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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also all these games with 150+ skill lists gotta get on Disco Elysium's level and make all those weird skills actually do something. People wouldn't make fun of weird huge skill lists if they genuinely felt most of the skills did something instead of like they were being made to pay points to say their character knew a lot about their hobbies or had a background as a carpenter.

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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Night10194 posted:

Also all these games with 150+ skill lists gotta get on Disco Elysium's level and make all those weird skills actually do something. People wouldn't make fun of weird huge skill lists if they genuinely felt most of the skills did something instead of like they were being made to pay points to say their character knew a lot about their hobbies or had a background as a carpenter.

Disco Elysium also has multiple skills that can apply to the same situation, usually all at the same time and talking over each other.

Glagha
Oct 13, 2008

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAaaAAAaaAAaAA
AAAAAAAaAAAAAaaAAA
AAAA
AaAAaaA
AAaaAAAAaaaAAAAAAA
AaaAaaAAAaaaaaAA



I do like the skills arguing. Having Empathy be like "Oh, she's very upset with you." followed by Physical Instrument sliding in with "Nah dog she's totally into you lay on the charm" That's not really something that works in a TTRPG though for obvious reasons. Making character motivations and skills conflict mechanically is a fun idea though. I like games that incentivize acting against your own self interest.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Doesn't Pendragon do that with the passions? Where the same big drives that can make you a great and glorious knight also mess with you and make you do stuff that causes Adventures?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

Doesn't Pendragon do that with the passions? Where the same big drives that can make you a great and glorious knight also mess with you and make you do stuff that causes Adventures?

Yes. Once a Passion gets high enough you generally have to start making rolls to not just do the thing the Passion wants. But having them high is what gets you delicious roll bonuses and even massive buffs for being Chivalrous or Religious.

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006



Glagha posted:

I do like the skills arguing. Having Empathy be like "Oh, she's very upset with you." followed by Physical Instrument sliding in with "Nah dog she's totally into you lay on the charm" That's not really something that works in a TTRPG though for obvious reasons. Making character motivations and skills conflict mechanically is a fun idea though. I like games that incentivize acting against your own self interest.

Trap sprung that's something Electrochemistry would say, not Physical Instrument!

But I remember reading that Disco Elysium is partially based off a (personal?) tabletop system the devs used for their own games. I'm curious how much of that is reflected in the mechanics and how much of it is just the lore of Revachol.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Mors Rattus posted:

Yes. Once a Passion gets high enough you generally have to start making rolls to not just do the thing the Passion wants. But having them high is what gets you delicious roll bonuses and even massive buffs for being Chivalrous or Religious.

Had a knight with the Friendship passion at 22 and Loyalty to the Knights of the Appleblossom (the PC crew) 35 and that makes it so you basically auto crit anything you do in service of those passions but also when one of your friends and members of the crew dies you get age shock from both and lose 3 points of dex, 2 points of size and 1 appearance. Pendragon is good.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

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

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Venus: But Still We Stand Tall

Venus is a planet in the middle of terraforming. Temperatures range from 300 degrees Fahrenheit in the lowlands to a breezy, relaxed 100 degrees F on the mountaintops. The high mountaintops and continental mesas are home to major cities, the original orbital and aerial colonies are still intact, and bioengineered algae nest in the clouds, feeding on the poison gasses and giving off oxygen. The lowlands, meanwhile, are fuckin’ metal. Note:

quote:

The vegetation of the lowlands is a truly alien combination of mineral and vegetable- massive yellow crystalline trees attract and ground the bolts of lightning that continually batter the jungles, while their heavy, blue, drooping coverings of lichen and moss absorb the acid rain… the ground itself is covered with boulders, glowing pools of acid, and thick swamps of bioengineered, semi-metallic plants in wild, fluorescent colors.

The planet was, as per the timeline, settled in the 22nd century by the Indo-Asian Consortium, starting first from orbit, then building cities on the massive plateaus of Ishtar and Aphrodite. These are big steel cities, mostly sliver and white because acid rain is murder on the paint job, and it’s all curves and domes so the rain doesn’t collect. Heavy clouds surrounding the mesas give the cities a look like they’re floating in the sky sometimes.



The Uplanders live in these cities. They’re called the aristocrats of Venus, and tend to wear flowing robes in muted colors. The biggest spaceport is at New Elysium, on top of Maxwell Montes, the tallest mountain on the Ishtar plateau. The Ishtar Confederation, also headquartered in New Elysium, is dominated by The Faith, a very vaguely described religion with a theocratic hold on the population. It’s a mixture of Islam, Bahá'í, and Taoism, but is not given more detail than that. Many practitioners are vegetarians, but it’s not a specific command and there are no particular prohibitions on violence or killing- the Confederation has a pretty solid military.

The other main continent, Aphrodite, stretches along the equator, and is dominated by the major corporate families who originally settled the planet. The continent was also once the site of the Aphrodite Orbital Platform, a space elevator destroyed by RAM in 2285; the ruins stretch for miles along the surface and down into the mists.

The Aerostaters live in balloon cities, giant sphere clusters that balance on the high-pressure lower atmosphere and are moved by the currents of the upper atmosphere. There are around 200 separate Aerostates, and they’re all linked in a democracy. Small craft can land on the Aerostates, and they serve as a transfer point between the planet’s surface and Venusian orbit.

Finally we have the Lowlanders, gennies created to live on the lowest points of the planet’s surface, withstanding high temperatures, crushing pressure, and a poisonous atmosphere. We described them a way back, they’re basically lizard men. As I pointed out then, and this is one of the details of the setting I really like, the Lowlanders figured out that if terraforming went as far as planned, their natural habitat would be threatened and they’d all die, or at least be wiped out as a culture. The Lowlanders have a useful tool in their control over the raw materials for the popular drugs gravitol (which counteracts the debilitating effects of low or null gravity) and lifextend (no points guessing what that does), both of which are made from grasses in the Venusian swamps. They still need the other Venusians to transport the materials off world, so an uneasy stalemate exists.

Politically the Ishtarians are the major power players on Venus, controlling the largest military force. RAM could maybe take them in a straight fight but it’d be extremely costly, and Venus has many unique hazards for invading armies. So it’s a cold war, and the Ishtarian Confederation does a lot of proxy sponsorship of NEO and their attempts to subvert RAM’s influence. It helps that philosophically the Ishtarians are sympathetic to NEO’s aims. Meanwhile, RAM have funneled money and supplies to the Lowlanders, both to keep that stalemate going and to make sure they can regualrly get their hands on the aforementioned good drugs.

So Venus serves a number of purposes in the setting. It’s a cool place for adventures what with the floating cities and deadly metallic swamps and all that, has a very old-school pulp vibe. Early sci-fi often depicted Venus as full of jungles and dinosaurs and lizard people, and so we get a slightly hard sci-fi spin on that. The Ishtarians are allies with their own agenda, while the Lowlanders are naturally sympathetic- they’d like not to be genocided- but may be on the side of RAM in a given situation, and the players will have to untangle that mess. Potential moral dilemmas!

So after this, we're off to the shittiest place in the solar system: Good ol' Earth!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

quote:

The vegetation of the lowlands is a truly alien combination of mineral and vegetable- massive yellow crystalline trees attract and ground the bolts of lightning that continually batter the jungles, while their heavy, blue, drooping coverings of lichen and moss absorb the acid rain… the ground itself is covered with boulders, glowing pools of acid, and thick swamps of bioengineered, semi-metallic plants in wild, fluorescent colors.
Yes, this is the kind of thing I want out of sci-fi/fantasy adventure. I don't care if it's realistic or whatever.

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!


Man, this Buck Rogers RPG feels like it has all the best stuff from older sci-fi writing.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


As it happens, in Countdown to Doomsday, your team actually goes to the Venusian lowlands at one point. There is no mention whatsoever about any kind of preparation for the exceedingly-above-human-heat-tolerance heat whatsoever, and your party can be anywhere from three (Genesis version) to six (PC version, party size capped at six people) different genotypes. You'd think that if you had a Venusian PC with you, they'd say "Oh, quick heads up if you haven't been below the Aerostate, it gets a bit warm down below."

But nope. You just pile into the ground car and get into fights against the wildlife like just in the pulp sci-fi serials from the 1930s.

You also get a Lowlander as a temporary party member; unfortunately for you stat-wise, he's a literal baby. Hilariously, in the Genesis version, he still has equipment slots for a weapon and armor, so you can give the baby Lowlander a laser pistol and heavy battle armor, and he can hold his own frighteningly well. He even has his own unique species portrait on his character sheet (I guess so the game doesn't freak out when you look at his stats and it tries to load nothing; for game purposes he's a level 1 Lowlander Warrior.)

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Snorb posted:

You also get a Lowlander as a temporary party member; unfortunately for you stat-wise, he's a literal baby. Hilariously, in the Genesis version, he still has equipment slots for a weapon and armor, so you can give the baby Lowlander a laser pistol and heavy battle armor, and he can hold his own frighteningly well. He even has his own unique species portrait on his character sheet (I guess so the game doesn't freak out when you look at his stats and it tries to load nothing; for game purposes he's a level 1 Lowlander Warrior.)
As shown here:

Only registered members can see post attachments!

Heliotrope
Aug 17, 2007

You're fucking subhuman


mllaneza posted:

The Oni

Bully: a stat replacement move that lets you shut them down with volatile.

Did these skins get updated for 2e? I ask because Bully is a stat replacement which is absent in the new edition. Also, what good stats does the Oni have? I'd assume a skin about bullying others would be Cold/Volatile.

mllaneza posted:

The Kitsune

Vixen: when you successfully turn someone on they choose an extra option from the 7-9 list.


This is a pretty bad move because it can force people to respond positively when you Turn Them On, which is something the game explicitly says can't happen.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Nessus posted:

As shown here:



Pretty much that. (Minus the green skin and the laser pistol, of course.)

Then again, considering any character could use any weapon in CtD, players who are crazy enough can give said first-level baby Lowlander a goddamn rocket launcher and let him clear the field for you.

Snorb fucked around with this message at 06:44 on Nov 14, 2019

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Night10194 posted:

I think I'm fairly lonely in being okay with 'whiffing' reasonably often if it also means combat never becomes rocket tag and rounds can still be resolved reasonably quickly.

