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SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

theironjef, you've read the "Let's Read Terrible Star Wars Books" thread from tbb, right?

If not, here's the link (requires archives): https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3296954

EDIT: Dark Greetings to the page snipe

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 17:32 on Jun 14, 2017

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RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008

Lipstick Apathy

NGDBSS posted:

What were the issues with The Crystal Star, in short? I last read it and a number of other Star Wars novels almost two decades ago, and my sense of literary taste was considerably less developed then as a middle schooler. (The last time I paid serious attention to the EU was when the Hand of Thrawn novels came out, and even then there was just too much to keep up with.) At this point I only have a few pieces remaining - the Rogue Squadron set, mostly for Wraith Squadron, and a few anthologies one anthology which was refreshing in not focusing on the core film cast like nearly everything else (counterpoint: Rogue Squadron) did.

It's the one with Callista, the self-insert Mary Sue character that has a romantic fling with Luke Skywalker.

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011
I vaguely recall characters being digested but with the Force

That Old Tree
Jun 24, 2012

nah


I'm glad to hear Correct Opinions re: Timothy Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson. I was huge into Star Wars in middle and high school thanks to WEG Star Wars and Tales of the Jedi. Because I had just gotten the sourcebook for it, I read the Thrawn trilogy first and got really excited to read more…so I picked up the Jedi Academy set. That was still back when I'd finish any book or series I started no matter how much I hated it. gently caress Kyp Durron forever.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009






RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

It's the one with Callista, the self-insert Mary Sue character that has a romantic fling with Luke Skywalker.
Weren't there at least three novels in total that featured Callista? I also recall Children of the Jedi (which I never read) and Planet of Twilight (which I did read, but similarly long ago).

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable

SirPhoebos posted:

EDIT: Dark Greetings to the page snipe


I remember reading the books with this fucker right here. God they were so wonderfully awful.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008

Lipstick Apathy

NGDBSS posted:

Weren't there at least three novels in total that featured Callista? I also recall Children of the Jedi (which I never read) and Planet of Twilight (which I did read, but similarly long ago).

She's actually not in the Crystal Star, she is in Children of the Jedi, Darksaber, and Planet of Twilight. Two of those were written by Barbara Hambly, who is the creator of the character. Callista apparently goes on to get possessed or something by an evil force creature or something.

Wookieepedia posted:

Hambly also stated that she hadn't kept up with future novels featuring Ming, and while she had offered to write another novel featuring Ming at one point, she was rejected by Lucasfilm.

:perfect:

There's a number of SW authors who get obsessed with their characters, like Karen Traviss and the Mandalorians, and don't get asked back or quit because they can't write about how the Mandalorians are the true, noble heroes in Star Wars.

RocknRollaAyatollah fucked around with this message at 18:52 on Jun 14, 2017

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Cease to Hope posted:

I vaguely recall characters being digested but with the Force

It's the one where Luke ends up on a space station hanging around with a gross wet blob covered in gold scales that's sort of a force monster but really just an extradimensional entity (because Star Wars had been missing Cthulhu nonsense), while Leia is hanging around in a Imperial prison thing run by sexy cat people that the Emperor liked apparently. They are called Firrerreo. They have gold skin which turns silver when they're angry. They are maybe the lamest race created by an Expanded Universe author, but I'm leaving space there for the Yevethans (basically half-Cenobite, half-Githyanki).

I'm almost certain we'll do Courtship of Princess Leia next. Either that or the Lando trilogy with Vuffi Raa.

theironjef fucked around with this message at 19:04 on Jun 14, 2017

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.
There are so many Star Wars cat-people species. So many. Because no one can just say 'okay, this is the catpeople species', they've got to do their own space catgirls that are better than the other takes.

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011

unseenlibrarian posted:

There are so many Star Wars cat-people species. So many. Because no one can just say 'okay, this is the catpeople species', they've got to do their own space catgirls that are better than the other takes.

I think also because, besides KOTOR, every Star Wars story with cat people is obscure garbage nobody read or liked.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Night's Dark Masters

An awful lot of these rules only seem like they'd be important if you had a Vampire PC

Well, here it comes, the inevitable rules on how vampires feed, though I already told you the basics. Vamps generally feed on unwilling victims by making a Grapple check (WS to get into contact, Str vs. Str to control, which is kind of in the vampire's favor) and then biting the victim, doing d10+SB damage and draining d10 Str per round the vampire stays attached. The victims dies at 0 Str. Victims who survive heal 1% of their lost Str per hour. Vamps can also feed on willing victims, if they either have servants or they've convinced someone with their dramatic charms and fabulous posing. If this happens, no wounds are inflicted and the vamp roll 2d10 and picks which die to inflict, limiting the strength loss if they prefer to do less harm to their victim. If the dice come up doubles, the vamp can't restrain themselves and takes the whole total rolled from the victim instead. Vamps heal by 1 Wound per round/roll of drinking if they're heavily injured, d10 if they're not; if a vamp is wounded, don't let them bite someone.

Vamps that don't feed at their intervals have to make a WP test or go berserk with desire for blood. If they go temporarily mad, they have to seek and attack a victim as soon as possible. If they cannot find one, or succeed the check and continue to abstain, they lose d10 Strength until they feed. If a vamp loses all their Str, they go into torpor and recover Str at a rate of 1 point per year asleep. Vamps instantly recover 10 Str per round spent draining blood, too. A vamp who drops below 10% Str gains an Insanity point, as does one who fails the hunger check by 30 or more, and goes berserk, losing their mind until they probably come to covered in blood and having done something Very Unfortunate.

