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Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD
Hey, Gradenko, question! Does Spheres of Power ever touch on the 'props' of magic use? Spell Components/Staffs/Wands/Spell Tomes for the arcane gentlemen, Holy Symbols for the divine casters, and bottles of Snake Oil for alchemists? Or is all of this assumed to be done away with and you just have your powers and your mana pool?

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gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

HELL SERPENT
Lipstick Apathy

Crasical posted:

Hey, Gradenko, question! Does Spheres of Power ever touch on the 'props' of magic use? Spell Components/Staffs/Wands/Spell Tomes for the arcane gentlemen, Holy Symbols for the divine casters, and bottles of Snake Oil for alchemists? Or is all of this assumed to be done away with and you just have your powers and your mana pool?

It does! There is a section called Casting Traditions that allows you to apply certain Drawbacks and Boons to how your campaign setting's magic, or even subsets of that magic, is used.

For example, it's suggested that Wizards have to use the "Traditional Magic" Casting Tradition. Traditional Magic is listed as the drawbacks of Verbal Casting, Somatic Casting (2), Material Casting, and Prepared Caster.

Verbal Casting means you must speak in a loud, clear voice to cast your spells, and all that that implies
Somatic Casting 1 means you need a free hand to cast spells and you cannot wear armor heavier than light armor without incurring a chance of spell failure. Somatic Casting 2 means you cannot wear any armor or shield at all without incurring a chance of spell failure.
Material Casting means there are material components to your spells, and the most handwavey you can get is that the player can set aside a portion of their money for materials, and they'll deduct from that pool at a rate of 1 sp per caster level spellcast.
Prepared Caster means that at the start of every day, you have to assign your spell points to certain spheres, and you cannot spend more than what you've assigned.

The "Divine Petitioner" Casting Tradition is the one recommended to be applied for Clerics, and that Tradition carries the properties of Verbal Casting, Focus Casting, Prepared Caster, Aligned Combatant (Destruction), Aligned Protection (Protection)

Focus Casting means you need some object, such as a holy symbol, to cast your magic through
Aligned Combatant means that you need to select an alignment, and then your Destruction sphere spells cannot harm creatures of the same alignment, and deals double damage to creatures of the opposite alignment
Aligned Protection means that you need to select an alignment, and then your Protection sphere spells only provide protection against creatures of the opposite alignment
and finally it's recommended that porting over the Cleric to this book's spellcasting should include the Cleric getting either the Life or Death basic sphere for free

Other examples of Casting Traditions include Blood Magic and Runist. Blood Magic, for example, requires Verbal Casting, Somatic Casting 2, and then also Draining Casting and Extended Casting as drawbacks, but gains Deathful Magic, Overcharge and Fortified Magic as boons

Draining Casting means you deal yourself non-lethal damage whenever you cast your spells
Extended Casting means the casting time for any spell goes up by 1 (swift become move, move becomes standard, standard becomes full-round, etc)

Deathful Magic as a boon increases your caster level whenever you're at 50% HP or less, and again when you're at 25% HP or less
Overcharge lets you boost your caster level at the cost of causing Fatigue/Exhaustion on yourself
Fortified Magic lets you use CON as your casting ability modifier.

Finally, there are drawbacks that you can apply to specific spheres. I already mentioned the Aligned Combatant/Protection ones, but there's also stuff like Alteration starting with the Animalistic Form and not having the Blank Form, so that all Shapeshifts will always cause a physical transformation.

In short, yes, there's a whole chapter that talks about how you can "dress up" the spellcasting of your campaign.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015
So it's pretty much effects-based? Neato.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
Speaking of d20 magic systems and gradenko_2000:



Spellcasting 101

Arcana is Blue Roseís magic system. Itís divided into six different arts: animism, healing, meditative, psychic, shaping, and visionary.

Sorcery is another kind of arcana that is supposed to be exceptionally powerful, but at the cost of letting the user become corrupted by the Shadow.

Arcana have ranks, like skills.

If youíre an Adept hero, you have a rank of [level+3] in all Arcana that youíre trained in
.
If youíre a non-Adept hero, you have a rank of (level+3)/2 in all Arcana that youíre trained in.

If youíre a multi-class character, your Arcana rank is either [Adept level+3], or [(non-Adept level+3)/2], whichever is higher, except any Arcana that you learn through the Arcane Training feat has a rank of [total level+3]

Each Arcana also has an associated attribute with it, which you add along with the Arcanaís rank on the d20 roll. Just like using skills, you roll d20, add the Arcanaís rank, and then add the associated attribute, and the effect depends on how high the result is.

Because some Arcana, particularly psychic ones, deal with minds and thoughts and feelings, there are rules for Familiarity: the DC of these Arcana checks will increase if the subject is not visibly to the naked eye/not physically present or not in direct mental contact. People, places and things that youíre close to or have spent lots of time with will only add a +5 to the DC, while a subject that has only been described to the Adept will add a whopping +25 to the DC.

Arcana that require attack rolls always add Dexterity.

Arcana that require saving throws have a saving throw DC of [10 + (Adept level / 2) + associated attribute]

Some Arcana can cause fatigue: when they are cast, the Adept needs to make a Will saving throw of DC [10 + (Arcana rank / 2)]. If they fail, they suffer a level of Fatigue, which plays into Blue Roseís damage system. Further, the DC cumulatively increases by 1 for every fatigue-causing Arcana cast within the same hour. Finally, an Adept can actually choose to cast Arcana at a lower rank, to a minimum of 1, in order to reduce the DC of the resulting Will save.

Arcana can be cast on multiple targets: itís a +2 to the DC of the Arcana check, and also the Will saving throw if itís a fatigue-causing Arcana for every target beyond the first. If itís an Arcana that needs a saving throw, itís a -2 to the saving throw DC for every target beyond the first. Any Arcana thatís cast this way now needs a full-round action to be cast, and any Arcana that already required a full-action needs a second one.

Some Arcana can be maintained, so that their effects can be retained round after round after round. This requires a Free Action to do. If the Adept is already maintaining one Arcana when they cast another one (whether this second one requires maintenance or not), the Arcana check DC and the Will saving throw DC is increased by 2. Some Arcana require total concentration, which means the maintenance requires a Standard Action rather than a Free Action.

If the Adept is distracted, they must make a Concentration skill check with a DC based on whatever happened to them, +2 for every effect that theyíre already maintaining. If they fail the Concentration check, all maintained effects cease. For an idea of what the Concentration checks are like:

High winds, and/or rain and/or sleet: DC 5
Getting damaged: DC 10 + damage bonus
Taking continuous damage: DC 10 + half of the last dealt continuous damage bonus
Vigorous motion (bouncy vehicle ride, small boat in rough water, riding a horse): DC 10
Wind-driven hail, dust, or debris: DC 10
Violent motion (small boat in rapids, galloping horse): DC 15
Entangled, such as by a snare: DC 15
Extraordinarily violent motion, such as an earthquake: DC 20
Bound, grappling or pinned: DC 20

Despite all the streamlining they did with the skill system, I feel like leaving in Concentration was a missed opportunity. Even if you donít have to fiddle around with skill points anymore, you still have to tag Concentration as a known and favored skill if you want to be able to use Arcana reliably, and if youíre not going to be using Arcana then itís a rather useless skill for you. Itís a skill tax.

:snoop:Okay, so earlier on in this review I discussed some of the themes and common elements of the romantic fantasy genre, one of which is the fact that magic isn't a strange and alien force known only by a few weird hermits living in towers or evil overlords, magic is commonplace and everybody probably knows a little. The way that Blue Rose handles this is through feat selection (womp-womp) in the sense that none of the three PC classes, not even Adepts, actually have inherent spells. The way you acquire spells is by taking certain feats which grant you training in one or more arcana. Any class can take the feat which grants you training in a single arcana, while Adepts have access to feats which give them multiple arcana as well as allow them to use various arcana untrained.

So that sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? Your Warrior can learn a magic spell or two and doesn't even need to multiclass in order to do so. Well sorta yes and sorta no. As gradenko illustrates above, spells in Blue Rose are handled like skills and non-Adept classes inherently have lower ranks in any spell, even ones they're trained in. Furthermore there's the fact that most arcana are tied to attributes whose bonus you add to the d20 casting check and guess which attributes are by far the most commonly seen? If you guessed "all the attributes that fighter-types typically dump" then give yourself a prize. All arcana are linked to Wisdom, Intelligence, or Charisma, even Body Control which is not so subtly encouraged as "hey maybe fighters should take this wink wink" is linked to Wisdom instead of, say, Constitution or something.

