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Cinnamon Bear
Aug 29, 2016

by FactsAreUseless


Nessus posted:

I thought it was just a standard corruption scandal. Korea seems to make a lot of politically inclined new religions.

It is, only at the heart of the corruption scandal is basically Rasputin. Also an unofficial shadowy cabal called The Eight Fairies.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Cinnamon Bear posted:

South Korea was/is very unstable last year/still with a president (daughter of the former dictator) and political party in thrall to a cult led by the daughter of the cult leader who corrupted the previous dictator, prompting the head of their intelligence service to make an assassination attempt that killed the president's mother. And political and financial favors were being traded to ensure communication with her ghost.

Yes that is crazy and difficult to explain.

You know what's amazing? In 2015, I was at the American Academy of Religious Studies/Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting and went to a panel on 'Emerging Religions'. One of the presenters was a South Korean guy whose entire paper was a warning about that exact cult, saying 'These people are seeking significant ties with the government and may be dangerous' and he was laughed off by the rest of the panel.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Right now I should be writing a couple of XML translations, two backer playbooks for Pigsmoke, and my entry for the Spring Thing.

But gently caress that! I'm going to get my OSR on.



The Black Hack (TBH) is an OSR game released in early 2016 which takes the D&D tropes we're all familiar with here, strips out almost everything not core to the dungeon-crawling experience, and adds some innovations from more modern games. The whole thing is 20 pages long and incredibly popular, spawning about a million billion hacks of itself several of which, ironically, hugely outrank it in a search for 'The Black Hack' on DrivethruRPG.

TBH as it stands is a solid rules-light dungeon crawl engine. Every roll in the game is either an ability test -- the usual six abilities, obviously -- or a damage roll, and the game's almost entirely player-facing: the player tests INT to overcome enemies with magic, for example, the enemy doesn't roll a save; or the player tests STR to block a melee attack instead of the monster rolling to hit. The only times the GM rolls are for monster hit points and monster damage.

The game borrows heavily from all kinds of D&D and D&D-like games: it's got advantage and disadvantage from D&D 5e, 'heal up from zero' from D&D 4e, and uses the Dungeon World convention of damage dice by class rather than by weapon, and unlike certain other games I've seen which steal from all over the place all the parts combine into a very neat whole.

About the only criticism I can level at TBH is one that afflicts a lot of indie RPGs, and that's introducing terms before they're defined. The paragraph on advantage and disadvantage, for example, should sit immediately after the paragraph on testing attributes -- not four pages later. Likewise 'OofA' is used as a term well before it's confirmed to mean 'Out of Action' and what being out of action entails. (Which is: Roll 1d6 on a table of bad things that can happen to you, up to and including death. I like it.)

I'm also only 90% sure how armour points work. I'm pretty certain they're just like hit points that regenerate between encounters, but it's not totally clear.

But those are minor things. The Black Hack is cheap, solid, and I recommend it for your super-light dungeon crawling needs.

"But potato!" I hear you cry. "That was a very short review of a very short game!"

Yes. I reviewed that game, so I could review this one:



The Indie Hack (TIH) is one of the many, many spinoffs of The Black Hack. It's only fractionally longer -- 28 A5 pages instead of 20 -- and substantially more expensive, likely because it has a bunch of art in it which TBH is entirely missing. TIH purports to be

quote:

a minimalist fantasy roleplaying game, build up from the ideas in The Black Hack

and spoilers: it's not great.

For starters, TBH has lovely clear font choices in a large point size, and is laid out with plenty of white space and a reasonable amount of attention to typesetting. TIH has smaller print, less font variation, is super-cramped, and there's a widow line at the top of the second column of the very first page. Compare:



Like I said. Not great. Moving on.

Like TBH, TIH is entirely player-facing. On every roll the player rolls 2d6 -- a 'light die' and a 'dark die'. Confusingly (for me at least), the dark die is the player's die and the light die represents the world set against them. Anyway. Whoever rolls highest gets to add details to the scene and/or characters in it.

Details function like a combination of Dungeon World tags (in that they describe 'statements about things' which are true) and Fate aspects (in that they can be used to adjust 'light die' rolls). Details sometimes have something called capacity which is the number of other (negative) details that have to be applied before the item or character is taken out.

If this sounds like a completely separate mechanic shoehorned in under the heading of 'details' in an attempt to make a system look more unified than it is, you're spot on. Like, I don't have a problem with the concept of capacity -- it's a perfectly fine rules mechanic, similar to Fate's consequences -- or its presence alongside details. I have a problem with stuffing it into a category it has no business being in.

You are allowed to have more than one mechanic in a game!

Anyway.

A brief paragraph on checking the environment which should make perfect sense to PbtA veterans and is probably incomprehensible to anyone else, and then we're onto character generation. You have three attributes -- Tough, Clever, Precise -- which all start at 0. You pick one to add +1 to, get another +1 assigned at random, then get further modifications from your class.

What do these attributes do? Who knows!

No, really. We find out in the section on combat that Tough and/or Precise add to the dark die when you're fighting, so I assume stats are added to the dark die in non-combat situations as well (or Clever would be 100% useless). But it's never explicitly stated..

Sigh.

Now we move on to relationships, which are like Dungeon World bonds. You start with one per other PC, and you can get more by helping them. Helping is pretty simple: the helper rolls an extra 'dark die' and the acting player chooses whether to use theirs or the helper's. If they accept the help then the helper gets a new positive relationship with the helped, and if they reject the help then the helper gets a new negative relationship. Which I think is pretty neat. Relationship explosion is prevented by only allowing helping once per scene.

What mechanical effects do positive or negative relationships have?

None.

Nothing.

It's a neat idea, with absolutely no mechanical backup or support. A blindingly missed opportunity.

Sigh.

Next, every character has a Master (or Masters, or presumably Mistress/es since we're down with that sort of thing round here). This is the person or god or council or whatever you work for -- shades of 13th Age's icons here -- and you start with two details about them. Also:



They sometimes provide help. When? How? Who knows!

It can be difficult to get their help when they're angry with you. How difficult? What makes them angry? Who knows!

You can atone to regain their favour. How? WHO loving KNOWS.

Now, there's an argument you can make that at least TIH attempts to provide a structure for this sort of thing whereas e.g. TBH doesn't. Except TBH does because TBH has a robust enough core mechanic to cover almost everything.

Your TBH thief has a master, a thieves' guild, right? They make demands of you as narrated by the GM. You ask them for help? Test Charisma, maybe with advantage if you've got some leverage, see how you do.

Your TIH scoundrel might also have a thieves' guild as a Master. They make demands of you as narrated by the GM. You ask them for help? You... uh... roll for it? I don't know.

Oh, also? If your stats add to your dark die, then your Masters need some sort of numerical rating to add to their helping die. Or they just use your stat. Or it's entirely possible that your stats don't add to non-combat dice at all.

Moving on.

Characters can have natural aptitudes which also offer help dice. This section doesn't mention where these aptitudes come from; later we'll discover that they come from your class.

And again, if stats add to your dark die roll: Do aptitudes use your stat? Some other bonus? The book is silent on this matter.

This section also mentions that characters can have skills and/or spells, which... do... something? Like pretty much everything else here, it's not clear. (Skills and spells make more sense when they appear in the various class descriptions, a few pages later.)

Then we move on to equipment.

The Black Hack tracks money in a very traditional way (count your gold pieces, spend your gold pieces). TIH, on the other hand, abstracts it into something called 'Jingle'. On the one hand, I'm broadly in favour of abstracting money (see also Cred in The Sprawl). On the other hand, Jingle is the most stupid term for it I've ever heard and it annoys me every time I see it.

We take a sharp left into a brief digression about healing -- you turn damage details, which haven't been described yet, into scars when you rest. Is there a limit to your scars? Do they do anything special? Are they purely descriptive? Who knows!

