I'd jump in on that Alternity if I weren't maybe playing in a Sunday night game in meatspace.
|# ¿ Apr 1, 2013 18:26|
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2023 12:32|
Chapter 2: Civilians and Operatives
The character creation chapter also opens with a few paragraphs of fiction, about a woman named Isabella. She always loved swimming, surfed without a wetsuit, and as a adult, felt the sea calling to her. It’s not until she’s pregnant with her first child that she discovers she’s a hybrid Deep One, and while it’s too late for genetic therapy to prevent her transformation without wrecking her psychologically, she has choices to make for her child. It’s a surprisingly good insight into the setting for just a few paragraphs, because there doesn’t seem to be any judgment or shock on the part of the doctor--just the difficult prospect of finding out she’s inhuman and has to decide what choice to make for her child.
The opening section is called “Creating Heroes” and reminds us that yes, characters are heroic, campaigns are called “series” and gameplay is meant to be “cinematic.” It gives some good advice that can be summed up as “The Director and the players should discuss what kind of game it’s going to be and what characters are appropriate.” It refers you to Chapter 7 for advice on designing a
We aren’t told how the Unisystem works yet, but this chapter more-or-less explains that you’re rolling Attribute+Skill, you want both to be high, and what levels are considered “poor,” “talented,” “professionally skilled,” etc. This is what a character creation chapter has to do in order to not piss me off.
If you’ve ever played any Unisystem game, you know that the Director has three options for starting power level, which are basically “Heroes, Experienced Heroes, or Normals.” Angel has Champions, Veterans, and Investigators, Army of Darkness has Heroes, Experienced Heroes, and Primitive Screwheads, and so on. The options here are Operatives, Veterans, and Civilians.
I won’t bore you with the point breakdowns, but Eldritch Skies PCs are formidable, as befits characters in a pulpy movie or TV show. Even a “Civilian” has enough points to buy the Special Forces Quality or be a polymath genius, and Operative characters can be both of those things or put super-powers on top of it. Veterans aren’t just heroes but hero sandwiches; it’s like playing an action movie hero or a video game protagonist several sequels in, when they’ve become multiple flavours of badass. I wouldn’t want to run a Veteran campaign, at least not for players new to the setting.
Like I said, Unisystem is an Attribute+Skill+die roll setup. The attributes are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Perception, and Willpower.
The attributes don’t make complete sense to me. First, I think there’s a good argument for combining Strength and Constitution into a Body attribute. Strength, I believe, only gets used for hand-to-hand damage, Life Points, and athletic activities that rely primarily on power, like swimming and climbing. Only the most detailed systems really try to model how important overall body strength is to doing all kinds of Hero Stuff effectively without getting injured, loving up, or collapsing from exhaustion. Aside from that, I have only one complaint--the Attributes correspond roughly to D&D’s ability scores, but we aren’t told in character creation which Attribute is important to social skills.
The Attributes are self-explanatory, but there are also derived attributes. Life Points are hit points, and when you reach 0 you’re mortally wounded--you get Strength+Constitution, times four, plus 10. Speed measures movement, and they actually bother calculating how many kph you can run, before telling you that you can run (Dex+Con) yard per second and (Dex+Con)*5 yards per turn. Yawn.
An Attribute at 1 is poor, while 2 is average--most people will have most of their attributes at 2 with the occasional 1 or 3. Level 3 is above average, 4 is “a near genius” or a “top amateur athlete,” and 5 is the domain of prodigies and Olympic athletes. Level 6 is the “true human limit,” with only a handful among billions. It says people with “freakish” attributes can achieve level 7, but I don’t know if that means supernatural characters or super-rare talents like Einstein and people who set longstanding Olympic records.
He’s not human, I tell you!
Qualities and Drawbacks
Qualities are an odd mix that will be nonetheless familiar to anyone who’s played another Unisystem game, or anything from the new World of Darkness--they encompass social advantages, special training or abilities that don’t quite fall under any skill, career “packages” that gives you boosts to attributes and skills, and supernatural abilities of all kinds. Drawbacks are weaknesses that give you extra points. Let’s go over the fun ones.
Addiction (1-5): A variable Drawback with options ranging from smoker to caffeine freak to alcoholic to heroin addict. This one actually gets a full page with a chart and discussion of impairment, potential consequences, and the process of breaking addiction. The mild stuff is only worth 1 point, and rightly so; there’s really nothing to worry about at all unless you get stranded someplace where you can’t get your fix. (See “The Beast of the Breakroom,” by Clark Ashton Smith.)
Amnesia (2): It can’t be a “cinematic” game without this old chestnut. You’ve lost part of your memory for any of a number of reasons, and while it doesn’t affect any die rolls, the Director can impose new Qualities and Drawbacks if you start to recover your memories. Expect all your players to take this Drawback; it’s basically 2 free points with the potential for exciting mystery prizes if the Director’s feeling generous.
Clown (1): You can’t help but making jokes, even when it’s inappropriate. There’s nothing about a Willpower roll to resist or anything. A free point to the player who was going to do this anyway!
Covetous (1-3): Covetousness comes in four varieties; greed (money), lechery (sex), ambition (power) and the awkwardly-named conspicuousness (fame). Mild covetousness is another 1-point, free-for-pretending-to-roleplay Drawback that means you spend a lot of time trying to get what you want, while more severe Covetousness requires Willpower rolls to avoid stupid risks or even naked betrayal to get what they want. Consider this if your Series calls for a corporate executive or a serial rapist.
Emotional Problems (1-2): This is mostly more free points for roleplaying. Who knew that becoming a badass secret agent could be compensation for depression, anxiety, or a fear of commitment? (Seriously.)
Humorless: See “Clown.” The opposite of that, except the part about getting a free point.
Mental Problems (1-3): Unlike the Emotional Problems, these mostly represent personality disorders and psychosis and have concrete mechanical penalties associated with them. Antisocial cruelty, delusions, obsessions, phobias, and paranoia for all your shell-shocked veteran needs.
Minority (1): I mention this because it doesn’t say what’s considered a minority in 2030. There’s clearly still prejudice, but it seems like that would depend on where you are. It’s automatically part of the package for Deep One hybrids.
Obligation (1-3): I only bother mentioning this one because it’s part of a lot of “package” Qualities. An Obligation to follow an organization’s rules isn’t worth anything by itself. People like cops and OPS agents who have to obey rules in risky jobs have 1-point Obligations; the 2 and 3-point versions are reserved for people like spies, cultists, and high-level operatives and soldiers.
Astronaut (4): You’re an experienced spaceperson. You automatically have Space Training (which removes penalties for zero-G action), +1 Constitution, +1 to a Mental Attribute, and +1 to Acrobatics, Engineering, and Pilot. The only downside is an automatic 1-point Obsession with double-checking everything to make sure it’s safe. A Good Quality.
Athlete (3): This doesn’t require you to be a pro athlete. You get +1 to each Physical Attribute, +1 to Acrobatics and Sports, the downsides being a 2-point Obsession with training and fitness and needing to purchase at least another level of Acrobatics and Sports.
Attractiveness: This can be a Quality or a Drawback ranging from +5 to -5, and the effects are dramatic--a bonus or penalty to all your attempts to persuade someone (usually with the Influence skill). Ugliness can even induce fear checks.
Contacts: Rated from 1 to 5, the suggested categories are criminal, governmental, supernatural, and professional. A contact who only feeds you rumours and gossip is worth 1 point, minor favours (like a night of shelter or running a background check) are worth 2, and allies who will really step in and assist you cost more.
Criminal/Insider (2-3): A versatile package deal, Criminals get +1 to any Attribute, +1 Crime, and +1 to a skill related to their field. On the other hand, they have a unique weakness that requires a Willpower roll to avoid a chance at a quick buck. Insiders are organized criminals, with 2 free points of criminal Contacts but a 1-point Obligation to their syndicate.
Danger Sense (1): You get a free Perception+Notice test to be aware if a situation is dangerous if you didn’t already know that.
Eidetic Memory (1-2): The 1-point version gives you a photographic memory. The 2-pointer gives you a +1 bonus to any skill roll where memorizing facts is useful, or a +1 to +3 bonus to any rolls specifically about memory. This is a really cheap deal on a bonus that can apply to a lot of rolls. There’s something about maybe not being able to forget things you’d like to (like seeing monsters) but, of course, no rules for it.
Fast Reaction Time (2): Finally, another one for the gunbunnies! +1 Initiative and +1 on fear tests. Why cower in a corner when you can shoot the Lovecraft mythos in the face?
Genius (5): Another fat package deal that’s totally worth it. +2 Intelligence, +1 to Perception or Willpower, 4 points in academic skills, and a 2-point Obsession with “your latest project.”
Hard to Kill (1-5): +3 Life Points and +1 to Survival Tests per level. You’re flat-out told to put any leftover points into this Quality.
God drat it, this installment is already late and now I have to finish typing it with two fingers taped together? gently caress me for missing that tackle.
Iron Mind (3): You’re flat-out immune to psychic powers and mind-affecting sorcery. On the downside, you can never be psychic or benefit from helpful telepathy.
Law Enforcement (5/8): Another good package. All cops get +1 to a physical Attribute and +1 to Crime, Driving, and Guns, and are assumed to be active-duty with legal authority and a 1-point Obligation to the force. The 8-point version makes you a federal or international agent, with 2 points of Gov’t Contacts, 2 points of Rank, free Espionage Training, and a stricter Obligation. You can be a former cop for fewer points, but just getting the stat package is boring, no?
Occult Investigator (4): +1 to two mental Attributes, +2 Occultism, and +1 to Fear Tests. The only catch is having to make a Willpower roll to resist opportunities to learn about the supernatural. Who can resist a sneak peek behind the mask of Nyarlathotep?
Resources (-5 to +5): The writers wisely give summaries of various income levels in 2011 dollars and trust the Director to make decisions about the inflation of the NeoEurocredit or whatever. PCs who don’t take any level of this are presumed to have a gross income of $30k, and the Quality ranges from -5 (the clothes on you back and a stolen shopping cart) to +5 ($5 million in assets and making $2.5 million a year). You can actually spend even more points, getting another $5 million per point, but you’re flat-out told that no one gets to play a billionaire in Eldritch Skies. Job creators aren’t welcome in Obamathotep’s America.
Special Forces/Soldier (3/9): Soldiers get +1 to any Attribute, +1 Guns, Military Training, and 2 points of skills related to their specialty, along with 2 points of Gov’t Contacts and a 2-point Obligation. Special Forces get +1 to 3 Attributes, +2 Guns, +1 Brawling and Archaic Combat, 2 points of specialty Skills, 3 points of Gov’t Contacts and a 3-point Obligation, since the military runs their life and sends them to die trying to give Shub-Niggurath a pregnancy test.
Special Training (1): These are a little odd; they mean that you don’t take penalties for certain highly specialized stuff that’s out of the purview of normal skills. Espionage Training lets you use surveillance equipment, Military Training is for military vehicles and heavy weaponry, and Space Training eliminates the penalty for zero-G movement.
Spy (5): +1 Willpower, +1 to another Attribute, +1 Guns and Crime, +1 to 2 specialty skills, 3 points of Gov’t Contacts and Espionage Training. You’re also stuck with a 3-point Obligation and mild Paranoia.
Deep One Hybrid (6): You’re part Deep One, but not enough to ever “take to the water,” in Lovecraft’s words. Maybe you got genetic therapy, or maybe your ancestry isn’t strong enough--or maybe you will transform, just not for several decades. You might have fine, skin-coloured scales, or the “Innsmouth Look” with bulgy eyes and-
His age was perhaps thirty-five, but the odd, deep creases in the sides of his neck made him seem older when one did not study his dull, expressionless face. He had a narrow head, bulging, watery-blue eyes that seemed never to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularly undeveloped ears. His long thick lip and coarse-pored, greyish cheeks seemed almost beardless except for some sparse yellow hairs that straggled and curled in irregular patches; and in places the surface seemed queerly irregular, as if peeling from some cutaneous disease.
--yeah, I’d take the scales. Either way, you get +1 Strength and Constitution (which can go up to 7), Low-light Vision, Amphibiousness, a point of Natural Armor, and you’re comfortable in temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. On the downside, your minimum Hyperspatial Exposure is 1, and you have the Minority Drawback.
