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ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Time to :spergin: it up.


Spycraft is a pair of games based on D20, the first edition of which was printed in 2002, the second in 2005, both by AEG. Due to financial difficulties, AEG axed the line shortly after the release of second edition, but three of the writers got together to form Crafty Games and negotiated the license from AEG to keep the game in print. They've since gone on to reprint Spycraft 2.0 (with some improved organization, but with B&W printing of an all-color design:cry:), and released Fantasy Craft, their take on D&D style fantasy and also a D20 derivative; the licensed Mistborn RPG; and Little Wizards, an expanded English edition of a French game (Fun fact: the designer of that game is also a boardgame designer with several well-regarded gamed, including 7 Wonders and Ghost Story.).

Spycraft 2.0 doesn't start with the usual “What is roleplaying?” bit lots of games have, instead talking about it's own history, some of the design behind it and differences between it and its predecessor.

The game let's us know we have a license to improvise! Spycraft wants to be the "ultimate modern genre toolkit" game; it defaults to the superspy action genre but can be modified for everything from “gritty, hard-edged techno thriller” to “campy, gonzo martial arts epics”. This means it has intricate mechanics to cover lots of situations so :spergin:s need never be without the cold comfort of math.

What's Different?
We get descriptions of how Spycraft 2.0 differs from both the D20 OGL and the original Spycraft.

Differences from D20:
No Multiclassing XP Penalties (Who even used those anyway?)
No Attacks of Opportunity
No Challenge Rating (A brand new system for creating encounters and challenges is included)
Vitality and Wounds (Spycraft uses “action movie near-miss” Vitality points and “real meat damage” Wound points in lieu of D&D hit points)
New Skill System (Modified skills for the modern genre)
Action Dice (The “heroes edge,” usable sort of like fate points/hero points/story points/etc in lots of other games)
Error Ranges (The failure equivalent of critical threat ranges)

And here’s another important difference, hinted at in that last entry: In most of the d20 system, a roll can have two results: success or failure. Combat adds “super success” critical hits, and it’s a common house rule to add in “fumble” effects on a roll of 1 with an attack, while a few places here and there give bad results on a 1 as well.

Spycraft adds four extra possible results on rolls pretty much everywhere throughout the system. If you roll a number within your Threat Range, you get a “Threat,” a sort of exceptional success. You can then spend an Action Die to turn it into a super awesome Critical Success. On the flip side, rolling within your Error Range is a really bad failure called an “Error,” and an enemy (the Game Control if a player rolled it, a player if the GC did) can spend an Action Die to turn it into a Critical Failure. These can all occur on skill checks, combat rolls and more. There’s all kinds of effects that can fiddle with these ranges and the amount of Action Dice needed.

Also, the Game Control is the Spycraft version of the Dungeon Master, if you hadn't guessed.


This is the only picture in this section

Differences from 1.0:
I have no familiarity with first edition, these taken straight from the list in the book.

Campaign Qualities (Mechanics for customization to fit a campaign)
Origins (Replaces “Departments,” which served as an equivalent of races in D&D)
New Gear System (A radical departure from the traditional method of handling equipment)
Improved Gadgets (Player customized items)
Dramatic Conflicts (Subsystems for things like hacking, seduction, manhunts and interrogation)
Expert Class Prerequisites (The Prestige Class equivalent, now easier to enter than ever)
Interests (Replaced a skill with a more robust system for peripheral character hobbies)
Subplots (Character specific story lines)
Combat (Modified for :airquote:greater realism:airquote:)
Stress Damage (Mechanics for psychological stress and trauma)
Subdual Damage(Non-lethal injury)
NPC Design (Modular system for everything from mooks to supervillains)
Mission Design

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 12:37 on Sep 10, 2014

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Piell
Sep 3, 2006

Grey Worm's Ken doll-like groin throbbed with the anticipatory pleasure that only a slightly warm and moist piece of lemoncake could offer



Young Orc

Yesssss, Spycraft owns.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Spycraft is right up there with Continuum for games that look really cool but are too terrifying to consider actually running. 1.0 wasn't quite as spergy as 2.0, though.

ZorajitZorajit
Sep 15, 2013

No static at all...

I actually own Spycraft 1.0 and remember being really excited about it. I had a great scenario written up for my table and was trying to land somewhere between being Goldeneye and Metal Gear Solid (the gameplay, not the insanity.) I called my friends, we rolled characters, I even passed out the "manuever cards" to the driver and made sure everyone else had something to do, the tech guy needed to hack a laptop during in the car, the solider could pop out of the sun roof. And then I opened the game with a car chase. Because spy movies start with a car chase!

Our four hour play session involved two cars and two motorcycles driving about ten blocks. I haven't included a chase sequence in a game since. And I'm still bitter about it.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Spycraft 1.0 gets pretty goddamn spergy... if you include all the subsystems from the supplements. Just about every class guide added a new system for shadowing or hacking or psionics or whatever. Spycraft 2.0 is definitely born from "Spycraft 1.0 with all the fixins".

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

The gear system in 2.0 is really good. Also the modular villains makes it very easy to configure encounters. I really like both versions to be honest.

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

I can't remember if I ever actually got to play Spycraft 2.0, I know I tried to run it once, but it seemed interesting. Also apparently there is a supplement that includes playing as basically Transformers. Now that is something I really wanted to try.

This also reminds me, did Fantasy Craft ever get done in Fatal & Friends? I looked in the table of contents in the OP and didn't see it. Though that might be because the table of contents hasn't really been getting updated.

Man I wish someone would run Fantasy Craft again, or the Spycraft Transformers stuff.

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

Transmechs! They also did Real American H.E.R.O.es for GI JOE based shenanigans.

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

I think there was a third one as well, but I don't remember what 80s cartoon it covered.

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

Fragile Minds was the Cosmic Horror one. There were also the Light of Olympus and Classic Fantasy books.

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

Oh yeah Light of Olympus I think had some stuff like medusas, centaurs and minotaurs, might be port-able to Fantasy Craft, not sure. And Classic Fantasy had things like elves, which are probably a bit different than the versions in Fantasy Craft.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


You definitely have to do some converting for Classic Fantasy, but the subraces from that were already ported over in the Adventure Companion, about the only thing that didn't come over were the advanced race classes or the Grecian races.

Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.

Speeding through the last of the Skins so we can finally get to the MC section of the game. On this episode of Monsterhearts...



It's time for the most iconic of all the monsters from contemporary supernatural romance: The Vampire. Being the literature geek that I am, it's fun to read about how images of the vampire have changed throughout history: stories of bloodsucking unliving monsters are a near-universal phenomenon, and variations of vampire myths appear in a number of cultures. The one source from which most modern vampire tales are derived from is Dracula, where the titular villain was largely inspired by South Slavic tales of vampires, as well as the real historical figure of Vlad the Impaler. Having read Dracula I'll be the first to say that it doesn't quite hold up: like a lot of gothic tales penned by British writers it largely builds its horror through othering, and the favorite other of most British writers were those God-damned mainland Europeans with their twisted Papist church and revolutionary ideals.

So, the most powerful image of the vampire in popular culture was basically an angry Irishman writing a horror story about how those nasty Eastern Europeans were coming to Britain, corrupting the Empire and stealing our women. However, Dracula laid the groundwork for the popularization of the vampire as a sexy creature; even though Bram Stoker didn't originate the idea, he made it popular. Modern images of the vampire tend to focus on the sexy and not so much on the stupid sexy foreigners angle.



Now, vampires are tough to portray in almost any kind of RPG: they come with so much baggage from different myths and popular depictions that it's really hard to find an exact mechanical focus for the vampire. Whereas in a game like Vampire: The Masquerade (and Requiem!) you can explain away divergent vampire myths by saying "Oh, vampires come from different bloodlines with different powers!" Monsterhearts doesn't have that benefit because the Vampire is a single Skin instead of being divided into a number of sub-Skins. Theoretically, if you were to draw inspiration for your Vampire from a number of contemporary sources, you'd just have to give them a high stat in everything.

The Monsterhearts Vampire solves this conundrum by giving it a very clear focus: it very clearly draws its themes from Twilight, True Blood and the works of Anne Rice. However, while the vampires in all those sources were pretty good at everything (super-strong, super-fast, with keen senses, being able to fly, poo poo rainbows, basically whatever power the writer felt comfortable giving them at the time) the most interesting stuff they did had nothing to do with their physical prowess, but everything to do with how manipulative and seductive they were.

