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Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


Ratpick, will you also be analyzing the limited edition skins? This is a very interesting review of my favorite PbtA hack; keep going! :D

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Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.

Bieeardo posted:

With search down I can't find the post, but someone suggested that the Turn Someone On move didn't necessarily require a sexual context. I wish I could remember exactly what they said, but I think it was in one of the monthly chat threads from a couple of months back. While sudden realizations of queerness are almost a genre convention (thank you, slashfic), I don't think it's fair to handwave everyone as being that malleable.

That said, just because a character is straight (or asexual, or what have you) doesn't mean they aren't going to be affected by a pass or a whispering campaign by someone they aren't interested in. Call it what it is: coercion. Maybe Johnny Straightarrow acts in Gary's favor as an expression of his internalized homophobia, in hopes of just getting out from under his influence before people start to notice; everyone knows how fast a destructive rumour can move, how persistent they can be.

VVV That's a good point, too.

hectorgrey posted:

Remember that a crush doesn't necessarily represent sexual attraction, and it's probably safe to say that most teenagers have had a crush on someone of the same gender at some point. Yay for confused hormones and the like.
Yeah, I was this close to actually typing that, but I took a break between my writing and completely forgot about it. I agree, the Turn Someone On move can work as intended without it needing to imply that your character gets suddenly aroused by it. The exchange of Strings can easily be taken to represent a character feeling something as a reaction to the other person strutting their sexy stuff in front of them, which could easily translate to social leverage. This makes perfect sense in the context of teenage drama: even if your boy character isn't actually into boys, if another boy made passes at them and they reacted in some way (embarrassment, silence, whatever) it'd be the exact sort of thing that horrible teenagers would use as social leverage against each other.

Davin Valkri posted:

Ratpick, will you also be analyzing the limited edition skins? This is a very interesting review of my favorite PbtA hack; keep going! :D
I forget, which ones are the limited edition skins again? Angel, Hollow and Serpentine? I've got all of them, and I really like all of them (especially the Serpentine: it's got that amazing Southern Gothic vibe to it), so I probably will be doing them after I'm done with the Skins from the main book. :)

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

The idea that some creepy-crawlies like vampires and fairies are so superhumanly sexy that they transcend sexual orientation is something of a genre convention, so I don't fault Monsterhearts for going there. It's trying really hard to be faithful to its source material, so reproducing that part of it was kind of unavoidable.

Besides, it's not like I haven't seen people from either side of the fence act against their stated preferences for someone who's "just that special" first-hand.

Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.

Another key thing I forgot to mention with regards to Turning Someone On is that, even if successful, the move doesn't actually force the player on the receiving side of it to take any type of action. If the player using it gains a String they can then try to use that String as leverage against the person they successfully turned on, but even then the person they got the String on still has full agency as to how they act. Even on a 7-9 the target character gets a choice between giving the other character a String or giving themselves to them (however you decide to read that).

Whereas a badly designed social system would essentially have seduction as mind control, in Monsterhearts seduction is at best a means to getting yourself a bargaining chip on the person being targeted. This I think is key: even if a person succeeds in manipulating your emotions, the player still retains full agency of their character.

Which actually works perfectly with the aforementioned "My character is straight but he feels totally weirded out by a dude trying to seduce him, hence the exchange of Strings" line of thought. One of the ways the game frames the exchange of Strings is that you learned something new about the character in question. What could teach you more about a person than seeing how they react to your flirtation, even if said reaction is just to run away while blushing a lot?

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I think this talk came up with Apocalypse World's sex moves and groups that may not want to involve rabid acts of loving in there game. Which then brought up that they really represent the two characters sharing an intimate moment and bonding but in a manner reflecting that the world is over and nothing good remains (or so you think). I think the Turning Someone On is something similar. It needn't be romantic/physical, as has been pointed out, but represents someone getting an emotional/mental raise out of the target. They've done something that the character can't stop mulling over and it's bringing that person closer to them, which can happen as being a teenager and having friends means there is usually a core individual or small group that the rest of a social group orbits around.

Long of the short, TSO is less about sexing everything and more about mental fixation/attraction to what the character represents. Or so it seems to me.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



System Mastery assembles, battered and hungover, to discuss Cthulhutech. We didn't hate it. We actually come out the other side wanting to play it, albeit with some obvious houserule fixes.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



It's hard to imagine a fix that could solve the issue that the basic dice mechanic produces truly awful odds, to say nothing of the massive power level disparities between different character types. Or the other truly awful poo poo that Ettin's covered - the rape poo poo, the Islamophobia...

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Mors Rattus posted:

It's hard to imagine a fix that could solve the issue that the basic dice mechanic produces truly awful odds, to say nothing of the massive power level disparities between different character types. Or the other truly awful poo poo that Ettin's covered - the rape poo poo, the Islamophobia...

We're both Exalted players so the fish rape seemed pretty lightweight by comparison to the beginning of Infernals/roughly as easy to houserule out of existence. Is the Islamophobia stuff in the core book? I must have skipped right over it.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Later book, as I recall. One of the early ones, states that the existence of aliens caused all of Islam to go insane and bomb itself out of existence.

Yeah.

Later books also introduced magical furries that take over your brain with rape waves, and of course the rape chair.

Having actually played Cthulhutech using just the core, though: you really don't want to play it. You want to play a game that has anime Cthulhu and mecha influences, similar to Cthulhutech, but better designed and not running on a dice mechanic that makes basic success at tasks often unlikely for stuff you are not focused on being able to do, and which does not produce parties in which one member can literally do more than all of the others combined.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


Mors Rattus posted:

Having actually played Cthulhutech using just the core, though: you really don't want to play it. You want to play a game that has anime Cthulhu and mecha influences, similar to Cthulhutech, but better designed and not running on a dice mechanic that makes basic success at tasks often unlikely for stuff you are not focused on being able to do, and which does not produce parties in which one member can literally do more than all of the others combined.

What he's saying is you want "Nyarlathotech: A Paul Ettin Game".

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Davin Valkri posted:

What he's saying is you want "Nyarlathotech: A Paul Ettin Game".

Yes, that.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

Davin Valkri posted:

What he's saying is you want "Nyarlathotech: A Paul Ettin Game".

Eldritch Skies.

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Eldritch Skies.

With Robots. Doesn't seem too hard to put into Unisystem or Savage Worlds, should the licence not be renewed.

I reiterate my idea about extreme Hastur infection resulting in building cheap mecha with creepily polite (infected human) pilots who fight via singing psionic lullabies to disable you before giving you the Final Sleep.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



theironjef posted:

We're both Exalted players so the fish rape seemed pretty lightweight by comparison to the beginning of Infernals/roughly as easy to houserule out of existence. Is the Islamophobia stuff in the core book? I must have skipped right over it.

It becomes a lot more evident past that first book, from what I recall of Ettin's posts. I know the cult splatbook has a cult pretty much rich folks going rape-rape-rape with sex slaves and in one of the later books one of the Hastur's influences has likely caused idol singer to sing a top hit song about wanting to get raped. Also, the sexy, sexy furries mentioned Mors are supposed to be Shub-Niggurath's spawn, which have a save vs. loving and an instant pregnancy result if female PCs fall to their charms (and they will).

