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Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Iron Gods does sound pretty cool.

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Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Iron Gods does sound cool but I think reign in winter should be gone over first.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kurieg posted:

:shobon: That's probably the best damning praise I could have ever asked for, I'll see about getting another chapter up some time this weekend. No promises though, I've got a graduation to attend tomorrow that lasts until question marks.

The "it getting more attention than it should" part I meant is for Beast, not your review, for the record.

I'm very unlikely to naysay any review here. There are definitely some I'd do differently, but I'm not the one doing them!

Libertad! posted:

Honestly, yeah, such reviews are important. Barring some exceptions, there's an unwillingness to give negative reviews. Nobody wants to feel like the bad guy if it comes time to tear apart a cruddy product which one guy poured his heart and soul into making. I've gotten negative reviews and criticisms of my own work, and while it doesn't feel good worthwhile criticism can help a writer improve.

Yeah. Somebody took me to task recently for one of my reviews, which can be pretty rough when it comes out of nowhere, but I guess it's just fair trade. I've probably softened over the years I've done these reviews because I worry I'm being too rough, but a lot of the folks I criticize have doubled or tripled down on their foibles and I just have to remind myself of that.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

The "it getting more attention than it should" part I meant is for Beast, not your review, for the record.

Don't worry, I got your meaning. The sense I've been getting the past two weeks is "Thank god Kurieg is insane enough to review this poo poo because we need something to point at and go 'this, this is why'." from both this thread and my co-hosts.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Kurieg posted:

Iron Gods does sound cool but I think reign in winter should be gone over first.

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




Personally I found Reign of Winter to be better put together than Iron Gods, so let's see that one reviewed first.

gourdcaptain
Nov 16, 2012



Kurieg posted:

Don't worry, I got your meaning. The sense I've been getting the past two weeks is "Thank god Kurieg is insane enough to review this poo poo because we need something to point at and go 'this, this is why'." from both this thread and my co-hosts.

Yeah, keep it up, it's a useful thing to be able to point at when trying to explain this mess to people.

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


Alien Rope Burn posted:

I think Beast is a more important review than people give it credit for. It's probably getting more attention than it deserves overall (in this and other threads), of course. I'd rather see bad RPGs like it just die a quiet death, but with it hanging onto the top RPG sales charts right now, raising awareness is pretty important. And there's going to be the eternal train of people asking "so what's so bad about Beast?" in the World of Darkness thread and elsewhere, and having something to just point people to instead of having to explain it endlessly should help out future generations.

What ratings is it getting on DriveThruRPG

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Alien Rope Burn posted:

I'm honestly perplexed at how low-level parties are supposed to survive the early portions of Reign of Winter.

I think Beast is a more important review than people give it credit for. It's probably getting more attention than it deserves overall (in this and other threads), of course. I'd rather see bad RPGs like it just die a quiet death, but with it hanging onto the top RPG sales charts right now, raising awareness is pretty important. And there's going to be the eternal train of people asking "so what's so bad about Beast?" in the World of Darkness thread and elsewhere, and having something to just point people to instead of having to explain it endlessly should help out future generations.

The review is important, and I read it diligently. The page long rehash of every comment anyone said about Beast previously every time there's a Beast post is the part I tend to skip.

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012




Part 7: A List of Redundant Character Sheets – A to J

I just realized something while I was writing this part: If the WWC considers Curse and some Mentalism spells to be a form of assault, why do all of the WWC accredited schools that have write ups have courses on them? There’s no indication they’re “Defense Against the Dark Arts” types of classes.

Anyway…

Annabelle Deville posted:

Wickedness is a life style choice and along with it comes the dangers of rivals and heroes.

Rivals want to prove they are far more intelligent and powerful than you and heroes want to spoil your fun. The two have very few things in common .. Yet I've discovered they both my equally amusing toads.

My most steadfast is my cousin, Janette who spends her time helping mortals, trying to make me less wicked and generally being a goody-goody.

I've done horrible things to her, And just like the idiot hero she is she keeps coming back for more. Which is wy I've come to the conclusion that heroes are touched in the head or have yet to meet a proper villain to prove they are touched in the head.

Still Heroes are much better than self righteous vigilantes who are not so much touched in the head , but suffer from some anger management issues and have no respect from classic hero vs. villain protocol.

The last chapter is just a bunch of NPC character bios. There’s a blurb before everything starts about making villains for your game. It’s just basic common sense stuff and “don’t make the same character over and over”.

I’ve noticed going through these character bios that, while they’re mostly just copy-pasted from the core, some of the more questionable bits have been removed and some things have been added in an attempt to make the characters a bit more fleshed out. So there is some indication that Harris has caught on to some of the problems with the game and made some attempt to fix them. Or at least paid lip-service to them.



Captain Alphonse de Oso

Alphonse is your generic dashing rogue type of pirate who does it because it’s fun and exciting. He probably talks like Jack Sparrow. Like Boss Rogon, he comes from Farsia, a magical steampunk version of Earth that was constantly at war with the lovely evil empire that Lucinda is from before heroes killed her parents. During the confusion caused by the Nightbanes’s deaths, he stole one of their “dimensional galleons”, hired a crew (that is completely loyal to him so don’t even try to incite a mutiny), and now travels the multiverse looking for adventure and treasure. His first stop was Oz. Yes, that Oz. He tried to raid the Emerald City, but failed. Then stole a magical artifact from an almost magically dead world after almost getting stuck on it and jumped to the Underworld. Then he pissed off Hades by stealing 3,000 Joss and his favorite coat. He’s been traveling the multiverse for 2 years. Most of the allies he has in Farsia assume he’s dead. Some of the plot ideas for him include him disguising himself as a teacher to get at something, and wanting help activating an artifact called the “Eye of Echidna”, because you’d definitely want the help of a bunch of 12-year-olds and not a grown adult expert in such things. Then again, stat blocks being the way they are in this game…

Alphonse is credited to someone named Kalen S. Lewis. Based on a quick Google search, he looks like a self-insert. Or Soto assumed he was and just based him on the dude’s pictures. Who knows.

Alphonse is a Rank 3 NPC. He is a “Mortal-Charmer” with the Entertaining (the Entertainer talent without the ability to add MTR bonuses to spells) and Witty (can use Joke or Insult with Charm; completely different from the version in Respelled) talents, the Farsian heritage (free ranks of Mysticism and Crytozoology, can purchase magic items, can have Farsian occupations, and get a nebulous bonus to Magic), and no Knacks. He has a D10 Social, D8 Body and Mind, and D6 everything else (with a +1 in Magic). He has 95 mundane and 11 magical skill points. His clique gives him a +2 to resist fear-inducing skills, abilities, and spells, and let him spend a zap (up to 3) to add a +1 to a roll or resistance or ignore damage. These are not the abilities that are given to the Mortal-Charmer template that shows up in a later supplement. Per his heritage, Alphonse gets to have an occupation. His is a “Performer (Rank 5)”, which gives him the “Maestro” ability, which lets him regain a zap point with a successful Hard Singing roll. His other abilities are “Calming Song” (spend a zap and roll Singing vs Resist Magic to give people within earshot a -5 to all of their rolls), “Ballad” (spend a zap, sing about a person or group, Singing vs Resist Magic or the targets get a -3 to resist Social rolls and a -1 Hit or Dodge from the subject of the song,), and “Glib Tongue” (+2 to Fib rolls against a specific target for 6 hours if they succeed on a Fib roll beforehand). Along with the galleon, his equipment includes a crew of 12 lackeys and a night metal cutlass (which inflicts wounds that can only be healed magically and drains a zap from the target when it hits). No, his bio doesn’t mention anything about him being a singer before he took up piracy.



Anna Raj

Anna has the same bio from the core. The only difference is she was born 421 years ago instead of 406. That is still long before the British Empire had any control over India. So the part about her family living under their rule and wanting to raise her as a proper British lady still makes no sense. She also hangs out with Harris’s second self-insert and helps his organization out on the weeks when she decides to play Robin Hood.

For stats, Anna is now a Rank 3 NPC instead of a Rank 4 one. The Urchin talent from her other sheet has been replaced with Trickster. Her Magic die has been bumped down to a D8+1 (instead of a D12+2). She’s gained ranks in Divination and Offense and lost two in Protection. Her illegal ability to turn into a snake with only Alteration 1 has been replaced with proper signature spells. These are “Danger Sense” (Divination 1; senses traps and gives a +4 against them), “Fumble” (Curse 1; makes target drop carried objects), “Invisibility” (Illusion 3; makes character invisible to one sense), and “Forget” (Mentalism 3; makes person forget up to a day’s worth of events). For new equipment, she has a Bag of Holding and a cobra familiar that can turn invisible and is either named “Djinn” or is part-djinn. It just has “(Djinn)” next to it. No explanation given.



Argus Society Member

Like minions, Argus Society members are given a set stat block (with D6s and D6 +1s in everything) that is added on to by assigning them a role. They’re just the specialties from 13 Magazine with the Techie renamed to “Engineer”. Each specialty gives a +1 to an attribute die, 3 ranks in 4 skills, and a special ability, which are copy/pasted from 13 Magazine, typos and all. While they can pick their Talents, all members have the same heritage that gives them a nebulous bonus to Magic, lets them see ghosts and magical stuff, and makes them immune to mortal avoidance charms.



Arthur Pendragon:

There’s nothing new in Arthur’s bio. It’s just the one from the core. Though Silas Black and various Echidnists want to get their hands on Excalibur now. The former because he thinks it’s the greatest witch-killing weapon, and the latter because they think it prevents Echidna from awakening somehow.

Arthur is an “Immortal-Leader”. The Otherkin book is not out at the time of this writing. So if you’re not Harris or Soto, have fun trying to figure out what that means. His attribute dice have been lowered; D8s in everything except Social (D10) and Senses (D6). His weird unusable “Warrior: Righteous” trait has been replaced with the Brave talent and a heritage called “Ancient Item”, which gives Excalibur and himself extra points of armor and lets him spend a zap to know where it is. Along with all the buffs to his physical stats, he also has the ability to heal people and remove poisons and diseases by spending a zap and touching them. He doesn’t have Excalibur’s scabbard anymore, and the sword itself still has its crazy portal-making abilities, damage buffs, and magical immunities.



Denora Desade

Denora’s bio is more fleshed out in this book. She was born 75 years ago in Nice (spelled “Niece” in Coventry), France. (Presumably. This bio just says “somewhere in France.) Her parents owned a “small and struggling” winery. Somehow, they didn’t equate having a good product with making more money, so they used her as slave labor and I guess tried a bunch of crazy schemes that didn’t involve making wine or… something. When she was 11, the staff of Coventry discovered her and brought her to the school. The power and wealth on display turned her into an evil poo poo. She dropped her accent, learned English, and started pretending to be a “posh” British sorceress. (Which brings up another question: What does Coventry do about the whole language barrier thing with students from non-English speaking countries?) After school, she moved to Los Angeles and helped prop up the elite of Hollywood. Then she became the Great High Witch and moved to San Francisco. Naturally, being evil, she wants to become the Exalted Enchantress. Witch hunters on the east coast, not the west, want to kill her, and while she has allies among the Highbinders, she herself is not officially one. Right. One of her plot hooks is forcing the player characters to be friends with Claudia. Helena was still her roommate, but Denora’s age has been bumped up by 25 years. So unless Harris bumped up Helena’s age and didn’t see the need to point that out anywhere, Denora was still in Coventry at 25 and rooming with an exceptionally talented fetus.

Denora is a rank 5 NPC. She’s now a member of the Brat clique with the Narcissistic and Sneaky talents and the Enchantress heritage. The blurb for Enchantress doesn’t mention some of the stuff she should be getting. Her Mind and Will dice have gone down a size (D8 and D6) and her Magic is now down to a D10+1 (from a D12+5). She now has 60 mundane, 56 magical, and 25 magic ranks. (Highest is still Alteration, but it’s gone down to 5. She also has points in Sympathetic Magic. Which she can’t have if you assume that by “Craft”, they meant “Build/Repair”, which she has no points in.) Along with “Cigar” (which is now an Alteration 5 spell), her signature spells now include “Denora is Always Right” (Mentalism 4; target has to obey Denora and not do stuff she hates), “Improve Life” (Curse 5; improve a person’s life for a week), and “Time Edit” (Time and Space 4; can make a small change to a person’s past a day before). She also gets 5 free points of armor because gently caress you. Along with her cigarette holder wand and car, she has a Purse of Holding and a penthouse apartment that serves as a sanctum.



Dracula

Dracula’s bio’s been tweaked a little bit; Him and Echidna are now lovers (Cthulhus need love too, I guess), and it implies that he was the historic Vlad the Impaler. Near the end of World War II, his sense of duty to “what was once his people” made him betray Ingrid Frieze and the Nazis. (Presumably, this would have been around the time Romania had that coup and switched sides to the Allies.) She tried to kill him with a spell, but thanks to one of his caskets, it just put him in hibernation for 50 years. Now he’s back and plotting to resurrect Echidna with that three keys thing that never comes up. He’s prone to monologing and generally a good dude to women and children that aren’t trying to screw him over.

Dracula is now a rank 7 NPC. His clique is just “Vampire”, his talents are “Cold” and “Jaded”, and his heritage is a new one called “Dabbler”. It gives him the ability to cast spells, free ranks in Casting and Mysticism, and a nebulous boost to his Magic attribute. His attribute dice have been lowered to D8s (Body, Mind, and Senses) and D10s (Will, Social, and Magic). Thanks to his heritage, he has 14 ranks in magic; highest being Shadow. He has a bunch of stat bonus for being a vampire, a vulnerability to gold and haloium weapons, and gets a free rank of “Hyper Movement Flight” and a +1 to rolls against vampires that aren’t part of the Dracul bloodline. He also has 10 points of armor that works against all kinds of damage… because. For equipment, he has 30 points worth of minions (and can use 6 of them to make them a vampire), 5 magical caskets (one in the Underworld) that make him immune to Divination magic and let him reform in them when he dies, and “The True Castle Dracula” that acts as his sanctum.



Echidnists

Echidnists are handled in the same way as Argus Society members. (While an Echidnist can be any kind of witch beforehand, they always have these templates.) Their base stats are D6s in everything but Social (D4) and Magic (D8), 28 pre-selected mundane skill points, 21 magical skill points, and a heritage that is a little hard to decipher due to no editing and bad image layering.



For equipment, all Echidnists get a Twisted Wand and a Dark Mark Mark of Echidna tattoo that grants them 2 points of armor and a zap point while identifying them as an Echidnist.

Every different type of Echidnist gets a +1 to a attribute die, 3 free ranks in two skills, 2 or 3 ranks in four different Magic types, and a special ability. For types, we have:
  • Cassandra: The diviners of the group who speak to Echidna and tell her will to the others. Their special ability, “Third Eye”, opens a literal third eye on their forehead that lets them see other Echidnists and what they’re doing.
  • Screamer: Chanters who… I guess invoke Echidna’s blessings during meetings. The wording is weird. Their special ability, “Maw”, gives them higher penalties to the effects they give through their evoking abiltiies. Their singing sounds like screaming gibberish to anyone who isn’t an Echidnist. Which makes the one plot hook where the group goes to see a band of them make no sense.
  • Twister: Poor men’s Tzimisce who interrogate others by warping their flesh with their long fingernails or some poo poo. Their special ability lets them do this for one zap and gives the target Body and Social roll penalties for D4 days.
  • Wrangler: The beastmasters of the group. They can summon shadow creatures for free and get a +2 Social bonus to dealing with them. Others don’t like them because they look and smell weird.
  • Umbra: The leaders of the Echidnists and therefore, the best. They get two attribute bonuses instead of one (Mind and Magic) and get cool horns and talons. Their special ability lets them teleport anywhere in the world for one zap.



Gary Reed

Gary still believes in the Witchspiracy and is still a lovely human. Except now, he has more money and equipment thanks to Harris’s second self-insert buying out his tabloid and giving him money. Even he wonders why someone is willing to give him so much money, seeing as he has never found hard proof of the Witchspiracy. Oddly enough, the WWC protects him because they think his presence keeps witches on their toes. The WWC is just trolling everyone now, really.

Gary’s been bumped down to Rank 2. His attributes and traits are the same except for his heritage, “Detective”, which give him a Senses die boost, a +2 to solving puzzles, +1 to find traps, and can make a roll to see if someone is telling the truth. For equipment, he has a car, a camera the size of a matchbox, and a Smart Phone that has a -3 to hack it.



Ingrid Frieze

Witch Hitler no longer killed her parents, and the thing about her only getting ousted from her job as a Magistrate because she killed the wrong person has been changed to her just leaving after realizing that she didn’t believe in the WWC’s policy when it came to mortals. (She is still a student of Reinhexxen though.) The WWC bound her when they caught her during World War II. Since then, she’s been trying to build up her forces in any way that she can. Everyone except the Highbinders, Echidnists, alternate versions of herself, and Queen Gothel want her dead. So she has the distinction of being the one person in this universe that nearly everyone looks at and goes “gently caress that bitch”.

Ingrid is now a Rank 7 NPC. She is a Ringleader with the Critical and Cold talents and the Amazon heritage, despite the fact that her bio makes no mention of her actually being one. She’s got 82 mundane skill points, 46 magical skill points, and 43 magic ranks. (Highest is Alteration, Curses, Offense, and Necromancy with 6. Her Mentalism has been brought down to 4.) Her signature spells are “Bend” (Time and Space 3; -3 to hit her), “Disintegrate” (Offense 5; completely destroys a target), “Ghost Army” (Necromancy 6; calls D4 wraiths), “Hounds of War” (Alteration 6; turns a person into a bull sized wolf that she can control, kind of terrifying), and “Lightning Bolt” (Elementalism 3; does 20 points of damage). She also has 5 points of armor thanks to wards. Along with the soul-sucking ring, she has a hidden sanctum base and thousands of minions, 60 points of which are available at any given moment.



Jezebel Wilkins

Jezebel is 1,638 years old, so her bio about being the daughter of Swedish immigrants from Kansas makes no sense now. I think that might have supposed to have been the year she was born, but that still doesn’t make sense since a lot of the original 13 colonies and the Louisiana territory weren’t even established then. The part about her trying to protect the family cattle from the local native tribe has been changed to her meeting a medicine woman who was just hanging out somewhere outside of her family’s farm.

“Jez”’s Social and Magic dice have gone down to a D8 and a D10 +1, respectively. Her heritage has been changed to “Arcane Aptitude”. She has 64 mundane skill points, 40 magical points, and 34 magic ranks. (Highest is still Divination with 6.) Her signature spells are “Brambles” (Elementalism 3; doesn’t 10 points of damage if you try to escape them), “Cuff” (Conjuration 2; creates handcuffs), “Forget” (Mentalism 3; makes the target forget a day’s worth of events), “Jezzy Sense” (Divination 4; knows if a witch is breaking the law “witin a vitithin a away”), “Reflect” (Protection 3; does what it says), “Six Shooter” (Offense 4; turns her hand into a gun and does 15 damage), and “Silence” (Alteration 2; remove’s the target’s mouth and vocal cords). She also has 5 points of armor on her thanks to wards. Her equipment is her motocycle, her magistrate “bade”, and 20 points of worth of potion pellets.

More characters later.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








NutritiousSnack posted:

What ratings is it getting on DriveThruRPG
It's apparently got 4.3/5 stars, and the three user reviews loved it (though I'm guessing they didn't really dig into the issues). That said, DTRPG has a policy that usually prohibits you from rating a product if you haven't purchased it. Thus I can see that such is a real problem here (because folks who've been turned off by the game here or back in the Kickstarter days won't have purchased it), but as a more general rule I can understand why OBS set that policy in the first place (to prevent bots and spammers from distorting the relevant results).

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


More to the point, there are currently three 5 star reviews, one of which was written before the book came out giving it a glowing review, one of which simply copies, word for word, the press release blurb. And one last one that describes it as a "Build a bear workshop for monsters" which leads me to believe that the person has not read the book at all.


And yes, you have to buy the product to rate it or provide a review. Which, unfortunately, means I can't do either.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


quote:

Voidoids: Winner of the "stupidest name". They resemble floating jellyfish with eyeballs on their tentacles. They can mute, but not neutralize just about any sort of energy. This lets them do things like reduce fires, interfere with radio signals, dim lights etc. Definitely an interesting ability, hampered by the fact that there are no guidelines for doing things like reducing damage from energy sources or actual guidelines for how much you can reduce a signal.

Winner of 'best name', since it's a reference to the 70s no-wave punk band Richard Hell and the Voidoids. They starred in Blank Generation: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TP3x-VdOb44

Speaking of no-wave and noise rock...

quote:

Screamer: Chanters who… I guess invoke Echidna’s blessings during meetings. The wording is weird. Their special ability, “Maw”, gives them higher penalties to the effects they give through their evoking abiltiies. Their singing sounds like screaming gibberish to anyone who isn’t an Echidnist. Which makes the one plot hook where the group goes to see a band of them make no sense.

So they're literal Screaming Females? http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XE0BWA5LZYc

But seriously people see noise rock and noise punk and incoherent metal all the time.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 06:03 on Jun 4, 2016

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:

I think Beast is a more important review than people give it credit for. It's probably getting more attention than it deserves overall (in this and other threads), of course. I'd rather see bad RPGs like it just die a quiet death, but with it hanging onto the top RPG sales charts right now, raising awareness is pretty important. And there's going to be the eternal train of people asking "so what's so bad about Beast?" in the World of Darkness thread and elsewhere, and having something to just point people to instead of having to explain it endlessly should help out future generations.
You would not loving believe how many people really really wanted to believe that Carcosa is worthwhile. I have no idea why. For example, people who have only heard inklings of it would say poo poo like "So I'm looking for a good psionics system for an old-school game and I heard Carcosa's was good...?" And I'd explain that no, it's not.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




I at least skim nearly every review unless it's about a book that I absolutely cannot care about on any level, which are few and far between (but includes nearly every superhero anything—sorry Hostile V). I really appreciate the work that goes into the reviews. Like every other human being on Earth I don't just say that kind of thing enough about the things that I enjoy.

I'm enjoying the Banestorm and Beast reviews, and I'm pretty fascinated by the Planescape stuff since I never really got into that setting even though I love Dark Sun. I enjoyed the podcast about Beast, though the sound was kind of crap even after some alleged fix.

I'm pretty dubious about thinking any of this is all that important, though. Or that 30k critical words about 300k bad words is a better "KEEP AWAY" signpost than just briefly telling someone about Coma Dream Hunter Who Deserved What She Got. It's fun to take apart and examine things, good and bad, but anyone coming to this rodeo is probably already firmly in one or the other mindset of "Eh, whatever" or "Games and gamers can be better" before reading a single word on Something Awful the Garbage Comedy Web Site.

Keep up the good work!

Caustic Soda
Nov 1, 2010


MollyMetroid posted:

Okay so do more people want to see a writeup of Iron Gods (which is a campaign about ascending an AI to godhood and includes a city built on top of a crashed starship) or Reign of Winter (which is about Baba Yaga but involves travel to another planet and a chapter called Rasputin Must Die, in which our heroes go to 1918 Russia and fight Rasputin in a Siberian fortress)? Also available are Wrath of the Righteous (fight demons become demigods), Mummy's Mask (NOT-EGYPT and flying sky pyramids), or Jade Regent (Go to not-Japan and help your friend become empress, also includes bioware style NPC relationship rules.) My personal preference would be one of the first two but if more people want to see one of the others I could be convinced.

Iron Gods, then Reign of Winter.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


BattleTech - A Time of War


BattleTech AToW is the fourth roleplaying game set in the world of BattleTech, the grandaddy of stompy mech wargaming. Unlike the previous editions, it is not called MechWarrior in what I assume is an effort to tie the whole thing closer to the main game line. Action resolution is exactly like in normal BattleTech (with a slight modification), and it offers some nuggets for the wargamers, namely pilot abilities (which have ben ported over to the streamlined spin-off game Alpha Strike) and rules for skirmish-scale fights which I think are a spiritual successor of BattleTroops, a short-lived infantry skirmish spin-off.

So, before we begin with the game proper, let's take a quick overview of the setting, in which I'll totally not forget important stuff because I my first exposure to BattleTech was MechWarrior 4 (plus a demo of MechCommander, but I barely remember anything aside from the opening) and it took me a while to find out what this Clan stuff was all about.
Anyhow, here's the world of BattleTech in a nutshell:

A Universe at War (Aka A Game of Space Thrones)


The default time period of the game.

The main focus of BattleTech is the Inner Sphere, aka most of known space that has been colonized. The huge distances between the various world has led to a resurgence of feudalism, with planetary governors having more or less freedom to rule their world while swearing their loyalty to one of the Great Houses.

The iconic BattleMechs (or just 'Mechs) of the setting entered the picture in the time between the 24th and 28th century known as the Age of War, the first big war that engulfed the entire Inner Sphere. It was during this time that the Great Houses cemented their positions as interstellar players, the so-called Ares Convention was brought to life in order to avoid everyone nuking the crap out of each other (with the side-effect of war becoming a sort of gentlemen's sport, with normal citizens hanging up a different flag depending on whose 'Mechs are currently stomping around), and BattleMechs entered the stage in the form of the amazing Mackie:


Clearly not compensating for anything.

The Age of War ended when the mighty House Cameron (ruler of the Sol system and the surrounding systems) united the other Houses to form the Star League, heralding a Golden Age of lasting peace and amazing technological advances. Unless you live in the Periphery (aka the colonized space surrounding the Inner Sphere proper) that is. Then you got kinda sorta integrated into the Star League via conquest, leading to the people of this region to have a somewhat less rose-tinted view of this era.

The Star League lasted almost two centuries until Stefan Amaris, a Periphery lord and close advisor of House Cameron betrayed said House, annihilating it and taking over the Star League. What followed was a costly civil war between Amaris and his goons and the loyalists under general Aleksandr Kerensky.
When Amaris reign was finally put to an end, the other House more or less immediately started fighting among each other over who would succeed House Cameron. Not very amused by this, Kerensky essentially went "Screw this, I'm out of here" and left with a good chunk of the SLDF (Star League Defense Force) to parts unkown, never to be seen again.

The following three centuries had the Great Houses engage in a grand total of four Succession Wars, with the first two escalating so dramatically that they ditched the Ares Convention entirely and nuked each other into a dark age so hard that they eventually lost the capabilities to build FTL drives.
With their mighty WarShip fleets blown up to the last ship and now left with irreplacable JumpShips, the Houses had no other choice but to revert to a more Ares-Convetion-appropriate kind of warfare (aka dropping a bunch of 'Mechs and other vehicles on a planet to take over the local spaceports).

Terra, the old center of the Star League and House Cameron, was controlled by ComStar during all this time. This organization not only had a monopoly on the HyperPulse Generator (HPG) network (the only kind of FTL communication around), but also horded and maintained lots of Lostech from the Star League era, including the only remaining WarShip fleet, mothballed in a secret location. Suffice to say, nobody wanted to get on their bad side, making Terra the planet least touched by the wars and dark age going on.
During the Succession Wars, StarCom developed some cult-like qualities aking to 40k Tech-Priests, but they eventually mellowed out and had the nutjobs among their ranks hang out in their own sub-faction known as the Word of Blake, named after their founder.

In 3048, the Inner Sphere has finally started to recover some of the technology from the old Star League, when the Clans suddenly showed up.
As it turned out, Kerensky and his fleet colonized a group of systems far away form the Inner Sphere, where they have prepared all this time to eventually return to the Inner Sphere and rebuild the Star League. To do this, they formed a caste-based society with the Glorious Genetically-Enhanced Warrior Master Race on top and the Dirty Normie Peasants at the bottom, big on honour and using a weird slang that reminds me of A Clockwork Orange (because Kerensky was Russian, you see). Think eugenics Klingons.

The Clan Invasion started off pretty badly for the Inner Sphere. Not only did they have to deal with an invasion fleet out of nowhere, but the Clans not only retained Star League technology, but actually improved on it, fielding 'Mechs that were noticably overgunned compared to their Inner Sphere counterparts of the same tonnage.
Eventually, the invasion came to a halt when the forces of the Inner Sphere started to exploit the Clanners' honour codes, and the Clans themselves started arguing among each other over whether their plan to conquer the Inner Sphere and rebuild the Star League by force really works with their old SLDF obligation to protect the Inner Sphere.
Though in a way, they got what they wanted, because the Great Houses banded together to fomr the second Star League. Though the Houses being what they are, the League didn't last particularly long...

... which leads us to 3067, the start of the default time period of AToW. You see, one of the teaching of the World of Blake was that a second Stear League with the WoB as its member would herald a new Golden Age for mankind. They didn't really take the quick disbanding of the League very well - and by that I mean they went totally ballistic, started a Jihad during which they took over Terra and used lots of fancy super weapons, created entire armies of rad killer cyborgs, and allied themselves with Hindu death cult assassins (no kidding) that made even radder killer cyborgs with multiple limbs and stuff. They also employed some dirty tricks like in the halcyon days of the early Succession Wars, bombing cities and destroying more or less irreplacable infrastructure. Fun times.

The Word of Blake eventually met their doom when they found out that starting to use nukes again does in fact result in everyone else banding together to nuke them back in return. The followng decades went relatively peaceful (aside from some shenanigans in the Clan homeworlds like a scientist caste revolt and the Clans who stayed feeling that the Clans who invaded the Inner Sphere have lost their way or something).
Things went more interesting in the 32th century, when the sudden blackout of the HPG network caused another Dark Age, an era of turmoil in which the Republic of the Sphere (a sort of spiritual successor of the Star League) tries to restore order.
Even this era is starting to come to an end, for it seems that the Clans may unite and become one...

Fun facts about the BattleTech setting

The only aliens in the setting are animals, and maybe a few kinds of plants*. This is because the writers felt aliens would be either too primitive to matter, too advanced and/or aliens to interact with, or too similar to humans (they're probably not big fans of aliens that are just humans with weird skin color and head ridges). There are also no ancient artifacts of some kind of precursor alien civilization; the only ruins to be found are from old Star League expeditions. All in all, each and every conflict in the setting is derived from humans doing what humans do best: being dicks to each other.
This is not to say that the humans don't find it weird that they're the only kind of sentient life around. In fact they freaked the hell out during the early days of the Clan Invasion because they thought they were attacked by aliens.

*) Okay, there are some tribal bird people, but many fans are eager to deny their existance despite the fact they only appear in one early novel and live so far away from the Inner Sphere as to not actually matter at all. There are also some tool-using primates around, but that doesn't sound particularly fance. Oh, and there's a species of giant monster whales with Aquaman powers who have apparently declared a war on the humans living on their ocean planet, which sounds pretty nifty, to be honest.

Likewise, there is no kind of supernatural stuff to be found. No psychics, no Force, and no Newtypes - unless you count the rare Phantom 'Mech incidents, in which a 'Mech managed to get hit with at least one Alpha Strike at point-blank range without getting hit a single time. Some kind of actual supernatural ability, a super-secret form of ECM, or maybe just hack writing? The world may never know.

Probably well-known, but the creators of BattleTech ran into a couple lega troubles early on. The original name of the game was BattleDroids, which obviously didn't flew well with George Lucas' lawyers, and they licenses many mecha designs from old shows like Macross, Dougram and Crusher Joe, which led to some license shenanigans because they didn't have the license for the actual shows (unlike companies like Harmony Gold) and who knows if the people they got the licenses from actually had the right to sell them and I don't even want to go into much detail because this is very confusing and every BattleTech grog seems to have their own version of what actually happend and this is all a very big :can: so I'll stop now.
The end result was that these licensed 'Mech became Unseen, still existing in the setting but without visual representations of any kind. Years later, most if not all of them would resurface as the Reseen, with newly commissioned designs that often beared little resemblance to the original, but where nifty in their own right.


The Marauder before and after the great purge.

The Dark Age era was actually created by WizKids for their MechWarrior: Dark Age spinoff game, with the Jihad mentioned in the fluff. Catalyst Game Labs where contractually obligated to include both events in their evolving metaplot, with opinions divided on how well this worked out.

Next Time: Lets start character creation by taking a look at the factions to pick from.

Nancy_Noxious
Apr 10, 2013

by Smythe


If you people want to REALLY be consistent about warning people about horrible games through FF reviews, you should always include a link to the FF of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook after EACH post about the Beginners Box (someones first RPG should not be Pathfinder) and the Adventure Paths (themes might make that pile of poo poo seem nicer than it really is).

You say drivethru Beast reviews are misleading. Well, latest posts about Pathfinder on this thread have been trying to sell it as a good, not-lovely game as well, which seems just as dishonest.

Nancy_Noxious fucked around with this message at 13:03 on Jun 4, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


There's a pretty severe divide these days between people who like where Pathfinder has gone in more recent material and those who think it's still rotten at the core. I'm in the latter camp, at least until they put out a new corebook - maybe Starfinder will be better, we'll see. In any case, time has shifted my attitudes a bit, in at the least I'd rather see Pathfinder as competition for the current anemic version of D&D. And the Beginner Box is well-done as a starting product - I wish Pathfinder itself was just as simple and less concerned with miller salaries, berms, and unnatural lust.

I wouldn't blame Paizo for the current state of D&D at this point. That's a much more complicated situation and Pathfinder's popularity is just one of the factors.

Nancy_Noxious
Apr 10, 2013

by Smythe


See, even if later stuff is better, I still cannot stomach it. In the end Jason Buhlman is still an opportunist that copy-pasted a piece of poo poo that GREATLY contributed to the toxic evironment that led to Next. Does anyone need to be reminded how Paizo CULTIVATED edition war rethoric in order to promote their low-effort carbon copy?

Also gently caress Starfinder, really. It will likely be a hit while d20 games that really try to push the d20 engine forward like 13th Age live in obscurity (and are, ironically, MORE trash-talked around here than Pathfinder!). Rob Heinsoo alone brought more innovation to the d20 system (I am counting 4e here) than the whole Paizo staff - and in the end the hacks take the prize.

Edit- also, redarding new directions in the system, some time ago I took a look at the "unchained" rules and, no surprise, the thing is still fettered to the crap. The "quick" monster guidelines are still heavily obfuscated (very unlike 13th Age's very transparent monster math), lots of fiddly crap, absolutely no effort to rein in caster supremacy or make mechanicaly interesting martial classes. I really don't see why people here are getting all soft on Pathfinder.

Nancy_Noxious fucked around with this message at 13:51 on Jun 4, 2016

Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

If I pretend to be Cthulhu no one will know I'm a baseball robot.


Monathin posted:

If you do this, I think Kingmaker is the one most ripe for review, considering it inspired a whole set of secondary rules and was kind of a beta test for Ultimate Campaign, which remains pretty cool.

Kingmaker is interesting because the ideas are good and the execution is poo poo.

Cthulhu Dreams fucked around with this message at 13:58 on Jun 4, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I don't get why people hate on 13th Age, so much, probably because it got propped up as a savior initially. And then when it turned it had actual flaws, people lost their poo poo because they felt betrayed, somehow. Like I said, I don't get it.

The whole situation that created Pathfinder is a clusterfuck owing to Wizards of the Coast basically loving around with publishers regarding the licensing for 4e and leaving the remaining d20 publishers high and dry as far as supporting their own products goes. Both sides did edition warring (WotC maligning 3.5, Paizo claiming to be the true heir). That being said, Pathfinder was a relatively quick hackjob that used a public playtest mainly as a means of publicity and blew off criticisms and large issues with the game. Of course, those chickens have come home to roost and they've been trying to add more innovative stuff as time goes on, because that's the way all games go that have as long a lifespan as Pathfinder has.

That being all being said, familiarity, star power, and marketing have more to do with an RPG's success than anything to do with the system and that's just a fact of the industry. I just kind of accept that and I'd rather have people playing Pathfinder than not playing RPGs at all, and if they're having fun then that's fine. It's all well and good to be critical of Pathfinder (and we all know I certainly have been) but I'd draw the line at getting too angry at its fans for playing the "wrong game" or whatever. I realize this means I can't win; Pathfinder fans sneer at me for pointing out the system's pretty poo poo, Pathfinder critics lambast me for not treating its players like History's Worst Monsters or whatever. But it's where I'm at and I'm strangely comfortable with it.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


quote:

Also gently caress Starfinder, really. It will likely be a hit while d20 games that really try to push the d20 engine forward like 13th Age live in obscurity (and are, ironically, MORE trash-talked around here than Pathfinder!). Rob Heinsoo alone brought more innovation to the d20 system (I am counting 4e here) than the whole Paizo staff - and in the end the hacks take the prize.

That's because nobody can escape the shadow of 3.X

And they're making Pathfinder in space? Sure, I always wanted to know what Stars Without Number would look like if if had feat bloat and statblocks that take up at least half a page. I also can't wait for Psychic Supremacy.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Pathfinder critics lambast me for not treating its players like History's Worst Monsters or whatever. But it's where I'm at and I'm strangely comfortable with it.

There's nothing wrong with Pathfinder's players. My scorn is entirely reserved for the people who keep writing rules for that hot mess and it's tempered some by the fact that it's really hard to make any kind of living in the RPG industry so most of them are probably lucky to have a job at all.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


One morning at GenCon I was lucky to have breakfast with a lot of folks who had written for Fantasy Flight's Warhammer 40k line, and when the news that 2nd edition had been approved, the comments amongst some of the freelancers were of severe relief. The thing is, just because somebody's writing for a game doesn't mean they aren't aware of its flaws - most of the time they just have to live with them until the next edition rolls around. I've heard similar comments from Palladium writers where, yes, they know the system they're working on has issues, but it's the system they're writing for. I'm reminded also of late Exalted 2e where the developers were constantly like "we know X is a mess, just bear with us and we'll see if we can fix it". I wouldn't throw shade at developers at this point unless there's some rank garbage still coming out, and I haven't heard of anything really bad coming out lately. Of course, it could just be Pathfinder has shaken off anybody critical enough to complain and the only people still paying attention are the fans.

In any case, for a lot of writers working within a given system's issues is a job and I wouldn't necessarily hold all of them responsible for it.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I think my favorite part of that is the sad truth that the 2e of 40kRP is basically just 1e but with some of the (non-functioning) later gameline bandages applied because the original attempt to radically change things got a lot of backlash.

There's a reason I don't play much 40kRP anymore (besides getting really sick of the setting).

Nancy_Noxious
Apr 10, 2013

by Smythe


Night10194 posted:

There's nothing wrong with Pathfinder's players. My scorn is entirely reserved for the people who keep writing rules for that hot mess and it's tempered some by the fact that it's really hard to make any kind of living in the RPG industry so most of them are probably lucky to have a job at all.

Pathfinder players enable the hacks who write the Pathfinder rules. If there wasn't Pathfinder, they would have, sooner or later, gone towards 4e*.

*By no means a perfect game, but it can prime people to be more accepting of good design practices - focused design, game balance, focus on play (as opposed to bathroom reading). Pathfinder/Next priming is more akin to brain damage that leads to things like forums dedicated to damage on a miss - it perpetuates outdated design practices.

Nuns with Guns
Jul 23, 2010

....?


MollyMetroid posted:

Nobody commented on my review like, next to at all.

I read your review and I have to respect Pathfinder for taking multiple approaches to accessing the game rules. You cal really imagine how so much of D&D's market has been eaten up by Pathfinder when they have good products like that for beginners. The problem is I tend to fall several pages behind in the thread (like right now :v:). I haven't been able to read through a complete writeup of Mors's posts since 7th Sea because of how dense they are and how far behind reading them takes me. I can't revisit the 7th Sea archives now, either, without re-reading the whole thing because each entry's title is a quote that doesn't specify what book or what section of a book is covered in it.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Libertad! posted:

Honestly, yeah, such reviews are important. Barring some exceptions, there's an unwillingness to give negative reviews. Nobody wants to feel like the bad guy if it comes time to tear apart a cruddy product which one guy poured his heart and soul into making. I've gotten negative reviews and criticisms of my own work, and while it doesn't feel good worthwhile criticism can help a writer improve.

Things like Beast are on another level. Take for instance Sisters of Rapture which I did for Fatal & Friends. Honestly I kind of wonder if I was too hard and personal at times, but at the time I was writing it no other reviewer was pointing out the genuinely squicky parts of the game. One of OneBookShelf's top reviewers was enamored of the product and helped promote it in places, in spite of including a disturbingly transphobic spell and 'slut-shaming' text about whore-boots which attract rapists, among other things.

Granted, becoming a self-publisher has genuinely changed my outlook on things. Not only for the fact that I don't have the time to do such reviews of this magnitude, but it becomes a "stick in one's eye" situation if you yourself end up coming up short.

But yes, Kurieg's write-up of Beast is good. Good enough that I will seriously consider using it as a resource to show people its problems if it ever comes down to that.

We need such reviews, especially for products which perpetuate disturbing implications.
One thing I see a lot is people saying stuff like "don't listen to reviews" or "just write the game you want to write", and it makes me so frustrated. It's just saying "quality doesn't matter, just put out poo poo and be proud of it."

Nancy_Noxious posted:

Also gently caress Starfinder, really. It will likely be a hit while d20 games that really try to push the d20 engine forward like 13th Age live in obscurity (and are, ironically, MORE trash-talked around here than Pathfinder!). Rob Heinsoo alone brought more innovation to the d20 system (I am counting 4e here) than the whole Paizo staff - and in the end the hacks take the prize.
13th Age gets trash-talked around here? I thought it was pretty popular. I know there are criticisms with some of the classes, but nothing beyond that.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Evil Mastermind posted:

13th Age gets trash-talked around here? I thought it was pretty popular. I know there are criticisms with some of the classes, but nothing beyond that.

I keep reading stuff along the line of "It gets kinda boring at higher levels". I guess its because spellcasters have less god-like powers? Or because there aren't gazillions of tiny numerical bonuses to keep track of?

Doresh fucked around with this message at 15:49 on Jun 4, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Evil Mastermind posted:

13th Age gets trash-talked around here? I thought it was pretty popular. I know there are criticisms with some of the classes, but nothing beyond that.

Yeah, some people lose their poo poo about the druid or monk or fighter being sub-op, or the barbarian or ranger being a bit dull. It's usually gripes over specific classes than anything to do with the rules in general.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Doresh posted:

I keep reading stuff along the line of "It gets kinda boring at higher levels". I guess its because spellcasters have less god-like powers? Or because there aren't gazillions of tiny numerical bonuses to keep track of?
I ran the last season of organized play up to level 10, and nobody seemed to feel bored in terms of ability. I know my group is not all groups, but I'm just sayin'. Of course 13A doesn't use tons of modifiers in general so of course people who like that wouldn't like the game.

Also the sorcerer did something like 400 damage with one daily attack.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, some people lose their poo poo about the druid or monk or fighter being sub-op, or the barbarian or ranger being a bit dull. It's usually gripes over specific classes than anything to do with the rules in general.
One of my players has played three different barbarians over the course of our games, because she just likes critting all the time and rolling tons of dice. It's been a nice reminder that some people do like simple classes, and that there's nothing wrong with that.

I know we tend to get down on "simple classes" around here (I've done it myself) and complain about OSR-style games that don't give the fighter anything interesting to do, but it's good to have both simple and complex options available.

(That said, 13A could use an official simple caster.)

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, some people lose their poo poo about the druid or monk or fighter being sub-op, or the barbarian or ranger being a bit dull. It's usually gripes over specific classes than anything to do with the rules in general.
It sounds like you may be confusing people saying a class is bad with saying the game is bad (druid is bad, it's three halves of a class that add up to less than one class together). The game is fun and good, which makes those unfun and less-good bits stand out more. Kind of like those Monsterhearts reviews awhile ago, where those (I want to say Skins?) playbooks were a combination of overpowered-or-useless bolted onto inconsistent mechanics and bad fiction. Doesn't make Monsterhearts less good to point it out, or mean that people like it less for saying so.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

It sounds like you may be confusing people saying a class is bad with saying the game is bad (druid is bad, it's three halves of a class that add up to less than one class together). The game is fun and good, which makes those unfun and less-good bits stand out more.

Most people are more nuanced but I've seen definitely seen overreactions; I remember all the vitriol that was spewed over the monk and how it meant Tweet was a groggy monster who needed to be burned by a mob before he could birth another abomination in his castle. An exaggeration, but some people were upset way out of proportion to the actual issues with the class.

Skins for the Skinless isn't really comparable since it was a third-party supplement by a different designer, and doesn't really reflect on the design of the game itself.

unzealous
Mar 24, 2009

Die, Die, DIE!



HOME STRETCH

The last part of this chapter covers some similar ground concerning running and playing in a game. Some important parts are the emphasis on communication for determining how ‘mature’ you expect and plan the game to be. It also mentions making a well rounded group where the character’s complement each other. It’s important to remember that your character can have friends and family outside the immediate group in the game, they have hobbies and potentially day jobs. The last part of this section talks about running a campaign as a series of interconnected set pieces, which is self explanatory.

An Angel? Let me take a lo-OH MY GOD

This next section gets back into the meat of things. It has several different set pieces which can used as the core of a campaign or inserted into an existing campaign. They’re all organized by plot, the God Machine’s plans, it’s Linchpins, the methods the characters might use to help explore the plot and the possible consequences of whether the player’s succeed or not.

The 300 Block

This is a city block whose residents are largely independent and self sufficient. There’s a coffee shop, a bodega and even a small bookstore. The residents are largely medical students attending the teaching hospital, the rest are retirees or lower class people. Despite this it’s considered a safe place and people are generally happy. Unfortunately people have been going missing. About once every 6 months someone goes missing there. It’s not even a resident every time. People go missing and the last place they were seen or heard from was the 300 Block. Something seems to be going on. The landlord can sometimes be seen weeping in the park at night, and a security guard hung themselves a few years ago. It also has almost no crime and despite its low average income looks almost immaculate all the time.

Do-Over


There’s a 24 hour restaurant, unremarkable in almost every respect. The service is okay, the food is mediocre, it’s entirely forgettable. At least it is for most people. Those who regret, who have said or done something they desperately wish they could take back, might have a different experience. They might notice the door next to restrooms that they’ve never noticed before. They might enter it and see the homely furnished room on the other side. They might take a nap on the sofa and dream about their regret, and find that they can change the past in this strange state. This isn’t without cost, in fact it’s incredibly addictive. How many things have you done in your past that you regret? How many times have you asked “what if..?” And how much can you change before the universe gets fed up with your chicanery?

Evil Sofa

Sister City

In the late 19th century Seattle burned. The damage was almost total, it was on the brink of being wiped from the map. Still, the people yet persevered and the buildings were replaced and built over. But the God Machine wasn’t quite done with the city as it was, so it kept a copy of it around. They occupy the same space, at different times so to speak, and were never meant to really cross into one another. Unfortunately accidents happen. You might be a person living in the old Seattle, wondering what someone’s doing with a cellphone. You might be someone living in modern day Seattle when you see an odd and archaic ship coming into port. Unfortunately for those involved the God Machine did not intend for these crossings to occur, and will dispatch agents to make sure that these problems are dealt with in one way or another. Do you separate the cities so there’s no reason for you to be a target any more? Do you locate the source of the link and use it for leverage? Or will you become a victim of the Polis Men.

quote:

Despite potential confusion, in the mundane world these agents do not appear as cops. Cops draw too much attention. Rather, they appear most often as street art, sidewalk chalk drawings, or statuary and other artistic installations. They’re made up of the city itself, of concrete and wrought iron. When the lie between the cities thins and they cross over into each other, the Polis Men rise from their watchful positions with the sound of rending stone and move with surprising speed and brutality. They burned a city to the ground once for the God-Machine. They’ll do it again if the population gets too contaminated with the truth.

The Squares of the City

It’s late at night, you’re out on an errand, or coming home from work, and the need to get home is gnawing at you more than it ever has before. You desperately try to get home before midnight, you can’t really explain why, but you can’t seem to make it. As you come to the realization that you just won’t make it at time you see something you find almost impossible to believe. At night the buildings move. You look around hoping there’s someone to confirm you’re just hallucinating but you’re alone. It begins shortly after midnight. They seem to move like puzzle pieces, sliding one at a time, the streets and sidewalks warping to accommodate them. The last building vanishes. The businesses, people, everything inside of it, disappears. You can’t find any records of it, people don’t remember it, you can’t even find references to it in the phone book or internet. What is going on?

Wellington School for Gifted Children

The public school system in the city has “failed” and as a result many of the schools have been bought out by private corporations. The Wellington school is one of many and the player’s have been brought in as instructors. Of course this doesn’t mean that they necessarily have teaching degrees. The company has been emphasizing “fiscal responsibility” (cutting corners) and hiring people with “a focus on real world experience” (maybe not the best at teaching). Things seem okay though, aside from the rumors that some of the old teachers had to be removed by force and were chanting...something...nonstop. The students themselves seem a mixed bunch. A combination of brilliance and defiance that makes the player’s lives quite busy. On top of that they have to make regular reports to someone who’s taking a rather unsettling interest in the school and it’s students.

Ghost Machine

Small, rural towns and villages are finding their appliances and machines behaving strangely. They seem to be performing erratically and in many cases outright maliciously. There seems to be hauntings taking place at an unprecedented scale, but only in these small, out of the way towns away from the larger population centers. The only thing connecting them is their relative size and the only objects affected being electronics or things with moving parts.


The Key

Three identical murders took place at the same time in 3 different locations. The same method, the same ritual, and the evidence gathered all points to a single culprit, but that’s not possible. He’s sent letters to the police and the media, often times containing cryptic remarks like

quote:

“Space is only an issue for you. I can be anywhere I want, and I will be. How many of you have wives at home? Can you be in two places at once, like I can?”

“[I will be] the greatest cog the machine has ever known, the greatest killer the world has ever seen.”
How do you stop someone who can apparently be in 2 places at once? What kind of person is this, who can murder people with such little compassion.

quote:

On May 25, 1961, U.S. President John Kennedy declared before Congress an imperative for the nation to achieve a successful landing on the moon before the end of the decade. What was not announced publicly was the true reason for the project. The elite faction operating behind America’s corridors of power now had a translated version of the Toltec Map fragment, which revealed a detailed topography of the lunar surface. Most importantly, it contained an atlas of the moon’s so-called “dark side,” as well as a comprehensive description of what lay entombed there. The American Apollo missions were so named to curry favor with the various sun deities who were in fact aliases for the Second Children. Publicly, it was Apollo 11 that first put man on the moon. But in fact, American astronauts began exploring the lunar surface as early as the 1968 Apollo 8 mission. Apollo 10 confirmed the location of what the Toltecs called “the crypt of the butterfly.” By Apollo 15, the outer vault was cracked, and it was 1972’s Apollo 17 — the final manned lunar mission to date — that brought back what classified documents referred to as “Packet Theta.” The angel has warned me that the relic brought back from its receptacle on the moon has the potential to be much more devastating than any atomic weapon. What was retrieved was the skeletal form of one of the Ancient Ones. Specifically, the very being that pronounced the curse of mortality upon humanity. As the portal through which death itself entered our universe, it was changed into a thing neither dead nor alive. Those who learn to control it, as its current jailers seek to do, will exert ultimate power over the tides of life and death.
With each passing day, dark forces come closer to gaining that power. Those who seek must unify and stand against them. Our world needs warriors of light, defenders of life, seekers of truth to thwart their wishes. The god-machine waits. The angel has shown me how. I can teach you. We are fallen, but we might rise again.

The Moon Window

Something terrible has started to happen downtown. People are getting sick more often, batteries are running out of power faster and faster. Lights don’t seem to burn as bright, cigarettes barely burn, Everything is breaking down. Worse still this area of entropy seems to be growing. Centered is a large building which has recently put up a massive stained glass window as part of an art project. Could that really be what’s causing this?


Missing Persons

People go missing. It’s a sad fact of life but it happens. What’s strange is that people claim to hear their voices crying for help, but can’t find out where it’s coming from. The most notable case involved a young man who disappeared during a ferris wheel ride. While he was nowhere to be seen people reported they could hear his cries for help when they reached the apex of the ride. Another report involved a couple who could hear a dog barking for days, but they could not find it no matter how hard they searched.

Wake the Dead

What happens when someone dies and they weren’t supposed to? Well, people in small towns are getting answers and they are more than a little confused. The dead are coming back to life, but not in the zombie apocalypse way. No, it’s just a few here or there, and sometimes it’s not even unpleasant. A man’s wife comes back from the dead, a bit confused but otherwise the same as we remember her, pulse and everything. Unfortunately it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes only the flesh comes back and it carries with it a hatred of the living. Thankfully it doesn’t seem to spread but that’s little consolation to those who have to see a loved one die twice.


A Glimpse of Mesmerizing Complexity

The roads are already dangerous. People eat, text, fiddle with the radio and any number of things which generally make driving a bit more tolerable and bit more hazardous. Unfortunately there seems to be a new source of danger for motorists. A few people involved in collisions reported seeing strange flying shapes made of machinery of incredible complexity. So much so that they simply can’t take their eyes off of them. They are machines of such intricacy that would make the most skilled watchmaker weep with envy for their creator was clearly the stuff of the divine. The question now is what are they doing? Why are they causing traffic accidents? Is this intentional or a side effect of some other plan?

The Golden Citadel

Somehow you came into possession of an old diary from decades ago. It’s from an artist who was commissioned to make a large sculpture the size of an RV. At first they’re excited, but that excitement turns to fear and dread. This sculpture seems to be drawing people to it. Already they’ve made a small village around it and all the people seem bent on completing some sort of massive building of unprecedented size. It seems to be affecting people’s minds as well. Those that leave to the citadel are simply forgotten, or believed dead. It’s already reached a population of 100,000 souls so why hasn’t anyone found it out yet? At this rate the entire population will belong to this growing city in a few decades and worse yet, the last entry talks about people being fed to the building to aid in it’s growth.

Operation Bell Jar

An oil rig has gone dark. Before this, things were fine. There was a terrible storm and it almost capsized but thankfully, by some miraculous luck, it stayed upright and has since been pumping oil at an unprecedented rate. But then there was the SOS. The nearby emergency services recorded frantic cries for help but could not get a response to their questions. Rescue teams were mobilized but came upon a horrifying scene. The crew were hanging from the various cables on the rig, each with a sign on their chest reading STAY AWAY. The countries involved now assume a terrorist group or cult has taken over and have mobilized a team to investigate, extract any survivors and eliminate any hostiles. But what will they find when they begin investigating West Nautical 26?


Proposition 279
(A heads up on this one, it’s pretty hosed up for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, based on current events, it’s not as implausible as it really should be)
A foreign government, one which has always had a fairly even keel. Not particularly tolerant but never so bad it makes the news. A bit corrupt, but not any more than your own. They’ve just made a sudden and drastic change. The politicians and religious leaders, in a sudden act of horrific unification, have passed a bill not only making homosexuality illegal, but making it a capital offense. Already mass graves are being dug and the military is mobilizing. Human rights advocates send their best to hopefully defuse the situation and the UN has threatened sanctions if they follow through with their plan. And rumors about the leadership have been flying. Some say the new adviser is responsible, other’s say the leader themselves is to blame as their spouse left the country on a vacation and never returned. All we know for certain is that the country is a powder keg on the verge of genocide or a civil war.

The Scarlet Plague

The end is nigh. A disease is sweeping the globe, killing 60-70% of the male population by making them drown in their own blood. Not as headline grabbing but equally insidious is it seems to be making women infertile as well. If this continues that’s it, game over, humanity has lost. Is there an explanation for the way the blood taken from the lungs doesn’t coagulate, but instead crystallizes? Is there a way to save humanity?

The Hatching

You witness an incredible sight. You see, clearly, the statue of liberty beginning to crack. Fractures spiderweb their way around it before they slowly begin to open up. As the cracks get larger you can see hundreds of creatures pouring out of it like ants swarming out of their nest. Before you have time to run or even scream there’s a blinding light and everything around you, yourself included, is consumed by blinding fire. And then you wake up, a bit confused but alive. You remember the events clearly, it isn’t like those strange ephemeral memories you get from dreams. To your growing horror you realize that it’s the morning of the event. If left unchecked the events play out like they did before. The creatures swarm from the statue and the explosion kills them and everyone else in the city. Is there a way out of this scenario or will they spend an eternity reenacting a macabre reproduction of groundhog day.

A Journey Into Time

The characters stumble upon a video concerned with the end of the world and how to stop it. Not really cause for alarm given how many of these likely already exist, but it starts with the following.

quote:

“If anyone is seeing this, I have failed. In 1901, I invented a device that will soon end the world. The auroras are only the first sign. A version of this device can also save the world, by allowing someone to return to the first minutes that the device was turned on. You must destroy both the original version of this device and my laboratory notebook. If my employers never learn of this device, they cannot use it to end the world. They believe the mechanism we used it to create will give them the power to control time and space. In reality, it allows an inhuman force to collapse all of time into a single endless instant. I created the central component to this device by accident. If all records of how to create it are destroyed, the machine that now threatens to end time will never have been built. If time has already begun to decay, the area illuminated by the lamp remains safe.”
The rest is a set of instructions for making his lamp, sadly no crystals are used, and how to make a device to time travel, which will probably start a fire. It’s all a bunch of nonsense, surely. But you can’t help but notice the news covering aurora sightings far outside their usual environments. And more and more people are reporting seeing phantom figures moving around. Suddenly this video is not as insane as it originally appeared.

Not from the book unfortunately posted:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before
.

This is Hell

This is it, the endgame. Everywhere lines are being drawn in the sand and people, creatures, angels and demons are all taking sides. The God Machine has concocted a gambit of epic scope, bigger than anything anyone has ever seen. It plans to beat down humanity, using humanity. Through war, genocide, terrorism, STIs, abuse, neglect, and all the evils we commit against ourselves done as much as possible until humanity finally breaks down and gives in. Then the God Machine will be able to create “pure” infrastructure. It will be able to send it’s angels anywhere, any time, in any number to act out its will. But humanity does have an edge, it has things willing to fight for free will and all the evil and terror that will inevitably come with it. There are angels who no longer serve the God Machine but instead serve themselves, and are more than willing to fight it’s machinations. So ultimately you can choose. Do you want a world without evil and free will, or a world where people can choose to wipe themselves out?

What is it Good For?

Fighting insurgents in the cradle of civilization has become an almost common experience. You and your unit are doing just that when an errant explosive unearths something. A simple flag, as old as civilization and as large as life. Above it hovers something, a humanoid figure with wings made of steel and rust and gears and cable, but you know it to be an angel of death. The next thing you know you’re covered in Roman armor and blood, your Praetor is screaming at you to keep fighting until the barbarians are dead. The battle is barely concluded when they find themselves fighting again at another place and time. Death isn’t even an out, as those that die find themselves alive again when the shift occurs. Is there anyway out of this hell?


Urban Wandering

There’s always existed the idea of city walking. Start walking in one city, end up in another, without needing to cross the space in between. You just envision your destination, you see signs of it wherever you are at the moment, and before you know it you’re there. People are even finding they can do it with videos or documentaries. Unfortunately few are prepared for when things go wrong. City walking turns out to be a skill you can learn, but if you mess up you end up in a strange, nightmarish place filled with terrifying creatures. Worse yet, these creatures are following them back into cities. Violent murders are on the rise and people are reporting seeing strange, shadowy figures between two and ten feet tall. You know the figures and rise of city walking are probably linked but how do you convince people to stop doing something that’s saving them tens of thousands of dollars?


Continuing the White Wolf tradition of putting merits nowhere near the merit section

Next Up: NPCs! Monsters! The End!(?)

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I always enjoy how the sample plots of God Machine range from weird/sinister to outright apocalyptic.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Jesus, I'm not a Pathfinder fan in the slightest and even I don't have a hate-boner for it that huge.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


unzealous posted:

The Squares of the City

It’s late at night, you’re out on an errand, or coming home from work, and the need to get home is gnawing at you more than it ever has before. You desperately try to get home before midnight, you can’t really explain why, but you can’t seem to make it. As you come to the realization that you just won’t make it at time you see something you find almost impossible to believe. At night the buildings move. You look around hoping there’s someone to confirm you’re just hallucinating but you’re alone. It begins shortly after midnight. They seem to move like puzzle pieces, sliding one at a time, the streets and sidewalks warping to accommodate them. The last building vanishes. The businesses, people, everything inside of it, disappears. You can’t find any records of it, people don’t remember it, you can’t even find references to it in the phone book or internet. What is going on?

By the time you do manage to get home, you see that your neighbor's house has been replaced by a different one you have never seen before. The people inside are total stranger to you, but everyone in the street - including your own family - act like they've known them for years. The strangers act that way to you as well, but sometimes, for just a split second that nobody else notices, they give you that look. They know.

unzealous posted:

This is Hell

This is it, the endgame. Everywhere lines are being drawn in the sand and people, creatures, angels and demons are all taking sides. The God Machine has concocted a gambit of epic scope, bigger than anything anyone has ever seen. It plans to beat down humanity, using humanity. Through war, genocide, terrorism, STIs, abuse, neglect, and all the evils we commit against ourselves done as much as possible until humanity finally breaks down and gives in. Then the God Machine will be able to create “pure” infrastructure. It will be able to send it’s angels anywhere, any time, in any number to act out its will. But humanity does have an edge, it has things willing to fight for free will and all the evil and terror that will inevitably come with it. There are angels who no longer serve the God Machine but instead serve themselves, and are more than willing to fight it’s machinations. So ultimately you can choose. Do you want a world without evil and free will, or a world where people can choose to wipe themselves out?

Megami: The Tenseing.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 18:27 on Jun 4, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Nancy_Noxious posted:

See, even if later stuff is better, I still cannot stomach it. In the end Jason Buhlman is still an opportunist that copy-pasted a piece of poo poo that GREATLY contributed to the toxic evironment that led to Next. Does anyone need to be reminded how Paizo CULTIVATED edition war rethoric in order to promote their low-effort carbon copy?
To be fair, in the end nobody forced Mike Mearls to make 5e a boring love letter to ENWorld. It's a shame that much better designers receive much less recognition, but that's nothing new.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I don't get why people hate on 13th Age, so much, probably because it got propped up as a savior initially. And then when it turned it had actual flaws, people lost their poo poo because they felt betrayed, somehow. Like I said, I don't get it.
I haven't read 13th Age, but I got the impression that it was about preserving the freedom and balance of 4e, but not so much the tactical combat element. I really liked the tactical combat element, though I'm as quick as anybody to criticize 4e's flaws in that regard. (Namely, fiddly fussy effects and modifiers to track from turn to turn, and a glut of mediocre-to-lousy character options.)

Kurieg posted:

More to the point, there are currently three 5 star reviews, one of which was written before the book came out giving it a glowing review, one of which simply copies, word for word, the press release blurb. And one last one that describes it as a "Build a bear workshop for monsters" which leads me to believe that the person has not read the book at all.
This has happened with plenty of other DTRPG products, from what I've heard. That's the first I've heard of dropping before the book dropped and copypasting the ad copy, but I've heard of reviews dropping five minutes after the book dropped, usually because the reviewer got a free copy.

Night10194 posted:

There's nothing wrong with Pathfinder's players. My scorn is entirely reserved for the people who keep writing rules for that hot mess and it's tempered some by the fact that it's really hard to make any kind of living in the RPG industry so most of them are probably lucky to have a job at all.
To be blunt, I haven't seen anything from the Pathfinder designers that makes me happy they have a job in the industry.

Evil Mastermind posted:

One thing I see a lot is people saying stuff like "don't listen to reviews" or "just write the game you want to write", and it makes me so frustrated. It's just saying "quality doesn't matter, just put out poo poo and be proud of it."
Well, that's the first few sentences of Ron Edwards' essay on "fantasy heartbreakers." "On the one hand, I'm telling people to publish their dream. On the other hand, I'm sick of seeing yet another set of house rules for AD&D published as a unique game."

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Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Halloween Jack posted:

Well, that's the first few sentences of Ron Edwards' essay on "fantasy heartbreakers." "On the one hand, I'm telling people to publish their dream. On the other hand, I'm sick of seeing yet another set of house rules for AD&D published as a unique game."

Some people have unimaginative dreams.

I recall seeing an OSR retroclone setting for sale whose name escapes me. The major sale was that it was the compilation of 30 years' worth of campaigns and world-building, a detailed realm with epic history shaped by player characters.

This makes me think back of all the campaigns and adventure paths, both published and homebrew, I made, ran, and participated in. A lot of crazy poo poo happened, from a variety of genres. Murder mysteries in Sharn, teenaged wizard's apprentices donning magical masks to do fantasy superhero stuff, adventurers thwarting the plots of a demonic cult in a city built around the ring of a dormant volcano, preventing a goblin nation from activating a magic weapon of mass destruction upon the human realms...

And I've only been playing D&D games for about 12 years, and a 2 year hiatus when I wasn't doing any tabletop gaming at all but reading a lot and fantasizing about potential games. Naturally a 30+ year long world should have all sorts of unorthodox options and setting elements?

Nope, standard whitebread pseudo-medieval Western Europe realms. And whose new classes were things like Friar and Knight. :effort:

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 19:22 on Jun 4, 2016

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