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SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Once again the Exalted devs make me look bad for being an Exalted fan. "I got into it in 3e, I got into it in 3e!", I continue to insist as I slowly shrink and transform into a corn cob.

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SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


White Wolf Reboots:

10 "THIS TIME SHALL BE DIFFERENT"
20 "ITS NOT DIFFERENT AT ALL"
30 goto 10

fake edit: and yes I did just post that it seemed like they were past this

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!


SirPhoebos posted:

White Wolf Reboots:

10 "THIS TIME SHALL BE DIFFERENT"
20 "ITS NOT DIFFERENT AT ALL"
30 goto 10

fake edit: and yes I did just post that it seemed like they were past this

White Wolf reboots are essentially Pathfinder repeated every time. Knowing people liked something, and wanting to make an updated version of it, but then usually doubling down on all the flaws and often denying that they were flaws at all.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


SunAndSpring posted:

Once again the Exalted devs make me look bad for being an Exalted fan. "I got into it in 3e, I got into it in 3e!", I continue to insist as I slowly shrink and transform into a corn cob.

Welcome to being an Exalted fan, the game that you hate to love and love to hate. I have no idea how anyone can use Minton's defense because the primary meaning is young boy or at best young teenager and I have literally never seen it used for anything else. This is someone refusing to admit they hosed up.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Like, literally the only legitimate way to use the word 'catamite' in a piece of fiction that is not skeevy is to have someone imply that one dude is another dude's boyfriend in a maximally rude way, and even then it's kinda sketch. It is a super harsh word that should be held with tongs in gloved hands.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



yeah, the usage of Catamite is universally used as an insult, either directly at someone, or in reference to someone's preference. There's no non-sketchy way of using that word.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The thing that really gets me is the response is effectively 'poo poo, I knew it meant loving teenagers, but I didn't know it meant kids. Maybe I'll use it a little less or something.'

Like if that is what you thought it meant why was it getting thrown around in the first place.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



The only thing Ive ever read where the word catamites got used in remotely appropriate context was The Road which, uh, is not a book about good things.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

So, uh, let's talk about another setting involving imperialism!



World


That wasn’t weed.

Setting information! I lied last time, I decided to go through this section setting-technology-culture, all of which are packed together in one fat chapter. Apparently this section just restates stuff from the Cyberworld sourcebook with an emphasis on how it might interact with the Mythos. Given just how much setting information it dumps on you, that sourcebook must be absolutely titanic.


I didn’t enjoy 2017 much either, but it wasn’t THAT bad.

The current year is 2040… something, I couldn’t find an exact date. Cyberworld sure wasn’t shy about kicking its alternate history off; the first event listed in the timeline this book provides (Boris Yeltsin’s assassination) happened one year after this book was published, and the two big factors that shaped Cyberworld should have come and gone by now. The first was a superbug called Tolliver’s Disease (and several nicknames, including my favorite, “the Toller”) that killed over 1 billion people and caused societal collapse in many parts of the world. While first world nations were able to get access to the cure pretty quick once it came out, but much of the Third World couldn’t get their hands on it fast enough to keep their governments from collapsing – meaning we’re back to Darkest Africa (and India) again (we’ll cover what’s messed up about THAT later). The second big event was a massive market crash in 2006, which was… unfortunately prescient, but this one was a lot more severe than the Great Recession – bad enough to kill millions due to its economic and social repercussions. Even decades later, most national currencies have been superseded by their corporate equivalents. What did they call it?

…the Grand Slam. Amazing.


“The Toller” can leave scars so severe they affect your Attractiveness rating.

Geopolitics! The US is firmly in decline, superseded by rising powers elsewhere. After both political parties exploded around the turn of the millennium, an archconservative named Patterson came to power in the wake of his predecessor’s assassination (possibly at his own hand). Patterson blamed it on an “Army of Satanic Order” he probably made up and basically started up the Satanic Panic again. After a few decades the US government’s decayed into a pseudo-theocratic dictatorship under his successor, a former secret police administrator named Hammond. It’s pretty standard dystopian stuff; everyone has a citizenship status, censorship is universal, the secret police has a god-awful nickname, etc. For some reason the US diplomatically annexed both the bulk of Mexico and Cuba, though the latter is going through yet another revolution right now; while now US citizens in theory, they are effectively second-class citizens because, you know, neocons. Canada has broken into independent parts, while Alaska keeps its distance from the central government and remains actually democratic. What about Central America and the Caribbean? What about Central America and the Caribbean?

In South America, Brazil’s been turned into a giant nature preserve by the Russo-Japanese (more on them in a bit) and most other countries are relatively prosperous but struggling with massive drug cartels growing cyber-cocaine and techno-heroin. The big exception is Chile and Argentina, which now, unified as – wait for it – Chiletina, position themselves as the world’s fastest growing economy and “the upstart of the 21st-century international scene”. If it’s cutting-edge and not from the Russo-Japanese, it’s from them. If it’s not from either of those two, it comes from somewhere else in the Pacific Rim; any of the Asian Tigers, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, etc., all of which are growing and prosperous. Singapore is both the region’s unofficial capital and the center of its black market.

The book doesn’t even mention Indonesia . Sorry guys.


Disneyland’s doing better these days.

Europe’s done pretty well for itself – it’s formed the European Union United Europe as a coherent, united political entity. Unlike the EU, its members seem to have some internal independence but operate as a single political unit abroad; the UE has accepted its status as a secondary power compared to rising stars elsewhere and European companies pop up frequently whenever the book dips into technology. The Middle East is in worse shape. Israel has… somehow… unwittingly taken over huge swathes of neighboring territory and is struggling not to turn into a hellstate or explode, while most Muslim countries (especially Iran, which absorbed Iraq) spend their time squabbling and jockeying for influence. Everybody’s nervously watching the closest thing the region has to a rising power: the Central Asian Federation, a militaristic dictatorship eyeing its neighbors for territory. This will be the first and last time the book mentions Central Asia.


How jaded do you have to be to look that bored firing a submachine gun?

But as much as the US, Europe, Chiletina, and various other powers around the world might try, they can’t compare to the Russo-Japanese Economic Union. Originating in an agreement between the CIS and Japan that was supposed to relieve the economic troubles and disorder of the former and of the overpopulation (hah!) and resource shortages of the second, it’s morphed into the planet’s economic, industrial, and even cultural center. Like, a good half the setting's most powerful corporations have Russian or Japanese names. Of course, there’s a brewing power struggle between the wealthier Japanese part and the resentful rest of the Union, but that has yet to boil over.

Australia just kind of… got depopulated. Everyone on the Australian mainland got killed by a mysterious disease in just six months a few ways back, so the island’s been quarantined for the next few decades just in case (its neighbors and Tasmania are just fine). Best guess to what happened is a Chinese bioweapon gone off prematurely, but no one knows for sure. Right now, anyone who heads into the Outback (mostly disposables sent in in secret by various powers) disappears after about a week, but satellites still pick up some low-tech activity deep in the interior. Can you say “Mythos activity”? I can’t!

Speaking of which… oh boy, it’s time to cover Africa, India, and China.


We’re covering THIS now.

I’ll cover the book’s approach to issues of race and Lovecraft (and its successes and failures) in detail when it comes up later on, but it boils down to this: if one postulates a universe full of forces completely beyond humanity’s power to grasp or struggle with, the artificial definitions of race and culture look ridiculous. Lovecraft was so obsessed with race () he had an identity crisis when he discovered he might be part Irish; his concept of racial hierarchies ran so deep he felt he had to organize the universe along those lines. The author believes that undermines the point. A fear of incomprehensible outside forces runs through all of us, so portraying those forces as inherently unknowable foils any attempts to come to terms with and control them – a solid basis for a horror story. Sorting humans by appearance categories defeats the point. Racism is so mundane and social that, for anyone who isn’t Lovecraft or thinks like him, it just dilutes the cosmic horror and makes it look petty. Instead, the author chose to mix cosmic horror with cyberpunk, a genre also characterized by incomprehensible forces crushing people, but one where Lovecraft’s perfect Anglo-Saxon society has collapsed under its own rotten bulk and cultures from other parts of the world are calmly taking its place. It flips that script – societal change shaped by impersonal economic and cultural forces becomes another aspect of an incomprehensible universe. If so, no section of humanity is inherently better or worse than another; all of us are attempting to survive in a reality that barely acknowledges the differences between us before it runs us over.

And then they pull poo poo like this.

It isn’t that the author brings up racist themes when covering Africa, India, and China; he barely brings up anything. The description of India and Africa essentially reads ‘screwed over by the Grand Slam and not visited much’, while China just shut itself off from the outside world a couple decades back and nobody knows what’s going on inside there. But it’s no accident that the author declares the African continent and Indian subcontinent disorganized and, well, he actually describes those regions as being without civilization. Sound familiar? He’s just returned he extremely complex and sophisticated peoples and cultures to a uniform low so your characters can head out and be scared of natives in the jungle. And China? It’s no mistake that he’s had China seal itself off from the outside world. It neatly invokes Qing isolationism and the way Communist China sealed its borders to create The Mysterious East once again, ripe for GMs to insert Orientalist themes theoretically debunked the better part of a century ago. And let’s not forget, the non-Anglo-Saxon cultures that are rising to fill the gap? A union of two former colonial powers and one of the successors to another. You can’t do this in half measures, guy.



I really do believe there’s something to be said for cosmic horror and that this book has entertainment value, but you gotta untangle it from its roots first. Half-assing it doesn’t do anybody any favors.


Have a picture including no human beings.

Typo of the Day: Rurro-Japanere

Next Time: how can most members of a culture that spends all day on the Internet be only semiliterate?

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Feels very bizarre to phrase it as a historical thing because I don't really feel they should give that much of a poo poo about that particular aspect of it since I don't think most players want to deal with depictions of pedophilia. If they're gonna make a big showing of bringing a more modern interpretation of gender and gay marriage to a setting that probably would have had different interpretations of it due to the time period (which is fine! I complain but only because I've been spoiled by Glorantha and how it handles Bronze Age-Iron Age stuff), they should really just shrug their shoulders and go, "Ok, maybe we don't have to show that the Imperial officer corps is full of nonces like it was in the British Empire".

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Coalition Wars 5: Shadows of Evil, Part 5- "If the player characters haven't dealt with the vampire problem, the Cyber-Knights should have."


Tolkeen Force Five- GO!