Then we're back to the main equipment list and some words on encumbrance which manage to take a very simple system and make it sound extremely complex. Then armour, which functions as it does in TBH: to absorb damage details which would otherwise be applied to the character. The main difference is that in TBH your armour 'regenerates' between encounters; in TIH once it's reached capacity it has to be repaired in town, at significant cost.

And now... fighting!

In The Black Hack, you check for wandering monsters every fifteen minutes of real time. In The Indie Hack, you check for wandering monsters

quote:

every so often

Sigh.

A wandering monster check is a standard light die vs dark die roll off -- except you add the monster's challenge rating level to the light die. And regardless of who wins, the details are related to the wandering monster. So when you call for a wandering monster roll in TIH you've already decided that a monster is present and what it is.

More aggravatingly (my emphasis):

quote:

Typical GM details are soft details describing the monster getting closer (after several such details, the monster arrives).

How many is "several"? Who knows!

Although if the GM wins the roll handily enough the monster ambushes the party there and then.

There's some stuff about fighting, which actually fits very neatly into the established system: roll off vs the GM, winner gets to apply details to the loser. Simples. If you get your poo poo kicked in you're out of action; assuming the party wins the encounter or at least grabs your body on the way out

quote:

the player must test Clever and meet The Three Judges.

What does the Clever test do? Who knows!

I mean sure, it lets you add details to your meeting with the Judges, but since that's a flat d6 roll your details are meaningless. It's completely irrelevant.

The Judges are the Child, the Mother, and the Crone -- props for avoiding the Maiden concept -- and a randomly chosen one is angry with you. Promise to do something for them and they'll bring you back to life with a new hard detail to show they're not happy with you. Try to skip out on the promise and they haunt you, which permanently fills in one of your capacity slots.

And now...



And that's that! On to the character classes!

You'll be pleased to know the character advancement rules continue after the classes section. It's just a really weird place to put the classes.

The classes are the veteran (fighter), exorcist (cleric), hunter (ranger), scoundrel (thief/rogue), elementalist (sort of wizard), occultist (evil wizard), and outlander. Each has a selection of questions as character prompts, a la any number of PbtA games.

Of the seven the outlander is far and away the most interesting. They're a sort of wandering adventurer with limited ESP tormented by the visions of something or someone.

Oh, and every class's weapon proficiencies, skills, and spells are framed as 'positive details'. Remember how I complained at the start of this review about mechanics being shoved into the 'details' suitcase even though they blatantly aren't and don't function in any way like details? Same thing here.

Anyway, back to character advancement!



And that's it.

I mean, there are sections which expand what each of those options mean -- what it is to gain a new aptitude, or increase your Fallen capacity, or whatever, but exactly nothing on how you're supposed to adjudicate advancement.

The Black Hack, by the way, assigns player characters a level and says that the GM should pick a 'trigger' for level advancement and stick to it: surviving a dungeon level, surviving a major event, etc. etc. Simple and effective.

Oh wait, wait, I'm wrong. There's a system in the Advanced Rules bit which lets you accumulate 'milestones', which you can then trade in for advances just like they were traditional experience points. This is much better -- in that it's functional -- and should be the base system.

And then...



Am I supposed to fill in that space? Maybe?

Then there's a section of monsters and traps and other things that might foul up the PCs, and then...



It's probably a joke -- 'unknown power' and all that -- but given the generally unfinished nature of the rest of the book I can't tell. 'Who knows?' to coin a phrase.

And that's my beef with The Indie Hack in general. It's not loving finished. The Black Hack draws a tight circle around what it's interested in -- old-school dungeon-crawling -- and defines a ruleset to handle that. Like any game there are imprecisions and corner cases and wotnot, but in the end it all resolves down to 'advantage or disadvantage, test a stat'. The Indie Hack is a sort of vague cloud of 'game-ness' which blurs into handwaving at the edges. There is a single resolution mechanic, but since it revolves around adding details it doesn't interact with all the non-detail elements of the system (such as when rolling to gather information about objects, people, or the environment) -- and it interacts really weirdly with the stuff which shouldn't be detail elements but have been crammed in there anyway. Can I use a good roll to grant myself the occultist's ability to raise the dead? A veteran's weapon and armour proficiencies?

Somewhere at the core of The Indie Hack is a good idea, but it needs a massive reworking and a good editor. Also, right now it sits kind of awkwardly between Dungeon World and The Black Hack without being as good as either. I think if you played up the narrative elements of it you could maybe reposition it into a rules-light 13th Age-Black Hack hybrid, where it would have less competition for that niche. But that's just me.

Next time, I'll get onto another OSR game I like: Spaces of the Unknown

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Night10194 posted:

You know what's amazing? In 2015, I was at the American Academy of Religious Studies/Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting and went to a panel on 'Emerging Religions'. One of the presenters was a South Korean guy whose entire paper was a warning about that exact cult, saying 'These people are seeking significant ties with the government and may be dangerous' and he was laughed off by the rest of the panel.

They've been around for decades, it's pretty solidly believed now that her father was assassinated because he wasn't protecting her from this conman. The wikileaks diplomatic cables have references to Park possibly being compromised by them when she was planning on running for office too. It's understandable for people to think it's ridiculous because it is and we like to believe that the people who climb the ladders of power in democratic countries aren't secretly insane.

A blogger did a good basic breakdown of the aspects of the scandal.
http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-ultimate-choi-soon-sil-gate.html (Part 1)
http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-ultimate-choi-soon-sil-gate.html (Part 2)

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

This kind of poo poo stopped being unbelievable for me when the Scienos infiltrated the Mounties.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Lightning Lord posted:

I said it in the Trump thread in D&D but I disagree and here's why:
Jesus, finally I find someone who gets the Dying Earth.

Kurieg posted:

You don't remember Lacuna because someone entered the city inside your brain and put a button on your memories of it.
So at this point, how many games are based around entering dreams? Besides Lacuna there's Insylum, Don't Rest Your Head, Dreamwalker, and JAGS Wonderland, and I've heard similar things about Alas Vegas.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Reve the Dream Ouroboros, if you count the whole fantasy world really being a dream..

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Well if we counted that, we'd also have to count The Whispering Vault and SLA Industries.

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.

Dreamhounds of Paris, aka "The Surrealists vs. the Lovecraft Dreamlands, with special guest star Sex Hitler"

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



I'll admit to finding The Black Hack way too light for my tastes, but I'm okay with it and its offshoots due to realizing that it's the OSR equivalent of Fate Accelerated.

This, though, feels squarely in the "read an indie RPG once, didn't get it" category, with the added bonus of looking like an early draft that accidentally got published.

e: sometimes I am amazed at my inability to design an RPG when stuff like this ends up getting published and/or praised.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Wandering through dreams is a pretty large potential component of nChangeling, too. (also nMage but they go loving everywhere)

lifg
Dec 4, 2000
The Young Turks committed the Armenian Genocide.


Muldoon

In Nomine Ethereal Players Guide is, kinda, about the dreamscape.

http://projects.inklesspen.com/fatal-and-friends/mors-rattus/in-nomine-ethereal-players-guide/

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Also, it's not quite the same thing, but does anyone have experience running Dead Inside? I love the premise and it's well put together, for the most part, but I'm still kinda befuddled by the emphasis on the Spirit World and the speed with which you can fix your Dead Insidedness per the default rules.

Poland Spring
Sep 11, 2005


A bit late to the party but all that Farm and The Prisoner talk had me thinking that the game would have been so much better if instead of it being spelled out that people are killed and eaten in Building 10, they should have left things unclear. SO much of the complaints focus around the weird fetish-y nature of things, so why not just make the killing-and-eating thing just the most popular rumor as to why everyone is there? It'd open the game up a bit in a way that gives players another Thing To Do: find out what the hell is actually going on in Building 10.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Poland Spring posted:

A bit late to the party but all that Farm and The Prisoner talk had me thinking that the game would have been so much better if instead of it being spelled out that people are killed and eaten in Building 10, they should have left things unclear. SO much of the complaints focus around the weird fetish-y nature of things, so why not just make the killing-and-eating thing just the most popular rumor as to why everyone is there? It'd open the game up a bit in a way that gives players another Thing To Do: find out what the hell is actually going on in Building 10.