It's not enough to prevent someone from acquiring and using spells per se, but it does mean that non-Adepts are always going to run annoying odds of rolling against DC 15 checks (or higher in some cases) with, say, a +4/+5 modifier while the Adept has double that, and since spells take up anywhere from a move to a full-round action to use, flipping a coin to see if you successfully use a spell or not seems like a bit of a bum deal and further encouragement for fighter types to stick with tried and true methods of swording people to death. It's not the most egregiously offensive divide between casters and non-casters I've ever seen, but for the sort of fantasy Blue Rose is attempting to emulate it doesn't go far enough for my money.
:snoop:

Next Time: Everyone's second favorite part of any given d20 fantasy game, spell lists

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Unknown Armies: Postmodern Magick Penis-Beasts and Robo-Men



After the Adepts comes a chapter on Unnatural Beings which did not show up in the 2nd edition of Unknown Armies. They're pretty weird so it's worth a look-see.

Automatons



If you recall, way back when I did the review on the Mechanomancer it was noted that you can do a whole lot with a Major charge...well, Automata are Major clockworks taken one step further. Like Tina Lovac from the main book, they are self-aware, sentient and (sometimes) free-willed clockwork that is, mostly, indistinguishable from a living human. They don't need food or water (although they could potentially do so for appearances sake) and they don't excrete (including sweat). They may or may not be anatomically correct.

They can include any and all of the features of a Major clockwork (such as retractable blades or claws) and like Major clockwork they can be built with true emotions and feelings, or even with the trapped soul of a once-living human inside. Of course, if an automaton is fully and emotionally "real" they can suffer from Stress just like a normal human.

They also have an additional restriction: finicky power sources. Automatons can be built to hold up to 40 days worth of potential energy in their internal clockwork (they can be designed to hold less, usually so they're less independent). They can also spend a day's worth of energy for a burst of strength and/or speed (+10% to Speed or Body for a single roll, up to +50%, or a single +10% to a strength/speed based Skill). If they're hit by a matched success in combat it also permanently lowers their storage by 1 day due to damage to their power train.

Normal Automatons need to be "wound up" in order to restore their energy supply. Sometimes this takes the form of an actual winding keyhole somewhere on their body, sometimes its a limb that needs to be rotated or manipulated. The only restriction is that the automaton can't perform the action themselves, they can't add energy directly into their own system although they could potentially use other devices (such as simply clamping their key into the end of a power drill or similar) and many mechanomancers also create minor clockworks whose sole function is rewinding their automatons.

Of course, a mechanomancer can always build their Automaton with a perpetual motion engine but that has its own risks: They automatically gain two days of energy every day, a net positive...and if they go over their limit then they suffer 1d10 damage per point over (and every 1 rolled on this damage reduces their capacity permanently by a point). Of course, so long as the Automaton can keep active (even if its just some "exercise" to burn off the energy) there's no real danger from overcharging. The biggest problem is that whenever they roll a matched result on a Speed or Body based skill the dice are added together and added to the Automaton's Speed score and once their speed doubles then they explode.

Automatons can become Mechanomancers as well and (if they're good enough) even scavenge their own body parts to produce Automaton "children".

Finally, (although the book chides you as a powergamer for considering it) you do have the potential option of creating an automaton PC character.

Carnals

:nws:http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v348/oriongates/carnal_zpscoauchhs.png:nws:

Meet the rape monster.

Literally, the Carnal is the product of rape and similar sex-crimes, the glistening, jiggling hate-baby left behind by the psychic residue of some of the worst stuff imaginable. The description is...unpleasant...with words with "veiny", "musky" and "moist" thrown around quite liberally.

Yes, these are basically tentacle rape ghosts which haunt the area where the crime took place, manifesting when a similar victim appears and then re-enacting the crime with the added fun of violent murder. It's possible to "kill" them while they're corporeal, but this just destroys their physical form and they eventually re-appear within a few weeks. They can be summoned like demons and potentially killed permanently in a similar way.

I don't think anyone is sad that these things didn't show up in later books, I can't imagine them actually making anyone's game more enjoyable. UA can be pretty god-drat hosed up sometimes...but I think we can all agree tentacle-monsters belong in poo poo-holes like Black Tokyo.

Faeries

Here's something I'm glad didn't show in up 2nd edition as well, but for very different reasons. Faeries are technically a species of Revenant, i.e. ghosts. Specifically, the ghost of a stillborn child who is tied to the physical world by the grief of its parents. While that's not entirely unoriginal, the actual Faeries themselves are almost completely stereotypical.



They pretty much hit all the main points: they're whimsical, mischievous, concerned mainly with their own entertainment and play. Despite being the spirits of unborn babies they typically are just as intelligent as normal adults, but lacking in morals or empathy. They have a crude "culture" mainly concerned with passing fads and codes of conduct and they've even got their own vague "dreamworld" separate from the rest of UA's cosmology and in places where the border between the "real" world and faerie-land grows thin faeries can manifest (or those dreaming, drugged or insane may visit it mentally). They use simple, weak telekinesis to create false bodies and illusions from dust, cobweb and similar materials.

One upside: they're magically delicious. If you eat a faerie the pure purity of their souls instantly makes you ten years younger.

Ghost Writer


No, not that one

Ghost Writers are another Revenant...or actually they're demons. The distinction between the two can get a little vague. Basically they're Demons whose obsession is a bit more refined than your average sex-fiend or glutton. They want to create art (usually, but not necessarily, writing). And while they're just as obsessed as any other demon, the nature of their obsession means that their methods are a bit different. They don't just want to jot down a few pages while fighting their host's will only to have their works thrown in the trash...their obsession is to complete their art and that's just not going to happen while they're fighting some meat-sack for supremacy.

To that end they focus on finding sleeping victims, possessing them, working on their projects and then getting their host back to bed before their conscious minds wake up. Sometimes the ghost writer will try and send its works out to publishers or otherwise get "recognition' which can lead to odd situations for the clueless host. Otherwise they're basically identical to demons except for one skill: Ghost Author, which they can use to automatically seize control of a victim's writing, allowing the ghost writer to control what actually gets written or typed out. Typically they only use this once they've practically finished their project or if they realize that their host is onto them and is trying to force them out.

The Wronged

The Wronged are Revenants that hide themselves in the shadows of someone who has been falsely accused of a terrible crime, but found innocent. The Wronged were, in life, themselves the victim of a similar situation. In death they find a similar host and they "re-enact" the crime that they were accused of, wearing the hosts face while they do it (but not possessing them...the host's shadow vanishes while the Wronged is out committing the crime and it uses it to create a false body). The Wronged's goal is to keep suspicion alive, by wearing the host's face and committing "copy-cat" crimes it keeps suspicion alive in the community and focused on its host...even while its usually clearly impossible for the host to be guilty. If a host dies the Wronged will simply move on.

The only way to lay one to rest (beyond magickally killing or binding it) is to completely and absolutely prove the host innocent of any wrong-doing in the eyes of their community (usually by finding a new target for the public's suspicion).

Thaumophages

The Sleepers have a ritual that they can use to transform an ordinary Astral Parasite into a Thaumophage...a magick-eater.

Thaumophages aren't hunters though, they're traps. They must be bound to a potential source of magick, something an adept might use to get a charge (a book, a bottle of alchohol, a historic site, a person, etc). Any time an adept tries to get a charge off of the infected source the Thaumophage will awaken and devour all of their charges. This can be used as a trap (sneak an "infected" drink to a dipsomancy and they'll lose all their current charges) or to "poison the well" for long-term charging, such as tainting a cliomantic charging site or a dipsomancy significant vessel.

However, they can also only act when someone tries to charge up from an infected source, they aren't otherwise resistant to magick or able to feed off of it without being "tapped" by an adept. So a Dipsomancy or Thanatomancer could easily kill a Thaumophage once they're aware of it and it's even possible to bind a Thaumophage to an adept as a defense...a Bibliomancer with a thaumophage "bound" to them won't have any problem getting their charges from their books but the thaumophage would devour all the charges of any adept who tried to use the Biblomancer as a source of charges themselves (such as an Amoramancer flirting with them or a Personamancer imitating them).

If killed a Thaumophage goes off with a bang: releasing all eaten charges as unnatural phenomena.


Artifacts

Some of these artifacts were reprinted in the 2nd edition core book, and some (The Transcription book) are just boring. Here are the highlights.


Mal Gusano (minor)
Want to piss of a Dipsomancer? Slip him one of these. The Mal Gusano (Bad Worm) is a microscopic tapeworm egg that survives in alcohol. When drunk by a dipsomancer it grows into a full-sized tapeworm and devours every third charge. You still get drunker, you just lose a bit of magick. And you've got a tapeworm.

Even worse, they're a bitch to get rid of (assuming you can even figure out what's going on). Each charge they "eat" will keep the tapeworm alive and happy for a week, but once they're used up the thing'll die in a week without any charges. That may not sound like too long but remember how many charges the dipsomancer tends to generate at once and the fact that "starving" the tapeworm requires them to go sober...probably for months at a time. Those who figure out what happened usually get it removed surgically (if they can afford it) and then make a point of hunting down the bastard who slipped them the worm.

The Alter Tongue
The Alter Tongue is one of those nearly world-ending incidents that fly under the radar.

It started with a pair of fraternal twins, Robert and Virginia Alter, born in 1918. Their mother died when they were 4 and they were left with an abusive uncle who kept them locked away in an old barn. Kept in almost constant darkness and totally alone they were only "freed" 8 years later. Their uncle was locked up and they were taken to an orphanage.