The Vampire is all about drawing people in but then keeping them at an arm's length, never quite letting them close. Basically, they know what you want and they're not giving it to you because they love to watch you squirm. Also, they're control freaks.

Stats: As a very socially powerful Skin, the Vampire starts with Hot and Cold at 1, and Volatile and Dark at -1.

Moves: The Vampire gets to choose any two of the following:

Hypnotic allows you to hypnotize people, provided they hold no Strings on you. Rolling with Hot, on a 10+ they do exactly as you wish and have no idea that anything is wrong, and on a 7-9 it works but they either realize you hypnotized them, they gently caress up your commands, or their sanity becomes unhinged. A very powerful move, but since getting Strings on people isn't all that hard most other player characters will have blanket immunity to it. That said, the Vampire has a high Cold, so it's not too hard for them to shut someone down to make them lose their Strings on you.

Invited gives you the traditional Vampire weakness of not being able to enter a home without being invited. That might not sound like a very useful move, but when someone does invite you, you take a String on them.

The Feeding makes you able to feed on hot blood. If it's the first time your victim's been fed on, you both mark experience. When you feed you choose two:
  • you heal 1 harm
  • you carry 1 forward
  • they don't die
Yeah, if you don't want your victim to die, you have to use one of your choices for that. Since PCs can always just trigger their Darkest Self not to die, this is not an instant-kill move on other PCs. You may have just drank all the blood from the Werewolf, but now he's back up on his feet and also he's a furry deathmonster. What do you do?

Marked for the Hunt allows you to establish a close bond with someone when you feed on them (as seen on television!), implying that you don't actually need the Feeding to feed on people. It's just that with the Feeding you also get a mechanical benefit out of it. Anyway, with this move, when you gaze into the abyss about a person you've fed on, you roll as if you had Dark 3, effectively counteracting your lovely Dark score.

Cold As Ice allows you to pick an extra option from the 7-9 list whenever you shut someone down and roll a hit (that is a 7 or higher). Pretty great.

Inescapable is the move that Bill uses in True Blood whenever Sookie tries to walk out on him and he yells "Sookie!" in that one particular voice of his. It allows you to spend a String on someone to tell them not to walk out on you. If they do, you gain 2 Strings on them.

Now it's time for the Vampire's Backstory! The Vampire is beautiful, so they take a String on everyone. However, someone ("Sookie!") once saved their unlife, so they take 2 Strings on the Vampire.

As an Advancement, the Vampire can gain membership in a Vampire Coterie as a Gang.

Now, the Vampire's got basically one of the best Sex Moves in the entire game:

Sex Move posted:

When you deny someone sexually, gain a String on them. When you have sex with someone, lose all Strings on that person.

Yes, the Vampire's Sex Move is all about withholding sex.

Finally, it's the Vampire's Darkest Self:

Darkest Self posted:

Everyone is your pawn, your plaything. You hurt them and make them vulnerable, for sport, like a cat does with a mouse. You feed to the point of death whenever you’re alone with someone, though you take your time. You escape your Darkest Self when you’re put in your rightful place, by someone more powerful than you.

So, the Vampire's kind of cool. However, it's got nothing on the next Skin, another one of my favorites, the Werewolf.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Hey everybody, guess who's back?



That's right, everybody's favorite fantasy Africa retroclone!

Chapter Six: Creating Adventures



The following chapter is half generic advice for adventures in a sandbox environment, half randomly-generated locations and characters to create quick adventure hooks for the campaign.

The first bit of advice tells the GM to talk with his players on what kind of adventures excite them. If dungeon-delving into tomb-houses is the big draw to the game, then feature that. If they want to rebel against a tyrannical oba and be heroes of the common folk, then provide adventure hooks in line with this model. As a sandbox mode of adventure means that the players can easily go wherever and the story moves with them, the GM should also ask at the end of each session "okay, what are you planning on doing next?" As this is different than the traditional GM-led method of plot, players unused to this freedom can be eased into it by providing them with a list of adventure options at first.

The next session discusses three aspects of an adventure: the set, or location. The actors, or NPCs. And the props, or objects important to the adventure, including but not limited to treasure and magical items.

For the set, the author advises to make a rough map of the area (where hand-drawn or taking a sample from the back of the book), keying areas deemed important, and not sweat the details on empty or uninteresting areas. He suggests that no more than 25% of a dungeon be full of such rooms; everything else should have some neat feature, detail, actor, or prop. We also get a full-page spread of tables containing Features of Interest. Take for example the trap table:

1d12 The trap is...
1 Pit trap, 1d3 x 10 feet deep
2 Poisoned needles dart from a piece of furniture
3 Arrows shoot from behind an awning
4 A stone block falls from the ceiling
5 Blade drops from above or swings out from wall
6 Walls that compress the luckless intruder
7 Alarm that summons nearby foes
8 Door closes and locks 1d6 minutes after entering
9 Footsteps press down on a bellows of poison gas
10 Valuable object is the pin that sets off the trap
11 Crude tripwire that releases spiked branch
12 Magical effect triggered by simple touch



Actors are NPCs who have a motivation in the adventure more complicated than "guard treasure, kill intruders."

quote:

Actors are different. They have a motivation or goal that is likely to intersect with the players, and they aren’t simply reactive denizens that respond only after being provoked. The witch-lord of Lost Badiye doesn’t just sit on his royal stool and wait for heroes to come stab him, he’s trying to whip the unruly denizens of the ruined jungle city into a military force capable of breaking the Lokossan border guards and opening the way for his Night Man allies. He’s going to be taking actions appropriate to that goal, and if the PCs start slaughtering his potential cannon fodder, he’s going to be inclined to do something about it.

In the terms of exploration-based adventures, such actors might approach or interact with the PCs in regards to their ultimate goals. In regards to antagonists inhabiting dungeons, it's inevitable that they will not be content to wait about in Room 5 for a band of adventurers to bust in. Intrigue-based adventures are the most complication of all, and need a major source of conflict between the actors which can change and react to the PCs' interference.

Props, simply put, are objects which are important or attractive to the PCs. Traditionally they can be money and treasure earned through completing quests, but can also be a MacGuffin or sought-after relic which can only be activated after some great task. In regards to loot, the author advises that not all treasure in the dungeon be accessed through combat; if every treasure must be pried from the cold dead hands or claws of an enemy, then this will teach the PCs that the only worthwhile way to get rich is to kill people. Options to bypass combat via stealth or mobility, or finding a hidden room full of relics by solving a puzzle, add variety. On the other hand, treasure which can be useful in combat is likely to be within easy reach of the owner.

Finally, Crawford asks three questions for the adventure's final touches. Is this adventure easily accessible to the PCs? Is it a railroad? Does it take into account the PCs' prior actions? In regards to these questions, he recommends that the adventure's plot should be something the PCs would plausibly follow, that the adventure factored in the possibility of the PCs just quitting (via a backup plan like an unrelated dungeon to explore outside the adventure's location), and that adventures should have at least a callback to past acts of heroism and infamy by the PCs to make them feel that their actions have an impact on the world around them.


Awarding Experience



A picture of the Silent City, according to the TIF image's filename in the Art Pack.

Spears of the Dawn uses the traditional experience point system of old-school D&D retroclones, but it departs from it in some major ways.

All PCs use the same experience progression chart, and they gain experience at the end of every game session. Crawford has a table of suggested experience for session based upon level, which works out by RAW by 1 level every 2 game sessions from 1st to 9th level, then 4 game sessions 9th to 10th level. Killing monsters and acquiring treasure is not baked into the system; instead, PCs gain experience points for at least trying to do something risky and meaningful. Legendary heroes slaughtering petty bandits with no greater ambition will not advance.

Crawford suggests adjusting experience rewards to speed up or slow down leveling, as well as the option for quest-based experience rewards as an incentive for the PCs. He also brings up the old-school D&D model of spent money granting experience, but this will require less randomness and more micro-managing of treasure unless he's ready for the possibility of unpredictable character growth.

The second half of the chapter has 11 One-Page Templates. The Templates are a collection of related tables to generate content on short notice. They range from locations such as ruined dwellings and urban palaces (with the tables being room features, common guardians and inhabitants, types of treasure, conflicts and troubles in the area, etc) to organizations such as crime syndicates and wicked cults. The tables work really well, and a simple tossing of a few d12s can tell you a lot about the area.

