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Barudak
May 7, 2007



Lifepath: Anteater

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Barudak posted:

Lifepath: Anteater

Actually extremely powerful when the Giant Insects attack and the EDF has to fight them.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Alien Rope Burn posted:

"Roll your Resources to keep possession of your rock. 14? Whups, no, the other baboon seizes your rock. You're going to have to get harder than that to make it on the savanna, Choomba."
Monkey Business: Roll +Primate.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




"Bad news Polly, it was bring your daughter to work day and someone snuck a PB&J sandwich into your skull" is not a plot I'd use for a cyberpunk game.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Evil Mastermind posted:

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG



The Akashan realm, not long after their arrival.
... why are the reality trees usually at the edge of a zone

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



SirPhoebos posted:

There’s one more piece of advice in this section, and that is for the Referee to immerse themselves in the genre. As I’ve said, the book is chock full of flavor, and there’s a short story included to show how it all fits together. The book also recommends the Referee read books and see movies that Cyberpunk took inspiration from. The bibliography contains the usual suspects: William Gibson, Walter Jon Williams, Bruce Sterling, George Alec Effinger. Likewise, Filmography has the cornerstones of Cyberpunk as of 1990: Blade Runner, Max Headroom, Mad Max, Robocop, and Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.

Wait, what?

:psyboom:

For those who’ve never heard of this move, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank is a really awful made-for-TV film from 1983, produced by RSL Productions in Canada and financed by WNET and New Jersy Public Television. It stars Raul Julia and no one else you've heard of. The plot is beyond description, but for most of the movie he inserts himself into Casablanca and pals around with himself playing Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine. Almost no one would know about this movie except it was riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1997. And yet here in 1990, Mike Pondsmith is telling Referees to go and watch Overdrawn at the Memory Bank in order to better get Cyberpunk.

I have so many questions about why this is in the Filmography. The biggest is why this low budget public television movie made the list when there are so many movies that didn’t. Not Repo Man, not Escape from New York, not The Warriors, not A Clockwork Orange. Nah let’s send our fans to watch a minute long staring scene between Raul Julia and a guy with only 7 credits on IMDB, because that screams “Cyberpunk!” And the worst part? After typing this out, I think I know why. Overdrawn is the only film on the Filmography that depicts hacking anywhere close to what it’s like in this game. There were other hacking movies out in the Eighties, like War Games, but they didn’t plug the hacker’s brain into a computer. Or at least none that the staff at R.Talsorian had seen. I don’t know if you knew this, but there were a lot of movies made from that decade.

Overdrawn was a big influence on the first Cyberpunk edition, back when the net used customizable user interfaces to run a separate game for the netrunner. A netrunner had three interfaces to choose from, which would spend 2/3 of the next few pages what various programs would look like in each interface: "Dungeon", a fantasy dungeon reality filter that rendered everything like monsters from D&D; "Tronnic", which perceived the net as one would see in the movie Tron or how people would think of it, all neon and chrome and glowing; and this...

Cyberpunk 2013 posted:

Mega City
For the "realist," Mega City is a very popular interface . The universe is a gritty, heavily urbanized city at midnight, based loosely on a cinematic 1930's San Francisco. Programs appear as various gangsters, objects, animals or weapons of the period.

As of Cyberpunk v3.0, the reference is still in there, along with a lot more anime.

I'm can bet you dollars to donuts that it'll remain in the influences list in Cyberpunk RED.

It's interesting that Brainstorm doesn't get a mention, because it's all about virtual experiences, including the government employing weaponized experiences for assassination, brainwashing, and torture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_ZtqsFP1Uc

Halloween Jack posted:

In 1990, you couldn't just go online and conjure up a list of hundreds of dystopian films. (It's unsurprising that Pondsmith was a big anime fan but probably hadn't seen Burst City.) But he had to have heard of the films you mentioned.

Liquid Sky is also an odd choice. It's a weird indie movie about fashion models in NYC doing coke, with the throughline of aliens killing people who have sex. It is considered a movie that really gets the NYC art scene, i.e. struggling young people living in closets and doing drugs and begging their rich parents for money.

I never heard of Burst City until about five years ago. It's unfortunately fairly obscure and was pretty much know by people who knew about the Tetsuo movies. It's also very much in that vein that Pondsmith wants, of rebel rockers taking it to the Man, because the climax is the lead punk band leading a riot, tearing a futuristic rocket rifle from a Japanese Robocop and shooting it wily-nilly, blowing up the neighborhood.

I heard of Liquid Sky for the longest time but only saw it a few years back, but you are loving right. It's very much a contemporary to Repo Man, it's East Coast equivalent except with more androgyny and harder drugs. It's a fairly unusual choice, unless you're trying to get into the mindset of horny, heroined-up fashion models and hangers-on.

I've heard that the various gang fixtures in Night City are heavily inspired by The Warriors, but it is never really mentioned. The real big unsung influence is Streets Of Fire, and it's that influence that often pops up in Cybergeneration (and, apparently, Cyberpunk RED) of campaigns and antagonists being more localized instead of world-spanning conspiracies and globe-trotting heroes.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Evil Mastermind posted:

I know I'd be pretty mad if the game bungled or bobbled the Fingal dopple.

My head canon is that they kept the original soundtrack from whatever low budget nature documentary they got the footage from.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Night10194 posted:

I suspect a lot of what made Hams go the colorful route was its origins as a wargaming setting. After all, if it's canon that you can paint your soldiers in all kinds of vibrant uniforms it makes for a better tabletop miniatures army.