Like all creepy twins, they had their own language. But sealed in their barn their "secret language" went far deeper than normal. It had its own complex grammar and a vocabulary with no relation to any other language. It was a primitive, primal language and it resonated with the Statosphere in a way normal words didn't. Even worse...it was infectious. Before long other orphans and orphanage staff picked up a few words here and there and it began to slip into their everyday speech. The more you were exposed to the language the more it changed you, bringing you closer to others who spoke the language and closer to the Statosphere. Before long the orphanage was cut off...no one left and they no longer spoke anything other than the Alter Tongue. The building itself starting warping...the interior was unlit and the walls turned to bales of straw. In the darkness the shapes of the Archetypes could sometimes be seen out of the corner of your eye.

It all ended with a strange visitor who went directly to see the Alter twins and spoke to them fluently in their own language for almost an hour...then killed every man woman and child in the orphanage, leaving their bodies to rot and burning every written document of the language. The police discovered this two weeks later, with the only clue being a note: "Not Yet, I Think".

Despite the Count De Saint Germain's extermination of the orphanage, the language still survives in the form of a few wax-cylinder recordings made by linguistics students back when the twins were first discovered, kept in the Ohio State University Archives.

If exposed to the language for more than a few minutes you must make a Soul roll or become "infected". If you fail then the words begin to slip into your vocabulary and knowledge of the language starts to spread. Every week after that you have to make another Soul check. If you succeed you can shake off the infection but each failure inflicts a -10% penalty to further checks to resist it. once the penalty exceeds your Soul stat the infection has totally taken hold. Those infected suffer repeated unnatural phenomena as the language distorts reality around them. The unnatural effects worsen over time and will usually lead to Stress checks.

Obviously, wide-scale exposure could be catastrophic to say the least and one of the few unnatural events powerful and insidious enough to slay even the Sleeping Tiger.

The Crying Doll (Significant)

Your standard barby-style doll, except it looks like it's been dipped in blood and then painted with mystic glyphs and bound with red yarn around the neck and ankles (allowing it to be worn as a necklace).


like so

The doll is essentially a magick-detector. It cries within 13 yards of an adept or avatar, or moaning within 13 yards of an unnatural creature and shaking when within 13 yards of an artifact. All of these reactions intensity the closer the doll gets to the source of magick.

Demon Stration Tape (significant)

Really stretching for a pun there.

This is magickal police tape, the modern version of a pentagram or circle of salt. By writing a charm of protection on the reverse side of the tape and wrapping it across a doorway or around an area you can block demons, whether material, immaterial or bound to an object or person. They can't touch or affect the tape either. The power lasts until the adept leaves the tape's protective area or anyone else breaks the "barrier".

The Gremlin Factory (Significant)

The gremlin factory is a remnant of old-school mechanomancy, the result of a pissed off old mechanomancy raging against "kids these days" with their fancy filament light bulbs and internal combustion engines. The Gremlin factory does exactly what it says on the tin...it makes gremlins.

What exactly gremlins are is never described. They're apparently microscopic, something a bit like a mechanical "virus". They are made by filling the Factory (which looks like a wooden cabinet studded with levers and dials) with fine clockwork parts and then turning it on (requiring a Mechanomancy skill check), whereupon a bottle full of gremlins is produced. If you just throw in some parts and pull some levers you get "generic" gremlins which can "infect" a machine they come into contact with, inflicting a penalty to all skills using it equal to the sum of the Mechanomancy roll for 12 hours and reducing the machines overall efficiency by an equal percentage.

The machine can also be "fine-tuned" to target the gremlins to specific devices, causing that device to suffer a penalty equal to the roll for 24 hours. A matched success gives 4 times the normal result (rendering most machines inoperable).

The Knocking Box (Significant)

I would call this artifact the Holy Grail for the Order of St Cecil...but they're also looking for the actual holy grail. Essentially this is the mystic equivalent of the Ecto-Containment System from Ghostbusters. It's a simple wooden box with the words "Knock Thrice" and "Do Not Open" inscribed in archaic german in the wood.

It was used by an order of monks, who long predate the Cecilites, as a means of imprisoning Demons and similar rogue spirits. By knocking three times on the box any "loose" spirits are irresistibly (-20% soul check to resist) drawn inside and trapped. The monks would then perform a ritual to release the demon's souls, sending them to their final rest (or at least sticking them back beyond the Veil where they belong). Unfortunately, that ritual is long forgotten and while the Vatican kept ahold of the box for a few more centuries its missing now too.

Of course, as a powerful tool for containing demons is going to be insanely valuable to begin with...but there's one big problem. Although the ritual to release demons from the box has been lost for centuries the box has seen extremely enthusiastic use nevertheless...and those demons are still trapped inside. Thousands of them. While they're in the box they're completely cut off...they can't be summoned or banished (beyond the specific ritual for the box) and they can't even be attacked with magick. And all it takes to release them is for the box to be opened.

If that happens everyone within 10 KM would likely end up possessed, by multiple demons, including the animals (leading to widespread lycanthropy) and everyone with 1000 KM with above-average Spirit scores would be a magnet for demonic forces.

Not good.

The Cardboard Palace (Major)

Dear god, the cardboard palace is a cool artifact...but does it really need almost 4 pages devoted to it? Here's a summary.

The wizard-hobo equivalent of a floating tower. The artifact itself is a dirty shoebox held together with duct tape and covered in weird symbols. This is the King Box, which grants its holder access to the Cardboard Palace, an extradimensional realm of hobo delights.

The Cardboard Palace is an Otherspace consisting of sprawling cardboard tunnels and rooms which "claims" unused space from all cardboard boxes within 5 blocks. Essentially, so long as the boxes are intact and are open on no more than one side they "share" their space with the Palace...but as boxes get filled in, busted up, or moved the size of the Palace shrinks.

In addition the holder of the King Box can (with a Soul Check) sense how many suitable boxes are within the King Box's sphere of influence and open (and close) up to 10 simultaneous gateways to the Palace through suitable boxes. Alternatively the boxes can also serve as windows instead of doors and the arrangement of the Palace (within the limits of the available space) can be changed at will and the holder of the King Box can sense any living things in his domain.

But...there are always "buts". The King Box itself cannot be taken into the Palace and must be left in one of the gateway boxes. Nor can the King Box be disguised with magic. Finally, it's got a bit of "One Ring Syndrome" a tendency to get inconveniently lost, stolen, misplaced, etc...a tendency that increases the more security is used to try and keep it safe.

What's more, it can be pretty unsafe in the box-world. Sudden changes in size (caused by a large volume of boxes being lost) can slice you up as the walls rapidly expand or contract and if the King Box is flattened everything inside gets smushed.

However, there's one remaining feature that makes the box-world pretty worthwhile: magick can't travel from the normal world to the Box-World and so long as you're inside the cardboard palace spells cast from outside won't effect you (downside: they remain "on hold" to get you once you emerge) and inside the palace adepts can only use magick if you wish. Still, the Cardboard Palace is probably a better prison or trap than it is a home.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 13:28 on Oct 8, 2015

Strange Matter
Oct 6, 2009

Ask me about Genocide

oriongates posted:

The Cardboard Palace (Major)

Dear god, the cardboard palace is a cool artifact...but does it really need almost 4 pages devoted to it? Here's a summary.

The wizard-hobo equivalent of a floating tower. The artifact itself is a dirty shoebox held together with duct tape and covered in weird symbols. This is the King Box, which grants its holder access to the Cardboard Palace, an extradimensional realm of hobo delights.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Yeah, it was exactly what I thought of too. Especially since you can absolutely re-enact the box chase scene.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!

Kai Tave posted:

Part of the issue too though, in my opinion, is how weird it is that players get really knee-jerk over anything that might influence their character in any way aside from physical violence. Murder, torture, infestation by body-horror parasites, disfigurement, all this stuff is accepted as fair game without a second thought, but the moment the possibility exists that an NPC might persuade a PC of something then all at once it's like what no gently caress YOU, you can't tell me what to do, I punch the ambassador in the face. I know the usual argument has to do with preserving player agency, but "your character dies" is pretty much the ultimate loss of agency and that's considered such a default component of the typical RPG experience that most people don't even question it.

Well, the instant that the GM, or by extention the GM's NPCs, are telling the PC's what to think, say or do, it's basically just the GM sitting around jerking himself off while the players occasionally pretend to be involved. The issue is that a character being physically threatened or injured doesn't rob the player of agency(though it may limit their options), while "diplomancy" most certainly does. I could make a character where I'd not be annoyed by social mechanics basically playing him for me, but then you'd find that I'd made a character who was, to me, just a bunch of mechanics, not someone I was actually invested in to any extent.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

HELL SERPENT
Lipstick Apathy
Spheres of Power

With another random roll, our next sphere is


(odd-looking icon, this one)

This is the summoner sphere. The basic ability upon first learning this sphere is to summon a creature with a standard action. That creature is called a Companion. Keeping the Companion present requires Concentration, but the caster can spend a spell point to let the Companion persist without Concentration for 1 minute per caster level.