Vamps create new vamps by either convincing someone this is an excellent idea, then draining them near to death and feeding them the vampire's blood, or by skipping the convincing part and forcibly draining them near to death and force-feeding them. In general, the necessary thing is that the victim be nearly or completely exsanguinated and then given a bit of starter-blood by their new patron. The Blood Kiss, as vamps call it (It is one of very few subjects they seem embarrassed about and most vamps won't discuss it in polite company) is extremely painful to the victim, and a WP test is necessary to avoid gaining Insanity from it. A newly raised vamp still remembers who they were, and will be informed by it, but there are some fundamental changes to the person's character that come with losing any sort of normal human horror at violence and blood, not to mention now being driven by a desire to eat people. PCs who are given the Kiss are supposed to become NPCs, naturally, but again: Many of these rules are kind of irrelevant unless you're playing as a vampire.

And now the fun part: Weaknesses. Every vampire has six weaknesses, one of which will be the thirst for blood. We generally houseruled in that another was The Sun rather than leaving it to the vagueries of chance whether that would cause an individual vamp to catch fire, but that isn't the case RAW. The weaknesses are:

Barriers: You can't enter inhabited, lived in places without being invited. Combining this with a weakness to the sun can be very inconvenient. The book notes this is a typical weakness for Necharchs and one reason they tend to seek out ancient ruins and build towers to live in.

Counting: One, two, three rag-tag adventurers who think they can stop me, ah-ah-ah! Vampires with this weakness can be (as was traditional) stopped in their tracks by spilling a bag of coins or grains of rice, forcing the vampire to make a -10% WP test to avoid the compulsion to count it right now. Even if they succeed, as long as the uncounted objects remain in sight, the vampire takes -10% on all tests until they know exactly how many spilled coins there are.

Daemonsroot and Witchbane: Rare herbs and spell components can ward against vampires with this weakness. Vamps with this problem need a WP test to come within 2 yards of anyone or anything anointed with these herbs.

Fire: Being on fire is bad for any vampire, but one with this weakness cannot use their Toughness Bonus to reduce damage from any fiery attack. Bright Wizards love this one!

Garlic: Actually being vulnerable to a common seasoning like garlic will cause these vampires to be the butt of many jokes by their kin, and also cause them terrible nausea that gives them -20% to all tests if within 6 yards of garlic.

Gromril: A vampire vulnerable to the mighty dwarven Star-Metal will be unable to reduce damage from Gromril weapons with their TB. Given Gromril Weapons are extremely rare and expensive, but tend to be wielded by some of the best fighters in the Old World, this one can be killer.

Ithilmar: Some vampires can't take being touched by Elven Totally Not Mithril. If a vamp with this takes at least 1 Wound from an Ithilmar weapon, they have to make an Agi-10 test or catch on fire immediately. This is especially bad if combined with a weakness to fire.

No Reflection: Common among Von Carsteins, a vampire with this weakness cannot be seen in any reflective surface, making spotting them much easier for Hunters.

Religious Symbols: All vampires take increased damage from blessed weaponry, but a vampire with this weakness must make a WP test to approach someone holding or wearing a religious symbol. They must make a WP-20 test to enter holy ground or touch anything sacred, themselves. This applies to all religious symbols: A Khornate Warrior brandishing his sigil and screaming "BLOOD IS FOR THE BLOOD GOD, NOT FOR DRINKING!" will be just as effective as "THE POWER OF MYRMIDIA COMPELS YOU!"

Sawdust: Some vampires cannot stand to be reminded of the trappings of death and embalming. Vampires with this weakness must make a Terror test, not a Fear test (meaning it risks fleeing and insanity) when making contact with sawdust or embalming fluid, as it reminds them of their undead nature.

Silver: A vampire vulnerable to Silver takes an extra 3 Wounds any time they take damage from a silver or silver-plated weapon.

Stakes: If a vampire with this takes 1 Wound or more from a hit from a wooden stake, they cannot move. They can still act, but cannot actually move from the spot they're standing at the moment. This is one reason many Hunters love crossbows; the first shot can fix the vamp in place and the next few can kill it from a safe distance.

Sunlight: If caught in the sun without thick clothing, a parasol, lots of curtains on their coach, etc, a vampire takes 1 Wound per minute of exposure, halves all their stats while in sun, and must make a Toughness save at -10 or catch on fire. Do not go out without your full-body-covering gothic outfit in daylight. Dressing like a Bloodborne character is a survival strategy for most vampires who have to do anything in daylight, and this helps explain the preponderance of high collars and long coats in Sylvanian fashion.

Tears: Some unfortunate vampires are vulnerable to the tears of the pure and innocent. They are incapable of feeding on kindly and good people, and a room full of Shallyan sisters cutting onions is a nightmare to these unfortunate monsters. Perfect for an anti-hero who must, by their allergy alone, feed on the corrupt and criminal.

Warpstone: Moon Wizard Plutonium Cocaine is unsafe for everyone, but it's even moreso for these vampires. Vamps with this weakness cannot get within 6 yards of a hunk of Warpstone without a Fear test, and if they stay within that distance for more than an hour, must randomly reroll one weakness and one blood gift.

Running Water: Vamps with this drawback melt in running water, at a rate of d10 damage per turn. They need bridges, boats, or wings. Badly.

