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MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Wraith: the Great War Chapter One: War and Artermath
Part 1: History



The intro fiction this time around focuses on a group of Wraiths forced to do Manual Labor by the Grim legion, and keeping tracks of insults for later revenge. Nothing special.

Four Years in the Skinlands

Futurist Manifesto, 1909 posted:

We intend to sing the love of danger. We will glorify war.
In August 1914, a hundred years ago now, an rear end in a top hat killed another rear end in a top hat in Sarajevo, and a total failure of diplomacy ended with Austria declaring war on Serbia, starting the “Domino Effect” that gave us World War 1. The book gives a pretty good overview of the war, divided into each year, covering most of the major moments (The Somme, Ypres, Verdun, Gallipolli, the Armenian genocide, etc.) Sidebars go into details on different aspects of the war, such as life in the Trenches, the beginning of Aviation, women during the war, and so on. It’s a bit overly focused on the western front, but considering this is an rpg book, not a history book, it’s quite sufficient. In the end, after 10 million dead and 20 million injured, the war peters out and armistice is signed on November 11, 1918 at 11:00. The Versailles Treaty that follows redraws the map of Europe and the Middle East, and sets the stage for the other World War to follow a generation later. The Spanish Flu also hits in 1918, killing even more people than the War itself.

A decade among the dead
Seeds of the Stygian insurrection are sown almost a century earlier. In the 1820s, it is discovered that the Fetters of all the Deathlords and Charon have been destroyed. No one responsible is found, although various enemies of the State are blamed. Losing all your fetters is a very bad thing in Wraith: it makes it really hard to stay in the Shadowlands for long (later on the story will have Deathlords running around Shadowlands Europe without any problems, so this plotpoint seems useless in retrospect ) Following the Unfettering, Charon spends more and more time alone in his Onyx Tower, remaining out of the public eyes for years at a time. When WW1 starts, he hasn’t been seen for 9 years. This leads to a general emboldening of the Legion, many of which start stretching the limits of the Dictum Mortuum, the law that forbids interaction with the Skinlands. The most obvious is the formation of the Bloody Legion, a group set up by the Grim Legion to fight Necromancers. Take that, Giovanni!


Beautiful Stygia, a nice vacation spot

As more and more of the war dead pile up, a proclamation of dubious origin comes from the Onyx Tower, supposedly from Charon himself, calling for the construction of new towers to house the enw dead on the hills just outside the city walls. In Russia, a group of Bleak Legionnaires reap the ghosts of Japanese soldiers who died at Port Arthru in 1905 and keep them hidden, instead of handing them over to the Dark Kigndom of jade as per their agreements. Eventually, yu Huang learns of it and attacks the Russian wraiths, who manage to send their prisoners to Stygia by ghost train. Not knowing what to do, they set them up to building the towers. Angry Jade diplomats want their ghosts back, while Stygia asks for Russian wraiths reaped by the Jade Empire at Port Arthur in exchange. The talks then end.

A lot of Indian and African wraiths find themselves in Europe instead of their respective Deadlands, and tension between these poor exiles and the Stygian wraith grow daily. Then the Fourth Great Maelstrom hits during 1916. The original onslaught of Spectre take over Necropolis Florence, and Chicago becomes a chaotic battleground. Berlin and Paris manages to resist. Several months into the Storm, group of European and Indian wraiths arrive at Constantinople, apparently having had to walk through the Storm after having been forcefully expelled out of the Bush of Ghosts. Maybe one in ten managed to make it. Learning of the terror of the Storm, many of the Exiles planning on journeying to their homelands decide to indefinitely postpone their travel plans.


The Office of Maelstrom Preparedness, still the best at Ghost Science

Seeing the Hierarchy on the brink of collapse, Charon nowhere to be seen and afraid another Deathlord might attempt a coup before him, the Smiling Lord, leader of the Grim Legion, the Legion consisting of the dead of violence, hits all the major European Necropolis at once. Most leaders of the other Legions are captured, with those willing to cooperate left as figureheads. Thanks to the efforts of the Bloody legion, and his policy of letting soldiers avenge themselves on their incompetent officers, the Smiling Lord is initially pretty popular. The other legions are not particularly keen on letting the Smiling Lord become the “first among equals”, and so resist. The Iron legion 9dead of Old Age) are the hardest hit, with the Smiling Lord destroying their intelligence network in particular. The Laughing Lady (dead of madness) is forced to abdicate, but later escapes and become a figurehead of the Loyalists. The Emerald Legion (dead of accidents) side with the Grim Legion out of self-interest. The Legion of Fate (dead of destiny) and the Silent Legion (dead of despair) prefer to fight the Spectres, ignoring most of the conflict. The Legion of paupers (dead of mystery) manages to profit from the situation by doing mostly nothing… somehow. :shrug Finally, the Skeletal Legion (dead of pestilence) are the ones who resist the most strongly and effectively, contrary to the Smiling Lord’s expectations. Things go well initially for the insurrection: the only Necropolis they cannot take is Berlin, and the Berlin wraiths can,t really do much anyway because they’re too busy fighting the Spectres.

What no expected was the Spanish Flu. Early dead of the disease come out babbling prophecies, and are quickly taken by the Skeletal Legion and protected. There, the Skeletal Lord learns of the extent of the epidemic and starts planning accordingly. Part of the Smiling Lord’s plan to stay Imperator is to appear as the Strong Man needed to keep things going. This illusion is shattered when a group of Renegades manage to take over the Agora in Stygia and hold it against the Grim Legion for almost a full day. They don’t accomplish much, but the “Agora Dozen” shatter the image of the strong New Stygia and become folk heroes among the Loyalists.

As a consequence of the taking of the Agora, the Emerald Lord decides to switch sides, never being particularly taken with loyalty. The Loyalists grudgingly accept him, as they need his help against the Insurrection. Another consequence is that a Japanese wraith named Hirobumi Ito decides that now is the moment and free the Japanese wraiths held prisoner in “the Paper Cage”. The Skeletal Lord, having gathered his forces at Necropolis Madrid, attacks Lisbon and manages tot ake to the city for the Loyalists. At the key moment of the battle, his brandishing of Charon’s blade, Siklos, manages to convince even a large group of Grim Legionnaire to abandon their Deathlord and join the Loyalists. As a counter to that, and as part of a PR offensive, the Smiling Lrod declares he will not fight “petty rebels”, but the real enemy: Oblivion. He will liberate Florence. He fails: only a fifth of his army survives the brutal battle and makes it back to Stygia. The Skeletal Lord cannot capitalize on his enemy’s failure though, as it seems as if his alliance might come apart: one of the reasons he managed to take Lisbon was promising African wraiths the Lisbon Harbingers (users of the Arcanoi Argos, which is basically travel magic) would then ferry them to Africa. The Harbingers aren’t very keen on it, and tension quickly grows between European and African wraiths. Eventually, a group of harbingers agree to take one boat to the Bush of Ghost, carrying a maximum of 50 wraiths. There’s a lot of infighting to select the lucky ones, and when the boat is lost at sea many start to believe this was all a plan of the Skeletal Lord to break their community apart. The Skeletal Lord merely has the biggest migraine ever. Fed up with both of the Insurrectionists and Loyalists bullshit, Renegades are ever more popular across Europe, and Vienna declares itself an independent sovereign kingdom, and neither the Smiling Lord nor the Skeletal Lord can do anything about it… yet.

Wow, that was a lot of . Next time, we finish Chapter 1 with a look at all the various factions in this giant mess.

