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papasyhotcakes
Oct 18, 2008


Excuse me fine fellows but I have been searching the internet to buy the latest Paranoia Troubleshooter Source book, preferably as a PDF, but no one seems to carry either the book or a digital version anymore, I have found it on Amazon and on Ebay but for outrageous prices, and Moongose only seems to have the High Programmer Edition, does anyone know where I could buy it?

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JohnOfOrdo3
Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid


papasyhotcakes posted:

Excuse me fine fellows but I have been searching the internet to buy the latest Paranoia Troubleshooter Source book, preferably as a PDF, but no one seems to carry either the book or a digital version anymore, I have found it on Amazon and on Ebay but for outrageous prices, and Moongose only seems to have the High Programmer Edition, does anyone know where I could buy it?

If you're in the uk, then Travelling Man can sort you out for £29.99. Plus whatever postage expenses there are. If you're elsewhere though then I can't really help you.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Well if I'm going to be up all night I may as well post the next exciting installment of



PART 5: EXALTATIONS

Today, we're getting musical.

What are Exalted?

The short answer is someone who has somehow moved beyond normality and mortality. The long answer is a bit more complex. Every Exalt is someone who has been "blessed" in some way that removes mortal concerns for them. Maybe they were born special like the Atlantean, maybe they were turned into something inhuman like the Promethean, or maybe they were "blessed" in only the loosest sense like the Daemonhost. Whatever the cause, they're something rare and unique that has been infused with the power to shape history.

Exaltation is also something that greatly defines who the Exalt is. It's intrinsically linked to them to the point that nothing can take it away from the Exalt without outright killing them. It's also never "wasted" on someone unworthy. There are no Chosen who do not follow their god, there are no Vampires who don't drink blood, and there are no Paragons who do not fight the odds. Exalts are immortal movers and shakers of the Great Wheel and they are by definition willing and able to use what they have.

Exalted Powers and Tells

Every Exalt has 3 sets of abilities. The first is their Base Powers which consist of 4 strengths and weaknesses universal to the Exalt type. These include things like a Werewolf's shapeshifting, but also their silver weakness. Second is their Power Stat which is a measure of how much the've refined their Exaltation. Each dot in a Power Stat give the Exalt a new Power. An Exalt's Power Stat is capped at the Exalt's level. Lastly, is their Resource which is a measure of how much "exaltedness" they can draw on at the moment. Every Exalt type has as different way of recovering Resource and determining how much of it they can hold, but they can all spend 1 Resource to:
  • Heal 1 HP
  • Add +1k0 to a skill Test
  • Gain an extra Reaction Action
  • Recover from being Stunned or Dazed
Healing can only be done outside of combat and every other use is limited to spending 1 Resource per dot in the Exalt's Power Stat.

Exalts also have a Tell that marks them as superhuman. Normally, people throughout the Great Wheel are so eclectic that nobody really notices if you avoid the sun, wear huge Dracula capes, and go "Bleigh!" all the time, but Tells are a dead giveaway. Every Exalt has it's own Tell that appears when they use Resource and grows more apparent the more they use it. After spending 1 Resource, the Exalt's Tell faintly appears (TN 20 Perception+Wisdom to notice), at 2 it becomes impossible to miss, at 4 it turns into an aura so blatant it could light a room or smother campfires depending on its nature, and at 6 it becomes truly epic and is often visible from low orbit. The different types of Tell are as follows:
  • Atlanteans begin glowing golden with Syrneth magic and an avatar of their past life appears around them.
  • Chosen cause the symbol of their god appear and an aura to form around them in the favored colors of their deity.
  • Daemonhosts make vile marks appear on their skin and their forms twist with mutation.
  • Paragons cause no blatantly visible effect, but a noticeable charisma that draws the eye of more and more people.
  • Prometheans make more gadgets appear and obvious mechanisms and crackling power appear from their bodies.
  • Vampires grow more pale and their fangs become more and more prominent.
  • Werewolves develop patches of fur and grow wolflike ears and a tail. Tattoos glow brightly with silver light.
Tells vanish at the end of a Scene.

Exalted Types

The first Exalts are Atlanteans who are the ancient Syrne reborn among the mortal races.


It was the fashion at the time!

Most Atlanteans start their lives as children with nothing strange about them aside from an odd knack for magic, but they eventually start remembering snippets of their past lives and begin to tap in to the strange immortal power inside of them. Atlanteans' Power Stat is Gnosis which represents hoqw in tune they are with their Syrneth past life and their Resource is Motes and they get Charisma+Intelligence+(Gnosis*2). Thier Base Powers are Magical Aptitude which gives them a free rank in one Magical School of their choice, let's them buy more ranks in it as though it were always on their Class's progression list, and roll twice whenever checking for Psychic Phenomena (random magical effects) and pick which one happens or let both happen, Prestidigitation which lets them cause minor and harmless magical effects, Past Lives which makes all Skills Basic for them and lets them start know how to speak Syrneth, and Paradox which causes them to form a point of Paradox every time they spend Motes that has to be unraveled back into Motes by either meditating for an hour per Paradox or by simply letting a Psychic Phenomena happen as a Free Action. Keeping a 9 on a magic Test causes them to automatically do it the fast way. Atlantean Gnosis powers have a few Skill Specialty improving effects, but they're mostly magic improving effects like Empower Spell which let's them spend a Mote to count their Level and rank in the relevant Magic School count as 3 on their next magic Test. Atlanteans have no obvious differences between themselves and mortals beyond a strange fashion sense and have no true culture of their own. They are refugees of time with strange ancient sensibilities creeping in to their minds. Players are advised to pick up magic focused classes and Syrne style equipment. GMs looking to refluff Atlanteans are reminded that magic is the key to what makes Atlanteans what they are and one possible way to adapt them is to change the Syrne spirit into something else like an ancient ghost or an idealized avatar of what the exalt could potentially be.

Next are Chosen who are the living saints and messiahs of their gods. They are hand picked by the gods to be champions and personal agents who answer only to the deities they serve. Their Power Stat is Faith which represents how favored they are by their god and their Resource is Favor and they get Devotion+Fath. Their Base Powers are Conviction which caps their Faith at half their Devotion rounded up in addition to the Level cap, Redeemed which let's them survive certain death through direct divine intervention by burning a point of Faith, Divine Power which lets them spend 1 Favor to change any one die result they roll to their Devotion or less so long as it isn't an Alignment Test (Devotion loss basically), and Leeway which let's them add their Faith to Alignment Tests. Their Faith powers start off with a few survival tricks, but ultimately turn to giving Chosen new ways to store, regain, and use Favor. Chosen often acquire feature reminiscent of their gods and slowly grow towards the higher end of their species' measurement (in more ways than just height ). They usually have strong ties to their gods church and are held up as role models to aspiring acolytes. Players are advised to pick up a class with religious ties. GMs looking to refluff Chosen are discouraged from doing so because it'd be hard to justify but told that hey, if you wanna make them proto-gods or something, go nuts.

Next are Daemonhosts are the unluckiest of of the Exalts since they're what happens when a powerful warp entity resurrects a dying mortal and but doesn't quite manage to take control. Even though the new Exalt is technically still themselves the daemon still adds a fair bit of itself to its host making Daemonhosts something of a dark mirror to the Atlanteans. Their Power Stat is Arcanoi which represents how warp tainted they've let themselves become and their Resource is Essence and they get Willpower+Charisma+(Arcanoi*2). Their Base Powers are Demonic Tutor which gives them a free rank in a Magical School and the ability to always progress in it just like Atlanteans, Unholy Might which lets them spend Essence to add their Arcanoi to their Magical School rank for magic Tests, Rejected by Creation which causes them to gain Resonance when they spend Essence that they turn back into Essence by sacrificing a point of HP as a Free Action, but Testing Willpower (TN of 10+[Resonance*2]) let's them prevent the damage and still regain Essence and just like Atlanteans keeping a 9 on a magic Test forces this roll, and Feeding which gives them a bite attack that does 1k1 Rending damage and lets them safely convert Resonance back to Essence for every point of damage they inflict with it. Daemonhost Arcanoi powers warp the body in strange ways allowing Daemonhosts to shrug off nonmagical and nonsilver attacks, raise their Characteristics up to 6, and even hover. Daemonhosts often resemble tieflings in both appearance and attitude but those with Order daemons in them tend to become more like hosed up aasimar. Daemonhosts have no real culture of their own since daemons flee the warp to escape other daemons and thus discourage their hosts from congregating. Players are advised to come up with a set of daemonic urges for them to roleplay. GMs looking to refluff Daemonhosts could make them into experiments gone wrong or even corrupted Atlanteans.

Next are Paragons who are the best around and nothing's ever going to keep them down!

And if you'll look just off to the right you'll see the god he just killed

They are the geniuses of their race who can push rationality and probability to the extreme with nothing but gumption and hard work. They exalted not because of the gods or some mutation but because they're just awesome and have unlimited potential. Their Power Stat is Excellence which represents how badass they are and their Resource is Action Points and they get Level+Excellence and recover them at the start of each session. Their Base Powers are Destiny which gives them 2 extra Hero Points at starting, Statuesque which lets them apply their racial Characteristic bonus to both choices instead of just one, Flash which makes them immune to surprise, and Perfection which gives them 1 Racial Feat for free. Thier Excellence powers are a bit weird because they technically don't have a 1 dot power but still get the benefit of one in the form of Pressure which acts as a pseudo Resource. You get 3 times your Excellence in Pressure and you recover 1 every time you take damage or when an opponent spends a point of Resource, Pressure, or a Hero Point and they fully refresh at the start of every Scene. They can only be spent to give yourself a flat +1 to a skill roll total but you can spend as many as you have. The other powers require appropriate music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSS5dEeMX64
  • Swift as the Coursing River - When a Paragon attempts and succeeds a 2-die Stunt or higher, they recover one Action Point.
  • All the Force of a Great Typhoon - In battle, a Paragon is constantly pushing themselves to greater heights. At the start of a Paragon's turn, they recover Pressure Points equal to their Excellence.
  • Strength of a Raging Fire - While stunting, a Paragon's dice explode on a roll of 9 or 10 instead of just 10.
  • Mysterious as the Dark Side of the Moon - Whenever a Paragon uses a stunt on a test and succeeds, all allies attempting the same test (that is, using the same action) before the Paragon's next turn gain a bonus on their result equal to the number of Pressure Points the Paragon spent on her test.
Can you tell why I like Paragons so much? Paragons look like the epitome of their race only 20% cooler because that's what they are. They earned every bit of their power through sweat and elbow grease and it shows. Paragons tend to draw a lot of attention and often feel a sense of camaraderie with each other so they naturally form strong cults of personality around each other with more heroic Paragons turning these gathering into elite tasks forces that fight the good fight. Players are advised to learn how to Stunt and make good use of their Pressure and Action Points. GMs looking to refluff Paragons could make them genetically engineered super-soldiers or hapless fools blessed by the fates.

