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Stephenls
Feb 21, 2013
[REDACTED]


Night10194 posted:

I think you might be mistaking a more common thing where scholars/believers often don't believe the Gospels are intended as historical documents (but rather rhetorical/theological ones) because Gospel as a genre was about evangelizing and spreading the story, and because they have discrepancies between them (and with things known of history from other sources), for people not believing there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Sorry, I should have said "not real as such," rather than "not real."

(High level Immaculate doctrine doesn't say the Immaculate Dragons never existed, it says the current stories about each Immaculate Dragon are conflations of the deeds of many Shogunate-era Immaculate saints and war heroes -- but one of the guys who's deeds were conflated into the current version of Sextes Jylis was a dude named Sextes Jylis. That guy was real.)

Stephenls fucked around with this message at 18:26 on Jun 9, 2019

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I suspected as much but wanted to be clear. The whole 'no evidence for Jesus a person' existing thing always gets me a bit, because we actually have quite a bit of evidence that there was a guy named Jesus who was probably a preacher in early-mid-century Judea who was probably killed by the Roman state. The part with no historical evidence is 'was actually the son of God and the Messiah'.

Stephenls
Feb 21, 2013
[REDACTED]


Night10194 posted:

I suspected as much but wanted to be clear. The whole 'no evidence for Jesus a person' existing thing always gets me a bit, because we actually have quite a bit of evidence that there was a guy named Jesus who was probably a preacher in early-mid-century Judea who was probably killed by the Roman state. The part with no historical evidence is 'was actually the son of God and the Messiah'.

Yeah, that's fair. Apologies for my sloppy word choice on a delicate topic. Gonna edit my reply to you into the original post just to forestall further misunderstanding.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Dawgstar posted:

And what makes it really a shame is the Big Bruiser should absolutely be the person who can pick up a thug by the ankle and whip him into a group of his friends and lay them out.

This is what I did with my genefreak in 2e version, especially since I hosed up the math in converting so I made her 6'9" instead of 6'0" so I'm "Welp, might as well take advantage of this.". The group called it the man-flail.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One of the wonderful but also frustrating things in 1e is that any character can learn any power set in play (Except Transformed Animal stuff, but that's really just refluffed Kung Fu anyway, attached to the most awkward PC type; we'll get to them), there's just basically no mechanical reason to do it no matter how flavorful it might be. There's often little reason to use multiple powersets to begin with, even if your class is good at more than one, outside of maybe Creature Powers/Martial Arts since a lot of CP calls for MA tests.

It's a shame precisely because Zhuge Liang learning the magic of the AK-47 is the kind of thing that potentially leads to Guan Yu with a Minigun, which should be a goal in all fiction, but he has no mechanical reason to bother learning guns.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:53 on Jun 9, 2019

Tibalt
May 14, 2017


Seems like the easier fix would be to not give every mook a hidden +5 to defense?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The FS Gun Character is basically exactly what I wish a D&D Fighter was: Something that completely acknowledges that in this genre, the 'mundane' warrior who is getting by on grit and weapons and tools is just as fantastical as the wizard and plays them accordingly.

E: To elaborate: One of the legitimately brilliant parts of Feng Shui is being written by people who get that Batman's 'he's the best human ever and he's so clever and able' is as much as a fantastical element as Superman's being an alien demigod, and thus you can have them hang out and both do stuff together without worrying about 'power levels' simply because of the theming of their abilities.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 19:14 on Jun 9, 2019

Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010


I had fun with our Feng Shui campaign but jesus there's only so many ways to describe "I shoot him with my Franchi" before you get bored. If nothing else buying abomination powers was something to do.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




So is there any other game that does Feng Shui better than Feng Shui or FS2?

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Night10194 posted:

The FS Gun Character is basically exactly what I wish a D&D Fighter was: Something that completely acknowledges that in this genre, the 'mundane' warrior who is getting by on grit and weapons and tools is just as fantastical as the wizard and plays them accordingly.

E: To elaborate: One of the legitimately brilliant parts of Feng Shui is being written by people who get that Batman's 'he's the best human ever and he's so clever and able' is as much as a fantastical element as Superman's being an alien demigod, and thus you can have them hang out and both do stuff together without worrying about 'power levels' simply because of the theming of their abilities.
4e did that. Then 5e happened

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





hyphz posted:

So is there any other game that does Feng Shui better than Feng Shui or FS2?

That's a good question. I've never delved too deep into Fight! which I do hear good things about.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



You've mentioned that dual guns is mechanically unfavourable. I can laugh maniacally while firing twin ak47s and say that's fluff for a single gun right?

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Stephenls posted:

Sorry, I should have said "not real as such," rather than "not real."

(High level Immaculate doctrine doesn't say the Immaculate Dragons never existed, it says the current stories about each Immaculate Dragon are conflations of the deeds of many Shogunate-era Immaculate saints and war heroes -- but one of the guys who's deeds were conflated into the current version of Sextes Jylis was a dude named Sextes Jylis. That guy was real.)

Ah, that's what really confused me about it. It doesn't really come off clearly in the text, perhaps mention that to your co-workers since this isn't a final release?

Anyway


The Realm: Chapter 5 - The Blessed Isle



Ah, the Blessed Isle. It's big, it's prosperous, it's got loads of First Age ruins that have wonders and horrors alike in them, and it's the focus of this chapter. I went back to skim through 2e's Compass of Celestial Directions: The Blessed Isle to get a feel for how it did the Isle and it's, well, not very good. Most provinces are described as "good farmland, quiet people", with few exceptions, and cities are described solely in terms of population, governor, and so on. It is oddly static for a country that's about to come to blows, and combining that with its dullness, one can see why no one bothered to play on the Blessed Isle in 2e. It's quite better here, simply because there are so many points of tension that one could easily see war causing, and just interesting places that spark the imagination and gives GMs and players places to adventure. The way this chapter is structured, we'll start on the Imperial Mountain (or, well, a prefecture on the Imperial Mountain), and then radiate roughly clockwise from it until we end at Lord's Crossing Dominion.

We begin with Endless Prefecture, which is the highest elevation prefecture in existence, winding its way up the Imperial Mountain; note that no prefecture encompasses the heights of the Imperial Mountain, since there's no one to tax, duh. Endless is inhabited solely by Immaculate monks, who live in the various temples and monasteries on the Spine of the Amaranthine Dragon, a road leading along the Mountain's eastern face. Pilgrims come here to worship, but there is a steady business of archaeologists and historians who make their way up the path to investigate and loot the various ruins on the Imperial Mountain, and boy are there a lot of the drat things. Indeed, there are rumors of a destroyed city atop the very heights of the Imperial Mountain (actually a real place called Meru, which used to the capitol city of the old Solar regime), but no one has ever made their way to it and returned, for there are tons of manses broken by the Usurpation churning out various things-that-should-not-be, along with very cranky Earth and Air Elementals inhabiting the place who sorely want to be left alone. A curious manse named the House of Grey Wings near the Spine has remained untouched, since it vanishes the second a large party nears it and spews forth unshaped abominations that greatly test the Immaculate monks who have to kill them lest they wander in the rocky wilds and forests of the Mountain and eat a peasant or something.

The many caverns and cave systems of the Mountain are an ideal place for ghosts to live, seeing as they're far away from the evil rulers and beasts of the Underworld, as well as the scourging light of the Sun and Immaculate monks who get very pissed off when someone remains as a ghost instead of reincarnating. The biggest tunnel network is called Pasiap's Shadow, and there the dead murmur and bicker with each other about philosophy (might as well, if you're in Limbo) in what seems like an infinite array of tunnels and shafts. The living come here solely to question or bind the ghosts there to their will. The prefecture is controlled by House Mnemon, who controls who gets to enter and manages the many temples and roads here. All in all, I couldn't see this place being used as the primary theater for a campaign, but it's definitely a good place for a big quest for knowledge, such as, "The way to enter the Imperial Manse can only be found in dead Meru!", or something along that vein.

Dejis Prefecture exists in the foothills and mountains northeast of the Imperial Mountain. This is Mnemon's home territory, if you couldn't tell by its biggest city being named Mnemon-Darjilis. Since it is Mnemon land, it is filled to the brim with the world famous Mnemon architecture; this place is coated with beautiful temples carved into the sides of the mountains themselves (pilgrims paying taxes and money to travel to them is a nice bonus), mighty manses created by careful manipulation and reinforcement of formerly weak dragon lines, aqueducts, roads, and more. The land is used more for mining (jade, iron, gems, and marble are the big ones), with farmers mostly being goatherds or peasants assigned to valleys made prosperous by manses aligned with the element of Wood; still, Dejis needs to import food from other prefectures to meet its needs. People in Dejis tend to more cosmopolitan than you think hardy mountain folk would be, since architectural crews travel all over the Isle and pick up culture from the other lands.

