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open_sketchbook
Feb 26, 2017

the only genius in the whole fucking business

This is always something I kinda struggle with when I'm poking at cyberpunk stuff. I'm a sucker for my cyberpunk being retro-y, so Japanese corporations have to rule the world, but it's often difficult to justify in a way that makes sense, seeing as... that didn't actually, like, happen.

I guess the thing is that cyberpunk isn't really about the future. Cyberpunk was about creating an exaggeration of the time it was written. The cyberpunk world is the telecommunication technology, worldview, attitude, of the (American punk intellectual Left) 1980s writ nightmarishly large, where the money is bigger, the technology is shinier, and the struggle is more real than ever, where the boogymen of the sterile perfection of the Japanese lean production lines and the oppressive atmosphere of their offices had melded with the corporate cronyism plaguing the United States to create a society whose vast unfeeling hunger for wealth and prestige creates an underclass whose lives are defined by the perverse mix of high technology and savage scarcity. The Japanese imagery is less about the idea of Japanese dominance so much as a fear of the (American impression of) the mindset which created the Japanese economic boom of the 80s dominating all of culture; the glaring wall of vertical neon signs and the cheap noodles and the packed metropolises and the slick hierarchy of the Yakuza act as shorthand for a more fundamental fear that Western liberty and independence would be subsumed into this imagined culture of efficiency and those who were not useful to that system would be ground underfoot. It's the idea that the future will be foreign, using Japanese culture as a recognizable stand-in for a more general idea of a future where all your cultural works and values have been eroded by a corporate mass media you cannot relate to.

To me, cyberpunk is the generally atmosphere of the movie Black Rain mixed with computer jargon. I'm okay with being really implausible to make that happen and recapture that feeling.

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Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


open_sketchbook posted:

This is always something I kinda struggle with when I'm poking at cyberpunk stuff. I'm a sucker for my cyberpunk being retro-y, so Japanese corporations have to rule the world, but it's often difficult to justify in a way that makes sense, seeing as... that didn't actually, like, happen.

I guess the thing is that cyberpunk isn't really about the future. Cyberpunk was about creating an exaggeration of the time it was written. The cyberpunk world is the telecommunication technology, worldview, attitude, of the (American punk intellectual Left) 1980s writ nightmarishly large, where the money is bigger, the technology is shinier, and the struggle is more real than ever, where the boogymen of the sterile perfection of the Japanese lean production lines and the oppressive atmosphere of their offices had melded with the corporate cronyism plaguing the United States to create a society whose vast unfeeling hunger for wealth and prestige creates an underclass whose lives are defined by the perverse mix of high technology and savage scarcity. The Japanese imagery is less about the idea of Japanese dominance so much as a fear of the (American impression of) the mindset which created the Japanese economic boom of the 80s dominating all of culture; the glaring wall of vertical neon signs and the cheap noodles and the packed metropolises and the slick hierarchy of the Yakuza act as shorthand for a more fundamental fear that Western liberty and independence would be subsumed into this imagined culture of efficiency and those who were not useful to that system would be ground underfoot. It's the idea that the future will be foreign, using Japanese culture as a recognizable stand-in for a more general idea of a future where all your cultural works and values have been eroded by a corporate mass media you cannot relate to.

To me, cyberpunk is the generally atmosphere of the movie Black Rain mixed with computer jargon. I'm okay with being really implausible to make that happen and recapture that feeling.

Certainly it should be possible to make a "cyberpunk" styled world without the weird "Oh, Japanese/Chinese (delete as appropriate) people and culture are so WEIRD and INSCRUTABLE, and they're going to TAKE OVER AMERICA with BRIEFCASES and COMPUTERS and KANJI THAT I CAN'T READ", though? Maybe it's just because I'm asian, but that style of cyberpunk seems more or less obsolete.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



I think its because its difficult to separate Cyberpunk the concept from the genre, and glaringly, from the actual path technology has gone down. The idea of technology supplanting people and society creating disconnected capatilist nightmare labrynth cities teeming with destitute life isnt Japan rules America and it sure as hell isnt global birth rates declined on their own.

One of the biggest things that always stocks out to me is how many people are actually employed/still important in a lot of cyberpunk settings when our own world the number of people needed is ever declining. A lot of Cyberpunk works thought “wouldnt it be awful to have cyber limbs, youd be on the construction site all day with lower safety standards” instead of “there are no costruction worker humans outside of the corporate office”

open_sketchbook
Feb 26, 2017

the only genius in the whole fucking business

Davin Valkri posted:

Certainly it should be possible to make a "cyberpunk" styled world without the weird "Oh, Japanese/Chinese (delete as appropriate) people and culture are so WEIRD and INSCRUTABLE, and they're going to TAKE OVER AMERICA with BRIEFCASES and COMPUTERS and KANJI THAT I CAN'T READ", though? Maybe it's just because I'm asian, but that style of cyberpunk seems more or less obsolete.

Of course it can! But I think a lot of modern cyberpunk kind of miss the mark when they remove or play down that aspect and don't really replace it, or try to replace it with modern Western corporate shorthand that is familiar to the reader. I think that's kind of a problem generally with the way that cyberpunk works have drifted away from having their protagonists be part of an underclass who are removed from and incapable of integrating with the dominate culture (the protagonists of the Sprawl Trilogy are a drug addict criminal, a poor kid, and a prostitute) and towards having protagonists who are semi-integrated with, or even the best examples of, the corporate culture which they "oppose" now with fantasy direct action.

Like, the two big cyberpunk RPGs right now, The Sprawl and Headspace, both really suffer from this. In both those games are are the best at your thing, you're super-ninjas who were too good for the corps and now you're out here fightin' the good fight against faceless CEOs cynically ruling the world. Whereas in a real cyberpunk setting the problem isn't some boardroom of jerks, its the fact that all the other mechanisms our culture has for doing things, states and democracies and community, are all being (or have been) totally undermined and wrecked by the incomprehensible and unfeeling machinery of profit motive until there's nothing but boardrooms left anywhere you look.

I also understand that the imagery can be really tired, and at its worst really tie into some yellow peril bullshit, but I think there's still a certain validity to using elements of it. I guess, like, the imagery is better than the application, but I really think it needs to be paired with the right atmosphere and other concessions to make it clear you're doing a sort of period piece, and it would help immensely if you had an Asian character among the protagonists who is just as isolated as everyone else (in the narrative), thus showing it's not a cultural imperialism thing so much as a meta-tone thing. And also to just have some more Asian protagonists because, like, that pretty much doesn't happen in Western media.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Why not go for broke and make the world under the employ of The Congo and have all the foreign elements be like stuff from the Mwindo stories and such? Itd convey the foreigness without yellow peril and expose people to cultural ideas and stories they arent familiar with.

Plus I just like saying the name Mwindo.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Barudak posted:

Why not go for broke and make the world under the employ of The Congo and have all the foreign elements be like stuff from the Mwindo stories and such? Itd convey the foreigness without yellow peril and expose people to cultural ideas and stories they arent familiar with.

Plus I just like saying the name Mwindo.

Isn't that literally The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm? Not that that's a bad thing.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


Barudak posted:

Why not go for broke and make the world under the employ of The Congo and have all the foreign elements be like stuff from the Mwindo stories and such? Itd convey the foreigness without yellow peril and expose people to cultural ideas and stories they arent familiar with.

Plus I just like saying the name Mwindo.

Given the history of that region in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Congo is probably the last place I would look for cyberpunk styled villains or antagonists.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



wiegieman posted:

Isn't that literally The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm? Not that that's a bad thing.

Yeah. Like I said though, I really like saying Mwindo.

Davin Valkri posted:

Given the history of that region in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Congo is probably the last place I would look for cyberpunk styled villains or antagonists.

Thats a good point, and it does point to what I take a lot of issue with Cyberpunk in that the foreign element functions as a stand in for colonialism except this time its happening to you, reader!

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


The other issue that even if you don't go in for the "Japan takes over the world" aspect, urban Japan is such a heavy influence on the cyberpunk aesthetic that it's almost impossible to extract it.

Most of the Asian stuff in Blade Runner, for example, is actually Chinese, when you go back and actually watch it, but the movie is cited for Japanese influence because the rainy LA of the movie reminds people of contemporary Tokyo.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Davin Valkri posted:

Certainly it should be possible to make a "cyberpunk" styled world without the weird "Oh, Japanese/Chinese (delete as appropriate) people and culture are so WEIRD and INSCRUTABLE, and they're going to TAKE OVER AMERICA with BRIEFCASES and COMPUTERS and KANJI THAT I CAN'T READ", though? Maybe it's just because I'm asian, but that style of cyberpunk seems more or less obsolete.
"Classic" cyberpunk itself was not so obsessed with East Asia. Gibson and Stephenson portrayed a melange of cultures, Effinger's Budayeen is in the Middle East, and so on. But for whatever reason, cyberpunk's mainstream visibility is tied to anime. And in the bargain, a particular strain of cyberpunk that favours the conventions of superheroes and mecha over those of film noir.