The Barony of Rivereen

As aforementioned, the Tolkeen forces were able to convince the Coalition this was too well-defended to bother with it over Mizereen. As such, this hasn't seen the same level of combat, though the scars of war still show here. I have to wonder how convincing the thin Tolkeen defensive line would be (with essentially nothing backing it up), given that the Coalition could take spy plane shots, but... that sort of notion seems to have evaded them. Granted, wizards and dragons can hide amongst the populace, but the absence of Daemonix and Iron Juggernauts would be a bit obvious. In addition, a pullback thanks to the recent loss of troops in Tolkeen is making it vulnerable to bandits, predators, and Coalition special forces.


Even as a refugee, never neglect your mullet.

Vosberg, the town bedeviled by a vampire in Rifts World Book 1: Sedition, is now presumed to be vampire-free. It's now run by a Cyber-Knight named Lady Carmen the Wise, aka Lady Wise, as it deals with a rush of refugees. We're told that if the PCs didn't solve the vampire issue, cyber-knights did it for them... or that the refugees have made it easier for Carlotta to feed.

quote:

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: So, if Street Wise is for the street, and Forest Wise is for the forest, Lady Wise is...

Alien Rope Burn: No.

Camp Fatale, the psychics-posing-as-refugees to ambush Coalition soldiers from Rifts World Book 1: Sedition, got found out. The Coalition has discovered them and nearly wiped them out, but they recovered for a time with new recruits. However, Coalition soldiers supposedly gunned them down and believes them dead. Yeah, just forget anything your group may have already done with them, I guess.


"I, Fireheart, am the only one with art! Tremble!"

Boulder Ridge is a set of fortifications made by Warlocks similar to that seen earlier this book. However, the handful of remaining defenders makes this vulnerable, and locals refer to this as "Suicide Ridge" as the remaining defenders have sworn to defend this to their death. "This is Rivereen's Alamo." We get details on the Warlocks here - Elderroc of the Earth is stoic and muscular, Blue Stone of the Water is "fluid as water", Fireheart of the Eternal Flame is... angry, and look, it's another set of Warlocks that embody their elements conceptually, even though we had that notion just two books ago with the Joruveka. But at least we're spared an air fellow. Instead, Blue Stone has a younger sister, there's a vengeful fire dragon, and a handful of Larmac guards here on Hamburger Hill...

quote:

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: Eh? Eh? ... Eh?

Alien Rope Burn: "... and a couple of Trapper/Woodsmen..."

The Gate is a tiny town and fort built on a ley line nexus that was famous largely for opening rifts at their locations to pull out reinforcements from other worlds. However, right now it just has a relative skeleton crew who plan to bug out through a rift when things get rough.

I'm dying to make some of this interesting. Well, not literally dying. I'm not dying in this war! I want to live!

Next: Name, skull, serial number.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People cont'd

Herethroy
The cricket folk



Herethroy are the farmers, villagers, and generally simple folk of the setting. They're hobbits, if hobbits were over 6 feet tall, went clank when they bump against furniture, and laid eggs. If I were to run a game right now, I'd probably play them like an episode of Letterkenny.



Physically, they're a lot like the Thranx from Alan Dean Foster's Commonwealth novels, except bigger. I wouldn't be surprised if the Thranx were a direct inspiration, at least for the visual. The string of balls tail is kind of weird, though; I have trouble visualizing it even with that illustration for some reason.

Generally, Herethroy like to live in small villages, about 50-100 people. Basically, if a village starts getting big enough that you need someone to be officially in charge, it's getting too big. Elders and village priests are as much governance as they generally feel they need.

Herethroy biology is kind of weird. They have three-plus-one genders. Male, female, and co-lover are the three genders needed for reproduction, both-female is an extremely rare gender that's not quite equivalent to intersex. The only visible difference between the genders, outside the bedroom, is that males tend to be a little smaller, co-lovers are considered the pretty ones, and females are larger and considered common and plain. Although the co-lover doesn't contribute any genetic material, they're still necessary to the process, and are considered the main parent to the child. Both-females are prejudiced against. Sometimes they're accepted if they're willing to behave as a co-lover, which are slightly uncommon and thus valued. If they're not willing, or the village is particularly intolerant, they'll be exiled or killed; a fairly obvious hook for why a Herethroy would turn to a life of adventuring.



Another similarity to the Thranx. Also, I'm kind of amused at the thought of the most reckless dipstick in the party being basically the village kid on a rumspringa.

That's about all there is to say about Herethroy. It turns out, when you make "They're usually boring" into defining feature of the species, it leads to a short writeup. OH WELL. Even both of the short fiction pieces are basically "HI I work a boring day job, but sometimes I have to go out on an adventure when times are tough."




Luckily, the next species is my favorite.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I’m the Trash Man. I come out, I throw trash all over the thread, and then I start eatin’ garbage, and then I pick up the trash can and bash the guy on the head.



There’s not much better than honest and open communication between parties about what they’re both getting into. Look at that cover. The breasts on display. The mutant with the leather studded thong. Everyone is fighting. Everything is being destroyed. This just looks bad. And it is! And that’s why I’m here to share this with you all today!

I saw this cover art and I thought “y’know what? gently caress it. Sure. You look like a fried food buffet at a carnival. Got any deep-friend oreos?”. Boy howdy was I not disappointed. The main writer is the main designer is the main artist; this is a one-man show. Players are expected to have two PCs being controlled at once due to high mortality. Pretty much every woman in this book is in a sports bra and has a minimum of a C-cup. Small little art pieces decorate everything. Most importantly: this game is serious. We’re not talking the casual gonzo humor of your Gamma World, though there’s a lot owed to Gamma World sense of humor and design. This is a serious game, despite all appearances.

Little casual backstory on the mind behind the game: William McAusland is apparently a long-time Canadian artist for RPGs and has been doing this for decades. According to his blurbs and resumes I’ve seen online, he’s done work for WOTC, Kenzer, FFG and Goodman Games. In fact, the nice blurb giving him praise on his website is by Joseph Goodman, the owner of Goodman Games. [sips a drink] Read into that how you will. But, he’s worked on some legitimate products and had his art used in a lot of OGL products. I will admit that this makes Mutant Epoch an interesting project; he’s someone who’s seen how the sausage is made, seen how books are constructed and knows layout. However. Making your own game in that position is kind of like being a professional saucier deciding to start your own restaurant because you’ve worked in enough kitchens and consider that to be enough experience to assume the role of head chef. That’s not even an accurate analogy; McAusland was solely responsible for this book’s construction, art, writing, layout, editing, etc. Mutant Epoch is like if a French-trained saucier took a break from being a mercenary kitchen worker to open an artisanal taco truck driven and crewed entirely by himself.

I don’t want this to be a personal attack, mind. I don’t know the guy and I don’t know too much about him besides what’s public. I’m just giving some context. Later on in the book, McAusland describes his game as “the game I always wanted to buy”, something he’s been working on for two decades (). This game is a labor of love and of professional development and I am going to focus on the product more than the person. The two are intertwined, and all art is inherently ideological based on the creator, but we’re not going to attack the creator. He is still making modules, monster books, runs a newsletter and is doing a pseudo-Adventurers League endeavor. This is his project, this is his idea, let’s talk about the execution.

Mutant Epoch is a bad heartbreaker with too many charts, incomplete formatting, missed typos, art that tends to treat women as breast pedestals, no seriously too many charts, fiddly mechanics, a strange sense of priorities, a deep fascist streak that stems from othering anyone not a “genetically pure” human into a second class or banned citizen, a lot of slavery baked into the mechanics and a tone so dry and clinical for the subject matter it’s like starting a fire with a surgeon’s notes as kindling.

It’s awful. I love it. Let’s begin.

WHAT IS MUTANT EPOCH?

Good question! Mutant Epoch is a post-apocalyptic adventure game from 2011. It's set in the 24th century in the ruins of what was California. The setting is specifically the area around what was once…”Las Angeles”. Sic.

God drat it.

The 2100s and 2200s were the decline of mankind as a whole. Corruption, civil strife, radicalized ideologies and war between nations and corporate states go hand-in-hand with amazing technological advances that created mutants and robots. Everything becomes more authoritarian and repressive, governing forces bolster their control over the civilians and military with slave races in the form of the artificial humans and robots. What causes everything to come to a head is a bunch of AI assuming control of “mecha” (an unexplained but easily surmised force) teaming up with the rebellion of the slave races to crush human dominance for the next century. It’s 2364, mankind has made enough of a comeback to have feudal states (except for all of the supertech enclaves that are, like, everywhere) compete for survival against the mutants, the clones, the cyborgs, the bestial humans…just a whole god drat mess of sapient beings, really. You are beings who are giving up your old life to try and make a new one as ruin delvers, folks who dig deep into the wrecks of the old world to come back up with relics such as guns, technology and lost sciences to make money and live comfortably.

Aaaaand that’s all you get for this book. Setting information comes later in other books which I may or may not cover. This game is more or less just mechanics for character generation, gameplay, equipment and more. There’s a glimpse at what the world is like that can be read into from the mechanics. It sucks! There is a ton of slavery and racism! Regular humans are fascist supremacist dickheads! A lot of the beings are right to dislike us because we tend to mindfuck a ton of them into being our slaves! But the game also offers us alternatives to play with in case you want to use this as some kind of universal system (don’t) such as:
  • Near future survivalist roleplaying; just remove the robots, lasers, power armor, androids, bioroids, cyborgs, cybernetic implants aaaaaand all mutations and mutants. Easy peasy. Sounds like fun.
  • Setting the game anywhere besides California.
  • Having there be arks/vaults/arkvaults/aardvarks full of super tech and pure humans who are waiting to retake the Earth when it’s a lot less messy and mutated. You’re probably humans from these isolationist zones sent forth to explore the world as it is and see if it’s safe/find that loving Vault water chip or something. Maybe your home is an orbiting satellite and you’re sent down on a ship to scout.
  • Setting the game in a far future where tech has collapsed so much there’s only dirtfarming feudal societal and mutations are the height of power.
  • Setting the game during the complete and total domination of the Mecha and the AIs. Reign of Steel, basically. Just a setting I love but…worse. Hooray.
  • Setting the game during the complete and total domination of Earth by…aliens.
  • Setting the game during the complete and total domination of Earth by…zombies.
  • RIFTS but with the forces of Hell.
  • RIFTS but with Shadowrun. [shudders]
  • RIFTS but with the GM’s homebrew setting. Sensing a theme even though this is the end of the list?
Player goals are basically to have fun, earn coin in the setting, go on adventures and eventually do the AD&D thing of settling down to become wasteland royalty (or at least homeowners/freeholders). It does at least explicitly say “this isn’t a game where there’s supposed to be winners or losers”. You’re not supposed to compete with the other players and you’re not competing with the GM, the GM is just meant to be taking you on a fun adventure into a weird new world.