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inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

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

Buglord

Galaga Galaxian posted:

Rapidfire is a relatively simple, fast, and straightforward rules system. There are almost no reference tables, combat doesn't use a tactical map, and the math is kept very basic. All actions are resolved with a simple mechanic of 1d6 + Skill + Stat + Difficulty modifier.

Characters in Warbirds have only 3 major attributes and a few substats. The 3 primary stats are Body, Mind, and Spirit. Starting out these stats range from -2 to +2, though the actual extremes are +/-3 (representing peak human potential or a person with a nearly completely debilitating affliction). Body and Mind are fairly straight forward, though Spirit represents willpower and/or religious faith, and is also used in social situations to represent social acuity/constructiveness.

I guess they used up all their imagination on the setting! I'm honestly kind of surprised this wasn't a Savage Worlds game or something like that.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!


Yes it is simple, but that is fine by me I like simple, and I especially appreciate that simplicity for the air combat. Its meant to be a fast-paced cinematic system afterall. No reason to get fancy or complex.

A character's air combat stats are largely independent of their ground stats and skills , so you can easily use a different game system for the ground stuff if you wanted.

A PBtA game in this style would be neat though.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

MonsieurChoc posted:

Wraith: the Great War Chapter One: War and Artermath
Part 1: History
a Japanese wraith named Hirobumi Ito

Ito Hirobumi was the first and three more times Prime Minister of Japan. He was also the first Resident-General of Korea which brought about his assassination in Harbin, China by a Korean freedom fighter, or terrorist if you're a Japanese right-winger. Harbin was a very Russian city and part of the Russian sphere within China until the Japanese forced them out.

I didn't remember him being in that book but that's cool.

kaynorr
Dec 31, 2003



Galaga Galaxian posted:

Yes it is simple, but that is fine by me I like simple, and I especially appreciate that simplicity for the air combat. Its meant to be a fast-paced cinematic system afterall. No reason to get fancy or complex.

This feels like they've gone too far in the other direction - so generic as to be pointless. There are potentially any number of factors unique to air combat (and not just air combat, but death-defying barnstorming dogfighting) that would make for wonderful improvements to an otherwise unremarkable system. That would help to compensate for that fact that it's bad enough keeping track of participants on a flat bit of earth, now you're moving around in 3D space and that kind of thing is extremely hard to describe narratively.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's a shame there wasn't the same effort put forth mechanically as there clearly was with the setting. If that's not the case, then by god man show us more!

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

Ito Hirobumi was the first and three more times Prime Minister of Japan. He was also the first Resident-General of Korea which brought about his assassination in Harbin, China by a Korean freedom fighter, or terrorist if you're a Japanese right-winger. Harbin was a very Russian city and part of the Russian sphere within China until the Japanese forced them out.

I didn't remember him being in that book but that's cool.

Wraith has a lot of historical character like that. For instance, I forgot to mention that Portuguese dictator Antonio Machado Santos was apparently influential in the Lisbon Necropolis falling to the forces of the Smiling Lord. It's mentioned in only one sentence and then never brought up again.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!


The air rules are a bit more complex , such as defenders getting several choices for action when someone gets a bead on them, but they're still based on the ground rules above. I'll be writing them up shortly. Its not perfect, but I think it does a decent enough job. I've never really found a game based on around fight combat (air or space) that really manages to be "perfect" (IMO). Its either too complex or just boils down to a dice off. Warbirds basically falls into the latter, but its the best one of those types that I've seen, and it works well enough for the Top Gun style they're after, if not that great from a realism standpoint.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Eh, it's clearly a storygame: you can't actually die unless you explicitly accept the risk, and you have the option of taking crit-fails in return for additional bennies, as well as extra bonuses for describing your (otherwise) death-defying stunts. Crimson Skies 2.0 is obviously not the intention.

At the same time, it shouldn't be hard to decouple the setting and attach it to something that offers more in-depth tactics and mechanics.

kaynorr
Dec 31, 2003



Bieeardo posted:

Eh, it's clearly a storygame: you can't actually die unless you explicitly accept the risk, and you have the option of taking crit-fails in return for additional bennies, as well as extra bonuses for describing your (otherwise) death-defying stunts. Crimson Skies 2.0 is obviously not the intention.

At the same time, it shouldn't be hard to decouple the setting and attach it to something that offers more in-depth tactics and mechanics.

You can be a mechanically interesting storygame, and the Lay It On The Line stuff is actually a great example of that. The fiddly bits just become about the emotional narrative of the dogfight versus how many Gs you're pulling and turning radii and whatnot.

Bonuses for describing your stunts is the kind of thing that felt great 10-15 years ago when we were doing it in Feng Shui and Exalted, but my experience of actually playing those games has led me to conclude that it tends to mostly just reward good descriptions that people were going to make anyway, but the game would have unfolded pretty much the exact same way without them.

kaynorr fucked around with this message at 22:46 on Aug 18, 2014

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!




Chapter 4, Part 2 - Rules of the Sky

In air combat, there is only one stat a pilot has, and that is Situational Awareness (SA), and it is the foundation of all skill rolls in a fighter. A pilot's SA is the sum of their Body, Mind and Spirit stats. Pilots also have 4 skills. Piloting is used for dogfighting, pulling aerial acrobatics, and defense. Strafing is used for lining up on slow or immobile targets like Airships, trains, or buildings, while minimizing the risk from doing so. Strafing is also used in place of piloting when dogfights are "nape of the earth". Gunnery is used when shooting machineguns or light cannons while Ordnance is used when firing rockets or heavy cannons or dropping bombs.

Aircraft also have stats, and these are:

Performance representing an overall picture of speed, climb/dive rate, and turning ability.
Armour is a plane's ability to soak punishment, and is equivalent to a character's own Resist score.
Structure is an aircraft's equivalent to the Health track and functions the same way. As boxes are checked off, the pilot suffers a penalty as he has trouble getting his damaged craft to work properly.

In addition to these stats, planes have a variety of traits such as "Improved Turbo-Supercharger", "Incendiary Ammunition", "Dive Breaks", or "Gyroscopic Gunsight". These are covered later in the chapter where you create your warbird.



The Dogfight

Warbirds states there are no initiative rolls in dogfights. This isn't quite true. In a one-on-one dogfight (such a duel), both pilots roll 1d6 + Performance + Piloting Skill + SA and whoever comes out on top has gotten into a position where he can fire on the other. Ties go to the pilot with the higher SA, if both have the same SA, then no one gets a shot. For multi-plane engagements, you can either break it down into a series of 1v1s, or if the situation is 1v2 or 2v3 or whatever at close range, have everyone involved make Dogfighting rolls as above, then work down the line in order of highest roll to lowest (just like initiative). However, if one side outnumbers the other, the largest side get bonuses to their dogfighting rolls.

When you've got a bead on an enemy, you have two choices, you can either hold for a better shot/aim, or you can fire right away. Shooting is just 1d6 + Gunnery/Ordnance + SA + Weapon Accuracy vs the Target's Defense. Holding requires no roll and gives a bonus to shooting if you manage to win the dogfight roll next round. A pilot can gain up a larger bonus by holding for two rounds in a row if they wish. The bonus is also only good for the next attack they make against that target and then goes away (Guild light machineguns can fire twice each round).

