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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
It should be noted that for the most part, After the Bomb PCs have very little way of dealing with the Empire's technology. Maybe if they get their own tank or a six-pack of rocket launchers they can at least fight their foes, but as far as starting PCs go, there's no realistic way for PCs to fight power suits and jet fighters. It's not as bad as Rifts and mega-damage, but it's seriously daunting.


Jun 3, 2012

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It should be noted that for the most part, After the Bomb PCs have very little way of dealing with the Empire's technology. Maybe if they get their own tank or a six-pack of rocket launchers they can at least fight their foes, but as far as starting PCs go, there's no realistic way for PCs to fight power suits and jet fighters. It's not as bad as Rifts and mega-damage, but it's seriously daunting.

The obvious answer is to sneak up on the Empire guys and STEAL their stuff. I mean, come on. It's a giant tank. PCs GOTTA take that poo poo.

Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Esser-Z posted:

The obvious answer is to sneak up on the Empire guys and STEAL their stuff. I mean, come on. It's a giant tank. PCs GOTTA take that poo poo.

I have played that adventure and done exactly that. The MEB is basically candy to a player party. I think we even hocked the battle suits because there was some small part of our hindbrains that told us that we had spent all that time managing BIO-E to play mutant animals, not just run around in power armor.

Nov 26, 2008

Lipstick Apathy

Part 2: Rich (Vampire) Dad, Poor (Vampire) Dad

Let’s talk about experience costs. Some would probably think we should talk about the clans since we talked about the different sects last update. We’ll cover the XP costs because it will go into the costs of disciplines and why some clans are just better than others.

The MET games have a very similar setup compared to their tabletop counterparts but a bit simpler. Generally a player is going to be getting about 5 XP a month and that’s usually after playing one to two times a month. If you play in the Camarilla or Mind’s Eye Society, you can see how Member Class (MC) is a big deal. Someone who is established within the organization can usually start up a character with almost a year’s worth of XP and is accruing XP at the same rate as all other players. XP costs are as follows,

This is actually better than some of the other books' XP charts which omit costs for things like willpower.

Most things in game outside of out of disciplines are usually affordable with a month’s worth of XP. As you can see, abilities and traits are one point each. Usually people max these out at character creation with flaws, you’re normally allowed 7pts of flaws in most games. You usually have enough willpower at character creation and don’t need to buy more after the fact but can. Humanity is usually fine as well unless you’re a screw up or you’re converting to a path other than humanity, which you have to buy up.

Disciplines are the big point sink, especially ones like thaumaturgy or necromancy but thaumaturgy is so broken at times that it doesn’t even matter. Out of clan disciplines are disciplines not part of your clan’s discipline list and are more expensive. You usually have to get someone to teach you these disciplines and if it’s a special in clan discipline, they probably won’t teach you it unless you cash in a big boon. For instance to learn quietus outside of the Assamite clan they have to mess up on a hit that you put out, which is rare. Displaying use of a clan specific discipline can also get you into trouble with that clan if you don’t have a good reason for knowing it. For example, displaying thaumaturgy when you’re from a clan other than Tremere is a good way to get yourself reduced to ash. The Tremere don’t teach thaumaturgy outside of the clan and they’re so organized that they know all the people who would be allowed to learn it. You’d also be screwed if you got it from diablerie because it requires teachers and an occult library specializing in thaumaturgy to learn it. We’ll get into the particulars of thaumaturgy and necromancy once we talk about disciplines but if you’re familiar with tabletop it works about the same way.

The most important factor at character creation as you can see is your clan. For this reason you get some questionable character concepts because the player is working from the power set as a concept instead of the clan as a concept. The biggest offenders in this regard are usually Tremere players who play characters who would not have been embraced by the clan. You could argue that with a great backstory anything is possible, you’re wrong by the way, but the Tremere are the Google of vampire clans and they’re very particular with who they choose. They have a strict clan code they have to follow, a pyramid like structure with ranks, and even telepathic conferences. They’re probably not going to embrace a pyromaniac whose only ambition and knowledge is setting things on fire.

Man can hope, dream even, and sometimes his dreams can come true.

Next up: MET disciplines, like your tabletop disciplines but different.

RocknRollaAyatollah fucked around with this message at 03:14 on Dec 9, 2014

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012


Alien Rope Burn posted:

NSFW, but: here you go.

Some people take the "Universal" idea in GURPS a little more seriously than most.


Advantage: Frigid (women only)

Disadvantage: Bisexual


Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
I admit I couldn't read it closely, because it was NSFW. :rolleyes:

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012


I'm taking a hiatus! I was already taking a year+ hiatus from my MERP review, which I really do intend to finish, honest. My hiatus from this hiatus is a working vacation, where I review a gift from a TG Secret Santa. No, not Warbirds. I got that this year! This game is from last year, and also it's really short so it'll be all in one post. When I received this gift, I was eager to give it a try. It's short, you pick it up pretty quickly, and it looked simple and interesting enough to blow through a couple hours here or there. I felt kind of guilty not getting around to F&Fing it, because my Santa seemed interested in what I thought of it.

Embarrassingly, I can't dig up the old thread and I've forgotten who it was. :sweatdrop: Well, here we go.

I couldn't find a good picture online, so have one from my phone.

This little 12-page booklet opens with a story of boredom. The author and her friends are waiting for more friends to arrive to begin an "Epic Tabletop Game Weekend", and she wants to fill the void with a non-fighty game. Unsatisfied with available options, she created Alien Summit.

The core premise is this: There are four "major" races in the galaxy, and there's some problem they need resolved through a diplomatic meeting. They choose Earth as their meeting place, because it's a pre-light speed backwater that's considered neutral ground. Plus the Host, the GM, or mediator of galactic disputes, has apparently been roughing it and is already on Earth.

Our first step to actually playing is for the Host to deal some cards from a normal deck. You've got your Race Card, which determines what alien race you play, and it lays face up in front of you. You also get five Quirk Cards in a private hand. If you don't like your Race Card, you can swap it with one of your Quirk Cards. If you don't like one or more of your Quirk Cards, you can discard and get dealt back up to five, once.

Should your Race Card be Hearts, you're Tokwa. They're communists who live underground next to magma rivers. They've got pale skin, but are usually so covered in soot they all look the same shade of black. They worship Iffua, a mermaid who swims in molten rock and who might just be a hallucination from all the drugs they take. Sometimes, one of them takes an extra dose and becomes a Prophet.

Hapnith live in bunny burrows under the roots of trees, and that's what you are if your Raced Card is Spades. They go out into the fields during the day, to do…whatever. None of any of this is very clear, which might be a good jumping off point if it didn't feel like there was a clash between "galactic confederation" and "fantasy wood nymphs." Oh, speaking of nymphs, these guys revere forest spirits. They're a democracy with an elected leader, and their society also has a separate monastic order that's respected and "given wide berth" by everyone else.

The Marsec are who you represent if your Race Card is Clubs. They live in cool, wet caverns, sort of an in-between of the Tokwa and Hapnith. Also, they're just straight up hippies, only they're Space Ur-Hippies, because they're aliens like everyone else and they invented narcotics. Literally the first species to discover narcotics, as if that even really makes sense in a way that matters. They have a monarch but mostly live in anarchistic bliss because they just want to love everyone and create art (and get blitzed).

Finally, if you draw Diamonds as your Race Card you're Fasinn. They're the only aliens who don't live underground. Instead, they're nomads. Sort of. They have one city where all the women live, where they raise kids and do science and stuff. The men roam outside in nomadic bands. A precise but unspecified number of men are allowed inside each night. Remember, this is one of four major alien races that make up a galaxy-spanning civilization, and not some half-baked fantasy plop.

Here's how the Fasinn's description ends :v:


Far outside the city, mixed nomad groups roam. When members of these groups show

Each Race Card confers three "powers." The first is actually a cultural belief that just shapes your characterization. Tokwa admire strength, Hapnith think "seeing is believing", Marsec have faith that everyone is fundamentally good, and Fasinn think everyone should "stop and smell the roses" but also will do anything to anyone to get what they want. Uh, alright!

