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Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Halloween Jack posted:

This touches on another oddity: NYC is Sabbat dominated, because crime in NYC was at its peak around the time Vampire 2e was published.

Important exception being the island of Manhattan which a lone Ventrue created a giant brood of 9th Generation(?) to keep the ol' Sword of Caine back. If we look at the game logically and by its own rules, which you must never do, Manhattan would have probably been desanguinated by now.

(Before you ask, yes, the Sabbat were too dumb to think Wall Street was important enough to control because it was all mortal-y and stuff.)

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Dawgstar posted:

(Before you ask, yes, the Sabbat were too dumb to think Wall Street was important enough to control because it was all mortal-y and stuff.)

Is that really stupid, though, when they exist in a setting where only characters with a connection to the supernatural are permitted any measure of agency or ability to matter to the story, while all mortal affairs are effortlessly dominated or brushed aside?

ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




yeah doesn't it turn out that Wall Street is controlled by wizards anyway?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Dawgstar posted:

Important exception being the island of Manhattan which a lone Ventrue created a giant brood of 9th Generation(?) to keep the ol' Sword of Caine back. If we look at the game logically and by its own rules, which you must never do, Manhattan would have probably been desanguinated by now.

(Before you ask, yes, the Sabbat were too dumb to think Wall Street was important enough to control because it was all mortal-y and stuff.)
Well, like, physically speaking they wouldn't be wrong, you don't need to rule the street turf around Wall Street. If somehow gangs did take control of that area enough to endanger the lives of finance criminals they'd just relocate operations to Newark or something.

Now if you mean the Sabbat didn't have the wit to ghoul some business criminals, that's fair.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


I've been going back and rereading oWoD reviews (not as many as you'd imagine, though I hardly blame anyone for not wanting to touch it based on what I heard), and it seems like what they really wanted PCs to do was...hang out and talk about how cool they were?

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Night10194 posted:

Mancala is really fun to play.
I loved playing it with my grandmother when she'd come and stay for a few days. We had a small cheap board with little glass craft stones we'd gotten from some store. Good times.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



ZeroCount posted:

yeah doesn't it turn out that Wall Street is controlled by wizards anyway?

Yeah, Wall Street would be the domain of The Syndicate. (Assuming you're in a mixed-splat WoD, rather than a 'Your splat is the only important one' WoD)

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Nessus posted:

Now if you mean the Sabbat didn't have the wit to ghoul some business criminals, that's fair.

This one. It turns out that the financial plan of 'bully people for money' can only go so far, and it wound up biting them later. No pun. Or maybe, I don't know.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hunter: The Reckoning

Thematically Necessary, Mechanically Terribly

So! Combat. I want to remind you (because I cannot emphasize this enough) that the game does not want you to make Wilhelm Metzger, master of the saber and swift Hunter of darkness, because it worries that a 'combat monster' character will turn things into an unrealistic action movie that weakens the deep themes of being sad and failing. I just want that in your mind as we get into how much good 'ole Wil can actually do in battle.

Combat is essential to the story Hunter is trying to tell, and Combat is already in a design space that is very challenging. See, Hunter requires confrontation. Hunter is a game about acting against terrible things you never knew existed. Most of these things are much more powerful than humans, and most of these things are deeply entrenched. You are challenging things with tremendous temporal and supernatural power, and that simply isn't going to happen without some of them trying to kill you. Thus, the writers have already set up a challenging design goal: Combat needs to be dangerous, and needs to come with ways to simulate how powerful your foes are but how you can leverage the few advantages you have to surprise and defeat them. You need to be able to confront the objects of your hunt for the game's core to make sense, but the fact that they outmatch you in direct combat has to come across, too; for what the writers are going for, you can't just be gothic badass action heroes who kill ten thousand devils (though that would be a fun game). They have set themselves up to need a combat system based on assassination, preparation, and guerilla action.

Guess what Storyteller really can't do? We get a bunch of confused writing about how an Imbued Hunter is a living weapon who can cross the line in the sand and take the fight to the supernatural (remember: You also aren't supposed to be superheroes! No-one would just act! But you must act!) and then it's into combat.

So combat is a goddamn mess because it's trying to be gritty and 'realistic' like many 90s combat systems, which in effect just means that you want to end-run around its rules as much as possible and you want to go first. The more you can break the action economy (Hunters cannot do this in any way), the more you can take hits or make dodges without using the normal defensive system, and the more you can do it all before your opponent, the more you will win. Initiative is one of the most important rolls you can make in a combat; in testing, Wil was often able to kill some of the lesser monsters from the Bestiary if he won Init in single combat. Init is Dex+Wits (hope you bought Wits; you probably knew to buy Dex if you were fighting, because 90s game, so of course agility/dex/whatever is the most powerful combat stat)+d10. Everyone rolls at the start of each turn, but realistically a lot of serious combats will probably end on the first turn or two since your PCs are very fragile and their goal is to kill the enemy before they act if at all possible.

Next, you propose actions and lock in what you're trying to do this turn, including multiple actions. You do this in reverse Init order. So say Wil manages to beat a Vamp to the punch, the Vamp declares what they'll do, then Wil can declare his actions based on that. You can reserve actions to defend at that time if you're going first, but this does the whole 'multiple actions' penalty to everything you do, so spending time preparing active defenses rather than trying to move and kill the enemy before they act is probably a losing proposition in the long run. You've probably only got one shot before that thing hulks out, takes 6 turns, and hits you with 6 10+ dice Lethal attacks; don't waste them preparing to maybe dodge ONE of those because you really aren't going to manage to stop all 6. Also note: Multiple Actions outside of firing multiple bullets will take place outside of this initial action, on a separate Init order; this is one of the advantages of guns, that you can fire more than one shot in a 'combo' in one action. While Wil might be able to swing his katana more, he can't do it until after the monster goes due to the Multiple Actions rule, which is a big problem for Wil. Any character that has not yet acted can also abort their entire turn to Defend by spending a WP point or making a WP roll, TN 6. Note this only defends against one attack, so if you do this you'd better be drat sure your buddies will be able to kill that foe and that you aren't going to be targeted again.

You really have to remember in all of this that a Hunter who has taken even 2 wounds starts suffering penalties, and that you can't 'soak' Lethal unless you use the optional 'PCs are more Action Hero and can Soak Lethal' rule. Also, Armor can Soak Lethal damage even in the normal rules, but Armor has a problem. Armor penalizes Dex. This is a 90s game. Dex is your single most important physical combat stat, determining all defenses and all to-hit rolls. A Kevlar Vest with -1 Dex and +3 Armor Stamina might be worthwhile, and -0/+1 Reinforced Clothing is definitely worth wearing (Such as Wil's Hunter's coat! See. Bloodborne knew what was what) since why not, but heavier armor is as bad for you as it is good. Losing offense to gain partial defense is usually going to be a losing proposition since again, you really want to win as fast as possible since active defending is a huge pain in the rear end and enemies will blow you away offensively. 5 points of 50-50 Soak against a vamp doing Lethal 10 6 times in one turn is not going to save you and having 3 less points of Dex (which includes Init) might have been the difference between having a slim chance and having none.

Seriously, do not bother trying to balance attack and defense: Let's take Wil. Wil tries to take a swing and invest his Conviction in Cleaving a foe as a single action? 14 dice. Even most enemies in this game will have a tough time dodging that, and if he's going first they actually have to burn their whole turn to try to Dodge, I think. The active defense rules are very poorly written; you can declare one Defense among your attacks and if you do you can defend as many times as you get attacked by enemies later in Init order (at a worsening penalty the longer you have to Defend) but it's deeply unclear if you can declare a Defense while fighting later in the order and use that to defend against attacks earlier in the order, taking a penalty to your attack at the end when it's finally your turn. Really, the entire active defense system is a huge clusterfuck. Anyway, say Wil did that while declaring a bunch of other actions, instead; his attack roll would suffer for it and every extra success he gets on the attack turns into more damage, and more damage is one of his only prayers for winning.

I should also note a Combat Round is 3 seconds. So all this rigamarole happens in 3 seconds.

Anyway, if you hit someone, you do damage equal to your weapon's damage+Successes. So say Wil takes that big 'ole 14 dice holy cleave at a guy and gets 6 successes after subtracting any 1s. His Katana does Str+2, and he's Cleaving for +2 more, so he's base Damage 8. Now he's Damage 14. You do damage by making another dice-pool roll vs. TN 6. 1s still remove successes. So on average he'll do about 6 Wounds. Remember: 7 Wounds will take someone out if they don't have extra health levels. And if they suffer any Wound penalties, 6 Wounds will give them -5 to all their dice pools and stops them doing more than crawling away; Wil can fairly easily cripple or kill in one solid blow if his enemy can't soak. That's the only trick he has. Also remember he can only do that once a scene. Most characters cannot Soak Lethal damage. Not even supernaturals, despite that being a thing in their own game lines. You do get a note that supernaturals generally treat gunfire damage as 'bashing' (less lethal) and thus get to Soak against guns, but a blade like Wil's will go through a woof or vamp pretty hard in Hunter. The issue is that Wil has to get close, start close, and win Init; when we get to the bestiary, we will see this is a tall order even for a lightning fast Hunter with 5 Dex. And even then, with average rolls he will not actually drop his target in one.

Another important note: There are whole pages of alternate rules for headbutting, scratching, kicking, etc. They are useless. Every single one of these moves either effectively does nothing different than just punching a guy, or somehow raises the TN of your swing and that is really not worth it for +1 dice of damage. Similar for firing a three round burst, for +1 to TN but +2 dice. Firing a full auto burst is +10 dice of accuracy but +2 TN. You can also try to shoot multiple enemies, or fire a burst into an AoE, but again; no-one actually ran any numbers on what these actions really do for you. You can aim for the head or other parts of the body but this just raises TN (which hurts your chances a lot) for small amounts of extra damage. Each gun has a 'rate of fire', the maximum number of extra action shots you can take in one move. Using two guns at once 'applies +1 TN to the off-hand gun unless you are ambidextrous (since there are no rules for how to be ambidexterous, feel free to have your Deep PC Concept include their challenge to master both hands)' but otherwise just lets you take more shots. Twin Desert Eagles can be very effective, in true 90s fashion. Or twin Colt Pythons; learn from the heroes of Resident Evil and use a magnum. You can also try to hit a vamp in the heart with a stake crossbow, but this is a TN 9 shot and has to inflict 3 actual damage or it doesn't work, and the crossbow is a Damage 5 weapon that takes 5 turns to reload, sooooo...

Also, something to keep in mind: Guns do a fuckload of damage if you are human. Even against monsters, they might do enough Bashing to put the bastard down and it might be worth it to be able to snipe them in an alleyway and avoid getting into close combat. Multiple snipers on the roof while Wil draws his katana and gets the bloodsucker's attention before the dots sweep across his head and blow the rear end in a top hat away? Might work if you can pull it off. But also keep in mind how Bashing works; you fill in half-marks on your health boxes for Bashing damage. These cause the associated Wound penalties, and once someone is Incapacitated by Bashing they drop and further Bashing finishes the checkmarks, becoming Lethal. On one hand, this works fine on a vamp; you can riddle them with bullets until they drop to the ground in Torpor then walk up and finish them with your dracula-killin' bowie knife like Quincy Morris and God intended. If your enemy does not suffer Wound penalties though? They effectively have double HP against Bashing. So don't expect to drop zombies too easily until your Deagles have blown off both their arms, blown them in half, and even then you might need to get close and stomp their head to jelly with your boot. Guns can be effective since they attack so much (and your team can focus fire more easily), and they're a lot less investment heavy than hand to hand, but an awful lot of the supernatural laughs off bullets unless they're high caliber and they eat a lot of them.

For example, a Colt Python (Heavy Revolver; one of the few things I approve of is that at least WW didn't get super into trying to differentiate every goddamn caliber) does 6 damage. Against a normal human, this is an average of 3 wounds a shot. Against a woof, vamp, or zombie? They get to throw their 4-8 Stamina into resisting it. And against a zombie you need to do 20 damage to kill them (10 health levels, ignore wound penalties, so takes 20 Bashing). Guns...well, they can have problems against the big boys. And the vampire won't have this problem with you when they shoot back. It's not uncommon for a vamp to carry a piece.

Melee weapons generally do damage based on Strength. Knives and stuff do +1, a katana does +2 (why would you use any other sword, this is WoD. All Swords are equally effective though, so if you want to machete some fuckers go ahead), a big fire axe does +3. Also note that every weapon has a Concealment rating: P (Pocket), J (Jacket), T (Trenchcoat, because of course) and N (No). Wil's Katana is T, as is a sawn off shotgun, so like any good Hunter he wears a long coat with a high collar that he can cover part of his face with and conceals his blade and blunderbuss under it. Muldoon thinks he's a loving weirdo and dresses like a normal person since she can hide her pistol in a shoulder holster under her labcoat or in her suit.

Like I said, combat is a complete and total mess. It really doesn't have much room for how you're supposed to find ways to overcome the tremendous advantages of your enemies, even though combat is thematically necessary to the game. It shouldn't be the only thing the game is about, and there are other ways to resist, sure...but how are you going to do a game with a theme of rising up in righteous anger against age-old oppressors who had no idea you were coming if you never take a brick in a tube sock to the face of a smug Ventrue businessman or throw the occasional molotov? Plus, if you have no rules for escaping your superhuman enemies, how will you deal with the PCs being caught and attacked when they're unready? Combat and confrontation are high stakes and very important to the game's story, and its system just cannot handle the sorts of things it needs to to make combat engaging. Worse, PCs don't really have the tools to engage with the combat system that exists; their enemies definitely do!

Next Time: Bookworm55 is an idiot

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hunter: The Reckoning

Night10194 critiques Bookworm55; What kind of idiot has numbers in their handle?

The Bestiary is entirely in-character except for the actual statblocks, and our main narrator for this slice of fun is a very stupid Innocent. Bookworm55 is a college student and path of Mercy Hunter who is in hospital on account of his legs being bodily ripped off of him by a vampire. He was trying to do interview with a vampire stuff with a hot vampire girl and then a smarter Hunter tried to follow him and put her down, and she got, uh, upset. I say a smarter Hunter because A: Bookworm spends basically the entire Bestiary talking about how 'maybe if we just talk to monsters, many of them are actually better than humans and smarter and faster and greater' and B: She was trying to blood bond him. If you follow the fiction properly, he was getting led into a trap by a vamp who was making him pay for their talks by feeding on him, and he mentions having been fed some of her blood and realizing it didn't seem to do anything to a Hunter; she was trying to make the stupid bastard her little pet Ghoul. So yeah. Good job, idiot. Now you have no legs, got your buddy killed, and are sitting in a hospital writing on the internet and waiting to see if your vamp buddy comes to finish eating you.

When we get to stats, I will be classifying monsters by Can Muldoon Kill It, Can Wil Kill It, and Avoid.

Bookworm is our main writer for the whole thing and I hate him. We get italicized quotes from other Hunters in the field, and most of them are a little less 'I dunno, maybe if I hit the vampire, I'll be even worse than the vampire'/:decorum: types. But after many of those, our friend Booky will have a quote like 'Well, the werewolf might not've ripped his arm off if he hadn't tried to stop the woof from killing two men over a dice game!'. Booky also starts off with 'I've never done drugs or alcohol or traveled much, I just walk around and try to talk to monsters and read about people on the internet'. He also starts with a big disclaimer that, of course, he's an 'unreliable narrator' and everything he says could be wrong, which is one of the annoying things about White Wolf In Character Fiction. It saves on editors and coordination if you can contradict yourself a shitload then go 'oh, uh, unreliable narrator!'. This isn't like Old World Bestiary, where we get a bunch of different perspectives so that you can come to your own conclusions; this is about a whiny kid on the internet posting quotes from actual Hunters and telling you not to be mean to the man-eating horrors of the night. "Don't use my guide as a 'how to kill'! I'm writing it so you can understand the monsters are people!" he says, after one of them tried to mind-slave him and ripped off his legs. 'Many monsters are far better people than humans!'

We start the party with the best entry, though: Mages. See, Booky ran into a Mage he knows only as Purple who seemed to take a liking to the silly lad and took him under his wing a bit. Purple led a charmed life; that seems to be how warlocks and wizards work their magic. Guy mugs him? Gun jams. Needs a twenty to pay for his steak and eggs at the diner? Someone dropped one under the seat. Car about to run him down? Wizard falls into an open manhole to escape. Purple told him very little, and enjoyed being obtuse and having someone to be wise at while he enjoys his diner food and coffee. Whenever Booky asked if some new twist of fortune, Purple would just smile and say 'doesn't look like it, does it?' :smugwizard:. From what Booky could tell, there are a bunch of philosophies among Mages but they don't make any goddamn sense and Mages don't explain them. Also, sometimes Mages get together in big cabals on top of skyscrapers and have magic duels where they call down lightning at each other for reasons that don't make any sense to him. I like to imagine it's like the fight between Lo Pan and Eg Shen in Big Trouble in Little China, really.

Rules-wise, Mages aren't anything special, except they have a huge Willpower pool for mojo and can spend 'up to their Wits in WP' a turn to 'have tremendous luck'. This is left entirely to GM fiat. Whether or not any of the heroes can kill a wizard is basically down to GM May I. Which is pretty fitting to oMage from everything I've heard about it, since arguing with your GM about what your magic can do and what counts as coincidental seems to have been most of the game. Hunters generally see Mages as weirdos who aren't that important to their struggle, since Mages usually don't eat people.

Vamps are the next big entry and they're a doozy, both fluffwise and ruleswise. I've already gone into Booky's dumbass adventures with the sexy vampire party girl who was tricking him, but you also get a description of a Hunter whacking a couple zombies only to be accosted by a stereotypical Italian mobster with fangs telling him not to gently caress with his pets again (Hello, extremely racist and badly done clan Giovanni). Vamps are described as sexy, powerful, and extremely charismatic. They get all the girls, so they can eat them. Vamps don't like sunlight. Vamps really don't like fire. Vamps need human blood; animal blood won't do it. Our idiot author takes the time to wonder if it's really immoral for a vampire to eat a human, since humans are so inferior to them, because he has been deeply charmed by a Vamp and probably mind-whammied without his Conviction up a couple times. Crosses and holy water won't do anything (Unless you are Grunfeld Bach, hero of True Faith, but Booky can't know about True Faith), stakes to the heart will stun them but good loving luck staking a superhuman superfast vamp, vamps bleed (this is where he lets on she fed him her blood, which if you know Vampire means you know she was trying to Ghoul him), and killing them for good is loving hard. You need to behead them or burn them to ash.

Despite this, rules-wise? Vamps aren't that durable until they activate their Be Durable power. You get 3 vamp profiles: Young ones (Wil Can Kill It, Muldoon MIGHT Kill It), who get only a single extra turn from superspeed, only +2 Stamina (which can Soak Lethal) from durability, and only +2 Str from Superstrength (they also have to spend 1 'willpower' (it's blood) to activate any of those). They also have pretty human stats and not too high of skills. Neonates? Hunters can handle Neonates. Medium Vamps are those who've been around for a few decades, and this is where it gets tough. They have 5 Dex native, and get 'extra actions on their turn equal to their Dex' if they activate superspeed, +4 to Str for Potence, and +4 Stamina from durability. Also have mind control and hiding powers, but Hunters can get around those. The real problem is this rear end in a top hat has +11 to Init, with 5 Dex, 6 Wits. A better built Wil could have +9. So Vamp probably goes first. If it doesn't, Wil can kill it, but it probably does. The Ancient Vampire can't be fought in the combat engine because it's Extra Actions are literally 'As many as the GM thinks it should have to reflect its incredible power', etc etc. Plus, even if Hunters took its powers away, it's Init +14 and still attacks at Dex 7 and combat skill 5-6, with all its stats in the 6s and 7s. You're hosed if you try to fight one. Vamps hate fire and sun, so you're probably better off trying to trick one into the firey orb's cleansing gaze than trying to fight the drat thing.

Next we get zombies. I don't remember zombies being a big deal in the WoD, but I suppose they really needed an enemy weak enough for Hunters to actually fight in the combat engine. Did I mention if you're fighting more than one foe your Difficulty for attacks and defenses go up by 1 per? That's pretty relevant to swarms of weak zombies. Zombies come in three flavors, though fluff-wise they're all pretty much the same. All of Booky's stories about the deaders are about them coming back to get retribution; sometimes they stick around after killing the frat boys who ran them over and keep axe-murdering frat boys until they're put down, sometimes they do their unfinished business then get back in the grave, and sometimes they're so rotted and dead that they can't even remember what brought them back. All of them are immensely hard to kill. The Hidden are extremely intelligent and have 5s in all physical stats, and are essentially Wights; these are undead that will pass for human among humans since humans without Hunter powers gloss over their 'wrong' appearance. They're intelligent, fast, skilled, and strong. They usually have day jobs and cover lives, while being serial killers or working on vengeance or whatever in the night. They take 15 Health Levels of damage to kill, suffer no wound penalties, and can regenerate a wound a round, too. Wil can kill a Hidden since they're both acting on human action economy and he's using a weapon they're vulnerable to, but it'd be a fight. Muldoon really can't.

Walkers are noticeably weaker and easier to spot even without using Second Sight, though all normal humans will 'panic and run' at noticing a zombie of any kind (no word on if this means Hunters just freak out randomly and run around until they're far enough away to spend Conviction to be able to play the game). They're effectively just Hidden, but weaker, and they often do their one task and then go back to the grave. Our story with them is a guy who came back and killed his wife for cheating on him. Walkers are very, very direct. They're not stupid, but for example, the example Hidden took a job at a bank and used it to find out who was at what frat house at the university so she could go and kill her own killers (and then keep murdering people on the campus because monster). A Walker would get up from where they were run down, march right after the car that killed them, march into the frat house, and just kill whoever was there and then crawl back into a grave. Both Wil and Muldoon can potentially kill a Walker if Muldoon's lucky with her gun. They're still dangerous, but nowhere near as quick and skilled as a Hidden, and they 'only' have 10 health levels.

Shamblers are just straight mindless Resident Evil zombies. Blow off the head completely and they die. Shoot them a bunch and they fall over for a bit then get back up. Tough, stupid, and as close as Hunter ever gets to mooks. Due to the Multiple Opponents rule, Wil would still struggle a lot with a group of them, but he'd kill a lone one with such ease that you might as well not get the dice. They can't use weapons and just bite and punch. They're slow as hell, but still have 10 Health and suffer no penalties. Even Muldoon can take one of these if she has enough ammo and room to back up. Gonna take a lotta ammo, though; they're Stamina 6. Note they can't Soak Lethal; none of the zombies can. Wil's Katana still blows right through their defenses.

Booky leaves us with a last note that Hidden and Walkers should be talked to if possible, despite all his examples describing them as vengeful serial killers. If you have noticed a theme where he doesn't seem to notice he's presenting these things as relentless killers that can only be stopped by violence (or manipulators who are using a naive Hunter) while generally taking their side in things, well, that's just Booky for ya'.

Next Time: What the hell is a Goblin

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Sig: Manual of the Primes
Divine Mandate



Highspire is the home of the wealthy and the powerful. They have always been a part of the City Between – the Powers in their cathedrals, the factions in their mighty fortresses, yes, but the area is also home to many monuments and institutions meant to promote the cultures of various communities or commemorate their history. Demons, gods and wealthy nobles all make their homes there, as do the leading merchants, politicians and so on. It is not rare that these are the same beings, in fact. The mystic and mundane who demand respect and control valuable parts of Sig are the chief inhabitants of Highspire.

The Golden Spires are impossible to miss. They are immense towers of shining radiance, after all. The status and influence of their owners is unquestionable. Some are held by factional leaders as a sign of their power in the city. Others belong to potent archmagi, who use them for arcane workshops and containment for experiments. Some belong to Powers or their children, discontent with merely holding a temple in Godstreet. The Golden Spires operate outside the normal laws of the City Between. Each tower is legally considered an independent domain, subject solely to the authority of its owner. Some wizards even alter the laws of reality within their spires to suit themselves, perhaps binding them to shard-realms or establishing permanent planar gates. The spires are often home to rich treasure vaults full of coin, relics, artifacts or prized wines. Many get the bright idea of breaking into the towers and raiding them for wealth – but the risks are, of course, immense.

The local NPC is Ramella, the Golden Heir. She is a demigod, writer for the Sig Gazetteer and devotee of Brossien of Mystic Song. Her strengths are Divinity and Golden Blades, her weakness is Daughter of the Exile. She is herself a goddess, carved from solid, living gold. Her dreadlocks glow from within as they fall over her broad shoulders, and while she appears to be made of metal, she is weightless and floats a few inches over the ground effortlessly. On her head she bears a crown of golden blades that shines in the light. Behind her, she trails the scents of sandalwood and rosewater. Around her, the chaotic din of the City Between fades to silence. She is daughter of the Silent Regent, and that comes with baggage. She is bound to the city itself by ancient pact, and she alone can hear its words. She alone may access her mother’s mazes and command her cryptic servants. It is only a matter of time before someone realizes her secret (which is left undetailed, for GMs to fill in as needed). Ramella was raised in the Garden by Cyathea the Tower and often returns to visit. She was dumped by Simus the Balancer, and the breakup went badly for everyone. Ramella also secretly subsidizes the work of Calvyn the Shoulder as thanks for a favor he once did for her.

Tsarhome was the neighborhood from which the Silent Regent commanded the City Between until her disappearance, a generation ago. Under her, the Powers were exiled from the city and anyone that displeased her was imprisoned. Her rule was complete and total, her sheer will keeping the entire city controlled. Her palace was built of green marble and gold, a monument to her unending rule. When she was overthrown, the Paper Guard seized the place and turned it into a central administrative facility. Now, Tsarhome is the nominal center of government for Sig. It is a huge facility, full of bureaucrats and public servants. The surface levels house ambassadors from all of the city’s Factions as well, always busy with meetings and briefings. The lower levels are home to the high functionaries that control the daily administration of the city. Under them is the city morgue, run by the Dustkeepers. Rumor holds that the Silent Regent’s secret prisons also remain, buried deeper still.

The local NPC is Negasi the Planner, an Ancestral and member of the Paper Guard, follower of Nyx the Oracle. Her strengths are Prophecy and Bureaucracy, her weakness Overworked. Negasi is the head of the administrators and bureaucrats that keep Sig in some semblance of normal operation. She is an ancient spirit, bound for centuries to service of the city and its people. She appears as a small, slight woman with ebony skin and a beautiful smile, and her every move is accompanied by the gentle sound of bells. Negasi adores her work. She loves to feel useful to people and she loves being important to the city’s daily operations. She finds the network of rules that bind the City Between to be an elegant piece of art, and she is deeply involved in the details of daily maintenance, from road repair schedules to business licensing. Every time she can serve, even when no one else notices, fills her with pride. Negasi has been working with Sachi the Aegis to help improve fire safety procedures in the Stacks. She is in love with Kilku Ratface and hopes one day to be able to run her fingers through his glossy fur. Kinish the Crow is her current project, as Negasi wants to elevate her to a position of power and privilege.

The Garden is one of the few truly green places in the City Between. Most of Sig is barren, made of buildings and cobblestones and little that is alive. The Garden is quite the opposite – a grand park and refuge for living things, a symbol of the undying resilience of nature. It is a great redwood forest, its trees impossibly tall towers of living wood that simultaneously serve as useful structures. The place is a tranquil one, where locals feed the duckbunnies in the ponds. It is a garden of white roses and black lotus flowers, home to most of the few birds and beasts native to Sig. It is easily the most pleasant part of the city, and the rich and powerful prefer to spend much of their leisure time there, enjoying the fresh air and the greenery. The Enforcers forbid the place to commoners except during strictly regulated periods of time…unless bribed, anyway. Secret break-ins during the night are commonplace by lovers looking for a thrill.

Cyathea the Tower is a Sylva, member of the Guild of Toil and worshipper of Kestranna the Harvester. Their strengths are Gardening and Infrastructure, their weakness Meddling. Cyathea is a massive, walking oak tree who has become the pillar around which the garden stands. (Metaphorically. They are not planted in one spot.) They naturally found themselves drawn to the Garden long ago, and soon rose to become its master arborist. Now, they are in charge of the redwoods, bushes and flowers that fill the massive park. On top of this, they hold many other roles in service to the city. They are a social planner par excellence, managing all of the many celebrations scheduled in the Garden, and also work as a matchmaker that loves to set people up with each other. Most importantly, however, they are a spy that loves gathering blackmail on the nobles that constantly surround them. Cyathea is always there in the Garden, listening. They like to share a cup of tea and gossip with Calvyn the Shoulder. They’re currently seeking out someone that would be a good match for the lonely Ghreeju the Stump. They worry endlessly about Aradarai the Sharp and his isolation from the rest of the world.

Godstreet is the primary religious battleground of Sig. The Powers, ever status-conscious, constantly seek to prove themselves greater than each other. Dozens of temples, mosques, shrines and other holy sites line the long street. The most powerful and prestigious religions can be found at the top of Upper Godstreet, while the more unpopular Powers are relegated to the smaller sites of Lower Godstreet. The cults and priesthoods are always fighting and jockeying for power, each longing to move up to a bigger, grander site further up the street. Pride, faith and zeal are all common here, and the clerics battle over the souls of visitors. The streets are lush with the smell of incense and burnt offerings, and endless chants, gongs and singing prayers fill the air. Demons and divine servants are commonly seen going about their business, spreading the word of their eternal masters. The street is holy ground, and the people of Sig go there in search of miracles. Sometimes, they may even be willing to pay the price of one.

Simus the Balancer is an Aesigilar, member of the Guild of Advocates and quite possibly the only atheist living on Godstreet. His body was fashioned from simple clay and animated by the living sigil that is his self. He is a large, clumsy fellow who lumbers about Godstreet each day, serving as mediator between the many Powers and their servants in an effort to keep them from coming to blows and starting holy wars. His job is not usually a pleasant one, and he has become the de factor negotiator for the many gods and devils of Godstreet. He is who the arch-demons go to when they want to make a peace treaty, and the one who must labor endlessly to stop the Powers declaring war on each other. He does it because, quite simply, he finds the Powers fascinating intellectually. He is always trying to learn what traits lead small cults to grow powerful and what purposes various rituals actually fulfill. He puzzles over why a mortal might worship a demon of suffering over a benevolent healing goddess, and many similar questions. His work with the Powers is entirely so that he can one day find out all the answers to his questions about faith and religion. Simus is very worried about his old friend, Sachi the Aegis, who hasn’t dropped by for a visit in months. He often confiscates religious relics, which he then sells to Elakin the Runebound for a profit. He finds Brok the Damned and his pitiful state rather disgusting.

Next time: The Primes and Their Infinite Glory

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hunter: The Reckoning

Seriously, what the hell is a Goblin. Is this from Changeling? Did anyone play Changeling Original? It seemed terrible.

So we start off with some fae. They gotta be fae because their rules say Cold Iron will gently caress them like silver fucks a woof and that's a sure fire signal of faerie bullshit. They're weird gremlin people and Booky describes them attacking a maternity ward while he was in the hospital, seeking to drink the blood of newborns. A new father who was there to visit his new kid got Imbued on the spot and turned into an Avenger so he could actually do something while Booky just watched these things try to eat babies, and that drove the monsters off. Booky seems so sad the man turned into one of those Avenger brutes, of course; maybe if it hadn't been his own baby in danger he could have been understanding and caring about the monsters instead of reacting to baby-eating gremlin horrors with 'holy poo poo, kill it!'. They're really not that dangerous, mechanically. They have completely undefined 'physical powers', so who knows if those grant them any kind of mechanical bonus. They can make WP tests to try to eat you with their murderous gremlin teeth (WP 8, every success is 1 level of lethal damage, so you better dodge if you can, or go first). They can eat your car, too, if you leave them alone with it for a scene. They can also create swords and axes out of thin air for one WP. Gremlins can't soak damage from 'Cold Iron', but they also can't actually Soak Lethal, so...Wil just beheads the little poo poo with a katana and Muldoon shoots them. Either character can kill one of these, and Wil can do it easily. They don't even have great Init.

Ghosts are Ghosts. Most of them aren't that harmful and just want to be put to rest. They tend to be spooky and weird, and Hunters without something like Wil's Cleaving Katana can't actually hurt them. Booky's fluff about ghosts is mostly useless because it's about a subplot with his Mage friend Purple getting in trouble and maybe being grabbed by the Technocracy rather than telling you anything useful about Ghosts. I don't care about your drat subplots, kid! I'm here to get fluff and material to use in my games, not to read your drat novella. Ghosts can mess with your feelings, teleport, and gently caress with tech, but aside from inspiring dangerous emotions to feed on them in the case of some rear end in a top hat wraiths, the average ghost really isn't a threat; they're more of a puzzle/mystery. Unless Wil comes screaming into the parlor and activates his fire katana and beheads the spirit while Muldoon was trying to solve its murder, causing her to be very cross with him for trying to steal the spotlight and also for being a dick to a ghost who was having a hard century as it was. That scamp. Poltergeists are bigger dicks and are exactly as you expect; if you're not careful, here comes the barrage of levitating knives. Again, Wil can kill these because Cleave can sword ghosts, Muldoon can't. They're able to gently caress with you physically while you might not be able to do the same, and that's a bad situation to be in.

Now, the one way both kinds of Ghosts can become a problem is possession. As illustrated by the story of a Hunter who killed an old man who menaced him with a shotgun (he was unarmed at the time; accidentally knocked the old guy out a window while trying to take the gun). Awhile later, his girlfriend gets possessed and starts throwing him around the room while screaming about how he 'killed me'. That's what happens with vengeful spirits. They can make the human they're possessing much stronger, and worse, you run into really weird legal hurdles if you have to kill a possession victim. Even trying to wrestle a kid with a knife to the ground isn't going to look good when the cops get there. Ghosts will also possess animals; probably way more free to put a bullet in a possessed hyena, but it's still a super-hyena-ly strong hyena with ghost powers so that might be trouble. Plus, you know, killing the host doesn't do poo poo to the ghost. Second Sight will at least show you someone's possessed and a few Edges can get them free. Then, once the ghost is out, call on Wil to light his katana on holy fire and chop the ghost in half. Good work, Wil.

Finally, we get to the other marquee enemy: The Woofs. Booky's stories at least include a case of woofs actively helping Hunters before he moves into cases of wolves ripping people in half for no reason; the first is a story about Hunters who ran into 20 zombies when they expected three. Suddenly, a team of four giant wolves appeared out of nowhere, tearing into the monsters before one of them turned into a huge wolf-man with a giant sword. By the end of it, when the woofs realized the humans who had helped them fight the zombies weren't running away and screaming in insanity, one turned back into a human (I hope he knew the Rite of Pants) and asked if they were okay, giving them a hand and helping them get to safety. It is possible to run into friendly woofs who are just interested in fighting the zombie/vampire/Wyrm critter/gremlin/whatever you were fighting, after all. Not all of them are total jerks. The second story is one where a Hunter was having a drink down in Mexico, watching a rough looking dude lose at dice to two others. Eventually, the loser turned into a giant wolf-man out of frustration and ripped one of the men in half, before tearing the Hunter's arm off for trying to stop him. Booky takes the time to note that the woof probably wouldn't have attacked if the Hunter hadn't interfered in his business. Booky you are really not selling Innocents to me here.

Another Hunter account says he observed a woof single-handedly come in and wreck up the construction site for a new mini-mall before sitting down on a smoking tractor, pulling out the cooler the construction guys had stashed on site, and drinking all their beer for a job well done. The Hunter decided not to interfere because 10 foot woof, and the woof was doing all of this at night when all the workers had gone home; wasn't actually killing anybody so the Hunter didn't think it was worth risking a fight to protect the honor of a mini-mall. Weirder? The woof then vanished into thin air. Woofs can do that. Woofs have many powers. Booky then launches into his own story about finding a sad teenager and taking him to get some food, hearing a weird story from the kid about his magic werewolf family (hidden somewhat behind other words) and how the kid was 'just' 'kin' to them and not a real woof and so they didn't respect him properly and he was lonely and unhappy. Then two woofs in human form showed up to fetch him back to the pack. Being an Innocent, Booky tried his Illuminate powers on them and thus showed both woofs he was looking. Being mysterious, wise native americans (WW loved mysterious, 'wise', racist portrayals of non-whites), one of them looked right at him and said 'Use your light for knowledge, not blinding', and he falls all over himself telling the reader how it was the most profound and wise thing ever, and their wisdom redeemed all shapechangers for him. They're all good, you see, because one of them said something vague to him once while dragging a runaway who was deeply unhappy with his family life home.

Woofs have really weird stats because their stats shift a ton as they, well, shift. Suffice to say even a 'weak' woof is Str 7, Dex 5, Stamina 6 in Big Woof Warform. They can take extra actions equal to their Dex for one WP a turn, and can also spend any of those extra actions regenerating 1 Lethal damage per action, at the cost of 1 more WP per point healed. So if you don't kill a woof, they'll heal to full right quick. Note this costs them actions they could be spending on killing you and it's very WP intensive, so it's not a total loss. Woofs can neither soak nor regenerate damage from silver; silver bullets will let even Muldoon put a hurting on a woof. Unfortunately, because of their enlightened and wise ways, Woofs have high Wits and they already had high Dex, so...good Init. Woofs cannot actually Soak Lethal RAW here, though, so with a lot of luck Wil can actually behead an enormous woof in one blow. This is not something to count on. There are no trivial combats with woofs; these things are killing machines. They're also amazing trackers, very hard to sneak up on, and if they're feeling tuckered out and they get a turn, they can just make a WP roll and a single TN 6 success lets them step into another dimension and leave the fight with no chance of pursuit.

Then they get their pack and come for you tomorrow night, because if you blew your one chance to take out a lone woof they're not gonna stay a lone woof.

Booky then closes out the bestiary by talking more about how good all woofs are because you see, they easily could have killed him but chose not to, then he expands this to all monsters. As if Hunters were the party with power in this situation. Hunters are not exactly superheroes holding the power of life and death over their enemies, which is one of the reasons Booky's admonitions bug me so. The Mercy creeds, as written, tend to be written like it's a trivial choice between killing and not killing. Hunters are horribly outmatched; this Bestiary should tell you that much. Surprise is almost their only hope to actually win any sort of confrontation with monsters. And most of Booky's stories are of monsters slaughtering people for sport, eating people, or in his case, manipulating him and trying to make him a slave, then ripping his legs off. But no. Many of them are better than humans. Kinder. Stronger. Smarter.

This is a place where The Reckoning's confused mechanical writing really messes with what the writers want to do. Plus, given Booky is already in the thrall of a vamp, it's easy to assume he might be bamboozeled by a lot of the other horrors he's writing about. He just ends up looking like a patsy, and you have to deal with this idiot for pages and pages for one of the most important sections of the book. The Bestiary has a few sops to making it possible to win a fight with a monster; Hunters' versions of monsters often have to spend more mojo to do their things, and it's easier to deal damage they can't soak since there's no bothering with Aggravated damage. But on the whole, the game is all 'don't make a combat monster' and then every monster is Dex 5 with 5 in a combat skill and tons of health and physical powers and an assault rifle. All of the monsters are built as combat monsters. Ghosts and maybe Mages are about the only critters you're likely to have a mystery arc about, and everything else assumes you'll have to kill it eventually, with only woofs as potential allies/monsters you could talk to. And meanwhile the game is telling you you must act out and fight these things that have tyrannized humankind for eons, while then contradicting itself and yelling at you for being the bad guy for actually fighting back without asking a ton of questions first, then going on to tell you you need to cower and hide so you can play your character realistically.

Like everything else, Hunter's approach to its monsters undermines the original strong idea at the heart of the game (the victims of supernatural terror suddenly trying to fight back against it) and just wallows around in contradiction and messiness until there's nothing to do.

Next Time: Storytelling.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:36 on Jul 8, 2019

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

Imbued hunters and zombies come from all the nonsense that was going in WoD's metaplot at the time, though not the same exact source. Right before H:tR came out, the Wraith line ended with Ends of Empire, detailing how the land of the dead falls to just a boatload of horseshit happening at the same time, including the detonation of two ghostly atomic bombs. All of that kicks up the biggest ghost storm ever and unleashes an unprecedented number of malevolent spirits.

The Risen were a kind of ghost that would possess a dead body and be basically a zombie, but not usually the slow brainless shambling kind, and they were fairly rare and powerful. During the ghost apocalypse, one of the most powerful Risen peaced out of ghost land into a dead body in the living world, but because of the giant ghost storm making weird poo poo happen, she ended up accidentally pulling a few thousand other ghosts with her, some into dead bodies, some just roaming free. The ones that ended up in bodies didn't have the training and powers to control the body like the old Risen, and that's how Hunter ends up with a bunch of regular-rear end zombies and ghosts to deal with.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I just figured it was so they'd have something you could actually settle with a shotgun. I should have known it was yet more metaplot.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Night10194 posted:

Is that really stupid, though, when they exist in a setting where only characters with a connection to the supernatural are permitted any measure of agency or ability to matter to the story, while all mortal affairs are effortlessly dominated or brushed aside?
How much influence monsters have over the mortal world is something White Wolf would really vacillate on over time.

I remember Darren MacLennan's personal homepage had a big list of RPG cliches. One of them was that in modern fantasy games, no matter how many historical figures were secretly monsters, Hitler and the Holocaust were a designated no-fly zone where that's concerned.

...But then White Wolf made Heinrich Himmler a vampire, as if that's not just as bad. And he's still alive! Like half the vampires on Earth should want him dusted.

One of the main reasons I felt Mage should not be part of the WoD is that it's hard to square the Technocracy's virtual world domination with what's going on in any other game line. Pentex and Kindred interests don't have to conflict, and Vampire's more-or-less Abrahamic cosmology can sit uneasily aside Werewolf's, but the NWO/Syndicate seem to pretty much run mortal politics and finance, which doesn't work.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I like to think if you're playing a non-Mage game you generally just assume Hunter is right about Mages, and that they're a weird thing off to the side doing their own thing that doesn't affect anyone else very much and isn't that important.

E: Also, as to Himmler, I'm starting to notice a real pattern of 90s era WW stuff being sorta...nazi-curious is the word I'd use? "Hey, what if like, one of your darker allies was actually a neo-nazi or white supremacist militiaman." has popped up in what, Vampire, Hunter, and Werewolf? And didn't Mage have guys who were like whacky phrenologists?

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Jul 8, 2019

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




White Wolf has always had this sulfurous whiff of the far right about them, which given what happened later with V5 shouldn't really surprise us.

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


Y'know, "you are mortal, the monsters are stronger, so you need to get the drop on them" does sounds like it's belong in a monster-hunting game...
But then you get soul lasers.

Night10194 posted:

"Hey, what if like, one of your darker allies was actually a neo-nazi or white supremacist militiaman."
This would explain Bookie's "but what if we're in the wrong and the monsters are right".

quote:

WW loved mysterious, wise, racist portrayals of non-whites
While racist portayal is a mystery (namely, "why"), there's nothing wise about it.

wiegieman posted:

White Wolf has always had this sulfurous whiff of the far right about them, which given what happened later with V5 shouldn't really surprise us.

???

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I should really have put quotations around 'wise' there. I meant it in more of the 'look at how deep and in touch with nature they are, and how happy they are to share their wisdom with the white guy, who super gets it, maybe better than they do' sense.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


Bookworm55 is basically oWoD's grimdark Erin Tarn.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





To cut White Wolf a tiny sliver of slack, I believe they started out with the gonzo-rear end super dracula everyone's a secret vampire thing, then spent the next six to ten years being vaguely mortified and walking it back. But that stuff did all come out early on, and the books were not I think particularly hard to acquire.

But only a tiny sliver of slack. Frankly the entire thing starts to become incoherent, or just repeating the trite worn-out blown-down bullshit in a slightly different wrapper - it would be better to not bring up Nazis or whatever at all in the official works, than to veer between "Hitler was a dracula" and "humanity, like, sucks, man, like Agent Smith said, man, it all loving sucks."

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 7: Creating a Character

Character creation is very much a "craft the complete backstory of this individual", as opposed to some games where you start with a more or less blank slate and grow/discover the character during play.

There's an outline of roughly 10 steps to character creation, but it points out that the steps can blur together or be performed in a different order if that's easier for you. The process is complicated enough that they provide a worksheet to use to keep your bookkeeping straight, and then you transfer your completed results to your real character sheet.

This is where we get to see Azliet take shape as an RPG character, rather than just a recurring character in the fluff text; every step of the process has a little insert box that uses Azliet as an example of what they're explaining.

Step 1: Concept. There's no character classes in the game, but having a single-sentence character concept can help you keep focused on what's important when you're making decisions down the line. For example, Azliet is a helpful Cani healer.

A few broad suggestions are offered. You could be a regular person; someone who doesn't adventure professionally but has some reason to go on an adventure now. You could be a town guard, possible an officer or a detective. (The closest I ever got to running the game, I had sketched out a campaign where the players were members of the city guard in a city that did not respect them at all.) A scholar mage would have a lot of useful esoteric spells, and would want to adventure to find more magic. Or possibly to pay off student loans. A thief, minstrel, merchant, or thug are pretty self-explanatory. Knights are more like members of violent trade guilds than noble orders, but it's still an easy justification for why you go out and fight poo poo. A barbarian, someone that lives outside the safety of the cities, is a stereotypical choice for Gormoror; World Tree barbarians use magic just as much as everyone else does.

Once you've got your basic concept, you should flesh it out. If you want guidance, they provide about a full page's worth of questions about your character's past, present and future, as well as the player's intent. You can answer any or all of them as you feel like.

-What was your family like?
-What did your parents do?
-How many siblings and/or cousins do you have?
-What notable friends do you have?
-Did something interesting happen to you when you were young?
-Where do you come from?
-How and why did you leave home, if you did?
-Who trained you, and how?
-What have you been doing for the last few years?
-What do you look like?
-How old are you now?
-What kind of things are you (the character) interested in learning about or seeing?
-How religious are you?
-Are you married or in an equivalent relationship?
-Do you know the other PCs?
-What is your favorite food/color/pastime?
-What time of day is your cley refreshed? Dawn is common, noon is associated with honor and intensity, sunout with shyness, deceit, or sorrow, and midnight with evil.
-Why you like or tolerate adventuring?
-What do you want to do in life?
-How would you (the character) like to die?
-What kind of story would you (the player) like to experience?
-What kind of things do you (the player) enjoy or dislike in role-playing?

I actually really like this list. With the exception of the cley refreshing question, this would make a nice character concept worksheet for almost any game. I think with modern sensibilities, I would like to see some more leading questions worked in that can help tie your character to the upcoming game. Things like "Why does the Duke's little sister hate you?"

Step 2: Species templates. Every species comes with a bundle of shared features. Your chosen species has a starting array of attribute values, some free experience in skills that are important to that species, a knack in the Verb of the god your species is connected to, and some miscellaneous advantages and disadvantages. I'll come back later to describe the species templates in more detail.

Step 3: Attributes. As mentioned before, attributes are given in terms of direct modifiers to die rolls. +0 is perfectly average, -6 is extremely bad, and +6 is extremely good. You start with +0 in everything, and then adjust from there. First apply your species modifiers. Then, since adventurers usually aren't average, you adjust further from there. The second step is to add a fixed array of modifiers: +3, +2, +2, +1, +1, +0, +0, +0, -1, -1 arranged among the attributes however you want. Third, you may optionally apply a random tweak to any number of attributes that you want. If you want to gamble on an attribute, roll a d6. On a 1-2, subtract 1. On a 4-5 add 1, and on a 6 add 2. The average result is slightly positive, and even an unlucky roll can't gently caress your character, so this is a nice compromise between people that like having random chargen and people that prefer good game design. Finally, choices you make later in chargen might add or subtract from attributes, when you're buying advantages and disadvantages.

Step 4: Advantages and Disadvantages. This is the bulk of the character customization. Advantages and disadvantages are purchased with a point system, only during character creation. Advantages are worth positive points, and disadvantages are negative points. In a typical game, you can have a total of +5 points worth, with a limit of -10 points of disadvantage; so a total possible maximum of +15 points of advantages. After character creation, any changes to your character are entirely organic. If you find a magic sword that would have cost advantage points during chargen, you don't have to pay it off with more disadvantages. Conversely, if you lose a leg you don't get any free advantages to make up for it.

Things that advantages can give you (or disadvantages can take away) include, but are not limited to, skill experience, knacks, spells, special abilities, items, money, or professional experience. There are a LOT of advantages and disadvantages; along with spells that's going to be the most exhausting part of the book to cover, I suspect.

Step 5: Experience into pools. In this step, you get a big wad of experience that you divide up among the 9 skill categories. You get 20 blocks of 30 experience each, divided however you want.

Step 6: Pools into skills. After your experience is roughly blocked out, you take the experience points in each category and divide it among the actual skills, adding to the experience points you already got from your species template. Cley Base, Magic Resistance, Combat Stance Base, Life Base, and Dodge are pointed out as VERY important for adventurers to pay attention to. You should try to use up as many of your experience points as possible. If any experience is left over after character creation, it goes back into that category's pool. This also applies to a skill with a partial level; the extra points are just returned to the category's pool instead of tracking the skill's partial progress.

Step 7: Choosing spells. Every prime knows at least 3+d6 spells of complexity-5. You probably want more than that, and you have to choose advantages that provide them. Or pay money for them, I suppose. Be sure that you're actually able to cast the spells you choose. Our friend Azliet ends up with 32 spells, ranging all the way up to a couple of complexity-25.

Step 8: Money, possessions, and bound spells. You start with (sigh) random money, s6x100 + s20x10 lozens. If either of the stress dice both, (i.e. you roll a 1 on either the d6 or the d20, and then you roll a further 1 on another d6), then you're flat broke, but you get an extra +1 to spend on a non-cash advantage.



You automatically start with basic equipment that's appropriate to your skillset and profession. If you have a high Pick Locks skill, you just automatically have a set of lockpicks. If you're a noble, you have access to a mansion, coaches, cooks, maids, and other stuff that isn't particularly useful when crawling around on the Verticals but is still nice to have. If you're an adventuring type, you can have basic leather armor and a bone or wood weapon if you want.

You'll want some bound spells. You can pay for them, or if someone in your party is skilled at spellbinding you can do it yourself. Players are allowed and encouraged to abuse the heck out of spellbinding to give each other free bound spells.

Step 9: Details. This is mostly reconciling and fleshing out how your character generation decisions mesh with your concept from back in step 1.

Step 10: Permanent character sheet. Take that messy worksheet you've scribbled all over and a nice clean blank character sheet, and start filling out the second from the data on the first. There's a few derived values to work out: Your life points are equal to 3x(Life Base + Stamina). Your Badly Injured and Terribly Injured thresholds are at 1/2 and 1/4 your Life Points, rounded down, and dead is at negative (Life Base + Will). Work out your base Cley per day, the Attack values for each of your weapons, your Defense and Soak, and choose a combat option for each level of Combat Skill Base you have.



Here's Azliet, all geared up and ready for adventure!

Species Templates
Every species gets their list of skill experience on one page, and their attributes and advantages on the next. I'm going to skip over a lot of the exact numbers because who loving cares, and just list out what they get unless there's something really noteworthy. In the case of skill, I'll bold any skill that gets more than a token allowance of experience points

Cani
Skills: Cley Base, Magic Resistance, Ruloc, Life Base, Brawl, Combat Stance Base, Dodge, Ride, Track, Alertness, Search, Command, Empathy, Etiquette, Flirting, Friendliness, Guile, Intimidate, General Knowledge, History and Literature, Social Knowledge, Law, Teaching.

Attributes: +1 to Strength, Perception, Faith, and Charisma.

Advantages
+4 Knack to Ruloc, the Art of control.
A +3 Knack to a social skill of choice; dominant Cani have Command or Intimidate, less dominant personalities have Friendliness, Etiquette, or Guile.
Loyalty bonus: Cani instinctively become loyal to anyone that they've been around for a few weeks and get +1 to all stress rolls (s20) for skill checks when loyalty is factor, such as working with the group, defending the group, or doing the thing you have affan in while your people are watching.
Natural Weapons: Cani have teeth and claws if need be. Weapons are always better, but Cani are never disarmed.
Natural Armor: Cani fur and skin provides +1 Soak that stacks with armor.
Excellent sense of smell: +6 to skill checks involving scent, and Cani can make distinctions between scents that are impossible for any other species except Sleeth.
Family Connections: Cani belong to large families with relatives everywhere. Even the lowest status Cani probably has distant cousins somewhere that'll provide food and a place to crash.
Starting Presents: Cani adventurers start off with a useful item from their family. A typical present is a metal weapon or a modest magic item.
Clan Affiliation: You're a primary member of your choice of one of the tree-wide Cani clans, which has a personality stereotype that no one actually expects you to adhere to. You're an auxiliary member of 1-3 other clans of your choice.
Married(Optional): Cani are usually married, and can take the Married Advantage at no cost. (Adventurer strength spouses still cost advantage points.) There will be 3d6 adult members of the household, including you, spouses, and in-laws.

Gormoror

Skills: Cley Base, Magic Resistance, Destroc, Ruloc, Life Base, Brawl, Claws & Teeth(men) or Knife(Women), Combat Stance Base, two different weapons kills, Dodge, Climb, Dance, Hunting, Run, Swim, Track, Alertness, Set/Disarm Traps, Sneak, Flirting, Intimidate, Animal Handling, Gormoror Bard, Medicine, Wilderness Survival, General Knowledge, Natural Science.

Attributes: +2 to Stamina, +1 to Strength, Perception, and Will, -2 to Agility. Women get an additional +1 to Stamina.

Advantages
+3 Knacks in both Ruloc and Destroc magic
+5 Knack to Combat Stance Base (This only affects going aggressive or defensive, not how many combat options you get)
Berserk Life: Gormoror can keep fighting after taking wounds that would kill another prime. If you fall below 0 life points and stay there for longer than a second, you go berserk. Ignore all Trouble from wounds and fatigue, take your maximum aggressive combat stance, and add +s6 (can't botch) damage to every hit you make. You can take 2-4 more actions in this state, secretly rolled by the gamemaster, who will tell you when you're about to take your last action. If you're healed, the berserk state ends. Recovering from going berserk leaves you with Trouble 10 for the rest of the day. Recovery will last for over a week if you actually die after berserking and get revivied.
Natural Armor: +1 Soak
Word of Honor: Gormoror must keep their word of honor or suffer gravely. They can easily tell if another Gormoror has broken their word, +10 on the roll. (What roll? It doesn't say.)
Resistance to Mind Control: +s20 to all resistance rolls against Ruloc Mentador spells, and double effect from each cley spent to resist Ruloc Mentador. This doesn't help against spells that are not both Ruloc and Mentador.
Alcohol Tolerance: The first three drinks in a drinking session have no particular effect.
Gormoror Bard: The particular style of Gormoror poetry and singing is an extra skill for Gormoror characters.

Herethroy

Skills: Cley Base, Magic Resistance, Meditation, Creoc, Combat Stance Base, Life Base, Pole/Staff, Climb, Dodge, Running, Set/Disarm Traps, Bargain, Empathy, Etiquette, Flirting, Friendliness, Animal Handling, Gardening, Herethroy Singing, Woodworking, General Knowledge, History and Literature, Judge Value (as in judging the value of something, not how many judges you're worth), Languages, Law, Natural Science, Teaching.

Attributes: +1 to Stamina, Faith, and Wits, -1 to Agility.

Advantages
+4 Knack in Creoc
+3 Knack in Climbing because of the extra limbs.
+6 Knack in Running if using four legs, and they can keep that speed up for longer than normal.
Carapace: +2 Soak
Extra Hands: If standing on two feet, Herethroy have four hands available. They can also use three-handed swords. Somehow. The geometry of that concept escapes me, but I guess that's why I'm not a fantasy cricket person.
Pole/Staff in lower hands: A polearm or staff held in the lower hands can be used more effectively than the normal multiple weapon rules.
Special Skills: Herethroy have access to Gardening and Herethroy Singing, which are very important to the personal and social lives of Herethroy, and not important at all to the adventuring lives of Herethroy.

Khtsoyis

Skills: Cley Base, Concentration, Magic Analysis, Magic Resistance, Meditation, Destroc, Brawl, Combat Stance Base, Crushing Weapons, Life Base, Dodge, Running (more like float-crawling), Track, Alertness, Pick Pockets, Search, Set/Disarm Traps, Sleight of Hand, Sneak, Bargain, Flirting, Guile, Intimidate, General Knowledge, Judge Value, Law

Attributes: +3 to Stamina, +1 to Strength, -1 to Wits and Charisma.

Advantages
+4 Knack to Destroc
Sneak bonus: Khtsoyis float silently and can change colors, they get +10 to rolls for sneaking and hiding in most situations.
Self-healing: Khtsoyis have the ability to regenerate at will. For the cost of two cley, they heal d6+Stamina Life Points. This is a conscious act, but can be done at the same time as another action at no penalty. On the other hand, their crude bodies lack a lot of important organs, so they don't heal naturally like other primes do unless tended.
Tough Skin: Khtsoyis skin is like leather armor. I'm not sure why it doesn't just say a Soak value. Does this stack with armor, assuming you can even find armor to fit a Khytsoyis?
Poor Taste and Smell: -3 to all Perception rolls for those senses. They think of this as an advantage; they can drink and enjoy the cheap lovely beer that other primes won't touch, and they don't need to clean their homes.
Air-swimming: With tentacle-holds, Khtsoyis can move at normal speeds, and they can float at half-speed without anything to grab onto. They can carry 100s of pounds of stuff while floating, so long as they grab with all their tentacles.
Color Changing: It's not perfect, but they can change color to match their surroundings or just for fun.
Armor Limitation: No one makes armor for Khtsoyis, and they can't wear anything that covers their tentacles or else they wouldn't be able to move, so they rely on light harnesses and shields at most.
Clubs and Shields: Khtsoyis prefer to use clubs(or maces, which are just posh clubs) and shields. They can use three clubs and/or shields in any combination with no penalty for multiple weapons.
Overhead fighting: When clubbing people directly underneath them, Khtsoyis get +2 to Attack and base damage.
Bite: They have a nasty bite, but it's only useful in close quarters.
Subject to Prejudice:


I love this fucker's jaunty hat

Orren

Skills: Cley Base, Magic Analysis, Magic Resistance, Meditation, Spontaneous Force, Kennoc, Life Base, Dance, Jump, Run, SWIM, Dodge, Disguise, Search, Flirting, Friendliness, Guile, Medicine, Music, General Knowledge, Languages, Law.

Seriously, every Orren is professionally skilled at swimming. It's the single biggest skill boost that any species gets.

Attributes: +2 to Agility and Wits, +1 to Stamina, -2 to Will.

Advantages
+4 Knack to Kennoc.
Fast: They're scampery bastards, +4 Knack in Run but only over short distances.
Shapechanging: Orren instantly turn into otters when in water, and back to humanoid shape on land. This is reflexive but controllable; not changing when you should is distracting, Trouble 2.
Pick Up Skills Quickly: If something new catches their interest, Orren learn very quickly. After character creation, if an Orren gains a level in a skill that was level 4 or below, roll a d20. On a 1-5, it wasn't that interesting. On a 6-15, they gain enough free experience in that skill for an extra level. On a 16-19 they gain two levels. On a 20, they gain two levels and a +1 knack and won't shut up about their new fascination for a few weeks.
Extra Experience During Character Creation: Pick one skill in each of the nine categories that you learned for fun. Roll a d20 for each: 1-5, get 5 exp. 6-15, 10 exp. 16-19, 15 exp. On 20, 20 exp and a +1 Knack.
Holding Breath: Orren can hold their breath for two minutes of frantic activity, or 15 minutes if they stay calm.
Hard to Hold, Easy to Stun: Orren are smooth and wiggly. That's a direct quote. Wiggly. Anyway, they're hard to hold when wrestling, but they're easy to knock out.
Wild Rush: If an Orren gets excited, they start acting quickly and carelessly. If sufficiently excited (As determined by the player or gamemaster), roll a d6 on each action. On a 6, the Orren starts rushing. They draw two initiative cards and choose the better for each action, acting sooner and more often than everyone else. On the other hand, they act carelessly, rolling three extra botch dice whenever a botch is possible. They also don't think clearly; "ideally" the player should stop planning entirely and just do the first thing that comes to mind, but if that's not appropriate then instead the orren just risks botching more often.
Resist or Enhance Shapeshifting: Mutoc Corpador spells cast upon the Orren can either be resisted or boosted more easily; they can add s20 to the Magic Resistance roll or s20 to the spell's power.

Rassimel

Skills: Cley Base, Concentration, Magic Finesse, Magic Resistance, Healoc, Life Base, Climb because I guess Rassimel covers squirrel people as well as raccoon people, Dodge, Ride, Pick Pockets, Search, Sleight of Hand, Friendliness, Stay Awake, General Knowledge, History and Literature, Judge Value, Languages, Natural Science, Social Knowledge.

Attributes: +1 to Memory and Wits, +2 to Dexterity.

Advantages
+4 Knack to Healoc
Quick Learner: Rassimel gain 1/3 more experience from adventuring.
Intense Study During Character Creation: Sometimes they really just can't think of a punchy name for these advantages, huh? Anyway, add 40 experience each to three skills of your choice related to your profession, adventuring career, or obsession.
Poison Resistance: Rassimel recover faster from slow-acting poison, reducing the strength of the poison by 1 every d10 minutes.
No Circadian Rhythm: So long as they get enough rest over the course of a week, it doesn't matter when they get it. Staying up three days straight and then sleeping the whole next day doesn't stress a Rassimel's body.
Need Less Sleep: This is represented by a special Rassimel-only "Stay Awake" skill.

Sleeth

Sleeth don't respect editors at all, so they put their template in a different order for no particular reason.

Attributes: +2 to Agility and Perception.

Skills: Cley Base, Concentration, Finesse, Magic Resistance, Meditation, Corpador, Mutoc, Ruloc, Brawl, Claws & Teeth, Life Base, Alertness, Search, Sneak, Climb, Dodge, Hunting, Jump, Running, Track, Storytelling, General Knowledge, History & Literature, Natural Science, Sleeth Silent Language

Sleeth seem to be the only species with no natural aptitude for flirting.

Advantages:
+4 Knack in Mutoc
+3 Knack in climbing and jumping.
+6 Knack in Sneak
Flexible Sleeper: Sleeth can fall asleep or wake up in an instant, and are aware of their surroundings while napping.
No Hands: Jaws, forepaws, and magic have to fill in for the good old opposable thumb. Sleeth can't use weapons, and they have to pass a skill roll to do things like work a doorknob.
Hearing and Smell: Sleeth have the same smelling advantage that Cani do, +5 bonus and they are able to make distinctions impossible for other primes. Sleeth also have keen hearing, the same +5 bonus.
Dark Vision: Sleeth have even better night vision than real cats. Only in the most extreme cases of absolute darkness or dazzling light do the Sleeth suffer even a minor -1 penalty; they can see perfectly fine in any lighting conditions in between.
Innate Ruloc Corpador: Sleeth can cast any Ruloc Corpador spell of Complexity-5 at will, with no cost of cley or skill roll required. The power is always minimal, Power 5, but that's enough to hold meat over a fire, steer themselves while falling, wrap a bit of leather around something, etc.
Solar Healing: If a Sleeth takes a nap in a sunbeam, they heal 1d6 life points per hour, on top of any other healing. Mechanical bonuses for being A Catte. :kimchi:
Natural Armor: +1 Soak, and a good thing too because additional armor for Sleeth is rare and expensive.
Natural Weapons: In combat, Sleeth can fight with claws and teeth, without suffering penalties for multiple "weapons." If grappling, they can also add in a third raking attack with their hind legs. Sleeth, like anyone using multiple light weapons, have trouble with armored foes.
Supple Body:
Seen As Monsters: Sleeth are commonly subjected to pretty lovely prejudice. They are usually shunned by civilized society, at best. Being friends with non-Sleeth (i.e. being part of an adventuring party) might shield you from the worst of it, but your friends will be expected to vouch for your good behavior.
Silent Language: A gestural language, mainly used for hunting, that usually only Sleeth bother to learn.

Zi Ri

Skills: Cley Base, Concentration, Feather Casting, Finesse, Hammer Casting, Magic Analysis, Magic Resistance, Magic Theory, Meditation, Spellbinding, Spellweaving, Spontaneous Force, Sustenoc, Claws&Teeth, Life Base (Zi Ri have a notable LOW Life Base score, only getting a single experience point in it by default), Climb (Why?), Dodge, Hunting, Alertness, Etiquette, Flirting, Guile, General Knowledge, History & Literature, Judge Value, Natural Science, Social Knowledge, Theology

Attributes: +2 to Agility, +1 to Memory, -3 to Strength.

Advantages
+7 Knack to Sustenoc. +7 is huge for a knack, but Sustenoc has fairly obscure usefulness.
+4 Knack to Magic Resistance
Flying
Natural Armor: +1 Soak
Armor Limitation: They don't make cute little dragon bardings.
Natural Weapons: Their needle-sharp claws and fangs make a skilled Zi Fi fighter just about the equal of a poorly equipped child of another species.
Weapon Limitation: They could maybe hold a small dagger if they try real hard.
Fire Breath: Zi Ri can breathe a short 4-foot-long jet of fire. This can be used as a weapon, but not a very good one.
Extra Starting Spells: Zi Ri get an addition 3+d6 spells of complexity-10 for free.
Fire Resistance: Zi Ri reduce all damage from fires by 6, to a minimum of 0 (unlike normal Soak, which can only reduce damage to 1.) This means they can sit in a cooking fire indefinitely, but won't want to stick around in a raging bonfire.
Meditation In Fire: If meditating to regain cley while sitting in a fire, Zi Ri get +3 to the skill roll, more if there's nice smelling wood or incense involved.
Unaging: After adolescence, Zi Ri stop aging entirely.
Immortal: Zi Ri do not die of natural causes.

As it turns out, Zi Ri actually kind of suck as adventurers. Who knew? The free starting spells are nice, but if you're making a Zi Ri you're probably making a spellcaster, and the professional spellcasting advantages tend to include the spells you want in the package anyway. If you're playing a campaign that spans centuries of game time, I guess you're golden, though.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




SirPhoebos posted:

I've been going back and rereading oWoD reviews (not as many as you'd imagine, though I hardly blame anyone for not wanting to touch it based on what I heard), and it seems like what they really wanted PCs to do was...hang out and talk about how cool they were?

it was the precursor to Second Life, where you just stood around and were bitchy because the combat mechanics to prove how badass you were were very bad or non-existent.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Hunter really is the perfect storm of White Wolf's terrible design philosophies. "How dare you fight back against the monsters" mixed with "This isn't a game about combat, here's a shitton of badly written combat powers."

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Evil Mastermind posted:

Hunter really is the perfect storm of White Wolf's terrible design philosophies. "How dare you fight back against the monsters" mixed with "This isn't a game about combat, here's a shitton of badly written combat powers."

I think some of it is that White Wolf has no idea how to write for a game where the PCs are honest to god protagonists. They can't deal with the fact that 'I risk my life to defend others and overthrow tyrannical vampires' makes your PC a hero. So they wibble and wobble about extremists and 'monsters are people!'

Yeah, sure, that neonate wasn't a big deal and wasn't one of the super privileged masters of the universe. The footsoldiers of oppressive regimes usually aren't. Doesn't mean you didn't still have good cause to ash the bastard. They just don't really get that most of the splats are so dangerous to people that it would take a lot of effort for the average Hunter to be 'just as bad' as the monsters.

As a preview of the Storytelling section, their opinion of normal humans in a Hunter story is 'props'.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





There's some good stuff in Hunter, mind. It's got one of the (admittedly a low bar) best Black Dog imprint books with Wayward, but it's genuinely good and not 'well I guess it's better than Freak Legion at least.'

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

I think some of it is that White Wolf has no idea how to write for a game where the PCs are honest to god protagonists. They can't deal with the fact that 'I risk my life to defend others and overthrow tyrannical vampires' makes your PC a hero. So they wibble and wobble about extremists and 'monsters are people!'

Yeah, sure, that neonate wasn't a big deal and wasn't one of the super privileged masters of the universe. The footsoldiers of oppressive regimes usually aren't. Doesn't mean you didn't still have good cause to ash the bastard. They just don't really get that most of the splats are so dangerous to people that it would take a lot of effort for the average Hunter to be 'just as bad' as the monsters.

As a preview of the Storytelling section, their opinion of normal humans in a Hunter story is 'props'.
I feel like the big issue here is that all the other splats have at least some positive aspects which you might reasonably learn about and decide to support, or at least to leave alone. Individual mages, Garou, changelings, wraiths, all can be good people.

Vampires, though, at best they've gone on the cow blood train. I guess it might be bad to murder some Golconda master who is trying to find students? But a hunter wouldn't even be aware that guy existed.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I would like Mercy a lot better if it was framed as 'figure out who we actually have to fight, because none of our fights are trivial and some of these guys might even help us' rather than 'you shouldn't fight back'. I actually kind of feel like the Redeemer is a problem for Mercy because the Redeemer takes up so much space that the other two struggle to figure out what to do when 'I try to figure out which monsters we can turn' is so succinctly the decent part of Mercy's pitch all by itself.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Night10194 posted:

I think some of it is that White Wolf has no idea how to write for a game where the PCs are honest to god protagonists. They can't deal with the fact that 'I risk my life to defend others and overthrow tyrannical vampires' makes your PC a hero. So they wibble and wobble about extremists and 'monsters are people!'

Yeah, sure, that neonate wasn't a big deal and wasn't one of the super privileged masters of the universe. The footsoldiers of oppressive regimes usually aren't. Doesn't mean you didn't still have good cause to ash the bastard. They just don't really get that most of the splats are so dangerous to people that it would take a lot of effort for the average Hunter to be 'just as bad' as the monsters.

As a preview of the Storytelling section, their opinion of normal humans in a Hunter story is 'props'.
This all honestly reminds me of a bit in the first episode of Buffy, where Giles very clearly and forcefully points out that Xander's vamped friend isn't that person anymore. Yeah it's the guy's face and that guy's memories, but what it actually is, is a demon who wants to just kill people. Even fuckin' Whedon figured that one out.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




really Hunter should be the cathartic gameline where you blow apart werewolves with rocket launchers, and plant bombs under an evil mages house and blow him up. It should be like the vampire hunting gang in Blade 2 with ron perlman and poo poo.

one hunter busting out christian prayer magic while the other is spinning up a stake-firing minigun, and a third is hopping around all over the place cause they got a jiang-shi's legs transplanted onto them. it should be fun and cool.

maybe you start out as like Supernatural (the tv show) tier guys where you're just shitheads with a car and some crossbows, but then you progress to become elite monster hunters.

the amount of pathos should be limited to 'you might die' and 'you have a tough secret to keep cause people will have you committed if you talk about what you do'.

a vampire who feels really angsty about being a vampire is still out there drinking peoples blood and poo poo. gently caress em. all the other gamelines seem like they have either potentially or entirely sympathetic characters, so you could just team up with a good frankenstein to take down a bad one, or team up with the changeling guys to gently caress up the dickhead fey lords.

juggalo baby coffin fucked around with this message at 23:09 on Jul 8, 2019

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


juggalo baby coffin posted:

really Hunter should be the cathartic gameline where you blow apart werewolves with rocket launchers, and plant bombs under an evil mages house and blow him up. It should be like the vampire hunting gang in Blade 2 with ron perlman and poo poo.

one hunter busting out christian prayer magic while the other is spinning up a stake-firing minigun, and a third is hopping around all over the place cause they got a jiang-shi's legs transplanted onto them. it should be fun and cool.

maybe you start out as like Supernatural (the tv show) tier guys where you're just shitheads with a car and some crossbows, but then you progress to become elite monster hunters.

the amount of pathos should be limited to 'you might die' and 'you have a tough secret to keep cause people will have you committed if you talk about what you do'.

a vampire who feels really angsty about being a vampire is still out there drinking peoples blood and poo poo. gently caress em. all the other gamelines seem like they have either potentially or entirely sympathetic characters, so you could just team up with a good frankenstein to take down a bad one, or team up with the changeling guys to gently caress up the dickhead fey lords.

At which point you're actually playing the other Hunter. The nWoD one. The better one.

e: Well, except for the Ashford Abbey part. That is not so good.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Honestly Delta Green agents could more plausibly team up with the mortal Mythos monsters than anyone could argue it's immoral to kill WoD vampires.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Night10194 posted:

Hunter: The Reckoning

Seriously, what the hell is a Goblin. Is this from Changeling? Did anyone play Changeling Original? It seemed terrible.

So we start off with some fae. They gotta be fae because their rules say Cold Iron will gently caress them like silver fucks a woof and that's a sure fire signal of faerie bullshit. They're weird gremlin people and Booky describes them attacking a maternity ward while he was in the hospital, seeking to drink the blood of newborns.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say these were really wussy Redcaps or something. Drinking blood and eating babies is kind of their kith MO.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Terrible Opinions posted:

Honestly Delta Green agents could more plausibly team up with the mortal Mythos monsters than anyone could argue it's immoral to kill WoD vampires.
Ghouls and deep ones are in the same general boat as Garou, "you're basically aliens but you can recognize laws and avoid murder, and you don't eat live people on the regular." Elder things, why, even Lovecraft recognized their common humanity, and that guy had some problems!

Now you could make a case that murder is wrong even if the target is a serial killer, which most vampires probably are. In the grand abstract the good thing to do would be to create TruBlood or, possibly, distribute livestock blood -- because now they have no excuse for assault and murder. As a practical issue, of course, you have the right to defend yourself and others from active predation, and I do not think this is the case of "Oh God, I'm a runaway shovelhead, please don't kill me!!!"

megane
Jun 20, 2008





I think some of that 90s odor comes from insisting that PCs and NPCs follow the same rules. A more modern framework like PbtA could allow for the hunters to operate with an entirely different form of agency from a vampire or warwilf, but this is the 90s, so we start by insisting that the vamp has a Dex score and health levels (and can use an assault rifle, and roll to convince people of things, and avoid attacks, and so on) in precisely the same way as a hunter, and then we shrug and say "well it's a vampire" and set that Dex score to 9. It's a very wash-your-hands style of game design, and of GMing, like there's nothing you could do -- you're just being realistic and fair.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


megane posted:

I think some of that 90s odor comes from insisting that PCs and NPCs follow the same rules. A more modern framework like PbtA could allow for the hunters to operate with an entirely different form of agency from a vampire or warwilf, but this is the 90s, so we start by insisting that the vamp has a Dex score and health levels (and can use an assault rifle, and roll to convince people of things, and avoid attacks, and so on) in precisely the same way as a hunter, and then we shrug and say "well it's a vampire" and set that Dex score to 9. It's a very wash-your-hands style of game design, and of GMing, like there's nothing you could do -- you're just being realistic and fair.

This is one of the reasons I keep going back to Spire. In Spire, only player characters roll to do things because rolling is 'I want extra agency and I'm willing to risk my safety to do it'. A dangerous enemy like a Vampire would be handled with 'they are Difficulty 2 to fight, so only the absolute best warriors could handle it, unless your actions incorporate a weakness or some plan to take them off guard'. It's simple, efficient, and makes serious enemies extremely dangerous to take on head on without too much work.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




there was a big idea for a long time that the best way to make an RPG was to try and simulate a world in the most realistic and complete way possible, and somehow a good, fun to play game would rise out of that.

whereas that actually sucks, even when its on a PC and the computer is doing the rolls behind the scenes at a million times speed. it really, really sucks when you're spending precious in-person gaming time rolling dice to see to what extent your big toenail will turn black after rolling a crit fail on the Stubbed Toe table.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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





The shortest chapter of all, this covers the religious practices of Nyambe and the game mechanics for the orisha. Basically Nyambe never answers prayers directly, so normal people and divine spellcasters use the orisha as intermediaries. Every individual and culture has their own favorites, and one’s profession or circumstance may mean that one honors an orisha or group of orisha enough that they are effectively their patron.

An interesting thing to note is that barring some exceptions the holy symbols of orisha are not mere symbolism: tools related to the orisha’s domain of influence most often serve this purpose. For example, Nimbala the Judge and Shonamu the hunter treat scimitars and bows both as favored weapons and holy symbols, while Ancestor orisha treat items owned by the dearly departed as such; but in this last case can only be used for ceremonial purposes without defiling it.

One other thing separating Nyamban religion from most D&D pantheons is that barring the Celestial and Fiendish orisha, the “patron orisha” game options are not single specific entities but rather broad concepts. The Ancestor Orisha option can be anything as broad as the Tisambe people to those of your hometown, while the Animal Orisha option can range from herd animals to reptiles.



Ancestor Orisha: These are the ghosts of past generations, and while worshiped by virtually every Nyamban they only grant prayers to their descendants. They are Lawful Neutral and have the Fertility, Luck, Protection, and Strength domains.



Elemental Orisha: These are spirits hail from the four elemental planes and whose presence in the mortal realm manifests as natural phenomena. Although collectively True Neutral, worshipers may be of any alignment. Their four domains are Air, Earth, Fire, and Water but n’anga must honor one of the four elements as a patron and choose their related domain as one of their two options.



Natural Orisha: These are spirits of animals, plants, and specific geographic features, and are split into these three options as patron deities. Due to the myriad variety of such things in the natural world, most priests venerate a group of related animals or plants. In the case of geographic orisha, they honor a region in which they live. All three orisha groups are Chaotic Neutral and their domains vary: Animal orisha have Animal, Birds, Fish, and Hunting domains; Plant orisha have the Plant, Sun, and Water domains; and Geographic orisha have Earth, Iron, and Water.



Celestial Orisha: Celestial orisha are good-aligned outsiders who were never mortal or who ascended so long ago their origins are forgotten. The book notes that they’re often referred to as “gods,” which kind of contradicts the idea that only Nyambe is worshiped. Regardless, both Celestial and Fiendish orisha are famous enough that their titles and roles are virtually the same among all cultures and ethnicities. Each individual orisha of both categories are much like standard D&D deities: they have their own individual alignment, domains, and favored weapons.

Araku the Warrior is the patron of blacksmiths, warriors, and laborers, granting blessings to those who create and defend. Bedaga the Trickster is the patron of doorways and roads, who upends established social orders to empower the weak. Easafa the River is the patron of rivers and romantic love, and her n’anga are renowned as excellent peacemakers. Nimbala the Judge is one of the most popular celestial orisha, but whose moral standards of law and justice are so high that few n’anga receive his blessings. Ramaranda the Diviner is the orisha famed for the creation of the sei and overthrow of the Kosan Empire, and encourages careful foresight and planning. Shonamu the Hunter presides over those who live off of and seek protection from the dangers of the wilderness. Siama the Dead watches over those who passed on and who makes her will known through thunderstrikes targeting grave-robbers, murderers, necromancers, and all who would defile the natural boundaries of life and death. Tarango the Drummer is a free-spirited and artistic entity associated with fire and music, and is popular among the lower classes but despised by the rich who consider him a threat to public order. Tisanda the Ocean is Easafa’s sister, who presides over rain and harvest in addition to the ocean, and her n’anga specialize in providing fertility rituals to those suffering reproductive problems.



Fiendish Orisha: The fiendish orisha are invariably evil-aligned and often called demons or devils. Worship of them is banned in most lands, although some people honor them in private to stay their fury if not out of genuine devotion.

Bokor the Arcane is the orisha of arcane magic, associated so for being the first to discover how to steal magic from the Overpower.* Dar!ak the Bloody is the orisha of assassins and cold-blooded murder and encourages killing everyone who disagrees with you in a dispute or debate (sounds fun at parties). Dogar the Haggler is the orisha of capitalism greed, usury, and laziness and encourages followers to accumulate wealth through under-handed means. Gamal the Dark One is a nihilistic entity of darkness and oblivion, who teaches his followers to believe in nothing save the inevitable end of all things. GuDuGu the Obscene One is the orisha of nightmares and insanity, whose worshipers never voluntarily choose to worship him and instead are visited with maladies warping their perception of reality. Molamu the Seducer believes in using sex to bring about misery, and thus prioritizes infidelity and rendering people infertile. Na/inga the Warrior Queen is the patron of lycanthropes and cannibals, granting the powers of deadly animals to her followers. N!ok the All-Seeing Eye was the effective head of the Kosan pantheon and is thus associated with tyranny and war. Sama/ the Poison One presides over poison, disease, crop failure, and all manner of physical maladies. Shakare the Torturer is a sadist who demands her worshipers to kidnap and torture people for no other reason than sick pleasure. Tu the Outcast is the orisha of isolation and suicide, and he does not have many high-level worshipers on account that most kill themselves before they grow too powerful. Zombi the Serpent Lord is the fiendish orisha of serpents and the undead, most popular among necromancers of all stripes and encourages power over others by dominating the dearly departed’s bodies and souls.

*I feel this raises several questions. Why be just a cleric of Bokor then, when you can be a mchawi? The text does acknowledge that evil arcane spellcasters are his typical worshipers, but why the domains then?

Thoughts So Far: I do like how Nyambe departs from the standard monolatrist pantheons of D&D by having clerics worship broader concepts or groups of related spirits as a single “patron deity.” But even then I couldn’t help but notice how the celestial and fiendish orisha are a compromise to familiarity. I do like how most holy symbols become some variety of physical item; it makes the honoring of orisha feel more keyed-in to their follower’s daily lives.

That said, I am not a fan of the association of mental illness with evil entities. Although not restricted to Nyambe, it’s part of a broader media trope which portrays these people not as victims but as a clear and present danger to others regardless of the disorder in question. I can get the idea of evil entities breaking people’s minds, but having said victims worship and honor them is a bit much.

Join us next time as we master Nyamban Magic in Chapter Nine!

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008





Part 2: Forged in fire

The next chapter is about character creation, and starts out with two basic assumptions about your character. To wit: your character is by default highly skilled and capable, and that you're not bound by any rules in terms of your character's cultural make-up.


The character sheet

The book also mentions that you can create your setting first (which is covered in chapter 4), make your character first and fill in the world as you go, or do both simultaneously. The game itself supports all three methods, but for the purposes of this read-through I'm going to start with a very basic outline of the world as an idea to hang my character on, then fill in the blanks as I go.

The basic setting I want to use is a simple monster-hunter-y deal; humans are slowly building out into this strange new land, but monsters and impossible beasts are all over the place and constantly attack any settlements on the fringes. As such, new settlements need people to protect the settlers and the territory from outside threats; not only monsters, but threats from humans as well. Basically, just something I can easily set up a basic scenario or two for demonstration purposes. My character will be sworn to the head of a recently-created steading, and will be responsible for protecting it from external threats until it's capable of surviving on its own.

With that done, let's look at the character sheet.

First off we need a name. I'm terrible at this, so I'm going to the tables in the back of the book and grabbing one I like the sound of: Asha.

Characters have five stats:
  • Edge, which is basically dexterity; speed, quickness, and skill in ranged combat.
  • Heart, which is your strength of will. This measures not just your willpower and courage, but also your empathy.
  • Iron is your physical strength, and as such determines your close combat ability.
  • Shadow is a measure of how sneaky and deceptive you can be.
  • Wits is a general knowledge/observation ability. Given the nature of the game, this is less about book-learnin' (although it does cover that) and more about knowing how to deal with bad situations.
Stats are assigned values from a 3/2/2/1/1 standard array. Given that this mini-campaign will be about killing monsters, let's go with Edge 1, Heart 2, Iron 3, Shadow 1, Wits 2. Really good in a stand-up fight, good at making connections to people (since they're going to be protecting people, it helps to care about them), but not very quick or subtle. Which, again, I'm going to be monster stomping so it's fine.

One the right side of the sheet, I have three tracks: Health, Stress, and Supply. The first two are self-explanatory, and the third is an abstract way of keeping track of your character's general gear; food, arrows, camping supplies, things like that.

All three tracks start at +5, but behave a little differently when they hit zero. Bottoming out your Health or Stress tracks doesn't mean you're dead, but means that when you have to make the moves for taking damage/stress (which we'll get to later, of course), you run the risk of suffering permanent debilities, falling into despair, or just flat-out dying. When you run out of supplies, however, you have to make the Out of Supply move and deal with the consequences.

(As a side note: if you're playing this with multiple people, then all characters share one supplies track. When that runs dry, then everyone has to make the Out of Supply move.)

On the left side of the sheet, we have our Momentum track. I talked about Momentum in the first post, but to summarize: Momentum is a measurement of how "in control" of a situation you are and be spent to affect die rolls in your favor. Characters have a default maximum Momentum of +10 and a default Momentum reset of +2. These values are reduced by one for every permanent debility you have, but your reset can't go below +0.

So that all covers Asha's base stats. Now to dig more into who she is.

The main chunk of the sheet is for recording your Bonds and Vows. These are important, because they're going to shape the immediate start of the campaign.

A character starts with three Bonds that represent the people or places closest to them. These don't all have to be defined right away, but at some point all three need to be assigned. Each bond ticks progress (which means drawing one line) on the Bond tracker.

The thing about Bonds is that they all use the same progress track, regardless of how many people you know; this represents your ability to relate to other people. It’s also used at the end of a campaign when your character retires to determine how much of an impact they had on the world around them.



For Asha, I'm going to create all three Bonds right off the bat, and I'm going to use the random tables in the book to come up with names and such.

The first bond will be to the settlement itself. I rolled the name Blackbrook, and that evocative enough to give me a good mental picture of this area: fairly bleak, next to a frigid river that runs from the mountains. It's technically inhabitable, but will require a lot of work to keep things sustainable.

The second bond will be to the settlement's overseer. I'll roll a name and descriptor for this, and get "Kiyone" and "Stingy". That's not a good trait in a leader, but maybe they're the type of person you need in charge of a place where resources will be starting out tight.

The third bond will be with someone completely random. I'm going to roll for name, descriptor, role, and goal. I get "Kotama", "Driven", "Priest", and "Pay a Debt". Paying off a debt matches up nicely with Kiyone's stinginess descriptor; maybe Kotama was manipulated/forced into joining this new settlement and their drive is to finally pay what's owed to Kiyone and get away from the frontier?

So we have our three bonds and did the progress ticks. Now we come to Vows.

As stated in the previous post, Vows are very important in the game, to the point where swearing a vow is its own move. A character starts with two Vows: one long-term one that represents their background, and an immediate one that represents the inciting incident of the campaign.

The background Vow is always either Extreme or Epic; this represents your character's overall goal or motivation, but like all Vows needs to be something you can complete. For Ahsa, I already established that she's protecting Blackbrook from external threats, but that's kind of hard to tag an end goal onto. But that's fine; I don't have to complete this Vow to "finish" the game.

quote:

Fulfilling this vow will not be easy. In story-time, it might require months, years, or even decades to see this vow fulfilled or forsaken. You may even decide your background vow isn’t something you make significant progress on in your narrative. Instead, it just helps establish some roleplaying detail for your character and fleshes out your world.
I'm okay with this being just a background detail for now; of course, later on I might come up with a way to fulfill the vow, or I might decide to break it.

For the second Vow, I'm going to say that the first adventure will be to hunt down a monster because that's pretty simple to work out. Going through the creatures chapter, most of the "monsters" are either really powerful or some form of undead human. There is the Harrow Spider, which is, as you'd expect, a giant-rear end spider. I decide that this thing killed some livestock and carried away one of the settlers, so now I have to find this thing, kill it, and get a locket off the victim's corpse to give his family some closure. Harrow Spiders are classified as a Dangerous enemy, so I'll say that defeating this thing would make for a Dangerous vow.

The final part of character creation is picking my Assets. Assets are your character's actual abilities, and come in four categories: Companions are NPCs (most of which are animals) who'll assist you, Paths represent special backgrounds or training, Combat Talents give you more options when using certain weapons or tactics, and Rituals are magical knowledges you can perform. Assets aren't listed in the book, but are in a separate deck (also available as a free PDF), which I actually like because it saves me having to copy stuff onto my sheet.

Characters start with three Assets of their choosing, although some Assets do have prerequisites. You can't take the "Weaponmaster" Asset until you've completed a Vow in service to an experienced warrior, for example. Some of the prerequisites can be handled during character creation, such as "Masked", which requires you to mark a Bond with the elves. Assets will give you access to new moves, or modify existing moves to your advantage.

I'll take "Skirmisher" to be better at fighting with a spear, and "Slayer" gives her advantages when hunting monsters. For my third Asset, I think I'll take the Hound Companion so I can show those rules off.


Not a bad loadout for stabbin’.

Skirmisher and Slayer both start with an ability already marked as available for use, whereas I have to pick one which ability I want for my Hound. I'll take Ferocious so I have some help in a fight. The line at the bottom is the Hound's health track; Companions can get clipped by the bad outcomes of my rolls if I roll a 1 while utilizing them.

The only things left on my sheet are for tracking Experience and negative Conditions, Banes, and Burdens. I'm not going to go into these just yet since they don't really matter until they come up from move outcomes.


Here's my final setup for Asha:




The next chapter is about Moves, but rather than get into a huge blow-by-blow of what all the moves are (mainly because there’s a lot of them), I'll actually start playing so you can see the game in motion.

NEXT TIME: Into The Woods

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I kinda like that Retirement move.

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