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AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?



I remember many an afternoon with friends pretending to be ninjas with this puppy and I'll say that it's probably the best and most hackable RPG Wizards ever put out. I'm not quite sure what that says about d20.


Sweet Titans of Metal! I don't think I've seen a book poo poo the bed that fast since, erm, John Wick's Eldritch High actually. Spooky. I guess we're getting in to spirit of the season at least.

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I was going to try to review Maschine Zeit for season, but I think pospysyl and AccidentalHipster have got us covered on the horror (or just horrific) front.

First I've got a Super-Babes adventure or two to get off my chest, though.

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012


Alien Rope Burn posted:

"Hey, we know your family is abusive and goes out of their way to make your suffer on every axis they can manage, but it's very important that you stay with them over summers because reasons-"

The reason was that by taking Harry in, the Dursleys, particularly his aunt, activated a spell that kept him protected while it was his home. The fact that that spell ran out when he turned 17 is a plot point in the last book. It's not so much an issue in the earlier books though. So who knows why he didn't just ask the Weasleys if he could stay with them.

The other elements I just assumed were a product of a corrupt (and acknowledged to be as such) wizard government. (Except the other countries not helping with Voldemort. That was just bull.)

FourmyleCircus posted:

Speaking of making GBS threads On Bad Games... I'm going to go through the Superbabes Adventure because... Well, frankly, I don't have the intestinal fortitude to pull of 13 Magazine right now. Or enough vodka. Friend of mine suggested making a drinking game out of WGA. Not sure my liver would survive it.

I'll take it off your hands, if you like.

Adnachiel fucked around with this message at 04:43 on Oct 8, 2013

FourmyleCircus
Sep 15, 2013


Adnachiel posted:

I'll take it off your hands, if you like.

I'll give it another try. Part of the burn out is that it shows some promise, then immediately shoots itself in the foot with it's "Black Comedy". The other half is I live-blogged it when I first got it. To said friend that has played with Lucinda.

The fact that turning someone into a mouse forever is a Novelty Product from the Witch Equivalent of Wham-o Toys doesn't really help.

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012


FourmyleCircus posted:

I'll give it another try. Part of the burn out is that it shows some promise, then immediately shoots itself in the foot with it's "Black Comedy". The other half is I live-blogged it when I first got it. To said friend that has played with Lucinda.

The fact that turning someone into a mouse forever is a Novelty Product from the Witch Equivalent of Wham-o Toys doesn't really help.

Alright.

Hex-O is credited with this monstrosity.:nms: I was under the impression that they were an in-verse producer of educational materials and the disclaimer for the thing you're talking about was just a way to cover their rear end from... magical lawsuits or something.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Adnachiel posted:

Alright.

Hex-O is credited with this monstrosity.:nms: I was under the impression that they were an in-verse producer of educational materials and the disclaimer for the thing you're talking about was just a way to cover their rear end from... magical lawsuits or something.

The goat head erupting from her crotch there is definitely a thing, all right. For sure.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


I'm choosing to believe that this is the end result of someone using the tweening tool in photoshop and really screwing up the anchors. Because having a head spontaneously erupt from your crotch is the least of that ladies worries right now. :psyduck:

FourmyleCircus
Sep 15, 2013


Adnachiel posted:

Alright.

Hex-O is credited with this monstrosity.:nms: I was under the impression that they were an in-verse producer of educational materials and the disclaimer for the thing you're talking about was just a way to cover their rear end from... magical lawsuits or something.

Ah hell, I'd forgotten about that. I'm a child of the Nineties so I just saw Hex-o in the spikey starburst thing and thought of the old school Wham-o logo. The New and Improved bit didn't hurt that impression any. So, I think between these... I have no clue what the hell Hex-o makes. Yet another thing the setting is mysteriously silent on, even if they want to go into detail about how all magical items are made by dwitchs and dwarves, and leprechauns can get you stoned on their breath, and are also the people handling your money.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003





What's a "Wizard Jack"? Capitalized, so we know it's Important. :confused:

DNA Cowboys
Feb 22, 2012

BOYS I KNOW


AccidentalHipster posted:

Goddammit Wick, can't you go 5 paragraphs without being :smug:? I actually looked up semiotics as well and it's the study of symbols like @ and the letter Q. This means that Wick couldn't stop :fap:ing over semantics to realize he was WRONG. So he's basically being Wick.

Semiotics is one of those academic disciplines that's used in so many ways that it's tricky to get a solid read. It starts easy enough with easily recognized symbols, but then it spirals out of control into cultural representations, the split between representation and the represented (what if C-A-T spelled dog?), and how all communication has an intermediary that impacts/creates/warps meaning.

In a world where symbols have objective magical powers, I can only imagine it would be much more practical than theoretical. The Shoggoth of the Seven Seals can only be assuaged by a virgin holding seven candles. Why? What is the meaning behind the seven candles? The virgin? Is it purity? A symbolic lightbringer? Innocence? Sacrifice? Is there a way that wizards can tap into the symbolic meaning of those candles, that virgin, without actually tracking down candles, virgin?

In other word, it would be more correct had Wick said "The study of symbols and the symbolic nature of myth and epic." It's not so important to know what Dionysus did as why he did it and what it meant to the storyteller's culture (and, presumably, the arcane forces, who deal in poetic logic rather than rational science.)

InShaneee
Aug 11, 2006

Cleanse them. Cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe them in the crimson of ... am I on speakerphone?

Fun Shoe



Countdown, Chapter 8 - The Keepers of the Faith

In 1636, the Dutch island of Manhattan became the unwilling host to a Mr. Morgens Dekker, along with twenty six of his followers and several chests of gold. Dekker was fleeing the Holy Roman Empire; apparently, they weren't too fond of people claiming they were messiahs. Dekker had managed to elude them long enough to get to the New World, where he used his wealth to set up an estate for himself and his followers before picking up where he left off (studying the occult, of course). Dekker's experiments required a large number of corpses, but he was loathe to sully his now-clean name, so his followers set out to build an elaborate system of tunnels, allowing him to move freely and unnoticed between his compound and several nearby graveyards. This worked swimmingly; the nearby people assumed they were some sort of religious scholars fleeing persecution (it was the 'in' thing to do at the time), and choose to leave them alone, referring to them as the Keepers of the Faith.

In 1665, with the War of Independence on and the British occupying the island (having renamed it to New York), Dekker became increasingly paranoid, and repurposed nearly all his followers to dig more and more tunnels, with the entire operation relocating below ground in the increasingly elaborate tunnel system. This was assisted by Dekker's new found followers, which numbered around 200 by 1700. The group was so secretive at this point that almost no one outside the compound had any contact with them - which was fortunate, since they might have started asking why none of them appeared to be aging. In 1701, Dekker and a select few travelled back to Europe, and returned 3 years later with a trove of strange artifacts, and a few friends - ghouls.

The ghouls and Dekker had a lot in common, really. Dekker needed the ghouls to further expand his tunnel systems. The ghouls wanted a steady supply of corpses to feed on. And both of them were all about worshipping the Great Old Ones. Hence, a business partnership. By 1740, the tunnel system ran under almost all of Manhattan, with some branches stretching as far as Brooklyn and New Jersey. The next 20 years were very productive for all involved, ending in 1766, when Dekker led the entire cult in a procession down the shore of New Jersey as the culmination of all their arcane research; no one knows what they were trying to accomplish, nor what actually occured, only that they were never heard from again. This left the tunnels to the ghouls, who were pretty much set by this point and simply continued on with the lifestyle they'd grown accustomed to underground.

The start of the 20th century saw the ghouls living in their deepest tunnels. With the advent of sewers and subways, the ghouls were forced to collapse or flood several surface tunnels to avoid detection. Additionally, the bulk of the population had moved out to Long Island and New Jersey, as few people were still buried within New York city limits anymore. An...unfortunate incident at Red Hook nearly exposed them, but they were again able to cover up their tracks. However, Red Hook caused a schism in the community: the more moderate ghouls felt they should flee Manhattan as the others had to avoid further risk of discovery, while the religious zealots among them were certain that any time now the Great Old Ones would obliterate New York and they would rule the island. In the end, nearly all of them left, collapsing the tunnels out of the city behind them, with only a few devout (along with a handful of human followers of Dekker's teachings) left behind. Today, the ghoul cult (now also called the Keepers) are few, growing only from the occasional kidnapping and conversion of the homeless. With existing graveyards picked clean and no new graveyards being built, the ghouls are starving (albeit slowly and strangely, due to their supernatural nature), with only their devotion to their faith keeping them from seeking live prey.

However, not all of the younger ghouls had so much fervor, and indeed, they did start attacking and eating subway travelers and homeless around the city. When this brought the attention of the police, the religious ghouls decided to expel the so-called Heretics. They now roam the back alleys of New York, hunting. At present, they can still mostly pass as humans, but it's only a matter of time before their heritage catches up to them. A note about the religious ghouls is that they are incredibly naive about the outside world. Many of them have never left the caves since they originally arrived in the 1700s, and they regard stories about things like cars, TV, and planes as either human superstition or strange magics unknown to them.

As a last note, in more recent history (1941 specifically), a sinkhole at a New York construction site accidentally uncovered a major ghoul byway. The ghouls attempted to scare away the builders via sabotage, but accidentally caught the wrong kind of attention; specifically, our old friend Stephen Alzis. Alzis summoned the ghouls and told them he was going to build over the sinkhole, and they were going to give him full access to their tunnels, and in return, the highest-ranking in the cult would periodically be provided with fresh bodies. The ghouls refused, but after Alzis killed their leader, they figured out he was serious, and agreed to his terms. And thus, Club Apocalypse came to be.


Next time: John Tynes rewrites the Hastur Mythos.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Yeah, saying semiotics is just the study of what @ and Q are is seriously, painfully, almost offensively reductive. In a world of actual factual magic having signifier and signified being important is an actual interesting twist.

I mean, it's sort of like saying psychotherapy is the study of curing poobrain. Yeah sure, reductio ad absurdum.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Alien Rope Burn posted:

I haven't really had plans to do them or really intended to claim them, so it wouldn't be sniping at all! Feel free to do Pathfinder stuff, I may return to it someday, but after doing the core it just feels like anything I would have to add would just just be beating on a dead horse. Certainly, you'd be better off doing the later Bestiaries, because there's more original creatures to comment on rather than my original misery of "gently caress, what do I say about owlbears that hasn't been said?"
Keen. My three big goals after TGM's sourcebooks are the Pathfinder Bestiaries due to my unhealthy obsession with monsters to the detriment of any other RPG subject I try to write in my own time, the various attempts to "Pathfinderize" d20 Modern, and the two occult American Revolution roleplaying games out there (Colonial Gothic and Northern Crown).



Adnachiel posted:

Alright.

Hex-O is credited with this monstrosity.:nms: I was under the impression that they were an in-verse producer of educational materials and the disclaimer for the thing you're talking about was just a way to cover their rear end from... magical lawsuits or something.

How the gently caress does that even work?! Goats are four-limbed vertebrates like us, why wouldn't a transmutation like that just involve "face becomes goat face, legs become goat legs" instead of goat head crotch? :psyduck:



Thankfully, my post has nothing to do with horrific face-dicks. Instead, we get to start out with those requested class combo and occupation images from the Modern Player's Companion before we head into MPC2.







Alright then, with that out of the way, let's head onward.




The Modern Player's Companion 2 covers both some d20 Modern staples the first MPC didn't cover and some features that were not truly relevant until Wizards of the Coast published the d20 Modern sourcebook Urban Arcana.