You're not the only one in this. For example, there's a lot of missing happening in ranged combat. It's called "you're not taking perfectly spherical aimed shots in a vaccuum" "suppressing fire." When s game doesn't take that into account, Phoenix Command happens. Our resident LatwPIAT can tell you more.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


PurpleXVI posted:

Man, this Buck Rogers RPG feels like it has all the best stuff from older sci-fi writing.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for a Buck Rodgers release with a good modern ruleset.

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Forbidden Lands: Part 1

Weirdly enough, the games of the Swedish company, Fria Ligan (or "Free League" in English), haven't got a whole lot of attention in this thread to my knowledge; none of their games save for poor lowly Symbaroum have been reviewed in here. I figure I'd review a game from them with a better system at the very least. Only seems fair.

The Intro to the Player's Handbook

I''ll make this part short since a lot of the first chapter of this book is the standard "Just what *is* a roleplaying game?" stuff that we've all seen before and need not repeat. Forbidden Lands is a sword-and-sorcery style game in the vein of Fritz Lieber's stories. The protagonists of this game are explicitly not heroes, but rather more in the vein of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in that they're normal people (warts and all) out to make a fortune and future for themselves, and if doing that happens to require bursting into abandoned castles and the burial grounds of long-dead people to take what is there, so be it. The titular Forbidden Lands, or Ravenland to be more proper, have opened up to travel after centuries of a quite lethal, quite demonic Blood Mist hanging over the vast majority of it making anything more than a half-day's journey impossible. The good news is that there's lots of corpses to steal poo poo from as a result of this, the bad news is that the people responsible for all this Blood Mist bullshit, such as Zygofer the Spellbinder (what a ridiculous loving name!) and his bands of marauding Rust Brother cultists and demons, are still around. Oh, and also the descendants and relatives of all the dead people are still quite alive and might take offense to you stealing from their honored kings and queens. Most of this backstory is shunted off into the Gamemaster's Book, so if you're a player, you're at the whims of your GM to know what the gently caress is going on, for better or worse (personally I think it simulates quite well the knowledge a feudal peasant-turned-adventurer would have of greater geopolitics: exactly gently caress-all).

The Forbidden Lands are detailed with a big ol' hex map that is one of the big draws of this game, enticing you to take your adventuring party through the various hexes of woodlands, plains, rivers, and what not to the various ruins and locales on the map, and perhaps even set up a stronghold to store all that loot in. The box set even comes with nice little stickers for you to place on this map to represent the various castles, dungeons, villages, and graves of player characters who died. The game is also polite enough to say you can use this system on any hex map you want if you think Ravenland is loving stupid. Unfortunately, what should be the other draw of the game, the mechanics by which it actually runs on, are not described until chapter 3. I always consider it a blunder for a RPG to do that, but I guess developers will keep making this easily rectified mistake until we are all too old or dead to care. Spoilers, it's a dice-pool system running primarily off d6's but with d8s and higher for special occasions, in which you add up your attributes and skills to get that many d6s. Sixes are successes, 1s are failures in very certain situations.

Your Adventurer: Character Creation

As usual with fantasy games, you have various races to pick and choose from as the first step in character creation,, but they're called "kin" in this book. There are eight kin for you to pick and choose from, and each has a unique talent (described in chapter 4, gently caress you!) and a key attribute (meaning an attribute you can boost up to 5 at character creation if you so choose.

Humans are intruders in Ravenland, having come north from Alderland or east from Aslene for various reasons (usually greed, but sometimes to escape persecution and war). They have the key attribute of Empathy, since humans are somehow charismatic despite being huge assholes.
Elves are a bit weird, looking about as standard as a Tolkien elf can get, but are described in the lore as a body formed around a sentient ruby sent to this planet by their creator god, the Red Runner, and tasked with making nature as great as possible so said god could see something beautiful for once. Needless to say, they're very pissed that the humans have come and ruined their hard work of tree-arranging. They get the key attribute of Agility, since they're very fast and hardy.
Half-elves are what you get when elves have sex with humans, unsurprisingly, but unlike in other settings, half-elves think they're way better than either of their parents since they live longer than humans and don't like watching grass grow like the elves. They get the key attribute of Wits since they're smug fucks who think they're smarter than everyone else.
Dwarves are another native to Ravenland, and are tasked by their god, Huge (yes really), to build the world outwards until it reaches Huge's forge in the stars. Needless to say, they're very pissed that the humans have come and ruined their hard work of dirt-stacking. Dwarves have the key attribute of Strength, naturally.
Halflings are described as living public lives of forced cheer and happiness in their little halfling holes while privately covering up the seedier aspects of mortal life, such as stuffing Aunt Lylla in a cupboard for being mentally ill or pretending Cousin Brollo doesn't like to get in fights with his wife when he's been drinking. They have the key attribute of Empathy, since I guess one learns really quick how to fake emotions in this sort of set-up.
Wolfkin are wolfmen, shockingly enough. They love to hunt and think the other races are weaklings. Uh, that's it, other than that they favor Agility. They're very dull, in my opinion.
Orcs were originally the slaves of dwarves and elves, but during the wars with humanity, they decided to break free and form their own empires. There's a weird bit about them wanting to "make Ravenland great again" in the description that makes me roll my eyes. They get Strength as their forte.
Goblins are actually related to halflings in this setting, but while halflings live quiet lives of desperation, goblins do cool poo poo like ride wolves under the light of the moon and gently caress up people that try to attack the halflings. They're very Agile.

There is a problem in the descriptions of each kin in that the hate they have for each other is rather vividly described and oversold, what with the humans being described as lice by the dwarves and the orcs loathing elf and dwarf alike for being slave masters and what not, and thus you wonder why anyone of different kin would ever bother to join forces if you took this all at face value.

Professions are up next, filling the role of classes. Each gets their own unique talents, has their own unique attribute (so you can potentially have two attributes at 5 or one at 6 if you double up on the one your kin gives you), and have a skill list of five skills each. Those skills can be set to 3 instead of just 1 at character creation.
Druids have an assortment of skills related to standard druid-y stuff, such as Animal Handling, Survival, Insight, Healing, and also Endurance because hey, why not? They're the closest thing there is to a cleric in setting, since most gods in this setting tend to be nature-based in some way. Their talents give them access to shapeshifting, healing, and sense-boosting magic. They get Wits as their key attribute.
Fighters are about as typical as it gets. Strength is their focus and their skills are pretty standard; they get access to Might, Endurance, Melee, Crafting, and Move. However, in this system, being able to carry a ton of poo poo and actually take a blow is a pretty remarkable thing, so being a Fighter is a good deal rather than making you the wizard's pack mule. Their talents focus around them being able to predict enemy moves, increase their close combat damage, and make them pretty good with a shield.
Hunters are Agility-based, of course, and are much like the stealth archer archetype that dominates modern Bethesda Softworks games. They get Stealth, Marksmanship, Scouting, Survival, and Move, and their talents let them do more bow damage, get a pet animal, and improve their survival skills.
Minstrels are bards, but without the ability to sword fight as much. They key off Empathy, naturally, and get access to Lore, Insight, Manipulation, Performance, and Healing. Their talents let them heal or buff their allies better, or do better at out-of-combat performing.
Peddlers are the odd man out, in that they're the one profession that doesn't really correlate to a standard fantasy RPG class. They are all about making your party money and preventing you from losing it, which is pretty good considering how expensive it can get to maintain your stronghold. Empathy is also their key attribute, but they have the skills of Crafting, Sleight of Hand, Scouting, Insight, and Manipulation. Their talents give them the ability to haggle better, pull items out of nowhere, and lie (and detect lies too).
Riders are a blend of the Hunter and Fighter, with a little bit of Druid thrown in there for good measure. They get Endurance, Melee, Marksmanship, Survival, and Animal Handling, and their strength is their Agility. Their talents all deal with their horse, such as making the horse fight for them, getting better at fighting on a horse, and riding the horse faster, which is a shame because this game really wants you to be going into dungeons and mountains and all the other areas that are no place for a horse.
Rogues are what you would expect. They are the third Agility-focused class, with skills in Melee, Stealth, Sleight of Hand, Move, and Manipulation. Their talents let them backstab harder, give them access to poison, and let them disguise themselves better.
Sorcerers are the other Wits-based spellcaster, but everyone hates them because they're weird assholes unlike the druids. They get Crafting, Sleight of Hand, Lore, Insight, and Manipulation. Their talents let them cast a variety of schools, such as necromancy, blood magic, stone-shaping, and rune-casting.

Nothing too out of the ordinary here apart from the Peddler, who I appreciate just because it reminds me of Fire Emblem and how you can have that Merchant character accompany you to help sell and carry all your stuff. They're all very useful and well-balanced, save for the Rider, who sadly falls under the same curse all mounted combat characters do in these sorts of games in that the laws of reality conspire against them because all combat in RPGs usually takes place in areas where horses have a rough time.

Age is the next step in character creation, affecting how many points you get to divvy up among your attributes and skills depending upon how old you choose to be. Younger people get more raw attributes, while older people start with more skills and talents. You must start with 2 in an attribute at minimum, and as stated, can get it up to 5 or 6 depending upon where your key attributes went. Young adults get a whopping 15 points, adults get 14, and old people 13. Also, young people get a mere 8 skill points, adults get 10, and elderly people get 12. Your character starts with their kin talent, as well as one rank in a profession talent, and an amount of general talent points depending on age. Young people only get 1, adults get 2, and old people 3. Fun fact, elves are de facto in the adult category since they never age. This system seems a bit ill-considered, as the way XP works, you want to have higher attributes to start with over skills since you can never increase your attributes outside of character creation. Unless you're playing a one-shot, it seems to be for the best to start off as a fresh-faced hero rather than a boomer and play it safe so you can make up for the skill and talent deficit.

