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Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.


FMguru posted:

reproducing stanzas of Cure or Sisters Of Mercy songs was a good way to get into expensive trouble with song's rights-holders and ASCAP

Wait, is that honestly A Thing That Happens? I mean, as far as I knew ASCAP dealt with performing/broadcasting music; how much precedent is there of getting into legal troubles for quoting lyrics in one's goddamned books?

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That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




unseenlibrarian posted:

Vampire -started- with a limited skill list, but they kept adding new ones with vague suggestions that these other skills were secondary and should maybe cost less because they were narrower in scope? But AFAIK there weren't any fast rules on that.

By the second editions at least, there were hard rules for secondary Abilities costing less. Also, of course, complexities where, oh, no, this one isn't discounted because

But, yeah, every oWoD game started with a light-ish skill list, and then shortly received dozens of fiddly new skills in a player's guide, plus more handfuls tacked on in this or that supplement.

But the original lists weren't quite as light as they should've been, either. You've got Etiquette, Lore (specific social group), Empathy, Subterfuge, Performance all covering lots of the same stuff. Or not, depending on your GM.

And then there're the redundancies beyond the skills. Every game has Alertness, which was normal situational awareness, then most also had Awareness, which was incredibly ill-defined spooky-sight. And then you had various super powers that also gave you spooky-sight, but of course with more solid rules that stomped all over the (presumed?) utility of Awareness.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Simian_Prime posted:

Remember when MAD magazine did movie parodies?

The art in WV reminds me of a MAD spoof of Hellraiser.

I remember Jeff Laubenstein there doing a lot of work for FASA back when there was a FASA. It was baffling in the context of Shadowrun a lot of the time, but the hallucinatory exaggeration really seemed to fit Earthdawn for me, for some reason.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 11:46 on May 12, 2016

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Siivola posted:

Baker visited a local TG convention a couple of years back, and I think he mentioned then that he grew up in a fundie sort of country and really hated it. Dogs kinda reflects that, entirely on purpose.

Yeah the game is supposed to cause friction between the stated morality of the faith and the actualities of real (game) people in the real (game) world. I would absolutely understand anyone who says they wouldn't want to play that game, but DITV does that game very very well.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Foglet posted:

Wait, is that honestly A Thing That Happens? I mean, as far as I knew ASCAP dealt with performing/broadcasting music; how much precedent is there of getting into legal troubles for quoting lyrics in one's goddamned books?

Speaking from a purely legalistic standpoint, quoting poetry -- or song lyrics, which have kind of fallen into the same category -- is like slapping a sign on your forehead saying 'sue me'. This is because a) you get into trouble for reproducing "a significant portion" of a work, and b) because of the nature of poetry (relatively short, laden with meaning) "a significant portion" can be interpreted to mean "any amount at all".

That said, the golden rule of suing people for copyright infringement is 'bring the lawsuit against the people with the money'. I doubt any RPG publisher is going to get in trouble over this because they just don't have enough cash to be worth pursuing.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

FMguru posted:

I dunno about skill bloat being a 90s RPG thing. Lots of RPGs from the 80s had too-long skill lists - I'm thinking of GURPS, Rolemaster, and BRP. Call of Cthulhu's reputation as a light game system that gets out of the way is belied by its giant character sheet full of nonsense like Operate Heavy Machinery and having Diagnose Disease and Treat Disease and Treat Poison as separate skills. And the 90s-est RPG of them all, Vampire:the Masquerade and its oWoD offspring, smartly had very limited skill lists. Plus, the most important RPG of the 2000s (D&D 3e) was pretty skill-bloaty itself (Rope Use, anyone?).

While skill bloat is not unique to 90's RPG design, it's a fairly noticeable feature. As others have mentioned, VTM and the other WoD games kept adding skills until the skill system was horrifically bloated with overlapping skills. I'd also point out that while GURPS 3e had serious problems with skill bloat, it also came out in 1988 and was first deprecated in 2004: the majority of its lifecycle was spent in the 90's, constantly updating its list of skills until doing anything with a character made in 1988 became impossible.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Don't forget most of those skills being useless, but players being told they ought to have points in 'em for 'realism'.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




Dogs in the Vineyard: A Land of Balm and Virtue

The first two sentences of the second chapter are this:

quote:

I will prepare for you a garden on the mountain, I will prepare a land of balm and virtue.
And this:

quote:

I'm just making stuff up!
Which pretty much sums up the tone of this rulebook.

The Landscape
There's a massive mountain range, peaked with snow, separating the East from the West. In the West, in the long fertile range between the desert and the mountains, the Faith make their home. The capital of the Faith is Bridal Falls City, and even that is small compared to the huge cities Back East.

The desert isn't all sandy dunes - it's canyons, valleys, scrub oak, sagebrush, and hardy cedars. Centuries of wind carve stone into strange shapes, like ancient kingdoms.

The Faith
The Faith is, properly, The Faith of All Things in the King of Life, Reborn. The Dogs are, properly, the Order Set Apart to the Preservation of Faith and the Faithful. Less formally, they're the King's Dogs or Life's Watchdogs. They are addressed as Brother or Sister.

All religions other than the Faith are demonic cults, decadent corruption, or idle nonsense. Only this one is true.

Food and Fashion
People mostly east dairy and wheat. After that it's meat (beef, chicken, pork, game), fruit (apples, plums, apricots, berries), vegetables (corn, squash, tomatoes, carrots, onions, peas, beans). Coffee, liquor, and black tea are eschewed in favor of herbal teas, lemonade, and mild barley beer. Tobacco is going out of fashion.

