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  • Locked thread
Selachian
Oct 9, 2012

Barudak posted:

Nah, they just left construction up to the ghosts of the guys who built Sochi.

Using plans drawn up by Bloody Stupid Johnson.

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oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Zereth posted:

The celestials who built the WLD are completely insane aren't they.

In all honesty, if that was the actual concept it would make everything make so much more sense and improve the dungeon immeasurably. However, all indication is that they're meant to be completely normal.

A dungeon designed by different groups of celestials with extremely different philosophies would be interesting as well (after all, the chaotic good guardinals would certainly have different opinions on how prisoners should be treated than the LG archon), especially since the completely neutral, ultra-lawful Inevitables were also involved in the dungeon's creation. It'd actually be a very cool way to differentiate some regions from others: the inevitable might have a clockwork/steampunk style dungeon with lots of machinery, doors that open only at precise times, strict and organized grid patterns to cells. The guardinals might have a larger, more natural area that they created, allowing prisoners more freedom while still hemming them in with guardian monsters and magical wards. etc, etc.

Unfortunately that doesn't hold up. It's like every other room was designed by someone different, who cared more about winning awards for "most creative use of a spinning blade" than actual effectiveness. The Slaad really do make the most sense.

InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012
Sometimes I wonder how well things like Tomb of Horrors and WLD would work in Dungeon World, where there's less statblocks to get in the way.

Does this make me a bad person?

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


InfiniteJesters posted:

Sometimes I wonder how well things like Tomb of Horrors and WLD would work in Dungeon World, where there's less statblocks to get in the way.

Does this make me a bad person?

I've converted tomb of horrors to some simpler systems, mainly Savage Worlds and PDQ, and it actually works quite well. Probably because the original Tomb of Horrors never really bothered itself much with statblocks anyway. It was more or less like an adventure game, full of "if-then" situations and generally mainly relied on the players killing themselves. The WLD on the other hand...

I don't know about dungeon world myself, but I would imagine that a simpler system would probably improve the WLD a lot. If nothing else it would probably shorten it by about 20%-30% since there wouldn't be so much word-count taken up by monster stat-blocks. Ivistis' stats alone take up about a full page.

I did give running the WLD a try once with PDQ's Quester's of the Middle Realms, although it never got terribly far. Honestly the biggest problem is that most light systems aren't designed to be quite as long-running as D&D (at least in my experience), and the WLD is already far too long-running for D&D itself. But still, can't make it much worse, can it?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Honestly even if DW and such would reduce the bulk of the book, the person running it would have to do much redesign on everything I don't think it's worth the effort.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Robindaybird posted:

Honestly even if DW and such would reduce the bulk of the book, the person running it would have to do much redesign on everything I don't think it's worth the effort.

Yeah, playing it through with a different system really assumes that the problem is with 3.5. And while 3.5's system isn't doing the dungeon any favors, once you strip it away you're still left with a massive heap that ranges from mind-numbingly terrible to mediocre at best.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

oriongates posted:

Yeah, playing it through with a different system really assumes that the problem is with 3.5. And while 3.5's system isn't doing the dungeon any favors, once you strip it away you're still left with a massive heap that ranges from mind-numbingly terrible to mediocre at best.

Between the crap loadouts for players to find, badly scaled encounters, gently caress you traps, no incentives to make a party want to do anything, the sheer amount of missing information that's needed - it's best to just turn the book into overpriced pulp.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

LAST TIME ON DRAGON BALL Z
In the last post we learned about beating people up with your hands and feet, which is what happens when the animators had some money to work with. Today's kung fu lesson is about the thing everyone knows DBZ is really about : flying and fireballs! So far, you might have been thinking that some rules are poorly-designed but still maybe a little workable. Today I'm going to send that idea into the Other World.

:ssj: This game will explode in five minutes! :ssj:
In the character stats, I explained that you have a Power Level (determined by dice) and a Power Up stat (PHYS + MEN x10), as well as a Power skill. In the combat basics, you saw the Power Up action. Let's see how all of this works.

When a fight starts up, all characters have no energy available to use. To get some ki to work with, you use the Power Up action on your turn. It's never really defined whether or not you can power up before a fight or how long you can hold it after a fight, so I guess the moment someone decides to gather power is when combat time starts. When you use a Power Up action, you get energy points up to your Power Up stat. You keep those energy points until you use them up or get knocked out, and it's sort of implied that you let it go after a fight's over but they never really say.

Your Power Level is the maximum amount of energy points you can gather until you have a chance to recover outside of combat. For example, if you have a Power Level of 600 and a Power Up of 200, you could Power Up three times before you hit your maximum unless you pace yourself and don't take the full 200 energy with each action. Also of note, to make the math a little faster you can only gather energy in multiples of 10. Powering Up for 130 energy is fine, but 145 isn't. If your Power Up is higher than the amount of energy left in your Power Level, you just get whatever is left. It is possible to have a Power Up higher than your Power Level, especially at character creation, so Powering Up just gets you all of it at once.

Outside of combat you recover used energy at a rate of your Power Up per hour. The GM could also grant ways of recovering used energy faster, like a Senzu Bean to instantly recover your full Power Level.

Now that you have some power ready, let's see what you can do it.
  • Energy Blasts: This is the big one! Channel your energy into into a projectile of planet-shattering destructive power. Every point you put into a blast equals 1d6 damage. You can also add special effects to make it more effective at the expense of making the power harder to use. Homing makes it more likely to hit, Bending lets you aim around cover, Area Effect blows poo poo up in a wide radius, Delay makes poo poo NOT blow up right away, Rapid Fire shoots at multiple targets, and Deadly Effect can bypass part or all of a Deflection.
  • Deflections: This is your main defense against energy blasts, and another of the most problematic things in the game. Energy you put into a Deflection becomes a force-field that subtracts damage dice from incoming blasts at a 1-to-1 rate. A 50 point Deflection will nullify a 50 point blast, and reduce a 70 point blast to 20 dice of damage. However, you must raise a Deflection ahead of time; it's not a reflexive action. Once you spend energy, the Deflection will stay in place until it's dropped voluntarily, it's overcome by a stronger energy blast, or you are hit by a physical attack. Blasts with Deadly Effect can ignore part of all of a Deflection depending on how much the attacker added to the difficulty of the blast.

    Also important to note, if your Deflection is higher than an incoming blast's damage, the difference in power becomes a REflection and is inflicted on the attacker. I've never understood why this is a rule because it wasn't a regular occurrence in the show. It's also some sort of fiddly math and timing and could set up some really stupid ping-pong situations depending on how you interpret the rules. For reference, this is the exact text on page 92:

    quote:

    If a Deflection is Powered Up higher than the Energy attack it's deflecting, it automatically turns into a Reflection. The excess energy blasts back at the original attacker and does damage to him! Example: Karma Sen tackles the Master of Shadows with his best 100 point Fire Fusion Fingerbolt. The Master carelessly throws up a 200 point Deflection. 100 points Reflect back on Karma Sen, knocking him into the next dimension.