Your character also has a Pride, which is confidence in one aspect of your abilities or a background accomplishment of yours, and each profession has a few examples (such as the Rogue bragging no one has a softer step than they, or the Druid boasting that the gods love them more). Once per session, if you fail on a roll and your Pride relates to it, you get to reroll it and add a d12 (useful, since a d12 can get multiple successes while a d6 only has the one). The catch is that if you somehow fail again after invoking your Pride, you lose it for good, and must pick a new Pride after playing an entire session without one. I like this mechanic a lot, since it does do a good job in fleshing your character out and can also drive character growth if you lose it. I'd love to see it in different games. In addition, each adventurer has a Dark Secret. This could be anything from owing someone a lot of money, alcoholism, regret over a past murder you committed, a secret love, or anything else so long as it causes complications for your character. You get a point of XP if your Dark Secret comes up in a session, but mostly it's just a nice story telling tool. Relationships exist as a way to define how the player characters relate to one another, but sadly this one doesn't provide any mechanical benefits or XP like in the PbtA games I've seen use stuff like this. Kind of a waste, honestly.

You start off with an amount of gear (usually a weapon of some kind, armor, food and water, and a few coins) based on your profession. Gear is ranked as Tiny, Light, Regular, and Heavy. An adventurer can carry up to their Strength in Regular items. Light items count as half, Heavy as two, and Tiny items weigh nothing. You can temporarily carry twice your Strength in stuff, but you have to roll Endurance whenever you want to run or whenever you travel, failure resulting in either you dropping everything or taking a point of damage to Agility to continue going on. Mounts, needless to say, are very strong and can carry up to twice their Strength in weight and twice that if you dismount and lead it (a standard riding horse has 5 Strength, for example). Coins are in the standard 100 copper=10 silver=1 gold coin format, but unlike other games, you have to track their weight; a bag of 100 coins counts as a Light item, 200 as a Regular, and 400 as Heavy. Consumables, such as food, water, and torches, are unique in that they are represented by a die rather than by units. Each time you use one, you roll that dice and if you roll a 1 or 2, it decreases that die a step (so a d12 goes to a d10, a d10 to d8, a d8 to d6, and if you roll a 1-2 on a d6, it's all gone). Consumables don't weigh more the higher the dice is, helpfully enough, and sharing consumables means you increase your pal's die by a step.

Experience points are gained by going through a checklist at the end of each session and seeing what you did. You get 1 for just showing up, of course. Traveling through a hex on the map you've never traveled before, finding a new adventure site, defeating a monster, finding treasure, invoking your Pride, risking your life to save another PC, suffering your Dark Secret, building up your stronghold, and doing something extraordinary all give you 1 XP. It all works rather well in encouraging you to actually engage with the core concepts of the game, but I don't like that some players can get ahead in XP if they are more consistent in using their Pride or if the GM invokes their Dark Secrets. You can spend XP on a new skill for 5 times the rank you're purchasing (so 20 XP if you want to buy rank 4 of something) or talents for 3 times the new rank. Learning new skills requires you use that skill with no ranks in a session and succeed or just find a tutor (such as a PC with ranks in it), and learning new talents requires either a successful Wits roll or a tutor. Magical talents *always* require a tutor unless you want to do the incredibly stupid thing of paying 3 times normal XP for a new rank.

Finally, you also have a Reputation score, which is basically your fame/infamy. Older characters start with 1-2, while young people have zilch to start with. You roll d6s equal to your Reputation when you meet new people, and a success means someone has heard of you before, for better or worse. This gets modified if you're among a different group of kin then your own (-2), and whoever has the highest Reputation in the group is the one to roll. Doing things of note such as defeating notable foes, finding legendary artifacts, and so on increases Reputation. This can be very helpful for Manipulation rolls if you come off as positive to someone else (such as using your reputation as a great foe of demonkind to convince some farmers to help you) or a detriment (such as a dwarf not wanting anything to do with the assholes who stole King Gustbrand's legendary dagger from his tomb).

That's all for now, maybe next time I'll actually be able to explain the drat system since these jerks put it behind character creation!

SunAndSpring fucked around with this message at 17:49 on Nov 14, 2019

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!


Hahahahah their god is named Huge? That's not just a translation weirdness?

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


PurpleXVI posted:

Hahahahah their god is named Huge? That's not just a translation weirdness?

Well, in Swedish it would be pronounced more like "HOO-geh" and it doesn't mean huge as in "enormous," (my Swedish isn't great despite having lived in Sweden for three years, but near as I can tell it doesn't really mean anything) so I guess it's "translation weirdness" in that sense.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


GimpInBlack posted:

Well, in Swedish it would be pronounced more like "HOO-geh" and it doesn't mean huge as in "enormous," (my Swedish isn't great despite having lived in Sweden for three years, but near as I can tell it doesn't really mean anything) so I guess it's "translation weirdness" in that sense.

Well if the name is literally Huge(as in spelled that way) in both editions, that's one thing, in Swedish that would just come across as a bit Ye Olde Norse, I guess. But the way SunAndSpring wrote it, I thought he meant that the meaning was Huge in both English and Swedish.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




I think you got the company translations flipped there. :v: Fria Ligan is the Swedish name in this case.

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


PurpleXVI posted:

Well if the name is literally Huge(as in spelled that way) in both editions, that's one thing, in Swedish that would just come across as a bit Ye Olde Norse, I guess. But the way SunAndSpring wrote it, I thought he meant that the meaning was Huge in both English and Swedish.

I don't have a copy of the original Swedish book on hand, but all the other gods have fairly easy and simple names, such as Wyrm, Raven, Clay, Horn, and so on, so it almost certainly is a word to the effect of "Huge". The book seems to be not translated as best as it could; while everything seems technically accurate (at least in core and the GM book; the campaign they released with the game has a lot of typos), it doesn't seem to do a good job of conveying the original concepts behind stuff or understanding what words sound really goofy in English. Something like "Vast" might have worked better, but I'm not exactly sure without access to the Swedish stuff to know if that's what they were going for or not.

Also I'm a she.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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



Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

Preface
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Setting
Interlude: A History of Face Grabbing
Chapter 3: Storytelling
Chapter 4: Rules
Chapter 5: Character
Chapter 6: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 1: Clans
Chapter 7, Part 2: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 3: Disciplines
Chapter 8, Part 1: Dramatic Systems
Chapter 8, Part 2: Dramatic Systems
Chapter 9: Drama
Appendix, Part 1


quote:

Columbus sailed the Atlantic, the first steam engines tottered into motion, the British squares stood firm under the French guns at Waterloo, the one-eyed scoundrels of the nineteenth century praised God and filled their pockets; and this is where it all led--to labyrinthine slums and dark back kitchens with sickly, ageing people creeping round and round them like blackbeetles.

--Evelyn Waugh, “The Nameless City”

Vampire finishes out with a sample chronicle. As a proof-of-concept and answer to the age-old question “But what do I do with this weird new game,” I think rather highly of it.

The chronicle is titled “Forged in Steel,” after the motto of Gary, Indiana. The Storyteller conceived the idea while driving through the city on a road trip, and after seeing Michael Moore’s classic documentary Roger and Me. And you fools thought I was mad, mad for my leftist analysis of games about monster superheroes!

Gary is an archetypal “Rust Belt” city that’s suffered drastic population loss and urban decay as American manufacturing collapsed. At the time Vampire was published it had lost 35% of its peak population, and it’s only continued to decline--today, almost a third of its buildings are abandoned. The only thing it needs to be part of a “Gothic-Punk World of Darkness” is a few gargoyles perched on its crumbling landmarks.

Because Gary is a hollowed-out shell of its former self, part of the central concept is that it’s a satellite of Chicago, the real seat of Kindred and mortal power in the region. Chicago became the “signature city” of Vampire: the Masquerade. Choosing a modern, Midwestern metropolis, instead of New York or New Orleans, was an inspired choice for a gothic horror game.



Hey Sailor


The premise is a strong one: for decades, the princes of Gary and Chicago were rivals. Modius controlled Gary’s unions while Lodin controlled big business in Chicago. Modius saw his power base collapse along with the steel industry, and finally lost the war by forcing a Conclave that went very badly for him. Now he must “confer” with Lodin on major decisions; he’s been stewing in this humiliation ever since.

Chicago is a hive of Jyhad, and Lodin has banned the creation of new Kindred for 15 years in order to tighten his grip. So disobedient vampires bring their childer to Gary, and the city has become a dump where the fallout of Chicago intrigues can settle. Modius is downright welcoming, since it maintains the charade that his princedom matters.

To develop the setting, the Storyteller begins by just writing down a list of evocative images he’ll use to establish such lofty elements as theme and atmosphere. Chain-link fences, abandoned houses, pollution, gangs, drugs, literal rust...you get the idea. The dominant motif of the chronicle is sheer decay. Neither the people nor the vampires of Gary have the means or the will to change their situation. Social issues like poverty, addiction, education, and pollution can be woven into the story at will, like The Wire with fangs.

The Wasteland is an eight mile wide stretch of abandoned factories and warehouses along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Flakes of rust cover everything, and the fleeing industrialists left plenty of toxic waste behind. The only people here are anarchs and mortal gangsters who use abandoned buildings as headquarters.

The dockyards are the only major employer left in Gary. Most freight bound for Chicago is unloaded here. It’s technically part of the suburb of East Chicago, but part of Modius’ territory.

Gary Exports Co. is the front for a smuggling operation--guns, drugs, and vampires. Kindred who want to travel internationally can have themselves shipped in special containers.

The Auction is a slave market held in an abandoned church. A free ghoul named Williams has his thugs round up homeless people, and sells them to vampires for blood and cash. Of course, he won’t drink from the same vampire more than twice. It’s assumed that the PCs will eventually take it upon themselves to end this.

The chronicle’s concept allows the PCs to be a motley crew of unlikely allies. The only prompts are that their sires are all from Chicago, and they should all feel responsible for Gary. There are only seven other Kindred in the city and the Prince is a deluded has-been. This is their city, or it will be. Eventually, they’ll have to defend it against Chicago.



“He looks like Albert Einstein, only he wears nicer clothing and has a more stately bearing. The hair is about the same.”

In Gary, even the few institutions that maintain a respectable veneer are rotten underneath. No one exemplifies that theme better than Modius himself. A Toreador Embraced in the early 19th century, his fashion sense appears to have petrified during the Victorian era. He claims to have been involved in occult circles, and is rumoured to have connections to the Tremere. (He does have a dot of Thaumaturgy. I suspect they originally intended him to be a Malkavian, since he has more Obfuscate and Dominate than his own clan’s Disciplines.)