Next: How do vampires go crazy? Overdramatically, of course.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:47 on Aug 4, 2017

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

It's nine books long, but I would love it if you and Jon cover the Legacy of the Force arc. There's just something so :allears: about two terrible writers engaging in an authorial slap fight over whose pet character can beat up who.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

theironjef posted:

Heck yeah, but be warned we're doing this in chapters so it might be even slower than System Mastery.

The contract is sealed.

I'll send them when I have time, we're in no hurry.

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me

I got one of my friends to read Night's Dark Masters and he is already talking about doing a vampire game as soon as we finish a starter game to get used to the core rules.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

marshmallow creep posted:

I got one of my friends to read Night's Dark Masters and he is already talking about doing a vampire game as soon as we finish a starter game to get used to the core rules.

One caution is that they really are bullshit crazy powerful, for all their drawbacks. You essentially get an entire extra fighting career worth of stats on top of your human careers and the vampire careers, though it is made up for some by losing all Fate Points (trust me, you don't realize how much you rely on those until you play without them). But you know, after playing as rat catchers and inexplicably effective street urchins, sometimes being an over the top anti-hero (or villain) is really fun.

God, I can't wait until I get to the Skaven book. Playing as Skaven is basically Paranoia: Nimh Edition.

E: One of the big advantages of vamps, character-wise, is that when you're as arrogant and individualistic as they tend to be, it's absolutely fine to break type however you want. Who's going to stop you, the other, inferior Von Carsteins who can't understand why you're the best and your ideas about how to behave are great forever?

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 22:25 on Jun 14, 2017

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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



BOOK TWO: Part Five

Or

I took a long break just to come back to equipment/merchant tables.


Where I left off, I had just finished Advantage/Disadvantage Hell. Thereís not a lot left to this chapter and then thereís Mechanics Hell in the next chapter. So Iím in kind of a weird place to be returning to this game but whatever.

Fate Pool and Scripting Dice

The Fate Pool contains Fate Points which are spent to gain automatic successes on a one-to-one basis and you can only blow 3 at once and they get cancelled out by black die. If you have six Fate Points, you can cash those in for a Scripting Dice. The Scripting Dice is a no-bullshit fate-intervention thing. Because humans start with 7 Fate Points, they start play with a Scripting Dice. Everyone else has to work for that poo poo.

The Celestial Engine

You kids like alignments, donít you? Now, some of you may remember that the different subspecies have a Cog they start at; Harmony, Entropy 1 or Order 1. These actually reflect your alignment and the mechanical benefits that have not yet been explained but will be later. Your initial placement depends on your subspecies and any type of magic you know. Then, despite that, you can still choose to move your character one step closer to Entropy or Order. To give a light explanation, leaning towards Order gives benefits to things that would help society and Order-friendly magic, leaning towards Entropy gives benefits to things that help the individual and creativity and Entropy-friendly magic and both take penalties to certain things. Harmony means that there are no benefits but there are also no penalties. It is a metaphorical expression, you see.

Finishing Touches


Some of these things are not good character traits/some of these things just do not belong

Name, appearance, birthplace, age, personality, social ethics and contacts are what you need. Contacts are the only one that require any real explanation, vis-ŗ-vis how to get them. You start with Contacts equal to 1+Presence (if itís negative, you get no contacts). Your contacts are locked by your social class; 1 contact costs 1 point, anyone outside of your social class costs double points to establish. Theyíre basically a two-way street where you can ask for things but have to return the deed later. Alternately, you can establish a contact as owing you a Favor. Favors are half-price compared to a proper Contact but theyíre one use only. Also they donít have to be established in chargen, you can wait to declare them.




EQUIPMENT AND poo poo





Iím only going to be sharing the stuff thatís really interesting or not readily explained by the name.


Realtalk: I do not "get" old-style British currency and hewing to that model in a realistic manner is just one more annoyance for me. Don't loving @ me.

MELEE WEAPONS



Clockwork Chainsaw:
Itís a chainsaw! Itís clockwork! Actually itís powered by having quintessence pumped into the mechanism and was originally invented by Bernd Hess (not a real person) as a surgical tool. Thereís also a steam-powered chainsaw but theyíre less common and cost more. Either way, a chainsaw either needs to be mounted on a harness or a vehicle (?!). Because when I think Victorian Steampunk, I think two chainsaws mounted on the sides of a penny farthing. Wait that actually sounds good.

Life Preserver: Apparently this is slang for a sap due to the description that itís 18 inches long, leather and full of sand or gravel. This took me an inordinate amount of time to understand that this was not in fact a badly designed floatation safety device because the book does not loving spell out that itís a slang name. This weapon made me feel stupid and I hate it.

RANGED WEAPONS







Due to, and I poo poo you not, the off-handed mention that the Crimean War has actually run longer than it did in our world (citation loving needed for the rest of the book), firearms tech has stalled a little bit. Revolvers, pepperboxes, harmonica guns, ďVolcanic gunsĒ, shotguns, rifles and muskets are the most popular and common types of firearms. Aside from getting +1 to hit with rifles and muskets, hereís the most notable thing about the guns: the Gatling gun, this universe, was invented by Gatling to help the Allies turn the tide and win the Crimean War because he has many friends in Britain and France. Which is absolutely not where the Gatling gun comes from and is just an absolutely loving galling notion.



Cunning Man's Net Gun: This gun was never used by a Cunning Person; it was just inspired by their ability to capture enemies without killing them. It's a pistol loaded with an enchanted net that is an absolute pain to try to escape from.