    So the the real question here is: can damage from a Reflection be Deflected? A sidebar on page 95 indicates that you can, in fact, use your own Deflection to stop a Reflection. However, that can create a situation I call Infinite Death Tennis. Let's say Karma Sen did have a Deflection of 200 up as well. The 100 damage blast he throws gets a 100 damage Reflection tossed back at him. That creates a 100 damage Reflection of his own that gets sent back at the Master of Shadows, which in turn gets re-Reflected for 100 damage and the cycle continues without resolution because you can't actually make an Evasion roll against Reflections. Deflections don't actually get reduced in power by weaker attacks, so you pretty much manage to lock up the game because there is no way to resolve the situation.
  • Superspeed/Flight: This lets you spend energy to move extremely quickly. Flight is bought in 10 minute increments, and the cost is determined by the maximum speed you plan to travel. Less than Mach 1 costs 10 energy, Mach 1 costs 20 energy, and every Mach above 1 costs an extra 20 energy. The book notes that travelling at speeds faster than Mach 4 in an atmosphere will burn up your clothes which I don't remember ever happening in the show. Moving faster than Mach 1 leaves afterimages that are just there to describe cool things happening unless you are moving Mach 6 or faster. At that speed you are moving faster than the eye can see and opponents need to make a difficulty 22 Mind skill check to locate you. I guess when they do find you, you're naked. Obviously, that never happened in the show. I'd think you could also use the afterimages to distract your opponent since that happens fairly often in the show but no, you're either making blurry shadows but can be hit with no penalty or you're invisible but naked. Also note that this doesn't actually increase your Move stat, so you're about to do all the speed-to-distance calculations yourself. The book helpfully suggests that anyone within a mile of each other can reach other targets.
  • Reflex Boost: This is probably the most obviously broken thing in the drat game. Reflex Boost gives you two options, Faster Reactions and Increased Actions. Faster Reactions allows you to spend energy to boost your Mental stat for initiative purposes on the following turn. Every 10 energy spent boosts your Mental by 1, and it lasts until the next Phase. Increased Actions is the real poo poo. Every 10 energy spent on Increased Actions gives you an extra action on your next Phase. The only limit to how many actions you can buy is what you can roll on the Power skill check (I'll get into that later). Combining the two options lets you go first and then make a couple dozen attacks and get as much power as you want and throw up a Deflection just in case anything survives. It's not until the Androids book that they suggest staggering out extra actions into a sort of initiative pass system, but even that doesn't keep this from being the I Win button. More actions = better than, the end.
  • Super Strength: Every 10 energy spent boosts your Physical stat by 2 until your next turn. Pretty simple.
  • Multiple Images: So if superspeed let you make afterimages that don't do anything, this lets you make afterimages that sort of do something. Sort of. See, it doesn't tell you what stats the clones have. I guess the clones are supposed to have the same stats as you but it never actually makes that clear. Also, while any clones are active neighter the clones nor the original can use any other powers. This includes Deflections. The last problem is that while clones and extra actions are two ways to get multiple actions per Phase, clones are way more expensive and less flexible. Clones cost 100 energy per clone per Phase, which is the same cost as 10 extra actions. So for 100 energy you can get two actions with no powers, or 11 actions with all of your powers available. That's a pretty easy choice.

Of course, it would be ridiculous if you could just dump as much power as you wanted into any attack, so powers have a skill check to use properly. The difficulty of a Power skill check is (Power Cost / 10). A 400 energy blast has a difficulty of 40, for example. As mentioned above, the special effects on energy blasts increase the difficulty of the Power roll, not the actual energy cost. This is where the game starts to house-rule itself, suggesting that to speed up play you might want to only require the Power roll the first time a a character uses a specific power in a fight, then assume they pass the roll for the rest of combat. While that would speed up play, it also just blows away whatever semblance of balance the Power rolls might have tried to implement. In the case of targeted powers like blasts or some of the powers introduced in later books, after you make the Power roll to control the power, you make another Power roll to hit.

Hitting with a massive energy wave is pretty cool, but now it's time to roll damage. This is another spot where the game house-rules itself. Rolling 500d6 is not really as fun as it sounds with real dice but it's a central part of the game so they give you options to speed things up. The first option is the fastest, but also the dumbest: ignore the dice and just apply the points. This ends up loving with the game's already loose math by making fights take longer due to attacks doing less damage and also forcing players to spend more energy to get as much damage as they could by rolling. The second option is more reasonable, and should have just replaced the first option entirely: multiply the number of dice by 3. That's much closer to what an average roll will be, still pretty quick math, and avoids the problems with the first option. The last option is also pretty reasonable while letting people actually roll damage because rolling dice is fun: drop the zeroes, roll however many dice are left and add them up, then add the zeroes back. For example, a 500 dice attack would become 5d6x100 while a 22,000 point attack would become 22d6x1000. You'll still need a buttload of dice but it's way more feasible than rolling 22,000 dice.

Nerds of Earth, lend me your power!
Goku's Spirit Bomb gets its own sidebar on page 87. The way that they rule it, you get a multiplier to your Power Level and Power Up based on how many people lend you power. A few thousand people gets you a x2 bonus, a small country gets you x10, and if you can get a whole planet to kickstart your attack you get a nice x100,000 multiplier. That's a shitload of power, so naturally nobody but Goku gets to do it unless you convince the GM to let you learn it.

NEXT TIME ON DRAGON BALL Z!
In the next post I'll be covering what happens when the game manages to survive the first combat: GETTING HUGE!

Lynx Winters fucked around with this message at 03:19 on Feb 13, 2014

Kaja Rainbow
Oct 17, 2012

~Adorable horror~

InfiniteJesters posted:

Sometimes I wonder how well things like Tomb of Horrors and WLD would work in Dungeon World, where there's less statblocks to get in the way.

Does this make me a bad person?

Based on my experiences, those types of traps work fairly well in Dungeon World as long as you follow the general DW philosophy (i.e. give the players an opportunity to act instead of arbitrarily killing them without warning). Just follow the DMing rules (the GM agendas/principles/moves, not to mention the basic rule of 'make soft moves, make a hard move when the players fail or give you a golden opportunity') and things work out. Show them something's amiss, let them react (triggering Defy Danger or another move), stuff like that.

Arbitrary deaths aren't fun unless you're running it Paranoia style (which some people've already discussed doing).

girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

You think you have the wherewithal to figure out my puzzle vagina?
Goddammit, the DBZ game actually sounds like if you tore it all down and rebuilt it from the ground up following very rough guidelines, you'd end up with something really drat fun. Why do I want to do this, F&F thread? I haven't even finished writing up my "all the rules in 10 minutes" CBSU&J:G system.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Region O: The Bit That's Cold

Here we are. The end. Now, there have been a couple of other places where the PCs could potentially exit the dungeon. Region M had a small blurb stating the DM might want to stick an exit somewhere around there. Region H has its giant hole in the ceiling. However, this is the "official" exit from the dungeon. Region O is the highest level Region (16-20) and has the only exit that can simply be walked out of.

Like J, H, K, and L this is one of those environmentally themed levels. This time the theme is cold stuff. The whole place is bitterly cold, which doesn't really matter because by now Resist/Endure elements will certainly be something the whole party is going to be covered in.

It was also apparently never intended to be a part of the dungeon, it was simply some nearby caves at the foot of the mountain the dungeon was built into, but the earthquake opened up the walls between the dungeon and this area. Despite that, the dungeon's magic still extends to this area, making it impossible to simply teleport or plane shift out.

map:



So, you'd expect that the ultimate final region of the dungeon would be epic and impressive. If you came in from the West you've just battled your way through several ancient undead warlords, the first lich in existence, and possibly the World Eater itself. If you came from the south from Region L you just battled a demonic kraken and his army of aquatic monsters (and you'll die since Region L's level range is significantly lower than O's). So, naturally Region O must be really, really amazing. Maybe the factions this time are warring forces of good and evil dragons, maybe there's an army of celestials coming into "cleanse" the dungeon and they're perfectly willing to eliminate anyone "tainted", maybe it's the opposite and a small army of demons and devils are attempting to make a bid for freedom, held back only by a few staunch defenders guarding the final exit.

