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Tulul
Oct 23, 2013




Chapter 1: Welcome to the Ninth World

The Ninth World exists on the backs of eight others, eras that stretched for countless millenia and produced infinite wonders. These remnants are both all-pervasive and poorly understood. The mountain you stand on was once a monument to a long-forgotten king, the very soil of the Earth has bee reworked thousands of times, and energy and data flow through the air around you on invisible waves. Very little of this is known, however, to the people of the Ninth World. They learn enough to survive in the present, but little more.

The area Numenera focuses on is called the Steadfast, a collection of settled lands on the southern part of the sole supercontinent. While there are many kings, the most powerful force is the Aeon Priests of the Order of Truth, ruled by the Amber Pope. A religion devoted to science, they study the people and technology of the past. Out past the Steadfast lies the Beyond, where communities are isolated and rare. The Aeon Priests here are not part of the Order of Truth, and usually organize into claves, laboratory-monasteries that are often the center of villages and provide protection and other resources for them.



The Numenera

Numenera are divided into artifacts, cyphers, and oddities.

Artifacts are larger devices that can be used multiple times to produce the same result. Your lightsabers, ray guns, and force fields usually go here.

Cyphers are one-shot devices that are usually pretty minor. Healing pills, grenades, and the like end up here. Don't stack up too many pills, though, or you'll get cancer or be swallowed by a black hole.

quote:

However, cyphers are dangerous when gathered together because they create radiation and harmonic frequencies that are inimical to human life.

This is the in-game justification for why you can't carry a million bits of junk around with you. To the games credit, there's a section later on where it discusses how to modify it, so I'm not going to rag on it.

Also worth mentioning here is that there are two kinds of cyphers, anoetic and occultic. Anoetics are simple to use, like a pill or a box with a single switch on it. Occultics are more complicated, but usually have better effects and they take up two of your cypher slots (you only start with two or three, for reference).

Oddities are pretty much the "other" category. They're weird things that don't have any mechanics attached and are mostly for flavor. A jar that fills itself with black paint every morning, a tiny bell that rings like a cathedral bell when touched, a small wand that keeps insects away inside of a small area, that sort of thing.

A 21st Century Perspective

In case it wasn't screamingly obvious, this section just explains that Numenera is basically a medieval world set a billion years in the future. This lets you throw a lot of anachronisms in there without it being out place; zippers, rain coats, and democracy all exist in the Ninth World and are all familiar to the PC. This is all entirely reasonable!

The next section, on the other hand, is pretty dumb:

quote:

On the other hand, characters in Numenera don’t refer to weapons as “guns” or vehicles as “cars.” The technology in the Ninth World is too advanced and too alien for such terminology to have endured. Using 21st-century terms for weapons and vehicles is as inappropriate as using medieval terms. The numenera is weird—much of it wasn’t created by humans or for humans. It isn’t designed or presented in any way that might be familiar to the players or the characters. Only through experimentation, player insight, and character skill can the PCs identify, and possibly use, what they find.

Now, this isn't automatically a bad thing; a good writer can use an odd vocabulary with skill to reinforce whatever mood they're shooting for.

Numenera, though, mostly just uses lots of Sci-Fi Words, slapping made-up terminology down and swapping synonyms in hope that you'll find it all terribly mysterious. "Slugspitter" instead of "gun", "drit" instead of "dust", "synth" instead of "plastic", "machine intelligence" instead of "artificial intelligence", and so on. Calling a grenade a "detonation" doesn't actually make it any more interesting or wondrous to your players.



Chapter 2: How to Play Numenera

This chapter is just a basic introduction to the rules, most of this will be covered in more depth later.

In Numenera, you resolve actions by rolling a d20 (usually unmodified) against a target number. Roll equal or higher, you pass. The target number is determined by the task difficulty, which is rated from 0 to 10. Multiply the task difficulty by three and you get the target number. There's also a handy chart, which informs me twice that I have 50/50 chance of rolling a 9 or better on a d20. Good to know!

You can modify the difficulty of roll in three ways: skills, assets, and Effort.

Skills are the same as in every other RPG. You can either be trained or specialized in a skill and you reduce the difficulty by one or two steps respectively. You can never reduce the difficulty of a roll by more than two steps with a skill.

Assets are pretty much anything else; a piece of equipment, a buddy helping you, or any other sort of favorable condition. Assets can also never reduce the difficulty by more than two steps.

Effort isn't explained here and we'll get to it shortly. It's... not very good.

If the difficulty of roll ends up at 0, you automatically pass. If it ends up at 7 or above, you're screwed.

Some rare abilities and items add a flat bonus to your d20 roll, but never more than +1 or +2. If you get a +3, it just decreases the difficulty by one step instead.

Combat

Combat works like any other roll. Every enemy has a level (1-10) that serves as the task difficulty for every roll in combat with them, both offensive and defensive. Players make all of the rolls, which is something I really like, so kudos for that.

If you hit, you deal a flat amount of damage based on your weapon. If you get hit, your Armor reduces the damage by a flat amount, all the way down to zero. Armor (capital A) is the characteristic and can include other things besides the physical armor (lowercase a) you're wearing. Armor (lowercase) is a little bit hosed and we'll get to that in a bit.

Weapons are divided into light, medium, and heavy categories. A light weapon inflicts 2 points of damage and is small (unarmed attacks are also Light). A medium weapon inflicts 4 points of damage and is something you can use in one hand, even if you usually don't (a spear or quarterstaff, for instance). A heavy weapon inflicts 6 points of damage and is something you have to use in two hands. The examples given for the categories are not super-consistent (a rapier is Light, for some reason?), but it's simple enough.

Special Rolls

If you roll a natural 19 or 20 (17-20 in combat), something good happens!

On a 19, you can add 3 points of damage to your attack, or you can add a minor effect to the roll, which lets you do something special like knocking an enemy back or distracting them. Out of combat, it just lets you succeed particularly well.

On a 20, you add 4 points of damage or a major effect, which lets you do things like knocking down your foe or taking an extra action. Out of combat, you succeed really, really well, with an additional beneficial effect occurring depending on what you're doing. You can trade a major effect for a minor, if you want.

In combat, rolling a 17 or 18 adds 1 or 2 points of damage respectively, and nothing else.

Rolling a 1 is bad and allows the GM to introduce an intrusion. These suck and you will hate Monte Cook if you use them as written. More on that in just a second.



Range and Speed

Range is sort-of simplified into either immediate, short, or long. Immediate is anything within 10 feet of you, short is anything farther than immediate and within 50 feet, and long is farther than short and anything within 100 feet. Past that, all distances are specified.

I... have no idea why he didn't just the whole hog and abstract every range, adding on an "extreme" or something to the end there. It produces a situation where you do have to track specific distances under certain circumstances, which removes the entire point of having abstract ranges!

Anyway, attacks are measured in these ranges. A melee attack is immediate, a thrown knife is short, and a crossbow is long, for example. You can move up to immediate range as part of another action, move up to short range as your whole action, and move up to long range as your whole action, but you have to roll to see if you faceplant in the dirt like an idiot.

Experience Points

God, XP. This games XP system is awful and I hate it.

quote:

Experience points (XP) are rewards given to players when the GM intrudes on the story (this is called GM intrusion) with
a new and unexpected challenge. For example, in the middle of combat, the GM might inform the player that he drops his weapon.

This pretty much sets the tone for GM intrusion, which amounts to "randomly gently caress over your players" in almost all of the examples. There are systems which do this well, but Numenera encourages you to drop your pants at the table and moon your players, which is a challenge only in the "rabid gophers in your pants" sense.

quote:

However, to intrude in this manner, the GM must award the player 2 XP. The rewarded player, in turn, must immediately give one of those XP to another player and justify the gift (perhaps the other player had a good idea, told a funny joke, performed an action that saved a life, and so on).

This... is not actually a bad idea! Good job, Numenera.

quote:

Alternatively, the player can refuse the GM intrusion. If he does so, he doesn’t get the 2 XP from the GM, and he must also spend 1 XP that he already has. If the player has no XP to spend, he can’t refuse the intrusion.

Yes, your XP pulls double duty as both your temporary advantage points and as your permanent advancement points.

quote:

Experience points are used primarily for character advancement (for details, see Chapter 3: Creating Your Character, page 20), but a player can also spend 1 XP to reroll any die roll and take the better of the two rolls.



You can also earn XP between sessions for finding interesting things and making discoveries. You don't get any XP for fighting monsters or overcoming other challenges. This is, for the most part, fine.

Anyway, that's the XP system! Or to be precise, about half of it. The rest is also pretty lovely, but it'll be a while before I get to that.



Chapter 3: Creating Your Character

Characters in Numenera have three stats: Might, Speed, and Intellect. Mostly obvious, but Might also includes toughness and Intellect includes charisma, willpower, and wit.

Pool, Edge, and Effort

Each of the stats has two components, a Pool and an Edge.

The Pool is composed of expendable points that you use to do things! You might have an ability that lets you spend a Speed point to reload your weapon quickly, for example. 9 to 12 is the average, but most PCs will probably have a stat above that. You recover points by resting (Numenera actually has resting mechanics that I like), through special abilities, or through certain types of numenera.