I figure one of the core nations in the setting being based on the Holy Roman Empire also contributed, since it's the age of huge mustaches and mercenaries dressed as well as they are armed, rather than the usual drab medieval stereotypes. That and it mostly predates the seemingly omnipresent 'real is brown' media trope. (mixed up nowadays with bloom and dust)

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

Halloween Jack posted:

In 1990, you couldn't just go online and scroll up some cinemas.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Not to mention the Landsknecht - a pretty badass mercenary unit with a reputation for extremely flamboyant dress

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Robindaybird posted:

Not to mention the Landsknecht - a pretty badass mercenary unit with a reputation for extremely flamboyant dress

The Landsknechts were specifically exempt from the sumptuary laws that regulated what the lower classes could wear. The reasoning being with life expectency in a mercenary outfit being short, getting to dress really extravagantly before your untimely end was an attractive bonus.

The mercenaries made the best of this and purposefully overdid everything they wore. Why have one brightly colored shirt on when you can wear two, cutting up the outer one to make the undershirt show.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



I think it's also good marketing. If you're a lord hiring mercenaries, who are you gonna hire, some losers in poo poo brown and rust-red, or a bunch of guys covered in peacock feathers, shiny zwiehanders, and so many colors your jester faints out of jealousy? These stylish motherfuckers were like hiring a tank brigade that was also a dozen Lamborghinis.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



It was also partly the fact that mercenaries got paid a salary but their bonus was 'looting rights', and fabric was valuable so they looted it a lot.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The Lone Badger posted:

It was also partly the fact that mercenaries got paid a salary but their bonus was 'looting rights', and fabric was valuable so they looted it a lot.

To the extent that they started the fashion trend of slashed doublets. See, if your garish, expensive clothing is slashed, it’s proof you had the skill to kill a guy and take it, leaving slashes.

Until they started making preslashed clothes, anyway.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Mors Rattus posted:

To the extent that they started the fashion trend of slashed doublets. See, if your garish, expensive clothing is slashed, it’s proof you had the skill to kill a guy and take it, leaving slashes.

Until they started making preslashed clothes, anyway.

Everything old is new again.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Young Freud posted:

Overdrawn was a big influence on the first Cyberpunk edition, back when the net used customizable user interfaces to run a separate game for the netrunner.
How easily we forget that the standards for a genre film back then were really, really low. If you were into sci-fi or fantasy in the 80s, let alone some particular subgenre, you took what you could get.

quote:

I never heard of Burst City until about five years ago. It's unfortunately fairly obscure and was pretty much know by people who knew about the Tetsuo movies. It's also very much in that vein that Pondsmith wants, of rebel rockers taking it to the Man, because the climax is the lead punk band leading a riot, tearing a futuristic rocket rifle from a Japanese Robocop and shooting it wily-nilly, blowing up the neighborhood.
I didn't get to see them until recently, although I saw Tetsuo years ago, I knew about some closely related films, and I'm a big Cronenberg fan. That's another thing about fandom that Kids These Days won't understand. We had access to stuff that our friends had, or the local boutique video store had, and we had to rely on friends or a subscription to Fangoria et al to fill in gaping holes in our knowledge of what was out there. And then we didn't buy it anyway because it was way too much money for a lovely imported VHS.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Robindaybird posted:

More and more why I love Warham Fantasy, it feels like a setting people actually live in.

This is your regular depressing reminder that GW deemed this setting insufficiently marketable and blew it all up in agonising detail over the course of five books.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Loxbourne posted:

This is your regular depressing reminder that GW deemed this setting insufficiently marketable and blew it all up in agonising detail over the course of five books.

But now you get to march through the Bloodslaughter Plains to fight over the Skullpile Mountains.

golden bubble
Jun 3, 2011

yospos



To add onto HRE/Warhams love, here is an example of what the richest merchant in town could do.

https://twitter.com/EmpireRomanHoly/status/1105437448505606144

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Don't eat the pies

I find one of the most important bits on the Food chapter is that it puts into perspective how much money PCs actually make compared to the average peasant, or even the average merc in a bigger, safer company. When you're pulling down 30-50 (or more) crowns per extremely dangerous job for you and your 2-4 buddies, let's compare that money against the cost of the basics of living. Meanwhile, even if you're living a pretty high life when it comes to food and drink, as long as you're not drinking unmixed wine or demanding Bretonnian brandy at all hours, you'll be paying 1-2 silver a day to live depending on how expensive your tastes are and how much the dwarf demands to drink. And that's with a character buying fresh, prepared food from a fairly safe source all the time, the equivalent of eating out every time you're in town and aren't living on salt pork and dried nuts. An average Burgher can live comfortably on 5-10 pennies a day. So a single Gold Crown is almost a month's expenses and food for a person.

The money PCs make is a lot of money. It's why people do the insane jobs they do, especially since they usually have an easier time getting around the tax-man. One of the things this book exists to do is to give you thinks to spend your money on besides just a new sword or helmet; we went over it with clothes, but it's the same with food. Maybe your PCs really want a couple bottles of brandy to ease their nerves after a really nasty adventure against rat people; each bottle is 30 silver, which means a crown and a half. Bretonnian brandy is expensive. Same for unmixed wine, at 10 silver per bottle. Which actually leads to another interesting bit: Imperials drink an awful lot of alcohol, at all ages and all levels of society, but most of it isn't especially alcoholic. Wine is drunk mixed (both to keep the water safe and because unmixed wine is too expensive and too potent), and there's an awful lot of 'small beer' around, where the beer isn't especially alcoholic but is alcoholic enough to cleanse the water.

