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Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Night10194 posted:

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

Oh, God. I remembering bouncing off that dude for a solid thirty minutes as we desperately continued to find different ways to describe combat actions (that would prove futile). Eventually we broke an aquarium and pulled a light fixture down and the GM ruled that electrocuted him into unconsciousness. (The game started to be houseruled quickly after that.)

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kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Playing or running Feng Shui RAW is agonizingly painful. The rules just donít work.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Dawgstar posted:

Oh, God. I remembering bouncing off that dude for a solid thirty minutes as we desperately continued to find different ways to describe combat actions (that would prove futile). Eventually we broke an aquarium and pulled a light fixture down and the GM ruled that electrocuted him into unconsciousness. (The game started to be houseruled quickly after that.)

Feng Shui 1's combat is very, very slow in general, with a lot of moving parts to track and things generally favoring the defender. When I was running it, I outright stopped using Dodge, pretty much ever, for any NPCs just so fights would move a little faster.

E: A lot of this is caused by the Stunting rules, too; we'll get to them as soon as I write up Arcanowave to round out the powersets, but Stunting is one of the places where I'm convinced the developers really didn't 'get' the probabilities of their own dice system and were going on 'well you only need a 2+ or better that's not much'.

When that actually cuts your chances down to about 30%.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 21:07 on Jun 10, 2019

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Dawgstar posted:

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.
I think one of their stated reasons for doing it was to have the Future Junction be somewhere people might actually want to go instead of "go in, do the thing, get out as quick as possible", but I don't think they really succeeded.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


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.

Oh, don't worry, it's coming.

FBH991
Nov 26, 2010


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Oh, don't worry, it's coming.

You'd think that the whole explaination of what Tolkeen was like would have been in the first book, like, maybe with some pre-war setup, and then the rest would be what happened.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People cont'd

Sleeth
The panther folk



Sleeth are cats. Not cat people, not catgirls, just straight up giant cats with all the insufferable bullshit that implies. They are, by nature, solitary hunters and predators. A Sleeth may enter civilization, but this doesn't mean they're civilized. It's an exaggerated stereotype that a Sleeth is a snarling ball of danger that will claw your face off as soon as talk to you, but it's not THAT exaggerated.

Physically, they get all the advantages of being a big cat like a panther or a tiger. They have deadly claws and fangs, their hides are as tough as armor, they're experts at climbing, jumping, swimming, sitting in boxes, stalking, and squirming into spaces they had no business fitting into. They can smell as well as a Cani, and they have even better night vision than real life cats; they can see in total darkness or in glaring light.



Not having opposable thumbs SHOULD be a limiting factor, but it's not. They have a natural spellcasting ability that lets them, without cost, perform telekinesis on small objects of animal matter. They carry around a bag of things they collectively call "prets and fiaps", which are an assortment of bone and leather objects that they can use as tools as skillfully as another prime would use their hands. They can use their magic to stun and fetch small animals, and even lift themselves in a crude brute force sort of levitation.



Sleeth rarely form groups of more than three or four, and almost always spend most of their time outside of civilization. A Sleeth that lives in a city needs a very compelling reason for it; maybe to live closer to friends, or the city has something they need, or for whatever reason they find more pleasure in stalking the streets than the forest.

Sleeth romance is... catlike. They rarely form permanent relationships. A date that ends with the neighbors screaming and throwing buckets of water at you is considered romantic. They have a reputation for being indiscriminate and inconstant.

Like how Herethroy are obligate herbivores, Sleeth are obligate carnivores, and prefer their meat to be freshly killed, preferably by them, and they have an unfortunate tendency to play with their food before killing it, especially if their bloodlust hasn't been sated lately. Occasionally Sleeth feel a need to eat some vegetables. Then they usually puke them back up. Preferably on someone's rug. This is normal.



Sleeth are proud and cruel. Sleeth dignity is unassailable. It's not that they believe they're better than you, it's just that they know they are 100% independent and self-sufficient and assume that everyone else is too. You can't shame a Sleeth; they'll shrug off the most humiliating blunder as if it never happened, and they'll happily beg for scraps off your dinner plate and roll over for belly scritches.

The Sleeth are the most amoral of all the prime species, and they're a contender for the most amoral species period. Every Sleeth is capable of cruelty; a "good" Sleeth is one that's only cruel to your enemies. Cruelty to friends, family, and innocent bystanders is considered a forgivable vice to Sleeth. On the other hand, this same lackadaisical outlook means they rarely bother with strong hatred either. They'll murder a bunny if it's convenient, but they won't bother attempting vengeance against a monster that killed their kittens. Getting a Sleeth to actually care about something is difficult, but if you manage it you have a powerful weapon at your disposal.




Oh and sometimes they look like Battle Cat.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Dibs on not being the one to have to pierce a Sleeth's ears.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



For some reason the fact that they're leaning into the 'all cats are amoral assholes' stereotype bothers me more than the animal stereotyping they did earlier.

