Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Fork your piloting skill into a thousand micro-drones and BECOME the micro-missile swarm.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

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:

Wait, EP has Psi? As in psionics? In their 'hard sci-fi' setting?
Psionic powers are a result of one of the many strains of the Exsurgent Virus, the Watts-MacLeod Virus. It's more or less taking some of the Titans' capabilities and stripping them way the hell back for use in a clean(ish) morph and ego. Some Exsurgent Viruses will turn you into a constantly regenerating manchine dragging a trail of brain-harvesting nanomachines in your wake. Watts-MacLeod just gives you psychic powers that are cast from health and strain. You're still infected and nobody has any clue if it's a benign infection, especially because more mutated individuals can use more powerful variants on psi. Plus, every single member of the Lost generation is infected with it because somehow the virus ended up in the program. As a result psychic powers are distrusted for two reasons. First, who knows if you'll mutate and go berserk and cause another city to become a quarantine zone. Second, there's a nonzero chance you're a poorly designed science project with an unimaginably lovely childhood that tends to result in megalomania, depersonalization disorders, narcissism or some form of psychopathy and that makes people nervous too. It's also transmissible, so the latter isn't necessarily true, but people still talk and fear.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Well, at least the lovely mental health rules will fix that stuff right up.

If not that, the brain editing.

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:

Well, at least the lovely mental health rules will fix that stuff right up.

If not that, the brain editing.
Ha ha, who do you think are the absolute best in the setting at doing psychosurgery.

A: a trained medical professional.
B: one spicy someone who only existed for three years realtime but has lived 18 mental years inside of the world's most evil VR experiment where their minds were conditioned through psychotherapy and they've learned since grade school how to hack their own reality to piss off their parents.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Goblinville Gazette #1 6/6



We're done !

This entry is for the GM chapter and sample adventure for Goblinville.

The heart of the chapter is about creating opportunities; specifically about how to hook the goblins into a dungeon crawl. The book suggests that one-page dungeons are great for GV, and I think they're right. You can find endless sources of small dungeons by goodling "one page dungeon" and looking at the Images results.

Populating your map appropriately gets a few paragraphs. Money is more abstracted in GV than in other games, so 1 scratch = 5 gold pieces in most existing adventures. Monsters will drop roughly one scratch worth of stuff per move they have. Monsters should have 2-8 moves, and there's a reminder that the goblins are technically also monsters and might be able to get along with some of the dungeon denizens they encounter.

There are tables to roll types of work for an opportunity, what the boss wants, interesting dangers, and curses. These will help the GM come up with opportunities and complications. It's a short section, but useful.

I like the discussion of traps. The rules break down traps into "obvious but sudden" or "hidden but slow". Traps are suggested to be opportunities for problem solving, not punishments for not pixel bitching the dungeon.

That's about a page and a half worth of the chapter. The chapter starts off with a review of the first session for about half a page:
Goblin creation
Introductions
Listening to what the players are talking about
Opportunity. One should become apparent from the table talk, otherwise roll one and add it to the conversation.
Finishing touches.
Embark ! Roll for initiative !

This is similar to starting with a blank map as in PbtA games like Dungeon World, with more focus provided by the Opportunity and Boss Offering The Work tables.

After the Opportunity material previously discussed, we get half a page on running the game and half a page on creating monsters.

The material on running the game should be familiar to any RPG veteran, it's just principles and such, tuned for the GV system:
Throw the goblins into danger
Help them engage with the fictional situation
Dont skip over problem-solving by rushing to the roll.
Dig into their traits and titles
Give detail and context to each roll.

And then Monsters ! A monster in GV is a collection of moves. Some provide flavor, some describe their tactics, some are attacks, and some monsters have finishing moves to take down an unlucky goblin. Lizardmen have Hiss, Hide, Ambush, and Disarm. No finishing moves on the list, but if they outnumber the goblins they'll gain armor (or the monster might actually be armored). Successes on an action roll cross off a monster move, armor first. So when Lizardmen show up the GM can lead with a Hiss to set up the situation or go straight to Ambush if they want real danger from the start of the encounter.

A carrion crawler is an old GM favorite. They have Skulk, Pin, Feed, and Paralyzing Bite. The bite is a finishing move, if it uses it on a goblin that goblin is down and out. Not dead in this case, but you'll have to camp and let them recover before they can do anything.

There are a total of 15 monsters detailed on the monster page. It's mostly low level stuff and dungeon classics like kobolds (known as Dogbrothers), centipedes, gelatinous cubes, giant rats, bats, and with gnolls and a Minotaur as serious opposition. With the rules for statting out your own monsters a GM is pretty well provided with critters to populate a dungeon.

The chapter ends with a 5-page, 5 room dungeon called the Pit of Mirrors. The sample adventure for any RPG is an important means of communicating how to play the actual game as intended. The adventure starts with this section:

Tips for Running The Pit of Mirrors
Read this entire chapter so you know the full
picture of what's going on. Read it a few
times. It's short!
Use your own words. When describing what
the goblins see in each room, try not to
just read our description off the page.
Nothing screams "railroad!" like reading
dungeon text verbatim. Make eye contact;
use your hands.
The weavers and the adventurers have
their own agendas
. They're not just there
as obstacles to kill. Play to their desires
and instincts and the goblins will react
accordingly.
Use the timeline! Every time the players
reroll initiative, something happens in the
background. This helps you keep things
moving.
Avoid the instinct to "make it hard". The
adventure is plenty hard on it's own. The
action roll mechanics and the dungeon
layout rules create the challenge. It's not
on you to add more it's on you to make it
exciting and interesting.

I'm bolding important bits. "Use your own words" cannot be emphasized enough for any GM running a published module. The references to agendas and the timeline are good reminders that the goblins aren't just kicking in doors in a static scenario. Some of the NPCs have their own plans, and the timeline tracks progress of the plot much like a PbtA Front.


There are a few paragraphs of what the goblins know when they set out, and what they can discover on-site. This section also fills in the GM on what's going on and how the goblins can interact with the situation as they find it.

Getting to the Temple. The adventure doesn't just say to use the overland travel rules and leave it at that. It gives the duration, 3 days through jungle, and defines the group's position, sets up the Action roll for travel and tells the GM what the first scene should be based on how well the roll goes. I like this, this really helps get the adventure started.

Each room in the dungeon has it's own dangers, monsters, loot, and a sketch map to add detail to the description given. Again, I love the art style in this book, doubly so on the maps.



And then there's the timeline. This one starts at turn 2 and goes to turn 8. If they players don't succeed, bad things happen. There are plenty of ways given to upset the impending doom but they goblins will need to be rpoactive. Every time they complete a turn, the timeline advances so they can't just faff about and hope. Again, the timeline works like a PbtA Front but with more detail and a much more implacable clock. This is why the GM is advised to not try and "make it hard", the adventure already is hard and there are consequences for failure.



And that's Goblinville Gazette #1 !

I have to say I'm impressed with what's been done in a 32 page booklet. This is a solid, rules-light RPG with a unique system that tries (and succeeds) to capture the classic style dungeon crawl with its own twist and modern sensibilities. The production values are high; the layout is very well done and who can hate the charming artwork ?

This would be an excellent game for a one-shot or short campaign. For only :10bux: for screen and print PDFs it's a steal. But buy it anyway.
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/272781/Goblinville--Rules-of-Play

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Hostile V posted:

Ha ha, who do you think are the absolute best in the setting at doing psychosurgery.

A: a trained medical professional.
B: one spicy someone who only existed for three years realtime but has lived 18 mental years inside of the world's most evil VR experiment where their minds were conditioned through psychotherapy and they've learned since grade school how to hack their own reality to piss off their parents.

Man, Eclipse Phase might be good if there was any indication that the authors Got It, which they apparently don't.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Zine Quest continues !

Goblinville #1 is done, and I have many more cool games from Kickstarter's Zine Quest to talk about.What should I review next ?

More GV stuff ?

Goblinville #2 is monsters, adventures, and GM advice for Goblinville.

Picaresque is half of Goblinville #3. Yes, they also did two other short RPGs as part of the project. "You play well-acquainted lesser nobility of minor name and pitiful means." Social drama for petty nobility with aspirations above their station.

Mutagen Trail. The other half of GV#3. This is the GV system hacked to play a trading caravan making its way through the post apocalyptic wasteland.

Other RPGs !

Obachan Panic. "An RPG about neurotic aunties who save the worldand look good doing it" You play grandmas and aunties saving the world in time for tea. There's a lot of heart in this PbtA-adjacent RPG, enough for a 3 session mini-campaign.

Mall Kids. A GM-less game about a day at your lovely retail jobs in the mall.

Four Ways to Die in the Future. Four light improv games. Well, three you can actually play. Everyone except the 584 backers missed out on some very deep concepts.

Girl Underground
. A PbtA game for telling stories like Oz or Through the Looking Glass.

Exodus
. Erika Shepherd's "...RPG zine of angels on the run in a fascist dystopia." As a cis person I will focus on the mechanics, not being qualified to address the metaphors for trans life.

Beat the Boss. A PbtA game built as a training aid for labor organizers.

Comrades. A PbtA game about the revolutionary underground.

Deniable Assets
. Play an 80's cyberpunk-y corporate villain.

KirbyKhan
Mar 20, 2009

I post posts about posts

Soiled Meat

mllaneza posted:

Zine Quest continues !


Beat the Boss. A PbtA game built as a training aid for labor organizers.


Holy poo poo I need to know more.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


As a fan of the inspirations, Girl Underground has my attention

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I vote Obachan panic.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


As someone in a lovely job, my vote's for Mall Kids.

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Deities & Demigods 1E
Part 9: It's Like The Office, But With Gods



I get what the artist was going for with the faux-brush-strokes technique for the title, but I don't think it really works.

We start out with a paragraph that commits the same absurdity as the "Mexican and Central American Mythology" section in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes":

Chinese Mythos posted:

The title of this section is somewhat misleading, as the mythology of the Chinese is so vast and varied that it is impossible to cover it adequately and remain within our size restrictions. We have chosen the deities we feel most appropriate for inclusion.

Okay, but again, isn't this true of all the real-world mythologies they included? They certainly didn't include every god from Celtic mythology, or Babylonian, or Central American. Didn't they just choose the deities they feel most appropriate from them as well? At least it's a little better here in that they didn't technically imply that their treatments of other mythologies are complete, only that they're "adequate", but still... are their treatments of other mythologies in other chapters really more "adequate" than their treatment of Chinese mythology here?