So all these people drinking huge amounts of beer aren't getting sloshed all the time, they're trying not to get dysentery and to get some extra flavor and calories. The detail that the brewers of Marienburg have adopted Bretonnian brewing techniques for their beer and ale tells me you don't want to drink in Marienburg, too; Bret beer and ale is infamous for being as terrible as their wine is excellent. There's a reason they all drink watered wine, instead. Except the nobles; Bretonnian and Imperial nobles both love unmixed wine. Bretonnian brandy is also noted as one of the oldest human liquors. This means that humans have been drinking Bretonnian alcohol since 3000 years ago or so. Alcohol is humanity's friend. You cannot ask them to abandon a friend.

Imperial food tends towards pies, stews, porridge, and sausage. Meat is expensive and isn't eaten at every meal unless you're a noble or a rich merchant. Bread is a constant staple, and they have many varieties to try to avoid going nuts from the monotony. Cheese is very common as an extra bit of flavoring, with Bretonnians preferring soft and mild cheeses while the Imperials like smellier cheese and experimenting with blue cheese and other exotic flavors. Estalians also invented cheddar, and it is much beloved. Fish is very common as a meat dish in Imperial cities, since so many are situated along river routes or near large bodies of water; anywhere people can catch fish to add to their food, they do. Imperials also have a big tradition of street food; there's enough travel and tourism in the Empire's large cities to support it. This is where the Rumster Clan and other less scrupulous halfling food sellers come in; the 2 penny 'meat pie' is infamously unsafe and cooked to a poor standard, but the halflings are skilled enough to make it tasty and enticing. Yes, the halflings have invented dubious fast-food that makes you sick as a dog. That is the great manifestation of wicked halflings: No concern with quality, unlike respectable halfling eateries like the Cock and Barrel from the WHFRP Companion.

And that's about it on food; the Empire doesn't have the same kind of rich culinary tradition as Bretonnia or the Moot itself. What's interesting here is the perspective it gives you on the value of a gold crown to the average person; an Adventurer is making serious money to match the serious risks (and the serious risk that their employer turns out to be a cultist or dark wizard or just a shrewd merchant who knows they can screw a couple rootless vagabonds) they take trying to do freebooter work with a small company.

Since food was so quick, let's continue on. There's a lot on various tools and items and pieces of furniture; I'm not sure why an Adventurer would buy an armoire and neither is the book. It includes one on the off chance you somehow think of a pressing need for cabinets during your grim and perilous journeys, and if anyone has one, I'd like to know. There's the usual assortment of knick-knacks you might carry like dice, cards, etc, and I find myself really longing for Myriad Song's Outfit system, where you'd just say 'I'm wearing a Rogue's Outfit' and it'd be assumed you have your dice, your cards, some hidden pockets, etc and some incidental bonuses from having those tools on your person. It was a really good way to cut out sections like this, which are really mostly filler. I will note that they call the Strigany 'Gypsies' outright when they talk about using the cards for fortune telling (they hadn't invented the name Strigany yet, maybe?) and identify them with Sylvania, and I'm going to keep pointing them out every time because the weird Roma stereotypes should be pointed out and the authors shamed for having them.

We also get some on the musical instruments popular in the Old World: The Harpsichord is all the rage right now among nobles, the Violin is very popular in Bretonnia, Mandolins are replacing the ancient and time-honored Lute, whose time has passed, etc. Music is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, and a skilled composer can make a lot of money; remember that A: Opera is tremendously influential in both the Empire and Kislev and B: The Sigmarite Church absolutely loves sacred music (from Tome of Salvation) and pays a lot to retain the best musicians and writers. Given how dangerous traveling can be, if you wanted to play Johan Sebastian Basch (Legally distinct from Johann Sebastian Bach!) as he travels from patron to patron and city to city writing music and dealing with competition between churches that would probably be fun! Music is also very important to the army, as it's used to set paces and keep soldiers' spirits.

The bit on books and printing is very important because it says that the Printing Press is actually extremely new; a practical and relatively inexpensive Printing Press was only invented 5 years ago, in 2517, by a Gunter Johans of Middenheim. He is (the man is still alive, and improving on his design) a devout Sigmarite who wanted to get around the paucity of Sigmarite holy texts in Middenheim, and so tried to invent a way to print them faster. His invention of block printing has quickly spread through the entire Empire, and caused a revolution in mass media; people can print broadsheets and newsletters, and the new printed books are many times cheaper than older hand-copied manuscripts. Literacy rates are starting to rise because there's suddenly so much more access to books. Wizards and Priests alike are suspicious of this new printing press; Priests worry about typographical errors (especially Sigmarites, who think typos are obviously the work of Chaos trying to corrupt the holy texts of Sigmar) and Wizards complain that a printed textbook can never resonate with magic, craft, and artistry the way a hand-written and illuminated grimoire could. The presses grow more efficient every year; there's huge commercial demand for their production and great excitement about developing them further.

Gin Traps are actually sort of important because a Hunter can use them as an adventuring weapon; you make a Set Trap check (the book lists it as Outdoor Survival, but why? You'd think you'd use the literal Set Trap skill. If there's one sign there are too many goddamn skills in this game it's when the authors themselves forget the edge case skills like this) against an enemy's Perception. Then, during a fight or while you hide in a bush, they wander into your trap and take Damage 1 (small trap) or Damage 3, ignoring armor. That's actually quite powerful; a Hunter PC preparing an ambush with some animal traps could really put a dent in the enemy before you engage.

