Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I am, at long last, just about out of hams since I don't think I'll be covering further adventures. I'll probably do a general overview/retrospective because I learned a hell of a lot about the series writing for all this, then follow it up with a short lap through some of the better bits of the Career Compendium because I can't possibly cover that book in the normal style here.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Retrospective

A Case For a Lighter Ham

I'm doing this somewhat in lieu of the insane urge to go back and rewrite a bunch of the original core-book review. I want to stop and talk about all the stuff I've learned about this setting through writing these things, and the conclusions I've come to about why this game became one of my group's favorite games. I also want to talk about the multiple readings possible for the setting, but also about why I'll be holding to my original reading after doing all of this.

First, let's get down to it. Throughout the long write-ups I've been doing the last four years, I have consistently emphasized one of many possible readings of the text that emphasizes the more optimistic elements of the setting, particularly in light of 2e being set with the apocalypse cancelled. This is far from the only reading possible using the same text, and even flowing from the same thesis that most of the worst aspects of the setting flow from acts of brutality and injustice. It is not at all hard to write 2e as a black comedy where corrupt officials and powerful nobles ignore existential threats because they can't actually imagine everything collapsing, only to cause everything to collapse. That basically already happened in the Empire's history in the plague of 1111. Or in the complete collapse of Sigmar's original empire into 3 states during the Time of Three Emperors, which lasted for nearly 1000 years. The Empire hasn't actually been The Empire for nearly half its history. It's easy to imagine and write for a version of the setting where the heroes are barely better than thugs or Chaos Cultists themselves, it's always raining, and the world is teetering on the edge of its doom because the inbred idiots who lucked into running it are more concerned with making sure they get their roast pheasant than worrying about the peasants starving to death or cults running amok.

Part of this is because whether you take the setting lighter or darker, one thing that is absolutely consistent in Hams 2e is that nobility is irrelevant. Not 'evil' or 'good', though more nobles will be evil than decent by virtue of having massive unearned privilege and the means to defend it violently, but irrelevant. Nobility and Aristocracy mean absolutely nothing, despite all the importance the societies in Hams place on bloodline or the way they are still primarily run by hereditary aristocracies. It's something the people of Hams think is really important, but nobles are the same as anyone else. There is no 'better class of people'. There's no Chosen Ones. No God-Kings. The people of the setting are just that, people. Even the ancient elves and dwarfs are still fallible people who are often led astray. This is consistent throughout the entire line, whether it's in Bretonnian peasant women being just as good at being Knights as long as they have the armor on or the merchants slowly buying the Empire from the Nobles or the existence of Ranaldans and their entire schtick. Nobility is irrelevant, and while you've got Fate Points that give you some good luck and genre edges, no-one wrote a prophecy about how you're going to get a magic sword and be the best hero ever. You're just a ratcatcher with a bit of good luck who hung on long enough. Your Noble PC doesn't matter beyond being a decent social character and the way people treat them; their Nobility is a social construct, not a matter of superiority.

As for why I tended to emphasize the lighter reading, I turn to the adventure paths and books for this game and the way they all have extremely unsatisfying endings and a lack of a feeling of progression. I feel like that's one of the consequences of the darker reading; the books tend to feel they need to enforce it by reminding you what you did was irrelevant. Also, I got really into writing for these in response to the End Times, and there's a little bit of a sense of spite in there too. I'm not too proud to admit that 'And then people DIDN'T suddenly turn into massive idiots and let Chaos win' is more attractive in light of the fact that that's how things 'canonically' went and it sucked. One of the best mechanical elements of WHFRP2e is the progression system. Careers are just fun, and give you a tangible sense of improvement as your character moves through a life-path that you play out. It feels like having everything end with the PCs still treated like ragged thugs from day 1 to the end of the campaign misses out on that sense of progress. Plus, it feels really in character even for the lighter read of the setting that people who used to spit on someone like Otto as a simple thug and Protagonist now hail him as a hero and pretend they always knew he was special now that he's got money and an opera written about him. That even works to the theme of how the 'better class' is all a social construct propped up by wealth, reputation, and tradition rather than anything material; not like your now-treated-as-a-noble-and-hero former Peasant had a grand bloodline.

I also take and promote the lighter view because the sourcebooks give the sense that the world changes. The Empire has fallen before, and gotten back up before. The Bretonnian's stasis is specifically unnatural and probably enforced by an evil hellforest. Kislev is always in a struggle to unite its people against an existential threat while dealing with very real and reasonable political tensions. All through the Empire, you see agitators and academics questioning why the nobility has the right to rule. There are forces of reform and change that have nothing to do with Chaos, no matter what the powerful authorities of the setting say. Several of the Bret plot hooks in their own book are 'And this is when the Revolution starts'. Ranald and Verena exist. You get the sense that if you come back to the setting in the 2600s, it's going to look different. The Colleges of Magic have opened whole new avenues of advancement, both civil and military, and other nations are trying to match them or develop their own versions. Technology is moving and changing. There are religious reform movements and heterodoxies within all the major cults. There are so many avenues for a campaign to be about really changing something in the setting, which I should know, because I've played in those campaigns! I've gotten to fight in the Bretonnian Revolution of 2623 from multiple perspectives. My current PC is a Sigmarite religious reformer and junior Witch Hunter and veteran of the Siege of Middenheim who preaches against the Flagellant Orders and Monodominants. I ran a campaign set in the early 2600s about a Lahmian trying to help the Norse in their rebellion to throw off Chaos's yolk, because that hook was already written into the Norse! These things were already here, in these books; we just chose to write our campaigns about them instead of just fighting lovely cults at every moment like the adventure paths. Still fought plenty of lovely cults, though.

One of the most interesting things for me personally was discovering how much stuff I thought my GM made up entirely was in the books. We have a long-running meta-thread about the Old Ones in our campaigns, and how they created the species of the world to fuel their economy and immortality by the systematic sacrifice and harvest of the lives of their creations. And how Chaos was originally introduced to the world as part of a rebellion against that order. Imagine how surprised I was when I was doing the Realms of Sorcery writeup and saw that, right there, as one of the theories presented about the Old Ones. Now, it's not exactly what our group's take ended up being, but the basic outline was already in the game as one possible theory proposed by characters in setting about who the Old Ones were and why they made everyone. There are so many intriguing, interesting hooks and mysteries about the setting presented in the margins in the sourcebooks. Enough to let you decide what direction to take your games, while still suggesting all sorts of wild stories. You want to focus on the Dragon Ogres and what happens when their pact with Chaos breaks down? That plot hook is there. You want to explore what the hell the Lady of the Lake really is and how Grail Knights are made? There's material to either let you play them straight or make her a monster.

And some of that comes through something else that comes across in all the setting books: The people of the Old World are actually trying to answer these questions. Magisters ask why magic works how it does. They come up with theories, they study history, they observe the world. Natural historians and scholars genuinely try to understand the fantastical beasts of the world. Historians and Archeologists puzzle over what drove the ancestors of the Empire from the East and into the Reik Basin, or wonder what life was like in ancient Nehekara. People travel to other lands and learn about other peoples. The people of the world explore their world and wonder why it works how it works, and they come up with these plot hooks themselves. Which also means someone is going to pay your PCs good money to go into the dark forest and explore ancient ruins for clues to dark, secret mysteries. They might backstab you later, though. Lotta backstabbing employers in this world. The fact that the people of Hams Fantasy actually care about how Hams Fantasy works is one of the reasons it's so appealing.

And so, with all that material there, and with that material being the sort of stuff we used in the games I've run and played in, that's what I chose to emphasize when giving my reading and take on the setting material. Hams can be written very differently from the impression my writeups give. I merely gave the reading I think is most fun, and that produced a bunch of great games I was excited to share with other people.

Next Time: Mechanical Impressions

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer


As a pervy elf fancier, Liniel's collection of hats makes my heart warm.

I'm glad for the others too. You write good denouements.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Manufacturing guns is much MUCH more perverted than haberdashery!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


By popular demand posted:

Manufacturing guns is much MUCH more perverted than haberdashery!

