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Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Kurieg posted:

It wasn't a 3rd party book.

Behold the Onager, the anthropomorphic donkey that no one wanted.


It also had rules for loving bizarre stuff like having a centipede grafted to your head and being half gelatinous cube.

This is literally the best sort of thing D&D does.

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LaSquida
Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.


PresidentBeard posted:

This is literally the best sort of thing D&D does.

Sadly, that book didn't do it particularly well.

Though I did briefly play a half-celestial anthropomorphic giant squid. That was fun.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




LeSquide posted:

Sadly, that book didn't do it particularly well.
Part of this was it coming out, what, a month before 3.5 hit while still using the 3e rules? If I remember there were some basic conversion stuff in it, but there were just enough differences between the rules to make most of the stuff in Savage Species broken or unusable.

Also the usual grognard hate for things that are different or experimental, but well. :v:

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

Don't forget that Sean K. Reynolds, aka must nerf monks whenever I can, apparently had something to do with the book. And has more or less gone on record of saying that he purposefully made options terrible so that no one would actually play as monsters.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


One of these days when I actually get the bug in me to do an F&F again, I'm thinking of doing Tome of Magic or Magic of Incarnum, because WotC's late game 3.5 experimental stuff was...interesting.

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

Both interesting, and in general probably better than their early stuff. At least more interesting. Too bad most of the stuff in Tome of Magic was unusable, or at least subpar powerwise.

Nostalgia4ColdWar
May 7, 2007

Good people deserve good things.

Till someone lets the winter in and the dying begins, because Old Dark Places attract Old Dark Things.


Ryuujin posted:

Don't forget that Sean K. Reynolds, aka must nerf monks whenever I can, apparently had something to do with the book. And has more or less gone on record of saying that he purposefully made options terrible so that no one would actually play as monsters.

It's poo poo like that that makes me wonder why people still consider him a professional when he can't put aside his own bullshit in order to make a product a good product rather then act like all of D&D is his own personal homebrew game.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


You can really tell where the work went into Tome of Magic.
Binders were fine, pretty balanced with the other classes, and had a lot of fun options and flavor.

Shadowcasters were okay but there were some rules fixes that didn't make it through playtesting before press time that you can still find online somewhere I think.

Truenamers sounded cool but the minute you started leveling up they fell apart. I mean who doesn't like playing a caster where your spells have a 50% chance of not working, even the ones that wouldn't require touch attacks. The Meta-utterance feats were even worse. "You know that utterly ridiculous thing you only had a 50% chance of hitting before? Now you only succeed on a 20, but if you hit you'll do double damage."

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Ryuujin posted:

Don't forget that Sean K. Reynolds, aka must nerf monks whenever I can, apparently had something to do with the book. And has more or less gone on record of saying that he purposefully made options terrible so that no one would actually play as monsters.
Yeah, pretty much. There was really no reason to ever play most monster races with ECL considering what you give up in class levels, let alone the ever important caster levels.

Ironically this is something Basic handled a lot better thanks to the "race=class" thing and much simpler rules. The Gazetteers and Creature Crucibles added all sorts of exotic options that weren't horribly imbalanced due to this.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


You could buy off ECL with the proper DM rules, and you'd eventually catch up to the party. The problem was racial hit die. 5 levels of monstrous humanoid were more or less worthless but for some reason were exactly equivalent to 5 levels of fighter or wizard.

Nostalgia4ColdWar
May 7, 2007

Good people deserve good things.

Till someone lets the winter in and the dying begins, because Old Dark Places attract Old Dark Things.


Ignoring ECL could work. Hell, there was tons of workaround posted that made monsters viable PC's.

poo poo, having a party of monsters taking the war to the pinkskins/smoothskins were great.

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

Asimo posted:

Yeah, pretty much. There was really no reason to ever play most monster races with ECL considering what you give up in class levels, let alone the ever important caster levels.

Ironically this is something Basic handled a lot better thanks to the "race=class" thing and much simpler rules. The Gazetteers and Creature Crucibles added all sorts of exotic options that weren't horribly imbalanced due to this.

Yeah I haven't had a lot of experience with Basic and stuff like that, but a lot of those look interesting. Want to try the Treant, and maybe Sea Giant or whatever it was called, probably some others as well. But well I only play on the forums and no one has run a game allowing these.

50 Foot Ant posted:

Ignoring ECL could work. Hell, there was tons of workaround posted that made monsters viable PC's.

poo poo, having a party of monsters taking the war to the pinkskins/smoothskins were great.


I still want to play in an all monster party. I have wanted to build a treant monk, or gelatinous cube monk but gelatinous cubes have no playable rules, but hey they made a fiendish gelatinous cube monk for one of their articles.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013



Kurieg posted:

You could buy off ECL with the proper DM rules, and you'd eventually catch up to the party. The problem was racial hit die. 5 levels of monstrous humanoid were more or less worthless but for some reason were exactly equivalent to 5 levels of fighter or wizard.

Well, when the game thinks 5 levels of fighter is equivalent to 5 levels of wizard, the bar is already pretty low. :v:

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




Kurieg posted:

You can really tell where the work went into Tome of Magic.
Binders were fine, pretty balanced with the other classes, and had a lot of fun options and flavor.

Shadowcasters were okay but there were some rules fixes that didn't make it through playtesting before press time that you can still find online somewhere I think.

Truenamers sounded cool but the minute you started leveling up they fell apart. I mean who doesn't like playing a caster where your spells have a 50% chance of not working, even the ones that wouldn't require touch attacks. The Meta-utterance feats were even worse. "You know that utterly ridiculous thing you only had a 50% chance of hitting before? Now you only succeed on a 20, but if you hit you'll do double damage."

Yes, but I'd really love a F&F write-up of the Binder chapter simply because I remember it all being really cool and evocative and each was WAY more interesting to 'wear' as a character than 99% of all other choices in regular elfgames.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Those two books gave us six classes. Two were perfectly balanced. Two were kind of janky but their developers issued unofficial errata that fixed them. Then two were unusable pieces of poo poo. That's a much better track record than 3.5 core.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I've been thinking of doing the Crucibles for F&F, maybe starting sometime next month. Sea Giant PCs always struck me as particularly weird because, not only did they start off far below Normal Monster hit dice and potency, RAW they were children. 'Burst into tears the first time you get hit for damage' was a roleplay suggestion somewhere in the book, which didn't help. Nothing that rewriting them as callow adolescents about to hit a Hell of a growth spurt wouldn't fix.

I think someone took the class/level titles a little too prescriptively. I've always wondered if that's why 1st level BECMI clerics didn't get spells.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Asimo posted:

It's not something that comes up often in RPGs, no. Not even that often in fantasy gaming, except for the occasionally explicitly evil super-powerful empire thing that the PCs are allied against rather than refugees from. I was actually really, really annoyed when Exile never panned out, since I've always thought sci-fi gaming needed to pull more from Foundation than from Star Wars, and White Wolf's Trinity was ultimately a far more conservative, "safer", and frankly less interesting game. Honestly if it was worked on in the early naughts rather than the late 90's it might have fared a bit better, both for the game industry being in a different place but also by being able to better leverage its heavy web presence to build a fandom. But, well, so it goes.


Is there a game based on Ian M Banks Culture books yet? The premise is tailor-made for gaming. You play Special Circumstances or Contact agents, either genetically superior posthumans or sentient AI drones, and you're sent on missions outside your posthuman paradise.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Sufficiently Advanced takes a tack like that, though I think most of the time you're traveling within one vastly advanced cultural sphere or another.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Gerund posted:

Yes, but I'd really love a F&F write-up of the Binder chapter simply because I remember it all being really cool and evocative and each was WAY more interesting to 'wear' as a character than 99% of all other choices in regular elfgames.

I'd like a F&F writeup of Savage Species in general. It's one of the few sourcebooks I habitually ban entirely from every DnD 3.5E game I run. Those anthropomorphic animals are goddamn ridiculous as I recall.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Bieeardo posted:

I've been thinking of doing the Crucibles for F&F, maybe starting sometime next month. Sea Giant PCs always struck me as particularly weird because, not only did they start off far below Normal Monster hit dice and potency, RAW they were children. 'Burst into tears the first time you get hit for damage' was a roleplay suggestion somewhere in the book, which didn't help. Nothing that rewriting them as callow adolescents about to hit a Hell of a growth spurt wouldn't fix.

I think someone took the class/level titles a little too prescriptively. I've always wondered if that's why 1st level BECMI clerics didn't get spells.
That would be pretty awesome, yeah. I pondered doing them myself, but I haven't played Basic in fifteen years or so, so I'm not sure I could do the rule writeups justice. I like doing writeups for stuff that are older or more forgotten anyway; the history of RPG design and the industry is pretty interesting, but doesn't come up that often.