The defender of an attack has several choices which set the level of defense the attack must beat, these options are:

Break - This is a standard turn/jink to try to avoid enemy fire and reposition. When a pilot breaks, his defense is Performance+Piloting+SA (no roll). This is called the Break Defense.
Escape - Unlike a break, this is an attempt to avoid fire by making a maneuver that will take the plane out of the fight (if only temporarily), such as making a steep, twisting dive. If a pilot chooses to attempt escape, their defense is equal to the Break Defense plus a Bonus, however the next round the pilot must attempt a Disengage action.
Shoot - During multi-plane dogfights, its possible for someone to be attacking and defending at the same time. If a pilot wishes to shoot or hold in their own turn, their defense is equal to their Break Defense minus a penalty. They also don't get to shoot until shot at, naturally.
Stunt - Pulling a stunt is a gamble and is when the a pilot attempts something drastic and unexpected. When a pilot performs a stunt, their defense is equal to 1d6+Piloting+SA. This can backfire as a poor roll will leave a plane with very low defense, however if the pilot doesn't get hit, then they get a bonus to their next dogfighting roll. A defender cannot stunt against a holding opponent, they actually have to be opening fire, and a pilot can only attempt a stunt if their plane's performance is high enough. Stunts are a great time to work that rule of awesome and be descriptive. In addition to this basic stunt, there is also a list of a few optional advanced stunts that can grant additional effects, but pilots must pay a Reserve Point to use them.


An example of the kind of thing that qualifies as a stunt (and then winning the next dogfighting roll)

When a plane does get hit, it takes damage just like a character, and suffers penalties to the pilot's skills rolls in a similar manner as its Structure track is filled. When the structure track fills up, a plane is Trailing Smoke, it can still fight, but it cannot perform stunts, and its damage is obvious to everyone (possibly drawing in kill-greedy enemies). A plane that has exceeded their Structure track is Crippled. It is too badly damaged to dogfight or strafe, and landing the plane safely will require modestly difficult piloting roll . Crippled planes automatically lose dogfight rolls, cannot stunt and suffer a steep penalty to all piloting skills (this includes the landing attempt). Most pilots tend to just nurse crippled planes back to friendly territory and then bail, rather than risk a crash landing. Finally, a plane that has suffered twice its structure in damage is Going Down. These planes are usually burning and often breaking apart in mid-air. The pilot is in all likelihood dead or busy hitting the silk.

Just like on the ground, characters can Put Their Life on the Line gaining the same bonuses. However if their plane is crippled, they themselves are injured as well. If their plane is Going Down then the pilot is unable to safely bail out and is killed. The book also notes that a plane Going Down over the Murk is a Certain Death scenario and a player character will have to spend all their reserve for chance circumstance to somehow save them.

Rounds to the Ground

As any pilot knows, dogfighting inevitably results in the gradual loss of altitude as the planes burn speed performing dives, turns and other maneuvers. Before any dogfight, the GM announces the number of rounds (typically between 1 and 10) of dogfighting planes have until they reach whatever is below them, whether it is the ground of an island of the Murk itself. When this number reaches 0, all planes must roll make a strafing roll vs a reasonably difficult number. Success means they are fine, while failure means a crash landing at best, or lawn-darting at worst.

At this point the planes must break off and climb a bit and reengage once they gain some altitude back. The longer they do this for, the more rounds they gain. Of course, if some of them wish to keep fighting then the dogfight continues with each player now using strafing for all rolls that would normally require piloting. If they roll an 8 or less, then they've screwed up and crash (And their opponent gets to claim a maneuver kill), this is a Certain Death scenario.

If at the start of a round, a pilot wishes to disengage from their opponent(s) they make a Dogfight roll as normal. If they lose, but have a better performance, they get away, but the enemy still gets to make a parting attack vs their escape defense. Aircraft of equal or lower performance must win the dogfight roll in order to escape, and a lower aircraft potentially only earns a temporary reprieve, as the pursuer can attempt to reengage via dogfight roll after a number of rounds equal to the Lead the escapee had in the disengage roll.

If the (GM determined) weather permits, a disengaged plane may simply run into the nearest cloudbank and escape from the fight completely. If there are no clouds nearby, ALL the player characters may pool together their reserve and spend several reserve points to cause a weather change that will take effect next round.

Finishing up the dogfighting chapter is a few paragraphs on Head to Heads and Ambushes. Head to heads usually only occur when both pilots agree to it and basically result in both planes shooting at eachother at the same time. Ambushes meanwhile are NASTY, a plane that fails to notice an ambush is basically an incredibly easy target and very likely going to die.

Strafing

Of course, shooting down other planes isn't all there is to air combat. Sometimes you gotta help take down an airship, attack an enemy base or take down some other kind of ground target. That is when its time to start making strafing runs.



A strafing run begins similar to a dogfight. You select your target and make a similar roll, using your Strafing skill instead of your Piloting skill against a target number called The Threat. The threat is an abstract number that represents the number of guns your target has as well as how capable those guns are of tracking and hitting you as you make your attack. Similar to multi-plane dogfights, multiple planes strafing the same target in a round get a bonus to their roll as the defensive gunners split their fire. If a pilot fails their strafing run, they still get to shoot the target, but must first suffer a number of attacks equal to the margin of failure. Pilots also get the option to Cut It Close taking a penalty to their strafing roll and defense in exchange for a bonus on their attack roll, however a critical failure here will result in a crash (though such a crash may also damage the target at the GM's discretion).

The attacking plane gets to attack with both guns and ordnance and their target takes damage similarly to planes. However, not only do they usually have more structure and armor, but they actually have sub-components like Engines, gun turrets, hangars, or fuel depots. Destroying these components can damage the greater whole and typically reduces the target's threat rating.

After making their attack, fighters that succeeded in their strafing roll now suffer retaliation fire against the Break Defense (as opposed to shoot defense). Planes that failed their strafing roll and were shot at before making their own attack skip this step.

The next couple paragraphs describe what happens when a pilot decides to start strafing while he still has another fighter trying to kill him, and how ambushes effect strafing targets (its just as disastrously deadly). After that are a few closing paragraphs describing the difference in scale between people with pistols (Lead+2) and planes with heavy machineguns (also Lead+2) and what happens when they mix (*plink*! vs "Chunky Red Salsa") as well as how long it takes to refuel, rearm, and repair a Warbird. Finally the chapter closes with another couple sample combats (one for strafing and one for dogfighting), this also has a little comic.



Next Time, Chapter 5 - The Characters (Character creation and advancement)

[edit] Well, its a good thing I was almost done when I hit Submit instead of Preview! :

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 00:33 on Aug 19, 2014

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Ratpick posted:

I'll probably do the Ghoul tonight after work. Where the Ghost is one of the saddest Skins in Monsterhearts, the Ghoul is definitely the most creepy, at least in my opinion. Also, the Ghoul also contains the one thing (and the only one thing) in Monsterhearts which I consider potentially problematic, but even then it's mostly a case of "a catpiss group could turn this into something sick."

I was reading back through this thread and I thought "man, Monsterhearts is cool but I will never play it."

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

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

Buglord

After some thought, I decided to remove "Racial Holy War" from the archives I made of these threads, as well as add a sort of half-hearted disclaimer. I do think there's room to explain the context of the threads when I do come up with a not-horrible design for the site. (If anyone's interested in doing the design or HTML for this, please let me know.)

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Well, that little Angrymog - Abandoned has shamed me into continuining Nightlife

The existing writeup is here

http://projects.inklesspen.com/fatal-and-friends/angrymog/nightlife/



Section 3 - Edges
...There I found the will to power.
-- Nietzche


Edges are your supernatural powers. Each Kin (supernatural creature) has access to a set of generic ones - claws, the ability to be photographed, Locate Human, Weather Control and so on, and then some which are specific to their Kin type.

As we saw perviously, Vampyres get access to Animal Control, Batform, Infection, Mesmerize, Mistform, Ratform and Wolfform, with starting Vampyres having Drain (Blood) and Mesmerize already activated.