At heart, Modius is a conniving coward with a massive ego. His intelligence and cleverness are sabotaged by his vanity and paranoia, so the power he craves can only make him miserable when he gets it. He governs by vacillating between flattery and empty threats--empty because he has few henchmen, and isn’t the type to get his hands dirty.

Modius is a great character. He’s not some distant ruler who will hand the characters quests or come down on them when they gently caress up. He’s a volatile schemer who needs the PCs more than they need him. As their star rises, he could turn on them out of sheer jealousy. That’s fine, because by the time he’s no longer a useful patron, they’ll be sick of him.

The story hook involving Modius has him “adopting” one of the PCs as a sort of replacement for a cruel and distant sire. Modius will flatter the PC to the point of talking about abdicating in their favour, just to con them into refighting his war against Lodin.




Allicia is shy and sad. She was a beautiful young woman when Modius Embraced her. Her mortal life ended in 1938, and she dresses like it. She remembers barely anything of her human existence, and hasn’t spoken for 50 years.

She lives simply from an old store of wealth. She seems to have spent most of her life as the mistress of powerful men, and still has connections to wealthy families in Chicago. These are slipping away from her as her lack of aging becomes obvious.

Alicia has had a number of failed affairs with Kindred who come to Gary, because Modius is using her as a pawn. She’s Blood Bound to him, and when she shares blood with other vampires, they eventually become Bound to him as well. She’s been very sheltered with regard to Kindred lore, so she doesn’t understand what’s happening. The major story hook involving Alicia has her getting romantically involved with one of the PCs, creating a tale of star-crossed lovers.



Bet you didn’t know vampires can get the mumps.

Juggler is that guy you know who’s a lot of fun, despite being a complete rear end in a top hat. In Chicago he’s become an urban legend, the “Party Man” who appears to midnight revelers, takes them on a wild ride, and vanishes before sunrise. No one knows why Modius tolerates his presence in Gary, but many assume he owes Juggler some kind of debt. Juggler is a Brujah and is secretly an anarch leader in Chicago. His comrades maintain a headquarters in Gary’s Wasteland, and he’s working on bending the local gangs to his will.

The story hook for Juggler is a fun one: he’s secretly the sire of one of the PCs. He tells them that they will both be killed if the connection is discovered. He offers aid, as long as it doesn’t blow their cover, and controls them with threats. Meanwhile, Modius accepts the PC as the childe of a reclusive Chicago elder and flatters them constantly.




Michael is a sad case. He is physically and mentally disabled; other Kindred suspect he was Embraced out of cruelty. He’s managed to not only survive, but avoid drawing attention to himself. He sometimes attaches himself to Allicia for a few months, but eventually wanders back to his haven in a crumbling mausoleum. If asked about it, he’ll point to the epitaph and say “Daddy,” but there’s no evidence that he’s related to the man buried there.

Michael is difficult to talk to. He’s very shy, and good at hiding himself, despite being a tall wiry man with a severe limp. He’ll only reveal himself to those who spend a lot of time hanging around his cemetery looking for him. If attacked, he’ll defend himself with great strength, but he’s not aggressive. (When asked how he feeds, he just shrugs.)

I’m not fond of Michael as a character. Intellectually disabled characters are rarely handled well, and Michael isn’t free from cliches: he’s uncoordinated but has incredible strength, and the roleplaying notes say to “Play up your low intelligence, but make sure you let a certain craftiness and wisdom shine through.” Pass.

I do think the given story hooks for Michael are pretty good. The PCs could mistake him for a killer or a member of the Sabbat before getting to know him. He can also be the target of a vampire hunter, lacking the wherewithal to deal with the situation alone. As Michael is a Malkavian, I’d rather recast him as a vampire who is afraid to travel far from his haven and doesn’t really understand what he is.


Why do half of these faces look like Charlie Kirk memes?

Evelyn Stephens is the other half of the Taylor Swift music video. She encountered Juggler while partying in Chicago, became fascinated with him, and eventually seduced him into Embracing her. At first she was terrified, but soon began to revel in her power. Evelyn is an impulsive, reckless hedonist, and when Modius finds out about her, he will fly into a rage.

Evelyn’s story hooks center on getting herself into trouble and dragging the PCs along with her. Her initial terror at her Embrace led her to confide everything in her brother, a police detective. After befriending the PCs, she will introduce them to her brother. (Juggler is such a terrible sire that Evelyn doesn’t know better than to commit a capital crime and then admit it to Kindred she barely knows.)




Alexander Danov is a Nosferatu, Embraced around the turn of the 14th century. He’s a very unusual vampire. He is centuries old without claiming the status of elder, he is a nomad who travels from city to city, and he is a Golconda seeker. He doesn’t proselytize, but will help PCs who are interested in seeking Golconda. Danov is a very humane vampire with no political ambitions, so there’s not much else to him. He's very knowledgeable and respected, so he could be used to point the party in the right direction when they miss a cue.



My man got Trump hands

Lucian is an ancient Gangrel who owns Gary Exports and controls the city’s shipping industry. He could surely seize the Princedom if he wanted it, but he doesn’t, and has a cordial relationship with Modius.

Lucian is described as an unusually decent vampire who only gets involved in Kindred politics to keep the peace. (I find this odd considering he smuggles drugs and guns.) He doesn’t care at all for Jyhad, or clan allegiances, or really Kindred society at all--he comes from a time when vampires were far fewer and far-flung and rarely associated with one another. He also freely admits to having murdered his own sire, which many vampires find appalling.

Lucian has no story hooks specifically written down for him. Considering that he’s the real power in Gary and has a business transporting vampires across the Atlantic, the PCs will need him sooner or later.




Sullivan Dane is a zealot. From a young age, he believed he had a calling from God. He wanted to become a Jesuit, but his studies were interrupted by his encounter with a vampire. Unable to convince his peers in the Church, he was recruited by the Inquisition, which supports his activities. He’s devoted his life to destroying vampires and proving their existence to the Vatican.

Dane is a sharp-featured, athletic man who dresses conservatively. He wears gloves to conceal the burn scars he suffered in killing his first vampire--that was the last time he got sloppy. Dane may be a mere mortal, but he’s brilliant, clever, and highly skilled. (He also has a True Faith rating of 8 and an unexplained dot of Auspex, so have fun with that.)

Dane is a very careful hunter who stalks his prey for a long time before striking, and will use one vampire as a stalking horse to find others. His goal is to expose and destroy every vampire in Gary and Chicago--he has no idea how many there are. If the PCs accidentally lead him back to Modius, they will be blamed.



Wrex.

William Shepard is a FBI agent who knows that vampires exist. (He’s not an agent of Special Affairs, and doesn’t even know they exist). He’s aching for the opportunity to investigate Kindred activities that fall under his jurisdiction, and will hover around local law enforcement looking for leads.

Shepard is a professional who never tips his hand or rushes into danger without backup. He’s also not a crank who will admit his beliefs to his colleagues. If he ever meets up with Greg Stephens, the Kindred of Chicago will be in deep poo poo. He’ll have an ally in the local police who knows the score. Shepard can easily play the role of principal antagonist in the chronicle.




Gregory Stephens is a Chicago homicide detective and the brother of Evelyn Stephens. He was once a raw recruit who just needed a job, but his years on the force have made him hard-working and compassionate. (This is in the most infamously corrupt and violent police department in the United States, by the way.)

Since he learned that vampires exist and his sister is one of them, Greg has spent most of his time trying to deal with it in one way or another. He’s contacted a lot of occult fringe groups in an attempt to find a cure, and he’s worked both for and against various Kindred he’s identified, per the demands of his conscience and his agenda to gather more information. He’s already had one encounter with Juggler that left him seriously hurt, and the only thing keeping him alive is Lodin’s edict that killing cops is off-limits. That’s wise, since Stephens has set up a dead-man’s-hand to deliver all the information he’s gathered to a trusted police commissioner.


Next time on Kindred the Embraced: “Baptism by Fire,” the intro module.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 18:51 on Nov 14, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


That actually does sound like a surprisingly decent campaign setting and idea. Particularly with the way it keeps the numbers of vampires low, so everyone knows everyone and the stakes are very personal. Also with the way you have multiple outside forces hovering around, waiting to bring fire, stakes, and cops down on you if your politicking spills over the wrong way.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

The Gary Chronicle setup was one thing that's always impressed me about early Vampire.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


Halloween Jack posted:



Gregory Stephens is a Chicago homicide detective and the brother of Evelyn Stephens. He was once a raw recruit who just needed a job, but his years on the force have made him hard-working and compassionate. (This is in the most infamously corrupt and violent police department in the United States, by the way.)

Since he learned that vampires exist and his sister is one of them, Greg has spent most of his time trying to deal with it in one way or another. He’s contacted a lot of occult fringe groups in an attempt to find a cure, and he’s worked both for and against various Kindred he’s identified, per the demands of his conscience and his agenda to gather more information. He’s already had one encounter with Juggler that left him seriously hurt, and the only thing keeping him alive is Lodin’s edict that killing cops is off-limits. That’s wise, since Stephens has set up a dead-man’s-hand to deliver all the information he’s gathered to a trusted police commissioner.

To be fair, if anyone's going to fit into the tiny number of cops that are also decent people, it's the ones that just needed a job, rather than the vast majority who get into it out of some sick pathology of being a bully or needing to get back at the bullies (by being a bully themselves), or needing to force people to "respect" them, or...

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Halloween Jack posted:

Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

Vampires all look like they're currently loaded with some chaw. I dunno if it's the art style or the rules of 2nd edition VTM.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I think that's on the artist. Coincidentally, wearing fake fangs does make your lips puff out and look weird when your mouth is closed. I think this came up when someone reviewed a LARP book...

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





theironjef posted:

Vampires all look like they're currently loaded with some chaw. I dunno if it's the art style or the rules of 2nd edition VTM.
Art creates the rules, like the circumstance bonus in Exalted for not covering your nipples. That extra die has saved me many times!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Maxwell Lord posted:

Good Rocketjocks Never Hock an Engineer's Tools
A Ganyman should know the settings that his spark plugs get!