GM goals are to have fun, facilitate fun and buy all our books for help doing that on the fly keep the story flowing. Good advice here is that the GM’s not trying to beat the players; the GM’s win condition is if the session was a success and the players want to keep playing more.

This is the part where I knew the game was going to be that special kind of bad: dice conventions and commonly used dice. D4, d6, d8, d12, d20 and a whole mess of d10s to do d100 rolls and, drumroll please: d1000s. The beautiful and wonderful d1000, the shining hallmark of “I had a lot of ideas but I didn’t have exactly 100 ideas, and I didn’t want some ideas to be 1% probable, so I made a d1000 table out of what I had”. The d1000 is the true sign of the doomed heartbreaker, the mark it bears that call out to me and entices me, especially if it’s a post-apocalyptic adventure game.

This is where we’ll leave off for now. Let’s talk real quick about how I’m going to be handling this book: a ton of the writing is just bluntly boring. It takes its theoretically gonzo mutant splatterfest ideas and then gives them dry and technical summations that explain the mechanical reflections. Now, I find it hilarious. One of the strongest pillars of comedy is something ludicrous happening but being treated and played completely straight; this is the main thing behind why Leslie Nielsen was such a good comedic actor with the right direction. The man had gravitas and dignity pouring off his voice, delivery and mannerisms, treating things that are nonsensical as deathly serious and elevating the nonsense to comedic heights. It’s why it’s not funny to have him act funny and do yuk-yuk schtick because then he’s acting funny and making an rear end out of himself. This book has rules for calling shots to the groin. This book has rules for if your character has male menopause. This book has rules for your character being naturally flammable or how there’s a lot of ethical debate over which bestial humanoids are okay to eat and which ones are generally considered edible or how a mutation can be the ability to fart sleeping gas twice a day. These would be intolerable and stupid in less skilled heh heh snicker hands…but the book treats them all as serious facts of life and explains, seriously, how acid farts work, how being trained in doing sex well makes you a decent at first aid, how your characters can have an extra nipple per breast and more. Radiation and mutations are Wizard Bullshit, to quote a friend, and the book pretends it isn’t, it’s serious and here are the rules.

I find it funny. However. It isn’t interesting to read.

As a result, I’m not including a lot of technical gritty gameplay details and mechanics for things. I’m leaving off damage values, how many times you can use a mutation per day, how many bullets fit in a gun, etc. I’m also leaving off a lot of art because there is a lot of art that’s often found in the form of a small thumbnail. If it’s interesting or warrants further diving into, I’ll take a look at it. This does mean I will just be posting a whole mess of charts that list things I won’t talk about. If you want to go seek out this book so you can see first-hand how it works and all shakes out, sure, go ahead. I can’t reprint this whole thing; as a general rule I like to leave something behind to motivate people to ever look at this on their own unless I consider it irredeemable. It would also be a boring mind-numbing slog on my end to just reprint it all and it wouldn’t be an engaging read. As a general rule of thumb, if it looks stupid and questionable and a joke, it may stem from a place of a joke but it is absolutely not intended as a joke, and I find that funny.

That said, I absolutely will be making characters where applicable, because stuff can get stupid and is also just full of questionable design choices. So! Join me NEXT TIME when we start the long haul into all 106 pages of character creation in this 250 page book. We're going to be specifically looking at stat generation and the first chunk of the races. And yes, dice will absolutely be rolled.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 06:41 on Jun 7, 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!


Falconier111 posted:

The current year is 2040… something, I couldn’t find an exact date. Cyberworld sure wasn’t shy about kicking its alternate history off; the first event listed in the timeline this book provides (Boris Yeltsin’s assassination) happened one year after this book was published, and the two big factors that shaped Cyberworld should have come and gone by now. The first was a superbug called Tolliver’s Disease (and several nicknames, including my favorite, “the Toller”) that killed over 1 billion people and caused societal collapse in many parts of the world. While first world nations were able to get access to the cure pretty quick once it came out, but much of the Third World couldn’t get their hands on it fast enough to keep their governments from collapsing – meaning we’re back to Darkest Africa (and India) again (we’ll cover what’s messed up about THAT later). The second big event was a massive market crash in 2006, which was… unfortunately prescient, but this one was a lot more severe than the Great Recession – bad enough to kill millions due to its economic and social repercussions. Even decades later, most national currencies have been superseded by their corporate equivalents. What did they call it?

…the Grand Slam. Amazing.

You'd figure if anything, a world-wide disease would rip through countries like India, Japan and most of Europe like a scythe through wheat, due to the public transit systems and population density providing more or less perfect conditions for it to hit as many people as possible before anyone had a chance to react, and countries with broad land borders would have a hard time keeping the disease out once panic started spreading. So more believably, if we had a superplague, countries like Africa, the Middle East, much of SE Asia would in fact be perfectly set to rise, due to low pop density, sea borders, etc. giving them an easier time managing the spread of the disease.

If anything it could be a pretty decent setup for a setting where places like Africa would suddenly have more leverage than in the current year. I mean, poo poo, with stuff like antivax movements and weakening access to public healthcare in some parts of the West, the power of our medical industries to save us is more dubious than ever.

Tendales posted:

Part 2:The People cont'd

Herethroy
The cricket folk

It's actually kind of refreshing to have a bug species that isn't psycho killers or cold and alien mentally, but it makes sense if you're basing them off of social insects which tend to live together in large hives and work together on a very even basis. You could reasonably fluff them as extremely gregarious and not happy being on their own because they're used to dozens of buzzing sisters and brothers within short reach.

Also nice having some bugs in a game for once that aren't based on ants or mantises. As much as I love ants or mantises, it just feels a bit overdone by now. Ants for the COLD ALIEN COMMUNIST BUGS, mantises for the COLD ALIEN ASSASSIN BUGS. Where are my goddamn beefolk, my mud dauber people, etc. there are so many cool insects to do things with that I'm surprised no one's done a game or setting where bug people are the majority yet.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Something about the Vosberg write-up makes me think they're mostly bumpkins. "Sure thing, Lady Wise!" "My name does not literally end in 'The Wise.'" "Aw, why'd they'n call ya that if weren't? Always good for a laugh, Lady Wise!"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Fangs at the Gate: Armor Eye

Eyebright is 3-dot moonsilver lamellar armor. In the years after retiring from soldiery, Ophione became old and blind as she lived with her kin, but she never became less alert. When her village sheltered some travelers, she sensed in them a wrongness, and she Exalted fighting off the disguised bandits when they attempted to strike. While she loved her people, the village offered little for her renewed strength and passion. While traveling the world, she met the Dragon-Blood prince Anandra of Brass, whom she thought honorable and well-intentioned, so eventually she signed on as a captain under him. Anandra had Eyebright made for Ophione, that the Lunar need not be blind in his service. In battle, Ophione was Anandra’s strong right hand, and likewise in his court in the Dreaming Sea area. However, his life was much shorter than hers, and while she was his logical successor, she had no interest in rulership, and left Anandra’s land to once more be a wanderer. After her death in a fateful duel in which she slew her Solar mate, the East Wind Prince, the armor Eyebright vanished for centuries. It reappeared after the Usurpation in the armory of Thousand-Swords Oravan. Since the fall of his Silver Principiate, it has passed through many Lunar hands, and currently it lies in the Southwestern vaults of the Three Devil Princes, who await a worthy bearer for it. The armor is a coat of moonsilver scales reinforced by pauldrons and vambraces, and its most noteworthy features are the seventy-seven star sapphires, each the size of a robin’s egg, that sparkle across its surface. Each is an eye, its star shifting to follow the attention of the bearer. The armor has two hearthstone slots.

Eyebright can see in all directions, giving a bonus to any sight-based rolls to oppose Stealth and removing all penalties from visual impairment to its wielder’s actual eyes, such as blindness, though not from any impairment that also would affect the armor’s eyes, such as fog or darkness. Eyebright’s Evocations rely heavily on the wielder’s understanding of foes, measured by Insight. Your Insight into a foe is equal to the highest value of any of their Intimacies you know of which is relevant to the fight for some reason.

Enfolding Sentinel’s Prescience gives you a bonus to Join Battle based on the highest Insight you have among all foes present. If resonant, you also reroll all 1s until they stop showing up. Heart-Evading Sidestep boosts your Defense against an attack based on your Insight into the attacker. Knowing the Hunter’s Soul enhances the Charm Ever-Wary Fox Technique, letting you reflexively read the attacker’s intentions to learn an Intimacy related to the attack when you succeed on a Perception roll enhanced by the Charm, and if resonant also gives a bonus to the roll involved. You learn it free when you use Ever-Wary Fox Technique to successfully detect a concealed foe.

Sapphire Warrior Intuition lets you gain Initiative when you successfully defend against an attack by a foe you have any Insight into. If resonant, they also lose Initiative. Thousand-Eyed Sword Dancer reduces onslaught penalties to your Defense against attacks from foes you have Insight into, and reduces the power of attacks made by battle groups you have Insight into. The capstone is All-Seeing Awareness Stance, which causes the star sapphires to blaze like tiny suns. At the start of each turn for the rest of the scene, you reflexively aim at any one foe you have Insight into. Further, you ignore environmental penalties to detect foes you have Insight into, and get a bonus to all rolls opposing their concealment and disguises. If resonant, you also get a bonus to Evasion. Further, this Charm can be reflexively activated whenever you detect a concealed foe using Ever-Wary Fox Technique.

Far-Ranging Eye is a 3-dot moonsilver infinite chakram. It is a circle of moonsilver inset with seven jewels, and it was not made as a weapon but as a vow. Ojun of Qamad was a prince of some power and ambition, but he trusted too easily and asked too few questions about his generals and advisors. He was torn from his throne and abandoned in the savannah, where he discovered courage, resolve and ferocity he had not known he had. When he returned to Qamad, he was a hardened Lunar survivor, made strong by his exile and Exaltation. None speak of the dark day of vengeance he wrought, except to say that he tore seven jewels from the ancestral crown of Qamad before placing it on his cousin’s head. He swore to stand better vigil over Creation than he had managed over Qamad, and he forged those jewels into Far-Ranging Eye that he might always remember the cost of his failure. Later, in the hands of the outcaste Dragon-Blood Ahta Najit, the weapon was a tool of justice, always vigilant for guilt and crime. For the hero Starless Shadow, it was a shield against assassins. Today, the weapon has passed into legend, last seen in the treasure hall of Highroost, a falconfolk clan that has fallen into chaos and internal war.