Count Chocula posted:

Is there a game based on Ian M Banks Culture books yet? The premise is tailor-made for gaming. You play Special Circumstances or Contact agents, either genetically superior posthumans or sentient AI drones, and you're sent on missions outside your posthuman paradise.
Not... to my knowledge yeah, at least nothing with a specific setup like that. There's always a bit of a problem with getting people interested in high-concept Sci-fi settings too. They tend to be very interesting to read, but often hard to play in since you need to get everyone involved together on a very esoteric sort of page. You can see some of this in the early complaints about Transhuman Space, where people had no idea what to do with it in practice despite there being an excess of potential plot hooks.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Gerund posted:

Yes, but I'd really love a F&F write-up of the Binder chapter simply because I remember it all being really cool and evocative and each was WAY more interesting to 'wear' as a character than 99% of all other choices in regular elfgames.


Cythereal posted:

I'd like a F&F writeup of Savage Species in general. It's one of the few sourcebooks I habitually ban entirely from every DnD 3.5E game I run. Those anthropomorphic animals are goddamn ridiculous as I recall.

Yeah I'll probably get around to these pretty soon then.


Which means I'll have to put the W20 review on hold for a while but I think I need a vacation in something not-White Wolf before my eyes glaze over and I recite the entire list of Metis deformities from rote memory. I'll get back to it eventually I hope.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


50 Foot Ant posted:

It's poo poo like that that makes me wonder why people still consider him a professional when he can't put aside his own bullshit in order to make a product a good product rather then act like all of D&D is his own personal homebrew game.

He's been successful at self-promotion as a "d20 expert", which has worked well for him despite only having 6 + Int skills.

The fact that we're bringing him up at all is reason enough in this industry.
not a good reason but

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Asimo posted:

That would be pretty awesome, yeah. I pondered doing them myself, but I haven't played Basic in fifteen years or so, so I'm not sure I could do the rule writeups justice. I like doing writeups for stuff that are older or more forgotten anyway; the history of RPG design and the industry is pretty interesting, but doesn't come up that often.

Not... to my knowledge yeah, at least nothing with a specific setup like that. There's always a bit of a problem with getting people interested in high-concept Sci-fi settings too. They tend to be very interesting to read, but often hard to play in since you need to get everyone involved together on a very esoteric sort of page. You can see some of this in the early complaints about Transhuman Space, where people had no idea what to do with it in practice despite there being an excess of potential plot hooks.

The Culture books handle that, though. There's a whole organization that recruits people or AI with interesting talents (the PCs) and sends them on missions to make contact with more primitive civilizations. There's your game.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Count Chocula posted:

The Culture books handle that, though. There's a whole organization that recruits people or AI with interesting talents (the PCs) and sends them on missions to make contact with more primitive civilizations. There's your game.
Yeah, but it's still an intimidating sort of setup. I mean, part of the reason D&D and most fantasy heartbreakers do so well is everyone who's even vaguely a geek knows how "generic fantasy" works, what sort of tropes exist, what sorts of characters fit, and so on. Sci-fi doesn't really have that sort of cultural focus. There's a large number of specific settings people know (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, etc.), but they're all very different from each other thematically and even more diverged from a lot of literary sci-fi that a game like that would pull inspiration from. It's not an insurmountable problem, but there's still a reason why most of the successful sci-fi RPG properties have been the licensed games or ones that intentionally mimic a popular property.

Would still be a fun game though, definitely.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

I considered doing a review of World of Darkness: Gypsies, but for once in my life I should actually complete a project before starting another one...



Chapter 3: Advanced Rules

The Advanced Rules aren't actually all that advanced. All the tedious complexity of PCCS got introduced in Chapter 2, and the Advanced Rules mostly cover adding detail to the system. Sometimes, the so-called "Advanced Rules" are actually simpler than the Basic Game's rules, and more intuitive.

Stuff the Advanced Rules add:
  • A separate Range modifier to accuracy, found in a table (*ding!*), used to determine the chance to hit in another table (*ding!*)
  • Modifiers to your accuracy based on the Visibility, found in a table (*ding!*)
  • Modifiers to your accuracy based on the speed at which the target is moving, found by cross-indexing the range to the target and its speed in a table (*ding!*).
  • Modifiers to your accuracy based on the speed at which you are moving, using the same table as above, but with special exceptions.
  • Rules for ducking when under fire (these are not, as you might expect, "calculate your falling speed based on the local gravity to determine your vertical movement rate", but I wouldn't have been surprised if they were...)

Getting Shot, Part 2: Getting Shot Harder
There's also a more detailed system for hit locations (now there are 39 of them!). In the Basic Game, you did that terrible, over-complicated look-up process to determine your "Penetration Line". In the Advanced Game, you instead simply subtract the Protection Factor from the PEN(etration) of the gun to determine how deep the bullet penetrates. Conceptually, that's a lot easier for me to wrap my head around than the "Penetration Line" concept used in the Basic Game.

Of course, the Protection Factor is modified by a rolling 1d10 on a table (*ding!*) to determine the increase in effective PF from the bullet glancing off armour. It's the exact same amount of work as in the basic game, but conceptually clearer. But PCCS can't make sense for long, so no matter what you roll for glancing, the effective PF is always higher than the actual PF of the armour. Have a ballistic vest with PF 6? Even if the bullet doesn't glance, the effective PF will never just be 6; it'll be greater by a lot. This is extremely counter-intuitive, and certainly doesn't make PCCS any lighter on the brain.

For the record, I'm reviewing bitching about PCCS 3rd Edition; in PCCS 2nd ed., the glancing table actually makes sense. Why they changed it I can't say (~maybe they liked it better that way~).

The Basic Game's damage table fit on a single page; the Advanced Rules use a damage table that spans two entire pages and goes into unnecessary detail. You might have noticed that the Basic Game damage table eventually stops assigning damage and just says "Dead" - not so in the Advanced Game! There the table instead simply starts going into the low millions for damage - you might recall from Part 2 that anything above 20k is already certain death...

"Don't think of it as losing a leg. Think of it as eliminating the chance of tripping over your own two feet." - Dr. Oscar Sneiderbunk

But I digress...
Actually, there's probably a story behind that one. See, Barry Nakazono who wrote PCCS had earlier released a Fantasy RPG Heartbreaker (Sword's Path: Glory) and a modern firearms rules system called Small Arms Spectrum. While SPG would get condensed into the Phoenix Command Hand To Hand Combat System, SAS was actually less detailed than PCCS and more tedious. About half the time you look up things in tables in PCCS were done in SAS through mental arithmetic. In any case, one of the things there were rules for in SAS was how technological advance improved First Aid, which acted as a divisor to damage, getting quite significant at higher Tech Levels. In the 2030's and later, First Aid reduced damage to 17% of the original value. Damage in PCCS is proportional to the square of damage in SAS, so if you use the First Aid rules from SAS, you'd reduce the damage to about 2% - which brings 1000k damage down to 20k and into the survivable range. So somewhere in the process, it probably made sense to keep listing damage all the way to the low millions.

Still though, in Phoenix Command as a stand-alone game, it makes no sense whatsoever.

The Advanced Rules also include Shock, which is a form of "virtual" damage that is only used to determine whether you fall unconscious or not. It's not added to your damage total... but you still need to add it to your damage total when rolling to see if you fall unconscious. After multiplying through with 10/HLT.

Fully Automatic Weapons Baby!
There are now extra special rules for shooting people with automatic fire. First, you have to roll to see if you kept your gun aimed correctly height-wise. This uses it's own to-hit numbers found in a table as well as special modifiers for accuracy based on size only in the height dimension (i.e. height). The rules here are somewhat confusing; autofire is used against area targets, but your chance to hit is based on the height Accuracy Level Modifier of the target. Which means that if you aim at an elephant, it's easy to hit the mouse next to it, but if you aim the mouse, the chance is very high you'll miss the elephant... In any case, if you managed to hit the correct height, you then look at the width of your arc of fire and the rate of fire of your weapon, and refer to... *drumroll*

...another table (*ding!*) to determine what the chance is that every target in the zone you fired into gets hit. If the average chance is less than 100%, you have to roll once for every target (imagine firing at tightly clustered squad of a dozen enemy soldiers, and then rolling twelve times to see if you hit any of them - knowing that for each hit, you have to roll for hit location, glancing, and knockout). If the average chance is greater than 100%, you hit with the average number of bullets. Always. Anything but the strict average is streng verboten.

And you can still hit with more bullets than you fired.

Amusingly, the Size Modifier table has normal, height, and width modifiers, but the width modifiers are not used with the autofire rules, so it's just as easy to hit a telephone pole as it is to hit a barn door.

