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PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Kurieg posted:

Yes. If I'm reading this correctly, farming was the tipping point.

Leafcutter ants, motherfucker.

gently caress you, Brucatto, gently caress you.

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Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Cythereal posted:

This guy isn't familiar with the remarkable variety of animals that make and use tools, is he? Not just primates, either.

True, some birds do crazy tool-related stuff. I am just skeptical that the writer of Changing Breeds has done much in the way of research.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


PurpleXVI posted:

Leafcutter ants, motherfucker.

gently caress you, Brucatto, gently caress you.

Ick, do you think he would consider icky slimey bugs instead of his beautiful pretties?

I mean that sincerely. Brucatto has 'predators and charismatic fauna only, because that's all I find sexy' written all over him.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

I mean that sincerely. Brucatto has 'predators and charismatic fauna only, because that's all I find sexy' written all over him.

Furries in general.

What little I recall from the previous thread when it took a crack at this book also includes everything in this book being ridiculously overpowered.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Night10194 posted:

Ick, do you think he would consider icky slimey bugs instead of his beautiful pretties?

I mean that sincerely. This book has 'predators and charismatic fauna only, because that's all I find sexy' written all over it.

There are 4 different kinds of were-spider and a generic "Swarm of bugs" breed.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I just want to see a Were-Human crop up. Someone that becomes a charismatic, terrifyingly confident juggernaut that achieves what it can and changes what prevents it from succeeding so it can. Fifth dot gift would let it always have the right tool for the job somewhere close at hand.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Aphid Farmer Ants, Termites with fungi farms...these insects have lost their ANIMAL SOULLLLLLL.....

Luminous Obscurity
Jan 10, 2007

"The instrument you know as a piano was once called a pianoforte, because it can play both loud and quiet notes."


Also, Captain Planet aside, why would Gaia/Earth care about pollution or w/e? The Earth has been through way worse. Life has been through way worse. Yeah humanity is probably going to drive itself to extinction in its blind scramble for profit, but I can't imagine the planet and nature as a whole are going to care all that much about California becoming a desert or Florida sinking.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


I think Gaia's just happy to have someone to chat with.

The Vosgian Beast
Aug 13, 2011

Business is slow

Kurieg posted:

Yes. If I'm reading this correctly, farming was the tipping point.

Satyros is going to turn out to be one of those guys who read Ishmael and is convinced we need to institute a massive die-off and return to being hunter-gatherers, because we cannot continue to sin by tilling the earth, isn't he?

A Fancy 400 lbs
Jul 23, 2008


Going to?

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

There are 4 different kinds of were-spider and a generic "Swarm of bugs" breed.

I hope there's a jumping spider breed. Those are actually kinda adorable.

(Though I fear the spider-related art will involve breasts. Because why not.)

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


The Vosgian Beast posted:

Satyros is going to turn out to be one of those guys who read Ishmael and is convinced we need to institute a massive die-off and return to being hunter-gatherers, because we cannot continue to sin by tilling the earth, isn't he?
The problem is that the book vacillates wildly between "Hey guys art and music were cool but maybe you should just reign in the pollution a bit." and "REND YOUR CLOTHES! poo poo ON YOUR DESK! FLEE INTO THE WILDS LIKE THE BEAST YOU WERE BORN TO BE!" and natures motives aren't really given in any concrete terms. The changing breeds are just sort of there and are driven to do *things*.

As far as his own personal views, he leans towards "I really wish that magic were real then I could actually be a satyr and hang out with all those cool faeries and have lots of satyr faerie sex and play jazz music and have sex."

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 18:22 on Mar 28, 2015

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

As far as his own personal views, he leans towards "I really wish that magic were real then I could actually be a satyr and hang out with all those cool faeries and have lots of satyr faerie sex and play jazz music and have sex."

A wish most guys can relate to, though he takes it to unhealthy "I hope I never meet this guy in person" degrees.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Doresh posted:

A wish most guys can relate to, though he takes it to unhealthy "I hope I never meet this guy in person" degrees.

Eh, my taste in girls skews away from the kind wearing a wreathe of ranunculus that only want to sex it up after tricking me into a mushroom-dappled glen.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



theironjef posted:

Eh, my taste in girls skews away from the kind wearing a wreathe of ranunculus that only want to sex it up after tricking me into a mushroom-dappled glen.

