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By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!


Did anyone try to resurrect it on the PBTA system? I'm thinking that's the best way to get characters to make interesting choices without forcing a corruption score.

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JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.
Fallen Rib
Nocturne (a 13th Age setting) is... kind of an attempt. It's very strongly inspired by Ravenloft, but the tone is much more "Punch Dracula" than "gothic horror."

Mind you, I say this as someone who loves Punch Dracula, and is working on the official Savage Worlds version of Nocturne.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

In many ways, actual horror is very difficult in tabletop games. A lot of horror is atmospheric, and frankly it is loving hard to generate that atmosphere from narration, unaided by visuals or audio - and especially so when, unlike a book, you don't have total narrative control. The players will often be trying to do their best to win encounters, and in doing so will often intellectualize what's going on, which moves you further from horror, especially in a math-heavy style of game, where it instead becomes a set of tactical and/or numbers puzzles rather than horror. Trying to evoke the feeling of gothic horror is possible - but it is very hard, and require the mechanics to work to reinforce the themes in such a way that normal play will itself generate the feelings you want to evoke as part of solving the puzzle.

Dread, IMO, is probably the best at this because now your success and failure hangs on a literal, physical element which is more gut-churning than dicerolls.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
I've felt, for a very long time, that level-draining undead and bang-you're-dead poison effects like wyvern venom were really intended to scare players rather than PCs. Vampires are scary, not because Dracula is a sexy foreigner with plans on your daughters, but because he could erase adventures' worth of XP just by giving you a homoerotic grope.

The 2E Ravenloft box has pages on when and how to use the clunky fear rules. One of the first examples is some dude creeping on a bathing girl, watching her take her clothes off, then having to make a fear check when she takes her head off afterward. A page later there's an admonition to ignore the shrugs of 'A 20th-century, popcorn-munching player' and dictate his character's responses... and then a suggestion to force fear or horror checks if something you've described makes a player gasp. Meanwhile, these are characters that might have seen a companion dissolved by a gelatinous cube or devoured by kobolds on their first foray. They live in a world that's already loaded with weird and unnatural poo poo.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

Mors Rattus posted:

In many ways, actual horror is very difficult in tabletop games. A lot of horror is atmospheric, and frankly it is loving hard to generate that atmosphere from narration, unaided by visuals or audio - and especially so when, unlike a book, you don't have total narrative control. The players will often be trying to do their best to win encounters, and in doing so will often intellectualize what's going on, which moves you further from horror, especially in a math-heavy style of game, where it instead becomes a set of tactical and/or numbers puzzles rather than horror.
I have this problem with both tabletop and horror video games: Horror games often rely on taking control away from the player, giving them few to no options to deal with problems, etc. But games without interactivity aren't games, and I always want at least a few bells and whistles to play with from a tactical standpoint. It doesn't need to be 4e, but I find combat in classic horror video games like the Silent Hill and early Resident Evil games is not so much frightening as it is a cumbersome chore. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is unplayably lovely try-and-die gameplay with dogfuckingly stupid combat.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
For all that I make fun of the terrible D&D Gypsies, I wouldn't have bought the entire 3.x line if I didn't love the setting in some way. Speaking of which!



Falkovnia
Falkovnia isn't a very nice place. Aside from the dark woods filled with vicious predators and unspeakable horrors, the realm is suffering under the military dictatorship of the mercenary-king Vlad Drakov. Population 64300 (Humans 93%, Halflings 2%, Half-Elves 2%, Gnomes 1%, Elves 1%). The members of the population not part of the military live in filthy conditions, leading to a huge disease problem. They are branded at birth with the seal of the king, marking them as his property. The military rules every aspect of the realm with brutal efficiency. The non-humans have it even worse: they are considered subhuman and treated as chattel slave. The state even encourages "breeding out" the nonhuman taint, though children with only one human parent are also seized by the state. Aside from being a sadistic tyrant (rumor goes that he accompanies his evening meals with execution by impalement), he's also a would-be conqueror. He has attempted to conquer all of his neighboring kingdoms, and failed disastrously every time. This only enrage shim further.

Forlorn
Forlorn is an empty land from which humanity has been driven out. It's only population is 1900 Goblyns, although rumors persist of an ancient order of druids hiding in the forests. The Goblyns follow a loose clan system, using tartans to identify each other. Supposedly, creatures more terrifying than the Goblyns haunt the ruined castle above the Lake of Red Tears. SOmetimes, expeditions of lumberjacks and miners try to claim Forlorn's natural resources, but none ever returns.

Hazlan
Hazlan is a realm divided between two ethnicity: the Rashemani are the lower class, making up 99% of the population and horribly oppressed by the Mulan, the higher class. The population of 26100 is mostly human (Humans 92%, Halflings 4%, Gnomes 3%). Hazlan's ruler is Hazlik, who is totally not a red wizard of Thay from Forgotten Realms you guys. He has no official mandate, but had managed to cement his rule anyway. He has organized a council of Mulan governors to oversee the various regions of the realm. Despite the appearance of law, the country runs mostly through a byzantine system of boons and favors. The Rashemani are mostly locked out of this system. For the longest time arcane magic was banned, but Hazlik recently changed his mind and has now set up his own magical academy. The cult of the Lawgiver is especially powerful in the realm.

Invidia
A sparsely populated realm of a mere 6 900 people (99% human), made up of mixed heritage with no clear central ethnic group. Infamous for their passionate personalities, Invidians are known to be quick to anger and to hold grudges. The class system is extremely loose, leading to a growing merchant class. Under the previous ruler, Bakholis, most the villages were independent as the ruler cared more about protecting his hunting rights than ruling the realm. This has changed since Bakholis was assassinated by a witch and a new ruler, Malocchio Aderre, has risen. Malocchio is more brutal than his predecessor and has been more aggressive about ruling his realm. He has formed an army of mercenaries, including some troops lent by Vlad Drakov, through which he enforces his will. He also uses them to pursue his burning hatred for the VIstani, with his mercenaries having orders to kill any Vistani they can find on sight. He has even started sending his mercenaries into other realms, leading to friction with Borca over sovereignty and with Barovia over Count Strahd's protection of the Vistani living there.

Next: we reach the letter K.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Wait, so Not Scotland is entirely made of Horror Goblins?

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Mors Rattus posted:

Wait, so Not Scotland is entirely made of Horror Goblins?

Yes. The survivors fled into Barovia. How exactly this all happened, and who is the Darklord of Forlorn, is not revealed in this book. Gotta buy the supplements!

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!


Oh I remember that one:
the darklord is a dhampir/ghost who switches form painfully at dusk and dawn.
he plays the bagpipes.

Rand Brittain
Mar 25, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."
I can't believe how long it took me to realize that Hazlik was kicked out of Thay for being gay.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!


A lot of the darklords are interesting and would make a great challenge.
Not the Pinocchio rip-off though.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
Forlorn sounds like it would be better if they said nothing about goblin culture at all besides "Here be goblins, and there's a castle with even worse monsters, no one who goes there ever comes back." Especially in a campaign setting that's supposed to be mist-shrouded horror. Ravenloft doesn't benefit from crowding every corner with stuff unless it's just a very sketchy signpost pointing to adventure.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!


Like everything pre 3rd edition Ravenloft has a tendency​ to plan metaplot more than player agency opportunities.
Forlorn kinda sucks for adventures as it's mostly a realm sized dungeon, hardly any friendly NPC's to tell the players just what's going on.
And the Druids are really stretching the definition of 'friendly'
the players may end up exterminate everyone who could have helped and not realise it.

By popular demand fucked around with this message at 21:55 on May 12, 2017

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Ten: "(Editor's Note: Yes, we know spiders have eight legs)."