Let's say the GM needs quick details of a Forgotten Shrine. He rolls 4d12, and gets a 3, a 10, a 4, and a 9.

For Shrine Guardians and Perils, we learn that a loose spirit-beast which was worshiped by the inhabitants is now prowling the ruin (3).

For Valuables, there is golden finery of the high priest's wives (10).

For Interesting Shrine Inhabitants, we have the sole survivor of a former adventuring party (4).

For Traits of the Shrine's Faith, it's the last-standing monument to a once-popular and prominent religion (9).

For organizations and people, the tables are more background and relationship-based.

Thoughts so far: The advice is rather generic, but the idea of awarding experience independent of killing monsters and talking with the group on what kind of adventures they're interested in a novel departure from many D&D tropes. It helps keep Spears of the Dawn fresh in the OSR scene, and the tables are quite useful as well.

Next time Chapter 8: A Bestiary of the Three Lands

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!





The powerful librarian/superspy multiclass combo

The first mechanics we run into are character creation.
Before actual character creation starts however, the Game Control needs to select the Campaign Qualities they want based on the type of game they want to run. For new GCs, the book suggests the hybrid and revolving door qualities, which allow a combination of independent Freelance and “company men” Faction characters working together plus very forgiving death rules.

The first step of creating a character is the concept. An important question to answer is whether the character works for an organization or is freelance.

Next is Attributes. Pretty much the same as in D20, with a few additions for the different setting and added rules (Strength for handling recoil, Wisdom for withstanding stress damage, Charisma granting extra gear and wealth).

There's also descriptions of what happens when an attribute falls to 0 and include paralysis, coma and insanity.


Why is he throwing a grenade like that

Now is Origin, mixed and matched from Talents and Specialties. There's a lot of entries, so get comfy. Also, I'm omitting all the rules bits but be aware there’s lots of stuff here that references mechanics we won't see for a long time.

Talents are natural tendencies and aptitudes.
Adaptable- “You rely on a broad array of tactics rather than a single approach. No matter what happens, you come up with a workable solution – or at least a fair attempt.”
Agile- “You're naturally fast on your feet, an asset that's save you from disaster many times”
Brainy- “You're smarter than most people, possibly because you were raised among academics or had the opportunity to indulge your curiosity about a wide range of subjects.”
Burly- “You're built like a linebacker or can otherwise soak up and dish out punishment when needed.”
Caustic- “Your mouth frequently gets you into hot water, but it just as often saves you from worse punishment.”
Clever- “You're so tricky that you sometimes amaze even yourself.”
Convincing- “Your earnest presence makes you the envy of car salesmen everywhere.”
Cunning- “You survive by your wits, which ensures that they're very, very sharp.”
Daring- “”Leap before you look” is your personal credo. Fortunately, you're unusually fast enough or lucky enough to get away with it. Usually.”
Disciplined- “You're in control of your life at all times and have the drive to accomplish anything to which you set your mind.”
Fierce- “You tend to bull your way through life, counting on your physical presence to carry the day.”
Fit- “You lead a healthy, active life that lets you shrug off illness and other annoyances.”
Gifted- “You're a natural prodigy, capable of amazing accomplishments in your particular field.”
Gonzo- “People wonder if you're a little crazy. You know better- you're a lot crazy.”
Graceful- “You never seem to miss a beat, physically or socially.”
Grizzled- “You're a gruff and intimidating figure, and if the world hasn't killed you yet, it's not likely to do so any time soon.”
Mysterious- “You probably smile a lot – just to make people nervous about your motives.”
Orphaned- “It's a hard life, but somehow, you know you're going to come out on top.”
Persistent- “Dogged and relentless, you keep at any job until it's done.”
Privileged- “Born into wealth, you can't imagine any other lifestyle, nor would you want to.”
Reliable- “A broad base of life experience has prepared you to take on virtually any role in life. You're not flashy, just dependable.”
Resolute- “Once you make a decision, you back it with everything you've got.”
Retired- “You've been there, done that, and printed T-shirts. Now you're back in the game and surrounded by amateurs.”
Rowdy- “”Rebellious” and “Unpredictable” are the words most often used to describe you, but you've seen and done things most people never dream of.”
Shrewd- “You're an expert judge of character and surround yourself with only the very best colleagues.”
Veteran- “You're a seasoned professional with unparalleled insight about your chosen trade.”
Vigilant- “You grew up in a war zone or in other conditions that required your full attention to survive. The experience has taught you to always keep a sharp lookout for trouble”
Witty- “”You can hold your own in any conversation. You are an enchanting dinner companion... and a dangerous one.”

The second part are Specialties, representing experience before getting into the spy game.
Each of these gives a bonus feat and additional minor bonuses.

Authority- “You've carved out a niche as someone with vast reserves of theoretical knowledge. The trick, of course, is applying it in the dangerous situations in which you sometimes become embroiled.”
Celebrity- “You've achieved great notoriety as a performer, athlete, or news pundit, ensuring huge audiences know your name.”
City Dweller- “You are just one of the mission of regular folks who populate a modern metropolis.”
Clergyman- “You're a member of the First Estate, believing that even in these ostensibly secular times, faith is a powerful agent for change.”
Contract Professional- “You've turned your “unique” talents into a brilliant career.”
Criminal- “You've spent a lot of time on the wrong side of the law. You may have done time or you may have been too slick to be caught, but you've never fit in as a law-abiding citizen.”
Doctor- “Whether a neurosurgeon or a veterinarian, your medical skills are always in demand.”
Entertainer- “You have a natural creative talent, such as painting, performance art, or writing, that's earned you a modest following.”
Financier- “You're a shark in the world of high finance.”
Geek- “You're a citizen of the electronic domain, possessing friends and companions around the world, across borders and frequently beyond the law.”
Grifter- “You're a snake-oil salesman, card shark, or small-time con artist, making your living parting the trusting and naïve from their money.”
Hot Rodder- “You're a lover of great speed, pushing the limit at every opportunity.”
Hunter- “As a weekend deer-hunter of full-time safari captain, you're most alive when you're looking through a scope.”
Icon- “They may not know your name, but they'll never forget your face.”
Instructor- “Others may do, but you're quite happy to teach.”
Investigator- “You spend a lot of time looking into other people's business.”
Jack-of-all-Trades- “... And master of some.”
Journalist- “You're a member of the Fourth Estate: a tabloid muckraker, a handsome talking head, a grimy war correspondent, or another faceless newshound. You've got a nose for truth and a strong sense of duty to ferret it out.”
Mercenary- “You are or were part of a private military, in which you learned many practical applications of violence.”
Motorhead- “You've spend most of your life around engines, sometimes as a driver, more often as a mechanic.”
Operative- “You steal and protect secrets for a living- almost certainly for a national power, major corporation, or rogue organization.”
Outdoorsman- “You'll hike for hours, and have spent many nights out under the stars.”
Pickpocket- “You lift wallets and perform other simple street scams.”
Pilot- “Nothing in the world could replace your joy when flying.”
Playboy- “You believe that the party will last as long as the money does- and for you, it seems like the money will never run out.” (This one gives you a henchman)
Recruit- “A military career has taught you a lot about discipline, honor and duty.”
Rescuer- “Paramedic, fireman, search and rescue expert, or old-fashioned cop, you regularly put your life on the line to save others.”
Researcher- “You may be pushing back the scientific frontier or calling years of legal precedent into question; regardless, you work latter-day miracles every day.”
Sailor- “You cannot resist the siren call of the sea.”
Special Ops- “You've honed skills and served causes that may never be made public.”
Spiritualist- “You know there's more to life than the here and now, what you can see and touch. It's knowledge that give you strength.”
Stranger- “You've scratched the surface of the world's unpleasant truths or peeked behind the veil of modern life to see what's really going on. You might be a cult deprogrammer, a hunter of serial killers, or a student of mysteries man was not meant to understand. Now if only you could get everyone to believe you...”
Student- “You're a college student, journeyman, or other young bright-eyed individual studying the world.”
Suit- “You're a corporate warrior, a high-power paper slinger easily weaving your way through organizations.”
Test Subject- Things have been done to you in the name of science- strange things you may never understand. You might be the product of a government super-soldier program, rogue genetic research, a fringe group's unorthodox child-rearing theory or another bizarre upbringing. You only survived due to your innate toughness, a trait you retain today.”
Thrill-Seeker- “You're an athlete, jaded millionare or perhaps a careless college student, and have survived stunts that should have left you mangled or dead. You're still in the game, living way out on the edge where you're most at home.”
Tradesman- “You were a blue-collar laborer from a working-class background. Your formative years were probably spent in small towns or working-class communities of major cities, and you have extensive training in the industrial arts.”
Tribesman- “You come from a primitive society, bringing a fresh set of eyes to the modern world.”
Wanderer- “You grew up on the road, perhaps in a tribal caravan or with parents who served overseas. Consequently, you acquired a deep-rooted wanderlust and were exposed to a wide array of foreign cultures at a young age.”
Warrior- “You've dedicated yourself to the serious study of traditional fighting arts, becoming a living weapon against whom many opponents simply cannot defend themselves.”

Mechanics referenced but not encountered yet: interests, class skills, knowledge checks, combat tricks, contacts and connect grades, npc grades, focuses and fortes, wound points, weapon proficiencies, lots of different feats and skills, gear picks, request checks, some combat actions.

For a new player, pretty much all of this is meaningless at this point and lots of these are only slightly different from each other. The fact that they're all descriptive does make it easier to choose without knowing any mechanics, though; just pick one that sounds like it describes your character and worry about it later.



First level characters start at 1000 xp, rather than 0; 0 xp is for special classless “zero level” games. Your level determines the number and size of your action dice, the maximum number of ranks you can have in each of the skills, when you earn feats, weapon proficiencies and interests and the number of Subplots you can have active at once.

Every class has a hit die for the vitality points they get every level, but no squishy wizards here; every class gets a minimum of a d8. All the classes get 4 or more skill points per level, further modified by the character's intelligence and with a list of class skills. They also give weapon proficiencies (only for first level) and gear picks (We’ll see gear later, much later). The class tables also describes the Base Attack Bonus, save modifiers, class defense bonus, initiative modifier and wealth each level of each class grants.

One of the standout features here are the Class “Core Ability.” These are special abilities that a character gains from the first Base and Expert classes they take. The Core Ability gives a class an edge at what they do, so a Soldier X/ Scout Y is not the same as a Scout Y/ Soldier X.

The base classes are the Advocate, Explorer, Faceman, Hacker, Intruder, Pointman, Scientists, Scout, Sleuth, Snoop, Soldier and Wheelman.


The Advocate is a diplomat and spokesperson, using their dedication and the force of personality granted by their dedication to get things done.

The Advocate Core Ability allows them to spend and roll an action die and “take 10” on that many checks when they need multiple rolls for a task. The rest of their abilities involve a combination of indomitable drive and making use of friends and allies.


The Explorer is an Indiana Jones-alike, good at going everywhere and being comfortable anywhere.

The Explorer Core Ability allows them to spend an action die and a few hours to find someone who knows someone who has exactly the skills the Explorer needs, pretty much no matter where in the world they are. The other abilities make the Explorer hard to get the drop on and hard to keep down. A fun ability is “The Notebook” where the Explorer writes down all the interesting and unusual things they've encountered, letting them retroactively have prior knowledge applicable to a current problem.


The Faceman is the devious con artist to the Advocates dogged diplomat.

The Faceman Core Ability lets them spend action dice to automatically worse or improve the disposition of an NPC. The other abilities make them masters of disguise and consummate liars, including a high-level ability where they can perfectly imitate another person, and down to an ability that just says, “use their character sheet.”


The Hacker is exactly what it says on the tin: the totally awesome computer techie.

The Hacker Core Ability pimps out one computer with all the Hacker's custom software and the rest of the abilities involve mastery of cyberspace. From first level Hackers can never fail Computer checks with a DC less than their level + 20 without an Error, and they become masterful codebreakers.


The Intruder is a thief and break-in artist.

The Intruder Core Ability makes them especially quick and nimble, doubling the effect of action dice rolled to improve Dexterity based checks. Other abilities make an Intruder super slippery and ensure they’re never without the necessary tools.


The Pointman is a team leader. They can't do anything any of the other classes can do as well, but can focus to act as a replacement in a pinch. Where they really shine is as a force multiplier, coordinating the efforts of everyone.

The Pointman Core Ability allows them to spend and roll their action dice to improve other people's rolls. The rest of the classes' abilities involve helping the other characters and helping them help each other, while their capstone ability allows them to declare a fortuitous coincidence that occurs right when it's needed.


The Scientist is the smarty-pants know-it-all.

The Scientists Core Ability allows the scientists to share some of their expertise, granting a number of their skill feats to the rest of the team. The other Scientist abilities all revolve around being super smart and extremely skilled.


The Scout is the master of the outdoors.

The Scout Core Ability lets the Scout share some of his Terrain feats with teammates. Other abilities allow the Scout to mitigate the dangers and exploit the opportunities of nature and also inflict more damage against unsuspecting enemies with Sneak Attack.


The Sleuth is a detective, using their skills hands-on to figure things out.

The Sleuth Core Abilities doubles any action dice spent to improve any Charisma- or Wisdom-based checks. The rest of the classes' abilities are all about accurately perceiving and analyzing situations. At 10th level, the Sleuth can determine the location of a person, down to a city of 20 square mile area, with just some hours of research and deduction.


The Snoop is the hands-off counterpart of the Sleuth; where Sleuths uses their own talents, Snoops makes use of advanced technology and analysis techniques to acquire information.

The Snoop Core Ability is identical to the Sleuth one, except replace Charisma-based checks with Intelligence ones. Otherwise, their abilities all involve access to, and expert use of, technological tools. From 10th level the Snoop can have a building or area so thoroughly bugged that everything that happens within is recorded.


The Soldier is the Spycraft super kill guy. It suffers from (one of the) the Fighter Problem(s) a little bit; where every class has “a small/moderate amount of combat plus other stuff,” the Soldier pretty much has “a moderate amount of combat plus way more combat.” However, the combat abilities are actually good in a world without reality-bending magic users, so if you really need a motherfucker to die, you want a Soldier to make it happen.

The Soldier Core Ability doubles all Action Dice spent to improve attack rolls, while the other Soldier abilities involve resilience in battle and mastery of weapons, armor and tactics.


The Wheelman drives the car.

The Wheelman Core Ability doubles Action Dice spent on checks for driving and repair, and the Wheelman's bad rolls are harder for the GC to turn into critical failures while driving or repairing. All the rest of the abilities involve squeezing every bit of performance from their vehicles and keeping them in top condition.


Once you pick a class, you decide on your skills. Your class skills determine which skills your class is expected to have, and you’re punished for going outside these skills by them costing double the amount of skill points. Skills are covered in a later chapter.

You also get a feat of your choice at first level.


Next are Interests. Every character gets at least 2. These are things that a character is into, beyond the stuff their class gives them. A character’s interests can give bonuses to related Knowledge checks, action dice spent to improve a related action, checks to improve the disposition of NPCs with the same interests and you can “indulge” your interest to recover from stress damage faster.


Then there are Subplots, which are character-specific story threads that run through the overarching story.

Subplots are chosen at character creation and between missions, and the number of Subplots that a character can have at one times is determined by their level.

Before a mission, the GC can activate up to one subplot per player, to a max of three, to have them come up during the mission. This grants the GC bonus Action Dice. The GC can also make the Subplot more dangerous for even more Action Dice.

At the end of the mission, a character determines if the subplot was completed, gaining some bonus XP. Each Subplot has requirements to complete. If the character did not complete it, they get a small amount of XP and keep it. If they did, they get more XP and mark the Subplot as completed, allowing them to select another one later.

Characters that have reached a certain level and have completed a certain amount of normal subplots can take a special “Crossroads” version of a subplot. These are much more challenging, character-defining events but grant greater benefits. A character can eventually take up to 4 Crossroads subplots, which permanently grants bonus action dice and and up to 10% extra xp, and a title; one crossroads subplot makes them seasoned,a second weathered,a third hardened and four crafty.

Derived Values
There’s lots of derived valued to determine at the end: Your Vitality and Wound points; Stress and Subdual Damage thresholds; different Attack bonuses; Saving Throw bonuses; Defense; Initiative bonus; Knowledge check bonus and gear check bonuses; reputation/net worth; starting languages.