Your Edge simply reduces the cost of spending points from your Pool. You'll start with at least one Edge at 1. If it reduces the cost to 0, you can use the ability for free. You always subtract Edge from the total cost of a roll after adding everything in.

Effort! Effort lets you reduce the difficulty of an action by one step by spending 3 points from an appropriate Pool. You can apply multiple levels of Effort by spending more points, depending on your Effort stat, which starts at 1. Every subsequent level of Effort costs 2 points instead of 3. You subtract your Edge from the total cost, and if you you have an Edge of 3, you can apply a single level for free. You can also use Effort to add 3 points of damage to an attack, or 2 if it's an area attack. Area attacks also always deal a point of damage with Effort, even if you resist. If your Effort stat is 2 or more, you can apply multiple types of Effort to a single roll.

Wait, sorry, I missed a bit back in Pools.

quote:

When your character is injured, sickened, or attacked, you temporarily lose points from one of your stat Pools. The nature of the attack determines which Pool loses points.



So, yeah, your Pools are your HP. Hope you like choosing between being effective and not dying! Compounding the problem is that the types are not remotely balanced. There are nine things in the entire game that do Intellect damage and 3 of those are PC abilities. Ten things do Speed damage. Everything else? Might damage! gently caress you, jocks!

Character Tiers and Benefits

There are six of them! They are pretty much levels.

There are four benefits, each of which cost 4 XP, and you can only buy each one once per tier. After you buy all four, you advance to the next tier and start over again. They are: 4 points to spend on your Pools, +1 to one Edge stat, +1 Effort, and training in a skill (specialization if you're already trained).

Instead of buying a skill, you can also add 2 to your recovery rolls, buy a new ability from your class, or reduce the cost from wearing armor!

Wait, what?

quote:

This option lowers the Might cost by 1 and lowers the Speed reduction by 1.

So, yeah, you take an hourly Might hit for wearing armor, along with a permanent Speed reduction. gently caress you, jocks!

Skills

Skills are freeform in Numenera, but there's a suggested list (Astrology to Woodworking) to give you an idea of appropriate scope. Handy!

Then Cook manages the impressive feat of shooting himself in the foot in the very next sentence.

quote:

You could choose a skill that incorporates more than one of these areas (interacting might include deceiving, intimidating, and persuading) or is a more specific version of one (hiding might be sneaking when you’re not moving). You could also make up more general, professional skills, such as baker, sailor, or lumberjack.

What the hell? A freeform skill system needs to give the GM some sort of foundation so they can determine what's appropriate. You don't write "ignore all of this poo poo" in the margins!

Anyway, you also normally can't take a skill in fighting or defense tasks, without some sort of class ability. You can however, take a skill in a special ability, like mind knives or whatever.



Character Descriptor, Type, and Focus

Creating a character in Numenera is simple! You build a statement that goes "I am an adjective noun who verbs, filling in the italics. So "I am a Charming Jack who Fights with Panache". The adjective is called a descriptor, the noun is your character type (class), and the verb is your focus.

So this would be great if that first sentence wasn't a lie. You see, every one of these italicized words has mechanics attached to them. A lot of mechanics. So you actually build a character by picking from a list of what's already in the game, and you actually will probably build a character by figuring out which narrative descriptor carries the most benefit for your character.

Special Abilities

Your class gives you special abilities. Most of these cost points from a Pool of one type or the other, and if there's a + sign next to the cost, you can spend more points on the ability. If an ability requires an action to use (shooting fire out of your face or whatever), then it has "action" next to it. Some abilities are called enablers and function passively and constantly for no cost.

Next Time: Fighters, Wizards, Fighter-Wizards

Tulul fucked around with this message at 02:57 on Nov 11, 2013

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I have a soft spot for the Masterbook system; I owned a couple of the games. But the system is just so...complicated where it doesn't need to be, and the places where mechanical complexity could be useful, like starship combat, it's always, like, the wrong kind of complicated.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Almogavers

A table for you, a table for me


but still

A short update this time. Let's see how the game system works. It's based around an Universal Table in which you roll a d20, use the result to locate a row, then note the level of the relevant skill, knowledge or technique to find the final result. Rolls can be Disastrous (poo poo doesn't work and you gently caress up even further), Failures (poo poo doesn't work), Normal Success (poo poo works), Special Success (poo poo works pretty good) and Critical Success (pro poo poo working right here) As we can see, low rolls are better.


Table!

posted:

Paulos Posjoros, cleric, tries to convince his flock that hanging around with "harbor women" is a sin. He rolls his Eloquency skill that he has at Initiate level and rolls a 5. According to the table that is a special success. Paulos smiles seeing the faces of his audience and thinks that the prostitutes from the docks will finally lower their prices and he will be able to afford them.

The table also shows Margin of Success for rolls, that number in the cell you roll, which is mostly used to tell the difference in success (or failure, depending) for two performances of the same action. Some actions can have a difficulty modifier, which is a straight modifier to the d20 roll. Stats and attributes can also modify rolls, but the game advises not applying these modifiers unless the roll is particularly important. The GM can potentially demand a certain MoS if the situation calls for it, like if you're trying to sculpt a masterpiece a simple success isn't going to cut it, but it's better to calculate difficulties first thinking just of the normal success as the benchmark.


loving Catalan ninja!

This is the system used for unopposed rolls. For contested rolls, the superior success type (or MoS if they have the same type of success) wins. These rolls may be repeated several times depending on the nature of the contest, two guys armwrestling would be pushing each other's arms closer to the table or away from it with each roll for instance. If a stat roll is called because there's no applicable ability, in which case we have several options: roll under the stat with a d20, AD&D style; roll using the table (that's why that 1-18 row is for); or simply roll as if the character had a relevant skill at Apprentice level, further modified by the stat in question - this is used for stuff that isn't explicitly described in the game and doesn't come up often, like say fishing or underwater basket weaving. There's also a table for quick NPC skill level generation, which doesn't include Grand Master level because that requires special dedication or being thrown into ~*intense situations*~ once a week like PCs usually end up.


Left: a good target for your Throw Boot skill. Right: Walter White In The 14th Century.

Then it's on to skill descriptions! I'm not going to bore you with every single one of them, you'll have an idea of what's in here if you've ever played or read a low fantasy or historical game, but I'll just point out some of the more interesting details. The Craft skill at Apprentice level implies having a Master, and further levels mean the character is involved with the relevant guild's hierarchy. Seduction only works in members of the opposite sex and requires two successful rolls (first impression, then a roleplayed schtupping up, then another roll modified by the GM's opinion of the schtupping) before kissing and groping can take place Alchemy comprises both real world chemistry and fantastic alchemy with elements sourced from magical creatures and the like (magic?) and it requires Calculus because hey, you don't want to add any more cow dung than you have to. Also, the GM is encouraged to make poo poo explode in the PCs faces if the players get cocky and start cooking themselves batches of FOOF or whatever. Astrology also requires Calculus because those astral charts are some hard poo poo. Calculus itself needs Initiate or Master level to be useful to the previous two skills, but lesser levels are enough for traders and money people. Read/Write is a separate knowledge from speaking, but knowing how to read/write a language at least grants you Neophyte in speaking ability. Magic, like Craft, implies the presence of a master and joining a magical order (magic?)


Dude is entirely too happy over your twisted ankle.

Next: the Most Noble And Ancient Catalan Art Of Clobbering.

FourmyleCircus
Sep 15, 2013


Halloween Jack posted:

I have a soft spot for the Masterbook system; I owned a couple of the games. But the system is just so...complicated where it doesn't need to be, and the places where mechanical complexity could be useful, like starship combat, it's always, like, the wrong kind of complicated.

Of all things it was World Of Tank Girl that got me interested in Masterbook, though Bloodshadows is still my favorite Urban Fantasy setting. And hey, the current publisher of Masterbook has a somewhat open license so if you've got an old campaign world for it you wan tto put out there, they'll even put it up on their site.

But yeah. As you'll get to see in Background Generation(And when I do the Rule Book), Shatterzone is it's beefy older brother when it comes to needless complexity. I love the idea of the Universal Measurement Chart and the rest, but it just makes the whole book read like a mess of See Page XX. It was a problem in the DC game too, admittedly. Less so in Mutants and Masterminds.

The Space combat in Shatterzone was nice as far as that went. It was well weighted, neither too crunchy or too quick. Piloting skills matter, as do gunnery. That said, yeah, it being a roll off every attack can be a bit of a pain. Let's see... Roll Init, Roll Manuevering, Roll actions(From list of approved actions) and every crew member counts, Tally damage, Do missile stuff, new turn. It's not Star Thugs(Still my favorite space combat game) but it's certainly not the Vehicle Combat Rules from Shadowrun(It was... Second that had the "Everyone but the trolls die" vehicle combat rules, right?).

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Tulul posted:

In Numenera, you resolve actions by rolling a d20 (usually unmodified) against a target number. Roll equal or higher, you pass. The target number is determined by the task difficulty, which is rated from 0 to 10. Multiply the task difficulty by three and you get the target number. There's also a handy chart, which informs me twice that I have 50/50 chance of rolling a 9 or better on a d20. Good to know!