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


gently caress I got no idea how to summarize skills and mechanics in an interesting way

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


SunAndSpring posted:

gently caress I got no idea how to summarize skills and mechanics in an interesting way

Include illustrations :colbert:

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



SunAndSpring posted:

gently caress I got no idea how to summarize skills and mechanics in an interesting way

Briefly summarize the ones that aren't interesting ('you got your standard skills for notice stuff good, sneak good, play with animals good') and highlight the ones that are different or have dumb uses/interactions, like that one rpg and the trained bird death squads.

Moldless Bread
Jul 10, 2019


The Dark Eye 4.0

The world - quick overview

The rules of The Dark Eye are very closely tied to its setting, with a lot of mechanics being specifically tied to its fluff and some character classes being directly tied to the background.

TDE plays on the continent Aventuria (Yeah, I know...) in the world of Ethra (Yeah, I know...).
It is, frankly speaking, a completely generic fantasy world without any outstanding features you'd notice from a glance. It's main draws are the incredible detailed sourcebooks about most of the world, the constantly evolving metaplot (both a matter of preferences) and the fact that it is almost impossible to separate from the most widespread german RPG, often being the first contact for new players.
The standard way the world is presented always reminded of fairy tales. Sure, there are Trolls or Witches or both in the forest, and a wizard travels through the hamlet every few years (Grandma even saw one cast a spell once!), but for the most part, the people are living a completely mundane life. (City folk usually have more wizards hanging around, so they are a bit more jaded towards the weird stuff). The TDE Designers dubbed this Phantastic realism; you can basically assume the life in Aventuria to be equivalent to the real world, unless magic or divine influence is explicitly mentioned.
Of course, the more you get into the metaplot, the more you stumble upon great feats of magic, Demons walking the earth and other high fantasy stuff (hello, magic Battleship), but tone issues will be a thing I am going bring up a couple of other times in this review.
Oh, yeah, the metaplot. Year for year, the time advances both in the real world and in the game, therefore you have magical discoveries, military campaigns, political upheaval and personal drama of the rich and powerful happening across the years in real time.
Aside from setting books, novels and Campaign books referring to events in earlier publications the most visible effect is the Aventurischer Bote (Aventurian Herald), a long running magazine released every two months (Still running, at currently # 174) which is equal parts rules und community updates, a publication of short adventure scenarios and an actual ingame Newspaper detailing the newest demonic invasion and/or academic humiliation of a famous wizard of the month.
I personally never followed it and have lapsed the metaplot some years ago anyway, so I'm only pointing out the most important events. I am also going to freely jump around the timeline, depending on what I am associating with the current topic.

Lastly, I am going to bitch and rant and complain about a lot of things, but there is one thing in the game that has always been cool: Aventuria has very emancipated genders and ist tolerant of sexuality. Most cultures treat men and women as equals and have mixed groups in all parts of life, I can't remember a single instance of homophobia anywhere and there are several same-sex couples among the important characters.

Anyway, let's take a short trip around the continent.


Let's start off right in the middle, in the most central location of the gameline (geographically as well as narratively). The Middle Realm is an Empire encompassing several Provinces that all resemble different european places around the late medieval to early renaissance period, most of them with a germanic feel.
It has towns full of free citizens, minor nobles and beggars, hamlets full of peasants and hunters, feudal lords from Baron to Counts and Dukes, Meadows, Forests, Knights, well traveled roads and forsaken places deep in the forests, temples and wizard academies in cities, hermits and the odd wizard tower outside...
Again, the broad strokes are rather generic.

The city of Gareth is the biggest city on the continent, housing 200.000 people, merchants with goods from all over the continent, temples of every god and two wizard academies. It's also the traditional seat of the Imperial Court, but the court has taken to travel from province to province in recent years.

Other sample provinces are:
Weiden in the north is lagging somewhat behind culturally and resembles the later middle ages, with fewer urban centers and militaries consisting of Knights and their Men-at-arms rather than standing armies or mercenary companies.
Almada has a bit of a spanish flair, trading doublet and longsword for ruffled shirts and Rapiers. The locals take their honor seriously, live life vicariously and are involved in constant border skirmishes in the south.
Albernia lies at the western coast, has a close connection to the local fairies and – going by the names of the locals- has an Irish influence.
Warkhome on the eastern border of the empire used to be the military capital of the realm. We'll come back here later.

We will continue northeast and then move on counterclockwise. That seems unintuitive, but I have my reasons.
In the northeastern part of Aventuria lies the Foundland, which can be grossly oversimplified into two places: The once prosperous (but not yet ruined) Merchant-city of Festum on the coast, unique for having a sizable population of Goblins living together in peace with the human majority. The Goblins are clearly second-class citizens, but it's peaceful nonetheless.

And then there is Seweria, the endless wilderness to the north. The name's similarity to Siberia is no accident. The entire Country has a definite eastern-european bend. The landscape is dotted with isolated settlements, populated by serfs whose quality of life is mostly determined by how much exactly of an rear end in a top hat their local Bronnjar (Noble) is.
Between those places roam wild goblin tribes, making trouble for travelers and occasionally following the words of their centuries old prophet, as well as Norbards, nomadic merchants who have a reputation for selling you everything you need (and some things you don't) and throwing amazing parties.

Going further north into the frozen wastes, we ignore the inhospitable lands of demonic cold in favor of the inhospitable lands of natural cold. As you'd expect of frozen wastes, there is straight up a whole lot of nothing for miles, with inhabitants coming down mostly to frost-elves, snow-orcs and ice-Conans either minding their own business or trying to kill each other. Also the Niveses, tribes of caribou-herders, who try to keep out of those conflicts and treat the occasionally born werewolf in their tribes with great reverence.

We could make a stop in our journey west to visit the elven lands in the south, but that is a bit of misnomer. Instead of a proper elven Kingdom it mostly means "There are an unusual amount of elven communities hidden between our human settlements." Some of the elves have even have moved to the human towns – why, almost 600 in the biggest one.
Yeah, there aren't that many elves around anymore in the setting. The ones that are usually stay in their primitive societies and look down on the short lived races.

The western half of the northern coast takes a dip into a slightly warmer climate, so we actually have things going on here.
The Svelltlands (named after the river in it), used to be an loose federation of city-states. But then the orcs came and claimed the land as their own. They now occupy the land, forcing the rural population to work for them and occasionally take slaves.

The cities are still free from occupation as long as they regularly pay tribute to the orcs. One of those cities on the coast is Riva, home to the Stoerrebrandt merchant-family, richest Aventurians alive. If you played the third Realms of Arkania game you know the city, you mostly hung around here.

But where did those Orcs come from? To the west lies the aptly named Orcland, a wide grass steppe that used to be populated by warring tribes until the Aikar Brazoragh, supposedly an Avatar of their gods, arrived and united the clans to take the fight to the humans. His goal is to the replace the humans as the dominant force in the world. There is actually a metaphysical component to this, but for now it means raiding as much of the human lands as he can.
If you played the second Realms of Arkania game, you mostly hung around here.

On the northwestern coast lies Thorwal, land of the freedom loving, hard drinking not-vikings and main setting of the first Realms of Arkania game. Depending on where exactly in the land you look (and who is writing them) Thorwalians range from good-natured, honest people who go south in their longboats to free slaves, have a good fight and kill some whalers to bloodthirsty, xenophobic assholes who go south to sink ships, pillage coastal towns and kill some whalers.

Thorwalians love whales, is what I am saying, and that actually puts them at odds with the Gjalskers, Barbarians north of the Orclands who wear kilts, channel totem animals and bury their dead by hurling them into a sea with a catapult.

Further South lie Nostria and Andergast, two kingdoms locked in a centuries old, sometimes-hot-sometimes-cold war, started for a reason nobody remembers. Nostergast (don't call it that in front of locals) is on the cultural and technological level of the early-to high middle ages and is seen as a beginners area, providing limited scope and map-size, easy politics and lots of potential mysteries in the dense forests.

This area is another one where the oscillating tone of the game is more prominent, flip-flopping between a place where poor peasants are trying to scrape out a meager living between famine, disease and uncaring nobles that could call on them to die in a senseless war on the one hand. On the other, it is a place that is constantly creating new noble positions with increasingly ridiculous names in an attempt to out-posh the other side and is feverishly working to win an arms race to have a more prestigious navy(with Nostria sporting "several fearsomely painted fishing boats" and Andergast being able to present a proper, modern warship – anchored in a lake, with the kingdom being landlocked and all...)

Going past the Middle-realm provinces of Albernia and Windhague we arrive in the southern half of the continent and begin with the Realm of Horas. The Horasians have an actual renaissance going on, harkening back to the not-roman Empire of Bosparan (the calender of the game counts in years since Bosparans fall). They are a small nation, but rich and technologically advanced with high-sea capable ships, plenty of clockwork and a standing army of not-musketeers (there are most definitely no gunpowder weapons in Aventuria, their guns being miniaturized versions of roman torsion ballistae. There are black powder fireworks, though).

The flavor of the Horasians is full-on swashbuckling. Courtly intrigue, Rapier fights on the roofs of the city and fancy capes with wide-brimmed hats are all found here.

The Cyclops-Isles – an island chain with an old-Greece flavor that also houses the last remaining cyclopes, who are as likely to dispense ancient wisdom as they are to sink your ship with huge rocks – is a vassal of the Horasian realm.

South Aventuria proper is filled with impenetrable jungles, forgotten temples of ancient civilizations and a sea full of isolated Islands that allow some Caribbean Pirate feel.
The rainforest is filled with plenty of tribal societies of native people who are trying to keep their indigenous lifestyle and animistic beliefs, but this is hard with the missionaries from the north and all the city states expanding their influence.

Some of those cities are colonies of the northern realms, but most belong to the Black Alliance of Al'Anfa. The Alliance seems mostly written as an antagonistic force in the south, being portrayed as a ruthless society full of backstabbing and hedonism, that nonetheless has large presence in the southern sea and lays claim to its natural resources.
A bright spot however, is that unlike the feudalistic lands of the north, there is vertical mobility– the society is cutthroat, but technically anyone is able to rise to the top and found one of the ruling families.
That only applies to the free citizens though – slaves are a different matter.

