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Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Mr.Morgenstern posted:

So is it me, or is Hunter the best White Wolf game? I've never had an interest in vampires or werewolves, but playing a southern minister kicking rear end for the Lord seems pretty awesome.

IMO, it's a toss up between Hunter and Changeling for best to actually play. Hunter does lend itself to more scenarios though.

Continuing the WoD train though...

Princess: the Hopeful
Chapter 3 - The Power of Love

So this chapter includes new Merits, Charms and options for higher level (Power Stat 6+) play among other things. These are the tricks that make them a step above Hunters and different from other Supernaturals. Before we get into Merits though, we'll go into a few miscellaneous things first (since that's how the book has them).

Echoes
The light of a Princesses reverberates through the people around her. As she shines, so too can the people around her feel if. If her light flickers, so too can others around her feel it. When a Princess fulfils her Virtue, roll Belief. On a success, everyone around her who witness the action gets the Inspired condition which they can use on any roll in accordance to that virtue. i.e. a Princess displaying a feat of courage or bravery, will inspire the same emotion in others. However, failing to fulfil a Virtue when the opportunity presents itself (likely based on ST interpretation and potentially telegraphed if planned) also triggers a Belief roll. In this case, however, a failure gives witnesses the Shaken condition unless they roll Composure+Supernatural Advantage (I assume Supernatural Advantage is the power stat?). Generally though (as a Rule of Thumb according to the book), Echoes don't provide an advantage over foes. "If a police officer forces a vigilante Champion to stand aside for the authorities he won’t be Shaken by her hurt feelings. Her feelings will be more noticeable but the officer’s own belief in the importance of due process is more than enough of a shield. This goes double for people who actually want the Princess to suffer, while some Princesses have witnessed their enemies having a “my god, what am I doing” moment any Princess who expects or relies on her Echo protecting her from her enemies is an idiot."

The Wiki has quite different rules for Echoes. No idea why and delving into rpg.net for answers does not interest me in the slightest. Their version of Echoes triggers at the end of a scene amongst those the Princess has interacted with beyond the superficial level. A contested roll is made between the Princess and the person they interacted with with the Princess rolling Inner Light modified based on Intimacy and the other person rolling their Supernatural Tolerance or Chance Die if they're normal. Things like having an Intimate or Known Sympathy or how the Princess interacted with the character can modify the roll. Beacons and Sworn can also create Echoes however, their starting dice pool is 0 on the initial contest roll with the second roll using Integrity instead of Belief. It otherwise works the same.

If the Princess succeeds, their Echo is imprinted on the target's heart and triggers a second roll to determine its effects. This roll uses Belief-Shadows. The result determines which version of the Echo condition is bestowed. A success bestows the Light version which encourages them to act on their Virtues while failure bestows the Shadow version, further increasing the weight the World of Darkness bears upon them further tempting them to escape though their Vices. For supernaturals with alternate versions of Virtue/Vice, they use the respective replacements instead. i.e. the Light Echo condition uses a Vampire's Mask and the Shadow Echo condition uses their Dirge.

Echo Condition:

quote:

Beat (Light): When the character is the target of a social maneuver, the maneuvering character appeals to his Virtue, to open one Door without rolling or to improve the impression by one step.
Beat (Shadow): When the character is the target of a social maneuver and the maneuvering character tempts his Vice, the temptation opens one Door without rolling and improves the impression.
Resolution: The character may resolve the Condition when he spends Willpower on an action in accord with his Virtue (Light)/Vice (Shadow). This may add an extra +2 bonus to the dice pool, add an extra +1 to a boosted resistance, or convert the dice from the spent Willpower to a single automatic success.

Furthermore, from the Wiki, a Princess's Echo does not prevent against psychic intrusion or mind altering affects beyond the Supernatural Tolerance they gain from their Inner Light. However, a Princess's Echo also bypasses psychic and mental defences and barriers. The wiki also notes that all this Echo business should only be rolled for NPCs that might show up again since it happens at the end of a scene making it meaningless if the NPC doesn't show up again.

Henshin
Transformation

The transformed form of a Princess represents her idealized self. Smarter, faster, stronger, better. The first Transformation is called a Blossoming which is generally an unconscious act done at a time of great need or danger. Afterwards, her Phylactery will manifest itself. This object represents the power sealed away inside and generally takes the form of any small, simple object. A pendant or watch would be obvious versions. A Princess cannot Transform without her Phylactery so more dickish STs may try and find ways to take those objects away or prevent their use. Don't play with those people. While transformed, the Princess is allowed access to her Charms, transformed dots and other benefits

To Transform, either spend a Wisp to make it Reflexive or roll Belief+Inner Light-Shadows. On a Dramatic Failure, the Phylactery discorporates and must spend a Wisp, a Willpower and a full round resummoning it. On a failure, the transformation fails after spending a full round. On a success, the transformation goes through as an Instant action. On an exceptional success, it's reflexive instead of instant.

Returning to normal can be done at any time, reflexively and must occur after spending her last Wisp or when she falls asleep (I assume falling unconscious also falls under this category?). At the end of a scene or after half of an hour while transformed, the Princess must roll Belief+Inner Light to maintain the transformation. On a dramatic failure, the Phylactery discorporates and the Princess returns to normal. Getting it back is done as above. On a failure, she must spend a Wisp to maintain form and receives a cumulative -2 penalty for rolls to remain transformed until she ends a scene in mundane form. On a success, she stays transformed. On an exceptional success, she doesn't have to roll next time.

Dual Identities
Like any hero that transforms, Princesses have a dual identity that most people can't connect together no matter how similar they look (see: Sailor Moon). Only with evidence can someone tie the two identities together. Mechanically, to tie the two identities together, it's a Wits+Subterfuge vs. Wits+Subterfuge contest. The observer takes a penalty based on Intimacy (akin to Mage Intimacy ranges for spells with a greater penalty the less is known about the Princess) and the Princess takes a penalty equal to their Sensitivity. If the observer has more successes than the Princess, they've cracked the secret identity. Otherwise, the veil can't quite be pierced. If the observer gets a Dramatic Failure, not only do they not succeed, but they get a cumulative -1 on the identification roll. If the Princess does that, the observer gets a cumulative +1 because she was so bad at hiding it. These cumulative bonuses and penalties can cancel each other out. Directly revealing it by the Princess or seeing the transformation does not need a roll (obviously), but if they're seen close together or pieces of evidence are revealed, that can trigger an investigation roll as it counts as evidence. Bonuses can be applied if there's more than one piece of evidence gathered.

Supernatural senses can't quite pierce the veil behind the transformation until they realize the Princess can transform. Once her nature is known, the supernatural can use Wits+Subterfuge or their own special roll for examination. The roll is contested as above with the same penalties based on Intimacy. Intimacy to one identity does not translate to the other though so an effect targeting a Princess through an Intimate connection is stopped upon their transformation (suck it Mastigos Mages).

Phylacteries
These are not the same objects that house the souls of liches. These are the source of power for a Princess's transformation. Generally some method is done to activate with the minimum of touching it. The Phylactery tends to transform with them becoming part of their Regalia. In terms of stats, Phylacteries have Size of 0 to 2, Durability equal to Inner Light and Structure equal to Belief. If the Phylactery is lost or destroyed please call the nearest Princess Help Desk for assistance, all it takes is a Wisp and a Willpower and a full round of concentration to bring it back. If someone else were to obtain it,they couldn't use it themselves, but they would get an Intimacy connection equivalent to "Love" (that's a -2, the stage just below Sensory at 0). Any technique that might sever a Princess's connection to her Phylactery would, by nature, destroy it so she can always get it back.

Practical Magic
These are the subtle tricks Princesses can do in either form and are based on the Queen that they follow. The Radiant Courts, Courtless and each Twilight Court have their own forms of Practical Magic.

For the Radiant Courts, Princesses can raise an attribute (or reduce an opposed attribute) roll by spending Wisps at a one-to-one ratio up to a maximum Wisps per turn. Each court has a particular set of attributes (which I listed earlier) that they can apply this to. Again:
  • Clubs: the Resistance Attributes
  • Diamonds: the Mental Attributes
  • Hearts: the Social Attributes
  • Spades: the Finesse Attributes
  • Swords: the Power Attributes
High Belief can enhance the amount of die received. At 8, the fist Wisp spent adds 2 dice instead of 1. At 9, the first two Wisps add 2 dice. At 10, as 9, except the first Wisp adds 3 dice.

Courtless Princesses are mostly the same as Radiant Princesses except they can enhance any Attribute or Skill that they have Transformed dots in rather than based on their Court and the maximum Wisps they can spend is based on the number of dots they have in that trait as well as their normal limits.

The other three courts each work differently. Those under the Court of Tears penalize rolls instead of enhancing their own. Each wisp spent degrades a target's roll by one step with the lowest step being no 10-again and 1s cancelling successes. In the event that more 1s are rolled than successes, the roll counts as a dramatic failure and the Princess regains her spent wisp. The Princess can spend multiple Wisps per turn to curse several targets or downgrade a single target several steps. Example: Three wisps can take three targets from 8-again to 9-again or one target's rote roll to the lowest step. At 8 belief, the first Wisp counts as though two were spent. At 9, the first two count as two each. At 10, the first counts as three and the second counts as two.

The Court of Swords do something entirely different. The more they are bloodied, the harder they fight. For 1 Wisp, wound penalties turn into bonuses and does not check for unconsciousness as the last health box fills with Bashing damage. Note: Iron Stamina merit does not reduce the bonuses. Higher Belief enhances these bonuses. "At Belief 8 the first wound penalty becomes a +2 bonus instead of a +1 bonus, at Belief 9 the first two wound penalties become a +2 bonus, and at Belief 10 all three wound penalties are enhanced." The book seems to have messed up the bonus for Belief 9 and the Wiki doesn't seem to include this last portion at all :iiam:

The last court is the Court of Mirrors. They don't get Practical Magic! Instead, their Transformed and Mundane self is reversed such that turning into their Transformed self is reflexive and indefinite and turning into their mundane self requires a roll or Wisp expenditure. Belief has no bearing on this either.

Next: Merits - Modified and new

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Mr.Morgenstern posted:

So is it me, or is Hunter the best White Wolf game? I've never had an interest in vampires or werewolves, but playing a southern minister kicking rear end for the Lord seems pretty awesome.

Thinking about killing vampires is giving me wood.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Mr.Morgenstern posted:

So is it me, or is Hunter the best White Wolf game? I've never had an interest in vampires or werewolves, but playing a southern minister kicking rear end for the Lord seems pretty awesome.

You can do that in oMage too. And you can do everything else. I really like Genius. Those far-future timelines are great.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Night10194 posted:

I played a game that wasn't WoD but was definitely modeled after it as a social worker who got involved first with Changelings and fae and then later became kind of a supernatural child services agent for the city of Baltimore, solving domestic disputes between werewolf tribes and runaway kids abducted by vampire cliques. It was some of the most fun I ever had with an urban fantasy game, just going around helping people and solving mysteries. It's definitely a legit and cool way to play.

That sounds really fun! I've always wanted to run a Hunter game centering on this compact from Spirit Slayers that tries to help and treat young werewolves to get their anger issues under control from a therapy perspective, with that same focus on solving problems and kind of being in the world rather than combat and horror.

"Okay, so the shapeshifting curse of the lunatic moon god and the blood oaths of your forsaken ancestors say that the wolf must hunt- but is that what YOU want to do, Steve?"

e: The Talbot Group is their name I think.

Kellsterik fucked around with this message at 06:57 on May 30, 2015

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Kellsterik posted:

That sounds really fun! I've always wanted to run a Hunter game centering on this compact from Spirit Slayers that tries to help and treat young werewolves to get their anger issues under control from a therapy perspective, with that same focus on solving problems and kind of being in the world rather than combat and horror.

"Okay, so the shapeshifting curse of the lunatic moon god and the blood oaths of your forsaken ancestors say that the wolf must hunt- but is that what YOU want to do, Steve?"

e: The Talbot Group is their name I think.
The Compacts from Spirit Slayers are great because basically loving none of them understand how werewolves and the Spirit World operate and work and they all make stupid mistakes in the process of doing what they think is the right thing.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD


Talking completely out my rear end here but Hunter, Changeling, Slasher and Geist are my favorite lines from nWoD.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ain't nothin' stopping no-one from doing a more optimistic and gentle urban fantasy story. Stories about how everybody's got problems and deep down, even most monsters are still just people are just as valid as any gritty examination of how far you'd go to rid the world of rear end in a top hat Draculas.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Crasical posted:

Talking completely out my rear end here but Hunter, Changeling, Slasher and Geist are my favorite lines from nWoD.

I never thought I'd say it, but Mors's review of Hunter really warmed me to that line.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Crasical posted:

Talking completely out my rear end here but Hunter, Changeling, Slasher and Geist are my favorite lines from nWoD.