Why the hell is difficulty (the number) different from the target number? What does it do save to add a extra layer of math to each roll?

Also, though this doesn't really matter, it means there's no way to get a 50/50 roll without some technology wonking the odds around.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


FourmyleCircus posted:

Psionic Manipulation(T) Very important for the Psi Rat. Now, you have to have the Alien background advantage "Psionic Abilities" to even get it, but that's next chapter. You can only get it after character generation if the GM decides your character has the Psionic Potential. It's got it's own chapter later but what you need to now that it's(rather appropriately) a bit of a book keeping headache. Each power has it's own Base Difficulty Number. That's right, you have to roll to see if you can even summon up the willpower to use the power this round. But that's not all! Each power has it's own requirements of how high the Psionic manipulation skill has to be to even be able to use it. But at least to can specialize in particular powers.

To sum up, each psionic power has three hurdles. First, you have to have spent some of your background on being psionic. Secondly, you have to have spent enough of your skill points on Psionic Manipulation to be able to even know a particular power exists. Thirdly, you have to roll well enough/have a high enough skill and attribute combination to do it. Aren't you excited to have requested a Psionicist, Accidental Hipster? Because they're sure happy to have you./scarcasm

*snip*

Faith(U) has you spending skill points to believe in god. Any god. Or your own divinity. Or be a patriot. Or really like the XBoX360. Faith is sort of a combination of Willpower(we're getting there), and Scholar:Whatever you have Faith in. You're only supposed to take adds in it if you believe in something big, but... it can be anything bigger than yourself. Even your own ego. As willpower is used to resist interrogation, you can indeed use your Faith(Toyota) to resist torture. "The Toyota Tacoma wouldn't break down if you demolished a building under it! I'm not going to break from a couple battery cables!"

I'm very much looking forward to see how deep the psionics rabbit hole goes. I wonder if there's any reason to take Scholar or Willpower.

Concerning my write-ups, I still haven't decided on which system to do (I have two votes and both are for different things) although I'll most likely start posting something soon-ish. As a reminder for the people out there that care (all three of you), I'm considering Tenra Bansho Zero (cyberpunk/high fantasy feudal Japan), Dungeons: The Dragoning (40k+Exalted+D&D+WoD+Mass Effect=), or Strike Legion (super soldiers fighting Imperial hordes IN SPAAAAACE!)

AccidentalHipster fucked around with this message at 04:53 on Nov 11, 2013

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



I vote Strike Legion just to make your life harder

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Traveller posted:

I vote Strike Legion just to make your life harder

This is for voting for Bellfahle Magic Academy isn't it?

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



AccidentalHipster posted:

This is for voting for Bellfahle Magic Academy isn't it?

What, no. I'm totally doing that after Almogavers anyway.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Why the hell is difficulty (the number) different from the target number? What does it do save to add a extra layer of math to each roll?

Also, though this doesn't really matter, it means there's no way to get a 50/50 roll without some technology wonking the odds around.

The only good explanation I've ever seen is that it's easier to manage 1-10 difficulty descriptors each with a single number to them, and then the multiplication makes it usable with a d20. Of course, take a step back and the next questions are "Why, then, did it have to be a d20?" and "Don't the post-multiplication modifiers undermine that anyway?"

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


I vote Dungeons: the Dragoning 40K 7th Edition. I believe there was one that was started but never finished. Also the steam for the game ran out after a while and the books were never fully errata'd when they were updated. A second book did come out at least with Spaceship rules, specific classes related to that(there's a truckload of classes in this game and it bothers me a little), extra races (including one that, I believe, fully allows you to get every race in Mass Effect except different) and extra Exaltations.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Xelkelvos posted:

I vote Dungeons: the Dragoning 40K 7th Edition. I believe there was one that was started but never finished. Also the steam for the game ran out after a while and the books were never fully errata'd when they were updated. A second book did come out at least with Spaceship rules, specific classes related to that(there's a truckload of classes in this game and it bothers me a little), extra races (including one that, I believe, fully allows you to get every race in Mass Effect except different) and extra Exaltations.

Yeah, I'll probably cover Book 2: For a Few Subtitles More right after the main one if I do the D:tD review. I plan on doing a write-up for both it and TBZ eventually as well as finishing my Naruto one if nobody else picks up the torch on any of those games. And yes, the Dyrads in Book 2 were basically the Asari. If I remember correctly, Eldarin were Quarin and Orks were Krogan but I can't quite remember the others. I think that the Gnomes were Salarians and the Eldarin pulled double duty as Turians, but I'm not sure.

Traveller posted:

What, no. I'm totally doing that after Almogavers anyway.

Good to know. That one sounded pretty cool.

FourmyleCircus
Sep 15, 2013


AccidentalHipster posted:

I'm very much looking forward to see how deep the psionics rabbit hole goes. I wonder if there's any reason to take Scholar or Willpower.

Concerning my write-ups, I still haven't decided on which system to do (I have two votes and both are for different things) although I'll most likely start posting something soon-ish. As a reminder for the people out there that care (all three of you), I'm considering Tenra Bansho Zero (cyberpunk/high fantasy feudal Japan), Dungeons: The Dragoning (40k+Exalted+D&D+WoD+Mass Effect=), or Strike Legion (super soldiers fighting Imperial hordes IN SPAAAAACE!)

Well, the official rational is that Faith is a fluff skill and also a lot more narrow compared to Scholar:Whatever. Scholar Chemistry gives you all sorts of theoretical knowledge on chemistry, such as how to speed up or slow down a reaction, but it doesn't actually cover more practical things because it was 93. They figured that you wouldn't need it for anything but handwavium, and you can just buy explosives anyway. For instance, Faith America would only get you the history of America and whatever other patriotic things; while Scholar: Earth History would cover a lot more. Likewise, Faith is only supposed to help when resisting the enemies of your faith(or anything you can rationalize away as such), whereas Willpower would be for any situation where you're being smacked upside the head. Though, admittedly, Faith might, depending on your creed, defend against seduction as well.

The real question is what good is Resist Pain compared to Willpower? Resist Pain is pretty much Willpower: Resist Interrogation at a much higher cost as it's a Trained skill and Willpower is Untrained, and the specialization is cheaper still. Not to mention that the Willpower specialization will defend against The Nanny's hypnotism while Faith probably won't. I didn't make any of these characters truly optimized because, frankly, it's not worth it. It's better to have interesting characters. Especially as the math will get really confusing if you have a poo poo load of specializations. Not like Mutants And Masterminds "How exactly did you manage to summon Counter Earth as a free action?" or "How did you manage to hypnotize the UN in a single round?" confusing, but bad enough.

Anyway, not to make it hard on you, but I want to hear Tenra Bansho Zero for purely selfish reasons. Mainly, peple keep asking me to run a Henshin Heroes game in it.I ultimately went for The Last Stand, but I haven't gotten around to running for personal reasons.

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008


I vote for Dungeons: the Dragoning: 7th Edition (the name needs to be typed in full ) because it is amazing.

Also because I want to do Strike Legion.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Plague of Hats posted:

The only good explanation I've ever seen is that it's easier to manage 1-10 difficulty descriptors each with a single number to them, and then the multiplication makes it usable with a d20. Of course, take a step back and the next questions are "Why, then, did it have to be a d20?" and "Don't the post-multiplication modifiers undermine that anyway?"

Yeah, the post-multiplication numbers do a hell of a lot to make you go "wait, why?". It strikes me that you could have a d6 instead of a d20, have the difficulty match the target number, and the math would nearly the same. Maybe improve skill performance by a rank to even things out.

It's like they just threw on two or three layers of obfuscation to try and disguise the fact it's still essentially d20 + number vs. target number.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

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

I am suddenly a lot less optimistic about that new Torment game.

goatface
Dec 5, 2007

I had a video of that when I was about 6.

I remember it being shit.




Grimey Drawer

Tulul posted:

There's also a handy chart, which informs me twice that I have 50/50 chance of rolling a 9 or better on a d20. Good to know!

What? Even if it was a 0-19 die that still wouldn't work.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Cardiovorax posted:

I am suddenly a lot less optimistic about that new Torment game.
Pretty sure it's not using that system. Like, at all.

CottonWolf
Jul 20, 2012

Good ideas generator



Zereth posted:

Pretty sure it's not using that system. Like, at all.

They're 'adapting' it, whatever that means. Monte is helping with that aspect of the design, so it'll probably be relatively close to what was in the corebook. I actually like the Numenera rules, so that's fine with me, but if you don't, they're intending to keep at least the flavour.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




... poo poo. The "all powers are fueled by HP" thing just seems like a terrible idea, honestly.

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



Zereth posted:

... poo poo. The "all powers are fueled by HP" thing just seems like a terrible idea, honestly.

It works in certain kinds of games, but not others. It seems like something that'd work really well for a horror game, or, say, a gritty wargame where death is expected but you might be able to shine as a hero by blowing all your Cool Points in being awesome, then getting ganked by some kind of random mook.