I kinda wanna run this, provided Building 10 turns out to be a 24/7 party with the Village People.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Turns out that the one tenacious group of Minders you kept running into (A-6, C-10, M-5 and Y-2) weren't bad guys, they just keep lame people out of the party.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

This is not similation.

Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:

The fictional World of Rifts is violent, deadly and filled with supernatural monsters. Other dimensional beings, often referred to as "demons," torment, stalk and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demigod, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

Get ready to destoroy the enemy.

Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:

Some parents may find the violence and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

Target for the weak points of f##kin' machine.

Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:

Please note that none of us at Palladium Books condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.

Do the best you have ever done.




Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 1: "I know that 1996 is going to be a tremendous year for Rifts, and firmly believe you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!"

So, there's something about another Rifts book that feels like a looming boss, large, nonsensical, and unable to maneuver well on vertical screens- okay, so it's time to let that metaphor die there.

The intro by Carella is short, and mentions he's proud to complete the last South America book in this series, and become a full-time employee of Palladium Books. That's right. This is Carella's ninth or tenth book for Palladium Books, and he's finally hired on! The sad fact, though, is that his employment would only survive two or three more books, with twelve total between Rifts and Nightbane. He notes here he's going to work on Juicer Uprising (true), Psyscape (false), New West (false), Lone Star (false), and The Coalition States and Chi-Town (false, and released as Coalition War Campaign instead). Yes, that's right, Carella was supposed to be writing at least four more books before he parted with Palladium. So what happened? It's not clear, but Carella would walk off to write for Steve Jackson Games and then Myrmidon Press, which also had other Palladium refugees like Kevin Long and Vince Martin. Something happened where a number of Palladium employees would jump ship to Myrmidon in short order after this book, but what, exactly, is unclear.

This is also Kevin Long's last major work for the line. There'll be one more book with his art in it... but I'll have comments about that when we get to it. This is the last book with new art, let's say. After that, he'll actually go on to draw and write the Villains & Foes book for the rather obscure Cosmic Enforcers (also by Myrmidon Press) before going off to work for Raven Software. There he'll go on to do work for video game franchises like Soldier of Fortune, Wolfenstein, Quake, and Call of Duty. Maybe you've heard of them?


"I will write again..." "It's not your time, back in the coffin, Kevin!"

1996 would be a good year for Palladium, indeed. What followed, though...

Next: The Incan Unpocalypse.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Halloween Jack posted:

Also, it's not quite the same thing, but does anyone have experience running Dead Inside? I love the premise and it's well put together, for the most part, but I'm still kinda befuddled by the emphasis on the Spirit World and the speed with which you can fix your Dead Insidedness per the default rules.

I've run a few games (unfortunately none finished) and I did the F&F review for it, so hopefully some insight.

I made some house rules (http://z-toast.blogspot.com/2012/08/pdq-week-pt-5-dead-inside.html) regarding that. Essentially, the biggest change I always recommend is importing the Hero Point rules from Truth and Justice, where you have Hero Points (or Spirit Points in this case) and you have a MAX score (call it a Soul score for Dead Inside). Spirit Points are used for special powers, spirit commerce, and taking "damage" from Soul Stealing. MAX is the most Spirit Points you can hold at once (starting at 1 for Dead Inside) and grows with Spirit Cultivation (increasing by 1 when you get "ticks" equal to your current MAX). MAX would be spent as either a last ditch source of Spirit Points or to upgrade yourself to a higher "class" of entity (Dead Inside to Sensitive for instance).

So using this it takes about 45 cultivation ticks to reach 10 MAX (possibly an option to spent a certain amount of Spirit Points for cultivation ticks to allow those taking the "low road" to increase their MAX), at which point you can reset back to 1 in order to upgrade. Should strike a balance between "regrowing too quickly" and "possible to restore yourself".

I'd also suggest using Training Points from PDQ# to handle Quality growth or adding new Qualities, so you can divorce becoming more competent from healing your Soul.

Regarding the Real World/Spirit World I'd definitely recommend checking out the Cold Hard World sourcebook, and in particular the "Cosmos Reloaded" sections, Astralia in particular is good because it allows both exploring the Spirit World while still having to worry about the Real World (since your body is always going to be there). Another option (which I think is somewhere in one of the books) is to limit Spirit World travel by having anyone who falls asleep in the Spirit World wake up in the Real World.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Fight! - Challengers


Power Level 7

It's the final round for this book. Let's get ready to rumble for heaven and hell while the wheel of fate is turning and something something FIGHT!

Jason Stone

"Who ordered the sound beating?!"

Fighting Style: Boxing, Kickboxing and Wrestling
Win Quote: "Heh. That was worth my time. And I charge a lot."

Jason is an Englishman from an aristocratic family that made a fortune in the USA around a century ago. Bored of his mind and with a disdain for his family, Jason started to work out, learn some martial arts and have a blast in fight clubs.
His dream is to create what is essentially WWE meet Tekken, hoping to to make more money than the family's fortune just to show 'em.

Jason hails from the Lord of Battle campaign, though he has been modified into a 3D Fighter for this book. He has no ranged attack options like most Tekken characters, but he can string together pretty long combos, and his maxed out Accuracy helps him in doing just that. Once is juggle train is starting, it keeps going for a good while.
As a 3D Fighter, his list of normal Special Moves is relatively short. His most noteworthy onces include Two-Stage Roundhouse (which deals only half damage if the opponent is just within range because the first hit doesn't quite go that far), Dashing Pummel (a dash jab whose slow recovery is explained by him wasting time cursing on a miss), and Ground'n Pound (a throw that his him grab the opponent, roll around with him for a bit and then start a beatdown). His Super is the Super Dashing Pummel (unsurprisingly a stronger Dashing Pummel).

Siersi

"Maybe I shouldn't have used that shampoo..."

Fighting Style: Ectoplasmic Mastery
Win Quote: "Warriors on this planet are weak."

Siersi is an alien criminal from another galaxy who got put into a stasis pod and launched into space after she was used as a guinea pig and ended up fusing with a snake-like, extradimensional entity.
Having crash-landed on Earth, she tries to figure out where she is and may or may not end up as a fighting game boss.

Siersi is a perticularly hard nut to crack as she has very high defenses and a lot of counter Moves at her disposal. Most of her attacks also involve tentacles and snakes bursting out of her body, which gives her quite a bit of reach.
Tentacle Grab is basically Scorpion's "Get over here!" (or whatever the "official" title is; I prefer mine), and Siphon Life has a couple snakes bit the opponent and drain health from him. Knocking her down can lead to her using Squeeze, which can knock down everyone around here.
Here two mobility options are Flash and Slash (limited-use a teleport) and Dizzy Lash (which can also reflect projectiles). Both can also be used as counters for extra fun.
Her Supers are Spinning Lash, which has er teleport next to the opponent for a surprise beating, and Singularity Lash which is another one of those nasty utility moves that lock the opponent in place.

Powerl Level 8

The two PL8 Fighters are interesting in that their statblock shows their entire development from PL1 to 8, letting you include them whenever you want.

Daiichi Takeda

Sleeping?

Fighting Style: Guardian God (Shugoshin) World Wrestling
Win Quote: "Don't underestimate the life-giving fist."

Daiichi was a lonely student whose pacifist nature made him a frequent target for bullies. His life changed completely when he ended up saving a girl from a street gang (aka "He distracted them long enough for her to beat them up."). As it turns out, the girl has family ties to a very secret and exclusive dojo (with a potential sentai vibe), where Daiichi learned some neat wrestling moves. Now he spends his time protecting other students and generally beating up bad guys.

