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PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Nessus posted:

I assume Habitat Ops are things like how to run the HVAC and water the oxygen machine and clean the filters, so that all the people smoking a drug in their polycule can float around and talk about how glad they are to be (CHOOSE ONE DEPENDING ON COLONY) pro skub/anti skub. Instead of strangling to death on their own farts.

Yeah, I assume so as well, but the rules shouldn't leave me assuming things. :v:

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KingKalamari
Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack


Do you not know that every tree and blade of grass has a name? Let me tell you about each of them, individually and in pain-staking detail, as we once again enter...

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy Part X: Now With More Rivers!



MOUNTAINS

Aleion Mountains (Elphand Lands) - Lying just north of the Vast Lake, these mountains are home to hill giants, stone giants and hawkmen who are always dealing with harpies getting up in their business.

Amaite Range (Elphand Lands) - A super tall mountain range that is constantly being struck by lightning due to all the mineral deposits. There’s a shrine to Thor here, because duh.

Bendarloin Mountains (Reaches) - A range of “semi-dormant” volcanoes inhabited by Dwarves and Gnomes who are always fighting with the nearby forest Elves, and a bunch of evil Orcs.

Castellan Mountains (Altanis) - Lousy with Orcs who like to harass caravans and known for a sculpture of a sleeping Stone Giant that runs across the lower elevations of the mountains. Five bucks says it’s not a statue.

Cloudwall Mountains (City State) - The tallest of these mountains is over 17,000 feet tall and said to be the home of the “god of thunderstorms” (Thor?). The mountains get their name from the fact that they’re both tall enough to reach into the clouds and volcanic enough that fissures near their base are constantly pooping out a thick mist.

Cruaich Mountains (Ghinor) - Running all along the Isle of the Blest these mountains are said to be home to a ruined lair of the ancient Markrabs and the warren of a silver dragon.

Dissension, Range of (Elphand Lands) - To directly quote the book: “Some flora of this region exudes a noxious vapor which turns emotions sour. Good friends forced to stay for extended periods often become fast enemies.“ This mountain range is supposed to be considered impassable for a number of boringly mundane reasons, but I assume it’s mostly due to the plants that fart angry gas.

Ered Demivand (Desert Lands) - A low mountain range that’s gradually receding into the surrounding hills. Home to a bunch of the usual fantasy crap, though it’s noted that the orcs that live here mine ore and ship it to the City State, and I appreciate the presence of industrious orcs that aren’t just rear end in a top hat bandits.

Ered Losthain (City State) - The first thing we’re told about this mountain range is that it’s home to many copper mines. Also there’s a legendary Elven palace made of crystal that countless adventurers have died trying to find, but mostly the copper mines. There’s also a sacred pool where centaurs gather to “exchange vows”, which I think is a euphemism for naked centaur bathing.

Ered Morghain (Valley of the Ancients) - Home to the delightful “Mount Doom”, which is home to Rock Trolls, Rock Giants and Non-Rock Goblins all of whom are presumably up to wholesome, good-natured things. Also home to a ruined Dwarven mine that was overrun by evil when they dug too deeply and too Dwarfily.

Ered Perack (Altanis) - Another mountain range that the wind has worn into weird shapes. The way the book describes them it’s pretty obvious they’re actually alive, or haunted by mountain ghosts or some junk like that. There’s also a bunch of crypts near the base.

Gigabolt Mountains (Viridistan) - In addition to an absolutely awesome name these mountains are renowned for their terrible storms and being home to druids and medusa. We’re then given a much longer than necessary explanation as to how the Druids manage to live alongside the Medusas (spoiler: by hiding from them.). There’s also something called The Silvery Fires that show up at the base and either signify great treasure or horrible evil.

Guarding Range (Elphand Lands) - A big mountain range along the Northernmost edge of the Wilderlands that basically acts to keep players from leaving the bounds of the map.

Haunting Range (Desert Lands) - A mountain range named for the terrible, ghostly howling noise the wind makes as it blows across its peaks. It’s coincidentally also full of ghosts, but I like to believe that’s a happy coincidence the locals didn’t know about when they named it.

Hoary Mountains (Viridistan) - Spends a lot time talking about the local sheep, alpacas and other wildlife before nonchalantly slipping in off-handed mentions of Frost Giants and Bugbears as though these are exactly as notable as the musk deer herds they finish with. There’s supposed to be a place called the “Valley of Diamonds” that’s only reachable by birds but has somehow made some men rich.

Lords Mountains (Elphand Lands) - “Created by the hands of the gods, the Lords mountains emerged after a terrible storm blasted the entire area, leveling forests and draining lakes and rivers.” Storms are not the hands of the gods, book.

Majestic Mountains (City State) - Named for being really majestic, below them lies the Majestic Fastness, the ancestral underground home of the Dwarves who founded Thunderhold. Said Dwarves were driven from the Fastness by the evil dragon Smaug Analegorn, who has since been Smauging things up in the general vicinity.

Molting Mountains (Lenap) - Home to harpies, gargoyles and a big angry Roc.

Ododharaun Mountains (Valley of the Ancients) - The nearby monks of Od say the legendary city of Haraun Holm (home to long-forgotten gods) sits at the peak of the mountains. They only say this because nobody’s been able to climb to the top to prove they’re full of poo poo.

Over Doom Mountains (Ghinor Highlands) - Another dangerous mountain range full of angry fantasy jerks. Brown Thorn Peak is supposed to be home to a family of red dragons that nest around a bunch of sigil stones carved in ancient Kelnoran runes.

Pinnacle Mountains (Viridistan) - Home to the Silver Elephan Mines, which is worked by cavemen, which I take issue with as I feel like when you develop the capacity for mining you’ve kind of moved beyond the “caveman” stage in your civilization’s development. One of the mines collapsed after being attacked by vicious birds for some reason. The Skandiks think this range contains the highest mountain peak in the world that leads directly to the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard.

Saddle Back Mountains (Sea of Five Winds) - A mountain range that looks kind fo like a saddle and has a hermit that lives on its tallest peak. That’s about all there is here.

Starrcrag Mountains (Viridistan) - A bunch of red-bearded, big-headed Dwarves who make magic jewelry live here.

Terad Range (Tarantis) - Home to the hilariously named Burntface volcano, where Dwarves mine iron and the Karzulun peoples ride around raising a ruckus.

Viceroy Mountains (Sea of Five Winds/Ament Tundra) - Home to the Dragonspate geyser, which is supposedly so large it looks like the breath of a dragon when it erupts, which doesn’t sound that large as far as geysers go, really…

Wilderland Mountains (Valon) - Basically a “best-of” of all the features we’ve seen in other mountain ranges: Dwarves, giant birds, some ruins and a hermit.

PLAINS

Wilderlands, you’re already struggling to give hooks for all the geographical features people actually care about, you don’t need to burden yourself by including big, flat expanses of nothing in this section…

Battleplain Gwalion (City State) - Barbarians and nomads used to fight each other here in ancient times, probably over the technical differences between the terms “barbarian” and “nomad”. The soil is fertile because of all the dead barbarians and Necromancers like to hang out here to “pry secrets from the many dead”. What they’re hoping to learn from a bunch of dead hunter-gatherers is anyone’s guess.

Beasts, Land of (Elphand Lands) - Okay, now we’re talking. This is a vast, rolling savanna where everything’s all “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” all day every day. Dinosaurs and dragons wander around doing giant lizard things while neanderthals and Frazetta-men do battle with footage of lizards green-screened onto the background to appear gigantic and lizard-men ride around on little dinosaurs. All Wilderlands game should exclusively be set here at all times.

Cairns, Plains of (City State) - Wild horses run between the clay cairns containing the bodies of ancient warriors for which the plains take their name. Also home to tombs from the ancient Orichalan Empire.

Carnelian Plains (Altanis) - The locals claim the red clay of these plains got its colour from the bloodshed caused by an evil wizard’s skeleton army from ages past. Experts think this is full of poo poo because they have apparently forgotten that this is the Wilderlands and skeleton armies wander around all the time.