I wouldn't mind it for say, an X-Com RPG.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


CommissarMega posted:

I vote for Dungeons: the Dragoning: 7th Edition (the name needs to be typed in full ) because it is amazing.

Also because I want to do Strike Legion.

Gonzo space fantasy it is! I look forward to your Strike Legion review.

Around the start of the year, Loki_XLII started, but sadly never finished, a write-up of a truly awesome game. A game that dared to be epic. A game that dared to be exciting. A game that dared to be stupid. That game is:



PART 1: INTRODUCTION

Strap in, kids. It's going to get loving weird...

What is Dungeons: the Dragoning: 40,000: 7th Edition?

Dungeons: the Dragoning: 40,000: 7th Edition (which shall hereafter be called Dungeons: the Dragoning because goddamn is that a lot of wordcount) is one of those April Fools jokes that was made a reality. LawfulNice first announced it on /tg/, stating that it would be a fusion of several RPGs, including Dungeons & Dragons, World of Darkness (both old and new), Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40k, and Exalted. The end result has not only that, but 7th Sea, Deadlands, and a few other systems as well. Unlike a lot of other heartbreakers out there that slap the writer's favorite systems together and leave the players to deal with the mess (*coughSecretFirecough*), LawfulNice actually bothered to playtest his cracked out system/setting. The result is really badass and fun as hell if a bit confusing at times.

As for the style and setting of the game, I'll let the game introduce itself.

Dungeons: the Dragoning posted:

Welcome friends. You hold in your hands a roleplaying game, one that asks you a very important question.Is a man not entitled to the grandest of adventure? 'No!' says the man with the neckbeard, 'it would be unbalanced.' 'No!' says the man in the high heels, 'it wouldn't be deep enough.' 'No!' says the man on the internet 'the new edition ruins everything forever.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... DUNGEONS THE DRAGONING, a game where the fighter would not fear the wizard, where the cleric would not be nerfed, where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the roll of your dice, DUNGEONS THE DRAGONING can be your game as well.

Yeah, it's that kind of game. Space Fantasy, powerful and proactive heroes, ambiguous morality, the works. It is gonzo as gently caress and I love it. If you like, you can download the game here for free.

http://lawfulnice.blogspot.com/

The System Basics

Dungeons: the Dragoning uses a modified version of the Roll and Keep system. For those not in the know, Roll and Keep is AEG's pet resolution mechanic and works by having you roll a certain number of 10 sided dice (usually Attribute+Skill) and then pick a certain number of them to keep (usually just straight Attribute). You add all of your kept dice together and compare the total to the TN (Target Number) of the task you were trying to accomplish and if you equal or beat it, you succeed. The notation for dice rolls is XkY, where X is Rolled Dice and Y is Kept, and the notation for dice roll formulas is Y+Z where Y is what you use as Kept and Z is what you add to Y to get Rolled. There are Raises which give you extra benefits if you succeed, but unlike in Legend of the Five Rings where you get one for every 5 you add to the TN before rolling, Dungeons: the Dragoning simply grants them to you automatically for every 5 that you beat the TN by. Dungeons: the Dragoning also uses Checks, which are the opposite of Raises and give you penalties if you fail. They follow the same formulae, they just go down instead of up.

That covers Chapter 1 folks. It was short, but sweet. I'd like to thank Loki_XLII for the nice header and I hope he doesn't mind me stealing it. Chapter 2 will be short as well since I'm not going to be going in depth with much unless it's exclusive to that chapter, so if anyone wants me to make a sample character feel free to post suggestions. You can peek at the previous, unfinished write-up if you want to know what the options are.

Next time: A star is born!

AccidentalHipster fucked around with this message at 19:05 on Nov 11, 2013

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Chapter 2: Protagonist Creation, Part 2:

My last update devoted 2,800 words to character creation in Everlasting, and we never got around to little details like “things that the PCs can do.” The Everlasting is focused on more high-minded things, like picking from 31 flavours of Dracula and assigning point values to Jungian archetypes and your character’s devotion to the Pope and fantasy football.

A footnote on assigning points to those goofy Persona traits: I don’t know when or why you’d want high scores. The game tells us that the Guide can require tests if they think you’re acting out of character. If it’s ever to your advantage to be fanatically devoted to something, the game doesn’t say...yet.


Orlok’s real weakness was just a rolled-up newspaper.

Step 5: Aspects

Basic ability scores in Everlasting are called “aspects.” There are 9 of them, and no, they don’t correspond to White Wolf’s. The normal human limit is 6 (with rare prodigies reaching 7) while the limit for eldritch is 12, though of course “some claim” they can reach higher.

The physical aspects, Strength, Dexterity, and Resilience, are exactly what you expect.

The mental aspects are Instincts, Intellect, and Perception. Instincts represents common sense, intuition, situational awareness, and “gut instincts.” Among other things, it factors into combat initiative. Intellect is the intelligence attribute, covering knowledge, memory, and problem-solving. Perception covers sharp senses and general observation.

The “spiritual” aspects are Inspiration, Presence, and Spirit. Inspiration represents creativity and imagination--you need it to perceive the supernatural, because this is the 90s and that’s the trendy cliche. Presence is the charisma attribute, covering charm, magnetism, and leadership, but not necessarily beauty. Spirit is the willpower attribute; it includes self-confidence, discipline, and mental fortitude, and is used to resist mental and magical assault.

Step 6: Abilities

The Everlasting has an interesting skill system. You want your 90s Design big-rear end skill list? We got it right here. However, skills are grouped together into “Aptitudes.” There are 10 aptitudes containing 7 skills apiece; if you have Athletics 3, you automatically have all its sub-skills at 3, plus whatever points you want to spend on them individually.

The default, point-allocation method gives you 15 points for Aptitudes and 30 more points to spend on individual skills. If you wanted to play a lighter game, you could just play with Aptitudes.

Athletics: Accuracy, Acrobatics, Climb, Dance, Focus, Run, Swim
Criminal: Espionage, Firearms, Legerdemain, Murder, Security, Stealth, Streetwise
Humanities: Antiquities, Artistry, History, Language, Music, Religion, Research
Influence: Deception, Eloquence, Empathy, Intimidate, Persuasion, Question, Romance
Martial Arts: Blind Fighting, Block, Evasion, Grapple, Kick, Punch, Takedown
Melee: Axes, Clubs, Knives, Flails, Polearms, Staves, Swords
Modern Life: Alertness, Area Knowledge, Computers, Driving, Management, Profession (choose one), Social Awareness
Naturalism: Animals, Equestrian, Herbalism, Hunt, Orienteer, Survival,Track
Sciences: Engineering, Life Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Physical Science, Psychology, Rationalize
Supernatural: Arcana, Astral, Dream, Eldritch, Empower, Illumination, Intuition

As you can see, the groupings are goofy--”unarmed hand-to-hand combat” is a group, and so is “all the hard sciences and all branches of medicine and psychology.” I suppose this leans toward balance in a genre that is very much about dark urban superheroes punching each other, their trenchcoats and ponytails flapping in the wind.

Some of the individual skills may seem odd, and the game realizes this and explains them immediately. Is there a more detailed explanation of all the skills, later in the book? I don’t know.

Accuracy: throwing.
Focus: “Channeling internal energy” and controlling your body.
Murder: There is a specific skill for plotting and investigating homicide.
Question: Interrogation, including torture.
Social Awareness: Voting socialist. Just kidding! It means knowledge of current events, issues, and pop culture, very relevant to the setting.
Animals: Identifying, empathizing with, training, and tracking animals.
Orienteer: Navigation.
Rationalize: A specific skill for convincing mortals that they didn’t just see monsters dueling with katanas.
Arcana: Real-world mysticism, from astrology to Kabbalah.
Astral: Astral projection and navigation.
Dream: Lucid dreaming; traveling and manipulating the Dreamworlds.
Eldritch: Knowledge of eldritch races and the ability to identify them on sight.
Empower: Infusing magick into people and objects.
Illumination: Perceiving the supernatural.

Step 6: Distinctions

Distinctions are another aspect of the game that is interesting and unique, but of questionable value. Generally speaking, they’re a measure of your social standing within both mortal and eldritch society. They get weird when the game starts recommending that you get benefits and drawbacks based on your rating.

Your rating in a distinction can go from -9 to +9, and by default you have a +9 balance to divide among the 9 distinctions. The game doesn’t say that the rating is a straightforward bonus or penalty to any actions, and more importantly, it gives few guideposts on exactly what a rating of +3, -7, etc. means in the setting.

Biography essentially measures your effect on history and whether or not you’ve done anything meaningful with your life as far as the outside world is concerned. A positive rating could mean that you inspired a folk legend, or even that you were a historical figure (probably under an assumed name). A negative rating can mean that you are a literal folk devil, that you committed atrocities, or just that you’ve lived a reclusive life, and other eldritch see you as a naive hermit.

Eldritch ties is a measure of your connections and status with other eldritch, especially your own genos. A positive score means that you have friends, contacts, and respect, a position of authority, and a good reputation. A negative score means enemies, rivals, outcast status, or a reputation for being a low-down dirty snake.