Mnemon-Darjilis is built on top of old First Age ruins, and has been made splendid by centuries of work by House Mnemon. Mnemon and her household live in the House of Marmoreal Glory, a pyramid at the city's geomantic center. Also of note is the Azure Morning Pinnacle, where Mnemon sorcerers work together on projects asked of them by the House. Many universities dedicate themselves to architecture, surveying, engineering, prospecting and more. The Immaculate Order, of course, has hundreds of temples in the city and the headquarters for the Breath of Pasiap resides here. In the chaos of recent years, many of House Mnemon's enemies take advantage of Mnemon herself being stuck fighting Anathema in Jiara, seeking to gain footing in the city and Dejis at large. If you want a place where the Immaculate Order really matters in local politics and to either fend off House Mnemon's rivals or be a thorn in the side of Mnemon, here's where you'd put a campaign. It's a little one note in some regards, but it's certainly a pretty backdrop.


I swear there's like a billion pics where it's big Dragon-bloods looming large over peasants in this exact same pose in this book and it kills me every time.

Chanos Prefecture is cooled by its proximity to the North; winters are longer here than anywhere else on the Isle, and summers are very mild. To the north is the Heptagram, which gives a spooky air to the region since sorcerers are considered really creepy by the Realm's populace. The terrain is rocky and the soil too poor for farming; thus, much like Dejis, Chanos prefers to stick to mining to make its income. The coast is rocky and boulder-like, and the waterways are too dangerous for anything but massive barges meant to transport ore to and from Chanos city. The people of Chanos, who rather obviously don't like the outdoors that much, enjoy indoor diversions such as a game called Miner's Gambit, which comes off as Jenga but with rocky discs made of slag rather than blocks.

Chanos city is House Sesus' domain, claimed by political maneuvering done by Sesus herself centuries ago against House Chanos. It's not as firmly under the House's thumb as Sesus would like; the prefect is a man by the name of Ragara Nova (guess which House he's loyal to), and the Air Fleet of House Peleps quarters itself on the northern docks here much to the worry of the House's military. Smokehearth district to the west houses many refineries and smithies, while housing is to the south, terminating in the Sesus district of Emberswathe. The Palace of Burning Winds, a fortress-manse within Emberswathe, is rumored to be able to call down fire from the sky, but no one in living memory has ever saw that happen. There are a few temples here, mostly made to show off how rich Sesus is; the Lapis Pillar Temple (a tower coated with lapis lazuli, naturally) is one such example. The Hall of Excellence Untested is a well-regarded military school that lays in the hills to the east of Chanos, mostly used to train Sesus' own legions up to snuff. The prefect hangs out with governor Sesus Majali, feeding her false info and cracking Sesus coded missives while playing up male stereotypes to come off as a rich idiot. If this is discovered, Majali will probably beat him to death herself.

The city is naturally rainy, foggy, and cold, with cobbled roads and deep gutters to channel the rainwater out of the city (save in the poorest districts of Redrock and Ashen), and thick stone walls to keep the warmth inside its buildings. Cloaks and hoods are common, which makes thieves and spies very happy. Speaking of thieves, there's an infamous one called the Chanos Flicker, who in recent years has infuriated House Sesus and its allied patricians by robbing them blind and then disappearing into the fog. The book lists a few examples of what the Flicker can be, although it mentions that not all are definitive. Pekla, a peasant, is the most obvious choice, being a Night Caste Solar who Exalted through the sheer power of jealousy at Sesus' wealth and who now feeds her family with the spoils from her raids. Chanos Tsunbal is a Getimian, who seems to have resided in a parallel reality where House Chanos still existed as its richest mortal until that bug in reality was fixed and he was brought down to the current day, where Sesus upstarts have taken over his beloved city. He steals things as a way of getting what he deems his own stuff back and he's ignoring that whiny geek Rakan Thulio asking him to join his war on Heaven. The last is a Kill Six Billion Demons reference First Age construct by the name of Eleven Thunder God's-Razor-Destroys-the-Thief, created by a Solar from the Essence of spirits that fell afoul of the Solar regime to guard its creator's hidden underwater tomb. Nowadays, its programming has broken down and Eleven Thunder has begun to see all nearby artifacts as its creator's, "reclaiming" them and dumping them into the tomb.

The Isle of Voices hosts the Heptagram, one isle in a chain of others. It is impossible to find due to enchantments laid on it; vessels heading towards it carrying new students, food, or otherwise need to be carrying one faculty member in order for them to get past the defenses, or else everything goes haywire; maps begin to blank themselves, compasses spin like tops, navigators start to find their minds growing fuzzy, and if they somehow get to the Isle of Voices despite that, harsh winds will either blow the ship into the rocks or delay it long enough for guardian demons and sorcerous beasts to clamber aboard and eat everyone on board. The Heptagram is so named for it being a collection of seven towers placed atop the Isle's crags, with only one road leading to it. Magic is omnipresent here, much to the displeasure of non-sorcerers. Ragara Bhagwei is the headmaster here, and no one is sure if he'll join in the civil war or keep his interests purely academic. Outside the Heptagram is perilous terrain, such as the Caves of Qana, in which one must answer riddles from its elementals or be slain, or the haunted ruins of the Versino, which used to fill the same function the Heptagram did until demons destroyed it in a catastrophic accident.

I really like Chanos Prefecture! There's a lot to do here, whether it be setting a campaign filled with intrigue of House Sesus versus House Ragara versus House Peleps, and I like the description of the city more since it actually goes into what districts and specific locales there are, unlike Mnemon-Darjilis. The Heptagram is also very neat, but is more of a useful backstory element than an area to play in, unless you're doing a game with Essence 1 Dragon-blooded kids going to school there.

Pangu Prefecture is ruled by House Cynis. It is one of the most prosperous regions for farming in the world, producing truly ludicrous amounts of grain, cattle, pigs, fruits, vegetables, and so much more. The Imperial Treasury used to buy much of the grain to supply the legions, but now House Cynis uses its control of the legion's larders as a bludgeon. The land is beautiful, thanks to both Cynis' eye for aesthetics and Cynis' hordes of slave laborers. Slaves are transported to Konjin by the Guild and other suppliers, then marched to a massive slave camp overseen by the manse, Dreams-in-Amber, for breaking and training. The manse houses the First House of Equitable Prosperity, where visiting Cynis scions relax in overwhelming splendor that serves to cow visiting Guild princes with just how much wealth the House has.

Pangu city is the only port where the Guild may enter the Realm, and thus, it's pretty busy and very rich. It's a melting pot of Realm and Threshold culture, the old city eaten up by new construction. Cynis scions compete with each other to support the trendiest fashions and construction themes, which has made the city beautiful but dizzying to look at. Parties and festivals are hosted here all year, where the House collects useful blackmail on those wealthy people who are lulled into debuachery there, and where rival Houses attempt to steal said blackmail for themselves. There are many islands, artificial or otherwise, along the river and many markets are constructed upon them. The largest is Turtle Island, which the Heaven Fragrance Market stands on. The Heaven Fragrance Market is a huge and sprawling bazaar for selling various medicines imported from all over the world or made by Cynis doctors. There's also less medicinal drugs, the hardest of which such as heroin, cocaine, and bright morning can only be purchased with jade scrip. Shogunate era medical texts, when found and sold on the market, ignite a frenzy of bids. Pangu also has a large criminal element, since Cynis likes to sell its surplus of hard drugs out to gangs in exchange for the gangs not interrupting their own business or doing anything insane like working with Anathema.

Pangu seems more like a place that a magistrate would visit to find some utterly corrupt motherfuckers, a Solar would lead a slave rebellion of truly epic proportions, or where a rival House's legion would put its boot up their rear end for withholding food rather than a place you'd want to campaign in for a long time. The region is mostly placid otherwise, serving as an interesting place to set a plot about a party or a place to buy stuff with your immense wealth, and nothing much else.


Feels like some of this art really fails to sell me the line; this is indistinguishable from any other generic depiction of an Asian city I've seen. Boy, do I wish Onyx Path had the budget that FFG has.

Numinous Rolling Wave Dominion follows the dragon lines leading on down from the Imperial Mountain along the Imperial River and all the way to the Realm Defense Grid, giving the land an invisible aura of power from the concentration of that much Essence in one place.. As such, construction is heavily controlled for fear of inauspicious construction loving up the dragon lines; if someone does something stupid like make a stable outside of where the blueprints demand they be, the punishment is dispossesion for their entire village. The farms here are supernaturally fertile, and Immaculates come here as itinerants to meditate on the area's majesty (and beat up heretics). Outcastes retired from the legions oversee many a village, and traditionally the prefect is also an outcaste. The Deliberative is hesitant to change tradition here, but Mnemon, Sesus, and Ragara are all very eager to open up the dominion to outside construction and rule.