Promethean is amazing from a writing and story perspective, but it's godawful to try to actually play in my experience.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Hunter and Changeling are my favorite nWoD games to play as-is. I'm really looking forward to their 2e updates even with how consternated I am by GMC. I'd look forward to a Mummy 2e too, but I doubt they'd do the level of trimming to make me care about an edition split.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Hunter: the Vigil benefits from all the general improvements that came with the new World of Darkness line...more coherent direction overall, a stable of writers that had gotten a lot of the dumb excesses of the 90s out of their systems, a reasonable degree of mechanical improvement...as well as from being the game a lot of people wanted the original Hunter to be to begin with rather than Frailty: the RPG. When Hunter: the Reckoning was being teased it was with art depicting badass hunters using sawn-off shotguns to blow away werewolves and Buffy lookalikes kicking vampire rear end, only what got delivered was a much different sort of game where Hunters were essentially yet another World of Darkness supernatural subtype with an extremely narrow focus both thematically and mechanically.

The way Vigil approaches things is so obvious that I can only imagine that Reckoning grew out of someone's desire to do the exact opposite of what everyone expected out of sheer stubbornness...just like there are all sorts of different vampires strewn throughout myth and media which you can stitch together into a single game, there are all sorts of different monster hunters. The scientists and investigators, the blue collar Joe Averages getting by with grit and determination, the secret holy warriors, the government black ops teams...the success of Vigil is in large part due to its flexibility. If you want to run a game about average people being thrown into supernatural situations and banding together to take back the night one block at a time it's got you covered, if you want to be Delta Force with ghost-piercing bullets it's got you covered there too. Or psychic FBI profilers, or ancient mystical societies, etc.

Hunter also benefits from having an extremely straightforward concept; there are monsters, go kill them (or capture them, or maybe try to de-monster them if that's your bag). Even games like Vampire or Werewolf which are way simpler to summarize than, say, Promethean, still require a bit more elaboration as to what you're supposed to do as a group of vampires in the big city or a werewolf pack or whatever compared to Hunter's simple mission statement of hunting monsters.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Unknown Armies, part 3: Combat, bloody combat



So, here we have the combat rules. As mentioned in the last, incomplete F&F review for this game it has one hell of an introduction. Like the last reviewer I'll let it speak for itself:



...
...
...


Now, that is a great intro to the section. Not only because it's generally a little bit gut-wrenching and disturbing like any good horror game, but because it helps to emphasize two big ideas behind Unknown Armies[:

First, when you engage in combat you aren't typically going to be battling eldritch monsters or dynamiting elder gods...you'll be killing human beings. They might be human beings with problems or dangerous human beings...but they're still just as human as you are. If you kill someone you have ended a human life. Obviously that carries its own horrible psychological weight but that means there will be people who miss that person, people who might come after you and, of course, the police. In UA, lethal combat should never be undertaken casually and should always have consequences.

Second, you are not good and your foes are not evil. UA rejects objective morality (and indeed, objective reality). Almost all conflict in UA (especially at the higher levels) are conflicts of ideology. People might be willing to kill for their beliefs but that doesn't make them monsters or you a roaming paladin. In a good UA game things are not black and white and often you have to decide just how terrible a person are you willing to become in the pursuit of your beliefs?

There are a few exceptions to both of those, there's the occasional magickal abominations or humans so crazed that they're basically mad dogs...but they're the terrifying exceptions not the rule. Remember UA's tagline: "a game of power and consequences" and here is where it starts. With a knife, gun or even just a brick you've got the power to end a human life and there are consequences that come with that.

quote:

Bigfoot has a social security number

So, how does combat work? Well, Unknown Armies has a bit of a reputation as an extremely lethal game...but that isn't really true. It is possible to die from a single hit from a shiv but overall it isn't very likely. Combat isn't as lethal as something like standard Call of Cthulhu, for instance. It may not be insanely lethal but it is brutal. If you go after someone with a baseball bat you'll find yourself spending many bloody painful minutes smashing their head in, not just knocking their blocks off.

Combat Overview

-Initiative-
When combat starts everyone rolls their Speed stat or uses their unmodified Initiative skill as their spot. Highest successful rolls (or your iniative skill) go first then the highest failed rolls. Ties are broken by a roll-off. Initiative stays the same throughout the combat but you can sacrifice an action to re-roll if you want to try higher.

-Attacking-
When you attack you can roll an appropriate skill (usually Struggle or Firearms, by any other name). The goal is to roll as high as possible (usually, it can be complicated) but remain under your skill rating. There are a lot of options that might "Shift" your skill rating (adding or subtracting from your skill itself, not the roll). For instance something like being blinded is -30% to your skill but attacking an opponent who's shackled hand and foot is +30%. Some of the shifts are surprisingly small (shooting at someone while jumping through a plate glass window is -10%) and many are extremely specific (shooting an opponent carrying a big, off balance frame backpack gives you +10%) but overall it's just meant as a guide for the GM to hand out situational bonuses or penalties. You can also apply Focus Shifts which is the equivalent of an "all out" or "wild" attack, adding a bonus (+10, +20 or +30%) to your attack roll but granting the same bonus to everyone else attacking you. This is applied at the start of combat which means that everyone who acts before you has a chance to murder you before you can take advantage of the bonus. However, Focus Shifts definitely make ranged combat very deadly. If you know your opponent can't reach you this round a +30% bonus is a big difference.

quote:

If you bury empty coffee canisters end to end around your house, lids on, then you will never see the Northern Lights from your yard, and the IRS will never audit you.

-Dodging-
Normally, attacks are unopposed: if you manage to roll under your skill then you've hit your target. However, you can sacrifice your action to Dodge. You can then roll your Dodge skill in response to attacks, if your roll succeeds and is at least as high as your opponent's attack roll you can avoid the attack entirely. If you roll succeeds but is higher than the opponent's attack roll you take half damage. Those with incredible (85%) Dodge skills can Dodge and take an action in the same turn.

-Damage-
Now, damage gets a little tricky. There are two types of damage: firearm damage and hand-to-hand damage.

If you successfully hit someone with a gun then you inflict damage equal to the amount you rolled, up to a maximum set by the power of the gun. This ranges from as low as 35 points for a .22 pistol to as high as 170 for something like a sniper rifle. So, a guy armed with a glock (max damage of 50) and a Firearms skill of 30% can't normally inflict more than 30 damage. If he trains and trains and gets up to a 60% skill he ends up with a max of 50 damage without getting a bigger gun. On a critical hit (a roll of 1) you inflict max damage for the weapon (which is why some guns have a damage score higher than 100). A fumble (roll of 00) results in a jam or misfire.

Guns are surprisingly not as dangerous as you might expect (especially if your attacker isn't an amazing shot) and most people will take several hits to die. Even the deadliest sniper with a high powered weapon has a pretty good chance of only moderately wounding most targets. Of course, UA isn't really a game about military action and combat is meant to be more up-close and visceral...the advantage of a gun is uncertainty, sure you might just wing someone but on a good enough roll you can blow a big hole through them...you feel lucky?

The most dangerous is, unsurprisingly, fully-automatic weapons. A 3-round burst adds +10% to your skill and a full-auto burst adds +40% (but requires a minimum roll of 20 to hit at all). Both ignore the normal damage maximum for the weapon and just inflict the damage you roll.

quote:

JFK was in fact the Lindbergh baby, abducted by Joe Kennedy who performed a ritual on the baby. JFK gained a power allowing him to tap into the power generated by the fame of his biologic father to fuel his own popularity. The ritual is still performed in the Kennedy family.

Hand-to-Hand combat is a little bit trickier. When you successfully hit someone in hand-to-hand you inflict damage equal to the sum of the dice you rolled. So a roll of 23 inflicts 5 damage, a roll of 96 (if it hits) inflicts 15. For this purpose a "0" counts as a 10, so a roll of 10 inflicts 11 damage (1+10). Weapons add a bonus to this based on three factors: is it sharp? is it heavy? Is it big? For each "yes" you add +3 to the damage. So a Knife (sharp) adds +3, a sword (heavy and sharp) adds +6 while a fire axe (big, sharp and heavy) adds +9. On a crit you just plain kill your target. They're dead. If you fumble (00) then you take the damage (that is 20+weapon bonus). Matched successes (55, 44, 11, etc) inflict firearm damage, plus the weapon damage so long as you're using a +6 weapon or higher.

Knives in close quarters combat inflict 1 point of damage even on a miss. The text here points out just how difficult it is to avoid being at least grazed by a sharp, fast blade in close quarters and I certainly get where they're coming from...but 1 damage is such a small amount when compared with the average Wound Points of a character it seems like a bit of a needless bit of record-keeping.

If your Struggle skill is your Obsession and you manage to get a matched success you can get cherries which add additional effects. These range from adding damage or dazing them to grabbing or blinding them. The exact effects are up to you, subject to gm approval.

quote:

The Golden Gate Bridge is laced together with yards of scar tissue. It’s the only thing holding California together.

-Other Damage
Then there are some rules on other forms of damage or hazards.

*Point-Blanking: Basically execution of a helpless target. You roll your skill. On a success they're dead. On a failure you either inflict firearms damage (for hand to hand attacks) or the maximum damage for the weapon (for guns). It also forces a Violence based madness test.

*Drowning: You pass out after [Body] seconds unless you manage to get a breath. That's about 16 rounds for the average (body 50) person. Suffocating someone is handled in a similar way, although using a garrote properly can cut it down to 3 rounds.

*Car Wrecks: The rules for this are interesting but a little bit schizophrenic..the GM rolls 1d10 for every 10mph the car is going and then uses any two numbers from the results to assign damage. For instance in the example they give of a 50 mph crash the rolls are 7, 7, 3 and 2 giving possible results of 23, 27, 32, 37, 72 and 77. The GM should pick the damage based on things like position in the car, seatbelts, air bags, safety features, if the car rolls, etc. Given how abstracted shooting, stabbing or smashing people is it seems like the rules for this are a little bit out there. I'd probably personally just do something like firearm damage to those without belts and hand-to-hand damage to those with, maybe with a bonus or multiplier based on speed. Also, unless you explicitly state you're wearing a seat belt you need to make a Mind roll to have it on. Seems a little bit of a dick move there, I think the average person wears their seatbelt more than 50% of the time.

*Falling is handled by rolling 1d10 per 10 feet fallen and adding the dice together. A controlled, deliberate fall subtracts the highest dice. Amusingly this means that most average people can expect to survive falls of 50 feet or more and walk away.

-Non Combat Actions

To perform most non-combat actions in a fight you must operate under a 1-round delay. The first round you have to declare whatever it is you're going to try and do on the next round but you can still Dodge or attack. On the second round you can perform whatever action you're attempting but cannot attack or dodge. You can't change these actions after they're declared, at least not beyond slight adjustments (for instance it mentions that if you were going to run to a car and get in you could instead crawl under the car or maybe jump over it and hide on the other side. This assumes that whatever it is you're doing will take only 1 round (3 seconds) to accomplish. Longer actions use the same rules but require more rounds to complete, although there's more freedom to adjust or cancel your actions. If your Struggle is 85% or higher you can still attack/dodge in the same round as a non-combat action...if both Struggle and Dodge are 85% or higher you can do all three at once!

It's worth noting that doing things like running away or repositioning yourself counts as non-combat actions (presumably something like charging an opponent would not).


quote:

Most people’s morals and sense of authority comes from a psychic parasite living in their corpus callosum. You have to worry about the people who don’t have the parasite. You can spot them easily: they’re the ones with bad dress sense.

----Damage and Healing-----

Everyone gets Wound Points equal to their Body Score (so the average is around 50). However, although you know your Wound Points you don't get to know how much damage you've taken. All damage is tracked by the GM and you have to figure out how bad-off you are based on the GM's description of your injuries. One of the best reasons to be careful about engaging in combat because you never quite know how hosed up your situation is.

In fact, the GM tracks each injury separately (another reason why the knife fighting rule is fairly annoying), because recovery is handled on a wound-per-wound basis.

Once you've lost between 25% to 30% of your Wound Points the GM tells you that you now have a -10% shift to your stats. Once you've lost 60-75% of your wound points the penalty increases to -20%. Oddly enough this only affects your Stat rolls...your skills are explicitly not affected which actually makes the penalty fairly toothless: almost all rolls in UA are skill rolls, not stats.

Minor injuries (anything below 10% of your maximum wound points) can be healed with basic first aid. If you've got some bandages, first aid kit, etc you can roll an appropriate Skill (like Doctor or First Aid) and the patient recovers the sum of the roll (just like hand-to-hand damage). You have to make separate attempts for each injury and no injury can be reduced below 1 Wound Point...that last point has to be recovered with time. first aid has to be performed within an hour of the injury and if the treatment fails it can't be repeated for that injury without professional attention.

Any major injuries (10% or more of your total) requires professional help. If you can get to a hospital or similar facility within 1 hour the GM rolls the doctor's medical skill and you recover Wound Points equal to the roll result (just like firearm damage). Like minor injuries each injury is a separate roll and you are always left with at least 1 wound point per injury. If you can't get treated within the hour the damage healed is the sum of the dice (just like first aid).

Any remaining wound points requires rest and attention from a doctor or nurse. You recover 2 wound points per day of rest. If you've got 60% or more of your total then you're well enough to remain moderately active and still recover 1 wound point per day.

Any attack that does more than 50 points in one injury will never fully recover. The exact nature of the injury is up to the GM but could include a permanent reduction in wound points, a skill penalty...maybe even missing limbs.

quote:

Holiday Inns are sentient beings, tied in a large collective mind, with their own agenda. The people working in Inns are just pawns. People sleeping in Inns are sometimes warped in subtle ways, sometimes untouched, sometimes just disappear. Maybe it depends on the rooms, maybe not.