Also, I for one am partial to modern hygiene. And modern birth control. And modern medicine.

Luminous Obscurity
Jan 10, 2007

"The instrument you know as a piano was once called a pianoforte, because it can play both loud and quiet notes."


Cythereal posted:

Also, I for one am partial to modern hygiene. And modern birth control. And modern medicine.

*sigh*

You just... don't get it, do you?

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Luminous Obscurity posted:

*sigh*

You just... don't get it, do you?

Nope, and I don't think I want to. I agree that modern civilization is doing horrible things to the environment and should probably be restrained and major efforts should be made to fix it, but turning into a were-elk with a giant dong and impaling a hillbilly hunter on my leg, a piece of artwork from this book that I recall from the last thread, sure isn't going to help repair the environment or curb the industrial practices that damage the environment.

Luminous Obscurity
Jan 10, 2007

"The instrument you know as a piano was once called a pianoforte, because it can play both loud and quiet notes."


Deerhoof Antlerdude is the hero this planet deserves.

Everything Counts
Oct 10, 2012

Don't "shhh!" me, you rich bastard!


theironjef posted:

Eh, my taste in girls skews away from the kind wearing a wreathe of ranunculus that only want to sex it up after tricking me into a mushroom-dappled glen.

Gosh, it's like you don't want to be torn apart in a frenzy by Bacchanalian nymphs.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Luminous Obscurity posted:

Deerhoof Antlerdude is the hero this planet deserves.

All the same, I don't think a society of furry serial killer ecoterrorists is going to help.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

I can't wait until Kurieg gets to The Sidebar. He'll know the one when he sees it.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


I'm wondering how antlers and stuff will hold up to automatic firearms.

theironjef posted:

Eh, my taste in girls skews away from the kind wearing a wreathe of ranunculus that only want to sex it up after tricking me into a mushroom-dappled glen.

It's the sex that counts. And the jazz.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Doresh posted:

No game system is perfect (though some are significantly more non-perfect than others). What matters is the fun you have with it.

And there has been way too little F&F in here. Let's fix that!

Great idea! And to counterbalance the hilarious awfulness that is Changing Breeds, I'd like to talk a little bit about a game I'm really excited by. Strap on your mother's sword, kiss your father goodbye, and gather your friends behind the stables, because it's time to go



Beyond the Wall, from Flatland Games, is a quick, rules-light OSR-style game of fantasy adventure. The first edition was published as a free game back in 2013, with a full-color, expanded second edition last year. To date, Flatland has released several free updates, including new character options and a new scenario, and the game's first full supplement, Further Afield, just came out. It covers expanding and adapting the systems in Beyond the Wall to long-form campaign play.

Now, since there are roughly a million OSR-style games of fantasy adventure out there, I wouldn't be wasting your time with an F&F unless something set this one apart. What really makes Beyond the Wall special is twofold: first, while the system supports traditional campaign-style play, it's designed first and foremost for low-prep to no-prep one shots and short games. Taking a page from Apocalypse World and its ilk, the game provides players with Playbooks that serve as backstory generator, relationship engine, and character creation all in one go. Roll on a few tables, add up some attribute modifiers, and write down a few skills and not only does your Village Hero or Witch's Prentice* have a complete character sheet, she's got a history, some NPCs who are important to her, and a bond with the other PCs. GMs, meanwhile, have Scenario Packs, which include a threat, its motivation, and enough random events and connections to the players and their relationships to kick off an adventure and provide some satisfying twists and emotional gravitas. All told, with a group of 3-5 players, you should be able to go from zero to playtime in 30-45 minutes.

* Oh my god you guys, the Witch's Prentice is the best playbook. We'll get to why later.

The second thing that sets Beyond the Wall apart is its theme and inspirational material. Lots of OSR games try to take things back to the pulp fantasy of Howard, Leiber, Smith, et al: mighty-thewed warriors and wicked sorcerers, yadda yadda yadda. Not that that stuff isn't fun, but we've seen it all before. Beyond the Wall embraces older children's and young adult fantasy, with the three primary inspirations being the first three Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Leguin, LLloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series. This is a game about kids on the cusp of adulthood, in over their heads despite their great potential, leaving the comfort and safety of their little village to explore the wide world outside. The Wall in the title, then, is metaphorical. There might be a literal wall, like a palisade around the village or an old wall to the north that keeps the barbarians at bay, but really we're talking about the line between safety and danger, childhood and adulthood, and all that coming of age story stuff. In fact, while I adore the full-color second edition cover at the top of this post, I think the first edition's pencil-sketch cover is wonderfully evocative of this motif:


Just look at that picture and tell me you don't want to go exploring.