She's going to show up in my current game as a potential source of Engineer Weapons for their 'covered in guns' pulp hero soldier a century later for their polar expeditions.

E: That's actually another thing I appreciate: How much of the stuff that gets written up in these reviews ends up being something I use in the games I run or that my other GM uses. The material in these books makes you excited to use it, but I also just end up with a bunch of NPC ideas and things from these writeups.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:53 on Jun 3, 2019

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


Night10194 posted:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Retrospective


Your write ups were excellent, and have inspired me to try at least one "Strange Outcome" run of Total War: Warhammer.

EDIT: It would probably be easiest to do this as a Co-Op campaign. My pick for Peak Odd Couple would be Clan Pestilens+Cult of Sotek.

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 18:03 on Jun 3, 2019

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Lynx Winters posted:

The spell box is one of those things that works pretty well in a video game where you're not wasting other people's time by trying to find your perfect configuration, not mangling someone's cards, and not taking up a bunch of table space with a half-assed minigame that only you interact with. But this is Monte Cook, so of course we don't even get basic ideas like "this spell uses a weird shape" to at least justify why you'd use physical space instead of slots or just a capacity score. A game about how everything is supposed to be all weird and not like the real world and he can't even rip off Tetris correctly.

As a video game, a spell system that's essentially tetris where your day starts with you filling your bag with spells whose size corresponds to power and trying to pack them in a densely as possible as using them requires you to pull them out from the top down without pulling out or dislodging another spell. On the table, it'd be fiddly as hell, but it'd be a neat thing to do ala Torchbearer.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Retrospective

Mechanical Merits and Flaws

Overall, WHFRP2e is a mechanically solid game, though you wouldn't know it from the pre-published adventures. Which is baffling to me; the core game and system is really well put together! Something I was foolish not to cover in the original is the actual extended author's note from author Chris Pramas in the Core Book, where he talks about what he altered from WHFRP1e and why. It's really helpful! Stuff like 'we were very careful to reign in S and T advances because they have a direct effect on damage' or 'We made armor more effective to get rid of 'naked dwarf syndrome' where dwarf PCs tended to be tougher than plate-clad humans' is neat. As is learning that advancement is actually slowed down in 2e, while a lot of attention was paid to re-balancing the starting careers so that nobody was worthless. In 1e (which I cannot review, never having run, but I have read) you'd have classes with over a dozen skills while other classes had one. That was removed and 1st tier basic careers were heavily standardized, which I think was important from both a mechanical and narrative standpoint.

As I said, one of the big things in WHFRP2e is that your characters are just people. A Charcoal Burner or Peasant still being a useful adventurer with real skills and abilities does a lot to sell the whole 'anyone can be the hero with a bit of luck' feel. This same feeling also helps a lot with challenging high level PCs. I'm running the Chronicle of Pferdekrieg as a single-player game staring Li Na the badass bandit queen, and despite her being as strong as a fighter gets without Chaos, Bret Knight, or Vampire abilities, I can just make a reasonable human enemy who can challenge her among the ranks of other Princes' courts and armies. Because anyone can get that strong given enough time, experience, and luck. You get tough, even heroically tough, without ever hitting a point where 'ten bandits hiding in the woods with crossbows' is completely trivial.

Starting characters are still competent enough. The reason they feel less so is primarily the really, really poor adventure design in the pre-mades. You don't throw -10 and -20 tests constantly at characters with 40% base chances, damnit. Fate and Fortune make up a ton of the difference, but not enough to deal with that. The base skill and talent systems work, and Skill Mastery (the ability to buy +10s and +20s in skills over time) makes a real difference. 2nd or 3rd tier characters become really consistent with their skills. Talents, Skills, and stat advances give the writers enough mechanical levers to distinguish classes, and the system doesn't break down under normal circumstances at high levels. High level play is honestly really fun. The other thing I've learned over time is the system takes well to modification, but you have to use what exists already as a guideline. +1 damage is actually kind of a big deal. Creating new talents is mostly unnecessary, and same for new skills, but if you pay attention to the existing classes creating new Career tracks is actually pretty easy, as I did with the Amazon Warrior track for a game set in Lustria. New gear can be difficult, because the original gear is already pretty balanced (though some of it is on the weak side); you saw the game run into that problem itself in Old World Armory.

The issue with creating new equipment is that by nature, equipment has to rely on side-grades rather than direct variance in numbers. With a limited number of weapon traits, this can make some proficiencies disappointing. Take Crossbow. For whatever reason, Repeater Crossbows pay a huge premium to be able to rapid fire without Rapid Reload, and are Damage 2. Crossbow Pistols are just shittier Pistols and Gun would be more useful for pistols. Most classes that can learn Crossbow could also have learned Longbow in its place, and usually have Rapid Reload, which would let the Longbow fire like the Repeater but at +1 Damage and +1 AP, so generally effectively +2 damage. Which also means the longbow is generally as effective as the standard Damage 4 Crossbow, whose only claim to fame is being a good weapon for unskilled characters as a ranged option (which is a good place for an Ordinary weapon, don't get me wrong). Or how the Main Gauche Parrying Dagger effectively does nothing a Shield isn't already doing besides being a little smaller and taking Parrying prof. I'm okay with (even glad of) gear generally having a low variance on damage and base numbers, but some of the weapons end up presenting no reason to ever use them as is. Adding in new weapons can be a challenge. Same for armor, because end of the day, there's only 1-5 AV and AV 2 and AV 4 are already covered (though the AV 4 armor in Old World Armory sucks).

The biggest mechanical flaw in the system is Swift Attack. Number of attacks is actually pretty important to have in the game with the rest of the combat system's design. It really is; if you only have a 35% chance or whatever of doing damage after DR, active defenses, and to-hit even at higher levels, you need to be swinging more than once. The issue is Swift Attack being a 'plant feet and swing' move like in D&D 3e. Because of this, the character that charges is usually going to be disadvantaged against the character that gets charged in a duel of high level combatants. Or even low level combatants, as long as they have 2 Attacks or more. Once you can swing twice, you're never incentivized to do much else in combat. Feints mathematically don't make it easier to hit someone than just swinging twice and trying to get through their active defenses that way, since you have to succeed, beat their check, and then succeed an attack again anyway and give up your multiple attacks to do it. Maneuver is always an edge case at best. All Out Attacks, which are normally an interesting mechanical choice (give up all active defenses for +30 to hit) lose a lot of luster when you could instead keep your defense AND swing twice. The same comes down to the rate of fire and action economy issues guns and crossbows have next to King Longbow. Sure, Liniel's twin pistols worked great, but that's why you tend to see gun characters use pistols and the musket kind of falls off over time. A crossbowman with Sharpshooter making Aimed fire at +20 is still less advantaged, generally, than a Longbow user shooting twice. The Combat System is reasonably simple no matter what, but Swift Attack is just so much stronger than other options that I wonder if it shouldn't have just been 'you make attacks equal to your Attacks characteristic' in most cases as the standard half-action or Charge attack.

The other big flaw is the way magic items are done. There's never really a solid 'guideline' on what magical gear is like. Sure, PCs are relatively unlikely to have much magic gear in WHFRP, but it can certainly come up, especially if you're actually using the Trappings system (which is itself another flaw, I'll get to it) and thus your Wizard or whatever needs a Magic Item to keep promoting. Magic Items tend to have huge bonuses attached that throw off the normally restrained system math. An SB+4 WS+20 weapon is loving nuts. Or a Damage+3 weapon that gains Impact, like one of the Master Runes. Even something with 'just' +10% WS like Otto's gloves is a huge bonus! Especially as these can go up and above normal caps. I have played a PC who got to 90% Toughness through Exalted Lord of Chaos, Chaos Armor, and mutation (Joan of Lyonesse's meeting with the Lady went very badly) and I can tell you the system starts to creak a little at DR 14, which is achievable for a more normal PC with magic armor. Still, this kind of stuff is an edge case. I also note that in the late books, they start to lose sight of how powerful 'Ignores Armor' is. Ice Magic is loving full of Ignores Armor. When you put down Ignores Armor you have to mentally remind yourself this means 'is 1-5 Damage higher than listed'. Armor is loving important!

