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Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

If there's one thing the world needs right now, it's another copy of The Same loving Beast Conversation in case all the ones here disappear.

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DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


It's a joke about Steam being dumb, people.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Someone actually linked the Inklesspen mirror of my Beast review in an rpg.net thread, and someone else tore into me for being too negative about a book i clearly hated.

One of the responses to him was something to the effect of "He wasn't even handed towards the book that he felt attacked by? Amazing."

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



DalaranJ posted:

It's a joke about Steam being dumb, people.

shhh

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kurieg posted:

One of the responses to him was something to the effect of "He wasn't even handed towards the book that he felt attacked by? Amazing."
I read that sentence like five times before I realized you meant "even-handed" with the hyphen.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



All you need is a tag that says [Heartbreaker] and youve basically categorized everything

Terratina
Jun 30, 2013


Y'know, on the topic of 3.Xe fantasy heartbreakers, I'd be tempted to do a write up of Fantasy Craft but I've not had that much experience with it.

And no, I am not tempted to try and get a game of it going again <.<

Terratina fucked around with this message at 20:03 on Sep 28, 2017

White Coke
May 29, 2015


open_sketchbook posted:

@GimpInBlack, I'm just letting you know that I'm using your review as a jumping off point for a bullet-point list of stuff to do for a Revised Patrol. I'm not starting that project, but I want to keep it in mind and build something compatible with all the previous rules, but better organized, better laid out, and more expansive. See if I can't cut down the core rules volume by about half while preferably doubling the background information, and doing a lot more research into the NVA and locals. What I really need to do is find a Vietnamese speaker to help me go through some sources from the other side I could only skim with autotranslate before; its basically impossible to give a nuanced view of a conflict with information from only one tiny chunk of one side...

I have a terrible tendency to keep fiddling with my rules forever; PATROL was definitely a case of a game being released rather than being done, and I still spent a year and sixteen versions changing it after that. That's why the game has so many editors: I kept having to bug new people into reading through it after I changed it, moved stuff around, and rewrote whole pages. It's a total mess.

Good luck on PATROL Second Edition.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

gradenko_2000 posted:

EDIT: I am turning into That Guy that writes strongly worded emails about System Mastery reviews:

Average humans are going to have 1 Action per half-second impulse, or 4 Actions per 2-second Phase.

It costs 1 Action to move 1 hex in a Running Stance. That's 4 hexes per Phase. A hex is 2 yards across, so you can run at the rate of 4 yards per second. That's 25 seconds to run a 100-yard dash, which is just about bang-on for average human performance.

A 3d6 roll creates an approximate Gaussian probability distribution, which is what most human capabilities are distributed as: normal or log-normal. As long as the capabilities are pegged to the characteristics in a sensible manner, it makes a lot of sense.

It's also worth keeping in mind that Phoenix Command, which Living Steel is based on, was intended as a slot-in system for handling firearms combat, so it uses 3d6 stats not just because that's what D&D does, but because that's what D&D does: If you want to use Phoenix Command to properly model the effects of .455 Webley at 40 yards to the thigh bone of a Deep One in CoC, it helps if the attributes are on the same scale.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


senrath posted:

Four is the baseline, so Shirren have a bonus of 2 and the rats have a penalty of 2.

Also it's not per level, it's once. The racial bonus to Hit Points applies only at first level, after that only the class HP matters.

Yeah, I was just speaking relatively, and I worked that out later but somehow it got left in, so I corrected the post.

Kurieg posted:

I think the book says there can be non-human-ish androids but they've kind of evolved culturally into what they are now due to them being lost technology from Golarion.

That was a goof of mine, yeah. I went back and fixed that too.

Kurieg posted:

The world that the Witchwyrds selected for them was 400 light years away and they hadn't invented FTL travel yet, so their giant colony ship was also a sleeper ship, when they arrived and it was already colonized their response was a pragmatic "Well this is our holy land, we should take it back by force! Unfortunately there are those giant lizard men with plasma axes over there so let's just park ourselves in orbit and call it good."

It's certainly likely that the witchwyrds' knowledge of Akiton (the planet in question) was hosed by The Gap (not the store). But the book, uh, doesn't give much much more than a sentence or two of throwaway details about the witchwyrds, so we don't get much detail on the decision-making process, why they thought Akiton was the hot place to be, or why they're generating races 400 light years away from Golarion. Could be all the answers are in Pathfinder's Golarion material, but I'm trying to read this book as it stands on its own.

I do worry the answers to a lot of things as time goes on will be given a big shrug and "Uh, the Gap...? Not the store..."

inklesspen posted:

This kind of stuff is nice in theory but I know for a fact that what will happen is I get emailed by people who want to fight over whether their favorite space furry libertarian game deserves the [NOTHING WORKS LIKE THAT] tag or not.