After this there's a brief section on car chases which I'll skip, and a very useful section on combat strategies (use weapons, sucker attacks are a good strategy, don't fight to the death) and a primer on how firearms such as legal issues, transportation, and forensics. It's all very helpful but I'll pass on going over the details here since it's not really game relevant.

Next we get into Madness and the rules for sanity.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 11:02 on May 30, 2015

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Kai Tave posted:

The way Vigil approaches things is so obvious that I can only imagine that Reckoning grew out of someone's desire to do the exact opposite of what everyone expected out of sheer stubbornness...just like there are all sorts of different vampires strewn throughout myth and media which you can stitch together into a single game, there are all sorts of different monster hunters.

Reckoning was a really weird beast. It was one part sequel to Wraith* (Zombies and ghosts are like the one thing you can hunt and not get rekt and they're everywhere because of the Sixth Maelstrom), another part quickly abandoned Exalted tie-in**, and unable to cover those other hunters because a lot of them had already been covered (Malleus Malificarum=Society of Leopold, researcher-hunters=the Arcanum, there was a Men in Black group already, etc).

*Orpheus was both a continuation of Wraith's metaplot and also not totally part of the World of Darkness- someone should really review it, because it's supposed to be great.

**The Imbued were supposed to be Solar Exalted, and all the other splats were supposed to be linked to one as well. Exalted started as the mythical prehistory of the World of Darkness- they dropped that out of the metaplot for both very quickly, but it still left a lasting impact on the concepts for a lot of things.

EDIT: That Unknown Armies combat chapter reads like it's judging the reader every time I see it.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


It just makes you think about the moral weight of violence. And to emphasize how desperate people need to be to get to that point. Though I still played in a UA game where I was possessed by a demon, and I melted another character.

The car chase rules are good. I'm not sure why they're in UA - didn't John Tynes also use them in Feng Shui?

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Count Chocula posted:

It just makes you think about the moral weight of violence. And to emphasize how desperate people need to be to get to that point.

It probably says a lot about me that I always take it like that.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Kavak posted:

EDIT: That Unknown Armies combat chapter reads like it's judging the reader every time I see it.

I had that first impression when I originally got the book as well, but I came to realize that it's really just a way to impress the game's themes upon the reader. It's a lot like a movie. You don't expect a grim, brutal oscar-bait movie about the horrors of war to treat violence the same way something like say...Kill Bill for instance. The writers are basically trying to get across the idea that although this is a game about supernatural horror it's also a game about personal horror and the experience of shoving a knife into someone and watching them cry and beg as they bleed out on the ground is supposed to be just as awful for your character as seeing someone pull off their face and shoot tentacles out of their eye sockets.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



oriongates posted:

I had that first impression when I originally got the book as well, but I came to realize that it's really just a way to impress the game's themes upon the reader. It's a lot like a movie. You don't expect a grim, brutal oscar-bait movie about the horrors of war to treat violence the same way something like say...Kill Bill for instance. The writers are basically trying to get across the idea that although this is a game about supernatural horror it's also a game about personal horror and the experience of shoving a knife into someone and watching them cry and beg as they bleed out on the ground is supposed to be just as awful for your character as seeing someone pull off their face and shoot tentacles out of their eye sockets.

It also goes a long way towards reinforcing that the PCs aren't soldiers or otherwise trained killers who have had time and training to grow at least comfortable with the idea of potentially having to kill another human being. You're just normal people forced into it, and that can gently caress people up badly.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It always felt to me like The Reckoning was 'Well, the players want to fight the protagonists of most of the other gamelines, so I guess they can have a game about that, but we can't let them touch those darlings.' Sort of an outgrowth of all the old 90s White Wolf NPCs who were all incredibly strong and untouchable, as if that would stop GMs from making them someone players could interact with. Hence why every monster could take 6 turns to your one and treat lethal as bashing etc and the game did everything it could to emphasize you were dumb fuckups.

And yeah, the Exalted tie-in was incredibly stupid. I'm really glad they dropped the Messengers and Imbuing from the new one. Amusingly, old Hunters were basically much more like Slashers.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Kavak posted:

Reckoning was a really weird beast. It was one part sequel to Wraith* (Zombies and ghosts are like the one thing you can hunt and not get rekt and they're everywhere because of the Sixth Maelstrom), another part quickly abandoned Exalted tie-in**, and unable to cover those other hunters because a lot of them had already been covered (Malleus Malificarum=Society of Leopold, researcher-hunters=the Arcanum, there was a Men in Black group already, etc).

It didn't help that their most visible media incarnations were Gauntlet clones that ran mostly counter to the themes of the game as a whole.

Compared to Vampire, which had Redemptions and Bloodlines. The first of which has an.. obscenely happy ending(if you went for it) but was still mostly vampire, and Bloodlines which was vampire through and through.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Cythereal posted:

It also goes a long way towards reinforcing that the PCs aren't soldiers or otherwise trained killers who have had time and training to grow at least comfortable with the idea of potentially having to kill another human being. You're just normal people forced into it, and that can gently caress people up badly.

I think it's two other things. First is John Tynes, who although he's normally a great writer, has a bee in his bonnet about this kind of thing: he also wrote Power Kill, a meta-RPG where you play a session of D&D and then afterwards play a session where you're a bunch of guys in an asylum who actually just broke out and murdered some random hoboes in the subway. In other words basically the RPG version of Mazes and Monsters.

Second is the fact that it rubs in the idea that combat is scary because it's the balance for normal folks compared to the assorted supernatural stuff in the game. Yes, that guy can put a curse on you that will make you go bankrupt over time, no matter what you do or how you resist. But you can explode his skull into pieces and make him never see or do anything he loves again. Only the very highest power levels in UA actually give protection against that kind of thing, and even then it can be overcome.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Kavak posted:

EDIT: That Unknown Armies combat chapter reads like it's judging the reader every time I see it.
Frankly, it kind of is. He admitted that he wrote it not long after 9/11 and the idea of writing a rules module about killing people in a :bustem: way felt disturbing and wrong.

Kurieg posted:

It didn't help that their most visible media incarnations were Gauntlet clones that ran mostly counter to the themes of the game as a whole.
I always got an impression from Reckoning fans that was, to be frank, annoying. It seemed to me like there were people who loved the game while hating the art direction, because they really wanted the game to be 90% about being a mentally ill fugitive and 10% about actually fighting monsters.

When Vigil was announced, there was a guy on RPGnet who started a thread basically so that he could pester everyone who responded into writing a Frailty roleplaying game, just for him.

quote:

Compared to Vampire, which had Redemptions and Bloodlines. The first of which has an.. obscenely happy ending(if you went for it) but was still mostly vampire, and Bloodlines which was vampire through and through.
Redemption was pretty silly because it was basically Vampire: The Dungeons & Dragons, complete with hordes of powerful vampires as disposable mooks and consumable magic items.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:22 on May 30, 2015

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Genius: The Transgression, Miscellaneous Critters and Antagonists

The Guardians of Forever are what's left of the time police after the destruction of the Terminals, and they're as overworked, underpaid, and corrupt as any real-world police agency. Mechanically speaking, they're Inspired - powerful Inspired. Every Guardian has Skafoi 5 at absolute minimum and a functioning time machine, and it's an extremely rare utterly raw recruit who doesn't have several dots in other axioms and a kit of powerful wonders, especially wonders that work by messing with time. They may or may not be somehow affiliated with some version of the Peerage or Lemuria or another organization from some point in time and have various bonuses and endowments to those ends, and from a strict mechanical point of view they're functionally like any other genius.

The Illuminated are likewise just geniuses with Obligation 0 from a mechanical point of view.

Void Engineers are another subset of Inspired devoted to a peculiar ideal, specifically the Cold Ones from the End of Time in the far future timeline. Void Engineers work to break the Guardians of Forever and shatter the timeline to bring the Cold Ones into a pre-Heat Death universe, and they are believed to have infiltrated both the Peerage and Lemuria. If there's any sort of large-scale organization of Void Engineers, no one trustworthy has talked about it.

Then there are manes, most notably the Ubermenschen. The Nazi Party as such is long dead, but National Socialism lives on in many bardos and hundreds of manes. These are the works: genetically engineered super soldiers, Nazi occult research and more conventional mad science, treasure hunters looking for the Ark of the Covenant, and worse. Anyone who's played the Wolfenstein games, particularly 2009 or The New Order, has a good idea of what to expect. Nazis are most common in the Hollow Earth, but have secret bases in Antarctica, the dark side of the Moon, the mountains of Argentina, and elsewhere. They're still manes, meaning they and their wonders trigger Havoc, but they aim to gather enough Mania to turn themselves real and conquer the Earth.

The Martian Empire has accepted a peace treaty with Earth and relations are currently friendly, but it's all too possible that the disembodied brains of the Overlords and the barbaric Throgs might change their minds, especially now that the Overlords understand the nature of Havoc. On the other hand, there's quite a lot of Martians happy to trade and work side by side with the Blue Planet, and most of Mars is safe for a curious genius to visit.

Boltzmann Brains are weird as hell even by Inspired standards, disembodied brains that pop into existence from random quantum fluctuations. Created by pure abstract quantum chaos, Boltzmann Brains are utterly unpredictable and have no connection whatsoever to the rules, principles, and facts of reality as everyone else understands it. Puts them in good company with the rest of the Inspired world, but these things still give even Lemurians the creeps.

DeRos are primitive subterranean sadists, savages, and the occasional amok robot (thus the name "devolved robot.") A CHUD or Crawler by any other name.

The Fallen are a collective grab-bag of religious beliefs and spiritual entities long disproved by modern science. If you want to take the stance that such things are real or use the ideas presented by other game lines like Demon or Promethean, go nuts, but if not they serve just as well as manes.

The Third Race are the snake-men who created Lemuria, and while they are believed extinct it's possible that a few somehow survived in secret. They're pretty typical Inspired manes with a snake theme.

Genius posted:

Machine Elf
Quote: "When you lack the needed lore/And cannot manage applications/All you'll get is 404/To test the limits
of your patience."

Background:

Machine elves, sometimes called transforming elves or fractal elves, are the names given to creatures created
by failed calculations and equations. They are birthed, not solely by the broken dreams of the scientific
consensus, but also by the failed thoughts of their computers. The children of botched and unfinished
calculations, of paradoxical mathematical systems, machine elf populations have exploded since the
proliferation of the personal computer. Though the first reports of these shy, clever creatures go back to
Newton's time, they are now one of the most common kinds of manes, living rich and intricate lives behind
computer terminals and under the floors of server stations. Lemurians, who call these creatures kobaloi,
possess a unique affinity for the creatures, and the machine elves in a Lemurian's unmada field often come to
represent the Lemurian's dreams and beliefs.

Paper goblins are manes born from the failed dream of a paperless office and society, and are more or less standard urban fantasy goblins just made out of paper and susceptible to Havoc. They really, really hate Atomists and the feeling is reciprocated.

Phantom Slaver Yetis are mostly born out of the disproof of the classic Himalayan cryptid, but with some other weirdness thrown in for good measure. True PSYs are incorporeal creatures of light, but they can and often do possess people, transforming them and their offspring into more conventional Yetis and basically doing the Body Snatcher routine.

Orphans are rogue, feral wonders trying to survive by absorbing Mania however they can. I've covered them previously.

And finally, the other supernaturals.

Genius posted:

Even Stranger Phenomena:

Not every strange thing in the World of Darkness stems from Mania. In the shadows of the cities and the
savage places where humans rarely go, the dead walk, beast-men hunt, and sorcerers twist and warp the laws
of nature. Some of these beings can be allies to mad scientists, but others are deadly threats that view
geniuses as just another kind of prey. Geniuses must tread carefully around these creatures, and though
alliances and treaties are possible, the dark things of the world are products of insanity and twisted logic
every bit as bizarre as what Mania can spawn.

Vampires:

Inhabiting every city, feeding on the vulnerable and working to maintain systems of exploitation and brutality
where their behavior fades into the bleak statistics of urban violence, are once-human things that sustain
themselves on the blood of the living. Geniuses call them hemophages, a detached and clinical term for
monsters that can't easily be categorized or understood. Several cities have seen all-out wars between
geniuses and hemophages, brutal cycles of violence and revenge. While a mad scientist's grasp of fire and
solar power is enough to keep many hemophages at bay, they are cagey, shadowy creatures who possess a
variety of psychic and biomorphic abilities, as well as control over mortal servants.
While violent clashes have occurred, many cities see a coexistence between hemophages and the Inspired―or
complete ignorance from both sides. After all, geniuses and blood-suckers have very little reason to interact.

The walking dead make dangerous and rather useless test subjects, and while a mad scientist's blood is as
nutritious as any human's, hemophages are predators, and only desperate or foolish predators target the
strongest in the herd. Weirdly, this near-complete lack of common ground can allow harmonious existences
between geniuses and vampires, who, if they know of one-another, may find themselves passing dreary
nights together as the mad scientist performs experiments and the vampire merely exists in its frozen,
deathless state, connected together only by a common separation from humanity.

