication that actual people with prosthetic limbs are somehow less human than others, and how the two forms of vision you buy as Qualities mysteriously don't cost any essence, and how you can spend your life rigging around in a robot body without ever losing any. You can find those on the SR thread if you want to get involved. What's more important is that the actual Essence ratings of cyberware blatantly reflect that Essence is just a balancing mechanic. Having an explosive device strapped to your body is instant PTSD, but having the bad guys put one inside your head doesn't damage your human nature one bit (zero Essence cost) because it's not a power up. Skillwires, which allow a computer implanted inside your head to take over your body in order to perform a skill you don't have, essentially voluntarily making yourself a robot, cost less Essence than a plain prosthetic leg.

There's five different grades of Cyberware: second-hand, standard, Alpha, Beta, and Delta; each of them has an increased cost, is harder to get, and costs less Essence compared to the previous one. The implication that you can have your cyberarm upgraded and suddenly your lost human nature comes back is.. interesting. But to complicate matters further, while Deltaware costs less essence, more capable cyberware generally costs more Essence. So having your eyes scooped out and replaced with cameras is less disturbing to your human nature if the replacement cameras aren't very good.

So, onto the basics of cyberware. If you want your smartphone stuck in your head, that's an implanted Commlink, which doesn't give any particular advantage other than damaging you if it breaks. You can have a Cyberdeck implanted too, which also doesn't give any advantage other than hurting you even more if it breaks. What you actually want is a Cyberjack, which actually connects parts of your brain to the Matrix as well as just being an interface device, and as a result has much higher ratings than other hacking hardware, and even more oddly.. doesn't hurt you at all even if it's straight up destroyed. What the heck?

A datajack is that thing from Doctor Who where you have a plug in the back of your head you can plug equipment into. A datalock is that thing from Johnny Mnemonic where you store data in your head that even you can't read but someone else can unlock (only a 0.1 essence rating despite literally denying you access to part of your own memory), and a cortex bomb is that other thing from Johnny Mnemonic that blows your head to bits if someone triggers it. Well, actually, it deals 18 resisted damage, which means that if your Body's high enough it actually has a chance of not killing you, which could be bizarre and horrific.

An olfactory booster lets you smell emotions, traces of propellant, "the list goes on and on..".. by which we mean it gives you a bonus Edge on scent-based Perception tests and that's it. It is described as a "cybersnout" though, which is a quick laugh. A taste booster does the same for taste but without the sales pitch. And a voice modulator lets you speak with shifted pitch, copy other people's voices, which gives you an Edge on "sound-based" Con tests. By the way did we mention it also allows you to SHOUT AT ONE HUNDRED loving DECIBELS THERE IS NO WAY THAT COULD BE USEFUL IN A FIGHT OH MAN THOSE CYBEREARS ARE REGRETTING YOU HAVING AN AIRCRAFT ENGINE TAKING OFF LIKE 10 METRES FROM YOU RAAA RAAA RAA

A skilljack does the classic thing where you can plug a chip into your brain and immediately know some stuff, but they only work for information or language skills unless you also have your whole body loaded with the previously mentioned skillwires that let the skill implant control your muscles.

Now, getting stuff replaced. Cybereyes will set you back between 1000 and 16000 nuyen depending on how many subsystems they can install, and will cost you between 1% and 8% of your basic humanity. They come in with a built-in image link for AR (although immediately below this the book states that adding an image link will cost 800 nuyen), and can fit low-light or thermographic vision (which, as we mentioned last time, don't do anything except give you an Edge if you're in an environment where they'd be useful and the other guy doesn't have them), a smartlink for smart guns, vision magnification (which increases attack ratings at long distances and doesn't have any clear statement of how it lets you see further) and vision enhancement which gives bonuses to visual Perception.

Funkier equipment includes a retinal duplicator, a highly illegal mod that allows you to record and duplicate someone else's retina scan (although we don't get to find out how you capture the initial scan, which could be pretty danged important) and an Ocular Drone lets you go full Inspector Gadget and pull your eyes out and fly them around. This has the slight problem that they're listed as being considered rigged drones at that point, and to fly a rigged drone you need an AR interface to it which uses either eyeware or cybereyes, neither of which you can use while your eyes are missing. No, it doesn't say you can still "just see through them" while they're out.