Next are Prometheans who are bleeding edge cyborgs with special power cores called Pyros Reactors. Entire nations sink the majority of their fortunes in to creating just a single Promethean and always expect a good return on their investment. Their Power Stat is Generation which represents how many cycles of R&D and upgrading they've gone through and their Resource is Pyros and they get Generation*3 and regeneration at a rate of 1 point per hour. Their Base Powers are Living Construct which rids them of the need to eat, drink, breathe or sleep and grants immunity to fatigue, poison, and disease, Refitting which denies them natural and Resource based healing but lets them anyone make a Crafts+Intelligence Test to repair them, Disquiet which inflicts a -2k1 penalty to all social Tests with mortals, and Superlative Constitution which does away with Critical Chart whenever they take Critical Damage and instead destroys any limb that reaches 5 Critical Damage with a destroyed to Head or Body knocking them out and destroyed Gizzards killing them. Promethean Generation powers are pretty varied starting with natural Armor and then moving on to Tardis-like weapon storage, boosting stats with Pyros, absorbing Energy damage, and finally letting them turn into giant mecha. Prometheans tend to look like either normal people with a hint of uncanny valley or big clanky masses of metal depending on their origins. Prometheans rarely gather in large groups due to the expense of creating them but they are often integrated high in the hierarchy of whichever group built them. Players are advised to make sure they have a way to repair themselves and remember take their origins in to consideration when they choose Backgrounds. GMs looking to refluff Prometheans could make them into necromantic constructs or the like.

Next are Vampires who are living dead cursed to drink blood and stalk the night due to the Slaanesh tainted shard of the dead Eldarin god Khaine trapped inside of them. They're considered the weakest of the Exalted but anyone who earns the favor of a vampire can become one just by accepting the Embrace. Their Power Stat is Blood Potency which represents how in tune they are with Khaine and their Resource is Vitae and they get Blood Potency*5. Their Base Powers are Old Money which gives them 4 extra points worth of Backgrounds at starting, Undead Resilience which removes the need for air or mundane sustenance and makes them unkillable except by Energy Damage, Explosive Damage, silver weapons, or magical attacks, Sunlight Weakness which makes them lose 1 HP to Energy Damage every round they spend in direct sunlight without heavy clothing or dark shade to protect them, and Blood Dependency which grants them a bite attack that does 1k1 Rending damage and lets them fatigue a conscious mortal, kill an unconscious mortal, or drain 1 point of Resource from an Exalt to recover 1 Vitae but forces them to spend 1 Vitae at the start of each night to maintain consciousness. Blood Potency powers grant either passive benifits like the ability to see in the dark or let them spend Vitae to gain special boosts or powers. Vampires tend to look like sickly versions of their mortal selves and have tiny fangs that grow long and sharp whenever they feed. Vampires form massive mafia-like societies where they pool money and people to nefarious ends. Some of the more powerful gatherings even build secret space stations to escape prying eyes. Players are advised to take advantage of the lack of harmful sunlight in deep space and but always keep their hunger in mind. GMs looking to refluff Vampires could make them bizarre alien parasites or succubi that feed on life energy.

Last are Werewolves who are the shapechanging agents of Luna the goddess of nature.

Still not as ugly as Shigechi

They are either blessed by Luna directly or descended from those who were. Their Power Stat is Feral Heart which represents how in tune they are with their predatory nature and their Resource is Rage and they get Composure+Willpower+Level and regenerate an amount equal to their Feral Heart at the start of every fight and every moonrise. Their Base Powers are Shifting which grants them a Wolf form they can enter as a Full Action for free and a War form that also takes a Full Action and a point of Rage on top of that, Lycan Resilience which lets them spend Rage to recover HP as a Free Action and grants their alternate forms Armor equal to their Feral Heart that is pierced by Energy Damage, Explosive Damage, silver weapons, and magical attacks, Spirit Tongue which lets them speak to Spirits fluently, and Silver Bane which halves their Size when calculating damage from silver. Feral Heart powers improve their shapeshifting by granting rapid healing and making it go faster as well as giving them new ways to interact with spirits. Werewolves usually have mithral traceries etched across their skin and often have a predatory air about them. Werewolves tend to gather in large tribes to safeguard plots of land declared sacred to Luna. Players are advised to dabble in several areas of expertise to make sure they're never caught off guard by any situation. GMs looking to refluff Werewolves could simply change whatever creature they change into or make them henshin heroes if they want to really up the gonzo.

And that's all for Exaltation. Again, I won't be posting any material from Book 2 until I get to Book 2. If you have any questions or want to me to highlight something I glossed over then post away. Until next time, enjoy the melodious tones of Jackie Chan.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2Fox6v-L8k

Next time: Rat catching in the 41st Millenium

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011



You know, I was just thinking of commenting on how you didn't bring up the alternate rules for Atlanteans and Daemonhosts if they're aligned with Khorne. But after a short bit of thinking about all the footnotes and explanations I'd have to include to make the reason for the change and what it actually means clear . . . yeah, I can see why you'd probably leave it for later.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


It's a pity you're leaving the book 2 exalts for later because my favorite stolen thing in all of DtD is in one of them.

Tulul
Oct 23, 2013


Cyphoderus posted:

You can nab a Simple Power that gives you irresistible soft fur to your Therianthropies, and make people fall in love madly with your horrendous murderous battle forms.

I can't help but love the bishounen werewolf power.



Chapter 5: Character Descriptors

If you'll think back to the "adjective noun verb" structure, this is the adjective. They modify your Pools, provide training in skills, and offer other various other benefits. Some of them give you inabilities, which just work like negative skills. If you have a skill in something that you also have an inability in, they cancel out.

They also have four little one-sentence story hooks to help guide you into the adventure, which would be a good idea if they weren't the laziest loving things. "There is a reward involved, and you need the money." shows up seven times, to give you an idea.



There are twelve of these things, and they are:

Charming: You get a +2 bonus to your Intellect pool (Intellect is also Charisma, remember) and training in "positive or pleasant social interaction", but you're a weak-willed dumbass who isn't good at book-learning. You also get a contact, +10 starting money, and get an influential contact of some sort. You're also trained in numenera that mind-control people, which is slightly skeevy.

Clever: Another +2 to Intellect, but you're trained in defending against mental attacks. You do, however, get a c/p'd weakness to book-learning. Also training in lies and analyzing and the same +10 shins to start.

Graceful: +2 to Speed and training in balancing, physical performing arts, and Speed defense tasks. Pretty boring.

Intelligent: +2 Intellect, knowledge and memory training. Really boring.

Learned: +2 Intellect, training in three areas of knowledge, two starting books, and you are a gigantic who has no idea how to talk to other people.

Mystical/Mechanical: +2 Intellect, training in numenera, and "sense 'magic'", which lets you find active numenera. You also get the Hedge Magic esotery for free, an additional oddity to start, and a funky body odor or a weird eye twitch that makes everyone not want to talk to you.

Rugged: Training with animals, plants, and climbing/jumping/running/swimming. You also get some additional starting equipment and you act like a socially retarded dumbass in a three wolf moon t-shirt.

Stealthy: +2 Speed, and training in stealth, lying, and numenera illusions. All of that crouching has done hell on your knees, though, so you suck at "movement-related tasks". Hope your GM doesn't interpret stealth as movement!

Strong: +4 Might, training in breaking poo poo and jumping, and an additional weapon. Boring.

Strong-Willed: +4 Intellect, training in mental defenses and concentration, and you suck at logic and memorization, for some reason.

Swift: +4 Speed and training in initiative and running. You run like a gigantic klutz, though, so you suck at balancing.

Tough: +1 Armor, you're better at recovering from injury, training in Might defense actions, and an extra light weapon for some reason.

So, to recap, if you were to roll a d12 to determine your character descriptor, there's a 50% chance you're either a socially maladjusted weirdo or just an idiot.



Chapter 6: Character Focus

The verb in the character statement. These are much more involved than the descriptors and there are a whole 29 of them. They grant you an additional special ability at each tier, some possible bonus starting equipment, a suggested appearance, and a connection to the other PCs that is actually kind of interesting! Unfortunately, some of them are... really poorly thought out. Also, the return of GM intrusions in suggestions for each focus. These are easily the least terrible they get in the book, but most of them are still pretty bad.

Bears A Halo of Fire

You can create an aura of flames around yourself, eventually gaining the ability to throw fireballs, create a giant hand of fire, cover your weapons in flames, create fire tentacles, and summon a fire elemental. All Intellect-based. If you use esoteries, all of them are fire-themed.

You get an artifact spray-can that makes inanimate objects fireproof (no restrictions on usage) and your Connection is that one other PC is completely immune to your fire. You wear red or yellow like a low-rent Batman villain.

Carries a Quiver

You're an archer! You can deal more damage with a bow, use Intellect points on bow attacks, and you can raise the difficulty of a target's checks by one by firing two arrows at them. You also get training and eventual specialization in archery and fletching, but not in bowyering for some reason. Uses all three stats and is quite boring. Fighters still get the shaft. sorry

You start off with a nice bow and 24 arrows. You have two Connections, one of which is terrible, one which is not. See if you can guess which is which!

quote:

Connection: Pick one other PC to be the true friend who gave you the excellent bow that you currently use. Secretly pick a second PC (preferably one who is likely to get in the way of your attacks). When you miss with a bow and the GM rules that you struck someone other than your target, you hit the second character, if possible.

Not going to cause problems at all, no sirree.

Commands Mental Powers

Telepathy! You can talk to other people's brains, read minds, inflict Intellect damage in a burst, borrow other people's senses, straight-up mind control people, and link a bunch of people together in network. All Intellect based.

Your powers are impossible to detect just by looking at you, but you have a crystal duct-taped to your forehead, so that's going to narrow it down a bit. Said crystal is an artifact that gives you +1 Intellect points when it's on your forehead or temple, but takes 5 away if you lose it. Your Connection is that one other PC is constantly in contact with you when you're in short range and is immune to your psychic attacks.

Controls Beasts

The Druid ghetto. You get an animal companion that levels up as you do, the ability to calm animals and eventually control them, a low-grade Doctor Dolittle ability, a mount (separate from the companion), the ability to see through your companion's eyes, and the ability to summon a bunch of lesser animals to help out. Intellect-based.

You get food for your animal companion and a harness or other such gear. Your Connection is, well:

quote:

Connection: Pick one other PC. That character seems to disturb your creatures in a way that you can’t explain. You know that you must keep your animals away from him if possible, or you might lose control of them.

Who seriously wrote this and thought it was good idea? (It was Monte Cook.)

Controls Gravity

What it sounds like. All of your abilities are Intellect-based. You can hover, attack people with gravity for 6 damage, gain complete immunity to ranged attacks for a round, flat-out fly, and win every encounter by yourself:

quote:

You can increase a target’s weight dramatically. The target is pulled to the ground and can’t move physically under its own power for one minute. The target must be within short range. For each level of Effort applied, you can affect one additional creature. Action.

Game balance! You also get +1 Speed Edge at tier 2 and an oddity that lets you determine the weight of things. Your Connection is that you almost killed another PC with your powers recently. They figure out how they feel about it. You wear "billowy garments that display your mastery of gravity’s pull and conceal your identity and intentions." I can't imagine any way that doesn't make you look like a total rear end in a top hat.

quote:

Controls Gravity GM Intrusions: Many people are frightened to be around someone who controls gravity. Losing command of such powers could inadvertently send objects careening off into the sky, perhaps even into orbit.