However, listening to your podcast, I gotta admit I like that I like Tagers the most and a "not-Rifts" game I'm thinking off making will probably include Guyver-ripoffs in addition to Juicers with the serial numbers filed off.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Sounds like the series went right off the rails after the core. The core book has the term "rape camp" in it once, we're pretty sure, which is unpleasant but well within the realm of DM fiat fixing. I sort of want to see the sexy furries supplement now, lord knows I am no stranger to reading unpleasant furpg stuff already.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


CthuluTech started off decent as a vague idea and has gotten worse as the creators have filled in the blanks.

It's like a madlib being filled in with progressively more vile and offensive words.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Mors Rattus posted:

Later book, as I recall. One of the early ones, states that the existence of aliens caused all of Islam to go insane and bomb itself out of existence.

Yeah.

Later books also introduced magical furries that take over your brain with rape waves, and of course the rape chair.

Having actually played Cthulhutech using just the core, though: you really don't want to play it. You want to play a game that has anime Cthulhu and mecha influences, similar to Cthulhutech, but better designed and not running on a dice mechanic that makes basic success at tasks often unlikely for stuff you are not focused on being able to do, and which does not produce parties in which one member can literally do more than all of the others combined.

Excuse me, I think you mean literal Nazi rape chair. Have some respect for the source material.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Cthulhutech probably has the highest "So stoked for the initial concept" vs. "disappointed with how the game line turned out" that I've ever experienced with an RPG.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Yeah, C'Tech is a great concept as long as you include tons of caveats with "No not the rape chair. No no furries either." But actually playing it is a pain because the Difficulty system is completely hosed. If you specialize at doing something you will almost never fail unless the Difficulty class rises so high that you'd need to spend bennies to get bonus dice anyway. But if you don't specialize in something it is mathematically unlikely that you'll succeed at all.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




The funny thing about Cthulhutech is that it got me thinking, "Y'know, RIFTS has some crazy fun gonzo ideas in it, so I could use Cthulhutech to play a fast-and-loose version of that kind of thing." Now I want to take some of the basic ideas from Cthulhutech and play them in a totally different system.

I also have to give Cthulhutech credit for influencing me with its art alone. I used to say that art wasn't a big deal to me, but the Tager art really made me want to loving play Tagers. I barely know anything about Guyver and had no idea it was such a blatant lift, but "Lovecraftian werewolf ninjas fighting an evil corporation" is a game I want to loving play.

Ettin
Oct 2, 2010


Archives come back so I can double-check which parts of Ancient Enemies I've mentioned already and you guys are talking about CTech?

See you soon, F&F. :unsmigghh:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


The delay in this posting can be considered an ironic statement on Palladium's traditional lateness or something. :geno:

Rifts Sourcebook Three: Mindwerks - Part Twelve: "If the people of Tarnow know about anything, it's ship building."

The War Machines of the Tarnow Kingdom

So! As we know by now, Tarnow takes normal metals and converts them into magical super-metals. It talks about them being lighter than normal M.D.C. material, but for some reason the armors listed here are two to four times as heavy as regular Rifts armor.

Tarnow Body Armor


"Put on your helmet, man, you're ruining this shot with your haircut."

We have non-environmental chain mail with a crazy variety of metals to choose from, but the simple fact is that all of this is crap compared to regular M.D.C. armor, doubly so when it comes to NGR's armor suits. Even the "knock-off" armor produced in the NGR, which is crap there, is still better than this.

The only ones worth much in terms of the classic armor is non-environmental plate armor, just because you can get a 110 M.D.C. suit... if you don't care at all about sneaking or moving fast. There's also the environmental body armor, which is absolutely passable, it's clunky compared to just about any other armor but at least is better than most North American armor suits.

Then we start moving on to actual power armor. No section break, we just do.

Sting-Ray Power Armor


mou ichido HARIKE-N

This is an unarmed power armor designed for divin', and can jet around underwater at 50 MPH with about 200 M.D.C. holding out the water. It's supposed to use various energy rifles to fight with, but are those rifles waterproof?

The Sea Star


At least nobody will see how ugly this looks at the bottom of the sea.

Like the Sting-Ray, but crazily over-armored at 700 M.D.C., since it only has mini-missiles (torpedoes come out in the next book) and lovely lasers to fight with. I guess it's suppose to use rail guns, but the hand-held rail guns are overpriced embarrassments. And it can jet around at 50 M.D.C., apparently that bulk doesn't slow it down at all.

TC-R3 Missileer


Those feet are supposed to help it float, also, gently caress physics.

This is a construction robot modified for combat. It apparently has variants like the TC-R2, which is used for swimmin' missions. In any case it has grenade launchers (crap), mini-missiles (enh), and chest laser (useless). Oh, and a smoke dispenser. Now, if there were only rules for obscured vision or cover...

TC-R5 Gargoyle Stopper


"But is your gun oversized enough?"

This is their assault mech designed to counter gargoyles, but has an awfully low M.D.C. to have that kind of job. It does have a ton of medium missiles, mini-missiles, grenades, a giant energy rifle and head lasers that are the worst kind of crap (I mean, shouldn't they do more damage than small arms? Siembieda says no). It can't fly, though, so it can't even take the gargoyles on in a rad air battle.

It's okay I guess.

Stinger Turbo Tank


Wheeled Warrior.

"It is about as fast and easy to maneuver as a small truck." A small truck on JATO rockets, maybe; it normally goes 65 MPH, but can fire rockets to jump to 110 MPH. Its MDC - a little more than 300 - is massively underwhelming for a "tank". It has a rail gun that actually does more damage than its main laser turret, mini-missiles and smoke dispensers. Fact: Your average gurgoyle can take 12 hits from its main gun before it goes down, and that's one of the Gargoyle Empire's grunt troops. How'd these guys fight off the brodkil again?

Water Vessels

Sea Dart, Mini-Sub


More a crab than a dart.

"Its primary use is exploration and salvage, but it is also used for military reconnaissance, mine sweeping, sabotage, combat, and military troop insertion." Sounds like a Ron Popeil product. Is it also good at cleaning unslightly stains and being the life of the party, too?

At 70 MPH, it can go faster than any comtemporary underwater craft. For some reason, it barely has more M.D.C. than the Sting-Ray despite being fifteen times its weight. It can fire torpedoes that do solid damage, and has crappy claws that do practically none. Despite being huge mechanical arms, they only have the damage of a vibro-knife. A small, sad vibro-knife without any friends in the world. :(

Torpedo Speed Boat


Open-top so the gargoyles can just pluck you right off the water.

Right now, up front, just going to point out: the Torpedo Speed Boat doesn't have any torpedoes. Not one.

It has as much M.D.C. as a Sting-Ray, once again, presumably because boats aren't as cool as robot suits. It can go 150 MPH, too. It has a machinegun with explosive bullets which "can be used to detonate enemy torpedoes", which, uh, doesn't work for a number of reasons involving water and science, but there aren't any rules to do so anyway. Oh, and it can drop depth charges, and gets a bonus on doing "sharp turns or trick maneuvers", but we don't have any actual rules for maneuvering or crashing or anything like that. Granted, given the rules Palladium previously published for such, we're probably better off.

Lightning Hydrofoil Gun Ship


Pretty sure Copperhead piloted this one.

