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Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

Steam Warriors so we can see more useless/janky stuff.


May 7, 2007

Hostile V posted:

Steam Warriors so we can see more useless/janky stuff.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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

Hostile V posted:

Steam Warriors so we can see more useless/janky stuff.
It's definitely this.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Dragonmech: Steam Warriors is a book on character options. It starts off with feats, then new classes, then new steam powers, then new spells, then some expanded other rules. The feats, of course, are mostly boring. Some high points:

Aerial Operation (Dex 13, Mech Pilot 5): You do not get a -4 penalty when piloting flying mechs. Guess what there's only single digits of in the entire world!
Ageless (At least +7 points worth of artificial parts): You do not age, but still die when your lifespan runs out.
Coupling (At least +2 points worth of artificial parts): You can combine with other steamborgs with this feat to share senses, preventing flanking and physically merging. You get a bonus to all attacks based on the number of merged members, but you lose 10 feet of movement and must all remain in contact, and you get a penalty to your next loss-of-self check.
Hazard Master (Gearstride Feat): You can make a (melee or ranged) touch attack at AC 10 in a gear forest to produce an environmental hazard at the spot you hit, and if you do so from hiding it takes a DC 20 Knowledge or Craft check to tell someone caused it in the first place.
High-Grade Steel: Any time you gain an artificial part, you can pay an extra 100 gp to gain 1 max HP, with a cap of 'your HP if you rolled max on all your hit dice.' You can take this multiple times.

They are all pretty bad, too - stuff like '+1 to a bunch of skills while in a specific city-mech' or '+2 to two specific skills' or 'slightly improve your ability to do something, plus a feat tree that is three feats long.' Anyway. We move on to classes. First up, prestige classes, because...because.

The Chainmuscle is a prestige class for steamborgs that seek physical power over all else. To become one, you need Str 10+, Dex 10+ and Con 10+, plus 8 ranks of Craft (mechcraft) and 4 of Knowledge (steam engines). Further, you must have the Power Source feat or steam engine class ability (to have a steam engine in you, yeah, btw, that's a feat now, the steamborg class can be done by just taking feats and it still sucks) and +2 points worth of artificial parts. For this, you get a d10 hit die. Your class skills are Balance, Climb, Craft (mechcraft), Jump, Knowledge (steam engines), Profession (engineer) and Swim. You gain proficiency with all simple weapons and any 4 steam-powered weapons of your choice, along with all armor (including hydraulic armor) but no shields. You get good BAB (but not multiple attacks, for some reason), good Fort and good Ref.

At levels 1, 4, 7 and 10, you get a +1 inherent bonus to one of Strength, Dexterity or Constitution, with a note that inherent bonuses cap at +5, from steam-powered upgrades. If your power source or all of steam powers break, your stat bonus goes away until they're fixed. You can also get some free points for artificial parts, starting at level 4. At level 3, you get DR 1/-, upgrading to 2/- at 6 and 3/- at 9. That's the entire prestige class.

The Cogmorph is a prestige class for steamborgs that want to have hidden tools and multi-use implants - essentially, they get to rearrange their power selections, at the cost of losing use of parts of their body temporarily. To become one, you need a BAB of +2 or more, 8 ranks in Craft (mechcraft), 8 in Knowledge (steam engines) and 8 in Profession (engineer). You also need to have the Power Source feat or class ability, and must have built at least 2 different steam powers unaided, and must have helped build a mech. You get a d8 hit die and your class skills are Balance, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Disable Device, Heal, Jump, Knowledge (architecture and engineering), Knowledge (steam engines), Listen, Profession and Use Magic Device. You get no new proficiencies, half-decent BAB, and good Ref.

At level 1, you get the Combined Parts ability - you can combine and decombine two of your artificial parts as a standard action. You pick ahead of time two of your artificial parts (right arm and left arm, say) and how the steam powers installed in them will work together, and you can alter the bonuses the artificial parts provide. So say you have a right arm that gives +1 Str and has a flame nozzle attached, and a left arm that gives +1 Dex and has the amplifier and light generator steam powers. When you combine them, you can make it a combined location that gives +2 Strength and has the amplifier boost the flame nozzle's damage dice. At 3rd, 5th and 7th levels, you can choose a new combination of 2 parts that you can do, or add a part to a pre-existing combination. Obviously, a part can't be used simultaneously in two different combinations. Any time you change or replace your artificial parts and their associated powers and attachments, you can rework any combinations they were part of. Oh, and you must remove all armor to initiate a combination.

At 9th level, you can combine or decombine as a free action once per round. At 10th level, you get a new combination of every artificial part and steam power attached to your body, adding to it any new powers or parts you gain in the future. Oh, and you also slowly gain more points to spend on artificial parts and steam powers, at a worse rate than the Chainmuscle.

Next time: Cogworms. I'm actually ending this early because Cogworms deserve to be a post topper.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising, Part 16: "Outnumbered, the humans and dog boys in the garrison fight heroically, but in vain."

Ah, yes, the "Heroes of Humanity."

A minor correction I worked out from Julian's statblock - it turns out that Mega-Juicers do have supernatural strength, RIP, Titan Juicer. I missed it because it's under the "super toughness" ability rather than the "super strength" ability. Go figure.

That aside, let's see how the Juicer Uprising is doing. Once again, the adventure seeds are in italics.

Flash Kick!

The First Battle

Once things cool down, the Coalition figures they can come back in and resume their shenanigans, not aware that the Juicers have learned their sinister plan. So when they try and reopen the Prometheus Treatment centers, the Juicers are ready for them and attack, cutting many of them down. Only a Spider-Skull Walker (remember those?) is able to hold the line long enough for the Coalition troops to retreat behind the wall, but the Juicers take the walker down. Assaulting the Newtown walls, things look lost for the Coalition, so Orly decides it's time to activate the murder function of the Phoenix Chip, despite Andrew "I'm not an alien!" Anderson's protests. Hundreds of Juicers immediately die, and it doesn't take very long for the Juicers to realize that only those that got the treatment died. As a result, the Juicers now unlock a new motivation - revenge - and are more determined than ever to seize Newtown.

It notes PCs can have their own little conflicts within the battle, and maybe they uncover some information about the Coalition or Ultra-Tech Industries... somehow? Somewhere?

The Juicer Conclave

The Juicers regroup to try and figure out why people are doing, and Julian the First takes the lead. He points out that fleeing Juicers would like to run into Coalition reinforcements, and the more sensible thing would be is to take Newtown hostage. He also points out they could find out the secrets of the "cure", not that he believes in it. The majority of the Juicers side with him, readying to begin their siege.

It notes that PCs might get involved and come up with their own strategies or plans, or try and influence the Juicer army in other ways.

It's those guys I pointed out before.

The Battle of the Wall

The Juicers are able to blow the walls with explosives under covering fire, and though the Coalition is able to mow them down with their superior vehicles and power armor, it falls apart once the Juicers get into close combat and can exploit the smaller spaces within the city. The only Coalition survivors from the battle consists of an air unit that escapes... for which the squadron commander is later court-martialed and executed for cowardice.

The Heroes of Humanity, everybody! :v:

The recommendation for PCs is to be the ones that plant explosives and make a big difference as a small, sneaky group, and then have to fight for their lives until reinforcements arrive.

The CS Sortie

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

In the words of General Ross Underbill, "the events of the Juicer Uprising will go down in our military records as classic examples of incompetence and gross ineptitude."

General Orly then plans to escape, claiming the primary goal has to be the preservation of Coalition hierarchy, i.e. him, and doesn't wait for any orders to the contrary. And so he tries to use the air force to soften up the Juicers, but they counter that with their Icarus Flight Systems, jet packs, and hover bikes. He fails to break out of the city, and suffer sizable losses. Ironically, they only fight back because they don't know his intentions - they probably would have let him go. However, it still belays their attempt to take the city. Because Orly deliberately avoids contacting his superiors, he has no idea help is on the way.

There are no guidelines for PC hooks here.

And here they are again!

The First Relief Attempt

Pulling vehicles and men from the Tolkeen front, the Coalition sends a number of Death's Head Transports to reinforce Newtown. A canny guerrilla fighter amongst the Juicers, a "Captain Terror", is seeing about setting up traps, mines, and ambush tunnels in the meantime. The Juicers manage to intercept the transports with their Icarus Flight Systems, and take heavy causalities but manage to down all of the transports, while troops traveling by ground are attacked by skirmishers, isolating and destroying vulnerable units. The Coalition calls for a retreat, not knowing the Juicer skirmishers would likely be crushed with a literal day's more of effort.

It notes PCs could be part of the skirmishing units or the air battle. Or maybe they could run into a monster after ambushing a Coalition force, and either have to deal with Coalition pursuers and the monster- or turn them against each other.

The Taking of Newtown

Without reinforcements, the Juicers take Newtown and capture General Orly, torturing him but holding him for ransom. The Coalition, on the other hand, could give a poo poo about Orly's fate, and they're unable to find anything useful at Ultra-Tech Industries facilities.

Nothing for PCs mentioned here.

The Coalition's Reaction

The Coalition is both embarrassed and outraged by the Uprising, particularly because it's eating resources they had hoped to use at Tolkeen and elsewhere. Lyboc has gone into hiding during this time because gently caress it, he isn't takin' the rap for this. Though the Coalition feels the need to respond, they're paralyzed by the fear of one of their enemies using the opportunity to stage a direct attack on a Coalition State.

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Emperor Prosek has reportedly said that he expects the entire matter to, "burn itself out in a few weeks. After all, nothing important is really at stake here. Is there? Not in the grand scheme of things. If they want Newtown, let them have it."

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

In fact, Joseph quips to his father that the incident at Newtown might actually work in their favor, giving the enemies of the CS "a false sense of security." And is overheard saying, "Our enemies see the mighty giant as sleeping and vulnerable. Won't they be surprised when he finally stirs and swats them away like the annoying bugs they are."

Ah, the Heroes of Humanity. "Our people are dying in droves? Meh."

We get a big list of rumors that I'll spare you because none of them are particularly important (or accurate), other than as hooks to get the PCs involved if they aren't already.


More Juicers start to congregate on Newtown, including the Valkyries, as well as a number of people who have a bone to pick with the Coalition. Without an enemy to fight, though, Julian the First is left with a lot of hungry soldiers and no easy sorts of food. They start sending out groups to either forage or raid, but some essentially engage in outright banditry, while others go on suicide missions against the Coalition itself.

It notes that any of these groups can be wandering damage for the PCs to meet, such as Juicer rebels or Coalition patrols.

There's a giant robot bust here, for some reaosn.

Battle at Fort El Dorado

A number of Juicers had also traveled to Fort El Dorado, thinking they might have the Prometheus Treatment due to the presence of Ultra-Tech Industries there. When they try and force UTI to give up the cure, fighting breaks out, but it's more of an armed riot than a battle. King Randall would request Coalition aid, but Juicers would set fire to the city, causing people to flee. Blowing holes in the walls with explosives to escape the flames, the Juicers would run into the Coalition forces remaining near the city - and when the Coalition forces opened fire, they would largely hit fleeing civilians (the Heroes of Humanity!) and the Juicers then overran the small Coalition forces. By the end, thousands were dead - half of them civilians. The Coalition retreated, King Randall surrendered, and the Juicers extorted money and supplies from Fort El Dorado. However, when they tried to investigate a Ultra-Tech "We're not aliens!" Industries facility, it blew up for no particular reason.


The PCs could be present for this, perhaps even between adventures, and try and save lives while they're caught up in the disaster.

Choosing Sides

A lot of :words: here add up to "various factions have opinions but don't get involved". About the only notable thing is the Naruni or Splugorth sending in spies to try and figure out who Ultra-Tech Industries is, suspecting them of being extradimensional. But how likely is that? Really? Reallly?

Tom Servo posted:

"Then I'll ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest, but I'm not an alien!"

Dangers in the Countryside

In case you need more trouble, there are bandits and Simvan, trying to exploit the situation, Lyboc sending in Coalition Juicers to try and assassinate some of the Uprising leadership, and Federation of Magic spies who "aren't the nicest people around". But we don't really know much about the Fed, so good luck making poo poo up, GMs!

Well, they go to some lengths to detail things. You can tell that Carella loves his military sci-fi fiction, offering a lot of specific details I'm only skimming over as to not get bogged down. But we aren't even to the big twist, of course, but we'll see that next time...

Next: Die! Die! Die!

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

The gently caress Is This Thing?

Say Hello! To Atlantis: The Second Age! Created by Kephera Publishing the same company behind Hellas: Of Sun and Stone, the Sci-Fi meet Greek Mythology game previously covered here. Atlantis is basically a reimagining of Bard Game’s “Atlantis Trilogy”, a pretty much forgotten game from back in the 1980’s. The Original Atlantis trilogy isn’t really important, and actually barely has anything to do with the newest version, so don’t worry about it. What is notable is that this Atlantis uses the Omegasystem, which is basically the newest iteration of the system for Bard Game’s actually notable RPG: Talislanta! Timely!

So, in short: Atlantis is a Sword and Sorcery game set in a fictionalized and mythical ancient past at the dawn of mankind, where ancient and powerful inhuman race’s great empires crumble, and monsters and demons run wild. The players are Heroes, larger than life figures of myth and legend who stride forth to shape the world to their will.

Or, in a more succinct terms, as given by the Kickstarter for this game:

Oh, but in case you’re worried about the shady history of being really loving offensive that permeates the entire S&S Genre, especially those that bank on the influence of old paperback writers, here’s a picture of the main creator Jerry D. Grayson:

Oh, and if you like what you see, please buy the books. A portion of all proceeds go to Givewell, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the efficiency of other nonprofits and research into them, and the Against Malaria Foundation which purchases and distributes insect nets to impoverished communities in Africa.

Now to Properly Explain: What Is Atlantis?