Maybe because it makes a race that seems like it'd be pretty awful for everyone at the table if played to the letter.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Coalition Wars 5: Shadows of Evil, Part 9- "Like Hannibal crossing the Alps on the backs of elephants, they had just accomplished the impossible and all were eager to deal out some payback to the Tolkeenites."

After nearly two whole books of nothing happening, it's time for things to happen again! I never thought I would be hungry for the metaplot, but I've been drowning in discussion of small towns and bit part villains. So, let's brace outsides.


For some reason that's specifically a Federation of Magic mage being held down (they have a very distinct fashion sense).

Incriminating Evidence

Most of the Coalition's failure has fallen on one head: General Micander Drogue, the head of their death camp initiative. Many have turned on him politically within the Coalition, either as an opportunity or out of sheer distaste for him. Apparently, his failure has caused many who followed his questionable example to... realize how flawed and evil his conduct was. Yep, because that's how people deal with and rationalize failure. Also, I'm being deeply sarcastic.

While Drogue is still technically in charge of the invasion, he knows he's set for a fall unless he can deal a decisive win in the field. Moreover, he's run into the issue where his Death Camps were never officially sanctioned. It's said the higher-ups like Prosek would have never approved of them, because...

...

... wait, the same guys who think Lone Star is an acceptable operation would think... I... what? Weren't they occasionally just annihilating towns anyway for having too many bumpy heads? Well, Drogue is doing what he can to have his men "mist" the camps- that is, completely flatten them with Mega-Damage weapons and murder everybody involved to cover them up.

And that's when we switch to the next chunk of fiction for Sergeant Deon Canton. On account of his former war crimes, General Drogue appoints Deon to wipe out "Death Camp Grace", which our... protagonist?... openly agrees for, spouting the party line. However, when he gets there, he tells his soldiers that there's "been enough killing" and orders them to release the prisoners, and to leave the camp standing, having a change of heart after getting saved by a D-Bee last book. "I want somebody to know that Tolkeen was not the only side in this war with monsters." I don't think that was a mystery, or was it somebody else that was going on about the need to kill babies just a few books back?

Oh, Deon.

We then get The Rescue of Camp Glory. While we're told Camps Prosek, Purity, and Victory all get annihilated as part of Drogue's plot, we get an adventure hook where the PCs hear of the plot to wipe out Camp Glory shortly before its destruction from... eh, somebody tells them! And so, being good folks, they have to stop several dozen Coalition soldiers from "misting" the camp, and it suggests having the PCs pick them off one group at a time. Ideally, they help the prisoners escape, leave some part of the camp standing after the crossfire, and help the newfound refugees find a new home. We also get a map and a mercifully brief writeup for the camp. "Explore the possibilities and have fun."

Why do you keep nagging at the boy? Why don't you let him sit back and enjoy the war!


"So! They laugh at my boner, will they? I'll show them! I'll show them how many boners the Coalition can make!"

Epilogue

And we're back to fiction, this time about "Operation North Wind". There's a lot of , but it makes up the big cliffhanger of the book. Remember the Coalition army that was driven into the Xiticix Hivelands? The one that was presumed dead? It's back.

Rifts Coalition Wars 5: Shadows of Evil posted:

General Jericho Holmes is a living legend for a reason, and his bold maneuver to escape the destruction of the Sorcerers' Revenge by plunging into the Xiticix Hivelands is a great example.

Essentially, Holmes planned the retreat into the Hivelands once he saw his forces were overwhelmed. He tried to pack as many troops as he could into transports, grounded all flyers, and then told soldiers not to engage the enemy. They were allowed to try and beat the Xiticix back in melee and used smoke, but they apparently remained loyal as they were slaughtered by bug-people, not opening fire. Because that sounds likely, I write with the rich tones of double sarcasm. Eventually, though they lost tens of thousands of troops, the Xiticix concluded they weren't a worthwhile threat, and fell back to occasionally harassing them. After several weeks, they escaped the Hivelands, and then regrouped north of Tolkeen. Now, two months or so later, they're apparently waiting for the right opportunity to attack Tolkeen's practically unprepared Northern side. They haven't informed the Coalition, believing they can't risk revealing their valuable position before they attack Tolkeen.

And so, 308,000 soldiers survived before over two months with no supply lines in a hostile near-alien wasteland, ready to sneak attack a city without ever having resupplied food, ammo, medical supplies, or having any obvious access to repair facilities... after a series of major battles that significantly wrecked their poo poo! Furthermore, they're looking to bushwack a city with no shortage of precognitive psychics and a literal foretelling skull (alas, remember Poor Yorick?). Apparently the psychics couldn't find out about it because there were Xiticix in the way and I guess nobody in Tolkeen thought to use astral projection or second sight or oracle or scout with enslave entity and- gently caress, I'm only thinking of corebook powers and spells that neither our super-genius general or the Xiticix have any easy way to counter. Also, later we'll find out Poor Yorick did predict the attack - he was just ignored or misinterpreted by King Whoever Rules Tolkeen I Can't Be Bothered To Look It Up. No, seriously, I'm not making up the fact I can't remember at the moment.