This goes 90 MPH - that's right, a hydrofoil that's slower than a speedboat. What's the point of that? Well, at least it's about as twice as tough as the Torpedo + mini-missiles + torpedoes + depth charges + lasers. Not much to add here, I'm just about boated out.

Walesa Cargo Ship


Pulse-pounding scow-hauling adventure.

40 MPH, 2600 M.D.C. of pure Tarnow steel. Oh, and it shoots missiles and depth charges and has power armor running around on it (they can't launch off, since none of them fly...). Sometimes it has more guns! They aren't statted, though.

Common Vehicles

You can have a normal vehicle that's M.D.C., like a 1200 M.D.C. bus. gently caress Glitter Boys, mount that boom gun on a bus and rock a dragon's world!

Ancient Hand Held Weapons

It notes some weapons can be made into M.D.C. weapons to be used to do mega-damage but doesn't say how much damage they do. gently caress 'em.

Fortifications

Your bungalow can be a forta... low... oh, I can't do this anymore. Thankfully, we're to the last page of the book.

Experience Tables

We are reminded Rifts is a game where a 600+ M.D.C. full combat cyborg levels faster than a 30+ M.D.C. barely-sentient three-headed wolf.

Etc

Rifts Sourcebook Three: Mindwerks has interesting ideas, but seems to botch on the execution every time. The best part is probably the farthest from the core material - the Tarnow Kingdom is an interesting concept that focuses on the wrong parts and gives too much detail on boats and not enough on the kingdom itself. The Gene-Splicers, however, are some of the worst pass-agg design I've seen in a Rifts book since Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis, where they're robbed of any potential to be interest of being generically evil monster-makers, in a setting where you don't need monster-makers. Have a rift pop open, a monster jump out, and there you go!

Next: Hummer's Slummers.

Arashiofordo3
Nov 5, 2010

Warning, Internet
may prove lethal.


This is why I never really got into rifts. It just seemed so badly designed and in some respects kinda boring. Some of the setting ideas are nice, but it lacks follow through and balance. It's like the game is saying 'look! Look at all this cool stuff THAT YOU CAN'T HAVE! NO! GO AWAY! THESE ARE MY TOYS! YOU DON'T GET TO PLAY WITH THEM!!!'

It just ends up as being off putting. Rather than, I wanna play this, I sort of end up feeling, why would anyone want to play this?

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Rifts Sourcebook Three: Mindwerks has interesting ideas, but seems to botch on the execution every time.
So it's a Rifts product then. :rimshot:

Bacchante
May 2, 2012

Friends don't let friends do sarcasm.


Libertad! posted:

Rapid Reload (Horrifically Overpowered, Mythic)
You never seem to run out of ammo.
Prerequisites: Rapid Reload, Rapid Reload (mythic).
Benefit: You can reload any weapon in your possession without taking any action to do so, including siege weapons. You never run out of mundane ammunition. If you expend a point of mythic power, you can reload every weapon you wish to within 30 feet as a swift action.

---

Verdict: Not overpowered. How many groups manually track ammunition, anyway? As your attacks per round are still limited by your Base Attack Bonus and feat selection, this isn't going to do much other than allow you to fire crossbows a lot more often.

-ahem- "including siege weapons."... Wouldn't this allow one to use, say, a ballista as their primary weapon? Just wield it like an Epic Crossbow? Heck, it's potentially Pathfinder, so they have guns. Big guns. A Fiend's Mouth Cannon does 8d6/shot. Admittedly damage isn't the end-all, be-all, but what's to stop you from loading up, say, a war elephant with a pair of cannons on the back and instantly reloading them with this feat to pummel everyone. For that matter, get a dozen cannons on the elephant and have minions or cohorts fire them off, then instantly reload them.

Just feels like there's more use there than you gave it credit for.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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



Binding Feats, Prestige Classes, and Items

Well it's been a while, so let's hammer out 3 bits of Binder stuff at once.

Pact Magic Feats

Bind Vestige: So you want to bind a vestige but can't afford the one level dip into binder to do so? This is the feat for you.. sort of. You can only bind level 1 vestiges, you only get one ability from them, and you can't suppress their sign even on a good pact. Not that you're likely to make a good pact as a level 1 binder. They're not even really good abilities either. Ronove gives you feather fall, Amon gives you darkvision, Aym gives you the ignore-hardness while sundering thing, Naberius gives you his skill-training thing. Ultimately this isn't that great a feat.
-Improved Bind Vestige: You're now a 5th level binder which gives you access to 3rd level vestiges, but you still only get one ability from them. the only real stand out is Savnok's call armor.... except you're only summoning the level 5 version of the armor.
-Practiced Binder: You get a second ability but they're still not that great, e.g. you get amon's ram attack.

Empower/Widen/Enlarge/Extend Supernatural Ability: You can sorta metamagic a supernatural ability once per day per one of these feats you take, the one godsend of these is that it's based on your hit dice as opposed to the relative level of the power, so there's nothing stopping you from empowering the level 20 whirlwind breath.

Sudden Ability Focus: You can get a +2 bonus to the DC of a single ability use once per day... hooray?

Expel Vestige:You can attempt to expel a vestige before your 24 hours is up. To do so you have to summon the vestige again and succeed on another binding check. If you do it's expelled but you take a -10 penalty on your next binding check and on the check to bind the vestige you expelled hte next time you do so.
-Rapid Pact Making: Once per day you can bind a vestige as a full round action without the penalty on the check.

Favored Vestige:Increase your binder level by 1 for a chosen vestige.
-Favored Vestige Focus: Increase the DC of your supernatural abilities from the vestige by 1.
-Rapid Recovery:The 5 round abilities from your Favored Vestige become 4 round abilities. Depending on what vestige you're favoring this could be anywhere from one ability to all four of them. Meaning you could do something every round.

Ignore Special Requirements: You can ignore the special requirements of the vestiges you bind.

Improved Binding: You gain access to vestiges 2 levels before you normally would. This might not seem like much, but imagine if there was a feat that let wizards gain access to N+1 level spells? Sure 10th level spells don't technically exist but you're gaining access to fireball at level 3.

Skilled Pact Making: You get a +4 bonus on binding checks.

Defense against the Supernatural: You get a +1 bonus on saving throws against supernatural abilities.

Supernatural Crusader: You get a +1 on attack rolls vs creatures capable of using supernatural abilities.
-Supernatural Opportunist: You know how the big thing about supernatural abilities is that they don't provoke attack of opportunity? Well if you take this feat they do.

Binding Prestige Classes


Anima Mage
“Those fools. They hunt innocents. It’s me they ought to fear!”

If you didn't get the hint, these guys are super evil, though they're only required to be 'non good'. They're also the requisite "Arcane caster + new thing" prestige class. The reason why they're evil is that they're essentially tricking the vestiges that they're binding. Rather than the normal experiences that a vestige longs for and expects to get out of the binding deal, they force them to devote their attention to other tasks. Even if they're extraplanar creatures it's still kind of cruel.