The second power of the Race Card is, uh, to "play the Race Card." Ha ha. It outlines a stereotype about your alien species that others believe, and if someone invokes the stereotype, you can "play the Race Card" by calling them out on their poo poo. Doing so means they owe you a favor. You can do this twice per game. Every stereotype is formatted as "Oh, so just because I'm $species means I'll do $bad_thing to turn your kids into $stereotype."

While there are some ups and downs elsewhere in this tiny game, this is definitely the lowest point. It's an awful pun and a stupid, offensive idea. :sigh:

The third power of your Race Card is some direct, remarkable thing that you can do with other people once per game. The preamble to this talks about it being physical, but they're all magic-y, mental powers. :shrug: The Tokwa can decide new emotional contexts (turn trust into mistrust, etc.) for the feelings a target has toward two specific groups. These "groups" can be multiple people with a common trait, or just one other person. Hapnith can force someone to tell the truth. Marsec can telepathically communicate ideas to any number of people at any distance, but each person can only receive a message that could be spoken with a single breath. At last, the Fasinn can command someone to refrain from performing a specific function for 24 hours, like walking, eating, or speaking. They're specifically prohibited from telling someone to stop breathing or otherwise forcing suicide.

Each Quirk Card denotes a specific fact about your character, based on its value; face cards have four different effects, and which one you get is based on your race. Some of these seem interesting enough, like "Perfect Memory", or "Jargon", the latter of which lets you speak in a way that seems normal, but secretly communicates other ideas to selected targets. Others are not so great, even actively annoying, like "Think Time" where you have to take at least three seconds to think before saying anything, or "Cryptic Brevity" which makes it so you can only speak four words before having to wait for someone else to speak.

Face cards are much more interesting, because they tell you a lot more about your character and there's a lot less "this will never come up" or "you must actively annoy everyone else." There's some theme to each kind of face card, like how Jacks are mostly you worrying about or struggling against something, while Kings say something about you that imposes on other people. These introduce some good personality conflicts into the game.

If you take the Joker as your Race Card, you're a Human, probably roped into all this by the Host for some reason. At least, that's what I think the rules say. This is actually covered under Quirks, and it's conveyed in one pretty unclear sentence. No mention is made of what happens when you have face Quirk Cards.

Finally, you discard down to three Quirk Cards. If you swapped out your Race Card, you can't discard your original one.

Suddenly, we come to a combat system that is honestly surprisingly complex. It's also bad. Everyone starts off enumerating their Advantages, like "I have the high ground", "I will fight with religious fervor", or "My pistol has a laser sight." You act in order and number of Advantages, meaning that the more creative person just gets to do more, and do it earlier. You convert each Advantage into Actions, like the following:

• Convert one Advantage to attack someone. You have to describe this in subject, verb, object fashion—"I hit Max in the shoulder"—because gently caress you, I guess. This is a bizarrely anti-creativity part of the game. Your target can burn two of their Advantage to defend, negating your attack, and further screwing them over against higher-Advantage players.

• You can convert X Advantage into setting up a defense before you're attacked, where X+1 becomes the amount of Advantage someone else must burn to be able to attack you. And then you can, presumably, burn two more to negate the attack anyway. Exciting!

• You can interrupt another's action by burning three Advantage. You may need to burn more to do something complex. This may seem incredibly vague, but I'm only summarizing a tiny bit.

And that's the combat system! A successful attack inflicts "broken bones, humiliation, or death." There's no actual resolution mechanic here, it's just an out-of-place intiative/action point system with almost nothing at all beyond that.

The final page starts off as a sort of personal-sounding "This is how I envision the game…" from the author, and then launches into some very brief, inoffensive GMing advice like "draw cards to create the Host like a player would" and "make the characters' Quirks come up in the story."


This could've been a pretty good party-game pamphlet. Instead, it's too long because the author wanted to write more than she should have. The crunchier parts of her system are the worst, and actively hinder the playing of the game. I really like the basic premise of drawing cards to outline your character, but most of them will give you useless or annoying traits. Then there's the combat "system" which barely does anything, and what it does actually do, it's bad at. The tone of the race descriptions is just plain inconsistent. The cultural broad strokes at the beginning of the book all read like slightly atypical medieval fantasy races, while the game's premise and everything else, including the species' super powers, are decidedly sci-fi.

However, it's very easy to extract the good parts of the game and have fun with it. You could just read up through the Quirks section and go have a ball. That's what we did the second time we played, because "alien diplomats with randomly assigned characterizations" is a lot more interesting than "racist stereotypes" and "lovely Shadowrun action points." I think the best part of the game is getting you to try something different, and it does do that.

Half a good book seems to be what you can expect out of most RPGs, even if they're only a dozen pages long. Luckily, my Santa also sent me Dungeon World!

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 09:13 on Dec 11, 2014

Jul 19, 2007

For reasons, I now have a full run of Palladium's TMNT.

I know Eldad Assarach is already ploughing through all of this nonsense, but I am sorely tempted to dig into the insanity of Transdimensional TMNT, unless there are any objections.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Lately I realized that I've utterly slacked off on doing reviews; the last thing I posted for Torg was back at the end of February and I started it in April 2013 for gently caress's sake.

I've been going through my old posts and I've been finding mistakes and things I'd like to fix/update/rework.

Would anyone have a problem with me starting the Torg review over from scratch, redoing my old posts?

The Deleter
May 22, 2010
Would anyone be interested in me looking at some third-party playbooks for Apocalypse World? There's a whole bevy of them out there, some pretty good and some really dumb, and I think it'd be interesting to go through some of them and see which is which and where the failures are. I'd do about ten or so because there's so many of them, but that number can change depending on interest.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012


I would like to see that.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

ForkBanger posted:

I know Eldad Assarach is already ploughing through all of this nonsense, but I am sorely tempted to dig into the insanity of Transdimensional TMNT, unless there are any objections.

Evil Mastermind posted:

Would anyone have a problem with me starting the Torg review over from scratch, redoing my old posts?

The Deleter posted:

Would anyone be interested in me looking at some third-party playbooks for Apocalypse World?

:ssh: :justpost:

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
I don't hate most of the third-party AW playbooks as much as I hate third-party MH skins, but I look forward to hating some playbooks a fair bit.

Nov 22, 2011

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

The Deleter posted:

Would anyone be interested in me looking at some third-party playbooks for Apocalypse World? There's a whole bevy of them out there, some pretty good and some really dumb, and I think it'd be interesting to go through some of them and see which is which and where the failures are. I'd do about ten or so because there's so many of them, but that number can change depending on interest.

If I'm allowed to ramble about skins for the skinless for thousands of words I don't think anyone's going to complain about you doing that.

Caustic Soda
Nov 1, 2010
And if people don't like it, they can always skip your posts and/or the quotes. Lord knows I stuck to reading the commentary on the Wick guy, because I couldn't stand the near-lethal amounts of smug oozing from the mans writing. Reading 'around' his work, as it were, was all the excitement I could handle.
edit: to clarify, I had no problem with the Wick thing being posted and commented, I just treated the commentary as readable and the original text as Youtube comments.

Nov 22, 2011

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

The Minotaur

Okay, so, Skins for the Skinless technically does have two “bully” skins. Whereas the Harpy is like… horrible sadistic monster who will drive you to suicide, the Minotaur is a big, brutish thug, who everyone treats like a big, brutish thug, and it kind of bothers them. They’re also a scary angry bull monster, though, who will lumber after anyone who is named as a target. I don’t know if the maze metaphor works SUPER well, but I guess I can kind of see what it’s aiming at this time, and the result isn’t anything completely reprehensible, so that’s an improvement.

This is, however, kind of truer to form with the rest of the SftK skins, though, in that it’s a collection of mechanics that don’t always mesh well together, or that work as a concept but not in actuality. It’s definitely a lot better than some of the earlier skins, but it’s got a lot of the same problems Topher seems to have struggled with all along. Just… you know, less-so. There’s actually a core mechanic at play here -- similar to the ghost, it’s about giving people conditions to give you bonuses against them. It’s not as fictionally evocative as the ghost, though, and I just find myself wishing that the skin were framed around something more like what’s explored a little in Red Flag (I talk about that when I describe that move below).