Werewolves:

Not all geniuses are city dwellers, but those that favor isolation in the deep wilderness know that ancient
spirits stalk the forests and wastes of the world. These shapeshifters are part of a self-propagating pattern
within the larger human genome, a code that's passed through certain lineages and that occasionally activates
to produce a full-blown "wolf-man." Some geniuses have hypothesized that these creatures are a sort of
planetary white blood cell, destroying dimensional infestations from hostile aliens. Others are comfortable
with a more bald-faced explanation: the wild places are full of nature spirits, cruel and primal, who keep their
own counsel and their own laws.

Genius-shapeshifter interactions in the wild rarely end well. Werewolves have been known to tear apart
whole collaboratives for offending against obscure spiritual or philosophical concepts, and an unprepared
genius is easy sport for a pack of hungry shapeshifters. This often results in retaliation, as well-briefed
geniuses armed with scanners and Katastrofic silver weapons drive the monsters off. Others even try to hunt
and harvest them, though shapeshifter-hunting offers a very short life expectancy. But times are changing for
both mad scientists and the "nature spirits," as the peers try to reach out and find common ground with these
alien beings. And increasingly, even the "spirits" have come to live in cities, stripping them of their mystique
and making them just another part of the weird concrete ecology that geniuses must navigate. These urban
hunters are more comfortable with both regular humans and the geniuses among them, allowing for greater
cooperation, or at least tolerance, between the two groups.

Mages:

There are other ways of transforming the world, ways based on ancient tradition and transcendent
understanding, of glimpsing something beyond and above this world. Those humans who glimpse what
overlies everything are called mages, and they can work terrible sorceries: flying, stepping across space and
realities, hurling elemental devastation. While a genius can do all of these things, mages work their wonders
with will and lore, not machines and madness. At first glance, there seems to be common ground between the
Inspired and these mages: both are, at least outwardly, humans who have seen beyond the gray raiment of
this world. Though this is the attitude of many curious mad scientists, mages who know of Inspiration seem
unanimous in their opinion of geniuses: the Inspired are simply not human. They are human-shaped things
inhabited by cosmic intelligences of unknown motivations and origins. This has produced a great deal of
friction and even violence in the past, as fundamental language barriers prevent cooperation between the two
groups. It seems as if, when dealing with mages, a genius' Jabir becomes a toxic, infuriating thing that drives
sorcerers into paranoid rages.

One of the few exceptions to this fearful hostile is the relationship between the Scholastics and a mage
"foundation" called the Free Council. These two groups have found some common ground and can, to a
limited extent, communicate meaningfully. This is important, for―whatever mages' opinions on what the
Inspired "really" are―geniuses and mages can look a lot alike from the outside. The two groups have
occasionally been forced to get together when a mistake is made, and a new "mage" turns out to be a recentlycatalyzed
genius or a "genius" betraying weird and unusual abilities is in fact a newly-Awakened sorcerer.
These awkward and embarrassing exchanges must be made quickly, before incorrect training drives the
student insane or exposes him to dangerous extradimensional intellects.

The only other unusual aspect of genius-mage interaction is when Lemurians interact with the "Seers of the
Throne," a magical organization dedicated to control and world domination in the name of their transcendent
posthuman masters. Since both groups are, nominally, in the world domination racket, one might expect
competition, cooperation, or even outright war. Instead, the groups seem literally unable to notice oneanother.
Individual members can, if forced, recognize one-another's existence, but the memory quickly fades
and the incident is soon forgotten. No one is sure what causes this unusual effect.

Other Things:

There are odder and rarer things than the walking dead, nature spirits, or magic spells in the World of
Darkness, and geniuses are familiar with only some of them. The most difficult aspect of these interactions,
for the Inspired, is sorting out what is the product of Mania from what operates by its own set of rules. Ghosts
and spirits certainly exist, whatever pseudoscience a genius uses to justify them, but whether they're selfactualizing
memory engrams or trans-organic monitoring agents, they aren't properly part of a mad
scientist's "world," and they exist and function based on a closed set of rules to which Inspiration does not
have special access. Sometimes it's harder to tell: some reanimated dead things are the products of mad
science, while others are a different order of creature entirely. Certain alien abductions and hybridizations
bear the mark of Mania and the frantic dream-energy of a bardo, while others are outside of a genius'
purview. Cryptids, zombies, ape-men, golems, elementals, gods, and rarefied essences all move through the
World of Darkness, and distinguishing those that, however powerful and terrifying, follow the warped
dictates of mad science, from those that represent doors to an even larger and stranger world, is nearly
impossible for all but the most gifted scholars of the weird.

Of course, everyone knows these things don't actually exist, right? Right? Depending on the needs of the game, vampires and werewolves and mages and more might simply be more manes or particularly twisted Inspired.


Next time, the z-splat stuck in the back of the book for some reason.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Slasher

Sometimes, the best way to catch a thief is to bring in a thief - and the same with serial killers. Sometimes, a VASCU team has no choice but to turn to a convicted slasher for help, mostly when they find a similar MO. This generally means a copycat killer, and the captive slasher often provides insights that lead to capturing the new one. After one disaster resulting in both the original and copycat going free, however, the Director of Operations mandated that any liaison with slashers would be one slasher to an entire team of agents. Even then, some killers try to break up the team emotionally, either to escape or just for the chance to kill again. Many try, most fail - psychics don't even need to talk to them, just read their minds. The procedure stipulates that any deals must be one-way, but most VASCU agents take something to offer with them - they can't alter sentences, but they can give books or other media to killers that can't visit the prison library. Some have even bought cooperation with a bag of Burger King. Despite all they do, however, it's never a purely professional relationship, and never easy. Slashers don't like VASCU, and VASCU tends to be uncomfortable about working with people who have no regard for human life.

Despite it all, they're undermanned, too. New killers are rare, but no one can stop them all. When things get really bad - say, the Hunt Club's been rea`lly active or a cult is doing mass sacrifice - then something has to be done. On those times, they try to deploy disposable resources under command of a field agent. These have been dubbed suicide squads. Most often, it's a cell of monster hunters who used to work with a Vanguard agent, or otherwise ended up in prison. They're offered conditional release, as long as they work with a handler. Occcasionally, it's not just hunters - sometimes, an agent picks out criminals who profile as being good at taking down a slasher. Three basic rules, though: First, one agent per three convicts at all times. Second, if anything happens to the agents, the convicts are considered escapees. Third, no lethal force without an agent's permission.



The relationship between a squad and their handlers can seem friendly, but it isn't. The handlers are government agents, the squad are criminals. The handlers can send them back to prison at will. Normally, that's incenttive enough to work together, but even so, some hunters try to escape. It doesn't go well, usually - the handlers are psychic, after all, and it's drat hard to hide your plans from them. The friction means that these squads never really become a solid, bonded group. They're also temporary, meant to deal with single threats. Some outlive their mandate, however, and the handlers keep the squads active.

VASCU's primary target is slashers. They form the majority of VASCU's casework. For monsters that are less human - well, it's hard to arrest a werewolf. You have to wait for the chain of command to decide whether to shoot to kill or to try to arrest anyway. Hope you can survive long enough. Slashers are what the agency has the most information on - meticulously detailed case reports, psychological research, etc. But it's all on paper, for the most part. Most isn't digitized yet, or in VICAP, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. The problem is, data purity restrictions disallow any reference to supernatural traits, because most cops would never trust the system if they did. About half of VASCU's cases are on VICAP, with some file codes to tip off agents to check the physical files in some cases. The rest are on paper only, and it can take a day to find the right files - or more. Investigations must be documented and written up, in detail and without lying. Only VASCU reads those reports, after all. They operate similarly to police investigations, just with psychic powers. Green agents have a bad habit of freaking out on their first case, though, what with not having FBI training and not really having much time to get used to what they can do or will have to see. Not that transfers have it easier - they tend to think the rest of the team is crazy until they get some time put in.

VASCU investigations tend to have three parts. First, crime scene anlaysis, looking for clues via forensic examination and holistic study of the scene. And, of coruse, psychometry. Then, there's interviews. You need good social skills to extract information from witnesses, especially things they don't want to talk about. Telepathy helps here, as is the psychic ability to reconstruct crime scenes to catch lies. Still, those psychics are often in danger of getting too close or assuming a victim's trauma into themselves. Both of these provide ways to research a killer, typically done via profiling and tracing similar crimes. Every field office with VASCU presence has at least one profiler, though often psychically focused on interviews rather than profiling. VICAP also proves useful in crime research, though again, you need to get physical records for more detail in VASCU. Once a killer's been IDed, it's time to make the arrest. In this case, it's no longer solid police work - any slasher arrest is deadly dangerous. Some slashers are physically terrifying, while others are calculating trappers with more intellect than any normal human. The intent is often arrest, but as noted above, it's not always possible. Self-defense often means guns, and and with little backup, it's often up to an agent's discretion when an arrest may need violence.

VASCU's view of the supernatural colors all of their interactions with other monsters. They tend to ignore them until they've confirmed that the monsters are killing people. If a monster hasn't murdered, VASCU won't go near it. Without evidence, after all, they can get sued for wrongful arrest. Even a werewolf has legal rights. Despite their track record of success, the rest of the FBI doesn't like them and will take harassment charges seriously. You want to hunt monsters, do it on your own time and keep the unit out of trouble when you do. Rather uniquely among conspiracies, they collect only psychological profiles for monsters. They have details on the most common types, but because their cases so often end in monster death, they tend to believe each one is unique. Their porfiles apply both to supernatural critters and to humans who engage in the same kinds of murder. They don't know that their profiles apply to actual groups of monsters with related powers.

Despite this, they have a rather deep understanding of vampires. They know that not all creatures that feed on blood kill. Those that do are often psychologically similar to serial killers, feeding for psychosexual fulfillment. They miss something about their former existence, and the act of killing lets them feel in control, particularly because the feeding act cause near-sexual pleasure in the victim, allowing them to believe the victim enjoys it. Most vampires who kill have cooling-off periods, though some undergo a trauma that turns them into spree killers who are almost bestial in nature. Vampiric minds are rather like human ones, but some possess dangerous powers of suggestion. They keep one particularly bloodthirst vampire in a windowless cell in Lansing, but that's an exception.

Werewolves are also often similar to human killers, though VASCU admits they're extrapolating on some points. They get a lot out of zoological studies as well as human killers, for these guys. Werewolves share many social traits with pack-based predators. They are territorial, and become increasingly anxious when alone, which often translates to murderous anger. Like many human territorial killers, they are always vigilant for people they think are invading. Once they have a target, nothing will dissuade them. They are furious creatures, and provoking them can lead to psychopathic rampages, probably a reaction to a rigidly hierarchical society that causes feelings of repression and rage. Their kills rarely have a sexual angle - they're just necessary to maintain the territory. Some even view it as a chore. They feel no remorse over murder, but understanding a predator-prey dynamic can help understand what they think when killing. Some of them eat human flesh, but there's nothing to suggest they need to.

Some people kill in pursuit of what they think is magic. Human sacrifice is normally a ritual affair, but some survivors talk about other things. "Witches" who kill people tend to do so either as part of a specific ritual, say to try and resurrect a dead loved one, or as an end itself. That's two different profiles. Desperation is always involved, however. People who engage in human sacrifice feel powerless or wronged and believe that by killing, they will somehow cause a magical effect to give them power. In their heads, there's nowhere left to turn and it doesn't matter any more if someone dies, as long as they get what they think they deserve. Some of these killers feel vindicated by VASCU attention, believing someone finally recognizes them as equals. More commonly, they believe the FBI hunting them is just another way to keep them down. Witches who sacrifice people for power believe themselves superior to normal people, feeling that their knowledge makes them one of the people who actually matter. Normal people, who lack enlightenment, are meaningless. Thus, they believe the power they gain is more important than the person's life, so killing is justified. Some witches will form alliances with agents to catch these killers, on the belief that human sacrifice is bad for the magical community.

Stereotypes posted:

Ashwood Abbey: My partner came from NYPD Special Victims. She'd dealt with sex-crime victims, abused kids, the worst poo poo you can imagine. We were after a bastard who liked to chop up old men with a hatchet. We got there too late. These fucks were already in residence, violating our perp like animals. They hadn't even put him out of his misery. I threw up harder than I ever have before and when I looked up, she'd shot every last one of them. She said self-defense. With the look in her eyes, I didn't argue.
Network 0: Computer crime is still crime, but we don't deal with that. I spent some time with a bunch of YouTube shock-shooters, and they weren't entirely useless - though I had to be very careful that my face didn't end up on screen. They helped me get a lot of evidence, though they were more than a little wary about showing their face in court. They gave me the original videos to show at the trial, I kept them away from other Feds.
Ascending Ones: I worked with a cell of these freaks for a while when I was seconded to the Dubai police. We went after the Headhunter, a guy with quite the decapitation fetish. I was fine with their drug use, to be honest - different country, different rules, we drink coffee, they chew qat. What really got me was their burning certainty that what they were doing was right. They gave the Headhunter a taste of his own medicine, and I don't think any of them felt bad.
Task Force: VALKYRIE: I've lost count of time these military Men in Black have showed up and put their high-caliber footprints all over one of my cases. I try to take it like a man and file the paperwork, but some days I wonder if they don't have the right idea. I don't think even the Director knows I've got an application form in my desk drawer, but for the moment, I'm happier doing justice than getting revenge.