Their main class feature, Exploit Vestige if you take a -5 penalty on your binding check and still manage to make a good pact with the vestige you can give up one of their abilities to gain an extra spell slot of your highest level. If you fail to make a good pact then you still lose the ability as the vestige is kind of pissed at being exploited. Vestigial Awareness forces the vetsige to keep an eye out for danger and give you a +2 bonus to initiative checks. Vestige Metamagic Lets you give up all access to a vestige's abilities for 5 rounds in exchange for applying a metamagic feat to a spell for free without increasing it's casting time. and Vestige Casting, the capstone ability, lets you cast one of your spells as an immediate action once per day as if it were affected by the still and silent spell feats. They also have a new spell here called Vestigewrack which forces an incorporeal creature to be overcome with feelings of their lost corporeality, torturing them and giving them a major penalty on attacks and saves for as long as they're near you. It also gives you a +2 bonus on binding checks.

As far as the fluff is concerned, take every bad thing anyone's ever said about a binder and it's probably true about Anima Mages. They're hated even by other binders so they have to be twice as sneaky and twice as ruthless to survive.


Knight of the Sacred Seal
“I serve Paimon, a prince among men who was martyred for love. Can you claim your cause to be so righteous?”

This is the requisite "Fighter + New Thing" class, and it's actually not that terrible, mostly because you don't strictly need to be a fighter to get into it, just have Weapon Focus and be non-chaotic. As a plus paladins can freely multiclass into it but as I've already pointed out the out-of-class-binding feats kind of suck.

First thing you have to do is pick a Patron Vestige, you class features cease to function if you don't bind them every day, but you are never at risk of making a poor pact with your patron. First of all you've got Aligned Strike which makes your weapon attacks match your alignment as much as it is possible to do. So you can get both lawful and good. If you're true neutral you can pick a single alignment (even chaotic). Second is Vestige's Protectoin which is a 5-round swift action to add your charisma bonus to your AC and reflex for one round. Followed by Vestige's Protection Aura which gives it to anyone adjacent to you that you qualify as a friend when you activate it. Vestige's Power lets you get +2 to str and con, +10 to land speed, and +4 to will for one round as a 5-round ability. Vestige's Surge lets you ignore the 5-round requirement of one of your patron vestige's abilities once per day, and finally Apothesis makes you a native outsider and gives you dr 10/magic.

In the fluff there's a quote from the dude who's the literal boogeyman of binders calling them "Just and honorable" and saying that it's a shame that they have to be killed. So they're kind of outliers as far as Binders are concerned. There are sometimes cadres of Knights that all bind the same vestige but those are rare. More often you may have a knight guarding a binder coven or something similar.


Scion of Dantalion
“The light of the Star Emperor guides me. His blood runs in my veins, and I am one of his princes.”

Not strictly evil but probably a massive toolbag none the less. Scions of Datalion believe that they're descended from the lost line of the Star Empire, and that it is their right and duty to bear the scepter of rulership and rebuild their empire. The toolbag part comes in when there's someone else already holding the scepter of rulership, cause they don't like that. It's restricted to anyone of human heritage that can bind Dantalion.

Favored of Dantalion lets you auto-succeed on binding checks with the big ball of faces, it also causes his sign to grow, giving you an extra face for every level in this class you take. Scholarship of Dantalion lets you reroll a single knowledge check once per day. Improved Read Thoughts gives you an extra 5-round ability that lets you skip the first two rounds of concentration on Read Thoughts to get a person's surface thoughts. Swift Awe of Dantalion lets you activate Awe of Dantalion as a swift action once every 5-rounds. Overwhelming thoughts lets you dacze someone who's thoughts you're reading by forcing your thoughts into their head. Dantalion's Glare lets you expose your sign and blind someone once every 5/rounds. The only problem is that you need to have your sign exposed, which means you need a hand free to pull up your shirt, or you need to spend an extra standard action to partially doff your armor (which provokes attacks of opportunity). Improved Thought Travel lets you do his brain teleport thing as a move action and Read Multiple Thoughts lets you read a number of people up to your charisma modifier simultaneously.

Soo, not exactly a very good class. Dantalion's a fairly social vestige and this prestige class doesn't give you much in the way of combat abilities beyond overwhelming thoughts. And Dantalion's glare actively hampers your abilities in combat. In the fluff they're basically all Machiavellian assholes who try to marry into royalty and then kill off the rest of the line of succession.


Tenebrous Apostate
“Rise again, Lord of the Outer Dark. Stand astride the barriers of life and death, of Heaven and Hell, and take up thy mantle as slayer—and king—of gods.”

We've had the Wizard + X and the Fighter + X classes, this is the Cleric + X class and it's a doozy. The requirements are super specific, Nongood, ability to bind Tenebrous, which is something you can't do with the feats. Must worship Tenebrous as a god, and must have access to an outside source of turn/rebuke undead attempts.

What do you get? Well first of all Eternal Bondage, which isn't as kinky as you might think. You can't choose not to bind Tenebrous, he is always stuck to your soul, though you can make a binding check to make a good pact on any single day. Next you get Tenebrous' Rebuke which transforms all your Turn attempts into 1d6 points of damage and rebuke attempts into 1d6 points of negative energy healing to every undead within 30 feet. Visage of the Dead causes you to get gaunt and shadowy, giving you a dodge bonus to AC and mindless undead refuse to attack you unless provoked or order to by their creators. Destroy/Empower Undead lets you spend 2 turn/rebuke attempts as a single standard action to do double the damage/healing, but also limiting it to mindless undead. Umbral Body lets you cast the umbral body mystery, sort of, the wording on the ability says once per day and also describes it as a 5-round. Finally Blast of the Void lets you spend a turn/rebuke attempt to deal 1d8 points of damage per turning level to every living creature in a 30 foot cone once per day.

So yeah, Tenebrous. The only real problem I can find with this class is that they have no way to create or command undead natively outside of their cleric levels.. but since you need 7 levels of binder to bind Tenebrous that will be rather anemic. So even though Tenebrous is as evil a god as they come (Chaos, death, evil and trickery domains) this seems like some kind of bizarro Pelorite class. For a 1 level dip into cleric you are now the absolute best at killing undead you chaotic-neutral thing you. In the fluff they're decidedly more evil and sinister since they're worshiping a god fragment of Orcus.


Witch Slayer
An insidious group, these binders. They are dangerous and unpredictable, and they pose a significant risk to the divine order.”

So of course there's a prestige class devoted exclusively to killing binders, which means this is probably an NPC class at best unless your DM has a hardon for binders and keeps using them as villains constantly. Probably the most surprising thing about the class is that it doesn't require those "gently caress supernatural caster" feats.

For abilities they get Smite Spirit Sharer 1/day/level, which also works on possessed people. Mettle, Locate Possession which is basically Detect Magic but only on possessed people/binders and only in a 60 foot cone. Slippery Mind, and Momentary Disjunction which gives you a 5-round ability to temporary disable all spellcasting, spell-like, and supernatural abilities of a taret for one round if they fail a pretty hefty DC'd will save.

Mettle and Slippery mind are universally useful, as is Momentary Disjunction... somewhat. It's one round out of every 5, and once a caster figures out what's goign on you can bet he's going to be keeping away from you four rounds later. And it's not like it prevents them from disengaging then running the gently caress away in that disjoined round. The smite attempts you get a numerous but are against a ludicrously small subset of enemies. So find an easier way to get Mettle/Slippery and leave this class to the NPCs.

Binding Magic Items
There aren't that many here so I'll include these here as well.

Chime of Suppression: You ring the chime and a vestige you have bound to yourself no longer affects you for one minute. You don't show it's sign or it's influence for that time, but you also don't have access to it's abilities. It's usable 3 times a day.


Implements of Binding: It's a chalice, knife, and three stones that you put around the binding circle at the time of the binding process. You put the stones around the circle, cut yourself with the knife (for one point of damage) and drip it into the chalice. In return you get between a +2 and a +8 bonus on your binding check (depending on the quality of the magic item). It's just a slotless way to get a bonus on binding checks for the low cost of a hit point. Not terrible.

Soul Lens: It's a monocle that increases the DC of your vestige abilities by 1. Presumably it also allows you to show comical surprise at the audacity of young hooligans.

Seal of the Spirit: It's a silk rug with a vestige symbol woven into it, it allows you to forgo the 1 minute drawing session that's required of a vestige... but it doesn't allow you to ignore the special requirements of that vestige. E.G. there's no functional way for it to work for Folacor or Tenebrous since they require the seal to be drawn in a specific medium. Take the damned ignore requirements feat tax already!


Teeth of Dahlver-nar: Another slotless wonderous item, you knock out one of your teeth and replace it with one of the Dahlver-nar teeth and you get an ability similar to one the vestige grants. I say similar because they aren't direct one to one associations. For instance Ipos gives you a +4 enhancement bonus to intelligence. Now I just heard someone's inner twink squeal with glee at the thought of slotless enhancement bonuses, but I'm going to have to rain on your parade. For as long as you've got a tooth in your mouth you automatically show the vestige's sign and are affected by their influence. You could, in theory, replace all of your teeth with all 32 Teeth of Dahlver-nar but you'd probably end up with a -10 attack bonus by the time everything's said and done.


Vestige Phylactery: You can bind an extra vestige into the Phylactery once per day, and then once per day you can take the vestige out and immediately bind to it. If this would put you over your limit one of your vestiges just unbinds with no fuss. It's pretty good if you need to do something like have Buer on hand for emergency healing.

Up Next: Monsters, Organizations, and Locations. Spoilers: There is an organization devoted to killing Binders and they get the majority of the page time

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Chapter Four, Part One: The Three Lands



Apologies for the delay, but stuff was occupying my time. This chapter's a big one, too big for me to cover everything, so I'm going to handle it in two segments.

A Brief History

In ages past, the Old Kings ruled great nations between the western sea and the Weeping Mountains of the East. Two centuries ago the Nyala Empire waged war against the eastern kingdom of Deshur, forcing its populace to retreat eastward, into mountain temples built long before the ages of men. It was there the Deshurite King discovered the forbidden arts of the Gods Below to ensure that his people would survive and take revenge on their enemies. It was here the first Eternal were created. They were called this by the living because they never really died. They could live deep in the deserts without food or water, their flesh still and unaging with no breath of life. They lived strange pantomimes of life, only a few among their dread lords containing the skills and memories of their former lives, ruled by a dread Eternal King.

They ventured west, bringing the Three Lands into a conflict called the Long War, so named because it lasted 150 years. Only the internal quarrels among the Eternal and the need to hold onto existing territory did they not conquer the Five Kingdoms. Even some among the living began to worship the Eternal as new gods, forming cults and secret societies motivated by the promises of power and immortality.

Forty years before the current era did Emperor Kaday of Nyala realize that the Five Kingdoms must be united if they were to drive back the Eternal. He formed a binding alliance with independent and former Nyalan provinces of Sokone and Kirsi by promising them autonomy, earning their soldiers yet angering the Nyalan nobles who lost their traditional holdings. But it worked, for they led a unified army into the east which even the Eternal could not hold out against. Emperor Kaday strode alongside the Sorcerer-King of Lokossa at his left, and the greatest Marabout sages of the Meru on his right. Before him rode the iron lancers or Kirsi, and at their flanks marched the sea-wide legions of Sokone with the best equipment and training their gold could buy. They stormed the walls of Desheret, the capital, and the Emperor died in battle against the Eternal King, who was wounded and taken to recover deep into the Weeping Mountains.

The Long War was finally over, the soldiers returned to their homes. But the Eternal still lingered, in hidden wilderness tomb-houses and supported by loyal cultists. The Spears of the Dawn were formed among the best soldiers of all the nations to hunt down these remnants, promised freedom, gold, and other privileges as long as they performed their duty. Nowadays the Spears have little official support, eventually becoming but a tradition upheld by individual teachers.

The Eternal and the Spears

We get short blurbs further detailing the Eternal and the Spears of the Dawn. Basically Eternal are mortal spirits trapped in their own dead bodies, losing most of their reasoning and mental faculties save for a few powerful individuals. They are hierarchal, being ruled by former nobles and spellcasters among them. Despite the benefits of undeath, all Eternal cannot heal naturally, and must regularly consume living human flesh to avoid further desiccation. Secondly, they're all driven a hatred of all living things which can only be held in check with sufficient willpower. Thirdly, and most horribly, they can never know the peace of true death. Even if hacked apart and stomped into a bloody paste, their minds will still continue on in a red haze of never-ending confusion and agony. Their spirits will always remain in this world, never moving on.

The Spears of the Dawn were formed by Emperor Kaday and an alliance of the Five Kingdom's best soldiers. In exchange for venturing out and destroying the Eternal remnants in the time of tenuous peace, they'd be promised riches and land once their mission was finally done. In the meantime, lesser nobles would show deference and respect to Spears and do their work without interference. The Emperor died before he could fulfill his promise, and the governments never bothered to give them land, but the Spears remained true to their cause. Cleaning out Eternal tombhouses was dangerous, but they could earn a comfortable living selling their plunder, and it was preferable than stealing from peasants or fighting one's fellow man. Over time they expanded their efforts beyond the Eternal, defending the common folk from all manner of beasts, bandits, and other dangers of recent years.

Spears of the Dawn are exempt from the lesser laws of the Five Kingdoms. They can get away with more troublemaking and minor violence than any commoner, and are not expected to conform to the traditions of their gender or social class. Said tolerance has its limits, as theft, murder, treason, and major crimes will be punished, but a Spear who can demonstrate and justify his or her actions can stay the wrath of a noble.


Life in the Three Lands



Although each kingdom has its own culture, traditions, and history, there are some general trends which can be applied broadly. The setting is divided into five kingdoms discussed in the first chapter, along with three general geographic regions known as the Three Lands: the Green Land, the Yellow Land, and the Black Land.

All of the Lands are hot in climate. The Green Land is in the west, comprising the meadows and forests of Nyala, the marshes and fields of Western Sokone, and the rainforest of Lokossa. The Yellow Land is much drier, comprised of the golden grass savannas of the Meru and the hills and badlands of Kirsi. The Black Land of the east is nearly impossible for humans to live in, so named for its ebony sands. Only among the banks of the Iteru River can living settlements survive. Eventually the sands give way to dark, craggy hill and the Weeping Mountains.

Basically, life in the Three Lands is feudal to one degree or another. Society is hierarchal, where those in power (be they nobles, ngangas, merchant families, or tribal elders) are in charge of overseeing the affairs of the majority, protecting them in exchange for service. Society is structured in that every person is expected to perform their role for the betterment of the community, and that trying to defy or escape this fate is selfish and puts everyone else in jeopardy. Even the Spears, who are regarded as remarkable people, are burdened with the tasks of defending the rest from the Eternal and other horrors. And while minor nobles might live lives of privilege, they must at least tend to their duties if they expect to hold onto their land and titles from rival groups and heads of state which in turn rule over them. In short, everyone must do their part.

The Three Lands place a high importance on politeness, even between different social classes. A Lokossan noble might "ask" the serfs when the harvesting of rice will be complete rather than ordering them into the fields, while the courts of Nyala are an elaborate web of "gifts" and "favors" where people ask and demand things in roundabout ways which might be imperceptible to outsiders. People who can't get along with their neighbors might eventually find themselves exempt from the laws and social contract of their town and village, and be forced to leave or fend for themselves. Overt rudeness is tolerated between close friends and family, because only kinsmen would speak so coarsely about each other. Rudeness between strangers and enemies, however, puts people at alarm, for it's usually a precursor to violence and when words can no longer settle disputes.

The author says that the DM should cut the plays some slack in the portrayal of their characters. Don't punish them for using modern protocals, and take their in-character words in the spirit that they're given rather than how they're conveyed. Fostering immersion in the setting is better accomplished by focusing on the NPCs and how to present them in the proper light. This is good advice!


In regards to family and marriage, relationships are expressed in terms of nations, clans, and families. Nations began as tribes which conquered or assimilated with their neighbors, until they reached a large-enough population and area that society transforms into the concept of the nation-state. There are some ethnic minorities and cultural holdovers which first and foremost refer to their tribe or clan, but most people identify primarily as being part of one of the Five Kingdoms.

Clans are more important at the local level, generally being shared descent from a famous figure, spirit, or important historical event. Clanmates are expected to provide food and shelter to each within reason, knowing that they would do the same for them. As a survival mechanism it encourages the richer members and farmers with good harvests to help their neighbors survive in hard times.

Gender and Sexual Orientation

Society is overall patriarchal. Men inhabit most positions of power, from governance to military to other important and prestigious decisions, and the eldest males of the families are in charge of being the "priest" for appeasing local and ancestral spirits (or the Sun in the case of the Sun Faith). Marriage is determined by a man paying a bride price to the woman's family, and polygamy is common among society's elite of both the Sun Faith and Spirit Way religions. Divorce is permitted, and although it's officially initiated by the man, poor treatment and abuse of a wife can be grounds for it. The offending husband in this case is often jeered by villagers for wasting his wealth and being a jerk. Adultery is a fair reason for dissolving marriages, with custody of the children usually going to the wronged party.

In regards to sexual orientation, it is regarded as something people do and not a part of a person's identity. Even people who exclusively prefer partners of the same sex are expected to marry the other gender and raise a family, with discreet same-sex relations being overlooked as long as they can provide for their spouse and children. Homosexual and bisexual people are not seen as monstrous or evil, rather they're viewed as excessively lustful. Same-sex activity is not illegal, but on the other hand they are not recognized as valid marriages.


Despite having sexist and homophobic elements, there is a degree of social change going on in the Five Kingdoms. The Long War drained many males into military service, forcing woman members of the community to step in to fill now-empty occupations. Spears might be exempt from societal expectations and regarded as strange people, but heroic and virtuous men and women can serve as an example to others and cause people to reconsider their old traditions and preconceptions. Even Lokossa has some concessions in regards to sexual orientation and gender; men and women who perform roles traditionally regarded for the other gender can be socially and legally considered that gender from then on out.

This isn't unique in Crawford's work. He often has sexist and homophobic elements in his campaign books, enough to provide conflict for groups who want it but not so restrictive that being anything other than a straight male is a constant obstacle. Instead of having things be hopelessly regressive, PCs can help change things for the better, and being Spears can exempt them from the traditional restrictions of society.

I think that this is an overall good way of doing it, although I still think that such things should be wholly decided by the group. Players who deal regularly enough with sexism and homophobia in their real lives might not want it intruding into their escapist fantasy.

Crime and Punishment

We get some blurbs on crime and punishment. Basically, most lands once and currently governed by the Nyala Empire have their legal codes descended from the old laws, with some degree of change between local ordinances. Petty crimes such as theft, insulting a noble, and drunk and disorderly are punished with small fines and a few blows of the rod, with greater crimes such as destruction of property might result in financial reparation or private beatings (public beatings are deemed harsher due to the humiliating aspect). Capital punishment is reserved for the most heinous of crimes, such as murder, rape, and the destruction of holy places (an intentional and violent insult to the community's spirits).

Slavery is considered barbaric and illegal everywhere except Lokossa, where it's reserved for criminals and social malcontents. It used to be a widespread practice in the days of the Old Kings, but the Long War forced all hands to fight for survival until it led to a near-total diminishment of the practice. The depletion of people at the end of the Long War has put an increased demand on labor, and disreputable people powerful enough to operate beyond the reach of the law have dragooned people into workshops, timber camps, and vast farms. Slavers are technically kidnappers and criminals, and the slaves are chosen among people who have few people to care for their fate (the exiled, criminals, foreigners, etc). However, they are hated by the authorities even if they can't do much to stop them, and heroes and Spears who put a violent stop to their operations are almost never legally prosecuted for this.

Food and Drink



*note the Mancala board game in the lower right.

The most popular food and drink in the Three Lands are wheat, maize, rice, water, and alcohol. The three grains are prevalent in the lands of Kiris, Sokone, and Nyala, with wheat and corn most prevalent in the north. Taxes are usually paid in grain. The Meru's entire diet revolves around their herd of cattle: meat, milk, blood, and entrails are usually eaten raw in honor of their ancestors who were too busy fleeing the Eternal to set up cookfires. Cooked food is tolerated, to an extent, more for women than men as it's seen as "unmanly." Lokossa's staple food is the cassava, the woody root of a shrub grown in clearings which must be carefully prepared, for eating it raw can cause permanent nerve damage due to being laced with cyanide in its natural state.

Water, wine, and fruit drinks are the most popular drinks of choice. Palm wine is favored in the Green Land, while beer is more popular among the well-to-do. Fruit drinks are distilled from bananas, mangoes, melons, plantains, coconuts, dates, and whatever else can be found (grapes are unknown). The Meru have no known alcoholic beverages.


Thoughts so far: I like the overall setting, and how Crawford gives just enough for DMs and players to get a good view without bogging them down in minutiae and lore. We get a good grasp of how daily life is conducted on the local level, which is a plus. The second part of this chapter's review will discuss Religion in the Three Lands, along with individual write-ups of each of the Five Kingdoms.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 23:14 on Jun 14, 2014

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Alien Rope Burn posted:

So! As we know by now, Tarnow takes normal metals and converts them into magical super-metals. It talks about them being lighter than normal M.D.C. material, but for some reason the armors listed here are two to four times as heavy as regular Rifts armor.

Yes, but they have an excellent marketing department.

Eldad Assarach
May 1, 2014


Well, as most Goons will have found out by now, Casey Kasem died today. Given that he was most famous to most of our generation as the voice of Shaggy, I thought it'd be fitting if I did a rundown of a little-known game called...



Part 1: Introduction & Character Creation

This was a little slice of genre emulation from our good friends at Pandahead Productions, the people who gave us XCrawl! This was written in 2004 by Allyson Brooks, and was aimed at getting younger people into tabletop roleplaying games, which is certainly something that hasn't been tried very often (I'm struggling to think of any that tried it before Pandahead - this book is 10 years old). This is reflected in a disclaimer just beneath the acknowledgments.

Meddling Kids posted:

PLEASE, do not go and solve mysteries on your own! This is a game, and if you play it as a game, then you will have fun. Real mysteries are solved by the police. If you want to be a police officer when you're older, that's great! But until then, just practice safe at home, okay?

Taking the law into your own hands is like if you french-fry when you need to pizza - you're gonna have a bad time!

Going into the introduction itself, it starts off not with the usual rundown of what a roleplaying game is, but a brief history of animation. And I do mean "brief" - a paragraph on Charles-Emile Reynaud, one line chiding him for giving up on his dream, then another paragraph on how Saturday morning cartoons were a thing in the 60's, and how Fred Silverman came up with the idea came up with Scooby-Doo.

Okay, now we get onto what a RPG is; according to Brooks, it's pretty much the "Let's Pretend" games we all played as kids, only with settings and statistics and stuff like that. Oh yeah, and there are roleplaying computer games, but those are way more restrictive creatively and not nearly as social as pen & paper rpgs. Honestly, this is probably the most honest "What Is A RPG?" section I've ever read. :golfclap:

It also mentions LARPing; no actual hitting, you need permission to do it on somebody's property and it's kind of like being in the school play, only without a script - just make it up as you go along, and have fun doing it!


The art in Meddling Kids lurches between "pretty good" to "clip art".

As for Meddling Kids itself, it doesn't need fancy costumes or the most expensive ccg deck; just paper, pencils, dice, friends and imagination. And the book. It's sort of like the rpgs your parents or older sibllings might've played, but it's not about rescuing princesses or slaying dragons, just having adventures in a world pretty much like this one. There are rules, but don't worry - they're not hard to figure out. Besides, without rules the game would be booooriiiing, because limitations make us work together, just like in real life. Of course, you can just change a few rules, if you don't like them.

You'll also need a GM. A GM must be fair, and not bossy or strict; their job is to make sure everybody's having fun and that the players are following the framework that's been set before them. The GM also plays the Wild Card, who will be explained in the GM Section. It's suggested that the GM be somebody older and/or the most experienced with this game.

Now, onto character creation!


This kid has put more effort into his character concept than half the people I've gamed with.

As you'd expect, it's pretty straightforward in a gentle sort of way - think of your character's background first; hobbies, personality, whether or not they're the new kid, etc. Nothing huge, just a paragraph (your character is going to grow over the course of the campaign anyway). Also, it's okay to just play a character who's basically a carbon copy of you, if that's what you're comfortable with. Of course, playing as somebody completely different can be fun too!

There's also a big box on playing a character of the opposite gender. If you want to, go ahead. If other people don't like that, then who cares? If they're going to be huffy about it, they're not the sort of people you want to play with anyway. It's your character, not theirs. Of course, it's okay to want to play somebody who's the same gender as you. After all, it's just a game.

Now we come to Archetypes! It's all pretty self-explanatory:

The Jock: As I said, self-explanatory.
The Fluff: Basically, Daphne.
The Brain: Velma, I guess.
The Goof: Shaggy.
The Temper: The lone wolf who doesn't play by your rules, bub!
The Sidekick: You can always count on them.
The Innocent: You see the good in everyone.


These guys and gals are sample PCs, showcasing all 7 Archetypes, that can be found at the back of the book. The Jock is "Clutch" Sellers, and we go through his chargen throughout this section of the book - I only skipped it because I want go into chargen more deeply later on.

These Archetypes all come with a different skill that you get for free, but we'll get to that in a later post. You can only be one Archetype, even if your concept fits into two. Of course, by that logic Fred and Shaggy wouldn't be allowed (technically, Fred's a Jock and a Brain, whilst Shaggy's a Goof and a Sidekick) but it's just too game-breaking to let anybody be more than one Archetype. Party balance is ideal (a party is referred to as a "Clique" in this game), but if two people want to be the same Archetype, then you should ask the GM's permission first. Just because there are two Archetypes the same doesn't mean there should be two completely identical characters (think of Rocky and Apollo Creed - they're both Jocks, but they're different people).

Stats are unambiguous, but that's nothing new here; Strength (no explanation necessary), Moves (Dex and Speed, not how well you can boogie), Smarts (Wis and Int), Health (HP).You have 24 points to use up, and yes you could just put 6 into everything, but that'd be boring.

Abilities are covered later on in the book, but for now all you need to know is you have 26 points to spend on all them, not counting the one your Archetype gets for free. If you have any left over then that's too bad, because you can't hoard those points for later - you either use them now, or they're gone forever.

Next time: The GM's Guide!

Eldad Assarach fucked around with this message at 00:08 on Jun 18, 2014

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008


Just want to thank Libertad! for Spears of the Dawn- it looks really nice, and I'll get a copy as soon as I can! :)

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Libertad! posted:

In regards to sexual orientation, it is regarded as something people do and not a part of a person's identity. Even people who exclusively prefer partners of the same sex are expected to marry the other gender and raise a family, with discreet same-sex relations being overlooked as long as they can provide for their spouse and children. Homosexual and bisexual people are not seen as monstrous or evil, rather they're viewed as excessively lustful. Same-sex activity is not illegal, but on the other hand they are not recognized as valid marriages.
From what I've read, this is a fairly accurate representation of how sexual orientation was dealt with at the time of the great African empires.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


Spears of the Dawn is pretty drat cool overall - it's like what you get when you take the good bits of old school design, mix in a little common sense and throw out all the poo poo that didn't actually work.

Also, the setting is good too.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Cardiovorax posted:

From what I've read, this is a fairly accurate representation of how sexual orientation was dealt with at the time of the great African empires.

It was actually not that uncommon an attitude, that and 'being on top is actually not gay' variations. Identity politics has more or less spread and supplanted it. Having it in the game like that is the way a lot of games I've been in have handled it, often with some regional variation--I'm glad the book at least takes the time to mention the idea.

Spears seems like a neat book, the art is pretty nice and the system is relatively clean, plus that whole 'doing something that isn't Europe' thing.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



We just finished reading and recording our second June episode of System Mastery, which should be live tomorrow. Two weeks is not enough time to try and process Nobilis. I think we'll probably tackle a nice slim volume of easy 90s fly-by-nite RPG stuff next, if at all possible.

Eldad Assarach
May 1, 2014


Well, I guess I'm committed!



Part 2: The Game Master's Guide

Yes, the GM's Guide is smack-dab in the middle of the book, before we get to Skills Abilities or even what the system mechanics are! Meddling Kids is a fun game, but its layout is all over the place for a "beginner-friendly" RPG.

As for the GM Guide itself, it starts off by asking if you're the kind of person who is a natural leader and can get everyone organised, or who just comes out with cool ideas a lot. If yes, you're probably the right one to be the GM.

Meddling Kids posted:

The Game Master creates a living story, and weaves that tale around the player characters. The Game Master holds the power to make decisions about the fate of the characters, almost making him or her King Of The Universe!

Yeah, right. Let's get back down to Earth, okay?

As you'd expect with a game that bills itself as an introductory game, the GM advice is on the level... in a mellow kind of way; prepare beforehand (we'll come back to that in a bit), be familiar with the rules (the book suggests you skip ahead to the next chapter and read the mechanics until you get the overall gist of them) but don't stress over them, and don't be afraid to wing it if you're not sure. And if it looks like a player might not overcome something very difficult... just fudge things to make them easier for your players, but don't do it too often.

Meddling Kids posted:

As GM, you are King of Your Domain. But, as King, if you mistreat your subjects, no one will want to play in your domain, and you’ll be King of the Big, Fat Nothing. As leader, a GM is expected to be patient, responsive, flexible, and respectful towards the players and their respective characters. After all, games are supposed to be fun! No power trips allowed!

Give your players some agency; guide, don't shove. Don't interrupt somebody roleplaying, unless the monster is nearby and wants to attack. Don't let your best friend take all the glory and solve the mystery on their own - after all, there's no "i" in "team". Above all, make sure everybody's having fun. Give the Clique realistic goals they can achieve in-game, and just make things so nice that your players will come back for more!


I love the art in this book, but I'm rationing myself on it so I don't just include everything and make this post twice as long.

Remember when I mentioned doing prep before a game? Well, the best way to begin is ask The Big Six Questions:
Who is involved with the story? Teachers, parents, celebrities?
What is happening? Is something being stolen or haunted? Both?
When is this taking place? Summer camp, school trip?
Where is the story set? Creepy old abandoned house, creepy old abandoned amusement park?
Why is this happening? Is the "monster" scaring people away, or does it want to steal something
How are the Clique involved? Is somebody's relative in trouble, or do they just want to avoid getting detention?

Don't be afraid to crib from books or TV shows - maybe a PC was given a ring by an elderly relative, and somebody else wants the ring for the cryptic message written on the inside of it. Can't think of any? Ask your parents or a teacher for recommendations! Either that, or just crib from real life!

If the story takes place in a real location, then do some research on its local history and customs to add some colour. But don't add too much colour, because the players will add some of their own to proceedings. If they're getting off-track, just roll with it - it might make the story even better!

The final piece of advice the book gives you is pretty simple; keep a notebook with you. If you're the GM, odds are you'll get a lot of different ideas floating through your head, so it's best to jot them all down so you don't forget. Out of all the advice given, this is probably the most important.

That's enough of basic-yet-helpful GM advice, let's move onto the Wild Cards!


I love how even the pirate monkey isn't sure what's going on here.

What are Wild Cards? They're the shark who has a thing for bratty percussionists, the 18th-century ghost who talks like Bert Lahr, the green dog who turns invisible when he's scared (except for that stupid bobble hat he always wears for some reason). More importantly, they're a way for the GM to play the game as well. The Wild Card may be a weirdo, but they always point the Clique in the right direction. Don't ever use a Wild Card to give the Clique a red herring, because that's just cheap and everyone will (rightly) hate you for it.

They get 24 points for Stats and 26 for Abilities, same as the PCs, but a Wild Card has their own special list of Abilities (they can get the same Abilities as a PC, but it'll cost an extre point per Ability). Another unique thing they get is a Quirk; it doesn't provide any in-game advantage, it's more to give an extra dimension to the Wild Card, and maybe make the players smile every so often.

Let's take a look at a sample Wild Card given in the book - Cap'n Bingo!


Yes, ladies - he's single.

Cap'n Bingo posted:

Strength 9
Moves 5
Smarts 5
Health 5

Quirk He cannot resist bananas in any form (banana bread, banana splits, banana taffy, music by Bananarama, etc.)

Abilities
Ken
Wild Whiz-(The Sea)
Melee-(Sword fighting)
Strong
Hard-Headed

Background Concept
Former lab chimp named Bingo who is now imbued with the spirit of a dead pirate captain (more specifically, a privateer for the budding US Navy of the mid-1700’s). Can’t remember his name as a pirate, so the kids gave him his new name. Often seems cranky towards the kids, but likes them very much—especially Andrea, who rescued him from the lab, and Clutch, who tries to protect her. Loves bananas, hates stuffy British seamen, and wants to own a parrot one day.

I will let you guy know what all those Abilities mean soon, I just want to highlight the frustrating way Pandahead messed up - we're about a third into the book, and we still don't know the rules yet! :sigh:

Anyway, as for running a game, the book makes a number of suggestions; at home on a rainy day, at a sleepover, in... a car on a long journey? :psyduck:

Meddling Kids posted:

Special Pandahead Note to All: don’t play at school during class time — give your teachers some respect, and don’t get you and your friends in trouble!

You could even ask your Friendly Local Gaming Shop for help - they'll be more than happy to help out!

As for the game itself, try and make sure everyone's doing something. Ask the more extroverted players to help bring the shy players out of their shell, let the players develop their own roleplaying styles, etc. There's a cute example where one player gets really into the concept of non-existent ice cream, which is pretty rad.

Meddling Kids posted:

Being a GM takes a bit of effort, but once you get the hang of it, your game play and story will flow easily. Just be flexible and have
fun. And, after a while, don’t be afraid to let others take a stab at being a GM—they may even come to you for advice!

:kiddo:

Next time: The rules!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

We just finished reading and recording our second June episode of System Mastery, which should be live tomorrow. Two weeks is not enough time to try and process Nobilis. I think we'll probably tackle a nice slim volume of easy 90s fly-by-nite RPG stuff next, if at all possible.

I keep meaning to suggest Dream Park so I'm just going to suggest Dream Park.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Dream Park, added to the list.

In the meantime, here's Episode 21: Nobilis. One or a few of you guys have read and reviewed this thing, right? Man it's a slog to get to the good parts. So many flowers.

JohnnyCanuck
May 28, 2004

Strong And/Or Free


Hey ARB and ONF - you've been ripped off!

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?717689-Jake-Reads-Rifts

(you totally haven't been ripped off)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Zereth posted:

So it's a Rifts product then. :rimshot:

Well, to be fair, there are books like Rifts World Book Three: England and Rifts Sourcebook Two: The Mechanoids that have both boring ideas and bad implementation.

JohnnyCanuck posted:

Hey ARB and ONF - you've been ripped off!

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?717689-Jake-Reads-Rifts

(you totally haven't been ripped off)


Thanks!

Reviewing Vampire Kingdoms is its own special kind of punishment, even if he was ripping me off there is no glory in this work. There is simply the moment where you realize that you've added words to the internet about Mr. Drak and then the deep, deep melancholy that follows.

Also geez get some forums chemo already, yuck.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

In the meantime, here's Episode 21: Nobilis. One or a few of you guys have read and reviewed this thing, right? Man it's a slog to get to the good parts. So many flowers.

Tough Love:

Are you folks ever going to get on a decent podcast distribution like iTunes or Stitcher? There's the problem when I'm listening in the car if I hit a dead zone I have to reload the thing all over again on a webpage interface. Which really isn't pretty. I could die because I like listening to your podcast. :(

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