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Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!

theironjef posted:

A.C.E. Agents is basically GI JOE - Meta Commentary - MAD Magazine Edition: Still Playable Though - The Reckoning. It's got some fun ideas and some decent worldbuilding.

One thing you overlooked though is that the early GI Joe comics could get really dark at times and almost kind of at odds with the cartoon.


Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Cooked Auto posted:

One thing you overlooked though is that the early GI Joe comics could get really dark at times and almost kind of at odds with the cartoon.

We just had no idea about that. Full disclosure my entire knowledge of GI Joe is that I saw the cartoon as a kid and I remember owning a hang-glider guy and something called The Rolling Thunder.

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?
Man, Burning Empires sounds like the developer(s) really just wanted to make a board game(or turn-based strategy videogame). And it sounds like they could've made a goddamn sweet board game, too. Shame it doesn't sound like a very engaging RPG, though.

gradenko_2000 posted:

And I think the legit RPG you're thinking about it is the Realms of Arkania series.

Most of my knowledge of, and impression of, The Dark Eye is from a Shadows Over Riva LP.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Most people of that era mainly know the cartoon, but the comic was astonishingly good for a comic based off a toy line. In fact, most of the original concepts - the little file cards on the back of the toy box - were penned by the comic writer, Larry Hama. Hama was a Vietnam vet, and even based some of the characters off of people he had known in the war. It still had ninjas every which way, a shapeshifting Aussie biker, and an evil dentist obsessed with mind control, but it was a series where they shot real bullets and Cobra troopers died in droves. Though named characters didn't often die, the book was fairly brutal when it happened. I'm reminded of an early issue where a character leaps in front of a missile to save a carload of civilians, dying instantly.

The Cobra agents have a good laugh and then fire their second missile.

On that cheery note, time for the best ACE Agent with the worst name, Waterboard! He's a surfing and coastal warfare expert, and is ready to thwart all PYTHON schemes, but really prefers that they be schemes on the beach or at least involve a wave pool. A lot of people, particularly enemy agents, react really badly to his name, which he doesn't understand. Guy just wants to save the world and surf, and not necessarily in that order.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Hordes: Domination

A Celestial Fulcrum is a battle engine of great power, developed by the Circle to illustrate the workings of the firmanent and mimic the celestial movements sympathetically, evoking natural power in an amazing way. The blackclads have charted Caen's three moons for millenia. The largest, Calder, is easily seen with its blue-white glow, but the middle moon, Laris, is black and brown, vanishing for long periods. The smallest, Artis, glow white and green, turning lily white as it waxes. The druids know each moon has great power over Caen, in the tides and storms and ley lines. The fulcrums contain empowered orbs that model the orbits of the moons. Spring orbits summon lightning storms that attack their foes, while a summer orbit sends blasts of flame and a winter one calls a killing, icy wind. The blackclads first learned these secrets via the orreries and armillary spheres they made of stone, but as they learned more, they made even more potent devices, harnessing seasonal energies until the creation of the first celestial fulcrum. These track the seasons so precisely that they generate manifestations of the elements. Senior druids study the orbits these machines represent to gain insight into the longterm motion of Orboros, and more and more, they areu sed as weapons of great power, proof of the Circle's will dominating the strength of Orboros.

Master Ascetic Naaresh scorns other philosophers. He has transcended anatomical study and finds even the hoksune code too shallow. His suffering is not for masochism, either - it is the vehicle of enlightenment. His unique grasp of mortitheurgy is informed by pain itself, which gives him power. With every drop of blood, he grows stronger, until he reaches perfection, shorn of mortal weakness. He has lived nearly 200 years, old even for a skorne, but he continually tests his body's limits both against enemy blades and self-induced privations. Age has shown no sign of weakning him. Once a followerr of the School of Morkaash, the first paingiver, he has gone on to forge his own path. Many have sought to study under him, but none have passed even the first hour of his trials, dying beneath his blades. He has spent decades meditating in the Blasted Desert east of the Abyss before determining he'd learned all he could in isolation. He headed west, hearing of war, and took neither food nor water across the Bloodstone Desert. His flesh is torn and roughened by the wind and sand, and when he appeared to the Army of the Western Reaches to join them, he explained nothing. He just started to fight alongside them, knowing that his destiny needed him to find new enemies and thoughts in order to cleanse his art of what flaws remained. Naaresh is outside skorne society, a peerless warrior and founder of his own school of philosophy. He is respected, but none are comfortable with him. He moves freely, taking what troops and supplies he likes with no respect for protocol. He is on the verge of enlightenment, dreaming of perfect tranquility in pain, a state which will render him invincible, immune to death itself. To this end, he will do anything and embrace any agony. His gimmick is pain and healing, and his feat lets him damage his warbeasts to heal himself and buff them.

Lord Arbiter Hexeris is Epic Hexeris. He is the pinnacle of skorne magic, past or present. Under his gaze, the minds of others are laid bare. By cunning, power and genius, he has furthered his schemes and the Skorne Empire at once, making himself utterly indispensable to the supreme archdomina, who values him not only for his skills, but his knowledge of the secrets and weaknesses of all other occultists in the army. He manipulates them into effective, if uneasy alliances by threats and promises. His knowledge goes well beyond skorne lore, and he will seek any arcane secret. To oppose him is to be sapped of power, as he steals and transforms the energies of his foes. He has the most intriguing of them vivisected after battle to study their souls. He has left no avenue unexplored in his research, and his exposure to foreign necromancy, sorcery and druidic magic has given him insights that no other mortal in Immoren has understood. He has carved a place for himself, earning the unprecedented title of Lord Arbiter from Makeda after she secured the Abyssal Fortress. He suspects she promoted him to feign honoring him while also keeping him occupied overseeing the occultists. He has not complained - he now has the chance to exploit the mortitheurges and extollers better. His gimmick is blasting and healinbg by hurting others. His feat lets him steal souls, fury and focus from those around him.

The Cyclops Raider is an eight-foot brute, covered in armor and trained to wield heavy reivers. Those that survive their needle onslaught are crushed by the spiked gauntlets of the raiders. While they are trained in ranged combat and discipline, they are still cyclopes, taking a terrible delight in cruelty with their bare hands. Most are raised as captives, conditioned from infancy to be less casually violent. Their training in projectiles is augmented by surgery to enhance their natural prescience, giving them an uncanny ability to judge movement and distance in order to compensate for their lack of binocular vision. Their awareness of the future is so great, in fact, that they can spot even the best-hidden targets and annihilate them. Their animus grants attacks longer range.

Venator Slingers are dreaded even by the Praetorians. Their whirring slings hurl globes of lethal acid, able to kill even the most heavily armored target. These weapons allow the lowest warriors to reduce the greatest to corpses with just a few shots. The simple sling is a weapon of the oldest traditions, serving as the main hunting tool of the skorne nomads. Though the origin is ancient, they are still deadly today, providing supporting firepower to the front line. They've been made even more deadly by the skorne chymists, who create plenty of caustic ammo.

The Archidon is native to the Stormlands, an immense reptile that flies through the cover of raging storms to ambush its prey. At the command of the skorne, they swoop down on victims with immense speed, screaming and tearing into flesh with razor teeth. Before their prey can recover, they wheel around for a second strike. They roost in the mountains of the Bloodstone Desert, a threat to any who would cross it. Their flight makes them peerless ambush predators in the Stormlands, preferring smaller prey but able to work together to take down large targets. A group is known as a siege, using their deafening shrieks to attack prey in unison, even taking down titans. They descend on their quarry quickly, ripping them to bits with their teeth before fleeing out of range of retaliation. They can maim even the largest titans in minutes, then wait for them to bleed out. They do not discriminate in their prey, though, and will happily eat skorne or others in the wastes. Once they have their quarry, they hurl them into the air, crashing them onto jagged stones. The skorne resupply units cross the desert regularly, so they have plenty of prey, but it also means the paingivers have more chances to capture them. Since first discovering the archidons, the skorne have come to appreciate their speed and power, capturing them in numbers to train for the western battles. Their relative availability in western Immoren adds to the appeal, and while the mnethods of breaking and training them are still being refined, capturing them requires less investment than getting fresh titan stock. Their animus grants immense speed.

The titan Tiberion has been serving Tyrant Xerxis for over a decade, earning a regard nearly unheard of from the Cataphracts and Praetorians, some of whom carve his face into their shields. From his early training, he had a reputation for being ornery and resistant to commands, too intractable to serve. He would have bene killed, but Xerxis saw something in the beast's mind and chose to break him personally. He sensed a rare fighting spirit, and in time, Tiberion displayed discipline and intellect rare for a titan. He needed no goading or drugs to be battle-ready, and soon fought beside Xerxis like a devoted soldier. Xerxis came to rely on the titan to hold flanks or charge into dangerous fights. After dozens of battles, Xerxis gave him his name, after a great stone that had long endured the ocean surf near the city of Verskone. When a position must be held at any cost, Tiberion is ready. Entire formations crash against him, only to be broken and hurled aside. Tiberion obeys Xerxis without hesitation, almost emulating his stances and techniques. His roar terrifies the foes that must fight him and inspires the skorne that march with him. His animus allows him to shove enemies around.

Next time: A Legion warlock that isn't Thagrosh or a woman

May 25, 2012

PurpleXVI posted:

Man, Burning Empires sounds like the developer(s) really just wanted to make a board game(or turn-based strategy videogame). And it sounds like they could've made a goddamn sweet board game, too. Shame it doesn't sound like a very engaging RPG, though.

The thing I remember from reading the book is the players have these strict rules they have to follow (like making color things 'hard') and the GM doesn't. Which would be fine if the GM wasn't supposed to be playing the other side.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
Luke Crane really, really loves games where the theme is "noble but doomed struggle."

Jan 6, 2012


The GM gets some perks to reduce on the die rolling for their characters but these are about as restricted as PCs are. Note how, for instance, they can get Resources stuff without rolls but they burn up their exponent instead of rolling for things, which reduces their purchasing power on the long run. BE is nowhere near as unfair as Burning Sands: Jihad, the supplement he wrote for Burning Wheel based on Paul's jihad against the nobles in Dune, because over there it's explicit that the nobles will lose ultimately. In BE, it can swing either way.

Oct 20, 2003

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarian 2: Electric Boogaloo

Alien Rope Burn posted:

On that cheery note, time for the best ACE Agent with the worst name, Waterboard! He's a surfing and coastal warfare expert, and is ready to thwart all PYTHON schemes, but really prefers that they be schemes on the beach or at least involve a wave pool. A lot of people, particularly enemy agents, react really badly to his name, which he doesn't understand. Guy just wants to save the world and surf, and not necessarily in that order.

This is everything I wanted. He will make a fine addition to the team of Blaze It and E-Meter.

May 5, 2011

Adventure! Part Two: Stolze goes full genre and we find out what the hell is going on

We open up with another piece of short fiction written by everybody’s favorite tabletop writer Greg Stolze!

This story opens with our intrepid narrator Whitley Styles standing in a laboratory full of dead men along with Professor Dixon and newly-introduced Primoris. The men all appear to have been smothered, and Styles is prevented from closing their eyes by Primoris. Styles determines that the men asphyxiated, but there are no strangulation marks on any of them, and even though a skilled assassin could leave no mark, the men all died too slowly for that. The laboratory is undisturbed aside from a lot of yellow dust on the floor. No one is coming up with any ideas on how they were killed, but Primoris and Dixon know what they were up to:

Whitley Styles would go on to found the D.A.R.E program

Just as the Aeon boys are on the verge of a discovery concerning the yellow dust, six “swarthy” men enter the room, carrying strange knives. The knives emit yellow smoke, and as they approach, Whitley takes a shot at one, but his pistol fails to fire as he suddenly becomes dizzy and passes out

Whitley is a huge loving goon, basically

Whitley awakens in a hospital owned by Max Mercer with a splitting headache and a stitched-up wound on his forehead from where one of the attackers sliced him. Annabelle Lee Newfield informs him that Dixon took down their attackers with some sort of glue-gun. She also shows him the long strands of coagulated blood extracted from his forehead veins, somehow hardened by the strange knives of his attackers. Primoris was stabbed more seriously and is still in surgery. One of the attackers lived and is being questioned by Max Mercer at the local police precinct.

With his pants back on, Whitley takes a ride with Dixon in a flawless Bentley that smells of “leather and cigars.” Dixon informs him that the reason he passed out and that the knife thickened his blood is because they are made of a strange metal that sucks the oxygen out of the nearby air by undergoing a rapid process of oxidation.

At the police station, Whitley and Mercer find that the assassin has been roughed up, and Mercer decides that the man hasn’t had enough yet.


Max quickly deduces that the man is a Bahraini pearl diver, suited to holding his breath for long periods of time, which explains why he was chosen to wield an oxygen-destroying knife. When pressed for information, the man responds that they “...have my daughter.”

And that concludes the story, we get a nice little cliffhanger that never goes anywhere but does illustrate a good way to end a session. This comes up later in the GM section.