The Valley of the Ancients lies off the Imperial River valley, created by the Solars of old to house their palatial tombs, dozens of which crest the hills and slopes of the Valley. Each is filled with enough loot that makes the Houses salivate at the idea of breaching them and geomantically aligned in ways Dragon-blooded could only dream of, a prospect now more likely now that the Empress isn't around to say, "No, you idiot, you'll disrupt the dragon lines and gently caress up my death laser!" The Valley is settled by heroes of the Realm, allowed to live there by Imperial decree and to bring with them patrician and peasant servants. Construction, as always, must be careful not to infringe upon the dragon lines; it is supervised by the August Council for the Maintenance of the Valley, a ministry that each resident is a part of. Yes, it's a homeowner's association, which means it's filled with insane assholes who bicker with each other about how high the grass should be and how wide a road should be. Yet again, the Empress has somehow tricked her cunning and intelligent Dragon-blooded rivals into a trap by rewarding them with something that actually obviously sucks, but this time it's funny as gently caress.

The tombs are such alluring prizes, but being made by Solars who were hopped up on that Great Curse juice, are filled with insane deathtraps and curse. Many Dynasts have skirted the law and have broken into the tombs, with House Ragara's Ash Seekers being the most successful, having cracked five tombs in the past two centuries and filtered the loot through a network of smugglers and falsified bureaucratic documents. The Guardians of Hallowed Antiquity, a corps of Immaculate exorcists and priests, serve to make sure none of the restless (and ludicrously powerful) Solar ghosts or the ghosts of their buried retainers escape to bother the living and manage the Festival of Remembrance, an annual celebration on the last day of the year before Calibration, in which the inhabitants of the Valley are mandated to propitiate the dead in the Valley. Worshiping a Solar, even a dead one, any other day of the year would be considered hideously heretical, but since this keeps the ghosts from venturing forth and eating everyone in the Valley, it's allowed. I feel like the Empress yet again tricking her potential rivals with something incredibly dumb is annoying and I never much liked tomb raiding in Exalted save for a one-off event to get something important to the plot, so this has been the low point so far.

Next time: I got like 20 more of these drat places to go, and that's skipping some of the sidebars that list places with only one neat thing to them

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Lone Badger posted:

You've mentioned that dual guns is mechanically unfavourable. I can laugh maniacally while firing twin ak47s and say that's fluff for a single gun right?

I would certainly say yes.

The issue with dual guns is primarily that the actual Dual Guns schtick sucks (Since it gives a -2 to hit and if their Toughness is high, might actually lower your damage). Mechanically, carrying and firing two pistols or machine pistols one at a time just doubles your magazine and often it's better to have a ton of guns and throw guns away as they run dry instead of spending lots of shots reloading, just as long as you don't try to actually use the Both Guns Blazing Schtick. Much faster to pull out new guns or fire two at once generally.

I think every character in FS is ambidextrous. It's actually possible for Mako to, using the stuff in the Golden Comeback (Big Player's Option book) and a little EXP, potentially fire dual giant future heavy machine guns with her tentacles. She's just useless with guns. An Abomination could pull it off easily, and it's actually a good idea for them.

Also while most of the Future Guns are just modern guns that jam more and are really blocky and made of plastic, the future does have some cool guns: The Buro Godhammer and the Buro Hellharrower. The Hellharrower is a 9.76mm assault rifle designed for cyberdemons that does Damage 14 but takes an 11 Str to wield. The Godhammer is a fully automatic .50 AE machine pistol. Designed as a sidearm for stopping demons, for Monster Hunters. The 'lighter' Monster Hunter sidearm is still a heavy .357 magnum, because presumably they know the same thing Barry Burton knows: If you're shooting at genetic horrors, bring a magnum.

Alternately, the Hellharrower just sounds like something the Doom Marine would use.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 01:13 on Jun 10, 2019

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





"In the future God is dead and we have His hammer."

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Dawgstar posted:

"In the future God is dead and we have His hammer."

I love Buro. If you just rewrite a couple little fluff holes they're hilarious and I'm excited to get to talk about them in awhile.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Coalition Wars 5: Shadows of Evil, Part 8- "Roughly 3D4x100 visitors come to see the museum on any given week, even during the war."

Markeen Barony

Though not as hard-hit as Mizereen, the presence of Tolkeen mines and factories meant Markeen was singled out for Coalition offensives. Markeen City was the capital, and its complete destruction through undetailed means has driven Baron Varn Cromwell on a quest for vengeance. He leads demonic forces for Tolkeen because that's how eeevil vengeance has driven him!

But before we go any further, let's give a big hand to Varn, one of the only two barons we'll see in our review of five baronies! Congrats, Cromwell. Also, the Wolf Lord's real name was "Wallace Cromwell"; maybe they're related?

But the baron doesn't get a tenth of the time given over to random cybernetic-nabbing psychopaths just a few pages back, so we have to move on. We get some details on other towns, the populations of which of which were either evacuated, slaughtered, or captured and sent to Coalition Death Camps. Furthermore, the Coalition army driven North into the Xiticix Hivelands has Xiticix scouts swarming outward, expanding their borders temporarily- or so the locals hope.

Lastly, the Town of Solomon detailed in Rifts Coalition Wars 1: Sedition was eventually wiped out and the survivors sent to Death Camps. However, it's presumed the Coalition never found the Key of Solomon or the Orb of Solomon, so that door's left open. As far as the Coalition knows, the scheme to use the Orb was a failure "as far as they know".


No War Orphan O.C.C.? Such restraint.

Wildwoods Barony

Mostly just Tolkeen's frontier region, we get some details on New Wilmar, the largest city in the Barony. Best known for its pre-Rifts collection of artifacts at their Museum of Antiquities, the Coalition is looking to capture it rather than destroy it- which is what's kept them safe so far. They rely mainly on wizards and Iron Juggernauts for defense, and the Baroness Carol Marshall has refused to work with demons or monsters.

Another hand for Baroness Carol Marshall! Not more than a name, of course. We ran out of space while describing all the local bandits and sadists.

Wildwoods is also known for its faerie population. However, their biggest issue has been refugees, as well as bandits and con men looking to rob and exploit them. Many are seeking to find new homes, much to the chagrin of locals, and theft of food and ravaged farmland is common. While Cyber-Knights are trying to keep the peace, there just aren't enough of them.


"I'm not Coalition, I just- I wanted a prosthetic skull on my real skull, okay?

Tolkeen Barony

Finally, Tolkeen gets a writeup. Finally!

Rifts Coalition Wars 5: Shadows of Evil posted:

The heart of this kingdom of magic is Tolkeen. A city of diverse people, technology and magic. A city that braces for a possible final siege by the Coalition Army. With any luck, the CS has had enough, and will return (if it returns at all) only to rattle its saber, make threats and back off. If they should test the Tolkeen defense force along the Mississippi they will be met with intense opposition and (should) retreat to avoid another Sorcerers' Revenge. At least, that is the plan. The CS can ill afford another crushing defeat like that. Everyone knows it, from kings to peasants. That is why so many assume the war is, indeed, over.

Tolkeen is far from defeated, and even with the mass attrition it has suffered since its great victory against the CS Invasion Force, it still commands the (arguably) third most powerful standing army on the continent after the Coalition States and Free Quebec (the alien Xiticix don't count). Moreover, Tolkeen still has a few surprises up its sleeve. Find out what in the 200+ page conclusion of Coalition Wars™, Chapter Six: Final Siege.

what

that is the text

why

why the gently caress

what

we know all this just tell us about the loving core location of the event



"But I'm not Scottish!" "Just stick to the trail, Scotty."

Wisconsin

Though most of this is home to "trappers, woodsmen, small bands of Indians and Psi-Stalkers", farms, homesteads, some of the Barrens spill over into this state. Furthermore, Tolkeen "monster squads" keep an eye out here, much to the chagrin of locals, there are rumors the Daemonix are planning to make this their new homeland. As a result, some Psi-Stalkers and Native Americans have begun to skirmish with them. Furthermore, the expansion of Xiticix borders in the North has presented a growing threat to a region.

Next: The Coalition Strikes Back.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It's nice to know nothing came of The Orb.

Wouldn't want anything interesting to happen in this war. You really weren't kidding about what a foregone conclusion this fluff treats the whole thing as. This is the most non-interactive big fluff event I've seen in a long time.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Goblinville Gazette #1 3/x



Welcome back to Goblinville ! We're done with the main rules. There are still the character creation, town, and GM chapters to get through.