Now, most games first chapter is your typical “What is Roleplaying?” section, along with a rough guide to the basic mechanics, and is skippable in 90% of games. Atlantis does something else. It tells you what kind of game IT is, by answering a series of 12 questions, basically detailing the premise, themes, and design philosophy behind the game. If you like the answers to these questions, that’s exactly what you need to know if you’d like the game as a whole. In summary:

  • The game is a Sword and Sorcery fantasy, explicitly inspired by Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, Kull, Brak Mak Morn), Clark Ashton Smith (Zothique, Poseidonis, Averoigne, Hyperborea), Micheal Moorcock (Elric of Melnibone), and Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser).

  • Atlantis is explicitly about the personal journeys of the Player Characters, about how they pursue their own personal goals, either grandiose or gritty, altruistic or selfish. It’s a game about driven people working to accomplish their goals. Players are required by the mechanics to be proactive, driven, and goal oriented.

  • The game uses a Lifepath character generation, the most familiar comparison would be with Traveller, in addition to the more traditional Race/Class combo system to make a character. This ensures the Hero comes preloaded with definite connections to the setting, previous events to act as plot hooks and adventure seeds for the GM, and gives a useful basis for a character's personality, and goals in the game.

  • Heroes are not your typical D&D mudfarmers who have to level for ages before they can do more than glorified pest control for the local city council. Atlantis PC’s are already veteran and powerful heroes, “Leveling” is more about additional customization and expansion than straight power increase. Instead the focus is on gaining Renown, building a reputation and fame that will live on in legend. The player’s also have codified mechanics for enacting permanent change on the setting and narrative, making them the definite movers and shakers of the world.

  • The setting is designed to be as RPG friendly as possible. It is intended to be a perfect “kitchen sink” Sword and Sorcery setting while still feeling as much as possible like a coherent world. The setting of a mythical ancient Earth means a lot of cultures and things are ersatz versions of real historical cultures to add a point of familiarity, while the supernatural aspects are intentionally trying to avoid much of the more cliche and dull aspects of fantasy (Tolkien Ripoffs basically). Essentially, the setting is designed to be a place to play an RPG, not as a writer’s bible for a fantasy novel. * Cough* Forgotten Realms*Cough*Dragonlance *Cough*

A Brief History of the World

The next section of the introduction is, well, a brief history of the world. Presented narratively, as a teacher giving a history lesson to a group of Atlantean children, it’s a rough outline of the mythic past and history of the world, from an Atlantean perspective.

The first age of the world was called the Age of Unreasoned Sleep, a timeless period where existence first… existed. It’s called that because the in the beginning, the world was formless and mercurian, the stuff of creation the product of the Elder Gods. The Elder Gods are older than existence, mysterious and unknown beings who literally dreamed the universe into existence. This is also when the first of the Root Races came into being, the Jinn, shapeshifting beings of living magic born from the dreams of the Elder Gods.

The Age of Unreasoned Sleep lasted an unknown time, because time really wasn’t a known thing yet, until the coming of the Demiurge, Olódùmarè (One of the names for the supreme god of the Yoruba people, of modern day Nigeria and Benin). Olódùmarè’s origin is unknown: He may be an Elder God who woke up, a creation of the Elder Gods to give the world form, or maybe the embodiment of the collective wills of the Elder Gods made manifest. In any case, Olódùmarè set forth to catalogue everything dreamed by the Elder Gods, giving order to the Universe and purpose to all things.

The next age of the world was the Age of Screams and Fire. See, Olódùmarè going around making order out of the primal chaos of existence had the side effect of waking some of the Elder Gods, who didn’t appreciate his meddling, and wished to return the world back to its primeval state by scourging it with fire and death.

Olódùmarè was not very happy with this, but he couldn’t do much about it. He did manage to warn the Jinn in time, and they sealed themselves in jars of amberglass and orichalcum, hiding beneath the earth until the Elder Gods had spent their rage. It’s thought that some Jinn-jars containing these primordial beings are still lost, hidden within the earth, waiting to be found.

Once the Elder Gods had destroyed the world, reducing it to stone and ash, Olódùmarè took action, singing a great song that lured the Elder Gods back into their eternal slumber. But, the Elder Gods had left one thing behind after their sleep, the embodiment of their wrath, named Nemesis. Whenever Olódùmarè sought to repair the damage to the world, Nemesis worked against him, undoing what he did.

But, Olódùmarè was clever: He found the last tree in the world, and from its scorched wood he made a box, which he trapped Nemesis within. He kept this box under his tongue, as he went about reshaping the world. Over time, Olódùmarès voice seeped into the box, changning Nemesis into something else: One day he awoke from sleep and found two small beings crawling from his mouth. He named these two Set (Egyptian god of the Desert, Storms, Disorder, Violence, and Foreigners) and Ba’al (An ancient Northwest Semitic world meaning “Lord” or “Master” a title put before the names of dieties, alternately a name for Hadad, a storm god in the ancient Levant). Together these three worked to remake the world.

During this time Olódùmarè also worked to recover the Jinn, freeing them from their hiding places within the earth. Inspired by this, Set sought to create life of his own. He crafted the race known as the Ophidians, a race of humanoid serpents and the second of the Root Races, who quickly spread across the Earth, forming many great kingdoms and empires. Unfortunately, Set, thinking it a blessing, gifted the Ophidians with limitless ambition which lead to them conquering everyone they met, enslaving all others, and fighting among themselves to weed out perceived weakness.

Ba’al saw Set’s creation, and growing jealous, sought to make his own life, but he could not create something from nothing. Instead, he took many of the Jinn and warped them into shapes and natures he found attractive. These beings became known as the Sons of Ba’al, though in common parlance they are just called Demons. They terrorized the world, corrupting nature, and feeding upon Ophidians and Jinn alike.

Olódùmarè grew angry at this, seeing the corrupt children they had spawned he sought to destroy them, banishing them from the world. But, Set and Ba’al joined forces, and with their armies, attacked Olódùmarè when he was sleeping upon the Moon. The great battle scoured the moon of all life and cost the lives of countless minions, but eventually the siblings were able to overpower Olódùmarè. They shattered him into a thousand pieces, and threw them to Earth.

This was not the end though, as the eldest of the Jinn gathered the thousand shards of Olódùmarè, and sealing them into the same jars that saved them from the Elder Gods. From within these jars the shards of Olódùmarè grew into new beings of their own right, the Orixa (the name for the Gods or Spirits of the Yoruba). The Orixa rose up against Set and Ba’al, defeating them.

For Ba’al and his Demons they forged a great prison of Brass deep beneath the earth, and sealed them within it. The touch of brass is anathema to Ba’al and his children, and so they live in eternal torment within the buried City of Brass.

Set, they tore limb from limb, throwing his serpentine body into the deepest pit. His thrashings are the source of earthquakes and tsunamis to this day. But, from the blood of set spilled from his torn limbs came the Dragons, embodiments of Set’s rage and fury bent on destruction and evil.

While the Orixa set out to repair the damage done by Ba’al and Set, the Ophidians, now uncontested, ruled the world without challenge.

Next came the Age of Water and Reason. This age began with the third Root Race. Upon the island of Lemuria, born from Earth and Water, there was a great amber egg. From that egg hatched the Lawgiver (An obvious parallel to Sun Wukong, the Monkey King of Chinese folklore) the first of the Lemurians and father of their race. The Lawgiver was at first immortal, but he gave his power to the Apes of the island, blessing them with great intellect and and deep understanding of the natural world. Before the Lawgiver passed, he wrote down for his people all his knowledge in a single great tome, said to contain the answers to every question in that will ever be asked. Copies are, obviously, rare and heavily guarded by the Lemurians, and few have ever seen one.

The Lemurian ape-men were possessed of an insatiable drive for knowledge, and the spread out into the world seeking to learn ever more, building great cities in harmony with nature across the world in peace and prosperity, until they encountered the Ophidians.

The two races were, almost instinctually, enemies and quickly launched into a titanic war for dominance of the world. The Lemurians developed mighty science and advanced weaponry, while the Ophidians used their dark magics to spawn the Ahl-At-Rab, a race of fierce warrior-slaves. This war lasted for centuries, decimating both empires until they literally could not fight any more, settling down into a protracted cold war.

Meanwhile, on the continent of Gondwana, the final two Root Races arose: The Atlanteans and Humans. The Atlanteans are said to have appeared, fully formed, up on a river bank in western Gondwana. Their exact origins are unknown, though the Atlanteans of course insist they were divinely created to rule the world. Humanity as well has mysterious origins, and it is said they were created by Olódùmarè himself.

In any case, while the Ophidians and Lemurians fought, the Atlanteans built a mighty empire in Gondwana, incorporating Humanity into their empire. While the Atlanteans insist this was beneficent patronage, most human peoples remember the Atlanteans as dominating slavers.

As the Atlanteans spread across Gondwana, the Ophidians began to raid the human settlements on the coasts, seeking slaves and resources to fuel their war with the Lemurians but unaware of their Atlantean masters. The Atlanteans struck back with a fury, crushing the war-weary Ophidians and driving them back to Mu, never to return to Gondwana.

At the same time, the Lemurians were being devastated by a great plague, killing most of their population. Weakened by constant warfare, and now broken by plague the Lemurians abandoned most of their outposts and colonies, retreating back to Lemuria.

With the Ophidians in retreat and the Lemurians withdrawn back to their homeland, the Atlanteans were free to spread across the world. In time they found a new continent, vast and fertile to the west of Gondwana. They migrated their population to this land, building a new capital for their empire, naming both the city and continent Atlantis.

As the Atlanteans conquered the world though, the Ophidians worked to rebuild their armies. They created new forms of dark magic, bred massive slave armies, and even called for the Sons of Ba’al for aid recruiting demons into their armies. Finally ready, the Ophidians began a great war to reclaim their empire, slaughtering their way through the Atlanteans forces to the very walls of Atlantis itself.

This war though led to the Atlantean Sorcerer-Scientists to uncover the twin powers of Alchemy and Vril (Harnessing ley-lines and raw magic). Using these powers, they created the Nethermen, a race of savage monster-men to repel the Ophidians. While they were a success at first, they bred so quickly and were so uncontrollable that eventually they had to be slaughtered and exiled to prevent mass rebellion.

Not discouraged the sorcerer-scientists tried again, this time breeding the Andaman, a hybrid of human and animal. Adaptable to nearly any environment, designed to hold the Atlanteans in nearly religious respect, and much more intelligent than the Nethermen they, alongside Vril weaponry and alchemy, turned the course of the war. Eventually the Ophidians were completely smashed, the Ophidian Empire broken and destroyed before the Atlantean armies.

Then came the Golden Age, five centuries of expansion and harmony as Atlantis civilized the world, and build great cities on every continent. But, as many empires go, Atlantis began to slowly slide into decadence.

The final century of Atlantis’s domination was marked by corruption and madness. The Sorcerer-scientists began to openly experiment on any non-Atlantean life spawning horrors and abominations. Non-atlanteans were treated like slaves and animals, and the rulers sank into the depths of depravity and perversion. The princes grew paranoid, assassinations and border-wars were constant, and eventually the empire began to crumble in waves of civil war and rebellion.

Finally, Atlantis was all but destroyed by The Cataclysm. The Gods turned upon Atlantis, smiting them for their wickedness and hubris. The island of Autochthea sank beneath the waves, Vril turned wild and ravaged the land, sorcery turned unstable and wild, and all the world was wracked by earthquakes, tsunami’s, volcanoes, and hurricanes.

Now Atlantis is a shadow of its former self, with only the continent and city still remaining under Atlantean control, with the rest of their colonies and cities rebelling and being conquered. Now humanity, and human kingdoms, are the dominant culture in the world.

Atlantis Time Line

Finally, there’s a timeline of the world, giving the dates of important events in the world, based on the Atlantean Calendar. I’m not recreating the whole thing, but there’s some neat world-building information contained, so I’m going to highlight some of the neater parts. For reference: All dates are based off either the founding of the Atlantean Empire, notated by the abbreviation A.E. after a date, or from the Cataclysm, notated as M.K. (Meta Kataklysmos). To give an idea of scale, the earliest event is -7,000 A.E. with the birth of the Lawgiver, the Atlantean Empire lasted until 3997 AE (Which is also 1 M.K.), and the current year is 509 M.K.

    957 A. E.
    King Atlas Amanhene dies on the morning of what should have been the first day of his thousandth year. Lightning splits the sky in a single bolt, big enough to be seen anywhere on the continent. Violet rain falls for seventeen hours and every bird in the empire coos the same mournful notes. He is the longest-lived Atlantean.

    1,862 A.E.
    The Golem War: The Great Sorcerer Mal’Sorkumar investigates the weird properties of fallen metals. Infusing the metals with his own power, he is able to capture the souls of the dead. Creating golems to hold the souls, he uses them as his slaves. Shut away for years at a time, furthering his alchemical and necromantic research, Mal’Sorkumar draws the suspicion of the Atlantean council. He is accused of black sorcery and a great battle takes place between the golems and the Atlanteans. The war lasts three weeks before Mal’Sorkumar escapes to what is now the Black Forest. The golems, not so easily driven off, are put to sleep and buried in a vault, deep
    in the mountains of a nameless and deserted island.

    2,950 A.E
    The Vril Gates of Atlantis
    Atlantean sorcerers create the first Vril Gates, allowing travel between any two of the massive, orichalcum structures. Trade and travel between the colonies increases, allowing even the least of their race to experience the outer reaches of the empire. Atlantean sorcerer-merchants control the Vril Gates; their wealth grows. Lesser merchants and humans still conduct trade over land and sea. The gates are soon dismantled when scholars discover that the space traveled between gates is actually the dreamstuff of the Elder Gods. Most of those who traveled through the gates manifest deformities of the mind and body. Though the council apprehends and slays most of these abominations, some escape into the wilds.

    505 M.K.
    The Golden Box
    Twelve boxes are delivered to twelve kings across the known world. The King of Atlantis receives a box followed by the Queen of Sheba, the Pharaoh of Khemit, The Erlking of the Black Forest, the Queen of Hesperia, then the kings of Ophir, Tarshesh, Khitai, Veda, Nazca, Quechua, and Aztlan. The boxes feel warm to the touch. Gilded and encrusted with precious gems, they draw praise from all who behold them. Inscribed on the side of each box, written in Ænochian, shine the words “and so his time shall pass”. Atop the box sits a small mechanical time piece, assumed to open the box at the appointed time. No known form of scrying can penetrate the box and, if forced open before the time runs out, as in Tarshesh, fire burns the contents. Several kings have called for the best thieves in their realm to open the box but none have yet been successful.

    506 M.K.
    The Boy Usurper
    Zal, an albino boy from Turan, claiming to be a born of true Atlantean blood and raised by wild animals, emerges from the desert wastes. The boy is always in the company of an Owl-woman called Simurgh the Watcher and her coven of Owl-women disciples. Zal commands an army of varied Andamen. He makes himself known by seizing the Tarshesh outpost of Tarsharon, outside of Joppa in Zin. The boy-general is possessed of almost godlike power and arcane magics beyond his apparent 11 years of age. Every Beast-man he encounters falls to his knees and swears and oath of allegiance. The boy and his army travel in a large and ancient barge that moves across both land and sea with ease.

    506 M.K.
    The Black Circle Conflict
    In Awalawa, rumors of a powerful sect of black magicians called the Black Circle surfaces and a horde of Nethermen seethe from the interior of the jungle, infused with demonic power. Te king of Ophir mobilizes his army and calls upon Hesperia for help. The Nubian mercenaries, known as the Lions of Kandake, move to stand against the Black Horde and their Diabolist masters. A call goes out to the heroes of every nation to help stop the threat. In a shining moment of unity, many answer. Quick and bloody, the war culminates with the destruction of the demonic master’s Black Bone Tower. Before the world can catch its breath, the demonic menace that controlled the Black Circle rises from the rubble of the former tower, devouring the souls of the unlucky few too near the desolation. Sorcerers and shaman work countless spells, binding the demon into a large tree, and impale it with bronze spikes. The Nubian mercenaries pledge to watch over the tree, allowing none to pass their wall of thorn and stone.

    508 M.K.
    The Last Beast War
    Zal and his army land on the northern coast of Atlantis and the last Great Beast war begins. His large feral army, bolstered with Formorian mercenaries, clashes with the Atlanteans. The Atlanteans do not send their own Andamen for fear that they will turn and fight with The Usurper. The battle lasts for five months as Zal pushes towards the capital. The city of Atlantis prepares for a siege, but Zal and his forces suddenly board their great barge and leave the field of battle traveling east. The Formorian mercenaries are left to fend for themselves. Most are captured or killed. Zal’s current location is unknown.

Next Time: Chapter Two: Character Creation

Oct 23, 2013

The litany of bad Dragonmech PrCs reminds me that I never commented on something back in your original review!

Mors Rattus posted:

The riftwalker...

Overall, it's neat but definitely very limited in what it can, so it isn't really any good. Especially if you got in via the ki strike option and have fewer spell levels to sacrifice.

You're dead wrong here, the riftwalker is busted even by 3rd-party D&D standards. Take a 12th level party, for instance, just using the 3.5 core books and Dragonmech. You're a Ranger 1/Wizard 3/Riftwalker 8. The DM throws an adult Lunar dragon at you. At CR 16, the dragon is a bit out of your wheelhouse, and is supposed to be a difficult, risky fight for the whole group.

You go "lol" and cast gate, summoning a CR 23 solar, and it effortlessly kills the dragon while your party sets up for a picnic. Assuming you aren't already an unstoppable monstrosity with infinite everything, because gate is the single most broken spell in the game.

If your DM has sensibly ripped that section out of the spell list, you can call a buddy or two using greater planar ally, getting a pit fiend (CR 20), marilith (CR 17), planetar (CR 16), or similar depending on your alignment.

If your DM rips his hair out in frustration and bans all summoning spells, then the dragon kills you, which doesn't matter because you and your party aren't real and you all just wake up back at home.


Dec 13, 2011
Hellas was really well done, so I'm looking forward to this.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising, Part 17: "Juicers who underwent the procedure were not only implanted with the so-called Phoenix Chip (an ironic name the Vallax found very amusing), but also with thousands of microscopic nano-machines."

This whole section smells of a Siembieda re-write... or maybe patching in whatever Carella left unfinished? It's hard to say, but after all the careful plotting, everything goes to hell in a hamfist.

"And that's why you use a parking brake!"

Grim Discoveries
By C.J. Carella & Kevin Siembieda

So, after the takeover of Newtown, the Juicer rebels one day see that all of the graves of the Juicers killed as part of the Prometheus Treatment have been disturbed and dug up - well, more like dug out. Somehow, nobody out of the thousands of Juicers and their allies noticed this! Sure. In any case, the tracks only go a little ways towards Newtown, then vanish!... somehow. Like somebody covered them up!... somehow. The Coalition is said to be the probable culprit, either to try and hide some evidence or to mess with the Juicer's morale. Yeah, I'm sure nobody would have noticed a few hundred Coalition soldiers digging up and tossing bodies into trucks... but that's not the truth, anyway. However, some Juicers are starting to go missing...

The Hidden Truth

See, the Newcomers are actually just terminators (that is, androids covered in artifical human flesh) made by an alien race called the Vallax. The Vallax are bug-aliens with advanced technology who are the real masterminds behind Ultra-Tech Industries, and the few times they were spotted created the giant mutant bug rumors from earlier. There are only a few dozen of them - their spaceship was pulled through a rift and crashed here, but they quickly discovered humanity would likely be hostile to them. So they made the Newcomers using... something?... and then blew up their ship to hide any evidence of it after stripping it. They planned to widen their inflitration of Earth with more androids, and had plans to try and replace the Coalition leadership with terminators.

Their "standard invasion procedure" involved using nanotech to take control of the local dominant life and turn them into technological zombies under their control. The problem was that humanity was too fragile for their nanotech - it just killed people. The nanotech didn't work properly on cyborgs, but Juicers were able to withstand the nanotech zombification process due to their enhancements. In addition, they didn't even need to their own nanotech - they could use a Juicer's bio-comp to just reprogram the Juicer's nanomachines to do the task. It turns out that a Juicer's lifespan being improved is just a side effect of the nanotech taking control of their brain and nervous system. Over time, Juicers that undergo the Prometheus Treatment would undergo both short and long-term memory loss until the nanotech completely takes over and puts them in the Vallax's control.

The kill signal, it turns out, wasn't designed to kill Juicers per se - but to just force the process early, and it made them seem dead while it took over their nervous sytem. The problem is that when that was done, about a quarter of the Juicers that "died" retained some amount of their memories or personality, because the process was interrupted, and so aren't under anyone's control. And so they're using the "Techno-Zombies" they've created to capture Juicers and subject them to the process and bolster their forces by having them dig themselves out of their graves. What about the fifty or so undead Juicers that remember who they are? Well, forget about them, they just step aside from the plot, I guess.

Vallax/UTI Secret Complex

It notes that they have a number of secret tunnels and complexes under Newtown, but getting in them is very hard - it gives stiff penalities to spot or unlock them, and they have poo poo-tons of M.D.C. (so like 500 M.D.C. per four feet, or 1000 M.D.C. to blow a person-sized hole in them). It gives some wandering monster sorts of rules for running into Newcomer / android security with Vallax weapons, and notes players can't use the weapons but says to look at their descriptions later... so I'll skip ahead and mention their weapons bio-scan users so unless you're a Newcomer, Vallax, or Techno-Zombie, they won't fire. (But can I steal the hand of a Newcomber and...?) If the PCs get far enough, they can discover several hundred Juicers undergoing the conversion process into Techno-Zombies.

... several hundred? Seriously, I'm not sure how the Juicers didn't notice this.

Time to go to italics and bring up the adventure part. The PCs could run into a Vallax and Newcomers trying to catch a "renegade Techno-Zombie" (i.e. one not under their control). The Vallax will spill the beans on their secret plot if captured. Another is that they could be looking into the UTI facilities. They could run into some Techno-Zombies out to catch Juicers, and either find out something or shadow them back to the UTI tunnels.

The Horrors of War

A Techno-Zombie apparently stays alive for decades, bolstered by the advanced nanotech to keep their body running longer than it normally would. The big thing is that when they die, the nanotech transforms them into M.D.C. creatures through "a nano-transformation on a molecular level" - basically making them into full-fledged robo-zombies. They had originally planned to have the Juicers go up into Coalition territory for the "attack" on Tolkeen and then get converted for a surprise attack on Chi-Town, and then convert Coalition citizens into more Techno-Zombies. However, everything went awry and they're just trying to do what they can to not get captured or killed by the Juicer Uprising in the meantime.

Juicer Techno-Zombies

So, these are optional PCs done as a template of sorts you layer over whatever Juicer you were in life - it's assumed you were one of the 25% that weren't fully converted, if so. If you want to play one, all of you mental attributes are reduced by half, you lose some of your combat bonuses, lose all your skill bonuses, can never learn new skills (but can still improve old ones), lose any psionic powers, and get a roll for insanity with no saving throw! What do you get for that massive swath of penalties? Well, only 2d6 extra years as Juicer since the conversion wasn't complete, and you regenerate faster, but it's... just S.D.C. regeneration. Oh, and you can use Vallax weapons if you get your hands on one - they're pretty badass, but good luck snagging them. Also, you might be able to hear Vallax transmissions and orders. But mostly, being a Techno-Zombie PC is awful and worth avoiding at all costs. NPC Techno-Zombies get 50 extra years as a Juicer instead but are largely the same. And if a Techno-Zombie dies, they become...

"Look, if it takes an alien invasion to make me this metal, it's a small price to pay."

The Phoenix Juicer

As proper Frankenstein's monsters, Phoenix Juicers get turned into M.D.C. creatures with half their S.D.C. and hit points as M.D.C. Which normally would be around 100-200, but in the case of Titan Juicers, means they could easily have 500+! However, they get greater combat penalities, though they still have that automatic dodge if they had it in life, so they're going to be an utter PitA for PCs to fight between their durability and ability to dodge all the things. Also, it should be mentioned it isn't particularly clear whether or not Techno-Zombies who are free from control become Phoenix Juicers. It seems that Phoenix Juicers are wholly under the control of the Vallax either way, though.

The most bored terminator.

The Newcomers
Human-shaped Androids

As mentioned before, these are robots inside meat shells developed to inflitrate human society, and have advanced AIs to simulate the thought processes of humans, save for total obedience to the Vallax. They somehow have "psionic spoofers that will create an electromagnetic emanation" to make psionics think they have the Mind Block power instead of just not having meat brains at all. It notes there are child models and even infant models. (I just can't help but think of a PC being menaced by a baby terminator, now.) They're pretty tough, have superhuman attributes all around save for beauty based on their model. (If they all have an intelligence of 20, wouldn't they have thought all this through better?) The children have a higher horror factor because "its far more terrifying to see a child acting like an inhuman monster." (Wouldn't that make baby terminator the scariest of them all, then?) The GM has to assign a bunch of skills and they have a randomized level to "reflect the complexity of their programming". And no, you can't play one.

"We evolved tiny legs on our back to scratch the part of the back you pathetic humans can never reach."

The Vallax R.C.C.

Insectoid aliens from "another part of the universe" that love conquest and despise pants. They apparently communicate on ultra-sonic frequencies and through stinky smells that humans can sense for hundreds of feet, and dog boys from triple that distance. They're only S.D.C. creatures, and though they live for upwards of a millennia, apparently their fertility has been vastly reduced by their anti-aging technology. They're really smart but physically behind that of humans. They can create stinks that penalize humans on a failed save vs. poison, and get a lot of skills they're good at. They have dinky S.D.C. claws and only rare ones have even minor psionics. We're told that there are a dozen here when it said there were a "few dozen" earlier. Editing! Also, they're another NPC-only class, so you can't play the only Vallax that learned to love pants.

They get a special force field generated by a bracelet, and a special force pistol and force rifle that do decent damage. They apparently fire a "variable energy" beam that will allow them to hurt drat near anything after the second shot - including those with the invulnerable to energy* spell in effect, vampires, various entities, and Cosmo-Knights (from Phase World). They also blow up if you try and mess with them, and apparently the Vallax have a remote self-destruct that will blow up all of their weapons, Newcomers, Techno-Juicers, Phoenix Juicers, and all of their bases. "The Vallax are very thorough." Wow, another way for PC Techno-Juicers to get screwed over? Yay. Also, why would they have a button to blow up all of their assets? What would they have left after that other than a bad smell and delusions of grandeur?

* The full name to the spell is probably "invulnerable to energy except for Vallaxian energy, our bad".

See you later, unsung heroes of the Uprising art.

Truth & Consequences

So, time for the ending. If the PCs can capture an alien, it'll spill the beans because apparently loyalty isn't their strong suit. It notes the PCs "cannot possibly stop the Vallax themselves", but it says that if the Juicer army is informed, they'll gladly help wipe out the alien menace... and probably hundreds of innocent humans for good measure.

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Note: One way or another, the Juicers will find out about the Vallax and destroy them.


Oh, good to know that everything that the PCs did doesn't matter and the ending is preordained. Oh, and the Juicers abandon Newtown... because. No reason given.

The Coalition will admit they were duped by traitors and aliens in Newtown, and protest innocence. Joseph Prosek II actually delivers a public apology and gives the Juicers of the Uprising a full pardon from retribution, and names them heroes who saved Earth from an alien menace (and also as justification for the upcoming Coalition Juicer program). By revealing the aliens' deception, they'll just use it as another piece or propaganda against places like Kingsdale or Tolkeen. Colonel Lyboc will be publicly proclaimed a hero who helped uncover the alien plot, but privately the Coalition hierarchy considers him to be an idiot and a failure. Newtown will be fully seized by the Coalition and put under indefinite military law in order to make it into a major Coalition military base and industrial complex. Yes, the Coalition, despite having screwed up so much in the plot by this point, suddenly become super-cunning and see so much winning. Why? Well, I'm sure you can figure out why. Or who, rather.

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

In the end, our heroes probably have nothing to show for their troubles, except for having been part of a historic battle. A battle that ironically became a small war against monstrous invaders out to subjugate humankind. Amazing! But such is life on Rifts Earth.