Sadly, the truth is much lamer. You see, apparently Region O was originally defended by a titan, the brother to the titan corpse PCs found all the way back in Region A. However he was overpowered and imprisoned in ice by a frost giant shaman and his clan. Apparently the frost giant knew of the nature of the dungeon and that he now controlled one of the only exits from the place. He figured that he and his clan would act as toll keepers and get rich off of the inhabitants. Anyone who wants to leave must pay him their magical items to escape. Unfortunately this plan hasn't really worked out: not many of the dungeon's inhabitants have actually found the place and those who have don't really have much in the way of wealth to offer, and so the giants just kill them. Despite this disappointment they're still camping here.

If that sounds like a fairly dull premise you'd be right. This region is basically just a slog through enemies of varying levels of beefiness until you reach the exit and are done. It's entirely unimaginative and really involves little more than carving through walls of HP. Many encounters are with low to mid powered humaniods and giants whose CR is buffed through numbers or class levels. For example, one of the first encounters is with a patrol of 10 standard frost giants. While this is hardly a trivial encounter, it basically is just a group of enemies who will smack the PCs with melee attacks turn after turn while the party depletes their HP, or the wizard/sorcerer utterly destroys them.

Since almost all monsters here are of the "brute" variety (giants and humaniods, sometimes with fighter or barbarian levels) and rely more on numbers than individual power, their non-Fort saves are pitiful and spellcasters will definitely dominate. A sorcerer with Mass Hold Monster can turn this entire region into a cakewalk.

O1-O9
This section really illustrates the above point, it's primary feature is a tribe of renegade bugbear slaves that belonged to the giants in the past. This is a group of 12 bugbears who you will likely fight all at once: 4 6th level fighters, 3 6th level barbarians, 2 6th level rangers, 2 6th level rogues, and a 6th level cleric. Another group consists of 4 fighters, three barbarians, and five rangers all of 6th level. Their chieftain is more powerful warrior (13th level barbarian) but since he'll probably be fought solo he doesn't really present much of a challenge either to a tactically minded group, or any spellcaster with Hold Person memorized.

Now, will these fights cost the PCs some hit points? Sure, there's enough enemies that a few will definitely get hits in, especially since the PCs AC is much lower than it should be due to a lack of magic items. But unless a spellcaster is stupid enough to get surrounded or a rogue is very unlucky no one is going to be severely hurt and at 16+ level healing is a fairly trivial task. This Region also doesn't have any major "timed" events or wandering dangers so it's quite easy for PCs to retreat, rest and come back later.

In fact, this area is almost a 3.5-hater's perfect example of the perceived problems with the system. It allows spellcasters to dominate over all other classes due to the weak enemies, threats that can't kill a PC are basically meaningless due to powerful healing magic, and there's not really any reason for a "full day" of adventuring when it's so easy to retreat and rest once you've run out of high level spells.

O10-O19

This area is the lair of some frost worms. It also used to be the lair of a group of winter/frost cultists whose presence is indicated by a few murals and shrines. These have no significance whatsoever as far as I can tell.

The frost worms (two of them) have a 7 extra HD, making them moderately challenging compared to the giants and bugbears. But one of the other big issues with this area is that it's theme is just so god-damned obvious. Within minutes of arriving in this Region (and especially after dealing with other "themed" regions throughout the dungeon) it's going to be clear that this is a cold-themed location and that the PCs should prepare accordingly. Region J had this problem as well, but at least being forced to set aside fire-based spells is at least mildly limiting as they represent a large portion of the direct-damage arsenal of mages and sorcerers.

Here, all the party clerics have to do is make sure that they use all their 2nd level slots on Resist Energy and any enemies that can't be easily taken down with a save-or-suck spell can be easily torched with fiery effects since practically all of them have the Cold subtype and will be taking double damage.

There's also a group of 12 6 HD frost mephits. At this point the PCs may start to feel like bullies picking on the little kids at school.

Oh, and there's a 24 HD fiendish megaraptor and it's friend, an 8th level Frost Giant ranger. And in another cranny we've got a pack of 5 18 HD winter wolves.


O20-O30

This is the large open area to the south that borders the water and the large interior cave. The biggest threat is the giant's animal trainer, a 12th level Frost Giant druid who could probably give the party a halfway decent fight.

The biggest risk of this section is the fact that there aren't much in the ways of walls or distance, so if you get in a fight with one group of giants you're probably getting in a fight with all of them in short order. Still even with several waves of reinforcements the fights should not significantly challenge a group of high-level PCs.

O31-O45

This area is the domain of an Ice Devil who apparently escaped from the dungeon proper and just decided to hang out here for a while. The devil has a few renegade frost giants serving him and a few 12-headed Cryohydra. For some reason a single ice devil is powerful enough to give this area the Cold Dominant, Enhanced Magic (ice) and Impeded Magic (fire) planar conditions. Still the devils here at least gives the area a bit of complexity.

The Ice Devil has a few bone and horned devils as backup, and Colossal Purple Worm with 36 HD who is clearly another one of those monsters the writers threw in when they realized that they were missing any encounters with one in the previous Regions.

The ice devil himself is a 24 HD Gelugon. I've noticed that the more a particular area relies on simply adding HD to its inhabitants the worse it probably is. Although the Gelugon is a decent fight, his servant (an 18th level bugbear sorcerer) is probably the most dangerous fight in the section.

O46-O60

This is the home of the frost giant tribe. For some reason their chieftain is masquerading as the titan who used to guard this place. It's never adequately explained why he would want to do this.

There are also a few HD-bloated monsters as well. A 20 HD gargantuan black pudding and a 31 HD gargantuan Remorhaz.

There's also a 5th level frost giant ranger who is also a were-polar bear, which is interesting at least.

Other than that there's not much beyond some frost giants with class levels (mostly barbarians and fighters). Given their low will saves a PC with Mass Charm Monster could build up quite an army of allies.

The frost giant chieftain is, admittedly, going to be a pretty tough fight. He's a 19th level frost giant cleric. He's got spells and plenty of hit points, but presumably by this time the PCs are all 19th or so level themselves...the odds don't favor the frost giant, especially since he's likely a solo fight.


And that's really it. The exit is just a big hole in the northern wall of the dungeon (which the cartographers forgot to mark the encounter on the map) and leaving doesn't really require fighting the frost giant shaman. In fact, with just a few mass invisibility spells or something similar the PCs could easily sneak past the giants and leave without much of a fight at all.

If you think this region seems short you're right. It has 60 rooms making it the shortest Region in the book (although Region H comes close). In fact if you just so happen to move in a straight line towards the exit you can make it there in under 8 encounters. There really isn't much to say here. It doesn't have much worth ranting over or insulting but that's mostly because there really isn't much to talk about. It's solidly mediocre.

