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Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Evil Mastermind posted:

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.

What's better than a railroad where you don't do anything but make pointless rolls that do nothing? Having a rock fall on you because the writers forgot your character's class was a thing!

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Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



I've been skimming the Polaris posts, but the setting mostly seems kind of relentlessly samey with regards to the different nations.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


quote:

We know that’s not politically correct, but these are bad, bad guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz59tFR2KMs

Things your badass uncucked post-apocalyptic heroes do in this adventure: spend exactly 5 rounds killing xD6 nameless mutants in a context-free vacuum, melt a large gun regardless of roll results, receive bonus XP for exterminating surrendered POWs

Kellsterik fucked around with this message at 18:30 on Jan 28, 2017

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





PurpleXVI posted:

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.

Honestly this. My two cents, this thread works better when it hilights the silliness rather than goes into a Let's Read paragraph by paragraph epic.

Dedman Walkin
Dec 20, 2006





Loxbourne posted:

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

As a nerd who got hooked on RPGs via Deadlands, I gotta be that kinda jerk and bring up that Stone's first name is Jasper. I think you mixed up Stone with the last name of another NPC, Mina Devlin, head of Black River Railroad.

And as a Deadlands fan, The Unity is one lovely adventure. And I'm sure everyone here will hate THAT THING because I thought it was total bullshit when I read it way back when.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Devlin Stone is a metaplot npc from Battletech, who is not quite as offensive as Time-Traveling Zombie Stone .

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Dedman Walkin posted:

As a nerd who got hooked on RPGs via Deadlands, I gotta be that kinda jerk and bring up that Stone's first name is Jasper.

Alas my copies of the books are long gone. But entertainingly, I checked the name on another wiki before posting and they had it wrong too.

This just makes him slightly more annoying from my standpoint :v:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



DEADLANDS: HELL ON EARTH/LOST COLONY - THE UNITY



Part 3: I don't need to walk around in circles

It's time for chapter two! Maybe this time the PCs will get to do somethahahaha I can't even finish that sentence.

The summary for this chapter is that the PCs are part of the force sent to wipe out the Combine once and for all now that over half their forces are dead. Then, while the main force lays seige to Denver, the PCs are instructed to infiltrate the city and hook up with the Resistance to take down Throckmorton from the inside.

quote:

Assuming all that goes well, what happens next is such a big shocker that we’ll just let you read along. Trust us though—it’s a surprise even MGKelley and the listserv couldn’t possibly have seen coming!
Man, listservs. Remember those? :allears: I'm guessing MGKelley was the manager or something there, so if so that's a nice shout-out.

The first scene ("Pusuit") starts with the Iron Alliance forces chasing down the Combine army. The pursuit takes five days, during which time the Junkyard forces manage to pick off pockets of stragglers from the retreating Combine forces. The PCs are one of the groups tasked to do this; in fact, they have to clear three pockets of Black Hats before this scene can end. But don't worry, it's just Quick Combat so it really doesn't matter! The book gives two tables to roll against to determine how many humans and automotons the PCs need to wipe out and the location the fight takes place in, which gives a modifier to Quick Combat rolls.

quote:

The heroes have to keep rolling until all of their foes in each mission are defeated. Each Black Hat counts as one casualty, but it takes three casualties to take down each automaton (and they’re always the last to go down).
Exciting!

Oh, and:

quote:

Make sure to allow your heroes to heal up between fights if they have the ability. You want to beat them up here, not kill them.
They're not even "manage your resources/health so you don't run out too early" fights, or "start whittling down the PCs before a huge battle" fights. There's no real threat or point to any of these fights so why bother? I guess technically they could start running low on ammo, but given that they're currently part of a large military force I doubt they'd have a hard time getting more bullets.

Now we get to Scene Two: Battle at Vail Pass. Vail is an old ski resort town in the Rockies, and this is where the Combine force's last commander is attempting to make a last stand, stalling for time until reinforcements arrive. This is another set piece battle, only this time the PCs aren't going to be airquote-involved. Instead, they're needed to take out a nearby anti-air missile emplacement so that the Iron Alliance's air support can come in and take out the ground troops. Fortunately, they know roughly where it is because it gave its position away when it took out a friendly chopper. Unfortunately, they have only two hours to get to that position and take out the SAM before Throckmorton's reinforcements arrive.

And believe it or not, the PCs can solve this problem however they want! The two most immediate solutions involve sweet-talking a friendly pilot to fly them to the site or draw enemy fire, or going on foot and making five difficult search rolls (at 10 minutes per check) to find the site, because the SAM has moved and the troops manning it have dug in and hidden themselves. On top of all that, it's pretty cold up in the mountains, so unless they had some foresight to get cold weather gear they have to worry about that too.

quote:

Every hour spent in the cold forces the hero to make a Hard (9) Vigor roll and lose the difference in Wind. This can only be recovered when the hero warms up. Add +2 for really good winter gear, no modifier for standard coats, and -1 to -4 for ill-prepared chicks in chainmail (but God bless ‘em).
Stay classy, Deadlands: Hell on Earth/Lost Colony - The Unity.



Once the PCs find the site, they have to fight the Black Hats guarding the launcher. Sadly, the book forgot to mention how many of these guys there are.

And holy poo poo, we now get two sections about what happens if the PCs succeed or fail! Finally, the PC's actions make a difference in the overall narrative!

If the PCs take out the SAM within two hours, then the air support comes in and starts bombing Vail. Throckmorton's air support comes in, but it's too little too late. The ground forces are routed, with the Iron Alliance forces now numbering 7,000 and the Combine's standing at 2,000 left. The remnants of the Combine retreat back to Denver, the PCs get hearty handshakes all around, and we move on to the next scene.

If the PCs fail to take out the SAM in the allotted time, then Throckmorton's forces have time to dig in, and the reinforcements show up. The PCs have to join an assault team in taking out a heavy machine gun emplacement manned by 24 entrenched Black Hats and an automaton. And sadly, this is just another Quick Combat, but at -4 to all rolls. The PCs need to chew through all 24 bad guys and the automaton, at which point the rest of the Junkyard forces rout the Combine forces. The remnants of the Combine retreat back to Denver, the PCs get hearty handshakes all around, and we move on to the next scene.

...Oh, wait. Those aren't really that different at all. And since it's another day before the next scene outside Denver, they'll have plenty of time to heal if they didn't do a great job in the Quick Combat. So once again, the PC's actions have no effect on anything, apart from having to do a few more rounds of Quick Combat if they fail, and once again that won't even be a drain on their resources.

Regardless, we now move to Scene Three: The Teller Brigade. Teller is another major NPC, but does not appear in this adventure, let alone this scene, so I don't know why it's called that. I went through the Denver sourcebook and Teller does come up in the books's backstory, but there's no "Teller Brigade" that I could find, so I guess they confused their internal campaign with the actual published stuff?

The PC finally arrive at the walled city of Denver to find that the rest of the army is already dug in and laying seige to the place. The seige lasts for three days with the good guys unable to really make a dent in Denver's defenses.

quote:

On the first night, around 2am, the Combine sends out a wave of Black hats to raid and create confusion. One of the groups come close to your posse—have everyone make a Quick Combat roll at +1. This is the only excitement tonight.
Woo. :effort:

The next morning, the PCs are assigned to sneak into the city and hook up with a group of the Denver Resistance who want to blow up the Combine's ammo factory. And yes, it's presented as "the" ammo factory, not "an" ammo factory. I guess they only have the one. (Yeah, I know, nitpicking.)

