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Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Tasoth posted:

Alternity's art being awesome doesn't stop there. Both of the alien guides have covers by Brom and the actual illustrations are top notch. God do I love those books.
The best art for any Alternity book has been and always will be Facepalm Priest from Dark*Matter.

Meanwhile, it's time to do the opposite of April Fool's day tradition and actually write up what I said I would enter the new thread with, plowing straight through the first two chapters of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age. Excelsior!

Introduction and Chapter 1: A Brief History of Nazi-Punching
What is Mutants and Masterminds?
Assuming you don't already know about it somehow, Mutants and Masterminds is a d20 system game focused on two things: superheroes, and saying :frogout: to the sacred cow of character classes. Instead, you buy your ability scores, skills, feats, and powers with a pool of points alloted to you based on the game's "Power Level". Like Dungeons and Dragons, d20 Modern, and Pathfinder, it has a System Reference Document for all your basic rules needs.

That face. :stonk:
What is "The Golden Age"?
Chapter 1 of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age handily decides to lay down for us the history of the Golden Age, thus explaining what it is to those who are not comic book nerds. The Golden Age is the era of comic books from the first costumed hero in the early 1930s up to an undefined time soon after the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. This is the time where now-famous superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Namor the Speedo-Man Sub-Mariner. The Golden Age is stereotypically known for its colorful red-white-n'-blue costumes, jingoism, awkward pre-Civil Rights social interactions, and lots of heroes punching Nazis in the face. The invention of the Comics Code Authority and the dawning of the Atomic Age lead into the next comic book age, known as the Silver Age, which lead into the Bronze Age, and hten into the Iron Age/Dark Age that we now have our comic books set in. Yes, comic book ages are silly.

Chapter 2: The Golden Age World
Just as the first chapter was an overview of the history of comic books during the Golden Age, chapter 2 is an overview of the rest of the world during the Golden Age.

A Brief Overview of America at War
If you didn't know, there's an obscure event during the Golden Age called "World War II". This first segment covers both that and the Korean War in broad strokes. There is a game-relevant sidebar entitled "They Saved Hitler's Brain!", however, discussing the various ways you could allow the players to have repeated cases of Hitler-punching even after the war is over.

Not quite the World's Finest, but they'll do.
The Golden Age and Real-World History
It all started with the Great Depression. ...Well, this chapter does, at least, beginning with an overview of how the Great Depression lead into the rise of American Nazis and the Cosa Nostra gangsters, as well as the beginning of World War II. Like how America won the war (and those other guys too I guess).

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

The combined Axis powers were simply no match for America’s industrial might, which simultaneously kept the Soviet Union equipped, the United Kingdom fed, and buried Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan beneath a rain of steel.

What exactly does all of this mean for your supers game, though? Golden Age has the answers for you. The author is quick to note that you could do a Film Noir-style campaign focused around facing off against La Cosa Nostra, a redemption story of an individual who turned to villainy during the Great Depression seeking to become a hero, old villains becoming new allies against the greater threat of the Axis powers, and having Axis supervillains do over-the-top Golden Age things like breaking a famous Hollywood starlet's legs because mwuahaha evil.

Perhaps more interesting than Nazi Punching 101 might be the statements on what to do after WWII ends and the Golden Age begins to wane. The simplest suggestion given is to just replace Nazis with the Red Army as villains, though this might bring up obvious questions about WWII Soviet supers suddenly being treated as the villains. There are also some more interesting suggestions, such as having the enemies present be the extraterrestrials that ushered in the Silver Age of Comics or even McCarthyite finger-poiners hassling the heroes and making their life hell.

Life in the Golden Age
Ignoring minor notes such as fashion trends of the time, the biggest elephant in the room of talking about how life was in the time of the Golden Age of Comics is that people were often even more bigoted assholes than they are today. The chaptr proudly tells us that the correct way of playing with this fire is that the truth is in the middle:

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

The key, as always, is balance. Don’t rant on the Nisei internment camps so much that you forget to include the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. As bad as segregation was, don’t forget to celebrate Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson. It was an age that gave us both Charlie and Joe McCarthy–don’t let either extreme dominate your stories. Most of all, don’t lose sight of the fact that this era–like all others–had its good times and bad times, its heroes and its villains. Even in a roleplaying game about bulletproof super-mutants who can fly, a world that is painted as all good or all bad pushes the bounds of credibility too far
On the other hand, the book also discusses just what kind of bigotry you can inflict soon after, and then turns around a third time by suggesting to probably just ignore it:

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

It’s vital for the Gamemaster to remember that roleplaying games are supposed to be fun, not long, nasty historical polemics. Though it may be anachronistic, it’s often better to discard elements of the era’s bigotry than to irritate and offend the players.
This could probably be far more easily summed up by just having a single paragraph about how it is up to the GM and the players on how much to focus on prejudice, but congratulations on having three conflicting paragraphs instead, Golden Age.

The rest of the segment is just a look at popular radio and television entertainment, technology, and economics of the time. There's even a table of difficulty checks for obtaining rationed goods if you are that :spergin: about the topic.

Heroes in Uniform
The final piece of chapter 2 is a brief statement on having an action military campaign set in the Golden Age. This is basically Blackhawks or (for a more modern example) GI Joe: the Campaign. You have above-average but below-superpowered heroes who engage both in action hero-style combat and help rebuild the lives of the people affected by war. There are also statements on crossing such a campaign over into supers territory, such as having a large team of action heroes fight a single war-time supervillain against the odds, introduce Weird Wars-style occult warfare, or the like.


Next time: Rocketeers, why you can't be a psychic in the Golden Age, maxing out your Hitler-punching stats, and other game rules for the Golden Age.


Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Bitchtits McGee posted:

For those who came in late: Talents are like highly specialized mini-Feats that you can only take at character creation to supplement your character concept. I, uh, can't think of anything else to say about them, so...
Is that really how Fields uses talents? That's really terrible, if so. What made talents special in d20 Modern and Star Wars Saga Edition was that they were basically multiple choice class features, allowing a single class to take multiple roles. Diluting them down into "take this trait thing at first level" is disappointing.

Ryuujin posted:

See Dimwitted but Mighty kind of sounds fun to play, just like some of the races occasionally sound interesting. But then everything devolves into FIIIIIIIEEEEEEEELLLLDS!! :doom:tm
Fields is pretty much always like that, even outside of his pet sex settings. Some of his products appeared in an RPG grab bag that came with donating to the RPG Gamer's Charity for the Fukushima disaster back in 2011 (along with far better books such as Frost and Fur). Surely a supplement about archery wouldn't have any detail given to sex, bodily functions, or the like, right?


Billy the Yakuza turned curiously at the strange whining sound, and caught an arrow through the throat. As he lost bladder control and crumpled to the ground, he marveled at how little the wound hurt. Billy the Yakuza died without a sound and a brainless look of mild surprise on his face. Within two seconds two other Yakuza leg breakers joined him, their blood lapping against the parked silver H2’s tires like red waves on a red beach.
Of course.

Let's speed away from the topic of Fields, though, to one much more fun: Hitler-punching!

Chapter 3: Optimized Hitler-Punching

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

This chapter will have you slapping the lips off fascist dictactors in no time.

As stated before, Mutants and Masterminds uses the concept of "power levels" instead of classes to inform how much points you can buy stuff with. This chapter starts off by noting the different power levels that a Golden Age game will have. Long story short: a fair range of them in multiples of two. Power Level 6 action movie-type heroes, PL 8 "punch stuff really good while wearing tights" heroes, PL 8 Flash/Green Lantern/etc.-type heroes, and PL 12 Superman/Captain Marvel-type heroes are all Golden Age staples, and the book notes that most hero team-ups of the era tended to actually have at least one representative from each power level. These heroes are most likely going to be putting their ranks into physical skills rather than mental skills if you are looking for what the book calls "authentically retro characters". Brawn was supposedly as popular or more popular than brains in heroes of the time...or so this book tells us, at least.

There is a brief skills section in this title, but it is pretty much just a note that the Computer Use is nerfed to hell in the Golden Age and that the Survival skill can be - gasp - used in urban environments to scavenge things rather than just in the wilderness to find nuts and berries. As for feats, they start out wit an exemplary list of exemptions. Want to be exempt from the draft? Take a feat. Want to be exempt from rationing rules? Take a feat. Want to have positive rather than negative amounts of wealth? Tak-you get the idea. There is also a feat you can take to have a beneficial military rank, one for driving a vehicle in combat without screwing things up, and one for flying a plane in combat without similarly screwing things up.

Yet again, we have a section that begins with talk about what is and is not good for the "authentically retro character". First off is a no-go on psychic powers and anything too super-sciencey. Why? According to the author of this little tome, the first is because mesmerism was almost always a villain trait in the Golden Age, while the second is because kids at the time were unlikely to understand what things like vibrating super-speed or spatial distortion were. I'm sure that obscure Golden Age heroes known as the Flash and Dr. Occult might disagree on at least two of those points. Second, you should have powers related to punching things. Punching things is always better in the Golden Age. Third, you should only have a few drawbacks, if any, as the heroes of the time were meant to be larger than life. As for new powers, there aren't any. Sorry if you wanted some.

Devices and Equipment
This section doesn't really have much in the way of new material so much as classifying what would and wouldn't be common weapons or vehicles in the Golden Age. it does, however, have this image that could not be skipped:

Broncosaurus Rex is over, yet the Confederates still refuse to stop following me. :stare:

Hero Archetypes
Last, but not least, are some free archetypes for you to use. These can be used as either NPCs, pre-made PCs, or as springboards for your own character designs. We have - in total in M&M: Golden Age:
  • Masked Adventurer: This is pretty much straight-up classic Batman or the Green Hornet, being an archetype for a wealthy guy who moonlights as a vigilante.
  • Mystic Adventurer: A character who gets magical powers from a supernatural object, like the original Alan Scott Green Lantern.
  • Omnipotent Mystic: An uber-powerful Superman-level magician who is somewhat detached from humanity. I'm honestly not sure who this one is a reference to, as characters like Dr. Occult have more in common with early Harry Dresden than Dr. Manhattan as far as jobs and power levels go.
  • Patriotic Hero: Captain America, the Fighting Yank, US Jones... The archetype of an all-American human of peak perfection was very much an in thing during the Golden Age, and it's no surprise it ends up in the book.
  • Retro Gadgeteer: The archetype of flying rocketeers and the like, such as the comic book character Bulletman or the serial story character Commando Cody.
  • Superhuman Hero: Superman, if you somehow couldn't guess.
  • Two-Fisted Adventurer: The spiritual ancestor of Indiana Jones. These individuals specialize in Hitler-punching to an extent that only Patriotic Heroes can dream to match.
  • War Hero: An action-adventure stylization of an otherwise normal soldier, such as Blackhawk and the Blackhawk squadron.


Next time: Stats for Hitler, evil aliens, fly-Cthulhu, and more in the Game Master's chapter.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Serperoth posted:

Every WWII tank was a lovely tank compared to Hobart's Funnies.

"lovely" in this context is defined as "the one that didn't include a flamethrower"
I can't argue with that logic. :flame:

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's just a copy-paste of the "trait" mechanic from Pathfinder. I imagine he just uses a different name because he can't use the Pathfinder Compatibility License on products like that.
That's far less disappointing, then. Well, the least disappointing as Fields can manage to be, that is.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Chapter 4: That Hitler you're supposed to punch

Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

While it's important to keep in mind the actual history of the era, its many complexities should not be allowed to get in the way of true Good, pure Evil, and their chosen costumed representatives.
Just as last chapter was meant to introduce the players to what they should and should not do in a "proper" Golden Age campaign, the surprisingly short chapter 4 is meant to do the same for the Game Master. The two things it discusses right off the bat are the concepts of Absolutes balanced with Impermanence. For the Absolutes, the quote I used to start this review out should give you a general idea. Good guys are always Good, bad guys are always Bad, America's military is Always Right, etc. At the same time, the book suggests that you should go for Impermanence if you want a traditional Golden Age experience. This means letting continuity be a little slippery by reusing the same plot or having aliens from Venus be one thing one adventure and then something the complete opposite the next.

The discussion of superpowers and sidekicks are similarly colored very specifically. Heroes prefer to just punch people rather than actively use their powers if they can, while sidekicks are meant to either accentuate the hero or be doofy comic relief. The book seems to be unsure as to what to do about comic relief characters, though. One the one hand, they discuss how comic relief sidekicks and characters were really popular in the Golden Age to draw the attention of kids. On the other, it drones on repeatedly about how stolen slapstick gags and casual racism were the main repertoire of such characters and probably don't work for a modern audience.

If you really, really want to play Watchmen, though, don't feel left out. The book is here for your Alan Moore needs as well. The suggestion is more or less "don't do as we said earlier": swap out the patriotic longjohns for nationalist dicks, have lots of crime and violence, showcase the racism and bigotry of the time, and go get the Iron Age sourcebook.

Supporting Cast Archetypes
Or, as other games like to call them, generic NPCs. Let's take a look at them, shall we?
  • Airman: A generic World War II fighter pilot. He's not exactly a powerhouse of stats by any measure, but he's spammed his character points into Profession (Airman) and Pilot to be somewhat useful if you need a flyboy character in your game.
  • Costumed Sidekick: Very early Bucky or Robin. This is a premade low-cost sidekick NPC for you to use if you want your own mini-me with their own mini-your-gadget that inevitably gets into more trouble than they will help you with.
  • Non-Costumed Sidekick: Pretty much Jimmy Olsen. The brief fluff text says that this archetype is meant to be used as the "nosey girlfriend" or "bumbling man-child". They're even cheaper than a costumed sidekick and somehow even more of a bumbling loser.
  • Soldier: A generic soldier that is meant to have less gadget experience and more raw survivalism compared to the standard soldiers of Mutants and Masterminds.
  • Fifth Columnist: Illinois Nazis. These are meant to either be used as spy set-pieces or as group saboteurs ready to be stopped by a valiant hero.
  • Mechanic: That guy you get to fix stuff.
  • OSS Agent: These stats are meant to reflect a gadget-laden spy of some sort, be they actually from the US Office of Special Services or from some entirely different (and possibly antagonistic) country.
  • Partisan: A resistance movement member, best used in lower-power military campaigns as a valuable insurgent ally.
  • Der Fuhrer :godwin: While having pretty average stats, he's crunched into the min-maxing cookie, putting an overly large amount of points into Intimidate and Perform (Oratory) and buying feats that let him compel people without actually having a high Charisma score. The flavor text also basically says to do whatever you want to the stats presented, from villainous superpowers to having minions and gear beyond what a character of his low Power Level could conceivably buy.
  • Elite Soldier: A soldier with a higher Power Level. Yaaay.
  • Wonder Dog: The third stat block specifically labelled as being used for a sidekick, the Wonder Dog is the springboard for animal sidekicks in general. Sure, it may not be able to talk or manipulate objects, but it's still more likely to help you out of a tight spot than either of the comedy-oriented human sidekick archetypes.

"Ha ha! Questionable art originality."
Villain Archetypes
Like hero archetypes, but with villains.
  • Alien Invader: Giant, telepathic, death ray-toting aliens straight out of the Golden Age-Silver Age time boundary. He went crazy on his point buy, with all of his scores except Dexterity and Charisma being in the 20s, and death rays aren't exactly something to scoff at. I can't really think of any Golden Age examples of this archetype off of the top of my head, given that they are very much a Silver Age thin.
  • Evil Mentalist: The mental giant with more Intelligence and Wisdom points than you can shake a stick at and a repertoire of psychic powers. Wonder Woman had a fair amount of these guys as villains in the Golden Age, including the rather bluntly-named Doctor Psycho.
  • Malevolent Magical Entity: Cthulhu, right down to the archetype art.
  • Master Spy: A Power Level equal to some costumed heroes equals a spy who has a lot of skills and feats.
  • Mob Boss: The archetype Golden Age Batman or Dick Tracy villain. He's not exactly what you'd call high power, but in his ring he's got both clout and a nasty Tommy Gun proficiency.


Next time: The Golden Age in M&M's Freedom City setting.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Selachian posted:

So I take it a lot of the art in this book is swipes/pastiches from original Golden Age comics?

Bieeardo posted:

Mutants and Masterminds has done that a lot.
Yep, it's sort of M&M's "thing" when it comes to art.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Bitchtits McGee posted:

Innocent (D7ACU: The Innocent, Skortched Urf Studios, 2007, but I ain't buyin' that one)
I can help you with that one. Some of Fields' ouvre was in the care package of RPG books you got (along with far better ones such as Frost and Fur) when you donated to the RPG Gamers for Fukushima charity back in 2011.

The Innocent is an advanced class (a 10-level prestige class in D&D terms) said to be the result of children that are whimsically touched by fey, elves, or kitsunes. The character is basically an adult-child that can change their age category at will and learns such class features as magic that cannot be used to kill unless you spend an action point, a de-aging touch attack, and the crafting of clockwork soldiers.

In the hands of someone actually not insane, the idea of a trickster figure coming from a "forever young" idealist could be interesting, but this is Fields.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
All this talk of AD&D makes me wish Wizards of the Coast would release PDF versions faster. They have already started repopulating 3E and AD&D titles into the PDF circuit, but a lot of things I'd personally love to get a hold of such as The Sea Devils are still in the pipes. Of course, I'd really love a release of some of their non-D&D property in PDF form as well, especially Alternity and d20 Modern.

That's quite unrelated to my current review, though, so let's get on track.

Chapter 5: Hitler-Punching in Freedom City
Freedom City is the de facto setting Mutants and Masterminds plays in. I don't have the Freedom City Sourcebook, however, so I'm afraid it's a bit of a SOL situation as far as that field goes. I'll try to deal with the Golden Age Freedom City chapter nonetheless.

In Freedom City's Golden Age, the proliferation of supers goes from occult figures in Germany and Japan to the first costumed fighters in America and then to costumed fighters across the board. The first superhero team, the Liberty League, gets founded in 1941 by Roosevelt himself. The actual events of World War II are pretty much the same as in real life, as are those of the Korean War. The end of the Freedom City Golden Age is marked by the disbanding of the Liberty League and growing fear of a secret invasion by the shapeshifting extraterrestrial Skrulls Grue. After a brief timeline of these events, we immediately get into game statistics for the dramatis personae of Golden Age Freedom City.

The Liberty League
  • Bowman and Arrow: The fellows on the far right and second-to-right of the image, respectively. They are pretty unabashed Green Arrow and Speedy expies, right down to some of the more ridiculous trick arrows they have in their arsenal.
  • Centurion: The squash-faced hero on the far left, Centurion is a Superman analogue that comes from an alternate universe planet of high tech super-Romans.
  • Dr. Tomorrow: This gadget-based rocketeer hero comes from 2002 in an alternate universe where the Nazis took over the world, Conveniently, an evil Nazi from the same alternate future happened to get teleported to the Freedom City universe with him, keeping Dr. Tomorrow from simply just leading the Allies into a swift victory with his future knowledge.
  • Envoy: Creepyface up there is Sarlyn, AKA Envoy, a male Golden Age Amazon analogue. He comes from the wondrous civilization of Utopia Isle and has an orichalcum staff as his unique weapon.
  • Freedom Eagle: Hawkman but with more 'Murica.
  • Johnny Rocket: Golden Age Freedom City's Flash, Johnny Rocket got his powers from being dunked in experimental rocket fuel.
  • Lady Liberty: A character that basically picks up whatever Wonder Woman traits weren't put on Envoy. In addition to having most of the classic Wonder Woman powers, Lady Liberty also loses her powers when in bondage.
  • Midnight: Batman with a darkness-producing "night gun" instead of Batarangs.
  • Patriot: The Captain America analogue for GAFC.
  • Siren: Basically Black Canary with Namor's Atlantean abilities added on.

The Allies of Freedom
  • The Human Tank and Gunner: Brothers and partners in crime, the Human Tank is basically X-Men's Colossus and Gunner has the ability to heal by being shot with bullets or create and shoot bullets back at the enemy. Both of them became Japanophiles as the war ended and then ironically got killed by a Japanese assassin named the Crimson Katana. Wa wa waaaa.
  • Lady Celtic: A British mage who got her spells, flight, and force field powers by touching a mummified druid. Her life kind of sucks, as she was disowned by her fundamentalist Anglican father and eventually got axed by a Thule supervillain while acting as the party healer.
  • Le Renard Rogue: A French freedom fighter who relies on her wits and mastery of disguise rather than any superpowers. Like Lady Celtic, she got axed by the Thule Society's croneys when she was weakened.
  • Sergeant Shrapnel: A soldier whose powers are stalling vehicles and making huge shrapnel explosions. He also died to the Thule, though it's not stated whether or not he died in a really stupid way.
  • Spitfire Jones: A British RAF pilot who attained the powers of flight and super-strength. Got one-shotted by the same Thule supervillain that killed Lady Celtic.
  • White Rose and White Thorn: Twin brother and sister with light powers that act as the token good Germans for the Allied superheroes. Both died as martyrs against the Thule.

Other Allied Heroes
A collection of heroes that either just use archetype stats or were in the Freedom City Sourcebook. The only noteworthy one to me is Codename Kilroy, a character using the Master of Disguise archetype who was known for leaving his eponymous symbol all around the warzones of the world as he traveled.

Die Übersoldaten
Just as the Liberty League is the main All-American Allies squad, Die Übersoldaten is the primary Axis supervillain team.
  • Dr. Geistmann: An evil scientist from the same alternate future as Dr. Tomorrow, Dr. Geistmann happened to get his essence placed into an albino gorilla to let him act as a Nazi version of Gorilla Grodd.
  • Donar: A Nazi version of Marvel's Thor. After the spirit of the thunder god was freed from being bound to a Nazi, Donar was executed by electric chair because everybody loves irony.
  • Die Eule: A crazy Austrian gadgeteer clad in a gliding suit and wielding smoke bombs and boomerangs. He has a bit of "evil Batman" to him, but is one of the more original NPCs in this title.
  • Madame Blitz: A supervillain and part-time romancer of Allies who has electromagnetic powers.
  • Roter Adler: A generic flight-obsessed flying super.
  • Sea Wolf: Definitely the most unique NPC in this title. Sea Wolf is a German warrior who was cursed by a Roma and Atlantean Deep One magic into becoming an amphibious werewolf. He sure is...something.
  • Totenkopf: Totenkopf is a villain that is more or less Red Skull with an added poison aura.
  • Die Walküre A German warrior woman with the power of a valkyrie bound to her. Unsurprisingly, she happened to be the shield maiden and lover of Donar.
  • Schlasbringer: A disturbing supervillain who decided that working in the death camps wasn't enough, and decided to use his toxin resistance and mastery of poisoning to go around spraying chemicals into enemy battalions.
  • Wilhelm Kantor: While possessing no superpowers, Kantor is one of the most dangerous of the Übersoldaten thanks to his massive mental skills and knowledge of the occult. He also wears a gray Klansman outfit, because why not.

The Japanese equivalent of the Übersoldaten. They are less stocked with supervillains than most, as the book states the Nazi occultists weren't really keen on sharing and the magic aura of Japan itself seemed opposed to the Axis.
  • Crimson Katana: The Crimson Katana is a samurai-ninja-mystic with a magic super-strong katana.
  • Geisha: A femme fatale with superhuman Charisma and emotion-affecting pheromones.
  • Irezumi: A Yakuza who has the power to summon beasts from out of his tattoos.
  • Kamikaze: Taking inspiration from the literal meaning of the term, this NPC is more or less an American-hating Japanese version of Storm. She is the only member of the Hinomaru who didn't survive the end of World War II, as she was in Hiroshima when the bombs dropped.

Other Golden Age Villains
This brief list has no actual stats (or either use archetypes or only have stats in the Freedom City Sourcebook), so it's pretty much just a collection of ideas if you don't want to have Japanese or German foes or are on the very early or very late ends of the Golden Age.
  • The Crime League: A rather bluntly-named group that are known as the very first supervillains of the Freedom City setting. Like the Liberty League they fought, they were based out of the USA and had a variety of individuals such as Captain Cold Dr. Zero and Solomon Grundy Tom Cyprus.
  • The Grue Unity: As stated before, the Grue are Gray aliens mixed with Marvel's Skrulls and act as the big bads of the time where the Golden Age lapses into the Cold War. Their shapeshifting agents are supposedly the ones that stirred up the Red Scare and made McCarthy the crazy witch-hunter we know him as.
  • The Invisible Empire: A group of fascists who want to take over America, but aren't directly allied with the Axis forces.
  • The Mycanoids: Giant humanoid mushrooms that spread from planet to planet on the solar winds. They use the Alien Invader archetype from this book and have a colony on Venus.
  • The Widow: An Italian master spy. She uses the Master of Disguise archetype, just like her arch-rival Kilroy.
  • Alien-Gator: A random humanoid alligator that may or may not be an alien and may or may not have died in its only appearance in a fight against Freedom Eagle during 1950. No idea why it's even on the list.

Chapter 6: A Hitler-Void Adventure
The final full and proper chapter of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age is an adventure. Since I'm not really the adventure type, I'll just sum it up briefly as "that adventure where Gorilla Grodd Geistmann hypnotizes the Justice Liberty League into being stereotypical mustache-twirling villains and the players have to break the control".