Wielders attuned to Far-Ranging Eye get its first evocation free: Eye-of-Strife Meditation, which causes a prismatic Essence lens to appear in the chakram, focusing your attention on truth. You get a bonus to an Investigation roll involving evidence of violence or a tracking roll to pursue someone you hit with the chakram in the past few days. Blinking Eye Omen gives a bonus to Join Battle as the chakram vibrates in anticipation of violence, and you treat your Initiative as higher to determine if you are vulnerable to ambushes on the first round. Razor Vigil Meditation lets you reflexively aim at any foe you have a Major or Defining Tie of suspicion or distrust to or whom you’ve ever witnessed making a surprise attack against you or someone you have a positive Tie to. If resonant and E3+, if both conditions are true, you instead take two reflexive aim actions at them. Soul-Piercing Lens lets you hold up the chakram and look at someone through it to pierce their defenses. You instantly make a read intentions or profile character check with a bonus against someone in Medium range, and if you succeed, you can use Razor Vigil Meditation against them for the scene even if the conditions are not met and can track them with Eye-of-Strife Meditation as if you’d hit them.

Reflections on Adversity cannot be bought with XP. It is gained free when you find evidence of a previously unknown plot against you or someone to whom you have a positive Tie. Once per day while sleeping, you can make a Perception check against the Guile of someone you successfully examined with Soul-Piercing Lens that day. Success reveals a valuable piece of info about them, such as a forthcoming plan or a piece of their history. Razor Rends the Veil enhances Soul-Piercing Lens; when it is used against someone using magical disguise, concealment or other sense-deceiving magic, you can roll Initiative using the gambit rules against them as an unblockable, undodgeable attack. If you succeed, the effect hiding their nature ends. This cannot negate shapeshifting, resplendent destinies or instant- or permanent-duration effects. If used against effects that enhance mundane disguises, such as Perfect Mirror, it does not retroactively negate their bonuses but will end any effects above and beyond the usual effect of a successful disguise check. If resonant, the cost to perform this gambit is reduced.

Seven Eyes Cyclone can only be learned if resonant and is the capstone. You throw the Eye in an arc as it glints madly, seeking out thieves and traitors. To use this, you must have Initiative 12+, and you make a Decisive attack against a number of foes within Short range; if there are concealed foes in range and you haven’t picked out your maximum targets, the chakram can attack the concealed foes, though they get a Defense bonus. The GM picks which hidden foes get attacked. The attack damages all targets, and any concealed targets must make a Stealth check to oppose any damage they take; failure means they lose concealment. You can use Razor Vigil Meditation for the scene against any foe struck, even if its normal conditions are not met, and you may use Reflections on Adversity against any of the foes struck that night.

Next time: The Hundred Rings of Hadam-Ul, Nightbane

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Root of the Issue

So, we're going to jump right into resolution mechanics, because the main book does anyway. This is where Feng Shui hits its first big snag, anyway: The d6-d6 resolution mechanic. So to do an Open Check (the most common sort) you roll a positive d6 and a negative d6. If you get a 6 on either die, it explodes and you keep rolling until you don't get a 6. If you get a 6 on both dice, you have set up a critical success or a way awful failure, depending on if you end up succeeding or not; you essentially start a new check, ignoring future double sixes until it's resolved, and then the success is especially cool or dramatic or the failure is especially slapstick and hilarious. Once you're done rolling, you add or subtract the overall result to your base Action Value, your skill/base chance in the action you were trying. If you're over the difficulty of the check, you succeed and take your Outcome: How much you succeeded by. Outcome won't always come up, but it's always important in combat, and combat is the most common kind of check in Feng Shui because this is a goddamn action movie. To do a Closed Check, you do the same thing, but no dice explode. Closed Checks are used when the system wants to keep a check bounded to +5/-5 ranges.

PCs will generally start with base Action Values from 13-15 in their important skills and abilities. You can also crit-fail if the negative die kicks you in the dick and decides to explode several times and gets your check result to a negative number, but unless you were attempting an action you sucked at this isn't very likely.

Example: Julia Gallagher is a gunslinger, trying to kill a guy with her pistol. She's very good with a gun, and has a 14 base Action value. She rolls +d6 and -d6, getting a 4 and a 3. So she adds +4 to her AV of 14, then subtracts 3 from that new total of 18, to get a 15 check result. She needed an 8 to hit that guy (he's some poor mook), and so gets an Outcome of 7. If she'd rolled a 3 and a 6, she'd have kept rolling the negative die, getting a 4. As a result, she'd take +3, then -10, and get a 7 overall, somehow managing to gently caress that up and feeling very ashamed of herself.

Now, the issue with d6-d6 isn't actually the exploding dice. They can make it swingy, but let's be real: Generating sudden outliers is half the reason we use dice. How many RPG stories hinge on 'and then a rolled a 20'? The issue isn't really the exploding dice, but rather that the majority of the time the positive-negative aspect of rolling makes the dice system highly deterministic. You'll have wild outliers, sure, but they're actually pretty rare, and more importantly, they usually only matter that much in a challenging or dangerous situation when they're outliers on the positive side. Statistically, the majority of dice rolls (52% or so) are going to be +2/-2 or less. The most common result for a roll is +0. If you needed a positive 3 result, for instance, you actually have pretty poor chances. Sure, exploding dice can help you out, and explosions will happen pretty regularly, because you're rolling 2d6 and d6s are small dice, so rolling max on one or the other isn't uncommon (about 27.8% of rolls will have an explosion one way or another). The thing is, that's a coinflip, and if you were trying to do something challenging, and you got a negative explosion at all, you're probably hosed even if you roll a 1 on the second roll and rolled a 5 on the positive die to start with.

This can interact really badly with a lot of the static AV modifiers we'll be seeing later when we get into combat, special abilities, etc. Suffice to say the most common AV penalty for trying to do something cool is -2. If you needed a +0 to achieve something and got a -2, your odds actually suffer significantly. That base -2 takes off a good 25% chance to succeed and makes you about 30% likely to succeed.

Now, you can even these odds in a few ways. One, some characters have points of Fortune. Fortune can be spent to add an additional positive die to a roll, which explodes if it's an Open Check. This naturally gives you a huge boost; if any AV variation is a significant boost, 1-6+ extra AV is really good. You'll also get special powers and stuff that give you bonuses to AV. But base AV is one of the strongest traits a character can have, because if you go into a fight with a guy who is 2 AV below you, you have huge odds of hitting him and he's got Starting Warhammer PC level odds of hitting you. Vice-versa.

So yeah, it ain't the dice explosions, it's the fact that rolling a positive and a negative die makes the majority of the results only vary slightly from your base AV, which then ends up making base AV extremely powerful. If you have a 14 (a 'good' starting PC or normal named enemy) and the other guy has a 22 (some super faction enforcers have these kinds of stats) your odds of doing jack or poo poo to them are very low, because the base AV of your best fighting skill is also your passive dodge rating/base chance to get hit.

Now, let's talk about another fundamental part of the system, again because the game puts it here since we're just about in character creation. You derive your AV in a skill from a Stat and a Skill Bonus, but due to a lot of factors Skill Bonus is mostly vestigial. What really matters is just how the actual AV shakes out. There are 4 stats, and each has 'substats'. You have your Body (how well you take hits and punch people), your Chi (How well you do magic, your luck, and your kung fu), your Reflexes (The God Stat: How many actions you get in combat, boosts the AVs of most physical combat abilities), and your Mind (Willpower, intelligence, etc). Normally, all of a stats's Substats will equal your score in the stat. If the primary stat goes up, and a substat was equal to or below the primary, it goes up with it. If a substat was higher than the primary, it does not increase when the primary does. Body is split into Toughness (Damage Reduction), Strength (Melee Damage), Constitution (Resisting special attacks and poison), and Movement (How far you move). Reflexes are split into Dexterity (Guns, driving, cutting the red wire), Agility (Martial Arts, Jumping Out a Window While On Fire and Doing Six Flips), and Speed (Initiative, which also determines how many actions you can take, which is why Ref is a God-Stat like all nineties games). Mind is split into Will (Resist dark wizard), Charisma (Make a sappy speech while a pop ballad plays), Perception (Spot stuff), and Intelligence (Lots of Brain Skills). Chi is special, and is usually much lower than other stats; the averages for the others are 5, but an average PC will have a 0 Chi to start. Chi provides Fortune (Pool of luck dice), Fu (Pool of Kung Fu Special Attack Points), and Magic (Wizbiz/Demon Powers/Cronenburg futuretech!).

Now, the issue here is that you create a PC by picking and customizing an Archetype. Archetypes have a bunch of base stats, abilities, and what's called Schticks (Feats/perks/special moves, with a cooler, catchier name. I love the name Schtick for it). They then modify those with free points provided in the Archetype to taste. This is the kind of Action Hero you are. I'll be going over some of them as we get more into character creation and what PCs look like, but if you want the full list of them I'll refer you to Mors' stuff in the archives, again. Flavor-wise? Archetypes are good. So, so good. You get so many cool ideas for PCs just flipping through these, and the writing for them is just brimming with energy and fun. Mechanically? There's, uh, some balance issues. We'll get to it.

But first I want to digress and mention one of the reasons Feng Shui is goddamn great, which comes through as early as the Archetypes: Feng Shui is a game that is one hundred percent unapologetic about what it is. It's not ashamed of itself. It's not trying to throw in shitloads of gratuitous grimdark to convince you it's 'mature'. Some dark poo poo can happen in Feng Shui, but it's more like...the bad guys shot up a hospital and now you're fighting in an on-fire maternity ward and extras are dying all around you to rescue the babies while you have a huge, running gunfight with the grizzled villain and his mooks. You know, like in Hard Boiled. There's no compulsion to put in really gross poo poo. There's no hedging bets. This is a game that encourages you to make dumb sound effects with your mouth or gives you a mechanical bonus for miming the KA-CHAK on your shotgun between attacks. It's here to have a good time and it wants you to have a good time, too, and the writing is just goddamn excited to be talking about its favorite movies and stunts and cool stuff you can do. While the mechanics fall down in a lot of ways, the intention of Feng Shui is a game built around 'yes' instead of 'no', and for a game that first pops up in 1996? That's legitimately groundbreaking as a way to think about an RPG.