I am going to be fair and admit that I kind of love the idea of "Glaive, your sword is now in orbit".



Crafts Illusions

You're a magician, but not the cool kind. You can create illusions, starting at ten-feet and moving up to a mile at tier 6. You can disguise yourself, create illusory doubles, and end encounters by making every single enemy run away! You have to make an attack roll this time, though, so it's moderately less broken. All Intellect-based.

If you have esoteries, they are "psychedelic". You get a mini-TV as an oddity and you dress like a peacock. Your Connection is that one other PC is immune to your illusions. You may or may not know this.

Crafts Unique Objects

Part Craft (Basketweaving), part useless, and part broken, depending entirely on how much spare time you have. You get training in crafting four different kinds of mundane items (or specialization in two), +1 to the level of an artifact you wield if you have a day to tinker with it, +1 to the level of all cyphers you wield, and the ability to make any cypher into any other cypher in a week. Also:

quote:

You can modify any artifact to give it different or better abilities as if that artifact were one level lower than normal, and doing so takes half the normal time to modify a device. Enabler.

You can create new artifacts in half the time, as if they were two levels lower, by spending half the normal XP. Enabler.

So how much time does it take to create or modify artifacts? Well, crafting times start at a week for a "common numenera item", like a glorified flashlight. A "simple" numenera will run you a month. A normal numenera is going to run you a year or "many years". Simply modifying something is still going to take you a month, at best. So unless you have absolutely no time constraints, you're moderately useless. If you do, you're pretty overpowered.

You also get some tools and a lovely additional item you could make. Your Connection is that you made something for another PC, they get to pick what.

Employs Magnetism

Magneto in a polo with the company logo on it, with a little tag that says "Owner". You can move, destroy, and reshape metal. You get training in Speed defense tasks against attacks using metal, complete immunity to metallic ranged attacks for a round, and your top-tier ability lets you use your powers on anything by magnetizing it. Intellect-based.

Your Connection is that one other PC has all of the metal on their body jingle when you use your powers. Don't be a dick and pick the thief.

Entertains

I don't have a joke here, these are bards. You get bardic knowledge, a pretty lovely Inspire Competence (1/day/PC), and fascinate. Intellect-based.

You start off with an instrument or whatever else you need to perform, and your Connection is:

quote:

Connection: Pick one other PC. This character is your worst critic. Your abilities to help or inspire others don’t function for her.



Exists Partially Out of Phase

I just figured out the requisite godawful pun in Kitty Pryde's name, which makes me feel kind of dumb. Anyway, you can walk through walls, phase through attacks, ignore armor, and go completely ghosty. Intellect-based. Your Connection is that one of the other PCs helped you figure out how to use your abilities.



Explores Dark Places

Not gonna touch that one. The fluff suggests Indiana Jones, but the reality is that this is the Thief mark one, dungeon-crawling edition. You're trained at exploration-type tasks, lockpicking, tinkering with devices, escape artist, dodging, and contortionist tasks. You can see in the dark, sneak better in the dark, and blind someone if you have a light source. That last one is Speed-based.

If you have esoteries, the make no sound and have shadowy visual manifestations. You get some additional explorer's gear to start and your Connection is that one other PC was previously your adventuring companion (you get a small mechanical boost when you work together).

Fights with Panache

Buckler of swashes. You can inspire others just by fighting, parry better and for others, perform daring maneuvers, make acrobatic attacks, and use your Intellect pool in place of your Speed pool. Speed-based.

You start off with stylish clothes and a blinged-out weapon, and your Connection is that you're constantly trying to impress another PC. I like this one. The Intrusion is pretty bad, though:

quote:

Fights With Panache GM Intrusions: Looking silly, clumsy, or unattractive can be the swashbuckler’s greatest fear.

Looking kind of silly is equivalent to stabbing a LaGrange point, apparently.

Focuses Mind Over Matter

Telekinesis, plain and simple. You can deflect attacks, move stuff around, boost your own strength, attack people by chucking stuff at them, and reshape matter. You can also teleport anything to your hand from the standard item list, which is already pretty good, or 1/day let the GM randomly determine it for you, which gives you a 20% chance of getting a numenera of some sort. Intellect-based.

Your Connection is:

quote:

Connection: Pick one other PC. This character can cause your telekinetic powers to act oddly. Every once in a while, if he stands directly next to you, your powers are cancelled, but at other times, they seem improved when used near him.

There are no mechanics attached to this, so flip a coin, I guess? At least it's not actively antagonistic towards another PC.

Fuses Flesh and Steel

Cyborgs! You gain a no-frills bonus to your stats, the ability to plug yourself into machinery, a built-in weapon, the ability to fuse with numenera, and another straight-up bonus to your stats. A total of +2 Armor, +8 Might/Speed, and +5 Intellect. In exchange, the first five points of damage you take can only be healed by repairing yourself.

You start with some tools and repair parts, and your Connection is that one other PC knows your true nature or another related secret of yours.

Next Time: Mechanically superior werewolves!

Tulul fucked around with this message at 04:57 on Nov 25, 2013

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Ah, Dragonlance, a grand setting with humble beginnings. The setting's creators, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, came up with the fictional world during a car trip, and were hired later by TSR to write adventures. Around this time there was plenty of information on dungeons in RPG sourcebooks, but not so much on Dragons. Hickman suggested a series of linked adventures, and the design team decided that a series of novels should accompany it.

And thus the Dragonlance Chronicles were born. The setting proved wildly popular, even beyond the Dungeons & Dragons fandom, earning a spot on the New York Times' Bestseller list. For a time it even shared a spotlight with the established Forgotten Realms as a popular setting.

Of course the series had its controversy as well. Many chided the original modules as railroady, the kender race proved a hit with disruptive Chaotic Stupid players, and the "update" to the setting's 5th Age and temporary abandonment of the D&D ruleset rivaled our modern Edition Wars in dividing the fanbase. But the world and its stories still holds a place in the hobby's history for being revolutionary for its time, examining what a world functioning under the D&D ruleset would be like, and popularizing the "epic journey to save the world" model as a campaign concept.

Love it or hate it, there are few other settings like Dragonlance.


The Dragonlance Campaign Setting is a 3.5 sourcebook, published by Wizards of the Coast in 2003. Technically a 1st-party book, it received no further official support, with the production of future sourcebooks delegated to Margaret Weis in charge of Sovereign Press. It was this book I was first introduced to the world of Dragonlance.

Introduction

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Welcome, friend, to the world of Krynn. Step into the River of Time and let it carry you along its slow-moving current as it wends its way through the history of the continent of Ansalon. Be a part of that history, as you join the never-ending struggle between chaos and order. On Krynn, the Gods of Good and Evil war eternally, joined in the battle by mortal beings such as yourself and Krynn's true children-the dragons.

You may journey with wizards as they risk their lives to take the test that can grant them great power. You may quest with brave knights to prove their honor and worth or discover heroes in ordinary people who fight for their homes and loved ones. Your travels will take you through lands of mysterious ruins populated by terrifying creatures. You may fly on the backs of dragons in the service of your cause, be it good or evil.

The continent of Ansalon is a land of marvelous beauty with a rich and fascinating history. You can choose to fight on the side of good, serve the cause of evil, or work to maintain the balance of the world. You may restore lost knowledge to the people or search for powerful magic artifacts to aid your struggle. You will face the awesome power of enemy wyrms and soar the skies on the backs of dragons that serve your cause.

Welcome to the Dragonlance campaign.

The book's beginning gives an overview of Dragonlance and its major themes, along with some pertinent setting information. Basically the history of the world is divided into Five Ages: the Age of Starbirth, an era of prehistory when there were only Gods and souls creating the world; the Age of Dreams, a distant age of legend, rise and fall of the first empires, discovery of magic, birth of the mortal races, etc; the Age of Might, when the mighty Empire of Istar rose and fell in its zeal to cleanse the world of evil; the Age of Despair, begun when the wrath of the Gods brought about the Cataclysm and retreated from the world; and the Age of Mortals, the current age where the people now no longer need rely upon the Gods for magic, an era where five titanic Dragon Overlords reshaped the land to their whims. The last two Ages (Despair and Mortals) are the ones with the most in-game support and detail, both within living memory (the Age of Mortals began 30 years before the current date).

The setting takes place on the continent of Ansalon, which is on the planet of Krynn. Ansalon is located in the southern hemisphere and measures 1,300 miles west to east and 1,000 miles north to south. It was a large, unbroken landmass originally, but the Cataclysm at the end of the Third Age fractured it. Despite its relatively small size there are many unexplored regions, from monster-filled wilderness to inhospitable wastelands and mountain ranges. The continent of Taladas is far to the northeast of Ansalon, home to many of the same races, though the societies have progressed separately. The good-aligned metallic dragons claim the Dragon Isles to the north of Ansalon as their ancestral homeland, and almost all of them left Ansalon in a self-imposed exile during the Age of Despair.

There's also a short blurb on Krynn's races, but since they're part of Chapter One we'll skip that and talk about the Campaign.

Two themes are integral to Dragonlance. Epic Fantasy is a genre of high adventure, where the PCs take part in grand struggles and whose deeds pass into myth and legend. Even small adventures can have wider consequences down the line, and PCs who attain higher levels have the chance to make a living mark upon Krynn's history.

The other major theme is the Conflict of Good and Evil. Although Dragonlance uses the nine-fold Alignment axis, Good, Evil, and Balance (Neutrality) are the major cosmic forces. Neither can exist without the other, and even if one side appears victorious for long (such as in the Age of Might or Despair), the cosmic pendulum might swing to the other side. Individuals are chosen to champion the cause of moral forces, even in an unwitting role. But even then mortals can defy the gods and forge their own destinies, like Raistlin did in the Legends trilogy. Although Good and Evil are absolute forces, the workings of the world and the choices people make can redeem corrupt villains or even corrupt causes with good intent.

Libertad's Notes: This is what separates Dragonlance from many other settings, for both good and ill. While one could probably try running a "standard" D&D campaign of dungeon delvers, it isn't really designed for it. However, as evidenced by the Original Chronicles and Key of Destiny, it is a very friendly setting to world-saving heroics and PCs deciding the fate of Ansalon long-term. The game is a low-magic world, and although PCs encounter plenty of magic and monsters, a lot of the setting was designed to make the major events stand out that much more. There's no real magic item shops beyond spell components and scrolls/potions/wand stuff, as permanent magic items are supposed have their own legacies and stories behind them. Arcane magic is tightly regulated by the Wizards of High Sorcery for its destructive potential, although the mages of the remaining Tower of Wayreth have enough power to even repel a would-be Godling. Several countries are idyllic and go through periods of peace, only to be besieged by a hostile outside force for the PCs to protect them against (Silvanesti, Solamnia, Hylo). In the non-eventful times they're not really packed with adventure opportunity, sort of like the Shire in the Lord of the Rings.