Eldritch Pepperbox Pistol: In the hands of a normal person, this is just a pepperbox. In the hands of someone capable of using magic, they can load quintessence into the barrels at a rate of 2 quint per round and then shoot magic at people. It's also capable of firing all of the barrels at once when sufficiently loaded, plus the magic user can pre-load the barrels and hand it off to someone else to shoot. The average pistol has 4-6 barrels and each barrel fired at the same time adds 1 black dice as a penalty. If you really gently caress up firing the gun, the barrels can explode and hurt you.

Harmonica Gun: The Harmonica Gun is a gun with a horizontal slide that holds all of the bullets. They're cap guns that require a free hand to move the slide to the next bullet. Because of the weird stability from the slide being crammed through the gun, it inflicts a 2 black dice penalty to use. Upside: more bullets per slide.

Brick Gun: The Brick Gun is a modified harmonic pistol to have two barrels stacked on top of each other and two slides of bullets. It can be used for volley fire or single fire by only loading one slide at a time. It is also hilariously hard to use; 2 black dice because the slide is unwieldy, 3 black dice because volley fire is finicky and there's an additional 3 black dice penalty for every point of Strength below 3 due to how heavy and clunky the gun is.

Howdah Pistol: A large caliber pistol that straddles the line between sawn-off shotgun and big loving handgun. Ever play Uncharted? It's the Pistole. Originally invented in India for protection from animals, they're favored by Brits who feel the need to blow a hole in anything they aim at.

Tricolour Derringer: A modified derringer colored to look like the French flag and favored by revolutionaries. Has three barrels but you can only shoot two at once and comes with an attached set of brass knuckles and a knife for emergencies.

Volcanic Gun: Unfortunately, this is not a flamethrower or a lava-shooting gun. The Volcanic Gun (pistol or rifle) is made by the American Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. They're notable for being two things: the first gun in Victoriana to shoot with metal-jacketed bullets (which they call "rocketball bullets") and for being lever-action guns fed from a tube magazine. Also due to "limitations of the rocketball the damage of a Volcanic gun is less than comparable pistols and rifles". God only knows how true that is to real life, but look at what our weapons are loaded with these days.

Whitworth Firearms: Whitworth guns use "a better engineered barrel" and "hexagonal bullets" to shoot further at the cost of being more expensive. I don't really care to know how accurate or true that is, so I'm not going to say much more than it sounds like bullshit like hexagonal water.

ARMOR



Armor really has only one thing worth explaining and one rule worth mentioning: fine quality armor gives +1 to AV, poor quality halves the AV. Also people don't really walk around wearing armor in proper society but gently caress proper society says I.

Aetherweave: Aetherweave is enchanted thread that can be woven through regular clothing to add +2 AV...if you burn Quintessence to activate it, 1 Quint for Resolve rounds. Upside: stacks with other armor you're wearing, there exists a version that gives +4 AV for 2 Quint. Downside: requires Quintessence period to power.

NEXT TIME: Book III, the book about mechanics. It's going to take a very careful hand to balance between depth of material and making it interesting and all I have is a clenched fist.

Barudak
May 7, 2007

It is as your surmise, extremely bullshit regarding the various guns. Metal jacketed bullets dealing less damage though is one of those things you just accept for mechanical reasons like pistol damage being like rifle damage or shotgun pellets returning to their homeplanet the instant they are 5 meters from the gun barrell.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

Thank you for the info! Also an amendment: hexagonal bullets were apparently a real thing and so was the Whitworth Rifle. They were not used for any gun besides the Whitworth rifle and the Whitworth rifle was really just used by Confederate snipers and that's it. The gun was too expensive and prone to fouling the barrel so the British army stuck with the Enfield and Whitworth selling the gun to the Confederacy was its only use before retirement. So there's that.

It was also allegedly the gun responsible for the death of the guy who claimed "they couldn't hit an elephant" before he fell over dead and despite being a sniper rifle, the hexagonal grooving of the bullets caused the bullets to whistle loudly, which seems pretty counter intuitive!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Seven: "Desmond Bradford is himself a human aberration with a brilliant mind and imagination the likes of which the world sees only once every thousand years."


Twinkling eyes.

Desmond Bradford

We return to the amazing adventures of Administrator Desmond Bradford and Inspector Louis Emmerson, already in progress... okay. They're not amazing. And there's no adventure. There's three straight pages of Bradford being smug - the guy gets over six pages of details in fact, a level of focus that hasn't been given over to an NPC since A.R.C.H.I.E. He has more detail than most of the other Coalition leadership combined. Let's get a emoji than summarizes-

:circlefap:

- yeah. That'll do.

So Inspector Emmerson is bored as he waits to meet with Bradford for the last time. He's done inspecting and is pretty sure Bradford is insane and is just waiting to report that as he reads a magazine. What kind of magazines does the Coalition have, anyway? Most of the population explicitly can't read. Seems like a limited market. Maybe it's all just pictures and emojis.

Emmerson gets called into Bradford's office and is effusive about how awesome Lone Star is, but pointedly avoids approving of Bradford's methods. Bradford switches the subject and asks Emmerson what the perfect predator is- Emmerson answers maybe the lion, or sharks. Bradford points out that humans dominate the animal kingdom. Emmerson gives the usual reasons, that humans are smart, that they have thumbs and can use tools, but Bradford is like dolphins are smart and apes use tools, checkmate, son!

:cripes:

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

"I can see you are an educated man. You must have paid attention in Officer's School and even read some books, eh?" The Administrator rises from his chair, winks and continues.

:siren: KOJIMA-CLASS SCIENCE BULLSHIT INCOMING :siren:

Emmerson continues on to point out that humans build more sophisticated tools than apes, but Bradford is like shut up, science is wrong, only I know the truth. Emmerson is like wut and Bradford just goes off on how humanity is the ultimate predator because animal behavior is controlled by instincts genetically and can only do things that guide them towards survival, but humans aren't controlled by instincts and thusly can murder whoever they like for no reason. See, humans love confict - and more notably, winning conflicts, according to Bradford, and are willing to sacrifice anything for that. Civilization, in Bradford's mind, is only a means of controlling and directing humanity's violently competitive nature.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

"You," he coos like the cat who just ate the canary. "You, Inspector are a prime example. You find these little talks disturbing. Even hateful. I know. If you were a dog or even a Dog Boy, you wouldn't be stirred by these emotions. You'd simply accept me as your leader, and assume your position within the pack without anxiety or feelings of anger or resentment. But you're not a dog. You're human. And being the pathetic soldier boy you are, you look for direction ... 'words' and 'reason' to make sense of your actions. 'Slogans and patriotic sentiment' to justify your aggression and the killing. But that's okay. You cannot stop what you feel, it's part of human nature. In fact, I'd hazard to guess that if you did not have your self-imposed military code and protocol, and,... well, the fact that you fear me, you'd leap from your seat and try to tear my throat out."

Emmerson stews, and Bradford points out that though civilization is useful for that, he's in touch with his inner killer caveman and can go full sociopath when necessary, hint hint, Emmerson. Emmerson's like "well, I really should kill this guy, but I guess I'm a weak-willed dolt after all" and meekly ends the meeting.

We then get a report of how Emmerson and his transport were murdered by Juicer terrorists, with all sorts of evidence pointing to them. Then we switch to Joseph Prosek II reading the report, revealing that Emmerson was a agent of his all along. Prosek correctly assumes that Bradford is leaking illegal genetic experiments into the wilds, and sees right through Bradford's bullshit. Emmerson was supposed to help provide evidence, but the report of his taken from the wreckage is fairly obviously ghost-written (getit) by Bradford or one of his flunkies. Prosek is pretty frustrated at not having anything to pin on Bradford, but at least is able to come to a number of (absolutely correct) conclusions about what's going on here - that Bradford faked the Juicer attack to eliminate Emmerson and his findings.

Desmond Bradford
Administrator of the Lone Star Complex;
Doctor of Genetic Engineering and Cybernetics;
Head of the Genetics Engineering Division (GED) at Lone Star


So, it turns out Desmond considers himself above right and wrong and is a megalomaniac who considers Emperor Karl Prosek to be his only equal (and even that's a matter of debate). He thinks he's a god... no reason for this given... and mostly is just thankful for the position and authority that Karl Prosek gave him... the positionthat he constantly abuses. Mind, apparently he did an amazing job of getting it all up and running, as well as developing the first psi-hounds. If you're wondering why he's nuttier than a peanut farm, well, keep wondering, we just get to hear how crazy and brilliant he is and on and on and on-

-and on and on-

-and on-

:suicide:

Desmond has plans, we're told. He wants develop new mutant animals for the Coalition army that are as useful as the dog boys. He wants to understand genetics better and use it to improve human longevity. And lastly, he wants to develop M.O.M. and bionic technology further. Understanding human genetics - in Bradford's view - requires lots and lots of expendable test subjects, so he uses transients, criminals, and Indigeneous Americans... as fodder for his experiments. He knows that the Proseks wouldn't approve, but the "success" (ha ha, yeah, not exactly) of the Xiticix Killer has apparently ramped up his ambitions to create life because... he thinks he's a god... because.

:sigh:

There's another half-page on his "Disposition", let's see, he's the most brilliant man of the millennium and who doesn't have patience for those less intelligent than him (which is every unenhanced human on the planet, as it turns out). He's crazy and thinks he's a god, and if he's ever condemned by the Coalition he'll rebel against it, since about the only thing keeping him in line is the delusion that Karl Prosek is a godly peer. He can read and understand people on a level better than anybody "with the possible exception of some Mind Melters and psychic sensitives" and can second-guess people "nine times out of ten".

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

He is truly a master villain who is likely to avoid capture and return frequently to thwart his foes and extract vengeance. His only weakness is that all other mortals are beneath him and he sometimes underestimates them or overlooks the obvious.

:circlefap: :circlefap: :circlefap:

Well, we get a statblock, and if you might guess that it's some fuckin' bullshit by now, you'd guess correctly. Desmond has an I.Q. of 27 - the maximum you can roll is 24 - and no, he doesn't have anything that enables that. He's a 20th level Cyber-Doc (this class exists), a 20th level Genetic Engineer (this class does not exist), and a 10th level Administrator (this class does not exist). All his attributes are above-average except for his Physical Beauty (which is precisely average). He's strong-willed, charismatic, and... ripped? Well, Physical Strength of 19. He's ripped. Oh, and he's 69 but looks 35. Why? Well, he is. I mean, I guess after him having 50 class levels (well, maybe Cyber-Doc and Genetic Engineer are supposed to be the same class, so only a mere 30 class levels? maybe?), two classes with levels only immortals can normally obtain, and being more intelligent than any human on the planet that's just nitpicky to bring up, but gently caress it, my patience is out. But we're not done!

Next we get adventure notes on how to include him in your game, but-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Administrator Desmond Bradford is a nefarious character who the player group may never meet or confront directly (although it could happen). The reason is that Bradford rarely leaves the confines of the Lone Star Complex and because he is a mover and shaker from behind the scenes.

You did not just spew six pages of self-congratulatory garbage just to tell me-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

A direct meeting (confrontation) might occur...

Oh, good. We can actually use Desmond Bradford, supah genius. Wait, is that a good thing? Well, good or bad, we get some suggestions. First, PCs might run into him out in the field (either operating with a heavy military escort or operating incognito). He might be looking up mutants, D-bees, or the Gene Splicers (remember those untouchable GM wank toys from Mindwerks?). He might actually look to recruit the PCs for some scheme to eliminate an enemy, capture a creature, or destroy a creature. Of course, Siembieda has to rub in that the creature he's looking for is probably some waifish innocent to give the PCs googly eyes and be seen healing a child when they find it (seriously that is a suggestion). In case of the PCs not cluing in on Desmond's alignment, the idea should be rammed home at them between the eyes with a rocket hammer, apparently.

Somehow, we're not done! They might run into them if they raid or break into Lone Star, which is of course nearly impossible, we're reminded. But if the PCs pull it off "by miracle or magic" they can meet him. They are more likely to run into his schemes, though, and they might fight or aid escaped experiments. We are reminded at length what a great recurring villain he can be.

And I could stop there.

But let's get into the my scientific theory of Bradford. I'm pretty sure half of him comes from this guy-



- wait, no, wrong version, this guy-



- no, this guy-



Baxter Stockman, the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain featured in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness RPG. Unlike most of his animated counterparts, the original was a psychopathic megalomaniac focused on using tunneling robots to hold buildings hostage. From this we get most of Bradford's personality, though Stockman even at his most dangerous was never that competent. (Well, there was that time he got a near-invincible robot body, but generally speaking.) But in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness, we have another supergenius villain-



Handsome, ain't he? Doc Feral here is an upstanding citizen who gives to charities and is a really nice guy if you're human, and on the other side, he creates genetically mutated animals which he uses as slaves or worse. A profound specist, he sees mutant animals as just animals to be used and abused and uses slave collars to control them. Sound familiar? Bradford really just feels lie a melange of those two characters, which shouldn't be too surprising. After all, Lone Star is a throwback to Palladium's earlier After the Bomb RPG, a spinoff of - once again - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. In After the Bomb, you have the Empire of Humanity, a fascist empire that uses technology and mecha to oppress the mutant animals (i.e. nonhumans) of the setting. In other words, they're a direct precursor to Rifts' Coalition. In addition, they have the puppet state of New Kennel, which is populated by mutant dogs... which are direct precursors to Rifts' dog boys.

I've talked about how Rifts really is just a pile-up of Siembieda and Wujcik's old ideas, and so it shouldn't be shock that Siembieda is now just going back to the well that he's the main writer on the series. We'll see some more... original stuff from him in the near future, but that'll be another fine kettle of fish.

And, geez, I could go on about the issues I have with the ideas of Nazi science exceptionalism and the stereotype of the Nazi regime being a collection of utter lunatics (the fact that they weren't is, if anything, the worst part). But this has gone on more than long enough for one part of a book. Yes, I know Bradford is black, but the Coalition is a deliberate parallel to various Nazi notions. Like Erin Tarn, he could be a fine character under a better writer, an example of the how little control the Coalition actually has at its edges, a dyed-in-the-wool Coalition monster to oppose. But... a lot of the unfortunate media stereotypes still apply, and Siembieda's writing on this section I find absolutely insufferable. Speaking of which, though-

Next: A Nazi parade in Texas.

echopapa
Jun 2, 2005

El Presidente smiles upon this thread.

theironjef posted:

They are maybe the lamest race created by an Expanded Universe author, but I'm leaving space there for the Yevethans (basically half-Cenobite, half-Githyanki).

Apart from the literal mermaids and the literal centaurs. (Which I always use as NPCs because itís easy to find character art for them.)

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

The Crimea War lasting longer causes a delay in gun development is bull-loving-poo poo. If you look at the history of armaments from pikes to ICBMs, War creates a constant back and forth of weapon and defense developments, because when do you need better guns? When you need to shoot someone in the face for Queen and Country

Barudak
May 7, 2007

Civil War going on a few years? Better develop repeating rifles with magazine clips and ironclad warships to ensure faster wholesale death.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009
An industrial demand for slaughter does do wonders for new murder implements.

And who the hell thought of a chainsaw when it comes to surgery? Is it surgery on bigfoot?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Cassa posted:

An industrial demand for slaughter does do wonders for new murder implements.

And who the hell thought of a chainsaw when it comes to surgery? Is it surgery on bigfoot?

Granted, lot of Civil War surgery pretty much was amputations by the truckload, so something that can very quickly cut through bone would be of interest.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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



BOOK THREE: Part One

Or

Bad Dice Systems

Or

It's amazing what you can do when you start minmaxing and then decide to just go off the loving rails


Welcome to Mechanics Hell! This is going to be a short installment and look into Mechanics Hell because these made me so angry that it lead to me engaging in bullshit to gently caress with the system. Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?

Victoriana 3e uses what is called the Heresy System. This is the streamlined version. There are still 40 some-odd pages here. In a nutshell, here are the rules of rolling:
  • Dice pool are assembled and rolled from Skill+Attribute. Pretty standard for d6 systems.
  • A 1 or a 6 on a dice is a success. Kind of an odd way of doing it but sure, this is also pretty standard.
  • Any 6 can be rerolled for a shot at another success. Whoa there, down this way lies madness and shenanigans.
  • You need, on average, 2 successes to do a thing successfully. The GM is allowed to count 1 success as a partial success.
The problems in this system are kind of obvious, aren't they? Assemble a big enough pool and get successes for days!

Hi and welcome to Black Dice, population of gently caress You.
  • Black Dice are rolled after the whole pool has been rolled and added depending on difficulty or modifiers. The player's pool is never shrunk, the Black Dice are just pooled together and rolled.
  • A 1 or a 6 on a Black Dice removes a previously generated success.
  • Unlike normal dice, a 6 on a Black Dice does not explode.
  • Difficulties tend to come in installments of 3.
It's time. For MATH. And also basic probability being broken down.
  • There's a 1-in-3 shot at getting a success on a regular dice. For every three dice, you get on average one success.
  • There is a 1-in-6 chance of an explosion (16% chance) and a further 1-in-6 chance of another 6 (for a total 2% chance of a second success).
  • Conversely, there is a 1-in-3 shot of getting a success snatched from your hands.
  • Due to the fact that Black Dice come in threes, you will on average lose 1 success per level of difficulty.
Let's take a look at the difficulty chart then, for the sake of fairness.



Hmm. Well I can't say I'm really much of a fan of this structuring, plus these seem rather arbitrary. Oh wait hold on a second, there are further rules.
  • "Most Difficulties fall between Average and Incredibly Difficult. Higher difficulties should be reserved for seasoned players as beginners would not be expected to make them." Alright so on average you're losing up to 3 successes per roll, which is...problematic for victory.
  • "Regardless of difficulty, some Adventurers are so skilled in certain areas that an Average or even Difficult tasks are very easy for them. When performing a task, an Adventurer always has the option of trading 3 dice in their pool away for a single success. She can do this as many times as she has multiple of 3 dice. Thus, an Adventurer with a dice pool of 6 can automatically succeed Average tasks." Alright it's nice that there's the ability to take-ten for certain things, this sounds pretty reli-
  • "While automatic successes don't negate black dice, they can negate them, although this often requires very large dice pools" oh




Let's skip the rules for extra degrees of success and the rules for opposed rolls (both sides roll their own dice pools plus they each have the same Black Dice pools of penalties, winner is the one with highest total successes) and the rules for group rolls (helpers roll just the Skill and add their successes to the leader). We have a problem here. No matter what you do, the Black Dice are beholden to random probability. It's nice that you can just guarantee the minimum successes, but what is an average dice pool?



oh

FURTHER RULES
  • You can add a second skill to a roll if it's complimentary. Wits+Medicine+Science (Biology) is the example the book uses.
  • If you have more Black Dice successes than regular successes, that's a foul failure.
  • Retrying a check adds +1 Black Dice per success due to frustration.
The problem with this system is an extrapolation of the classic oWoD "too many dice" problem. The system, essentially, punishes attempting to punch above your weight. It's not hard to succeed on something Average. The problem is that the system encourages diminishing returns of results for trying to do anything difficult. Complimentary Skills are good, but they're not always guaranteed. Take combat, for example. You can't generally add another skill onto whatever it is you're doing. Also, six dice pools just don't cut it because they don't stand up to anything greater than Difficult tasks due to the fact that Black Dice must get rolled. The safest thing to do is to just do whatever you're comfy with, that's the way you ensure victory, and don't take risks.

Don't believe me? Let's take a look at the premade character that was made in the chargen chapter.



Meet Sir William! He's a Spy! Isn't that exciting? He has Glib which means he gets +1 to social rolls to lie. Beautiful/Handsome means he gets +1 dice to social situations where his beauty is appreciated. Also he has a whole bunch of Specializations which is a fancy way of saying "skills that cannot be used untrained, they are not bonuses to certain skills". What does that mean in motion?
  • William has a 5 dice pool to use that sword and 4 dice pool to using that gun.
  • His Charm pool is 6, but his Act and Perception is 5 and Empathy, Etiquette, Conversation, Disguise, Streetwise and Pick Locks pools are all 4.
  • William is an awful Spy. He is really only guaranteed to Charm on average. Everything else means that he on average will squeak by with a partial success.
  • A Difficult Challenge is too spicy for 75% of what William can do and he is at a pool size and probability disadvantage to try to attempt them if he can't mash them together with the Complimentary Skills rule.
The game believes you should not try to game the system. Well, this is what happens if you don't. Your player character is unreasonably substandard at their core job and their reason for being.

So what happens if we do game the system?

Well it started with wanting to make an idiotic inbred useless aristocrat but, uh, it took a magical turn when I kind of ran out of things to buy to do that. One would argue that I completely and utterly failed to do that to begin with and instead went off in a much better direction.

Let's say hello to Fopsworth Chindribble.




For starters, Fopsworth is a Beastman Hybrid and has the eyes of a fox. In turn, he gains the Silver Tongue ability which means that Fopsworth has a reduction of up to 3 Black Dice per every social attempt to lie to someone or make them do something they don't want to do. That's all that happens from Beastman Hybrid. Fopsworth is an Upper Class Human which means he went to a good school and he learned about politics and in fact did quite well with them. As a Human, he gets 1 extra point to assign to Attributes and he also starts with 7 in his Fate Pool. These are immediately used to bump Presence and Wits up to the maximum human value of 3 for starting characters.

Hey kids, let's take a brief detour to a magical land where I'm not minmaxing. Say we're making a regular character. Here are two important things to know:
  • 1: the best an Attribute generally is for a subspecies is +3 or +4 if they're really good at it. Some of them are +5. The ones that are +5 generally have major drawbacks like Ogres.
  • 2: the cap of a starting skill for a character is 4.
  • On average, someone willing to specialize in a few skills will start play with 7 or 8 dice in the pool for that skill. Someone who wants to do a bit of everything is at 5 or 6. The people in the latter are in a place of disadvantage because specialization is what pays the bills and gets the kills.
Fopsworth gets a 4 in every skill he puts points into except History which gets a 1 and honestly this is also including points that get allocated for Talents and stuff. Speaking of! Fopsworth has 4 talent slots. Two of those go to Glibness, meaning he has +2 to lying. The other two go to Natural Charisma. Natural Charisma 1 means Fopsworth gets a reduction of 2 Black Dice to social situations. Natural Charisma 2 removes the dice reduction and instead the Black Dice of the next lowest level are used.

Fopsworth can now regularly lie at a Very Difficult level with absolutely no penalty. He can now take good punches at Incredibly Difficult lies. In fact because I wanted to get him some more points, I gave him Zealot which gives 3 Black Dice in a situation where people don't believe in equality and a government that helps the people. Nothing in this book says that Natural Charisma doesn't apply here, nor that lying through your teeth to people you disagree with doesn't either. I got free points, sunk some in skills, and then I got bored.

So I gave him combat proficiency to boot, a magical ancestral sword and because Fopsworth has the money to get good armor, he does. Yes he's a layabout socialite. He also has a magical sword that gives him +3 to Swordplay rolls and he has +4 to Swordplay. His Swordplay pool is 8, meaning that if someone tries to kill him for his beliefs, he has a good chance of fighting back in a civilized form of self defense.

Oh did I mention that I gave him +4 to Politics? Because I did. And I would argue that good politics is knowing how to get people to act against their own self interests. I would also argue that Politics and Charm are a great way of getting people to vote Labour (or we can be cynical and say Politics and Bull) and that they are complimentary.

William's Charm Pool is 6. He can easily succeed at Average social things.

Fopsworth's Politics+Charm pool is 13; 3 for his Presence, 4 for Politics, 4 for Charm, 2 for Glib. He has -3 to all Black Dice penalty for lying/convincing people to do things they don't want to, and Fopsworth also treats penalties as one step less. Very Difficult political arguments are no problem for him. He wins very handily. In fact, Fopsworth has a pretty good chance of taking a punch at Extremely Difficult political argument rolls (6 Black Dice are a threat he can deal with). Hell by all metrics, he should be a complete black sheep and people should be like "dear god, an upper class Beastman?!". He can very easily smooth over any racism or social faux-pas by A: lying and saying "I'm not a fox man" or B: flying into political oration.

For the record, I didn't even finish his character sheet. I just got the point where I realized my attempt to make a Furry Bruce Wayne instead resulted in Socialist Sword-fighting Foxman and decided to just call this character done and perfect.

Thoughts: There are substantial issues with the dice mechanics. It is incredibly satisfying and fun to break the problems over your knee and then accidentally find the gooey caramel center in the process.

NEXT TIME: we return to Mechanics Hell proper.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 07:55 on Jun 15, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

when I get back from origins I will regale you all with the game I bought thinking it was about dragons having dragon adventures

Spoilers a major mechanic is FRIENDSHIP STONES

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo

Mors Rattus posted:

when I get back from origins I will regale you all with the game I bought thinking it was about dragons having dragon adventures

Spoilers a major mechanic is FRIENDSHIP STONES

I am here at Origins with Mors and have heard the highlights of this game it is loving magical

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

Mors Rattus posted:

when I get back from origins I will regale you all with the game I bought thinking it was about dragons having dragon adventures

Spoilers a major mechanic is FRIENDSHIP STONES

Is this in a good way or a bad way.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Night10194 posted:

Is this in a good way or a bad way.

The pronoun for dragons is dre

Don't forget about dre

Because the book sure won't let you

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
I am excited for friendship times.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

Mors Rattus posted:

The pronoun for dragons is dre

Don't forget about dre

Because the book sure won't let you

This is gonna be epic. :allears:

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
I had friendship stones once. Super painful.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Mors Rattus posted:

The pronoun for dragons is dre

Don't forget about dre

Because the book sure won't let you

All dragons are ?

I can see it honestly.

thatbastardken
Apr 23, 2010

A contract signed by a minor is not binding!

Cassa posted:

An industrial demand for slaughter does do wonders for new murder implements.

And who the hell thought of a chainsaw when it comes to surgery? Is it surgery on bigfoot?

the chainsaw was literally invented for surgery

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Yeah, the dragon game sure felt like a bait and switch.

Also, Rifts updates will continue tomorrow - they just got lost in the pre-con shuffle.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.

Mors Rattus posted:

The pronoun for dragons is dre

Don't forget about dre

Because the book sure won't let you

That would imply that dragons only have one gen...

I'll, I'll just wait for the write up.

Barudak
May 7, 2007

Mors Rattus posted:

The pronoun for dragons is dre

Don't forget about dre

Because the book sure won't let you

Guess Ill have to name my martial dragon hunter Mathers.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007



Mors Rattus posted:

The pronoun for dragons is dre

Don't forget about dre

Because the book sure won't let you

gently caress Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')

Barudak
May 7, 2007

The villain speaks to them, "And what of the other dre, what do they say about me?" the heroes begin to yell and shout but he cuts them off immediately "They say nothing, you fools! The dre are dead, and locked in this very castles dungeon"

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Cassa
Jan 29, 2009

thatbastardken posted:

the chainsaw was literally invented for surgery

That's terrifying.

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