Part One

Part two

I'm going to pull the rules for Grim Favor forward to the start of this installment and send Wilderness Travel to the back of the line. Grim Favor helps sets the tone for the whole game. Grim Favor is about how the Goblin Master resolves any uncertainty they have. If they're uncertain about which goblin something affects first or most, they look at the marching order. If they find themselves wondering "how favorable is this situation", then they look to Grim Favor, which is simply a d6 roll. Since the first session rules include setting aside a "weird" d6 as the Sorcery die, I'm going to suggest the GM set aside their Grim favor die at the start of the campaign. They can play with it during play as a sort of low-level existential threat to the goblins.

Resolving Grim Favor, on a 6 it's a "particularly favorable" situation, on a 3-5 the situation is indifferent, and on a 1-2 it's "particularly unfavorable". The 2:1 ratio between good and bad outcomes says a lot about what kind of play style the designers intended for Goblinville: good, old-fashioned, resource tracking, antagonistic GM play. I'm kind of surprised that there isn't a wandering monster table in here. Maybe in the next volume.

Death. This will probably come up a lot. This section paragraph covers goblin funerary rituals. Everyone says a few words and then loots one item off your body, everything else is left behind.

End of Session. At the end of the session every player decides if their goblin's outlook developed and if they achieved their goal. This involves the goblin telling their (brief) story about the adventure they just had. The rest of the group listens and comes up with a 1-4 word title. If all three of a goblin's title slots are filled, they advance. A goblin can also remove a trait, after which the group assigns them a new one. Taking the new one isn't completely mandatory, but it's advised that the goblin have a chance to help develop the new trait they're getting.



Advancement. This is tied to titles, if a goblin gains another title and already has all three filled in, they advance. After one advance they are a veteran and can recruit hirelings. After their second advance the goblin is now a boss, and roll Being a boss when in town instead of Going to work. Three advances makes the goblin a big boss; that's like a boss but they no longer pay for room and board, and can open a new location in town just by paying 40 scratch instead of having to play out finding a doctor and convincing her to hang out her shingle in your town. On their fourth advance, the goblin retires to a life of luxury and the player starts a new character.

Town. There is a basically placeholder paragraph here about stuff you can do in town, like buy stuff and work their jobs. In-town stuff gets a chapter later on.

Hirelings. Veteran goblins can hire other goblins to carry stuff and take risks on a journey. There's a die roll for telling a hireling to do something beyond being a porter or risking harm. They get paid 8 scratch up front, and 2 more when you return to town.

Overland travel
. One of the longest sections of the rulebook, weighing at one whole page. These rules aren't set up for wandering around exploring stuff. The whole map is scary wilderness as far as your goblins are concerned. They will need a lead on an unexplored hex to even begin planning a trip. Hexes become explored when the goblins go there on purpose, just passing through doesn't count.

Once they have somewhere to go they will need to prepare. Supplies, mounts, and a map (bought or made) all improve their positioning for the trip. Compare the number of positive factors to the length of the trip to determine the group's position. On a one-day trip any one factor gives them good position, a whole week to the edge of the map and they need all three not to be in a bad position. A week is the limit for a single travel roll. Bad weather reduces their positioning, make a Grim Favor roll.

As usual, the goblin taking the lead makes the roll, or the first in marching order if no one seems to be taking charge. Success or progress get them so far depending on their position. There is a handy chart to suggest travel Dangers. Twists are possible but might derail the trip into an unplanned encounter and require starting a new journey from halfway out in the wilderness.

And that's the Playing the Game chapter. Next up is Characters, then Town, and finally the GM section.

mllaneza fucked around with this message at 04:48 on Jun 10, 2019

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Night10194 posted:

I love Buro. If you just rewrite a couple little fluff holes they're hilarious and I'm excited to get to talk about them in awhile.

The Buro is like every possible right-wing paranoia fever dream blended in a vat and dosed with arcanowave mutagens.

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!


You know, it's funny, but it feels like this is the first time I've actually had an impression there was anything to do on the Blessed Isle other than ~politics~.

It gives such an impression in pretty much all the other fluff of just being such a done place, of having been settled for so long by so many Exalts that anything bad has been beaten into the dirt and is no longer an issue(except for the bad things that the Exalts themselves do) and that there's such an overwhelming force of Dragonbloods around that anything that's actually an issue would be dealt iwth rapidly.

I think part of the problem also comes with a feeling that the Exalted world maps have always been pretty bad, to me, at least, of implying their actual size. Supposedly Creation is a couple of Earths' worth of area, but in my brain the bounded map more or less always translates itself to "eh, this is Europe-sized," which sure as hell makes a big difference in terms of how large and populated the Blessed Isle is. On the other hand, the Blessed Isle having so many unresolved issues also kind of punches holes in how believable they are as able to project force beyond the Isle and send out Wyld Hunts that are an actual threat. Wanting the Blessed Isle to both be a large and comparatively centralized state but also wanting it to be full of dangerous wilds and unresolved dangers feels a bit like wanting to have their cake and eat it, too.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People cont'd

I think I'm going to do two in one batch this time. It's not that these two are boring, but they're very easy to summarize quickly.

Orren
The hippie commune otter folk



The orren are the most changeable of the prime species; both in terms of psyche and physically. They have natural shapeshifting abilities; on land they're your average furry, in water they shrink and shapeshift into actual otters. This is a semi-voluntary transformation; they can resist if they want to, but it's like holding back a sneeze. They can even adopt a mid-form, a swimming otter with proper hands for underwater work. It takes concentration, but not effort. They also get a bit of control over any magical transformations applied to them, transformation they want is easier, unwanted ones are harder.

Behaviorally, they tend to latch onto one thing they get super excited about for a few weeks, then they lose interest in it and move on to a new fascination. Their Steam backlogs are dire. When they get stressed, they tend to go into a wild rush, a frantic burst of energy where they act exceedingly quickly, but with complete lack of foresight.



Socially, Orren like to live in low-stress situations. Families tend to be poorly organized poly arrangements, where all the responsibilities of being a grownup can at least be distributed as thinly as possible. They're not particularly monogamous, especially in the long term; no Orren really holds a grudge when the passion in a relationship fades and one or the other wanders off for something new. That's another reason for the larger families; more stability for the family as a whole, even though individuals come and go.

In a mostly Orren village, up to half the population doesn't do much besides laze around, go fishing, and play with the children, and the rest of the village doesn't mind. So long as the chores get done, who cares who does it? I have to admit that the Orren lifestyle has a lot going for it.

You tend to find the more motivated Orren in the cities, since the lazy ones will just go hang out in a village for a while. City Orren tend to balance their passions better; they'll juggle multiple interests to keep things fresh, rather than dropping things entirely. They're probably the healthiest species, psychologically, and they tend to do well in jobs where balance is valued. They make excellent judges and elected officials.




You can tell Orren are the emotionally healthy ones because they're the only species that doesn't buy in to the Zi Ri's bullshit.

Rassimel
The Raccoon folk



Rassimel are the polar opposites of Orren. They laser focus on one interest, and devote their entire lives to it. They make up the specialists and experts of the World Tree. A Rassimel devoted to, say, knowing every nuance of their city-state's legal code probably has a good career in their future. A Rassimel dedicated to collecting monster skulls is probably doomed to a life of adventuring.

Physically, they're the closest to a boring human of all the species. Other than being cute and fluffy, of course. They don't have any organs of flight, or transformation, or even sharp claws or fangs. Their primary advantage, and it's a big one, is that they learn and improve skills faster than anyone else. Other than that, all they have going for them is a moderate resistance to poison for some reason, and they're not bound by any circadian rhythm.



Moreso than any other prime species, Rassimel are almost entirely urban. Socially, they tend to prefer to hang around with other people that share their interests. Or maybe it's just that people that share their interests are the only people willing to spend any time talking to them. They're probably the most monogamous of the species; relationships tend to last many years, if not lifelong.



If you, presumably a human, wanted to make a World Tree character knowing nothing else about the setting, an Orren or Rassimel would be your easiest option. They're by the far the most relatable compared to the weirdo other species. "You get really excited about one subject and can't shut up about it" gosh that isn't something a goon could relate to.

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


PurpleXVI posted:

You know, it's funny, but it feels like this is the first time I've actually had an impression there was anything to do on the Blessed Isle other than ~politics~.

It gives such an impression in pretty much all the other fluff of just being such a done place, of having been settled for so long by so many Exalts that anything bad has been beaten into the dirt and is no longer an issue(except for the bad things that the Exalts themselves do) and that there's such an overwhelming force of Dragonbloods around that anything that's actually an issue would be dealt iwth rapidly.

I think part of the problem also comes with a feeling that the Exalted world maps have always been pretty bad, to me, at least, of implying their actual size. Supposedly Creation is a couple of Earths' worth of area, but in my brain the bounded map more or less always translates itself to "eh, this is Europe-sized," which sure as hell makes a big difference in terms of how large and populated the Blessed Isle is. On the other hand, the Blessed Isle having so many unresolved issues also kind of punches holes in how believable they are as able to project force beyond the Isle and send out Wyld Hunts that are an actual threat. Wanting the Blessed Isle to both be a large and comparatively centralized state but also wanting it to be full of dangerous wilds and unresolved dangers feels a bit like wanting to have their cake and eat it, too.