Which is also why the Trappings system and the instinct to never, ever actually loving pay PCs can really suck. Armor is vitally important to the party's fighters. Armor is VERY EXPENSIVE. Armor is also required as a Trapping for promotion for a lot of fighters. If you're going to write into your adventure paths that PCs are constantly poor and never paid real money for their work, don't loving link their expensive items to them being able to class change! There's a reason we've always ignored that rule. If you use it, either your Squire ends up in Full Plate by the end of their first career (which as you saw with Otto is a huge boost to even a 1st Career fighter) to promote to Knight or they're stuck not really promoting because they can't afford plate. Either can potentially derail the flow of a character's progression for a kind of nonsensical rule as it is.

One thing I can definitely say for WHFRP2e, though: Outside of some pretty broken options like Virtue of Heroism (which was at least cool as hell to play) it does not become Rocket Tag. If you're keeping up on gear and things are balanced, you'll be able to take a few hits. Given my original experience was with WH40KRP, this was a huge goddamn relief when coming to Fantasy.

Finally, mechanically, the Career system is just goddamn great and nothing else has ever really managed to pull it off. You get enough options to do unexpected or odd characters, not to mention the '200 out to whatever Basic you want' rule, while still having coherent tracks of development and enough guidance that you pretty much can't build a 'useless' PC. The classes are fun and flavorful and give you a real sense of, well, a career. Liniel would have been a totally different character if she went Courtier. You're also always gaining stuff. Multiclassing/taking a diversion can take awhile, but it's because you're learning a ton of stuff, most of it useful. There's a great sense of your characters becoming broadly competent and good at things, and the pace of advancement is generally pretty good, though 2nd careers can slow you down a lot. About the only main class track I'd complain about is Priest; I wish they got their defining Divine Lore in Career 2. It takes forever to actually learn your God's magic and it can be really frustrating in play. Especially as they suddenly need to dump 500 EXP (five sessions, on average) into slowly learning Petty Magic, which isn't that useful. A friend proposed a solution wherein you'd get Mag 1 and Petty Magic in Initiate and then advance into either a fightery-Warrior Priest who still only has Mag 1 or an Anointed Priest at Tier 2 and get the Divine Lore immediately (with both those exiting into each other) that I'd like to try out some time. But as it stands playing a Priest can be a slog for a long time until you get your tricks.

Overall, WHFRP isn't going to set the world on fire, but it works. And it even brings a great advancement system to the table, as well as a general sense of restraint. Some of the specific authors get too hot and heavy on stuff that ignores the Wounds system, and Mutation being a sudden 'save or it happens' is a bad idea too considering the possible consequences. The entire Insanity system is trash and should generally be ignored for being both kinda offensive to mental health issues (like most San systems) and generally not well thought out. But those issues aside, the system fundamentally doesn't require hardly any houseruling to play just fine and works out of the box. Hell, Insanity is even explicitly optional in the Core Book as it is. In this deep dive, nothing really changed that impression, besides showing off that all the one-hit kills in Tome of Corruption feel pretty bullshit next to the generally non-rocket-tag nature of the game.

Next Time: Things I Learned

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




megane posted:

No idea, but it doesn't matter since the same number will fit without rotation. It would matter if they had different shapes (even rectangles that just don't divide nicely into the size of the box, such as fitting 3x1s into a 4x4), but... here we are.

Wapole’s post seemed to show actual rectangles though. Which means that in a 4x4, two 2x4s or two 4x2s would fit, but one of each would not. I don’t know if any of the cards are portrait style though.

And I don’t know if it’s just piracy either. Sensory aspects of RPGs are important, this was just a dumb way of doing them.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




hyphz posted:

Wapole’s post seemed to show actual rectangles though. Which means that in a 4x4, two 2x4s or two 4x2s would fit, but one of each would not. I don’t know if any of the cards are portrait style though.

And I don’t know if it’s just piracy either. Sensory aspects of RPGs are important, this was just a dumb way of doing them.
You're allowed to, with the right upgrade, fold them in half, I assume you're allowed to rotate them.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





A friend just said 'Invisible Sun is Harry Potter for Planescape fans' and I think they got a hole in one.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007



Does this whole thing with all the different props for Invisible Sun remind anybody else of 90's video game copy protection schemes?


"To find the correct passphrase, consult the table on page 67 of the manual."

vs.

"To find out if your vislae will accomplish the task, flip the Sooth Dial on your Hypocthonic Fate Ladder as many steps as there are inverted Bene on the top card in your Axiomatic Conundrum pile, turn the Equipotent Shade Medallion two steps to the right (three steps if your vislae possesses more than one Miasmatic Ephemera), then consult the lower half of the Celestial Puissance Board for your result."

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Comrade Koba posted:

"To find out if your vislae will accomplish the task, flip the Sooth Dial on your Hypocthonic Fate Ladder as many steps as there are inverted Bene on the top card in your Axiomatic Conundrum pile, turn the Equipotent Shade Medallion two steps to the right (three steps if your vislae possesses more than one Miasmatic Ephemera), then consult the lower half of the Celestial Puissance Board for your result."

I would 100% believe that was in the rulebook. In fact, I have chosen to do so. If I am wrong, never tell me

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Congrats on the job well done, Night! Very enjoyable and very interesting series which generally sold me on the whole shebang.

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Zereth posted:

You're allowed to, with the right upgrade, fold them in half, I assume you're allowed to rotate them.

Folding printed cards for a TTRPG just rubs me the wrong way. But then, I'm the sort who doesn't tear up cards for Legacy games and such.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




Xelkelvos posted:

But then, I'm the sort who doesn't tear up cards for Legacy games and such.

Yeah that's something I don't think I could get myself to do. I mean if it was printed copies sure, but with how much boardgames cost I don't think I could do rip anything from it in half or anything.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Retrospective

4 years and hundreds of pages later...

So, I actually learned a ton about both the game and setting by doing this project. It's one thing to read the books a bit when you're just reading for yourself. Reading to actually explain them to others or do analysis stuff is different! One of the reasons I'm a bit sad this is actually ending is because pretty much every book contained something that surprised me in one way or another when I went deep on them.

Probably the biggest surprise to me is how empty Sigmarism is. The religion defines itself entirely by what it's against and can fall into the trap of only being for 'hey you should do whatever the people with all the money and power say, and they should also have all the money and power'. You can see all kinds of avenues to fix that, but as written it's kind of a hollow shell of state religion that actually completely destroyed the Empire once. Sigmar's religion killed Sigmar's Empire. Because the more you actually read into the stuff on the Time of Three Emperors the more you see that it was Sigmarism attacking the other cults (and doing it after Sigmarism had outright exterminated a legitimate religion, Vylmar's party cult, for being 'too Slaaneshi') that eventually broke faith in the Electoral system and caused a total breakdown of order. Yes, a Sigmarite Seminarian and devout worshiper working in Sigmar's name then put the Empire back together a millennia later, but he did that partly by trying to take away some of their weapons for trying to bully other religions and setting up means to let the other Cults talk before it gets to civil war again. Sigmar totally ruled. Sigmarism is something to be careful of, even if it could also totally rule with some work.

I was also disheartened to notice a general issue with sexism in the way the Empire is written. It's not glaring, and I'm okay with the Empire being less totally equal than Kislev (though I'd be equally okay with just...dropping that and think that for official material 4e doing so is a much better idea; best to make the official book as permissive and inclusive as possible) but the way it's written as a nebulous thing enables stuff like the rampant misogyny in Forges of Nuln. Making it a vague 'well women don't normally do the same jobs as men but you certainly can' sort of thing is the kind of writing that lets shitlords worm their way in and talk about 'realistic' prejudice or whatever in this, the setting full of elves and fire wizards. We're already all fighting the devil in the HRE except it was founded by a version of Conan who loving loved tax laws, calenders, and roads. Things can be different. Things don't have to justify being different. You never see those same people complain the loving Steam Tanks are unrealistic, now do you? But little bits like the inexplicable 'the Colleges of Magic take fewer women and push them towards Life Magic' sidebar and stuff hurt the game and don't even make sense within the fiction, when the Colleges normally consider choosing a Wind as a deeply personal and sacred act. While I love Hams 2e, I will call out the places it could be better and I will happily report that those places actually did improve significantly in 4e's fluff writing.