Edges are associated with an Attribute, and require a roll to activate. Using Edges against Kin who have a Humanity of less than 100 is much harder than using them against the Herd (normal people).

When an Edge is activated for the first time ever, you pay its Activation cost from your Maximum Humanity - A Vampyre turning into a bat for the first time ever will take a 4 point hit to Maximum humanity, and can increase their score in it by paying 1 Maximum humanity per five points. Turning into a bat once the edge has been activated costs 1 Humanity per use.

These are pretty fast bats - their flying speed is equal to the Edge rating in MPH, and starts with a Base of Will.

The Edges are your basic grab bag of supernatural features.

Alter Form - allows you to look like a human - child or adult. Also allows changes of clothes, and production of accessories. If the roll is failed, there are things subtly wrong with the form that the power user can't see. Doesn't adjust attributes.

Animal Control - must be bought for each type of animal. Edge score is maximum number of animals under cotnrol at any one time.

Animal Empathy - make friends with animals

Armor - Exactly what it says

Aura sight - Tells you stuff about people (race, sex, healthiness, whether they're human or kin and whether they're under mind control)

Batform - Turn into a bat. A fast bat.

Body Control - The ability to reshape the body structure of a single victim according to the whims of the user. The user needs to fail a humanity roll to use this power, and must continue to fail the roll each combat turn to continue to use it. The cost to use is paid each turn.

If the roll is succeeded they Kin can't attempt to use Body Control against that intended victim until the situation changes.

Body control only affects the shape of the victim, not their mass or composition.

This is a pretty gruesome power, and the fiction snippet has a character called Tiger X turning a monstrous mugger into a pile of intestines and other gore.

Cause Madness - Makes someone violently mad and doubles their strength score. Victim gets to try and break free once a day with an Int roll. Why not Will?

Claws - Snickt!

Corporeality - Ghosts can become solid

Crowd Control - A crowd can be commanded to take one immediate simple action, and will keep doing it whilst the user concentrates. e.g. "Kill whomever comes in" wouldn't work unless someone entered the area immediately after the command, but "Kill each other" would because they could start at that moment. (example from the book)

Danger sense - Spider sense

Domination - Mind control. Victims may attempt to break free each time a new command is given.

Drain - The feeding power. Score determines how many SP (Survival Points) you can drain a turn, and the Humanity cost is determined by whether the victim was willing or not and whether you left them alive or not. Kin with a Humanity of less than 50 they need to suceed at a Humanity roll or keep draining until the victim is dead.

Some types of Kin can cause the Herd to become addicted to being Drained; for this to happen they have to drain slowly - maximum of 1 SP per turn, and the target has to survive. If these conditions are met, the Kin has to succeed at an Edge roll, and the victim fail at a WILL roll. An addicted member of the herd counts as a willing victim for that sort of Kin.

Empathy - Sense feelings

Event Manipulation - This one is fun, and available to all Kin types.

The character can re-write recent events or affect future ones. The difficulty is adjusted by how many people will be afffected, and how removed chronologically the event is from the Now. It's easier to adjust events that haven't yet happened, than to rewrite the past.

The power is expensive to buy, difficult and expensive to use and can attract the attention of Elementals and Elder Kin, nevertheless, it has amazing potential for campaign fuckery from both the GM and player side; I can't think of anything except Wish-wrangling in D&D or Mage: the Ascension that could possible cause more table discussion, and it makes me regret not having ever played Night Life.

After the glorious insanity of Event Manipulation, we're back to more mundane powers.

Fear Projection - Boo!

Fiery breath - FWOOOSH!

Flight - Fly at the same speed as the Bat form earlier. Daemons have to manifest their true form to use this.

Healing - Heals wounds and cure diseases. Acts as the Regeneration power as the maximum it can heal is its score per turn.

Induce Heart Attack - Just an attack that ignroes armor. Doesn't work if the victims FIT is higher than the users.

Infection - Make another one of whatever you are. Humanity cost is dependent on whether the target wants to become a Kin. The victim has to fail a FIT roll for it to take.

Invisibility - If the use roll is failed, the invisibility is flawed in some way.

Levitation - Worse flight

Locate human - Ability to place a psychic tracker on a specific human, not to detect humans in general

Lupine form - Turn into a wolf. Turn into a wolf, pretty good stat boosts, and a chance to forget how to do human things whilst in wolf form. Low humanity characters need a roll to change back.

Lychanthropic form - Classic werewolf form. Attribute modifiers not as good as the Lupine form, but you get to keep hands? Penalties on skill use, including combat skills, but you can use your Edge score in this or the Claws Edge without penalties.

Mental Mapping - Know where north is

Mesmerize - Weaker Domination, but victim will have no memory of having been Mesermized

Mist form - Turn to fog. Fly around slowly.

Necropathy - Speak to dead

Noctorunal vision - See in the dark

Photogenics - Allow yourself to show up on film

Possession - Take over someone's body. Damage is applied to them first.

Rat form - Squeek! Good at hiding and not being hit.

Reanimate dead - Make zombies. They last for a number of days equal to half the edge score and can understand commans up to 10 words in length

Send Dream - Enter and shape people's dreams. With a high enough Edge score and a low enough WILL score between the Kin and the victim, this can do real damage to them.

Another good mindfuck power; I'm guessing it's inspired by the Nightmare on Elm street films?

Sense Acuity - I can see for miles and miles and miles

Speed - Run really fast. Doesn't affect the speed of alternate forms.

Telekinesis - Move stuff with your mind

Telepathy - Speak stuff with your mind

Time sense - For Kin who don't believe in watches. Also lets you know exactly how long it is until celestial events like Sunrise etc.

Touch of Ice - Make people cold

Travel - Teleport in line of sight

Weapons immunity - immune to mundane weapons that do less damage than their edge score. An attack that does more damage than the edge score does its full damage.

Weather control - Temperature changes, make it rain or hail, call lightning. Area is a circle with a diameter of the Edge rating in yards. Doesn't say that it has to be outdoors, and has a 25% chance of attracting Elemental attention.

Wolfform Turn into a wolf.

And we're done with the Edge section. There's a couple of fun powers, and I can't think of anything obvious missing. Rules seem relatively unified in that the Edge score controls most aspects of a Power's effect.

Next time will be flaws and combat.

Angrymog fucked around with this message at 11:28 on Aug 19, 2014

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.

Angrymog posted:

the fiction snippet has a character called Tiger X turning a monstrous mugger into a pile of intestines and other gore.
This is so 90s I just farted a Nirvana album. Thank you for sharing.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Cardiovorax posted:

This is so 90s I just farted a Nirvana album. Thank you for sharing.

The NPC names are something special. Here are a few more.

Characters are Vampyres unless I say otherwise - Samantha X, Chilly Billy, Shagman Doctor D (Werewolf), Crucial Joe E, Shady Babe (Inuit), Professor Hell, "Sunny" Daze, C Spot Runn (Werewolf), Golgotha, Lisa "Blood" Bath, WO Babylon (Daemon), Johnny Limbo (unique - a hitman who kills his victims by vanishing them during teleportation), Captain N Tropy (Inuit).

It's not a game that takes itself too seriously.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


You sure you're not looking at a section about mystik hobos? Because those are some hobo names right there.

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.

Angrymog posted:

Shagman Doctor D (Werewolf)
I'm in love and I want to gaymarry whoever came up with that.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I love Nightlife. (I got to boogie...)

Like Immortal, Nightlife was one of the games I heard about in the Dark Age of the mid-90s Internet. All I really knew about it was that some hipsters declared Vampire a ripoff of Nightlife. That's not true at all for a hundred reasons, as you can probably tell by now.