VASCU gets called in to investigate repeat killings, and a significant number of those are just humans who may be monstrous but aren't slashers. Not every serial killer is one. When they get called in, they need to take the case. It's the law. Almost all agents are fine with that. They're FBI, the FBI catches criminals. There's no fundamental difference between hunting a serial killer and a predatory pedophile, and for some, putting the latter behind bars feels drat good. A few think that dealing with these threats is a waste of time, drawing psychic resources away from crazed killers, and if there's evidence that the case they're on doesn't actually involve murder, they may open a cold case just to get an excuse to leave. Those who do this too often have to explain themselves to the Director. Either way, the strategy is the same no matter what the target is. You get the story, fill in the cops and support the case. Normal, mundane cases get a lot more support from local police and forensics teams. Sometimes, they even get called in to investigate hunter cells - after all, hunters leave corpses, and a dead witch looks like anyone else. Three of 'em? You're a serial killer and you're cell's a cult.

There are several departments within the unit. Some never get field assignments, like the Violent Crime REsearch Team or the Neuro-Cognitive Research Team that focuses on the Wintergreen Process and the powers it grants. Paranormal Research and Detention have close contact with killers but are restricted to Lansing and would only get fieldwork in the case of a major breakout - unlikely. The Field Liaison Department are the wild cards of VASCU, the guys who liaise with other hunters and who handle all requests to assist against known killers, though typically that's just a rubber-stamp job. They join cells under a number of cover stories and use them to arrest or kill murderers. Others act as handlers for suicide squads. Field Liaison tends to bend the rules whenever they feel the need, and a few even focus more on hunting monsters because of what they are, not what they've done, but they have to be careful to avoid being taken as rogue agents. The Operations Department is the largest by far, the field agents who go out there and investigate and profile serial killers. About 70% of VASCU is Operations, and the Director of Operations is in charge of all of VASCU. Some of them have extensive law enforcement training, while others have none at all. Every team has an experienced agent, just to ensure VASCU's name doesn't get dragged through the mad too much. There is no X-Files team, but Special Projects Department comes close. They're the ones who handle extreme cases. Some use their powers to the point of mental breakdown, others have a knack for getting into killer headspace. They go after the really weird ones - the guy who kills and flays his victims, then wears their face and is treated as if he's the victim by everyone he meets. The guy who never touches anyone, but everyone he talks to later goes mad and kills. They know every case they get may be the one that drives them insane, but these guys cannot be allowed to stay free.

Status in VASCU comes from a mix of formal rank and informal respect. High-profile collars help, but consistency is more important than showboating. At one dot, you're psychic. You got a chance to skip normal training. The job can be brain-crushing, but the thrill is real. You can buy Teleinformatics merits. For three dots, you've been at this a while, and might've been a transfer or an old SCIU veteran, or otherwise went through the full FBI training program. You are a full special agent and the rest of the FBI respects you. You get a free dot of Status (FBI). At five dots, people keep saying you should take an easier job, but you'd never leave VASCU. You understand serial killers and have probably faced someone who ended up in Lansing. You get the benefits of the Inspiring merit when among other VASCU agents, whether or not you qualify, and it stacks with normal Inspiring.

Next time: The Hunt Club

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 17:26 on May 30, 2015

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


VASCU are cool people I would love to play as.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Slasher

Some people are only alive because killing them is a crime. Everyone has some internal point they mark as the point where you no longer have the right to live. Even people who are against the death penalty have that line in the sand, the point where people just aren't people. Killing because of that impulse is illegal. The Hunt Club doesn't care. Most people never hear about them, and when they do, it's the same way they hear about the Masons - a secret society held together by fox-hunting lore. Rumors talk about being blooded, counting kills, and the many strange rules that govern their dealings. It's just another old boy's network. This is broadly correct, but the prey in question isn't foxes - it's humans.

The society started in Edwardian England. Its founders came from other insular gentleman's clubs of the time, and by the 19th century most members supported the stated goal of these clubs in name only. The Hunt Club wanted to fix that, providing an organization that allowed membership exclusively to those that hunted. Originally, it was just illegal fox hunts that no one really cared about. PEople even began to see it as a legitimate...and that was the problem. Hunting foxes had lost its edge. Rather than find a new goal, the inner circle decided to refocus. They wanted the thrill of the hunt, not just a job as fox-exterminators. After a few abortive attempts to find new prey, including a proposed African trip, they decided to dissolve the club. Only five people remained when the club brought out its latest quarry in 1881 - two homeless London drunks. They left the horses and dogs behind, chasing the men through the woods on foot with long knives. Every member shared in the kill, and the Hunt Club had at last found its prey. Two other hunts, one of which reinstated the horses and dogs, led them back up to 20 members. EAch was a killer, relishing the chance to hunt human prey. Finding out about the club was not eeasy, but a gentleman with the right sense of style and flexibility of morals might get a card from the inncer circle. They had to kill at least once before they'd meet in person, and bring a trophy with them - usually an ear or finger. New members then joined the prey on their first hunt. If they could defeat a hunter without killing them, they got in. Anyone who didn't live, or who killed one of the hunters, got an unarmed grave.

By 1903, the Hunt Club had spread across the English-speaking world, with organized chapters hunting in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and upstate New York. Lots of open space and society to draw members from. Outside the US, there were chapters in Bombay, Vancouver and Melborune. It couldn't last - people got sloppy. The winter hunt of 1904 brought the attention of the Society of Twelve Keys and the police. Detectives seized telegrams and letters, coordinating police forces worldwide. The club's members fought hard to stay free, but a worldwide murder ring was too much, and great tabloid fodder. Fully half the London club got life senstences, and the rest of the membership around the world scattered to avoid capture. For twenty years, the police believed them disbanded. Unfortunately, the idea was too persistent. The inner circle had the hunt in their blood. The old ways would no longer work, however. They met in secret and decided to fragment. Each started in a different city, recruiting through the same obeservation that worked so well the first time. This time, they decentralized. It worked, and has worked for over 80 years. Any time the local cops think they've caught up to the Hunt Club, the killers vanish.

The modern Hunt Club still considers humanity the greatest prey, but they don't work as a unit. Each club runs its own version of the game. At the most basic, you get points for killing. Basic murder scores poorly - they want elegance. A single well-framed kill, perhaps with the organs arranged by elemental association of the cardinal points, is worth a hundred times more than some random stabbing in the street. Members must demonstrate style - they are gentlemen. Every club scores the game in July. Those who finish in top five get significant cash prizes out of the club's membership dues. First prize is seven figures, usually, but this isn't about the money - it's about the thrill, the feeling of the kill. The matching of wits. Thanks to subjective scoring, winners sometimes only need to kill one person, but that's vey rare.

The top three huntsmen each year get the real prize - they're next year's judges. The judges ensure some continuity between years, as most members play not just to their own style but those of the judges. A judge with a love of faked suicides will encourage a whole slew of copycat crimes that year seeking his favor. Some members, of course, draw police attention. As each club is still a gentleman's club, they can call on the others for financial or legal support. Thgat only works if the club can buy the police or convince a jury. Sometimes, that's impossible due to the evidence, and when that happens, the members turn on them, killing with style and grace. It's a great way to gain points.

Recruitment is primarily through one of two ways. First, members may approach a promising killer with a taste for elegant kills and the finer things in life. A member must have the tastes if not the funds of a gentleman. In rare cases, the memberships can be waived, paid for by an existing member in good standing who will take responsibility for the new blood - though if the new guy breaks the rules, the sponsor is considered to as well, and vice versa. A few hunt down the club's rumors. Word spreads. Often, these are the killers who work via intermediary or trap, who are hidden. They meet with the inner circle and judges, and in that case, a judge acts as their sponsor. This is an old-school organization, and the oldest rules reinforce them as a place not for women. Nobody's actually challenged the rule, but a number of female killers have shown the style needed, and 1982, t he London club suggested the following update to the rules, which were incorporated almost unanimously. Female mmebers are considered the same as men, and married couples get no special treatment - each must approach the club on independent merits.

quote:

Any woman of good standing in society, who demonstrates a knowledge of the Great Game, an understanding of elegance in the way that members conduct their duties, the independent fiscal capability to meet the membership demands, and the desire to take her place alongside members in the Great Game shall be considered the ultimate equal of a man of similar standing under these rules.

Stereotypes posted:

Ashwood Abbey: Ugh. Poseurs. They play at being hedonists, but they're only willing to take it so far. They don't see the slippery slope beneath their feet, wet with blood and fluids. It's like...if only they'd be willing to just let go and slide down the rest of trhe way. Until then, we have some lovely consolaton prizes and parting gifts.
Network 0: I had the most disturbing experience with a whelp shooting video for an Internet site. He had assumed from my upbringing and demeanor that I was somehow insane, as if good breeding was the reason for standing over a houswife with a straight razor soaked in her blood. I allowed him to interview me, though I had to...cut it short. The poor boy never stood a chance.
The Lucifuge: One man I spent some time with claimed he had a great secret - his father was the Devil, and Hell bent to his will because of it. I naturally assumed he was out of his mind or seeking attention, but when our target discovered us prematurely I learned that I was wrong. The man summoned hellish fire from his hands. I doubt he was the only one. The natural role for his kind is as lords and masters of humanity, but I cannot allow that.
VASCU: If any group annoys me more than the Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit, I haven't met them. These Feds seem to have a wide berth when it comes to investigating people who happen to do the world a favor by separating the wheat from the chaff. Worse, they've access to profilers and investigators who know about the Club's existence, but not about our members. We must be very careful, but all is not lost. One of the higher ranked agents has a Club tie in his wardrobe, though he'd never admit it.

The Hunt Club divides itself not by money or social status, but by the three rulebooks. EAch club adheres to one or another, but members are free to select the specifics. The London Rules are the oldest. Followers of the traditional rules for the Great Game select their victims from street people, prostitutes and others that won't be misssed. They tend to be either old or new money, used to luxury and socializing with the same class, and are certain their victims don't matter. The Boston Rules, on the otherh and, are almost philanthropic. Victims should be those that squandered their lives, who hold people back, who are alive onl;y because it is illegal to kill them. Of course, members who follow this rulebook often have idiosyncratic views of what holds humanity back, and still come from privilege, but most of the killers who come looking for the Club prefer this ruleset. The Melbourne Rules, on the other hand, focus on the ancient ideal of the hunt. It is the least common rulebook, but highly respected. It focuses on challenging targets - those that have the skills to look after themselves, or those whose deaths will bring scrutiny. Detectives, agents, soldiers, captains of industry.

Status in the Hunt Club is strictly tied to position in the Great Game. At one dot, you're an initiate. Someone's watching over you - either you're new or lowly placed, and they want you to improve. You get a one-dot Mentor in the form of one of the judges. At three dots, you're solid mid-table and may have come close to a prize before. You know what the judges like and tailor your kills to them. You get the two-dot version of Telltale Murder, or three dots if you already have two dots. If you already have at three, you no longer suffer its drawback. At five dots, you've been a judge, possibly more than once, and your winnings more than cover your dues. You kill with grace and style. You know you are right. You get the Damnable Certainty merit, or can use it twice per session if you already have it.

So, you want to play a Slasher. The book notes that you want to be careful if you play around with mental illness - the mentally ill are not always dangerous, certainly not always killers. You're going to want to consider how aware your guy is of what he does, and why they kill. Slashers in most ways resemble Hunters, mechanically, with a few changes. First, no Profession or risking Willpower. Instead, you get an Undertaking, essentially the splat defining how you kill and what your unique abilities are. You get one stat automatically raised to 4 (for rippers, the less supernatural kind of slasher) or 5 (for scourges, the more supernatural kind). Slashers have Morality still, somewhere between 0 and 4. So, let's talk about Undertakings. Each kind has two aspects - the ripper and the scourge, basically exactly how mystical the slasher's traits are. Every Scourge type also contains a Ripper's traits as well as its own.

Next time: The Undertaking.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm not really sure I like the idea of the Hunt Club very much. It feels sort of like a shoe-horned in 'Every splat/concept must have a global conspiracy' angle.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

Certain things run based on size, and size contributes to your health. The issue with changing breeds is that Brucato started handing out size increases to the base human form, apparently on whim, because iirc the were elephants are still size five in human form and aren't any bigger than the were tigers in war form.

Or to put it another way, a were tiger in human form is bigger than a werewolf in his war form.

Well, if you're going to fail, better fail in both fluff and crunch. Or something like that.

Traveller posted:

An Echo Resounding


Oh right, the cover image.

This looks similar to how SWN handles things, sans the mass combat rules. But the beauty of these OSR games is that you can mix-and-match what you want because every sub-system has its own rules.

Stars Without Number

Eat this!

Time for another round!

Chapter Three-2: Starships (and artifacts)


Spiffy.

Starships are pretty darn important for the galactic sandbox, especially for those worlds who can't build their own and are dependant on whatever shady merchants visit them this week.