This Region has the same problem as the other potential exits from the dungeon (M and H) in that it's extremely anti-climatic. Region M is little more than wandering around a big rock pile and maybe finding a cave or a tunnel that leads out. Region H is a relatively peaceful encounter with elves that the PCs will likely leave behind immediately as soon as they realize how easy it is for them to simply leave the dungeon here. Region O is full of encounters that vary between painfully slow fights where you have to carve your way through opponents with massive quantities of hit points or fights that are over in moments if the party spellcasters are on the ball.

None of them have any kind of "conclusion" to the dungeon's plot, no epic confrontation with escaping evil, no "You Suck" speech to the incompetent angelic guardians. Some of those are possible in other regions but you still have to find some way out and then it just kind of...ends.

But to be fair, at this point that's all any PC is going to want after having to deal with the nightmare that is the WLD.

So, finally completed the WLD, and thank god. Next time I think I'll dedicate myself to a write up for a game I actually enjoy

I'll leave you with the depressing words of Jim Pinto, line developer and editor of the WLD:

"I've read the majority of the text at least twice, and this book is about as good as anything I ever do is going to get. This is my magnum opus."

girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

You think you have the wherewithal to figure out my puzzle vagina?

oriongates posted:

I'll leave you with the depressing words of Jim Pinto, line developer and editor of the WLD:

"I've read the majority of the text at least twice, and this book is about as good as anything I ever do is going to get. This is my magnum opus."
I'm so sorry you had to go through that for us.

Mimir
Nov 26, 2012

oriongates posted:

So, finally completed the WLD, and thank god. Next time I think I'll dedicate myself to a write up for a game I actually enjoy

I'll leave you with the depressing words of Jim Pinto, line developer and editor of the WLD:

"I've read the majority of the text at least twice, and this book is about as good as anything I ever do is going to get. This is my magnum opus."

World's Largest City, then?

The World's Largest City's actual product description on Amazon posted:

WARNING: Travel Advisory from the Wizard Council of Alderac. At this time the World's Largest City has been declared unsafe for standard tourism. There have been numerous reports of undead horrors running amok in the sewers, and possibly fouling the drinking water. The Thieves Guild has run rampant across the many marketplaces filled with a plethora of dishonest merchants. Current reports of a local government made unstable by actions of rogue wizards and nobles make for considerable danger and possible outbreak of civil disturbance.
WANTED: The Wizard Council of Alderac is hereby looking for adventurers to travel to the World's Largest City and help restore order to it's many and varied streets! The Wizard Council of Alderac has had reports of tourists in the World's Largest City disappearing in the night, and it is believed that they may have fallen prey to the Thieves Guild or maybe the undead running amok in the sewers or rogue wizards and secret societies the list goes
Emphasis mine, and yes, it just cuts off at the word "goes".

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.

Clapping Larry
So, what's in O59 of the WLD?

Who is the real Barcellos?

What is the fate of man?!

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Mimir posted:

World's Largest City, then?

LALALALA!! I can't hear you!!


quote:

So, what's in O59 of the WLD?

Who is the real Barcellos?

What is the fate of man?!

O59 is the place where the titan Barcellos is imprisoned. The "real" Barcellos refers to the fact that the frost giant shaman is impersonating the titan (it is never explained why or how he is doing this). The impersonation has absolutely no effect on the plot, the PCs have no idea who Barcellos is and they can't really free him without killing the shaman first.

The "fate of man" is a mystery that was never revealed and likely was meant to be written out of the dungeon's plot entirely. You see occasional places where the writers were clearly trying to make some kind of allusion to some deep connection between the celestials and mankind, and that the dungeon has some kind of grand purpose beyond simply a prison. This is never elaborated on or explained. In fact you also get places that very explicitly state that the dungeon existed before humans, for instance Region N has a sidebar making it clear that none of the undead in the Region are actually humans, instead being some kind of pre-human precursor race (this seems to be purely cosmetic, they all speak modern Common and behave exactly like humans).

My best guess is that these are just remnants of plot ideas that were intended to be written out but never got fully excised.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

I really do have to wonder if WLD would have been, well, not good but less terrible if they went the "Castle Greyhawk" route and just let each designer write one level however they wanted instead of doing one huge map. I doubt it would have been much better, but at least things would be more self-contained.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
The remit to use every monster in the Monster Manual certainly gave us a lot of "and then there's a remorhaz hanging out!" Even at its its monstrous length, it somehow comes across as :effort:

Piell
Sep 3, 2006

Grey Worm's Ken doll-like groin throbbed with the anticipatory pleasure that only a slightly warm and moist piece of lemoncake could offer

Young Orc
World's Largest City is surprisingly not-terrible. It isn't shackled to fights and traps so much so you aren't forced to confront the designer's terrible ideas on balance, and since it's a city rather than a linear-ish dungeon they can actually have somewhat coherent plots going on.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

The remit to use every monster in the Monster Manual certainly gave us a lot of "and then there's a remorhaz hanging out!" Even at its its monstrous length, it somehow comes across as :effort:

And they didn't even loving do that! There's a bunch missing, with the excuse that they use one of each type (so a few dragons stand for all of the dragons).

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

oriongates posted:

(after all, the chaotic good guardinals would certainly have different opinions on how prisoners should be treated than the LG archon),

Ahem, guardinals are Neutral Good. You're thinking of pre-4E eladrians :colbert:

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

The Leper Colon V posted:

Goddammit, the DBZ game actually sounds like if you tore it all down and rebuilt it from the ground up following very rough guidelines, you'd end up with something really drat fun. Why do I want to do this, F&F thread? I haven't even finished writing up my "all the rules in 10 minutes" CBSU&J:G system.

Oh I know, even a few tweaks here and there make a huge difference (no more Reflections, Deflections are ablative, etc) but at the end of the day you're left with two big problems: you'd have to ditch Fuzion entirely, and a DBZ game really wouldn't be that interesting to run or play in the first place. It's a show that basically boils down to two people hitting each other in a big open space. It's the same problem the Street Fighter RPG, Thrash, and the cancelled Capcom World Tournament RPG had in common: the fighting game format usually doesn't make good RPGs. All of the tactically interesting stuff that happens in real-time gets destroyed when you slow it down to a turn-based system. Cover and terrain don't even really work in DBZ for very long past character creation, since blowing up buildings and mountains is pretty easy and both fighters would want to remove that sort of tactical advantage from their opponent.

Trust me, man, in my youth I really did try to make this game work. I made rules tweaks, I tried changing the core system to not break, I tried to figure out how to make combat more interesting than two dudes whacking each other until one stops. I'm not saying it can't be done but I am saying there's better uses of your time (such as making a game for the original Dragon Ball instead of Z) (or playing Wulin).

This has reminded me, though, can we write about games that never got released if we have the material that was going into it? Because I'd love to write some words about Capcom World Tournament, a cancelled d20 Street Fighter & Friends RPG.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Lynx Winters posted:

This has reminded me, though, can we write about games that never got released if we have the material that was going into it? Because I'd love to write some words about Capcom World Tournament, a cancelled d20 Street Fighter & Friends RPG.

As a unabashed Street Fighter fan, I'd love to hear about it.

There aren't really any "rules" about what you can cover here or how you go about it.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007



Lynx Winters posted:

This has reminded me, though, can we write about games that never got released if we have the material that was going into it? Because I'd love to write some words about Capcom World Tournament, a cancelled d20 Street Fighter & Friends RPG.