Half-breed Ghoul (6): You have a ghoul parent, or some ghoul ancestry which mysteriously expressed itself. You look totally human, except for slightly sharper teeth and eyes that range from yellow to orange. Ghouls live somewhat longer than humans, and half-breeds have a cast-iron stomach and a taste for “well-aged meat.” You get +2 Strength, +1 Constitution, Low-Light Vision, Acute Senses (Smell) 1, Resistance (Poison/Disease) 1, and your Strength and Constitution can go up to 7. The negatives aren’t so bad: Minimum Hyperspatial Exposure is 1, and you have to take a 1-point Mental problem of Cruelty or Violent tendencies.
Next time, on Eldritch Skies: Character creation, part 2. Psychic powers, magic spells, Augmentations, skills, and the writers actually spend some money on artwork!
Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 04:44 on Apr 4, 2013
|# ¿ Apr 3, 2013 22:55|
I think I had basically the same feeling as you; reading this I thought that it was mostly right, but just...off. You're totally spot-on about heroes based on vaguely-explained mental powers or cutting-edge science being a staple of the Golden Age.
What I find most striking about Golden Age heroes is that you have a whole lot of guys who are at a Batman/Captain America level, and a surprising number of guys who have the vast, poorly-bounded powers of the Spectre and the Black Widow, and actually not a whole lot of guys in-between. Captain America, the Black Marvel, the Black Terror, the Detroyer, and the Blazing Skull were all guys whose powers were basically "really good at punching out gangsters and Nazis," but not so tough that they couldn't be knocked out by a surprise attack or an accident, so they can be tied up and the story can actually have a dilemma.
|# ¿ Apr 9, 2013 16:18|
I don't mean to be a pedant but I think the term that encapsulates what you're talking about is "romantic racism." I'm going to go ahead and call out White Wolf as the undisputed masters of it; as evidence I submit WoD Gypsies, Tradition Book: Akashic Brotherhood, Kindred of the East, Hengeyokai...
Remember that the first bit of non-character non-comic writing in the book was "All Asian mythology is wrong." Then the rest of the book goes on about how steeped in tradition Asia is and how the spirit world is stronger here because the people still believe. They're trying to resolve the book's theme of Asian Exceptionalism with their own understanding of the myths and it gives me this really uncomfortable sense of reverse racism.
It's like they dump a bunch of stern warnings on you about how you shouldn't make assumptions or believe stereotypes about other cultures, then they immediately indulge in the most fanboyish assumptions and stereotypes they can get away with. Have you ever seen Steven Seagal's Marked for Death? He devotes a couple scenes to showing that Jamaica and its culture have been overlooked, stereotyped, and exploited by richer nations, and for the rest of the movie he's waging war on patois-speaking, dreadlocked Jamaicans who deal drugs and practice voodoo.
Holy Jesus gently caress, nobody's done WoD: Gypsies! I'm calling it; hello next review.
|# ¿ Apr 9, 2013 16:57|
|# ¿ Apr 9, 2013 17:57|
Fianna? Well, I guess I don't want White Wolf slandering My People as besotted football hooligans, except that I became one.
Which is too bad, I really like some of the game elements of Kindred of the East or Hengeyokai better than the core games, but they're unable to treat the cultural material well. Of course, with Werewolf's splats as they are, casual racism is kind of hat-in-hand as it is (Fianna, Get of Fenris, Silent Striders, Wendigo, etc.).
|# ¿ Apr 10, 2013 05:15|
In Okinawan kobudo, using a turtle shell shield and a spear is actually A Thing, but Idunno about horseshoe crabs. I think the guy is supposed to be some kind of Aquahoplite.
|# ¿ Apr 11, 2013 04:55|
I think that's because the source subject matter for Werewolf is a lot weaker than for Mage or Vampire. In Western myth, werewolves are either baby-eating Satan-worshipers (premodern) or people who have a curse (movies) which doesn't make for a culture you can play in. I'm not well-versed in Asian and African lore, but I don't think their myths of werefoxes and wereleopards make them out as very playable character options.
Thinking about it I find the choices of subject matter for Werewolf splats generally just... bizarre and random. Feminist werewolves! Hobo werewolves! Irish werewolves! It's like any random goddamn thing they thought up just got thrown into the game and who cares if it's interesting or makes sense.
The version of the story I heard was that the owner of WEG and those other companies had a policy where profit was redistributed among his businesses, so that the successful businesses propped up the ones that needed some help, and that when the shoe company crashed, it took everything else down with it.
OJ Simpson killed WEG.
What was bad about Shatterzone? It came out in '93.
Some of WEG's late-era titles were just...I mean, Shatterzone? Paranoia 5E? Tales From The Crypt? Necroscope? TANK GIRL?!? Men In Black had some potential (like Ghostbusters, it's a great premise for an ongoing campaign as the animated TV version demonstrated) but the execution was awful.
|# ¿ Apr 12, 2013 16:45|
All the "World of" books were like that. I don't think Tank Girl or Species were available as boxed sets with the Masterbook included, but Tales from the Crypt definitely was. My box is long gone, sadly, as is one of the awesome blood-spatter d10s that came with it.
Apparently, after some searching TORG was the system upon which Tales From the Crypt and Tank Girl were based upon. I honestly don't remember anything being egregiously bad about Tales From the Crypt but its actually missing the mechanics to run the game as it was based upon the MasterBook system which you had to purchase separately.
|# ¿ Apr 12, 2013 19:22|
Character creation, Part 2: Psychics, Sorcerers, Augmentations, and Skills
Eldritch Skies makes the smart move by making special powers and cybernetics Qualities that you purchase with your starting points--you can’t spend a few points on wealth and buy a bunch of cyberware with money, and you don’t get a pool of “spell points” or suchlike that effectively gives you an arsenal of powers for the cost of one or two.
Psychic Sensitivity (3): You have to buy this in order to be psychic. It comes with two automatic abilities: you can roll Perception + Psychic Art to sense someone’s true emotions, and you can telepathically talk to other psychics within 100 meters. It requires no roll (you’re just talking), but if you don’t share a common language, communication is in images and impressions, and no good for discussing complex and abstract topics. You can also make a Willpower + Psychic Art roll to communicate simple concepts (like “Run!” or “Help!”) to non-psychics. Pretty much all aliens are at least a little psychic, but there are rolls and stiffed penalties involved in attempting to communicate usefully with them. All psychics have minimum Hyperspatial Exposure of 1.
Clairvoyance (4): You see visions of other people and places, and sometimes possible futures. You can try to have a vision deliberately by making a roll and touching a person or object related to what you’re investigating, but many are unintentional result of intense emotional events--clairvoyants regularly have visions of crimes and disturbing incidents. You roll to determine the clarity of the vision, but most are short flashes of insight, and it comes with a built-in Spidey Sense to protect you from imminent danger. You can see this as a Danger Sense that comes with a very useful investigation power, or an expensive Danger Sense with an invitation for the Director to use you as a plot device and gently caress you over; your call.
Emotional Influence (4): With touch or eye contact, you can provoke any kind of emotion in your target. It’s not mind control; they react as they normally would. It normally works for 15 minutes, but if the emotion is out of place (I’m so mad about these cupcakes) it fades quickly.
Insight (4): With a Perception+Psychic Art roll, you can learn intimate truths about a person--not thoughts or memories, but things like psychological Qualities and Drawbacks, desires, hopes and fears, and if they’re insane, possessed, or secretly an alien.
Mind Probe (4): This is the one that actually allows you to read thoughts--depending on how well you roll, you can read surface thoughts, extract information, analyze personality, or read memories. You need touch or close eye contact, however, so it’s not like you can just casually foil the Director’s plots by reading everyone you meet.
Psychic Link (1): You have a psychic bond with another character. You can roll to communicate with them telepathically from any distance. Non-psychics can have this power with a psychic partner.
Psychic Visions (1): You have dreams and visions of the future, which are ambiguous and reflect your current concerns. (Wait, is this actually a psychic power?) This is explicitly an invitation for the Director to drop hints and clues, and you don’t need to be psychic to buy this power.
Psychometry (4): You can get information about places and objects by touching them. Ultimately it’s up to the Director, but you make a Perception+Psychic Art roll and there’s a chart of suggestions as to what you learn, ranging from strong emotions associated with the target recently to elaborate visions of events that happened up to ten thousand years ago.
Undetectability (4): You can cloud men’s minds like the Shadow, and add your Willpower to Acrobatics or Crime rolls to be stealthy. It’s not flat-out invisibility--it doesn’t work on cameras or recording devices, and you can’t running around naked and screaming and wearing a duck on your head and still remain hidden.
That’s it for psychic powers. I kinda wanted more.
Sorcery (4-20): You’re an initiate in the principles of hyperspatial sorcery. Unlike Psychic Sensitivity, this doesn’t give you any automatic benefits, and Sorcery really doesn’t do anything by itself. Sorcery costs 4 points per level because to use it you need spells, which are rated 1-5 and require a corresponding Sorcery level.
Spells (1-3): See above. Spells of level 1-2 cost 1 point, levels 3-4 cost 2 points, and level 5 spells cost 3 points.
Hyperspatial Device (1-8): You have a device that mimics the effects of a spell, up to a level 4 spell. The device has a minimum size and weight, to, from something like a bracelet or pen for a level 1 spell to a heavy briefcase for a level 4 spell.
All the spells are detailed in Chapter 4, so it looks like I’m letting that alone for now. Considering the point cost, I presume “reality-warping magic” is a much more versatile portfolio than psychic powers.
Augmentations are, setting wise, the least important development of alien technology--curing diabetes and cancer is a lot more useful than some weird implanted organ that gives you an adrenaline rush. There are legal, illegal, and don’t-even-think-about-it enhancements. For starters, you can purchase the Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill, Natural Toughness, Resistance, or Eidetic Memory Qualities as augmentations.
Biofilter (2): You’re automatically immune to airborne toxins and pathogens, and you get a +2 to resist ones that are injected, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
Enhanced Time Sense (2): You need Perception 5 and Fast Reaction Time to even purchase this, but it doubles the benefits of the latter Quality. It also lets you roll to perceive things that normally move too fast to detect, like speeding bullets, individual frames or film, or high-frequency noise.
Improved Senses (1-6): There are a lot of interesting options here, ranging up from the cheap and simple low-light vision (1). Infrared (2) effectively lets you see in complete darkness. Sonar gives you a “perfect picture of [your] immediate environment” at 3 points, but there’s no rules for what that means--the 6-point version gives you 360-degree vision. Electrical sense (3) is awesome because it gives a +3 to Science, Engineering, or Crime rolls dealing with electronics. Especially worth mention is Enhanced Sense--it costs 3 points on its own, and requires you to already have Perception 5 and Acute Senses for the same sense, and doubles the benefits of Acute Senses. Let’s see, you can spend 4-5 points on being an Astronaut, a Genius, or an Occult Investigator, or you can be really good at smelling things.
Oxygen Reserve (1): Hold your breath for 30 minutes. David Blaine joke.
Pressure Tolerance (2): +1 Constitution, and you can comfortably move between the equivalent of 9.5km high or 40m underwater without getting sick.
Rapid Healing (1): You heal 3 times as quickly as normal.
Temperature Tolerance (1): You can tolerate anywhere from 0 to 140 degrees without giving a gently caress.
Restricted enhancements are illegal to provide, but not illegal to possess--although you can face discrimination or stiff penalties for using them in the commission of a crime. Having one requires you to take a 1-point Obligation (to whatever organization provided it) or a 1-point Dark Secret.
Amphibious (2): You can breathe water, survive at any depth with no problems, and swim as fast as you can run. (Why is this illegal?)
Boost Gland (3): Now we’re talking. You have a gland which can give you a temporary (10 round) boost of +2 to Strength and Dexterity. You can only use it every 2 hours.
Commando Upgrade (6): This has nothing to do with underwear. You get +1 to all your Physical Attributes, a level of Hard to Kill, and Regeneration.
Electrical Attack: You have electric eel-like tissue in your arms and legs, and by touching someone you can deliver bashing damage or the same stunning effect as a taser. Normal armor doesn’t protect against it.
Enhanced Attributes (1-3): You can raise any Attribute by +1. It costs more if this increases it above 6.
Natural Armor (1-3): Comes in two types, visible and invisible. Invisible isn’t noticeable, and provides 1 point of armor per level. Visible armor gives 2 points of armor per level, but also 1 level of negative Attractiveness as you have leathery skin, scales, or some kind of carapace.