Nightlife isn't a rare and precious jewel like Dune, but it certainly seemed that way before Amazon and Abebooks made it possible to buy stuff out of the bargain bin in a store across the country (or the Atlantic, for that matter). I don't remember when I finally got my hands on a used copy.

One thing I still can't figure out about Nightlife is how the editions work--the one that I have is unique for its truly awful flavour text, which I think was expunged in a later version, and definitely doesn't appear in the PDF package. It's not as bad as Wraeththu's, but it's really cheesy. For Edges, I remember an example of play where Chilly Billy casts an inside-out spell on C. Spot Runn and says "I guess his problem was he had too much guts!" Like, a-kid-telling-a-joke-and-getting-it-wrong bad.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Halloween Jack posted:

For Edges, I remember an example of play where Chilly Billy casts an inside-out spell on C. Spot Runn and says "I guess his problem was he had too much guts!" Like, a-kid-telling-a-joke-and-getting-it-wrong bad.
In my edition, which I think is the first one (before they did their books on wizards and music and so on), Tiger X has a line like that.

Tiger grinned. "Ya know, sometime, it pay be a coward."

"How so?" It took Emilio a few seconds - he was having some trouble with his own intestines.

Tiger spat on the steaming pile of gore, "too much guts for his own good."


I don't know what's up with Tiger X's speech pattern - I hope it's not somethign terribly racist.

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

Angrymog posted:

The NPC names are something special. Here are a few more.

Characters are Vampyres unless I say otherwise - Samantha X, Chilly Billy, Shagman Doctor D (Werewolf), Crucial Joe E, Shady Babe (Inuit), Professor Hell, "Sunny" Daze, C Spot Runn (Werewolf), Golgotha, Lisa "Blood" Bath, WO Babylon (Daemon), Johnny Limbo (unique - a hitman who kills his victims by vanishing them during teleportation), Captain N Tropy (Inuit).

It's not a game that takes itself too seriously.

You forgot IAVOL! I Achieved Victory Over Life

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Mercenaries Part 18: "Presently, they are about half as well known, powerful, and hated as the Splugorth."

Naruni Enterprises

Naruni is *mysterious* and most people just think it's a normal company, but the Coalition has painted them as a nonhuman threat. A lot of the other arms manufacturers are also suspicious of the Naruni because... they're mysterious? It doesn't really give a "why". You can explain it away pretty easily, but it's just kind of assumed, I guess, that Wilk's and other companies we don't know much about hate nonhumans.

The fact is they're interdimensional arms dealers, and known to the Splugorth, who see them as a rival. Their arms are some of the best in any dimension, though they charge accordingly high prices. Since many of their customers can't afford their prices, they often sell on credit, but then use the debt as leverage to take land or mining rights. It notes that Naruni has taken several entire worlds this way, which... I'm trying to imagine a world actually doing that. "Well, bill's due, time to give up all our freedom forever." It does note that, of course, the Naruni have a ginormous army with awesome weapons, which probably has a lot more to do with planets capitulating. It tries to make them sound as bad as the Splugorth, but even the book admits the Naruni don't engage in slave trading or biomagical body horror, so they seem more like the interdimensional 1% rather than the baby-munching monsters the Splugorth are.

Right now they're just focusing on putting a few "trading posts" in North America and playing the long game. They approached the Coalition States first, which was a big mistake as it revealed them to be nonhumans, and put them on the Coalition's hit list (a list so long as to be practically meaningless). They're looking to try and pit independent city-states against the Coalition, but it turns out that the city-states will likely wise up and fight Naruni instead. It's a self-solving problem - no PCs required! Of course, with the cosmic level of Naruni Enterprises' forces, it puzzles me as to why the Coalition is even vaguely a threat.

On to the guns!


Can you tell which Naruni gun is which?
  • NE-10 Plasma Cartridge Rifle: This fires cartridges that explode into plasma blasts and actually does solid, mini-missile level damage for a rifle, but you can only get reloads from Naruni suppliers. It also looks like the 90est sort of gun.
  • NE-4 Plasma Cartridge Pistol: This like the NE-10 but with smaller form factor, same damage, and shorter range. It also has the perennial strength penalty for those not buff and trying to use this.
  • NE-50 Particle Beam Rifle: An energy rifle that literally has the same stats as the NE-10, and has been modified to work with Earth's E-Clips. It notes that only Naruni reps carry this item - they don't sell it on Earth yet. Tough luck, PCs! (Unless you're playing a Naruni rep, anyway.)
  • NE-200 Plasma Cartridge Machinegun: An oversized, belt-fed version of the NE-10 that does some pretty great damage, but you need (once again) high strength to use it without a tripod. To digress, the problem with all these tripod weapons is that in theory you can't dodge on them, which is an issue since you have no ability to supress or mow down most foes with this or sweep an area or anything tactical like real people might do.
  • NE-1000 "Modified" Plasma Ejector Rifle: Just another plasma rifle, really. It actually does better damage in the original Naruni version you can't buy, but this version has the modified E-Clips and sucks.
Once again, a lot of them are listed as "standard" rate of fire, and we still don't know what that's supposed to be.


Katana sold separately.

We also have the NE-C20 Camouflage Variable Armor. It lets you camouflage and move real slow, like the lamest Predator, and gives a whopping 40% chance of going unnoticed if you're undercover and if you don't move. When it's cloaked, it gives +5% to your stealth!... and a -5% penalty to stealth due to mobility penalties. Hilarious mechanics, there. It's a decent set of armor otherwise, but overpriced due to the crappy camouflage mechanics. There are also Camouflage Sheets to hide stationary vehicles, but they have no rules other than how much damage they can take.


"Look out, he's got a pancake generator... delicious!"

More effective are the Personal Force Fields, which protect one from harm as you'd expect, and regenerate M.D.C. unless they're "overloaded" by exceeding their M.D.C. value. They only last for hours on those overpriced E-Clips, unless you have a nuclear power source to hook them up to... which will usually only come up if you're using power armor. Oh, and to wear them with armor, the armor has to be specially modified by the Naruni. Still, you can hook one up to a Glitter Boy, so there's that. The fields come in Light to Superheavy, where light is like an average suit of M.D.C. armor, and Superheavy is protection closer to a light power armor suit.

Next: So, uh, the Naruni make vehicles!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




One thing I don't quite understand about Nightlife is the "splatterpunk" aspect. I realize that it's a subgenre unto itself, but I know very little about it; my fiancee understands it much better than I do. Anyway, what little splatterpunk I've seen comes across as self-serious, which Nightlife definitely is not.

pkfan2004 posted:

This is the world of Unhallowed Metropolis, a world with no hope. Last time I went over the core rulebook and all of its classes, monsters and technology. For the expansion, they decided to focus on something they really just briefly glossed over the first time: the ghosts of London.
I skimmed this book and I was disappointed in the concept. It's great that they want to acknowledge 19th century spiritualism in the game, but a book filled mainly with new character options is really not what UM needs to be more engaging.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Angrymog posted:

Lupine form - Turn into a wolf. Turn into a wolf, pretty good stat boosts, and a chance to forget how to do human things whilst in wolf form. Low humanity characters need a roll to change back.

Lychanthropic form - Classic werewolf form. Attribute modifiers not as good as the Lupine form, but you get to keep hands? Penalties on skill use, including combat skills, but you can use your Edge score in this or the Claws Edge without penalties.

Wolfform Turn into a wolf.

I can't wait for the expansion that includes the WolfWolfWolf power.

psychopomp
Jan 27, 2011


What's the breakdown between cubewolf and wolfcubed?