I really enjoyed discovering the subplot about how Mutation is written in Fantasy, because I think it's emblematic of what attracts me to Fantasy. I'd never noticed quite how much there is about how the ostracizing of Mutants is actually hurting the Empire and other nations. I really enjoy Chart taking the time to make a place like the town of Uisen in Bretonnia, or mentioning that there are communities of Mutants in the Border Princes who resist the Dark Gods and live in a normal community. Or the bits about how the Shallyans run secret asylums to protect Mutant children from the Hunters. Instead of being an uncomfortable thing about genetic purity or whatever, the fact that Mutants are just people and that the Old World is making an outright mistake that only aids the forces of Chaos by casting them out and fearing them is the kind of stuff that makes me fond of Hams. It helps reinforce the theme that a lot of the issues the world faces come from brutality. The Hard Man making Hard Decisions isn't a hero in Warhammer Fantasy. He's making a mistake and taking a coward's way out. The fanatical Hunter who would burn a village to ensure they killed their target isn't helping anyone. You see that reinforced even more in the Border Princes, where the reason principles are hard to come by is all the people without them proudly proclaiming they're too smart and hard to abide by agreements or do the right thing...and they don't actually do any better for it, they just drag everyone else down with them. That becomes part of the joke: The Hard Man proudly proclaiming he's a genius moments before he gets his rear end kicked because now he's all alone and surrounded by orcs.

Similarly, I really didn't expect much of Renegade Crowns and it was instead one of the best surprises in the line. I adored making Pferdekrieg and really enjoyed the writing in the book once you get down to what it's trying to say. Hams makes for good dark comedy even if you're going for the somewhat lighter tone I prefer. I had never thought of playing a 'generate a map and a sub-setting' style of map-campaign before, now I'm running one off on the side. Not everything in that book is great; the wandering monsters step sucks and I'm not entirely sold on the Realm Management system (though I appreciate it's intent and I do like the Measure Time In Adventures conceit), but the basic history and landscape and especially Prince generation rules are great and produce fun realms full of backstabbing assholes and torrid love affairs.

I was also very pleasantly surprised by Lure of the Liche Lord. The Hams Undead rule, the Tomb Kings are one of the coolest ideas in Hams, and I was really glad to see their one appearance in 2e was well done (even if you'll need to write your own non-poo poo endings). I really think that book was onto something with the Toolbox campaign structure and would've liked to see more Adventure Books in a similar vein rather than seeing stuff like Paths of the Damned.

I also want to thank everyone who has read my nonsense about a silly British fantasy setting that's over 30 years old. I really enjoyed doing the close-reading and writing for this series and I'm sad to see it come to an end. Even if you don't use the 2e Rules System (preferring to use the new 4e, or some other system entirely) I hope a few people will give the setting a try as an RPG setting, because it's been great for me and wonderful to share it with you all. I firmly believe Fantasy is a great example of how to actually roll with cliches and run with them and make something of them. You can, without prior experience, recognize almost every element in Warhams Fantasy. You don't need to memorize hundreds of pages of backstory to appreciate a Landscknecht halberding the gently caress out of the Devil. Or to appreciate Dracula hanging out in his castlevania, occasionally punching orcs. But almost every cliched fantasy trope in the setting has some twist or deeper bit to it or how it fits together with the others, and almost all of them make it feel more like a place where people actually live and some random ratcatcher accidentally ends up the hero, with a (worn out) statue built to them and their small (but vicious!) dog in the town square. Crapped on by pigeons for all time.

The End

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


That's what gets me the most: You are expected to damage a product that you spent, what, $250 dollars on?

I said in the discord that whenever Monte Cook comes up, I feel like I'm missing something as why he gets ragged on so hard here. I think I'm starting to get it.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm legit just about out of stuff I can even F&F, let alone out of hams. I could do Spycraft 1e, I suppose. If anyone wants to see an example of something struggling mightly against the OGL of old.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


The book starts out with a very basic title page, credits page, and table of contents. One interesting touch is that the contributing artists section also lists every page where their art appears. Many of the artists are familiar names from the furry scene of the turn of the millenium.

The TOC tells us that we're in for a fairly standard organization. The first third of the book is devoted to establishing the world, then comes character creation, followed by the rules of play, and the last third of the book is dedicated to all the lists and tables that an RPG of this era requires.

First off:
Prelude:Into the Verticals




A short piece of fiction establishes the character of Azliet and how she got started on a life of adventure. Azliet is in fact the sample character; we'll be seeing her again as an example of character creation. I'm pretty sure this story is a dramatization of an actual adventure run during the game's development/playtesting. Azliet is a Cani, the dog species, and before she started adventuring she works as a healer. The story is framed as Azliet explaining to her family what sort of trouble she got into after she comes home. It turns out that one of her patients, also a Cani, got herself knocked up by someone other than her spouse. The patient tried going to a ritual mage to have a Purebreed Puppy spell cast, (spells in this setting seem to have very on-the-nose names), but the mage basically extorted her. Azliet, being a good girl and too helpful for her own good, volunteers to help by trudging off into the wilderness to find a substitute for the rare magical ingredient the mage demanded. She decides not to ask her family for help, because Cani tend to be gossips and this is supposed to be a big secret, so instead she goes to the local hooligan miscreant adventurer hangout to try to find some recruits within her budget.

At the bar, there's three potential adventurers. The Rassimel (raccoon) knight-wizard is a huge dick and says he's not going to waste his time helping an adulteress avoid consequences for her actions. Maybe next time don't open with your patient's whole case history, Azliet. The other two adventurers are Rrenga; a Sleeth (panther) freelance mage, and Herobash; a Khtsoyis (Flying cephalopod thing???) brute and blunt object enthusiast. They also think that that knight-wizard is an rear end in a top hat, so they agree to help out of spite. A bit of haggling ensues: Azliet doesn't have a lot of money, but healing magic is always valuable and she agrees to bind some useful spells to her new companions. The story ends with Azliet, her old college roommate that decided to come along too, and the two newcomers hiking to the edge of the branch they live on, and starting their descent into the Verticals, the wilderness of weird twisted plant life that grows on the side of the giant branch.

The tone of this story suggests that the focus of World Tree is on fairly personal adventures. While it's certainly possible to run a game about huge world-threatening events and epic conflicts, I think the Blooms were more interested in smaller scale events. We’re given a quick glimpse into what daily life is like in the setting; the different species tend to all live together if not without prejudices. Magic is commonplace, binding (whatever that means) a useful spell 14 times is considered a two days of skilled work but is otherwise unremarkable. Cani have very complex relationship drama family bonds. In some ways, the setting sticks to genre traditions: bars are the best place to pick up adventurers, and professional wizards are jerks.

Also, Herobash named his clubs “Hero-club” and “Bash-club” and that’s kind of cute.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




I really don't think thwarting piracy was anything more than a minor side-benefit to IS. After all, none of the feelies are strictly necessary to the game, and now it's all available in legit PDF anyway. You'll basically just miss out on the plastic hand.

It's just a prestige thing, which I totally get as a basically attractive principle for consumers. The problem being it's all overwrought ephemera in service of an at-best mediocre game that is itself buried underneath a bunch of shallow pseudo-philosophical pretension.

A lot of these speculations, about this and other things, frame Cook as this weird schemer, and that makes me uncomfortable. He's just making the games he wants to make, that have the right combination of accessibility and production values that they're pretty popular. The fact that they're mechanically "fine, I guess" at best or even just "lovely" is pretty incidental to how popular they are, which shouldn't be surprising since that's the way the this industry has always been.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009




I've enjoyed your reviews a lot, Night! You single-handedly got me truly interested in Warhammer Fantasy as a setting, and I've enjoyed every review. I recently started a tabletop WHFRP game with my friends using some of the ideas you suggested, including the PCs initially being hired by what they don't know is a vampire and setting the game in Bretonnia.