Action Dice
Now we find out just what Action Dice can do. You can spend Action Dice to:
1. Boost a die roll, rolling one or more of your action dice and adding it’s result to another roll. This is subject to some limitations: you can only spend 1 die to boost a damage roll; you can’t improve a roll that boosts an attribute or provided vitality points; some abilities may have exceptions that disallow spending dice to improve them; you can’t boost anything where no die is actually rolled.

Action dice can be spent even after rolling, before determining the result. Action dice also explode whenever their highest result is rolled.

2. Boost your defense, rolling the die and increasing your defense by 2 for that many rounds. This bonus doesn’t stack with itself.

3. Activate a threat, when you score a Threat on a roll (usually by rolling a 20), improving it to a critical success.

4. Activate an opponent’s error when they suffer an Error (usually by rolling a 1), turning it into a critical failure.

5. Outside combat, you can roll a die to gain that many vitality points, or 2 wound points.

6. Make a request check during a mission to acquire a piece of gear in the field. You spend a number of dice and make a check based on the gear to determine if your allies get it to you.

7. Spend some number of dice for a “hail mary,” to make an untrained skill check without the error penalty, remove the result cap on a skill check, or turn a secret or passive check into an active check.

Some abilities let you roll an extra die whenever you spend an action die. However, you can never roll more than 2 action dice at a time, even if you benefit from multiple of these abilities. The GC can give bonus action dice for things like good roleplaying. These extra dice disappear at the end of the session if they’re unspent but grant a little bonus XP just for earning them.

Expert classes are the Spycraft equivalent of D&D prestige classes. The corebook has the Brawler (an unarmed and improvised weapon master), the Cleaner (hides the truth and keeps secrets), the Con Artists (a grifter and scammer), the Counter-Terrorist (elite urban warrior), the Field Analysts (one man CSI team), the Grunt(Heavy weapons guy), the Guide (really gets around the world), the Illuminatus (secret puppet master), the Inventor(gadgeteer and engineering innovator), the Politico (master of backroom deals and secret friendships), the Raptor (sci-fi ninja), the Schemer (skilled planner and strategist), the Sniper (world class marksman), the Stuntman (risk-taker and edge-liver-on), the Tactician (skilled leader and coordinator), the Transporter (gets things from one place to another. Also, the picture resembles Lewis Black driving a speedboat), the Triggerman (John Woo, the class), the Virtuoso (really super mega good with one skill).

Above even these classes are Master classes, which, we are told, will be introduced in future supplements.

And that's Chapter 1, in Chapter 2 we're introduce to the Skill System.

I got Spycraft long before I became interested in lighter, more "streamlined" games and some parts read like really clumsy (accidental) steps towards games like Fate. Take all the "auto-succeed" abilities a lot of classes get; whereas in Fate you would say, "your character has the 'Ultraleet Hacker'/'The Second Coming of Holmes'/'I am to Spies as Einstein to Ants' Aspect, you automatically succeed because you're so amazing." as a general rule vs Spycraft where a handful of classes have special rules that let them do it, but you still have to roll because there's a 5% chance you auto-fail. The Pointmans Serendipity ability basically give player narrative control, except with a billion restrictions so the GC still maintains almost complete control and lots of wiggle room to shut you down.

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 06:53 on Sep 13, 2014

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Ratpick posted:

I'd really appreciate it if you could post a report of your game in either this thread or the Apocalypse World thread, as that seems to be where most of the actual Monsterhearts discussion takes place. For my part, I'll try to get another Skin written up today.

Posted a report of the game over in the Apocalypse World thread. Short version: a Chosen, a Faery, a Ghost, an Infernal, and a Mortal walk into a gaming session. Everyone died but the Ghost, and the Faery and Infernal were directly murdered (with the player's permission) by another PC.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Chapter Seven: A Bestiary of the Three Lands



This is the section of the book detailing not just sample monsters, but rules to create your own adversaries and creatures for campaigns. Like many OSR games, monsters and NPCs abide by different rules than PCs. While they share common traits such as hit points and hit dice, Armor Class, and attack and damage modifiers, they have a more simplified way of doing things. All NPCs and monsters roll d8 for hit dice (the lack of bonus hit points for Consitution is balanced out by the d8); they have a singular Save category which applies to all saving throw-related effects instead of 5 different ones. They have a skill single modifier (ranging from +1 to +4) which applies to things the creature would be skilled at. Finally, we have a Morale ranging from 5-12. A 2d6 is rolled whenever the monster suffers fear effects, the tide of battle turns against them, or similar things; a lower result than the score causes the monster to flee or rout. Naturally, some monsters have Morale 12 (fearless fanatics, mindless creatues, etc) and fight to the death.

And finally, monsters and NPCs might have unique abilities, or limited or even full spellcasting potential.

For example, here's a stat block for the Eloko:

quote:

1 Eloko: AC 6, Move 20’, HD 3, Atk +5/1d6x2 claws, Save 14+,
Morale 8, Skill +2, bells chime as a Nkisi of the Deadened Mind

Short, sweet, simple.

The following page has three sample tables for creating new creatures. The first table divides game stats into rows based upon the monster's role: a Fast Chaser might have a 60' movement (twice as fast as a normal human)and 4 Hit Dice, while a Brutish Meat Slab might have only 20' but 7 Hit Dice. The second and third tables determine typical behavior in combat (loves false retreats, panicked by fire or magic, etc) and special abilities (Leadership grants +2 to attack and morale to allies, etc), both determined by a d20 roll. Of course, you can choose an appropriate feature instead (and the book tells you this).

I really like this monster creation method; the math values for hit dice, saves, etc is in line with the rest of the manual, so it should be consistent.

Creatures of the Three Lands



There are 26 separate entries for monsters and human NPCs in this section, not including variants under the same general entry (such as vipers and pythons which have their own stat blocks under "Snake"). In addition to mundane animals, the bestiary borrows heavily from African folklore instead of rehashing common D&D creatures.

As there are so many creatures, I'm going to give one or sentences for descriptions instead of repeating all their stuff.

Buffalo are strong herd animals of the Yellow Lands. They are incredibly aggressive and will work together to rescue injured and captured herdmates.

Crocodiles hunt among the rivers of the Three Lands. Although known to gather in groups, they rarely work together to bring down prey.

Eloko are 3-feet tall cannibal dwarves with a burning hatred for humanity and love to feast on the flesh of women. They wear bells around their necks which can mesmerize victims with their ringing. Grass grows from their bodies instead of hair, and their nails are long and sharp.



Eternal are the undead survivors of the Sixth Kingdom of Deshur, although they turned many others to an undead state with the spread of their atrocities. The majority of Eternals are but Dreamers barely aware of the world around them, commanded by Nobles and Lords who retain all the skills and intelligence they had in life. It's easy enough to create a Dreamer, but turning a corpse into a Noble or Lord requires very expensive rituals of occult knowledge and relics (10,000 for a Noble, 25,000-50,000 for a Lord and ranks in Occult).

Fanged Apes appear much like their peaceful gorilla counterparts, except with an oversized set of sharp teeth and an eagerness to use clubs and thrown stones as weapons. They love to hunt humans and their favored targets are children, and are most common in the jungles of Lokossa; a few hill-based variants lair in the crags of Kirsi.

Ghosts are incorporeal spirits and undead who are tethered to a limited area in the material world. They are usually the result of a poorly-planned burial or an extreme unwillingness to accept death.

Giants are the tall inhabitants of the Mountains of the Sun. They were fashioned at the dawn of the world before the spirits created humanity; each of them is a unique creation, and their uniqueness combined with their age makes them both arrogant and skilled in many arts, from craftsmanship to war and even the art of ashe. However, they are bitter towards the gods and spirits and can never be marabout. Giants tend to either slumber deep beneath the ground or rule over mountain fortresses, with a retinue of weaker humans and monsters as servants.



Horses are a common feature in the northern Three Lands. Nyala's army makes use of horse-zebra hybrids, scouts for Sokone merchant caravans ride them, and the Kirsi's cavalry are the best in the land. Although horses largely share the same stats, different breeds have unique features: the sturdy hill barbs ignore movement penalty on hill terrain and roll twice per hit die, taking the best result; pit ponies are bred for mine work and never panic underground and nimble enough to go wherever a human can go; Imperial zebras are the pride of the Nyalan Empire and gain +2 hit points per hit die and attack rolls.