Physique is weird and stupid. It’s a measure of your physical appearance and unusual physical characteristics, and doesn’t seem to fit in with the other, more “big picture” distinctions. A positive score represents health, beauty, an imposing appearance, and even odd physical talents, like contortionism. A negative score may mean that you’re ugly, unhealthy, disabled, disfigured, have poor hygiene, or have some particular physical disability, like being sterile. Tell me, when is that going to matter?

Psyche measures your mental, social, and psychological stability. A positive score represents intelligence, coping ability, strong convictions (in the form of Persona traits), and peculiar talents such as photographic memory. Negative scores indicate mental illness, unstable personality traits, and anachronistic behaviour. Like Physique, it seems that it tries to measure traits already covered by aspects and Persona, and admits as much.

Resources covers wealth and property, both mundane and supernatural. Positive resources can indicate not only money, valuables, and real estate, but rare assets such as state-of-the-art technology, priceless antiques, and restricted weapons. It also covers eldritch-related assets, like magical artifacts, a secure sanctum, or a dominion. “Wait,” you may ask, “does that mean if I’m broke, I can just take -9?” That’s a bad idea. A negative score can indicate that you’re not only broke and homeless, but deep in debt to both humans and eldritch.

Servitors are your servants, and how loyal they are. A good positive score indicates that your servants are numerous, skilled, loyal, and possibly supernatural creatures with unique abilities of your own. As with resources, a negative score doesn’t just mean you can’t find good help--it means you have servants you can’t trust, or former servants who have gossiped about you or are actively working against you.

Spirituality reflects your “attunement to your spiritual side.” Okay. A positive score indicates that you’re very spiritual, have some special destiny, enjoy good luck or literal blessings, or have strong ties to other dimensions. A negative score means you are “spiritually tormented” or have some special doom hanging over your head.

Supernature is not social; it’s a measure of your affinity with the supernatural. Again, something already well-handled by other rules. A positive score means that you are especially handy with or resistant to magick, that you lack one of the weaknesses common to your genos, some minor beneficial supernatural quirk, or that you are especially adept at passing for normal. A negative score indicates that you find it difficult to pass for a normal person, that you have no talent for magick, that you’re especially prone to the problems peculiar to your genos, or that you’re cursed.

Temporal ties measures your connections and status in mortal society (beyond the Igors and Scoobys that do your dirty work). A good rating indicates friends, supporters, contacts, social status, and a position of prominence in a social institution like politics, media, law enforcement, business, etc. A negative score means enemies, detractors, being a wanted criminal, or being targeted by an underground mortal group like a cult or an organized crime syndicate.

Besides the categories that just don’t seem to belong, here’s where distinctions get weird: The game recommends you use them as the base for a Benefits & Drawbacks system (analogous to WoD’s Merits & Flaws). Benefits and drawbacks are traits beyond your aspects and abilities, each of which are associated with one of the distinctions.

You can have both positive and negative traits for one distinction, as long as their value adds up to your value in the distinction. For example, if you have Biography +1, you could have both the Mythical Hero (+3) and Lengthy Absence (-2) traits. It also says that whatever bonuses or penalties you get should be equal to the value of the Benefit/Drawback. That’s all well and good in theory, but not only is it extremely vague and prone to abuse, Everlasting’s own examples don’t stick to it.

Some of the listed B/Ds (ha, ha) don’t mention any mechanical bonuses or penalties, and don’t give any advice on when to employ them. Others seem to throw them around at random. The physique trait Catfall (+1) allows you to make an Acrobatics test to reduce falling damage by 1 point per success, while Lost Eye (+1) gives a +1 difficulty to several skills. Okay, those stick to the bonus/penalty guideline--but what about the Psyche drawback Paranoia (-2), which gives you a Paranoid persona trait at 7?

I like the idea behind distinctions; PCs can’t ignore them the way they can neglect to buy social assets in many other games (including WoD games). There are some neat benefits and drawbacks, like True Love (which allows two people to share Destiny points) or Unique Anatomy (which grants things like flexible bones or a second heart). But using the former as a middleman to regulate the latter produces goofy results even in theory, and in practice the whole thing is very open to abuse, even by accident--a “beloved celebrity” benefit could give huge bonuses to a lot of rolls.

Step 8: Preternature and Magick

Innate supernatural powers are called “preternaturae,” because when this game needs a name for something, it goes straight for “cumbersome Latin.” Magick is a separate thing, because this game’s author is a Wiccan.

Ghuls, Reanimates, and Vampires refer to their preternaturae as Nekrosia, whereas Dead Souls call their powers Phantasmata. Again with the funky Latin. Magick is divided into Paths, from Voodoun to Neo-Shamanism to weird paths developed by and for eldritch. “All osirians, and only osirians, practice Ureret (osirian Ur-magick), the most powerful and pure magickal path known.” This book can’t shut up about the races it doesn’t even cover. Magick is covered in detail in Chapter 11, so I think we can leave it alone for now.

Protagonists get a default 30 points to split up amongst various preternature and magickal paths. Each genos also gets some powers for free.

Ghuls get Direction Sense, which not only grants flawless sense of direction but the ability to easily retrace steps, intuitively map surroundings, and even navigate other dimensions with shifting physical laws. They also have Enhanced Senses, Leaping (height/distance is tripled), regeneration, the ability to speak ghoul gibberish and the language of rats, and thermovision.

Revenants get Enhanced Memory, allowing near-perfect recall and photographic memory, enhanced senses, Heightened Grace (perfect balance even on a tightrope), regeneration, a sixth sense that detects spirits, and Abaddon get the reaper form--the ability to appear as a grim reaper, armed with a scythe that counts as “an empowered large polearm.”

Vampires? Vampires. They get body weaponry (fangs) which cause “debilitating damage,” enhanced senses, Heightened Grace, and regeneration.

Oh, it looks like they don’t even list the preternaturae here. We’d have to skip forward to another chapter to complete character creation, which isn’t necessary in Vampire: the Masquerade.

Step 9: Last details

First, level. Level in this game is, I think, just a dividend of your stats. You start off at level 3. Then come the derived stats. Speed is Dex/2. Life is your hit points, and equals Resilience+Strength+Spirit.

Last is Animus, your Magic Stuff Fuel. It’s Inspiration+Presence+Spirit. This is important because not only do all eldritch lose Animus each day, you automatically spend Animus to power your regeneration if you’re wounded. If you run out, you start taking 1 point of “insidious damage” every 8 hours. An eldritch with no Animus, having lost all Life to insidious damage, lingers helplessly in pain and weakness forever or until some kind soul gives you sustenance.

Sustenance! Hey, that’s important. Ghuls gain sustenance by feeding on dead human flesh. A hand or foot is worth 1 point, a half-arm or lower leg is worth 3, chest or back meat is 5, thighs are 6, the head is 3, and organs are two apiece. I’m not going to calculate how much a single human body is worth, but the idea of of a ghul getting by on a diet of human feet is funny and gross at the same time.

Revenants feed by draining the animus right out of people, usually with a kiss. For every 3 points they draw, the victim ages one year (children just have their lifespan shortened). Revenants can also feed on plants and animals, though they don’t enjoy it and it isn’t worth as much. Destroying an acre of crops (by kissing an ear of corn?) grants 1 animus, killing a large and ancient tree nets as much as 5, and feeding on animals grants 1 per year the animal is aged, so you could get by quite well on stray cats.

Vampires gotta have human blood. It works out to a point of animus for each point of “insidious damage” inflicted through blood loss. Draining half or more of a mortal’s animus makes them into a “drone.”

Mortals, who are listed for the sake of comparison, restore animus through eating, sleeping, and meditating.

Torments: the Downward Spiral

Hey, that would make a good title for a White Wolf game. Anyway, “Angst and self-torture are a part of existence that the everlasting cannot escape.” Jesus wept. Each genos has a Torment, and each Protagonist’s Torment rating starts at 3, which can go up and down during legendmaking. Giving in to Torment gives you Destiny points or some other benefit, but your Torment score increases. When it hits 13, you’re completely consumed and become an unplayable character, most like a “short-lived antagonist.”

You can add your Torment score to a test when it’s appropriate, but that automatically increases it by 1. The Guide can also decide to arbitrarily gently caress you over by requiring you to test your Spirit against your Torment. If you fail, you “give in to your dark urges.”

Ghuls’ torment is Degeneration. Most ghuls eventually become more animal-like in both mind and body until they’re just beasts of prey.

Revenants’ torment is Detachment. Most have little or no connection to the living, or even with their own kind, since they’re just haunting a body. Most feel very alone and that loneliness eventually breeds callousness, cynicism, and even cruelty.

Vampires’ torment is Damnation. They’re constantly aware of their dark side; they have to literally feed it to sustain themselves, and it always wants more blood, cruelty, and evil. Vampires who resist damnation gain a sense of “nobility and tragic heroism” and probably sparkle.

Destiny points are Plot points that you use to help your Protagonist. You start the game with a pool of 10. You can also spend them to succeed at rolls, or even to alter major plot points in your favour.