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





CHAPTER ONE: Visions & Revelations Part One

So Chapter One has a chunk of in-universe text, kicking off with "The Origins of Parapsychology" which is the history of parapsychology in the real world up until the Plague Years. If you're super interested in the field, you probably know the history. I'd recap but this is a tabletop RPG and I'm here to share the fake history of a fake science in a fake society and the fake events herein. There is a lot I'm gonna be skipping over, so I'll be breaking up the paragraphs with pictures of timelines provided in the book.



During the Plague Years, there were lots of survivor settlements away from the armies of the world. Sometimes the protected zones would willingly dump people in the wasteland for crimes or to make room or for fun. And as a result of being forced to live directly in the middle of an apocalyptic nightmare, a lot of people developed mixtures of PTSD, depression and more. But a rare few got more than years of emotional turmoil and grief and began to develop unnatural abilities they could exercise with their minds. They were brought to the attention of scientists and the military and were researched.



On the other side of supernatural stuff, the mass deaths of the survivor settlements started leading to weird supernatural phenomena, especially if they bordered the wastelands or cities. Hauntings and general ghostly activity began to really step up, especially when death was imminent. A lot of ghosts were confused and disruptive, some were just malicious, and some didn't fully manifest and just threw poo poo around. On top of that, some people are able to talk to the dead and interact with them.



From here it gets really specific about instances of hauntings and psychics unleashing their powers. So let's just jump ahead to 1917. English scientists start taking some of their psychics and their mediums and experimenting on them en masse. A lot go even more insane, a lot of them die, but a few end up refining their powers. The ones that make it through the tests were used for Operation Valkyrie and were assigned to command posts along the wasteland. The idea was that friendly psychics and mediums would be able to help detect major plague outbreaks and help the military coordinate or just help the military destroy Animates and other supernatural monsters.



What happens when you use emotionally-disturbed disaster survivors to operate without giving them stability and therapy? Nothing good. The precogs and the other psychics were often inefficient or wrong and they were always understaffed. But they kept intentionally exposing people to mind-breaking situations and they kept pushing. From their pigheadedness came the Special Strategic Branch of Project Valkyrie, controlling squads of similarly-powered psychics who were trained in concentrative techniques to help hold their minds together. Despite having an appalling mortality/insanity/termination rate, the SSB was able to help Britain reclaim London and defend the survivors.

What were the mediums doing? Uh. I dunno. Great question. They're mostly used by the government for a variety of reasons or working privately. Why answer that question more thoroughly when you can just talk about ~PSYCHIC POWERS~?



So now that the sources of psychics are understood, and there's a way to get them to control their powers, the British parapsychologists decide to work on means of inhibiting and inducing psychic phenomena. It's kind of hard work to just let a potential asset to the Empire live a life of crushing despair in the wild until they can move stuff with their mind. Both induction and suppression is incredibly costly and hard to research. For suppression, they come up with:


  • Lobotomies are the fastest and easiest way to permanently turn off psychic potential. So are truckloads of sedatives.
  • Psychosurgery was the second answer. Psychosurgery is much more precise means to poke around the grey matter until the psychic was unable to use their power without being rendered insensate to the world.
  • Finally, doctors managed to come up with inhibitor drugs. Side effects of said drugs often involve hallucinations, headaches and nausea, and not all psychics were affected by them. The scientists shrugged and said "good enough" and now inhibitors and drugs come in different doses and sizes at apothecaries. Psychic criminals often have them forcibly installed and untrained street psychics are often addicted to inhibitor drugs to keep themselves "normal".


Induction was a lot more sinister. Officially, psychosurgery was used to stimulate the brain in the opposite of suppression surgery. In reality, a group of government workers and private investigators ended up revealing a government conspiracy called Dominion.

Originally called Project Archangel before it was shut down, The Psychic Defense Bureau (aka Dominion) was established to help control psychics for the Empire and induce powers in normal people. Much like the MKULTRA experiments, their real purpose was to operate covertly in asylums and workhouses experimenting on the poor and destitute. On top of that, they often employed heavily-armed kill teams in their labs to help control the test subjects. When a pyrokinetic killed two orderlies by accident, a kill team chased them into the bowels of a sanitarium as the others worked on evacuating the staff. What resulted was the entire asylum burning down, hotter than any normal fire and visible from anywhere in the city. Dominion panicked and set about terminating test subjects and destroying labs to cover their tracks, and it was officially blamed on arson by anarchists. Later, an inquisitive reporter tied together several leads and would interview the disgraced project leader being held until watch in a hospital room and publish his findings in all newspapers. As a result, scandal broke out and accusations fly in the government, support is lost for the ruling party and people start trusting the government less about psychics.

Dominion is not shut down.



And I'm not done with the chapter yet. Remember how I said this was all about ghosts? Well, I was wrong and Halloween Jack was right. This isn't really about ghosts. This is about whatever the hell the creators felt like adding past the core game. Ghosts themselves really get the short end of the stick compared to psychic powers and Neo-Victorian shrinks. And like I said: I'm skipping a lot of the more specific stuff. I skipped a whole section on how the London stock exchange came to terms with precogs using their powers for insider trading (spoilers: it's illegal to use psychic powers to make a killing on the stock market). But I'm keeping some of it to remind you that they go into an insane amount of worldbuilding sometimes even if it's stuff I really could not care about or would not be used in a plot hook. I could get behind being rogue psychics and adventurers fighting against Dominion. I don't think most of you guys care about Parliament's attempt to come up with licensing and laws regarding psychics.

Next time: GHOSTS! AETHERTECH! PSYCHIC DETECTIVES! MEDIUM DETECTIVES AND THE STEPNEY HORROR! STUFF LIKE IN THIS PICTURE BELOW!



This chapter's short story: The Lowenthal Case

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 01:02 on Aug 20, 2014

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

psychopomp posted:

What's the breakdown between cubewolf and wolfcubed?

In volume or surface area?

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Humbug Scoolbus posted:

In volume or surface area?

Assume a perfectly spherical wolf.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?



Halloween Jack posted:

One thing I don't quite understand about Nightlife is the "splatterpunk" aspect. I realize that it's a subgenre unto itself, but I know very little about it; my fiancee understands it much better than I do. Anyway, what little splatterpunk I've seen comes across as self-serious, which Nightlife definitely is not.

I skimmed this book and I was disappointed in the concept. It's great that they want to acknowledge 19th century spiritualism in the game, but a book filled mainly with new character options is really not what UM needs to be more engaging.

Depends on the splatterpunk. A lot of the original stuff is pretty poo poo that's, like you said, over serious about how gruesome it is, but there are books like The Skinner by neal asher that are just really fun sci-fi romps that happen to involve people getting jacked up gruesomely.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Mercenaries Part 19: "Pod or roughly egg-shaped - resembles a giant mechanical egg laying on its side with weapons and antennas sticking out of it."

Naruni Vehicles

This is where poo poo gets ridiculous.

NE-010 Destructo-Drone


Defining "tactical boondoggle".

This is a 250,000 credit missile. Oh, sure, it has a brilliant computer brain and can dodge and fly around corners, but it doesn't do more damage or have more range than other Rifts missiles, and it's 7' long, so no aiming it through air ducts Metal Gear-style. So, do you like burning money? Then you might love the NE-010. You can take any leftover money you have and tie to the drone so when it explodes, at least you'll have learned a valuable lesson.

NE-020 Combat Drone


PA 101: This year, the fish strike back.

It has a dinky-plus laser and a totally unstatted mini-missile launcher! Thankfully, our modern drones are more effective than this, though it does have a variety of combat programs... or you can buy a VR interface for a paltry 500,000 credits. There's no mention of the VR interface making you think you're a god or action junkie or think you're a missile in your off time like in Rifts Space or Rifts World Book Five: Triax & the NGR, so I imagine Carella's writing this.