Basically, Dragonlance is suited for a more epic, Tolkienish style of gameplay in comparison to settings like Eberron, where danger and intrigue lurks behind every corner and greed and glory are just as reasonable motivations as heroism. I would not describe it as a weakness so much as a quirk which distinguishes the setting style.



Dragonlance Campaign Setting Chapter One: Races

Now we start into the book proper. Here we look at the major (and some minor) races of Krynn and briefly into their personalities and culture.



The Humans are one of the three elder races of Krynn. Created by Gilean and the Gods of Balance, humans were the first race to be gifted with free will and are known for their variety and ambitiousness in contrast with their short lives. Generally humans are divided into the categories of "Civilized" (agricultural, urban and higher technology level) and "Nomadic" (hunter-gatherer, closer to nature spirits) humans, but even then these are more arbitrary categories. The Nomadic humans might be viewed as more primitive and barbarous, but have just as intricate histories and customs, and some even have their own great cities (the Khur in particular). Nomadic humans, however, are more suspicious of outsiders given that their homes traditionally did not have as much contact with other groups.

Prominent civilized human groups include the Abanisinians (frontier folk, have a history of turning to false gods), Ergothians (powerful nation of mariners in western Ansalon), Kharolians (southwest Ansalon, friendlier to Wizards due to close proximity to the Tower, keep extensive genealogical records), Solamnics (lawful good nation of chivalric knights), Nerakans (descendents of the ancient Istarans, live in Neraka and are the "bad guy" nation of the setting), and Nordmen (live in humid jungles of the north, known for their horses).

Prominent nomadic human groups include Abanisinian Plainsfolk (based off of real-world Great Plains Native Americans), the Khurish people (based off of nomadic Arab tribes), Nordmaarian Horselords (live in the plains of Nordmaar), Sea Folk (or Saifhumi, ply the waters of northeast Ansalon), the Ice Folk (far south of Ansalon, live in igloos and navigate tundras with giant wind-powered sleds), and Taman Busuk nomads (live in the mountains of Neraka, recruited into the Dragon Empire's armies during the Age of Despair). Nomads are also more likely to worship Chislev, goddess of nature.

All humans, both civilized and nomadic, speak Common and one regional dialect. There isn't much more to say about humanity as a whole without delving into the various ethnic groups. I might detail them later in Chapter Six: Geography of Ansalon.



The Dwarves are an industrious people who traditionally live in underground kingdoms. They were one of the races created when the Graygem of Gargath cracked in the Age of Dreams from Gnomish stock. Dwarves are proud of their facial hair, have extensive ties to family and clan, and are primarily Lawful Neutral (as opposed to Lawful Good in most settings). The primary dwarven kingdoms are Thorbadin and Thoradin, although there are scattered communities across Ansalon. Reorx, God of the Forge, is their most popular deity. "By Reorx's beard!" is a common saying uttered in dwarven halls.

Dwarves are further divided into mountain dwarves, hill dwarves, dark dwarves, and gully dwarves. Mountain dwarves are those clans who remained within Thorbadin. They include the Hylar (Highest), the oldest of the clans and are the nobles of the mountain dwarves; the Daewar (Dearest), a clan of proud warriors; and the Klar, a clan of hill dwarves trapped within Thorbadin when the realm was sealed off from the rest of the world. They were an oppressed underclass, allowed only most menial jobs and confined to impoverished sections of town, and their wiry beards and darting eyes gave them an undeserved reputation as madmen.

The Hill Dwarves are all of the Neidar (Nearest) clan. When the Cataclysm rocked the world, many dwarves living above Thorbadin rushed to the kingdom in desparate need of food. The kingdom did not have enough resources to care for them, and kept them out. This led to bitterness and hatred which erupted into the Dwarfgate Wars as the Neidar attempted to fight their way into Thorbadin, but failed. A people without a home, the Neidar lived among non-dwarven communities and in their own towns, nursing a longstanding grudge against their mountain dwarf brethren.

The wizard Fistandantalus, who fought on the Neidar side, betrayed them and created a magical cataclysm which killed thousands on both sides. Thus the overall dwarven hatred and distrust for wizards.

The Dark Dwarves are two clans of mountain dwarves who live deeper than others, completely in darkness. They are known for being evil and treacherous, and are much paler than others of their kind. The Theiwar (Thankless) clan became allergic to sunlight sometime around the Age of Dreams. They are very fair-skinned and have a knack for arcane magic. The Daegar (Deepest) clan were once noble mountain dwarves, but sided with rebel Theiwar and were banished with them to the deeper reaches.

Dark Dwarves have all the traits of PHB dwarves, except they have -4 Charisma, longer sight of Darkvision, racial bonuses on Hide, Listen and Move Silently checks, take penalties to rolls under bright sunlight, and have Rogue as a favored class. They’re definitely geared towards stealthier characters, but the light sensitivity is a big hindrance for most campaigns.

Which brings us to Gully Dwarves. They are of clan Aghar (Anguished), and are one of the 3 comic relief races of Dragonlance and thus hated by a lot of gamers. Basically gully dwarves are believed to be the result of gnome-dwarf interbreeding in the distant Age of Dreams, inheriting the worst traits of both. They earned their name for their poor status and living conditions.

Gully Dwarves live amid the ruins, sewers, and other places untouched by the other races of Ansalon. Their lives revolved around simple survival, of hunting and scrounging food most of the time. They are incredibly stupid, most being unable to count past 2 (which is anything more than 1 to them). They believe themselves to be abandoned by Reorx and thus worship no Gods. They're mostly Chaotic Neutral, having no code of rules beyond survival and not cared for by either side of Good or Evil. Instead they appeal to ancestral spirits they believe live in objects; a dead rat or lizard or wooden spoon might have wondrous powers (which don't exist) to a Gully Dwarf. They also only fight when backed into a corner, pleading piteously to have their lives spared. None of the other races of Ansalon like them, and are usually chased out of communities or forced to live in forgotten spaces of cities.

Gully Dwarves as a race are incredibly underpowered. They have +2 Dexterity and Constitution, but -4 Intelligence and Charisma. They receive bonuses on stuff gully dwarves are good at (survival checks, diplomacy checks to convince enemies not to harm them), but they receive penalties against fear effects and Intimidation rolls for their cowardice. Gully dwarves make poor thieves and arcane casters due to their slow speed and intelligence/charisma penalties (plus kender have more relevant bonuses). They're not good melee brutes due to their small size, and overall lose much more than they gain in terms of racial traits. There's nothing a gully dwarf can do that an existing race can't do better.



The Elves of Krynn are one of the three original mortal races, created by the good-aligned Gods of Light. As a people they have long lifespans and seek to live in harmony with nature. In addition to low-light vision and the common PHB elven racial traits, Dragonlance elves have Elfsight, which grants Darkvision up to 30 feet.

Qualinesti Elves live in the forest nation of Qualinost. They tend to have better relations with other races in comparison to their more xenophobic kin (+1 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive), but even then they look down upon them as crude and unsophisticated. They're much more indivualistic, and their government is run by a Senate which elects their ruler, the Speaker of the Sun. Twice they had to leave their homeland, most recently after a battle with Beryl the Green Dragon Overlord turned their capital city to ruin. Like the Silvanesti they are a people living outside their ancestral home.

Kagonesti Elves, also known as Wilder Elves, live in the forests of Southern Ergoth. They are a technologically primitive, hunter-gatherer society and believe that every aspect of the world possesses a spirit. They decorate their bodies with feathers, paint, tattoos, leather fringe, and other accessories for symbolic meanings (family history, honoring spirits and granting good fortune, etc). They persevered through Ergothian incursions, the depredations of the Dragonarmies, the Dragon Overlord Gellidus, and even enslavement at the hands of Qualinesti and Silvanesti. This has made them resentful of humans and other elves for constant attacks on their way of life.

Oh, did I mention that the "high" elves in this setting are total dicks? Yeah, every negative stereotype about elves in Tolkienish fantasy has been done tenfold in Dragonlance.

Kagonesti have +2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence and Charisma, +1 bonus on Knowledge (Nature) and Survival, and are proficient with the longspear instead of the longsword. Their favored class is Ranger.

Silvanesti Elves are isolationist, arrogant people who are extremely racist against everyone else. They are the most beautiful of the elves and have one of the most advanced societies in terms of scholarly and magical might, but their cold aloofness makes it hard for others to appreciate this. They view half-elves as abominations, Kagonesti as savage children, and Qualinesti as "poor, uncultured cousins." They have one of the most strict caste systems in Ansalon, where a person's House determines their station and occupation in life. They traditionally lived in the forest nation of Silvanesti in southeast Ansalon, but after a joint Dark Knight/minotaur invasion drove them out they've been forced to live in the arid regions of Khur and the Plains of Dust. They are strongly lawfully-aligned.

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Silvanesti are aligned with good, but they believe so highly in their own purity that goodness can be taken to extremes.

Racism: an extreme form of Good.

In terms of game stats they have standard elf stuff, but +2 Dexterity and Intelligence, and -2 to Constitution and Charisma. They have +1 on Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft checks.

Half-elves are treated as outcasts by both humans and elves. For a long time elven-human relations were not very good, and most children between the two post-Age of Might were borne out of rape by human bandits. As such, half-elves grow up unwanted and tend to be more likely to reject society and authority. They too have Elfsight of 30 foot darkvision like their elven parents.



Sea Elves live in Krynn’s many oceans. They are separated into two groups, the Dargonesti (Deep Elves), who stick to deep water and the Dimernesti (Shoal Elves), who live closer to the surface and coastlines near coral reefs. They are very tall, ranging six to seven feet on average, and have webbed fingers and toes and gill slits on their necks. Dargonesti have many deep-sea citadels and a glorious kingdom, Watermere, while the Dimernesti mostly have small family units. Also, Dargonesti have such a fearsome reputation as aquatic warriors that many sailors fear them more than sharks!
Sea elves of both varieties have standard elf traits, plus they can swim as fast as a human walks on land and can breathe underwater and sense their depth intuitively. They are instead proficient with the trident, net and longspear, and while they can live on land they dehydrate quickly and suffer penalties on rolls if they don’t soak in water for an hour or two. Dargonesti can change shape into a porpoise, Dimernesti into a sea otter. Dargonesti also get some spell-like abilities which aid in concealment and misdirection (darkness, obscuring mist, blur, and dancing lights). The traits are very flavorful and make the sea elves the most unique of the bunch.



Gnomes are the tinkers and inventors of Krynn. Originally they were human worshipers of Reorx changed into gnomes by said deity for their arrogance. Today gnomes pursue all manner of scientific innovation in their home of Mount Nevermind, a dormant volcano. The gnomes are the most technologically advanced civilization in Ansalon, having mastered the secrets of steam power, electricity, and intricate mechanical clockwork devices. Their use among the other races is limited, as gnomes love to experiment just to experiment and most of their contraptions are needlessly complex and subject to unexpected quirks. Gnomes view this as the inevitable consequence of progress, that a project’s failure can give rise to an insightful new lead for further development.

