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Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!
Better Than Any Man Dungeon 6: Goblin Hill-Bürgerfriedensmiliz Headquarters



This armed compound serves multiple functions as a military fortress, "re-education center," and worship center for the Insect God. As mentioned in the Caverns, there is a secret entrance via the latrine. Otherwise the only direct route is through the front gates on the other side of Goblin Hill (room 1).

Several hundred milizionäre live here at this time. Excepting the few named NPCs, they're all 0 level humans with short swords and no armor. However, the barracks and armory have equipment suitable for soldiers. Unlike their counterparts in Karlstadt, most are trained in lethal combat and willing to kill to protect their fortress.

Going in the normal way is difficult. The front door (room 1) is continuously guarded by sentries, there are several murder holes (rooms 2) to shoot enemy intruders, and the hallways nearby are narrow choke-points and wire-framed alcoves (rooms 3) which can be blocked from passage via the raising of metal bars.

There's 29 rooms in total. I'm not going to cover all of them (quite a bit are mundane living quarters and storerooms), just the ones of particular interest and note.

Rooms 7 and 8 are the bedroom and workshop of the Engineer. Adeltraud Teschendorff is a mechanical genius and Insect God worshiper recruited by the Mother. The workshop is full of various clockwork devices, and given enough time she can don a clockwork suit of armor which is treated as an individual monster and has a Death Ray attack. Also aiding her are 3 automatons in combat.

quote:

The Automatons: Armor 22, 2 Hit Dice, Movement 30’, 1 bash attack doing 1d6 damage, Morale 12. Every hit against an automaton damages its functionality, giving it a -1 penalty to hit.

The Exo-Suit: Armor 20, 3 Hit Dice, Movement 30’, 1 bash attack doing 1d6 damage or 1 death ray attack (range 120’) doing 1d10 damage (can fire once every 10 rounds), Morale 12.

The Engineer: Armor 12, Level 0, Movement 120’, 1 dagger attack doing 1d4 damage, Morale 7.

Grossly high armor class for 4 opponents, but their hit dice is pretty low. Still feels pretty overkill to me.

The Engineer's inventions in progress are very advanced: land mines, a steam engine, and a sound recording machine (basically a record player). They have working notes and material, but will take time to make fully functional. None of them work correctly or as intended: the land mines are meant to be a timed explosion but explode immediately when primed, the steam engine just makes steam and will blow up if left on for too long, and the sound recording machine actually absorbs sound transmitted through the horn to be played back later. If the sound is played in reverse, it will Summon a random extraplanar monster.

The treasury, room 9, has only two guards, and has a shitload of treasure:

quote:

The followers of the Insect God are preparing to rule, and rulership requires funds. This room contains 25 chests, each
containing 1d100x10sp.
Two milizionäre with whistles guard
the door, which is kept locked.

Now that's a lot of potential treasure. Keep in mind that in LotFP, thereare no Bags of Holding or extradimensional safe spaces, and no market for magic items. However, LotFP uses the "treasure as experience" rule, on a 1 silver piece for 1 experience point basis once the PCs get back to civilization and spend/save their loot (it's expected that players will gain most of their experience this way). To get to 4th level, a total of 6,000-9,000 experience (depending upon class) is required. On average the combined lot should net 6,750 silver divided by the PCs present.

I just realized that there are several opportunities for PCs to level up quickly. The ruby ant statue alone should be enough to push PCs past Level 4.

Rooms 13-15 are the barracks. Most milizionäre here are unarmed noncombatants, such as children and their caretakers. The rooms, even those for the elite, are spartan and designed completely for functionality, in line with the Insect God’s aims:

quote:

The ultimate goal that the Insect God has for humanity is to wipe out the vast majority of them, leaving a scant few to perform various tasks that insects are unable to, and to be breeding stock for food. Towards that end humanity must be domesticated and conditioned to suppress individuality and ambition. The living conditions of the average Insect God worshipper reflects this goal, even if most of the time the average worshipper does not seem any different than the average person.

These barracks are spartanly furnished and absolutely packed tight. Each room contains sleeping areas for 100 people (men, women, and children are not separated) in beds stacked three high.

Note that even though masses of men and women live together, and there are children, sexual desire is being suppressed through various means of conditioning and this has been so successful that The Voice leads breeding exercises twice a month (in the dining hall) to promote reproduction, and no one looks forward to them. For now, only those old enough to be considered of a socially acceptable breeding age in the outside world is made to attend, but the eventual goal is to start breeding at puberty once pretense and secret co-existence with the outside world has been abandoned.

Kind of makes me wonder how many of the cultists are aware of their future fate. On a related note, I haven’t found any in-character incentive for the Mother and her cult on what they gain out of servitude. Guess it’s just meant to be a flat villain in the “evil cthulhoid cult” vein. I can get behind that ordinarily, but it feels odd considering that the motivations and backstories for the other power players (the Seven, the Prince-Bishop) are more understandable and nuanced.

Rooms 17-19 are the domain of the Voice. Not one of the Seven, Ottilie Trautvetter is an alchemist from Hamburg and drifter who tried to rob the Mother while in Karlstadt. In an attempt to intimidate her, the Mother let slip that she was a devotee to the Insect God, and Ottilie convinced her that she was one of the faithful. Now she performs various experiments for the cult, from alchemy to crossbreeding monstrous insects with animals. She is a 0 level human with a giant bee stinger as a weapon.



Room 18's the Birthing Chamber, and the Voice is in the middle of breeding Giant Horseflies with horses to make the perfect mounts for the cult. She has an alchemical mixture which can induce cross-species fertility, and has been successful. A horse gave birth to 5 hybrids, which have eaten their mother. They'll attack the PCs and try to escape; if successful, they'll breed outside and spread their numbers over the years.

Room 19 is her private chamber. In addition to roasted human flesh (she's a cannibal, too!) and a small Insect God altar, there are 5 trapped chests with loot. One of the more interesting treasures is a set of books:

quote:

Chest #1: The trap is an electric current that surges through the inner frame of the chest. Any metal object stuck in the keyhole or smashing the chest will trigger the trap. The person holding the item will take 2d6 points of damage, half if he saves versus Breath Weapon. Inside the chest is a metal jar full of fireflies (supplying the charge!), and a sack full of books. The books are scholarly works written in Arabic about the strengthening effects of eating human flesh. The books will take 5d4 days of uninterrupted reading to finish, and the end result is that the reader will believe they have the information to gain ability score bonuses after consuming a diet of flesh for at least ten straight days. If anybody actually follows this course of action, bad news, it will not actually do anything. Just because it is written in Arabic does not mean that the author is not crazy.

quote:

Chest #3: The trap is a rust-causing gas contained in an empty compartment in the top of the chest. The ruddy brown gas will fill up the room and every metal item will corrode and become useless (not the insides of the chests as they are airtight), and human flesh will turn a bright cherry red for 24 hours. Inside this chest is a small totem of the Insect God made of wicker, tin, and dried offal. It is worthless to anyone other than disciples of the Insect God…

I guess we can add "trolling the PCs" to Save or Dies and uber-powerful monsters for avenues of player aggravation.

There's also rules for mixing chemical ingredients in the Voice's workshop (room 17), in case the PCs want to mess around with her research. The Voice has been using stone shards from a meteor in her alchemy, which bestows an additional effect on the right-hand table.