And yet, given a chance to redesign the art, it still has six.

Coalition IAR-2 Abolisher Robot

It's a reprint of the robot from Rifts Sourcebook, only now with about 15% more M.D.C., an extra gunner station, and some more ammo, because the power creep's just gotta keep on creepin'.


"Next time, make the guns look like it's smoking cigars, that's just unpleasant."

IAR-3 Skull Smasher

So, does it smash skulls, or is a skull that smashes? Maybe if we get high enough we can figure that out. This is the new robotank for the Coalition army, with nearly 1000 M.D.C. To be exact, 990 M.D.C., because Siembieda is allergic to round numbers or something. Also, it's supposed to be able to do spin kicks and fancy martial arts moves because that sounds cool, and gets a special series of combat bonuses because of that.

Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Machine posted:

One legendary combat report recounts how an IAR-3 single-handedly took on an adult Great Horned dragon. In the end, the dragon stood triumphant over the battered robot ó literally torn limb from limb ó but the great beast looked as if it had gone through hell, and respected the valiant men inside enough to spare their lives.

:rolleyes:

So it's got a middling laser cannon, a mouthy particle beam double cannon that does better damage, medium-range and mini missiles. It also get special ramming and flying kick moves as well. The design is a little generic, but it looks like a proper Coalition design to me, at least. Ultimately it suffers a lot from "can take it, but not dish it out".


"Does my gun have enough barrels? I think it could use some more."

IAR-4 Hellraiser

So, this is our cover 'bot, and is supposed to specialize as a "robot killer" that takes out other robot vehicles, mainly due to have a gun that fires an "electronic discharge" that often stuns "unshielded" vehicles and possibly kills their pilot, but:
  • It never details what counts as "shielded".
  • It never details how long the victims are stunned.
  • It doesn't detail what game effect shorting out electronics has.
  • It says it has a 33% chance of accidentally killing the target, but then later says "f the damage exceeds the victim's damage capacity, he is electrocuted rather than stunned."
Basically it's either the most devastating weapon to one-shot Glitter Boys with or a weird edge-case weapon that's hardly going to matter depending on how GMs interpret it. It's also got a middling plasma ejector, a terrible laser (lasers always seem to be crap), short-range missiles, and then the "Quatro Gun". The Quatro Gun has all sorts of fancy drawbacks since it can be used as a short-range laser, long-range laser, particle beam, or flamethrower, but the only one that does any decent damage is the particle beam, so you'd only ever be using that. It also has a spinning vibro-claw that actually does decent damage, a real rarity for a melee attack. Overall, it's a highlight on just how bad Siembieda is at trying to come up with innovative mechanics. "It can do four different things! ... what, you only ever want to do the most effective one? Weird!"

John Zeleznik's design looks like it escaped from Warhammer 40K (space marines? necrons? you pick) but definitely works as part of the Coalition's skull arsenal.


AT-ST (the S stands for skulls)

IAR-5 Hellfire

With a design that seems like it must be a rejected Locust design for Battletech, this is a 14' walker that's surprisingly tough, with double rail guns, a plasma ejector, mini-missiles, and laser turrets so lame it makes me wonder why I even mention them. All of its other weapons are average. This is mainly just another tough slogfester for PCs to focus-fire on for turns at a time until it finally falls over. I don't even like Breaux's design for a change here. Where's the skull fanservice? Nowhere.


Looks kind of smug if you squint at it.

CR-004 Scout Spider-Skull Walker

So, this is supposed to be a smaller, lighter version of the original CR-003 Spider-Skull Walker (which is neither revised nor supplanted by this book) that acts as a scout or support for its larger cousin. Despite being about half as tough, though, its rail guns and lasers do pretty much the same damage, and it also has mini-missiles, which makes it offensively more dangerous despite being under half the size. Power creep? It's in here!

Vince Martin's version is just crazy overdesigned as well, too. Unsurprisingly at this point, I prefer the original's ridiculous skull purism.


Video game boss #42,371

CR-005 Scorpion-Skull Walker

Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:

(Editor's Note: Yes, we know scorpions have eight legs).

So, this is surprisingly vulnerable, being a death coffin for its pilots. And I can only presume they have to pilot this thing coffin-style as well, given it has two crew positions and its body is only 5' tall. Unsurprisingly, most of its weapons - triple rail guns, mini-missiles, and lasers - are mounted in the tail. It also has passable lasers mounted on its dead, but its triple rail guns actually do very good damage. Either way, whether you're blowing off its tail to cut off most of its weapons or just firing on the main body, this thing will die horribly. Even its pincers are poo poo. About the only good thing it has is apparently a special ability to sneak for pilots proficient in it.

Also don't like the design, you know the drill by now.

Next: Strange things go into tanks!

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Oh I remember that one:
the darklord is a dhampir/ghost who switches form painfully at dusk and dawn.
he plays the bagpipes.


Correct!

Rand Brittain posted:

I can't believe how long it took me to realize that Hazlik was kicked out of Thay for being gay.

IIRC, it's stated outright in one book somewhere, but I might be wrong.




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgaRd4d8hOY

Kartakass
Kartakass is a small country of dense forests inhabited by singing lumberjacks. With a small population of 4 500 (Humans 98%, Half-Elves 1%) mostly centered on a few villages of log cabins and lodges, the place isn't important in the grand scheme of things. Singing and performance is super important to the people, to the point where each town's governor is elected through a singing contest. These Meistersingers are the closest thing to a government Kartakass has. Bards are well regarded and given warm receptions, and there's a tradition of tall tales mean to teach lessons and play on the gullibility of listeners. The Kartakans are overall pretty happy, though they do live in fear of the country's vicious wolves. There are legends that tell of times when wolves took on human shapes to trick people...

Keening
Another empty realm with no living inhabitants, Keening is dominated by Mount Lament, a windy peak crowned with fog. The only settlement in a ruined village inhabited by 970 mindless undead, who shuffle through a mindless parody of their mortal lives. Sometimes brigand and dwarves venture into the domain to seek the mineral wealth of the mountain or other plunder. The wind from the mountain often sounds like a mournful song.

Lamordia
A cold country in the north of the continent, Lamordia is also another advanced civilization (CL9). With a laughably small population too (3 200, 99% human). Lamordians are a hardy folk, and the least superstitious in the world. No church holds sway there, and they mostly trust in rationality and common sense. They distrust anyone who promise easy solutions with magic. Mayors are elected by a council of wealthy aristocrats, who are themselves elected by all male landowners. The ruler is Baron von Aubrecker, who prefers to hold court in his estate than rule. Despite the weak government, most Lamordians manage to get through with minimum conflict and crime. The harshness of the land makes travel difficult, leading to the realm being fairly isolated from the rest of the Core. It is said a demonic creature lives on the frozen Isle of Agony. Most people hold the infamous Doctor Victor Mordenheim, a shady surgeon and scientist, in contempt as he continues his strange experiments in his northern estate.

Markovia
Markovia is a tropical island inexplicably situated in the cold northern Sea of Sorrow. The canopy is so dense that the vine-covered forest floor is always shrouded in shadows. The shore is dotted with ancient basalt statues with their heads and arms upraised to the sky. Some sailors have seen structures on the island, including a stone monastery on the southern cliffs. There are many sightings of "beastmen", animal-like creatures that walk on two legs and use crude tools and weapons. Many domains have attempted to colonize the island, and all have failed so far.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Letís Make a Character!

To continue with character creation, itís best to actually have a character to illustrate various points with, as from now on the choices are more freeform than multiple choice. So, letís make something!