Daiichi is actually rather well-rounded for a grappler, with a slight focus on defense and damage.
His big thing is a multi-part throw that keeps getting longer for the first half of his career: Daisetsuzan Oroshi has him launch the opponent into the air (also usable as a counter), Air Backbreaker has him catch the falling opponent on his shoulders and slam him to the ground, then Tornado Bomb has him do it a second time, and Spinning Piledriver has him channel the spirit of Zangief for the finisher.
His Super Shugoshin Saikyou Combo has him to all of the above in a single Move, and Shugoshin Enraged has him go angry and blast the opponent into the sky.

(He also gains a bit of Ki points for his last couple Power Levels, which doesn't actually do anything for him. Oh well, just add it to Fighting Spirit).

Rei Oshiro

"Yeah!"

Fighting Style: Demon Hunter Style
Win Quote: "I won't let my family down - there's no way I can lose!"

Rei's backstory is pretty video-gamey: He and his ancestors have been tasked with guarding the Demon Stones, artifacts of great power whose main gimmick is that they can only be used for evil. There's also the occasional demon to take care of.
He's also a former playtest character.

Rei's also relatively well-rounded, with lacking defenses at lower levels, no ranged attacks at all, and a very great combo potential.

Rei already starts his career with a juggler (Airwalk Fist) and a dash attack (Demon Hunter Kick). Later levels include a damaging combo finisher (Glorious Spirit Fist) and a counter move (Heavenly Wrath).
His Supers are Demon Annihilator (a stronger Demon Hunter Kick), Lifebreaker Assault (a flying kick combined with a flurry of blows) and God Airwalk Fist (a stronger Airwalk Fist).

Example Thugs

The example Thugs here are ordered according to their level like the Fighters, but there's also a list where they're organized according to theme.

For example, the "Criminal Element" section lists your typical modern day Thugs, including Hooligans and Street Thugs (both at level 1, with Hooligans leaning more towards offense), the amazingly-named Unruly Mob of Untrained Angry People (level 2 and essentially represents some kind of swarm) the Hulking Brute for your big tough guys (level 3 and actually able to cause Hit Stun).

Also useful for modern day scenarios are "Law Enforcement and Military" Thugs, going from simple Security Guards (level 1) and Police Officers (level 2 with a gun) and ending at Special Forces Soldiers (a straight level 3 upgrade from the officer) and Powered Armor Guard (level 4 and yet again a straight upgrade).

Fantasy thugs include the Fantasy Soldier (level 2 for your dwarves and orcs), the Mounted Soldier (also level 2, but very mobile) and of course a Dragon (level 5, with a ranged breath attack and hard to take out).

Sci-fi Thugs include the Warrior Alien (level 2 and a ranged attacker), the Assault Robot (a beefier level 3 upgrade) and a friggin' Mecha (level 5, with one of the most accurate and damaging ranged attacks among the Thugs).

If you just want to beat up vehicles, that's also a thing: The Armored Personal Carrier is level 4 and an annoying ranged support for other Thugs, while both the Attack Helicopter and the friggin' Tank are level 5 and more like early boss encounters. Especially the tank is pretty hard to hit. A starting character would require either an accurate Move or situational modifiers to even have a chance of damaging it. But once you have a few Power Levels under your belt, you have a pretty good chance to Shoryuken that tank. Yeah, it's that kind of game. No wonder these evil fighting game organizations always want to harness the power of martial artists to take over the world or something.

Other Thugs include various animals, and the holy tri-force of Cat Girl (level 1; fast, but falls over if you so much as look at her funny), Pirate (level 2 and basically better Street Thugs) and Ninja (level 3 and annoyingly fast). At least in Fight!, the Ninja clearly come out on top in the eternal Pirates vs Ninja discussion. Is that still a thing, anyways?

Next Time: I think it is time to go back and look at a few stars that are without number.

Lightning Lord
Feb 21, 2013

$200 a day, plus expenses



Halloween Jack posted:

Jesus, finally I find someone who gets the Dying Earth.

This song is the best overview for the tone of the books and you should get fools who think it's about cool sorcerers shooting rainbows to listen to it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9G2zAKJH98

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




oriongates posted:

Regarding the Real World/Spirit World I'd definitely recommend checking out the Cold Hard World sourcebook, and in particular the "Cosmos Reloaded" sections, Astralia in particular is good because it allows both exploring the Spirit World while still having to worry about the Real World (since your body is always going to be there). Another option (which I think is somewhere in one of the books) is to limit Spirit World travel by having anyone who falls asleep in the Spirit World wake up in the Real World.
The only thing I do not like about the CHW sourcebook is the factions. Whereas Whispering Vault benefits from having a fun, casual tone to go with the edgy theme of the game, groups like the Spookleggers and Cryptozoo Revue just feel inappropriately silly.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



I will never get over Fight!'s artwork. Especially all the dudes with arms and legs larger than their torsos.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Green Intern posted:

I will never get over Fight!'s artwork. Especially all the dudes with arms and legs larger than their torsos.

Yeah, it's a bit CLAMP-ish (with a dash of KoF). Still, I'd take those proportions over whatever is going on with the current Street Fighter anatomy (even if they have gameplay-related reasons to inflate the characters' hands and feet).

Though Challengers was the first one where every piece of art is from the same artist. The two books before had more variety. And the cover artist for the mini-supplements seems to be pretty swell:


One day...

Doresh fucked around with this message at 22:23 on Feb 23, 2017

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Evil Mastermind posted:

This, though, feels squarely in the "read an indie RPG once, didn't get it" category, with the added bonus of looking like an early draft that accidentally got published.

Looking at the credits page makes me think the author was a Forge lurker -- and hey, he participated in the same Threeforged design contest that I did. So he knows his indie RPGs. But it really does feel like a first draft -- there's a decent idea in there, but it needs a lot of refinement before it's going to reach the surface.

Lightning Lord
Feb 21, 2013

$200 a day, plus expenses



The best Black Hack product for me is the Petal Hack because it brings Tekumel to the masses and it costs a hefty $0. It's also written by Tekumel expert Brett Slocum.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Halloween Jack posted:

Jesus, finally I find someone who gets the Dying Earth.

So at this point, how many games are based around entering dreams? Besides Lacuna there's Insylum, Don't Rest Your Head, Dreamwalker, and JAGS Wonderland, and I've heard similar things about Alas Vegas.

Does Sandman: Map of Halaal count? If we ever learned what the hell was going on, at least...

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Poland Spring posted:

A bit late to the party but all that Farm and The Prisoner talk had me thinking that the game would have been so much better if instead of it being spelled out that people are killed and eaten in Building 10, they should have left things unclear. SO much of the complaints focus around the weird fetish-y nature of things, so why not just make the killing-and-eating thing just the most popular rumor as to why everyone is there? It'd open the game up a bit in a way that gives players another Thing To Do: find out what the hell is actually going on in Building 10.
Yeah, if instead the building was this mysterious location where nobody ever returned from, you actually present an interesting mystery that could go into a bunch of different routes. Even if people did get chopped up in there, you have many reasons for why other than "you are eaten." I guess "fetish" might be the wrong word here, but it certainly has some kind of fundamental hangup on the alimentary process.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Wow, I'd never heard of Sandman before, but that sounds like it was almost certainly the first unless you're going to bring, like, Glorantha into it. It sounds extremely ahead of its time, especially alongside other Pacesetter products that were good, but very much of their era of game design. (Chill, for example, combined a percentile-based system with a single universal chart for results, which IIRC was basically similar to the contemporary edition of Gamma World.)

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Halloween Jack posted:

The only thing I do not like about the CHW sourcebook is the factions. Whereas Whispering Vault benefits from having a fun, casual tone to go with the edgy theme of the game, groups like the Spookleggers and Cryptozoo Revue just feel inappropriately silly.

Yeah, can't argue with that. Dead Inside always had a few tone issues here and there. The title, artwork and general concept come off as very bleak but the actual setting is more fantastic and whimsical. And then you've got the goofy bits, which are more prevalent in Cold Hard World (the spookleggers in particular. Boo!merang? Really?)

