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

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Locked thread
ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Plague of Hats posted:

MIDDLE-EARTH ROLE PLAYING

I played a one-shot of The One Ring this last Friday. It was much simpler.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




ThisIsNoZaku posted:

I played a one-shot of The One Ring this last Friday. It was much simpler.

Most things are!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Chapter 4: Ghul Talk

The ghul chapter opens with references to Lovecraft and Bloch, which is pretty boss. It also has 2 sidebars full of ghul-specific jargon, but the 90s giveth and the 90s taketh away.

References aside, ghuls are not a subhuman species in The Everlasting. They’re humans who received immortality by drinking an alchemical elixir called Anecro. Most of them were ignorant of the raw deal they were getting, no pun intended.


Do you believe I missed this Fallout 2 level on the first playthrough?

The first ghul was an ancient alchemist and utter douchebag named Azazel. He thought he stole the secret of immortality from demons, but they punked him, and the elixir he made turned him into a ghul. Azazel was so bitter that he deliberately seeded occult texts with lies and the formula for Anecro, to trick more alchemists into becoming ghouls. He intertwined his formula with the Hermetic lore of the osirians, which really pissed them off, and it’s rumoured that they’re torturing him for eternity.

The pattern of ghuls duping more mortals into drinking Anecro continues to the modern day, so ghul society is still based on fraud and victimization. Anecro itself is an amber liquid that smells like jasmine and tastes like honey, so a hapless ghoul-to-be has every reason to believe it was made by an Indian restaurant and not a corpse-eating wizard. Anecro induces a process called Metastasis, which inflicts slow, agonizing death and turns you into a ghul.

Ghuls must eat human flesh. If they don’t, their bodies rot and their minds degenerate, until they become twisted, mindless beasts. All ghouls smell like corpses, especially their breath. They have enlarged hands, feet, and ears, and their nails become sharp black claws while their teeth gradually fall out and are replaced by big sharp ones. Many are hunchbacked. Their senses become sharper and their bodies, especially their legs, become much more powerful. When ghuls don’t eat enough carrion, rot comes in the form of peeling, blotching, running sores, and a combination of hair loss and unusual hair growth. Ghuls who want to fit in on the surface wear gloves and carry weapons to avoid touching people, and mask their stench with perfume and breath freshener. Subterranean ghuls are filthy motherfuckers who steal clothes from corpses and wear them until they fall off.


Yes, I tried putting ice on it.

About 60% of ghouls are bhutas; typical ghouls. They can remain physically and mentally stable for a long time, but almost all of them degenerate eventually. Faitours are ghouls who received exactly the right dose of Anecro. Their Metastasis is completely internal, so they appear completely human. Faitours excel at tricking humans into becoming ghuls, not telling them that most ghuls aren’t as lucky as the faitours. Grotesqueries are ghuls who took too much Anecro, and are consequently monstrous and deformed as a result. They’re stronger and tougher than other ghuls, with thick rubbery hides and weirdly knotted muscles. Most of them stay in their burrows and feed on buried corpses. Vetala are ghuls who got especially good Anecro, and consider themselves superior to other ghuls. They become taller, stronger, and smarter, but they can only feed on thoroughly rotten meat. Vetala usually either become pack leaders or seclude themselves in study. Last are the mindless ones, ghuls who have degenerated into corpse-eating animals through hunger or consuming a “bad batch” of Anecro. Other ghuls use them as pets, but some become lone hunters. Most are afraid of the surface world, so mindless ghuls killing humans is a rare occurrence.


I’ll put up my Christmas decorations when I loving please.

Ghuls live in a vast realm of underground tunnels called the Catacombs, and they come to the surface world to steal corpses or hunt people for food. When they’re not prowling for food, they spend their time studying what they call the Secret Arts, a mixture of alchemy, Western occultism, and weird science. Ghuls are not spiritual, but they are fixated on death and mortality. No one knows why, but ghuls are fascinated by death and usually have a completely morbid sense of taste. Some ghuls even commit torture and murder or stage accidents for entertainment. Faitours in particular are fond of building houses on the surface world which are chambers of horrors, full of hidden passageways and traps. They kidnap mortals and use drugs and magick to turn them into crazed, deformed, obedient slaves. Then they kidnap more hapless humans, setting them loose in a house-of-horrors full of gimp slaves.

One of ghuls’ Secret Arts is skincrafting, which allows them to take on a human’s appearance by wearing their skin like a suit. It doesn’t solve the problem of their repulsive stench and breath, but their body does reshape itself to fit the skin, and ghuls are masters of voice mimicry. They can still be given away by their eye color, or by the grossly-stitched seam running down their back.

Few ghuls live more than a few centuries before dying the True Death, usually by degenerating into mindlessness and being eaten by fellow ghuls. When a ghul is truly dead, their Quickening Reverie makes itself known in the form of swarms of rats and insects. Non-ghul witnesses have to make an Inspiration check; success mean free points in mystical skills along with free points in a Dementia trait!

Ghuls must consume about 10 pounds of flesh every day. Technically, they can subsist on a diet of raw animal meat, but it tastes horrible. They can’t stomach any other food besides water, blood, and embalming fluid. Ghul senses are generally enhanced, but with a number of peculiarities. Not only do they have thermal vision, they can navigate in complete darkness by their own body heat. They can hear like a dog, have an innate sense of direction, and can estimate the lifespan of mortals just by looking them over.

Ghuls suffer Degeneration when their hunger gets the better of them, drowning out their own thoughts. In game terms, they become incredibly hungry when they have 3 or less animus, and have to make rolls not to attack the closest living thing for food. If it drops to zero, they gain a point of Degeneration. Whenever they gain a point of degeneration, Faitour gain 2 points in a Dementia quality while other ghuls gain a monstrous physical feature, ranging from things like peeling skin and festering boils to things like growing extra digits, twisted limbs, or horns and hooves.


If I only had some brains…

Ghulish culture, such as it is, consists of colonies of a few dozen ghuls, divided into packs with a few members each. Packs are lead by the toughest ghuls, and they basically put up gang signs to mark out their territory--every ghul wants a den with emergency exits, proximity to graves, sewer access, and secret caches for storing food. The most significant cultural touchstone for ghuls is the Grimoire of Abraxas, a combination Ghul Bible and Being A Ghul for Dummies. It contains origin stories, wisdom supposedly passed down from Azazel, the basics of ghulish alchemy, and a guide to the Underworld. It also contains five ghul laws: do not create more than one ghul per year or have more than three “children” living at the same time, do not directly harm the living, do not live on the surface, protect your own kind, and only the strongest ghuls may lead. Only the last one matters.

The history of the Catacombs begins in the early Roman empire, when ghuls dug hundreds of miles of catacombs near the roads outside the city. They struck a deal with mortal politicians to protect Rome in exchange for Christians and Jews being buried in the catacombs for the ghuls to harvest. The Catacombs are now so old and so extensive that they criss-cross entire continents. In fact, part of the reason that ghuls are not spiritual is that the Underworld is a place they can physically walk into, simply by delving deep enough. Below the Catacombs is the “Deep Below,” a dangerous realm full of things that don’t like ghuls.


I’d like to diversify my holdings. Specifically, the women locked in my cellar.

Closer to the Underworld, the setting suddenly becomes Tim Burton’s Dungeons & Dragons. Beyond the Deep Below is the labyrinth-city of the Iblis, a mysterious race of pseudo-ghuls who control access to the Underworld. They have coal black skin, big eyes, pointy ears, short skinny builds, black clothes, a slave labor force of all kinds of monsters, lots of magick, and an underground kingdom of their own. Sound familiar?

The iblis demand a silver dollar for each soul passing in or out of the Underworld. There is an untouchable caste of ghuls called ghaddars who do business with the iblis and the dead souls of the Underworld. They kidnap mortals and sell them to the iblis or to revenants looking for a host body. They bring in guns and ammunition and bring out magical metals and materials harvested from the bodies of Underworld monsters. Some ghuls like the Underworld so much they decide to stay there, which is pretty awesome, actually. Ghuls can eat ghost food, live in ghost castles, fight ghost monsters, work for ghost governments, gently caress ghost whores, marry ghost brides, and adopt ghost kids. It’s so great I don’t know why all the cool ghuls don’t move there right now.

The vast majority of ghuls have little or no contact with other eldritch besides ghosts. They’re indifferent or disdainful towards most of the fantastical or heavenly races like angels, questers, elves, and dragons, and don’t particularly care for other undead, either. They’re mostly interested in other subterranean races, like dwarves and orcs.


Let’s see, Saturday: Youth group breakfast, Iron Maiden cover shoot, spin class…

Ghulish magick isn’t covered here, but along with a rehash of ghul character creation, we do get a list of Nekrosia (innate powers) for ghul characters to buy.

Eyes of the Dead: By eating a corpse’s eyes, you can see what they saw in their last few minutes of life.
Ghastly Quickness: Permanently increases Dexterity.
Hand of Death: You can kill mortals with a touch.
Hidey Hole: You can sense the best hiding place nearby, and hide supernaturally well.
Horrid Potence: Permanently increases Strength.
Lifescent: You can “smell” the auras of living things and “read” something about their personality.
Meat Hooks: Your claws become long, hooked daggers.
Quickdig: You can burrow fast enough to travel 5 yards per turn.
Rat Master, Roach King: You can summon hordes of rats or roaches. They don’t do much damage, but they’re hard to kill.
Rubbery Hide: You gain permanent armor, but your skin becomes a hide with welts and blotches.
Slip Away: You simply vanish from attempts to guard or pursue you.
Vomitory Attack: You attack people with acid vomit made of liquid corpses.

The chapter wraps up with some scant advice on roleplaying ghuls. The game admits that by and large, ghuls are filthy, depraved, disgusting creatures with few redeeming qualities, and that any ghul PC will have to be an exceptional case. On the other hand, ghuls are the only undead who don’t have to hurt people to feed, and they’re the only eldritch who can cross back and forth between the mortal realm and the Underworld. Some suggested stories for ghul characters are trying to become human again, finding Azazel, or having completely Underworld-focused adventures. I don’t think they thought this through.