Step 1: Race

Iím avoiding magic and the Gods for the moment, as thatíd just add complexity without covering the Magic and Gods chapters, so letís go with a fight-mans type. Weíll be starting with Nemean as the race, giving us a starting loadout of:

Race: Nemean

INT: +0 PER: +0
WIL: +0 CHA: +2
STR: +1 DEX: +0
CON: +1 SPD: +0
CR: +2 MR: -2

HP: 20

Racial Abilities
  • Natural Weapons: Bite DR4, Claws DR3 (Armor Piercing). If first attack of round, claws can be used to attack twice without penalty.

  • Lord of the Beast-men: Bonus of (3 x CHA) to social interactions with other Andamen.

  • Beast Language: Bonus of (CHA) to Animal Handling Skill used with canine, feline, aquatic, or avian life.

  • Lionís Roar: Usable (CON) times per day. Either provide allies bonus of (2x CHA) to one dice roll or force enemies to perform WIL roll (DoD 3x CHA), if failed receive penalty of (CHA) for (CON+1) rounds.

Step 2: Culture

Not a bad start, but now letís see where he comes from! Hopping over the Geographica setting book, I control+F for Nemean and see what pops up! Looks like Nubia would be a good fit! They have the highest population of Nemeans in the world, and the Nubian Great Chieftain has often been Nemeans, or have taken Nemean wives.

Cultureís of the Post-Cataclysmic World posted:

Nubians are tall (rarely less than 1.8m in height and often as much as 2.2m tall), with ebony skin and close-cropped, kinky black hair. Their clothing is distinguished by the common use of necklaces of hammered copper plates or disks and colorful silk or dyed cotton headdresses copied from the Khemiti style. They also wear loincloths and loose robes or tunics, depending upon their immediate needs. Nubians are great warriors and are highly sought after as mercenaries. Most Nubians enjoy a peaceful hunter-gatherer Lifestyle.

Sounds good to me! The Nubian culture package is as follows:

Skills: Athletics +1, Evade +1, Instinct +1, Lore (survival, Savannah) +1, Parry +2, Speak Language (Khem) +10, Weapon (melee) +4.

Attribute: +1 CR.

When applied to our existing character:

Race: Nemean
Culture: Nubia

INT: +0 PER: +0
WIL: +0 CHA: +2
STR: +1 DEX: +0
CON: +1 SPD: +0
CR: +3 MR: -2

HP: 20

Skills
Athletics +1, Evade +1, Instinct +1, Lore (survival, Savannah) +1, Parry +2, Speak Language (Khem) +10, Weapon (melee) +4

Racial Abilities
  • Natural Weapons: Bite DR4, Claws DR3 (Armor Piercing). If first attack of round, claws can be used to attack twice without penalty.

  • Lord of the Beast-men: Bonus of (3 x CHA) to social interactions with other Andamen.

  • Beast Language: Bonus of (CHA) to Animal Handling Skill used with canine, feline, aquatic, or avian life.

  • Lionís Roar: Usable (CON) times per day. Either provide allies bonus of (2x CHA) to one dice roll or force enemies to perform WIL roll (DoD 3x CHA), if failed receive penalty of (CHA) for (CON+1) rounds.

Step 3: Profession

Obviously, the best fit for this would be one of the Slayers: More particularly Warrior. A Nubian adventurer would most likely be a Mercenary, as thatís Nubiaís main export apparently. Looking at the Geographica again, most nubians are armed with spear and shortsword, some use bows, and they seem to operate in smaller elite forces than as large unified armies. Going with the Warrior profession that gives me:

Attribute: CR +1

Skills: Athletics +3, Evade +8, Instinct +4, Language (Atlantean) +3, Parry +4, Profession (slayer) +10, Unarmed Fighting +7, Weapon (playerís choice) +10, Weapon (playerís choice) +4

Bonus Talent: Cleave

Starting Gear: Full Suit of Medium armor, two weapons of choice, a horse, Travelers Gear

WR: +1

So apply that and:

Race: Nemean
Culture: Nubia
Profession: Warrior

INT: +0 PER: +0
WIL: +0 CHA: +2
STR: +1 DEX: +0
CON: +1 SPD: +0
CR: +4 MR: -2

HP: 20
WR: +1

Skills
Athletics +4, Evade +9, Instinct +5, Lore (survival, Savannah) +1, Parry +6, Speak Language (Atlantean) +3, Speak Language (Khem) +10, Profession (slayer) +10, Unarmed Fighting +7, Weapon (playerís choice) +10, Weapon (players choice) +4, Weapon (melee) +4

Racial Abilities
  • Natural Weapons: Bite DR4, Claws DR3 (Armor Piercing). If first attack of round, claws can be used to attack twice without penalty.

  • Lord of the Beast-men: Bonus of (3 x CHA) to social interactions with other Andamen.

  • Beast Language: Bonus of (CHA) to Animal Handling Skill used with canine, feline, aquatic, or avian life.

  • Lionís Roar: Usable (CON) times per day. Either provide allies bonus of (2x CHA) to one dice roll or force enemies to perform WIL roll (DoD 3x CHA), if failed receive penalty of (CHA) for (CON+1) rounds.

Talents
  • Cleave: Can use (CR) times per day. When you deal at least half your weaponís DR to an opponent, can hit additional opponents in range. Keep original attack roll. All hits do half damage. Subsequent hits only succeed if Full or Critical success, partials count as failure. Critical hits and special effects only apply to initial target. Can hit number of enemies equal to (CR).

Inventory: Full Suit of Medium armor, two weapons of choice, a horse, Travelers Gear

So, thatís up to where we are now. So, next post will be coming soon: Life Paths!

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 04:57 on May 20, 2017

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!


I got to read a Lamordia module.
It was incredibly dumb and not at all terrifying.
Everyone in the party dies and gets rebuilt by Dr. not Frankenstein, who tasks them with some bullshit if he's to give them new bodies.
they chase and confront The Monster and in the end nothing much has been changed in the world.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

why can't i just hang out with scottish goblins

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!


They kill and eat everyone that gets in the realm.
The books even state that a common food is 'Headdis' ,brains basically.
A lame play on words for haggis.

So many wasted opportunities on the trail to metaplot city.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

Another missed opportunity: the denizens of Kartakass are not known as Kartakassholes.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Man, the populations of the various domains seem so tiny. Like, half of them you could meet everyone there in an afternoon if you got them together in the same town. In fact there's few enough of them that there probably is only one town, and yet the description of the internal politics feels like they're talking about a larger, more varied nation.

Dareon
Apr 6, 2009

by vyelkin

Aethera Campaign Setting

Part Nine - Akasaat II


Thousands of social and political groups call Akasaat home, but there are five that can be considered the most influential.

The Hierarchy is, of course, the government. They control the truly habitable regions of the planet, which has done quite a lot for ensuring their continued success. They influence the populace through popular media: plays and farcaster shows featuring successful exploration, suspiciously friendly and bloodless conquest, and survival against hostile environments and creatures, seasoned with a healthy dash of propaganda.

The bureaucracy of the Hierarchy has become so complex that most people only understand it at the very basest level. Skilled manipulators can play fast and loose enough to hide personal interests in the budgets of several larger projects. Many do, in fact, in order to enhance their own standing or that of a family member.

There are four official departments within the Hierarchy, loosely following the same classification as the Slot system: Labor, Service, Research, and Professional. Labor and Research tend to dominate any debate between the four, Labor due to its immense budget and Research due to parceling out technological breakthroughs and new interpretations of the Score as needed. Additionally, the Service Department has its fingers in every pie, with every personal assistant technically falling into their purview. The Service Department is even rumored to have its own black budget for handling sticky "human resource problems".

The Protectorate is the Hierarchy's police and military force. In the current absence of an actual war, its members protect the populace from freeloading Unslotted parasites, reckless magic-users, and the perfidious influence of alien values and heretical belief systems.