Thanks a bunch!

Cythereal fucked around with this message at 22:20 on Jun 3, 2019

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!


Thanks for all the reviews, Night, you helped put words to some things, especially in the Rogue Trader review, that I'd picked up on but had trouble formulating properly.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm just glad people enjoyed me yelling about hams for longer than it took to write my thesis.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




I'd almost want to call dibs on Soulbound, the Age of Sigmar RPG, but it's at least a year or so until that comes out.

Otherwise there is always The Enemy Within
If anything I'm amazed at the amount of work Cubicle 7 is putting into the new WHFRPG edition.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I admit I'm very leery of the 'repeat a bunch of the stuff from 1e' element of it, though. I want to see new stuff! I want the goddamn elf book I was promised all the way back in Sigmar's Heirs.

I actually like Hams Elves damnit

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



My understanding is that they are in fact working on an elf book, at least.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Which I am eager to see!

Also, seriously. Gnomes and not Ogres. Though I know the real reason they won't do playable Ogres is because their own size rules would make them insanely powerful.

E: Ogres are great and should be playable in more things is all I'm saying.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 22:38 on Jun 3, 2019

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013




Chapter 3 and a quick Chapter 2 retrospect

So, before we got on to chapter 3, I'd like to say chapter 2 does provide lots of very useful political framework for the groups that wish to play games more rooted in the realm of bureaucracy and Realpolitik. Indeed, it really goes to show how one Great Woman convinced of her own genius can basically kill her entire legacy by making herself too irreplaceable to the system. The ministries are broke because of massive corruption due to the lack of magistrates, the magistracy is broken because no one can make more of them and some in the ministries are keen on reducing the magistracy's numbers further, the All-Seeing Eye has no one to focus it on anything useful, and the Deliberative was never meant to be a functioning political body to begin with. I did really love the small detail about how no one at all can access a few of the Treasury's vaults, both as yet another reinforcing feature of the "a hero figure that focuses everything around her personal gain is actually the worst person ever" since those vaults are lost due to her gently caress-ups in not disseminating the passwords to anyone, and because that's a pretty cool rear end adventure hook for people on the Blessed Isle. I also like how often the Empress co-opts other people's drives; the magistrates are all people with a grudge against the Great Houses, the Deliberative is full of her rivals and is meant to be an "award" to them, and so on. It really makes her come off as less of a bloodthirsty Final Fantasy villain and more like an over-the-top real world monarch.

Anyway, yeah, chapter 3.


The chapter fiction for this chapter depicts a group of House Nellens legionaries being ambushed by bandits on patrol. I forgot the chapter 2 fiction, which was a magistrate and her archons getting jumped, but I'm too lazy to go back and do it, sorry :v:

The Imperial legions were founded after the Scarlet Empress had conquered the Blessed Isle with a motley crew of surviving Shogunate officers, peasant militias, and conscripts on familiar Shogunate military organization. At the height of the Empire's expansion, there were a whopping 81 of them around, all loyal to her, but 40 were all that were active by the time the Empress left the building. During the early days, the Empress leaned on Shogunate officers she knew before the Contagion to command, but after they started dying, began replacing them with mostly outcastes, who were utterly loyal to her own interests, and a few trustworthy Dynasts. After she vanished, the Great Houses, ministries, and even a few All-Seeing Eye intelligencers got together realizing that they needed to neuter the legions now, or risk an outcaste general usurping the throne (or more likely, several gunning for it and causing untold destruction). So, on the Celebration of Seven Shattered Helms, an annual parade in which the legions all show up to show off in front of the Imperial Palace, Bal Keraz shows up in her majesty's place and says something to the effect of, "Well, guys, you're really valued, but we're going to have to do some downsizing because of our budgets." The legions got the hint when the plaza was surrounded by forces loyal to the Great Houses.

Afterwards, the legions were divvied up among the Great Houses according to power plays in the Deliberative. Outcaste officers were replaced with ones from the Houses either through direct dismissal or more indirect means, such as blackmail, false criminal charges, or just flat-out assassination. Indeed, two of the Crown Marshals, who helped plan the overall strategy the legions were to take with the Empress, were executed on trumped up evidence and a third sent to the infamous prison, Ice-Above-the-Water. The rest got the hint and are now in hiding. This has killed morale among the legions; desertion is at the highest it's been in centuries, and insubordination is all too common. Indeed, while some legions listed as disbanded were merely carved up and its members reassigned to other legions to get them to full strength, some just flat-out went rogue. Saloy Hin, general of the 17th "Sirroco" Legion, refused the order to bring his legion back to the Realm and is now wandering the far South with them, and the 19th "Maelstrom" Legion had a full dragon (500 troops and its associated Dragon-blooded officers) desert, knock over a Northeastern city-state named Fray, and install their commander, Hanto Galina, as its new Empress. Individually, nearly 10,000 troops deserted in the change-up; some were caught and then quietly pardoned in exchange for either joining a House legion or retiring permanently, others are now terrifyingly effective bandits. Some can't be accounted for all, which fills the big shots on the Blessed Isle with dread as they wonder if it's a loyalist conspiracy to destroy them all.

The only extant Houses that had their own legions before this were Cathak, Sesus, and Tepet; the rest made due with their own paramilitary forces to garrison satrapies and guard merchants (although the garrison commander was rarely, if ever, from the same House as the one providing the garrison, so as to further divide power among the Dynasty). The House legions were never as good as the Imperial legions, as the latter were tested more often and had better financial support, although the House legions still had some renown. Cathak and Sesus have, predictably, squandered this experience and replaced the old officers with their own Dynasts. Each House has their own super special paramilitary forces that would probably show up as special faction-restricted units if there were ever an Exalted RTS; Mnemon has combat engineers, Peleps and V'neef have marines, Sesus has counterinsurgents, Ragara has mediocre mercenaries (presumably in the theoretical Exalted RTS, they would be cheap as hell to build), and Iselsi had ghostcutters (I have no idea what ghostcutting is but it sounds really loving cool). These have been folded into the legions these days, although some remain independent.

War tourism is a fond habit among the Great Houses; sometimes, when funds are low (or if they're a military House, whenever they think there's a good opportunity), they'll get their paramilitaries together and knock over a country to loots its resources, steal its treasures, and capture its peoples to sell as slaves to House Cynis or the Guild. This was encouraged by the throne as a way of keeping the Great Houses aimed away from the Blessed Isle, but restricted it in a few ways; satrapies did not always stay with those who captured them, conflict between satrapies were restricted, and any military blunders that hurt the Realm were heavily punished. The Imperial legions, however, were usually used for purposes with actual casus belli, so as to provide legitimacy and ward off alliances between Threshold states. Houses would risk shame, loss of satrapial contracts, and more for calling in the Imperial legions for support in their adventurism, but if the Empress sent in her legions to assist without being asked, it was a sure sign she would soon visit her wrath upon the offending Great House.

A full-strength legion is commanded by a general and has 5000 infantry soldiers divided into ten dragons of 500 soldiers each, run by officers called "dragonlords". Each dragon has two wings, 250 soldiers each, lead by a winglord. Each wing gets divided in half into two talons (lead by a talonlord, of course!), and then a talon is further divided into 5 scales, each with 25 soldiers lead by a scalelord. This divides into five again, with the smallest unit being a fang, five soldiers each lead by a fanglord, who is a non-commissioned officer. Senior officers (talonlords and up) has a second-in-command, who will help them with their duties and assume them if their commander dies in the line of duty, as well as filling in for them if they are on leave or detached duty. Senior officers also are advised by their best junior officers and must train unproven cadet officers. Basically, its the Roman legion but with more fantasy words instead of tricky poo poo like "decanus", "contubernium", "legate", and so on, which is probably for the best even though I roll my eyes heavily at the idea of saying, "The dragonlord has joined the fray!"