And with that, we're done with the misc. gear and random tools of Chapter 5. It's mostly useless stuff from a gameplay perspective, and a lot of the random backpacks and tools are sort of filler, but I'm happy enough to have the sections on food, material culture, and clothing.

Next Time: Mercury is too awesome NOT to be good for you

Austria felix nube
Mar 17, 2017

Bella gerant alii, tu Austria felix nube.

Mors Rattus posted:

To the extent that they started the fashion trend of slashed doublets. See, if your garish, expensive clothing is slashed, it’s proof you had the skill to kill a guy and take it, leaving slashes.

Until they started making preslashed clothes, anyway.

That's really interesting — is there any literature on this you would recommend?

The (couple of) history of costume books I've read never elaborated that much; they usually focus on the sartorial function of the slashes (to display the fabric underneath, much like 18th century polonaise gowns, in which the robe was pulled up to better display the petticoat underneath), so assumed the slashes came into use just to maximize ostentatious displays of fabric.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Austria felix nube posted:

That's really interesting — is there any literature on this you would recommend?

The (couple of) history of costume books I've read never elaborated that much; they usually focus on the sartorial function of the slashes (to display the fabric underneath, much like 18th century polonaise gowns, in which the robe was pulled up to better display the petticoat underneath), so assumed the slashes came into use just to maximize ostentatious displays of fabric.

It appears the thing I said was an idea contemporary writers had based in the behavior of Swiss mercenaries in the 1570s, but the fashion may predate that. The best citation I can find is Laver’s Concise History of Costume and Fashion.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 18:40 on Mar 20, 2019

Austria felix nube
Mar 17, 2017

Bella gerant alii, tu Austria felix nube.

Mors Rattus posted:

It appears the thing I said was an idea contemporary writers had based in the behavior of Swiss mercenaries in the 1870s, but the fashion may predate that. The best citation I can find is Laver’s Concise History of Costume and Fashion.

Thanks!

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




So what would the Old World equivalent of Montezuma's Revenge be? The Moot is overflowing?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Armory

Deadly deadly poison

So Chapter 6 is mostly about medicine and poison. There is an awful lot of poison in the Old World. Deadly, deadly poison. This is another good reason to have a 3rd tier Shallyan around whenever possible; they can trivially cure even the worst of poisons and most poisons in WHFRP take some time to kill you. This is one of the reasons they kind of suck for PCs but are amazing for enemies, and poison can often come off as kind of a dick move since it's a save or die (effectively) that bypasses the Wound system most of the time.

But first, let's get into dubious medicines that any PC with Trade (Apothecary) can brew. There are very few Crafting Rules in 2e, because the writers made a conscious decision to focus on adventuring and didn't want to give 'day job' rules. As a result, most of the crafting skills are up to hand-waving. Not so for an Apothecary. For half the price, d10 hours of labor, and a skill check (difficulty determined by the drug), they can make a variety of potentially helpful concoctions. Much like potion brewing for wizards, this is sort of dubiously useful; even half price is crazy for some of these relatively useless drugs. Let's take the most expensive drug on the menu, the Calming Nectar. It costs 300 GC to buy, so 150 to brew (they don't say if you waste the money if you fail) and all it does is temporarily lower Insanity points and remove Insanity. For d10 Minutes. Then you get an Insanity point as your insanity rushes back in. That's definitely worth a massive fortune and a -30% test to brew!

There's also a cheap 'cure all' tonic that does all kinds of random things with only a small chance of doing anything helpful, various drugs that can give tiny 5% buffs for a time (though one of them, Fey-Eyes, also keeps you awake for d10 hours no matter how tired you are while boosting Per, so it's potentially useful), and then there's the weird fact that an Apothecary can apparently brew Bugman's XXXXXX. This is the most powerful ale in the setting, a symbol of national pride to all dwarfs that gives a drinker Fearless for d10 hours, but counts as 4 drinks (You can drink up to TB before you start making Consume Alcohol tests to avoid getting smashed) and Consume Alcohol tests to resist its effects are -20.

Apothecaries can also try to make a specific Cure All herbal remedy to cure any disease a character has, but this takes a Trade test at -30, 2d10 GC, and d10 hours. If you succeed, the drug heals the character instantly; given how fond the game is of the extremely fatal and mutagenic Neglish Rot for anything related to Nurgle this is definitely worth trying if someone catches that and you don't have a 3rd tier Shallyan. If you fail, you roll on a table, with effects ranging from 'useless and you know it' 'counts as one alcoholic beverage' and 'Lose d10 Rounds to poison if failing TB'. Still, if you're gotten one of the nastier diseases and a buddy knows how to make herbal remedies, you're better off rolling the dice. They can also make Healing Draughts, and that's definitely worth it; remember, as long as you're at 4 or more Wounds, those instantly heal you 4 wounds. Carrying a couple healing draughts is a good idea for any adventurer who can afford them.

Poisons are nasty, expensive, and hard to get. They also require the Prepare Poison skill; if you fail at Prepare Poison, your poison is wasted because you messed up putting it in someone's food or spilled it rather than getting a useful concentration of poisoned oil onto your sword or arrow. Poison comes in a few general varieties, even though they have a lot of them listed here: Slow acting poisons usually take days or hours to kill based on TB (giving someone time to go find the overworked 3rd tier Shallyan to save them, or a normal doctor, or an antitoxin kit so they can reroll their save) if someone fails their Toughness save. Fast acting poisons are usually pretty expensive and rare and kill in rounds based on TB after a failed save. Combat poisons often cause a Save or the target takes extra wounds immediately from an attack that injured them. An awful lot of the poisons come from Araby and Naggarond; both places really like deadly deadly poison as a means to settle disputes.