The PCs are escorted to some ruins near the city walls, and the army lays down some distracting cover fire long enough for the PCs to sneak in and get into the city. The PCs have to get to the Rock Bottom Brewery to meet the rebels to hand off some heavy weapons and explosives, and are given a rough map to guide them. Not they have to actually explore or anything; they get there after one random encounter from the Denver sourcebook if the GM happens to have that. Otherwise...

quote:

If you don’t have that book, you can simply make up some details of the city and have them avoid several Black Hat patrols. Once, as they duck down a back alley to avoid Black Hats, the heroes discover a lurker (see the Hell on Earth rule book). Fight this thing out with Quick Combat, but it goes on until at least one hero gets an 18 or better on his attack roll. On any roll of 4 or less, 10 Black Hats show up to investigate the noise and join in the fight (this can only happen once per round). Keep it going until the lurker and any reinforcing Black Hats are waxed.
When the group reaches the Brewery, they meet Resistance member Sarah Olsen. I don't know if she's an established character from the Denver sourcebook and at this point I can't be bothered to check. The PCs hand off the gear, and...hold on, but this is going to blow your mind...she ends up asking the PCs for some help on something. Shocking, I know.

quote:

Sarah is blonde with big brown eyes and fairly cute (which is why she was chosen for this), and doesn’t hesitate to use her feminine wiles if it helps her get her way.
Stay classy, Deadlands: Hell on Earth/Lost Colony - The Unity.

Anyway.

quote:

“Thanks for the stuff—we’ll put it to good use. Here are the kids.”

Sarah knocks on an old beer vat—a metal tank nearly eight feet tall and four feet wide. You look inside the torn wall to see a concealed hatch open in the bottom. Staring up at you are five sets of big round eyes set in very small heads. Kids.

“What kids?” you ask. “We weren’t told about any kids.”

“Hmm. Not my problem. I was told to make sure these kids got out with you. We rescued ‘em recently and with the attack on, this is no place for children.”

The blonde turns to the children as they climb out of the vat. “Okay, guys. You’re getting out with these nice folks. Be careful, and show them the sneaky way out, okay?”
Yes, the boxed text narration has gotten so bad it's actually telling the PCs what they say. That's gotta be a record.

But never mind that, it's time for an escort mission! The thing is, though, is that the kids (ages 5 to 15) are the ones who know their way around Denver, so they know how not to wander off and get killed. This means that the PCs just have to lead the kids out, but don't have to make any rolls or anything, there's no fights, and they don't actually have to wrangle the kids. They just leave with the kids and start the next scene the next day. So what the gently caress was the point of this?

The other thing is that the 11-year-old girl is actually an infiltrator cyborg.

quote:

Jessie doesn’t actually do anything “on camera.” Her objective is to relay exact troop positions back to the Combine so that they can properly target the Junkyarders with indirect fire. Your group might have some way of detecting Jessie’s true identity, however. If so, she tries to run for it, and only fights if cornered. Her first action is to try and grab a weapon off someone (an opposed Strength roll with a raise).
So this might wind up as a fight. Or it might not. Either way it (surprise!) doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, so again I have no idea why this was included.

Wait, weren't they supposed to be blowing up anthe ammo depot? I guess not; they just brought in supplies so someone else could do it, thus showing once again that even though the PCs are the "heroes" they're not actually doing anything.

After this completely pointless sidetrack and reveal we come to Scene Four: The Siege of Denver, which takes place the morning after the previous scene. The bombing of the city went on until 4 am that morning, at which point the Iron Alliance gave the Combine the opportunity to surrender, admittedly more in the interest of saving ammo than anything else.

No word's come through from Denver yet one way or the other, and after a while one of the NPC leaders comes to the group to tell them that the aid the Iron Alliance was expecting from the east hasn't arrived yet and people are starting to get worried. The group is going to be flown over I-70 towards St. Louis to find out why the force from there has vanished. The group's provided with a chopper and a pilot named Hal.

So away the PCs go.

quote:

On the way to St. Louis (a few hours after leaving), a storm breaks. Dark clouds cover the plains and heavy rain pours, but Hal and the heroes can just make out a handful of cars and motorcycles screaming up a broken highway. As Hal moves in for a closer look, one of the lead cars hits a pothole at high speed and flips end over end. Most of the others continue on, but two bikers double back to check for survivors.

The action is in the players’ hands now. Everyone in the flipped car is alive, though wounded and dazed. The bikers can only pick up two of the four occupants. They yell for the others to come back, but their friends can’t hear them and move on. It’s very clear the two bikers don’t know what else to do and aren’t keen on leaving two of their wounded behind (a sure sign that they’re “good guys”). If left on their own, the bikers eventually argue a bit more, then hand the two worst wounded a single pistol. The other two wounded grimly mount the bikes and continue on their way.
Assuming the PCs head down to help, they can easily save the two stragglers. If they do, they're told that the bikers were fleeing from "thousands of zombies!" If they don't, well, they're going to find out about a mile further along. Either way, this isn't really a decision point because regardless of whether or not the PCs go to help the exact same thing happens.

quote:

There are dead men as far as your eyes can see. Thousands—maybe tens of thousands—are on foot. But these are no lumbering zombies from an ancient vid-slug. These things sprint along the busted highway, never tiring. Alongside them are hundred of trucks—mostly flatbeds—carrying even more undead. A few of them are armed and fire in your direction. Most are unarmed however, and simply snarl at the whine of your engines and the delicious blood still coursing in your veins.

Here and there among the grotesque throng are worse things—gloms, undead animals, and odd creatures with
mechanical bits jammed into their unfeeling flesh. But as unsettling as these horrors are, the true terror is the simple staggering number of the dead running your way.
Oh man, the PCs should probably head back and report th

quote:

You’re still staring at the unbelievable host before you when something even more amazing happens. You can just make out a single figure screeching and pointing at you—a zombie—but an unusually tall and lanky one. It waves its arms and a bizarre, almost comical thing happens. Sickly green energy races from its hand and surrounds five of the nearest zombies. The tall thing then throws its hand toward you and the pack comes streaking through the air toward your chopper!

Hal jinks with unbelievable speed, but three of the things catch hold of the rails and start climbing in. A fourth smashes into the propeller and is shredded, but the chopper takes a serious nosedive and heads toward the earth!

“Hang on!” Hal screams. You deal with the crawling deaders while Hal proves his mettle. Hal flips off the engines and lets what left of the shattered propellers auto-rotate, slowing your descent as much as possible. The chopper angles in, far too fast you think, and heads straight for the top of a nearby building. It smashes into the rooftop and every bone in your body feels like it’s in a trash compactor. You black out for just a moment from the concussion, but the spastic dead things still crawling after you snap you back to reality. There’s no doubt that with any other pilot, you’d be joining this grisly horde.
...oh. Never mind then. These super-zombies are a new type of monster called "deaders", and are referred to as such in boxed text despite the PCs never being told what they're called in-game, but really at this point that's just me being over nit-picky.

On the plus side, the pilot managed to land them on a roof instead of in the direct path of the horde. The PCs have to deal with the two zombies that survived being hadoken'd at the chopper, at which point they see a few hundred "deaders" peel off from the main group and start towards the building they're on.

There's no way to fight off that many zombies, so really the only option is to run. The streets are chock full of undead, so the only way the PCs can go is to jump to a builing 10 feet away. Failing the roll is bad, because it's 130 feet down, and assuming you survive the fall you'll be overwhelmed by zombies in 2d6 rounds.

Assuming at least one person makes it across without falling to their doom, the group has a few minutes before the deaders crawl up to the first building and realize that the heroes aren't there. But don't worry, instead of a running battle across rooftops that would eventually lead to a dead end, there's a conveniently open manhole in the street, conveniently below the PCs and, even more conveniently, there aren't any zombies around it! How convenient!

Oh, and Hal's still alive. If the PCs don't notice the manhole, or don't think it's viable, he's the one who says "it's safer than the streets, and maybe we can find a vehicle."

So everyone jumps into the sewer, and find themselves in a four-way junction with no real idea on where to go, and are shortly followed by a bunch of groups of deaders. Instead of giving a map the PCs have to wander around aimlessly, we get a more cinematic-toned but potentially infinite-looping skill challenge. Each character has to make a Smarts roll, and then the GM takes the lowest result and looks that up on a provided table to see what happens. On a botch, this happens:

quote:

One of the heroes (the one with the lowest Smarts roll) finds a ladder leading up about 20’. He climbs it and tells everyone the coast is clear. Just as he finishes the “clear” part, a pair of long, dead arms yanks him out of sight. The hero is grappled by a zombie and must fight a Quick Combat round at -6 by himself. Another 9 wait at the top of the ladder, and the posse may join in after the first round.
Results between 1 and 9 result in Quick Combat against more zombies, at which point the group makes another Smarts roll. Getting a 10+ lets the party find the gated exit, but a hard Brawn roll (difficulty 9) is needed to bust through the gate.