Honestly If I were running a real-world focused Dead Inside game I'd probably avoid organizations in general. They make a certain amount of sense in the Spirit World given the place is very "dense" with only the singular City and its surroundings, but there are probably only a small handful of Dead Inside and maybe another of Sensitives in any given city in the Real World. Having anything larger than maybe a few UA-style Cabals doesn't really jive.

But more generally, to make the Real World important I'd suggest having something that "pushes" the players back from time to time, and forces them to keep connections or relationships in the Real World. Maybe flip the script and have Real World actions be better for Soul Cultivation rather than making it easier in the Spirit World. Astralia works by making it so your Real World body always stays behind, so you're never able to completely ignore it and you've got to make sure you've got a safe place to keep your body when you're "out". Alternatively, just make it so you can't eat or sleep in the Spirit World and you've got to come back to reality every so often before you starve to death or faint from exhaustion.

Basically, the Real World should be unpleasant (harder to use powers, problems with socialization, yawning void in the pit of your being) but necessary in some way. Main issue with core dead inside is that there's really no reason to ever go back to the Real World

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




unseenlibrarian posted:

Dreamhounds of Paris, aka "The Surrealists vs. the Lovecraft Dreamlands, with special guest star Sex Hitler"

I missed that part skimming it years ago

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

"Stupid Sexy Hitler!"

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



DNA Cowboys posted:

Oh, good. Something light to get the thread back on track.



Immortality has a price.

The natural state of a human being is to be born, to live and to die. And most of us are afraid of death. But we often have other plans for our destinies or sometimes destiny has other plans for us. Nowhere else is this more true than the World of Darkness.



INTRODUCTION

World of Darkness: Immortals
is my attempt to dip my toes back into the World of Darkness content books and also doom this thread to ten thousand years of more WoD chat. But that's because Immortals is actually a pretty dang good book!

Wait no come back don't leave.

Alright lemme level with you. Yes, you. Just you. It's a pretty dang good book. That doesn't mean it's flawless. Far from it. The main issue you and I are going to be running into is the fact that a lot of the stuff in Immortals doesn't have particularly good compatibility with Chronicles of Darkness. This is mostly due to the old Morality System and our loathsome buddy Derangements. Integrity is a much better system, but Breaking Points vary from person to person and, well, say it with me:

Immortality has a price. And it's not always a healthy price to pay.

Immortals isn't on any Urgent: To Do! lists when it comes to Onyx Path translating stuff to CofD. It also doesn't help that I'm not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the intersection between New World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness, so please forgive me when I inevitably gently caress up something mechanical. I'm really just here to showcase the strange, the bizarre and the wonders of Immortals.

So What Is An Immortal?

An Immortal is someone who has defied the natural orders of a human life to become immortal. Immortal does not mean indestructible and it does not mean you can't be killed. Immortals make for good Weird Stuff to encounter or include in your games or mix up the party a bit without including one of the core splats in a crossover situation. Immortals have a bit of a loose connection to other supernatural phenomena in the World of Darkness and since Immortals came out in 2009, some other lines have come out, namely Geist and Demon and Mummy and nothing else, so I'll be trying to think of them in the context of Immortals.

However, as opposed to having psychic powers or pseudo-magic abilities or some other stuff, most Immortals get their abilities out of choice to sacrifice something. Generally speaking, gaining immortality follows these rules.
  • 1: The easier it is to become immortal, the more must be paid into it or sacrificed. The quickest route to immortality is often the bloodiest or most morally repugnant.
  • 2: Immortality comes in the form of either altering body, mind or soul. Change one and the rest follows.
  • 3: Immortals are more than human, but if something happens to alter them further (vampirism) they'll lose everything under the title of Immortal and instead become that splat (vampire).
  • 4: Immortality is not exactly friendly to your sanity and the things you do to maintain it may cause mental strain.
  • 5: Some of the previous rules may not be applicable or may be tweaked by certain types of Immortals.
  • 6: A price must always be paid. This is the one rule that will never change or be invalid.
The book is divided into four chapters and an introduction, which I have basically just put in my own words. There's a lot of blather about how their existence is a strange one where having friends may hinder them and the existence of other beings in the night may cramp their style but you've heard that song and dance before. I'm gonna keep the general contents of the chapters under wraps, but Chapters 1-3 are all about a specific type of player-friendly Immortal and Chapter 4 is a grab-bag of other ideas and less-thought-out hooks/player characters. The majority of this review will be paying attention to the first three types of Immortals and the ideas/mechanics they bring to the table.

Oh also I won't be going over the majority of the fluff pieces in this book. Like what you read? Buy the book! You'll get to see the fluff I'm keeping under wraps too.

So stay tuned 'cuz this show'll be going long after you're dead and you might as well enjoy it.

NEXT TIME: an excerpt from Garth Marenghi's hit book "Slicer"

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

NHP advocate.


Hostile V posted:

NEXT TIME: an excerpt from Garth Marenghi's hit book "Slicer"

"I am not prejudiced, but many people are. I mean you probably are, you look like a drop out".

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 2: "The pantheon arrived through a giant Rift that opened over Lake Titicaca, one of the most powerful nexus points in the world."

*snicker* "Now we have arrived at- they call it that now? Really?"


Enjoy this map, because it's all the art we get for awhile.

The Empire of the Sun

So, we start out with some notes about early civilizations about Peru-Bolivian civilizations, but reveals the truth: apparently the oldest South American civilization was really influenced by Atlantis, and it was...

The Lost Nazca Civilization

It turns out archaeologists were super wrong in thinking the Nazca existed around the early post-Jesus centuries! It turns out that the Nazca actually existed ten millennia ago! Stupid professors! And their books! They didn't even know the Nazca drawings were line magic! Fools! The Nazca existed alongside Atlantis and Lemuria, which those foolish academics denied! The unmitigated arrogance!

So anyway, Nazca was ruled by mage-kings that used magic drawings to promote good weather, prevent disasters, and cure illness. But when Atlantis hosed magic up for everybody (thanks, Atlantis), the Nazca civilization all but collapsed, with only the remnants becoming known to the (imbecilic!) later historians (morons, one and all!). But even though the magic waned, some mystics remained, and they sensed great danger and began preparing ancient magic drawings to prepare. Which was good, because then aliens invaded.

Now, this is a little unusual, because for all of its weirdness, Rifts hasn't otherwise had alien invaders from space. Aliens from other dimensions? Sure. Aliens from other dimensions from space? Yeah. Humans from space? Kinda. But this is different, at least.

So the Nazca line drawings allowed them to summon giant spirit animals and blasts of psychic powers, and the aliens were a little surprised by magic, which they didn't know about. Their poo poo was wrecked, and they opted to go home, but in doing so the Nazca exhausted their remaining magic, and many of the mystics died fueling their own rituals. The remaining Nazca wizards went to a pocket dimension to hide out until magic finally returned to Earth, and presumably were very bored in the meantime.

Some Imaginary Nazca Wizards posted:

"What's up, Wayra?"

"The same thing that has been up for the past nine thousand years, Auqui! Nothing! Nothing is ever up!"

"... how about now?"

"You're lucky our enlightened culture keeps me from hurting you."

The History of the Old Inca Empire

Yeah, it says "old", implying there's a new one. Foreshadowing.

So, the Inca claimed to be descendants of the gods, but nobody believed them! The fools! The Inca were really born of gods! The Pantheon of the Sun (part of the Pantheon of the Light), academic assholes! Victor Lazlo knew! Kinda! The gods were actually interdimensional refugees serving Viracocha, who was powerful! And interdimensional! And entity... al! And they were running from the Mechanoids! That's right, the Mechanoids kicked Incan god rear end! Somehow! And they came to Earth because they'd heard of the Nazca, Professor Know-It-All! But there wasn't enough magic left so they went into god comas! Explain that, science!