Next time: We finish off Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age with the Field Battle System Rules appendix and final thoughts.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Evil Mastermind posted:

The "current" Freedom League does have the next-generation versions of Johnny Rocket and Siren. According to the Freedom City sourcebook (the first edition of which is probably the best superhero citybook I've ever read), Dr. Tomorrow vanished three days after VJ Day in 1945, and Centurion died fighting Omega, the setting's Darkseid-equivalent.
Yeah, I forgot to mention it, but there is at least a minor rundown of what happens to Golden Age Freedom City characters in their "future". Most of them consist of either "go see Freedom City Sourcebook" or " :iiam: ", though, so I didn't really take the time to write them down.

The only really noteworthy one is that apparently the second Crimson Katana may have made a new blade out of the Human Tank's corpse. :wtc:

Appendix: Group Fighting
The final bit of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age is the Field Battle Rules. The FBR is a system set up to allow for a handful of heroes to fight entire armies without having so many foes you lose your marbles keeping the tab on hundreds of NPCs. It does this by condensing a whole group of individuals into a single stat block whose power is based on several factors. Unit size ranges from a squad of 10 inividuals to an army of 20,000 to 50,000, providing a "Force modifier" of +3 to +14 depending on size to attack, damage, and Toughness, while the quality of a unit – green, trained, or veteran – has its own specific bonus to the attack, damage, Toughness, Defense, Initiative, and Morale of the unit. It's not the only mass combat rules Green Ronin Publishing has done, but it's probably the most straightforward.

Final Thoughts
Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age in a nutshell: it certainly isn't a bad sourcebook, but it caters to a very specific crowd. It's for the crowd who wants data on the Golden Age or military feats and rules. It's not for someone who wants to do a faux-Golden Age like Watchmen unless they happen to also have Iron Age, it's not for people who want a lot of shiny new powers, and it's definitely not for people who can't take a fair amount of cheese and homages.


Next time: Well, there's a fair amount I want to do sooner and later. D&D in World War II, a myriad of post-apocalyptic settings, Japanese monsters, extraterrestrials, Maztica, maybe something from GURPS, the list goes on and on...

I should probably finish up what I started and do the bestiary for Supernatural: the RPG first, though.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
The fact that Fields is one of the only people still publishing to-purchase d20 Modern supplements on a large scale depresses me far more than it should. :negative:

Somewhat less depressing is that I am going to be finishing up the Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game series with this next readthrough. There was technically a third book published, but it's an adventure book that I don't own and I'll freely admit I kind of hate reviewing adventures anyway.

Introducing the Bestiary
The Guide to the Hunted acts as the bestiary for Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game. In this book, the brief archetypes from the core rulebook and some of the monsters that just weren't covered at all, even a handful that never actually appeared in the show. It also happens to be an "in-voice" book like the core rulebook. Rather than trying to sound like Dean Winchester, however, The Guide to the Hunted is meant to be written by...the Ghostfacers. If you have ever watched the show, you know why this can get really grating at points. For those who haven't watched the show, let's sum it up as "don't let bit part comic relief characters write a sourcebook". I'll be giving a brief note on the folklore (if any) behind the creature, its in-game statistics, and what episode of the show (if any) it appeared in, just as a bit of added flavor beyond minor entries.

Chapter 1: Restless Spirits
Given just how much Supernatural uses the undead, it's pretty unsurprising that the very first chapter of the RPG's bestiary, filling out entries beyond the Spirit and Zombie stats that appeared in the core rulebook.

The Lore: A creature from Inuit mythology, the angiak is a vampiric revenant "born" when an unnamed and unwanted child dies in the cold. The Guide to the Hunted goes farther and states that all mythology of undead children are the angiak, from the Serbian drekavac and Scandinavian myling to undead dumpster babies and the creepy ghost kids in Japanese pop culture.

The Game: The poor angiak has pretty poo poo stats across the board. To be fair, though, it's just a kid, albeit a creepy undead one, so it's not too harsh to give it a low score. The only ace in the hole the angiak has is its Vitality drain attack, which it likes to do when its victims - always either the mother that abandoned it or women that look close enough for its murderous tastes - are asleep.

The Show: The angiak was mentioned in season 1, episode 14: Nightmare, but never actually appeared.

The Lore: Perhaps one of the most famous death omens in history, the banshee is a classic Irish myth. Just what the banshee does varies from tale to tale, though she always causes death either through being an omen or just outright murdering.

The Game: The banshee is a tough customer. She has two forms - that of a beautiful woman, and that of a spectral hag. In the former, she has the Allure character trait and uses her wiles to lure men in with her beautiful song. In the latter, she has the Fugly character trait and can use her keening wail to attempt to scare the man into committing suicide. If scare tactics don't work, she can go straight for spectral claw attacks that do a pretty good chunk of damage.

The Show: Like the angiak, the banshee only got a passing mention in season 1 of the television program. She did, however, get a bit more than the angiak in that she appeared in the Supernatural novel Nevermore.

Bloody Mary
The Lore: The Bloody Mary tale is a pretty drat famous urban legend. Even growing up in a hugely fundamentalist household in the deep south, I heard of her. In the Supernatural universe, the legend is added to by the in-show lore that anyone named Mary who dies under the right circumstances while near a mirror can transform into a Bloody Mary.

The Game: Mary's not quite as statistically powerful as a banshee, but she does have her special attack of eye liquefaction. If you are keeping a secret about an unsolved death, Mary can will your eyes to start gushing blood, dealing d6 Wound damage each time she succeeds. If you aren't keeping such a secret, the best she can do is use her creepiness to scare you off. All in or all out.

The Show: Bloody Mary was the star of season 1, episode 5: Bloody Mary. She also appeared in an episode of the subpar anime adaptation of the show, where she got an extreme power boost and the ability to teleport through any reflective surface, including Sam's corneas.

Buru Buru
The Lore: In Japanese mythology, the buru buru (an onomatopoeia for shivering) is the ghost of a creepy old man that follows you in graveyards and can chill you or cause you to die from fright. In Supernatural, it's pretty similar, being the ghost of a person who died in extreme terror and capable of spreading a disease that causes death by fear.

The Game: Buru buru aren't so much a threat themselves as a means to an end. That end is ghost sickness, a paranormal disease that transmits to any person who is similar in personality to the individual that killed the buru buru in question. An infected individual gets increasingly more and more frightened and paranoid, and after 48 hours gets to start those always popular save-or-die rolls. Sending off the buru buru is the only way to dispel the ghost sickness.

The Show: A buru buru appeared in season 4, episode 6: Yellow Fever.

Ghost Vehicles
The Lore: Ghostly vehicles are something that crops up in various folklore around the world. From ghostly taxis in New Orleans to ghost ships in all of the oceans of the world, it seems that metal is just as prone to undeath as flesh.

The Game: If you couldn't guess, the mental stats of a person get combined with the physical attributes of a vehicle. This means that you've got the vengeful mental fuel of a spirit behind the large and tough-to-down frame of a vehicle. They also tend not to respond to the normal anti-ghost measures of burning their human body or striking them with iron.

The Show: The infamous season 1, episode 13: Route 666 gave us Cyrus Dorian, better known as Racist Truck. It's basically become the biggest butt of a joke for the show, with the episode even being referred to in-universe as "Racist Truck".

Hook Man
The Lore: The Hook Man is an urban legend up there with Bloody Mary in its popularity and influence.

The Game: With decent stats and a very damaging metal hook for a hand, the Hook Man is a tough brawler who uses his Willpower and Unarmed Combat buffs to toss people around like rag dolls.

The Show: Jacob Karns, the "original Hook Man" appeared in season 1, episode 7: Hookman. Indeed, Karns is the model for the stats given in this book. Since the Winchesters killed him, though, I guess the assumption is that other Hook Men copycat ghosts happen to exist as well.

The Lore: The poltergeist - "noisy ghost" - is the bog standard ghost. They are prone to having telekinetic temper tantrums, throwing items around.

The Game: A poltergeist has average stats and not much to go on besides weak spectral claws and telekinesis.

The Show: The Studio 9 ghosts, which The Guide to the Hunted touts as the best example poltergeists, appeared in season 2, episode 18: Hollywood Babylon. One could probably point out an number of non-uniqu ghosts that appear in Spernatural as being poltergeists, though, so it's hard to really give an episode count.

The Lore: Also known as Bloody Bones, Rawhead and Bloody Bones, or Tommy Rawhead, rawheads are unpleasant creatures with raw skin and a taste for children. They live in wet areas such as damp cellars or marl pits.

The Game: The rawhead is very much an introductory spirit. With low to average attribute scores, bite and claw damage that is mild at best, and a weakness to electricity, it's safe to say that rawheads aren't the top dogs of the undead.

The Show: A rawhead briefly appears at the start of season 1, episode 12: Faith, where it is swiftly executed by Dean so the Winchester brothers can get on to the actual plot.

The Lore: Tulpas are though-forms from Tibetan lore, basically an idea made manifest. They become independent from their creator and can range from jovial to murderous depending on just what ideas were implemented in their creation.

The Game: A tulpa is another lower-key spirit at first glance, as it has mostly average attributes besides a slightly above-average Alertness attribute. The real danger comes in the fact that the tulpa gets a pretty strong Spirit trait and whatever skills the believers that created it feel it should, which means it can actually be a bit more dangerous than you'd think.

The Show: The brutal tulpa Mordechai Murdoch was the focus of season 1, episode 17: Hell House.

Water Wraith
The Lore: If it's cold, deep, and dangerous, bodies of water tend to build up a reputation for unsavory spirits that drown peope. The Guide to the Hunted classifies water wraiths as anything from the Russian rusalka to the Japanese kappa, taking many shapes and forms.

The Game: While not exactly strong in attributes, water wraiths are capable of powerful grapples boosted even further by being in water that allow them to attempt to drown opponents. Since this Grapple skill is meant to be directly opposed by an Athletics (Swimming) skill, one can

The Show: A water wraith appeared in season 1, episode 3: Dead in the Water.

The Lore: No connection to real life folklore, as these guys are entirely from the Supernatural-verse. They are ashen ghosts of people you killed that rise at the End of Days, when one of the seals keeping Lucifer held back is broken. I can only assume this means that the game designers figured you might be playing a game set at the exact moment when the seal is broken.

The Game: Fighting witnesses sucks. They have average to above-average attributes, powerful spirit traits, strong fists, stealth, and intimidation out the wazoo. And to make things worse, the only way you can kill them is by performing a ritual that requires very specific rare ingredients and Formidable rank roll of the Intelligence attribute and Knowledge (Religion) skill.

The Show: The rise of the witnesses was the subject of season 4, episode 2: "Are you there, God? It's me, Dean Winchester".

The Ghostfacers
Stats for the Ghostfacers themselves. For some reason the book decides to switch back to Dean-o-speech to mock the Ghostfacers group, presumably to avoid having the Ghostfacers taut themselves as being really cool instead. Their stats don't really matter at all, though it is probably the only example of seeing a stat block in this game that actually has the Video Games skill.

The Ghost-Centric Campaign
The final portion of chapter 1 is a vignette on running a campaign entirely centered around restless spirits. Long story short: lots of history, lots of research, be a very clue-focused campaign runner.


Next time: chapter 2, Angels and Demons.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Zereth posted:

... Ghoul paladins? :raise:
I'm hoping they literally are ghoul Paladins, and not like Antipaladins or Blackguards or something. That would just be the icing on the cake.

EDIT: Well, drat, just Antipaladins.

Chapter 2, part 1: Demons
The denizens of two of the three other dimensions that exist in Supernatural, angels and demons are two sides of an eternal struggle: Heaven versus Hell, creation by God versus corruption of humanity, and cold logic versus twisted passion. Of course, if you're human, neither side is really a good option in the end. Sure, demons like to do horribly twisted things, but angels have a tendency to put on the jackboots with little justification. We'll be covering demons first, as they had a cursory glance given to them in the core rulebook while angels are entirely new to the Guide to the Hunted. A lot of this section consists of "these are demons that the Winchesters killed, but here are their stats anyway just in case you want them to return somehow or feature them in a campaign set in the early seasons" until it gets to the non-unique demon species rather than individuals.

The Lore: In Judaism, Azazel is basically the spiritual garbage man, a demon of the wastes that takes the scapegoat of Passover. In Supernatural, however, his role is much more prominent. He is presented as "the Yellowed-Eyed Demon", a mastermind who managed to kickstart the prelude to the Apocalypse before being felled by the Winchesters.

The Game: Azazel has it all - amazing attribute scores, a powerful Pyrokinesis skill, the highest Telekinesis skill die possible in the game, and high levels of intimidation. Exorcism is the only way to temporarily put him out of commission, and the only way to end him for sure is with one of the major plot weapons of the show.

The Show: Azazel was the primary villain in the myth arc that covered the first two seasons of Supernatural.

The Lore: Alastair is not a real world demon, but presumably draws his name from the real world occultist Aleister Crowley.

The Game: Just like Azazel, Alastair has top percentile attribute scores and the highest Telekinesis possible. He also has an insanely high Interrogation skill, which he combines with his telekinesis for torture sessions. His arrogance and short temper are pretty much his only weaknesses.

The Show: Alastair appeared in four episodes of season 4 as the top torturer and servant of Lilith. He was killed by psychic godmode powers.

The Lore: According to old Hebrew lore, Lilith was the first woman. She was replaced by Eve when she had the :monocle: desire to be equals with Adam, and became a demon of the winds.

The Game: Lilith is the demon for those who think that Azazel just wasn't tough enough. Not only does she have exemplary attributes and highest possible Telekinesis, she also has the highest possible Pyrokinesis. So uniquely high, in fact, that it gives her a special explosive AoE called Pyrokinetic Blast.

The Show: Lilith replaced Azazel as the big myth arc threat for season 3 and 4. Like her lackey Alastair, she was axed by psychic godmode powers as the last step in getting Lucifer walking the earth.

The Lore: Ruby is a demon that is obviously entirely unique to Supernatural. Her job was as the agent and instigator of the plot to raise Lucifer.

The Game: While her attributes are 'merely' above-average, Ruby makes up for it in having high skill with knife combat and acting. She is meant to be more of a subterfuge-oriented challenge than a physical combat one.

The Show: Ruby was a common sight through seasons 3 and 4 of the show before being killed with her own demon-killing knife after her true nature was revealed.

The Lore: Samhain is the name of the great Celtic festival of the final pre-winter harvest, as well as the origin of Halloween. As in many forms of media, Supernatural personified Samhain as a specific entity rather than a holiday: namely, a powerful demon.

The Game: Samhain has low Alertness to mar his otherwise high attribute scores, but he makes up for it by being bloodthirsty and having the highest-tier Telekinesis and decent Unarmed Combat skills one comes to expect from greater demons in this game. He also has the ability to summon other supernatural creatures, which is in and of itself a definite danger sign. On the other hand, wearing even the most simple of masks keeps Samhain from seeing you, which kind of lessens his impact.

The Show: Samhain appeared in season 4, episode 7: "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester". Unlike most of the other demons presented, Samhain could actually be used legally in your campaign, as he was exorcised back to Hell in his one appearance rather than being outright killed.

The Seven Deadly Sins
The Lore: Greed, Lust, Sloth, Wrath, Gluttony, Envy, Pride. Surely you've heard of these guys a few times.

The Game: While somewhat average on most fronts, the Seven Deadly Sins have a whopping d12 Mind Control skill that allows them to force their sinful ways onto humans.

The Show: The Seven Deadly Sins appeared in season 3, episode 1: The Magnificent Seven. Envy, Lust, Sloth, and Wrath were exorcised back to Hell, while the others were killed by Ruby in her first appearance as a way of showing off her fancy demon-killing knife. Given the nature of sin, however, one could presume even killing one of the Seven won't keep them gone forever.

The Lore: Tammi is another Supernatural-original demon. She is a collector of souls lured in by dark sorcery, taking normal people and training them in the ways of demon-fueled black magic.

The Game: Tammi is mostly an average demon, save for high impersonation skills and powerful magic. She also happens to be weak to magic, dark or otherwise, which means the best way to fight her is with a dose of her own medicine.

The Show: Tammi appeared in season 3, episode 9: Malleus Maleficarum. She was killed by Ruby's knife.

The Lore: Yet another demon original to Supernatural, Tom is the son of Azazel.

The Game: Tom is a mostly average demon, but pushes his brawling skills to the top with both skills and traits focused on making things suffer when he gets into a melee fight.

The Show: Tom was featured in the final two episodes of the very first season of the show. He was killed by the magic kills-anything Colt revolver, back when that was actually a thing the show used.

The Lore: The spirit known as the acheri is a bringer of sickness in Indian mythology, said to come down from the Himalayas to spread disease in the lowlands.

The Game: Acheri aren't particularly bright, having the lowest possible Intelligence score and a low Willpower to boot. They make up for this by being very fast, very strong, and capable of doing a lot of damage with their wickedly sharp claws before spreading disease.

The Show: An acheri was summoned during the battle royale of season 2, episode 21: Hell Breaks Loose Part One.

Crossroads Demon
The Lore: Crossroads and bargains with beings from them are common across multiple cultures.

The Game: A crossroads demon has high overall attributes, but has low Telekinesis and no real combat skills to speak of. Instead, all of its skills are high-die social ones, allowing words to do the deed for the demon.

The Show: After being introduced in season 2, episode 8: Crossroad Blues, crossroads demons have appeared in every season since.

The Lore: Daevas are hostile demons from the Zoroastrian religion, not to be confused with the benevolent devas of Hinduism.

The Game: A daeva has amazing physical attributes, which helps them to deal insane amounts of damage with their claws. In addition, they are swift and made of shadows, making them decidedly stealthy. On the other hand, daevas have two obvious weaknesses: light and breaking the altar used to summon them.

The Show: A summoned daeva was the foe of season 1, episode 16: Shadow.

The Lore: Hellhounds are demonic dogs, often with associations to fire or darkness, from British folklore.

The Game: A hellhound has the lowest possible Intelligence die score, obviously, but has average Willpower and high physical attributes. It also has insanely high stealth and combat skills that allow it to sneak up to you and tear you apart with its jaws. It's pretty hard to fight something that's invisible, after all.

The Show: While hellhounds in the show are dispatched by crossroads demons to collect the souls of those damned by crossroads deals, they are surprisingly less prevalent overall. Hellhounds have appeared in nine episodes scattered over seasons 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8.


Next time: the lowdown from those on high with the introduction of angels.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Chapter 2, Part 2: Angels and Other Higher Powers
With season 4 of Supernatural, the angels were revealed in opposition to the demons, and it was with this mostly season 4-oriented sourcebook that the angels were given stats for the Supernatural RPG. On an overall level, angels are rather similar to demons. They possess a human vessel, boosting their physical attributes (Strength and Vitality in particular, Agility less so) and replacing their mental attributes with the angel's own. Rather than dying like mortals or leaving their vessel like demons do, an angel that takes too much wound damage auto-poofs away unless they are hit by a celestial blade, the one weapon that can truly kill them. They also gain their own unique traits that human or other supernatural characters don't have in addition to more standard ones such as Telekinesis:
  • Angelic Wings: Not wings in the literal sense so much as a special type of teleportation skill. The trait can be ranked from d4 to d12, each rank having higher and higher abilities such as transporting into dreams or teleporting others along with the angel.
  • Armor of Faith: Rating from d2 to d12, Armor of Faith effectively gives damage reduction of its die size to the angel. It's bypassed by attacks powered by will or celestial blades.
  • Divine Senses: The angel gets the Clairvoyance, ESP, and Medium traits all for the cost of one trait, but with the penalty of the proper Enochian symbols warding mortals from all three forms of sight.
  • Higher Power: The angel can do magic angel things. Just what the extent of this is varies by die size, from mere "handy coincidences" at d2 to basically being able to do anything possible within the constraints of reality (this being a reality where magic and monsters are real, of course) at d12.
  • Purifying Light: A unique attack against demons and spirits. The trait at d4 is "laying on of hands" to expel such creatures or destroy them on an extraordinary success of a skill check, d6 allows for it to be used as a ranged attack, and d8, d10, and d12 each allows another secondary target to be struck by the attack in addition to the primary one.

As for actual angel stats, they're all of named angels from the show: Anna Milton, Castiel, Uriel, and Zachariah. Suffice to say, three of them are dead, one of them is the Winchesters' best buddy most of the time, and they all have rather similar traits, so I'd say it's not really worth going over their statistics.

For some reason, reapers are included in this chapter as a brief note before one more special angel gets discussed. Long story short, they have the Spirit trait and lack physical attribute scores just like ghosts, and don't really fight so much as wait and take people's souls to the afterlife.

The big fallen archangel himself, Lucifer was the main villain of season 5 of Supernatural before the Winchesters put him back in the Pit. Like the other archangels (for the most part), Luci doesn't get any stats, being more of a frightful force of nature than a presence the players could fight if he somehow managed to get back out of the Pit.

The Heaven vs. Hell Campaign
Like the ghost-centric campaign, the angels and demons-centric campaign is more about learning your enemy than fighting. Sure, some demons might be taken out in action scenes, but it's meant to be played as humans being toys in the middle of a war between two paranormal powerhouses from other planes of existence.


Next time: chapter 3, Gods and Monsters, where things start to get far off the beaten path of established Supernatural foes.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Chapter 3: Gods and Monsters
This chapter is dedicated to basically everything that isn't a spirit or from the Big Upstairs/Downstairs and has the most non-show creatures of any of the chapters as well. The title calls them "cryptids", even though that term has a more specific use than just "monster", but whatever. The chapter also has the gods, which the author explains the reasoning for:

The Guide to the Hunted posted:

Now, you might think that your average pagan forest deity belongs in the same crowd as demons and angels, and you might be right. But in our experience, one man’s god is another man’s immortal cryptid with a narcissistic personality and too much spare time. If it ain’t from Heaven or Hell, some hunters say, then it’s just another bogeyman
Take that, non-Abrahamic theistailures :smug:

In seriousness, though, this does admittedly fit in with the spirit of the show. Supernatural has proved time and time again that if somebody has worshipped it and it's not the Abrahamic god, the Winchesters (or, in the case of the infamous episode Hammer of the Gods, Lucifer) can and will kill it.

Before getting into actual monsters, there are a few new monster-unique traits given, just as the angels got new tricks.
  • Attuned to Nature: The creature in question is insanely good at surviving in the wilderness. A d2 in the trait or higher gives them a bonus to scavenging food and water, d6 or higher adds a bonus to Plot Points spent before making Trait-related rolls, and d12 or higher further ups the creature by making it unable to be lost in the wilderness, always capable of finding any food or water that is around, and the ability to calm hostile wildlife.
  • Enhanced Movement: Various non-human movements, such as brachiation, fish-like swimming, gliding, or flight.
  • Enhanced Sense: Non-human levels of sense, including scent tracking, darkvision, echolocation, or the ability to "feel" the presence of others nearby.
  • Longevity: You multiply human lifespan by the die size of this trait to determine the creature's long lifespan. Having d12 or higher means the creature is more or less an ageless being.
  • Animal Enmity: Animals get nervous or aggressive around this creature for some reason. The trait can be taken in d2, d4, or d6 die, an the size of the Trait die is a penalty to any rolls made to calm or handle animals.
  • Eerie Presence: Like Animal Enmity, but with humans.

The Lore: If you didn't know, fairies in old folklore are complete assholes. One of the many dick moves in their arsenal is replacing a human baby with a changeling, a fairy that looked like the stolen child but had the intellect and often creepy nature of the fairies. In Supernatural, however, they're weird lamprey-faced monsters who abduct children and replace them so they can suck on their parents' precious essences.

The Game: While they have average Strength (or above-average in the case of adult changelings) combined with high Vitality and Alertness, their Agility and Willpower attribute scores are low and their Intelligence attribute is at the abysmal bottom of the barrel. They don't really need to be smart, though, as they have a hefty dose of skill dice put into Covert-Disguise and Influence-Persuasion. They are also incapable of being killed by any type of damage other than fire, even forming into two new changelings if you attempt to bisect one. The only saving grace is that their true forms are revealed in reflective surfaces and killing the adult of a changeling nest gets rid of all of the slimy suckers at once.

The Show: A nest of changelings appeared as the main monsters o season 3, episode 2: The Kids are Alright.

The Lore: El chupacabras, "the sucker of goats" - pretty much always Anglicized as "chupacabra" with no S - is a vampiric monster from Latin folklore since at least 1995, though some have claimed that reports existed even earlier than that. The original reports are of a Gray alien-like figure with spikes running down its back that may or may not have patagia for gliding, while in the good old US of A the legend has mutated to instead have hairless coyote-like canines as the chupa's true form. Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game goes with the former but adds its own twist, stating that all chupacabras are from the de Luyandos, a Puerto Rican family that have been cursed with the chupacabra form after an occultist in their family tried to skimp out on a crossroads demon deal.

The Game: In their cursed form, chupacabras have high Agility, above-average Vitality, Strength, and Alertness, but have lower-than-average Intelligence. Their armored hides and extreme speed and athleticisim make them hard to hit, but they typically try to go right in for the kill anyway. A chupacabra that doesn't feed on blood regularly suffers damage from a rare virulent form of lymphoma that plagues the de Luyando family.

The Show: Chupacabras are mentioned twice in the series - season 2, episode 3: Bloodlust and season 4, episode 6: Yellow Fever - but never actually seen or fought by the Winchesters. This allowed for the RPG creators to go insane with their creative side, at least.

The Lore: The crocotta is a creature from Roman legend, described by everybody's favorite crazy naturalist Pliny as a wolf-dog with teeth that can break through anything and the ability to mimic human voices, and was most likely inspired by hyenas. Supernatural decided to add the ability to take human form just to make them a bit more dangerous.