A Show of Character
Talents
One of the key features of d20 Modern is that its base classes are based on the six ability scores - these being the Smart Hero (Intelligence), Dedicated Hero (Wisdom), Charismatic Hero (Charisma), Fast Hero (Dexterity), Tough Hero (Constitution), and Strong Hero (Strength) - and have selectable class features ("talents") rather than the fixed class features of D&D classes. Unsurprisingly, the Modern Player's Companion 2 gives us some new talents for all six base classes.
  • Strong Hero: The Strong Hero gets two new talents, both of which are tied to talent trees the d20 Modern Core Rulebook gave. The talent Greater Extreme Effort lets you take a full round action to take 10 on a Strength-based skill check, while the Improved Melee Critical talent lets you increase the critical hit threat range of a melee weapon by 1.
  • Fast Hero: The Fast Hero gains a whole new talent tree, the Instinctive Response tree, with three talents within it. The talent Full Alert basically grants you Improved Initiative for free and stacks with said feat, Improved Evasion lets you take no damage on those whole "Reflex save for half-damage" powers such as breath weapons, and Heightened Reflexes lets you take 10 on a Reflex save and spend an action point to gain a +10 bonus to the Reflex save. IF that last one sounds crazy for a base class, it is, but the creators of d20 Modern seem to have an unfair amount of love for the Fast Hero.
  • Tough Hero: Like the Strong Hero, the rough and tumble Tough Hero gets two new talents for talent trees it already had. The Improved Resistance talent doubles the energy resistance granted by the Energy Resistance talent, while the talent Stay in the Game lets the Tough Hero spend an action point to re-roll a failed Fortitude save against massive damage.
  • Smart Hero: The Smart Hero gets two new talents and a new talent tree, lucky devil. The Adapt talent lets a Smart Hero that gets hit by the same enemy three times make an Intelligence check that, if successful, grants a dodge bonus to Defense against that foe equal to the amount of levels in Smart Hero the character has, while the talent Abuse Weakness lets the Smart Hero spend an action point to automatically confirm a critical hit. The new talent tree is entitled Deduction, and has three talents within its progression: Logical is a talent that lets you use your Knowledge skills to provide synergy with other skills (for instance, Knowledge [Current Events] grants you synergy with Gather Information, while Knowledge [Business] gets you synergy with the Forgery skill), the Talk a Good Game talent lets the Smart Hero replace a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check with a Knowledge check for situations where the Logical talent would apply, and the Implacable talent lets the Smart Hero take 10 even when distracted or stressed for a number of Intelligence-based skills equal to 3 + the Smart Hero's Intelligence modifier.
  • Dedicated Hero: The Dedicated Hero is another case of having two talents for old trees. The Observant talent grants the character's base Will save bonus to Sense Motive and Gather Information checks, while the Sixth Sense talent is basically a "least dangerous path?" divination with an action point cost instead of magic.
  • Charismatic Hero: Last but not least, we have the Charismatic Hero with two new talents rather than a tree: Misdirect is a talent that lets the Charismatic Hero make a Charisma check during an attack action to convince an intelligent target to ignore them in favor of another "more dangerous" target (whether or not that's actually true), and the Greater Charm talent lets you attempt to immediately turn an unfriendly NPC into an apathetic one instead.


Variant Rules
Sort of pushed after the new talents are a few new variant rules for d20 Modern. The first of these is an interesting one on the topic of multilingual nations and cultures. The creators note that having one starting language is not exactly always realistic in our world of Earth, and that with the Game Master's permission you can have multiple starting languages without spending skill points. There aren't really many rules for this: fiction-based artificial languages cannot be granted by starting multilingual and must be granted by spending skill points (no starting Klingon for you, buddy), and the GM has the say on whether or not your selected languages are okay for your concept and the campaign (being a German-American doesn't exactly mean you should get Speak Elven as a bonus language).

The other variant rules are all discussions of money. The Wealth system d20 Modern runs on is meant to emulate having a modern individual's cash flow and banking ability rather than having gold coins in the back of your pocket any time you want something. Some people felt the system created was a bad decision and gave players too much freedom for buying goods. As a result, the creators decided that they'd address this in the Modern Player's Companion 2. Their answer is pretty much "don't do it, you dumbass, our system makes life easier", but they also give options for "bean counting" if you want to have your characters on a short leash for buying power or "credit rating" if you want to have your characters be Mitt Romney.




Advanced and Prestige Classes
Advanced Classes
More new advanced classes? Sure!
  • Arcane Scholar: With this advanced class, you are king of the magic nerds. Rather than getting any spells, this advanced class focuses on resisting spells, figuring out the signs of magic, researching magic, and using supernatural equipment such as scrolls, wands, and the like. There's already a class in the d20 Modern Core Rulebook called the Occultist that is meant for low magic settings, and even it has more mojo than the Arcane Scholar, so I'm not sure what I'd call the niche of this advanced class. Really low magic? Magic wannabe? Magic: Charlie Brown Edition? I dunno.
  • Bounty Hunter: This advanced class gives characters the powers of attack and investigative bonuses toward a specific target, proficiency at non-lethal takedowns, and lovely looking mullets.
  • Confidence Artist: More of an antihero or NPC than your standard adventure, this advanced class reflects the gold-tongued con artist who is ultimately out for number one even if they are working with a team. Most of the class features involve boosting various social skills and Sleight of Hand based on the levels in this advanced class, with a few exceptions such as the ability to use the Bluff skill to shift blame for the Confidence Artist's crimes onto another person or convince bystanders it's all just a misunderstanding.
  • Fixer: A very specific advanced class, the Fixer focuses almost entirely on gaining contacts and eventually being able to call in favors from strong NPCs when the occasion calls for it. There are also a few added tidbits such as a bonus to Wealth checks to find objects on-hand.
  • Hacker: Do you like messing with computers enough to spend 10 class levels specifically for that? If so, I guess this is the advanced class for you. While I noted the Fixer is a very specific advanced class, that's more in scope than in potential, as a know-everybody individual can be useful in many settings. The Hacker advanced class more or less shoehorns you into having to have lots of computer-based encounters. I could see it being fairly interesting for some NPCs or in, say, a conspiracy theory campaign where you're striking out against The Man.
  • Transporter: This vehicle-based class is one of the few cases of overlap between official d20 Modern material, sharing a lot of features with the Urban Arcana advanced class called the Speed Demon. The Transporter is a bit more focused on tricks and fancy moves compared to the Speed Demon's "juice this motherfucker!", however, so they manage to at least somewhat stand out from each other.


Prestige Classes
As stated in the last review, prestige classes in d20 Modern are defined as having 5 levels and meant for at least halfway through your character's career compared to the early access 10 level advanced classes. They aren't really used often in Wizards of the Coast's d20 Modern books or in that many third party sourcebooks I've read, but there are at least a few here for us to go over.
  • Commander: The Commander is a prestige class that uses Charisma checks to give various boosts to allies or demoralizing enemies.
  • Dark Sage: Interestingly enough, this prestige class entirely relies on the incantations system added in Urban Arcana rather than anything in the d20 Modern Core Rulebook. D20 Modern magic usually only goes up to 5th level spells, with anything more powerful being in the form of incantations, which take long periods of time, high Knowledge (Arcane Lore) checks rather than innate magic, and usually have some other high price such as expensive materials, backlash on the caster, or need for secondary casters. While this prestige class doesn't lower the time, it does lower other costs, eventually making the Dark Sage into a single caster with a single check. Think the experienced ritualist as opposed to the cabal of cultists.
  • Martial Arts Master: I'm actually not going to go over this prestige class yet, as its primary class features are based on something from a different TGM sourcebook.
  • Master Tinkerer: This prestige class has two main features - making mastercraft items and building robots. Both of these are made useless by materials in Wizards of the Coast's d20 Future sourcebook.
  • Mentalist: Basically an Archmage for psionics.
  • Psionic Assassin: A Soulknife squished into five levels.
  • Silent Intruder: If the Infiltrator advanced class from the d20 Modern Core Rulebook isn't enough sneaking and thieving for you, this prestige class adds even more sticky fingers, disappearing from view easily, and hiding in plain sight.




...And The Rest
Feats
Honestly, there's not much to say about feats this time around. Most are either psionic versions of metamagic feats, D&D imports like Cohort and Brain Burn, or a tree of feats that grants spell resistance. The only feats that really get to the standard of the first Modern Player's Companion are Follow That Car (spend an action point, tail a vehicle in a chase better) and Signature Skills (get two more permanent class skills on top of what you get from your occupation). There is also the 1st level only feat Multilingual and a similarly featified version of the Smart Hero's Linguist talent, but that was already gone over back in the segment on rules variants.


Equipment
The big deal around equipment this time is the books system, something that is rather novel and was surprisingly not even briefly mentioned in any d20 Modern supplements published by WotC. Basically, books give you an equipment bonus to specific Knowledge checks, the size and skill varying. For instance, a popular magazine on celebrities will only net you a +1 equipment bonus to Knowledge (Popular Culture) checks, while a heavily specialized textbook on biomechanics would grant a +5 equipment bonus to Knowledge (Physical Sciences) checks. There's even a handy way to replicate a whole library's worth of books for those cram sessions.

Modern Player's Companion 2 also has some more equipment packages. These are not only more occupations than those from the equipment packages segment of the original MPC, there are even some packages this time around that are tailored toward multiple similar occupations rather than just one. The equipment packages provided are for Academic, Blue Collar, Emergency Services, Jet Set (the Celebrity, Entrepeneur, and Dilettante occupations) Military, Scientist (Doctor and Technician), Vagabond (pretty much any occupation on the move), and White Collar.


FX Abilities
Last but not least, the Modern Player's Companion 2 gives those who want a big more magic in their lives just that. Since there aren't a huge amount of spells or magic items, I'll be going over all of both. Let's start with the spells.
  • Catalog: A 1st level arcane spell that lets you touch a container size Huge or smaller and get a written list of all of the items inside of it in generic terms. Good for those who are really obsessive about their stuff.
  • Close Shave: A 0 level arcane and divine spell for making where you touch smooth and hairless for a week per caster level. I'm sure there's some use for this someone can think up that isn't related to vanity.
  • Computer Catalog: Catalog, but for the programs and files on a computer.
  • Fast Food: Another 0 level arcane and divine spell. You sacrifice a menu from the food place in question and a $5 bill and get a warm, fresh meal from the place in question. I guess this could be a good use of a spell slot if you're really strapped for food.
  • Fill Prescription: A 2nd level divine spell that lets you bypass the doctor's office by summoning a dose of medicine yourself. You need an authentic medical prescription pad as a material component, though.
  • Make-Over: This 2nd level arcane and divine spell changes up your clothing, hair style, and makeup. It's only used for snazzing things up (or dressing them down, potentially), not for doing something defensive such as turning street clothes into armor or anything.
  • Mood Lighting: A 0 level arcane and divine spell. You can dim lights in a room to low-light levels or up them to daylight levels, though the latter doesn't work as natural sunlight would and thus won't be made into a cheap anti-vampire assault spell.
  • Personal Soundtrack: AKA the best spell ever. With this 1st level arcane and divine spell, you can make a certain action lead to a certain sound occur, like having a sick guitar riff play whenever you attack or your walk result in Stayin' Alive playing around you. On the one hand, it's a purely cosmetic spell with no in-game effect, but on the other hand :iia:
  • Resurrect Computer: A 3rd level divine spell for when you really need to repair a broken computer and make it good as new.
  • Search Room: You get a super-boosted Search check for a specific object with this 1st level arcane and divine spell.
  • Send as Attachment: This is probably one of the coolest spells in the Modern Player's Companion 2. With this 4th level arcane spell, you can send physical objects from one place to another by magically attaching them to an e-mail and send it to the desired destination.
  • Tidy Up: A 2nd level arcane and divine spell, Tidy Up cleans a room and straightens up any mess.