God, I love that. The wall stretching off into the hills, the three tiny figures in the middle distance, those crows... it really gives you a sense of the atmosphere of the game. So, let's dive in, shall we?

After a quick introduction that lays out the points I just talked about and breaks down the contents of the book (Core Rules, How to Play, Spells and Magic, and finally the Bestiary), we're off into the core rules. The core mechanics of Beyond the Wall are pretty simple; the book devotes about 30 pages to them, but you can condense the essentials down to a page and still have enough room for your class progression chart and the attribute bonus chart to boot.

What the Numbers Mean
The first "chapter," if you can call a 4-page glossary a chapter, is devoted to explaining the various numbers on a character sheet and what they mean. For all that the Introduction told us that Beyond the Wall is written for people who are experienced with RPGs, this section is still a good primer. I'm just going to hit the highlights here since I'm pretty sure goons reading this thread are at least passing familiar with D&D.

Beyond the Wall has three classes: warrior, rogue, and mage. There are no subclasses or kits or anything like that, although some of the Playbooks we'll see later combine two classes in interesting ways (and the Appendix gives guidelines for making your own "multiclass" characters). Level ranges from one to ten, with even level one representing characters a cut above normal folk--your naturally-gifted young swordswomen, clever tricksters, and hell-raising witch's prentices (seriously you guys, the best playbook). Level 5 is about where you hit fame and fortune, while level 10 is "hero of song and story" territory. In true old-school fashion, the classes are partly "balanced" by having different XP rates: the rogue levels up fastest, followed by the warrior and then the mage. Normally that's not a system I'm a huge fan of, and level matters a bit more in Beyond the Wall than it does in old-school D&D, but it does give the system one more lever to pull in terms of tiering class abilities. We'll talk a bit more about that when we get to the class writeups in a bit.

Ability scores are the same six we all know and love, but Beyond the Wall wisely eschews the pages and pages of tables old D&D was so enamored of and goes for a simple universal attribute modifier like later editions. It's not quite the same table as 3e, with 9-12 being the +0 modifier range and the cap being +3 at 18, but since the game uses a roll-under mechanic for attribute checks rather than a "roll, add modifier, and compare to DC" mechanic, modifiers come up a lot less. Most attribute modifiers only apply to one or two things, and mostly they're what you'd expect: Strength to melee attack and damage, Constitution to hit points per level, etc. The only two that stick out as a bit weird are Wisdom and Charisma: Wisdom adds to saving throws vs. mind control (only vs. mind control, and this is the only place an attribute modifier alters a saving throw), and Charisma adds to the number of NPC followers you can have. That one is mostly weird because hiring a bunch of sellswords to follow you into a dungeon feels more like a D&D trope specifically, not something you see much in the source fiction. Both kind of feel like nobody could think of particularly good uses for either attribute that weren't checks, so these were just sort of thrown in there.

Beyond the Wall's alignments are downright Moorcockian: Lawful, Chaotic, and Neutral. Again, feels a bit out of synch with what I remember of the inspirational fiction, but at least the text makes a point of saying that Lawful and Chaotic aren't just synonyms for Good and Evil: Lawful characters can be iron-fisted tyrants, and Chaotic characters can be freedom fighters. Although:

Beyond the Wall posted:

A brave warrior who wanders the land, righting wrongs which bother him and ignoring those in which he has no interest, is a chaotic character

This guy still kinda sounds like a dick to me.