An important aspect of Gnomish culture is the Life Quest. It is a singular goal a gnome dedicates his life to achieving, more important than anything else. It can range from all manner of subjects, although all of them relate to the pursuit and expansion of knowledge. A gnome who completes his or her Life Quest is said to earn an honored position by Reorx in the afterlife, although gnomes who complete 3 or more Life Quests are exiled from the community for making everyone else look bad. On that note, gnomes of evil alignment have a tendency to be literally catapulted out of their communities; gnomish cities also use catapults as a means of transportation in lieu of elevators and stairs.

Gnomes tend to be very talkative and obsessed with their studies, often getting overexcited and running words together to express their thoughts at the moment before they’re lost. They’re capable of speaking and listening to others at the same time, and conversations with other races tends to be a frustrating affair for both parties.

Mechanics-wise gnomes have +2 Dexterity and Intelligence but -2 to Strength and Wisdom (the archetypical absent-minded professor). They also gain a bonus on alchemy checks and a single craft, profession, and knowledge skill depending upon their Guild. Intense dedication to Life Quests has made them strongly determined, granting them a +2 bonus on Will Saves.

There are also “mad” gnomes, who do not have the gnomish inspiration for tinkering or the passion for Life Quests. They tend to be outcasts or pitied, but they’re closer to humans in mentality and speech. They lose their Intelligence and Wisdom modifiers, along with Will Saves, but they gain +2 on Disable Device and Open Locks since they’re skilled at building smaller, more compact, and more reliable machinery.

A lot of gamers hate gnomes along with kender and gully dwarves, but I honestly like them. Their behavior is not going to be disruptive to parties if role-played out, and their advanced technology provides Dungeon Masters the excuse to insert steampunk and mad science stuff into their sessions without it jarring the rest of the setting.



Oh boy, Kender. Basically kender are the children of the races of Krynn. They approach life and new things with intense curiosity, often without regard to their own safety. Every day is a new opportunity for adventure, every locked door a beckoning to find out what’s behind it, every neat-looking object to be fondled and absent-mindedly forgotten in their pocket without any regard to its original owner.

On that last note, this bit of Kender behavior is known as “borrowing.” Hickman and Weis were uncomfortable with having a traditional greedy thief character in their story, so instead they made Tasslehoff Burrfoot and the kender. When a kender finds something cool, they appropriate something which captures their eye. The concept of private property and privacy are alien to their minds, and they get so easily distracted they constantly forget what they took. They resent accusations of thievery, and have a handy list of excuses for why someone’s item ended up in their possession (such as “I was keeping it safe in my possession. You never know when somebody might steal it.”) It’s implied that this behavior is inherent to their race and not the result of cultural conditioning, meaning that any attempts to teach them will be fruitless. Kender also don’t really feel fear, although they understand that certain behavior might result in their deaths. The text also waffles between the Kender being likable and getting along with everyone to them being common pests who drive people crazy and are chased away all the time.

Mechanics-wise they have +2 Dexterity but -2 Strength and Wisdom. They’re immune to fear and intimidation and gain +2 on Spot, Sleight of Hand, and Open Lock skills (the latter two they can make untrained). They’re also great at pissing people off and gain a +4 racial bonus on taunt checks. Taunt is a new application of the bluff skill where a successful check inflicts -1 on attack rolls and Armor Class. They’re also bad at concentration, making them poor spellcasters (-4 on Concentration checks).

The problem with Kender is that a lot of players view them as the perfect excuse to engage in douchebag behavior, such as stealing items from fellow PCs for themselves (despite the fact that kender don’t care for an objects monetary/practical value). The 3rd Edition fluff text doesn’t really help, as the excuses come off more as deliberate lies when caught in the act. Overall, Kender make for great thief characters.

There is also Afflicted Kender, who were traumatized by Malystryx’s devastation of their home and lost their Kender innocence. They lose their fear immunity, but suffer no concentration penalties or Bluff bonuses, and have +2 to Climb, Hide, Jump, and Move Silently checks. Overall I’d say that they’re an improvement over “true” Kender for the skill bonuses (which ironically make them even better thieves).



Centaurs live in Ansalon’s plains, savoring life’s simple pleasures in hedonistic bliss. They are organized into nomadic herds and speak an archaic version of common (“thou” and “thy” instead of “you” and “your”). They traditionally lived in Abanasinia but migrated south into Qualinesti and then throughout the forests of Ansalon. They are very vain, and decorate their bodies with jewelry, flowers, and other aesthetically pleasing baubles.

Centaurs have a lot of powerful traits and racial hit die, effectively making them higher level characters even before they take their first class. Monster PCs in 3rd Edition use a Level Adjustment system, where abilities grant effective “shadow” levels on top of existing ones in addition to Hit Dice monsters of their race have. Centaurs are considered 6th level before they gain any class levels. Centaurs are fast and have some good ability modifiers (+8 Strength, +4 Dexterity, +4 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom), but that’s all they really have going for them. In practice the Level Adjusment system makes centaurs and other monsters underpowered. Their quadrupedal form and large size makes it awkward for them to maneuver in a lot of places, and they don’t gain any unique class features or spellcasting ability (and what caster levels they do gain will be outclassed by the normal races).



Another of the “monstrous” races, Draconians are a Dragonlance staple. In the Age of Despair the Dragon Empire used an unholy ritual on the eggs of metallic dragons to turn the hatchlings into humanoid dragon-people. They deliberately kept the female eggs unhatched to control the population, who served in the Empire’s military forces. A Draconian general by the name of Kang managed to retrieve the female eggs and defected, forming the nation of Teyr. Due to their history of conquest and subjugation, they are disliked by many of the races of Krynn, and even the Empire’s later incarnations (Knights of Takhisis, Knights of Neraka) still view them as servants which need to be controlled.

There are five breeds of “normal” draconians, but only two of them are deemed suitable for PC use: the Baaz (created from brass dragon eggs), and the Kapak (created from copper dragon eggs). Baaz are brutish and have a penchant for drinking and revelry, partying as hard as they fight. Given their military background their communities tend to adopt such trappings (including military slang and jargon), and their names derive from the Nerakan language as opposed to Draconic. Kapaks were bred as scouts and assassins, and they shared a fierce rivalry with the Baaz as both groups tried to prove themselves to higher-ranking human officers (although in battling together against a hostile world has made these tensions almost forgotten in recent years). Kapaks have glands in their mouths which exude poison (for the men) or saliva which can heal wounds (the women).

Draconians also suffer “death throes” when they die, deliberately designed to inconvenience enemy troops. Baaz’s bodies solidfy, trapping any sharp weapons inside, while Kapaks burst into a pool of acid.

Mechanics-wise both draconian breeds are of the Dragon type, death throes, have bite and claw natural attacks, immunity to disease of all kinds, vestigial wings which grant them limited flight, run as a bonus feat, spell resistance, and the ability to survive on 1/10th the normal food and drink thanks to their low metabolisms. They both have 2 racial hit dice and +1 and +2 Level Adjustment for Baaz and Kapaks respectively. Overall they’re quite a solid choice, monster-wise, as they both have a lot of useful abilities and their Dragon type grants them several immunities. As long as you stick to their strengths (don’t be a spellcaster!) they should keep up with their fellow humanoid PCs.





Ogres and ogrekin are one of the three elder races, this one favored by the Gods of Darkness. The ogres in the Age of Dreams built the first civilization and empire as they enslaved the humans through superior might. Back then they were physically and mentally gifted, yet lacking in mercy and compassion. Some Ogres learned of compassion and were exiled before the empire’s fall, becoming the Irda (or High Ogres), while ogres warped by the Graygem of Gargath became minotaurs. Eventually the ogres of the empire were cursed for their wicked ways, transformed into the huge, ugly, and brutish creatures of today.

The Irda escaped this curse, dedicated to Good and living in a remote island off the coast of Ansalon. Irda prefer to spend their time in solitude, disguising themselves as other races when forced to interact with them. All Irda still feel the pangs of evil due to their ogre blood, and thus adopted strict regimens of self-control (and are also vegetarians to further reject ogre cultural norms). They are blue-skinned and extraordinarily graceful and beautiful in their undisguised forms. In recent years the Irda rediscovered the Graygem and accidentally broke it, releasing the evil primordial god Chaos into the world and thus beginning the Chaos War, an act that fills them with shame and regret.

Mechanics-wise Irda are Medium size, have +2 Intelligence and Charisma but -2 Constitution, low-light vision, can take the form of a humanoid creature Small to Large size 3 times a day (duration is indefinite), and can cast several minor level 0 spells as spell-like abilities once per day each (detect magic, flare, ghost sound, dancing lights, light, and mage hand). They have a +2 Level Adjustment, which to me is too high (I don’t think that they deserve a Level Adjustment at all, personally).

Traditional, or “Fallen,” Ogres are a cruel and evil race who believe that might makes right. They tend to be warlike scavengers and raiders who prey on each other and the other races of Krynn, who they feel wronged by historically in different ways (they fought dwarves over territory, human slaves overthrew their empire, elves are the children of the Gods of Light and thus the enemy, etc). Most of them live in the nations of Kern and Blode, living among the ruins of their once-proud empire and doing their best to emulate what little they remember of its ways.

Ogres are effectively Level 6 before adding class levels. They are pretty much geared towards melee roles, having a massive Strength and Constitution bonus (+10 and +4) but penalties to almost all other ability scores (-2 Dexterity, -4 Intelligence and Charisma). They are Large Size and have increased melee reach in combat but nothing in the way of racial bonuses to skills, saves, or anything else in the way of special traits. Overall they’re kind of a boring option.

Half-ogres have ogre and human blood, often rejected by both societies. The ogres for being “soft and weak,” the humans who suspect them of being inherently violent and evil. Half-ogres tend to have mixed attitudes towards both races, alternatively rejecting and accepting one or both societies. Most other races aren’t fond of them, except for kender who keep an open mind. They are naturally inclined towards the adventuring life, welcome in few places.

Mechanics-wise they are Medium size (but very tall around 7 feet), have +4 Strength and +2 Constitution but -2 Intelligence and Charisma. They have a +1 natural armor bonus and low-light vision, but nothing else. They have +1 Level Adjustment, which is too high when you compare them to the minotaurs who don’t even have one. As a race Half-ogres feel bland, nothing much beyond “outcasts.”

Minotaurs are a seafaring race and are most prominent in eastern Ansalon. Their society is militaristic, holding the ideals of honor, bravery, and physical and mental strength as highest virtues. They are strongly lawfully-aligned with a tendency towards evil due to their worship of Sargonnas (god of vengeance). Their empire is a chain of islands across the Blood Sea, with the two largest being Mithas and Kothas which contain the majority of their population. Minotaurs make natural adventurers as the pursuit of glory through danger and violence lines up with their societal ideals. Many minotaurs sold their services as mercenaries in many of Ansalon’s wars, and their expansive expeditions of the seas of eastern Ansalon make them a well-traveled people.

They also have an annual Great Circus in the capital, where minotaur contestants have their skills tested in martial gladiatorial combat, chariot racing, and other risky physical activities to the delight of crowds.

Minotaurs are Medium size with +4 Strength but -2 Dexterity, Intelligence, and Charisma. They have exceptionally thick hides (+2 Armor Class) and horns as natural weapons which do more damage in a charge. They can gain the Scent quality by taking it as a feat, allowing them to detect nearby hidden opponents, and +2 on Intimidate, Swim, and Use Rope checks. And no Level Adjustment, and overall a solid race, one which was popular among my players who liked to play bruisers. They gain a lot more stuff than the poor half-ogres.

