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WaywardWoodwose
May 19, 2008

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Kavak posted:

Why'd he get kicked off RPG.net? And do you think it was always a scam, or did he decided he didn't want to work on it anymore and tried to weasel his way out?

Being a snide argumentative dick mostly, making veiled threats. The final straw was something about going off site and saying things like "I'm not gonna get into it here, but i used to be a mod, and man could i dish on their dirty laundry!"
I don't think it started as a scam, I think he just misrepresented how much he had finished when the kickstarter began, then got in over his head. At first, I thought, hey a Dark Shadows themed rpg using the system of a game i've heard good things about, but just doesn't interest me; and an author that claims to be really progressive and inclusive, yeah, why not.

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LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Kurieg posted:

He discovered Patreon, and of course went with the monthly schedule rather than the "per comic produced" Schedule.

One of his goals was "To hire a peon to handle the non-comic making parts of my empire", said peon turned out to be his girlfriend. And once he realized he could put a price tag on "putting out comics on a schedule" his productivity backslid until he reached that milestone, and then continually missed his schedule. And then took a month off while still raking in patreon money.

His twitter and Tumblr are also populated alternately with him lusting after well muscled women/amputees and him lamenting that he doesn't make enough money as a full time artist, even though just from his patreon alone (not including his ad and store revenue) he's making 66,000 a year. And how much it physically pains him to produce comics as fast as he does and that people should really be nicer to him. Etc. Etc.

That's not very nice, but when comparing people who run bad Kickstarters to Aaron Diaz, I feel that we must remember to Diaz' credit that Diaz at least has a very consistent history of actually getting his comics out. Eventually. At a rate of less than 1/month. Often after missing several self-imposed deadlines.

But at least there are actual comics you can read.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






LatwPIAT posted:

That's not very nice, but when comparing people who run bad Kickstarters to Aaron Diaz, I feel that we must remember to Diaz' credit that Diaz at least has a very consistent history of actually getting his comics out. Eventually. At a rate of less than 1/month. Often after missing several self-imposed deadlines.

But at least there are actual comics you can read.

I may be a little harsh on him, but it's mostly because of his absolute refusal to accept criticism of any kind, constructive or otherwise. An art teacher tweeted at him with some genuine advice on how to avoid burning himself out, and Diaz's response was to Dox him and point out that the critic had been fired from his previous job and therefore didn't know what he was talking about. He doesn't want help but he absolutely adores talking about how much he needs it.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


LatwPIAT posted:

That's not very nice, but when comparing people who run bad Kickstarters to Aaron Diaz, I feel that we must remember to Diaz' credit that Diaz at least has a very consistent history of actually getting his comics out. Eventually. At a rate of less than 1/month. Often after missing several self-imposed deadlines.

But at least there are actual comics you can read.

Diaz has gotten much better than where he was, but the Patreon also makes it shady when you have a stated agreement regarding deadlines you can't follow. Of course, his kvetching comes off as downright offensive when I get to see a lot of talented artists on Patreon struggle balancing a day job and regular comic updates and earning a fraction of what he gets from the Patreon alone, working through illness and exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy... and still putting out full pages two or three times a week.

Halloween Jack posted:

To be fair, some of the highest-regarded people in the comics industry have trouble producing work on time, or have gone through a long period of such.

Someone once asked Bendis how, love him or hate him, he was managing to write multiple monthly books. His reply was "I don't own a Playstation."

Well, being a writer is a different matter. But a lot of widely-criticized creators get work because they can keep to a monthly schedule. See also: Greg Land. Honestly, I think the monthly grind of comic books is something only a minority of artists can really manage, but it's become a false expectation for comic artists to be able to crank out a full page every day and a half. The amount artist earn from the work they put in is frankly, tragic, and the whole mainstream comics industry is pretty hosed up.

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Diaz has gotten much better than where he was, but the Patreon also makes it shady when you have a stated agreement regarding deadlines you can't follow. Of course, his kvetching comes off as downright offensive when I get to see a lot of talented artists on Patreon struggle balancing a day job and regular comic updates and earning a fraction of what he gets from the Patreon alone, working through illness and exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy... and still putting out full pages two or three times a week.


Well, being a writer is a different matter. But a lot of widely-criticized creators get work because they can keep to a monthly schedule. See also: Greg Land. Honestly, I think the monthly grind of comic books is something only a minority of artists can really manage, but it's become a false expectation for comic artists to be able to crank out a full page every day and a half. The amount artist earn from the work they put in is frankly, tragic, and the whole mainstream comics industry is pretty hosed up.

Well, to be fair, the more you look anywhere related to mass-anything the more you have to acknowledge that the systems are designed to wring as much out of the workers for as little return to them as possible. Capitalism is violence in the aggregate.

Gazetteer
Nov 22, 2011

"You're talking to cats."
"And you eat ghosts, so shut the fuck up."

Halloween Jack posted:

Oh my God. A monster-soap-opera game by a guy who did mediocre-at-best homebrew for someone else's game? I want this to come out just for the trainwreck value.

Imagine if Kickstarter and digital publishing had been around in the days when people were just posting their crappy homebrews on BJ Zanzibar's site. This is the closest we'll ever get to that.
Not everything he makes is poo poo. I still really like Princess Drive.

Not going to defend the rest, though.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





LornMarkus posted:

Well, to be fair, the more you look anywhere related to mass-anything the more you have to acknowledge that the systems are designed to wring as much out of the workers for as little return to them as possible. Capitalism is violence in the aggregate.

I cannot think of any economic model, no matter how permissive, in which Diaz's productivity would be acceptable.

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011



Terrible Opinions posted:

I cannot think of any economic model, no matter how permissive, in which Diaz's productivity would be acceptable.

Was more referring to the latter bit about the state of the comic industry. All of that definitely sounds pretty awful.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Oh yeah completely agreed.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Which made it hilarious a few months ago when Diaz started lamenting the state of the comics industry like a man in a greenhouse who just got his yearly shipment of stones.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


LornMarkus posted:

Well, to be fair, the more you look anywhere related to mass-anything the more you have to acknowledge that the systems are designed to wring as much out of the workers for as little return to them as possible.

The comic industry was terrible in the 60s and 70s, got a lot better in the 80s and 90s, then collapsed and made a return back to awful in the 00s. It depends a lot on who's been in charge at the moment and where the economy's at. The mainstream comics industry has been having a really hard time, despite the success of comic book movies. Webcomics and independent comics have been very good to some artists and have been a terrible struggle for others. So it goes.

LornMarkus posted:

Capitalism is violence in the aggregate.

If it fits on a bumper sticker it's probably wrong.

So, for those looking to get angry all over again, my 48-hour review of Play Dirty is now indexed on the wiki. I had forgotten that I did it in 48 hours, that was crazy of me. I also made sure the wiki is also now up to date with every Rifts review up to newest Phase World Sourcebook post, too.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015



Kinda surprised it took them a third-party product to introduce a Jekyll/Hyde-type of character.

RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

That would be pretty funny because the Dragon of the East Sea is a major character in Sun Wukong's early adventures.

And it is a perfect excuse to have your PC hum "Rock The Dragon".

(I also kinda imagine a dragonified Goku to look more like Piccolo)

Kai Tave posted:

The game that exemplifies this in my mind is Zero, an obscure RPG by a one-and-done indie publisher way back when (I first read of it in InQuest Magazine to give an idea of what particular "when" we're talking about) with the premise that player characters were all members of a Borg-like biomechanical collective that one day spontaneously disconnected from the collective and discovered, much to their surprise and confusion, that they had acquired individuality.

"You play as refugees from a collective hive-mind that now wants you dead, struggling to cope with your newfound individuality in the apocalyptic, far-future weirdness of Earth" is, on the surface at least, a pretty compelling hook for an RPG. But then you actually read the game and it's painfully obvious that the designers' interesting ideas stopped there, because the rest of the book just sort of assumes that players will spend all their time fighting the collective's endless legions of drones come to kill them for being dangerously individual. I remember the book had stats for the "Queen" who ran the collective and it was the dumbest oWoD poo poo where her stats were all some ludicrous, impossible to reach number, and also she had her personal retinue of 25 incredibly overpowered bodyguards for you to fight first, and it was like man, who even gives a poo poo by this point?

Why do these sci-fi hiveminds/collectives always have a queen or overmind of some sort? That's just a weakpoint to hit for massive damage, and makes the whole thing look a bit hypocritical if the queen/overmind does act like an individual. Now a truly decentralized collective would be really scary, especially if each drone can always create more through construction/infection.
Or if you really need some kind of overmind, make it an AI program that is quite literally everywhere.

The Dark Eye


Combat Rules


German Guy Gardner kicking some blackpelt butt. At his side is the iconic Thorwalian pirate lady, who appears to have replaced her Skraja for an actually sensible handaxe. A lot of the art found inside the TDE books - especially in 4.0 and by extension 4.1 because that sub-edition reused a lot of assets - is drawn with line art, which has a nice flair to it.

4th edition TDE is build around a toolkit of rules in an attempt to appeal to both hardcore simulationists and more narrative-focused guys (the latter of which would most likely just take the setting stuff and play this in Fate or something, anyways). Around 90% of this toolkit approach is put into the combat rules, which are separated into beginner rules (which are the fastest, but offer the least variety), optional rules (which are actually the standard rules the game seems to have been designed around) and expert rules (aka "don't bother, these slow everything down to a crawl").

Combat Basics

As I've mentioned a while ago, the basics of combat are a lot like pre-3rd edition BESM, or WFRP2e: The attacker does his attack roll, and if he succeeds the defender has to try to defend in order to not get hit.
This binary approach has the flaw that margins of success usually don't matter much (though you can kinda sorta implement a reverse version with maneuvers, as we'll see), and duels between high-level characters can go on forever unless the system has a good way of gaining additional attacks (which TDE doesn't have).