Cyberears have a similar cost to cybereyes, and can improve your hearing (a bonus on Perception rolls), improve your balance, limit the extent to which you're deafened (presumably helping against the guy with the voice modulator), and localise sounds. Strangely enough, some of the neater auditory gadgets - like a laser microphone to detect surface vibrations - aren't available in cyberears.

Bodyware is a general category for anything that affects your whole body. Let's get this out of the way right now: Wired Reflexes are rated 1-4 and give you +1 Reaction, 1 additional Initiative Die, and 1 additional Minor Action (as I mentioned before it's not clear if this is the same as the one you get from the Initiative Die or not). It'll cost at least 40,000 nuyen and is described as a "invasive, painful, life-changing operation", even though Rating 1 Wired Reflexes don't make all that much of a difference, and it's only by Rating 2 or 4 that you can actually take an extra Major Action, depending on how you read that text about the extra Minor Action. Simple Reaction Enhancers which only increase your Reaction score, but not your Initiative Dice, are much cheaper but they don't work with Wired Reflexes unless both of them are connected to the Matrix. Literally, both items are described as improving nervous communication speed, but they can't communicate with each other without wi-fi!

Bone Lacing and Dermal Plating have a similar relationship with regard to defence. Dermal Plating just gives you a defence rating bonus; Bone Lacing throws in Body and Unarmed Attack Rating bonuses too. They don't have to be wireless to stack. If you enjoy hiding things inside parts of your body, a Tooth Compartment, Fingertip Compartment or Smuggling Compartment will cover that, although anything that would actually fit inside a tooth compartment probably has a ridiculously high Concealability anyway. Bizarrely, an implanted Grapple Gun is considered bodyware; an Internal Air Tank will let you hold your breath for several hours, and Replacement Muscles will increase your Strength and Agility by their Rating. So, this is our first stat booster, and it lets us buy up to four points in two stats for 30,000 nuyen apiece.

Cyberlimbs have much higher essence costs, but they do have the advantage that once they're installed, you can load them up with accessories without increasing the essence cost. There's a separate cost for an obviously replaced body part and a "natural looking" one, and the natural ones also have lower capacity. You can buy stat point increases for your cyberlimbs more cheaply - 5000 nuyen per extra stat point, up to 4 - but it's pure GM fiat on when that bonus applies, and any activity which "uses the whole body" never gets bonuses from cyberlimbs, no matter how many you have. You can also buy Armor points for your cyberlimbs at the same cost, which is a very bad idea, and which doesn't have any such fiat involved because "increasing your Armor.. is part of your overall protection, which is what Defense Rating represents."

Also, there is a statement that "Strength and Agility increases have no effect when they are included in a cyberskull" which I'd be sorely tempted to house rule so that you can make that cyber-samurai who fight exclusively with headbutts.

Oddly, there's not much you can put in cyberlimbs apart from that; mostly assorted ways of carrying weapons or contraband. There is an exception for Hydraulic Jacks which need to go in both legs and help you jump.. except there are no rules anywhere else in the game for jumping. If you follow it absolutely as written, you need hydraulic jacks to jump at all, and you can leap 0.2 metres per hit on an Athletics + Strength + Hydraulic Jacks test, because your GM will love having to judge whether or not you pull up 0.2 metres short of that jump.

If you want mounted weapons, those are available, and you can implant a pistol, shotgun, SMG or grenade launcher in any of your cyberlimbs. There's no listed size limitations, so go ahead and stick a shotgun in your skull if you want. There's also some specialist weapons: a cyberjaw lets you bite people really hard, thus making the whole headbutt thing above actually look like a sensible option (it also has an AR of 2, meaning that pretty much any random person wearing clothes will gain Edge if you attempt this); a hardened limb hits harder than a regular one, and a shock limb can deal stunning electric damage. We also have to have handblades and hand razors because Neuromancer was a thing.