Combat-related stats are pretty straightforward: Initiative is a static value equal to your level + Dex bonus + a class bonus; you don't roll, you just go in initiative order. Hit points are exactly what you'd expect, and the game uses Base Attack Bonus and ascending Armor Class as all right-thinking d20 games should. It does, however, hew to tradition with saving throws: Poison (also used for paralyzing effects and anything that attacks your physical toughness), Breath Weapon (also used for anything you need to get the hell out of the way of), Polymorph (oddly enough, only used for forced shapechanging), Spell (just spells), and Magic Item (also just magic items). Supposedly this is so it's easier to plug-and-play your favorite classic D&D modules, but ehhhh... five saves is too many and remembering that you roll vs. breath weapon to dodge a collapsing wall is weird and counterintuitive, to say nothing of the old "which save do I roll if a spell gives the wizard a paralyzing breath weapon?" debate. Fortunately, the Appendix has rules for replacing the saves with Fortitude, Reflex, and Will, which I highly recommend using.

Finally, the last thing in this chapter is Fortune Points. All we're told here, though, is that only PCs have them and they can be spent to give you rerolls, help out a friend, or cheat death. Despite Skills being A Thing that we'll talk about soon, they aren't mentioned anywhere in this chapter.


Most of the art in the book is in this pencil-sketch style, with little hints of the supernatural lurking just out of sight. I love the surprise bridge troll.

Making a Character
Despite the fact that the game's designed to kick things off with Playbooks, we get a simple "quick character creation" option for if we're not using Playbooks because we hate fun. (No, the book doesn't say that, but come on.) Character creation fits on a single page with room for that lovely little bridge troll illustration. Each of the three classes fits on a single page after that. Have I mentioned that I really like how concise and slick this game is? Anyways, it's about what you'd expect: 4d6 drop lowest six times, assign to attributes as you like, then pick a class and alignment. This is the first time we hear mention of Skills, and we'll get into them more later, but basically, when you have a relevant skill, you get a bonus to attribute checks. Skills are freeform, and you can either have two skills at +2 or one skill at +4. If languages are important in your game, you can pick a few based on your Int modifier (since the setting is at best an implied one, you'll want to kibbitz with the rest of the table to figure out what languages there are and if they matter). Finally, every character starts out with some basic adventuring/survival equipment, any tools they need to practice their skills (though not necessarily a full workshop--an apprentice blacksmith probably has his hammer and tongs, but he doesn't own a forge or anvil), and 4d6 silver coins to buy other stuff with. 4d6 isn't a lot of money, but it'll probably buy you some leathers and a light weapon at least.

Character creation forgets to tell us how many Fortune Points we get, but spoiler alert, it's three unless we're a rogue.

Warriors are exactly what you'd expect from an OSR game: d10 hit dice, +1/level BAB, no weapon or armor restrictions (actually, no class has weapon restrictions, which is nice). At first level they get Weapon Specialization (+1 to hit, +2 to damage with a chosen weapon, and they start with that weapon for free), and a choice of one of five Knacks. Knacks are small combat boosts like +1 to AC or +1 to all damage, or picking up another Weapon Specialization. They get additional Knacks at 3rd, 6th, and 9th level, and they can take the same Knack more than once.

Rogues aren't actually the traditional "thief" class. They can be, but really they're there to model any hero who gets by on wits, talent, and blind stupid luck more than skill at arms or mystical acumen. They get a d8 hit die, and a +2/3 per level BAB--but unlike the "medium" BAB progression in 3rd Edition D&D, the bonuses round down instead of up. In other words, the rogue's BAB goes +0/+1/+1/+2/+3 and caps out at +6 instead of +0/+1/+2/+3/+3 and capping out at +7. It's a small change, but one I'm kind of baffled by: rogues are supposed to be halfway between warriors and mages in terms of fighting ability, but by raw BAB the rogue doesn't pull ahead of the mage until level 5. The faster XP rate does make up for that somewhat, but still. Anyways, rogues can wear any armor lighter than plate (though it's not clear whether this means "full plate" or "chain and breastplate"), and their chief advantages are extra skills and fortune points: rogues start with four skills, and automatically learn another one every odd level. They also start with 5 Fortune Points instead of 3.

Mages do magic stuff. The magic in Beyond the Wall is more folksy and subtle than a lot of D&D-style games, but in a pinch they can still do some pretty flashy stuff. Mages get a d6 hit die, 1/2 their level for BAB, and can't wear any armor. Sorry, mages. Unsurprisingly their big advantage is magic, which comes in three flavors: cantrips, spells, and rituals. The magic system in Beyond the Wall is fantastic, and we'll talk about it in a lot more detail in a later update. Mages can also sense magic in a person, place, or thing, but it requires a few minutes and intense concentration unless we're talking about seriously big magic.