Next we get a partially-burned invitation from a Doctor Sir Calvin Hammersmith, who extolls the wisdom of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Hammersmith believes that there is a sort of free energy “bound up in the physical dimensions of space-time itself” which he calls telluric energy. The invitation is to come and see his engine, which apparently can convert this telluric energy into usable electricity.

At the bottom of the invitation, written by hand, is a note reading: “Why me? What brought me there to witness that magnificent, tragic spectacle of fire and lightning from room-filling machinery run amok, the devastation to the estate, Dr. Hammersmith’s heroic self-sacrifice to save the rest of us, those dazed moments on the greens as each of us felt fresh stirrings of power?” Below that is a single word, “Destiny.”

After the death of Hammersmith and the destruction of his telluric engine, Max Mercer is nowhere to be found. We get journal entries written by Whitley as he searches for Mercer, starting in December 1922. He goes to England to chase leads, but comes up empty handed before returning to the US. In June 1923, Mercer turns up, under the care of Dr. Primoris, apparently with a case of amnesia. Whitley recalls meeting Primoris after Mercer rescued him from the Thuggee(sure), and to celebrate, they all go out for steaks that night and to talk about Max’s new venture.

This is the literary equivalent of a title drop

During their conversation over dinner, we get this little gem:

Goddamn Whitley is irritating

And so the Aeon Society for Gentlemen (and ladies too, apparently) is formed. The Aeon Society is kinda presented as the default faction to which the PCs will belong in Adventure! There are other factions that I’ll get to, but they are presented more as rivals, enemies, and allies to the Aeon Society, who provide the means for the PCs to go out on adventures, and plenty of hooks into the world. You can run Adventure! without being part of the Aeon Society, but the whole book is geared towards the assumption that you totally want to be a part of this group.

Inspiring words, Max

And finally:

From left to right: Danger Ace, Doctor Primoris, “Safari” Jack Tallon, Maxwell Mercer, Professor Dixon, Annabelle Lee Newfield, and Whitley Styles.

Next time on Serf’s Adventure! F&F: the early days of the Aeon Society and crackpot psuedoscience!

Jan 6, 2012


Burning Empires

I say, good sir!

A short update because the next is a woozy. Now we go into the first of the two big personal-scale conflict subsystems. Duel of Wits is basically BE's social combat system. Characters use verbal attacks and maneuvers to dismantle opposing arguments and make themselves look correct. Note that this is explicitly not mind control or anything like that: it is an argument, and while a character may change their mind after losing a Duel of Wits that is not the goal. The game compares it to a performance battle between a violin virtuoso and a crass comedian - maybe the former is objectively a better artist, but the audience ended up liking butt jokes the best. Duel of Wits can't make a character like something or change a Belief or anything like that, but it can force them to agree to something, if only for the time being.

"Come now, Your Grace, don't be bothered by the angry bald man."

There must be at least two characters willing to defend disparate positions to engage in Duel of Wits. Each character must describe their position and why they're right to other players: that is the statement of purpose, the intent of their Duel. The player must state what they want from the other character. This is a metagame concern: both sides must agree to the stakes involved. "If I win, you will bring the Forged Lord to me." "If I win, you are convinced that I have no power over the Forged Lord and can't be used against her." "The Arch-cotare will purge the church of the Inquisitor's influence." "The Inquisition is a legal entity and will be allowed to handle its own affairs." And so on. Demands should be reasonable and achievable, and major, world-saving issues should be divided in smaller arguments spread across multiple duels. Once both sides agree to the stakes, they test Persuasion, Rhetoric, Oratory, Interrogation or a special skill and add the successes to the character's Will exponent: that is the body of argument, and similar to Disposition in the Infection rules, it is the "HP" of the character in the Duel. If the GM judges the debate to be very important, then the body of argument may be Will + skill exponent without rolling, and if it's a minor matter it can be just the Will exponent. Many traits affect Duel of Wits, and at the GM's decision certain character traits that are relevant (try persuading a Stubborn character) may grant +1 to the body of argument per trait. A character may never be forced into a Duel of Wits: they can always walk away, with the sanctity of their argument intact. However, if they choose to do so they can't argue the point further - they're done.

And that's when Bob realized his anvil suit did not have a poop chute.

In a Duel, each character selects in private a sequence of three actions. Each "round" of the Duel is called an exchange, divided in three volleys. In each volley, the actions of the characters are revealed, then compared. As volleys are called, the characters announce their maneuver and roleplay them out - a short thing, a couple of sentences at most, but the GM can decide to give disadvantage to a side that doesn't make the least effort to act the maneuver out. Each maneuver has its own skills (sometimes stats) to be tested, and in addition to those the skills of Etiquette, Falsehood, Ugly Truth, Seduction, Soothing Platitudes, Conspicuous and Intimidation may always be FoRKed into them as long as they're roleplayed into the action. Relevant -wises may also be used as FoRKs if the player quotes a piece of pertinent information. Certain skills have special effects: Divination, for instance, actually allows to set a Belief change as a stake, but only in the context of a priestly character using it to divine another character's future and persuading them of a certain course of action.

The actions are:

  • Avoid the Topic (Will) The speaking player must veer off-topic. If opposed to a maneuver, subtract Avoid successes from the opponent's own successes. It does nothing against independent maneuvers.
  • Dismiss (Oratory, Rhetoric, Intimidation, Interrogation) Well, obviously the fool knows nothing and shouldn't have to be listened to! Dismiss adds 2D to a roll to reduce the opponent's body of argument, but if the duel isn't won in that volley the dismissing character hesitates for the next volley.
  • Feint (Interrogation, Seduction, Oratory, Rhetoric, Suasion, Persuasion) A verbal trap where the character leads the opponent into thinking they're talking about one thing before revealing a hidden barb. Subtract margin of success from the opponent's successes for their action. If the enemy action is independent, Feint does nothing. If the enemy action is a Rebuttal, Feint automatically succeeds and grants the character a free Point against the opponent.
  • Incite (Interrogation, Seduction, Ugly Truth, Intimidation, Falsehood, Command) Insults, distractions and threats. Test the skill against an obstacle equal to the victim's Will: if successful, they must test Steel to keep from hesitating on their next volley. Opposed actions subtract net successes from Incite, but if enough successes to match the opponent's Will remain it goes through.
  • Obfuscate (Seduction, Begging, Soothing Platitudes, Oratory, Rhetoric, Falsehood, Ugly Truth) The character must present a non-sequitur or bizarre, unrelated point. Test the skill against whatever the opponent is using, even another Obfuscate: if the roll is won, the opponent loses their current action, and if the obstacle is exceeded the opponent gets +1 Ob to their next action. +2D against Dismiss.
  • Point (Interrogation, Oratory, Rhetoric, Suasion, Begging, and Persuasion) The basic verbal attack. Point successes reduce the opponent's body of argument, but are reduced by opponent's successes in versus maneuvers.
  • Rebuttal (Interrogation, Seduction, Oratory, Rhetoric, Suasion and Persuasion) The character lets their opponent make a Point or Dismiss first, then counters it. The dice pool is divided in attack and defense, with a minimum 1D in each: defense successes subtract from a Point or Dismiss and act as obstacle for an Obfuscate, while attack dice act as a Point.

"N-no, My Little Vaylen is a good show... I need to rest a moment."

Once a body of argument hits zero, the winner gets their stakes and the loser has to abide by them. Like in Infection, odds are that the winning argument won't come up unscathed, and so the loser may negotiate a compromise depending on how many points they manage to knock off the winner's argument. It is possible to escalate an argument to violence: the loser forgoes their compromise, and starts a conflict scene (in a firefight) or a building scene (a fist-fight) Baiting Beliefs, Instincts and traits is encouraged, as well as playing along with the bait - free Fate points! If the Duel had an audience, they're now convinced that the winner is right. The stakes are binding: if you were convinced that your lover is a Vaylen when she's not, better get ready to deal with her! Hey, you didn't have to stay for the Duel in the first place. In group duels with two defined sides, one character on each acts as the primary speaker and the rest can speak up to add help dice to their side (or the other!), with the consent of the primary speaker - in the Help rules there's an example where one player attempts to help by using Ugly Truth to denounce the military junta's evil, and the speaker refuses because they're trying to convince the junta to join them in the first place :v: It is possible to have multiple bodies of argument in a Duel of Wits, though not encouraged. In this case, Avoid and Obfuscate protect against all attacks in that volley, while Rebuttal, Point, Dismiss, Feint and Incite may only have one target each volley. The level of compromise for each character is measured depending on the remaining body of argument of the side that knocked them out of the Duel at the time they did, not the final total.


Bonus: the Kerrn poet is here.


32 year old Kerrn. Homeworld: Parker's World. Index: Zero.

Lifepaths: Born Kaklakesh > (setting transfer) > Mezz > (setting transfer) > Solzjah > Sayeret > Shayatet > Surge > Eltee


My poetry is the best. If you think different, show me your work!
The Arch-Cotare saved my soul. I must guard his.
The enemy is cowardly. Better off slaying them at night.


Always ask people's opinion of my poetry.
When in a new place, note the position of guards and security.
Never let someone else touch my sword.

Bioengineered Organism, Kerrn Accent (goddammit I'm not dealing with this), Massive Stature, Not Easy Being Green,
 Super-Mutated IgE, Unbridled Hatred, Cold-Blooded, Sharp-Eyed, Gruff, Krav Magah Trained, Quiet, I, Solzjah, A Bit Mad, Cryptic

Stats: Will 4, Perception 5, Agility 4, Speed 4, Power 6, Forte 5
Resources 5, Circles 2, Mortal Wound H11, Steel 5, Hesitation 6

Skills: Command 5, Tactics 4, Explosives 3, Recon 4, Soldiering 2, Cooking 2, Zero-G 2, Close Combat 5,
Supply-wise 2, Assault Weapons 3, Observation 4, Physical Training 2,
Security Rigging 2, Solzjah-wise 2, Intimidation 2, Infiltration 3

Affiliations and Reputations:
I, Solzjah - 1D with other Sozljahs
1D affiliation with the Black Gate, church's enforcers
1D reputation as the spooky head-honcho of the Black Gate

Relationships: The Arch-Cotare Solvalou, who brought him along when he was a lonely cook on a mercator with nowhere else to go
Sergeant Hansa Belvedere of the Black Gate, hardass but loyal second in command

Stet-gun (think needlegun)
Kerrn Sword (powered, costs extra due to it being Low Index)
Note that Shogun here (that's a name in the sample list, don't look at me) doesn't actually have a skill that would let him compose poetry, but that doesn't stop him from trying. :haw: Kerrn lifepaths are very lacking in general points to be used in stuff outside of their lifepaths. Kerrn settings are always native to them excepting Diazspherah, which is non-native by default unless made native in the world burning session.

Next: there was a FIREFIGHT!

Traveller fucked around with this message at 03:24 on Aug 7, 2015

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Hordes: Domination

The Siege Animantarax is a living battle engine, bearing an ornate houdaa covered in weapons crewed by veteran Praetorians and Venators. The dakars commanding from the rear platform shout orders and blow horns to signal attacks. They move ever forward, slowly but steadily, delivering a hail of reiver fire on the foe. Incoming attacks just make them angry, and they smash through attackers with ease. The spears and double-combed reiver guns keep time with the swing of their tails, killing everything nearby. The animantaraxes have been known to the skorne for centuries, highly prized by the houses that could afford the costs of capturing them. Their strength and durability makes them ideal weapons platforms, and House Balaash was feared and envied for the dozen they owned in the Wars of Unification. Recently, expansion north of the Shroudwall Mountains has made animantaraxes more common. They cannot be bred in captivity, but are captured by teams of paingivers sent to the dangerous northern plains. While the Conqueror was reluctant to fund such expeditions, Makeda is not, and has had the wealthy houses renew their efforts. Veteran dakars are trained in the fundamentals of beast handling and lead mixed units of Praetorians and Ventators in weeks of drills before they are allowed to command from a houdaa. Tyrants strive to requisition animantaraxes for any conflict in which they fear heavy resistance. Just one can ensure victory.

Kallus, Wrath of Everblight is the most deliberately crafted of the Legion warlocks. All prior had been born of chaotic transformation, but not Kallus. Every part of him was shaped by Everblight's will, including his mind, to serve as an undying general, able to awaken the dragon's fury in his followers. He is the creation which Thagrosh is most proud of, as his genesis was Thagrosh's idea, testing all of Everblight's ability to control the blight. The athanc shard used for Kallus was subtly altered, making it able to transform any flesh into Kallus' body and mind. The crystal has a pattern for him, based on a version of Thagrosh honed to emphasize strengths and eliminate weaknesses - an evolving mind embedded in an athanc that remains Everblight's own essence. The athanc was put in the body of a captive, whose flesh melted into a new shape - not Nyss, not ogrun, not human. Kallus was a blank slate created by Everblight's lore, lacking any memories that might restrict him. His mind can be preserved as long as the athanc endures, giving him the immortality of a dragon. He does not fear death in battle, for his death is only temporary, a mere inconvenience until a new victim can be transfigured into him. His personality is in flux as he learns about the world and his peers. The Nyss warlocks are mysteries to Kallus, as they have desires outside of Everblight. His own mind is filled with the will of Thagrosh and Everblight, and he learns very quickly. He has begun to suspect that his creation is the destiny of the Legion, that he is specially empowered to lead them in conquest. Thagrosh may be the Messiah, but Kallus is heir to the throne. His gimmick is personally murdering things and not dying. His feat lets him spawn Incubi whenever his troops die near him, and buffs soulless allies.

Vayl, Consul of Everblight is Epic Vayl. She has been guiding the Legion as a dark queen, commanding them with the same skill as her magic. She chooses which conflicts to become personally involved in. The trust Everblight has in her is deserved - no other general has been so instrumental in forging the Nyss into a weapon. There are those who think she cannot be truly loyal, given she betrayed her people freely, but they do not understand her. Everblight's goals and those of Vayl's are the same, for she has given herself to the dragon utterly, in exchange for all she needs for her own dreams of domination. She has great authority, answering only to Thagrosh and Everblight, and in exchange, she pits all of her intellect and cunning towards Everblight's plans. Her mastery over the Legion comes both from her political skill and her understanding of the blight. Her magic uses the dragon's power, and it is the template for all blighted sorceresses who have followed. All of them look to her for leadership in creating new arcane weapons. Drawing on draconic lore, she has begun to study the athanc, and it was from this she learned to modify her oraculus to resemble it, then split it into three. She strives to make similar use of the corpse of Pyromalfic to make tools to find other dragons. She may even succeed, doing in a few years what the lich lords of Cryx have worked on for centuries. Her gimmick is a mix of blasts and buffs, and her feat lets her cast her spells freely.

The Naga Nightlurker is a forerunner of the Legion, slithering through the shadows towards prey, using countless tiny claws to clamber over anything. They tear foes apart and spew caustic venom that melts flesh. The naga were some of the first creations of Everblight in the time of Morrdh, referred to in ancient texts as the worms of the earth, the crawling shadows. Some became known as the nightlurkers in the Morrdh language, and while apparently simple, they are in truth quite complex in their manifestation of the blight. Their animus grants immense power at tearing through magical protection.

The Succubus is a new kind of Nyss, a product of the long reach of the blight. They mature rapidly from birth, and they have far greater sorcerous potential than most Nyss women. They are of the strongest bloodlines, and a few of those are culled for the purpose of becoming succubi, brought to the spawning pools and bathed in warlocks' blood. When they emerge, they are no longer wholly Nyss, and each is attuned to the warlock whose blood transformed them. They are as loyal as dragonspawn, empowered to amplify their warlock's magic, and with their every thought, they follow the will of their masters.

Proteus is the greatest creation of Abyslonia, the most skilled in creating dragonspawn. Everblight spoke to her as she spawned it, guiding her will. Its birth nearly killed her, using every drop of her blood, and it was only by a supreme act of will that she survived to see it grow from her blood and that of a dozen sacrifices. Its thrashing tentacles and terrible maw are the hunger of Everblight given form. Its armored body ripples with muscle, spines and claws. It is as confusing as it is horrifying, its head covered in grabbing tentacles. It wraps these around its victims, dragging them back to its body and flaying them alive, feasting on them to heal itself even as it kills.

The Nyss legionnaires are led by Captain Farilor and Standard. Farilor, Bladeguard of the Prophet, wields them like a weapon, directing them for the glory of Thagrosh. Under him, the legionnaires will ignore even the greatest wounds to cut down foes. He was born to Maelwyrr Aeryn shard, a small but respected one for their guardianship of the Fane of Nyssor. Farilor knew he would have great responsibilities, working diligently to prepare for them. All of Maelwyrr Aeryn was shocked when he failed his testing and was denied priesthood. He left the shard in shame, considering suicide, but his drive to serve was too deep. Instead, he joined the ryssovass order, seeking new purpose in defense. He served well and with discipline, and while his family would not accept him, they considered him peerless. When Vayl betrayed the Nyss, the ryssovass were first to be blighted, for they were too dangerous to ignore. No blighted legionnaire was more devoted than Farilor, who rose to lead. He sees Thagrosh as savior of the Nyss and Everblight as their rightful god, demanding nothing less than perfection from the Messiah's honor guard.

Next time: Pigs and gators.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


gradenko_2000 posted:

"Skilltree Saga"

That's an appropriate title if I ever saw one.

And I think the legit RPG you're thinking about it is the Realms of Arkania series.

Nope, I was thinking of Darklands.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 05:30 on Aug 7, 2015

Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Most people of that era mainly know the cartoon, but the comic was astonishingly good for a comic based off a toy line. In fact, most of the original concepts - the little file cards on the back of the toy box - were penned by the comic writer, Larry Hama. Hama was a Vietnam vet, and even based some of the characters off of people he had known in the war. It still had ninjas every which way, a shapeshifting Aussie biker, and an evil dentist obsessed with mind control, but it was a series where they shot real bullets and Cobra troopers died in droves. Though named characters didn't often die, the book was fairly brutal when it happened. I'm reminded of an early issue where a character leaps in front of a missile to save a carload of civilians, dying instantly.

The Cobra agents have a good laugh and then fire their second missile.

On that cheery note, time for the best ACE Agent with the worst name, Waterboard! He's a surfing and coastal warfare expert, and is ready to thwart all PYTHON schemes, but really prefers that they be schemes on the beach or at least involve a wave pool. A lot of people, particularly enemy agents, react really badly to his name, which he doesn't understand. Guy just wants to save the world and surf, and not necessarily in that order.

That is a drat good one.

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

Part 24: Starter Scenarios

We're on the home stretch here, the only thing left are the two "sample" adventures at the back of the book. I'll see if I can get them both completed here...


Lovemaking is not the only way to create a human body, but it is the only way to create a human soul. All the people created through scientific means—artificial insemination, clones, in vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer, intravaginal culture, uterine lavage embryo retrieval, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and the rest—are born without souls, incapable of real empathy or emo-
tion. If you watch the streets with aura sight, you’ll see them—they’re the blank people.

A Bill In Three Parts

The first of our starter adventures concerns the unfortunate Bill Toge(s), a guy at the center of an unfortunate space-time thingy-do and a more personal disaster in the form of an entire flock of poo poo-covered birds coming home to roost. Five years ago a younger Bill Toge was kicked out of his dad's house and drove off to nowhere in particular. He ended up running off the road and splitting into three people (unbeknownst to him) for inexplicable cosmic reasons. The three Toges each went different ways and ended up living their own (relatively unpleasant) lives for five years. Now things have gone bad for all three and they're headed back home...hoping their dad will take them back or at least help them out...when they all crash their cars at the same intersection they "split" before. The wreck turns this metaphysical hiccup into a full-on cosmic heart attack and that's when the PCs get involved.

I'll be honest, I actually do not like this adventure very much...I haven't read the other UA scenario collections like Weep but I get the impression that UA tends to be very "hit or miss" with it's pre-made scenarios and this one is definitely a "miss". The plot seems geared towards Street Level characters but it's far too "in your face" with the unnatural elements for the 'feel' of street level play (involving magic dopplegangers, time travel and teleportation). There's a lot of "setting material" that's mentioned but never directly involves the PCs, so it just comes off as a little pointless. It's also extremely rail-roaded and just generally feels somewhat slapped together. There's hints of interesting ideas in here...but it doesn't match the tone of the rest of the book very well.

Anyway, on with the scenario: As I said, all three Bill Toges' have lived their own lives for the past five years. All have had run-ins with the law and with the Occult Underground. For their own reasons each of the three had a personal crisis which left them driving home when they reach the exact same road as their crash five years previously and all three of them (still driving identical versions of their original car) arrive at the same spot as their accident and get in three-way accident with one another.

The PCs have been driving along a road themselves (it doesn't matter which road, in fact the adventure even suggests having each PC be driving a different car down a different road somewhere in the country and find themselves somehow at this simultaneous location). There's an intro bit of "read-aloud" text for the PCs which...for some reason...lays out tons of info that the PCs have no way of knowing but also provides no context for understanding it. If you actually read this out to the characters odds are good no one would know what the hell you're talking about.

So, after stopping at the crossroads the PCs encounter the wreckage (with the three Bills still unconscious inside) and a sheriff who immediately calls to them for help. He can't do anything himself because one arm's in a splint and the radio in his patrol car is busted but the cars are spitting sparks and leaking gas so he asks the newly arrived PCs to help dig out the three drivers before the gas ignites. The adventure rightly notes that this is not normal behavior for a law enforcement officer because the sheriff is actually the Count De Saint Germain in disguise, working to get this particular cosmic wedgie unstuck from the buttocks of the universe. Unfortunately, this is the Count in his laziest incarnation because he's going to sit there and let the PCs do everything (I get having powerful, semi-omniscient NPCs like Elminster or Harlequin as a convenient source of plot hooks but it's important that there be a reason for them not to get involved the Count literally watches everything happen and just pushes the PCs into the middle of it).

Anyway, getting the Toge's out isn't too hard, the cars are wrecked but the doors all work and while they're unconscious none of them are so mangled that they require immediate emergency assistance. However, once they're all out it becomes obvious that these aren't just three guys...they're the same three guys. The Sheriff shakes his head and says "I knew it, its that drat Bill Toge again." Then the three cars explode in a giant fireball.

1st Bill: The Supermarket

Suddenly it's 2 PM, about 12 hours earlier and the PCs are all in the pet-food aisle of a supermarket as one of the Bill Toge's and a gang of his "friends" are in the process of holding the place up.

This Bill is a thug who's working with a group of four "buddies" in a cheap rip-off of Point Break. They're all wearing ex-president masks and holding up the Fresh Way supermarket for the cash in the place's safe. The one notable thing about Bill is the magical "amulet" he's wearing: a JFK half-dollar inscribed with nonsense symbols which is a Significant Artifact (provides a permanent version of the Entropomancer Fortune's Fool effect). Bill doesn't know it's magick, he just happened to give a hobo (identified by the book as Jeeter) a dollar and the bum gave him the amulet.

Things are going badly for the "heist". It turns out a police officer was grabbing a donuts when Bill and Co. busted in and he tried to get the drop on them. In addition there's a group of about 40 shoppers clustered in the front of the store being watched by one of the gang.The PCs arrive just as the bullets start flying between the cop and the crooks, the cop gets hit and goes down. Unfortunately for Bill the officer was smart enough to call for backup before engaging and sirens start up in the distance and within minutes this becomes a hostage situation.

Bill is panicky and ultimately doesn't necessarily want to kill anyone (although the rest of his crew might feel differently). If the PCs don't interfere the crooks will grab the money and (maybe) shoot a hostage that tries to flee before escaping out of the back exit, getting into their car and driving off (leading to Bill panicking and fleeing for home...and crashing into himselves).

Theoretically, the PCs goal is to stop Bill from escaping somehow in order to ensure he doesn't make it to the crossroads and hit the other Bills. Realistically...I don't see it playing out very smoothly. It's relatively tough for the PCs to recognize Bill given that all of the criminals are wearing masks and even if they do its unlikely they'll know what they're supposed to do. Not to mention that the PCs are likely unarmed (having just been helping a police officer dig unconscious people out of a car wreck) and the robbers are all toting firearms. This is exactly the sort of situation the combat chapter warned you about getting involved in after all.

The Count De Saint Germain is here too, the PCs might recognize a janitor as the sheriff...but he does nothing to indicate that he knows the PCs or what's going on.

If the PCs fail to stop Bill from escaping then one of them spots a doppleganger, an exact duplicate of themselves who pops up from behind a checkout aisle. The doppleganger waves to his/her original in a mocking and malicious way. Only that one PC spots the double who immediately leaves the store. The scene then shifts back to the car wreck which is just like it was before the explosion except the PCs have any injuries from the scene and are carrying anything they happened to pick up.

If the PCs succeed in delaying Bill (including killing him) then there's no doppleganger and the scene goes back to the crossroads..but this time there's only two cars and two Bill Toges.

Either way the sheriff mutters his line again and once again the cars explode.

Scene 2: The Apartment

Again, it's twelve hours earlier. The PCs are in the hallway of an apartment building outside Apartment 101. From inside they can hear the sound of someone in distress, possibly gagged. The door is slightly ajar and through it they can hear someone say "how does it feel, dead man?" in an angry voice.

If the PCs look inside they can see a crappy apartment. Bill Toge is standing there, with some injuries, holding a knife and tied to a chair is man whose mouth and nose have melted shut. This Bill is an Epideromancer and the guy tied to the chair is a local child molester who is in the process of suffocating.

If confronted, Bill may (if given the chance) explain that the guy is a child molester who kidnapped Bill's daughter (four years old). Bill figured he's got her stashed somewhere and is trying to get the location out of him. Since the girl's mother has sole custody and Bill has a criminal record the cops are also looking at him as a prime suspect (it doesn't help that he beat up the girl's mom a few times...Bill's only a "good guy" in comparison to the guy in the chair). Of course it's unlikely he'll get a chance to go into much detail given the circumstances.

Once Don (the kidnapper) passes out, assuming the PCs haven't disabled Bill in some way, Bill will slash open the sealed up mouth with his knife to let the guy breathe. If the PCs act to stop him Bill will try and explain that it's the only way to keep the guy alive and he's the only one who knows where Bill's daughter is. If the PCs get violent Bill cuts himself and using the injury to Blast someones' testicles off (yes, it does specify that Bill targets the testicles).

If Don ends up dead and he's in any condition to do so Bill will take the guy's keys and head to his house. The PCs might be allowed to come along. If Don lives he'll crack under the supernatural torture and reveal that the girl is in a secret room in his house. He'll offer to take Bill (and by extension the PCs...good thing child molesters always have vans).

Things move to Don's house (the Count is masquerading as a drunk hanging out in an alley nearby, still wearing the same face). The place is full of dog poo poo, tiny Pomeranians, posters of dolphins and guns (Don sells illegal firearms). If the PCs are looking to "load up" they can get several weapons, boxes of ammo and in the bedroom is 8.5 grand in cash. The girl is in a hidden room in the basement...already dead. She's wearing a gag and ended up choking on her own vomit. If Don is with the group then Bill stabs himself and uses the Significant blast to make Don vomit up his own stomach.

About when Bill comes out of the house, holding his dead daughter's body two detectives arrive (since Don is a convicted child molester they're going to do a routine questioning...there's apparently a long list). At the sight of anyone carrying a limp little girl they'll draw their guns. Bill is more or less crazy at this point and...unless the PCs intervene in some way...he'll stab himself in the eye for a Major charge and turn both cops into flesh-puddles. He would then flee town, heading for the crossroads.

The PCs goal is to stop this somehow (or stop the confrontation from ever taking place, if they can make sure Bill isn't the one in a compromising position when the cops show. If they can keep Bill from freaking out the odds aren't too bad for him...there's plenty of evidence to show that Don was the kidnapper and while Bill might get in trouble for his methods the cops are undoubtedly sympathetic once they know the truth.

If the PCs fail then another doppleganger shows up...driving a duplicate of the character's car down the road. Again they wave mockingly before driving off. Again the PCs show up back to the crossroads just before the explosion (with two or three cars depending on how the previous scenario went).

If they succeed then they show up back at the crossroads with only one or two cars (depending on how things went last time).

Either way, the explosion repeats and the PCs are somewhere else again.

Scene 3: Trailer Park

12 hours earlier again, this time the PCs are in a trailer park somewhere in the Southwest USA with about 3 dozen run down mobile homes. The place is closed in by cliffs on three sides and has no electricity or water or phone lines...and looks abandoned. No one is visible but the PCs can hear the sound of idling car engines somewhere out of sight.

If the PCs follow the sound (or just wander around) they'll come to the entrance of the park and see the remains of a fake canvas and wood UFO laying on the ground. A sign over the UFO reads "WELCOME!!! JESUS!!! AND THE ENSALUMBANS!!!" Both seem pretty old and are definitely falling apart.

In front of the "UFO" is a corpse, a woman in her 20s who appears to have been shot several times and holding a revolver in her right hand. Outside of the entrance are a few dozen vehicles: a mix of police cars, camera crews and news vans. A total of about forty people, several in uniform and armed with rifles. If they spot the PCs they'll start opening fire. The group has stumbled into a fun little cult stand-off.

Once the PCs are being shot at one of the trailers will open, revealing Bill Toge who gestures them inside, saying "Kindred! Come inside! The Time is at Hand" This Bill is the leader of an apocalyptic cult called the Essenalumban Collective. A couple of years ago Bill got a premonition that today would be the End of the World when Jesus and his alien buddies return. He managed to attract about a dozen followers, took them into the desert and fed them a lot of shrooms. While tripping balls they stumbled across the group of abandoned mobile homes and decided this must be the place Jesus would arrive to. They built the UFO and sign and provided enough stuff for the trailers to be semi-livable for weekend visits (namely just a portapottie).

A few days ago Bill led his "flock" to the trailer park for the final "arrival" but some of the cult member's friends and family got concerned and called the cops. The first police officer who approached was shot by one of the trigger happy cultists and things got out of hand. The cult members are high as gently caress and occasionally one of them takes a shot at the cop's general direction and one of them (the dead woman at the entrance) managed to kill a reporter before the cops gunned her down. The cops are minutes away from storming the compound.

This Bill Toge is an Avatar of the Fool (unknowlingly) at 55%, which is what has gotten him the limited success he's enjoyed so far. This makes him lucky and tough to hurt (but dangerous to be around). The trailer he pulls the PCs in is full of four other cultists and has the body of the cop that one of them shot yesterday (it really smells but they're too stoned to notice). They've gone really off the deep end and cut the cop's body open and eaten most of her brain and organs (they're bizarre logic is that this allows them to take the cop with them when they leave with jesus...making her death okay and really a good thing if you think about it). They're covered in blood and munching magic mushrooms from a plastic bag.

In addition to Bill there's his second-in-command Satchel Phair. The guy with the weird name is looking forward to the end of the world and likes hurting and killing people and sees it as a good excuse...after all if the world's going to end they'd be dead anyway. There's two others a woman named Nickey who's got a bad case of messiah worship for Bill and an off-his-meds kid named Sal who's Phair's "boy wonder" in training. There are eight more cultists scattered through the other trailers.

All four of the cultists in the trailer are tripping balls and have their own goals:
*Bill just wants to ramble about his vision and how great it'll be to meet jesus. He's a nice, gullible guy who has just kind of...stumbled into murder and cannibalism.
*Satchel is looking to kill and eat the PCs. He might try and get them out of the trailer along with him and Sal so they can kill them.
*Nicky is starting to have some doubts that killing, dismembering and eating a police officer is "cool", but is too damaged and drugged to really act on her own.
*Sal will do whatever Satchel wants. No matter what it is.

The group is (on their own) tripping on roughly the same "wavelength" and getting along fairly well...however the PCs could disrupt things and whatever actions they take will be responded to in an exaggerated fashion. If the PCs get upset the cultists go ballistic, if the PCs get cool and froody then everyone might get together in a hug pile and wait for jesus.

Whatever happens the police are going to raid the place any minute (preferably at a crisis point). Eight officers are waiting on the cliffs around the park and will launch tear gas grenades into the midst of the trailers while a SWAT van drives in and disgorges 22 SWAT officers in body armor, gas masks and heavily armed. The driver of the van is the Count De Saint Germain. They'll methodically go down the park, busting open each trailer and disarming, disabling and cuffing any cultists. The officers on the cliff cover them with sniper rifles. This will not end well for the cultists.

The cops can take down the cultists without anyone dying...but the cultists have a lot of (small) guns and the cops are perfectly willing to put down anyone rather than risk losing someone to a lucky shot. If the cultists are smart (or just incapacitated by tear gas) then they can live through this. Assuming the PCs and the four "named" cultists aren't incapacitated by tear gas they'll react in different ways:

*Bill tries to get to the van, planning on reasoning with the "attackers" and letting them know the good news about Jesus.
*Satchel thinks this means its "everyone dies" time and will happily kill anyone and everyone other than Bill.
*Sal will stick with Satchel (who will happily kill him if no other victims are around).
*Nicky sticks to bill but might come to her senses and try and persuade him to surrender.

Bill is also a center of trouble due to his Avatar skill...anyone taking a shot at him has a good chance of having their attack redirected to anyone else around him...friend, foe or PC.

Once the raid ends an ambulance shows up, driven by a hispanic paramedic: Jesus. (if you haven't gotten the joke, remember that AMBULANCE is spelled backwards on the front, now sound it out).

The "bad" ending here is a lot vaguer than the other the "original" timeline Bill got winged by a bullet and was taken away in the ambulance by Jesus. His Avatar skill let him find the key accidentally dropped by a police officer in the ambulance and get uncuffed. At which point he bails out of the ambulance and (somehow) makes it back to the compound and gets his car and (despite his injury, the tear gas and being stoned out of his gourd) he manages to make it out of town and get back on the road towards the crossroads..of course you can't blame the PCs for not realizing this extremely unlikely turn of events is going to happen and thinking everything's peachy when Bill gets put in the back of the ambulance.

The "win" for the PCs is any situation that doesn't have Bill in an ambulance...if he manages to get arrested without being hurt he'll end up in a squad car which he can't escape from and if he's hurt badly enough he won't be able to free himself from the ambulance. If he's killed or unconscious then obviously he's not going anywhere.

If the PCs fail then one of them will spot another doppleganger who vanishes after mockingly waving and the PCs show up at the crossroads with the same number of Bills as when they left. If they succeed then they reappear at the crossroads minus one bill toge.


If the PCs undid all of the "Bills" then nothing happened at all. The PCs find themselves at the crossroads: no sheriff, no wreck, no Bills. This is presumably the best option?

If only one "Bill" remains then the wreck and sheriff are gone and the remaining Bill pulls up next to the PCs, looks at the PCs without recognizing them and says, "what is this, a dork convention" then drives off. This interaction is a little bizarre if you remember that at this point Bill might have just killed people, lost his daughter (and stabbed his own eye out) or been involved in the violent raid and wreckage of his apocalyptic religion (and eaten someone) within the last 12 hours. When Bill pulls off the the doppleganger created by the failed scenario is in the back seat and waves to the PC as the car pulls away.

If more than one Bill remains then the explosion engulfs the cars, the sheriff and his squad car without a trace and the duplicates appear, driving duplicates of the PCs cars and peel off into the night. An ambulance (but no Jesus) drives up to take away the Bills.

And that's pretty much it. Presumably the dopplegangers will cause some kind of trouble for the PCs but this whole thing is basically just something that most PCs will blindly stumble through to a conclusion that cannot be understood one way or another. They may not even realize they "failed" or "won" at the end of it.

Of the three, my favorite is probably the Trailer Park scenario and it seems like that just needs a little more work (mainly a way to organically introduce the PCs into the scene without teleportation/time travel) for that to be an excellent Street Level scenario. It's got crazy people, disturbing violence and just a light glazing of the supernatural (Bill's Avatar skill and visions). The biggest problem with it is the ending where it has to tie itself into the whole "doppleganger" plot with the other two timelines). Alternatively, a version of this event that's been "toned down" would be interesting too...instead of teleporting between different timelines the three Bills all make it to his sleepy little home town without running into one another at fact no one ever sees them together so no one realizes there are three Bills. The plot could involve the unnatural events that crop up when the Bills get close and finding some way to resolve their tangled life-lines.


The guy who tells you “the” is the magick word is full of crap. There is a magick word, but it’s the first person singular. Avoiding the fifth letter and first two letters of “Mephistopheles”—that protects you. The driving force of magick is egotism. That’s why adepts are such assholes. That’s why Christianity and Buddhism teach selflessness and ego annihilation.


Pinfeathers is a bit more down to earth than "Bill In Three Persons" and its more suitable for play at different levels. It centers around Angela Osborne, an Avatar of the Flying Woman. She's trying to infiltrate a mostly clueless cabal called "The Flock". Basically they're a bunch of Neo-Pagans who are preparing for a ritual to celebrate the Phoenix (which they see as a symbol of rebirth and transformation). This is par for the course for "loser" cabals like the Flock who've got barely enough occult knowledge to fill a thimble. Angela is interested for a different of the Flock members is a blood relative of Amelia Earhart and (Angela believes) owns a compass that belonged to the pilot.

Earhart is almost universally considered a powerful historical Avatar of the Flying Woman and most Lords in the know have the smart money on her actually being the current Archetype of the Flying Woman (a powerful Avatar disappearing without a trace when performing a feat of major symbolic power associated with her Archetype? Definitely likely) and she's certainly the reason the Archetype is known as the Flying Woman.

So now we've got a descendant of an Archetype with one of her relative's personal belongings performing a bird-themed ritual relating to rebirth and transformation (both associated with the Flying Woman) could have a whole lot of symbolic power. Angela thinks that, worst case scenario, the compass could be primed to be turned into a powerful Artifact if it doesn't spontaneously turn into one...and best case scenario she thinks that by being present at the ritual she can call some of that power to her and boost her Avatar abilities.

Unfortunately for her she's got a rival: another Avatar of the FW and an ex-lover who knows what Angela's after and wants it for herself. The player characters serve as pawns, wild cards or fellow rivals (depending on their power level). This scenario is set so there's no "pre-set" good and bad guys...Angela might be after the power for herself but still be ultimately heroic (and willing to throw that power away for the sake of others)...or she could be a complete sociopath willing to burn the Flock alive and roll around in the ashes if she thought it would make things work better.

Each NPC has three "settings" to represent how noble or dickish they might be: Low Road, Middle Road and High Road. This comes along with their character stats...which I notice are pretty full of typos...a lot of them have Skills higher than their stats. Angela for instance has a Soul of 60 and an Avatar skill of 73%.

Other than that, this adventure is put together in a much more satisfying way, instead of teleporting PCs from set-piece to set-piece this one lays out the relevant NPCs: Angela, Maggie Laterneau (her rival/ex), Morris Breecher (an assassin hired to kill Angela) and Sid Anderson (the leader of the Flock). It then lays out suggestions on how the PCs might get involved: a global group might be on assignment (or hire) from TNI, a street level gang might be friends or associates of the Flock or its leader and a Cosmic level cabal might be looking to interfere in the struggle of high-level Avatars for their own ends.