Slavery in Al'Anfa is legal and widespread and slaves are generally seen as expendable. Most Slaves are from the surrounding tribes, but that is a matter of pragmatism rather than any strictly racial motivation – one of the Grande families consists entirely of descendants of local natives.
Aside from that ugly issue, Al'Anfa is mostly notable being a theocracy. The patriarch of the Alliance is also the counter-pope of one the major religions.

Going back up north on the eastern side coast we come to the Lizard Marshes. Just like the elven lands, this isn't a place the Lizardmen are controlling and more an area you're more likely to find their tribes.
Lizardmen used to control great empires, but these days they have retreated from their former places and are busy hiding from their gods.

There is also the city of Selem. It used to be an the Capital of an old sultanate, an enormous and prestigious city more than a millennium ago. Then a meteor struck the bay of the city, shattering parts of of the coastline and flooding parts of the city and the surrounding countryside.
Today the city and the surrounding Ruins are suffused with feelings of squalor, madness and decay, humans and lizardmen lead lives of constant paranoia. Fishmen, toadmen and Crocodilemen are more common here than in any other part of Aventuria, possibly congregating in a tempel to an Archdemon under the sea. The Library of old is supposedly still intact, possibly still holding secrets from the old sultanate.
I am also once again baffled how many sapient underwater people there are for a game that gives so little support for adventures there.

Leaving the coast for a minute, we move further inland to the Khom Desert and the Caliphate. The seat of the caliphate and some other urban centers sit on the eastern edge of the desert, which is an endless sea of sand inhabited only by Novadi tribes who travel the dunes from oasis to oasis.

The Novadi and the caliphate are mainly united by their religion, its belligerent nature leading to constant clashes with other cultures.
What cultures are those? Almada in the north, Horasia in the west, Al'Anfa in the south, Amazons and Ferkina barbarians in the mountain ranges around them and occasionally remnants of the Lizardmen empire from a parallel dimension. They are busy people. To be fair, the Ferkina are assholes to everyone.

(The Novadi are strongly coded as muslims, xenophobic, very patriarchal and the book presents them as borderline unplayable. They used to be more sympathetic in earlier editions.)

Going back to the coast, Mhanadistan around the River Mhanadi and the Tulamidian city states are all heirs to the old Diamond sultanate, an old empire that got destroyed by Bosparan. The entire area is modeled after the stories of 1001 Nights and the local language is more or less Arabic.

The rural people are farmers in the fertile lands, nomadic animal herders or small communities formed around mining, while the city states range from the cosmopolitan Merchant city of Khunchom to the Magocracy with an oppressed underclass Fasar. Unlike the caliphate, they share most of their religion with the Middle realm, so the relationship is a lot more relaxed.

In the middle of Mhanadistan lies the Gorian Desert, which is not so much a proper desert as it is an area that had all its life sucked away by a magic ritual.

Further north lies the Matriarchy Arania, which is also an heir to the sultanates. The biggest difference to the other Tulamidians is that Arania has been under Middle realm occupation for a long time, becoming independent only recently. The resulting hybrid culture always struck me as an introduction to Tulamidian culture, allowing players to acclimatize if they want to shift their campaign there.
I like the Arani, but every story you could set here gets easily overshadowed by the fact that half of the country is currently occupied by the Blighted lands and its horrorshow.


What are the Blighted lands? Well, before we get there lets take one more step north to arrive at the Realmshield (Or Wildermarch, in a few Metaplot beats), located at the current eastern border of the Middle realm. Current, because the Middle realm used to stretch from coast to coast, but some poo poo happened and now the Blighted lands are squatting in the eastern provinces.
The area around Warkhome, then, is the frontline of a war that has become entrenched. Troops from all over the Middle realm come here to reinforce Fortresses and try to take bridgeheads, Warcamps across hundreds of miles of mountains, but concentrated around the Trollgap, constantly rotate fresh recruits with hundreds of wounded and soldiers gone mad from the demonic warfare whenever one side tries to advance.

Over time, the frontline will get frayed, Warkhome will fall and the area will become a no mans land, pockets of warlords and Bandits staking their own claim. For now though, the frontline runs right along the Trollpeak mountains. Yes there are trolls here, but they are not the man-eating monsters they are in most other games, but instead witnesses to ancient times and all around rather chill dudes.

Sigh. So, the Blighted lands, also known as the Black lands, the Shadow lands, Borbarads heirs, the Shardlands, Not-Mordor, Grimdarkistan, Evil-Dead-Land and DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM (I may have made some of those up).
So, in recent years ("recent" meaning that it was a playable campaign in 3rd edition, the first module being released in 1994) Borbarad, an ill-tempered demigod gets reborn (as is usual for him). He takes a look around the world, decides "gently caress all of you", gathers up an army of mercenaries, opportunists and demons and starts a campaign of terror and conquests to... I don't actually know what his endgame was.

Anyway, he conquers several lands, including the eastern provinces of the middle realm.He and his armies get stopped at the Trollgate by the combined armies of the continent led by seven great heroes (5 of those unspecified, because they are supposed to be PCs). Borbarad himself gets slain by the heroes (who also put a stop to the "constantly getting reborn" thing by hurling his soul forward through time to the end of existence, which is admittedly a novel and metal way to deal with that). Several of Borbarads lieutenants cut their losses, each grab a shard of the demonic crown he was wearing, granting them a leverage in deals with one specific Archdemon each, and bugger off to occupy their own little playgrounds. Those end up the Blighted lands.

The lieutenants now rule those areas with a terror regime, each putting their own little twist (and that of their Archdemons) on their devices. Demons (who aren't just Dudes from another Dimension, but terrible blemishes on reality making the very fabric of existences scream by their mere presence) openly walk the land. People suffer and get mad, get killed to root out resistance fighters, to fuel demon summoning and to satisfy general assholishness, Children get pressganged as soldiers and the families of people trying to escape get horribly tortured as punishment.
I personally find the whole deal rather unfun to play, not just because of the unrelenting horribleness, but also because of the general depiction of the almighty Shardbearers punishing each every (player) action immediately and the expectation of the metaplot makes it hard to give the players any sense of success.

The Authors seemed to agree to that at some point, because as far as I can tell 4th Edition ended with several Campaigns that liberated the Blighted lands.
The inhospitable lands of demonic cold, half of Arania and large parts of the Island Maraskan belong to the Blighted lands as well, even if they are geographically seperated, but most of the lands are wedged between the Middle realm and the Foundland.

The Bloody sea is technically part of the Blighted lands as well, but I feel there are some things to talk about. The entire eastern coast is in the grasp of the the Archdemon of the sea, threatening the coastal towns and villages with raids from fish-, toad- and lobsterpeople and peppering the sea with demonic krakens and sea serpents, sudden maelstroms, patches of boiling water, fields of entangling seeweed and Demon Arks, enourmous living ships made from flotsam and organic detritus.
Unlike the rest of the Blighted lands however, the area is too big to be terrible everywhere. It is possible to cross the sea from its southern bounds up to Festum and encountering nothing but the bloody rain that gives the sea its name.

Since there are plenty of harbor cities trading and requiring supplies within the area (both from free lands and in the Blighted lands) there is an achievable objective for the players, there is a realistic chance of dealing with the problems popping up and that nautical horror tickles something I find kinda cool. I hate the Blighted lands, but I like the Bloody sea.

One last place: In the Bloody sea lies the Island of Maraskan. The Island is one of the few places it is possible to mine Endurium, a magical metal that can create extraordinary weapons and armor. Therefore it has a history of getting invaded. The Middle realms already invaded the island several years ago, but got bogged down in multi year guerilla war and was forced to retreat. Now, the Blighted lands have set up shop and are supplying the rest of the lands with the precious metal.
The insanely deadly flora and fauna gives the Island shades of Australia, the guerilla war in the jungle resembles Vietnam and arms and armor are clearly modeled after Japanese weapons, and yet the island as a whole resembles none of the above. Maraskani are weird, but I like them, and just like Arania it is a shame a lot of the place gets overshadowed by the blighted lands.

Did I forget something? Ah, Dwarves, I always forget Dwarves. Dwarves live (predictably) in several mountain ranges, mostly around the Middle realm. Some live together with humans in cities, although usually in separated quarters. Dwarves are available in the Flavors of Classical Dwarf, painfully cliched Turbodorf, Hobbit and and midget Cyrano de Bergerac.

Dragons are comparatively rare, range from dog-sized Gripedragons, to wingless Cave dragons and to giant Emperor dragons, who are highly intelligent and possess enormous magical skill. A couple Dragons involve themselves in human politics, but most are minding their own business, collecting their hoards.

So, now we know the continent we're supposed to play on. What do we know of the rest of the world?

To the west lies the continent Myranor, known as the Golden land in Aventuria. The Thorwalians and people from the Middle realm (as well as Horasia, the Foundland and large parts of the Al'anfanian Alliance) are actually native to this continent, having immigrated to Aventuria Millenia ago. The god of the seas specifically messes with everybody trying to cross the ocean these days, so the continent mostly exists in as a myth for the current Aventurians.
Myranor is a bit more high-fantasy than aventuria, featuring widespread non-humans, empires of sorcerer Kings and airships.
Fanpro created a gameline for Myranor, but it only met middling success and wasn't continued.

To the south lies Uthuria which is, to be brief, Fantasy-Africa. The Sailing routes aren't closed by divine decree like the western seas are, but sea monsters, underwater volcanoes and a continent-sized patch of closely packed algae made the trip all but impossible for millenia. Recently, some explorers made it back and brought back maps that allowed other ships to travel there (read: Adventure paths/sourcebooks have been published) and since I am currently starting to play in a campaign that's focused on exploring the continent, I can't actually tell you all that much about it.
Instead I'm going to complain about publishing model of spreading the setting book over the campaign books which seems to me like pushing the campaing on the players instead of just handing them the setting and letting them run wild.
Unless I am surprised by the ending of the the campaign I am probably going to have some unkind words about the campaign (and possibly the setting) down the line.

To the east lies the Giant's land which actually has a land bridge in the northeast of Aventuria, but it and all possible landing points for ships are blocked by the Brazen sword (Brazen, really? Does that make sense in english?), a mountain range reaching 33.000 feet above sea level.
There has been no official release, but all glimpses we've seen paint the land as Conan-y sword and sorcery. It's just that everything is bigger over there.

