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Jan 6, 2012


Burning Empires

Invasion of the Power Armored Body Snatchers

Note the Bright Mark in her face: it glows like that when she uses her powers.

Welcome to a new FnF! This time, we're going with a game that's not awful and probably doesn't qualify as obscure, since it has won a number of awards. Burning Empires is a 2006 RPG by Luke Crane, he of Burning Empires and Mouse Guard. It is based in the Iron Empires comics by Christopher Moeller, which portray diverse stories of people living in the aforementioned Iron Empires and their struggles - particularly against the dreaded Vaylen. Before we dive into the game, we get a foreword from Moeller himself detailing the influences of his setting: JRR Tolkien, Barbara Tuchman (A Distant Mirror) and Marc Miller's Traveller foremost among them, also including the work of Moebius, Enki Bilal, Robert Heinlein and others. And then we're on!

I know, the power armor is very 40Kish. Art is mostly taken from the comics, with some original sketches by Moeller to fill things out.

The Iron Empires are far-future nations, remnants of a once great star empire that is now long gone. Humanity is on the decline, frontiers contracting rather than expanding, and the world is ending even if the masses do not realize it. From afar, maddened survivors race to the central systems, bringing dire warnings of the horror beyond the void that hungers for humanity, but those warnings go unheeded. The Vaylen, however, are no mere fiction - they're all too real. Alien worms surgically implanted into human bodies, they want us because only by possessing humans can Vaylen truly be sentient. They want to be us, and so they infiltrate and subvert the outlying worlds, or outright wage war upon them if that's what it takes to capture humans for their own uses. A Burning Empires campaign chronicles a single world under Vaylen attack, and the movers and shakers within it. Normally players will be on the human side, while the GM runs the Vaylen, but this isn't set in stone. Mechanics ensure that the GM doesn't abuse their power, but ultimately both sides are playing to win, and by the end of the story either the planet will drive the Vaylen off or fall to the worm, with no middle ground.

Getting a worm implanted into you sucks - and there's no way back once it happens.

The campaign itself is pretty structured. A full campaign lasts around 18 sessions of play and is divided in three parts called Phases. Infiltration is when the Vaylen are just arriving into the planet and making inroads, Usurpation is when the Vaylen have an established power base and focus on hulling key individuals to secure their position, and Invasion is when the Vaylen force the issue with a full-scale military invasion. Each session is divided into a number of maneuvers, which are the goals and adventures that players set for themselves, and are also moves within the greater strategic game; and within each maneuver there is a number of scenes, which are the least unit of gameplay and where the characters actually get things done. Each character gets in at least one major scene per maneuver. Like in other Burning games, BE uses only six-sided dice, which are usually gathered in pools and rolled. Each die that comes up 4+ is a success. An exponent is just the value of a stat, skill, or what have you - the dice to be rolled when the ability in question is called on in a conflict. Rolling dice is called a test, and no character can affect another character without a rolled test backing the action up. An obstacle is the number to be matched or beaten with your successes to win a test. We even get a handy probability chart to gauge how hard a given obstacle is for a particular dice pool, which is neat. Then we have a glossary of some terms used in the setting, but we'll see those as we go through the book. Notes: iron is the setting's name for its signature power armor. Also, psychologists are how psychics are called in the game, so I guess Scientology was right to fear them :haw:

Green dude there is a Kerrn. Kerrn are plant/frog people and they own.

First of all (the very first session, in fact) players will gather around the table and create (or, in BE terms, burn) the world to be fought for. The GM is also counted as a player for this. How this session plays out determines how hard each side will have it to succeed in each phase and what characters can be generated for the campaign. Players decide which side to play, then it's on to the world! First, we get a broad overview of the different Iron Empires, and it bears noting that there isn't a defined "setting" section in the book: you are supposed to piece out how the setting works from these sparse descriptions or things like the skill lists for each lifepath (no, seriously), which shouldn't be a complete surprise to those who have read Burning Wheel before; all the same, you should probably read Faith Conquers and Sheva's War, the two major trades for the comics, before diving into BE.


Actual world generation begins by selecting the location of the world. Is it an old core world, an interior world distant from the borders, an outworld on the frontier or a void world lost in the fringes? We don't see how the Infection (i.e., strategic level play) rules work just yet, but each of these options adds a number called Disposition to each phase for each side - a core world gets less points for the human side in Usurpation than the Vaylen, but it gives the humans a lot points for Invasion, that sort of thing. Then, atmospheric conditions - the world can be alien life supporting (i.e., hostile both to human and Vaylen mutants), human life supporting, non-life supporting and partial life supporting. Hydrology is next: the world can be predominantly liquid, or predominantly land. Topography - artificially created environs (for alien or non-life supporting atmospheres), naturally rugged/broken terrain, naturally habitable/tame terrain, or a broad range of conditions (Earth-like, basically). Tech Index is where the setting shows its Traveller chops: the measure of the planet's technological development. Sub-index worlds have 20th-century technology, and crucially cannot project power into space. Zero-index worlds have 21st or near future tech, and are considered "quaintly insular" by galactic powers. Low-index worlds have access to the setting's signature tech, and this is where most of the worlds of the Iron Empires fall into. High-index worlds are rare, perhaps only a handful of worlds in the entire setting are high-index, but their tech is truly wonderful - transhuman modification, matter converters, ansibles, the works. Dominant form of government: a civilian commune (democracy! a real rarity), imperial stewardship, lawless/anarchic, merchant league, military dictatorship, noble fief, theocracy. Then, players must decide if the world has factions: a yes/no decision, and one that only gives Vaylen points at first :v: Factions are special in that their points aren't added to the initial dispositions: they must be persuaded or subverted to work for your side in play. There are twelve distinct factions to choose from, and one can be added for each player if they so desire. Some choices are mandatory depending on certain previous choices (an alien-supporting atmosphere world must have Indigenous Life Forms) and two, Freemen and Spacefarers, can be removed by group agreement. The factions are Civilian Communes, Cult Churches, Imperial Bureaucracy, Indigenous Life Forms, Kerrn Diazspherah, Merchant Leagues/Corporate Entities, Military Junta, Organized Crime, Psychologist Foundations, Rebel Line/Loyalists, Slaves and Serfs, and Theocratic Institutions.

One of those sketches I mentioned.

After this, the group selects the world's dominant military: a levy (conscripts), the Lords-Pilot (the nobles of the Iron Empires, commanding Hammer [spacecraft] and Anvil [infantry/iron]), a professional volunteer force, or a religious order or orders. Then it's time to decide the world's attitude towards the Vaylen: educated/informed (outworlds/void worlds only), hysterical fear, ignorant, indifferent, paranoid or having suffered personal experience of the worm (again, outworlds/void worlds only). The world's primary export or industry: agriculture, industrial capital, military capital, raw materials, refined goods, services/skilled labor, unskilled labor. Level of planetary quarantine: no quarantine, standard quarantine, advanced quarantine and strict quarantine. Level of economic restrictions: unregulated, loosely regulated, moderately regulated or tightly regulated. Then, the Figures of Note: these are important movers and shakers for each side in each phase, so six in total. These posts will more often than not be filled by PCs for their side. Note that a Vaylen Figure of Note doesn't have to be Vaylen, or even collaborating with the Vaylen - they only need to not be actively helping the human cause. Whichever side comes up with a name for the world gets one point for their disposition in a phase where they're at a disadvantage.

Economic regulations and quarantines might seem like overkill detail until you remember that Vaylen infiltrators can literally import worms from space if allowed.

Whew, that was long! Something that bothers me is that the system can be gamed to give one side or the other big advantages, by min-maxing choices for best disposition, and given the somewhat adversarial nature of the game this feels a bit iffy. It even comes up in the world burning sample when Luke complains to his players that they're selecting "all the best stuff" :v: In actual play, however (I've only gotten as far as character burning in BE, I'm afraid :shobon:) I've seen that people select stuff for flavor rather than minmaxing, but that's just my experience. Now, If anyone has ideas for a world to burn so that we can make characters later, I'd like to hear them.


Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

A world without rhythm. It should be resistant to the Worm.

Aquatic communist utopia.

A jungleland.

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
Burning Empires sounds like a great idea, but I just have a dislike for any sort of game that tries to make the "rhythm" or pacing of the game a forced part of the mechanics. You get 18 sessions to play, because that's exactly what works for every campaign and every group!

Also if Vaylen can't be sentient without possessing humans, and they need to be surgically implanted, how did the first infections ever happen? Can they possess other species/animals for sentience, too?

Dec 22, 2003

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

Packer's World, a forest planet settled by Twin Peaks fans. (Merchant/lumber-export based.)

Tundra+Muslim theocracy.

Dec 19, 2012
A world with floating cities over blighted an near inhospitable landscapes filled with alien wildlife

Feb 13, 2008

$60,000,000 sexbot

PurpleXVI posted:

Burning Empires sounds like a great idea, but I just have a dislike for any sort of game that tries to make the "rhythm" or pacing of the game a forced part of the mechanics. You get 18 sessions to play, because that's exactly what works for every campaign and every group!

Also if Vaylen can't be sentient without possessing humans, and they need to be surgically implanted, how did the first infections ever happen? Can they possess other species/animals for sentience, too?

Someone falls asleep under a tree somewhere, and wakes up with a newfound appreciation for their annelid bretheren, along with the desire to pick up a club and ensure their former camping buddies know the worm.

Then they go back to town and assume their host's lives, spreading to maybe one new host a week. But by now, its too late. They're gaining momentum. Soon the city will fall, and then, the planet.

Your planet is next.

Beware the worm.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


Yeah if I remember correctly, the worms can infest a host without surgical help but with a lower success rate.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

Have you guys seen Upstream Color? It's a sci-fi art film about the life cycle of a psychic worm. Great movie.
I like the idea of a campaign with a set pace, instead of one that just meanders. And restrictions can lead to creativity, like the form of a poem.

Jan 7, 2015
Oh whatever, let's do this Console oneshot.

Console: Handheld

This is a little Console spinoff in PocketMod format, with 10 small pages (1 of them being the character sheet) fitting comfortably on 2 normal ones. It's heavily modeled after old handheld JRPGs. This, as well as the unorthodox class selection suggest it leans muc closer to SaGa than Final Fantasy this time around.

It should be noted that this game is all about house rules, with the book itself only providing the bare minimum.

The Rules

Monsters and PCs only have 4 stats: ATK, DEF, MAG and SPD. Like in Super Console, everyone's HP and MP has a fixed maximum of 100%. But instead of Super Console, this game doesn't use charts and instead reduces HP directly by the difference between ATK (or MAG for spells) and DEF. Because of this, ATK and MAG are generally much higher than DEF on any given level (with equipment factored in). Monsters dish out around 25-30 direct damage per attack, while PCs pull off around +5 to +10 more.

Stats are always equal to your level, which then gets some juicy modifiers (ATK for example is always Level + 45 + type modifier). Monsters have a fixed modifier array that is then further tweaked through its type. Bosses don't get increased DEF like in Super Console (which would have a good chance of making them invulnerable here thanks to the lack of charts), but incoming damage is reduced to 1/10 instead. I'll probably borrow that for Super Console's Drain and Absorb (the two spells that deal a fixed percentage of damage without excluding bosses)

For PCs, their modifiers come from their class and their equipment. Each type of weapon (sword, staff, axe, bow) and armor (armor, shield, helmet) has a fixed bonus. But since monsters become harder as you proceed through the dungeon, their effective bonus drops by 1 point each level you gain (meaning you'll effectively keep dealing the same damage, and your DEF drops by 2 if you're in full gear). I presume their can't go into negatives, so there's at least that.
To restore your equipment bonus, you either have to find "fresh" equipment or buy new, level appropriate stuff (which gets more expensive depending on your level).