Well, whatever.

Chinese Mythos posted:

The Chinese image of the Heavens is that of a great bureaucracy. Many of the deities exist to perform a special task and watch over a special area of life. Each god is supervised by a more important deity, who is responsible for seeing that things are done correctly. Every being is accountable to the Emperor of the Heavens. Every year the gods send reports to their supervisors, and it is not uncommon to be promoted or demoted for work done during the year.

Okay, all this talk of reports and promotions and demotions is making me think less of a vast quasigovernmental bureaucracy and more just a typical, somewhat inefficiently run business. I mean, I guess there are similarities between the two, and one could easily argue that most businesses are bureaucracies (and conversely that demotions, promotions, and reports do happen in governmental bureaucracies as well), but that's what it makes me think of, and I'm not sure that's the kind of bureaucracy the writers have in mind. I'm picturing the other gods sitting around a big conference table while Yen-Wang-Yeh shows them a PowerPoint presentation, except he can't get the remote he's using to work right and keeps bringing up the wrong slides, and he's getting increasingly nervous as Shang-Ti is shaking his head and Lu Yueh just keeps scarfing down donuts...

Anyway, we're told that the emperor is both the head of state and the head of the church "(thus gifted with high priest powers by the gods)", that clerics "travel about the countryside preaching to rich and poor alike", and that worshipers atone for their misdeeds by sacrificing valuable items.

Chinese Mythos posted:

If the deed was severe enough (judge's option as to this in AD&D terms) the atonement might even be death.

The reason for this is explained in the sixth slide in Yen-Wang-Yeh's PowerPoint presentation, which he'll be glad to show you in just a moment; heno, wait, that's a photo from his vacation last summer; that's not supposed to be here...

This is another mythos that did appear in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", but there it was called the "Eastern Mythos", because Eastern = Chinese, apparently. All of the same gods appeared there as here, all but two or three with the same names (plus or minus a hyphen); I'll only comment on their presentation there if there's an interesting difference. There are also a few beings, though, that appeared in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" but not in Deities & Demigods, and I'll cover those at the end of this post.

I will, though, again, quote the introductory paragraph of the section in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes":

Eastern Mythos posted:

The mythology of the Far East is varied and colorful. In dealing with it, the concepts of Yin and Yang must be defined. These are the Chinese equivalents of bad and good. These opposites are almost beings in themselves and move all Gods and creatures in a war for supremacy. In using eastern Gods one should always think of them as not lawful or chaotic, but having good Yang or bad Yin.

Defining "Yang" as "good" and "Yin" as "bad" is of course a severe oversimplification, but I think this is kind of interesting in suggesting a different alignment axis than the typical law-chaos of OD&D and Basic. (And, apparently, different from the later good and evil added to AD&D, since it seems to make a point of saying "bad" rather than "evil".) I mean, of course "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" doesn't actually do anything whatsoever with this, but it's at least potentially interesting in theory.

(Well, almost nothing; the description of one god, Huan-Ti, does mention that "[w]hen hard pressed, he draws a plus 3 sword with the purpose of slaying all things Yin.")

Oh, we also get this note at the very beginning of the section:

Eastern Mythos posted:

Note: Unless otherwise specified, treat as Psionic Ability: Class 6

This note is entirely unnecessary, since the psionic ability of every god is, in fact, explicitly specified. (And yes, most of them are Class 6, which means they have no psionic abilities, but they're "invulnerable to any kind of psionic attack.")

As we'll see, while many of the gods in this section go back thousands of years, there are some of them that are still worshipped today, so... this is another of those chapters that comes across as kind of tone deaf at best (and horribly offensive at worst). Well, at least the book doesn't include any stats for famous Chinese historical figures like Confucius or Lao Tzu. No, they saved that for second edition.

It might also be worth mentioning that of course there are multiple ways to transliterate Chinese names; Deities & Demigods usually uses the Wade-Giles romanization scheme, which nowadays has fallen out of favor and been mostly supplanted by pinyin. Originally, I'd written here that at the time Deities & Demigods was written Wade-Giles was still the system in the most widespread use, so the authors couldn't really be faulted for using it, but Xiahou Dun set me straight on that; the Wade-Giles system was already in disuse by the early sixties, and certainly wasn't still the standard in 1980 when Deities & Demigods was published. I've edited this paragraph to make that correction (and edited the rest of this post as well to fix the fact that I'd been capitalizing "pinyin", which I apparently shouldn't have been). As for why Deities & Demigods did use the Wade-Giles system, then, perhaps the real reason is that, as we'll see, the authors seem to have been using as their primary source a book published in 1922...

Not only were Kuntz and Ward using an obsolete romanization system, but they weren't even using it right; they left out apostrophes and umlauts that have important significance in distinguishing between phonemes. Anyway, though, for consistency with the Deities & Demigods convention, I'll use Wade-Giles romanization for the gods and other entities in this post, though I'll also include parenthetically the pinyin transcription and (when I can find it out) the actual Chinese spelling. (I did stick to the now-standard pinyin system for the names of Chinese dynasties and places. Also, I should note that I can't actually speak or read Mandarin or any other Chinese language, and it's very possible I've made some mistakes here in the transcriptions.)

Before we get to the gods, we get brief descriptions of a baker's half-dozen magic items:

  • The CANON OF CHANGES, a magical "book of the gods" that maybe is based on the I Ching, though I'm guessing that only based on the name (the I Ching is also called the "Book of Changes"), and not on the description, which doesn't have anything obvious to do with the I Ching at all. The Canon of Changes "deals with redistribution of matter and motion" and "allows the reader to create any nonmagical object instantly when the command words are spoken"but it takes 72 hours to learn the command words for each object, and "[o]nly immortals have the constitutional stamina to read the passages for the length of time required", so I guess it's useless for PCs.
  • The DANCING SWORD OF LIGHTNING, which does exactly what you'd expect from the name except that it only works for gods and demigods and "performs as a normal sword when held by mortals". (Again with the items only useable by gods... kind of limits their uses in a campaign.)
  • FIRE GEMS, which shoot flame and have 2-12 charges. Also, there's nothing this time that says that only gods can use them, so hey, that's a plus.
  • The GIANT BLACK PEARL, which is three feet in diameter (I guess? It just calls it a "3 foot sphere", so I'm assuming that's diameter, not radius) and automatically "negates all wind and earth turbulence in a one mile radius".
  • The IRON WAND, which can make invisible things visible, or vice versa; acts as "a staff of striking with unlimited charges"; and will on command grow to a hundred feet long and "become roughened for easy climbing"
  • The JADE SCEPTER OF DEFENDING, which allows no one to strike its master with any material weapons as long as its master concentrates on it (during which time "no other action may even be contemplated.")
  • WIND FIRE WHEELS, which "are used in large battles where the gods fear that they might be defeated." (By whom, exactly? Who is out there threatening the gods in large battles?) Only 25 of these exist, and they're distributed among "the demi-deities and their servants" by the head of the gods, Shang-Ti. They are "1 foot circular fans" that require a command word to activate and "shoot fire and/or wind like a staff of the magi", but they also draw a hit point from the user for every 5 charges expended. The text doesn't say how many charges they have, but I guess we can infer it's the same number of charges as the staff of the magi? Also, what happens if the charges run out? When a staff runs out of charges in 1E, it "become[s] forever useless", crumbling to powder as its last charge is expended." Does that happen to the wind fire wheels as well? And if so, does Shang-Ti make more of them to replace the ones that are used up? Or are they a non-renewable resource and once they're gone, they're gone? None of that is addressed here.


Only the sword gets an illustration, because, hey, everyone knows what a wind fire wheel looks like, right?

Anyway, now for the gods. Once again, I'll try to discuss the real mythology behind the god as far as I can find it, but, once again, I'm by no means an expert in Chinese mythology, and I may make some mistakes. (Actually, you can just assume this disclaimer applies to every chapter.) Anyway, we'll start with the god whose name has already been mentioned:

SHANG-TI (supreme god of the heavens, god of the sky and agriculture)


Only the head of the Celestial Bureaucracy gets the privilege of screentone.

Shang-Ti posted:

Shang-Ti is the head of the Celestial Bureaucracy, and all the other deities ultimately report to him. His word is law among all of the gods and goddesses, regardless of their alignment, and he is the final arbitrator in any dispute among them.

So why is his word law to the chaotic and evil gods, exactly? Does he enforce it by strength of arms? Or is the idea that honor and tradition are so important to this pantheon that even the chaotic evil gods wouldn't think about going against their leader? Or did the authors just not think it through?

Shang-Ti posted:

Shang-Ti can sometimes be found travelling among mortals. On these occasions he appears to be an aged man with a long white beard, dressed in tattered robes.

No word on how he appears when he's not travelling among mortals. (Okay, we do also get a sentence about how he "also likes to float in the air ethereally, viewing cities and towns and the manner in which he is or isn't being worshiped", but still, what is his true form? How does he appear when he's just hanging out in his realm in Nirvana? (Yes, I know the name "Nirvana" comes from Indian tradition, not Chinese, but that's the lawful neutral Outer Plane in first-edition D&D, and that's where Shang-Ti lives.) I mean, sure, he's a god, and so one could try to argue that he doesn't have a true form and is inherently just an intangible presence, except that that's certainly not how things seem to have worked for any gods so far.

There are a few more paragraphs in Shang-Ti's description that I skipped, but, well, they're mostly about his combat abilities. I think from here on out I'm going to stop even mentioning that there are parts I skip about the gods' combat abilities. Just take it for granted that the descriptions of most if not all of the gods do include useless information about their combat abilities, but I'm not going to comment on it unless I think there's something particularly noteworthy about it.

Anyway, Shang-Ti (上帝; Shngd in pinyin) was in fact the supreme god of the people of the Shang dynasty (roughly 1600 B.C. to 1046 B.C.), though he was considered a remote god who wasn't actively worshipped. The word is still sometimes used in China to refer to other concepts of a supreme being, including the god of Christianity.

CHAO KUNG MING (demigod of war)


"Let's go, Battle Cat!"

Chao Kung Ming "appears as a very muscular man with bright red skin", lives in the Elemental Plane of Air for some reason, and "is able to travel from plane to plane with however many beings he wishes." Really? However many? There's no limit? So if he wanted to transport the entire population of the Material Plane to the Abyss, he could just... do that? I mean, he's neutral good, so he probably wouldn't want to do that, but still...