Next up we get a very short equipment list. Mostly pretty standard fantasy adventuring stuff; worth noting is that weapons are grouped by damage die and cost, so you can flavor your weapon as pretty much whatever. Personally, I would have just given each class a damage rating and had done with it, but this is a good compromise for old-school type gaming. Armor is similarly simple: an AC bonus and a price. Beyond the Wall doesn't worry about encumbrance or armor check penalties or anything like that, and rightly so. Also worth mentioning is that if you're using the quick character creation rules above, it's very likely that only the warrior will start with a d8 or d10 damage weapon, since they start with their specialization weapon for free. And nobody starts with better than leather armor and a shield for armor: the next step up from your 5 sp leather is 75 sp chain mail. Hope that Dex bonus works for you. It's subtle, but a nice way of reinforcing why warriors are still likely to have the best gear.

Normally at this point I'd pause to create a sample character, but that'll be way more fun to do in the next section, with the Playbooks, so lets press on!

Hirelings and Allies
Like I mentioned earlier, this feels kind of like a holdover D&Dism that doesn't really need to be in Beyond the Wall. Still, it's short and simple enough: hirelings are people you pay to do stuff for you, and they usually don't need stats or anything. Allies are more potent NPCs who are your trusted friends; they're usually about two levels lower than you are, and usually you and the GM will share the job of playing them. They also make handy potential replacement PCs if necessary. The rest of this chapter is just guidelines on things like price and availability of hirelings. Nothing super interesting.

Rolling the Dice
Finally we get to the rules! Normally I'd give a game crap for not putting the rules up front, but they're simple enough (and familiar enough to the target audience) that I'll give it a pass this time. Anyways, with the exception of combat and saving throws, pretty much every action you'd attempt is a simple d20 roll, trying to equal or roll under a relevant attribute. Beyond the Wall takes a very simple approach that pretty much anybody can try pretty much anything; actions being contingent on having a Skill is very rare. Penalties usually come in -2, -5,and -10 flavors, but if a task is easy enough to grant a bonus, you should probably just let it happen. Skills, of course, give a bonus of +2 or +4, depending. Given how much story game influence the game shows elsewhere in its DNA I would have liked to see some word count devoted to concepts like failing forward or succeeding at cost, but all we really get is the old "only roll for stuff that's dramatically important" chestnut.

Friends helping each other is a big part of the stories Beyond the Wall emulates, and the game has a simple system for modelling it. Basically, if you have a relevant skill for a task another PC is attempting, and you can describe how your character is helping, your friend can borrow your skill bonus for the action. Simple, flavorful, and cool. In the event that the whole group is collectively trying to do something, Beyond the Wall credits Luke Crane and Burning Wheel for its "loudest and slowest" rule. If a bunch of characters need to, say, notice the sleeping troll before they stumble into its camp, sneak through the troll's campsite without waking the beast, or run away from the recently-woken and very angry troll, have the character with the lowest attribute roll for the whole group. The more-gifted PCs can (and probably should) assist.


Pictured: group activities. Look at the little guys!

Finally, Fortune Points: you can spend a Fortune Point to reroll any failed roll, help a friend out even if you don't have a relevant skill, or stabilize at 1 hp if you're dying. They generally only come back between adventures.

Combat is about as simple as it gets in a D&D clone: no positioning or movement rules, just attack rolls vs. BAB and damage, with attribute checks covering everything else. PCs heal very slowly: 1 hp per night of rest, but it has to be a full night's rest, you can't stay up to keep watch. If someone has a Healing skill or the like that can go up to 2 hp, but otherwise it's "hope you find a magic well that heals the wounded."

True Names
This is the first place where the game mechanics really speak to the fairy tale vibe of the source material. Demons, spirits, faeries, and the like have true names they guard closely and which give power over them. If you speak a creature's true name, you get a +5 bonus on all actions against it and all saves against its powers. Mages with the right cantrip can also bind and command them, and some rituals require true names to be effective. If you know an ally's true name, you can call it out to improve the result of any magical healing or give them a bigger bonus when you help them out--but you have to actually call it out, so better hope nobody's listening.