Natural Weaponry (1-3): 1 point gets you sharp teeth and catlike claws; 2 points gets you big-rear end fangs and long claws. Another point makes the claws retractable, but there’s no hiding huge tiger teeth.
Regeneration (2): You heal 12 times faster than normal, getting back your Con in Life Points every 2 hours.
Wall Walking (3): You can climb anything that can support your weight automatically, and move at the pace of a quick walk. As a side-effect, badly-dressed Europeans with cybernetic limbs may shake their fists at you.
Hyperspatial augmentations are seriously bad news. The mi-go themselves don’t understand all the side-effects that implants which manipulate hyperspatial energy can have on human bodies. The only people who have these augmentations are a very, very select few among OPS agents, intelligence agents, US or China special forces, and the most serious criminals in the most serious poo poo.
Attack Field (8 or 12): You have a force field which extends to a maximum of 60 cm from your body, with three settings: “Destroy living tissue,” “wreck electronics,” or “destroy all matter.” The cost determines whether it does 20 or 30 points of Bashing damage.
Defense Field (12): You can create a solid force field--either a wall, up to 10 meters away and up to 4 meters on a side, or a dome centered on yourself, with up to a 3-meter radius. It has 10 points of armor and can take 50 points of damage before it collapses. If it collapses, it only needs 1 minute to regenerate.
Hyperspatial Flight (8): You can fly at 5 times your running speed. The organ produces a glowing shimmer that looks like a four-meter wingspan--stuff passing through it doesn’t matter most of the time, but you can’t fly in tight spaces. Despite the “wings” the implant allows you to hover, move in all directions; etc. as if by telekinesis.
Hyperspatial Manipulators (3-15): You can make one or two “bubbles” of hyperspatial energy to manipulate objects telekinetically. Each level costs 3 points and provides 1 point of effective Strength. And yes, you can punch people in the face with your mind.
Being a cinematic game, Eldritch Skies has very broad, versatile skills--not so much as, say, Savage Worlds, but pretty close, and I like it a lot. If you want to play an espionage agent, you don’t need to buy Stealth, Security, and Streetwise skills, you just need points in Crime.
Unlike Attributes, Skills don’t have a limit, but they do provide vague guidelines. Level 2-3 represents general competency, while 4-5 is “extreme competence.” Anything above that is “true mastery,” for example, a master martial artist would have a Brawling skill of 7-10. Consider how many martial arts “masters” don’t ever actually fight, that’s the worst possible example. It would be more useful to know what skill level you need to be considered, say, a published professor, a pro athlete, or a military pilot.
Acrobatics: This is the all-purpose Athletics skill, and you use it with Dexterity or with Strength at the Director’s discretion on the kind of task. It can also be used for stealthy movement, dodging attacks, and low-gravity movement.
Archaic Weapons: Kind of a silly name, but it does cover all low-tech weapons from knives, swords, and spears to crossbows, throwing knives, atlatls and hungamungas. Mainly uses Dexterity, and it can be also be used to dodge attacks.
Art: You’re instructed to decide which arts your character is good at, and that you should buy extra skills if you want to be a singing, dancing, painting, sculpting puppeteer, but there’s no set limit. Use Intelligence for creating art, Willpower for performance, Constitution for Singing, and Perception for critique. Receiving dreams from Cthulhu is not mentioned.
Brawling: Beating people to death with your bare hands. Like Archaic Weapons, you can use it as a dodge skill. It uses Dexterity, but you can use Intelligence for feints or Perception to analyze someone’s fighting style.
Computers: They make it easy for you: if it’s software, use Computers, if hardware, use Engineering. This covers all common electronics from mobiles to complex sensors. It does cover hardware insofar as knowing what you need to use a device and troubleshooting, but not electronics repair or, say, defusing a bomb. You use Intelligence for programming, finding information, and hacking, and Perception to diagnose problems.
Crime: This really is a very versatile “rogue” skill; it covers everything from picking pockets and locks to cracking safes, disarming security systems, and knowing the criminal underworld. The only exceptions are computer hacking (computers) and conning people (Influence). You use Dexterity for the physical stuff, and Intelligence for identifying criminals and suchlike.
Doctor: Healing injuries and diseases, and installing augmentations. A MD will have a skill of 4 or higher; a surgeon who can do top-shelf augmentations would be 6 or higher. Intelligence is used for treating injuries; Perception is for diagnosis.
Driving: Covers all ground vehicles. Dexterity is used for driving maneuvers. Intelligence+Driving handles general maintenance, but for actual repair you need Engineering.
Engineering: You can build, modify, and repair pretty much anything with this skill; it covers not only mechanics and electronics, but all trade skills, like plumbing and woodworking. You’re told specifically that you can use it to make traps. Perception is for noticing problems, Intelligence for doing repairs or construction, and Dexterity for the really, well, dexterity-intensive stuff.
Guns: Guns, guns, guns, all kinds of firearms and high-tech range weapons. Uses Dexterity.
Influence: The social skill. Intelligence for deception, and Willpower for intimidation. Strangely, good-faith negotiation isn’t thought about.
Knowledge: It encompasses all social sciences and humanities that aren’t art or hard science. You can also use it for local or regional knowledge and lore that wouldn’t be covered by another skill. It’s used with Intelligence with almost everything.
Languages: This is a little different, in that each point represents fluency in 1 language. You roll it with Intelligence for linguistics and deciphering languages.
Notice: It does what it says, and covers not only stuff like “someone is following me” but also things like spotting an obscure reference in a text. Of course it’s almost always used with Perception, but Intelligence is used to remember information that wasn’t important until now.
Occultism: Everything you ever didn’t want to know about aliens, hyperspace, hyperspatial entities, and sorcery, whether it was written by a college professor last month or a raving lunatic last millennium. You need this to cast spells. Intelligence is used to research or recognize an entity; Perception is for identifying creatures on the spur of the moment.
Piloting: Covers anything that sails or flies (including spacecraft). Dexterity for maneuvers, Intelligence for using sensors.
Psychic Art: This is used for psychic powers, but it doesn’t include an academic knowledge component like Occultism. Perception is used to scan emotions, and Willpower to manipulate them.
Science: All of the hard sciences--physics, biology, chemistry, and their branches. I’m loving tired of saying you use Intelligence to invent or analyze poo poo and Perception to recognize poo poo, so no more of that poo poo.
Sports: Covers all sports that don’t properly use another skill (like Acrobatics for gymnastics and Brawling for martial arts). You can use Sports in combat to do very specific things like using a bat as a weapon or tackling an enemy.
Wilderness: This is the survival skill, and also covers dealing with animals.
Wild Card: This your invitation to invent a skill for anything you don’t believe is properly covered by the preceding.
Drama Points represent being able to beat the odds through extraordinary effort, luck, or fate when the chips are down. When you use one, you get a huge bonus to your roll. That’s all we’re told in this chapter, but it’s important because the only edge Civilians have over other character types is getting 20 Drama Points instead of 10.
Do these really need to be covered? Only insofar as they illustrate the setting, and because the designers actually got some art for this stuff. It’s not great, but it’s something.
Independent Sorcerer: A genius-level intellect who got into occult lore, and spent her college years learning the advanced mathematics and computer skills (that’s right) to become an actual sorcerer. She’s investigated cults, and one such incident led to her current phobia. Eventually she got the attention of OPS and became a consultant for their difficult cases.
This character is a Genius with a high level of Sorcery and few spells, but has 9 points of Drawbacks, mainly psychological--she’s obsessive, a pathologically deep sleeper, has a severe phobia of large bodies of water, and has a couple other mild psychological problems. Curiously, she has the Minority (lesbian) flaw, which I didn’t think would be A Thing in a setting where doctors have to tell strict fundamentalists that their great-grandpa hosed a frog-mutant.
OPS Strike Team Commando: This guy went through ROTC and did his tour of duty before he had to get genetic therapy to prevent eventual transformation into a Deep One. Since prejudice limited his advancement in the Air Force, he joined OPS, who trained him for space duty, including advanced combat operations and disaster relief.
So this guy is a badass. Deep One Hybrid, Commando Upgrade augmentation, Astronaut training, Soldier, and high combat skills coupled with very high physical Attributes--and to get all this, he doesn’t need any more Drawbacks than come with his Qualities.
OPS Psychic Spy: A psychic with good people skills and a knack for languages, the spy was recruited by OPS at a young age. She believes in the importance of her work--stopping trafficking in illegal alien technology and weapons of mass destruction.
The psychic has the Emotional Influence, Insight, and Undetectability powers, as well as the Spy Quality and a couple of minor augmentations. Besides her psychic powers, her strengths are in her mundane skills.
Half-Breed Ghoul Cop: This guy isn’t a fancy OPS agent, and he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about his ghoul heritage, he’s just a hardworking cop protecting the people on his beat. He’s started noticing strange people on the street, and strange creatures underneath it, and the reading he’s started doing on occult lore disturbs him.
The cop is a Civilian, and thus not on the level of the Commando, but he’s a pretty well rounded character with decent combat skills as well as a smattering of medical and technical skills.
Civilian Psychic: This character is a good picture of how psychic awakening goes for most people in the setting: She took a test, discovered her talent, and it led to a stable career--in her case, as an art historian who could use her Psychometric powers to authenticate works. Most notably, she has a three-month span of time she doesn’t remember, from when she was authenticating texts for a wealthy collector.
This character is an Occult Investigator, and indeed is more about more-or-less haplessly investigating strange goings-on (and her own past) than using their psychic powers as methodically as the psychic spy. I could easily see this character paired with the ghoul cop in a campaign that’s action-packed but not necessarily action-movie level.
Astronaut: A straightforward character in terms of background: Wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up; did it. She has several minor augmentations for space operations, but most importantly, this is a techie character, with Engineering, Science, and Pilot at the forefront.
Next time, on Eldritch Skies: Chapter 3, Rules and Equipment.
|# ¿ Apr 12, 2013 21:49|
The only times I can think of White Wolf criticizing Dharmic religions (is that the right term?) in the oWoD was some of the creepier poo poo the Euthanatos got up to. I've heard bad things about the Akashic Brotherhood book, and I should reread the Euthanatos book which is pretty good.
I was going to post a hack in the homebrew thread that aped Kult and used the rules. I emailed Fred Hicks to see if it was alright if I could do that and he said he would prefer that the rules engine for DRYH not be posted. Modifications to it are cool, but posting how it works is a no go.
|# ¿ Apr 13, 2013 00:09|
It's going to be a long time before anyone invades Finland again.
Finland doesn't need an army of berserkers, just a platoon of Simo Hayhas.
|# ¿ Apr 16, 2013 00:24|
Are TORG's rules for creating spells and such the same as the Masterbook rules for creating your own "SFX?" Because drat that poo poo is a pain.
|# ¿ Apr 16, 2013 12:37|
I liked the Talislanta stuff quite a lot, actually. I think it's right up there with Glorantha and Tekumel as great alternatives to D&D which are so rich, it's harder to get into them.
|# ¿ Apr 17, 2013 00:57|
And they used the same system for a Tales from the Crypt RPG. Yep, yep.
|# ¿ Apr 17, 2013 18:44|
Are you going to do the TORG supplements? I remember I love the concept of Pulp Cairo, but I was a little disappointed that the superpowers are just a menu of defined, set bonuses to this or that, kinda like the way Advantages in the Masterbook system were divided into Column I-IV levels.
|# ¿ Apr 18, 2013 05:03|
It's a crime to design an Ultimate Megadungeon To End All Megadungeons and not include a room where the floor is a trapper, the ceiling is a lurker, the walls are stunjellies, and 1d3 cloakers hang on a coat rack that is a mimic.
|# ¿ Apr 23, 2013 19:53|
I swear I haven't abandoned Eldritch Skies, but with all the good stuff being covered for F&F right now, I never find the time to actually write for it myself.
|# ¿ May 3, 2013 00:14|
It's Halloween, motherfuckers! Strange things happen on All Hallow's Eve. I shave my beard so my zombie makeup will stick, and I actually start missing not only this thread, but old White Wolf heartbreakers. It's been too long since I trashed someone else's creative output. Mormon Star Wars started a review of this one which he had to abandon, and I don't blame him. My last review, Immortal: the Invisible War, unearthed an artifact of pompous 90s "modern fantasy" design. Continuing the trend of games with one foot in the grave and their head firmly up their rear end, I present:
Look at those loving skeletons! They're having a great time. That lady, though, she's either taking this way too seriously, or deadpanning like a champ until the other three dancers step out from behind her.