Combat follows SPD order. Outside from status effect or special items which the GM came up with as a reward, attacks always hit. Blocking of course adds a temporary +15 bonus to your DEF. There's still a Back Row, this time offering a +10 DEF bonus and requiring a bow or spell to hit you in the first place.
XP doesn't exist. Instead, the party levels up after each battle they won. Bosses are worth 2 levels.

There are only 10 spells in the whole game. If it deals damage or heals, you can add an AoE if you cut their effectiveness in half (hopefully after DEF was subtracted).
  • FIRE, ICE and LIT are your elemental attack spells, dealing some nice MAG +50 damage for 10% MP.
  • CURE and the stronger CURA are go-to healing spells, while LIFE resurrects people.
  • HEAL gets rid of status effects
  • HOLY is spells instant death to undead monsters
  • Those status effects are BIO (poison), and DARK (adds a 50% miss chance)

Going by the spell price being based on their level, I think these spells degrade just like equipment does. Not sure what this means for HOLY (maybe it goes down from 100% damage?).


There are four classes in the game, each with different modifiers (around +/- 5 to 10), abilities and carrying capacity.

  • Human: The flexible dudes. They can carry any equipment and can use every spell, though they have to buy spells and they take up item slots.
  • Esper: A MAG-oriented class that can't use shields. They get 2 free spells, but they chance every level at random.
  • Monster: Can't use any piece of equipment other than (torso) Armor (which explains their huge ATK bonus). After every fight, they can copy the stats of a non-Boss enemy they fought (before applying their own modifiers).
  • Robot: Can't use equipment at all. They instead come with build-in Punch (physical damge), Laser (fire damage) and Force Field (DEF bonus) that doesn't degrade like normal equipment, making them very handy for extended dungeon-delving.

There you have it. Short, fast, silly.

Other FFRPG news

Valent Games is apparently working on Sidearm (a tactical spinoff with a Western theme) and Console III (this time with a setting), both using an abstracted combat grid, playing cards instead of dice (with your accuracy and the defenders evade showing the range of cards you have to use to hit), and a system similar to Marvel Super Heroes where all numbers (from stats to damage) come in fixed increments (10, 15, 30 all the way to 99999).

I say "apparently" because the last official update is from 2009. Yikes. Oh well, at least they have a wikidot page, which even includes free downloads to the already published console products (in case you're too crummy for "pay what you want"). That's at least something.

And considering our old pal Returner, there's apparently an unoffical 4th edition called SeeD that seems to be more crunchy and customizable (though I fear this could be one of those ultra-crunchy IRC/forum RPG rules). Looks like my future Returner review will be a double-feature.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 12:19 on Aug 1, 2015

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Warmachine: Wrath

Warmachine: Wrath is the first general expansion for Warmachine, and it introduces a new unit type: Battle Engines. They are immense machines that do not require warcasters to control them, but instead are guided by their own crews or, occasionally, themselves. They are all huge creations, so large that they can't actually fire weapons on their left side at things on their right or vice versa. They tower over simple trees or clouds of smoke, too. We also get introduced to Ranking Officers, unit attachments that can be taken with Mercenary units which cause the Mercenary to be considered fully part of the faction of the Ranking Officer.

Constance Blaize, Knight of the Prophet is a Cygnaran Morrowan warcaster, and as such she won't join any army that contains any amount of Thamarites or Undead. For her, the Radiance of Morrow is a way of life. She is empowered by her deep faith in Morrow, fighting for her god and for Cygnar with an inspirational fervor. She was born to a wealthy family in Orven and felt the call of Morrow early. She was the youngest of three siblings, and when her eldest brother, Corrin, enlisted in the army, she felt isolated. In her loneliness, she had a vision of a luminous figure comforting her, and she realized her god was calling her. She volunteered to become an initiate of the clergy. The vicar of Orven saw something special in her, sending her to the Sancteum Seminary of Caspia, and it was there her second vision came. She beheld an archon of Morrow appearing before the Archcourt Cathedral, pointing to a statue of Ascendant Katrena, and then she saw herself in shimmering armor and holding a mighty spear. She knew what she was born to do: not a priest, but a Morrowan soldier. She learned the Prayers for Battle and the lessons of the Martial Trinity of Katrena, Solovin and Markus. Each of these ascendants had been a virtuous soldier-philosopher. Soon, she was initiated into the Primarch Knights, guardians of the Sancteum. When it was found that she had the warcaster talent, she was taken for special training by Primarch Arius, entrusted to control blessed warjacks. Through her training, she remained in correspondence with her brother, who had become a sergeant. She loved his stories of soldiers' life, but her invitation to him to attend her investment never arrived.

Instead, she received a letter saying he'd been killed in action against Khador in the first battle of the War in Llael. She was devastated, and soon was sent to join the Third Army to fight the Cryxians. Thanks to treaties between the Army and the Exordeum, she was soon leading mixed forces of church and kingdom, providing spiritual and martial support to the soldiers. She learned much under Lord General Vincent Gollan of Highgate, also a Knight of the Prophet, and she began to identify more with the soldiers under her command, working through her grief and feeling a deeper connection to her brother. She began to see herself as a knight of both the Church and Cygnar. After the chaos of Llael and the siege of Caspia, she began to feel her powers were better used dealing with things besides raiders. However, Primarch Arius refused her request to join the northern front, hoping to remain neutral in the matter of Khador and Cygnar. After the fall of Northguard, though, opinions in the church started to shift. While Primarch Arius still remains unwilling to send a church warcaster directly against Khador, he has consented for Blaise to join the northern war effort to ensure the Radiance of Morrow is shown to the war-torn regions. Blaize is a Sword of the Church, and she doesn't enjoy fighting, but she doesn't shy from it. She is willing to face any foe of Cygnar or Morrow, as well as anyone who would endanger innocents. Few have her skill with Church warjacks or her strong faith, let alone the clear favor of Morrow she enjoys. Her gimmick is holy light and buffs, and her feat lets her gain focus from her allies' deaths as well as boosting their defense.

The Minuteman is eight and a half feet tall and nearly 2 and a half tons. It can reach any part of the field quickly, designed for mobility in all circumstances. It is a favorite for rapid assault tactics thanks to its exacting compression chambers, which allow it to vent its heartfire through an arcane turbine in order to launch itself into the air. It is skilled at destroying infantry with its grenade launchers when it lands, clearing the line to its real target. Then, it unloads its dual slug guns, each of which is able to rend even heavy 'jack armor. When not clearing infantry, the Minuteman is often used to support heavy 'jacks in pairs, using mobility and powerful weapons to preempt enemy attacks. It relies more on speed than armor, but is well able to keep foes occupied.

The Avenger is over 12 and a half feet tall and over 8 and a half tons. It is armed with a groundbreaking seismic cannon, one of the newest and most lethal weapons Cygnar's ever made. The cannon fires sophisticated projectiles that cause localized earthquakes on impact. Each is the size of a man's head and contains an arcanodynamic generator, a set of precisely arranged rune plates and a small detonator. On impact, the detonation causes an eruption of arcane force, making the ground shake violently. Even if the enemy survives it, they are hurled to the ground, making them easy prey. Built on a Centurion chassis, the Avenger is modified to help support the seismic cannon, while its armor allows it to survive enemy fire well. To further complement its abilities, it is also armed with a stun blade that can stop enemy 'jacks in their tracks. While everyone is eager to use the Avenger, it's almost exclusively given to seasoned warcasters who won't squander its expensive ammo, and every effort is made to recover any components lost in battle, to prevent reverse-engineering.

Gallant is the favorite warjack of Constance Blaize. It is over 12 feet tall and 6 tons. It's a weapon of faith, built on an Ironclad chassis heavily modified by the Sancteum armorers. It is imprinted with the warrior-philosophies of Morrow and the martial ascendants, and a copy of the catechism called the Prayers for Battle is mounted on its hull, along with passages of the Enkheiridion and other teachings of war. The book is open to pages talking about Morrow's orders to protect each other from evil. Where Gallant walks, the light of Morrow follows, unraveling dark magic easily. It is also an exceptional protector of its mistress, knocking enemy blows aside easily.

Triumph is one of Markus "Siege" Brisbane's warjacks, a Defender that stands over 12 feet tall and almost 7 tons. It has shown a particular skill at targeting weak points in the enemy defense after the battles in Sul, and Siege has come to trust its instinct, allowing it to pick its own targets. His appreciation for Triumph only grew through the Sul-Caspia campaign, and he's had it improved heavily. It is now armed with a heavy assault shield to handle incoming fire as it moves into position, and its sighting system is upgraded, linking its cortex to a scope integrated in its cannon. Siege rarely fights without Triumph now, and he's armed it with mechanikal ammo that can be made explosive. The mix of firepower and shielding allows it to head right into the heart of battle, assailing even the most heavily defended position.

Next time: Giant lightning robot

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Warmachine: Wrath

Captain Jonas Murdoch is a Ranking Officer, a leader of Cygnaran mercenaries. He served 20 years as a trencher, gaining a reputation for unflappability even in the middle of a firestorm, and he became legendary for his inability to die. He even got shot in the head and captured by Khadorans, but escaped from the prison camp he was in, apparently unharmed by the bullet in his skull. After a long career in the trenchers, he was chosen by Lord General Olan Duggan to find veteran mercenaries and turn them into elite irregulars. These teams of former mercs have a variety of skills, trained by Murdoch take on the most dangerous missions, and he makes sure to only employ the best mercs to see them through.

Archduke Alain Runewood, Lord of Fharin is one of the few people Leto Raelthorne considers a true friend. He has given up his own comfort and safety to serve his nation, and his friendship with Leto is decades old, begun when he was a young Cygnaran officer. Under Vinter IV, he saw lives spent too carelessly, and he realized that all lives were precious, no matter whose. When Leto led his coup, Alain was proud to join him. Afterwards, he was given lands of less loyal nobles, particularly Archduke Fergus Laddermore. Another man might've retired, but Runewood would not. He leads from the front, and his men are inspired by his presence and the sight of him using his heirloom sword, Vindicator. He'd do anything to prevent the return of Vinter IV's tyranny, and he can smell the man's schemes amidst the nobles conspiring against Leto. He leads almost 20,000 men, and the sword knights in particular will do anything he asks.

The Storm Strider is an immense battle engine, one of the greatest and strangest works of the stormsmiths. At rest, it is easily mistaken for a fixed weapon platform, but in motion it can never be forgotten. An immense storm envelops it, blinding those who stare too long at its voltaic charge, and the stormsmiths that operate it from its open deck are always surrounded by a corona of lightning. Until it unleashes its thunder cannon, electrical blasts crackle across it constantly. The stormsmiths worked for years to build the electrical generators, stormchambers and other devices used in voltaic weapons, building ever more potent weaponry and stretching the limits of the art. At last, they shattered those limits utterly, creating the lightning cannon - a weapon so potent and needing such a massive storm chamber that it was initially believed impossible to field. The engineers were determined, however, devising a design for a self-propelled platform to transport the weapon: the Storm Strider. All of the energy it generates can be used without any waste. Most of it does get channeled to the cannons, but excess power flickers across its body, charging the air in a way that drastically increases the accuracy of other storm weapons. Its destructive potential is matched only by its defensive power, as a strong magnetic field and powerful kinetic accumulators absorb the force of hostile fire, converting it into even more voltaic energy. It smells constantly of ozone and hurls weapons away from it with ease. And no, the thing isn't unique - they have at least two of 'em.

Thyra, Flame of Sorrow is the greatest of the Daughters of the Flame, a living weapon of Menoth. She cannot stop revisiting the battle that made her what she is, that killed her family and her village. It was senseless, deaths just for living near a Protectorate garrison near the Black River. Cygnar had hired some mercenaries to assist in an attack on the garrison, and the village priest had all able-bodied adults go to fight. The militia enraged the mercenaries, and their counterattack was brutal, driving the militia back to the village, killing anyone in their way. Thyra was among the defenders, and she saw her house destroyed and her children bleed to death in the ruins. Her mind was broken by it. Her powers awoke, which she attributes to the blessing of Menoth for vengeance. She set on the mercenaries, fighting perfectly, leaping from the shadows to take them out again and again. She called on her warcaster power without realizing it, leading the defense of the village and hunting the mercenaries down like rabid dogs. She devoted herself to an unending vengeance, killing heathens for Menoth. Many were drawn to her, fighting without temple sanction under her direction. It might've gone on some time had a priest not approached her and asked her to stop provoking retaliation. Enraged, she attacked him, drawing the attention of the Knights Exemplar, who captured her. She was brought trial and sentenced to death, and she'd have died, if not for Feora. Feora confronted her to test her resolve, and Thyra argued that she was chosen for vengeance and could not stop now. Feora sensed her power, using her authority to get Thyra free so that her vengeance could be channeled.

To Thyra, it was a blessing she hadn't realized she'd wanted. Feora taught her to control her rage rather than succumb to or release it. She was given warjacks and support, learning to obey orders even when they kept her from fighting. She bonded with the Daughters of the Flame over shared grief, taking comfort in them. Her devotion to Feora is fanatical, and she trusts Feora utterly, even to the point of doing missions others might balk at. Some fear crossing Feora because they know Thyra will kill anyone for her. She draws on her raging flame of hate to perform terrible violence in battle, but she knows how stop and hold back from the cliff that tempts her to join her family in Urcaen. She used her power to destroy Cygnarans in Sul and Caspia, and she has earned the right to stand at Feora's right hand, above all others. Her obsession with vengeance is barely constrained, and she must constantly remind herself that loss of control would disappoint Feora. She has a deep, instinctive tie to Urcaen, serving as an avenging avatar of Menoth. Her gimmick is offensive buffing and her feat lets her teleport herself and her allies via the shadow of Urcaen.

The Sanctifier is 12 feet tall and 8 and a half tons. Its presence means the Reclaimants expect a conflict to be bloody, win or lose. They are armed with an immense cudgel in the shape of a Menofix, which they use to crush foes. As the battle goes on, they collect the souls of dead Menites within their blessed cenotaph, manifesting the power of Menoth on the world by forcing the spectral undead and other creatures that hide between worlds into physicality, that they might be crushed beneath Menoth's power.

Blood of Martyrs is 12 feet and over 8 tons. It is Thyra's favorite warjack, and so it is no surprise that it fights with her bitter resolve. It fights harder as more allies die, wading into the middle of battle for vengeance. It originally entered Thyra's service during the Sul battles as a Crusader, unleashing its fury in an orgy of death to save its mistress and her soldiers. She recognized that Menoth had sent it to guard her and mirror her rage, rearming it with the twin blades needed to carry out its destiny. She gave it its name, knowing it would slaughter an infidel for every drop of blood the righteous lost.

Next time: Holy vengeance

Dec 13, 2011
Having bought and read both the Iron Empires novels before I knew they were making a game, this review makes me happy.

As for the worm infection storywise, they initially infected large, hydrozoan (that's a jellyfish) organisms on their homeworld. Said jellyfish beings were sapient. The Vaylen then proceeded to make new bodies via genetic engineering (both the Kerrn and Mukadish are examples, the game and second comic both have other examples). The reason why Vaylen have a huge hard on for conquering humans is that sensory experience through a human body trumps anything they can and will make.

Oct 23, 2013

Incidentally, UA does actually have a godawful genderfluid special snowflake better-than-your-PC character, it's just not the Freak. They don't show up in the corebook, thankfully.

Mar 30, 2012

Tulul posted:

Incidentally, UA does actually have a godawful genderfluid special snowflake better-than-your-PC character, it's just not the Freak. They don't show up in the corebook, thankfully.

Sorrow...? I'm blanking here. The person in the Sleepers?

Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.
I was thinking The Rahab from Postmodern Magick.

Yeah, PoMoMa had some cool stuff (Oneiromancy, Irascomancy, The Cardboard Box), but also a lot of weird, tone-deaf crap too (the literal penis-rape monster, the cabal based off the Justice League, the Kleptomancy minor blast)

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006

The Rahyab I can see, Oneiromancy as a whole is cool but their whole gimmick is about as close to "unkillable super NPCs that are cooler than you" as the line gets. That said, I was actually reading the book again because of the review, and I'm not sure what's wrong with the Kleptomancy minor blast. On a surface read, it just literally steals your breath with a neck spasm and you have to take a few seconds to recover. It seems about as bad as someone kicking you hard enough to knock the wind out of you, which is downright pleasant compared to some blasts. Am I missing something deeper?

Nov 6, 2011

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

Big Mad Drongo posted:

The Rahyab I can see, Oneiromancy as a whole is cool but their whole gimmick is about as close to "unkillable super NPCs that are cooler than you" as the line gets. That said, I was actually reading the book again because of the review, and I'm not sure what's wrong with the Kleptomancy minor blast. On a surface read, it just literally steals your breath with a neck spasm and you have to take a few seconds to recover. It seems about as bad as someone kicking you hard enough to knock the wind out of you, which is downright pleasant compared to some blasts. Am I missing something deeper?

It's a "lose a turn" power (and losing a turn in UA combat pretty much = death), in addition to damage, plus the caster gains part of the opponent's lost Wound Points. And it's at range, unlike a kick. I think it works ok if you just remove the "lose a turn" factor, but it's evident of most of PoMoMa's balance issues.

Oct 13, 2011


Simian_Prime posted:

It's a "lose a turn" power (and losing a turn in UA combat pretty much = death), in addition to damage, plus the caster gains part of the opponent's lost Wound Points. And it's at range, unlike a kick. I think it works ok if you just remove the "lose a turn" factor, but it's evident of most of PoMoMa's balance issues.

To be fair, it's the significant blast that steals part of the target's life, the minor blast is "only" lose-a-turn + damage.

Jan 6, 2012


Burning Empires

Blood under the snow

That's just a napkin doodle Moeller come on

I liked Nessus idea the best, so let's go with that.


Packer's World, a forest planet settled by Twin Peaks fans. (Merchant/lumber-export based.)

Tundra+Muslim theocracy.

A tweak and a run through the World Burner later...

[*]Name: Packer's World
[*]Location: Outworld
[*]Atmosphere: Human Life Supporting
[*]Hydrology: Predominantly Land
[*]Topography: Naturally Broken/Rugged Terrain
[*]Tech Index: Zero Index
[*]Dominant Government: Theocracy
[*]Factions: Yes. Civilian Commune (0/3/3), Cult Churches (0/1/5), Merchant League (2/0/4), Theocratic Institutions (3/1/2)
[*]Predominant Military: Religious Order
[*]Quarantine: Basic Quarantine
[*]Economic Regulations: Moderate

Native Settings: Human Freeman, Human Outcast and Criminal, Mukhadish Underworld, Vaylen Vaylen.
Mukhadish Wild, Human Theocracy, Human Commune, Human Merchant League.

Restricted Goods and Services: Weaponry, Sex Trade, Military Manufacturing, Psychology

Starting Disposition:
Vaylen: Infiltration 23, Usurpation 28, Invasion 27
Human: Infiltration 21, Usurpation 25, Invasion 25

Figures of Note: ???
Vaylen Vaylen is not a typo.

I can see it now: a cold world, continents of hardy forests and tundra. Cold, bleak, stark. Life is gray and full of duty, as the Mundus Humanitas preaches it - but under a thin layer of snow there is a vibrant black market, an underworld of schemers within the church, cults that wish to replace it as the primary power, disaffected intellectuals and workers that want a say in the ruling of their world, and the constant push of the merchant/corporate clade for greater freedoms and the lifting of any restrictions that keep them from filling their purses. And then the worms come. Slight advantage to the Vaylen side, but it could be tipped one way or another fairly easily.

There's an actual reason for having bald characters all over the place in Burning Empires: the surgery used for the "crucis", the cross-shaped implant necessary to wear iron and pilot spaceships, has as side effect the loss of all hair in the head. There are illegal crucis that let you keep the hair but, well, they're illegal. Mostly because crucis is something reserved for the nobility and its closest servants. This also means that wigs are in high fashion among the nobility.

There are six stats in Burning Empires: the mental ones of Will, Perception, and the physical ones of Agility, Speed, Power and Forte. Pretty self explanatory. There are also certain attributes: Circles is the character's social influence and ability to call on people, Resources is the character's economic and financial viability, Steel is the character's nerve and poise, and Mortal Wound determines how much damage the character can take. Skills are, well, skills. Characters also have technology (that is to say, gear) and a select few can use capital-P Psychology.

The interesting ones here are Beliefs and Instincts. A Belief in BE is a fundamental idea important to the character. It combines the outlook of the character as well as the goal of the player. For instance, "Nothing matters to me anymore, so I might work with the enemy if it suits me" is a Belief. They're not vague "the world is doomed" things - they are springboards of action. "The world is doomed unless I step out of the shadows and command the court into action." It's important to think of them in a meta way: in that last Belief, you (as a player) are saying that you want issues of courtly intrigue in the game. A Belief should never be a passive thing - it must get the character into conflict and trouble. Instincts, on the other hand, are things that you want your character to do or not do, even if you don't explicitly say so. "If I'm travelling alone, carry a gun." "Always remain Inconspicuous in public." "Keep the Sergeant nearby.". Finally, Traits are stuff your character either has or doesn't have, like a particular character trait (bald, effeminate, aggressive, elitist and so on) that is there for color, or something that affects play like having the implants to handle power armor and ships, being fearless enough that it counts mechanically, or having noble blood. The latter include Call-On traits (once a session, the trait can grant rerolls for a certain skill's failed dice in a test) and Die traits (which modify an ability or grant new ones to the character)

Soldier boy here doesn't look too happy.

To create a character, we start with a basic concept. Note that we're strongly to create a character at the top of the food chain: not just a soldier, but a general. Not a spy, but a planetary spymaster, and so on. Then we look at the settings available to the planet. A setting is a collection of related lifepaths for a character to follow during chargen. As we create a world for play, we open or close settings for characters, which is why the world has to be created before the characters. Depending on these choices, a setting can be native, non-native or simply be unavailable. Following a lifepath takes a number of years of your character's life; when changing settings to a native one, the character must spend a year, and two if it's to a non-native setting. These settings are grouped into four stocks (races): Human, Vaylen, Kerrn and Mukhtadish. Vaylen settings are always considered to be native.

Poor Faith. Faith is the bald guy there, incidentally.

A lifepath comprises the time it takes to follow, resource points (totalled at the end of this step to purchase many different things), circle points (used to purchase reputations, affiliations and relationships), stat points (added to the character's starting pool) skill points and skills, and trait points and traits. Most characters should start play with 6-7 lifepaths. Eight lifepaths are permissible if they feel right, while anything above that should be scrutinized and have fat cut off until the core concept remains. A character's first lifepath should be a Born lifepath (for instance, Born Freeman), but it is recommended when starting to pick the last lifepath first and then work backwards to see how the character gets to their final form. A lifepath can be taken more than once, but from the third time onwards its benefits are diminished. After this step, the total age of the character is counted, which gives the starting stat pool for the character. Skill points can be regular (used to buy skills from the character's own lifepaths) or general (used to buy skills that the character's lifepaths don't have). The general points are set aside, then skills are bought, or opened. Opening a skill gives it at the exponent its base stat is at, or ([base stat 1 + base stat 2]/2 rounded down) if it's a skill with two different roots. The first skill in a lifepath is mandatory to open, but not to advance; unless the character already has it, then it's the second one, or the third and so on. After all normal skill points are spent, then general skill points can be used to open or advance skills in the character's list or the general list. By default, skills and stats are capped at 6, with a suggestion that stats should not start at less than 3. It's important to think how the character will fit in each phase, so there's a suggested list of skills to have to be useful as the game unfolds and the character enters into conflict with others. Trait points work in a similar manner (buying the lifepath's first trait first, etc.) Buying a trait from the character's list costs one point, while traits bought from the general lists have varying costs - so sometimes you'll want to get a lifepath just for a cheap trait you need. It's much easier to become a Hammer Lord if you are involved with Hammer forces, for instance. There's also a number of traits for each stock that come free. In the case of humans they have a number of cultural traits depending on their origin, one of which must be taken for free.

Back in my day, son, the body snatchers didn't muck around with this 'worm' business.

Resource points are more involved. First, determine what your character has depending on their rank and station. At this point, this is just color: you can say that you have a gun but until you actually buy it with resource points, it does nothing in play. One resource point buys a basic piece of gear or hard technology, while two points purchase an advanced or illegal piece of tech. One point can also be spent in modifying technology with new traits, but we'll see that in the Technology chapter. The more advanced the world is technologically, the more bang you get for your resource point. Some items require certain traits - you need to be Anvil Trained to purchase anvil armor, Iron Trained to purchase iron, and similar. The GM can also assign gear for free to the characters depending on the scenario - if all the characters are military in an Invasion, they can expect to get standard kit from their army. A resource point can also buy property - a fortress, a business, a safehouse. Each point spent in property also gives one trait to the property - security systems, defenses, etc. What resource points aren't spent on stuff become the character's Resource exponent. It is possible to start with a Resources of 0, which will require the character to get a loan in order to advance. The GM does not have to spend resource points right away for their characters, they can do that as the need arises.

The Circles exponent starts at half Will, rounded down. Its scope is determined by the character's lifepaths: anyone that they could have met as they lived through the lifepaths is a potential target for Circles. Three circles points increase the Circles exponent in one. One circles point gives one die of Affiliation (power or direct ties with an organization), and the character may have multiple affiliations. They are rated in dice, from one to three, with one being small or obscure groups up to three for planetary-scale groups. Some traits also grant free affiliations. Circles points can also buy Reputations, which are also rated from one to three dice and bought just like affiliations. 1 die tells the world you're the best shot in the King's Guard. 3 dice tells the world you're Osama Bin Laden. Some traits grant free reputations. Then Relationships: a relationship is a GM-controlled character that the player wants in the game no matter what. All characters start with a free relationship, and they must have two relationships at the start: one with a figure of note in the current world, and one with a friend, relative or ally in the other side of their struggle. These two can be combined into one: a friend that is a figure of note for the other side. Each additional relationship costs two circles points, but this cost can be reduced to one point if the relationship is made complicated: the relationship works for the bad guys, or is an enemy or rival of the character. Only really important people should count as relationships, everyone else is in the Circles. Fellow characters cannot be relationships, and it is assumed that all characters know each other prior to the start of the game. If you want a gang, crew or group of followers, then purchase an affiliation with the group, a reputation as its leader and a relationship with the second in command. A bodyguard or other close retainer costs two circles points even if the relationship is complicated, but they're burned as full player characters with two fewer lifepaths than the character and exponents limited to 4. These subordinates must also pay for a relationship with the original character as well as all of their gear in chargen. Circles points cannot be saved. The GM saves the circles points for later, and they don't have to buy relationships for their figures of note with player characters that have bought them already.

"Mmm, yes, squish my eyes out with your thumbs." Paraphrased from the comics.

Steel starts at 3 and increases or decreases based on a small questionnaire. Has the character taken a soldier-type lifepath? +1 Steel. Has the character killed by their own hand? +1 Steel. Has the character lived a sheltered life, free of violence and pain? -1 Steel. And so on. Hesitation, the base Steel obstacle, is 10-Steel. Mortal Wound is the average of Power and Forte rounded down, plus six. This is then marked on the Physical Tolerances scale, which we'll touch on later. Other derived stats are calculated here: Superficial Wound (from H1 in the scale, half Forte rounded down), Injured (Superficial + half Forte rounded down) and Maimed (Mortal minus two) Then think of a name, and you're done!

Artha comprises three pools of points that characters get by playing up their Beliefs and accomplishing their goals. Again, we'll see what they do later, but a 7 LP character will start with 2 Fate artha and 1 Persona artha. The GM gets general pools for all of their characters depending on the total number of lifepaths the opposition takes for all of their characters.

My lord, your operator gear.

And with that, it's on to settings! We'll start with the human ones first. For humanity, it is the year 597 of the Hanrilke Era. The Hanrilke Empire is long gone, replaced by the fractured, squabbling Iron Empires. Humans get a stock trait, which is uh, Human (stat maximum 6 for physical stats, 8 for mental stats). The eight Iron Empires with attendant cultural traits are the Casiguran Matriarchy, considered suspicious and even a cult by the Mundus Humanitas (Deferential, Matriarchal, Patriarchal, Private); the Comoran Worlds, not a nation as such but a collection of culturally related systems, highly religious but also home to the Cyrean splinter group of the church (Pious, Cyrean Heretic, World Weary); the Darikhan Empire, ruled by the most powerful noble house of the Empires and one with a claim to the Hanrilke throne (Darikhan Loyalist, Agnostic, Turncoat, Baroque); the Dunedin Worlds, zealots on a crusade against the Darikhans for religion and loot (Crusader, Crypto-Missionary, Opportunist); the Gonzagin Empire, rivals to the Darikhans for the throne, but less puissant (Austere, Cniht*); the Karsan League, tolerant of psychology, pursuing freedom of thought and on the frontlines in the galactic south against the Vaylen (Kunmai*, Technical, Formal); the Kudus Theocracy, under the direct control of the church (Devout, Atheist); and the Urfan, poor worlds in the north away from everything, conservative and constantly fighting off pirates and intruders (Inscrutable, Redoutable, Remote)

The human settings are:
  • Nobility: the noble class of the Empires.
  • Stewardship and Court: the imperial bureaucracy and government.
  • Hammer: the noble space navies.
  • Anvil: the ground forces.
  • Theocracy: this represents the rulers of the Kudus Theocracy and their servants, as well as any other theocratic state or institution in the rest of the setting.
  • Merchant League: oligarchs and corporates, and their staff.
  • Commune: a state or organization that believes that the citizens are the ultimate root of legitimacy. These represent people actively interested in maintaining the Commune, regular joes are Freemen.
  • Psychologist Foundations: Psychologists are mistrusted and envied in the empires, so they turn to secret cabals for support. In the Karsan League, they have an open foundation, the Circle of 10,000.
  • Spacefarer: the crews and captains of civilian spacecraft.
  • Freeman: the working class of the empires.
  • Servitude and Serfdom: serfs, slaves and other unfree workers.
  • Outcast and Criminal: the fringes of society.

Cniht are those who identify the Gonzagin old guard of the nobility and the house's claims to the throne. Kunmai are Karsan imperialists with their own claim to the Hanrilke throne.

Totes the good guys.

The Vaylen are a lot more varied in body shape than humans, given that they have enslaved and created many organisms in their expansion from the galactic south. But they're not monolithic: they have clans and castes they belong to. The one thing where all Vaylen stand together is their desperate need for more host bodies: trillions of worms lie dormant, waiting for the surgery that will give them true life. The name 'Vaylen' itself refers technically only to a host infested by the worm; the worm itself is called a Naiven. A Naiven has as traits Alien Control (can break its link to the damage receptors of a host to better endure pain), Encoder (can record all of its memories and most of its mental skills during host possession in the worm itself, and bring them with it when changing bodies), Psycho-Endoparasitic (basically, they can do the whole body snatching deal) and Worm (they're worms, yo). And yes, as explained earlier, the first organisms they possessed were jellyfish that the Naiven could bore into easily, and whatever happened in the past it is certain that the first human/Naiven organism did not happen by chance. Someone, or something must have cut (hulled in BE terms) that first human open.The Vaylen clans are Amedhyen (the unwashed masses), Annelida (who believe to descent from the greatest Vaylen warriors), Aadau (honorable industrialists widely believed to have taken the Vaylen from their dark ages), Meshhen (harkening back to the first Ksatriyen that led the Vaylen to conquest), Vibhuuten (who claim to be the discoverers of humanity) and Yaadasahm (the first to become Vaylen by usurping the Makara race). Each clan has a Born lifepath to start off, and they also decide what settings/castes are available: Amedhyen have to start as Shudren, for instance.

Some Vaylen don't have the time or patience for luxuries like 'having a nose.'

The Vaylen settings (their castes, really) are:
  • Human: the Vaylen want to be human, desperately, but they just don't think like humans do. The Human caste represents what the Vaylen believe human society to be, and how they reenact it. Their lifepaths are very archetypal: the Child, the Ascetic, the Princess, the Philosopher King.
  • Ksatriyen: the warriors. These don't take human bodies, but customized combat bodies. They're strong enough to become the ruling caste by force, but they're just as obsessed with humanity as anyone else.
  • Vaishyen: the administrators of the Vaylen farm worlds, and the geneticists that breed the bodies for the various castes.
  • Shudren: the laborers and workers of the Vaylen. Kerrn and Mukhadish started off as Shudren bodies.
  • Vaylen: this setting works as both the source of Vaylen infiltrators and spies, as well as their outcast and exile setting. An unwanted Vaylen is given a human host, a ship and sent north. Either they succeed, or they vanish - either way, they're away from clan politics.

A Vaylen starts play with a body determined by the caste of the last lifepath they followed. It is necessary to change bodies when changing from caste to caste. These bodies cannot be retained, they're recycled - unless the change is from Human to Vaylen or viceversa, in which case the body is kept. The Vaylen stat pool is determined by the body, rather than the character's age. Note that Naiven usually only live until around 80 years, so no Vaylen can be more than 70 years old in chargen. This has nothing to do with the body's age, of course. The possible bodies are human, child (Vaylen really get a kick out of being kids), Ksatriyen (a customized combat body), Makara (the original jellyfish that the Vaylen first took over, Yaadasahm clan only), Shudren (generic workers, may be replaced by a Mukhadish body) or Vaishyen (insectile, arachnid or cephalopodal, always decidedly inhuman). The non-human bodies can be customized using the Alien Life Form Burner, but that's gonna take a while. Meshhen, Vibhuuten or Yaadasahm clans can purchase extra bodies with resource points, with human bodies the most expensive. Vaylen characters can purchase relationships like everyone else, but they can't get relationships with human or Kerrn assistants unless they have Vaylen setting lifepaths. And trying to game the system by buying a relationship with the intent of hulling them in-game is a no-no. :v: Vaylen can purchase a few million Naiven from their clan or lesser clans with one resource point, and they always start play with one low-index piece of technology no matter the world's tech index.

We also get the rules for hulling here for some reason. There are three ways to hull a person: the optic nerve method (insert worm along the optic nerve, hard to do and slow in recovery but very hard to detect), a field hull (drill hole in base of skull and insert worm, easy to do but also detectable if you know what to look for) and the foramen magnum process (slip the Naiven through the spinal column, hard to perform but easier on the host than a field hull) If a PC gets hulled, well, the player can leave the game (Luke doesn't blame them! :haw:) or they can become the bad guy, replacing Beliefs and Instincts, in which case they get 1 fate and 1 persona artha immediately. If a PC hulled another PC, however, that player is out of the game until the next phase where they can generate a new character, unless they have an assistant or bodyguard to use. A psychologist that gets hulled instantly loses access to its psychology powers, but the actual Psychology skill remains to read people and use in maneuvers. A Naiven that jumps bodies takes on the stats of the new body, but can keep character traits from the old one if it so desires, or discard them. Call-On and Die traits remain with the host. Mental skills are transferred in full, but physical skills count as being opened from scratch with the new body's stats and no advancements. A Naiven is not injured by damage to its host unless the host is vaporized by artillery or something, and they can chew their way out of the skull through their entry point to escape.


The Kerrn were designed by the Vaylen for intelligence and adaptability, starting from a plant-like species and then built up by their geneticists. Unfortunately for the worms, they were too successful: the Kerrn rejected their implanted Naiven within three generations, revolted against their masters and fled to human space. There, they live among humans, as well as in a cluster of crippled ships from the rebellion era they call the Omshiip, whose exact location is a secret. Kerrn characters start with the common traits of Bioengineered Organism (they can take a scene's worth of actions in vacuum before taking injuries), Kerrn Accent (they speak weirdly - 'rarely have I seen such lovely water' becomes 'Vvrarely ‘ahf I zeen zuch luvely vahter'), Massive Stature (they're huge, giving them a Power, Forte and Speed cap of 7 and their Agility and Speed cannot be bigger than their Power and Forte), Not Easy Being Green (they're green, yup) Super Mutated IgE (their antibodies reject all parasites, giving them +3D to Forte rolls against them and a chance to overcome hulling by killing the Naiven with antibodies - note that this roll can take place even if the Kerrn isn't in control of their body) and Unbridled Hatred (they hate all Vaylen and their creatures, particularly the Mukhadish that were created to replace them)

The Kerrn settings are:
  • Vreck: creches where Kerrn are first raised, made from wrecks of ships and derelicts.
  • Oprvraeta: the technical class that keeps the Omshiip running.
  • Solzjah: the soldiers and warriors of the Kerrn. All Kerrn are trained since childhood to fight, but these are dedicated to the cause, or are career soldiers for the human empires.
  • Omshec: security and intelligence, the spies and counter-spies that keep the location of Omshiip hidden from the Vaylen.
  • Omshiip: the Kerrn government, and being the master of Omshiip is a possible lifepath.
  • Piilosihver: philosophers and scholars, because as former slaves the Kerrn believe in education and the search of knowledge.
  • Diazspherah: the Kerrn that live in ghettos in the human polities. Sometimes feted, most of the time discriminated against.

I don't, since that guy probably knows Krav Magah. No, seriously, Krav Magah training is a thing Kerrn can get.

Finally, the Mukhadish. After the Kerrn fiasco, the Vaylen developed a new race that was more pliable and docile, even if they weren't as good as the Kerrn. The result was the Mukhadish, a patchwork of different species. They kind of look like ogres with bat faces. They're dim-witted, hermaphroditic, and accept Naiven implantation easily. They don't make the best leaders because of this, and the game warns that they work best as supporting characters Mukhadish traits are Bred for Slavery (stat caps of Per 5, Will 3, Agi 4, Spd 5, Pow 8, Fort 8), Gigantic Stature (they must have a minimum Power and Forte of 6) Naiven Tube (they have a small tube leading to their brain covered by a flap of skin that lets Naiven simply slide into the Mukhadish), Pug (they have a pug-like face), Rending Claws (can deal damage simultaneously with a successful Overbearing action in close combat) and Tough (rounds up when calculating Mortal Wound).

The Mukhadish settings are:
  • Wild: Wild Mukhadish are fairly rare, usually what happens when great battles are lost and Mukhadish cows end up stranded and without direction, so they raise herds that live free without hulling. They're generally docile and peaceful.
  • Underworld: the criminal element in many worlds raise Mukhadish as pets and thugs.
  • Slave: some cultures breed Mukhadish as slaves.

His breath must be awful.

Also, can anyone give me character ideas? Thanks.

Next: the game itself.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 07:56 on Aug 2, 2015

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
I would have figured the baldness was in general so Vaylen couldn't hide "field hulling" under someone's big fat mane of hair.

Oct 22, 2012

A soldier. Well, with the whole make someone important thing in the rules, let's say THE soldier. An Anvil scout who's survived on the frontlines better than anyone else, and is consequently both tough as hell and a bit of a psychological wreck.

Maybe with a bit of a background in the nobility for a little contrast at the build stage and to let him have some of the nice toys.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

A jaded noble who flirts with the affectations of the Worm out of boredom and rebellion.

A rock star who sings about the Worm.

The kids from Animorphs.

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

A psychologist-inquisitor of the local Theocracy who is coming around to believing that their superiors are being replaced by the Vaylen. Or better, yet, an psychologist infiltrator of the Theocracy, really working for a cabal, who is realizing what's going on but can't blow their cover.

A space hooker or space pimp uncovering the conspiracy, since that would seem like an obvious route for Vaylen infiltration.

Dec 13, 2011
A Kerrn warrior-poet. It must be done.

Field hulling actually can be detected by hand scanners because the bone that is replaced by the worm is less dense. I'm not sure there is much scarring as Luke Crane used The Culture as an additional source of inspiration. You can literally field an effector as a weapon.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Warmachine: Wrath

Scourge of Heresy is a custom warjack built for High Executioner Servath Reznik. It is over 12 feet tall and nearly 10 and a half tons. Its purpose is to purge the world of the corruption of magic, and it hunts the occult with a fury that rivals Rzenik's. Its heartfire blazes fervently as it purges the unclean with the flames of the holy blade Punisher. Its cortex, chassis and weapons were all chosen personally by Reznik, blessed even beyond the normal rites. Sacred passages found on the walls of Icthier were chanted over it as it was activated for the first time, and to stand before it is to be judged.

An Attendant Priest is a Ranking Officer, trusted by the Protectorate to oversee mercenaries. They don't enjoy hiring mercs, but they need to at times. They are often taken from the choirs of Menoth, and are skilled combatants as well as potent spiritual forces. To control their mercenary charges, they must be convincing proselytizers. Many mercenaries balk at the idea of being led by a priest, but their mriacles are hard to dismiss. Under their care, magic cannot touch their subordinates and the land flattens itself for them to cross. They bless the weapons of their charges, and its not unheard of for a group of foul-mouthed mercenaries to convert after a battle serving under them.

Flameguard Cleanser Officers lead the Cleansers in purging blasphemy. They are taken from the ranks of Cleansers that survive, in the belief that they were preserved to guide their subordinates and direct them where they are needed. The purifier is a challenging weapon, but the officers are masters of it, wielding it with finesse and skill. They can release fuel in precision amounts, causing fiery sheets over the ground, and they know when to call on the full fury of their weapons to create a purging wildfire.

Nicia, Tear of Vengeance has killed more enemies than she can count, but she remembers them all. Each is a devotional act she can recite to Menoth, in the hope that by the time she inevitably dies, she will have earned a place in the City of Man. Only a few years ago, she lived in Sul with her husband, a Flameguard named Heltus. Her love for him even outshone her love for Menoth, and she prayed for him to survive when the Cygnarans breached the walls, but he was chosen to join Menoth in Urcaen. She almost killed herself in grief, but stopped, realizing she was unworthy to join him in the afterlife until she proved herself as faithful and righteous as he had been. She joined te Daughters of the Flame, dedicating herself to her training. Her skill surprised, even alarmed her superiors. She quickly became a leader of the Daughters in the fights of the Caspia-Sul War. She heads into combat with deadly grace, perfectly gauging her striking distance at blinding speed. She wields a blade with a mighty sword cannon, and ffew have ever survived witnessing her deadly devotions.

The Vessels of Judgment are mighty battle engines, inscribed with holy words as avatars of Menoth's vengeance. They are reliquaries containing the sacred remains of the MEnite priest-kings of old, who performed countless miracles. Menoth's favor renders these bodies incorruptible and holy, enduring through the ages in the holiest temples. The pilgrims seek them out, and the enemies of the faith have sought to despoil them - and always failed, destroyed in the act. Their use in battle has sparked furious debate in the Sul-Menite priesthood, and while some of the Synod protested, Feora persuaded them to allow the machines to be prepared. Their immense usefulness suggests that Menoth approves of them. The power contained in these reliquaries, after all, is a sign of his blessing. Dragging them to battle requires almost miraculous strength, and they are pulled only by the most faithful zealots, attended by ranking priests. When the priest invokes the relics' power, the pipes of the Vessel emit a deep tone, and the fury of Menoth envelops those who get too close, their magic dissolving utterly. Even death can be prevented for a time, allowing the dying one last strike before they fall. Harnessing this power has a price, though. Each invocating withers the corpse within, and with each miracle, they crumble a little more.

Kommander Harkevich, the Iron Wolf was born Izak Harkevich. He is immensely successful and highly respected despite his uncompromising nature. His drills are bloodless battles and bis battles are bloody drills. He has only the highest expectations of his man and 'jacks, and he hates nothing so much as a Khadoran who doesn't love Khador enough to work as hard as possible. His warcaster talent was recognized early in his time in the Winter Guard under Lord Regent Blaustavya. He was a natural soldier and considering it as a permanent career rather than returning to his form at Khardov. Because of his simple upbringing, he has a close affinity for the citizens and enlisted men he protects and leads than their officers. He believes that his power does not elevate him - it's just more responsibility to them. He feels a primal tie to Khador, and he pities those of other lands. As a Winter Guardsman, he was skilled at organization, able to keep many tasks in mind as he worked. As an officer, he used this abivlity to divide his attention between a half dozen or more warjacks at once, a skill normally taking years to get. Ranking kommandants were eager to use him, and he hones his skills on the border against Ord and Cygnar. His years of service had earned him a reputation even before Llael, where he helped seize Elsinburg alongsider Kommanders Tarovic and Kratikoff. He thinks he is lucky to have served with officers who understand their responsibilities and respect for civilian life, and Elsinburg was barely harmed in the battle. Nothing would please him more than to see Llael become a productive part of Khador, willingly serving, rather than being a battlefield.

While Harkevich has seen the horrors of war, he will not allow them to compromise his honor. He disagreed with senior officers over the brutality in Llael on both the enemy and civilians, and he was stationed at Redwall shortly after the Butcher's assault and massacre. He knew that the Llaelese could be good citizens, but that brutality would not win them over. Even measures he thought necessary, like the burning of Riversmet, troubled him. He eventually came to acknowledge that Riversmet likely saved tens of thousands of lives in Leryn, but he does not like this cold calculus of lives. He despises the doom reavers. He is always mindful of the value of his men's lives and prefers to let his warjacks endure the brunt of risk. They are not present to support the army - the army is there to support them. He is a skilled kommander, using his soldiers to steer the enemy into his 'jack guns and control the battlefield, then mop up the routed foe. He always stays up to date on mechanika and warjack usage, and he's famous for using large numbers of 'jacks at a high pace to arrive in unexpected areas. He's a master of logistics and supply lines, taking full advantage of advance recon and personally surveying the battlefield before a fight. His professionalism has earned him the commandation of Gurvaldt Irusk, and he has been sent to eastern Llael to secure it while the rest of the army heads south to Cygnar. He has the honor of being the bastion of Khador's contested territory against the Menites, and he intends to make them pay dearly for every inch they try for. His gimmick is 'jack buffs and his feat improves his warjacks' armor and ability to power attack.

Next time: Lots of red.

Jan 6, 2012


Enough pouches to make Rob Liefeld blush there.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
I like that Khador finally gets a warcaster that isn't some kind of dour rear end in a top hat unconcerned with collateral damage or civilian casualties.

fool of sound
Oct 10, 2012

Kai Tave posted:

I like that Khador finally gets a warcaster that isn't some kind of dour rear end in a top hat unconcerned with collateral damage or civilian casualties.

What are you talking about? The Butcher loves his job!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Well, Tzepesci's a decent guy.

Warmachine: Wrath

The Demolisher stands almost 11 and a half feet tall and nearly 17 tons. It is proof that Khador does not believe in the idea of excessive force. It is an immense, intimidating machine with armor nearly half a foot thick. It's slow as hell, but when it raches position, the armored arms drop, revealing integral cannons. It makes the 'jack briefly vulnerable, but its sheer power means few survive to return fire. The problem it was made to solve is delivering short range but powerful ordnance. These weapons draw a lot of enemy attention, so they're easy targets. The armor of the Devastator chassis proved useful, though, and via brilliant engineering, the mechaniks found a way to integrate the cannons, leading to breakthroughs in cortex design to maximize their usage. The Greylords even found a way to refine the firing routines so it could stabilize itself and fire during close combat. Its shoulder cannons also carry some of the heaviest ammo of any warjack weapon, and its massive body is like a mobile artillery emplacement to hide behind.

Black Ivan is the personal warjack of Kommander Harkevich, a peerless engine of destruction that moves like a living thing. It is over 11 and a half feet tall and over 9 and a half tons. Ivan has learned to anticipate his will, allowing him to concentrate on his other forces, and his presence calms its belligerance, greatly improving its accuracy. It once wielded an axe, getting it stuck in a Cygnaran Centurion, but Harkevich ordered it rpelaced with an immense grappling claw. The most dramatic changes its undergone, however, are in its cortex, which allows the thing to surpass the expected limits of its form. While other Khadoran 'jacks are slow, it moves with haste, reaching the enemy quickly so it can tear them apart.

Torch stands over 11 and a half feet tall and nearly 10 tons. It is an immense fire-spewing weapon, the producf of a design by Kommander Oleg Strakhov. It is perfectly equipped for trench warfare, tearing apart obstacles with its immense saw and hurdling impassable terrain. As it gets closer, its grenade launchers fire smoke bombs into the air, obscuring it before it delivers fiery death on the enemy's ranks. It is the expression of Strakhov's war doctrine: pitiless destruction.

A Battle Mechanik Officer sometimes leads the battle mechaniks. They aren't just support specialists - they're veterans, performing the dangerous task of field repair. Combat experience is highly valued, and those that specialize in repair of the Man-O-War korps are trained to use the armor, as well. They accompany their men into the heart of battle, carrying out necessary repairs in a very short time. Every one of them knows their tools are as important for victory as the weapons of their men. On top of extensive combat time, each officer must also be a master of the trade. By the time they get a command, they understand well all the tools and mechanika used by the Khadoran Mechaniks Assembly, including warjack command. Their skill at repair and construction must be superlative, and they must be able to maintain the notoriously dangerous Man-O-War armor. Every soldier takes on a great risk each time they wear the armor, and the mechaniks mean none of them are disabled, trapping them within. They pull scalding armor out quickly to do their repairs, turning even hihgly damaged suits back to near total functionality in the chaos of battle. With the help of a mechanik officer and his crew, a unit of Man-O-Wars get all the resilience of the warjacks they support.

Kayazy Eliminators are assassins, chosen by the kayazy when discretion is required. They hold their criminal peers in disdain, working only in pairs rather than gangs and choosing their partners with exceptional care. They are professional killers, spending countless hours training both body and mind for murder. Every step is calculated, with no wasted motions or sound at all. They move with their partners, anticipating each other easily, with a graceful ease. Since the expansion of the border, the kayazy have often found themselves entangled in military affairs, and they often hire eliminators to aid the kommanders they have interest in. Though they spend most of their time in darkened halls and alleys, they're equally skilled on the battlefield, slipping among their foes to reach their targets.

Koldun Kapitan Valachev is a Ranking Officer, known for his grim pragmatism even among the Greylords of the Prikaz Chancellory. He takes only the most secretive missions, and specializes in commanding irregulars like mercs or criminals. His men have no illusions about their chances of survival, but it's better than angering Valachev. While he is an accomplished mage, his true brilliance is in political intrigue and determination to follow any order. This brought him to the attention of the Chancellory early. They have use for ambitious and motivated men, and they inducted him as an operative. Before Llael, he led handpicked mercs in Cygnar and Ord, many of whom were only barely willing and received only nominal pay, cooperating due to extortion from Valachev. Some were taken fro mthe gulags of the Winter Guard for their skills, and survivors were well paid and in most cases had their records wiped. His objectives are so secret that only he and the masters of the Prikaz Chancellory know them. He arrives without explaining his plans, helping achieve victory so that he can one day take his place among the secret powers of Khador.

A Gun Carriage is a battle engine designed to support shock troops. The charging horses' hooves are silenced by the thunder of the guns, which crush the earth and shatter formations at point blank range. Everything is designed to intimidate, with the appearance of an iron fortress being pulled by steel horses. The heavy cannons are loud enough to strike fear even into veteran knights, and the ordnance is immensely destructive, annihilating wide areas and even deforming the ground itself. Khador has used armed carriages for a long time, even during the Orgoth Rebellion - at the time, basically siege guns dragged on sleds. As warjacks rose to prominence, the war wagons fell from favor, but the simplicity still appeals. Because a carriage can carry guns too large even for warjacks, the utility is unquestioned. These huge carriages are drawwn by powerful Khardic and Umbrean draft horses, bred for size and power. The horses are as heavily armored as possible, to ensure that even this most vulnerable part of the carriage can weather enemy fire. The resilience of the carriage is equaled only by its power, with a crew of Winter Guard within working to load and fire the main guns. They have months of training in this, albe to fire the guns with great accuracy even when racing along at speed. One of them serves as a spotter and sharpshooter from atop the carriage, a job saved only for the best marksmen, as they must be able to compensate for their constant jarring.

Next time: Chain scythes.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
Even the horses have pauldrons.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib

We're now finally (finally!) finished with chapter 1, which brings us to the most important part of any the heck do you make a character and actually play the game? Unfortunately Blue Rose's answer to that is "with a stripped down 3E D&D-derived d20 system." But simply leaving the breakdown of Blue Rose's system at that would be doing both you and the game a disservice (even if it's still pretty boring in my opinion) which is why for this chapter I'll be mostly turning things over to gradenko_2000. The following portions of this review are written by him, unless otherwise indicated by the helpful Snoop Dog icon :snoop: like so. And so without further ado:

Chapter 2: Creating Your Hero


As we covered in the Introduction, Blue Rose uses the traditional 6 ability scores from D&D, STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA, except this time you start at 0, or the functional equivalent of a 10 in 3rd Edition D&D, and then you have 6 points to distribute among them, a +3 being the functional equivalent of a 16 and so on.

You can also reduce an ability from 0 to a negative modifier in order to gain a point, although there's a hard limit of -5, and the game warns you that no hero should have an ability lower than -2 at most, if they have a negative modifier at all.

There's also a neat little sidebar that tries to more precisely explain the difference between Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, as that's kind of a long-running bugaboo:



A character with a high Intelligence score tends to be knowledgeable, clever, and prone to using big words. A character with a high Intelligence but a low Wisdom may be smart but absent-minded or easily distracted. A character with a high Intelligence and low Charisma may be knowledgeable but something of a know-it-all or lacking in social skills. Characters with high Intelligence and low Wisdom and Charisma tend to be social misfits. A character with a low Intelligence may be slow, poorly educated, or just not very cerebral.


High Wisdom characters are aware, sensible, and confident in themselves and their abilities. High Wisdom, low Intelligence characters are simple-minded but capable of surprising insights. High Wisdom, low Charisma characters are quietly confident and tend to work behind the scenes. Low Wisdom characters are indecisive, absentminded, impulsive, or just gullible.


Characters with high Charisma are outgoing, forceful, and often attractive. High Charisma, low Intelligence characters either manage to seem to know what they’re talking about, or they attract people who find them endearing and want to help them. Characters with high Charisma and low Wisdom aren’t very good at choosing their friends wisely. Low Charisma characters may be cold, aloof, rude, awkward, or simply plain and nondescript.

Note that their description of Charisma still implies that a little bit of it comes from physical attractiveness.

At the end of this section we also get a note on dynamic changes to ability scores, such as inflicted by disease, poison and arcana. It's the dreaded "Whenever an ability score changes, all attributes associated with the ability change as well. For example, if your Dexterity bonus decreases, your Dexterity-based skills and Reflex saving throws suffer." inherited from 3rd Edition. While skipping the ability score and only dealing with the ability modifier means might simplify this somewhat, having to re-derive all your secondary stats from a change in your STR is going to be a pain in the rear end regardless.


These are the functional equivalent of races, except Romantic Fantasy is humano-centric, so you don't get different humanoid races so much as different ... backgrounds, representing cultural and geographical differences.

To discuss this next part I'm going to have to talk about Known skills and Favored skills, but we don't get to Skills until Chapter 3, so suffice it to say for now that Known skills are skills that the character is trained in and has skill ranks equal to the hero's level, while Favored skills are skills that get a +3 bonus on top of that.

Favored Feats, on the other hand, are feats that your Hero can always take regardless of their class/role.


All Humans are Medium-sized (another d20 mechanic), and move at 30 feet base speed, and they have one additional Known skill and one additional Feat at level 1.

And then you get to select which particular background of Human you are:

Aldins come from the central valleys of Aldis and are a diverse cosmopolitan group that form the majority of the people in the Kingdom.
Favored skills: Diplomacy, Knowledge-Nobility and Language
Favored feats: Fascinate, Jack of All Trades

Forest Folk are humans that live in the Pavin Weald whose connection with the animals there give them a knack for communing with nature
Favored skills: Handle Animal, Notice, Survival
Favored feats: Animism Talent

Islanders come from the southern shores and islands of Aldis. They're darker skinned from a life out in the water, and their skills reflect this.
Favored skills: Knowledge-Geography, Survival, Swim
Favored feats: Evasion, Improvised Tools

Jarzoni are refugees from a very strict theocracy. They've learned to suppress their outward emotions because of the limits placed on them by their former homeland.
Favored skills: Bluff, Knowledge-Religion, Sense Motive
Favored feats: Fascinate, Favored Foe-Heretics or Favored Foe-Shadowspawn

Kerns are hardy mountain survivalists that know the value of cooperation and stealth from living under the yoke an undead Lich King.
Favored skills: Bluff, Sneak, Survival
Favored feats: Diehard, Surprise Attack

Rezeans are passionate warriors who are practically born in the saddle, riding across the plains of Aldis.
Favored skills: Handle Animal, Ride, Survival
Favored feats: Rage, Weapon Focus

Roamers are the expert traders that prefer life on the road and also are usually gifted with second sight.
Favored skills: Bluff, Perform, Sneak
Favored feats: Evasion, Surprise Attack, Visionary Talent

As I was writing up these descriptions, it occurred to me that they still draw upon a lot of fantasy tropes: Kerns are part-dwarves, Rezeans are part-barbarians, Roamers are part-gypsies, on top of backgrounds that are explicitly "these guys come from the forest, these guys come from the sea". At least though the book does a good job of sticking to the "these are all just variations of humans" bit by describing them in terms of differing skin tone, hair color/style, height and build.

:snoop:"Drawing upon fantasy tropes" is a very charitable way of describing the Roamers who, as we've seen, are every romanticized gypsy stereotype there is. Naturally their favored skills and feats make them the equivalent of Rogues/Thieves because of course they do.:snoop:

Night People

They were created by the Sorcerer Kings to serve as laborers and soldiers, but since the Great Rebellion, a number of them have broken free of their bonds and have sought refuge either with the Kerns or with the Aldins. It's a testament to the tolerance of the kingdom that the Night People are accepted in society. Night People are taller and bulkier than humans, with ashen gray skin, sloped foreheads and small beady eyes. Along with tusks, their appearance is quite frightening, although they manage to get along with Aldins for the most part.

As one of the few non-human characters, they do have "racial" adjustments and special abilities:

* They have ability score adjustments of +1 Strength, -1 Intelligence, -1 Charisma, as a reflection of how they were bred for physical labor and not independent life
* Double encumbrance/carrying capacity
* Darkvision, they can see up to 60 feet in total darkness
* Light Sensitivity, they become Dazed for one round whenever they're first exposed to light as bright as full daylight
* Favored skills: Intimidate, Survival
* Favored feats: Cleave, Great Cleave, Rage

:snoop:Like I said earlier, these guys are orcs, right down to getting bonuses to Strength and penalties to Intelligence and Charisma so, y'know, have fun with that. Also enjoy that light sensitivity drawback.:snoop:


These are animals that have been gifted with intelligence and magical ability. They're still more comfortable in nature than civilization, and some regard humans with caution, but others interact with and even adventure with humans on a regular basis.

This is a very unique take on a playable character, and they have a lot of adjustments to reflect it:

* They only have 4 points to distribute across their ability scores, rather than the standard 6
* They can see twice as far in low-light conditions
* All Rhydan have the Psychic Talent feat, and they can use the Mind Touch, Psychic Shield and Second Sight arcanas even without training for it
* They suffer a -20 to any check requiring manual dexterity or opposable thumbs, since they do not have any. The game also suggests outright preventing them from attempting these tasks.
* They cannot speak, and instead have to rely on whatever vocalizations are available to their physical animal forms, or communicate psychically. Like their lack of thumbs, this can limit how they can interact with the world.
* They cannot use weapons without resorting to magically manipulating them.
* They are not trained in the use of armor, and if they do learn (via feats), armor for them is much more expensive since it has to be custom-made.
* They do not start with any Wealth, and they cannot easily carry sums of money nor make use of most humanoid-tailored items anyway. They can still earn Wealth just like any other hero though, if they adventure and interact with human society.
* Favored skills: Notice, Survival


They're dolphins, except intelligent, and they have a long history of befriending and bonding with Sea-folk and Islander humans. Those societies consider killing a dolphin to be as serious a crime as killing one of their own.

On top of the other features of a Rhydan:

* They have ability score adjustments of +3 Dexterity, +1 Constitution
* They have a swim speed of 80 feet. They have no land speed, and at best they can move 5 feet at a time on land by flopping and crawling around (as a full-action, no less)
* They have a +8 bonus to Swim checks, a +4 bonus to Swim checks, and can always Take 10 on Swim checks even under rushed or threatening circumstances
* They attack with a head-butt: +2 non-lethal damage, plus their Strength
* They have the Blindsight feat to simulate echolocation
* They can hold their breath for [60 + (6 * level)] before drowning
* Favored skills: Perform-Dance, Swim
* Favored feats: Favored Foe-Sharks, Stunning Attack

These would seem to be very difficult characters to play unless part of a dedicated water-only campaign or session.

:snoop:This is the first thing I thought of when I read that rhy-dolphins were a playable character option as well. Fortunately Blue Rose DOES provide for that option given that sea-folk are also a playable race, so your options may still be limited but they do exist to allow you to run an all- or mostly-aquatic game of Blue Rose: DSV. Unfortunately Aldis' technological base doesn't allow for the Blue Planet solution to mixed human/cetacean parties which is to give the dolphins and orcas remote teleoperation drones so they can follow the more landlocked members of the party around with their own personal flying robot buddy.:snoop:


They're described as being leopard-sized cats, but with the coloring and temperament of Siamese cats. They're the most common type of Rhydan and get along quite well with humans, although wild Rhy-cats can be dangerous. As Kai Tave has mentioned, Rhy-Cats can bond with their human companions using the Rhy-bonded feat.

:snoop:Just to clarify, all rhydan can form a rhy-bond with a chosen humanoid, not just the cats. Presumably even the whales. Sadly we don't get playable psychic whales in this book.:snoop:

* They have ability score adjustments of +1 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +1 Constitution
* They have a base speed of 40 feet
* They have a +8 bonus on Climb and Jump checks, a +4 bonus on Sneak checks, and can always Take 10 on Climb checks
* They attack with either their claws for +0 lethal damage plus Strength, or their bite for +2 lethal damage plus Strength
* If they hit with a bite, they get a free grapple attempt. If the grapple attempt succeeds they can attack with their rear claws for +2 damage plus Strength as a free action
* They have the Scent ability, which lets them use Notice checks to detect enemies through smell, or use Survival checks to track enemies.
* Favored skills: Climb, Sneak
* Favored feats: Crippling Strike, Improved Balance, Improved Climb, Rage, Surprise Attack

It should be becoming clear by now that while Rhydan only get 4 points to allocate to their abilities, their ability score adjustments give them a higher total adjustment regardless.

Also, I've mentioned attacks twice now but Blue Rose uses a different enough system that me saying "+2 lethal damage plus Strength" might seem confusing, so I'll go ahead and touch on how attacks and damage done so you have some context

Attackers roll a 1d20 + Base Attack Bonus + STR or DEX + other modifiers
-Defenders have a Defense score of 10 + armor bonus + DEX + Base Defense Bonus + other modifiers
-If the attacker's final roll is equal to or greater than the defender's Defense, the attacker hits

Once the attacker hits, the defender needs to make a Toughness saving throw or become wounded
-A Toughness saving throw is a roll of 1d20 + Base Toughness Bonus
-The difficulty for the saving throw is 15 + the attack's damage bonus

So when I say the Rhy-Cat's bite deals +2 lethal damage plus Strength, that means the DC for a Toughness saving throw against a successful bite hit is 18. 15 base, plus 2 lethal damage, plus 1 Strength (assuming just the Rhy-Cat's natural Strength adjustment)

Something like a short sword deals +2 lethal damage, so a +1 Strength human wielding a short sword deals damage comparable to a +1 Strength Rhy-Cat's bite. We'll dig deeper into how this works when we get to the Combat chapter


They look much like normal horses, and their coloration runs the gamut, but these intelligent ones tend to have blue eyes and pale, dappled hides.

Rhy-horses are fiercely independent, and will only allow bonded companions to ride them, or perhaps non-bonded but trusted companions as a large favor. Otherwise, they consider being turned into mounts or pack animals as forms of slavery, and most of the human societies agree with this. The plains-dwelling Razeans in particular hold Rhy-Horses in very high regard.

* They have ability score adjustments of +2 Strength, +1 Dexterity, +2 Constitution
* They are considered Large sized, which carries with it a -1 penalty to attack rolls and Defense scores and a -4 penalty to Sneak checks
* They have a base speed of 40 feet
* They have a +4 bonus to Notice checks
* They have Endurance feat
* They attack with their hooves for +1 lethal damage plus Strength
* Like the Rhy-Cats, they have the Scent ability
* Favored feats: Diehard, Finishing Blow


The last and most reclusive of the Rhydan, Rhy-Wolves mostly live in the forests of the Pavin Weald, where gather together in close groups. Bonding is a much bigger deal for the Rhy-Wolves, but they are lifelong friends when they do, and some fortunate Forest Folk do get to live with them in their communities. They're described as having proud and honorable personalities.

* They have ability score adjustments of +1 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution
* They have a base speed of 50 feet(!)
* They have the Scent ability, and they have a +4 bonus to Survival checks when tracking with it
* They have the Track feat
* They attack with a bite for +2 lethal damage plus Strength
* If they hit with a bite, they can immediately attempt to Trip the target as a Free action, and the target cannot Trip them back
* They can Howl using a Move action, and that gives them a +4 bonus to Intimidate checks for 1 round

(in case it's not clear, these are not Rhydan anymore)

These are sleek-bodied, androgynous humanoids that live in the sea (but are perfectly capable of being on land). They can interbreed with humans, and some communities have close ties to Islanders as a result. They're described as having greenish or bluish skin.

Their characteristics are similar to humans, except for:

* Their base speed of 30 feet is doubled while swimming
* They have a +8 bonus on Swim checks and can always Take 10
* They have the Wild Empathy feat, but it only applies to aquatic creatures
* They can see twice as far in low-light conditions, including while underwater
* They can hold their breath for [60 + (6 * Constitution)] before drowning
* They need to immerse themselves in water once a day, or drink twice as much water as a human would, or else suffer from dehydration

Seafolk would seem to be much more viable player-character choices than Rhydan Dolphins, although correspondingly you don't get the kickin' rad echolocation and high DEX

Play a Sea-Folk if you want: that wet hair look.


They are the arcane-touched children of a pure-blood Vatazin and one other human parent that avoided the Vatazin genocide by hiding with the latter. Of the Vata, there are two groups: the Vata'an who are the white haired "true Vata", and the Vata'sha, or the dark-skinned "dark Vata" that were the products of the Sorcerer Kings' experiments on the Vata.

The latter find it difficult to assimilate in human culture, especially in Jarzoni and Kern societies, since their night black skin and known past makes people believe they are agents of the Shadow. The text makes it very clear that they is no innate corruption or evil within them.

They are humanoids, so again similar characteristics to humans, except for:

* They receive one arcane talent feat for free
* They can use the Psychic Shield and Second Sight arcana, untrained
* They have a +2 bonus to all checks related to recovering from damage
* Their Favored skills and feats come from any one human culture that the Vata came from
* Vata'an have low-light vision
* Vata'sha have darkvision and light sensitivity (similar to the Night People)

Next Time: A class by any other name.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Warmachine: Wrath

Lord Exhumator Scaverous denies those he kills the release of a quick death. While his battle skill is great, it is his mastery of necromancy that is truly terrifying, for he uses the souls of the dead as mboth ammunition and fuel. He has served Cryx for centuries. In life, he was a historian and dark wizard, but it was nothing compared to what he became in undeath, serving in the Archive of Skell and as an intelligence agent. He mastered the arts needed to interrogate the dead and force their shades to manifest. He has the chance now to learn every secret, every lost piece of lore, and he will do anything for that knowledge. His master, Lich Lord Malathrax, approves of his work, especially as these secrets can gain advantage for Cryx, and it is because of all these gains that he was made an iron lich. Scaverous' experiments have consumed uncountable souls and coprses, and no spirit can deny him information now. With a few careful runes and a bit of energy, he can compel any to give up their memories. He was at the forefront of developing forensic necromancy, which has since been taught to the most promising necromancers of Malathrax to learn secrets. None can approach his mastery. When the Orgoth immolated themselves, Scaverous was sent to assist in the ransacking of Drer Drakkerung, interrogating the Orgoth for the secrets of their soul cages. Likewise, he was the one to find the secret of the Cygnaran arc node. As the greatest forensic necromancer, Scaverous spends a lot of time on the mainland, retrieving corpses and relics. He enjoys these trips, as he hungers for lore constantly. He's been accused of having a tendency to be distracted by information, but many times this habit has let him find useful mysteries.

Scaverous has many secrets he has shared not even with Malathrax, savoring the chance to be the only one to know things. He longs not only to learn as much as he can, but to hoard it for himself, as nothing gives him more satisfaction than knowing what others do not. The moment he is exposed to something unknown to him, he is driven to explore it. His thirst is insaitable, and he keeps skulls with him at all times, held within his ribcage, to store information. He often talks to them, hearing voices no one else can. Few can truly understand him, even in Cryx, as his preference for speaking to the ancient dead is seen rear end somewhat uncouth. In his estimation, however, all other choices of conversation partner pale in comparison. He longs for access to the skulls of the lich lords, each of whom knows much occult lore, but he is careful to hide these desires, lest they be mistaken for ambition. He has no qualms about destruction in the pursuit of his goal - the living are boring, impossible to process while alive. It is better to kill them and extract their secrets from their souls. He also cheerfully leads battlegroups to seize ancient corpses held by the living nations, gathering new skulls and tombs for Cryx. He has access to extremely potent death magic, able to weaken the bounds between Caen and Urcaen, causing a suge of necromantic power that saps other magic. He is also skilled at harvested fresh souls to reanimate corpses as warriors quickly. His gimmick is undeath-based buffs and attacks, and his feat boosts magical attacks and makes spells cheaper to cast for him and more expensive for his foes.

The Scavenger is just under 6 and a half feet tall and one and a half tons. It is a flying bonejack, imbued with a hunger for flesh and steel. They hunt for living victims, shredding their flesh and then taking to the air once more. They especially love attacking the wounded and dying. They aren't particularly heavily armed, but when they can just fly over the field to pick their targets, they don't really need to be.

The Desecrator is almost 10 and a half feet tall and almost 7 and a half tons. It is an unnatural, terrible machine that draws on the darkness of the Void. It fires the Plague Bringer cannons, an alchemical weapon of terrible power, and wields a whirling vivisector. It rises from the waters, using its alien form to terrify soldiers while it fires flesh-eating chemicals. Its victims have been known to kill themselves rather than suffer its wasting acids, and those that survive tend to be chopped to bits by the vivisector.

Erebus is nearly 12 feet tall and 6 and a half tons. It has a terrible bloodlust, even by Cryxian standards, and it knows only the desire to serve Scaverous. It moves across the field like a predator, killing all in its path and gathering their souls for its master's magic. Its cortex hums with savagery, and its black claws twitch even when it is idle. Scaverous built it himself, using all of his necromantic skill to shape the chassis and the soul extractors buried within. It bears the spiritual detritus of thousands, a spectral aura that envlops it and lashes out at those that strike it. No weapon can stop it from advancing.

Malice is nearly 12 feet tall and almost 6 and a half tons. It is the product of centuries of experimentation, hosting a legion of vengeful ghosts of those it has slain. These trapped souls swarma across it, through its plates and mechanisms, shrieking constantly. Its cortex is full of their dark whispers, driving it to ever greater killing. It exists only to devour souls. Direct contact offers these spirits their only escape - they can pour out in a spiritual contagion, overwhelming and possessing the cortexes of the warjacks Malice touches. They temporarily seize control of these 'jacks, turning them on their allies before they finally escape into Urcaen.

The Revenant Crew Riflemen are more modern sailors of the Atramentous, bearing the guns they died with or seized from their victims. Their curse keeps these wepaons from destruction. These riflemen are often found high in the rigging, shooting down foes from above, but they are no less skilled in boarding actions or shore raids. They join other groups of revenants, picking off enemy officers and scouts to keep them from reporting in. The support of just a few riflemen turns the undead pirates into nightmare foes, extending the range of the revenants well beyond that of their normal victims. When the time comes for a final assault, the riflemen join the revenant crews, cackling as they fire their ghostly shots into melee. Their luckier victims die instantly, while the wounded may be dragged back to their ships, to join or perish.

Next time: The roundest lich

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Yes, I know I am ridiculously behind on the Torg review again.

But for those who weren't following last month's chat thread: Ulisses Spiele (the current license holders) have officially announced a new edition of Torg for 2016. It'll be called "Torg Eternity", will have a streamlined system, and very few new facts are forthcoming.

That being said, there was a post-GenCon update today on the G+ group:


The cosms will be updated to account for new geopolitical realities. Nippon Tech will be getting a new name. The Living Land IMO is freaking awesome. Baruk Kaah is badass...he's not going to be the Jar Jar of Torg anymore.
I'm really, really hoping this isn't going to break my heart.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
That's great! As far as I know, US is a respectable company, but given that they are a German company with the bulk of their focus in minis wargaming, I wondered if they'd ever get around to fully developing Torg.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Ulisses Spiele is making a pretty spirited push into the States. They've got Shave Hensley leading up their US branch, they're doing Torg, and they're releasing an English translation of The Dark Eye, which is like the top German fantasy RPG, I guess? Just looking at the free preview for that, it's pretty clear they put a lot of effort into art and production values.

I gotta say, the two pieces of art they released are light-years better than the old stuff.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
Okay, that Nile Empire art owns.

Evil Mastermind posted:

They've got Shave Hensley leading up their US branch,
I'm not familiar with him. What's his finishing move?

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
My guess is that Torg: Eternity will wind up more playable than the original version because making a new Torg that's less playable than the original would take far more effort.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
At some point, I might do a relatively concise overview of the Masterbook system on the way to a review of Tales from the Crypt. I just want people to understand how baroque and frustrating it is to deal with a universalized Torg ruleset when you're trying to model something relatively simple, like a maniacal knife-wielding clown.

Although, as Maniacal Knife-Wielding Clown RPGs go, it still has better rules than Don't Look Back: Terror is Never Far Behind.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Halloween Jack posted:

Okay, that Nile Empire art owns.

I'm not familiar with him. What's his finishing move?

It's amazing; no matter what I can never get Shane Hensley's name right the first time.


Jan 7, 2015

Evil Mastermind posted:

Ulisses Spiele is making a pretty spirited push into the States. They've got Shave Hensley leading up their US branch, they're doing Torg, and they're releasing an English translation of The Dark Eye, which is like the top German fantasy RPG, I guess? Just looking at the free preview for that, it's pretty clear they put a lot of effort into art and production values.

This seems to be part of the new 5th edition that's coming out in autumn (I think). I haven't followed that one, but I'm pretty sure it won't be as crunchy as the 4th one.

Speaking of, I might tackle that one, with heavy focus on the setting and the core rules that I know can't have changed that much for the new edition. Unfortunately, my 4th edition collection is in another state, so I might have to rely on a single core book PDF, a German wiki site and my own hazy memory. At least until october, when I'll visit my family for a week.

Other Dust

Gritty Vault Boy reboot over here has a pretty small torso. Must be a mutation or something.

Other Dust is the first big standalone supplement/spinoff from Stars Wtihout Numbers, Kevin Crawford's sci-fi sandbox OSR game. It deals with those less fortunate worlds that have to deal with mutations, radiation and other kinds of post-apocalyptic fun.
More specifically, the official setting for Other Dust is good old Earth, set around right in the middle of the 500 year period know as The Silence, the time frame between the fall of the Golden Age and the return of interstellar trade and travel.

The World is in Ashes

Golden Age Earth - referred to as Old Terra in the book - was a pretty sweel place if the legends are to be believed. A post-scarcity society kept running by a group of advanced AIs known as the Maestros, where any criminals and other troublemakers were simply outcast into the far regions of colonized space.

Then The Scream happened, turning all those psychics integral to mankind's greatest technological marvels into lunatics who went all Event Horizon on humanity.
200 years later, New Earth is a wasteland, still ravaged by the actions of the crazed psychics (some of which are still alive, with equally crazy cults under their command). Will the heirs of Old Terra manage to restore the planet (or at least get the hell away), or will they turn to dust like their ancestors did long ago?

Character Creation

Other Dust follows the same OSR CharGen system with an added skill system, where every class has a single ability and is further customized through skill packages.
Instead of the 3 classes from SWN, Other Dust has its own set of 4 classes for all your post-apocalyptic needs. Their class abilities are more powerful, but can only be used once per day.

(And for some reason, all these classes start with an "s". And everyone has d6 for hit dice)

The general background skill packages include genre-appropriate stuff like Scavenger, Adventuring Wastelander and of course Podborn for all your Fallout needs.

Scrounger (Prime Attributes: INT or DEX)

The Expert/Skill Monkey among the classes, with some combat skills as class skills for good measure. Their class ability is Flawless Skill, allowing them to automatically succeed at one skill check per day unless they roll a natural 2. Success has to actually be possible in the first place, so no inventing reality-altering devices out of sticks and stones.

Training skill packages include Crafter, Mentor and Scientist.

Slayer (Prime Attributes: STR or DEX)

Fallout: Buffy

The warrior class, keeping order in their own violent way. They have the best Attack Bonus progresssion, every Combat skill as a Class Skill, and their class ability Red Hand allows them to score one auto-hit per day (unless they roll a natural 1), provided the attack was meant to kill someone.

Skill packages inlcude Barbarian, Gunslinger and Noble Warrior.

Speaker (Prime Attributes: WIS or CHA)

It's not easy being popular

The face of the party. They're pretty big into social skills, and their ability Speaker's Voice allows them to instantly persuade a NPC per day, either intimidating him or making him friendly (provided this could've been possible in the first place). This is not mind control or anything, so the NPC can't be convinced to do something he doesn't want to unless further persuaded.

Survivor (Prime Attributes: INT or CON)

The tank and survival expert, their ability Hard to Kill triggers automatically once per day when their HP drops to 0, instantly recovering 1 HP per level. This recovery can be delayed up to 10 minutes, allowing the survivor to play dead in the meantime. This ability won't help you survive something a human couldn't possibly survive, like sitting on a nuke that's about to blow up.

They have d6 hit dice like every other class, but they also gain an additional +2 HP per level till level 10, and +3 HP per level after that (where everyone else gains +2/level).

Starting Equipment

Unlike Fallout, the world of Other Dust has no generally accepted form of currency. Everything has to be scavenged, bartered or stolen.
Therefore, PCs don't start with cash to buy things, but rather with a knife, one item from the starting weapon and armor list, and up to 6 randomly rolled items from the starting gear table (2 random rolls can be traded for 1 free pick).

Starting weapons range from a Primitive Bow to a Salvaged Laser Pistol. Armor ranges from Old Terran Clothing (Fallout jumpsuit) to Scrap Mail Armor.

Starting Mutations

The big new step in character creation. I'll cover these in the next post. for now, each PC gets 3 points. One point can be spend to roll up a random mutation or increase one of your Attribute Bonuses (not the score itself) by +1, signifying the superior genes medical advances have given your ancestors way back in the Golden Age. No single Attribute Bonus can be raised more than once with this, and putting all your points into Attributes makes you a "null-strain human", whose genetic code is so sturdy that you will never suffer from mutations ever.

Next Time: Mutations! Probably not as silly as Gamma World, but who knows.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 21:31 on Aug 3, 2015

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