But here's the thing.

The old Deadlands system had stats rated in XdY die values. You know, 1d4, 2d6, etc. To do stuff, you rolled your relevant stat with exploding dice, took the single highest die, sometimes added a modifier, and had to beat a difficulty number. A difficulty of 9 is considered a "Hard" check. In order to get out of the drat sewers, everyone in the group has to roll Smarts, and the lowest roll is what determines the result on the table. It's possible for someone to have a Smarts stat of Xd4 or 1d6, meaning that they can't get a 10 or better without some lucky die exploding. In fact, one of the results on the table is that the next Smarts roll is at -2! So if the dumbest character's Smarts uses d4s, in this case they'd need to roll a 4, then another 4, then a 3. I'm no anydice expert, but I'm guessing that's not very likely to happen.

(In fact, I did look up an anydice thing to calculate the odds on exploding d4's. Assuming I'm reading this right, you have a 1.56% chance of getting a 10 or better.)

And yes, Deadlands did use standard colored poker chips as metagame currency to let players boost rolls. BUT. White chips (the most common) just let you add one die to your pool (you still have to take the highest die), reds let you roll an extra die and add it to your total but lets the GM get a chip, and blues (the rarest and hardest to get) do the same as reds but don't give the GM a chip. So if your Smarts is too low to roll a 9+ by itself, you're probably going to need to spend at least a red chip to be able to reach it. Hope you have some red chips or don't spend it and fail anyway! :v:

It also begs the question of why the dumbest character is the one making the rolls. Wouldn't it make sense for the smartest person to make these rolls? Not just from a mechanical standpoint, but from a narrative one as well. I doubt groups would go "okay, we're in an unkown maze; Lowest IQ Guy, which way do you think we should go?" But since that's how the rules are laid out, that's what the PCs apparently did.

Well, for the sake of discussion let's say that the PCs find their way out because otherwise they're just going to run out of ammo and get worn down by the infinite pursuing superzombies while running in circles because one person isn't smart enough to navigate a sewer system they've never been in before.

The exit of the sewers opens to a ten foot drop down into tunnel with an old creek. The only way forward is to keep going down the tunnel, and the text says that the PCs have to keep going down the tunnel for the next bit to happen so the GM isn't allowed to let the PCs try to dig upwards or something.

This is because there's about to be an unavoidable wave of sewer water coming down the tunnel.

Boxed text!

quote:

A wall of rushing, brown water unleashed from some forgotten cistern of this old sewer system rushes down the tunnel and slams into you. You grab one last breath and tumble head over heels in the dark, swirling stream. Finally, you succumb.

(Point to one of the heroes.) You can hold your breath no longer and feel disgusting sludge rush into your lungs.

(Point to another.) You bang your head on something hard yet squishy and see a bright flash of light before all goes dark.

(Point to a third.) You simply tumble head over heels until the stench overwhelms you.
The point of this is to knock the entire group (and presumably Hal since I think he's still supposed to be there but the book seems to have forgotten all about him) for a while so metaplot things can happen back at Denver. Oh, and what if it's a character that can't technically be knocked out? Just bury them in mud. Don't want player abilities to short-circuit the railroad!

Believe it or not, we're still not done with this chapter! The reason for the TPKO is to set up the second half of this chapter.

And believe me, it gets dumber. You might not think it can, but it does.

NEXT TIME: Please keep your heads and arms inside the vehicle at all times.

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 21:52 on Feb 2, 2017

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Please tell me it's something dumb like "Oh we thought you were dead and were desperate so we sacrificed those fifteen children to summon c'thulhu this is totally your fault for being suffocated by poop."

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kurieg posted:

Please tell me it's something dumb like "Oh we thought you were dead and were desperate so we sacrificed those fifteen children to summon c'thulhu this is totally your fault for being suffocated by poop."
Hahahaha you think any part of that scene will come up again ever. It's literally just "go into the city, fight a random encounter, leave, next scene".

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

Loxbourne posted:

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.

Devlin 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.

If it makes you feel any better, you kill Old Stone in Reloaded's Stone and a Hard Place. In fact, the two plot point campaigns leading up to it also involve killing Reckoners. The only Reckoner you don't kill is Hellestromme, and you still end up being the ones to undo his gently caress-ups in Good Intentions. Reloaded is generally a lot better about metaplot than Classic, though I'll admit that's a mighty low bar.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


After the tsunami of poo poo, kinda seems like the PCs might say gently caress it, and go find something they can influence.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





The part I don't understand about this, or indeed pretty much any, published adventure is: did the authors just forget that their players have stats and skills and items and poo poo? What if my character is a sewer-dwelling mutant from St. Louis who knows every loving inch of these tunnels like the back of my hand; do I still get lost because my buddy can't make the roll? What if my character is an expert chopper pilot and I decide to fly the helicopter instead of Hal? I guess I crash with no roll, because the adventure can't continue unless we crash on this specific rooftop! Hell, when Plot-Important NPC is monologuing, I pull out my sniper rifle and shoot him in the face. No? I can't? Why not?

And of course, that's all not to mention the idea of the players having a shred of agency or foresight. We need to find out why our allies in St. Louis haven't made it here. We picked up some injured bikers who informed us that St. Louis is swarming with tens of thousands of crazy super-undead. "Uh, okay, job's done I guess. Let's go back." What is the GM supposed to do at that point? "Nope, you don't, because the book says you continue onwards"?

I just can't see how any group could actually play through this whole book. Every group I've ever been a part of would have been miles off the rails halfway through Chapter 1.

Asehujiko
Apr 6, 2011


Alright, I'll try to be a bit more concise with the Polaris fluff but I'm afraid that if I slim it down even further, what little context of X town getting annexed by Y faction is in there will be lost completely and if I just end up picking out the book's contradictions it will mostly be a list of
P 41: Fort Noodledick is famous for not having any sea cows...
P 42 The largest sea cow herding company in Fort Noodledick says...

To break up the monotony I'm thinking of maybe doing the book a bit out of order(since I have to flip over to the bestiary or vehicle section to debunk some dumb claim by the fluff every update anyway) and alternate between the world building chapter and the pure grog insanity of the 122 page long character creation rules(that are spread out over both books)?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



JackMann posted:

If it makes you feel any better, you kill Old Stone in Reloaded's Stone and a Hard Place. In fact, the two plot point campaigns leading up to it also involve killing Reckoners. The only Reckoner you don't kill is Hellestromme, and you still end up being the ones to undo his gently caress-ups in Good Intentions. Reloaded is generally a lot better about metaplot than Classic, though I'll admit that's a mighty low bar.
Yeah, you get to do the same thing in the Grimm-focused adventure as well.

It's also interesting to note that in Hell on Earth Reloaded, all this metaplot BS still happens, but the game itself takes place shortly after the events of this adventure happen.

megane posted:

And of course, that's all not to mention the idea of the players having a shred of agency or foresight. We need to find out why our allies in St. Louis haven't made it here. We picked up some injured bikers who informed us that St. Louis is swarming with tens of thousands of crazy super-undead. "Uh, okay, job's done I guess. Let's go back." What is the GM supposed to do at that point? "Nope, you don't, because the book says you continue onwards"?
The PCs aren't given a chance to return to Denver. If they stop to help the bikers, the zombies show up right at that point, and when the PCs try to flee in the chopper then they get shot down. If they don't stop to help the bikers, the zombies show up right at that point, and when the PCs try to flee in the chopper then they get shot down.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



DEADLANDS: HELL ON EARTH/LOST COLONY - THE UNITY



Part 4: An analogy for the whole adventure

Okay, let's get back to it. We're still only about halfway through Chapter 2.

The party awakens to some boxed text.

quote:

You’ve been unconscious for a long time. You can tell because your limbs have fallen asleep and your muscles are cramped. You’re in the dark, stuck in thick mud that isn’t quite wet enough to let go. It’s pitch dark so you close your eyes and feel with your other senses. You hear a low rumbling all around you. You feel no one and nothing else around you. There’s a rotten, earthy smell that almost overpowers you.