Origins are more or less an even split between relatively mundane and magical. “Bestial demigod” is kind of referencing the actual minotaur from Greek myth. “Cursed by a witch” would be pretty interesting if there actually someone playing The Witch in the group, I think. Then there’s “testosterone poisoning” and “abused animal growth hormones” if you want to play this character off as being less supernatural or whatever. “Experimental hybrid” is, uh… getting into some slightly uncomfortable territory. I guess technically that’s also true to the original Greek myth, but really now.

The Minotaur’s good stats are Hot and Volatile -- those are basically “steamroller” stats, they let you fight really well and be sexy/charismatic, but the lovely Cold and Dark stats means that you’re not so great at keeping their poo poo together or introspection and magical poo poo. I kind of feel like a high hot stat undermines the character concept a little bit here, though. It gives you a lot of room to not be a big scary person who has to lean on violence and intimidation. It might make more sense to go with Cold/Volatile (physically/emotionally tough) or Volatile/Dark (social idiot stats), and just throw in something that makes it easier for you to do what you want through hurting or scaring people. With a skins starting stats, the ones that you’re lovely at are just as important as the ones you’re good at -- they dictate the basic moves that the player is more likely to avoid.

Skin Moves

You start with Labyrinth and two other moves.

You take a string on someone whenever you do harm to them. You always carry 1 forward to Shut Someone Down, Lash Out Physically or Gaze Into the Abyss when your target has the “In The Maze” condition. You get a -1 to use any of those moves against someone who has the “Golden Thread” condition.

So, this move is doing two things. Firstly, it’s letting you generate strings really easily by punching people in the face. Which would be great for a skin that doesn’t have a high hot stat -- similar to how the Infernal’s Unknowable move lets you make people lose strings on you without needing to lean on the Infernal’s bad Cold stat, this lets you take strings on people without Turning Someone On. Unfortunately, the Minotaur does have a good hot stat, and is already good at getting strings on people as a result. So, this feels a bit superfluous.

The other thing it does is set up this mechanic where you are incentivised to antagonise players with the In the Maze condition, and disincentivised from antagonising players who have Golden Thread. With Gaze Into the Abyss, I assume that it means using Gaze Into the Abyss to find something out about someone else, because Gaze is notably one of the two basic moves that doesn’t require a target, ordinarily. This isn’t a terrible mechanic in and of itself, and I think that you could probably base a pretty decent skin around it. Worst I can say about it is that it's not really that exciting, but honestly I'll take what I can get at this point.

Mostly, though, even aside from “gaining strings for punching people” being unnecessary for a high Hot skin, pairing these two effects together it a little weird. The end result is a move that lets you avoid rolling with one of your good stats but encourages you to roll with two of your bad ones.

Bestial Pleasures
When you successfully Turn Someone on, you and the target take a string on each other. The target also gets the “Golden Thread” condition.

So… the first move improves your capacity to avoid rolling Hot, while this one tries to encourage you to roll Hot. That’s not terribly coherent design. This is also just a bad move even without that, because an extra string for Turning Someone On is not worth them also taking a string on you, and then you getting a -1 to half of your basic moves against them until they remove the condition. Which they have no reason to ever want to do.

When you Shut Someone Down by intimidating or harassing them, roll with Volatile instead of Cold. You also take an ongoing -1 to Hold Steady. If you fail the roll, take the “Enraged” condition instead of the “Terrified” condition.

So, I assume that when it says “when you fail”, what it actually means is “when you roll a 7-9” -- conditional successes make you Terrified, not failures. The obvious effect of this move is to let you lean on your big Volatile score instead of having to rely on your lovely Cold while you’re Shutting Someone Down, while at the same time loving up your ability to control yourself in stressful situations or remove conditions as a tradeoff.

The thing there is that we already have another mechanic in Labyrinth that beefs up your Shut Down rolls, so what we’re realistically looking at here is the ability to Shut Someone Down and Lash Out Physically at +3 when someone has the “In The Maze” condition. So… suddenly our Volatile/Hot skin is also functionally a Volatile/Cold skin. Hold Steady is literally the least used move in the game, in my anecdotal experience, and that’s not a huge drawback for improving to the move that lets you put conditions on other players. I mean, unless, of course, this skins happens to have another move that for some reason relies on your ability to Hold Steady. But what are the chances of that happening? (yeah, keep reading)

In a China Shop
When you Lash Out Physically, on a 7-9 your target has to pick a physical object they own and that is on hand. It gets broken or made unusable for an undetermined period of time. On a 10+, the same thing happens but you get to pick.

For a move with such a good name, this is pretty boring. Like, as with a similar move that the Harpy has, I just feel like in of itself “I stomp his cellphone” is something that you really don't need a move in order to do. With more time to reflect on it, I actually feel like it’s a little bit detrimental to make it one -- moves have that sort of “the exception proves the rule” thing going on with them, which is good if you understand how to use it, but kind of disastrous if you don’t take it into consideration. If this move is telling you that it gives you permission to break someone else’s stuff, well, clearly that tells you that without this move, that is normally something you can’t just do on the fly. It doesn’t engage with any of the other moves very well, it doesn’t offer any kind of mechanical benefit…

This just works out better as a concept than it does in execution here.

Mess With the Bull
Oh good. Another “you turn into a big scary monster” move. Maybe fifth time’s the charm?

When you violently confront someone(!) who is In the Maze, roll Volatile. On a 7-9, you turn into a big bull man and it’s so scary and poo poo you guys. On a 10+, that happens and you become your darkest self. While you’re in your beast form, you do 1 extra harm everytime you Lash Out Physically, and you take 1 less harm whenever anything deals harm to you. In order to turn back into a troubled sexy teen, you need to Hold Steady. You know. Hold Steady. That move that requires you to use one of your bad stats. Which you might have a permanent -1 to because you decided to pick up Bully. THAT Hold Steady.

Okay, so aside from the exit condition being annoying… here we just have another case of a move which, if you take it, means that you automatically turn into a giant monster thing just by carrying out random tasks. A second, optional Darkest Self, if you will. And this one is way worse than the Harpy’s (which I was actually a bit charitable to), because “violently confronting people” who are In The Maze is what this skin is supposed to do. Like, it’s right there in the move that you automatically come with at character gen -- this is your jam. But now this move is telling you that “oh right, if you do that you’ll turn into a scary bull monster until you can make this difficult and frustrating Cold roll.” So, either we get the Minotaur turning into a monster every other scene, or the player chooses not to do the thing that is ostensibly their job in order to not be obnoxious.

I’m also still super dubious about the concept of a move that gets worse on a 10+. A 10+ is supposed to be a success -- that’s not where you add conditions. A 7-9 is the conditional success, and things like “but you become your darkest self” belong there. It’s just a weird and unsatisfactory design choice.

Red Flag
So, when someone spends a string on you in order to get you to do what they want, instead of just marking experience like normal, you choose two from the following list:
  • Carry 1 forward toward doing the thing they asked you to do
  • Remove 1 condition
  • Mark experience
  • Remove 1 harm

This one could actually be a really good move, to the point that my reaction to it was “why isn’t the skin about this?” Basically, this is a move that gives you extra rewards when people spend strings on you to get you to do their dirty work for them. This is playing up on the idea that you’re everyone’s flunky and people just use you as disposable muscle for hire.

In order for this to really work, though, you’d need something else to give other players more of an incentive to spend strings on you in the first place. Like, I don’t know -- “when someone spends a string to offer you an experience point and you accept, they also mark experience.” Something like that. And maybe a move that makes it easier for people to take strings on you in the first place. As is, this is a move to reward you for other people choosing to do something you have no direct influence over. Which is disappointing.

Seeing Red
When you Gaze Into the Abyss about someone you’re pissed off at, roll Volatile Instead of Dark. On a 7-9, you add “Place the condition In the Maze” on them to the list of options. On a 10+, you add that as well as “do 1 extra harm the next time you Lash Out Physically at them” to the list of options.

Yeah, another one of these moves. Combining this with Bully, you can use your Volatile stat for way too many moves at this point. This is at least going to work off of Labyrinth’s In the Maze bonus, but even there, its primary benefit is to put In the Maze onto someone in the first place, so… that’s not as helpful as one might think. This skin really did not need another way to tack extra damage onto its Lash Out rolls, either, honestly.