In this review I'll be looking at both the 1995 edition, which I bought for $2, and the revised 2005 PDF, which costs $26.80. That's a higher PDF price than anything from White Wolf, or by Greg Stolze, apropos of nothing.
As the Introduction page gladly tells you, The Everlasting: Book of the Unliving is just the first book in a series covering the "Secret World," that is, just like the modern world but with supernatural creatures in human form hiding behind every perpetually rain-slicked street, improbably gargoyle-bedecked building, and impossibly successful goth nightclub. This book covers ghuls (ghouls), vampires (Draculas), reanimates (Frankensteins), revenants (Crows), and dead souls (Boo Berries).
The Book of the Light covers angels, demons, daevas (pagan demigods), grail knights (one, two, five), and Wer (werewolves).
The Book of the Spirits covers gargoyles (sin-eating spirits), manitou (shapeshifting totems), the possessed (spiritual warriors possessing expendable bodies), astral spirits, dream spirits, somnomancers (dream wizards), and leviathans (demon dragons).
The Book of the Fantastical covers dragons (go gently caress yourself), dwarves (go gently caress yourself), elves (go gently caress yourself), goblins (go gently caress yourself), and orcs (go gently caress yourself).
The introduction page also gives an Important Warning that this is all make-believe, and describes the game as "A Series of Legendmaking Experiences." That will be important later because, oh gently caress it, I'm just going to type up the blurb on the back cover:
THE EVERLASTING is The Interactive Legendmaking Experience. It features many new concepts: communal protagonists, customizable rules, gamemasterless options, tips on achieving epiphanies, tips on rewarding guides, dream control methods, opening and closing ceremonies, and Personal Mythology. Legendmaking takes you beyond roleplaying and storytelling to a new level of intensity. Each participant chooses from playing card, tarot card, dice, and freeform options the system personally preferred.
Your journey into the realms of modern-day fantasy, horror, and mystery begins now. Enter the magical world you have always wanted to visit…the one you live in.
You know what? I haven't even reached the table of contents, and I'm totally convinced. If you're a schizophrenic hanging out in a New Age bookstore, I'd bet my Vertigo Tarot deck that this is the perfect game for you.
Next time, on The Everlasting I make fun of the author and probably his mother.
|# ¿ Oct 28, 2013 15:50|
Though we still haven't reached the table of contents, I don't want to go further without singling out the credits page for special attention. Everlasting's credit page goes a few steps beyond the White Wolf convention of in-jokey credits pages that thank people for staying up all night whacked-out on Red Bull to get a book finished.
First, Brown lists the designers with arcane titles, then puts their real job in parentheses at the end of each section. He himself is credited as the "Inventor and Artisan" and "Scribe," meaning he's the creator and author. Other people responsible for this book--sorry, tome--include a Limner Administer (art director), Limners (artists), heralds (graphic designers), Illumination Administers (layout designers), an Illuminator (layout designer), Wise and Noble Oracles (business consultants), Sages of the Secret World (concept credit), and Errantry and Wisdom (all the playtesters).
I believe Crow T. Robot said it best. They might as well credit their stationer, ewer, and vending machine guy! I'll give Stephen Brown credit for remaining Stephen Brown instead of renaming himself something like Ravyn Darkchylde. Aside from that, I suspect he should have saved the legal tender (money) he probably spent on sacred herb (weed) and hired a redactor (editor).
On the same page is a Special Thanks section, which is long and includes some very peculiar mentions. No one is surprised to see Gary Gygax on the list, nor fellow White Wolf alumni Bill Bridges and Phil Brucato. His favourite prose writers include not just Ellison, Bloch, Lovecraft, Moorcock, and Tolkien, but Clive Barker and Anne Rice, while the list of comics writers includes not only alt-darlings like Moore, Morrison, Gaiman, and Wagner but innovative veterans like O'Neil and Straczynski. Then it gets weird.
He thanks The Artist (formerly known as Prince). He thanks George Lucas and Jim Henson. He thanks Shirley Maclaine and Robert Pirsig, who aren't crazy, just busy legendmaking. He thanks entire comics companies (Marvel, DC, Dark Horse), fictional characters (Lestat and Grendel) entire series (Highlander and Sandman), and individual books (the Bible). Blessed Be, says Brown, and the "blessings of heaven" upon them and their loved ones. Yes, Stephen loves me, for the Bible tells me so.
And a special thanks to the company that owns the copyright on the Rider-Waite Tarot, for saving them thousands on interior art.
Next time, on The Everlasting: He threw off his long black leather duster. He was dressed all in black--black tee-shirt, black leather boots, pants, and bandanna holding back his long black hair. His face and clothing were all blood-splattered. he wore a shoulder holster with four pearl-handle daggers, two on each side.
|# ¿ Oct 28, 2013 18:07|
I see that Dirty Secrets has a writeup, but it was abandoned after the first chapter...
Lord, take this cup from me.
|# ¿ Oct 28, 2013 22:03|
For those of us who aren't intimately aware of the horribleness of this book, could we have a quick explaination of what the heck Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand is?
Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand is the book about the Black Hand, the semi-secret sect within the Sabbat that secretly controls everything (sort of like the Schutzstaffel within the Nazi party). It contains gems like this:
1. The Black began as a mage death cult called the Tal'Mahe'Ra which joined the Sabbat, so there's the Sabbat, the Black Hand, and the really for real Black Hand.
2. While the Sabbat believe they're preparing for the return of the Antediluvians, the Black Hand believe they're the Antediluvians' chosen servants, so they're playing the entire Sabbat for suckers.
3. The True Brujah (because the "Brujah" are actually descended from Brujah's traitorous childe Troile). They're the opposite of Brujah because they're scholarly and unemotional, and instead of Celerity they have Temporis, a Discipline that alters time.
4. The Old Clan Tzimisce, who are Tzimisce that are 100% Vlad Tepes with all the Clive Barker/David Cronenberg body horror removed...
5. Because Vicissitude is not really a Discipline, but an astral parasite from the Deep Umbra.
6. Did I mention the Black Hand has a secret city in the Shadowlands because they're so uber?
And like ARB said, they're the strongest and the smartest and are secretly controlling and manipulating everyone because they're sooo awesome and smart.
Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 01:43 on Oct 29, 2013
|# ¿ Oct 29, 2013 01:36|
The Garou are the least sympathetic protagonists in the oWoD. Their stance on every other supernatural race is "Kill them" or "dunno, might as well kill them, better safe than sorry y'know."
The dumbest thing in Werewolf was the Seventh Generation, a Wyrm-worshiping cult of evil Republican lobbyists who are extra evil because they run child pornography ring, and was run by an evil Mountie. To quote one of the WW editors, "This is the World of Darkness, not the World of Liberalism," and they were quietly killed off with the justification that King Albrecht wiped them all out in a crusade.
The New World of Darkness should only have one uber-NPC: an angel named Achilli that comes down from heaven and erases from reality things too stupid to exist.
Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 02:06 on Oct 29, 2013
|# ¿ Oct 29, 2013 01:57|
Of course, it says something about how groggy even revised Vampire was in that they didn't just scribble out the elements they didn't like (Ravnos, Tremere antitribu, the True Hand) but had to work into the metaplot how each was exterminated by the hand of metaphorical god.
How did they deal with the True Black Hand, anyway? Did they say that they had always just been one faction within the Sabbat, then destroy their ghost castle and kill most of them off?
|# ¿ Oct 29, 2013 04:54|
An October's Ending
The Everlasting is a modern fantasy game published in the late 90s, so it must convey its setting through fiction. The preview from my last post is a direct quote from the opening story, "An October's Ending." I wish I could tell you that the story was crammed with such self-ignorant excess all the way through, because that would have made for a so-bad-it's-awesome read. Instead, the story is plagued with all the common diseases of amateur fantasy writers, including awkward sentence construction, telling instead of showing, lingering on descriptions of characters' possessions, tedious infodumps about why these people have superpowers, narrating fight scenes as a sequence of turns in a game instead of people trying not to die, and introducing every character by describing them in terms of their hair and eyes and clothes. The story is fairly boring considering its body count, racked up with kung fu, gun fu, sword-fu, knife-fu, machete-fu, and lightning-fu.
The opening paragraph makes it clear that the Secret World is a Dark Fantasy 1990s where every major city has Seattle's weather and Mogadishu's crime rate. We are introduced to Marshall, a centuries-old immortal who is planning to kill an even older immortal named Josiff. Marshall breaks into Josiff's mansion (which is stuffed with priceless artifacts just like Duncan MacLeod's house in Highlander), murders all his domestic servants, hack'n'slashes his ghost guardians, and saves his game before the Boss Battle with Josiff. The fight is like something out of a Star Wars video game, with Marshall using his pearl-handled-knife-fu while Josiff prefers floating around the room shooting lightning and telekinetically throwing his very sharp antiques collection at Marshall. Marshall finally prevails when he stabs Josiff with knives made of gold, which are poisonous to Josiff. He reveals that a demon extorted him into killing Josiff under threat of eternal torture, and finishes him off. Aaand cut.
The next scene features Tom and Jennifer, a young couple on a road trip in Thomas' fully-restored candy-red GTO with white drag strips. Tom is a younger immortal on his way to a meeting of "the fellowship" in the wake of Josiff's death. He's just asked Jennifer to leave her life beyond and move across the country with him, but he hasn't told her he's an immortal yet. He decides that this is the time, and proves it to her by pulling off the road, leading her into a cow pasture, pulling out a handgun, and blowing out his brains--which he quickly regrows, such as they are. He then treats Jennifer, and us, to a long boring infodump about how he's one of the daeva, a race of immortals who were worshiped as pagan gods. Aaand cut.
Scene three is about Luther de Fontaine, who is just leaving his girlfriend's house when a mob of demon-possessed derelicts drag him into an alley and attack him with bricks and bats and brickbats and whatnot. Just when he's on the verge of death, he tears off his shirt, flexes, and starts hitting demons with the Atomic Leg Drop and such. The author interrupts this fight scene to explain that Luther is a quester, who joined a secret order in the 1800s and became immortal when he found and drank from the Holy Grail. After his Duncan MacLeod style flashback, Luther beats all the demons to a pulp with his bare hands. Then he goes home, calls his girlfriend, and eats leftover Chinese food. That's right.
Our last protagonist is Margaret the vampire, who has demon problems of her own. Specifically, a mob of them just burnt down her antebellum mansion and she's running for dear unlife. She flees into her ghul catacombs and sets some Indiana Jones style traps behind her, then runs through the catacombs to a room filled with roses to mask the stench of undead dudes, and asks sanctuary from a scabby gross ghul named Revis Frome. She spends the next day chilling out in the
Class, can you see what's wrong with this story? There are four vignettes, and only one of them concerns the characters covered in this loving book! Not only that, but it's the least eventful and informative out of all of them; a vampire asks a ghoul if she can crash at his pad for awhile, and we don't learn much about either of them or their kewl p0warz. This does not bode well for our heroes.
Welcome to the Secret World
Not a White Wolf game
We got elves and gargoyles
Plus we changed the name
Welcome to the Secret World
Of elegant decay
If you want some mysteries
Use Tarot cards to play
Next time, on The Everlasting: An overview of the setting, with so many sidebars and jargon words you'll think you're reading Immortal.
|# ¿ Oct 29, 2013 17:24|
Serious lack of Kev pics here.
Kevin seen chillin' and thrillin' with fellow F&F luminary Eric Wuijzykjzyik. Want to step through the door into the convention hall? You can't, it's protected by an invincible invisible forcefield and guarded by invisible invincible ninjas. But for $1000 Kevin will piss in that water bottle and sign it for you.
|# ¿ Oct 30, 2013 00:00|
Thanks for doing Shatterzone, by the way. Years ago, I was into WEG's Masterbook stuff, and I always wanted to check it out but never had the time or a group that wanted to do sci-fi.
|# ¿ Nov 4, 2013 15:25|
Everlasting is difficult to summarize because it’s so poorly organized, and it’s not easy to convey confusion without being confusing yourself. The book doesn’t reach the schizophrenic depths of Immortal: the Invisible War, but from the very first chapter I notice much that it has in common with that game. It drifts from topic to topic, makes liberal use of sidebars, doesn’t discuss important topics where you’d expect, and its gamemastering advice is either simplistic or suggests bizarre methods. It also promises the possibility of deep personal revelation from gaming, and the first chapter ends with a lengthy glossary of setting jargon.
