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Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Deities & Demigods 1E
Part 5: gently caress You, Mordred



I'm not sure why there's a period. I don't think "Arthurian Heroes" is a complete sentence.

So here we get a section on the characters of the Arthurian legends. As a child, I found this the most boring chapter of the book, and I guess really I still do. There are no gods or monsters, mostly just a bunch of samey knights, and they don't even get much flavor text; not counting King Arthur himself, only two of the knights get more than five or six lines of description. Also, despite their common association with a fantastical version of medieval Europe, I'm not sure how well Arthurian legend really fits Dungeons & Dragons. The chapter includes a drawing of King Arthur chasing a D&D troll, and, I don't know, to me it just looks sort of weird and out of place.


Also, it kind of makes me sympathize with the troll.

At least the text does sort of acknowledge its possibly ill-fitting nature:

Arthurian Heroes posted:

The knights of the Round Table may not fit into some AD&D worlds, but DMs may find it interesting to spice up their campaign with a trip to Arthur's Britain. More useful information can be found in TSR's KNIGHTS OF CAMELOT™ Fantasy Boardgame.

After a couple paragraphs of introduction, the first two entries on this page are for "The Average Knight of Renown" and the "Knight of Quality". These are general statistics, intended to be varied for individual characters. Average Knights of Renown are fighters of 8th through 10th level, with variable hit points "but never less than 60", and ability scores that "may never be below 10, and most average 15." Their alignment is "Variable (but 80% lawful)". Knights of Quality are fighters of 10th through 13th level, with variable hit points "but never less than 70", and ability scores that "may never be below 13, and most average about 16." Honestly, so many of the statistics are left as variables that these statblocks are pretty useless; it would have made more sense just to say that Knights of Renown are fighters of levels 8-10 and Knights of Quality are fighters of levels 10-13, and left it at that without having to fill space with mostly empty statblocks.

One interesting point in the description of these knights is that apparently 5% of Knights of Renown have squires who are better at fighting than the knights they serve. Also, Knights of Renown "will most often kill their defeated opponents, rather than grant mercy," while Knights of Quality "will usually (75% of the time) grant mercy to all those who ask for it during battle." Make of that what you will.


Is that horse on the right floating?

After that we get a long list of ninety "good or neutral knights of the Arthurian legends"—sixty-four Knights of Renown and twenty-six Knights of Quality (marked with asterisks). We are given no information about these knights beyond their names and in a few cases very brief parenthetical notes ("brother of Gawaine", "knight of the black lawns", etc.) After this, we get a similar but much shorter list of thirteen knights who "are evil through and through": nine Knights of Renown and four Knights of Quality. (None of these even get parenthetical notes.) These lists may be useful for someone already familiar with Arthurian legends who just needs a reminder about the characters, or for someone who needs to make up an Arthurian knight but is very bad at coming up with names. They're pretty much useless for anyone else. Fun fact: King Arthur's court jester, Dagonet, was apparently a Knight of Renown. Also, Mordred, one of the most famous and significant figures of the Arthurian legends, apparently wasn't deemed important enough to get his own full write-up, and instead is just listed without comment among the evil knights. At least he's a Knight of Quality.

This done, we get to those personages who, unlike poor Mordred, do get their own full entries, starting, of course, with King Arthur. He's a lawful good 14th-level paladin/5th-level bard with an 18 in every ability score except Wisdom, which is 19, and Dexterity, which is only 16. (Also, his Strength is listed as 18(52), because first edition had this weird "percentile strength" thing which, if you don't already know about it, isn't worth explaining.) Despite being the most important figure in the Arthurian Mythos, King Arthur is not, of course, the divine head of a pantheon, and thus does not get 400 hit points, having to settle for a measly 123.


He didn't have that cape in the other picture. I guess he takes it off for troll-chasing.

We get a brief summary of Arthur's history—you know, the sword in the stone and all that—and are told that he "upholds the idea of lawful righteousness and fair play." Also, Excalibur is a +5 lawful good sword of sharpness, and its scabbard is also magical and prevents him from being cut by any attack.

Huh, come to think of it, you know who else doesn't get her own statblock, besides Mordred? Gwynevere. (Yes, that's the way the name of Arthur's wife is spelled here.) She's mentioned once in Arthur's description, but that's it; we're given no game information about her, not even her alignment. One would think the queen of the realm would warrant more than a single namedrop, but apparently not.

SIR BERNLAD DE HAUTDESERT (the magical green knight)

If you're familiar with the Arthurian story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, you might expect the Green Knight to be some magical being, probably a fairy of some sort. Nope. He's just a chaotic good fourteenth-level fighter who has magic armor that prevents him from being hurt by physical weapons. Also he has a +3 axe. So he's a really well-equipped fourteenth-level fighter, but that's still all he is.

By the way, the earlier listing of Knights of Quality also lists a different Green Knight, "Pertelope". No other information is given. It turns out Sir Pertelope does appear in what's apparently the primary source for this chapter, Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, where he's the brother of Sir Persaunt the Blue Knight and Sir Perimones the Red Knight, but that's not mentioned in Deities & Demigods—that is, Sir Persaunt and Sir Perimones are both listed too, but there's no indication that the three are brothers. But anyway, if Sir Bernlad de Hautdesert and Sir Pertelope are both Green Knights, then sure, they can each be a Green Knight, but could either one of them really be called the Green Knight?

SIR GALAHAD


I'm no historian, but was it normal to wear armor on the torso and leave the legs completely unprotected?

He's a 20th-level paladin, he's the bastard son of Sir Launcelot, and he successfully completed the Quest for the Holy Grail, and he has 18s in all his statistics except Intelligence, which is 15. And there's really nothing else interesting to say about him.

SIR GARETH OF ORKNEY (knight of the many colors)

He's called the knight of the many colors because of "the many colors he used on his armor and shield". "He was the most modest of all the knights", and really I guess there's no reason for him not to be modest, because he's a pretty ordinary neutral good seventeenth-level fighter. With, admittedly, pretty good ability scores, but not as good as Sir Galahad's.

SIR GARLON (the invisible knight)

Sir Garlon was given a special power "by a witch of the fens for the promise to only use the power for evil". Can you guess what the power was? Aside from that, really the only thing noteworthy about him is that he's one of the few knights in this chapter who's not just a single-classed fighter or paladin. He's a 13th-level fighter/3rd-level thief. Oh, and he's chaotic evil.

SIR GAWAINE


Sir Gawaine's had enough of your poo poo.

Sir Gawaine posted:

Gawaine has been given a magical gift of an unusual nature. From 9 in the morning till 12 noon, he gains in strength. From 9-10 he has a 19 strength; from 10: 11 he has a 20 strength; and from 11-12 his strength is 21. After 12 his strength returns to normal.

Well, that's weird, and kind of pointless. Okay, apparently this is actually a thing in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, but it's still weird. (Also, why the passive voice? He "has been given a magical gift"? By whom? The Dungeon Master?)

Sir Gawaine is true neutral, and is "a revengeful knight [who] would travel to the ends of the earth to right some supposed wrong done to him or his family."

SIR LAMORAK

Sir Lamorak is a neutral 15th-level fighter, and there's nothing special about him (except maybe for the fact that he has really good ability scores), and I don't know why he needs his own entry and isn't just listed among the Knights of Quality. Oh. Right. Those only go to thirteenth level. Okay then, I guess.

SIR LAUNCELOT DU LAKE


Also known as "The Knight of the Mullet".

You probably know who this is; he's the most famous figure from Arthurian legend next to King Arthur himself. Here, he's a 20th-level paladin, or I guess maybe he's not, because while his stat block says he is his description says that he "was able to use all the powers of a Paladin, until he fell from grace". We get a little information about how he fell from grace and what he did afterward, but there's nothing really interesting. His lowest ability score is Wisdom, which... yeah, that tracks.

MERLIN


"Higitus figitus migitus mum..."

Merlin posted:

The son of a sorceress and an incubus (a succubus shape-changed into male form), Merlin has a combination of powers and abilities for beyond those of mortals. There is a great deal of evidence to support the concept that Merlin is a being as powerful as the Great Druid with magical powers thrown in.

That evidence being his stat block, which lists him as a 14th-level druid/15th-level magic-user/10th-level illusionist. The Great Druid, in first edition, was a 14th-level druid, the highest level listed for druids in the Player's Handbook. Or rather, the Great Druid was the 14th-level druid. That is to say, in any given campaign world, there existed only one 14th-level druid, and that individual was called the Great Druid; any PC wanting to advance to 14th level would have to defeat the incumbent Great Druid in combat in order to do so. Although before doing that, the PC in question would have to have defeated one of the nine existing capital-D Druids to advance to 12th level, and one of the three Archdruids to advance to 13th. There was a similar deal for monks—apparently there could only ever exist three 8th-level monks, and only one for each level above that!—and for assassins—to reach 14th level an assassin would have to seek out and challenge or assassinate the local Guildmaster Assassin, and to reach 15th the character would have to do the same to the unique Grandfather of Assassins. Yeah, this was another of those weird things in first edition that many DMs may have just ignored... assuming the PCs in their campaigns ever reached those levels in the first place.

(All of which means, I guess, that that bit in the review of the previous chapter where I mentioned that Hastseltsi could be outrun by any eleventh-level monk maybe isn't that big a deal after all, if there are only seven monks of that level or higher (the 1E level progression for monks ends at level 17) in the entire world.)

And yes, the succubus was a thing in first edition (unlike in fifth edition, in first (and second and third) edition the succubus was explicitly a type of demon, and in fourth edition for some reason it was a devil), but the incubus wasn't (at least, not in any of the books, though an incubus did appear in Dragon Magazine issue 54—though that didn't come out till the year after Deities & Demigods was first published). So because Malory said Merlin was the son of an incubus they had to write in an explanation of just what an incubus was in D&D. (Which did not match what Dragon #54 would say an incubus was the following year, but oh well.)

Merlin posted:

Merlin can foresee the future in a random manner. There are times when his inability to see what lies just ahead in the future causes him great problems... He is a very earthy being and a pretty face may cause him to act rather boyish in order to impress a lady.

MORGAN LE FAY


She's either casting a spell or conducting an orchestra. I'm not sure which.

Morgan Le Fay is a chaotic evil 12th-level magic-user/12th-level illusionist who "is at least partially nonhuman". (Thanks for being so specific.)

...By the way, something just struck me about the "American Indian Mythos" from the previous post. Among all the gods and heroes presented there, every single one is male; there's not a single goddess or female hero. This isn't especially relevant to the "Arthurian Heroes" chapter (well, except insofar as it has almost as extreme a gender imbalance, with only a single statted female character), but it's something I thought was worth mentioning. I should have noticed it earlier. Hmm. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise, though I admit I have been pleasantly surprised at the consistent use of "he or she" in this book to refer to players and Dungeon Masters. I mean, that's not a big thing, but it's a better nod toward representation than I was expecting from a first-edition book, especially considering some of the disturbingly sexist material that appeared in early issues of Dragon Magazine. (And, briefly checking the first-edition Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, I see that they... actually mostly do that too. In the foreword to the Player's Handbook, TSR Games & Rules Editor Mike Carr refers to the Dungeon Master only with masculine pronouns, but the rest of the book does seem to use "he or she" pretty consistently for both players and DMs. The same goes for the Dungeon Master's Guide; players and Dungeon Masters are routinely referred to as "he or she". (Though it's certainly possible there were some slips that I missed in either or both books; I only gave them a quick glance.) So, well, that's nice. I mean, obviously it doesn't come close to meaning there's nothing sexist in first-edition D&D, but at least it's one small step in the right direction that I hadn't remembered.)

SIR PALOMIDES THE SARACEN

The only things worth mentioning about Sir Palomides are that he's another knight who's not just a single-classed fighter or paladin (bizarrely, he's a 16th-level fighter/3rd-level monk/3rd-level bard), and that he's "noted for his use of the composite bow (a weapon not usually used by knights of any order)."

KING PELLINORE

King Pellinore is a lawful neutral 12th-level fighter who's entirely unexceptional, except again for his high ability scores (for ordinary humans, the knights in this chapter seem to have an awful lot of 18s in their abilities), and that he "hunts a strange unique creature, the Questing Beast, which his family is fated to pursue, though neither they nor anybody else will ever catch it."

We do not get statistics for the Questing Beast. We do, however, get an illustration of it.


At least, I'm assuming that's what this is supposed to be.

Actually, we do get statistics for the Questing Beast in the 2E Legends & Lore. In fact, I think there are enough interesting things to compare and contrast between the two books that I've decided I want to review Legends & Lore, too. (Not right away, though; I still intend to cover the 1E Manual of the Planes next.)

Yes, I know I started this review by saying I was going to cover Planescape, and I still do intend to do that; I just have these precursors I want to get through first, because I think they give some useful insight on Planescape's origins. At least the next book, the Manual of the Planes, is maybe a little more directly and obviously Planescape-related. Still, I'll get to Planescape proper eventually...

SIR TRISTRAM OF LYONESS


Seen here carefully suspending the point of his sword two inches above the ground for some reason.

He's a neutral 17th-level fighter who is not remotely interesting in any way whatsoever and is only here so we can get a very brief one-paragraph summary of the tragic story of Tristram and Isolde. (Isolde, of course, doesn't get a statblock.) Or the beginning of the tragic story of Tristram and Isolde; apparently we're to assume that the ending hasn't happened yet. Can the PCs step in and prevent events from unfolding as they did in the original story? Maybe. Is there something more exciting they could be doing instead? Almost certainly.

So there we have it. The most boring chapter of the book, mostly devoted to a bunch of bland fighters. I said in the last post that it was mostly uphill from there, but... well, it's mostly uphill from here in a different sense.

NEXT: Everything is Demons

Edited because I realized I misspelled Sir Tristram's name. Or... spelled it in a different way than it was spelled in the book, though I think both are acceptable variants.

Jerik fucked around with this message at 02:49 on Jul 5, 2019

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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!


I would not have expected an "Arthurian Pantheon" especially when it's just seven different kinds of "man with sword and also one guy with a beard instead."

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I get why someone would want to use Arthurian Myth for a DnD campaign. But... I'm just not really seeing why it would be put into this particular book or put in with this little heart or description. Is there any point if you're not actually describing much of the actual myths? It could be done a heck of a lot better than how it seems to be presented here. Though some work would probably need to be done to make some story ideas that allow room for a party of PCs. Which, honestly, would probably be the real work of the writers rather than spitting out five sentence descriptions and human Fighter stat blocks. Also a decent writer could have some fun putting their own spin on these stories.

Also, this should be in a different book. I mean, these are ostensibly Christian knights. They don't really fit into this unless... Oh dear. Are we going to see DnD trying to put in Abrahamic pantheons? I both dread that idea and look forward to it with morbid curiosity.

dwarf74
Sep 2, 2012






Buglord

kommy5 posted:

Also, this should be in a different book. I mean, these are ostensibly Christian knights. They don't really fit into this unless... Oh dear. Are we going to see DnD trying to put in Abrahamic pantheons? I both dread that idea and look forward to it with morbid curiosity.
Sadly, for that, you need to reference Fantasy Wargaming: The Highest Level of All

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


If you want Arthurian Roleplaying Pendragon is right there.

I still wanna run Pendragon some day, just to do it.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


I can only imagine the hell of trying to use Arthurian stuff at a modern table, you wouldn't be able to get past Camelot without someone quoting the Pythons... It would go rapidly downhill from there.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Pendragon is rad so that's a good goal to have. I'm in a game where my ultra ridiculous trusting-to-a-fault guy gave his eldest daughter to a fairy lord for a year so she could hang out with the fairy she's going to marry to see if she likes him or not and well, haven't seen her again yet, but I'm sure it's just cos she's having such a good time so she's staying a little longer and definitely not a hostage situation because why would a fairy do that??? Merlin as a player character in a video game is also a fairly accurate portrayal. Not had a single Python reference either 20 something sessions in!

Arthurian myth is wild and full of so much stupid poo poo caused by morons that it's already basically a TTRPG gone off the rails. Ywain's entire quest with the fountain and how that all kicked off and Arthur just waking up one day and declaring to all his friends that he hasn't seen Ywain for a while and if he doesn't see him by the end of the year he will loving DIE and the GMPC lion always bailing him out.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Pendragon just looks like a fascinating total departure from what I normally run/write and it's by Greg Stafford and I have enormous respect for him.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Seatox posted:

I can only imagine the hell of trying to use Arthurian stuff at a modern table, you wouldn't be able to get past Camelot without someone quoting the Pythons... It would go rapidly downhill from there.
To be fair to Gygax et al. I believe this game was written before the Python film came out.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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





It just wouldn’t be a D20 game without feats, and while we do have new modes of combat and skills they do not occupy the lion’s share of this chapter.

We have a new skill, Natural Medicine, which is basically a variant of Alchemy but reflavored to be less chemistry/laboratory-related. It is more a combination of wilderness lore, knowing the languages of features in the natural world, and such. It’s rather superfluous in that it does and crafts everything Alchemy does, although it has new rules for foraging material components in the wilderness. We get a new use for the Scry skill,* the ability to read omens based on the preponderance of specific colors. We have a brief table explaining what things are associated with which colors and whether they’re good or bad: blue can mean either loyalty or envy, pink power or poverty, etc.

*which was its own skill in 3.0 and interfaced with the spell of the same name

Speak Language details the languages of Nyambe. The three major ones of the continent are Kordo (the “common” tongue which originated in Nibomay), Daka-Alif (Kordo/Near Eastern common in the north), and Daka-Kara (Kordo/Far Eastern common in the east and coastal settlements). We also have Daka-Dia, the extinct hieroglyphic language of the Water People, Daka-Kosa of the Kosan Empire which is often used in arcane rites, and finally the unique Talking Drum Language. Talking Drum is a kind of morse code where you can transmit information over long distances with wind and percussion instruments. Some particularly large and stationary drums can carry for miles, but most handheld instruments can carry anywhere from a half mile to 2 miles depending on whether they’re masterwork and the loudness of a particular instrument. The Near Easterners and Far Easterners have their own languages, and the standard D&D ones (Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic, etc) all exist save for Common.




Feats

Now we’re in the meat of the chapter. We technically have 59 new feats, and for obvious reasons I’m not going to go over all of them. Rather, I’ll highlight the most interesting ones. A fair amount are +2/+2 to 2 skills, a tried and true way for D20 books to extend their own word count. The book does mention that for the sake of balance that the DM should make the Skill Focus feat grant +3 to a single skill instead of the standard +2. Yup, back in 3.0 days Skill Focus was worse than most skill feats unless you took it in conjunction with Alertness/Persuasive/etc.

Sanguar: This one is put first for special reasons. First off, it’s a bonus feat for all native Nyambans to reflect the development of martial arts dodging developed to compensate for lack of heavier armor. If you’re a foreigner you need to have the Dodge feat in order to qualify, and it grants you a Dodge bonus to Armor Class based on your Base Attack Bonus: +1 with 1-5 BAB, +2 6-10, +3 11-15, and +4 16-20. Wearing armor reduces this dodge bonus by one point per weight quality (light/medium/heavy).

This feat is extremely underpowered even if you do not use armor (only the gamba core class has light armor proficiency); even light chain shirt armor grants a +4 armor class bonus, and that’s not getting into magical enhancements and special qualities. Personally I’d recommend enhancing the dodge bonus by far higher, perhaps +4 minimum and +8 at the highest levels to make up for the lack of armor.

Rogue Class Features: Due to the nanala variant, a lot of rogue class features are now feats. Some require you to be a nanala to qualify, but there’s no “X level” gatekeeping and some you don’t even need to be of that class at all! This really opens up some of the cooler abilities, like Skill Mastery and Slippery Mind who end up with more generous prerequisites. One of the truly new feats is Analyze Unliving, which allows one to make Sneak Attack damage against creatures normally immune to it but with d4 damage die.

Magic Item Variants: First off, there’s no Scribe Scroll or Brew Potion. Both feats are replaced with Create Gris-Gris and Culinary Ashe, respectively. Gris-Gris are small bags whose trinkets are brewing with mystical energy, while culinary ashe imbues food and drink of all kinds with one-use magical properties that trigger when consumed. The mchawi and mganga get Create Gris-Gris as bonus feats, and any class or feature which would ordinarily grant the PHB equivalent feats are substituted with these.

That’s enough about the special variants. Now on to the rest!

Astrological Magic: If you succeed a DC 20 Knowledge (Astrology) check that can be made once per day, your Caster Level increases by 1 for 24 hours. Very nice.

Breath Weapon: Unthlatu only. You can breathe out a cone or line of energy dealing 3d6 damage. It has a long recharge time ranging from 8 to 32 hours depending on a 1d4 roll, and taking this feat multiple times reduces the waiting period by half. Good for low levels, but is quickly eclipsed by most damaging spells.

Fated: Can only take this at 1st level. You’re blessed with good fortune, and if you lose against a Save or Die spell you can reroll a second saving throw. If you succeed, you lose a level (or 2 points of Constitution drain if 1st) but otherwise remain alive. Can be great to have if you’re playing in more lethal campaigns or Killer DMs, especially so given that resurrection magic is less reliable in Nyambe. The reverse-leveling requires quite a bit of paperwork as a downside.

Fire Blood: Another 1st-level only feat, you have +4 on saves vs hot things and cast fire-related spells at +1 Caster Level which can stack with Astrological Magic. You’re born with red hair, a sign of efreeti heritage.

Foreign Weapon Proficiency: Select Northern, Near Eastern, or Far Eastern. You no longer treat their weapons as Exotic but rather as their appropriate category of Simple or Martial. The Northern equipment is the standard Player’s Handbook, while Far Eastern is implied to be 3rd Edition’s Oriental Adventures.

So this is covered in the next chapter, but Nyambans use a mixture of common generic weapons (daggers) and ones specific to their culture. Those not on said list from other sources are considered Exotic, such as the Longsword and Greatsword.

Impulsive: On the first round of combat you can charge and make a full attack. Requires only Improved Initiative as a prerequisite, but it’s quite powerful. You may ask if it’s superfluous with the Nibomay Amazon, but said Prestige Class allows you to move normally rather than charging, which has to be done in a straight line. It’s still a very good feat.

Parrying Shield: Basically Deflect Arrows, but stacks with it (deflect two projectiles per round) and you can do so with a shield. Unlike Deflect Arrows it is not automatic: you must succeed on a DC 20 Reflex Save to bat it out of the air.

Ritual Cannibalism: Associated with the utuchekulu dwarves but can be taken by anyone of non-good alignment, you regain hit points when you consume the heart of a living being equal to 1d8 + the creature’s Hit Dice. It’s usable a number of times per day equal to the amount of times you take this feat. Creepy and thematic, but a Wand of Cure Light Wounds outstrips it in usefulness.

Ritualistic Combat: You’re trained at inflicting grazing blows in combat. You no longer take a -4 penalty on attacks when inflicting nonlethal damage regardless of the weapon you wield. It cannot make spells nonlethal, however.

Scent: Ngoloko only. You gain the scent quality common to monsters, allowing you to detect and track other creatures. A great means of foiling invisible and hidden foes.

Shadow Dodge: Kitunusi only. Three times per day you can wrap yourself in shadows, imposing 20% miss chance on attacks directed against you for 3 rounds. A pretty good defensive boon.

Shadow Sight: Kitunusi only. You can see into the Shadow World at will, and thus ethereal creatures and objects. You can activate or deactivate this ability as a full-round action.

Strong-Arm: Substitute your Strength or Constitution for Charisma when making Intimidate checks. Most groups I know already use something like this as an automatic house rule.

Trailblazing: You and fellow party members gain a faster overland speed, and treat the quality of the terrain (trackless/road/highway) as one category higher. A bit situational save in games where time is of the essence to get somewhere.

Weapon Display: When in combat you can add your Base Attack Bonus to Intimidate, provided you spend a full-round action doing sweet-rear end battle moves. Can be good in conjunction with fear-based debuff builds like the infamous Zhentarim Fighter.


Combat

We get some brief new rules for specific kinds of combat in Nyambe as well as some conventional rules of warfare. This section is brief, only two pages long, so I can sum up most of them here.

Brush Fires are a tactic in savannahs and grasslands where someone lights a patch of dry grass on fire. It can spread further by wind, covering a lot of ground quickly as a means of battlefield control. Basically you make a Wilderness Lore skill check (Survival in 3.5/Pathfinder) as a full-round action to create a fire and have it spread in a compass point direction. There’s a 10% chance each round the wind shifts and the fire spreads in another direction. Most brush fires last 1d10 rounds, although certain fuels and circumstances can make them burn faster and longer (DM’s discretion). Given that fires can create smoke which can suffocate or grant concealment, this can be more useful for those effects than the otherwise weak damage of mundane fire. Not only that, the fact that the fire is growing means that it can create a larger AoE for the Pyrotechnics spell.

Ritual Warfare is basically a mock battle where two opposing groups line up in opposite parallel rows, armed with only shields and blunt throwing weapons. All damage is nonlethal and spells and melee weapons are forbidden, although critical hits deal lethal damage meaning that death is possible. The battle ends when all members of one side fall unconscious, surrender, run out of ammunition, or run (this part is considered cowardly and unsportsmanlike). This is done as a means of resolving disputes between groups with a minimum of casualties, usually over land rights.

Cattle Raids have no set game rules, but is when one group attempts nonlethally to break through a fort or village’s defenses in order to abscond with their cattle. This is common among the Shombe, although any group with herds animals has been known to practice it. It is most commonly done due to an affront to a rival clan or group’s honor, but not egregious enough for blood to be spilled. As a result, cattle raids are considered a gentlemanly sort of warfare where there’s cultural expectations to not shed blood but still threatens a stake in losing. Those captured in a raid are returned to their host clan minus equipment and clothes which are taken as ransom.

Nuba Matches are where two wrestlers enter a circular ring and grapple each other until one is either thrown out of the ring or loses their footing and collapses. Direct hits are banned, and the match is conducted with maneuvers such as bull rushes, trips, grapples, etc. Although non-lethal, such matches are popular, meaning that the victor gains Experience as though they defeated their opponent in a real fight...and do not have to share the Experience Points with the rest of the party! A great way for a PC to level up quickly!

Engolo Duels are illegal, more dangerous version of a Nuba match where more lethal strikes, small weapons, and sometimes even firing arrows and poisonous snakes into the ring by onlookers is employed! But despite the risk, there is a great amount of money to be made as well as bragging rights for surviving such a deadly sport. Engolo matches often have a prize of 100 to 1,000 gold pieces depending on the lethality and the infamy of the contestants.

Thoughts So Far: The skills are a bit unnecessary: the omen-reading can be made into a flavor thing while Natural Medicine is already served by (Craft) Alchemy. The feats range from blah to useful, and few of them felt overpowered save Astrological Magic. I did like the opening up of Rogue class features for others to use, and some of the racial ones were quite useful in utility. The alternate combat contests were short and thematically interesting ways in providing rules for sports and conflict resolution besides “kill ‘em all.” The Nuba and Engolo sports I have mixed feelings on, as in most group games only one PC will participate while the others sit around and watch. The brush fire rules are perhaps my favorite due to their tactical potential.

Join us next time as we scour the marketplaces in Chapter Seven: Nyamban Equipment!

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

kommy5 posted:

Which, honestly, would probably be the real work of the writers rather than spitting out five sentence descriptions and human Fighter stat blocks.

Oh, to be clear, when I said only two of the knights got "more than five or six lines of description", I literally meant lines of text, not sentences. They're mostly only two or three sentences. Here's the full description for Sir Palomides the Saracen, reproduced in its entirety:

Sir Palomides the Saracen posted:

A bitter rival of Sir Tristram, Palomides was noted for the quickness of his scimitar and his courage in battle. The man was also noted for his use of the composite bow (a weapon not usually used by knights of any order).

Admittedly, this is the shortest description of any of the characters in this chapter, but not by much.

kommy5 posted:

Also, this should be in a different book. I mean, these are ostensibly Christian knights. They don't really fit into this unless... Oh dear. Are we going to see DnD trying to put in Abrahamic pantheons? I both dread that idea and look forward to it with morbid curiosity.

Nah; the writers do stay away from trying to put game stats to major modern Western religions. (Major modern Eastern religions, on the other hand...) Although there were statistics for Satan in an early issue of Dragon Magazine (#28), and a different issue (#35) had stats for the orders of angels in traditional Christianity (cherubim, seraphim, dominations, powers, principalities, thrones and virtues—plus archangels and "angels of the ninth order"). Also, there was a 3E supplement called Testament that did try to put game terms to a Biblical setting, though that was a third-party publication, not a product of Wizards of the Coast... and checking the archives, I see it's already been reviewed in F&F.

Edited to add:

Nessus posted:

To be fair to Gygax et al. I believe this game was written before the Python film came out.

Actually, checking the dates, it seems not. Deities & Demigods came out in 1980; Monty Python and the Holy Grail was released in 1975. Though of course I doubt the writers drew on it as an influence on the book.

Jerik fucked around with this message at 00:52 on Jul 5, 2019

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Stephenls posted:

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.

In the Revised book Time of Thinblood, a Malkavian scientist brings the game mechanics into the universe and essentially quantifies blood points as a unit of potency in terms of vampire use, not physical amount. They call them Vitae Efficacy Units. https://whitewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Vitae_Efficacy_Unit

Elders are basically hybird cars to a neonate's pickup truck.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hunter: The Reckoning

I waste it with my crowbar

So, Vision. Vision only has one Creed and one Power Set. I know they add more later and they're all edgy and stuff, but the Visionary is the only one in the core. They kinda suck conceptually (I get really sick of being reminded every time they come up that they are the Best Creed of Smart Creative Hunters who are the only hope to Actually Win because they have no preconceptions and are just so gosh darn creative and wise) but their powers are sort of neat.

Day 1, they actually get a pretty neat implementation of precognition. Forsee is a good example of 'Yes you can do your signature thing right off the bat'. Intelligence+Vision, TN 7. Every success grants you one reroll (one reroll attempt possible per action) OR one additional action you attempt during this sequence, as you feel out what the end result of several possible actions could be before committing. So, say Muldoon is in a bad situation where an ally is wounded and unconscious and an angry zombie is bearing down. She uses Foresee and gets 4 successes. She can now shoot at the zombie twice to see if she can kill it in one shot, then turn around and consider if she could use Medicine to get her buddy up and run, or check if she could, by die roll, barricade the door to give herself more time. She rolls all these things out, then picks the die result and outcome she wants for the round as she commits to one future. That's actually a cool power and a pretty strong start thematically. You can only use it once an entire session, though, which puts a big 'ole wet blanket on it.

Pinpoint is another simple, to the point, useful power. Roll Per+Vision, TN 6. Get one success? You now know with certainty one of a creature's critical weaknesses; this'll tell your Hunter to use silver on woofs, or that yes, a stake to the heart WILL work on a vamp. 3 Successes or more, and you can pinpoint the creature's main lair or some other very important place for it. Throw this baby on a character with the Innocent's Hide power (like Muldoon with a few levels!) and you've got a good spy. Using the information might be tough, but this is exactly the kind of stuff you want from a Visionary. Only usable once a scene, but still nice, simple, and good for what you're trying to do.

Delve continues with being pretty thematic and useful: You go Per+Vision TN 6, and then you get 'past viewing' of a location, seeing what happened there. Gets harder if it's further back, and if you pay 2 Conviction and you're a Visionary primary, you can hear everything said in the area for the period you delve. You get 5 minutes of footage for every success you get. Now, hearing what happened to Christoff Trustfundsman the Vampire on the day in 1923 he had the critical falling out with his butler Woodhouse that led him into vampirism is hard as hell; TN 10 to look into anything further than 5 years back. But still; this power has real use for investigative purposes and it's another 'hey look, Visionary really does do what it says on the tin' power.

Then they go off the rails with Restore. The Visionary at 4 dots can, uh, regrow limbs and stuff. They roll Stamina+Vision and pay 3 Conviction, TN 6+1 per lethal damage the target suffered (max 10). If they get at least 1 success, they convert all Lethal to Bashing immediately, and regrow any severed limbs, lost eyes, etc. They can do this to allies. It's fluffed as them reaching out to another world where you didn't get your arm hacked off by an angry superhuman. Not as :psyduck: as Respire. C'mon, guys, you had such fitting powers up to this point! Already ran out of ideas for divination powers?

Augur, their 5 dot, is a wibbly and useless plot device generator. Pay 3 Conviction, roll Vision+Int, TN 8, and then you see a year or two in the future for a minute per success. But only a 'possible' future, as 'determined by millions of decisions'. So effectively, it's a minor cutscene that won't mean that much besides establishing that if you let the warlock get the sapphires he might open the Gate of Karaesh so you should probably cap him. Nothing called the Gate of whatever is ever good. You guys started so strong! You could've had powers to like, overcome enemy's action economy advantages or let the team go first. At least Restore is useful, if not especially in theme. Though it quickly becomes TN 10 in situations where you really need it, which means that every new die has equal chances to crit or crit fail, so more dice are functionally useless for adding to your chances of success.

ZEAL has some of the most thematically coherent power sets. They're still not generally great, since Hunters never get access to extra actions, passive defenses, or higher init, but they're cool.

Defenders have an issue: Nothing they get actually makes them harder to kill or any better at fighting for the most part. Ward, their initial power, is still pretty decent for a level 1: Roll Zeal+Stamina, TN 6. Any monster trying to approach you must make a straight Stamina roll TN 6 and hit that many successes or they can't draw near, blocked by holy power, while you probably shoot them. They can keep trying once a turn (and only once a turn, no matter how many actions they have) and have to pay a Willpower point every time they try. You can also press forward and push a monster back; they can't get within 1 yard per Zeal. They can still shoot you. Beware Vamp w/Assault Rifle, they are a troubling foe!

Rejuvenate is an actual passive power. A Hunter with Rejuvenate just heals injuries much faster. MUCH faster. We're talking 'should be a 5 month recovery period, becomes 3 weeks'. Bashing levels go away every 10 minutes. Narratively useful, but some actual fast healing/passive defense would be better. You can also pay a shitload of Conviction to let another Hunter or human use your healing chart for an injury, but it costs 2 Conviction per lethal (1 per Bashing) and do you really want to throw that much EXP at it? Remember, you can only hold 10 Conviction. Anyone seriously injured enough to get serious benefit from this costs so much that it fucks the Defender.

Brand is a bit of a weird power. You whap a monster on the nose with a Dex+Zeal TN 6 roll like an attack. They cannot active-dodge this, the TN 6 is just if they resist being touched. Then you roll straight Zeal, TN 6, Conviction can be Risked on this. This determines how long the message you burn into the monster's flesh will last; on 9-10 successes, it's forever. gently caress you, dracula, you have 'I am a lovely vampire' branded on your face forever and have to explain your weird tattoo. This also inflicts Lethal damage equal to your successes, and while the creature can try to Soak if they can Soak Lethal, 1 wound always gets through. And they can never heal that Wound while branded. Note you could just Brand a monster to death if you had a kick-circle of Defenders. Even a woof can't heal the Brand damage or get it to go away.

Champion is a thematically awesome power that will mostly get you murdered. "A Defender with this power is now confident they can face their foe one-on-one." Hmm, that Defender sure doesn't have any of the combat abilities necessary to do that, book. Are you sure about this? Roll Appearance+Zeal (hope you're a sexy Defender Paladin) TN6, vs. monster's Wits TN 6. If you win, it has to fight you. Also spend 1 Conviction. You can spend more to draw the aggro of more monsters but you are already making a mistake making a vamp focus fire you, do not compound your error. If the monsters didn't want to fight at all, Champion doesn't work. This is a 'My Defender Is Going To Die' button, really.

Burn is extremely good, or would be if you had the other abilities to back it up. You get covered in your blazing Defender Spirit and roll Stamina+Zeal, TN 6, 2 Conviction cost. It lasts 1 turn per success. While active, anyone physically attacking you in melee or touching you suffers Lethal damage equal to your successes. Remember you had at least 10 Zeal to use this. If you punch someone, they take Str+Successes Lethal damage. If you grapple someone, it is a bad time for them. Once again, bypassed instantly by Vampire With Assault Rifle, ever the foe of Hunters. Zeal really wants you to get into melee with superhumans, which seems dubious.

Judges are generally portrayed as the smarter, better, more moral Zealots since the other two are 'simplistic' in their thinking. They try to figure out what the enemy is and how to fight it most efficiently. If that just sounds like a Visionary but without so much wibbling, you win a prize.

Level 1 for Judges is Discern, which lets the Judge see when blinded or in the dark, and lets them ID monsters without Second Sight. Per+Zeal, TN 6, every success is 10 minutes of darkness/blinding vision and effectively gives you Second Sight at the same time. Also, with 2 successes or better, you can identify stuff like 'what kind of monster killed this guy we found ripped up in an alley'. Heck, you can even do that from the pants-shreds left behind by a woof that forgot to learn the Rite of Pants. This power's doin' a lot of good work for a level 1!

Burden is like Ward, but you stare at a monster and your Judgin' eyes are so scary that it's fixed in place, unable to move. If you can see multiple monsters, your angry Witch Hunter stare is so powerful that it can hold them all in place. A wide brimmed hat gives no bonuses to these rolls, but you can probably pull it off in addition to your dramatic trenchcoat. Roll Stamina+Zeal, TN enemy Stamina+3 (use the highest in the group if you're trying to freeze a group, and only roll once). For every success, you stick the enemy in place for 1 turn as long as you keep your eyes on them. Start shooting. However, they can shoot back; goddamnit, Vamp w/Assault Rifle, will your villainy never end!? This will actually cure possession; stare at the ghost, it gets stuck, allies pull the human host forward to separate them, celebrate exorcism; that's right in the text. Teleporting monsters (like woofs with the Umbra) can try to escape by rolling Stamina+Trait vs. TN 7 or your Zeal.

Balance is extremely good. Stare at a monster and pronounce your judgement in whatever dramatic fashion you see fit. Then roll Wits+Zeal, TN enemy Stamina+2. For every success you roll, the monster cannot spend WP/mojo for any abilities for one hour. This means completely shutting down an enemy's superpowers. Almost all of them. Vamps and woofs can't get extra actions, woofs can't heal, Mages lose their magic, etc. Oh yeah. That's the good Judgin'. You might notice Judges are Cool People who do Cool Things and do them while dramatically yelling judgements at terrible monsters and crushing a vampire's will with their steely glare. This is because Judges are, objectively, the Coolest.

Pierce lets you grab someone's face and yell 'SUFFER ME NOW' and now you know their thoughts and crimes. Also makes you a lie detector. Spend 1 Conviction: Now you know whenever someone lies to you during the next scene if you hit Per+Zeal TN 6. Grab a guy's face and stare into their past for Per+Zeal, TN 7. If you succeed, you see a human's last encounter with the supernatural, or if done to a supernatural, possibly while shouting 'DID YOU STEAL THE SAPPHIRES', you'll see if they did, in fact, steal the sapphires; the vision will be of them stealing the sapphires or, if they didn't, of them knitting at home when the sapphires were stolen, proving their alibi. This is a super useful power in an investigative horror game! Good job, Judges. So far everything you have is thematic and actually potentially useful or cool! What will you do for your capstone?

Expose is not the most useful power in the game, but it is the most hilarious. You summon your best Judgin' yell/grimace and then roll Zeal after paying 2 conviction, TN 8. Depending on successes, you change the radius of the power, starting at 15 square feet, going allll the way up to a full square mile. Every single monster in the area can no longer pass for human and normal humans will see and remember them like Hunters. It lasts the rest of the scene, I think, though it isn't actually clear how long it stays on. It also won't show off Hunters as odd, but if I was GMing I'd make it make people see your Edges like a Hunter since you're effectively granting the masses Second Sight. Not only does it reveal everything, it reveals them in their worst-possible form to ensure people potentially get to forming torch and pitchfork mobs (you may need to do some extra work to get them to do this). Sure, normal humans don't stand a chance against the WoD, but from a point of view of the game's themes if its mechanics/setting could execute them better? This is an amazingly cool capstone power and the kind of thing all these level 5 Capstones should be trying to be. Congratulations, Judges, all 5 of your powers are fitting and cool.

Avengers start strong. Avengers only really have 2 great powers and 3 lovely ones. But their great power is the most hilarious power in the game: Cleave. You imbue an existing melee weapon with magic power, or summon one out of thin air, or gain blazing fists of holy fury: Whatever you did, you can use Dex+Brawl or Dex+Melee with it as a normal attack to do its normal damage+2, and turn all its damage Lethal, and make it punch ghosts. You can make Ghost Puncher: The Avenger Who Punches Ghosts. Inventive Avengers have also used this power to, say, grab a grating the monster is standing on and charge it with holy fire mojo; no actual rules on what this does, but the book suggests it earlier as a cool thing to do. An existing weapon will eventually explode; it lasts rounds equal to its normal damage bonus (So, 2 rounds for Wil's katana) and after that you have to make Zeal rolls to keep it. Explicitly, this same property can also be used to let the Avenger grab a locked door and charge it until it explodes. You can also manifest weapons out of nowhere; they won't explode and do Str+2 damage, Lethal. Same if you trust only your fists. This also lets you Risk Conviction on melee attacks. This is the Avenger's signature trick, their best move, and they get it immediately. It won't really even the odds with really dangerous monsters, but it's drat cool and very useful against lesser ones.

Trail lets the Avenger put a smokey magic trail on a fleeing monster with Zeal+Perception TN 6. For every success, the trail lasts 6 hours and makes tracking the beast easy. Allies with seeing powers and monsters can see the trail too with a TN 7 check for whatever sense power they're using. Simple enough.

Smolder is potentially useful; it creates a divine smokebomb that silences all sounds of combat within and hides you from sight, making all attacks much harder...except Hunters with Second Sight aren't effected. Roll Manipulation+Zeal, TN 7. You fill a 10 cubic foot area with smoke, and if you spend Conviction, extend it another 10 feet per Conviction. Lasts 1 turn per success, can dissipate early if you want. All sound inside is heavily muffled; an anti-tank rifle would sound like a finger snap if you're just using this as a sniper perch. Any attacks within or into the cloud are at +3 difficulty; Vampire w/Assault Rifle, your villainy ends now! This does not affect the Hunters who can see through the cloud. The GM can randomly decide that a supernatural has good enough senses to ignore this power with a TN 7 sense test, so beware: If the GM likes Vampire w/Assault Rifle, you can't stop them, even with this, the power designed to stop Vampire w/Assault Rifle.

Surge is simple. Spend 1 Conviction. For this Scene, divvy up your 10 Zeal points and put them in your physical stats, cap 6. That's all it does, but hey. I'm down. Wil with 6 Stamina, Dex, and Str is more dangerous than Wil with 2 Stamina, 5 Dex, and 4 Str. Still not going to make the difference. Where's my extra actions or health levels, Hunter? Wil thirsts for blood juice!

Finally, Smite just plain sucks. Worst capstone overall. It's just a Dex+Zeal TN 6 roll (though it cannot be Dodged or Blocked) that lightning bolts a fucker for Str+Successes Lethal for 1 Conviction. Sure, it's fitting, but that's it? My epic level 5 power I had to plot fiat in is just a basic magic missile? While the Innocent is over there calling down the goddamn Ion Cannon on this smug, bald vampiric prick from Nod? C'mon, guys!

So, as you see: Edges aren't that powerful. Judges are cool dudes. Hunters are probably hosed. You don't need to admonish me not to play a superhero when the rules already ensure I'll be running for my life from Vamp w/Assault Rifle at every turn, game.

Next Time: Actual Main Game Rules, 167 Pages In

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

Hunter: The Reckoning

Balance is extremely good. Stare at a monster and pronounce your judgement in whatever dramatic fashion you see fit. Then roll Wits+Zeal, TN enemy Stamina+2. For every success you roll, the monster cannot spend WP/mojo for any abilities for one hour. This means completely shutting down an enemy's superpowers. Almost all of them. Vamps and woofs can't get extra actions, woofs can't heal, Mages lose their magic, etc. Oh yeah. That's the good Judgin'. You might notice Judges are Cool People who do Cool Things and do them while dramatically yelling judgements at terrible monsters and crushing a vampire's will with their steely glare. This is because Judges are, objectively, the Coolest.

Not quite.

Vampires still maintain Potence and Fortitude, meaning that they can still be swole and tough. They just can't heal (and vampire weaknesses, like fire, are relatively easy to access) and don't get Celerity's extra actions. A lot of the weirder powers get shut down, but again, weird powers are often unnecessary to fight normal people in the World of Darkness.

Werewolf healing is entirely passive and costs no resources, same with transforming into the werewolf's warform. Werewolves lose access to their Gifts and Rage, which is a huge deal, but they're still an angry, mostly bulletproof face-eating warbeast. Also, werewolves get +3 Stamina in warform so that roll's Difficulty can become pretty high.

The only thing that mages require Quintessence (their mojo) to do is create permanent objects out of nothingness, build magical items, and heal Aggravated wounds. Normally it's just a thing you use to drop the difficulty of your wizardry when you absolutely need some weird effect right now and therefore can't take an action to boost your magic (or just do it mundanely).

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


MJ12 posted:

Not quite.

Vampires still maintain Potence and Fortitude, meaning that they can still be swole and tough. They just can't heal (and vampire weaknesses, like fire, are relatively easy to access) and don't get Celerity's extra actions. A lot of the weirder powers get shut down, but again, weird powers are often unnecessary to fight normal people in the World of Darkness.

Werewolf healing is entirely passive and costs no resources, same with transforming into the werewolf's warform. Werewolves lose access to their Gifts and Rage, which is a huge deal, but they're still an angry, mostly bulletproof face-eating warbeast. Also, werewolves get +3 Stamina in warform so that roll's Difficulty can become pretty high.

The only thing that mages require Quintessence (their mojo) to do is create permanent objects out of nothingness, build magical items, and heal Aggravated wounds. Normally it's just a thing you use to drop the difficulty of your wizardry when you absolutely need some weird effect right now and therefore can't take an action to boost your magic (or just do it mundanely).

I'm talking based on the Bestiary here, and it will actually shut down Hunter's version of these things since they have to spend Willpower (which is the standin for Blood) to maintain it according to this book. If they can't spend Willpower to activate it, they can't actually use it going off this book's Chapter 9; it really does shut them down here. Same for woof healing. Balance is extremely powerful (potentially; you still likely don't go first, and if they've already spent the WP for the Scene their powers still work, so you might be hosed anyway) in the context of Hunter and not as strong in the context of the other splats' own lines, basically.

Which is actually something I'd have liked to have seen more of! Every line rewrites the rules some for it; Hunter could've done with rejiggering things so that Edges and what Hunters can actually do have more impact in general.

Also Hunter naturally tells the GM that if they have the other books and lines, they should just use remade PCs from those to fight their Hunters, which is going to gently caress their Hunters even harder.

And yes, everything that ends at Difficulty 10 is suddenly insanely hard to do. In general, Difficulty shifting is really poorly thought out, as are almost all numerical aspects of this game.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:24 on Jul 5, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hunter: The Reckoning

The Tyranny of Rule Zero

Rule Zero is one of those things that seems particularly empowering, but in reality it's a designer giving you permission to do something you could always do, and the more you see it invoked (and the more loudly), the weaker a game's design generally is.

It should not surprise you that Hunter is full of 'If you don't like the rules, change them, or write your own, or ignore them and play diceless and narrative' permissions, in addition to the massive chorus of 'The GM Decides'. The GM is very 'powerful' in Hunter, and this is honestly a bad thing on several levels. As a fairly experienced GM, I find that when games do this it just makes a lot of work for me. Suddenly I have to be careful to be fair with everything, rather than being able to trust a game is already fairly designed; I didn't need permission to mess with a game, either, I was going to do that anyway. The less I feel I need to do it, the better. Alternately, the more I can clearly follow a game's design and be careful with additions and modifications, the better.

Hunter is not that kind of game. Let's look at how dice mechanics work in Hunter. So, you have a pool of Stat+Skill, roll against a TN (base 6), count successes, subtract any dice that rolled a 1, and if you had a Specialty reroll any dice that roll a 10. Generally, circumstance will randomly alter your Difficulty, but occasionally status effects or circumstances will instead decide they alter your dice pool instead. There is no real rhyme or reason to when you do one or the other. It's left to how the GM feels, mostly. If you end up with more 1s than successes, you botch and bad things happen. The more successes you have standing, generally the better you've done; you get things done faster, you find more clues, you shoot a guy in the head, etc.

If you try to do multiple things in one short sequence (as decided by your GM, or by being your turn in a combat round), you take a penalty to all dice pools equal to the number of actions you attempted, but you also take -1 on each sequential action.

Example: Wilhelm is trying to kill a woof he somehow won init on and wants to swing, do a cool backflip over the woof, and then swing again at its back. His base dice pool for swinging his katana is 10 (5 Dex, 5 Melee), his dice pool for Cool Backflips is Athletics+Dex, base 8. Since he's trying 3 things in one turn, he drops his initial dice pool for melee to 7. Then when he goes to do the cool backflip, he drops his pool of 8 to 5, then 4 for it being his second action. His second attack instead drops his pool even further, from 10 to 5 (-3 for actions, -2 for third action in sequence). Shouldn't have done the cool backflip, Wil. It added nothing mechanically.

As you can see, don't try to do multiple things unless you're very talented. Also note: Having to reserve actions to active dodge attacks and things? Counts as part of this bullshit. This is one of many reasons your Hunters are kind of hosed against Vamp w/Assault Rifle and their ability to do 6 things penalty free in one turn. You might dodge one bullet. Can you dodge six? No.

Sometimes you oppose someone else directly, either because they're trying to defend your attack or you're locked in a complex staring contest with them. So say Muldoon is arguing with a colleague and uses Manipulation+Science, trying to browbeat them with data on the horrors of Pentex runoff. She rolls 8 dice and gets 5 successes. Her colleague rolls Manipulation+Law to cite that Pentex has a lot of money and should get to do whatever it wants, and gets 3 successes. Muldoon has thus succeeded, but only with 2 Successes; the opposition's successes eat your successes like you rolled 1s. This will, I believe, cause a botch if you roll any 1s and they beat you if you're going by pure RAW, but naturally this is not clarified at any point.

Sometimes you will be rolling on intervals to see how long something takes; count successes as you go. Say Wil is trying to puzzle his way through an occult manuscript that Muldoon scoffed at. The GM declares each check takes 1 evening's study, and he rolls his 3 Occult and 2 Intelligence against the book's 6 TN. The GM also declares he needs 10 total successes to decipher the tome. Wil would keep rerolling his pool every night he spent studying until he got the 10 successes to be done with it. This is usually done when racing against time, such as when checking for Muldoon to cure Wil of the weird blood poisoning he got by being coated in the blood of the damned before he turns into some kind of abberant horror or grows eyes on his brain. Don't roll in that stuff, Wil.

Also, if you have a lot of time and keep failing at something, every time you fail and have time to try again, the Difficulty goes up 1.

So this all seems reasonably simple, but I've just described multiple different resolution mechanics, but more importantly: Much of the rest of this section is full of example situations and assigned difficulties and tests. The GM sets which stats and skills are rolled for every test; this is not like Myriad Song where the player declares 'I'm gonna try to use Academics, is this a reasonable use of the skill?'. The GM decides, say, that this time you have to use Appearance for the test to talk your way out of a ticket so the cop doesn't search your car. Or this time you have to use Manipulation. Or this one's Wits instead of Int or Stamina instead of Strength. There is also no actual guidance on when and why to set TNs to what. The variable TNs for successes will vastly alter the probability of a roll. Also, because 1s cancel successes, if you roll at Difficulty 10 you actually have the same overall chance of success if you roll 1 die or 20. The 1s cancelling successes really isn't taken into account in designing any of the systems on display here.

There are many mechanical levers for altering probability here, and absolutely no consideration or thought goes into using them. The entire mess is designed around the GM making decisions, and then assigning whatever number they want. 'If a plan is particularly clever or amusing, the GM may also award automatic success'. One of the things that really stands out for me in this book is the way it repeatedly talks about its own rules as something that get in the way and take you out of the story. The dice, etc are treated as boring formalities that limit creativity; if this is the case, why the gently caress does it have so many dice mechanics? Why is your character to heavily defined by what their numbers say they can do? There's no actual concern for math, balance, or mechanical design here; everything is done on gut feeling and 'the GM will fix it'. I hate that. I paid money for this book. I paid for someone to do game design. And here they're asking me to do their goddamn job for them.

So while you're heavily designed by the granular minutiae on your sheet (which you were also told to pay no mind to while writing them), the game just sorta...expects the GM will decide what happens most of the time. What Difficulty is trying to do a Cool Backflip? Who knows. What difficulty is it to try to invent a cure for the ash plague that some rear end in a top hat vampire is spreading to the kine? Who knows. How do you determine or set these numbers, or decide how many successes should be needed or what the interval is on an extended test? Who knows. The GM will make it up as they go along. But don't worry, you have permission to throw these ideas out! After all, these are just rules, they get in the way.

Some of this comes from the game's inability to decide its tone, I'm certain of it. It has very little focus as a game, so it can't tell you what you'll be doing. Bringing in the Spire comparison again, in Spire, you are a revolutionary. Your goal is to come up with ways in the fiction to try to leverage your strengths, avoid direct conflict, subvert enemies, flip enemy agents, and change the world, while dealing with a situation where you are outmatched and will have to make serious compromises and difficult decisions to succeed. Here, what are we aiming for? Realism? A model of human frailty? A story about revolution? Van Helsing? The rules don't know what they're trying to accomplish, and more importantly, the writers are eager to remind you over and over again that they consider the rules sort of a pointless formality (that fills a lot of the book) anyway. Are the Hunters doomed? Are the Hunters heroes? What is this game actually about? Hunter doesn't actually know, and its rules don't really care anyway. Hence all the paeans to Rule Zero, defender of lovely game design.

Next Time: Killing Monsters

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Night10194 posted:

Hunter: The Reckoning

Champion is a thematically awesome power that will mostly get you murdered. "A Defender with this power is now confident they can face their foe one-on-one." Hmm, that Defender sure doesn't have any of the combat abilities necessary to do that, book. Are you sure about this? Roll Appearance+Zeal (hope you're a sexy Defender Paladin) TN6, vs. monster's Wits TN 6. If you win, it has to fight you. Also spend 1 Conviction. You can spend more to draw the aggro of more monsters but you are already making a mistake making a vamp focus fire you, do not compound your error. If the monsters didn't want to fight at all, Champion doesn't work. This is a 'My Defender Is Going To Die' button, really.

I had visions of playing shark cage with this, but apparently that doesn't work in the fine print. About the best way seems to somehow get a creature's attention from afar (gunfire seems like a good candidate) and force it to traverse an area while sniping at it. Setting traps between you and it seems like a good trick to follow this up with.

The other would be to just go full Ned Kelly. Of course, all of this is a subversion of the power's intent, but subverting these powers is often the only way to make them useful.

One of the things that's missing with this review, I think, is just how confused the art makes this book. It's just nonstop humans owning monsters. If you want to see how well the art works (or, rather, doesn't work), you're in luck, though: it's freely available.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The art is entirely art of a game where the Hunters are an actual Exalted tie in. That's the best way I can describe it.

E: Similarly, I normally wouldn't just go into an entire spell list like this, but there are only 5 powers a Creed and only 7 Creeds and it's really important to see how weirdly useless or thematically out there the Hunter Edges are. They had very little idea what to do with those, same as the rest of the game.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:38 on Jul 5, 2019

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


It feels like generally the smartest thing to do as a Hunter is to not actually use your powers(which generally seem to require you getting close to your target, which is often where they're strongest) and instead to just set traps with large amounts of explosives and incendiaries and blow up the vampires/werewolves without them realizing anyone was even gunning for them.

Or at least, that is the vibe I am getting here.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I've appreciated the rundown, because it highlights the general push-pull of the game where they can't decide whether they just want Hunters to be wrecking monster face nonstop or underdogs struggling to down just one neckchomper.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Alien Rope Burn posted:

I've appreciated the rundown, because it highlights the general push-pull of the game where they can't decide whether they just want Hunters to be wrecking monster face nonstop or underdogs struggling to down just one neckchomper.

As the line went on it trended towards the latter, although the Imbued did start running into their own unique issues as well.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


PurpleXVI posted:

It feels like generally the smartest thing to do as a Hunter is to not actually use your powers(which generally seem to require you getting close to your target, which is often where they're strongest) and instead to just set traps with large amounts of explosives and incendiaries and blow up the vampires/werewolves without them realizing anyone was even gunning for them.

Or at least, that is the vibe I am getting here.

Unless I'm misremembering, a lot of WoD Critters, mages especially, have precognition powers to avoid things like this.

Stephenls
Feb 21, 2013
[REDACTED]


RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

In the Revised book Time of Thinblood, a Malkavian scientist brings the game mechanics into the universe and essentially quantifies blood points as a unit of potency in terms of vampire use, not physical amount. They call them Vitae Efficacy Units. https://whitewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Vitae_Efficacy_Unit

Elders are basically hybird cars to a neonate's pickup truck.

Dr. Netchurch was a Masquerade NPC. I was talking about Requiem. Different setting, different assumptions about vampire nature.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Night10194 posted:

If they get at least 1 success, they convert all Lethal to Bashing immediately, and regrow any severed limbs, lost eyes, etc. They can do this to allies. It's fluffed as them reaching out to another world where you didn't get your arm hacked off by an angry superhuman.

So is someone in another world now saying "hey where'd my arm go?" ?

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


PurpleXVI posted:

It feels like generally the smartest thing to do as a Hunter is to not actually use your powers(which generally seem to require you getting close to your target, which is often where they're strongest) and instead to just set traps with large amounts of explosives and incendiaries and blow up the vampires/werewolves without them realizing anyone was even gunning for them.

Or at least, that is the vibe I am getting here.

I never played any of the New World Chronicles of Darkness; wasn't that pretty much how Hunter: The Vigil went?

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




WoD would be better if it dropped all the angst poo poo. vampires being angsty is already just a holdover from a time when people were a lot more religious and being a vampire meant losing your eternal soul or w/e, but in the modern day hearing an immortal superman whine because he doesnt get to see the sun is risible.

then you move onto werewolf, who you'd think traditionally would have the most to complain about being involuntary shapeshifting murderers, but white wolf decided to make them the furry defenders of nature or some poo poo and cut the actual angst out of the story.

then you have poo poo like promethean where they had to make up a bunch of poo poo from whole cloth to explain why a frankenstein would be unhappy. 'oh they uh, make the place theyre staying messy, and people get mad at them for no reason. thats why these immortals who heal from electricity and dont even have to eat people are sad.'

the world of darkness seems like an awful place to be a normal human, why the hell would a superpowered frankenstein want to become a human when they know vampires and poo poo exist?

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



The only really cool part of WoD from all the stuff I've seen that sticks with it are the new Demons that are basically horrible mechanical beings made by God who is Machine to look over tasks without disobeying.

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Demon is good but is not one of the two games people actually play (Vampire, Changeling) or the game everyone talks about but never plays (Mage), so gently caress me no one will ever play it with me ever again.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





juggalo baby coffin posted:

WoD would be better if it dropped all the angst poo poo. vampires being angsty is already just a holdover from a time when people were a lot more religious and being a vampire meant losing your eternal soul or w/e, but in the modern day hearing an immortal superman whine because he doesnt get to see the sun is risible.

then you move onto werewolf, who you'd think traditionally would have the most to complain about being involuntary shapeshifting murderers, but white wolf decided to make them the furry defenders of nature or some poo poo and cut the actual angst out of the story.

then you have poo poo like promethean where they had to make up a bunch of poo poo from whole cloth to explain why a frankenstein would be unhappy. 'oh they uh, make the place theyre staying messy, and people get mad at them for no reason. thats why these immortals who heal from electricity and dont even have to eat people are sad.'

the world of darkness seems like an awful place to be a normal human, why the hell would a superpowered frankenstein want to become a human when they know vampires and poo poo exist?
Because they're lonely and sad and want to connect to other people.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





SunAndSpring posted:

Demon is good but is not one of the two games people actually play (Vampire, Changeling) or the game everyone talks about but never plays (Mage), so gently caress me no one will ever play it with me ever again.

People keep saying that about Mage but it's the only Chronicles game I've played for more than a small handful of sessions. Its good, imo.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Promethean's basic premise is brilliant and works perfectly, though. It's also not actually angsty at all, the entire theme of the game is essentially hopeful.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



juggalo baby coffin posted:

WoD would be better if it dropped all the angst poo poo. vampires being angsty is already just a holdover from a time when people were a lot more religious and being a vampire meant losing your eternal soul or w/e, but in the modern day hearing an immortal superman whine because he doesnt get to see the sun is risible.

then you move onto werewolf, who you'd think traditionally would have the most to complain about being involuntary shapeshifting murderers, but white wolf decided to make them the furry defenders of nature or some poo poo and cut the actual angst out of the story.

then you have poo poo like promethean where they had to make up a bunch of poo poo from whole cloth to explain why a frankenstein would be unhappy. 'oh they uh, make the place theyre staying messy, and people get mad at them for no reason. thats why these immortals who heal from electricity and dont even have to eat people are sad.'

the world of darkness seems like an awful place to be a normal human, why the hell would a superpowered frankenstein want to become a human when they know vampires and poo poo exist?
You're conflating and confusing different gamelines throughout this, FYI
Vampire: Masquerade is much more the immortal supermen than Requiem, where you periodically lose Blood Potency (the equivalent of Generation/powerstat) because you get fat and sleepy and when you wake up a few decades or hundreds of years later you've forgotten how to do some stuff and atrophied out some others. Requiem isn't so much about angst as it is about watching the world pass you by and trying to keep things exactly the same as long as you can so you can benefit maximally from it.
Werewolf: Apocalypse is the defenders of nature thing which has the conflict of "you're fighting a losing battle but you're a giant furry killing machine so I guess just fight anyway dawg" but also it's not that great; Forsaken is about territory and community improvement and also being both the worst thing that ever happened to the spiritual ecosystem and the only thing that cares about keeping it balanced.
Promethean: Is only in nwod/Chronicles of Darkness (like Requiem and Forsaken); as stated, is the hopeful one about maybe getting a happy ending out of things, and also, the 'oh they uh, make the place theyre staying messy, and people get mad at them for no reason.' is attempting to model the whole torch-wielding-mobs, exile-yourself-to-the-ice-floes of Frankenstein, in the first place.

If you want a potentially low-angst, "hey things aren't the best but you know who can fix that? us" game, check out the forthcoming second edition of Geist, which is about playing people who came back from the dead and it turns out that the afterlife fuuuuucking suuuuuuucks but since you can use your ghost roommate-in-your-head to pop down there and kick some ectoteeth in, go for it.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




Nessus posted:

Because they're lonely and sad and want to connect to other people.

they can connect with each other and any of the other supernaturals who are immune to disquiet. the wasteland poo poo seems to only be there so you can't say 'why don't they just live in a big commune and be friends with each other'.

Tuxedo Catfish posted:

Promethean's basic premise is brilliant and works perfectly, though. It's also not actually angsty at all, the entire theme of the game is essentially hopeful.

idk what is super hopeful about becoming a human who, given its the world of darkness, will be kidnapped and put in a blood farm, kidnapped and have medical experiments done on them, torn apart by a werewolf, possessed by a ghost, turned into soup by a mage, etc etc. and thats just on top of the regular shittiness of actual human life. i'd trade my humanity for being a super cool frankenstein in a second, that poo poo rules.

plus even if you find that part hopeful, they make a big deal out of the difficulty of the pilgrimage and how most prometheans will fail.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



juggalo baby coffin posted:

idk what is super hopeful about becoming a human who, given its the world of darkness, will be kidnapped and put in a blood farm, kidnapped and have medical experiments done on them, torn apart by a werewolf, possessed by a ghost, turned into soup by a mage, etc etc. and thats just on top of the regular shittiness of actual human life. i'd trade my humanity for being a super cool frankenstein in a second, that poo poo rules.

plus even if you find that part hopeful, they make a big deal out of the difficulty of the pilgrimage and how most prometheans will fail.
Yeah except the super cool frankenstein isn't you. It's a new entity that used your guts for parts, and all it knows about humanity is what it's learning from the people and things around it; humanity might actually suck poo poo to have! But it doesn't know, because it never had it.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





juggalo baby coffin posted:

idk what is super hopeful about becoming a human who, given its the world of darkness, will be kidnapped and put in a blood farm, kidnapped and have medical experiments done on them, torn apart by a werewolf, possessed by a ghost, turned into soup by a mage, etc etc. and thats just on top of the regular shittiness of actual human life. i'd trade my humanity for being a super cool frankenstein in a second, that poo poo rules.

Being a Promethean (or any splat, really) vastly increases your chances of getting murdered by monsters or monster-related stuff. Sure, life in the Chronicles sucks, but you're less likely to be killed by a vampire as a human who isn't the center of the plot than to be killed by other vampires/hunters as a protagonist vampire.

Most people in the setting just live lives kinda on edge about the supernatural stuff you've collectively agreed to pretend didn't happen. Which, y'know, is traumatizing and deeply horrible, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Prometheans have it worse than your average human, what with... everything.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One of the funny things about Expose is, considering how completely infested the oWoD is? Imagine just how many supernaturals 'all supernaturals in 1 square mile' reveals in a city.

Also funny: For all the talk of Hunters being from everywhere and a variety of faiths, we sure only ever hear about any in the US (There'll be a few who refer to coming from elsewhere, before being in the US) and all the references to how they see things religiously all seem to be Christian, naturally.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Yeah except the super cool frankenstein isn't you. It's a new entity that used your guts for parts, and all it knows about humanity is what it's learning from the people and things around it; humanity might actually suck poo poo to have! But it doesn't know, because it never had it.

well yeah i know that but if i had the option of swapping places with an immortal frankenstein they would be welcome to my humanity.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


I mean, among other advantages, regular human beings are the only people who can become Mages. :v:

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Is Promethean the one where you can be an ultra radioactive one and if you succeed in becoming human you pretty much immediately die of extreme radiation poisoning RAW? Because I really like that as the mondo extreme fast forward version of gaining humanity means you're going to die eventually and making the decision to accept that and still do it anyway and that death is a natural part of the human experience and is beautiful in its own way is maximum gothic Byronic musing that's on brand for a Frankenstein game.

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

One of the funny things about Expose is, considering how completely infested the oWoD is? Imagine just how many supernaturals 'all supernaturals in 1 square mile' reveals in a city.

Also funny: For all the talk of Hunters being from everywhere and a variety of faiths, we sure only ever hear about any in the US (There'll be a few who refer to coming from elsewhere, before being in the US) and all the references to how they see things religiously all seem to be Christian, naturally.
Well yeah, we got both kinds of religion here; we got Catholic and we got Christian.


juggalo baby coffin posted:

they can connect with each other and any of the other supernaturals who are immune to disquiet. the wasteland poo poo seems to only be there so you can't say 'why don't they just live in a big commune and be friends with each other'.
Ah, like Goon Island?

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