Boy, you can tell part of that last Coalition wankery was written by Siembieda, right? Well, we're not done with that. We're just seeing the tip of the Coalition wankberg right now. Bizarrely, we get XP tables for NPC-only classes once again (the Newcomers and Vallax), but Techno-Zombies and Murder-Wraights have tables that just say "NPC villain" with no numbers. It's a head-scratcher.

There are some basic maps of Newtown and Kingsdale, and that's the end!

Final Words

Overall, this book is a mixed bag, mainly because Juicers were, in my opinion, never that interesting. Giving them a subculture fleshes them out but I don't know how they're supposed to have it without a larger culture to begin with! The sports are pretty neat, I suppose, and done reasonably well. We definitely didn't need over ten types of Juicers, though, and the Uprising is a mix of Carella's relatively thought-out plot and the Siembieda's trumped-up ending. The new tech is nothing amazing and though the Juicer vehicles are a neat idea, they have really unclear rules. It's not the best exit for Carella - I really prefer South America 2 - but we'll be going to missing him going forward, because this game line is about to take a huge hit in quality. I have a hate-love relationship with Rifts, and a lot of the more recent reviews are for books I largely like - the South America books and Underseas, notably, but now... now we're going into one of the skullshittiest books they ever punished.

Next: I hate this book so much.

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011
part 16 was the bulk of what i had to say about 13th age, and its most interesting idea. the rest is lists of Stuff.

13th Age part 17: That was my second favorite arm!

13th Age is all in one book, so next up is 47 pages of monsters bracketed on either side by a combined total of 10 pages of supporting rules. 13th Age's monsters should be immediately familiar to anyone who's played D&D 4e: the blocks are streamlined, heavily templated, and involve a minimum of rolling beyond the monster's to-hit rolls. Unlike other editions of D&D, the stat blocks are boiled down to combat stats only. If the players want to try sneaking past or negotiating with or outwitting a monster, that's what the Background rules and tier-based difficulty numbers are for. These are strictly rules for the tactical wargame part of 13th Age.

Monsters have levels, which work like CR in WOTC D&D editions. In general, monsters are balanced to be a fair 1:1 challenge for PCs of the same level. Four orc warriors (a boring level 1 monster) are a good challenge for a party of four level 1 PCs. This changes as PCs level up: champion PCs (level 5-7) should be facing their level+1, and epic PCs (level 8-10) should face enemies of their level+2. This seems needlessly complicated - why isn't this arithmetic already incorporated into monster levels?

Not all monsters of a given level are the same weight. Large and huge monsters - and some medium-sized but "double-" or "triple-strength" monsters - count as multiple monsters at once for balancing purposes. These monsters aren't higher level, but they usually have multiple actions, AOE attacks, or otherwise have an outsized presence that allows them to function against multiple party members at once. While a higher-level monster already technically counts as multiple lower-level monsters for the purpose of balancing encounters, these wider monsters are designed specifically to do so. On the other hand, there are mooks, which count as fractions of a full monster. Mooks are designed specifically to work in large homogenous groups, and all of the mooks in a fight share an HP pool. You do not under any circumstances track the individual HP of individual mooks. If you hit a dire rat hard enough to kill it three times over, you kill three dire rats (presumably laughing as you charge into the pack, slaughtering as you go). This makes AOE spells doubly effective against mooks, because not only can you hit multiple mooks with one AOE, any overkill damage is carried over into the whole pack. Fireballs are extremely effective against packs of goblins!

In general, PCs just know what monsters are, generally what they do, and whether their particular schtick will work on this monster or not. "Monster knowledge" rolls are a hallmark of WOTC D&D, but 13th Age explicitly rejects them. Bards know they can't debuff an ooze (although they can insult it to death); they don't have to waste a turn and a spell to find that out. Wizards inherently know that a monster's HP is too high to be affected by a spell that only affects creatures under a certain HP total. With a handful of exceptions that specifically have their exceptional unknown (and usually randomized) qualities highlighted in specific stat blocks, 13th Age does not bother with Bear Lore-style skill rolls to figure out what a monster is and does.

Monsters also generally aren't immune to things. You can charm zombies. You can scare a giant scorpion. You can crit and sneak attack a ghoul. PCs already have such limited combat toolkits that it isn't fun or interesting to have half of your abilities turn off because you're facing the wrong sorts of enemies. There are specific monsters with specific immunities: for example, hydras turn most debuffs into a small amount of damage, and golems and oozes are immune to almost everything that isn't damage. These immunities aren't nearly as ubiquitous as in other editions of D&D, and, combined with the assumed ability of PCs to already be aware of the basic qualities of monsters they face, means they are much less frustrating.

I can't come up with some clever poo poo for the stat block header, gently caress you

There's no art! To fit two or more monsters onto every single page, they've cut down the art to little abstract symbols that might work as counters for a tabletop game. Supposedly, this somehow shows each monster's connection to the icons. The symbols do vaguely resemble the icons' own iconic symbols, but not to such a degree that you can tell at a glance which monster is connected to who, and this is something you'd want to fudge in your own game anyway. There's a shortage of physical description in general to boot: for example, you'd need to already know that sahuagin are gilled humanoids with the features of particularly fierce-looking predatory fish or sharks. I'm gonna belabor this, because lots of monsters get some sort of cutesy joke in their description in lieu of any actual idea what that monster is supposed to look like.

Monsters have loose classes that describe their combat roles. Monsters can be archers, leaders, wreckers, spoilers, etc. The roles are fairly self-explanatory, although the difference between troops - well-rounded generalists who mainly do HP damage - and wreckers - well-rounded generalists who "bring the pain" - isn't clear to me. There's no game rules attached to any of these except mooks. They just exist to help a GM look at the stat block and determine what a monster does and how to play it at a glance.

Monsters can have multiple attacks, and unless their attacks trigger each other - which is extremely common - they generally can only use one of their attack lines per turn. One attack from the first line (even if it usually involves multiple attacks) is what the monster uses for opportunity attacks. R: means it's a ranged attack that draws opportunity attacks from enemies in melee. C: means it isn't a melee attack, but doesn't draw opportunity attacks when used. To be honest, I am only 95% sure monsters can only use one of their attack lines per turn, since I can't find where it's made explicit, or where you would even find that rule. Did I mention this isn't a very well organized book?

Monsters have fixed damage on their attacks. It's faster and less swingy that way. If a monster is intentionally designed to be swingy, it has triggered or conditional attacks that only happen on a certain attack roll. Lots of monsters have "natural even hit" or "natural odd roll" as a trigger for an extra attack, extra damage, etc.

Thematically related monsters have shared thematic rules. Sahuagin are connected to demons, so they share the demonic schtick of making use of the escalation die and sometimes having unexpected abilities that the players won't know about until they're used. Orcs all score critical hits much more often until they are staggered. This is a good idea to import from 4e, but, due to 13A's relatively simpler combat and shorter monster writeups, it isn't as pronounced. On top of this, as in 4e, themed monster abilities don't mesh well with 13th Age's occasional exhortation to reskin monsters to make up for its relative lack of written-up monsters.

Monsters are intentionally tuned on the easy end, so GMs can go all out and probably not murder the players with a properly designed encounter. That said, for fights that turn out to be too easy, any monster more interesting than a goblin mook has a "nastier special" section. "Actually, this monster can…" reroll an attack, burst into flames, survive another round, isn't even in its final form, etc. Nastier specials are almost all designed to be revealed midfight, to punch up an encounter that would otherwise be a wet fart.

13th Age is What OSaRen't

13th Age does not have monsters that are the result of bestiality or interbreeding. There are no monsters that appear to be beguiling women that lure men to their death, or vice versa. No monster has a taste for virgin sacrifices. Rape is never used as a synonym for plunder. 13th Age's core book, as well as the expansion book 13 True Ways, are 100% free of sexual peril as a monster gimmick. This doesn't just set it apart from obvious fetish bait or weird sexual horror like Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Even mainline D&D and Pathfinder indulge in these, and it's refreshing to see 13th Age drop that unnecessary baggage in the same trash can that the "slovenly trull" tables went into.

That said, it's not a line-wide thing. 13th Age Bestiary has half-demons, red dragons who relish the blood of virgins, and beautiful women (and men, but they don't get an illustration) who are actually predatory spiders. Maybe it's because this book has different authors, maybe it's a coincidence, who knows.

83 Lines about 83 Monsters

A list of monsters!

Animals are a grab bag of basic bruisers, spanning level 1 mooks and 0-level normals to level 4 large. Giant rats, giant bugs, wolves and bears in both normal and dire varieties. Dire animals get a table of random special abilities! You probably shouldn't use that table with dire rats, which are pretty hardcore for a level 1 party. So much so that they're probably the reason mooks have (very easily forgotten) special rules back in chapter 6 for counting as only one-third of a monster at levels 1 and 2, instead of the usual one-fifth.

Ankhegs are large, acid-spitting cockroaches that live in tunnels. They hunt small humanoids - they can't grab medium-sized creatures - and try to drag them back to their lairs. They have a weird story hook about possibly being named after a disgraced noble family, but otherwise they're dumb beasts that try to eat you.

Bulettes have no physical description whatsoever! They're large ambush predator land sharks, same deal as always. They pick at the party with little claw attacks until they hit twice in one round, which activates their huge bite attack for the next round. Their weakness, easily forgotten because it isn't in their stat block (although it is page referenced), is the fact that burrowers can't automatically go underground from aboveground - they have to make a save, depending on the hardness of the terrain. Sometimes the PCs will get to pound on a bulette that fails its burrow check.

Chimeras are a hybrid of lion, dragon, and goat. Their attacks are just lumped into one mass of attacks that can trigger a goat, lion, or dragon kicker, depending on the roll. They're also surprisingly hardcore. Level 9 large puts them near the top of the heap, as opposed to the mid-level challenge they usually pose in other versions of D&D.

Demons are a whole family! Their shared schtick is that any given demon may or may not have a random secret ability - eg resistance to certain damage types or turning invisible at half health - the PCs don't find out about until it's too late. Demons also tend to screw around with the escalation die, although mostly at higher levels and not always. Demons start at 3rd-level mooks and go all the way up to the level 13 large balor as one of the nastiest enemies in 13A. All of the demons are lifted from previous editions of D&D except Despoilers, androgynous goat-faced confusion demons that are obvious replacements for succubi. They all do the 3e-style dual names - eg Hezrou (toad demon) - but the lack of illustrations and scanty physical descriptions can make it hard to tell what it is they even look like. The entire description for the hezrou is, "A hezrou smells like your own body putrefying. Or perhaps your mother’s." So it's a toad demon, but has a face that looks more like a frilled lizard and has "meaty, clawed hands" because that's its attack. Beyond that, you're on your own!

Derro are evil dwarves corrupted by something terrible deep in the earth, so they're all insane (:negative:) and have a bunch of attacks based on babbling manic nonsense. Also they have confusing rules about confusion:


Confusion effects only affect derro if they secretly want to murder one of their own companions, a not uncommon condition.

So does confusion work on derro or not? :shrug:

Dragons are dragons! They breath elemental blasts (and are color-coded based on that element) and fly, like D&D dragons usually do. Since dragons are almost always unique and special characters :smaug:, they get a to-hit bonus from the escalation die and have a special ability from a table of special abilities. How is this different from demons? Well, the table is slightly different! In combat, dragons fight like most large monsters: they have a couple of weak-ish attacks which randomly trigger some nastier kicker. Sometimes that's their breath weapon, sometimes the breath weapon is a separate attack they can use on its own.

Dragons range from the level 2 medium white to the level 13 huge red dragon, fifteen stat blocks in all. We also find out in this writeup that 13th Age's explanation for why white dragons all kind of suck is because the White, the progenitor of their species and the white dragon counterpart to the blue, black, and red triumvirate icon The Three, was killed in a previous age by the Lich King. (This is as opposed to the real world explanation for why white dragons in D&D suck: so you have dragons to fight at low levels.) There's also a little bit about how green dragons tend to be iconoclastic weirdos because the Green disappeared in a previous age. (It's not mentioned here, but the Green is kept captive by the Elf Queen.)

Driders are drow cursed to be half-spider centaurs.


Most driders owe allegiance to dark gods, particularly a drow spider goddess whose name elves are loath to pronounce.

They can shoot lightning bolts and shoot webs and sometimes have a poisonous bite, which I guess means they don't look like D&D driders usually do. In addition to the noticeably deficient physical description, it mentions that they're often found with drow, but there are no writeups for normal drow NPCs in this book. (You'll need 13th Age Bestiary for that.) Whoops!

Ettins are big dumb idiots. Oh and they're two-headed giants that knock people out of melee with them and stagger around from combatant to combatant. The way that they shove people around makes them more like two ogres taped together than a giant that attacks twice.

Gargoyles are really tough and get triple attacks half the time. They get a sidebar explaining the design process behind this. I guess they had space to fill.

Ghouls are smart zombies, and ghoul paralysis is nowhere in sight. Instead, the ghoul schtick is that their attacks can make you vulnerable to (more prone to being crit by) attacks from undead creatures, including themselves. They come in both regular and mook varieties.

Giants are large, throw rocks, and often but don't always have an associated elemental theme. 13th Age just covers the classics: hill(billies), frost, stone, fire, and storm, ranging from level 6 large to level 10 huge. Most of the giants are unremarkable, if high-level, brutes, but hill giants are a special exception.

Hill giants are an overtuned spoiler monster because of where they fit into damage scaling. Most big boss monsters in 13A subscribe to the 4e school of design where their attacks are AOEs, or they have many small attacks, or they somehow have an outsized presence rather than concentrating all of their damage into one single murderous hit that they can use all the time. Hill giants are designed like 3e monsters, so they just fuckbarrel one single target a turn. A hill giant is supposedly a reasonable challenge for a party of four level 4 characters, but even frontline characters at that level will have something like 60-70 HP and a hill giant hits for 45 with half damage on most misses. A crit will take a significant number of PCs from full health to stone dead. Level 5 or 6 large creatures tend to have this problem a lot, although most of them tie up most of their damage in a conditional or random triggered attack.

Gnolls are boring humanoids that, again, don't have any description of their appearance. Judging from their icon art, they're wolf men of some sort. They're wimps that do miss damage if they've ganged up on someone. There's just enough gnolls for a varied group: troops, archers, and leaders.

Goblins also don't have any physical description or even an icon that gives you half an idea of what they look like. This isn't so much a problem with goblins - you probably have an idea of what you want goblins to look like - but bugbears and hobgoblins are also lumped under this same header. Bugbears get little more than "goblin giants" (but aren't game-terms Large), and hobgoblins have a "warrior culture" and fight in legions. Goblins are good at disengaging from fights - which is funny but hard to actually apply as a combat schtick, bugbears do miss damage if the target is ganged up on (which does a good job of making them feel like giants but not really goblins), and hobgoblins ignore attacks against AC if there are lots of them, which is by far the most obnoxious evil humanoid ability in 13th Age. Goblins rank from level 1 mooks - noticeably less hardcore than dire rats - to level 4 and 5 leader and warmage hobgoblins.

Golems are all large bruisers with a gimmick, and a poo poo-ton of immunities. Flesh golems have a special attack that heals them that they can only use when they are staggered and their target is staggered, and they're magnets for fireballs. (Elemental damage gets redirected to them, and if it's an AOE and they're in melee, welp.) Clay golems ignore any attack roll under 11 and anyone they hit can't be healed above half health until after the fight. At level 6 large, Clay golems are a good contrast with hill giants, since their lower damage (36) with a gimmick means that they're less prone to two-shotting PCs. Stone golems hit staggered targets really, really goddamned hard but punt them out of melee. Iron golems have a tendency to go beserk, which increases their damage but makes them spread out their attacks among different, random targets. (This is a great way to make a monster feel scarier than it actually is in practice.) They're all large and range from 4th to 10th level.

Half-orcs are their own thing, and don't share combat gimmicks with humans or orcs. Instead, they seems like they're intended to be show-off-y individuals mixed in with other evil humanoids - the standard half-orc legionnaire has a full set of odd hit/even hit/odd miss/even miss abilities, including odd miss ability that turns a hit on the next turn into a crit, and an even hit ability that increases its defense for a turn. That's a lot of tracking in 13A terms, probably too much hassle to run en masse. But as a level 4 NPC with showy gimmicks to spice up a (mostly level 2) hobgobin or (mostly level 1-2) orc group? Sure, that works.

The fact that the basic half orcs are overcomplicated leave the level 5 champion (who is simpler than the lower-level legionnaire) and the level 8 commander twisting in the breeze. The commander and the champion synergize - the champion gets extra crits, the commander gives extra saves when an underling crits - but the commander also wants mooks to lead and there aren't any appropriate-level mooks. Mooks go from level 3 demon dretches to level 7 orc ragers with nothing in between. The ragers might be appropriate, but they'd overshadow the level 5 champions. A quarter of this page is blank, and it would have really helped to be filled in with, say, level 4-6-ish half-orc barbarian mooks.

Harpies sing the song of unmaking. No mention that they are creepy bird-women, although the icon is a little more illustrative than most. On the other hand, they also aren't woman monsters who lure men to their doom, the WOTC D&D editions and Pathfinder all indulge in. In combat, they fly and sing you to death, to introduce the fact that champion-tier monsters are going to expect you to either fly or be able to fight at range.

Hellhounds breath fire, are fire, and… are curiously less hardcore than dire wolves, huh. It doesn't say so but they're right at the right level to add some variety to a hobgoblin warband, or serve as straightforward frontline bruisers for a despoiler demon.

Humans, well…

Owning people who complained about the 4e Monster Manual aside, there's a boring grunt and then there's a guy with a demon bow eating his goddamned arm. I love the imagery, although the downside is that his demon bug bow is worked into his stats in a way that requires you to remake his statblock if you just want a reasonably hardcore humanoid archer who is not symbiotically attached to a evil bow bug.

Hungry Stars are a 13th Age original, although they fill in for the sort of aberrations that WOTC didn't release into the sort-of-public-domain in the SRD. They're floating tentacled orbs that get nastier when there's more of them. They're low level (only level 3), but you need a whole swarm of them to be any sort of threat and I don't think that's clearly communicated in their description. Half of it is "their AOE attack (which they can only use once per two stars) has a 25% chance to apply some sort of debuff along with the damage" and it's just too easy for them to whiff the special kicker and never pose any real challenge. They'd make sense as low-level grunts to serve some sort of aboleth or mind flayer expy, but there's nothing like that in this book, or anything even vaguely similar that would work well with them. They're just weird one-offs.

Hydras have a lot of attacks - one for each of their five heads - and have such long necks that they can randomly make melee attacks at range. You should do this as a GM, because they're kind of absurdly deadly if they focus their fire on one target in melee. Their main schtick besides having many heads is that they grow more heads as the fight goes on. It serves a similar combat niche at the same basic level as a hill giant (level 5 huge is comparable to level 6 large), but splitting its attacks into many smaller attacks makes it significantly less swingy, with fewer instadeath crits. Hydras also come in a level 7 huge seven-headed variety, although that's less of a big deal because it's the same monster with larger numbers (but a relatively smaller increase in effectiveness as it gains heads), at a level when PCs have more tools to deal with it.

Kobalds aren't clearly reptilian or doglike, but they are the "shameful spawn of corrupt dragons" so probably the former. They're low-level (the champion is level 2) goons who can break free of melee if they hit with their melee attack. They have a slightly greater emphasis on breaking out of melee to use ranged attacks, contrasted with goblins' plan of breaking out of melee to gang up on single targets, but they're still quite similar to each other.

Lizardmen are low-level berserkers. If they hit you with their spear, they can bite as a second attack that turn. If that bite hits, they can make three attacks next turn. They designed to reward players who take pop-free or disengage abilities, but the "frenzy" isn't especially fearsome so whatever.

Manticores are mid-level large bruisers who shoot poison spikes then close to melee to make buffed attacks against poisoned enemies. Manticores aren't especially interesting mechanically - they're similar to bulettes and mid-level dragons in that they pick at the party until triggering a huge and scary attack under certain conditions - but they have a great backstory. Manticores are convinced that at some point, they entered into a contract with a previous Emperor that gave them somewhat vaguely defined hunting rights that may or may not include people. It's a neat story hook that you could hang on any suitably bizarre human-intelligence carnivore.

Medusas are one of only two save-or-die monsters in 13th Age (you probably can't predict the other one), and the first double-strength monsters. (They work like large monsters for constructing an encounter, but aren't properly large-sized.) They come in two forms, level 6 medusa outlaws, who are generic medusas, and level 11 medusa nobles, who are pretty clearly intended to be the Medusa, of Sarpedon. (No wings, though.) Either way, they have poisonous melee or some sort of unremarkable ranged attacks.

The medusas' gaze isn't their main attack. It's implied that PCs are going to be smart enough to not just look a medusa in the eyes and immediately succumb. Instead, the gaze is triggered - if the medusa rolls well on an attack, or a PC rolls poorly, or the fight just goes on too long, someone catches the medusa's eye. If the gaze attack (which works like any attack, beside being a triggered free action) hits, the victim can only take one action per turn and has to start making "last gasp" saves, similar to the rules for avoiding death at low HP, or else turn into a statue. In practice, this is a coinflip for dying or not dying, but it only comes after a randomly-triggered attack that still has to hit. Plus, allies can help other PCs still rolling saves shake off the effect, during or after combat.

Minotaurs are melee bruisers who do a ton of damage when they move into combat before attacking, but also do extra damage against enemies with low health. They're a neat little tactical challenge of keeping them engaged while covering for the escape of anyone who needs a breather.

okay that's a lot of monsters

I'm taking a break here at the halfway point. Anyone want to guess what the other save-or-die monster is? No cheating.

Next: Oh man, that was my first favorite arm!

Cease to Hope fucked around with this message at 09:06 on May 1, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Dragonmech: Steam Warriors: The robot talks to me, see.

The Cogworm of the Great Walkers takes its name from the specialized worm gears they're known to use to redistribute power within the gear forests of a citymech. They are, at the moment, all cogling mechanics who operate in a clandestine, unauthorized manner. They do chat with each other, but each is focused on their own home citymech, and they almost never leave. To them, there is very little of interest outside their home. Any cogworm would die if it would make the citymech operate longer and would suffer terrible torture before revealing any secrets. See, the cogworms hold that the citymechs are sentient, and they work to perform the will of their citymech. Most other engineers find this to be an insane statement, but some do wonder, if they have experience with large, complex systems or with chatterboxes. Just about every citymech has between three and eight cogworms in it somewhere, hidden in secret chambers in the gear forest...with the exception of Tannanliel, which has never reported any at all. Yet, that is. The coglings that tend to become cogworms are usually less xenophobic and paranoid than other coglings and try to get taken seriously by otusiders. They often help the criminals and workers on a citymech in exchange for service in removing threats to the mech itself or a promise to avoid certain areas. Many workers talk about them as if they are magical beings that come to help the unfortunate, and certainly it's true that cogworms want their citymechs to be inhabited by happy people. As a result, any effort by leaders to get rid of cogworms tends to run into a lot of resistance, and even the Legion has been unable to capture and remove the little guys. Cogworms also see themselves as the protectors and go-betweens for cogling families and clans and the outside world, trying to keep them safe and healthy.

So, what does it take to be a cogworm? You don't need to be a cogling - just, all current cogworms are. You need Int 15+, 10 ranks in Craft (mechcraft), 12 in Knowledge (mechs) and 10 in Knowledge (local). You must have the Craft Steam Gear feat. And last: you must have been born on a citymech, and must have lived and worked aboard your current citymech for at least two years. If you ever permanently leave, you can no longer take cogworm levels until you move aboard a new citymech. Oh, and the other cogworms on your citymech must approve of and accept you. In the past that's been all coglings but if you've got useful skills, that's relaxed - especially if you know about magic, an area that th current cogworms are quite interested in. A cogworm has a d4 hit die and their class skills are Climb, Craft (blacksmithing), Craft (mechcraft), Disable Device, Hide, Knowledge (local), Knowledge (mechs), Knowledge (steam engines), Open Lock and Search. They have bad BAB and good Will, and get a (somewhat slow) access to steam powers. They also get proficiency with clubs, daggers, darts, slings, and one steam-powered weapon of their choice per point of Int bonus.

At level 1, the cogworm can create a cogworm gear. (A cog gear is the typical thing you think of when you hear 'gear' while a worm gear is a screw that turns as cog gears push the cogs along the screw thread. They're useful for redirecting force, so long as the thread is sized right.) A cogworm gear is a worm gear in which the threads are made of cogs of various sizes that can be twisted into place to fit any gear. The cogworm gear is a steam power that only cogworms can get, which can be used to replace a steam engine. It requires no fuel - you just attach the cogworm gear to any citymech wall and it provides all the power you need, with power equivalent to two boilers. It takes a full round to attach a cogworm gear, but it can be detached as a free action, and any normal coglayer trying to use it cannot attach it without destroying any and all steam powers attached to it. However, once the gear is hooked up, anyone can use it (and its attached powers) as a standard action...but they can't move even a five foot step away without dropping the steam power, because it's attached to the wall.

At level 2, a cogworm may disguise a steam power as another steam power or piece of equipment, requiring a Spot check to tell the truth. This is helpful because cogworms tend to leave their stuff plugged in and unattended, which means anyone can use it if they realize what it is. At level 3, a cogworm may add steam powers to existing machinery easier, including to large citymech mechanisms, even while the machines are operating. This is typically used to do things like add a discriminator so that only the cogworm and their friends can use something - for example, cutting off an elevator's access to a certain floor to everyone else - but can also be used to trap doors or supercharge mounted weapons. However, while these mods are part of the citymech, without a cogworm gear or cable, they do not get the automatic effect of two amplifiers that most steam powers built into citymechs do.

At level 5, the cogworm can actually communicate with their citymech for one round per level of cogworm, as per the spell commune. Citymechs are not gods, however, and are very close to their cogworms. Questions aren't limited to yes-or-no answers...but citymechs know very little about anything not related to their work. They know what their crew does, where they've been, and what goes on inside them. That's about it. Further, the personality of the citymech will color what answers they give - for example, Rebirth is very childlike and often unhelpful, while Durgan-lok is often cryptic and distracted by scholarship.

At level 6, the cogworm gets +4 to Diplomacy, Intimidation, Gather Information and Handle Animal checks against residents of their citymech. At level 7, they get the cogworm cable steam power - it works exactly as per cogworm gear, except that it allows movement within 15 feet of the location you tapped into because of the cable. Anyone that attacks the cable or steps over it takes 2d6 damage if they fail a Reflex save, as it's very taut and dangerous. At level 8, the cogworm can summon a trak trak once per day. However, unlike normal trak traks, if the cogworm fails a Wis check to control it, these trak traks are automatically hostile and violent towards anyone neabry. If under control, they obey verbal instructions but can do little more than attack foes or move objects around. They dissolve back into the pile of junk they were born from in 1d10+1 rounds, and you need sufficient junk to be present to summon one.

At level 9, a cogworm may now attach a steam power to any point within a citymech and have it affect something on any other part of the citymech, rather than attaching it directly. This makes the DC of attachment higher, but gives a bonus to disguising the device. At level 10, the cogworm can use Clockwork Intimacy once per day to perform a search that takes one hour of crawling through ducts, talking to people or sometimes just standing around in meditation in an engine room. This allows the cogworm to know the location of any person on the citymech to within 25 feet. The cogworm must either name a specific person or a person with a specified talent or ability to search for. Further, the cogworm can spend a day to find the location (to within 25 feet) of any non-unique, non-magical item on board valued up to 500 gp, which must weigh 50 pounds or less. The citymech may or may not be finding the things for the cogworm, but magic spells that block scrying do not block this ability. Note: the cogworm is not teleported anywhere, they just know where the person or object is.

We also get a sidebar on citymech personalities! Durgan-lok knows quite a lot about the world and its history, being the eldest of the citymechs and possibly tapped into the spirit of the First Age of Walkers. However, it is frustratingly prone to answering questions with riddles and it often has trouble telling the present from the past. Nedderpik is grim, efficient and wants to destroy any threat to the Stenian Confederacy as quickly as possible. It isn't a sadist but it does believe in sacrifices being made for the greater good, and is more than willing to ask cogworms to risk their lives. In its early years it was much friendlier and chattier, but its nature has shifted as the population of Nedderpik became more dominated by wealth. Lokag is a quiet, taciturn citymech that often refuses to give complex responses. When it does speak at length, it usually is not answering the question it was asked, but will be very informative and very urgent. It considers most topics not super urgent to be unworthy of its attention and has hinted that it spends most of its time pondering something at great length. It talks most often about magic and its desire to learn more about magic, though it is unclear why. Thuron claims that its fleet of support mechs are its children and talk to it, though they do not speak to cogworms. It is very protective and hates risking its fleet, though it understands the necessity. Thuron often sets its cogworms to repairing the fleet rather than itself, and it is not uncommon for mechs to just get mysteriously repaired in the night by cogworms after a battle. Goria is a mix of gossip and social scientist, engaging heavily with the groups that live aboard it and often sets its cogworms to playing the various sides off each other as it sees fit. The cogworms see this as maintaining a social balance so Goria can examine the results of the conflict, and it often tries to learn how to get people to work together or how to drive them apart. Rebirth is heavily flawed and has the personality of a child - it is more guided by its cogworms than vice versa. More on that in a moment. Haven is exceptionally arrogant and believes itself the greatest citymech ever built despite any evidence to the contrary. It is especially contemptuous of Tannanliel for some reason, and it often orders its cogworms to push its machinery past the intended and recommended levels to 'unlock its true potential.'

So, on Rebirth. Everyone knows it has problems, especially its cogworms. They describe it as juvenile and inconsistent, requiring protection and care rather than reverence. They often believe it can't even understand its own needs. However, there is hope. Rebirth often talks about the One Flaw, a single, critical error in its design that causes all the other problems. While the cogworms originally believed this was another oversimplification, they have since become convinced that it is true, as they got to know the layout better. Now, they are obsessed with finding and repairing the One Flaw in order to allow Rebirth to mature. Shar Thizdic is aware of their presence and does not like them, but his original efforts to wipe them out all failed. Eventually he heard about the One Flaw, and decided to leave the cogworms alone for now, because it all made sense - his dwarf slaves had sabotaged his grand machine, and once the One Flaw is fixed, it will be the perfect engine he envisioned. He has ordered the cogworms be left alone for now...but once the One Flaw is fixed, he plans to invite them all to his chambers as thanks, then kill every last one of them. The cogworms do not trust the Legion at all, but are willing to make use of its resources to fix the One Flaw as long as their security remains intact - and for now, Shar is allowing his men to cooperate with them.

Next time: Saboteurs and machine druids.

Oct 2, 2010

Cease to Hope posted:

Ettins are big dumb idiots.


Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.
Fallen Rib

It's okay. You're our big dumb idiot and we wouldn't have you any other way.

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011

suck it up nerd

also nobody tried to guess what the other save-or-die monster was

anyway, i am flying through the rest of this book because i've got a bad and gross book i'd like to make fun of after this

13th Age part 18: Oh man, that was my first favorite arm!

Monsters in 13th Age kill you or they don't. There's no disease, lingering poison, ability damage or drain, level drain, etc. This doesn't mean there aren't monsters that can inflict permanent setbacks that aren't death - we'll get to a couple of those in a few - but there's only one HP track. 4e started down this road by reducing non-HP damage and lingering effects, and 13th Age takes it to its logical conclusion. This not only an attempt to reign in bullshit-feeling attacks and the need to manage damage and healing along multiple tracks, but it's also part of a general simplification of combat.

Monsters don't do very many different things in 13A. The Huge Red Dragon, one of the toughest monsters in the game and one of D&D's traditional capstone monsters, has a stat block that fits on one quarter page. Two of the most complicated monsters in 13A, the noble medusa and the cloud giant, have two attacks, which in turn sometimes trigger one of two other attacks. This isn't the result of heavy keywording or dense stat block design. Rather, monsters that make lots of attack rolls tend to have all of those attacks condensed into one attack line - eg the medusa noble's "Snakes and swords +17 vs. AC (3 attacks)" - and situational gimmicks are kept down to one or two at most, with extras going in "Nastier specials".

The platonic ideal 13th Age monster is the lizardman. The lizardman pokes you with a spear, and if he rolls high enough, he then gets a bite attack. If the bite attack hits, next turn he has a special "ripping frenzy" line where he tries to tear you apart with tooth and claw. Each piece of this chain constantly reappears in monster statblocks. If a medusa rolls a high roll on her attacks, she uses her gaze immediately. If a kobald hits with an attack, it "pops free" so it can run away. If a wyvern rolls an even hit with its bite, it can use its poisonous stinger next turn. The bulk of 13th Age monsters are made of these if-then statements, to eliminate both repetitive attack spam and also streamline 4e's recharge rolls and uses-per-encounter tracking.

On to the rest of the monsters!

Ogres are big clumsy oafs, and feel like they barrel through the party with sheer mass. On even numbered turns, they get a free, weak attack that knocks PCs out of melee with them, so any fight with an ogre has people constantly getting knocked clear and charging back into the fight. It makes a fight that is really just trading hits feel much more dynamic, within the limitations of 13A's abstract combat rules.

Ogre mages are a mess. Not only do we not really get an idea of what they look like (and I hope you know what a naginata is offhand), but they're one of the few monsters that gets the full smorgaboard of mismatched features from previous editions. If I had to guess, it's because nobody really has a clear idea of the main features of an ogre mage, so it keeps this agglomeration of random crap because someone will object to removing any part of it. So it's a flying, invisible ogre in samurai armor that shoots cone of cold exactly once and resists non-at-will abilities. Sure, why not.

Oozes are large and immune to everything but damage. Black puddings and ochre jellies aren't as annoying as they are in other D&D editions, since ongoing damage is more typical in 13A and they don't have the array of immunities to damage types. Black puddings resist weapons about 60% of the time, which is annoying, and ochre jellies split if you hit them too hard, but they're mostly boring blobs.

Gelatinous cubes, on the other hand are unexpectedly one of the most complicated and obnoxious creatures in 13th Age. Their main attack engulfs you - it's a grab where you automatically take 30 damage every turn until you escape (a hard disengage save unless you hit the cube first, then it's a normal disengage save). However, if you're engulfed and under half health - and you've already taken 30 damage from the first attack and 30 more from a turn engulfed, so you probably are at this level - you start making last gasp saves. Not only do last gasp saves mean you're rolling to save or die, but also it means you can only make one action a turn, so you can't hit the cube for a disengage bonus then try to disengage. Surprise! Not only are gelatinous cubes the nastiest grappler in 13A, they're also the other save-or-die monster!

Orcs actually get a physical description - although it's more of a choose-your-own-orc from a list of ideas - and a little bit of biology. Sometimes they aren't born, they just appear in devastated areas. Orcs are cannibals and the ones who eat adventurers are especially hardcore. There's a subtext that orcs are a supernatural menace that it's 100% okay to kill, and if you want orcs who are actually people, that's what half-orcs are for. (Remember, half-orcs aren't crossbreeds - they are children of two human or two orc parents who've been magically or culturally influenced by the other species.)

Orcs come in two basic sorts: low-level one-off soldiers, at level 1 and 2, and high-level filler mooks for epic fights. Orc ragers are level 7 mooks, and the Great Fang Cadre - the aforementioned killer canibal orcs - are level 10 mooks. Both high level and low level orcs share the same gimmick: as long as they (or their mook pack) is over half health, their crit range is expanded by 3. The 4e orc gimmick of orcs getting a free attack when they die is a special ability of the level 7 mooks, but other orcs don't get it.

Otyughs actually get an illustration that gives you an idea of what they are: a chompy trash monster with a bunch of feeler tentacles. They grab you with tentacles and bite someone they have grabbed. (Remember, being grabbed in 13A mostly just means you're stuck in melee and it's a bit harder to escape.) It's not an especially complicated monster.

Owlbears are owls who are also bears. They're boring melee bruisers that get a second attack on even-numbered turns. However, if they get a crit, they rip off a limb and attempt to run away with it.. This is incredibly goofy and divisive, and how I first heard about 13th Age. A large part of why this is goofy is that there aren't any codified rules for growing back a severed limb, and the sidebar suggests that you could improvise with a cleric's healing ritual or buy 13 True Ways to get the druid class. I don't mind the owlbear tearing off limbs, but the sidebar is a grade A fuckup: 13 True Ways just says that druids can also perform rituals to heal severed limbs. All they had to do was reassure players that a ritual can indeed regenerate an arm; all this "maybe clerics, but definitely druids" nonsense is an obnoxious gimmick that feels like it's meant to sell books.

Phase spiders are teleporting spiders from another dimension, a recurring monster from previous editions of D&D. 13th Age repurposes them as the Obligatory Monster That Fucks With Your Stuff. They have a triggered attack that can steal magic items, and if the fight goes on too long, a phase spider that has successfully stolen a magic item can teleport away back to its lair with the item(s) it stole. There's a sidebar about how this was necessary to make the monster interesting and how to avoid being a dick as a GM, but does anyone remember the Obligatory Monster That Fucks With Your Stuff fondly in any game ever?

Rakshasas again, don't get a good description. They have tiger faces, some sort of claws, and are "entirely evil shapeshifters" that can "change its form to that of any humanoid, or back to its own shape." What is its own shape? :iiam: For all of the talk about their vaguely-described plots, they're just mildly tricky spellcasters that could easily be reskinned to be anything you want.

Sahuagin are demon-summoning evil fish people. They have a kind of neat interaction where their crits increase the escalation die (benefiting the party), but they in turn they themselves can make use of the escalation die under half health. Again, the description here is so deficient that it doesn't even mention that they're humanoid and not, say, fish with arms or something.

Skeletons are low-level troops and mooks that resist the poo poo out of weapon damage. They come in various skeleton soldier forms, ranging from level 1 mooks to level 4 elite warriors. There's a minor skeleton theme, with the elite warriors and the skeletal hounds, of screwing with initiative and punishing enemies with lower initiative. The skeletal hound also borrows the zombie gimmick of doing extra damage at the cost of taking extra damage because it's falling apart.

Troglodytes are lizardmen who stink. Hopefully you already know they look like lizard people, because this description forgets to mention it entirely. That stink gives a penalty between -1 and -4 to hit, on top of the trogs own chameleon skin that gives another -4 to hit for ranged attacks in their usual environments. You can eventually save against the stink penalty, but a -7-ish to hit is pretty punishing! Luckily, that's really all they do, and their damage is fairly low compared to similar level 2-3 evil humanoids. Trogs also come in level 8 mook form, although there's a shortage of appropriate masters for them at that level.

Trolls are mundane bruisers who heal every turn that they aren't hit with fire or acid. They aren't unkillable without their weakness, nor are they especially fearsome melee combatants either way.

Vampires come in two varieties: a level 10 boss monster clearly meant to evoke Dracula, and level 6 generic dudes and level 10 mooks who are clearly footsoldiers meant to be mowed down Buffy-style. Both the grunt and boss vampires apply debuffs with their attacks, based on different roll triggers, but those differences are largely level-based and cosmetic. The boss vampire - annoyingly just named "vampire" - has a life-draining touch that targets PD instead of AC. It's the traditional D&D vampire life drain touch, but rather than draining levels, it drains uses of daily abilities. There's also some talk about "how do you truly kill a vampire," with a grab-bag of random ideas.

I hope you already know what a Wight is because beyond telling you it's an undead creature, 13th Age offers no detail whatsoever. They're undead, intelligent, and have a life-draining sword. The rest is up to your imagination.

Wraiths are screaming ghosts who also have a sword, but they teleport around and can fly through things. They also resist basically every sort of attack, although you can certainly just beat them to re-death at half damage, due to their low HP.

Wyverns are another lovely spoiler monster. They have the same problem as the hill giant: the chart says a single level 5 large creature an appropriate challenge for a party of third-level characters. A wyvern can't be intercepted because it flies, and does 35 damage with its basic bite attack. Coincidentally a third-level rogue, sorcerer, or wizard with 12 CON - or any non-fighter/paladin PC with 10 CON - has 35 HP. (Even a 18 CON fighter or paladin only has 60 HP at that level.) It can also sometimes sting with its tail instead of biting, but since the average damage it will deal between the sting and the poison is about 35-38 (it's an ongoing poison effect with hard saves), there's no real reason for a wyvern not to just bite instead. This is less overall damage potential than the bulette, which is also level 5 large, but a wyvern can just bite the head off of whoever it wants, whenever it wants.

Zombies are dumb slow zombies, and there's a hint here that a zombie plague happened one time. (I forget where it was detailed, but a zombie plague caused by the Diabolist ended the 12th age.) Zombies are falling apart, so they sometimes do extra damage but also do that damage to themselves, and they're susceptible to crits, which autokill single zombies and do triple damage to mook packs. Zombies come as level 1 mooks and level 2 singletons, and level 4 large singletons and level 9 large mooks (which count as two mooks).

Filling in the gaps

This monster list feels incomplete when you go to assemble an encounter. I suppose it can't be helped, due to space considerations, but champion tier is especially bad. There are three normal-strength level 6 monsters, for example, and two of them are debuff-focused "spoilers" (vampire spawn and vrocks) and one of them is the medium red dragon. There are no mooks between level 3 and level 7.

For a game so heavily focused on the icons, there wasn't a lot of consideration given for building encounters from 1-10 out of the box for half of the villains. The Diabolist and Three are well-served: there are a lot of different kinds of demons and dragons, and enough filler servants to cover any gaps. On the other hand, a campaign focused on the Orc Lord or Crusader is spoiled for evil humanoids from levels 1-4, but left scrambling looking for soldiers after that. You're going to be reskinning the Gargoyle, Frenzy Demon, Half-Orc Tribal Champion, and the demon bug human archer for something like a third of your campaign. The Lich King has the opposite problem: while there are plenty of undead grunts - champion tier still has a gap, although vampire spawn pick up some slack - there's no necromancers or liches, and only the blackamber skeletons (level 4), wights (level 5), and vampires (level 10) for tricky melee undead. There's no reason you can't reskin some of the various spellcaster enemies, but those spellcaster enemies - the drider, medusa, and rakshasa in particular - don't have any obvious uses except as weird singletons or monsters that exist specifically to be retooled into whatever villain you need.

I'm not going to pretend to have looked closely enough at 13 True Ways or 13th Age Bestiary to tell you if they help with this problem. Pelgrane has a comprehensive list of monsters by level, if you're curious what's in those books.

You can homebrew to cover the gaps. You'll need to. There's two basic approaches. The first, and my preferred plan, is to reskin and remix existing monsters. Look at the monsters as vague lumps of stats of a given level, and figure out which ones can easily be remolded into whatever you need. The relative simplicity of 13th Age monsters makes this even easier than 4e, and worlds easier than 3e, 5e, or Pathfinder. There's some decent advice for single level adjustments and potentially problematic abilities in the rules for brewing up your own monsters from scratch.

However. If you try to use the tables for brewing monsters from scratch - especially at levels 5-7, where the monster list is weakest - you will make absolute murderers. All of the advice is focused on adjusting existing monsters. There are two pages of numbers for making your own monsters from scratch, but they are a trap. Simply using them as-is, especially at champion tier, won't work at all. Monsters that do average damage all the time, as one big package of damage, are the deadliest sort of monsters in 13A. There's no advice for turning the listed average damage into a stat line more like a lizardman's than a hill giant's. As a result, those charts are helpful as benchmarks, but there just isn't room in this book for comprehensive, useful advice.

Next: Something rotten in the state

Cease to Hope fucked around with this message at 13:54 on May 1, 2017

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Cease to Hope posted:

Even mainline D&D and Pathfinder indulge in these, and it's refreshing to see 13th Age drop that unnecessary baggage in the same trash can that the "slovenly trull" tables went into.

This was something I once had fun with in a homebrew setting. Sirens were established as living and nesting in extremely rocky, dangerous stretches of water and are known for their alluring songs. Evil mermaid types, right? Nah, just oceanic manatees and as doofy, playful, and harmless as their real life counterparts, and much beloved by sailors for warning ships away from dangerous areas of water.

Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.
Fallen Rib
I recently converted a setting from 13th Age to Savage Worlds. Mostly, this wasn't too difficult, though turning class abilities into edges, spells and the like was tricky. Then there was the bestiary. This was actually fun! I like making monsters for Savage Worlds. And there weren't really that many things in it.

Once I finished that, I went to the final step in the conversion process: The adventure path/plot point campaign. Hoo boy. Not gonna go too into it, but one big difficulty I had was that 13th Age has most of the iconic D&D monsters, while Savage Worlds, being a generalist system... doesn't. So I had to repeatedly run back to the Bestiary and add in Sahaugin, and Weretigers, and so on and so forth.

Finally, one adventure said to use Vrocks for the inhabitants of a flying island. I made birdpeople I named Awks. The quote for their statblock is "Scraaawww!" I'm not sorry in the slightest.

Jan 30, 2012

Really Madcats

I'm not planning to do a full write up of any games, but I'm going back to an old project which was to create characters for every game I own, which will also include a brief overview of the game in question; I've just completed the write up for Crypts and Things.

(image is linked from my own domain)

Crypts and things is a retro-clone based on Swords and Wizardry, with a strong Swords and Sorcery, doomed world, weird fantasy theme. Unlike a lot of other OSR games with the same themes it stays away from inappropriately creepy fetish fuel – the worst I can find is a personality type for henchmen is “Pervert – A depraved excuse of a human being”, and one evil sorcerer who it mentions degrades his apprentices in especially humiliating ways. Crucially that’s about all the detail it goes into, and the GM advice chapter specifically states that you should respect your player’s comfort levels.

The system is based on D&D with a few tweaks – for example, the plethora of saves are replaced by a Fighting Fantasy style Luck stat, which can also be tested for other effects such as doing maximum damage on an attack, not losing a spell after you’ve cast it, or just happening to have a useful bit of equipment with you.

Characters in Crypts and Things are a bit tougher than their D&D equivalents – HP represent superficial damage, and once a character is down to 0 HP they have a penalty to Attack Rolls and Skill Tests; further damage is taken against their Constitution with a Luck test required to stay conscious after each blow (or optionally a roll on the Dangerous Wounds table with results ranging from Winded to Heroic Impalement – take one point more damage and get a free attack against your attacker.) Once per day a C&T character can restore 1d4 HP by having a stiff drink.

There are no Clerics; healing magic is the domain of Sorcerers instead. Magic is divided into White, Grey and Black magic. Of the three, only Grey Magic is mostly safe to cast, White magic can draw the attention of nearby Undead or Others (malevolent entities from outside the world), and Black Magic causes corruption.

Combat is mostly free form, notable rules are that anyone can Back stab, you generally can’t decide who to hit if you’re firing into melee, Initiative is round to round rather than per engagement, and spells are declared before Initiative is rolled.

The world of C&T hits all the standard Sword and Sorcery tropes – jungles full of Snake-Men, Ice wastes, decadent empires, pirate ports, ruins of past civilisations all over the place and so on. Some of the location names are a bit on the nose – Death Wind Steppe or the Terror Lizard Run, anyone?

On the whole there’s enough interesting stuff that it’s not a total write-off, and the write-ups both have a sense of enthusiasm about them and are useful for gaming purposes. Most locations are given a brief overview, a couple of adventure hooks and an encounter table. Port Blackmire is an exception – a pirate and demon controlled city detailed at the District and Landmark level, which feels quite inspired by Fighting Fantasy’s Port Blacksand. (The Fighting Fantasy series and 80s UK fantasy gets a callout in the inspirations section, and I can definitely see a lot of the influences.)
Character Creation

The Core classes are Barbarian, Fighter, Thief and Sorcerer. Optional classes are Beast Hybrid (descendants of people experimented on by Serpent Men, with the ability to shift into a bestial form), Disciples (Your fantasy warrior monk), Elementalists (Followers of the four elemental lords), Lizard People (One of the last surviving Elder races, relatively peaceful), Serpent Noble (A Serpent Man noble who can take human form). It’s up to the GM whether they want to allow players to pick anything except the Core classes.

C&T uses the standard six ability scores – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma. The Implication is 3d6 down the line, so that’s what we’ll do.


14, 10, 10, 16, 12, 10

The character would be reasonable as either a Fighter, Sorcerer or Elementalist. I’m going to skip ahead to the Life Events section and make my choice based on what I roll there.

The character originates on the Reapers Sea, giving them a +1 to Strength or Dexterity, and was born into the family of a Captain, gaining +1 Intelligence. We’re going to put that +1 in Strength, and then become a Sorcerer. A roll on the Sorcerer Life event gives me ‘Ship wrecked on the isle of skulls’, which grants me Curse, Magic Missile and Wailing Lament as bonus starting spells.


Strength 15 – +1 to hit and Damage
Dexterity 10
Constitution 10
Intelligence 17 – 50% chance to understand language, Maximum spell level 6, 5% bonus XP
Wisdom 12 - a 13 here would have given me another 5% bonus xp
Charisma 10 – 40% charm, 4 henchmen limit, as with Wisdom, a 13 here would be good for a final 5% bonus xp
Luck is generated on 1d6+6


Luck 11
Skill is a flat value based on level, with your class and some backgrounds giving you a bonus in specific circumstances.


Skill 15
Sanity starts equal to your Wisdom score.


Sanity 12

A level 1 Sorcerer has 6 HP, can memorise 1 spell, and starts knowing three first level and one second level spell. They also get a +3 bonus to Skill checks related to Reading Arcane languages, and detecting magic in the area.

You can select spells from any of the three colours of magic, in this case I go for Sleep, Divination, Cure Light Wounds, and Bless

You start with 3d6 x 10 gold to spend on equipment, with an equipment list straight out of D&D. I’ve rolled 110 gold and spend it on Leather Armour, a Scimitar (there'll be a one point penalty to damage which is offset by the Strength score), 2 daggers, a Backpack, Bedroll, Fishing net, grappling hook, 50’ of silk rope, a hooded lantern, 10 pints of oil, a tent, a waterskin, 7 days of dried rations, A heavy crossbow, and 20 bolts.

We’re also going to generate a Henchman to accompany our Sorcerer on their first adventure.

Henchmen are rolled on 5 tables to determine their Speciality, Personality, how they want paying, how they’ll take revenge if they don’t get paid and how they’re armed.


Skill: Performer; Personality: Pervert; Want: Revenge – they want someone killed or harmed in exchange for the work; Revenge: Backstab; Weapon: Shortbow and dagger

Henchmen all have the same stats which may be adjusted by their Speciality. In this case our rather horrible bowman has AC 12 (leather Armour), a d8 HD, Move 12, Attack 1, Damage 1d6 or 1d4.

Each character can potentially have a Companion – an NPC friend, someone who actually likes the character and can be trusted. Some life path events give you companion, and NPCs that you befriend in play might become one. Companions have stats that increase as you level and a cut down version of a class’s abilities. They controlled by the player. The downside is that if they die your character may take a sanity hit and will spend some time in mourning.
Are people interested in seeing more of these quick looks with a focus on character generation?

I'm also planning to, where there is a sample adventure included, run the characters through it, but that feels very outside the scope of this thread.

Angrymog fucked around with this message at 14:37 on May 2, 2017

Sep 15, 2013

No static at all...

Angrymog posted:

wide words

Hey, bud, can you reformat this please? The code blocks don't wrap lines so much.

No harm done -- thank you so much!

ZorajitZorajit fucked around with this message at 15:38 on May 2, 2017

Jan 30, 2012

Really Madcats

ZorajitZorajit posted:

Hey, bud, can you reformat this please? The code blocks hate don't wrap lines so much.

Didn't realise, sorry.

Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.
Fallen Rib
Thanks, Angrymog. Also, enjoying your review.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
Crypts & Things falls at the right point on the spectrum for me where it adds enough to White Box D&D to be interesting, but the mechanics don't feel random, finicky, and tacked-on.

Anyone familiar with Barbarians of Lemuria? It was a RPGnet Darling for awhile, but I found it to be a very bare-bones game that solved the "fighter vs. wizard" issue by just pulling out all the wizard stuff. So you're just rolling to hit, or rolling to succeed at a combat stunt like flipping a table or swinging from a chandelier. (And lo and behold, when they introduced alchemists as an optional class, it got options that baseline warrior characters don't get.) It seems like it was made in a period where people wanted to do "low fantasy" but hadn't come up with mechanics to make a game interesting without feat-like abilities or magical powers.

Jan 30, 2012

Really Madcats

Halloween Jack posted:

Crypts & Things falls at the right point on the spectrum for me where it adds enough to White Box D&D to be interesting, but the mechanics don't feel random, finicky, and tacked-on.

Anyone familiar with Barbarians of Lemuria? It was a RPGnet Darling for awhile, but I found it to be a very bare-bones game that solved the "fighter vs. wizard" issue by just pulling out all the wizard stuff. So you're just rolling to hit, or rolling to succeed at a combat stunt like flipping a table or swinging from a chandelier. (And lo and behold, when they introduced alchemists as an optional class, it got options that baseline warrior characters don't get.) It seems like it was made in a period where people wanted to do "low fantasy" but hadn't come up with mechanics to make a game interesting without feat-like abilities or magical powers.

Played a short PbP of it once - was okay, but nothing special? The characters were all pretty distinct, but the system itself wasn't very interesting.

Nov 4, 2007

zamtrios so lonely
Grimey Drawer
I only just now managed to catch up on F&F thread. Juicer Uprising was the first book of the Rifts line I didn't buy when it came out (I think I might have skipped Index & Adventures too but I am not sure I ever even saw that one in store) partly because I was moving away to college and losing my group that would sometimes play Rifts, or at least attempt it, and partly because Juicer Uprising? Really? There are enough Juicers to form an uprising? In the core book they were just drug-addled mercs with one decent ability and didn't seem nearly interesting enough to devote that much space to--the Juicer sports and such are kind of interesting, and expanding on some of the various 'kingdoms' around the CS was alright, though of course then we get more Coalition-wanking later. This is new ground in the line for me though so keep going ARB.

I'm also glad someone is doing Atlantis--I like the setting for trying to do a sword & sorcery world that jettisons some of the problematic aspects of 'traditional' S&S and also goes for different source material instead of trying to ram in Tolkien standbys in loincloths. They also have a great name for the monster manual--The Theragraphica, though the magenta title font on the book cover is...unfortunate.

I also kickstarted the Atlantis main book and I got the shipping notice, but didn't get any package for over a week--because of my dumbass sister. I had contacted Jerry Grayson by this point and he just sent me a replacement, no questions asked, so that when dumbass sister remembered she had my package I had two copies. I sent one back with a note and an apology since that wasn't his fault. The KS fulfillment was pretty solid as well, minimal delays and pretty clear timeline.

Sep 12, 2006

✨sparkle and shine✨

JackMann posted:

Thanks, Angrymog. Also, enjoying your review.

Same! I love character creation mechanics, more more more!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

occamsnailfile posted:

I only just now managed to catch up on F&F thread. Juicer Uprising was the first book of the Rifts line I didn't buy when it came out (I think I might have skipped Index & Adventures too but I am not sure I ever even saw that one in store) partly because I was moving away to college and losing my group that would sometimes play Rifts, or at least attempt it, and partly because Juicer Uprising? Really? There are enough Juicers to form an uprising? In the core book they were just drug-addled mercs with one decent ability and didn't seem nearly interesting enough to devote that much space to--the Juicer sports and such are kind of interesting, and expanding on some of the various 'kingdoms' around the CS was alright, though of course then we get more Coalition-wanking later. This is new ground in the line for me though so keep going ARB.

Thanks! Yeah, the Juicer focus is weird, it never felt like there should be that many if for no other reason that every Juicer only has a six-year time window before either detoxing or becoming a Tom Savini effect. Kingsdale feels like a really solid "hub city" that the Rifts line just hasn't had until this point in North America, and I appreciated it. The only other place with decent cosmopolitan places are like... South America or Tritonia or... well, other poo poo Carella wrote, because I guess he realized that maybe there should be some place worth fighting for instead of what was largely a collection of shitholes of varying monstrosity and human supremacist enclaves and weird niche communities. I mean, Jungle Elves seem like okay people, I'm just not into making my underwear out of leaves and considering a wristwatch to be a mortal sin.

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Thanks! Yeah, the Juicer focus is weird, it never felt like there should be that many if for no other reason that every Juicer only has a six-year time window before either detoxing or becoming a Tom Savini effect. Kingsdale feels like a really solid "hub city" that the Rifts line just hasn't had until this point in North America, and I appreciated it. The only other place with decent cosmopolitan places are like... South America or Tritonia or... well, other poo poo Carella wrote, because I guess he realized that maybe there should be some place worth fighting for instead of what was largely a collection of shitholes of varying monstrosity and human supremacist enclaves and weird niche communities. I mean, Jungle Elves seem like okay people, I'm just not into making my underwear out of leaves and considering a wristwatch to be a mortal sin.

I used Los Alamos as the center of my Rifts campaign. It was just close enough to the Coalition but also to interesting bits like Pecos Empire that it gave the players some freedom to move around and get used to things.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Halloween Jack posted:

Anyone familiar with Barbarians of Lemuria? It was a RPGnet Darling for awhile, but I found it to be a very bare-bones game that solved the "fighter vs. wizard" issue by just pulling out all the wizard stuff. So you're just rolling to hit, or rolling to succeed at a combat stunt like flipping a table or swinging from a chandelier. (And lo and behold, when they introduced alchemists as an optional class, it got options that baseline warrior characters don't get.) It seems like it was made in a period where people wanted to do "low fantasy" but hadn't come up with mechanics to make a game interesting without feat-like abilities or magical powers.

Yeah that's kind of what happens if you remove spellcasting from a D&D-esque game without also giving the Fighters cool stuff and rationalized mechanics to play with: it becomes a game of "just" rolling a d20 against a target number with no control over it, or a game of "mother-may-I" where you try to pull off cool stunts by negotiating with the DM on the Art of the Possible and rolling a skill check against that before rolling to attack.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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



The Purified are one of the rarest forms of Immortal due to all of the steps it takes to become Purified. In short, Purified are people who have managed to turn themselves into spirits of themselves. This is done by binding themselves to the Shadow Realm. The risks are high and quite honestly there are some extreme problems that stem from doing this, but the rewards are pretty drat great.

The easiest but most unreliable way to become Purified is to spend months to years meditating and studying various forms of mysticism and magic. Then you have to manage to pass through a Locus into the Shadow Realm and die inside, probably by killing yourself. If successful, your dead body gets spit out back into the mortal world and your mind and soul will take a few days to return. Congrats, you’re Purified! There are a hundred ways this can go wrong and result in you simply dying: being slightly off target from the Locus, not studying properly, not killing yourself fast enough, etc.

The more common (and safer ways) to get Purified are either the Inner Path or the Outer Path. The Inner Path is like dying in the Shadow but…well, not. You meditate, you study, you prepare. Then an assistant or group of assistants prepares your body while you’re dying or about to die. Once you’re dead, they paint your body, dress you and place it on a Locus while praying/meditating until the next morning. The fact that you’re dying in the real world means that it’s drawing your spirit back to the Locus and into your body. The Outer Path is faster and requires much less chanting. In a nutshell, you have to spend months to years brewing an elixir that is a deadly poison. If you chug it and it works, you die within 10-15 minutes or so and then your body doesn’t need a Locus to draw your spirit back in.

So Now You’re Purified: What Does This Mean?

Congrats, the potion/prayer worked! Your body is going to be almost essentially dead for a while with a minimal heartbeat, but fortunately you don’t need food or water while your spirit reforms properly. Your mind takes a minimum of three days to return to your body, but it could take longer. Once your mind comes home, your body is permanently healthy and in your mid-20s no matter how old you were. You heal quickly and no longer age and can shoot your soul out at win to gather Essence to power your powers. Also, spoiler, you’re kind of like a Sin-Eater but a lot more mechanically stable and with a more stable mythology behind you.

So what happens if you die? Well your mind gets punted out of your body back into the Shadow and you have to spend Essence to fix the wounds to your body as long as you hang out by a Locus to regain Essence. This counts even if your body is destroyed. However, the Purified is at their weakest when they’re out of their body. Other Spirits can actually prey on the Purified’s spirit-mind and destroy it. The spirit-mind can actually regenerate and reform that, but ultimately they need to at least have 1 point of Essence. If the spirit-mind is drained of Essence and the spirit-mind is also destroyed while out of the body, that’s it, you’re dead for good. You can survive anything less. So that’s pretty great!

History/Society of the Purified

Great topic. I don’t know. Generally speaking, there is no real history to the Purified, just rumors. There are still some that are at least 2000 years old, but nobody can prove that they’re older than 3000. On the older end of things, you have Purified who knew shamans of the BC world. On the slightly more recent side of things, more concrete (read: written) evidence of Purification rituals stems back to two main countries: Egypt and China. Egypt focused more on the external form of the ritual with an emphasis on magic and rites while Chinese Purification stems from Taoist alchemy. In modern times, Purified come from wherever as long as they can find out about Purification. This can be in the form of a book or a spirit but the most common source is a mentor.

Mentorship is very popular amongst the Purified for a few big reasons. First, Purified have a little bit of a gatekeeper complex when it comes to new Purified. They know they're going to have to spend eternity in a shared society, so they're kind of selective in that regard. Second, the ritual has a failure rate of one in six and they want to make sure that the prospective Purified knows they're running the risk of ritualized suicide. But those are Purified mentors. Want a sweet deal and know nothing about the truth of the Shadow? Pick a spirit as a mentor! Sometimes this is a beneficial relationship for both parties. Most of the time the Purified really does not understand the true nature of spirits and spirit politics. These spirits turn Purified into pawns for their deeper games, giving them perfect knowledge of the ritual to keep them in debt. The spirits who do this tend to pick people for no apparent reason and generally pick pawns who have no knowledge of the supernatural and the Shadow. Spirits are generally assholes.

As a whole, the Purified don't really have a big society. The younger Purified generally think that the older have spent too much time in the Shadow and have become inhuman beings, their minds devoured by the spirits they go amongst. That's pretty much it. The average Purified knows up to a dozen more at a time. Really popular Purified know a couple dozen. The big problem is that up until now, it was hard to find other Purified. You meet someone 600 years ago, your best shot is to either shake the tree of other Purified you know regularly or you just hang out where you last met them. Other than that your options are cryptic ads or hanging out in mortal form in the Shadow to see who can tell you're Purified. You really shouldn't do the latter because the spirits might want to chomp on you and sometimes there are just normal mortals who get lost in the Shadow or are magicians or are werewolves who are very confused/angry at your presence. In that same vein, Purified often don't know who has what alliances with which spirits and this can lead to conflicts.


are something Purified run into a lot. They bury friends and what little relatives they have left and sometimes ghosts remains. Because the Purified don't really truck with the Underworld, they might know a few ghosts but not really run into them. Some Purified are fine with ghosts because hey, they're immortal companions in their own way. And in turn some ghosts resent Purified for being immortal and fleshy. It's a complicated relationship.

Vampires don't care. You don't get Vitae from Purified and they can't be made Ghouls or made easily controlled. However, sometimes they're used as information brokers or spies. Because Purified don't care about vampire politics, on rare occasions elder Vampires will hire Purified to watch their assets while they take a torpor.

Werewolves have a real big problem with Purified. As supernatural border cops, you kind of don't want people actively turning themselves into spirits of themselves for immortality (especially if said immortals have no idea what they're loving with). The main thing that informs Werewolf relationships with a singular Purified is their relationship with spirits. A pawn is someone you can't trust and should be dealt with. One who knows what's up can be a valuable ally in the fight against Shadow incursions. Sometimes Purified join Werewolf packs (albeit in spirit) especially if they used to be wolf-blooded before their Purification. All in all, it depends, but the general view a Werewolf has towards the Purified is "I don't trust them".

Mages don't have much to do with the Purified or vice-versa. On the side of Mages, what the hell is a Purified? On the side of the Purified, they might know a bit about Mages and they know enough to fear them. The fact that the Mages can do spooky voodoo poo poo to them without even trying makes them worth avoiding. The Purified who are more in the know understand the existence of the Abyss and know that the Mages might gently caress around with the Abyss. This is more of a reason Purified avoid Mages.

Other supernaturals don't get a write-up and frankly there's only one group I think needs a comparison: Sin Eaters.


Alright so. Geist and Purified. This book came out May 2009. Geist came out in August 2009. There is no doubt in my mind that there wasn't some parallel development between these two products and the Purified weren't made out of some ideas that didn't really get into Geist. Purified deal with the Shadow, Sin Eaters deal with the Underworld. Both get a power stat and both get powers that involve the dead and all of that jazz. So why am I comparing the Purified and Sin Eaters?

To put it bluntly, Purified have less powers but are more solidly built. They have a tighter focus and the general lack of background info kind of works for them because they're a lower tier of supernatural being. They're less outright busted than a properly statted Sin Eater but as a whole they just...feel better on a mechanical level despite having a tighter spread of general abilities. This is despite they can still phase through walls and teleport and do stuff like banish ghosts/spirits reliably. They also get the ability to do the same things ghosts do! Anyway it's late and I'm tired and I don't want to kick Sin Eaters over and over forever but I like Purified and I think they're neat and I think I'm done for now.

NEXT TIME: Making Purified characters, Purified mechanics.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

gradenko_2000 posted:

Yeah that's kind of what happens if you remove spellcasting from a D&D-esque game without also giving the Fighters cool stuff and rationalized mechanics to play with: it becomes a game of "just" rolling a d20 against a target number with no control over it, or a game of "mother-may-I" where you try to pull off cool stunts by negotiating with the DM on the Art of the Possible and rolling a skill check against that before rolling to attack.
I think it earned a lot of goodwill strictly due to timing--people were weary of all the D20 shovelware, including several attempts to cram pulp sword-and-sorcery into the 3e mold.

I feel weird ragging on it, though. It always feels weird to criticize a mechanically bland game for all the stuff that's not there.

Jul 19, 2012

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

Hostile V posted:

Werewolves have a real big problem with Purified. As supernatural border cops, you kind of don't want people actively turning themselves into spirits of themselves for immortality (especially if said immortals have no idea what they're loving with). The main thing that informs Werewolf relationships with a singular Purified is their relationship with spirits. A pawn is someone you can't trust and should be dealt with. One who knows what's up can be a valuable ally in the fight against Shadow incursions. Sometimes Purified join Werewolf packs (albeit in spirit) especially if they used to be wolf-blooded before their Purification. All in all, it depends, but the general view a Werewolf has towards the Purified is "I don't trust them".

1st edition werewolf would probably lean towards the "Okay i'm going to kill you now, Abomination." Whereas 2nd edition werewolf would lean more towards "Huh, okay, that's... interesting, are you actively loving up the locus when you do this? No? Great."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

With the standard caveats for 'is this causing problems for me and how territorial am I?'

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
By the way, is there some ostensible mythological/literary/cinematic basis for Purified? I know I've seen some media where someone is a ghost, but nonetheless has a physical body and can do people stuff all the time, though I'm having trouble recalling examples at the moment. In fact, the best one I can think of is Moon Knight.

Jul 19, 2012

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

Mors Rattus posted:

With the standard caveats for 'is this causing problems for me and how territorial am I?'

And the special Bone Shadow only option of "How can I use you, no like literally use you, I'm trying to figure out if you'd make a kickass sword or if I should bind you to the Locus to keep other people away."

Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Halloween Jack posted:

By the way, is there some ostensible mythological/literary/cinematic basis for Purified? I know I've seen some media where someone is a ghost, but nonetheless has a physical body and can do people stuff all the time, though I'm having trouble recalling examples at the moment. In fact, the best one I can think of is Moon Knight.

Barring the Shadow mechanics, being a Purified is straight elixir of immortality stuff, which was an obsession of medieval types with too much money and not enough sense for thousands of years.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Or ultimately how the first emperor of china ended up dying - lot of ingredients in those elixirs are pretty loving toxic.

Dec 10, 2007


Halloween Jack posted:

By the way, is there some ostensible mythological/literary/cinematic basis for Purified? I know I've seen some media where someone is a ghost, but nonetheless has a physical body and can do people stuff all the time, though I'm having trouble recalling examples at the moment. In fact, the best one I can think of is Moon Knight.

I think Shi Huang Ti, the first emperor of China, died from messing with immortality drugs, so they are a thing.


Feb 13, 2012

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

wiegieman posted:

Barring the Shadow mechanics, being a Purified is straight elixir of immortality stuff, which was an obsession of medieval types with too much money and not enough sense for thousands of years.

It still is.

Just look at shitheads like Peter Thiel thinking they can make themselves young by blood transfusion from young, healthy people so they can live long enough to get an immortal robot body, which is obviously coming any minute now.

Or the entire Cryonics industry.

Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

What's the saying, that everyone who believes immortality will be invented is also convinced it will be available when they personally are 60?

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
Where does Self/less fit into the Immortals spectrum?


Nov 26, 2008

Lipstick Apathy

Robindaybird posted:

Or ultimately how the first emperor of china ended up dying - lot of ingredients in those elixirs are pretty loving toxic.

SirPhoebos posted:

I think Shi Huang Ti, the first emperor of China, died from messing with immortality drugs, so they are a thing.


He is believed to have died from regularly consuming mercury pills in his quest for immorality. His tomb is also believed to be loaded with mercury due to historical chronicles of it and soil samples taken from the site.

An ancient origin myth for Japan popular in Ancient China was that it was founded by Chinese sailors who were sent on the quest to find a source of immortality for Qin Shi Huang and settled there because gently caress going back empty handed.

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