As you can tell, the negatives outweigh the positives, but Raggi notes that if anyone complains, tell them that messing around in a cultist's laboratory isn't something they should do in the future. Sometimes I wonder if he's one of those Killer DMs...

Room 23 is the kitchen:

quote:

There will always be half a dozen chefs here going about their work, and often several others, including children,) looking for scraps and treats.

The kitchen’s primary output is human meat, and the staff do their best when supplied with fresh livestock, both “pre-processed” in the torture chamber and raw specimens—each is used for different dishes, although they do realize the importance of fruits and vegetables and grains. As a result, this place does not so much resemble a kitchen as it does a slaughterhouse and barbeque pit. Thus the kitchen is the one place where the Insect God’s followers’ threat to human life and stability is on clear display.

The illustration on the next spread is just an example of what goes on here. The Referee should push hard to create a gross, cruel-spirited description of the place. There’s no “sanity mechanic” in LotFP; it is up to the Referee to blur the lines for the players at the table between “I’m your friend presenting this fictional situation” and “I’m getting a little too into this description, is everyone’s skin crawling yet? No? We’ll let me tell them about what’s going on with eyeballs…”

Rafael Chandler (of Scorn: The First Book of Pandemonium and Teratic Tome fame) suggests: “Suffering is most intense (to the audience) when the victim is singular and humanized and trying to avoid the pain. So the Referee might start to describe such scenes by noting the actions/words/plight of a single victim before zooming out (so to speak) to address the tableau in its entirety.”

It is here where the Insect God’s worshippers stop being generic fantasy threats and start being the truly despicable villains needing to be wiped out that they are.

The accompanying image is a full-page illustration of the kitchen; dead naked human bodies, including one baby corpse, are hanging from the ceiling. Two people pull entrails out of the adult bodies as children hold their hands out under them to catch the blood as though to eat it. A dead woman is rotated on a burning spit roast while cultists haul dismembered limbs to a giant stew pot.

This is one of those times I feel that Raggis is trying too hard. I get the whole cannibalism thing, but it's just thrown in there with no prior explanation. The whole thing is obvious shock value.

The last four chambers (26-29) are the Mother's quarters. 26 is the throne room, where she will make a last stand if the complex is invaded; 27 is the guard chamber, where her servitor creature usually is; 28 holds the Telling Mirror, a magic item which will answer any question posed to it so long as it's specific and begun with "mirror, mirror, on the wall." 29 is her personal bedchambers, containing her personal funds and the Maker's spellbook along with her head on a silver platter.

The Mother's room is actually located over an open space in the caverns, which lead down into the Realm of the Insect God. The spirits of those who perished below haunt her dreams, encouraging her to expand her power. The spirits want someone to set them free by digging into the earth, but she's crazy and misinterprets their messages to "invade outward" instead of inward. Nobody in the Insect God cult knows of this cave or its connection to their deity's realm.

If there is no combat, the spirits will speak to a single PC, begging them to set them free and to dig below the earth. It will take several hours of digging for several humans to make their way to the underground passage, which is Room 1 of the Realm of the Insect God.

Thoughts so far: A heavily-defended complex, this is the cult's center of power. The PCs could take out the Mother, and the Swedish Army will kill everyone within the headquarters on days 9-11, but unless the ruby ant statue is found and broken, the Insect God will still be around and can contact others.

Next time, the Grand Finale, the Realm of the Insect God!

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
I have to wonder what's in it for adventurers to be adventurers in Raggi's... adventures. Idiocy? Masochism? Suicide pacts?

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine
The DM's Word, which is obviously law.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
In any case, I'm not terribly convinced that the cultists of the Insect God "stop being generic fantasy threats". Worshippers of a god trying to take control of his world with its demonic insect minions? Yeah, really breaking that mold. :mad:

It's disappointing because the "villains" start out feeling rather nuanced and then it seems to really focus laser-like on this apocalypse cult, which doesn't have much to do with the plot save to offer up dungeons, as far as I can tell. Smart PCs would just wait for the army to march through and then clean that poo poo up afterwards... but I guess you don't earn as much XP that way.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I have to wonder what's in it for adventurers to be adventurers in Raggi's... adventures. Idiocy? Masochism? Suicide pacts?

It's implied that in the world of LotFP that nobody really wants to be an adventurer. Clerics are instructed by their church/entity/etc to go out and destroy aberrations, Magic-Users are villified and driven to the fringes of civilization, Fighters are the only true warriors who can slay fell beasts and did a bunch of terrible stuff in the war which makes people feel uneasy around them. Specialists (or 'thieves' in other OSR games) adventure for a living, and the other classes regard them as crazy.

The worlds of LotFP are prettty crappy, tiny pockets of civilization in a sea of monstrous wilderness and eldritch places. And even the places of civilization are tyrannical and insulated places, and PCs are pretty much social outcasts who for one reason or another can't get along with contemporary society.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

In any case, I'm not terribly convinced that the cultists of the Insect God "stop being generic fantasy threats". Worshippers of a god trying to take control of his world with its demonic insect minions? Yeah, really breaking that mold. :mad:

It's disappointing because the "villains" start out feeling rather nuanced and then it seems to really focus laser-like on this apocalypse cult, which doesn't have much to do with the plot save to offer up dungeons, as far as I can tell. Smart PCs would just wait for the army to march through and then clean that poo poo up afterwards... but I guess you don't earn as much XP that way.

Ah, but the Swedes will either collapse the dungeons so that nobody can find it, or they loot much of the treasure. Meaning that the adventure ends once the Swedes finish their massacre.

And the dungeons are a large part of the adventure, in terms of page count and loot/XP. The rest of the plot is just a background. Except for the Seven, who are tangentially connected to the Cult of the Insect God anyway. I think that this is some missing potential. Only 1 of the Seven, the Mother, knows of the cult's true workings, and the adventure does not explore what the witches would do if they too discover its existence. Some of them could make for unlikely allies, such as the Defiler and the Watcher.

Anyway, the final part of the review!

Better Than Any Man Dungeon 7: Goblin Hill-Realm of the Insect God



While still on the mortal plane, this cavern is the domain of a deity. It's been cut off from the outside world for millennia.

quote:

If camping or resting to regain spells within this cavern system, Clerics will be directly contacted by their deity, telling them to “Leave this damned place at once!” No spells will be granted, as this is the domain of another Power. Any time a divination or any informative spell (Detects, etc.) is cast by anyone, instead of the normal effect the spell summons 3d6 spirits of humans being devoured by ghostly insects. The spirits will appear for 2d10 rounds, screaming all the while. Every so often, one of the spirits will see through the veil of death and warn the adventurers to run while they still have their souls…

The warnings are more than just a "here is a dangerous dungeon for PCs to explore!" It really is that lethal. There is no priceless treasures or loot to be obtained here and entering this complex is entirely optional as far as solving Franconia's troubles. If anything fully exploring this complex is actually detrimental to the PCs' goals, for reasons discussed later.

Mundane insects are all over the place, so much that stepping anywhere will kill dozens of them and even opening one's mouth uncovered causes it to be filled to the brim with flying bugs. The only random encounters are 1d6 bugs with 1d6 hit dice, with 12+1d6 Armor and an attack dealing 1d6 damage per 2 hit dice.