Chao Kung Ming posted:

He rides a giant flying tiger into battle

We get a brief stat line for the giant flying tiger. Alas, based on that illustration it certainly isn't a giant realistic flying tiger.


"Good morning!"

Chao Kung-Ming (趙公明; Zho Gōngmng in pinyin) was a hermit with magical abilities that he used to support the Shang dynasty. (He may or may not have been based on a real historical person, but if so, needless to say, the historical Chao Kung-Ming presumably did not have magic powers.) He was identified with Tsai Shen (財神; Cishn in pinyin), god of wealth. Exactly what induced Kuntz and Ward to make him a god of war, I have no idea. (Especially when there's another god of war anyway... I guess this is a case of bureaucratic redundancy.) I thought maybe they'd confused him with a different god, but Caishen was said to ride a tiger (albeit a black tiger that was not necessarily giant or flying), so... I don't know. (Unlike Deities & Demigods, "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" does mention that the tiger is black, but not that it's giant.)

CHIH-CHIANG FYU-YA (god of archers, punisher of the gods)


That's a really weird way to hold arrows.

quote:

This god has fiery red skin resembling scales, a black demonic head with tusks, elephant ears, a large set of leathery wings with a span of 40 feet, a humanoid body, and cloven hooves.

According to the description, he's eight feet tall. A forty-foot wingspan would therefore be five times his height. That seems... a bit excessive. I guess it's not completely out of the questionthe wingspan to body length ratio of the greater flying fox is not too much less than thatbut it doesn't look that big in the illustration. Then again, I also don't see anything in the illustration that I'd call tusks...

quote:

It is the duty of Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya to avenge offenses against the gods, particularly desecration of temples.

This guy was a hard one to track down the basis for, and I almost gave up and was going to just conclude that Kuntz and Ward must have just made him up. I wouldn't be the first person to reach that conclusiona poster on the Giant in the Playground forum said this god "appear[ed] to be a complete fabrication". Not helping matters is the fact that "Fyu" isn't even a valid syllable in the Wade-Giles system of Chinese romanization... or any other major Chinese romanization system, as far as I know.

Deities & Demigods has a (brief) biblography (which we'll get to in the last post), and it includes one book specifically on Chinese mythology and one on "Asiatic Mythology"; both books, as it happens, are now freely available online at archive.org, so I thought I'd check them out and see if I could find any god in either of those books who bore any resemblance to Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya. I couldn't. Of course, Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya had also appeared in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", and he may have gotten into Deities & Demigods just because he was in there, and "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" didn't have a bibliography, so who knows what the authors' sources were for it? In fact, as previously mentioned, all the gods in Deities & Demigods appeared in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", so it seems likely that it was "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" that was the real source for this chapter, and the reason those two books are listed in the bibliography was less "Here are the sources we used to research this chapter" and more "Here are two books we found after this chapter was written that you can maybe read for further inspiration, though we didn't read them ourselves."

Nevertheless, it turns out Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya wasn't a complete fabrication after all... he's just been butchered a bit. Well, a lot. There was a mythological figure, Chih Chiang Tzŭ Y (Chi Jiang Ziyu in pinyin; I haven't been able to find a source for how his name would be written in Chinese characters (or for that matter for the tones to include in the pinyin transcription), and I've spent way too much time on this as it is), who was a companion of the Yellow Emperor (we'll get to him), and who eventually became Hou I (后羿, Hu Y in pinyin), god of archers. Yeah, "Tzu Yu" and "Fyu Ya" are pretty different, but not so different that, say, if the authors had taken hand-written notes on their reading and then misread them later, they couldn't have made that mistake. Why didn't Kuntz and Ward just use the name "Hou I", which is much better known and more widely attested? Maybe they just liked the other name better, even if they didn't get it quite right.

Mind you, this still doesn't explain why he has a demon face or is especially concerned with avenging desecration of temples, neither of which seems to have been an attribute of Hou I, but as I think has been pretty definitively established by now the treatment of the gods in Deities & Demigods often bears only a tenuous relationship to actual mythology.

Hou I was the husband of the moon goddess Chang O (嫦娥; Chng' in pinyin), who does not appear in this book.

CHIH SUNG-TZU (lord of rain)

Chih Sung-Tzu "appears as a very muscular man [who] always wears a blue war helm", and that's about all the description we get of him that isn't about his combat abilities. Well, okay, he also likes to ride a big storm cloud; I guess that's not a combat ability. I'm not sure why he rides the storm cloud, though, since he can fly on his own at twice the speed the storm cloud travels. Maybe it's just less tiring. Or maybe it's just so he can bring other passengers along with him. Like Chao Kung Ming, he lives on the Elemental Plane of Air, and at least in his case it makes a little more sense, since rain has more to do with air than war does. (Of course, rain is made of water, but it's not rain if it doesn't have air to fall through, I guess. Maybe it could have made sense to place him in between the planes of Air and Water, except that what's there is the Paraelemental Plane of Ice, so... never mind.)

This is one of the two or three gods that had their names changed between "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" and Deities & Demigodsin "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" he was called "Yu Shih". Mythologically, Chih Sung-Tzu (赤松子, Chsōngzǐ in pinyin), which means "Master Red Pine", is a mythological figure identified with Y Shih (雨師; Yǔ Shī in pinyin), god of rain, so those are more or less two names for the same god. I'm not sure why they decided to change the name in Deities & Demigods, especially since "Y Shih" seems to be the name this god is better known by. Y Shih is still worshipped today in parts of southwestern China, which makes his inclusion here a little inappropriate at best, but that's clearly not the reason for the name change... just wait till we get to the Indian mythos.

"Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" says that Yu Shih "looks like a man wearing plus 3 armor which seems to be rusting off his body", which is odd, because I never really assumed in D&D that +3 armor looked any different from +2 armor, or even from nicely made nonmagical armor. I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to tell the power of magical armor just by looking at it.

CHUNG KUEL (god of truth and testing)

Chung Kuel posted:

This god is always dressed in costly robes, and his primary ability is to draw from a well of knowledge so that he can meet any test with success, if given time to visit his well. In any physical contest, if his normal powers will not let him immediately win (and he will know if this is possible), he will always run and secure the materials that will allow him to win, and he will do nothing else until he does win.

"Wait, let's put this thumb-wrestling contest on hold for just a moment while I go get a monkey wrench."

Chung Kuel posted:

This god occasionally travels around the Prime Material Plane dressed as an old pot-bellied man with a long grey beard. He asks beings riddles, and if they answer correctly, he may grant them a reward, perhaps even a limited wish. The more difficult the riddle, the greater the reward.

"So here's my riddle: What materials should I use to win a thumb-wrestling contest? I'll give you a hint: the answer isn't a monkey wrench. Not sure what I was thinking with that one."

Like "Fyu", "Kuel" is not an permissible Chinese syllable, in either the Wade-Giles or the pinyin romanization systems. (The only consonants or consonant digraphs that can end a Chinese syllable are n, ng, h (Wade-Giles only), or r (pinyin)/rh (Wade-Giles).) Nevertheless, in this case it's easily explicable as a typo or misreading, similar to that that apparently turned Qagwaai into Qagwaaz in the "American Indian Mythos", or, for that matter, Chih-Chiang Tzu-Yu into Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya on this very page. The actual name for this god is supposed to be Chung Kuei, with an I... or actually, it's supposed to be Chung Kuei, with an apostrophe (鍾馗; Zhōng Ku in pinyin); like I said before, Kuntz and Ward leave out the apostrophes, but in the Wade-Giles transliteration those apostrophes are actually important. The typo, incidentally, goes all the way back to "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", where he appeared with the same name, providing more evidence that the authors just copied the gods in this chapter from there without doing additional research or double-checking their sources (whatever they were).

Anyway, Chung Kuei was best known for his ability to capture or drive off ghosts and demons, and even today images of Chung Kuei are often placed in homes and businesses to keep away evil spirits. How he turned in Deities & Demigods into a god of "truth and testing" I don't know, but by this point I guess that's pretty much par for the course.

FEI LIEN & FENG PO "Counts of the Wind"

Fei Lien & Feng Po posted:

These beings figure prominently in all major battles of the gods, and are often used as go-betweens for gods and men.

Again, what battles of the gods? We were told in Shang-Ti's entry that all the gods obey him regardless of alignment, and he settles disputes among them. So why are there battles?

Fei Lien & Feng Po posted:

They appear to be demonic creatures in that their skin is jet black, their eyes blaze fire and they are tusked.

They appear to be demonic creatures, but in fact they're neutral good. Actually, while it's sandwiched between the two evilest pantheons in the book, the Chinese Mythos is pretty benevolent overall. It includes six good gods, five neutral gods, and five evil gods, so while the good gods don't have a majority, they at least have a plurality. Also, this is the first pantheon that actually has gods of all nine alignments. So that's nice.

Anyway, Fei Lien (飛廉; Fēilin in pinyin) and Fng Po (風伯; Fēngb in pinyin) seem to have originally been two different wind gods from different parts of China, but later on they were identified with each other. Fng Po seems to have been the better known; conceptions of him changed over time. During the Han Dynasty era, he had the form of some kind of beast or bird; during the Tang Dynasty he was a fierce gladiator; during the Yuan Dynasty he was a ghost with red hair, the hips of a panther, and the head of a dog; during the Qing Dynasty he was an old, bearded man. Fei Lien originated as a wind god of the people of Chu in southern China, and according to some sources had a monstrous form with the head of a peacock or sparrow, the tail of a snake, the body of a stag, the spots of a leopard, and the horns of a bull... other sources say he had the head of a deer, but I guess there were probably variations in his description regionally or over time, or both. Please note that none of these descriptions matches the description of Fei Lien and Fng Po in Deities & Demigods... though there seem to have been enough different conceptions of these gods that it wouldn't be surprising that one of them was described as a tusked, black-skinned creature with fiery eyes somewhere.

As far as I can tell, Fng Po is the only one who was actually called the "Count of the Wind"... at least early on; I guess later you could say that title applied to both of them, but only because they were considered to be the same entity. Fng Po was mythologically closely associated with the rain god Yu Shi, and the two of them frequently worked together... which of course is not mentioned at all in Deities & Demigods.

HUAN-TI (god of war)


He goes to the same hairstylist as the githyanki from the first-edition Fiend Folio.