NE-030 Spy Drone


Shark + arms = trouble.

This is probably the most usefulest drone so far, just because it's not for fighting, but for looking. It has Prowl at 89%, through the variable camouflage and being silent. Its laser is poo poo, but that's not the point; it seems really well suited to doing its job, unlike the last two. It also has little t-rex arms for shenanigans. It gets a pass.

NE-300 OMAV Combat Pod


Hopefully, it never needs to land.

This pod holds a pilot which uses this as a platform to direct them, like an RLS (real-life strategy). The pilot can also take VR control of any of them as well, or give them specific orders. "The pilot can switch his control for one specific drone to another as easily as changing channels on a television set with a remote control.", it mentions, the metaphor stretching to its limit. It also requires a specific new skill, Combat Pod Piloting, which is useful for no other vehicles. Yeesh.

It's crazy expensive, and has only middling weapons like a particle beam turret or mini-missiles, and isn't terribly well-armored to boot. It seems like this would be the kind of system that would be better to have in a tank, something less fragile that could take the beating foes give you once they work out the big drone is in charge.

Carnivore Mark I - Light Hover Tank


On Rifts Earth, some guns are square.

Remember wayyy back when I mentioned Hammer's Slammers? Well, here's the new hovertanks to go with that reference. This is actually isn't that tough as far as tanks go, but does have a particle beam cannon that's equivalent to a boom gun. It also has (ho-hum, effective, but ho-hum) mini-missiles and a decent laser turret. It's pretty drat fast for a tank, but having a mere 200 M.D.C. main turret is a big issue.

Juggernaut - Heavy Hover Tank


On Rifts Earth, it took aliens to devise an effective tank.

This, on the other hand, is one of the scariest things in the book, with a price to match. It has more firepower and armor than a Glitter Boy before you add in the force field, a well-armored turret, is somehow even faster than the Carnivore, has an extra middling rail gun, a bunch of mini-missiles, lasers, medium-range missiles, and generally kicks all the butts and takes all the names.

Next: Naruni's armor and air, an affected alliteration.

Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.

wdarkk posted:

I was reading back through this thread and I thought "man, Monsterhearts is cool but I will never play it."

Monsterhearts is cool. It's also, in my experience, both the hardest and the easiest game to get people to play. Like, people who are already into tabletop will react with something between "What is this Twilight bullshit?" and "Why would I play a game of teenage drama when I could play a cool fantasy hero?" with usually a side of "Ewww, it's about sex" to taste. I've had the most success finding people to play it with by asking from people within my social circles who have no preconceptions of what RPGs need to be about and are open to the idea of teenage monster melodrama.

That having been said, it's time to press on, 'cause I've been putting this off for long enough.



The Ghoul is the next on our list of Monsterhearts skins. As I said last time, while the Ghost is the saddest of all the skins, the Ghoul is definitely the most disturbing in my mind, the reasons for which I'll explain further on.



The Ghoul is another dead-person skin. Whereas the Ghost was brought back to life due to an unresolved trauma, the Ghoul was brought back from the dead against the will. This transgression lies very much at the heart of the Ghoul. Thematically, the Ghoul is a flesh-eating Hollywood zombie, but given that this is Monsterhearts, it's obviously a sexy flesh-eating zombie. They have a hunger they must sate, no matter who gets hurt.

Stats: The Ghoul starts with 1 in Cold and Volatile, and with -1 in Hot and Dark. This is basically the statline of a psychopath: the Ghoul is cold and calculated, but should they need to hurt someone they will do it. The downside is that they're not very well equipped for manipulation and seduction, nor are they very well in tune with the occult.

Moves: The Ghoul starts with the Hunger and gets to choose two more. With the Hunger the Ghoul chooses a hunger for one of the following: flesh, fear, power or chaos. Whenever they heedlessly pursue that hunger they add 1 to all their rolls, but when they ignore a feeding opportunity they need to hold steady.

There's some further discussion on the Hunger in the skin: a Ghoul with a hunger for flesh won't sate that hunger just by eating a rare steak every once in a while: they need raw flesh, and lots of it. Similarly, a Ghoul with a hunger for fear can't just go around the hallways going "Boo!" to sate their hunger: they might need to go full-on psychological warfare on their victims to sate their hunger. While the hunger provides a lot of conceptual space to explore, the underlying thing is that it needs to be a big thing, one that involves doing hosed up poo poo to people to sate.

Disaffected is another of Monsterhearts' many stat-switch moves, and it's surprisingly thematic: it allows the Ghoul to use Cold instead of Hot when turning someone on. So, instead of turning people on with your smoldering gaze, you turn them on by being really cool and distant.

Short Rest for the Wicked basically makes the Ghoul invulnerable: whenever they would die, they can just wait it out, and they'll wake up with all their wounds healed in a couple of hours. Given that characters already have quite a number of escape clauses from death (losing your strings, taking a condition, triggering your Darkest Self) this move basically just adds another way for the character to come back from the dead.

What the Right Hand Wants is fun: your body has been stitched together from multiple bodies, and the different parts want different things. You get to create another Hunger. Note that the word here is create. While your initial Hunger needs to be one of the four provided, this move's phrasing implies that this Hunger is yours to define. Go crazy!

Watchful Golem is a great move if you want to give your Ghoul a bit of a warmer side while still retaining the skin's creepy sociopath nature: whenever you defend someone without them knowing about it, mark experience. Yeah, that's totally not creepy nor transgressing on anyone's boundaries.

Satiety builds upon the Hunger: whenever you sate your Hunger you get to choose one of the following:
  • Heal one harm
  • Remove a condition
  • Mark experience
  • Carry 1 forward

Ending is my favorite move, especially when coupled with Disaffected: this Ghoul remembers how they died. Whenever they tell someone about it, they give that person the condition morbid and get to roll to turn them on. It's heavily implied that the Ghoul could also immediately tag the condition for a +1 to their roll. I just love the fact that a Ghoul that's been built for it can potentially be the most seductive and alluring character in the game: it evokes a scene of the Ghoul showing their crush the scars from their accident, punctuated with requisite gasps and inquiries from their crush, followed by awkward teenage sex. It's just such a Monsterhearts thing.

Backstory:

Someone reminded the Ghoul of what love is when they thought dead had stolen it from them. They get 2 strings on the Ghoul.

If anyone watched the Ghoul die, or see them being brought back to life, they both take 2 strings on each other.

Gang:

I just realized I forgot this on the Fae and the Ghost, but the Ghoul has the option of choosing Necromantic Caretakers as an advance. As with many things in the game, this is left for the players and MC to define.

Okay. Now comes the hard part. The Ghoul's Sex Move and Darkest Self. Neither of these is, in isolation, completely terrible. Put together, they make for something potentially problematic.

Sex Move: When the Ghoul has sex with someone, they add "having sex with [this person]" as an additional Hunger. If they already have this Hunger, they mark experience instead.

Darkest Self: Well. "You will maim, kill and destroy anything in between you and the nearest object of your hunger. You will feed relentlessly. You escape your Darkest Self when someone restrains you or fends you off for long enough for you to regain your composure – at least thirty or forty minutes."

That particular combination up there? Once the game progresses to the point where characters are already starting to get intimate with each other, the Ghoul basically becomes a ticking timebomb of rape. This is one of those things that, provided with no commentary, makes for a potentially uncomfortable game.

Having said that, I'm not the only one who realized the problematic nature of the Ghoul. Well, not specifically the Ghoul: Lillian Cohen-Moore of Bitch Magazine wrote about the game, (link) and while she praised the game, she also noted the fact that while the game is very much about sex, it doesn't actually provide a lot of discussion for how to deal with potentially problematic and uncomfortable matter around the tabletop:

Lillian Cohen-Moore posted:

Monsterhearts has a lot to say about how we treat sex and each other. My one concern is that the game pushes participants to uncomfortable emotional places without balancing that in the text with caution. In the wrong mix of players, the game could be a terrible play experience. With such senstive topics at the game's center, it seems irresponsible to not to include more text about creating boundaries and when to call "scene," in order to make the table a safe place to explore volatile and highly charged emotional content. It's a game worth playing, but it needs to be played mindfully. Not everyone starts their roleplaying experience off with story games, and if your first time at the table is a bad game of Monsterhearts, it's not likely you'll be running back for more. Whether you play or run games, remember first to always be kind to those playing with you.

Avery McDaldno, the author of Monsterhearts, weighed in on the discussion:

McDaldno posted:

Lilian,

I just wanted to say thanks for this article.

When designing this game, one of my goals was to approach dysfunctional relationships/selfhoods/behaviors in such a way that they became viewable and material, but that the task of de-mystifying them still remained in the hands of the players. Like saying, "here's this problematic thing that people do, now let's try to figure out how it works." I think your article touches on that aspect on the game in a great way. Yay!

I want to touch upon a specific thing you said: "with such senstive topics at the game's center, it seems irresponsible to not to include more text about creating boundaries." In hindsight, I think the approach I adopted here was lacking, and that you're totally right. If I were to rewrite the book, there'd be a whole chapter about negotiating healthy social contract & on dealing with player discomfort/hurt. My thoughts on all that stuff change and evolve continually, and at the time of writing I was definitely of the belief that "those issues should be handled by the individuals at the table with the breadth of their communication tools and life experiences, not by what little I can communicate here in text." Since then, my stance has dropped the false binary. In short: I agree with you, and would definitely write more on social contract if I were to go back in time.

I've been contemplating releasing a free supplemental PDF called, like, "Navigating Problematic Sexual Content in Story Games: A Supplement for Monsterhearts and Other Games."

And, well, that's exactly what McDaldno did. See Safe Hearts, A guide to boundaries and vulnerability in Monsterhearts.

What I'm trying to say is that Avery McDaldno is one of the coolest designers ever. Normally when something in an RPG gets identified as problematic by the audience the authors get up in arms about it, defending their "creative vision" and generally act like a bunch of complete insensitive assholes about it, as if their writing was behind reproach and couldn't even be criticized as "Hey, this stuff you wrote is potentially rapey." McDaldno gets called out on the fact that some of the stuff in Monsterhearts could be potentially problematic without a discussion about boundaries and a well-defined social contract, and their response is "Hey, you're right! Let me fix that for you!" That takes a lot more guts than curling up and shouting down all criticism.

Coming to this particular skin I may have seemed to be saying "I love Monsterhearts but ugh the Ghoul is terrible!" That's not the case: I love the Ghoul, but realize that without an in-group discussion about boundaries the skin can lead the game to triggering situations. Furthermore, since players retain control of their characters in all situations (even when their Darkest Self triggers) players ultimately still retain agency over what their characters do and where they want to take the story. If you're playing the Ghoul and you're starting to flirt with the boundaries of consent, you as a player of the character always have the right to say "Okay, I don't want my character to do that, because it would be uncomfortable for all of us. So they're not going to do that."

Next Time: The Infernal, a.k.a. a junkie with a demonic dealer, or my favorite skin ever.

Ratpick fucked around with this message at 18:40 on Aug 20, 2014

BerkerkLurk
Jul 22, 2001

I could never sleep my way to the top 'cause my alarm clock always wakes me right up

Alien Rope Burn posted:

NE-030 Spy Drone


*cuts off Naruni salesman mid pitch* "Look, I just need something to tickle people with. Oh, splendid!"

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



A floating robot shark with fingers would totally solve the classic Hollywood problem of "hacking is boring to look at."

I could see that thing typing away on a computer while someone nearby shouts "You only have 30 seconds to crack the DoJ website" and then the shark robot shoots a laser at him while continuing to hack all cool.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



Ratpick posted:

Monsterhearts is cool. It's also, in my experience, both the hardest and the easiest game to get people to play. Like, people who are already into tabletop will react with something between "What is this Twilight bullshit?" and "Why would I play a game of teenage drama when I could play a cool fantasy hero?" with usually a side of "Ewww, it's about sex" to taste. I've had the most success finding people to play it with by asking from people within my social circles who have no preconceptions of what RPGs need to be about and are open to the idea of teenage monster melodrama.

This encapsulates my opinion on Monsterhearts exactly. I think it's really awesome, but I have one or two final mental hurdles to kick over and give the finger to before I'm ready to embrace the teen angst.

Edit: Your review is probably what will get me to play Monsterhearts eventually.

Green Intern fucked around with this message at 18:31 on Aug 20, 2014

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


The Lone Badger posted:

Assume a perfectly spherical wolf.

Don't worry, Anime has you covered.

LeastActionHero
Oct 23, 2008


Monsterhearts is definitely one of the most interesting, well designed games I've seen in this thread. Unfortunately it's a game of 'bisexual teenage melodramatics making poor decisions', which is going to be unappealing to a lot of people for a lot of legitimate reasons. Plop me down in a session, and I'd probably have trouble doing anything, as I'd always be thinking (in-character) "man, this is a terrible idea and everyone is really emotionally unhealthy, I should go home and study to be an accountant".

psychopomp
Jan 27, 2011


Dilb posted:

"man, this is a terrible idea and everyone is really emotionally unhealthy, I should go home and study to be an accountant".

Honestly this is a "realistic" (but unfun) attitude that would be perfectly valid when discussing almost any role-playing game.

Impermanent
Apr 1, 2010








They're not bisexual, they're going through the fluid process of maturing through teenage sexuality.

Plus, if I'm not giving away too much, the endgame of Monsterhearts involves your characters becoming emotionally healthy adults (if they don't die first.) Every roleplaying game features some variant of emotionally damaged person or murder hobo: Monsterhearts allows that murderhobo to learn to deal with people as adults.

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

Dilb posted:

Monsterhearts is definitely one of the most interesting, well designed games I've seen in this thread. Unfortunately it's a game of 'bisexual teenage melodramatics making poor decisions', which is going to be unappealing to a lot of people for a lot of legitimate reasons. Plop me down in a session, and I'd probably have trouble doing anything, as I'd always be thinking (in-character) "man, this is a terrible idea and everyone is really emotionally unhealthy, I should go home and study to be an accountant".

As a concept it's brilliant, as a game I would never play it. The real world is depressing enough that I don't need to add to it with simulated angst.

Impermanent
Apr 1, 2010








Humbug Scoolbus posted:

As a concept it's brilliant, as a game I would never play it. The real world is depressing enough that I don't need to add to it with simulated angst.

This isn't an indictment of your personal preferences, but your title is literally from a work of simulated angst.

Monsterhearts is at its heart as much of a pulpfest as any clockwork steampunk dungeon game and it makes me sad that the gaming community approaches its (still pulpy, popcorny fun) angst-fest so tepidly.

People never did this with Vampire, and I think this has to do with the fact that Vampire was marketed at a time when emotionally distant vampires were still more of a masculine fantasy than a feminine one.

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Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



I know I said I'd do a writeup of Noir, but it's just not going to happen for a while. My life has gotten extremely busy lately. I'll make sure to bookmark all that excellent background info that was pulle up, though. It'll happen. Eventually.

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