In BESM and especially WFRP2e, this system doesn't prolong combat too much because attacks that do hit deal a crapload of damage. Not so much in TDE. Let's back this up with some numbers:

  • A typical TDE fighter dude like the iconic warrior starts with around 32ish Life Points (with the human average being 25)
  • His Attack and Parry ranks in his weapon skill of choice is around 14 and 12 (or a variation thereof).
  • The typical starting armor is the long chainmail, granting Armor Protection and Encumbrance of 4, which after Armor Adaption and the weapon's Effective Encumbrance results in a final Encumbrance of 2, which reduces Attack and Parry in equal parts (with any remainder going towards Parry). Let's just say the final Attack and Parry values are both 12.
  • The average human typically has Armor Protection of 1 because normal travel clothes count as armor, which is in no way a weird design choice.
  • Fighter dudes typically start out with a weapon that deals either 1d6+3 or 1d6+4.
  • Your main ways of raising damage is through high Strength (though most weapons require higher Strength than the typical human can start out with before you even see a +1) and the TDE equivalent of a Power Attack, which let's you deal additonal damage by reducing your Attack (more on that later).
  • Typical NPC cannon fodder actually has rather similar Attack and Parry values (though Parry tends to be lower), with around 30 Life Points

So in a fight against an orc, both combatants manage to land an actual hit around 1/3 of the time, with Not-Guy Gardner losing an average of 2.5 to 3.5 Life Points thanks to his chainmail. As TDE characters go unconcious once they hit 5 or less Life Points, the orc would need between 8 and 11 hits to win. Guy would take around as much if the orc also sported a chainmail, or around 6 hits if the orc is lightly armored.
Power Attacks can of course greatly reduce the number of hits required, but your chance to land a hit will also drop.

For extra lulz, Not-Guy Gardner could improve his Armor Protection with a helmet and some arm and leg guards, which can boost his Armor Protection to around 6 or 8. Power Attacking is pretty much required to damage him with any kind of regularity, which combined with the additional Armor Encumbrance will further decrease the to-hit chances.

Things were even worse in older editions where characters gained Life Points at each level-up. Veteran PCs and NPCs used to have slightly above 100 Life Points. In 4th edition, you'll probably not even see half that much.

Initiative is thankfully handled relative simple: You have a base value that can improve through not-Feats, and you then add 1d6 at the start of combat to determine the order of combat. Certain actions can reduce your Initiative, but you can always "refresh" your Initiative by taking an action or two to assess the situation (which also boosts your effective Initiaitve as if you've rolled a 6 and your 1d6).

Action Economy

Characters in TDE only ever have 2 actions in combat they can do, usually an Attack and Parry. This means you can greatly speed up combat by Zerg Rushing your enemy, as even someone who only really fails his Parry on a fumble can be overwhelmed with enough attacks. Being outnumbered also adds nice penalties to the lone guy.
It is possible to transform one of your actions so you make 2 Attacks or Parries in one round, but that adds a penalty to your transformed action unless specific conditions are met (like how shield users can always turn their Attack into another Parry without the penalty). You also have two Free Actions, which you can use for dodging in case you're Zerg Rushed, but dodging is a bit odd. We'll get there.
Also note that two-handed weapons of any kind are generally not able to transform actions, so watch out for the Zerg Rush.

(Movement is also an action, so I guess you can't actually Parry or Attack in the same round you move)

Anatomy of a TDE Weapon

I guess the best way to highlight some of TDE's oddities is by walking you through the most vital of weapon stats (aka everything but price, weight and length).

Hit Points

In a brilliant display of German bureaucracy and general "why keep it easy if we can make it more complicated?" mindset, TDE has two different terms for damage: Hit Points is your typical incoming damage that has to go through your Armor Protection first, while Damage Points is the damage applied directly to your Life Points, either as the part of the incoming Hit Points left after substracting Armor Protection, or because the source of damage just plain ignores Armor Protection (like poison, diseases and some spells).

Hit Points / Strength (a very weird notation, if you ask me)

As with D&D high Strength increases your damage. Unlike D&D, you need a very high Strength score to do so. Most weapons require anywhere from 15 to 17 Strength before you see your first +1 (though you can actually drop that benchmark by 2 if you wield a one-handed weapon with both hands, though I don't think it's worth sacrificing the ability to wield a shield for this little increase), and unlike older editions, the next damage increase takes a while. And this is a game were the average human can have a maxmimum of 14 in any stat at the start of the game and stat increases are generally very, very expensive.

You see, back in the older editions, each weapon had a minimum Strength value you just substract from your own Strength. If the result was positive, you would then add that to your damage.
In 4th edition, weapons had both a Threshold and a Damage Step, and you would add or substract one point of damage for every Damage Step you were over or under the Threshold.
The result this has is that piercing weapons like spears aren't terribly useful for a main fighter guy because they tend to have Damage Steps of around 4 or 5 (aka you'll probably never see more than a +1 increase). And then you have shenanigans like the two-handed Barbarian Battleaxe, which straight up gives you +1 damage for every point of Strength you are above 15, which combined with its very impressive 3D6+2 base damage probably makes it the most damage-efficient weapon out there.

(Note that the Barbarian Battleaxe started out way weaker in 4th edition, but then it got anti-nerfed because grogs complained about the unfair treatment of this "iconic" TDE weapon aka min-maxer's delight)

A weapon's damage can also be improved through magical materials, general magic enchantments and fancy smithing techniques. This being TDE, you'll probably only ever use the fancy smithing techniques, which already cost an arm and a leg.

Breakage Factor

This number shows how likely the weapon is to break. Fumbles and putting too much force behind your Power Attacks will force a check, which is done by trying to roll over the Breakage Factor with a 2d6. Even on a success, the Breakage Factor will increase by 1, so you better visit a smith regularly.

Weapon Modifications

Each weapon has modifiers that apply to Initiative, Attack and Parry. Outside of fencing weapons, these are usually negative and can be rather hefty on two-handed weapons like the above Barbarian Battleaxe (though chances are that if you managed to get your Strength above 15, you've already earned enough Adventure Points to boost your weapon skill up the whazoo).
Just like with Hit Points, weapon modifications can be improved through rare materials you probably can't afford, magical enchantments you'll likely never get your hands on, and paying an arm and a leg to a master smith. You can also improve the modifications by having a personal weapon built around your height, weight and whatnot, which is actually affordable.

Note that in older editions, your Weapon Modifications could actually change depending on who you where attacking/defending against at the moment. That must've been fun.

Distance Class

Oh boy, this thing.

Weapons and really any kind of attack falls into one or two Distance Classes, which are Brawl, Melee, Polearm and Pike. Really large critters can go even beyond this.

The way Distance Class works is that two opponents are always engaged at a certain Distance Class from each other. How starting Distance Class is determined was revised a few times during 4th edition's runtime, but it's generally always good to have the higher Initiative.
If the current Distance Class is one step higher or lower than your weapon's Distance Class(es), you'll suffer a penalty to your Attack if your weapon is too short and a penalty to both Attack and Parry if your weapon is too long. More than one step means you can't attack at all, and if you're weapon is too long you can't even parry.

Unlike say The Riddle of Steel, where the engagement range shifted organically during the standard combat procedure, the current Distance Class is set in stone until one of the combatants decides to try to change it. This is done through a normal Attack/Parry procedure that is not modified by the current Distance Class, but only by how much the attacker wants to change it. Said Attack/Parry procedure is not an actual attack and won't cause any damage on a "hit".
So essentially, Distance Classes will further prolong combat because they introduce additional penalties and will force the characters to occasionally waste actions trying to get rid of the penalties. One the plus side, a veteran fighter with a pike (a weapon not actually meant for personal combat) can become almost untouchable to one-handed weapon wielders.

Depending on how you interpret Distance Classes in the optional map combat rules (which of course give you different ranges in squares based on your weapon's Distance Class), I think you can't even walk past a guy with a Pike unless you do that Attack/Parry thing.

Maneuvers

Maneuvers in TDE generally work by making an Attack or Parry roll with a self-imposed penalty. Fancier maneuvers require a minimum penalty to take, but you can generally take anything up to your weapon skill or Attack/Parry value. Should a maneuver fail, you add the self-imposed penalty to your next Attack or Parry action.

The main maneuvers are Power Attack (your penalty raises damage), Feint (your penalty reduces the enemy's Parry, which doesn't sound very useful unless you've number-crunched the optimal penalty to take for each Attack/Parry combination) and Knock Out (which can be very handy if the enemy isn't too heavily armored). The main defensive maneuver is the Master Parry, which transforms your self-imposed penalty into a bonus to your next Attack or Parry.

The full combat rules offer more maneuvers, which let you do a kind of Cleave and Multi-Parry (essentially splitting your Attack or Parry into two), and piercing weapons can try to aim for weakly-armored or vital spots.

Dodging

Dodging is weird in TDE. It's a servicable last resort action for when you're attacked by multiple dudes, but the execution is just weird.
For starters, there is no skill directly related to dodging. You just take your base Parry value and bonuses based if you've taken one of the three Dodging not-Feats, or if you have a very high Acrobatics skill.
Lots of penalties apply through Encumbrance and depending on the Distance Class (which always adds a penalty of at least 1, even if you're as far away from your opponent as possible, which is a bit odd).

Since Dodging is a Free Action and you gain one Free Action for every normal action you have, you can dodge up to twice along with your Parry. The problem - apart from the truckload of penalties - is that dodging kinda sorta removes you from combat: The Distance Class is enlarged, and you have to waste at least one action getting back into combat. Your Initiative wil also drop noticably whether you succeed or not.
In order to stay in combat and reduce the Initiative penalty, you can pull off a Targeted Dodge, though this one actually costs a normal action and doubles the Distance Class penalties (because how dare you want to use a universal defensive value independent of your weapon's Parry).

Again unlike The Riddle of Steel where dodging - while being about as hard to pull off as here - can actually be used for devastating counter-attacks because a successful close-range dodge leaves the opponent wide open, Dodging in TDE is something you generally only want to to if you have to.

Fighting Styles

Aside from your typical one- and two-handed fighting style, you can spice things up with these styles, whose not-Feat chains all start with the Left Hand not-Feat:

Shield

Unlike D&D, shields actually rule in TDE. In a similar way to Dodging, there is no skill related to shields. You just take your base Parry, add a bonus depending on how deep int the shield chain you are, and then add the shield's Parry bonus. Unlike dodging, this usually results in a pretty high Parry value, which allows shield-focus fighters to only put a miminum of points into their weapon's Parry. Though beware that larger shields do reduce Initiative and Attack.
Apart form this and chain-type weapons ignoring your shield's bonus, there are really only advantages for using a shield: You can turn your Attack into another Parry with no penalty, you will eventually gain a second free Parry anyways (though only in 4.1), and it's the only way to actually parry ranged attacks and attacks by big stompy monsters aside from dodging.

Two-Weapon Fighting

Dual-wielding is pretty straight-forward, giving you an additional Attack or Parry with more or less hefty penalties depending on how similar the two weapons are and how deep you are into the chain.