Chapter 1: Entering the Secret World is supposed to be an introduction to the setting, but it begins with a rambling appeal to belief in the supernatural. Like, are people fascinated with vampires and poo poo because it's fun, or is it something more? Are you religious? Because if you are then you totes believe in the supernatural. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not real. Scientists know that there are, like, other dimensions, and what about the stuff science can't explain? The world would be a lot less interesting without believing in stuff you can't see. Like, how do you know atoms exist, can you see them? Anyways, it doesn't matter what your mean old dumb boring science says, billions of people believe in the supernatural. Do you?
There are too many fallacies to count, and it's only half a page. This is just one of many points in the book where I'm not sure if the author is telling us about the game, or inviting us to a Wicca ceremony with a bunch of flaky geeks to see if it "works for us." When you have to put up with this poo poo face-to-face, at least there's free weed.
Do you believe this guy's body will be found with binoculars hanging over his dick?
Everlasting spends several pages on its introduction to roleplaying, and frankly, it would be damned boring if it wasn't so flaky. In the very first paragraph, it states that the goal of the game is “to take your own Hero’s Journey, developed by the great mythologist Joseph Campbell.” Then it reminds experienced gamers that Everlasting is "more than a game, it is a Legendmaking experience." It tells us to be open-minded about new methods which transcend the "roll-playing" we've learned from other games. Jesus wept.
The book only spends three paragraphs on “What is Roleplaying?” before jumping into those new methods. We get one paragraph suggesting you try live-action roleplaying, and most of that is caveats against touching, violence, or scaring people in public. Then it devotes an entire page suggesting "communal Protagonists," in which PCs are traded around the group from session to session. We learn that Everlasting PCs are called Protagonists and the GM is called the Guide, and it’s hinted that rotating, sharing, or splitting the Guide’s duties is considered normal in this game. Sidebars bear the weight of explaining that Everlasting can use cards (Tarot or standard) or dice (d4,d6,d8,d10, but mainly d12), that you need character sheets and pen-and-paper, and that you might want some minis and counters.
A brief section on storytelling acknowledges that roleplaying is storytelling. (Hey, 90s game design got some things right.) It says that storytelling teaches us things about ourselves, but that most of us receive stories from mass media instead of using our own imaginations. Roleplaying is an opportunity to take that back. I can get behind that. However, Everlasting’s love affair with itself continues in a section on Legendmaking and being a good Legendmaker. What is Legendmaking? I’m not sure the author or any of his fellow creators actually knows. I do remember that Visionary Entertainment had a spokesperson on forum.rpg.net back in the day, who couldn’t satisfactorily defend Legendmaking as something above and beyond roleplaying. Here’s what I learned from the Legendmaking section:
1. Legendmaking allows you to build your own Personal Mythology.
2. “...the best place to begin is by consulting Joseph Campbell’s works, especially The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth.”
3. Legendmaking allows you to find the magic within yourself,” “explore magickal places,” “experience mythology,” “gain practical wisdom,” and “transcend the mundane.”
4. Legendmaking is italicized about 50% of the time.
5. The purpose of a legendmaker is to flip out and kill people.
The next page is seriously titled “A Higher Plane of Consciousness,” but it’s just more drivel about imagination and storytelling and magick. The only eye-catching line is when it outright states that in Everlasting, the Guide’s duties will normally be split between several people so everybody can play a Protagonist. I can’t wait for the GMing chapter to explain how that’s supposed to work.
After a page and a half of this crap, Everlasting finally, finally gets around to introducing the setting. In this game, there are many races of supernatural beings, called the Eldritch. (That’s awkward, but better than White Wolf fans discussing “supernaturals” for lack of an official catchall term.) The Eldritch includes everything from elves and wizards to vampires and gargoyles, and they inhabit the Secret World which lurks just under the surface of the everyday world.
This blends into an explanation of the game’s primary “themes.” The most important is “Ignorance and intolerance will be the death of us.” This makes itself known in the setting as a metaplot event called the “Death Knell,” which unleashed an army of demons upon the world. If the different Eldritch races can’t get along, we’re all doomed. Another is “Loneliness is a way of life.” Living for centuries while all your loved ones die is hard, and it hardens you. Who waaants to liiive foreveeer? The last is “It’s easy to lose touch.” A lot of people hold on to a familiar worldview while reality leaves them behind, and this is an easy vice for immortals.
Next is a page of “milieu elements.” This is really a list of all the things people look for in roleplaying games, like action, exploration, and romance, but with some definite emphasis on things that were popular in the 90s, such as conspiracy, gothic ambience, dark fantasy, and splatterpunk horror.
On the next page we finally get into the nitty-gritty of the Secret World. The Secret World, is separated from the “Real World” as most people understand it by the Reverie, a magickal reality which overlays the ordinary world, and which only Eldritch and a few gifted individuals can see. Beyond the Reverie is the Otherside, a catchall for all of the parallel dimensions--and there’s a shitload of them. The Astra (astral realm) contains everything from the Jungian collective unconscious to the Netherworlds where demons live. The Faery Kingdoms contain forgotten fragments of reality. The Underworld contains dead souls and other strangeness, while the Dreamworlds comprises warped versions of all of the above.
"What? You mean I have to go all the way back to the Insect Castle? I hate this game.
Much as it is in the World of Darkness, the Eldritch used to play a prominent role in human affairs, but this diminished over millennia and now they tend to congregate in major cities so they can interact with more of their own kind. Most of them are concerned about the Death Knell. The daevas, those Highlander demigod guys, have the power of prophecy, and most of them predicted that they would all go down fighting in a ragnarok against a demon army, and usher in a new age. That didn’t exactly happen, but an army of demons did arrive, the Otherside was rocked with cataclysmic events, and most of the daevas died or disappeared. Since then, something called the “Convergence” is drawing Eldritch of all kinds to North America, which has become a battleground in the demon war.
And now there is jargon. All of it.
Aceldama: Meaning slaughterhouse, a word for a region or city that’s become a violent battleground.
Adapan: A lost race of prehistoric humans who coexisted with dragons.
Aethyr: A realm within the Astra.
Agartha: “outer realms existing as alternate dimensions outside the human consciousness.” Okay.
Agarthic Sphere: Any realm within the Agartha. Earth is one.
Antediluvian cities: Ancient Adapan cities.
Antediluvian civilization: The Adapan civilizaiton. Destroyed by the “Great Deluge” in the “Cataclysm,” of course.
Ashura: The founders of the first immortal clans.
Astra: the spirit world.
Athanasia: Immortality. Okay.
Azhi Dahaka: An Eldritch who’s eaten the soul of a dragon, gaining its power.
Blood Feud: Fighting between two factions or races of immortals.
Changeling: An immortal in the process of transforming into a faery.
Children of the Night: the undead.
Collective: An astral realm which is the collective human unconscious.
Condemned Soul: a dead soul.
The Convergence: A ripoff of The Gathering from Highlander, some mysterious force drawing immortals to North America.
Crusader: A quester.
Cycle of Reincarnation: What mummies call the cycle of reincarnation they go through. Okay.
Daeva: Immortals who resemble mythic demigods, and who have powers linked to time and fate.
Dead Soul: A disembodied spirit dwelling in the Underworld.
Death Knell: The metaplot event that killed more than half of all daevas and kicked off a series of unfortunate events. It began about 20 years ago.
Deathless: A catchall for daevas, questers, and undead, since none of them age.
Demon: a living incarnation of negative emotions.
Daodine: Faeries who were once human (or other eldritch).
Discarnate: Intangible spirits.
Dogs of War: warmongering immortals who spur on conflict.
Dominion: An eldritch’s territory.
Doomsday: The theoretical end of all magick and immortals. And possibly all life on earth.
Dragon: They’re dragons. They think they’re the oldest and the wisest.
Dragon Cities: The Antediluvian cities (see above).
Dreamlord: Powerful dreamers who control a realm in Phantasia, part of the Dreamworlds.
Eldritch: A supernatural creature, including the everlasting, faeries, dream entities, spirits, and demons, but excluding mortals with magick powers.
Empyrean: An older, equally awkward word for the Reverie.
Eternal One: A term of respect for the really really old immortals.
Ever Reborn: The Osirians.
Everlasting: All immortals, including daevas, dragons, manitou, Osirians, possessed, questers, and unliving.
Everlasting Society: The society of the Everlasting. Derp.
Faery: Creatures from the faery realms; they may or may not be immortal.
Faeryland: Their home dimension. It consists of fragments of reality “stolen” from Earth and other realms.
Fantast: A mortal who can perceive the Reverie.
My fingers hurt and I’m only on letter F.
Fellowship: A group of immortal allies. In other words, the term for your adventuring party.
Final Battle: The ragnarok against the demons, predicted by the daeva.
Freak Show: Showing off your powers to mortals.
Fringe: Yet another synonym for Reverie.
Fringy: spending too much time among immortals so you act like a space case.
Frontier: North America.
Genos (pl. Gentes): A race of eldritch.
Ghul: Subterranean undead eldritch who eat corpses.
Godling: Derogatory for daeva.
Gotterdammerung: A prophesied time the daeva will all die and be replaced by cool new gods, like Metron and Mister Miracle.
Grail Knight: an order of questers dating back to Arthur’s roundtable.
Hellbound: Anyone who’s traded their soul for demonic power.
Hellspawn: The hybrid child of a mortal and a demon.
Household: A group of daevas who organize themselves kind of like a familial pantheon.
Kith and Kin: An immortals’ loved ones.
The Legacy: Immortality.
Leviathan: Demons made from dragons’ negative emotions.
Lyncanthropes: The wer.
Magick: The way to spell real magic.
Manitou: Nature-serving immortals created by binding an animal totem to a human.
Menagerie: The collective unconscious of animals, from which totems come.
Merodach: The first immortals, chosen by dragons to rule their cities. They betrayed the dragons and were killed.
Merodachian: An adjective meaning “of the merodachs.” Yes, this is an entry.
Mindscape: The Astra.
Minion: a mortal who serves an eldritch.
Mundane: Mortals who only perceive the Real World.
Nightmare Lands: A dreamworld where shadows live.
Nimbus: the magickal aura of an eldritch.
Ochelum: a dream entity that possesses and preys on mortals.
Old Soul: A very old immortla.
Osirian: Mortal sorcerers who reincarnate, remembering their past lives upon reaching adulthood.
Outcast: An eldritch shunned by their own kind.
Phantasia: A series of kingdoms in the dreamworlds.
The Possessed: The mortals possessed by ochelum, via a magic gem.
Preternatura: Any kind of supernatural powers.
Quester: Humans who became immortals by pledging themselves to a good cause and receiving divine blessing. For example, the Grail Knights.
Rapture: A ripoff of the Quickening from Highlander, which happens when an immortal dies.
The Real World: The “normal” world most people perceive.
Resonance: The traces of supernatural powers and energy.
Reverie: The magickal energies that overlay normal reality, which only eldritch and sorcerers can see.
Seelie: Benevolent faeries.
Secret World: All the magickal truths of the world that mortals can’t usually see.
Serpent Lord: An azhi dahaka.
Shadows: Dreamworld creatures which turn dreams to nightmares and feed on fear.
Shapeshifter: A wer or a manitou, or any eldritch with shapeshifting powers.
Sempervivium: Yet another word for immortality.
Skinchanger: Yet another word for wer.
Sluagh: Generally evil faeries.
Sojourn: When an immortal abandons their life to start over.
Somnomancer: A mortal dream wizard.
Somnorium: Each person’s own personal dream realm.
Templar: The obligatory mortal secret society that’s aware of eldritch.
Temporal Society: what immortals call the ever-fleeting human society and pop culture.
Therianthrope: A wer that’s not a werewolf.
Those Who Are Soon Gone: a term for mortals.
Titan: A merodach.
Totem: The animal spirits which turn mortals into manitou.
Un-dead: The unliving.
Unliving: The un-dead.
Vampire: Undead immortals who must drink blood.