And for the magic items, we have...
  • Backup Disc: You can copy a computer's hard drive without needing any access to it or waiting for data transfer. Only one copy can exist on the CD at a time.
  • Barrel of Monkeys: A child's toy turned into a weapon (sort of), you can summon 1d4 monkeys from this plastic barrel. If your foes aren't injured by the monkeys, I'm sure they'll at the very least have some lung damage from fits of choking laughter at the silliness of the situation.
  • Grinder Organ of Obedience: You get a +5 bonus (or +10 against non-human primates) to Handle Animal checks as long as you turn this organ grinder.
  • Laser Pointer Grappling Hook: This laser pointer is capable of acting like a grapple-firing crossbow, for when you don't want to carry a whole crossbow around.
  • Medicine Bottle: The fill prescription spell as a magical item.
  • Observant Ornament: A lawn gnome, desk bobblehead, or some other such ornament that lets you see and hear from its perspective for up to 10 minutes once per day.
  • Portable Hub: A LAN that needs no wires, instead having special magical nodes that lets computers connect together to it no matter how far away they are.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Next time: we have three more d20 Modern companion series and a minor sourcebook from The Game Mechanics to go. You, the viewers, choose what we subject we go for from them next - kung fu action, future stuff, cops and robbers, or urban magic.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Zereth posted:

What's a "Wizard Jack"? Capitalized, so we know it's Important. :confused:

Jack-of-all-trades. I capitalized it because I let auto-correct proofread for me. I'll just edit that.

Mr. Maltose posted:

Yeah, saying semiotics is just the study of what @ and Q are is seriously, painfully, almost offensively reductive. In a world of actual factual magic having signifier and signified being important is an actual interesting twist.

I mean, it's sort of like saying psychotherapy is the study of curing poobrain. Yeah sure, reductio ad absurdum.

I'll admit I'm using Wikipedia to fact check but I still maintain that I'm being more sensible about it than Wick. I'll probably edit in a disclaimer later though.

Majuju
Dec 30, 2006

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



What on earth is happening with those boobs?!

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Majuju posted:



What on earth is happening with those boobs?!

It looks like 2004 Drew Barrymore was the model for the one on the left.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Barrymore through the DC Comics House Art Filter, jesus.

Mr. Maltose fucked around with this message at 15:38 on Oct 8, 2013

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book Five: Triax and the NGR Part 5: "Like the Pre-Rifts movie monster, Godzilla, the massive robot can plod into an enemy stronghold, topple buildings, squash vehicles under its feet, and release incredibly devastating salvos of missles or energy blasts."

Robot Vehicles, Tanks, and Power Armor

First, we get the standard features for robots. The main new one is that all X-series bots come with a distress beacon ("send more paramedics"), and the language translator comes with Brodkil (apparently they have their own language), Simvan (them too), Kittani, and Demongogian (spoken by demons and people from Wormwood).

X-Series Power Armor & Robot Combat Vehicles

Once again we get a definition of power armor versus robot vehicles, but since even the book can't decide the exact dividing line between the two, gently caress it.

Triax X-10A Predator Power Armor


Left, Triax X-10A, right, Bubblegum Crisis' AD Police K-11

Just like the Triax X-10 Predator Power Armor, but with slight upgrades for better M.D.C. and top speed. See my Rifts Sourcebook writeup for the mass-market version.

X-60 Flanker Urban Defender


Exposed arms for easy removal.

This is basically a giant exoskeleton designed for urban combat, and it quick to suit up and easy to use. According to the text it's very fast, but at 50 MPH it's slower than a glitter boy. It often uses gas missles to disperse crowds. It's basically the NGR's cop power armor, though it's also used as a cargo hauler on military bases. The military version generally carries more offensive missiles and handheld firepower.

It's pretty solid and tough, but an attacker can take severe penalities to try and target the pilot (generally 18-20 or better with bonuses). It has extendable arms for grappling crims, a baton launcher that does minor S.D.C. but has a falt 50% chance of knocking a non-superhuman target down, and it can also be used to disarm foes and stun them. It also has grenade launchers that generally launch flashbangs, smoke, or frag grenades, and mini-missile launchers. It also has your standard sensor array and homing beacon.

Your move, creep.

Triax X-535 Hunter


Left, Triax X-535, right, the Hammer from Metal Skin Panic.

Also known as the "Jager", which means... uh... hunter. This is their main infantry bot, and is the star of the comic story. It has middling M.D.C., but run around at a zoomy 140 MPH. At 12' tall, it's just barely a robot vehicle. Its main armaments are a handheld rail gun, S.D.C. machineguns in the head (often armed with rubber bullets), and "concealed" mini-missile launchers. Concealed mini-missile launchers are common enough in these writeups I have to wonder if Siembieda doesn't get a kickback from mini-missile producers. It has your standard sensors, but no beacon for whatever reason.


The X-535 head may seem familiar to readers of Masamune Shirow's Appleseed.


What monkey do you have on your back?

One of its big deals is that it can have a variety of zany shoulder-mounted artillery weapons put on its shoulders, though they reduce its speed and combat bonuses by "25%". Does that mean even the natural bonuses of the pilot are hindered? It's not really clear. The attachable units are:
  • TX-843P Interchangeable Particle Cannon: Does solid damage with its zappy bits.
  • TX-842FC Interchangeable, Recoilless, Anti-Aircraft Flak Cannon: This is can be set by computer to auto-attack enemies, but it isn't clear if it gets its own attacks at once. At full fire, it's actually comparable to a boom gun, but it reduces speed and bonuses by 50%.
  • TX-884I Interchangeable Ion Cannon & Missile Launcher: Fires volleys of medium range missiles or surprisingly plinky damage (1d6 x 10) from the main gun. Despite having 12 missle bays, can only fire four at a time, for whatever reason.
  • TX-871MM Interchangeable Rotary Missle Drum Launchers: For the mini-missile afficiando. Carries 96 missiles (!) can can shoot 48 at a time, making it ridiculously damaging (48d x 10). With an average output of 1680 damage, this makes it capable of pretty much destroying most man-made targets, and even crippling dragons. And it can do it twice. I have a feeling this was not thought out very well. Expensive to fire, though.


Oh, yeah, that looks fuckin' practical.

Triax X-545 Super Hunter


The firm, taut nipples of war.

This is supposed to be your "hold-the-line!" version of the Jager. It's also known as the "Armored Jager", in an odd mixing of tongues. It's beefier and actually pretty drat tough, and carries the same weapons plus a respectable pair of ion cannons in the front, shoulder mini-missile launchers, an extra vibro-sword, even more mini-missiles in the leg, and leg-mounted flamethrowers (not very damaging, but can start minor mega-damage fires). It's only about half as fast, though, and can't use all the modular systems the normal Jager can. If the Jager is the NGR's veritech, this is the NGR's super veritech.

Triax X-622 Bug


Battle bean.

Also known as the "Kaefer", this is an eight ton robot APC that can hold... six people? And two are the pilot and gunner? That's not much personnel being carried. It has respectably decent M.D.C., but has a really vulnerable sensor system that can be trivially destroyed, leaving the vehicle half-blind. It's not deeply swift, going around 60 MPH, but can submerge and zoom around in the water as a submarine for 30 MPH.

It has an average rail gun, but sometimes it's loaded with U-rounds (described later), has a laser turret that's really more of a laser rifle, mini-missiles (of course), and has clinchy crab claws that can immobilize enemies (but there are no rules for this). It has a light sensor package to round it out.

It also leaves a very distinct set of tracks, I'm sure.


Oh, and it's similar to the "Land Masters" of Appleseed.

Triax X-821 Landcrab


Not actually that much like a crab.

This is the combat version of the bug, and is significantly tougher and better armed, actually standing out as one of the tougher robot vehicles in the game, though it's slightly slower. It has "multi-weapon" arms with particle beam cannons (medium damage) and rail guns (low damage, but it notes they can be loaded with U-rounds). It also has forgettable laser turrets and, of course, mini-missiles. You know, if every vehicle is using missiles like this, aren't they the norm, and everything else is mega-missiles? Just a thought. It has "standard" senors, and can clamp with its claws, clamp clamp.

Triax X-2000 Dyna-Max


heyyy

This is the newest robot design, and is designed to slug it out with oversized monsters with its heavy arms. It has heavy armor, and can truck around 70 MPH. It gets special "slammer" missles that knock targets down and slow them down. They do medium damage, but have a change of knocking down and stunning targets. Given you can fire two at a time and they have a 65% flat chance of stunning foes, they can do a number on pretty much any monster, considering the robot packs 12 shots and the stun lasts 15 seconds to a full minute. It has forearm lasers that do light damage, vibro-swords, "tiny gun arms" with rail guns that do pathetic damage, mini-missiles in the leg, and a small flamethrower on each leg. It notes it can carry a cyborg rail gun in, but why? It does way more damage on its own. It has the full broad array of nonsense sensors, and that's all.

If it wasn't for the "slammer" missiles, it'd be forgettable, but as it is it can leave enemies on their rear end trapped in stunlock for the length of a combat quite easily.

Oh, and some wondered "why all the leg missiles?" The answer is: Robotech.


Hmmmm.

Triax X-2500 Black Knight


Asymmetrical warfare.

This is one of Triax's larger vehicles, but we get little flavor text on it otherwise. Instead, it's designed to take on big monsters, which makes it feel a little redundant purpose-wise compared to the Dyna-Max, but let's roll with it.

It has a ion cannon, forearm lasers, two vibro-blades, an electrified mace that can shoot lighting, grenade launchers, and mini-missiles. Virtually nothing it has does serious damage, so it's kind of crap at its assigned role. It's strong in melee, which to say it does marginally more damage than other robots of its type. It has a broad sensor suite, and... that's it. For its threatening image, it really isn't as dangerous as many other bots. It has a high degree of durability, around that of a glitter boy, but can't dish out anything comparable to what it can take.

Triax X-2700
Dragonwing



Further proof of Carlin's bigger dick theory of warfare.

This is the only flying giant robot that Triax has; it folds its legs in to become thrusters, and has anti-radar paint and jamming systems that foil most radar systems. It can hover and jet around, or operate underwater, to engage flying threats. They're also often used as aerial escorts. It generally has a pilot and a gunner, where the gunner handles the tail guns and weapon arms.

It's modestly tough, and its weapon arms have lasers and ion cannons that do mild damage. Its machineguns do damage that's barely worth mentioning. Its only real heavy weapons is the ability to fire "concealed" chest medium-range missiles for heavy damge. It also has lasers on its tail that do light damage, can use the electro mace, and can be fitted with optional slammer bombs that work like the missiles on the Dyna-Max. It also has a "Glitter" variant that uses the same laser-reflective technology as the glitter boys.

Another Siembieda trope at this point: artist didn't draw a missile port or whatever other weapon you wanted? Call it "concealed" or "optional", and call it a day! Oh, the art of RPG writing!



Compare with Robotech's Zentraedi mecha designs.

Triax X-5000 Devastator


It's a Gundaaaam

This is the biggest robot Triax has constructed at 50' tall, and marches around slowly, and as such is generally supported by other units in assaults. A lot of its armaments are long-range, and it's more vulnerable close-in, supposedly. It has no rules limitations that make it more vulnerable in that sense, though.

Rifts World Book Five: Triax & the NGR posted:

During one recent battle behind enemy lines, the gargoyle legions broke through an infantry stronghold.

...

During those long minutes, it was estimated that the Devastator destroyed or disabled three giant gargoyle bots, five baalrog demons, two dozen gargoyles, and over 100 gurgoyles.

Now, if you're versed with the system, you may find it shaky, and I'm going to mention that it is possible, but only if the Devastator could catch most of its foes in its long-range missiles (which the description just said it couldn't use at that range. But rules-wise, it shakes out better than usual. Where it falls down, though, is that even with its 1500 M.D.C., that number of foes would just pile on damage too fast; it'd fall in several minutes, much less the fifteen minutes it was supposed to last in that example.

Ha! I bet you thought I couldn't nitpick that. There are too many chinks in your rules armor, Sir Rifts.

Weapons: "super" laser cannon (light damage, not at all super), "super" ion cannon (does decent damage, but certainly not super), long-range and medium missile launchers (the main firepower dispensers), mini-missiles (they're like the french fries of the Triax meal combos), ion belly turret (sucks), and high melee damage (still not much compared to its actual weaponry, tho). It also has all the sensors.

So yeah. That's done with. But what's up with Sir and Kid?



But... "bogie" refers to an aircraft or UFO (as in unidentified, not alien), not robots...

Next: Terminators for humanity!

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








Fossilized Rappy posted:

  • Mentalist: Basically an Archmage for psionics.
  • Psionic Assassin: A Soulknife squished into five levels.
Wait, were these still based on the :suicide:-terrible psionics mechanics from 3.0 or the really good ones from 3.5? I recall d20 Modern sticking a lot to the former.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Alien Rope Burn posted:

But... "bogie" refers to an aircraft or UFO (as in unidentified, not alien), not robots...

Obviously they mean this Bogie:

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



pospysyl posted:



Like I said, the cover is pretty good. The original Tradition Books were some of the best looking paperbacks that White Wolf was putting out at the time. You have some crazy dualist symbolism going on, and a tastefully worn cover. Donít hold out much hope for the rest of the art.
The cover is worn by wear, not intentionally. When new these books were very shiny.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Doomsday-Y



Superhero comics have had a long, sometimes strange history with regard to gender relations. There's classic Jimmy Olsen going around in drag, under cover. There's just as classic Reed Richards telling Sue Storm that her female brain just couldn't cut it in the field of smartness. Even the inoffensive SuperFriends ran afoul of a radical feminist who brainwashed the world's women into turning all the world's men into computer tapes with eyebeams apparently all women have. Except the Superfriends, because the only woman in their clubhouse was Wonder-Woman, and they no-sold that faster than you can say 'golden lasso'.

Of course, given Super-Babes is built on the premise of controlling frightening women through embarrassment and casual cruelties, they just had to do something in that vein. Doomsday-Y is the unfortunate result.

Forty four pages, including dedication. The credits page state that it's copyright 1997, and the introduction is marked 1996, which is a surprise: frankly, I thought this whole thing would have folded after a year or two.

The back matter claims that while the module is meant to be played with the Femforce characters (like Casey at the Bat, and like... who would want to play their own characters, in a system that's 90% chargen material?), it can be modified for play with 'low level lassies'. This is technically the truth. Level adjustments for the foes are brief, half-assed, and the absolute weakest still sit at 7th level. But really, who's going to play their own characters?

Summarizing the introduction, W.O.M.A.N. (Womyn Opposing Misogyny And Neglect) is an organization dedicated to gender equality, willing to use terrorist tactics, and with sleeper agents in almost every important government or corporate organization in the world. Except, presumably, the ones where women aren't allowed to work. A page and a half briefly details how a bunch of poorly described supervillainesses came together to form the organization and... yeah.

In a particularly hosed-up twist, some of these characters are actually sympathetic. Their leader, Pulsator, lived in the shadow of her villainous brother, and that ruined her attempts to go on the straight and narrow. Indigo Jo (wanted in... Hazard County, ugh) turned the tables on a physically abusive husband and accidentally beat him to death when her own super powers manifested. The booklet notes she was sent to prison on trumped-up charges because her husband was cousin to the sheriff. Pixie is a man-hating lesbian who likes to make passes in combat! She figures in some of the horror to come. Firefox is wanted 'by all red-blooded males'. She just wants to be rich and famous. Malefica is a Satanic rock musician and magical megalomaniac. Megadeath is Malefica's younger sister, possessed by a demon. Turbocharger is a Toni Stark who got bumped from taking over the family business when Dad's fair-haired boy returned from the dead.

Oh, and they have minions. B.I.M.B.O.s are grunts, armed with sonic pistols and light armor; their gear is cursed so that if their helmets are forcibly removed, their thoughts are rifled, or they hear someone reciting the Miranda rights, their hair turns blonde and their minds go blank for a brief but undisclosed duration. An organization dedicated to the forcible advancement of women, everyone!

B.A.B.E. agents have stripped down versions of the Turbocharger armour.

Oh, and a bit after either group are captured, a Harley Queen arrives with transfer papers for them to Harkum Asylum (run by Dr. Jay Ochre). Parody is one thing, but this is bordering on scribbling 'poop!' on a mirror with feces.

So! Thirty pages in, we finally get to the plot. And the plot is this:

Pulsator wants to turn all the men in the world into women.

Yep.

So that, and technology and techniques to use one human egg to fertilize another, so the human race doesn't die off while staring uncomfortably at itself. Since she'd be the only one working toward that technology, at first she figures that she can use it as sociopolitical leverage as the new order starts sorting itself out. She just needs to kidnap and convince a certain scientist who has used these techniques to pursue a disastrous Jurassic Park reference. This is where the PCs come in.

A stupidly elaborate plan finds the villains trying to extract the scientist from a performance of the Ring cycle... that the player characters have been forced to attend as part of a charity event. Because, you know, culture sucks. Things kind of go awry from there: if there's a magical PC, she notices someone putting the whammy on the scientist; if there isn't, the spell affects a PC too.

quote:

Should your players prove to be incredibly dense and not get the hint, all is not lost.
No, you could take that as a hint and find something that they'd rather be playing. Thanks for the tip! But no, they suggest having a bad guy panic and take a shot. This should all lead to a big fight in the mezzanine, which the PCs should not end up precisely winning. If they get the scientist, the scenario is over. In the name of 'keeping it light', the writers suggest having a villain animate a Femforce character's magic cloak so that it eats a few spectators.

An interstitial scene follows, involving WOMAN dragging away the remnant parts of a discontinued government super-clone project. Mindless, female, super-human clones intended to be commanded by men. This is getting creepily self-aware.

The one that follows there is a lot of dragging around by the nose, as the forces of WOMAN decide to try and recruit the PCs. Side characters are kidnapped! Women are tied up in webs! Mechanics are abused to force the characters to listen, and notes are doled out to the GM so that awkward uses of powers don't short circuit themselves.

Pulsator makes strong arguments. It's almost like the writers are aware of how gross Super-Babes is, really. Unfortunately, she's really kind of dead-set on that crazy global sex-change thing. Doubly unfortunately, she's smart enough to know that she can't leave the characters a way out if they decide to join with intent to double-cross: to that end, she arranges to have them discredited in a raid on a handful of trucks transporting nuclear warheads. I think warheads are removed from missiles for that kind of transport, but... gently caress it. Comic books. WOMAN tapes things, the PCs are persona non-grata. Missiles happen.

If the party refused to join up with WOMAN (this is especially likely if Ms. Victory is there, or on the slim chance there are any male PCs), this is where the adventure splices back in after their daring escape. Missiles may or may not have been got, but Pulsator has the two eggs, one baby thing licked (and at a cost only slightly greater than hormonal birth control, how wacky), the 'gynomorphic airborne transmutation media' has been successfully tested on lab chimps, and now it's time for human trials!

If the PCs joined up, Pixie returns from pizza with a few BIMBO agents and a traumatized, sex-changed Atoman slung over her shoulder, talking about how she's got a new girl who needs help getting in touch with her feminine side. The book referring to her as a 'blatant lesbian' aside, the PCs really should step in to prevent a goddamned rape from occurring offstage. Strangely, unlike scenes with heroines wetting themselves or being sexually assaulted by Da Sponge, we're not instructed to play this one for laughs.

If there's a male PC, Pixie might grab him instead. We're instructed to be sure this won't piss the player off, and that an antidote is possible... which makes me imagine this whole scheme going off, only to be negated by massive programmes to develop and distribute boy-jabs worldwide.

Or the PCs might be stuck babysitting Atoman in the scene on the front cover. This being Super-Babes, and a scene involving a male character, Atoman is... an rear end in a top hat. Put a wedding ring on him, and he's goatse. Worse, the supergroup he's in and the one the PCs are in mix as well as water and oil, and he's the slimy part. He's scuzzy. He's dumb. He's a chauvinist prick. He's also the focus of a very long, very dull ceremony that plods along until Pixie and her backup arrive, and Atoman becomes Atomwoman on stage.

quote:

Needless to say, Atomwoman freaks. You'd lose it too if Mr. Happy suddenly up and packed his bags without leaving a forwarding address. He becomes completely ineffective, screaming hysterically but not resisting as Pixie tosses "her" over her shoulder and attempts to take off.
By this point, the PCs are supposed to consider this comeuppance. At the same time, we're supposed to drop Deliverance references in the hopes of encouraging the PCs to give chase and not let Pixie rape the new girl. If the PCs win, Pulsator might trade a dose of antidote (possibly bogus, probably keyed to Atoman's biochemistry-- don't need the good guys duplicating it!) in return for her flunkies. Or not, depending on whether the final battle could use them.

Pulsator's had to push her schedule up an entire year, thanks to Pixie's stunt. She's ready though, and according to some techno-wankery the gas (actually bacteria) will breed in the ionosphere and rain down constantly, so that if someone does develop an antidote they'll need to keep dosing themselves with it. With only a few canisters' worth of gas-whatever-now bred, she has to target very specific altitudes and locations in order to get the stuff to propagate. And in comic style she makes some smart decisions (knocking out rocket tracking emplacements) and some really dumb ones (releasing her announcement, worldwide, before the birds are in the air).

If the PCs went with WOMAN, there will probably be a fight with a supergroup statted in another book before the announcement goes up. If they get cold feet afterward, the agents that have been shadowing them will put guns to the heads of the unconscious heroes-- apparently, like in Palladium and D&D, a coup de gras is a coup de gras. If they stayed good girls, another standoff occurs as their military liason's secretary turns out to be another WOMAN agent and dead set on helping the new order to pass.

However those go down, and assuming that the PCs haven't been swayed by talk of reproductive responsibility and single-gendered solidarity, a climactic battle ensues in what looks suspiciously like the NORAD command centre from Wargames. Here we're treated to a note about Nightveil, one of the Femforce PCs this adventure was supposedly designed for, who has a whopping 750 PP in her Magic pool, and Megadeath, who similarly has over 900 PP, and to feel free to stomp the former into the ground if her player dumps all of that into offensive power. If the PCs win, they've still got to take the radar-invisible (are they now? Oh, editing.) missiles down, but that's given over to the GM to sort out.

If that fouls up, or if the PCs have ended up going over to WOMAN's side, you can still handwave it! Maybe it only works in large concentrations. Maybe it didn't propagate properly. Maybe it only lasts for a few days, or a few weeks. Which... okay, it's a weird ending otherwise, but if the PCs managed to bungle things that badly, or if they actually joined up with WOMAN (and hopefully kept Pixie from executing someone's homophobic fantasies) it's really kind of hollow. At best. But as the core book makes awfully clear, it's the GM's game.

Oh, and the villains? If they're defeated, they'll probably get out sooner rather than later. Some of them are pretty, some of them can turn on the waterworks, and the attitude toward women and the judicial system in these books is like a distant echo of r/mensrights.

So there we have it. Attempted rape, Deliverance references, blatant lesbians, and an attempt to change the status quo that's probably doomed to fail even if the PCs do.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


NGDBSS posted:

Wait, were these still based on the :suicide:-terrible psionics mechanics from 3.0 or the really good ones from 3.5? I recall d20 Modern sticking a lot to the former.