Room 1's a cavern with a canoe and four skeletons. The corpses date from the Bronze Age, and the carvings on the walls are scripts from this era. A river (the blue line on the map) travels through much of the cavern, and can be traversed with the boat provided.

Room 2's another cavern inhabited by a tribe of 50 cockroach men. They will attack anyone not traveling on the water. They're very tough for PCs to fight (8 hit dice but attack as 2 hit dice creatures, 18 Armor, bite attack which inflicts random disease).

Room 3's illuminated by a film of material which looks like the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). The light covers every surface, and a giant insect on the cavern's top appears trapped, yearning to break free. If the PCs are foolish enough to break the film, it will form into a giant insect filling up the whole cavern. It's so huge it's attacks count as area attacks and can attack 4 times a round. It is immune to non-magical weapons (none of which the PCs would've found in the adventure), has 21 Armor, 20 hit dice, and can kill itself in a suicide flash attack which blinds people for 2d4 days on a failed save.

Very TPK-worthy, but the PCs have nobody but themselves to blame if they mess around here. Plus the insect can't exit the cavern.

Room 4 is a 500 foot waterfall in the underground stream, which can be climbed down on its sides easily enough if Unencumbered. Traveling via boat moves too fast for the PCs to react. Falling damage is the same as in 3rd Edition (1d6 per 10 feet, maximum 20d6). Another potential TPK.

Room 5 is an unstable section of the dungeon, held up by a giant obsidian ant statue with legs spread out across the cavern. Pieces of the ceiling fall at irregular intervals every so often. If the statue is touched in any way, it will break and bury the PCs under tons of rock.

TPK Count in this dungeon alone: 3.

Room 6 is covered in a brown sticky liquid which falls from the ceiling like rain. It's actually the reformed hemolymph of every insect killed in the world, and drains through the countless cracks in the cavern floor to exit elsewhere and be reborn as new insects. The spirits of trillions of insects live in this cave, and the room has a trap for spellcasters:

quote:

Nevertheless, if any divination or information spells are cast, or if a Cleric attempts to regain his spells after resting here, the intended spell effect does not take place (and/or no spells are granted), and the offender will be overcome by the spirits of ordinary insects invading his psyche. The character must make a saving throw versus Magic, and if successful, he will merely have the mind of some random insect for 2d12 hours. If the save is failed, his mind will have been completely wiped out and replaced (not changed) by that of a mundane insect.

Not a TPK, but a very situational Save or Die. The former scenario is far more likely, as I can't imagine any halfway intelligent party resting in a cavern entirely filled with bug blood.

Room 7's the domain of a 100 foot tall giant, buried up to its neck in earth. Most of its body and brain is infested with insects, and as such its mind has deteriorated into barely sentient insanity.



quote:

The giant has been here for millennia, a captive of the Insect God who thinks it is the god and master of humanity in the same way that the Insect God is the god and master of insects. The giant is the largest and most powerful example of its order, and thus must be the spiritual, mental, and physical leader of its kind. The Insect God therefore believes in its its absolute supremacy over the God of Man, and in each of its children as better than any man.

That's where the adventure gets its name! Unfortunately the giant can't communicate, so there's no real way for the PCs to find this out.

Room 8 is the Lair of the Insect God.



The carcass of a humongous caterpillar edges out from the pond, its visible body over a hundred feet long (and far larger below the water). Insect colonies and intelligent slimes and oozes have hollowed out most of the creature and live within and around it.

Even though the Insect God is missing most of its body and brain, it is still supremely powerful and intelligent, and will immediately establish contact with the PCs.

quote:

The hum will coalesce in the intruders’ minds as a very low-pitched, calm voice. “I have been… waiting…for… you. You
will die… and serve me.” At this point, materializing out of the ambient light, will be the phosphorescent ghosts of monstrous giant insects, with wings and clawed limbs and stinging tails and horrible mandibles.

There are thousands of them, and they will attack everyone present except the most powerful warrior – this one they will ignore. As each party member falls, whether from damage or strength drain, they will transform into a horrid, insectoid abomination like the rest. These things cannot be Turned—they are in the very presence of their god!—and will pursue their prey anywhere within this cavern system.

Once everyone else is transformed, the strongest warrior will then be grappled by the lot of them. This will not drain his strength. He will then be brought before the giant rotting mass.

A dozen insectoids will then sting their captive, laying hundreds of eggs which momentarily hatch. As these creatures deliver incredible agony as they skitter throughout the interior of the warrior’s body (this allows the Insect God to know everything the victim knows, from any distance, even across planes), another insect creature delivers a strange blade made of chitin.

The telepathic voice speaks again. “You will be my servant on the surface world. You will slay all two-legged defilers of planet Earth and claim their souls in my name. You will teach the world to fear me, to worship me, once again. And thus I shall be made whole as at the dawn of time. Go now, my eternal slave.”

With this, the character will be released with the new weapon in his hand, the ghostly insects will fade back into the light, which will itself presently fade, and the dead gargantuan god will once again be silent. The character is now alone, in the dark, but free to go.

Potential TPKs for this dungeon: 5.

The insect ghosts are relatively weak, but they're practically infinite and can't be harmed by physical attacks. The Insect God, on the other hand, is unkillable.

quote:

Insect God: Armor 29, 75 Hit Dice, Movement 0, only takes damage from attacks if the damage roll is 9 or greater, no physical attacks, immune to any mind-affecting spells and poison. Can telepathically communicate with any creature within five miles and read their minds. Can mentally communicate with and control any 6-limbed creature within 220,000 miles. Fails saving throws only on a 1.

The chitin sword given to the last surviving PC grants a +5 bonus on to-hit rolls, sends the souls of defeated opponents to be consumed by the Insect God, and cannot be rid of without a Remove Curse spell. The PC will become murderous, attacking any non-insect or arachnid on a failed save who refuses to convert to the Insect God's worship on the spot. Over the period of ten weeks it will transform the wielder into an upright insect, granting a +1 natural bonus to Armor per week.

There is nothing good to be gained for the PCs to explore this place. If they want to stop the Insect God's awakening, they'd do better destroying the ruby ant statue in the Insect Shrine. And if they want to save Würzburg from the Swedish, they'd kill the Mother in the Headquarters and the rest of the Seven in Karlstadt.

Final Thoughts: I'll start with the good. This adventure is definitely engaging, full of interesting plots and characters, the locales, monsters, and additional items and magic are very creative and unlike many other products out there. James Raggi put a lot of time and effort into making this adventure, and it shows.

And now for the bad. The adventure is way too lethal in way too many places, the randomness of several encounters makes it hard for the DM to plan risk assessment, and a lot of background stuff will be passed over and unknown to the PCs. I also feel that Raggi tries too hard to push the envelope in some areas.

Overall, this adventure is worth it for mining ideas. If you like it, then you'll like Lamentations of the Flame Princess and its extended line of products.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 21:17 on Mar 22, 2014

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
There's something I find revisionist about deathtrap OSR stuff like Lament of the Flame Princess; the whole attitude that games were once three deathtraps per silver coin or the like, because a lot of old D&D adventures don't resemble that sort of play style. Granted, that's the way 1st level play tends to feel (given that just about anything can murder you in one hit), and you have things like the S-series or Grimtooth, but that's just a small section of AD&D's broad canvas. It feels more like a weird exaggeration, a funhouse mirror version of classic fantasy games. With jokes, it could easily be a parody of that style of play.