The old title was obscure and/or mockable and it doesn't get much more obscure than unreleased! :justpost:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Lynx Winters posted:

This has reminded me, though, can we write about games that never got released if we have the material that was going into it? Because I'd love to write some words about Capcom World Tournament, a cancelled d20 Street Fighter & Friends RPG.
Was that the one Last Unicorn Games was supposed to put out?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
It was by the now-defunct Living Room Games.

I had a preview for it somewhere, but I don't remember it being particularly substantial.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.
Are you guys ready for more TechNoir? I'm ready for some more TechNoir!



When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.

Now that we've learned how to create characters and plot maps, Instigation is chock full of GM advice on how to bring the two together. It's pretty straightforward, so we're just going to hit the high points.

The GM's job is to facilitate play. That means all the things you'd expect in a tabletop RPG: Setting scenes, playing NPCs, all that jazz, but a big part of the TechNoir GM's job is to push toward contention. Remember, if the PCs aren't regularly getting beaten bloody, suspended from the force, and/or wrongfully framed for heinous crimes, they can't improve their stats and they lose effectiveness in the game. Now, plenty of times they'll follow up on leads like a terrier with a bone, but the GM needs to always be thinking about what this tangled net of factions, connections, and threats are doing and how they're reacting to the PCs' meddling. It's okay for the GM to interrupt statements of player intent with surprising new developments--encouraged, even. Also listed among the GM's duties is one of the most important pieces of advice in any tabletop RPG ever:

TechNoir posted:

End the scene. As soon as the characters have done what is most important at this time in this place, cut to the next scene.

gently caress yeah, pacing.

All through this chapter we get a running example of a GM running a game for three PCs in the LA Sprawl Transmission. The first example is one I really wish the book would unpack more, because it shows drawing a PC into the mystery by having one of her contacts murdered before the game even starts. Which, I mean, yeah, it's a classic hard-boiled plot opener, but given that connections are supposed to be major sources of help and information it would have been nice to have a bit of discussion about how something like this can kickstart the plot without screwing players over. Something like autopsy reports or CSI work counting as leaning on him for information, at least.

Anyway, a good, strong opening scene is critical to a game like this, and GMs are encouraged to pull out all the stops. Drop your best hard-boiled description, layer on that grimy dystopian cyberpunk aesthetic, really make them feel it. Give them one or two plot nodes they don't know about yet--and not in a vague, rumor-has-it kind of way. Shove it in their faces. If you've got an event like an assassination or a catastrophic accident on your plot map, have it happen right in front of them. If you've got an object, have someone drop it in their lap--ideally right before uttering a cryptic warning and keeling over dead. Feel free to give the spotlight to one or two characters here--mutual connections should get them all involved pretty quickly.

Subsequent scenes are easier to set, since usually you'll be responding to player actions. Still though, don't be afraid to respond to "I want to go check out that Pai Gow parlor" with "Cool, but while you're en route, an armored limo pulls up and a cybered-up gorilla in a tuxedo tells you to get in if you know what's good for you."

Unlike dungeon-crawling murderhobos, hard-boiled investigators typically work alone. That's all cool, just keep the scenes snappy and alternate a lot. We get some pretty standard advice on motivating characters via money and relationships, but it's the section on "Evidence as Motivator" that's most relevant. Basically, if the discovery of a new plot node doesn't introduce new drama and shift the playing field in some meaningful way, you're doing it wrong. We'll spend the rest of the chapter breaking down all the different kinds of plot nodes and finding interesting ways for them to be connected, but you should always be looking for ways to introduce drama and conflicting agendas.

The flip side of that is: don't introduce unnecessary friction to these reveals. This goes back to the "you only roll against other people" rule, and correlates to the rules in systems like GUMSHOE that say "if not finding this information leads to nothing interesting happening, just give them the information." When they search a crime scene, they don't have to roll Notice; if they're conducting an autopsy don't make them roll Treat, etc. This is especially true of connections: a PC's connections will always give her something. It may not be the unvarnished truth, but it's always something to move the story forward. (The flip side of that is that if you're trying to get the real truth out of a connection or you're leaning on a connection other than your own, that's contention and it's time to break out the dice.)

The rest of the chapter devotes a page to each type of plot node, how to use them in the story, and some questions to ask yourself between scenes to prompt drama. Each page also cross-references with all six plot node types, giving you two or three questions you might ask yourself to help figure out a connection between the nodes. For example:

TechNoir posted:

FACTIONS
Factions are just the kind of faceless institutions that independent-minded
protagonists are likely to get on the bad side of. Given time, one party is
going to do something the other party is absolutely opposed to.

  • Have factions be up to something. They’re run by people with agendas.
    Agendas at odds with protagonists, connections, and other factions.
  • Of course factions involve a lot of people. There can be more than one
    agenda within any one institution. Create some infighting.
  • Factions have resources at their disposal. They can hire connections,
    threats, smaller factions, and even protagonists to further their cause.

CONNECTIONS
Does the faction employ this connection? Or is he the one that got away? Do they have dirt on him they can use for blackmail?

EVENTS
Has the faction planned this event? If not, were they still aware it was going to take place or has it taken them by surprise?

FACTIONS
Is this faction in alliance with another? Is one a false front or a sleeping backer for the other? Or do they wage shadow wars against each other?

LOCATIONS
Is the faction headquartered at this location? The site of future expansion? Is it where they’ve buried some secret they’d rather not let anyone find out?

OBJECTS
Did the faction produce this object? Is it a technological innovation of their own design? If it gets in the wrong hands, does it reveal their secrets?

THREATS
Has the faction assembled this threat? Are they a sanctioned arm of the faction’s authority? Did they escape the faction, taking inside secrets with them?

And that's it for Instigation. Short, sweet, and to the point. So let's follow some of that GM advice and move toward Contention.

Contention is the game's term for characters acting against other characters--your fistfights, interrogations under hot lights, and what have you. It's not quite a task-oriented resolution system or a goal-oriented one; the best I can describe it as is a drama-oriented system. The game doesn't care about picking locks, searching for hidden doors, or staking out a nightclub. In fact, it gives us three very simple rules for stuff like that:

Will the action lead toward contention? Are there guards behind the door? Will their suspect actually turn up at the nightclub tonight? If yes, then the action happens. Easy peasy.

Will the action lead away from contention? Does the door lead to an empty room? Is their suspect currently in Singapore? f yes, the action still happens, but you gloss over it quickly and move on.

Will the action avoid a contention? If they get through the door, will they avoid the security patrol? If they stake out the building, will they miss the goon squad that's going to their office to toss the joint? In that case, yeah, you can deny the action. Don't be a dick about it or anything, just say "so yeah, you're about to do that when suddenly..." and grab the dice. I call this the "Men With Guns" rule.

So, rolling dice. We've covered the basics in the first update, but I'll re-post them here as a refresher:

TechNoir uses three colors of dice: white dice are action dice. They represent training and innate skill--when you try to do something, you'll roll a number of action dice equal to your rating in the relevant verb: Coax to fast-talk somebody, Hack to infiltrate their network, etc.

Black dice are push dice. They represent extra effort or a technological edge. You've only got a limited pool of these, but you can add one to your roll for every relevant adjective, object, or tag you've got. After the roll, you can spend them to make the action more effective. Much like Fate Points in Fate games, push dice are the main driver of the economy of TechNoir, and we'll cover what a great system this is in a later post.