The legions usually have four dragons of heavy infantry and six for light infantry (both, funnily enough, wear medium armor and use the same medium melee weapons, so they're mechanically identical save for the light infantry being one dice better at sneaking then the heavy), and will have 4-6 skirmishers (sling wielders, archers, javelineers, and so on) that generally act as a highly expendable vanguard and trade missile fire with other enemy skirmishers. Skirmishers get half pay and are not as well regarded as the infantry. Auxiliaries will be recruited if the legion is in the Threshold, which will make up for their lack of cavalry units. A sidebar makes particular note of House Tepet's auxiliaries, who were extremely well trained and deadly and sound a hell of a lot like names a Dark Souls sequel would rattle off in the opening cut-scene; the ghost-faced warriors of Ithen, the falconers of Zelion, and the Medoan jannisary riders are some listed, and are potential allies for House Tepet in the civil war since they actually like House Tepet. A legion being at full strength is uncommon, of course. In peace time, up to 20% of the legion will be on leave or detached duty. In war, finding replacements for skirmishers and infantry lost in conflict is rather hard.

Each unit gets its own numerical designation, such as "9th Legion, 4th Dragon, 1st Wing, 1st Talon, 2nd Scale, 5th Fang", but usually this is only used for higher level strategy or paperwork; most people will understand who the talonlord is talking about when she says "Fourth Scale, fall back!" Any unit as big as or bigger than a talon has its own banner, which is basically a draconic aquilifer, and the same stigmas and penalties apply to whoever is unfortunate enough to lose it in combat as to those unlucky Romans who lost their banner. Nicknames are given for unique achievements and only are ever changed if the unit does something even more exemplary, shames itself immensely, or if the nickname is attached to a House that is no longer in the Empress' good graces; the examples given are the Wolf-Pelt Dragon, who slew the beasts of the Uskwood and whose banner still has a bit of century-old fur on it. Faren's Wing was lead out of a Delzahn ambush by the outcaste, Gallevo Faren. The Bloody Crown Talon slew the last Dragon-blooded queen of Psalter. I'll take a brief digression to say that a lot of those words are basically brand new and have no actual rooting in any established setting details, apart from the Delzahn who are the dominant ethnic group of the franchise mainstay, Chiaroscuro. Sometimes, I do like the idea of making off-handed references such as this, since it does leave a small hook for a GM to make up something new, but sometimes I just really want a drat write-up of some places since the write-ups they do make are very good and it sucks a bit to be teased like this. Maybe some will show up when the inevitable Threshold book arrives, but who knows until then.

Not every legionary is a Blessed Isle citizen; sometimes, they are recruited from the Threshold with the promise of peasant status when they finish their service, which may not seem like much but before the whole brewing civil war and declining empire business was probably a good deal since you'd be relocated to a place that's way less likely to be invaded by hobgoblin marauders, satrapial raiders, and other things likely to reduce your lifespan. New recruits usually start as skirmishers and advance into the infantry to replace deceased members. Conscription is rare, since the legions value loyalty over all, and only done in the most dire of scenarios. Basic standards for physical accumen, height, and weight must be met, and people with major physical or mental disabilities are not allowed, as are dispossessed, outlaws, and slaves. Exceptions are made only if a ludicrous bribe is offered to the recruiting officer, since she knows it could likely lead to her life on the line if she hires a subpar or disloyal soldier into her army. Recruits generally go into the recruiting officers unit directly, and those recommended by governors, prefects, and so on tend to go directly into the infantry.

Patricians and mortal Dynasts almost never enlist as foot soldiers, considering it a mistake or beneath them, and the rare Dynastic Dragon-blood that does is considered to be loving around and can leave at anytime they want. Outcaste Dragon-bloods from outside the Blessed Isle who wish to join are usually assigned to lead auxiliary units for months or years while their commanders gauge them for loyalty and competency. If they succeed, they get made foot soldiers to acclimate them to the culture and humble them, although they are quickly promoted out of the rank and file.


In which a Lunar warlord tragically fails to understand the phrase "action economy"

If a legionary isn't warring, they are training, whether that be through marching while carrying heavy loads, sparring, climbing, or swimming. The standard weaponry for a legionary is a spear, dagger, sword, and shield, and each is responsible for the maintenance of their assigned weapons and armor while in the field. Other gear includes shovels, cold weather clothing, and cooking utensils. Formation training takes precedence over all else, as the ability to flow as one unit without leaving gaps or crowding their fellow soldiers out is what often wins them battles. Legionaries are constantly training manuevers both at home and out in the field to keep this discipline up.

Most of the day is taken up by labor; a soldier usually spends their time making or taking up camp, digging ditches, building bridges, making latrines, marching, cooking, cleaning their own gear, hauling lumber or quarried stone, foraging (and god help them if they forgot the standard password to prevent Lunar infiltration when they return), and more. Free time is spent on gaming, sports, chatting, various tomfoolery, and sex. Food is usually hardtack and porridge, supplemented with beans, lentils, cheeses, and dried meat or fruit, although hunting and forage can provide more varied food for the hungry soldier. Sometimes an individual procures chili paste or other spices to the great delight of their fangmates. Garrisoned troops enjoy better quality food, as locals or slaves handle the cooking and fresh food can be bought from local markets, as well as alcohol and prostitutes. Fraternization is not strictly forbidden, but neither is it encouraged. A legion will have its own supply of the contraceptive known as maiden tea available to all, and woe to the fool who does not take advantage of it when shacking up with the opposite sex; the father and mother of a baby conceived on duty are punished heavily.

Pay is getting less reliable under the Great Houses than it was under the Empress, who generally considered it a poor idea since it would start a revolt against her pretty fast if she stopped paying wages. Things are held in check by the legion's discipline. Theft and other petty crimes are punished by assigning the criminal to the shittiest tasks, removing their ability to go on leave, reduced rations, fines, or whipping. Deserters are beaten to death by their fangmates, and mutineers by their entire talon (waived for those who resisted the mutiny at threat to their own lives). Fanglords and scalelords are usually promoted from the ranks, earning higher pay and freedom from the shittier work in the army in exchange for more responsibilities. Individuals are rewarded for exceptional service with pay bonuses, as well as medals, bigger shares of plunder, promotions, and recommendations to the higher-up officers, which is pretty lucrative since those will now usually be patricians or even Dynastic Dragon-bloods and having such people as connections is very useful. Over half of all soldiers get to the end of their 20 years of service alive; foreign-born soldiers are given status as peasant citizens and are pointed towards lands their officers came from, although most just retire to the cities and live in enclaves with people from the same homeland. No special award is given, but the pay is good enough that someone who managed to save enough will live the rest of their lives in comfort, and some officers are generous enough that they give a last bonus to retiring soldiers.

Early dismissal is rare. Mostly, it occurs when disease or injury makes a soldier incapable of their former duties, or when a legion is disbanded during peace time. No benefits are given, but hey, if you're brave enough (or dumb enough) to join after you're better (if you can get better), your prior years of service count towards your 20-year goal.

Next time: Officers, auxiliaries, mercenaries, martial orders, and two very special legions.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



I can't quite approve of punching wolves. They're all good boys, after all. How about punching with wolves? Tie an angry wolf to each arm so they can bite whoever you punch. They'll probably bite you a few times while you're getting ready, but that just gets the blood flowing for a good fight.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Cults: Anabaptists, pt. 4

Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults





RANKS ANABAPTISTS



1. Touched

The non-commitant entry rank. You can leave at any time – or get baptized, take the ring and get tattoos.

2a. Ascetic

Paradise might be dead, but if you work the land hard enough, you can rebuild it. That's what Ascetics do.

3a. Elysian

The Medic/Elysian potion crafter. They also know how to track down and eliminate Sepsis.

2b. Orgiastic

Dehumanize yourself and face to the bloodshed, but with Elysian oils.

3b. Furor

Fight hard and have good visions, and you get to be a Furor. They are allowed to use the “forbidden arsenals” of “corrupt weapons,” some of which date back to Chronicler occupation of Cathedral. The only player facing weapon so far is the Spitfire (it's a flamethrower).

4a. Emissary

An Emissary is a dude who mortified himself enough to receive a poo poo ton of visions, showing them Cathedral City as the center of the world, the Anabaptist weave and God's promise to unify all in Pneuma like it was a non-weeb LPL. They do diplomacy to bring that about.