Barudak posted:

One of the biggest things that always stocks out to me is how many people are actually employed/still important in a lot of cyberpunk settings when our own world the number of people needed is ever declining. A lot of Cyberpunk works thought “wouldnt it be awful to have cyber limbs, youd be on the construction site all day with lower safety standards” instead of “there are no costruction worker humans outside of the corporate office”
Those people still exist, but the work is being outsourced, as much as is practically and legally possible, to poorer countries with little or no worker protection.

However, the vision of the future you're describing is not at all off the mark. There are already countries where it's like that: I've seen photographs of impoverished migrant workers in Dubai, sleeping among the metal and concrete of the skyscrapers they're building, described as like scenes from a cyberpunk future. In an anarcho-capitalist future, it will be happening here as well as in India and Saudi Arabia and so on.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Our present is Cyberpunk, but I guess to me cyberpunk doesnt occur in the present as a genre.

Barudak fucked around with this message at 21:42 on Oct 10, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

open_sketchbook posted:

Of course it can! But I think a lot of modern cyberpunk kind of miss the mark when they remove or play down that aspect and don't really replace it, or try to replace it with modern Western corporate shorthand that is familiar to the reader. I think that's kind of a problem generally with the way that cyberpunk works have drifted away from having their protagonists be part of an underclass who are removed from and incapable of integrating with the dominate culture (the protagonists of the Sprawl Trilogy are a drug addict criminal, a poor kid, and a prostitute) and towards having protagonists who are semi-integrated with, or even the best examples of, the corporate culture which they "oppose" now with fantasy direct action.

Like, the two big cyberpunk RPGs right now, The Sprawl and Headspace, both really suffer from this. In both those games are are the best at your thing, you're super-ninjas who were too good for the corps and now you're out here fightin' the good fight against faceless CEOs cynically ruling the world. Whereas in a real cyberpunk setting the problem isn't some boardroom of jerks, its the fact that all the other mechanisms our culture has for doing things, states and democracies and community, are all being (or have been) totally undermined and wrecked by the incomprehensible and unfeeling machinery of profit motive until there's nothing but boardrooms left anywhere you look.
Idunno about Headspace, but I think The Sprawl's main flaw is too much gear cruft. Part of the game's Shadowrun baggage.

Protagonists of cyberpunk novels are often very exceptional, competent people--but they're still poor and marginalized, and not so much "on a mission" as "in over their heads," often by accident as a result of just doing their day job.

I don't think it's a problem for the PCs to be competent, or for them to have clear goals and villains. You just have to take care if you don't want to run a game where the PCs are ultimately good little soldiers who save corrupt institutions from themselves, or fall into the Hollywood trap where the characters are supposedly powerless subjects of a dystopia, but they fix society overnight by blowing up the bad guy in his fortress of evil.

To have a game where you are just navigating the stresses of daily life under capitalism in order to barely scrape by...at the moment I can only imagine that being a pretty depressing narrative game like Nicotine Girls.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Barudak posted:

Our present is Cyberpunk, but I guess to me cyberpunk doesnt occur in the present as a genre.

No, it's at least twenty minutes into the future.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Really enjoying the review of NewL5R. Thus far it looks a lot better than previous editions, in my humble opinion. Shuji in particular sound great, and I like that some kata and kiho interact with social attacks, so maybe your fightman won't be reduced to a piece of furniture as soon as people start talking.

Shame they still couldn't resist making a billion dumb magic spells that do literally everything, though.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Bieeardo posted:

No, it's at least twenty minutes into the future.

Nice!

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Halloween Jack posted:

To have a game where you are just navigating the stresses of daily life under capitalism in order to barely scrape by...at the moment I can only imagine that being a pretty depressing narrative game like Nicotine Girls.
Well there's also Red Markets, but sometimes I remember this:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Starfinger Core Rules Part #14: "We don't have anything designed to be a Gundam, again because that's just not a Core Rulebook issue, just like we don't have howdahs in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook."
(Credit: Owen K.C. Stephens, Starfinger Design Lead, GenCon Q&A Transcript)

Vehicle Tactical Rules

Even though vehicles only get a token listing in this book, we get the full vehicle rules, and there sure are a lot of them! Vehicles work in weird ways in Starfinger. I've read this several times and still am left thinking I must be getting something wrong, but I'll try and break it down.
  • I'm in a future car, specifically an "Urban Cruiser". It has a top speed of 55 MPH. That's right. Future car is slower than your modern car. Whatever car you own, it is almost certainly faster than this.
  • Future car, however, can accelerate from a dead stop to 55 MPH in 6 seconds. Well, technically, in 0 seconds, because it happens before you take any actions. But I have to make a Piloting check at DC 17. If I don't make it, the car stalls and does not move at all. If I don't want to risk that, I can start by moving its drive speed, instead. The drive speed is 2-8 MPH, slower than your average character's movement. In order to accelerate from 2 MPH to 55 MPH, I have to make a Drive roll at DC 12, or I lose control and perform a random 45 or 90 degree swerve. In case you're wondering if there's a way for me to take it slow, no. Either I'm going 2 MPH or 55 MPH.
  • Once again, the drive speed is 2 MPH. Maybe 8 MPH, if I'm allowed to "run" as a vehicular action. Not sure about that. 4 MPH seems more accurate. Either way, not fast.
  • But, after stalling once or twice, I'm up and running and driving 55 MPH. Blazin' in my six second car. But I've got a small problem. I can't turn. I can lane shift, but at this speed I'm not allowed to change my direction. I can't turn.
  • Which is a problem, because I've got a 30 degree turn coming up. So I shift down to my move speed and all but stop the vehicle. Then, at 4 MPH, I crawl through the turn like a turtle on 'ludes. Then, I accelerate back up to 55 MPH and I'm on my way!
  • ... or at least, so I think, until one of these turns where I fail my Pilot check, turn 90 degrees, and fly off the road at 55 MPH. Due to the timing involved in braking, I cannot stop at that point. I will crash. Also, I may be a comedy sketch cat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq8klyWKBdc

What the-? How is this supposed to be remotely functional? I'm not expecting GURPS Vehicles here, but it's a hilarious farce. Maybe there's an error and the drive speeds are supposed to be faster - if they were ten times faster, these rules would be wonky, but... at least closer to functional. As it is, you're not likely to make a short drive to work without flinging yourself off the road. Now, to be fair, you can Take 10 on your driving rolls if the GM lets you, and there are no lasers popping off or anything distracting you. Hopefully, you've got enough skill ranks to do that with. Otherwise, off the road you go!

As far as I can tell vehicles have a low "drive speed" (i.e. combat speed) to make sure they don't unbalance combat, since they offer protection, and this bizarre full speed for overland travel but they can't turn. Yes, for some reason the combat tradeoff... for vehicles... was to make them go slower than people.

:psyduck:

In addition, to do anything other than drive - because going to that "race speed" of 55 MPH is a full action - like making an attack, even with vehicular weapons, you'll have to slow down to 2 MPH. And these people are going to give us starship rules? That oughta be a sight.

Oh, here's a bonus: no crash ever kills anyone in Starfinger. Crash damage is taken by the vehicle. "Oh," I hear somebody mumbling, "- that's just an appropriate part of genre fiction." True, to an extent, unless you're being played by Alan Tudyk. But it also leads into the interesting followup tactic: buying vehicles and just ramming them into enemies, since you take 0 damage and they'll take whatever the full damage is. I mean, yeah, they get a Reflex save to avoid it, but a friend with a stickybomb can help out with that... presuming you can actually steer your vehicle into them and don't just swerve around wildly.



Future Fantasy Cars. :effort:

Vehicle Chases

So, chase rules.

Chases are divided into "zones", and vehicles in the lead get an advantage. Essentially, there are three phases. The drivers choose their actions and act in initiative order. They can take one half action or two, if they take two, they're at -4 on each. Then, any changes in zones are tracked, and then passengers (and pilots, if they only take a half action) act normally in initiative order for shooting or mid-car acrobatics or whatever.

Pilots are usually using the Keep Pace to keep steady or Speed Up to move an extra zone. However, they can also Evade to improve their vehicle's AC, Slow Down to avoid having to make any Piloting rolls, or Trick to give a penalty to chasing vehicles. They might also Engage Another Vehicle to move into melee / boarding range with another vehicle, or try to Break Free from another vehicle engaged with them. Success on any Piloting check moves you up a zone, failure means you stay where you're at. Speed Up is the only way to gain a second zone of movement in a turn. Engaged vehicles stay together if possible, so if one advances and one doesn't, they both advance. Getting more than two zones behind any other vehicle means you get left behind. You can deliberately not rush ahead if you want to stay in a chance, though.

Most of the DCs are dependent on the move you're doing, the level of the vehicle you're driving, or the KAC of the vehicle you're maneuvering against. As such, you have the weird side case that if you want to do better in chases, you might want to pilot a vehicle lower than your level. That carries the risk of having less HP / being more vulnerable, of course, but it's a weird tactic that results from weird rules. You may say "wouldn't high-level vehicles be faster?", well, I'll point out that your vehicle's top speed has almost nothing to do with the chase rules.