Yeah, I admit I'm not eager to rate / classify reviews, given the dumbstorm that could come with it... and reviewing reviews... seems a bit... naveley to me. Putting up a short description of the game being reviewed probably wouldn't hurt. Probably. :raise:

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



gradenko_2000 posted:

EDIT: I am turning into That Guy that writes strongly worded emails about System Mastery reviews:

Average humans are going to have 1 Action per half-second impulse, or 4 Actions per 2-second Phase.

It costs 1 Action to move 1 hex in a Running Stance. That's 4 hexes per Phase. A hex is 2 yards across, so you can run at the rate of 4 yards per second. That's 25 seconds to run a 100-yard dash, which is just about bang-on for average human performance.

It's fine, we know. Basically one week is insufficient time with a book like Living Steel to be able to correctly and comprehensively vomit back out the details exactly as they are in the book (and worse, doing that is never funny, and our audience wants funny), but we go in blind. Had I known what this book was I would have just shelved it and moved on to something with a longer story in it.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

I do worry the answers to a lot of things as time goes on will be given a big shrug and "Uh, the Gap...? Not the store..."

The Gap is basically the Starfinder version of Eberron's Mournlands. Asking any god about it gets the divine equivalent of "ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE HERE" and it's the worlds easiest excuse for wanting to introduce any weird thing you want. "Oh it's obviously something from before the Gap."

If people try to use divination magic to find out about Golarion, even from the goddess that's basically all about Golarion, the best response they get is "It's fine wherever it is stop asking or bad poo poo will happen to you."

Dareon
Apr 6, 2009


Subjunctive posted:

According to the Starfinder bulk rules, the mousefolk can put a cubic foot in each cheek. Unfortunately they do not provide appropriate art.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




theironjef posted:

It's fine, we know. Basically one week is insufficient time with a book like Living Steel to be able to correctly and comprehensively vomit back out the details exactly as they are in the book (and worse, doing that is never funny, and our audience wants funny), but we go in blind. Had I known what this book was I would have just shelved it and moved on to something with a longer story in it.
I was going to ask this on Afterthought but I'll just ask it here instead: you and Jon reviewed Vampire only after you'd already reviewed quite a few games that were World of Darkness, or White Wolf, or games that would never have existed if the writers hadn't been inspired by what White Wolf was doing. Now that you've read Vampire, did it change your perspective, or give you additional insight, into that big-tent genre of dark modern urban fantasy games?

(I feel like White Wolf's influence was not even as much creating a genre as a publishing model, as they practically invented splatbooks and metaplot to sell through the "supplement treadmill.")

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Putting up a short description of the game being reviewed probably wouldn't hurt. Probably. :raise:

I'd be down with that, but who's going to write them?

Anyways I think I'm caught up with the thread except for whoever's doing the skaven review. I think I still need to get that archived.

inklesspen fucked around with this message at 22:08 on Sep 28, 2017

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Halloween Jack posted:

I was going to ask this on Afterthought but I'll just ask it here instead: you and Jon reviewed Vampire only after you'd already reviewed quite a few games that were World of Darkness, or White Wolf, or games that would never have existed if the writers hadn't been inspired by what White Wolf was doing. Now that you've read Vampire, did it change your perspective, or give you additional insight, into that big-tent genre of dark modern urban fantasy games?

(I feel like White Wolf's influence was not even as much creating a genre as a publishing model, as they practically invented splatbooks and metaplot to sell through the "supplement treadmill.")

Actually that's a darn good question, which I think we can address in an upcoming episode, since we're in White Ween again.

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!


inklesspen posted:

I'd be down with that, but who's going to write them?

Anyways I think I'm caught up with the thread except for whoever's doing the skaven review. I think I still need to get that archived.

I'd be fine with putting up some descriptive, objective(i.e. sci-fi, furry, alt history, etc.) tags for my reviews, as well as short descriptions. In most cases the best person for it would probably be whoever did the review, if they're still around.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


[Existentialist Furry Space NATO]

I might have to try Patrol some time for the same kind of 'Everything about being in this kind of conflict sucks' game, without the space or existentialism.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kurieg posted:

The Gap is basically the Starfinder version of Eberron's Mournlands. Asking any god about it gets the divine equivalent of "ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE HERE" and it's the worlds easiest excuse for wanting to introduce any weird thing you want. "Oh it's obviously something from before the Gap."

Well, I think it's really ham-handed compared to the Mournlands, but it's a little early to be getting into a big background discussion.

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.

The thing is, the Mournlands is an opportunity for adventure. There's weird poo poo going on there that you can investigate- secret abandoned labs, robot racists building an army, living spells, etc. There's stuff you can -do- related to the Day of Mourning, even if no one knows what caused it. The Gap is...just an excuse to not write future history.

unseenlibrarian fucked around with this message at 23:14 on Sep 28, 2017

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


True enough, yeah.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



unseenlibrarian posted:

The thing is, the Mournlands is an opportunity for adventure. There's weird poo poo going on there that you can investigate- secret abandoned labs, robot racists building an army, living spells, etc. There's stuff you can -do- related to the Day of Mourning, even if no one knows what caused it. The Gap is...just an excuse to not write future history.

I've also played in a game where the whole point of the campaign was figuring out what happened on the Day of Mourning. It's a good question well worth finding out the answer to and a whole lot of things it could be. The Day of Mourning was also a huge and important event in Eberron history and everyone understands very well the consequences and what happened on the Day of Mourning even if the incident itself is shrouded in mystery.

It sounds like the Gap is not used so well.

Precambrian
Apr 30, 2008



Mouseman having a gun shoved up his mouth for dramatic reveals is so hilariously stupid that I can't help but call it amazing. Somebody should bolt that onto the Skaven, so they can be super treacherous and then accidentally blow their own heads off without warning.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Precambrian posted:

Mouseman having a gun shoved up his mouth for dramatic reveals is so hilariously stupid that I can't help but call it amazing. Somebody should bolt that onto the Skaven, so they can be super treacherous and then accidentally blow their own heads off without warning.

Their teeth chatter when terrified.

*Chatterchatterclickbangsqueak*.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

Ask me about mapping out all the best limousine routes in Moscow for you and the little miss ;)

Lipstick Apathy

Night10194 posted:

[Existentialist Furry Space NATO]

isn't that Albedo?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


gradenko_2000 posted:

isn't that Albedo?

Yep! That's what I called it when I was writing the review and it would make a great tag.

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




Precambrian posted:

Mouseman having a gun shoved up his mouth for dramatic reveals is so hilariously stupid that I can't help but call it amazing. Somebody should bolt that onto the Skaven, so they can be super treacherous and then accidentally blow their own heads off without warning.

Paizo has something of a history of hilariously stupid things buried in piles of just plain stupid things. Like the feat that lets you bust through a door, window, or wall so hard you scare everyone around you, including yourself.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


open_sketchbook posted:

@GimpInBlack, I'm just letting you know that I'm using your review as a jumping off point for a bullet-point list of stuff to do for a Revised Patrol. I'm not starting that project, but I want to keep it in mind and build something compatible with all the previous rules, but better organized, better laid out, and more expansive. See if I can't cut down the core rules volume by about half while preferably doubling the background information, and doing a lot more research into the NVA and locals. What I really need to do is find a Vietnamese speaker to help me go through some sources from the other side I could only skim with autotranslate before; its basically impossible to give a nuanced view of a conflict with information from only one tiny chunk of one side...

I have a terrible tendency to keep fiddling with my rules forever; PATROL was definitely a case of a game being released rather than being done, and I still spent a year and sixteen versions changing it after that. That's why the game has so many editors: I kept having to bug new people into reading through it after I changed it, moved stuff around, and rewrote whole pages. It's a total mess.

Oh cool! I will try to make my commentary useful, then. :) Also, feel free to ping me directly if you want to chat about this stuff without wading through all the "GimpInBlack explains the game" bits. I don't have PMs here, but you can email me at my user name at gmail.

unseenlibrarian posted:

The thing is, the Mournlands is an opportunity for adventure. There's weird poo poo going on there that you can investigate- secret abandoned labs, robot racists building an army, living spells, etc. There's stuff you can -do- related to the Day of Mourning, even if no one knows what caused it. The Gap is...just an excuse to not write future history.

But history sections are almost inevitably the most boring parts of sci-fi/fantasy games, so....

(Seriously though, this sounds like some JJ Abrams Mystery Box nonsense.)

GimpInBlack fucked around with this message at 07:58 on Sep 29, 2017

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




I'm really digging what I'm reading about Patrol and I'll definitely back a Kickstarter campaign towards a new version.
If you were so inclined.

open_sketchbook
Feb 26, 2017

the only genius in the whole fucking business

It would probably be at least a year away; I have a couple games I want to get done first. I doubt I'd run a Kickstarter though; I don't really need funds for anything because I use public domain resources to make the art, and I'd feel kinda lovely about asking people to pay me money to do stuff like buy research materials I would want to read anyway, and covering print costs is just a preorder which is kinda gross? The only thing I'd really see counting would be paying to hire a professional editor to unfuck my poo poo, but that's only a necessity because of my own personal failings to words like a human so it's crappy to expect people to pay for that.

IDK. I've been trying to get the motivation together to run a kickstarter for one of my RPG projects for literally years now and I keep backing out because it just feels too awful.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





open_sketchbook posted:

It would probably be at least a year away; I have a couple games I want to get done first. I doubt I'd run a Kickstarter though; I don't really need funds for anything because I use public domain resources to make the art, and I'd feel kinda lovely about asking people to pay me money to do stuff like buy research materials I would want to read anyway, and covering print costs is just a preorder which is kinda gross? The only thing I'd really see counting would be paying to hire a professional editor to unfuck my poo poo, but that's only a necessity because of my own personal failings to words like a human so it's crappy to expect people to pay for that.

IDK. I've been trying to get the motivation together to run a kickstarter for one of my RPG projects for literally years now and I keep backing out because it just feels too awful.
Don't put yourself down so hard. It would be no great sin to whip up a couple of grand for a project like this.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

Ask me about mapping out all the best limousine routes in Moscow for you and the little miss ;)

Lipstick Apathy

Needing an editor isn't exactly a symptom of "writing bad enough that my work needs an editing pass". Everyone needs an editor.

I like Patrol and I like Hell on Treads, and I'd support more products out of Newstand Press.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Nessus posted:

Don't put yourself down so hard. It would be no great sin to whip up a couple of grand for a project like this.


gradenko_2000 posted:

Needing an editor isn't exactly a symptom of "writing bad enough that my work needs an editing pass". Everyone needs an editor.

I like Patrol and I like Hell on Treads, and I'd support more products out of Newstand Press.

100% all of this, especially the editor part. Editors are vital to the process of writing--when you've been neck-deep in your own work for months on end, it becomes literally impossible to see where mistakes have crept in. Like, your brain genuinely stops parsing the actual words on the page and starts parsing what you meant to write, because our brains are lazy fuckers and they like to cheat. A good editor is a vital part of the creative process, especially on a text as long, iterative, and organizationally complex as a tabletop RPG. That's true no matter how talented a writer you are--and you're pretty drat talented.

TL;DR: Typos don't make you a bad writer--if they did, I'd have been fired a decade ago. :)

Also, I know a bunch of folks who do freelance editing for games--if you do decide to go forward with this project, I'd be happy to put you in touch with some very talented folks.

open_sketchbook
Feb 26, 2017

the only genius in the whole fucking business

Thanks all. I think it's just a symtom of having stared at the darn game for so long; working on something for months and years has a way of obliterating the joy you feel about your achievements and cool ideas, leaving only the mistakes and oversights glaring in your face.

Patrol was super weird because it is not a joke to say that the core of the system (the dice mechanic, turn length, status effects, doubt system, basic equipment, and fatigue penalty) came together in 45 minutes from absolutely nothing (like, I was talking with my playtesters about dice systems and the entire core of the game hit me like a thunderbolt) and was playtested that night, and the excitement over how that went sustained the development process from that point.

But its really exhausted to grind through the... busywork? of a system. The words to define what a Unit is and what a Turn is and stressing over the exact math and reading piles of reports to try and figure out if Medium range should be 100, 150, 200, or 250 meters... bleh. There's like a critical mass of game size where something goes from easy and fast to a neverending nightmare, which I think lies around 30-40 A4 pages. The initial burst of goodfeels from a solid concept can sustain me for about that long, and after that hatred for my own work has set in and I have to finish it despite wanting to just throw it out. I know that's true, and I've still chucked three of four games which reached that 30-40 page range.

The pinned tweet on my twitter for a few months while I finished Patrol was "This Vietnam War game was supposed to be a quick win, but it turned into an endless quagmire."

Bleh... It probably isn't helping that I haven't really slept in three days. I'm... gonna go do that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

Their teeth chatter when terrified.

*Chatterchatterclickbangsqueak*.

Chitter chatter bang bang, I'd say.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Just chiming in to say that you are the developer, it's perfectly acceptable and even highly recommended that you get an editor and a project manager to figure out how to best refine your creation and how to utilize funds.
E: heck, a good manager could really help put you in contact with Vietnamese experts to add that extra outlook you wish for.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.




Table of Contents Part Five: All Along the Watchtower
We've talked about how jungle warfare is hot, sweaty, exhausting work--now it's time to talk about how you can't see poo poo while you're doing it. Ambushes, blind fire, and probing engagements where you never actually see the enemy are hallmarks of the Vietnam War, and PATROL has a really simple, elegant system for dealing with situational awareness that doesn't rely on slowing the game down to a crawl with umpteen million Spot checks or combing every 5-foot square of jungle for a punji spike pit. Quite simply, on flat, open terrain, characters are automatically aware of anything within (Vigilance x 100) meters. In obscuring terrain like jungle or built-up urban areas, that value gets slashed to (Vigilance x 10). Those effects can both apply--you might be able to see 500 meters to the treeline, but not be able to see more than 50 meters into the jungle. Later, in the Vehicles rules, we'll find out that vehicles can be seen 10 times as far away as infantry--which seems reasonable for in the jungle, but I'm pretty sure the average GI can't eyeball a T-85 from 8 kilometers away in an open field. Even hearing a tank's motor or smelling the exhaust from that far seems a little farfetched, but since most gameplay will probably happen in obscuring terrain, it's not too bad. We also get some guidelines on things that can be detected from farther away--obviously gunfire and explosions carry a lot farther than 100 meters or so, and you can smell things like burning villages or tanks from klicks away--you'll just have to get closer to know what's going on.


How many Viet Cong are in this picture? The answer may surprise you!

By default, Units share awareness information--if one member is aware of something, the whole Unit is. Also, once you've pegged something, you can keep track of it out to twice your normal detection range. (This, incidentally, is how spotters work for snipers. The spotter can have a high Vigilance, leaving the sniper to dump all his points into Proficiency for taking those long-range shots. As long as they stay within 10 meters of each other, the sniper benefits from the spotter's detection range.)

Anyways, this situational awareness is vague and impressionistic, not specific. Your GM will tell you things like "you see a few armed figures moving through the trees," not "you see five V.C. guerillas with AK-47s setting up an ambush." If you want more details, you'll have to spend an action Observing. If you've ever played Apocalypse World, this is basically the "read a person/sitch" move--roll Vigilance, and for every success equal to or over the Difficulty (which is the same as it would be to shoot them), you can ask a question about the makeup, armament, intent, etc. of the Unit. Careful, though--if you FUBAR, the GM can lie to you on one question per failure over your successes. Binoculars are helpful here--they don't increase your detection range, but they do give you a hefty bonus on Observe actions.

But what about things that don't want to be seen? Stuff that's hard to see, whether that's a carefully-placed trap, a commando unit trying to sneak up on you, or just some fishermen out for a pleasure cruise on a moonless night through eel-infested waters, has a Stealth Rating. Stealth Ratings are simple--they get subtracted from your effective Vigilance for detection purposes. If something has a Stealth Rating higher than your Vigilance, you can walk right over it and not see it. Land mines tend to have a very high Stealth Rating. Other things can have Stealth Ratings by virtue of the environment (e.g. darkness, fog, torrential rain) or active concealment. There's an Infiltrate action that lets you move at half-speed while giving yourself a Stealth rating, but weirdly there's no opposite equivalent that lets you move more slowly but increase your Vigilance. There's the Sentry action that gives you a bonus to Vigilance, but it's a Regular action and is pretty clearly for standing guard, not making a cautious sweep, and there's the Search action, but that's specifically for searching a person, place, or thing.

Finally, it's pretty easy to track things through a jungle, even if you're not a ranger. Any group of 3 or more people, a vehicle, or any wounded character leaves a trail that you can follow. A character can pick up and follow a trail that's up to (Vigilance) Turns old. Larger groups add to that number, and vehicles add 1/10th their Weight to it. For reference, a Soviet Armored Car is Weight 400, so that can be a pretty long time.

Oh hey, remember last update how Exhaustion gives you a big fat penalty to Vigilance? Yeah, that applies to all of this, too.

Movement
Now that we know how to spot people, let's go say hello! We talked about calculating Load and Speed back in update 2, now we'll talk about how to use it. Speed has three components: how far you can travel with a Full Move, a Half Move, and a Shift (unsurprisingly, a Shift is half a Half Move, so 1/4 your Full Move). Most of the time, your movement is covered by the March action, which lets you make a Full Move. You can also Quick March, which lets you move twice, but reduces your Vigilance by 5 for the Duration and risks getting caught flat-footed if you make contact with the enemy. Shift is a Minor Action that lets you move your Shift distance, perform an action, then return to your original position as long as your action wasn't an attack. Handy for dragging a downed buddy back to the medic. There are a fair few other movement actions I'm not gonna go into a ton of detail on, but they include options like "half-move and attack," charging the enemy, and the aforementioned "half speed and sneak." On any of these actions you can Push Yourself, taking +2 Speed for every point of Exhaustion and Thirst you mark.

Terrain can reduce (or rarely increase) your effective Speed, and you always use the lowest speed value if you're moving through multiple types of terrain. You can split your Full Move into two Half Moves, if that's beneficial--like, if your Speed is 6 and you need to cross a -2 Speed stream, right next to you, you could make a Speed 4 Half Move to cross the stream, then a Speed 6 Half Move on the clear ground on the other side. It's kind of a fiddly rule, and it generally doesn't get you much more than 100m farther than a single Full Move would, so I'm inclined to ignore it.

If moving brings you into detection range of enemies within 300m, that's Contact. Your movement stops cold, and everybody involved makes an Evade action (no roll, +1 difficulty to hit you, your actions all have +1 Difficulty, and you take +1 Doubt.) If you're less than 100m away, you can instead take a Suppressive Fire attack, though it's considered blind firing. More on those in the combat update. Also, while you're aware of any enemy presence within 1 km, you can't make Full Moves--any action that lets you make a Full Move instead lets you make a Half Move. Finally, unless one Unit is unaware of another, hostile Units can't move through each other. They just stop at 10 m apart and engage in hand to hand fighting, which is... a bad idea.

Equipment relevant to moving around includes Footwear (without it, you're Speed -2 all the time) and bicycles and motorcycles. They increase your movement rate, not your Speed, but only on paved ground. They also count as equipment, not vehicles.

Terrain, Weather, and Structures
Ahh, gently caress it, this update ended up fairly short, so let's talk about buildings and stuff--that still fits the theme of the update title, right? Rather than presenting a bunch of specific terrain types like "Jungle, Light" or "Mountain," PATROL gives us a small selection of features that we're encouraged to combine as necessary. Jungle, for instance, could be Difficult (Speed Down 1-3), Obscuring (as we covered up above) Terrain. Wade into a swamp, and you add Shallow Water (more Speed Down, ground vehicles can't cross). Rice paddies are probably Shallow Water and Dead Ground (no place to take cover in a firefight), maybe with Easy Trails between them.

Weather and time largely work the same way--time of day generally provides Stealth Modifiers, and since Vietnam is pretty close to equatorial, you can assume a roughly-equal number of day and night turns. PATROL uses a simplified lunar cycle of 7 day phases: Waxing, Full, Waning, and Moonless. Weather has a broader range of effects--rain causes Doubt if you don't have shelter, clouds double aircraft To-Hit modifiers from Altitude, and so on. Despite Vietnam being a tropical country, we get rules for blizzards and sandstorms just in case your game takes a hard left turn into alternate history or your PCs somehow kick off nuclear war. (Which is not that unfeasible, China tested their first nukes in the late 60s.)

Next up are Structures. PATROL tracks small and large structures a little differently--a small structure is generally anything less than 10m in diameter, probably without interior room divisions. They can provide Stealth Ratings to people inside, can negate Injury from small-arms fire if they're sturdy enough, and contain grenade blasts--it's much safer to toss a grenade into a building than an open field. (For you, that is. Not the guys inside. Obviously.) Defensive Positions are a special type of small structure--your foxholes, slit trenches, and so on. They have a Capacity (how many people fit in them), Level (how many Injuries they negate), and Stealth Rating. You will be digging a lot of these. Or you'll be dying.


"It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!"
"gently caress you, Jerry."
Large Structures are anything at least mostly enclosed, with interior rooms, and not mostly empty space. They'll generally use their own interior maps, at least a crude sketch of one. Fighting in a large structure breaks down into a sub-system for room-to-room fighting--the normal Turn order is suspended, and Units inside the building take alternating single actions as they try to sweep and clear or defend their position. It all takes place within a single Turn, and it gets pretty intense. Even more intense are Tunnel Complexes, which are large structures with the added bonus of having to worm your way through tiny-rear end tunnels to get anywhere while the V.C. try to machine gun your face off. Tunnel Crawl is a special movement action that uses your equipment's Weight as its difficulty, so travel light. Or, y'know, toss a few incendiary grenades down the hole to burn them out and/or eat up all the air. Probably safer that way.



Next Time: War! (Good God Y'All!) - Combat

GimpInBlack fucked around with this message at 14:37 on Oct 9, 2017

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Mors Rattus posted:

Chitter chatter bang bang, I'd say.

i think you win the award for most dated pop culture reference (1968) I've seen in the thread.

edit: holy poo poo almost 50 years old. that joke's an antique

Mr.Misfit
Jan 10, 2013

The time for
SkellyBones
has come!


Freaking Crumbum posted:

i think you win the award for most dated pop culture reference (1968) I've seen in the thread.

edit: holy poo poo almost 50 years old. that joke's an antique

It belongs in a museum, damnit!

(Only 36y ago...drat)

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Starfinger Core Rules Part #04: "People want to be that raccoon!"
(Credit: James Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Game Informer interview.)



Time for Envoys, for those who want to explore the puddle-deep social mechanics of Starfinger, and Mechanics, for those who want a R2 to pal around with.



Envoys

Did you know asian women have naturally dyed hair? It's true!

(Honestly, it's good to see the general diversity of the humans in this game, but... there's a spunky stereotype stumble here. Also, her dyed streak keeps switching sides.)

That aside, this is mostly a mix of social and skill monkey, Envoys are Starfinger's attempt to do a socially-oriented class, even moreso than Bards. They get an "Expertise" bonus on Sense Motive checks (that for some reason is a 1d6 or a 1d8 + a number depending on your level) that later they can apply as a limited bonus to their other skill checks they've taken (mild punishment feat) Skill Focus for. Their big class thing is that they get an "Improvisation", which are various social and attack tricks they get every 2 levels. Of course, some are listed as language-dependent or mind-affecting, so they might not work on, say, aliens that don't share your language or a robot... unless you spend the Improv tax to overcome those with specific Improvisations. Often you can spend a Resolve point to get a bonus with these or to turn a failure into a success. Sample ones include:
  • Clever Feint: Feint at a range if they can sense you, and your feint benefits your allies as well as yourself. Resolve Point lets you turn a failure into a success.
  • Don't Quit: This lets you supress one status effect on an ally for a single turnbat the cost of a standard action. You don't get to actually remove anything until 12th level - by spending a Resolve Point, but only if it doesn't have permanent duration! If there were any more catches to this, it'd be a baseball game.
  • Not in the Face: Give a penalty to hitting your if the opponent fails a Will save. Not the best, but you can spend a Resolve Point to make it automatic.
  • Duck Under: If you make a Full Defense and if they miss you with a melee attack, you get a big bonus to hit them in the following round.
  • Hurry: Spend a standard action to grant an ally a move action.
  • Draw Fire: Spend an RP to make all enemies get a penalty to ranged attacks within 100 feet unless they target you.
  • Expert Attack: Spend 2RP to add your expertise bonus to an attack. Seriously? That's all? Well, at least you won't have this option until 8th level...
  • Sustained Determination: Spend 2 RP to grant an ally 1 RP that they have to spend within 1 turn or lose it... and you can only do this once per ally until you've both gone through a rest period. Yeesh!
So, some of the basic Improvisations are decent... in certain situations. Each one of these seems to be buried in special catches, though. They can be pretty good if you get some of the "Quick" or "Improved" versions, but even so, they tend towards slight benefits. I mean, Improved Get 'Em requires two Improvisation spends to spend a standard action to grant your allies +2 to hit one enemy for 1 turn... or any enemy with 1 RP. They end up being more flexible than bards, but since a lot of their abilities require standard actions, often they aren't doing much on their own but shouting benefits at party members and debuffs at enemies. And at higher levels, Improvisations are often so expensive you get very limited use of them. And there's the RP costs, which are nice to see as an option but potentially reduce one's lifespan

They also get Expertise Talents every 3 levels, and talents are like feats except... they're class-bound. Examples include:
  • Altered Bearing: Do very minor disguises as a move action.
  • Cultural Savant: Take 20 on Culture checks to recall knowledge even if you don't have access to a computer or research material.
  • Menacing Gaze: Use Intimidate against a group to demoralize, but it only lasts 1 round no matter what you roll. Mentioning this because you specifically can't use this kind of talent with Intimidation-boosting Improvisations, because that would be too powerful...?
  • Surgeon: Let's you treat deadly wounds an extra time a day... at a +5 to difficulty and an hour to do so.
Basically they often let you overcome small limitations on skills, but sometimes at a penalty. They compliment well, but speak to the conservative nature of the class design that either most benefits are either A) small or B) large with a major cost. The Envoy may be the Bard of the game, but they lack a lot of wild benefits, presumably because mundane skills and words can't be allowed to do "too much" compared to a Bard's spells. Even worse, a lot of their social stuff will be overridden by spellcasters - particularly the Mystic, who gets to bypass stuff like Sense Motive and just read people's brains or charm them with a rider where people forget they were charmed. The main thing the Envoy is left with is giving party-wide bonuses, something that's been mostly cut from spellcasters' arsenals. The Operative, on the other hand, will drink their milkshake as the premier skill monkeys. While the Envoy is better at specific skills, the Operative is better at all skills, without a feat tax. The Envoy is left being a specialist and a slightly awkward support - which makes them a good fifth wheel, but that's about it. In my opinion, they're clearly the worst of the new classes, which is a problem with them being right up front here. However, being the worst in Starfinger is at least a much better place to be than the worst in Pathfinder.



Mechanic

So, these are the gear monkeys of the game, but only get a 4 + Int skill bonus. Well, who needs skills, anyway?... oh, right. These guys. Well, at least it suggests you specialize in Intelligence. They basically get a choice at first level with their "AI" ability: Drone or Exocortex. A Drone is a buff familiar that acts as a secondary character, while an Exocortex is an implanted cyberbrain that gives you direct boosts. They also get a variety of benefits on Computers and Engineering checks, as well as a more powerful toolkit. As they level up, can attempt to shut down electronic devices as a standard action (for 1 round only), hack at range, buff armor or weapons temporarily, heal ships, stun robots, various hacking bonuses, etc.

Their big thing is Mechanic tricks, which make up a lot of their choices for class abilities .Examples include:
  • Energy Shield: Get a modest bonus to Hit Points for a minute, and then this can't be used for another ten minutes. Oh, you haven't run out of Stamina Points? Well, this doesn't matter until that happens. That's a theme you'll see with a lot of force fields - they're just not very good unless you've already been battered about.
  • Neural Shunt: Ignore a mind-affecting effect, but you have to shut down your exocortex for as long as that effect lasts.
  • Nightvision Processor: Darkvision doesn't seem like much to get out of a full mechanic trick, especially when you need the Perception-boosting tax trick of Visual Data Processor first. After all, you can buy nightvision goggles, right? Nope. Those don't exist in Starfinger, if you want a Darkvision, you get through cybereyes, racial benefits, or a class bonus like this one. (There are flashlights you can buy, thankfully.)
  • Overcharge: Do 1d6 extra damage with an energy weapon, but use up three shots instead of one. If the weapon doesn't have an ammo limit, this has no effect.
  • Quick Repair: Repair a thing in half the time.
  • Drone Meld: Lets your drone turn into a suit that you wear and get a benefit depending on your drone type. Pretty cool!... but it takes a full-round action to suit up or suit down, so not as useful in a fight.
  • Holographic Projector: Lets you make a image as per the spell as a standard action.
  • Mod Tinkerer: Lets you swap around all your mods on a drone or exocortex with 24 hours of uninterrupted work. Better stock up on energy drinks, I guess.
  • Ultraclocking: Grant haste to your drone for 1 minute as a move action, only usable once between 10-minute rests. The top of the Overlocking > Hyperclocking chain.
Most of these are pretty legit neat, though some are bizarrely situational and not likely to come up often - like the one that grants Energy Resistance if you have an Energy Shield up and only for one type chosen at purchase. Yeah, I'm sure folks will be jumping on that trap.

Drones come in three types: combat, hover, or stealth. If it gets wrecked, you can take a full 24 straight hours to rebuild it. You can also swap out the type or benefits whenever you gain a level with another 24 hours of work. Drones only get to move or do a standard action on their turn, but not both unless you spend a move action to directly control them (this is the only way they can do swift or full actions). The combat one is best suited to melee and takes less damage, the hover one can fly, but is weak, and the sneaky one gets fancy reactive camouflage. Otherwise, they're full characters, and can choose their own feats, level up ability scores, etc., through on a reduced schedule and more limited selection. They also get mods, which serve as their variable benefits, like:
  • Camera: Yes, you need a full mod slot to have a remote camera on your drone.
  • Hardened AI: Bonuses against getting hacked and spells that might control it.
  • Manipulator Arms: Yes. Arms are extra, too.
  • Riding Saddle: Yes, this takes a full slot. Granted, since most races are medium and only combat drones are medium, this is mostly only combat drones (though I guess a Ysoki could ride a stealth drone, completely negating its primary function - "Why is that Ysoki sitting in midair?"
  • Energy Shield: Actually pretty useful, unlike the Mechanic trick, since drones don't get SP, only HP... but you have to be 11th level or higher to get it.
  • Flight System: Your drone can fly!... for 10 minutes a day... that must be used in 1-minute increments. I guess this space society hasn't worked out how to make things fly longer than that. The hover robots get this for free, but with the same limitation. I understand flight is strong, but this isn't Pathfinder, anybody can buy a flying car as it is.
  • Medical Subroutine: If you get knocked unconscious, your drone can apply first aid!... but it requires 2 of your RP to actually get you back up with some HP. Oh, you thought the drone might be able to use its own RP to do that, since it does get some? Nope.
  • Shock Wave: If your drone is knocked below 10 HP, it shuts down and does 1d6 x level damage to everything around it. Yes, that includes you if you happen to be near your own drone.
There's a lot of Mod taxes to make your drone a more useful character - other ones let it climb or swim or carry extra ammo, so there are ones that are straight benefits, but they definitely were playing conservatively again in letting you control two characters, since a lot of them just let the drone overcome being a drone.

An Exocortex, on the other hand, makes you into more of a straightforward fighter, letting you spend a move action to increase your attack bonus to equal your level against a single target. As you level up, you also get bonuses with skills, hack autonomously at a short distance), give yourself some basic drone mods at higher levels. In general, the Exocortex seems more utilitarian unless you really want the multiple attacks and bilocation having the drone grants, though your overall combat bonuses of the drone mechanic are lower over time.

In general the Mechanic seems like a decent class, as long as you can dodge the trap options that will rarely come up. Their skills are limited, though, presumably because they're positioned as a fighter-type, and Starfinger positions classes on the "useful in combat vs. non-combat" as a measure of balance. That's not a design notion I'm thrilled with, and it also means the Envoy or Operative can actually have a higher skill bonus at Engineering or Computers... though the Engineer has more they can potentially do with those skills, at least.

Oh, and these guys are loosely like rangers, given the focus on a companion and being a secondary combat class with environmental tricks.

Next: Unpriests and Star Scoundrels.

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