There are actually seven distinct Planes in the setting, but given that all others are places like the divine Castle Alveran, the stars above the world and the Netherhells, the characters probably won't hang around there. They are going to travel to the limbo (Etheric space between the planes) at most.

Placed in the Limbo are Globules, little pockets of liveable space that range from a few square meters of an Archmages personal retreat to Zze Tha, the remnant of the Lizard-Empire that decided to nope out of existence via a greater ritual when their Dragon Emperor got killed. It's more or less the size of the desert Khom, seeing as the desert got created when the lizards took all of the plants (and the weather, apparently?) with them when they left.
The fairy realms are their own distinct places that count as Globules as well.

Next: Magic and Religion


Culture Corner

We start of with Garetia. Rather than having the character hail from the Empires central province, as the name would imply, this is the culture shared by all inhabitants of the Middle Realms cities, encompassing both the central as well as the northern lands. The text points that out and admits a better name would be "Cities of the Middle Realm" which is the name the culture has been given in the 4.1 Rules. I guess it's good the writers named the culture appropiately eventually, but why not in the first place if you're putting that little admission right after the title...?

The culture is still a generic pastiche of medieval cities, but the text puts some effort in giving the reader a feel for the life in the city, making distinctions of the life between craftsmen, beggars and criminals and rich ne'er-do-wells.

I'll take the genericness as an excuse to list the subcategories of trivia each culture has. Those being: Place (The cities of the middle realm) Lifestyle (said tidbits about different milieus) Outlook and Faith (Generic Middle-Agers believing in the twelve gods, more cosmopolitan than rural people) Habits and Traditions (Very different. Buy the regional sourcebooks!) Clothing and Arms (Shirts, Tunics and Cloaks. Knows the basics of Polearms and Crossbow from Milita training) Roleplaying tips (However you like, but you know 'your' city), Language (Garethi, which is basically German. This subcategory also lists uncommon naming conventions outside the ones typical for the language) and Sources (lists the salient 3rd Edition Sourcebooks at this point)

Mechanically you get the cost in Generation Points (0! If your Character concept isn't married to a specific place, you're from here, I guess), Limits to Social Status and additional Stat Bonuses, Automatic, suggested and unfitting dis/-advantages and which professions can be found in this culture, followed by the cultures skill points. None of those are very exciting for Garetians – the skills are mostly inoffensive fluff skills, none above +2, but you get a smattering of a foreign language.
After the main stats comes a list of variants, in case it's really important for your character sheet to say you're from a coastal town. Those cost additional GP and gives some extra skill points, but Garetian Variants are incredibly pricey for the few +1 Skills they give.

Garetian Variants are: Harbor Cities, Religious centers, Colonial towns of the northern Regions. More interesting is the Noble Variant, which gives you the Nobility advantage for half price.
You can combine Variants unless specified.

Profession Parade

We begin with Combat professions

Although technically, every woman living on an amazon castle counts as an Amazon, only the ones that get their warrior training are the real deal. They don't just fight as light cavalry, every part of their training and combat is a holy service to the goddess Rondra at the same time, so they also put stock in looking awesome both in formation and in single combat. That's also why they wear their embarrassingly low-cut armor.
The text points out the amazons sometimes pick up a girl from outside of their castle and train her as a warrior, if she is badass enough.

Amazons cost a medium 13 GP, can only be women (obviously) and get the awesome Academic training (warrior), but always live by a Code of honor. They get good skills for cavalry charges and one-handed blades, some basic combat and Physical skills and a disappointingly low riding skill (probably to be used in tandem with the amazon culture). Otherwise there a very few skills in the other categories, but they get a decent all-rounder selection of feats (both automatic and discounted) as well as the most important feats for mounted combat.
They get their unique Amazon armor and saber among their Equipment.

Spell selection

Abvenenum purified food is a neat little utility spell, making rotten food edible again as well as purifying it from potential poison and diseases. The elvish version removes all alcohol from the drinks.

Accuratum Magic needle allows the wizard to change the color and cut of a piece of clothing in mere minutes. There are modifications for creating a piece of cloth from raw materials or changing the fabric.

Adamantium stone-like structure turns an object "almost indestructable" but has it become "incredible brittle" once the magic ends. Rules wise, it triples hardness and Structure HP but halves them afterward, so depending on the object it might now work quite as advertised.
The standard spell allows only for enchanting a few pounds of matter, but a variant exists to apply it to entire walls.
Other variants turns an expendable weapon in a short lived magic one, turns the object to shiny crystal or making the spell permanent.

Moldless Bread fucked around with this message at 21:42 on Dec 13, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

JcDent posted:

I scream, you scream, we all scream for a Buck Rodgers release with a good modern ruleset.
It needs tweaking, but it wouldn't be very hard to adapt everything into one of the more accessible OSR rulesets. I'd probably look at Labyrinth Lord and Other Dust first.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 20:46 on Nov 15, 2019

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Moldless Bread posted:

To the east lies the Giant's land which actually has a land bridge in the northeast of Aventuria, but it and all possible landing points for ships are blocked by the Brazen sword (Brazen, really? Does that make sense in english?)

Sure, why wouldn't it? "Brazen" just means made of brass. Admittedly, nowadays it's probably more widely used in a metaphorical sense to mean "shameless" (how brass in particular got metaphorically associated with shamelessness I'm not sure, but eh), but literally it just means made of brass, and swords can be made of brass, so, sure, this seems to me like a perfectly reasonable name. Much more so than a god named "Huge", anyway.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


Given that Night10194's posts in this and the previous F&F thread account for at least 95% of my WHFRP knowledge, it felt only appropriate to posts this here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-9-bQ3JoWY

The long-awaited "If the Emperor had a Text-To-Speech Device" Fantasy Roleplay episode.

Needless to say, said Night10194 thread posting is the only reason I wasn't completely lost in the mechanics and class/setting references therein.

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Forbidden Lands: Part 2

Finally, I can talk about something substantial! Only took 2 chapters but hey, why ever break the RPG tradition of putting the important work of character creation before knowing what your character can do?

Skills

There are a grand total of 16 skills in this game, four for each attribute: Might rules over brawny stuff, Agility gets the dexterous stuff, Wits owns smart stuff, and Empathy controls talky stuff. Skills combine with their governing attributes (or not at all if you have no ranks in a skill) to create a pool of d6s, along with gear dice and special "artifact" dice that show up due to talents and special equipment. A 6 (or higher, if artifact dice come into play) is a success, and 1s are called banes. One success is usually all you need to do what you need to succeed, with 0 sixes showing up causing a failure of some kind that progresses the story but causes you a setback. Banes are normally inert, but come into play when you push your dice.

If you decide that your roll is unsatisfactory, whether due to it failing or not getting enough successes on something like an opposed roll or an attack roll, you can push it to reroll all the dice that didn't come up with a 1 or a 6 for another go. However, each 1 you get on an attribute dice or a gear dice this time causes you damage in some way; on attribute dice, you take damage to that attribute equal to the 1s on them, and for gear dice, your equipment loses a dice of gear bonus. If your gear hits 0 bonus dice, it breaks and has to be repaired before it can be used again, and hitting 0 in an attribute causes you to be Broken, with each attribute having a unique result for what happens when you're broken. Generally speaking, the consequences for being Broken in Strength and Wits are far more severe than Empathy and Agility. Skill dice and artifact dice, usefully enough, don't suffer any negative effects from 1s, so they're very valuable. Artifact dice can go from d8s to d12s, with 8-9 giving two successes, 10-11 giving three, and 12 giving a whopping four successes. You can only push once (unless you're a Dwarf!), and if you fail, that's it; no more retries. As a consolation prize for getting 1s on your attribute dice, you get Willpower, which is very important as it powers your kin and profession talents. You can only get Willpower outside of pushing from resting in your stronghold, and each player gets 10. The GM gets Willpower of their own for NPC use equal to how much all the other players have when a session starts.

When it comes to doing something as a group, the group selects the person best suited to the task to take the lead. Their allies can assist (this adds +1 skill dice per assist, for a max of 3), but it's up to the rogue to land the Stealth roll to sneak past the orc patrol. Other conditions can modify the amount of dice, such as heavy wind speed affecting a Marksmanship roll or a NPC's favorable disposition adding to a Manipulation roll. If you somehow wind up with a negative modifier greater than your skill dice, you roll negative dice that subtract successes when they roll 6s.On opposed rolls (such as the ever common Scouting vs Stealth rolls that will come up quite a bit in this game), the winner is whoever gets the most sixes. NPCs largely use skills the same way PCs do, but it's specifically said that the GM should not give a single poo poo about rolling dice when the NPCs are doing stuff that doesn't directly affect the PCs, which is blessed advice that all games should give.

The skills are pretty standard stuff that you'd see in a D&D-like, and I already listed them all in the previous part, so no need to retread ground I've already covered. I will make a few notes, however. The Hunter is probably the most must-have class in general due to having all the skills you want and need in Stealth, Scouting, and Survival. Combat is dangerous and easy to lose in, especially since pushing can damage you and put you into a bad spot if you roll a couple 1s on equipment or attribute dice, so you always want to pick your fights, which Stealth and Scouting enables you to do through setting up ambushes and spotting enemies before they can do the same to you. Survival is absolutely necessary to navigate the hex map and keep your adventuring party fed, watered, and out of dangerous terrain; it has the most functions of a skill in the entire game, bar none. Of additional note is that healing is actually split between Healing and Performance; Healing can only restore Strength and Agility points, while Performance gives back Wits and Empathy, so the Minstrel of all people is a pretty solid healer who doesn't need to spend Willpower to heal everything unlike the Druid.

I have mixed feelings about pushing, which is the main draw that sets it apart from other fantasy RPGs. I think that in out of combat situations, it's perfect. If a player really needs a victory, they usually have to exhaust themselves to do it, and the fact that all the good powers are tied to it through the Willpower system means that they have to engage with it if they want to cast spells or use their really great combat abilities. The downsides, however, show up in combat. While it's easy enough to come on replacements for commonly broken gear like like swords and shields, it really *really* sucks to Break yourself in a fight, especially for Strength and Wits, due to the fact that they inflict severe injuries to your body and mind. Most of these injuries are, thankfully, not permanent by default and can be fixed by the party healer, but it does suck to eat poo poo when you try to go for broke because you accidentally rolled 3 1s on all your attribute dice and can discourage players from trying it at all in dangerous situations. I feel like one should really try to stress to one's player if they run this game that Forbidden Lands, despite it having a lot of the trappings of the OSR movement, does advise that you *not* murder your players, so that they feel more comfortable taking risks with pushing. There's even a roadblock for all sentient characters that makes it harder for them to kill a character after they've been beaten down, but we'll talk about that later in Combat.

Talents

Talents are divided into three categories, although I'll further divide the last one into my own subcategories for ease of use. Kin Talents are unique to each Kin, naturally, and don't have ranks like the other talents. I like how this game makes races distinct from one another in a way that isn't as ham-fisted as D&D-style "THIS RACE IS FOR PALADINS AND FIGHTERS, THEY GET BONUSES TO FIGHTING STUFF", especially since your profession always has its most important attribute as a key attribute. Orc sorcerers, rejoice, for Fria Ligan loves you! They are, as follows:

-Humans have Adaptive. They can spend a Willpower to use a completely different skill for a check to get a result. GM has final say, but if you want to use Melee to go hunting or Manipulation to heal, humans are your go-to.
-Elves have Inner Peace, which lets them spend a period of time resting to heal all damage and critical injuries for a single Willpower. If my initial read of "all critical injuries" includes stuff like lost limbs or permanent personality alteration from losing your mind, then this is pretty powerful, but it's still pretty good even if it doesn't.
-Half-Elves get Psychic Power. When they spend Willpower on a talent that lets them spend more than 1, the first one counts as two for the purposes of any calculations. This is pretty good for magic (but also increases the chance of it backfiring), but this works with any other talent that does so, although most professions only get abilities that do that at later ranks, so it really encourages you to be a caster.
-Dwarves have True Grit, which lets them push again and again and again, one per Willpower. Probably best not to let players who have bad risk analysis skills play a dwarf, unless you think it's pretty funny to see them gamble their way into unconsciousness.
-Halflings have Hard to Catch, which lets them spend Willpower to remove successes on attack rolls made against them one for one. This oddly makes halflings really good fighters. Reminds me of Pillars of Eternity, where the best paladins and fighter builds usually used the small hobbit-like race since they got dodge bonuses.
-Wolfkin get Hunting Instincts. They can spend Willpower to pick out a scent of a creature or kin and track it, one per day they wish to track. In combat, they get +1 skill dice to all attacks made against prey until they either Break them or let them go.
-Orcs are Unbreakable, meaning they can spend Willpower when Broken to immediately get back up and go at it, regaining exactly one point in the stat that was Broken. This doesn't negate critical injuries, but still, it's probably very frightening to see an orc with a broken leg get right back up to try and kill you.
-Goblins are Sneaky. They can spend Willpower to get one automatic success per WP spent on Stealth rolls, even after a roll has been made. One wonders if Goblins even need to buy Stealth at all with such a wacky talent, it's pretty good.

Profession Talents are unique to each Profession, and are the other main mechanic that Willpower is spent upon. They have three ranks, and are mostly pretty useful save for the poor Rider's.

-Druids get the Paths of Healing, Shapeshifting, and Awareness. Since casting rules are all the way in the back, I will summarize by saying that healing does exactly what you think it does, shapeshifting gives you a grab-bag of stuff like talking to animals and getting the eyes of an eagle for a brief moment, and Awareness enhances natural senses and gives things like Telepathy.
-Fighters get multi-attacks and extra damage through Path of the Blade, can predict enemy attacks with Path of the Enemy, and help tank blows for the team with Path of the Shield.
-Hunters have Path of the Arrow (which is the exact same as Path of the Blade but with a bow), Path of the Beast (you get a pet to scout and fight for you), and Path of the Forest (can survive even harder in the wilderness).
-Minstrels have Path of the Hymn for combat healing, Path of the Song to make people like their performances better (and also get a sonic scream attack at rank 3, because why not), and Path of the Warcry to give combat buffs.
-Peddlers use Path of Gold (increases their ability to sell poo poo and find gold, and at rank 3 you can just spend WP to get gold coins), Path of Lies (they lie and detect lies good), and Path of Many Things, which is pretty unique. You get a Heavy sack that you can pull an item on demand out of, the more WP meaning the more expensive the item can be. Losing it somehow means you gotta pay money and visit a market to replenish it.
-Rider talents all deal with horses, which means they're absolutely hosed in situations where the horse isn't around. Path of the Companion makes the horse a combat pet and healer, Path of the Knight makes you better at horse combat, and Path of the Plains lets you go fast on a horse. Again, I question the value of a horse guy in a game about dungeoneering.
-The Rogue has Path of Faces for disguises and Path of Poison to pull out any poison on demand. Path of the Killer starts off with the familiar backstab bonus, evolves into being able to escape restraints instantly and squeeze through spaces only inches thick, and ends with you being able to, I swear to god, hypnotize people into doing your bidding if you talk to them.
-Sorcerers get four talents rather than 3, the cheating bastards. Path of Blood is blood magic, Path of Death is necromancy, Path of Symbols is rune magic, and Path of Stone is a good dwarven tradition all about doing stuff with rocks and dirt. Needless to say, everyone will hate you if you use those first two.

General Talents are last, and are too many to describe each individually. They're all in a big alphabetical list, but they fall into roughly three categories that I can tell. Combat is the most frequent, with one for each general weapon type and talents for things like dodging, moving, and so on. Weapon-based talents are all the same, with a +1 to skill dice to start and add a d8 artifact dice to end with, but rank 2 all differ; spears, for instance, get to automatically stab at anyone who enters close range with you, axes can deal critical wounds without breaking someone, and swords can attack two people at once. Crafting talents are stuff like tailoring, architecture (very important for strongholds unless you like paying lots of money to NPCs), smithing, and so on. Utility talents boost a certain task within a skill such as setting up camp for Survival, lockpicking for Sleight of Hand, and so on. They're generally very boring, and all will add a d8 at rank 3. You're probably better off not getting dumb poo poo like "can fish really good", and will have to decide whether you prefer spending XP on crafting stuff or just spending money on NPCs to do that stuff for you. I really wish you had separate XP pools for the utility/crafting stuff and the combat stuff, I always hate having to gimp myself in a fight if I want to, say, make a character who knows how to craft a sword in a RPG

Next time, we look at combat, which is pretty fun and ties all this junk together.

SunAndSpring fucked around with this message at 10:24 on Nov 16, 2019

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


To be honest, I prefer Coriolis's particular brand of pushing your roll-- you can do it once per roll, no Willpower expenditure required (you don't have those points in that game anyway.) This can be on any roll, from trying to free-climb a rock wall to firing a gauss pistol at slavers to trying to restart your starship's engine in a hurry.

The drawback? The GM gets a Darkness Point for each push. If pushing a roll is described in-universe as the Icons (nine figures worshiped as deities in the star cluster Coriolis takes place in) directly intervening on your character's behalf, the Darkness Point is the Dark Beyond the Stars attempting to balance that. These points get spent on anything from "You pull the trigger and hear a dry *click,* you're out of ammo," to "Hey, that flaw in your spaceship? It's coming up at THE WORST possible time!"

Then again, Coriolis uses a slightly stripped down version of the Year Zero Engine compared to Forbidden Lands.

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SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Snorb posted:

To be honest, I prefer Coriolis's particular brand of pushing your roll-- you can do it once per roll, no Willpower expenditure required (you don't have those points in that game anyway.) This can be on any roll, from trying to free-climb a rock wall to firing a gauss pistol at slavers to trying to restart your starship's engine in a hurry.

The drawback? The GM gets a Darkness Point for each push. If pushing a roll is described in-universe as the Icons (nine figures worshiped as deities in the star cluster Coriolis takes place in) directly intervening on your character's behalf, the Darkness Point is the Dark Beyond the Stars attempting to balance that. These points get spent on anything from "You pull the trigger and hear a dry *click,* you're out of ammo," to "Hey, that flaw in your spaceship? It's coming up at THE WORST possible time!"

Then again, Coriolis uses a slightly stripped down version of the Year Zero Engine compared to Forbidden Lands.

Don't think Forbidden Lands asks for WP expenditure on pushing either (save for if you're a dwarf because that's your gimmick). Coriolis is pretty cool though, I'd like to give it a shot after this.

Anyway, think I might just edit in a few illustrations in the previous entries and go back, but they're not super flashy. It's mostly just old black and white fantasy art. There have, however, been two big negatives for me in the art. One is that there was a Kolovrat symbol on the page describing the Sorcerer's talents, which is basically this:


It's a neopagan thing to start with that's supposed to represent the sun and its god, Svarog, but got big in neo-Nazi circles in Slavic areas because, well, it looks like a swastika. I hang out a lot in the thread about tracking/mocking the alt-right in CSPAM, and I've seen it pop up a few times in pics of Polish white nationalist poo poo. Really odd to see it in a book by Swedes, wonder if they didn't know and just thought "oh cool rune!" but honestly I'd avoid anything that even vaguely resembles the swastika.

The other thing is far less defensible. There's characters that show up frequently in the art that serve as examples of the profession. The peddler shows up the least because, well, what the gently caress can a peddler do except buy stuff? The first time is in the profession descriptions and is as such:


Looks fine, kinda looks like a baker honestly but a baker can be a peddler too. The second time, however, veers into anti-Semitism.



His hat has now turned into a yarmulke, he's got a big crooked nose and curly hair, and he's just so evilly happy to have that big ol' gem there. All I can say is "what the gently caress".

This made me concerned since I was like "oh gently caress am I reviewing a MYFAROG type thing by accident, oh god" and I had to do a search through the rest of the book for any other sketchy poo poo, and thankfully I didn't, but holy poo poo. Fria Ligan hasn't done anything like this to my knowledge in other books and I figure a company that made a book that's Firefly but the Middle East is the big space culture, not China/America, is probably not racist since the average Nazi this day cannot stand anything to do with that region, so maybe it's just the particular artist they chose for this, but I'm in awe that the latter illustration got printed.

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