Finally in terms of implants, there's bioware, which is organic cyberware - which still has an Essence cost, but just a lesser one. An adrenaline pump activates on demand and boosts your physical attributes and prevents you being stunned, but as soon as it wears off, you crash and take stun damage. Bone Density Augmentation is the bioware version of Bone Lacing, but doesn't give a Body bonus and costs less Essence. Cat's eyes give you low-light vision in an organic package, and notes that "this bioware is obviously not compatible with cyberware eye replacements, but individual vision enhancements can be purchased". But there's no listed capacity limit for cat's eyes, which potentially means that they're a dirt cheap way of loading up on vision enhancements that would otherwise require rating 6 cybereyes.

Enhanced Articulation makes it easy for you to squeeze through cramped spaces, and Muscle Augmentation gives you increased Strength but isn't compatible with any cyberware that does so and annoyingly is more expensive; although it costs far less essence, if you're actually making an unarmed character for some reason, I'm not sure what you'd want to save the essence for. Muscle Toner increases your agility, but can't stack with any of the other muscleware, and Otherskin is the bioware version of Dermal Plating. Platelet Factories are, at least, actual proper damage resistance, although only 1 point of it. A suprathyroid gland boosts all your physical attributes by 1 but requires you to eat a ton of extra food, increasing your basic costs; Symbiotes speed up your healing, but you have to buy separate food for them; Synthacardium gives you an Athletics bonus; Tailored Pheromones (groan) increase your Charisma when dealing with nearby people who can smell you; and a Tracheal Filter and Toxin Extractor do the same thing, protect you from poison, except the Tracheal filter only works against inhalation toxins and is very slightly cheaper.

For really fancy custom-made bioware, you can also have a Cerebral Booster which increases your Logic, a Damage Compensator which shuts off injury modifiers for a certain number of damage boxes, a Mnemonic Enhancer which upgrades memory-related tests; a Synaptic Booster is the pared-down bioware version of Wired Reflexes, but it only acts up to level 3; a Reflex Recorder gives you +1 to a single physical skill for the ridiculous price of 14000 nuyen; a Sleep Regulator lets you sleep deeply for three hours a night and then stay aware twice as long without being affected by fatigue; and finally a Pain Editor just deletes pain from your experience, meaning that you ignore all injury modifiers and aren't aware of any harm that's been done to you unless you either use a biomonitor or spend a major action observing yourself in detail. (This is notable because it's one of only two places where the rules actually tell you to use an Observe In Detail action, the other one being spotting a camouflaged monster.)

So. Ugh, that was quite a list, wasn't it? But I hope it conveys part of the idea.. yes, there's a lot of options, but a lot of them are very limited in terms of what they actually do, and the nature of the balancing systems is kind of obvious. Next time, we'll go grep some frobs and repipe some repples with the L33T H4X0RS.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017



Halloween Jack posted:

You are correct, but you'd be surprised how many people houseruled 3e so that wired reflexes worked like in 2e. I remember people complaining about it on Dumpshock. Bad design can be addictive.

Oh, yeah. Best I can figure they wanted Street Samurai to be Solos from Cyberpunk.

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LeastActionHero
Oct 23, 2008


hyphz posted:

An olfactory booster lets you smell emotions, traces of propellant, "the list goes on and on..".. by which we mean it gives you a bonus Edge on scent-based Perception tests and that's it. It is described as a "cybersnout" though, which is a quick laugh. A taste booster does the same for taste but without the sales pitch. And a voice modulator lets you speak with shifted pitch, copy other people's voices, which gives you an Edge on "sound-based" Con tests. By the way did we mention it also allows you to SHOUT AT ONE HUNDRED loving DECIBELS THERE IS NO WAY THAT COULD BE USEFUL IN A FIGHT OH MAN THOSE CYBEREARS ARE REGRETTING YOU HAVING AN AIRCRAFT ENGINE TAKING OFF LIKE 10 METRES FROM YOU RAAA RAAA RAA

The world record for screaming is 129dB. When Jamie Vendera broke a wineglass with his voice on Mythbusters, they measured it at 105dB.

To put it another way, 100dB is enough to violate OHSA guidelines on noise exposure, but only when you're exposed to it for more than 2 hours as part of an 8 hour shift.

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