One thing I do quite like is that, because autofire is splint into height and width, the rules include the tendency of automatic weapons to "climb" when fired in long bursts. Each time you fire an automatic burst, you get a penalty to your height to-hit roll, so the longer you keep firing, the more difficult it is to keep the weapon aimed at the correct height.

Shotguns
Shotguns are mechanically pretty similar to normal guns with a few elements of the autofire rules. You resolve the shot normally to determine if you shot in the right direction, and then shotguns have their own little special set of numbers to determine whether you you hit anyone inside their cone of fire with the pellets or not. At short range, you always hit with lots of pellets, while at long range the pellets are far apart so a person might avoid getting hit. It still has that problem where you always hit with the strict average number of pellets, and can hit people with more people than you fired.

The shotgun rules do take width into account, so you have to refer to a table (*ding!*) to determine how the target width modifiers the pellet hit chance.

There are also rules for automatic shotguns, which are a fine logical extension of the autofire and shotgun rules. This, of course, makes them tedious as gently caress, because you have to first roll for elevation , then for each hit per target, then again for each target inside the cone of fire on each target you actually hit, then glancing rolls for each pellet that hit, then hit locations for each pellet, then knockout for each person who got shot. Fire an automatic shotgun at a dozen or so closely grouped people, and this can quickly become some well over 50 rolls for a single attack...

"Oops." - Ex-Officer Axly

Grenades - "Roll 2000 times on tables 6A and 6D and take the sum, before referring to tables 8A and 8B"

Remember when I said automatic shotguns were tedious? Try grenades. They're pretty much exactly like shotguns, but instead of firing at most 12 pellets per shot, an direct hit with a hand grenade can have up to two thousand pieces of shrapnel you have to determine hit location and glancing for. Even indirect hits can inflict several dozens hits on each target, requiring you to roll for many several hundred of pieces of shrapnel individually. (The game suggests rolling for location once and then assuming they all hit the same place, which is simple but somewhat bizarre...) And since grenades are indirect fire weapons, if you miss with a grenade, you have to use a table (*ding!*) to determine by how much you missed so you can determine where the grenade landed.

There are automatic shotguns in the game, but there are no rules for determining where missing grenades land. It's also kind of pointless to use automatic grenade launchers for autofire, because their ROF is always 1, which isn't even listed on the autofire table.

Table Count: 23 (+9)
80's Action Film Dialogue Count: 18 (+8)

All in all, the Advanced Rules have a lot of good ideas handled badly. The shotgun rules are quite smart, and the autofire rules are neat, but they're heavily let down by how badly they handle large numbers. Most RPGs can handle normal, expected situations quite well, so what determines whether a RPG fails tends to be how it handles possible but unexpected situations. For Phoenix Command, the flaws of the system become clear when shotguns and autofire (or, heavens forbid, shotgun autofire) is used on thighly grouped targets. Suddenly, people are hit by more bullets than were fired, and the game screeches to a halt as players have to resolve several dozen dice rolls and determine damage from several dozen wounds at once. And the fact that some rules are simply missing doesn't actually make things any simpler. If the system had been streamlined, with clearer rules, it would probably have less of a reputation as an "over-complicated unplayable disaster caught up its own rear end in details", and more of a reputation as a "very complicated and heavily detailed game for people into rules-heavy RPGs and minutiae".

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I have to agree that a Culture based RPG would be difficult. For one, most of the characters/SC agents don't operate at their full potential in the open. Whenever their talets break out (Zakalwe, Horza), it's a last minute deal in which death is certain. Or they're cloistered like the girl with superior predictive abilities than a Mind. And then there is the question of how you mechanically support the special abilities of the characters.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Sourcebook Three: Mindwerks - Part Seven: "Sentences are usually short and simple — seldom more than phrases like, 'Now you die,' or 'Don't be afraid. It will hurt only for a minute.'"

C'ro Demon Mage (NPC)


"The demon mage is a master of deceit and manipulation..."

Yeah, I'd trust that guy. :rolleyes:

It puts "NPC" right there in the name so we're clear, but I can't help but think that's really part of their title, confusing scholars across the Megaverse. They're part of an endless Wormtongue archetype that Siembieda loves to fill books with, manipulating people for their own benefit. What do they want? Well, uh... power and wealth, it says. What does a master mage really do with dollars and change, though? "Yes! I have a hundred of the Earth dollars!"

In any case, they all the attributes at superhuman levels except... yeah, they're ugly. :( They have M.D.C. on the level of a hatchling dragon, dimensional teleporting, regeneration, speaks any language (Esperanto included), "impervious to to symbotic union and control" (geez, this book is hung up on that), and a poison stinger that inflicts a modest penalty it can stack (regular humans save or suck / die). Some are mid-to-high level spellcasters, others are necromancers, and some are temporal mages. They get a full character creation writeup with skill selection (which is pretty alright), even though you can't play one. Why? Because it's "intended as a villain", even though they can be Unprincipled, well within the hero range of alignments.

Eurotorpid


How you get two pieces of art from one drawing two pages apart.

No, that's not a real dinosaur name, but a word jumble of... Euro... and Torpid? I wonder if Riftsian Europeans name any other animals the same way. A dog could be a Eurodomestid! A bird could be a Eurorapido! A frog could be a Eurohoppit! No? Well, it's Europe's loss.

They're essentially ceratopids (that's like triceratops) with stylin' dual horns, ridiculous amounts of M.D.C. (500 on average), and are "slow" only in that they travel around 35 MPH. The have a knockdown charge, super-scent, psychic powers to sense danger automatically, etc.

Because that's basically what we need, super-cows with higher stats than the majority of PCs. You can't play one because they have animal intelligence, it says, but Lycanmorphs and Seekers can have an identical IQ rating. Pft, details.

Mega-Foor Mastica


But which end is the butt?

It has giant legs for no goddamn reason! It feels on carrion and sometimes children, and don't really pick on anything that fights back... except when there's a pack of them, there's a 65% chance they go into a feeding frenzy.

Only in Rifts can a "scavenging animal" be as tough as thirty 20th-century tanks and be able to knock over buildings with a kick. Oh, and it has an auto-dodge, in the interest of just being annoying.

The Stone-Claw


Roooooock Lobster!

This is kind of a crab-rhino-bear, but not as cool as that sounds. It has decent M.D.C. and hides by curling up to look like a boulder, and then pinches your head off when you lean against it. Apparently the Simvan like to ride on these, because they'll ride on any goddamn thing.

White Slayer


Pretty sure this was a villain from an Alan Davis comic. Clandestine, maybe?

Somehow, not a White supremacist metal band.

This is a... sadistic and evil demon from the rifts, sigh, that likes to play "cat and mouse games" (a fairly common Siembiedaism). They have some solid compared bonuses, empathy "to sense when its prey is scared", and middling damage values and M.D.C. Apparently their white skin helps them blend in with snow, but at all other times makes them stand out like an exclamation point.

There's a random ruling that the Simvan's ability bond with animals somehow fucks with the White Slayer and confuses them, but it doesn't make much sense, given they're demons and not really animals of any stripe. Hell, they can talk... badly. No sir, I don't get it.

Next: The stupidest loving thing.

kaynorr
Dec 31, 2003



Tasoth posted:

I have to agree that a Culture based RPG would be difficult. For one, most of the characters/SC agents don't operate at their full potential in the open. Whenever their talets break out (Zakalwe, Horza), it's a last minute deal in which death is certain. Or they're cloistered like the girl with superior predictive abilities than a Mind. And then there is the question of how you mechanically support the special abilities of the characters.

Culture always seemed to be a natural fit for something like GURPS, which does a (reasonably) good job of handling interactions between vastly different tech levels - something that comes up more often than not in the life of an SC agent.

Plus, trying to figure out the point value of something in GURPS also gets across the staggering scale and gap between your average guy living a carefree life on an orbital and even a basic drone or SC agent, let alone something like a Mind. Culture scales....weirdly.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




:siren: Mark Rein·Hagen's Exile :siren:

•Part Four: Yet More Great Syndics•



When we left off before, we were talking about the Syndics, the major factions and power blocs in the setting that also convenient double as player character groups. This time we'll be going into the careers, the Syndics that focus around who you're working with rather than what you are.

•The Armada•

HTML Draft posted:

The Armada is the most ancient of all the Syndics, a legacy that is upheld with the most intense commitment.

Defenders of the Hegemony's borders, the Armada sees itself as the most powerful and disciplined fighting force in the galaxy, dedicated and untarnished guardians of the Republic. Their massive fleets have stood watch at the Barricade for eons, protecting the Hegemony from the ever-circling barbarians and other invaders.