The issue with poison as a combat tool is this: If I hit a serious enemy with a poison that is going to kill them in 5-8 rounds, the chances are we were going to kill that foe with base damage in that time. By the same token, if I get hit by a Chimera and fail a poison save but kill it anyway in the next couple rounds, I'm still hosed unless we've got antitoxins or a 3rd tier Shallyan (She works so hard). And that Chimera doesn't care as much about having a PC for the game next week. Sure, you've got Fate, but you've only got so much. It's something that works 'better' for the enemies because it tends to be so slow. Also, using poison is really expensive. It's much better for slipping it into a cult magus's wine and then watching them choke to death at dinner with plausible deniability rather than using it as a combat option. A neat detail is that they tell you how each poison tastes, and what you'd need to use to disguise it. Considering how many more poisons can be hidden in spicy food, it's no surprise a lot of Imperial nobles prefer a more mild diet even if they could afford the spices.

It's no surprise that almost all the new additions to the 'random junk that doesn't fit anywhere else' table after this are related to neutralizing and detecting poison in food and drink. Getting killed to death by arsenic is a very real concern for the wealthy and powerful of the Old World.

Finally, we get a bunch of religious paraphernalia that I've already gone over in ToS, so I won't be reproducing any of it here. Just suffice to say most people in the Old World carry at least one charm, prayer script, or minor holy object of a favored deity.

At the last, there's the various replacement parts for when you take a nasty crit, lose a limb, and don't have the invaluable 3rd tier Shallyan around to cast Golden Tears and put your arm back on. These will mostly mitigate the effects of losing limbs, and with enough money you can even get a semi-functional (for game terms, fully functional) artificial arm to replace a lost hand, thus putting this game higher on the important 'Can You Be Guts' test. There are no options for integrating a repeating crossbow and/or light cannon into said replacement arm, so marks off for that. In general, the replacement bits are enough to keep you functional-ish after losing limbs, and hopefully you won't lose that many limbs anyway; it takes a nasty crit in the first place and you generally have to also fail to get the limb healed before it's in danger of amputation. A good surgeon will, as long as you keep away from the many variant 'make the Surgery talent loving suck' rules (there will be some coming up in this book, too! It's apparently a Thing for some of the developers) generally be able to save your mangled hand or arm.

Next Time: The Secret Power of the Small But Vicious Dog

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I changed my mind on doing Vampire bloodlines. Instead, I had a much worse idea.

Exalted 3rd Edition: I’m Telling This Story So I Can Tell You A Better One

This review is much different than any review I’ve done in the past three years, and has a lot more in common with my early reviews…because I’m going to be clear right here. I hate a lot about this book. Exalted 3rd Edition has many functional systems, and mechanically it is the best incarnation Exalted has ever had – but that’s a bit of damning with faint praise. 2nd Edition was barely functional, and 1st Edition, while usable, suffered from the flaws of being a White Wolf product of the 90s and early 00s. This edition, the core systems are – mostly, with a few exceptions – usable. Solar Charms are not. Solar Charms are barely readable.

To make things worse, the original lead developers of Exalted, Holden Shearer and John Morke, are scum. They engaged in sexist hiring practices, mistreated their freelancers – some of whom are my friends – and held books hostage to being paid for work they were never asked to do. Morke sexually harassed several freelancers, and Holden helped him cover it up and continues to help him downplay it and shills for his patreon. Their writing is frankly awful, with most of the readable portions of the book reliant on the work of the people they hired, and they managed to make the actual core subgroup, which players were meant to see first and which, for quite a long time, were the only playable group in the entire game, unplayable. They have thankfully been fired, and the pair of people hired to replace them are much better writers and human beings. Later books are actually quite good, which shocked me – I had sworn off Exalted during the original Kickstarter, years ago, for the behavior of Morke and Holden and their treatment of sexual topics in ways lacking any sort of respect.

But before I can tell you about what made me come back to Exalted, about what enthuses me for it now, I have to cover this book. Without it, you will not have context. You will not understand. And unfortunately, this is not a good book. It has good portions. It has very, very bad portions as well, and they take up at least 200 of its nearly 700 pages – likely more. That’d be the Charms section of the book, easily its longest chapter. There is, funnily enough, not a GM advice chapter at all – it was cut for space. Space for more Charms. As was quite a bit of the text from other chapters, from my understanding. This book is 686 pages long. Of that, some 30 are an introduction, another 34 serve to introduce all the splats you wont’ be playing as with this book, 62 are setting material, 14 are chargen, 48 are explaining your character sheet, 72 are rules, 176 are Solar Charms, 68 are Martial Arts Charms and Sorcery, 86 are antagonist rules and examples so your GM can actually run NPCs at all, and the last hundred are equipment rules, primarily taken up by Evocations, which are Charms tied to your equipment. By weight, the book is about 50% Charms.

This and a PDF of backer-funded Solar Charms are the only official material Holden and Morke produced. They gave commentary on those charms in the PDF, some of which was literally mocking the people who wanted them. So that’s fun. Holden also notably told people he wouldn’t give them “bad rules” even if they asked for them. (What people wanted was chargen that didn’t encourage them to make horrifically unbalanced stat layouts because it’d be more XP efficient later, incidentally.)