The heart of every starship is its spike drive, a fusion-powered engine that encases the ship in a bubble and "drills" it into a higher dimensional frequency where the laws of physics are on vacation and allow for some FTL surfing.
Deep space exploration is not possible with a spike drive, as they require the gravitational conditions found only at the edge of a solar system to drill out and back into normal reality. The drive can however do some low-power phasing inside a system, allowing for energy-efficient velocity changes and even making the ship intangible enough to not worry about small debris. This trait can be used defensively in combat to try to phase into a frequency the enemy isn't shooting at, making his shots pass harmlessly through the ship.

Spaceships have the same - if slightly different working - stats as normal vehicles, but operate under a larger scale. Gunnery-weapons are the only thing that can scratch a starship, and even then they do only 1/4 damage that is then reduced by the ship's Armor. Even a lowly fighter is pretty hard to shoot down with rocket launchers.
Ships also have a proper Armor Class, representing its ECM and other defensive systems. Furthermore, they have Power, Free Mass and Hardpoints, which set an upper limit for installed modules (split into fittings or weaponry).

Anyhow, now onwards to ship construction!

The first step of is selecting the Hull of the ship. These vary in class (Fighter, Frigate, Cruiser or Capital) and their purpose (civilian or military). Each class generally has a civilian and military option, with the exceptions of Frigate (which splits the military choice into the smaller Patrol Boat and a proper Frigate) and Capital (which only has military choices in the Battleship and Carrier).

Starship Fittings

These are various useful systems and modules that take up varying amounts of Power and/or Free Mass. Some fittings require a minimum class, while others scale their cost in cash, Power and/or Free Mass based on the ship's class.
Included here are spike drive upgrades. Every ship gets a Drive-1 for free, which can be upgraded up to Drive-6 (though anything above Drive-3 is TL5). Other useful fittings for PCs include Atmospheric Configuration (the only fitting with a maximum class, in this case Frigate), Fuel Bunkers (allows for an extra spike jump; handy as they can only do one by default before needing to refuel). Fuel Scoops (refuel your drive at a star or gas giant; very handy) and Hydroponic Production (produces food and air for free, but can only be installed on a Cruiser or Capital ship).

Starship Weapons

A wide variety of usually energy- or particle-based weapons, taking up Power, Free Mass and Hardpoints. Every weapon has at least one special quality, including stuff like AP (ignores a certain amount of Armor; very handy if you're up against bigger ships), Cloud (anti-fighter AoE) and Phase (makes it easier to hit phased ships). This gives every weapon a certain roll to fill, like the puny Multifocal Laser that only deals 1d4 damage, but whose AP 20 quality allows swarms of fighters to slowly eat away at a Battleship's HP.

Starship Defenses

These cost Power and/or Mass, and generally improve your AC with a certain drawback (like reducing Speed or only working against certain weapon types, since say point defense lasers don't do much against fellow beam weapons), with the exception of the Capital-exclusive Ablative Hull Compartments that both decrease AC and increase HP.
Other defensive systems are just there to reduce the effectiveness of weapon qualities like AP, and there's the nifty TL5-only Grav Eddy Displacer which allows the ship to dodge as fast as a DBZ character, giving it a 1-in-6 chance of automatically evading an attack.

Example Ship

Now let's try to whip out a starting PC rig. Not really made for combat, but not too helpless either. Let's call it the Century Griffon.

I'll pick the Free Merchant Hull, the civilian Frigate-class hull. It's the cheapest Frigate-class around (at 500k), and its min/max crew of 1/6 is just perfect for a typical party.

The base stats for the Free Merchant are Speed 3, Armor 2, HP 20, AC 6, Power 10, Free Mass 15 and 2 Hardpoints. A bit sluggish and not well protected, but the Free Mass allows for some nifty stuff to be installed.

As the party is expected to travel around frequently, I'll upgrade the spike drive to Drive-2 (which costs 2 Power and 2 Mass for a Frigate). Extended Stores at 2 Mass sounds also neat, as it doubles life support duration. Another 2 Mas give the ship Atmospheric Configuration.
When the alien poo poo hits the space fan, there might not be enough time to refuel the ship, so a Fuel Bunker at another 2 Mass sounds useful. Let's add a second one just to make sure the party can easily shake off any pursuers.

There isn't much room to add defensive equipment, and that stuff's pretty expensive, so I'll skip it.

With just 2 Hardpoints, there isn't much we can put on the ship, so we better make it useful. The Sandthrower (3 Power, 1 Mass) sounds like a good investment. It's a particle weapon with the Flak trait, which doubles its 2d4 damage against Fighter-class ship. Useful against some daring pirates, but not quite so useful against bigger ships thanks to the lack of AP. For those, I'll pick the Fractal Impact Charge (aka space shotgun), which eats up the second Hardpoint as well as our remaining 5 Power and 1 Mass. This weapon has AP 15, allowing it to put its 2d6 damage to maximum effect against most ships that aren't Capital-class. Unfortunately, it also has the Ammo 4 trait, which means it requires ammo and stores 4 rounds per 1 Free Mass assigned for ammo storage, which is doubled to 8 because the Century Griffon is one class above the minimum required. Though while the ship might run out in extended combat, it really isn't supposed to last that long anyways (especially not against opponents who can eat that many shotgun blasts and still stand), so those 2d6 will be much more useful than say the above Multifocal Laser.

With all that chosen, the ship has 3 Free Mass left unused, which I'll turn into 60 tons worth of Cargo Space to store loot and whatever ground vehicle the party might have or plan to have.

The Century Griffon
Power: 10/0 free Mass: 15/0 free
Cost 979,000 Hit Points: 20 Crew: 1/6 Speed: 3 Armor: 2 AC: 6

Weaponry Fractal Impact Charge (2d6, AP 15, Ammo 8), Sandthrower (2d4, Flak)
Fittings Spike Drive-2, Atmospheric Configuration, 2 Fuel Bunkers, Cargo Space (60 tons), Extended Stores, 8 Impact Charge Rounds.

Total cost for this baby is 979,000 credits, including 4,000 credits to fully restock the impact charge. And that's still cheaper than the cheapest military Frigate-class hull (the Patrol Boat at 2.5 million). For an additional 20,000 credits apiece, I could also add an Armory (aka as much TL4 weapons and armor as the crew requires, plus maintenance) or a Ship's Locker (the same for general TL4 equipment), neither of which takes up any Power or Mass.

Suffice to say, ships in SWN can get quite expensive very fast. This is good for the PCs as most worlds can't afford to maintain Capital- or even Cruiser-class ships (with most defensive fleets being comprised of fighters and patrol boats), and starting PCs must get a bit more creative when it comes to getting their first ship. Maybe it's a gift from a friend? A chunk of trash they have somehow managed to repair? Or maybe they've stolen it to leave their homeworld?
Either way, these rules are pretty cool. They have just enough crunch to have the PCs pimp out their ride, but it's fast and easy enough for the GM to come up with new ships as the sandbox demands.

Artifacts

Artifacts are the cream of the crop of Pretech technology, marvelous pieces of equipment that are almost impossible to find on the market. The usual way of aquiring one is through dungeon crawling, getting it as a gift or just plain offing the previous owner.

Artifact Weaponry

These are the SWN equivalent of magical weapons, with the various traits they can grant being grouped into former Pretech manufacturers. Examples include Absolution Armaments, a company that specialized in energy weapons (whose own models gain an additonal +1 to hit and +2 damage) or Colonial Arms whose weapons can repair themselves and use just about any kind of ammo you can find, with a +1 to hit and +1 damage on top.
Pretty funky models come from Omnipresence, Ltd. (+1 to hit/damage, the weapon can transform into a belt or other harmless object), PolyGaia Defense (+1 to hit/damage projectile and energy weapons with monoblade bajonets) and Stardust Micropellet System (+1 to hit/damage projectile weapons that can't burst fire, but never run out of ammo). The straight-up strongest weapons come from Nightfall Combine, using what was probably alien technology to create +3 weapons.

Artifact Armor

These include fun pieces of armor as the Ghost Mantle (a sort of chameleon suit that either grants a +2 Stealth bonus or appears as a normal piece of AC 6 clothing), Polyplast Carapace (AC 2 armor with all the advantages of Power Armor and none of its drawbacks, like requiring the Exosuti skill or using energy) and the Titan Powered Armor (AC -1 power armor with sensor and comm arrays).

Artifact Equipment

Here we have the AI Companion (which more or may not be cube-shaped) which act as an extra skill monkey that has usually been "braked" to prevent the AI from gaining enough sentience to become disobedient or insane.
Also included are the only kinds of "potions" in the game, in the form of Integrity Stims (1d6+1 HP for 1 System Strain) and Juggernaut Stims (essentially Lesser Barbarian Rage in spray form). Also handy are Micropurgator Stims (remove 1d4 points of System Strain; cannot be applied more than once per user per 24 hours).
If you're expecting to run into trouble with Psychics, the Mindwall Helmet (+2 Save vs mental attacks) can help you out, and for full versatility, you can get yourself some Polymorphic Nanites that are a bit like those replicators in Star Trek in that they can create just about anything if you feed them the blueprints (provided they have enough mass).

Next Time: The actual rules of SWN, which should be very familiar to OSR players and only take up 12 pages. After that, it's all setting stuff and lots and lots of sandbox GM goodness. Oh, and the Core-exclusive stuff.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 18:40 on May 30, 2015

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Doresh posted:

Well, if you're going to fail, better fail in both fluff and crunch. Or something like that.

I'm actually gonna have to mea culpa this, apparently the size increases is supposed to only apply to the animal forms, not the human forms. The reason I got confused is that he's not consistent in any way with how animal forms work. Some have +2 or +3 size (meaning 7 or 8) others say you just are size X. It also doesn't mesh with his hit point calculation as people get more or less HP from their size/stamina increases than they should. And the size is sometimes given as an aspect instead of a racial trait.

So, basically, I was wrong, but gently caress Brucato for making it so easy to be wrong in the first place.

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 18:33 on May 30, 2015

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

I'm actually gonna have to mea culpa this, apparently the size increases is supposed to only apply to the animal forms, not the human forms. The reason I got confused is that he's not consistent in any way with how animal forms work. Some have +2 or +3 size (meaning 7 or 8) others say you just are size X. It also doesn't mesh with his hit point calculation as people get more or less HP from their size/stamina increases than they should. And the size is sometimes given as an aspect instead of a racial trait.

So, basically, I was wrong, but gently caress Brucato for making it so easy to be wrong in the first place.

And for not making elephantkin the biggest ones around. That'd be pretty much the main reason to play as one (either that or hippokin who are probably far more berserk-ish).
Speaking of big, can you be a whalekin?

Doresh fucked around with this message at 18:43 on May 30, 2015

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


No rules for whales, but you can make your own.

As far as elephants, their war form isn't any bigger than the tigers, but their animal form is huge. And the dire animal merit exists.

Trust me, I'll be going over that.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Doresh posted:


This looks similar to how SWN handles things, sans the mass combat rules. But the beauty of these OSR games is that you can mix-and-match what you want because every sub-system has its own rules.

I don't know if you have Darkness Rising, the SWN espionage supplement, but AER is closer to how it does things rather than SWN's more abstract Faction system.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

No rules for whales, but you can make your own.

As far as elephants, their war form isn't any bigger than the tigers, but their animal form is huge. And the dire animal merit exists.

Trust me, I'll be going over that.

I'll call them Mobies.

And I can't wait.

Traveller posted:

I don't know if you have Darkness Rising, the SWN espionage supplement, but AER is closer to how it does things rather than SWN's more abstract Faction system.

You mean Darkness Visible? I actually have that, though I haven't used it very much. Makes more sense for comparison, now that I think about it.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Slasher

Everyone hurts people. You cut someone off in traffic, you cheat on your spouse, you shove a guy in a crowd, you steal from someone. And for the minor stuff, people tend to forget pretty quickly. Most people. Avengers can't. Avengers are slashers driven by the hurts dealt by other people. Usually, they start highly speciifc - there's one thing they want to avenge. They find the people responsible and kill them. That might be the end. A guy's daughter is raped, so he hunts down the men responsible, beats them, stuffs them in a van and burns them to death. That might be it. He might never tell his daughter, and the two of them move on. But sometimes, they can't move on. Their lives have been fundamentally altered. They generalize the need for vengeance. The guy decides he can't live knowing there are monsters like those rapists out there. He starts to look up and hunt down sex offenders. A woman's husband dies on the table and she poisons the doctor, but that's not enough. She begins to hunt down other medical professionals who fail their patients somehow. A man's business is ruined by organized crime, so he gets his guns out and, next day, a bunch of mobsters die.

Avengers don't always become indiscriminate in their tartgeting, but the line blurs as they become more willing to kill for reasons other than the mission. It's more expedient to shoot the cop than knock him out. Besides, he's probably dirty. As the Avenger moves away from the original goal, the tales of their exploits can spread, and they can grow to become Legends. Avengers are some of the more versatile slashers - they can use any tool, any method. Their cause is the thing that's impoirtant. It's rare to get Avengers that used to be hunters, though - hunting down monsters is different than lying in wait for muggers with a steel wire. Avengers rarely target monsters specifically, but it can happen. Sometimes, a hunter feels that the monsters would go away if people would stop being so complacent. They start to hunt down people in positions of power, people who ensure humanity remains blind. Avengers tend to have safehouses in which to plan their kills, and are often rather untiring. They are inspired by such characters as Paul Kersey of Death Wish, Erica Bain of the Brave One, Brenda Bates of Urban Legend and Ben Willis of I Know What You Did Last Summer. They tend to be strong, charismatic or intelligent, and have wide and versatile skillsets.