When someone else gives out the condition In the Maze, you lose a string on them.

This is actually an interesting idea, and I more or less approve. Basically this is you taking acceptable losses (a string here and there), in order to encourage other players to hand out your special condition for you. If anything, the main problem with this is kind of clunky implementation of the In the Maze/Golden Thread mechanic throughout the rest of the skin.

Sex Move
When you have sex with someone, they take a string on you and the Golden Thread condition. They may also ask you to spare one person -- if they do, that person also gets the Golden Thread condition.

This is pretty much a net good for your partner but a net bad for you. So the message there is that intimacy is kind of a weakness for you, I guess. Nothing terrible or broken in this sex move, though.

Darkest Self
You go crazy because you know that you’re just a violent, scary violent animal and you’re convinced that everyone else knows that too -- they’re all just using you. You track down everyone who is In the Maze and… actually, the text here doesn’t specify, which is troubling. All it says is “show them how bestial you can be”, so I assume you beat them up and poo poo like that? If no one’s in the Maze, you pick a random person to “face your fury.”

You leave your darkest self when no one’s left In the Maze. … except, we were just told that if no one’s In the Maze you attack someone at random anyway? Kind of a contradiction there. You can also leave your darkest self if someone with Golden Thread confronts you. Which seems a lot more likely to come up.

Other Stuff
The Minotaur’s gang advancement gives them a Herd of Cronies. Get it? Because cattle!

All of these moves can technically be used by other characters, although they do heavily rely on In the Maze.

Next Time: The Mummy -- If there’s one thing Monsterhearts is missing, it’s frustrating D&D mechanics

Kobold eBooks
Mar 5, 2007

It's like they were going for a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde sort of skin but they wanted to rewrite the Werewolf at the same time and had no idea what 'fair' means. :catstare:

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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

D&D Mechanics you say? I better see some Mummy Rot. :colbert:

Golden Bee
Dec 24, 2009

I came here to chew bubblegum and quote 'They Live', and I'm... at an impasse.
This is the least-worst skin so far. You could take a few core moves ("Red Flag", a revised Labyrinth, and "Tributes") and create an awesome High School archetype: the badguy's legbreaker.

If you did that, though, you'd need another way to play, so I'd lean on a 2nd archetype: The perennial fuckup. You're stupid and yet people keep you around, out of guilt, avarice, or because they think they can use you.

For moves in that direction:
Reverse Queen's "And your The Enemies Closer to get:
Kingly Father
When you do a favor for someone, you can gently caress it up on purpose. Take a 6- result and gain a string on them. If it's blatantly obvious you screwed up, gain another on them, and they gain a string on you.

Other possible moves:

One More Chance
When you spend a string and promise things will be different this time, roll to turn someone on. You can take the "they promise you something you think you want" result, even on a miss.

Too Far
When someone lashes out physically against you, you can give them one string to receive one additional harm. If they don't, you both gain the condition Bloody.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
I have a blind spot for the Minotaur's failings because "in the maze" is a perfect metaphor for being terrorized by a bully.

The Deleter
May 22, 2010
Speaking of bad playbooks, it's time for the

Apocalypse World Third-Party Playbook Party

The simplicity, clarity and theme of Apocalypse World have inspired many people to make their own playbooks, spinoffs and variants on the game. Hell, when the game has a chapter exclusively dedicated to teaching you how to “hack” the game, its practically expected. And some of those hacks are great and successful - look at Dungeon World or Monsterhearts for proof.

Some, however, suck. The old 90% adage rings true when you look through the reams of fan-made playbooks for any of these games. People with more enthusiasm than design sense plug a bunch of ideas into the existing playbooks and call it a day, without thinking about how to tie things together or how it would play in context. We’ve seen his problem already with Skins for the Skinless, where the authors seem to have confused Monsterhearts with Dungeon World.

There’s plenty for Apocalypse World, and some are completely bonkers. I intend to go through a selection of them and talk about whether or not they work, and if I’d play with someone using them. I’ll go until either the forums or I get bored of it.

A couple of caveats:
  • I’ll only post playbooks that have, at the least, a formatted pdf. I’m not linking to forums posts for this, primarily because the extra step of formatting (or using the playbook template) implies that there was some level of effort put into the playbook, and also because it would open up a huge trawl through various forums and we’d end up down the rabbit hole pretty quickly.
  • I’m no game designer, so I’ll try and give some skins the benefit of the doubt and let those with better knowledge chip in. If something sucks, however, I’m sure I’ll let you know why. I’ll also point out if a skin is unfinished, in “alpha” state or whatever.

Let’s jump straight in! I’ll provide links to the playbooks, so you can read along. We’ll begin straight away with:


Have a look here.

The Agent is an outsider. They come from another world, where they are employed by a shadow organisation to do spy things, and have ended up in the apocalypse by accident. It’s also a reference to the discontinued weird-spy RPG Lacuna from Paizo, but I don’t know poo poo about it. Sadly, without knowing what the reference is, I’m going to have to approach this in a bubble, but that’s fine.

One thing you’ll notice is that some words in the playbook are censored out. I assume this is part of the reference, but this also works on it’s own to allow the players to make something up, or be classified secrets that mean a shitload.

The Agent’s spread of stats are themed on what kind of Agent you are. You can take one focused on Hard and shooting stuff, one better at acting under fire and reading the situation, or one on using Hot and Weird to get access to what you want. The “Balanced” one looks boring as hell, so don’t pick that.

You start with Lacuna Device and a new stat : Clearance. Clearance represents your privilege level in your agency - it’s measured at Blue (+1), Deep Blue (+2) and Black (which grants augury and can only be taken as a end of session advance)

Here’s one problem I have with the skin - this is the only spot where what your Clearance is is told to you. They don’t really explain the concept or tie it into anything really narrative - it’s just another +stat you can roll. You know all those dumb garbage characters under the Agent’s description? Why not use that to elaborate on what each clearance level means, and what you’re allowed to know, and what that means for your character? That could be awesome? Instead, we get this. Boring.

Okay, let’s carry on. The Lacuna Device is a weird badge thing that you can put on someone, at which point it sends them to an alternate dimension for a bit. You roll Clearance to get hold, which you can spend on stuff like dealing harm, making the target drop or forget something important, or dealing psi-damage what the gently caress.

For those not in the know, psi-damage is included in the supplements of the Limited Edition AW playbooks. It's a type of damage that represents a powerful, often madness-inducing psychic attack or incursion. It doesn't deal Harm because its effects are devastating - it turns NPCs into insane lunatics, and royally fucks up player characters too. It’s bad news, and there are very few instances of it in the books - mostly being inflicted on the players in actions such as the Quarantine getting people out of cryo, or the Space Marine Mammal trying to exit their walking suit. The Agent, meanwhile, can hand out this poo poo on a whim like it's psychosis Halloween. What a clusterfuck this could be in the wrong hands - every bad guy or problem zapped into madness and effectively dealt with. A good MC can offset this by having a psi-mad victim immediately gently caress the Agent up, or by dealing the appropriate social repercussions of driving someone bugfuck insane with the push of a button.

There’s also a very interesting censored-out option, where you could, for example, dislocate a dude's face. Or something. Thanks, censor bars!

Deep Blue Clearance has two effects. It raises your Clearance to +2 (yawn) and allows you to target an NPC as a Hostile Personality. You get +1 ongoing against them until they die, you revoke the designation or something else happens. Those censor bars are actually really cool, come to think of it. This move makes the Agent a great NPC bully, enabling them to manipulate, attack and gently caress with their chosen victim. It's certaintly a lot more interesting than the usual +stat moves.

Good Cardio gives you hold, which can be spent on rerolling Agent moves, or Going Aggro or Seize by Force. I am not a fan of this move, because one of the things that I like about Apocalypse World is if you gently caress up, you've hosed up. You don't get many second chances, and no take-backs. This breaks that rule, and a lucky Agent that rolled well can mitigate disaster.

Aggression is a harm boost, and also allows you to instantly break any small item you seize by force. This is a pretty flavorful move where the applications are few but cool - disarming foes is probably the most typical use you'll get out of it, but you could, say crush the antidote in your hands and let the gang leader die from toxins! It's a neat move, and I'm not sure quite why it has the harm boost tacked on.

Intuition adds your clearance to either Reading a Stitch or Reading a Person. If someone picks this, Deep Blue Clearance, and has a base of Sharp +2, slap them.

Logistics is probably the coolest move on the playbook - you can request your superiors send you gadgets and weapons through the psychic maelstrom. There's comedic potential on a 7-9 where you don't get quite what you wanted, and misses cause your requests to come through all hosed up. Imagine a knife that sang sweet nothings when it got covered in blood, or a watch that counted down the life of the oldest person present.

When you have sex with someone, you become less of a spy and more like an Apocalypse World misfit. You swap an Agent move for another move from another playbook, and "are stuck with that playbook until you are fully assimilated." I think this means you can only take advances from that playbook until you get over your sudden genre shift - the wording is a bit ambiguous. It does evoke the idea of you being a weird outsider not native to the genre of Apoc World, which is pretty cool and could potentially be used in other things.

Extra bits:
Your Hx notes state that one person knows some redacted stuff which will redacted when you redacted, another person sends your paranoia alarm ringing, and one completely overrides a Hx for that person and gives them Hx +2 because they look like Morpheus or whatever. I'll let you lot be the judge of that one. I like how your sunglasses are listed as gear. Your "leave the game" advance has you wake up on the "Slab" and literally exit AW, which is cool as gently caress.

To quickly sum up, err... The Agent has a lot of good ideas, but some fall flat, and others it doesn't communicate effectively. It seems to convey a very specific idea of dimension-hopping secret agents, which kinda bounces off of me because I don't know poo poo about Lacuna. The censor bars are a cool way of saying "make something up!" and Logistics owns bones, but the Clearance mechanic doesn't even try to be interesting, and dealing Psi-damage out easily is something I'm pretty hesitant on. The rerolls of Good Cardio are my biggest bugbear - there's no other move like that in the game! No other class gets take-backs, and I feel that having take-backs kills some of the narrative tension. I'd say, in fact, I'd say it's worse than the Psi-damage thing, because at least an MC can rub his hands together and figure out just how wrong this is going to go.

Would I play with an Agent? As long as they stayed away from that dumb Sharp-stacking trick, and treated dealing psi-damage as the very serious thing it is, I probably would. This isn't a terrible playbook, in my opinion, but it could do a lot better. A reworked, more indepth Clearance mechanic, with details of you finding out things you aren't meant to know, and keeping secrets from others, would probably inject some extra life into it. And redo Good Cardio, even if it's just a boring "+1 Hard" or something. Rerolls suck.

Next time: Don't you know who I am?

The Deleter fucked around with this message at 21:33 on Dec 12, 2014

Nov 22, 2011

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

bathroomrage posted:

It's like they were going for a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde sort of skin but they wanted to rewrite the Werewolf at the same time and had no idea what 'fair' means. :catstare:

There is a Dr. Jekyll Mr Hyde skin -- the Unchained. These are listed alphabetically, so that'll be second to last.

pkfan2004 posted:

D&D Mechanics you say? I better see some Mummy Rot. :colbert:

There is literally a move called Fungal Rot, which is what I was referring to there.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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

Gazetteer posted:

There is literally a move called Fungal Rot, which is what I was referring to there.
Hooray, I feel validated!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

I sincerely hope the Mummy is mechanically encouraged to spread jock itch, because that would just be the dumbest thing.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
There's an STD joke in there somewhere but it seems a little too tasteless.

edit; unless I've actually just guessed the point of the Skin in which case I will be both amazed and appalled.

Hyper Crab Tank
Feb 10, 2014

The 16-bit retro-future of crustacean-based transportation

Kai Tave posted:

There's an STD joke in there somewhere but it seems a little too tasteless.

edit; unless I've actually just guessed the point of the Skin in which case I will be both amazed and appalled.

I was thinking "this better not be a kid with HIV" because that sounds both on-theme and really loving horrible in a lot of uncomfortable ways.

Nov 22, 2011

"You're talking to cats."
"And you eat ghosts, so shut the fuck up."
I'm going to go ahead and not give you any context because I'm kind of enjoying the speculation.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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

Kai Tave posted:

There's an STD joke in there somewhere but it seems a little too tasteless.

edit; unless I've actually just guessed the point of the Skin in which case I will be both amazed and appalled.

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I was thinking "this better not be a kid with HIV" because that sounds both on-theme and really loving horrible in a lot of uncomfortable ways.
I can absolutely believe that the Mummy is the weird sexy kid with a STD. But it's not like it matters, even for their sex move.

They're always wrapped. :haw:

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
God damnit.

Kobold eBooks
Mar 5, 2007


Gazetteer posted:

There is a Dr. Jekyll Mr Hyde skin -- the Unchained. These are listed alphabetically, so that'll be second to last.

Knowing the quality of these so far, oh geeze. :negative:

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


Grimey Drawer
I don't quite get the whole In the Maze status. Does it mean anything beyond the Minotaur being able to do certain moves?

Nov 22, 2011

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

Maxwell Lord posted:

I don't quite get the whole In the Maze status. Does it mean anything beyond the Minotaur being able to do certain moves?

Theoretically, having that condition means that you're the Minotaur's target. Like, they're hunting you. Unfortunately, the text of the move doesn't convey that aspect very directly. It would be a lot better if instead of the "you get strings to roll volatile" thing, Labyrinth actually included something about how other PCs could put that condition onto a character they don't like and manipulate the Minotaur into going after them. That kind of gameplay is still there, potentially, but there's not enough explicit mechanical support for it.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
I'll be honest, a number of conditions that people make up for Monsterhearts remind me of that guy who makes Fate aspects based on how cool he thinks they sound, not whether or not they convey what they're intended to represent appropriately.

Dec 12, 2011
Strangely enough, back when I first read through AW and was dicking around with homebrew playbooks, I started an Agent skin from Lacuna because I had just read it and thought it was amazing. The big difference is that I tacked on a second countdown timer to count static (whatever the term was for the dissonance between Agent and the Collective Unconsciousness of Mankind) that would fill as some of the heavier moves got used. And the further it filled, the more weird poo poo that would start happening to your agent before the Spidermen and the Blue Lady show up. Never finished it, though. I also think I just had the Lacuna Device as a weapon.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012
All the folks coming back to work on projects certainly made me realize I'd totally forgotten about been holding back on writing the next part of Azure Abyss.

Chapter 3: Deep Sea Classes
If you might recall, Indigo Ice introduced one new base class and three new prestige classes for Cerulean Seas. Well, Alluria Publishing is nothing if methodical, because the same number of classes is utilized here.

Angler (Base Class)
The Angler is effectively a combo of Fighter and non-casting Ranger, designed to be a rugged frontier warrior who takes no guff and kills deep sea monsters for profit. In spite of the comparisons I made to what role they are meant to be play, however, the Angler actually takes its biggest mechanical inspiration from the Rogue. It shares the Rogue's d8 hit die, and almost exactly copies the Rogue's Base Attack Bonus and saving throw progression, simply reversing Reflex and Fortitude to have the latter be good and the former poor in its progression. The Angler's actual class features, however, bring it into its own element.

The very first one you'll pick up is Battlefield Prep, which allows the Angler to literally shape the outcome of a battle, creating a 5 foot square of special terrain that grants a bonus to the Angler and allies or a penalty to foes. The Angler expends a number of successive standard actions, of which the total can't exceed half the Angler's character level plus their Wisdom modifier. Each standard action can be used to increase the bonus/penalty of the square's effect by 1 or to increase its size by another 5 foot square.

And what exactly does this preparation do? That varies between different preparations, of which the Angler starts with a single one and gains another at level 3 and then every three levels after that. The specific types of prep space the Angler can choose are..
  • Defensive Benefit: Occupying the space grants you a bonus to Armor Class equal to the preparation number.
  • Defensive Hindrance: Rather than boost someone's defense, you deal your prep number's worth of penalty to an enemy's Armor Class when they're on the space.
  • Movement Benefit: Anyone starting their turn on the prep space gains +5 move speed for each prep number.
  • Movement Hindrance: Yet again an inversion, with the target suffering a -5 penalty to move speed for each prep number when the start their movement on the space.
  • Offensive Benefit: Standing in the prepped spot provides a bonus to attack rolls and damage equal to the prep number. You have to choose between melee attacks only or ranged attacks only, however. The spot can't grant bonuses to both.
  • Offensive Hindrance: Yet another inversion of the last, granting a penalty to melee or ranged attack and damage rolls.