I think the impression the devs want to give is that the Blessed Isle was a solved problem and that all its dangerous wilds and unresolved dangers were contained if they could not be dealt with so that the Scarlet Realm could better focus its efforts outside its borders. Nowadays, a whole lot of things are becoming unraveled as the ministries run out of money, the Houses focus on watching each other to see who stabs the others in the back first, and the Immaculate Order steadily loses both of its guiding hands as the All-Seeing Eye has lost its commander and the Bronze Faction's attention is being dragged away to deal with a million problems popping up all at once. Her fancy toys will fall into the wrong hand, her commandments will be ignored as people dig into things that will probably wind up killing a hell of a lot of people, shadowlands will pop up in the aftermath of huge battles, and attention will be dragged away from the hundreds of Solar and Lunar Anathema building their empires and plotting revenge against the Realm for the many wrongs it has done to them all (to say nothing of the guys who want to plunge Creation into nothingness and who would be very delighted to take that Realm Defense Grid and keep firing it until everything is dead). 2e never gave that impression; shadowlands were metaphysically impossible to form on the Isle, any Shogunate or Solar Realm ruins were already claimed by researchers save for those too high on the Imperial Mountain to be easily reached, there's very little politicking at all in the write-ups for 2e's prefectures and lands, and the race for the throne was limited to two big name candidates (Mnemon and Tepet Ejava) rather than every House and outcaste looking out for number one. One figures from 2e's write-up that if war happened between the Houses (which generally only had one suggested cause, which was when someone decides to bump off the useless Regent), the Realm would largely recover so long as no enterprising Anathema or horrid Deathlord decided to kick it while it looked weak. Here, you can tell that civil war is going to make the Isle look a hell of a lot like the Threshold for a long time after its over, and that there's so many things that could set it off.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Two things: I laughed at the War Orphan OCC joke so I'm not a good person but I've accepted this. The second is WHY NOT JUST DO A TOLKEEN CITY BOOK.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Dawgstar posted:

Two things: I laughed at the War Orphan OCC joke so I'm not a good person but I've accepted this. The second is WHY NOT JUST DO A TOLKEEN CITY BOOK.

Because Kevin had already decided that the skullnazis were going to kill everyone in Tolkeen.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

The Critical Importance of Interior Decorating

So, while plotting the Kung Fu update I realized I need to go and talk about Feng Shui before I write about Kung Fu, because some of Martial Arts' issues stem from a setting conceit. It's a little out of order, but this is also a good place to talk about EXP and PC advancement a little, since it's wrapped up in the very serious business of interior design.

So the central conceit of Feng Shui is that Feng Shui works. Feng Shui works really well. Feng Shui works so well that it directs the course of history. 'Feng Shui Sites' are the main resource this crazy-rear end action hero time war gets fought over. People who properly attune to these sites will find themselves luckier, better, and generally more powerful than they ever were before. Entire conspiracies exist to get people more Chi flow from these Feng Shui Sites, as people fight across time to control the future of the planet via owning cool buildings (and natural features) with excellent interior decorating. Most people know nothing of Chi and just go about life, which is why most PCs start with 0 Chi.

In practice, Feng Shui Sites exist so you have a great excuse to have huge gunfights amidst cool architecture. Or so your heroes rescuing a little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant out of the goodness of their hearts is suddenly rewarded by discovering it's actually a font of good Chi (and that that's why the mob was really after it) to get them into the time war in the first place. Theoretically, the normal campaign structure of Feng Shui is your players running around trying to take Sites and shift things around so that they can change the fortunes of the planet for the better and gently caress over the tyrants and bad guys who are trying to use Chi domination to enforce their rule.

The issue comes in several places. One, playing territory control can get kind of dull. Sometimes, you just want to shoot a dozen guys, not worry about capturing the zone for points. Two, sites power PCs up. A lot. Mechanically, taking Sites is the most important thing you can do. Three, Chi Domination is played a little too straight for my tastes. As in, there's a bunch of fluff about how you can't stay in 2056 for very long because the pervasive Chi controlled by Buro will make you agree with them, or there are multiple places where the Ascended can just kinda...turn you off in 1996 because they run the world. Sure, the bad guys should be powerful, but sometimes the fluff on Chi Domination feels limiting. 'I'm invincible, I have too much MacGuffin for you to ever challenge me!' is usually the kind of thing a villain confidently proclaims a moment before they get kicked in the dick, is what I'm saying. So we always played it that Chi Domination is powerful, but never as powerful as the various time tyrants think it is; after all, if it was, why have past time tyrants gotten their poo poo kicked in?

The reason you want to capture sites comes in the EXP/Advancement rules. Normally, you get 0-6 EXP a session, and getting more than 3 should be 'an event'. Not much, when Hominid Case needs like 30 to buy more cybernetics, or people have to pay Current AV+1 EXP to boost an AV, or 2xNew Level to buy up a Substat, or 4xNew Level to buy a single point in a Primary stat. Well, that's where Feng Shui Sites come in. Every Site the PCs control gives 3 Bonus EXP, minimum. Every session. Some Sites even give more, or have other passive buffs for your PCs, mostly made up on the spot. We're talking stuff like 'Owning part of Cuba suddenly makes assassins think an exploding cigar is a good idea, so you're protected from assassins'. Also, you cannot raise stats (only base AV and schticks) without being attuned to at least one site. You also get bonus EXP for 'burning' a Site; destroying it in a way that it will take a lot of effort for anyone to repair it. The Chi flowing off the ruined Site makes you stronger, usually to the tune of 5-7 bonus EXP. Feng Shui is the main source of EXP in Feng Shui.

The issue for Martial Arts characters is this: Martial Arts without Kung Fu (or Creature Powers) is just a shittier version of Gun that needs more high stats. BUT to use Kung Fu, you need the Chi stat. The one most characters have a 0 in to start. Kung Fu is powered by your Fu substat in Chi, which forms a resource point pool per Sequence (those longer rounds) to spend on cool special attacks. Many Martial Arts using archetypes still have 0 Chi. And start without any Fu Schticks, either. This means they essentially have to buy up Chi or Fu (and just buying Fu on its own is a little bit of a waste, because Fortune is supremely useful even if you never intend to use Magic, the 3rd substat of Chi) AND an entire suite of Schticks before you're anything but a shittier gun character.

Let's talk one of the most fun (but not great) Archetypes to get at what I mean. The Karate Cop is one flavor of Jacky Chan character; you're the honest, decent cop who really believes they can help society and help people get ahead in life. You do community engagement, you teach martial arts to at-risk kids and try to help them with their problems. Everyone at the station likes you and knows you're an upstanding and decent person. You even get a unique ability to make a heartwarming speech that convinces people to work together and do right, and you get +2 to Martial Arts if you aren't actually attacking people but instead are using it to do cool flips and acrobatics. They're great! Except that Karate Cops are a mixed Martial Arts/Gun character (14 MA, 13 Gun) who start with Bd 5, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 5, no Fu Schticks, and no Gun Schticks. Now, you could spend your initial stat points (3 in one Primary, 2 in another, 2 on one Secondary, 1 on another) on raising Chi, but effectively, that's sort of a mistake from a character building perspective. 3 points in Chi is effectively 20 EXP. 3 points in Body right now is effectively 84 EXP. And you're going to need Body; Toughness is very useful anyway, but Martial Arts characters rely on Strength. A lot. Remember: Since each point of Outcome on an attack is 1 point of damage, if you're Damage 9 with a punch (Body 8+1 for Punching) you're effectively 4 Outcome behind the guy with the assault rifle already, and need a 5+ Outcome to even hurt someone like Hominid Case.

So you're stuck with a cool Archetype that is going to need a lot of time to develop to actually keep up with, say, a normal Martial Artist (AV 15 MA, 8 Fu, 3 Fu Schticks) or an Old Master. Or let's take the Everyman Hero, the other Jacky Chan archetype. They're kind of bad at everything and have AV 13 Martial Arts, but 10 Fortune (Which is, itself, enough to be a good schtick for them). Their schtick is they get +1 to MA AV if they're using an improvised weapon they grabbed in this scene, because ain't nothing more dangerous in this world than Jacky Chan in a ladder factory full of vases holding a baby while he don't want no trouble. (Note: The Everyman Hero can also be Jack Burton). That schtick and their Fortune can see them a long way, but it will still take them forever to actually develop Fu, which is what you need to make Martial Arts more fun to use.

So the whole setting conceit where Chi is extremely rare on characters, but Martial Arts is tied to Chi, ends up making it take a long time for most characters to learn any cool parts of Martial Arts. A Gun character who started without Gun Schticks because they're a Journalist or a PI can just pick up a Schtick and instantly start blasting mooks. A Martial Arts character who starts buying Fu Schticks without actually having the stat won't be able to use them at all. For some reason, Fu Schticks are rare and precious at creation, despite being the cheapest Schticks to buy in game; some classes give you a choice of Gun or Fu, like the Ex Special Forces character or the Criminal Mastermind, and if they do you always get way fewer Fu Schticks than Gun Schticks, which is weird when Fu Schticks cost 4+Number of Fu Schticks EXP and Gun ones cost 8+Number of Gun Schticks.

Anyway, all that out of the way, we are now actually ready to turn Zhuge Liang into a kung fu machine.

Next Time: Flying Windmill Kick

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

wiegieman posted:

The Buro is like every possible right-wing paranoia fever dream blended in a vat and dosed with arcanowave mutagens.

And Laws and company killed them off in FS2...

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Taste the power of my Flying Windmill Kick

So, Kung Fu has the most complex subsystem of all the power sets. It can be really cool and fun to use, and is probably the most mechanically engaging style of combat. Kung Fu works by generating a pool of Chi Points equal to your Fu substat every combat sequence. You then use these points to activate special Fu Schticks you've learned. Very few Fu Schticks are 'passive' abilities, unlike Gun Shticks. Fu Schticks are basically your list of special powers. Each Fu Schtick has a Shot Cost (How many Shots of action it takes to do) and a Chi cost. Characters with high Fu can actually afford to do a lot of Fu Schticks and accomplish a lot of cool stuff each Sequence. Fu is one of two paths to making Martial Arts fun.

Fu powers are all arranged on 'paths'; Kung Fu styles that take investment to learn. You can't learn the awesome Flying Windmill Kick (Actually, Flying Windmill Kick isn't great, but it SOUNDS awesome when you first read it) without first knowing some of the rest of the Path of the Leaping Storm, etc. The trees can get kind of convoluted, but they're listed out beneath the descriptions of the Schticks and are generally easy enough to follow.

So, what can our buddy Zhuge Liang eventually do with his Kung Fu? Well, he already has Willow Step, which is also a chance to talk about Dodging. So, when you're attacked, you have the option to drop 1 Shot in Initiative and say you Dodge, getting +3 to your defensive AV. Zhuge Liang's Willow Step move lets him do the same thing, except he spends 1 Chi but 0 shots, and only adds +2 to his defensive AV. Still, saving time he could be using to fight back is very worthwhile. There's another Fu defense, The Fox's Retreat, that costs 1 Shot AND 1 Chi, but gives you +5 to your AV. Remember how the math works out; that means the person attacking you is almost certain to miss unless they were really outclassing you to begin with, in which case you're probably screwed in the long run anyway. Trust me: If you use Dodging a lot, you will slow combat down immensely. And Fu makes Dodging much better with the Willow Step and Fox's Retreat options. Still, blocking is boring; let's look at how you fight with Fu.

For one, the Path of the Sharpened Scales A: Works while wielding a weapon and B: Is one of the only ways to just straight add to your attack AV. One of its powers, Breath of the Dragon, is just 3 Chi, 3 shots (as in, a normal 3 shot attack action) for +3 to attack AV. That's a big boost. It can also add to damage, but it's better to use the +AV move once you have it; it costs 1 more Chi, sure, but it's effectively +3 damage if you would have hit anyway, and making a hit in the first place matters.

Other paths will do stuff like let you gently caress with Arcanowave devices, punch through enemy Toughness and ignore it entirely, pick out the character with the highest Shot count at the start of a Sequence and spend 8 Chi to set your Shots to theirs, use your Chi stat in place of Strength (Excellent for Old Masters) for a full Sequence, do all kinds of shadow ninja magic, do Drunken Kung Fu that makes you hard as hell to hit the more you spend time speed-drinking in the middle of battle, seal Chi with pressure point techniques, counter-attack, heal allies, armor yourself, punch magic so hard it stops being magic, or reflect a man's bullet back into his gun so hard the gun explodes. Yes. You can even learn the amazing Shadowfist, namesake of the original card game, a forbidden technique that seals an enemy's fist and permanently reduces their Martial Arts AV by 5 while removing a Fu power they know, at cost of you permanently losing 1 Fu and Chi. Kung Fu does a lot of awesome stuff. You can stand in a fire in order to draw chi out of the fire while posing for a cover shot, for god's sake. There's dozens of reasons to use Fu, and they're the Fu Schticks.

Another fun bit of flavor on Fu? You can hold EXP in reserve and buy Fu Schticks in the middle of a kung fu fight. "Now I must use my Secret Technique!"/"Only now do I understand my master's words!" mid-fight revelations are completely acceptable reasons to buy a new Fu Schtick. Feng Shui is, if nothing else, very dedicated to genre emulation.

The weaknesses of Kung Fu as a fighting style come from a few places. First, not all the abilities are winners and you might have to buy some weaker ones to get to the good ones. Second, you need multiple stats to make Kung Fu work; a Gun is much simpler. Third, Kung Fu kind of sucks at dealing with mooks. It can do it, but it gets no real special abilities to handle them more easily like Guns. The closest it gets is the ultimate Dragon Kung Fu power, which adds 4 to the Outcome of a check you already succeeded; you can use that to make a multi-targeted mook kill push over the edge into the 5+ territory you needed. You also get a Gathering Storm power that lets you spend 2 Chi to attack a second unnamed character after dropping one, but that's...expensive for not much effect. Also, most Fu doesn't like weaponry, despite armed Martial Arts being very strong. A Signature Melee Weapon Sword or Spear is a Str+7 damage weapon, which can really start to outdo guns; but you can't use that with many of the Fu Schticks. So you also end up needing a ton of Strength to make your Str+1 Punches and Str+2 Kicks (By the way, no reason to ever punch in Feng Shui; kick all the time) work if you're up against anyone with good Toughness.

Also, let's look at one of the coolest sounding powers, the Flying Windmill Kick. Flying Windmill Kick, you always knew how to disappoint me. I'd set you up, set the stunt and the scene, declare my awesome ultimate technique, and...nothing. See, Flying Windmill Kick lets you make an attack against a foe for 5 Shots and 7 Chi. If you hit, you attack them again. Until you miss. The issue is, your opponent sees you set up to Windmill Kick, and they declare they Dodge, like Lucy pulling away the football. Even if they don't, if you were attacking anyone reasonably tough, your odds of hitting them continuously are lower than you think. The only real use for this technique (and this is a real use, at least) is kicking the poo poo out of a weaker named character you were already going to clown on since you out-AVed them by a lot, but doing it a lot faster. Which is still an advantage; anything that speeds up Feng Shui's combat is welcome.

Still, in general, Kung Fu is pretty well designed and mechanically engaging to use. If you can get your character into it, having a big ole' list of special techniques makes keeping your combat descriptions fun a lot easier, too, which is another big bonus. As someone else said, there's only so many ways to say 'I shoot those guys, with my gun'; Kung Fu is way easier to change up and vary, especially as you'll be developing new styles and paths as you go.

One of the other issues to be careful of, though? Supernaturals can hard counter your Fu as much as your gun. We'll get to that when we get to Mako's powers. Also, someone with the right Arcanowave device can just make you lose 5 HP every time you spend a Chi point, which with moves costing 3 Chi a move, and you having 35 HP until dead? Kinda hurts. Effectively shuts down your Fu. There's a lot of those hard counter devices and powers in Feng Shui, and I can't say I like 'em. Something that defends against Fu? Fine. Something that instantly shuts down one character's entire powerset? Ehhhhh.

Next Time: You incur the wrath of the Abyssal Fountain, fool!

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Humbug Scoolbus posted:

And Laws and company killed them off in FS2...

Good. “Actually the conspiracy theorists are right” had more appeal in the 90s but it honestly sucked then and definitely loving sucked in the year 2015.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Mr. Maltose posted:

Good. “Actually the conspiracy theorists are right” had more appeal in the 90s but it honestly sucked then and definitely loving sucked in the year 2015.

It also allowed them to fall backwards into having the new future setting taking inspiration from Mad Max with added Planet of the Apes. All is well.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I've never played Feng Shui or followed it very closely, but I played the Shadowfist CCG back in the day and the Buro/Jammer conflict was really cool. As was the Buro sending agents back in time to capture demons.

At first glance, it seemed like the part of the setting that lacked clear roots in a specific subgenre of action film, but 80s dystopian films were already an exercise in mashing up a handful of seminal films (The Warriors, Mad Max 2, and Escape from New York were the Holy Trinity) and picking up influences from any science fiction film that was a hit, so Aliens, Predator, and Terminator ripoffs were also common. It makes a lot of sense in retrospect.

That said, a lot of Feng Shui's DNA comes from the American low-budget action films that started cropping up as the Italian exploitation film industry was dying, from companies like PM Entertainment.

Feng Shui 2 seems like an excellent game, and I like Mad Max style post-apocalypse several times more than the next guy, but its post-Buro future epoch seems like it doesn't have a lot going on. A related thing I find surprising is that, since the first edition came out in 1996, the second edition doesn't go out of its way to acknowledge the "action horror" fad and the zombie revival.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Penalties for being subtle

Enough about kung fu and guns. You want to be goddamn David Lo Pan, but a good guy, right? Well, tough luck if your game takes place in 1850 or 1996 outside of Hong Kong. Excellent luck if not! It's time to talk about Juncture Modifiers, one of the worst ideas in Feng Shui! You see, part of the fluff is that a conspiracy of magic families of transformed animals in human form keep magic down (and themselves on the thrones of power) in 1850 and 1996. So there's no magic to draw on in those Junctures, outside of Hong Kong where anything can happen. So any Sorcerer PC in 1996 or 1850 suffers a -2 to their AV. Including Dodge AV. You go from AV 15 for the Sorcerer Archetype to AV 13. Have fun with that. But say you go back to mythic China? +2 to your AV! Netherworld? +1! 2056? +1! So depending on where the game happens to be set, you either outshine everyone or you eat poo poo. The same sorta stuff happens to Abominations/Supernaturals like Mako and their Creature Powers, and to Arcanowave users. This sucks. It limits where your characters go, what they do, and it makes some characters suddenly stand out while others don't. We dropped this pretty drat quick because it's way more fun to not bother with it; one PC getting to be AV 17 just because we're in ancient China but having to be AV 13 if we're going to blow up some transformed Jackal mobsters in 1996 wasn't fun for anyone.

Sorcery has one nice touch: Sorcerers can't be subtle. Trying to do anything subtly and without great power incurs penalties. You are supposed to embrace your inner ham. Practice cackling! Practice chortling! Know the difference! Similarly, Sorcerers actually need their paints, inks, spell components, etc. They always have them, but the intent is that you can take away a Sorcerer's magic the same way the bad guys take the Gun Character's piece when they're captured. So you can still disarm a Sorcerer.

Sorcerers are probably the mechanically messiest group in the game. Their powers are some of the worst defined, they have a hand-wavey combo system, and worse, many Sorcerer powers target an enemy's stats, rather than their AV. This is a problem: Say you're casting an Enchantment spell; its base difficulty is the target's Magic, Chi, or Will. However, you're targeting it with your full fighting AV. They get modifiers based on what you're asking them to do, but this is generally not a contest that starts in the defender's favor. Sorcerers have a huge grab-bag of powers, where they can heal, buff, do damage (though they actually kind of suck at damage), throw people around, fly, summon monsters, banish monsters, control monsters, influence emotions, grant semi-immortality (with a complex and weird subsystem that I doubt saw much use), make plants grow, make people more likely to have kids, curse bloodlines, you name it, wizards can probably do it.

Thus, it's sort of difficult to get a handle on Sorcerers. They can do so many different things, but many of them aren't necessarily immediately useful for adventures. In general, anything you try to do with Sorcery is modified by how much it assists in moving the plot along, and by how hammy and weird it is. You get bonuses to your (non-combat) tests with magic if what you do is wild and flashy, or if it just helps move the story along without derailing it. One curious thing about Sorcery is that because so many power types run off the Magic stat, it's not that hard for Supernatural Creatures or Arcanowave characters to dip over and learn Sorcery, and since Sorcery has a ton of 'out of fight' utility as a general plot macguffin, that can actually be worth doing. So Mako could get really into the mystic arts and learn how to cast healing spells and mess around with Chi in addition to her tentacle kung-fu; it's one of the better 'dip' powersets since it has so much weird stuff that might not require a fully powered fighting AV. A rule of thumb for the difficulty modifiers on Sorcery out of combat is 'the longer you argued that your ability should be able to make a huge reach and do this, the less chance you have', which is a little bit of a weird way to do it.

There is an annoying requirement that you spend 2 years training to take the Sorcery skill in the first place, but if I wanted Magic Mako I could've just taken a 1 in Sorcery at creation and picked stuff up later to get around it. Or you could just ignore that rule since everywhere else in the book if you mention training time they say 'montage or handwave it, get back to kicking butt'.

Mages can also burn points of Magic temporarily to add to the AV of a spell. Note this will drop their AV afterwards, but for that one spell, a guy who throws all his Mag into it is going to be some serious poo poo. Magic can also Backlash. Any crit-fail causes some real problems; crit fail with an attack spell, take 10 Wounds, etc. Generally, it does the opposite of what you were trying to do, and does it to you.

To get more into what magic's like in a fight, we need to talk about Blast. Blast is the core schtick for a pure Sorcerer, used to do damage. It normally does Mag Rating+2. Blast also has a ton of special effects, which range from just changing the SFX of the spell (Conjured Weapons and Acid and Fire and Lightning all just do damage, etc, but suggest different descriptions and stunt possibilities) to actually having game effects (Chi Blasts can forcibly deattune people from Sites, and also gets +2 AV per point of burned Mag instead of +1, etc). You can cripple and debuff people with Disease blasts. Blast is highly, highly variable. It also drops mooks reasonably easily (-1 per extra mook, rather than -2 for the first extra target and -1 per extra after that) which is nice. You only get a couple Blast effects when you pick up Blast, but you can buy more cheaply so you can throw out every color of the rainbow.

We also have to talk Movement. Movement is the standout broken power for Sorcery, because it has a Speed booster. Cast Movement on someone with Difficulty (Their Speed+5). They add Outcome to their Speed this Sequence. Combine this with, say, spending a Fortune Point and using the Harvest Chi power (Sorcerers who know Fertility magic can sacrifice a Mag point to add +d6 to a check) and put it on your best fighter. Congratulations, you've shattered the action economy harder than an abomination's kick shattered that mook's pelvis. Hope everyone likes sitting around while one character narrates their 6-7 unopposed actions. Movement Sorcerer is a pretty infamous part of Sorcery in Feng Shui 1e. And every Sorcerer is going to take Movement, because it includes the ability to fly without needing to make checks, and who doesn't want to be able to fly? Or pick up a big ole' truck with magic and throw it at a guy? It just also includes the 'Press Button to Shatter Action Economy' move.

Sorcery is cool, it just needed more definition. As it is, it's all about how much you can get away with, and is kind of designed to produce arguments with the GM over the many, many subjective modifiers it can get. The heart's in the right place. I especially love the focus on drama and special effects. And Blast being really, really flashy and decent against mooks but secretly not great when it comes up against the hero? Perfectly in genre! It just needed to think a little more about what it means when an Influence spell targets a bare stat that's likely 5-8 with a class whose base AV is 15. And dump Juncture Modifiers. Juncture Modifiers are a trash element where a setting conceit then greatly limits your mash-up potential, and c'mon, FS, you're usually good on mashups. Don't let the Chicken Illuminati make the game swing wildly between the Sorcerer PC being awesome and sucking depending on if we're in Hong Kong or Rio.

Next Time: Mako Smash

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Halloween Jack posted:

Feng Shui 2 seems like an excellent game, and I like Mad Max style post-apocalypse several times more than the next guy, but its post-Buro future epoch seems like it doesn't have a lot going on. A related thing I find surprising is that, since the first edition came out in 1996, the second edition doesn't go out of its way to acknowledge the "action horror" fad and the zombie revival.

That's fair. I believe they found that nobody ever gamed in 2069 much, or at least not enough that it wasn't worth keeping around. FS2 could definitely use some more fluff in that juncture, but I don't think we'll get that.

(I did like how they decided that's what TORG's Nippon Tech should to be in TORG Eternity. Just make them Umbrella.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


2056 has a bunch of fluff issues that stem from the writers for FS1e not really being sure what to do with it outside of Stolze in Seed of the New Flesh. So you get a much more jumbled picture of the Buro and the Architects and they really only have a strong theme/feel as a faction in their own book. But I liked what their book laid down enough to run a Buro game in the day, and it got me a cyber-sphinx fighting the worst person in the world on top of the Pyramids, so I'm happy with them.

The funniest thing for them, though, is there's this guy, Homo Omega. He's supposed to be their biggest, baddest Abomination but he's secretly very smart and powerful and taking over their mad-science element from within and all. He's also pretty lame. They promise in the book he appears in (and I know he's from the CCG, too) that there'll be tons on him and his Seed of the New Flesh organization in the upcoming Seed of the New Flesh book!

And then Stolze completely ignores him and instead focuses on just giving the Buro an actual writeup. Homo Omega, supposed to be the star of the Buro Book, never appears in it at all. It's hilarious.

E: My intention when I get to the fluff is, instead of a really thorough 'all the books' look (you can look at Mors' 2012 review for that) I'm going to be going over an overview of each faction, how they read in 2019, and what you could have done with them to make them a protagonist or not. This will be a lot shorter than something like Hams.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:21 on Jun 10, 2019

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Yeah, it was a shame that Kar Fai (Great Grandmaster of Furious Tiger Kung Fu and Last Living Master of the Shadowfist) had to go down to that chump, although I dimly recall he took Omega with him.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Didn't Kar Fai teach all the Dragons tiger kung fu?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

What do you mean I have to make two checks

So if Sorcery was messy because it's a bit ill-defined, Creature Powers are messy because they're trying to cover such a wide range of monster movies. They have to let you play a Jiangshi (You cannot possibly have this game without hopping vampires), a big ogre, a demon toad, a gribbly monster with too many mouths, weird cybernetic genetic designer devils, a werewolf, or even, yes, a grad student with Sharktopus problems. To accomplish that, they have to cover a very wide conceptual space, and that makes them messy. They also totally rule; Creature Powers are a personal favorite power set for me because they make a great standin for weird mutant superpowers as well as terrifying monsters.

They have the same Juncture issue magic does, and the Juncture Modifiers should be thrown in the trash for Creatures same as magic. Especially as they have two tables, one for Abominations and one for non-cyberized all-natural unnatural horrors. They also get a funny rule where they can appear to be moving much slower than they actually are, shambling and looming and lumbering around the scene but somehow always keeping up with people sprinting full tilt away from them. Cute. Anyone with Creature Powers also gets Horrific Appearance: Anyone seeing the full horror of Mako's Sharktopus form should be horrified, and she gets to act as if she has 2 ranks of Intimidate (or an Intimidate AV 2 points higher) whenever she's undisguised. However, this kind of makes buying at least one rank of Transformation so you can look normal a necessity. Pretty much every Abomination/Creature character I've seen grabs Transformation. Most grab two ranks of it, because hey, who doesn't want to be able to shift to midpoints between 'normal human disguise, who is a normal human like you, with skin and things' and 'hideous demon form' as dramatically appropriate?

Also, Creature Powers are the only sort of powers that are genuinely hard-locked off other characters. You have to start with Creature Powers to pick up more...or you can gently caress up with Arcanowave Devices and mutate enough to get mutant powers. Some characters might take that as a plus. Most Creature Powers characters started with them, through being a Supernatural Creature, an Abomination (Which play as kind of a hybrid Creature Powers/Arcanowave/Physical class), or a Ghost (Who are also all Sorcerers, by the way. The default FS Ghost is a Ghost Wizard). What makes Creature Powers nice is there are a lot of them that don't actually need the Creature Powers skill at all; lots are passive buffs or abilities that you needed Powers to get but that run off Martial Arts. So an Abomination who is putting all their actual points for fighting into Arcanowave or Guns or Martial Arts doesn't need to spend tons on Creature Powers; they just take lots of passives. Creature Schticks are 8+X, where X is how many Creature Schticks you'll have after buying the newest. So, for example, Mako's got 5, so buying her 6th would be 14 EXP.

The issue with Creature Powers is they have some of the biggest 'gently caress you' powers in the game. Let's talk about Damage Immunity. You can only spend 2 Schticks on this during creation, but it makes you straight up immune to one source of damage. Like Guns (Though holy bullets will hurt you), or Bare Hands (Though Fu will hurt you), or Melee Weapons (One specific weapon will still hurt you, like Machetes or whatever). Jiangshi are immune to bullets. This can make things a little annoying for a Gun Character who didn't know magic bullets were a thing. You can even be immune to 'all but 3 Creature Schticks'. Or Immune to Cars (And Car Explosions, And Car Crashes). These kinds of 'hard-counter' moves are everywhere in original Feng Shui.

You can also take, say, +2 Damage per Schtick for your basic unarmed hand-to-hand, up to 4 Schticks for +8. Or +2 Armor (adds directly to Toughness, though a Gun Character with Eagle Eye will blow through it) up to 4 times for 8 Armor. Imagine Mako with 8 Armor. Now she'd be DR 18. Even someone with a Buro Hellharrow 9.76mm monster-killing cannon would need Outcome +5 to even hurt her. You hear that sound? It's the Big Bruiser crying in the corner because the one thing he did, Mako could be built to do way better. You can steal AV from enemies by drinking their blood (It takes a MA test, then a Creature Test, but you target their Mag or Chi, so the second test is super easy). You can learn to attack peoples' Kung Fu or Chi ratings instead of their Toughness, getting special attacks that blow past conventional toughness and armor. You can pick from a list of conditions and every time one of them happens in a fight you gain +1 to a primary stat until the fight ends (Most are getting hit by special attacks, but you can take one like 'do 10 Wounds in one blow'). You can die messily when you run out of HP and then immediately make your INEVITABLE COMEBACK, BABY! You can use Creature Powers to Blast just like a Sorcerer! You can heal quickly between fights, you can have jumpy legs, you can do all kinds of crazy poo poo with Creature Powers.

The issue is mostly that whether you actually use your Creature Powers skill for anything is pretty up in the air. Mako can, because she has Tentacles and they let her make unarmed attacks at range with her Creature Powers AV, but an average Supernatural Creature may well find themselves with a 12 offensive AV for awhile while they buff their Martial Arts early on. It isn't as bad as the Big Bruiser, since they at least have a 15 defensive AV from Creature Powers, but still.

Part of the reason Creature Schticks are some of my favorites is they help capture the attitude of Feng Shui; all that weird poo poo the enemy monsters can do? You can play one of those. Nothing stopping you. Nobody's going to talk you down for playing a good-guy hopping vampire or a demon that decided they just didn't feel like spreading horror and misery anymore. In fact, the default assumption is you're probably going to have a Melodramatic Hook about how you're from an evil species of demons or spirits but like, you're good and don't want to be a dick. Or maybe you're in love with a mortal. Or maybe you just couldn't eat that baby because he was cute as heck, and now time ninjas have kidnapped your precious adopted mountain son and you have to be a bad enough monster dude to get him back. Or the Lotus summoned you and made you do stuff so bad that even a demon from Hell was like 'wow, gently caress these Sorcerer guys, they're jerks'. Maybe you're an Abomination, and while on assignment in 1996 you tried a pancake, and the sheer joy of it melted the brain-toad the Buro uses to keep Abominations in line; you have eaten the pancakes, and you are lost to them forever. The possibilities for ridiculous mutant monster melodrama are endless and I appreciate them.

Plus, much as everyone's superpowered to some degree or another? Sometimes it's really fun to play the character with the really overt superpowers, like flying or jumping really high. How many other settings introduce something like the Abominations and then immediately go 'Yeah, also, you can just play as that?' The powers and the fluff make playing with them fun, and they're pretty effective! I just wish stuff like Damage Immunity was handled a little different, because it can either turn out useless (took something that doesn't end up coming up) or hard-countering and shutting down entire encounters. Still, the nice mix of passive and active abilities makes Creature Powers one of the only other powersets you'd consider dipping into from a mechanical point of view, and that's pretty unique.

Next Time: Gentlemen! Behold! ARCANOWAVE!

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Halloween Jack posted:

Feng Shui 2 seems like an excellent game, and I like Mad Max style post-apocalypse several times more than the next guy, but its post-Buro future epoch seems like it doesn't have a lot going on. A related thing I find surprising is that, since the first edition came out in 1996, the second edition doesn't go out of its way to acknowledge the "action horror" fad and the zombie revival.

From playing it, it's "ok but eeeh" so far. It has the same issue with mooks, and is actually more restrictive over stats.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Night10194 posted:

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.
90sdesign.txt

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

90sdesign.txt

The other hilarious thing? Once we get to Stat Schticks, any other character that gets a high enough Body can just take 'Ich Bin Ein Bruiser' and get the only unique thing the Big Bruiser had. Similarly, anyone with Hardware Schticks can take a single Schtick to get better defenses and toughness than the Bruiser.

Life for Big Bruisers is suffering. Complete and total suffering. Yet they're also insanely boring to fight as an enemy, because while you can punch them with your kung fu moves or whatever, unless you're very strong or have a very big gun, you'll be doing very little damage per swing to them and they have to drop to 50 damage to actually die. So you're stuck in a long, foregone conclusion fight with a lovely enemy that you outclass but can't actually finish in a reasonable number of moves.

Naturally, the example Adventure features fighting a Bruiser in the very first fight scene.

The funny thing is for all the 90s in FS 1's design, it isn't rocket-taggy and the fact that defenses can get around and outstrip offense pretty easily is one of its biggest problems.

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