The Avenger talent is Working The Room. Avengers always eventually end up dealing with groups of people, and they excel at fighting crowds. They don't lose Defense against multiple foes, no matter how many there are. Their great frailty, however, is Nothing But the Mission. Avengers are obsessive on a level even most slashers never hit. When faced with the coice of pursuing a target or doing literally anything else, they find it very hard to resist seeking their target. Period. No matter what. Even if it later turns out that the target didn't actually fit their criteria and they just thought they did.

The Florida office of VASCU maintains a case study on the serial killer known as the Ghost-Maker. He gained notoriety in the late 90s but was presumed kill by a shootout with cops in early 2000. This was not the case, and VASCU has recently discovered that the Ghost-Maker is still active. The killer targets fortune-tellers, palmists, Tarot readers and especially mediums. Motive is unclear, the the profile and crime scenes suggest that he was the victim of a con involving someone pretending to pass on message from the dead. In one case, his victim was believed to hear the voices of the dead in static, commonly called EVPs, or Electronic Voice Pheneomena. The tape recorder was left running during the kill.

quote:

Ghost-Maker (GM): You want to hear the dead?
Sarah Crawford (SC): Please... don't... I just-
GM: You wan't to hear the loving dead, you selfish bitch?
SC: I don't want to die, please-
GM: Then listen.
(Gunshot, distortion on the tape. Several agents report the distortion sounds like laughter.)
GM: Tear that bitch up, fuckers. Just stay away from me.

Legends are what happens when an Avenger, unable to make rational decisions, becomes the nightmare that all the stories paint them as. Legends are terrifying, because they don't die. But they are also weaker, because they have no control over their sotries and their free will is tenuous. In practical terms, a Legend is a slasher about whom stories are told, usually within a community they've already preyd upon. On some level, this is what Avengers want - they want their victim,s to know, to appreciate their suffering and to feel remorse or terror. The net is always too wide. Sooner or later, they don't discriminate, and others try to make sense of it all, ascribing rules and logic to every attack, every off-the-cuff statement, every coincidence.

Remember the guy who hunted rapists? Over time, he stops bothering with the rapist part. All young men should be chaste until they learn to handle it, and since they don't, he hunts any sexually active male under 21. The people grow frightened after several young men die. Police investigations ensue, but murmurs of the true nature of the killer begin - Shotgun Daddy. They say he can feel it when young men get frisky, and he'll show up to drag you to his van, blow your legs off with a shotgun and burn you alive. When the killer began his war, he had no special sense for when people were getting sexual - but as the stories spread, they become true. He realizes that he can begin to tell when it's happening - but he also finds he can't approach cars or rooms, even those in which sex is happening, if a fresh rose is wrapped around the doorknob. The legend says it's because his daughter loved roses so much, and it drives him away in grief. Is that true, or is Shotgun Daddy powerless to resist his own story now? Legends, more than any other slasher, are mystical. Their special senses and weird weaknesses make them more like spirits than people, and the question of free will is a valid one. They draw power from their strange rules, but those rules are their weakness.

VASCU has a case study on the killer known as Rusty Nail, based on an interview with the folklorist Lousie Van Der Graaf. She says that he used to be a carpenter - he sawed off four of his fingers, probably by accident, and his assistant didn't get help because he was too drunk to hear the screams. The carpenter took a handful of nails and pounded 'em into the drunkard's head. How he managed this missing four fingers is unclear, but he then went crusading against drunks. Story started in the 1920s, probably as a Prohibition urban legend. Of course, there's a way to avoid Rusty Nail's wrath. He'd only attack illegal drinkers or those who drank when they shouldn't. That didn't mean much in the 20s, since it was all illegal, but about a year ago the story starts again. He goes after underage drinkers, drunk drivers or other such things. And if you see him coming, and you'd know by the hammer and the trail of blood from his hand, you show him the back of your hand, keeping your fingers flat on your palm. That way, he sees you as a kindred spirit and leaves you alone. The resurgence apparently followed the discovery of some legal documents from the 20s, including a newspaper article about a guy killed by nails in the head. Someone probably did the resaerched, started telling the story, and hey, copycat killer. Some deadbeat dad got drunk, left his kids alone and they all almost died when the place caught fire. They found the guy two days later, face like a pincushion.

Avengers can become Legends, and some Legends start that way. Some were once hunters who saw enough of the supernatural to be confused or intrigued by the often arbitrary rules it seems to follow. Even when a rule turns out false, these rules are comforting. Rules are order to the world. They give a point to it all, and sometimes, you want to be part of that order. That can be the birth of a Legend. Like Avengers, they are highly variable in method and target. These are the eponymouse Candyman, the Tooth Fairy of Darkness Falls, and Freddy Krueger.

Their talent is Strength from the Tales. They literally draw strength from their myths, and once per scene, when someone fulfills a tenet of their rules, they can draw on that power to heal themselves or gain a bonus to rolls, chosen each time. Their frailty is Trapped in the Story. All LEgends have a weakness, which must be fairly strict. Any attack exploiting it deals agg or ignores any defense. A banishment or abjuration that takes advantage of it does not allow resistance - it always works. Period. And it has to be pretty harsh.

All slashers are horrors, but Brutes are unstoppable. They are rage and strength. They break doors, kill with their bare hands, are unfailingly deadly with any tool. They are killing machines, and everyone is a target. They seem simple, and they have no capacity for morality or empathy. There's not much going on in their heads. They aren't justifiable, they aren't fascinatingly arcane. They aren't compelling. They just hurt people, methodically and brutally. That's the problem. They can't be scared or intimidated. EVen when outnumbered and outgunned, the best you can hope for is that they vanish for a bit - and never for very long. They're not obsessive about killing so much as it's all they can do. They're not even animals - they're just forces of nature. They're still recognizably human, unlike Masks, though. Their savagery is personal, they enjoy it. Some live double lives and can pass for human until they pick up the weapon, until whatever trigger happens. They often are just smart enough to be deliberate, to do what must be done to avoid detection. Often they travel, but as their bloodlust grows, it's often possible to trace them home by the trail of blood.

VASCU has a case study on Bryan Gern, based on an interview with retired Army drill instructor W. E. Naylor. Naylor says Private Gern was always strange. Most folks enlist to escape their homes, maybe to flee something or for the free education. But Gern? He's a giant, built like a brick shithouse, and all he says in his West Virginia accent is that he don't rightly know - maybe he just won't hurt anyone here. And that's...odd. Naylor looked into Gern's records, and seems one of the cops in his hometown was an old squaddy, so he called the guy up. The guy remembered Gern. Used to get in trouble because he'd head out to the fields and cut up cows with a straight razor. He never really cared about getting caught. Naylor kept an eye on the guy, but not close enough. He went AWOL in Lansing, cut a bunch of people up just like he used to cut up cows.

Brutes rarely speak, and those that do tend not to be very coherent. Most urban legends about murdering madmen are about brutes. They can, however, be cunning - the killer that hides by licking a hand in the dark and pretending to be a dog, say. Some are sadistic, others almost robotic. They give up everything but the kill. Brutes are barely socially functional most of the time. They kill alone, and don't often keep trophies. Some have favored weapons, but not all. Some enjoy killing by scaring victims into environmental hazards. The more they kill, the more detached and less human they can become, until it's just the Mask.

Brutes are dissociative. They don't see people, just objects. Funny, talking objects, maybe, objects that almost seem like people, but aren't. The degree to which they believe this is often a good litmus test for how close they are to becoming a Mask. This dissociation is often caused by rejection from the world, parental humiliation and abuse. Hunters can become this just by witnessing the effects of raw power on the world - a werewolf tears through their safehouse and their team like paper. A frail woman snaps a neck with ease. They take note and develop their strength to become a match - but in the process, they have to put aside pain and suffering. They must become inhuman. Without suffering, there is no empathy. Without empathy...well. Brutes are almost always highly physical, though some are skilled craftsmen as well, or good with animals. They tend to heal quickly and be good at fighting. This is John Ryder of the Hitcher, Colqhoun of Ravenous, the Man and the Woman from The People Under the Stairs, Mickey and Mallory Knox of Natural Born Killers.

The Brute talent is Unstoppable. When fighting, they go into a sort of trance, feeling no pain or wound penalty. They don't fall unconscious normally, not until they start to bleed out. Often, even when they seem down, they get uyp again for one last attack. Their frailty, however, is Blinded by Blood. Brutes' hyperfocus on murder means they don't pay much attention. All perception rolls are at a penalty, and they find it especially hard to spot someone hiding.

Next time: The Mask.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





I imagine the reason for having a global conspiracy for Slashers here is more to facilitate groups and so on, because writing a whole book about having one-on-one serial killer roleplaying seems like a recipe for a juicy headline in a couple of years.

From what Mors put down it seems to basically be 'we hunt the most dangerous game, and our ambitions begin and end with "protecting our hunting the most dangerous game."'

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Nessus posted:

I imagine the reason for having a global conspiracy for Slashers here is more to facilitate groups and so on, because writing a whole book about having one-on-one serial killer roleplaying seems like a recipe for a juicy headline in a couple of years.

From what Mors put down it seems to basically be 'we hunt the most dangerous game, and our ambitions begin and end with "protecting our hunting the most dangerous game."'

The Hunt Club also makes a solid antagonist for games, Hunter and otherwise. Genteel aristocrats who swapped fox hunting for human hunting, awarding points on style, taste and creativity. A few lone slashers are bad enough, but now imagine five or six of them in your city competing for the top score.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


They just feel a little too White Wolf. There's always some high society of the bastards with lordly titles and top scores and bragging rights and crap and they naturally have a mole in the upper echelons of the organization intended to fight them. Just like how vampires run TFV. But all that seems quite ignorable, too.

Basically everything else about Slasher sounds like they'd make awesome enemies, especially the built in weaknesses like the huge Micheal Meyers guy being bad at finding people who hide from him. I wonder if it's a coincidence that one of the first types is named after the most violent, crazy Imbued type from old Hunter?

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Fair enough. This review is making me consider picking up Slasher, and I think if I were to use the Hunt Club in my TFV group I'd have to retool them. I like the idea of the competitive serial killer's club as an antagonist, but the Ashwood Abbey already covers the evil aristocrats angle pretty well. Maybe turn the Hunt Club into a college fraternity gone horribly wrong, or a right-wing militia group that takes a more direct approach to "safeguarding the USA."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Slasher

The Brute taken to its logical extreme is the Mask. All humanity is gone. All that is left is body, weapon and urge to kill. The Mask has no compassion, no fear, no remorse. The Mask is not a he or a she. It is an it. It does not hesitate. Ever. Some Masks refuse to kill certain targets, but that's not mercy - they just ignore them. Masks do not speak. Masks do not understand language well. The few that can take orders or work in a group retain some tenuous grasp on understanding, but they do not speak or write. They have given up language. Some occult researchers believe, and VASCU data backs them up, that Masks feel pain in the presence of other living humans. They can't detect them that way, and indeed tend to have dull senses, but they can't be at peace until everyone is dead. Few have any survival instrinct, and it seems just being alive causes them pain.

VASCU investigator John Deng has a file on Subject #714, capturing in a Michigan swamp. He killed four agents and six civilian vigilantes before they could get him to Lansing, and en route he nearly escaped, and killed two agents before being subdued. In the facility, he has been imprisoned by being submerged to the chest in concrete. Special AGent Jennifer Trask, an empath, was brought in to see him, as he does not or cannot speak, and any attempt to take fingernails or dental imprints was too dangerous. Trask could not discover his identity, but was able to establish a psychic link. A transcript of her experience while linked follows. After her experience, she attempted to rip her own teeth out before being sedated, after which the episode passed. She was not able to recount the experience, and went AWOL six days later. She has not yet been found. 714 remains unknown but in custody.

quote:

Needles in my eyes. Needles. Everything I see hurts. Shutting my eyes just makes it worse. Oh, God. Sounds grat on my skin like...like.. (inchoate screams). Silence hurts! Noise hurts! Clothing, light, the feeling of my own skin hurts! Shoes crush my feet, but the floor is made of razors and snake's teeth. My teeth...my teeth...

So, why don't Masks kill themselves? WEll, for one, they are drat hard to kill. They don't seem to notice most wounds. A large cell can usually take one down with some casualties, but only due to being used to fighting supernatural beings. Mundane groups trying to fight them as if they were human seldom survive. Shotguns don't work very well. Tasers don't work at all. Fire might work, but only after an inferno as the thing keeps fighting, now on fire. Not every Mask actually covers their face, but even those that don't are easy to spot. Their faces never change. Not when they kill, not when shot, never. They are immobile, dispassionate. If Masks are, in fact, in pain simply from being alive, why? Why does it manifest? How do Brutes become Masks?