Red dice are hurt dice. They represent injuries, inconveniences, and all the other little distractions that make you less effective. For every negative adjective that might hinder your action, you add a hurt die to your roll.

Once you've got all your dice assembled, you roll them. First things first, look at your hurt dice. If any of them are showing the same number as any of your action or push dice, those dice go away. Gather up all your hurt dice, plus any matching action or push dice, and put them aside. Now look at your highest-showing die remaining: that's your action's result. If you have more than one die tied for highest, add ".1" to your result. So, for example, a single 5 gives you a result of 5, three 6s gives you 6.1. If your result is higher than your target's rating in the relevant verb, congratulations! You can put a new adjective, either positive or negative, on the target. If you have any push dice, you can spend them now to make that adjective more severe and/or stick around longer.

So, adjectives. We already know they can be positive or negative; they can also be fleeting, sticky, or locked. Fleeting adjectives are the default for an action; if you don't spend a push die that's what you get. They only last as long as whatever's creating them does, and you can try to get rid of one in the same scene you got it. Otherwise they go away at the end of the scene. Exampled might be grabbed or intrigued.

Spend one push die and you can make an adjective sticky. These are more serious--actual injuries and lasting consequences. They don't go away until they get some kind of treatment--maybe some time with the RoboDoc, maybe a nice long advice session with your favorite bartender, or maybe a corporate PR campaign to clean up that image. Maybe busted (leg) or infatuated.

Two push dice makes the adjective locked. For the most part, these guys are permanent. You can get rid of negative ones with advanced cybernetics or similar serious personal alterations, and positive/relationship adjectives can be overwritten (for example, when you find out your partner's been working for GeneCorp all along). Examples might be severed (leg) or obsessed.

Unlike a lot of storygames, or even more traditional games with narrative elements like Fate, TechNoir doesn't pre-build stakes into conflicts or have a fixed "win/lose" condition. All parties involved should state what their desired outcome is so there's no miscommunication, but goals can shift and evolve as the scene does, and the scene's over when everybody agrees it's over. For example, grabbing a suspect and tossing him in the back of a van might require that you first lay hands on him (putting grabbed as an adjective), then pick him up (carried), then finally toss him in the van (contained as a sticky adjective, maybe). On the other hand, flirting that same suspect into taking you back to his flat might just require a single sticky infatuated adjective--if you're his type.

The game calls this common-sense approach your "vector," which is just a fancy sci-fi way of saying "your actions and adjectives have to make sense." If you don't have any kind of computer, you can't very well Hack things, and unless you're fighting John Carpenter's The Thing you probably can't apply severed as a fleeting adjective, etc. This can also influence the fiction of the scene: To continue that example of black-bagging some mook, maybe if you had strong cyberarms you could make a case for just grabbing the guy being enough. Likewise, sometimes you won't get what you want in one scene--sometimes you'll tag somebody with a sticky adjective and that'll carry you through to the next scene (the example in the book is getting a gang punk pissed off enough that he beats the crap out of you and takes you to his boss).

So, some additional rules: If an action's not being opposed (usually you're putting a positive adjective on a friend), you can skip the rolling and just spend your push dice. If it is being opposed, the target can discharge push dice to invoke adjectives or tags to increase the target number of the action.

(Here I should digress to explain spending vs. discharging push dice. See, push dice are kind of like mana cards in Magic: The Gathering. When your turn starts, you have all your push dice available. Using them in your roll, or using them to increase the target number when somebody comes at you, discharges them. At the end of the action you set them aside, but you keep them and when your turn comes around again they refresh. Spending means you actually hand your push dice over--players to the GM, the GM to the player an NPCs is acting against.)

Removing or replacing adjectives works basically the same way--with the caveat that a lot of fleeting attributes can be cleared with an unopposed action. If you're prone, for example, all you have to do is spend an action getting to your feet.

You can also target multiple characters if you have an adjective or equipment tag that makes sense. A gun with burst fire lets you shoot multiple dudes, being fast lets you outrun a whole bunch of people, etc. Just discharge a push die and roll--but if you want to make the adjective you apply sticky or locked, you have to spend push dice for each target separately.

If there are more than two people involved in a contention, you just alternate "sides," but there's no initiative system to speak of. As long as it's a good give and take between PCs and NPCs, you can take turns in any order. Once everybody's acted, the next round begins and you keep going until the scene is resolved.

Finally, let's talk about lethal consequences. At the end of any scene where PCs got hurt (after any fleeting adjectives are cleared), each player totals up the number of negative adjectives that describe physical injuries and rolls that many hurt dice. If one die shows a 6, the character is dying. She still has agency and can take actions, but she has dying as a sticky negative attribute until she gets treatment. If two or more dice show 6s, she's dead. Kind of. See, dead is a locked negative adjective, but there's still time to rush the character to a cyberdoc and get her borged up, just like with any other locked negative adjective. It's only if the roll to implant that stuff fails that the character is for realsies dead.

Hey, speaking of healing, let's wrap up the rules by talking about Restoration. We've talked a little bit about removing adjectives in the sense of getting rid of fleeting ones, but sticky and locked adjectives generally require a scene to themselves to get rid of. The rules are pretty much the same, with one exception: The person rolling to remove the adjective totals up her own negative adjectives and her patient's when assembling her dice pool. If you're operating on yourself, you count your adjectives twice. See a doctor, son, goddamn.

Healing is also how you improve your Verbs. See, whenever you take an action with a verb and you fail, you mark a check box next to that verb. When you try to get rid of an adjective, first you pick a Verb you want to try to improve. If one of the hurt dice comes up higher than your rating in that Verb, increase it by one. Doesn't matter whether you heal up or not, hard-boiled protagonists learn from pain.

And that's it for TechNoir, mechanically speaking! Next time we'll review some Transmissions, then we'll finish off with MechNoir.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008





Rolemaster: Part 4 - Combat! Starring Rick Jason and Vic Morrow.

First off, let’s start this off right, with more 80s metal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4qTi7cDtI4

Yeah! That’s chart referencing and percentage calculating music!

Now, combat in Rolemaster is either pretty straightforward, or the worst joke you’ve ever heard about how stupidly specific D&D gets with its charts. Don’t believe me? Here’s a guide to calculating how different sub-use scabbard materials and placement affects your initiative when drawing your sword, and how to calculate the cost of a multipurpose sheath:


A shovel sheath cannot be made of anything but stone! So sayeth the ICE gods!

You can’t make this poo poo up!

See, the simulationist :spergin:lords at ICE had a very bad habit of simply publishing anything and everything that was sent to them with only the most cursory glance as to whether it was something anyone would ever need, let alone whether or not it affected game balance, simply labeling just about everything in the game “optional” and leaving it up to the GM to make calls as to what did and didn’t fly in their games. IYears before White Wolf started published books that were chockful of “secret and mysterious” clans and sects that you would never, ever get to play despite having full rules and write ups for them, Rolemaster was leading the charge! It helped insure that if you played at two different tables playing Rolemaster, you had no idea what the game would actually be like!



The later books started including checklists in the back so you could keep track of which optional rules you were using, and which ones they recommended you actually use. But if you can think of it, there’s probably a rule or a chart for it somewhere.

But, by ignoring all that optional crap, you have a combat system that runs pretty smoothly once everyone gets the hang of it, and does a very nice job of being more “realistic” than D&D without going full on FATAL with nonsense about HP for individual limbs and such.