1 DP (ha, ha) nets you an automatic success--that’s the only purely mechanical use. You can spend 2-7 DPs to alter anything from a minor detail to a major event drastically in your favour; a pool of unspent DPs is a license to wreck the story the Guide was planning. Hm, on second thought, maybe White Wolf should have used this…

The Guide is expected to award 1 DP to everyone each session, with up to 3 for especially good contributions, and up to 7 for doing something that greatly benefits the group “such as buying pizza for everyone.”

The other way to get DP is by killing fellow eldritch, because here we are! Born to be kings! We’re the princes of the universe, in a world with the darkest powers! The phenomenon is known as the Rapture, and the killers get to divide up the victim’s BP however they like--it really isn’t explained on a setting level.

Backlash points are bad karma you get from violating the laws of magick, nature, or what the Guide thinks you were supposed to do. “It is almost a ‘you reap what you sow’ law for the Secret World, (though some of us believe it affects people in the Real World as well).” Christ on a spike. The Guide, after giving you BP, can spend those BP to turn your successes into failures or hit you with temporary or permanent bad luck or curses. Any character can also spend the Backlash of any character they’re acting against.

All protagonists, except dragons, start with no Backlash points. Dragons start with 30 Backlash points, and gently caress you Stephen we don’t give a flying gently caress about the loving dragons that aren’t even loving covered in this loving book, okay?

Gaining Backlash from magick is dumb because, get this, you get Backlash from using magick to hurt someone who doesn’t deserve it. So there are no evil wizards, I guess, because they all backlashed themselves to hell. Ghuls gain a Backlash point from intentionally touching a living human with their bare skin, while revenants and vampires gain a point for killing someone by feeding.

Guides are downright encouraged to use Backlash for legendmaking. “Whining about Backlash being unfair is pointless, since it is meant to be unfair.” There’s a chart telling the Guide what they can do with spent Backlash points, from spending 1 point for a temporary Dementia 2 Persona trait, up to 13 points for a permanent, serious curse.

Experience points aren’t the same as Destiny points. There are a couple paragraphs devoted to saying that powergaming and getting all the points in all the cool stuff and all the cool artifacts and poo poo really isn’t what the game is about, but the only important thing is for everyone to have fun and keeping the characters balanced against each other. Protagonists should get 1-4 experience points per session and 2-7 at the conclusion of a storyline. Protagonists should also be required to explain (verbally or in writing) how they’re improving a trait with points.

After the experience chart is an example of character creation. The mark in question is Michael Von Prankh, a Christian knight who became a vampire in the 1400s. He has long blonde hair and a light beard and moustache, and green-grey eyes, and he’s very handsome.

The details of Michael’s character sheet are too boring to write down, but the last page of character creation comes with some amusing suggestions. One is to keep a journal written from your Protagonists perspective, in order to “develop a deeper understanding” of the character. Because to hell with my fiancee and my free time and any serious writing I might want to do, I need to work on my relationship with an imaginary vampire swordsman. “Keeping a protagonist journal is extremely creative,” we are told, because it’s always creative to do what a book tells you to do, and fanficcers are extremely creative people.

After this is some no-brainer advice on describing your protagonist’s aspects and skills in terms of what they are actually like and how they were educated. Then comes the recommendation that the PCs should remain mysterious to one another, and keep their character sheets secret.

I’m going to be as brutally honest as I can: The character creation section reads like its intended audience is the gamers you used to hang out with at the gaming store, the ones who are perpetually underemployed and unwashed, who devote hours and hours to their RPG characters because they have nothing else in their lives.

Next time, on The Everlasting: “Basic Guidelines,” because only fascists insist on rules, man.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

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

Zereth posted:

Pretty sure it's not using that system. Like, at all.
I was not talking about the rules.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

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




DOUBLE CROSS

From now on we'll be doing double updates. The first half will be continuing through the book normally; the second will take a closer look at the Syndromes and the Overed's powers. If you're more into flavour than rules, I suggest you skip right to the second part of this update.

Part VI - Rules and Session Flow

Here we are, the rules. They took their sweet time to show up.

DX's central conflict resolution system is based on a pool of d10's. When testing a skill, you roll a number of dice equal to the stat the skill is based on. The highest number that comes up is your result. Add your skill rating to that and you have your final result. Let's say we have to gather some info, and we choose to do that through our network of Facebook gossip. Info: Web is based on the Social stat, which we have at 4. We roll 4 dice and get 1, 5, 8, and 5. The highest number is 8. We add our Info: Web rating of 2 to that and get a final score of 10.

Critical hits are interesting. If you roll any number of 10's, you ignore the rest of the dice and do a new check using only the number of dice that came up 10. Add 10 to the final result of this check. This is recursive and can keep happening as long as you keep rolling 10's. Critical hits are not uncommon at all, especially when your stat is high. You can comfortably get a stat up to 7 or 8 at character creation, and at this point critical hits are already starting to pile up.

Tasks have difficulties, with 8 being average and 14 or above being for very difficult situations. Opposed checks work as expected; the one with the highest final score wins. Bonuses and penalties can be applied to the number of dice rolled, to the final score itself, or the treshold value for a critical hit can be lowered (this is what the free Concentrate power does).

The math isn't too intuitive, but I simulated some numbers. Bonuses to the final result are way more valuable than bonuses to the number of dice rolled. You see a lot of sample characters with very unbalanced stats, like 8/1/1/1. Low stats aren't a huge problem as long as you've got skills. Someone with Body 1 and Melee 4 will win against someone with Body 8 and Melee 0 about 30% of the time. Not negligible!

A Session of Play

A session gets divided in three main phases: pre-game, main game, and post-game.

DX is not designed for a sandbox kind of game. It expects GMs to prepare "Scenarios" ahead of time. During the pre-game, the GM will present the Scenario to the players through a Trailer. This is exactly what it sounds like: a teaser-thing, a couple of action-packed minutes the GM gets to sell the Scenario to the players. Yes, DX fully expects the GM to narrate this in a fast pace, do dramatic cuts, and do voice-acting for snippets of NPC dialogue. It's sort of adorable, really.

Each Scenario will have Handouts. These are for the players, and they say what kind of characters are expected in the scenario. The book implies that "just create whatever, let's see what you guys want to play and take it from there" is something that tends to not happen very often. It expects the GM to have a selection of character concepts that fit the plot of their scenario, and the players to pick the concepts they like the best. I'm not a huge fan of it.

Pre-game is also a time for creating Loises. The character concepts in the scenario handouts can have Loises associated with them – for instance, the handout may say this particular scenario needs a UGN Branch Chief, and whoever chooses to be said branch chief gets a scenario Lois with the leader of a local civilian militia.

At this point each character gets an extra Lois with one of the other player characters. So you have 3 from doing Personal Data at character creation, one from the scenario, and one with another PC, for a standard amount of 5 Loises at the start of play.



The Main Game

A game of DX is divided in scenes. Scenes have a beginning and an end, and are framed by the GM according to the needs of Scenario pacing. The GM has total control: they say what characters are in the scene, and what characters can or need to enter the scene in the middle of it. Characters may ask to get in the scene or leave it, but the GM has the final say in everything. Here's the kicker, and it's kind of a big one:
Every time you enter a scene, your character's Encroachment Rate goes up by 1d10. Yep. Just being there and participating in the game takes your poor Overed closer to insanity.

Scenes are pretty standard fare. The GM frames it by saying where and when it takes place, who the lead character of the scene is, and who is there as supporting cast. Roleplaying happens, and at some point the GM will call en end to the scene. The process begins anew with the framing of the next scene. DX follows the Tenra Bansho Zero school of pacing: divide everything into scenes and don't dilly-dally. In every scene there should be either dramatic development between characters or some purposeful action going on. These games are intended to be played fast-paced and action-packed.

Some scenes have no player characters at all in them, only NPCs. These are called "Master Scenes". DX wholly expects the GM to talk to themselves to advance the plot or present cliffhangers or increase tension.

The main game goes through phases, but they are informal, unlike TBZ's acts. These are just general guidelines.

The Opening Phase is the first few scenes. These should present the Overeds' daily lives, introduce their important Loises, and show the looming danger of the Scenario.

The Middle Phase is the meat of play. There's not much to say here, as what happens in these scenes will vary wildly and depend heavily on how the players go about doing their business. But there are three things that should absolutely happen in the Middle Phase:
The PCs should meet each other.
The threat of the Scenario should be investigated.
Battles and introductions of new threats should happen.

At the end of the Middle Phase, players should come face-to-face with the terrible threat they are facing. This can be an abstract idea or a tangible enemy; either way, we enter the Climax. This will be the final battle of the session, the one with the dramatic music playing and characters putting all their cards on the table to reach the Scenario's conclusion. The characters have to work together to overcome the final threat, and only their teamwork will pull thr-

quote:

During the Climax, the GM decides which player characters may enter.
Thanks, Double Cross!

After the Climax, the PCs must do Backtracking. This is when they try to use their Loises to decrease their Encroachment Rate and avoid becoming Gjaums. How this is done is the subject of the next update.

And after everything is said and done, we have the Ending, or epilogue. This is just a short description of the aftermath of the events of the Scenario.

After Game

Mostly a time for cleanup. DX isn't a big fan of carrying over things from one session to the next: it really expects an episodic structure to a campaign, a string of related Scenarios that each have a definite beginning, middle, and end.

If at this point your Encroachment Rate is 100% or above, your character has effectively become a Gjaum. They are driven completely by their Impulses, and become an NPC. You lose control of your character.

As for the characters that have managed to hold on to their humanity, their damage is completely healed, and their Encroachment Rate goes back to its base rate – what it was at the beginning of the session, before power use and scenes. So if you escape becoming a Gjaum by a hair's breadth at 99%, and you use the same character next session, they will be back at 30% or whatever their starting rate was.

You have to pick three Loises to remain with your character as lasting Loises. The rest is discarded now. If you have less than three, you get to make new Loises until you reach three. This may look weird, but DX only half-expects you to play the same character again, anyway. This is done so your character always starts Scenarios with 3 Loises intrinsic to them, one Lois with another PC of this Scenario, and one optional Lois from the Scenario handout.

Items reset to the Stocked items. Any item that's Stocked and you lost, you get back. Anything that isn't Stocked and you acquired, you lose.

Experience Points

...are awarded to the players and to the GM, not the characters. Your guy became a Gjaum and is now an NPC hunting innocent people through the city? Worry not, for the XP you got is yours, not theirs. The next character that you make gets to benefit from it.

The XP gain chart is funny. Completing the Scenario is worth 1-10 points, depending on the Scenario. Just being there until the end is worth 1 point, as well as having helped other players and setting up the time and place for the game ("it's the players that gain XP, not the characters").

The character's final Encroachment Rate, after Backtrack, is worth XP as well. Ending the session at 0-30% is worth a mere 2 points, but going all the way to 70-99% is worth 5 XP (going over the edge to over 100% is worth only 3, though).Enhancing your Backtrack roll resets this amount to 3 XP, no matter what the end ER was. Rerrolling Backtrack makes this 0.

The GM gets XP as well! Because, you know, why not? This is equal to the sum of the XP gained by the players, divided by three. I found this math weird until I realised it's designed explicitly so having more players nets the GM more XP. Oh, the best part?

quote:

A bonus point of one may be added if the players feel the GM helped with setting up the table and coordinating schedules.
Thanks, Double Cross!

This XP has no use for a GM, but if the role of GM ever goes to another player, the previous GM has a bunch of XP in stock. And the new GM will accumulate XP as well. This makes rotating GMs trivially easy, as there's no rebalancing to be done: everyone is always on the same level, more or less.

There are, of course, rules for character progression and XP costs of new stats, skills, powers, etc. It's worth noticing, however, that using the same character from one session to the next is not even expected. It's something that may happen, if the Scenario to be played warrants it. As a player, you're supposed to pick the character you like best out of the Scenario handout. This is not to say there can't be continuous campaigns, but DX certainly expects them to follow a more... episodic structure.

Next time: Lois rules! Combat rules!



Syndrome Dossier, Part A - Common Powers and Renegade Beings

These will be part of the update where we learn about Syndromes and stuff! But this is part A, and we have to get a couple of things out of the way first, before we delve into the Syndromes proper. But don't worry, they are all really cool.

Common Powers

These are powers available to all Overeds, regardless of Syndrome. There are three powers that all overeds get for free: Concentrate, Ressurrection, and Warding.

Concentrate is a power that increases the margin of a critical hit in rolls for powers – as in, you can treat 9s, 8s or even 7s as critical hits, depending on the power level. It's a straightforward utility thing. It only works for one Syndrome, which you pick at character creation. Increasing critical hit chance is very, very advantageous the more dice you have in your pool.

Resurrect is interesting. It's instant recovery from incapacitation, with Xd10 HP, where X is the power's level. The only drawback is that your Encroachment Rate goes up by the same amount of HP you recovered, and you can't use Resurrect once your ER goes above 100%. The Overed keeps fighting back from defeat, at the cost of their humanity. Mechanical support for a genre trope makes this power really incredible in my view.

But that's nothing compared to the next one. This next power is one of my absolute favourite things about DX. But first, let's talk about Extras. Extras are NPCs that have no stats. They can't affect battles in any way, and there's never a need to roll when dealing with them: declare something, it's done. Extras are intended as background scenery.
Warding is a power that releases Renegade virus particles in the air around you. It turns all non-Overeds in the area into Extras. All Overeds in the area instantly know that Warding has been used by someone.
This power is all kinds of proper game design in every sense. It effectively neutralises non-Overeds. Want to have a big fight in a public square? Alright; suddenly everyone around remembers something really important they have to do at home and soon the square is deserted except for you and your opponent.
You're calmly walking down the street, when you realise it's unusually empty for this time of day. That's when you notice the scent of Warding in the air... you ready your battle stance, for you know an Overed is nearby.
The best part is you can flavour it however you like. You're a Solaris? Just say everyone falls asleep around you. You're a villain? Everyone feels sudden pain and falls unconscious, maybe even dies. You're a Chimera? A primal fear overcomes the people nearby and they run away without knowing why.
I love Warding.

These are the powers every Overed gets for free. There are also other Common Powers you can pick in place of your Syndrome's powers. Most are generic bonuses to rolls, intended to be combined with other powers. There are also generic bonuses to regular skill rolls outside of battle, representing the use of the Renegade to enhance your body and mind and stuff. Here are some Common Powers that merit special mention for being flavourful:
Calm Down pacifies the Renegade virus in the region, giving penalties to checks to every single Overed and Gjaum in the area.
Weapon Mastery is a special attunement of the Renegade with a weapon you have Stocked, and it's a permanent increase in damage. It's like your virus gets a special fondness for that chainsaw you like carrying around so much.
Intimidation is Warding, taken up to 11. It is an aggressive release of virus particles that can instantly incapacitate weaker enemies. Magical viral tear gas.
Soldier's Network is a power that uses the Renegade to create a sort of hive-mind, allowing you to synchronise your actions with those of subordinates (as in, NPC minions under your command).
Research Master increases Info checks and represents your expertise in using your Overed powers when gathering information. The details are up to the player. Personally I like to imagine a Neumann scientist going "citation manager software is for chumps".
Little Happiness is the cutest power in the game. I'll transcribe its description:
"Receive career or social success by properly using Renegade powers for the society." It enhances a Procure check.

Renegade Beings

It's been hinted so far that the Renegade is more than just a virus. At times, it seems almost... intelligent. But there's no way it could manifest something like free will, right? Right...?

What if it could infect things other than humans...?

Put these two together and you have Renegade Beings. They are what happens when the Renegade infects something in the world that's not a human, and that thing gets so saturated with virus it emerges as a sentient manifestation of the Renegade's consciousness itself. RBs are living, walking, talking Renegade. And, of course, you can play as them.

The rules for creating a RB character are simple, really. What you need is to pick Work: Renegade Being. There special tables for a RB's Origin, Experience and Encounter when it comes to creating Personal Data. You get two powers for free, and access to a few RB-exclusive powers as well. Other than these things, create the character just like a regular Overed. They still have Impulses and Awakenings and Loises, and run the same risks of becoming Gjaums. A RB Gjaum is a formidable opponent.

Every RB gets the power Humanity's Neighbour for free. It is always active and means you can always disguise yourself as a human. RBs tend to be interested in humans and infliltrate human society, and this power allows them to.

Every RB gets an Origin power for free (careful not to confuse it with the Origin table when doing Personal Data, they're separate). These represent what kind of thing you were before being infected by the Renegade. Activating the power reverts you to a more primal form resembling your origins and grants you extra abilities until the end of battle. No matter what, you can still walk and talk and function normally. A RB that was a rock doesn't become a rock when activating Origin: Mineral, but something more like a rock golem. The available origins are:
Animal - you were once an innocent animal before the Renegade got to you
Colony - you were a coral reef, a fungus, a forest...
Cyber - maybe you were a cellphone, maybe you were an internet site, maybe you were a particularly nasty C++ library.
Plant - ever felt like being grass was boring? Your xylem not flowing like it used to? Find some Renegade and now you can conquer the world.
Mineral - you have an inorganic origin, like rock or crystal or marble or cement.
Legend - ever heard about memes? You were an idea, a rumour, an urban legend, an archetype shared by the imagination of people. A whisper in the back of their minds. Now you're real.

The Renegade virus is... kind of impressive, actually. It can infect the idea of Batman.

In addition to these, there are unique powers that are accessible only to Renegade Beings. The ones more worthy of mention are:
Unseen Talker - Not very many people are Overeds, but there's a lot of dormant Renegade among humans. This powers allows you to tap into that huge network of virus to gather information.
Stillness - You can change the balance of Renegade viral load in someone. Decrease their Encroachment Rate, increase yours.
Heartless Memories - Talk to the dead. No, really. From a possession or body part, you can reconstruct a deceased person's memories and converse briefly with it.
Hazard Call - An attack that, if it hits, increases the target's Encroachment Rate. Stir up the Renegade in an enemy.
Renegade Smite - Think Goku's spirit bomb, but with virus instead. Gather up all the Renegade dormant in an area and use it to smite your foes with.