Clothing is cotton and wool. Silk is a decadent luxury, most people dress simply. Men wear dark colors, women wear brighter colors. A woman's ankle or wrist in company is risqué.

Guns
Old guns, pre-Civil War. Big bores, lower profiles, single action. Loud, slow, smoky, and prone to misfires. They're still very, very dangerous.

The Mountain People
The locals are nomads, and were away when the Faith moved in. Since they came back, they've been gradually pushed out to the edges of civilization, mainly because they don't have guns. The Mountain People live in isolated family groups, forming alliances as needed. The towns at the edge of the Faith have to negotiate with them. In some places, it goes well. In some, it doesn't.

Doctrine describes the Mountain People as remnants of an ancient Faithful situation, so the Faithful don't fight with them without cause, and welcome them if they repent. Folklore says that they're the beloved people of the King of Life, destined to inherit the world and possessing secret true doctrines. Others say that they're more inclined towards demonic influence and sorcery than proper folk, or outright irredeemably evil. What kind of stories you hear generally lines up with how well relations with the Mountain People are going in that town.

The Territorial Authority
Secular law enforcement. Larger towns will have a sheriff, usually elected to the role by the congregation. The Territorial Authority is generally more concerned about two things: Mail, and taxes. If the mail reaches its destinations, and the taxes get paid, they don't really care what else you do.

Some of the things that the Dogs are authorized to do by the Faith are not authorized by the Territorial Authority. So, be careful about that.

Back East
Decadence, sin, cruelty, occultism. Huge, stinking cities, unspeakable vice and violence. Poverty, disease, filth, crime, slavery. The world the Faith went left to escape from. Sometimes a Faithful couple will send their child Back East to go to college. Those are perilous years, indeed.

Nonbelievers
Sometimes people who look like and talk like Faithful aren't. There are atheists, who believe that no God is interfering with our lives. There are dogmatists, obeying the letter of the scripture rather than God's will. There are spiritualists, looking to pagan superstition or the ghosts of the dead for guidance. There aren't many of such folks among the Faithful, but there are some.

Next: Character creation.

Quinn2win fucked around with this message at 13:48 on May 12, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Legend of the Five Rings had "Tropical Fish", a skill solely for the caretaking of exotic fish. Rifts had "Sea Holistic Medicine". Vampire: the Masquerade had "Pottery". Pottery! It was definitely a thing for any '90s game with a decent supplement train.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I remember liking the Hobby skills in GURPS, because verisimilitude. I think they were cheaper than normal skills, but they were also basically useless in contexts where related 'proper' skills might come into play.

Early editions of Shadowrun didn't even have that. They just strongly suggested wasting precious skill dice on stuff like trivia.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Late to 90's chat, but...

Halloween Jack posted:

...coupled with a weird fascination with "realism." Stereotypical 90s games are infamous for going on and on about "story," and then giving you an entire page of stats for different types of submachinegun. My take on this is that new games in the late 80s all the way through the end of the 90s were still preoccupied with getting away from AD&D, which meant both trying to emphasize roleplaying and story, and also trying to be more realistic and commonsense instead of imitating D&D's weird, wonky abstractions like AC, HP, and saving throws that were legacies of building a new medium on top of minis wargaming.
I don't think it's so much the "getting away from D&D" thing as much as the seemingly genetic-level belief among nerds that "gritty realism = mature". We still have the problem today, as seen in stuff like LotFP or Batman Versus Superman Colon Dawn Of Justice. We have all these rules for guns and violence because this is loving gritty, man, and we're not pulling any punches. Sorry you can't handle that.

Kavak posted:

"Minimization of player agency in mechanics and narrative" and "bloated and unbalanced game system"

TORG seems to be the absolute pinnacle of both of these- nothing loving works but it doesn't matter because the players can't affect any of the situations presented to them in the books.
As I've said many times before, Torg really is the pinnacle of 90's RPG design. Yeah, Rifts is up there, but the crazy is more in the mechanical bloat and kitchen-sink setting approach. In Torg, they're clearly trying to make things more narrative and work tone into mechanics, but because it was the 90's we didn't quite get how that could work yet. So you get all these "genre-enforcing mechanics" like the pulp gadget rules or the Orrorshian ritual magic rules that start with their hearts in the right place, but then get bogged down in the idea that the mechanics should be modelling reality.

Remember, Torg is the RPG where they say it's all about cinematic action, but is also proud of the fact that you can calculate exactly how much damage the Death Star does.

Zereth posted:

Except when the players are expected to make a series of rolls that are much, much harder than the adventure seems to think they are.
Pretty much. That combined with the railroading and inbuilt adventure assumption that the PCs are going to always figure out the clues and always win the fights leads to a lot of bizarre situations.

In War's End (the last book in the Torg line), there's a combat that has literally 100 gospog, which is immediately followed by one with literally two hundred werewolf NPCs, which is immediately followed by one with about fifty technodemons. And remember, this is Torg. No mook rules; every one of these guys have full stat blocks and you're expected to track all their wounds and shock points.

I am not using "literally" in the exaggeration way there, by the way. The first fight is 72 first-planting gospog and 18 third-planting, with a fifth-planting one per PC; the second fight has "Dire Wolves (200)".

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Also there's an optional fight in the very first chapter with up to -90- possibility rated Cyberpriests.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Oh yeah; I forgot about that.