The book lists "sympathetic angels or demons, elemental spirits, or primordial beings only given form after the contract is made. Thus, a companion could have the form of a knight in armor, a demonic dog, a flying anthropomorphic cat, or indeed virtually any other form." as examples of possible Companions.

Companions cannot and will not look exactly the same as another creature, so you cannot use it as a disguise.

Resummoning your Companion within the same day will not restore any of its hit points nor its resources/abilities. If they reach 0 HP, they disappear and cannot be resummoned until the next day. Companions can be healed, but they will only recover HP by themselves whenever the caster regains spell points.

Companions cannot be used to carry equipment/items, not can they use equipment beyond what they gain from various Conjuration talents.

The Companion's stats are defined in a table:


The caster can choose to make the Companion either a Biped, a Quadruped or Serpentine, which determines a couple of things like their base speed, natural AC, good/bad saving throws, basic attacks and ability scores.

The caster can also choose to make the Companion a Small sized creature instead of Medium, with all that that implies.

One special note is that the Companion can learn any feat that it's eligible for given its stats, but Spheres of Power includes a feat called Basic Magic Training that lets any character with no spellcaster levels to learn a single sphere and gain one spell point. The Companion is specifically disallowed from learning the Conjuration sphere itself, lest it cause turtles all the way down.

Continuing with the Alteration theme, it's good that this summoning sphere is again just limited to stats and parameters here in this specific book, so that you don't run into the 3.5 problem of having to thumb through the Monster Manual to get the stats for your summoned Elk or whatever.

Conjuration Talents

Some talents are classified as Form talents, of which the caster will automatically learn two of their choice as soon as they select this sphere.

Additional Limbs [Form] - the Companion gains one of the following: a head, 2 arms, 2 legs, a tail. This does not grant them any additional attacks in and of themselves, but the book mentions that you can leverage these limbs to get extra attacks from the Alteration sphere.

Aligned Creature [Form] - the Companion gains one end of an alignment spectrum that the caster belongs to, and then can use the Smite class feature as a Paladin against targets of an opposite alignment.

Altered Size [Form] - the Companion's size can be changed by one more category larger or smaller, with all that that implies.

Animal Creature [Form] - the Companion gains extra land speed and the Scent ability

Armored Companion [Form] - the Companion gains a +2 armor bonus, plus more as it levels, and the Companion can be visually described as being more heavily armored.

Avian Creature [Form] - the Companion gains wings and flight speed. Alternatively, you can declare that the flight is gained through magical means, which lets you skip the wings and have Perfect maneuverability, but will make the flight property vulnerable to anti-magic effects.

Battle Creature [Form] - the Companion is a warrior; it has proficiency with simple weapons and has 2 masterwork weapons that it can wield when it is summoned. The weapons gain a +1 bonus per 3 Hit Dice, up to a maximum of 5. If this form is taken a second time, the Companion gains proficiency with martial weapons, can then be summoned with martial weapons, and is considered an nth level Fighter per Hit Dice for the purposes of feat prerequisites.

Bestial [Form] - the Companion gains one natural attack out of a list of 11, provided they have the limbs that can support it. This talent can be taken multiple times to gain more natural attacks.

Boon Companion [Form] - the Companion's abilities and Hit Dice are computed as if your caster level was 5 higher, up to a maximum of being equal to your character level.

Draconic Creature [Form] - the Companion is draconic in nature; it gains a breath weapon.

Earth Creature [Form] - the Companion gains Burrow speed and Tremorsense.

Elemental Creature [Form] - the Companion deals an additional 1d3 damage with all of its natural attacks. The damage can be cold, fire, acid or electricity. The damage die becomes larger per 5 Hit Dice.

Extra Companion - you can summon an additional Companion, but you cannot summon the same Companion twice. You may take this talent multiple times.

I should note at this point that there's a part of the description of the sphere that describes Companions as creatures that you "make a contract with", so you're not just summoning any random angel, or displacer beast, etc., but rather one specific angel or one specific beast, hence the limitation on why Companions are individually identified and cannot be summoned twice

Fortified Companion [Form] - the Companion gains a scaling CON bonus

Greater Summoning - spending a spell point now allows the Companion to persist without Concentration for 10 minutes per caster level.

Lingering Companion [Form] - spending a spell point now allows the Companion to persist without Concentration for 1 hour per caster level. If you also have Greater Summoning, then spending a spell point means the Companion does not need Concentration to persist at all as long as you spend a spell point.

Link - you gain a telepathic link with your Companion and can communicate with them over any distance, so long as they're on the same plane.

Magic Attacks [Form] - the Companion's natural attacks are considered magical weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. At 7 Hit Dice they count as cold iron, and at 14 Hit Dice they count as adamantine.

Magical Companion [Form] - the Companion gains extra Charisma, a spell point pool, a caster level equal to half its Hit Dice, and its feats can instead be used to learn Magic Talents. The Companion can never learn the Conjuration sphere.

Monstrous Attacks [Form] - the Companion can add one of the following additional effects to its natural attacks: trip, grab, pull, lunge, constrict, poison. This talent can be taken multiple times.

Natural Aspect [Form] - the Companion gains one of the following special monster qualities: pounce, leaping attack, rend, trample, rock catching, rock throwing, Fast Healing 1. This talent can be taken multiple times.

And just for consistency the book says you can use the descriptions of these special qualities from the Alteration section, instead of having to look them up elsewhere.

Powerful Companion [Form] - the Companion gains a scaling STR bonus

Quick Companion [Form] - the Companion gains a scaling DEX bonus

At this point though I'm beginning to think you're going to need to maintain a separate character sheet just to keep all the Companion stats in order, although I suppose that's part of the reason why the book tries to make it a point that the Companion is always one specific individual.

Ranged Summoning - you can summon a Companion within Close range, instead of just on an adjacent square.

Resistance [Form] - the Companion gains a scaling Resistance against either fire, acid, cold, electricity or sonic damage. This talent can be taken multiple times, applying to a different damage type each time.

Roguish Creature [Form] - the Companion gains Sneak Attack and its feats can instead be used to learn Rogue Talents, including Advanced Talents at 10 Hit Dice.

Shadow Creature [Form] - the Companion is made of shadow; it gains Darkvision, low-light vision, and a bonus to Stealth checks. It takes half damage from attacks and magic from corporeal targets, but also only deals half damage to the same. Incorporeal creatures take and deal full damage to the Companion.

Shield Bearer [Form] - the Companion is proficient with shields and can be summoned bearing a shield. This can also be a tower shield if you spend the Companion's feats to gain Tower Shield Proficiency. The shield is masterwork and gains a scaling enhancement bonus with the Companion's Hit Dice.

Skillful Companion [Form] - the Companion gains 3 INT, 1 more skill point per Hit Dice, and 3 new class skills.

Transformative [Form] - the Companion gains Disguise as a class skill and can make Disguise checks as a spell-like ability.

Undead Creature [Form] - the Companion is considered an Undead for the purposes of interacting with negative/positive energy and spell targeting. The Companion gains Channel Resistance and a save bonus against disease, exhaustion, fatigue, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning. If you take this talent a second time, the Companion gains immunity to those effects and no longer needs to breathe.

Water Creature [Form] - the Companion gains swim speed, the ability to breathe underwater and Blindsense while in water.

Willful Companion [Form] - the Companion gains a scaling WIS bonus, and can roll-twice-take-better on Will saves.

Much like Alteration, this is a self-contained and streamlined spell/effect list. There's a LOT of flavor that you could get from this: Rangers can use it to play Beastmaster, Wizards can summon their familiars, Druids can play up the nature-summoning aspect of that character, you might even have Death Knights with an Undead squire, or a Necromancer with an Abomination or a Vampire with their Igor buddy. Also of note is that you're probably going to need to sink enough of your Magic Talents into the Forms that you can't one-and-done this like traditional 3.x summoning spells.

Up Next:

Alteration
Creation - 1
Conjuration
Dark - 1
Death
Destruction
Divination - 1
Enhancement
Fate
Illusion
Life
Light - 1
Mind
Nature
Protection
Telekinesis
Time
War
Warp
Weather

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:

gradenko_2000 posted:

Spheres of Power

With another random roll, our next sphere is


(odd-looking icon, this one)


Hello there Eidolon rules, what are you doing in a book like this?

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

oriongates posted:

Mal Gusano (minor)
Want to piss of a Dipsomancer? Slip him one of these. The Mal Gusano (Bad Worm) is a microscopic tapeworm egg that survives in alcohol. When drunk by a dipsomancer it grows into a full-sized tapeworm and devours every third charge. You still get drunker, you just lose a bit of magick. And you've got a tapeworm.

Even worse, they're a bitch to get rid of (assuming you can even figure out what's going on). Each charge they "eat" will keep the tapeworm alive and happy for a week, but once they're used up the thing'll die in a week without any charges. That may not sound like too long but remember how many charges the dipsomancer tends to generate at once and the fact that "starving" the tapeworm requires them to go sober...probably for months at a time. Those who figure out what happened usually get it removed surgically (if they can afford it) and then make a point of hunting down the bastard who slipped them the worm.
That's funny, because I know a guy who knows a guy who was diagnosed with a tapeworm...and killed it by giving it alcohol poisoning.

This is, by the way, a very dumb way to kill your tapeworm.

Serf
May 5, 2011


Halloween Jack posted:

That's funny, because I know a guy who knows a guy who was diagnosed with a tapeworm...and killed it by giving it alcohol poisoning.

This is, by the way, a very dumb way to kill your tapeworm.

This dude sounds hardcore. Stupid, but hardcore.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer

oriongates posted:

One upside: they're magically delicious. If you eat a faerie the pure purity of their souls instantly makes you ten years younger.

They're also aware of just how amazingly delicious they are. If they catch wind of someone trying to find a way to play Gargamel, they'll get together and try even harder to make sure he doesn't get to enjoy more than one or two of those stolen years.

Nihilarian
Oct 2, 2013


It's nice that Spheres of Power drops all pretense and lets you literally just summon a rogue, so no one else has to play one.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib

PurpleXVI posted:

Well, the instant that the GM, or by extention the GM's NPCs, are telling the PC's what to think, say or do, it's basically just the GM sitting around jerking himself off while the players occasionally pretend to be involved. The issue is that a character being physically threatened or injured doesn't rob the player of agency(though it may limit their options), while "diplomancy" most certainly does. I could make a character where I'd not be annoyed by social mechanics basically playing him for me, but then you'd find that I'd made a character who was, to me, just a bunch of mechanics, not someone I was actually invested in to any extent.

Yet again, this seems to stem from social conflict system which are lovely and couch everything in terms of absolute mind-control. Not every social combat system has to be like that, just like how not every game has to be as lovely as Exalted 2E (which seems to be the go-to example for many peoples' gunshy aversion to social combat given how it was highly touted prior to the game coming out and then when it was released it turned out to be pretty bad along with the rest of the game). I admit I'm not really clear on what separates acceptably limiting a player's options through things like threats of violence (you totally have the free will to do something that's probably going to get you seriously injured or killed, no coercion there at all) and unacceptably limiting a player's options through other coercive means.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Well, I find that it's definitely less bad to have the option, but to have it have consequences(those guards will pound you into dust) than to have the option magically taken away from you at all. In the former case, you at least get to roleplay your character grudgingly accepting that he can't steal the Jewel of Infinite Awesomeness right away. On the other hand, if the GM's NPC walks up to you and, with a few dice rolls, either Diplomances you into being a different alignment or just removes your desire to have the Jewel at all, that just feels like bullshit, because it takes away my getting to roleplay my character.

I legitimately can't think of any sort of "social combat" that wouldn't result in someone else deciding what my character does, rather than my doing so. Like, however limited the local version of diplomancy is, that's still the end result: Someone else decides what my character does or thinks.

That Old Tree
Jun 24, 2012

nah


Are you at all familiar with Weapons of the Gods/Legend of the Wulin?

fool of sound
Oct 10, 2012

Kai Tave posted:

Yet again, this seems to stem from social conflict system which are lovely and couch everything in terms of absolute mind-control. Not every social combat system has to be like that, just like how not every game has to be as lovely as Exalted 2E (which seems to be the go-to example for many peoples' gunshy aversion to social combat given how it was highly touted prior to the game coming out and then when it was released it turned out to be pretty bad along with the rest of the game). I admit I'm not really clear on what separates acceptably limiting a player's options through things like threats of violence (you totally have the free will to do something that's probably going to get you seriously injured or killed, no coercion there at all) and unacceptably limiting a player's options through other coercive means.

PurpleXVI once argued to me that FATE compels are unfair GM control of player characters. I don't think this is going to go anywhere.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015
The cleverly-named fighting game RPG Fight! featured social combat rules that are exactly like the normal combat rules. So you can make a Phoenix Wright or Yu-Gi-Oh! campaign that plays like Street Fighter (of the miiiind!)


Why can't Bags of Holding be like that?

Kurieg posted:

Hello there Eidolon rules, what are you doing in a book like this?

But can you munchkin the Companion into an attack-spamming whirlwind with around a dozen arms?

The Dark Eye


Now allow me to go a bit crazy and cover all those TDE races you can't play as (though I might skip over really obscure ones).

Aventurian Races

Cyclopes

These one-eyed giants (around 15 ft.) and children of Ingerimm are Aventurian natives and live on the island group named after them (where you can also find other critters from Greek mythology). They are pretty moody smiths so fire-resistant that they can hold glowing steel with their bare hands. Their weapon of choice - aside from a sledge hammer or a big rock - is the Pailos, a hybrid of sorts between a two-handed axe and a halberd that can be wielded as either. The Horasians living on these islands have downsized the design for their own use and have a warrior academy specializing in it.

Fey

Your fairies, nymphs and such. The originate from the same world as the elves, and their behavior can reach from helpful or mischievous to plain evil. Unlike elves, the fey are still deeply rooted in their original homeworld and only visit Dere for short trips, as living and casting spells there too much drains their life essence (called Sikaryan), which can either kill them or turn them into evil Black Feys.

Gargyles (TDE felt clever by removing the "o")

Sentient winged stone golem-like creatures able to reproduce. They gobble up Sikaryan for nourishment (making them some kind of vampire) and like to hang out on top of old buildings and near actual gargoyles - which is a bit ironic considering how they age: Each passing year makes their skin harder for better protection - but they also become slower and clumsier, until they finally petrify forever.

Harypies

One of the few chimeras (TDE's general term for artifically-created hybrid creatures; the classic chimera does not exist) designed to reproduce itself. Originally created during the Mage Wars (a mage civil war of sorts that ultimately led to the split into three guilds and those harsh dress codes) almost 500 years ago, they have since populated just about every mountain range in Aventuria. Though they are just as intelligent as humans, their erratic mood swings makes diplomacy with them pretty much impossible.
Depending on the edition or artist, they either look like your typical naked ladies with wings for arms, or just like big birds with a woman head and boobs. Decide for yourself what is more freakish.

Holberkians

Those elf-/orc-hybrids that still look very much like orcs. Apparently these are also chimeras, so I guess elves and orcs aren't actually compatible with each other? Anyhow, I don''t think the writer know what to do with these guys after the adventure/novel that introduced them.

Giants

The most direct descendents of the titans, with around 21 feet in height (at least the more current generations. Older ones are apparently even taller). Easily the most dangerous humanoids you can come across - if you come across one. There are like seven left in all of Aventuria, with little chance of the population recovering.

Grolms / Hagglers

Big-headed gnome-type of guys who work as alchemists or merchants. They don't quite get along with dwarves.

Kobolds

The strongest of the fey. They are both natural freecasters (aka they can do whatever they want by just spending enough Astral Points) and have the unique ability to freely draw Astral Energy from their surroundings (aka they will always have enough Astral Points). As such, the game doesn't bother to give them stats. They just do what they want, though like the human Knaves they raise up, they don't cause lasting harm or even death. The most useful Kobold variant is the Klabautermann, who might just be the only thing helping you and and your ship from an encounter with a sea serpent.

Krakonians

Toadpeople (with a body as hum-like as an Achaz, so they're rather lean) who live in underwater cities. Ever since the death of their Spawn Mother, they have been unable to reproduce naturally, forcing them to serve Charyptoroth and generall act as Deep Ones. They kidnap humans to create new offsprings in a demonic ritual that is probably a bit rapey. If things don't go as planned, a demonic Gal'kzuulim is created.

Leviatanim

Those Slann guys don't know how to do a proper workout

Another race of reproducing chimeras, the Leviatanim combine features of a frog, toad and dragon. They can reach up to 18 feet in height, but they generall appear as half as tall because they usually stay in a crouched pose. They would make pretty swell cartoon characters with a vest and a hat.
Not native to Aventuria, they helped Pyrdacor to invade Aventuria, exterminating anyone who didn't bow down to Pyrdacor and enslaving anyone who did. Aside from their impressive magical powers, they were also a race of warriors that liked honing their skills in duels. Their favorite weapon was a massive battleaxe their former slaves the Achaz have adapted to their own size.
With the fall of Pyrdacor, their biggest jungle kingdom has been quite literally ripped out of Aventuria and transplanted into its own mini-dimension, leaving a big desert in its place. The Leviatanim themselves are pretty much extinct, at least in Aventuria. They still get a full statblock and everything, though.

Lobsterians

Lobster mercenary dudes who fight with their pincers and a halberd. As rad as this sounds, I have sadly never found any official drawing of these guys. I guess their just weird human dudes with pincers and feelers? Maybe this Armalion wargame as a miniature or something...



Nevermind, apparently these guys are Awakened Dire Lobsters. Who can't actually speak but are still able to communicate with each other. And their are allergic to amber, a symbol of Praios (so they have been probably cursed a long time ago). I'd still totally play as one.

Mantra'kim

A very old - and extinct - race of dragonpeople, created by the Old Dragons in the Third Age. Information on these guys was a bit sparse, which is probably why Drakensang made heavy use of them.

Mares

Fishfolk who used to rule over the continent of Lamahria until it sunk in the Fourth Age like all Atlantis-wannabes do, turning them into degenerate savages over the millenia. They are now split up into the Black Mares (who live in the lightless deep sea under the perpetual ice - aka they might as well not exist for the PCs) and the Blue Mares (who live in the mountain range separating Aventuria from the Giantland).

Marus

Caiman mercenary dudes who love going berserk in combat. This sounds even radder than the Lobsterians, but Marus have some big drawbacks: They are much more beast-like in appearance than say the Achaz, giving them relatively small and weak arms that generally force them to hold a single one-handed weapon and swap their weapon arm every now and again. They are also apparently to stupid to develop their own culture, and they are not interested in anything that does not involve killing dudes.

Minotaurs

Unsurprisingly also living on the Greek Mythology Theme Park Islands, these chimeras can also only reproduce through rape. Oh well, at least they don't have weird labyrinth-related abilities like their D&D counterparts. Minotaurs also exist in the Orcland, where they are often brainwashed by orc shamans to serve as warriors.

Night Albs / Night Elves / Dark Elves / Shakagra'e (I suck at translating these dudes)

Already mentioned earlier, these are artificially-created elves and the most important creation of the evil high elf Pardona. Though a major player in Myranor, they only serve as a footnote in Aventuria, mucking around in the high north and building a underwater city or two. The reason they live so far up north is because they found one of the largest deposits of Endurium there. Endurium is the most common (but still very rare) magical metal in Aventuria, able to create weapons and armor of excellent quality and so potent that even tiny traces of it will color the resulting alloy pitch-black. Having enough endurium for pure weapon and armor certainly helps them with their allergy to ordinary allergy - which along with their distaste for sunlight and their low numbers in Aventuria makes any kind of military endeavour quite unlikely (though the Glacier Wyrms also created by Pardona can probably wreck a couple towns if need be). There's also the fact their lackeys of the Nameless, who has long been ignored by the metaplot in favor of the archdemons and their shenanigans.

A 4th edition fluff text concerning the Night Albs caused yet another grog outrage because it was the record of an Aventurian traveller who described them as having pitch-black skin. This was eventually explained with them having worn Endurium face masks. Was this a retcon by the writers, or did the grogs take an unreliable report at face value so they could start a "We want no Drow in Aventuria!" campaign? You make the call.

Oceanians

Mermaids. They follow the same kind of development seen in One Piece (so I guess this might just be part of their general mythos I am not familiar with) and have their fish tail split into legs when they become old enough, turning them into Neckers. Though not able to talk, their beauty makes them highly-regarded servants. Generally pacifist in nature, a look at the full moon or alcohol can make them go berserk. So better don't give your fish servant beer.

Ogres

Your typical dumb, big fat human-like dudes with a club who like to eat humans. Ogres hanging out with orcs (either of their own free will or after a brainwashing session) are outfitted with armor and a better weapon and are known as War Ogres (or Battle Ogres. Another tricky translation). There also exist Black Ogres in the southern jungles who are intelligent enough to go all Rambo on unsuspecting travellers.
Probably the most interesting part about TDE ogres is their creation myth: they were apparently created when Ogeron - the wildest of all the titans - got smitten by Praios and broke up into thousands of ogres that rained down on Aventuria. Sure, the more likely other origin story just had Ogeron create them, but where's the fun in that?

Rissos

Relatives to the Mares and more numerous than them, these are another kind of fishdudes (this time with more pronounced fin ears). They generally try to avoid humans and lizardfolk and hate/fear Krakonians. I think their mages/priests have some stingray qualities to them.

Shintr

A race of cobramen who used to rule over Aventuria until Pyrdacor and his gang came around and killed every single one of them because they didn't felt like being enslaved.

Ssrkhrsechim

Snakemen who sometimes had four arms instead of two. Part of Pyrdacor's invasion of Aventuria, they served a role as priest mages as compared to the warrior mages that were the Leviatanim. Crystallomancy in its current form is all that is left of their heritage.

Trolls

Now here's an interesting interpretation. Trolls in TDE are big (slightly smaller than a cyclops), shaggy guys with big noses. They are generally peacful vegetarians with a sweet tooth, but they do run into problems with farmers and other folks because they don't feel like paying for anything. While typically only armed with as simple club, they have a big two-handed axe stashed away in case someone really pisses them off. They are only passable fighters, but they hit hard.

Unbeknown to most, trolls are one of the oldest races (if not the oldest race). Ruins of their former fortresses can be found all over Aventuria, and they still have at least one working fortress hidden where they meet at the end of each Age (a period of time with the strange name Karmakortheon, where races like humans and orcs who have yet to have an Age dedicated to them fight for supremacy or something) to continue their historical records and chat a bit about what happens and what may happen. They could be the closest thing to a White Wolf race.

Relatives to the trolls are the Yetis (which makes sense I guess) and Treants aka walking trees (which I don't get).

Zilits

Newtfolk. They used to be kinda big players (the Leviatanim were created by them), but nowadays they just live a simple and peaceful live in villages, hanging out with Achaz and sometimes humans (who they can understand, but not talk to because they lack vocal chords).

Overall, I find it a bit strange how there are like 5 different fishmen, yet you can't play as a single one (unless you play in Myranor).

Next Time: A look at notable monsters and other critters, and maybe some non-demonic supernatural critters. TDE vampires are somewhat original.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
What they talked about with that Wulin game sounded reasonable: If someone makes a social success against you, you either take the action they were trying to bait you into (being browbeaten into making a mistake) or take a penalty (resisting but getting thrown off your game some). That seems like a decent way to handle silver tongued assholes in battle.

Speaking of battle:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2e!

Alright. We've gone over the basics of how to make a character, how to gain stats and powers, and what equipment is and does. Now it's time to see all this in motion with combat. One of the reasons I like combat in this game is that it's one of the places where it becomes clear the game subtly favors the PCs, even as it talks up how much it wants them dead. It's dangerous as all hell, yes, and the book repeatedly notes your PCs probably shouldn't want to fight unless they stand to gain something or absolutely need to defend themselves, but there's still plenty of room to try to be a hero.

The first thing you do in combat is roll Initiative; the problem with this is the initiative system is heavily, heavily weighted by stats. You take your full Agi score and roll d10, adding that to it. Opponent has an Agi 10 higher than yours? You're screwed. While this maps to the tabletop game it's aping, it's a little too deterministic for my taste and my groups almost always backported Agility Bonus (working much like Strength Bonus) from Dark Heresy and just added that to the d10, especially as a party all going last almost automatically would be in real trouble. While determining initiative, you also determine if anyone was Surprised. Getting Surprised is a death sentence (or a major boon for PCs) because not only do you lose your first turn, anyone attacking you gets +30% to hit, which is absolutely crushing, and you cannot Dodge or Block. If you're surprised, you'd better hope you're tough as nails and wearing plate or you're in serious poo poo. Conversely, PCs should almost always want to surprise enemies when possible. People usually get a Perception (Int+Skill modifiers) test to avoid surprise.

Once that's dealt with, people take actions. You get 2 Half Actions or 1 Full Action (none of this Move/Standard/Swift/whatnot from D&D) with the restriction that you cannot take more than 1 Attack or Cast type action in the turn. This is to prevent, say, a character with 1 Attack from using a Standard Attack (a half-action) and then doing it again, or a wizard from casting 2 Half Action cast time spells per turn. Half Actions are:

Aim: You get +10% to your next standard attack.

Cast: This varies, but a lot of basic combat magic is a Half Action to cast.

Short Move: You can move up to your Movement stat in meters as a half action.

Stand/Mount: Stand up or get on your horse.

Standard Attack: Make a single ranged or melee attack.

Defend: All melee attacks against you this turn take -20% to hit, but you can't combine this with attacking.

Delay: End your current turn and make another half-action later in the round.

Feint: Test WS against an enemy's WS: If you succeed, your next standard attack can't be blocked or dodged.

Maneuver: Test WS against enemy WS: If you succeed, you force them to move 2 meters in any direction and may follow up for free.

Parrying Stance: If you're not using a pair of weapons that give a Free Parry, you must take a half action to enter this Stance to get a Parry during a round.

Ready: Draw a weapon or switch between an unready weapon and a ready one (like putting away your bow and drawing a sword).

Full Actions are:

Swift Attack: Use your full Attacks characteristic and swing away. If you're using a fast ranged weapon (half action reload) and have Rapid Reload, or are using a repeating weapon like a Repeater Crossbow or Firearm, you can Swift Attack with ranged weapons. Or if you have a brace of pistols and Quickdraw.

All Out Attack: Get +20% to hit but lose the ability to block or dodge.

Guarded Attack: Make a single attack at -10% but get +10% to your active defenses.

Jump/Leap: Do some parkour poo poo. Note: If you have the Swashbuckler talent this becomes a half action. Also note: Moving out of combat with Jump doesn't provoke an Attack of Opportunity. Hilarious for getting someone with that talent and then doing crazy flippy poo poo in gritty early modern Germany.

Charge: Move 4xyour Movement in Meters and then melee attack, minimum of 4 meters, at +10% to hit.

Disengage: Move up to 2xyour Movement out of combat and avoid all AoOs.

Run: Move up to 6xyour movement. Ranged shots against a running character are at -20%, melee attacks are at +20%, as they're hard to hit but not really able to defend themselves.

As you can see, the combat system is fairly simple and basic. The most important additions are Parrying and Dodging. To be able to Dodge, you have to have the Dodge Blow skill. If you do, you may always attempt to Dodge one MELEE attack per round. In WHFRP, you *cannot* actively defend against ranged attacks; they're usually not quite as damaging but the only way to stop them is taking cover and having a shield. Cover will give them -20% to hit, a shield will give them another -10%. Dodging is done with a simple Agility based skill check. If you succeed, the attack you were dodging misses. Parrying is similar; you make a WS test with a +10% bonus if you're using a shield or parrying dagger, and if you succeed you're missed. These represent a last-ditch extraordinary effort to stop a successful attack; the game makes it clear a single attack is actually an exchange of blows, not one swipe, and the normal WS test is representative of trying to hit someone who is ducking, weaving, and parrying already. To be able to parry as a free action without using a Parrying Stance, you need to have a hand weapon, morningstar, dagger, rapier, or foil in your main hand and a dagger, shield, buckler, parrying dagger, or sword-breaker in your off-hand. You only get 1 Parry and 1 Dodge a turn, so at most a skilled character can turn aside 2 hits.

Once someone gets whacked, you reverse the to-hit dice and compare on a small table (a relatively easily memorized one, thankfully) to see where you hit them. This is only really necessary if you have piecemeal armor (and the game acknowledges this) or when someone's out of Wounds and taking Critical Hits. Then you roll d10 and add the Damage of the attack, compare against their Armor and Toughness, and subtract the result from their Wounds. This is also where a major player-favoring rule comes in. ULRIC'S FURY (RIGHTEOUS FURY in Dark Heresy), a rule that should always be written in all-caps. If you get a 10 on any of your damage dice, you re-test the attack. If you hit, you inflict ULRIC'S FURY and keep rolling d10s until you roll something other than a ten, and add it all together for damage. Spells can also Fury, but they test the caster's Willpower stat instead of Weapon Skill or Ballistic Skill. ONLY PCS get Fury. This can be a huge advantage and lets you potentially take on really dangerous foes; it also makes Impact weapons even more valuable since they roll damage twice and take the best.

Wounds are explicitly meat in WHFRP, but they're also explicitly relatively superficial. While you still have Wounds left, you'll take all kinds of dramatic but superficial bleeding cuts, bruises, etc, but you never take a telling blow until you run out of Wounds. At this point, you get Critted. You take however much damage you should've taken past 0 (Say you have 3 Wounds and take a hit for 5, you'd take a +2 Critical), roll d100 (though it could just be d10 as they're in increments of 10) on a table, and check which Crit Result you got and where. Crits are REALLY BAD and anything with Crit Value 6+ will probably take you out of a fight. You might also suffer permanent injury, lose limbs or eyes, get your armor shattered, or bleed out. Mook enemies just die the second they take a Crit 6 result (or when they run out of wounds, depending on taste) but major enemies take full Crits, as well.

Combat is also where Fate really comes into play. A character can spend Fortune (their regenerating stock of Fate) to reroll any missed roll in combat (or out of it), instantly gain an extra Dodge or Parry (above the normal limit), gain an additional Half Action, or roll 2d10 for Init instead of d10. Similarly, if you're crippled or killed in combat, you can spend a Fate point (permanently lowering your pool) to avoid it; the game makes it clear this means you're now out of the fight and not liable for further harm. You get captured instead of killed, or a crippling wound turns out not to have been so bad; the general narrative contrivances used to make it so characters who fall in combat aren't permanently disabled or out of the story. This means that as dangerous as battle is, most PCs are going into it with a couple literal extra lives. You also regain permanent Fate for particularly heroic acts or at the end of major campaign events, though the rate of this is left up to the GM.

Now, all that boring talk out of the way, let's see it in motion with Bogdan. Bogdan's traveling circus is being robbed by orc bandits, when the young Halfling steps up to challenge the leader of the raiding party to a wrestling match on the condition that if he loses, the orcs get everything without a fight. The Orc, understanding that refusing a chance to fight a costumed halfling who appears to be dead serious about this would be missing out on the funniest thing to ever happen to him, gladly accepts. Bogdan and the Orc roll d10 for Init, but Bodgan's superior Halfling Agility means he's certainly going first. He elects to Charge and launch into a flying arm-bar; as he's Charging and trying to initiate a Grapple, he gets +10% to-hit for Charging and +10 for his Wrestler ability. He rolls a 66, a miss even with his excellent (for a halfling) WS (He needed a 57), and elects to spend a Fortune Point to reroll. He then rerolls into a 02, which will definitely hit. The Orc Leader, surprised, tries to dodge out of the way but gets a 55 vs. his TN of 31 and fails; Bogdan now tests his 42% (32% Str+10 for Wrestler) Strength against the Orc's 35. The brave halfling gets a 73, a failure, but the Orc fails with a 55, and they retest as per Opposed Checks. Bogdan then gets a 34 vs. the Orc's 49, beating him and throwing him to the ground and getting him into a hold. Now grappled, the Orc Leader is both being jeered by his fellows and extremely poo poo-pissed at the halfling who is currently trying to pin him for the three count. I admit when I started rolling this I did not expect the halfling to win that quickly, but it's goddamn hilarious.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Doresh posted:

Relatives to the trolls are the Yetis (which makes sense I guess) and Treants aka walking trees (which I don't get).
I'd assume it's referencing Lord of the Rings, in which trolls are a corruption of ents just like orcs are a corruption of elves.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
When you say you can't play as BADASS LOBSTERMEN in TDE, does that mean that they're just not allowed during chargen? Or do monsters, even sentient ones, not have "classes" like PC's do, and turning them into PC races would take a lot of work?

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD

Doresh posted:

But can you munchkin the Companion into an attack-spamming whirlwind with around a dozen arms?

gradenko_2000 posted:

Spheres of Power
One special note is that the Companion can learn any feat that it's eligible for given its stats

Additional Limbs [Form] - the Companion gains one of the following: a head, 2 arms, 2 legs, a tail. This does not grant them any additional attacks in and of themselves, but the book mentions that you can leverage these limbs to get extra attacks from the Alteration sphere.

Battle Creature [Form] - the Companion is a warrior; it has proficiency with simple weapons and has 2 masterwork weapons that it can wield when it is summoned. The weapons gain a +1 bonus per 3 Hit Dice, up to a maximum of 5. If this form is taken a second time, the Companion gains proficiency with martial weapons, can then be summoned with martial weapons, and is considered an nth level Fighter per Hit Dice for the purposes of feat prerequisites.

Hekatonkheires are a go.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

fool_of_sound posted:

PurpleXVI once argued to me that FATE compels are unfair GM control of player characters. I don't think this is going to go anywhere.

But-... :psyduck:


I didn't play Exalted 2e, but the social system there sounds like a horror show. 3e's seems pretty good from what I've used of it, though. You tag intimacies that the characters hold to try to convince them to do something that works toward their benefit (and yours), or the defender can tag them to resist doing things they don't want to. Instilling a new intimacy starts weak and gets stronger with repeated persuasion, or reduced in the same stages, so there are degrees of their impacts that take actual effort to change. (The drawback being that the defensive social stat which everyone would want ties into an Ability with an awful charmset, but supposedly that's being changed...) Personally I just wouldn't allow things like "Go kill yourself" -rolls triple the TN- "yes right away sir" because it's ridiculous.

(One of my players did triple the TN on convincing an NPC to help them, so I reflected it as giving him an intimacy for that and cooperating with another NPC he was antagonistic to. Rather than making him drop everything to become their best buddy, the players now have an intimacy to tag if they want his help, or to dissuade him from doing something that would cause them problems - which means they are much more likely to convince him, but still not guaranteed. I expect I would treat NPC vs PC or PC vs PC similarly, as reasonable persuasion rather than a compulsion.)

I feel that all PvP stuff should be discussed at least briefly ahead of time unless your group has fun with unexpected results, and that has nothing to do with systems used. Ignoring that to remove all agency from your character, or you as a player, is probably a sign of jerk players or a jerk GM. Unless the system really is as terrible as 2e, in which case it shouldn't be played as written anyway. But that is certainly not the only kind of social system out there.


(I had an analogy to basing expectations off of 2e as being like hating all fantasy because of that pacifist killing spree in Sword of Truth, then realized that said scene makes a terrifying amount of sense if it was using 2e's social rules: The protagonist had to kill everyone before they drained his WP and then told him to chop his own head off. Don't play games that make SoT sensible, guys.)

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


I can't remember the last time a game system actually caused a serious debate in this thread- Polaris?

Mr.Misfit
Jan 10, 2013

The time for
SkellyBones
has come!

PurpleXVI posted:

When you say you can't play as BADASS LOBSTERMEN in TDE, does that mean that they're just not allowed during chargen? Or do monsters, even sentient ones, not have "classes" like PC's do, and turning them into PC races would take a lot of work?

Itīs both, actually. You are "not allowed" by the rules to play such a creature and creating the rules for them might be a lot of work, but then again always go for it because TDE can be a boring snoozefest if you play it the way it is meant to be played.

TDE - Stiffling fun in roleplaying since 1984

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

HELL SERPENT
Lipstick Apathy

Doresh posted:

But can you munchkin the Companion into an attack-spamming whirlwind with around a dozen arms?

Upon further inspection, it seems like you might not able to do this: the Whirlwind Attack feat requires Combat Expertise, which requires INT 13, but there's no way to get your Companion's INT higher than 10.

I would imagine though that that's more a problem with 3.PF slapping on a 13 INT requirement on Fighters more than anything else.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD
You don't need Whirlwind attack, it's a metaphorical whirlwind. A thing you could do with PF Eidolons and apparently still can do with this Spheres system is use your points to stack on more and more and more arms onto your critter. A creature with ten arms and the Multi-weapon fighting feat can wield a short-sword or hand-axe in every one of it's ten arms, and use full-attacks for a ten-hit routine at -2.

Platonicsolid
Nov 17, 2008

Is anybody else having an issue with the System Mastery/Movie Mastery podcast feeds? New items are showing up but the downloads fail.

Flavivirus
Dec 14, 2011

The next stage of evolution.
Yup, I got that too. For both System Mastery and Movie Mastery.

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011

Oh yeah, speaking of that and having listened to the latest Movie Mastery, if you guys want Chronicle you should check out a Barnes and Noble in your area with a music and DVD section. They should have it for about ten bucks, I believe.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015

Fossilized Rappy posted:

I'd assume it's referencing Lord of the Rings, in which trolls are a corruption of ents just like orcs are a corruption of elves.

Possible. Though in TDE; both trolls and not-ents are benevolent dudes without a common origin (treants have been created around 2-3 Ages later by Tsa I think.).

PurpleXVI posted:

When you say you can't play as BADASS LOBSTERMEN in TDE, does that mean that they're just not allowed during chargen? Or do monsters, even sentient ones, not have "classes" like PC's do, and turning them into PC races would take a lot of work?

They aren't playable in that there is no official race and culture package for them. You can build them yourself, but non-Myranor rulebooks (at least in 4.0) don't really have exotic advantages that would give you natural pincer attacks or additional limbs. Then again Myranor uses the exact same rules, so you just use that book for charGen.

The main reason why the aren't playable is probably because they would freak out just about everyone in any town they arrive at, and they appeared rather recently in Aventuria in service of demon worshippers. But this is just another reason to pick one because demon worshippers have access to awesome demonic "ships" if you are a mercenary pirate (and why wouldn't you be a mercenary pirate if you are a lobster?). We're getting there next time.

Mr.Misfit posted:

Itīs both, actually. You are "not allowed" by the rules to play such a creature and creating the rules for them might be a lot of work, but then again always go for it because TDE can be a boring snoozefest if you play it the way it is meant to be played.

TDE - Stiffling fun in roleplaying since 1984

At least Myranor has more freakish playable races, though no lobstermen. They do have termite dudes, but I'm not sure if they're playable seeing how they are big bad guys with a hivemind (I think).

Crasical posted:

Hekatonkheires are a go.

Sweat. There doesn't even seem to be a hard cap on natural attacks

Crasical posted:

You don't need Whirlwind attack, it's a metaphorical whirlwind. A thing you could do with PF Eidolons and apparently still can do with this Spheres system is use your points to stack on more and more and more arms onto your critter. A creature with ten arms and the Multi-weapon fighting feat can wield a short-sword or hand-axe in every one of it's ten arms, and use full-attacks for a ten-hit routine at -2.

This get's even better if your Eidolon/Companion has access to Pounce.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 17:25 on Oct 9, 2015

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Platonicsolid posted:

Is anybody else having an issue with the System Mastery/Movie Mastery podcast feeds? New items are showing up but the downloads fail.

Yeah, this is killing me. Not because I have the same problem, but because I don't, so I can't troubleshoot it very well.

It probably has something to do with this stuff though:

feed validator posted:

Sorry

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In addition, interoperability with the widest range of feed readers could be improved by implementing the following recommendations.

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I just don't know what any of that means and didn't change anything about our posting structure recently.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

Night10194 posted:

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.
Skills are my least favourite part of WFRP. All of your criticisms are on point and then some.

There are too many loving skills. It's bad enough that there's three different Stealth skills, but WFRP is also one of those games with macro-skills like Knowledge and Trade. Are you ever, ever, at any point in your campaign, going to roll a Trade (Bowyer) skill? Sure, maybe you want to make yourself a bow. Are you going to buy extra advances in it? Are you going to have to make extra-difficult Trade (Bowyer) tests? Can you use it to make yourself a Best Craftsmanship bow in a pinch? You'll probably never roll it. And frankly, including unnecessary and unused options in a game, because you think writing these things on your character sheet makes for better roleplaying, is superstition. You may as well hang garlic in the windows.

It's not just a WFRP thing; there are tons of games that more-or-less acknowledge that half the skills in their list are barely useful, if at all, but say that if players don't spend points on them, they're minmaxers who don't care about roleplaying. "We don't think about the rules we write, but your group can get around it by shaming and criticizing each other!" is dogshit game design.

Anyway, the other thing I hate about WFRP's skills is the modifiers. Everyone I know who plays WFRP considers a default, unmodified roll a challenging situation, and doesn't bother rolling otherwise. But this isn't how the examples in the rulebook are written; the example roll hands out a -10% to a Move Silently check because the guy is actually close to the person he's sneaking behind. (So if a thief is sneaking by someone who's looking the other way and 10 yards away, a 30% chance to succeed would be about right?) I've never played through any of the published adventures (I'll do The Enemy Within one of these days) but the older editions I've skimmed through seem pretty bad about this, too.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
The basic resolution system is fine, at least. TN Roll Under with a basic degrees of success system is, at least, simple and easy to resolve.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Echo Cian posted:

(I had an analogy to basing expectations off of 2e as being like hating all fantasy because of that pacifist killing spree in Sword of Truth, then realized that said scene makes a terrifying amount of sense if it was using 2e's social rules: The protagonist had to kill everyone before they drained his WP and then told him to chop his own head off. Don't play games that make SoT sensible, guys.)
I am gonna be fair to Exalted 2E that the section on social combat said, first, that outside of super top-tier Solar/evil Solar brain-gently caress magic (which of course inevitably everyone, ever, will have, because Exalted loves power escalation more than Doc Smith did), the absolute most you would have to do is spend 2 WP and your brain and precious bodily fluids are safe for that scene. It also said that people who are using social combat to get their friends to cover this round of beers are going to come off as relentless bullies and it was meant for high stakes persuasion rather than "literally every time you argue, ever." Haggling over a ship vs. haggling over lunch.

However, at this point that particular ship has sunk, it's me, I'm the grog, etc.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!

Night10194 posted:

The basic resolution system is fine, at least. TN Roll Under with a basic degrees of success system is, at least, simple and easy to resolve.

It's conceptually decent, yes, but for some reason I've never seen a D100 roll-under system that handles the actual numbers in a non-poo poo way. It always either comes up as everyone being an absolute incompetent if the GM rolls by RAW(Rogue Trader, WFRP 2e) or with everyone having to intentionally cripple themselves to not start out with 80's and 90's in their core skills(Eclipse Phase) and then being kind of at a loss for what to do when their character gets more XP, because no one ever thought to add in some rules for being really, really good at stuff, having "won't gently caress up 90% of the time under normal circumstances" as the apex of the scale, and meaning that if the GM adds any modifiers for a challenging situation, they'll still be back to a 50% chance of blowing it.

Besides, bell curves are your friend, get off that horrible single die and roll 3d6 or something sane.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
There IS something to be said for 'I know immediately what my odds are', though.

fool of sound
Oct 10, 2012

PurpleXVI posted:

It's conceptually decent, yes, but for some reason I've never seen a D100 roll-under system that handles the actual numbers in a non-poo poo way.

It's usually because the GM is supposed to apply massive bonuses to easy tasks/a massive penalty to hard tasks, and most systems don't have a good example chart of what these modifiers should be. It also doesn't help that because d100 systems tend to list things like 'trivial' and 'very easy' that GMs end up calling for rolls on things that they probably should just give an autosuccess.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
It's also a function of how people tend to look at probability. "A 70%? That'd be a sure thing! I better lower that to a 30 so it's exciting." Which is wrong. Very wrong.

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