The Game: In addition to shapeshifting and voice mimicry, the crocotta has the ability of "Psychotelephony", allowing it to speak through telephones and computers, even if they are not plugged in, not on a network, or actually just toys that look like a phon or computer. Its attributes are nothing to write home about, being either average or just above average, but its social skills and aforementioned supernatural powers make it a dangerous foe to those who can't Willpower roll their way out of danger.

The Show: A crocotta was the main villain of season 3, episode 14: Long-Distance Call.

The Lore: Genies, the beings of smokeless fire, who you have probably heard of in at least some capacity. They are somewhat nerfed in Supernatural, going from beings of cosmic power on a level similar to angels and demons to instead being blood-suckin monsters that have a hallucinogenic poison that puts the sufferer into a dream state of their greatest desire.

The Game: Djinn have average Intelligence and above-average...well, everything else. They're also ageless, knowledgeable, and have a decent skill with the old fisticuffs. They pretty much always attempt to get into a grapple to release their poison. Most damage is reduced from Wound to Stun, with the exception of a silver blade dipped in the blood of a lamb.

The Show: Djinn have appeared in four episodes of the show, the first and most memorable appearance being in season 2, episode 20: What Is and What Should Never Be.

The Lore: In Arabic folklore, the ghoul is a vile shapeshifting genie that feasts on the corpses of the dead and the unwary living alike, being capable of taking many forms from hyena to human. The versions in Supernatural have no direct connection to genies and have a very specific form of shapeshifting in the form of taking the guise of the last person they have eaten.

The Game: Ghouls have the attribute scores of the person they impersonate, with the exception of having a supremely high Agility score thanks to their flexible bones and swift reflexes. They also have ESP, a good amount of stealth and personal skills, and fast healing. The only way to put them down for good is to destroy their brain one way or another, which is still easier than most of the rather convoluted ways you have to kill monsters in the Supernatural RPG.

The Show: Ghouls were the main villains of season 4, episode 19: Jump the Shark, and made a brief later appearance in season 6, episode 10: Caged Heat.

Jersey Devil
The Lore: The Jersey Devil is one of those popular pieces of old American folklore, a horrendous demon-like creature that supposedly dwells in the New Jersey pine barrens. Supernatural: the RPG decided to actually tie it to another legend entirely. In this book, the Jersey Devil is deemed to be a manitou, Algonquin spirits of many forms of creation.

The Game: The Jersey devil is kind of dense, having low Intelligence, but makes up for it by having very high physical attributes, traits that let it move fast and take a lot of damage, amazing stealth and survival skills, and brutal claw attacks. It is also pretty much immortal - you can get enough Stun points on it to down it for a while and a member of the Lenape (Delaware) tribe can use an ancient Native American ritual to banish the manitou, but the only way to kill it is by cutting down its Life Points with a special and very hard to make consecrated Lenape weapon.

The Show: The Jersey Devil has never appeared in Supernatural, but was used as a red herring for the actual (and far more stupid) monster of season 7, episode 9: How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters.

The Lore: Mothman was a freakish winged humanoid entity that terrified the residents of Point Pleasant in 1966 and 1967. As with the Jersey Devil, Supernatural: the RPG decided to fuse it with another monster. To be more accurate, with monsters - it declares Mothman to be part of an entire species of interdimensionl winged humanoids that also include the garuda of Hinduism and Buddhism, the harpies of Greece, and the tengu of Japan.

The Game: Mothman and others of its kind have entirely above-average attribute scores, induce fear in animals and humans, have multiple forms of precognitive abilities, can tirelessly fly at nearly 100 miles per hour, and possess rather sharp claws. On the plus side, it doesn't really want to fight so much as get back to its home in the space-between-spaces, but its disorientation from crossing dimensions unwillingly has made it a bit ornery.

The Show: Mothman has never been seen or mentioned in the show, nor have the garuda, harpy, or tengu.

The Lore: Rakshasas are a supernatural warrior race from Hinduism, having man various forms and usually being both magically adept and rather evil.

The Game: Rakshasas have above-average Agility, Vitality, and Willpower combined with a supremely high Intelligence attribute score, making it a swift and clever foe. It also has limited invisibility - that is, it suffers a point of Stun damage every turn it stays invisible, meaning that it must eventually go visible or pass out - as well as claws with a poison that deals 1 point of Stun damage each time it hits a foe. Furthermore, like so many monsters in Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game, the rakshasa does not take Wound damage unless you use a very specific weapon, in this case one made out of brass.

The Show: A rakshasa was the villain of season 2, episode 2: Everybody Loves a Clown.

The Lore: The rugaru, or rougarou, is a Louisiana folktale of a cursed werewolf-like creature with vampiric tendencies and a fear of frogs and church bells. The version from Supernatural is instead a genetic mutation that leads to tremendous hunger for raw meat and a transformation into a raw-skinned cannibal if the rugaru eats human flesh.

The Game: The rugaru has human stats with a +1 die size increase to all attributes except for Intelligence, which instead gets decreased by 3 die sizes. They also have keen senses of smell and strong punches, as well as fast healing that is bypassed by fire. Not the toughest monster in the game by far, but still at least a bit of a challenge for weaker hunters.

The Show: Rugaru appear or are mentioned in five episodes, with their very first appearance and full-on starring role being in season 4, episode 4: Metamorphosis.

The Lore: Good old Bigfoot. Well, sort of. The name of this entry is a red herring, as it's actually about draugr, a form of undead from Norse mythology. Again, sort of. Basically, this entry is about an elemental force animating the fused body of an animal and a human that the book decides to call both draugr and sasquatch for some reason. :iiam:

The Game: The draugr-sasquatch-elemental-thing is not particularly bright, but makes up for it by having Strength and Vitality attribute scores into superhumanly high die sizes. It's also swift, intimidating, and tough, and fire or ripping it apart is pretty much the only way to destroy the body for good. And even when you destroy the body, the elemental spirit that animated it will just hang around for a few decades until it finds a new suitable corpse combo.

The Show: Sasquatch has been mentioned in the show a few times, but always as an example of one of the very few paranormal entities that doesn't exist in Supernatural's lore. I guess that's why the RPG's creators decided to find a very weird way around that.

The Lore: In Greek mythology, sirens were bird-women that lured sailors to their doom with their melodic songs. In the Supernatural universe, they are instead corpse-like creatures with a glamor effect and euphoric mind control saliva.

The Game: The only high attribute score sirens have is Intelligence, the rest being either average or (in the case of Strength) below average. They do, however, have very high social skills and the whole saliva thing. Like many monsters we've seen before, they can convert damage from Wound to Stun unless it's a specific type of damage, the specific type in this case being a bronze dagger that has been coated in the blood of the siren's current love slave.

The Show: A siren was the main antagonist of season 4, episode 14: Sex and Violence.

The Lore: Skinwalkers are from various Native American mythologies, individuals that can take on the form of an animal by wearing its pelt. This is what Supernatural: the RPG treats them as, while when they eventually appeared in the television show they were more or less just werewolves capable of shifting at will and maintaining their reasoning.

The Game: The skinwalker is a human with psychic powers, knowledge of using a paralytic heart-affecting poison called corpse powder, and being able to take on an animal's physical attributes combined with their mental attributes by shapeshifting. They don't have resistance or "Wound to Stun" immunity when it comes to damage, but do have a specific weapon that hurts them even mroe tahn other weapons - anything doused in white ash.

The Show: Skinwalkers appeared in season 6, episode 8: All Dogs go to Heaven. Since this book was written during season 4, though, that was far in the future and doesn't match up. Whoopsie.

Spring-Heeled Jack
The Lore: Spring-heeled Jack is one of several strange springing figures in relatively recent folklore, beings that seem to have a trickster-like nature and the ability to spew fire and leap great distances. In Supernatural: the RPG, it is stated that Spring-Heeled Jack is an item rather than a monster, being a demon-crafted suit that grants its abilities to the wearer at the cost of making them lustful and crazy.

The Game: Wearing the Spring-Heeled Jack suit grants the wearer some damage reduction, amazing leaping powers, silver claws to use in combat, nocturnal vision, and the ability to spew out a six foot trail of blue fire. While the suit itself is indestructible, the person inside isn't, so you can certainly kill the current Jack to get rid of the problem for a while.

The Show: Spring-heeled Jack never appeared in Supernatural.

The Lore: You know what a werewolf is.

The Game: When the full moon brings out the werewolf changes, the human character suffers a -1 die size penalty to Intelligence but gets a buff of +1 to the size of all physical attribute dice and +3 to the size of the die for Alertness. They also have claws and teeth to do a fair amount of damage and spread their lycanthropy and the ever popular "Wound damage becomes Stun damage, so you can't kill it without a specific weapon" trait. As you could probably guess, the way to wound the were is with the tried and true silver weapon.

The Show: Werewolves have been seen twice in the show and mentioned three other times.

The Old Gods
The Lore: Superntural: the RPG classifies gods in three varieties - lesser, greater, and elder. Lesser gods are minor deities from various mythologies, greater gods are pantheonic deities, and elder gods are Cthulhu and other incomprehensible star things from the beginning of time.

The Game: Oddly enough, in spite of mentioning these three types of deities, none of them are s tatted out. Instead, the only stat block in this section is for Trickster spirits. While having stats - pretty high ones at that, with superhuman-size multiple Intelligence dice - Tricksters are more or less nigh omnipotent forces of nature that or meant to be plot points rather than actual foes.

The Show: Lesser and greater gods have appeared in various episodes of Supernatural, all but one of them having been killed. Elder gods have never shown up unless you count the Leviathans from season 6, which I don't. As for Tricksters...yeah, only one of those appeared in the show, and he just turned out to be an archangel playing dressup as an old god, so I'm not sure I'd count it either.

The Cryptid Campaign
It's basically a normal campaign type re-described. Woo, glad they took time to write these paragraphs.


Next time: we have the second to last chapter, dealing with magic and cursed items.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 00:09 on May 3, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Chapter 4: Curses and Magic
Here we are at the last chapter of this book - I thought it was the second-to-last due to the appendices and misremembering, but it is what it is. It's on curses, magical items, and magic itself, as well as a lot of GM plot talk.

Cursed Objects
The segment on cursed objects can be summed up as "this is plot-related, not dice rolling". The entire purposes of the cursed object is to have it drive the plot of that particular adventure, have the heroes deal with the problems it causes, and then either destroy it or seal it away in a magic-dampening curse box. Oh, and if wishes are involved, you have free reign to be a dick:

The Guide to the Hunted posted:

The granter of the wish doesn’t care about the spirit of the desire so much as it does the letter of it. It has no warm and fuzzy feelings for you—you are its entertainment. If you wish to fly, you could get turned into a mosquito. If you wish someone back from the dead, you might get a zombie. Wish up a tasty-delicious sandwich and you’ll find yourself supplicating to the porcelain god for the rest of the night. No matter how much you might attempt to lawyer-up a wish, it will always come back at you. In fact, the more you try and play the game, the worse it usually comes back at you.

The Colt
Missing since season 5 of the show, the Colt was the Winchester brothers' ace in the hole early on in the series. It can kill all but five beings (just what those are is unknown beyond that Lucifer is one of them) in the universe. In game terms, it's a d6 damage pistol that bypasses "Wound to Stun" immunities and has its own 13 special Plot Points used specifically for acts involved in firing it.

Death Visions
Sometimes people get omens or precognitions of death. It's mentioned pretty much purely as a potential plot hook.

Demonic Viruses
Referred to in-universe as "Croatoan" in the several episodes it has appeared in, the demonic virus more or less makes rage zombies. In game terms, the virus simply adds a spare d4 to physical attribute-related rolls, with the mental effects and hive mentality of the rage zombies Croatoans being purely decided by the GM.

Dream Root
Seen twice in the show's history, the African dream root is a plant (a real plant, but sadly one that doesn't have magical powers in real life, just drug powers) that can be made into a potion that allows someone to enter another person's dreams. While meant to be a special plot point, it also has a few specific game rules attached to it. When in the dreamscape, the players get a unique pool of Plot Points they can't use outside of the dreamscape, as well as a unique use of the Discipline skill called Dreamscaping that focuses on manipulating the dream world. Particularly seasoned dream travelers, such as the villain of season 3, episode 10: Dream a Little Dream of Me, get a unique trait called Dreamwalker that further boosts their ability to manipulate dreamscapes. It's established canon that the fantasy world that djinn poison creatures is the same thing as the dreamscape, so GMs could feel free to have fun connecting the dream root and the djinn in the same plot if they so desired.

Ghost Sickness
This was detailed back in chapter 1 with the ghost that causes it, so I have no idea why there are five paragraphs of reiteration about it here.

Nature Curses
Sometimes, nature happens to get really pissed and unleashes its wrath. That or someone lets out a nature-related curse, but who's judging? Either way, nature curses are meant to be the focus of a single localized adventure in the greater story, typically involving swarms. Stats are provided for a swarm of bees, murder of crows, and swarms of animated plants, though the game states that other animals from the Supernatural RPG core rulebook or foul weather could be just as involved in one of these hubbubs.

Cults, Covens, and Corporations
A group of stats of witches, warlocks, evil lawyers, cultists, and others that have sold their souls to the dark powers of Hell to gain power. Non-demonic magicians need not apply.

Grimoires, Tomes, and PDFs
Here's where some actual rituals are presented. If you were expecting rules for full-on magic like some of the particularly powerful witches in Supernatural manage to conjure, sorry, you're still as out of luck as you were with the core rulebook. Instead, we get rules for a handful of specific rituals taken from the show as follows.
  • Generic Summoning Ritual: A generic ritual to summon a demon. Surprising, that.
  • Devil's Trap: A special pentagram sigil that binds demons within its confines. Of course, it's not perfect, as you need to use deception and trickery to actually get a demon into one - after all, they're not going to step on a trap laid out in plain sight.
  • Spirit Binding: A ritual that binds and forcefully manifests a ghost.
  • Hex Bag: A little bag of mojo that ups the die size of a Lore skill check to perform a ritual by one step.
  • Anasazi Ward Against Evil: A ward that keeps monsters away. If you screw it up, you instead create a summoning circle that poofs in a wendigo. Whoops.
  • Blood-Magic Communication: You sacrifice blood into a demonic chalice and then say the magic words to have a special telephone line through the blood directly to the demon.
  • Curse of Honest: This curse forces someone to be completely, brutally honest until the next full moon.
  • Curse of Ill Luck: The cursed target gets the Rotten Luck complication for four days.
  • Curse of Illiteracy: The cursed target is unable to read words as anything but gibberish until the next sunset.
  • Cursed Object Cleansing Ritual: With the power of a cemetery fire and the spice of cayenne pepper, you destroy a cursed object and thus lift its curse.
  • Exorcism Ritual: The classic Latin chant.
  • Holy Water Blessing Ritual: More Latin chanting, this time to transform water into holy water.
  • Home Cleansing Ritual: This ritual startles spirits and draws them to attack, but if you complete it you banish them from a home completely.
  • Sigil from Possession: Whether a tattoo, a temporary drawing, or a special silver pendant, this ritual has created something that allows you to no longer have to worry about being possessed.

Alchemy and Mad Science
This is transmuting metals, creating homunculi, forging golems, and the like. There are no actual examples, though, just the stats of the immortal alchemist Thomas "Doc" Benton. He is a piece of New Hampshire folklore and a classic college scare-dare subject. He appeared in Supernatural for season 3, episode 15: Time is on my Side, where he ended up being buried alive by Sam and Dean since he couldn't be killed by mortal means. Doc Benton has pretty high stats and is definitely a dangerous figure, but he also happens to need fresh organs to function at 100% so he wouldn't be at full steam if someone happened to dig him up.

The Relic Hunters Campaign
Long story short: Indiana Jones, but with more active magic forces. The summary on running such a campaign also includes the statistics for Bela Talbot, an occult item hunter from season 3 of the show.


Next time: The appendices and final thoughts on Supernatural: the RPG.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Okay, it's time for that "and the rest" post.

The Appendices
Appendix I: Creating Monsters
Just in case you wanted the creation rules from the core rulebook restated again. You also get multiple reiterations of "you can file off serial numbers to make one stat block work as something else :v: ".

Appendix II: Sympathy With the Devil
This right here is, hands down, one of the best chapters in Guide to the Hunted. And it's not even a full-fledged chapter, just ana appendix! For all of its moral black and white moments concerning humanity vs. "monsters", Supernatural the show does sometimes dip into the idea that, shock-horror, supernatural beings are not always bad. While it doesn't really provide any new rules and is often pretty obvious, the allowance of actually playing a werewolf, vampire, or other changed human allows for another layer of Hunting. Besides, the Winchesters have been more than willing to allow paranormal entities into their team if it benefits them, so why shouldn't you?

Final Thoughts
As I said before, I don't own nor would I want to review the book of sample adventures for Supernatural: The Roleplaying Game, which means we're at the end of this road. This brings us back to the question I posed when I started going over these books: is Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game one that died before its time?

Not really, no.

Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game covered only the first four seasons of the show, with some elements of the fifth being hinted at, and that's probably a good place for them to have stopped. Season 5 was a huge turning point for Supernatural that seemed like it could have been the series finale, and seasons 6 and 7 are hard to view as not being lurching zombies in a way, even if season 8 has started to get back into form. That and Supernatural isn't a series that really lends itself to a ton of sourcebooks, especially in a somewhat abstract light rules system like Cortex. This doesn't explain why Margaret Weis Productions let the Supernatural and Marvel Comics licenses wane but is remaking their Firefly/Serenity RPG of all things, admittedly, but it's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Next time: It's time for a new review series. Be prepared for war. A world war, in fact. A world war involving Dungeons and Dragons rules and the occult.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Tatum Girlparts posted:

Also, AEG had a ton of books that were basically {ONE WORD CONCEPT} and if I'm remembering rightly they all sucked terribly.
I'd say the rule of thumb is that most of them suck but have at least a few ideas that are good. Still, overall, I'd have to agree. None of the AEG "one word title" books have ever had their full package scream out to me like sourcebooks from, say, Green Ronin or Monkey God Enterprises.

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons 3E material, though, let's talk about...

From the same people who brought you Deadlands d20 came Weird War II. Coming out of that turn of the millennium d20 system boom, Weird War II was another product like Broncosaurus Rex that made the effort to push the Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 rules into a more modern setting before Wizards of the Coast even started thinking about d20 Modern. Thankfully, we won't have any Confederate heroes and Union villains this time, just good old-fashioned Nazi punching.

Of course, if you couldn't guess from the name Weird War II, this is the big war with a twist. Those Nazi occultists you heard about? They have real magic, forged out of either blood rites or Germanic runes. They also have undead soldiers, mad science-produced abominations, automatons, and apes with human brains. Furthermore, the Japanese have oni marching alongside their soldiers, the Allies have spirits of battle aiding them against the occult powers of the Axis, haunted vehicles are trundling around the battlefields, and things from old mythology are stirring and none too happy about all of the stupid humans waging their country wars without respect for the peace of the old beings. It's a paranormal mess, and you play a military member or resistance fighter caught smack-dab in the middle of it.

I'm going to be covering all of the books from the D&D 3.0 era of Weird War II, but don't expect any really set order to stick. I'll be obviously doing the core book, Blood on the Rhine, first, but after that it's a crapshoot. I'd say that second will probably be the bestiary Horrors of Weird War II and then the third will be the Russian sourcebook Hell Freezes Over, but after that I'll probably just move on a whim.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 00:48 on May 18, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 1: In the dark past of 1944, there is only WAR
Chapter 1
The very first chapter of the core rulebook Weird War II: Blood on the Rhine isn't really weird, but it certainly is very war. Two World Wars, in fact, as it goes over the real world history of World War I, its effects on Germany, and World War II. Obviously you either know this from history class or could just Wikipedia it up, and there's only one "What If?" sidebar in this chapter discussing the possibility of an alternate universe where the Battle of Britain was lost and Germany managed to steamroll the seas during Operation Sea Lion, so we'll head to the next chapter.

Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Characters begins with a short overview of just who you are playing. Big surprise, you are playing humans in World War II.

World War II: Blood on the Rhine posted:

Let’s start with which side you’re on - the Allies. The Axis are the bad guys. The view of this game and its authors is that Hitler and the Nazis were evil. Individual soldiers (outside of the SS) and civilians are somewhat compelled to follow them. See the sidebar on page 45 for a longer discussion on this game’s take on Germans and Nazis.

The Allies are the heroes of this war. There are certainly examples of Allied war criminals and atrocities, and in the annals of the Weird Wars,there are certainly some American, English, Polish, and Russian villains to be encountered and defeated by stalwart heroes.

This doesn’t mean a War Master can’t run a German campaign. The classes included here work for any nationality. Just beware. Being the pawns of pure evil isn’t a lot of fun. We leave this part of the game to you and your game group’s collective conscience.

"We're not saying you can't run a Nazi campaign, man, just it's not blood on our hands."

So, since everybody's human, that pretty much leaves character class as the big defining difference between party members. There are a grand total of five base classes presented in the core rules for Weird War II, as follows:
  • Grunt: Congratulations, you're a Fighter with a gun. You get bonus feats, full Base Attack Bonus progression, and...that's pretty much it. Like I said, you are quite literally a Fighter with a gun.
  • Officer: Congratulations, you're a Fighter with a gun, slightly different bonus feats to choose, and a high Will save rather than high Fortitude save. So exciting. :v:
  • Medic: While you don't have a full Base Attack Bonus like the Grunt or Officer, you get high rate of progression for both your Fortitude and your Will saves, and you also get class features related to healing at every other level. You also happen to be immune to fear effects, which is certainly helpful in a game with lots of horror-themed monsters.
  • Resistance Fighter: The Resistance Fighter kind of sucks, to be blunt. High Reflex saves and +1d6 sneak attack damage every six levels, which means that by 20th level you will have a grand +4d6 compared to a 20th level Rogue's +10d6, and with none of the Rogue's trap sense of special abilities either. You also have uncanny dodge and some field contacts that allow you to get hold of a weapon, German uniform for spying, some backup from a local resistance cell, or the location of a safehouse, but you can only use a contact once a week while in your home country.
  • Scout: You want to play a Scout? Well then, congrats, you have picked the class slightly less useless than the Resistance Fighter! The Scout gets sneak attack too, but at a rate that ends with slightly more (+5d6), and also gets the uncanny dodge ability. On top of that, he also inherits some of the Ranger's nature-related class features.
There are also some characters that get access to the D&D classes Barbarian and Sorcerer. Don't expect to actually glean that from the section on classes, though, as I only figured that out through unrelated text.

After that, there's a section on ranks in the US, UK, and German militaries, some rules on just what POWs can and cannot do based on the rules set down at the Hague in 1907, and statements on how you are pretty much forced into a special division if you want to play a female, black, or Japanese-American character. Thankfully, there's a special organization called the Office for Supernatural Inquiry that is progressive and lets everyone in to fight and learn, which means that the segregated military isn't relevant unless your Game Master "War Master" wants to be either a stickler for history or a jackass.

The final part of chapter 2 deals with the command structure of the Allies and the Nazis, as well as the French Resistance. It is more historical information you probably know, but is also noteworthy for having an actual photo of desiccated corpses being dumped out of a death camp. I can't say I was expecting that in my D&D game about fighting Nazi zombies. :stonk:


Next time: skills, feats, and equipment.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 00:48 on May 18, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
I'm going to add to the vote for Cradle and Crescent. Ars Magica seems to have writers that can manage to pull off a sourcebook on Islam without having an off-day White Wolf-style faceplant.

EDIT: Oh hey, it won without my help. Yay for writing a post while events happen.

Speaking of White Wolf, the following post has absolutely nothing to do with them, so this segue is pointless.

Weird War II Core Rules review, Part 2: Language
Chapter 3: Skills and Feats
Being a setting meant to take Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 into the world of the 1930s and 1940s, it shouldn't really be surprising that there are new skill and feat rules that need to be added on. This starts with a list of some changes to classic D&D skills. First off are restrictions - that is, some skills you can't even take cross-class ranks in, they are locked to a specific class and you just have to deal with it. Alchemy, Scry, and Use Magic Item can only be used by characters with the OSI Adept prestige class (prestige classes won't be seen until chapter 6), Knowledge (Arcana) can only be taken by individuals affiliated with the Office for Supernatural Inquiry, and Decipher Script requires either the OSI Adept prestige class or OSI Operative prestige class (because god forbid the Resistance Fighter base class or the like get the ability to decode things). Second are new Knowledge skill subtypes, namely Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Geology, Mathematics, Meteorology, Military, and Physics. And thirdly, there is the altered Speak Language. Oh my...

If you know your d20 system, Speak Language is usually a simple "take a rank (or two if it's a cross-class skill) to know how to speak a language". Weird War II instead has Speak Language have ranks like other skills. One rank gives you just a smattering of words in the language, two ranks lets you make simplistic sentences, three ranks lets you speak most average sentences, four ranks lets you speak with accented inflections, five ranks lets you speak the basic language flawlessly, and six ranks lets you mime specific regional accents and dialects of the language. You automatically get five ranks in your native language. Even better, if you have less than five ranks in a language, you have to make Speak Language checks to get your speech right. And speaking very slowly lets the guy you're speaking to make a Listen check that gives you a bonus to your Speak Language check if you succeed.