These preparations can be beefed up even more by taking three special preparations: Combined Preparation (you can put two of the previous preps on the same prep area), Lingering Preparation (anyone who spends at least a full round in the prep area still benefits/suffers from its effect after leaving the area for a number of rounds equal to the Angler's Wisdom modifier), and One Shot Preparation (the prepared area works for only one round for the first person to enter the area, but the benefit or penalty is further increased by the Angler's Wisdom modifier).

While this does mean that you're not doing anything else for every round you buff up your preparation space, the fact is that the total time a prep space (other than one made with One Shot Preparation) lasts for a number of days equal to the Angler's total character level. This means that, not unlike the stereotype of Batman, the Angler can defeat just about anyone with enough preparation time. It's definitely one of those things where how much leeway the GM gives you makes or breaks how powerful the ability is.

A far more straightforward ability the Angler also gets at level 1 is Harvest. Whenever you kill a creature that is of the Animal, Magical Beast, or Dragon creature type, you get a number of bonus gold equal to 10 x the monster's Challenge Rating. This bonus gold increases to 25 x the monster's CR at level 6, 40 x its CR at level 11, and 55 x its CR at level 16. Hopefully you're kind enough to split your profits with other party members.

There are also yet another two class features gained right off the bat by the Angler. One, Trapsmith, is is a straightforward set of bonuses: 1/2 the Angler's character level added to Craft (Trapmaking) checks, Disable Device checks, and Perception checks that are made to locate traps,as well as the ability to make traps at a third their normal price. The other is another class feature that you'll be seeing just as often as Battlefield Prep. At level 1 and every three levels afterward, the Angler gets to choose one of the listed Angler's Traps. These are unique "step in the square to activate" traps that the Angler alone can create. While some replicate spells or supernatural powers, all are considered to be Extraordinary rank abilities. Some of these traps definitely don't feel special, but see for yourself rather than take my word for it.
  • Alarm Trap: Stepping on the trap causes an alarm to sound, replicating the alarm spell.
  • Alchemical Attack Trap: The trap releases a spewing mess of either acid or steam, dealing 1d6 + half the Angler's character level in damage. A Reflex save means the damage is ignored.
  • Alchemical Explosion Trap: As above, but the damage is dealt to all adjacent squares as well as the trap square.
  • Marking Trap: The individual that set off the trap gets coated in some manner of colored dye or scent marking, which lowers all checks to track them by 4. It's stated to fade over "several days", so I guess however many the GM feels appropriate.
  • Poison Trap: Unsurprisingly, the trap delivers a poison. It can be of any poison type other than ingested.
  • Snare Trap: The trap entangles the foe, with the usual options of Escape Artist or Strength check to get out.
  • Swarm Trap: A jellyfish, hagfish, or leech swarm bursts out of a box when the trap is triggered. This is the best trap simply because it's amazing to think of taking the effort to stuff jellyfish into a box just to hurt someone with them later.

Beyond first level, you'll only find two other class abilities beyond more bonuses to those starting sets. At level 2 and every three levels afterward, the Angler gets a bonus feat. Unlike the Fighter, though, they have access to quite a variety of feats, from stealth feats such as Fast Crawl and Nimble moves to tanking feats like Diehard and Rugged Northerner. Finally, you have the capstone feature of the Angler class, Master of the Field. This doubles the bonuses of any Battlefield Prep ability. This can be combined with a feat called Quicken Battlefield Prep that does the same thing, allowing you to get 4 points per standard action.

While I usually prefer to discuss my opinions on classes and such in my final thoughts, I'll not that the Angler falls into that odd category of being an interesting class, but not quite matching up with what you expect. The flavor text prepares you for some grizzled frontiersman that looks like they wandered right out of an adventure game, but most of the class's actual abilities are related to subterfuge and preparatory measures. Harvest is the only class feature that directly ties into the opening fluff statement of "charting the unexplored and slaying the beasts that nip at the civilized world's edges".

Halionaut (10 Level Prestige Class)
Halionauts make a living going through random portals and seeing what they find. If you recall the Horizon Walker class from standard D&D and Pathfinder, it and the Halionaut are a lot alike. And by a lot alike, I mean the Halionaut is literally the Horizon Walker with land terrain names swapped out with ocean terrain names. The only thing the Halionaut has that the Horizon Walker doesn't is an ability called Eerie Foresight, which lets them see a portal's "danger rating", an arbitrary 1 to 10 scale that the GM determines.

Myxinmave (10 Level Prestige Class)
And then, as if to say "sorry the Halionaut is so boring", the very next page grants us the glory that is the Myxinmave. This is a spellcasting prestige class that reflects someone who absolutely adores hagfish, so much that they take great lengths to fraternize with and emulate these deep sea scavengers. Beyond that amazingly crazy premise, however, is the class any good? Well, it definitely starts out with a nice framework. Above-average Base Attack Bonus progression, average Fortitude and Reflex saves contrasted by a below average Will save, and d6 hit dice are the makings of relatively standard combat casting class. It also counts as a caster class for spell levels, which is always important.

A level 1 Myxinmave gets two class features right off the bat. Hagfish Servant grants a giant hagfish with the Intelligence score and various other bonuses granted to a familiar. This hagfish will split into two identical hagfish at level 5 of the class, and again into four identical hagfish at level 9, just in case one wasn't enough to love. The other feature, Hagslime, grants a +1 bonus to Armor Class, Escape Artist checks, and CMD against enemy grapple attempts, as well as the ability to spew a large slime cloud once per day. This cloud is a non-magical version of the quagmire spell from the Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide that has a 10 foot radius. At level 4, 7, and 10 of the class, the various bonuses conveyed by Hagslime increase by a further +1and the Myxinmave gets another use of the slime cloud spewing ability per day.

At level 2, the Myxinmave has the ability to freely transmute their face into a hagfish mouth with the ability Consume Flesh. The bite attack deals only a single point of damage usual, but can be used to make a successful grapple attack that deals 2d6 points of damage as the Myxinmave rasps flesh from the victim. This doesn't work on creatures without flesh, but that probably won't make much difference unless your GM just constantly throws skeletons and golems at you.

Immunity to Putridness comes at level 3, granting immunity to natural diseases and mummy rot, ingestible and inhaled poisons, and undead stench. Not quite that exciting? Don't worry too much, as level 4 has Knot Armor. This class feature lets the Myxinmave wear a bunch of hagfish (known as a knot) as armor, granting a unique type of damage reduction. The knot can absorb a number of points of damage equal to 10 + 5 per level in this prestige class the Myxinmave has, dying if they take 10 damage from a single attack or if they take all the total damage they can. Fear not, however, as they resurrect and reappear every morning! The only downside is that you can't wear regular armor and knot armor at the same time.

Level 5 and we have Fins of the Hagfish. This improves the Myxinmave's swim speed by 10 feet and grants a tail slap attack that deals 1d6 damage if the character is Small, 1d8 if they are Medium, and 1d10 if they are Large. The very next level, the Boneless class feature continues the train towards becoming one with the hagfish, granting a further +4 bonus to Escape Artist checks and CMD against grapple attempts, as well as the ability to squeeze through areas as if the character was one size category smaller.

At level 7, we take a minor detour from emulating hagfish with the Spew Hagfish feature. With this ability, the Myxinmave gets a hagfish breath weapon they can use once per day, dealing 1d6 damage per Myxinmave level in a 30 foot cone. The hagfish that are belched out are also kind enough to stay around, acting as a hagfish swarm under the character's command after the damage is dealt. There's also Poison at level 8, which is...well, poison. A poison from the Consume Flesh jaws that deals 1 Strength damage per round, specifically.

Last, but certainly not least, is the capstone ability Hivemind. The hivemind is made up of up to 50 individuals, including the Myxinmave and their giant hagfish servants, and gain various bonuses. Each creature in the Hivemind gains +1 Intelligence and Charisma per 20 creatures beyond 50 that are in the swarm, a +1 insight bonus to attack rolls and Armor Class, and awareness of what is being experienced by each member of the hivemind.