Let me end this chapter by complaining about how difficult it was to summarize. There’s no legendmaking bullshit, but the organization is terrible. I now realize that they put big glossaries at the beginning of every chapter so that you’ll understand what the book is discussing as it drifts from topic to topic. The bridge between a section on ghulish culture and the history of the Catacombs is broken up by a page on magick. Once the sidebar is done with glossary terms, it just keeps going with setting information, so half the chapter is now in running sidebars for no good reason. I finally settled on summarizing the info page-by-page, then cut-and-pasting paragraphs and trimming redundancies. Let’s hope the layout guy--sorry, illumination administer--was awake and sober for the next chapter.

Next time, on The Everlasting: The walking, talking, wrestling, legendmaking dead.

Kemper Boyd
Aug 6, 2007

no kings, no gods, no masters but a comfy chair and no socks


Is it just me or does someone else feel like The Everlasting should be a game about boxing gear?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Kemper Boyd posted:

Is it just me or does someone else feel like The Everlasting should be a game about boxing gear?

I feel that one coulda been a contender.

Edit: VVV rear end in a top hat flesh-eating undead abominations who snooker humans into joining them, at that.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 18:15 on Nov 19, 2013

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

You should think that a game about being a flesh-eating undead abomination that trafficks with ghosts would be interesting, but somehow it isn't.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Halloween Jack posted:

Ghuls must consume about 10 pounds of flesh every day. Technically, they can subsist on a diet of raw animal meat, but it tastes horrible. They can’t stomach any other food besides water, blood, and embalming fluid.

That whole "10 pounds of human flesh a day" is puzzling, given normal people generally only eat about 3-5 pounds of food a day. In addition, it requires them to at least murder around 30-40 people a year or more per ghoul. A group of 5-7 ghouls would double the murder rate of a city like Baltimore or New Orleans, if they're not being benevolent enough to raid butchers and supermarkets.

Halloween Jack posted:

Ghul senses are generally enhanced, but with a number of peculiarities. Not only do they have thermal vision, they can navigate in complete darkness by their own body heat.

But that's not how heat works-

Majuju
Dec 30, 2006

I had a beer with Stephen Miller once and now I like him.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

But that's not how heat works-

Maybe it's like echolocation in bats - they can see heat fields and by adjusting their own body position, they can see hyper-minute resonance in the air as their body heat propagates???

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Alien Rope Burn posted:

That whole "10 pounds of human flesh a day" is puzzling, given normal people generally only eat about 3-5 pounds of food a day. In addition, it requires them to at least murder around 30-40 people a year or more per ghoul. A group of 5-7 ghouls would double the murder rate of a city like Baltimore or New Orleans, if they're not being benevolent enough to raid butchers and supermarkets.

What supermarkets or butchers do you visit that sell human flesh?

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Aldi. (I'm pretty sure he's talking about that throwaway sentence where ghouls can eat animal meat but don't like it.)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


MadScientistWorking posted:

What supermarkets or butchers do you visit that sell human flesh?

Piggly-Wiggl- whoahhoho, nevermind that!

What I meant is them raiding it for animal meat as mentioned in the quote.

PleasingFungus
Oct 10, 2012

in my pope game,


Halloween Jack posted:

References aside, ghuls are not a subhuman species in The Everlasting. They’re humans who received immortality by drinking an alchemical elixir called Anecro. Most of them were ignorant of the raw deal they were getting, no pun intended.

...

The pattern of ghuls duping more mortals into drinking Anecro continues to the modern day, so ghul society is still based on fraud and victimization.

...

Faitours are ghouls who received exactly the right dose of Anecro. Their Metastasis is completely internal, so they appear completely human. Faitours excel at tricking humans into becoming ghuls, not telling them that most ghuls aren’t as lucky as the faitours.

...

Ghulish culture, such as it is, consists of colonies of a few dozen ghuls, divided into packs with a few members each. Packs are lead by the toughest ghuls, and they basically put up gang signs to mark out their territory--every ghul wants a den with emergency exits, proximity to graves, sewer access, and secret caches for storing food. The most significant cultural touchstone for ghuls is the Grimoire of Abraxas, a combination Ghul Bible and Being A Ghul for Dummies. It contains origin stories, wisdom supposedly passed down from Azazel, the basics of ghulish alchemy, and a guide to the Underworld. It also contains five ghul laws: do not create more than one ghul per year or have more than three “children” living at the same time, do not directly harm the living, do not live on the surface, protect your own kind, and only the strongest ghuls may lead. Only the last one matters.

So, uh.

Is there actually any reason for ghuls to trick other people into becoming new ghuls, besides senseless sadism?

I mean, they degenerate over time, so it's not like vampires, where the older ones are stronger. All that creating new ghuls does is create more, fresher competition for meat & leadership.

Did the developers think this out at all?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Piggly-Wiggl- whoahhoho, nevermind that!

What I meant is them raiding it for animal meat as mentioned in the quote.

My guess is that the funeral industry is a massive conspiracy that bleeds ghouls of their funds in exchange for corpses to eat, to keep them quiet and weak so normal people can go about running the world.

INH5
Dec 17, 2012
Error: file not found.

Halloween Jack posted:

Ghul senses are generally enhanced, but with a number of peculiarities. Not only do they have thermal vision, they can navigate in complete darkness by their own body heat.

I read in a discussion of AD&D's Infravision a while back that it would be impossible for a warm blooded creature to see in the infrared spectrum, as it would be blinded by its own body heat. It would be like trying to look at something while a lightbulb is next to your eyes. Hence why in real life, animals with infrared senses, like snakes, tend to be cold blooded.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

INH5 posted:

I read in a discussion of AD&D's Infravision a while back that it would be impossible for a warm blooded creature to see in the infrared spectrum, as it would be blinded by its own body heat. It would be like trying to look at something while a lightbulb is next to your eyes. Hence why in real life, animals with infrared senses, like snakes, tend to be cold blooded.

Thermal gradients vision or thermal detection (Pit Viper style), yes you would have issues . Seeing in the IR spectrum, no. You just need an IR emitter to go with the vision.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I Forgot To Hail King Torg


Ettin posted:

Sure, I'm still picking up the series when I have some free time though!
Gasp! Senpai noticed me! Guess that means I should get back to

Racial Insecurity [Fetch]: Part II: The Entire Rest of the "Book"

First things first: There's no "If you downloaded this book..." sidebar!

Okay, starting off for real. After the intro fiction, we get a page and change of fluff about what a Fetch is; the money quotes are "like pet monkeys" and "like a permanent five-year old". Superior Fetches, which I forgot existed until now, are instead "like a[sic] permanent teenagers, with the mood swings and cruelty that often go with those years."

The physiology section is where things get interesting:

Fetch Physiology posted:

While they may identify as "he" or "she", they don't actually have the sexual characteristics to support either ... as such, they cannot be influenced in any manner that requires sexuality. This includes the seduction abilities of any creature, whether they be magical or not.
OH HELL YES playing as a Fetch comes with an inherent "get out of the ST's creepy wank fantasies free" card? Sign me up!

The "book" goes on to reiterate that Fetches are pretty much little humaniform balls of otherworldly energy, so of course they can't be Tagers/Engel pilots/para-psychics/anything else that would ruin our precious canon. Instead, it suggests that Fetch PCs pursue that great path to power in Cthulhutech that is Sorcery. Then it points out the "Fetch sorcerers may enjoy the ability to summon more of their own kind" and oh boy I don't see that going anywhere other than the ST flipping a table and storming off.

Anyway. Rules! It recommends Fetch PCs be restricted to Arcane Underground or Eldritch Society games, because of course a tiny magical gremlin is balanced alongside a Guyver suit. You are also told to decide if your Fetch is bound to a particular sorcerer or not - of course, being Unbound is presented a page later as an Asset you have to spend points on during character creation, but why bother with those details here?

Playing a Fetch is both a racial template and an Asset; you can either take standard Fetch for 1 point or go Superior Fetch for 2 points. What does paying the same price as being double-joined or being friends with a couple mid-level bureaucrats get you? Well, that varies by subtype.

Regular Fetches posted:

Fanged Dwarf: +1 Agility, +1 Strength, Nightvision, Thermal Vision, 3x Climbing Speed
Carnivorous Amphibian: +2 Agility, -1 Strength, Acute Vision, Nightvision, 2x Swim Speed, Amphibious (duh)
Flying Imp: +2 Agility, -1 Strength, Acute Vision, Nightvision, 2x Flying Speed

Superior Fetches posted:

Vicious Gremlin: +2 Strength, +1 Perception, +1 Tenacity, Acute Smell/Taste, Nightvision, Thermal Vision, 3x Climb Speed
Amphibious Monster: +2 Agility, +1 Tenacity, Acute Hearing, Nightvision, Sonar, 2x Swim Speed, Amphibious
Gargoyle-Like: +2 Agility, +1 Tenacity, Acute Vision, Nightvision, 2x Flying Speed
A reminder: every one of those "special senses" is normally a 2-point Asset, except Nightvision (which is 3). Latent Psychic Ability - which as a reminder does absolutely nothing - is a 4-point Asset. Game balance!

Fetches have a big ol' list of Assets and Drawbacks they aren't allowed to take, and Alluring/Sexy Voice only apply to other Fetches (despite them being asexual and immune to seduction ).

And, just because, Fetches also get a free point in the Occult skill and can bump it to 4 during chargen (Superior Fetches get 2 points and can bump to 5), 4 free ranks in R'lyehan, 4 free ranks in Tsath-yo, and 4 free ranks in four other languages. Also free natural weapons of pointy teeth (+0/+1) and claws (-1/+0), double Orgone/Ruach (just like having a bad case of tentacle cock), and Fear Factor 12.

Game balance!

Next up is the Asset section, most of which I've covered already. The only one left is the 4-point "Re-Summonable" Asset; if you take this, it means that you've taught the rest of the party and/or some other sorcerers the specific parts to add to the "Summon Fetch" ritual to bring you back from the outer realms if you get killed in the Real World. So, for 4 points - the same as being a basic Tager or Latent Para-Psychic - your character is a literally immortal magical gremlin. Again, sign me the gently caress up.

Now, at this point I was starting to wonder: if Fetch PCs are supposed to be a thing, how are they expected to get through all the NEG checkpoints and vital scans and such? I mean, they're otherworldly monsters summoned by illegal magic, their very existence is illegal. Maybe that's why the "book" has been pushing Fetches toward sorcery - they'll have some kind of disguise spell, or artifact?

Hahaha NOPE.

Playing Fetches posted:

One of the most important parts of playing a fetch is figuring out how to disguise yourself, so that you can maneuver in "polite society."