As for completely new skills, they are as follows.
  • Artillery: Instead of just making an attack roll, you instead make a check with this skill to hit with mortars and indirect fire weapons.
  • Combat Medicine: It's the Heal skill, only restricted to the Medic base class. Sorry if you thought you could take cross-class skill ranks in this to actually make yourself useful at something as critical as field dressing, Resistance Fighter!
  • Demolitions: The skill to either set explosives, disarm them, or guess how much of them you happen to need for a situation.
  • Driving: Self-explanatory.
  • Leadership: A skill specifically made for the Command feat (we'll get to that in a moment) and its effects.
  • Mechanics: The Weird War II name for a Repair-style skill.
  • Navigation: Reading a map or traveling by the stars.
  • Prayer: A check with this skill is made any time an OSI Chaplain wants to have a miracle happen. This won't be relevant until we get to the OSI Chaplain and other prestige classes in Chapter 6, so don't sweat trying to figure it out.

You may be wondering where the Pilot skill is to offset the Driving skill - it's World War Ii, after all. Well, you will have to wait for the Weird War II sourcebook Dead From Above for that. :v:

Most of the feats are for proficiency in some sort of transport or weapon - Automatic Weapons Proficiency (submachine guns and automatic rifles), Firearms Proficiency, Flamethrower Proficiency, Gunnery Proficiency (artillery and vehicle-mounted weapons) Gyrostabilizer (you can't read the readouts of a tank's gyrostabilizers without it), Mortar Proficiency, Parachute Proficiency, Rocket Launcher Proficiency, Tracked Vehicle Proficiency, and Wheeled Vehicle Proficiency. What few other feats there are range from wasteful such as Eagle-Eyed (you get a +2 bonus to Listen and Spot checks...but only at 100 yards away or further. Why not just take Alertness for the same bonus at no range limit?) to actually somewhat useful ones such as Command (if you succeed on a Leadership roll, you can grant the soldiers under your command your Initiative modifier -1 rather than their own Initiative modifier, letting them all move together at a rate potentially higher than their foes).

We'll be going over equipment rather quickly, as most of the actual rules for new types of weapon combat and vehicles don't appear until next chapter.
  • Pistols: Statistics are provided for the Browning HP, Colit M1911A1, Engielf N2 Mk1, Liberator M1942, M1917, Luger, civilian revolver, Walther PPK, Walther P38, and Webley Mk4 pistols. All deal 2d6 damage, some of them with a plus or minus of 1 or 2 to damage. Unlike Wizards of the Coast's d20 Modern firearms, which created a new special type of damage called Ballistic, firearms in Weird War II deal Piercing damage.
  • Submachine Guns: Stats are provided for the M1 Thompson, M3 Greasegun, MP35, MP40, and Sten. All do 2d6 damage, with the M1 Thompson and M3 Greasegun having a +2 bonus to their damage rolls.
  • Shotguns: The shotguns given are more generic than the other weapons: the single barrel, double barrel, sawed-off single barrel, and sawed-off double barrel. In spite of being simplistic in their names, they are so :psyduck: in rules and variable damage dice that we will just wait until the combat chapter to get into that quagmire.
  • Rifles: Stats are given for the De Lisle carbine, Gewehr 43, KAR-98K, M1, M1 Carbine, M1903A3, M1903A4, N.4 Lee-Enfield, and civilian rifle. The De Lisle carbine deals 2d6+2 damage, while all the others deal 2d8.
  • Machine Guns: You get the Sturmgewehr 44, BAR, Bren gun, M1919A4, M1919A6, M2, MG34, MG42, and Vickers guns. The Sturmgewehr 44 deals 2d8-1 and the M2 deals 2d10 damage, while the rest deal 2d8.
  • Hand Grenades and Explosives Lots of things that go boom, with the AN-M9, Bangalore torpedo, stick of dynamite, Geballte Ladung, N.23 MkII, M9A1 rifle grenade, MkII Pineapple grenade, Molotov cocktail, Panzerwurfmin, plastic explosive, small satchel charge, large satchel charge, Schiessbecher AT, Schiessbecher HE, Stielhandgranate 24, Stielhandgranate 24 with spliterringe, smoke bomb, and a charge of TNT. These are probably the most widely varying weapons, ranging from non-damaging smoke with the AN-M8 and smoke bomb and 4d6 with a stick of dynamite to a brutal 10d10 for a large satchel charge.
  • Rocket Launchers: We get the bazooka, Panzerschreck, Panzerfaust 30, Panzerfaust 60, and PIAT. They range from 5d8 to 7d8 in damage, but the oddest thing is the type of damage they deal: a mixture of piercing and fire. I dunno if I'd really classify rocket launchers as fiery, but whatever.
  • Flamethrowers: The Flammenwerfer, MkI flamethrower, and Lifebuoy all deal 4d10 fire damage but vary by rane and weight.
  • Melee Weapons: If you need something more blunt and don't happen to have more archaic weapons, stats are provided for a rifle butt strike, bayonet, entrenching tool, and garrote.
  • Antitank Guns and Antiaircraft Gun I'm not even going to try to list these, as the table around them becomes a huge clusterfuck.
  • Landmines: These are the antipersonnel mine, antitank mine, and S-Mine 44. Why they weren't listed back in the section on grenades and explosives is beyond me.
  • Mortars: The 2-inch mortar, 3-inch mortal, 60mm mortar, 81mm mortar, Granatewerfer 34, and Granatewerfer 36 are provided for those who want to make things blow up. They have a burst radius and deal piercing/fire damage like rocket launchers.
  • Equipment: For non-weapons, equipment varies from medical kits and survival kits to rations and canteens. They are all equally mundane. Oddly enough, the only three pieces of armor - the flak jacket, steel helmet, and tanker helmet - are placed here, and only have a weight and Armor Class bonus rather than any of the further marks that are usually used for D&D armor.
  • Vehicles: Some trucks and tanks from Germany, the UK, and the USA. Wee.


Next time: the combat rules and prestige classes chapters, wherein shotgun enthusiasts will probably cry.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 00:49 on May 18, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
I do believe I heard a call for supernatural creatures in World War II gear.

Part 3: Shooting, Saints, and Spies
Chapter 5: Combat
Are you ready for a primitive attempt at firearms rules for Dungeons and Dragons 3.0? I hope you are, because that's what you're getting. So, let's start with a quick rundown of new combat rules related to guns.
  • Automatic Fire: Automatic weapons in Weird War II work by having a bonus from particularly successful attacks. An attack roll that beats the enemy's Armor Class by 5 points gets to roll its damage twice, while one that beats the AC by 10 points gets to roll for damage three times, reflecting multiple bullets from the automatic weapon pelting into the same target.
  • Bracing: If you fire a machine gun or automatic rifle from the hip or while moving at faster than a slow 5 ft. square walk, you suffer a -4 penalty to your attack roll. An action movie star you aren't.
  • Misfire: You rolled a 1. Not only do the dice gods hate you, but you get to roll a 1d6 to see whether you shoot someone randomly on a 1, drop your weapon like a dumbass on a 2, or have to take a move action and Dexterity check to clear a gun jam on a 3 to 6.
  • Reloading: Takes a full round action to reload 1d4 + Dexterity modifier number of bullets into an internal magazine, move action to rip a clip, and then a belt-fed weapon reload is either full round for one person or move action for two.
  • Stray Bullets: If you fail an attack roll on someone with people within 5 feet of them, you get to roll a d6 for each of those people until you either get a 1 and thus shoot someone or run out of targets to roll for. Again, an action movie star you aren't.
  • Suppressive Fire: You can spend 10 bullets to make a full round action of sweeping a designated 20 foot-radius area with your firearm. Anyone in that area who isn't in total cover has to make a DC 15 Will save or lose their action for the round, and they take damage from your gunfire if they manage to be unlucky enough to roll a 1.

Then there are shotguns. Oh, shotguns. They are weapons that look at the normal ranged weapon combat rules and go "I'm making my OWN path!" Rather than suffering penalties to attack rolls based on increasing range increments, shotguns instead do something entirely unique. Namely, for each range increment past the first, they gain a cumulative +2 bonus to attack rolls up to a maximum of +6. At the same time, however, they lose entire damage dice as they travel. You need to shoot a target point blank to get the full 4d6 damage of Weird War II shotguns - a single range increment lowers it to 3d6, two range increments to 2d6, and three to 1d6. Because apparently just having something like exchanging attack roll bonus for damage roll penalty would have been too easy and not enough to screw over everybody's favorite chew toy. That's right, the Resistance Fighter class is stated to be pretty much the only character type that uses shotguns. :shepicide:

The rest of the material is a bit less noteworthy. Flamethrowers are sort of like breath weapons, grenades are sort of like acid splash damage, smoke grants concealment, the concept of action points "Bennies" is briefly mentioned as points arbitrarily given by the War Master as rewards to be spent on rerolls, and artillery uses an Artillery skill check instead of an attack roll to attack.

Vehicles are also mentioned, and they are pretty much mindless mounts with a special [s[Hardness[/s] Armor (not to be confused with Armor Class). You have to make a Driving check any time the vehicle's Armor rating is bypassed by damage, if there's hazardous terrain, or you want to do a fancy stunt driving maneuver.

A lot of the imagery in Weird War II is actual photography from World War II. Here's what it looks like when it isn't.
Chapter 6: Prestige Classes
There are five 10-level prestige classes unique to Weird War II's core rulebook, just like there are five base classes. It's a coincidence, but an amusing one to note.
  • Commando: The prestige class to make a Grunt who is better at being a resistance fighter than the Resistance Fighter. You get full Base Attack Bonus progression, high Fortitude and Will save progression sneak attack up to +4d6, bonus feats at every other even-numbered level, and the feats Endurance and Improved Unarmed Strike for free.
  • Sniper: As anyone who plays Team Fortress 2 knows, Snipers can be on-shotting assholes. This class is no different. With a full Base Attack Bonus progression and class features that grant a long range coup de grace headshot, a special crippling shot to deal either Dexterity or Strength damage rather than Hit Point loss, and an ability that forces anyone who sees a headshot or crippling shot to make a DC 25 Will save or suffer a -4 morale penalty to any roll for 24 hours. You don't gently caress with snipers.
  • OSI Agent: The Allies' equivalent of Nazi rune mages, the OSI Agent prestige class has a high Will save progression, the ability to create magic runes, and...that's it, really. Runes will be actually covered when we hit the chapter on magic.
  • OSI Chaplain: Like the OSI Agent, the OSI Chaplain is a one trick pony. That trick is being able to make use of the Chaplain-unique Prayer skill. Make a Prayer check and succeed, Jesus or whoever you happen to worship is in a good mood and he lets you do miracles (it's divine magic, right up to spells miracles per day). A Chaplain can also turn undead. If the chaplain commits a sin, they lose their ability to call on miracles for 1d6 hours if it's a little sin, 2d6 days if it's a big sin, or until an atonement quest for murder or another top-tier sin. The game doesn't actually really explain what sins count for what rank in any religion other than Christianity, so it's pretty much up to the War Master.
  • OSI Operative: The OSI Operative is an assassin, more or less. The class has high Reflex and Will save progression as well as high (but not full) Base Attack Bonus Progression, gets sneak attack bonuses up to +4d6, free full ranks in three different languages chosen from a specific pool of Allied and Axis languages, free Exotic Weapon Proficiency with the garrote, and a literal license to kill civilians and allied soldiers if there's a supernatural threat involved.


Next time: Magic and haunted vehicles.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 4: The Return of Ghost Tank
Chapter 7: Magic
If you somehow couldn't guess from last chapter's prestige classes and the fact that this is an occult war setting, Weird War II does indeed have magic. As with its source material, Weird War II's magic is divided into the arcane and the divine (retooled as miracles and rune magic) - unlike standard D&D 3.0, however, both have a few catches. We'll cover miracles first, as they are covered first in the chapter.

A miracle is the form of divine magic utilized by Chaplains. While the spells are pretty much the same as those cast by a D&D Cleric, they only go up to 5th level total and are cast in a different manner. The Chaplain doesn't need a holy symbol, but instead must make a loud proclamation to his deity over the course of the time it takes to cast the spell, then make a check with the unique Prayer skill at a DC of 15 + twice the spell's level. If the check succeeds, the spell is cast, while a failed check means God's got you on the answering machine line and you're out of luck. Furthermore, successfully invoking a miracle or botching a Prayer roll with a natural 1 fatigues the Chaplain's body, dealing nonlethal damage equal to 3 times the spell's level (1 for a 0-level spell, as they aren't left out).

As for arcane magic, it takes the form of rune magic, based on old Germanic and Norse runes. Both Allied Adepts and Nazi Blood Mages harness the power of runes to fuel their ancient and dangerous form of magic. To cast a spell with run magic, you must have studied and understand the specific runes tied to a specific spell. The casting and fatigue is pretty much on the same rate as miracles, but replacing the Prayer skill with the Spellcraft skill and invoking the meaning and inscription of the rune rather than performing prayer. You can choose to skimp out on either the talking or the rune carving part of the spell, but doing so increases the Spellcraft DC by 10. Runes can be carved straightforward or made into a dark "merkstave" rune to perform darker or opposed facets of the rune. The specific runes are as follows.
  • Fehu: Fehu, the cow rune, is associated with the goddess Freya, the dwarves, material wealth, and fire. It is a rune of material possessions, bounty, and creation, while its reversed or merkstave form is that of poverty and loss, failure, greed, atrophy, cowardice, and bondage.
  • Uruz: Uruz, the aurochs rune, is the rune of the earth and the powerful triad of Odin, Thor, and Loki. It is a rune of physicality, being associated with strength, speed, and good health or made merkstave into weakness, impulsiveness, and disease.
  • Thurisaz: Thurisaz, the giant rune, is a rune of Loki and the giants. Its nature is that of cleansing through fire, purposeful destruction, and strife, while its merkstave is that of helplessness, compulsiveness, and evil thoughts.
  • Ansuz: Ansuz, the rune of Odin, is unsurprisingly associated with Odin. It brings with it insight, wisdom, visions, and compelling oratory, while its merkstave is that of delusion, confusion, and manipulation.
  • Raidho: Raidho, the wagon rune, is associated with both Thor and the Norse people as a whole. Its meaning is that of travel and progression of the journey of life, while its merkstave is stagnation and death.
  • Kenaz: Kenaz, the beacon rune, is tied to Freya, Heimdall, the dwarves, and the fire giants of Muspelheimr. It is a symbol of transformation and light, while its merkstave is the taint of disease and uncontrolled instability from chaos.
  • Gebo: Gebo, the gift rune, is used as a mark for the folk heroes Sigurd and the valkyrie Brunhild, as well as Odin himself. To invoke gebo is to bring gifts and ties of relationship, while its merkstave manifests greed, solitude, and ties merely of obligation.
  • Wunjo: Wunjo, the rune of glory, is associated with the divine realm of Asgard and to the gods Baldr and Odin in particular. Its purpose is for joy, fellowship, and peace, while its merkstave brings discord, sorrow, and the rage of the legendary berserkers.
  • Hagalaz: Hagalaz, the hail rune, is tied to Ragnarok and its instigators, as well as to Hel and her cold realm. It is a rune of weather in its unchanged state, while its merkstave embodies natural disaster, suffering, and the hollowness of loss.
  • Nauthiz: Nauthiz, the rune of need, is typically associated with Freya and Skuld. Its meaning is of endurance, overcoming conflict or restriction, and survival in general, while its merkstave stands for slavery and base desires such as hunger and the need for shelter.
  • Isa: Isa, the ice rune, is associated with the frost giants and the kingdom of Niflheimr. It is a rune of challenges and steadfastness, while its merkstave enforces blindness and illusion, deceitfulness and treachery, and stealth.
  • Jera: Jera, the harvest rune, is tied to Freya, Sif, and Thor. It is the rune of peaceful times, and its merkstave manifests setbacks and ill-timed events.
  • Eihwaz: Eihwaz, the yew rune, is associated with the world-tree Yggdrasil and both sides of life with Hel and Odin. Protection, reliability, and strength are the marks of this rune, while its merkstave harkens acts of confusion and weakness.
  • Perthro: Perthro, the dice rune, is associated directly with Freya and Freya alone. Her rune focuses on uncertainties, hidden knowledge, and prophecy, while its merkstave reflects addiction or ignorant stagnation.
  • Algiz: The rune of protection, Algiz is tied to Heimdall and the ranks of the valkyries. Its symbology is warding of the body and the soul, while its merkstave is unseen danger and removal of magic.
  • Sowilo: Sowilo, the sun rune, is associated with Baldr and the German goddess Sunna that gives our bright orb its name. It is a rune of vitality and success, while its merkstave is justice and revenge.
  • Teiwaz: Teiwaz, the rune of Tyr, is associated with its namesake god. Honor and victory in battle is its forte, while the merkstave of the rune reflects failure and missteps in speech.
  • Berkana: Berkana, the birch rune, is associated with Berchta, Frigg, and Idunna. It is a rune of fertility and growth, and its merkstave is one of lack of control or carelessness.
  • Ehwaz: Ehwaz, the horse rune, is associated with Freya and the magical horse Sleipnir. It is the rune of change, loyalty, and movement, while its merkstave is one of deception and betrayal.
  • Mannaz: Mannaz, the rune of humanity, is tied to Midgard. It is a rune of human intelligence and self-awareness, while its merkstave is that of manipulation and loss of senses.
  • Laguz: Laguz, the water rune, is associated with Njord and Jormundgandr. It is the rune of water, dreams, and the unknown, and its merkstave reflects confusion and madness.
  • Ingwaz: Ingwaz, the earth rune, is one of the gods Freya, Nerthus, and Thor. It is tied to the home and male fertility, while its merkstave is impotence and pointless nomadry.
  • Dagaz: Dagaz, the day rune, is tied to Baldr, Heimdall, and Sunna. Its meaning is one of clarity and neutrality, while its merkstave signals the end or completion of something.
  • Othala: Othala, the property rune, is associated with all-seeing Odin and the nine worlds that sit upon Yggdrasil. It is a rune of inheritance, order, and prosperity, while its merkstave is of poverty, slavery, and ill will.

So, just what do all these runes actually mean in practice? The 0- through 5th level spells the Adept or Blood Mage attains are the same as a Wizard or Sorcerer, but are tied to specific runes, the number of runes increasing with complexity. For instance, while casting the spell light only requires calling upon the power of Kenaz, casting wall of iron requires the combined runic symbology of Algiz, Othala, and Teiwaz.

Chapter 8: Haunted Vehicles
For some reason, this gets its own chapter rather than being part of the bestiary chapter later on. A haunted vehicle is basically sort of like a class that can be taken by a vehicle that has gained intelligence from a ghost that haunts it. Each level allows the hanted vehicle to pick up a special power that can vary from damage or spell resistance up to becoming invisible or raising the dead. By paying experience points, a player group can have a haunted vehicle (or even a small squad of haunted vehicles if you are willing to pay the hefty price) as a companion NPC for their group.


Next time: we get to the thickest chapter in the book, the gamemaster's section! Oh, and there's a small bestiary-before-the-bestiary-book too.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

wdarkk posted:

Can you make a haunted B-17 that's virtually impossible to permanently destroy?
While you'd need to get Death From Above, the aircraft sourcebook, to have the B-17, you very well could. If you leveled it up to Haunted Vehicle level 9 out of 10, you could have full ranks in all three of its anti-destruction capabilities, giving it damage reduction 30/+3, spell resistance 20, and the ability to heal 1d20 points of damage to itself every minute.

I doubt any sane GM would allow it, but it would be glorious.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

wdarkk posted:

Out of curiosity how much HP would it have at that point and how much damage would a maximum-velocity crash deal?
A B17 is stated to have 200 HP, and a crash is stated to deal 20d6 damage. That's a max of 120 HP or average of 60 down from the crash, but the theoretical haunted B-17 bomber would live to take a few minutes healing back up.

Bieeardo posted:

How about a B-17 that turns dead occupants into flesh-eating zombies?
Sadly, not without GM fiat.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 5: The Rest of the Core Rulebook

Chapter 9: Officer's Country
AKA the Game Mastering chapter. The majority of this chapter deals with either the Allies or the Germans - just as aircraft aren't really covered until the sourcebook Death From Above, other Axis forces are only really expanded upon in Africa Korpse (the Italians) and Land of the Rising Dead (the Japanese). Still, it does finally give us a look into the weird part of Weird War II, so I can't really fault it too hard.

Up first are the origins of the whole magic conflict. While an evil-hunting secret society known as the Sons of Solomon have been trundling around for a while now, the first big discovery of magic for modern warfare was in 1936, when the Nazis dug up an ancient Germanic guide to rune magic. They used this knowledge to create the blood mages (who use a class called Adept, which is just the D&D Sorcerer plus rune requirement). Blood mages aren't exactly prolific, being only found in the highest eschelons of the Gestapo and SS as well as Hitler's personal entourage. Members of the Sons of Solomon aiding the Allied cause found out about Hitler's growing occult armies, said "gently caress that" to the idea, and started the Office of Supernatural Investigations in 1940. The OSI's job is to eliminate both supernatural threats created by the Axis and those that have been woken up from their long slumber by all the death and chaos around them.

After introducing the big Nazi and Allied occult players, there's discussion of general gameplay. Most of the new GMing rules and tips are what you'd expect from an occult horror war game: Will saves to avoid becoming shaken with fear, medals for rank, shpiel about how a haunted vehicle should be a character for the players to interact with and not just a fancy magic item they have, and the question of what happens when the Soviet Union has the switch flipped to "enemy" and the magic-fueled Cold War starts. There are also enemy NPC stats for a panzer crewman (Grunt 1) and veteran crewman (Grunt 4), Waffen SS officer (Officer 1) and veteran officer (Officer 4), Waffen SS soldier (Grunt 1) and veteran soldier (Grunt 4), Waffen SS blood mage (Officer 6/Adept 6), Wehracht officer (Officer 1) and veteran officer (Officer 4), Wehrmacht soldier (Grunt 1) and veteran soldier (Grunt 4), and Wehrmacht sniper (Scout 5/Sniper 1).

But who cares about humans? Let's get to monsters! That's right, chapter 9 ends with a small, but nonetheless tasty, sample of the kind of creeps you can find in the Weird War II universe. In addition to a blurb noting that monsters from old European folklore such as ogres and vampires can be found in the dark corners of the warfront, there are a few new monsters - ten, in fact.
  • Brute (CR 3 Medium-size Humanoid): Brutes are basically orcs in both form and function. They are humans warped by Nazi magic meant to bring out the psychotic id, their teeth turned to jagged edges and two large tusks while their hands twist into ones ended in short claws. They're pretty strong as far as a low-level introductory monster goes, but they are infamously stupid. They actually have to make a Will save to reload firearms, otherwise they just drop their guns and go into a melee frenzy.
  • Fext (CR 5 Medium-size Humanoid): Fexts may look perfectly human, but they are far from it. They are gifted with near-immortality, only capable of being slain by a shard of glass or wooden stake. Since they were conscripted by Nazi occultists, Hitler doesn't trust them one bit, but they are used as guards for a lot of higher ranking officers and projects or as artifact hunters.
  • Grant (CR 2 Large Magical Beast): Magical black horses that appear as omens of tragedy. Any town they appear in will have a tragic event happen within the next 12 hours, while anyone that attacks them directly will have a more immediate effect through a hex that gives a -1 penalty to attacks and saving throws for a whole year.
  • Gremlin (CR 1/2 Small Fey): You know these guys. On a rather funny note, almost every d20 system statup of gremlins I've ever seen has given them the Fey type. It's an interesting trend.
  • Kludde (CR 2 Medium-size Magical Beast): Kluddes are chain-wrapped black hounds that manifest in the misty hours of dawn and dusk in Belgium. They are capable of brachiating, attacking, or suffocating with the chains that slither around them like writhing snakes.
  • Reanimant (CR 2 Medium-size Undead): Basically zombies that are dumb but still have an Intelligence score rather than Int -. They're also swift and limber thanks to the special brand of alchemy the Nazis used to raise them.
  • Sluagh (CR 1 Tiny Magical Beast): These evil spirits take the form of crows and tend to travel in large flocks. While they aren't exactly imposing in combat, they have a special power called Destabilize that causes a dying character to keep on bleeding, even if they are getting help from a medic. If you can't get rid of the sluagh fast enough, they will then eat the soul of the dead soldier they have come to watch over, keeping them from ever being resurrected. Due to the concept of death coming from the west, however, you can effectively block them by hiding in a building or vehicle with all of its western entrances shut.
  • Tatzlwurm (CR 2 Small Magical Beast): Ugly, slobbering snake-lizards from folklore all across the European Alps. Since they are burrowers, the unfortunate people that tend to be on the receiving end of their venomous bites and toxic breath are trench diggers and POW escapees.
  • Wehrwolf (+2 CR template; the example individual is CR 9 due to having class levels of Grunt 5/Commander 2): Synthetic werewolves that were made by reverse-engineering the DNA of a captured Russian werewolf. Since wehrwolves retain their minds, can change at will, and are selected from the fittest warriors of the Waffen SS, wehrwolves can be pretty drat dangerous. They pretty much do what you'd expect a D&D werewolf to do otherwise. There's also a little anecdote in their fluff stating that, if the SS can't capture a vampire to turn him with, Hitler wants to become a wehrwolf himself.
  • Wichtlein (CR 1/4 Small Humanoid): Literally lizard-goblins. They're weak, skittish, and sensitive to light, but they make up for it by traveling in large groups and harassing people by caving in tunnels or stealing anything that isn't nailed down.

Chapter 10: Dogs of War
It's a short introductory adventure saving a downed pilot in France from a blood mage and his kluddes.