Huan-Ti "appears as a heavily muscled man in red +3 plate mail" (which, again, it seems to me would look pretty much the same as a heavily muscled man in red nonmagical plate mail). His clerics "must always wear red armor or clothes." He flies around in a chariot pulled by four pegasi.

Huan-Ti posted:

He watches every battle in which his worshipers take part, and when any mortal dedicates the last ten slain enemies to him he may (on a 1% chance) destroy utterly the very next enemy that being faces. Slain enemies dedicated to Huan-Ti must have their heads taken off and burned, or the sacrifices will not be received.

Taking time to decapitate ten bodies and burn their heads in the middle of a battle for a 1% chance of divine intervention to destroy a single enemy doesn't necessarily seem like a wise use of time. I guess maybe if the enemy forces include one especially powerful foe you have no chance of defeating on your own but also a lot of much weaker foes that you can easily kill and sacrificeand if you're certain that you can arrange for that one especially powerful foe to be the very next enemy you face after the sacrificesthen it might be worth the gamble, but that strikes me as a very specific and unlikely circumstance.

"Huan-Ti" seems to be another typo; there is a Chinese god of war named Kuan Ti (關帝; pinyin Guānd), and I think that's who this is based on. Kuan Ti is in turn identified with a real historical person, Kuan Y (關羽; pinyin Guānyǔ), a close companion of the famous warlord Liu Pei (劉備; Li Bi in pinyin) during the Three Kingdoms period, who was deified after his death. (Both Kuan Y and Liu Pei are major characters in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义; Sāngu Yǎny in pinyin; San Kuo Yan I in Wade-Giles), a famous fourteenth-century Chinese historical novel about the events of this period that has been the basis for countless films, video games, and other adaptations.) While Kuan Ti is usually depicted with a red face, he wears a green robe, so the bit in Deities & Demigods about the red clothes is a bit confused. (That's new to Deities & Demigods, though; there's nothing in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" about the clothes worn by Huan-Ti or his clerics being any particular color.) He is also a god of literature, which is not reflected in his Deities & Demigods description in the slightest.

It's possible that the change from Kuan Ti to Huan-Ti may have something to do with confusion with a different Chinese mythological figure, the Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti (黃帝; Hungd in pinyin), a legendary ancestor of the Chinese people who supposedly lived during the third millennium B.C. However, the Yellow Emperor had no particular association with war (and as one might guess from his name, red wasn't the color he was most associated with either), so it seems to me more likely that Kuan Ti was the basis for Deities & Demigods's Huan-Ti, and that the Yellow Emperor, despite being an extremely important Chinese mythological figure, didn't make it into Deities & Demigods.

Kuan Ti is still worshipped in China today, and is, among other things, a patron of police officers, and is revered in both Buddhism and Taoism. Which, again, makes his inclusion in a book of gods for a fantasy game kind of... fraught.


A nearly-two-hundred-foot-tall statue of Kuan Ti that stands in the city of Jingzhou.

Pegasi, incidentally, obviously aren't Chinese in origin, but there were winged horses in Chinese mythology, called tien ma (天馬; tiānmǎ in pinyin), although I don't know of any specific connection they had to Kuan Ti.

KUAN YIN (goddess of mercy and child bearing)


"Scissors beats paper. I win again."

Kuan Yin posted:

Her main following is with the common folk and all may work in her cause and expect to be rewarded someday. Her clerics are the peacemakers of the world and work diligently for the end of violence.

Actually, while it's not necessarily directly related to mercy or child bearing, ending violence seems to be her main schtick. Once per round, she can stop any act of violence directed at anyone, and no being in the universe can ever direct any violence against her. "For example, she could walk safely through 500 different types of demons and devils and never be harmed." (Presumably that means walking through a crowd of demons and devils, not walking through the demons and devils themselves. Walking through a creature seems like it would be kind of a violent act in and of itself.)

Kuan Yin posted:

When a being accomplishes a good act affecting 50 or more worshipers of Kuan Yin, and if the goddess is near, that being may be granted a wish (5% chance).

I'd think someone benefiting 50 or more of her worshippers while the goddess herself is nearby would be a rare enough occurrence that we could handle having more than a 5% chance of her rewarding them. At least it's better than the 1% chance of Huan-Ti rewarding an elaborate sacrifice during a battle. The authors really like giving tiny chances of gods reacting to things.

Kuan Yin (觀音; Guān Yīn in pinyin) is the Chinese name for a Buddist bodhisattva known in Sanskrit as Avalokiteśvara (अवलोकितेश्वर). She is associated with compassion and is a patron of mothers, so I guess the Deities & Demigods depiction of her isn't too bad, aside of course from the issue that it's giving game statistics for a figure still widely venerated today by hundreds of millions of people.

LEI KUNG (duke of thunder)


Three-year winner, Best in Show, Beijing Eyebrow Festival.

Lei Kung posted:

Lei Kung appears as a man with smoking black skin and eyes with pupils like lightning bolts. He has 2 large tusks and a huge nose. He has red spotted wings with a span af 40 feet.

Huh, another forty-foot wingspan. Okay, I cut Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya some slack on this, but he was eight feet tall; Lei Kung is only six feet tall, so that's a wingspan-to-height ratio of more than six to one. Yeah, I think that's a bit much. (And his wings clearly aren't anywhere close to that big in the illustration.)

Lei Kung posted:

Lei Kung exists to make foul weather of one type or another at the request of the other gods of the pantheon. These gods will request such when they feel that their worshipers need a lesson. Lei Kung particularly delights in creating wind storms that destroy fragile things of beauty or value."

So I guess sometimes the Chinese gods outsource their bad omens. Okay.

"Yeah, Lei Kung, I'm not really happy with the way this cleric's been doing things lately. You mind drizzling on his temple a bit?"

Lei Kung (雷公; Ligōng in pinyin) is indeed a god of thunder in Chinese tradition, though in mythology he wears only a loincloth instead of the +3 plate mail that Deities & Demigods gives him. Also, he's blue or green, not black, and at least according to some accounts he has a bird's beak, not an oversized but otherwise human nose. Well, at least he does have wings and tusks. This, by the way, is another god who still plays a role today in Chinese folk religion and, to a lesser degree, in Taoism, so, uh, maybe he doesn't really belong in a book of gods for a fantasy role-playing game?

LU YUEH (god of epidemics)


The middle head looks like he kind of resents the head on his left.

quote:

This god has 3 demon-like heads, 6 arms ending in claws, and green scaled skin. He has a look of death about him and an odor of putrescence.

Apparently there are two diseases in particular that he likes to cause: the Red Fever, which "will subtract 3 hit points... every melee round", and a rotting sickness, which "will kill his enemies who fail to make their saving throw versus poison in two melee rounds." And yes, "Red Fever" is consistently capitalized, and "rotting sickness" consistently italicized, and I don't know why. Also, anyone who hits him at close enough range "will suffer the rotting sickness (no saving throw applicable)"... so does that mean they don't get a saving throw against contracting it, but still get to save against dying in two rounds, or are they just going to unavoidably die in two rounds no matter what?

Lu Yueh posted:

Lu Yueh bestows gifts on those he deems evil enough. This is decided whenever an evil act affects more than 500 people. If the god is watching (on a 1% chance) there is a 5% chance he will give the evil being a disease-causing present with no strings attached.

So whenever anyone does an evil act that affects 500 people, there's an 0.05% chance that Lu Yueh will reward them with a disease-causing present. Okay. So first-edition DMs, if you didn't roll d10000 every time someone did such an evil act and have Lu Yueh reward them if you rolled 5 or under, you were doing it wrong.

Lu Yueh got by far the longest entry in the "Eastern Mythos" section of "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", his description taking up more than a page. (By contrast, most gods got only a small stat block and a brief paragraph, and it wasn't uncommon for five gods to fit on a page; the entire "Eastern Mythos" section was only seven pages long, and that's including more than two pages devoted to magic items and monsters.) Much of that, however, was because we got information about "5 servants that fight with him in any battle", each of which had a full entry of his or her own (or what passes for a "full entry" in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes"); if you don't count those as part of Lu Yueh's entry, then he only had the second-longest entry, being narrowly beat by Tou Mu. (We'll get to her.)

Lu Yueh's five servants are called BEING CALLED "CENTER", BEING CALLED "SPRING", BEING CALLED "SUMMER", BEING CALLED "AUTUMN", and BEING CALLED "WINTER". The first three have identical stat blocks (but not descriptions), but Autumn has twice the hit points, and Winter has three times the hit points of the first three and also a better Armor Class and movement rate. They all appear as clouds of gas in different colors (yellow for Center, green for Spring, red for Summer, white for Autumn, and grey for Winter), and they're all referred to with feminine pronouns except Autumn, who's apparently masculine, though that could be a typo (or an error in the PDF conversion).

They also like to roam in different directions, and you'd expect the four seasons to correspond to the four cardinal compass directions and Center to correspond to, well, the center, but no. Center "likes to roam the West", Spring "likes to roam the East", Summer "roams over the South", and we're not told where Autumn and Winter roam, so I don't know if one of them wanders to the north and the fifth one just lazes on a couch, or if maybe nobody likes wandering in the north because, I don't know, it gets too chilly. Each of Lu Yueh's five servants has a different weird magic item, except Winter, who I guess doesn't need one.

These five servants are kind of strange, but the oddest thing about them, frankly, is the way they're listed. Why not just write "CENTER" instead of "BEING CALLED 'CENTER'"? I mean, isn't Lu Yueh really a "being called 'Lu Yueh'"? But anyway, for some reason that's the way they're listed here in BOOK CALLED "GODS, DEMI-GODS & HEROES".

Another thing that lengthens Lu Yueh's description in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" is that it not only includes the bit about his giving gifts to people who do evil deeds (in fact, it has him much more likely to do so; only fifty people need to be affected, and it's given a flat 5% chance without having to check against a 1% chance that he's watching), but it also lists exactly what those gifts are. There are five different gifts listed, and the DM (or "judge") is advised to roll d6 to determine which one he gives; "if a 6 is rolled the person gets his choice."