Ultimately it's kind of a "gotcha!" style of DMing that can be good for a one-shot (the so-called "Dungeoncore" adventures used it well), but I just can't see it as more than a novelty. In my experience it actually pulls away from roleplaying, as the puzzles and dangers become too dangerous to solve through anything other than metagaming and player planning than any genuine in-character reaction, as roleplaying often becomes just a mode you drop into for conversations and gently caress all else.

Yawgmoth
Sep 10, 2003

This post is cursed!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

In my experience it actually pulls away from roleplaying, as the puzzles and dangers become too dangerous to solve through anything other than metagaming and player planning than any genuine in-character reaction, as roleplaying often becomes just a mode you drop into for conversations and gently caress all else.
It also pulls away from roleplaying because when your character is always a half step from being killed to have a tendency to not get attached and thus don't really develop them as a character beyond spinning the wheel of 100 character quirks and sticking one of them to the sheet.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:

Grimey Drawer
The basic problem I see is that a lot of stuff in that last section is really cool and creepy and there is no reason for the PCs to seek out any of it, even at higher levels. It'd be worth cannibalizing and repurposing as a dungeon to actually explore.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Alien Rope Burn posted:

There's something I find revisionist about deathtrap OSR stuff like Lament of the Flame Princess; the whole attitude that games were once three deathtraps per silver coin or the like, because a lot of old D&D adventures don't resemble that sort of play style. Granted, that's the way 1st level play tends to feel (given that just about anything can murder you in one hit), and you have things like the S-series or Grimtooth, but that's just a small section of AD&D's broad canvas. It feels more like a weird exaggeration, a funhouse mirror version of classic fantasy games. With jokes, it could easily be a parody of that style of play.

I think it's more of a mis-remembering of what old gaming was actually like. People get so focused on things like the S-series they start to think that was the default play-style.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Well, it's like the phrase "Nintendo Hard", which is a misnomer considering how many easy, easy NES games there were.

PleasingFungus
Oct 10, 2012
idiot asshole bitch who should fuck off

Alien Rope Burn posted:

There's something I find revisionist about deathtrap OSR stuff like Lament of the Flame Princess; the whole attitude that games were once three deathtraps per silver coin or the like, because a lot of old D&D adventures don't resemble that sort of play style. Granted, that's the way 1st level play tends to feel (given that just about anything can murder you in one hit), and you have things like the S-series or Grimtooth, but that's just a small section of AD&D's broad canvas. It feels more like a weird exaggeration, a funhouse mirror version of classic fantasy games. With jokes, it could easily be a parody of that style of play.

No jokes?

Libertad! posted:

...and the Voice is in the middle of breeding Giant Horseflies with horses to make the perfect mounts for the cult...

I mean, this bit doesn't fit the tone of anything else in the adventure at all, but it's still pretty funny!

On the other hand, I think it does fit perfectly with the adventure that, with all this early focus on the cabal of witches taking power in an otherwise traditional, male-dominated society, the actual reason for the name 'Better Than Any Man' is an incidental, skippable encounter that the players don't actually have the context to understand.

Oops!

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012
Even if it only makes sense if you view the adventure as a text to be read for the enjoyment of the DM rather than something of which all important parts are experienced by the players, the 'Better Than Any Man' thing is weirdly funny enough to work for me. It's like the giant encounter is a delayed punchline to the entire premise that gives that dungeon a gossamer-thin metaphorical connection to the rest of the adventure.

e: obviously it would be better if there was any way to communicate that phrase to the players during the encounter, or you know, gain any information from the giant

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Well, at least the name has more relevance to the adventure than "Lamentations of the Flame Princess" has to do with the game.

Kaja Rainbow
Oct 17, 2012

~Adorable horror~

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Well, at least the name has more relevance to the adventure than "Lamentations of the Flame Princess" has to do with the game.

I honestly like the name because it feels weirdly poetic to me, but that's just judging it as a name on its own merits (and my own strange tastes). I know absolutely nothing about the game other than the name and what I could get the gist of from the adventure writeup here (highly lethal retroclone, something like that).

Now I kinda want to play or read something actually good with a name like that. Probably something with a tragic mood, focusing on the struggles of the Flame Princess to reclaim what's hers. Or something like that.

Kaja Rainbow fucked around with this message at 07:01 on Mar 23, 2014

secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.

Libertad! posted:

On that note, now would be a good time to tell Syrg Sapphire that I can't continue my Ptolus and Key of Destiny reviews. Better Than Any Man is pre-written, and stuff has occurred which will prevent me from continuing any reviews in process.

Anyone else is free to continue where I left off.

Got it. Updated appropriately, thanks for the heads up.

GimpInBlack posted:

That's right, folks, strap on your shield belts, brush up on the articles of kanly, and always remember that killing with the point lacks artistry, because we're going to be taking a look at Last Unicorn Games' Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium.

Oh man oh man oh man, I never knew there was a Dune RPG.

Saguaro PI
Mar 11, 2013

Totally legit tree
I figure players will probably assume the title is about the Seven.

And I figured the horsefly thing was a nod to wizards always crossbreeding everything being a long-running D&D joke, even though the owlbear is the only such monster to gain any traction, so it's kind of just stupid.

Saguaro PI fucked around with this message at 02:27 on Aug 13, 2014

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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

Syrg Sapphire posted:

Got it. Updated appropriately, thanks for the heads up.


Oh man oh man oh man, I never knew there was a Dune RPG.

There were something like a 1000-1500 copies printed and sold at Gencon 2000? It has some really horrible mechanics, but the Minor House design and party creation work well.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

GimpInBlack posted:

Next Time: My weird fixation with reviewing d6-based dice pool systems continues with a review that pretty much defines the "obscure" side of "obscure and mockable." We're talking about a game that's been described as one of the only real collector's items in the tabletop RPG hobby outside of the earliest printings of D&D. A game that was only sold for four days in the summer of 2000. That's right, folks, strap on your shield belts, brush up on the articles of kanly, and always remember that killing with the point lacks artistry, because we're going to be taking a look at Last Unicorn Games' Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium.
Urgh. I polled the thread and planned to do Dune after I finish Everlasting (just one chapter left) and was really looking forward to it. :cry: :krakentoot:

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

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

Halloween Jack posted:

Urgh. I polled the thread and planned to do Dune after I finish Everlasting (just one chapter left) and was really looking forward to it. :cry: :krakentoot:

Oh poo poo, sorry. I missed that. If you called dibs it's all yours.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Evil Mastermind posted:

I think it's more of a mis-remembering of what old gaming was actually like. People get so focused on things like the S-series they start to think that was the default play-style.
A lot of early adventures were meatgrinders because they were originally tournament adventures, which are meant to stump and whittle and break down adventuring parties in a short period of time, so that if table 1 got to room 22 with five of six players alive while table 2 got to room 19 but only had two pcs left standing and table 3 got tpk'd in room 9 by that save-or-die when the five-hour block of time expired, then table 1 would get the trophy. Disposable characters for an afternoon of fun at HoosierCon 1981, nothing more. Which was appropriate for a convention one-shot with pre-gen characters but the exact opposite of you should run an ongoing campaign (and very different from the way that Gygax ran things at his own table).

Then these ended up getting published as official adventures and many players understood as the way things were supposed to be, and so you had this whole cult of dungeons as arbitrarily cruel places with sadistic GMs looking to catch you up and TPK you and Fantasy loving Vietnam and welp here we are.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Well, they're also the ones that stand out the most in people's memories. Most gamers have heard of the Tomb of Horrors than Generic Dungeon Crawl #17, so of course people are going to focus on.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
The array of D&D CRPGs being published around the time of the 1E/2E torch passing probably didn't help the next generation much, either. They were solid games, but being developed by a company that specialized in strategy put a heavy emphasis on big, long tactical-map battles. The interface and tech of the time didn't really offer much opportunity for role-play-- it was mainly yes/no confirmations on tile triggers ('Get out of my house!' Do you? Battle ensues...) and an odd 'parley' system with a handful of options that might avoid or provoke a fight depending on the monsters involved. Starting with that and old crawls like Keep on the Borderlands has definitely had a long-term effect on at least one of the GMs I know.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
I don't think Raggi necessarily thinks about it so hard, really - he designed the sort of game that reflects how he wants to run D&D, and that's fair enough. It's just weird to have a game revolving around instant death (or fates worse than) that still has the 1-20 level structure and power crawl still sitting there, when one of the primary focuses seems to be in disempowering the characters. The whole thing seems like it may as well be run with Dread using its campaign rules.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."

Alien Rope Burn posted:

There's something I find revisionist about deathtrap OSR stuff like Lament of the Flame Princess; the whole attitude that games were once three deathtraps per silver coin or the like, because a lot of old D&D adventures don't resemble that sort of play style. Granted, that's the way 1st level play tends to feel (given that just about anything can murder you in one hit), and you have things like the S-series or Grimtooth, but that's just a small section of AD&D's broad canvas. It feels more like a weird exaggeration, a funhouse mirror version of classic fantasy games. With jokes, it could easily be a parody of that style of play.


That is because the deathtrap stuff isn't emulating anything from Dungeons and Dragons. He'll Raggi isn't even subtle about it as it was plastered on the cover that he sent to Somethingawful not too long ago. He's basically emulating really crappy horror. For the most part the issues with the RPG isn't going to be corrected ever because he is so infatuated with stuff like Serbian Story that he really can't figure out what the issues are with that genre of horror.
EDIT:
Dam it. Now this makes me want to go back to reading Dorohedoro.

MadScientistWorking fucked around with this message at 19:31 on Mar 23, 2014

Spincut
Jan 14, 2008

Oh! OSHA gonna make you serve time!
'Cause you an occupational hazard tonight.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I don't think Raggi necessarily thinks about it so hard, really - he designed the sort of game that reflects how he wants to run D&D, and that's fair enough. It's just weird to have a game revolving around instant death (or fates worse than) that still has the 1-20 level structure and power crawl still sitting there, when one of the primary focuses seems to be in disempowering the characters. The whole thing seems like it may as well be run with Dread using its campaign rules.

Probably because he's either too dumb to make his own system, or too delusional to think anything but D&D could be better.

EDIT: Or both! Can never rule that one out.

Rockopolis
Dec 21, 2012

I MAKE FUN OF QUEER STORYGAMES BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH MY LIFE THAN MAKE OTHER PEOPLE CRY

I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird
I'm back.

I've noticed that there seems to be a bit of goofiness regarding civilian characters whose professions exempt them from the draft. In addition to having to figure out why they're in Europe, they do not get default gear, or money with which to purchase it, since starting money is based on number of terms served in the military.
This makes the Idle Rich career's special essentially worthless, as it's double starting money, but only if you don't serve in the military.

Twilight 2000 v2.2
Frank Chadwick, Game Designers Workshop

Part 3: What is this?
Gear


The equipment list is essentially a forty page sperg on absolutely every piece of equipment possible. The vast majority of this section is simply equipment lists, into which I will dip for examples or for interesting items, but there are a few rules here and there.

Everything is listed in dollars (for the purposes of determining starting gear), weight, and availability.
Availability is listed Very Common, Common, Scarce, Rare, and Unavailable, and has a seperate value for East and West bloc. Europe is divided as you'd expect, while North America and Japan are part of West, the Soviet Union and Northern China are East, and everyone else is Third World, using the lowest availability of either.
Gameplay stats aren't available until the later part of the section, which is full of illustrated data cards for gear and vehicles.

The section starts with...Melee Weapons, of which there's only one. I'll use it for an example.

Garotte: A length of rope or wire used for strangulation.
Wt: 0.2 kg
Price: Usually improvised (V/V)

Gee, thanks. That's super useful...also, it's like the heaviest loving garotte imaginable.

It then moves on to firearms, starting with...autocannons and large-caliber guns, and howitzers, most of which don't have any stats at all because they're usually vehicle mounted. They do have little blurbs, but they're kind of generic.
There's five different autocannons, five different large caliber guns, and three howitzers, of which only the Rapira-3 125mm Gun and the 122mm howitzer, have stats, for their towed versions. Both are insanely expensive, being $50,000 each, but they're only Scarce or Common for the appropriate side.

I suppose that's only five military terms for an officer character, so I suppose if a player got lucky, Podpolkovnik Sergei could blow his starting cash on a Rapira-3, which is apparently the main gun for the T-72, T-80, and T-90, assuming he rolls well enough to get a vehicle that can tow a three and a half ton gun. Or the party could pool their cash.

Next is a half dozen tripods, none of which costs more than $350, and are mind numbingly specific about which machinegun or grenadle launcher or whatever they go with.

Small arms ammunition!
Magazines are purchased separately, costing $1 per 3 rounds of capacity, unless you're buying a thousand round drum of 5.56mm Nato, which costs $200.
The more I read, the more this is sounding like a surprisingly high powered game. If any of your characters are career military, you're far more limited by your carrying capacity than starting cash.

Anyway, it starts with...Longbow arrows and crossbow bolts, then loose black powder and balls, before finally getting to the modern stuff, which is generally arranged by caliber. There's an entire page of this, from 4.7mm Cis to 12 Gauge.

Next, is the a big sidebar on specialized round types, for grenades and big shells, from Armor Piercing Depleted Uranium through White Phosphorus.
Then it starts listing hand grenades, launcher grenades, rockets, rifle grenades, anti-tank missiles, and finally the ammo for the autocannons, guns and howitzers, then mortars.
They list mortar rounds, but no mortars. Weird.

Oh yes, one of the special rounds is CHEM. Chem hand grenades are available in smoke or tear gas (double price).
On the other hand, basic rounds are available in 122mm for only $350. If you already dropped $50,000 on a howitzer, you might as well go wild and pay pay $1400 per round so you could start with loving NERVE GAS! That's right, you can start the game with enough nerve gas to wipe out a major city.

Continuing our warcrime spree; landmines! The next whole page is for explosives, from dynamite to plasitc explosives, along with a the demolitons kit used to set things up.

After that, we get into more general gear, which I actually kind of like. I think because it's like camping, with out actually having to go out and camp :spergin:
My favorite category of item; Stills!
To me, they're one of the iconic items of Twilight 2000, really hammering home the idea of scarcity (much better than running around with tanks full of NERVE GAS is, anyway). Your military vehicles have diesel engines that can run on alcohol, and most surviving vehicles have been converted, so most parties are supposed to lug around a still to brew more fuel. It makes diesel a treasure as well, because it's a lot more powerful.

A small still costs $500, is very common, and...weighs 700kg. It pretty much eats up an enitre trailer, and turns 30 kilos of organic material into five liters of alcohol daily.
I'll have to do the math when that section rolls around.
Not quite as cool as I'd first thought.

Skipping the medium still, the large still is $200000, common, 83 tons, and turns three tons of organic material into 2400 liters of alcohol.

Next is generators, which are pretty standard. Gotta keep your electronic gizmos running.
Freezers and cookers for your food. Tools; a trailer with a full machine shop needs 60 kilowatts, costs $75000, is rare, and weights 1.75 tons, and what it can and can't do is basically up to the referee's imagination.
Radios&scopes are as you'd expect.
Radar is hugely expensive, with the only affordable one being the $40,000 ground surveilance radar, with no game mechanics given.
Laser designators are here, though I don't think smart munitions are in the game.

Good old fashioned NBC equipment. Characters all start with gas masks...but you want to pick up a chem defense suit and extras. There's maniacs with nerve gas running around. Maybe get a Steam Deconamination Trailer; it's only $5000 and one ton, and it washes off fallout and traces of chemical agents.

Body armor is rather limited in choice, being kevlar helmets and vests, and flak jackets and steel helmets. It notes that none of it is designed to defend against direct hits from small arms, but is supposed to protect against fragments.
I seem to recall that kevlar vests actually made for pretty decent armor in this game.

Next, medical supplies, much of which needs refrigeration.
You've got your generic medkits or doctor's kits, which are mostly just collections of the drugs and tools in the rest of the section, but some of the interesting items are that antibiotics are divided into +, -, and +/- for different types of bacteria, you can get whole blood or plasma, and atropine injectors are available.

Then there's "Other" equipment. Tents. Scuba gear. Skis. Reactive armor blocks.

It's here that the default equipment is listed.
Uniform, steel helmet, backpack, shelter half, the gas mask, combat webbing, bayonet, whatever personal weapon you get from your country, some ammo and grenades. It notes that the US soliders are better equipped and start decked out completely in kevlar, and with a medkit and some personal comforts like warmer clothes and flashlights.

Next, the cards! Vehicle cards. Each one is probably about the size of a three by five index card and is illustrated, and loaded down with mechanical information. The main stats of note for vehicles maintenance, which represents how much of a pain in the rear end something is to keep running, their fuel type, capacity, and consumption. Fuel consumption is listed for liters of gasoline...conversion isn't listed for another fifty pages or so, but basically multiply by three for alcohol.

First up...the humble bicycle. Trucks, wagons, trailers....and tanks! Most of them are there for the stats, or the off chance you roll well on the vehicle aquisition table, because they're all hugely expensive, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and worse, they guzzle gas like crazy.

On the other hand, there's animals...including Elephants! Yes, for $20,000 a head, you too can cross the Alps with Elephants.

There's a couple boats with a rudimentary separate damage system to keep track of if they're going to float or sink.

Then it's guns, guns guns...I can't even care anymore, this is getting dull.
Most of them are very very similar game mechanically and very few stand out. They don't even have different reliability ratings.
Notably, the G11 is the standard weapon for the German army; it's got decent stats, especially a huge magazine capacity and low recoil, but it makes a note of the caseless ammo being more or less impossible to manufacture more of.
Wikipedia says the G11 was a prototype gun firing caseless ammunition that was stuck in development hell for thirty years, and was finally finished and shitcanned in 1990, when that whole no more Cold War thing hit. Just like Twilight 2000, really.

Towards the end they finally list mortars, including the 60/81/82mm Wojo combo. Relatively cheap and available, it's supposed to represent the various hand made mortars in production in the year 2000, this particular example being from Wojchiechowiecz armaments factory in Krakow. This one has the virtue of being able to use wooden sabots to fit ammunition of varying sizes.

And...that's it. This chapter turned into a serious chore, I'm hoping the next one is easier. There are limits to my sperg, and this chapter was a bit oddly organized.

OTOH, at least I now have a goal for the character creation thread; create an insane Colonel and see just how much of the setting he can wipe out with just his starting stock of NERVE GAS.

Next time
Part 4: Who the hell is running this thing?
The Referee

Saguaro PI
Mar 11, 2013

Totally legit tree
The thing that gets me about Better Than Any Man is that the Karlstatd stuff is pure gold. Seriously, if the adventure was just about this city on the brink being ruled by these ladies who have good intentions but are way in over their heads and in a week's time the Frost Shepherds Swedish Army is coming to burn the whole mess to the ground and what do you do? That would be rad as hell.

But instead you have a paint-by-numbers apocalypse cult with lol surprise cannibalism and Evil McDark the Railroad Rapemurder Wizard and the boring as hell infinite tower with the TPK trap and a whole "secret dungeon" that only serves to murder you so Raggi can chide you for having the gall to adventure places and it's bullshit. All of which the best solution to is to just quit the region and let the Swedish army roll over it in a few days.

(That's it for the horrible run-on sentences, I'm sorry)

But what the hell. Raggi, you get a gold star for creating something I actually want to steal ideas from and proving that you have occasional bursts of creative thought, maybe there's hope after all.

quote:

Probably because he's either too dumb to make his own system, or too delusional to think anything but D&D could be better.

This is the man who said he couldn't hope to top Keep on the Borderlands, so definitely at least the latter, but I'd say both!

Saguaro PI fucked around with this message at 22:53 on Mar 23, 2014

girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

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

Saguaro PI posted:

This is the man who said he couldn't hope to top Keep on the Borderlands
Nostalgia's a hell of a drug.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

Rockopolis posted:

Oh yes, one of the special rounds is CHEM. Chem hand grenades are available in smoke or tear gas (double price).
On the other hand, basic rounds are available in 122mm for only $350. If you already dropped $50,000 on a howitzer, you might as well go wild and pay pay $1400 per round so you could start with loving NERVE GAS! That's right, you can start the game with enough nerve gas to wipe out a major city.

Considering how well even seasoned marksmen shoot in this game (terrible even with 10s) and how effective automatic weapons are (which are essentially noob-tubes that will score at least one hit regardless of skill), you'll need all that nerve gas just to make it through a single combat.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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


Chapter 13, Legendmaking Part 3: Everybody dreams

The final leg of our journey down the rabbit hole is an exegesis on lucid dreaming. Here’s a “visualization” exercise for you: Picture HP Lovecraft handout out crystal necklaces at a Vampire LARP. There, now you can skip this section.

Dreams constitute “another reality as powerful as the one you are experiencing right now,” or so Everlasting tells us. It does discuss the phases of sleep on a more-or-less scientific fashion, but it also discusses dreaming states using language that sound more like the fictional realm of dreams in a game setting than what dreaming is actually like. For example, a whole section on “dream physics” belabors the point that in dreams, things can suddenly disappear or change completely, as if anyone needs to be told.

You spend a quarter to a third of your life asleep, so it behooves you to understand the “wondrous, fantastical realm” of dreaming! The Everlasting purports to teach lucid dreaming. It plays up using lucid dreams as an opportunity to play out the fantasy of your choice--being a pirate, knight, monster, Joseph Campbell--in God Mode. Of course, lucid dreams are also a chance to delve into your personal mythology and work out your personal issues, blah blah blah.

We also get a little “history” on dreaming. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all studied dreams and believed in their power. St. Augustine believed that dreams contained divine messages, but “later Church leaders stressed itself as the intermediary between Christians and God’s Will. The Church convinced people that dreams should be ignored.” If you thought you were going to squeak through a 90s Dark Modern Fantasy game without some needless potshots at Christianity for ruining somebody’s childhood, you were wrong.

How does one become a lucid dreamer, or as the book calls it, Oneironaut? Sleep longer, record your dreams in as much detail as possible as soon as you wake up, and add anything you remember during the course of the day. (This is, as far as I know, a very effective means of remembering your dreams and increasing the likelihood of lucid dreaming.) We’re also instructed to look out for “Dreamsigns,” which are sights, sounds, settings, and even moods which are common in dreams even when haven’t experienced them in real life. Once you’ve done this, you’re reading to follow the procedure for lucid dreaming. Mostly, this boils down to relaxing as you wait to fall asleep, and focusing on what you would like to dream about and that you would like to be able to remember it. More alarmingly, we’re told to practice asking ourselves whether we’re awake or dreaming at least ten times a day.

Once you are successfully lucid dreaming (uh, oneironauting?), Everlasting has some suggestions for what you can do with your newfound superpowers. Flying, for example, or altering the laws of physics. You can also alter your own body and create dream characters. If your first suspicion is that this sounds like a setup for zero-gravity furry sex, then you read this thread too often.




Lucid dreaming is also supposedly a great way to get ideas for a campaign--sorry, Odyssey. This is the same as “ordinary” lucid dreaming, except that you should jot down an outline for a legendmaking adventure during the day. Supposedly, the symbolism and all that other Campbell poo poo will just come to you while you’re dreaming. There is also a brief section on nightmares, which encourages you to confront the painful and scary experiences and images that show up in nightmares, rather than fleeing from them. We are also reassured that you will not really die in real life if you die in a dream. Seriously.

And now, a final word from our author:



My only reaction to this is that I can’t believe this game was written by someone old enough to have played in the early 80s. I mean, most of what’s wrong with SLA Industries is attributable to the fact that the design team was only old enough to drink because they grew up in Scotland.

Next time, on Everlasting: Oh, but there's more! A brief chapter giving you a starting Odyssey, "Time of the Dark Ones." The forecast calls for trenchcoats and katanas with a chance of submachineguns.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 20:11 on Mar 24, 2014

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

System Mastery Episode 15 is now live. Thrill to the high adventure and endless charts of TSR's Indiana Jones! There's extra room for charts because there isn't any character creation!

http://systemmasterypodcast.com/2014/03/26/system-mastery-15-indiana-jones-rpg/

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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


Chapter 14: The Long Dark Magical Tea Party of the Soul



This chapter is a sample Odyssey. It’s divided into chapters, and each chapter has an entry for each of the 6 or 7 plot threads running throughout the campaign. Those plot threads are:

1. A vampire army
2. A werwulf cult
3. A massive influx of dead souls
4. A conflict with daevas
5. A revenant conspiracy
6. An onslaught of demons
7. Other eldritch doing random things.

I must be more naive than I thought, because Everlasting still manages to surprise me with its failure to...well, to be about what it claims to be about. There’s nothing at all in this guide about theme or mood, much less the bizarre New Age pop-psych exercises that have been preached to us for the last two chapters. Everything in this chapter is organized based on what kind of monsters the PCs are dealing with, and yes, there are way too many of them.

“Time of the Dark Ones” reads like a parody of one of those World of Darkness sourcebooks that came out late in the game’s lifecycle, with little oversight, videogamey plots, and packs of monsters from the other game lines showing up just because. When the elves and orcs appeared, I thought they must be loving with me.

Speaking of elves, you could use this as a guide for a D&D campaign with little or no tweaking. This campaign doesn’t display any of the modernity of the setting, which doesn’t surprise me--this game is clearly more interested in the eldritch and their shenanigans than in making any of it relevant.


The art budget’s finally run out! We takin’ over this bitch! Woodcut skeleton party 4 lyfe!


Chapter 1: The PCs are invited to a gala event hosted by the Court of Night. They learn that vampires are amassing an army and werwulfs are killing people. One of the PCs has a dream about a half-demon torturing some vampires. The daevas issue a demand for the vampires to stop killing people indiscriminately, and the vampires kill the messenger and send him back in pieces. A dark elf requests a private audience with the Court, a revenant tries to feed on him, and he defeats his attacker with magick. Sounds like one hell of a party.

Chapter 2: The Court of Night tries to recruit the PCs. Ghuls share gossip about the vampire army and a secret faction within the Court. An NPC takes a romantic interest in one of the PCs. The PCs learn that many dead souls are coming to the city through an unknown portal to the Underworld. They also encounter werwulfs killing mortals. A PC has a dream telling him that the demons control a company called Blackstone. Another PC sees orcs and dark elves skulking in the ghul catacombs.

Chapter 3: The PCs and Court members are invited to a ghul meeting. The ghuls reveal that many bodies are being stolen, but the Court doesn’t care. The grim reapers show up hunting dead souls who are members of a cult called the Black Circle. Werwulfs spy on the PCs. The PCs can join a daeva attack on a Blackstone facility. The Dracul and the daevas declare war on each other, and an Osirian shows up to lead the PCs to an evil necromancer. He dies before revealing any information.

Chapter 4: The PCs are framed for attacking Court members, but the Court learns they were set up by the Black Circle. The Dracul expect a favour for exonerating the PCs. A ghul wizard invites to PCs to exchange information about the dead souls, and evil ghosts attack. The werwulfs are killing more mortals and selling the bodies to revenants. The Black Circle spies on the PCs and tries to recruit them. The daevas start fighting the demons and werwulfs. Gargoyles appear and hunt down murderers in the city.


Eat, drink, and be merry, for yesterday I died. Tomorrow you die. Probably from eating and drinking.

Chapter 5: The Court invites the PCs to a holiday party where three mortal vampire hunters are burned alive as a celebration. Then werwulfs attack. Some Court members call for the formation of a group to protect neutral eldritch from the warring factions, calling themselves the “Peace Faction.” They try to recruit the PCs with the promise of reward. Some dead souls approach the PCs asking for protection from Underworld monsters, the “Brood of Lilith,” coming through the underworld portals. Demons try to seduce the PCs. The daevas bring in angels, questers, and elves to help them fight the demons. The dark elves offer the PCs a magickal device, claiming that they don’t know what it is, but that it will be necessary in the future. (I guess one of them had a dream about it?)

Chapter 6: The PCs “overhear” two vampires talk about burning down the Draculs’ castle. A ghul whose packmates were all killed by werwulfs, offers information in exchange for protection. The NPC who had showed romantic interest in one of the PCs asks them to help her kill her creator.

The PCs also get a map to the underworld portals from the Osirians, and Lilim vampires and ghuls ask for help closing them. They have to travel into the underworld and close the gates one by one. Later, werwulfs attack. The PC who’s been having dreams about demons gets kidnapped and the other PCs must rescue them. Some daevas agree to stir up trouble among their own kind in exchange for favours from revenants.

Chapter 7: The attempted arson sets off a Blood War between the Dracul and Tantalusi. The Brood of Lilith are killing eldritch. The werwulfs control a human cult. The dream-plagued PC dreams about Lilim suspended over a pit by demons, and the PCs have to rescue them in time. The daeva faction begins to collapse. Manitou show up to fight the Black Circle.

Chapter 8: Other vampire consanguinities (ugh) take sides in the Blood War. A PC discovers that a Peace Faction leader is a Black Circle member. Grim reapers continue hunting dead souls. A PC is betrayed by a friend who is secretly a Black Circle member. The PCs track the werwulf cult to their headquarters where they learn the werwulfs sell humans (alive and dead, including some allies of the PCs) to a necromancer. Angels join the Lilim in fighting demons. The Black Circle tries to frame the PCs again, this time for attacking daevas. Again, it doesn’t work. The dark elves “grow in number, but remain in hiding.” Okay.


Necromancer Lair: This Way

Chapter 9: Ghuls warn of more disappearing corpses. Werwulfs try to destroy the PCs’ homes. Fifty demon worshippers sacrifice themselves to open a temporary gate and let more demons into the world. The daevas realize they’ve been manipulated, sort out their internal issues, and focus on fighting the Black Circle.

Chapter 10: The Dracul defeat the Tantalusi, but are quickly defeated themselves by the Peace Faction. The leaders are entombed. The PCs discover another evil necromancer serving the Black Circle, and is helping evil revenants possess the bodies of mortals the PCs know. The werwulfs collect bodies, the war with the demons continues, while the Shiny Happy Eldritch (daevas, angels, questers, etc.) have a series of pitched battles against the Black Circle.

Chapter 11: The PCs discover that the Blood War was orchestrated by the “Peace Faction” all along, and the Peaceniks are members of the Black Circle. The Black Circle has been collecting bodies so that they can summon a “dark god” to inhabit a gigantic monstrous human centipede. Dead souls warn of an “oncoming storm” before vanishing. Werwulfs stop doing stuff. Demons arm their human cultists. Dark elves and orcs move into the city.

Chapter 12: The PCs rush to stop the summoning of the dark god. If they can’t stop the ritual, the God sucks the lifeforce from its summoners before going on a rampage. If they fail, it will inflict heavy casualties before the Shiny Happy Eldritch army stops it. The grim reapers show up to hold the revenants at bay. The werwulfs join the revenants. The demons fight the questers and angels.

Chapter 13: Other eldritch fill the power vacuum left by the Peace Faction, the Blood War factions, and the casualties of the dark god. This means the PCs will receive great renown and dominions of their own. The ghuls lay claim to former vampire dominions. The Brood of Lilith are still out there. The remaining werwulfs and demons flee or go into hiding. The dark elves also emerge and lay claim to abandoned territories, but only fight in self-defense.

I’ve got to admit, this campaign definitely has its merits. There is plenty of stuff for the PCs to do, an impressive absence of godlike NPCs controlling everything, and it even ends with sensible rewards for the PCs and setups for future conflicts. On the other hand, I was surprised by the straight-up dungeoncrawls to close magic portals, a videogamey boss battle to save someone from being dropped into a pit, and another videogamey boss fight against an Exalted rapemonster. That’s not to mention getting a magical doodad from an elf just because, and head-scratching incidents where orcs and gargoyles show up just for its own sake.

On the other hand, all that stuff is either innocuous or forgivably indulgent. The real problem with this campaign is that there is a set series of major events that the PCs can’t really change, although they can engage with them and reap rewards. What happens if the PCs go whole-hog on joining one of the warring factions? What if they wanted to side with the Black Circle?

There are no answers. The Everlasting: Book of the Unliving ends the way all its sessions should begin: without ceremony.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
I think I have that same skull-spider in an old high school notebook somewhere around here.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

We all had that same skull-spider in an our high school notebooks.

JohnOfOrdo3
Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid
:black101:
Really? I had a bunch of stickmen kung-fu fighting each other. A skull-spider would have made it so much more metal. I'm disappointed I didn't think of it now.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?
Once upon a time, a guy named Junichi Inoue sat down, took a long, hard look at all of the world's anime, and decided that it just wasn't anime enough for him. This was the result.



I don't know if that's the actual backstory behind its creation, but Tenra Bansho Zero is a kabuki-inspired high-drama action storygame taking place in the most ridiculous and ridculously Japanese fantasy world imaginable. About two years ago, an English version was successfully kickstarted. While I have my beefs with the system when it comes to actual play, it has a lot of very interesting ideas and a batshit insane setting that should make a readthrough plenty interesting.

Contained in this game, among other things:
  • Central game mechanics revolving around trying not to lose your mind and become a rampaging hate monster!
  • Giant mecha powered by demon hearts being cut in half by swords powered by fossilized souls!
  • The ability to play as a transforming robot dog that is also a ninja!
  • Android bodies being possessed by amnesiac demons!
  • Centipedes as a fully-developed branch of magic!

There are two books, one outlining the rules and one outlining the setting fluff. I will be bouncing back and forth between the two at random.

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011

ProfessorProf posted:

Contained in this game, among other things:
  • Central game mechanics revolving around trying not to lose your mind and become a rampaging hate monster!
  • Giant mecha powered by demon hearts being cut in half by swords powered by fossilized souls!
  • The ability to play as a transforming robot dog that is also a ninja!
  • Android bodies being possessed by amnesiac demons!
  • Centipedes as a fully-developed branch of magic!

You forgot about the mages using abacus-computers to spontaneously create spirits to do their bidding. Or the "Samurai" who are basically surgically created half-demons with transformations and poo poo. Or, my personal favorite, the class of people who hate the giant mecha so much they train to use a mecha's shortsword in their bare, unaugmented hands to kill the mecha while on foot.

Sadly I have never gotten to actually play the game because my group of friends is tragically lacking in people willing to GM, but the themes and world poo poo of this game just delight me to no end.

Saguaro PI
Mar 11, 2013

Totally legit tree

ProfessorProf posted:



Contained in this game, among other things:
  • Giant mecha powered by demon hearts being cut in half by swords powered by fossilized souls!





It's funny once you know what the power source is.

Punting
Sep 9, 2007
I am very witty: nit-witty, dim-witty, and half-witty.

ProfessorProf posted:


Contained in this game, among other things:

  • Centipedes as a fully-developed branch of magic!


...Go on?

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InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012

ProfessorProf posted:

TENRA BANSHO MOTHERFUCKING ZERO

Oh, you jerk, you beat me to reviewing this! :mad:

Oh well. Carry on, but only under the condition that you make this review awesome. :black101:

Punting posted:

...Go on?

Remember the hybrid mutants from System Shock 2, with the worms coiled around their brain stems? Annelidist disciplines/wormcharm lets you *voluntarily* do that and much, much weirder to yourself.

Did I mention you can also make the abovementioned giant mecha out of organic parts and stuff worms into THE loving MECHA?

And did I mention you can make MOTHERFUCKING KENSHIRO using TBZ's rules? :black101:

InfiniteJesters fucked around with this message at 10:24 on Mar 27, 2014

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