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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




At least Hero Quest has the excuse of being a good game.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One funny thing, though: Say you get mind-whammied while you had no idea you were under threat and a vampire sets up a long-term scheme where they'll turn you into a sleeper agent and activate you at will.

The next time you spend Conviction for something completely unrelated, you break the spell immediately. Of course it's GM's option if you realize you did so, or if breaking the spell extends past the scene you spent Conviction in, because it's always GM's option if you get hosed over. But the idea of a subtle, cunning vamp trying to make careful plans to plant sleepers among these weird Society of Leopold agents (They've gotta be Society of Leopold, right? Who else would be loving with his minions like this?) only to smugly give the code-word and have it fail without the Hunters ever even realizing they were under a spell is hilarious to me.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Night, its looking like Hunter is similar to old D&D in that you're supposed to avoid engaging with the system instead of fighting and convince the gm to let you destroy the monster via narrative means.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



It took an amazingly long time even for nHunter to mechanically define "I hit the monster with my pickup truck."

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ronwayne posted:

Night, its looking like Hunter is similar to old D&D in that you're supposed to avoid engaging with the system instead of fighting and convince the gm to let you destroy the monster via narrative means.

Very much, but it also doesn't really have much in the way of rules for this. Though one of its fiction bits does have the best vampire kill in the World of Darkness.

Where a guy hacks into the air traffic control computers and manages to get a vamp's red-eye put into a holding pattern until after dawn.

That's what it's expecting you to be doing, but then it has a shitload of rules for combat situations, and it can be tough to even find the monsters, and you have a ton of character types that focus on trying to actually physically fight them in some way, and it's just a mess.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:59 on Jul 3, 2019

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


I'm amazed the vamp didn't get more Assertive as the hours got short, but haha, that's awesome.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





What gets amusing as the books go on and the Creeds are more established is that some of the Hunters in-setting are essentially saying "you need a thief" when it comes to taking down a monster because even the Imbued figure out some powers are more useful than others (and nobody has any idea of the rank 5 stuff at first). Although to their credit they never start saying "You need Cleave" or whatever, but more like 'I hope you got a guy than can do the fire crowbar or the death fog thing.' (Sadly the death fog isn't great, like a lot of the Martyr's stuff.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hunter: The Reckoning

Mercy: Laser cannon, death fog, and soul eating

So, Edges. These are supposed to be the little things you can do that even the odds with monsters. They, uh, kind of don't. Unless they do. A lot. Their balance is all over the place, and outside of the Zeal Creeds, their theming can be, too. Some of them are pretty cool in concept, some are extremely powerful in gameplay, and several of them are :psyduck: as all hell. Also nobody really gets the level 5s, so don't judge anything by them, and when I describe a level 4, remember that's a power wielded by a max level Hunter in that Virtue who took 3 insanities to be able to use it. Ask yourself if they sound worth it.

We start out with the Innocent. Their first power is legitimately very useful: They're supernaturally good at hiding. Ostensibly this is so they can observe a monster when it isn't under threat or pressure and determine what it's like without preconceived notions. Realistically? Extremely useful for hiding and then sussing out their pattern so your buddies can stealth kill them later. Wits+Mercy, TN 6, vs. Alertness+Per, TN 6. If you win, the monster can't see you unless you touch it, yell at it, or something like that. So you can just stand in the corner of a vamp's lair, watching him go over all his plans, unseen. Very good start, Innocents. However, if a normal human enters the scene (like his Ghoul stockbroker) they'll see you immediately unless you were also mundanely hiding.

Their second is Illuminate, which is the most useless of all the 'mark a monster' powers. Per+Mercy, TN 6, basically duplicates Second Sight without spending Conviction...and instantly makes you glow with magic to the monster you revealed and tells them it's you doing that. Also immediately turns off Hide. So, uh. Good luck and start running, you dumbass.

Radiate is broken as hell and doesn't really work for what it's intended for (protect the Innocent!) and instead serves as a group buff so your buddies can gather around you and shotgun a rotting fucker to death in relative safety. When you trigger Radiate, you roll Stamina+Mercy (and remember, you have at least 6 Mercy to have this power), TN 6. For every success you get, you and 1 ally per success (if they stood within Mercy yards of you) gets a holy shield of light that makes attacks against you more difficult. It raises the Difficulty of attacking you by a number equal to your Successes. So if you get 4 or more, you can cover your whole 5 man team or whatever, and make all attacks against you Difficulty 10 (or more, but as 10s always count as a success, it's irrelevant), at which point every die is as likely to get eaten by a 1 as score a success. Good loving luck, monsters! You can't touch Baby Jesus and their shotgun buddies! You may notice Innocents are very good at helping their friends murder people. This is pretty much the opposite of their intended theme, but it's just how things shake out.

Confront lets the Innocent confront a monster and appear to be whatever the monster most values. Spend 1 Conviction, roll Manipulation+Mercy TN 5. For every success, attacking you takes a mojo point away from the monster (They use Willpower for all Monster power sources in this; blood, rage, whatever wizards use). You have to keep looking them in the eye for this to work. They can still kill you, it just costs them a ton for every action and they'll probably pick a different target. Combine with Radiate for maximum fuckery. Useful, but not nearly as good as Radiate.

Finally the holy innocent gets the Orbital Laser Cannon: Burn is an insanely powerful 5 dot attack spell. Spend 2 Conviction and roll Str+Mercy, TN 8. For every success, you inflict X lethal damage on every Supernatural within 5xSuccesses yards of a light source. If you can pull this off using the sun, they take 10 damage of Lethal. Even a flashlight does 5. And this hits a wide area. It also hits everything. And they can't dodge. Once again, well...Innocent has no idea what its theme is in its fluff, let alone its powers, but the idea of the naive dumbass on your team accidentally being tricked into being your team's murder-machine shield generator/spy and then calling down an orbital strike is hilarious to me.

Martyrs suck. They really do. You barely have enough HP to handle getting punched solidly; you really don't have design space for a 'take damage to do stuff' class in Hunter. But here they are, looking sad and mopey, having terrible fluff, getting hosed up.

Demand is their first power and it sets the tone. You suffer 1 Bashing Damage to immediately add your Mercy score to your Strength for a single turn. Not a single action, mind you, a single turn; that can be an important distinction as you can take multiple actions a turn at a penalty. You also suffer the damage before any tests, in case it causes wound penalties, because lol Martyrs are sad, sad people.

Witness lets them see more about a monster than Second Sight reveals; they can tell a little more about exactly how awful something is. They get 10 minutes of better-Second-Sight (but no protection) per Success on Per+Mercy TN 6, and can spend Conviction to make it last longer but given it doesn't protect them and Conviction would last all scene and also protect them this is a stupid move. They also get little visions of past contact between monsters and humans in the area, useful for determining if this is where something likes to take its victims or meet its minions. Not much to do with Martyrdom but eh, it's okay.

Ravage is the Martyr's signature death-fog move where they tear themselves up and then make awful death fog come out, horrifying and stunning humans and hurting monsters. Manipulation+Mercy, TN 7. Humans are stunned one turn per success, monsters take 1 Lethal per success (lol, that's all?) and you take 1 bashing damage you can't soak. A gun is usually better. This works on incorporeal enemies, but so does an Avenger. We'll get to that later. Seriously, this is their big, signature power. And that's it.

Donate lets a Martyr give of themselves to an ally, literally giving them stat points. Spend 2 Conviction, roll Mercy+Stat you want to give, TN 7. For every success, you can give away a stat point. If you give your entire stat, you pass out. Depending on successes, this can last for up to 3 days, and you can't cancel it willingly if you pass out. You can donate any stat except Appearance; no making yourself ugly to make your buddy superhumanly sexy, damnit! We draw a line there! For some reason! If you gave them a Mental stat you get a telepathic link, if you gave them a Social stat you feel each other's emotions. There is no limit on how high you can make an ally's stats with this. However, IF THEY DIE while your stats are in them, you lose them FOREVER. So, I can see the use, but uh...better hope your buddy doesn't eat a bullet.