Similarly, while there are super tough enemies and stuff in the setting, you're kind of intended to eventually kick their asses. No-one is 'beyond' you like you'd get in a lot of other nineties games. Every metaplot character is there for you to matter to. You might be their best agents, the guys they rely on completely. You might be their bitter arch nemesis. But all the people you run into in Feng Shui are meant to be played with. Right from the start, your PC is a big deal. The game also does a good thing with its metaplot, which is groundbreaking for the 1990s: This game has a 'snapshot' metaplot. Some poo poo went down just before your game started, and the default Hero Group faction (The Silver Dragons) are mostly dead, leaving you an in to be the new generation of Silver Dragons as a default if you want. But all the setting material is based around that snapshot in time, rather than advancing the 'story'. This makes it a lot easier to include the setting material in your games, and would've meant that a group acquiring this material as it got published would instead be getting new cool stuff about what was going on Right Now instead of stuff that suddenly writes lots of pre-existing material out. It's a great way to handle it.

Anyway, back to mechanics: One of the issues in PC creation is that your main fighting AVs tend to be locked during PC creation and unable to be raised until you have EXP. Lots of skills have an = after them. Same for some stats, or substats. What this means is that even if you raise a stat that should raise that AV, the AV stays locked. This is why I say stuff like 'Martial Arts+11' as a Skill Bonus is mostly irrelevant; a character might alter their Reflexes during creation, but since their AV was locked at what it was when their Reflexes were base for their class, that +X skill bonus stops being accurate. I always just ended up recording the actual AVs instead of Skill Bonus, because raising a skill with EXP is based on its total AV anyway. Skill Bonuses are just another of the awkward ways the stat and PC creation systems interact.

The reason for the locked AVs is reasonable enough. If you didn't lock them, what happens when a character with a ton of free Skill Bonuses on their Archetype jacks a fighting skill up to 20 and styles all over the dedicated 'best at skill in fighting' Archetypes? But it can lead to a curious thing where, for instance, raising Reflexes during PC creation so you have a high Speed (you want that) means that if you'd instead raised Reflexes with EXP later, you'd have also effectively raised a ton of your Fighting AVs, which is way more efficient EXP wise. At the same time, because you get diminishing returns on raising stats with EXP later, putting static points of +1 into a stat to jack it up is efficient in its own way. We'll get into the weeds with EXP later, but the whole EXP/character creation resource split is something you see a lot in this era of gaming. Now, worrying about this kind of stuff is meant to be a bit against the spirit of the game; FS is not the kind of game where you're supposed to worry about min-maxing. The issue is that with Base AV being such an important stat and the die system being highly deterministic, the person playing a PC with a 15 fighting AV is going to get to kick people into a helicopter blades significantly more often than person who has a 13. And with Archetypes being kind of unbalanced, it can be easy to accidentally pick a character who will be frustrated and unable to pull off cool poo poo.

We'll get into that next time, with the Archetypes.

Next Time: Melodramatic Hooks, Characters, and Archetypes

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 14:08 on Jun 7, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

The Man Your Man Could Kill Like

So, let's talk archetypes and PC creation in detail. Like I said, the Archetypes sell themselves. Pretty much every Archetype makes themselves sound cool enough to be worth playing as. Choosing your Archetype is the most mechanically significant decision in the game, and the book is also clear that if after the first session you're not happy with some of your choices, you can go back and retcon them. The focus is on getting you into the action, and to that same token making a PC doesn't take long.

Archetypes decide what kinds of powers you start out with access to, what your base AV is, what non-combat skills you know for the 'breather' scenes where you do character drama or hunt for clues, what your stats are, and what Juncture you're from. See, Feng Shui is a time travel game, where characters go from one era of time to another via a magic netherworld full of the ruins of past timelines. These time-spots are usually pretty fixed, and provide sub-settings and cool sets for you to have fights in. Since they matter a lot to Archetypes, let me give you a quick rundown:

69 AD: Most portals go to ancient China, at the latter end of the Han Dynasty. This is full on mythic China, full of wuxia protagonists, demons, and evil sorcerers. The main conflict here is that the palace Eunuchs that controlled access to the Han Emperors aren't just politically powerful and cunning operators, they're All David Lo Pan a cabal of dark and sinister Sorcerers calling on the power of the Underworld, which is worse than the Netherworld. Lotta hells down in that Underworld. Lotta hells. They've looked forward in time and realized they get wiped out by Dong Zhuo a century or so later and realized that poo poo won't stand, so they've set out to conquer the entire time stream and ensure the world will be ruled by cackling Chinese dark wizards for all time.

1850 AD: Once again, a lot of the portals go to China, but you can also go to Europe or the American West if you want some Cowboy shootouts. This sub-setting is fought over by a bunch of sinister Neo-Confucian kung-fu masters (Seriously: The Guiding Hand are amazing and I'll probably be going into their setting book in time just because their hosed up philosophy of the Superior Man is great writing) who are trying to co-opt and subvert all Chinese resistance in the aftermath of the horrible First Opium War. Its actual setting book has a ton of great stuff on a turbulent period in Chinese history and how to drop-kick assholes throughout it. The people doing the colonizing and gunboat diplomacy are partly members of a secret society of hidden fairytale animals who want to suppress magic, called the Ascended, who act as a turbo-Illuminati and overall own 1850 and 1996.

1996 AD: The Contemporary Juncture. Much of the action here will happen in pre-handover Hong Kong, because Hong Kong is the most important city in the universe. That isn't an exaggeration in the slightest. Other than that, it's the mid 90s; Cold War's over (for now), Clinton's President, the West is booming, Russia is full of crime and sadness, the US is throwing its dick all over the planet in triumph, the internet's new and people still thought it was going to be used for something other than advertising and surveillance, etc etc. It's a wild time to be alive, and kind of the 'default' for PCs. Also ruled by the secret Chicken Illuminati, who like to point to the fact that the internet exists and you can get a cheeseburger to justify their existence. Given what happens next, and the poo poo going down in 1850, all Ascended are scum.

2056 AD: So, uh. Global warming went real bad. Around the 2030s (which is remarkably prescient) global agriculture collapsed from climate change. A pandemic that could've wiped out humankind was only stopped by sterilizing Haiti before it spread. The dark future has been returned to being stable, bright, and shiny by the Bureau of Tactical Management (Generally called Buro), which invented artificial means of feeding everyone, put together armies of cybernetic horrors pulled out of Chinese Hell, and clamped down on the world with an iron fist composed of everything the Far Right has ever been terrified of. Yes, the Dark Future of Feng Shui has bio-horror magic invented by dark scientists and UN cyberdemons enforcing inter-racial marriage as the norm and is generally a parody of American right wing paranoia combined with Demolition Man and a Croenenberg film.

So your PC is from one of these times. Your Archetype will tell you which ones that Archetype can be from. For instance, one of the Archetypes is the Monster Hunter; these are the guys and gals who actually go into the Netherworld or 69 AD to grab demons to cyber up. Naturally, with an insanely dangerous job that sees them working for the Dark Future equivalent of Umbrella Inc, some of them decide to get the hell out while the getting is good and try to change the future. But since their backstory is heavily tied to using Arcanowave (the evil bio-magic tech of the future), you generally have to be from 2056, even though you probably start your campaign somewhere else.

In fact, let's look at the Monster Hunter as our first full Archetype example, because I always have a bit of a soft-spot for ascended mooks who used to be doing a ridiculously dangerous, thankless job at the behest of mad science. The Monster Hunter begins play with a 5 in all 4 primary attributes, meaning their Chi is very, unusually high. They need that since Magic fuels Arcanowave devices, and that's their core power set. We'll get into the mechanics of all the power sets later; Arcanowave is probably the weirdest. They then get 5 points to distribute among their Primary stats, and no Secondaries. So a Monster Hunter PC has pretty okay starting stats; they could start out with a 10 and all 5s, or go more evenly distributed, etc. They start with a whopping locked AV 15 in Arcanowave (which also means their base Dodge AV is 15, even if they're not using their Arcanowave devices), a locked 12 in Guns, a 9 in Martial Arts (can go up to 10 before locking), and a 9 in Information: Ancient China, with 4 skill points to distribute elsewhere. So they're kinda lovely with a gun by PC standards, amazing with hell-magic, and only a little above a mook in kung-fu. They get 2 Arcanowave Device Schticks, and then 1 Gun Schtick; they're meant to be a hybrid AW/Gun character, even if they kind of suck with the gun to start with. They also come with one gun from 2056, but characters throw guns away and get news guns so often that it's hardly worth mentioning most of the time.

So your Monster Hunter is fighting AV 15 for purposes of not getting hit (again, this is just their base; it applies whether they have their hell-tools or not), and gets to play with their hell-magic bio-rifles and poo poo at AV 15. They're a bit of a special case, because AW isn't that great for direct combat (the one AW item that is is a massive hell-rifle that can be hard to carry around) so they're probably going to rely on Gun a lot, but in most cases, a character doesn't benefit a lot from splitting between multiple fighting skills. After all, if you can fight on AV 15 or fight on AV 12 and there isn't some very pressing mechanical reason to use the AV 12 skill (like the enemy being completely immune to the AV 15 one, which can happen, or you just not having your giant hell-cannon) you're gonna take that +3 AV every time; the odds go way up if you do.

Let's look at another infamous Archetype: The Big Bruiser. This is for people who want to play the huge person who gets punched a bunch in the stomach as their acrobatic little enemy tries to do cool kung-fu moves on them and just yawns, then smashes the little guy. They're also infamously one of the worst Archetypes in the game, because the way the dice system works out, that scene basically never goes like that. They're insanely strong and tough (They start with Body=11, Toughness=12!) and take more damage before they start to suffer wound penalties or risk dying. They hit like a train in melee, potentially, since they're Str 11. They get 0 Chi, 5 Ref, and 5 Mnd, then 2 points to add to one of those (Both points must go to one stat). Their issues start when their highest AV is 12. They start with Martial Arts =12, Guns 8 (max 10), Intimidation 9, and Info (Your Choice) 7, with 4 extra skill points. They have 0 Schticks. They might have 0 Fortune. So you run into a situation where you can't loving hit an AV 15 guy, and meanwhile he can hit you, but you're Toughness 12, so you're pretty hard to hurt. So the other guy is chipping away at you, 2-3 damage an action or so, when it takes 50 damage to kill a Big Bruiser. And meanwhile you're swinging wildly and missing. It's not a recipe for exciting action. The Big Bruiser's terrible AV basically translates to 'until you level up a bunch, you get to sit and watch other people be cool while you mostly fail to take out extras'. Bruisers can be from any Juncture, of course; Big Guy/Gal is a universal constant.