Vattan: The Adapan language.
Verdant Lands: The astral realm of the collective unconscious of plant life. Seriously.
Void: Realms of utter nothingness.
Vortex: Magickal rifts in time and space.
Wakanda: Nature spirits.
Warhawk: Immortals who engage in internal disputes.
Wer: Mortals infected with the “changing virus” that causes them to transform into werecreatures.
Wisdom of the Ancients: The philosophy by which many immortals live; it preaches secrecy and nonintervention.
Zone: The Reverie.
Zoner: A fringy eldritch.
Next time, on The Everlasting: All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B. All work and no play makes Jack Command+B.
Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 21:40 on Nov 5, 2013
|# ¿ Nov 5, 2013 21:18|
Indeed. DX seems like a 90s-style "dark conspiracy superheroes" game that is good.
|# ¿ Nov 6, 2013 20:21|
Unless everyone prefers that Carcosa be buried for all eternity, I'm glad to have mine preserved.
|# ¿ Nov 7, 2013 18:05|
One of the things that surprises me about DX is the apparent lack of a straightforward "Brick" syndrome, or a straightforward one for telepathy or teleportation. That's okay, though. An original evocative setting is better than one which strives to be generic. I like that Greg Stolze's ORE games, to my knowledge, flat-out exclude time travel and mind control.
|# ¿ Nov 7, 2013 21:23|
Now hold on a minute, before we go much further
Give me a buck, so I can buy a rubber
--Revolting Cocks, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
Before we go any further, a brief aside for a comment I neglected in my last updates.
I want to give The Everlasting credit where credit is due. Although I haven’t even read their book yet, I’m glad that this setting has immortal grail knights, fate-spinning demigod Highlanders, sin-eating gargoyles, people possessed by animal totems, and dream wizards. That’s more original than the progression of Hammer Horror monsters that every other White Wolf ripoff slogged through. I like the fact that the game states from the outside that all the Everlasting are part of a larger community; that’s actually better than what White Wolf did, where every “race” got a discrete game, then they crossed them over hurly-burly to compete with each other in all their awfully-balanced glory.
That being said, do you get the impression that this book about the undead is...not? The undead characters hardly feature in the opening fiction, and outside of the glossary, they don’t feature at all in the setting metaplot, which is far more enamored with demons and daevas. This being a White Wolf heartbreaker, I expected the author to be totally high on vampires, with everything else shoveled in as an afterthought. Instead I get the impression that he can’t wait to dispense with this vampire crap so he can tell us about the daevas, who are all black belts in karate and have uncles who work for Nintendo.
Chapter 2: Protagonist Creation:
I am picky when it comes to how books are organized. I get really mad at games--including a lot of games you guys love--for trying to walk me through the “C’mon, create a character, it’ll be great!” like I’ve never picked up a RPG before, and before I know anything about the character traits or the basic die mechanic.
The Everlasting is certainly guilty of that offense. The first thing it asks us to do is pick our genos (plural gentes), your monstrous race. Wow. White Wolf and most of its ripoffs at least paid lip service to the idea that you should come up with a character concept before you pick your flavour of Dracula, but not here.
About that “genos” thing: Like Immortal, whenever The Everlasting needs a jargon word, it misappropriates either mythology or Latin.
Do you believe he’s wearing that to the mall? It’s 100 degrees outside.
Step 1: Genos
This book covers three gentes: Ghuls, Revenants, and Vampires. Each has subtypes for you to pick, and in some cases, factions. The entries also tell you what bonuses and penalties you get to your traits--but we haven’t even seen a sample character sheet yet.
Ghuls are humans who consumed an “elixir of life” called Anecro, which grants immortality but curses you to sustain yourself by eating dead human flesh.Ghuls control vast networks of underground tunnels--caverns, catacombs, and sewers--and live in packs ruled by the strongest and fiercest, like wild dogs. Many ghouls are corpselike and deformed, and what’s worse, most of them will eventually degenerate into mindless pack animals. Ghuls are physically powerful, and their magic combines alchemy, shapeshifting, and animal control, among other things.
About 60% of ghouls are bhutas. They are “typical ghouls,” which we won’t really understand until we read Chapter 4. Most of them retain self-control for a long time, but only the most willful and intelligent avoid eventual degeneration. Faitours are ghouls who received exactly the right dosage of Anecro, so they retain their human appearance. Grotesqueries, on the other hand, got an overdose, and their bodies are bestial and deformed. Vetala are ghouls who got an especially good batch of Anecro, making them smarter and stronger. The downside is that they can’t eat fresh corpses, only rotten bodies. Ghouls who have mentally degenerated into animals are called mindless ones. You can't play one. Unlike revenants and vampires, ghouls don’t have political factions.
Revenants are dead souls--ghosts and other underworld spirits--who have taken up permanent residence in a body. (That rules out Frankenstein’s monsters, I suppose.) They feed on the living by draining their life force, which induces premature aging. In contrast to the Crow ripoffs you might expect, revenants are secretive and spend most of their time manipulating mortals through organizations called “Kingdoms of Night.” Their powers include necromancy, telepathy, and superhuman toughness.
There are two types of revenant. Sarkomenos are dead souls who possess corpses--not necessarily their own. They get a bonus to socializing with dead spirits, and a penalty to socializing with mortals. They can also spend 3 animus (which I gather is the “mana points” stat) to shift between any of four “shrouds of death,” corresponding to a time in their body’s life. There’s the breathing form (lifelike), death form (time of death), burial form (when buried), and ashen form (what your body would look like if it had been rotting all this time). Gross. The ekimmu are much simpler--they’re living bodies possessed by ghosts, forcing the original owner’s soul to take the ekimmu’s place in the Underworld. Besides being a dick move, this means ekimmu still have to eat, breathe, and sleep, and take a penalty to socializing with spirits.
Revenants have three factions. The Salariati are members of the Salariat, the collective name for the Courts of Night. Wait...Courts of Night? Didn’t you just call them Kingdoms of Night, on the same page? gently caress you, Everlasting. Anyway, about half of the revenants are members of the Salariat, and they do stuff. Secretive, manipulative, kingly courtly stuff. Another third of revenants are renunciates, who refuse to join the Salariat. They can still play politics or control a mortal cult, but they don’t need none a your tight rear end country club, ya freak bitch. Less than a tenth of revenants are Abaddon, the title they take when they join the Ankou, or grim reapers. Besides having three different loving titles, these revenants serve Death. They can sense mortals on the verge of death, and seek them out to drain their last bit of life. They’re all Sarkomenos, and they also have the power to appear as traditional grim reapers. They dislike other Un-dead, and actively try to destroy other revenants for the crime of cheating Death.
Hm, Salariati, a bit over 50 percent, renunciates, something over 33 percent, Ankou, less than 10 percent...math is hard when you’re dead, guys.
There are two full moons in this scene.
Vampires! They call themselves “dark angels, for many possess a dark, immortal beauty that lures mortals to their deaths.” Okay. Most vampires live in small covens. They don’t all have the same strengths and weaknesses, but their powers include shapeshifting, weather control, mind control, and superhuman strength and toughness. They drink blood.
There are three forms of vampire. Founders are Draculas, mortals who committed such unforgivable sins in life that they can’t rest in death. Many of them were pious in life; if so, they’re vulnerable to sunlight and holy symbols. Most of them are old and powerful. Scions are your standard vampire, created by another vampire. They share their creator’s strengths and weaknesses. Last are the dhampirs, humans who drank so much vampire blood they became blood-drinking immortals. They have to sleep, breathe, and eat normal food, but they’re immune to sunlight.
Scions and dhampir have to pick a consanguinity, a bloodline. There are so many of these, I’m making a list.
Bathora: Descended from Elizabeth Bathory. “They are among the most hip and seductive of the vampires.” They’re sunlight immune and know blood magic, but have no fangs.
Cihuateteo: They’re descended from the Peruvian Moche god, Ai Apaec, a seriously scary motherfucker who was usually depicted as a spider or a dude cutting people’s heads off. Go look it up. Anyway, they have spider-powers and illusion-powers, and prefer bleeding victims with their knives. They get a free Magickal Path.
Dakinis: From the Indian god Kali, most of them are assassins who can shapeshift into an eight-armed form resembling their progenitor.
Dracul: Dracula’s descendants share his array of powers, and they were responsible for the Age of Lamentations, the Blood Wars among vampirekind. (Goddammit, why does every loving thing in this game have two names?)
Kingu: Descendants of the Babylonian god, these guys are either grotesque carnival freaks or incredibly beautiful. (Mechanically, they all get a physical deformity or a mental illness.) They’re really good wizards.
Lamiae: Descended from an ancient Libyan queen, most of them are female and they can transform into, you guessed it, great white worms.
Lilim: Possibly the oldest bloodline. They can command spirits and birds of prey, and have demonic features like strange eyes, tails, little horns, and bat wings. They go as “slutty devil” for Halloween every year.
Nosferatu: Spawn of Czarnobog, the Black God of Slavonic myth, these fuckers look like, y’know, Orlok from Nosferatu. They’re immune to disease, masters of vermin, and have a power to make their face temporarily human.
Obayifo: North African zombie-masters who wear metal mouthpieces since they don’t have fangs. Is that cool? I think that’s cool. Like HHH in Blade: Trinity, but black.
Penanggalans: Malaysian wizards who can detach their heads and limbs and send them flying around. Other vampires consider them insane, because they are jealous.
Tantalusi: Greek vampires descended from the mythical Tantalus, they are honor-bound peacekeepers of the vampire world.
Xiang Shi: Descended from a Chinese warrior-king, they’re immune to many traditional vampire weaknesses. They also get a bonus to Martial Arts. Seriously. Because they’re Asian. Seriously.
The bonuses and flaws of the different consanguini--gently caress it, bloodlines don’t appear particularly well-balanced. I didn’t list them all here, both because it would be tedious and because sometimes the fluff description doesn’t match. For example, Kingu are called master magicians, but in parenthesis it says they just get a deformity and Supernature +1. The Bathora’s reputation for blood magic isn’t represented here; they just get Presence +1. And so on.
Overall, the selection of character types is...so-so. Ghuls and revenants got short shrift compared to vampires. The selection of vampire bloodlines is broad and frankly less Eurocentric than Vampire: the Masquerade. On the other hand, unless they do a good job developing them in the vampire-specific chapter, anybody could have done the same by picking blurbs out of a “vampire encyclopedia” like the one I bought from the Green Valley Book Fair...around the time this book was published.
Step 2: Concept (Twenty Questions)
We’re instructed to flesh out our character concept by answering 20 questions. I won’t listen them all here. They range from shallow, no-brainer stuff like your sex, age, and appearance, to more meaningful stuff like your character’s hobbies, religious beliefs, cultural background. There are some good ephemeral questions that you don’t see in many other games, like your characters major successes and failures, virtues and character flaws, how you make a living, and specifically, what evils have you committed, or turned a blind eye toward?
Step 3: Ethos (Optional)
This is what you want, this is what you get.
This is what you want, this is what you get.
--Public Image Ltd., “Order of Death”
This is the part you were waiting for. “In order to have real legendmaking, a protagonist must undertake a Hero’s Journey.” Everlasting asks you to choose an ethos for your character, representing the character arc of their Hero’s Journey. To be honest, deciding what sort of character arc you’re looking to create with your character, and sharing that with the GM--that’s good advice. The game also says that it’s optional. However, as you’ll soon see, there’s no reason to believe that this isn’t going to be a central feature of the rules. It also suggests that you choose an archetype that represents your own Hero’s Journey, lived vicariously through your character. Why take your meds when you’ve got Legendmaking?
Here is a heroic list of heroically journeying archetypes for you to legendmake your heroic journey legend, with a very brief description of the expected character arc.
Child: Personal growth from naivete and weakness to maturity and power.
Craven: Facing your fears and going from a reluctant hero to someone willing to risk himself for others.
Crusader: Championing an ideal. The crusader will either defeat their foes once and for all, or realize their crusade was wrong.
Enigma: Amnesia plot. You don’t know who you are. You have to find out the good, and the bad.
Explorer: Exploring new things, acquiring power and knowledge, taking a stand for or against what you’ve found.
Fatebound: A D&D 3rd edition prestige class. No, wait, it means you’re bound to a terrible destiny which you must embrace or escape.