Combat is divided into 4 broad phases:

1. Magic
2. Missile
3. Movement
4. Melee


Everyone acts at the same time, and initiative is only rolled if there is a dispute. This is a rule I dig because it prevents the “everyone sits around while Jimmy is an indecisive waffle about which of the three orcs he wants to hit” that the turn by turn initiative systems most games from this period have. While Jim overthinks, we can resolve the other people at the table who know what they want to do.

The phases are technically a little more complicated than that, with, for example, the magic phase broken up by the Spell Action phase and Spell Results phase and Spell Orientation phase all being rolled up into one phase up above because it so rarely comes up that they aren’t all one unit that it doesn’t really matter.


The fancy dan overly complicated version

The phases are pretty self explanatory: magic is cast in the spell phase, missile weapons are fired in the missile phase, etc. You can take an “opportunity action” to go take the action of an earlier phase in a later one (if you want to move to a different position before you use your bow, for example), but you cannot jump ahead. Melee tends to be the only one that gets a lot of initiative rolls, which are a d100 + your Quickness bonus, but occasionally missile will get them as well for sniper duels and such.

Each action a character takes during a round takes a various percentage, with the lowest at 10% being things like “casting your first instant spell this round” and “Moving at a slow walk (1/2 base rate)”, and the largest at 90% being things like “performing multiple martial arts attacks” “reloading a crossbow” and “Sprinting at x4 base movement”. For the most part, you won’t end up using the whole 100%, unless you’ve got a spell or a magic item like Haste or Speed which doubles your actions, and will allow you to make multiple attacks (which are 70%).

The rough version is you’ve got enough to move your regular speed (20%), make an attack or begin casting a non-instant spell (70%), and 10% left over for talking or signaling to other PCs.

These action percentages are difficult as hell to find, spread throughout multiple books. I was lucky enough to have a GM who compiled them all into a handout for us, otherwise it’d be hell.

The game doesn’t come out and say it, but you’re going to use a hex grid with 5 or 10 foot hexes, and miniatures. Combat is crunchy enough about ranges, flanking, and other tactical considerations that Theatre of the Mind play would be pretty darn tricky. In fact, I’d say that Rolemaster is about as close to a computer game as you’re going to get without an actual computer. More on this in a moment.

There are four important statistics for each combatant during combat, their Offensive Bonus (OB) and their Defensive Bonus (DB), which determine hits and misses, their Hit Points, which you already know about because this isn’t your first rodeo, and their Armor Type, which is an interesting variation on armor class that I haven’t seen in any other games.

Rather than have armor work as a combined “luck + hits that don’t hurt + divine grace + rolling with the hit” thing like D&D, what Armor Type you are in explicitly effects what amount of damage each type of weapon does to you and what kind of criticals will be inflicted. As you’ll see in a moment, the heavier armors result in you getting hit more often, but with far fewer criticals being inflicted, and that it’s way better to wear almost nothing if you’re not going to wear AT9 or higher. This is an interesting way to represent the protective capabilities of armor, and not a completely inaccurate one; heavier armor can be bulkier, but the mail and plate take most of the hit for you, while bare skin just gets torn to shreds. As a house rule, we play that the Plate base armors drop criticals one severity, because the maneuver penalties they inflict are so severe and not exactly based in reality (the game for all its vaunted research being made in the 80s, back before a lot of proper study was done into the actual wearing of armor for practical use) that otherwise it’s overall better to wear a Teddy Roosevelt style AT12 leather hunting suit than a suit of plate mail. Cool as that suit is, sometimes you want to play a knight in shining armor, and giving them a tankier bonus seemed a good way to cut the difference.



Because there are only 4 important numbers, this makes the GMs job pretty easy, as you can just make a column with the various numbers for each monster, noting which type of weapon each OB is for and which type of critical is inflicts (more on this in a moment), a couple notes about what the thing is carrying and if it has any magical spells, and you’re all done.

Sample bad guy entries from Rolemaster Companion VII

To calculate the Player’s OB, you take the total of their relevant weapon or martial arts skill, add in any bonuses from magical weapons or ammunition, backgrounds, circumstances, etc.

To calculate the Player’s DB, you take their quickness bonus, add any relevant magical items or backgrounds, and any ranks they might have in the (usually obscenely expensive) skill Adrenal Dodge. You also get a +10 to +30 bonus if you are carrying a shield, depending on the shield.

What this means is that while people’s OB quickly skyrockets, the DBs are usually quite low. This is because, simulationists that they are, ICE isn’t really in favor of people being innately superfast and unhittable. This is where Parrying comes in. You are allowed to sack part of your OB and apply it to your DB, to represent actively defending yourself against an attacker. Thankfully, you are always allowed to declare a parry regardless of how well you did on initative in the melee phase, though if you parry with 50% or more of your OB, you automatically secede initative to your opponent. You can also do a “full parry” and apply your entire OB to your DB, if you’re nervous about the enemy attacking you. Against bows, well, you’re hosed. Better hope there’s a mage in range with an Aim Untrue, or that you can get your hands on a magical item that casts it quickly.

To make an attack, the attacker rolls a d100, adds it to their OB, and tells the GM. The GM then adds in any modifiers for positioning (you get a bonus for a back attack, for example), subtracts the defenders DB from the number, and consults the weapon’s chart.

Each weapon has a big chart that looks like this:


Only complicated til you know how to read it

You slide across the top to find what armor type the defender is in, then slide downwards to find the result of the attacker’s OB minus the defender’s DB just calculated a moment ago. The number there is how much “concussion damage” is given as a result of the strike, hit point damage. The two letter code, if present, is the critical severity (first letter) and its type (second letter). The critical severity range from A-E, with A being the weakest and E the most lethal. The most common types of criticals are Slashes (S), Pierces (P), and Krushes (K, so used to distinguish them from the C severity). The player rolls on the critical chart to determine the fate of the foe, or vice versa.

This is Rolemaster’s claim to fame, and ICE’s famous tag line “The Inventors of the Critical Hit”. Arms Law/Claw Law actually came out years before Rolemaster did, and was intended as an add on supplement to AD&D or any other roleplaying game system that wanted a more “realistic” combat system. And since when you get hit with a sword, you get cut in the arm and start bleeding, or you get poked in the eye and permanently lose vision on that side, rather than taking an abstract number of hits off of an abstract value representing how lucky, rough and tumble, good with armor, and divinely protected you are, this book launched a hundred crit charts depicting horrific things that occurred to you if the DM rolled a natural 20.

In Rolemaster, though, the crits are on a sliding scale, as we mentioned above, and aren’t all instant death and disfigurement. Just a lot of them.



So, if our hypothetical fighter hits someone with his war mattock, which only does Krush criticals, depending on how well he hits him and how lucky he is on his critical roll, he can do anything from nothing at all, to instantly killing him. Most likely, he will do a little extra damage, stun the defender, and force them to full parry next round. But the harder he hit, the more sever the critical, and the E column is a lot deadlier than the A one is, and inflicts more severe penalties even when it doesn’t kill outright.

Is this trickier than just rolling once for attack and once for damage? A little, sure. But not that much. It’s actually not all that different from the kind of thing that a computer game from the period might do, taking into account all your fiddly little bonuses and comparing them with the armor of the enemy.