Or let's look at one of my personal favorites, and the other major AV outlier: The Old Master. Yeah, you're supposed to die in act 1 so your student can avenge you, but gently caress that! You want to be a PC. Old Kung Fu Masters can be from any Juncture, because there are always old Kung Fu Masters hidden away in all time periods. They get Bod=4, Chi=10 (Fortune=0!), Mnd 5, Ref 5, but also get 4 points to distribute between Ref and Mnd. They know Info on Calligraphy, Chinese Poetry, Chinese Painting, Eastern Philosophy and Noodle-Making, because that is the way of the superior man (or woman). But that's not the real reason you come to the Old Master: It's for the Martial Arts=16. Yep. They start with a 16 AV. AND they do more damage with their fists and feet than most people do with a sword or spear, to make up for their frail starting Body. They are the exact opposite of the Big Bruiser, and they kick rear end. They also start with 5 Fu Schticks, so they can know an entire style of magic kung-fu. They're awesome for the exact reasons the Big Bruiser sucks.

I also bring them up because c'mon, you can actually just play an Old Master who refuses to get written out. And you can be from any time period! You can be a frail old woman living in peace on a mountain away from the climate change and UN stormtroopers when a VTOL lands on your porch and crushes your peach tree and then a few minutes later a cyberdemon and a bunch of BuroMil goons are all in a bleeding heap on the floor as you steal their ride and set out to bring justice back to the world. Because they hosed with an old person living on a mountain. In a kung fu movie.

You can be Rambo, you can be Inspector Tequila, you can be Jack Burton, you can be Jacky Chan or Donnie Yen. You can play a noble Hell Demon or a Cyberdemon yourself! You can be a ghost! A ghost who is a wizard! You can make a famed Han Dynasty Magistrate have a buddy-cop story with a cybernetic rebel monkey from the future. All of this is supported by the Archetype system. The issue is that a bunch of the Archetypes come out to AV 13, no real Schticks, and a bunch of 'non-combat' utility. The Spy, the Thief, the Journalist; those guys all kinda pale next to The Killer with his 15 Gun AV and shitload of Gun Schticks, or the Maverick Cop's amazing driving skills and two-fisted pistols. They're still cool, but the guy with the better numbers is just going to do more cool poo poo, because you need the numbers to actually hit the checks to do the cool poo poo. And the one sort of situation you absolutely know is coming up? Combat.

Another fun thing is the Melodramatic Hook. You have a Melodramatic Hook. This has nothing to do with game mechanics. This is your elevator pitch. It's to get you thinking about 'why is my character here, and what cool thing am I trying to do'. Your hook is why the audience cares about you. Some rear end in a top hat capped your partner. You've been dragged back in for one last job. You got someone important killed and can't go back to Buro. You're in love with someone you shouldn't be. You're trying to bring your evil father/brother/mother/sister to justice or redeem them. You need the money for your mom's operation. You came back to Hong Kong undercover to kill the Triad guy who helped your sister OD. A quick, simple, 'why do we care' that gives you a hook. It's a great thing to add for making the kinds of character Feng Shui is about. Sure, you can fill in more backstory as your series goes on, but this is your 'into the action' hook and it's a good move.

So, to demonstrate why character creation might be something of a mechanical mess but still produces strong character concepts at least, throw a concept at me and I can make it in Feng Shui, almost guaranteed. Even if you know nothing about the setting beyond the general tone so far and those Juncture descriptions.

Next Time: Showing off PC creation in detail

Hypnobeard
Sep 15, 2004

Obey the Beard





Night10194 posted:

Similarly, while there are super tough enemies and stuff in the setting, you're kind of intended to eventually kick their asses. No-one is 'beyond' you like you'd get in a lot of other nineties games. Every metaplot character is there for you to matter to. You might be their best agents, the guys they rely on completely. You might be their bitter arch nemesis. But all the people you run into in Feng Shui are meant to be played with. Right from the start, your PC is a big deal. The game also does a good thing with its metaplot, which is groundbreaking for the 1990s: This game has a 'snapshot' metaplot. Some poo poo went down just before your game started, and the default Hero Group faction (The Silver Dragons) are mostly dead, leaving you an in to be the new generation of Silver Dragons as a default if you want. But all the setting material is based around that snapshot in time, rather than advancing the 'story'. This makes it a lot easier to include the setting material in your games, and would've meant that a group acquiring this material as it got published would instead be getting new cool stuff about what was going on Right Now instead of stuff that suddenly writes lots of pre-existing material out. It's a great way to handle it.

Just a historical note: Hârn did this, starting in like 1983. All products stop at a specific date, everything past that is completely up to the GM. There's half a dozen conflicts set up in the setting, and none of them have ever been resolved canonically in the ~30 years since release. It's one of the cool bits of Hârn.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hypnobeard posted:

Just a historical note: Hârn did this, starting in like 1983. All products stop at a specific date, everything past that is completely up to the GM. There's half a dozen conflicts set up in the setting, and none of them have ever been resolved canonically in the ~30 years since release. It's one of the cool bits of Hârn.

It's a really good way to do RPG setting writing in general, since it's an acknowledgment that you're setting up the game's/player's story, not your own.

There's going to be a lot of really good, still-applicable GMing advice about that and about making NPCs later on, too. Whatever issues FS has, the writing, setting, and GMing advice aren't one of them.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



An agent of the dystopian future government who's also a costumed vigilante / revolutionary that his normal identity has been assigned to catch. Basically "get me photos of spider-man!" crossed with V.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Lone Badger posted:

An agent of the dystopian future government who's also a costumed vigilante / revolutionary that his normal identity has been assigned to catch. Basically "get me photos of spider-man!" crossed with V.

This is directly one of the Future Book Archetypes, and actually a major setting NPC/hook up there.

It involves the magic that once shielded Fidel Castro from the CIA.

E: Did I mention Greg Stolze wrote the Buro book? Because he did. And he made them so much better.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


How about a Japanese grad student that tried an experimental treatment for her terminal illness and is now part shark, part octopus, and trying to somehow use this to repay her debts? (The debts being for college, medical expenses, and a serious love of manga)

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 17:30 on Jun 7, 2019

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Hard-bitten ape-cyborg private eye.

Electro-fedora mandatory.

(I know gently caress all about the setting.)

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


Night10194 posted:

Feng Shui 1e
So, to demonstrate why character creation might be something of a mechanical mess but still produces strong character concepts at least, throw a concept at me and I can make it in Feng Shui, almost guaranteed. Even if you know nothing about the setting beyond the general tone so far and those Juncture descriptions.

Next Time: Showing off PC creation in detail

On a mechanical level, the player who screwed himself in chargen by accident (by making reasonable sounding choices that he's too new to know are traps).
Besides that, Volkov & Chitzkoi - Soviet cyborg super-soldier, and his loyal (and equally cybernetic) dog.
Or (if the system can't do companions/you need more ideas): Aaang, mister of the elements.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

Zhuge Liang, gone back in time 200 years to prevent the fall of the Han Dynasty.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


You know what, let's throw the character I had from FS2e in.

Private eye who (successfully) brought a sword to countless gunfights.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Get me those pictures!

Dr. Igor Tarantula, MD is feared all across the shelters of the American Midwest, a terrible rebel against the Bureau of Happiness and Productivity whose crimes include replacing the populace's Productivity Drugs with placebos, publishing an underground medical journal, helping other rebels replace their biometrics, and kidnapping the children of known subversives (Read: Hiding them from BuroMil snatch squads). He and his spider-themed minions (and their sticky web projectors) have yet to actually be convicted on a single count of murder, but there are many, many counts of public endangerment and unlawful restraint to answer for!

And on the case is ace Public Order Flying Squad detective Lance Cortez, an all Amero-Hispanic flying ace and crack investigator who has sworn to bring the masked, handsome doctor to task. That Lance Cortez is Dr. Igor Tarantula (MD) by night is irrelevant, and he is still held up on propaganda posters throughout the tornado-ravaged underground shelter-cities of the midwestern United States.

Dr. Igor Tarantula, MD uses the Criminal Mastermind Archetype from Seed of the New Flesh, the Buro book. These are costumed villains and megalomaniacs who seek to bring down the Buro of 2056...which...kind of ends up making them the good guys. All the real psychos went and joined the secret police, you see. So they end up good-hearted rebels against the dystopian future, but they also get to have fun, which is usually illegal in 2056.

Dr. Igor Tarantula, MD starts off with a 5 in Bd, 0 in Chi (=4 Fu), 5 in Mnd, and 5 in Ref, with up to +4 in those stats (max 2 per stat). As he is a genius doctor, he will take 2 points of Mnd, then 2 points of Reflexes to represent how he is also a flying cop by day. Jetbike cops are the prestigious cops of 2056. He gets a base 14 of Martial Arts (locked to 14) and 10 in Guns (locked to 10), but can swap them; he does so because I think a gun is cooler for him. He knows about the criminal underground in 2056 (10, raises to 12 from increasing Mind), Leaderhips (10, increasing to 12 from Mind), and Intrusion (7, increasing to 9 from Reflexes) so he can sneak about. He gets 2 additional skills, so also takes 1 point in Drive/Ride (Note: You can drive/ride ANYTHING) for an 8 and 1 in Medicine for another 8. He is a medical doctor! He then gets the choice between 2 gun schticks and 1 Fu schtick, 4 Gun Schticks, or 2 Fu Schticks; the gun choice is way more EXP efficient, so he takes that.

Guns are kind of the 'single classed fighter' powerset of Feng Shui. They're also hands down the best weapon in the game for sweeping away mooks. Dr. Igor Tarantula, MD is going to take 2 ranks of Carnival of Carnage. Normally, you spend 3 action points (Shots) per attack with a gun. Each rank of Carnival of Carnage makes you spend 1 less, min 1, to shoot at mooks. This means he can kill mooks all goddamn day. He also takes Hair Trigger Neck Hairs, a Schtick that gives him +2 to Perception tests against danger and means he's always alert and ready to draw down; if he succeeds a spot check to see hidden danger, he can add his Outcome on that check to his first gun stunt that sequence. Or to his AV for his first action roll dodge. He also takes Signature Weapon, having a signature Buro Blade of Truth (Their little bullpup SMG-uzi...FROM THE FUTURE!) that he always seems to have on his person and that now does +3 damage. It now conceals like an SMG, hits like an assault rifle, and in his capable hands, mows down (non-lethally! He is a doctor, and knows how to avoid killing mooks when taking them down) mooks.