The Protectorate is politically neutral - no Protectorate member may hold a policy-making position in the Hierarchy at large. Of course, an ex-Protectorate seeking political office is not only perfectly kosher, but can count on strong support from their Protectorate friends.

The Protectorate along with the Labor Department also manages the prison system. Prisoners are expected to compensate the state for the expenses incurred in their incarceration, and to this end are trained for a Slot under the Labor Department's purview while incarcerated. After release, they're assigned to that very same Slot, with triple offenders being placed there permanently with their job literally tattooed onto their body. These jobs are usually the most dangerous and strenuous positions available, like aetherite mining or disaster relief. Long-term prisoners have formed their own organizations within the system, despite Protectorate attempts to disrupt them.

The Symphonium are the keepers of the Score, the guides for all of humanity. Arising from an ancient religious order and still seen that way by most of the populace, the Symphonium today is more of a collection of guilds and fraternal orders of musicians and mathematicians making only the barest of nods to the religious traditions. At the top of the Symphonium are the Prophets, a council of six who serve as advisors and spiritual guides to the Lord Marshal of the Hierarchy. We're given their names, alignments, class (All cantors) and levels. Most of them are female, most of them are Neutral or Lawful Neutral, although two of them are Evil. :ohdear: Their levels range from 10 to 14. All of them are in the middle-age age-bracket or older.

The Symphonium has a few semi-covert arms: The Grand Resonance of the Open Chord and the Order of the Aureate Ratio. They are responsible for recruiting new members and covertly monitoring the Research and Service departments of the Hierarchy. New members are introduced to the concept that makes up the main source of mystical power in the Symphonium: The tritone, or Machine in the Music. Covert members use the tritone as a signaling device by weaving it into compositions, while prophets and researchers use it to attain a greater understanding of the Score.

The Riders are an informal group of the disgruntled, disillusioned, and disenfranchised that arose in the final years of the Century War, including veterans that did not return to service, proactive Unslotted, Slotted who realize their life is going to be poo poo for the foreseeable future, and Wastelanders who openly oppose the Hierarchy. They refuse to organize under a central leader, which sort of limits their effectiveness. Most of the Slotted who aid the Riders are Laborers or Professionals, who help disseminate information, carry coded messages, and pass on job offers. Rider broadcast stations transmit their news as encrypted musical signals, with hourly breaks for weather reports. Joining the Riders is as easy as claiming to be one, but most people won't believe you, and if you're just adopting the name for the fame and glory you'll probably disappear.

The Vanguard are elite Protectorate forces, originally used to protect humanity from supernatural threats like ghosts and aetherwarped mutants. Towards the end of the Century War, however, the rising incidence of magical terrorism caused the Hierarchy to decree that all citizens capable of using supernatural abilities would have to register with the Department of Occult and Eldritch Affairs or face penalties up to and including execution. In this regard, a Vanguard member has absolute authority over any magic-user of any kind in the arcologies. They are usually called in to investigate falsified registration, magical crimes, or unregistered mages. They are played up by the Hierarchy radio plays, with some of the most popular involving Vanguard officers. Corruption is rife within the ranks and many of them have nothing but contempt for the magic-users they supposedly safeguard. While the Vanguard's primary theater of operations are the Hierarchy arcologies, their investigations can leak into wasteland settlements or even off-planet with only the flimsiest of justifications. While they typically operate in pairs, high-threat situations could see response teams of nearly a dozen, all clad in the latest power armor.

"Adventurer" is not a job title that someone on Akasaat puts on their resume. Every Hierarchy citizen has their role to play in this new Slotted society, and no one has the time or resources to go haring off into ancient ruins on the nebulous promise of treasure. At least, that's the official line. The Hierarchy has implemented a number of regulations and laws making it difficult to get firearms, lockpicks, personal farcasters, and other adventuring gear, but they do employ adventurers for certain high-risk covert operations. And of course people break away from the society to adventure, mostly from those in lower Slots who long for something more out of life or retired military that need the thrill. Wasteland tribes are probably a bit more likely to produce adventurers just out of a need for survival.

Adventurers on Akasaat tend to form a loose network that will offer aid when needed, and many groups including the Riders will track adventurers and keep track of who's been helpful when they didn't need to. Packing well and being prepared for any situation is perhaps more vital on dry, cave-riddled Akasaat than in most adventuring locales, thirst being an ever-present danger. You don't need to go out into the wastelands to adventure, however: The arcologies are the remains of Progenitor installations, and the curious can explore beneath the cities mankind has built atop them to their heart's content, perhaps even maintaining a respectable life on the surface at the same time. That's not to say these caves and tunnels are any safer than the wasteland. Poisonous gas, aetherite radiation, and cave-ins are constant dangers, not to mention ancient traps and guardians.

Most of Akasaat is still relatively unexplored, actually. Aetherships can map surface-level features, identifying ruined cities by their wall lines, but very little standard exploration has been done, and even less into the caves that honeycomb the planet. To even get there, most of the time you'll need to traverse the wastes, dealing with the highs and lows of desert temperature, dust and sand, and other dangers that we don't need to consider in terrestrial deserts. Thick, cloying dust storms known as brownouts can reduce visibility to zero, static electricity can crackle across the plains in the company of ferocious half-hour sandstorms that deal 1d6 damage every round, and wind or underground water can create patches of thin ground that give way and dump an adventurer into a cavern hundreds of feet deep.

The polar regions of the planet tend towards peaty tundra and bare rock, with small arsenic-laden ice caps forming in winter. These peat deserts can produce methane that can catch fire, or hold choking pockets of carbon dioxide just waiting for a careless footfall to rupture them and suffocate a hapless adventurer.

Badlands and deep canyons offer their own dangers, including sulfurs and metals from the dried-out oceans tainting groundwater. As for the canyons, usually their sheer depth and steep sides are danger enough. Picture trying to climb down the side of the Marianas Trench. Someone actually carved stairs in some of them, but it's still brown-trousers time.

Even abandoned battlefields from the Century War can be lucrative spots for looting, but the danger of unexploded munitions and undead is high. Erahthi munitions in particular are a valuable gamble, because the Hierarchy would pay good money for samples of mutagenic spores or nerve agents in case the war ever starts up again. On the other hand, mutagenic spores and nerve agents. :vomarine:

Some locations of interest. Ashrana Canyon stretches 1500 miles and was the deepest point in the oceans of pre-Collapse Akasaat, and remains so unexplored that no one has reached the bottom. I assume that's "reached the bottom alive and reported back" because it would be really easy to get down there, but back is another issue. Unstable cliffs, high winds, carnivorous flying squid, and bulettes all combine to make the place risky, but explorers still attempt it occasionally in hopes of finding caches of Progenitor technology or undiscovered aetherite deposits.

All the arcologies are basically Midgar from Final Fantasy VII, with plates supporting the middle and upper districts from the slums on the ground.
Aegis is the most militarized city of the Hierarchy, with the largest standing army, a perimeter bristling with defensive weaponry, and its own fleet of aetherships, including the H.A.V. Lightbringer, a dreadnaught that the city's Grand Marshal rules from. The Grand Marshal is rumored to be preparing some sort of coup, openly criticizing the Symphonium and declaring the war with the erahthi to have been a mistake. Bastion was badly damaged during the early years of the war, collapsing a sizable portion of its middle tier into the slums. Repairs have only begun recently, and will probably take another decade or more. During the war, it had a sizable manufacturing base turning out weapons and ammunition, which is being retooled into civil engineering to aid with the rebuilding. Bastion's Grand Marshal is a vocal opponent of integrating the phalanx into human society and will not let any robots take our jerbs.

Dylath is a town of outcasts known for its alchemists and drug trade. It imports liquid aetherite and refines it into various drugs. There seems to be no law or government, not even a drug cartel. This is because the actual ruler of the settlement is a night hag living on the Ethereal Plane and running the place through a series of mind-controlled proxies. The Far Horizon Mining Facility is the last active aetherite mine and one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, which is an accomplishment. Criminals and undesirable Slotted (read: Phalanx and Infused war veterans) toil here, treated like slaves and in constant danger of aetherite poisoning, cave-ins, suffocation, and a stray spark turning the vein they're mining into a rapidly-expanding cloud of plasma. The director of the mine has secret deals with criminal organizations providing aetherite waste to them for the purposes of drug manufacture.

Haven was once an arcology on the forefront of aethership development, until AVALANCHE an erahthi saboteur team, aided by human subversives, planted a bomb on the #4 aetherite reactor in 3976. Reactors 2 and 3 cascaded along with it, causing the upper tier of the arcology to collapse, crushing the Midlands level and killing hundreds of thousands. The survivors were exposed to fatal levels of aetherite poisoning and the disaster response team took the form of a Vanguard strike team that rounded up the citizenry displaying advanced aetherite poisoning and dragged them off to fates unknown (Hint: It was the Paragon Project). The place is a ruin now, guarded by a skeleton force of Protectorate and holding some tantalizing thoughts of treasure: Haven's factories were allegedly on the verge of a breakthrough weapons program called Project Titan. The current Grand Marshal is an eccentric recluse who hides in the still-standing central column, letting his staff handle everything. The city is understandably a hotbed of raiders and subversives, with a minor in scavengers.

Maarten's Folly is a ship graveyard, named after the aethership captain who made an enormous tactical blunder in the battle of the same name. Dozens of rusting hulls from human ships and hillocks of vegetation from erahthi hulls litter the area, leaking bioweapons and spawning broken constructs, biological horrors, and undead who continue a battle long since passed. Despite these obvious dangers and some less-obvious ones like radioactive aetherite fogs, the place draws treasure hunters like flies.

Sentinel was the second Hierarchy arcology founded, and is home to the Vanguard, with the Grand Marshal also serving as the leader of the Vanguard. Sentinel is a fine place to live, as long as you don't mind the literal police state. The arcology also houses the largest prison on the planet, the Deep Tower housed in the arcology's subterranean levels. It holds hundreds of magical criminals deemed too dangerous for rehabilitation.

The Solenne Oasis is the home of a band of scavengers who settled in the wreck of the H.A.V. Solenne after she was rammed and downed by an erahthi ship. The mutated erahthi hull provides fruit and the water tanks on the Solenne are still intact enough to use. They've set up a druidic circle to protect the area and will gladly trade provisions for goods and news. Rumor says the oasis is a secret outpost for erahthi operations, but no evidence supporting that has yet surfaced.

The arcology of Vale is one of the greatest mysteries of the Century War. During the third decade of the war, the arcology came under attack by an erahthi ship that broke through the orbital defenses. Soon after the initial reports of the attack, Vale went silent. The Hierarchy declared the place quarantined, citing active erahthi bioweapons. Vanguard ships patrol a 100-mile radius around the city, shooting to kill anyone violating this border. From orbit, the place looks intact and the vegetation around it is flourishing, but there are no lights. The erahthi deny they ever developed a bioweapon that could have wiped out the entire city so thoroughly.

The Wave is a swarm of over 200 vehicles, constantly on the move to evade the Hierarchy. Made up of military deserters and disgruntled citizens, it's also attracted Riders who've rigged their vehicles with antennas and broadcast anti-Hierarchy propaganda constantly. Despite their evasive tactics, it is a bigass swarm of vehicles, and with no war to occupy them, it may only be a matter of time before the Hierarchy strikes at them.


Central

Fittingly, the capital city of humanity gets its own in-depth look. Even with the depopulation from the war, Central is overcrowded with a population of nearly 2 million souls (98% humans, 1% phalanx, 1% other). We start with the history of the city, which has been mostly covered in other places, but we get some expansion on some topics and some neat trivia. For instance, Luthias was cremated and his ashes were mixed into the mortar for the first paving stones laid in the city. The stones have since been replaced dozens of times, but you can still get tours of Luthias' "final steps". The city is massively fortified, to the point that in 3075, the fledgling city held off for 9 days against a force of over nine thousand wastelanders, including ogres and giants. Construction of the upper layers came about whenever the lower layers started getting crowded (helped along by the industrial revolution that was aethertech), although these days there's not much higher they can go, and the slums have started spilling out through holes in the defensive wall.

The Foundation layer, often called "Darkside" by locals, is crowded, dangerous, and inhospitable, consisting mostly of slums, tent cities, and industrial parks. The pollution from the factories is so bad that it forces a DC 11 Fort save (vs. poison, so erahthi are kinda screwed here) every hour to avoid being sickened. On hot days, the DC increases to 13 and there's a danger of Con damage on multiple failures. Crime of the organized variety is rampant, and the Protectorate is perfectly happy to let these gangs operate as long as they get a few kickbacks here and there and the crime doesn't bother the respectable folk. Plus there's the common monsters a D&D peasant must contend with.

Midlands was known as Highrise until the third tier of the arcology went up in 3797. Midlands is thus a fairly nice place, starting to tarnish a little. Its architecture showcases the decadent glory of pre-war Akasaat, with metal reliefs on buildings, water features and statuary, and public art pieces depicting industrious, smiling citizens. Water stains and corrosion have set in, and the bright airy plazas have been crowded with assembly lines and other industry. This is where the middle class dwell, and most of the off-world tourists, although there is a core population of lower-class support staff that lives in the oldest buildings near the central spire, in the perpetual shadow from the Highrise district. The bosses of the gangs that operate in Foundation live and operate their totally legitimate businesses in Midlands, as befits legitimate businessmen. The police here are less likely to take bribes and are actually rather more concerned with citizens' well-being.

Highrise is the newest and highest layer of the city, completed in 3817 in response to the aetherite rush. Due to the height, the ambient temperature is usually about 20 degrees cooler than the lower layers, although there is a commensurate increase in wind, which can make temperatures drop by around 50 degrees at night. The architecture consists of graceful buildings of imported marble, decorated with brass and gold reliefs depicting important historical events. Naturally the nobles and richest merchants live here, and while there is a support staff of middle- and lower-class citizens, they're practically invisible. Violent crime is almost nonexistent, but that just means there's more paper crime and the occasional political assassination. Highrise holds most of the schools and universities in Central. These are free to Slotted citizens as long as the lessons correspond to their assigned field. Those seeking outside knowledge pay through the goddamn nose.

The Cathedral of the Symphonium lies above Highrise, but isn't strictly part of the city. It's an aethership, capable of moving across the planet, although the last time it left Central was at the start of the Century War for strategy meetings with each city's Grand Marshals.

We get a rundown of some of the more interesting places in Central, but there's honestly nothing worth recounting here. It all helps to flesh things out, but there's nothing interesting that leaps at me.

We also get details of another city! Teratha is a small city of about 9,000 (75% human, 10% phalanx, 10% infused, 5% other) outside the domain of the Hierarchy. "If the Hierarchy doesn't want you to have it, you can buy it in Teratha" is a common refrain among wastelanders. A group of scavengers found the spire of a Progenitor facility in the middle of a rocky plain, jutting a thousand feet into the sky. They braved the ruins and discovered that whatever purpose it served in the past, it had a set of hydraulic pumps tapping a deep, clean aquifier. With some aethertech refitting, they were able to get the pumps running and make the place into a permanent encampment. Of course, fresh water and Progenitor tech makes for a tempting target, so the scavengers allied themselves with a group of infused deserters, and after beating back a few raids, other scavengers began approaching diplomatically. Dissidents, deserters, and others displaced by the war drifted in over the years, until the scavenger-barons that ostensibly ran the place had to come up with a council to actually rule it. The end of the war, with the implementation of the Slot system and the disenfranchisement of the phalanx, has caused another surge in Teratha's population, but with the Hierarchy no longer focused outward, many feel it's only a matter of time before the hammer comes down on Teratha.

Law in Teratha is fairly simple. Murder: Not okay, but killing in self-defense is fine. Brawling: Mostly okay, but don't stab anyone. Theft: More complex. Value of the stolen goods and prestige of the victim play a role. Might lose a hand or get tossed into the wastes without water.

The city wasn't exactly planned, so it's a bit difficult to tell where one district ends and another begins. The outer walls are made of hull plating from crashed aetherships, with all manner of emplaced weaponry to fend off attack. Otherwise, you've got market districts, housing, and some industry. The specific places are definitely more interesting than Central's, though. The city actually has a fountain. Like, think about that. Middle of the desert, huge-rear end fountain. There's also a dedicated Rider radio station, Radio Free Teratha.

Up next, we come to Kir-Sharaat, and things get much less hitlery.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Eleven: "It has a four man crew and is so easy to operate that it's said a child could do it."

Beware the Lil' Skullies, coming in Rifts World Book 81: Children of Chi-Town.

CS Combat Vehicles

At this point the I ask the floating mecha-skull next to me: "Why am I finishing this review?"

It says to me, in a cold, pitiless voice, "Because humanity has sinned." A slight pause, and it adds, "And somebody might be curious about the CS Skull Patrol Car."

I laugh and reply, "Oh, skullucination, you're such a kidder. Nobody cares about that. Sins of humanity it is, then!"


Like in Aliens, but now with a skullcatcher.

Coalition Mark VII "Slayer" APC

So, this is a big ol' transport vehicle with a big ol' skull on front, but hey, it has 12' tires you can shoot out, each with a whopping 8 M.D.C. Thankfully, though, it has rules for slowing down as it loses wheels, but at no point actually stops, so it can lose all of its wheels and putter around at 32 MPH. Palladium editing, everyone!

It can carry enough troops to roll over most PC groups (well, 10 Super SAMASes or Hellraisers is going to be a hell of a fight, at least), has a solid amount of M.D.C. as long as you're not smart enough to shoot out the tires and drive away. It has a middling laser cannon and laser turrets, crappy plasma gun, mini-missiles as its main damage dump, smoke dispensers, and can roll around at 80 M.P.H. I like the dumb skully design, but the fact that a few shots will cripple it suggests to me that Siembieda Nowak the Coalition haven't thought this one through.


Art is reprinted, but I missed it last time, here you go.

Coalition Mark IX EPC
Exploratory Personnel Carrier By Julius Rosenstein


This is reprinted from Rifts Index & Adventures 1, and is supposed to be used for exploration and recon, even though it has no particular sensor systems or facilities that'd accomodate that. It's also supposed to be a way for a unit to hole up while waiting for reinforcements, but it has less M.D.C. than most power armor. It's really just a rolling van with only the most basic of protection, a crappy laser turret and a mini-missile launcher for emergency damage dumps. In general, though, it's pretty bad at anything it's actually supposed to do, and is a relatively dull design to boot. (This is probably because it's intended for a Coalition PC group originally, and is woefully underpowered as a reaction to that.)


How does it fire its own missiles without hitting its own turrets?

CTX-50 "Line Backer" Coalition Heavy Assault Tank

So, do Coalition members play football, then? Do they know what football is? Or do they have a different sport with a linebacker position? Skullball?

In any case, this is the Coalition's answer to all the hovertanks introduced in Rifts Mercenaries, and has comparable toughness but suffers comparatively in the firepower department - together its laser cannons can be deadly but it requires a gunner for each one to do that. Its rail gun and laser turrets are unexceptional, though it's ability to shoot medium-range and mini-missiles remains as deadly as anything else with them. It also has smoke dispensers, a special ram attack that can bowl people over, and dashes around at 150 MPH. I like the return to the bold oversized skull design here, at least. It's their thing and it works.


From this position, no enemy is safe!... as long as they're on the ceiling.

CTX-52 "Sky Sweeper" Anti-Aircraft Tank

You know what makes this anti-aircraft? Fuckin' nothing, because there's no mechanics for that! It doesn't even have more range than the Line Backer, so there's not even that notion to go on. Effectively it's the light version of the Line Backer, with the same laser cannons and a laser turret, mini-missiles, medium-range missiles; the only real difference is that it has a more powerful singular rail gun, only goes 90 MPH, and has modestly reduced toughness. I guess it has "enhanced radar", but we're never told what that entails...

A little short for this section - it's tough trying to break it up into themed sections so I'm not just dumping a ton of vehicles into one update. Next one will be longer. I know, you're all excited and awaiting the CS Skull Patrol Car. I know. It's okay. It's coming.

Next: Every day more skulls, every day more pilots!

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.
Fallen Rib
Alien Rope Burn and the Skullucination. Together, they fight crime.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

PurpleXVI posted:

Man, the populations of the various domains seem so tiny. Like, half of them you could meet everyone there in an afternoon if you got them together in the same town. In fact there's few enough of them that there probably is only one town, and yet the description of the internal politics feels like they're talking about a larger, more varied nation.

Yeah, that's why I've been posting them, they're just so weirdly tiny. Even the largest metropolis has like 10 000 people at most.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time


The Symphonium seem hella rad, but I can't shake the feeling I've seen the concept in a JRPG somewhere.

e: tales of the abyss, that's it. This seems a more interesting take on the concept, though.

Leraika fucked around with this message at 17:39 on May 13, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

DragonMech: Steam Warriors: I'm glad Robo found modeling work.



The Steel-Bound Soul is basically a super-steamborg. They're the guys who try to upgrade themselves way too fast and with way too many parts, so that they can become pure machine. They tend to be incredibly impatient and impulsive. Most are humans, as longer-lived races tend to be in less of a rush or less willing to sacrifice their personalities to the altar of steamborg self-loss. They have a d8 HD. To become one you need 7 ranks of Craft (mechcraft) and 7 ranks of Knowledge (steam engines), plus either the Power Source feat or the steam engine class ability, the lose self class ability and at least +3 points of artificial parts. Class skills are Balance, Climb, Concentration, Craft (mechcraft), Disable Device, Heal, Jump, Knowledge (steam engines), Knowledge (the planes), Listen and Profession (engineer). They get half decent BAB, good Fort and Will, and get quite a few artificial parts and steam powers as they level.

At 5th level, they are more machine than man and no longer age as long as they have access to materials and tools. At 8th level, they must make a DC 20 Fort save. Failure means they die as their parts become unable to sustain their body. (This check must be tried again if they are raised from the dead after failing it.) Success just avoids death - no benefits beyond that. At level 9, their brain is replaced with machinery, giving them a bonus to Will saves equal to half their class level (rounding down). At level 10, their soul is replaced by machinery. They can no longer be effected by spells such as trap the soul or most death magic. As long as their form can be repaired, they are functionally immortal. If their HP hits zero, they lose a level and are considered dead but can be resurrected by repair. If their HP hits -(character level), however, their body is utterly destroyed and they cannot be resurrected by any means whatsoever.



The Unborg is, quote, "a soul redeemed from steam." They're people who want to remove their artificial parts and regrow what they lost. So, obviously, they need to spend class levels on this. They remove their parts slowly and do divine rituals to regenerate the flesh, and many also become highly spiritual druids afterwards. They have a d8 HD. To become one, you need Knowledge (religion) at 5 ranks, a Will save of +5 or higher and must have at least one artificial part and the desire to remove your parts. Class skills are Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Disable Device, Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (nature), Knowledge (religion), Listen, Profession, Ride, Spellcraft, Spot, Survival and Swim. They have good BAB, Fort and Ref. Also, they gain proficiency with clubs, daggers, darts, quarterstaffs, scimitars, sickles, shortspears, slings, spears, light armor and shields, as they are usually trained by druids, but not have to obey druidic armor and weapon restrictions.

At 1st level and every level after, they remove one steam power or artificial part of their choice and all components needed for it. Further, whenever they gain a level in any class, they can remove a steam power or artificial part. However, a part cannot be removed until all steam powers associated with it are first. Lost limbs and organs are still lost, so parts needed to survive cannot yet be removed until later abilities are gained. Every time a part or steam power is removed, you get 1 point that enters a pool you can spend to gain druidic abilities. You can spend the points at any time and get the ability within 24 hours, but once selected, they can't be removed. The abilities are as follows.

  • Animal Companion (2 pts): You get an animal companion as a Druid of level equal to your Unborg level (plus any levels in Druid you had), and if it has the scent ability, it can track steamtech. It is always distrustful of technology, even yours.
  • A Thousand Faces (8 pts): You get the Druid ability of the same name.
  • Bonus Feat (4 pts): You get a bonus feat of your choice that you qualify for.
  • Detect Animals or Plants (4 pts): Once per day, you can cast Detect Animals Or Plants as a druid of your character level.
  • Nature Sense (2 pts): You get +2 to Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks.
  • Resist Nature's Lure (2 pts): You get +4 to saves against spell-like abilities of Fey creatures.
  • Spellcasting (4 pts): You get +1 level of spellcasting as a druid. This stacks with any levels you already had in druid, and if you have none, starts you off as a 1st level druid. You get no other benefits of the Druid class - just casting. If your total caster level plus steamborg levels is greater than or equal to your character level, you can't take this.
  • Timeless Body (8 pts): You get the Druid ability of the same name.
  • Trackless Step (2 pts): You get the Druid ability of the same name.
  • Venom Immunity (4 pts): You get the Druid ability of the same name.
  • Wild Empathy (2 pts): You get the Druid ability of the same name, using the total of your Unborg, Druid and Ranger levels to determine its checks.
  • Woodland Stride (2 pts): You get the Druid ability of the same name.
  • Wild Shape (8 pts): You get the Druid ability of the same name, using the total of your Unborg and Druid levels to determine its power.

Starting at level 2, you regenerate lost limbs and organs when your parts are removed. You must worship a deity or divine force to use this, and must perform a ceremony lasting 10 minutes (and costs 100 gp in incense) immediately after the part is removed, then sleep for 24 hours. Even if the part was needed for survival, however, its absence will not kill you during that period. Only the organ or limb the part replaced is regenerated, however, even if you are missing other parts. However, you can perform this ritual for parts you removed before gaining this ability. The new limb takes -4 to all related checks until you are hit by one of the spells Lesser Restoration, Restoration, Greater Restoration, Regenerate or Heal. (Related checks - Spot for eyes, Listen for ears, attack rolls and Str checks for arms, Ref checks for legs, Con checks for a heart, etc.) At 4th level, as long as you don't use a steam power at all during a day, you don't have to make a lose self check for that day. Once you have removed all of your parts and powers, you don't need to make lose self checks any more. This ability is negated if you ever add artificial parts to yourself again.



The Steamborg Mark II is actually a new core class, rather than a prestige class. It's the second generation of steamborg tech, which standardizes the construction more and is more planned ahead of time. It ends up with fewer total powers and parts than the standard steamborg, but is much more flexible in what those can do, and can tailor the progression to favor parts or powers or feats. It is believed by the Stenians that the Legion is making these guys, while the Legion believes they're Stenian spies, but they are in fact the creation of Egwerd Turnscrew, the inventor of the Mother mech, who found the haphazard construction of Irontooth steamborgs appalling and made plans for a 'better' version. His notes got copied and smuggled to Edge by rivals, and are now widely available. They are one of the few steamborg types more likely to be Lawful than Chaotic, and are almost all dwarves or humans. They get half-decent BAB, good Fort and good Will. They have a d8 HD, and class skills are Balance, Climb, Concentration, Craft (mechcraft), Disable Device, Heal, Jump, Knowledge (steam engines), Listen and Profession (engineer). They are proficient with simple weapons, buzzaxes, buzzsaws, chatterswords, flame nozzles, lobster claws, steambreathers and steam guns, as well as light and medium armors and all shields except the tower shield.

At first level, you get a power source of your choice. A steam engine is the standard one and is the same as the normal Steamborg class. A necrotic engine is made of undead body matter, and it can only support someone with as many HD as the undead that'd be made by the Animate Dead spell cast on it, so it can often need replacing as you get stronger. It deals 1 permanent Con damage every week until death, at which point you get resurrected as an intelligent zombie (unless you spend levels to come back as a specific undead type) and gain the Undead type. It still needs water, but uses it to charge the undead energies. Every 24 hours it effectively casts a harm spell on itself, dealing damage equal to the HD or level of the thing it's powering. This can be disabled by the wearer, but will heal undead ones, so that's nice. Also, it detects as evil to Detect Evil abilities. A blood engine is a modded steam or necrotic engine that runs on blood. You get an extra pool of blood HP equal to your character levle, which is lost first when you take Con damage or damage from wounding weapons. No other damage can touch this HP, but they heal as normal. Also you can use the blood to stay alive if needed. If you also have an artificial liver, it heals 2 extra Con damage per day rather than 1. A Kinetic Engine uses your own body movements to provide the power, so it's cheap and effective but puts a terrible strain on the body. You need four more hours of sleep per steam power you used that day and another day's worth of food per steam power you used that day. Further, it can only support a total number of parts and powers equal to your Con bonus before it needs to be replaced due to lack of power. However, if you start the game with a kinetic engine, you get a bonus feat related to steamborging somehow, until you take the Power Source feat to replace it. Exception: this class, which can take it at first level and get one ability, see below, on top of the power source, but must spend an ability later or take the Power Source feat to replace the engine eventually.

At level 2 and every even level thereafter, you get an ability. This can be a new power source, a new point worth of artificial parts, a steam power or a bonus feat related to steamborgs. However, starting at level 2, you must also make lose self checks.

Next time: New toys.

Barudak
May 7, 2007

PurpleXVI posted:

Man, the populations of the various domains seem so tiny. Like, half of them you could meet everyone there in an afternoon if you got them together in the same town. In fact there's few enough of them that there probably is only one town, and yet the description of the internal politics feels like they're talking about a larger, more varied nation.

Its been driving me crazy so I just mentally added an extra zero to all the numbers to make it make some semblance of sense.

Pro-tip: we dont ever need strict population numbers, developers.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009






So how did no one working on DragonMech have any self-awareness when designing the Unborg? From what I can see it's almost entirely the druid class, except awful because your rate of acquiring druid powers is severely gimped.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Barudak posted:

Its been driving me crazy so I just mentally added an extra zero to all the numbers to make it make some semblance of sense.

Pro-tip: we dont ever need strict population numbers, developers.

Yeah, one thing I usually skim over is that Rifts loves the poo poo out of giving out strict population numbers and unit sizes and census breakdowns, and that might okay if there was some level of organization where the implications of them mattered or some big spreadsheet where they kept them all consistent. But they don't and they just end up being this inconsistent white noise that never matters aside from noticing what D-Bee population is the most numerous following "human". Take, for example, the fact that the Coalition is supposed to be militarily competitive with Atlantis according to Coalition War Campaign. So let's take the Coalition State of Chi-Town, which has about 3 million citizens (2 million in the city itself, and another 1 million in the surrounding region). They have an enlistment rate of about 10%, which means they have 300,000 troops or so. More from other states, to be sure, but Chi-Town is the most populous and is a good start.

Atlantis has the metztla, which are giant psychic shelled monsters. There are at least 1.1 million of them. 82% of them have 1000+ M.D.C., so about 900,000 of them. You average Coalition soldier will have 50-100 M.D.C., or pilot a vehicle with around 200-100 M.D.C. There are also about 3 million kittani, ape-men with comparable tech to Chi-Town, and if they have similar enlistment rates... well. The math gets pretty dire, if you bother to do it, but Siembieda clearly couldn't be bothered.

It's one of those things where it isn't even conflicting authors, it's one guy who has all these books he wrote on his shelf and just couldn't be bothered to crack them open to see what he wrote before. I'm reminded of the reintroduction of one faction that only appeared in the corebook until several years ago because a fan inquired about hem and Siembieda had completely forgotten that they had existed at all, and then went on to address them in the fiction once he was thinking of them again.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
I always got the impression that most Ravenloft domains were pretty small, mostly howling wilderness with one or two towns and maybe a handful of villages and hamlets ginned up by the Dark Powers or hijacked from some other hapless campaign setting. Just enough to support a theme, and fill the fishbowl or snow globe of a Darklord's personal hell. Small enough that everyone can at least recognize everyone else, and have some connection to the poor bastard who got eaten by something the other month... and small enough for news of strangers to travel from one end of town to the other in a few hours at worst.

Well, except for poo poo like Azalin's original Domain. He was seriously powerful, and granted a similarly large realm.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

Alien Rope Burn posted:

So, do Coalition members play football, then? Do they know what football is? Or do they have a different sport with a linebacker position? Skullball?

Footskull.

PoptartsNinja
May 9, 2008

He is still almost definitely not a spy


Soiled Meat

Alien Rope Burn posted:

CTX-50 "Line Backer" Coalition Heavy Assault Tank

So, do Coalition members play football, then? Do they know what football is? Or do they have a different sport with a linebacker position? Skullball?

Nah, see. It backs up a line of infantry therefore it's a Linebacker! :pseudo:

:eng99:

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009
That Slayer APC is a vehicle I'd be all over as a PC. I kinda dig that they all have goofy skull faces, except the MK IX's looks a little too terified.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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

Bieeardo posted:

I always got the impression that most Ravenloft domains were pretty small, mostly howling wilderness with one or two towns and maybe a handful of villages and hamlets ginned up by the Dark Powers or hijacked from some other hapless campaign setting. Just enough to support a theme, and fill the fishbowl or snow globe of a Darklord's personal hell. Small enough that everyone can at least recognize everyone else, and have some connection to the poor bastard who got eaten by something the other month... and small enough for news of strangers to travel from one end of town to the other in a few hours at worst.

Well, except for poo poo like Azalin's original Domain. He was seriously powerful, and granted a similarly large realm.

Like essentially most domains would be just large enough for one horror movie to loop through it on repeat with just enough downtime for there to be a normalcy that could be disrupted. Vampires, werewolves, The Thing, a gory slasher, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc., one theme per domain.

It feels like trying to make the domains "coherent" states with governments, politics and economics kind of compromises the idea of Ravenloft.

Rand Brittain
Mar 25, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

PurpleXVI posted:

It feels like trying to make the domains "coherent" states with governments, politics and economics kind of compromises the idea of Ravenloft.

In one sense, yes, but I know the White Wolf version definitely tried to turn Ravenloft into a coherent setting so that you could play a long-term campaign there and not just feel like you were wasting your time trying to "fix" a place that's really just a horror movie playing on a loop.

"Ravenloft is a beautiful land. The forests are lush and gorgeous. The sky is a brilliant, unspoiled blue. The mountains are awe inspiring in their simple majesty. The rivers are clean and refreshing, and the air is crisp and sweet. Ravenloft is a land worth living in. It is a land worth fighting for. Donít surrender it to the night."

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

It's very much the starfish parable, you may not save everyone, but you save the ones you can and it makes a difference for them.

Pretty much especially for more populated domains, I would up population size tenfold, or just omit the information because that's not needed. Love the setting, bought the Tarokka cards on a whim - really nice art on those, but they go for some pretty high prices lately.

EDIT: to clarify I mean the 3e Tarokka, hadn't realize they put out a set for the Curse of Strahd Module for 5e.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Mordent
This is another of the high-tech Renaissance Domains. Mordent is a land of foggy moors, plains and swamps. It's full of empty manors and haunted ruins. The most infamous is The House on Gryphon Hill, where the ghost of Lord Wilfred Godefroy resides. Most of the population (a whopping 5 500! 99% human) lives along the coast. The Mordentish are simple, practical people who value tradition and are highly superstitious. They avoid the many haunted places that dot the land religiously. The ruler is the aging Lord Jules Weathermay, his family being the last survivor of the many noble houses that once lived there. His son-in-law, widower Daniel Foxgrove, is the mayor is the only major town, Mordentshire. His son George Weathermay wanders the Core hunting monsters and fighting evil, while his grand-daughters the Weathermay-Foxgrove twins (Gennifer and Laurie) seem to want to follow in Van Richten's footsteps. Mordent was where Van Richten lived before his disappearance, and the twins have taken over his old workshop and re-started printing his old monster Guides.

Necropolis
This used to be Il Aluk, the greatest city in Darkon. Except Azalin blew it up during his latest scheme. Every living person in the city was instantly killed and raised as undead. Anyone who enters the city instantly dies and becomes undead too. The dead have organized into a strange complex society, divided into strange sects and factions. The 26 800 dead who make the city their home revere their leader, a strange and powerful being known only as Death.




The Nocturnal Sea
The Nocturnal Sea is dangerous, the weather is violent and erratic and the water is full of shoals. The gray sky, constantly overcast, makes navigation difficult. The Nocturnal Sea is dotted with islands, though many of these are tiny and uninhabited. Known islands include Liffe, a rustic isle of farmers and musicians; sober Graben and Knammen; L'ile de la Tempete with its mysterious lighthouse; the ominous Isle of the Ravens; and frigid, forsaken Todstein. The population is once again laughably small. Liffe is ruled by Baron Evensong, a bard who prizes his island's independence. Graben and Knammen are ruled by the Grabens, a wealthy merchant family. The rulers of the other islands are shrouded in mystery.

Nova Vaasa
A large, flat country full of farmlands and ranches used to feed the overpopulated cities (some have as many as 16 000 inhabitants!). The "cities" are described as nightmares of dreadful urban squalor. The streets are filled with beggars and the ditches are full of plague-bloated corpses. The class divide is strong here. Five aristocratic families rule the realm: the Bolshniks, Chekivs, Hiregaards, Rivtoffs, and Vistins. The tiny aristocracy is extremely wealthy while the poor are hungry. Vice and crime are rampant. The realm is dominated by the church of the Lawgiver, which means rebellion is rare. The current ruler is Othmar Bolshnik, a vain and ruthless tyrant. Tradition dictates that rule switch from one noble family to the next every five year,s but Othmar has held onto for twenty-five years now. His only rival for power is the mysterious crime lord known as Malken. This shadowy figure controls all that happens in the underworld of the country, In the dark alleys, his words his law and not Othmar's. Malken has become a bogeyman to the poor of Nova Vaasa.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.

I seem to remember a stupid D&D fact that at one point Kobolds played a game called "Skull Skull". That seems like the sort of sport that the coalition could buy into.

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MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
Oh, I'm just gonna stop posting the population numbers because they're just... bad. The realm full of overcrowded cities has a total population of around 26 thousand.

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