So how do you find out something's true name? Well, nobody really just knows true names--at least not PCs--so any roll (usually Int or Wis) to figure them out actually gives you a clue for where you might find someone or something that can tell you. So you're not going to just happen to recall the true name of the Queen of Air and Darkness, but you might remember your Nana telling you stories of Old Myrrdwyn who lived beyond the Flying Falls and knew the name of everything that set foot in his woods, and then you're off to the races to find the Flying Falls and the grumpy old hermit.

Finally, most of the time human beings don't have true names, but if you want (and why wouldn't you?) you can say that human children receive a true name, usually at a coming of age ceremony. If you go that route, it's up to the individual players to decide if their characters have received true names or not. And if there's a plot hook more "YA fantasy" than "worried about my upcoming coming of age rite," I don't know what it is.

The Sorcerous Arts
The last section of the core rules before the optional Appendix gives us rules for the three types of magic. Actual spell lists are later, but here's how they work.

Cantrips are minor, freeform spells, like the ability to see the unseen, conjure lights or sounds, or being preternaturally friendly with animals. Casting a cantrip requires either an Int or a Wis check, possibly with a penalty if you're pushing the bounds of the spell or trying to do something very specific. It's easy to summon a light on the end of your staff; it's less easy to create a dozen bobbing, flickering witch-candles to lead your enemies down the wrong path. If you botch the roll, you have a choice: either you're magically exhausted and can't do any more magic until tomorrow (that also means any active spells you had going immediately end) or the magic goes awry in some inconvenient fashion. Maybe your mage light flares up and blinds you for a minute, or those now-friendly animals won't leave you alone. Mages start out knowing two and very rarely learn more.

Spells are most like what you know as D&D magic. In Beyond the Wall, though, spells have no levels. They're all of a piece in terms of power level, and mages can cast a number of spells per day equal to their level. Spells don't have any activation rolls or components, they just happen. Mages start knowing two and can learn more by studying from books or with a teacher.

Rituals are big, powerful, and slow. Rituals do have levels, from 1 to 10, and you have to be at least that level to cast one. Rituals take one hour per level to cast and have pretty steep material component requirements, which can form the seed of a mini-adventure. Like cantrips, rituals require either an Int or a Wis check to cast, but a failure here means you get the result you wanted (more or less) but something goes wrong and creates a new problem you have to solve. Mages start with one ritual and can learn more through study. They can also cast rituals they don't know from a book or a scroll, but at a -10 penalty. In other words, "apprentice grabs a spellbook he shouldn't have and wreaks havoc" is a viable plot hook. Personally, I'd be inclined to waive the level requirement for casting from a book/scroll, but that's just me.

I really, really love this magic system. It feels true to the source material while still giving the mage a limited arsenal of "holy poo poo" effects, and every single ritual has enough inspiration for at least two sessions' worth of story. The spell lists, which we'll get to in about two updates' time, are really evocative and actually feel magical, rather than feeling like a grab bag of super powers. A few D&D staples like burning hands, magic missile, and web are still in there, but just the nature of spells makes casting them feel more like a last-ditch effort, like Gandalf making exploding pine cones in The Hobbit, than like a fantasy artillery turret. I've never been much for playing casters in D&D type games, but in Beyond the Wall I'm really tempted.

Appendix: Optional Rules
The last couple pages of the Core Rules section cover some optional rules, including the aforementioned Fortitude, Reflex, Will save option, brief rules for playing elves, dwarves, or halflings if you want the classic fantasy races, and creating multiclass characters. Multiclass characters are basically constructed by mishmashing features of two classes together, trying to keep a balance between picking the best options and the worse option for things like BAB, hit die, and armor restriction. It's simple enough and mostly "eyeball it until it feels right;" we'll see more examples in some of the Playbooks. Here we get one example multiclass character:

The Elven Highborn is a combination of warrior and mage. She gets the warrior's BAB and saves, a d8 hit die, and can wear any armor lighter than plate. She loses the warrior's Knacks, but instead gets the ability to cast cantrips and rituals, but not spells. She also gets the elven racial abilities: the ability to see in all but pitch blackness, a +2 bonus to command or impress faeries, and immunity to nonmagical disease and poison. As an elf, though, she starts with one fewer Fortune Point than other characters.