Again, for people skimming: the vehicle's top speed has almost nothing to do with the chase rules. The only time it comes up is that if you have a vehicle that's significantly faster (like, 50 MPH faster), you get a reduced penalty on multiple actions from the driver. That's all! A Police Cruiser can be racing a Goblin Junkcycle, and, despite being over twice as fast, it gets no advantage. Every time I see them try and come up with a new mechanic so far, it's where things fall apart. Like, every time. I thought with nine people on the design team, somebody might notice something like "Did you realize our Chase rules don't account for speed?" or "Why is it harder to drive better vehicles?" or "Why can't you steer a vehicle going 55 MPH?"

And now it's time to see that design team crash right into a wall. You can't blame them, though, if they were driving under their own rules...

Wait, I just realized something about the above picture. I had suspected this kind of thing given the "iconic" Envoy's dye streak swapping sides, but let's take another look at it.



Wow. Ooops. Consider this a friendly reminder of what not to do, for you layout professionals out there. :rolleyes:

Next: "I canna' do it, captain! I just don't have the [roll modifier]!"

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Halloween Jack posted:

Protagonists of cyberpunk novels are often very exceptional, competent people--but they're still poor and marginalized, and not so much "on a mission" as "in over their heads," often by accident as a result of just doing their day job.

I don't think it's a problem for the PCs to be competent, or for them to have clear goals and villains. You just have to take care if you don't want to run a game where the PCs are ultimately good little soldiers who save corrupt institutions from themselves, or fall into the Hollywood trap where the characters are supposedly powerless subjects of a dystopia, but they fix society overnight by blowing up the bad guy in his fortress of evil.

To have a game where you are just navigating the stresses of daily life under capitalism in order to barely scrape by...at the moment I can only imagine that being a pretty depressing narrative game like Nicotine Girls.

This is a probably going to be a controversial statement but I think Blade Runner 2049 is a good example of this type of cyberpunk narrative. The main character, K, is incredibly competent, superhuman at times, but is constantly at odds with society and his very existence. I wouldn't recommend a game set up like Blade Runner 2049 for a number of reasons but I think it's good recent example of that type of cyberpunk story and a film to get a feel for that type of narrative.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I am inarticulately mad at the driving rules examples you have laid out in those bullet points, mad enough that I really can't find much humor in how goddamn asinine those rules and checks are at the moment.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Games routinely and constantly go completely batshit bonkers over guns and cars. But especially cars.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I had to go over these rules multiple times because I was convinced I must be doing it wrong. Still not sure there isn't some correction incoming, because it really it's hard to tell if these rules are seriously intended as written. I suspect one or two staffers wrote them with no meaningful oversight - it's hard to imagine how these got to print otherwise.

Ditto the pic, I didn't notice that until I was editing for post, but it's kind of amazing to have that on top of everything else.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Maybe it's that heist movie thing where they steal a common generic car that their super hot driver can drive in a way that turns it into some italian hypercar.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Vehicle Chases

So, chase rules.

I don't have a copy of those rules anymore, but this really just sounds like a pathflanderization of d20 Modern chase rules.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Legend of the Five Rings: Yelling For Peace

Shuji are social techniques. They are usable in debates, duels and skirmishes by default, with other types of Conflict allowing them as common sense and the GM permit. By default, shuji are able to affect anyone close enough to hear and understand you, which in most cases will be range 0-4 but might be less during, say, a battle or a storm. Shuji cannot be used to target groups via writing, but a well-targeted letter to a specific person may be able to have a shuji technique used through it at the GM's discretion, though it generally will only work on its intended recipient.

Air Shuji tend to be indirect, focusing on subtle traps for others, working via details and controlling the scope of conversation.
Artisan's Appraisal allows you to look at an art piece and learn about its maker. Prereq: School Rank 2. When assessing an object or performance with an Artisan Skill/Air, Performance/Air or Games/Air check, you may spend Opportunities in new ways. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to choose a Ring, learning the creator or performer's value in that Ring and all non-Curse Advantages and Disadvantages attached to it. If the creator or performer is an NPC, you may spend one Opportunity symbol to learn their Disposition. Cost: 2 XP.
Bend with the Storm allows you to lure someone into believing you have a weakness you don't. Prereq: School Rank 5. When you make a Social Skill/Air check targeting another character, you may spend one Opportunity symbol to choose an Advantage or Disadvantage. The target believes you have that, without you having to say so directly or expend much effort, and believes that you don't know you've given this away. If you do anything that would call this into question, they may make a Sentiment check (TN 5, Fire 3, Earth 6) to notice that the Advantage or Disadvantage isn't real. This lasts until they get incontrovertible evidence or manage to succeed on the resistance check. XP Cost: 2.
Cadence lets you communicate wordlessly. Prereq: School Rank 1. When you make a Social Skill/Air check, you may spend Opportunities in new ways. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to convey a secret message that alters or has nothing to do with what you say outwardly to one character obvserving you who also knows this technique. You may spend two Opportunity symbols to do the same to one character observing you who does not know this technique. XP Cost: 2.
Feigned Opening lets you fake weakness martially. Prereq: School Rank 2. As a Movement and Scheme action, you may make a Performance/Air check targeting one character in the scene who is observing you, with TN of their Vigilance. This can only be used in Skirmish or Mass Battle Conflicts. If you succeed, reduce the TN of the next Attack check against the target (or their cohort, in Mass Battle) by (1+bonus successes) until the end of your next turn. You may spend Opportunity symbols to choose additional targets, 1 for 1, with Vigilance lower than or equal to the original target. In mass battle, you may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the TN of Attack checks targeting your cohort, 1 for 1. (I assume for the same duration as above.) XP Cost: 3.
Rustling of Leaves lets you spread rumors anonymously. Prereq: School Rank 1. When you make a Social Skill/Air check to create or propagate a rumopr, you may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the TN of any check to trace the rumor back to you by 2 per symbol spent. XP Cost: 2.
The Wind Blows Both Ways lets you help or hurt someone's fame. Prereq: School Rank 3. When you make a Courtesy/Air or Performance/Air check targeting another character, you may spend Opportunity symbols in new ways. You may spend Opportunity symbols so that the next time the target receives a Glory boost this scene, they gain additional Glory equal to the symbols spent. You may spend Opportunity symbols so that the next time the target forfeits or stakes Glory in this scene, they must forfeit or stake additional Glory equal to the symbols spent. XP Cost: 2.
Whispers of Court lets you quickly and easily spread a rumor. Prereq: School Rank 1. As a Scheme action, you may make a Courtesy/Air check targeting each character in the scene, with TN equal to the lowest Vigilance among them. If you succeed, you create a rumor that everyone in the scene hears, and those with Vigilance less than your bonus successes even give some credence to. If spreading a rumor is your social objective in a Debate, you score (Air Ring+bonus successes) rhetorical points. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to learn one other rumor spreading in the current scene. XP Cost: 3.
Wolf's Proposal lets you make others perceive you as more or less honorable than you really are. Prereq: School Rank 4. As a Scheme action, you may make a Courtesy/Air or Performance/Air check targeting any number of characters in the scene, with TN equal to the highest Vigilance among them. If you succeed, each target behaves as if your Honor is 10 higher or lower than its actual value, plus or minus another 10 per bonus success, to a max of 100 or minimum of 0. Anyone can resist with a Sentiment check (TN 4, Fire 2, Earth 5) to determine your actual Honor. This lasts until the end of the scene. For one Opportunity symbol, you may learn if the Honor of one other character in the scene is higher than your actual Honor value. XP Cost: 3.