Next time: We start the bestiary sourcebook Horrors of Weird War II.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Doesn't have quite the same kick as the core book's header, but we get what we get.

It's bestiary time!

It is definitely no secret that I am easily swayed by good monster collections. Hell, I often buy bestiary supplementals for roleplaying games I don't even play. I think I've actually told this story before, though, so I'll just head into the book. There are 100 total monsters in Weird War II's full-on bestiary, Horrors of Weird War II, so I've decided I'll be looking at then 20 at a time. I've also decided I won't be providing pictures of all of them, just ones that are either interesting, stupid, or if I feel like it.

Part 1: Acheri to Chill
Acheri (CR 1 Small Undead)
Found in rural mountain regions in India, the acheri is the ghost of a little girl who is capable of spreading mischief and misfortune alike. They can either sing a song of ill omen that can curse someone who failed their Will save into having a week of -2 penalties to pretty much any roll or cast a dark shadow that spreads either cholera, dysentery, malaria, or typhoid fever. While their innocent appearance forces potential attackers to make a DC 15 Will save or just not have the heart to do it, they can be driven off and warded against by red cloth.

Adaro (CR 2 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
Evil fishmen found in the waters of Oceania. They happen to like the taste of human flesh, but they're also greedy bastards, so they'll often set up protection rackets in island villages to get what they want. If someone doesn't respect them or fights back, like soldiers are probably likely to do if they encounter them, the adaro can fight back with an arsenal pretty drat impressive for a creature of such a low Challenge Rating. Not only do they have sharp claws and a long serrated horn, they are also capable of going into a barbarian rage, teleporting, summon rain and stormy waves, summon sharps, or turning water droplets into poisonous flying fish missiles. :black101: The adaro may be overpowered for its CR, but it's overpowered in style.

Alraune (CR 7 Medium-size Undead)
Alraune is a specific individual, though the fact that her occult origin (impregnating a woman with semen taken from the dirt below a hanged man) is written down means there could theoretically be more than one. She is a temptress figure, said to be a flawlessly beautiful ivory-skinned raven-haired woman, and is definitely a deadly femme fatale. In addition to having spells as per a 6th level Wizard and a negative energy touch, Alraune has defenses in the form of fast healing, damage reduction, and an obscene +8 turn resistance. As if that wasn't enough, she also has a two-part gaze attack. With this gaze attack, she can either influence men and then bestow a curse on them or just screw subtlety and force a save-or-die effect.

American Super Soldier (CR 8 Medium-size Outsider)
Sort of a mix between a guardian angel and Captain America, the American super soldier is a GI who was brutally experimented on by SS occultists but managed to survive and escape, transcending his human nature to become a hero figure who appears to groups of Allied soldiers who are in dire straits and need a helping hand. The super soldier's ability to teleport anywhere in the world instantly, tactical skills, and firearms proficiency mark his role as an NPC entity who comes to help the players out of a jam if the GM feels like the story calls for him.

Animated Dead (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
The animated dead is a freakish mix of clockwork parts melded into flesh and ionized fluids replacing blood, created by Nazi machinists who wanted to prove that they could do the whole zombie thing just as well as the occultists could. While not some amazing monster to write home about as far as power levels go, animated dead do have one trick zombies don't in the form of being able to expel electrical bursts around themselves to shock foes with 2d12 electricity damage, which is surprisingly potent for a monster meant to be sent up against first level characters.

Asphyxiation Zombie (CR 3 Medium-size Undead)
Most of the time, the Weird War II books are surprisingly level-headed and caring about the horrors of war - this entry is not one of those times. No, the asphyxiation zombies are the final result of the final solution, being undead raised by a special occult-juiced form of Zyklon-B used in specific gas chambers in some concentration camps. They can cause fear with their distorted and bloated appearances, their bites induce confusion, slashing or piercing weapons can sometimes cause them to rupture and leak nauseating gasses, and why the hell does this entry exist :stonk:

Aswang (CR 6 Medium-size Shapeshifter)
Ah yes, Dungeons and Dragons 3.0, back before 3.5 decided that Shapechanger was better as a subtype rather than its own full type. Aswang are vampiric creatures from the Phillipines that have a human shape, but can also take the form of a dog, horse, or pig. They sneak out at night to paralyze victims and the drain their blood, and can also spread a curse that causes anyone that fails a rather high Fortitude save to become an aswang come the next sunset. Thankfully, Filipino shamans can cure an aswang, transforming them back into a human with the proper rituals just as long as someone captures the creature alive to deliver it to the shaman.

Atomic Marine (CR 4 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
Let it not be said that the Axis were the only people who did stupid poo poo in the Weird War II universe. These pleasant fellows are the creation of one Jack Garnets, an Illinois scientist who decided that asking the military to stuff soldiers into a room full of experimental radioactive super-compound was a good idea. It went about as well as you'd expect. The resulting "atomic marines" are merciless, emotionless killers who don't differentiate between Ally and Axis - if it's in a uniform, it's a target. They roam the jungles of southeast Asia, having escaped the GI handlers that were foolish enough to think they could control them, and kill any soldiers from either side that they find. In addition to having radiation-resistant firearms, atomic marines exude a field of damaging radiation or use their twisted hands as brutal claws. Another benefit of their nature is that they are both gooey and warm enough that they get damage reduction, as pretty much anything that hits them is going to come away melted.

Axis Apes
Technically three of the one hundred creatures in the book, but I've collected them into this one header because they're all tied together. For some reason, the Nazis and Japanese alike decided "hey, you know what would be great? Gorilla soldiers" and started work on several wacky experiments. The results are the three axis apes. The first type is the ape in uniform (CR 2 Large Animal), which is basically a hulking gorilla that has had its intelligence augmented enough to be used as menial labor of a cheap guard. The second type, the human with an ape brain (CR Medium-size Humanoid), is a POW that has been "devolved" into a clawed, fanged, ill-tempered dumb brute who is used for the same things the ape in uniform is. The last of the three is the ape with a human brain (CR 3 Large Humanoid), a cripplingly wounded Axis soldier who had their brain put into a gorilla's body so that they could continue to fight in an even stronger form in spite of their original body's disabling injuries.

Axis Stitch (CR 9 Large Construct)
What's worse than a flesh golem? A flesh golem with metal plates sewn onto it and spikes for hands. While they aren't healed by electricity like normal flesh golems - they're animated by Nazi blood magic instead of zappity zaps - they do have magic immunity, super-strength, and the other goods of a flesh golem combined with rending spike attacks and enhanced defensive capabilities thanks to their fancy steel suits.

Battle Spirit (CR 13 Huge Undead)
An uber-poltergeist created from numerous soldiers' ghosts, battle spirits wait underground until battles break around around them, at which point they burst out and lay waste like invisible tornadoes of doom. They have +4 turn resistance, energy drain, and can telekinetically throw around pretty much anything they feel like.

Black Annis (CR 6 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
Black Annis is an evil hag that lives in England's Dane Hills. She's an evil creature that desires nothing more than power and the flesh of humans and livestock to feed her relentless hunger, and the fact that she keeps popping up after being slain or banished seems to indicate that there's either more than one "black annis" hag or that she's immortal. The text seems to suggest that the latter is definitely true (though the former may be as well), and that Black Annis was a pagan goddess before being magically bound and downsized to her haggish state, which is why Nazi blood mages have been trying to sneak into England and recharge her back to her former wicked glory. As she is, however, Black Annis isn't exactly a pushover. Her claws are vicious tools of rending, her wailing cry can strike fear into those who hear it, her spit is a corrosive acid, and she can either turn into a black cat or summon a cat swarm. What good a cat swarm would actually do is up to debate, but she can do it nonetheless.

Black Peter (CR 8 Medium-size Outsider)
A demon who was once in the business of guiding souls into the arms of Hell before he ended up being beaten and enslaved by good old St. Nick. It turns out that centuries of servitude to a jolly bearded saint does a toll on a demon's sanity, though, and now Black Peter has found his way out of bondage and is ready to cause some serious suffering. His powers are spell-like abilities related to deceit and illusions, has a pretty big bonus to most social skills, and has a guilt trip gaze attack that causes a -1 penalty to attack rolls for 1d3 rounds if it succeeds. If his social skills weren't enough, however, he can also just straight up choke you with the magical chains that surround him or send his two kludde hounds to attack you while he disappears into a nearby shadow.

Black Wood (CR ? Huge Fey)
Whoops, looks like someone forgot the Challenge Rating line on this monster. The black wood is an evil faerie creature that has been forced into the form of a twisted ambulatory tree. While they can exude a bitterly cold fog, their primary method of combat is pretty straightforward: use their sticky sap to trap a foe close, impale them with their sharp branch-arms, and then suck out their blood.

Blemmye (CR 1 Medium-size Humanoid)
These strange humanoids are found in Sudan and southern Egypt and can be easily identified by the fact that they have a face in their chest. They are cautious but skilled warriors, typically living a nomadic existence riding from cave to cave on camel-back and raiding human settlements under the cover of darkness to attain supplies. Germans have been pretending to be British colonials and forcibly manufacturing a conflict between the blemmyes and the British and Arab denizens of the region. In addition to the big boon that is being able to take character classes, blemmyes are crack shots that double the effective range of the effects of the ever popular Point Blank Shot feat.

Carrion Vulture (CR 1 Small Undead)
Rotting undead vultures that can induce fear and have a paralytic bite. They do what vultures do best and don't really have any motive beyond the desire to feed, though they are incidental players in the war because of the fact that blood mages have figured out that carrion vultures can predict where a battle will take place and watch them accordingly. They also hate reptiles for some reason and will attack them on sight.

Catafalte (CR 5 Large Monstrous Humanoid)
Catafaltes are that old wive's tale about cats stealing your breath taken to the extreme conclusion. They are lion-sized anthropomorphic cats that believe stealing human essence can bring forth their evolutionary potential and make them more human. In truth, the breath-stealing is a Constitution damage attack that grants the catafalte a permanent +1 to their Contsitution score every time it successfully kills someone by taking their breath away.

Chill (CR 1 Medium-size Aberration)
These strange icy wisp-blobs float around at night and suck heat from people. Interestingly enough, unlike many monsters that have A Constitution damaging attack, the chill's heat drain isn't meant to kill as it floats away satisfied with its meal as soon as the target falls asleep from having 0 Constitution. Fear not, however, as the book specifically suggests that the War Master use the chill against people who need to stay awake such as sentries and guards. :v:

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 2: Chinese Dragon to Hades Corps
Chinese Dragon (CR 9 Large Dragon)
A Lawful Good dragon that claws and bites at evil people and dazes non-evil people if forced to fight them. Eh.

Composite (CR 5 Medium-size Construct)
Tied directly to a later monster called the Doctor X (we'll get to those in a little), composites are heaps of flesh and limbs sewn together haphazardly and animated. They have a primitive intellect compared to mindless things like golems, but only to the extent that they can comprehend simplistic plans and desire to help their Doctor Xs in things such as guard duty, kidnappings, or just plain-out warfare. As far as anything beyond basic combat goes, though, it's sort of a crapshoot of the dice. The composite's extra limbs may or may not work depending on a dice roll, and sometimes a dice roll will have their redundant organs bring them back to life after being apparently destroyed.

Curse of Frankenstein (CR 8 Large Monstrous Humanoid)
The curses of Frankenstein, or Frankenstein troopers, are the results of Nazis taking Victor von Frankenstein's original scientific papers and expanding on his work. After repeated tests, they have created brute warriors who have no fear but can induce fear in others with their aura, are still vulnerable to fire but no longer fear it, have fast healing and damage reduction, and are equipped with Wolverine-style hand blades and a machine gun.

Dead Man's Helmet (CR - Tiny Undead)
The helmet of a dead man. Specifically, it's the helmet of a soldier who died a very traumatic death and their spirit is bound to it. If anyone puts the helmet on - which is more likely than you'd think, as it has a compulsion aura - they'll get spammed with random incoherent flashes of the dead soldier's life and gain PTSD for 2d6 hours, at which point the spirit departs. It's basically meant to be a hazard more than an active monster.

Deserter (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
The deserter is the undead spirit of a soldier who deserted their unit and died on the run. It can't really do much besides shoot its rifle, which it will at pretty much any uniformed officer it sees as it panics.

Der Einzelgaenger (CR 5 Gargantuan Undead)
Ghost U-Boat! As you might guess from the low Challenge Rating, however, it's not a big brutish war machine like a haunted vehicle. It's incorporeal and has no weaponry. Don't let that fool you, though - Der Einzelgaenger has a dark trick up its sleeve. With decent ranks in Bluff and Intimidate, it can spook and mislead an Allied ship crew into falling right into an ambush by very corporeal and very armed active U-Boat patrols.

Djinn (CR 7 Large Elemental)
Yadda yadda smokeless fire made etc. etc. blah blah. Weird War II interprets the description of genies as meaning they are invisible fire elementals, whose actions can vary widely depending on the personal outlook of the specific djinn in question. They have the power to spread disease or possess an animal and are healed by fire, but suffer photophobia that forces them to hide or possess an animal during the day. If push comes to shove, they can also just simply whack people with their giant invisible scimitars, which certainly works just as well as sneaking around.

Doctor X (CR 5 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
As if regular Nazi mad scientists weren't enough, the creatures known as Doctor Xs were formerly reputable doctors before being brainwashed and forced to endure and dish out physical and psychological torture until either they committed suicide, died, or went insane. Those that su rvive all call themselves Doctor X, all have scars and deformities from self-experimentation, and prey upon either wounded soldiers or the downtrodden such as prostitutes or mental institute patients. They torture and experiment on people and use the bodies of those they kill to create the composites we saw a few entries up. As far as their own combat capabilities go, they have a scalpel (stats the same as your standard 1d4 damage D&D knife) that deals triple damage as long as the Doctor X is engaging one-on-one or has the superior overall numbers compared to his foes.

Electrical Man (CR 2 Medium-size Construct)
Straight-up Nazi robots. They look vaguely like diving suits made out of metal and rubber joints, have flashlights and human brains inside of their domes, and are proficiency with submachine guns. They are considered to be experimental and rarely seen outside of their creation facility in Haigerloch, Germany.

Explosive Zombie (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
It's a zombie filled with explosives. Doesn't get much more straightforward than that.

Fever Spider (CR 1 Small Animal)
Particularly intelligent for an invertebrate and capable of keeping pace with a wolf, these blood red Indonesian jungle-dwellers are one of those things that seem tailor-made to mess with arachnophobes at your game table. To make things even worse, they are stated to be extremely territorial and will follow someone they bite until they die. Their name comes from the fact that their bite spreads a bacterial infection that induces a high fever and Constitution damage.

Finn Haunt (CR 2 Medium-size Undead)
These are our first example of a creature that actively opposes and targets the Allies alone but isn't of Nazi make. The Finn haunts are the ghosts of Frisian warriors who remember when the Anglo-Saxons killed their people, and are pissed as hell that Anglo-Saxon descendants are descending upon Germany once again. Their spell-like abilities are all tied into what they do to British people when they find them: ghost sound[./i] to lure people into buildings, hold portal to close the doors of the building, and [i]produce flame to set the building on fire. When they are in fire, Finn haunts can fully manifest and use a Wisdom-draining attack to further complicate matters for the poor Brit.

Flagellant (CR 4 Medium-size Undead)
There...there are not enough :psyduck:s in the world to describe this entry. Intelligent undead made by blood mages from Nazi soldiers who suffered major stomach wounds, flagellants act like the most twisted moral support ever, using their entrails as bullwhips to attack the enemy and to whip themselves or Nazi soldiers under their command into a barbarian rage. This exists in this book. I swear to you I am not using hyperbole on this monster.

Fog of War (CR 4 Large Aberration)
The fog of war is a rather twisted monster, a gaseous maliciousness that rises in times of war for the sole purpose of instigating friendly fire. To achieve this end, it has a litany of spell-like abilities related to illusions and the ability to attempt to force itself into someone who fully enters its foggy body and thus dominate their actions. As for fighting back? Well, it's fog, so most attacks aren't going to do much and explosives or non-AoE spells in particular only do half their normal damage on top of the prodigious damage reduction being made of mist grants. On the other hand, strong winds and heavy rains can damage if if you can whip them up, and electrical and water-based attacks deal double damage to them.

Gangrene (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
A plague zombie by any other name.

Gehrinesser Gruppe (CR 7 Medium-size Shapeshifter)
One of the more insidous experimental entities of the Nazis, the gehrinsser gruppe are faceless folk who can take on someone's form, skills, and feats by consuming their brain. Depending on how they conserve their brain matter, this ruse can go on for months, which makes them a very dangerous unseen foe. The only flaw of their mimicry is that they have to consciously make an effort to avoid using the opposite hand of the victim they are impersonating. This means that a proper Bluff check can blow the game away as the gehrinesser gruppe literally shows its hand.

Ghillie (CR 5 Medium-size Aberration)
These freakish parasites have a vaguely humanoid shape made out of brown and green mulch and leaves. It can take over a host by engulfing them and beating them at a Will save, effectively using them as both a defense and as a food source for their blood draining attack. As long as ghillie is attached, the host gets the boon of its abilities and camouflage, but is also liable to take damage that is actually intended for the ghillie. The ghillie also grants the Sniper prestige class's crippling shot ability, as it likes to leave its potential new victims alive.

Ghost of the Red Baron (CR 10 Huge Undead)
The ghostly figure of Manfred von Richthofen and his soul-bound plane are one of the most dangerous tricks up the Nazi air command's sleeve. He can manifest anywhere in Germany (but not outside of it) and is effectively immortal, simply reappearing later if he is shot down. The only way to truly end Richtofen's second reign of terror is to find the bone talismans that the Nazi blood mages used to summon his spirit, take them all to his grave, and then consecrate it in a funeral ritual. It's more or less a whole adventure of its own, which is probably for the best when dealing with such a historical figure.

Grendel (CR 11 Huge Giant)
For some unknown reason, this infamous giant of legend has managed to survive his apparent death in the old sagas. He still has a lost arm from his fight with Beowulf, though, and he has an obsession with ripping off people's right arms in vengeance. Then again, he tends to rip things off in general, as he goes from town to town with no real goal other than slaughter and sustenance. He's certainly a beast in combat as well - even if you discount his ability to go into a rage and make his already prodigious strength even higher, his amazingly rough hide forces a save-or-break on any melee weapon every time you hit him. The only saving grace is that he is sluggish and weaker during the day, which means that you could defeat him easier if you somehow manage to find his sleeping spot.

Hades Corps (CR +1 or +2 Template)
The Hades Corps are the ultimate SS soldiers, ones who literally survived going to Hell and back. Their origin is in an experimental attempt to harness infernal energy for the Nazi war machine that instead sucked the research facility into Hell, where only the toughest SS soldiers managed to fight their way back to our world. A soldier with this template becomes an Outsider with the Fire subtype. Their touch burns, touching them burn, and on top of that they can burn with various fire-related spell-like abilities. And if you manage to kill one, they explode into a fireball for even more fire. Examples are provided of putting the Hades Corps template on a Grunt 4 and an Officer 7.


Next time: French cannibals, Japanese ghost samurai, Arabic temptresses, and more.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 3: HMS Sapphire to Orang-Bati

HMS Sapphire (CR 12 Colossal Undead)
Nicknamed "The Deadnaught", the HMS Sapphire was a World War I era dreadnaught that was secretly built in South Africa and mysteriously sank in the Atlantic on her maiden voyage. The ship is now a vengeful spirit of the sea whose crew hunt for shipwrecks to scavenge even more souls from in order to fill the entire sea with the sorrow of forgotten tragedy. The undead sailors expand in a dark fog at a 90 foot radius around the Sapphire, clawing at anyone they come in contact with, while the ship itself is effectively immortal unless you can find exactly where it actually wrecked and pull off a proper burial ritual. This means that, as with the ghost of the Red Baron, a big part of this ghostly vehicle's encounter potential is in the adventure around putting it to rest.

Homme-Rat (CR 1 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
Rat people that live in the sewers and catacombs of France. They like to eat people and perform ritual sacrifice, but that's pretty much all that's known about them.

Husk (CR 3 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
The husk could be described as the desert equivalent of the Canadian wendigo. Like the wendigo legend, the husk is formed when a human in dire conditions turns to cannibalism and insanity - in this case, someone in the desert turning to blood-drinking. The result is a warped monster with a leathery hide, long claws, and sharp teeth. It has no supernatural powers to speak of, but its psychosis and strength make it a dangerous foe if it can use its stealth to get the jump on a small group of low-level characters.

Infiltrator (CR 4 Medium-size Shapechanger)
The Japanese shapeshifting spy guys. Unlike the Nazi versions, these ones don't have to eat brains to keep up a disguise, instead using spiritual power. They are also weaker overall and have more of a focus on manipulating team members into dissent as opposed to their Nazi counterparts' long-term subterfuge.

Izgoi (CR 1 Medium-size Fey)
Our next species that is stated to take character classes at long last! :woop: These are the izgoi, a Russian term referring to exiles or orphans, who are unsurprisingly found in eastern Europe. They live in small villages lead by a ruler known as a hedman and a matriarchal shaman known as the vedomye zheny. They are a hardy fey folk that have damage reduction, regeneration as long as they have their feet in touch with the earth, and spell-like abilities related to stealth and further defensiveness. They also have a +1 bonus to saving throws and attack rolls as long as they are within 12 miles of their home village, but suffer Constitution damage for every week they are away from it. Both the Russians and Germans have tried to sway the izgoi to their sides, but they have pretty much refused both, even sometimes creating small retaliatory militias to fight off Nazi invaders.

Kamikaze Spirit (CR 3 Medium-size Undead)
The Japanese occultists known as the Kuromaku (who we'll learn more about in the book Land of the Rising Dead) happened to create these guys by accident. The original intent was just to fuel kamikaze pilots with black magic, but it turned out that a side-effect was the creation of a unique type of undead that seeks out even more planes to crash. Its modus operandi is to sneak into a ship, Wisdom drain the pilot into a nightmare-filled sleep, take the reigns of the plane to crash it into an Allied ship, and then head to a new plane to do it all over again.

Keel Wyrm (CR 3 Huge Beast)
Beast, the other creature type besides Shapeshifter that existed in 3.0 but disappeared in 3.5. Our first example of tis type in Weird War II are the keel wyrms, giant versions of the keel worm. While they aren't particularly dangerous, they have a bad habit of living in groups that slow down ships as they build numerous calcified burrows on the underbelly, which means anyone diving to try to fix the issue has to deal with about a dozen or so snapping jaws from freaky 20 foot-long worms.

Khamsin (CR 5 Medium-size Outsider)
Either earth-bound genies or cursed Amazons depending on who you ask, the khamsin have the form of beautiful Arabic women and are fond of seducing religious men away from the tenets of their faith. While they prefer to merely toy with humans, they can certainly hold their own if combat comes up, being capable of spreading disease, forming a dangerous whirlwind, or emanating a heat wave that simultaneously protects them from cold attacks and deals nonlethal damage to those that near it.

Kill-Roy (CR 10 Medium-size Undead)
"Kilroy was here": a strange slogan etched by American GIs during World War II and later, often merged with the graffiti of a large-nosed ledge-peeker by the name of Chad whose origins were from the British part of the Allies. Or, at least, that's the real world origin. In Weird War II, finding "Kilroy was here" is a much darker message spread by the entity known as the Kill-Roy. This creature was born Roy Sharpes, a private who ended up dying in the Pearl Harbor raid. Fueled with rage, he came back as a spirit who would drive others to their deaths, stealing their essences and eventually becoming a horrific blood red gestalt of all of the Armed Forces that seeks only the death of the Axis through suicide attacks from American soldiers. The Kill-Roy will possess soldiers and force them to fight at their fullest and die in the heat of battle, their spirits being absorbed into its own as the message "Kilroy was here" magically marks itself on a nearby surface. Even more interesting is that Kill-Roy is an enemy who can only be truly effectively fought with words rather than actions - he'll just rejuvenate and reappear eventually if he is attacked and destroyed, meaning that the only way to deal with him is to free a possessed soldier by convincing Kill-Roy the soldier would do more damage to the enemy alive than dead or to finally put him to rest with a well-researched and convincing argument that its path of violence is in vain and that it should disperse its souls into the afterlife.

Kon-Nichiwa Samurai (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
Better known as "that dick thing your GM uses", these entities are the souls of samurai summoned and bound by the Kuromaku into an armored zombie. The kon-nichiwa samurai is deceptive in its low Challenge Rating. Sure, its hit point total is miniscule, but it also regenerates to full health after 5 minutes of being unconscious. The only way to truly kill them is to perform a coup de grace with their own katana or spear after they have been knocked unconscious, a fact that the players probably don't actually know given that the kon-nichiwa are the personal enslaved bodyguards of select Kuromaku. The plus side of all of this is that they have a hilarious death:

Horrors of Weird War II posted:

When they are released from unholy service, a bright light flashes from the face mask of the armor and beautiful music and the scent of cherry blossoms fills the air.

Lebender Schlamm (CR 14 Large Construct)
You probably wouldn't have guessed that our toughest monster so far would be a mud golem. That's exactly what the lebender schlamm is, though, being a golem created from the bloody mud of trenches. In addition to the magic immunity that all golems enjoy, the lebender schlamm can shapeshift to sprout tentacles for extra attacks or squeeze through tight spaces as an oozing mass, has high damage reduction combined with an immunity to slashing and piercing damage, can regenerate health as long as it is in contact with the ground, can up its speed once per day in combat, and is capable of engulfing and suffocating foes.

Leopard of Rudyaprayag (CR 8 Large Beast)
It's a giant leopard with above-human intelligence, the ability to sense traps, and fast healing. It's used by an evil chaos cult to spread disaster during times of war. And...that's pretty much it. Hell, the book doesn't even tell you where Rudyaprayag is (it's a town in the forested mountains of Northern India).

Living Fountain (CR 3 Large Construct)
Empathic statues found in European towns. They're capable of healing with their waters, but they don't have any attack, movement, or anything else. Really, they are more a magic item of convenience than a monster, and I'm not sure why they are taking up a spot in this bestiary.

Lost Caravan (CR 5 Medium-size Elemental)
These earth elementals are actually the spirits of a group of Berber salt merchants who were massacred by raiders centuries ago, now under a compulsion to forever wander the wilderness and steal people's body salt like that one monster in Star Trek. They do this by appearing to those who are lost and starving in the desert, offering them food and drink that actually has a sleeping poison in it. If they fall asleep, a magical jar is placed at their feet that drains them of their salts. If they making the saving throw and stay awake, two hours later the members of the Lost Caravan get pissed off and start slashing around with their sabers and jambiya daggers. They are immortal due to the dying curse of the tribesman that swore vengeance, but they can be thwarted by just beating them up until they are temporarily destroyed or managing to hold out until dawn, since they are incapable of manifesting during the daylight hours.

Luna-Tick (CR 1/2 Tiny Vermin)
Black ticks with a crescent moon marking on their back that drive people in a paranoid rage as they drain blood from them. Get it? :haw:

Master Chef of France (CR 8 Medium-size Humanoid)
The master chefs are cannibals who are said to have gotten their secret of human flesh-based immortality from the Marquis de Sade. They are effectively broken into camps of those who only eat the flesh of the dead and those who hunger for fresh human meat and go out to murder them, but both are equally ultra-nationalist and hate the Nazis with a passion that drives them to aid the French resistance movement. Combat-wise, master chefs have high-ranking fast healing and immunity to poison on their side.

Mind Reaper (CR 4 Small Humanoid)
Mini-me big-brained Nazi experiments whose shtick is that they love mind-raping people. They are constantly capable of detecting thoughts, and can use this to either rip out pieces of a foe's memory, temporarily stun them, or deal Strength and Dexterity damage. They can also take class levels.

Muumuu (CR 3 Large Giant)
Besides having a hilariously amusing name, the Bigfoot-like ogres known as the muumuu are feared in the south Pacific for the fact that they come down from their jungle mountain homes to steal away humans as food. They are stron, clever, and can swiftly move around in the trees to ambush Allied and Axis troops moving through the jungle. They're another creature that can advance by class levels, which is always a plus.

Nuba Oni (CR 4 Large Monstrous Humanoid)
The nuba oni are a tribe of the legendary Japanese oni that have been drafted into military service by the Kuromaku. In addition to being big horned monsters that have a fear-inducing aura, brute strength, and sharp claws, the nuba oni have been trained to use firearms and katanas. They are also heavily resistant to fire, so some have been trained to puncture Allied flamethrower tanks to cause a conflagrating explosion that the nuba oni can easily walk away from compared to the quite possibly dead flamethrower user.

Orang-Bati (CR 1 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
These freakish bat-ape-people fly through the jungles of Indonesia and are feared for the fact that they take humans in the dead of night to sacrifice in blood magic rituals. They also happen to believe that they are the rightful ruling species of the planet, but are thankfully of small enough numbers that they can only carry out their domination fanasies on a local scale. Their two notable powers are the ability to release a mournful wail that can induce chaos and panic and, if they happen to be spellcasters, sacrifice a human child once per day to double their 1st level spells per day. Orang-bati can take character classes.


Next time: Dragons that aren't, rats that swarm, and NPC monsters that aid.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
I had planned on getting this post out sooner, but I've been sick as a dog lately.

Part 4: Osterkov Dragon to Schatenmeister

Osterkov Dragon (CR 7 Large Magical Beast)
When is a dragon not a dragon? When it's...that thing, I guess. While called a dragon people by the people who tell its tales, the Osterkov dragon is a supernatural ox that has been without a head ever since a German warrior lopped it off in battle 1,500 years before World War II began. It was always an unpleasant beast, but it's been driven mad and woken up by all of the fighting going on near its home on the border of Denmark and Germany, and is all too willing to brutalize anyone that enters its forest. The Osterkov dragon's typical attack strategy is to soften up the earth, send vines to entangle a foe, or erect a wall of brambles and thorns, after which it just violently slams its hooves into the prone character. It has a special 4d12 damage attack it can do to characters it has pinnd, which kills them through violent head explosion at 0 HP rather than sending them into the dying state of negative HP like a normal attack. If that wasn't bad enough, it also happens to be immune to any damage other than grappling or a direct strike to its neck stump, both of which are dangerous given that its blood is extremely poisonous - 2d4 Constitution primary, and then 4d4 Constitution secondary, a level of poison I don't think any standard D&D creature has.

Oyasuminasai Ninja (CR 4 Medium-size Outsider)
Like the kamikaze spirits and kon-nichiwa samurai seen in the last post, these guys are tied to the Kuromaku. Unlike them, however, they are obviously not undead. They are from another dimension but have sworn fealty to the Kuromaku in order to gain access to our world. They are basically just ninja that can teleport through shadows within their line of sight and are weakened by sunlight. Woo.

Pacific Trap Plant (CR 2 Medium-size Plant)
Giant ferns that have tentacles they use to grapple people and then suck their fluids out.

Pain (CR 12 Large Outsider)
A being of pure emotion made manifest, a pain is born when mass tragedy illicits such an emotional reaction that it leaves a psychic scar on the area. It's also stupidly dangerous. Not only do its attacks gain 5 feet of range every time it successfully attacks or its foes either fail an attack or fail a Strength check against it, but it also has a save or die attack on its grapple. Its grapple. And someone who dies to that save-or-die grapple? They get sucked in and automatically destroyed, so there's no way to resurrect them either. The final insult to injury is that you can't actually damage a pain with conventionl weapons or magic. You have to instead sit and meditate, spamming Will saves to damage it until it eventually collapses into itself, at which point there's a big Will save you have to make or permanently suffer 1d4+1 Intelligence drain and develop a mental illness. What a fun monster. :smithicide:

PaK Mule (CR 3 Medium-size Undead)
PaK mules are the heavy weapons guys of the Nazis' zombie hordes, being super-strong brutes that haul around a special antitank gun known as the PaK HEAT due to the fact that it is so strong it would kill a living being if it was held and fired. Of course, they do kind of have a big flaw in and of themselves - namely, any time you deal damage to a PaK mule, it has to make a Will save or drop its gun and just punch everyone around be they friend or foe.

Panzerschrek (CR ? Medium-size Undead)
Whoops, an entry where the Challenge Rating was left out of the stat block. Panzerschreks are the ghosts of tank crews that have been summoned back to the mortal coil by Nazi blood mages, namely by taking an antitank weapon such as a rocket launcher and then coating it in magical runes. The panzerschrek is bound to this weapon and cannot get too far from it or it will despawn for a while. It can also be despawned by water or strong winds. In its favor, it does of course have an antitank weapon to blow up tanks with like it's supposed to, and it can also engulf people in smoke and start choking them if it has to face a human foe. A panzerschrek will resurrect unless its antitank weapon is destroyed or dispelled.

Papuan Dragon (CR 4 Huge Animal)
A dragon that isn't but sort of is. By which I mean it's not a dragon-dragon or the Dragon type, but it's a giant Komodo dragon, so it's sort of a dragon but at the same time...oh, forget it. It's a big-rear end 25 foot long lizard that lives in Papua New Guinea and does giant lizard things - namely eating people.

Paul Revere (CR 4 Medium-size Outsider)
Like the American super-soldier - remember him? - Paul Revere (who may or may not be the Paul Revere) is a spirit of good that helps out Allies who are in distress. He appears to warn of extremely unpleasant combat situations and how to beat them, with troops that follow his orders getting a free bless spell cast on them. He then disappears mysteriously for reasons nobody remembers.

Pharaoh Cobra (CR 2 Medium-size Magical Beast)
These supernatural serpents are said to have been created by ancient Egyptian sorcerers, which makes sense given that they are always found guarding tombs and temples in Egypt and Libya. They are actually more intelligent than the average human and are capable of either just doing straight-up venomous cobra shenanigans or using hypnosis against their foes. Their Lawful Neutral nature means they protect their tombs rather than pick sides in the war, but the Nazis and Italians have been capturing some of them for devious experiments.

Phoenix Legionnaire (CR 10 Medium-size Humanoid)
While they happen to look like skeletons in Roman legionnaire's armor, these entities are actually members of a mystery cult known as the Legion of the Phoenix that have been caught in a state of half-life ever since they pledged to protect Rome from evil when the flames of war engulfed it. That time has come, and now they rise to fight the Axis when the sounds of battle raise them from their ageless sleep beneath the ground. Phoenix legionnaires have fast healing but are otherwise rather nondescript, even having flat 10s for all of their physical ability scores. There's a reason for that, though - every time the legionnaire hurts an enemy in combat, he gets to roll a 1d6, with any roll other than a 1 granting him a point in either Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity to a maximum of 18. If he can get all three scores to at least 14 before the battle is over, he is fully reborn as a human but gets to retain his fast healing. If he runs out of foes before he can get the prerequisite ability scores? Death awaits.

Quisling (CR 4 Small Fey)
In addition to looking like miniature versions of Marvel's Kingpin, the quislings are best known for being assholes that love to sew seeds of deceit and betrayal. To achieve that end, they are naturally invisible even when attacking and have several minor illusion-related powers. If they happen to get stuck in an iron circle, though, they are both visible and powerless to do anything but use whatever human-made weapons (typically pistols) they happen to have.

Rat Pack (CR 2 Medium-size Magical Beast)
Technically a bunch of regular-sized rats that act as a single big rat in a cohesive state that even swarms can't reach, rat packs are clever and aggressive due to the arcane energies they have gained from consuming corpses on a bloodied battlefield. That's about all that can be said about them, though, as their only strategy is to bite things.

Resurrected (CR 1 Medium-size Outsider)
The Nazis decided to siphon the spirits of famous generals into living humans. For some reason, however, they decided to use total chumps and leadership bonuses to troop morale are about all these creatures are good for.

Rubble Kitten (CR 0 Tiny Magical Beast)
More of a force than an entity, the rubble kitten will sometimes do acts of GM fiat to heroes that can find one. You have to have Charisma of 16 or higher and be good and kind-hearted to have one appear, and then you have to keep it save or you will get a spate of bad luck (-1 to your bennies for 1d6 game sessions). Stealing one also gives you the same bad luck. The entry is kind of stupid either way.

Russian Riser (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
These guys are the corpses of Russian patriots who rise up from the grave to attack those that are hostile to the motherland. They have a claw attack, can burrow to assault someone from below, they can soften up the ground, and...that's it, really. Their low Challenge Rating and lack of anything uber spectacular makes it hard to justify them as being better than just having Russian zombies appear or something.

Salty Dog (CR 3 Medium-size Fey)
Part of the grand old tradition of creepy-rear end European fair folk, salty dogs are beasts that resemble big old Irish wolfhounds and tend to mooch off of sailors that take them in as ship dogs. Then they get hungry, and their darker side creeps out. A hungry salty dog shapeshifts into the form of a man and goes to seduce a woman, taking her down to the seaside and then drowning and eating her. It then goes back to its wolfhound form and swims back to its "master's" boat to wait until it needs to feed again.

Sand Devil (CR 2 Medium-size Beast)
Freaky desert predators that vaguely resemble the shriekers from Tremors 2. They burrow under the sand and wait until they find weak and weary prey, at which point they burst out and attack. They have a rainforest variant called jungle devils that are arboreal instead.

Scaevolan (CR 1 Medium-size Humanoid)
The Italian attempt at creating brutes, Scaevolans are still human rather than orc-monsters, have their left hands ritually burned off which makes them less effective at combat, and cannot take class levels like normal humans can. Their only real benefit is that they have a +4 bonus to saves against Intimidate checks and a +1 morale bonus to saves and attack rolls. They are literally one of the most useless entities you could possibly make on the Weird War II battlefront. I'm not sure whether they are meant to be making fun of the Italian fascists compared to the Nazis or if the writers genuinely thought this entry was a good idea, and somehow I almost hope it's the former. :psyduck:

Scaratrooper (Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid - CR 2 for regular, CR 5 for Sergeant)
Speaking of Nazi experimentation, these guys are Nazi bat-people made by experiments on paratroopers. They're strong, swift, can use both human-made weapons and their new claws, have fast healing, and can fly, and are used both to attack ground troops and to sabotage planes mid-flight.

Schatenmeister (CR 4 Medium-size Outsider)
These creatures are people made out of shadow that come from another dimension that may or may not be the same one the shadow ninjas come from. They have a deal with the Nazis to cross over to our world and act as assassins and spies in exchange, but Hitler is paranoid about them and only allows a few to come across at a time. They have a craving for human essence and have a Constitution draining attack to achieve that, but also happen to suffer Wisdom damage as they siphon Constitution from humans because of how pleasurable they find it.


Next time: We finish off Horrors of Weird War II with wolf-boobs, kamikaze spiders, porcupine people, and the vote for what Weird War II book will be done after this one.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Kavak posted:

So, basically an entire army of this?

Right down to similar art, yes.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

So the theme with some of the Japanese monsters is "names you cannot take at all seriously if you have even a passing familiarity with Japanese"?

Given we have the "good afternoon" samurai and the "goodnight" ninja... goddammit Pinnacle, did you learn nothing since Deadlands? :cripes:
Just wait until we get to the sourcebook Land of the Rising Dead. :getin:

Father Wendigo posted:

The bestiary is fascinating in how 'all over the place with nowhere to go' it is. There's fairly odd but workable stuff like the Osterkov Dragon, ':what:' stuff like the Quisling, and enough gimmick zombies to pad the book out to a respectable length; all running with a tenuous grasp of the d20 system.
Agreed. Honestly, the biggest problem with the monsters in Weird War II in the bestiary and the sourcebooks is the same problem that I had with Broncosaurus Rex. There's a glut of low-level fodder (small dinosaurs in BR, zombies and weak humanoid in WWII) and then very few monsters past CR 10. I could at least forgive it in Weird War Ii if the humanoid entities could take class levels, but for some reason very few of them can, as I've noted by my joy whenever they do show up.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 5: Shkura Devoshka to Zombie Master

Shkura Devoshka (CR 1 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
Our first species since the orang-bati that can actually take character classes by the rules as written. The shkura devoshka are Neutral Evil wolf-women who may or may not be the feral degenerate descendents of the Amazons. They are pack hunters that have a higher bonus to flanking bonuses than normal humans and have a bite attack that can also deal Dexterity damage through tendon-ripping selective strikes. They will sometimes steal and rape human men, after which they use them for ritual sacrifices. Charming.

Skin Thief (CR 2 Medium-size Humanoid)
Apparently not content with having brain-eating shapeshifters, the Nazis decided that they'd also make infiltrators that literally wear other people's skins. That's pretty much the extent of what the skin thief does.

Soulless (Template)
In a tangled web woven through the Nazi ranks, the Soulless template reflects the ultimate no-win situation. The gist of it is that SS officers sell their souls to demons, Nazi blood mages afraid of their status in the organization then bargain with the demons to eat the souls rather than just buy them and eventually take on the SS officer's body to be able to walk the earth. The template ups class hit dice by one size, adds a +4 natural armor bonus to AC, gives a bite attack, and grants 3/day burning hands. It's not actually made clear whether or not the template reflects the SS officers given power or the demons in their meatsuits, though.

Spider-Bomb (CR 2 Medium-size Vermin)
Speaking of tangled webs... These monsters are the creation of one Tara Von Laven, who decided that it wasn't just enough to use mad science to grow spiders. No, she decided that after growing spiders to giant size, she'd then strap bombs onto them. They're also literally controlled by a joystick, because why not at this point.

Stealthy Stalker (CR 6 Medium-size Humanoid)
Basically the Invisible Man. They are Nazi experiments who went psychotic and decided to head out and just kill people. To this end, they are naturally invisible, have +2d6 sneak attack, and also have uncanny dodge. Stealthy stalkers can technically take character classes, but it states that they can only take levels in Grunt.

Strosstrupen (CR 3 Medium-size Humanoid)
Nazi supermen. They are resistant to heat and cold, super-strong, and wield hammers made of the magical material vril that they can either bash things with, throw as a missile attack, or use to call down lightning or create minor earthquakes. They can also take class levels, which means that they are actually pretty useful, unlike a certain other Nazi experimental human I can think of *cough*Resurrector*cough*.

Taniec Tytan Pracy (CR 9 Large Outsider)
Taniec tytan pracy, or dance demons, are summoned by Polish occultists to defend them from the Nazis. In addition to being able to masquerade as a human, the dance demons can perform dances that can cause confusion, deal nonlethal damage, or bring forth the ever popular save-or-die touch attack.

Terracotta Warrior (CR 2 Medium-size Construct)
Unlike the real world terracotta warriors, these ones were made by emperors other than Shi Huang Di and were imbued with the occult energies of human sacrifices. The Japanese raiding Chinese tombs during the war have woken up these warriors, and they are now hellbent to take back the treasures of the tombs they guarded. They wield crossbows, swords, and spears and are immune to magic, but otherwise are sort of just generic low-level constructs.

Tikbalang (CR 4 Medium-size Fey)
Tikbalangs are horse-headed trickster spirits from Filipino mythology. In the incarnation Weird War II presents, they've been made incorporeal for some reason, have selective invisibility, and can use what the game calls "Spell tricks":

Horrors of Weird War II posted:

The range of possible pranks is nearly limitless. The effects only ever do subdual damage and never last more then a day. War Masters should consider spell tricks an unlimited amount of 1st level spells, with the restriction that they have to be funny
...Well, that certainly is a thing. :stare:

Torture Master (CR 3 Medium-size Humanoid)
A heinous middle-aged German man, the Torture Master has occult powers that allow him to heighten someone's sense of pain and heal them up so that he can torture them repeatedly without having them die. It doesn't state that he is actually allied with the Nazis, simply that have loves doing torture and getting secrets, so he may or may not actually have any ties to Hitler and his crew. The Torture Master advances by character class, which means he is one of the few cases of a unique entity that you can customize.

Trench Foot (CR 2 Small Vermin)
Trench foot is a Nazi-juiced mold that eats through the body. Seeing as this has no actual ability scores, movement, or stats to speak of other than a spore "attack", this really should be classified as a hazard. You only have an initial saving throw against the mold - if you fail that, it progresses until you either die or amputate the infected limb.

Uber Child (CR 2 Medium-size Fey)
The uber children are fast-grown Aryan fairy clones that climb up walls, use any weapon, and...that's pretty much it. They can't even gain class levels.

Uberhund (CR 2 Medium-size Beast) and Uberwolf (CR 3 Large Beast)
Large, clever German shepherds and large, clever wolves, respectively. They're so bland I'm rather curious as to why they weren't in the core book or some sourcebook with a non-monster focus.

Upturned (CR 5 Medium-size Undead)
The shambling upturned are the undead remnants of World War I soldiers that have clawed their way up to fight everyone in World War II. They can catch enemies flat-footed by pretending to be just another part of a mass grave and also exude mustard gas from their bodies. Other than that, though, they're pretty standard zombie types.

Vandal (Humanoid with CR equal to class level - example Vandal is a Grunt 1/Barbarian 3)
The Vandals are Neanderthal-like warriors created through Nazi experimentation. Since Hitler doesn't trust them (big surprise) due to their loyalty to their officers over him, he tends to send Vandals into the most dangerous missions possible. Vandals advance by class level but must have at least one level in Barbarian, and their ability modifiers are +2 Strength, -2 Wisdom, and -2 Charisma. They are pretty much the only non-human species that are specifically called out as being potentially used by player characters, as there is a small section on the potential of having a player be captured and experimented on as part of the Vandal project before escaping back to their unit.

War Geist (CR ? Medium-size Undead)
Whoops, here's another entry that had the Challenge Rating left off. If you couldn't guess from their name, war geists are ghosts of war who live to bring out fear that they can feed on. They gain one hit point every time someone falls for the hallucinations of the terrors of war that the geists create, and they can also induce fatigue through continued use of their hallucinatory powers.

Wehrmacht Needler (CR 5 Medium-size Humanoid)
Yet another entity that can take class levels...odd that we're starting to actually get a flow of those so late in the title. Wehrmacht needlers are crazy German soldiers who have decided to coat themselves in warding runes before plunging spikes and needles into every part of their body, making them a porcupine-like walking defensive emplacement. Their spines are damaging in close combat, and on top of that they are immune to non-magical subdual/nonlethal damage and have damage reduction. Ever helpful, there is a suggestion from the text that they should be fought in tight corridors and potentially have their spikes laced with poison.

Yena (CR 4 Medium-size Shapeshifter)
The yena is an occultist who can take the form of a hyena. They're found scattered throughout Africa and the Middle East, preferring to live lives either as hermits or as manipulative powers behind the throne, and at least some of them have joined up with the Nazis or local fascist groups. Yenas are natural spellcasters that can innately cast as a 3rd level Sorcerer, and in hyena form their bone-crushing jaws can allow them to deal Strength damage on top of HP damage. Yena can take class levels, typically either Sorcerer to augment their innate spellcasting or some form of charismatic and coercive class.

Also, I'm kind of baffled at that name. There are real world legends of people who become hyenas or hyenas that have magical powers, like the bouda and the kaftar, so why not use one of those instead of hyena without the H?

Yofune Nushi (CR 7 Huge Magical Beast)
These giant one-eyed eel monsters are pretty much the only supernatural creature used by the Imperial Japanese Navy rather than kept strictly by the Kuromaku. Their skin secretes an acidic slime and their huge size means that they are quite physically dangerous, and on top of that three or more yofune nushi within a mile of each other causes a storm to rage around them.

Zombie Master (5th level Human Sorcerer)
These guys are simply, as stated above, humans with 5 levels of Sorcerer that happen to have learned two unique abilities. One is the ability to create a paralytic powder that can be blown at enemies, while the other is the art of the living dead. When raised, these unique zombies are immune to turning and regenerate health. The only way to kill a zombie master's living dead creations is by dismembering the body and putting each part to rest in a different grave or filling the corpse's mouth with salt.


And with that, we are finished with Horrors of Weird War II. Feel free to vote on which Weird War II sourcebook you want to see next. Your options are...

Dead From Above: Airplane rules.

Africa Korpse: Italians, engineers, Mighty Whitey the prestige class, and trying to juggle Africa-Korps-as-Lawful-Neutral with Nazi zombies.

Hell Freezes Over: Russians, shamans, and :drac:.

Land of the Rising Dead: Sailors, Aussies, Japanese, and demon-worshipping jungle savages.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Pththya-lyi posted:

Hey gently caress you good luck kittens are awesome, and are much less ridiculous than Axis Apes and zombies and whatnot. :colbert:
Then they should have given them actual stats instead of a half-done job. :smug:

It also seems that we have a winner, as :ussr: Hell Freezes Over :ussr: has swept the voting board.

Part 1: Chapter 1's Prescient Naming
Introduction to Chapter 1, skills, and feats
Our introduction to the Russians in Weird War II is a brief statement about how Russians used lovely weapons and inferior tactics and only won battles because of sheer numbers, followed by the introduction of SOPA. No, not that SOPA, this is a book from 2003. These guys are the Soviet Office of Paranormal Activity, the Russian equivalent of the OSI. SOPA is ddifferent from their western counterparts in several facets - they are not tied to the Sons of Solomon since they betrayed them during Stalin's Great Purge, they only accept people who actually killed a Nazi paranormal entity rather than just people who have seen them, they hoard magical items a lot more frequently, and their atheistic bent means there are fewer Chaplains. Once World War II ends and the Cold War begins, the changing tide will lead to an occult war between the OSI and SOPA.

Second up are new skills and feats. The skills are Ammo and Explosive Manufacturing (you can make bombs, Molotov cocktails, bullets, or artillery shells), Knowledge-Politics (it's a Knowledge variant), Skiing (a very specific fusion of Jump and Tumble), and Winter Survival (should probably just be new uses of Survival). The initial feats are mostly pretty lackluster bonuses to either melee or firearms combat, but there are two that are noteworthy - Party Member gives you a bonus to Diplomacy checks and promotions as long as you are interacting with the Communist Party, while Tank Immobilization lets you use flamethrowers, Molotov cocktails, or antitank guns to specifically target a tank's suspension and more easily deal critical damage to it.

We also get our introduction to weird feats. While they didn't appear in the core rulebook for some reason, they appear in every sourcebook other than Horrors of Weird War II. Weird feats are, as their name implies, weird - some sort of supernatural stimulus has given your character a freaky power. There are four specific ones presented for Hell Freezes Over: Below Zero Resistance gives you cold immunity but makes you have to do Fortitude saves or take nonlethal damage in temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, Bullet Proof makes you immune to non-critical bullet shots from anything smaller than a 20mm bullet, Propaganda Prophet lets you cast mass suggestion on crowds after long speeches but makes you a target for the Communist Party if you aren't saying what Stalin wants you to say, and Vodka Healing lets you heal 1d6 points of damage for every 12 ounces of vodka you drink.

Character Classes
Before we get into full-on new classes, we get some archetypes for classes from Weird War II. Unlike the class archetypes you'd expect frm 3.5, however, Weird War II's archetypes are more often than not just glorified equipment packages.
  • Dog Handler: This archetype is for the Grunt, Medic, and Scout classes. You get a dog as an animal companion, but are otherwise pretty much a standard member of your class.
  • NKVD: An archetype for Grunt or Officer that reflect a character that is part of Stalin's secret police. The only actual benefits are some free equipment and a few extra class skills, though. :shrug:
  • Partisan: The Partisan is an archetype specifically for the Resistance Fighter. It ups the Resistance Fighter's hit die size from d6 to d8 and their "safehouse" can actually include an entire village or a lonely chunk of forest or swamp, but their forged papers are less effective.

As for actual new classes, there are three.
  • Cavalryman: Average rather than full Base Attack Bonus progression, good Reflex save progression, and a class feature that lets him use his horse as a living shield are the only things that really differentiate the bonus feat-spamming Cavalryman from the bonus feat-spamming Grunt, Officer, or Fighter.
  • Commissar: While his Fortitude and Reflex save progressions are very poor, the Commissar has average BAB progression and great Will save progression. He also gains two notable class features in addition to bonus feats: one is the ability to :commissar: without repercussions, while the other allows him to make Knowledge (Politics) checks to impose a mind control ability on his subordinates.
  • Shaman: Shamans are dedicated natural spellcasters who have a guardian spirit that they must emulate in their clothing and revere in their magic. With strong Fortitude and Will save progressions, they tend to be made of tougher stuff than most spellcasters, but they also have a lot of restrictions in that they have to wear specific items for specific spells - a shaman must have a drum if casting a spell with a verbal or somatic component, must wear gloves to cast touch spells, etc. Guardian spirits grant domains similar to gods, with the example Siberian guardian spirits being Gray Wolf (Animal domain), Reindeer (Good domain), Brown Bear (Healing domain), Arctic Tern (Soul Travel domain), and Yeti (Weather domain). As long as a shaman has a staff, he can also transform into the image of his guardian spirit once per day. Shamans also gain access to helper spirits (20 presented overall for Siberian shamans) that grant them a specific spell-like ability, two spell-like abilities, or a spell-like ability and a skill bonus/feat once per day. Some examples include Earthworm granting soften earth and stone, Muskrat granting endure elements and reduce, Husky granting animal friendship and resist elements, and Weasel granting confusion.

Prestige classes are a lot simpler. The OSI Adept, OSI Operative, and OSI Chaplain are renamed SOPA Adept, SOPA Operative, and SOPA Clergy, and there's a new prestige class called the Guardsman. With d12 hit dice an full Base Attack Bonus progression, the Guardsman is meant to be the party tank. On the downside, they only have some bonus feats every other level and no unique class features to make them stand out as anything but "the tank".


Next time: chapter 2's equipment and chapter 3's :ussr: history.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 2:

Chapter 2: Ordinance and Equipment
New gear related to the Russians and the Russian front starts out our small but required pair of chapters in the review.
  • Russian Vehicles: Mostly tanks with a smattering of other artillery and one support vehicle. Statistics are provided for the BA-64B, IS-2, ISU-122, ISU-152, KV-1, KV-1S, OT-34, SU-100, SU-122, SU-152, T-34 Model 1943, T-34/85, and a generic leased American truck.
  • Russian Weapons: The Nagant 1895 and Tokarev TT33/34 are presented for pistols, the Model 1930G and Tokarev SVT-40 for rifles, the PPSh 1941 and PPS 1942 for submachine guns, the Maxim gun, DP 1928, DShK 1938, and SG 43 Gpryunov for machine guns, and the RPG-43 and F-1 frag grenade for explosives. None of them have particularly exceptional stats compared to Allied examples of similar weapons.
  • Russian Planes: The Lavochkin La-5FN, MiG 3, Yak-3, Yak-9, Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik, Ilyushin Il-4, Petlyakov Pe-2, and Tupolev Tu-2 are provided as aircraft supplementing the standard Allied ones found in Dead From Above.
  • German Vehicles: The Axis decided to push into this chapter a little bit as well, with a few vehicles that heavily featured on the eastern front. New stats are provided for the PzKpfw III, PzKpfw IIIL, and Sturmpanzer IV "Grizzly Bear".

Chapter 3: The Great Patriotic War :ussr:
Time for a history lesson! This chapter starts with an explanation of the non-aggression pact between the Soviets and the Axis, as well as how it cracked with the Winter War of Russia and Finland. There's also a bit of smugness about Stalin supposedly not quite expecting the German assault on Russia:

Weird War II: Hell Freezes Over posted:

Hitler even made his obsession for living space known 16 years before Directive no. 21 in his book Mein Kampf(My Struggle), '…to guarantee to the German nation the soil and territory to which it is entitled on this earth, we are bound to think first of Russia and her border states.' Stalin obviously wasn’t a big reader.
"Heh, clearly Stalin had no idea about Hitler's psychotic tendencies and wasn't a good reader. :viggo: I mean, it's not like we Americans ever underestimated Hitler."

After that gloating, the discussion further heads on to talk about Hitler's hubris and refusal to listen to Goebbels' statements about how simultaneously attacking Russia and the UK was a bad idea, the delay of the Russian conflict thanks to Mussolini getting the Axis into a fight with Greece and Yugoslavia, the beginning of the German assault and Operation Barbarossa, Leningrad, the winter offensive, Stalingrad, and most of the other general points of the eastern European front up to the Red Army rolling into the Reichstag at the end of the war. What we really care about is the alt-history stuff, though. One of the most repeated points is the topic of vampires. In Weird War II, Hitler's biggest goal is to transform himself into a vampire, and there's no shortage of them in eastern Europe. One of the big plot points for SOPA in the siege of Berlin is that rather than committing suicide like in our world, Hitler gets his vampire formula and bolts from Berlin, leading to a climactic final fight between Russians and vampire Hitler at the Swiss outpost that leads into the Hollow Earth. The Hollow Earth itself may or may not be a cleanup mission in and of itself, as it's posited that more than a few Nazis carved out their own small empires within the savage realm of dinosaurs and Neanderthals found beneath the Alps.


Next time: New Nazi NPCs, the Finns, :drac: and other eastern European vampire lords, hags, and yetis.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 19:16 on Jun 1, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 3: Chapter 4's Fang Fascination
It's time for the most notable chapter of Hell Freezes Over, entitled Eastern Opposition.

Additional German Opposition
While the core rulebook's German NPCs were heavily based with generic SS soldiers, Hell Freezes Over gives much more specific groups. Details are given on the Eisatzgruppen (the monstrous regiments that doled out most of the ethnic cleansings of the Nazi ranks), the Berlin guards of the Volkssturm, the infamous Hitler Youth, and non-Nazi but pro-Axis nationalist groups such as those from Finland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. The specific ones statted out are the Eisatzgruppen soldier (Grunt 6), Eisatzgruppen (Officer 9), Hitler Youth (Grunt 1), Volkssturm (no class levels), Finnish soldier (Grunt 2), Finnish officer (Officer 5), minor Axis soldier (Grunt 1), and minor Axis officer (Officer 1).

In real life, the Nazis were willing to give Hungary the ownership of Transylvania as punishment for Romania's Allied allegiances during the first World War. In Weird War II, however, the purpose is a more sinister attempt to keep Hungary and Romania at each others' throats while the Nazis sneak in and hunt for vampires for Hitler's vampire serum. They also have their eyes on scattered vampire villages in frosty Siberia and the artifacts created and hidden by various ancient and powerful vampires. One of the vampires you might encounter is, of course, :drac: himself. Vlad Dracula is tied to several supernatural creatures at once rather than just the vampire, as it is said that he sought an audience with the Devil himself while astride a dragon, and that some blood mages attempt to do the same.

New Monsters for the Russian Front
Hell Freezes Over gives us a total of 11 new monsters.
  • Baba Yaga (CR 4 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid): The monstrous hag witch that lives in a chicken-legged hut, famous through many Russian folk tales. She also happens to hate Germany for past and current feuds with her witch kin and can be convinced to aid the war effort. She has frightful presence, a paralyzing gaze attack, spell-like abilities of a wide variety from fire and water magic to illusions and debilitating powers, a special wand charged up with hold person, a mortar and pestle that can fly, and her infamous hut. She also advances by class levels that you as the GM choose, which is why she is so surprisingly low level.
  • Bannik (CR 3 Medium-size Outsider): Banniks are spirits of the bath house from Russian mythology, spending most of their time just sort of chilling in their house of choice and sometimes playing pranks on foreign bathers. They can be pissed off fairly easily, however, as lying, boasting, swearing, loud singing, excessive talking, and sex in the bath house all draw a bannik's ire and leads to hot coals being thrown around. As far as game stats go, the bannik has a fear aura and a load of illusion and mind-affecting spell-like abilities and can gain class levels.
  • Corrosive Rot (CR 7 Huge Plant): A vaguely humanoid heap of rotting vegetation, the corrosive rot haunts fetid swamps and bogs such as the Pripyat Marshes. They are willing to eat pretty much anything that gets within range of their flailing vine-tentacles - animals, people, vehicles, doesn't matter. It has the equipment to do so as well, as its tentacles are just a way of leading prey into a twisted maw that deals 1d6 bite damage plus a whopping 4d8 acid damage.
  • Exploding Corpse (CR 4 Medium-size Undead: Zombie + flammable gasses and liquids. Hitting them enough leads to a big 12d10 damage boom.
  • Grave Bane (CR 6 Huge Undead): Another creature in the fine Weird War II tradition of "monsters that are actually more or less hazards". The grave bane's only ability is to bestow a curse on someone that causes them to seek out and kill the highest-ranking officer that took place in the execution of the grave bane. Given that grave banes are only made from Jews, Roma, Slavs, and others murdered by Nazi eugenics brigades, however, I can't see how it's that much of a curse for any good-aligned character.
  • Gutter Rank (CR 1 Tiny Aberration): These freaky kidney-looking creatures slither around in sewers and other dark, wet places in search of small prey such as rodents. If they're startled by a larger creature such as a human, however, they'll latch on and start injecting foul gasses into the nearest organ. If it happens to attach near the heart or brain, it's a save-or-die effect. Woo.
  • Hate Feeders - Poltergeist (CR 4 Small Outsider), Possessor (CR 4 Medium-size Outsider), and Manifestation (10 Huge Outsider): The hate feeders are three forms of dark human spirit made manifest. Poltergeists are mostly known for telekinetically throwing objects around and other spell-like abilities based around property damage and harassment, possessors are souls from Hell that require a human body to possess in order to remain on Earth, and the manifestation is the result of the two combining into a writhing column of pure hatred. The manifestation has exactly 666 hit points :haw:, is immune to turning, and cannot be killed unless it is struck by a dispel evil spell. Its offensive powers are just as dangerous, cloud kill, black tentacles, reverse gravity, and a fear aura being just icing on the amorphous pseudopod-slamming cake.
  • Ice Ooze (CR 7 Huge Ooze): It's an ooze that is camouflaged in ice and snow and has cold tentacles. Hooray, I guess.
  • Yeti (CR 6 Large Magical Beast: Known by other local names such as the chuchuuna and almas, the yeti is a large tribe-dwelling primate found in highlands from the Caucasus to Siberia and down to the Himalayas Mongolia, and China. In addition to being brutes in melee, they are capable of letting out a paralysis-inducing howl and using stealth-related spell-like abilities.


With our trip through the frozen hell being over, the Weird War II books left are Afrika Korpse, Dead From Above, and Land of the Rising Dead. Which one comes next is up to you.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

wdarkk posted:

I'm a bit disappointed in Hell Freezes over. Baba Yaga having whatever class levels the GM things would be best is good, but it's really missing some of the more creative stuff. I mean Lysenko is around for this, where's the weird hybrid plant/animal monsters?
Sadly, Hell Freezes Over is probably the second blandest of the Weird War II books, with Dead From Above being the first.

I plan on doing Afrika Korpse next, though, which has cultural appropriation packaged for player characters and trying to untangle "we want Rommel and his corps to be Lawful Neutral" with "we have Nazi zombies rawr".

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 1: Chapter 1's Appropriation Station

Welcome to Afrika Korpse, the Weird War II sourcebook that focuses on the North African conflict of the early war. This means we're going to be getting a lot of heat, sand, Italians, and Rommel worship. Like any journey, though, it starts with a step, and that step is of course the character options chapter.

Starting Packages
A list of regiments found in the Allied side of the North African conflict. As they are basically meant to be a quick list of items, skills, and feats for a GM to give a 1st level NPC from that regiment rather than any new game rules, we'll just skip past it.

New Skills and Feats
To start off actual new content, we begin with a few new skills. Entrench lets you roll to create cover, Observation and Assessment is a rather stupid skill that is basically a Spot check and Knowledge check rolled into one new skill, and Wireless Telegraphy lets you correctly use telegraphs and is thus probably the only of the three that is actually warranted as a new skill rather than new use of an old skill.

For new feats, there's mostly a lot of sand acclimation going on. Arid Acclimatization ups the lowest temperature considered to be extreme heat for you, Desert Defenses grants skill bonuses to Demolition, Hide, and Entrench in the desert, Desert Fox is the same but for Listen, Move Silently, and Spot, Sahara Lore is the same thing for Knowledge and Gather Information, and Find Water helps you more easily find water. There are a few interesting unrelated feats, however. The Elan feat grants a bonus to Will saves and melee charges while also lowering the penalties suffered when using pistols, shotguns, or sub-machne guns in melee combat, the Honest Face grants you a bonus to Diplomacy and Gather Information as long as you don't lie or deceive, and then the Gone Native feat....wait, the what?

"Weird War II: Afrika Korpse posted:

You exhibit an affinity for local customs, get along easily with natives, and know enough about their ways to pass yourself off as one of them, especially among those unfamiliar with their culture (although blonde hair and blue eyes might impose a penalty).

The feat would almost be serviceable for its primary use, which is a collection of skill bonuses when interaction with a culture you are innately familiar with. You could have called it Cultural Studies or something. But no, it also grants a bonus to duping non-native people who don't have the Gone Native feat because you're just that convincing as another ethnicity.

At least the weird feats this time don't have anything quite as awkward as that. Mine Sense lets you detect mines nearby but forces you to make a Will save or become paranoid and cower when you find them, Radio Head lets you hear radio transmissions telepathically but dulls your actual senses of hearing and sight, Rune Tattoo grants you a +2 bonus to any ability score other than Charisma but causes you to suffer a -2 Charisma penalty due to an unsettling aura about you, Solar Healing lets you heal faster in sunlight but deprives you of even standard natural healing in darkness, and Trembling Hands makes your hands shiver to warn you of a potentially dangerous action but obviously causes penalties to skills related to working with your hands during that time.

New Prestige Classes
  • Fitter: While this prestige class has piss poor Base Attack Bonus progression, it makes up for it with good Will save progression and abilities that focus on letting your character customize mechanical equipment, repair vehicles more efficiently, and even repair otherwise unrepairable critical failures to keep a vehicle going longer than it should be able to. You have to be Australian, British, or a New Zealander to take the prestige class, though, so apparently no other nations in the world have vehicle techs quite as good.
  • LRDG Officer: Rather than being a variant of the Officer base class, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) Officer is a prestige class that doesn't really grant much more benefits than staying straight-up 20 levels of Officer. It grants bonus feats like an Officer, has average BAB progression and save progression for all three save types, has some extra bonus languages the regular Officer can't learn, and gets a +3 bonus to Listen and Spot checks against aircraft.
  • Minefield Engineer: These combat engies focus on demolitions and night operations, getting darkvision, the Elan feat's benefits for free, and the ability to call in specialized demolition vehicles known as flail tanks. They're otherwise pretty average.
  • Native Guide: This prestige class focuses on maxing out the benefits of the Gone Native feat. Joy. It keeps increasing the bonuses the Gone Native feat provides, grants the Lay of the Land feat for free, gives two ranks of sneak attack, and increases the character's diplomatic influence with the native people.
  • Signaler: You get access to a radio and high frequency direction finding equipment as your class features. Don't you feel special?


Next time, we go through the remaining three chapters of the book. Afrika Korpse is surprisingly short.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Alien Rope Burn posted:

You may think after Set "oh no, they can't just be making Anubis into a generic evil guy too", and I just want to say oh yes they can. He's the god of death! The god of transition! The god of the unknown! Anyway, he was the son of Osiris and helped kill him. Wait, kill him? Isn't that pretty much the precise opposite of his role in the myth, where he helps rebuild Osiris? Well, whatever. He's obviously way cooler as a generic necromancer with a puppyhead on.
Even books that are otherwise pretty good about deities seem to have this huge hangup when it comes to death gods. Considering that you are reviewing what is probably the worst of the three RPGs involving Egypt being discussed right now, I can't say I'm really surprised that Rifts Africa does the same thing.

Evil Mastermind posted:

NEXT TIME: Pulp Powers and Gadgets...Torg style!
I'm hoping for robot scorpions as one of the gadgets.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 2: Of Rotting and Rommel
Chapter 2: Ordinance and Equipment
Most of the new equipment added this time is related to Italy, though there's also some more German material.
  • Weapons: The new firearms are the Modello 89B and Beretta M1934 pistols, the Carcano Modello 91/24 rifle, the Breda M38 machine gun, and the SRC Modello 35 grenade. None of them have particularly notable assets compared to standard weapons.
  • Generic Equipment: Want stats for flimsy cans, jerry cans, magnetic compasses, san channels or sand mats to aid vehicles in a rut, or a sun compass? Well, they're here. There are also notes on clockwork detonators and pencil fuses for explosive.
  • Vehicles: I hope you like tanks, because there's a lot of them. Germany gets stats for the Panzer IB, Panzer IIC, Panzer IIIG, and the SDKfz 9 halftrack, Italy gets stats for the Command M41 recon vehicle. M13 tank, and Semovente M40 tank, and the Brits get the A13 and A15 Cruiser tanks, a fitter's truck, a Long Range Desert Group modified jeep, a LRDG light truck, the Marmon-Herrington armored car, a signal van, the Matilda III tank, the Valentine II tank, and the Vickers light tank.
  • Aircraft: Germans get the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch recon plane, Italy gets the Caproni Ca309 Ghibli bomber, Fiat BR20 Cicogna transport, Macchi MC200 Saetta fighter, and SM79 Savoia Sparviero recon bomber, and the Brits get the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV bomber, Bristol Bombay Mk I bomber/transport, and Westland Lysander recon plane.

Chapter 3: Operational Overview
The prerequisite GMing chapter starts with a timeline of the African conflict from Italy's declaration of war to Rommel's departure from northern Africa, but quickly segues into actual game rules. These start with talk about the harsh terrain of northern Africa. The muddy traps of salt marshes, rugged passes of desert mountains, and minefield-laden scrub are only made worse by blistering heat in the day and bitter cold at night or the threat of sandstorms. Indeed, if your character happens to be an arcane spellcaster, there is a 5th level spell called summon khamsin that lets you whip up a hot sandstorm to throw at your foes. It does lead to some awkward misunderstanding if you recall that the bestiary happened to have a monster called the khamsin as well, though.

The third section of the GMing chapter is focused on places to go and people to see. After noting the basics on potential African bases of operation during World War II such as Cairo, Casablanca, Tobruk, Tripoli, and Benghazi - the last of which has an adventure hook for a special forces group to invade it and take out forces controlling it, which may be awkward to modern audiences - there's a laundry list of big names in northern Africa on both the Allied and Axis sides. The one who gets the most :words: is, of course, Rommel himself. Not only does he get two pages of exposition compared to a few paragraphs for men such as Patton, Rommel is the only named historical figure of the lot that gets a stat block. He's a Lawful Neutral 17th level Officer, if you were curious.

Last are a collection of new NPCs. While the majority of these are your standard Grunt 1 or Officer 4 with specifically desert-themed skills, feats, and equipment, some NPCs of note are the completely fictional Special Salvage Group Mages. These guys are the classic Lawful Evil Nazi blood mages that love to torture people, mutate them, and raise a bunch of zombies. Rommel is stated to have taught them the ways of desert warfare and allowed them to infiltrate standard German infantry units, but somehow he's still totally Lawful Neutral guys because his units didn't do all the evil zombie stuff. They just facilitated it, that's totally different, right? :v:

Chapter 4: Bestiary
  • Aajej (CR 8 Huge Elemental): These charming fellows are giant bloodstained whirlwinds created by the life force of mass deaths seeping into the sand and connecting with elemental wind. They're basically a whirlwind hazard that happens to be capable of intelligent planning as far as stats go.
  • Cipher Imp (CR 2 Tiny Outsider):[b/] These minions of Hell are summoned by Nazi blood mages to spy on Allied communications. They are capable of understanding any language that has ever been spoken by the human tongue, which means they are more or less a direct plot device for the villains discovering a Signaler character's relayed plans. Their only method of combat is their claws, which have a poison that deals Dexterity and Wisdom damage. There is a 3rd level Adept spell supplied to summon one as well.
  • Colossus (CR 4 Large Construct): 10-15 feet in height doesn't really scream "colossus" to me, but whatever. These guys are guardian golems that look like statues of pharaohs and gods of old Egypt. The text says that Muslims have wiped out most of them that aren't in extremely remote or forbidden places because they are graven images. Other than having the ability to produce a fear effect when they suddenly spring to life, they are pretty standard punchy-slammy-damage-reductiony stone golems.
  • Corpse Mine (CR 2 Medium-size Undead): Do you need another zombie suicide bomber besides the ones that were in Horrors of Weird War II and Hell Freeze Over? Well, here's yet another one.
  • Flugzeuggeist (CR 4 Large Aberration): These vaguely human-shaped hulks made out of burning plane parts are flammable and spit molten shrapnel at foes. The text says they are demons, but they are statted as the Aberration type. :iiam:
  • Ghul (CR 3 Medium-size Undead): It's a D&D ghoul plus a fear aura. Yay.
  • Ienpu (CR 2 Medium-size Magical Beast: These wild-eyed magical jackals are stated to be the servants of Anubis, ferrying souls to the afterlife. Of course, they happen to be Neutral Evil and will accept killing someone with their jagged fanged bites as "ferrying into the afterlife", so...yeah.
  • Judgement Beast (CR 12 Huge Outsider): These Lawful Evil spirits resemble the soul-munching hippocrocolion of legend, Ammut. They can be summoned with a 9th level spell and a copy of the Book of the Dead, but only in lands that were once part of the Egyptian empire, and pretty much just bite and trample things with their huge bodies.
  • Sand-Rot Mummy (CR 2 Medium-size Undead): Unlike standard D&D mummies, these guys have no Intelligence and are basically zombies that happen to be dried up like jerky. They even have the whole "partial actions only" aspect.
  • Supply Rat (CR 1/3 Small Animal): A dire rat by any other name would be just as diseased.
  • Twisted Hulk (CR 7 Huge Construct): Flaming tank mechs animated by vengeful ghosts. They have an obscene damage reduction 50, meaning that any attack other than their weakness will pretty much be shrugged off. Fortunately for the heroes, their weakness happens to be good old H2O.
  • Wireless Hound (CR 4 Large Magical Beast): In spite of the name, these "hounds" are actually giant crested porcupines with ogre-level Intelligence. Their spines vibrate painfully in the presence of radio waves, which drives them into a rage and causes them to track down and violently attack the radio emanating the waves. Those that are jabbed with their quills also feel the pain of the radio sensitivity and suffer a -1 penalty per embedded quill to all rolls within 75 feet of a radio. Both the Axis and Allies use wireless hounds as living weapons against enemy radio outposts.


Next time: The bland and the blue as we cover the entirety of Dead From Above in one sweeping post.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
After a long hiatus of attempting to figure out how to make Dead From Above funny, I think I'm going to have to throw in the towel and admit that the final two books of Weird War II aren't going to be getting reviews.

Dead From Above is abysmally boring. It's good from a game standpoint, as obviously aircraft rules are a pretty drat important thing for a World War II game, but from a review standpoint it's just...there. Land of the Rising Dead also has its worst attributes stuffed away in a back-of-the-book adventure, so that's not quite going anywhere either. Long story short: I'd say mark Weird War II as abandoned, as it's not going any further.

As for what I'll be doing next for the thread when I feel up to it, I'm thinking of maybe actually going off the beaten path. Rather than reviewing larger books like we are prone to doing, I was thinking of maybe doing a "snapshots" feature where each post is a collection of multiple little supplements from a specific creator such as Chris Fields. I may also intersperse those with reviews of some third party books for d20 Modern.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Kavak posted:

Can we at least get a snapshot of the adventure? Is it really racist, really railroady, really poorly balanced, etc.?
The adventure involves fighting the Japanese at a port they've built in Papua New Guinea. Seem innocent enough? Well, the endgame involves descending into the "Valley of Death", home to a group of Neutral Evil demon-worshipping headhunter savages (the book even calls them savages). You have to rescue a Dutchman who was captured alongside Japanese soldiers to be sacrificed by the local witch doctor to the crocodile demon the tribe worships.

And the kicker? There are heroic Papuans in the adventure as well...but they're the loyal plantation servants of a rich Aussie. :bravo:

The adventure is also poorly balanced, since you asked. The witch doctor is a level 15 Adept, while the characters for the adventure are stated to be around level 3 to 5.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 00:38 on Sep 28, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
Remember how I said that I'd be trying the idea of vignette-style snapshots posts with a collection of small RPG supplements from one publisher, such as Chris Field? Well guess who I decided would be the best water-tester for the idea :getin:

As I've mentioned before, d20 Modern is my roleplaying game system of choice. Yes, as with almost anything, it's flawed, but it was the first roleplaying game I ever played rather than read, the first I dug deep into, and it has stuck with me in my consciousness. What a shame, then, that I have to give it a snapshots introduction in such a way as this.

D20 Modern doesn't exactly have many supplemental publishers anymore. Some of the most prominent ones either disappeared or jumped ship to either True20 or Savage Worlds, leaving the role of most prominent vanguard of paid supplements for the system to...Chris A. Field. Chris is a roleplaying game freelancer who has managed to net work with five different third party publishers over the years, describes himself as a creator of "innovative and unusual roleplaying games" which I guess is true in the most broad sense, likes Rifts, and is a fan of RPGPundit. He's also pro-choice and pro-creator's rights, though, so I guess we can't call him all bad.

We can, however, call the majority of his work pretty loving insane. I mean, let's quote from the spell list one of his works in progress for starters:

Chris Field posted:

Sexy Furover (restyle a felinoid’s pelt to grant a +1 bonus on sexually oriented Diplomacy checks for a day)

Tit Show (turn armor and clothes transparent for one round, allowing you to activate abilities requiring nudity while wearing them)

Stunning Orgasm (target suffers 1d6 Pleasure and is stunned for ½ that number of rounds, minimum 1 round)

Shahteyan Puberty (female subject gains +2 WIS and CON temporarily, plus an awesome bush)

Anthropomorphize the Problem… And gently caress It (replace any skill check with a DC up to 20 + caster level with a DC 15 Perform (sexual) check instead)

Need I say more?

...Probably not, but I'm going to anyway. FATAL and Friends writers far braver than I have already delved into the depths of the larger sourcebooks of Field's such as the Black Tokyo, PsiWatch, and Otherverse series, but I'm going to do my duty as a cleanup crew for this snapshot post.

Advanced Class Updates
A series from Skorched Urf Studios, Advanced Class Updates consists of supplementals that each deal with one advanced class (basically a prestige class that has 10 levels - for whatever reason, d20 Modern decided to only call 5 level prestige classes by the name of prestige class). While not entirely written by Field, he does make up a brunt of the supplements in this line.

American Nomad: The American Nomad is an advanced class that, in spite of its name, is a worldwide concept: that of the wandering hero who can sniff out problems better than a bloodhound and is hell-bent on solving them. While class is for the most part a defensive-oriented version of the combat-oriented Martial Artist from Wizards of the Coast's core d20 Modern rules, it also has some neat new ideas such as having a small pool of temporary action points that you gain the first time you enter a town that must be used in order to solve that town's problems and the ability to take 10 on Sense Motive checks to sniff out a town's problems. An actually good idea and execution by Field to start us off? Don't worry, it's very much a fluke.

Cold Bringer: A generic cryomancer-type class. Not really anything objectionable, but the only thing that is particularly weird about it is that you need to be able to speak Russian to take the class. Not be part of a Russian experiment as stated by the flavor text of the class, just speak Russian.

Digital Sorcerer: Another unironically interesting idea in the form of a spellcaster that augment themselves with subdermal USB ports that allow them to "download" their spells rather than store them in a traditional spellbook. They are also capable of creating EMP fields and eventually using their computer and magical knowhow to teleport to the source computer of a website. The new spells that they get, however, show them to be huge assholes. These include a spell that deals untyped nonlethal damage when anyone in the spell's radius does an action the Digital Sorcerer deems as rude, a shoplifting spell, a spell that causes the target's gut flora to rebel and eat them from within, and a spell that deals more damage the wealthier its target is. The piece de resistance, however, is the spell Biological Imperative, where classic Fieldian hallmarks begin to show up on our journey:

Digital Sorcerer Spell List posted:

You take basic control over the target’s bodily functions. With a shouted word, you can induce vomiting, uncontrollable bowel movements, heart palpitation, short lived seizures, orgasmic contractions, or many other bodily functions. The victim might experience extreme pain or pleasure, but is virtually crippled by this vicious, invasive spell.

Forbidden: And with this, we plunge head-first into full-on Classic Chris Fields with an advanced class for a BDSM mage! With this class, you too can conjure psychic chains, force a save-or-die with your gimp mask, and even become immortal and raise people from the dead. I...I...what? :psyduck:

Gravity Slinger: A generic telekinesis-focused advanced class, which Field of course decides to "spice up" by having the introductory fiction for the class involve a pedophile rapist having his bones snapped one by one by a little girl gravity slinger.

Grendel Spawn: An advanced class that emulates the powers of cannibal giants such as the wendigo and is in no way related to the monster of the same name from Wizards of the Coast's Urban Arcana campaign book. Field, being Field, decides that a good choice of introductory fiction to get us to want to play this class is an ad executive Grendel Spawn eating a hooker and some FBI agents.

Hollowpoint Monk: Congrats on making a perfectly useable gun-fu class awkward by unironically using the term "Chinaman".

Innocent: I was sure I mentioned this class back when Bitchtits was doing the rundown of Black Tokyo, and it turns out I was right.

I posted:

The character is basically an adult-child that can change their age category at will and learns such class features as magic that cannot be used to kill unless you spend an action point, a de-aging touch attack, and the crafting of clockwork soldiers.
One thing I forgot to note back then was that you can permanently give up your adult life and get to be an ageless member of the Fey creature type in exchange.

Lightweaver: A class that lets you manipulate light and eventually transform into a being of light. Field, of course, describes transforming into pure energy as being like an orgasm. Because why wouldn't power be associated with sex at this point?

Luchadore: If you were expecting a mundane fighting-based advanced class, you came to the wrong place. Field's Luchadores are all monster hunters whose masks give them superpowers such as punching incorporeal creatures and being able to intimidate undead even if they are mindless.

Mind Reaper: A Psiblade by any other name would make psychic blades just the same.

NeoWitch Avenger and Guardian: Anti-witch hunter witches, proving that even classes get into evolutionary arms races. The NeoWitch Avenger is an offensive class with blood magic and Constitution draining powers, while the NeoWitch Guardian is a defensive class that can use a broom as both a flying tool and a quarterstaff. Surprisingly unoffensive classes for Field, even if the name "NeoWitch" is a really stupid-looking without a hyphen.

Perfect Archer: Green Arrow: the advanced class. This would be our best shot at replicating the balance of good game design and non-Fieldian fluff since the American Nomad, but the introductory text describes a teenage Perfect Archer as "faggoty". Our man Field is pretty good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Prince of Doggs: Male rappers who literally become ravening beasts. The class features have such creative names as "Foam at Da Mouth", "Dark Eyez", and "Muzzle 'Em". I don't think I even need to make snarky jokes at this one, it speaks for itself.

SLAM (Subspace Looped Armor Materialization) Soldier: This advanced class is apparently meant to be for the PsiWatch setting, so I have no idea why the hell it wouldn't be in a PsiWatch sourcebook instead. This class is entirely focused around letting you teleport in requisitioned gear. :tootzzz:

Scion of Masada: You are a Hassidic Jew who has become a mystic assassin for Mossad. You are so Jewish that Jewish martyr ghosts flock to you and give you superpowers that grant you strength when fighting elementals, demons, and conveniently undefined "enemies of Israel". You can also get possessed by martyr spirits to temporarily have no need to use your lungs (wha?) and have automatic critical hits with your sacred martyr-knives.

Sentai Spectrum Ranger: You're a Power Ranger. That's about the only way to say it. For whatever reason, rather than giving a list of archetypes you could apply, the type of Power Ranger role you get is defined by your suit color, like so:

Sentai Spectrum Ranger posted:

Pink Sentai Rangers are compassionate and sexy healers. They’re often flirtous and seemingly shallow, but they’re committed to getting all their troops home in one peice. Add Bluff and Treat Injury as class skills. The Pink Sentai Ranger recieves a +1 bonus on all Bluff checks made against someone who finds her sexually attractive, and recieves the Surgery feat.
This also confirms that Chris apparently has issues with "I before E except after C".

Shotgun Surgeon: The Perfect Archer advanced class, but with shotguns instead of bows.

Skele-Teen: An advanced class that gives you a collection of abilities associated with the whole "zombie lord" archetype. This would be okay on its own, but Field decided that the class would be restricted to teenagers that committed suicide after years of abuse and rape from their parents. :wtc: is with you, Field?!

Soul Collector: Wasn't this an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Unbound Soul: You just spent 10 levels in an advanced class to get the powers of a ghost instead of taking a template. Bet you feel pretty dumb after that, huh?

Voidsparrow: Another class stated to be meant for PsiWatch, this time one that lets you be a space-flying cyborg who fights starships and pretends to be a bird-person. There's also a class feature that lets you get a marriage bond with another member of your "flock", because Field.

Giants in the Earth
After all of those advanced classes, I'm going to wrap this up with a bestiary of all things. If you couldn't guess, I love dinosaurs. Few people don't. Chris Field certainly doesn't, given he decided to do a dinosaur bestiary.

Somehow, though, he managed to gently caress the simple premise of a dinosaur-centric monster manual up. I'm fine with reasonable speculation such as those that show up in the excellent palaeontological book All Yesterdays by Darren Naish and John Conway, but Field apparently decided that there was a point where logic just hinders you. While some of his speculation is quite reasonable, such as having the fish-feeding dinosaur Baryonyx have a septic bite thanks to rotting flesh caught up in its ragged teeth, there are a few that must be noted for how far beyond logic they go.

Microraptor: A small theropod from the now famous feather-filled fossil beds of China, Microraptor has sailed on a breeze of popularity thanks to having four wings. Field, however, thinks that rather than being one of the evolutionary innovators of flight, Microraptor was an amphibious creature that used its four wings to paddle through prehistoric swamps.

Carcharodontosaurus: While Field makes a big statement at the beginning of this tome that his dinosaurs are totally up to date and realistic, he decides to give the large north African apex predator Carcharodontosaurus this special quality:

Giants in the Earth posted:

Mindless (EX): The Carcharodontosaur has one of the smallest and most basic brains in the dinosaur kingdom. It is a mindless, predatory eating machine, driven purely by instinct. The creature is completely immune to all mind-influencing effects, as if it were vermin. The dinosaur cannot be communicated with, trained or influenced.
I'm sure there were even some early 20th Century palaeontologists that would have felt embarrassed at that line of dialogue.

Spinosaurus: Spinosaurus: is pretty upfront about what it probably did in life: big "fishhook" claws, crocodile-like head, and namesake sail produce a picture of a well-adapted giant coastal carnivore. Field, however, claims that Spinosaurus should be a saurian cheetah that runs at high speeds and leaps at its prey.

Triceratops For this dinosaur that needs no introduction, Field decides that a "logical" hypothesis is that its horns leak neurotoxic venom. Not only do venom-producing bones tend to have clear grooves, but why the hell would you even think that? Is the idea of a 30 foot long cow-rhino from hell goring you to death not deterrence enough?


And with that, you've probably had more Chris Field in one dose than you would have ever desired and the first test run of the "Snapshots" style FATAL and Friends post has been made. Whether it's a successful idea or not, I'll probably be doing a more traditional post that deals with a singular book next time.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 06:57 on Sep 29, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

It's not often that you see the creators of a product tied to a big name company end up moving to a third party label to make more stuff for that same product: the Game Mechanics are a strong exception to this. Made up of a team of Wizards of the Coast contributors and freelancers including JD Wiker, Stan!, Monte and Sue Cook, Marc “Sparky” Schmalz, and Rich Redman that gathered forces after fears of corporate layoffs, TGM produced four major supplements (nine in PDF form, as they are split into parts as PDF) to the d20 Modern ruleset. And really, who better to start with for non-Fieldian d20 Modern guides than with the people who created it in the first place? Our first TGM title will aptly be the first one, the Modern Player’s Companion, a sourcebook comparable to the whole “Player’s Handbook 2+” idea Dungeons and Dragons went with. I will be reviewing them in the Modern Player's Companion and Modern Player's Companion II format the PDFs provided rather than as one single book like the print version, as this is easier than putting both into the same post more efficient given that they were printed as PDFs first and book versions second.

The Occupational Class of ’04
It turns out that a book titled “Modern Player’s Companion” ends up focusing mostly on materials for the player. Shocking, I know. The first of these options you’ll end up getting are occupations. One of the big things about d20 Modern is that role is not tied to class alone. Occupations in a nutshell: in addition to base, advanced, and prestige classes, you have your occupation, which reflects what job your character did or is doing or what lot in life they happen to have. These grant you the choice to add extra class skills, feats, Reputation, and/or wealth on top of what your class would normally get. This means that while it's logical to have the Military occupation for a character who has levels in Smart Hero and Soldier, you could just as easily have the same classes combined with the Domestic occupation to make Peyote the War Gardener or whatever.

Out of the Open Game License-approved d20 Modern books from Wizards of the Coast themselves, we ended up getting a strong headstart with 33 occupations: Academic, Adventurer, Athlete, Blue Collar, Celebrity, Creative, Criminal, Dilettante, Doctor, Emergency Services, Entrepreneur, Investigative, Law Enforcement, Military, Religious, Rural, Student, Technician, and White Collar from the d20 Modern Core Rulebook, the Apothecary, Hedge Wizard, Novitiate, Psychic, Shadow Scholar, and Squire from Urban Arcana, and the Astronaut Trainee, Colonist, Drifter, Gladiator, Heir, Outcast, Scavenger, and Transporter from d20 Future. The Modern Player’s Companion adds seven more to the mix to patch up holes the creators saw in the occupation list.
  • Bohemian: You’re a hedonistic fellow who isn’t a fan of The Man, man. You get four extra class skills chosen from those social, crafting, or knowledge skills such as Bluff, Forgery, or Sense Motive, as well as a +1 bonus to your Reputation score.
  • Bureaucrat: One of the few occupations in the title I see as being kind of superfluous, as the Bureaucrat is more or less a specialized version of the White Collar occupation. The main difference is that while the White Collar occupation gets you two new class skills related to what you'd typically associate with desk work and offices combined with a +3 Wealth bonus increase, the Bureaucrat has the two new class skills but only receives a +2 bonus to Wealth, eschewing that extra +1 dough in favor of being able to gain either Educated or Renown as a bonus feat.
  • Craftsperson: This occupation is sort of the bastard child of the Creative and Blue Collar occupations, reflecting a character who works as a plumber, blacksmith, carpenter, or other individual who mixes creating things with lots of manual labor. You get two class skills that are chosen from a mish-mash of crafting- and knowledge-associated skills, the choice of either Builder, Creative, or Gearhead as a bonus feat, and a +2 Wealth bonus increase.
  • Domestic: Your job is to do everyday stuff for other people as a butler, maid, personal chef, or whatever. This manages to net you three class skills that are chosen from what are mostly either hands-on skills like Drive and Repair or intuitive skills such as Diplomacy and Gather Information, but also include a few oddballs like Hide or Concentration. You also get a +1 Wealth bonus.
  • Educator: Another one that seems kind of superfluous, as the Academic occupation from the d20 Modern Core Rulebook specifically states it includes "scholars, professors, teachers, and other education professionals". As with White Collar versus Bureaucrat, there's a tradeoff involved: Academic gets you a choice of three intellectual class skills and a +3 bonus to Wealth, while Educator grants two class skills, a +2 Wealth bonus, and the choice of either Creative, Educated, or Studious as a bonus feat.
  • Politico: Another one that seems like it would have fit with White Collar. Compared to the White Collar occupation, the Politico is pretty crazy: in addition to the two class skills and +3 Wealth bonus of the White Collar occupation, it also grants a +1 bonus to Reputation and the choice of Renown, Trustworthy, or Windfall as a bonus feat.
  • Tribal: You're part of an isolated tribe, crazy survivalist clan, or some other group that goes beyond even the scope of the Rural occupation. You get three class skills from a varied pool of potential skills associated with survival, intuition, or athleticism, a +1 Wealth bonus (why?), and the choice of Animal Affinity, Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Athletic, Guide, or Track as a bonus feat.

Advanced Classes
While I won’t be listing them out this time as they don’t really have any “shame, shame, overlap” I feel from some of the occupations, it is worth noting that d20 Modern’s OGL “core books” provided a total of 44 advanced (basically always10 level prestige classes that are usually meant to be taken at your fourth character level) and prestige (always 5 level....erm, well, prestige classes...that are meant to be taken around your tenth or eleventh character level) classes. Even with that many, they somehow managed to not really have an overlap problem with the advanced classes the Modern Player's Companion provides.
  • Adept: Like the Mage advanced class but don't want to be shoehorned into an Intelligence stat-buffing dork? Well, here's the class for you! The Adept is an arcane spellcaster that is Charisma-based rather than Intelligence-based and casts spontaneously rather than with a spellbook - sort of the d20 Modern equivalent of a Sorcerer to the Mage's Wizard.Unlike the poor Sorcerer, though, Adepts get more cool toys like their own familiar, no need for material components, and the ability to supercharge their magic to the power of spells three spell levels higher.
  • Criminologist:[/b] While detective-themed classes often jump off of the Dedicated Hero base class from what I've seen, the Criminologist stands out by actually being most easily accessed by the Smart Hero base class. In addition to contacts on the street and lots of shiny case files, one of the most interesting class features the Criminologist can get is one called Burning the Midnight Oil, which allows you to make a Will save to overextend your awake time in the game without suffering the fatigued condition penalty.
  • Dead Shot: This is the only class in the Modern Player's Companion that I'd say outright sucks. Other than two class features focused on added concealment miss chances and added ranged weapon damage respectively, all of the Dead Shot's class features are "here, have this class feature that works exactly like the feat of the same name."
  • Enforcer: While d20 Modern already has several hard-hitting melee advanced classes such as Martial Artist, Street Warrior, and Thrasher, the Enforcer is unique in that it is focused on both the social and physical aspects of being a crazy skull-cracker. While the Enforcer grants class features like increased melee damage and Barbarian-style rage, it also has ones that boost your Intimidate check by your Reputation score, and the capstone ability lets the Enforcer call in a mob of rough and tumble locals to help out in a brawl.
  • Gentle Warrior: A martial artist advanced class that, unlike the Martial Artist advanced class, focuses on dodging and counterattacking rather than brute force fists. On top of that, its capstone ability is the power to do a Vulcan nerve pinch...which would be more impressive if that ability hadn’t been made into a feat in d20 Future.
  • Opinion Maker: This advanced class turns you into a particularly compelling politician or pundit. And like an actual politician or pundit, the class is good at stacking the deck in its favor - one of the main class features is an increase to your Reputation score on top of the Reputation score by-level increase every class gets, and it just so happens that the Opinion Maker's other class features tend to focus on passing Reputation checks. These other abilities include getting a boost to Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks against crowds of people (+2 for 16 or more, +4 for 15 or fewer), the mundane version of a compulsion spell, and free NPC lackeys.
  • Profiler: The Profiler advanced class takes the Gather Information, Knowledge (Behavioral Sciences), and Sense Motive skills and pushes them to a precognitive extent. This goes from identifying a criminal's motive to figuring out their relative character level and eventually to the capstone ability of the class - at 10th level as a Profiler, you get a check against 15 + the perp's total character level to figure out their appearance, education, income, criminal record, occupation, clothing habits, choice of victims, social skills, traumatic experiences, and basically everything about them. Of course, if you fail the check, you get a false of mix-of-truth-and-falsehood misleading mess that will probably get you rightfully accused of being a horrible person.
  • Survivalist: This advanced class is, unsurprisingly, all about using the Survival skill to survive in the wilderness. It's a nice class, but it's basically entirely hinged on your GM actually caring about environmental hazards and the harshness of nature

There are a total of 26 new feats in the Modern Player's Companion, of which five are expansions on the Dodge feat tree and another five are reprinted from the gun nut equipment sourcebook UltraModern Firearms. While some of the feats are pretty boring or straightforward things such as Bull's Eye (spend an action point to automatically confirm a critical hit with a firearm), Haggle (you can lower or raise the price of an item you are buying/selling by one Purchase DC if you make a successful Bluff or Diplomacy check), or Improved Dead Aim (a +3 bonus on a full round of aiming a gun shot over Dead Aim's +2 bonus! :v: ), there are some interesting ones worthy of note.
  • Collector: Your nerdiness pays off, as you gain a +5 bonus on Wealth checks to pull something related to your hobby out of your rear end for narrative convenience. Getting this feat is probably the only time having 5 ranks in the Knowledge (Popular Culture) skill will ever actually pay off for you.
  • Cross-Training: Having second thoughts about your initial ability scores? Have an enforced "must roll your ability scores in order" rule from an rear end in a top hat DM? Then this is the feat is for you, allowing you to lower one ability score by 2 to gain 1 ability score point in two unrelated abilities.
  • Expert Advice: Your basically wrote the book on a subject, and your fame isn't unwarranted. You get to exchange the bonus from an ability score to a skill to instead be your Reputation bonus, which is pretty drat useful given how much you can boost your Reputation bonus with the right class compared to ability score modifiers. A good example would be a Charismatic Hero 3/Opinion Maker 10 with an ability score of 18 (the typical upper limit for a human): an 18 in Charisma is a +4 ability score bonus, while that same character has a Reputation bonus of +16.
  • Good Impression: Basically the opposite of Expert Advice, this feat is you bullshitting people into thinking you are an expert at things instead of actually being one. You make a Reputation check against the opponent's relevant Knowledge check (or general Intelligence check if they don't have the skill in question), and if you're successful you get a bonus to Bluff checks against them on the subject.
  • Martial Arts Weapon Proficiency: This feat requires the Combat Martial Arts and Defensive Martial Arts feat, but grants you proficiency with three exotic melee weapons. Now, this may not sound quite so good at first, but when you think about it the normal route for the same results would be taking the Archaic Weapons Proficiency feat followed by taking the Exotic Melee Weapon Proficiency feat three times (one for each weapon). You're saving a feat slot in the end and arguably having better entry feats for it anyway.
  • Moonlighter: This is perhaps the most interesting feat in the entire sourcebook. You can only select this feat at your first character level, but it lets you select a second occupation and grants you the bonus skills, Reputation bonus, and Wealth bonus it grants on top of the ones from your normal occupation. The only thing you don't get from the second occupation are bonus feats, but d20 Modern isn't exactly a system where you are jonesing for bonus feats anyway.
  • Star Employee: Another feat that augments your occupation. Taking Star Employee grants you a +1 bonus to Reputation and Wealth as well as letting you gain another bonus skill from your occupation on top of the number of bonus skills it already grants.

Notes and other GM fun
Class Combinations
Arguably something for GMs looking for NPCs more than the players, there is a section in the Modern Player's Companion that introduces what the designers call a class combination. This is basically a "recipe" on specific base classes, talents, and feats to combine together to make a specific character concept instead of trying to head straight for an advanced or prestige class. The recipes provided are for an archaeologist (Smart/Dedicated with a few levels of Charismatic spattered in), bouncer (Tough/Strong/Charismatic), counselor (Dedicated/Charismatic with a few levels of Smart), entrepeneur (Charismatic/Dedicated with a single level dip into Smart Hero to get more skill focus), lawyer (Smart/Charismatic with a couple of levels in Dedicated), lay clergy (Dedicated/Charismatic with one level dip in Tough Hero to get the talent Remain Conscious), pro athlete (Strong/Fast with a couple of dips into Tough), Reporter (Dedicated/Charismatic), and rock star (almost entirely Charismatic Hero, but with three one-level dips: a level in Fast Hero to get the talent Evasion, a level in Dedicated Hero to get the talent Empathy, and a level in Tough Hero to get the talent Second Wind).

While there are a few modern amenities eschewed in the d20 Modern Core Rulebook such as laser pointers and duffel bags that get their stats here, the brunt of new equipment in the Modern Player’s Companion is made up of survival gear. Canteens and flasks, rain gear and waders, and fishing gear are all given for those adventurers who happen to not stay in the city all the time. Perhaps more relevant, however, are the idea of equipment packages. These are quick-select packages for a specific starting occupation that have a list of items for standard Wealth and further items added at Wealth bonuses of +5, +7, and +9 – they’re stated to be used for quick player character creation, but I could see them being just as good for fast NPC gear. The occupations that get listed equipment packages are Adventurer, Criminal, Law Enforcement, and Technician.

Notes of note
While technically not a segment unto themselves, this post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the designer’s notes that are found in green text blocks scattered around the title. These are "why did we do what we did?" posts on the design process of d20 Modern and include such topics as the purpose of occupations (I already explained this), why having a combo of base classes instead of heading into an advanced class may be better for your character concept, and the reasoning behind what is made an advanced or prestige class feature versus what is made a feat (wider access [feats] vs. exclusivity [class features]).


Next time: the Modern Player’s Companion 2.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 18:57 on Oct 4, 2013


Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

AccidentalHipster posted:

Do you mind posting some of the funnier pictures with their captions? I remember there being a few gems, like the one with the Archaeologist and the Rock Star nerding out together over a skull.
Sure, I'll add 'em at the beginning of the Modern Player's Companion 2 post as soon as I start that.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

But who would take on such a terrible curse? Even I haven't been able to get myself to look at Pathfinder supplements after writing it up.
Does this mean I can snipe Pathfinder Bestiary 2 through 4 from you after I'm done with The Game Mechanics' supplements?

Majuju posted:

Fear not, friends. I shall shoulder this terrible burden. I shall become the very embodiment of Moondog Greenberg, Tough Hero.
Moondoog Greenberg: daredevil, bruiser, spaceman, and true 'Murican hero. :patriot:

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