And that’s it for races!

Thoughts so far: I have mixed feelings about this chapter. On the one hand Dragonlance does a great job of balancing the line between cliché stock fantasy tropes and applying a new spin on them. The variety of subraces for the main groups, such as the dwarven clans, is well-done. The presence of monstrous races as character options, plus their usability in certain realms on Ansalon, is a neat addition as well.

On the other hand, the races are not balanced against each other. Some races are clearly better choices than others, while some have stats which box them into a specific and narrow class role. The Gully Dwarf can’t really do anything good which isn’t highly situational, and the “monstrous” races overall have too high Level Adjustments.

Next time, Chapter Two: Classes & Feats!

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

I can't get over how gobsmackingly dumb some of those "connections" in Numenera are. "Pick one character to passive-aggressively shoot with all your missed attacks, no trust us, this'll be great."

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Kai Tave posted:

I can't get over how gobsmackingly dumb some of those "connections" in Numenera are. "Pick one character to passive-aggressively shoot with all your missed attacks, no trust us, this'll be great."

This actually raises an interesting question. What is the point of Connections? Some of them are little more than fluff which seems to point towards Genre Theme Enforcement or an attempt to tie the PCs together, but the more antagonistic ones are totally counterproductive to that.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I get the impression that Monte is trying to create tension and conflict within the party, but "you take 1d6 arrow hurty when I roll a 1 on my to-hit" is a crappy way to do that. A more interesting version would be *World-style questions, like "You took a shot that hurt somebody in the party without hitting them. What was it, and why?"

Another would be "If you critically miss, you can choose to gain a benny token. If you take the benny token, target the player with the lowest HP. That player takes your normal damage."

But having fellow party members serve as extra sources of "wandering damage" is really dumb. There's very good reasons why most games don't have "accidentally shoot a friend" mechanics, and this is just one of them.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I get the impression that Monte is trying to create tension and conflict within the party, but "you take 1d6 arrow hurty when I roll a 1 on my to-hit" is a crappy way to do that. A more interesting version would be *World-style questions, like "You took a shot that hurt somebody in the party without hitting them. What was it, and why?"

That's exactly what I was thinking when I was reading through that section...connections seem like really lovely versions of *World's bonds/Hx/etc.

Also maybe I missed something earlier, but is there a reason why you'd want a Numenera party to have built-in tension and conflict within the party? Is that a big theme of the game or something?

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Another would be "If you critically miss, you can choose to gain a benny token. If you take the benny token, target the player with the lowest HP. That player takes your normal damage."

This would still be pretty crap though, especially in a game like this where your hitpoints are literally your "do stuff" points, but there are plenty of other, better ways to handle something like this. Again, *World does this handily with its 7-9 outcomes which rarely result in things like "one of your fellow PCs takes damage" but has plenty of things like "that shot went somewhere you wish it hadn't" or "you get put in a tight spot."

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Kai Tave posted:

Also maybe I missed something earlier, but is there a reason why you'd want a Numenera party to have built-in tension and conflict within the party? Is that a big theme of the game or something?
Monte heard that kids these days like their story-rules.

Tulul
Oct 23, 2013


Parts of Numenera very much feel like cargo cult storygaming; emulation of something that's appeared in other games without really understanding why it appears. So you get Connections, which are obviously written without any thought as to what sort of mood they would create. You get Fate points, but they're clumsily handled and poorly integrated. You get a game about exploration where 90% of the rules are concerned with combat.

I mean, ultimately, the Numenera system isn't terrible, it's just sort of mediocre. The thing that actually makes me shake my fist at the game is the setting, which is, well:

quote:

Navarene is one of the largest and most prosperous kingdoms in the Steadfast. Disliked by all the other lands, the people of Navarene are thought of as aloof, difficult, even arrogant. “Wealthy as a Navarene merchant” is a saying in the Steadfast that almost always has implied negative connotations. The southern part of the kingdom is known for its rich farmland. Simple farmers and herders work for wealthy landowners who in turn pay fealty to a small number of aristocratic families, each of whom answers to the queen, who rules from her capital of Charmonde. Her palace is known as the Empiternal House, and at its center is a set of sealed chambers that Queen Armalu never leaves. To come and go,her court must pass through a series of airlocks and undergo a misting spray that removes any potential contaminants. This odd but careful behavior, coupled with a variety of strange treatments and procedures, has allowed Armalu to live for 253 years—so far.

Standard pseudo-medieval D&D-esque fantasy, but one of the peasants is holding a flashlight.

Kai Tave posted:

Also maybe I missed something earlier, but is there a reason why you'd want a Numenera party to have built-in tension and conflict within the party? Is that a big theme of the game or something?



e: The more cogent answer is that Numenera doesn't really have a mechanically-supported theme; it's stuck in the mindset where rules are for pseudo-simulation of reality. The closest thing it gets is a pass at the idea of of using the past to build a better future, but again, the rules don't support that at all.

Tulul fucked around with this message at 16:52 on Nov 25, 2013

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

That 'choose a party member to get hit whenever you crit fail' feels like someone trying to emulate a stupid movie gag, or codify those moments when the dice really do hate Thag the Thewed. Forcing it eliminates the comedy.

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Halloween Jack posted:

Monte heard that kids these days like _________.

This is literally the reasoning behind every "innovation" that Numenera has on Cook's previous games. He basically has no idea what he's doing, and is just regurgitating the same core over and over again while tacking on stuff he doesn't understand.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Lemon Curdistan posted:

This is literally the reasoning behind every "innovation" that Numenera has on Cook's previous games. He basically has no idea what he's doing, and is just regurgitating the same core over and over again while tacking on stuff he doesn't understand.

How could he? The moon has no light of its own to shine down.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kai Tave posted:

This would still be pretty crap though, especially in a game like this where your hitpoints are literally your "do stuff" points, but there are plenty of other, better ways to handle something like this. Again, *World does this handily with its 7-9 outcomes which rarely result in things like "one of your fellow PCs takes damage" but has plenty of things like "that shot went somewhere you wish it hadn't" or "you get put in a tight spot."

I'm not saying it's brilliant, but I'm pretty sure it's better, is all. It's at least better than "every so often you'll murder another PC randomly on account of using your main skill". It's the kind of drawback that might be acceptable if the Focus was "Rabid Berserker", but even then it'd be better as a risk-based choice.

Tulul posted:

Standard pseudo-medieval D&D-esque fantasy, but one of the peasants is holding a flashlight.

Really, the fact that humanity has regressed so far is really what makes it a fantasy world and not a sci-fi world. In the real world technology and practical knowledge is very, very rarely lost, even in the face of empires rising and falling, but in fantasy worlds, it's a goddamn constant. It's hard to find a modern fantasy setting that isn't built on the grand ancient empire that was awesome if only you were there to see it oh well too bad.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Really, the fact that humanity has regressed so far is really what makes it a fantasy world and not a sci-fi world. In the real world technology and practical knowledge is very, very rarely lost, even in the face of empires rising and falling, but in fantasy worlds, it's a goddamn constant. It's hard to find a modern fantasy setting that isn't built on the grand ancient empire that was awesome if only you were there to see it oh well too bad.
It gives a reason for all the awesome and powerful magic/technology to be found at the bottom of very dangerous dungeons and ruins and not coming off of some sort of assembly line.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



FMguru posted:

It gives a reason for all the awesome and powerful magic/technology to be found at the bottom of very dangerous dungeons and ruins and not coming off of some sort of assembly line.

I've always used the "this stuff is valuable because its historical or art, not because its better." You want your awesome sword? Well that costs money to use the latest magic-smithing techniques and to import the finest metals. Looting an ancient tomb of its assortment of family busts and once potent magic rings (reduce hair loss by 2d6 per year compared to cheap modern rings of hair sustainment) is only valuable because some collector wants it or some artist has a hankering for real examples for their upcoming collection.

Why yes I do have players employed by textile guilds who want ancient pattern examples to be looted off the dead or be hired by museums to secure dig finds against unscrupulous illegal art dealer consortiums.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


FMguru posted:

It gives a reason for all the awesome and powerful magic/technology to be found at the bottom of very dangerous dungeons and ruins and not coming off of some sort of assembly line.

Yeah, I know why, I'm just more posting it as it just being a fantasy trope.

I don't mind fantasy games being mostly about looting the homes of dead people (or bad people), but man, I was hoping for a little more. Numenera really feels like Monte's big-budget heartbreaker.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

In the real world technology and practical knowledge is very, very rarely lost, even in the face of empires rising and falling, but in fantasy worlds, it's a goddamn constant.
We actually do tend to loose a ton of technology and practical knowledge. Take for example the Antikythera mechanism. We didn't know the Greeks had such advanced technology until we dug it up out of the ocean. I'm not even entirely sure if we've actually figured out their techniques yet. If you want a more modern example take the F1 Rocket engine which NASA engineers are directly trying to reverse engineer by taking it apart and rebuilding it in a computer.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, I know why, I'm just more posting it as it just being a fantasy trope.
Its actually more associated with science fiction than it is with fantasy at this point as its basically the plot line to the Stargate series.
EDIT:
Though that series actually had a reason why humanity regressed so far in some instances while in others seemed to be moving along technology wise.

MadScientistWorking fucked around with this message at 18:03 on Nov 25, 2013

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



And also consider when you have events like the burning of the Library of Alexandria - we still have no idea of what the total inventory was in there, so we're still in the dark about what sciences and technology learned people of that era actually knew and what we were missing.

So a major loss of technology is not that farfetched, it's just has to be both adequately explained and a reasonable time frame for knowledge to decay, be misconstrued, then forgotten.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




On the other hand, neither the Bronze Age Collapse, the fall of Rome, the burning of Alexandra, the Black Plague, etcetera etcetera caused the level of technology to completely and utterly collapse. So "everyone used to have technomagic +5 buttplugs but now it's the High Middle Ages" is both farfetched and a worn-out idea.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

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


Halloween Jack posted:

On the other hand, neither the Bronze Age Collapse, the fall of Rome, the burning of Alexandra, the Black Plague, etcetera etcetera caused the level of technology to completely and utterly collapse. So "everyone used to have technomagic +5 buttplugs but now it's the High Middle Ages" is both farfetched and a worn-out idea.
The Antikythera mechanism kind of shots a massive hole in your argument though as it was the only device of its complexity known for 1000 years. Admittedly, that does bring up the fact that every single time we loose a piece of technology we'll pretty much reverse engineer it back again.

MadScientistWorking fucked around with this message at 18:50 on Nov 25, 2013

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


MadScientistWorking posted:

We actually do tend to loose a ton of technology and practical knowledge. Take for example the Antikythera mechanism. We didn't know the Greeks had such advanced technology until we dug it up out of the ocean. I'm not even entirely sure if we've actually figured out their techniques yet. If you want a more modern example take the F1 Rocket engine which NASA engineers are directly trying to reverse engineer by taking it apart and rebuilding it in a computer.