Anyway, Lu Yeh (吕岳; Lǚ Yu in pinyin) was a somewhat obscure god of plague who appeared in the famous sixteenth-century mythical-historical novel Investiture of the Gods (封神演义; Fēngshn Yǎny in pinyin; Feng Shen Yan I in Wade-Giles). He appeared in several different forms, but yes, in one of his forms he did have three heads and six arms. Chinese myth also included a "Ministry of Epidemics" which according to some accounts included one member associated with each of the four seasons and one with the centerso that's where Lu Yueh's servants in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" come from. They actually did have their own names, so "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" really could have avoided that whole "Being Called 'X'" business, but maybe those names weren't in whatever source Kuntz and Ward used. (For what it's worth, their names were respectively Shih Wen Yeh (史文業; Shǐ Wny in pinyin), Chang Yan Po (張元伯; Zhāng Yunb in pinyin), Liu Yan Ta (劉元達; Li Yund in pinyin), Chao Kung Ming (yes, the same Chao Kung Ming we already covered... okay, maybe there is a reason they didn't use these names, though I still think it's more likely they just didn't know about them), and Chung Shih Kuei (鍾仕貴; Zhōng Shgu in pinyin).

MA YUAN (killer of the gods)


♪ I love you, you love me, we're a happy family... ♪

Ma Yuan isn't presented as a god, but as a unique monster, with a standard monster stat block. (Including a "% IN LAIR", which in his case is 10%. No word on what his lair is like.) He's a seventy-foot tall creature with "the strength of a storm giant" who "is said to have killed at least 10 minor deities."

Ma Yuan posted:

This monster has 3 eyes in his tyrannosaurus-shaped head, and has 4 large humanoid arms.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that nowhere in the original Chinese myths was there any reference to his head being "tyrannosaurus-shaped".

Ma Yuan posted:

The existence of Ma Yuan prevents complacency among the gods.

I'm not sure that seems like an effective management strategy. It's not a practice I foresee many businesses adopting any time soon.

"I think we've had a problem with complacency here at DystopiCo. So, to make sure all employees stay on their toes, we've hired this assassin to randomly hunt you."

Ma Yuan posted:

He also has a powerful magical device shaped in the form of a small triangular piece of stone that has the power to turn into any weapon the holder wishes, magical or otherwise.

And according to the illustration, it also makes a snazzy necklace...

In case you're wondering why I kept saying that "two or three" gods had their names changed between "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" instead of just specifying one number, Ma Yuan is why. His name in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" was given as "Ma Yuan Shuai". So it did sort of change, but only by shortening it; I wasn't sure that should completely count, so I hedged my bets by saying "two or three".

Ma Yuan is another god who was supposed in a post in that Giant in the Playground thread to be "invented [out of] whole cloth". And, as with Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya, that turns out not to be true; Kuntz and Ward may have mangled some of the gods in this chapter pretty badly, but there are none that they completely inventedand Ma Yan-Shuai (馬元帥; Mǎ Yun Shui in pinyin) is no exception. I quote from Myths and Legends of China, by E. M. Werner, a book that was published in 1922 and therefore could easily have been Kuntz and Ward's source (the elusive Chih Chiang Tzŭ Y, incidentally, also appears in this book):

quote:

Ma Yan-shuai is a three-eyed monster condemned by Ju Lai to reincarnation for excessive cruelty in the extermination of evil spirits. In order to obey this command he entered the womb of Ma Chin-mu in the form of five globes of fire. Being a precocious youth, he could fight when only three days old, and killed the Dragon-king of the Eastern Sea. From his instructor he received a spiritual work dealing with wind, thunder, snakes, etc., and a triangular piece of stone which he could at will change into anything he liked. By order of Y Ti he subdued the Spirits of the Wind and Fire, the Blue Dragon, the King of the Five Dragons, and the Spirit of the Five Hundred Fire Ducks, all without injury to himself. For these and many other enterprises he was rewarded by Y Ti with various magic articles and with the title of Generalissimo of the West, and is regarded as so successful an interceder with Y Ti that he is prayed to for all sorts of benefits.

Too bad neither "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" nor Deities & Demigods included statistics for the Five Hundred Fire Ducks...

And yeah, you'll note there's no mention of a "tyrannosaurus-shaped head".

NO CHA (demigod of thieves)


Three heads and not a decent haircut among them.

No Cha posted:

The god appears as a three-headed, eight-armed man, with silvery scaled skin, eyes that blaze like fire, and the ability to grow or shrink in size.

But according to his stat block he's sixty feet tall by default.

No Cha posted:

No Cha is the patron of thieves, and there are many tales of his famous thieving exploits.

No Cha (哪吒; Nzhā in pinyin) did, according to the myths, start out as a monstrous creature with three heads and eight arms. But he didn't stay that way. He has a... rather complicated story involving his being reborn inside a ball of flesh, committing suicide and then asking his mother in a dream to build a temple to him, and being brought back to life in a body made of lotuses and water lilies. Oh... the wind fire wheels were one of his weapons, so that's where those came from, I guess. But anyway, while he had his moments of mischief and anger and attempted patricide, he ended up as a protective deity and a patron of adolescents, so how exactly he became a neutral evil god of thieves in Deities & Demigods I have no idea.

Incidentally, just a couple of weeks ago an animated movie about No Cha/Nezha was released in China and broke the record for the highest-grossing Chinese animated film. Not that that has anything to do with Deities & Demigods, but I figured it merited mention.


I have no idea what is going on in this picture, but I'm pretty sure that's Nezha.

Anyway, there are still a couple pages to go in this chapter,, but I guess I'll have to put the rest in a separate post because apparently this post exceeds the maximum message length, which I didn't know was a thing until just now. So, uh...

Next time: The Classic Conflict of Law vs. Evil

Jerik fucked around with this message at 07:20 on Aug 13, 2019

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

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




My first ever bestiary was the Monster Manual for 3.5, so I have a soft spot for that one, but I think the 3.5 Fiend Folio is a good one too. The 3.5 and pathfinder bestiaries are nice overall for the amount of lore they include about the monsters. 4th and 5th edition have very stripped down and disappointing bestiaries by comparison. 5e doesn't even have art for half the monsters.

IDK if these count, but Lords of Madness and Libris Mortis for 3.5 are two of my top monster-focused books, though they aren't traditional bestiaries.

13th Age bestiary is a very strong contender for top spot, because it includes so much detail and care with every monster in there, along with tons of variants and possible origins and tie-ins to the icons. The powers the monsters have in there are very cool and interesting compared to the spell-like abilities and basic attacks that 90% of 3.5-alike monsters get. I wish they would do another bestiary, I think the 13th Age books overall are really top notch, and it's a shame they've not done sequels to the Bestiary and 13 True Ways.

Shadow of the Demon Lord has a nice range of mini-supplements called Monstrous Pages which each focus on one family of monsters in detail. My favourite one of those is probably Horrific Parasites, which is about the harvesters, who are immortal guys who were cursed to rot forever so they steal body parts to transplant into themselves. they're very cool and creepy and its bullshit that a game as dark as sotdl doesn't let you play as one.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Obachan Panic
Beat the Boss
Girl Underground
Mall Kids

are in the early lead.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


DISPOSABLE ASSETS

thatbastardken
Apr 23, 2010

strewth


Hostile V posted:

Ha ha, who do you think are the absolute best in the setting at doing psychosurgery.

A: a trained medical professional.
B: one spicy someone who only existed for three years realtime but has lived 18 mental years inside of the world's most evil VR experiment where their minds were conditioned through psychotherapy and they've learned since grade school how to hack their own reality to piss off their parents.

oh hey it's literally my first EP1 character, who had falsified documents qualifying them to be an actual therapist at a university on Titan.

my second character leaned in to the artwork instead of the text and was a warbot who dreamed of being a pop-idol.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Hostile V posted:

one spicy someone who only existed for three years realtime but has lived 18 mental years inside of the world's most evil VR experiment where their minds were conditioned through psychotherapy and they've learned since grade school how to hack their own reality to piss off their parents.

With the benefit of hindsight we can now declare that the Lost were probably a mistake.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

JcDent posted:

DISPOSABLE ASSETS

Seconding this, Deniable Assets is really cool
And I think it has some really interesting mechanics and moves. Plus its the most gleeful game about character death Ive ever seen, which rules.

StratGoatCom
Aug 6, 2019

Our security is guaranteed by being able to melt the eyeballs of any other forum's denizens at 15 minutes notice





Hostile V posted:

Psionic powers are a result of one of the many strains of the Exsurgent Virus, the Watts-MacLeod Virus. It's more or less taking some of the Titans' capabilities and stripping them way the hell back for use in a clean(ish) morph and ego. Some Exsurgent Viruses will turn you into a constantly regenerating manchine dragging a trail of brain-harvesting nanomachines in your wake. Watts-MacLeod just gives you psychic powers that are cast from health and strain. You're still infected and nobody has any clue if it's a benign infection, especially because more mutated individuals can use more powerful variants on psi. Plus, every single member of the Lost generation is infected with it because somehow the virus ended up in the program. As a result psychic powers are distrusted for two reasons. First, who knows if you'll mutate and go berserk and cause another city to become a quarantine zone. Second, there's a nonzero chance you're a poorly designed science project with an unimaginably lovely childhood that tends to result in megalomania, depersonalization disorders, narcissism or some form of psychopathy and that makes people nervous too. It's also transmissible, so the latter isn't necessarily true, but people still talk and fear.

At least in the original core book, they used TITAN hard/software for the simulation, the computer tech not really being good enough at accelerating such things. That is probably your vector of infection.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Can someone explain the Lost Generation to the rest of the class?

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 Space Wizard Casts Space Fireball

So EP1 had Asyncs which were more or less universally a joke. You could only use biomorphs(Exsurgents could have psi and be synthetic, though, so this is a limitation for ?????? reasons) or you'd go insane, and the powers themselves were thoroughly useless. There were a few very niche uses if you were Gatecrashing, some stuff that could be useful in first-encounter situations/with alien tech, but even so only in a very limited sense, and all of one attack power that would let you do less damage than literally any non-improvised weapon and only against biomorphs. Just bringing a knife would have been a better use of your time. Aside from that, Asyncs, as some people have already mentioned, were caused by an offshoot of the Exsurgent virus that didn't turn you into a space blob, as a side effect a bunch of exoplanet stuff was also supposed to have spooky and vague reactions to you. Almost all of them were in the "we wrote some vague poo poo, mr GM plz finish our essay for us" except for one, a giant fungus planet where asyncs were the only ones not instantly targeted for eating by the local wildlife.

Exsurgents were the ones who got actually useful psi abilities, being able to break the laws of physics to some extent, being proper space wizards, but to access any of their powers you had to reach the "book says you're now an NPC"-level of infection.