Payback is the only genuinely cool power Martyrs get and is very GM-may-I despite that. You make a monster suffer a human vulnerability for awhile. Something they've lost. You spend 5 Conviction and roll Manipulation+Mercy vs TN Enemy Stamina+4 (so, uh, good luck). If you get at least one success, you can make a vampire, say, bleed out and die of wounds like a normal human. Or turn a ghost physical. Or turn off a Mage's magic. You can also turn off powers, it doesn't mention that until the rules text. If the monster gets away, it escapes your influence. So...who knows what this will do rules-wise, but conceptually it's kind of neat as a capstone for the Martyr to impose human frailty on a horrible monster.

Redeemers...well, they start strong. Then they go weirder than any other class in the game. This is partly a function of kinnnnd of having everything they need to do their Thing by rank 2. Their level 1 power is just an Active Defense they can use Conviction on that uses Mercy+Wits TN 6; they yell STOP! or NO! and a monster has to hesitate and stop its attack. Note this works on humans, too. You can turn aside a car by yelling at it. Bluster is a decent 'WAIT! GIVE ME A SECOND!' move and pretty useful; you can also use it to stop someone attacking someone else.

Insinuate is thematically awesome, mechanically wonky. Insinuate lets you ask a monster an honest question and force them to deal with it honestly, because you treated them like a human. You can make a vampire remember what it was like, fully, to be human again. You can make a woof remember what it's like not to be mad. This manifests in a Mercy+Manipulation TN 6 roll. Every Success makes the creature's next move get +1 Difficulty, but also makes it remember FEELINGS, powerful FEELINGS that might at GM's discretion make it stop attacking or talk to you. Ask your GM if you can do your job or just give a one-time debuff once per scene! Redeemer!

Respire is the weirdest loving power. So, as a Redeemer, you can heal people with a kiss. You can also, uh, eat monsters' souls with a kiss. Just suck it right outta the jerk like you were Lady and the Tramp and it was spaghetti. Yeah. That's...uh a Redeemer thing. Eating monster souls. To heal someone, roll Mercy+Stamina, TN 6. For every success, you may either make everything you do this whole scene +1 Difficulty OR spend 1 Conviction, each of these you spend (and you can mix or match) instantly heals 1 level of damage, Bashing OR Lethal. You can do this to Hunters, humans, and monsters. You can only eat monsters, though. Roll Dex+Mercy instead and you just start suckin' the juice out of a monster within Mercy yards, TN 6. They resist with Stamina, TN 6. For every 2 successes you get, you gain 1 Conviction from taking their soul, up to your Starting Conviction. For every success you get, they take 1 Lethal damage. No word on if they can Soak this, since it's treated as straight levels of damage and not Damage Dice and they already resisted with Stamina. You can suck out more HP than you hold Conviction if you're just trying to kill them. I have no idea what this has to do with being the person who reforms monsters. This is weird as hell and the most out of place power in the entire game. Yes, even more than Baby Jesus Laser Cannon, they at least had a 'light' theme going. The GM can also choose to make your soul-suck harder if they think you're going to end-run their Methuselah with a little impromptu and unplanned diablerie, too. Because the GM rules.

Becalm is back to sanity. You make it hard for everyone around you to take rash actions so everyone can shut up and talk this poo poo out for a minute. And stop panicking about the way you ate that ghost. Manipulation+Mercy, spend 1 Conviction, and now everyone has to make TN 8 stat checks to actually try violent actions for 1 minute per Success, in a range of 5 Yards per success. Simple, effective, does the thing the Redeemer is meant to do. Maybe they're done being weird-

Nope their level 5 is Suspend and makes them make people unable to teleport or jump into the Woof Dimension for awhile. That's all it does, traps people in the physical plane with you with 2 Conviction and Charisma+Mercy TN 8. Any successes stop people from teleporting into your scene, or jumping out of it. You force them to stay in the world and take a goddamn pamphlet and a goddamn lecture, I guess? I guess that's the point, to stop woofs from fleeing your attempts to convert them? A supernatural 'Lock The Doors, Make Them Listen to The Pitch!' is a weird-rear end capstone for the weird-rear end Redeemer.

So yeah! Mercy: Confused as gently caress about how to be superpowers. I should also point out this whole section starts with the game pleading with you not to play superheroes, and telling you no PC will simply dive into action when they are first Imbued. Despite the game, again, telling you the entire framing device is diving into action at your Imbuing and if you don't you're a failure who doesn't get powers. White Wolf, folks!

Next Time: Vision and Zeal

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?




JcDent posted:

It was this big city that marked the resurgence of civilization, but it fell to a civil war as the war leaders that crushed the remains of Cultrin's army didn't want to stand down. Very little explanation as to why its mentioned in such hushed and spooky tones in the book - you'd think it was Vault 0.

thanks! i sincerely thought it was some kind of underground supervault, especially since that person in one quote said it was like a 'grinder trap of meat and bones' or some weird poo poo

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




So, a brief digression first of all. Why am I doing this?

Well, it's because of multiple things. It's because I'm frustrated by my own inability to GM some systems with mechanics that intrigue me. (This is one of the reasons why I'm having to not comment too much on things - because I don't want to argue that I know better than anything being written, since that would be me claiming I was a great GM, and I don't claim that. Heck, if I believed that I wouldn't have all these GM advice books..)

It's also because our group's current GM is trying to do plot improvisation and finding it hard, and I sympathize, and I'm looking for things that might help him.

But the second reason is that once you get into the world of GM advice, you suddenly realize that there's a ton of grog in the area, and a ton of propagation of fixed assumptions, many of which are also associated with D&D. When freakin' Venger Satanis is writing a DMing book (and it's actually not the worst one I've read) you know there's a potential tilt in representation. The only "modern" RPG author I know who's written a GMing guide is Greg Stolze, and his How To Run Roleplaying Games is fairly brief and low-level.

The third reason is the infamous UKGE 2019 scandal. Just in case anyone reads this after it's forgotten, this revolved around a GM who ran an adventure in which the PCs were gang raped by fiat. It was one of several games he ran at UK Games Expo 2019, the UK's largest hobby games convention, and he was the Room Captain of the section. In a later article, he summarised his prep for a Tales For The Loop game as follows:

Kevin Rolfe posted:

When I came up with the adventure I had two scenes in mind.

One, the lads, drunk or high outside a kebab shop at 1 am trying to get enough money together to buy a kebab and two, the lads naked, handcuffed, covered in poo being chased by men with guns, which seemed funny.

So, while GMs who're genuinely trying are being put off by grog, overprep, or lack of confidence, people like Rolfe are representing the hobby nationally - with that. Am I the only one who thinks this is a problem? I mean, sure, I'm self-interested, but should I really think I'm wrong? Should I really be assuming he's just remarkably talented?

Anyway.



I've had quite a few pointers to this one on the topic of improvised gaming. The author at least uses his actual name - Michael E. Shea - on the metadata, even if we have the strange "Sly Flourish" moniker on the actual book. This is actually the most recent book I've reviewed so far, as late as 2018 - but the "return of" is a clue that this is a sequel to the original book The Lazy Dungeon Master from 2012, although it doesn't say you need to read the previous one. Before that, Shea wrote 2 books on GMing 4th Edition specifically, but other than that, most of his output has been novels.

But ok, let's not talk about the author. Let's talk about that title. I still come from the world where lazy is an insult (unless you're a programmer, and even then it's just a code word for smart evaluation and code generation which is excellent and let me tell you about LISP for a couple paragraphs, where are you going?) even though the book argues that reduced prep actually results in better games. So shouldn't it be The Better Dungeon Master? Even though the argument is repeated throughout the book, it constantly uses the word lazy to refer to the strategies it encourages, and it feels a bit jarring.

Secondly, Dungeon Master, not Game Master. The book admits it focusses on Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, and while it correctly states there's nothing system specific in it, there is quite a lot that is structure specific to that type of game.

We also have a weak start. The Way Of The Lazy Dungeon Master says that the core philosophy of the book is: Prepare what benefits your game, and omit what does not. Ugh. Yes, this is pretty obviously true, but how are you supposed to know if prep benefitted your game without hindsight? If you didn't prep something, and it went fine anyway, how do you know it wouldn't have been better if you had prepped? Blech. Still, the chapter does mention that it's not advocating not preparing at all - although this is on the basis of a survey of D&D GMs from 2016, and doesn't address those games which pretty much tell you not to as part of the rulebook - but that prep should be down to 15-30 minutes for four hours of play.

The Lazy Dungeon Master's Checklist is just a list of the following chapters, so we'll pass on that and move onto the first of the steps: Review the Characters. This doesn't mean looking at their character sheets; it just means noting their names, backgrounds, and motivations, in order to prime your mind before preparing anything else - so that the PCs will be front and centre in anything you set up. Fine. The chapter's 2 pages long, by the way.

Create a Strong Start is about a strong hook for the start of the session, which is divided into What's Happening? (ie, keying the adventure to an external event gives life to the world) , What's The Point? (what makes the PCs get involved), and Where's the Action? - how quickly can you get the PCs involved in doing things, rather than having to start with a lengthy exposition. In fact, the next section advises that every session should start with a fight, because it does all those things together, and inevitably invites follow-up investigation. There's ten examples, and a note saying that continuing an existing adventure shouldn't abrogate the need for a starting hook for a session.

Outline Potential Scenes suggests coming up with a few single outlines for stuff that might happen, even if you don't know it's going to. The idea of this is, first, to inspire thought; and second, to stave off any feeling that you've been taken completely by surprise. Keeping them short means that you don't get upset if you end up not using them. Another 2 page chapter.

The next one is a bit more controversial, and its foreward indicates that it's the main difference from the previous book: Define Secrets and Clues. It's a good idea, but it does internalize the common assumption - which I'm just not sure is right - that every scenario must present investigation and unknown information as the primary obstacle to time the PC's advancement through the story. Anyway, the suggest is: write down 10 potential secrets, and as many clues to them as you can think of. Don't note down where they're found, though - that will come up during the session. Also, the secrets don't have to be true - if the PCs never find them, maybe just decide they don't matter.

Develop Fantastic Locations is the kind of title that makes me cringe, but - thank goodness - it's not actually a dead positive. The author actually provides several items for what makes a location "fantastic". Start with a groovy name, and then come up with three aspects for the location - and yes, the book actually calls out Fate Core as the source of the term "aspect". If you can't think of anything that makes it remarkable, just make it really big or really old. Try to make 1-2 locations per expected hour of play.

There is a section on building fantastic dungeons.. but it's kind of weak. It just says, try to get 5-8 chambers which are built as miniature "fantastic locations", then just grid map them or lift a map from a published adventure. I mean, it's not too bad, but it might not satisfy dungeon crawler players, which presumably you have if you are building dungeons.

Outline the important NPCs is another short chapter; define the important NPCs, give them names, give them ties to the story and/or PCs, and come up with an archetype or description for them. A slightly odd piece of advice here: if you're stuck for an NPC archetype, just take a fictional character and gender flip them. Huh.

Choose Relevant Monsters is our first clue as to the D&D focus of the book, although it does start with a hilariously ironic quote from Mike Mearls admitting that he doesn't use the encounter building rooms he signed off on. There's a bit of text about not using challenge ratings or similar too precisely (although it avoids saying "because they're rubbish anyway"), and then suggests preparing to improvise combat encounters.. but oddly doesn't actually say what that means actually doing, which is odd for this book, which has been doing pretty well so far. There's a subsection on preparing boss fights which has some really good considerations, though, including the fact that the PCs shouldn't gank the boss in one round but should also not be perfectly countered, and an explicit discussion of managing the action economy by making sure there's other concerns in the battle and the boss isn't fighting alone.

And finally, well, the one that really gives away the Dungeon Master aspect of this book. Select Magic Item Rewards, yes, that's the specific title, it identifies exactly that the PC's reward should always involve magic items. Perhaps we were headed to the Cipher System and got off at the wrong station?

So, that's the steps presented, and the next chapter Our Preparation Notes So Far goes over them. And I have to say, I kind of like them too, but as I mentioned there's a bunch of structural assumptions in there which are very D&D focussed. That mystery will be the main guard on PC progress. That visiting multiple locations will be key. That combat will be especially engaging and a focus. One even odder thing is that the review contains a sample set of notes for an adventure, but it actually gives specific numbers of each monster types - like "there are 24 hobgoblins". Is that one encounter, or spread out? Well, who knows. Maybe it's meant to be adapted, which is understandable, but that's a big action economy issue..

Reduce The Checklist suggests that prep can be reduced even further with experience, and that the only critical steps are the strong start, the secrets and clues, and the locations. Scene outlines tend to be a security exercise; you always have to improvise NPC reactions; you get more familiar with monsters and magic items over time. Also, the chapter opens with a quote from Never Unprepared, but unfortunately it's one of the empty ones.

Other High-Value Preparation Activities gives 4 quick things that you might find that apparently deliver good results at the table: handouts, maps, art, and music. Again, there's a lot of assumptions about the style involved here.

The Lazy Dungeon Master's Toolkit isn't really much to do with improvisational GMing at all; it's a list of things to use when GMing. A GM screen, a dry-erase flip mat, maps and terrain if they're your thing, and a lengthy love letter to 3x5 index cards as mechanisms for taking notes and tracking initiative (there's that D&D again). I mean, it's ok, but it doesn't really fit with the theme of everything else.

That's most of what this book has to say on prep, but it's not the end - there's a whole section coming up on actually running, which we'll take a look at in the next post.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Hunter feels like they hired four different writers to write a game about hunting oWoD monsters with no other prompting and minimal communication and then when the deadline for the book came up the editor just grabbed all their notes and stitched them together with a bunch of pictures of dudes kicking monster rear end.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Respire makes me think of a Kirby themed hunter.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Ratoslov posted:

(Every oWoD book) feels like they hired four different writers to write a game about (being a wolf or vampire or whatever) with no other prompting and minimal communication and then when the deadline for the book came up the editor just grabbed all their notes and stitched them together with a bunch of pictures of (wolfs/vampires/etc.) kicking rear end.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Ratoslov posted:

Hunter feels like they hired four different writers to write a game about hunting oWoD monsters with no other prompting and minimal communication and then when the deadline for the book came up the editor just grabbed all their notes and stitched them together with a bunch of pictures of dudes kicking monster rear end.

It reads exactly like that, too. Night10194's summary is the polar opposite of the garbage source text - clear, coherent and concise.

And that conviction section was exactly the sort of tear-down I was anticipating. Hunters get One Incredibly Cool Thing - then they go and commit every possible system fuckup with that Cool Thing - "GM May I?", "Consumable Resource as XP", and a slightly novel one with the whole "Your conviction refreshes to your archetype's baseline, so buying extra conviction points at chargen is a trap!"

I bought my copy at a 75% price clearance sale years ago out of curiosity, along with Hunter: Moonstruck (woofs) and Hunter: The Infernal (oWoD demons, not the cool nWoD ones) - I pity anyone who got them at full price expecting a good game.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!




In Nyambe-tanda, Prestige Classes are a cut above the common crop, associated with specific organizations and special trainers to separate them from the more general and self-taught core classes. We first start off with looking at what existing PrCs can convert to Nyambe, and given this is 3.0 won’t include such vaunted options as the Archmage, Arcane Trickster, and so on. Arcane Archers are renamed Arcane Shongo, unthaltu warrior societies who specialize in throwing blades. The Assassin’s arcane magic association makes them explicitly tied to the Kosans and their descendants. Dwarven defenders are found among the utuchekulu and are not proficient with heavy armor, and Shadowdancers are limited to the kitunusi. Loremasters are those renowned for being repositories of generations’ worth of knowledge, and they are most common among women in Nibomay on account of being the oldest surviving Nyamban civilization.

A peculiar thing about Nyambe’s Prestige Classes is that they all have their own spellcasting progression rather than adding effective caster levels to the existing base class. In most cases this is a bad option mechanically as it stunts a character’s spellcasting progression, but a few of the ones in this book go all the way up to 9th-level spells in a 10-level PrC. This is a bit weak early on, but at mid-higher levels is on par with other primary casters and include the Mganga, Soroko, and Zombi Cultist. The other classes go up to 5th or 6th-level spells, with the exception of the Dembe who goes up to 4th-level much like the Ranger.




Dembe, Engolo, Mganga, and Ngoma: I’m grouping these four prestige classes together on account that they are “prestige” versions of existing D&D core classes and do not noticeably differ from them save in a few areas. Dembe are rangers, members of monster-hunting societies. In addition to favored enemies they also gain Favored Terrain granting them bonuses on skill checks in certain areas, a concept which standard 3.X would not see until the advent of Pathfinder. Engolo are ritualized wrestlers whose traditions originated among the NaBula people, and their AC bonus increase only triggers when someone is playing a percussion instrument nearby. Engolo also become immune to all forms of nonlethal damage as a capstone 10th level ability. The Mganga are witch-doctors who specialize in fighting evil magic, but statwise they cast spells from the wizard spell list which are treated as divine instead of arcane magic and gain familiars instead of fiendish servants. Finally, the Ngoma are divine bards who invoke the powers of the orisha through dance, music, and/or poetry. Their bardic knowledge is reflavored as secrets the orisha whisper to them.


Inyanga Yensimbi: Known as “doctors of iron” in the Kordo language, these artisans possess a supernatural knack for working with this holy metal. They are a 5-level PrC which needs the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat to quality and 5 ranks in related Craft skills, so they’re easy to enter. They can cast cleric spells of up to 5th level, and most of their class features are background or downtime related: +10 bonus to crafting non-magical iron items, reduced XP cost for crafting magic iron arms and armor, and learning how to craft an iron golem cheaper than usual as their capstone ability. Some of their more ‘active’ class features include their skin toughening up to be a natural weapon and natural armor bonus or the ability to spontaneously convert spell slots to heat metal or rusting grasp spells.

Overall this class is too situational and weak for most adventuring parties.


Leapord Cultist: The Leopard Cult originated as an anti-immigrant group in Kaya Vua Samaki seeking to drive Far Easterners off of their shores. Over time they became compromised by real wereleopards to the point that they’re now a fiendish cult operating like an organized crime syndicate. The prerequisites are easy: 1 rank in Control Shape and must be a wereleopard. Their 5 levels have a host of useful abilities, from retaining full intelligence and memory in any shapechanged form, enhanced natural attack damage, immunity to spells which reveal their true form, and Damage Reduction 15 as their 5th level capstone ability which can only be overcome by animal horns and weapons made from such material.

Overall a strong class, but since wereleopards are evil this is not exactly PC-appropriate.


Magic-Eater: The magic-eaters are part of an organization dedicated to the eradication of all arcane spellcasters in the Kaya Vua Samaki region, both mchawi and sei. They are a rather humanocentric organization, dismissing demihumans automatically save in a rare few situations. In order to gain their first level and further levels in the PrC, a Magic Eater must undergo a ritual vision where they learn the location of a powerful mchawi. They must kill this spellcaster and bring back their hearts to an elder in the organization.

In exchange, the Magic-Eater is a martial class with no spellcasting ability, and gain a very high Spell Resistance (10 + twice their PrC level) against arcane magic and spell-like abilities. Their signature ability is to “eat magic” with a touch attack: initially this takes the form of automatically making a target lose their highest-level spell slot, but can be used to auto-cancel spells affecting the target (positive or negative) and regain hit points for every spell the Magic Eater “eats.” At 9th level they can cast mage’s disjunction on arcane magic items (permanently render them nonmagical), and their 10th-level capstone lets them “eat” 1d4+1 spell slots at a time.

Overall a pretty strong class for a noncaster, although their organization’s anti-arcane nature means that you better not have a sei or mchawi in your party if you want to join.


Mask Maker: Not any one organization per se, mask-making societies are popular all over the continent. They are fraternal male-only orders who build magical masks with which a spirit can be channeled. In some areas they rule over communities as a form of shadow government, using their masks to adopt alternate identities.

The Mask-Maker is a 5-level PrC and can cast spells from the cleric list of up to 5th level. Their special abilities are much like the doctor of iron, being able to craft masks with less GP and XP cost and gain Skill Focus (Craft-Masks) as a bonus feat. Their later-level abilities include the ability to permanently meld a mask into their face, effectively wearing it as a slotless item and are able to bestow this upon others as the capstone ability.


Nibomay Amazon: One of the iconic martial traditions, the Amazons are called the Ahosi among their own and perhaps the most famous warrior society in Nyambe. They only accept women, but the prerequisites are otherwise lax requiring Exotic Weapon Proficiency in their two signature weapons: the greatbow and razor sword. They are a noncasting martial class with a host of good abilities: increased aid another bonuses, an at-will AoE fear-generating war cry, the abililty to move their normal speed and full attack on the first round of combat, and can accept temporary ability score damage to Charisma via ritual scarring and gain an equivalent bonus to one of their physical ability scores. Their later level abilities include more miscellaneous utility effects, such as casting true strike 3 times per day and granting their greatbows and razor swords the equivalent of the vorpal weapon quality: insta-kill on a critical hit.

The ritual scarring is great for self-buffing, but I cannot understate how amazing it is in 3rd Edition to full attack and move. Traditionally, characters could only make multiple attacks per round if they moved no more than a 5 foot step or managed to down an opponent with Cleave. Pounce is traditionally a monster-specific ability, but when you can move 30 to 60 feet and make 2 to 5 attacks it really opens up mobility options for martial characters.


Soroka: Commonly known as poison oracles, soroka are spellcasters who enhance their divination spells via analyzing the death throes of a poisoned animal, seeing ominous portents in their seemingly random spasms. Unlike standard D&D, poison use in Nyambe is not inherently evil and the soroka find their talents in high demand.

Although they are a primary caster, they have a whopping d12 hit die and can learn any spell from the cleric, druid, or sorcerer/wizard list provided it is of the divination school. They use mojuba bags but are divine casters. Their trademark feature is Poison Divination, where if a creature within 30 feet dies from poison they can absorb its energy to cast a divination spell without wasting a spell slot. This can even apply this to spells they do not have prepared, but is otherwise limited by level based on the killed creature’s hit dice (total HD divided by 2, round down). However, you must limit your sacrifices to non-sentient monsters if you’re not of evil alignment.

The soroka’s other features are minor, relating to crafting poisons without needing raw materials (but time and Craft checks still apply), gain immunity to poison and poison weapons without accidentally poisoning yourself, etc.

This PrC is one I like, for it both naturally fits within the setting lore and is a potent class option. One of poison’s largest drawbacks in 3rd Edition was its expense, costing hundreds or thousands of gold pieces per dose. Although restrictive, the ability to potentially gain infinite casting of divination spells under proper circumstances really opens up utility options for adventuring parties.


Zombi Cultist: Our final Prestige Class is restricted to those of evil alignment, meaning that is NPC-only in most campaigns. This is especially true given that you must kill and reanimate a loved one to prove your devotion. The description is exactly what it says on the tin: you’re an evil necromancer who gave up your traditional magic and disciplines for increased power over true zombis. The class is caster-centric with its own 9-level progression and is able to cast any necromancy spell on the cleric and sorcerer/wizard lists but are treated as divine spells. They also apply the True Zombi template on undead they animate, gain the ability to control more Hit Dice worth of undead at once, a “lifesense” blindsight out to 30 feet, scaly skin that grants a natural armor bonus, an extra cleric domain related to Zombi’s portfolio (Death, Evil, Magic, or Serpents), and gain natural fang attacks which are permanently imbued with Strength-draining poison.

While the loss of typical spellcasting class progression is a bit of a downer at early levels, the ability to be an even better necromancer with more undead minions has always been a strong option in 3rd Edition.

Thoughts So Far: I have mixed feelings about the new Prestige Classes. The “like a core class but prestige” feels unnecessary, and I feel that the mganga could’ve been incorporated into the mchawi core class as a non-evil option. Several of them seem inappropriate for adventuring dungeon-delvers and more in line with the kind of characters said adventurers buy supplies from when visiting civilization. I liked the Magic Eater, Nibomay Amazon, and Soroka the most on account that they are both effective and appropriate for a broad variety of PC parties, while the Leopard and Zombi Cultists make for potent villains.

Join us next time as we peruse the new skill uses and feats in Chapter Six!

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Amazons sound like they kick all kinds of rear end - now imagine them backed by a Sei who picked up 3rd edition's broken as gently caress Haste, maybe Eagle's Splendor to give them even more charisma to burn for combat buffs.

I'm imagining every fight where the Sei casts their buffs, then sits back and sips tea while their Amazon friend goes Maximum Warrior Princess on some poor monster.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Seatox posted:

Amazons sound like they kick all kinds of rear end - now imagine them backed by a Sei who picked up 3rd edition's broken as gently caress Haste, maybe Eagle's Splendor to give them even more charisma to burn for combat buffs.

I'm imagining every fight where the Sei casts their buffs, then sits back and sips tea while their Amazon friend goes Maximum Warrior Princess on some poor monster.

Given that the original Amazonia was a sorcerer too, so we can totally see how they otherthrew the Kosans.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?




So I was reading Promethean: The Created 2nd edition and I noticed a gently caress up that's pretty bad. There's the option to play using the bad guy powers, the Centimani, who are the 'hundred handed ones' who think its actually cool to be a superpowered frankenstein and don't want to turn into a human, and they get all the cool mutation powers and the option to control the jacked up half-frankenstein guys called Pandorans who are usually just feral and going hog wild. They also don't follow the Pilgrimage mechanic, cause htye don't want to turn into humans.

The mutation set of powers is actually just one power, the ability to take Pandoran skills which are all stuff like 'get more arms' or 'be spiky', and you can pick how many dots you want in those powers and they scale accordingly. Normally the change is temporary, but you can spend Vitriol points to make those mutations permenant.

Vitriol points are like special xp, but you only get them by completing milestones on the pilgrimage. Which you can't do as a Centimani. so uh, enjoy not getting to use your mutation power you invested in.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



juggalo baby coffin posted:

So I was reading Promethean: The Created 2nd edition and I noticed a gently caress up that's pretty bad. There's the option to play using the bad guy powers, the Centimani, who are the 'hundred handed ones' who think its actually cool to be a superpowered frankenstein and don't want to turn into a human, and they get all the cool mutation powers and the option to control the jacked up half-frankenstein guys called Pandorans who are usually just feral and going hog wild. They also don't follow the Pilgrimage mechanic, cause htye don't want to turn into humans.

The mutation set of powers is actually just one power, the ability to take Pandoran skills which are all stuff like 'get more arms' or 'be spiky', and you can pick how many dots you want in those powers and they scale accordingly. Normally the change is temporary, but you can spend Vitriol points to make those mutations permenant.

Vitriol points are like special xp, but you only get them by completing milestones on the pilgrimage. Which you can't do as a Centimani. so uh, enjoy not getting to use your mutation power you invested in.

That's not a fuckup. You can steal Vitriol from other Prometheans. It's a physical object.

Centimani who want to get permanent powers have to start killing and eating their own.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?




Mors Rattus posted:

That's not a fuckup. You can steal Vitriol from other Prometheans. It's a physical object.

Centimani who want to get permanent powers have to start killing and eating their own.

oh dang, thats actually pretty cool. i wish it said anything about that under the 'vitriol' section of the rulebook.

edit: i should say that by white wolf standards promethean is very well laid out, but they still do some weird poo poo.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


A question for people who know Woofs and Vamps more than I do: In their oWoD sourcebooks, do they Soak Lethal damage if it isn't from silver/fire/whatever? I'm noticing some weird contradictions in Hunter if they do or don't and I wouldn't put it past Hunter to just forget that it needs to say it.

Pieces of Peace
Jul 8, 2006
Hazardous in small doses.

Night10194 posted:

A question for people who know Woofs and Vamps more than I do: In their oWoD sourcebooks, do they Soak Lethal damage if it isn't from silver/fire/whatever? I'm noticing some weird contradictions in Hunter if they do or don't and I wouldn't put it past Hunter to just forget that it needs to say it.

Yup. Both Woofs and Vamps in oWoD added Stam to soak Lethal. Mages didn't but didn't care because they could do it magically, I think Demons, Changelings, and Wraiths either did or conditionally did. Pretty default for all the non-humans.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ah, it was hidden away because this book is badly organized: GUNS don't do lethal damage to vamps or woofs or zombies in Hunter and they don't have specific Bestiary abilities to soak it most of the time, but a katana under your trenchcoat will and most of them can't Soak it.

That's gonna alter the Can Wil Kill It math when I get to the Bestiary. I should also note the concealability of weapons has a specific 'can hide it in a trenchcoat' entry. Oh, WW.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Wait, I just checked: there's no mention of aggravated damage in Hunter: The Reckoning? When did that concept enter the Storyteller system?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Pieces of Peace posted:

Yup. Both Woofs and Vamps in oWoD added Stam to soak Lethal. Mages didn't but didn't care because they could do it magically, I think Demons, Changelings, and Wraiths either did or conditionally did. Pretty default for all the non-humans.
Going from memory: Garou and vampires can soak lethal just by showing up. Mages can't by default but can do stuff like using Life magic or something. Wraiths I think can soak lethal damage if it's coming from a Shadowlands source like a relic fire axe, but against almost all Skinlands damage sources they lose 1 temp corpus level and become intangible. (Risen work like vampires.)

I think a vampire who fills up on Lethal enters torpor rather than dying outright; it's just that entering torpor due to a gunfight probably kills you unless it was some completely accidental mishap. Vampires can also be completely destroyed if they get decapitated or some comparable source of massive lethal damage, although a guy with four dots of Fortitude might get judged differently than J. Random rear end in a top hat, sans Fortitude.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Basically a lot of the judgement on 'Can Wil Kill It' (and remember, Wil is the character WW is afraid of and does not want you to make under any circumstances) comes down to 'Did Wil win Init?' and 'Did Wil start in melee range' and 'does it have an assault rifle'. It is entirely possible for him to lop the head off an ancient woof in one blow RAW. A little unlikely, but doable.

Avengers represent.

Also if a vamp or woof gets a turn they will kill him. Had I built him better and remembered how Init works, I'd have given him 4 in Wits for more Init.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Seatox posted:

Wait, I just checked: there's no mention of aggravated damage in Hunter: The Reckoning? When did that concept enter the Storyteller system?

Revised edition, so 1998-ish.

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


Seatox posted:

Wait, I just checked: there's no mention of aggravated damage in Hunter: The Reckoning? When did that concept enter the Storyteller system?

I think I remember a sidebar about that in one book or another. The thought was that Hunter worked out ok with just Bashing and Lethal, and that Aggravated damage was unnecessary in a game where the PCs didn't have special weaknesses. I think every other game at that point in the line had the distinction between Bashing, Lethal, and Aggro, though, so it's weird that this is where they decided against granularity.

One of the odd things about werewolves in their own line was their ability to soak every kind of damage (except for silver, which did unsoakable aggravated damage) by default, so even supernaturally dangerous things that did aggravated damage were quite a bit less dangerous to werewolves than to anybody else. That might be part of why they simplified damage in the bestiary- even if Hunter stuff does aggravated damage, then in Werewolf rules terms it still doesn't really make it dangerous enough.

E: I say every game, but Wraith probably didn't since Wraith was taken out back behind the woodshed right before Hunter was released.

Just Dan Again fucked around with this message at 04:03 on Jul 4, 2019

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Just Dan Again posted:

I think I remember a sidebar about that in one book or another. The thought was that Hunter worked out ok with just Bashing and Lethal, and that Aggravated damage was unnecessary in a game where the PCs didn't have special weaknesses. I think every other game at that point in the line had the distinction between Bashing, Lethal, and Aggro, though, so it's weird that this is where they decided against granularity.

One of the odd things about werewolves in their own line was their ability to soak every kind of damage (except for silver, which did unsoakable aggravated damage) by default, so even supernaturally dangerous things that did aggravated damage were quite a bit less dangerous to werewolves than to anybody else. That might be part of why they simplified damage in the bestiary- even if Hunter stuff does aggravated damage, then in Werewolf rules terms it still doesn't really make it dangerous enough.

E: I say every game, but Wraith probably didn't since Wraith was taken out back behind the woodshed right before Hunter was released.

I brought that up mostly because a lot of the Edges under a better system would and should probably have "If you risk conviction on this, it deals agg damage" as part of their thing - so even if you beat down a vampire and it gets away, it's horribly scarred by hard to heal supernaturally inflicted damage, instead of being able to just nip around the corner and eat a bystander to patch up their wounds.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Libertad! posted:

Given that the original Amazonia was a sorcerer too, so we can totally see how they otherthrew the Kosans.

I don't even care that a Fighter is still suboptimal for a dozen reasons, just being able to move around in combat would make one so much more fun to play. The whole 'you gotta plant feet to actually attack a lot' thing that afflicted so many games of that era (including my beloved WHFRP2e) is so goddamn annoying.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Night10194 posted:

I don't even care that a Fighter is still suboptimal for a dozen reasons, just being able to move around in combat would make one so much more fun to play. The whole 'you gotta plant feet to actually attack a lot' thing that afflicted so many games of that era (including my beloved WHFRP2e) is so goddamn annoying.

It's insidious caster supremacy nonsense, really. "If the perfect being (wizard) must stand still to cast their super-win-fight spell, so must the peon fighters be rooted to the spot for their Full Attack! None may overshadow the supreme beings!"

Stephenls
Feb 21, 2013
[REDACTED]


Joe Slowboat posted:

Personally I really like the idea that Toreadors are fundamentally uncreative, that biting a fantastic new artist young actually freezes their development as an artist. But then I'm coming from Chronicles games where vampires are pretty much guaranteed to be a net negative in the world; player characters who buy into the idea that actually vampires are preserving artistic genius forever would have a really interesting hook there, and the clan would have a deep well of bitterness hidden by the glitz. But also you'd need some way to actually make that hook gameable, which I imagine Masquerade wasn't hugely prepared to do.

Halloween Jack posted:

Honestly, I'm not a fan of that bit of Requiem. Unlife already makes it virtually impossible to be a good person, without them flat out saying "Your soul is dead, your mind is frozen in time along with your body when you die, you can never grow or experience everything real." Like, first, how do you play that and do you really want to play a campaign where it's The Sopranos, but Everyone is Tony.

Second, it just felt like they only said it to hammer home that they don't want you to play Superheroes With Fangs like you did in late-era original World of Darkness. I get it, White Wolf, I promise to be good, I will not play a guy who carries a sword around in his coat.

I just want to point out here that Requiem Second Edition removes the whole "Your soul is dead and your emotional maturity is frozen" thing, and also very carefully avoids stating that a blood point is a pint of blood, but is merely "The amount of blood that would result in an injury that could heal in the amount of time it would take to heal one lethal health level of whatever severity you inflict during feeding." In Requiem 2e it's entirely possible to live as a vampire with two people to feed from voluntarily, take a blood point from each of them on alternating days, basically be the equivalent of a light cold on both of them, and otherwise do no harm.

...

Also, unrelated to that and on the Hunter art thing, my understanding is that some of the team wanted an action game and some of the team wanted a psychological thriller underdogs game where violence is the refuge of the desperate and doomed, and it was decided to split the difference and make the art the action game and the text the desperate psychological doomed thriller game. My suspicion is that it was split that way because, back when Hunter: The Requiem was being published and FLGSs were a thing and people bought books because they flipped through them at the game store and thought they looked cool, a game book's art was basically its attract mode.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


There's a cute little story interlude about the Sleeth Rrengra visiting our friend Azliet and meeting her family. It shows off the difference between Cani lifestyle, a large family living communally and sharing responsibilities, and the Sleeth lifestyle of total self reliance. There's a glimpse into domestic appliances; they have an expensive magical stove (provided as a wedding gift), and a cistern with a minor water-creation enchantment on it. Rrengra, being a fire mage, disapproves of the fireproofing enchantments that were placed on the walls, and will redo them herself if asked.

Mostly, though, I just think it's kind of a cute picture. Puppies!



Part 6: Can We Play Yet?
Or: Basic rules for anxious players.

So, we're on page one hundred and loving four, and we're just now getting to any mention of the rules. Not going to lie, having to flip a third of the way into the book to even start looking something up makes this kind of a pain in the rear end as a reference. This really is a work that wanted to be split up into multiple books, but obviously that just wasn't feasible. Still, since chapter 6 is intended to be a basic rules primer, I really think it should have been at the front of the book to give the reader some context for all the world building coming up.

ROLEPLAYING
The obligatory "here's an explanation of what the thing you've already purchased actually is" section. Most of the players are players who take the roles of the chief characters of the story, one person is the gamemaster that does everything else. It brushes against the whole 'the gamemaster is omnipotent' trope, but eh, doesn't lean too hard on it. Not too bad, for a product of its time.

It does emphasize that World Tree is primarily a cooperative game. Even if the characters find themselves in conflict, the players and the gamemaster should remember they're working together to have fun and create a story. On a storygame pretentiousness scale, I rate it maybe a 3/10 at most.

CHARACTER CREATION
A little unexpectedly, the assumption is that, at least for the first game, you'll be playing a premade character prepared by the gamemaster. The more I think about that, the more it makes sense. Chances are if you're the gamemaster trying to get some players on board to play with you, you're either trying to convince your RPG friends to play this furry thing, or you're trying to convince your furry friends to try this nerd dice thing. Either way, asking them to get on board with the (rather complex as we'll see later) character creation may be a bit much of an ask.

Another interesting aside is that the text straight up says that you the player are responsible for remembering what the hell is written on your character sheet. You're the one who's looking at it, and the gamemaster has other things on their mind so if you're not paying attention and forget that you're immune to poison when the snake bites you, then gently caress you you're poisoned. You can't see it over the forums but I've giving a dirty look at literally every player I've ever GMed for.

DICE
World Tree has a lot in common with the d20 system, which... didn't exist yet when this was written. Die rolls come in two varieties: simple and stress. A simple roll is marked as d20, d6, or whatever, and is just roll a die, get a value. A stress roll is marked as s20, s6, or whatever. You use stress rolls in the same way, except that the dice are exploding. If you roll the maximum value, roll again and add the new roll, possibly repeating if you get max value again. If you roll a 1 on the initial roll, then you risk botching. Roll some botch d6s (almost always just one d6, unless you're doing something extra dangerous), and if the botch die is also a 1, then your failure is worse than normal. So, yeah. Critical fumbles. 1/6 as likely, but still critical fumbles. Oh, well, people like them for some reason.

ATTRIBUTES AND SKILLS

Attributes are basically stat mods from d20, except without being derived from a vestigial 3d6 roll. An attribute of 0 is average, -2 is poor but not crippling, +3 is good enough to stand out, +5 is outright impressive. There are 10(!) attributes- Strength, Stamina, Dexterity, Agility, Perception, Faith, Memory, Wits, Will, and Charisma.

Skills are your learned or acquired abilities. Skills start at 0 untrained, 5 is a respectable amateur, 10 is starting professional, and 15 is an expert in the field. There's a whole lot of skills, divided into 9 groups. 3 of the groups are magical in nature- Verbs, Nouns, and Magic (a catchall category for general magic knowledge, as opposed to kill in an Art). The nonmagical skill groups are Fighting, Athletics, Rogue Arts, Social, Crafts, and Knowledges. Because of how experience works, the groups sort of serve as cross-training categories; experience you earn for using a particular skill might spill over to the rest of the group.

Like in d20, most rolls are tests to see if you succeed in a task. World Tree doesn't actually use any generic term like "skill check" but I think it's a useful term so I'm going to use it. A skill check in World Tree is Attribute + Skill + d20 or Attribute + Skill + s20, depending on whether dramatic success/failure is an appropriate possibility. In either case, you're trying to roll higher than some target value provided by the gamemaster. At this point, there's not a lot of context as far as what range target values could be. The one is example is that the average difficulty of picking a lock is 20.

Unlike d20, skills don't have any fixed association to attributes. You use whatever combination makes sense in the situation. In the lockpick example, if you're trying to actually pick the lock, that's probably Dexterity + Pick Locks. On the other hand, if you're studying the lock to learn something about it, that would be Perception + Pick Locks. Also there's no abbreviations and all skill checks are written out in full, in the form Dexterity + Pick Locks + d20 every single time and this is going to give me carpal tunnel.

It doesn't mention it here, but it's going to matter soon so I'll just spoil it: Sometimes more than one skill applies to a roll. This is almost always the case with magic. In these situations, you generally only add one skill (usually the worst) to the roll. Teaching someone to hunt, for example, might have you roll against Teaching or Hunting, whichever is worse.

EXPERIENCE
Experience is used for skills and only for skills. Your level in a skill is determined by how many experience points you have committed to that skill. Raising a skill one point costs as many experience points as the level you're increasing to. So to have a skill of five means you have spent, either all at once during character creation, or one level per session during play, 1+2+3+4+5=15 experience.

Experience is NOT spent on attributes or advantages, which is something that I think was a very good idea. I've always found that systems where everything is paid from the same pool leads to weird optimization problems. For example, in GURPS buying up your stats is so much more cost effective than skills that you can easily create two characters of the exact same point value, but one is literally better at everything than the other. By keeping every pillar of character creation separate, you can keep a better handle on actual power levels. The system isn't flawless, but it seems reasonably robust.

KNACKS
For whatever reason, you might have a knack in a skill. A knack is just a straight bonus to any roll using that skill. In most mundane situations, there's no mechanical difference between the number you add from your skill level and the number you add from your knack. In some situations, though, commonly when doing something magical, more than one skill applies to a roll. In these cases, you get to use all your relevant knacks, even if the knack is in the skill whose value you aren't using. If you're teaching hunting, you could get to apply your knack in hunting even though you're actually rolling against your lower skill in teaching. It's a little fiddly in concept, but it does add some interesting variability to skills.

TIMING
In combat, or in any situation where order of action matters, you use an initiative system. Turns are individual in nature; one actor takes their turn, then the next, then the next, and so on, but not entirely cyclical. Initiative is determined by drawing from an ordinary deck of 52 playing cards. Everyone who drew an Ace goes first and simultaneously, then all the 2s, 3s, so on to King, then looping back to Ace. Whenever you take an action, you draw a new card. You might act on A and then draw a 4, so that's the next time you act. Maybe after that you draw a 2, so your third action will be when initiative makes it all the way back around. Depending on the luck of the draw, you might act once in a "round" or you might act 13 times.

Each number of initiative roughly represents one second, give or take whatever fudge factor is appropriate to make the flow make sense. When it's not your turn to act, you're pretty much limited to talking and looking around. Those might be sufficient to set off bound spells, though.

I always thought it was interesting that your character sheet has absolutely no bearing on your initiative, neither does the action you're performing. What exceptions there are to the initiative system are large in nature; the rare things that make you faster make you draw extra cards and choose one, things that are slow require you to spend multiple turns. Nothing just messes around with +/-1 modifiers to initiative or anything like that.

Spells interact with the initiative system in an interesting way; many spells build rather than take effect the same turn you cast them. If a spell builds, you draw the spell its own initiative to see when it takes full effect, possibly giving the target time to react to it before it goes off.

COMBAT
Everyone has life points, indicating how healthy, big, strong, tough, and just generally hard to kill they are. A hardened warrior might have 50, a tough non-warrior has around 25, most people have less. If your life point total is positive, you're OK. If you go negative, you're incapacitated, if you go VERY negative you die.

Life points aren't an abstraction. They're not a handwavey 'luck and toughness and skill' like hit points. They're a known quantity in the setting. They're measurable. They're even measured in the same units that the game rules use. Life points are a skill that you can, and probably should if you live a dangerous life, train the same way as any other skill. A ramification of this: That rule about 'If your life point total is positive, you're OK'? People in the setting are fully aware of this concept. There are many different ways to lose life points, but when it comes down to it, literally every forensic report could end with "Cause of death: life points got too negative."

Combat usually involves making opposed rolls. The attacker rolls Dexterity + Weapon Skill + s20, the defender rolls Agility + Dodge + s20. For the sake of bookkeeping, the attribute+skill+all the other modifiers total just gets shortened to Attack Base or Defense Base. If the attack roll is higher than the defense roll, the attack hits. There's no separate damage roll. Damage is just the base damage of the weapon, plus the attacker's strength, plus a damage bonus for every full 10 points you beat the defense by, minus the defender's soak value. Nothing particularly revolutionary here.

Combat stance
Skilled fighters can choose to be more or less aggressive. On your turn, you choose a number, positive or negative, to be added to your attack rolls and subtracted from your defense rolls. So if you choose a positive number, you'll hit more often (and do more damage because high rolls trigger the damage bonus) but you'll get hit more often, and the opposite for choosing a negative value.

I like that every attack lets the player make decisions. Also, the stance system interacts with the initiative system in an interesting way; if you see that your opponent has drawn an initiative that's much later from now, maybe you risk going full aggro, hoping to get some good whacks in and still have time to switch to defensive before they get another turn. A bad draw could make this backfire, though...

Combat options
In addition to letting you choose up to a larger number for your combat stance, combat skill gives you a number of options to choose from in combat. I'll cover them when we get there, but for the most part they're additional options and modifiers you can choose from. Giving up accuracy for damage, pushing people around, reducing damage to hinder your opponent instead, and so on.

Magic in combat
Like I mentioned before, most attack spells build, rather than taking effect instantly. Defensive spells and counterspells are fast, they work the turn you cast them. Simple, low-power spells aren't very effective, the typical battle mage focuses more on distractions, healing, and other methods of supporting their allies. Powerful battle mages do whatever the gently caress they want.

MAGIC
Most magic costs cley, which is like a spell-point but also is an actual nonphysical thing that exists and is consumed by the spell. A pattern spell always costs one cley, no matter how complicated or powerful it is. A spontaneous spell casts d3 cley; if you roll a higher cost than one cley you do get a power boost to go along with it, spontaneity can have its advantages.

Your cley capacity is, naturally, a skill you can train. Once per day, at dawn for most people, your cley is reset to Faith + Cley Base + d6. If you need more than that, you could meditate, or be given some from someone else; neither is very efficient.

Magic Arts:Nouns and Verbs
Using a spell is a skill check, Attribute + Skill + s20, like any other. The major difference is that you don't just use one skill, you use two. Every spell has at least one Verb, describing what the spell is doing, and at least one Noun, describing what the spell affects. You add both your skill in the Verb and your skill in the Noun to your die roll.



Many spells have multiple Verbs and/or Nouns. You always use your worst of the Verbs, and your worst of the Nouns. All applicable knacks apply, though.

Complexity and Power
Spells are measured on two axes, complexity and power. Complexity is how tricky the spell is to cast or learn. Complexity is always measured in multiples of 5. Complexity-5 is the lowest possible, the World Tree's equivalent of appliances. Common, easy to use, unremarkable. 10 and 15 are professional level, 20 and higher are serious magic. Generally, complexity is just whether or not you're able to cast the spell, once you do cast it complexity doesn't matter anymore.

Power is how effectively you have cast a spell. Power can be any number; it's the result of the skill check you made when you cast the spell. It affects lots of things; how much the spell does, how long it lasts, how hard it is to resist, how hard it is to dispel, etc.

Styles of Magic
Unless they actively seek out weird esoteric variations of magic, player characters will probably only use the three major forms of magic.

Pattern magic: Spells you have learned (by grafting them directly onto your magerium). To be able to cast a pattern spell, you need (Memory + Noun + Verb) at least equal to the spell's complexity. Note that you can learn a spell you can't cast yet; spell-sellers do this a lot. Once you're able to cast the spell, it works every time. Your skill check just determines the power of the casting. There's a few skills you can train to cast pattern spells with a little extra power, or with a chance of not spending a cley.

Spontaneous Magic: Primordial spellcasting. Make up an effect on the spot, anything at all, and try to invent a spell to do it. You might succeed, you might fail. Casting complex spells spontaneously is hard. You're not likely to achieve complexity 10 and 15 spells reliably, and almost no one can pull off anything higher without getting extremely lucky. After figuring out how complex the effect is, and what arts are involved, you have to roll Wits + Art + s20 > the complexity for every single art involved; fail any and the spell doesn't get cast. On the other hand, there are more things that go into the power roll for a spontaneous spell, so they tend to be much stronger than pattern spells.

Bound Magic: Minor one-use spells that are bound to objects. You're limited in how many you can own at a time by your Cley Base skill. Bound spells are designed to go off when some condition is met. This could be an activation word, or a specific event. Attack spells are often bound to a stick or a rock, and are activated by things like 'When I say ZAPPO then target the person I'm pointing the stick at' or 'When I throw this rock target what it hits'. Healing magic is commonly bound to 'When I'm incapacitated, heal me'. Using a bound spell doesn't involve a die roll or cost any cley; that was all handled back when the spell was bound in the first place.

Magic Resistance
When a harmful spell is cast on you, you generally have a chance to resist it. Make a Magic Resistance + s20 roll (Atypically, there is no associated attribute for this roll), and if it's higher than the spell's power the effect is reduced. In a pinch you can spend cley to get an extra s20 each on the roll. You may waive your magic resistance roll if you want.

OTHER TOPICS
Trouble
For whatever reason, things might be making your life harder. Maybe something blinded you, maybe you're really itchy, maybe you've been beaten up. Collectively, all the hindrances hampering you are called "trouble", and they're a penalty applied to all appropriate d20 and s20 rolls, including attack and defense.


Good old Rule Zero making its appearance. Well, at least they didn't say "roll-playing."

Finally, here's a rad skull. Why? :shrug:

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

Hunter: The Reckoning

Mercy: Laser cannon, death fog, and soul eating

So, Edges. These are supposed to be the little things you can do that even the odds with monsters. They, uh, kind of don't. Unless they do. A lot. Their balance is all over the place, and outside of the Zeal Creeds, their theming can be, too. Some of them are pretty cool in concept, some are extremely powerful in gameplay, and several of them are :psyduck: as all hell. Also nobody really gets the level 5s, so don't judge anything by them, and when I describe a level 4, remember that's a power wielded by a max level Hunter in that Virtue who took 3 insanities to be able to use it. Ask yourself if they sound worth it.

I'm not super familiar with Hunter but I am familiar with a lot of oWoD combat and at least so far, not a single Hunter you've described has any of the cornerstones of oWoD combat effectiveness, which probably explains why they'd struggle and die against a werewolf or vampire or combat focused mage. I don't see any sources of extra actions, there's exactly one source of passive defenses (either soak or active dodges or weird nonsense), and they don't have extra health levels, rapid healing, or anything else. It seems that they're also lacking in init boosters, which is bad.

Because you have so few health levels outside of a very few exceptions (ironically, these exceptions are basically 'mages who optimize for combat') and wound penalties are high, you want to have rapid healing so you can avoid penalties. You absolutely want good passive defenses (oftentimes this was a high level of natural soak) because mundane armor is really meh and dodging eats precious actions you need to put damage onto a target. You want extra actions because of how the best way to reduce the enemy's ability to hurt you is to kill them first, which extra actions helped you with a lot. Finally, you wanted high-damage tools to pierce passive defenses and put someone on the floor (crippled or dead) ASAP.

Every A-splat in oWoD (vamps, werewolves, mages) had access to these, and werewolves got their reputation as the premier combat monsters of the oWoD because they literally got all of them as free chargen bonuses. Werewolves basically could easily end up doing 10+ dice of aggravated damage base, would easily have enough natural soak to swole through a hit or two, had regeneration to make that hit largely irrelevant, and could burn Rage for an enormous alpha strike. It's why their silver weakness, although real, wasn't as huge of a deal as you'd think because you innately started as a supercommando from hell who could do incredibly powerful hit-and-run attacks and with your physical bonuses and a combat focus you could easily murder whoever had silver bullets long before they could try shooting at you.

Vampires got really easy access to all of those, through blood healing, Fortitude, Celerity, and Potence, as well.

Mages had a little bit of difficulty accessing the core combat suite 'naturally' but made up for it in sheer power and by having some ridiculously bonkers magical gear. You could access the core combat suite with Life 3 and Time 3. You wouldn't have the ability to have it permanently on, but you could scale it much harder than any other splat (because you could also tape permanent -3 Difficulty to all your actions in the process). Then you had the Talisman/Wonder/Devices background, or the Blessings background, could easily be leveraged for some ludicrously loving bonkers results. You had poo poo like exomuscle, which basically gave you Crinos form, except better: +2 Strength, +1 Dexterity, +2 Stamina, +2 armor, *6* extra Bruised health levels, and 1 point of innate countermagic (which in Mage applied to a lot of things). Oh, and it let you soak lethal and aggravated damage with your boosted Stamina. Sure, it cost some permanent paradox, but because the real secret to Mage was that vulgar magic was for losers and you could do a gently caress of a lot of nonsense just relying on 1-dot and 2-dot spheres and coincidental effects plus decent mundane skills, that didn't matter. Remember, these magical gear items stacked with your own magic.

To fight something like this, you either need a core combat suite of your own (which Hunters seem to lack any access to) or some way of bypassing it, which the Innocent's solar flare is an okay example of (but again, no init boosters...). If Hunters lacked access to the pillars of a combat suite, and also were hit-and-miss on having the tools to bypass these problems, it's no wonder they got hosed hard.

The other important thing to remember is that because of how oWoD mechanics often were, any combat-oriented supernatural would do so by legitimately being extremely good at normal combat and using their supernatural powers to amp that up to ludicrous levels. A combat-focused werewolf wouldn't rely on weird werewolf magic as their primary fighting method, they'd just be really loving good at swinging a big-rear end sword.

So you take away their massive ability to resist damage, and their extra actions, and their superhuman stats and... they're still a guy with a sword who is very good with it. And a Hunter's still going to have a bad day against one of those.

And worse yet, supernaturals in the oWoD aren't solitary. Werewolves hunt in packs. Vampires have their coteries. Mages have their cabals.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Oh, very, very much. It's one reason I laugh at the game yelling about 'don't play a 'combat monster''. You can't. You can't actually be a combat monster in this system because the stuff needed for it isn't there. The best trick Wil has is being able to make a 14 dice attack at Damage 9 Lethal, and he's as killy as you can get for the most part.

Radiate is something of a passive defense but nothing to really rely on compared to actually being able to dodge or something. Because holy poo poo does this system make Dodging a pain in the butt; like I said, if Wil doesn't somehow kill what he's fighting round one he's dead. And every major supernatural will have access to extra actions: The 'Ancient Vampire' gets as many as the GM decides they do for one blood, for instance.

Also, the system they're in just can't do the whole 'try to stalk your target and hit it when it's unaware' thing, or really much of anything because Storyteller. So you've got the old problem where a system presents you no way to destroy a major enemy in combat, but then doesn't really present other ways to deal with them and more importantly, doesn't give you any way to escape them or try to regroup, either since they run faster than the future car they got bit to see.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 12:15 on Jul 4, 2019

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Tibalt posted:

Brief tangent, did anyone ever play a game where you actually rolled your hit die when you leveled? Even the groggiest table I've played at let you take 75% of your hit die. It's the most inexplicable thing I've seen in the rules for Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons because everyone ignores it. Anyway...

Yeah, in the Stom King's Yhunder campaign we played this year. But the combat was so terrible, it didn't matter.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


White Wolf did have several exceptions to the "If you stat it, the players can kill it" rule, both here and in Exalted.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ronwayne posted:

White Wolf did have several exceptions to the "If you stat it, the players can kill it" rule, both here and in Exalted.

This book also ends on a very explicit 'trying to hype up Exalted, coming soon, and also link the Hunters to it' note.

Which would probably work better if Hunters weren't, uh, how Hunters are mechanically. Awe inspiring reflections of ancient heroes of legend they ain't.

dwarf74
Sep 2, 2012






Buglord

I'm having the players roll their hit dice in my Dungeon Crawl Classics game because that's kind of the game's jam.

However, I'm letting them choose between "roll only the new hit die" and "reroll all your hit dice, including that d4 you got at 0-level." So if they roll low they just need to survive a level.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Halloween Jack posted:

So...I don’t like the Toreador. To explain why, here’s another bit of White Wolf fandom: the Chupp Test. It was named after Sam Chupp, a White Wolf employee whose job included engaging the fandom and fielding questions like “Why would anyone want to play a Nosferatu?” The Chupp Test says that the worthiness of any PC faction is measured in how much the writing interests you in playing them. This also applies to sourcebooks about them: If you think Malkavians are stupid, does Clanbook: Malkavian change your mind?

Well, the Toreador were a pretty obvious tribute to Anne Rice's vampire chronicles, whether it's Lestat-as-violinist+rockstar or the theatre troupe from Interview. So whether or not they were any good, they were essentially inevitable as a concept. Though I don't know if it's the case, I always figured the Malkavians were inspired by Santiago from the same book, with his trickster / mime shenanigans.

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