5a. Councelor

It's an Emissary singled out to be a Baptist one day. They are the ones that judge whether an Anabaptist's emanations are true.

6a. Baptist

You the man now, dog! However, take note that they still lead in the field; few die in their beds.

4b. Sublime

What if instead of seeing visions and portents, you were the subject of other's visions? What if your coming is prophecied? Well, poo poo, then you might be one of the Sublime. Once you get confirmed as such, you get to do some Living Saint poo poo. The obvious choice is to whip up a crusade around you and bite a biokinetic yourself.

quote:

Some disappear into the mountains to become grains of seed in the heads of Anabaptists.

Or you can do... that.

5b. Aheron

Wikipedia posted:

According to later traditions, Acheron had been a son of Helios and either Gaia or Demeter, who had been turned into the Underworld river bearing his name after he refreshed the Titans with drink during their contest with Zeus.[9] By this myth, Acheron is also the father of Ascalaphus by either Orphne[10] or Gorgyra.

No, you don't get to become a river. Naw, you get to flaunt the rules, turn from the heavenly rivers, and go to the dead rivers of Styx and Acheron. And you know what's on their shores? Sepsis and Burn. That's right, you get high on the bad poo poo, corrupting your humanity, to get at the enemy and kill him better.


IF I WAS IN WORLD WAR II THEY'D CALL ME HURRICANE
IF I WAS IN WORLD WAR II THEY'D CALL ME HURRI.CANE


Stereotypes posted:

ANUBIANS: They look for divinity in stones and trees, talk to bugs, and surround themselves with bones and death. They won’t find anything.

APOCALYPTICS: They are rotten at the core and defile the paradise where it seemed whole again. If we were more, they would be fewer.

CHRONICLERS: Poor fools who hide their cowardice behind masks and impress the crowds with magic tricks. Baptist Orphid seems to be impressed, too. In spite of everything we are bound by her word: that’s why there is a cease-fire.

CLANNERS: We don’t deceive. We don’t fill people’s heads with promises of salvation. We work hard in the fields and give our lives for the security of the villages. We lead by example, and the people love us for it.

HELLVETICS: They would make good soldiers for a good and holy cause. For now they sit in their mountain holding their hands open whenever someone wants to traverse God’s world. The Filaments are a fitting punishment.

JEHAMMEDANS: Oh man. Do you know what they do with the goats? I don’t want to think about it. Otherwise, everything’s always spick and span; everything has its place, never any disorder, and great beards. Even their curses are like lukewarm air: they call us fishermen’s children! Geez.

Every loving time they need to speak about Jehammedans from Anabaptist perspective, they bring out the talking points of your Racist Veteran Uncle.

quote:

JUDGES: Rebus and the First Judge both had a vision. Both erected a fortress for humanity: one was founded on faith, the other one on rules and laws. One is adamant; the other is crumbling.

NEOLIBYANS: In Purgare, they knew how to keep us fighting: bulbs and steel for their “white brethren”. They are sly dogs. As if they hadn’t also sold to the Jehammedans.

PALERS: Sated on other people’s work, these toads hide in their realm beneath the roots. Still, the Baptists have not branded them children of the Demiurge … yet.

SCOURGERS: We’d love to have them join the ranks of the Orgiastics. They, however, follow the path of revenge, not the path of insight. They are another victory for the Demiurge.

SCRAPPERS: Scrappers have devoted themselves to material things, but they are good workers. They are the ear we are supposed to reap.

SPITALIANS: They believe to have found their grain of seed in science. Since the time of Rebus we have known that it makes no sense to try to teach them, so we take them as they are. At least they are on the right side.

I appreciate it that Anabaptists make no bones about calling Apocalyptics shits and lusting for their blood.

VINCENT THE BREAKER OF BASSHAM



Culture: Franka
Concept: The Protector
Cult: Anabaptists (Counselor)

He freed the Frankan city of Bassham (not a real place AFAIK) from Pheromancers; now, it's an outpost where he trains Anabaptists to fight Pheromancers at the behest of Baptist Amos. He's also a liaison with the Spitalian mission in Franka.

CASSANDRA THE DREAMER



Culture: Purgare
Concept: The Creator
Cult: Anabaptists (Sublime)

Cassandra was the best "resistance" fighter on the west bank of the Adriatic. People said she could read the mind of the enemy. However, as the fighting stopped, so did Cassandra. Now, she sleeps while watched over by other Anabaptists who tread her with oils and record her comatose utterings.

LEIBNER THE HUNTER



Culture: Borca
Concept: The Mediator
Cult: Anabaptists (Furor)

Liebner is well known for his courage and skill in hunting Spore Beasts. Anabaptists wanted to declare him an emissary, but he has other plans on his mind. He's waiting for Chroniclers to recreate Soundcloud to become a white rapper, as he already has terrible facial tattoos.

In conclusion: If you ignore anything to do with Jehammedans, Anabaptists are a cool faction. You wanna dress like an Imperial State Trooper, get high as a kite, and burn mutants in the name of God? That's your Cult! Overall, it's probably the most accepting factions when it comes to player concepts, especially if the devs are falling over themselves to say that no, you don't have to be a believer to be Anabaptist, you can be just fooling them, haha, possibly to placate that one dude who won't play a DnD Paladin because he's rational and an atheist, and believing in a god is stupid.

Anabaptists also hate Apocalyptics, which is a big up in my book. Their rank tree isn't an insane monstrosity like with Jehammedans, so it's also a plus.

Next time: Palers are the last Cult. Then we'll have 30 pages of world history.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Coalition Wars 5: Shadows of Evil, Part 2- "This is no monster to be scoffed at or dismissed, the Demon Beaver of Nez Perce legend is a fiend to be reckoned with."


Know your -eens.

Skelebot Graveyards

These are sites where thousands of Coalition Skelebots were cut down in big battles, and the main focus here is... well, the Skelebot Graveyard Salvage Table to enable the search for loot. Granted, we already had salvage tables back in Rifts World Book 3: Sorcerers' Revenge, but these are... different tables! We also get notes that the Tolkeen military pays a bit more than the Black Market (as detailed on tables wayyy back in the Rifts corebook) but that bandits will pay less.

So let's say we have a four-person party searching for eight hours, which gives us 4 rolls. What's listed is the sale price.
  • 1 Triax TX-24 Ion Pulse Pistol with 4 full E-Clips. Worth roughly 6,500 credits.
  • 2 C-12 Heavy Coalition Assault Laser Rifles, with one empty E-Clip and one full E-Clip. Worth about 5,500 credits.
  • Usable robot or machine parts but only if you have somebody with the Mechanical or Electrical Engineering skill to recognize such. Worth 7,000 credits.
  • ATV Speedster Hover Cycle with a 10% M.D.C. loss. Jackpot. Worth about 175,000 credits.
Digging through these heaps is actually worth more than most adventure rewards, and that was just a day's work! However, we then get the Danger Table for Skelebot Graveyards. And though, as aforementioned, sometimes the Coalition has left active Skelebots lying around as traps in these areas (because they're eeevil and extremely cost-inefficient), there are other hazards. So let's roll a hazard for our would-be scavengers as they search throughout the day:
  • Tolkeen Graveyard Trap: This are some demons that were summoned to ambush those sneaking around ruins - six in total. There might be alu (evil mega-damage wolf-people), lasae (eight-inch evil bug-men that love going after eyes or genitals), or shedim (evil male harpies). Not that tough an encounter, all things told - a combat-ready group should make short work of these.
Alternately, they could run into these:
  • 3 Coalition Skelebots: A pretty easy encounter, though it's definitely some wandering damage if the skelebots successfully ambush them.
  • Tolkeen Stone Tower Trap: A seemingly abandoned tower that has a 6th level Earth Warlock, a 2nd level Water Warlock, 2 minor Earth Elementals, and 4 Tolkeen soldiers lying in wait for any Coalition soldiers to investigate it, or "scare off" others. If only we had stats for Tolkeen forces... well, make 'em up yourself, GMs!The elementals would absolutely the worst threat here, though Coalition groups would presumably have some kind of power armor or robot vehicle to match them.
Overall, if you're just looking to make a profit, going around robbing battlefields seems like the way to go - the worst you'll run into would be a Daemonix for most parties, though Coalition parties are more at risk due to the chance of rolling up multiple Iron Juggernauts or an adult dragon ready to attack.