Seductor (10 Level Prestige Class)
Oh boy, an entire class based around seduction and manipulation! Just what I always wanted.

The Seductor has d8 hit die, but otherwise has the poor Base Attack Bonus progression, Fortitude saves, and Reflex saves offset by a good Will save you kind of expect from manipulator classes. They also gain a bonus +1d6 sneak attack every odd numbered level of the prestige class, even if they didn't originally have any levels in Rogue. Handy.

The Seductor gets three abilities out of the starting gate. Poison Use is the standard "you can't accidentally poison yourself when poisoning a weapon" stuff, Seduction adds the Seductor's levels in this prestige class to Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, Perform, and Sense Motive checks, and Seductor's Touch is the start of a multi-level ability. With Seductor's Touch, the Seductor makes a grapple check. If successful, they can impart the charm person spell. This extends to being able to impart the suggestion spell at level 4 of the class, 1d4 Strength or Wisdom damage at level 7, and 10 minutes of paralysis at level 10.

Level 2 has Save Bonus Against Poison, which is a +1 save bonus against poison (duh) that increases by a further +1 at every two levels afterward. Secret Alignment at level 3 grants permanent undetectable alignment as a supernatural ability. And at level 5, there's a once per day ability called Shield of Helplessness. Basically, all creatures in a 15 foot radius are forced to make a Will save or automatically believe the Seductor is a damsel in distress.

Oh, and at level 9, the Seductor gets Hidden Mind, which is permanent mind blank as a supernatural rather than spell-like ability. The description states that if dispelled, this ability cannot be resumed for 1d4 rounds. That would certainly be potentially useful if it wasn't for the fact that dispel magic only works on spells and spell-like abilities, not supernatural abilities.

Chapter 4: Deep Craft
Six new weapons are provided for characters from the Azure Abyss: one martial, two simple, and three exotic, all melee. The excaecara fork, also known as the bident, is the lone martial weapon and basically resembles a trident with only the middle and left tines. It deals 1d6 piercing damage for a Medium-size creature and was created by the oculi specifically to blind rogue oculi. For simple weapons, there is the battle spade, a combat shovel which deals 1d6 slashing damage for Medium wielders and helps dig through earth at increased speed, and the stickleback spear, a small probing stick that only deals 1d4 piercing damage for a Medium wielder and is designed more as a deterrent against attackers than a weapon of war.

Out of the three exotic weapons, the most deceptively simple is the zharaz. Created by the dwarves of Austoria, this weapon looks like a bisected hatchet, and deals 1d4 slashing damage in Medium hands. It has a dirty little secret in between the two halves of its blade, however, in that there is a small compartment meant to hold a dart made of azulbryn. On a successful hit from the main weapon, the dart (if present) lodges in the opponent and automatically starts dealing azulbryn poisoning.

More straightforward is the echinn blade. It's a big, nasty hooked blade designed to pry open crustaceans, dealing 1d10 damage for a Medium wielder and granting a +1 bonus to attack rolls against foes that have a natural armor bonus to Armor Class. The pincer blade is also pretty easy to understand, being meant for dealing with tentacled creatures. It can deal 1d6 slashing damage with a Medium wielder, but can choose to do nonlethal rather than lethal damage if it uses the dulled outer blade of the fork rather than the sharp inner one.

With twenty-one feats, you'd think there would be more variety here, but that's not really the case this time. All but two of them are racial feats, and those two that are left over both deal with the Angler's Battlefield Prep class feature! Sadly, the racial feats are all pretty bland too, with examples including Boon of Bones (an obitu gains the resistance to slashing and piercing weapons that undead skeletons have), Sharper Spines (an echinn's spines deal more damage than usual), and Virulent Poison Cloud (a deep drow's poison cloud has a +2 higher save DC than normal). The only really stand-out feats are Azulbryn Eater, which allows Austorian dwarves to gain a +1 bonus to all saving throws and skill checks for an hour after eating azulbryn as opposed to being poisoned by the radioactive blue metal, and Nibble Armor, which allows an echinn to sunder armor with its mandibles when in a grapple.

Ten new spells here, so once more I can look at all of them briefly rather than pick and choose like I would for a much larger count.
  • Abyssal Murk (Conjuration; Sorcerer/Wizard 6): Recreating the effects of a black smoker, this spell obscures as per quagmire but also deals 3d6 points of steam damage each round a creature spends in the cloud.
  • Acid Zone (Transmutation; Kahuna 5, Sorcerer/Wizard 5): In an area of one 5 x 5 cube per caster level, seawater becomes highly acidic and deals 1d6 acid damage per round to everything in the area.
  • Biolight (Transmutation; Alchemist 21, Magus 2, Siren 2, Sorcerer/Wizard 2, Summoner 2, Witch 2): You make yourself bioluminescent. Considering how many of the player races in Azure Abyss already have natural bioluminescence, it's surprising that nearly every spellcasting class has access to this spell...or at least it would be, were it not for another spell later on.
  • Bloodworms (Conjuration; Kahuna 4, Sorcerer/Wizard 4, Summoner 4, Witch 4): You summone a bunch of bloodworms, a type of oceanic polychaete worm that has a rather nasty poisonous bite. The bites deal 1 point of Constitution damage and decrease the target's swim speed by 5 feet.
  • Enemy Within (Enchantment [Evil]; Siren 2, Sorcerer/Wizard 2): This spell causes the target to believe that their own body is enchanted against their will, and they deal damage to themselves as fast as they can.
  • Extinguish Biolight (Necromancy; Antipaladin 2, Cleric/Oracle 3, Darkness domain 2, Siren 2, Sorcerer/Wizard 2, Witch 2): You permanently make something that is bioluminescent no longer bioluminescent. It is dispelled by biolight.
  • Lumenspear (Transmutation; Cleric 2, Kahuna 2): You use your own bioluminescence to make a melee weapon out of light. It can be any weapon you are proficient with, and acts as a magical weapon for purposes of overcoming damage reduction, so go crazy.
  • Parasitic Visage (Sorcerer/Wizard 9, Summoner 6, Witch 9): You fuse your lower half with the head of a creature at least two size categories larger than you are. In addition to making yourself effectively a weird hat for the creature, you get to mind control it. You gain its size, buoyancy, depth tolerance, natural attacks, immunities, resistances, physical ability scores, extraordinary abilities, and basically everything except for its supernatural or spell-like/psionic abilities and its mental ability scores.
  • Smoker Hop (Conjuration); Magus 7, Sorcerer/Wizard 7): You temporarily stop taking steam damage, and teleport from one geothermal heat source to another within 3 miles.
  • Summon Hagfish (Conjuration; Kahuna 2, Siren 2, Sorcerer/Wizard 2, Summoner 2, Witch 2): You summon either two giant hagfish or one hagfish swarm. Since it's the spell you need to be able to enter the Myxinmave prestige class, it's convenient that there are a fair number of casting classes that can learn it.

Underdeep Magic Items
Closing out chapter 4 are eight magic items themed around the deep sea, starting out with the Bracers of Bioluminescence. These gem-lined bracers have a constant casting of biolight and let you cast extinguish biolight, light, and lumenspear three times a day. These and the item directly after, the Goggles of Deepsight (which grant darkvision out of 60 feet) seem more tailored for those traveling to the deep than those that already live there. By contrast, the Oculus Wand is created and utilized by the oculi, and can be used to cast any level 0 or 1 spell with the word "detect" in its name. Because they're giant eyes, you see.

If jewelery is more your thing, the Ring of the Underdeep can grant steam and cold resistance 5, pressure immunity, and geopoison immunity. Then again, there's always weapons, which make up the four remaining magic items. The Rod of the Anchor is a quarterstaff that also acts as an immovable rod and can cast reverse buoyancy once per day that the caster gets to ignore, the Staff of the Vents is a boiling burst quarterstaff that can be used to cast boiling hands, boiling bubble, mageboil, volcanic vent, hot springs, abyssal murk, or smoke hop, the Sword of the Crab is a +2 keen bastard sword that grants its wielder continuous freedom of movement and water breathing as well as the ability to turn into a Medium crab once per day, and the Trident of the Depths is a +3 trident that deals an extra 1d6 damage when below 1,000 feet of water but turns into a -3 cursed weapon if it is brought above that depth.

Next Time...
Azure Abyss gets finished off with plot, location, languages, gods, and monsters.

Otherkinsey Scale
Jul 17, 2012

Just a little bit of sunshine!
The Myxinmave is my new favorite prestige class. How does that Spew Hagfish ability even work? Do hagfish just swim around in their stomaches all day? Does a portal to the Plane of Hagfish open in their mouths?

Feb 28, 2011

Kai Tave posted:

I'll be honest, a number of conditions that people make up for Monsterhearts remind me of that guy who makes Fate aspects based on how cool he thinks they sound, not whether or not they convey what they're intended to represent appropriately.

My PBP experience tell me that every Fate game is full of those guys and gals. :v:

Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.
The Agent does a surprisingly good job of getting across Lacuna's flavour, especially considering the radically different genres. One correction though - Lacuna was published by Memento Mori Theatricks, not Paizo.

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

TurninTrix posted:

My PBP experience tell me that every Fate game is full of those guys and gals. :v:

PDQ has a similar affliction. Considering every PDQ book tends to average between 1 to 2 words for a Quality, most players I've interacted with tend to make them whole sentences, if not multiple sentences.


Jun 6, 2011

I've been holding off on doing this update because I've been distracted by schoolwork and making a Phoenix Command retroclone.

Chapter 4: Game Tips and Playing Aids

This is a short chapter covering practicalities outside of the game itself, such as a rundown of features new in 3rd edition PCCS, tournament rules, and two sample scenarios. There's not too much I can say about this. I haven't had a chance to play Phoenix Command in real life, nor do I really want to. The concept and attention to detail intrigues me, but the presentation horrifies me.

Game Tips: Making tar play like syrup

The rulebook suggests delegating work such that each player handles their own character, an experienced player sits with the hit location table and rolls for effect, and the Referee refereeing the rules. It's not really objectionable in any way. If all you have is one copy of the rulebook things go faster if you don't need to shuffle it around between players, and asking players to keep track of their own character's wounds and rolling their own Save vs. KO has to the best of my knowledge been standard since Gygax invited some friends over to try his new game.

But, let's not forget that "keeping track of damage" includes multiplying through by 10/HLT every time you're hit. If you don't have a pocket calculator (this chapter doesn't suggest getting one), this means doing long division every time characters have a HLT that isn't 10. A friend of mine suggested the Referee moratorium that the only HLT values allowed should be 5 and 10.

Other suggestions is that you make a ranging stick marked with the target range modifiers, which is a pretty cool idea if you're playing on terrain-map or even on a hexmap. It does save you having to look up the range modifiers every time you shoot at something, and if you're from a miniatures wargaming background, you'd probably be used to pulling out a measuring tape every time you minis shot at the other guy's minis. PCCS is primarily a miniature wargame, so this is not unprecedented.

Lastly, it's also suggested that markers are used to keep track of visibility, since PCCS is pretty strict on what you can and can't see. Given the premise that you keep track of facing angles and visibility, this is not unreasonable either. It's not like a lot of games don't have field-of-view rules anyway, they just tend to be hard to enforce when the entire scene exists in the collective mind's eye of the players and GM, and everyone has their own ideas of exactly where they are looking. When you're playing on a tabletop with miniatures, these kind of rules become a lot more enforceable, since you know where everyone are and which direction they're facing.

Sample Scenarios: I have no idea how these play

The Bridge at Oppenheim
PCCS was first published i the 86, when Reagan had made the Cold War more pressing again by trying to measure his dick against a rather disinterested Gorbachev. One of the sample games in PCCS is of course a Cold-War-Gone-Hot scenario, where Russia has invaded West Germany. The third edition was published in 1989, which means the Warsaw Pact invasion of West Germany was either already somewhat dated, or very soon would be dated. In '86, it would probably have looked a lot more realistic, due to the near-disaster that was ABLE ARCHER. The game says it's day five of the Russian invasion of Germany, and the players are members of a "NATO squad" (who are armed only with US weapons) who've been tasked with holding a bridge near the town of Oppenheim. All in all, it's a very conventional, down-to-earth scenario about WWIII.

It's mainly an excuse to teach new players how the game works. Inexperienced Russian troops with AKM's with lovely ammo are moving through a chokepoint into an ambush set up by inexperienced US troops armed with M16's and machine guns. The players can win by either incapacitating 14 Russians on the first phase of combat, or by surviving for 60 phases. A quick look at some of the tables tell me that when shot, a Russian has a 78% chance of being knocked unconscious. There's a map provided of the location, thankfully, but the map doesn't have a scale, which is bloody annoying. Making a few estimates as to the scale of the map, it appears almost impossible for the US soldiers to miss at all, meaning it's quite possible the game will be over after that first round of eight players firing six rounds each at 14 targets; as you may recall from earlier this means that each player rolls to hit... then once for each enemy soldier to hit again... then hit locations are determined for every soldier that got hit... then all soldiers that got hit have to roll to avoid KO. A phase allows four autofire attacks, so you can repeat all this rolling four times.

Things are complicated somewhat by the terrain, but it's still a scenario where you'll have to roll a lot when the bullets start flying. Perhaps good for teaching people the mechanics, but it might also horrify them on the mechanics. If you don't kill all the Russians in the first turn, the game goes on for another 59 phases. This represents a total of 2 minutes of in-game time, and might very well take the rest of the evening to resolve... It's also a very dangerous scenario for the players; they're dug in in sandbag positions that expose only their heads to risk, but my estimate for ranges informs me that a Russian that does survive to return fire will run a very high risk of hitting a player character - which will almost certainly do some very nasty things to that US soldier's face.

As written, the scenario is also unplayable; none of the soldiers have a HLT stat, which means you can't figure out how much damage they take. As mentioned, the map has no scale, so it's unclear how far away things are from each other. The map is not very interesting, and uses an abstract map-notation that doesn't really spur the imagination, and at times is unclear.

Police Raid
It's the 80's. The other scenario is a SWAT raid on a drug ring. I estimate this one to be a bit more friendly to the players. There are 10 skilled PCs going up against six less skilled criminals. The player characters wear body armour and can pick between an assault rifle, a shotgun, and an SMG as their weapon, while the criminals are armed with either assault riles or mere pistols. There are a number of scenario rules here describing how the criminals sometimes have to run and fetch their weapons, and how some of the drug-technicians will try to flee the building or surrender. There are rules for checking whether an enemy is armed or unarmed, and rules for arresting suspects. Annoyingly, there are rules for telling armed suspects to drop their weapons... but if a suspect is carrying a weapon, they will fight instead of surrendering. That's either some high-level police procedure simulationism going on, or it's utterly pointless to tell a suspect to drop their weapon, since that just lets them get the drop on you.

If it's simulationism, you can also play the cowboy cop who endangers civilians by firing wildly through the walls to hit suspects at random. There are rules for this.

All in all, it actually looks fun to play; with overwhelming firepower focusing on surviving the harsh reality of PCCS becomes easier, and with only six enemies some of whom might not even try to fight back it'll be a lot shorter than slogging through The Bridge at Oppenheim. There's more variety in weapons available and in enemies. The map provided has a scale, though it's still not very interesting as it includes only the most relevant information; where are walls, doors, windows, and obstacles to movement.

Oh, and it's not playable, because there's still no HLT values provided, and it says to randomly distribute the enemies by dice roll, but the map doesn't tell which rolls lead to which locations. So hey, I'd kind of want to play it but literally cannot, because vital information is missing.

Table Count: 26 (+3)
80's Action Film Dialogue Count: 25 (+7)

The sample scenarios are on the surface of it somewhat dull, although they are playing right into that 80's sense of macho escapism. It could only be more 80's if instead of playing normal US soldiers you played Special Forces. However, the scenarios are let down quite a lot by the fact that they're unplayable. Leading Edge Games seems to never have done quality control on their products beyond proofreading. It's unacceptable, but I find it hard to be harsh here; it feels like one of those fantasy heartbreakers you see, only run under a completely different mindset and with ten times the amount of effort.

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 13:40 on Dec 14, 2014

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