As a Criminal Mastermind, he also gets 2 sweet unique abilities. Unique Schticks, so to speak. He is a Mook Magnet, knowing the gentle ways of the kinds of people who put on spider-themed body suits and join a themed criminal. He can go around and recruit mooks for his posse; after a full day cruising dive bars, wharves, abandoned warehouses, and offering people booze and easy pickings, he can make an Open Check (with no base AV). Add 1 to the result of that check, and that's how many mooks he recruits. They're mostly useless, but if any of them survive 3 whole combats, they get a name! And a backstory! And become actual characters/contacts/allies and start gaining EXP points like he had the Leadership feat in D&D.

To pay for that, though, he has the unique drawback Slave to the Cheese: If he defeats a Buro character, he just...it's just not done. No-one just shoots these people. That's not how it goes! He lowers them into the vat of ill-tempered mutant octopi while gloating and making a speech. He gives them crazy but fair deathtraps and games and means to escape. Just killing them is boring, and gently caress, he didn't get into this job to be boring.

His Melodramatic hook, of course, is that he lives a double life as both the fantastic Dr. Igor Tarantula, MD and the heroic Lance Cortez, who spends a lot of time talking up how dangerous and cool Dr. Tarantula is, if you pay attention. As an added bonus, he's Rich, though wealth is mostly meaningless in FS.

Mako Ishii was a slightly tougher one, but I decided to go with the funnier option of Supernatural Creature rather than Abomination or Transformed Animal.

Mako Ishii is your normal 25 year old post-doc Japanese student, studying biochemistry in the US and trying to make it in the world. Except the part where until last year, she was due to die of cancer within a few months. Interning with a super-scientist who turned out to be an Ascended front, she was used to study how they can stop themselves from turning into animals if exposed to magic, via partly turning her into an animal, by exposing her to magic. Fortunately for Mako, this actually did cure her cancer. Unfortunately for Mako, she now sometimes turns into a mighty sharktopus. Even more unfortunately for Mako, she now owes 700,000 dollars in medical bills in addition to her student loans, having drastically underestimated the nefarious US Health Insurance industry and its links to superscience and the chicken illuminati. Now she's stuck fighting in a time war she never imagined to pay the bills. At least she has superpowers. Demonic ones, it turns out.

Normally a Supernatural Creature comes from 69 AD, but I can bend things a little and have Mako be from 1996; you're supposed to do so if you backstory works. They start with Body 5, Chi 0 (Mag=8), Mind 3, and Reflexes 5. They add 5 to one stat, 3 to another, and 1 to another. Mako adds 5 to Body, 3 to Mind, and 1 to Reflexes. She's now Body 10, Chi 0 (Mag=8), Mind 6, Reflexes 6. Above average in almost all ways, extremely mighty. Her only powers are Creature Powers =15 (so her base AV is 15), and Martial Arts 9 (10 with Reflex boost, max 12). She gets 3 skillpoints, and spends 1 on Info (Superscience), one on Medicine, and one on Info (Manga). She's neglecting her Martial Arts, but don't worry; Creature Powers will be all she needs.

The real kicker here is her 5 Creature Schticks. Creature Powers are a grab-bag of crazy abilities, many of them running off Martial Arts as well as the Creature Powers skills, that can work great as weird superpowers. She takes the Transformation power, letting her turn back into a normal post-doc student. She takes a second rank of it so she can stay in that form/adopt hybrid forms while using Creature Powers. She then grabs Regeneration (Slowly heals during and between fights), Tentacles (Has long tentacles that keep enemies at bay and can use her Creature Powers stat to attack), and Amphibian; she can live and move in water with no penalty. The seas belong to Mako. Beware of Sharktopus.

Her Melodramatic Hook, of course, is that she owes huge medical debts to an evil superscientist and the legal system won't let her wriggle out of them. She's actually quite lethal. Also, as a grad student, she's poor.

Zhuge Liang still has that goddamn fan and aura of constant smugness. I also have the perfect archetype for him, but it takes a little bit of refluffing. He is an Uberkid in Archetype; these are hyper-geniuses that, in the normal fluff, were made by Buro to be a next generation of superhuman advisor and agent. Many of them have since escaped from Buro, because they're too drat smart for their own good, but are finding it surprisingly hard to get the rebel groups of the future to listen to a 9 year old. Instead, he'll use their rules, because they fit the smug bastard perfectly, but he's just Zhuge Liang, but somehow he managed to find a time hole and slip into the Netherworld.

His Melodramatic Hook is obviously 'Is Zhuge Liang' and 'Will prevent the collapse of the Han Dynasty, probably by luring people into buildings and setting them on fire, it's his thing.'

He starts with Body =4 (Weedy), Chi 4, Mnd =11 (Superhumanly smart), and Ref 5. He gets +2 to one stat, and +2 to one Secondary, so he takes +2 Chi and +2 to Fortune, because there's no way this bastard isn't getting lucky all the time. He comes with Deceit =13, Detective 11, Fixit 11, Info (Geomancy) 11, Medicine 11, Martial Arts=13, and Guns 5. He adds 4 to Info skills, so he learns Info/Han Dynasty 1 (12), Info/Strategy 2 (13), and Info/Lotus 1 (12; he's done some homework on the Eunuchs he's going to have to stop). He gets 1 Fu schtick, and takes Willow Step, which lets him spend a little bit of Fu to make himself harder to hit at no costs, because he saw it coming. He also gets some unique Schticks: He can spend Fortune to just learn stuff from the GM (Like a character's powerset, or AVs, or ridiculous things he should have no way of guessing at goddamnit Zhuge Liang), he gains an extra EXP a session because he's too goddamn smart, and he gets the same +2 to Dodge AV as the scrappy kid sidekick archetype does. Because again, he saw it coming.

He's actually really infuriating to kill, but can't do much himself with his weedy arms and little fancy fan. He's sort of the 'built to be what sounds really cool, kind of sucks' character, though his massive Fortune can turn things around some. Most of those non-combat abilities don't really help him be an action hero, and a 13 to-hit and 4 Body as a Martial Arts character can be, uh, a problem. He'll never let on that he struggles with anything, though. He'll just keep setting things on fire until the Han Dynasty holds on.

Volkov is 100% the guy who hosed himself mechanically because he took the Cyborg archetype. Cyborgs sound cool, right? His Melodramatic Hook is looking for his heroic cyber-dog, Chitzkoi, who has somehow become lost in the time stream. He will move heaven and earth to get that good boy back. He's also from an erased timeline that had a really hammy Stalin in it.

His problem is Cyborgs suck. He starts with Body 5, Chi 0, Mind 5, and Reflexes 5. He adds 3 to one stat, 1 to another, and then only 2 to one Secondary. He'll take 8 Body, 6 Reflexes, and then 2 into Dex, wanting to be fast and strong. He should have put it in Speed, not realizing he's just making it harder to raise his Guns skill, and he's going to be relying on Guns. He starts with a 7 in Arcanowave (He's an AW character who gets 0 base Magic and a terrible AW skill; why does Cyborg exist!?), =13 in Guns, =11 in Martial Arts, and 7 in Sabotage (which at least goes up to 10 from his +1 Ref, +2 Dex). He could swap Martial Arts and Guns, but decides not to. Guns are cool. He gets 6 Skillpoints, and puts 4 in Arcanowave (to hit its max of 11), and 2 in Intrusion to be a cunning agent (setting it to 8). He gets 4 Arcanowave Devices, despite not really being any use with them, and 1 Gun Schtick. However, he sort of saves himself here a little; a lot of cool AW gear doesn't actually use AW checks, or have relatively easy ones.

He grabs an Aerial Mobility Unit; he can fly, and make AW checks to speed himself up in combat. Only for how far he can move, not for how many actions he gets. He grabs a Feedback Enhancer, which makes Sorcerers have their spells backfire when they target him, without needing a check. He takes a Neural Stimulator, which does the same thing as the Aerial Mobility Unit but for his actual Init, but causes him Impairment and thus lowers his AV (dodge and attack) by 1 after each long-ish round he has it in. He then takes a Juicer, which will negate Impairments from wounds or his Stimulator. Sounds good? It also risks mutating the poo poo out of him, like all AW devices. And with 0 Chi, some of the AW backfires can kill him instantly, since they can reduce Chi as a stat and if you reduce a stat that's already at 0, AW mutation kills/turns you into an NPC monster. He also grabs Both Guns Blazing with his Gun Schtick and two Buro Godhammer .50s. That sounds cool, right? Both Guns Blazing takes multiple Schticks to stop sucking; it makes you do 2xWeapon Damage+Outcome-2xEnemy DR, so if your weapon damage is lower than their DR it actually weakens your attacks. It also imposes a -2 AV when used, with the penalty lessening by 1 per Schtick of Both Guns Blazing.

So he's an AV 13 on attack and defense, has a mishmash of cool-sounding abilities that don't work together great, can accidentally kill himself (unlikely but possible), is terrible with his AW gear despite it being his main schtick, and took the worst Gun Schtick in the game because he thought firing two massive magnums would be awesome. Sorry, Volkov. Even Zhuge Liang is a better action hero.

Hominid Case is in debt with some bad folks after some bets went wrong at the cyber-pony track down by the Netherworld Junkyard. He needs a case that'll make him some dough, quick, or else he'll be swimming with the fishes. And since he's a giant gorilla in a trenchoat with an implanted set of Film Noir movies stuck in his onboard computer, he's too heavy to swim.

Hominid Case is a Gorilla Warrior, and exists thanks to Mors being really thorough back in 2012; I actually don't need to find my book. He comes with Bod 9, Chi 0, Mnd 4, and Ref 7, because he's a giant cybernetic gorilla. He comes with 10 in Martial arts (Can go up to 13), 10 in Guns (Can go up to 13), 11 in Sabotage, and 9 in Info: CDCA (The Buro mad science people). He also comes with 4 Hardware Schticks; heavy cybernetics that can make him a super badass. And one gun Schtick. He would lose 1 point of EXP a session if he didn't have an ape pun in his name, but he does, so he's cool. He'd normally be associated with the Jammers, who are a group of insane cybernetic monkeys and rebels led by Battlechimp Potemkin (we'll get to him, I promise) and who want to free the world by blowing a lot of poo poo up. But you can't do Private Eye without Private, so he's a gorilla on his own. He also gets 7 skillpoints, so he fills out Gun to 13, then puts 1 in Detective, 1 in Intrusion, 1 in Info (Noir), and 1 in Fixit to handle his own components.