Next it lays out the agendas for each major NPC:
*Angela's agenda has already been established and is the driving force behind the action. What she's willing to do to accomplish her goal will depend on the "road" (high middle or low) chosen for her.

*Morris has a pretty set agenda: kill Angela. Why he's after her will vary, he might be a TNI or Sleeper hired gun or he might be hired by Maggie (if she's on the Low Road).

*Maggie's agenda will largely depend on her personality vs angela's "road". A high-road Maggie will be looking to "save" Angela (either from what she sees as a bad decision or from turning into a monster) while a low-road version is out to kill her after she's proved that she's better than Angela by taking everything Angela wants for herself. Maggie may also have varying levels of knowledge about the situation...she knows Angela is in town and is after something big but may or may not know all the details which'll color her actions and how willing she is to work with others.

*Sid's actions will largely depend on his relationship with the PCs. If they're friends or prospective members of the Flock he does everything he can to look competent, capable and independent (which could end up getting him in trouble). If they're complete outsiders he's more likely to see them as rivals or potentially untrustworthy. The guy is (on any road) ambitious and looking to make the Flock (and neo-paganism in general) the next "big thing", he wants a world where it's got the same mainstream acceptance as religions like Christianity or Judaism. Depending on the Road he's on this might drive him to acts of stupid heroism for publicity/recognition or to betrayal if he thinks it'll help his cause.

Maggie and Sid are the main "on screen" players of the game. Angela drives the plot because the PCs will likely be pursuing her or standing in her way (intentionally or not) and Morris will appear whenever there needs to be a cool action scene or to disrupt any chances of getting everyone to just sit down and talk things out like adults. Maggie will likely be working with the players (even if they don't know why) and Sid will be a constant presence as the open leader of the Flock and (as the leader of the group and owner of the compass) he'll be at the center of all the action one way or another.

Finally, several locations are provided:

*Circle's Edge Bookstore: a New Age bookstore, run by the Flock. Upstairs is office space for the Flock and downstairs is a hidden (but legal) S&M dungeon. The dungeon is totally above board and while the store doesn't advertise it they will freely talk about it if asked (although obviously not about clients). It's mostly a bit of interesting flavor, but the fact that several important financial and political figures in the city are members allows Sid to pull a few extra strings if needed (especially if he's on the low road).

*Sid's Apartment: Sid lives on the fourth floor of a downtown apartment with a locked front door (you need to be buzzed in) a normal elevator and a (locked) service elevator. The compass is on display here unless there's a significant reason it shouldn't be.

*Liston Farm: An organic farm about an hour from town. The place belongs to a Flock member and will be the site of the ritual. The Flock has a ritual circle marked out in a wooded area on the property. The farm will be the site of the Phoenix ritual and it may serve as someplace Sid might run to (possibly along with allied PCs) if he feels that his life is in danger in the city.


Every act of heterosex releases a demon into the world to ruin it. Every act of homosex releases an angel to protect it. Every act of monosex releases a narcissistic and capricious spirit—they’ve fought the demons, but only for selfish reasons. We used to be able to reproduce without perverse heterosex, but the demons destroyed the cloning technology and we’re just now recovering it. The demons
have almost won—that’s what’s up with our sexualized advertising and permissive culture. But with enough homo-sex we can defeat them. Just watch out for those treacherous bisexuals!

Once all the pieces are in place things will typically play out organically enough so long as the PCs have a reason to stay involved. Most likely those reasons will be either looking for Angela or sticking with Sid (or both if they realize that Angela is likely after him). There's no direct "path" to follow but there are some important events that are likely to occur:

*Meeting The Flock: PCs who represent a magickal cabal (or are presenting themselves as one) will likely be welcomed by Sid and the Flock who'll happily give them a tour of the Circle's Edge and the Flock offices, talk about what they're doing and their plans and invite them to their next drum circle. The Flock is pretty much purely "clueless"...they obviously believe in magick as a force in the world but none of them have any real knowledge of the Underground: an Avatar or Adept would completely blow their minds. Any of the three other major players (Angela, Maggie or even Morris) might be present at the bookstore or the drum circle meeting, scoping things out. None will have been here long so they aren't likely to make any moves unless the PCs force their hands.

*Meeting Maggie: If Maggie is aware that the PCs are actually a part of the real Underground (and not the kiddie pool the Flock is splashing around in) then she'll probably approach them for help. She might be honestly looking for assistance or planning on using the PCs as pawns but if the PCs aren't aware of important plot elements (such as the compass or Angela's presence) then Maggie can fill them in.

*Spotting Angela: Once the PCs have learned about Angela then they will probably start seeing her around town (likely scoping out Sid, his apartment or the Circle's Edge). She's slippery thanks to her Avatar channels and even if the PCs are after her directly it's unlikely they'll be able to act freely in public.

*Morris Attacks: If it seems like the PCs aren't doing enough to interfere with Angela's plans to secure the compass or infiltrate the Flock or it seems like they're dangerously close to resolving everything reasonably and peacefully (say convincing Angela that they should work together). Morris's attack should fail to kill Angela but it'll spook her and make her harder to pin down. It could also interfere in the PCs own plans to trap or ambush her.

*The Ritual: Assuming things haven't gone completely into a ditch (namely Angela or Sid being killed already) then things will climax at the ritual performed at the farmhouse. The ritual occurs a few days after the adventure begins (usually just one or two) and all fifty or so members of the Flock will show up. Showing up at the farm itself is easy enough to do without suspicion but actual participation in the ritual would be noticed if the PCs aren't a part of the flock (which is why angela is trying to infiltrate it) but its easy to watch from the trees. Sid will lead the ritual (wearing the compass around his neck). The ritual takes 30 minutes to an hour and at some point weird stuff will occur (assuming things aren't interrupted by Maggie, the PCs or Morris).

*Weird Stuff If the ritual goes without a hitch Sid will start glowing (he won't be aware of it but everyone else can see it) with a blue aura which gradually takes a bird-like shape. A low, quiet hum will also start to spread through the clearing (specifically it is the distant sound of a propeller aircraft engine). If Angela and/or Maggie are there they will step into the ring, holding out their arms to the light (and if Morris hasn't been stopped he may very well decide this is the right time to take Angela out). Either way at this point there's enough momentum that the magick is not going to stop regardless of what happens so this is a good opportunity for a shootout or fight with weird poo poo happening in the background. The hum grows louder and louder before there's the sound of an explosion and then the sound of an airplane in an uncontrolled dive and the sound of a woman screaming. Random unnatural effects should be shooting off here and there during this time. Finally there's the sound of a crash which knocks everyone in the ring down and fills the ring itself with a column (like a wall-less above-ground swimming pool) of sea water. This can be a danger to anyone badly injured or knocked out already. At this point Sid is in the center of the pool, underwater and glowing brightly...the bird aura unfolds its wings and carries Sid up into the air. Angela and Maggie both think something big is happening (possibly even an Ascension) and may act to try and stop it (including killing Sid depending on their Road). If Sid is killed or knocked out the magick ends and the column of water collapses and everything goes dark (all candles are extinguished and Sid stops glowing).

If things continue uninterrupted Sid flashes brightly and the aura shoots up into the sky and the water collapses. Sid is still here and still alive...but is now a woman. As a man he can't channel the Flying Woman but his biological and symbolic connection with the archetype through the compass and his bloodline still shoved a ton of the Archetypes power through him anyway, resulting in the power taking the path of least resistance and changing his body to match its needs. However, in a final twist this whole mess has made him an Avatar, not of the Flying Woman but of the Mystic Hermaphrodite.

Depending on what's happened people might be dead, panicking, violent or just confused. Its up to the PCs how they want to clean up the mess or if they just run to their cars and skip town.


There are 333 essential stories—333 routes from birth to death, 333 paths from the cradle to the grave. When an individual dies, it reinforces one of the stories—their personality melts down into pure narrative energy. The strongest stories, which have been lived most often, can now influence the living from beyond the grave. That’s what “avatars” are doing. But this creates a feedback loop where certain stories get overplayed, cutting down the options for all of us and throwing the universe dangerously off kilter. There are uncountable ways to be wrong, and only 333 ways to be right.

So, that's it for Unknown Armies, or at least mostly it. I was going to ask, would people prefer I dig out Post Modern Magick and Statosphere and cover a few more Adepts and Avatars or should I move to my next F&F (which will be the Whispering Vault)?

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

Do the Max Attax book.

Jan 7, 2015

Foglet posted:

I also really liked the Realms of Arkania trilogy back in the nineties, long before knowing anything about Das Schwartze Auge or tabletop RPGs.
(wow, I just learned that all three are available on Steam either separately or as a bundle, might as well check them out again to see if they aged well
edit: on GOG as well, looks like the trilogy's even cheaper over there)

Me and my brothers had much fun with the second game.

For something much closer to Realms of Arkania than Skilltree Saga (the hell is up with that name), there are the two Drakensang games (think Neverwinter Nights with a different rule engine) and Blackguards (a Tactical RPG of sorts).

Fun fact: There's no Arkania in all of TDE. They just thought the title would sound better for the English release.

Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.

Count Chocula posted:

Nope, I was thinking of Darklands.
That's weird how the two (Darklands and RoA) interlap in my memories as well in spite of totally unrelated settings and developers. Must be the isometric combat (or the meticulous attention to detail. I remember finding it hard to believe back then that the company that made Darklands wasn't actualy from Germany).

Doresh posted:

Fun fact: There's no Arkania in all of TDE. They just thought the title would sound better for the English release.
I am somewhat looking forward to the English release of The Dark Eye 5e, if only to finally get a hold of the Aventuria setting. The word is that the crunchy part of tabletop Das Schwartze Auge is highly German as well.

Dec 30, 2010

Another 1? Aww man...
You know, I like the basic idea of A Bill In Three Parts, where you have to fix things, not so that there aren't multiple Bills, but just so they don't end up at the weird nexus that is the crossroads again, but it definitely isn't a street-level UA adventure with all the time-travelling and teleporting, and it needs some significant rewrites either way. First of all, the objective needs to be better (read: at all) conveyed to the PCs. As is, there doesn't seem to be any way to understand 'oh, we need to make sure the Bills never get on the road', so someone would need to tell the players 'hey, cosmic poo poo is hosed thanks to these assholes crashing into each other, I can shove you all back into a few key points to shore it up by keeping them from getting there, whatever you gotta do'. Also, the second scenario seems out of place with the other two. In one and three, Bill is ultimately some poor schmuck who is unlucky enough to bumble his way into a seriously bad situation and lucky enough to get out alive, but in two, he's suddenly a hardened killer who's learned legitimate magic. It just feels way out of tone with the other two, and I'm not sure what could really be done to modify it to get better in line besides throwing it out completely and starting from scratch on a different reason to get Bill in a stand-off with police.

Pinfeathers is great on multiple levels though, especially because the multiple 'roads' for NPCs means the mood of the adventure can very dramatically, from a bunch of assholes all squabbling to gently caress each other over for personal gain and spite, to a bunch of well-meaning people who are all just trying to do what they think is the right thing and who could probably be convinced to all get along if they could just all sit down and talk.

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

Yeah, Pinfeathers is an excellent example of how to design a good sandboxy adventure. It's got a bunch of people with their own (customizable) goals, a few solidly written out locations with their own plot hooks and a timeline of events...and then you let the PCs loose to interfere as they wish.

Bill has the problem that all the "tasks" are both really immediate (#1 and #3 will literally resolve themselves within minutes unless the PCs interfere and #2 doesn't take much longer) and have gives the PCs absolutely zero connection, motivation or guidance. They don't know what the gently caress is going on (even if they were above Street level this isn't on any kind of standard "weird poo poo" checklist) and they're dropped in with no clues or steps to follow...but then the story pushes them along at a really rapid pace. It's got all the problems of heavily rail-roaded games with none of the benefits (i.e. knowing where you're going)

Feb 28, 2014

Funny Little Guy Aficionado.

oriongates posted:

So, that's it for Unknown Armies, or at least mostly it. I was going to ask, would people prefer I dig out Post Modern Magick and Statosphere and cover a few more Adepts and Avatars or should I move to my next F&F (which will be the Whispering Vault)?

I would absolutely adore more UA, personally.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


You gotta finish it.
we've seen the good and the bad of the system, now's the time for the ugly.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Hordes: Domination

A Throne of Everblight is an immense battle engine, meant to manifest the dragon's will. It is controlled by a sorceress chosen personally by Vayl Hallyr to manifest Everblight's glory, and the harriers, seraphim and angelii of the Legion flock to the Thrones, circling them. They move forward over any ground, ignoring defenses. The sorceresses atop the thrones hurl blighted sorcery on those foolish enough to fight, freezing the enemy and tearing them apart with the blight. As they reach the enemy lines, the thrones' great tongues lash out and devour foes. Everblight dreamed up the thrones millenia ago, in the time of Morrdh, as a testament to his own glory, but he never had the chance to make them. It was not until he devoured the athanc of Pyromalfic that he had enough power to unleash these creations. The first was born of the deepest spawning pool, using the blood of Vayl, Saeryn and Abyslonia together. The creature that erupted forth was not dragonspawn, but something new, roaring as it surged from the dark womb, showering everyone with gore. Its tendrils tore at the sacrifices laid out for it, stuffing them into its maw. These creations respond only to Nyss sorceresses, and Vayl chose her best lieutenants for the privilege of guiding them into battle. As each throne merges fro mthe spawning pools, a sorceress comes forth to lead them.