The last chapter of War's End is so loving stupid it overshadows the stupidity in the rest of the adventure by a pretty wide margin.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Precisely how meaty are werewolves in TORG? Cause if this was a CofD Game 90 werewolves would basically be "Reflect on the life decisions that brought you to this point as you are horribly murdered by the inevitable Kuruth shitstorm"

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kurieg posted:

Precisely how meaty are werewolves in TORG? Cause if this was a CofD Game 90 werewolves would basically be "Reflect on the life decisions that brought you to this point as you are horribly murdered by the inevitable Kuruth shitstorm"
Okay.

These particular dire wolves have Toughness 15, natural armor that increases their effective Toughness by 2, a dodge of 14, and are possibility-rated with 4PP each.

For those who don't remember, attacking means rolling your weapon skill against the target's dodge. The damage is the weapon's damage plus whatever the modifier was for your attack roll.

When you hit your damage total needs to be above the target's Toughness to actually do damage. So you need a weapon that has a damage rating of at least 18 to actually accomplish anything. A .44 Magnum is damage 17, a frag grenade is 19, an M-16 is 20, then you add the modifier for your attack total, so getting above a 15 isn't particularly hard.

But.

The dire wolves are P-rated. That means you use that column of the damage table. To deal an actual wound (4 wounds = dead) to a P-rated target, your damage total needs to beat the wolf's Toughness by 10. So you need a damage total of 28 or more, otherwise you're just doing shock or KO effects.

But the wolf is P-rated. It can spend a possibility to negate that damage. Each wolf can do this up to four times.

Now, technically you can knock someone out with shock damage (the wolves would need to take 15 shock damage each to be knocked out), or KO effects (two KO effects knocks them out).

Which is fine...except there are two hundred of these assholes. And the GM would have to track shock, wounds, and KO for all of them.

Yes, there are ways to attack multiple enemies at once, but again...200 NPCs.

e: oh, by the way; if I'm attacking with an M-16 (damage 20) and want to get a damage total of 28, I'd need my attack roll to be high enough to get a +8. That requires a minimum attack roll total of 21. If my weapon skill is, say, 17, that requires my original roll to be at least a 16 on the die.

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 15:15 on May 12, 2016

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Evil Mastermind posted:

Pretty much. That combined with the railroading and inbuilt adventure assumption that the PCs are going to always figure out the clues and always win the fights leads to a lot of bizarre situations.

In War's End (the last book in the Torg line), there's a combat that has literally 100 gospog, which is immediately followed by one with literally two hundred werewolf NPCs, which is immediately followed by one with about fifty technodemons. And remember, this is Torg. No mook rules; every one of these guys have full stat blocks and you're expected to track all their wounds and shock points.

I am not using "literally" in the exaggeration way there, by the way. The first fight is 72 first-planting gospog and 18 third-planting, with a fifth-planting one per PC; the second fight has "Dire Wolves (200)".
I was thinking of the core book adventure where you have a strictly limited timeframe to A: get to, B: draw the right cards to, and C: make your rolls to turn off the doomsday device.

Oh and the PCs won't know this and are attacked by undead pirates when they set foot on the thing the doomsday device is in.


"Glad" to see they don't let up on that bullshit.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Mind is the Arcanum of communication, language, hallucination, Goetia, thought, memory, mental projection and the Astral realm. It encompasses anything from emotion to higher states of awareness. It deals largely in social interactions but not entirely.

Mind 1 spells include:
Know Nature, which tells you the target's Virtue, Vice, and the levels of their Social and Mental attributes. For 1 Reach, you also know their Aspirations and Obsessions.
Mental Scan, which tells you the target's mental and emotional state and allows you to ask the ST one question per level of Potency, such as 'What is their current mood,' 'how intelligent are they,' 'are they supernatural,' 'what do they most desire' or 'what, if any, psychosis do they have?' Answers come in the form of flashes of insight from the target's thoughts. For 1 Reach, you can read surface thoughts, getting snippets of ideas and any speech before it is spoken. You cannot scan deeper than the immediate, but can usually direct thought with conversation.
One Mind, Two Thoughts allows you to perform two Mental or Social extended actions at once, as long as neither is physically demanding. You cannot, however, multitask spells. For 1 Reach, you can do two Mental instant actions at once. For 2 Reach, while in the Astral, one of the actions can be purely 'Physical.'
Perfect Recall lets you remember (Potency) memories with perfect accuracy, down to the smells, the specific font of a page or the weight of an object held, including parts you weren't consciously paying attention to.