Downland Plain (Valon) - Less a plain and more a wetland full of trolls, evil grass and mysterious, cat-like shadows that hunters are always seeing on the horizon that never seem to come closer.

Eba Aba, Plain of (Viridistan) - A mostly nondescript grassland plain with two notable features: Most of the patches of forest throughout inexplicably have treasure chests buried 10 to 20 feet below the ground and a local legend about a local king who found a “magical roc’s egg that controlled all the genies of the world” which apparently inspired him to collect all the lamps, rings and other assorted junk containing genies that existed in the world. He found all of them except 1 and still wanders the plain as a ghost trying to find that last lamp. Weird.

Eleph Territories (Viridistan) - Home to those mining cavemen mentioned earlier. They’re loyal to Viridistan for some reason.

Grimalon Plains (City State) - Tharbrian Tribes hang out here. Not much else going on.

Jarmeer Plain (Tarantis) - Home to the Paldorian tribe and the occasional ruined statue dotting the arid plains.

Lethe, Plain of (Elphand Lands) - Home to the “Elphand racing ponies”. The writers apparently blew all their good hooks on the Plain of Beasts.

Menuquet Plains (Lenap) - Home to yet another tribe of nomadic horsemen. Hey book, at this point you’re probably better off telling us which plains DON’T have nomadic horse-riders. There’s also faeries that sometimes cavort amongst the flowers.

Targnol Plains (Viridistan) - Hey! This plain DOESN’T have nomadic horseback riders! Just “gnolls, vipers, gargoyles and wights” and...a hunchbacked dwarf for some reason?

Ten Battles, Plain of (Tarantis) - Another ancient battle site that is now home to snakes and skeletons. The locals say you should never grasp one of the skeleton hands that sometimes stick out of the ground as they’re liable to grasp back.

Skulls, Plain of (Valley of the Ancients) - “Home to a massive battle” is right up there with “Home to nomadic horseback riders” as a cliche for the plains in this book. This one was the site of a massive battle during the Wizard Wars that left the place littered with various skulls.

Visick Plain (Ament Tundra) - Home to the Visick Barbarian. Yes, they are masters of mounted combat, why do you ask?

Zirzus Plain (Viridistan) - While this plain is home to the requisite herds of wild horses, it’s also the stomping grounds of “three-legged running birds”, lizards, blink dogs, beholders and giant apes that raise blind goats for milk. The Old Man of the Wood also wanders around these parts and likes to disguise himself as a person in need, then transforms the people who stop to help him into tress because...he’s a dick?

RIVERS

And here we hit the absolute nadir of the geography section: Most of the entries for rivers are dominated by a bland listing of the landmarks and regions they pass through, I’ll try to sort out the more interesting stuff...

Ancients, River of the (Valley of the Ancients) - Reportedly has gold nuggets the size of a man’s head along its banks and turns blood red in the summer for reasons never divulged, though may have something to do with the Dragons’ Heart Burial Mound that sits at the headwater. The legendary First Men supposedly considered this place sacred.

Azurerain, River (Tarantis) - Probably the longest river in The Wilderlands. The book spends way too much time alternatively rambling about the areas it passes through and providing rumours about what it’s named after, before finishing with the odd detail that there’s a section of rapids along its length with a bunch of giant statues of weird, four-armed Dwarves perched on boulders.

Conqueror’s River (City State) - Named after the fact that conquering armies always cross it when they attack the surrounding area. Not much else going on here.

Dark River (Lenap) - Named because the water is unusually dark and viscous (And makes a good adhesive!). Turns purplish in the summer because the trees drop so many berries into it.

Destathrone River (Sea of Five Winds) - Some magic throne in an old legend that let people read auras sank to the bottom of this river one time.

Don Jackal River (Southern Reaches) - Bugbear tribes like to hang out on the banks of this river.
Dor, River (Valley of the Ancients) - There is nothing noteworthy about this one except the other landmarks nearby and the other rivers that feed into it.

Dreaming Rise River (Ament Tundra) - Seriously, we’re only in the Ds and the book has already run out of hooks for these rivers.

Eldhraun, River (Tarantis) - Just endless descriptions of what these rivers flow past and that people can use them to travel between places.

Greatflood River (Elphand Lands) - It rained so much once that some local lakes overflowed and made this river. Whee.

Greyrush, River (Altanis) - This one splits into TWO rivers. Try not to pass out from the excitement.

Grinshatter River (Ament Tundra) - Apparently named after the legend of the “Laughing Titan” who was a big dumb jerk who grinned evilly all the time until a son of Athena “smashed the Titan’s face to a pulp with the a magical mace [sic]“

Hagrost, River (City State) - Okay, we’re getting back into rivers that actually have something to make them noteworthy. This one is reportedly home to a band of pirates that have been raiding the Estuary of Ragaloon and it’s supposedly named after a long lost explorer who was kidnapped by a minor deity of eternal youth that lives underwater.

Leander, River (Viridistan) - A dangerous river. The only way to cross it is a bridge near Viridistan or a place called “Shilly Shallows”. I think I’ll take my chances at Viridistan…

Lost River (Elphand Lands) - There’s glyphs and runes along the banks

Mageven, River (Altanis) - There’s piranhas here.

Mau Mau River (Ghinor) - And we’re back into “nothing interesting to say about this” territory. I now regret my decision to do all these landmarks one by one.

Olokon River (Valley of the Ancients) - The only source of water for the Plain of Skulls and features a 100ft tall waterfall at one point.

Quicksake, River (Southern Reaches) - A common water route for merchants

Roglaroon, Estuary of the (City State) - Runs between the City State and Modron and has been having pirate problems. A sea monster named Maelstron has started hanging out here and is rumoured to be working for the Overlord to crack down on the pirates.

Ruling River (Valon/Valley of the Ancients) - They keep mentioning that a bunch of these rivers fork, which (to my knowledge) isn’t how rivers tend to behave in real life. This one is mostly an entry about some legend about a bunch of kings that fought each other to the death in ancient times and also there are sometimes sprites that bewitch fishermen.

Severn, River (City State) - The deepest of all rivers, with the bottom of some areas having never been reached. Has a waterfall with some ancient statues and a legendary unicorn was sighted along its banks two generations ago (I think it’s safe to say the unicorn has moved on by now...).

Starlight River (Ebony Coast) - Look, if you couldn’t think of this many interesting things to say about rivers, maybe you shouldn’t have included an entire section for them in the book!

Stillring, River (City State) - River trolls! Nymphs! Wood Elves! Gnomes! Other fantasy things!

Tamesis River (Elphand Lands) - Book, we can figure out that boats can travel between two places by river by looking at the map! You don’t need to remind us!

Teithoir River (Desert Lands) - There’s crocodiles and tribesmen that live along here. Also Snake People.

Torn River (Elphand Lands) - The major trade route of the Elphand Lands

Trollhraun, River (Tarantis) - Another major trade route

Twilling Way River (Ament Tundra) - There’s Hobgoblins on the north side and Orcs on the south side who are always fighting. Some rangers are supposed to protect this river but the locals don’t trust them

White Worm, River of the (Altanis) - Mostly rapids.

Wildestride River (Se of Five Winds) - The (thankfully) last of the rivers, which mercifully has something to actually say about it: Legend has it some rear end in a top hat barbarian hamstrung a giant who was trying to step over this river and the body eventually turned into a weird island.

ROADS

Remember earlier when the book said reliable, major roads were uncommon in the Wilderlands? Yeah, they weren’t kidding. This section only has two entries and they’re both in the same general region.

Old South Road (City State/Altanis) - Pretty much the only safe overland route safe of the City State, though it gets treacherous near Altanis.

Rorystone Road (City State) - A cobblestone road connectin the City State to Thunderhold.

WASTELANDS

Dear god, it never ends…

Blood, Desert of (Desert Lands) - The lowest point in the Wilderlands at 150 feet below sea level, this desert is home to blood red sands and giant sandworms.