And that's the core rules for Beyond the Wall in a nutshell. This post went on a little longer than I meant it to, but the individual chapters are all so short it was kind of easier to just plow through in one go. Overall, despite a couple of quirks, I really like the mechanics at work here. It doesn't do anything really revolutionary, but it knows exactly what to keep and what to jettison to make the game play the way it's meant to. The really cool stuff, though, will come next update.


Next time: How to play, playbooks, scenario packs, and creating the village.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


What was the first game to do the whole Fate/Fortune point thing? It's always been one of my favorite mechanics. Knowing you've got some mechanical backup to try again or pull out of a crazy plan if something goes really wrong is a great way to encourage players to try crazy plans and be heroic.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:58 on Mar 28, 2015

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Oh, hey, I just picked up Beyond the Wall a bit ago and was really digging it. I doubt I'd run it as-is, but it's got some cool ideas and is nice and simple.

Tulpa
Aug 8, 2014


Plague of Hats posted:

Oh, hey, I just picked up Beyond the Wall a bit ago and was really digging it. I doubt I'd run it as-is, but it's got some cool ideas and is nice and simple.

Yeah honestly I would just use the playbook/town generation stuff and then run it in World of Dungeons or something.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Night10194 posted:

What was the first game to do the whole Fate/Fortune point thing? It's always been one of my favorite mechanics. Knowing you've got some mechanical backup to try again or pull out of a crazy plan if something goes really wrong is a great way to encourage players to try crazy plans and be heroic.

I believe TSR's Top Secret was the first game to use "luck points," but I could be wrong.


Tulpa posted:

Yeah honestly I would just use the playbook/town generation stuff and then run it in World of Dungeons or something.

Yeah, the basic engine of it is nothing special, just a pretty well-executed, very light port of OD&D. Other than the magic system and the true name stuff (both of which are easy to port to other systems), it's very much a traditional take. Which is fine; I think it'd be a great way to introduce more traditional players to storygame elements while still giving them a familiar system to hold onto. I will say that the "roll under for attribute checks, but over for saves and attacks" drives me batty; pick a resolution mechanic and stick to it, drat it! Saves are easy to convert, just take the roll-over value, subtract it from 20, and use that as the roll-under number, but attack rolls aren't quite so easy. You could maybe get close by making your attack roll an attribute check with the enemy's AC bonus as a penalty and your BAB as a bonus, and leave the attribute mod for damage, but I haven't crunched the numbers to see if that actually works.

EDIT: Oh man, I forgot to put this in the review, but there is a sidebar in the rules chapter that addresses the roll high vs. roll low conundrum. I'm just going to quote the whole thing, because... yeah.

Do I roll high or low? posted:

Sometimes people get confused in older versions of fantasy roleplaying games because rolling high is good in some situations, while in others you want to roll low. This is not as confusing as it might seem at first.

There are three circumstances under which you need to roll a d20 check in Beyond the Wall. If you are attacking an enemy or making a saving throw, you want to roll high. If you are doing anything else, you are making an ability check and want to roll low. You will get used to it, we promise.

This reminds me of taking my car into the mechanic because it wasn't turning over and being told "well, we don't know what's wrong, but if you just gun the engine while you crank it it'll start. You'll get used to it."

I'd also probably do something different with death and dying--the old standard of "at 0 hp you're down and bleeding out, at -10 you're dead" doesn't really feel right. Maybe steal a page from Darkest Dungeon and say that at 0 hp you're at death's door, with a -2 penalty to everything, and if you take any further damage you have to make a save or be seriously injured (lost hand/foot/eye, pierced by a spear, whatever), or die if you're already maimed.

GimpInBlack fucked around with this message at 21:48 on Mar 28, 2015

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Doresh posted:

I'm wondering how antlers and stuff will hold up to automatic firearms.

Unfortunately, IIRC from the previous thread, which petered out halfway through the book, most Changing Breeds can look down the barrel of a tank's cannon and smile calmly.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Doresh posted:

I'm wondering how antlers and stuff will hold up to automatic firearms.

I see you're not very familiar with the old White Wolf way, which Changing Breeds seems to adhere to, where any tool of the muggle is inferior and easily bypassed by the Edgy Antihero.

Bacchante
May 2, 2012

Friends don't let friends do sarcasm.