Parry Weapons

Using a parrying dagger or buckler (the latter also doubling as a shield) works a lot like using a shield for finding out the Parry value, except that you use your weapon's Parry value as the baseline. This can potentially give you a larger Parry value than a shield, but bear in mind that parrying weapons do nothing against big, heavy weapons.
This style focuses heavily on Master Parries and even dabbles into dual-wield territory by giving you an additional attack with your parry weapon, but it's overall not too useful outside of duelling scenarios.

Unarmed Combat


How could I talk about TDE combat without posting this classic barroom brawl picture? Notice how TDE dwarves are actually small.

Unarmed Attacks primarily deal damage to the opponents Stamina Points - which is pretty much the only way to lose Stamina Points unless you're playing with the rule that reduces your Stamina for every action you do while encumbered. Fun stuff.
After hitting the opponent for Stamina Points, you then cut your rolled damage in half and apply that as proper damage, which has to go through any Armor Protection the opponent. Seeing how even strong dudes will rarely do more than 1d6+2 before halving, punching a guy in armor to death is a bit unlikely. Fighting an armed opponent also sucks major balls and runs the risk of hurting yourself on the other guy's weapon.

Unarmed Combat comes with its own set of maneuvers, some of which are actually pretty neat: You can mitigate the above problems against armed fellows or even use small weapons like knives with your unarmed skills.

Unarmed Combat skills also allow you to learn various kinds of martial arts, some of which work with both Roughhousing and Wrestling. Examples include Gladiator Pro Wrestling (okay, that's not the real name, but that's pretty much what it is) which increases your stamina damage while reducing proper damage to zero and Hruruzat, the Not-Kung-Fu/-Karate originally invented by the forest people of the South that has become quite popular with the Maraskans.
The thing about Hruruzat is that it's all about kicks that deal a lot of damage, rolling 2d6 instead of 1d6. Even better, those two dice can actually explode, which I think is the only part in TDE that uses this mechanic.

Critical Hits and Fumbles

Natural 1s are always a lucky success, while natural 20s are always a fumble. Both events require an immediate repeat of the roll, to either avoid the worst effects of the fumble or turn the lucky success into a critical success.
Attacks performed with a natural 1 (whether they are just lucky or critical) force the opponent to defend with his Parry value cut in half, and critical successes of course double damage. A critical success on a Parry just means that the Parry didn't cost an Action.
A real fumble will have you lose all your remaining actions for the round and force you to roll on a table. You could trip, cut yourself on your own weapon or break your own weapon.

The Death Spiral

Long story short: The lower your Life Points and Stamina Points go, the more penalties you take to everything. So hitting stuff becomes harder as combat goes on.

A nother death spiral comes in the form of Wounds. If you take too much damage in one shot, you suffer 1 or even more Wounds, which further penalize you at everything you do.

The Wound rules have seen quite a lot of revisions throughout the history of 4.X, largely because they initially didn't quite work out. The goal of "We want combat to end long before you've beaten every Life Point out of your opponent to speed up combat" became moot when Wounds were originally only caused by an attack that deals more damage than the target's Constitution, which for most characters equals losing more than 1/3 of their max Life Points in one attacks. This being TDE, this event is a bit unikely unless you're chomped on by a dragon. So eventually, the threshold got cut in half, with some weapons like arrows and bolts applying a flat modifier to it.

In the base rules, ranged weapons would cause an automatic Wound, making Alpha Striking at the start of combat very desirable. Nowadays, only critical hits cause automatic wounds anymore.

Regeneration

A good night's sleep will recover a meager 1d6, with an additional point for a successful Constitution check. Further modifications may arise depending on the quality of the bed your sleeping in and a few Advantages and Disadvantages. Wounds of course require proper treatment and may heal at a rate faster than 1 Wound/day.

Further Life Points can be restored through herbs, berries and magic. Unlike D&D, these things don't heal instantly and in fact take a good while to heal their full amount. Herbs and berries also tend to have an upper limit on their healing ability per day and may make you addicted.

The One You've All Heard About

Having a dirty Wound (which can arguably be any wound) has a good chance of getting infected, which lasts 2d6 days, causes 2d6-1 damage per day (with 1 fewer damage point per day) and may cause your Strength to drop. Seeing how much damage is generally required to cause wounds in the first place, not seeking immediate treatment is can get you killed - especially since you won't regenerate Life Points naturally while you're ill.
Going by averages, a typical wound infection will cause 21 points of damage over 6 days, which factoring in the Life Points lost for getting the Wound in the first place (and the attacks that didn't cause wounds) makes dying pretty much guaranteed without outside help.

Next Time: Well let's see. I'll be going to get my hands on my full TDE collection in about 2 weeks, so I might postpone a more in-depth look at TDE's spells and demons until then. In the meantime, I'll probably take a closer look at TDE's bestiary and metaplot stuff.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 21:03 on Oct 1, 2015

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It's time for more Warhammer Fantasy RP 2nd Edition!

So, we've been through the basics of the Career system and created a halfling Luchadore completely by accident. Now, you'll notice he's got a bunch of skills; skills are one of the weaker parts of the book. They're fine in that the basic system for them works okay (1/2 stat chance if you're untrained, stat chance if you're trained, plus or minus modifiers) but the problem is the list. The specificity and applicability of skills varies *widely* throughout the skill chapter, and so you end up with stuff where, say, Charm is used for almost every single positive social interaction circumstance (lying, bluffing, arguing, begging, etc) but there are three separate stealth skills (Shadowing, Silent Move, and Concealment) and the chances a career won't give you all three are surprisingly high. Thus, if you want to play a persuasive PC the skill chapter's got your back, but a thief needs tons of different skills just to do any degree of thiefing. This is a problem that afflicts an awful lot of rules systems with a wide variety of skills, but I feel like it kinda interacts badly with the career system in this case. There's also the problem that a randomly created party can find itself badly lacking some relatively rare and important skills (like being able to pick locks or treat wounds) and might not end up with the ability to patch in those holes for quite some time if you're playing strictly RAW.

Thankfully, the rules do introduce a patch for this, though it isn't a particularly good one. Elite Advances are skills or talents a PC gets permission to buy because either the party *really* needs someone who knows how to do X or somehow a good chance to learn or demonstrate talent with X came up during the game. The game recommends using them sparingly and making them cost 200 instead of 100 EXP, and they're a very DM-May-I solution to the problem, so I'd have preferred something more solid.

There's also the problem that you need to buy all your class's skills and talents to exit it unless you pull Pay 200 EXP To Move To A Basic Career Of Your Choice and frankly, some of the skills aren't useful things. I've never actually had Consume Alcohol come up as a major part of gameplay, and skills like Lip Reading and Blather (distract someone for a bit by being ridiculous, like the end of Guardians of the Galaxy) are decidedly niche. In general, I feel like the game has too many things as skills that could perhaps have been compressed into a smaller, more focused list of skills and like some of the more niche stuff like Consume Alcohol could've been split off into just running off your base stat instead of being something you spend character resources on. The skill system works fine and is very simple, but the skill list could do with some re-examining.

The only bit of real complexity in the skill system is Opposed Tests; you and a foe roll off and whoever gets more Degrees of Success (full 10s under their target number) wins and succeeds. If they tie on degrees, the actual lower roll wins. If they both fail, they both reroll; if you and the guard both fail stealth and perception, respectively, you both check again because your mutual incompetence cancels out.

Another important bit about skills that the game is kind of schizo on: One of the reasons an Average PC starts with like a 35-45% success chance in their skills is that's supposed to be your odds under really dangerous, crisis situations. In general, a skill test is only called for when poo poo has gone down and you're in real trouble (like rolling Weapon Skill in combat). The problem is, the example adventure in the back (and other published scenarios I've read) are full of 'Roll Perception at -10 to progress the plot' gates. This gives the wrong impression about skills (namely that you have to roll for everything) and it's bad adventure design to boot, but it muddles the skill system further and really isn't productive.

I am not a fan of WHFRP's pre-published scenarios. Next Time: TALENTS!

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Alien Rope Burn posted:

So, for those looking to get angry all over again, my 48-hour review of Play Dirty is now indexed on the wiki. I had forgotten that I did it in 48 hours, that was crazy of me. I also made sure the wiki is also now up to date with every Rifts review up to newest Phase World Sourcebook post, too.

Oh, boy. and at the same time. By the way, the things I've done recently for FnF aren't indexed, is there a way I can get them up there for future reference? Either in the Tradwiki or Inklesspen's archive. (If it's necessary, anyone has my permission to archive my stuff.)

Lurks With Wolves
Jan 14, 2013

At least I don't dance with them, right?


Night10194 posted:

Another important bit about skills that the game is kind of schizo on: One of the reasons an Average PC starts with like a 35-45% success chance in their skills is that's supposed to be your odds under really dangerous, crisis situations. In general, a skill test is only called for when poo poo has gone down and you're in real trouble (like rolling Weapon Skill in combat). The problem is, the example adventure in the back (and other published scenarios I've read) are full of 'Roll Perception at -10 to progress the plot' gates. This gives the wrong impression about skills (namely that you have to roll for everything) and it's bad adventure design to boot, but it muddles the skill system further and really isn't productive.

The first edition of Dark Heresy had this same exact problem, and it's just as bad there. You need to be generous with bonuses when you're using this kind of system to make PCs not look like a bunch of incompetent scrubs, and here's the example adventure requiring a Challenging (+0) Acrobatics check to climb a slightly steep hill. It's like no one told the adventure designers how the system actually works.

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011



Alien Rope Burn posted:

If it fits on a bumper sticker it's probably wrong.

I would argue more for fitting on a bumper sticker means it lacks nuance. Capitalism can do good and has lots of upsides, but by itself it's predatory by nature and does a lot of awfulness. Ideally it needs to be married to a robust system dedicated to the common good that will manage it, but America at the very least is in a rather awkward place as far as that's concerned.

Regardless, not looking to start an argument, just been reading a lot lately and had that on my mind.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


You'd have to bug one of the Trad Wiki sysops (Foxxtrot, Fuego Fish, or Doc Bubonic) for an account, after which you just follow the existing format and post it up. I think Inklesspen was working on a new version of his script to pull info from the thread that wouldn't require the wiki, but I could be wrong. In any case, it's not up to date with the Rifts reviews.

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

Alien Rope Burn posted:

You'd have to bug one of the Trad Wiki sysops (Foxxtrot, Fuego Fish, or Doc Bubonic) for an account, after which you just follow the existing format and post it up. I think Inklesspen was working on a new version of his script to pull info from the thread that wouldn't require the wiki, but I could be wrong. In any case, it's not up to date with the Rifts reviews.