The sewer must have burst somewhere and washed you down into another section of the tunnel—an older, long unexplored section.

Each character has to make a hard roll with their Spirit stat to see if they managed to hold on to whatever they had in their hands when the sewage wave hit, and failing (which is likely) means you probably just lost your preferred weapons. Oops! Hope it wasn't anything irreplaceable, difficult to make, or that you were specialized in!

Assuming the PCs have a way of making light (and that whatever light source they were holding on to before didn't get washed away), they discover that they're in a wet, squishy tunnel end about 10' high. There's only one way out, and if someone has a way of telling, it's westward. There's (once again) no way out even with supernatural abilities that can nuke walls or let you walk through things.

Why? Because...and I am not making this up...they're inside a giant worm.

poo poo you don't care about but I have to explain so I can explain the rest of this poo poo to you.
In the original Deadlands, the Mojave Desert was occupied by giant Tremors-style creatures called "Mojave Rattlers", which were basically purple worms. They've survived to Hell on Earth and gotten even bigger, alongside a new critter: humanoid-worm hybrids. The larger worms actually breed and store worms and worm hybrids inside themselves, barfing them up onto enemies. The reason for this next sequence is going to be yet another Big Metaplot Reveal that I don't think ever even had a hint that it existed.

quote:

Sit back and relax now, Marshal. Don’t push your posse through the hole. Let them argue about what to do or try some of their fancy tricks. Any attempt to magic oneself out of the worm doesn’t work—elder worms are near Gods, after all, and get away with a few perks when we need them to. Fudge this one as you see fit—no nukes, no shadow walking or otherwise ruining your fun. Got it?

Eventually, someone will crawl through the hole. It’s just wide enough for one character to go at once so you’ll soon find out which of your wasters has the largest cajones.
Yeah, god forbid the players ruin the GM's fun of watching the players not have any choices in anything they do. And it's nothing to do with "cajones"; the group's only two options are a) crawl through the hole, or b) stay there forever.

So someone crawls through the hole.

quote:

You’re crawling along when your hand sinks through the mud and catches on something sharp. You withdraw and see your own dark blood dripping into the dank muck.

If the hero cares to dig, he finds a jagged leg bone. This belonged to one of the worm’s “passengers.” It’s harmless, but creepy!
Yeah, these are veteran characters that have been fighting and surviving in a supernaturally-created Hell-energy-infused post-apocalyptic wasteland, but finding a leg bone in the mud is "creepy". Sure.

Moving to the next "pocket" reveals...nothing. Okay. I guess they're trying to build tension?

The next "pocket" doesn't continue the tunnel, but has a 2' wide sphincter in the "floor". The only way out is to squeeze your way through it into a large nasty chamber.

quote:

You’re standing in what looks like a large, oblong cavern. It’s only about 5’ wide where you stand, but further on it’s obviously much wider—maybe three times as wide and tall.

The mud remains thick, and you can see strange pink weeds growing out of the muck everywhere—on the walls, ceiling, and floors.
When the group examines the weeds, another boxed text is triggered:

quote:

The “weeds” aren’t plants at all. They’re some sort of long, pink earthworms lying—or perhaps even growing—in masses. You turn in disgust and see something that freezes you in horror. One of the worm “masses” lies more exposed than the others. Beneath it is the grotesque face of a wormling!

The “weeds” are the things’ tentacles! A quick look around tells you there must be hundreds of these things encased in the floors, ceiling, and walls of the chamber!

As the horror grows in your stunned mind, you feel the floor beneath you start to buckle. Or undulate. The walls shudder and constrict as well, then shake and shiver. A deep groan comes from somewhere much deeper in the cavern. The cavern slowly turns and rolls, throwing you to the wall.

Now you get it. This is no cavern. You’re inside the body of a giant worm!


Taste the dramatic pause, Marshal. If you’ve played it right, the gals at your game table are sneering in revulsion while the guys are saying “EEEEWWWW!”
Yeah, I don't think that's what's going to happen.

At this point, the wormlings start waking up. There's about 50 of them in this chamber along, so the PCs are seriously outnumbered (and probably down a few weapons from the sewer tsunami). Especially since there's a hell of a lot more of these birthing chambers inside the worm.

quote:

Short of a nuke, there’s not much any party can do to kill them all. (If the party can wipe out the wormlings, more power to them! It won’t affect the plot at all, so don’t thwart them if they have some clever plan to wipe out this colony.)
Yes, they're flat-out admitting that the players aren't going to be able to change things.

Not that the PCs will have much of a chance to do anything, because the worm just arrived at Denver and is going to deploy the troops by barfing all the wormlings it's gestating (not to mention the PCs) onto the battlefield. Everyone takes (1d6)d6 damage from this, as in "roll 1d6, that's how many d6's of damage that character takes", so it's possible someone could take a ton of damage and get killed by this cutscene. Heroic!


Me IRL reviewing this book.

So now the PCs are in a huge 200 yard wide mud barf field with a few thousand assorted wormlings, baby worms and deaders while other great worms surface and also spew monsters all over the place. Fortunately for the PCs, the assorted gribblies are more interested in the battle around Denver and will ignore the group to shuffle off in that direction. The invading worm forces go after both sides indiscriminately and start slaughtering everyone.

At this point, the PCs are "allowed" to do whatever they want. Regardless of if they try to aid the Iron Alliance forces, try to sneak back into Denver to get behind the walls, or just say "gently caress this noise" and try to run away, they have to spend three rounds Quick Combatting in order to wind down their ammo stores. When that's done, the original zombie horde shows up with a bunch of semis and buses full of undead, and at the center of it is a giant open flatbed truck, covered in writhing corpses. On top of this carpet of zombies is a throne made of deaders, upon which sits a gaunt figure, burned black all over its body.

What happens next is almost four solid pages of boxed text, broken up by a paragraph or two of GM info or more pointless rounds of Quick Combat.

Get comfy.

quote:

Air support finally screams in overhead—it’s the fighter jets of the Sky Pirates! The jets streak in and launch a salvo of guided missiles. At least two plow into the bellies of the great worms and detonate, showering the massive creature’s guts all over the plains.

Then something incredible happens, something you and your friends have seen once before. One of the sorcerous undead gathers a handful of deaders in some sort of arcane grip and hurls them into the air at the jets! One fighter goes up in flames instantly as it impacts a wall of writhing dead. Another—almost laughably—pops off a dozen flares before being covered in corpses and plummeting toward earth. The pilot ejects and is quickly covered in another swath of dead, fighting with the blasphemous things as they fall faster and faster to ground. Another wing of jets makes another pass—one of them dropping a thousand pound bomb between two worms and tearing great swaths of greasy flesh from their sides. Then one of the worms reaches down to the ground and swallows up dozens of deaders running below. It spins its ten-story tall neck about, rears back, and then spits out dead men like a machine gun! The trail of flailing bodies slams into the bomber from behind and sends it tumbling towards the Rockies where it explodes in a massive flash of light and sound.

Now it’s time for the ground troops. Hover tanks and other heavy vehicles appear on the distant horizon. They open up on the worms just like in an old Godzilla movie and turn three of the monsters into giant bags of blood.

A dozen of the closest worms respond by arching their backs and plunging their heads into the ground, disappearing. You can see several of the tankers cheering, believing they’ve driven the worms off—but you know better.
Yeah, the worms burrowed underground and pop back up under the tanks, destroying them. Then it's a round of Quick Combat before the GM starts reading again.

quote:

Bunching together like this would be suicide fighting the Combine’s automatic weapons and heavy artillery, but it seems to be working against the massed hordes of the dead.

You fight with new vigor, determined to break through to Mattox—surely your last hope of survival.

One round of Quick Combat.

quote:

You’re fighting your way west when you hear heavy weapons firing from behind you. You turn and your heart fills with dread.

On the highways from the east come hundreds of vehicles, each loaded with more deaders. A short way behind them march their tireless foot soldiers, thousands—maybe hundreds of thousands more walking corpses bear down upon the surrounded Iron Alliance.