As promised in the first update, this is how you play a sentient idea that can throw cars around – just pick Origin: Legend and the Chimera power Flying Debris.

Renegade Being Life History

Let's take a look at some of the options for a Renegade Being's Personal Data. The tables here are honestly very cool, filled with inspiring options ripe with plot potential.

Origin includes things like having ancient memories of a distant past, being born far away from civilisation (recommended Lois: animals), having been discovered in a hibernation state (recommended Lois: researcher), being born to watch someone, being part of a family of Renegade Beings, being a reincarnation ("you have memories that do not belong to you"), being from goddamn space... there's not a lot here that's boring.

The Experience table is cool but not as good. It includes having spent happy times with a human family, having lived inside a volcano, having cooperated with research on the Renegade, having a best friend (), having a past of wanton slaughter, among others.

The Encounter chart is pretty much exactly the same as the one for regular Overeds, with nothing much worthy of mention and nothing that relates directly to the character's status as a Renegade Being.

That's it, for now. Renegade Beings are one of the coolest things about DX, and some of the Common Powers are pretty great, too.

Next time on Syndrome Dossier: Light! Darkness! Get ready for Angel Halo and Balor!

Cyphoderus fucked around with this message at 20:25 on Nov 11, 2013

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I wandered about that Warding power, and figured it was a thematic "everyone gently caress off so we can have a superhero fight" power.

Cyph, this is my character for your Double Cross game, hope that's cool

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


How do Renegade Beings work with encroachment. If they're already 100% monster how do they get more monster, so to speak.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

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


Kurieg posted:

How do Renegade Beings work with encroachment. If they're already 100% monster how do they get more monster, so to speak.

Renegade Beings may be thousands of years old or newborn entities just formed last Tuesday, but psychologically they're not much different from humans. They have distinct personalities, relationships to other people, and good old motivations, like curiosity, vengeance, love, the whole nine yards. They are alien, bizarre creatures, but ones that think and act like humans, most of the time. This is because the Renegade has a special relation with humans; as much as it changes a person, people also change it in turn. You can say that the Renegade, as a whole, is very interested in mankind. This interest manifests as Renegade Beings.

Going over 100% Encroachment Rate means all that goes in the drain and all that's left is your Impulse. It becomes the only thing driving your life. This is true for human and Renegade Being Gjaums alike.

There is another form of creature that's just the Renegade infecting non-human stuff. They're mindless and monstrous from the get-go, but they're different from RBs. They're called EX Renegades.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




Cyphoderus posted:

Each Scenario will have Handouts. These are for the players, and they say what kind of characters are expected in the scenario. The book implies that "just create whatever, let's see what you guys want to play and take it from there" is something that tends to not happen very often. It expects the GM to have a selection of character concepts that fit the plot of their scenario, and the players to pick the concepts they like the best. I'm not a huge fan of it.

And it's here (and the later parts of that update in general) the core difference that I've noticed between Japanese and Western PnP RPGs appear, as the Japanese ones are usually geared for quick instances of play, like say for a lunch break or something like that, while the Western ones are more often than not built with a long lasting campaign in mind.
It's an interesting difference really.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Any idea where "Gjaum" comes from? Is it some weird Japanese reference, oddly transliterated?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Well just ordered Double Cross.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


The game lets you play a Dog Shaped Renegade Buddy. Every update I love it more and more.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


Cyphoderus posted:

Resurrect is interesting. It's instant recovery from incapacitation, with Xd10 HP, where X is the power's level. The only drawback is that your Encroachment Rate goes up by the same amount of HP you recovered, and you can't use Resurrect once your ER goes above 100%. The Overed keeps fighting back from defeat, at the cost of their humanity. Mechanical support for a genre trope makes this power really incredible in my view.

I love how thematic these powers are. The way Encroachment works reminds me of the Death and Asura mechanics from Tenra Bansho Zero where you can let your character get killed off to pull of a really badass dying moment. Although whenever I do something like that, I can't help but say, "I REJECT MY HUMANITY!"

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Halloween Jack posted:

Any idea where "Gjaum" comes from? Is it some weird Japanese reference, oddly transliterated?

A couple of reviews I've seen suggest the original text is just "Germ", so the transliteration is to both keep something like the Japanese pronunciation and also look less dumb to English-speaking readers, at a guess.

suffix
Jul 27, 2013

Wheeee!


Tulul posted:

So, yeah, you take an hourly Might hit for wearing armor, along with a permanent Speed reduction. gently caress you, jocks!

I thought jocks got abilities that negated the armor penalties?

I'm really curious how the pool system works out in practice.
I get what people are saying about the might pool, but on the other hand a "jock" character could spend a lot of might points before they're down to what someone who put their points in speed or intellect would have. And they'll probably still have better armor.

It could still be a bad system just because it makes the players hesitate to spend points, but I don't think the system screws fighters over by itself.

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



suffix posted:

I thought jocks got abilities that negated the armor penalties?

I'm really curious how the pool system works out in practice.
I get what people are saying about the might pool, but on the other hand a "jock" character could spend a lot of might points before they're down to what someone who put their points in speed or intellect would have. And they'll probably still have better armor.

It could still be a bad system just because it makes the players hesitate to spend points, but I don't think the system screws fighters over by itself.


My reading of Numanumayay was that fighters could stay relevant as long as you played everything very strictly by RAW. As in, you don't let the wizardly folks do more damage or whatever than the game says they can with basic attack powers. Obviously, if you let them extrapolate that lifting 20 ton rocks with their mind lets you drop them on someone, doing X tons of damage, they become incredibly dominant.

It was a fairly brief reading, but the sense I got was that you had to be a bit gamist in all the fighting type scenarios, if a power didn't say it did damage you shouldn't let it do damage, just have them use their basic mind zot and refluff it as attacking with that power.

And yeah, the jock characters can easily reduce the hourly penalties for armor. Glaives start out with a free innate that cuts penalties for armor by -2, which is huge. It means they can wear medium armor with zero penalty and wear heavy armor (reducing all incoming damage by 3) with a mere -1 penalty. Also, Glaives get another benefit-because they have a huge Might pool (where most of the damage is taken from first) and most attacks can also be Speed actions (also, they get Edge in Speed as well, which means the implication here is that you'll probably be drawing power from Speed ), they can take a crap-ton of damage without actually losing combat effectiveness. Remember, the moment one pool goes down you're incapacitated. This means Glaives have a huge edge because they have a huge HP value, and they also have Edge in something that can sub freely for almost all combat rolls.

The net result is that a jock fighter, starting off, can take a blow that will drop your wizard into a sobbing mass on the floor and literally not give a single gently caress.

I'm not super-well versed in it, so it may still have ~caster superiority~ but it's not quite as bad as it'd seem at first glance. Like I said, if you don't let wizards use the powers which don't give fixed damage to do damage (which I think would be the intent here!) and only for dramatic actions, the wizard is going to get mulched. His most awesome super attack power does like... 6 damage a round after he starts using it. Most of the damage powers which anyone can get are like 7 points max. A tough cyborg fighter can easily be tooling around with an Armor of 6, which means he takes the wizard's hits and Does Not Give A gently caress like the murderous cyborg tank he is.

EDIT: If there's caster superiority I think it's actually very much not D&D's "wizards are best at everything". It's specifically what wizards are good at (manipulating the environment with dramatic actions) that makes them so powerful in a game where you're expected to do a lot of exploring and scavenging. In the end, though, reading the rules strictly makes me think that, unless I've missed some kind of super-ridiculous death combo (I might have), that a wizard is going to get smeared to the wall by something the fighter would rip in half while barely slowing.

MJ12 fucked around with this message at 22:57 on Nov 11, 2013

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

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

Renegade is more magical than the loving T-Virus, but goddamn that looks fun to play.

Clanpot Shake
Aug 10, 2006
shake shake!



I checked on the wiki but didn't see a write-up for the Dragon Age RPG. Is it any good? Worth looking at?

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011



Clanpot Shake posted:

I checked on the wiki but didn't see a write-up for the Dragon Age RPG. Is it any good? Worth looking at?

The first book gives you rules for playing characters from level 1 to 5. The second book contains the rules for 5 to 10. The third, which only came out at least a year after the first two, contained the remainder of the progression. Other than that I've done nothing but read some basic poo poo off their website (Rogues can actually use a quarterstaff, interestingly enough) but setting your books up like that just seems incredibly stupid and lovely to me.

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AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?


LornMarkus posted:

The first book gives you rules for playing characters from level 1 to 5. The second book contains the rules for 5 to 10. The third, which only came out at least a year after the first two, contained the remainder of the progression. Other than that I've done nothing but read some basic poo poo off their website (Rogues can actually use a quarterstaff, interestingly enough) but setting your books up like that just seems incredibly stupid and lovely to me.

Character creation is a bit of a mess as well since it not only resurrects rolling for attributes in order, but also has you roll for other things like starting skills and features. And it's licensed from a game that doesn't have a random element to character creation.

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