Playing Fetches posted:

Learning to say, "That's my dad, right over there," can work wonders when hidden in the folds of a hoodie.

Speaking of, hoodies and baseball caps are a fetches' best friends. They cover and conceal, giving people the opportunity to pretend that all they're seeing are kids or teenagers.
Aaaand now I have the image of some Sableye-looking motherfucker in a trenchcoat and a fedora acting as party Face. I might have to stat that up.

And...that's it. The rest of the "book" is just two pages of example stat-blocks (which I'm pretty sure are reprinted from the Core and Vade Mecum), followed by an ad and four pages of blank white. Definitely glad I paid extra for PoD!

AmiYumi fucked around with this message at 00:42 on Nov 20, 2013

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




PleasingFungus posted:

Is there actually any reason for ghuls to trick other people into becoming new ghuls, besides senseless sadism?

I mean, they degenerate over time, so it's not like vampires, where the older ones are stronger. All that creating new ghuls does is create more, fresher competition for meat & leadership.
Usually, mortal dupes have to pay for their Anecro in whatever way the ghul deems fit; the traditional payment is seven years of service as a mortal. It's implied that once they turn and discover they're not as pretty as the faitour (or skinsuit-wearing bastard) who turned them, the ghul says "Whoops, look like you didn't turn out so well! Tough poo poo, not my fault!" That's what's in the book, but ti doesn't really answer your very good questions.

(One thing I forgot to criticize about this game is the White Wolfy vagueness. Look at the conditional words above and in my review: Most ghuls do this, some do that, many believe such-and-such, some things are "rare" while others are only "rumoured.")

quote:

Did the developers think this out at all?
Naw.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Majuju posted:

I am going to cut it a bit short here, and tackle Feats as a separate post. So those are coming up next!

I'll probably take my Naruto d20 review off hiatus after you do that... or wait until I'm done with my Dungeons: the Dragoning write up. Speaking of which, it's time fore more



PART 3: CHARACTERISTICS AND SKILLS

Take notes kiddies. There'll be a quiz later

Specialties

I've briefly brushed on these before, but it's time for a proper explanation. Every time you raise a Characteristic or Skill to 4, you get to choose something to specialize in. Whenever you make a roll using that Characteristic or Skill and its Specialty would be relevant, you may reroll any 1's that come up.

For example, if our robo-Tau Pepsi was trying to convince someone to embrace the Omnissiah, her Persuasion Specialty in Conversation means she could potentially turn a mediocre roll of 1,1,3,3,4,5 (an 9 with her Keep of 2) into an astonishing 9,9,3,3,4,5 (an 18, double what she had) so long as she talking. However, trying to use funky-fresh dance moves as a recruitment tool like she was in Shin Megami Tensei 2 would leave her stuck with her crummy roll.

Characteristics

Characteristics are your basic talent and potential for accomplishment. There are 9 Characteristics cross-divided New World of Darkness style into Mental, Physical, and Social as well as Power, Finesse, and Resistance. They go from 1 to 5 dots with 2 representing the average. The descriptions of them also come with example Specialties and a short blurb for each Dot explaining what having that means for your character. I'll go through each one touching on the more amusing bits.

Intelligence is your Mental Power, representing memory, imagination, and deductive power. It also covers how many languages you know. You start fluent in your Native language, Trade, and an extra one of your choice per dot you have above 2. It describes 2 dots as "Smart enough to realize you're normal". Since Pepsi has a 5, she's a certified genius who knows how to speak Tau, Trade, Draconic, Binary, and the (not very) universal language of Japanese.

Wisdom is your Mental Finesse, representing alertness and ability to understand things. Useful not only for noticing that assassin's dagger but also realizing it'll hurt if you get stabbed. Pepsi's 2 in this means she sees the big picture but not the little pictures that it's made of.

Willpower is your Mental Resistance, representing your ability to shove when pushed. It has some rather interesting Specialties like "Ambushes" and "Getting the jump on others" that I'm not quite sure how to interpret. Since Pepsi has a 3 here, she is "seldom left surprised or speechless".

Strength is your Physical Power, representing how burly you are. It has hilarious Specialties like "Fists Like Anvils" and "Hurting People". Pepsi really needs to improve this because not only does her puny 1 mean she can barely bench 80 pounds, but if she got up to 5 dots...

Dungeons: the Dragoning posted:

Outstanding: You can lift 650 lbs. and crush skulls like grapes.



Dexterity is your Physical Finesse, representing agility, coordination, and reflexes. It also has some of the more colorful descriptions with 1 dot being "You are clumsy and awkward. Stop tripping over your own feet!" and 5 being "Backflips everywhere, running on walls, being awesome". Pepsi's 3 just means she's graceful, but not awe inspiring.

Constitution is your Physical Resistance, representing healthiness and toughness. Pretty simple. Pepsi's 2 means that what few mortal concerns she still has aren't harrowing, but can still be a nuisance.

Charisma is your Social Power, representing confidence and force of personality. It describes the various dots in terms of how many people you could lead and how well, except for 1 dot which says "Stop picking your nose". Pepsi's 2 means she has an active social life.

Fellowship is your Social Finesse, representing attractiveness and capacity for self-expression. The "Charming Rogue stat. It's even a Specialty! Pepsi's 2 means she's charming if a bit bland.

Lastly, Composure is your Social Resistance, representing your ability to stay calm and carry on. It's distinct from Willpower in that it's all about stability instead of endurance. Pepsi's 3 means she can remain stoic when her fellow adventurers devolve in to quoting Monty Python.

Skills

Skills are your training in various fields. They are split into Basic (which can be used if you have 0 dots in it but at a -1) and Advanced (which you need at least 1 dot to even use). These are also very World of Darkness in that they are also divided into Mental, Physical, and Social, tend to cover general fields of competence, and use Specialties to represent sub fields. This means if you've studied Law you've also studied Cryptology, Heraldry, History, Philosophy, and Psychology. It also covers your basic combat readiness. There are 27 skills in total, so I'll only talk about a few of them.

Athletics is Constitution based.
Ballistics covers marksmanship, but doesn't make you proficient in weapon groups. You still need to buy that with Feats.
Brawl includes Specialties in Karate, Jeet Kun Do, and Solar Hero Style.
Common Lore is knowledge learned through experience instead of book learning. Also, it's an Advanced skill.
Crafts is both making art and repairing simple machines.
Medicae mentions balancing bodily humors.
Tech-Use let's you use and repair complex machines like computers and precursor devices.
Weaponry is like Ballistics in that it doesn't provide proficiency, just competence. Includes Specialties in Axes, Improvised Clubs, and Martial Arts weaponry.

Welp, that's all for now. That chapter was one of the more dull ones, but don't worry, things are going to get very very quickly.

Next time: The first listed race is Spess Merheens

AccidentalHipster fucked around with this message at 03:35 on Nov 20, 2013

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Dragonlance Key of Destiny Adventure Path Book One Chapter Five: Far Less Kender

Elijayess' Stats:



By this time in the Adventure Path, the PCs should be around 5th-6th level, and Elijayess is close by. He's pretty good at sneaking but not so much at spotting hidden danger. He doesn't have Power Attack so he was behind my party's damage-dealers when running this module. He shines the most at ranged combat, where he has a high attack and damage bonus with his composite longbow. Not so good to compete with decently optimized PCs at that level, but not so bad as to be useless in a fight. He's a better deal than Shroud from the Shattered Temple, though!

As he leads the PCs through the mountains, Elijayess and the party come across a small camp and spring.

quote:

"Everything that you have heard about the Desolation is true. As a matter of fact, you probably have not heard the worst. Even with the Red Marauder dead these last six months, the Desolation has not changed. The mountains still spew their bile, the earth shakes in pain... it's a tortured land."

Elijayess sighs softly, his gaze turning towards the campfire as he stares into the past. "In a way, it is worse than when the Silvanesti Forest was caught in the grip of Lorac's Nightmare. There was something to fight against, some hope to hold on to... here in the Desolation, however, there is nothing."

Gazing up once more, Elijayess offers a small, sad smile. "But that is neither here nor there. We have a long journey ahead of us. Get some rest; we shall leave before dawn. Luckily, it is still winter, so we shall only travel for a few hours before the heat gets too bad and we have to find shelter. After the heat has passed, we will then travel some more until nightfall. Unfortunately it is too dark to traverse the mountains at night. Once we get to the desert, however, we will only travel at night. Although more creatures come out then, they are less dangerous than the desert heat.

quote:

Finally, you see a crest and hill, spread before you, is the Desolation.

The desert sands are black and crimson, a field of soot seemingly stained by the blood of every living creature that has been slain upon the harsh sands. The sky is covered by the black shadows of smoke belched from volcanic peaks scattered throughout the Desolation.

Even across the great distance separating you from Kendermore, you can see the infamous Peak of Malys towering high in the distance, a dark shadow illuminated by rivers of lava spilling from its lip. Kendermore sits in the shadow of the peak, a journey of many days across some of the most unforgiving land in all of Ansalon.

The Desolation was formerly known as Goodlund, home to lush forests, rolling plains, and the sprawling city of Kendermore. This region was home to the majority of Kender in eastern Ansalon, before the Dragon Overlord Malystryx came along.

Malystryx possessed great sorcerous powers, and she used it to shape the region to her twisted whims through the use of her skull totem. The fertile region gave way to a barren wasteland filled with treacherous crevices, active volcanoes which fill the sky with soot and ash, and lava floes which continue to reshape the land to this day. The region is now simply called "The Desolation," and it's one of the most dangerous places climate-wise in Ansalon. Traveling to Kendermore, and thus the Peak of Malystryx, from Port Balifor takes 80 miles and thus approximately 3 to 5 days. However, Elijayess heavily cautions to only travel at night for the heat is so great it can kill even hydrated people.



Only the most resilient flora and fauna adapted to survive these changes, and even then Malystryx's lingering magic spawns new, insane mutations of creatures seemingly daily. Hundreds of thousands of dire boar herds serve as the primary food source for dragons and humanoids, as farming is impossible in this region. Giant scorpions are all over the place, and the most common animals are mule deer, mountain lions, crows and vultures, silt snakes, desert hares, and mountain rams. However, many of them stick far from the desert, and dragons are the top predators; all over animals know to avoid them like the plague.

The flora which survives can be used for all manner of herbal remedies for the party alchemist. The berries of the Black Haw tree acts as a muscle relaxant and can remove the effects of mundane and magical fear; the fluid inside the stalk of the Dragon's Claw plant can be a useful adhesive; boiled petals of eyebright can treat eyestrain, blindness, and other visual ailments.

During the day temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Farenheit, causing damage to people without adequate shelter. As it is "winter," however, the deadly heat persists for only a few hours during and after high noon. Acid rain and silt storms represent the most common weather dangers.

Non non-unique encounters in the Desolation involve large, warped animals from the results of Malystryx's magic and experiments. They include and insane humans warped into deformed giants (known as Desolation Giants) and flamestone panthers, large cats of raw magma which can burrow underground to surprise prey!

For unique encounters, one includes a dark knight patrol aways from their home fortress of Darkhaven. They number nine strong, and their captain, Crager Bloodholt, is wounded (0 hit points) yet conscious, and most of their supplies were stolen by a gnoll hunting party. They're actually trying to avoid combat, and the PCs can offer to help them via healing or supplies. If the characters aid him, they get full experience for the encounter and the adventure mentions that they'll gain him as an ally in the future. I assume the party's meant to meet him at Darkhaven in Book Two, but he's never mentioned again in the adventure path. On the other hand, he does have some magic arms and armor...

The other 3 unique encounters include a run-in with previously mentioned gnoll hunting party, a band of afflicted kender raiders who know the way back to Kendermore, and Nomad human bandits led by a ruthless ranger. All of them are basic monster entries (in the case of the gnolls) or low-level NPCs commanded by a leader with some magical equipment (usually a +1 weapon and +1 armor). They'll make use of higher ground if fighting in the mountains along with cover, hiding in the sand or striking during silt storms in the desert if they can, and similar terrain advantages.

There's also Phaethon scouts, elves who can grow wings of pure flame. Legends among their people say that it is an ancestral gift from times of old when Habbakuk, Good God of renewal, persistance, and the natural cycle of life an death. The scouts will confront the PCs, asking them what brings them to the Desolation. If truthful, they'll provide them with limited assistance via directions and supplies. They are part of a larger tribe which will make an appearance in Book Two: Specter of Sorrows.




Halfway to Kendermore, the terrain turns rocky and the flat land gives way to hills and thorny undergrowth. This place is known as the Crags, as Elijayess informs the party, the former site of the Wendle Wood before Malystryx burned it to the ground. Even then, the numerous hiding places and small springs around the area make it filled with the most life in the entire Desolation. Creatures from all over congregate to the area and attempt to hold it.

Elijayess knows of one spring which is neutral territory, looked over by a trio of three hags known as the Oracles. As long as they do not spill blood they can rest up in safety and restock their water supplies. A crescent-shaped pond with trees surrounds three sides of a small hill, from which green flames emanate forth from a cave overlooking the area. The Oracles watch the PCs descend the slope to the pond and greet them.

quote:

"Greetings, strangers..." the one in the center speaks in a low, sultry tone. Dressed in a loose caftan of nearly translucent white silk, her pale skin contrasts against the flowing raven locks that cloak her shoulders and back.
"Welcome to our spring..." the one to the left picks up, her voice a soft whisper. A delicate hand reaches up, brushing silvery white hair back from an equally delicate elven face. Her caftan is of sheer crimson silk that matches the stain of her lips.
"We have been waiting for your arrival." The last one finishes in a deep, rich voice. Her hair is of a brilliant shade of scarlet, her skin a rich shade of ebony that marks her of Ergothian heritage. The flowing black silk caftan molds itself to her strong body as she holds her hands out in welcome.

The Oracles are three hags, Sorrow (black-hair), Mourn (elf), and Lament (Ergothian), their true forms disguised. They are not evil like most of their kind, and through magic and sheer persistence they've kept the spring neutral grounds. If the PCs ask them any questions, they'll offer to read their futures and answer questions via their magical talents, in exchange for payment:

quote:

As you speak, the three Oracles all gaze at you with their dark eyes.
"Yes," murmers Sorrow.
"We shall answer your questions," murmers Mourn.
"But first, you must agree to our price," continues Lament.
"For one question, you must agree to carry a burden we shall place upon you," Sorrow says in a smooth, sultry voice.
"For two questions you must agree to carry a burden we shall place upon you and you must perform a task for us," Mourn whispers softly.
"For three questions you must agree to carry a burden we shall place upon you, you must perform a task for us, and you must also give us something you hold dear," Lament murmers deeply.
"Do you agree to our price?" the three speak together, their voices melding in an oddly disturbing symphony that causes a shiver to trace up and down your spines.

For one question, the party must carry an amber amulet with them for 30 days. It is a Hag's Eye with which the Oracles can scry upon their progress. For two questions the PCs must locate an ogre known as Grigolthan said to be lurking in the Peak of Malys. He wields a staff created from the skull and spine of a Silvanesti dark elf (exiled elf). They must return it to the Oracles. For three questions the PCs must give to them a permanent magic item of at least 2,500 steel pieces (gold pieces) in value. They refuse to accept the Key of Quinari, Shard of Light, or Blade of Betrayal.

And here are their most likely answers:



Vague Prophecy Count: 11.

Libertad's Notes: Personally I feel that the prices are too high for such vague answers. I'd recommend making them more explicit, but not so much that you spill the whole plot. Hint at an afterlife for "Krynn's mightiest creatures" for the Key, an "elf of Silvanesti seeking to break free from the Lord of Bones, an enemy of the Betrayer of Hurim" for who's manipulating them, and the "touch of Mishakal" for helping the elves of Pashin (they might have learned of the Tears from Anasana back in the Shattered Temple.

Failing to complete the first two tasks causes a Bestow Curse effect to be inflicted upon the entire party, no save. Destroying the hag's eye extends the duration to 2d6 weeks for the offending PC. The hags don't gently caress around! After answering their questions they will retreat back into their caves behind an illusory wall shaped to look like part of the stone.

By the time the PCs begin to leave, the Oracles meet with them one last time to tell them that their journey will take them to lands unseen, that Fate has chosen them but they will be the ones to choose their destiny.

During this entire time Elijayess will look very uncomfortable, as the Oracles spook him out.


I feel that this encounter played out very well with a lot of potential. It can be used by the DM to insert and personalize answers for their own groups. It strongly smacks of the role of the Three Fates from mythology: women who know of people's futures, a single "eye" shared between them. Cliche, but fitting.


Kendermore





Kendermore itself is only 10 hours travel from the spring, so the PCs should get there in no time flat.

The city itself was a grandiose city unlike any kind on Ansalon. Tens of thousands of Kender lived happy and carefree until Malystryx struck. Her magic and armed forces slaughtered them until the haphazard streets ran red with blood. Kender across Goodlund were sent running from the havoc and devastation, spreading word of the massacre from one to another across the continent. This event left many kender afflicted and afraid, something which has truly not happened since the Cataclysm. Even the "true" Kender are filled with a faint sorrow of the loss Kendermore.

The shadow of the Peak of Malys shelters the ruins of the dead city from the morning sun. When its rays finally do shine upon it mid-day, it only adds to the extreme heat of the lava flows nearby. Today the city is home to gnolls, goblins, and other creatures drawn to the site. Undead kender continue to wander the wreckage, filled with both a need to return to a semblance of their former lives and a burning need to make others suffer as they did. These creatures are known as the Forlorn Kender:



Looking upon Kendermore is like viewing a graveyard of Ansalon's cities. Architectural styles from nearly every major culture was replicated within the city limits: delicate elven spires lay smashed amid the golden plates that once covered the Khurish onion-styled domes and the castle-like foundations of Solamnic buildings. The streets are a confusing maze of paths, alleyways, and winding roads bereft of long-term planning. Now that everything lay in ruins, traversing the city is even more difficult than ever.

There are no unique or story-related random encounters here. Just makeshift traps which are remnants of the ogre invasion, kender undead, basilisks, ankhegs, lamias, and other monstrosities.

The two locations of note include the Palace. It is home to Deuce Spadestomper, the groundskeeper for the building before the arrival of Malystryx. He could not bear to leave his home and garden, and still tends to the plants before darting back to the safety of the palace's many hiding spots. If the PCs manage to spot him (no mean feat, he's got a +17 Hide modifier!), he'll be unfavorably inclined towards the intruders but won't try to fight them. If they win his trust the PCs will find that he knows more than anybody else the layout of Kendermore and is responsible for the set-up of traps throughout the city.

City Hall is also home to a clan of gully dwarves, who will be frightened at the PCs arrival and loudly proclaiming "you no see me!" They, along with kender and gnomes, are part of the comic relief races of Dragonlance. Dirty, stupid, and unwanted by everyone else, gully dwarves live within the ruins of Ansalon, thriving where others cannot live. Eventually the 'bravest' of the gully dwarves, the leader High Grup II, will approach the PCs begging for mercy.

The gully dwarves also know plenty about the goings-on in Kendermore, including a possible entrance to the Peak of Malystryx.

The adventure goes out of its way to tell the DM not to give out experience points if the PCs slaughter the Gully Dwarves (what kind of psycho group would try that?!).


Speaking of which, a band of ogre slavers is operating in the area. They caught several of Kronn Thistleknot's scouts, who discovered that the ogres are rounding up kender still within the city and taking them to the Peak of Malystryx. Unfortunately they got caught. Once the DM feels that the PCs explored enough of Kendermore an encounter with them starts.



The party will hear shouts and a strange whirring sound from the other side of a building. Going to investigate they'll see five ogres holding a chained throng of kender. One of their leaders slams his fist into the building another kender stands on as he flings slings at the giants with his hoopak (slingshot/staff weapon), insulting them all the while.

quote:

"You scum-sucking, toenail-eating, puppy-beating, ugly sonofa...oops!" the kender's arms flail as one of the ogres slams his fist into the precarious structure, causing it to shudder and almost dislodge the youngster from his perch.
"Get that little bastard!" the largest and heavily armored ogre roars down the alleyway as he uncoils a giant whip from his waist.
"Who you callin a bastard!" shouts the kender as he scrambles to safety. "At least my mother didn't sleep with a goatsucker bird!"
With a roar of rage the ogre takes a few strides forward as he cracks the whip forward, its spiked leather slashes through the air and wraps around the kender's leg. Before the kender can give a startled cry, the ogre pulls back, yanking the kender from atop the wall and to the ground with an audible "thump!"

The kender is Parrick Whistlewalk. The other ogres are standard of their kind, but their leader Karak is armed with a breastplate and a big-rear end spiked whip which grants him 20 foot reach! He's also got barbarian levels and can get a 30 Strength while raging! When in such a state his whip can hit most opponents (+16 bonus).

Elijayess will be enraged to see such cruelty and will knock a few arrows to shoot at one of the ogre underlings. Parrick's only a 3rd-level rogue and he won't survive against the giants unless the PCs help him.

For my group the combat was moderately difficult. The confines of the alleyway, combined with the ogre's reach and whip, made it hard for the archers and spellcasters to get into unthreatened squares and pull off their attacks. But the melee guys provoked some attacks of opportunity and took a few blows to grant the rest of the party time to reposition themselves. Once that was accomplished the ogre minions were brought down quickly.

Parrick and the captured kender will be grateful for their help. The scouts will tell the characters that they saw the ogres take in more than twenty kender up the Peak of Malystryx... including Parrick's sister Kerra. Parrick asks the PCs to help find out what has happened to them and save them if possible. At this point Elijayess offers to take care of the wounded and to reunite with him at the Palace once they've returned.

Parrick will point out that he also saw some strange creatures going in and out of the mountain's plume, which looked like strange giant copper ants.

Deuce Spadestomper, if asked, will advise against the usual routes. "You can try the plume, but you might fall and burn to a crisp. The entrance the ogres use is heavily guarded." He points out a dormant plume as the safest route into the volcano. "You might try going in that way... might be a tad safer than the other entrances, although what is safe when you're in the Peak is a question for the gods, if you ask me."


Elijayess and Parrick meet up with the party before they embark on their journey:

quote:

As you prepare to leave, Elijayess walks up and stares towards the sullen Peak of Malys.
"Be careful, my friends," his voice a soft whisper. "Even though she is dead, her presence still lingers. The land remembers the torture she put it through...Chislev weeps."
The Kagonesti's gaze turns from the Peak towards you, a faint smile appearing on his otherwise somber face. "However, I believe that the gods walk with you. Have faith and it shall carry you through the hardships ahead. I will await your return at the palace and watch over the little ones."
Clasping each of your hands in the Kagonesti farewell, Elijayess turns and walks back towards the wounded kender, hefting two of the smaller ones in his arms as he kneels down to allow a third to climb up on his back.
Parricks walks up to you, a bit downcast for the otherwise cheerful kender. Gazing up, he offers his own advice, "Keep your hands on your pouches, keep your nose to the ground, and if someone shouts 'heads up!' they mean 'duck!'" Reaching towards his belt, he pulls off one of his pouches and hands it to you. "Here, take this, you might need it in there..."

The pouch contains a bunch of random knickknacks, but some useful magic items: three potions of energy resistance (fire), a ring of feather fall, and an amulet of natural armor +1. From Kendermore, it will be a hard days' journey to the Peak of Malystryx.

Thoughts so far: I really like this chapter overall. The difficulty is amped upon with monstrous random encounters, but not so much that the PCs can be overwhelmed. The haunting atmosphere of Kendermore and the Desolation convey a good sense of what was lost, and the interactions with the Kender NPCs (especially Parrick) simultaneously manage to play up their Kenderishness without being overbearing. Parrick's advice at the end in particular earned a few smiles from the players.

I also enjoyed the boxed text for Elijayess and the Oracles. It conveyed a lot of character through just a few words. I wish that more adventures followed suit.

Next time, the final chapter of Book One! The Peak of Malystryx!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 03:56 on Nov 20, 2013

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Halloween Jack posted:

(One thing I forgot to criticize about this game is the White Wolfy vagueness. Look at the conditional words above and in my review: Most ghuls do this, some do that, many believe such-and-such, some things are "rare" while others are only "rumoured.")

I picked up on that, it's one of my pet peeves when reading World of Darkness books. I don't know how widespread it was in oWoD, but it's everywhere in the newer books. I always assumed it was part of them really going out of their way to avoid any definitive statements about the setting and restrict your home game. It's very noticeable in some places, like there's a bit in Geist where the writer is trying to convey their idea that most Sin-Eaters are poor or otherwise marginalized but without discouraging any other character concepts. Frequently stressing "but this is in no way definitive!"

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Cardiovorax posted:

You should think that a game about being a flesh-eating undead abomination that trafficks with ghosts would be interesting, but somehow it isn't.

I dunno maybe its because I'm an ugly motherfucker who likes Nosferatu but I like the Ghuls, and I think they work better for horror than sparkly Kindred. They're not quite as good as Fallout ghouls, but they're similar enough, including the distinction between sentient and feral ghouls.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

I'll have you know, foxes have the finest call in nature




DOUBLE CROSS

Part VIII - The World


This is the chapter with all the setting details, which, quite honestly, aren't that many. Let's dive into it. I'll leave out the things that we know already. There's a lot of setting information that we know already, and since DX is extremely concise and very fond of one sentence explanations, there's a lot of things we already know everything there is to know about.

Twenty years ago, an archeology team discovered some ruins in the Middle East. They were heading home with weird biological samples the plane was shot down. The samples spread through the air. For the following years, mysterious incidents started happening all over the world. Bizarre occurrences that could not have been caused by human beings. It took some time until someone offered some insight into the matter. The someone was Professor Alfred J. Cauldwell, a renomed biologist – let's assume he was a virologist. Cauldwell wrote a paper explaining that the samples from the archeology team were the Renegade virus. He went on to explain the effects of the Renegade on humans, what Overeds are, and how they can become Gjaums. The paper ends with the assertion that the recent bizarre events all over the world are the work of an Overed terrorist organisation: the False Hearts.

Cauldwell's paper was sent to the governments of the world, who kept it very confidential to avoid public rioting. But at the same time, they were also sick and tired of all the unstoppable attacks by these mysterious Overeds. So when Cauldwell proposed to spearhead a new organisation to stop False Hearts, the world gave its wholehearted support, even in secret. Governments and millionaires and multinational companies helped fund and develop Cauldwell's project, and thus was born the Universal Guardian Network... our well-known UGN.

After a few years, Prof. Cauldwell died in action in New Zealand. I guess that's par for the job when you're a professional superhero... Without Cauldwell's charismatic leadership, the organisation fragmented and became less centralised. Individual branches are now more powerful than they were before. The UGN also became shadier, as branch chiefs and agents got more power and influence to pursue their own goals. Nowadays, the organisation is led by a board of twelve members, called the Axis. Under Cauldwell's influence, the UGN was all about researching and discovering a way to incorporate Overeds in human society; now, its focus is more Overed monitoring and security. This is the state things are in at the time of the game.

The UGN has four main jobs:
Incident resolution - dealing with Overeds in the field. Sometimes the help of local authorities is required; the UGN is powerful enough to arrange for that without compromising the next point.
Information manipulation - everything about the Renegade is confidential and known only by a select few. The UGN works with governments and media to keep it that way.
Protection and training - you can't stop Overeds from awakening, the Renegade is a fact of life now. The UGN is responsible for taking in newly awakened Overeds and giving them shelter, information, and training in controling their powers. In turn, Overeds are expected to work for the UGN.
Research and development - teams of scientists in lab coats are studying the Renegade, the Overeds, and developing equipment and technology for the UGN's agents to use. The elephant in the room is the cure for the Renegade... they're working on it but have made zero progress. It's not an issue right now.

The Axis, the 12-member board, is the UGN's highest authority. Below that are the international branches, and below that individual city branches. Among the UGN's agents are what are called the "UGN children": Overeds who awoke very young or maybe were even born Overeds. They are taken in and live under the care of the UGN. There are also "illegal" Overeds, the ones who don't officially join with the UGN. They try to live life as best as they can, but it's hard when you've got the Renegade to contend with. The UGN isn't above working with illegals for individual jobs and missions when they're up for it. It's worth pointing out that the UGN employs many non-Overeds; out of the four main jobs, only incident resolution is something that usually requires agents to be Overeds themselves.

And then we have the False Hearts. Huge, inscrutable, powerful. They are less organised than the UGN, being composed instead of a number of cells ran by agents who mostly go about pursing their personal goals and impulses. Very important FH agents are called "Masters". There is a rumour that several Masters have been brought into Japan's False Hearts network, which I like to think is a subtle nod to that old manga/anime trope of "an enemy team where each member is a different nationality".

The False Hearts doesn't have a standard modus operandi. They can use direct violence, brainwashing, infiltration and spying, guerilla tactics, terrorist attacks... what is certain is that there are plenty of Gjaums among their ranks and they aren't afraid of showing and abusing their Overed powers.

Next the book goes on a little bit about the Renegade, but it's nothing that we haven't seen yet. It mentions how Gjaums are Overeds that cannot leave a berserk state and know only to pursue their Impulses. It goes on a little bit about the skill Renegade Control: different Overeds use different techniques to manipulate their Renegade. The book mentions breathing exercises, meditation, and sleep therapy. It talks about Loises, and how important they are in keeping Overeds sane. One interesting thing: since UGN children have likely spent most of their lives in training facilities, they tend to have less human contact than "regular" Overeds. Which means that they are more prone to going Gjaum. Which is kind of awesome. The person trained as an Overed since birth is more likely to lose control than Pete, who awakened last month. This is in no way supported by the rules, as everyone gets the same number of starting Loises and there is no "Lois quality" aspect. I still find it a nice touch of flavour, if only for NPCs.



Other Organisations

It's not all about UGN vs. False Hearts. Many organisations have cropped up throughout the world who have to do with the Renegade and Overeds.

The Strangers are the specialised branch of Japan's Self-Defence Force (the cuddliest name for the military ever) that deals with Overeds. They have specialised anti-Overed gear. Rifles and tanks are not much use against a rampaging Overed, so when the going gets tough these guys are called. They're known for treating Overeds like trash.

Tempest is the equivalent of the Strangers, but in the U.S. Military. Unlike the Strangers, however, Tempest is all about exploiting the potential military application of Overeds (). They are known for making terrible inhumane experiments on Overeds. Not surprisingly, the UGN and these guys hate each other.

The Kamishiro Group is a Japanese mega-conglomerate. They have tons of money and do their own research on Overeds and the Renegade. They are, however, allied with the UGN and generally not bad guys. But there has been the recent advent of an anti-UGN wing within the conglomerate: they (correctly) believe that the UGN monopolises Renegade information.

The Guild is the world's largest criminal organisation. The Guild can browbeat the triad into doing what they want. When the yakuza boss needs bodyguards, he calls the Guild. The Guild makes the Cosa Nostra offers they can't refuse.
The Guild employs various Overeds and Gjaums. They are not necessarily associated with False Hearts, even though they certainly sport many infiltrated FH agents. Instead, they're just this colossal criminal organisation who is not afraid to use every tool available on planet Earth to further their goals.

Finally, there's Tindalos, and they rock. They're a civilian armed group based in Japan. They're people who have sworn to protect others from the action of Overeds, Gjaums, and the Renegade. The only problem is that they're not Overeds themselves. They're just guys, armed with guns, some 'tude, and huge balls. What sets Tindalos apart from other similar civilian groups – and of course there are plenty of them, think about it: every fight between Overeds leaves victims, directly or indirectly, it's a matter of time before people discover the truth about the Renegade and swear vengeance or something – is that they have a lot of intel. Tindalos knows about the UGN, False Hearts, and a whole lot about how Overeds actually work. They sort of hate the UGN, because they think the way the UGN handles Overed incidents (as in, cover the thing up, dispatch other Overeds to deal with it) is disrespectful toward the actual people involved and elitist toward Overeds. They're right, of course, even if the UGN won't admit it.

These organisations are all really cool and I really wish the game went more into them. We get nothing beside one paragraph of description, and in some cases what I wrote here is longer than what the book actually says about them. You could make awesome games from the perspective of any of these: there are plenty of "special corps" Japanese shows that are basically Strangers; I could picture a Guild game with Overeds using their powers to pull heists and cons and rob banks; Tindalos is a perfect Hunter: the Vigil compact.

Next time: More of the setting! Renegade Beings and NPCs!

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


My copy of Double Cross just came in the mail, can't wait to crack this thing open considering your review and the fact that my friend just referred to it as "S-CRY-ED and Guyver had a baby."

Cyphoderus posted:

Japan's Self-Defence Force (the cuddliest name for the military ever)
There's a reason for this. They aren't technically a military. Japan's been dancing around the issue after the post-war sanctions of WWII. They're officially civilians. If they do commit crimes they're tried in civilian courts, and they directly report to the civilian government ministers of defense. If memory serves their Japanese name roughly translates to "Self-Defense Team" rather than Military, and they're called "Self-Defense Team Members" rather than soldiers.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Cyphoderus posted:

Tempest is the equivalent of the Strangers, but in the U.S. Military. Unlike the Strangers, however, Tempest is all about exploiting the potential military application of Overeds (). They are known for making terrible inhumane experiments on Overeds. Not surprisingly, the UGN and these guys hate each other.

When I first read this section in my copy of DX, I misread it and thought that Tempest was protesting UGN's inhumane experimentation instead of the other way around. Although this does raise the issue of hypocrisy. Doesn't the UGN commit its fair share of human rights violations? Or am I misremembering and/or misreading things again?

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I kind of like Everlasting's take on ghouls. And I think a dungeon crawlesque game where you play molemen, ghouls and other creatures of myth fighting and dying for god, glory and gold against monsters beneath the street would be kind of awesome.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Add in the subway pirates from Grant Morrison's 7 Soldiers of Victory and you've got genius.

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



Cyphoderus posted:

...a civilian armed group based in Japan....
But, but, but Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


AccidentalHipster posted:

When I first read this section in my copy of DX, I misread it and thought that Tempest was protesting UGN's inhumane experimentation instead of the other way around. Although this does raise the issue of hypocrisy. Doesn't the UGN commit its fair share of human rights violations? Or am I misremembering and/or misreading things again?

Well, the UGN is "let's raise children as Overeds to fight False Hearts", while Tempest is more "let's do horrible things to this person and see if they activate!" Which one is worse is a judgement call, really, but the UGN is for the most part smotheringly benevolent.

Transient People
Dec 22, 2011

"When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently."
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

Notable thing about that reference to UGN Children being more likely to become Gjaums: One of the coolest little things about DX (which IIRC shows up in an earlier chapter) is that one character can function as multiple Loises to a single PC. If you want to have the classic 'I'm a monster' guy who suddenly was horribly transformed by the Renegade and is only barely held together by one special person in their life (a good example of this would be the protagonist for Devilman), you totally can. This would be a nice way of representing how an UGN Child is more likely to fall than a normal person: He's more likely to have fixated on one person or institution and made it into a multilayered Lois due to a lack of socialization, setting him up for a really hard fall if something destroys that relationship.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Bellfahle Magic Academy

Grand Theft Broom: Marslan City

Classes are over for the day and a stammering Ein offers to show Remi around town since she's just moved in and all. Remi is happy to go with him... and Chris and Raius too, since they decided to tag along. Raius worries about leaving Ein alone Since Remi doesn't know a thing about, well, anything (she confuses the Royal Castle for "that huge house over there") and we need an excuse for exposition, it's time for some world background!


Hey, I didn't make the city.

We are in the continent of Fermia, right in the middle of the world of Promacia. (Raius is drawing up a map as he explains, it's kind of adorable really) The Vashlan Kingdom and the city of Marslan is where the Academy is located. The Queen, Her Majesty Yumi La Vashlan III is the ruler of the kingdom, and she lives in that "huge house", Castle Arwin. They say a famous architect built it! The gang makes their way through Sage's Road, a wide avenue that leads to the Academy and is named like that because of all the schools, research halls and related businesses located there. There's a number of schools for subjects like arithmetic and calligraphy, as well as other smaller magic schools. Aside from the Academy itself, the largest school in Sage's Road is Balkas School, a place of learning for ancient history whose library stocks some very rare books. Balkas himself is the city's foremost book collector, and for a fee he can grant access to his personal collection of precious ancient manuscripts.


Castle Arwin and Sage's Road.

The gang takes a turn from Sage's Road to Spell Road, which is packed with fortune teller's stalls and other magic shops. There's also a strong smell in the air, but the kids are used to smelling it in the school: it's --- I mean, medicinal herbs. Ein finds it all kinds of freaky but them's the breaks when you're a mage. About half of the stores sell supplies to mages from herbs and books to flying brooms, while the other half offers spellcasting and fortune telling services. You can buy bottled magic from these stores: actually, you can buy them from pretty much any general store, but these are more powerful. The fortune tellers are kind of hit or miss, but while there are not 100% safe predictions, they can get close enough to it. There's Muroll, who while young has the best or second best hit ratio in town, but she doesn't tolerate stupid questions; or Guliyu, who charges 10,000 silver per session but his reputation is such that consultations have to be booked days in advance.

At the end of the street there is a large tower belonging to the Association of Mages and Chris is in DESPAIR because Remi, as our surrogate, has no idea what that is. The Association deals with mage affairs and hands out official mage licenses to those who pass their examinations. This is so that high grade magic isn't used lightly, but by people of proper strength and disposition. They're also involved in magic research and support mages by selling them magic implements at low prices. The Academy also falls under the Association's purview, as they have an interest in the proper spread of magic throughout the world.

The kids then take a familiar turn and end in Student's Road, which has its name because it's always full of said students. There's stationery stores here, as well as restaurants, like the Goatling's Inn which is cheap but serves some really odd dishes with things that aren't really food on them, because his owner is a mage and does some haute cuisine poo poo with . And the odd lady at the general store gives candy when you buy something from her! Next to Student's Road is Boarding District, named for all the boarding houses there. Many students from the Academy and the Sage's Road schools live here, like about half of Ein and company's class. Finally, they reach the city square, complete with an open market. Chris teaches Remi the finer details of haggling for stuff! The guy they were buying from explains that the market is said to have everything - if nothing else, it's probably the best in the world. Near the plaza there is the Reol Theater, a very high class and formal establishment, and the Arda Church, where those who believe in God (not many!) go to worship. It's really pretty anyway. During holidays, performers come out and put up shows for everyone to watch.


Student's Road and the city square.

A bell rings three times from a clock tower, which gives its name to Clock Road. It was built by the Association and, of course, is powered by magic. Now it's Remi that drags the group there, as it is where the Crochett Company has its offices. The manager explains that many other traders have offices in this street, and that millions of silver pieces are traded here every day. There's a government office here to regulate trade, which is why the businesses have gathered around the location. The kids are rude and leave before the old guy finishes his report on quarterly profits, though.

The gang spots the Residential District, which is where they live! But that's boring so instead they show Remi around the Artisan District, where craftsmen of all types live. From shoemakers to tailors to bakers, it's all there. They gather because it's more convenient for their guilds to keep them together. The guilds do for regular folk what the Association does for mages: support, licensing and research. The Guild Halls at the center of this area are built in all sorts of styles and getting around and through them is a bit hard since they're built all over the place.

At the Shopping District they stop at a jewelry store, where Chris admires a brooch and acts all girly kawaii for a change. The owner does the designs herself and they're quite popular with the young ladies. Close to that is the Inn District, packed with inns and hotels as Marslan gets a lot of visitors with all the trade going on. There's regular inns, inns for caravans, inns for your monkeys, inns for everything. Beyond that there's the Pleasure District, where most places are closed as it's still daylight. By night, it's a lively place with bars, gambling houses and brothels. Remi doesn't need to know what a brothel is, thank you very much! Ein's face is going beet red for no reason! The largest gambling house, August Hare, has magic-assisted gambling going on, while Angel's Cheek is a high class cabaret popular with nobility and wealthy people.

Remi is about to take a turn and the gang stops her: she was about to go into the slums, the wrong side of the magic tracks. Guards don't go there. It used to be part of the Development Zone but one day it became a den of outlaws and criminals, dangerous even in broad daylight. The Development Zone itself is where poor people live, but they are of a better kind than the slums' denizens and try to help each other to survive. Chris believes them to be a better sort than the self-righteous jerks living at the Old District, and Ein takes over the explanation even though his family no longer lives there. The Old District used to be the entirety of the city, but then it grew around it. It's where the nobility has their residences: regular people don't go in here. Guards are posted at its entrances and you don't get in without a permit. These guards are knights of the White Knight Order, a specially formed guard unit. They spend their time training and patrolling, but when it comes down to blows they fight as knights. All boys want to be White Knights when they grow up!


Pleasure District and Harbor District.