You turn and fight even harder, determined to make your last stand with Goose Mattox and the rest of the alliance. To go down fighting. But Goose now sees the truth too—the worms were only the vanguard of this unknown army. There is no hope of resistance—not here, not now. Within minutes the survivors on the hill have loaded onto their remaining transports and are racing away to the west. You can see Goose is one of the last to go. He salutes you and all the other trapped and surrounded survivors still fighting on the plains, but he has no choice. He’s leaving you behind.

Well, that sucks. The PCs only have time to do yet another round of Quick Combat before the next chunk of metaplot happens.

quote:

You can see five or six other groups like yours fighting for their lives, surrounded by deaders, but it’s hopeless. You give the members of your posse one last look of respect and steel yourselves for the inevitable.

Suddenly a barrage of small explosions rip through the dead around you. You spin and see a wave of hoverbikes and an old Stuart APC racing through the grotesque horde. At the head of the group, riding a hoverbike with a shining gold eagle on the front, is the massive unmistakable form of Cole Ballad. It’s Cole Ballad’s Law Dogs!

At first you think they’ve come to rescue you, but they only fire a few bursts of 20mm cannon into the deaders around you before racing on by. Ten hover bikes and the APC race by, but only half make it to the line of vehicles that just approached from the east.

The hoverbikes race on to the center of the undead army—toward a flatbed with a mysterious throne of corpses. Another hover bike is the first to go down, wrecked by yet another flying ball of flailing deaders hurled by the magical “liches.” Then the APC—a Confederate Stuart by the look—gets bogged down in a horde of undead. A handful of troopers abandon the Stuart to fight, but it’s obvious they’re doomed.
Cole Ballard is the shirtless dude on the cover of the Hell on Earth core book, and the Law Dogs were basically a group of wandering lawmen. He buys the group enough time to do yet another round of Quick Combat before he starts winning the day.


Cole Ballard in all his bare-chested glory.

quote:

Ahead, Cole Ballad and four others leap from their hoverbikes and fight their way toward the macabre flatbed truck. The burnt master of this gruesome army sweeps his hand and kills one of the Law Dogs with a blast of green fire. The hero’s death is tragic, but it allows Cole to get closer. Suddenly, the deaders around you turn and race to protect their master.

Cole climbs the cab of the flatbed and rips off a burst of automatic fire. The bullets rip through the deader on the throne to no effect. Cole’s remaining companions surround him, fending off the surrounding undead with an amazing amount of firepower.

Cole moves forward, fires off another clip and draws two massive knives. He dives toward the back of the flatbed then steps over the writhing carpet of undead. He screams something and the deader steps forward to meet him.

The two grapple, yelling and screaming as they fight.
And now it's time for another False Choice For The Party!

The APC is abandonded, and the PCs are allowed to choose what they want to do, even though the APC is presented as the only way they can see of getting out of here alive. However, the book flat-out states that there are only three real options:
  • Everyone goes for the APC.
  • Have some people go for the APC and some go to help Cole.
  • Run the gently caress away on foot.
The first two options have the same result: go to the next section, giving out a few Fate chips if people want to help Cole. They won't be able to help Cole because he's supposed to die now (oops, spoilers), but they don't know that. If the group decides to run and leave Cole to his business, then the GM is instructed to herd them back towards the fight so they can see Cole fighting and learn who the burned-up guy is. After all, what's the point of all this if the PCs aren't around to watch? :jerkbag:

quote:

Cole Ballad jams two large knives deep into the heart of the burned deader on the flatbed. The thing shivers but then reaches forward and grabs Cole by the head and neck. He forces the Law Dog down onto the flatbed where he is held down by the carpet of dead men beneath them.

The deader screams: “I AM RAVEN! THE RECKONERS BETRAYED ME! BUT I WILL HAVE MY VENGEANCE WHEN I AM THE LAST LIVING MAN ON EARTH!”

Cole’s jaw drops in shock—he knows Raven is a servitor and can’t be killed without knowing his specific weakness.
Raven. The guy responsible for setting off the entire setting, the chosen servant of the horseman War, has been spending the last 13+ years assembling a gigantic undead army. And as the boxed text reminds us, as a servitor of one of the Horsemen, Raven cannot be killed without knowing what his personal weak point is; this was universal for all the Servitors in that they could only be killed by using an item relating to their backstories. Not that he could be killed before this point anyway, because he'd had metaplot immunity since day one.

Being a servitor, Raven is ridiculously powerful and can pop PCs like balloons if they're stupid enough draw his attention. The details of what he's been up to for the past 200 years will come later, but the short form is that he finally figured out that the Horsemen have been playing him since day one, and he wants to kill them in revenge. Thing is, the Horsemen are powered by the fear and belief of humans. The solution? Kill every human in the world, at which point the Horsemen will be weak enough for him to kill. To accomplish this, he's thrown in with the worms.

Why? Because apparently the worms are ancient elder god things. This fact is revealed in this book, and I don't think it was ever hinted at before in any of the other books. Not that it matters, because there were only two other books published after this and they took place on another planet.


Because God forbid we don't have another pointless revelation.

Honest question about the worms reveal: who could possibly loving care? It has nothing to do with anything going on! I don't even think it's ever had anything to do with anything that's happened in the game line to this point, although I'm honestly too disinterested to take a look. This is just so the writers can feel all smug about revealing yet another Big Evil Masters now that the Horsemen are out of the picture...but since this is the end of the Hell on Earth game line and is supposed to lead into the third game that takes place on another planet, why bother.

We'll find out the probable reason why they bothered, but I don't think you'll believe me.

Oh, and by the way: the whole backstory of what Raven's been up to for the past few centuries is given in the back of the book. It's ridiculously long and in-depth, and what's worse is that the writers spent all this time putting it together and the only person who's ever going to read it is the GM because the players will have no way to learn it. On the other hand, it was quite thoughtful of Raven to just scream his name and motivation with no prompting so everyone knew who he was and why he was here.

Christ, whatever, let's just get back to this.

quote:

Raven screams one last time as bursts of red and green flame streak between his eyes and mouth and that of his victim. You watch as Cole Ballad arcs his back, struggling to escape, but the black smoke and flame erupting from his face mark this warrior’s final act of defiance.

Cole grabs the knives still resting in Raven’s chest and pushes them all the way through his twisted flesh though he knows his struggle is pointless. With a snarl, Cole Ballad screams “You ain’t got the balls! I #$(*&@! dare you!” Raven sneers and smashes Cole’s head into the trailer. The Law Dog twitches one last time and dies.

Raven spits on his sizzling corpse—and turns his blazing eyes to you!

Now the PCs can run away. The APC can run down zombies and worms without slowing down, so the PCs should be getting the hell out of Dodge. It doesn't say what happens if they don't, but presumably Raven just greases them if they try anything given that he's the most powerful person in the setting short of the Reckoners themselves.

So the PCs run away, the battle of Denver effectively over and not a drat thing the players did had any effect on any of it. In fact, they didn't have a single valid decision point at any part of this chapter.

And the chapter isn't over yet. Seriously. This one chapter is like 30 pages long.

And we still haven't hit the worst part of the book.

NEXT TIME: The second-worst thing in this adventure.

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 20:14 on Apr 25, 2017

jadarx
May 25, 2012


This Unity review is giving me very bad flashbacks of a Dresden Files game I 'played' at Gencon. Imagine playing this adventure, but its creator is running it. Watch as he takes interesting pregens and concept (kill a wizard) and instantly ruins it (the wizard is Harry Dresden). Experience him dropping character after character from the books in and feeling oh so clever. Players who liked the books want to experience the world, not view it. And the players who didn't like/read the books don't care about them. And everyone just wanted to play, not be accosted by npcs.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




It's been a long time since I've wanted to punch a book.

Torg may be the worst/most 90's system, but Deadlands wins the metaplot award.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kavak posted:

Torg may be the worst/most 90's system, but Deadlands wins the metaplot award.
I'll be honest; I don't know which is worse. They're both terrible in different ways.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Evil Mastermind posted:

I'll be honest; I don't know which is worse. They're both terrible in different ways.

