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Nail Rat
Dec 29, 2000

You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you! God damn you all to hell!!

I'm enjoying going back and reading Mors' reviews of Exalted, having just picked it up. I want to double down on his exasperation at the amount of charms.

Especiall evocations. Come on, they're a cool idea but what the gently caress. Who can keep it all straight? The thought of designing evocation trees for each weapon, armor, warstrider, etc. is also maddening.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

That's a Wrap

Feng Shui came out of the 90s a lot better than many of its contemporaries. There are elements of the game's setting that might be a little awkward in play, owing to coming out of a CCG. There are a few elements that don't read quite so well now, like the Conspiracy Theorist angle on the Ascended. But overall? For a 90s game, and compared to a lot of, say, White Wolf's output at the time? Feng Shui's writers deserve to be proud of their writing. Much of the writing is still very solid, very readable, and very fun. Though I can't help but wonder something: When I read Back for Seconds, the 1996 first add-on book for the game, I can't help but shake the feeling the original intention was to have a CCG/event driven metaplot to tie the two gamelines together since Back for Seconds had a lot more 'we're revealing the secret history of What Really Happened in the big card-game plot event!' style writing. But by the time the 1999 Revised Edition and Seed of the New Flesh showed up, Shadowfist was (temporarily) out of print (they refer to as much in the rulebook, hoping to find a new publisher after things didn't go hot for Daedalus Games) and I can't help but wonder if the writers didn't realize they had a solid thing going with the 'snapshot' metaplot and then ran with it from there.

If that's the case, even then? Good on 'em. Running with a good idea is still a good idea. Avoiding a heavy metaplot really, really helped Feng Shui's setting. Same for having the standard hero faction desperately in need of 3-6 Time Badasses to come in and give them new direction. It might sometimes believe its villains' hype a little too much, but on the whole FS does a great job of being a game about your PCs, especially for a game with its origins in the 90s. Even more than the breezy tone and self-confidence, this is one of the reasons FS stands out.

Another part of it that works? Let's look at why Potemkin is so memorable. Potemkin leads a colorful faction of rebels with ape pun names and explosive hijinks. But if you want to take him seriously, he's a scary guy. The way he completely buys the same framework as his enemies but instead puts absolutely anything and everything to tearing it down, no matter what it would cost? The way he's an expert at manipulating and controlling his seemingly random minions? The way he's making an army exactly the same way he was made, despite hating everything about his existence? You can make the joke stop. You can take that character seriously. Despite all the silly surroundings and wild mashup stuff.

One of the things we can all learn from Mad Max: Fury Road is that an action movie can be a stupendous action movie full of exciting car chases, fights, and explosions without being stupid. It can be downright smart. It can have compelling characters and actual drama. If you want to write a more serious main plot in among the madcap antics and time wars of Feng Shui, you've got the tools to do it, like Potemkin. The setting writing is flexible and evocative and full of ideas that can be used either way. You can use it to tell a short story about crazy stunts and hijinks, or you can go deeper and play things straighter sometimes. It's not a one trick pony.

It's also not a pile of grimdark, and again, that's an achievement for something from the 90s. People in FS do awful things, yeah, but there's no piles of sexual violence and menace (outside of some reminders the mob does a hell of a lot of human trafficking). The same self-confidence that makes it unashamed to write a game about kick-flipping off a falling table and shooting six guys with a pair of .45s meant it wasn't constantly reaching for buckets of muck to try to convince the reader it was 'mature'. Bad poo poo happens in Feng Shui, and the villains are willing to kill a lot of people or choke the poo poo out of the world to make it do what they want, but it never gives the impression of wallowing in darkness. It could do with more representation, but judged by the standards of 20-23 years ago? Feng Shui is notable for already treating gay relationships as a normal thing for some of its characters, being pretty danged unflinching that colonialism and Empire are lovely things, and giving you campaign options for shooting up the southern planter aristocracy.

Also, from a mechanical point of view, Feng Shui comes from a transitional period in RPG design. The 90s are as they are partly because they're the time when D&D's dominance not just as a game, but as the model for what RPGs do, what RPGs are FOR, was seriously challenged. Mook Rules were an innovation. They were badly done, but they were an innovation. Trying to design from a point of view of saying yes to player ideas instead of trying to constrain the game? Legitimately a good design goal, especially for what FS was trying to do. It also avoided a lot of the 'what are you supposed to do' problems by having a strong elevator pitch (Are you a bad enough Time Badass to stop tyranny across the timestream? And if you don't care about time travel, do you want to play a show and/or action movie?) and it never struggled to keep a PC group together within its fiction. Schticks legitimately work well as one of the major building blocks of a PC. A lot of FS is an attempt to make RPG play more collaborative, to make the GM and the players partners. The setting's full of badass NPCs, yeah, but even from the word go your PCs are designed to be a big deal. You won't (and shouldn't) punch out Dessy, Potemkin, or Draco from Day 1, but you're not (EXP wise) that far away from them and very little of what's in the setting is genuinely off limits to a PC. There's nobody with 'You Lose' written on their sheet, because this isn't a genre where that would make sense.

The issues come with the AV system and the d6-d6 resolution mechanic being highly deterministic when you actually look at your odds. The variable initiative/action economy thing is still an issue, too, but a little less of one than in a more normal 90s RPG where combat favors the attacker extremely heavily. D6-D6 exacerbates some of the major balancing issues in the archetypes. Say you're throwing an AV 17 boss at a starting party, as the adventure in the back of the book does. Against an AV 15 player, that guy has about 75% odds to hit, 30% odds to be hit; bad odds, but enough people with those odds can overcome them even if it's gonna slog a bit. Now how's that change against the person who picked an AV 13 class because it seemed cool and fit their character concept? If you need a 4 or 5+, you're in serious poo poo. And with a 2-3 point spread between starting AVs, that's gonna come up. A lot. 2-3 AV is an extremely large mechanical advantage. Many of the classes that start with AV 13 don't even get much in return. Consider Zhuge Liang or Volkov. Liang might be hard to hit, but he can't actually do anything back to the enemy as built. Volkov's class was just kinda ill considered, and in fairness: I made him bad on purpose since that's what he was showing off. That you can build your PC bad by accident by picking the wrong class or stats.

Heck, it's completely possible to start with a 'non-combat' class like PI or Spy and have an AV of 10 if you didn't know you really needed to spend starting points on maxing your fighting AV. Similarly: Mind is easily the least useful of the 4 primary stats. Mind is usually used as a resistance/saving stat in combat, and often up against very difficult numbers for it. You simply won't get the same thing from having Zhuge Liang's Mnd 11 as you would out of, say, Ref 11 or Bd 11 or Chi 11. Even if you gave yourself the Ref 11 when you were making your PC and thus locked yourself out of raising AVs by doing so (Ref is useful enough for Speed alone that that can be completely worthwhile).

Even outside of PC creation, the game simply rewards minmaxing. A lot. And makes it fairly easy to do, especially with some of the later material like Hardware Schticks not being that well thought out. Remember: Within 30 EXP, if he suffers through a few sessions with AV 13, Hominid Case can jump to AV 17 overnight due to a mechanical oversight (And a human 10,000 Dollar Man or Cyborg like Volkov with a base 5 Ref can do that even more drastically, being able to jump from 14 or 13 to 20 or 19). In fact, taking the abilities that do it for him at PC creation makes them a waste of a Schtick. An 11 Dex when his AV is locked doesn't do him much good. An 11 Dex when it's unlocked is 60 EXP worth of AV (and anything else he gets for Dex) for 30 EXP. On the Cyborg/10,000 Dollar Man Archetypes? Even moreso. That's a late-material edge case, but the same is true all over PC creation and EXP use. Substats and Stats advancing as they do (with substats following the main stat unless they were already higher, and locked AVs at creation, which exist for a drat good reason but cause problems later) causes a lot of issues where a player can accidentally get a lot less for what they spend than their allies.

Why does this matter? Because someone with AV 15 and a ton of schticks gets to play more than someone with AV 13 and none, the same way a Wizard gets to play more than a Fighter in D&D 3.5. It's hard to properly split the spotlight when one player can do things and one player misses all the drat time; just ask the Big Bruiser. And because stunting runs off of having excess AV (since Stunting runs off of penalties to your base AV to do additional things) if you throw down a foe the 13 character can fight, the 15 character can Stunt on them.

Also, just reading the books...firstly, Stunting is not handled well on its own. For instance, in place of some mechanical guidance about what to do with Stunts beyond '-2 to hit to hit 2 people, -1 more per extra person', the core book tells you 'giving you more would ruin the fun, like giving someone a list of moves in a fighting game'. That's nice and all, I get that they want you not to feel limited, but I'd like a little bit of a guideline on what a point of to-hit is worth, and how to interact freeform stunting with the defined special powers in everyone's schticks. Instead, guidance on stunting focuses entirely on the fluff of it all. There's much more focus on coming up with 'cool moves' rather than what they mean for the mechanics. When you have something that is heavily, heavily 'GM May I' you need to give out some guidance; if a GM imposes too much penalty for not enough benefit, it slows fights down even further and no-one Stunts. If a GM imposes too little and too much, your normal schticks stop mattering and/or most fights end up a curbstomp.

Secondly, one of the other issues with AV and how it interacts with the d6-d6 isn't just in how it skews towards rolling close to your AV. That part is intuitive. Just looking at the base mechanic tells you that'll happen. However, it obscures your actual probabilities, but it does so behind seemingly small numbers. Take the standard stunting penalty; that drops you down to 30% odds of actually hitting if you originally matched the enemy's AV. The +3 Dodge move everyone has? Really, really drops the enemy's chances. More than the books seem to think. I think this is a consequence behind hiding large drops in percentage chance behind what looks like small actual numbers. -1 doesn't sound like much, but it'll take your chances of hitting a +0 AV down about 13.9% (Admittedly, the case with the largest -% chance, since +0 is the most likely individual roll). That's a pretty significant percent drop! It reminds me of how an old 3.5 GM of mine used to say stuff like 'Well, you only need a 13 or higher on d20, this is an easy check'. 40% chance isn't bad odds, but you're still going to fail the majority of the time.

Much like the mooks all still being too detailed and individual (while not actually being dangerous enough to merit it), it just ends up slowing down more than it needs to. Trying to do interesting things incurs a -AV penalty, and those penalties are often quite harsh. Feng Shui never ends up hitting the right balance of light and heavy. Much of the system is still too slow, while being surprisingly undefined and left up to an individual GM who has to try to navigate the balancing issues and patch the holes.

However, and this is a big however. Despite all my complaints, despite all my issues? I still consider Feng Shui an achievement of a game. It deserves to be remembered fondly. So it has a lovely combat engine and a system that didn't think through its core dice mechanic. Join the goddamn 90s club. That's like the one respect where it isn't ahead of its contemporaries. I mean, gently caress, look at Roll and Keep or Storyteller. They're trash-fires. I can at least see a logic to FS's design, even if I think it was wrong-headed. And what it's trying to do is legit a really hard thing to do, anyway; keeping multiple power sets all relevant? Mixing a shitload of character types? Stuff like 'Dude with Gun isn't weaker, inherently, than Genetic Horror From The Future or Wizard or Magic Kung Fu Guy or Ancient Demon'? Those are tough things to get down.

The fact is, the big secret? If my players asked me tonight, when we meet for Friday gaming 'Hey, Night, rules aside, you want to run Feng Shui 1e again and gently caress it, we'll see what happens'? I'd be happy to. Even with all its problems, I have a ton of good memories of where the setting's excellent writing and strong concept and ability to play really wild PC types took the games I both ran and played in. I get my blood up about the system primarily because even 23 years after it was designed, everything else about FS and what it was trying to do is really good. Yeah, there's some fluff issues and criticisms and things I'd change on a matter of taste, but overall? Feng Shui 1e deserves to be seen as one of the great games to come out of the 90s, and I'm glad I played and ran it.

The End

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

/applauds this useful summary.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Right, Forte’s… god this is gonna blow. So, aFOrte are basically like weird subclasses, that’s the best way I can phrase it. Each one is like, an in-universe narrative thing, that gives you story arcs, Joy and Despair (remember, that’s XP requirements) actions, and a tree of abilities. Forte abilities use Sorcery, so More God Stat. Each Forte has an ability tree showing the order you have to buy abilities in, but you can move back in the tree so it’s really just a way to represent pre-reqs because they’re all Spend Crux to Get. Forte also increases your stats whenever you get a new ability in your Forte, which is the main way to get stat increases. Now, why did they make it so stat increases are tied to leveling up your Forte instead of something you can just spend XP on? Who knows. So, these are all.. loving… god. I’m going to condense a lot and this will still be huge because there are over 30 of these things. Let’s go.


You have something called a Fanadon Orb. These are stone spheres about 4 inches in diameter, that enhance magic. Nobody knows where they come from, but they’re thought to be part of the Legacy. The orb has three charges, that you can refill instead of replenishing a stat pool. Most orb-bearers have it implanted into their body somewhere.

The abilities are mostly uninteresting. Feed Upon Power lets you use a charge instead of eating or drinking, Vigor enhances a physical ability for a roll, replenish restores your pools under one stat, the Spell things all basically act like metamagic. Modify a spells attributes, make it cheaper to cast, make it stronger, etc. Nothing noticeably stupid or interesting. I mean it’s cool, useful, but dull as could be.


OK so you can make runes… by breathing them out. Like you can breathe magical misty letters and words and stuff that can store magic and trigger spells. They hover around and follow you. You only get one rune by default, but there are abilities to get more. Rune Breathers often smoke to enhance or hide the runes, depending on whether they want to flaunt or keep their abilities secret.

The abilities are split between “Use rune to give me a +whatever bonus to a roll/defense/stat/whatever” and “store a spell for later use.'' Summoning Rune is the coolest one and it just lets you turn the rune into a summoned being that does one predetermined task chosen when you make the rune. It’s more interesting than Orbs at least.


THis one is… interesting. You can magically imprison people and then… feed off them. They carry around a small magical cage that they can trap entities in. You can only have one cage at a time. You have to keep the cage on you, and people can see who you have imprisoned in the cage. Often Vislae get the cage implanted into their body. That’s actually kind of cool.

So, Durance Vile lets you cage things, the level is the difficulty of the roll to cage them. You can do stuff like refill pools by draining their life force, read their mind, transform into them, use their special abilities yourself… it’s pretty cool. The capstone ability enslaves the entity to your will, even out of the cage. So they can be out and you control them at any range with a thought. Prisoners do get a change every day to break out of the cage… which… isn’t given rules. Like it says they can attempt it, but I don’t know what that means mechanically. Whoopsy! So, this is conceptually kind of cool, but man how do you forget to put the rules for how things can escape your magic prison here.


The Serpent is an incorporeal sort of Magical Snake-God that’s a cosmic being associated with the Suns. It’s snake magic. Like, when you cast things an illusory cobra hood appears around your head, you can do stuff like hypnotize people, breathe knockout gas, make a magical snake head bite and poison someone, etc. Slithering Serpent and Coils of the Serpent are the only interesting ones. Slithering is a long-distance teleportation ability, literally slithering through space-time, and Coils of the Serpent is a magic-buff that also grants prophetic visions.There has to be way more interesting ways to do cosmic space magic.


You're a member of a secret cult that literally loves fire. Like, not abstract, but thinks all fire is part of a singular entity that you literally marry and are now a couple with. You, explicitly romantically, love Fire.

The magic is fire magic. Like, do I have to explain it, it’s… it’s fire magic. Fireballs, fire-elementals, control and shape fire, make fire a solid object, be fireproof, yadda yadda you know how it goes. You are in romantic love with the concept and possible literal entity of Fire, how do you make it so boring as to be just regular rear end fire-magic, goddamn what a waste.


You can magically steal skills and physical ability from other beings. Not like, vampirically. You just can sort of borrow it from someone else in the multiverse, you probably never know who.

gently caress this is boring as hell. It’s literally nothing but bonuses to rolls. Get more bene, get more die, but literally NOTHING that isn’t just a bonus to a roll, no cool narrative tricks, no unique spell-like dealies. Just… Gooder Dice.


Magic Cannibals. You gotta eat the flesh of intelligent beings. Why this is a PC thing, I have no idea, I guess you’re supposed to be regularly murdering other sentient beings!

It’s… kinda cool stuff ability wise. Know something the dead person you ate knew, heal yourself from eating them, shapeshift into the dead person, summon and command their ghost, that sorta stuff. It’s flavorful, but I’d give any PC picking this a major side-eye.


You can talk to anything, even the stuff that isn’t alive. Mostly it’s pretty explanatory just by the names of the abilities. Life to the Lifeless makes something ambulatory and living. It grows legs and arms and gets a face and basically turns into a Beauty and the Beast character. I don’t have an issue with this one. It does what it says on the cover, but what it says is pretty cool. It gives you a novel neat special power and lets you use it in the ways you’d expect and a few creative neat ones, would like if it was in a better game.


You can birth creatures from your gullet. It’s… gross. They’re weird mutant flesh things. Horking up a baby abomination costs Physicality as well as Sorcery, and only last a day by default. You got these by being infected with the T-Virus. Abilities are just higher levels of creatures specialized to do different things. You can infer how it works. Defender boost your Dodge, Attacker can attack stuff, Mount you can ride on and it moves fast, etc. Conceptually it’s cool in a grody body-horror way, but mechanically it’s just making generic weak NPCs to do stuff for you. If there was more customization or flavor I’d like it more, but this is just… the dullest way to implement “Vomits homunculi servants”.


Goth Darkness Wizards. Like you just got Darkness Magic and are a sneaky gothy person who loves the night and consorts with demons and poo poo. Stealth buffs, see in the dark, shoot Dark Lasers, teleport through shadows, make illusions in the shadows, and summon demons. Nothing bad, nothing interesting, just… exactly what you think about when you hear “Darkness Wizard”.


Right so, Logovores are people who can survive by eating knowledge, no other food needed. The problem is that when they eat it it’s… gone. Like, they can “eat” a book and it’s blank now, they can eat your thoughts and you literally have a brain-blank and stop thinking while they’re doing it. They can eat memories and you forget them. IT explicitly states that they’re discriminated against and generally try and hide what they are, because… well duh. Nothing about this seems redeemable. Not blatantly evil, but just, unbeneficial to others in every way. So yeah they can have perfect memories, eat memories and thoughts and books to learn them instantly, etc. Feed Upon Mind lets you straight eat someone’s entire mind and leave them a zombie in exchange for… know ing three things they know. What an rear end in a top hat move.


So, the Noosphere is… I don’t know if it’s a literal physical place but it’s just a fancy term for the universal unconscious. It’s like the psychic network of all minds. Oh, wait, it’s the Astral Plane. People with this forte can astral project into the mind-zone.

This lets you find people through it, use telepathy and other psychic type abilities, mess with people's minds through the noosphere, remove view through them, and at the highest tier you can become a permanent mind-ghost that only exists there but can temporarily manifest a physical body. So… I actually like this one. It’s flavorful, useful, gives you more than just “psychic powers”, and I actually like the becoming a thoughtform stuff.


This one is just stupid. Conceptually and mechanically. You punch people with nightmares. Like, you punch them, and you shoot Spoops into their brains. You have horrible nightmares all the time, and channel them into magicak fistfighting that traumatized people’s minds. Mostly this is just… you can punch gooder. More damage, more accurate attacks, better defense, some combat debuffs like stuns and blinds, there’s even a “You can smash stuff gooder” ability. This entire Forte can just be reflavored to totally mundane martial arts with no issues at all, the “fear” effects are completely tertiary.


You’re possessed by a bunch of demons. They talk to you, but don’t control you. So Invisible Voices in your Head that also give you some superpowers. So many of these are just stat bonuses, like all fortes so far are mostly pissy stat bonuses. 3 Bene to Perception, +4 to Certes, they might be good but they’re so loving BORING. It’s just numbers going up. You get minor telepathy, can mind control something by sending a demon to possess them, and can manifest the demons outside of you as allies in a fight as the capstone. Everything else is just Numbers Go Up. I’m so sick of Numbers Go Up.


You’re a Ghost Wizard. Basically you’ve become like a pseudo-dead and can do some weird Ghost Stuff. Aethyr is like… Ghost Air, the Ghost Field, that sorta thing. Anyway, This one is actually cool. You don’t have to breathe anymore, can see, talk to, and manifest ghosts, fly through the air, turn intangible, punch ghosts, and the capstone is you straight turn into a ghost. Like, your spirit leaves your body, but you can manifest physically at will via ectoplasm and get a +1 to all actions while ghosty. I legit dig this one, good job, neat mechanics and systems and nothing that’s just a boring bonus to numbers. This is what I’d want to have if I was a Ghost Wizard.


So, this is like the Fire-one but instead of wanting to gently caress an element, the element is your Daddy. You’re like the “children” of the sea and it loves you familial style. It’s… water magic. Breathe in water, control water, create fog, water blasts, the capstone is to summon a magical ghost ship that lets you sail between dimensions. It’s actually kind of cool? Feels a bit unfocused though. The magic ship thing is cool, but most of the abilities are dull water-magic stuff. Oh well.

Next Time: The rest of the Fortes. This is the halfway mark, do you blame me for going slow?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I am starting to see why Cube is taking some time.

Because it is a Cube from Hell.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Man those are pretentious. "Fuses nightmares to fist," are you loving kidding me.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


megane posted:

Man those are pretentious. "Fuses nightmares to fist," are you loving kidding me.

My favorite is BEARS AN ORB.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Thanks for the Feng Shui write-up. While I never played the first edition of the game (Atlas had already gotten to it by then so I believe I had 2E), it is still my favorite 'warts and all game.' I'll also play it any time.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Dawgstar posted:

Thanks for the Feng Shui write-up. While I never played the first edition of the game (Atlas had already gotten to it by then so I believe I had 2E), it is still my favorite 'warts and all game.' I'll also play it any time.

Oh, when I talk of 1e, I specifically mean compared to Feng Shui 2; the 1999 version is the one I'm familiar with and from what I can tell, is still very close to the 1996 original. I should have called it Feng Shui 1.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



The Noosphere is also an extremely dumb 80's wizard-themed cyberpunk internet, but also boring.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Night10194 posted:

I am starting to see why Cube is taking some time.

Because it is a Cube from Hell.

Monte Cook: "The box. You opened it, we came. Now you must come with us and play Fighter for our 3 caster party."

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Monte Cook: No F&Fs please, it's a waste of good suffering.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Night10194 posted:

Oh, when I talk of 1e, I specifically mean compared to Feng Shui 2; the 1999 version is the one I'm familiar with and from what I can tell, is still very close to the 1996 original. I should have called it Feng Shui 1.
I believe it's basically just shifting publishers and incorporating some errata and few new schticks and an archetype or two. I'm like 90% certain that the 1996 and 1999 products are, except for the errata details, fully mechanically compatible

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


megane posted:

Man those are pretentious. "Fuses nightmares to fist," are you loving kidding me.

It could be cool, you punch somebody and then suddenly they're taking a test in a class they've skipped all semester.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Not going to lie, a martial arts version of that Shade short from a couple years ago would be pretty dope, but then again so are a bunch of those conceptually but ol’ Monte is incapable of allowing anything interesting to exist in his games.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


The fire lover one's just Ignis from Planescape: Torment, but reskinned to be lame.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I got the feeling that 'thing from Planescape reskinned to be lame' is gonna be a lotta Cube.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017


D6-D6 with exploding 6s is such an obviously bad idea that I really can't forgive it.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

The adjective noun that verbs isn’t a bad way to create the core of a character but having it be another chunk of Race/Class with explicit choices is very Monty Cook and doesn’t work.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Wrestlepig posted:

The adjective noun that verbs isn’t a bad way to create the core of a character but having it be another chunk of Race/Class with explicit choices is very Monty Cook and doesn’t work.

I joked about trying this with our group for Vampire V5.

I got as far as "(My character) is an Agile Nosferatu who Is a No-poo poo Driver," "(Friend A's character) is a Bold Ventrue who Strikes Deals," "(Friend B's character) is a Wealthy Toreador who Creates Art From Horror," and "(Friend C's character) is a Clever Malkavian who Sees Patterns Where They Aren't" before I decided I'm not very good at this (and I didn't feel like coming up with these for the rest of the coterie.)

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





EARTH HAS 4 CORNER
SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY
TIME CUBE
WITHIN SINGLE ROTATION.
4 CORNER DAYS PROVES 1
DAY 1 GOD IS TAUGHT EVIL.
IGNORANCE OF TIMECUBE4
SIMPLE MATH IS RETARDATION
AND EVIL EDUCATION DAMNATION.
CUBELESS AMERICANS DESERVE -
AND SHALL BE CELEBRATED.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Thanks for the great write up, Night! I might try to get my group to play Feng Shui after I port it to FATE or something less broken.

And Zhu Xi (like hell I'm gonna use that spelling) was basically The Dude Who Made Modern Confucianism. To be very, very flip and summarize 2,000 years of philosophy in a joke, he's the guy who turned Confucianism from "Rah rah do whatever The State, your dad, your older brother says (in that order!)" into a real like system of guidance.

And last bit of pedantry in spoilers, I'm not picking nits and just going for the juicy stuff because even I'm aware I'm being annoying by now :

He's a Shaolin (Buddhist?!?!?) master Confucianist who does Daoist magic? (Feng shui, like the actual practice, is Daoist as gently caress.) . That's like being an Evangelical Christian Rabbi head of ISIS. That's three philosophies/religions that had some major disagreements. Like, Buddhism, especially Zen/Chan Buddhism, is pretty big on not having worldly affairs and Confucianism is about how much you loving love your dad and also money and society. And Buddhists and Daoists historically hated each other so much it literally turned into a kung-fu movie trope! It's there in the media you're cribbing from, Feng Shui! Gah!

This is a good game and I would like to play it a lot, but looking at it with even the tiniest amount of knowledge about China that I have, it's loving glaringly obvious no one did research.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Well, people do Feng Shui because magic works and geomancy is a thing.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


To be fair to the author of Blood of the Valiant he had to work with the character who already existed, I think. I have no idea how good or bad the rest of his history is in the book because China is basically a giant glaring gap in my education/knowledge, but it was already a thing from the start/core book that the Guiding Hand were Neo-Confucian Shaolin Monks who had specifically driven any Buddhists out of the ranks of their specific secret society, and Feng Shui in FS is always presented as removed from any religious or spiritual context despite being Daoist, as you say.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 02:36 on Jun 15, 2019

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Oh, I'm pretty sure they did research. By going down to their local movie rental place and grabbing a bunch of movies.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Night10194 posted:

To be fair to the author of Blood of the Valiant he had to work with the character who already existed, I think. I have no idea how good or bad the rest of his history is in the book because China is basically a giant glaring gap in my education/knowledge, but it was already a thing from the start/core book that the Guiding Hand were Neo-Confucian Shaolin Monks who had specifically driven any Buddhists out of the ranks of their specific secret society, and Feng Shui in FS is always presented as removed from any religious or spiritual context despite being Daoist, as you say.

Leading this with I'm not going against the authors, and especially not you, Night, but I'm quoting this for just how insane it is. I get that you are accurately and informatively and humorously explaining a setting that you love (and you won me over on), but this is a perfect summary of how little research the writers did into the writing and why the 90's was terrible for this poo poo.

(Neo-*)Confucians driving Buddhists out of a Buddhist monastery as a secret society is just insane. This is like saying The Vatican was secretly full of Shintoists. It's peak Enh Those Others Are All The Same and just moving them around like they weren't an actual culture. And not that that's bad! (The Vatican part, not the racism.) Secret Shinto Pope would be dope as hell! But it should be done knowing what that means so you can explore it and make it even cooler rather than just writing down some words you got from Encarta and calling it a day.

Sorry I keep harping on this. It's a great write up and game but some of the content keeps randomly making me do that old sit-com thing where I pull at my collar. I'll drop it. But I did get you to say Daoist instead of Taoist so I take that as a small victory**.


*While the two groups are different, it's not really relevant to the conversation.

**I know it sounds puerile as hell that I care so much about Chinese transcription, but the old system causes brain worms that just confuses everything and makes my professional life hell.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Naw, it's good to know when FS was still 90s tier where it was and when it was. It was a lot better than a lot of 90s games, but...well, still the 90s.

E: Basically, anyone with the knowledge to say why something is hosed up/badly done should say so. Always important to confront the things that are wrong with settings/games/fiction we love.

Further E: Another weird thing: After Thorns of the Lotus, almost every time the books talk about 69 AD, it seems like whatever faction they're talking about is trying to expand into Rome instead of bothering to talk about China much, which always struck me as weird. "They're secretly trying to get to X place and ignore 69 AD China" is goddamn everywhere. Outside of the Hand, who seem to be the only ones who actually dive into ancient China.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 03:17 on Jun 15, 2019

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


"I am a noun what verbs." was my suggestion to my players in a superhero game to try and keep their power concepts focused. It kinda worked.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




It really is a pretty nice basic framework to start building a game on. But Cook literally just turned it into a big, weird list of wildly asynchronous feats.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Also the Torchbearer review hasn't died, I'm just dealing with some poo poo.

In the next chapter, I get to give you actual full details on a whole system though! Finally not having to say I'll explain later. (Mostly.)

megane
Jun 20, 2008





That Old Tree posted:

It really is a pretty nice basic framework to start building a game on. But Cook literally just turned it into a big, weird list of wildly asynchronous feats.

My imagination is running wild, I say as I write down "Bob the [Sword-loving] [Swordsman] who [attacks accurately with swords]"

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Ok this isn't part of the proper F&F, but I figured it'd be nice to put one of the Fortes in full so you can see just how blindingly bad they are:


Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





My eyes rolled back in my head in defense.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Did they make that book cost a ton of money so you wouldn't give in to your first (and correct) impulse upon seeing that layout and throw it in the garbage?

megane
Jun 20, 2008





oh my god it really does just give you +2 damage

and his idea of a character arc is "i'm good at defence as well as offence" this is magical it's like an RPG written by a particularly unimaginative eleven-year-old

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege, Part 4- "This flying turkey carver is more powerful and mysterious than a Golem, and goes beyond the known limits of Techno-Wizardry."

Weapons

Yep, we didn't get enough Tolkeen techno-wiz gimmicks in the last books. If only they'd just put them in one book to make them easy to reference... but that'd mean this series might have been... um, organized properly. That's just not the Palladium way.


"Just add fins, instant flying machine!" "I don't think that's how aerodynamics-" "Instant flying machine!!"

  • Portable Bunker (400 M.D.C.): Literally that, a mega-damage bunker with some lasers attached and a handle on top so a dragon or gargoyle can lug it around.
  • TW Volcan Wing & Saucer (290 / 600 M.D.C.): A Techno-Wizard combat jet with a "saucer" attached that's another portable bunker. The jet is more than a little fragile and fires bolts of firey energy or bolts of energetic fire. The bunker has a decently damaging set of magical flamethrowers and mini-missiles, and has magic defenses against lasers and explosions.
  • TW Sling Scout (250 M.D.C.): A Star Wars-esque B-Wing, but more for scouting than bombing. It has lasers, mini-missiles, a wide array of sensors, and is hilariously fragile for a 40 ton vehicle. Also has the aforementioned 100-mile range radar that missed 8,000 airborne Coalition craft. Great scouting, guys.
  • TW Demon Barge (640 M.D.C.): A big hover viking barge with a tank turret that looks to be fit for some snake or scorpion-themed baddie. "I, Scorpyon, will destroy the Coalition!" Does passable laser or lightning blasts and has modest forcefields to protect the occupants.


"Hail Serpentor! Hail Cobra!... and Tolkeen, I guess."

Secret Weapons

Everything's fighting, I don't know what could be considered "secret" anymore, but these are supposed to be uncommon and have not many made, I suppose. The Wunderwaffe of Tolkeen.


"Just add blades, instant war machine!" "I'm not sure that's how engineering-" "Instant war machine!"

  • Wing-Blade Iron Juggernaut (1480 M.D.C.): This is a flying Juggernaut with the whole gimmick of hooking onto targets with its hooks and then going to town with its big wing-blades. (I just took a sentence to boil down what takes the text a literal full page to detail.) Also, it gets ice spells. It actually does decent damage with its melee, which is a rarity, but there are no rules for grappling. Supposedly when destroyed it detonates into a magical explosion that is also undetailed. Guess GMs will just have to... wing it.
  • Millipede Iron Juggernaut (1880 M.D.C.): Technically, it only has 36 legs. It's just a walking talk, but has three torsos with arms that can act independently to fire spells or punch. The punches are supposed to be the most frightening aspect as it goes around rock 'em sock 'eming around, but its flamethrower, plasma cannons, mini-missiles, and earth spells are all more fearsome.


If Rifts had a video game, this would be a boss. Well, if they had a video game anybody played, anyway...

  • Dynamo Armor (300 P.P.E.): An "untested, bug-ridden" Techno-Wizard power armor prototype with only 13 copies made, this is really designed to give spellcasters more P.P.E. in addition to proection, but also comes with some basic combat spells that can be used as well. It also radiates an "aura of power" that makes you more impressive, even though it looks like an astronaut suit. So you're the most charming astronaut. However, for some reason it gets a ridiculous number of drawbacks - blasts are delayed, the heat inside gives penalties, it unleashes energy around it that does collateral damage, gives the wearer megalomania, and... weakens the user after usage, permanently after 8 hours. It just feels like one big barrel of gotchas to keep it NPC-only, but there could have been more elegant solutions than insanity and permanent damage... I know, Rifts, elegant? Hahahaha...


I feel like I've seen this in a comic somewhere.

Next: Do the manta ray.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Wapole Languray posted:

Ok this isn't part of the proper F&F, but I figured it'd be nice to put one of the Fortes in full so you can see just how blindingly bad they are:



why is the rules text written in first person

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


"Fueled by my nightmares, I inflict +2 damage when I attack with my fist. Not an action." For he who attacks with an action has forgotten the face of his father?

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!


Fuses Nightmare to Fist is also just such a clunky-rear end name.

Like, come up with something snappier. Knucklemare, maybe.

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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Fightmare.

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