Gloryseeker: You want to be The Best. If you do, you’ll either revel in it or move past it to be part of something bigger than yourself.
Healer: Your goal is to help others. You can also be a “dark healer” who exacts vengeance on behalf of the wronged.
Lover: Nothing will stop you from finding and protecting your true love.
Martyr: Sacrificing yourself for the greater good.
Outsider: Going from being one of those Dark Loner types to becoming a valued member of a group or society.
Penitent: You did something terrible, you have to make up for it. Then you and the Outsider form a Dark 90s Antihero squad.
Progenitor: You feel the need to create something great. If you do, you might preside over the period when your creation passes out of “childhood” and your control.
Promethean: You have to adventure to find something of great value which you will bring back and share with society. Then the Vault Overseer exiles you and you shoot him in the face.
Prophet: You know that something terrible is coming. It’s not enough to oppose it yourself, you have to convince others.
Schemer: Your life revolves around creating and bringing about some Master Plan. Your life is full of ridiculous, improbable events, and the name “J.J. Abrams” is tattooed on your rear end.
Scourge: You want to destroy something. Very likely you were wronged, and you want revenge. You may or may not be a half-Dracula.
Trickster: You survive by taking advantage of the naivete and conformity of others.
Wisdomseeker: You must overcome challenges and temptations to gain knowledge that will enlighten the world.
Overall, these aren’t bad. Some of them, like the Schemer, state outright that they’re best used for antagonist NPCs.
I do not eat...rice cakes.
Step 4: Persona (Optional)
Okay, this is where the Heroic Legendmaking Journey crap gets annoying as gently caress. Everlasting wants you to pick Persona traits to represent your character’s personality. You must have a minimum of 4 (one for each category), a maximum of 9, and they’re rated 1-6. Remember, we haven’t even been told about the ratings for Strength and Dexterity and Underwater Basketweaving yet!
There are three recommended methods for assigning points to your Persona traits. You can allocate 15 points, roll 2d12, or draw two cards--jacks are 11, queens are 12, kings are a re-draw. (This is the most insight we’ve received into the basic mechanic so far.) Having zero in a trait means indifference or average; you don’t write down traits with zero. A rating of 6 means you’re a fanatic. I don’t know why I want more points in my persona traits; being a fanatic for multiple beliefs and personality traits would make life difficult for me and everyone around me. Anyway, like I said, there are four categories of Persona traits.
Beliefs are political, religious, and moral opinions. Examples: Christianity, Islam, must protect innocents, not bound my mortal laws, filial piety, belief in aliens.
Outlooks are personality or behavioral traits. Examples: hedonistic, depressed, generous, level-headed, scatter-brained, angry.
Passions are your motivations and goals. Examples: Control Chicago, collect ancient manuscripts, play football, gambling, find a worthy pupil.
Relations are your attitudes toward other people, whether individuals, groups, or categorical prejudices. Examples: love sister, treat mortals as children, fear of the opposite sex, harm the weak, fear sorcerers.
If you wind up with a mental illness, these are called Dementia and treated as persona traits. If you get too many, the young vampires will put you in an assisted unliving facility.
Okay! This is already a long, long update, and we still have to do Steps 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9--the part where you actually create a character with stats for doing stuff more concrete than “like football” and “be Christian.” (Tim Tebow would make a terrible vampire.)
Next time, on The Everlasting: Character creation more or less as it exists in normal, sane roleplaying games.
Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 01:35 on Nov 9, 2013
|# ¿ Nov 9, 2013 01:31|
Ghuls aren't described in detail until Chapter 4. You know as much as I do.
You're pretty much right, though, except the thing about ghuls having their origin in a magic potion. That's original and interesting, but dividing them into subtypes based on which flavour of Ghoul-Aid they drank is goofy and incredibly lazy.
But how would ghouls even have a culture? It's not like Lovecraft or any of his contemporaries wrote a story you could mine for ideas, nope nope.
|# ¿ Nov 9, 2013 02:13|
I'm going to be blunt: Are we still doing this poo poo? Can we start reviewing slashfic in the Book Barn, then?
|# ¿ Nov 9, 2013 15:10|
I reviewed Carcosa because it's a physically published book with high production values, and managed to get a lot of attention and not a few people singing its praises. Cthulhutech is a full game line with a lot of notable features besides the disturbing current of sexual violence running through it. James Desborough is at least notable for kicking up a tempest-in-a-teapot by being associated with and later dismissed by Mongoose.
The fact that everyone can now put their personal masturbation fantasies up on an online retailer's site with a PoD option does not make them notable published works. If we're going to review all this crap we might as well start reviewing every WoD fan supplement from BJ Zanzibar's site. With rape.
I'm sorry, I've just had my fill of Anime Death Tentacle Babyraper and could do without any more of that kind of thing in F&F unless it becomes a phenomenon in its own right.
|# ¿ Nov 9, 2013 17:13|
FATAL had a years-long reputation before the thread was started, and to some extent Sartin and MacLennan's review started something that we're carrying on here. Games don't have to have a print run to be notable, but there should be something more to them than "Hey guys, did you know some people not only have gross fantasies, but post them to the Internet?" FATAL is unique in the way its grossness is conveyed through such an utterly spergy system.
This thread is literally named after FATAL. One of the least notable RPGs ever penned by "human" hands. If it were not for reviews of it, the game would likely have never so much as seen a printing press, once, ever.
I could knock Naruto D20 or WoD: Children of the Dollhouse for being non-notable fan supplements, but frankly, they're interesting. They're both charming in their earnestness, and as an added bonus, I don't have to read about puerile anime and rape. The Dollhouse creator is a complete mark for his Mary-Sue munchkin fantasies, and the Naruto D20 creator put a lot of work into wedging Naruto into the D20 system. These Black Tokyo supplements, on the other hand, put minimal work into wedging tentacles into toddlers. "Tentacle rape demons get +2 Con. Their death dicks do 1d8 damage." I get it. I'm jaded at this point.
But if I'm in the minority here, forget it. I've said my piece.
|# ¿ Nov 9, 2013 23:50|
BTW, is Double Cross for sale in PDF form anywhere?
If anyone's planning to run it on the forums, how would you? I don't know how to run an online game of something not widely available and I wouldn't want to pirate a game that's not free or OOP.
|# ¿ Nov 10, 2013 00:33|
I have a soft spot for the Masterbook system; I owned a couple of the games. But the system is just so...complicated where it doesn't need to be, and the places where mechanical complexity could be useful, like starship combat, it's always, like, the wrong kind of complicated.
|# ¿ Nov 11, 2013 02:54|
Chapter 2: Protagonist Creation, Part 2:
My last update devoted 2,800 words to character creation in Everlasting, and we never got around to little details like “things that the PCs can do.” The Everlasting is focused on more high-minded things, like picking from 31 flavours of Dracula and assigning point values to Jungian archetypes and your character’s devotion to the Pope and fantasy football.
A footnote on assigning points to those goofy Persona traits: I don’t know when or why you’d want high scores. The game tells us that the Guide can require tests if they think you’re acting out of character. If it’s ever to your advantage to be fanatically devoted to something, the game doesn’t say...yet.
Orlok’s real weakness was just a rolled-up newspaper.
Step 5: Aspects
Basic ability scores in Everlasting are called “aspects.” There are 9 of them, and no, they don’t correspond to White Wolf’s. The normal human limit is 6 (with rare prodigies reaching 7) while the limit for eldritch is 12, though of course “some claim” they can reach higher.
The physical aspects, Strength, Dexterity, and Resilience, are exactly what you expect.
The mental aspects are Instincts, Intellect, and Perception. Instincts represents common sense, intuition, situational awareness, and “gut instincts.” Among other things, it factors into combat initiative. Intellect is the intelligence attribute, covering knowledge, memory, and problem-solving. Perception covers sharp senses and general observation.
The “spiritual” aspects are Inspiration, Presence, and Spirit. Inspiration represents creativity and imagination--you need it to perceive the supernatural, because this is the 90s and that’s the trendy cliche. Presence is the charisma attribute, covering charm, magnetism, and leadership, but not necessarily beauty. Spirit is the willpower attribute; it includes self-confidence, discipline, and mental fortitude, and is used to resist mental and magical assault.
Step 6: Abilities
The Everlasting has an interesting skill system. You want your 90s Design big-rear end skill list? We got it right here. However, skills are grouped together into “Aptitudes.” There are 10 aptitudes containing 7 skills apiece; if you have Athletics 3, you automatically have all its sub-skills at 3, plus whatever points you want to spend on them individually.
The default, point-allocation method gives you 15 points for Aptitudes and 30 more points to spend on individual skills. If you wanted to play a lighter game, you could just play with Aptitudes.
Athletics: Accuracy, Acrobatics, Climb, Dance, Focus, Run, Swim
Criminal: Espionage, Firearms, Legerdemain, Murder, Security, Stealth, Streetwise
Humanities: Antiquities, Artistry, History, Language, Music, Religion, Research
Influence: Deception, Eloquence, Empathy, Intimidate, Persuasion, Question, Romance
Martial Arts: Blind Fighting, Block, Evasion, Grapple, Kick, Punch, Takedown
Melee: Axes, Clubs, Knives, Flails, Polearms, Staves, Swords
Modern Life: Alertness, Area Knowledge, Computers, Driving, Management, Profession (choose one), Social Awareness
Naturalism: Animals, Equestrian, Herbalism, Hunt, Orienteer, Survival,Track
Sciences: Engineering, Life Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Physical Science, Psychology, Rationalize
Supernatural: Arcana, Astral, Dream, Eldritch, Empower, Illumination, Intuition
As you can see, the groupings are goofy--”unarmed hand-to-hand combat” is a group, and so is “all the hard sciences and all branches of medicine and psychology.” I suppose this leans toward balance in a genre that is very much about dark urban superheroes punching each other, their trenchcoats and ponytails flapping in the wind.
Some of the individual skills may seem odd, and the game realizes this and explains them immediately. Is there a more detailed explanation of all the skills, later in the book? I don’t know.
Focus: “Channeling internal energy” and controlling your body.
Murder: There is a specific skill for plotting and investigating homicide.
Question: Interrogation, including torture.
Social Awareness: Voting socialist. Just kidding! It means knowledge of current events, issues, and pop culture, very relevant to the setting.
Animals: Identifying, empathizing with, training, and tracking animals.
Rationalize: A specific skill for convincing mortals that they didn’t just see monsters dueling with katanas.
Arcana: Real-world mysticism, from astrology to Kabbalah.
Astral: Astral projection and navigation.
Dream: Lucid dreaming; traveling and manipulating the Dreamworlds.
Eldritch: Knowledge of eldritch races and the ability to identify them on sight.
Empower: Infusing magick into people and objects.
Illumination: Perceiving the supernatural.
Step 6: Distinctions
Distinctions are another aspect of the game that is interesting and unique, but of questionable value. Generally speaking, they’re a measure of your social standing within both mortal and eldritch society. They get weird when the game starts recommending that you get benefits and drawbacks based on your rating.
Your rating in a distinction can go from -9 to +9, and by default you have a +9 balance to divide among the 9 distinctions. The game doesn’t say that the rating is a straightforward bonus or penalty to any actions, and more importantly, it gives few guideposts on exactly what a rating of +3, -7, etc. means in the setting.
Biography essentially measures your effect on history and whether or not you’ve done anything meaningful with your life as far as the outside world is concerned. A positive rating could mean that you inspired a folk legend, or even that you were a historical figure (probably under an assumed name). A negative rating can mean that you are a literal folk devil, that you committed atrocities, or just that you’ve lived a reclusive life, and other eldritch see you as a naive hermit.
Eldritch ties is a measure of your connections and status with other eldritch, especially your own genos. A positive score means that you have friends, contacts, and respect, a position of authority, and a good reputation. A negative score means enemies, rivals, outcast status, or a reputation for being a low-down dirty snake.
Physique is weird and stupid. It’s a measure of your physical appearance and unusual physical characteristics, and doesn’t seem to fit in with the other, more “big picture” distinctions. A positive score represents health, beauty, an imposing appearance, and even odd physical talents, like contortionism. A negative score may mean that you’re ugly, unhealthy, disabled, disfigured, have poor hygiene, or have some particular physical disability, like being sterile. Tell me, when is that going to matter?