The gang splits and everyone goes home. Remi tells her dad about her trip around town, and he mentions there's one place they didn't go to: the docks. Properly known as the Harbor District, the docks are where the shipowners' offices and the warehouse where they store goods to be carried by their ships are located. It's where her dad works! He says he'll take her next time: there's people from all countries there. Maybe they will meet someone from her mother's country... and dad just made himself a little sad.

Next: Finally some goddamn rules--- IS THAT A FLOWCHART

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...





Part One - Dr. Good Order, How I Learned to Stop Worrying Love the Maneuver Chart

You’ve heard about this one, haven’t you? The most complicated role playing game ever made. “Chart Master”. F.A.T.A.L. 1.0. “Three Hours of CharGen so you can die in the first round of combat.”

What have our own people been saying about Rolemaster?

FMGuru posted:

And remember, MERP is a simplified version of the Rolemaster standard rule set.

And MERP makes a lot more sense when you realize it was originally released in the early 1980s, and its purpose was to describe Tolkien's Middle Earth as a gameable world where you could have D&D style wilderness and dungeon adventures. It's literally just D&D with Nazgul and Palantiri and Balrogs and Mithril and Moria and the Misty Mountains, and it makes almost no effort to connect with any of the themes of Tolkien's writing. So yeah, expect fireball wizards and +4 swords and monsters guarding chests with 4000 silver pieces and two potions of extra healing.

ThisIsNoZaku posted:

I made a Rolemaster character once, with a guy who was a big fan of it. He was using a custom fillable sheet that was something like 20 pages long.

Bieeardo posted:

I remember a guy telling me about his group's encounter with a room full of crazed whores. They (the group) were all in plate armour, so the ladies couldn't really do much to them, but the table the prostitutes rolled on kept coming up 'knocked down'.

I'm not sure how long the party spent stunlocked by a bunch of crazy harlots, or why they were trying to fight them in the first place, but that was the closest I've come to seeing Chartmaster actually played.

Rolemaster is the granddaddy of Fantasy Heartbreakers. Beginning originally as a series of add-ons (crit chars, spell casting systems, etc.) that you could theoretically staple into any pre-existing fantasy role playing game, and finally culminating in an actual boxed set with all the books together. It was created by a bunch of guys who thought that D&D didn’t have enough realism, didn’t take into account enough details in combat, and didn’t mechanically represent every last loving thing in the entire goddam universe. They also got their hands on the license to produce the Lord of the Rings RPGs, and did some legitimately awesome source books that fill out the rest of Middle Earth, even if it’s attached to a really weird system. It’s a big old hot mess of ideas, some good, a lot terrible, a ton completely useless, and some that leave you scratching your head.

And it’s about as 80’s game Design as is possible. What’s 80s Game design? Ratoslov gave us an awesome definition a few pages back.

Ratoslov posted:

Very 80's: Graph paper. D100 random tables. Typesetting is done by physically cutting and pasting bits of type and art onto the page. The game is probably a box-set, and may well include a bunch of dice in the box that you need to draw the pips on yourself. Random chargen is big, much like hair.









Oh yeah! Regan’s in the White House and New Coke tastes great! Put on your mirrored sunglasses, jean jacket with the air brushed dragon coiled around an 8-ball, and turn up that Man-O-War tape. I don’t care if your mom wants you to turn it down because you’ve got church in the morning. We’re talking Rolemaster, bitches, and we’re playing by I.C.E’s house rules.

---

History

From here: http://www.icewebring.com/what-is-rolemaster/

quote:

There have been four versions of the game produced, which fall into two major groups. First Edition and Second Edition Rolemaster belong to the first group, usually just referred to as RM2. There was then a fairly major revision to the game when the third version, Rolemaster Standard System was released (RMSS). This was then reorganized somewhat, with very few actual rule changes for the fourth version, Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying (RMFRP). Lists with cover images of the all the products for the various Rolemaster versions can be found at:
http://www.icewebring.com/ice-products/

The term Rolemaster First Edition (RM1) is generally used to refer to the products released between 1980 and 1982, the first versions of Arms Law, Claw Law, Spell Law, Character Law and Campaign Law. These were available as individual items and in various boxed sets. The original idea of these products was to replace portions of existing Roleplaying games (particularly Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) rather than being a stand-alone game on it’s own. However, once the full set of material was available, it was quite capable of being an independent game.

In 1984 the information in the books was expanded and revised, some of the books were combined and the material in them was rearranged. An initial boxed set was brought out in 1984 which resembled the previous Spell Law and Arms Law/Claw Law boxed set but contained a new Spell Law book and a combined Arms Law/Claw Law book but the older Character Law and the Vog Mur module.

A new boxed set was released shortly after containing three rule books and an Adventure module. The rule books were the combined Arms Law/Claw Law book and the Spell Law book from the previous boxed set and a combined Character Law/Campaign Law book. Several additional books were published from 1985 to 1988, including Rolemaster Companions 1, 2, and 3 and the first Creatures and Treasures book.

Technically, the products released between 1984 and 1988 are also First Edition Rolemaster products. The official start of the Second Edition Rolemaster series came with the Boxed Set containing the Arms Law & Claw Law book, the Spell Law book, and the Character Law and Campaign Law book, all with red-bordered covers.

However, other than a slight modification to the Combat Sequence and some rearranging of material, there are very few differences between the 1984 Rule Books and the 1989 Rule Books. This means that in most cases the term Rolemaster Second Edition (RM2) is used to refer to everything published from 1984 to 1994. In particular, Rolemaster Companion II included the Complete Skill Descriptions section and Master Development Point Cost Tables as well as several Professions that are often considered the distinguishing features of Rolemaster Second Edition.

With all the material that was published for Rolemaster Second Edition, it really became more of a method of developing a Roleplaying Game than an actual game itself. You could play in several different campaigns, all of them using Rolemaster, and they could all be quite different. It’s a matter of quite abit of debate whether that was the strongest point of RM2 or its weakest point. It made for a very flexible system with a lot of options, but could easily suffer from play balance problems if particular sets of rules were used together.

In 1995 the game was revamped and released as Rolemaster Standard System (RMSS). The biggest changes were to Character Generation, particularly in the number of skills available and the way bonuses for the skills were calculated. Skills were now grouped into Categories of similar skills and you could buy ranks (bonuses) separately in the Category and the actual Skill. Also the way combat rounds were laid out changed as well. The way Spell Lists were learned was changed and most of the Spell lists were adjusted and rebalanced. The actual method of doing attacks and figuring out damage did not change much, and there weren’t much more than cosmetic changes to the stats for Creatures and Monsters.

Like most changes, opinions on whether the changes were for the better or not vary widely, some people really like the changes, others are not so exited by the changes. To quote Smug (Adam) from the ICE Forums: "RM2 was the highpoint of the game of Rolemaster. RMSS and RMFRP are widely considered to be harbingers of the end of the world from a calamitous impact with a huge asteroid from outer space"

For the most part the objections to RMSS from RM2 players was more to do with not feeling that Rolemaster needed an overhaul and sadness that RM2 was no longer going to be supported rather than any major complaints about the system itself.

In 1999 the game underwent a slight restructuring when Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying was released, but this was mostly a rearranging of material with very few changes to the rules themselves. A detailed comparison of the RMSS and RMFRP systems can be found at: http://www.icewebring.com/rmss-vs-rmfrp/

Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying is the version of Rolemaster that is currently being sold and supported and thus is the version that is the easiest to get hold of and the one a new player is most likely to pick up. One of the changes made for this version was to come out with one book, stock number 5800 simply called “Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying” that can be purchased and has all the information needed to play the game.

You can choose from one of six Races and nine Professions. You can also choose one or more of the fifteen Training Packages to flesh out your character. There are equipment lists, a list of creatures, and ninety six spell lists, each containing descriptions of the spells up to tenth level. You get six weapon attack tables, one for each category of weapon. You also get the Tooth & Claw, Bash & Grapple, Bolt Spell Attack and Ball Spell Attack Tables. There are nine critical hit tables to go along with the attack tables and a Weapon Fumble and a Spell Failure Table. And, of course there are all the rules you need to use the tables as well as some sections on the basics of Game mastering and building a setting for your players to adventure in. A full review of the Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying book can be found at: http://www.icewebring.com/Reviews/RMFRPreview.php

There are several other core books that are recommended if you wish to expand upon the information in the main RMFRP book.

Arms Law adds additional Attack and Critical tables, replacing the condensed and generalized tables from the main book with tables that are more detailed and individualized for specific weapons. There are actually two versions of Arms Law that have been put out for Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying. A detailed discussion of the different versions of Arms Law for all the editions of Rolemaster can be found at: http://www.icewebring.com/docs/Arms_Law.pdf
Character Law adds additional races, professions, skills and the full talent and flaw system. A detailed review of Character Law can be found at: http://www.icewebring.com/Reviews/character_law_review.php

There are three Spell Law books (Of Essence, Of Channelling, Of Mentalism),each of which adds additional professions and spell lists for one area of magic expanding the lists to 50th level spells.

If you are planning on being the GM for a Rolemaster Campaign, then you will want to make sure to get a copy of the Creatures & Monsters book as well.

If you have all the books listed above, then you have all the core material needed to play a full Rolemaster game. There are other excellent supplements as well, but most of them build upon the material presented in the books I’ve listed. All of the RMFRP books mentioned above are also available as PDF files from the ICE Website for about half the cost of the print books.

In this review, I’ll be covering the version I’m most familiar with, Rolemaster 2nd edition (“RM2”), which lasted from 1984-1994, most of which are pretty easy to find online through eBay or Amazon. This version lives on in the somewhat similar Rolemaster Classic, in the same way that AD&D 1st ed. lives on in Dark Dungeons, only you get to pay I.C.E for a physical copy of the books.

---

Now, as with many games and supplements from this period, the concepts of “comprehensible book flow” and “new player friendliness” were some far flung and bizarre ideas that never occurred to anyone working on the game. They all knew how to play it, after all. Thus, the first book you should read in the box, Character Law & Campaign Law, after a brief introduction to what RPGS are, spends 30 some pages boring you to death about the various ways you can die, how long it takes for your character to heal from wounds, poisons that can kill you, diseases you can catch, how moving will tire you out, and what things you can buy.

Seriously, check out this table of contents:





You’ll notice that we are supposed to learn about skills and gaining experience to level up before we cover how to generate a character.

gently caress. That.