Whatever, we're about ready to put things to bed. Stuff is happening! Yay! I'm excited to see what happens! It's just a shame we already know. It just feels like Siembieda's been wasting our time for two books in a row like a master - it's not that the books don't have some use, but compared to how this space could be spent... well, it seems like an awfully high opportunity cost to talk about cyber-snatchers and little lucky small towns when there's still vital information about Tolkeen and the Coalition sitting on the shelf. And we don't have much time left to do so, because we're at...

THE END OF "SHADOWS OF EVIL". 224 PAGES REMAIN OF THE COALITION WARS.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 10:57 on Jun 11, 2019

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




STOP TRIVIALIZING ORGANIZED WAR CRIMES KEVIN!
It's never this one general who just happens to have a large scale plan of systematic genocide and no need to consult with his superiors ever.

I'd like to force Kevin to watch every single testimony in the nuremberg trials, sequentially 24/7.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





In lighter news, I find the picture of that CS military commander's regulation high ponytail very on fleek.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


It also just completely falls apart because the Coalition was and is and will be willing to vaporize towns and engage in racial extermination, Drogue just systemized it to try and discourage resistance. "We're just capturing you, we're not going to murder you."

Murdering people in their homes or rounding them up for execution is not the meaningful distinction that this book bizarrely seems to think it is.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



I like how RIFTS went from "I love this stupid, wacky setting" to "I can no longer even joke about enjoying RIFTS" and then kept getting worse

I dont even want a copy of the RIFTS SRPG anymore

shades of eternity
Nov 9, 2013

Where kitties raise dragons in the world's largest mall.

and the dumbest asspull in metaplot in the period folks.

and wait till part 2 of this.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


The whole time those 308,000 troops were there, no one from Tolkeen tried to kick the Xitic into a murderous frenzy?

But yeah that's umm, that's a lot of war-crimes for the 'good guys'.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Well KS found a new way for me to be disgusted.

The Coalition States aren't just the winners: they win with a lightning strike after surviving impossible odds.

The Skullnazis are put in a heroic roll. By their actions they are the good guys, no matter how much is written that they aren't.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


They're not supposed to be the good guys; in this event, the only group that's supposed to be the unambiguous good guys are the loyalist Cyber-Knights. You know, the guys on the fence doing not much more than holding up the exit sign for the war.

That being said, yeah, Holmes is written as if he's a good guy, because Siembieda thinks moral relativism is an excuse to eat your cake and still have a cake afterwards, when the actual result of eating a cake is a pile of poo poo. This will be even more confusing when we see his actions in Final Siege.

Cassa posted:

The whole time those 308,000 troops were there, no one from Tolkeen tried to kick the Xitic into a murderous frenzy?

The Xiticix were already in a murderous frenzy, which is why Tolkeen presumed them to be dead. Holmes calmed them down by letting his guys hide or get murdered until the bugs decided they weren't that big a threat after all.

That sure was a sentence I just wrote.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

The Wave of the Future. Do you get it. They're waves.

Arcanowave! So, with all this Geomancy bullshit, eventually scientists were always going to get involved. At some point between 1996 and 2056 (2014, to be precise), Doctors Anita Dao and Curtis Boatman founded the CDCA, the Cross-Disciplinary Convergence Association. Dr. Dao was convinced there was something to various paranormal claims, and was finally able to prove it with the discovery of what she dubbed "Arcanowaves". They're a scientific measurement of Chi flow. Scientists finally figured out how to actually measure, quantify, and control Chi flow scientifically rather than by using Sorcery or Kung Fu. Trust me, we'll be hearing more about Dao and Boatman later, especially as Boatman is a strong contender for Worst Person in the World.

Boatman is a big reason why AWDs can be kind of hosed up. He is, after all, the guy who originally started weaponizing Arcanowave devices and was responsible for the original cyberdemon programs. Arcanowave is thus the weirdest powerset in a game with very weird powersets, because Arcanowave Devices take the form of a mixture of bio-engineered living plastics, demonic tissue, and arcane runes. Most resemble a living thing, covered in weird shell plating and prone to bleeding or even screaming when used. These are very, very Croenenberg. If you ever wanted to shoot people with the living gun from Videodrome, that's Arcanowave (though mechanically, that specific gun sucks). In general, Arcanowave is split between extremely good items, and extremely useless ones. It's also the most awkward powerset to use, because it's the only one with an explicit drawback: You risk back-draft from plugging living cybernetic demonic magitek into yourself, which can slowly mutate your PC into an abomination. This isn't all bad, mind; you get Creature Powers and you're still in control of your PC, so depending on how it goes down it might turn into more of 'genetic enhancement, unplanned' rather than hideous curse. Characters who are already Abominations also don't mutate, so they can freely use AWDs without worrying like their human counterparts.

To limit exposure, most AWD users only actually plug the AWD in when they need it. The issue with this is it takes 3 shots to plug your device in; effectively losing you one attack. Every Sequence you keep a device plugged in, though, you add 1 to a 'Mutation Check' difficulty at the end of the session. It is not, mind you, 'per device'. It's number of rounds you had 1 or more devices plugged in, so it's not as harsh as it sound. You also need to have enough AI/O ports surgically installed on your body to fit your devices, but you can have as many as you need without penalty, so that's rarely an issue. You can't use a style of device without its Schtick; you need to have magically attuned yourself to that model, but once you know how to use a Helix Ripper (which you'll want, we'll get to that) you can use any old Helix Ripper. There's also nothing about how fast you gain Mutation if you plug stuff in out of combat; I'd probably do it by scene? That's like a sequence. The Mutation check is an Arcanowave skill test, made on a closed roll (so the dice can't explode). Remember that most AWD characters that are vulnerable to mutation are going to have a 13-15 AWD; Cyborgs suck too much to really use them and Abominations don't need to make Mutation checks, so it's probably just going to be Monster Hunters. Therefore, your actual chances of mutating unless stuff goes really wrong or you're basically trying to turn into a viral-demonic superbeing hideous blood starved ogre are very low.

Speaking of things going wrong, any time you roll snake-eyes on an AWD test, your device tries to kill you, shoots mutating magic viral loads into you, and stops functioning. You take 12 Damage (reduced by Toughness) and +3 Mutation, plus the device stops working until you make an easy AWD test and spend 8 shots 'unjamming' it. If you try to use a single AI/O port and a 'splitter' cable to get more devices in you, this happens on double 2s, as well. Don't do that. AI/O ports are free. Take more weird, runic tattoo USB ports on your body goddamnit. Get weird! You're already playing an AWD PC! They also suffer Juncture Modifiers, like everything that isn't MA/Guns, but weirdly they get +2 in both 1850 and 2056, and only -1 in 69 and 1996. Juncture Modifiers are still trash and should be dropped immediately.

So, what do you get for all this bullshit? Well, some of what you get is remarkably useless, in a 'this was never playtested' way. Let's take the Slap Patch. It's a patch of magic skin you slap onto a wound with an AWD test to heal someone, no need to plug it in. It heals them by your AWD AV+Dice Result. That sounds good, right? They then make a bare Constitution check (remember, their Con is probably 5-10, vs. your AWD Fighting AV which is likely 13-15) and if they fail, they aren't healed at all and take 4 Wounds they can't save. Either way, they get +3 Mutation difficulty. And remember, Mutation is based on AWD skill; an average PC has 0 Chi and 0 AWD, so even a Difficulty 3 check is less than a 30% chance they'll make it. All this thing does is gently caress up, hurt people, and mutate them. It's a complete waste of a schtick because no-one in the dev team thought about 'bare stat vs. fighting AV'.

Or let's take the Helix Activator, the Videodrome gun. This is a weird flesh and bone revolver that makes the enemy sprout demonic limbs that try to rip them apart. Sounds cool, right? The limbs have Action Value 10, and attack the character they're attached to every Shot, but lose 1 AV per Shot. At 0, they're reabsorbed into the body. Against Unnamed characters, it's just a normal 'need a 5+ Outcome to kill' weapon. So now you're rolling a shitload of increasingly unlikely to do anything weak attacks for each set of demonic arms you've given someone (The arms also provide -1 to all of the target's AVs per active patch of arms, which is more useful than the damage. By the way, the writer forgot to include a Strength value for the arms so even if they hit someone, you don't know how much damage they do). Also, as well as the plug-in penalty, every bullet fired increases your Mutation. Your target also takes 1 Mutation for every hit.

Sucker Rounds are the same thing: They reduce your damage with a conventional gun by 2, but bullet hits from it cause Mutation to your enemy. Which...is kind of useless for a PC and only exists to put on NPCs to gently caress over PCs with, which is a bad reason to have a weapon in a game.

So far, AWDs are sounding like a pile, yeah? When they suck, they really suck; I suspect they got the least playtesting of the various powersets and were generally the least popular. But when they're good, they're really good. You can get stuff like a robot limb that, when plugged in, instantly sets your Str to 12. Remember: An Abomination can be plugged in ALL THE TIME and can benefit a lot from 'passive' AWDs like that. If it's not plugged in, you suffer -2 Dex, but only with that one arm. Still pretty useful for humans, given you're not likely to spend that many Sequences in combat a session anyway. Then there's Variable Mass bullets/weapons. A VM Sword uses magitek to make itself light at the start of a swing, then increase its weight and force on impact. It's a Damage+6 melee weapon. Get that, Signature Weapon, and a Cyber Arm and you're doing base damage 21 with melee; that's on par with an anti-tank rocket. The Helix Ripper is a huge horror beam rifle with infinite ammo that lets you use AWD to fight directly, doing Damage 15 and ignoring armor (It'll blow through up to 12cm of armored plate without being stopped as it mostly ignores non-living material) and killing the hell outta mooks (It's a huge gun, though, and basically impossible to conceal. Does get lighter when plugged in, though!).

You can get AWDs that gently caress over fu, AWDs that open enemies up to attacks from AW equipped PCs and Abominations (including normal physical attacks from Abomos), you can get a little eye-monster for your conventional guns that lets you use AWD as your Gun skill and gives you more cover since you don't have to peek your head over a table and can blind-fire accurately. AWDs can gently caress over sorcery and help you dodge any kind of attacks that use Chi (Fu, Sorcery, or other AWDs). You can transmit your own pain when you're hit into a grenade and reflect it back onto the enemy. You can just outright take out Creature Powers users with a long-term stun (Again, the Wave Suppressor is the kind of 'ultra hard counter' I'm not too fond of). You can block bullets with mass-produced devil-contract ghosts. When AWD is on, it's on. It just has some big, notable loser abilities. One of the interesting things for AWD is that Abominations have plenty of 'passive' AWDs to choose from; an Abomo with Cyber Limb and VM Sword is murderously powerful even if they're AV 13 to start with.

Any character can learn Arcanowave, but as it uses Magic and requires surgery by someone who knows 2056 and knows Arcanowave devices, it's generally easier to stick to starting with them. The GM is told to make it harder to learn AWDs if the PC is a good person. I suppose the demonic elements of the items don't really like being used for good purposes. AWD users can also sacrifice Mag temporarily to make their devices work better, but doing so is going to lower their AWD AV, which...well, remember, you use that at the end of the session for Mutation, and you don't get the points back until next session. Useful if you want to Mutate, though.

Speaking of mutation, if you fail the Mutation roll, you check a chart and see how much you failed by. If you've failed Mutation rolls previously, you add your current location on the chart to your current failure; it always gets worse. You start to get odder and more mutated until you hit -8 Failure, when you gain the ability to buy Creature Powers and begin to count as an Abomination. After that point, Mutation has noticeable effects: You start losing points from Mind, Reflexes, and Chi and adding them to Magic and Body. Note that points of Chi lost this way won't drop your Magic score, despite it being a substat of Chi. By full mutation at -14, you'll have -2 Mnd, Chi, and Ref, +3 Bd, +3 Mag. If any stat OTHER THAN CHI hits 0 from this, you're retired as a mindless horror. Chi can drop all it wants with no consequences, so Volkov is actually safe. Hey, just toss a point in Transformation so you can turn normal again and enjoy being a weird super-mutant demon-hybrid, that's my advice. Mutation isn't quite as bad as it sounds.

Arcanowave is really weird and most players avoid it like the plague, but it's got its up sides. Also, I'd like to point out the CDCA was fracking Hell long before the Union Aerospace Corporation was making loving around with demons into a weird corporate cult. That said, I would like to see the Doom Slayer go through the CDCA like a weedwhacker some day. That would be fun.

Next Time: It All Comes Together: Combat

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Alien Rope Burn posted:

That being said, yeah, Holmes is written as if he's a good guy, because Siembieda thinks moral relativism is an excuse to eat your cake and still have a cake afterwards, when the actual result of eating a cake is a pile of poo poo. This will be even more confusing when we see his actions in Final Siege.

Holmes is our 'Rommel is the good Nazi' isn't he?

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Alien Rope Burn posted:

The Xiticix were already in a murderous frenzy, which is why Tolkeen presumed them to be dead. Holmes calmed them down by letting his guys hide or get murdered until the bugs decided they weren't that big a threat after all.

That sure was a sentence I just wrote.

Oh of course, I should have realised the Xitic would get bored so easily. Especially when that one Zapp Brannigan maneuver apparently works on them.

FBH991
Nov 26, 2010


Dawgstar posted:

Holmes is our 'Rommel is the good Nazi' isn't he?

Pretty much.

The whole holmes subplot, indeed the whole final siege was the point where even my teenage self really just abandoned rifts.

Even beyond the fact that it's softpeddling nazism to a huge degree, it's just... so dumb, and so anticlimatic. This huge six book series which has been developing since the core book, ends, spoiler, on a whimper, not a bang.

Ixjuvin
Aug 8, 2009

if smug was a motorcycle, it just jumped over a fucking canyon

Nap Ghost


yess

Barudak
May 7, 2007



I don't know if its the books intention but I hate the Zi Ri and I hope they suffer an ignoble fate like having to work at a dairy queen all summer forever.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

It All Doesn't Come Together

So, the powersets actually sound pretty exciting and fun. Archetypes work great for coming up with off the wall character ideas and throwing them in a blender. The time travel stuff means you can put together hilarious, fun-sounding parties that include magic strategy men and hard-boiled gorillas. Everything looks pretty good for Feng Shui, dicey dice mechanics and the hints of combat mechanics we've already discussed aside. What could go wrong?

Basically everything about combat. Feng Shui, a game that is entirely focused around getting into combat and doing cool things, has a terrible combat system. Combat in Feng Shui, if everyone is using their abilities, tends to stall out. It also comes with 'you need to be giving an exciting description of what you're trying to do' attacks, in a game where you're going to probably miss, a lot. And because the description feeds into the difficulty of your combat actions, FS1 wants you to do your combat descriptions before you roll the dice.

So, we've already mentioned some of this because it was essential to explaining some of the utility or lack thereof of things you could get in the power sets, but let's recap. To enter a fight, you roll d6+Speed. That's your Initiative/Shot Count. Most actions in combat cost 3 Shots. Active Defending costs 1 Shot and can be done on someone else's turn, raising your Dodge AV by 3. If you're down to 1-2 Shots, you can take a 3 Shot action without penalty. Most attacks will do Damage Rating+Outcome (how much you hit by), reduced by enemy Armor and Toughness. Unnamed Characters have terrible AVs (usually) and take a +5 Outcome or better to take out. Your base Dodge AV is the highest fighting skill you have, or your bare Agility if you somehow have no high fighting skills (No PC is like this). People trade licks as their Shots go down, with each Shot effectively being a phase of a round.

It seems simple enough, but in practice, if you use Active Dodging (and remember, mooks can Active Dodge too!) you will slow down combat. A lot. Extremely tough enemies will also slow down combat. A lot. Large numbers of mooks (which you need to have any of them survive/have a chance of achieving anything besides just being fodder to style on) will slow down combat. A lot. Yeah, mooks wholly being fodder is fine, but then what about the Gun character who spent a ton of resources on killing mooks on the assumption that was a job that needed doing rather than just a way to remove an annoyance from the field so it doesn't slow everyone down? The mook killing power of Gun is so high that mooks become irrelevant or you have to have a platoon of the damned guys on the field, and remember you're rolling for them all individually. And no-one else can down them anywhere near as quick, so if you have mooks to challenge Gun, others can't really handle it.

Similarly, well, let's look at named enemies. Named enemies either go down like chumps or hang around forever. This is partly because it takes 35 Wound Points before someone starts checking for death. 50 if they're a Bruiser. You can, depending on the Toughness and/or Armor of named enemies, end up in situations where you outclass them clearly but it takes a long time to actually put them down. Alternately, you have an Abomination with a Cyber Limb, VM Sword, and Conditional Escalation (Body, Did 10 Wounds) and they just hack right through them and get bigger as they do it. Or Fu that ignores their Toughness. It takes a mixture of AV and a few other factors to make taking out Named Characters reasonably quick.

AV being what it is also makes 'boss fights' difficult in this system. After all, the main lever that makes a named character stand out is how high their AV is. Big boss enemies from the various factions tend to have AV 19 or better, up to 22. If your players are AV 13-15 and put up against that, well, good loving luck laying a hand on them. While they punch you into next week. If you're outmatched by 2 or more base AV you're in a very weak position against that enemy, especially as big enemies tend to have their own Fortune dice and Fu powers and special abilities from whatever power sets they have. Which also means your solution to fighting boss characters is to gain EXP and buff your AV, which then makes you as badass as them and kind of immune to everything below you the same way. Fights in Feng Shui are usually either complete curbstomps (which tend to be the fun ones) or grind to a halt.

But surely Stunting will let you get an edge on these guys! Stunting is supposed to be a big part of Feng Shui, where you come up with cool, on the spot extra things you do in combat by describing, say, shooting up an oil drum and blowing up a bunch of nearby bad guys. Or tilting your helicopter's rotors forward and lawnmowing your way through incoming Jiangshi. Except there's a problem. First, there's no actual mechanical guidance given on what Stunts can do, beyond 'you can attack multiple characters with a -2 AV, -1 more per extra character you attack'. That's the only firm guidance given on Stunts. Second: Every Stunt imposes at least a -2 AV. More if you're trying to do something more impressive. For instance, in a later book when they start describing how to Stunt a little more, one Stunt attempt is breaking an enemy's limb. You roll at -1 to -3 based on what limb you're targeting, then need a 7+ Outcome to actually cause the break. So...never going to happen against any serious enemy. The kind you'd want to do that to.

Plus, remember the dice system: -2 to an action? Actually a serious dice penalty. Plus, you already have a ton of defined special abilities in your Schticks that don't take any penalty to do. If you're in the kind of fight where you need 'I'm gonna pull his shirt up over his head and punch him a bunch in the gut to give him some Impairment' the -2 (or more, the GM is encouraged to make it cost more if it's powerful or 'seems hard') penalty can make landing the hit very hard.

Also remember that you're supposed to be taking the time to give big choreographed descriptions of what you do, and because the Stunt penalties and effects are GM assigned after you're described what you try, you do it before you roll. I cannot tell you how exhausting it can get to come up with cool poo poo you do in combat only to be met with 'sorry, you missed' over and over. After the sixth time your relatively weedy character bounces off the mostly harmless but implacable Big Bruiser or you miss a dangerous enemy in a high stakes duel, you start to long for just saying 'gently caress it, I hit him, roll.' Feng Shui's combat, RAW, is tiring. I imagine almost every group that ever played this game ended up with some variety of houseruling that would speed this poo poo up.

And let's get into another problem: The Damage System. So, you can take 35 Wounds before you die, and most attacks are going to do like 3-5 Wounds to an average character. Doesn't sound so bad. It isn't, normally. The issues come from a couple other places: One, when you're on the ropes at 25-29 and 30-34 Wounds, you take -1 and then -2 to all AVs, respectively. So as you get the poo poo beaten out of you, instead of having a chance of a heroic second wind or something, you just kinda peter out and death spiral. Because if you were losing at AV 13-15, you're really going to lose at AV 11-13. If you go down to 35+ Wounds, you roll a Con check, ignoring your Impairment from any source, with a difficulty equal to how many wounds you've taken over 35. If you succeed, you stay on your feet, but the next point of damage inflicts another Death Check.

If you fail the Death Check, you drop, and you're dying, anywhere from 6 hours from now for failing by 1, to 15 minutes for failing by 13. If you fail by 14 or more, you die immediately, the camera shifting to your death scene and a sad pop ballad playing over a flashback of your career and its good times. Yes, everyone gets an actual death scene. If you're dying, a character with Medicine can come over and use their skill, with a difficulty of (Your current Wounds-35), to save you. Sorcerous Healing, Slap Patchs (if they don't kill you themselves, which they will), etc can all do the same. Even if you're saved, you're now out of play for days equal to how long you failed the Death Check by originally, and you get to sit in a hospital and do nothing while your buddies try to protect you. Sounds fun.

PCs can also be healed (if they don't have some special rule saying they can't) once per scene by anyone with Medicine or Healing magic or whatever, reducing their wound total by the Action Result of a Medicine/Sorcery/whatever check. Note you can be healed multiple times per scene if you have multiple sorts of healers. So say Dr. Igor Tarantula, MD is wounded; a Mako that's learned the Heal Sorcery could Heal him, and then Zhuge Liang could treat his injuries with normal medicine, but he couldn't then treat himself because he also uses normal Medicine. PCs also heal to full at convenient cliff-hangers or at the start of a new session. They might still be bloodied and battered, but a few bandages and the audience will buy that they can press on.

The issue is this: The only way to actually force an end to combat with a named character is lethal. In fact, you are exhorted later in the GM section to 'never pull punches' and make sure anyone who drops dies, even beloved named characters. What is baffling about this is how the gently caress does THE ACTION MOVIE RPG not have a possibility of a combat outcome where the PCs are captured and then have to break out of prison after learning the villain's plans? How did that oversight ever slip through? How does a game that is normally so great on the actual Genre Emulation side not actually have ways for combat to end in stuff other than failed Death Checks?

The answer lies in the insistence that Feng Shui is a Hong Kong action movie game, and that Hong Kong action is usually more tragic and doesn't pull punches. But I'm gonna be straight with you: Feng Shui is not a Hong Kong Action Movie. It has inspiration from them, you can play a character built mostly on Hong Kong tropes, but there are a lot more genres in a blender here. Sci-fi dystopia, 80s dystopia, western Conspiracy stuff with the Ascended, Fight Club Nihilism Explosion Monkeys, etc etc etc. Feng Shui is really, really not 'Hong Kong Action' so much as it's a huge gonzo genre mashup. I really would've preferred some actual mechanical support for getting captured, because getting captured and breaking out is fun.

So, in the end, FS's combat system is just...bad. Like, bad to the point that players started trying to avoid combat because the character drama was more fun than the dice coming out. If you try to make it challenging or program in any chance of failure, it can drag on forever and the really deterministic dice system will probably grind down the disadvantaged side. If you just make it a curbstomp, it can be fun, but you start to run out of stakes, and it can still take a long time and involve a lot of moving parts for what ends up mostly being a foregone conclusion in describing what happens. The deterministic element is what breaks combat, as is the fact that the designers built around an idea of 'well you only need a 2+ positive result, that's not unlikely', without really working out that high dice results are actually very unlikely and the d6-d6 resolution mechanic tends to settle around base AVs. Oh, and that it's sort of a coinflip even if you do get an outlier result because negative outliers are just as likely.

And with that out of the way, we can get back to the good bit, which is talking about the fluff. Because Feng Shui still has good fluff!

Next Time: loving Chicken Illuminati

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Barudak posted:

I like how RIFTS went from "I love this stupid, wacky setting" to "I can no longer even joke about enjoying RIFTS" and then kept getting worse

I dont even want a copy of the RIFTS SRPG anymore

I had that moment with Coalition War Campaign. It was just the mother of all rear end-pulls.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Wasn't RIFTs originally a setting about being post-apocalyptic heroes in a world without many large states or huge armies, just kinda wandering around trying to put the world back together? Like, that was the original premise, right?

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



At this point in RIFTS: Warcrimes, I kind of want our wannabe Hannibal and his thousands of starving, under-equipped, wounded troops to charge over the mountain and get utterly mulched by the Tolkeen rearguard, who actually can remember the last time they got supplies.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





imagine reading these books and then continuing to buy more rifts books in future

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

Wasn't RIFTs originally a setting about being post-apocalyptic heroes in a world without many large states or huge armies, just kinda wandering around trying to put the world back together? Like, that was the original premise, right?
I think the original premise was a bunch of poo poo that looked cool. Still is!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Another thing to note: FS wants armor to be unattractive for players, because Action Heroes don't wear armor much. So you get an Agility penalty for wearing armor, but a Toughness bonus. Like, +2 DR, -2 Agility for a heavy modern vest. Or +3 DR, -2 Agility for future plastic armor that makes you look like a Buromil soldier.

The thing is, only Martial Arts uses Agility, so, uh. Gun characters, wizards, etc all benefit a lot from wearing armor. When it's supposed to be a bad idea. Put some future combat armor on your ancient Chinese sorcerer! Also, only modern armor does anything. Ancient Chinese armor is there for costuming only unless it's magical.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

So, which books for Feng Shui are actually worth reading? I'm going to go ahead and assume "anything with Greg Stolze's name on it" because that's a given, but.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Rand Brittain posted:

So, which books for Feng Shui are actually worth reading? I'm going to go ahead and assume "anything with Greg Stolze's name on it" because that's a given, but.

Really, most of them. The actual fluff writing for the setting is generally fantastic, it just has a couple overarching issues that are understandable but not hard to write around. Namely, sometimes it will get a little too into the Chi stuff and that can make characters lose agency, and sometimes it will try to get a little too clever with the time travel rather than just using it as what it is: An excuse to have monster hunters from the future fight ancient Chinese wizards, or to see how the colonial British like getting shot up with AK-47s.

Blood of the Valiant (the 1850s book) is especially good because it single-handedly took me from not caring much about the 1850 Juncture to really liking how they did the Guiding Hand, the Seed of the New Flesh is a personal favorite, but they're pretty much all fun. I'd say Seal of the Wheel is probably one of the weaker ones, but some of that is that the Ascended really haven't aged well, since they're the outright 'The Conspiracy Theorists are Right' guys.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




I would like to meet the conspiracy theorist who figured out that it's actually a cabal of mystically enlightened animal people running the world and oppressing humanity's magical potential, if only from a safe distance.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Has anyone done a rewrite of the FS combat rules?

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





How effective a tactic would it be to just put Slap Patches on your enemies and just "heal" them to death?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Xiahou Dun posted:

How effective a tactic would it be to just put Slap Patches on your enemies and just "heal" them to death?

Not especially, but you could definitely try: the 4 damage ignores DR. Though I believe your number of patches is limited.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


megane posted:

imagine reading these books and then continuing to buy more rifts books in future



I presume the majority of fans just look at the cool art then flip over to see what O.C.C.s they can play or robots they can pilot.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Night10194 posted:

Really, most of them. The actual fluff writing for the setting is generally fantastic, it just has a couple overarching issues that are understandable but not hard to write around. Namely, sometimes it will get a little too into the Chi stuff and that can make characters lose agency, and sometimes it will try to get a little too clever with the time travel rather than just using it as what it is: An excuse to have monster hunters from the future fight ancient Chinese wizards, or to see how the colonial British like getting shot up with AK-47s.

Blood of the Valiant (the 1850s book) is especially good because it single-handedly took me from not caring much about the 1850 Juncture to really liking how they did the Guiding Hand, the Seed of the New Flesh is a personal favorite, but they're pretty much all fun. I'd say Seal of the Wheel is probably one of the weaker ones, but some of that is that the Ascended really haven't aged well, since they're the outright 'The Conspiracy Theorists are Right' guys.

I also liked Blood of the Valiant for its take on 'the Guiding Hand is an ally of convenience, not your friend.'

Really, FS is aces in terms of readability. Even the gun catalog has funny moments.

If I had to think about it, at the most Seal of the Wheel (the Ascended book) is probably the most quaint as secret conspiracies actually running things and being the reason stuff is awful is very late 90s as they no longer need to be secret. It's still good, though. Some fun Transformed Animal stuff, even if the poor Tiger never got the love it should have for being a freaking tiger.

Dawgstar fucked around with this message at 16:34 on Jun 11, 2019

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




wiegieman posted:

I would like to meet the conspiracy theorist who figured out that it's actually a cabal of mystically enlightened animal people running the world and oppressing humanity's magical potential, if only from a safe distance.
The Ascended are dead chi, which lives, vampire like, only by sucking living chi, and lives the more, the more living chi it sucks.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:05 on Jun 11, 2019

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