Humans of the Three Lands come in all walks of life and occupations, and thus don't have a typical stat block. Instead there are six common types the PCs are likely to meet or fight; commoners, bandits, soldiers, elite soldiers, nobles, and merchants. None of them are impressive stat-wise, with only the noble going above 2 hit dice, and their effectiveness in combat is largely determined by available weapons and armor.



Hyenas are pack scavengers fond of stealing prize kills from larger predators. Humans see this as being against the natural order and view sightings of such animals as an ill omen. In Spears of the Dawn, all Dire animals are spirit versions of their normal counterparts. In the case of Dire hyenas, they're possessed of a wicked intelligence and fond of feasting on human leaders and nobles.

Ilomba, the Witch-Snakes are serpentine servants of the Gods Below. They seek out suitably talented cultist leaders and occult scholars, offering them power in exchange for a symbiotic bond. When a bond is formed, the serpent can take the form of the human and grant them immunity to non-magic weapons and minor spellcasting ability. However, if either the human or Ilomba dies, then both die.

Kishi, also known as the Two-Faced Ones, are evil spirits who take the forms of handsome and beautiful humans with thick braids of hair. They seduce people to accompany them to an isolated location alone, whereupon their head turns around to reveal their second hyena-like maw to eat their new victims! They operate in both rural regions and urban centers, carefully planning their attacks to avoid detection and choosing prey who are unlikely to be found or missed.



Leopards are cunning predators found and feared throughout the Three Lands. They are wary of humans in groups, although they've been known to hunt and eat them in desperate times. They are swift runners and fast climbers, easily able to evade the reach of common hunters and soldiers. Leopard-skin cloaks are viewed as status symbols, and the pelt of the mighty Dire leopard can fetch a high price on the marketplace.

Leopard Cultists are humans who pledge allegiance to malevolent and bestial spirits in exchange for gaining the powers of a leopard. They form secret societies, kidnapping folk to sacrifice to their patrons in exchange for gaining these special abilities. Most cultists are normal humans, but a few adepts blessed by the spirits can transform into leopards or a hybrid form.

Lions are noble felines of the savanna. They hunt wildebeests and zebras, and are even known to take prey claimed by leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas. Statwise they're a lot like leopards except slower, stronger, and tougher. Dire lions are arrogant creatures which seek to become rulers of the land that they survey, and any human settlements falling under their gaze are forced to worship them with human sacrifice or be slaughtered.

Moatia, known as the Dwarf Sorcerers, are short limping folk with a foul disposition. They are famous for their mastery of herbal lore and the magical arts; people seek out their huts deep in the forest to heal some incurable disease or end a plague. Moatia are easily offended and hateful to all living creatures (especially their own kind), and are fond of casting curses at those who don't show them the proper respect.

The Night Men are humanoids who live south of the Akpara River at Lakossa's border. They are hairless and bear all manner of ugly scars and deformities, and crippled Lokossans take to growing their hair extra-long to not be mistaken for a Night Man scout. Night Men live in the ruined cities of the southern jungles, subsisting on strange crops and pend most of their lives fighting each other. Every so often a particularly skilled warchief or priest unites the Night Men to lead a large horde against the Lokossans, embroiling the entire country in prolonged jungle warfare. Nobody knows why they do this or their origins.

Ningiri are reptilian beasts with the body of a crocodile and a long sinuous neck. They often hide their 30 foot long bodies behind cover while their head quickly snatches any surprised prey. They are of animal intelligence, but very cunning and dangerous.

Obia are hulking, jackal-like spirit-beasts who are hired by witches to serve as household guards and to kidnap women for wives (no respectable father will allow his children to marry a witch). Their grip is so sure that a successful attack grapples and immobilizes a target.

Rhinos are tough-as-nails beasts of the savannas and grassland, fond of charging anything they consider a threat (which includes a great many things). A sick or injured bull rhino can be devastating to a village, viciously fighting to the bitter end heedless of its survival.

Humans often call the rodent-like Rompo "singing jackals," even though it bears little resemblance to such a creature. They haunt graveyards and tombs, surviving off of the rotting flesh of humans as it sings sweetly and softly. They're intelligent as a human, and often hide bodies of murdered folk to feast upon later. In groups they might even adopt the use of tools and weapons and wear clothing obtained from corpses, and their united melodies can mesmerize those who listen to them.

Sasabonsam are winged people who lair in jungles and high mountain peaks. They nimbly snatch traveling humans off the ground to carry back to their lairs to sacrifice to their bat-like gods. Those few survivors tell that their cavernous aeries are home to evil nganga working with them, and a few are certain that the Moatia are their leaders. Sasabonsam can wield objects and weapons in their talonlike feet, and can be motivated to work with evil humans with sufficient promise of reward.



The Three Lands contain countless breeds of snakes, but the ones detailed in the Bestiary are regarded the most dangerous to humans. Giant vipers can grow as big as a man and their poison can bring down an adult buffalo. The black python, which can grow up to 20 feet in length, crushes its prey with mighty constrictions. The assassin snake possesses an alien intellect, and accepts blood sacrifices from worshipers of the Gods Below to sneak into a hated foes' houses to poison and kill them.

The Umthali are a race of humanoid serpent folk descended from Gods Below-worshiping mortals whose blood mingled with that of snakes. They constructed many grand and terrible cities while humanity was freshly created, and in the days of recorded history only one city remained. This city went to war with Sokone's ancestors and lost, and now the remaining Umthali live in scattered cells. A few Umthali are accomplished nganga or marabout, and those who can pass for human often worm their way into human centers of power.

Walking Corpses are possessed by angered souls unable to escape, lashing out at their inability to depart to the spirit world. Like ghosts, they're often created as the result of improper burials and linger around the places of their death. Fun fact: the concept of the zombie originated in African folklore.

Witches are humans who possess the potential for working ashe, but are either unaware of it or did not receive the proper training to become a nganga. They are both male and female and can be found wherever humans gather. Witches are capable of casting minor spells and rituals, but are oftentimes uncontrolled and manifest from unconscious desires. Due to this, villages and towns make an effort to recruit ngangas to properly train witches so that they don't inadvertently harm their neighbors and family.

Witches are capable of being self-taught, the most infamous rivaling the powers of learned nganga. The temptation to use one's powers is great, for it takes only a moment's thought to inflict a harmful spell with a wrathful thought, and most witches hide their powers out of fear and shame. It's possible for a nganga to "cure" a witch of their powers with a curse-removal spell, although said witch must genuinely want to be rid of the burden.

Libertad's Thoughts: The bestiary is both well-sized and diverse, and should provide GMs with plenty of adversarial fodder and a useful system to create their own creatures and NPCs.

Next time Chapter 8: Treasures and their uses!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I've only played Spycraft 1.0 (2.0 was entirely too spergy for my group) but one of the big differences between the Soldier and the D&D Fighter is that the Soldier really, *really* is the best at combat compared to the other classes. Everyone else can help, but the Soldier is often enough to turn a combat encounter on his own and that helps a lot compared to the Fighter. They get actual spotlight moments when poo poo has gone bad and the team goes 'poo poo, send in our military escort!' and then tons of dudes get mowed down with a machine gun.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

It helps that Spycraft doesn't really have a "wizard" class that gets 100 different ways to invalidate the rules that they can shuffle around after a nap.

Spycraft is one of those games that I recognize as being a fairly well-designed game, especially for being a d20 derivative...one thing you can't accuse it of is being a quick-and-dirty cash grab like a lot of d20 shovelware...but these days it's just too much fiddly stuff for me. Like this right here:

ThisIsNoZaku posted:

Mechanics referenced but not encountered yet: interests, class skills, knowledge checks, combat tricks, contacts and connect grades, npc grades, focuses and fortes, wound points, weapon proficiencies, lots of different feats and skills, gear picks, request checks, some combat actions.

is one of the worst things about Spycraft. It heaps tons of stuff on you if you try to knuckle down and plow your way through this dense tome of interconnected rules that play off each other and you're basically forced to flip to and fro to piece it all together in your head because, like ThisIsNoZaku says, character creation opens up with a few familiar concepts (like D&D stat arrangement) and then promptly launches into a huge list of characteristics which themselves reference a dozen different things that won't be explained until later in various chapters.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Kai Tave posted:

It helps that Spycraft doesn't really have a "wizard" class that gets 100 different ways to invalidate the rules that they can shuffle around after a nap.

Spycraft is one of those games that I recognize as being a fairly well-designed game, especially for being a d20 derivative...one thing you can't accuse it of is being a quick-and-dirty cash grab like a lot of d20 shovelware...but these days it's just too much fiddly stuff for me. Like this right here:


is one of the worst things about Spycraft. It heaps tons of stuff on you if you try to knuckle down and plow your way through this dense tome of interconnected rules that play off each other and you're basically forced to flip to and fro to piece it all together in your head because, like ThisIsNoZaku says, character creation opens up with a few familiar concepts (like D&D stat arrangement) and then promptly launches into a huge list of characteristics which themselves reference a dozen different things that won't be explained until later in various chapters.

Of all the mega:spergin: games I've either personally encountered or heard about, Spycraft seems like the best, but it is very much still a mega:spergin: game.

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

Who Knew?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAvug-z7lqM

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I really love how Fantasycraft / Spycraft 2.0 handles crit activation, though. It essentially removes, as a GM, the random fuckery that plagues a lot of D&D-style systems, where random damage spikes will just murder PCs outright. You can still do that if you want, but it gives the GM options.

How crits are handled gets to be problematic at high levels, though...

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


I'm guessing that crits go directly against wounds rather than multiplying damage - I kinda like that. That way, a crit is a bullet that actually hits you. That's probably why Star Wars D20 Revised had armour only reduce damage versus wounds; not versus vitality. And, of course, it emphasises that being shot really sucks and should be avoided at all costs.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


hectorgrey posted:

I'm guessing that crits go directly against wounds rather than multiplying damage - I kinda like that. That way, a crit is a bullet that actually hits you. That's probably why Star Wars D20 Revised had armour only reduce damage versus wounds; not versus vitality. And, of course, it emphasises that being shot really sucks and should be avoided at all costs.

It's not a bad system in and of itself, but the issue becomes - in my experience of running Fantasy Craft - that as you go up in level, since vitality increases but wounds rarely do... that getting a crit becomes the be-all end-all of combat. Ironically, that means crits go up in value as you level, but moreover, you get access to class abilities and feats that also increase the amount of times you crit (particularly soldiers) and reduce the cost of activating crits. At high levels, combat just becomes waiting for the crit.

What makes it frustrating in Fantasy Craft is that there's only two ways monsters offset this - Monstrous something something, which reduces the crit range of anybody attacking them, or the Tough ability, which allows them to deny X crits a session. It can work if you're wanting a villain or monsters to not get one-shotted in a turn, but it's annoying as a GM to stare down players and just be like "nope, that crit has no effect". There's no better way to irritate players than to deny their highlight moments, really.

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

I like :spergin: game systems and I know I'm not alone. Fiddling with numbers and tables just feels so right. That said, the organization of Spycraft 2.0's rulebook is a tradeoff on usability and and flow. I can see why they made some of their layout decisions, but the fact is, it's a huge loving book (460+ pages IIRC) filled with a poo poo-ton of information and that alone will cause problems.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


I have to be honest, the problem of waiting for the crit seems to be just as big a problem as gradually whittling down an opponent's hp at high level. I mean, even if you don't crit their vitality is eventually going to run out anyway, at which point any hit they take is as good as a crit. The only real way to avoid it is to introduce other things into the fight to make it more interesting. That, and I'm assuming that your mooks don't tend to have vitality - the vast majority of NPCs really shouldn't.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


hectorgrey posted:

I have to be honest, the problem of waiting for the crit seems to be just as big a problem as gradually whittling down an opponent's hp at high level. I mean, even if you don't crit their vitality is eventually going to run out anyway, at which point any hit they take is as good as a crit. The only real way to avoid it is to introduce other things into the fight to make it more interesting. That, and I'm assuming that your mooks don't tend to have vitality - the vast majority of NPCs really shouldn't.

You guessed right. Instead they have a weird subsystem where they make Fort saves against damage or die in one. One of many ways Spycraft 2.0 is :spergin:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


hectorgrey posted:

I have to be honest, the problem of waiting for the crit seems to be just as big a problem as gradually whittling down an opponent's hp at high level.

Not quite, in my experience. The ability to do crits starts to outpace normal hits to such a point that the increased vitality of foes at high levels actually becomes an academic issue. Enemies of the normal threat level (even enemies with a higher threat level, it barely matters) start going down a lot faster than they do at lower levels. Given the math, it can easily get to the point that enemies (who aren't mooks) are so rarely taken down by vitality damage, you may as well not track it, because the now-dominant crits are practically the only things that count.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


Night10194 posted:

You guessed right. Instead they have a weird subsystem where they make Fort saves against damage or die in one. One of many ways Spycraft 2.0 is :spergin:

OK, that's kinda... odd. I'd have thought they'd have gone for what Star Wars d20 revised did; PCs and major NPCs get vitality and wounds; minor NPCs just get wounds. Since armour only reduced damage to wounds, a major NPC wearing decent armour could take a crit or two but keep fighting, and then lose to vitality loss - and given that even the weaker weapons were throwing around 3d6 of damage (with a decent battle rifle doing 4d8 if memory serves), that vitality could go down pretty quickly.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Just dropping a note that Rifts Mercenaries is now indexed on the wiki!

My obsessive compulsions are now appeased. :D

Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.



Time for the penultimate Skin and one of my favorites, the Werewolf.



The Werewolf is an interesting Skin. Its theme seems to be one of wanting control but also losing it. Basically, the Werewolf is the impulsive teenager who struggles to control their own emotions and lashes out at those close to them, in so doing bullying them into submission. If the Vampire is the withholding and passive-aggressive partner, the Werewolf is the one who is a bit too loyal and clingy and prone to violent fits of jealousy, not necessarily excluding physical abuse. That's just my reading of it though, and if anyone else has an alternate reading on them I'd very much like to hear it.

Like with vampires, there are lots of divergent werewolf myths, not all of which agree on what exactly sets off the werewolf's transformation. The fact that the Werewolf's Darkest Self can trigger at any time implies that it is entirely possible for them to go wolfman even without the influence of the full moon. Whether they can actually transform at will is up to the MC and the players, though.

One thing I haven't really been addressing with the other Skins is the origin bit given in each Skin, but with the Werewolf a couple of them stand out: possible origins for the Werewolf include stuff like born a wolf, raised by wolves, ancestral power, awoken, bitten and favoured by the moon. So, a mix of traditional (bitten) and more esoteric (raised by wolves, born a wolf).

As far as Stats go the Werewolf has the same spread as the Chosen: 1 Hot and Volatile, -1 Cold and Dark. So the Werewolf is alluring and sexy, but at the same time prone to fight or flight, which given the Wolf part of the Skin makes perfect sense.

As far as Moves go, the Werewolf gets to choose two:

Scent of Blood allows you to add 1 to rolls against those who have been harmed in this scene already. Note that this is any roll: given that this is Monsterhearts, you could arguably use this move to add 1 to turn someone on while applying medical care to them after they got hurt in a scene. I just have this image stuck to my head of a Werewolf ripping off their shirt to turn it into a gauze in order to staunch someone's bleeding. If you remember the healing and recovery rules of the game, if you describe the act of applying medical care to someone in a sexually charged manner, it actually heals one extra harm. So, yeah.

Unstable is one of those moves that rewards you for driving your character towards a certain type of narrative: since the Werewolf is all about losing control, with this move you get to mark experience whenever your Darkest Self triggers.

Primal Dominance gives you a String whenever you harm someone. Yeah, remember what I said about bullying people into submission?

Uncontainable allows you to try and escape any kind of physical entrapment by rolling Volatile. On a 10+ you escape, on a 7-9 the MC will offer you a hard bargain, and if you accept you will escape.

Bare Your Fangs is another interesting stat-switch move: whenever you're in your Darkest Self, you can roll Volatile instead of Cold to shut someone down or hold steady. Basically, when you go Wolfman, you're so uncontrollable that you can freak people out with ease and are hard to freak out yourself. Again, this move encourages you to trigger your Darkest Self when going into a situation where you either need to emotionally hurt someone or where you know your character might otherwise flinch.

Howl at the Moon covers for the Werewolf's low Dark score: whenever you're basked in moonlight, you get to add 2 to your Dark. So, if you pick this move, expect to do... well, a lot of howling at the moon to trigger gazing into the abyss.

Heightened Senses is the closest thing that Monsterhearts has to AW's read a sitch move: when you rely on your animal instincts to make sense of a charged situation, roll with Dark. (Yeah, this is where howl at the moon might come in handy.) On a 10+ you get to ask the MC three questions and if you act one of the answers you get to add 1 to your first roll. On a 7-9 you just ask one.
  • Where's my best escape route or way in?
  • Which enemy is most vulnerable to me?
  • What's their secret weakness?
  • What poses the biggest threat to me?
  • Who's in control here?
Spirit Armor reduces 1 harm from you whenever you're basked in moonlight. Also, you get to add 2 to your hold steady rolls.

There's a lot of interesting thematic ground here: if you want to relish the opportunity to lose control and roll Volatile for everything forever, pick unstable and bare your fangs. If you want to gain power through hurting others and then hurt them even more when they're down, pick scent of blood and primal dominance. If you want to nag the MC about whether the moon is out and be surprisingly perceptive for a Werewolf, pick howl at the moon and heightened senses.

As an advancement, the Werewolf can choose to belong to a Wolf Pack.

The Werewolf has one of the sweetest in the sense of not being immediately horrible Sex Moves in the game:

Sex Move posted:

When you have sex with someone, you establish a spirit connection with them. Until either of you breaks that spirit connection, by having sex with someone else, add 1 to all rolls made to defend them. You can tell when that connection has been broken.

However, their Darkest Self more than makes up for any accidental good feelings brought up by the Sex Move:

Darkest Self posted:

You transform into a terrifying wolf-creature. You crave power and dominance, and those are earned through bloodshed. If anyone attempts to stand in your way, they must be brought down and made to bleed. You escape your Darkest Self when you wound someone you really care about or the sun rises, whichever happens first.

So, as I said: the Werewolf is fiercely loyal, but constantly ready to snap, and when they do snap they're more than likely to snap at those closest to them. And that's horrible.

Anyway, next up we've got the last of the main Skins, the Witch. However, after I'm done with that I might take a stab at the three limited edition skins, the Angel (for straddling the lines between Heaven and Hell), the Hollow (basically an artificial person with no identity, struggling to find their own self) and the Serpentine (for a bit of Southern Gothic, plus snakes), or just go straight to the MC section of the game. Whichever people think is most interesting at this point.

Gazetteer
Nov 22, 2011

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

The Werewolf seemed like it was a bit all over the place for a while, until I realised that literally all of its moves make it more effective while in darkest self or work off of its darkest self. All of the ones about rewarding violent or dominant behavior are going to activate while they're running around and mauling people, especially if you're doing this at night (which you frequently will, because the darkest self ends at sunrise). It's funny that you mention using Scent of Blood in a situation where the Werewolf is helping someone who has been hurt. The move definitely works in situations like, coming in to protect someone who someone else has beaten up, or being able to dominate people who you've punched in the face, but it also has a lot of synergy with the werewolf's darkest self. You come out of your darkest self when you wound someone you really care about, and if you have scent of blood... you then get a bonus to any rolls against them to try and smooth things over. The Werewolf and the Mortal work really well together. (Or really terribly, depending on your perspective).

Ratpick posted:

the Angel (for straddling the lines between Heaven and Hell)
That's kind of a weird way to describe it. The Angel is a kid who has been kicked out of or run away from their strict and probably religious home. They are struggling with whether to fall back into what their upbringing taught them, or to try and deliberately deviate from it half out of spite. The default assumption is that it's literally heaven they fell from, but the struggle is more like... conformity versus defiance, rather than heaven versus hell.

Gazetteer fucked around with this message at 20:01 on Sep 15, 2014

Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.

Gazetteer posted:

That's kind of a weird way to describe it. The Angel is a kid who has been kicked out of or run away from their strict and probably religious home. They are struggling with whether to fall back into what their upbringing taught them, or to try and deliberately deviate from it half out of spite. The default assumption is that it's literally heaven they fell from, but the struggle is more like... conformity versus defiance, rather than heaven versus hell.

Yeah, you just gave away the big metaphor behind the Angel, but you're absolutely right: while literally the Angel is about having been kicked out of Heaven and their ongoing conflict is between doing your own thing or subjugating yourself to divine mandate, on the level of "All monsters in Monsterhearts are metaphors for teenage issues" the Angel is pretty much a kid rebelling against their upbringing (or alternately, coming to terms with it). I mean, one of the moves literally allows you to gaze into Heaven, go "gently caress you, dad!" and gain some insight into what the Lord fears the most from you.

As far as the Werewolf working well with the Mortal, absolutely: the Mortal is all about being in a codependent relationship, the Werewolf is about being a jealous and controlling lover, the Mortal's story is about revealing the worst in people (i.e. their Darkest Selves) while the Werewolf is all about hurting people in their worst moments. Finally, the Werewolf's Darkest Self potentially ends when they hurt someone they love, and the Mortal cherishes being able to forgive people for hurting them.

I might even go so far as to say that the Werewolf and Mortal are basically made for each other, just like the Chosen and Infernal are.

e: To add to my first point: I would actually argue that the conflict between Heaven and Hell could easily be portrayed in terms of conformity versus defiance. At least a number of popular myths support that reading.

Ratpick fucked around with this message at 20:44 on Sep 15, 2014

echopapa
Jun 2, 2005

El Presidente smiles upon this thread.

Ratpick posted:

Anyway, next up we've got the last of the main Skins, the Witch. However, after I'm done with that I might take a stab at the three limited edition skins, the Angel (for straddling the lines between Heaven and Hell), the Hollow (basically an artificial person with no identity, struggling to find their own self) and the Serpentine (for a bit of Southern Gothic, plus snakes), or just go straight to the MC section of the game. Whichever people think is most interesting at this point.

I’ve enjoyed hearing about the skins so far and would like to know about the limited edition skins.

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012

SO EMBARRASSING



Ratpick posted:

Scent of Blood allows you to add 1 to rolls against those who have been harmed in this scene already. Note that this is any roll: given that this is Monsterhearts, you could arguably use this move to add 1 to turn someone on while applying medical care to them after they got hurt in a scene. I just have this image stuck to my head of a Werewolf ripping off their shirt to turn it into a gauze in order to staunch someone's bleeding. If you remember the healing and recovery rules of the game, if you describe the act of applying medical care to someone in a sexually charged manner, it actually heals one extra harm. So, yeah.

I don't know if :thejoke:, but this actually happened in one of the Twilight movies. I'm glad that moment made it into Monsterhearts because it is great.

Hwurmp
May 20, 2005

I LIKE TO MAKE VAGUE THREATS TO PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET BECAUSE I AM TOUGH GUY. P.S. ASK ME ABOUT THE TIME A GIRL BEAT ME UP IN GRADE SCHOOL. HER NAME WAS SUZIE SHE DREW A BIG WEINER ON MY FOREHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monsterhearts looks really neat, but I couldn't even imagine trying to assemble a decent group from the usual D&D beardies down at the game store.

Ratpick
Oct 9, 2012

And no one ate dinner that night.

pospysyl posted:

I don't know if :thejoke:, but this actually happened in one of the Twilight movies. I'm glad that moment made it into Monsterhearts because it is great.

I... actually did not know that. Which makes it really creepy. Why do I have an image from the Twilight films stuck in my head when I've never, to the best of my knowledge, seen a single one of them? :psyduck:

Hwurmp
May 20, 2005

I LIKE TO MAKE VAGUE THREATS TO PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET BECAUSE I AM TOUGH GUY. P.S. ASK ME ABOUT THE TIME A GIRL BEAT ME UP IN GRADE SCHOOL. HER NAME WAS SUZIE SHE DREW A BIG WEINER ON MY FOREHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because it's an image that jumps readily to mind when you think "tawdry teen romance but with monsters," and Twilight was not very creative.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



echopapa posted:

I’ve enjoyed hearing about the skins so far and would like to know about the limited edition skins.

Agreed. My gaming group had a good amount of fun (and from the reactions of the AW thread, significantly more carnage than is typical of the game) running MH as a one-off for a lark, and we all felt the skins were interesting and well done. I'd enjoy hearing about more.

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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

Alien Rope Burn posted:

If anybody wants to pick up that work from DDP, I'm seeing who to inquire with about getting a wiki account these days. I can't imagine anybody wants that burden, but any work put towards ensuring the indexing continues would be appreciated.

Maybe we can make it more of a self-service deal?

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