Infinite Desert (Lenap) - A mind-bogglingly vast desert full of nomads, giant monster bones and artifacts the book describes as “strange ‘technology’” in big ol’ scare quotes.

Oppressing Sands (Desert Lands) - A desert we’re told is even crappier and more dangerous than the not yet mentioned Patchwork Desert, this one houses desert elves, giant ants and “Giant Sand Fleas“.

Patchwork Desert (Desert Lands) - Hey, it’s that desert the previous entry compared itself to! It’s apparently named because the shifting sands are regularly broken up by patches of rock and is a hotspot for artifacts from ancient civilizations.

WETLANDS

Ament Tundra (Ament Tundra) - Uh, Tundras aren’t really wetlands. I mean, they can contain wetlands, but it seems weird the entire tundra is a wetland. Then again I’m no geographer! Keeping to stereotype this place is 100% barbarian country and is home to mammoths, yaks and Amazon warriors, who I assume find it a little chilly given their previously established penchant for sexy boob armor.

Great Unctuous Swamp (Ghinor) - Ooh, “Unctuous”! Someone on the design team had a word a day calendar! Trolls and Lizardmen duke it out here and a disease called “filth fever” runs rampant!

Hollowcaste Moors (Desert Lands) - Where all the water that can’t make it over the mountains into the desert flows into. Full of wolves and will-o-wisps.

Marmon Mist (Viridistan) - Home to the three Marmon Witches (Chael, Phyth and Gaedd), who hang out with a bunch of frogs and do generally witchy things. Chael is the leader, Gaedd is the sensible one and Phyth is the wildcard who “prefers to molest or eat intruders“. Despite their notoriety they’re apparently recluses in the witch community who don’t take part in the celebrations at the Witches Court Marches.

Mermist Marshes (City State) - An ugly shithole swamp that’s supposed to have merfolk living somewhere amongst the giant toads, frogs and slugs. Housed a bunch of refugees who started worshiping “The Toad, the God of the Mermist” (Which I assume is just a big frog) and their religion became so popular there’s currently a temple to The Toad in the City State.

Moonraker Moorlands (City State) - A spooky, misty craphole that isn’t even listed on the maps. The people who live here are supposedly descended from the Orichalan Dragon Kings, which makes the fact they now live in a crap-swamp really sad. It’s also “remored“ there’s a hideous monster living near a sickly coloured stream.

Ravensdeath Swamp (Ghinor) - Supposedly home to one of those wizards doing research into stupid wizard poo poo, which probably explains all the monsters, giant crocodiles, evil plants and other assorted nastiness that hangs out here.

Witches’ Court Marshes (City State) - Where all the witches ever (Except the three in Marmon Mist) gather every All Hallows’ Eve to summon demons and do other witchy things. A witch named Mordridda is supposed to be the big crone on campus round these parts.

And with that we’re finally, thankfully done the overlong points of interest section! These past few entries have really felt like there are some good ideas contained in here that suffered from absolutely terrible presentation and editing: You have to remember that this is just the player’s guide and is supposed to present the information that player characters would be familiar with, all of these locations are detailed in full in the giant-rear end GM’s booklet that outlines every single hex square of the Wilderlands map. As a result the fact that the book felt the need to mention every single named point of interest on the map just feels so needless for this book: If they’d omitted at least half of these locations and given more attention to the more noteworthy locations that player characters would actually be familiar with rather than feeling the need to give a two sentence description of every river and forest on the off chance a PC might have heard about it somewhere in passing this whole thing would have been a lot shorter and a lot stronger.

Next time things will hopefully pick up in a six page gazetteer chapter about the City State of the Invincible Overlord!

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007






:grovertoot:
:yosbutt:

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

KingKalamari posted:

Ruling River (Valon/Valley of the Ancients) - They keep mentioning that a bunch of these rivers fork, which (to my knowledge) isn’t how rivers tend to behave in real life.

It apparently can happen—Wikipedia has a whole page about the phenomenon—but it's not common. (Outside of river deltas, but that doesn't really count.)

KingKalamari posted:

Great Unctuous Swamp (Ghinor) - Ooh, “Unctuous”! Someone on the design team had a word a day calendar! Trolls and Lizardmen duke it out here and a disease called “filth fever” runs rampant!

Filth fever is actually one of the ten "typical diseases" described in the 3E Dungeon Master's Guide. It's in the SRD.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




The Wilderlands is certainly a venerable setting, but I don't perceive any kind of overall ethos. Maybe that wasn't really a thing until the 2e D&D settings.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


King Kalamari, are you going to be doing the DM section as well?

KingKalamari
Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack


SirPhoebos posted:

King Kalamari, are you going to be doing the DM section as well?

I really feel like I should because the DM section actually goes in and clarifies a lot of the details of the history and backstory of the setting and presents a narrative for the setting that is utterly insane and delightful in the most 70s way imaginable. It also manages to be way more succinct than the Player's Guide and lays out a bunch of the info from said Player's Guide in a much clearer, more engaging way. The only problem with this: The Player's Guide is about 130 pages long and I'm currently on page 83 with my recap. The DM's guide is two books that, together, clock in at a whopping 448 pages, with 412 of those pages being dedicated to individually describing the contents of the 31,356 hex map of the Wilderlands. There's definitely some weird, wacky and interesting encounters in those hexes, but getting to that would involve me reading through a whole lot of entries of "There are 2d4+1 Wolves in this hex", which is going to be...an undertaking.

Halloween Jack posted:

The Wilderlands is certainly a venerable setting, but I don't perceive any kind of overall ethos. Maybe that wasn't really a thing until the 2e D&D settings.

I think a lot of that really owes to how the setting was originally developed: While the book I'm reading through presents the setting as a big, complete product the original Wilderlands supplements that this book collects and expands on were originally developed and released piecemeal by Judges Guild between the late seventies and early eighties. I don't think this was ever a setting that was designed as a whole around a larger concept but rather one that slowly evolved to accommodate whatever products and modules Judges Guild came out with. A bit like the original Known World/Mystara setting of Basic D&D but without the benefit of the eventual gazetteer products that tried to coherently tie everything in the setting together.

KingKalamari fucked around with this message at 22:32 on Aug 9, 2019

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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






THE NINTH WORLD BESTIARY - PART UUUH 7 - R&S - Rats to Snakes

Rahenum


It's some sand snake men who live underground and have glass powers that they use to make glass cities under the desert. They can also read minds for some reason and also make glass golems. They're abhumans so they are evil and kidnap people and hold them for a really long time then eat them? They'll put you to sleep and then eat your dreams also like a drat gengar.

Relentless Reaper

deployed from the alliteration station

It's a uh robot who deploys to murder you when you touch the wrong stuff. 'A switch that shouldn't have been flipped, a contact that shouldn't have been pressed, or a cypher salvaged from a system best left alone' is what the book says is the trigger. When you do whatever the trigger is you get attacked with a vision of a robot exploding out of a pod full of white stuff in a facility full of more pods full of white stuff, along with the message “For your crime, you have been scheduled for termination. Expect your reaper soon.”

Then uh you get more visions of the next few months showing you the reaper climbing mountains, fording rivers, riding on the back of a camel, as it hunts you down via the datasphere, aka the internet. I guess this is a campaign long threat of a single robot coming to hunt you down to kick your rear end.

Rhog


It's a giant whale thing that's a predator and releases chemicals that make there... be ... less sounds...

Like I said it's predatory, but it likes humans and likes to play with them kind of like a dolphin? Like they rescue people but sometimes capsize boats by getting too boisterous.

Rocira


People hate these swarms of insect things who fly around and show up wherever there's going to be a disaster. They think the bugs cause the disasters, but what they don't know is they just go to where disasters are going to happen anyway. They can release pheromones that make people freak out and hallucinate whatever the last disaster was the Rocira swarm visited. There's a table of effects for how they react, and the best one is 'Attempt to 'rescue' the nearest creature with whatever means is closest to hand', which I like to imagine someone just grabbing a nearby turtle and sprinting away from combat.

Some people with a recessive gene can understand the other pheromones the Rocira release (although in game terms it's just anyone with intellect 9) and use to communicate, but all they talk about is 'local safety levels' and the locations of imminent disasters. You can catch a few in a cage and use them as a kind of canary setup, which is neat.

I think they're a cool creature cause the recessive gene stuff implies they're some kind of early warning system someone made to protect people, it just got messed up over time and people lost the gene that would let them interact with it.

Rotharik

Chronicles of Rotharik, starring Vin Diesel

It's another abhuman, but this one is weird. Instead of being a weird subrace of humans, these are people who got transformed by mysterious blue mist in the Beyond. They turn into the Predator and kill everything because they're literally Addicted To Murder. They start out just killing everything, but I guess get bored of stepping on ants and throwing bees at the wall so hard they die, and graduate to Hunting The Deadliest Game, eventually going all assassin's creed and trying to take out the mayor cause he has a lot of guards.

They're super strong in stats terms and fight with two weapons like cool guys. But uh they don't have any like ecology or purpose or origin beyond being a scary monster for the players to fight, which to me is like the weakest type of monster in any game. I think they're not offensive like the other abhumans cause they aren't like 'evil degenerate race who is motivated by evil but is cowardly and lazy', but they are just bland.

Rurtalian


Rurtalians are a little jelly bean man who was invented so psychic explorers could have a physical body that could take care of itself. A normal body would die if you astral projected out and went on a magical mystery tour for years, but these guys are designed with no psychic essence of their own, so they can keep on walking around and eating food and looking after itself while whoever bound themself to the body is off jacking off in a cloud or w/e.

They're just animals with a distant mind bound to them, like a living lich's phylactery or something, and their main power is a destruction beam they shoot out of their head to melt stuff into food that they eat. Even though they have a super intelligence connect to them they are just animal intelligence level so can't be reasoned with and they will eat you.

Scavrow

These guys don't get a picture which is a shame. They are gigantic (30 foot wingspan) cybernetic crows who spend all day patrolling the sky for poo poo they want to steal. Locals know how to avoid them, because the Scavrow's engines leave contrails in the air. They have super sensitive camera eyes that can even somehow see stuff inside your pockets, and if they see something they want they broadcast the info of the thing to the entire scavrow hivemind.

From then on they won't rest until they have stolen the thing they want, which could be anything. Shiny stuff, tech stuff, an example the book gives is them stealing a little kid who was good at singing. The only way to avoid them is to go underground. Even if you kill the scavrow who spotted the thing they want to steal, another scavrow will come to try and get it.

Once they have your poo poo they take it to their flying nest (they don't detail this very much), which could be anywhere from just above the treetops to out in friggin orbit. Once they have stolen your poo poo they just keep it, because they like it.

I like these guys a lot, because they're like if Skynet was a magpie. A magpie one time irl stole my Battlefield 2 CD because my desk was right by my open window and I had left the CD shiny side up. I was sat super still in my chair and it landed on the window ledge and grabbed the CD which is when I saw it. It got spooked and dropped the CD out of the window as it flew away, but went down and picked it up again before I could get outside. I thought a CD would be too heavy for a bird to carry in its beak but i guess not.

Scrivener

keith thompson art dot com

There are evil priests who turn their slaves into living tools. This guy writes stuff down, and has a cute little bird in a cage above its head who acts as a living dictaphone and also checks his writing, aww :3. I don't know why this is a monster in the book cause it doesn't even have any attacks beyond 'it hits you' and isn't a combat thing. There are no other monsters from this evil priests group in the book so it's not like it's just here for detail.

The only thing I can think of is that they bought all of Keith Thompson's personal art and this was one of them they couldn't really change the story of, and wanted to get their money's worth.

Shanu


These are timid little ape lions who seek out larger individuals to protect them. They don't care about alignment, so they could equally be friends with a cannibal or a paladin. They are considered lucky charms because they have an unconscious telepathic ability to make their protector stronger or more skilled. In mechanical terms, they can spend a health point to decrease the difficulty of a task by one step. Conveniently they also regenerate one hitpoint per hour. They're clever and loyal, and while they can't speak they can understand some languages.

I think they're cute little guys but would probably cause a lot of envy in a party over who it bonded with.

Shivern


Evil shadow who kills people for fun. No backstory.

Silver Orphan

u mess with the blobfish u gonna get stabbed bish

Silver Orphans are the T1000 from Terminator 2, except they're nice. They can still make swords out of their body and whatnot, but only in self defense. Their goal in life is to find an object, which they depict in drawings as a 'vastly complicated spherical object' lying at the bottom of a crater. They can't talk for some reason (except to each other through a mind link), but understand all languages and communicate with gestures and drawings.

They will pay people for help with their search, and if the players help one find news of either the object or of machine intelligences in general, they will make little silver cyphers out of their body-goop as payment. I'm guessing the ball is some kind of supercomputer brain, and the AI is their dad.

Skysmasher


It's a giant frog who lives in space but crashes into the Earth as a gigantic meteor when it's looking to gently caress. Skysmasher mating season is a deadly time with everyone just getting wiped out by horned up space toads. They can also fly into the sky at super high speed using their uhhh plasma thrusters, which sets everyone nearby on fire. Or just punch you really hard. They're not super good at aiming their impact though, only able to land between 1 mile to 100 miles of their destination.

The good news for Treasure-Heads is that their eggs are 'rich in the numenera' and you can crack em open to find cyphers. You know how that is, when you break open a crocodiles egg and there's an iphone inside? I think they were designed by a power-mad DM of a previous age, who wanted to make a living version of 'rocks fall and everyone dies'.

Slicer Beetle

Slicer Beetle (tm): It's The ONLY Beetle Who Slices

It's a big fuckin beetle who slices. They have 3 lifestages. The first two are a big beetle who slices. The last stage NO ONE ALIVE HAS EVER SEEN OOOOooOOooOOOoOOOOOoo but people call them Wizens (what) or Suredeaths (what). Wizens live underground in a nest made of their own sloughed-off intestines and internal organs. Why? I don't know.

This is a picture of a Wizen you apparently see drawn on cave walls sometimes:

No stats are given for the wizen despite 90% of the entry talking about them and not the slicer beetle, who is just a beetle who slices.

Slidikin

Insane The Joker

Slendermans of the Year One Billion, Slidikins are just doing twisted poo poo all the time, like freaking insane twisted SAW movie poo poo. They talk about 'the hideous game' a lot which is apparently their raison detre or however you spell that. It involves kidnapping, torture, and murder, because slidikins Live In A Society.

They are annoying to talk to because they have a lot of mouths with very bad voices, and they are contemptuous and haughty, and also because they're twisted sickos they find stuff like physical threats humorous, and concepts like truth and justice to be incomprehensible. The example use of them is that a guy with his eyelids cut off staggers out of an alleyway screaming 'THE MOUTHS! THE MOUTHS!' and the PCs find out that he was involved in Freaking Insane SAW The Movie poo poo.

Slidikins hate the face eating dopplegangers, and also fear some monster from the corebook who is called Phimosis or something who do kinda look like a diseased penis:

And talk like this:

So I guess the Slidikins are upset someone else is doing the enigmatic monkey chease weirdo bit better than them?

Slurge

Slurge (tm): The ONLY Slug with the Great Flavour of Surge Soda

Big super-fast acid slug who melts stuff with acid and loves to eat melted acid stuff. They can produce a bunch of different types of slime, from acid slime all the way to slippery slime that lets them do Tokyo Drift maneuvers.


Spurn


Trash creatures who evolved out of the landfills of previous eras. They're defensive of their trash realm and can manifest a body out of any nearby trash and let their current one fall to bits. You need to be able to speak to machines to speak to them, and they might be friendly if you bring em some numenera, even if it's all smashed up and broken.

Stellar Weaver


It's a spider made from space or a space made from spider, not sure which. If you get trapped in their web it teleports you to another dimension where the spider eats you. They're very intelligent and telepathic but won't talk to you, and you can use their eyes to see into other dimensions, and their shell to make armour that protects from dimensional fuckery and phase weapons. Boring boring boring monster.

Syzygy Ghoul

dab on 'em

Spooky, porcelain white smooth abhuman boys who claim to own every corpse in the world according to ancient custom, which might be true. That said, they don't claim every corpse, because sometimes they're just not around or other times they don't want the corpse for some reason. Naturally they eat the corpses, and learn whatever the corpse knew in life from their meal. They sing a dirgelike tune while they gather corpses or eat corpses, so they're like the seven dwarves but goth.

They live in underground communities where they write down all the knowledge they learn on vellum pressed from the skin of the dead. Spooky. They also have a secret dimension made of skeleton bones in one of the other books, where all their communities connect, but they keep that a secret. They're not really violent guys unless you keep them from a corpse they really want, at which point they attack you with BONE BLADES which they lick after they hit you so they can learn your moves by tasting your blood, which manifests as a bonus against you.

Their suggested story use is as an NPC faction to go and ask for knowledge, rather than as combatants, and despite being 'abhumans' they are very civilised. Maybe I'm using too much imagination but it seems like they might be from some prior era and were the official way of preserving knowledge, and have just stuck around ever since then. They seem like a race that would be worth giving a racial descriptor, cause none of the stock descriptors or focuses involve learning stuff from dead people.

THAT'S ALL FOLKS, NEXT TIME ON NINTH WORLD BESTIARY: REALLY JUST A BUNCH OF CRAPPY poo poo, THERE'S LIKE ONE MORE GOOD MONSTER IN THE BOOK AND THE REST ARE BUGS OR DOGS. ONE THING IS CALLED A VAPE THOUGH AND THAT'S FUNNY.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



So how tough is the relentless reaper?

I'm envisaging the party having visions of this thing chasing them for months, then when it arrives they put it down in 2 rounds.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




Deptfordx posted:

So how tough is the relentless reaper?

I'm envisaging the party having visions of this thing chasing them for months, then when it arrives they put it down in 2 rounds.

they are slightly weaker than Slicing Beetle, The Beetle Who Slices, and much weaker than the blue predator guy. They have 15hp, deal 6 damage, and have 2 armour. The friendly ale grub Odlarks could easily 1v1 this thing. Even the flute scorpion from last post is stronger, with 17hp, 7 damage, and 3 armour, plus their flute powers.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




juggalo baby coffin posted:

Rotharik

Chronicles of Rotharik, starring Vin Diesel

It's another abhuman, but this one is weird. Instead of being a weird subrace of humans, these are people who got transformed by mysterious blue mist in the Beyond. They turn into the Predator and kill everything because they're literally Addicted To Murder. They start out just killing everything, but I guess get bored of stepping on ants and throwing bees at the wall so hard they die, and graduate to Hunting The Deadliest Game, eventually going all assassin's creed and trying to take out the mayor cause he has a lot of guards.

They're super strong in stats terms and fight with two weapons like cool guys. But uh they don't have any like ecology or purpose or origin beyond being a scary monster for the players to fight, which to me is like the weakest type of monster in any game. I think they're not offensive like the other abhumans cause they aren't like 'evil degenerate race who is motivated by evil but is cowardly and lazy', but they are just bland.

So we got Murder Junkies, do we get a G.G.Allin?

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


juggalo baby coffin posted:

they are slightly weaker than Slicing Beetle, The Beetle Who Slices, and much weaker than the blue predator guy. They have 15hp, deal 6 damage, and have 2 armour. The friendly ale grub Odlarks could easily 1v1 this thing. Even the flute scorpion from last post is stronger, with 17hp, 7 damage, and 3 armour, plus their flute powers.

I really like the idea of someone getting visions of this thing tracking them down and then the visions show it becoming increasingly pathetic as it gets mugged by various stuff on the way until one day you get a vision of it just stuck under a pile of rocks and that's it now. Just dreams filled with images of this lovely robot stuck under a rock for the rest of your life.

Having a bunch of robots that exist to hunt people down is rude. Having a bunch of robots that exist to hunt people down that also make you experience your life like an action movie with montages of your killer tracking you is rad because what is even the point of sending hunter-killer robots after people to get them to stop hitting buttons if they don't know it's happening to them. You gotta punish the crime immediately or they won't know what the punishment is for!

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I gotta say, I do love the meteor frogs. Everything else is bland.

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



Leraika posted:

I gotta say, I do love the meteor frogs. Everything else is bland.

I mean they seem suspiciously similar to the (much cooler) monsters from noted good movie Attack the Block, so.

Similarly the art and cryptic musings of the diseased penis monster make me think someone liked Kosh from Babylon 5 without understanding good writing, which seems within Monte Cook's playbook.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013



Is it just me or are there a lot of monsters that are intelligent and telepathic, but refuse to communicate in this bestiary? Because that's just loving stupid, like the dimension spiders could just be spiders from another dimension that eat people and that's fine. It's a regular old monster that does monster stuff and has some interesting implications with regards to PCs finding ways to benefit from it's special power such as using an inter-dimensional web network.

I think everyone has had the idea for the space frogs, but ultimately discarded it for being too silly, which is probably why I like it. Mine were whales, but whatever, same difference.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




By popular demand posted:

So we got Murder Junkies, do we get a G.G.Allin?

buddy, I wish. we do have a number of his backing bands already though. we've got The AIDS Brigade (the viral hosts), the Cedar Street Sluts (nibovian wives), and even the Jabbers (twisted mouth guys).

EthanSteele posted:

I really like the idea of someone getting visions of this thing tracking them down and then the visions show it becoming increasingly pathetic as it gets mugged by various stuff on the way until one day you get a vision of it just stuck under a pile of rocks and that's it now. Just dreams filled with images of this lovely robot stuck under a rock for the rest of your life.

Having a bunch of robots that exist to hunt people down is rude. Having a bunch of robots that exist to hunt people down that also make you experience your life like an action movie with montages of your killer tracking you is rad because what is even the point of sending hunter-killer robots after people to get them to stop hitting buttons if they don't know it's happening to them. You gotta punish the crime immediately or they won't know what the punishment is for!

it is an idea really ruined by how weak the robot is. when even the jolly flute scorpion can take you to clown town you need to reevaluate your life as a hunter-killer drone.

Ithle01 posted:

Is it just me or are there a lot of monsters that are intelligent and telepathic, but refuse to communicate in this bestiary? Because that's just loving stupid, like the dimension spiders could just be spiders from another dimension that eat people and that's fine. It's a regular old monster that does monster stuff and has some interesting implications with regards to PCs finding ways to benefit from it's special power such as using an inter-dimensional web network.

I think everyone has had the idea for the space frogs, but ultimately discarded it for being too silly, which is probably why I like it. Mine were whales, but whatever, same difference.

there's a lot of that sort of creature, and there's also a lot of VERY MYSTERIOUUUUS creatures who will literally attack you if you ask questions

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




juggalo baby coffin posted:

there's a lot of that sort of creature, and there's also a lot of VERY MYSTERIOUUUUS creatures who will literally attack you if you ask questions
Everybody knows the best way to keep things weird and mysterious is to have them, despite being able to, absolutely refuse to answer questions or even attack you for it. This definitely doesn't just reduce them to Yet Another Thing That Attacks You.

Drakyn
Dec 26, 2012



juggalo baby coffin posted:

there's a lot of that sort of creature, and there's also a lot of VERY MYSTERIOUUUUS creatures who will literally attack you if you ask questions

'Wander 'neath the dying sun of my world of utmost exotic grandeur, gawping in awe at the many creatures the fancies of your mind could never conjure. What alien dreams lurk behind this one's many brows? What strange sapience pools inside its quasi-spine? What drives fuel it? What wants feed it? What do you do?.'
'I try to interact with it in any way at all.'
'It immediately tries to stab you for a presumably elaborate reason that I'm never telling you, begin rolling your 20 sided dice.'

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




it's something i call 'JJ Abrams Disease', where a person is able to set up a compelling mystery but completely unable to come up with a conclusion to that mystery.

someone, I think it was hemingway, said that when you're writing something, it's ok to obscure the facts in the story from your audience, but if YOU don't know the facts in your story, then what you're writing becomes an inconsistent lie rather than a consistent story.

i have a lot of sympathy around the difficulty of depicting genuinely alien creatures. By definition it is difficult for us to imagine truly alien motives. when we try to invent alien motives it comes off one of two ways:

1) the motive, while seeming alien at first, is able to be reduced to an identifiable motive for a living creature: survival, reproduction, aesthetic desires, etc, making it then not alien, just strange. this is the best of the two options. dread cthulhu wants to rise and restore the world to the way it was, nyarlethotep wants to cause chaos, azathoth doesn't want anything and just exists. Blindsight by Peter Watts pulls this off the absolute best, by having creatures with comprehensible motives that are still truly horrifying in their nature. I'd say more but go and read the book, it's available free online legally.

2) monkey chease bullshit. the zorblorfians engage in all-out war to destroy the left ear of all human combatants. Yothorix slide in from the fourth dimension and turn everything blue and break gravity. because the motives and the actions are not logical to us as humans, they come off as insane bullshit the author just threw darts at a board to pick. If these creatures existed in reality, yes, they'd be truly alien and incomprehensible, but when they live in a story we know they were invented. The author themself can't understand the motive without reducing it to being comprehensible by a human, so as hemingway said, it becomes bullshit and made-up.

i'm a writer, i like to write speculative fiction, and I like to engage with the psychology of non-human creatures. It is astoundingly difficult to do well. but the answer isn't 'the mysterious creature stabs you to death for asking what it's doing' or 'the mysterious creature refuses to talk to you, because'. that gives the game away.

I think having one or two of those creatures in the book would be fine. But the bulk of the poo poo in this setting is either the creations or descendants of humanity. It is not vital for them all to be incomprehensible, they can just be strange. They pull this off a few times in the book successfully:

Recina - bugs who swarm at the locations of disasters. heavily implied to be an ancient early-warning system devised by a bioengineered human society. the only way to find it out is to by chance have genes from that society kicking around inside you that let you understand their way of communication.

Syzygy Ghouls - pale guys who claim all corpses and eat them to gain their knowledge. probably some kind of ancient priestly caste who was dedicated to preserving the knowledge of the dead, but to present people just seem like creepy corpse eating monsters.

those are the two from that last post that I think fit. they don't sound super impressive written as monster manual entries, but if the revelations were made gradually in a novel or during a campaign, it would be a satisfying revelation. I wish that they had stuck to this route.

For what it's worth, i'm going to cover bestiary 2, and the monsters in that are overall higher quality, and all of them have art that was specifically done for the monster. I think bestiary 1 was a bit of a rush job and done on a budget.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


juggalo baby coffin posted:


there's a lot of that sort of creature, and there's also a lot of VERY MYSTERIOUUUUS creatures who will literally attack you if you ask questions

Then there's the murder monsters who only exist to murder people and are driven to do so for no loving reason beyond the GM wanted you to roll initiative. How hard is it to come up with ideas for monsters that might at first be hostile, but once their motives are discovered it turns out that this was a misunderstanding or something? Star Trek did this all the drat time and it's not that difficult.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Also, for a game with Numenaras setting, that should be the majority of the encounters.

It doesnt even invalidate your Wizards, Monte, theyre still broken as hell in social situations too.

Baku
Aug 20, 2005

by Fluffdaddy


To be fair, by comparison most D&D Monster Manuals amount to being 75% of the following two things:

1. People, except they're ugly and live somewhere weird and gross and they're culturally okay with slavery/raiding/cannibalism/whatever, so it's fine to murder them.

2. Nonsense creatures that a wizard made on purpose or by accident. Will try to kill you on sight because they're crazy and angry.

Writing a whole book of really good monsters like that is super tough. Which actually - what are everyone's favorite bestiaries?

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:

To be fair, by comparison most D&D Monster Manuals amount to being 75% of the following two things:

1. People, except they're ugly and live somewhere weird and gross and they're culturally okay with slavery/raiding/cannibalism/whatever, so it's fine to murder them.

2. Nonsense creatures that a wizard made on purpose or by accident. Will try to kill you on sight because they're crazy and angry.

Writing a whole book of really good monsters like that is super tough. Which actually - what are everyone's favorite bestiaries?

The Paranormal Animals splats for Shadowrun. There's a high level of verisimilitude in them, being an in-world guide along with ShadowBBS commentary.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The sheer number of adventures and ideas I've gotten from the Old World Bestiary, particularly for the stuff that never got its own sourcebook, still makes it one of my favorite monster manuals.

I got an entire campaign arc just out of the Dragon entry.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:

Writing a whole book of really good monsters like that is super tough. Which actually - what are everyone's favorite bestiaries?

1st edition Games of Divinity was glorious.

I also really liked Crooks for Mutants and Masterminds, but it feels a bit weird to call that a bestiary when everyone in it is basically people.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The 13th Age Bestiary is still the best monster book I've ever read because it really gives a lot of good advice on how to present the creatures in interesting ways, how to work them into the setting so they're more than just a bunch of numbers, and gives multiple (unique) stat blocks for each monster for a range of levels. So instead of just "Orc" there's mook-level orcs, orc archers, disease-spreading orcs, orc "battle musicians", and big mindless orcs.

KingKalamari
Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack


No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:

To be fair, by comparison most D&D Monster Manuals amount to being 75% of the following two things:

1. People, except they're ugly and live somewhere weird and gross and they're culturally okay with slavery/raiding/cannibalism/whatever, so it's fine to murder them.

2. Nonsense creatures that a wizard made on purpose or by accident. Will try to kill you on sight because they're crazy and angry.

That honestly doesn't surprise me as Cook's entire career has basically been rehashing the same principles he brought to the development of 3rd Edition into every other project he's ever worked on. The Cypher System itself is basically just "A person who has only ever played 3.x trying desperately to recreate FATE.".

No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:

Writing a whole book of really good monsters like that is super tough. Which actually - what are everyone's favorite bestiaries?

I'm a really big fan of some of the 3rd party bestiaries that have been released for Dungeon World, particularly Lampback and Brimstone's A Book of Beasts and the various bestiaries Red Box Vancouver has put out. There's not a lot to them mechanically but they feature some really cool and unique ideas for fantasy monsters.

I've also heard really good things about the Hacklopedia of Beasts for Hackmaster, but haven't delved deep enough into it to make any personal judgments yet.

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:

Which actually - what are everyone's favorite bestiaries?

I don't know that I'd call it my favorite—I have a hard time picking favorites—and I've never used any of the monsters in it (but then, the only GURPS games I've played are a couple of one-shots at conventions), but one book that I think did a particularly good job of making its monsters really evocative and interesting and useful in a campaign is GURPS Creatures of the Night.

All my GURPS books are currently in storage, so I can't check the details right now, but as I recall one of the monsters was the "pumpkin". Not pumpkin ghost or animated pumpkin. Just "pumpkin". No, it wasn't out of place in the book, and yes, it had potential uses in a game...

ETA: Don't know that that totally counts, though, since it was a supplement rather than a core bestiary for a game or setting, and those have rather different requirements.

Jerik fucked around with this message at 16:53 on Aug 11, 2019

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Evil Mastermind posted:

The 13th Age Bestiary is still the best monster book I've ever read because it really gives a lot of good advice on how to present the creatures in interesting ways, how to work them into the setting so they're more than just a bunch of numbers, and gives multiple (unique) stat blocks for each monster for a range of levels. So instead of just "Orc" there's mook-level orcs, orc archers, disease-spreading orcs, orc "battle musicians", and big mindless orcs.

Yeah, I completely adopted their format when I started doing my Exalted bestiaries for the Vault, and I don't regret it.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Jerik posted:

I don't know that I'd call it my favorite—I have a hard time picking favorites—and I've never used any of the monsters in it (but then, the only GURPS games I've played are a couple of one-shots at conventions), but one book that I think did a particularly good job of making its monsters really evocative and interesting and useful in a campaign is GURPS Creatures of the Night.

Creatures of the Night is one of my favourite critter books. Meanwhile, the guy who was GMing when I bought it was upset because he couldn't just grab something at random from it and throw it at the party.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:


Writing a whole book of really good monsters like that is super tough. Which actually - what are everyone's favorite bestiaries?

Double Cross, because it leans real hard into 'everything is a normal thing + renegade virus' and then you fight the idea of a knight of the round table or a literal metal gear.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:

To be fair, by comparison most D&D Monster Manuals amount to being 75% of the following two things:

1. People, except they're ugly and live somewhere weird and gross and they're culturally okay with slavery/raiding/cannibalism/whatever, so it's fine to murder them.

2. Nonsense creatures that a wizard made on purpose or by accident. Will try to kill you on sight because they're crazy and angry.

Writing a whole book of really good monsters like that is super tough. Which actually - what are everyone's favorite bestiaries?

Classic 2nd ed AD&D Monstrous Manual, simply because of the "ecology" and "society" notes for every creature which notes what they do when there aren't wandering killer hobos around, attempts to fit them into a larger ecology and suggests what you can do with their corpses after carving them in half.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

Endorsed by:
Pentecoastal Elites!
fart_man_69!
Terminal autist!
Ruzihm!
Judakel!
Dixon Chisholm!
Nix Panicus!
Neurolimal!

Young Freud posted:

The Paranormal Animals splats for Shadowrun. There's a high level of verisimilitude in them, being an in-world guide along with ShadowBBS commentary.

shadowrun in general has some of the best 'it's a big book of (x)' things. They released a loving book on magical rocks and I bought it because it was a fun read. I know it's hard to ape that style but other lines really should, just add a quote from an adventurer and some thought on how a creature actually would exist in the world or something.

In more close to D&D terms, Hackmaster has great beast books for that reason, mentioning what bits of the animal are valuable and all is great.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



I dont have a favorite but the Fiend Folio entry for Xvarts was definitely a standout in unuseability since the number appearing was something stupid like 50-200

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Eclipse Phase: Second Edition



The Part That Comes Next

So, to recap, the combat is workable, but feels fiddlier and more laden with hard-to-remember modifiers than EP1's, though that may just be down to the editing, while the weapon balance seems generally improved(though again the editing made it take longer to figure some of it out than I should have). After the combat chapter is the Various Sidemechanics Section, including stuff that we've already bungled into before, like the hilariously mismanaged mental health mechanics. In between this there's also some quite good art.


while I appreciate cool spaceman shooting art I'm really starting to wonder where the spaceman horror aspect is...

There's also stuff like morph sizes and how they affect a bunch of stuff, really very interesting except that only Neo-Avians, Neotenics and a couple of synthmorphs interact with size at all. Even Nova Crabs, who are loving huge(by their own art and the one size mentioned they should be like five meters long), still count as normal person sized. Thus this whole thing really doesn't matter unless you're adding novel morphs to the game.

Right after that comes the section on social skills which is largely uninteresting except that it includes a bit on using social skills in combat:

quote:

Provoke skill can be used in a number of offensive ways during action scenes.The following examples show what you can accomplish with a successful opposed test, pitting your Provoke skill against their WIL Check.

Calm: You temporarily soothe an opponent into pausing hostilities.

...

Fluster: You discombobulate or confuse an opponent; they suffer –10 to their next action. Increase this by an additional –10 per superior success.

So, to recap. Spares are free Morphs. Nothing indicates that Spares have no communications options, thus, they can speak. Forking yourself is essentially just copy-pasting your brain software. You now have 100 Spares with copies of yourself, and thus copies of all your Aptitudes and Skills. Any time you get into a fight, your Spares all yell at the enemy until they either get calmed down long enough for you to shoot them, or suffer enough cumulative penalties from being Flustered to not be able to act, and then you shoot them, since nothing seems to indicate a maximum penalty they can suffer. Now, the GM can apply all sorts of "reasonable" penalties from an associated table, but as long as you've got your Provoke at its max, it should still rattle out as a 30% chance of success for you, meaning you just need enough rolls that you succeed on where the enemy fails since they will always have at least a 10% chance of failure.

For anyone worshipping at the Altar of Verisimillitude, Eclipse Phase 2 also has no concept of terminal velocity since falling damage increases linearly beyond 8 meters with no upper cap.


EP2 does not in fact feature any sort of swarm missile launchers

The Part That Came Next... On The Internet! In Space. The Space Internet.

Mostly this is repeating poo poo we already know, like how Everyone And Everything Is Always Online. You're online, your fridge is online, your cat is online, I'm online, the exsurgents are online and shitposting aggressively probably. Unless you're a FILTHY BIOCON in which case you get a penalty for using an external device for your always internet. There's also a section on what people use the Future Space Internet for. Surprise, it's the exactly poo poo we use it for in 2019, you fuckwit and is probably the most aggressively pointless and useless part of this book unless a physical copy survives the apocalypse and a bunch of cave people pick it up and decide to roleplay as nerds in the far space-future. The Always Being Online is also extremely stupid for the large part of the populace that are in Pods or Synthmorphs since their cyberbrains can quite literally be hacked and someone can delete them from their own brain or steal their bodies. Like, especially a populace whose main existential threat is super-intelligent AI's known for deploying extremely advanced hacks. You'd want to air gap the gently caress out of your cyberbrain and only stick with external devices unless you were an incredible moron.



I'll also note that any time someone is doing anything related to data that takes time, there's a note that "if you do this in VR you can do it SUPER FAST because it'll be an ACCELERATED TIME SIMULSPACE," and considering the omnipresence of internet tech it makes me wonder why this isn't just the default time things take and then there could be a note in one place going: "Hey if you're doing this in the space boonies with no VR space internet, it takes X time longer."

Now, I'll give them that the hacking rules feel like they have a more detailed write-up this time around, and that it feels less like "roll computer skill and see what the GM lets you do." and more like an actual part of the system, but does feel cluttered by a bunch of, well, pointless clutter. Like they needed to specifically write up that if you were logged into a system, one of the actions you could take? To log off. Oooooooooooooooooh. Amazing. Idiots.

This is also the first section that really deals with Muses which were always one of my least favourite things about the original EP. To recap, Muses are your personal cyber space secretaries that are always with you, straight from chargen and which you have probably programmed to behave in such a way that you enjoy having them around. In EP1 they were even worse because they were literally separate characters with their own skill ratings, and asking players to play two characters at once is a bit much. Here, they have no skills but instead suggest that the GM roleplay the muses instead. Hope you like having [number of PC's] extra NPC's present in every scene that you need to keep track of! They seriously add nothing to the game except as a fluff point.

Oh and it deals with Infomorphs. Infomorphs are another bad part of the game to even suggest as a PC option. See, imagine you had a PC that didn't have a corporeal body, and could only interact through hacking. Meaning that in any given adventure you would be forced to add an equal amount of hacking content otherwise he'd just be twiddling his thumbs and playing the peanut gallery unless some other PC had a turreted weapon on his morph for him to play with or similar. And even then, if you give him his hacking adventure, he's basically playing a separate game next to the other PC's, never quite touching them.



This post lacked focus because it was an entire section of the book lacking focus, I felt like I was drowning in an ocean of fiddly details and manifold dice roll modifiers.

Next time: Did they gently caress up Psi again? Of course they hosed up Psi again.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





The 13th Age Bestiary

I wrote a review of the 13th Age bestiary for a blog a few years ago. It's offline now, so here's my 2nd draft:

The 13th Age Bestiary is the monster manual for Pelgrine Press' flagship game. It's an Open Gaming License powered fresh take on classic fantasy adventure gaming. Most of the monsters presented in this book will be familiar to anyone who has played any edition of D&D, but the many variations and adventure hooks will make them new again.

Any RPG supplement must be judged on three criteria: how does it read, how does it look, and how does it play. Even if you never use any of these monsters in a game the well-written fluff is an entertaining read. The layout and generous amounts of color artwork make for a beautiful book, I'm sorry I've only seen the PDF version (which is thoroughly bookmarked).

The play is the thing though. What you get are 52 (13 * 4) monsters, and 200 distinct variations with their own statblocks. Each monster has well written fluff, color artwork, the statblocks, adventure, campaign, and Icon hooks. Any special rules needed are included along with write ups on the stuff or treasure found around (or in) the monster. In short, a multi page monster write up with everything you need to use them in an adventure or even build a campaign arc around them.

Even if you don't play 13th Age there is a wealth of material in this book. Players of any edition of D&D can use the statblocks from their game. Dungeon World GMs will find that creating monster Moves from the descriptions and abilities presented will be very easy. If you do play 13th Age, the references to the settings and the Icons will make presenting the monsters as integral parts of the setting very easy. The Icons are simple and descriptive, so again you can easily tie them in to your own setting. Everyone has an Elf Queen and a Dwarf King in their game, right ? I count 228 references to Icon relationships over 52 monsters; many of of the mechanics reference Icon relationships established by the players.

It gets better. The Bestiary contains 196 adventure hooks, each with a name and a paragraph of description. One or two monsters don't have adventure hooks, the Djinn and Efreet have stories instead. Many of them also have campaign options to help them fit into your campaign, this is a good bit of customization and will keep the players on their toes even if they've read the book.

To round out each monster there are other sections that are included where appropriate. These include environmental effects, advice on balancing battles, nastier examples for when you want an especially dangerous example of the breed. The treasures they have or stuff found near them or in them in some cases are described, but in not great detail. Pull quotes from characters in the setting are often included to add flavor in many entries.

Environmental effects are included in, for example, the Basilisk's entry. This describes the specific hazards to be found in the blasted wastes found around a Basilisk's lair with the mechanics to apply them in your game. Where appropriate sample names are given to personalize each critter you use. Some monsters need special rules to use them as they should be in combat, these are well written. Kobolds for example get almost a page of rules on traps they can set.

Before the monsters are presented the introduction has some useful material. There is a page on unusual monsters which provides good inspiration for picking monsters for your game, I'd like to have seen even more in this section. There is also a section on creating interesting battles with the monsters and their companion creatures that follow. An appendix at the end has a list of monsters by level and category, plus a short section on the mechanics of balancing battles.

The monsters in the book fall into several categories. There are the solitary quest monsters such as dragons. Ancient guardians such as Nagas, Golems, and Lammasu will be found at the center of many dungeons; the Nagas are also social creatures and can be used in campaign arcs with their own motives. A number of humanoid races such as Orcs, Kobolds, and Sahuagin can be used as large scale campaign foes. Centaurs get a fantastic entry covering the distinctions between tribes emphasizing Hoof, Hand, and Heart. The Drow get some very useful material for making your own variation for your game.

There are a few social threats as well, creepy manipulators, seducers with dark secrets for campaigns that swing that way, and a race of demonic assassins that will make for outstanding recurring threats. There are also a few monsters presented for horror themed games, including the classic big bloodsucking bugs: the Stirge. There's also a chaos thing with too many tentacles, eyes, and mouths that has an even worse companion entry that makes a good Shoggoth analogue.
Honestly weird creatures make an appearance, there's a living clockwork monster, several good variations on the Gelatinous Cube, a dangerous byproduct of miscast magic, and damned souls salvaged for a dark crusade.

Some of the monsters have a tragic aspect, making a victory of them bittersweet at best. A Haunted Skull is more dangerous than a plain ghost, but it also has the same legacy of the lost. Even an Intellect Devourer is the last remnant of the personalities it has consumed; building a Lost Inheritor plot around tracking down the Devourer that ate the scion of a noble house's mind has real possibilities.

Dragons are not neglected. Black, Red, Shadow, and White Dragons are in the book. Each of those is a quest in its own right. These are all solid variations on the classic chromatics. The Red Dragon is of course fire-themed with a nasty Volcano Dragon variant. The Black Dragon spits acid, but they've defined it as a deep subterranean dragon that uses the acid to tunnel through solid rock. The Shadow Dragon is an unholy thing, it's the natural prey of a Good or Holy aligned party and vice versa. The White Dragon is presented primarily as a death dragon, not an expression of elemental cold. They're useful as a campaign element in opposition to Liches or other powerful undead. For traditionalists there is a cold dragon, and a moon dragon for a fresh approach.

There are two monsters that some people will find problematical. The first is the Jorogumo. This is a spider-thing that appears to be human or elf, male or female. The pull quote example given is the madam of a brothel who has far too many legs under her skirts. They're seducers. They literally take your heart out and leave you a controlled husk of a person. They're great for a social campaign where a web of minions surrounds a manipulating corps of spiders at the center of the web, but as presented they're just a tad sexual for the average RPG group. Re-fluffed as city Councilors they pass the PG-13 standard handily. That leaves them, with some GM interpretation, suitable for any group and a possible source of some fantastic horror scenes. Use them with thought or not at all. Used cleverly and you have the monster at the heart of a social-based campaign with no necessarily sexual elements.

The other monster with issues is the Hag. There will be objections to an exclusively female monster. It's traditional, but not in a way we want to carry into the future. On the other hand, there is at least the Djinn/Efreet as a monster that is always male in the fiction. I believe that this monster can be given a pass insofar as it can be reskinned as The Coot. Ideally that would be in the text, but it's an easy house ruling. The monster, however you bring in gender elements, has a fantastic set of mechanics that make each one powerful and unique. The Hag can also be used directly from the book as an expression of woman's anger and could be used to challenge the group's preconceptions.

To summarize the book, it's a recommended purchase for anyone running a classical fantasy adventure game in any system. What you get is a well-written, beautifully illustrated campaign sourcebook organized around classic fantasy gaming monsters, all with a new, modern twist. I'm closing this review here, I have some campaign Fronts to ponder.

Pros
Production values
Writing in fluff and mechanics
Utility in actual games
Ability to surprise players who have read the book
Campaign and adventure hooks in abundance

Cons
Your favorite monsters might not be in the book
Activists have some room to complain, balanced by opportunities to invert tropes
Setting specific, requires adaption to non-13A settings

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


'Everyone is online all the time even though there are super AIs" was something that I used to think was stupid and have argued with friends about this at great length. Then society forced me to buy a smart phone or die in the gutter and now it makes sense. That is it makes sense if you assume that cyber brain technology was poorly cobbled together by overblown assholes who only care about the bottom-line and think of their customers as sub-human mongrels who should bow and scrape before the cyber-gods of Silicon Valley. So, what I'm trying to say here is, yeah, I guess it works in EP no complaints.

I'm also willing to defend having more detailed rules for infomorphs because theoretically every PC is an infomorph and likely has at least one other infomorph, or possibly several, as a retainer.


But not having micro-missile swarm launchers is unforgivable.

Ithle01 fucked around with this message at 01:58 on Aug 12, 2019

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Can I fork my karate powers a thousand times and Burly Brawl the avatar of a legendary pre-fall hero's brain ROM?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Wait, EP has Psi? As in psionics? In their 'hard sci-fi' setting?

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The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Night10194 posted:

Wait, EP has Psi? As in psionics? In their 'hard sci-fi' setting?

There's two types of psi. The low-level stuff available to PCs is more like brainhacking, requiring physical contact to mess with people's minds (or your own). No telekinesis etc here, plausible moderately-firm scifi.
The high level stuff used only by EXSURGENTs is more or less 'the laws of physics are more suggestions than laws' incomprohensible alien horror stuff. Soft sci-fi, but no softer than ftl.

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