Night10194 posted:

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

As for EP being a hard sci-fi setting. Allow me to loving cackle my rear end off. They've got magic nanoconstruction, magic brain editing, magic FTL gates, utterly effortless genetic engineering, etc. If anything it's where EP tries its damndest to be "hard" to limit your fun(like physical travel speeds to ensure people have to deal with enforced egocasting and resleeving stuff) that stands out the most, rather than the "soft" parts. Now, EP would definitely benefit from being a "harder" setting, where all of these things come with some sort of limits and dangers, like nanofabricators can be hacked to suddenly become gray goo hazards, etc. and thus aren't on every street corner, if brain editing didn't give us "autism, but now it's perfect," if genetic engineering of morphs took more than a couple of years to crank out a perfect, flawless new line, etc. It would give players some limitations to work around, would result in less furious blowjobs for the anarchist factions from the writers, etc.

Anyway, we were here to talk about space wizards and whether EP2 has unfucked them any.

Um.

Not quite.


I don't know what happened, all I did was ask them to read the Eclipse Phase async rules...

Note that what's represented in this image is not actually anything that EP psi can cause. While it stays strictly on the telepathy side of things, and even that's fine, at no point does it have any high-tier effects like dropping a room full of people with brain haemorrhages or anything. Not even for the Exsurgents.

So the first change they made is that now, if you have Psi, you also need to have a mental illness, because it was clearly overpowered in EP1 and needed some limitations. Our powers are split into Psi-Chi, which are basically just passive bonuses that tend to be extremely niche and/or extremely dull, and Psi-Gamma, which are active abilities. Also ooooh noooo if we use our powers too much THE INFECTION awakens and forces tedious roleplay limitations on us, oh no. I guess I underestimated EP2 psi, it clearly has time travel powers back to the era of 90's game design where roleplay penalties are an actual thing.

Anyway, our mental illness is split into one of five "strains." There's the Architect(you want to do and try new things, so basically you're a PC), the Beast(you want to go new places and kill new things, so basically you're a PC), the Haunter(you're twitchy and scared), the Stranger(your character is quietly controlled and guided by an external presence, so they're basically a PC) or the Xenomorph(they're now a Xenofurry and want to fursuit as their TRUE XENO IDENTITY and also build their TRUE XENO LAIR and sometimes they make STRANGE XENO GESTURES that would make sense to their XENOSONA but not to NORMIES).

If you use enough Psi Gamma stuff and flub an INFECTION ROLL then the GM gets to take over your character either during downtime or at some vaguely defined "critical point." The latter will always be critical failures, like the infection will never do something weird and alien, like altering your target during a combat to prioritize something else, no, it'll always just straight make you gently caress up hardcore. Additionally it may make your brain bleed. Like, what I feel is missing here is that this is the same poo poo as Exalted's virtues, this just encourages the player to armor up against having to play along with the virus. If this was done right, playing along with the virus would instead give bonuses. Like, say you sate the Xenomorph strain by making your personal quarters basically a swamp or something, sleeving into something similar to what it wants to be, then maybe it'll give you access to special Xenomorph-only powers or give you free boosts to your powers. Instead it's the opposite, you pay a penalty for not playing along, but there's no bonus for playing along. No encouragement. All stick and zero carrot. This is not good game design.

All five strains basically have the same Bad Effects that they can trigger aside from the above. They can make your brain bleed, then they have four options for temporary mental illnesses/defects like hoarding, arrogance, sociopathy, hiding in a closet, sabotaging your friends, etc. and then one Apex Bad Thing that's usually a bit different, like the Beast has a melee combat frenzy(in a game where melee combat is distinctly the inferior choice in most situations), the Haunter hallucinates and the Xenomorph fursuits.



Psi Chi

These are all passive benefits, and I won't deny that some of them are undeniably useful. A flat initiative bonus, regaining more pool points on your short recharges and permanent pool increases that go with your ego rather than your morph are all quite strong options.



Likewise, Grok, Xeno-Empathy and Eco-Empathy could all be useful on Gatecrashing-focused campaigns. But aside from those three, none of these let you do anything new, they're just fiddly little bonuses along the lines of 3e D&D feats which primarily interact with an un-necessary subsystem(psionic combat/opposed tests) or give you niche bonuses that you'll be arguing with the GM about forever(like what exactly defines something that gets a bonus from superior calculation or "creative thinking."). I also like Enhanced Memory, the power easily simulated in any online game by just scrolling up in the chat log. Truly impressive.

But hey, you never know, maybe PSI GAMMA, the selection of powers so immense they need to be balanced out by non-consensual fursuiting and brain haemorrhages, will impress us more.

Psi Gamma



There's definitely a larger selection of things we can actually do, and some of them work quite well with stealthy approaches, like Aphasia and Basilisk Stare to lock down someone so the team can quietly handle them. The main problem is that most security and surveillance is almost entirely likely to be handled by AGI's, bots and pod morphs, all of which have cyberbrains and won't give a poo poo about your tricks. Though since, per the fluff, they're probably morons who left their brain wifi on, the team's hacker can just delete their brains from a city block over.

However, while all these powers look quite handy, keep in mind that none of them can have a range greater than a few meters and that any time you flub a mental attack, the target is instantly aware that someone tried to affect them, and you can expect that most targets will have at minimum a TN of 45 on their counter roll, upped to a minimum of 75 if they're actively trying to resist being hosed with.

The powers themselves, I'd say, are actually a step up in usefulness from EP1, just... not being usable against a good 60% or so of the setting's potential targets(or possibly more, since most infugees get pod/synthmorphs, not biomorphs, which are generally considered to be somewhat upscale), combined with terrible range options, being relatively easy to resist, your brain bleeding when you try to use the powers and some of these powers being more appropriate for villains than protagonists(like the long-term memory implantation or being able to induce stress damage, I can only imagine the GM crying if the players are forcing him to track developing mental illnesses and other brain stats for random NPC's). Mindlink could serve as a great alternative to brain wifi on ops... except for the 10-meter maximum range limit which kind of negates the usefulness somewhat.

Literally a hacker has more control over machine minds than Asyncs have over biological minds, and there are more machine minds around to affect.

I mean, if they scrapped the moron penalties for actually using your expensive powers, maybe gave asyncs something that affected cyberbrains at all, they wouldn't suck poo poo. But as it is there's relatively little they do that can't be replicated better and with less extraneous costs by technology.

The main situation where it would be extremely handy would be if you were somehow in a situation with no actual weapons and everyone was in a biomorph, which seems super niche and also like it would have to be constructed specifically to fete the async and punish everyone else.

Psi Epsilon

But wait, what's this???? A THIRD TIER OF PSI????

For exsurgents only. But what fantabulous powers do they get to threaten our protagonists with?



Firstly there's "destroy all synthmorphs and pods within a 10-meter range with no save." That's a pretty loving strong start. Secondly there's "make anyone who isn't specifically expecting this and have declared they guard against it, and thus get a save, have to roll on a 1d10 table to determine how their becoming KO'd and defenseless is described." Then presumably the Exsurgent teabags them and kills them. There's levitation. Do frosty damage equal to a good weapon with no attack roll or save. Disable a biological morph with no roll or save(presumably there'd still be the psi defense roll, but it doesn't say). Disabling lights and lasers. Turning invisible. Mind control a PC, it doesn't specify that it only affects biomorphs. Set people on fire in a way that functions mechanically exactly like freezing them but does damage faster. And "make PC unplayable by deleting all his memories."

I mean, I wanted some space magic, but somehow this is... dull space magic? Like there's nothing really alien about this. Pretty sure half of these powers are just copied out of Firestarter.

You couldn't even fix Asynchs by giving them access to this because it would generally just give them access to a bunch of dull save-or-die poo poo. I can appreciate wanting to leave Asynchs with access only to various forms of "telepathy," to maintain a bit of that hard sci-fi cred, but... considering the investment that it requires, at chargen, to have a decent selection of Asynch powers, you're giving up a lot of more conventionally and generally useful stuff for this.

It just feels like it needs a rework from the bottom up. Start making the strains about the carrot rather than the stick, have Psi-Chi be strain-specific boosts you get for playing along. The Architect gives you inspiration for new blueprints, the Beast lets you see the perfect way to tear into an enemy, the Haunter shows you how to keep yourself hidden, the Stranger tells you secrets and the Xenomorph gives you comfort and advice in strange and unfamiliar situations, making you feel more at home there than in familiar ones. Let Psi-Gamma be flavoured by your strain, too, to give it some personality.

The Architect constructs memories and links minds, the Beast terrifies and causes pain, the Haunter blocks you from others perception, the Stranger puppeteers enemies and the Xenomorph twists their minds into new and strange forms of thought. Maybe at apex, each of them gains access to one exsurgent-level power. The Architect can create and reshape matter Ex Nihilo, the Beast can destroy others at a touch, the Haunter can turn physically invisible, the Stranger... something? That's the one that seems to lack the most characterization. The Xenomorph can actively(permanently or not) reshape the host's morph into a shape perfect for its environment(stealth, combat, hostile conditions, blending in, etc.).

Like it feels wasted that they spend time trying to differentiate the five strains in their penalties, but then not at all in what they can actually do.


bonus crabman

Also, sidebar on the Lost: Basically a corp went "hyuck what if instead of corporating all those bodiless infugees, we vat-grew a bunch of kids in super-sweet morphs and then ran through through countless cycles of being raised in time-accelerated VR!" and then 90% of the kids turned out to be screaming sociopaths because this was not a smart plan and they all broke out of their cyberprison, killed all the doctors and scattered to the far reaches of the system and they're also all Asynchs and most of them are still at large.

Next: Gear! Gamemastering! Bad Spacemans That Are Not Good! Cute Cybermice!

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


Kurieg posted:

Can someone explain the Lost Generation to the rest of the class?
So this may have changed from 1st to 2nd version and I may be remembering wrong, but in the aftermath of the TITANS and Earth getting wiped out, somebody decided they needed a generation of brilliant leaders NOW. They stuck a bunch of baby brains in a simulated environment, cracked up the speed so that the children inside the simulation would experience time 6x faster (and therefore grow up in just 3 years), and let that simulation go without so much as a "Hello" to any bioethics board.