It'd be tempting and not entirely inaccurate to say that the Mask is the end result of the classic serial killer profile, but they are supernatural, impervious to most harm. Some kind of supernatural interference happens, but the drive to kill was there first. PErhaps the mind becomes trapped in the body, the senses overclocked to the point that all sensation is pain. The only place to flee to is the dark, deep lizard brain, the lowest and most savage pain response: kill. Make it stop. They are terrifyingly simple. Each Mask was once human, but they don't respond to stimuli from their lives. Once in a while, something might catch their attention. They live one witness alive, maybe. Those witnesses later report that the Masks look terrified, trapped in what they are, surrounded by agony. It's gone in an instant. Masks are highly physical and generally cunning, but completely unable to function socially. They have few skills unrelated to murder. This is Michael Myers of Halloween, Jason Vorhees of Friday the 13th, Coffin Baby of Toolbox Murders.

The talent is that they are Unstoppable Killing Machines. On top of feeling no pain, they don't sleep. They don't eat. They take only one damage from any attack, no matter what, even supernatural attacks. Environmental damage works as normal, though. The frailty is No Mind but for Murder. Masks do not do language in any meaningful way. At best, they can point or gesture vaguely with a knife. They can barely understand spoken language, and they cannot read.

The Charmer is deadly - not because they're strong or smart, but because they're charismatic. They are always polite, sympathetic, well-spoken. They are selfless, they listen and you want to listen to them. They often sing beautifully to themselves. They seduce their victims, not always sexually and indeed many find the idea of sex revolting, but to the point of intimacy. And that's when they kill. The worst are the ones the Charmer drugs, to take their time with. They do love torture. Charmers hunt for victims in all kinds of ways - masquerading as priests, hacking, bar-hopping, being businessmen. Then the bodies start to appear. Charmers are always ready to leave, but they like to stay as long as they can. The goal isn't necessarily the kill - they are compelled to do that. What they want is to know their victims trust them.

Charmers tend not to see people as anything but objects to play with. They find that vulnerability fascinating. People are so stupid that they'd even allow others to access them while they sleep. Surely, they know people can be monsters? The reason they feel this way is often because they've seen monsters. They are often abused as children, and often taught that any sex is wrong and evil. Many Charmers have a pathological hatred of sexuality and the opposite sex. Often, they were raised religious. Not all of them are men, and the women tend to have an easier time of getting men to trust them, thanks to societal standards. FEmale Charmers are often black widows - they seduce victims and kill before, during or after sex. Some are angels of death, killing those dependent on them. Ex-Hunter Charmers are different - they tend to be the ones practiced at being bait for supernaturals. They get good at finding and luring predators - and not just monstrous ones. They hate how their prey looks at them, and begin to take it out on anyone that does that, not just the monsters. Charmers are always socially adept and often poor fighters, taking advantage of vulnerability rather than any skill. They are often witty and fast, but weak and not necessarily very smart. You can get buy on charm for 15 minutes, after all, and they usually don't need that long. This is Stuntman Mike from Death Proof, Preacher Powell from Night of the Hunter, Mick Taylor from Wolf Creek and Catherine Tramell from Basic Instinct.

Charmers have the talent of Disarming. They're good at making people like them, making people not see anything wrong there - making them willing to help. They override any normal common sense this way, and it's hard to fight them when you've fallen prey to their wiles, though the effect ends if you witness them harming anyone in a non-justifiable way. They only get once chance at this per person, though, on first meeting them. If that fails, well, someone sees through the mask. The frailty is Thin Veneer. Charmers are held together by spit and string. They hate having their views shaken and often believe their own hype. They have a trigger - a song, being touched sexually, being called by their name and not their title. When it happens, or when someone resists their charms and calls them out, they find it exceptionally hard to keep up the act. They lash out, usually verbally, but not always. And at that point, just about anyone gets a chance to see through their charm.

VASCU Special Agent William Caffler writes about the Wingman. In the bar scene, that's the guy who distracts a girl's friends so someone can seduce the girl. It's a pretty stupid idea, but it persists. The Wingman, the person, prefers to always be the wingman. The first time he heard about the Wingman was in Memphis, several variations, but some consistent details. He's white, about 30 and trim. His hair changes, but he's always attractive and has a notably charming voice. He appraoches men in bars, talks to them and offers to be the wingman. No one knows him, but he's always good at the job, interested but detached. What he wants is to get out of the bar with a girl no one but her friends, now distracted by men, will miss. William originally believed him an urban legend until meeting Alyssa Bylarsky, who had been intrigued by the Wingman. She took him home, and he chloroformed her, tied her to the bed and burned various parts of her body with a butane lighter. She only escaped because a friend stopped by. The Wingman met the friend on his way out, smiled and left. Alyssa remains agoraphobic and pathologically afraid of fire. The Wingman's real name and wherabouts remain unknown.

Beneath the veneer of the Charmer is always the Psycho. The Charmer's pathology has become a full-blown ideology. Their mask is much, much thinner. Some are zealots, focused on religious faith and murder as a cleansing. Some are racial purists. Some slaughter prostitutes to rid the world of lust. Or gay men (or men who appear gay to them), or divorced men. Whatever they do it for, the reason is always there, even if it's insane. They've lost much of the social functionality of the Charmer - they keep the charade up just long enough to close distance or talk a door open or get a hitchhiker into the car. Their real agenda becomes clear after only a little evaluation, but they only need a minute. They aren't about violation of trust - they just wnat to kill.

Psychos typically got abused terribly. Worse than Charmers. They have no sense of humanity and haven't for a long time. They are often shockingly strong and brutal. They don't usually look too harmless, either. (Real life killer Edmund Kemper talked his way past campus security with two dead women in his backseat by claiming he was taking a pair of drunks home. He was 6'9", weighed over 300 pounds and was only caught because he turned himself in after his tenth kill.) PSychos can seem harmless briefly, though. Ex-Hunters turned Psycho often suffered at monstrous hands, but not physically. Maybe blood bound, maybe mated to a werewolf, maybe magically enslaved. They hate the supernatural, and everything else. They are often charismatic but not very manipulative - they're articulate, but tend to sound crazy the longer they talk. They are often skilled fighters, preferring to beat victims senseless before killing. Some use guns, but often shoot to wound so they can take their time. This is Darryl Lee Cullum of Copycat, Patrick Batemen of American Psycho, Anton Chigurh of No Country for Old Men, Bo Sinclair of House of Wax of May Canady of May.

VASCU files contain case study by a redacted agent on Dr. Belinda Gooding. She worked for Cheiron. Very personable, friendly, flirtatious but sexually innocent and seemingly worth protecting. After some interaction, however, he noticed she'd start wounds too long before treating them, rarely blinked and often pointed out facets of her personality she wanted people to notice - notably, that she was a good listener and didn't judge. He witnessed her kill without authorization four months before she disappeared. He was a suspect of supernatural activity, but nothing else. She volunteered to lure him to her car, where she beat him to death with the hood and shot him. She was removed from active duty, but he never found out what her hearing resulted in. She did vanish recently, having killed a former teammate that helped her escape and leaving a note swearing to ferret out evil and betrayers, along with a list of names. The agent's name topped the list, which is why he got pulled from undercover work in Cheiron. Belinda's whereabouts remain unknown, and she is believed to have stolen a large quantity of medical supplies when she fled.

The talent PSychos have is Deadly Distraction. They can make people drop their guard just long enough to take them out. It only takes a turn of conversation, but it can't be done in combat or around witnesses. If it works, the victim opens up for one brief moment - long enough for the Psycho to get inside, or to get a weapon, or to strike a killing blow - which in mechanical terms means 'that person is probably dead if the slasher attacks.' Killing blows don't roll for attack or damage - they deal damage equal to the dicepool. Their frailty is Obsessive. Psychos can't let things go. Once they pick a victim and try to charm them and fail, they can't leave the victim alone. They must hurt them, scare them and finally kill. They can be patient, but most aren't, and attack impulsively. If the victim hurts them, the frailty's effects end and they can flee, but even then, month after month, they'll feel the urge to seek that victim out again. It makes them easier to track and predict, even if it's no help to the victim.

Next time: Freaks.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




HackMaster, 6: We begin to make it better

So, the next step was going to be to make our Mage, but I've been a bit nervous about work events so instead we'll look at something a bit less complicated: levelling up.

Levelling up is based on a standard XP table for levels from 1-20. All classes level at the same speed (although Satyros would suffer a 10% XP earn penalty for being a Gnome Titan). There's no challenge ratings or similar: monsters just have an individual number of XP assigned to them. There are some other potential penalties, though: first of all, monsters fought on their own give 50% less XP than they do if met in a group (possibly with other types of monster). Secondly, there is a "wuss penalty" (not actually called that) for parties who do single fights then back out to rest, with the argument that they're learning less because of rote practice: the penalty is 75% for resting after one fight, 50% for resting after two, 25% for resting after three, and none beyond that.

Also, since we're in 1e country, you don't automatically level up when you hit the required XP total anyway: you have to take time out to train. From levels 2 to 5, you just head off and practice on your own for a bit, and get the benefits of your new level. At levels 6+, you can choose to go to school instead, or train yourself. There's a cost associated with either option, but it's not too big (10 silver for 6th level and 10 more for each level above that) - not as with the insanity in some previous D&D editions where you had to pay gold equal to the number of experience points you earned to get the level, meaning that dungeons mysteriously had to have millions and millions of gold in them or nobody would ever level up.

What happens when you level up? Well, your progression statistics for your class go up, and you also get a HP roll. However, HP rolls in HackMaster aren't always cumulative - at even number levels, you just get to reroll the previous levels' hit point dice and take the maximum, or (if you roll really badly both times) take the median dice result.

You also get to increase your stats. You grab a full set of dice - d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4 - and assign one of them to each of your six stats other than Looks, and that's how many fractional points you gain in that stat. Yes, you get to increase your stats every level, so the random rolling aspect is tempered a bit more. You then get 15 BPs to spend on anything you want to spend BPs on; you can save some for the next level if you want to. Finally, Mages get to roll a random new spell. (I should also mentioned that, you know that D&D thing where mages get new spell levels every two character levels? HackMaster doesn't do that. Every character level is a spell level and spells range from levels 1-20.

The main difference between training yourself and going to school is a few restrictions on training yourself. You can't learn any weapon specialization above +2 on your own; it costs double BP to go above 75 points in a skill; you can only learn skills you've actually seen (whereas if you go to school you can learn any skill you can argue they'd be able to teach you), and you get a single reroll on one of the mastery dice you roll when buying skills with your BP, assuming you do that. Beyond that, you also get noticed by people in the school; your Honor and Fame go up, you make a randomly rolled contact, and you get to roll on the Training Events Table (which is top secret and in the GM's guide, but is actually universally positive)

Now, what's that Honor and Fame thing? I haven't really mentioned these so far. Honor was a mechanism from the original HackMaster to.. to.. well, to make you play like you were in the KoDT. Essentially, it gave logic for almost all the bad behavior you saw in PCs. In new HackMaster it's been scaled down a bit. For some reason, it's considered a stat, even though it isn't generated like a stat, doesn't have any skills based on it, doesn't have any stat modifiers and doesn't even have a percentile. The only thing it has to do with stats is that you generate your stating value by averaging your seven stat scores.

The idea is this: every time you level up, the GM rates the players on how well they played their class, how well they played their alignment, how well they generally played, and if they actually showed pride and interest in their character's personal honor. Each is scored from 1 to 10, and then based on that score a modifier is applied to the PC's honor score. Then, all the honor scores for the group are averaged and everyone's honor moves 1 point towards the group average. I'm not quite sure what that last mechanic is supposed to be for - it's supposed to indicate that highly honorable characters shouldn't be hanging around with scumbags, but unless you're going to kick the low honor player out of the campaign, I'm not really sure how you're supposed to model it.

Honor can be used for a couple of things. First of all, you can spend certain amounts of honor to reroll any dice; the amount increases with your level. You can also spend them like PP in Paranoia to modify die rolls. Finally, the higher your honor score is the more global bonuses you get. If it falls too low, you get -1 to all rolls, +1 to weapon speeds, and 5% penalty to skill checks. At moderately high, you get a +1 point or 5% bonus once a session. At the next level up, you get the +1 point bonus plus a free reroll of any one roll in a session. And at the highest level, Legendary (which isn't even accessible to starting characters), you get all those bonuses plus a free reroll of an enemy's roll against you. Unfortunately, at that point you're so well known everybody evil hates you.

Fame is essentially a bit like Honor, except it can't be spent, doesn't have those direct affects, and only changes when people hear about stuff you've done. It's more an RP value, and relates to follower's morale, although if you're really famous fighting someone who's nearly unknown you can get a combat bonus from it (!).

So, there's a bit more to say about XP and design (the dungeon design chapter in the HackMaster DMG is actually really good, up with some of the best ones, and distinguished from the D&D ones by the distinct lack of a list of non-system details about types of door). But I think we'll leave it for now, until a time when I'm not worried about people at work who have influence showing signs of demanding that everyone exceeds the average performance...

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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



If I used the Hunt Club in a game, they would be as immature and childish as a lot of real societies of powerful people tend to be, like when that reporter snuck into a Wallstreet social dinner that was doing plays and skits and most of them were childishly racist.

"The trophy you have provided qualifies. This just leaves the initiation. First, you must perform your own unique rendition of Epiphany from Sweeny Todd. If you need musical accompaniment, Lady Remigton Foster-Smythe has quite the talent for the kazoo."

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