You might also note that the weapon chart “tops out” at 150. That’s right, there’s a bounded limit for how much you can gently caress someone up with a given weapon, even if you roll triple open ended and have a +300 skill in swords. This is because you really ought to be parrying, and because you can split your attack once you have a sufficiently high OB to do so. To split your attack, before you roll the dice, you divide the OB number, subtract 20 from each side, and make two attacks. This is silly if you only have only 100 OB, because you’ll be attacking two targets at a net of 30 ((100/2)-20=30), but not so bad if you’ve got a 300 OB and you’re fighting piddly little things ((300/2)-20=130). The game gets complicated, but it’s mostly just a bit of basic math. If you do it once or twice, you end up writing down the numbers for your common split attacks and parries, and won’t even have to touch a calculator.

Now, if you play with all the optional rules, where everyone has a billion fiddly little bonuses to everything, and there are sixteen different charts you need to consult before you take any action, it becomes a horrific slog. But the worst my group has ever had was waiting a moment for the GM to pull out the radiation critical charts from a different book that he hadn’t compiled into his One Big Book of Critical Charts yet. Is this a failure of the game? Totally. As the different companions came out, the need to flip between three or four different books grew and the game got crazy. But with a little photocopying and some plastic sheets, my GM made his own books in a sensible order so he could run the game smoothly. It is of absolutely no surprise that this isn’t worth the time and effort to everyone else. But there are a lot of neat ideas and concepts that could be stolen and incorporated into other games.

Next Time: Sample Combat! or, how many of those level 1 guys we made last time will survive their first encounter?

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 07:19 on Feb 14, 2014

InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012
Those crit charts are like Dark Heresy's, except with all the fun and :black101: sucked out of them.

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

InfiniteJesters posted:

Those crit charts are like Dark Heresy's, except with all the fun and :black101: sucked out of them.

The damage charts look almost exactly like Phoenix Command. :stare:

neonchameleon
Nov 14, 2012



InfiniteJesters posted:

Those crit charts are like Dark Heresy's, except with all the fun and :black101: sucked out of them.

Bear in mind that they used an only slightly tweaked version of them for Middle Earth Roleplaying. It's one of the two biggest game/setting mismatches I'm aware of (the other being GURPS Discworld).

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

neonchameleon posted:

Bear in mind that they used an only slightly tweaked version of them for Middle Earth Roleplaying. It's one of the two biggest game/setting mismatches I'm aware of (the other being GURPS Discworld).

You have to understand that back in the 80s, you chose one fantasy system and used it for everything.

It was the rule.

Hulk Smash!
Jul 14, 2004

Young Freud posted:

The damage charts look almost exactly like Phoenix Command. :stare:

Here's the damage chart from Living Steel which is based on Phoenix Command, for comparison.

Click for big:

Majuju
Dec 30, 2006

I had a beer with Stephen Miller once and now I like him.

Hulk Smash! posted:

Here's the damage chart from Living Steel which is based on Phoenix Command, for comparison.

Click for big:


At last! I can force my friends to play out my Dwarf Fortress sieges at a table in real life!

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Hulk Smash! posted:

Here's the damage chart from Living Steel which is based on Phoenix Command, for comparison.

Click for big:


It was all those Ks showing up in the damage tables. That's what caused me to have traumatic flashbacks

Trigger warning: simulationist gaming

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008



InfiniteJesters posted:

Those crit charts are like Dark Heresy's, except with all the fun and :black101: sucked out of them.

Well, they've got their own kind of charm, especially the higher and more lethal ones that insult and belittle the victim. Remember, these were written in 1979, and originally looked like this:



Which is exactly the kind of thing that a high school kid would write on a sheet of notebook paper, right down to the "extreme" jagged hand-lettered font, but then cleaned up a little by the simulationist overlords. It'd be years before 40k's grim dark awesomness would come into its own.

neonchameleon posted:

Bear in mind that they used an only slightly tweaked version of them for Middle Earth Roleplaying. It's one of the two biggest game/setting mismatches I'm aware of (the other being GURPS Discworld).

What, you don't remember the time when Strider tore an ork in two, rendering the poor sucker's body useless because his brain was destroyed and making him expire in six agonizing rounds? or when Gandalf melted the Witch-King's lower half into a pool of fluid. Instant death!

What they were trying to establish were ways for lower level, unskilled combatants to get "lucky shots" and outright kill enemies which are vastly more powerful than them. The classically cited examples are Bard Bowman in The Hobbit taking out Smaug with the Black Arrow in a single shot, and the Witch-King of Angmar falling to Merry and Éowyn, who clearly aren't level 50 Paladins like the Witch-King is, in The Return of the King. Not a bad idea in theory, because sometimes there are lucky breaks, but it really misses the points of the books (where, you know, both incidents hung on prophecies and fated meetings and general awesomeness), and is generally much like Candide's Dr. Pangloss asserting that the nose was so shaped to hold glasses. No one could manage to see this because they were too busy detailing more and more complicated charts about overly specific skills none by the most evil of GMs would ever force people to use. In practice, because most low level characters don't roll that 1 in 1000 chance for instant death against a high level monster (which usually have magic to stop a few lucky shots each turn anyways), it just makes people highly skilled and of higher level that much more deadly in combat. LotR shouldn't be Fantasy Vietnam; it would work great for a high casualty series like The Black Company or The Malazan Book of the Fallen. :eng101:

Or, you could play something a lot less complicated than one of the original fantasy heartbreakers :dawkins101:

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 20:10 on Feb 14, 2014

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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

Hulk Smash! posted:

Here's the damage chart from Living Steel which is based on Phoenix Command, for comparison.

Click for big:


I ran all four of Leading Edge games systems (Phoenix Command, Aliens RPG, Living Steel, and Army of Darkness) at one time or another. Aliens RPG was easily the most playable set of their rules.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Hulk Smash! posted:

Here's the damage chart from Living Steel which is based on Phoenix Command, for comparison.

Click for big:


That is the most ridonkulous hit location chart I've ever seen, and I've played Battlelords of the 23rd Century, which had a % chance to hit the genitals.

Hulk Smash!
Jul 14, 2004

Living Steel / Phoenix Command really likes its tables and charts



For example, this is the information they feel is necessary for guns:

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Evil Mastermind posted:

That is the most ridonkulous hit location chart I've ever seen, and I've played Battlelords of the 23rd Century, which had a % chance to hit the genitals.

What's real bad is that, at a certain point, they become superfluous. Even without getting into how the Health attribute effects things (not much), Living Steel/Phoenix Command has you make Recovery Rolls, essentially save vs. death, at certain levels of injury in time frame called the Critical Time Period. At 800 total Physical Damage points with no medical aid, you have to make a Recovery Roll of 1% chance of survival every 5 minutes. At 20K PD (or 2T) total PD, you don't even roll, you're dead at the end of the phase.

Now, look at that damage chart and look at how many PD some of those injuries are.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

Y'all are telling me there's an actual -game- system for Living Steel? Maybe I should have read more than the sidebar quotes in those books. Or maybe I was spared a terrible fate.

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Drakyn
Dec 26, 2012

I recall my incredibly nerdy aunt telling me of the times back in the 80s when they played a bit of Rolemaster between D&D. The one thing about the sessions they did that really stuck with her was when they found a dragon sleeping on its hoard, spent about half an hour plotting a battle plan, and then the first arrow from the first player rolled a critical-critical or something and instantly went through its eye into its brain and killed it.
There was griping.

Drakyn fucked around with this message at 06:18 on Feb 15, 2014

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