Siembieda literally has Burles doing forts and wastelands here. Really?

Monster Encounter and Adventure Table

Most of this isn't about the table, but instead, is a long section of advice on Siembieda on how to use monsters. He gives several suggestions. One, using monsters as just combat encounters to "spice up the action" and liven things up. Secondly, come up with some role and motivation for the monster as a guardian, follower, slave, avenger, etc. Maybe the monster is the wronged part or being manipulated, and isn't an outright Bad Guy. Alternately, they might try to manipulate the characters by faking that. He suggests making sure you think about how the monster relates to the area and what consequences might come of dealing with them.

Rifts Coalition Wars 5: Shadows of Evil posted:

See how easy it is to take just a simple encounter and spin it into something much more than a brief interlude to "kill the monster." These are the kinds of questions I ask myself whenever I write a story or build an adventure, whether it is for publication or a night of gaming. - Kevin Siembieda

Which is solid advice for building encounters into hooks. Though, if every encounter is a tweeest, then players will harden to that. In any case, you better hope you're up on your Rifts books, because the actual random monster table references well over a dozen other books, including Rifts Coalition Wars 6... and though I suppose it's nice to have some future-proofing, it's a bit much for a table that already spans enough books to be considered a teenager. Also, you may say, we already had random encounter tables for Random Villain Encounter Table or the Random Encounters with Tolkeen's Magic & Supernatural Forces. But this is a new table just for monsters! Totally different!


"I'm sure they would have done the same to us, if they had done the same to us!"

Lake & River Danger Zones

Because of the wide array of lakes and rivers in Minnesota, small-scale naval actions are hardly unheard of. Aside from a pitch to make sure you buy Rifts World Book 4: Coalition Navy, Tolkeen uses water elementals, and has Simvan Monster Riders and Shifters employ aquatic monsters. We get some details on the creatively-named River Masters, a Simvan tribe that used to trouble Tolkeen but has become strange bedfellows with them thanks to the Coalition threat. They get extra free water skills if you decide to play one, so if you're going to play a Simvan, may as well write yourself up a River Master and score yourself a swim percentage.

Next, we have the Random Lake & River Monster Encounters. It notes that monsters might be under the control of Tolkeen spellcasters if they like. Once again, this list covers over a half-dozen books, trying to pack in every aquatic monster that could vaguely fit... and some that don't make much sense, like a Demon Bear that's a polar bear, a too-big-for-lakes Horned Demon-Fish mysteriously summoned by wizards or something, and... Sedna, the Sea Hag of the Inuit. Sure, an arctic sea goddess just fits right in at Lake Winnibigoshish, makes perfect sense, Siembieda.


Ride the skeeter.

We also have Danger Table for The Barrens & Waterways that's three and a half pages long. Is it for water? Land? gently caress it, we need a really long table if we're gonna keep spinning these wheels! Roll it!
  • Two Minor Earth Elementals: Though placed to attack or block any Coalition movement, they're dumb as rocks and will attack anybody with skulls or dark armor. That means you, PCs! This is your punishment for cool black armor and/or skull accouterments! They're big damage sponges, of course.
  • Six Travelers: ... two of which are disguised Cyber-Knights.
  • Tolkeen Ambush Bunkers: Disguised so you have to make an Detect Ambush or Detect Concealment at -10% to notice them. Wilderness Scouts and Psi-Stalkers can detect them at -10% with [insert unknown skill here]. However, they only have a skeleton crew of troops.


The real conflict is between the artists and the writing, sometimes.

Oh, gently caress, you best bet we have a table for Coalition Encounters in The Barrens, why wouldn't we? But before that, we have details on some of the new Coalition forces being fielded, like experimental equipment taken from Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign and more mutant animals from Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star. You do own those books, yeah...? Anyway, let's roll some encounters:
  • Light Robot Ground Unit: Two IAR-4 Hellraisers, two IAR Hellfires, two Mauler Power Armor suits, and two Skelebots. How is four mecha and two suits of power armor "light"?
  • Hellion Skelebot Patrol: Eight of the demon-looking Skelebots that will attack any non-Coalition armed humanoids or any D-Bees or monsters, but will avoid fighting if there are sixteen or more enemies (or any Iron Juggernauts or Daemonix).
  • SAMAS Quick Response Team: Three Super SAMAS suits, two Striker SAMAS suits, and three Wind Jammer Sky Cycles.
Man, I don't want to think about running most of these encounters. Some will do some serious damage to PC groups that aren't heavily combat focused, and moreover running a combat with 10+ combatants will slow the Palladium system down to a miserable crawl of layered rolls. That is, of course, presuming you don't run into that 2% chance of rolling a Fire Storm Mobile Base with 782 combat troops "plus crew". Well, at least the authors are precise? And yes, we already had a Random Encounters with Coalition Forces table back in Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge. But this is a new table! Totally necessary!

Next: Mad Town. No, not Madison.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Lone Badger posted:

I can't quite approve of punching wolves. They're all good boys, after all. How about punching with wolves? Tie an angry wolf to each arm so they can bite whoever you punch. They'll probably bite you a few times while you're getting ready, but that just gets the blood flowing for a good fight.

Ulric is actually okay on punching wolves. In fact, punching wolves is a sacred rite. You see, it means you gave the wolf a fair fight where you didn't make use of any of that 'weaponry' bullshit humans had and all both of you had was your teeth and claws.

That humans normally do not have claws or appreciable teeth is beyond the point!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Joe Slowboat posted:

A friend just said 'Invisible Sun is Harry Potter for Planescape fans' and I think they got a hole in one.

So this is what slander feels like.

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Night10194 posted:

Ulric is actually okay on punching wolves. In fact, punching wolves is a sacred rite. You see, it means you gave the wolf a fair fight where you didn't make use of any of that 'weaponry' bullshit humans had and all both of you had was your teeth and claws.

That humans normally do not have claws or appreciable teeth is beyond the point!

Yeah but humans do have opposable thumbs, which is probably one's saving grace in a fight with a wolf since it enables the human to do sick wrestling moves on the wolf.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I been thinking a lot since yesterday about why the Adventure Paths/Darker take on WHFRP bug me, and I've hit on why. There are, for instance, two examples in Plundered Vaults (the Adventure compilation) where the tone is enforced by 'no matter what you do, it is too late, and the woman (and always a woman) you are trying to rescue dies in agony as she mutates horribly'. Which is sort of mistaking 'failure' for 'grounded'. Mistaking lowering player agency and ability to affect the story for telling a gritty story.

One of the reasons I've enjoyed writing for WHFRP is because I can adjust things up and down. A super-badass PC is still threatened by, like, another really talented character, a bunch of reasonably competent soldiers with decent gear, or epic monsters and demons. You can adjust for tone by what you use to threaten and challenge people, not necessarily needing to resort to 'and then whatever you do, it didn't matter and you lose'. A great hero still being in terrible danger from a bunch of reasonably talented bandits hiding in the woods (or the great hero being glad to have backup from their reasonably talented bandit buddies, hiding in the woods and helping out from the shadows) is a better way to get across a grounded tone rather than 'whatever you do, you lose mostly'.

And that same hero can still take on a hydra if you want to do big set-pieces and epic monster battles.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




I'm sure that just up and going into the wild, tracking down a pack, somehow gaining it's respect, challenging the leader and winning,
Is a terrific way to get noticed by Ulric.
And if you then lead the pack to stalk and ambush beastmen just to prove Chaos ain't poo poo, I'd bet you get a high five.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ulric's totally down with you fighting a wolf and winning.

Ulric specifically bans wearing any wolf's skin unless you personally killed it, however.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Is he cool with the skin of a chaos warrior you haven't killed though?

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Oh sure, those dudes aren't people. Wolves are people.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply