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Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

wiegieman posted:

Know, in your heart of hearts, that someone did, and tremble at the fate of man.

I was in a few RAW TORG games. They sucked worse than metaplot enforced Deadlands.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Honestly a lot of what turned me off from ever getting into Torg was how the Living Lands worked. Well, that and already being into Rifts, but wow, the Living Lands were an instant turnoff.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Zereth posted:

It didn't even really work for that in the introductory adventure, because as I remember Evil Mastermind's explanation of it, the countdown was in no way communicated to the characters. And thus no way for the players to know other than the GM just telling them.

And then it turns out that if the drama deck didn't like you, you could just straight up end up with zero chance of actually stopping it even if you were teleported directly to it and knew what to do and the skeletons cheered you on instead of trying to kill you.

Yeah, that's it! In addition to flow-charts for superscience devices, and the silliness of Cyberpapacy implants, and that ridiculous treatise on magic, they seemed to be trying to create physics for adventure tropes and not realizing that it didn't goddamn work. It really came home for me with that whiteboard spell and the amazing odds of harming yourself casting it. They knew what they wanted to do, and they had a system for getting there, but they had no sense of scale or proportion. It's like they said 'Doing X requires a heroic effort' and set the target mechanics 'heroically' high, without considering what the odds of success were for even experienced Storm Knights-- the ones who hadn't killed themselves trying to conjure a blackboard.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Bieeardo posted:

Yeah, that's it! In addition to flow-charts for superscience devices, and the silliness of Cyberpapacy implants, and that ridiculous treatise on magic, they seemed to be trying to create physics for adventure tropes and not realizing that it didn't goddamn work. It really came home for me with that whiteboard spell and the amazing odds of harming yourself casting it. They knew what they wanted to do, and they had a system for getting there, but they had no sense of scale or proportion. It's like they said 'Doing X requires a heroic effort' and set the target mechanics 'heroically' high, without considering what the odds of success were for even experienced Storm Knights-- the ones who hadn't killed themselves trying to conjure a blackboard.

Also I don't think they ever considered that if you're making a 'heroic' game, then 'accomplish heroic feat' should be your average DC for a starting character, not something hard.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



See, now y'all can understand why I'm hoping against hope that Torg Eternity is good. Despite all the problems, I do love Torg! Really! I love the setting, I actually really like the Drama Deck, and I love the potential the game has. It just never followed through on any of it.

Bieeardo posted:

Yeah, that's it! In addition to flow-charts for superscience devices, and the silliness of Cyberpapacy implants, and that ridiculous treatise on magic, they seemed to be trying to create physics for adventure tropes and not realizing that it didn't goddamn work. It really came home for me with that whiteboard spell and the amazing odds of harming yourself casting it. They knew what they wanted to do, and they had a system for getting there, but they had no sense of scale or proportion. It's like they said 'Doing X requires a heroic effort' and set the target mechanics 'heroically' high, without considering what the odds of success were for even experienced Storm Knights-- the ones who hadn't killed themselves trying to conjure a blackboard.
The thing about Torg is that it really is the exemplar of the times before we (as a hobby/industry) really started thinking about rules and tone, and what your mechanics are actually saying about your world. Like, backlash is annoying, yes, but when your spells are mostly combat and adventuring utility you don't really notice it. But when you later say "oh, literally everyone in the world can cast spells" and "there are spells that are used in lieu of everyday mundane tools, but since they're spells they still have backlash potential" that's when you start running into problems. It was an era before we understood that the more rules you have, the worse your rule interaction edge cases become.

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

I was in a few RAW TORG games. They sucked worse than metaplot enforced Deadlands.
Funny you should mention that...I'm currently working on a read-through of a major Deadlands metaplot adventure! The most railroady adventure ever written, even moreso than War's End for Torg, an adventure that actually railroads the characters into riding on a railroad train.

It also contains what may be the single most insulting, infuriating thing I've ever read in a published product. And I say that as the guy who reviewed THE SECRET FIRETM. I'm just trying to get it 100% written so I don't end up trying to do too many things at once.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Evil Mastermind posted:

It also contains what may be the single most insulting, infuriating thing I've ever read in a published product.

Is this going to be a "holy poo poo that's racist/sexist" thing or more Secret Fire-like Maximum Oversmug?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kavak posted:

Is this going to be a "holy poo poo that's racist/sexist" thing or more Secret Fire-like Maximum Oversmug?

Neither.

Better.

e: there actually is a bit of oversmug, but it's secondary to The Thing That Happens.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Evil Mastermind posted:

Neither.

Better.

e: there actually is a bit of oversmug, but it's secondary to The Thing That Happens.

I think I get what you're hinting at, but please prioritize this review or at least tell me what the adventure is, the anticipation is killing me.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

Is it Classic Deadlands or Reloaded?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



JackMann posted:

Is it Classic Deadlands or Reloaded?
Classic.

I'll try to post the first part tonight or tomorrow now that I've got people's curiosity piqued. I'm really hope it lives up to the build-up I'm doing here.

(dance puppets! dance for me! :unsmigghh:)

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Evil Mastermind posted:

The thing that really gets me about the Law of Lost Valuables is that no reason's given for it. Even with the Compass Curse, they state that Kaah did mystic wonkery with the already-existing Mist to create the effect.

But the Law of Lost Valuables has no logic behind it apart from thinking it's thematic (it's not). It really is artificial difficulty; you're just taking away things like maps and ammo and so on to make things more difficult for the sake of making things more difficult.

Thankfully, they're getting rid of that concept for Torg Eternity.

The really funny thing? In one of the upcoming three SPOILER realms, there's a "tone enforcing" World Law that's even dumber.

Now I'm trying to guess which one it is? Tharkhold? Space Gods?


Evil Mastermind posted:

It also contains what may be the single most insulting, infuriating thing I've ever read in a published product. And I say that as the guy who reviewed THE SECRET FIRETM. I'm just trying to get it 100% written so I don't end up trying to do too many things at once.

Oh man, I think I know what you're talking about. Spoiler tagging this....

It involves the Five Realms, doesn't it?.

Edit: poo poo, I thought it was TORG War's End.

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


If you welded Deadlands and TORG together with a good ruleset, you might have a good Dark Tower game. The Tower is falling so all the Realms are merging, so your ka-tet must try and fix it. And make it so Flagg is your ONLY unkillable metaplot NPC.
I know somebody who ran one in Unknown Armies, of all things.
Speaking of, I just picked up Tim Powers' Last Call. Guess I'll talk about it in the UA thread.

Is there a thread somewhere for WW2 naval history? That stuff is amazing.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Young Freud posted:

Edit: poo poo, I thought it was TORG War's End.
Nope, War's End is bad (and we'll get there; I'm going to review it once I'm done with all the realm books as a capper to the whole project), but I still say the adventure I'm talking about is worse.

Also both your guesses on the realm were wrong.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Count Chocula posted:

Is there a thread somewhere for WW2 naval history? That stuff is amazing.

Not exclusively, but if you have any questions throw them here.

And buy the book "Shattered Sword". Trust me on that one.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Evil Mastermind posted:

Also both your guesses on the realm were wrong.

Oh Jesus Christ, I just read through The Land Below. I had thought Law Of Savagery was like Tharkold's Law of Ferocity until I got to the part with characters turning into something out of a Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta painting, complete with women hanging off your male hero's leg.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Young Freud posted:

Oh Jesus Christ, I just read through The Land Below. I had thought Law Of Savagery was like Tharkold's Law of Ferocity until I got to the part with characters turning into something out of a Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta painting, complete with women hanging off your male hero's leg.

That's the one! You forgot that everyone's hair grows super-long and their clothing will always get sexily ripped off too.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Minus the damselization or whatever effect that sounds awesome and I can't wait to see how they gently caress it up

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Probably something analogous to Poul Andersen's 'On Thud and Blunder'.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Kavak posted:

Minus the damselization or whatever effect that sounds awesome and I can't wait to see how they gently caress it up

I was exaggerating but I'm not that far off. Let's just say that Iron Jef is going to pissed off with the gender reinforcement, considering it's embodies that problem with "seduction" skills that come up on from time to time on System Mastery.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



DEADLANDS: HELL ON EARTH/LOST COLONY - THE UNITY



Part 1: Get up on that train, choo choo ride it.

Let's talk about metaplot for a moment.

Metaplot, in RPG terms, is the overarching narrative of a game line. That there's going to be a connecting story through all the adventures and supplements of a game, usually regardless of the actions of the players in individual campaigns. You don't see them much nowadays, because they're a bit of a codependent concept to another very 90's idea (the supplement treadmill), but the main reason they've fallen out of favor is because a metaplot ends up meaning that you have to play your campaign the way the designers want you to, instead of how you want to do it.

It wasn't uncommon at the time to be presented with major villain NPCs that the players would be expected to constantly butt up against, but were unable to defeat due to that NPC being needed to trigger a major plot point down the road. Or for one book to have a major plot point hinge on a factoid from a different book you might not own or be able to get. Or having certain character types invalidated because of changes to said group that happened in one adventure, with every book released after that working off that idea.

(The most infamous version of that last one would probably be when White Wolf killed off the entire Ravnos clan in one book the oWoD, meaning that if you were playing a Ravnos you were either one of the last ones left on the planet and were pretty much on your own from then on out, or dead due to metaplot.)

When you're dealing with metaplot that goes through a game line, you (the GM) have a problem. See, a metaplot means that a publisher has a story they're going to tell, and your group is going to be going along for the ride.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for story in RPGs. Hell, stories are the point of RPGs. But what I'm talking about isn't emergent storytelling, it's about railroading. To wit, it's about having to bend your campaign around the tidbits revealed piecemeal through supplements instead of being able to pick and choose, and the story you're telling with a game not the one you, the GM, wants to tell, but the one the game writers want you to tell.

For example, let's say that you're playing a modern-day campaign set in Boston. You're setting your campaign there not because it's the default city for the game in question, but because it's where your group happens to live. But then in one published adventure, Boston gets nuked, and from that point on every supplement works off the assumption that Boston is gone, period. So now you have two general options:
1) You can play that as it lays. Now you have to rework your campaign around the fact that everything you'd established in the campaign is gone, forcing you to pretty much start over.
2) Ignore it, and keep playing the campaign as you were before this happened, meaning that any official supplements that came out after that were either useless or would require work on your part to shoehorn them into your campaign, which now deviated from the core game line assumptions.

Now, clearly I'm oversimplifying here, but you get my point: games with heavy metaplot are a real pain to deal with as a GM and as players.

And in the 90s, metaplot was all over the place.

I've often said that Torg was the poster child for 90s RPGs in terms of both design and metaplot. But if Torg takes the #1 slot in the "90s-est RPG" category, then Deadlands was a remarkably close second.

Deadlands started out okay enough (not counting the Southern apologia); you had the core book, you had supplements that expanded on the various not-classes, you had books detailing the various corners of the setting, you had adventures. But even at the beginning you could see elements of what would become the full metaplot.

There were setting secrets that were held from the GM so they could be revealed later. There were unkillable major NPCs who were unkillable because they were needed to trigger major plot points later. The truth of the Reckoners wasn't revealed, even though that secret was a major shaping factor of the setting throughout the entire game line. Secondary major NPCs would show up, exposit at the PCs for a while, then hire the PCs to tag along on "major events" and watch them do stuff. Things like that. Because Deadlands had a metaplot that was playing the long game.

See, original Deadlands was part of a sort of trilogy or stand-alone RPGs. The core "classic" Deadlands ended with the Devil's Tower megadventure, in which an NPC comes from 200 years in the future to (again) exposit at the PCs about all the setting secrets: the Reckoners are actually the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, they want to spread enough fear to turn the entire world into a Deadland, Ghost Rock really is concentrated demon, and that the Reckoner's long game was to prolong conflict and accelerate human technological development to the point where we'd create Ghost Rock Nukes and use them to start World War 3. Oh, and major setting NPC and auto-killer of PCs Stone had traveled back in time from the post-apocalyptic timeframe to meet up with his current 1800's self and ensure all this happens, which is actually something I want you all to keep in the back of your heads for the end of this mess.

This adventure set up the second part of the "game line trilogy": Deadlands: Hell On Earth. This was a sort of sequel RPG to Deadlands, taking the basic horror-western idea and melding it with a post-apocalyptic world. HoE took place in 2094 in a world where the supernatural pervaded everything and the Confederacy managed to actually seceed, 13 years after Earth got demon-nuked. It presented a post-apocalyptic America through the tropes of westerns (in fact, there was only western stuff; everything east of the Mississippi River was turned into a wasteland crawling with undead). HoE had a lot of similarities to original Deadlands, but adjusted a lot of the character concepts to the new setting. Especially in terms of the supernatural types; Huckers became Sykers who could channel the energy of the Hunting Grounds without having to gamble with demons, Blessed pretty much became Templars, mad scientists became Junkers, and so on and so on.

HoE was a neat idea (really, I'm surprised there aren't more game combining westerns and post-apocalyptic concepts), but it doubled down on the metaplot. There were bad guy NPCs presented in adventures, and the GM was told flat out that the PCs were not allowed to kill them because they needed to live long enough to do something major later. And there were a lot of setting-important NPCs kicking around. Not to mention bunches of major organizations constantly fighting each other and other assorted plotlines you'd have a hard time keeping track of even if you were following all the books.

But anyway. The big megaventure that was intended to cap off HoE, wrap up all the dangling plot threads, and set up the last part of the game trilogy was called The Unity, named after a trans-galactic spaceship that plays into the metaplot backstory for HoE. The Unity was to be the bridge between Hell on Earth and the next game, Lost Colony, which was basically "Deadlands But Sci-Fi And On An Alien Planet".

The whole idea of The Unity was to wrap up all the HoE storylines and get the PCs to the planet Lost Colony takes place on for the big finale of the entire Deadlands trilogy of RPGs. Unfortunately, for this to all happen we need what may well be the most railroad-y, boxed-text-y, watch-the-NPCs-do-everything-iest adventure ever written.

So let's get to it!


And knowing is half the battle!

Fair warning: this review is going to have a lot of "I have to explain backstory so I can explain what's going on now in the adventure" moments. Sorry, but given the nature of things it's kind of unavoidable.

For instance, this is the basic idea of Deadlands/HoE's overarching plot.

poo poo you don't care about but I have to explain so I can explain the rest of this poo poo to you.
Deadlands starts when a vengeful indian shaman named Raven, angry at the white men who killed off his entire tribe, conducts a dark ritual that blasts open a portal to Hell (or, as it's refered to in-game, the Hunting Grounds) during the Battle of Little Big Horn. This unleashes all sorts of undead and evil spirits and demons into the world, which were generally known as manitous. The lords of hell were called "the Reckoners", and the event as "The Reckoning".

Part of the effects of the Reckoning was to prolong the battle between the North and the South; in Deadlands continuity the war would continue for at least another 20 years. This was due to supernatural interference, because the Reckoner's goal was to seed the world with fear. Once the world was infused with enough fear and evil energy, they'd be able to enter our world.

Most people didn't know the supernatural existed, but some of the ones who did could channel the energy of the Hunting Grounds into various forms of magic. Others could unknowingly use said energy to fuel "mad science", powered by a substance called ghost rock, that allowed for your steampunky gizmos.

The Reckoner's long-term plan was to push human technological development to the point where we'd develop supernatural-energy-infused weapons of mass destruction, and human sociologial anger to the point where we'd actually use the drat things. Unsurprisingly, that happened, because humans. About 200 years after the Reckoning, World War 3 kicked off between the USA and the Confederacy, and every major city in America was hit with demon-infused nukes.

And once all of North America was blasted into an irradiated near-literal hellscape, the Reckoners left the Hunting Grounds and revealed themselves to be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The Horsemen rode out, killing millions of suriviors, including everyone east of the Mississippi, and left America to start rampaging around the rest of the world. The default start of HoE is 13 years after the bombs dropped, and this adventure is two or three years after that.

Everybody got all that? Good.

The first chapter of the adventure is called The Harvest.

quote:

It’s been a long time coming. The grand story begun in Deadlands: the Weird West and continued here in Hell on Earth now enters its final chapter. You’re about to see the end of the beginning, and the beginning of two whole new tales—one here in the Wasted West, and another on the windswept plains of an alien planet.

Such an epic tale requires an epic finale, and we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

And right out of the gate, right on the first page, they're still holding secrets from the GM.

quote:

Adventure Summary—Not

We typically summarize the adventure at the beginning of our books so that you, the Marshal, get a concise view of what you and your posse are expected to do during the course of the tale. We’re going to forego that this time for one simple reason—you. You, the Marshal, have read most of our books, kept up with the storyline, and made the effort to get your group together to play as often as possible.

The events that unfold in this adventure are so epic—and we hope so cool—that you deserve to read it like a novel, one in which every new chapter brings an unexpected twist. So dive right in. Don’t skip ahead. Read and savor each surprising chapter. Hell, you can even run each chapter before reading or running the next. It won’t affect your game.
I like how they pretty much admit that they expect that the GM has read all the HoE books and has been keeping track of everything. At least they're nice enough to summarize the major points from previous books so everyone's on the same page in case you missed something or didn't read one particular book, so at least I have to give them that.

Oh, and yeah that's a "NOT!" joke in 2002. For those too young to remember, Wayne's World (the origin of the joke) was the early 90's. Deadlands books were loving covered in lovely try-hard jokes like that as section headers.

So anyway, Scene One: "Opening Moves". This part of the adventure starts with two solid pages of explanation of the metaplot events from previous books that have set this whole mega-adventure up. In the adventure in the The City O' Sin sourcebook, evil mutant cult leader Silas Rasmussen and his "Cult of Doom" managed to open a portal through the Hunting Ground (a.k.a. Hell) to a city of peaceful mutants that seceded from his cult. This was to damage relationship between peaceful mutants and normal humans who were living together in said city, and to drum up more support for his war against the humans (he claimed it was the humans who kicked off the fight). But the main reason was to get his own troops all fired up for Silas' primary plan of just wiping out everyone who isn't part of his cult.

Part of Silas' plan involves a shaky alliance with another villain group, The Combine. The Combine was a large military organization that operated out of Denver, which by this point was a super high-tech cyborg factory run by an insane "kill all the humans" AI who was controlling the human face of the army: General Throckmorton.

Throckmorton wanted to take a city/trade hub called Junkyard, which was the largest city in the Wasted West and the central hub of the nation-wide-ish trade system called the Convoy. But being such an important part of rebuilding society, it was ridiculously well-defended. So the Denver AI and Silas came to an agreement to launch a double-sided attack: Throckmorton would come over the Rockies and attack from the east, then Silas would move in his mutant army from the west. Of course, both the AI and Silas planned to betray the other, but planned to work together anyway.

Now, at this point in the game line, rumors of Throckmorton's big "Harvest" have been circulating for a while because it's been a long-term plan. So technically speaking the players should know what the Harvest is in a general sense, or at the very least that Throckmorton's been looking to make a move on Junkyard.

Which brings us to the actual start of the adventure, "shortly after dinner" on December 31, 2095. The PCs are summoned to Junkyard by the members of the Iron Alliance (the heads of the various allied Good Guy Groups) and informed that Throckmorton is on his way to Junkyard.

And when I say "informed", I mean they get to stand around with the Junkyard defense forces and listen to someone talk for a while. This adventure loooooooves its boxed text, and at rough estimation at least a third of this book is "read this to the players" chunks. For example, here's the NPC's speech to the assembled forces. From here on out, anything in italics in a quote block is supposed to be read to the players.

quote:

“Hi brothers. I’m Calvin Ellis, but most folks call me ‘Preacher’ on account of I used to be one. I’m sure you’re wondering why you’ve been asked here.

I’m afraid it’s bad news. The Combine’s ‘Harvest’ has begun.”

Ellis waits for that to sink in before giving them the really bad news.

“It gets worse. Throckmorton’s made some kinda deal with the Cult o’ Doom. Rasmussen and around 20,000 three-eyed weirdos are headin’ toward Junkyard right now. Near as we can tell, the doomies are comin’ up I-15 to hit Junkyard from the south while the Combine hits from the north or east. Or maybe both.

The Convoy’s job is to block the muties here in the hills outside o’ old Provo. We got a good position here that overlooks I-15, and we’re spread out enough their magic won’t kill too many of us at once.

Once this fight’s over, we’re supposed to head up to Junkyard and take Throckmorton from behind. Er, that didn’t sound quite right. We’re supposed to ram ‘em in the rear. Pardon me brothers and sisters. I mean it’s a flank attack. That’s it. We got to hit these muties as hard and as fast as we can so we can get up to Junkyard and make sure Taylor’s boys hold.

So we’re callin’ in every friendly gun with a rep. What do you say, brothers and sisters, will you join our flock?”

Ha ha gay panic jokes! That certainly sets the mood for a big serious game-line-ending event, and is not at all unfunny!

Okay, maybe not serious, because Deadlands was always tongue-in-cheek, but come on. There's never a need for that.

So anyway it's assumed the PCs are willing to help defend this city full of innocents from the evil cyborgs and mutants, what with them being heroes and the GM buying the adventure and all. They're allowed to set themselves up wherever they want around the perimeter of the city. Exactly where doesn't matter because events will happen as presented no matter what.

Around midnight, the mutant forces reach an ambush point a few miles outside Junkyard. No matter how well-hidden the Convoy troops and PCs are, the mutants know where they are because, well, mutants with weird psychic powers. Oh, and there's about 4,000 of them, a number I want you to remember.

quote:

The horde approaches to within half a mile of the ridge. The elite troops exit the ragtag collection of buses and trucks that brought them here. The rest stand on foot in poorly-aligned ranks, a pathetic mockery of melee troops from ages past.

The mutant horde gathers for several minutes before everyone hears Silas deliver one last oration over a truck mounted PA system.

One of the muties is speaking in the distance. It’s a tinny sound, as if through a loudspeaker. By the sound of his voice, it can only be Silas Rasmussen.

“Brothers, sisters, and those in between! Our day has come! The norms who destroyed our errant brothers in Armana stand before us. They despise you for your scaly skin, your extraordinary vision, your massive teeth, or your monstrous strength! And they would kill you for it! They would kill you and mount your three-eyed skulls on their walls as cruel jokes!”

“But today we can strike them at their very heart. We can tear down the walls of Junkyard, where mutants are tortured and castrated or fed to wild animals! We can free our brothers and sisters and in-betweeners serving as slaves to the cruel tyrants of the ‘Iron Alliance.’ We can show the norms that it is they whom evolution has passed over. It is they who shall serve. It is they who shall be shown the true kindness of mutant-dom by ending their pathetic and antiquated existence.”

“Are you with me?”

The shouts of the mutant horde bring back odd memories. You think of a football game you attended before the war, when 100,000 fans screamed to prevent the visiting team from calling their plays. Oddly, you almost start to wave your arms in an attempt to quieten the mutants. But only death will silence these unfortunate creatures tonight.

Silas screams a few more times, then utters that word you’ve dreaded for hours now, “Charge!”

The mutants attack. A few hundred scream ahead on bikes or in cars rigged with machine guns, rockets, or other hardware. The vast majority of mutants charge forward on foot, however.

The Convoy opens fire with artillery hidden further back in Provo and a wave of junker tech. The big guns concentrate on vehicles first and then work their way over the scattering foot troops as they rush forward.

Small arms fire crackles next, ripping into the first waves of charging mutants less than 200 yards from the main line. The artillery stops when the muties reach the Convoy’s foxholes.

Now the real fighting begins. Fire erupts from both sides and green-robed Doombringers and Doomsayers among the crowd let off a string of arcane attacks. Dozens of
nukes, EMPs, and MIRVs explode along the ridgeline, killing scores of defenders in one Hellish barrage.

The Convoy and its other allies hold their ground, but the bursts give the foot troops time to charge the ridge itself. A few last salvos tear into the screaming mutants, but hundreds manage to hit the front lines and close into melee.

("Nuke", "EMP", and "MIRV" are mutant powers. HoE mutants are powered by what boils down to magic atomic radiation, so a lot of their powers are along those lines.)


"Go, my minions! Choke their rivers with our dead!"

At this point, the PCs finally get to do something! Yay!

Well, I should say, kind of do something. Since this adventure is meant to be run over "a few sessions" and involves a lot of mass combat, the adventure has some "Quick Combat rules". Remember, this was the era before mook rules caught on, so normally every enemy would have a full-on stat block that took up a quarter to half a page. So instead of having the PCs do a normal combat where they have to deal with seemingly overwhelming odds and maybe a really tough enemy leading a troop of cannon fodder, we use Quick Combat to minimize the time between the GM reading boxed texts.

How does Quick Combat work? Simple: each round a PC rolls their shootin' or fightin' skill, and then looks the result up on a chart to see how many Wounds he suffers and how many enemies he flat-out kills. But what if it's a character that uses special abilities like mutant powers instead of guns or swords? Oh, they still roll shootin' or fightin' but get to add up to +5 (GM's call) to the roll.



Not that it matters how many bad guys they kill, because there's a whole army there. All this is doing is making the PCs look "badass" despite them not actually being badass because they're not actually doing anything that affects anything. It doesn't matter if they kill zero enemies, two enemies, or twenty enemies: the enemy forces aren't weakened, you can't demoralize them, the winners and losers of the larger battle are already determined and nothing the PCs can do will change that. All this does is give the players the illusion that they're helping. You can't even kill all the forces you're fighting with Quick Combat because there's no set number of enemies, even though we got a count earlier! You just keep killing nameless mooks for X rounds until the adventure tells you to stop.

Exciting! :suicide:

So the PCs finally get to do something as the muties charge. Unfortunately, all they get to do is three rounds of Quick Combat at +2 to their rolls before the mutant forces reach melee range, at which point the PCs get do another three rounds of Quick Combat. At the end of the third round, they've just happened to wipe out all the muties in their immediate area; quite a coincidence, really. Meanwhile, the rest of the Convoy forces are getting wrecked. The PCs have a chance to put together a plan, but that plan doesn't matter because it's time for another metaplot story beat!

Another through-line of HoE was the war of the two different "religions" of mutants. All mutants get their power from radiation (supernatural nukes can do that), and mutant culture basically worships the "Glow", a.k.a radiation, and treat scientists like Oppenheimer or Curie like saints. From there we get into straight-up X-Men territory, because the mutants believe they're the next step of human evolution. Silas believes that since the muties are the next step, they have to clear out the evolutionary deadwood, a.k.a. normal humans. His primary enemy in this is a (literal) new-age hippy named Joan, who feels that while normal humans are doomed, that doesn't mean they should be hurried along that path. She's like the Xavier to Silas' Magneto. Kind of. Ish.

Anyway, since the beginning of the game line Joan has been preaching that a "Harbinger" would arrive, a chosen one who'd end the war between Joan's Doomsayers (good mutants) and Silas' Doombringers (bad mutants).

Guess who's about to show up?

quote:

You slam another magazine into your rifle and drat your luck as more and more muties charge up the hill. There seems no end to the hideous freaks this night.

You look up and howl one last furious curse at the stars—and see a strange red light. Something—a flare, or a helicopter, or some kind of jet with Vertical Take Off and Landing is coming in. You plug a few more muties charging you and your friends then watch as the ship continues to descend—smack into the middle of the ridge line!

Most everyone stops firing for a moment, waiting to see what this thing is and whose side it’s on. As it draws level, you can see it’s definitely a ship of some kind—like a spaceship! It’s small but sleek and painted jet black. Is it possible you’re being invaded by little green men just as you’re about to be eaten by big green ones?

The craft lands on the ridge line, scattering a group of muties and norms grappling in hand-to hand combat, and then it goes still. Most everyone is dead silent now, though a few hardened vets take the opportunity to whack nearby foes.

Then from the middle of the Convoy’s cars you see a bunch of purple-robed Doomsayers running up the hill. In the lead is a brown-haired woman—could that be Joan herself? She’s literally sprinting up the hill, screaming “Stop! Stop the fighting! It’s him! It’s him! As I have foretold!”

Now a single door on the ship starts to lower like a drawbridge. It looks like a scene from some bad sci-fi movie, but here it is. You’re ready for a big steel robot to step out and say “Klaatu Barata Nikto,” when what comes out but…

…a giant robot!

Only this one’s a pale white color with a blazing red electronic eye in the center of its head. It steps out, and in a mechanically amplified British voice it says “I am the Harbinger. Mutants, lay down your weapons, for I am more than the Harbinger. Much more. I am Doctor Darius Hellstromme! And I am your master!”

...Yeah.

Dr. Darrius Hellstrome is an NPC who's been around since original Deadlands book. He's a mad scientist, was the servitor of one of the Horsemen (but he's better now), and is the creator of the Ghost Rock Nuke (which makes him a holy figure to both Silas and Joan) which was used judiciously in World War III. So this whole current demon-irradiated setting is pretty much his fault.

Oh, and he's survived for over 200 years because he put his brain in robot body.

So Joan, her followers, and a large chunk of the attacking mutants bend knee to Hellstrome due to him being both a saint in their religion and a prophesized savior; Silas tries to get his forces to attack, and in another half-page of boxed text Hellstrome basically shouts louder than Silas and Silas just...shuts up and loses. Then we get another cutscene of, and I quote, "Uncle Hellstromme’s story-time".

quote:

The vast majority of the mutant horde drops their weapons and high-tail it (literally in some cases) back into the darkness. Silas Rasmussen continues to scream for a while, then a barrage of fire in his general direction silences the madman. You can hear his vehicles gunning their motors, returning south.

Silence follows for several long seconds, then a distant cheer starts at one end of the ridge line and ripples along toward the other.

This battle is over.

The Harbinger briefly speaks to Joan and the other schismatics nearby, then looks to the rest of the cheering crowd and gives one last cryptic speech.

“I’m glad I could be of help here today, but I also know I am largely responsible for the destruction of our world. I must also tell you that there is something far worse than the mutant horde or the Combine coming your way. I’m off now to find a way to stop it, and perhaps redeem myself for the horror I have subjected you to.”

With that, Hellstromme quickly steps into his spaceship, seals the door, and blasts off into the night sky.

Again the crowd goes silent. What could be worse than the Cult of Doom and the Combine?

Goose Mattox finally breaks the silence. “Shake it off, people. I’m throwing away my booze too, but despite tonight’s unexpected show we’ve still got a job to do. Let’s get to Junkyard and kick Throckmorton’s armored rear end or this was all for nothin’.”

The survivors of the ridge line pack up their heavy weapons and wounded and slowly trundle down the hill. There they load onto the Convoy’s vehicles, and start toward Junkyard for another bloody fight.

So there we go. The big reveal of the Harbinger, which was set up in the HoE core book and was a major plot point for mutant characters, was actually Hellstrome. Who shows up just long enough to say "Hey, it's me, I'm the Harbinger. Stop fighting. I have to go, my planet needs me. VWHOOOP"

This is the end of the first scene of the first chapter of the adventure. And the PCs have done nothing.

Seriously. All they've been able to do is five rounds of Quick Combat, and those had no effect on anything. Even if the players flub every roll and don't kill a single enemy, Hellstrome shows up, stops the fighting, all the evil mutants surrender, and Silas just leaves. Hell, that would have happened even if the PCs didn't show up and decided to not deal with this whole mess.

I mean, the book says there are four thousand mutants attacking, yet when Hellstrome shows up they all just...stop. A few leave with Silas, but the rest...uh, actually I'm not sure what happens to them because this is the last time the Doombringers are mentioned in the book. Do they join up with Joan? Do they surrender? Are they just gunned down? Who knows?

And I guess you could argue that this is just the first scene of the whole adventure and doesn't need to be that involved, but that ignores the whole fact that this was supposed to be a whole army attacking as part of a multi-prong attack on a major city that's part of a whole line-ended "wrap everything up" adventure! That's a big deal! It should be treated as such!

But no, instead we get about three pages of boxed text and GM description, and five rounds of pointless combat until an NPC shows up out of nowhere and tells the bad guys to go home.

And that's just the first scene. That's how we're starting things off. And it only gets worse from here.

NEXT TIME: Do we really need to be here for this?

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 19:48 on Apr 25, 2017

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Oh no The Unity. Oh no. I know where this train is going.

Brave New World was the setting where people didn't give a poo poo or buy into the metaplot strategy, but they did for Deadlands, and oh boyyyyy this is the culmination of all things wrong with it.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Evil Mastermind posted:

Classic.

I'll try to post the first part tonight or tomorrow now that I've got people's curiosity piqued. I'm really hope it lives up to the build-up I'm doing here.

(dance puppets! dance for me! :unsmigghh:)

I think I know the one and it does live up to the build up. It is so stupid.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Evil Mastermind posted:

So there we go. The big reveal of the Harbinger, which was set up in the HoE core book and was a major plot point for mutant characters, was actually Hellstrome. Who shows up just long enough to say "Hey, it's me, I'm the Harbinger. Stop fighting. I have to go, my planet needs me. VWHOOOP"

Holy poo poo. :eyepop:

I was never big into Deadlands, though I've been in a couple pretty enjoyable games. I haven't read the HoE books and I won't fight you over it, but this seems like a pretty dumb post-apocalyptic western. They have motorcycles and machine guns, and it's 200 years later, but people still talk like cowboys? That's pretty :crossarms: to me.

Anyway, thanks for doing this. The trainwreck books are my favorites.

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.

To be completely fair, you've actually got one tidbit wrong: The person you're given warnings about killing off in the Templars book is the leader of the _Templars_. (Who dies in a later adventure so the narrator from the player's guide becomes the leader and also so the leader of the Templars isn't a super-winky reference to The Saint.)

You personally murder the leader of the Anti-templars in the included adventure in the back of the Templars book.

The screw-you there is that the power you get for killing him has a ham-fisted corruption mechanic attached. (Like, 'you can use these powers maybe, uh, 4 times before you start becoming a supervillain.)

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:

HoE was a neat idea (really, I'm surprised there aren't more game combining westerns and post-apocalyptic concepts)

Is there anything official or unofficial for Stephen King's Dark Tower books? It's perfect for RPGs: mashup setting means you can bring in pretty much anything, guns and magic are already there, and 'a group of PCs' (ka-tet) is an in-setting mystical thing that people recognize. You can literally have somebody pop up out of nowhere and say 'ka has drawn you together, you trust each other, go kick rear end'.

A quick scan of that wall of text shows a bunch of things from the books: 'muties' and 'green robed Doombots'.

I mean 'post apocalyptic Western' describes Mad Max, and Fallout: New Vegas just said 'gently caress it' and made players listen to cowboy ballads for 50 hours.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 08:14 on Jan 28, 2017

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Evil Mastermind posted:

DEADLANDS: HELL ON EARTH/LOST COLONY - THE UNITY



Wonderful. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if all these 90s metaplots were actually failed novel pitches.

And I wonder how you could do a parody of a railroady adventure. Maybe start off as a normal railroad until one of the NPCs goes all "Who the f*ck are you guys?" to the PCs, as if he was only now becoming aware of these random guys following along and having no impact on the story? Or have one of the major NPCs - which the adventure spents multiple lines telling you that he can't be killed and is super important to the overarching plot - suddenly trip on a banana and break his neck in the first fight?
Or, you know, make Drosselmeyer the villain.

(And of course the core book includes a ridiculous backstory full of deep lore that has barely anything to do with the current setting - not that the PCs will ever uncover it - only for the very last paragraph to shalk it up as "optional stuff if you're into that kind of nonsense")

Doresh fucked around with this message at 08:39 on Jan 28, 2017

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


I like how despite history having gone off the rails in the 1860s, what with the South winning the civil war and, oh yes, a large scale demonic invasion, The Day the Earth Stood Still apparently still got made on schedule.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Angry Salami posted:

I like how despite history having gone off the rails in the 1860s, what with the South winning the civil war and, oh yes, a large scale demonic invasion, The Day the Earth Stood Still apparently still got made on schedule.

Just like how xcrawl features an alternate history in which the Roman Empire never collapsed, yet Reagan still ended up being born and becoming the leader of a good chunk of North America.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 11:10 on Jan 28, 2017

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Evil Mastermind posted:

It also contains what may be the single most insulting, infuriating thing I've ever read in a published product. And I say that as the guy who reviewed THE SECRET FIRETM. I'm just trying to get it 100% written so I don't end up trying to do too many things at once.

Is Stone involved?

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

I had typed a big furious screed about Deadlands' loving obnoxious metaplot and Devlin loving Stone, but then I saw Evil Mastermind had only covered part of the story so I've held back until he finishes this dreadful train wreck. Wouldn't want to spoil this wild glorious ride :v:

But on the subject of train wrecks...Deadlands had a spinoff called Great Rail Wars. It had an amazing concept - Necromunda/Frostgrave-style skirmishing between railroad work crews, all fighting to be the first to complete a transcontinental railroad in the steampunk weird west. It didn't work that into the mechanics all that much, but it was a solid Weird West tabletop game. If it had had a campaign mode and some way to tie progress to actual railroad construction, then it would have been seriously good.

It's also one of the very very few wargames - maybe the only one - to have a canonical victor.

Yup, it was Helstromme. gently caress you, wargame players, your railroad company and skirmish dudes got explicitly and canonically nuked (no really). By Helstromme.

gently caress you, Deadlands.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Loxbourne posted:

But on the subject of train wrecks...Deadlands had a spinoff called Great Rail Wars. It had an amazing concept - Necromunda/Frostgrave-style skirmishing between railroad work crews, all fighting to be the first to complete a transcontinental railroad in the steampunk weird west. It didn't work that into the mechanics all that much, but it was a solid Weird West tabletop game. If it had had a campaign mode and some way to tie progress to actual railroad construction, then it would have been seriously good.
IIRC, the Savage Worlds RPG system is essentially derived from Great Rail Wars.

And Warhammer Fantasy Battles had a canonical victor, too - Chaos won, the world got unmade and then remade into the infinitely shittier Age of Sigmar game.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


FMguru posted:

IIRC, the Savage Worlds RPG system is essentially derived from Great Rail Wars.

And Warhammer Fantasy Battles had a canonical victor, too - Chaos won, the world got unmade and then remade into the infinitely shittier Age of Sigmar game.

And for that, gently caress you, too, GW.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



unseenlibrarian posted:

To be completely fair, you've actually got one tidbit wrong: The person you're given warnings about killing off in the Templars book is the leader of the _Templars_. (Who dies in a later adventure so the narrator from the player's guide becomes the leader and also so the leader of the Templars isn't a super-winky reference to The Saint.)

You personally murder the leader of the Anti-templars in the included adventure in the back of the Templars book.

The screw-you there is that the power you get for killing him has a ham-fisted corruption mechanic attached. (Like, 'you can use these powers maybe, uh, 4 times before you start becoming a supervillain.)
Ah, I misremembered and was too lazy to go and double-check. I'll fix that.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Is Stone involved?
Nope! Due to time wonkery he's actually not around anymore.

Asehujiko
Apr 6, 2011


Are people reading but not commenting on Polaris because there's so little to say about the game's bone dry subject matter or is a game that starts off with 90 page fake geography textbook just too much? I've still got another 30 pages of contradictory history sections and those settlement writeups alone to go.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Evil Mastermind posted:

Nope! Due to time wonkery he's actually not around anymore.

Oh goody! I can rant about Devlin loving Stone now!

In my opinion Deadlands wins the crown for Most Stupidly Obnoxious 90s Metaplot hands-down because of what I'm about to relate.

Stone shows up in the first Deadlands as a terrifying undead bounty hunter-type figure, a Man With No Name type. He's dark, he's mysterious, he has one of those special "if the players try to fight him they die" clauses in effect. The idea is that he was a Harrowed (an undead gunfighter whose corpse is animated by a demon) who was just so badass that he terrorised his inner demon into submission.

In Hell on Earth we discover that he was really sent back in time, Terminator-style, to ensure WW3 happened. The reason no-one in the 19th century could ever defeat him is that he's also a cyborg packing lasers. There was no way a Deadlands GM could have known that, of course, so they just went the ol' "no PC can defeat him" route. But this one went further than just invulnerability.

You see, Stone's reason to go back in time was that the Reckoners' plans in the future actually don't go too well. Human heroes kept kicking their asses and averting disaster. His true mission is to ensure a dark future by killing off the human heroes who would go on to slay too many monsters in the future and mess up the plan. That explicitly includes the PCs. No really. It's stated outright in the opening to the Hell on Earth core book. Anything your Deadlands party might have done in the 1800s timeframe that threatens to derail the mighty metaplot train is erased from history. Why? Because Stone goes back in time and kills them before they can do it.

In Deadlands game canon, every single PC ever is strangled in their cradle (or killed as a level-1 greenhorn) by the ultra-mega-super-wonder DMPC from the future.

gently caress you, Deadlands.

Loxbourne fucked around with this message at 20:41 on Jan 29, 2017

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Asehujiko posted:

Are people reading but not commenting on Polaris because there's so little to say about the game's bone dry subject matter or is a game that starts off with 90 page fake geography textbook just too much? I've still got another 30 pages of contradictory history sections and those settlement writeups alone to go.
The latter, I think. There's not much to really say about lists of people and colonies.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Asehujiko posted:

Are people reading but not commenting on Polaris because there's so little to say about the game's bone dry subject matter or is a game that starts off with 90 page fake geography textbook just too much? I've still got another 30 pages of contradictory history sections and those settlement writeups alone to go.

I'm reading Polaris but there's just not a lot to say. Your comments are quite right, it's not very interesting or coherent - which unfortunately means there's not much to add. It's mediocre and very long-winded, rather than funny-bad.

Mr.Misfit
Jan 10, 2013

The time for
SkellyBones
has come!


Asehujiko posted:

Are people reading but not commenting on Polaris because there's so little to say about the game's bone dry subject matter or is a game that starts off with 90 page fake geography textbook just too much? I've still got another 30 pages of contradictory history sections and those settlement writeups alone to go.

I suppose its just the dryness of the text overwhelms any attempt at commenting. Though I really like how you count the number of Dead End Metaplot references or contradictions that may occur, sometimes within the span of a few single pages (mind boggling, really).

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



DEADLANDS: HELL ON EARTH/LOST COLONY - THE UNITY



Part 2: A wall of text crushes you for 20 damage!

Okay, so Chapter One, Scene Two: The Defense of Junkyard.

When we left off before, the heroes were defending the city of Junkyard from the first wave of a combined assault from an army of insane mutants and an army of paramilitary cyborgs. Except the PCs didn't actually defend anything, they just made a few irrelevant rolls until setting NPC Dr. Hellstrome showed up and told the evil mutants and their insanely powerful leader to go away. Which they did. Oh, and the PCs had absolutely nothing to do with it one way or the other. Now all that's left is the Combine.

poo poo you don't care about but I have to explain so I can explain the rest of this poo poo to you.
As I said before, the Combine is basically a pseudo-military organization operating out of the ruins of Denver and run by the once-good-and-now-evil-AI-controlled cyborg General Throckmorton. Denver was a very high-tech city due to Hellstrome setting up shop there back in the 1800's, and in the time between Classic and HoE became a major manufacturing center for military cyborgs. Cyborgs have the whole cyberpsychosis "kill all the humans" problem despite them being human themselves, but this is because (spoiler alert) cyborgs are actually undead. Yeah, turns out that living tissue can't work well with implanted hardware, so the military got around that problem by using Harrowed. The only reason they're not controlled by their manitous is because there's an onboard AI that counteracts this. But given that the AI controlling Denver itself has gone kill-crazy, it's obvious there's still a few bugs to work out.

That said, the bulk of Throckmorton's forces consist of three major troop types. There are the automotonons, your basic war robots and vehicles controlled by zombie brains; "Red Hats", the cyborgs who are in charge of the actual troops; and the "Black Hats", who are human troops who've signed up with the Combine. They get the best gear available in the setting, but the downside is that they also get implanted with brain bombs to keep them loyal. Oh, and their gear is chipped and rigged to explode if they're used by someone without a matching implanted chip, so scavengers can't use their gear after the fact.

So anyway, we pick up with the PCs heading back to Junkyard getting a ride on a flatbed. The convoy stops about five miles outside of Junkyard because the leaders are waiting for a signal (not that the PCs would know this). The driver tells the PCs that a) the good guys will be outnumbered at least 2-1, b) that the leaders of the Iron Alliance have a plan, and c) the PCs have a specific job to do. They need to keep an eye out for mobile artillery and take it out, and to help them with this gives them exactly two incendiary grenades. Then a cutscene happens.

quote:

It feels like you’ve been waiting for days, though it’s really only been an hour or so since you stopped here. Your nerves dance like hot wires waiting for this mysterious “signal.”

Finally, the battle starts, perhaps five miles north of you in the dark night. A low rumble sounds in the distance. Artillery?

Now you hear the staccato bursts of anti-air fire and the rush of turbines—the all-too familiar sound of raptors. Suddenly a salvo of surface-to-air missiles race from somewhere below the horizon and into the sky. At least two make contact and create two beautiful fireballs high in the night sky.

The Convoy starts forward—not fast, but at a slow creeping pace that makes you all the more nervous.

Ten minutes later you crest a low rise and can make out beautiful Junkyard. Her walls blaze with small arms fire, rockets, and even a few flamethrowers.

You pass around a pair of night-vision binoculars and feel your guts curl into a knot. In the binoculars’ green light you make out hundreds of cars, motorcycles, trucks, and even the dreaded hovertanks advancing on the city, drawing ever closer. Legions of Black Hats and automatons advance on the wall, firing as they go. Scores of valiant defenders tumble from the heights, but scores more take their place.

Then something begins to hum, something from within the walls of Junkyard itself. The humming grows louder, so loud you can feel it rattling your teeth!

Now the front line of the Combine’s horde impacts the wall. Dozens more lines of merciless troops follow! There’s no hope against these numbers—no way Junkyard can stand.

Then the humming surges one last time. A wave of violet energy rushes out from the wall and washes over the stunned forces of the Combine below. The sudden silence is deafening. The rattle of machine guns stops, the screech of tires halt, and even the whir of turbines from raptors and hover tanks fades.

A loudspeaker from somewhere inside Junkyard suddenly blares to life. “This is Ike Taylor. Now’s the time, survivors! The Combine’s weapons are useless and their automatons are jammed for half an hour! Charge! Charge! Charge!”

Massive floodlights from hidden sconces in the wall flood the surrounding plains. Thousands of Black Hats stand stunned, trying desperately to work guns that won’t fire! Raptors fall from the sky and crash to earth, their engines seemingly dead. Hover tanks stop and hit the ground with heavy thuds. Automatons freeze in place like grotesque mannequins. Now you understand. The rumors of Hellstromme’s secret weapons hidden under the walls has somehow stopped the Combine dead in their tracks.

For half an hour.

The walls of Junkyard open and thousands of angry survivors rush out to wreak havoc on the stunned Combine.

It’s time to let slip the dogs of war, and you are the dogs.

Why yes, that is almost a solid page of boxed text, thanks for asking.

So what happened? The book is actually kind enough to explain: in the Iron Oasis sourcebook about Junkyard itself, they mention that Hellstrome set up some kind of force field system that the city can switch on for defense against the usual array of raiders and would-be warlords. They also hinted that the shield had another, special ability, but didn't reveal what that ability was until now: it's a sort of supernatural EMP that knocks out any ability that relies on energy from the Hunting Grounds to work by temporarily cutting off the connection to said realm. Because Throckmorton's stuff all works off "mad science", which is pseudo-science held together with demonic energy duct tape, all his troops' poo poo just stopped working for half an hour.

By the way: why on God's green earth would the shield's special effect need to be hidden from the GM back in the book it was first mentioned in? So it could be a "surprise"? What's the point of that? I guess they didn't want GMs using that ability in their campaigns in case it was a spoiler or something.

Oh, and here's a fun fact: the PCs weren't given anything to protect them from the effect of the shield. So if you have a cyborg PC, he's shut down too; I don't know if that means he's "dead" or if he gets to just sit around and watch for a while, though. Oh, and anyone who uses abilities that draw on supernatural energy? Yeah, those are gone for half an hour too. You know what counts as a supernatural power? All of them. Characters with mutant powers, templar stuff, spells, junker mad science, even shaman abilities and Harrowed powers all just got switched off. The book doesn't say what happens to Harrowed PCs once all the magic goes away, which is a bit of an oversight given that they're undead powered by a demon that needs that magic to keep, you know, existing, but whatever. The bottom line is that nothing supernatural works for a mile around Junkyard for half an hour.

The Junkyard troops pour out of the city while the Black Hats are distracted, and the Convoy comes in from behind catching the Black Hats in a pincer formation. The truck the PCs are on plows through the bad guys and comes up alongside a disabled mobile artillery piece. The artillery was being transported by a truck driven by a now disabled zombie brain and was escorted by two cyborgs who are now dead thanks to the shield burst, so I guess PC cyborgs and Harrowed are just hosed after all. Regardless, the PCs still need to blow up the artillery piece before the human troops figure out they can still fire the drat thing.


BOOM! KPOW! BLAM BLAM BLAM! PSHOOOM!

The PCs can use one of the thermite grenades they were given to blow up the artillery.

quote:

A Fair (5) demolitions roll puts it in the right spot. The grenade lights up like a road flare and begins to burn a hole straight down through the chassis of the tank and into the automaton brain-case sealed within. Even on a demolitions failure, the tank’s internal systems are damaged enough that it cannot fire (though it might limp away to fight another day when the scrambling stops).
Yup...once again even if they fail they succeed because their actions don't matter at all. It's like someone heard of "failing forward" but didn't quite get the idea. Side note: who gives a poo poo if this particular artillery piece survives to be used again later? It's not like it's going to be come a recurring NPC or something, it's just a friggin' Howitzer. What's more, the end of the adventure would make it a moot point anyway.

While they're making the why-bother-rolling demolitions skill check, they get jumped by a dozen Black Hats who haven't figured out that their brain bombs are disabled yet. They're only armed with knives since their guns don't work, so they're really not much of a threat for the types of experienced PCs this adventure is aimed at.

And since this is a 90's RPG, these mooks get full stat blocks despite the fact that they're just nameless fodder intended for one scene in the middle of a gigantic-rear end war. You know, in case the GM needs to know how good they are at swimming, or gambling, or how well they know their way around Denver.

So the PCs wipe out the mooks and disable the big gun. When this is over the half-hour is apparently up because right after that fight is a scene that starts with the half-hour being up. So I guess it wasn't that big a deal that all the PC's powers got shut down. Well, I guess it was a big deal for those characters who needed that energy to live, but hey, omelets, eggs, etc.

When the half-hour is up, about 60% of the Combine's forces have been wiped out while their heavy hitters were down, and the rest retreat. Junkyard is victorious, and a bunch of the major setting NPCs and faction leaders all come out and high-five each other even though none of them really did anything either; in fact half of them weren't even mentioned as being around until this point. Then Ike Taylor, head of Junkyard, reads the next page of the script.

quote:

“Today is a great day, citizens of Junkyard and friends from afar. We’ve broken the back of the Combine. But we know better than to let them rebuild. Now we’ve got to finish the job. The Convoy and our own mobile forces are ready to pursue Throckmorton’s dogs all the way to Denver. There we’ll rally with thousands of allies from the east for the final siege on Denver itself!”

The crowd goes wild, hungry for more blood and bolts. Ike lets the mob scream a bit, then finishes his sermon.

“Survivors, leave your wounded here. They’ll be cared for as heroes. The rest of you who have pledged yourselves to our cause, fuel up your rigs here at Junkyard or hitch a ride on a bus or a truck. Goose Mattox is in charge of the expedition, and he’s ready to roll all the way to Denver! Now let’s finish this thing!”

The crowd lets out one more huge cheer and then everyone goes to work. Some start repairing their damaged rigs, others get in line for Junkyard’s spook juice, and those awaiting rides stoke up fires and warm themselves as best they can while they wait.

It seems Throckmorton’s Harvest is all but over.
And with that, chapter one ends. The Combine is routed, Junkyard is saved. And the PCs had absolutely NOTHING to do with it. At all.

Seriously. The group's actions have literally zero effect on anything that happened in this chapter. In the first half, they just get to mow down nameless mooks for five rounds of "quick combat" until Hellstrome shows up and ends the fight because metaplot, and in the second half they just fight a bunch of mooks and disable one piece of artillery that wasn't able to do any damage anyway. They couldn't even fail at diabling the gun! The difficulty was so low you probably couldn't fail it if you had the skill, and even if they botched the roll the gun was still disabled because metaplot.

So really the players got to sit around while the GM read boxed text to them, and occasionally got to make some rolls, then at the end of the chapter get some XP. Whoop de loving do.

Oh, and if the PCs decide to shoot the two disabled cyborgs in the head just to be on the safe side, the ones who pulled the trigger get an XP bonus at the end of the chapter.

quote:

We know that’s not politically correct, but these are bad, bad guys.
Stay classy, Deadlands: Hell on Earth/Lost Colony - The Unity.

And guess what, folks. It gets worse.

NEXT TIME: Aimless railroading

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PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Asehujiko posted:

Are people reading but not commenting on Polaris because there's so little to say about the game's bone dry subject matter or is a game that starts off with 90 page fake geography textbook just too much? I've still got another 30 pages of contradictory history sections and those settlement writeups alone to go.

It's a bit hard to comment on much of it. Personally I'd suggest summarizing more, and focusing on the particularly stand-out and interesting parts. 90 pages of a fake geography textbook is fine... as long as you summarize it into five pages, focusing on the stuff that's particularly stupid, interesting or creative for the most part.

quote:

Side note: who gives a poo poo if this particular artillery piece survives to be used again later? It's not like it's going to be come a recurring NPC or something, it's just a friggin' Howitzer.

It would probably be too funny for the devs to even consider it if it did, though. Like if they don't blow it up, it shows up in a bar later, sitting, depressed, by a drink. It shows up in an alley with a sign in front of it saying: "Will Shell Bunkers 4 Cents" etc.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 17:30 on Jan 28, 2017

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