One of them, Manco Capac, united people by impressing him with his godliness and had them build temples to contain his sleepy brethren. Why wasn't he asleep too?



It turns out they formed the Inca Empire and a lot of the early rulers were godlings or demigods. But eventually they figured out the magic wasn't coming back and left for greener dimensional pastures, or to help out other members of the Pantheon of Light against generic evil, or whatever. The Inca had it pretty good then the Spaniards came along and gave them smallpox, the end. And without the worship from Earth, the Inca gods lost their faith supply and took a nap again. They're the nappiest gods.

The Return of the Gods
The Great Cataclysm & New Empire of the Sun


So the rifts happened, no big deal, except the Pantheon of the Sun woke up and they came back and organized survivors in South America like the decent gods they are. They were benevolent, but were also pretty happy to have access to their faithly supply again. When they ran into some people that still had tanks (who attacked because gods are freaky and poo poo) the tanks managed to kill some demigods and godlings. The Incan pantheon realized that maybe machines were serious business. Meanwhile, the Nazca cities were rebuilt now that their magic batteries came back online, and the Nazca wizards busted out of their dimensional prisons, hungry for magic like Superfiend at a crack convention. The Nazca wizards and the Inca gods had tension for awhile, not fully trusting one another, but then the Larhold barbarians showed up, activated their daily rage or whatever (I dunno, these guys are later in the book), and rolled over the Nazca. The Nazca appealed to the Inca for aid, and the Inca saved them. But in return, the Nazca become their vassals. The, a group of transdimensional slavers called the Dakir attacked (the third group of transdimensional slavers in South America, for the record), and though the Inca weren't weakened per se, it slowed their expansion.

Then aliens invaded.

The Arkhons

The aliens from Nazca times, known as the Arkhons, showed up for round two, and came fully prepared to fight magic drawings. Unfortunately, when they warped into orbit, they immediately got into a fight with surviving orbital communities and their satellite defenses. (A plot point not mentioned in Mutants in Space.) Between that and random rift plot magic, the fleet was pretty crippled. Still, they managed to break through and attack the Nazca, taking the wizards off guard- wait, I'm confused. When they were weakened and diminished, the Nazca Line Makers could foresee the first Arkhon invasion well in advance. But at the height of their power, they're taken completely by surprise?



Plot holes aside, the Arkhon were able to bust through and land in post-Ecuador, annihilating or enslaving human villages, and their new colony came into conflict with the Inca pretty shortly thereafter. Using Line Magic and a few gods, a small Inca force was able to hold off the Arkhon invasion, albeit with massive casualties. The aliens have taken some ground, but right now the Incas are holding off on unleashing their full godly might, because they're worried the aliens might freak out and launch nukes or the like. Why are the aliens invading? I dunno, it doesn't say here. Seems like a daft idea, though. Positively daft.

Government and Society

We get population percentages here, but no actual figures, but we can extrapolate from there being 300 godlings and 10,000 demigods that the population must 1,030,000 people. Their leaders are the Pantheon of the Sun, though the gods don't generally dictate policy; they leave that to their priests. Their priests are lead by a high priest (presumably not high, just high) who's a human priest that acts as the executive branch of gov't. The legislative branch is the "Parliament of the Sun" (it's a theme) which is made up of a certain number of seats appointed by the high priest and a larger majority which are elected representatives.

Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:

There are no political parties in the Empire of the Sun; each representative has to convince the local population to select him or her.

Why not? There has to be a reason why not. Maybe they're just really bad at political organization.

We also have nobility! But it's not based on heritage, instead it's a merit-based system involving tests where they test various skills strenously, and if you pass, you're a noble. Nobles get to wear big earrings and wear more money (hence them being called "Orejones", or "Big Ears"), and are "allowed to accumulate wealth", which apparently commoners aren't allowed to do. Seemingly the Empire of the Sun gives out property on a communistic sort of basis otherwise. Sounds practical. But they still don't get as much prestige as priests or wizards. It also notes that rural folk, due to lower education standards and having to travel to a city to take tests, are less likely to become noble than city folk.

There are specific rules behind becoming a noble, which is that you have to have a skill at 80% or higher, or have more than +5 to strike with any attack. Which means we can murphy's that. It's time to present the easiest ways to become a noble in the Empire of the Sun!
  • Everybody speaks their native language at 98% in Rifts. Show them you speak words and you're in. They don't even have to understand the language you're speaking in! "I don't know what he's saying, but he says it very well."
  • Acrobatics teaches you how to backflip at 80%. Show them the nobility of the backflip.
  • If you have a Physical Prowess of 24 or higher, learn any ancient weapon proficiency. Hey, you know what's a good way to improve that stat? Become a Juicer. "Hey, taking drugs makes me pretty noble."
  • A Rogue Scholar gets a +50% bonus to Literacy, giving them a bonus of 80% at 1st level. "Reading. Check it."
It's also pretty weird that you can prove nobility though any skill. Demolitions! "Look how good I made this bomb! No! Don't run!" Pick Pockets! "I have robbed all the testers!" Hand to Hand Assassin! "I snap neckbones in a most noble manner!"

For most people, though, towns are pretty rustic, relying on "holistic" or psychic healers. However, each village has communal computer terminals, or public display televisions that broadcast news and educational programs. "Outsiders find Inca television to be excruciatingly boring." They also have a civil militia that is required of all adult males, though there is a rotation so that only a tenth are actually serving at any one time.

Inca cities are closer to what we would think of as a modern city. They have high technology and live much more comfortable lives. However, the government regulates entry into the cities and those who sneak in usually end up in lovely slums that are worse than their rural lifes. Take that, immigrants! Understandably, there's some friction between the rural and city sides of Inca life, and there have been some local revolts, some of them even successful. Oh, and there's a pre-rifts terrorist group, The Shining Path. No poo poo, those guys made it through centuries of the apocalypse. We'll get to them in a bit.

The Sun Priesthood

Priests are selected in their teens from groups of volunteers, and those chosen are given a religious education. Most of those just become "priests minor" who don't have any divine power and act as servants, guards, and other "honorable but low positions". Those who are "gifted" become full priests with all the political power and favor listed above.

The Nazca Line Makers and Other Magicians

Incas like wizards, due to the Pantheon of the Sun having made a habit of working with Atlanteans in the past. Not recognizing their horrendous mistake there, they're still cool with wizards. It's generally assumed, though, that wizards are servants of the state when needed, and will serve when requested. In turn, wizards get to enjoy a higher social stratum, as well as access to arcane universities. They can learn any low-level magic there, and petition for higher-level spells. However, "black magic" like necromancery and witchery is banned, and summoners and shifters are given the hairy eyeball. Summoners aren't in this game, though! They're from a different Palladium game. Which one? It doesn't say and it's not important, so gently caress it.


This is the third Palladium book I've seen this art piece in.

Ancients

So after the Inca gods went away on vacation, some of the Mayan royals were like:

Some Imaginary Mayan Royals posted:

Royal #1: "Hey, I bet we're gods too, because people like us a whole lot, but for some reason we're aging and dying like everybody else. This second fact would seem to contradict the first, but work with me here. What if we trapped our souls in our own bodies?"

Royal #2: "So, we'd become undead horrors? That sounds pretty rad."

Royal #1: "Oh no, we don't become undead horrors. We just lie there. In eternal agony or something, hungering for the blood of the living but never being able to sup."

Royal #2: "Eeeegh. That... that sounds bad."

Royal #1: "But if for some reason there was a huge surge of magic we'd come back as undead horrors that feed upon the lifeforce of the living."

Royal #2: "Wait, are we living in a time where we have any awareness that magic rises and falls?"

Royal #1: "Not at all! So I guess we'd just be tortured, trapped within our own skin, denied any sort of afterlife."

Royal #2: "Well, what the gently caress, I do get to live forever. Can you put a TV somewhere near my body?"

Royal #1: "TVs haven't been invented yet. You live in a tomb of complete darkness."

Royal #2: "I'm going with this plan for no discernible reason!"

So yeah, some Incan kings and queens and associated detritus became evil undead mummies and woke up when the rifts came because maaagic. They're working against the Empire of the Sun, which seems a bad idea because it's run by gods of sun and light, but these guys are bad idea pros, so I guess it fits. The worst amongst them is "Emperor Yahuar Huacac, the Blood Weeper". It turns out Yahuar Huacac was a real Incan ruler, but we'll get to him and his demonization later.

Foreign Affairs

Naturally, the Incans have a low-intensity war with the Archons going. The Archons are worried about being smote by gods, and the gods are worried the Archons have nukes (there is no evidence of this concern in the book), so neither is escalating things too far. Well, except the time the Incans tried to assassinate Warlord Enno, whoever he is, but the Arkhons foresaw it with psychic powers.

The Incans aren't in touch with most of the Silver River Republics, but do have some peaceful trade except for Cordoba. Cordoba has attacked them but since both the Incans and Cordobas are both at war with other folks, it's a low priority. They get along famously with New Babylon but aren't formally allied. Some bad blood which isn't detailed here keeps them from getting along with The Megaversal Legion. They don't like Manoa because they think Atlanteans are dicks. They hate the vampires of the Kingdom of Haktla (something about drinking blood and tormenting the living) and have had some minor friction with Columbia but nothing serious.

Cities and Places of Note

A few other cities are mentioned, and then we get villages that have 1d6 x 100 people, but we don't care about those, because the book sure doesn't.

Cuzco, the Imperial Capital

With about 300k folks, this was the original capital of the Inca Empire, then a Peruvian city, then annihilated by the rifts, then rebuilt by the Incan gods. They have the "Great Temple of the Sun" which glows with magical sunlight that makes it daytime all the time. The interior is hollow and can host 50k people, which sadly is not for power armored tlachtli games, but instead is for large religious ceremonies with or without divine presence. There's also the "School of the Arts" which was was an attempt to retain all the human knowledge they could gather, and it also have a notable magical school which occassionally has accidents where monsters bust out and run amok before being wrangled. Wizards are, as you remember, rich and powerful and respected and would never let a fire elemental loose on poor little Joaquin, so I guess they can get away with that poo poo.

The Great City of Nazca

Speaking of irresponsible wizards, the Nazca build a city out of green and red glowing magic, having learned nothing from the past. But at least it looks like Christmas in July, I suppose. It has six towers made out of magic that act as watchtowers and are overseen by powerful "Line Makers", and they can erect a 700,000 M.D.C. shield, one of those meaningless numbers that for some reason gets totaled up. Why not 800,000? Or 900,000? 1,000,000 would be a nice round number.

Still, they are wise enough to make 60% of their buildings out of good old brick or concrete, and there are magic signs that can give you directions, and wards and circles designed to fire energy bolts at attackers or raise walls. The Arkhon have done the math and found out any attempt to attack the city will fail with 90% casualties. How they can do the math when all the calculations are based off a subject of which they have little knowledge - magic - is anybody's guess.

The Free City of Arequipa

A Pre-Rifts city that survived the apocalypse (there sure seem to be more and more of these as the books roll on), they worked to maintain and rebuild themselves industrially. When they met the Incas, in a bizarre turn that could only be Carella's writing, the Incas were like "oh, tanks and guns, we need those". And so rather than conquer it, they offered Arequipa "free city status", allowing it to self-rule for the most part while still being under the ultimate authority of the Incan Empire. Though there's been some friction, for the most part it's worked pretty well.

They have the best standard of living, which of course attracts immigration and its associated issues, including an underclass of migrants. There are supernatural predators and criminals that exploit these people, though the local authorities do their best to root them out.

Lima

The former capital city of Peru, on the other hand, was completely wiped out by tidal waves. However, there has been an attempt to rebuild by Arequipan colonists, and a major shipyard has been built there to house and build the nation's navy.

The City of the Dead

Despite being listed in this section, this isn't part of the Incan Empire, but instead is a mysterious dreaded city where the Emperor Yahuar Huacac and his Blood Weepers rule, along with a group of vampires birthed from an off-world vampire intelligence (and his vampire ambassador). It's location is unknown, since it's surrounded by magic mists that hide it and confound travellers. One would think those would make it more noticeable, being surrounded by mist 24/7. Why? Well, maybe it's a dimensional anomaly! Or maybe not. The book is vague and we'll never know why.



Next: Whiteness is next to godliness.

Lightning Lord
Feb 21, 2013

$200 a day, plus expenses



Yet more proof that I never actually read any of the Rifts books I had, just looked the Ramon Perez art.

Mr.Misfit
Jan 10, 2013

The time for
SkellyBones
has come!


Lightning Lord posted:

Yet more proof that I never actually read any of the Rifts books I had, just looked the Ramon Perez art.

Quality-wise, you might have won out in that case.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*




Spaces of the Unknown (SOTU) is an old-school dungeon-crawler designed by Brent Newhall specifically for online play. To let the game speak for itself:

quote:

This is a dead simple, light, fantasy role-playing game designed to be played on the internet using the most awesome human invention: the written word.

Although definitely light, this one is pretty hefty compared to the two hacks I wrote about yesterday: a whole 34 pages of A4 (although the entirety of the player rules fits on two), small print, not as good-looking as The Black Hack but way nicer than The Indie Hack. From a technical writing point of view it knocks them both into a cocked hat (although it's still not perfect).

We open with an introduction for people new to roleplaying, and an introduction for people who are familiar with D&D. There's nothing for people who are coming to this from non-D&D roleplaying games, but I suspect that demographic is a) unfortunately small and b) not really the target market for this game.

Anyway, I'm going to summarise that summary because it's a pretty good overview. Thus:

  • The GM rolls all the dice.
  • All PCs are fighters, more or less.
  • There are no turns in combat; everyone moves, then everyone attacks.
  • You can cast spells from scrolls, or learn them from a mentor.
  • No gold. Just equipment (for adventuring) and monster body parts (for use as spell components).
  • PCs don't get killed, they get sidelined. While sidelined they can still help out the other PCs.
  • The group has a level, not individual PCs. Killing monsters boosts your level.

It's an interesting mix of changes: some to reinforce tone, some to streamline for online play, and some which are just 'quality of life' improvements. It's also the first explicitly GM-facing game I've seen, although I'm sure there must have been others. I know in this case it's because letting the GM roll everything speeds up online play, but still. It's noted.

From there we jump straight into the player rules. The first thing to do is to roll your pre-adventurer background on the handy d20 table, or you can choose one. We'll learn on the next page that 50% of the backgrounds get the ability to identify spell scrolls on sight -- including lords, nuns, doctors, bandits (?) and beggars (???) -- and the other 50% get nothing special, so straight away we've got a mechanical hiccup. It bugs me because there are at least four simple ways to fix it.

Moving on, you choose your armour. A higher AC means a lower movement. Also, although we don't learn this until much later, when you perform fancy actions like jumping, climbing, etc. you roll against your own AC, so lighter armour makes you more able to so stuff like that. That feels quite elegant to me -- no need to track armour check penalties and suchlike -- but I do wish it was mentioned here so players could make an informed choice.

You get 1d8 hit points. It's not mentioned here but when you level up you roll Xd8 where X is your new level, and if the total is higher than your current max hp you get the new total. I like this system. It allows for steady hit point growth but also mitigates the extremes.

You get three choices from the list of weapons, one of which you can trade in for a shield. Weapons come in five categories: small (concealable), improvised (plain bad), melee (standard), ranged (ranged), and two-handed (big damage).

You also get a special item based on your background, which can be anything you like. Some sort of distinctive piece of equipment like Donnel's pot helmet or something. This is a purely roleplaying decision -- I would like to see it get some sort of mechanical support but I'm not sure what that would be off the top of my head.

You also get a 'wilderness pack' which is just a standard collection of adventuring gear. Rations, rope, a fishing rod, usw.