I guess it's because we're getting the lowlights of the Deadlands metaplot all at once while TORG has been a slow trickle.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Old World of Darkness had some weird rear end metaplot, but when the players got involved things usually let things play out however the troupe decided to do things.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kavak posted:

I guess it's because we're getting the lowlights of the Deadlands metaplot all at once while TORG has been a slow trickle.
I'll be honest...I almost didn't do this review.

Or, I should say, I put it off for a really long time. I think Deadlands' metaplot got mentioned way the hell back in the first F&F thread, and ever since then I've had this book in the back of my head, because I knew it'd be perfect for these threads.

The biggest problem was that Deadlands, like Torg, had a lot of backstory and metaplot. And for a lot of the major beats in Unity, I'd have to stop and explain that backstory or related concepts. It'd be like I did the Torg review by starting with War's End.

On the plus side, Deadlands is one of those things that everyone's kinda heard of, and probably has a rough idea of what it's all about.

The other advantage is that with Deadlands, all the things that make the adventure so ridiculously bad aren't really tied directly to the metaplot. I mean, yeah, the beats that're being hit do need you to have some context, but what makes them not work are universal "bad RPG writing" tropes: watching NPCs do everything, railroading, unfunny jokes, and so on.

Now don't get me wrong, War's End has all those too (and believe me, we'll get there), but they're very heavily intertwined with the metaplot. I couldn't do this sort of review for War's End without the context of all the realm books.

Which is why I say they're both terrible in different ways. Unity is bad despite the metaplot, War's End is bad because of it.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Evil Mastermind posted:

Or, I should say, I put it off for a really long time. I think Deadlands' metaplot got mentioned way the hell back in the first F&F thread, and ever since then I've had this book in the back of my head, because I knew it'd be perfect for these threads.

The biggest problem was that Deadlands, like Torg, had a lot of backstory and metaplot. And for a lot of the major beats in Unity, I'd have to stop and explain that backstory or related concepts. It'd be like I did the Torg review by starting with War's End.

This is the reason why I still haven't done Werewolf: Apocalypse yet. As I'm pretty sure we'd all get bored of multi-page plot dissertations about how Cerunnos' creation of the ghost tribe is a bad thing but definitely not something worthy of sacrificing Unicorn to the Wyrm over.

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


Necromancers hurling fistfuls of flying zombies at helicopters looks fun. Like something out of those Resident Evil movies.

Do players ever get a sandworm exo-suit, like in Dune?

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Okay wait hang on I've been reading through old F&F reviews and I just ran into this in the more recent review of TORG.

quote:

So what does "disconnecting" mean? Well, it means that you're temporarily between two realities but not part of either. The multiple sets of axioms aren't allowed under the Everlaw of One, so it tries to settle you into one reality or the other. When you're disconnected, you can't create contradictions, collect Possibilities, or do anything that violates local axioms.

However, a few lines earlier, Evil Mastermind states that you can cause a contradiction by wearing pants outside your tech axiom. If you disconnect because you're wearing jeans as an Asyle native, what does this do because now you can't create contradictions anymore. Do the pants just fall off? Are you now incapable of taking any actions because they're all contradictions, because of your pants?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I'm pretty sure this reveal was not intended from the start, because Weird West rattlers were, uh, really big and incredibly stupid worms.

Like a Mojave rattler wasn't impressive in the slightest, you could kite it around with drums and a spare wagon loaded with explosives.

Dedman Walkin
Dec 20, 2006





Count Chocula posted:

Do players ever get a sandworm exo-suit, like in Dune?

Not really, but in one of the Classic Weird West books, you could buy worm leather armor.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Zereth posted:

Okay wait hang on I've been reading through old F&F reviews and I just ran into this in the more recent review of TORG.


However, a few lines earlier, Evil Mastermind states that you can cause a contradiction by wearing pants outside your tech axiom. If you disconnect because you're wearing jeans as an Asyle native, what does this do because now you can't create contradictions anymore. Do the pants just fall off? Are you now incapable of taking any actions because they're all contradictions, because of your pants?
Pretty much.

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


Mors Rattus posted:

I'm pretty sure this reveal was not intended from the start, because Weird West rattlers were, uh, really big and incredibly stupid worms.

Like a Mojave rattler wasn't impressive in the slightest, you could kite it around with drums and a spare wagon loaded with explosives.

To be fair, Dune sandworms were gods and you could do the same thing, IIRC. Drums were Thumpers, 'walk without rhythm and you don't attract the worm', etc.

Could you ride worms while yelling 'wahoo!', waving a cowboy hat and twirling a lasso?

I love the idea of Deadlands, but I never played it.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Man Torg is a trainwreck.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mors Rattus posted:

I'm pretty sure this reveal was not intended from the start, because Weird West rattlers were, uh, really big and incredibly stupid worms.

Like a Mojave rattler wasn't impressive in the slightest, you could kite it around with drums and a spare wagon loaded with explosives.

It bears noting in earlier Hell on Earth continuity, the Mojave Rattlers were nearly hunted to extinction prior to the apocalypse until "some tree-hugging whackos managed to get the things placed on the endangered species list." :rolleyes:

That being said, it probably wasn't intended from the start, but there was an adventure called Worms! that featured the rattlers somehow experimenting with turning people into wormlings, hinting they they were smarter than they seemed (not that their middling mental traits changed any...), and that was the depiction that slowly got wound into Hell on Earth. That being said, making graboids into elder gods was a bizarre and probably unnecessary leap.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Zereth posted:

If you disconnect because you're wearing jeans as an Asyle native, what does this do because now you can't create contradictions anymore. Do the pants just fall off? Are you now incapable of taking any actions because they're all contradictions, because of your pants?

Bad example, since denim jeans would fall under Asyle's 16th-century-level technological axiom. Serge fabric, which denim is a cotton variant of, existed since 8th or 9th century CE, and trousers have dated back to 6th century BCE. Even Levi's riveted design would not cause a contradiction because they made poo poo like brigandine armor around that time and tech level, with steel plates riveted into a cloth or silk exterior.

Now, if they were using polyesters, spandex, or nylon, then you'd have a problem due to the advanced technology, the same with stuff like Kanawa's IriMesh or Cyberpapacy Plexiflex and HalloMesh, kinetic fabrics that can incorporate armor as street clothing, but most clothes are not going to cause a contradiction with the exception of the Living Land.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Young Freud posted:

Bad example, since denim jeans would fall under Asyle's 16th-century-level technological axiom. Serge fabric, which denim is a cotton variant of, existed since 8th or 9th century CE, and trousers have dated back to 6th century BCE. Even Levi's riveted design would not cause a contradiction because they made poo poo like brigandine armor around that time and tech level, with steel plates riveted into a cloth or silk exterior.

Now, if they were using polyesters, spandex, or nylon, then you'd have a problem due to the advanced technology, the same with stuff like Kanawa's IriMesh or Cyberpapacy Plexiflex and HalloMesh, kinetic fabrics that can incorporate armor as street clothing, but most clothes are not going to cause a contradiction with the exception of the Living Land.
It's the example Evil Mastermind used, actually. (But did point out that a Living Land origin character type did, in fact, have a t-shirt in their starting gear.)

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Young Freud posted:

Bad example, since denim jeans would fall under Asyle's 16th-century-level technological axiom.
e: HOLY gently caress I have been reading this completely backwards I AM A HUGE IDIOT and I have been wrong this entire time.

They would if they were made outside of Aysle. Yeah, that's a thing. That's why Kanawa Corp maintains manufacturing plants in other realms; making something of a lower axiom using materials and/or methods from a higher-axiom reality can still cause a contradiction.

A flashlight made on Core Earth has a tech axiom of 23. Flashlights exist in the Nile Empire, but that's tech axiom 21. So using a Core Earth flashlight in the Nile Empire can cause a contradiction.

But don't worry, they (eventually) realized that was dumb, so patched it with an optional rule.


There's actually an optional rule that allows you to make axiom levels more punishing:


Game design! :pseudo:


...Why do I know this poo poo off the top of my head?

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 05:09 on Jan 29, 2017

The Lore Bear
Jan 21, 2014

I don't know what to put here. Guys? GUYS?!


Count Chocula posted:

I love the idea of Deadlands, but I never played it.

Even trying Reloaded (which is basically Savage Worlds with a few new mechanics), it's a game that had much more interesting ideas than it did actual in-play things. It also had a lot of loving dumb baggage that you could've changed if you didn't want to actually deal with it, but I'm pretty sure that debate has been done and done.

Like, I'd love to play Cowboy Western Spooky Monster Hunters, just cut out or drastically pull back the metaplot and just focus on the individuals that matter. Mainly, the PCs.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Please refer to the edit of my previous post so you can see how bad I can be at basic reading and understanding sometimes.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



I've always figured that Kanawa just did a whole lot of research and hired whole bunch of artisans and craftsmen skilled in ancient techniques to make anything that couldn't be mass-produced. Like hiring a bunch of SCA blacksmiths to create armor and swords for Asyle, Native Americans or historians (or some sort of Marketplace equivalent) to create flint arrow heads for Living Land, or reverse engineered WW2 guns, vehicles, and equipment to mass-produce them in away that they fit Nile Empire's tech axioms. I completely didn't think that Kanawa had other realms from their raiding out there. Also, this is something that gets thrown out when it comes to Tharkold book, since Ultra-CAD and the Synthcyclers can make equipment equivalent and without contradiction to other realms' axioms.

Anyway, tech levels blow. A lot of time, the groundwork for innovation can be around for decades or centuries, it just takes one person or incident to put it together. I think I've made mention once that electric-powered rotary guns have existed since the electric motor, when Dr. Gatling added one to one of his guns in the 1890s, but the Vulcan and the Minigun didn't become widespread weapons until the 1960s.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Young Freud posted:

I've always figured that Kanawa just did a whole lot of research and hired whole bunch of artisans and craftsmen skilled in ancient techniques to make anything that couldn't be mass-produced. Like hiring a bunch of SCA blacksmiths to create armor and swords for Asyle, Native Americans or historians (or some sort of Marketplace equivalent) to create flint arrow heads for Living Land, or reverse engineered WW2 guns, vehicles, and equipment to mass-produce them in away that they fit Nile Empire's tech axioms. I completely didn't think that Kanawa had other realms from their raiding out there.
I can't remember which book it's in, but I could have sworn I saw something about how Kanawa has companies that operate in other realms to create weapons that will work under the correct axioms.

Of course, given the size of the game line, it can be hard to confirm that stuff.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

I actually like the Mojave Rattlers as elder gods, but I came into the game at Reloaded. By that point, most players and GMs already knew about it, so it's integrated into the setting a lot better.

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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



DEADLANDS: HELL ON EARTH/LOST COLONY - THE UNITY



Part 5: Don't Need No Credit Card To Ride This Train

Get ready for some rail roading.

When we last left our heroes, they were running away after being involved in the seige of Denver, infiltrating Denver itself, getting shot down in a helicopter, running around lost in zombie-infested sewers, getting swallowed and then thrown up by a giant worm troop gestater-and-transport, watching both the Iron Alliance and Combine get wrecked by a horde of undead and giant worms, getting left behind by their allies, and watching the setting's biggest bad guy NPC kill an important setting NPC. And through it all, they were not allowed to have a single effect on any of it. At all. Period.

Regardless, we left the PCs plowing through an undead horde at relatively high speed in an APC.

quote:

You’ve finally broken free of dead men and giant worms when you a crest a small rise. There you witness a sight you never dreamed possible.

On the field before you is yet another massive army. You see bikers, zombies, monsters, wasters, and more horrors than even you’ve seen in your long adventuring career. At the rear of the army are four gigantic figures. One, gaunt and skeletal, stands. The other three sit upon massive horses.

Fleeing before the monstrous horde are the bloodied remnants of the Iron Alliance. You pause and spare a quick glance behind you. Raven’s army moves forward as well. Some move toward Denver, the rest race after you, not yet seeing the rivals that lie directly in their path! And you are caught in the middle!
Yup, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse just showed up with their own armies to fight Raven after running roughshod over the rest of the world. The one standing is Famine, whose steed was killed in the backstory for the Hell on Earth core book. The PCs have just enough time to panic before a blast of green energy knocks the APC over.

quote:

Three snake-like creatures race up the hill toward you from the west—from the direction of what can only be the Reckoners and their terrible army of servitors and abominations. A group of five Junkyarders flee before them.

Three are incinerated beneath the worm’s blazing gaze, a fourth trips and is instantly entangled by another. The last, a beautiful and strong-looking young woman, turns to save her entangled friend.

This is Jenny Quaid, yet another established setting NPC. She's the head of one of the major good-guy road gangs. She is, of course, described as completely gorgeous.


Lookin' pretty good for someone living in a supernaturally infused post-apocalyptic world for 13 years.

At this point, the APC isn't going anywhere, so the PCs are expected to get out and fight the snake-things ("voracipedes") alongside Jenny. If they do save her, she tags along for the rest of the adventure assuming the PCs don't treat her like garbage or ditch her or something.

quote:

She might even be attracted to someone in the party.
Stay classy, Deadlands: Hell on Earth/Lost Colony - The Unity.

One round before the PCs finish off the voracipedes (or just before they repair the APC), they see a giant cloud of swirling dust approaching them from the Horsemen's side of the battle. This is a monster known as a "gorestorm", which is basically a tornado made of guts. Don't worry, though, even though it's a stated monster the characters aren't going to fight it. They're going to be too busy listening to boxed text!

quote:

You peer out the viewslit and see the red storm whirling up the hill toward you. A glance out the other side shows a throng of deaders already climbing atop your vehicle. Some of them bang on the roof and grunt fiercely, obviously sensing prey. You feel like tuna packed live in a dented can.

Then something bangs on the floorboards and rocks the APC! Young rattlers! Dozens of ‘em by the sound of it!
You peer back toward the storm just in time to see it wash over you. The APC rocks like it’s in a hurricane, then it’s hit by hundreds of wet, sloppy…things!

Your viewports are spattered with red gore, but you can just make out the forms of the deaders atop you being washed away by the storm’s gory fury.
While that's going on, Jenny can fill in the PCs on what's going on if they haven't figured it out themselves yet (and, of course, saved her): The Horsemen have returned from their world tour and slammed through the Iron Alliance forces on their way here to confront Raven.

Once the storm passes someone has to get out of the APC to fix it. There's a few skill rolls required, but since the forces of the Horsemen and Raven are focused on each other whoever is doing the repairs doesn't have to worry about them. Nothing is said about what happens if the PCs can't fix the APC, apart from the fact that trying to escape the battle on foot is certain death.

quote:

You smash through a wall of angry-looking fat men! As you hit them, their stomachs burst open, spewing greenish clouds of what can only be poisonous gas. You put the pedal to the metal and move through the cloud before it can seep into the Stuart.

The next rise is fairly clear—only a few toxic zombies to run over. You scream down a short road clogged with dead men and into an old suburb—Aurora by a sign on a ruined Quickie Mart.

Even with all you’ve seen today, the sight you now witness is the most terrible yet. Standing in what was once a small intersection is a tall, gaunt figure atop a pale horse. He wears a black cloak and carries a massive scythe. Death swings the great weapon and cuts down a hundred deaders. The things continue to writhe, though Death’s gigantic, skeletal charger steps forward to stomp them into meaty black stains.

From somewhere within the Reaper’s dark cowl comes a low, rumbling whisper, yet somehow you can still hear it inside your trusty Stuart—”RAVENNNNNN!” You hit the accelerator—this is not a good place to be! But Death turns towards you and points a long bony finger…


This is a good time for a five-minute break, Marshal. Let the gang take a break from this completely over-the-top chapter. They’ve likely been laughing their collective keisters off for a good bit now, so let ‘em get a fresh soda or water the lilies. When everyone’s settled and ready to fight Death itself—proceed.
I don't think players will be laughing their "keisters" off, I think they're going to be loving pissed because they haven't been able to do a God damned thing since this adventure began except listen to boxed text that actually does their roleplaying for them! Seriously, the GM could just hand the book to the players and let them read it themselves for all the interaction they get to do with the story.

Okay, so you know how I've said we haven't hit the dumbest parts of the adventure yet? Well, it's time to see the second-worst thing in the book.

quote:

Death turns toward you and points a bony finger…

…when suddenly a thin beam of blood-red light streaks from the sky and envelops the Horseman.

Death turns and swings its incredible scythe in…panic? You look up and see a small, strange craft—a sleek, black VTOL of some sort by the pale light of its beam. Hellstromme? It hovers not thirty feet above the Reckoner. Death slashes madly at the thing, but can’t quite seem to reach. Legions of horrors suddenly begin to swarm to their master’s aid—but it’s too late! The Reaper and his horse turns ethereal and seems to be sucked upward into the beam—and into the strange black ship!

Just as the red light fades, a group of skeletal wasters—foot troops of Death himself—fire a massive cannon of pure Hellfire into the black ship. It sputters, spins, and heads for the mountains. The pilot—if there is one—struggles to keep the craft under control, but you can plainly see it go down in a forest not a mile from your position.

The skeletal foot troops and all the other undead servants of Death race toward it!

The PCs are expected to try to get to the ship before Death's servants do. The APC can run over most of the critters between them and the ship.

quote:

Describe a few bizarre fights between these terrible troops and make the driver of the Stuart make a few drivin’ rolls. Don’t worry about the results, though. Just say “Whew! Barely!” a lot and get on with the action.
Nothing builds tension like knowing you can't fail to get to the next cutscene!

When the posse arrives at the ship, it's sealed and there are two Black Riders on their tail. These are powerful servants of Death, and the ship won't open until they're killed. Once they're taken care of, the ship opens, and out walks Dr. Hellstrome to deliver what may be the stupidest plot contrivance in the history of RPGs.

quote:

“Those creatures around us. You know what they are? The worms and the dead are the army of Raven. The monsters are abominations of the Reckoners themselves. Raven seeks revenge for his betrayal. He believes that if he wipes out every single living human being on the face of the earth, the Reckoners will die. He is correct, but fortunately, there is another way.

I have all four of the Reckoners trapped for a bit—perhaps a day or more. But they must be taken far, far away from here. And quickly.

My ship is ruined and my body is failing. You must continue where I have failed. The odds are nearly impossible that you will succeed, and to do so you will likely face horrors even worse than those that surround us now. But it is humanity’s only hope! May I count on you?”


Well, let’s hope so, Marshal, because that’s how the heroes are going to get to the Unity.
Wow, that last sentence explains so much about their adventure design philosophy, doesn't it? Assuming they say "yes"...

quote:

Hellstromme’s massive robotic body has seen better days—he’s limping and there’s a serious crack in the dome that holds his living brain. He staggers stiffly to the rear of his ship where he pushes it over with titanic strength. A buzzsaw then extends from the tip of one crumpled arm and begins to cut into the ship’s
tail—near a strange protrusion that emitted the red light.

Hellstromme reaches inside the gash with his left “hand”—as if cutting out a tumor from a patient—and pulls forth a strange crimson box covered in bizarre black “veins.” Even a cursory look shows creepy pentagrams, skulls, and other signs of the occult.

“I do not have time to tell you everything now. Take this box and head toward the Vanessa Hellstromme Memorial Spaceport on the outskirts of Denver as fast as your vehicle will allow. I will move away from this spot and try to draw off Death’s minions. I will brief you further by radio—for as long as it lasts in these accursed wastes—or until I am overtaken.”

“Go! Now! You haven’t much time!”

Yeah. Dr. Hellstrome has shown up out of the blue once again, and trapped the Four Horsemen of the loving Apocalypse in a ghost trap, three of the Horsemen apparently being caught off-screen! Problem pretty much solved, the elder lords of evil who've screwed up the entire world are out of the picture as easy as that!


"You're welcome."

That's just...I mean...

Who in the almighty gently caress thought that was a good idea?

It's bad enough that throughout this entire adventure the characters haven't been able to do jack poo poo, especially against major setting villains. Now we have Hellstrome showing up out of nowhere again to just solve everything while the PCs just watch.

I mean, that's why we play RPGs, isn't it? To be the adoring viewers of the writers' awesome NPCs as they do everything?

What makes this even worse is that I don't think Hellstrome ever shows up in an adventure or anything in Hell on Earth until this book. He's always been a background character, someone who sets stuff up that'll have an effect on the setting in general. He's not Elminster, he doesn't hire PCs to go find stuff, he doesn't appear as a "boss" in anything. This was mainly because Hellstrome was actually Pestilence's servitor, and as such he couldn't be put in a position where PCs could kill him since a) he couldn't be killed without his weakness, and b) he had to stick around through all the game lines to perform his bit here. He never even had a stat block, because (as the books put it) "give it stats and your players will kill it."

God I hate this book.

So that's the second-dumbest part of this whole clusterfuck out of the way. The big one's coming up, but don't worry. We'll get there.

Oh, and yes there's a spaceport.

poo poo you don't care about but I have to explain so I can explain the rest of this poo poo to you.
Hellstrome invented trans-galactic travel via space warp tunnel (named "The Tunnel") about 20 or so years before the world got nuked, and a civilian/military colonization effort was sent through the Tunnel to a planet called Banshee in the "Faraway" system on the other side of the galaxy. They're having their own problems with the natives, and believe it or not this planet is vitally important to the metaplot. We'll get there, too.

But what you need to know right now is that due to all the badness that happened at the colony, about half the expedition force attempted to take the Unity back through the Tunnel and return to Earth. They did, finding out the hard way about the whole travelling-through-Hell thing when the ship's shielding malfunctioned. Most of the crew and passengers were killed before the ship arrived in orbit around Earth shortly after the Apocalypse, and the only reason anyone got off the ship at all is because one member of each of the 13 psychic Special Forces squads on board the ship stayed behind to hold back the demonic forces. That part is actually important backstory for psychic characters ("sykers" in HoE parlance; they're basically hucksters, only they channel energy directly from the Hunting Grounds instead of gambling with demons for it).

Right. So anyway.

Hellstrome won't stick around to answer any questions; instead he heads off to fight the Reckoner's forces and keep them occupied so the PCs can escape. If the PCs hang around, the GM is encouraged to throw heavy-duty monsters at them until they get the hint. Oh, and despite what Hellstrome said there's no time limit on getting to the spaceport; the ghost trap will work for as long as the plot needs it to.

While they're driving to the spaceport, they might get the idea to radio Hellstrome and ask him what the poo poo is this poo poo. If they don't, he calls them.

Seriously, can the PCs make any decision on their own in this book?

Anyway, Uncle Hellstrome sits everyone on his knee and starts giving a big ol' pile of exposition.

quote:

Many have wondered where I have been these last 13 years. I have been on Banshee in the Faraway System.

As you know, the Tunnel that allows travel between our two worlds no longer functions, but what few know is that the Tunnel is not the only way to Faraway. It was simply the safest.

I’m afraid I have many secrets to tell you before this makes any sense.

First, the Tunnel is a portal from our world to Faraway, but hyperspace and worm holes are just technobabble used to hide the truth. Travel through the Tunnel is facilitated through a mystical realm that has come to be called the Hunting Grounds. Some areas of it are what you might call Heaven. Other parts are most definitely Hell.

The Tunnel merely opens a portal to the Hunting Grounds and then directs ships through it to a specified area on the other side, avoiding the demons, devils, and nightmare realms in between.

There are many other portals to the Hunting Grounds, but without the Tunnel or some other method of navigation, a traveler might easily be lost in the nightmare lands for centuries. And for whatever reason, it is far easier to wander into Hell then any other region.

I left for Banshee not to flee the earth’s destruction—which I contributed to, but to attempt some minor atonement for my actions. I went because there is a secret that I have kept for many years.

Banshee is alive.

My studies had shown this conclusively in years past, but I had to discover if another of my hypotheses were true. It is, and it may mean the destruction of the Reckoners themselves. Just a moment…”

The sound of a buzzsaw ripping through bone fills the radio before Hellstromme continues.

“If the Reckoners can be transported to Banshee, they will not die, but they will lose their invulnerability. And then they may be killed.”
Guess where the PCs are going!

NEXT TIME: Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 20:20 on Apr 25, 2017

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