Mind 2 spells include:
Alter Mental Pattern lets you alter someone's apparent subconscious thoughts into any mental or emotional state you want. Their state of mind is not actually altered, but rather how they project themselves, protecting them from mind reading and lie detection. Add +(Potency) to any relevant Subterfuge rolls, and any attempt to read surface thoughts or emotions causes a Clash of Wills.
Dream Reading allows you to enter and witness the target's dreams as they sleep. You can influence them but are not part of them directly. If used on yourself, you always remember your dream. For 1 Reach, you are an active part of the dream, able to take action within the Oneiros. Using this on yourself induces lucid dreaming within the duration, with no need for meditation.
Emotional Urging projects an emotional state on the target, chosen either positive or negative. This allows you to open or close one Door for Social Maneuvering, either to benefit yourself or another. You may close previously opened Doors.
First Impressions affects the next Social Maneuvering attempt made against the target, raising or lowering their impression by (Potency) levels.
Incognito Presence causes people to ignore the target and not remember seeing them. Anyone trying to maintain their gaze or remember the target must make a Clash of Wills. For 1 Reach, only those with Active Mage sight or some other supernatural ability can make the Clash of Wills.
Memory Hole seals away any single memory for the duration.
Mental Shield protects the target from Goetia, forcing a Clash of Wills against any Goetic Numina, Influences or Manifestations. For 1 Reach per supernatural being chosen, it also protects against the mind-affecting abilitis of other supernatural beings (or the Mind Arcanum).
Psychic Domination allows you to send simple telepathic commands via thoughts and emotions to your target. The commands must be simple, one-word orders. The intent of the command is sent, not just the letter of it. The target knows the ideas are not necessarily their own, but not where they are coming from. For 1 Reach, the target can be forced to act against their will, obeying any one task you set, as complex as you like so long as it isn't suicidal and doesn't place them in serious danger. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can do that without any limitations on what can be forced. For 1 reach, you can give another command.
Telepathy lets you synchronize the surface thoughts of one target play out in the mind of another, giving +(Potency) to relevant rolls (like Empathy) and -(Potency) to relevant rolls (like Subterfuge) between the targets. Subjects may think carefully to speak to each other telepathically, though this may require Empathy rolls for those unused to it. For 1 Reach, only thoughts the first target wants to share are shared. For 1 Reach, all subjects of the spell can send and receive thoughts, but if multiple targets are not used to it, it can cause a -2 penalty on all Mental actions due to noise.

Mind 3 spells include:
Augment Mind, which can increase one of the target's Mental or Social attributes by (Potency), but not above their maximums. For 1 Reach per attribute you can boost an additional attribute, splitting Potency between them. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can go above the target's maximums.
Clear Thoughts suppresses a mental Condition for its duration. It cannot affect Paradox Conditions and supernaturally imposed ones require a Clash of Wills. For 1 Reach, the target regains 1 Willpower. For 2 Reach, the effect is Lasting, removing the Condition without giving a Beat.
Enhance Skill increases one of the target's Skills by (Potency) as long as they already have at least one dot, though it can't go above the target's maximums. For 1 Reach per Skill, you can boost additional Skills, splitting Potency between them. All such skills must have at least one dot already. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can go over the target's maximums.
Goetic Summons calls the nearest Goetia in sensory range, or any Goetia you know personally. You can specify a Goetia type by its Resonance. This doesn't work on Goetia over rank 5. With Spirit 2 or Death 2, the entity can be materialized for the duration. With 1 Reach, you place the Open condition on the area even if it doesn't match the Goetia's Resonance. For 1 Reach, you can give the Goetia a single, one-word command. For 1 Reach, if you are somewher you could meditate into the Astral, you can summon a Goetia from your own Oneiros or that of another person there. The subject loses the part of their personality the Goetia represents while it is materialized, and you must pay Mana enough to enter the Astral from your location as part of the spell. For 2 Reach, as above but you can summon the Goetia from the Temenos. For 3 Reach, as above but from the Anima Mundi. For 2 Reach, you can give the Goetia a complex command to follow.
Imposter makes the target believe you are someone else, whoever you like. However, if you haven't interacted extensively with the specific person you are imitating, you must make Subterfuge rolls every minute to maintain the charade. This does not grant you any of the impersonated target's Social merits. If you open any Doors or make new first impressions, the benefits go to whoever you appear to be rather than you.
Psychic Assault projects psychic noise into the target's brain, mimicking a stroke and causing (Potency)B. For 1 Reach, it also applies a -1 penalty to all Mental rolls for the duration due to trauma, which can be stacked up to 3 times for 1 Reach each time.
Sleep of the Just controls the target's sleep cycle, either letting them remain awake without ill effect or forcing them to sleep for the duration. You also control what they dream about or if they enter a lucid dreaming state. Anything trying to enter or influence these dreams provokes a Clash of Wills.
Read the Depths functions like Telepathy, but lets you pull memories and ideas from the subconscious, rather than just surface thoughts. For 1 Reach, you can also modify a single memory you've read this way, adding to, deleting or changing it for the duration.
Universal Language makes the target able to understand and translate any language, spoken or written, body language, hand signs, encoded signals, whatever. The target must be able to perceive the language, however. It also does not allow the un-Awakened to understand High Speech.

Mind 4 spells include:
Befuddle lowers one of the target's Mental or Social attributes by (Potency), to a minimum of 1. For 1 Reach per attribute, you can split Potency among the chosen attributes to lower more than one.
Gain Skill functions as per Enhance Skill, but you can give dots to someone with no dots, including the Reach effects for the same Reach costs.
Hallucination creates false sensory input for the target, affecting all senses but touch. For 1 Reach, you also affect touch, but the illusion can't attack or harm the target in any way.
Mind Flay tears apart the target's mind, dealing (Potency)L. For 1 Reach, it also causes the Insane tilt. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, it deals Agg damage.
Psychic Projection sends the target's mind into Twilight or someone's dream, using the normal rules for dream forms. The target has no ephemeral body but is rather an intangible mental image, unable to interact physically while in Twilight and forced to use magic to do anything. However, they are immune to physical harm, though not mind-affecting powers. While projected, the target's body is comatose and they are unaware of its physical state. If the projection dies, the mind returns to the body, which gains the Soul Shocked condition. With Spirit 2, you may project the target into the Shadow, across the Gauntlet.
Psychic Reprogramming lets you alter (Potency) aspects of the target from among Virtue, Vice, Short-Term Aspiration, Long-Term Aspiration, Obsession, a non-physical Persistent Condition, moving one dot between any two Social skills or moving one dot between any two Mental skills. For 1 Reach, you may also move dots between any two Social Attributes or any two Mental Attributes.
Terrorize overwhelms the target with fear, causing the Insensate tilt for the duration or until the tilt is resolved, whichever comes first. For 1 Reach, you instead inflict the Broken condition.

Mind 5 spells include:
Amorality, which removes either the target's Virtue or Vice. Without Virtue, the target gets 2 Willpower rather than 1 from indulging Vice. Without Vice, the target cannot perform any activity that would be a breaking point or Act of Hubris. Witness horrific or horrible deeds still causes breaking points for Sleepers.
No Exit traps the target in their own mind for the duration, rendering them unable to do anything but play out a continuous loop in their mind. Thoughts cannot enter or exit, and they appear near-catatonic to others. Attempts to read their mind or memories reveal the thought loop. Supernatural attempts to force new thoughts cause a Clash of wills.
Mind Wipe removes large chunks of memory, causing the Amnesia condition for the duration, covering (Potency) months of time chosen by you. For 1 Reach, the memories erased need not be a continuous span. For 2 Reach, the effect is Lasting.
Possession sends your consciousness into the target, taking control of it via the Possessed Condition. You obey all possession rules for ephemeral entities except as follows. You may use any of your Mind spells to read their mind, and you may spend 1 Mana to use your own social or mental attributes instead of theirs. You always use the target's physical attributes, but can spend 1 Mana to reduce the -3 penalty to physical actions to -0. While possessing your target, your body is comatose as per Psychic Projection.
Psychic Genesis generates a self-aware consciousness in Twilight, with traits as a rank 1 Goetia. It exists as your loyal servant for the duration, and you may direct it without need for more spells. For 1 Reach, it counts as a Sleepwalker for purposes of assisting in ritual casting. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, it's rank 2.
Social Networking grants the target (Potency) dots in one of Merits, Contacts or Status.

Next time: Prime

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




oriongates posted:

As a result, many Enlightened also refer to the Realm of Flesh as the Dream (oh my god! why do you have so many names for the same thing?! So far the human world has been called the Realm of Flesh, the Mundane and the Dream and I bet there's more to come)
This is all Vampire's fault.

This isn't common to all 90s games, but it is for those that fit into the "dark modern fantasy" mold. Vampire had three different glossaries of vampire slang--one that most Kindred use, one for archaic terms mostly used by stuffy old Grandpa Munsters and their hangers-on, and one used by the punk anarchist vampires who want to tear the system down.

White Wolf's followers apparently took this as a sign that you could make your setting more real-seeming by having three jargon words to describe the same concept. Immortal is lousy with jargon words, but that's mostly due to trying to stuff far too much mythological detail into a corebook. I think the phenomenon reached its peak with Everlasting, wherein each type of monster gets their own glossary of as many as 60-odd jargon terms, with a lot of overlap in meaning.

FMguru posted:

Eh, bloated elfgame self-importance goes way back.
True, but as far as I know, it was this era of design when we started regularly seeing games proclaim that their game was equivalent to theatre, or a vehicle for self-improvement on par with the Mahayana. Another thing that probably reached its absolute peak in Everlasting.

Evil Mastermind posted:

As I've said many times before, Torg really is the pinnacle of 90's RPG design. Yeah, Rifts is up there, but the crazy is more in the mechanical bloat and kitchen-sink setting approach.
I don't see Rifts as being "90s design" at all, at least not in terms of the rules. The rules are pure "some guy's AD&D houserules with a bunch of junk bolted on." Based on its rules and its release date, I'm inclined to say it could have been the first heartbreaker, but it was successful by offering more, more, more than all those generic fantasy games.

wdarkk posted:

Dexterity as a god-stat?
I want to point this out because it annoys me so, so much. There's no reason this should be so persistent in RPG design when it's just a remnant of D&D's six ability scores.

The problem isn't just "Dex is god" but also "Strength is useless." There are tons and tons and tons and tons of games where Strength only factors into how much you can lift and a bonus to hand-to-hand damage, in settings where those things hardly matter. Separating Strength from Constitution is a bit of outmoded "common sense," nevermind that it doesn't make sense to combine all kinds of physical coordination or mental acuity into one ability.

Bieeardo posted:

Early editions of Shadowrun didn't even have that. They just strongly suggested wasting precious skill dice on stuff like trivia.

Night10194 posted:

Don't forget most of those skills being useless, but players being told they ought to have points in 'em for 'realism'.
I think this is a significantly underrated aspect of the social contract that comes bundled with a lot of RPGs, especially from that era. At least, I rarely see it discussed.

The designers make a game. It's not very well-balanced. They make a bunch of character options and some are clearly better than others. The players are directed to spend a limited number of points to buy these options, which they will use to try to succeed at the game. Then the designers' GMing advice says "If your players spend their points only on things they think will be useful, shame and punish them!" They're setting players up for bickering and hostility to shunt blame away from their lovely design.

So the social contract for the game now includes the expectation that you have to sacrifice some of your character resources on the altar of Roleplaying, lest thou be declared a munchkin and a heretic. In my view, this is essentially superstition. It's no different from proclaiming that you aren't really roleplaying if you don't hang garlic on the door while you do it.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

The designers make a game. It's not very well-balanced. They make a bunch of character options and some are clearly better than others. The players are directed to spend a limited number of points to buy these options, which they will use to try to succeed at the game. Then the designers' GMing advice says "If your players spend their points only on things they think will be useful, shame and punish them!" They're setting players up for bickering and hostility to shunt blame away from their lovely design.

So the social contract for the game now includes the expectation that you have to sacrifice some of your character resources on the altar of Roleplaying, lest thou be declared a munchkin and a heretic. In my view, this is essentially superstition. It's no different from proclaiming that you aren't really roleplaying if you don't hang garlic on the door while you do it.

There's also the fact that, players being players, they of course want to buy things that will let them actually do things in game and that will be specifically relevant to the plot. A lot of games could really do with something like Ironclaw's Career and Race stats, or other ways of saying 'Yes I'm this thing and have some passing knowledge with all the various trivialities of it, now let me spend my points on being able to do neat stunts and have gameplay options.'

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


Hostile V posted:

  • So this real world ethnic group is like, magic, man.
  • Oh man these views on sex and gender aren't gonna age well.
  • You know what's cool and edgy? Leather and drugs and drinking. Neither of these will have a downside.
  • You gotta, like, reject corporates culture and yuppie culture, man. Industry and adulthood are the devil.
  • Throw some cleavage in there.
  • Hello local bar, we are 90s RPG and we're cooler and gonna rock harder than D&D! This is our first song, "We're Telling A Story, Not Playing A Game".

I like to think that the opening chapter of Black Crusade is a parody of 90s "Open Your Eyes, Maaaaan!" writing. But that could just be me reading too much into it.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



SirPhoebos posted:

I like to think that the opening chapter of Black Crusade is a parody of 90s "Open Your Eyes, Maaaaan!" writing. But that could just be me reading too much into it.
Considering how Black Crusade is about swearing allegiance to Chaos to run Marineamania all over the Imperium parts of the galaxy, probably.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Zereth posted:

I was thinking of the core book adventure where you have a strictly limited timeframe to A: get to, B: draw the right cards to, and C: make your rolls to turn off the doomsday device.

Oh and the PCs won't know this and are attacked by undead pirates when they set foot on the thing the doomsday device is in.


"Glad" to see they don't let up on that bullshit.

Funnily enough, that's one of the few times they told the GM what would happen if the PCs failed.

Of course, what would happen was that the Earth's rotation would stop, everyone'd be dead within three months, and you started the campaign over from scratch.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Night10194 posted:

There's also the fact that, players being players, they of course want to buy things that will let them actually do things in game and that will be specifically relevant to the plot. A lot of games could really do with something like Ironclaw's Career and Race stats, or other ways of saying 'Yes I'm this thing and have some passing knowledge with all the various trivialities of it, now let me spend my points on being able to do neat stunts and have gameplay options.'

Later editions of Shadowrun do actually give you a separate pool of skill points that's entirely for knowledge and trivia skills.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Another relic of the nineties was the sample character / character template bit, in which it was assumed that the conventional means of making characters what were warding people away from RPGs, and so things would be either boiled down to making a few choices or no choices at all. Between White Wolf, Pinnacle, and AEG, we were buried in sample characters in their supplements, which I'm not sure I ever saw anybody use. Maybe as inspiration, but I never heard of somebody actually just photocopying the sheet of the Invisigoth or Kakita Artisan to actually use as intended.The fact they were often in secondary books means by definition that if you were picking up Clanbook: Fuckovs, you had probably mastered the character creation system for any of the games in question (which were rarely strenuous affairs anyway) so they were just an amazingly vestigial way to fill page count. About the best you could say about them as that those sections often had nice art...

Halloween Jack posted:

The designers make a game. It's not very well-balanced. They make a bunch of character options and some are clearly better than others. The players are directed to spend a limited number of points to buy these options, which they will use to try to succeed at the game. Then the designers' GMing advice says "If your players spend their points only on things they think will be useful, shame and punish them!" They're setting players up for bickering and hostility to shunt blame away from their lovely design.

So the social contract for the game now includes the expectation that you have to sacrifice some of your character resources on the altar of Roleplaying, lest thou be declared a munchkin and a heretic. In my view, this is essentially superstition. It's no different from proclaiming that you aren't really roleplaying if you don't hang garlic on the door while you do it.

I ran into this attitude in regards to Exalted 3e lately; it hasn't actually gone away. It's bizarre when you're looking at systems that are trivial to fix, but people bow down at the designer altar rather than fix what have been known issues for decades now, and then slap people for gaming a painfully gameable system.

There's also the alternate bit where some character types become banned by the community, too, either because they're broken or just simple unpopularity. I remember it a lot from White Wolf games where people are like "if you play Grim Shitlords you're some kind of munchkin rear end in a top hat-". Well, if that's so, why did they put Grim Shitlords in the game? Let me play a Grim Shitlord just once! It's infuriating.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

I don't know if it's a 90s game thing specifically but one reason no one uses premade example characters out of an RPG is that without fail they're always built incorrectly. I don't mean "they aren't at peak optimization," I mean they're built using faulty math, older versions of systems before stuff was changed, have abilities that they couldn't legally take due to lacking prerequisites, and are otherwise riddled with mistakes...and they're frequently terrible at their purported areas of expertise as well.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Asimo posted:

I hate this more than everything else shown about this loving game so far. Well, almost everything, but "literally stealing other people's work" is a pretty succinct summary of shittyness.

But isn't the fanart itself a form of stealing other people's work? They just brought balance to the Weird Transformation Fetish Force.

FMguru posted:

We talk a lot about nineties RPG design and its pathologies in this thread, and I thought I'd sit down and try to enumerate all the traits that make an RPG a specifically nineties RPG. Here's what I came up with:

- Dice mechanic that tries to be unusual and clever and mostly ends up not working and is hilariously broken
- Badly implemented ads/disads system
- Balance is a joke
- Rules are often very vague or confusing and don’t work and this is excused away (rule zero! make your own decisions! if you’re getting bogged down in the rules you’re missing the point! excuse me it’s ROLE playing not ROLE playing, etc.)
- Lots of talk about narrativism with no mechanical support, or counter-mechanical support (i.e. hyper-detailed combat rules)
- Complicated world setting with tons of factions and subgroups
- Factions relate to each other as bitchy high-school cliques
- Often too many redundant factions
- Little in-setting explanation for cross-faction group cooperation
- Often, little explanation of what your characters are supposed to DO
- Game and setting have dozens of proper noun Words used to describe things, with their definitions hidden away and always much later in the book than the Word was first used. Words are often pretentious and portentous and derived from latin or something fancy like that.
- Books full of padding, both content (in-character narration, unreliable narration, fiction, potted history, documents and journals) and layout (space-eating page borders, big margins, large fonts
- Actively unreadable layouts (busy, grey screens, handwriting fonts)
- Often terrible organization (bad tables of contents, useless or missing indices, etc.)
- Supplement treadmill
- Iconic characters (unkillable, do everything, don’t follow the actual rules, story is about them not the PCs)
- Metaplot threaded through the supplements. Switcheroos, revelations, what is really going on, changes to the settings, secrets that were kept from the GM
- Scenario support is often very lacking (because of the metaplot)
- Obvious fishing for media tie-ins (novels, video games, comics, TV series, whatever)

*Writes down this game design gold*

I think you're missing "Insistence on using a unique, 'flavourful' dictionary that not only replaces most if not all standard roleplaying terms, but also makes it impossible to understand the setting unless you've skimmed the entire book for the random chunks of dictionary entries. Twice."

Halloween Jack posted:

And White Wolf had already made a Street Fighter game that was better designed than Exalted. And most of their other games.

Man, how cool would a Exalted x Chronicles Kickstarter be?

(The final boss will of course be an Infernal Beast with SNK Boss Syndrome)

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kai Tave posted:

I don't know if it's a 90s game thing specifically but one reason no one uses premade example characters out of an RPG is that without fail they're always built incorrectly. I don't mean "they aren't at peak optimization," I mean they're built using faulty math, older versions of systems before stuff was changed, have abilities that they couldn't legally take due to lacking prerequisites, and are otherwise riddled with mistakes...and they're frequently terrible at their purported areas of expertise as well.
I remember when Mutants & Masterminds first came out, and not only were the archetype sample characters built wrong, the replacement eratta'd templates were also built wrong.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Evil Mastermind posted:

I remember when Mutants & Masterminds first came out, and not only were the archetype sample characters built wrong, the replacement eratta'd templates were also built wrong.

Current edition has an archetype wasting points by not making use of Arrays. Other archetypes are a few points short of hitting their Power Level benchmark in a few areas, making them weaker in combat for no reason (which is especially bothersome as these are typically the guys without superstrength and energy blasts, who already have problems as they are typically focused on hitting and dodging, not dealing and taking damage). An actual sample hero is a Construct said to make use of stunting. There is no stunting for Constructs.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 17:05 on May 12, 2016

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Kai Tave posted:

Later editions of Shadowrun do actually give you a separate pool of skill points that's entirely for knowledge and trivia skills.

I still really like that idea.

Kai Tave posted:

I don't know if it's a 90s game thing specifically but one reason no one uses premade example characters out of an RPG is that without fail they're always built incorrectly.

I'm trying to remember which game it was, it might even be first ed Shadowrun again, but the designers of Game X actually made a note that their pregens don't work out. I remember even then thinking, 'What the gently caress is the point, then?'

Evil Mastermind posted:

I remember when Mutants & Masterminds first came out, and not only were the archetype sample characters built wrong, the replacement eratta'd templates were also built wrong.

M&M2 looked the same way at first glance, because they made heavy use of the trade-off rules to shift the balance of poo poo like hit and defense numbers, but didn't make a note of it on the sheets anywhere. Drove me nuts, until I found the paragraph-long rule myself.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Kai Tave posted:

Later editions of Shadowrun do actually give you a separate pool of skill points that's entirely for knowledge and trivia skills.
The funny thing is, while this is partly to encourage you to give your PC skills that ground them in the setting, like Elven Wines, Bushido Philosophy, and Combat Biking Fandom, you have every incentive to put the points in skills like Corporate Security Procedures and Smuggler Havens instead.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Another relic of the nineties was the sample character / character template bit, in which it was assumed that the conventional means of making characters what were warding people away from RPGs, and so things would be either boiled down to making a few choices or no choices at all. Between White Wolf, Pinnacle, and AEG, we were buried in sample characters in their supplements, which I'm not sure I ever saw anybody use. Maybe as inspiration, but I never heard of somebody actually just photocopying the sheet of the Invisigoth or Kakita Artisan to actually use as intended.The fact they were often in secondary books means by definition that if you were picking up Clanbook: Fuckovs, you had probably mastered the character creation system for any of the games in question (which were rarely strenuous affairs anyway) so they were just an amazingly vestigial way to fill page count. About the best you could say about them as that those sections often had nice art...
For one, It's easy, and lets the writers insert in-jokes and/or recreate a TV show character as a vampire (or whatever). A Gangrel clanbook has a character that is obviously a female Indiana Jones, and a Toreador one has Rob Liefeld. Over time this went from in-jokey and mildly clever to unbelievably lazy. It reached its terminal point in the Hollow Ones book, where all the characters are blatant ripoffs and just say "You want to be like [movie character], he is your idol."

Second, in White Wolf's case in particular, the fandom's concept of the various splats ossified over time. I believe the sample characters were meant to shake up your idea of what kind of Brujah, Black Fury, Euthanatos, etc. you could play.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I ran into this attitude in regards to Exalted 3e lately; it hasn't actually gone away. It's bizarre when you're looking at systems that are trivial to fix, but people bow down at the designer altar rather than fix what have been known issues for decades now, and then slap people for gaming a painfully gameable system.
White Wolf established a venerable tradition of being downright spiteful toward the idea that you should even understand how your rules work. (As expressed on message boards.)

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:19 on May 12, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Halloween Jack posted:

And White Wolf had already made a Street Fighter game that was better designed than Exalted. And most of their other games.

Bear in mind "better" did not mean "good", though. It's surprisingly okay as long as you ignore the supplements, but still suffers from a lot of issues typical of White Wolf games of that era without even getting into stuff like grapple loops.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Evil Mastermind posted:

Funnily enough, that's one of the few times they told the GM what would happen if the PCs failed.

Of course, what would happen was that the Earth's rotation would stop, everyone'd be dead within three months, and you started the campaign over from scratch.
Yeah, but they obviously didn't expect it to be the by far most likely outcome of the adventure.

Halloween Jack posted:

The funny thing is, while this is partly to encourage you to give your PC skills that ground them in the setting, like Elven Wines, Bushido Philosophy, and Combat Biking Fandom, you have every incentive to put the points in skills like Corporate Security Procedures and Smuggler Havens instead.
Also, figuring out how much your GM is going to care about languages and taking just enough to deal with that.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Bear in mind "better" did not mean "good", though. It's surprisingly okay as long as you ignore the supplements, but still suffers from a lot of issues typical of White Wolf games of that era without even getting into stuff like grapple loops.
Grapplespam has a readymade counter in "Mister Jab."* You can't move, attack, then move again, but you can interrupt another character's move. So if someone is grapplespamming you then you just wait for them to move into your hex, interrupt with a fast Maneuver, step back one hex and hit them. It's why grapplers can't just grapple.

Street Fighter would need some work to make it a balanced game, but the foundation is surprisingly strong, enough that I think I could do it myself if I really wanted to play a campaign today.


*Term coined by "Musashi," creator of the best SF fanpage I know of.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Kai Tave posted:

I don't know if it's a 90s game thing specifically but one reason no one uses premade example characters out of an RPG is that without fail they're always built incorrectly. I don't mean "they aren't at peak optimization," I mean they're built using faulty math, older versions of systems before stuff was changed, have abilities that they couldn't legally take due to lacking prerequisites, and are otherwise riddled with mistakes...and they're frequently terrible at their purported areas of expertise as well.

The first edition of L5R was terrible for this: a ton of example characters had stats and skills higher than the character creation cap of starting+2 or 4, whichever is lower.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


MonsieurChoc posted:

The first edition of L5R was terrible for this: a ton of example characters had stats and skills higher than the character creation cap of starting+2 or 4, whichever is lower.

You'd think some designers would take a look at the concepts they're generating for characters, realize the system's point limits don't let them create those concepts, and go 'Hey maybe we should rework the point system'

But naw.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



And I believe WGA write ups, though the game's newer - almost every character breaks their rules, and are incredibly lazily done - it seems pretty prevalent in the hobby.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Halloween Jack posted:

For one, It's easy, and lets the writers insert in-jokes and/or recreate a TV show character as a vampire (or whatever). A Gangrel clanbook has a character that is obviously a female Indiana Jones, and a Toreador one has Rob Liefeld. Over time this went from in-jokey and mildly clever to unbelievably lazy. It reached its terminal point in the Hollow Ones book, where all the characters are blatant ripoffs and just say "You want to be like [movie character], he is your idol."
One of the original Clanbook: Brujah templates was Vanilla Ice.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Halloween Jack posted:

The funny thing is, while this is partly to encourage you to give your PC skills that ground them in the setting, like Elven Wines, Bushido Philosophy, and Combat Biking Fandom, you have every incentive to put the points in skills like Corporate Security Procedures and Smuggler Havens instead.

I still really like how the later Wizardry computer games did it: skills are divided into different categories like Physical and Academic and Weapons, and during character creation and leveling up your pool of points is generated and spent separately for each category.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Night10194 posted:

You'd think some designers would take a look at the concepts they're generating for characters, realize the system's point limits don't let them create those concepts, and go 'Hey maybe we should rework the point system'

But naw.

Well, that's one of the eternal hallmarks of bad game writing: one-way design. If you're writing a character or sub-system, then realize that there's a problem with how it integrates into the core mechanics, you don't go back and adjust, you bolt a new sub-system in to fix it.

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MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


As for Street Fighter, having actually played in a pretty fun game for a few months, I'd never call it's mechanics particularly good. But we had fun.

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