Unlike many Fatal and Friends reviews, we’re going to tackle RM2 as a whole, focusing mostly on Character Law, Spell Law, Arms and Claw Law, and the 7 Companions, in an attempt to show how the game is actually played, not how a bunch of dudes in the 80s compiled their house rules together.

Think William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. This is Rolemaster: the Good Parts version, though we will be certainly be making fun of it a great deal for being a gog-mine of unnecessary awfulness when appropriate, and tearing it a new one where it needs one torn.

---

To begin, we’ll start with what they should have started with. Dice Mechanics.

Rolemaster is actually not that difficult a game. It is complicated, but it is not difficult. Reading Finnegans Wake is difficult. Understanding Heidegger’s concept of dasein is difficult. Calculating the ever changing weight-to-thrust ratio that will put a satellite into orbit around the Earth via multi-stage rocket is difficult. Doing some long addition, percentages, and cross referencing on charts is merely complex, and gets easier with repetition.

The basics of Rolemaster are as follows: roll a d100, add your relevant skill, add or subtract any modifiers, and check against the difficulty to see how well you succeeded or failed. If you roll 96-00 (“open ended”), roll again and add that new roll, and if you rolled another 96-00, do it again, until you roll a 95 or lower. If you rolled a 01-4, roll again and subtract the number from your skill.

At its core, no more difficult than d20, eh?. Forum favorite Monte “The Moon” Cook was a big Rolemaster guy in the 90s, before he hit it big, and a lot of his fingerprints are all over this game, as we’ll see when we get into classes.

Mostly what you'll be doing with the dice are maneuvers and combat. We'll cover combat in the third part of our review, but let's tackle skills now to show how the die system works.

There are two types of skill maneuvers, static or moving. Static are things like picking a lock, remembering the king’s favorite book, hitting on a barmaid, and other things that generally won’t result in you tripping over and killing yourself. Moving maneuvers are everything that can result in you tripping over and killing yourself.

To succeed on a static maneuver, you need to roll over 100. The modifiers added or subtracted have to do with the difficulty or ease of the task. For example, a cheap skeleton key lock giving you a +20 to crack it, while a master-crafted Elven puzzle lock that relies on Sindarin puns to open might give your human thief a -70. Unsurprisingly, there is a chart for this, which details common situations for each skill (Difficult locks, good illumination to sneak past, how much damage you’ve taken, etc.) and what penalties to assign. Or you can just make them up on the fly, like a good GM.

To succeed on a moving maneuver, you must check our first big chart:



Now, I can already hear you crying “HOLY gently caress NO! LOOK AT THAT THING! YUCK!” but I swear it’s not really that bad.

Now, how do we set difficulties? See that list of adjectives across the top? The GM will have assigned the maneuver you want to do a difficulty of somewhere between “Routine” (A trained acrobat making a 5’ jump) and “Absurd” (a fat out of shape guy doing ninja moves). The GM decides which one what you’ve just described is, and tells you how difficult is it. You then have the option to try something else, or attempt the action. You then take your roll with all its totals and cross reference it against the difficulty column you were assigned. The number is what percentage you have succeeded by.

The above examples with numbers, Pierrot Lunaire, master acrobat and thief, is escaping from the palace with the royal jewels. He wants to leap the chasm between buildings. His jumping skill is a masterful 82. The distance between rooftops is only 10 ft., and he has a running start, and really this sort of thing is old hat for a guy like this, and he’s not being chased by the guards or anything yet (he made his Stalk & Hide rolls earlier), so the GM rules that this is a Routine leap. He rolls a 40, for a total of 122. Checking the chart, he succeeded with 120% success, easily clearing the gap with room to spare and continues his silent disappearance into the night without any trouble.

On the other side of town, 300 lbs. Albert von Goonovitz is trying out the skills he learned from the ninja wall climbing YouTube videos he watched earlier to break into Lauren Faust’s house to steal her pony drawings undetected. He has no training in the climb skill, which gives him a penalty of -25, and his Agility stat isn’t very good (only a +5), so Albert is starting off with a base modifier of -20. The GM thinks that an out of shape man with no athletic prowess silently stealing things is Absurdly difficult, and tells the player so, but Albert’s need for original pony art will not be undeterred, so he tosses his hook and begins his ascent. He rolls the dice, and gets a 96! He rolls again, and gets a 42. Subtracting the -20 he has for being an unskilled, overweight klutz, Albert has a 122, the result the Pierrot had when he was stealing the jewels in our last example. Surely our corpulent cat burglar will have his ponies tonight! But wait, the GM ruled that this was an absurd maneuver. Checking the 122 against the “Absurd” column, we find that Albert has only succeeded at 30% of his maneuver. The GM rules that he gets about 1/3 of the way up the rope before his huffing and puffing awaken Ms. Faust and the loud racking of her shotgun means that combat will surely begin soon.

One of the nice things about the system is that there’s always a chance you’ll succeed, small as it may be. The odds of rolling a triple or quadruple open ended are really really slim, but I’ve seen it happen.

---

Next Time: Monte’s Dream, or many of the character classes are either traps or designed for anal retentive GMs who need to extensively stat out every NPC for some reason.

What I need from you: Two stock fantasy characters. We’re going to make two different characters to show how the character creation system works, and how easy it is to fall into traps and make a completely unplayable one if you’re not careful. We can make pretty much anything, provided it falls onto the usual Human-Elf-Dwarf-Hobbit-Half-Orc spectrum of races, so beyond that don’t be afraid to suggest something crazy. I'm sure with a little poking around online you can find a list of the various professions available in RM2, if that's your thing.

Rolemaster is dangerous in its flexibility.

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 08:01 on Nov 21, 2013

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



Hold up. So in Rolemaster, you get a bonus to your roll for being awesome at a thing, and because you're awesome at a thing, it follows that the difficulty of the roll is low?

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

A Half-Orc Barmaid Warrior Monk that was raised by Hobbits on a fishing boat.

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



A human prince, the very image of a chivalric knight-errant in shining armor, well-versed in arts both martial and otherwise.

I like the classics.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007





Runebeard the Resplendent, dwarf master wizard.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Spoilers Below posted:

What I need from you: Two stock fantasy characters. We’re going to make two different characters to show how the character creation system works, and how easy it is to fall into traps and make a completely unplayable one if you’re not careful. We can make pretty much anything, provided it falls onto the usual Human-Elf-Dwarf-Hobbit-Half-Orc spectrum of races, so beyond that don’t be afraid to suggest something crazy. I'm sure with a little poking around online you can find a list of the various professions available in RM2, if that's your thing.

A human spellcaster that specializes in druid style magic and strives to bring order by overthrowing the mafia. His name shall be Giorno Giovanna and he shall be fabulous.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I Forgot To Hail King Torg


Hipster Elf Scholar, who was into everything you like before you were even born.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I played Rolemaster a few times. I started off playing a gladiator sort, I had a net and sword and I jumped into my first melee with a zombie and died in one hit.

For the remaining sessions I created an assassin with poison, bow, arrow, and stealth and stayed the hell away from the thick of combat at all costs.

This has been my Rolemaster experience.

Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.

Siivola posted:

Hold up. So in Rolemaster, you get a bonus to your roll for being awesome at a thing, and because you're awesome at a thing, it follows that the difficulty of the roll is low?

Sort of. I don't have my second edition books (Finnish ones, so I might be using weird terms for some of the concepts) at hand, but I distinctly recall that the difficulties are supposed to be, for the most part, static, but there's a bit in the text that says that if a character repeats a certain type of action enough times then it's okay for the GM to drop that type of action's difficulty down a notch for the character. What that means is that Dwarf Johnson the Dwarven Warrior, after having tried to jump over a 10' chasm a number of times with hilarious consequences (including that one time he tripped on an imaginary turtle), could actually become better at jumping that 10' gap through it having become a routine task for him, even though he hasn't gained a single level nor spent a single skill point on his Jumping skill.

It's a bit weird, but I kinda like this philosophy: difficulties are relative to the character doing them, so a character who tries and tries and tries to get better at something can actually gain a measurable benefit from all that effort that doesn't translate to "You get more XP, now you can level up so you can spend all those points on something unrelated like combat skills."

This isn't the only place where Rolemaster has this sort of feedback loop deal going on: armor comes with a cap on your Speed stat (which you can overcome to an extent by training in the relevant armor skill) and Speed is used to measure how good you are at dodging blows, meaning that the heavier the armor you wear the more likely you are to be hit, but that's okay because heavier armor cushions most of the damage. However, the way the attack tables are built, you already need a lower result on your attack roll to deal damage to a heavily armored opponent, representing the fact that it's easier to hit someone with heavier armor for paltry amounts of damage. So the game factors in the fact that heavy armor is hard to move in in two different places.

The above, I think, is a consequence of the fact that the rules were originally meant to be used as supplements for other RPGs: the Speed cap from armor comes from, IIRC, Character Law, while the combat charts are all in Arms Law. When they started selling Rolemaster as a single boxed set game they probably forgot that they had two rules items in two separate places representing the same basic thing, because up until that point those rules items were meant to be used as optional rules for other RPGs, and probably not both at the same time.

That said, Rolemaster owns, and having typed all of that I want to run it again.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...



Siivola posted:

Hold up. So in Rolemaster, you get a bonus to your roll for being awesome at a thing, and because you're awesome at a thing, it follows that the difficulty of the roll is low?

Sort of.

This depends very much on the quality of your GM. If you've got a good GM, the sort who can take into account who your character is and what they are capable of with their skill set and history, then applying that sliding scale of adjectives to how difficult it would be to seeing that character doing that activity, then yes, you are essentially getting a bonus for being good at the skill.

This helps a great deal in the lower levels, where, as you'll see in the next day or so when we do character creation, it's actually pretty hard to get your skill numbers up into the 60+ range unless you've rolled really high stats, which is why the light and easy maneuvers start to give you 100% success on rolls of 65-70. At level 1, you're basically a glorified poo poo farmer, so most of your static actions are going to prove impossible until you've got some expierence under your belt.

If you've got Jason "Spent a part of the morning tying my mouse to my hand by the cord and figuring out how tricky it was to get the thing back in my hand. Its not impossible.. but its not a swift action." Bulmahn for a GM, you're never going to see the Routine-Light side of that chart, and you should probably find a new GM.

  • Locked thread