That's correct. It is, however, slow going. But I am making a little progress every week.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts Dimension Book 3: Phase World Sourcebook Part 11: First up: Nanny and Orphanmaker



We have done power armor, so now we do robot vehicles. First up is the Ovoid Combat Robot from Naruni Enterprises.

The Ovoid is commonly known as the “death egg” (take that faberge?) and originates from another dimension. It has a different design aesthetic than a lot of other Naruni Enterprises equipment and it’s unknown where they got the blueprints. Maybe it resembles the egg-shaped offspring of the originating species?

These little eggs are basically the Easter veritech, having limbs and the ability to walk around and shoot but also a flight mode where these draw up into the body. Most of its weapons and systems are also drawn up into the hull, making them difficult to target and shoot off. -4 to strike individual weapons instead no penalty/-2.

The main body has 650 MDC and it has a 320 MDC forcefield on top of that. It can run at 70 mph but fly at Mach One in an atmosphere.


like kinder eggs, in that it’s illegal to import

Primary weapons are a set of plasma cartridge machine guns that do 2d6x10. Secondary weapons are a pair of railguns with three times the range that also do 2d6x10. Short and long range missiles, a lot of each actually, and some piddly little lasers. Sadly does not list an “egg butt” maneuver in the close combat section.

Now it is time for a big stompy evil robot! Rarr! Behold the Imperator Assault Robot. It has a sword and an axe and a loudspeaker that can roar loudly enough to shatter glass! Seriously the Transgalactic Empire’s design department is entirely staffed by MDC-plated teenagers doodling on binders. Just look at this thing:


as usually, every available orifice is a missile launcher

The description specifically mentions that it’s easy for the crews of these robots to mutiny. Hm.

They have 655 main body and their annoying loudspeaker has 200 all by itself. The two guns on the torso are the main weapons, gravity autocannons that do 2d6x10+20 damage. Only 16 medium missiles which is paltry compared to most of the explosive-packed pillboxes in this setting. The energy sword/axe and power claw does 2d4x10 when powered and 3d6 when not. There’s no reason to not power it, and it also fires energy blasts with the same damage. This seems to be an important part of its offense and I guess I can’t fault them for trying.

We heard earlier that the Warlock Marines like to deploy from the Greataxe IFV. It’s a hovertank with a sweet cannon that can also fire “two missiles out of the same barrel.” That just sounds like a recipe for disaster. The turret only has 200 MDC so aim for that, it has all the weapons. The main body has 420 which seems low for a tank, also it’s a pretty lovely transport vehicle, can only hold four crew. It also states that the belly plates of the vehicle are vulnerable when it flies too high but gives no mechanical support for this.


top-heavy

The cannon does 2d4x10 single-shot or 4d4x10 double, if you like to keep your loader busy I guess. The missiles are the Bottled Demon missiles that chase targets and can very occasionally turn a demon loose back at the user. 3d4x10. It also has a rail gun, and a plasma gun with unlimited ammo that does 2d4x10 or 5d6 over a wide area. A regular mini-missiles and we’ve got a tank. It’s mostly purely technological so it doesn’t suck, the demon missiles are nice but they can only carry a very few and they are absurdly expensive in the way of technowizard items.

Since there aren’t a lot of robot vehicles and there are a lot of starships, we’ll also cover the new fighters presented here in this section. They explain a little bit about the multiple roles that ships are supposed to serve like fighters being for close combat with other small craft and for escort and defense of larger craft, etc. The way Rifts damage tends to come out, having a ton of little guns is better than a few big ones in many cases, though they may have inflated the numbers enough to make capital weaponry worthwhile here.

That said, onto the ships themselves.

Black Eagle Medium Fighter: Another fighter for the CAF, “new” in that it’s only been in service 20 years. They have three main configurations, bomber, interceptor, and long-range which has its own FTL drive. They have 800 main body MDC and 1200 in their forcefield which does put them in the ‘medium’ range of fighter durability.



Primary guns do 4D4x10 which is average, 5 mile range. The bomber version carries 2 2 or 4D6x100 missiles and all of them carry 24 mini missiles. The Long Range variant doesn’t seem to sacrifice anything for its drive.

The Katana is predictably manufactured by Bushido Industries of the Bushi Federation. At least it doesn’t actually look like a sword. Instead it looks like an arrowhead! 600 main body and 1800 force field MDC.


no prominent ports in the art means no missiles right?

The main particle beam cannons do 2D6x10 at 2 miles, and there are missile racks on the underside that can carry four total missiles from cruise, long- or medium-range. They can also attach two weapon pods with the choice of a gravity gun (3D6x10), more missiles (two extra) or 48 mini missiles. Two anti matter cruise missiles would do 8d6x100 or 2400 average MDC, which is not insubstantial. 48 plasma mini-missiles would do 48d6x10 or 1440 average so the cruise missiles actually are a better bet. Lastly there’s the plasma ejection pod which does 1d4x100 with a 600 ft range. They’re also listed as “very maneuverable” which means they probably get an advantage in the very vague dogfighting rules, though honestly almost all the fighters are listed as “very maneuverable.”

Naruni checks in with the Fire-Eater attack ship. It’s supposed to do bombing runs or something and has “plasma cartridge twin-miniguns” for when the bombs run out. They have 550 main body and 1200 total forcefield MDC. Their plasma cannons do 2d4x10 MDC. Can carry 16 missiles or 32 of whatever in space counts as a “bomb.” They are not noted as being specially maneuverable.


something something for the greater good

Lastly we get a ship for the Intruders, whom they really want you to include and take seriously. The Spinnerette Interceptor looks like a big diamond in the sky. They are called “spinnerette” because they are constantly spinning, not because they make webs. They flash and change colors in an entirely trippy way and they fly without noticeable drag through any medium. They also tend to recover damage naturally and quickly as all Intruder creations do. A few of these ships have been captured by the CAF when phase weaponry killed the pilots--all other types of forcefield stop phase weaponry dead but not these super-advanced hard-light babies!


’it’s just a big gem.’ ‘yeah, maybe put some vague energy around it or something?’ ‘yeah, we’re good, let’s hit the bar’

450 main body MDC, regens 1d6x10 per round. 100 MDC pilot cage that is what you actually have to destroy. Energy blaster does 2d4x10 per blast and it self-destructs for 4d6x10 after the pilot is killed, exactly one hour and fifteen minutes later and the system is impossible to disarm so nyah nyah nyah. Also they’re very hard to detect, being visually detectable from “only” 1,000 miles away.

CAF gets two ships, the Empire gets none, I am surprised. They fit more or less within the damage ratings given previously but I guess I don’t see that much need for them at all since we already had fighters last time. More frigates come next.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I think the Unchained would have been more interesting if the concept behind the book was choosing between which personality was the real you, or reconciling them and becoming something else through it. Just have the moves have two options under each where each option is a specific effect depending on which self you decide it works for. Then playbook advancement has the added benefit of an in-game strengthening of one personality or another as the player decides which one is the true one.

Also, Slamwise Gamgee, catch wrestler is the best.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!


Sorry this one took a bit, folks. For some reason, this writer's style just didn't agree with me, and it took a real effort of will to get through the adventure.

So. Our heroes are off to meet Wally's mentor's mentor, the archmage Manzorian. Manzorian is... pretty much intended to be Tenser, as in "Tenser's Transformation" and "Tenser's Floating Disk". Just the writers are only allowed to mention that in "conversion notes" for Greyhawk. Yup, it's time for the group to become the gofer of a wizard significantly more powerful than them! Really moving up in the world. Wait, no, I mean "now we're 13th level with multiple major artifacts and we're right back where we started".

Oh, well, same diff.

Age of Worms, The Spire of Long Shadows


So: the PCs have the largest of the pieces of the Rod of Seven Parts, an artifact where each piece can find the next-largest. Which means someone can find theirs. A group of barbed and bone devils ambush the PCs on their way to meet Tenser/Manzorian. It's a pretty hefty fight, but not beyond the reach of a party that can cast 7th level spells. This is the only time this will come up, but this could be a subplot: a pit fiend is the holder of the next piece larger, and his minions can menace the party whenever you want it.

Of course, he has nothing to do with the Age of Worms and this is never prompted for again and the PCs just got Plane Shift.



I could see campaigns derailing here.

For our part, though, Cleo suggests they pretend it was just random that they were trying to steal the Rod fragment. That probably will never come up again. No, really, it won't, because Dom is very by-the-book.

When the heroes get to Manzorian's town, it turns out the archmage is out. This can be downtime for crafting, recuperating, adding new PCs, recruiting cohorts, whatever. Our team is pretty self-sufficient, though. Maybe they can go meet Manzorian where he is. He's just on another plane, after all, and the PCs just got Plane Shift. Whoa, hey now. Don't go getting any funny ideas. We're not here to explore other realms of reality. No, stay here and wait. Maybe meet up with some other associates of Manzorian while we have time.

Like... Celeste! I was wrong about her leaving completely; she has this cameo, too. And so are a couple of Manzorian's mentees. Including Eligos. You know, the guy that the party decided not to raise when they were stealing his notes. Why is he back? And how, if the PCs weren't allowed to do it?



I, and thus Dom, am completely befuddled as to how you're supposed to present Eligos here, beyond "well, poo poo, don't pay too much attention to him because we're here for other NPCs today". Oh, and that Agath there? Cleric 19. And Celeste is an angel with class levels, as it turns out. And another of Manzorian's trainees is an eldritch knight on par with the PCs by levels. Basically, somehow the team is back to being medium/small fish. Also apparently Wally was learning from the only one of Manzorian's pupils who didn't take prestige class levels. Or fighter levels, but that one is dumb.

Eventually, Manzorian returns from more-or-less Heaven where he was doing who-knows-what, and deigns to meet with our team. Only Roger seems to feel properly honored by this. Manzorian lets the heroes exposit to him, then exposits back in return:

The Age of Worms is a prophecy that's weirdly resistant to being re-written by later authors, its precursor signs happened in the last Adventure Path and various other Dungeon adventures (hey kids, remember to order several copies of Dungeon magazine back issues you don't have three copies of!), Kyuss was once mortal and then got his divine powers stapled on, the Ebon Triad are more like useful fools than the real power at work here, one of Manzorian's other pupils, Balakarde, is off doing something else that might be involved and the PCs are never going to run into him, and there's only two more prophecies that need to happen for the Age of Worms. Manzorian suggests the PCs may have already averted those two, but Cleo dismisses that for no reason. Manzorian shrugs; when you're a 21st level wizard with an impenetrable fortress, you don't care too much if people don't believe your guesses. The Rod, though. That would be swell to have. Manzorian offers the PCs individual magic items worth 40k gp apiece for the Rod fragment. Cleo refuses. Manzorian is, luckily, a good enough sport to not just wrest it away. Because, you know, epic wizard.