So a whole bunch of children grew up in a simulated environment with no real parents except for a bunch of amoral scientists who never directly interacted with them, which immediately devolved into Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Lord of the Flies meets post-apocalyptic YA novel. Somewhere along the line all of them become infected with the relatively benign version of the TITAN virus, so now Jack and Rodger have mind powers instead of a sharpened stick. The scientist, decided that this is going very badly, debate killing all the children and trying again - so the kids stage a massive escape from the simulation.

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 - THE FINAL CHAPTER - T to Y - Thank to You

Let's bang the rest of this sucker out!

Tachyron

no, it's not the death grips song you like

It's a bug dog predator, BUT THIS TIME with a gimmick. The gimmick is they simultaneously see everything happening 30 seconds into the past, the present instant, and 30 seconds into the future. this does not translate into mechanics at all. There is a huge inset box talking about their gimmick and basically saying 'uuuuh GM you figure this one out'. The suggested use is as a way to 'spice up routine combat' which is SOMETHING YOUR GAME ISN'T MEANT TO HAVE MONTY!!!!!!



Terror Bird


So for some reason the Terror Bird (a real animal from history times) has been in vogue lately. It's been featured in a lot of games, both tabletop and roleplaying, and a couple of TV shows. Now for some reason it's in Numenera, one billion years in the future. Who brought the giant furious ostrich back to life? It doesn't say. But whoever did do it also gave it the power to do the Screech attack from Pokemon, cause why not?

Therivar

in our time this guy inhabits shirts at the flea market

The Therivar is a fancy electricity snake whose power is to possess machines and either power them (if the thing is unpowered) or increase how well it works (if it's already powered). People love these gentle snake boys because they are so helpful with machinery, and while they do not talk they do understand language and are interested in inhabiting machines they have never seen before. They can also move at the speed of light, for reasons.

Titanothaur


No, it's not a Titanosaur with a lisp, it's Numenera's own tarrasque! Because every setting needs a giant godzilla. The titanothaur in the picture is just one of many variants, they all look like various normal animals combined together only giant. So they're like 50% of the animals in this book, only giant. The example titanothaurs we are treated to are as follows:

Gravithaur - a big lizard with a beetle shell who can do gravity waves
Rampagion - a completely undescribed monster who can do charge attacks
Suneko - a combination cat and lizard who burns like the sun. And yes its loving name is just 'sun' combined with 'neko'

They have 10x as many hit points as almost anything else, lots of armour, and do a ton of damage. You can't interact with them except for 'luring them with numenera' which seems to be all anyone in the entire setting is interested in. You know like when you go to the jungle and attract in the lions with a busted VCR from a landfill?

Trawl

scruffy from futurama has fallen on hard times

I don't know if you've ever played 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, but that game had fatalities, only if the surrounding level geometry was too restrictive for the animation you would be teleported to the '50 cent dimension' which was a kind of grey void where 50 Cent stabs people. That is the Trawl's power, but unlike 50 Cent they do not go around looking for the return of their Crystal Skull. What they actually do is stand there all invisible (phased into their dimension) and hold something cool in their hand. Probably some fuckin numenera, that poo poo is like catnip. When someone tries to take the thing the Trawl grabs their hand and drags them into the 50 Cent Dimension, where it stabs them to death and eats them.

They seem to just exist to gently caress the player over for wanting loot, or a tasty looking sandwich. Apparently Trawls like stories, jokes, and riddles though, so if you have a good one you can convince it to let you go. There's also an embarrassingly bad Freddy Kreuger style nursery rhyme about them:

Enjoy.

Unagran


Electric Eel Sharks. They can talk though, and they live in lairs arranged around The Great Egg. The Great Egg is not a really good egg, it's actually a lot of unagran eggs stuck together. They worship it, for some reason. Their main deal is they kidnap people and drop them on the big egg, and the big egg usually sucks them into itself by 'osmosis' and the embryos eat them somehow??? They also had a big civilisation in ancient times, like everyone else.

Valma


Valma is a teenager who investigates mysteries with her team of friends and a talking dog. She wears an orange sweater, and can't see without her glasses. But uh no, this thing is actually Obsessive Stalker Siri. If you talk near one they pop to life and start hassling you to talk to them more, if you ignore them they deactivate, but if you make the mistake of talking to them they follow you and hassle you forever. They do have GPS though, and can tell you some cool locations, but if you ever let them feel neglected they will ATTACK! with their weak electrical sting attack. If you ever want to stop talking to them you have to really gently and soothingly break off the conversation or they get upset. Very annoying overall, but they're intended to be annoying so I guess they succeeded in that.

Vape


The Vape has nothing to do with vapours at all, or e-cigs, but is actually a 2D wolf thing that runs at you really fast and chops you in half, from the groin upwards. For some reason being cut by them makes you bleed, unlike being cut by anything else. Animal intelligence, etc etc.

Varadimos


It looks like a hosed up shrub, but it's actually a godlike alien being who is basically just a genie. It makes weird, random demands, which if you fulfill you can make a request of it. You have to explain your request super in-detail, and also explain why you want whatever it is you're asking for. The entry mostly just tells the GM to really give the players a hard time, which everyone enjoys. If your plea is successful (which requires a roll on top of everything else because gently caress you) the hosed up shrub cloud will use its magical reality warping powers to do the equivalent of a Limited Wish spe- wait sorry I was uh, look it just does whatever the GM wants.

Also you can't hurt it unless your attacks are 'pandimensional', a phrase which I don't think is used anywhere else at all.

Warder


It's one of those guard dog statues that comes to life and attacks, only it's in the future and a robot.

Weaponized Meme


It's an evil meme that infects your mind and makes you hit yourself until you die. I am not joking. It acts like a disease, then you have to fight it in the core of your own mind. For some reason knowing philosophy helps you fight it. There's no picture so I found the worst meme. I think they just read about weaponized memes in a Charles Stross book or something so they put it in the game.

Xaar


A little robot parasite who sucks the energy from nearby machines and can also possess them. They have no attacks of their own but their hacking ability is so powerful that even super AIs freak out about them. They mostly ignore organic creatures, unless you're trying to stop them messing with a machine. Unlike most parasites, they are pretty talkative, and respect intelligence, confidence, and truthfulness, and don't relate to emotions. Pretty high standards, for a robot version of the guy from Animorphs.

Xacorocax

this guy's packin'!

Ok now this guy loving rules. It's a combination woodchipper and meat packing plant who drives around all day looking for suckas to harpoon and reel into its mouth. If you get reeled in, watch the gently caress out! You're gonna get chopped up. And when you get chopped up, it poops all the parts of you out, neatly vacuum sealed in little plastic packages. With a little printed label on each one that says like 'Sucka - Liver - 1lb', 'Sucka - Intestines - 15ft', 'Sucka - Brain - 0lbs'. The brain is 0lbs because you were a dumbass for loving with a meat packing plant on wheels.

The Xacorocax entry has a nice little paragraph of fiction that is pretty unsettling actually, having a guy recount how his friend got sucked into one then pooped out all dissected and separated out into little stay-fresh packages.

If I could play as any one monster from this book it would be the Xacorocax. I wish I had more to say about it because I love it, but it's a short and sweet concept that doesn't need a whole ton of explaining.

Xiomarche


Weird looking Tarantula Hawks. They sting things, implant eggs, the young grow on the corpse like flowers, then fly away when they're done eating. It's actually less gross than a real tarantula hawk because these guys kill the thing they fill with eggs, tarantula hawks just paralyse the poor spiders. The whole monster is just a setup for the players to see flowers growing on a corpse then get attacked when they get closer.

Ylaantiv


A really lovely creature to end the book on, these are big beetles who act like bees. They make hives out of stone using their acid spit, and instead of looking for pollen they hunt for flesh. They have fangs that stick into you like a bee sting and pump acid into your body, which for some reason also kills the bug? Is the acid their blood too? I don't know.

quote:

The idea is that the ylaantiv clamps down and never lets go. In fact, the extrusion of the tube guarantees that the creature will die because it begins to pump its own caustic fluid into the victim.
What??? It didn't say if the caustic fluid is their blood or anything in the entry. It also says the workers shape the hive using caustic fluid. Do they die doing it?

The hunters are also supposed to bring the liquified flesh back to the queen and workers to feed them, but they die when they melt flesh, so how do they bring it back to the hive? What is going on???? I feel like I'm having a drat Stroke.

----------

Well, that's the last of the creatures in the book. The back has a list of stats for some stock high-level human type NPCs, and also some 'People of Renown'. The People of Renown are more detailed NPCs in case you want a cool ally or antagonist for your players. They include stuff like a guy who turned into super heavy mineral stuff (but has gravity control powers to cancel it out), triangle davros, and Keith Thompson Art.

I like the art for triangle davros:


I do not like the art for Girl Professor X:


If there is interest I can do another post about these people of renown, otherwise I will move onto Bestiary 2, or do something left-field like the Eclipse Phase monster manual, assuming that hasn't already had dibs called on it.

I think at times I was a little hard on this book, a lot of the monsters were creative and I liked them, but what this book had going against it was A) the theme of the game and B) what it COULD have been. It's not supposed to be a game about fighting stuff, so having tens of Always Chaotic Evil things is a waste of time, and having a million identical predator animals is a waste of time. If they had stuck to the more interesting and weird side of things it would have been better. I get the feeling it was made in kind of a rush.

Bestiary 2 has a lot more interesting monsters, and all of its art is done specifically for it so there's no more 'making up a backstory for a picture' type monsters. I hope you enjoyed this writeup, even if the quality of each post kind of varied with the monsters in it. Thanks for reading and see you on the next one!

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

juggalo baby coffin posted:

something left-field

We could find out how else Monte Cook can gently caress up intimate relationships by creating mechanics for them.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



The "fun" thing about the EP2e async rules is looking through the suggested mental illnesses for the various strains, and seeing that they're basically bright red "not a PC anymore" stickers slapped on them. And it's not the ones you'd think would be handled poorly because of popular culture! No, it's stuff like Depression (make a roll to do anything; penalties to anything you do), and Anxiety (make a roll to do anything; you probably won't do anything) that put you deep in the save-or-narratively-die hole. Great.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I'd love to see obachan panic

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

The "fun" thing about the EP2e async rules is looking through the suggested mental illnesses for the various strains, and seeing that they're basically bright red "not a PC anymore" stickers slapped on them. And it's not the ones you'd think would be handled poorly because of popular culture! No, it's stuff like Depression (make a roll to do anything; penalties to anything you do), and Anxiety (make a roll to do anything; you probably won't do anything) that put you deep in the save-or-narratively-die hole. Great.