<<< Legend has it that long ago the Dreadnoughts imploded all the suns at the Hegemony's borders so that invaders couldn't launch an attack through them. The Armada still patrols this Barricade of brown dwarves, but now forays beyond them as well, into the Grange. >>>
The space navy. :911: Rather than a force of enlisted volunteers, they're almost more like a social caste; entire families are born into the Armada and become soldiers or officers when they become of age, repeating the process throughout the centuries. They have an aristocratic white man's burden expectation of honor, politeness, and efficiency, and many Hegemonic positions are held by Armada members. They aren't often Exiles but they still have a great deal of interaction with them by virtue of being found at the edge of Hegemonic space, defending its borders.

The fleets of the Armada are focused around the (four or seven, depending on the draft) Dreadnoughts, massive vessels capable of smashing entire planets to rubble or destabilizing a star. While effectively invulnerable, the ability to construct these dreadnoughts has been lost to history, and is one of the few overt signs of the creeping decline of the Hegemony. They also employ numerous smaller ships, and these are the ones most often seen in the Grange as the Dreadnoughts themselves are usually pressed into service against the alien Horde instead. The public doctrine is that the war will be over shortly and the aliens are outmatched, but it's been running for over seventy years now and the Exiles know that it's effectively a stalemate. But the resources and matériel surplus being fed into the Armada is one of the things that keeps the Grange supplied and economically sound...

The drafts actually take different routes with the enemies the Armada are fighting. The html draft focuses more on the Horde being "barbarians" and aliens who are resisting the Hegemony from outside, while the PDF draft offers some other threats...

PDF Draft posted:

A particular branch of the Navy, not as well known as it's associate branches, who's true purpose remains a closely guarded military secret is the Substellar Corps. Mistakenly referred to as the Submariners, they have the highest casualty rate of all the Navy branches, both physically and mentally. Their sleek, heavily armed, specially designed Null-Ships ply the pathways of Nullspace. What their mission is and what they face the Navy refuses to elaborate upon. Rumours abound of encounters with an extra-dimensional alien presence somehow related to black holes. Of all Naval branches, the Substellar Corps has the largest concentration of Voidians.

•The Vanguard•

HTML Draft posted:

*** The Vanguard uses "bug icons" -- beetles, mantises, ants -- in its ship and uniform designs, and these should be used as the Micrographics. Ulster helmets are stylized bug heads consistent with their division. These designs aren't as ornate as the Armada; more functional style than a concerted effort to look imposing. ***

Brash, violent and coarse, Vanguard Legionnaires are both feared and respected in the Grange. They pride themselves on being the premier close combat personnel, and out here where deeds hold more weight than words, that pride is justified. They constantly save entire systems from Horde incursion -- and worse -- and never admit fear. Still, their unmatched zeal and determination has given them a reputation for being relentless and bloodthirsty.

<<< They're as likely to tear through an independent colony or subjugate an Exotic world "on orders" as help against the Horde menace. Many of their atrocities are committed under orders from Praetors commanding Vanguard forces (and a lot of them are petty despots using Legionnaires to enforce their vision of order). >>>
If the Armada is the space navy, the Vanguard are the space marines. :clint: ... er, not in the WH40K sense, but there's still a bit of that in there too. Still, while the Armada is elegant and calculating and probably all talk with sinister British accents, the Vanguard is aggressive and emotional. They're the ones who do the fighting planetside, with the equivalents of modern infantry and armored vehicles, often landed through dropships.

They have a bit of a rivalry with the Armada, thinking them effete ivory-tower sorts while the legions of the Vanguard does all the actual work. They have less political power due to being recruits rather than hereditary officers in close with the Hegemony leadership. But the Armada has the ships, and everyone knows it'd probably be the Vanguard putting dissidents against the wall, so everyone plays nice. Mostly.

•The Diplomatic Service (The Interior Ministry)•

HTML Draft posted:

<<< If information is power, then the Diplomatic Service is power, for there is little that happens in the Hegemony that the Interior Ministry does not know about or is not directly involved in. >>>

The Interior Ministry exists as part of a mundane political office attached to the Hegemonical Council, charged with performing duties of diplomacy in the name of the Hegemony and providing advanced information services for the state. Their influence reaches far beyond the limits of their public activities. They have existed as a shadow power behind the Hegemony since its birth and have endured radical political change from century to century. The Diplomatic Service, in one form or another, has survived every major episode in the growth of the Hegemony, from coups and revolutions to pogroms and purges.

<<< Forget all you ever heard that was good or just about the DS. Remember all the rumors and stories you heard whispered. >>>
They're the space spies and secret police, one part James Bond and three parts KGB. :commissar: In addition to the overt diplomatic services with the Grange governments, factions within the Hegemony, and outside races, they also take a very active role in Hegemony affairs and effectively function as a shadow government. The Diplomatic Service organizes coups, presents propaganda, arranges pogroms of undesirables (like most of our Exile PCs), and otherwise engages in large scale social engineering and terror programs in order to preserve the status quo of the Hegemony. They're arguably the most powerful Syndic simply due to the political clout they can call to bear in other to make the other Syndics do what they want, and their unlucky enemies get "vanished" into secret prisons or shallow graves rather than the relatively gentle punishment of exile.

•Bak' Sakusa•

PDF Draft posted:

The Bak’ Sakusa cannot be underestimated on any degree.
The spiritual warriors of the Bak’ Sakusa both enlighten and confuse on many levels. They are fierce fighters, yet their poems and art praise peace and harmony. They embrace war, and yet desire serenity. A Bak’ Sakusa war party unleashes a wild orgy of destruction and violence, yet their society is highly controlled through strict moral codes.

HTML Draft posted:

*** B/G graphic: The glyph of the Bak'Sakusa is a wheel with anunusually wide hub and four spokes which extend past thecomparatively narrow wheel rim, becoming weapon blades. Ingeneral, think of Indian and Arabic iconography for the -- forthe glyph, for example, think of Krishna's Wheel of Karma,Buddha's Wheel of Suffering, Gandhi's spinning wheel -- and coveras much surface as possible with ornamental details like "Arabic"script or fine carving or lathework. The weapon blades juttingfrom the spokes should look particularly nasty and baroque --keep the Asian motif with curving or wavy lines, but also feelfree to add barbs, hooks, and weapon-catching blades. They should look razor-sharp and alien, making the wheel as a wholereminiscent of some kind of Clive Barker chainsaw. If detailpermits, hub may be "etched" with the caste mark of theMawwachadi [see sketches]. Color: (all in subdued tones to allow for text to run across) rim and hub are gold, each spoke iscolored differently: green, blue, red, gray.
Space barbarians! ... We'll politely ignore the connotations of rampaging oriental hordes. :eng99:

A millennium ago, five fanatical and feuding tribes were exiled from the Hegemony, thrown onto a planet at the edge of known space with the expectation that they'd kill each other and keep their problems out of Hegemon politics. This almost worked as planned, as the families murdered each other for centuries... until eventually and finally they were united under a single warlord, and became Bak’ Sakusa, the “Five Families”.

PDF Draft posted:

Caste and your position in it determine everything from monetary gains to sexual roles(where Caste determines who the aggressor is sexually). This often leads to problems with other cultures since the Bak’ Sakusa consider themselves "above" all non-Bak’ Sakusa.
Having internal peace didn't make them not dicks, though. And yes, yet more questionably rapey material. :what: Their aggressive culture has only gotten more focused in their centuries of exile, and while they focus on challenges of art and sport among their own kind, but go right back to aggressive conquest with outside groups, with conquered peoples being turned into literal slave labor. They've long since broken away from their planet of exile and are building their own empire to try and match the Hegemony; it was only the unified effort of the other Syndics that kept the Grange from getting overrun. They have the largest military force of any Syndic except the Armada and Vanguard, and the Diplomatic Service quietly suspects their production capacity will outpace the Hegemony in only a few years.

The only saving grace is that they're nominally still members of the Hegemony, and haven't blatantly tried attacking the core worlds. This is small consolation to the Exiles in the Grange of course, and basically the Bak' Sakusa are assholes who nobody really likes. But they're available as a PC option! :downs:

Next Time: Even more Syndics! There's a lot more of these than I remembered...

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I have to wonder how Monte's magnum opus hasn't gotten clamped onto the very nipples of this thread.

I plan on reviewing the Book of Vile Darkness sometime down the line. But first, I need to make good on my promise to review The Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Mythic Feats (yes, there's a 3rd one). After that, I'm really gearing up for showing off Spears of the Dawn.

50 Foot Ant posted:

Ignoring ECL could work. Hell, there was tons of workaround posted that made monsters viable PC's.

poo poo, having a party of monsters taking the war to the pinkskins/smoothskins were great.

Oslecamo's Improved Monster Classes is a homebrew project on Min-Max Boards intentionally designed so that monster PCs don't suck, and can multi-class and be relevant in parties.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 19:11 on May 23, 2014

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

I had a game where some of the players used those Oslecamo's Improved Monster Classes, some seem a bit powerful while others seem fairly balanced. I have wanted to try them myself, but never had a DM willing to let me. A while back some of us on IRC had talked about how a all monster game using them might be interesting.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


The end of 3.5 was looming over the horizon, and as usually happens towards the end of a system's life cycle the developers got a little experimental. In addition to the last few Complete series books muddying the waters a bit about what it means to be a Fighter, Wizard, or Cleric, 2005 saw the release of Magic of Incarnum. It introduced a completely new power source for characters. Unfortunately the way it was designed was somewhat flawed. Of the three classes introduced, only two were very good, with the third falling into the all too familiar description of "Like a Paladin except worse." 2006 was more promising, bringing with it the Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords. If that sounds familiar, it should. All of the developers of the Tome of Battle were put onto dev teams for 4th edition, and it's 'martial abilities as powers' system can be seen throughout 4e. We aren't talking about the Tome of Battle today though, no we're talking about something a bit less universally good.


No you can't do this. You can do something similiar to this but 'Devil Trigger: Yamato' isn't on the Wizards spell list, sorry.

Tome of Magic wasn't as good as Tome of Battle, but the idea was the same, figure out a way to place magic and melee on equal footing while making sure that they both stayed 'cool' in different ways. The difference is that Tome of Magic has three complete different ways of doing that and only one really succeeded. Between the rest, one is 'okay' if you use some unofficial errata and the other barely functions if and only if you are completely optimized, and even then 1/6th of it's class features don't even work because the rules for how they function weren't printed until the official errata document.
Conveniently enough that's the order they're listed in the book, so let's get started.



This? This you can do.

While Pact Magic as it's own 'thing' is new, the book points out that lesser pacts happen in magic all the time. It can be a pact with yourself to uphold an ideal. Such as in the case of a Monk, if you ever step off the path to enlightenment you can never get back on. Or it can be a pact with a Deity. By placing their souls into the hands of a higher power Clerics and Paladins gain strength, but if they forsake that pledge they can only continue with the Deity's consent. There's also the more overt uses of Pacts such as using Planar Ally to get an outsider to do your dirty work, or Geas to force someone to do your bidding or face the consequences. But Pact Magic (or more specifically Binding) is something different entirely. You aren't making a pledge with yourself, or an outsider, or a god. You are making a Pact with a vestige.

Vestiges are the remnants of once living souls that are trapped beyond the borders of Life and Death. Whether they were mortal souls strong enough to shatter the cage made by death, wayward outsiders too willful to cease existence, or dead gods unwilling to lie peacefully in their astral graves, they are all outcasts of the Cosmos. They dwell in a place no one can reach and exist in a manner no one really comprehends. The eternal distancing from reality drives most vestiges mad and twists their views of all beings, even themselves.

Because they exist beyond life and death, the Gods are unable to do much about them. Paradoxically, any mortal with a strong enough will and knowledge of their symbol and title can summon a portion of the vestiges forth to bind them to their very souls. For their part vestiges always answer the call of a binder strong enough to hold them because they are so desperate for even the slightest taste of reality and a respite from the void. Anyone can draw a vestige's seal, but only someone capable of hosting a vestige has any hope of calling one forth.


Did I mention that the art for this book is on the whole pretty good? Cause it is.

Immediately after drawing a seal the prospective binder must ritually invoke the desired vestige's name and title. The origins of the name and title are usually associated with both it's previous existence and it's current state. They can change over time but usually only rarely and even then binders with the proper information can usually interpret or even anticipate these changes. Once the vestige is manifest, a binder must formally request a pact. The general terms are always the same no matter the vestige, to gain its power a binder must agree to host it for a period of 24 hours. Once the pact is agreed to a contest of wills takes place between the vestige and its binder. This is the vestige trying to leverage more control over the bargain, and can be played out as an argument, a staring contest, a riddle, anything. If the vestige wins it can control how the binder acts and punish him if they stray. If the binder wins, the vestige comes along quietly.

Once the pact is made the two are inextricably bound. A shard of the vestige's soul binds with the binder's spirit, creating a link so tight that their body warps to display some sign of the vestige's presence. The inconvenience of these signs are usually minor and more than worth it to gain access to the powers the vestige grants. Because vestige magic is easy, it requires no components, no magic words, no complicated gestures. If the ability is within the vestige's purview, the binder wills it to happen and it does.

Those who practice Pact Magic are quick to point out how easy it is. You do not need to beg, a vestige never refuses a pact. Once you've learned the basics the only real difficulty is how much control the vestige gets in the situation. Of course the ease at which Pact Magic is learned and the fact that it by definition requires the mingling of your soul with something beyond reality and understanding has put it at odds with most Religions. Many churches actively hunt binders and do what they can to eradicate evidence of it to prevent the faithful from learning that beings can exist beyond the gods reach. This general condemnation in polite society makes discovering binding difficult, even if it's easy to master.


Jozan why? I thought you were cool.

Many binders are defrocked priests or acolytes who took up pact magic after discovering the rituals in heretical texts kept hidden in secret libraries. Others take up the art after discovering lost tomes in ancient ruins. A few gain their knowledge from other binders but the secrecy their art necessitates makes this unlikely.

Now let's have some mechanics

The Binder Class

"I call upon you, Amon, the Void before the Altar. Render unto me your sight and your breath, for I stand before your seal and possess your talisman."

So first they get the standard ability score/race/alignment stuff out of the way. As far as ability scores, Cha is the most important, as it controls the DC of your abilities as well as your ability to make a good pact I.E. win the test of wills. They say that Con also affects the strength of your abilities but I can't remember if it does (e: there are two vestiges that have con based abilities so it a nowhere near as vital as they say), but you're as likely to be in melee as not so it's as valuable as it is to a cleric. They then go on to state that "Since you make both ranged and melee attacks Strength and Dexterity are also valuable, as is Intelligence so you have lots of skills." Which is mostly bull. You're more likely to make melee attacks than ranged attacks, there is only one vestige that focuses on bows, and two that use weapon finesse, and one of those boosts your dexterity anyway. Intelligence will let you shore up some skills, and there are certain vestiges that have minimum skill requirements. That said there are other Vestiges that will help you cover for skills you don't get. You do get most of the knowledge skills, as well as intimidate, bluff, and diplomacy. So it's not like your skill points are going to be wasted if you do put a higher int in here.

As far as races are concerned, well. "If you have a god, they probably hate you for even thinking about doing this." and every race has gods. So regardless of the race they're rare. There's a slight uptick with Half Elves and Half Orcs (even though Horcs have terrible stats for this) since they're already outcasts. For alignment, regardless of their previous existences, vestiges are beyond morality. And frankly beggars can't be choosers. But the act of binding and it's being contrary to most religions means most binders are iconoclasts, so neutral, chaotic neutral, neutral evil, or chaotic evil are the most likely candidates.

Binders get proficiency with light armor(not shields), simple weapons, and a d8 hit die. That doesn't sound that great but there are ways to shore that up pretty easily with the right vestiges and bonus feats. They get good Fort and Will and poor reflex, 2+int skill points, 3/4ths BAB, and have a starting age like a cleric.
There's then a full page description of Soul Binding which is an incredibly dry way to put "you are binding a dead god to your soul" but there's a few important bits in here. When you make a pact you roll 1d20+your 'effective binder level' + cha, that is your binding check and it takes 1 minute. You can rush it as a full round action by taking a -10 penalty but considering drawing a seal itself takes 1 minute you will probably never do this. If your check beats the DC of the vestige, you have made a good pact and that's it. If you don't you have made a poor pact and you are affected by the vestige's influence. While you're affected you must adhere to its restrictions to the best of your ability. If you willingly cannot or will not perform a required action or refrain from a prohibited one, you take a -1 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, and checks until that vestige leaves you. These penalties can stack, and if you have multiple conflicting vestige prohibitions and you have to make a choice that makes one of them angry, too damned bad. While you're bound to a vestige you display their sign. It's not an illusory or shape changing effect, you flat out grow horns, or goat hooves, or extra faces on your body. It can be hidden by mundane or magical means as per normal. They cannot be removed from your body before the 24 hours are up except under extraordinary circumstances and they can only be suppressed by an antimagic field or similar effect. Every power granted by a vestige is supernatural, which means the dc is a straight 10+ 1/2 EBL + Cha. This means that the dinky level 1 powers are just as hard to resist as the level 20 ones. God bless good game design decisions. You can bind more vestiges to yourself as you level up, to a maximum of four at level 20.

Then there are the less straightforward class features. At 2nd level you can suppress/reveal the sign from any Good pact you've made as a swift action. 4th, 11th, and 18th level you get a bonus feat from a list that includes armor proficiency, shield proficiency, martial weapon proficiency, and any binding related feats. also at 2nd level you get pact augmentations. By drawing extra power from your vestiges you can give yourself a pick from a list of abilities, but most of them are worthless because "+1 insight bonus on saving throws" "+1 insight bonus to AC" and "+1 insight bonus on attack rolls" are on that list. by 20th level you can make five selections from the list and they do stack. At 6th level your vestiges are kind of attached to you, well, in more than the literal sense, and they don't want you to die. At first you're just immune to fear while bound to a vestige, eventually you get Slippery Mind, immunity to energy drain and negative levels, and immunity to mind affecting spells. Which is pretty sweet.

And that's it, like with a Wizard most of your crunch comes from your 'spells', which we'll get to later.

After that are the sections on how to play a Binder properly, which is mostly just repeating things they've already said just in the first person. As far as religion is concerned most binders are aware that the Gods were the ones who made half of the vestiges in the first place, so they are powerful. And while they may not be able to affect the vestiges, they can sure as hell affect the binder. So it's a good idea to at least pay them lip service and show respect to the servants of the divine. Other classes basically default to 'distrust', divine characters might want you dead, arcane characters respect your power but consider their own superior, other classes will probably distrust you if they see you summon a vestige, but they'll probably respect your abilities once you show off in combat.

As far as the rules for including binders in the campaign, the first part is obvious. "If you don't want them to be heretics that are hunted by anyone with a holy symbol, don't do that." There's a nice sidebar on heterodoxy and the fact that the Gods might trust their followers to make their own decisions regarding Pact Magic, so there might be one branch of the faith that hunts them and another that helps them or just doesn't care. You could also reflavor it as binding angels or ancestor spirits to yourself if you find the idea of vestiges unpalatable, though in that case you might want to change their names.

Up Next: Vestiges or at least some of them there are 32

This guy definitely

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 07:12 on May 24, 2014

Eide
Apr 28, 2014


I'm reasonably sure unreasonably hopeful at least one of the devs working on this played Shadow Hearts: Covenant (2004), and imported its demon-augmented magic system based on The Key of Solomon.

In fact, I can see Buer on the intro page of the Binders, and the sigils are kinda there too.

Which is in no way a criticism, by the way, since I really like SH:C and find the Pokemon-style demon collection cool.

Though, ironically, they're giving out information on summoning demons vestiges from real world sources in D&D, 20 years after the whole "D&D is the work of the Devil! It will teach your kids to summon and worship Satan!" witch-hunt. Take that, Christianity! :v:

Eide fucked around with this message at 09:49 on May 24, 2014

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Sourcebook Three: Mindwerks - Part Eight: "80% are extremely sadistic and indifferent toward all other life forms (pathological)."

Gene-Splicers


How to make one art into four arts, by Palladium Books.

As teased in World Book Five: Triax & the NGR repeatedly, it's the Gene-Splicers! Take a bow, Gene-Splicers, it's finally your time to shine.

... well, this is bound to disappoint. :(

They have "mastered the secrets of eugenics" but then it describes them being able to modify genetic material directly, and they can make all sorts of changes to people like making them superhuman, deaging people or curing disease. They can solve all of life's mysteries!... but they won't be doing that.

Genetic Reconstruction & the Human Blueprint

So, the gene-splicers are... (deep sigh)... diabolical sadists... (pained groan)... who like doing all sorts of Claremontian body horror to people and seeing how they respond. They do it for mysterious (noexistent) reasons that feels like a vague parody of science. "We've given this person a face on their butt, let's see how they react! They won't sit down anymore! Fascinating!"

They don't make the same thing twice, except when they do, since they've been making monster brodkil (an oxymoron, it would seem) where they have more arms and gargoyle wings. Why? Because that's what it says in the script. No reason is given. Seriously, if they love the brodkil so much, maybe they should marry them.

Apparently the Gene-Splicers are the best with genetic modification in the Megaverse, and the fact that they're evil jerks is supposed to be a massive tragedy. But they're just retreads of villains like the Splugorth (who do the same body horror thing, only using magic), or even just Mindwerks from the same book (who do the same thing, only using cybernetics and implants). Hell, now we have two groups sponsoring the brodkil, as if to try and spice up the awfully generic demon baddies that they are.

Game Master Notes:
How to use a Gene-Splicer


You use them to excuse away custom monsters. I mean, we already have rifts to infinite dimensions that can justify anything, but maybe you want to use sociopaths in Mœbius hats instead.

Rifts Sourcebook 3: Mindwerks posted:

BEWARE! Going crazy with the possibilities can unbalance your game or turn into a monster-fest. Neither is desirable.

Well, poo poo, you wouldn't want Rifts to turn into an unbalanced monster-fest, gosh!

Some Considerations

Siembieda beats on the drum to remember that the Gene-Splicers are evil evil evil and never do anything good for anyone and if it looks like they did it was a trick. Oh, and here's a Siembiedism: remember that ugly can be good and the beautiful can be evil! Imagine the possibilities of common sense! Also don't gently caress with the PCs too much with body horror stuff. "Show some compassion." Oh, and you can have the Gene-Splicers turn a member of their supporting cast into a m-m-monster, what will the PCs do? Or maybe a monster is falsely accused of a crime it did not commit, which happens about once every book Siembieda writes.

But there aren't many Gene-Splicers and they're supposed to be rare, and hang out in the Black Forest next to the Tree of Darkness, wh'ev that is. Once again, they prefer to mutate sentient people because they're "motivated by cruelty and evilness". Well. It takes 4d4 weeks to do major mutatinos, so hope you don't get caught because you'll be out of the game for like three months.

Rifts Sourcebook Three: Mindwerks posted:

Gene-Splicers NEVER share their secrets! The Splugorth would pay or do almost anything to possess even a fraction of the gene-splicers' knowledge of genetic reconstruction, but it will NEVER happen.

All-caps is ALWAYS the BEST way for a WRITER to get THEIR POINT across!! What do the Splugorth care? They can do most of what the Gene-Splicers can do, save create creatures that can breed true (or maybe they can?). It hardly seems to matter, since they have armies of bio-wizarded soldiers in any case. Also, the idea of the Splugorth getting too powerful with this knowledge - given their armies of adult dragons and metzla - is pretty laughable, given they're big tentacled balls of villainous bullshit to begin with. Also, the genetic modifications don't work on supernatural creatures, so it's not like the Splugorth could do much for minions they don't already modify and blarrrgharharhghatrghg

:mad:

Ugh, this whole thing comes across as the most passive-aggressive poo poo. Use my idea, but don't use it too much, because I don't know if I can trust you with this- We get a listing of all the basic stuff they can do, and they only big deals are extending life spans or boosting psychic powers, but... yes, of course, their modifications might have horrible side effects, if you didn't get enough of that pass-aggy GM bullshit in the Mindwerks section. "Sure, you can have wings, but you're now allergic to feathers!" O'course, o'course.

Gene-Splicers

They're evil, arrogant, coldhearted, dispassionate, menacing, cruel, obsessed, extremely... sadistic, indifferent, etc. For all their bluster, they're just S.D.C. beings, and have to rely on technology to protect themselves. They're physically and mentally mighty, but they have zero charm and less than zero looks (despite looking mostly just like older humans). Of course, they're immune to psionic mind reading so you can't steal their sekrits, and have big bonuses against fear and illusions. Also, they can't be turned into vampires for no reason. They don't have any magic, but have all sensitive, healing, and super psionic powers. Also, a bunch of skills at 98%, with a level progression just like PCs... let's see, equipment includes an armored robe, translator, mini-computer, another mini-computer and translator (hey, "Editing God"), radio (because that's what FTL civilizations use to chat), special glove with all sorts of nanotech and hidden blades. Oh, and they have backup clones just in case they die.

But that's not all!

Omni-Sphere
(aka Floating Eye or Omni-Bot)

"It's the Omni-Sphere wait no I want to change it now that it's already laid out so Floating Eye wait no Omni-Bot-"

Remember that floating torture bot Darth Vader had? This is that, only with a bunch of ridiculous poo poo slathered on. It has a 200 M.D.C. force field which it can project to protect others, passable little lasers, little surgery claws that do 1d6 S.D.C., so why did we need stats for them...?, a camouflage and cloaking system, fancy sensors, another translator (translator count: 3), a crazy amount of skills at 98% (better than a PC at skills), and a basic AI.

But that's not all!

There's also 2d4 of them with every Gene-Splicer at all times, and 50 aboard every ship. Oh, and each has 6 attacks a round.
  • Player: "Let's board the Gene-Stealer ship!"
  • Gamemaster: "Gene-Splicer. Okay, you're in combat with... uh... 50 drones, 1 Gene-Splicer, and like 2 monster brodkil... that's, uh... they have 322 attacks this round. Give me a bit to roll 53 initiatives..."
  • Scene: (We now show to players again, who now have long, flowing beards irregardless of sex.)
  • Gamemaster: "And now to roll 318 attacks."
  • Scene: (Sounds of rolling looped for years, and then we now show an elderly group of players, one of which whom expires on the spot.)
Oh, and remember how they can project their force field? Turns out they can layer it, so if there are five bots and one Gene-Splicer, they can give him a force field of 1000 M.D.C. :v:

GSS Spaceship


The knobship.

GSS stands for... what? Gene-Splicer Spaceship, which makes it the Gene-Splicer Spaceship Spaceship. It's a big, nearly 500' craft with living areas and holding cells and evil laboratories and all that. It has nearly 5000 M.D.C. with its force field up. It can go MACH 12 or warp through space... which is "1d4 x 10,000 light years in 1d6 hours", which is a hilarious double dice-tendre. (Well, I though it was funny and dumb and swingy, anyway.) "Some gene-splicers have 1d4 pets or slaves created from genetic experiments."

It has a laser batter that does 1d6 x 100, in the interest of TPKing, or missile batteries that can fire barrages for a mere 16d6 x 10 M.D. It has auto-repair systems (with no mechanics or rules), it's radar-proof, can cloak, turn silent, and then says 144 omni-spheres is standard, so, you know. That's 864 enemy attacks. Oh, and that's not all.
  • Narrator: "Three generations of rolls later, the players finally defeated one hundred and forty-four eyebots, ten monster brodkil, and cornered the gene-splicer. The work of decades was about to see fruition."
  • Shamus the Fourth: "Okay, the gene-splicer backs into his hallway, closing the hatch. The bridge section detaches and launches off, leaving you aboard the now-falling ship."
  • Player Janus of the 3rd Generation: "We shoot at the bridge section with our Boom Guns! Pew pew!"
  • Shamus the Fourth: "The force field around the bridge section has regenerated enough - because you've been fighting inside - that it soaks all your damage. Then the gene-splicer activates the ship self-destruct on the falling portion. No defense is possible, take 40,000 M.D.C. damage. Anybody left inside takes a mile-long fall. Also, the gene-splicer exits the atmosphere and accelerates to .16 times the speed of light."
  • Narrator: "And with that there was nothing left but for the collective players to melt down their dice and pour them down the throat of Shamus the Fourth, master of the game, ending his reign over the tabletop once and for all."
Three-Headed Wolf

Also known as the "Tri-Wolf", it's an M.D.C. wolf with three heads that it notes can be used as an "optional player character" that gets great stats save for IQ (dumb) and Beauty (average). Yes, it's a super-charismatic wolf. However, it doesn't have much M.D.C. (average of 27), no armor, great attack bonuses but poo poo for damage, you can't talk, minor pisonics, and some survival skills. So, you know, you can finally live the dream of playing a wolf with three heads that can claw a forest down.

Monster Brodkil


Because the regular brodkil wasn't monster enough.

A regular brodkil with better stats, improved M.D.C., bat-wings, and might have extra arms. You can play one, but they aren't very fleshed out (that's a pun, son), poo poo for skills, and all the brodkil powers which you can look up in my writeup of Rifts Sourcebook. Oh, and if you roll super-lucky (2%) you an get 2d6 added to all your attributes! That sounds fair enough, it's best to reward players who roll really, really luckily.

Next: :siren: Erin Tarn :siren:

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Hey, public domain demons are hard to come by, but yeah that's Buer, Dantalion, and Ipos. Most of the names of the demons come from the Key of Solomon, only some of them have the same origins and sometimes their appearances differ wildly.

e: I haven't played much(any) Rifts but what is his obsession with Gargoyles?

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 15:03 on May 24, 2014

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


Huh. That binder could actually be pretty interesting to play - particularly in a solo game.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

What I mainly remember from Binders is that the basic premise is pretty cool. It seemed kinda clunky in play (while the wizard is memorizing and the cleric is praying, the binder is doing a bunch of little rituals that he hopefully has the components for and making a bunch of checks). But the best thing is that a lot of vestiges were entities from D&D lore who weren't quite gods but were more than just NPCs or monsters.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




:siren: Mark Rein·Hagen's Exile :siren:

•Part Five: The rest of the Syndics•



Like I mentioned before, there's sure a lot of these. :toot: It's probably for the best anyway... Exile looked like it could have been a rather big setting, encompassing a large region of space, so it's good to have a lot of character options. And a lot of factions to cause trouble with...

•Common Weal•

PDF Draft posted:

The Syndic of the Common Weal is a dedicated adherent to the founding treaty of the Pactum Weal. This collection of worlds has upheld the standards and ethics of the Pactum Weal even after the disruptive rise of the Pax Republica.
The Common Weal has existed for millennium, and has prospered; flourishing on a large number of worlds, becoming in their time, the greatest colonialists of the Hegemony. Unfortunately, their belief in large families and multiple brood births has lead to their worlds overpopulation.
Mentioned but not given a writeup in the HTML draft, the Common Weal are, well, space nobility. The Pactum Weal was the original treaty made millennium ago that brought the assorted Syndics together into the Hegemony, and they take great advantage of being one of the "old" power groups. While the actual population of the Syndic stretches all the social strata, in theory everyone under it is part of a massive interconnected noble family, even the serfs and paupers in the street. Not that this does much for them beyond an insufferable ego. Of course the actual "Aristos" live in isolated worlds to themselves, mingling with the common people only on rare occasions. Even within the Hegemony politics and innuendo are still weapons, and a public blunder can quickly sink the fortunes of Aristo. Also...

PDF Draft posted:

The Aristos pursue lives of comfort and pleasure, valuing wealth more than glory. The practice of taking multiple spouses and lovers is practiced by both males and females in the Weal. While it is illegal for anyone of the underclass to have more than three spouses, this law is difficult to enforce.
Ah, White Wolf Null Foundation. :geno: In any case, you can probably figure out how the rest of this goes. Arrogant, aristocratic, and somewhat inbred... there's a lot of connections between them and the leadership of the Armada as well. Their greatest secret is that they harbor a small population of Virago - individuals who received extensive treatments to become effectively immortal. This is in flagrant violation of Hegemony law, and it's only their political clout and closeness to the Armada that keeps them from falling under suspicion. Although it's quite possible many of the other Syndics are controlled behind the scenes by the Virgao as well, and help deflect suspicion...

•Pax Republica•

HTML Draft posted:

This relative newcomer to Hegemony politics was born during the Ongzer Rebellion almost 200 years ago. Organized by youthful intellectuals and idealists among the head count of Trinary, the revolution shook the Hegemony to its very foundations and resulted in sweeping changes throughout the galaxy.

The Ongzer Rebellion found its roots in the oppressive Virago oligarchy which ruled the Hegemony for millennia. The rebels rose up as one and executed every last immortal and royal official they could get their hands on.

Though in danger of crumbling at any moment, the rebellion was sustained by its leaders' cleverness and passion. Word and ships spread quickly to nearby systems, frightening the existing gerentocracies into flight. Brutal but decisive victories placed the revolutionaries in the position of Syndic founders in a few weeks. By the time these rebels-cum-diplomats arrived at the Hegemony Senate on Diadar, they represented nine star systems.

<<< It's amazing such widespread bloodshed was not stopped by the Hegemony's military forces. I can see something like that out here, but there in the Core Worlds? Just goes to show that the Hegemony isn't as omnipotent as a lot of folks think. >>>
If the Hegemony is an ancient oligarchy, the Republicans were and are the rebels who attempted to shake the foundations of civilization and rebuild it in a better form. :ussr: While they didn't really succeed the plot was effective enough at its main goals; the immortals who ran the Hegemony were executed and the Hegemonic Council was forced to pass laws that banned anti-aging treatments. While the revolution gained them a great deal of respect from the underclass, it didn't last very long... toppled within a few years by a new revolution, and again, in bloody purges. Eventually, the Republica that remained in control became a corrupt ruling class themselves, and while they have traditions of equality there's a lingering hypocritical power-mongering controlling bent in the leadership of the Republica. While they're still a strong power in the Hegemony, most of the other Syndics consider them dangerous and murderous idealists.

•The Consortium•

PDF Draft posted:

Trade and Artifex are the engines of the Hegemony; the blood and bone that bind it together. All Syndics engage in trade in one form or another and almost all utilize Artifex, but no other Syndic has become as integral a part to Hegemony finance and well being as the Consortium.
The Consortium has become such a key figure in the galactic economy that if it were to fall, it would most likely take the entire Hegemony with it. By being the primary loan agency to a vast majority of the great Syndics and producing over 60% of the manufactured goods within the Hegemony they can exert great influence over the Inner worlds and beyond.
The Consortium owes this dominance to its intimate relationship with Artifex. Among all of Humanity, only the Consortium are fully qualified to manufacture Artifex. Only the Consortium understands the many layers of robotic nuances and the exact processes required to create new Artifex and lodes.
Too big to fail investment banking... in space! :homebrew: Instead of being cunning and greedy sorts (see the Cartel in a moment for that...), the Consortium are typically precise and calculating, working together in careful organization rather than risking individuality, sort of high frequency trading in social form. Part of this is their closeness to the Artifex, the intelligent machinery ubiquitous to the Hegemony, but also because almost all of the Consortium is staffed by engineered clone lines. There are still individual variations, but the different lines and families are created with specific traits desirable to their intended business function, and every member of the Syndic is implanted with a Super Ego lode in their forehead, a gem-like device that shares their experiences and memories with their peers, allowing for rapid and unified response.

Despite this, there's still a lingering drive for individuality. The dress codes and regulations in Consortium regions are strict, but members often go out of their way to adopt unique appearances and demeanors when off duty, and tend to follow chaotic fashion trends and hedonistic hobbies.

•The Cartel (Versa Componae)•

HTML Draft posted:

<<< These individuals do not appreciate being called, "The Cartel". Instead they refer to themselves as the "Versa Componae" meaning , "Silent Family". >>>

Two things form the basis of the Versa Componae, greed and fear. Greed is for the members, fear is for those who are not members.

Greed.

In order to understand the "Cartel", you have to understand money. What must always be remembered is that we are, at heart, business people. In many respects we resemble the Consortium, loaning money and minding legitimate businesses. But, our desire for wealth surpasses the lust of any other Syndic. Our members will take advantage of every opportunity to increase their monetary wealth and crime is a justifiable means to an ends. In our world, money is power. And power is life.

Fear.

This aspect is simply about control. Who has it, and who doesn't. Fear is merely a tool to achieve control. Without control there can be no money. Without money there can be no power. And without power, life is worthless. Therefore, we must use fear if our efforts and our lives are to be preserved and rewarded.
One part Ferengi, one part La Cosa Nostra. Another major financial Syndic, but a far smaller and far less... reputable one. While theoretically honorable, this really only applies to other members of the Cartel; people in other Syndics can be cheated, threatened, and murdered as necessary. Their focus is more shipping as opposed to the Consortium's banking and construction, except it's heavily supplemented by ferrying contraband to and from the Grange, as well as the typical protection rackets and assassination schemes an organized crime group tends to get involved with. Mostly still a political power in the Hegemony due to the pretenses of "legitimate business"... as well as infiltrating most of the other Syndics behind the scene, giving them a spy network second only to the Diplomatic Service.

•Zae Zarandt•

PDF Draft posted:

Of all the religions of the Hegemony, few are as far ranging and widely accepted as the monks of the Zae Zarandt. Once a faction of philosophers on Diadar, they abandoned the linear logic of their fellows and sought their own path; a path of spirit and introspection intended to elevate them to the next step of spiritual evolution.
They equate the concept of spirit to life itself, seeing a complicated web of connectivity between all living things. They study this theoretical pattern in the form of a game of glass beads known as Quo. Through Quo the Zae gain wisdom and insight into human behaviour. To many, Quo seems to be nothing more than a confusing ritual, a game with no perceptible beginning or end. The game is studied intently by many throughout the Hegemony, especially among the Consortium who seem hard pressed to completely understand its nuances. In actuality, Quo is a working model of the evolution of life, from it's most basic levels to it's eventual outcome: the spiritual epiphany of humankind.
The Zae say the first game of Quo ever played, has never stopped, that the game continues on through time, on through the Zae Zarandt. Much of the Zae Zarandt life revolves around the game. It is a mental exercise and a tool for meditation. Great spiritual revelations can be achieved when contemplating the movements on the board.
Space monks, with non-deific meditation as religious philosophy. :catholic: Considered eccentric by most of the other Syndics, the Zae Zarandt welcome new acolytes... though few actually make it through the torturous physical trials of Zae-Dun, their martial meditative art. They also forsake personal wealth, the use of drugs and intoxic-

PDF Draft posted:

Many bodily needs can be met through the Zae's deep meditations; fasting, metabolism control, or auto-erotic sexual release.
... :ughh: Well, anyway. They also avoid the use of technology wherever possible, with many only ever using ships to travel infrequently, or grudgingly making use of an Ulster to survive on a station. Due to their reclusive and meditative habits, the Zae Zarandt are actually well-respected by the other Syndics, if mostly because they don't pose any appreciable political risk. Adherents are spread across the Hegemony and the Grange, and it's not clear if there's any real leadership at all.

•Voidians•

HTML Draft posted:

<<<The stars are alive, after their fashion. You and they share a common origin, the Void. See the seed of the stars within you. See face of the Void swimming under the Deep.>>>

Self-described as purveyors of mystery and the unspeakable, the Voidians defy attempts to classify them simply. Depending on who you talk to, they are scientists and priests, witch doctors and cosmologists, charlatans and oracles. On starships everywhere, the Voidians lead their inscrutable ceremonies, providing themselves and their crews with the enigmatic truths of !space, the map of stellar threads, and the unimaginable commandments of the Void Itself.

<<<VOID: a complex philosophical concept which is rarely defined and is usually represented as the primal, incomprehensible vastness of empty space, nothing and everything. Center of the Voidian religious system. See also: universe, universal unconscious, It.>>>
Creepy cultists obsessed with the darkness of empty space. The religion dates back almost into prehistory, during the initial diaspora of humanity into the cosmos. The specifics have changed over time, but it's almost entirely made up of people who've spent the majority of their lives in space, regardless of origin and profession. A worrying number of the Armada follow their esoteric dogma, for example.

Rather than being overtly religious, the Voidians hide their spiritualism in scientific terms, with strange math and unusual quantum physics equations that point to "stellar threads", lines of space-time that twist connect the stars and create an elaborate three-dimensional megastructure that the adherents consult for navigation... and prophecy. They believe that attempting to perceive the truth only distorts it further, and terrible secret of space the mysteries of the Void will be forever unknown. They consider Suns to be gods or angels, and black holes to be demons, giving reverence to both as they hold ceremonies in open space, garbed in ceremonial Ulsters.

They have little direct political power as a group, but it's nearly impossible to work within the grange without meeting adherents. Something about working in the far reaches of space seems to draw people to their way of thinking... :tinfoil:

•Trancers•

HTML Draft posted:

We are the Trancers. We are the future.

Despite the best efforts of the authorities, our music has become the voice and mind of the young. We shape and we form the minds of tomorrow into our mind. The mass mind. The One Mind.

We were born upon Diadar less than eight years ago through the marriage of Pseudo Sensory Technology (Trancer Caps) and Trance music. Ours was a generation captured by purity and sound. Our music and visions spread quickly throughout the Hegemony from the highest minds to the lowest hearts. We burned too bright, such startling popularity was bound to draw the attention of the authorities. When questions of the potentially subversive nature of our Vibes arose in the Hegemonical Council, our founders were banished and our Gear was outlawed.

Many do not survive the Grange. Yet we have done more than survive, we have flourished. That which was meant to destroy us, has only made us stronger. Banishment validated our image as rebels thus enamoring the next generation with our ideals. Now our tide is felt throughout all worlds.
A small and recently formed Syndic, less than a decade old, that incensed the Hegemony enough that the entire movement was outlawed and Exiled. Maybe they just didn't like space ravers? :shrug: The Trancers inspired people to question the doctrines of the Hegemony, and some suspect they've done more to push the idea of rebellion more than the centuries-old purges of the Pax Republica ever did. They hope that through hedonism and spiritualism that people will be inspired, and that humanity will reach a new Renaissance that shatters the status quo.

A few Trancers remain on Diadar, but the ones in the Grange were into it before it was cool. :smug: As an almost purely Exile movement, the Trancers have no power in the Hegemony but are a major cultural force within the Grange, even if they have few actual allies outside a few sympathetic members of the Pax Republica and Cartel. And yeah, this is pretty much pure peak-90's Anarch-style White Wolf non-faction, but it actually kinda fits into Exile well especially considering the Hegemony's relatively tight control on culture and information.

Next time: We're done with the Syndics! But there's a whole lot of other setting information to go!

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Asimo posted:

Virago - individuals who received extensive treatments to become effectively immortal.

This one is up there with borrowing 'Brujah' for a clan of ultra-angry, gently caress-you-Dad vampires. Never change, not-White-Wolf.

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Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Yeah, that pick in terminology was particularly baffling. Does make me wonder if there's more going on there that was unexplained, since the whole concept basically screams "we'll make a splatbook for this a bit later on", but at this point who knows.

And yeah, it's pretty clear from the assorted docs that Rein·Hagen expected the Null Cosm to be a "thing" like the World of Darkness, with different games focusing on different elements of the setting. So Exile coming first, then something about the Hegemony proper, and so on. This obviously never panned out.

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