But I haven’t even begun talking about the book. And hey, at least the art is good. It legitimately is, after they got rid of the Poser and plagiarized stuff. The is a very pretty book if you can’t read the text. The book begins with an overview of the setting’s history, but I can summarize it much more quickly than the book itself does. Exalted has always had something of a problem with overwrought prose, and this book is definitely not an exception. Originally, the world of Creation was made by ancient beings who created gods as their slaves; the gods empowered mortal humans with their own power in order to rebel against those creators, killing some and imprisoning the rest. These humans, called the Exalted, then were given rule over Creation, while the gods retired to Yu-Shan, the City of Heaven. In the First Age, the Exalted created many societies, full of terrors and wonders grander than any imagining, and these splendors are lost in the current state of Creation, with only a few surviving, impossible to replicate. For 5000 years, the First Age stood with the Exalted as its benevolent rulers. (Benevolent-ish. This book is presented from a distinct perspective that rather blatantly favors the Solars; later books will continue this trend but be more upfront about the fact that they’re going to be presenting the history in the best possible light for the characters the book allows you to play. The problem doing this with the core is it wasn’t clear at first that this was the intent.)

However, the fallen creators of the world had laid a curse on the Solars, the greatest of the Exalted, which made them grow wicked, insane and spiteful, turning them into tyrants. They turned on their subjects and each other, and the other Exalted saw no choice but to rebel. The Dragon-Blooded, weak but numerous, rose up against their masters and slew them. Most of the Solars’ Essence was sealed away in a jade prison, to prevent them from reincarnating after their daths. Some escaped, and the war between the Dragon-Blooded and Solar remnant lasted decades, known to those that recall it even happened as the Usurpation. Much of the First Age’s wonders were lost forever. Eventually, the Solar remnant were hunted down and slain, and the world was left a smoking ruin. The Sidereal Exalted, who had allied with the Dragon-Blooded, helped them to keep the world from dying with the First Age, though it was greatly reduced. In its ruins, the Dragon-Blooded raised up the Shogunate, a military government that lasted for centuries, lacking both the grandeur and madness of the Solars’ realms. The Sidereals hid themselves away, erasing their very existence from memory by twisting the stars themselves, and created the Immaculate Philosophy, a new religion that would reinforce the rule of the Dragon-Blooded by painting them as spiritually superior to normal people. The Sidereals hid as monks and advisors, guiding the Shogunate. They watched for the few Solars that continued to reincarnate, arming the Dragon-Blooded to find them and kill them.

Then, the Great Contagion came, a disease that spread over the entirety of Creation. Nine out of ten people in all of existence died, as did nine out of ten of every animal. There was no cure. Cities were littered with corpses, and it seemed all would be lost. Meanwhile, the Wyld, the chaos outside of Creation, from which it had been birthed, came in force. The beings of the Wyld, the Fair Folk, swept across the land in legions, following on the heels of the Contagion. Entire stretches of existence were destroyed, lost forever to the endless chaos of the Wyld. Even the Lunars, the greatest surviving Exalted, could not stop their onslaught. As the Fair Folk marched on the center of Creation itself, all seemed lost, until a single Dragon-Blooded officer braved the defenses of an ancient Solar weapon system. Somehow, she took control of it, awakening the Realm Defense Grid and annihilating the Fair Folk armies, sending them back into the Wyld. In one fell swoop, she became the most powerful person in the entire world. This woman, now known as the Scarlet Empress, replaced the fallen Shogunate with the Realm, her own personal empire.

By alliance and politics, she conquered her foes, and over the course of multiple marriages, she forged a dynasty of heroes, making her own daughters into the leaders of noble houses that would serve her. She set her children against each other to keep them under control while weakening those outsiders that were not loyal to her or bound to her by blood. Her forces, over several decades, conquered much of the Threshold, as she named all lands that were not the central island of her Realm. Only a few could resist her – a coalition of heroes in the East, those realms protected by Lunar Exalted, that kind of thing. She drained the wealth of her new colonial holdings to fuel her Realm’s growth, with the Sidereals kept close as her allies and advisors. She made the Immaculate Philosophy her state religion and she ruled for 763 years, never once allowing her empire to falter, despite the best efforts of the Lunars.

Five years ago, the Scarlet Empress vanished, and the Realm began to fall into chaos. She had never built it to be able to handle her absence – the opposite, in fact. There was no order of succession, because she never intended to die. The Great Houses of the Realm each hope to control who takes the throne, and the Realm’s legions have been called back from the frontiers while a figurehead regent has been put on the throne. Many of the client states of the Realm have begun to withhold tribute or rebel, and the Lunars escalate their attacks. The Deathlord Mask of Winters has risen on a mountainous corpse-beast throne to sack the city-state Thorns, slaughtering the Realm soldiers that defended it and taking it for his own. The Fair Folk begin to rise once more, ready to return to war. And after a thousand years, the Wyld Hunt that tries to murder all fledgling Solars and Lunars has weakened and lapsed. The jade prison that once kept the Solar Exalted imprisoned has been broken, and they begin to reincarnate once more, returning to Creation now, in its darkest hour.

That’s the broad overview setting history, and…well, even I am getting overwrought and I just cut it down from ten pages to about one. Instead, I will share with you the suggested fiction the book gives us, which is…well. It’s something. Some choices are good, others are…I reel with confusion at them. Also at the editing, which seems to bold words almost at random.