Cythereal posted:

Unfortunately, IIRC from the previous thread, which petered out halfway through the book, most Changing Breeds can look down the barrel of a tank's cannon and smile calmly.

What? The ability to have 28 health levels as a 0 XP character and take only bashing damage from firearms and have two attacks for free every round is overpowered? Pshaw! How dare you imply such things about my precious were-elephant, sir!

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




GimpInBlack posted:

I believe TSR's Top Secret was the first game to use "luck points," but I could be wrong.
Ghostbusters (WEG, 1986) and Marvel Super Heroes (TSR, 1984) are other contenders for the earliest use of inspiration/luck point mechanics there depending on how you want to define them. Top Secret would probably predate both, but I haven't seen the original versions, just the Top Secret/S.I. one from '87, so I can't say personally.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Night10194 posted:

I see you're not very familiar with the old White Wolf way, which Changing Breeds seems to adhere to, where any tool of the muggle is inferior and easily bypassed by the Edgy Antihero.

Don't worry, I am familiar. Vampires and werewolves however have the excuse of being mythical monsters that can shrug off most stuff that does not fall into their respective weakness. "My moose fursona gives me super-strength!" strikes me as requiring a whole lot more disbelief to suspend. Or maybe it's just way too silly for me.

Cythereal posted:

Unfortunately, IIRC from the previous thread, which petered out halfway through the book, most Changing Breeds can look down the barrel of a tank's cannon and smile calmly.

Bacchante posted:

What? The ability to have 28 health levels as a 0 XP character and take only bashing damage from firearms and have two attacks for free every round is overpowered? Pshaw! How dare you imply such things about my precious were-elephant, sir!

So humanity lost its way before Mother Nature was considering handing out super powers?

Doresh fucked around with this message at 22:48 on Mar 28, 2015

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Doresh posted:

Don't worry, I am familiar. Vampires and werewolves however have the excuse of being mythical monsters that can shrug off most stuff that does not fall into their respective weakness. "My moose fursona gives me super-strength!" strikes me as requiring a whole lot more disbelief to suspend. Or maybe it's just way too silly for me.

Eh, go sign up with Task Force: VALKYRIE. Their superpower is "Our R&D department has unlimited funding and collaborates with DARPA."

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

Cythereal posted:

Eh, go sign up with Task Force: VALKYRIE. Their superpower is "Our R&D department has unlimited funding and collaborates with DARPA."

And is secretly funded by :drac:

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Simian_Prime posted:

And is secretly funded by :drac:

A sidebar every DM with sense ignores. :colbert: Valkyrie games should be half X-Files, half X-COM.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Cythereal posted:

A sidebar every DM with sense ignores. :colbert: Valkyrie games should be half X-Files, half X-COM.

Yeah, considering that other groups in the same book got multiple options, I'm inclined to believe the writer just didn't like them. "gently caress you, it's vampires, and they're not doing anything interesting."

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


I'm working on the writeup for chapter 1 as we speak. And now that I'm actually reading it in detail rather than skimming over the bits that look boring, I'm finding that it's even more insane than I remember it being.

As in "I have to take screenshots to prove I'm not making this up" insane.


Kavak posted:

Yeah, considering that other groups in the same book got multiple options, I'm inclined to believe the writer just didn't like them. "gently caress you, it's vampires, and they're not doing anything interesting."

I have to agree with this, Vampires don't need yet another shadowy supergroup under their exclusive control, they can keep the other thousand.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Kavak posted:

Yeah, considering that other groups in the same book got multiple options, I'm inclined to believe the writer just didn't like them. "gently caress you, it's vampires, and they're not doing anything interesting."

In my gaming group's ongoing Valkyrie game, which we've been playing on and off for a while, the truth about Valkyrie is more heartwarming: the Director is a former Promethean who completed her Pilgrimage. Promethean in general needs more love, and could probably be featured in this thread for how well-written but overlooked it is. Mainly because it can be incredibly difficult to play, admittedly.

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ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Kavak posted:

Yeah, considering that other groups in the same book got multiple options, I'm inclined to believe the writer just didn't like them. "gently caress you, it's vampires, and they're not doing anything interesting."

I would love it if you meet the vampires and they're playing their leadership completely straight because them being dead doesn't mean they aren't patriots. :911:

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