Unfortunately it's mostly 3.0 style with different types of powers using different ability scores. Thankfully it isn't as bad here since FX aren't as dominant and versatility in your stats and classes is rewarded meaning MAD isn't as big of an issue. They also ditched Psionic Combat Modes :toot: so that's a big plus.


Midjack posted:

Obviously they mean this Bogie:


Does this mean Sir and Kid are gonna bite it and we'll get to follow the adventures of Humphrey Bogart and Humphrey Bogart?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

One weird thing I noticed the last time I played with Triax gear, is the one Hunter in the comic has some odd, un-described sensor pod mounted on one shoulder where those weapons packs go... and two of those packs have a nearly identical dish mounted on top, too.

I suggested to the GM that the standalone sensor pod be statted out, since it was easy to dig the relevant stats out, but he shrugged and :effort:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Bieeardo posted:

Doomsday-Y


Amazing. They write a whole adventure based around what is probably one of the writers' fetishes, but they couldn't even follow through at the end to have things have actual stakes apart from stopping the eeeeevil lesbian raping someone.

NihilVerumNisiMors
Aug 16, 2012


I see the HUD for the sooper sekret dont steal robots made in Germany is conveniently kept in English.

Okay, very minor point, but still.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Bieeardo posted:

I suggested to the GM that the standalone sensor pod be statted out, since it was easy to dig the relevant stats out, but he shrugged and :effort:

The last thing Rifts needs is another hit location to note, really. :rolleyes:

NihilVerumNisiMors posted:

I see the HUD for the sooper sekret dont steal robots made in Germany is conveniently kept in English.

We also have a German company named "Triax", which though conceivable (there is a real Danish company by that name that does not make giant robots), is an English name. So.

Bieeardo posted:

Doomsday-Y



Three things come to mind: one, you'd think just letting the villains succeed in their plan would at least fulfill the fetishy mission of the game. Two, of course Atoman develops heels (and a tighter outfit) along with his sex change. Three, I'm reminded of-



- yeah, that.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Magical Addiction!

Picture it: the mid Nineties. AD&D's second edition is getting fat and bloated. White Wolf has accidentally stumbled over a heretofore unknown source of role-playing gamers. Shadowrun has successfully jammed magic and machine together like chocolate and peanut butter, and industry standbys like Palladium Games are still ticking along nicely. Things are going surprisingly well for the industry, and nobody knows what's in store for litigious TSR in a few years.
There is, however, a wolf in the fold. It's been lurking for a few years, an ever-growing existential threat to the role-playing industry as we know it. This is Super-Babes' record of those tumultuous times.



Nah, just making GBS threads you. It's a cheap excuse to make gamer crack jokes. It's also, surprise of surprises, intended as an introductory adventure for characters of level zero through two, and actually set up so that this can be their first meeting as well.

This one's thirty two pages, somewhat thinner than Doomsday-Y, but the same ten bucks for what comes out to twenty pages of printed content. There's also eight pages of maps and a couple for the sole villain's sheets, and the last page...



...an abbreviation key that should have been in the front of the book. Yep, this is a Super-Babes joint all right.

quote:

The lower power level serves a multitude of purposes for the GM. By playing the characters together from inception, the GM gets a much better idea of what the party dynamics will be; who will lead, who will be problematic, who will leave plot threads strewn across the landscape...
And of course, the requisite bit of you vs. them.

Backstory wise, "Rich Odie" (These people wouldn't know funny if it pantsed them) who worked for Sorcerers on the Shore (...) created not-Magic the Gathering at the behest of the company CEO, actually a meat-puppet of a godlike entity that was trapped in the planes somewhere, and wanted a way out to Earth. Not-Magic is that way out: if CEO can get enough people playing with the cards (all of which are slightly magical, many of which bear the true names of various extradimensional creatures) can bridge the worlds and start stompin' around. To that end, he's been creating new cards and increasingly complex rules through executive fiat and booting Odie around.

Phase One is figuring out how to get the characters into the plot, by origin. The Adventuress's staff have been goofing off and playing Tragic, or somehow one of her friends has been hospitalized doing the same. The Artificial Being's creator is hooked on cardboard crack, and made her in the likeness of one of the cards. Hopefully she won't have to be torn down to evade copyright litigation, or be sucked into Limbo permanently because of weird metaphysical connections! Corporate Sponsored characters get sent to check out a factory or warehouse that got rolled over by a runaway card summon. Extradimensional characters get summoned by the cards. Extraterrestrials, marooned on primitive Earth, stumble across a card with a favored critter from home printed on it-- but that's impossible! Government Sponsored "There's been a marked increase in the number of RIO's (Reality Interruptus Occurrences); Control wants you to investigate and report. This message will self-destruct in five seconds." The Scientific Accident was perving on the new blonde research assistant, spilled their Coke as they leaned over to watch her play solitaire not-Magic, and sparks flew. And probably super-cancer. The Supernatural Accident probably had their cards explode. Or exploded from one. The Supernatural Pupil knows something's afoot, but not what, because their master is hooked on the game and doesn't have time to talk about such piddling things.

The Genetic Quirk gets a shrug. Admittedly, there isn't anything unique that would slot them into the deck, and several of the other ones would do in a pinch. Anyone else who refuses to grab a hook will have to be dragged to the first scene, kicking and screaming.

Next up are 'random' events, which aren't actually random, or wandering encounters, but... yeah. There's a note that states not-Magic cards will only work for Magical origin characters who also have 'uses cards' as part of their schtick, unless it serves the plot.

First, Giant Mutant Killer Bees attack a mini-mart, sensing sugar inside! They fly fast, have about 80 hits, are absurdly difficult to hit at level 0, and have a really obnoxious attack that only deals 1d6 damage... plus 3 HEALTH. At a +4 to hit, and three of the things on each PC involved, things could get awfully grim for a bunch of lowbies.

Second, an accidentally summoned juggernaut punches some inmate-sized holes in the county lockup. There are at least five inmates per PC, roughly as tough as the bees, but without the ridiculously dangerous poison. Five have stolen some trucks and shotguns, and are hell-bent on driving off into the sunset. Hopefully someone can Go Fast. If the guards survive (though they still lay claim to a light-hearted game, they encourage the GM to play things as gritty or light as they want), they can provide first-hand clues about weirdness regarding the cards.

Third, Weird Pete's Gaming Dungeon is overflowing with Rabid Snarling Badgers! Overflowing, literally: while they're slightly weaker than the other critters so far, four more spawn every round. The only way to stop this is to make your way to the back room, where two players are poo poo-talking each other while one's monster generator card spawns creatures in game and out. Nothing distracts them, but the next round one concedes and the badgers vanish.

Next up is a grab-bag of natural disasters hitting the suburbs. A small volcano, a brewing tidal wave, an earthquake in the making, a reference to that time Ren and Stimpy were firefighters, a clusterfuck of rescue vignettes. The cause here? A pair of oblivious kids playing Magical Addiction in the living room of a house surrounded by an obviously magical wall of fire. Of course, the game ends just as the PCs are coming in (again) and the menaces vanish. Of course, the cards that were in play correspond to the events unfolding outside. Of course, the kids are eager to teach them to play.

The city library is suddenly replaced with the Library of Alexandria, accompanied by an undisclosed number of Bronze Age citizens and angry guards. Two guys are in the back room, obliviously playing their game. This time the PCs can find the instigators near the end of their game, or the game can end when the guards are knocked out. The Library and anything taken from it return to the past.

Oh god. Creepy guy (coincidentally, rear end in a top hat playing the badger.swf card from before) gets a mind control card, realizes that he can use it for real, and goes after a sorority house. Escapee stumbles into a PC, or someone calls from inside, and hopefully someone intervenes. He's described as 'languishing' on a throne made of silk blouses and pillows, surrounded by a dozen 'cuddly, controlled co-eds'. Of course, he sends them after the PCs. There's at least five per character, they're tougher than anything else so far, almost as hard to hit as the bees (roughly 25% at level 0) and themselves hit harder than anything else the party's fought. Grand.
Then you get to fight creepy guy! He throws up a wall of spikes that's supposed to force the PCs to use ranged attacks, and hope nobody chose the same FX because his gimmick is neutralizing elemental attacks with 'cards' of an opposing sort, or just casting power drains. Fortunately, he's weaker than the sorority girls. Unfortunately, he's also going to come back as a full-blown villain. On the bright side, I'm the only one who had to slog through the gross comments about his weight and hygiene.

The last 'random' encounter, almost a dozen pages in, is downright mean. A local 'Lennys' :rolleye: is suddenly turned into a den of the undead. The patrons are zombies, the workers are onion-ring wraiths, and the book suggests that the cops are pissed, since the city doesn't have a doughnut shop in the area. Stunningly, the game says nothing about not killing the transformed patrons and staff. There are no numbers given, and only the skeletons are particularly hard to hit. The perps in this case are a couple of guys sequestered in a booth off to one side; the scene ends when the monsters are mashed, or when the PCs manage to convince one of the two to concede... which is difficult, as playing Addiction apparently turns you into a sociopath.

quote:

"WHAT? You mean lose... on PURPOSE? Just to save a bunch of people tha tI don't know or care about? Are you on drugs?"
No word on whether or not pounding the snot out of one of the players would work.

So. By now, the PCs should have figured out that something is up, the cards are magical, people are figuring out how to use them outside the context of the game... and that the goddamned things had to come from somewhere.

Phase two: a washed up magician and con artist, apparently hailing from Femforce #3, the Great Leolani comes onto the scene. His magical gimmick artifact is long gone, stolen by his erstwhile assistant Stella ("STELLA!") and he's been forced to live hand-to-mouth by being a small-time scumbag. Until now. Gimmick or not, he's a solid occultist, and while he may not know the ultimate intent behind the cards, he knows that they're an avenue to power.

So of course, the first thing he does when he gets to town is use one to summon a bunch of amazons, and commands them to knock over a... '6-10' convenience store. Okay. A dry run. Sure. Next, he accompanies a bunch of goblins to a jewelry store heist.

Third, he summons a loving dwarven demolition team and accompanies them to a bank robbery. This is where the PCs come in. They're too late for the explosion, but there's at least five dwarves (over a hundred hits each, and 25% to be hit by a given level zero PC) for each PC, armed with everything from pipe bombs to fireman's axes. There's at least a suggestion to have the dwarves pull back into a defensive position around Leo if things are going badly for the PCs, as the man himself throws down a Not Daern's Instant Fortress and... either makes his stand from inside, or uses it to cover a teleport. GM's choice.

If he escapes, the PCs have some legwork to do. It turns out, going from gaming store to gaming store, that Leo's been playing the game for at least four months, but only recently discovered the heart of the cards. They also note that he's bitter as gently caress and doesn't like women. "Go figure."

Then, a couple of days later, he takes over City Hall with another one of those mind control cards. God, I hated playing against Blue decks.

Leo's got some loving annoying powers. First is (swear to god) Circle of Protection: Superheroes. Nothing will be able to scratch him for several rounds, because. Meanwhile, he's throwing Fear (lose a round), Weakness (MUSCLES reduced to 1/4 for the whole combat), Paralyze (lose two rounds!), Entrap in Wall of Bone (100 hit barrier) and... Summon Floor Elemental (which grapples with a 100+ MUSCLES and has over 200 hits).

Then he summons something that breaks the game. No. Seriously. ~Plot~ demands that he summon The Behemoth, which is supposed to just loom menacingly, because it has over four thousand hit points and is rated at level one loving hundred. The characters will die fighting this thing. And the smug little sidebar needs to be seen to be believed.



...you loving assholes. Why? Why. Jesus Christ. Let the goddamn GM throw something together. Let the PCs beat on the big loving monster-- it's what PCs do, it's what goddamn superheroes do. Statting something up in a manner that doesn't even work in the context of your game, challenging the characters to rise to the occasion, even at the risk of utter annihilation? This is the bread and butter of the genre. Come... loving... on.

But wait! Here comes the yank of the plot's choke chain! "Now, this is one of those moments that always works in th ecomics and in the movies but never seems to work in RPGs, but we're gonna try it anyway." What, like the loving behemoth summoning? Jesus Christ.

Somebody gets to make a BRAINS roll on d20. They... you can probably guess. They see that one of Leo's feet is perilously close to the edge of his COP: Supers. They still have to do something to get him out, though. Illusions of Stella, a flirty appeal to his ego, or... gently caress... me.

Or a super-strong character could tear up the floor and spill him out of the Circle. Just like they could have done from square one.

Of course, getting him out of the circle has nothing to do with spotting his proximity to its perimeter, so I'm baffled as to what the gently caress that was about.

Oh, hey. Even better, someone could have grabbed the Mayor's desk and hucked it at the slimy prick. No super-powers crossing the Circle!

And this all assumes that nobody's armed with a traditional slugthrower. Not that they deal damage for beans.

And all this, for 300 XP.

Phase three. By hook or by crook, the PCs go to investigate Sorcerers on the Shore. There's a lame reference to the lovely, lovely Fallen Empires expansion, and a direct reference to CEO's very own card, which is fatally broken in that it's absurdly expensive to cast and powerful enough that everyone's going to try and wreck it as soon as it hits the table. Assuming they meet Odie, he jokingly mentions that he's never actually met his boss...

Oh, and Sorcerers Central is surrounded by concertina wire and damaging lasers. And the guy in the guardhouse turns into a dragon with over 700 hit points, that flies like a Meatloaf album, and that you're not going to hit for beans. Fortunately, you can get in with Rich in tow, and skip that TPK waiting to happen.

I... Jesus. This wasn't really great to begin with, but things took a turn with that fight in the Mayor's office. We're talking one in ten chance of hitting that dragon with an average zero-level character. It's over level ten itself. gently caress.

The regular offices are normal. The workers are normal. The conveyor belt that takes the finished cards (noteworthy, because most CCG cards are printed overseas) is normal. The boss's office... has never been used. The desk slides back, revealing a stone stairway into yawning darkness below.

At the bottom is something out of a Stephen King short story, the demonic printing press! It's making GBS threads out two thousand cards a minute, attended by Goblinoid Workers and Windup Gnomes. Nothing notices them until the party starts looking at the works. Then, the Press stops. If they start prying, the mooks... drop. Oh, and the press horks up a very special card: the Doppelganger.

Yep. The final battle is against carbon copies of themselves. A sidebar suggests that the GM make copies surreptitiously, '"In the interests of keeping my paperwork straight and making sure that your points are all spent appropriately" or some kind of bull like that.' Because yeah, they're still the same shitheads they were three years before.

If it's too easy, add some mooks. Or double up on dopplegangers. If things are going badly for the PCs (but how could that happen, with potentially thousands of hit points sloshing around in a slow-moving battle?) have a double toss a PC against the Press, which does a little damage and makes the doubles flicker like static. They suggest 100-200 HTK for the Press at this stage. I suggest throwing sheets into the air and announcing the party won, followed with a suggestion of parcheesi or something else.

With the Press destroyed the helper-mooks are gone, the Doppelgangers are gone, the godlike entity that was manipulating things is still stuck and is pissed at the party, and the cards have lost their magical power. They're still cardboard crack, and they're not leaving the gaming scene, but at least they aren't conjuring poo poo.

Oh, and both Leo and Billy the Creeper are going to have bones to pick with the PCs about the loss of their preferred power gimmicks.

I considered running this once. It's silly, it's an introductory adventure. But ye gods. That first encounter with the bees probably would have killed characters that didn't buy up HEALTH by the gallon. Not one, but two of the same, bad gimmick boss fight, and not one, but two antagonists that would flatten the entire party if engaged, and finally a dumb, slow slugfest against opponents that the party is already intimately familiar with. The overarching idea is salvageable, but I can't imagine that anyone actually played all the way through this module, and sat down to play Super-Babes again.

scissorman
Feb 7, 2011

How absolutely ridiculous

Ramrod XTreme

Bieeardo posted:

One weird thing I noticed the last time I played with Triax gear, is the one Hunter in the comic has some odd, un-described sensor pod mounted on one shoulder where those weapons packs go... and two of those packs have a nearly identical dish mounted on top, too.

I suggested to the GM that the standalone sensor pod be statted out, since it was easy to dig the relevant stats out, but he shrugged and :effort:
Could you maybe tell me how RIFTS plays in practice?
From reading the write-up I've been mostly seeing it as mech porn combined with a 9 year old's sketchbook and not really as an actually playable game.
Not as bad as e.g. the down-right horrible Superbabes but still not something I'd actually want to run without significant hand-waving.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

The last thing Rifts needs is another hit location to note, really. :rolleyes:

Oh god. I hadn't even thought of that. I think it's because I used to copy out sheets for new robots and powered armour as books came out, and each of them had an appropriate number of fields next to each sort of hit location. Oh god, so much wasted time.

scissorman posted:

Could you maybe tell me how RIFTS plays in practice?
From reading the write-up I've been mostly seeing it as mech porn combined with a 9 year old's sketchbook and not really as an actually playable game.
Not as bad as e.g. the down-right horrible Superbabes but still not something I'd actually want to run without significant hand-waving.

The way we ran it, and this was with at least some house-ruling, it turned into dueling d20s. Between power armour training and a few levels under the belt (the GM house-ruled some more D&D-style XP determination systems than the very stingy Palladium one), fights were often won by forcing one target to waste all of his attacks dodging, over and over again. Stock, it's basically a very early D&D heartbreaker with some dubiously 'realistic' modern weapon rules bolted on.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


scissorman posted:

Could you maybe tell me how RIFTS plays in practice?
From reading the write-up I've been mostly seeing it as mech porn combined with a 9 year old's sketchbook and not really as an actually playable game.
Not as bad as e.g. the down-right horrible Superbabes but still not something I'd actually want to run without significant hand-waving.

This ended up being way more ranty than I intended, but here goes.

I think to answer that question we have to go back to the dawn of gaming. Like AD&D. AD&D is a collection of rules thrown together without any real attention paid to the whole, and nobody uses all the rules. It also has a lot of things left undesigned. It's not a modern game like Pathfinder, why breathlessly tries to define every possible adventuring situation you can have right down to the movement impediment offered by a fence on a piece of farmland, the hit points of the cows on that farmland, and the Diplomacy check of the farmer on that farmland. AD&D is a goosey patchwork of ideas that may or may not mesh, and no sane person uses the entire AD&D "ruleset".

Rifts is basically written in the style of those really old games. It's not a complete rules set. It is, like a lot of games a lot older than it, more like a collection of haphazard rulings than any sort of complete design. It makes no assumptions of being anyone's first game and if there's something it doesn't cover or make it, it assumes the GM is as experienced and can rattle off bullshit to fill all the gaps. It makes only a haphazard attempt to cover basic adventuring situations like falling or lifting heavy objects and then shoves baby GMs out of the nest, presuming they can fly.

There have been attempts over time to try and codify Palladium's game system (which still has no formal name that I'm aware of, thoug it's called "the Palladium system" or "the Megaversal system") and make it more comprehensive, particularly in newer games like Rifts Ultimate Edition, but fundamentally the game is not designed with that mindset and so they just end up trying to patch holes so vast it's pretty laughable. (For example, there's still debate over how many attacks basic characters get, which is perhaps the most essential fact you need to know in a fight.) Rifts is mostly designed with that patchwork ruleset, and GMs are expected to fill the gaps with "reasonable rulings".

I almost feel bad about making fun of Rifts in that light, compared to modern games, because it's not at all trying to do what modern games do. If it had been released in 1990 and not seen many supplements, it might be a bit mean to pick apart its rules (even though they were outdated even back then). The difference between Rifts and something like AD&D is that AD&D moved the gently caress on. I see games as a technology, and even most OSR games are fairly advanced compared to Gary's magnum opus. The difference is that Palladium keeps insisting its ruleset is all anybody ever needs, and only updates it with the greatest reluctance. It's like a company had survived to the present day making Ford Model Ts. Model Ts will still get you to where you need to go, and can be fun to ride, but they're not practical and they break down a lot more often, and yet Palladium still thinks Model Ts are all they need to make.

They'll tell you Model Ts are coming back, man.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 01:01 on Oct 9, 2013

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Alien Rope Burn posted:

They'll tell you Model Ts are coming back, man.

The president of the company will (allegedly) tell you this from the driver's seat of his Honda Civic, too.

scissorman
Feb 7, 2011

How absolutely ridiculous

Ramrod XTreme


Thanks for your answers.
I guessed something like that but wasn't sure since RIFTS seems to still be going.
However, it seems to me that you'd need a good amount of experience to make games like these enjoyable, so how does RIFTS handle getting new players?
Are they just depending on their long-time fans to at least keep a positive balance, even if they don't grow much?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

The RIFTS games I've played in are... mechanically, very much like an old JRPG. Both sides line up, you go through initiative order, etc. There's little to no consideration for terrain or the like, and numbers are One Ring-level precious. Each character has a combat stats page that is basically an old-fashioned spreadsheet on paper, often with ten or more entries from various skills, bits of equipment (GM lets us build multi-optic eyes and amplified hearing into helmets, god help us all) and assorted bonuses. The last time I joined, they apparently discovered that one of the big RIFTS tomes (the index? Whichever has all of the skills, gear and stats as of a few years ago) stated our already attacks-per-melee high characters should have another two. I wasn't sure whether to be impressed or horrified.

Stylistically, we're very 'quick power armour and fast fighter craft go smash'. Heavily kitbashed power armour and fighter craft, that is. Stuff that deals a handful of dice damage or worse is routinely pulled and replaced with an early favourite, the Wilk's 457 pulse rifle, permanently patched into the vehicle's power supply. We've got... I don't want to think about how many variations and fan-builds we have on the old Invid Invasion/Mospeada Cyclone riding armour. I'm the weird one out, because I kind of like some of the odd Megadamage(tm) creatures sometimes.

Edit: I don't play much outside a rather small group, so I can't really comment on population. I do know that Palladium is one of the few RPG publishers that my preferred local store sells, which probably says something. I've met a few new players, but they were also largely new-to-RPGs players, so they didn't really know what they were getting into, or have much to contrast against aside from some experience with 3.5 D&D.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 01:05 on Oct 9, 2013

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book Five: Triax and the NGR Part 6: "The skin covering is a tough, mega-damage resin the captures the look and feel of a real gargoyle."

DV-Series Robot Drones

Including the DV-12 Dyna-Bot, Triax likes robots as they help reduce human casualties. They're looking in to improve their AI, and even finding ways to transfer human minds into them. Best ideas ever, no doubt.

Triax DV-15 Sentry-Bot


Looks like a leftover A.R.C.H.I.E. / design to me.

This looks like it has a tremendous brain-skull, but it's actually a huge sensor array to watch for trouble. They're often used as guards or wardens, since they never tire... never rest... never sleep! (Was that dramatic enough?)

It's lightly armored, about twice as tough as an armored human, and carries an ion pulse rifle that does average damage, and two laser fingers that do piddly M.D. It has a concealed particle beam rod in its leg (you see this weapon over and over, as it's taken from the old cyborg / robot rules in earlier games), a chemical mouth spray. It has a huge array of sensors, programming, and optional weapons. There's an heavy amount of detail on its programming - it can pilot a boat! - as well.

Triax DV-40 Hunter/Killer Drone


The Cylons have really been working out lately!

Siembieda loves to use the term "hunter/killer" without seemingly understanding it. Basically, it's a military term where one discrete unit seeks out enemy positions and another eliminates them. For example, a spotter might act as a "hunter", finding enemy troops while a sniper then acts as the "killer". Armored cavalry might be used to flush foes out so that they're easy prey for much deadlier tanks. And so on. But his term tends to apply to units that hunt and kill, which makes the distinction meaningless.

Annnyway, this is a moderately tough robot, used for scorched-earth sorts of missions where it is aimed to destroy entire gargoyle bases. At 13' tall, it's bigger than other robots, and carries a heavy laser rifle, has a grenade launcher, has... a stupid particle beam rod "concealed" in its leg, laser fingers, a "concealed" vibro-sword, a chainsaw, ab-mounted flamethrowers, and can mount some of the Jager's optional weapon packages.

Once again, we see needless "concealed" weapons tacked on tiresomely, but overall this is mostly just a generic killbot.

Triax Enemy Infiltration Robots

These are "EIRs" or "ears", apparently - basically robots designed to look like gargoyles, terminators for humanity. Basically, since there's no way humans could disguise themselves as gargoyles, they came up with robot infiltrators. They served pretty well, but the big trouble was when the first EIR was discovered; the gargoyles were so shocked they realized they needed to start respecting and recognizing technology. These days they've started to use radio devices to jam infiltrator signals and track them down. In fact, the infiltrator bots are credited for really opening gargoyle eyes to the potential of technology.

We're told there's a "01-40% chance" of an EIR being detected... per day? Per week? Per month? Ever? It's not clear. We're given a bunch of percentages, but no context in which they're rolled.

Triax EIR-10 Gargoyle Drone


The plan required something that felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Something unstoppable.

Unlike the Terminator, though, this is a lot more stoppable. It's a decent fake, which uses fake blood to simulate injuries and nanotech to "heal" wounds. The big issue is that is wings can't fly properly, it can only glide or boost leaps without using concealed thrusters in the feet, which are a bit of a giveaway. Sometimes they damage the wings to give the bot an excuse as to why it can't fly well. Though not commonly used to do so, the gargoyle hierarchy means it can try and give commands to gurgoyles and their ilk.

It has medium-to-light M.D.C. for a robot, laser eyes, laser fingers, vibro-blades, and a chemical spray, and a ton of melee attacks. Naturally, it's only supposed to use its weapons when discovered, but all of them are equal to or inferior to its normal punches, so why loving bother? It's programmed to act like a gargoyle and has the usual fancy sensory array, and a self-destruct mechanism that goes off when it's incapacitated.

Its big drawback is that psychic probes and similar powers detect nothing, so any goddamn gargoyle can pick them out with a minimal expeniture of Inner Strength Points, since they all have telepathy.

Triax EIR-15 Manned Gargoyle Bot

This is like the EIR-10, only manned. This means they show up on aura detected and the like, and have special "psionic, electro-magnetic dampeners" :rolleyes: that give a tiny bonus against psionic attacks. Still, they're vulnerable to actual telepathic probes that will show their human brains. Like the other version, it has a self-destruction, but activated or set to a timer by the pilot.

Triax EIR-20 Gurgoyle


Gargoyles hate pants, but love earrings? Hmmm.

Like the EIR-10, but to copy a gurgoyle instead. Has slightly less M.D.C., not much else to say except, oh, hey, it has that concealed particle beam rod in its leg. Who shoots a weapon from the leg, anyway, aside from an artificial leg action movie gimmick...?

EIR-30 Gargoylite

This is like an EIR-10, but a tiny gargoylite. It has thrusters that make it pretty obvious when revealed, and are mainly just used for escape. It's often used to steal items or free prisoners. It only has the laser fingers and chemical spray.

EIR-50 Gurgoyle Android

This is a little different; it's a gurgoyle that has had is real brain replaced with a robot brain, and then goes to franken-spy. It's super-secret because it would offend many of the NGR's civilian leaders, apparently. Really? I've haven't seen any sign anybody in the NGR would have any sympathy for gargoyles, but apparently making a gargoyle cyber-zombie is super-offensive for all right-thinking folks. Still, it's supposed to replace the EIR-100 which follows. It says there's no way for the gargoyles to know what it is short of an autopsy, but isn't it vulnerable to the same sorts of psionic detection...?

Anyway, it gets hit locations for some reason, despite being a gurgoyle for all effects and purposes, with randomized damage values for 7 hit locations (is each limb rolled separately?). It also gets implanted laser fingers, a built-in garrote (for the curious, it takes about 30 seconds to choke a gargoyle out this way). It has the usual sensors and programs.

Triax EIR-100 Cyborg

This is a human cyborg designed to look like a gurgoyle, and apparently makes the best infiltrator out of all of them, giving spontaneity and free will as well as a psionic-sensitive brain, but it's just as vulnerable as the robot vehicle gargoyle in that regard. It comes with a ton of extra features (like the ubiquitous clock calendar), laser or particle beam eyes, lasssserrrr fiiiinggerrrrs, that particle beam rod in the leg again, a chemical spray, vibro blade, and the usual punching and kicking options.

But enough of this cross-species cosplay! How are Sir and Kid doing?



Sir, you are a terrible officer, are you loving drunk or something? :argh:

Next: Cyborgs: how to wear a prosthetic skull on your real skull.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:


Looks like a leftover A.R.C.H.I.E. / design to me.

That one always looked like it was wearing a shower cap to me.

Regarding rods and whatnots in the leg, I always thought they were genericized weapons stuffed into something like Robocop's built-in holster. RIFTS wasn't really clear on that point, and I only glanced briefly at Ninjas and Superspies.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

It's Not a Double Post! It's a Short Commercial Break For...



FourmyleCircus covered Casey at the Bat, and aside from Magical Addiction and Doomsday-Y, the only other Super-Babes material I have is a booklet of character sheets and a few volumes of licensed character stats.

So, eh. I'll just touch on 'em briefly.

When Super-Babes came out, booklets of character sheets were still a popular thing. I've got a few that date back to at least 1984, and in an era where photocopiers were still fairly thin on the ground and you were looking at probably a quarter a page, seven bucks for a stack of pre-formatted sheets wasn't a bad deal if you didn't want to roll your own longhand. Thinking back, I'm surprised that I never saw RIFTS sheets packaged that way. Thinking back further, I remember the one sheet they had in the back of Sourcebook One, and I'm glad we rolled our own.

In this case, it literally is a stack of sheets: loose paper, never been stapled, sandwiched between a full-colour cover and the usual marketing jazz on the back cover. For whatever reason, there are separate sheets for each Origin; aside from very minor changes (the Agent has a field for 'staff photo' instead of 'character drawing') and names at the top, they're virtually identical.

The back cover claims that there are over a dozen character poses to draw your heroines around but, no surprise, they half-assed things. Same/earlier era GURPS had a similar gimmick with their sheet folios, hairless outlines of men and women in an assortment of poses, rendered in a light grey that was easy to colour over or darken as needed. The Super-Babes ones come equipped with full heads of hair (tough luck if you wanted a helmet, flat-top or a different, long style) and thick, black lines that defy you to dress them in anything but skintight spandex.

Where another publisher would have differentiated the sheets by printing a different pose on each one (and left one or two blank, because), these guys... printed the paperdolls separately: three pages worth, and some of them actually men. So you're still either looking at using a photocopier if more than one person wanted the same pose, and in addition, glue or tape to attach the resulting masterpiece to your character sheet.

The back matter also makes some... dubious claims:


Of course, this being a Super-Babes joint, there's a page with the authors being all creepy-condescendingly chummy thrown into the front. They're dropping references to Image and giving... instructions... for how to use the character sheets.

In short: they tell you to photocopy everything.

You know. Like you might have with the sheets from the core book. The sort of thing you'd buy a booklet of sheets in order to avoid.

...I am so glad that I didn't just gloss this one as 'branded character sheets'.

The last bits I've got are three sourcebooks, 'AC Unbound', Masked Men and Mystery Women', and 'Knockouts & Powerhouses'. Basically, they're rogue's galleries of statted characters from the game's parent universe. Nothing surprising there: D&D has a long list of that sort of thing, and closer to context, the old FASERIP Marvel Superheroes game had several volumes of its own. Assuming you admitted to touching the original comics with a ten foot pole, there's a good chance you'd want to do horrible things to your favourite characters.

Knockouts & Powerhouses is the oldest, copyrighted in '94; this printing is dated '95. It's arranged into supergroups that would only mean anything to someone familiar with the setting, so it's glossing time. Each has blurbs on the group's history, tactics, bases of operation and so forth, and in the case of characters printed in the core book, updated stats and personalities, because superheroes go through the most ridiculous changes. It's all written with the same condescending, snorting Comic Book Guy tone we've all come to love. Each character takes up one to two pages, miniaturized sheet included, depending on how powerful or noteworthy they might be.

The last few pages are new powers. Oh god, they just keep dragging me back in. I don't want to do this, but I will.

Destruction costs 300 CP, has a 5" range, and deals 1 damage for every PP you dump into it. No jiggering, no pokering, just raw disintegrating damage that bypasses Force Fields. Not as efficient as a Blast, but sometimes you don't want to gently caress around with two fistfuls of dice.

Do It Real Fast gives you an extra action. This can be taken multiple times. So yes, if you Do it Twice and have a level of this, you're getting four actions. No word on how it stacks with Extra Limbs or five levels of Martial Arts, but eh. 200 CP, and a warning about PP costs adding up... but come on.

Oprasize is switchable Density. It costs 40 CP a level, and I'm not sure whether it's a slur against stereotypical opera singers, or a specific, rather influential black woman.

Make it Dark produces a 3" radius of darkness within 9" of the caster, at a cost of 40 CP and 10 PP per round. It comes complete with patented Weasel Alert about people who thought ahead and bought See In the Dark for 5 CP, references a 30 CP power cost (ah, editing...) and suggests that the cheap way out work if the effect produces nighttime darkness, and not roiling smoke or the darkness between the writer's ears.

Make Monsters is half a page of idiotic infomercial babble that lets you rob yourself of CP to boost someone else. Not PP, actual character-building points. As written, it's a pretty villainous power: unlike Create Life, it requires an already living subject (who later assumes the Artificial Being template) and the stock option is to place the character entirely under your thrall. On top of however many CP you infest in the subject, it costs 100 CP to buy (and 50 PP to use). A second level costs another 50 CP, but gives you the option of re-creating your creature (with the same PP total) over the course of ten rounds.

See in Bright Lights is 30 CP for defense against light based Blind attacks. A bargain at half the price.

Sense Emotions is "a handy power for players who want to really round out their characters." This from people who tell the GM to watch their players like a hawk during chargen and when leveling, so that they don't go outside their concepts. "Cheap, too." There's that. 10 CP, 2" radius, 1 PP per round.

Stick to Stuff lets you... stick to stuff, and doubles your MUSCLES score when someone tries to pry you loose, which make you an absolute bastard in a grappling match. 30 CP.

Wrap it Up lets you entangle people at range; 8" plus an extra for every 2 CP. It costs 30 CP for every entangle effect you can have out simultaneously, and 5 PP too. The effect only has 15 HTK, so unless you make a gimmick out of it, you're only going to annoy people.

Blind is revised! It is no longer explictly a flash of light.

Characters may now buy another five levels of Martial Arts. Not coincidentally, there's a suite of ten offensive abilities and five defensive ones. No word on extra, extra attacks from these higher levels.

Better Aim gives +1 to offensive martial arts maneuvers, and can be taken multiple times. Better damage works similarly, but adds an extra d6 damage.

A Dropkick knocks you back twenty feet by its lonesome.

Haymaker adds a +1 to hit with the attack of the same name.

Feint lets you waste an attack faking it, in return for receiving a +3 to hit with the next one.

Gouge hits at -2 for 1d6 damage straight to HTK. It also blinds the target in one eye for an hour (-2 to hit) if you roll under your Martial Arts level on d20.

Kneecapping does a couple dice of damage and knocks an inch off the victim's movement for a few rounds. This is cumulative, so keep hammering that patella!

A Sucker Punch deals a few dice of damage, and can only be performed when the victim isn't suspecting it.

A Tackle is +2 to hit, -3 initiative, 2 actions, and grapples the target if it ihits.

Uppercut deals a couple dice damage. It also adds a stacking -2 to the target's hittability, whether it hits or not. Which... what? Against that character? Against everyone? Until they disengage? Jesus.

Defensively, Cower is a full-round move that knocks 3/4 off incoming damage. Not very heroic, but someone diving this deep into Martial Arts probably needs all the help they can get.

Do it Better is like Better Aim, just for defensive maneuvers. It also looks like it doesn't stack.

Get Outta the Way only works if you have initiative and roll under MOVES. Then you get +5 hittability against one attack at the cost of a half move.

Roll With It works against incoming physical attacks (and sometimes Big Blasts); roll under Level and Martial Arts level, success means you take 1/4 damage... but the whole thing is calculated for knockback. Hope you're not standing close to anything solid.

Shield lets you grab something and use it to... yeah. Level + MA Level vs d20, and success means the object soaks up its HTK worth of incoming damage before the rest spills over to you. Blocking with a Gizmo goes through its PP first.

Some of these maneuvers look like the sort of things characters should be able to do, period. But no. Because Super-Babes.

Finally, there's a new skill. More a modification, but eh. The Penniless Inventor stacks with the Inventor skill, and eliminates the costs involved with building Gizmos. Time remains the same. It costs 50 CP normally, or 25 CP if your character has the Inventor Origin. "Are we swell guys or what?" Indeed. I'm pretty sure that swelling is gas gangrene.

Personalized Gizmo costs 30 CP and prevents a gizmo from being used by anyone else, friend or foe. Useful for villains, not so useful for the "battered players who have had their Gizmos stolen once too often" because it does nothing to prevent those gizmos from being stolen. Just used.

Masked Men and Mystery Women is all about the golden age. Bookended by crap, it's got stats for typical mooks of the age and a middling assortment of heroes and villains AC presumably had access to at that point.

And by crap, I mean crap. The front matter starts with a self-indulgent wankfest where the author waxes rhapsodic about the good old days, then dumps the reader into period-appropriate rules modifications. The first is to halve starting CP values. There are brief suggestions for running sidekicks (who also start with 300 CP, funnily enough) and several pages worth of genre tropes disguised as character quirks... which of course, they're charging 25 CP for.

The back matter is... more self-indulgent wanking! This time it's the author complaining about how modern comic books suck, and they're badly written, and horribly drawn and... it's all really disgustingly ironic, given what this asshat is writing about and for. Not that comics in the Golden Age were really a whole lot better, either.

AC Unbound bills itself as a must-have for AC Comics fans as well as Super-Babes players, which smells just the tiniest bit desperate. This time it's nothing but stats and bases. Minor NPCs, bits of history, a guy who says his wife's muteness makes her the perfect woman, cutaway maps, top-down maps, half-assedly marker-sketched maps, a few gizmos, and occasionally a full-blown character sheet. Full-page sheets too, which suggests that someone was lazy, or someone was looking for padding. Was this the end for Super-Babes? gently caress if I know, but it's the end for me!

If anyone has stuff from this line that hasn't been touched (gingerly) by Fourmyle or myself, please feel free. We can begin the healing together.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


More :psyduck: than the Nasuverse RPG it's

John Wick's Eldritch High

PART 3: RISKS

I'm writing this on my day off because I clearly hate myself.

Right, so after getting through a third of the book we FINALLY learn the core mechanic. It's basically the Wick Narrative Control mechanic with cards and a few small tweaks. So worth the wait, huh?

I'll go through it to show off how this flavor of storygame mechanic works. Whenever you do something important or has a chance of failure, you make a Risk. In a Risk, you draw a number of cards based on things like Grade and Courses. That number is your Pull. Add up all of the cards in your Pull (aces are 1, face cards are 10) and see if you get 10 or more. If so, you say what happens. If not, the GM (called the Headmaster which is finally spelled right for once!) says what happens. Like with many Wick games, success or failure is completely unrelated to how well you rolled. If you hit 10 and still have left over cards are cashed in for Bangs. Every Bang gives you the right to say 1 extra detail when you narrate.

For example if Castella is trying to convince his teacher that he needs a library pass in to the Forbidden Section for legit reasons. He has a Pull of 5 and he draws a hand of 8, 5, 2, 6, and 4. He adds the 8 and 2 to gain narrative control and deem that the teacher believes him. The remaining 3 cards give him 3 Bangs that he uses to narrate that the teacher fell for it because he's easily flattered, that the teacher signs off on the pass without even looking at it, and that the teacher will forget about the whole thing in a matter of minutes.

As far as storygame mechanics go, it's actually not that bad so long as there aren't any jerks in the group but unfortunately it's dragged down by the dumb as hell moving parts of it.

The way of determining your Pull is by adding up your Grade Cards, your ranks in relevant Courses, and any other relevant modifiers like +1 for having the appropriate Stereotype or +2 from your dorm. Your Grade Card starts at 1 and goes up by 1 every time you finish a Grade. This makes Grade pretty much THE source of power since it determines virtually EVERYTHING in one way or another. This would be a good thing because it would let the GM measure power easily, except this is a storygame about Narrative Control and customization is a joke so all it really does is make you realize that you wasted your loving time making a character! John, why the gently caress would you switch to what amounts to a level based system after Blood & Honor's excellent Aspects?!? :psyduck:

Ugh, anyway there are extra wrinkles to this system. Aces counting as 2 Bangs, and Jokers can be used as anything but cause you to gain Shadow Points (which cause a Bang tax on social Risks with muggles), and you can Cheat. Cheating is needs to be described in detail because it is an amazing example of an interesting idea gone very, very wrong. Every time you make a Risk you can Cheat. When you Cheat you add up to 3 ten-sided dice to your total. Perfectly good deck of cards already out and Wick decides to switch to dice because. 10's explode, but 1's gently caress you over by stripping you of Narrative Control and giving you a Demerit. What's a Demerit? It's basically a black mark on your record and if you ever accumulate 3 Demerits your character is expelled and becomes an NPC. The problem is that Cheating is a purely meta ability so this means that the teachers ARE PUNISHING YOUR CHARACTER FOR YOUR ACTIONS AS A PLAYER! :psyduck: What's worse, if you're trying to turn a loss in to a win you'll pretty much never need more than a single die to improve your chances so using 3 is just asking to get a Demerit and if you've already succeeded all that cheating ever does give you a chance at an extra Bang at the risk of RUINING YOUR VICTORY AND KILLING YOUR CHARACTER! CHEATING IS SO loving USELESS! WHY DOES IT EXIST?!? :psyduck: The biggest insult is that Willpower points can be spent to increase your pull by 3 so Johnny-boy already had a "save your rear end" mechanic that didn't gently caress you over to the point of uselessness and didn't mix resolution tools making cheating DOUBLY pointless! That's another :psyduck: for the counter! Willpower comes at the price of causing you to autofail everything if you run out but it refreshes fully between sessions so if you're smart that won't come up.

Anyway, opposed risks are pretty simple. Everyone draws and announces totals. Highest total goes first, second highest goes next, etc. You get to state one detail before moving on to the next person down the line. Keep going around until nobody has any Bangs to spend. This is actually a nice way of handling things and creates a nice bit of back-and-forth that gives everyone a chance to participate. I actually have nothing to bitch about for once!

Injury is pretty similarly non-bitchworthy. Whenever you make a Risk to hurt someone you deal 1 point of Injury with a successful attack and 1 extra point per Bang spent. If anyone ever has 5 points of Injury they're Helpless and can be killed by anyone who decides to spend a point of Willpower. Injury can be wiped away with healing Risks at a similar rate, by letting 1 session pass for 1 point of healing, or just spending the night in the infirmary for a full heal. Simple and discourages bloodbaths. Nice!

Now, I skipped Magic for organization purposes but it's not very complicated. It works identically to mundane Risks except Wick a decides to reiterate everything that's covered in on literally the next page because apparently we're stupid. The only new rules are that Spells last a number of days equal to the number of Bangs spent, spending 3 or more Bangs on a spell adds a Shadow Point to your character, and Prodigy not only gives you automatic Narrative Control but 2 extra cards as well! Except Character Creation quite clearly states that all it does is give 1 extra card. How do you forget what you said just 5 pages ago and still call yourself a professional?!? :psyduck:

There's also the matter of magical items. You can use Crafts to make them and give them a number of uses (called Charges) equal to, erm

quote:

When you make a magic item, the face value of the cards you use to beat the TN equals the itemís charges. Bangs equal additional effects specific to each item type, listed below.

TN IS NOT A THING IN THIS SYSTEM!!! :psyduck: Skipping ahead reveals that the part about Bangs is a drat lie as well so I'll add another :psyduck: and move on to items themselves.

Potions which let you pre-cast spells and use the results later with an extra card added to the result per year of fermentation. They can't have more than 3 charges, but they can still be used to make badass panic buttons if you're smart.

Wands give you a bonus when using the type of magic that it's tied to. When you craft a wand you divide up a number of cards equal to your Grade Cards between the different types of magic so if Marty ever made it to Sophmore year he could either make a wand that gave a 1 card bonus to Alchemy and Wards, or a 2 card bonus to just Alchemy. Wands can also make Wand Blasts that are attacks at your Grade Card level and cost a Willpower. Keep in mind that regular spells can attack, use more cards, and cost nothing! :psyduck: There's also a sidebar for miscast wands (wands you fail at making) that states that while Circe's insists that they be destroyed, they can still be used and add d10 cards to rolls at the cost of handing over Narrative Control to the GM.

Brooms and Carpets can fly. Brooms are for girls and carpets are for boys but solely out of tradition so you can ride whatever you want. The description also states

quote:

As usual, the item will only work for the witch or wizard who created it.

THIS IS THE ONLY TIME THIS IS BROUGHT UP! :psyduck:

Lasty, we have Talismans which are pretty much Potions but can be rings or bracelets and the like. Since they can be worn and have no upper limit on charges, they're pretty much better than Potions in every way. Oh, and there's this

quote:

When making a Talisman, you empower it with a single charge. Each bang you get gives it an additional charge.

So that's where the actual rules for charges went. Let's just add one last :psyduck: to the counter and move on.

This chapter turned out even more stupid than I thought it would. The next chapter is only 2 pages long but it'll take a while because I dread it like no other chapter.

:smug: total: 4 (0 this chapter, it's loving miracle!)
:psyduck: total: 22 (10!!! this chapter)
Pages read: 18/34

We're halfway there folks!

Next time, HOMEWORK or The Unlimited Psyduck Works returns!

More audience participation time! Guess what the Homework chapter is about and/or why I dread it! Points will be awarded by QI rules where it doesn't matter if you're right, only that you're interesting. The winner will receive a mention at the beginning of my Homework portion of the review. Sorry guys, but I'm lazy and broke.

AccidentalHipster fucked around with this message at 16:13 on Oct 17, 2013

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Wait, per year brewing the thing for potions? How fast is this game supposed to move?

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Failing homework checks gives you black marks, just like cheating.

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