Fiction
Night’s Master, Tanith Lee, and also a side mention of her entire Flat Earth series. Sure, fine.
Hawkmoon, Michael Moorcock, and then a side mention of Jewel in the Skull as a story with a perfect example of a Solar, which I don’t think is actually possible because Solars are just…boring? Like thematically, their power is I Am The Best At All Human Endeavor.
The Complete Pegana, Lord Dunsany, which is traditional – it’s where a lot of the inspiration originally came for the spirit-gods of Creation.
Imajica, Clive Barker. I know nothing about this.
The Black Company, Glen Cook. They insist that Creation is a “gritty world, unromantic in its description” which is, um, a hot loving take about a fantasy world trying desperately to be about lost and reclaimed wonder and glory and high martial arts action.
A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin. Yeah. Yeeeeeeah.
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard. I should probably note that Morke loving loves Conan, and admittedly reworking Sorcery to be more Conan-esque wizardry isn’t a terrible idea but the entire, um, issues with Conan go entirely unremarked here in favor of effusive praise.

Classics, which aren’t fiction, apparently.
The Iliad, Homer. Okay, sure.
Journey to the West, Wu Cheng’en. Again, okay, sure, but I think y’all missed a lot of the religious messages here.
The Book of Judges. As a Jew, let me just say: whoa there, buddy, you have definitely misunderstood some stuff, especially if you think the Judges and Prophets represent Solars. Yeah, Samson exists, but…no, no that’s not the thing here. Solars are actually an exceptionally poor analogue for the way Judaism treats these guys! And…and ugh, that’s the problem with these devs, it was always about the surface read and their own idiosyncratic hot takes.

Manga, also not fiction. And shockingly short because these guys hate being told how anime Exalted is.
Inuyasha, Rumiko Takahashi. Inuyasha.
Claymore, Norihiro Yagi. Have I mentioned that Morke is desperately in love with the idea that Creation is grim and gritty?

Anime
Ninja Scroll. Okay, sure.
Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl is apparently a perfect example of a Twilight Caste Solar sorcerer.

TV and Movies
The Bride with White Hair (1993). Okay, sure, wuxia movies should be represented. This one is not high on my personal list of high fantasy wuxia, but tastes vary.
Rome (2004). “Shows off the decadence, filth, and corruption of the ancient world’s most enlightened government” is a phrase used here and hoo loving boy there’s some issues to unpack in that.

Video Games
Dynasty Warriors. Okay, sure.
Final Fantasy VII. Given they made an effort to make magitech far less of a thing this edition and FF7 is all about the tech feel, this is quite possibly the weirdest FF they could pick.
Dissidia Final Fantasy, which makes sense given the combat system.

Next time: The Guys You Can’t Play As

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Black Company and Game of Thrones aren't exactly what I'd think of when I think of Exalted. Why would you even make Exalted if you want to try to pretend it isn't anime as hell? That would be like me pretending my DX game isn't anime as gently caress just because it's about a bunch of antediluvian biblical fanfiction characters and 1890s British people.

Though Exalted does love it some sexual assault and menace. Are the ghosts for 'ravishing and seduction' still in the print copy?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

The Black Company and Game of Thrones aren't exactly what I'd think of when I think of Exalted. Why would you even make Exalted if you want to try to pretend it isn't anime as hell? That would be like me pretending my DX game isn't anime as gently caress just because it's about a bunch of antediluvian biblical fanfiction characters and 1890s British people.

Though Exalted does love it some sexual assault and menace. Are the ghosts for 'ravishing and seduction' still in the print copy?

Nah. That was where I dropped the Kickstarter, but that was a preview for Abyssals, who are tentatively not going to get a book until like 2021 or so. There is some skeevy-rear end sex poo poo in the core of Exalted 3e, however!

Good news - there won't be in Abyssals, the new devs aren't doing new sex charms (and indeed, the new Lunars manuscript had them specifically define physical intimacy for system purposes to include chaste but emotionally charged platonic hugging).

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Night10194 posted:

Though Exalted does love it some sexual assault and menace. Are the ghosts for 'ravishing and seduction' still in the print copy?

Technically that was never in the print copy at all. It was a sort of preview of what they envisioned Abyssals to look like. Fortunately we have new developers now, so that will almost certainly never be in a real book




I'm quite looking forward to this review. I am a big fan of Exalted, flaws and all, and I love a lot of the mechanical improvements that 3rd edition made. That being said, I absolutely hate Holden and Morke for ruining the best chance the game line has had at a real rework to fix its flaws. 3rd edition is much better than 2nd, but it is built on a lot of the same fundamentally unsound principles that 1 and 2 were and it really really didn't have to be, except that Holden and Morke were the worst people for the job.

Mors Rattus posted:

Manga, also not fiction. And shockingly short because these guys hate being told how anime Exalted is.
Inuyasha, Rumiko Takahashi. Inuyasha.

Anime
Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl is apparently a perfect example of a Twilight Caste Solar sorcerer.

Inuyasha was constantly given as an example of the Evocation systems during development, and to be honest it kinda works. The way the Tessaiga keeps getting new powers is a decent map to the way Evocations work.
Howl's Moving Castle, however, I completely disagree with, and they're specifically citing the anime movie here. Think back to that movie. What, exactly, did Howl actually DO? He can transform into a bird monster, summon demons (not really, but kinda) and kinda-sorta fly? His entire character was about not getting involved in poo poo. He is not remotely a Solar, don't just call characters a Twilight because they're wizards.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


So, how did Holden and Morke get the project in the first place? Who were they? Just some WW Fanboys/Freelancers who happened to get given the green light?

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




I've played a couple of Ex2 (and 2.5) campaign as I think I remember the banter between characters more than I ever did the rules for the game. Also solidified by general dislike for White Wolf rule systems so I think I saw some of the Ex3 drama and just never looked back at it again.

Not sure how you manage to mess up the suggested fiction section that much.

Cooked Auto fucked around with this message at 20:04 on Mar 20, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

So, how did Holden and Morke get the project in the first place? Who were they? Just some WW Fanboys/Freelancers who happened to get given the green light?

They were freelancers in the latter days of Second Edition. They took charge and volunteered to write blog entries to keep Exalted content coming out even though no books were. This was not paid work, as I understand it, which it really should have been. In Second Edition, however, the lead dev didn't give a poo poo. About anything. So they had free rein to rewrite the setting as they pleased, and they latched onto that hard. They are probably responsible for the existence of Third Edition at all, because of their loud enthusiasm for Exalted in what appeared to be its dying days and their consistent writing of blog content. Which was terrible balance-wise, but like, it was 2e. Everything was terrible, balance-wise. They essentially ended up in charge by virtue of being loud and writing a lot.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Mors Rattus posted:

Have I mentioned that Morke is desperately in love with the idea that Creation is grim and gritty?
I thought the whole point of Exalted, going back to the original 1E Rulebook, was that this was a game of demigod-tier heroes fighting demigod-tier enemies to determine the fate of all Creation? It's supposed to be Achilles and Beowulf and Cuchulain and Gilgamesh teaming up to storm Mordor and cast down its walls, not grim-and-gritty misery tourism, isn't it?

I swear, that's literally Boring Nerd Move #1: see something shiny? Re-imagine it so it's covered in poo poo. Boom, you're a deep, mature, edgy genius, simple as that..

Somebody fucked around with this message at 23:18 on Mar 20, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Is the Great Curse still like, an actual curse instead of 'man how did all this hubris get in my head, oh wait it was by being an unstoppable God King whose word is unquestioned law and whose charisma makes many people agree with me instantly'?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

Is the Great Curse still like, an actual curse instead of 'man how did all this hubris get in my head, oh wait it was by being an unstoppable God King whose word is unquestioned law and whose charisma makes many people agree with me instantly'?

It's a little of both. The hubris comes natural-like, but the Great Curse, laid by the dying Primordials, makes things so much worse because it causes massive spikes of insanity.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Mors Rattus posted:

I changed my mind on doing Vampire bloodlines. Instead, I had a much worse idea.

Exalted 3rd Edition: I’m Telling This Story So I Can Tell You A Better One

This review is much different than any review I’ve done in the past three years, and has a lot more in common with my early reviews…because I’m going to be clear right here. I hate a lot about this book.

....

Fiction

This review is some written heroin right into my brain veins. Keep feeding it to me, and gently caress Exalted.

Also even in 1st and 2nd ed the Exalted devs and the fanbase seemed to be in intense denial about how anime their game was. "No no, it's clearly taking so much from ancient epics and religious myths and legends!" when it's really just 99% anime, of which a rough half is hentai. It's like, guys, there's nothing wrong with your game being anime. Anime can be good, anime can be fun. You don't have to pretend to be deeper than that. Fun is a worthwhile goal in and of itself.

Mors Rattus posted:

It's a little of both. The hubris comes natural-like, but the Great Curse, laid by the dying Primordials, makes things so much worse because it causes massive spikes of insanity.

I could write an intense wordsy essay on why Virtues have been badly mishandled in every edition of this game and, honestly, I always hated the Great Curse. I mean, it's tragic enough if ordinary human hubris and decadence, supported by superhuman powers and abilities, fucks everything up. You don't need an evil magic curse to guarantee it. If anything that just seems to be something to make things pointlessly grim for no real reason, and cheapening things. It's like when some modern occult setting decides to have a very real tragedy caused because of THE DEMIURGE or VAMPIRES DID IT. That doesn't make your villain more sinister, it just makes the setting more shallow and stupidly edgy.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 20:47 on Mar 20, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


There's also something weird as gently caress to me in seeing they don't actually recommend any martial arts epics or wuxia films or anything as inspirations. You would think that would be in there.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Night10194 posted:

There's also something weird as gently caress to me in seeing they don't actually recommend any martial arts epics or wuxia films or anything as inspirations. You would think that would be in there.

Kung Fu Hustle is literally what happens when a Solar crashes a bunch of Dragonblooded's martial arts feud.

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I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



FMguru posted:

I thought the whole point of Exalted, going back to the original 1E Rulebook, was that this was a game of demigod-tier heroes fighting demigod-tier enemies to determine the fate of all Creation? It's supposed to be Achilles and Beowulf and Cuchulain and Gilgamesh teaming up to storm Mordor and cast down its walls, not grim-and-gritty misery tourism, isn't it?

I swear, that's literally Boring Nerd Move #1: see something shiny? Re-imagine it so it's covered in poo poo. Boom, you're a deep, mature, edgy genius, simple as that.

From the beginning under Geoff Grabowski, Exalted kind of walked a conceptual tightrope where it tried to have a setting of mighty but flawed demigods fighting tragic battles on which hung the fate of Creation, but written from a realist angle, where if you weren't one of the mighty demigods you had to worry about sepsis and cholera, and the subtext of the game was that having Great Men Chosen for Excellence decide the destiny of the world was a bad idea that would lead to tyranny.

It tried to be that. Sometimes it didn't try very hard. Like most White Wolf settings, Exalted has a very confused and self-contradictory history.

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