Earth Shuji are all about building others up with support, expectation and pressure. They are often quite direct and blunt.
Ancestry Unearthed lets you know stuff about people's families. Prereq: School Rank 1. When you make a Scholar Skill/Earth or Social Skill/Earth check targeting a character, you may spend Opportunities in new ways. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to know one sworn oath the character's family took in the past, and if they broke it or bent it. You may spend two Opportunity symbols to know one secret of the character's family they'd prefer forgotten and perhaps have worked to bury. You may spend three Opportunity symbols to know something even the character does not know about their ancestry. XP Cost: 2.
Civility Foremost lets you protect people with your honor. Prereq: School Rank 2. As a Scheme action, you may make a Command/Earth or Courtesy/Earth check targeting one character, with TN equal to their Vigilance. You claim protection for an individual of your choice as you do. If you succeed, the target must forfeit (Earth Ring+bonus successes) Honor and take equal Strife to perform an Attack or Scheme action targeting your chosen character. This lasts until the end of the scene or until the target performs an ATtack or Scheme action. You may spend Opportunity symbols to choose additional targets, one for one, who have Vigilance lower than or equal to the first's. XP Cost: 3.
Honest Assessment lets you help someone avoid a weakness. Prereq: School Rank 1. As a Support Action, you may make a TN 2 Courtesy/Earth check to appraise the weaknesses of a character. If you succeed, choose one of their known Disadvantages. They ignore that Disadvantage until the end of the scene. You may spend Opportunity symbols, one for one, to choose additional Disadvantages. You may spend two Opportunity symbols to reduce the TN of the target's next skill check using the Ring the Disadvantage is attached to by 2. XP Cost: 2. (I think that's a typo and should be 3.)
Pillar of Calm lets you deescalate conflicts. Prereq: School Rank 4. As a Scheme and Support action, you may make a Command/Earth check targeting a number of characters up to (Earth Ring*School Rank), with TN equal to the highest Strife among them. If you succeed while targeting all the leaders involved in the conflict, you may de-escalate it one level - Mass Battle to Skirmish, Skirmish to Duel, Duel to Debate. You may spend 2 or more Opportunity symbols to deescalate by an additional level per 2 symbols spent. XP Cost: 3.
Stonewall Tactics lets you sealion people. Prereq: School Rank 1. When making a Social Skill/Earth or Martial Skill/Earth check targeting a character, you may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the TN of any check the target makes that does not target you, 1 for 1. This effect lasts until the beginning of your next turn. XP Cost: 3. (I think that's a typo again.)
Touchstone of Courage lets you prevent panic. Prereq: School Rank 3. As a Support action, you can make a TN 4 Command/Earth check targeting any number of characers, or your cohort in mass battle. If you succeed in a Debate, Duel or Skirmish, each target adds (EArth Ring) to their Composure until the end of the scene. If you succeed in a Mass Battle, your army's Discipline is increased by (Earth Ring+bonus successes) until the end of the scene. You may spend two Opportunities during a Debate, Duel or Skirmish to alos remove (Earth Ring) Strife from each target. You may spend two Opportunities during a Mass Battle to remove (Earth Ring) Panic. XP Cost: 3.
The Immoveable Hand of Peace lets you stop fights. Prereq: School Rank 5. Once per session as a Scheme action during a Duel or Skirmish, you may make a TN 5 Command/Earth check targeting everyone in the scene. If you succeed, the scene becomes a Debate betweem you and the other principal players for (1+bonus successes) Rounds. If you have not achieved a peaceful resolution by then, it returns to its previous state. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to perform this action during a Mass Battle or other non-Debate form of Conflict. XP Cost: 3.
The Weight oF Duty lets you learn about the duties of others. Prereq: School Rank 1. When you make a Social Skill/Earth check targeting a character, you may spend Opportunities in new ways. You may spend 1 Opportunity symbol to learn one way the target fears failing as a samurai. You may spend 2 Opportunity symbols to learn the target's Giri. XP Cost: 2.

Fire Shuji are about provocation of emotional responses quickly.
Bravado[/o] lets you fake being more or less famous. Prereq: School Rank 4. As a Scheme action, you may make a Games/Fire or Performance/Fire check targeting any number of characters in the scene, with TN equal to the highest Vigilance among them. If you succeed, each target behaves as if your Glory was 10 higher or lower than its actual value, plus or minus 10 per bonus success, to a max of 100 and minimum of 0. If you do anything that'd call your Glory into question, anyone can resist with a Sentiment check (TN 4, Air 2, Water 3) to determine your actual Glory. This lasts until the end of the scene. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to learn if the Glory of one other character in the scene is higher than your actual Glory. XP Cost: 3.
Dazzling Performance lets you draw attention. Prereq: School Rank 3. When making an Artisan Skill/Fire, Games/Fire or Performance/Fire check, you may spend one Opportunity symbol to increase the amount of Glory you receive the next time you receive Glory this scene by 1. If a character of higher STatus is present, increase it by 1 per symbol spent, instead, and you can spend multiple symbols. XP Cost: 2.
Fanning the Flames lets you confuse and anger people. Prereq: School Rank 2. When making a Social Skill/Fire check targeting one or more characters, you may spend Opportunities in new ways. You may spend Opportunity symbols to make one target Dazed per symbol spent. You may spend 2 or more Opportunity symbols to make one target Enraged per two symbols spent. XP Cost: 2.
Lightning Raid lets you inspire others to greater speed. Prereq: School Rank 2. Once per scene, as an Attack and Movement action, you may make a TN 3 Command/Fire check targeting any number of characters in the scene, or one cohort in Mass Battle. If you succeed during a Skirmish, each target increases their Inititive by (Fire Ring+bonus successes) at the start of the next round. If you succeed during a Mass Battle, one enemy leader's cohort suffers (Fire Ring+bonus successes) Panic. During a skirmish, you may spend one Opportunity symbol to immediately perform a Strike action. During a Mass Battle, you may spend one Opportunity symbol to immediately perform an Assault action against the chosen enemy cohort's leader. XP Cost: 3.
Rallying Cry lets you energize people in battle. Prereq: School Rank 3. As a Support action, you may make a TN 2 Command/Fire or Performance/Fire check targeting any number of characters in the scene or one cohort in a Mass Battle. If you succeed. each target adds a kept Ring die showing Opportunity/Strife, presumably to their next checks but it actually doesn't say. This lasts until the end of your next turn. In a Skirmish, you may spend Opportunity symbols to have each enemy in the scene suffer 1 Strife per symbol spent. In a Mass Battle, you may spend Opportunity symbols to have the enemy army suffer 1 Panic per symbol spent. XP Cost: 3.
Sear the Wound lets you make someone feel really insecure. Prereq: School Rank 5. When making a Social Skill/Fire check targeting one or more characters, you spend Opportunities to choose one known Disadvantage of one of your targets per symbol spent. That Disadvantage applies all of the target's checks until the end of the scene. XP Cost: 2.
Sensational Distraction lets you distract people. Prereq: School Rank 1. When making a Social Skill/Fire check targeting one or more characters, you may spend Opportunity symbols. When interacting with other characters, the target treasure their Vigilance as 1 lower per symbol spent, and when interacting with you, 1 higher per symbol spent. This lasts until the end of the scene. XP Cost: 2.
Stirring the Embers lets you give someone a pep talk. Prereq: School Rank 1. When making a Social Skill/Fire check targeting one or more characters, you may spend Opportunities to choose a target and one of their known Advantages per symbol spent. Until the end of that scene, when that advantage applies, the target may reroll up to three dice rather than up to two. XP Cost: 2.
[]i]Truth Burns Through Lies
lets you figure out how you'd need to test a statement. Prereq: School Rank 1. When making a Scholar Skill/Fire check to assess a character's story, you may spend an Opportunity symbol to know if there is a single statement upon which the story hinges, what it is, and what you'd need to to verify or disprove it. XP Cost: 2.

Water shuji are all about emotional ploys and bribery.
All in Jest lets you laugh off missteps as a joke. Prereq: School Rank 1. When making a Commerce/Water, Courtesy/Water or Performance/Water check, you may spend Opportunity symbols to regain 1 Honor that you forfeited as part of this check per symbol spent this way to say something rude or appeal to the targets base desires. XP Cost: 2.
Bouyant Arrival lets you interupt people or leave without giving offense. Prereq: School Rank 5. As a Scheme action, you may make a Courtesy/Water check targeting up to (Water Ring) characters, with tN equal to the Vigilance of the highest Status among them. If you succeed, you may enter or leave the conversation gracefully and need not forfeit Honor or Glory to interrupt or suddenly depart, no matter what the Status of those involved. XP Cost: 3.
Ebb and Flow lets you invert Advantages and Disadvantages. Prereq: School Rank 3. As a Scheme or Support action, you may make a Courtesy/Water, Command/Water or Games/Water check targeting one character, with TN of their Vigilance. If you succeed on a Scheme, choose one of their known Advantages. For the rest of the scene, whenever it applies, it is a Disadvantage. If you succeed on a Support, do the same, but choose a Disadvantage, and it's an Advantage for the rest of the scene. XP Cost: 3. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to pick one additional Advantage or Disadvantage and apply the effect to it, too. You may spend Opportunity symbols to choose additional targets, 1 for 1, whose Vigilance is lower than or equal to the first's. XP Cost: 3.
Regal Bearing lets you fake being important. Prereq: School Rank 4. As a Scheme action, you may make a Command/Water or Performance/Water check targeting any number of characters in the scene, with TN equal to the highest Vigilance among them. If you succeed, each target treats your Status as being 10 higher or lower, plus or minus 10 per bonus success, to a max of 100 and a minimum of 0. If you do anything that might call your Status into question, anyone may resist with a Sentiment check (TN 4, EArth 2, Fire 5) to determine your actual Status. This lasts until the end of the scene. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to learn if the Status of one other character in the scene is higher than your actual Status. XP Cost: 3.
Shallow Waters lets you learn what people want. Prereq: School Rank 1. When you make a Social Skill/Water check targeting a character, you may spend Opportunities in new ways. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to learn one material item or worldly experience the target desires. You may spend 2 Opportunity symbols to learn the target's Ninjo. XP Cost: 2.
Slippery Manevuers lets you move people around. Prereq: School Rank 2. As a Movement and Support action, you may make a TN 2 Command/Water check targeting any number of friendly characters in the scene or your cohort during a Mass Battle. This can only be used in Skirmish or Mass Battle. If you succeed in a Skirmish, pick a piece of terrain you can see. Each target may immediately move 1 range band toward it, and Attack checks targeting any of your targets in the terrain treat the terrain as Obscuring. This lasts until the end of the scene. If you succeed in a Mass Battle, pick a piece of terrain or fortification. You and your cohort may immediately move to occupy it if it's unoccupied. Attack checks targeting you and your cohort while inside the terrain treat it as Obscuring. This lasts until the end of the scene. You may spend an Opportunity symbol to make the Obscuring effect on the chosen terrain increase TNs by 2 instead of 1 for the scene. XP Cost: 3.
Tributaries of Trade lets you get items. Prereq: School Rank 2. As a Schem and Support action, you may make a TN 1 Commerce/Water check to reveal an item you procured earlier, retroactively. Narratively, you got it last time you had the chance, you just only revealed it now. If you succeed, you produce an item with Rarity less than or requal to (1+bonus successes), though you must still pay for it. You may spend Opportunities to reduce its cost by 25% per symbol spent, to a minimum of 25% of the original price. XP Cost: 3.
Well of Desire lets you safely give bribes. Prereq: School Rank 1. When you make a Courtesy/Water check to present a gift to a target, you may spend an Opportunity symbol to force the target to have to forfeit (Water Ring) Glory to refuse your Gift. If it's something they desire, they must also take (Rarity) Strife to refuse it. If they accept the gift, reduce the TN of your next Social check targeting them by (Rarity). XP Cost: 2.

Void Shuji are about understanding inner mysteries.
All Arts are One lets you rapidly learn new things. Prereq: School Rank 3. As a Support action, you may make a TN 4 Martial Skill/Void, Games/Void or Performance/Void check to rapidly absorb a new activity covered by that skill. If you succeed, you immediately intuit how to use a new weapon, play a new game or perform a new instrument, song, dance or so on. You get no TN increases from it being totally new. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to choose a Ring and reduce the TN of your next check using that Ring by 1 until the end of your next turn, or the end of the scene in a narrative scene. XP Cost: 3.
A Samurai's Fate lets you keep people alive for a while. Prereq: School Rank 4. As an action, you may make a TN 5 Command/Void check targeting any number of characters, or your cohort during a Mass Battle. If you succeed during a Skirmish, each target ignores any crits with severity lower than (Void Ring+bonus successes) until the end of the scene, at which point they all take effect. If you succeed during a Mass Battle, your army gains the Fearless Army quality until the end of the scene. (This lets it remove Panic equal to your Glory Rank at the end of each round.) XP Cost: 3.
Courtier's Resolve lets you maintain composure. Prereq: School RAnk 1. Once per scene, as a Support action, you may sepnd 1 Void point to heal Strife until your total Strife is equal to (Composure-Honor Rank). XP Cost: 3.
Lady Doji's Decree lets you be super pretty and serene. Prereqs: Crane Clan, School Rank 2. Once per session, as an action, you may make a Courtesy/Void check targeting up to (School Rank) characters, with TN equal to the Vigilance of the one with highest Status. If you succeed, your targets cannot perform Attack actions targeting you for (1+bonus successes) rounds or until you perform an Attack action. You may spend Opportunity symbols to choose one additional target per symbol with Status lower than the first. You may spend two Opportunity symbols to also prevent Scheme actions targeting you. XP Cost: 3.
Lady Shinjo's Speed lets you travel super fast. Prereqs: Unicorn Clan, School Rank 2. As a downtime activity, if you have a steed available, you may make a TN 2 Survival/Void check to reach a destination. If you succeed, you arrive in half the time it would normally take, and up to one character can ride with you. You may spend an Opportunity symbol to lead up to (School Rank) willing characters with mounts of their own. XP Cost: 3.
Lord Akodo's Roar lets you scare people. Prereqs: Lion Clan, School Rank 2. Once per session, as an action, you can make a TN 1 Command/Void check targeting each hostile character within (School Rank) range bands. If you succeed, they are all Dazed. You may spend two or more Opportunity symbols to allow one other friendly character at range 0-3 per two symbols spent to immediately make a Strike action targeting a Dazed character. XP Cost: 3.
Lord Bayushi's Whisper lets you discover informants. PRereqs: Scorpion Clan, SChool Rank 2. Once per session, during a narrative scene or downtime, you may make a TN 2 Skulduggery/Void check to find an informant. If you succeed, reveal one informant that can tell you about a topic of your choice. You may spend an Opportunity symbol, if you succeed, to name a Skill. The informant has (School Rank) ranks in that skill and can make checks with it to help you until the end of the scene. XP Cost: 3.
Lord Togashi's Insight lets you receive visions from Togashi. Prereqs: Dragon Clan, School Rank 2. Once per session, as an action, you may make a TN 2 Meditation/Void check. If you succeed, you get a brief vision or hear Togashi's voice giving you a hint about how to proceed. This hint will not be a full answer, but should be helpful. You may spend an Opportunity symbol to reduce the TN of your first check to overcome the problem facing you by (School Rank). XP Cost: 3.
Rouse the Soul lets you heal minds. Prereq: School Rank 5. When making a Social Skill/Void or Theology/Void check targeting one or more characters, you may spend Opportunities to remove one of Afflicted, Enraged, Fatigued, Intoxicated or Unconscious from one target per symbol spent. Yes, you can talk the drunk out of them. XP Cost: 2.

Next time: Maho

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 02:35 on Oct 11, 2017

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




The thing that gets me the most about the Starfinder vehicle chase rules is that Pathfinder has chase rules as well and those do take into account your speed.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Happy October y'all! Don't burn yourselves out on projects such as these by attempting to keep momentum going! It's okay to take a break and come back when you find that passion again!

This isn't directed at anyone, this is just me making myself feel less bad.

But it's October! And October deserves some horror games, don't you think? This year, submitted for your approval, are two games that have two things in common but with wildly different executions. One will get a pretty decent write-up, the other will get a quick and dirty rundown full of hot takes and things that jump out at me. The former you might've heard of, the latter probably not. Those things are:

1: they are all centered around playing as child characters or at least place a heavy importance on playing as children.
2: they are both horror games that have successfully managed to scare me/make me uncomfortable and I will go into detail as to why they were successful in that regard.

So let's begin with the latter game, the one that's going to be hard and fast. I first came across it around the year 2009 or the real early 2010s, 2011 at the latest, back when I was still an occasional viewer of the tabletop chan. I saw the name, I saw the pitch, I downloaded it out of curiosity and then deleted it in disgust when I dug into it a bit. This game is called KidWorld and boy howdy, it took me until 2017 to track down a PDF of it and read it and it still kinda disgusts me.

KIDWORLD



KidWorld is set in our world in around 2012, four years after a total global societal collapse that left children as the inheritors of the earth. Remember how I said this was a horror game? Well, KidWorld positions itself as a survival horror game but it's very much a pure horror game. It was produced by Vajra Enterprises which has had two games reviewed in the past in this thread: In Dark Alleys and Hoodoo Blues. IDA is...not great. Hoodoo Blues is pretty interesting and has kernels of ideas that I enjoyed.

Of the two, KidWorld has way more in common with IDA than HB. I'll let the official content warning this book actually comes with speak for itself.


God I hate this though. It's accurate and it warns against pretty much everything bad in the book but it looks like poo poo.

BACKGROUND

The world of KidWorld ostensibly begins in what would be our world in 2008. To go into basic detail, a plague has ravaged the world that has resulted swathes of adults dying in droves. The survivors were thankful to be alive...but then found that they were going blind as a side-effect of survival. The only people on earth exempt from the sickness and the blindness were children. In a panic and convinced that this plague was the fault of the Middle East and terrorism, governments of the world started press-ganging children into armies and creating child soldier camps while their soldiers could still see. If children could still see, then children could protect the countries from other countries taking advantage of their moment of weakness. This kind of panned out as well as one would think it would, meaning that the armies took in far too many children and the kids escaped and rebelled. But this action had a worse effect of sending a message to every child of the world: you can't trust adults, they just want to enslave you and use you. In turn kids began to enslave the blind adults, which leads to the general state of society that exists. KidWorld focuses on North America (well okay it focuses on the USA, the whole "child soldiers protecting us against the Middle East" thing is pretty much just America's idea though other countries do create child soldiers for protection allegedly) and the state of things four years later.

Societies can be boiled down into four communities. You have communities where there are only kids who have either driven away or killed all of the adults, living by mob rule or their attempts at government. The alternate form is a community where kids are in charge and they enslave adults to use them as sources of information or menial labor, never fully trusting adults. On the other side are communities that are adult-only which tend to be rather pathetic and rely on subsistence farming and the hopes that they can attract kids to live with them and help them survive. Also possible are adult-lead communities where kids are enslaved, their eyesight put to use and their bodies shackled to prevent escape. All of these communities exist at an agricultural scavenger level with higher-tech communities generally being ones where adults enslave kids. Power-grids worldwide have failed and technology and infrastructure is falling into disrepair. All communities are generally isolated and autonomous due to collapsed communication systems and because traveling is difficult. Farming is coming back in a major way as both adults and kids currently heavily rely on pre-plague canned food and that's a volatile good that will run out. But despite problems with a technology crash, adults are finding ways to survive with their blindness and figure out ways to master their surroundings.

Theoretically there can be communities where adults and kids live in harmony but again, theoretically. If they exist, they're few and far between.

What the world isn't lacking is danger. The main reason children survive and thrive in our world is because there are hundreds of interconnected safety nets in place. Even if some of them snap, there is generally something still functioning. To be absolutely heartless and callous with my examples, even if absolutely everything fails a child in this modern world and they're left with nothing and rendered homeless and social programs cannot or fail to help them, there's still cities to huddle in, people to rob and things to take. The existence of a functioning society can help keep people and children alive. Childbirth is no less dangerous to the child and the mother, we just have ways with technology and medicine to help both survive as best as we can if they have access to it. Disease is no less dangerous, we just have vaccines and medicines if they have access to it.

But it's like you see when people strip away those safety nets intentionally or unwittingly due to negligence: kids die. If enough parents don't vaccinate those kids for mumps and measles, those kids will catch mumps and measles and will likely die. If you don't put a seat belt on your kid, if you don't take your kid to the doctor, if you don't teach them to be careful, if you don't keep weapons and poisons away from them, kids die. Hell, you don't even have to look much further than the turn of the 20th century to see what life was like before we put some more nets in place. And when society crumbles and adults can't do jack or poo poo to help them, kids die. KidWorld is unblinkingly lethal and unflinchingly cruel to kids and let me be perfectly frank: it's an interesting thought experiment for you to play as blind people but it would require the perfect GM, atmosphere and player combo. Playing as adults is mechanically possible but there is often a huge gap between mechanics and execution. Your other option to play as are teenagers who are basically the compromise class. Teens are half-blind and suffer from degenerating sight the older they get but are also more intelligent, capable and strong.

But, generally speaking, you will be playing as children. And there is absolutely no safety for kids in this world.

This is all introduction, FYI. I'm cutting out the few pages where the book discusses the evolution of the role and view of children in western society with labor laws and social mores and poo poo. This game is 277 pages long and the first 121 are all just chargen, d20 rules and mechanics, equipment, etc. 122-211 are all about the current state of the world and adventure hooks, the rest of the book is alternate scenarios and...rules for LARP along with other guides and stuff. Yes, really. There are LARP rules. But I'm going to keep this as light as I can and mostly just share weird and interesting and notable stuff. I'm skipping the intricacies of skills like how it's a DC 10 Acrobatics check to do a cartwheel, I'm going to go light on how d20 works because I would hope y'all know at this point. Plus frankly the world itself is more interesting because of how bad and depressing it is.

The main reason I put this book down to begin with when I first found it was because of the three pieces of intro fiction scattered through the intro. First is a letter from a parents to their daughter and how they believe she can survive and thrive when they're gone. Second is the story of a bunch of kids tentatively befriending a blind adult they believe to be a bearded teenager who claims he wrote a sign that says "don't trust adults" in their base in a school. When they invite him back to their base, he waits until they fall asleep, bashes their heads in with a rock and pops their eyes out with a knife and eats them, taunting the last girl who wakes up in his rampage that he killed the kids who originally wrote it and not to feel bad that they were just as dumb as the last bunch. There's an actual reason he's done this, it's edgy and stupid but there's a reason. The last story is about a bunch of kids trying to negotiate with an older woman with a shotgun sitting on her porch to share her canned food and deciding to burn her house down and set her on fire and steal her food and gun in the blaze when she won't share.

The moment I read those last two stories that literally come on the heels of one another after a page was when I closed the book and deleted it nine years ago. The main reason why I consider this book scary and uncomfortable is because Vajra attempts to make realistic games and, well, I would argue they succeeded horribly? I look at this and none of it really feels nice. None of this feels good. It's a horrifically bleak setting that will never improve (you'll see why later) that has some of the cruft and dumb decisions/assumptions of their other games (like IDA) mixed with brutal and unflinching writing and worldbuilding that focuses on the lethality of the setting.

If you ever wanted to play Lord of the Flies in d20, well congrats, here we are.

This feeling sure as hell hasn't changed in 2017! This book was uncomfortable. It was just as unflinching and unblinking...up until my years reading other RPGs in the interim made me groan at all of the mechanics. The fact that this game is so unwieldy in a way to make an indie heartbreaker actually makes this game tolerable in a dumb way. But, again, we'll be taking this at a reasonable clip, and hopefully the sheer idiocy of some of this product will turn this from a depressing The Road-style apocalyptic game to something with a bit more bathos. I mean, hell, look at that cover art. That cover art basically perfectly encapsulates the game. It's so over the top and committed that you just kinda laugh when you're not baffled or depressed.

So come on back next time when we talk about CHARACTER CREATION for kids and adults. There's a whole lot for kids, a whole lot less for adults and a whole lot of strange design choices such as three different types of health, owning a pony being considered a disadvantage, kids knowing how to drive tanks and Braille being a pretty vital skill.

Oh and realtalk if any of this makes you uncomfortable, by all means roll on by. All of those warnings from the top of the review are in play for pretty much the whole book (though frankly the existence of drugs is the least problem this book has). Check back in with my posts for the other game once this is done, you might prefer a game that has less of a head up its own rear end.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




I went looking on the Paizo forum to see if anyone there brought up vehicle speeds. Indeed someone did! It immediately devolved into a mild disagreement over non-Newtonian space combat movement, completely forgetting that the vehicle movement speeds themselves are hosed.

a very wise poster posted:

That's the speed that allows you to turn freely.

You also have to remember that a round lasts 6 seconds. You can totally accelerate a car to a high speed within 6 seconds.

Also, you can do a drive by shoot. There's multiple ways to do it. You can drive + shoot. You can race, then engage the autocontrol so you can spend a turn shooting, then regain control of the vehicle.

Amazing.

As much as I appreciate ARB's work, I want to directly lay out the rules here, because after reading ARB's post I had to go find the book and read this insane bullshit myself, and I think everyone needs to see directly just how loving stupid this is.

Vehicle movement speeds are listed as: X ft., Y ft., Z mph

The first value is a vehicle's Drive speed which is the only normal move action you can take with it. The second is its "full speed" which you have to use if you want to go faster than Drive without (deliberately) hitting poo poo. The last is its "miles per hour for overland movement over the terrain type for which the vehicle was designed" which is strategic/cut-away montage travel speed. The way the math works, this means that the speed you use to cruise down the highway or whatever, is what the tactical combat system considers careening around almost uncontrolled at maximum speed.

The urban cruiser is also one of the fastest vehicles in the book. Here's a full accounting, with level restrictions:

Goblin Junkcycle (level 1): 15 ft., full 250 ft., 28 mph
Basic Enercycle (level 1): 20 ft., full 200 ft., 22 mph
Exploration Buggy (level 1): 15 ft., full 350 ft., 40 mph
Torpedo Mini-sub (level 1): 20 ft., full 200 ft., 22 mph (swim)
Urban Cruiser (level 2): 20 ft., full 500 ft., 55 mph
Police Cruiser (level 4): 25 ft., full 650 ft., 75 mph (ground and fly)
All-Terrain Transport (level 6): 10 ft., full 450 ft., 50 mph
Pump-Jet Sub (level 6): 10 ft., full 450 ft., 50 mph (swim)
Hover Pod (level 7): 30 ft., full 550 ft., 65 mph (hover)

There you go. loving look at this.

I'm curious to see at what level your space-faring sci-fi heroes who want a cool futurebike are allowed to ride something other than a puttering scooter.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 09:33 on Oct 11, 2017

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


I can only assume that the people who wrote those Starfinger rules have never driven a car.

I mean... they're so bad and so detached from reality that I can't understand how they happened.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




It's reminiscent of the weapon tables. It's clear there is some design principle and math behind it, but it all seems very pre-first draft. Like, why even put this level of thought into it if you're going to throw up your hands not even halfway to an adequate outcome?

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Night10194 posted:

Games routinely and constantly go completely batshit bonkers over guns and cars. But especially cars.

I don't think there's ever been a good set of chase scene rules, like ever. It's like crafting, it's one of those things people keep throwing themselves at and failing.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


DalaranJ posted:

I don't have a copy of those rules anymore, but this really just sounds like a pathflanderization of d20 Modern chase rules.

They're only very vaguely like the Pathfinder chase rules (which are much closer to a variant of the combat rules), and d20 Modern didn't have formal chase rules that I'm aware of.

They're obviously a distant descendant of Spycraft 1.0's chase rules but are much, much simpler.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Ratoslov posted:

I don't think there's ever been a good set of chase scene rules, like ever. It's like crafting, it's one of those things people keep throwing themselves at and failing.

Which is odd, because there's a number of car chase/racing board games that are pretty good. Formula D comes to mind.

Crafting, however, is always terrible for one simple reason: Too many players who want to just stop everything to make stuff, forcing everyone else to sit on their thumbs while they and the ST navigate the crafting rules. Making crafting a "downtime action" could help this but they character who sits in their lab making stuff all day isn't really a viable character in most games.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

I have hopes that the rise of the "vignette" mechanic in RPGs will eventually lead to someone creating a crafting system that's good.

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!


Crafting's really hard to get right in almost any system or videogame. You always either get crafting that's OP and lets you beat anything that's in stores or as randomized loot, or you get crafting that's overly expensive and really only lets you make cheap knockoffs of the good gear, perhaps handy in some sort of low-equipment situation where you lose all your poo poo(but that's rarely what game systems are made to deal with).

Likewise, vehicle rules I've only ever seen done well or enjoyably when they're all the game is about, like when it's 100% a racing or vehicle combat game, with a board and rules all about it.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Ratoslov posted:

I don't think there's ever been a good set of chase scene rules, like ever. It's like crafting, it's one of those things people keep throwing themselves at and failing.

Spycraft has pretty good chase rules. And to be fair, Starfinger's rules are close to OK and a revision or two could have ironed out the issues. They're at at least close to viable, unlike the vehicle combat rules, which probably could use a complete rewrite.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


Fragged Empires actually does crafting-as-downtime really well. A big part of that, though, is that it has an entire downtime sub-system to account for it, and every character will by default have something they can do with it. That's usually the key issue with crafting - only one player engages with it, so when it comes up, everyone else just sits around checking their phones.

FE and other games that do it well make sure crafting is just one option out of several for downtime, and that all of the options are at least useful. FE makes most of them engaging too, though there's a couple that are clearly defaults for players who aren't really interested in that part of the game and use the opportunity for a bathroom break or to go on a food run. But if you want to be involved, you can be preparing articles for scientific journals or running a small spy ring while the mechanic fucks around in their toolshop.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Legend of the Five Rings: Mahoromatic

Maho is evil magic - both the type and the name of the spells, like invocations. While invocations are granted by mercurial but ultimately benevolent kami, the spells of maho are granted by kansen - evil spirits, Jigoku's kami or corrupted kami. They care only for destruction, despair and blood. Those who wield maho are called maho-tsukai, and are despised by all right-thinking people. The Empire hunts them, but they are unfortunately often quite subtle and hard to spot. Unlike invocations, maho are often indirect and staggered. They start with subtle curses, and only then can the kansen act in more unpleasant ways. It can be done quickly in battle, but more often it is not, and is done slowly and subtly. Only those with the Shadowlands Taint disadvantage can buy maho, but anyone with it can, as long as they have a source of evil lore. Unlike invocations, maho always require some form of sacrifice - usually blood, but evil acts can work. Small amounts of blood will satisfy, but the greatest powers are drawn forth by human sacrifice or deep and horrific breaking of your personal code. If you perform an exceptional sacrifice, you count as having a Distinction Advantage on the maho check.

Like invocations, maho can also suffer backlash. If you get 3 or more Strife symbols on a maho check, you take a crit with severity equal to double the number of your Shadowlands Taint Disadvantages, then gain a Shadowlands Taint Disadvantage for a Ring that didn't have it already. Also like invocations, you may beg the kansen for a maho you don't know, once per scene. You have to kill a person or cross a previously inviolable moral line to do it, however. The kansen are generous in one sense, though - while you only get one shot at the maho, its TN is not increased. Maho always cost 3 XP.

Incite Haunting lays the basic curse. Prereq: School Rank 1. As an Attack and Scheme action, you may make a Theology check targeting a character or corpse at range 0-1, with a Ring of your choice and TN of their Vigilance, or 1 for a corpse. If you succeed, the target gets the Afflicted condition for the Ring you used, and you get the Shadowlands Taint Disadvantage for the Ring you used if you didn't already have it. If you fail with a shortfall of two or more, your target notices what you were doing. You may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the maximum range of this technique by one range band per symbol spent. You may spend Opportunity symbols to target additional characters or corpses, 1 for 1.
Grip of Anguish calls down sickness and agony. Prereq: School Rank 1. As an Attack action, you may make a Theology/Water check targeting one Afflicted character at range 0-2, with TN of their Vigilance. If you succeed, they take (Water Ring+Tainted Rings) supernatural damage and Strife, and you get Shadowlands Taint (Water). You may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the maximum range of this technique by one range band per symbol spent. You may spend Opportunity symbols to target additional characters, 1 for 1. You may spend 1-3 Opportunity symbols to force a target to make a Fitness check (TN 3, Earth 1, Air 4) or suffer one of Dazed, Disoriented or Immobilized per symbol spent. You may spend 2 Opportunity symbols to force a target to make a Fitness check (TN 3, Earth 1, Air 4) or suffer one of Bleeding, Incapacitated or Injured Body Part.
Mark of Desecration raises zombies. Prereq: School Rank 1. As a Support action, you may make a TN 2 Theology/Earth check targeting up to (Earth Ring) Afflicted corpses at range 0-3. If you succeed, they all rise as Zombie Peasants and you get Shadowlands Taint (Earth). Even if you fail, an area of one range band around each target becomes Defiled terrain. You may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the maximum range of this technique by one range band per symbol spent. You may spend Opportunity symbols to target additional corpses, 1 for 1. You may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the zombies' Resilience by 1 per symbol spent. You may spend 2 Opportunity symbols to allow the zombies use your Skill ranks instead of their own.
Sinful Whispers makes people listen to you. Prereq: School Rank 1. As an Attack and Scheme action, you may make a Theology/Air check targeting an Afflicted character at range 0-4, with TN of their Vigilance. If you succeed, they must answer your questions honestly and do not find doing so remarkable for (Air Ring+Tainted Rings) rounds, and you get Shadowlands Taint (Air). You may spend 1 Opportunity symbol to make them not remember what you asked after. You may spend 3 Opportunity symbols to give them a simple order. They may resist, but for each scene in which they do, they take 2 Strife, and the next time they have an Outburst, they must attempt to fulfill the order. This lasts until they attempt to fulfill the order, succeed or fail.
Unholy Fervor blesses the Tainted. Prereq: School Rank 1. As a Support action, you may make a TN 2 Theology/Fire check targeting one Afflicted or Tainted character at range 0-3. If you succeed, until the end of the scene, the target treats any Curse and Shadowlands Taint Disadvantages as Advantages on any check where they apply instead, and you get Shadowlands Taint (Fire). You may spend Opportunity symbols to increase the maximum range of this technique by one range band per symbol spent. You may spend Opportunity symbols to target additional characters, 1 for 1. You may spend one Opportunity symbol to make all targets Enraged.

Now, some equipment stuff! Any time you want to buy stuff, you can spend a downtime action or action in a narrative scene at a market to do so, making a Commerce/Water check with TN of the item's Rarity to find it. If you do, you can then buy it for the listed price, try to get the merchant to go to your lord's representative for payment, or otherwise get the item. The GM may modify the TN based on where you are - Otosan Uchi and Ryoko Owari are big cities, so the TN might go down by 2 there, say. That said, your lord will usually give you any items you truly require. A bushi sent to war will usually get ashigaru armor, any weapons they favor and maybe a pony, say. Likewise for other tasks. If you feel you need something else, you can spend a downtime action or narrative action in a scene where you have access to your lord or their rep to make a Courtesy check (or other appropriate skill) and request an item. The TN is the item's Rarity minus your Glory rank, and success means your lord will come through for you, though it may take some time. Again, the GM can modify the TN.

In theory, samurai never pay for things - their lord will, as they are his retainers, and traditionalist samurai often see money as unclean or rude to carry. In practice, however, cash is very useful to have on hand. It can make your work for your lord easier if you have immediate compensation rather than an IOU, and peasants will generally be more cooperative if paid appropriately. Some people, like criminals or mercenaries, may not even accept your lord's IOU!

Now, weapons. Weapons have a number of stats. First, their Skill is the one you use to wield the weapon. Their Range is the distance at which you can effectively attack with the weapon, and is both a maximum and a minimum - if you get inside past a weapon's effective range, it's not very useful. It has a Damage, which is the base number of Wounds you deal when you hit with it. It has a Deadliness, the base severity of a crit with the weapon. It will list one or two Grips - how many hands you can wield it with, and any statistical changes associated with using one or two hands. You can switch between grips whenever you have a chance to ready a weapon. There will also be a list of Qualities, which modify how the weapon is used but don't apply to its basic statistics. Like all items, it will also have a Rarity and a price.

Some examples:
Katana: Skill: Martial Arts [Melee], Range 1, Damage 4, Deadliness 5, Grips: 1-Handed, 2-Handed (Deadliness +2), Qualities: Ceremonial, Razor-Edged. Rarity: 7. Price: 20 koku.
Jian: Skill: Martial Arts [Melee], Range 0-1, Damage 4, Deadliness 4, Grips: 1-Handed, 2-Handed (Deadliness +1), Rarity: 7, Price: 15 koku.
Jitte: Skill: Martial Arts [Melee], Range 0, Damage 1, Deadliness 2, Grips: 1-Handed, Qualities: Concealable, Snaring, Rarity: 5, Cost: 5 bu.
Tetsubo: Skill: Martial Arts [Melee], Range: 1, Damage 8, Deadliness 3, Grips: 2-Handed, Qualities: Cumbersome, Durable, Wargear, Rarity: 5, Cost: 20 koku.
Naginata: Skill: Martial Arts [Melee], Range 2, Damage 6, Deadliness 6, Grips: 2-Handed, Qualities: Cumbersome, Razor-Edged, Wargear, Rarity: 7, Cost: 10 koku.
Punch: Skill: Martial Arts [Unarmed], Range 0-1, Damage 1, Deadliness 2, Qualities: Snaring, Natural
Kick: Skill: Martial Arts [Unarmed], Range 1, Damage 3, Deadliness 2, Qualities: Natural
Bite: Skill: Martial Arts [Unarmed], Range 0, Damage 1, Deadliness 4, Qualities: Natural
Yumi: Skill: Martial Arts [Ranged], Range 2-5, Damage 5, Deadliness 3, Grips: 2-Handed, Rarity: 3, Cost: 20 koku.
Crossbow: Skill: Martial Arts [Ranged], Range 2-5, Damage 7, Deadliness 3, Grips: 2-Handed, Qualities: Wargear, Rarity: 7, Cost: 30 koku.
Improvised Weapon (Blunt): Skill: Martial Arts [Unarmed], Range 0-1, Damage 2, Deadliness 2, Grips: 1-Handed, 2-Handed (Damage +2), Qualities: Mundane, Rarity: 1
Improvised Weapon (Edged): Skill: Martial Arts [Unarmed], Range 0-1, Damage 1, Deadliness 3, Grips: 1-Handed, 2-Handed (Deadliness +2), Qualities: Mundane, Concealable, Razor-Edged, Rarity: 1

Armor has different stats. First, Physical Resistance, which directly reduces the wounds dealt by physical damage, to a minimum of 0. Second, Supernatural Resistance, which does the same for supernatural damage. Then it can have Qualities, and it has Rarity and Cost. You may only benefit from one set of armor at a time - even if you layer armor, you only mechanically get to count one layer of it. You also can only benefit from one effect that boosts the Resistance (physical or supernatural) of that armor at a time. If you'd have more than one, you choose which applies.

Some examples:
Sleeping Garb: Rarity 2, Cost: 1 koku.
Common Clothes: Physical Resistance 1, Qualities: Mundane, Rarity 1, Cost: 1 bu.
Sanctified Robes: Physical Resistance 1, Supernatural Resistance 3, Qualities: Ceremonial, Rarity: 5, Cost: 2 koku.
Inconspicuous Garb: Physical Resistance 1, Qualities: Mundane, Subtle, Rarity 3, Cost: 2 bu.
Ashigaru Armor: Physical Resistance 3, Qualities: Wargear, Rarity: 3, Cost: 5 koku.
Lacquered Armor: Physical Resistance 4, Qualities: Ceremonial, Wargear, Rarity: 6, Cost: 25 koku.
Plated Armor: Physical Resistance 5, Qualities: Cumbersome, Durable, Wargear, Rarity: 7, Cost: 40 koku.

So what do those Qualities mean? Well, they all have various rules effects!

Ceremonial: This item is indicative of identity and rank, and using the Ceremonial goods of others frequently is frowned on. To use another character's Ceremonial gear without permission, you must forfeit 1 Honor. While openly wearing Ceremonial gear, you reduce the TN of any check to convince others of your identity as the known holder of the item or their retainer or ally by 1.
Concealable: This item is easily hidden. Unless explicitly worn openly or readied for use, it is assumed to be hidden, and requires a TN 3 Design/Air or Smithing/Air check to notice it even exists, and at least 2 bonus successes to know what it is exactly. Concealable armor can be worn beneath loose-fitting clothes, but you still have to pick just one set of armor to be mechanically relevant. When a Concealable item would gain Cumbersome, it instead loses Concealable.
Cumbersome: This item is bulky or heavy. It cannot be concealed on your person by mundane means. The TN of any Movement action or other check to reposition yourself is increased by 1 per Cumbersome item you are carrying past the first. When a Cumbersome item would gain Concealable, it instead loses Cumbersome.
Damaged: This item is damaged. If a tool, all TNs of checks using it go up by 1. If a weapon, it gets -2 Damage and -2 Deadliness, to a minimum of 0. If armor, it reduces all Resistances it has by 2, to a minimum of 0. If a Damaged item would gain Damaged, it loses Damaged and gains Destroyed instead.
Destroyed: This item is unusable. It cannot be used as anything more than an improvised weapon or tool, and then only at the GM's whim.
Durable: This item is tough. When a Durable item would gain Damaged, it instead loses Durable.
Mundane: This item is unremarkable in daily life. You may carry it in most social circumstances without question, and anyone is allowed to wear it openly, though some may note you are armed.
Natural: This is part of your body. It always counts as being readied unless you are somehow bound.
Razor-Edged: This is a very sharp item. This Quality is required for some techniques. When you succeed at an Attack action with this item but the damage is reduced to 0 by Resistance, this item gains Damaged.
Resplendent: This is a very attention-grabbing item. While you are wearing one or more Resplendent items, any time you gain 1 or more Glory, you gain 1 additional Glory. When a Resplendent item would gain Subtle, it instead loses Resplendent.
Sacred: This item has purifying power, usually due to jade. When a Shadowlands beast or Tainted character attempts an Attack or Scheme action against you while you have at least one Sacred item, increase the TN by 1. When you would gain Afflicted, instead one of your Sacred items gains Damaged. Sacred weapons ignore all Resistances of Shadowlands beasts or Tainted characters. If a Sacred item would gain Unholy, it instead loses Sacred. If it was made of jade, the jade turns to pure water and drips off.
Snaring: This item is good at grabbing. Certain techniques require this Quality.
Subtle: This item doesn't stand out. The TN to gain information about the item or its wearer is increased by 1, and the GM may also apply this to checks to learn about the creator of the item's intention in creating it. When a Subtle item would gain Resplendent, it instead loses Subtle.
Unholy: This item is tainted. It may be made so by Shadowlands taint, or it may be made of obsidian, which absorbs negative emotion and power (which the Shadowlands and Fu Leng have in infinite amount). Whenever a character takes damage or a crit from an Unholy weapon, they become Afflicted for the Ring associated with their stance. At the end of any scene in which you use an Unholy item, you must make a TN 4 Meditation check with the Ring of your choice or become Afflicted for that Ring. When an Unholy item would become Sacred, it instead loses Unholy. If it was made of obsidian, the obsidian parts turn into blood and burn off in acrid smoke.
Wargear: This item is distinctly martial and inappropriate socially. Whenever your actions while wearing at least one Wargear item would cause Strife to a character (including you!) that character takes 1 additional Strife.

Some notes: Ammo is not tracked unless it's special. It is assumed anyone with a quiver has sufficient normal arrows. If they go especially long without a chance to refill reasonably, the GM may give them a Void Point to make their quiver run out at the end of the next scene they use it in. You do specifically track special arrows, such as fleshcutters or armor-piercers. You can refill an empty quiver by visiting anywhere you could get arrows from, or by making arrows with Survival and the proper supplies. You can also get poisons, which can be ingested for an effect or applied to a weapon to modify the weapon's stats until its next successful Attack. And, of course, the traveling pack makes its triumphant return, and so every character can, if they like, begin play with a dog.

Next time: Types of scene

Also, the best crafting systems are Ars Magica and Blades in the Dark.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm about to have my first PC runesmith in my whfrp group and we only just now noticed there are no rules for him forging the stuff, only runing it. I can't tell if I'm happier to spot rule it or sad that I won't get to review a crafting system

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




I think the party line on the lack of basic item crafting rules was that they wanted the game to be about adventuring, not day jobs, but I think they just forgot seeing how Runesmithing has a full system.

There's some nonsensical post somewhere from one of the writers about how if you want to put it in you should give the guy 10 silver of progress for each DOS he gets and eventually he'll reach the cost of the item and make it, but that's obviously the guy just posting something to shut people up.

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Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.


I think car chases work in board games better than most RPGs because RPG writers approach them from entirely the wrong angle and overcomplicate them. The core conceit of a car chase is pretty simple; one party wants to get away, the other party wants to stop the first party getting away. It's a matter of managing distance, speed, negotiating obstacles and finding an opportunity to escape. The rules could be applied to any chase scene, for that matter, possibly with varying focus on escaping, outlasting, or even defeating your pursuer in a running fight. (And of course, could work from the other angle as well)

The problem is when you try to simulate all that rather than abstract the important bits.

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