Regardless, he wants the PCs to explore Kyuss's home town and see if that has any clues. He lets the PCs look at a painting of the area, good enough to let them Greater Teleport there. Our PCs can, but if your party at home can't cast that, he'll offer a pair of scrolls of Greater Teleport, instead--one there and one back. If the party still can't manage that (no UMD or the like), an annoyed Manzorian just uses Teleportation Circle and lets them find their own way back the 1800 miles involved. That's what you get for not having arcane magic. One way or another, the PCs will go do this.

The centerpiece of the ruins of Kyuss's former town is a ziggurat topped with a stone cactus, and as the party approaches, we find one of the big gimmicks of this adventure: as the PCs wander around and/or beat up bosses, they get flashbacks that conveniently fill in the details of Kyuss's history. In the first one, they get to see Kyuss in life, as a cleric of Nerull. His nationality is... Flan.



Well, that just killed a lot of the drama.

As the heroes approach the center of the city and the black stone cactus, they find in the way an artifact that they won't pick up. Because it's a single piece of obsidian sank into the ground surrounding this center. It's 5 feet thick, 30 feet high, and over a thousand feet in diameter. Slightly out of our carrying capacity. Its only use is blocking Kyuss and Kyuss's minions, which is why it has "Kyuss forever bound" written all over it in Draconic. Inside this circle, there's countless Kyuss worms as an environmental hazard, and a death knight and a couple of high-tier beetles to defend the ziggurat's exterior. The PCs crush them and begin exploring the exterior.

Another vision. There was another part to the stone cactus at one point; a black monolith that was its centerpiece. Suddenly, an enormous red dragon dives down and grabs it, making off with it. A good history roll and the PCs realize this was a famous dragon: Dragotha! Hm, so the very key to Kyuss's power is in the hands of this thing. Of course, this is a dungeon, so there's some nagas that harass them, a group of undead warriors, and (by far the most interesting) some corrupted celestials that were broken by Kyuss's worms and forced to be guards here.



Roger is starting to get very annoyed with combat; even without the fact that we're facing more and more undead and other stuff that's just flat immune to sneak attack, the terrain for the last while has not been kind to him, so his ability to contribute is falling, even without that whole "bad saves in the important categories" thing. Regardless, beyond the expected haul of magical material, the party is rewarded with more visions: Kyuss is introduced to the worms of Kyuss by an undead spell weaver. Of note, though, is that Kyuss here is still in his mortal state; the worms might obey Kyuss, but they are not his creation. In fact, this undead spell weaver is certainly his teacher, introducing this cleric of Nerull into something darker than merely the death god's cult secrets.

We break up the monotony of undead + worm swarms next with a fountain of wonderfully clean green water and a compulsion to drink from it... psych! It's actually full of green Kyuss worms, and drinking them lets them eat your brain and turn you into an undead creature. Thank goodness for Protection from Evil/Magic Circle Against Evil. This gives us another important vision: Kyuss's monolith firing off a weird inverse of normal divine faith. Rather than the god granting spells, his monolith stole their souls and faith to fuel his apotheosis. Something went wrong, however; the newly divine Kyuss found himself trapped in his monolith.

One more naga tries to get the party to teleport him outside the obsidian ring he can't cross, but, well, NE aberration who plans to attack the party anyway. Most of the time in this adventure path, when someone tries to talk to you in a dungeon rather than attack, they still plan to attack later.

Overall, the problem with this dungeon is just that it's so same-y. The same few enemies are repeated, and the situations and terrain don't make up for it. More undead warriors, more worm swarms, more wormcallers... The team moves on to the boss. Who is, of course, immune to Roger's sneak attacks. The six-armed spell weaver lich that taught Kyuss his secrets rests here, having waited two thousand years so far for the obsidian ring to break so he can leave. This guy, at least, is legit willing to talk to the heroes, mainly to see how many more prophecies the Age of Worms has left before it happens (and incidentally releases him), and then let them leave. This is because he doesn't have a phylactery any longer.



That would be really dumb, though. Even if we weren't talking about a chaotic evil undead, this being is the Harbinger of Worms, the architect behind Kyuss's ascension and the various horrors of the Age of Worms, both so far and in the future and thus the murder or attempted murder of tens of thousands, including those the PCs may have come to feel fond of. It's hard to even think of a more deserving target to fight. The Harbinger is killed, breaking a number of long-standing magical effects in the temple, and giving the PCs a final vision.

Hey, it's more evocative than a letter on his desk.

The last vision is the PCs getting to go over the prophecies concerning the Age of Worms that Manzorian talked about before. It turns out Cleo was right--two prophecies remain to be fulfilled, not averted. One involves the union of a three-part spirit, and the other involves a hero giving a city to the dead. What could those mean? Also the PCs see the shade of a foe they'll have to face later: a worshipper of Vecna attaches the Hand of Vecna to his own severed wrist.

Well, we've learned much of the history behind Kyuss and the Age of Worms, and actually defeated a key figure behind it. Back to Manzorian. The archwizard listens, thanks them, and perfunctorily assigns them a new task: they have a lead on that Balakarde fellow, now. He went to meet someone named "Lashonna". Wally, take your friends and go track this one down. Manzorian has important wizard-y things to do and you can't come because you're not an epic-level NPCs. So you get the grunt work instead. That's literally the excuse at this point. This epic NPC is too busy doing something undefined to save the world and/or help out his closest associates.

Oh, well. Next adventure I believe has some really cool stuff!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I kinda wish I had some flan, now.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2E!

Alright, Talents. Talents are a lot like Feats. They're inborn abilities your PC has that provide passive (and sometimes active) bonuses to your abilities. I would say I prefer Talents to Feats by far, though, if only because the list isn't so insanely bloated and most of them are actually useful. They're also used to represent inborn traits like a halfing's resistance to Chaos.

Let's take a look at Bogdan to explain talents a little bit.

Bogdan has 6 Talents: Night Vision (He can see in low light without needing a torch or lantern, an inborn Halfling ability), Resistance to Chaos (He's genuinely immune to Mutation, which could be a big deal, and gets +10% to resist any magical Chaos attack, also inborn Halfling stuff), Specialist Weapons Sling (He can use slings with no penalty despite them being tricky weapons that need training), Warrior Born (+5% to Weapon Skill), Very Strong (+5% to Strength), and Wrestling (+10% to Weapon Skill when grappling, +10 to Strength when Grappling). This is a pretty good sampling of what Talents do. With the 0-100 cap on skills and stats, Bogdan getting a +10% when he's grappling is actually pretty significant (out of the box he'd have better than even odds in a grapple with a Chaos Warrior, an 8 foot tall super viking. He's a hobbit). The stat buff Talents mostly exist in PC creation and Basic Careers; they're there to ensure, along with Shallya's Mercy for giving yourself an 11 on one stat roll, that it's really hard to be genuinely bad at the primary abilities of your first class and more likely you'll be good at them. Stuff like Resistance to Chaos exists primarily as a racial ability and is unique to Halflings (their entire point is they're pretty happy generally being milquetoast british rural folk and so are surprisingly resilient to horror, just like Tolkien). Stuff like Wrestler is also common; a fair number of talents add +10% to your checks in certain places (take Tunnel Rat, which gives +10% to stealth and navigation rolls when you're under ground) or for a group of skills (like Dealmaker giving you +10% to Haggle and Evaluate so you can value stuff accurately and bargain well).

Other talents gives permanent passive buffs in combat. Strike Mighty Blow, for instance, is one of the big markers of a professional fighter. It gives +1 to all melee damage rolls. In D&D this would be insignificant, but this is a game where the average PC does d10+3 damage and even if they take heavy combat classes, will generally only get up to d10+5. An extra +1 damage, especially once we get into talking about how damage reduction works (It's a much bigger deal more consistently than in Dark Heresy) is a major bonus, and it helps to separate the PCs who are professional warriors from the ones who do something else but can fight if they have to.

Finally, there are a couple actual active-use combat abilities. What's interesting about these is Disarm and Strike to Stun, say, aren't made at a penalty like combat maneuvers in Pathfinder or D&D. In the case of Disarm, you don't even have to pre-declare it; if you hit with a melee attack you can just declare 'Yeah that was a disarm attempt', roll opposed Agility, and if you succeed you knock the foe's weapon loose. The only penalty to the attack is that it's not going to deal damage. Similar for Strike to Stun; you just test Str, your foe tests Tough with a bonus for his helmet, and if you succeed he's stunned for a few turns and can only parry and try not to be hit in a daze (which is probably death in this combat system).

One of the primary reasons, despite being similar in concept, that Talents work better than Feats is that Talents don't cost nearly as precious of a character resource and so they're free to just be little tricks and edges your PC has picked up. In D&D, paying a resource I only get 7-19 of my entire character build for a +1 with one specific weapon so I can access any of the actually good feats past it is a loving joke. Here, firstly, none of the Talents actually require other Talents and there aren't big 'talent trees' for your build. And they cost exactly the same EXP cost as buying a new skill or one stat advance. Again, it's a fairly simple rule but it does the job.

Next time: STUFF. Encumbrance rules we've always ignored and that are, to the game's credit, noted as optional! Why armor really loving matters! And goddamn the British for their ridiculous currency system!

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


And the best part of Talents is that you don't have to spend at least 1/3 of them on a single chain (dual wield and shield combat styles blow big time in D&D). They all stand on their own.

occamsnailfile posted:


like kinder eggs, in that it’s illegal to import

I like to imagine that the not-Gerwalk form of this is TwinBee.

quote:


top-heavy
This almost looks like a balloon o_O

quote:


no prominent ports in the art means no missiles right?

Should've called them Kunai.

And holy cow, I forgot to talk about armor!

The Dark Eye


Armor Addendum

Armor in TDE comes in two different flavors of crunchiness: The default rules split armor into 3 parts (toros, helmet, arm and leg guards), with the toros armor being the only mandatory one and the two other kinds of armor only adding Armor Protection and Encumbrance on top of that (because not covering your main hit location with armor makes your helmet pretty useless on its own). Some kinds of torso armor (like knight armor) comes as a complete set that can't be combined with anthing else.
Also of note is that any kind of thick clothing (like really anything mean for travelling around) counts as armor (with Armor Protection and Encumbrance of 1), which never ceases to annoy me.

The more detailled rules (as seen in Drakensang and maybe Blackguards) uses hit locations and splits torso armor and the arm and leg guards much more further into their individual components, each adding a different amount of Armor Protection to some of the hit locations. The hit locations themselves thankfully only come into play on critical hits and if someone is actively aiming for them. In all other cases, the rules just take the average Armor Protection (with larger hit zones of course being weighted more heavily).
I actually kinda like the hit location rules. They let you customize your PCs look and protection (and even allows you to individual set pieces), and the hit location rules actually kinda sorta act as a sort of errata because pretty much all of the heavier armor loses a couple points of protection as opposed to the base rules (giving you an actual chance to hurt a knight in full getup with a one-handed weapon). On the downside, munchkins can easily come up armor combinations sporting very crazy Armor-Protection-to-Encumbrance values.

Notable Armor

I'll just cover the unique pieces of TDE armor and skip the generic stuff like chainmail, cuirass and plate armor.

Amazon Armor

Actually not very notable since its just ancient Greek armor to go along the whole Amazon shtick.

(If Ancient Rome is more your thing, there a few pieces of old armor from that Bosparan Empire.)

Garethian Plate

State-of-the-art plate armor combining excellent protection with good mobility. Armor Protection of 6 and Encumbrance of 4 make this a very good deal for a frontline fighter, and you can bump this up further if you can take the additional Encumbrance.

Horasian Cavalry Harness

A perfectly matched set of full-body plate armor and a visorless helmet that sports even higher Encumbrance efficiency than the Garethian Plate, but since its a complete set, the Plate can actually eclipse it in the Armor Protection department.

Iryian Armor

A combination of scale and leather armor made out of swamp lizards, which can apparently make you look like an Achaz at first look. So better watch out when walking near Thorwalians and dwarves.

Mammothon Shell

Firn Elven ringmail made out of mammothon, which is the Aventurian term for ivory from mammoths. I guess it's a chance of pace to see tree-hugging elves becoming PETA's nightmare.
Seeing how Firn Elves are the most isolationist and xenophobic of all the elves, you'll probably never run into this armor.

(Also, I'm not kidding when I say PETA's nightmare. These Firn Elves also use fencing weapons called Seal Killers)

Maraskan Hardwood Harness

Hey look, it's samurai armor. This armor is kinda rare, but probably the best armor for any spellcaster who is actually allowed to wear armor (aka everyone who is not a wizard). I'm also very positive that a witch can use this to fly.

Toadskin

A rather colorful name for what is just studded leather armor. Naturally very popular with Thorwalians.

Armor Additions

Arm and leg guards are pretty generic and just come as a complete set made out of leather, chain or plate (unless you use the hit location rules that is). As none of these sets give more than +2 to Armor, this results in leather and chain guards having the same Armor and Encumbrance values. The only difference is that chain is 6 times as heavy and more than 7 times as expensive. Helmets also feature models that are straight up better than other models that are bother heavier and more expensive.
Helmets are pretty much all generic and historical (though older editions featured fancy winged helmets). The only thing of note is that Horasians apparently like Conquistador helmets.

Shields

Nothing too surprising here, maybe except that the Thorwalian aka Viking shield is its own thing.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 19:16 on Oct 2, 2015

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


occamsnailfile posted:

Rifts Dimension Book 3: Phase World Sourcebook Part 11: First up: Nanny and Orphanmaker


no prominent ports in the art means no missiles right?

It means you add "hidden" or "concealed" as an adjective, then load it down with missiles anyway. That's the Palladium® way!

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Alien Rope Burn posted:

It means you add "hidden" or "concealed" as an adjective, then load it down with missiles anyway. That's the Palladium® way!

Why put so much effort into hiding weapons? It's the Rift universe, where every vehicle is required by law to have at least 50% of its mass dedicated to missiles and their launchers.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Doresh posted:

Why put so much effort into hiding weapons? It's the Rift universe, where every vehicle is required by law to have at least 50% of its mass dedicated to missiles and their launchers.

Because Palladium rips off and recycles a lot of art, so if the missiles aren't pictured but KS thinks the vehicle should be more shooty, he just stats it with a hojillion extra missiles but they're invisible concealed.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


That and stuff like if a robot has spikes, they have to be launchable or explosive or whatever. A spike can't just be a spike.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

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


quote:

Also of note is that any kind of thick clothing (like really anything mean for travelling around) counts as armor (with Armor Protection and Encumbrance of 1), which never ceases to annoy me..
That actually makes sense in a general abstraction so Im kind of wondering what the annoying part is.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!


Alien Rope Burn posted:

That and stuff like if a robot has spikes, they have to be launchable or explosive or whatever. A spike can't just be a spike.

I'd kind of like to be a Rifts artist, just to screw with people by turning in some katamari-of-guns design and letting them explain why this two-man tank has 14 weapon systems with distinct capabilities.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Midjack posted:

Because Palladium rips off and recycles a lot of art, so if the missiles aren't pictured but KS thinks the vehicle should be more shooty, he just stats it with a hojillion extra missiles but they're invisible concealed.

True. I forgot about that part.

MadScientistWorking posted:

That actually makes sense in a general abstraction so Im kind of wondering what the annoying part is.

It just kinda irks me when PC #1 is slightly more damage-resistant, but also slighty slower and worse at swimming and other physical stuff than PC #2 because he decided to wear a bit more fabric on his body.
And if you use those optional "Encumbrance reduces Stamina with each combat action", PC #2 can potentially fight 24/7 while PC #1 has to catch his breadth every minute or so.

(Sure, I can see getting Armor Protection from thick winter clothing or a heavy leather mantle which is an actual piece of "armor" under the hit location rules, but you can already qualify with a slightly thicker set of shirt and pants.)

Doresh fucked around with this message at 16:00 on Oct 3, 2015

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



So I completely forgot I had said I'd do a conclusion to Genius: The Transgression which I reviewed earlier in the thread. For completion's sake, here it is.

Genius: The Transgression, Conclusions

At its core, I think Genius does have a good kernel of horror to it in the highway of broken dreams. Our minds work in part through recognizing connections and patterns, self-evident and beyond merely elementary. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, things fall down, the Chicago Cubs don't win the World Series. The Inspired do not make the same connections everyone else does. Their minds fundamentally work differently, and there's reason to believe that many forms of autism and genuine Asperger's Syndrome work like this. To Geniuses, the way the world works is self-evident, logical, and rational. But most everyone they encounter disagree, call the Genius crazy. No one likes being called insane, and the minds of the Inspired are suffused with a manic, creative energy. There's a mystery in front of them that they must explore, but just as important to many Geniuses a simple and profound human need: the quest for validation.

Perhaps a Genius can convince a few people that the Genius is right, but by necessity what the Genius sees - what the genius knows - is at odds with the world's scientific establishment and vast bodies of knowledge. And driven in part by the light inside their heads that never shuts off, Geniuses build. They build devices based on their unique theories to demonstrate that they're right, that their ideas everyone else calls crazy really do work. Every success is a triumph, often creating wonders beyond the limits of recognized science and technology. But... and this is supported by the rules, so many inventions aren't successes. They require some rare component that the Genius can't afford or obtain, or requires a moral cost the Genius is unwilling to pay. For every wonder the Genius builds that works, there are two or three half-finished creations in her lab that just didn't work out. Even those that work, though, are largely imperfect. Only a very few devices are free from irritating faults that crept in from nowhere. They work... but they're almost invariably flawed in some way that no amount of tinkering and refinement can seem to get rid of.

So the Genius can prove to herself, maybe, that her ideas are conceptually sound. Proving it to others, though... that perfect built flying machine falls apart at a touch if she tries to show it off to a friend, to prove she's not crazy. Her friend notes that airplanes just don't work that way, and he's right. The flying machine spontaneously falls apart under close inspection. Or, perhaps worse, it doesn't and her friend agrees completely with her brilliance. In fact, he agrees with her about everyone. A spark has gone out of him, his creativity and free will. He's become a beholden. Or just maybe, he starts thinking about the flying machine and how it does seem to be impossible but how might it be possible... and he's staring down a rabbit hole.

That constant doubt would eat away at anyone. That constant vision that no one else can see, that you fundamentally can't show. Remember that every Genius is ultimately self-inflicted. When they find that rabbit hole, they realize that things are making less and less sense. They can feel a pressure in the back of their minds letting in strange ideas. They can stop there, retreat safely back into a world where things make sense and logic and reason are shared by everyone. But what makes a Genius is the decision not to, to pursue those answers and ideas no matter how crazy they seem. Every Genius knows, consciously or otherwise, that they chose this path. They did this to themselves, and the question always lurks: was it worth it?

Playing as a Mane is just as bad, and cribs more than a little from Promethean. Most Manes know that they're less than real. Even if they appear to be human, they're not and only survive by the dreams and thoughts of people - real people. A young Ubermensch from the Nazi base on the far side of the moon comes to Earth to scout out a target. She looks human. She is human in most respects, a tall, fit, blonde-haired blue-eyed beauty and specimen of physical and mental perfection. But she's a moon Nazi, and the Nazis never made it to the moon. National Socialism has been dead for seventy years and isn't coming back. The moon base's planned invasion is doomed to failure. This young woman walks through a world where everyone about her, everything that she is, is the butt of jokes and comically over the top video games. She really is a Nazi from the moon... and anyone walking down the street can kill her with a handshake because she can't exist. G:TT hints that it's possible for Manes to become real somehow, but that may not be much comfort to this figment of the human imagination.

Genius' stated core mood is bitter disappointment for a reason. No matter how strong or clever or brilliant a Genius or Mane is, they're all but incapable of really affecting reality. They can travel through time, but does that really change anything? Was Lemuria, the root of the Illuminati and Templars and Masons and a million other conspiracies, anything more than a waking dream that never really mattered? Or was it all real, and now the guiding force of human civilization is gone? Lemuria was monstrous in many respects, but no more so than many entirely non-Inspired organizations and governments, and in fact less so than some. Now that's gone, leaving humanity alone in the dark to chart its own destiny.


Of course, that's all well and good in theory. Getting less poetic, Genius riffs hard on oMage a lot. Two of the five Foundations are transparent copies of the Technocracy, and I'm sure people more familiar with oMage can point out more examples of direct lifting. Nothing about a game of playing mad scientists pays more than lip service to the science part. Inspiration is magic by any other name and wonders are no different from magic wands or enchanted swords and that's not talking about the Geniuses who think they are doing magic and making just those things.