Psyche measures your mental, social, and psychological stability. A positive score represents intelligence, coping ability, strong convictions (in the form of Persona traits), and peculiar talents such as photographic memory. Negative scores indicate mental illness, unstable personality traits, and anachronistic behaviour. Like Physique, it seems that it tries to measure traits already covered by aspects and Persona, and admits as much.
Resources covers wealth and property, both mundane and supernatural. Positive resources can indicate not only money, valuables, and real estate, but rare assets such as state-of-the-art technology, priceless antiques, and restricted weapons. It also covers eldritch-related assets, like magical artifacts, a secure sanctum, or a dominion. “Wait,” you may ask, “does that mean if I’m broke, I can just take -9?” That’s a bad idea. A negative score can indicate that you’re not only broke and homeless, but deep in debt to both humans and eldritch.
Servitors are your servants, and how loyal they are. A good positive score indicates that your servants are numerous, skilled, loyal, and possibly supernatural creatures with unique abilities of your own. As with resources, a negative score doesn’t just mean you can’t find good help--it means you have servants you can’t trust, or former servants who have gossiped about you or are actively working against you.
Spirituality reflects your “attunement to your spiritual side.” Okay. A positive score indicates that you’re very spiritual, have some special destiny, enjoy good luck or literal blessings, or have strong ties to other dimensions. A negative score means you are “spiritually tormented” or have some special doom hanging over your head.
Supernature is not social; it’s a measure of your affinity with the supernatural. Again, something already well-handled by other rules. A positive score means that you are especially handy with or resistant to magick, that you lack one of the weaknesses common to your genos, some minor beneficial supernatural quirk, or that you are especially adept at passing for normal. A negative score indicates that you find it difficult to pass for a normal person, that you have no talent for magick, that you’re especially prone to the problems peculiar to your genos, or that you’re cursed.
Temporal ties measures your connections and status in mortal society (beyond the Igors and Scoobys that do your dirty work). A good rating indicates friends, supporters, contacts, social status, and a position of prominence in a social institution like politics, media, law enforcement, business, etc. A negative score means enemies, detractors, being a wanted criminal, or being targeted by an underground mortal group like a cult or an organized crime syndicate.
Besides the categories that just don’t seem to belong, here’s where distinctions get weird: The game recommends you use them as the base for a Benefits & Drawbacks system (analogous to WoD’s Merits & Flaws). Benefits and drawbacks are traits beyond your aspects and abilities, each of which are associated with one of the distinctions.
You can have both positive and negative traits for one distinction, as long as their value adds up to your value in the distinction. For example, if you have Biography +1, you could have both the Mythical Hero (+3) and Lengthy Absence (-2) traits. It also says that whatever bonuses or penalties you get should be equal to the value of the Benefit/Drawback. That’s all well and good in theory, but not only is it extremely vague and prone to abuse, Everlasting’s own examples don’t stick to it.
Some of the listed B/Ds (ha, ha) don’t mention any mechanical bonuses or penalties, and don’t give any advice on when to employ them. Others seem to throw them around at random. The physique trait Catfall (+1) allows you to make an Acrobatics test to reduce falling damage by 1 point per success, while Lost Eye (+1) gives a +1 difficulty to several skills. Okay, those stick to the bonus/penalty guideline--but what about the Psyche drawback Paranoia (-2), which gives you a Paranoid persona trait at 7?
I like the idea behind distinctions; PCs can’t ignore them the way they can neglect to buy social assets in many other games (including WoD games). There are some neat benefits and drawbacks, like True Love (which allows two people to share Destiny points) or Unique Anatomy (which grants things like flexible bones or a second heart). But using the former as a middleman to regulate the latter produces goofy results even in theory, and in practice the whole thing is very open to abuse, even by accident--a “beloved celebrity” benefit could give huge bonuses to a lot of rolls.
Step 8: Preternature and Magick
Innate supernatural powers are called “preternaturae,” because when this game needs a name for something, it goes straight for “cumbersome Latin.” Magick is a separate thing, because this game’s author is a Wiccan.
Ghuls, Reanimates, and Vampires refer to their preternaturae as Nekrosia, whereas Dead Souls call their powers Phantasmata. Again with the funky Latin. Magick is divided into Paths, from Voodoun to Neo-Shamanism to weird paths developed by and for eldritch. “All osirians, and only osirians, practice Ureret (osirian Ur-magick), the most powerful and pure magickal path known.” This book can’t shut up about the races it doesn’t even cover. Magick is covered in detail in Chapter 11, so I think we can leave it alone for now.
Protagonists get a default 30 points to split up amongst various preternature and magickal paths. Each genos also gets some powers for free.
Ghuls get Direction Sense, which not only grants flawless sense of direction but the ability to easily retrace steps, intuitively map surroundings, and even navigate other dimensions with shifting physical laws. They also have Enhanced Senses, Leaping (height/distance is tripled), regeneration, the ability to speak ghoul gibberish and the language of rats, and thermovision.
Revenants get Enhanced Memory, allowing near-perfect recall and photographic memory, enhanced senses, Heightened Grace (perfect balance even on a tightrope), regeneration, a sixth sense that detects spirits, and Abaddon get the reaper form--the ability to appear as a grim reaper, armed with a scythe that counts as “an empowered large polearm.”
Vampires? Vampires. They get body weaponry (fangs) which cause “debilitating damage,” enhanced senses, Heightened Grace, and regeneration.
Oh, it looks like they don’t even list the preternaturae here. We’d have to skip forward to another chapter to complete character creation, which isn’t necessary in Vampire: the Masquerade.
Step 9: Last details
First, level. Level in this game is, I think, just a dividend of your stats. You start off at level 3. Then come the derived stats. Speed is Dex/2. Life is your hit points, and equals Resilience+Strength+Spirit.
Last is Animus, your Magic Stuff Fuel. It’s Inspiration+Presence+Spirit. This is important because not only do all eldritch lose Animus each day, you automatically spend Animus to power your regeneration if you’re wounded. If you run out, you start taking 1 point of “insidious damage” every 8 hours. An eldritch with no Animus, having lost all Life to insidious damage, lingers helplessly in pain and weakness forever or until some kind soul gives you sustenance.
Sustenance! Hey, that’s important. Ghuls gain sustenance by feeding on dead human flesh. A hand or foot is worth 1 point, a half-arm or lower leg is worth 3, chest or back meat is 5, thighs are 6, the head is 3, and organs are two apiece. I’m not going to calculate how much a single human body is worth, but the idea of of a ghul getting by on a diet of human feet is funny and gross at the same time.
Revenants feed by draining the animus right out of people, usually with a kiss. For every 3 points they draw, the victim ages one year (children just have their lifespan shortened). Revenants can also feed on plants and animals, though they don’t enjoy it and it isn’t worth as much. Destroying an acre of crops (by kissing an ear of corn?) grants 1 animus, killing a large and ancient tree nets as much as 5, and feeding on animals grants 1 per year the animal is aged, so you could get by quite well on stray cats.
Vampires gotta have human blood. It works out to a point of animus for each point of “insidious damage” inflicted through blood loss. Draining half or more of a mortal’s animus makes them into a “drone.”
Mortals, who are listed for the sake of comparison, restore animus through eating, sleeping, and meditating.
Torments: the Downward Spiral
Hey, that would make a good title for a White Wolf game. Anyway, “Angst and self-torture are a part of existence that the everlasting cannot escape.” Jesus wept. Each genos has a Torment, and each Protagonist’s Torment rating starts at 3, which can go up and down during legendmaking. Giving in to Torment gives you Destiny points or some other benefit, but your Torment score increases. When it hits 13, you’re completely consumed and become an unplayable character, most like a “short-lived antagonist.”
You can add your Torment score to a test when it’s appropriate, but that automatically increases it by 1. The Guide can also decide to arbitrarily gently caress you over by requiring you to test your Spirit against your Torment. If you fail, you “give in to your dark urges.”
Ghuls’ torment is Degeneration. Most ghuls eventually become more animal-like in both mind and body until they’re just beasts of prey.
Revenants’ torment is Detachment. Most have little or no connection to the living, or even with their own kind, since they’re just haunting a body. Most feel very alone and that loneliness eventually breeds callousness, cynicism, and even cruelty.
Vampires’ torment is Damnation. They’re constantly aware of their dark side; they have to literally feed it to sustain themselves, and it always wants more blood, cruelty, and evil. Vampires who resist damnation gain a sense of “nobility and tragic heroism” and probably sparkle.
Destiny points are Plot points that you use to help your Protagonist. You start the game with a pool of 10. You can also spend them to succeed at rolls, or even to alter major plot points in your favour.
1 DP (ha, ha) nets you an automatic success--that’s the only purely mechanical use. You can spend 2-7 DPs to alter anything from a minor detail to a major event drastically in your favour; a pool of unspent DPs is a license to wreck the story the Guide was planning. Hm, on second thought, maybe White Wolf should have used this…
The Guide is expected to award 1 DP to everyone each session, with up to 3 for especially good contributions, and up to 7 for doing something that greatly benefits the group “such as buying pizza for everyone.”
The other way to get DP is by killing fellow eldritch, because here we are! Born to be kings! We’re the princes of the universe, in a world with the darkest powers! The phenomenon is known as the Rapture, and the killers get to divide up the victim’s BP however they like--it really isn’t explained on a setting level.
Backlash points are bad karma you get from violating the laws of magick, nature, or what the Guide thinks you were supposed to do. “It is almost a ‘you reap what you sow’ law for the Secret World, (though some of us believe it affects people in the Real World as well).” Christ on a spike. The Guide, after giving you BP, can spend those BP to turn your successes into failures or hit you with temporary or permanent bad luck or curses. Any character can also spend the Backlash of any character they’re acting against.
All protagonists, except dragons, start with no Backlash points. Dragons start with 30 Backlash points, and gently caress you Stephen we don’t give a flying gently caress about the loving dragons that aren’t even loving covered in this loving book, okay?
Gaining Backlash from magick is dumb because, get this, you get Backlash from using magick to hurt someone who doesn’t deserve it. So there are no evil wizards, I guess, because they all backlashed themselves to hell. Ghuls gain a Backlash point from intentionally touching a living human with their bare skin, while revenants and vampires gain a point for killing someone by feeding.
Guides are downright encouraged to use Backlash for legendmaking. “Whining about Backlash being unfair is pointless, since it is meant to be unfair.” There’s a chart telling the Guide what they can do with spent Backlash points, from spending 1 point for a temporary Dementia 2 Persona trait, up to 13 points for a permanent, serious curse.
Experience points aren’t the same as Destiny points. There are a couple paragraphs devoted to saying that powergaming and getting all the points in all the cool stuff and all the cool artifacts and poo poo really isn’t what the game is about, but the only important thing is for everyone to have fun and keeping the characters balanced against each other. Protagonists should get 1-4 experience points per session and 2-7 at the conclusion of a storyline. Protagonists should also be required to explain (verbally or in writing) how they’re improving a trait with points.
After the experience chart is an example of character creation. The mark in question is Michael Von Prankh, a Christian knight who became a vampire in the 1400s. He has long blonde hair and a light beard and moustache, and green-grey eyes, and he’s very handsome.
The details of Michael’s character sheet are too boring to write down, but the last page of character creation comes with some amusing suggestions. One is to keep a journal written from your Protagonists perspective, in order to “develop a deeper understanding” of the character. Because to hell with my fiancee and my free time and any serious writing I might want to do, I need to work on my relationship with an imaginary vampire swordsman. “Keeping a protagonist journal is extremely creative,” we are told, because it’s always creative to do what a book tells you to do, and fanficcers are extremely creative people.
After this is some no-brainer advice on describing your protagonist’s aspects and skills in terms of what they are actually like and how they were educated. Then comes the recommendation that the PCs should remain mysterious to one another, and keep their character sheets secret.
I’m going to be as brutally honest as I can: The character creation section reads like its intended audience is the gamers you used to hang out with at the gaming store, the ones who are perpetually underemployed and unwashed, who devote hours and hours to their RPG characters because they have nothing else in their lives.
Next time, on The Everlasting: “Basic Guidelines,” because only fascists insist on rules, man.
|# ¿ Nov 11, 2013 19:44|
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2023 12:32|
I wandered about that Warding power, and figured it was a thematic "everyone gently caress off so we can have a superhero fight" power.
Cyph, this is my character for your Double Cross game, hope that's cool
|# ¿ Nov 11, 2013 20:32|