Choose a race (again, no mechanical effect) and a name. And you're done!

There's a brief section on how to play the game

quote:

Hint: Your actions should always push the story forward. When in doubt, act.

a brief section on actions (you get one per round), and an explanation of what it means to be sidelined. Basically, when your hp hit 0 you can't effectively fight any more -- but you can still encourage another PC (granting them +1 on their rolls until you stop or change encouragement) or assist another PC, which involves a risk of failure but offers a +2 bonus to their action if you succeed. Naturally, you have to describe what you're doing to encourage or assist.

You can also still move when you're sidelined. Just not attack or take actions.

A brief section on spells: basically if you have a scroll you can read the scroll, it crumbles to dust and the spell fires. Or you can learn magic from a patron, although what they teach you is up to them.

And some stuff on levelling up (when the GM says, you get extra hp) and extra attacks (which you get sometimes when you level up). Extra attacks are attacks and can't be 'converted' into other actions; they just let you fight while you're doing other stuff.

That's it for the player-facing rules.

The GM rules start on the next page and dive right in with 'this is what you'll need to get started, this is how you do it'. Set up your forum post or G+ collection or whatever, then there's a five-step method to getting started which goes:

  • Define a city using the handy random table on the next page.
  • Define another city.
  • Stick three waypoints on the major trade route between the cities.
  • Invent a benefactor who will send the PCs on their mission. (Prompts provided.)
  • Choose a lair from the ones in the book as the first adventure.

More 'getting started' advice is in the next section, but we digress for a moment to talk about tone. I'm just going to reproduce this section here because I want to talk about it a bit:



Of the three old-school games I've looked at, this is the first to explicitly set a tone. All of them have a tone, obviously -- The Black Hack is 'general OSR' and The Indie Hack is angling for 'Darkest Dungeon World' -- but only SOTU sits down and lays it out.

But.

Let's take a look at "It's not a game about killing monsters per se." Because the way you level up in this game? Is by killing monsters. In quantity. The tonal description here isn't supported by the mechanics of the game at all. You could fix that -- you could give every lair a condition by which it can be 'restored' or some benefit that defeating it gives to an existing bastion of civilisation, and track 'locations restored' as your XP-surrogate -- but as written the game supports the stabbing of monsters and little else.

The last paragraph raises some interesting questions that go unanswered as well: if the goblin tribes are capable of legally managing their own lands, what is it about the goblin camp that makes it "brutal forces overrunning and destroying ... peace"? Is this an act of war? Wouldn't the correct response be diplomacy, not elite murder teams? It's all very well asking me not to treat the enemies as disposable damage sponges, but the game doesn't support any other approach.

I think if you're going to make a dungeon-crawler you should probably just own the murderhoboing. The PCs are violent people taking back fallen pieces of civilisation from other violent people. If that's the game then that's the game, and pretending it isn't doesn't really help anyone.

But that's a rabbit hole I don't particularly want to go down right now. Moving on.

There's a section on scenes, including some advice for the first three scenes of the game:

  • Meet the patron, learn the mission.
  • Stop off at a waypoint for some RP.
  • Get in the dungeon.

Which is a pretty good start if you ask me. It's also useful for online games because it gives the GM clear steps to follow to keep things moving. Things flagging at the meet and greet? Boom, you're at the shrine/farm/point of local interest saying hi to the people there.

Then we get into the meat of the mechanics. Rules for morale for monsters (when half of them are dead, test once), rules for rest and healing (heal up to full between each encounter), and then the basic structure of the game. All die rolls are either attacks (1d20 + level vs defender's AC), stunts (1d20 + level vs your own AC), or saving throws (1d20 + level vs 15). That's pretty much it.

Monsters don't have a level to add to their rolls, so they tend to get bonuses in their stat blocks. Players can critically hit on attacks (max damage) and crit fail (weapon breaks). Monsters do neither.

Advantage and disadvantage appear here again as well. Because the GM does all the dice rolling it's very much up to them whether or not advantage or disadvantage applies, but a) that's true of every other d20 game that uses it as well and b) this will involve less begging from the players.

There's a section on advancement, which is based on the number of monsters the PCs have defeated -- which includes killing, driving off, negotiating peace with, etc. And a neat bit on further adventures which lays out a solid pattern to follow for the first three adventures and then a handful of suggestions for the next ones.

Next we move on to equipment, which works on a slot basis. You have twelve slots and each slot can hold e.g. 5 torches, 50 feet of rope, 2 flasks of oil, etc. There are also three pre-generated 'packs' provided for dungeoneering, wilderness exploration, and general thieving. Nice and simple.

There's also a random generation table for artefacts -- objects being held or guarded by a monster, for which you want an interesting history. The table runs in five columns from 1-35, 1-22, 1-20, 1-22, and 1-20, so I don't know what sort of dice you're supposed to use it with. Some sort of online random integer generator, I suppose.

By way of an example I rolled 5d20 a couple of times and got:
  • a book of lore purchased from a mad king from another dimension
  • a decorated shield destined for a scheming merchant in a nearby city

Not bad!

We close out this part of the rules with a page on magic which reiterates what we already know: you either cast it from a one-use scroll, or you persuade someone to teach you an actual spell which you then need to harvest monster bits to cast. You can memorise up to two spells per level, but then you can cast them as often as you like provided you have enough eye of firenewt.

There are also about a dozen sample spells. Spells don't have levels, it's just that people don't teach power word, kill to novices.

There's a page about monsters, which are very simply put together and -- as usual -- compatible with every other OSR game in existence. There's also an explanation here that there's no gold economy in SOTU; unintelligent monsters are harvested for parts, and sapient monsters tend to be guarding unique artefacts like :xx-roll: a cryptic map intended for a treacherous elf prince in a luxurious palace, which tie into or kick off their own storylines.

This is followed by six small lairs (3-4 encoded encounter areas) suitable for kicking off your game, each themed around a separate monster: undead, goblins, insects, lizardfolk, fishfolk, and orcs. Then an edited replay of a game the author played on G+ and a rules cheat sheet.

And that's it!

So. I like SOTU. It's less comprehensive than The Black Hack -- there's nothing in SOTU to help you with non-combat interaction, for example -- despite being more detailed, but it claims a particular area of enterprise and adequately covers everything within that area. I'm particularly fond of the very clear instructions on how to set things up and get started, both for the players and the GM. 'Do this, do this, here are some sample dungeons to get you started, go.' I think more RPGs should do that.

I also like that this game has been designed for play in an asynchronous online environment. You could probably harvest the main innovations here -- GM rolls everything, no turn order -- for use in other online games, but it's nice to see them presented front and centre.

I'm a bit eh about the tone sections, because I prefer my game tone to be mechanically supported, but overall I can live with that. It feels like less of a problem for the GM to manufacture tone at the table -- especially with such a minimal rules engine -- than it does for them to paper over missing rules and weird interactions like they'd have to for The Indie Hack, which actually has a pretty consistent tone thanks to the art. But that might just be me?

Overall, a perfectly respectable addition to the pile of rules-light dungeon crawlers. If I wasn't a PbP disaster I'd run it.

Desiden
Mar 13, 2016

Mindless self indulgence is SRS BIZNS


Someday, I am going to write my post-apocalyptic future game, which will be shockingly innovative. In the not-white countries charismatic leaders will rise, preaching a return to the "old ways", and attempt to restore the ancient incan/mayan/persian/imperial japanese/whatever empires. They will come forth to the land, and the people will say...."no, that's dumb. why would we do that?". And the preachers will say "oh yeah, I guess you're right. I know, how about we work on building up a sustainable regional economy and food supply, since the global system is collapsing." And the people will say "yes, that seems much more sensible than putting on grass skirts and dancing around like the platonic ideal of white people ideas of 'savages'".

And then they will do that, and things will go okay.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

That'd be really boring though.

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Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




rumble in the bunghole posted:

That'd be really boring though.

It'd also be really not racist.

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