While there's a good core of horror and self-examination to be had in Genius, the game itself keeps departing that tone to emphasize wacky powers and mad science adventures. That's all well and good in its place, but reconciling those tones as equally valid ways to play one game is a tougher task than I think Genius' writers were up to unless it's meant to be during the denouement of such an adventure, the realization that fundamentally nothing you just did matters and you're all insane anyway. The Phantom Foundation and Iridium Sentinels give an out to play Genius as a game of Ghostbusters or Justice League America. Not bad options, but do call upon the DM to embrace and expand upon, or completely ignore the concepts involved as the game requires.

Perhaps appropriately, my closing thoughts on Genius are that there is definitely a strong game idea to be found, but is let down and shackled by poor execution, being too beholden to oMage, and a general lack of focus for what the game is about.

Hyper Crab Tank
Feb 10, 2014

The future of crustacean-based warfare


I think it just kind of annoys me in general when a system decides to put the baseline for "how much armor is enough to count as more than zero armor?" at "wearing ordinary clothes". It feels to me like that abstraction has failed on some level if that's where you're going. The whole abstraction is meant to facilitate people getting into fights, and giving players a defensive option that is easy to calculate and work with, and no one goes naked into a fight. How often do your campaigns end up involving fighting a lot of naked people? (Don't answer that.) Really, if what you're wearing isn't designed to be damage-resistant, it should just be a zero. If you somehow find your system really needs to model in an advantage for when a madman runs flailing at you in his birthday suit, do it some other way.

It's especially dumb in any system where the principal class of weapons is firearms.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

I could see it in a game that was modeling pulp sword-and-sorcery, to give the baseline at the loincloth-wearing barbarian. But less so in high fantasy pseudo-medieval Europe.

mycot
Oct 23, 2014


Hell Gem

Cythereal posted:

Genius Conclusiohn

Thanks for all of the posts Cythereal. Like other Storyteller system games, I can't judge how playable it actually is but I like the writing and fiction of Genius a lot. It's not perfect but there's enough good in there that I can't look badly on it and the core idea is great. It turns the entire "haha I'm a super special magical being suck it society" outlook on its head, because while a Genius could try to lord their superiority over the mundies what they really want is validation. And that is what they will never have. That is compelling tragedy. I like it way more than what I saw of, say, Princess, which felt it was so generic-ized it didn't even have a premise any more.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



mycot posted:

Thanks for all of the posts Cythereal. Like other Storyteller system games, I can't judge how playable it actually is but I like the writing and fiction of Genius a lot. It's not perfect but there's enough good in there that I can't look badly on it and the core idea is great. It turns the entire "haha I'm a super special magical being suck it society" outlook on its head, because while a Genius could try to lord their superiority over the mundies what they really want is validation. And that is what they will never have. That is compelling tragedy. I like it way more than what I saw of, say, Princess, which felt it was so generic-ized it didn't even have a premise any more.

Bolded one of the more relevant bits. Lemuria tried to lord it over mundane people, and it didn't work. Inspiration simply doesn't work like that. A hunter cell going after a Genius never has to worry about Delirium or them not showing up on camera or Paradox, and the Genius' inventions are likely to fall apart if any of the hunters start thinking about how, logically and scientifically speaking, anything they saw happened. Not even a Genius' enemies can offer them validation.

It's what makes Lemuria, going Unmada, and Illumination so seductive. They offer the Genius a balm she can find nowhere else: being right.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I think it just kind of annoys me in general when a system decides to put the baseline for "how much armor is enough to count as more than zero armor?" at "wearing ordinary clothes". It feels to me like that abstraction has failed on some level if that's where you're going. The whole abstraction is meant to facilitate people getting into fights, and giving players a defensive option that is easy to calculate and work with, and no one goes naked into a fight. How often do your campaigns end up involving fighting a lot of naked people? (Don't answer that.) Really, if what you're wearing isn't designed to be damage-resistant, it should just be a zero. If you somehow find your system really needs to model in an advantage for when a madman runs flailing at you in his birthday suit, do it some other way.

You don't even have to be naked in TDE for 0 armor. Thieves and jugglers and other people who can't afford constant physical skill penalties just wear clothes that are apparently thin enough to not count as armor (the line is a bit blurry). I'd really like for clothes to just be clothes and armor to be armor.

(Also combat in TDE is slow enough that "obvious non-fighter dude" shouldn't benefit from damage reduction)

JackMann posted:

I could see it in a game that was modeling pulp sword-and-sorcery, to give the baseline at the loincloth-wearing barbarian. But less so in high fantasy pseudo-medieval Europe.

In pulp stories involving half-naked barbarians, the main form of protection isn't armor, but sheer badassery.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD


Thanks for all the Genius posts, Cythereal!

It was an interesting read.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!


Last time, our heroes found out about the events which kickstarted the Age of Worms, and discovered a mighty red dragon has made off with the monolith restraining the godly Kyuss, whose freedom shall herald the end times.

So, this adventure is a bit... different. It might actually have been even better earlier in the campaign, before the PCs advanced to 15th level and the sort of world-shaping power that 8th level spells and an effectively unlimited pocketbook for mundane matters entails. Oh, well. Also of note: the adventures themselves ran in Dungeon magazine, but Dragon had "Wormfood" articles, as well, trying expand and offer more material for DMs. This month's article actually has some things I want to explicitly drag in. So that's going to shake things up, too.

Age of Worms, The Prince of Redhand


This adventure picks up exactly where the last one left off. Like, a breath later. Last time, our heroes reported their findings to Manzorian, and Manzorian told them to follow a lead to Balakarde. We pick back up in that same conversation. This gives us a little more detail. Balakarde was researching more about the Ebon Triad (remember them? the cultists who were trying to glue together three different gods?), and his research has led him to Alhaster, the capital city of Redhand, a bandit-y nation. Lashonna, an elven noblewoman, may have been a further goal. Off we go, to pursue this lead while our angels and archmage and near-epic cleric friends sit at home.

Our heroes arrive in Alhaster via teleportation one week prior to a gala being thrown by Prince Zeech, Redhand's ruler. There's an almost desperate air to the merry-making and preperation. People are furiously working on getting everything prepared for, and banners to Hextor are sproutint from almost every window. Oh, yeah, turns out that the patron god of this country is Hextor. And Cleo? A cleric of Heironeous. If you're forgetting your 3.5 core deities, the two gods are brothers and archrivals. Cleo quickly tucks away her holy symbols and glances around to be sure no one's noticed. She's clear. Actually, officially all religions are welcome. It's just that, in practice, Hextor, Wee Jas and Kord are the only ones who are accepted.

The party begins trying to track down Balakarde, but, whoops, turns out that they didn't just miss him or something. Balakarde was in town literally years ago, and the trail has gone somewhat cold. Lashonna, then. The party calls at her mansion, but the guard tells them the earliest appointment to meet with her is two months from now. Well... that or get invited to Zeech's banquet. She should be there, and that's only a week.

Okay, who has invitations? Well, Zeech turned over filling the tables to a friend, Loratio, owner of the Deluxury. Loratio is looking for "heroic types", because Zeech likes having powerful people at his table. The PCs count. Even the gnome in the robe. Loratio takes Roger aside, though, and explains that he really thinks that only Roger really counts. If the other two cause any problems or disruptions? Roger is in trouble. It's a nice change from Wally being the centerpiece.

Now, what should the party expect when they visit the banquet? Well, weapons aren't allowed. Armor can be acceptable, though! Redhand is kind of a martial culture, after all. Also... Zeech doesn't officially expect gifts. Unofficially? 2k gp a person is a good baseline.

So. That's a week to kill. What other leads do we have? Well, Balakarde left a book he had been reading, and Cleo suggests maybe looking up the author of the book, who turns out to have been forgotten by people. Well... he was a cleric of St Cuthbert. Is there a temple to St Cuthbert? Yes. It's a half-burned-down ruin. Score! Maybe it's time for a mini dungeon! The PCs slip into the condemned building and find that, well, it's not really even that. Rhorsk, the author, has died and come back as another ghoul variant from Libris Mortis. The writers must have really loved that book. Anyway, DC 40 diplomacy or any way to command undead, and he's still lucid enough to share some information. Yes, he did meet with Balakarde, and his account of the Ebon Triad's founding skipped a bit. There was another important figure, Mother Maggot, who had been supporting the heretics with wormy undead. He points out where to go to meet her. And... well, why not leave the poor guy here? He's not hurting anything, though he has gone mad sometime during his unlife as a ghoul. The party gets a lot more experience out of getting information than killing him, since he's not on par with any of them. Even killing him and raising him would be kind of cruel at this point.



Well, our heroes get back to the non-condemned parts of the city. A hobgoblin mercenary swaggers up to them and greets them as guests. Yes, it's a facade of politeness. He observes just how lawless Diamond Lake and the Free City are, compared to the excellence of Redhand. What have the heroes even done to be 'heroes', anyway? Won a gladiatorial contest, slain a dragon, slain a very large and fireproof frog... the hobgoblin tries to belittle all this and talk up his own accomplishments in turn. Why, he bets he could even beat the heroes in a contest! Why not take up his challenge? He suggests... oh, riding, jumping, wrestling a dire boar... our heroes notably probably can't win these without significant magical effort, and Cleo isn't really eager to wave around her divine focus just now. So our PCs actually lose this. The hobgoblins leave, smug.

Dejected, the team visits the market square, just in time to see a public hanging of some Ebon Triad cultists. Zeech does not like the Ebon Triad, and the Triad is present in town... but only just. No one knows anything about them, but everyone's learned it's a good thing to publically curse the name.

Okay, fine, take a night to recover from the stinging loss, then go explore that location that the ghoul told them about. Above, the building is a sickhouse run by a madwoman who's not a very good doctor. The PCs make friends with her, then find a handy ladder down. Okay, surely this is going to be a mini-dungeon. The PCs climb down the ladder, then a pile of rope reassembles as a hangman golem, a refugee from Monster Manual III. A neat opponent, but not too challenging. Past this guard, there's a pool with a bunch of writing scrawled around it. Wally gets to work decoding it. It turns out to be the work of avolakias, worm-like horrors, as prayers to Kyuss and confirming some of the visions they saw last adventure. The new information here is the Writhing Tabernacle, Kyuss's most holy site, which is referenced but not placed, and Dragotha, the dragon that stole Kyuss's monolith, referred to as the Voice of Kyuss and called an "eternal dragon". Well, that's weird. Dragotha was clearly a pretty normal dragon and just greedy when he took that monolith. Wonder what happened?

Well, the dungeon isn't over. The PCs drop past this room and find a statue of the overgod, the same sort of creature that they had to beat up at the climax of Three Faces of Evil. Wait, no, it isn't a statue, it's a boss fight! This is actually a pretty hefty fight, but not beyond a properly-leveled party, so there we go. Behind a false wall, the heroes find a cache of magic items, literal bags of money, and a ledger that contains a complete listing of the Ebon Triad's membership. Well, that's handy. It even has crossed-out lines for those the PCs have killed already, like The Faceless One, Raknian, and... oh, wait, Ilthane? Wasn't that the one dragon that jumped the party? Hey, it lists her lair, and it's in the area.

What the PCs can't reasonably figure out without some leaps of logic here is that this is, yes, the actual source of the Ebon Triad. Some person or persons unknown encouraged the cult, using them as a front to cause some of the necessary prophecies for the Age of Worms to come true. Who was it? Well, the magazine tells Dom (and Cleo), but I feel like I want to hold onto that one just now.

Let's go loot Ilthane's lair next! Her lair was hidden in a bog not far away. Four of her kids are here; they're juvenile black dragons who were fighting over the stuff she left behind, and managed to break some of it and make a worse threat. Now they're observing a sort of truce and waiting for someone else to handle it. They try to trick the PCs into helping them clear out "their lair" for a good but unspecified reward, but they're bad liars, so the PCs kill or drive them off, then have to lift a thousand pound cap on the lair. A dragon might lift that. For our group, a magically-buffed Cleo and some telekinesis from Wally and they can shift it.



The lair is filled with toxic gases that sicken people in the area, and the undead that the dragons accidentally created by knocking stuff over attacks visitors, as well. I like this; it's pretty unusual a challenge, but not in a bad way. The loot is a certain amount of money and art, plus three of Ilthane's remaining alchemical vials, capable of granting inherent bonuses to ability scores. Cleo takes the +1 Str/Con one, and Roger gets the other two, granting +2 Cha and +3 natural armor. Well, now Roger has some black scales plating some of his body, but otherwise a complete success.

Okay, that's about as much as we can do before the banquet. Time to flip over to Dragon magazine. This article gives us expanded style details; a PC who's properly suited up, has her hair done, and has a mint bath gets a bonus to her charisma rolls to making friends with high society. The Temple of Wee Jas offers much of this, and here's several other groups in town that can offer one thing or another.



So: Roger sneaks around, buying some nice ancient military badges for himself, gets a frazzled mother of nine to sew his outfit, and finishes up with a meeting with a prudish scholar to teach him the intricacies of Alhaster etiquette in particular. That'll go some way to balancing out the scales he's suddenly sporting. Wally gets a pure white ettercap-spun tuxedo, gets a flamboyant tinge added by a dramatic hairdresser, and some cuff links tinged with the faerie fire spell. Cleo gets the attention of a prudish and elitist specialist in women's fashions, and tops it off with a fancy hat made from dangerous animals. Let's pretend Cleo saved the froghemoth's skin for this, in fact. The hatmaker in question is big on that sort of creation, and his centerpiece is a hat hung like a chandelier that's sized for a cloud giant. I love this little derail, even if it only amounts to basically a circumstance bonus level of change to your rolls, if you don't take the cues for what will grab and turn off particular people.



The day comes. The PCs make their way to the palace. Here, we're going to have to make things up a bit. There are lots of important guests here; over a dozen given names and motivations. I'll just pick a few, including of course the plot-relevant ones. So we have (in the order given in the book) Prince Zeech (fallen paladin/blackguard), The Ominous Fabler (weird little jester thing of Zeech's that does more talking than he does), B'kruss (the hobgoblin that defeated the PCs at dire boar wrestling), Hoff (fat dwarf, here for the food, wants to arm wrestle), Lashonna (they're here to talk to her), Mahuudril (secretly an evil worm monster that's dressed up like a human to keep an eye on people), Marat (former Diamond Lake resident; willing to put the PCs up for a few days while they're in Redhand just as a friend for their shared history), and Quemp (half-orc barbarian with lots of violent stories, angling to find someone to supplement his two current wives).



The main thrust of this adventure is to gain Authority Points, that represent how accepted and well-viewed the PCs are by Alhaster's finest. I'll brush this off for now, but know that that's the reward for making friends, doing good things, and so on here.

The guests arrive before Zeech, who rides up 20 minutes after they've assembled to let The Ominous Fabler announce the start of the gala... and telling the guests to present their gifts now. This is the first official notice that a gift is expected, but our PCs were on top of this, and present some gifts looted from the Ebon Triad lair and the dragon's lair. Now: where is Lashonna? Zeech announces to the group at large that, sadly, he's heard from Lashonna, and she's going to be late, but will join them later. Dang it.



The first entertainment of the evening is a silent play by skeletons, acting out the manner of their deaths in accidents that weren't quite accidents. Oh, and each of them was an actor whose living performances annoyed Zeech. The threat is not very subtle. The next event is a Duck Hunt inspired event: release ten birds, shoot at them with masterwork repeating crossbows. Well, everyone but Zeech gets masterwork; Zeech's is +3. Doing better than Zeech's 6/10 can offend him, but a good diplomacy check will let him take it in good humor. Roger attempts to win, but fails to bag that many. Moving on, the challenge is to take control of a cockatrice and turn more cats to stone than a cockatrice controlled by Zeech (which you have to admit is creative, if nothing else). Cleo takes this one on, and the results are basically a coin flip, since the cockatrices are identical, unless the PCs fail a Fort save to control it well. A flipped coin, and she does win, winning a 1000 gp golden egg for it. This one Zeech is okay losing. The final event is one where Zeech throws a skull into the distance, and people are challenged to throw other human skulls, trying to land as close to it as possible. Well, nothing says this is an evil act. I actually went ahead and did some basic rolls on that, and it turns out Quemp and Roger tied for first place, and Hoff placed last.



That was the fun; now onto the main meal. Lashonna arrives, taking a seat opposite Zeech. The first course is "The Feast of Worms!" One of Redhand's founders got here by shipwreck, and was desperate for food. They honor that by opening meals with a not-quite-Kyuss-worm, but something that looks similar. It's noted as very tasty. The Ominous Fabler continues with a story of a dryad who metes judgment on a noble who transplants her tree, then Zeech challenges anyone else to match the Fabler's tale-telling. Well, who here just got a charisma bonus, is a rogue, has weird black scales on his body, and two thumbs? This Roger! Roger is also bold enough to taste the "it's poisonous if they messed up the cooking directions" dish, and wins a bragging contest about who's done the most for Redhand when he pulls out and slams down a tome of the Ebon Triad's member rolls as a punctuation and gift to the Prince. Lashonna seems shaken by this. The dessert, a badly built cake with a topping of Zeech in marzipan, falls apart on serving, and nearly falls on Roger, who with a deft Dexterity roll and Perform follow-up, makes light of the issue and avoids a bad symbolism for Zeech. It's still enough of an embarrasment that Zeech is going to bow out as soon as he can after this.

The evening concludes with a dance, where Roger gets in close enough to Lashonna to whisper that they want to talk to her. She whispers back "save the questions for later". The PCs will meet with her in a few more nights' time, though. They've secured their audience.

Navigating the entertainments and meals nets the PCs XP as if they'd slain a CR 20 creature. The PCs have made a spectacular first impression on Redhand, and we've gotten the set-up for the last third of the Age of Worms, where things ramp up fast and hard, and gotten through one of the best adventures in the campaign, even if it is, sort of, a filler piece.

ZeeToo fucked around with this message at 05:12 on Oct 5, 2015

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Ah, the Age of Worms...I remember running that AP in high school. Sadly any old notes I kept on it are long-gone, and I can't even remember the names of the PCs.

I do remember during Prince of Redhand the PCs attempted to bypass the "dress up for the banquet" mini-game by using Hats of Disguise to mimic the fanciest clothes and accessories. The module did not foresee that apparently, and I was inexperienced at the time so I briefly got miffed that the players were bypassing this "intricate mini-game" from a magic item they had for quite some time, and is probably more valuable than a lot of high-society clothes anyway.

Still, it was rather fun in that one of the PCs tried to see how far they can get testing the limits of Zeech's patience without ending up dead or run out of town.

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I think it just kind of annoys me in general when a system decides to put the baseline for "how much armor is enough to count as more than zero armor?" at "wearing ordinary clothes". It feels to me like that abstraction has failed on some level if that's where you're going. The whole abstraction is meant to facilitate people getting into fights, and giving players a defensive option that is easy to calculate and work with, and no one goes naked into a fight. How often do your campaigns end up involving fighting a lot of naked people? (Don't answer that.) Really, if what you're wearing isn't designed to be damage-resistant, it should just be a zero. If you somehow find your system really needs to model in an advantage for when a madman runs flailing at you in his birthday suit, do it some other way.
I suppose it makes sense if your game is gleefully obsessed with low-tech combat, and you really want to model the vagaries of, for example, the differences between European and Filipino knife-fighting based on assumptions about whether people are wearing heavy clothing. (This appeals to me, but more in theory than in actual practice.) Outside of that, I can't think of a reason to model the fact that a guy in a winter coat is somewhat better armored than a guy in a t-shirt.

Cythereal posted:

While there's a good core of horror and self-examination to be had in Genius, the game itself keeps departing that tone to emphasize wacky powers and mad science adventures. That's all well and good in its place, but reconciling those tones as equally valid ways to play one game is a tougher task than I think Genius' writers were up to unless it's meant to be during the denouement of such an adventure, the realization that fundamentally nothing you just did matters and you're all insane anyway. The Phantom Foundation and Iridium Sentinels give an out to play Genius as a game of Ghostbusters or Justice League America. Not bad options, but do call upon the DM to embrace and expand upon, or completely ignore the concepts involved as the game requires.

Perhaps appropriately, my closing thoughts on Genius are that there is definitely a strong game idea to be found, but is let down and shackled by poor execution, being too beholden to oMage, and a general lack of focus for what the game is about.
To be honest, I shy away from even examining the forum-made Wod fangames too closely because I assume they'll be stuffed full of references that I won't get in the first place and that don't serve the game. (The musical references in Princess are pointless, but at least I get most of them.) I've avoided Exalted ever since someone who wrote for the line straight-up admitted that there are nods to Homestuck fandom in there. I can't be bothered to catch up on a decade of anime fandom that I missed in order to be able to enjoy a game.

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