I hate to say it but you need a lot more than one or two very rare devices, neither or which was widely distributed, to make your point.

What's more, we never "lost" the F1. They have the plans to build them, they have the original engines, and the design documents. The problem is that it was developed in a rush largely through trial and error, but they didn't take the time to do a thorough examination of why the thrusters worked in the 50s and 60s. They got them to a point where they stopped exploding on the launch pad, and that was good enough. Nowadays, NASA is trying to design new rockets using similar principles, but the reasons they're having to investigate and redesign those principles is because, once again, the original designers never hashed that out properly. We can't just use F1 thrusters anymore because our technology has advanced to the point that we don't launch rockets using kerosene anymore.

The Antikythera is a better example, but it doesn't necessarily defy our knowledge of the Greeks. We know they had the necessary knowledge of astronomy, and the necessary mechanical knowledge involving gears, though I certainly wouldn't deny the brilliance of the inventor that put the two together. It's certainly a surprise but it's not unthinkable.

Ultimately one thing this makes me realize is that most technology dug up by scavengers in a post-collapse period wouldn't be practical for adventuring use. It certainly might be salable to scholars, craftsman, and collectors, but a group of murderhobos wouldn't have much use for an F1 rocket engine. I'm reminded of an Autoduel adventure that involves the PCs searching ruins for a lost solution to the Traveling Salesman program, which is a pretty solid example of something that would be worth an immense amount of money... but not of much use to your average gun-toting mercenary.

CottonWolf
Jul 20, 2012

Good ideas generator



MadScientistWorking posted:

The Antikythera mechanism kind of shots a massive hole in your argument though as it was the only device of its complexity known for 1000 years. Admittedly, that does bring up the fact that every single time we loose a piece of technology we'll pretty much reverse engineer it back again.

Which happens in Numenera too, to some extent. But there's a limit to how far something can be beyond your understanding for you to be able reverse engineer it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




MadScientistWorking posted:

The Antikythera mechanism kind of shots a massive hole in your argument though as it was the only device of its complexity known for 1000 years. Admittedly, that does bring up the fact that every single time we loose a piece of technology we'll pretty much reverse engineer it back again.
That's a rare and specialized mechanism, though, not something in common use. But it's not strictly possible to come up with a straight-across comparison between something in history and a fictional empire based on magitech.

Edit: But I'll try. Howard's "The Hyborian Age" starts off by saying that after the Atlantean empire collapsed, human civilization regressed to Stone Age levels or even devolved into apelike subhumanity. The Bronze Age Collapse wrecked the economy and vastly reduced literacy, but people didn't forget how to make bricks and wells and iron tools.

Unless the author wants to explain that manufacturing hundreds of +2 swords and boots of elvenkind is as sophisticated as manufacturing fighter jets and microchips, so a cataclysm leaves the population poo poo out of luck even if they still have most of their engineers. I haven't seen that yet, though.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 19:12 on Nov 25, 2013

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Then you also have Heron of Alexandra's devices, steam engines, prototype syringes etc - most of it was lost in the European world, and only a few preserved in the Arabic world.

What I think most setting of that type need to do is less "Oh god, these ancient devices of the ancients are evil and must be kept away" or "The only resurrect-able pieces are WMDs" and more "Can we do something with this to improve our lives?"

Barudak
May 7, 2007



MadScientistWorking posted:

The Antikythera mechanism kind of shots a massive hole in your argument though as it was the only device of its complexity known for 1000 years. Admittedly, that does bring up the fact that every single time we loose a piece of technology we'll pretty much reverse engineer it back again.

It wasn't really lost though? We have discussions of similar devices from before that era and after that era. The major issue with the Antikythera Mechanism is that it was a luxury good and not very accurate (although as accurate as the Greeks understood the planets to be) so the need for more of the things was fairly limited. In addition, we find similar construction devices (although not as complex typically) in the Byzantine empire in the 5th and 6th centuries so the technique was still used long after the device proper was lost.

Furthermore technology such as odometers have been around in extant form since Archimedes and despite societal collapse we kept that knowledge of how to make multiple gear measuring devices which are, in essence, simplified Antikythera Mechanisms. Its not some mythical lost knowledge that killed the production of the Antikythera Mechanisms; the market simply decided it was a commercially nonviable product.

If you want to complain about lost knowledge Archimedes' work on Calculus definitely counts but his inventions definitely lived on and were widely used after his death his work on Mathematics surviving or not.

Edit: I'm beaten but basically we're all in agreement; Ancient things in fantasy settings should be valuable because they are old, artistic, and possibly insightful. Its a rather tired trope that everything in the past was better and more powerful and unreverse-engineerable.

Barudak fucked around with this message at 19:05 on Nov 25, 2013

Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011



Everything was better in the past because space-time is a doughnut and it's actually all from the far future.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Barudak posted:


Edit: I'm beaten but basically we're all in agreement; Ancient things in fantasy settings should be valuable because they are old, artistic, and possibly insightful. Its a rather tired trope that everything in the past was better and more powerful and unreverse-engineerable.

I think we can blame the Renaissance for this, since they viewed the Classical era as the peak of humanity, with the Medieval period being the bad old time where everyone dropped dead of plague, were illiterate blathering idiots and scramble in the dirt.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

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


Barudak posted:

It wasn't really lost though? We have discussions of similar devices from before that era and after that era. The major issue with the Antikythera Mechanism is that it was a luxury good and not very accurate (although as accurate as the Greeks understood the planets to be) so the need for more of the things was fairly limited. In addition, we find similar construction devices (although not as complex typically) in the Byzantine empire in the 5th and 6th centuries so the technique was still used long after the device proper was lost.
Since when were Greeks, Romans, and Byzatines using technology that wasn't conceived of until the 1400 and 1500. Sure you can make the argument that machines and devices using gears were all over the place which they were but there is a huge difference between cutting a gear from bronze and cobbling together one from wood.
EDIT:
Admittedly, we are all pretty much on the same page. This is just me asking for more clarification because I always thought the Antikythera Mechanism was the first example of gear cutting from that era.

MadScientistWorking fucked around with this message at 19:44 on Nov 25, 2013

Barudak
May 7, 2007



MadScientistWorking posted:

Since when were Greeks, Romans, and Byzatines using technology that wasn't conceived of until the 1400 and 1500. Sure you can make the argument that machines and devices using gears were all over the place which they were but there is a huge difference between cutting a gear from bronze and cobbling together one from wood.
EDIT:
Admittedly, we are all pretty much on the same page. This is just me asking for more clarification because I always thought the Antikythera Mechanism was the first example of gear cutting from that era.

We know, via literal design documents, that the Romans constructed odometers for centuries using the same gear design also used in the Antikythera Mechanism and they were definitely metal. The Antikythera Mechanism is fascinating because it was a device that was ridiculously expensive, absolutely cutting edge, and solely intended for personal use*. It is in many ways like built in car-phones; ahead of their time but phased out completely once a modern need for them was developed.

*It is of small size making it unfit for public display, the gear mechanisms would have rusted in any sort of exposed setting, and the 2,000 characters written on the side indicate an owners manual of sorts literally bolted onto the side of the thing.

On the note of lost knowledge; are there any settings where you live in the current Golden Age of the world? So many fantasy settings are backwards facing and I'm not a big fan of it.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Robindaybird posted:

I think we can blame the Renaissance for this, since they viewed the Classical era as the peak of humanity, with the Medieval period being the bad old time where everyone dropped dead of plague, were illiterate blathering idiots and scramble in the dirt.

To be fair, that wasn't an entirely inaccurate take of the Dark Ages. The intentional repression of the spread of information did a lot of harm to society after all. To be more fair, fantasy settings rarely have that as justification.

All this talk about the "The First Age was better" cliche reminds me a bit of World Tree which had an interesting take on the subject. Most ancient magical artifacts are only valuable to historians and are laughable underpowered compared to the setting's equivalent of a college engineering project. There are exceptions to the rule, but they're exclusively because the object in question was made by the gods and is a leftover of when the world was in beta and needed a great deal more divine intervention.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Anyway, my point was that that sort of technology is "lost" more rarely than not. I think if you want to have that sort of scavenging setting, it's best set not too long after cultural collapse - Apocalypse World probably has it right after about fifty years. The longer you wait, the more and more likely society will have built up and surpassed its former level.

Of course, you can come up with all sorts of fantastic disasters that change that game by reducing Earth's population or remove aspects of technology (Palladium's post-apocalypse settings, like Splicers, come to mind), but eventually every post-apocalypse has to become post-post-apocalypse. Presuming there isn't another apocalypse, anyway.

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011



There's some leeway to be had depending on the circumstances described for the destruction of the ancient civilization: if the civilization was isolated/isolationist and the entire population was removed, then the knowledge of how they created their awesome technology could certainly be lost. A lot of the settings that pull it, though, use a world where the ancient civilization was universally dominant and all current peoples are descended from it or at least its slave races. At that point the idea only really works if either all of the technology just stops functioning normally (powered by some esoteric energy source that was also wiped out by the cataclysm) or all left out of reach for five or ten generations. If it's there and people know how to work it, it will get worked and knowledge will be kept up on it though some parts might get twisted up over a long enough period. Another factor would be whether or not new pieces of the technology could be manufactured or not.

There's actually another side to the argument as well when you talk about magic. While it's hard to swallow ancient technology being inherently better than current (and still functional even after long periods of total disuse) magic can come from several other angles. One old paradigm I recall was an axis with magic at one end and technology/science on the other, where the power of magic derives from its primal and unrefined nature such that the older the magic the more powerful it is because it's more directly derived from the spark of cosmic genesis or whatnot. While its interesting as a theme though, logic is somewhat hard to apply to that one unless you get really meta because it basically comes down to "magic gets weaker the more sane, rational and thorough we become." If you run with that theme though that could be made to work, I'd imagine. If nothing else it would make for some entertaining stories of fur wearing anarchist shamans dueling with scientists decked out in power armor and wielding laser cannons.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




For fantasy post-apocalypses, I'm always a fan of ones where the Glorious Lost Age is one of elitist mysticism that the more materially grounded peoples of the current time are emerging from. So yeah the really impressive wizard towers conjured from babies' bones and slave spittle are going to be less of a thing, but maybe it's okay and even more impressive to manage a work crew that builds a tower out of stone instead.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

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




DOUBLE CROSS

Part Eight and a Half - More of the World


The UGN and its allies are eerily effective at covering up a massive, global transformation of mankind into superpowered monsters. But they're not perfect. Some eyewitnesses and victims slip through the cracks of the information control departments of the UGN, and many attempt to, you know, do something about the fact that mankind is being taken over by an intelligent supernatural virus. Their attempts are either shut down by the UGN and associates or ridiculed by the common authorities. Thus, all over the world there are cropping up civilian armed and vigilante groups, intend on taking the Renegade matters into their own hands. Of course, since they have next to no proper intel on Overeds and Gjaums – the exception being Tindalos, mentioned in the last update – they usually treat Overeds like straight-up monsters. But, I hear you say, Overeds have access to Warding! No way a bunch of civilians can take even one of them on! You're right. These groups are usually dedicated to evacuating and helping victims of Overed incidents. Or, altenatively,

quote:

Rocket launchers are the most direct way to handle a Gjaum
Double Cross: the best Hunter: The Vigil supplement you'll ever buy!

Okay, remember Alfred J. Cauldwell? The mysterious founder of the UGN who led the organisation then mysteriously died in the field? Well, to no one's surprise at all, it turns out he didn't die for real! He spent many years missing, but just the other day he surprise-hijacked a lot of media outlets all throughout the world. Just like that V for Vendetta scene, Cauldwell exposed the Renegade, the UGN, and False Hearts on public TV. Then he said the UGN wasn't doing its job properly anymore, so he decided to join False Hearts. And then he went and destroyed several important UGN facilities, single-handedly. Gee Cauldwell, you sure are a swell bloke.

Needless to say, the UGN spent the next few weeks like dizzy cockroaches running around to fix the leak. Through liberal application of brainwashing, memory wiping, news cover-ups and media editing, they managed to turn the whole incident into a bizarre urban legend no one takes very seriously (yeah the UGN are way too good at this and I would never want to run into their brainwashing patrol). Still, agents are on edge. Cauldwell, previously the organisation's idol and role model, has turned. Everyone feels in their skin that the days of routine Gjaum-fighting are over.

Something big is about to go down...

Renegade Beings

We've talked about them before. RBs are living manifestations of Renegade that infect the most varied vessels. RBs are defined by two things: first, every single one of them can communicate with human beings. Second, every single one of them is aware of what it is. Some RBs like to live in isolation and do whatever, but most of them are very, very interested in mankind. They either try to infiltrate human society incognito or they try to actively learn more about humans. This can end in cruel experiments and acts of violence.

The Renegade is really old, and it is said that RBs exist since the dawn of time. However, only 20 years ago when the middle-eastern Renegade samples leaked from the expedition airplane and spread throughout the world, have the RBs gained sentience and free will and the ability to communicate. There was only one autonomous Renegade Being before then: The Planner, who would later be known as Kyouka Tsuzuki and join False Hearts.

A couple of years back, the Planner traveled to Omokage Island in Japan in search of a Renegade Being known as Lord Omoide. Lord Omoide was really powerful, and it could make people have visions of the dead. The Planner and it met, and the entire population of the Earth spent half a day seeing dead people before the visions finally ceased. Everything seemed to have returned to normal, but since then the number of Renegade Beings awakening has increased a lot. Nowadays, there could be tens of thousands of them running around the planet.

(By the way, I can only think the previous burst of "metaplot out of nowhere" is a reference to one of Double Cross' many Replay books out in Japan.)

Okay, so The Planner was until this point a member of False Hears, under the moniker of Kyouka Tsuzuki and the appearance of a young woman. After Omokage Island, she disappeared. She emerged shortly thereafter with the appearance of a 10-year old girl, leading a mysterious organisation called Xenos. Xenos is a faction of Renegade Beings with unknown intentions. It seems every member just does as they drat please. Both the UGN and False Hearts don't really know how to deal with this; they accept Xenos' help when their interests align and fight it in case they find each other in opposition. Only one thing is certain: if Xenos is plotting a greater scheme, it is all going according to The Planner's... well, plan.

The Renegade Beings we've talked about until now have their own bodies, an infected version of whatever-the-hell they were before the Renegade. However, some RBs are incorporeal. Controller RBs are parasites: they find a host, destroy the host's consciousness, and take over the physical body. Collaborator RBs do the same without throwing the host's consciosness in the trash. They live alongside the host, sometimes being the voice inside the host's head, sometimes staying hidden and taking over at key moments, only for the host to wake up hours later without recollection of recent events.

Other Renegade manifestations

What if the Renegade infects something non-human, but the resulting creature doesn't gain consciousness and self-awareness? Such cases are known as EX Renegades. They are animals or objects or places infected and demonstrating special abilities, but they don't have free will and don't act autonomously. Many beasts and weapons of legends were actually just EX Renegades. Think of them as the "enchanted" things in Double Cross' universe: an "enchanted sword" is a special sword infected by Renegade. A "magical beast" is probably an infected animal. A "cursed place" is an infected mansion or forest.

When a lot of Renegade virus material lumps together, it can crystalise. The resulting object is known as a Renegade Crystal. They're not just concentrated solidified virus: an Overed can incorporate the crystal into their own body, and the extra viral load enchances their powers. The only problem is that it's impossible to remove the crystal without either killing the Overed or forcing them to turn into a Gjaum.

Both of these are neat things, but at no point does the book ever tell you how to use them mechanically.



Characters

At this point, the book goes into (relative, one-paragraph) detail about various setting NPCs. They are the ones you form relationships with in the Encounter phase of Personal Data creation. One cool thing is there are no stat blocks. The book explicitly says this is case so the GM can stat the NPCs at whatever power level they like, depending on the story: Yugo Kiritani, the chief of Japan's UGN branch, can be a powerful deus ex machina or he can go down to the first Gjaum attack; it's up to the requirements of your specific Scenario. Man, I wish we could go back and tell all those 90's RPG designers about this. And about some other stuff. A lot of stuff.

Most of the sample characters are extremely generic NPCs that are there to have relationships with the PCs and thus gain form through actual play. Some of them we'll meet in the sample Scenarios a couple of updates from now. They all get very, very brief one-paragraph descriptions.

Here they are:

Yugo "Leviathan" Kiritani is Japan's UGN branch chief. Since Cauldwell returned and focused his attention on Japan, the UGN's central committee has put a lot of pressure on Kiritani to keep the Japan branch running smoothly. It isn't.

You already know Alfred "Iscariot" Cauldwell. Currently a False Hearts cell leader, his Syndrome is unknown and he's got a 240% Encroachment Rate. No one knows what his deal is anymore.

Johan "Master Wraith" Cauldwell claims to be Cauldwell's son. He's a 17-year old brat, but a powerful one. He's had many direct confrontations with the UGN but has never been injured. ER: 210%, eek.

quote:

Also, this person enjoys sweets.
Thanks, Double Cross!

Kyoji "Diablos" Kasuga is False Heart's Scooby Doo villain. He was once renowned, but now he's kind of disgraced because he's the villain in the first sample Scenario and is thus destined to spend the rest of eternity having his plans thwarted by "those stupid kids".

Rosa "In the Name of the Rose" Baskerville was sent by the UGN's central committe to "assist" Yugo Kiritani in the Japan branch. Of course, her real job is to watch over him and make sure he doesn't mess things up. Fun times for all in the Japan UGN headquarters.

Yurika "Rafflesia" Himemiya is a creepy researcher working for the UGN who gets way too excited about the Renegade. You know the stereotype.

Tsubaki "Silk Spider" Tamano and Hayato "Falcon Blade" Takazaki are a generic duo of grown-up (read: 19-years old) UGN agents. Nothing special here.

Therese Blum is a 15-year old child prodigy who ascended as a member of the UGN's central committee without being an Overed herself. She "has earned several doctorates", has a pet owl Over-Animal perching on her shoulder at all times, and is a moderate trying to placate the conflicting factions within the UGN.

Ayame "Artemis" Shikishima is a high school student and UGN illegal – remember those? The Overeds not affiliated with the UGN but who work with them from time to time. Very generic.

Mia "Meerkat" Nekogawa is a hacker and information broker. She is, of course, 17.

quote:

She was shocked when she learned that meerkats are not cats.
Thanks, Double Cross!

Soichi "Predator" Iba is a 260% ER assassin, feared as one of the most powerful Overeds out there. He just enjoys battle and blood and violence and is not affiliated with any faction.

Satsuki "Daybreak" Kamishiro is another prodigy 18-year old, this time the president of the global conglomerate Kamishiro Group. She and the Group work together with the UGN, but there's an anti-UGN faction forming inside the conglomerate, and Satsuki is in trouble.

Takemichi "Paint it Black" Kurosaki is the leader of the Strangers, the branch of the Japan Self-Defence Force that deals with Overeds with extreme prejudice. Turns out he's an Overed himself, who would've thought? This one is a 110% ER Angel Halo/Black Dog.

Shusei Tani is the friendly but hardened detective who handles all Renegade cases for the Japanese police. The news here is that the police has a Renegade division at all. Not an Overed.

Kyouka "Planner" Tsuzuki is the obligatory ancient being in a 10-year old body. She's the oldest and meanest Renegade Being on the planet and the leader of Xenos.

Tiger Eye is a Renegade Being who's a necklace. Really. Wear him around your neck and he invades your mind. It's not clear whether he's a Controller or Collaborator-type RB, since the text clearly missed an edition pass and says "Manipulator type".

Nagi "Minerva" Sakatsuki is a Xenos member and Renegade Being. Minerva is actually a Collaborator-type RB, which means it and Nagi Sakatsuki, the human, share the same body. The two understand each other, though: Minerva is into trying to understand humans, and Nagi is into fightin' dudes. The result is that they try to understand humans by fighting them.

Wakana Yaegashi is the popular, overly joyous, probably dubbed by someone with a really high pitched voice, high-school student body president. Not an Overed.

"Cesario" is a Collaborator-type RB living inside high-schooler Kiyone Hoshino's body. But Kiyone isn't aware of Cesario. When there is dangerous Renegade activity around, Cesario takes over the body and fights the villains, then goes back to sleep while Kiyone is left wondering what the hell she has been doing for the past half an hour. Basically, these two are a tokuhatsu series waiting to happen.

Takeshi Aiba is the local loner delinquent who throws down with biker gangs for a hobby. Picture the stereotype. Not an Overed.

Jyunji Shigano is a carefree journalist who tries way too hard and often gets involved in Renegade incidents. Through the immutable laws of comedy relief, however, he never figures out the truth. This guy is Bulk & Skull, basically. Not an Overed.

Takashi "Merchant" Minesaki is a member of the Guild and a fencer of all sorts of goods: guns, computers, even airplanes. This guy is the shopkeeper of Double Cross' videogame. What're ya boyin'?

...and that's it for the setting chapter.

Next time: the Player's Guide! There are some genuinely interesting tidbits in this one!

Barudak
May 7, 2007



AccidentalHipster posted:

All this talk about the "The First Age was better" cliche reminds me a bit of World Tree which had an interesting take on the subject. Most ancient magical artifacts are only valuable to historians and are laughable underpowered compared to the setting's equivalent of a college engineering project. There are exceptions to the rule, but they're exclusively because the object in question was made by the gods and is a leftover of when the world was in beta and needed a great deal more divine intervention.

I quite like this and its how I typically run campaigns minus the divine spark thing. Magic and Technology are two parallel but intertwined fields; modern magic runes require modern smithing techniques as they'd break more poorly constructed materials and ancient fire magics could never have produced the heat necessary for today's smelting practices.

I also, you know, hate magic can do anything mundane can do but better and faster. One man can magically build a bridge but the project will take multiple times longer than a construction project and the gods help you if you think he can also install the electrical system because its taken him roughly 20+ years of schooling and practical studies to get here on just bridges.

Edit: Holy mother of god World Tree's cover art is abomnible

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Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011



At that point you've just gone for "technology is magic" though.

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