Maelok the Dreadbound will work for the Circle Orboros, the Legion of Everblight, the Skorne and the Trollbloods. He is an undead gatorman, a terror not only to his foes but even the Blindwater Congregation. The ritual that animates this bokor's corpse has left him an empty husk commanded by Calaban the Gravewalker. Maelok barely remembers his life and barely notices the destruction he causes. While he is hollow, his magic is terribly effective, and his army embodies the cold death of the fens. He was once a respected bokor of the Bloodsmeath, revered for his wisdom and strength. When he heard of Barnabas and his efforts to unite the gatormen, he opposed the warmonger. Even as he did, however, he was approached by Calaban, his long rival. Maelok had more necromantic power, but Calaban more influence, though they'd rarely fought directly. Calaban spoke persuasively of putting aside their differences to defeat Barnabas, and Maelok accepted, not realizing his peer's treachery. As he began a ritual to summon the dead, Calaban struck against him, siphoning the power for himself. They fought, and even with his stolen power, Calaban was barely able to slay Maelok. He immediately captured Maelok's soul and bound it, using his power to animate the corpse. Since then, Maelok has endured a tortured unlife. When he is not serving Calaban's will, he sits idle and dead. His few remaining emotions revolve around his hatred of his master and his dreams of devouring him. His gimmick is curses and necromancy, and his feat lets his allies become ghostly and incorporeal as well as buffing undead allies.

Sturm and Drang are the creations of Dr. Arkadius, linked together by psychic feedback that drives them into a battle frenzy. They will work for the Circle Orboros, the Legion of Everblight, the Skorne and the Trollbloods. They are engineered to dominate and control, with perfect command over the war hogs of the farrow and potent magic. Even Arkadius is unnerved by what was originally an experiment in artificially stimulating the psychic output of lesser beings. He placed two strong wills in opposition. Sturm was a megalomaniacal, domineering farrow while Drang was a crazed berserker. Arkadius linked them with parts of other pigs and mechanika, and by surgery and alchemical conditioning, he used their tension to catapult their mental power to amazing levels. After the pair nearly destroyed the lab where they were joined, Arkadius instituted controls, both surgical and alchemical, to add a layer of dementia to Sturm while reducing Drang to simpleminded psychosis. They have proven devastating on the battlefield, and only Arkadius knows how to calm them until they are needed. Their gimmick is having two statblocks - when Sturm is in control, they're a magical blaster, while when Drang is in control, they are a physical powerhouse. Their feat drastically weakens warbeasts and warjacks near them.

The Boneswarm is a serpentine mass of bones and swamp muck, created by the suffering of death given form and fueled by fear and pain. They tear at the living, to drown them in the swamps. They occasionally generate spontaneously at sites of atrocity, but more often they are made by the necromantic rites of the gatorman bokors and witch doctors, conducted via bloody sacrifice in the deep marshes. The lingering spirits coalesce around the bones, animating them into a beast of suffering enslaved to a bokor's will. Their animus weakens enemy attacks.

The Road Hog os an immense beast of the Thornfall Alliance, wielding gouts of flame and mechano-claws. They are great hogs with weapons grafted to their flesh. Their lower limbs are removed, replaced by mechanikal legs of extreme swiftness. The bursts of speed they can put on are impressive, but very painful to the creatures themselves - something Arkadius doesn't care about it. It's a trivial cost compared to the carnage they cause on the foe. Their animus grants some of that speed to others.

A Swamp Horror is a creature from the swamps near Corvis, a monstrous tentacled beast that gras onto prey and drags them into its gaping maw, then disappears into the depths. The gatormen have coexisted uneasily with these horrors for a long time. They eat just about anything, even gatormen, and most tribes just avoid them. Few will go into their hgunting grounds except in times of dire need, and fewer still will fight the horrors. The minds of these immense mollusks are alien and unnatural, and only the most exceptional bokors and shamans can subdue them. These gatormen happily take the swamp horrors into combat, and they serve as symbols of status and power. The swamp horrors move easily on their immense tentacles, if slowly. They seize onto any prey that gets near, pulling them ever closer to their jaws. Their animus grants extra reach to melee attacks.

Farrow Slaughterhousers will work for the Circle Orboros, the Legion of Everblight, the Skorne and the Trollbloods. They are a vicious assault force, leading Lord Carver's charges in the Thornfall Alliance. They have embraced the ideas of Lord Carver and his destiny of conquest. Spurred on by his rants, they enjoy little more than tearing humans apart. Individual slaughterhousers are chosen for size, enthusiasm and viciousness, then given heavy pole cleavers to kill with. They are experts with these wepaons, especially at killing those already wounded.

Next time: A big pig.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Hordes: Domination

A Gatorman Witch Doctor will work for the Circle Orboros, the Legion of Everblight, the Skorne or the Trollbloods. They serve the greatest bokors, working with their communities and aiding with their dark magic. Each one is a potent mystic and necromancer, wielding the knife edge between life and death. Often, they see their allies as nothing more than tools to be moved between these states. Gatorman forces often include a witch doctor, as the bokors are expected to help in battle. In combat, they gather their totems that are used to power their spells, tearing the trophies directly from the bodies of their foes. They use their sacral blades and dark incantations to command the immense beasts they control.

Targ is a farrow surgeon, wandering battlefields to heal the owunded warbeasts with an obsessive intensity. He'll work for the Circle Orboros, the Legion of Everblight, the Skorne and the Trollbloods. He ignores bullets and explosions, calmly using Arkadius' stimulants on the war hogs or patching up their gaping wounds with needle and thread. He has assisted Dr. Arkadius on so many modifications that the beasts are conditioned to recognize his hunched form as an extension of Arkadius, obeying him easily. He often herds new beasts to Carver or others of the Thornfall Alliance that need them. He stood out from other farrow early on, both for his deformity and his inquisitive, single-minded personality. He often followed shamans and others that got his interest, mimicking them. Some thought him daft or worthy of mockery, others beat him, and only his raw strength kept him from total victimization. Gew were willing to put up with him, though, and he was finally banished just before he reached maturity. For years, he lived on the fringes of farrow society, surviving on what he could scavenge and trap. He might have died in misery were it not for Dr. Arkadius. Targ's tribe was one of the first conquered by Lord Carver and Arkadius, and he was mesmerized by the war hogs, taking to shadowing Arkadius and emulating him. This annoyed other farrow, but Arkadius found it flattering. He took an interest in the cripplied farrow and wondered what he might make out of Targ. It was only when Targ stole some surgical tools and began to try and sew up injured warbeasts that Arkadius took him as an assistant. He originally intended to experiment on Targ, but discovered he enjoyed talking to him and found him a good listener. None can say if Targ actually understands the doctor's lectures or is just too focused to object. To Targ, the drone may offer a pleasing respite from barked orders. Whatever his mind truly holds, he is very dexterous and able to replicate basic surgical procedure, especially the sewing of flesh. He has no aversion to blood and is fascinated by internal organs and complex machines. He seeks out every chance to practice his skills, oblivious to the danger of the battlefield. So far, his luck has held, and he's survived even as others die around him, always returning for Arkadius' next lecture.

The End!

Next up: Warmachine: Colossals.

Jan 6, 2012


Burning Empires

Traveller posted:

Next: there was a FIREFIGHT!

Ho-boy. This chapter deals with the game's combat system, appropriately named Firefight. Its fantasy counterpart, Burning Wheel, has two combat systems: Range and Cover for ranged combat, and Fight! for close-in work. BE is a lot more reasonable in that the same system is used for both things. Firefight is used when characters wish to undertake a conflict scene involving military action. It scales from squad level combat all the way to entire wings of hammer slogging it out in high orbit. Similar to the other two subsystems we've seen so far, in Firefight each side plays out a number of maneuvers and attempts to reduce the enemy's disposition to zero in order to achieve their objective.

You, test your Cooking skill. I need a sammich.

Each side in a Firefight is represented by one or more units or teams. An unit has an officer or leader and an objective. They can be as small as a single soldier or as large as a whole fleet of warships. The simplest form of Firefight involves two units, one on each side, and while it is possible to have more units in play it is recommended to start small until people get used to the system, so a side's unit should include all of their characters and allies involved, even if hundreds of soldiers are involved. Even if two groups aren't geographically (or ideologically) coherent, they should be part of the same unit if they share the same objective. Depending on their abilities, PCs may be unit leaders or line members. The number of units must be the same for both sides, and if one side can't or won't break down their forces into more units then the other must consolidate theirs until they match.

First, the battle space is defined. The GM describes roughly the environment in which the Firefight will take place. Drawing a map helps, but it's not necessary to get too specific with distances and such, only enough so that everyone has a good idea in their heads of the field. Before the battle begins, each unit declares their objective. This is their intent in the Firefight. Note that "killing the enemy" is explicitly not an acceptable objective, because it is always assumed that units are trying their best to neutralize their enemies. You must want something else: occupy the temple grounds, seize the bridge of the space station, raid for prisoners, knock down the tower, defend the granary, take the refugees to safety, etc. Each goal should be small and manageable, and hopefully set up grounds for a new conflict in the future. Once objectives are set and agreed on, the sides make contact: they perform their initial maneuvers, positioning and sighting. Even if the sides know where the enemy is, they must make contact. It is an Observation, Signals or Sensors versus roll, with bonus dice from technology or help as appropriate. The winner of this roll may gain the contact advantage for their disposition, or they may occupy a position at the start of the Firefight. They may also make a case for range superiority. More on these, later.

You neeeeeeeeeeeerds

Each unit has a disposition, which as we've seen before is their HP for the conflict. The leader of each unit tests Tactics or Command, and successes translate directly into disposition points. Command can only be used if there are soldiers to command, mind you. If the leader doesn't have either skill, test Perception or Will and count half the successes rounded down. After the roll is made, there are a number of bonuses to disposition: did the unit's side win the contact roll? Do they have a superior position? Do they outnumber the opposition? Is there a psychologist connected with the troops? Do they have superior communications? Is their training better? Is their weaponry superior (depending on the battlefield, short-ranged shotguns and pistols beat high-index railguns and plasma cannons if they're fighting in a cramped space station)? Do they have better infiltration? Do they have the right tool for the job (a tracking device to capture a VIP, for instance)? Do they have iron? In case of vehicle warfare, do they have a heavier chassis, or greater mobility? All of these grant +1 or +2 points depending on circumstances. If the unit's leader blows their roll or doesn't have the skill and none of these bonuses apply, the unit has a minimum disposition of 1.

Surprise, motherfucker!

In the battlefield, there are a number of positions that can offer units tactical advantages. Higher ground, bunkers, cloud cover, ravines, asteroids, gravity wells and so on. Positions are rated from 1P to 5P, depending on their value in the engagement. They do not necessarily provide cover. When starting a fight, the GM notes all of the likely positions in the battlefield, marking them at a rating of 1 to start. The winner of the contact test may then add another two 1P positions to the battlefield, or increase two already existing 1P positions to 2P or one 1P to 3P. If the winner did not take the contact disposition bonus, they may choose to occupy one of these positions to start. The loser of the contact test can add one 1P position or increase an existing position by 1. After this, the GM may modify an existing position, raising it to a maximum of 5P. They may do this to an occupied position or a neutral one. A position is not an objective: they're won and lost much more easily, since achieving an objective means reducing the enemy's disposition to zero. After positions are marked, the GM determines which of them provide cover. Cover is rated from 1C to 3C, and raise the obstacles for shot opportunities in combat. If the entire battlespace is crowded or cramped, the GM may set a general cover rating for the whole field. Occupying a position requires a successful Advance maneuver, and doing so temporarily adds its rating to the unit's disposition. This value is lost if the unit abandons the position, or if its disposition is reduced by the position's value. To engage an unit in Close Combat, the attackers must advance into their position or be defending from an enemy closing in: either both sides benefit from cover or none do in this case. An unit that Withdraws, Flanks or fails to Advance is considered to be in 'no man's land' and may be engaged in Close Combat by any unit that has no intervening positions between them. However, as long as the unit continues Advancing into the position, the successes are saved until the maneuver is successful: this is useful when a position is far away, which is represented by giving it a large position value. Distances are pretty abstract. Still, an unit must move from position to position, no leap frogging all over the field to occupy a place on the other side.

Vaylen please.

Range is abstract as well. We're given some numbers, but mostly to keep the action right in our heads. Close combat happens at 20m or less, most infantry engagements are fought at 200-1000 meters, vehicular Firefights range up to 50 kilometers, and space Firefights happen across thousands of kilometers. Weapons are divided in five categories, from longer to shorter range: Artillery, Vehicular Weapons, Squad Support Weapons, Assault Weapons and Close Combat Weapons. A side that wins contact and has weaponry in a longer range category than the loser, they may declare Range Superiority: +1D to Direct Fire and Suppressive Fire for each rank of range they have on the opposition. A successful Advance or Flank denies this advantage, however.

Once the battlefield is set, each unit's leader privately notes their actions. Like in the Duel of Wits, FIrefight plays across three-volley exchanges. As an optional rule, the side that finishes noting their actions first gains +1D to their first volley, but the GM should not use this rule to punish inexperienced players. Each maneuver can have special requirements, unit action (what is actually rolled for the maneuver to succeed), success allocation and individual action (what individual members of the unit may do on a success, not all maneuvers have individual action) Help for unit actions may only come from members of the same unit.

The actions are:

  • Advance (Command, with help from the vehicle's pilot if applicable): This is used to close ground with the enemy or take up a new position. Against versus actions, the leader must win by the value of the position they try to occupy. Against independent actions the obstacle is 1 plus the value of the position. After occupying a position, extra successes may degrade the enemy disposition in a 2-1 ratio. If the action is a tie, an individual member may test a tiebreaker skill (something to do with movement, like Physical Training, Zero G or Drive) against the opponent's individual action test or their unit action's skill at its root stat. The winner counts as winning the unit action by the margin of success.
  • Close Combat (Tactics or Command): This is used to bring pistols, grenades, claws, fists and so on to bear. It requires that the unit gets into the same position as the enemy, have the enemy attempt an Advance on them or be caught out in no man's land. If the Close Combat plays out and these conditions are not met, the unit hesitates for the volley. Against independent actions, its obstacle is 2. Generally both sides lose disposition in Close Combat: divide the margin of success from the unit action. If unequal or 1, the greater amount is assigned to the loser of the unit action, otherwise they're split evenly. Each unit loses that much disposition. All characters in each unit may then choose a Close Combat individual action in private.
  • Direct Fire (Tactics or Command) Pew pew. In order to use this action, the unit must have Observed the target unit in a previous volley. If the Direct Fire triggers without a successful Observe, the unit hesitates. The obstacle for independent tests is 2. In versus tests, each extra success buys one shot opportunity or specialist action. In independent tests, meeting the obstacle earns one shot opportunity, then extra successes can be spent. Once all members of the unit have been given a shot opportunity, extra successes may be used to grant them +1D advantage each for shooting. Also, the unit's leader may not shoot until everyone else has. The team targeted by Direct Fire may choose which characters take the hits. A character with a shot opportunity may then fire on the target with an obstacle of 2 + cover. If the shooter meets the obstacle, they hit. Alternatively, they may use a specialist action. Incapacitating a member of an unit degrades their disposition in 1 per casualty, and if the member was the source of a disposition bonus (the radioman that gives Superior Comms, for instance) they lose that too.
  • Flank (Tactics, with help from the vehicle's pilot if applicable) The unit maneuvers to hit the enemy from a side. All positions are abandoned once a Flank is played. Against Take Cover, it is obstacle 1. Against Direct Fire, Ob 2. Against Rally, Ob 3. The margin of success is subtracted from the enemy unit's disposition. Alternatively, the player may spend up to three successes to gain +1D each for a subsequent Direct Fire or Suppressive Fire. They may also buy specialist actions. On a tie, an individual member may attempt to break the tie as in Advance.
  • Observe (Observation, Psychology, Signals, Sensors, Hunting) The unit spots enemies on the move before they complete their maneuver and locates firing units as they fire. Ob 2 against independent actions. If successful, the unit may Direct Fire at the target.
  • Rally and Regroup (Command, Psychology) The leader rallies brings a character that failed their Steel test into the fight. Ob 2 if the character failed a Steel test due to Suppressive Fire, Ob 3 if the character failed due to an Injury, Ob 4 if the character was Maimed. The leader must rally troops individually. They may attempt to rally as many troops as they want, but each cowering soldier can only be rallied once per Firefight. If successful, disposition points lost due to hesitating characters are restored.
  • Suppressive Fire (Tactics) Lay down lead downrange and keep their heads down. Suppressive Fire successes are subtracted from the enemy action's successes in a versus test. If it's independent, the obstacle is 1. Squad Support Weapons, Vehicular Weapons and Artillery give +1D to Suppressive Fire. Grenades can be used if appropriate for +1D, and allow the use of Explosives or Close Combat in a shot opportunity. Extra successes can be used to force Steel tests on the enemy unit (1 success, suppressing unit chooses who has to make the test in the target unit), degrade enemy disposition by one point (2 successes), reduce enemy cover in one step (2 successes), increase the obstacle of the next enemy action by 1 (2 successes), purchase shot opportunities (3 successes, no advantage dice) and purchase specialist actions (1 success) as in Direct Fire.
  • Take Cover (Command, Infiltration, Helm, Pilot, Driving) The unit gets out of harm's way. Its successes subtract from versus actions. If played as an independent maneuver, it is an Ob 1 test. If more successes than needed are generated, the unit may dig in, adding them to their position's cover rating, or they can be spent on specialist actions.
  • Withdraw (Tactics, Command, with help from the vehicle's pilot if applicable) The unit withdraws and attempts to draw the enemy out of their position. Against another Withdraw, it is Ob 1. Against Take Cover, Ob 2. Against Rally, Ob 3. Against Direct Fire, Ob 4. If the unit had been Observed by the enemy, they lose their Observe and must perform it again to fire. If the enemy has longer ranged weapons, they gain range superiority. The Withdrawing unit loses any position it had and ends in no man's land. Withdraw subtracts its margin of success from the enemy disposition but also from the withdrawing unit's disposition on a versus roll. On an independent roll, the withdrawing unit loses two disposition and makes the target unit lose up to margin of success. Ties may be broken as in Advance.

WHUMP is never an acceptable SFX for an explosion.

In Close Combat, each character in the involved units must select one of four intents:
  • Hand to Hand Combat: the character dives in. Versus Close Combat test or against Ob 3 if they take an independent action. If it meets the obstacle or wins the versus, it's a hit. If the opponent is incapacitated or killed, their unit loses 1 disposition. This does not stop Weapons Fire, it happens at the same time.
  • Weapons Fire: The character opens fire. Versus Close Combat test or against Ob 2. Non-Close Combat weapons suffer obstacles, from an extra 3 obstacle for Assault Weapons and only growing as the weapons become bulkier and more unwieldy. If the Weapons Fire succeeds, it counts as if the character hit their enemy with a shot opportunity in a Direct Fire. As above, killing or incapacitating the target reduces the enemy disposition in 1.
  • Grenades and Bombs: the character uses explosives. If the character wins their versus test, they throw the grenade before the enemy can react. Ob 3 Close Combat roll if both use grenades.
  • Overbear: the character attempts to knock down and disarm an opponent with minimal harm. Versus Close Combat test, Power test to break off ties. In an independent test, its obstacle is the target's Close Combat skil exponent. Margin of success is applied to the loser's next Close Combat action, but if the Overbearing character adds an obstacle to their own roll equal to the target's Speed or Power (whichever's lower) then they pin and capture the target.

PUNT is... I guess it's alright for an underslung rocket grenade launcher?

Isn't this too much of an overkill system? Sometimes you just want to punch a guy. Some times you just want to Corner Him And Stab Him In The Face. For violent conflict that doesn't require a Firefight, usually because both characters are in each other's faces, you use these rules. I Corner Him And Stab Him In The Face comes in two flavors: the first one is a simple Close Combat action, one roll only. Intent is stated, the roll is made, and that's it. The fight is over. This counts as a building scene, and requires some sort of lead-in in the form of a previous test in which the attacker corners the target, or similar. If the fight requires something more than a single roll, I Corner Him And Stab Him In The Face can be run as a mini-Firefight. This counts as a regular conflict scene. An objective, a map and a few positions and cover are set. No contact roll, officers use Close Combat instead of Command for actions, and the only possible actions are Advance, Withdraw and Close Combat. I Corner Him And Stab Him In The Face can be chosen as a full concession in a Duel of Wits that was lost - the losing side can demand to get close enough to take a shot at the opposition.

We've mentioned specialist actions before. A character taking one can't do anything else during that volley. Multiple specialist actions can be bought for an unit's members, but only one of each type may be played each volley. They are:

  • Medic!: roll Surgery or Field Dressing to patch up a fallen comrade.
  • Signals Warfare: the character must have the Signals skill and signals tech capable of a degree of automation. Make a versus test against the enemy's Signals operator, or at Ob 2 if they don't have one. If you win by 1 success, the Superior Comms disposition bonus is lost for both sides. If you win by two, the enemy loses Superior Comms and you get it. If you win by three, in addition to the bonus you jam the enemy communications, which means characters in the target unit can't help each other unless they're physically next to each other. On a tie or loss, the Superior Comms bonus remains where it is. Higher index tech gives bonuses to this roll.
  • Demolitions: roll Explosives to destroy a position occupied by the unit. The obstacle is twice the value of the place. If successful, it is gone and has no further value. It is also possible to mine the location (Ob 3). Extra successes increase the obstacle of an Advance to take the position, and if that Advance fails the unit gets hit by explosives. The target unit may choose which of its characters gets hit.
  • Sensor Sweep: roll Sensors + target profile to detect vehicles and iron. Iron counts as having a profile of 0. The opposing side tests Signals plus any relevant help, or Helm/Pilot/Drive plus relevant help if they're trying to take evasive action. On a win, the sweeping unit gets +1D to their next Observe, Suppressive Fire or Direct Fire.
  • Psychology: the psychologist may use their Boost power, offer a connection or Lock a connection. They may not engage in a psychic duel. More on these on the Psychology rules.
  • Security Warfare: when fighting in installations or vehicles with Security systems, a successful Ob 3 Security test allows the Security skill to be used as Observation for the rest of the Firefight. Or it may be used to hack the security network (Ob is the security system's advantage dice, or 1 if it has none) in which case it can no longer be used to Observe.
  • Damage Report: roll Fire Control or Jury-Rigging to patch up a damaged vehicle or ship. Repair must be used after a Firefight, during a building scene.

Haha gently caress no guy you stay here and fight the murderbears

A few tidbits: a character forced to take a Steel test (due to getting hit, taking suppressive fire, etc.) and losing it by less than half of their hesitation can't act on their next volley, and their contribution to their disposition is set to zero for one volley. If this reduces the unit's disposition to zero, they're out of combat. If they fail for more than half of their hesitation, they won't return to fight until they're successfully Rallied. If it's the unit's commander, the second in command may assume control, or the unit's members will have to pick a new leader on the spot. When shooting at an unit, all shots must be divided across their members: all of them must take at least one shot before the target unit's controller may double up. This must be done before rolling for damage. Any unit may surrender at any time before the volley's actions are revealed, in which case they're at the mercy of their opponents. Any trickery on their part has to wait until after the Firefight is done. The captors may, of course, choose to execute everyone on the spot - roll a die for each character, and on a natural 1 they are Maimed, but survive without their captors' knowledge. Similar to Duel of Wits, a side can't be forced into a Firefight: they may always cut and run before the battle is joined, in which case the other side may elect to chase them (treat as a building scene), and if they win then the escapees are forced into the Firefight. But you just said you can't be forced into one! Oh well. If a side cuts and runs from an objective they're defending, they give it up without a fight. But once objectives are declared and initial rolls are made, cutting and running are treated as surrender. Oh, and ambushes are treated as an Infiltration vs Observation or Signals test as a building roll prior to the fight: if this roll is won, the ambushers get Superior Position, and if it and the initial contact roll are won then their unit gets a free Direct Fire on the enemy.


As mentioned before, it's possible for units to involve lots of members, hundreds or even thousands of soldiers. The commander is always the focal point of the action, the one making the unit action, Steel and ammo check tests. The individual or specialist tests are made by the soldiers under their command. Generally, in a moderately sized battle, an NPC soldier that takes an Injury is down and out of the unit's disposition, but in really massive battles it only takes any form of hit to do them in, no damage or Steel rolls necessary. The basic scale of the Direct Fire action is for units of five people/guns/ships, and as more members are involved so does the scale grow. This is just for color, it doesn't affect the underlying mechanics, but it does mean that one 'shot' in a big fuckfest can actually be five well-placed rounds on enemy heads. Still, numbers do count: units with the Outnumber or Outnumber by Vast Margin bonus deal more damage to enemy disposition. And then there's a page that says that if you're confused and feel the Firefight is a messy fuckfest, then that's the entire point of the rules. Fog of war, the chaos of battle, it all conspires to keep people from having full information. Sure, okay.

Some notes on multiple units per side in combat: everyone reveals their actions at the same time. Targets are chosen after the actions are announced. If two units use versus actions against another one, then they must negotiate which unit actually takes the action: the other one will help them with it. If you have one unit Advancing on the enemy position and another laying Suppressive Fire, then it may happen that the Advance is actually rolled for while the other unit helps by keeping the bad guys' heads down. Same if they're using two independent actions against the same team. They may act independently if they have actions against separate targets.


Weapons! I think I would've liked this chapter in the Technology Burner instead of the Firefight section. As far as BE is concerned, a weapon is a piece of tech that has the Weapon trait. This gives it a classification and an ammunition type, as well as a number of weapons-only technological traits. The classifications are Close Combat, Assault, Squad Support, Vehicular, Artillery and Explosives. Each weapon has a particular damage potential, divided in Incidental, Mark and Superb ratings. For instance, our Inquisitor's handgun deals H4/H7/H10, while our poet's blade deals H5-H10-H15. When hitting with a weapon, roll a die (the Die of Fate), and compare with a small table to see how much they hurt the victim. Damage can be on the human scale, the vehicular scale and the superstructural scale: we'll talk about this when we get to injuries. Successes over the obstacle raise the Die of Fate roll: the better you hit, the more damage you deal. One extra success gives +1 to the DoF, doubling the obstacle gives +2, and tripling the obstacle gives +3. Weapons have funky names like CEBW ('chebu', Coherent-Energy Beam Weapon) and SCrEW (Sub-Critical Energy Weapon) The ammunition capacities, from smaller to larger are single-shot , capacitor, magazine, case, power pack and engine. After an exchange of Firefight where the Direct Fire, Suppressive Fire or Close Combat Weapons Fire or Grenades action were used, every character makes a skill roll depending on the weapon they're using. This is an ammo check. The obstacle starts at 1 and is increased depending on the number of orders executed, how many shot opportunities they had, etc. This obstacle doesn't reset across exchanges until the character fails, so it gets harder and harder to conserve ammunition. Weapons with a larger ammo capacity give +1D to this check per rank of difference. When the ammo check is failed, the character may not use the weapon on the next volley's Direct Fire, Suppressive Fire or Close Combat Weapons Fire. If no such order takes place, they may just reload the weapon with no further penalty. If for some gods-forsaken reason you're tracking individual magazines, then it means one is burned off. A specialist action can be used to reload, or the character may switch to a secondary weapon to keep shooting. Weapons that overheat, like lasers with power packs, can be pushed: forced to fire after an ammo check, but if a second ammo check is lost the character takes an H7 wound and the weapon is rendered useless. After a particularly intense volley in which both sides have discharged their weapons, any character may call for an ammo check then and there by spending one fate point. Generally, ammo checks are made by individuals, but people can potentially help each other when dealing with squad support weaponry and other big guns. Close combat weapons have a fixed IMS like all others, but the damage is affected by Power: at Power 3 or less, the DoF gets -1. At Power 6 or 7, it gets +1, and at Power 8 it gets +2. An unarmed attack has an IMS of half the Power rounded up/Power/Power times 1.5, which means that a Power 8 Mukhadish is in fact better off laying down the law barehanded than armed with a sword or rock.

loving murderbears, seriously. Mooks should never be this disturbing. READ SHEVA'S WAR.

Injury! Each character has a Physical Tolerances Scale. There are three scales of tolerance, like damage: Human, Vehicular and Superstructural. Characters only have human tolerances. Some objects are also only as tough as a person. Damage from a vehicular-scale weapon will destroy anything with human tolerances, and damage from a superstructural weapon will destroy anything with human or vehicular tolerances. A character's tolerance scale is divided in four sections. Superficially Wounded, Injured, Maimed and Mortal Wound. Once a hit is taken and the DoF is rolled, mark the damage on the character's sheet. Each new wound is its own entity, they aren't added together. Wounds impose wound penalties that may last a single scene, all the way to the whole phase or even further. Superficial wounds are small things that cause eye-watering pain but quickly fade. A single Superficial does nothing, two count as an Injury and deal -1D. They disappear at the end of a scene if they aren't compounded into an Injury. Injuries are bad burns, fractures, broken noses and such. -1D. Maimed results are shattered bones, internal bleeding, third degree burns, the works. -3D. Mortal Wounds are that, mortal - the character is down. Wounds that are less than Superficial don't count for anything, and wounds on or over the Mortal Wound are fatal.

CHOOF? Moeller, come on, that's--- okay I'm not gonna front, this art is loving gorgeous.

Wounded dice are subtracted from stats, Skills and Steel. A skill reduced to zero by wound penalties can't be used by the character: it can't be rolled, used to help or FoRKed. A stat reduced to zero means that the character is incapacitated or unconscious. Any time a character takes -1D or more of wounds, test Steel (with the penalty thrown in before the roll), and on a fail the character hesitates. When a character takes a Mortal Wound, they go down instantly, and then they either die on the spot or, by spending one persona point, they hold on to life and have a minimal chance of recovery. Three Injuries cause a Maimed result. A Maimed result that isn't treated in the next building scene progresses to a Mortal Wound. A Mortal Wound must be treated on the spot, or else. To treat a wound, test Field Dressing or Surgery (the latter skill has easier obstacles, but it's harder to get). Successful Treatment stops the bleeding to begin with. Extra successes can be added as advantage dice to recovery. If a player believes their character isn't competent enough, they may try to staunch the blood flow (-1 to Obstacle), which gives the wounded character another scene before they start bleeding out. Recovery is a Forte test after treatment. Superficial wounds don't require recovery. An Injury is an Ob 2 test, or Ob 3 for two Injuries. If successful, the wounded dice are restored. If failed, the character gets a new trait that reduces 1D of a skill permanently, increases hesitation in 1 or future obstacles in 1. The player may choose the skill, but no -wises. The trait can be something like Old War Wound, Missing Finger, Jumpy, etc. A Maimed wound is an Ob 4 test to recover. On a failure, the character gets the Maimed trait, and lose 3D: at least 1D from a stat, then the other two from non-wise skills. The maximum cap of the damaged stat is also reduced in one. Maimed damage takes two maneuvers or downtime to heal completely.

It's just a Superficial!

On a Mortal Wound, the Forte obstacle is 6. Then: if treatment and recovery succeeded, the wound heals as a Maimed wound. If treatment succeeds and recovery fails, the character gets a "Nearly Died At X" trait where X is where they took the hit, and the margin of failure is subtracted from their stats. If treatment fails but recovery is successful, they gain the "They Never Put Me Back Together Right" trait and lose 1D from a stat and two from skills of the player's choosing, and also see their Mortal Wound tolerance reduced in one. They may come back after two maneuvers or downtime. If both treatment and recovery fail, the character dies for good.

"Did the boss blew himself up with his own plasma pistol?" "Yeah, he did." "Again?" "Yeah, again."

Next: still 100 pages left yo

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
I was in a group that tried to run an apparently modified Bill in Three Parts here on the forums, and the result was frustrating all around. The GM expected us to be a lot more proactive than we were, but we had no idea what we were supposed to do, or how. It really didn't help that we got pinned down in the grocery store and lost a PC (blew a Stress check, ran for it, and got splattered by a shotgun blast) and then lost that part of the scenario. We met Bill the Fleshbender and Chester the Molester, already leery of violence, but Bill was in no mood for conversation. We killed him by accident after he painted a room in shades of cop, but when we got to the cult standoff scenario we just stared at each other in bafflement.

With some work on exposing the gears, I think it's an adventure that'd work better for experienced Street-level characters, or starting Global ones. You've got two scenarios involving people with guns, one with a guy who does his own squib effects, and the Compte playing universal tech support supervisor. That's not going to play nicely with a group of PCs that were probably pretty normal before things went down, or players who are probably only slightly more with-it.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

Presumably the easiest way to deal with that scenario is just to shoot each Bill at soon as you see them. Fixes the problem in one action and since you get teleported out immediately you don't have to deal with the corpse etc.

Sep 27, 2012

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

Bieeardo posted:

I was in a group that tried to run an apparently modified Bill in Three Parts here on the forums, and the result was frustrating all around. The GM expected us to be a lot more proactive than we were, but we had no idea what we were supposed to do, or how. It really didn't help that we got pinned down in the grocery store and lost a PC (blew a Stress check, ran for it, and got splattered by a shotgun blast) and then lost that part of the scenario. We met Bill the Fleshbender and Chester the Molester, already leery of violence, but Bill was in no mood for conversation. We killed him by accident after he painted a room in shades of cop, but when we got to the cult standoff scenario we just stared at each other in bafflement.

With some work on exposing the gears, I think it's an adventure that'd work better for experienced Street-level characters, or starting Global ones. You've got two scenarios involving people with guns, one with a guy who does his own squib effects, and the Compte playing universal tech support supervisor. That's not going to play nicely with a group of PCs that were probably pretty normal before things went down, or players who are probably only slightly more with-it.

I was actually thinking about stealing the basic setup (of the guy whose timeline split in three parts, not the Comte or the railroady teleportation bits) for a Mage: The Awakening game, because there at least even if the PCs have no clue what's happening they're better equipped to poke the situation with a stick.

Dec 30, 2010

Another 1? Aww man...
One idea I had to make the scenario work better would be to just go Run Lola Run with it; you repeat each scenario after failure until you succeed in keeping Bill from getting on the road. I think this'd fix up some of the problems, like the obtuseness of each scenario and what you're supposed to do. Instead of being frustrating and bullshit, it becomes a feature: repetitions allow you to learn more what's going on and experiment with new plans. It also specifically works well with the 3rd scenario's potential ending of Bill escaping in the ambulance: the PCs get him winged and watch as he's loaded into the ambulance, then find themselves back at the trailer park entrance again and have to figure out 'wait, what did we do wrong?' This also gives the added aspect of seeing how long it takes before someone gets fed up and just tries to Kill Bill(s). It still probably doesn't work as an introductory 'you are new to this world' adventure, though. Honestly, it seems like a good plot for some 'timeline police' game, rather than UA. At least to me, Pinfeathers' resolution seems better at being 'magic's got rules, and those rules are byzantine and can lead to some real strange poo poo', which is better than the just 'poo poo's weird!' A Bill In Three Parts seems to be, as far as oriongates's write-up indicates.

I just still love the idea of a man who splits into three of himself, and is still cosmically unlucky enough to wind up in three lovely situations at the exact same time.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
I think those are fantastic ideas, because I still think it's a cool, weird scenario despite my own frustrating experiences.

Tweaking things to include PC Obsessions in some way might help with motivation issues too.

Jun 4, 2013

While we're on the subject of UA scenarios, I know Jailbreak is online, and it's pretty neat. It's about these escaped convicts who turn an old man's farmhouse into a crazy hostage situation. They can't leave because of the hail outside, but as they explore the house, they start to uncover some of the skeletons the old man's got hidden in his closets. So you've got a bunch of convicts with a gun and an old man with some dark secrets, then you add the policeman they're carrying with them, a lawyer they picked up along the way, a girl into yoga who can also see auras, a bunch of potential weapons and horrors scattered throughout the house, and the occasional thump, thump coming from the attic, and you've got the makings of a perfect little disaster.

Have other people read Jailbreak? What did you think of it? (I think it got mentioned earlier in the thread, too.)

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
I really like the twist in Jailbreak, it's a lovely bit of :wtf: that springs out of nowhere and turns everything on its ear. It's the number of characters and the expectation that the players would be divided between antagonists and victims left me unsure if I'd really want to play it... but I'm used to small groups of borderline murderhobos when I play off-line.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

Jailbreak was my into to UA, and you can see how well that worked. I played the mother, who healed everyone with band-aids. Even if you removed the supernatural elements the freeform skills make it fun.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
Jailbreak is an excellent adventure and a great example of the sorts of fraught tension you can create by sticking a bunch of conflicting personalities into an enclosed space and giving them a single gun.

Personally, I think it'd be great to look at To Go which was the only full book-length adventure published for Unknown Armies. It's a sprawling road trip across America as the PCs try to chase down seven fragments of cosmic power before anyone else can I remember it being pretty decent.

Mar 30, 2012
"Joy and Sorrow" is a really interesting one-shot adventure that I always thought would be good at a con. The PCs are people living in a suburban gated community, at various completely mundane low points in their lives, and end up drawn into a sort of magical realist melodrama that really invites you into the psyche of this pregen character you've been handed. It's exciting and thematically very Unknown Armies in the way that it grounds the magical in personal, human motivations and obsessions, but there are no Adepts or Avatars or really much dice rolling.

Nov 18, 2008

Getting back to the Dark Eye, I think the Blackguards games are set in the world. The first game was a little meh, the second is very good, at least from where I'm standing.

DNA Cowboys
Feb 22, 2012

I recently read Robin Laws' Dreamhounds of Paris. It's like Unknown Armies in that I'd be intimidated to run it. The game is filled with beautiful, disturbing ideas about art's interactions with dreams and society. It's also about socially awkward artists ruining everything, the Order/Freedom/Autocracy clash of the 20th century, and cosmic nihilism. Most relevant to the interests of this thread, perhaps, it also features this NPC:

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

That sounds like a Danger 5 character.
I've long been intrigued by Dreamhounds of Paris. How accessible is it to non-gamers? I know people who love the time period and the art scene but who haven't played any RPGs.


Nov 26, 2008

Lipstick Apathy

Count Chocula posted:

That sounds like a Danger 5 character.
I've long been intrigued by Dreamhounds of Paris. How accessible is it to non-gamers? I know people who love the time period and the art scene but who haven't played any RPGs.

Gumshoe is a pretty rules light, narrative focused system that is easy to learn but Dreamhounds is super ambitious. You would really have to modify it to play it with non-RPG people because it's incredibly high concept for even experienced gamers.

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