Being an incredibly intelligent detective, he takes Onboard Computer (-1 Strength, but sets his Intelligence to 11, making him as smart as Zhuge Liang) though the discount cyberbrain he's got came with a full noir personality suite and every movie Humphrey Bogart ever acted in, as if they were his own memories. He also take Sensory Upgrade, for 11 Perception but -1 Will. And Body Armor for Tgh 13 (!) but -3 Movement. Finally, he takes an Adrenal Enhancement for 11 Speed, but -2 Intelligence; but since Onboard Computer sets his Intelligence to 11, the penalty is negated. That's part of how Hardware Schticks work. Finally, for Gun Schticks, he takes a Signature Weapon: A trust Colt .45 that never leaves his side. He's a brilliant detective, a genius with machines, and astonishingly fast on the draw. And he can get the poo poo beaten out of him and keep coming even better than the Big Bruiser, while not generally sucking like they do. You can't keep this gumshoe down.

Next Time: On To Power Sets

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:18 on Jun 7, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I admit I chickened out of the private eye ape because I couldn't think of an appropriate ape pun or find my copy of Gorilla Warfare. I am sorry. I have failed at Jammers.

The hard-bitten private eye cyber-monkey is still a totally viable character type, though.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

I admit I chickened out of the private eye ape because I couldn't think of an appropriate ape pun or find my copy of Gorilla Warfare. I am sorry. I have failed at Jammers.

The hard-bitten private eye cyber-monkey is still a totally viable character type, though.

The pun is important - cyber-apes get actual buffs for having a pun name.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

The pun is important - cyber-apes get actual buffs for having a pun name.

They lose 1 EXP a session until they change their name to an ape-pun.

I cheated a little with refluffing as much as I did, but at the same time...part of the point is that this is a game that encourages you to refluff anyway. Want your supernatural creature to be a superscience abomination? No problem, just make sure it still works the same way in the rules. Want your Three Kingdoms era insufferable strategist to use the same rules as the hyper genius future kids? Easy. If I was rebuilding Volkov to not suck and could find my copy of Gorilla Warfare (I know it's around somewhere) Cyborgs were later retconned to be able to take non-Arcanowave Cybernetics instead, which are crazy powerful for them. We're talking stuff like 'set stats to superhuman levels' or 'implant minigun or missile launcher or chainsword'.

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


Night10194 posted:

I admit I chickened out of the private eye ape because I couldn't think of an appropriate ape pun or find my copy of Gorilla Warfare. I am sorry. I have failed at Jammers.

The hard-bitten private eye cyber-monkey is still a totally viable character type, though.

Hominid on a homicide case?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Gun Jam posted:

Hominid on a homicide case?

Hominid Case! Damnit, it was right there!

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Night10194 posted:

Hominid Case! Damnit, it was right there!

I think you know what you have to do.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

I think you know what you have to do.

I have edited him in.

E: Those 5 are really a pretty good example of a typical Feng Shui party.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:22 on Jun 7, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




No Feng Shui party is complete without a guy whose only superpowers are a handgun and a neckline that goes down to his navel.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

No Feng Shui party is complete without a guy whose only superpowers are a handgun and a neckline that goes down to his navel.



That is one of the other advantages of FS that's sort of hard to quantify; there are balance discrepancies, but they aren't based on character concept at all. Dude with a handgun who is super good with it and kind of buff and has no superpowers? Actually a really loving strong build. No-one is super-er entirely because they put 'I got wizbiz' on their sheet or 'I got devil powers'. Completely mundane dude with gun can hang with future demon and wizard just fine, because the game actually recognizes 'completely mundane dude with gun' as a superpower in this context and genre.

It's like the opposite of d20 games getting sudden hard-ons for 'realism' limiting what a fighter can do while handing out more powers to the wizard every book.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




I think "completely mundane dude with gun" is one of the methods of getting the highest combat skill you can get out of chargen, too.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





CHARACTER CREATION PART ONE: Initial Type Generation and Stat Generation

Or

God drat, I’ve Been So Spoiled by WFRP


Character creation is a sixteen-step process. Some of these steps are substantially faster than others. This is because A: some steps are just plain shorter than others and B: this book is structured…weirdly. You generate your character type, your stats, your caste, your height and weight and then some further details before there’s ever an explanation for what the different types of humanoids there are.

Step One: Type Selection



In short, there are eight different breeds of PC you can come up with: Pure Stock Humans, Clones, Bioreplicas, Trans-Humans, Cyborgs, Bestial Humans, Ghost Mutants and Mutants. As you can see some of those are broken down into subsections, and this doesn’t include the fact that there are thirty-three species of Bestial Humanoids you can have. Some of these are pretty self-explanatory for now, so we’ll do a deeper rundown later when we talk deep “species” lore. For now, here’s what you need to know:
  • Pure Stock Humans are completely genetically baseline humans. The game really wants you to play as them if you’re a new player because, well, they have some D&D-style advantages and some setting privileges. Pure Stocks can more or less go anywhere but the most human-exclusionist areas.
  • Clones are clones. They’re designed for a certain purpose and generally going to work for that purpose. They’re broken into three subsections because clones have their own stat generation baselines.
  • Bioreplicas are riffs on Blade Runner Replicants. They were built to be humanity’s slaves. They’re not super happy about that. Like Clones, they have their own stat generation baselines.
  • Trans-Humans are gengineered superhumans, Gattaca-style. Designer babies with their genetic code scrubbed clean of impurities, they’re designed to be mankind’s inheritors, a controlled evolutionary step. Trans-Humans get some pretty nice benefits.
  • Cyborgs can more or less be anyone but they tend to be either Clones, Bioreplicants, Ghost Mutants or Pure Stocks because Mutants and Bestial Humanoids tend to lack the resources to make them. That doesn’t mean Mutants or Bestial Humanoids can’t be them, hint hint. Cyborgs are the result of someone needing heavy mechanical enhancements wired into their nervous system to replace damaged tissue.
  • Bestial Humanoids are more or less manimals. A century after the collapse, radiation has played merry hell on the DNA of local wildlife and also animals that were gengineered. They firmly straddle the line between bipedal and quadrupedal, enhanced with natural gifts and instincts but also a cunning human intelligence. Bestial Humanoids also have their own stat lines.
  • Ghost Mutants are what a lot of Mutants envy and Pure Stocks fear. Ghost Mutants have entirely latent or invisible mutations that let them fly under the radar, passing for Pure Stock but still possessing weird powers that have substantially less drawbacks. They’re lacking the sheer versatility you can get from mutation, but they’re still powerful.
  • Mutants are, well, outwardly mutated individuals possessing wack-rear end radiation-as-magic powers. The more mutations you have, the more it shows and the more you risk having some absolutely devastating downsides.


We’ve rolled a 41 (https://orokos.com/roll/732322), which is a pretty lucky selection for a beginner character: Trans-Human! Please welcome Helena Nothru of the Pure Stock enclave of Nothru. She’ll be our generation sample for this entire exercise. I like the idea of there being a matrix by which you can get random characters depending on play level. It’s explicitly said you should stick with lightly mutated or pure characters to get people used to the system and flow before the heavy details come. They do, admittedly, streamline some of the process because while it's the Mutants and Cyborgs and Bestial Humans who have a lot of extra cruft, everyone inherently has some cruft in this design process.

That said, here come the heavy details: traits.


There is just a general dearth of shirts for ladies. Guys too, but the absence of shirts still having the presence of bras just makes it stand out that much more. And it really doesn't matter how mutated they are; if one is possessed of bosom, they shall always be supple, pert, perky and pretty clearly on display in some form.

Step Two: Traits

Eight traits. Let’s see what we got. You can tell exactly when I realized I was going to have fun with this game: Endurance (Con/Str), Strength (Str/Con), Agility (Dex), Accuracy (for aiming and hitting), Intelligence (Int), Perception (the skill but as a stat), Willpower (defends against mutations, willpower) aaaaaaaaand Appearance (“physical looks based on human standards…One’s ugliness or attractiveness is often a factor when encountering beings with human ancestry”). Yeaahhhhh buddy it’s that kind of game! But, important question: how do you generate these stats (for anyone not a Clone, Bioreplicant or Bestial Humanoid)?

Oh I’m so glad you asked.
  • Standard: 8d100, don’t add them. Place them in order. Yeah. Yeahhhhhh. It’s this kind of game.
  • Nine rolls: 8d100, don’t add them and roll an extra 1d100. The ninth roll can sub in for any one of the weak rolls if you want. Works for the Clones, Bioreplicas and Bestial Humanoids because they do still have roll ranges but you’re fixing something that you can still roll for.
  • Shuffle: 8d100, don’t add, place them wherever you want.
  • Value Trade: Standard character generation but you can choose to lower good traits on a 2:1 basis. -2 AGI, +1 END, etc.
  • Heroic Proportions: intended for generating characters for solo play. Combine the Nine Rolls system, Shuffle system, Value Trade and add +10 to the final result of each trait.
  • Point Buy: get a pool of 200 points. You can buy points up to 44 on a 1:1 basis, 45-74 on a 2:1 basis and 75+ on a 3:1 basis. Enforce minimum scores as needed or just give the players more points to play with, you figure it out, watch the kids, I need a nap.
So it seems kind of weird for each roll to be a flat d100 for a trait, right? Yeah. Yeah it is. That’s because you take the number you roll and then cross-reference it on another chart to get the actual trait. So. Because we’re keeping in the spirit of the game, we’re doing the purist mode and Ms. Helena will have 8d100: 5, 52, 69, 33, 77, 55, 63, 30 (https://orokos.com/roll/732337). How does that shake out? Well.


So 70% of this chart is all about enforcing 40 as the general starting maximum of a trait before Further Shenanigans. That’s fine. I understand that. That’s familiar to me. It’s the tail end of that 30% that perhaps seems a bit unnecessary to have these divides and limits to begin with. It’s okay that roughly half of the chart is just “you’ll have a stat between 20 and 40” but I have to feel like there’s a better way to go about that…because the Clones, Bioreplicants and Bestial Humanoids absolutely enforce that. Warhammer-style “minimum you add a number to” rolling for the traits. It feels like it’s too random for its own good because, well, here’s Miss Gengineered Transhuman with her 14 Endurance (for now, mind). The swing is real.

And then you cross-reference the derived basic traits with another chart.



We’re not gonna do that just yet because Helena has much more coming that will just keep changing NEXT TIME when we take a look at the caste systems! Can you be a slave? Absolutely! Can you be a prostitute? You bet your rear end! Do a lot of options come with some kind of mechanically enforced downside? BOY HOWDY!

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 21:48 on Jun 7, 2019

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Boy howdy that's a real chart infestation ya got there.

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