This is one of many reasons I dislike 'mental illness' rules in RPGs. Not just the insensitive and poorly thought out portrayals and all, but they also just kinda...suck to deal with in games since they often end up 'save or become non-functional'.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

This is one of many reasons I dislike 'mental illness' rules in RPGs. Not just the insensitive and poorly thought out portrayals and all, but they also just kinda...suck to deal with in games since they often end up 'save or become non-functional'.
Yeah, they tend to go one of two ways:
1. This is Roleplaying Only; if you got a mechanical benefit in exchange for this, the game is poorly designed, and if you didn't, whatever
2. This has mechanical weight; it will suck

Also it's extra weird to me that those two, of all things, are the most heavily save-or-suck even in a bad group, because like...have the designers met a tabletop gaming group? Or really any group of 5-7 introverted people in a single space? Odds are, you're seeing people with anxiety and/or depression who are capable of leaving the house and succeeding at tasks.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


PurpleXVI posted:

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.

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.

EP1 had a limit of +/-30 from any single source of thing, but EP2 might not have that. Having 100 Spares was always the best strat though, if you have blueprints for a machinegun you just print infinite of them and give them to infinite Spares and go wild. The restraint was always social rather than mechanical as far as that sort of thing goes, ie: are you the sort of monster that throws literally infinite selfs at a problem and what that means.

Hard disagree on Muses. In the game of EP1 I played we did the recommended thing of each player having control of someone else's muse which immediately solves the Decker problem because every player can always be in every scene and it was fun getting to be a little Bonzi Buddy. They only have like 4 skills anyway and you're just playing Clippy the Paperclip so it doesn't really feel like playing more than one character. And they give the GM an avenue of in-setting going "do you really wanna do this? Going through here without checking for traps seems like a bad idea?" to your guy instead of saying it directly to players which some people feel weird about.

And I feel that being "forced" to add hacking content to Eclipse Phase is like saying you're "forced" to have an adventure in D&D. You're playing the cyberpunk game where everything is the internet and everything is hackable, you're going to have hacking content in it? If you're doing Gatecrashing then yeah, there isn't going to be internet everywhere because you're going to weird places and the player probably shouldn't play the Guy That Lives in the Internet (who can still get a body, as was mentioned every PC is pretty much an infomorph or will have ones as retainers), but in all other scenarios there will be things to hack because that's the setting.

juggalo baby coffin posted:

Bestiary 2 has a lot more interesting monsters, and all of its art is done specifically for it so there's no more 'making up a backstory for a picture' type monsters. I hope you enjoyed this writeup, even if the quality of each post kind of varied with the monsters in it. Thanks for reading and see you on the next one!

Hell yeah! I've really enjoyed it, thanks for doing it! I'm looking forward to Bestiary 2 if its got more interesting stuff. And yeah, the main criticism is this is very Things to Fight for a game that was supposed to not need/want that.


Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Also it's extra weird to me that those two, of all things, are the most heavily save-or-suck even in a bad group, because like...have the designers met a tabletop gaming group? Or really any group of 5-7 introverted people in a single space? Odds are, you're seeing people with anxiety and/or depression who are capable of leaving the house and succeeding at tasks.

Right?! The entry for General Anxiety Disorder entry in EP1 opened with "you pretty much can't do anything ever because even thinking about starting to do anything causes paralyzing anxiety" and uh... that's not really how that works at all and also thanks.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




If people couldn't work while gripped with a constant sense of futility and dread, the US economy would've collapsed years ago.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Halloween Jack posted:

If people couldn't work while gripped with a constant sense of futility and dread, the US economy would've collapsed years ago.
Also given the way the setting in EP has shaken out, one would assume just about EVERYONE is sufficiently immiserated to have the symptoms if not the full diagnosis of one of those, it's like, what.

Even the "you get anxiety over how the universe is horrifying and unknowable and bigger than you and oh god space is everywhere it's right there gently caress i'm not even a person gently caress gently caress gently caress" disorder is less restrictive than GAD in this game! gently caress!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


EthanSteele posted:

Right?! The entry for General Anxiety Disorder entry in EP1 opened with "you pretty much can't do anything ever because even thinking about starting to do anything causes paralyzing anxiety" and uh... that's not really how that works at all and also thanks.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder really does suck but for the most part it just makes me really, really pessimistic. It makes it harder to focus and concentrate, and it can make it harder to start new projects or especially to share things with other people, but it's not a completely crippling 'live in fear at all moments of your life' sort of thing.

E: It's really the sort of thing where I'd much prefer that sort of thing to be an RP/character trait rather than trying to assign mechanical penalties to it. Being risk averse or excessively pessimistic because your character struggles with anxiety issues is fine. Trying to put a direct 'this is a -10 to these things' on it is not, and especially not 'I can't act because I'm too scared'. Trying to decide exactly how 'crippling' mental illness is in play is a minefield.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:49 on Aug 12, 2019

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

juggalo baby coffin posted:

If there is interest I can do another post about these people of renown, otherwise I will move onto Bestiary 2, or do something left-field like the Eclipse Phase monster manual, assuming that hasn't already had dibs called on it.

I would like to hear more about Triangle Davros.

Night10194 posted:

This is one of many reasons I dislike 'mental illness' rules in RPGs. Not just the insensitive and poorly thought out portrayals and all, but they also just kinda...suck to deal with in games since they often end up 'save or become non-functional'.

I checked out at that point. There's a long way between 'weird behavioral quirk' and 'DSM: 1999 mental illness'.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



I think, if you're wanting to replicate a mental illness in a game both effectively and thematically, doing the FATE approach is the best: your character is functional until they need to gain or earn a FATE point, then they aren't for a duration of an episode.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Young Freud posted:

I think, if you're wanting to replicate a mental illness in a game both effectively and thematically, doing the FATE approach is the best: your character is functional until they need to gain or earn a FATE point, then they aren't for a duration of an episode.

FATE is definitely the way to go, but even then you have the problem that some of these come down to 'don't do a thing' and you need a way to make that interesting in a game without also pissing off the group. For example, in the Sopranos, Tony having a panic attack and blacking out when he's supposed to do mob stuff is interesting in the show, but would that be a good thing at the game table?

edit: of course, the way to not handle mental illness is save vs. suck or a blanket -10 modifier to all actions. That's just dumb, who would do that?

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Young Freud posted:

I think, if you're wanting to replicate a mental illness in a game both effectively and thematically, doing the FATE approach is the best: your character is functional until they need to gain or earn a FATE point, then they aren't for a duration of an episode.

Speaking of FATE, the Accessibility Toolkit is a thing on drivethru that's all about how to handle various disabilities both in character in your games and for players with those issues. It's good and I recommend it. The section on mobility issues is the only one not written directly by someone with that thing and it shows, but it's still sourced from people with mobility issues and it's still good, it's just not as good as the other sections.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I think that having the rules be 'you may get a bennie of some kind by RPing out your character's mental illness when it would be narratively interesting, as determined by the table' is a pretty functional move here? It requires a more narrative way of thinking about the game than D&D tends to have (and maybe than EP has?) but it basically solves the problem of this not being something one wants to just see thrown around or treated flippantly to tell the table to use their most basic common sense.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

PurpleXVI posted:

As for EP being a hard sci-fi setting. Allow me to loving cackle my rear end off. They've got magic nanoconstruction, magic brain editing, magic FTL gates, utterly effortless genetic engineering, etc. If anything it's where EP tries its damndest to be "hard" to limit your fun(like physical travel speeds to ensure people have to deal with enforced egocasting and resleeving stuff) that stands out the most, rather than the "soft" parts. Now, EP would definitely benefit from being a "harder" setting, where all of these things come with some sort of limits and dangers, like nanofabricators can be hacked to suddenly become gray goo hazards, etc. and thus aren't on every street corner

Grey Goo isn't hard science, because nanoscale dismantling is incredibly difficult, and not terribly threatening because nanoscale objects are very vulnerable to things like fire and bright sunlight. :goonsay:

PurpleXVI posted:

So the first change they made is that now, if you have Psi, you also need to have a mental illness, because it was clearly overpowered in EP1 and needed some limitations.
You always had to take a Mental Disorder if you had Psi, this is not new to 2e.


PurpleXVI posted:

Likewise, Grok, Xeno-Empathy and Eco-Empathy could all be useful on Gatecrashing-focused campaigns.
Grok is actually great because it's not limited to alien devices. Jump into a spacecraft and nobody has Pilot: Spacecraft or whatever? Well now you do.

PurpleXVI posted:

or give you niche bonuses that you'll be arguing with the GM about forever(like what exactly defines something that gets a bonus from superior calculation or "creative thinking."). I also like Enhanced Memory, the power easily simulated in any online game by just scrolling up in the chat log. Truly impressive.
Like 80% of the time you can figure out how something's intended to work in EP by reading through a copy of GURPS 4e and figuring out which Advantage they stole. EP, both 1st edition and the 2nd edition open beta drafts I read, suffers heavily from rote copying of other game's mechanics without understanding how those mechanics actually fit into the original game. This includes things like GURPS Advantages copied partly while leaving out important rules, Delta Green RPG's stress hardening system being copied without being adapted to the Stress scale (or tone) of EP2e, modifiers from GURPS: Transhuman Space being converted by multiplying through by 5% without concern for a 1d100 behaving very differently from 3d6, using FATE-style mechanics without concern for how this clashes with the tone and style of EP, PbtA-style pick-successes-from-a-list implemented without any of PbtA's tight design...

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Or we could admit that gamifying mental illness isn't particularly respectful, and stop trying to cram it in.

When mine manifest, I don't show up for game. There are no narratively interesting or appropriate moments for a character to express them, because they are passively disruptive, not the kind of monkey cheese asshattery that Hollywood and decades of lovely game design have tried to pass off as drama.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The other thing is a lot of the attempts to 'gameify' mental illness are dealing with things that have no real world analogue, so why should they inflict mental traumas and things that happen to map to whatever copy of the DSM the game's author is using? We have no idea what 'losing 90% of humanity within the last 10 years' would actually do psychologically. Nor 'encountered a giant alien dragon squid/evil AI gangster computer god'. If you need to have shock and surprise and moments of despair slow a character down, fine, but it doesn't need to manifest in 'you have GAD now' or other mental illness terms.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply