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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





PurpleXVI posted:

2nd ed AD&D was generally pretty short on caster supremacy. Though I'd say settings with little of it, possibly even less of it, would be Birthright or Dark Sun. The former because mages are really rare and the latter because casting spells in puiblic gets you hunted down by a mob.
2E was honestly pretty good; the main thing is that they kept coming up with more and more spells and fewer and fewer restrictions on spellin' it up.

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Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Space fighters could totally fit into a D&D-in-space reskin. Hell, could just have space combat be a reskin of regular grid-based combat, with all the space fighters having weapons and abilities that happen to match their pilots.

Alternatively; Gundams. poo poo, I think I just invented a better setting than Starfinger already.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

D&D 3e had caster supremacy precisely because they lifted a lot of the AD&D-era limitations on spellcasters (and also because a lot of the mechanical changes then ate away at all of the natural advantages that martials had)

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


They also took away a lot of the ancillary benefits other classes accrued, like keeps and followers. Itís a lot easier for the fighter to keep up with the wizard in terms of narrative agency when they literally have an army at their back.

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!


The saving throws rework was also huge.

In 2e AD&D, saving throws naturally became better as you levelled up, but outside one or two spells, wizards had nothing to worsen a target's saving throws. Which meant that high-level enemies(or PC's) were almost always guaranteed to make their saves, making them relatively impregnable to save-or-die/save-or-suck attacks, and forcing any direct target options there to rely primarily on damage(and otherwise in creative spell applications to terrain and surroundings).

Once you moved to 3e, however, while saving throws grew consistently, now they were pitted against a caster power DC of some sort, and casters had a lot of ways to make sure they outstripped saving throw growth for both PC's and NPC's.

Magic Resistance, which a lot of iconic enemies like Mind Flayers and Drow had, was also the bane of casters, since it was a straight % chance to shrug off a directly targeted spell, unlike 3.x's somewhat forgettable Spell Resistance. Which meant that against certain enemies, Mages were relegated to summons, buff spells and battlefield management, and couldn't just Power Word: Kill enemies.

Aside from that you had attack speed and interrupts, a lot of powerful spells were also relatively slow spells almost guaranteed to let an enemy in ranged or melee combat get an attack in first unless they were wielding a big two-hander. And even 1 point of damage before a spell went off would make it completely poof and be disrupted, a total waste of a cast. Mages really NEEDED either magical defenses or their friendly meatshields, in some fashion, to be truly dangerous.

2e also lacked Sorcerers, which meant that mages were always at the mercy of having memorized the right spells for the day/situation.

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




PurpleXVI posted:


2e also lacked Sorcerers, which meant that mages were always at the mercy of having memorized the right spells for the day/situation.

Given that in 3.X the Wizard is significantly stronger than the Sorcerer this isn't as much of a limitation as you'd think.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

Sorcerers have a narrower scope since their toolset has less in it, even if theyíre a little more flexible. Not many sorcs are going to take Water Breathing, tongues and other single issue spells when they have to pick between those and Haste, but a wizard can easily swap those in when he hears about the mermaid merchant nearby.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Starfinger Core Rules Part #17: "We want magic to augment what your character does, we don't want your character to only be able to do magic."
(Credit: Amanda Hamon Kunz, Starfinger Design Team Member, GenCon Q&A Transcript)



Above: can you spot the magic? Because I can't.

Because you may travel light years across the galaxy, but you can't escape slot-and-level casting. To be fair, Starfinger curbs the power of spellcasters somewhat, limiting them to spells of levels zero through six. On the other hand, another limitation of spellcasters is hacked away with in the form of variable-level spells. A curbed spellcaster is still very much a spellcaster.

Variable-level spells are spells that can be cast at different levels. So instead of learning cure light wounds, cure moderate wounds, cure that wound in your heart from when your love left you, etc., you learn just mystic cure and choose what level you cast when you cast it. However, the weird and clunky catch is that the maximum level you can cast it is the level you learn it at. So if you learn mystic cure as a 3rd-level spell, you can cast it as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level, but never 4th, 5th, or 6th unless you relearn it again later, at which point you get the earlier spell refunded and you can learn another spell of the same level in its place.

However, there are no more Concentration checks, no more Defensive Casting rolls as in Pathfinder. If you cast a spell in melee, you trigger an Attack of Opportunity. If you take damage, the spell is lost. In addition, if conditions arbitrarily cause you to lose concentration, like getting blasted into vacuum, you can't cast spells. This is also an issue for spells that take 1 round or longer. Combat Casting still exists as a feat, but it only grants +2 to AC against attacks of opportunity and Reflex saves triggered while spellcasting. In a momentary Murphy's Rule, getting set on fire will break your concentration. Being on fire will not. You can still cast all the spells you want while you're on fire once you've gotten over the initial shock..

Otherwise, spellcasting matches its d20 counterparts for the most part. There are only two types of spells currently: Mystic and Technomancer. Mystic spells are the equivalent of Cleric with a slight bit more of a psychic theme, and Technomancers are Wizards with a notable technological theme. And for those that might worry that spellcasters have been cut down too much...

... don't worry about that.



Mystic Spells

Mystic 1
  • Charm Person: gently caress Envoys.
  • Detect Thoughts: No, seriously, gently caress Envoys.
  • Mystic Cure: Healing SP is now simple, but healing HP quick is still largely a spellcaster-exclusive province.
  • Reflecting Armor: When you take damage, you automatically reflect up to 10 points of it back to the attacker, then the spell is expended. No save. Why would there be a save?
Mystic 2
  • Augury: Requires an RP and can't see more than 30 minutes into the future. Otherwise, same is it ever was.
  • Zone of Truth: Lawl, gently caress Envoys so much.
Mystic 3
  • Bestow Curse: A permanent problem a Mystic can inflict on somebody...
  • Remove Affliction:... which can only be solved by another Mystic. That hasn't changed.
  • Psychokinetic Strangulation: In case you were worried you couldn't tekechoke because you're a Mystic and not a Solarian. Nope! Mystics get it too. Hm. I feel like I've seen this gimmick before somewhere, but where...?
  • Speak with Dead: Murder mysteries? Not in this game! Go back to Gumshoe, you!
Mystic 4
  • Discern Lies: Have we suggested: gently caress Envoys?
  • Mind Probe: And let's gently caress Envoys again.
  • Reincarnate: Hahaha... you're serious? So, it's like Star Trek III, only this time Spock comes back as a gnome.
Mystic 5
  • Crush Skull: So, what's the damage of the biggest gun at 13th level? Like, a 4d12 X-Gen gun? Or a 6d6 frag grenade? Because this does 18d8 on a failed save for you imitating a Kids in the Hall skit... or 4d8 on a failed save.
  • Modify Memory: Have I mentioned: gently caress Envoys?
  • Raise Dead: Or "why everybody needs a Mystic in their party".
  • Synaptic Pulse, Greater: Either Stun everybody in a 20' radius around you for for 1d4 rounds, or sicken then for 1 round on a successful save. I imagine some high-level party having their Mystic just charge enemies and stun / sickenlock foes with repeated castings while they gun down enemies and just turn most encounters into clownshoe affairs.
Mystic 6
  • Gravitational Singularity: Create a mini-black hole that pulls targets towards it within 30' and does 12d6 damage and effectively grapples anything that comes in contact with it each round.
  • Flesh to Stone: Because we had to have a save-or-die somewhere...
  • Snuff Life: ... but why not just have another?
  • Subjective Reality: Lets you disbelieve in somebody's existence so hard they basically can't do anything to you save for non-damaging magic (only 50% chance), and you can't do anything to them. Your friends, charmed enemies, and summoned creatures can still beat the hell out of them, though. No save.
  • Telepathic Jaunt: The Mystic can set up a telepathic link, and then teleport themselves and allies to somebody they've linked to, regardless of distance. (Try not to leave your spaceship behind?)


Mystic / Technomancer Spells

Mystic / Technomancer 2
  • Darkvision: You might wonder how necessary this is, and then you once again remember you're in a future where nightvision goggles were seemingly never invented.
Mystic / Technomancer 3
  • Clairaudience/Claivoyance: "I could hack their cameras and find out, I just need to get root access, then break the security on the camer-" "Or I could just view them invisibly with no chance of failure and no saving throw unless they have a high-level caster who knows one specific spell and has the foresight to cast it-" "FINE. Cast your stupid spell!"
  • Haste: Now just grants an extra move action and extra movement. The days of bonus attacks are over.
  • Tongues: Remember all the damned languages and a whole skill about interpreting unknown ones? gently caress all that, from 7th level on, your spellcaster has you covered.
Mystic / Technomancer 4
  • Animate Dead: You can raise the dead! But there are no rules for animated dead. "Yes, but they'll be in the Bestiary.", some might point out, at which point I quote "This book contains all the information you need to play Starfinger, whether you're a player or a Game Master." Not part of the information. All of it. But it doesn't actually, of course.
  • Planar Binding: Bind an extraplanar creature and get it to do what you want if your GM decides you've roleplayed well enough, or have it break free and gently caress up your poo poo if you A) fail the spell resistance, B) dimensional travel powers, or C) a special Charisma check. It can try A-C once a day. What can you summon? Well, there's no Bestiary yet, so-
Mystic / Technomancer 6
  • Control Gravity: Turning an area into Zero-G isn't as bad as it sounds, given characters are a lot more likely to be prepared for that in this setting. However, high gravity is utterly crippling as far as save-or-suck effects go, since it instantly hits people with massive encumbrance penalties.


Technomancer Spells

Technomancer 1
  • Erase: Lets you erase a book! Or a computer!... only apparently computers keep backups on a round-by-round basis. So it basically gives a computer just a 1-round bout of amnesia.
  • Grease: 1st-level slapstick shenanigans remain largely unchanged.
  • Magic Missile: ... now needs a full-round around to fire three missiles instead of two. Caster problems solved!
  • Supercharge Weapon: Cast in advance, have your weapon do +2d6 or +4d6 damage with your first shot. Bear in mind you're using this when weapons top out at 1d8. And you can cast this on a friendly Soldier's weapon if you gotta. You can even supercharge a normal sword! It's charged with... charging... ness?
Technomancer 2
  • Inject Nanobots: So, it's really confusing as to how technomancer poo poo works. Do they use technology to enhance magic? Or vice versa? I mean, this lets you inject nanobots into somebody to confuse them and do 4d8 damage (and this specifically ignores triggering attacks of opportunity). Do you like, have to prepare your nanobot components in advance? Or are they conjured from the Elemental Plane of Nanotech? The world may never know.
  • Invisibility: Still only 2nd level!
  • Knock: Still only 2nd level!
  • Mirror Image: Still only... you get the idea.
  • Recharge: Combine with Energize Spell, and use a 2nd-Level spell to reuse your higher-level spell slots, though it will cost you an RP, and 20% of the time the battery will blow up in your face instead. Is breaking the spell economy worth the risk?
Technomancer 3
  • Arcing Surge: What's the biggest gun you can use at 7th level? Like a 2d10 Reaction Cannon, maybe with another 1d6 from some Fusion? Well, this does 10d6 in a line. Suck it, soldiers.
  • Displacement: Soldier: "At this level, I can get a +11 armor bonus, meaning it's 55% harder to hit me!" Technomancer: "I can cast a spell that gives a flat 50% penalty to hit me!" Soldier: "Ha! Sucker!" Technomancer: "... oh, and I can wear armor that makes it 45% harder to hit me too." Soldier: "Oh. Aw."
  • Explosive Blast: I know they give warnings about used batteries, but inflicting 9d6 damage with one feels like a bit of an exaggeration regarding the dangers.
  • Instant Virus: Give a robot the cyber-flu.
  • Probability Prediction: Gives a reroll in a system that almost never gives them, though you have to discharge it before you roll.
Technomancer 4
  • Corrosive Haze: You create acid-resistant nanites that convert water in the air into... acid. It'll damage unattended objects but not attended objects, so if you want to save your favorite mug, just hold on to it.
  • Creation: "Cast as a 4th level spell, you can only create an object out made of vegetable matter." "How much pot can I make, man?" "... enough for everybody, I'm pretty sure."
  • Dimension Door: "I could hack their door and get us in, I just need to get root access, then break the security on the door-" "Or I could just teleport us past the door instantly." "FINE. Cast your stupid spell!"
  • Overload Systems: No attacks of opportunity when inflicting this save-or-suck 50% chance of losing an action every round you're under its effect. Works on robots and humans alike. Yes, you can overload a human's systems. Sure. Why not?
  • Rewire Flesh: "... you manipulate the target's DNA to painfully rewire that target's biological functions to mimic the cold and rigid processes of a robot..." which does ongoing damage and debuff and eerily mimics the fantasies of ASFR fetishists.
  • Rewire Flesh, Mass: Granted, I also remember seeing this effect in a CYOA book I had when I was a kid and I got nightmares out of it. Now a new generation can too!
Technomancer 5
  • Control Machines: Step back, engineers. No hacks required.
  • Passwall: "So, I'm going to distract the guards while you hack the door, and he shuts off the security guns, and you hack the door-" "Or I could-" "You have a spell, don't you?" "Yeah, I can just make a hole in the wall over here." "Fuuuuu- cast your stupid loving spell again."
  • Prying Eyes: "I'll send my drone in to scout out ahead." "Hey." "What?" "Nameless engineer." "What?" "I'll just cast this spell that lets me scatter around 20 tiny spies and scan the whole complex." "Why am I even here? Your spells do everything I do." "I charmed you earlier today." "FFfffff- friend."
  • Synapse Overload: 18d8 damage. Save? The save is to resist being staggered. The damage occurs on touch. Why no, it doesn't trigger an attack of opportunity! Why would it? (And for the record, if you cast a touch spell and miss, you don't lose the spell. If you take damage, you don't lose the spell. Essentially nothing can actually disrupt a spell like this other than running away.)
  • Unwilling Guardian: Specifically makes somebody into a bullet shield for you and makes them fight anybody that attacks you, because Charm spells weren't enough.
Technomancer 6
  • Discharge, Greater: I bet you though it was worth spending a half-million credits on that laser gun? Well, now all your ammo is dead because you failed a save. Eat an unwholesome pie.
  • Disintegrate: Or "how to rid enemies of all their utterly necessary equipment they utterly rely on at this level". A failed save means their midnight sunstone bazooka only takes 4d20 damage?
  • Interplanetary Teleport: Well, it's certainly one fix to spaceship DCs being broken at this level. Doing interstellar travel requires RP equal to the number of days that would take. You may note that the amount of days is random; so if the roll is higher than your RP, you lose all your RP and the spell fails.
  • Shadowy Fleet: You create an illusionary space fleet bombarding a 60-foot area. What if somebody successfully disbelieves? Half damage, because this is Starfinger.
  • Terraform: Lets you kinda-sorta terraform a planet!... well, 100 feet of it, anyway. You may wonder why this is in the Technomancer's wheelhouse, given it has to do with life and not tech? Well, I don't know either! It seems way more in the Mystic's thematics, but Technomancers have to pee in everybody's cheerios since they're wizards and can vary from theme whenever the writers like, I suppose. Granted, Xenodruid Mystics get it as an available spell, but they're the only Mystics who do.


And lastly, let's go over Mystic Cure, the replacement for Cure [whatever] wound. I'm just going to quote directly from the most powerful Pathfinder single-target Cure spell, first-

Pathfinder SRD posted:

CURE CRITICAL WOUNDS

School conjuration (healing); Level alchemist 4, bard 4, cleric/oracle 4, druid 5, inquisitor 4, shaman 4, witch 5; Domain healing 4

CASTING

Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S

EFFECT

Range touch
Target creature touched
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw Will half (harmless); see text; Spell Resistance yes (harmless); see text

DESCRIPTION

This spell functions like cure light wounds, except that it cures 4d8 points of damage + 1 point per caster level (maximum +20). Since undead are powered by negative energy, this spell deals damage to them instead of curing their wounds. An undead creature can apply Spell Resistance, and can attempt a Will save to take half damage.

And here's the Starfinger equivalent:

Starfinger SRD posted:

MYSTIC CURE M1Ė6

School conjuration (healing)

Casting Time 1 standard action

Range touch

Targets one living creature

Duration instantaneous

Saving Throw Will half (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

With a touch, you heal and invigorate your target, restoring a number of Hit Points. If the target regains all of its Hit Points as a result of this healing, you can apply the remaining healing to yourself, as long as you are a living creature. On the other hand, if this isnít enough to restore all the targetís Hit Points, you can transfer any number of your own Hit Points to the target, healing the target that amount. You canít transfer more Hit Points than you have or more Hit Points than the target is missing.

Mystic cure restores a number of Hit Points to your target depending on the spellís level.
  • 1st: 1d8 + your Wisdom modifier
  • 2nd: 3d8 + your Wisdom
  • 3rd: 5d8 + your Wisdom modifier
  • 4th: 7d8 + your Wisdom modifier
  • 5th: 9d8 + your Wisdom modifier
  • 6th: 11d8 + your Wisdom modifier
In addition, unlike most healing, when you cast mystic cure as a spell of 4th-level or higher, you have two options to enhance its effects. The first option is to restore an extra 5d8 Hit Points with a 4th-level mystic cure spell, an extra 7d8 Hit Points with a 5th-level mystic cure spell, or an extra 9d8 Hit Points with a 6th-level mystic cure spell. The second option is to bring a target that died within 2 rounds back to life. In addition to healing such a creature, the spell returns the target to life, and the target takes a temporary negative level for 24 hours. This spell canít resuscitate creatures slain by death effects, creatures turned into undead, or creatures whose bodies were destroyed, significantly mutilated, disintegrated, and so on.

Casting this spell doesnít provoke attacks of opportunity.

A slight upgrade. Granted, it could be working overtime to try and make up for the loss of the ridiculous heal spell.



And because we couldn't leave wish behind, Mystics get miracle at 20th level once a week while Technomancers at 20th level can use two 6th-level slots and 2 RP to cast wish... well, as long as they have those two resources. While 20th level effects may as well not exist for most campaigns, it's at least noting that even in Starfinger, they still have to have "do nearly any damned thing" as a top-level power.

There's, of course, a litany of spells I didn't cover because they're just stuff you've mostly seen before, damage dealers with new themes, modest utility spells, etc. I tried to keep it short for the sake of our sanity, though it's a relatively brief spell list - about half that of Pathfinder's. Though Starfinger works hard to cut down the power level of spellcasters, they still remain very strong because they still have niches so vague as to step all over many of the other classes, even with the designers obviously eyeing that sort of thing more closely than before. After all, they clearly cut out bless and similar broad-boosting effects that would impinge on an Envoy's support abilities... and then left in every end-run around the social mechanics. So it goes.

Next: But are tabletop campaigns eligible for a Hugo?

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 21:19 on Oct 14, 2017

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Inescapable Duck posted:

Space fighters could totally fit into a D&D-in-space reskin. Hell, could just have space combat be a reskin of regular grid-based combat, with all the space fighters having weapons and abilities that happen to match their pilots.

Alternatively; Gundams. poo poo, I think I just invented a better setting than Starfinger already.

I once saw a 3.5E in space hack that used the players' ship as effectively a character itself, with the six player stats replaced by Weapons, Hull, Shields, Engines, Computers, and Sensors, and the main function of the PCs was to lend the ship its skills and feats.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I don't know if I'm down with even implying AD&D was a good game but Spelljammer at least had a much clearer focus and concept.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Cythereal posted:

I once saw a 3.5E in space hack that used the players' ship as effectively a character itself, with the six player stats replaced by Weapons, Hull, Shields, Engines, Computers, and Sensors, and the main function of the PCs was to lend the ship its skills and feats.

I've played Super Robot Wars 4e.

It's pretty fun.

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!


Alien Rope Burn posted:



Single-eseat fighters like this, as previously mentioned, aren't actually supported well, as we'll see...

Okay, so. It's a bit late, and a petty gripe but... most of the Starfinder art has been pretty inoffensive. Technically competent, but communicating nothing that really catches me at all. But a lot of this spacefighter art just bugs me. In particular this one.

And it's those lazy-rear end "energy bolts" everyone's loving firing. Because it reminds me of poo poo you'd doodle as a 12-year-old in the margin of a schoolbook. Where everything is firing a little broken line of pew-pew-pews at everything else.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy: Realm of the Ice Queen

This city is goddamn huge

I'm going to be paring back a little on detail and describing places in clumps, as unlike Erengrad Kislev and Praag don't have quite as many fun plot hooks in each individual special place. Also I want to get to the rad witches sooner rather than later.

Gereyov Square houses the finest temples (including the ones I just described) and sits at the very heart of Kislev. It's also bordered by the actual Bohka Palaces, and thus it is one of the most popular public squares in the land. Government officials, commoners, wealthy merchants, and priests all meet in this wide open space, surrounded by beautiful onion domes and fine architecture, to hear the Tsarina's men proclaim the news of the day and gossip with one another. The great Bohka Palaces contain all of the records of state and a veritable army of clerks, judges, and learned folk to tend them, as the Tsarina (and the Tsars before her) struggle to keep track of all the happenings of their vast lands. The palace also has an entire wing made out of shimmering ice, carved in a single night by the Tsarina's magic when she ascended to the throne; here she keeps her court, surrounded by glittering diamond and sapphire.

Nearby are her gardens, also constructed of unmelting ice; they are a perfect replica of all kinds of flowers, plants, and trees. Among them are sculptures of birds and animals, rendered in beautiful detail as if frozen in mid action. The Tsarina often adds to her garden, putting up new sculptures and carving new projects, and the magic of the place is such that among the Winter Garden it is always midnight and it is always cold, no matter the time of day or year. Artificial moonlight from a projected image of Mannslieb (the non-crazy moon) bathes the gardens at all times, a bright spot in the cold and dark all around. The Tsarina's knights enforce a policy of quiet in this cold place, even on the days when the public are permitted to walk its frozen hedges. Near the gardens, she has also built a great fountain that sprays magical shards of crystal, designed to refract light and make music from the shattering of the shards. I like these because it's nice to suggest that Katarin has an actual hobby. Too often you get all sorts of descriptions of these great lords and heroes, but never the things they enjoy, and the Gardens and Hanging Fountain show an artistic side to the Ice Queen.

Near Gereyov square, you can also find a temple of Ulric, which is just baffling, as the book notes it replaced a temple of Ursun and that there's some trouble about this. Kislev is the principle city of the principle followers of Ursun. I do not understand how they had a foreign god (who Ursun's cult is fairly friendly with) come in and replace the temple of a very important local God, who was extremely significant to their last Tsar (Boris was Tsar *and* High Priest of Ursun) such that there is no actual sacred bear-park anywhere in Kislev. This makes no sense. They even mention that the bear-priests refuse to construct any shrines because of the shrine of Ulric and that the more fanatical among them think of Kislev city as a blasphemous and unholy place, defiled by Ulric. If that was the case, I don't see why Boris Bohka didn't just burn the stupid place to the ground and replace it with a nifty bear cave. Near the temple of Ulric is the Imperial Embassy, which may explain the Temple of Ulric, but does not quite explain it replacing the temples of Ursun so thoroughly. There is surprisingly little to note about the Embassy, considering the close ties between the Empire and Kislev.

The Koztowny District also contains the Summer Gardens, which are completely opposite the Winter Gardens despite also being maintained by the Ice Witches. The Summer Gardens are magically shielded from cold, and it is bright and beautiful there all the time. The common folk are never allowed in, with rough mercenaries in fancy uniforms ensuring that only Boyars and those who can pay outrageous bribes are permitted to walk the pleasant fields and hedges.

The Lubjanko, up against the east wall, was formerly intended to be a hospital for wounded soldiers. It was constructed on orders of Tsar Alexis shortly after the great war of 2302, with a promise that it would house the finest treatment any soldier could hope for in all of the Old World. For a time, it managed. But funding fell as the city and Kislev focused on rebuilding the country from the scars of war, and Lubjanko became a forgotten place. A place to dump the sick, the mad, the traumatized, and the crippled. Those who cannot be saved are placed in the Lubjanko, left to cry in darkness and pray to the Gods for salvation in their confinement. Only those who need to do dark things would get near this place at night, and even they fear the misery of this place.

Keeping to misery and death, there is a grey, featureless, windowless building behind a wrought iron gate, with only a single black door. This is the headquarters of the Cheka. Those who are brought through its gates are said to 'disappear', as you are unlikely to see them hale and whole again even if they walk out. The Chekists officially prosecute traitors, enemies of the state, and worshipers of the Dark Gods, but their black nets catch many innocents. They are universally feared throughout Kislev, and their tendrils reach into other lands, as well; they must know of any threats to the Tsarina, and a foreign land could certainly pose a threat, da?

Fabor's gets a description because of its fabulous mechanical eggs. Of course they'd have delicate mechanical eggs of great artistry in fantasy Russia. The lifelike toys and automatons constructed by the great master engineer Murtok Fabor confound Imperial engineers, some going so far as to say he must be a Gold Wizard or similar sorcerer to achieve such construction. This would naturally be a great scandal if it was anything but the wounded pride of foreigners; men do not do magic in Kislev unless they are priests.

Madame Katya's Quilted Palm is a bordello, but it is one of the most popular in the city. The recent overthrow of one of Kislev's largest crime bosses, Vasilly Chekatilo, has left the city's bordellos without a slave-driving crime lord snapping at their heels, which has only been good for business. This place is notable for Madame Katya, who is known for paying her workers on time and for taking good care of her staff. The rumor is that she is a fallen priestess of Shallya, which would certainly explain her attitude towards the people who work for her and her desire to keep her people healthy and safe. It forms a duo of businesses near the docks with the World's Edge, a tavern that caters to those about to leave on grand adventures to Praag or east into the Darklands. At the World's Edge, no music plays, and the atmosphere is subdued. Even the drunk are maudlin about their chances of returning alive from the other side of the world and its many dangers. This is another tavern where your PCs might meet, before a great journey to the north or east.

There are, of course, many more shops and theaters and places that I am omitting for the sake of finishing up the city, but I'll also confess that Kislev is more forgettable than Erengrad or Praag. It's a neat place, and I like the emphasis on the sheer number of educated people necessary to properly run an aspirationally absolutist monarchy. I like the sense of art and culture to the city. But without a hook like Erengard's energetic (and ridiculous, in the best way) rebuilding or Praag's coping with scars and horror, it's a little harder to set adventures in Kislev itself.

Next: Kislevite Characters, Kislevite Careers: At last, you can play a winged hussar.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion





This picture reminds me of a gaming story: a party is fighting a dragon that's attacking a city, and the fighter describes this great sequence where he climbs buildings and throws a harpoon at it before jumping on to it to try and pull it down. He fails, because this required a bunch of ad-hoc rolls.

The wizard is already flying, so he zips up and casts disintigrate.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The core problem with magic in D20 has always been that everyone else has to ask to do something and then be given the odds. The spellcaster simply tells everyone what's happening, sets the odds for their target and says 'Deal with it.'

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



In D20 Fighters and such are using AD&D, Magic is Apocalypse world. Martial characters have to play GM May I? while Wizards just tell ya how it is.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


For me one of the really weird parts is all the mentions of conjuring nanotech. Nanotech is already pretty much an excuse for nonsense magical reasoning in a lot of (dodgy) sci-fi, so it's like magic on top of magic.

Of course, it's mostly just trying to add a science veneer on things like conjuring a cloud of acid... but lightning? You just shoot lightning, sure. It's odd and not at all consistent thematically.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk






Chapter 4: Divine Magic - Shamanism and Vodun FX




If it seems like Shamanism and Vodun were tacked on as an afterthought and treated like vestigial appendages, it's because that's exactly how Dark*Matter implements them. They're functional spell schools, but they've got a few extra hurdles that get in the way of casting their spells.


Shamanism - Rather than spending an FX point and making a skill check to cast a spell, a Shaman must perform a ritualistic trance ceremony with a difficulty threshold relative to the power of the spell being cast. If they fail then they lose the spell and their FX point, and if they Critically fail then their spirit gets lost in the astral Hunting Grounds and must be rescued! Take on-going Fatigue damage while your meat body lies in a persistent vegetative state, and hope that you aren't the only member of your squad that can access the astral realm or else this is a death sentence. This is going to happen at least 5% of the time because Dark*Matter counts a natural 20 roll as a critical failure, and most of your Shaman spells require multiple trance rolls before being cast.


Vodun - Houngans must perform elaborate ceremonies before they cast their spells. Each ceremony is different based on what spell is being cast and which Loa is being sought, and each one includes a pretty significant time component that can't be skipped. To give you an idea of how inconvenient this is, keep in mind how Alternity breaks down time - 1 minute of time is 5 Rounds and each Round is broken into 4 Phases. Characters can potentially act in all 4 Phases of each Round, meaning a Houngan casting a spell that requires a 1 minute ceremony is giving up 20 potential actions. Keep in mind, that's the shortest ceremony that can be performed, and most Vodun spells require much, much longer ceremonies. It's pretty obvious that Houngan are meant to cast their spells ritually and not in the heat of battle, but the time component requirement of each spell makes me wonder if the designers were aware of how the Alternity system actually integrates time with action rounds.

BUT WAIT! Not only does the Houngan have to invest a non-trivial amount of time in the spellcasting ceremony, if the Houngan gets a critical failure on their spellcasting roll, they manage to piss off the Loa they were summoning and instead it decides to haunt them and cause them grief, unless they can appease it with a persuasion skill or by making a Vow (just like Enochians!) to do something that would please the Loa. HOWEVER, if they also manage to fail the persuasion roll, or the Loa doesn't think their Vow is very good, the Loa completely possesses the Houngan and gets to do whatever it wants with the Houngan's body for a very long time - 20 Days minus the Houngan's Personality score, and remember that in Alternity the human maximum for all ability scores is 14. At absolute best the Houngan is getting possessed for nearly a week, and likely much longer. A final insult to injury - if the Houngan critically fails their spellcasting roll, then critically fails their persuasion roll to avoid possession, the Loa gets to posses them for 40 days minus the Houngan's Personality score! Nothing like completely losing control of your character for a month of game-time because you had the temerity to try and use one of your iconic class abilities. It bears repeating, possession of your Houngan is going to happen at least 5% of the time, because of Dark*Matter's critical failure rules, with a non-trivial chance of losing your hero for months at a time as well!


So with all that being said, the effects that these spells can create must be incredibly powerful, right?




Shaman powers go!

Willpower: Shamanism - Dream Walking is Clairvoyance and Clairaudience wrapped into one package.

Willpower: Shamanism - Guide My Hand gives the Shaman a -2 bonus to one combat specialty skill for one hour. This isn't actually terrible, although casting it always carries the risk that your Shaman might end up in a coma.

Willpower: Shamanism - Hunter's Stare is likely the best Shaman spell. It requires no trance and allows the Shaman to make a contested check versus Willpower against another target within 3 meters and if the Shaman is successful, the target loses their next 1/2/3 actions. 1/2/3 cheers for action denial!

Willpower: Shamanism - Spirit of the Beast gives the Shaman 4 ranks in a specialty skill (and the associated broad skill if the Shaman doesn't have it) that is related to some kind of animal. For example, the Shaman could invoke Wolf and get 4 ranks in Willpower: Investigate - Track for 1 hour. It doesn't say whether these bonus points stack with skill ranks the Shaman already has or if they just replace them, so the practical value of this spell is going to vary depending on how your GM interprets the spell's effects.

Willpower: Shamanism - Venom Spirit lets the Shaman eat some poison and then cast the debilitating effects of the poison into another person. The Shaman actually has to succeed at a Constitution check with a -2 bonus vs whatever poison they ingest and if they fail then they lose the spell and suffer the effects of said poison! Probably not ever worth the hassle.

Personality: Shamanism - Animal Voice gives the Shaman the ability to speak with animals. The book straight up says that animals don't perceive the world like humans do and that things like numbers and colors are meaningless concepts to them. I guess if you need vague advice about whether or not the dog that crapped on your lawn was also in heat, you could use this spell to ask your dog and find out.

Personality: Shamanism - Ghost Dance gives everyone that participates in the ritual a pretty decent deflection bonus versus melee and ranged damage. The spell lasts for an hour which makes it a pretty potent pre-combat buff, but if the Shaman leading the spell fails their spellcasting check, everyone involved instead takes a point of fatigue damage. I guess you only get tired from dancing if the head Shaman fumbles their mojo?

Personality: Shamanism - Trance Visions is "Mother, May I?" for Shamen. I seriously have no idea why almost every spellcasting class has one of these powers, except that they must fit into each school in a vaguely thematic way. I still don't believe that any of them all executed well enough to justify their inclusion, but nobody designing the game asked me what I thought 20 years ago, so whatever.


And now onto the Voudon Spells!

Willpower: Voudon - Erzuli's Fetish creates a voodoo doll and allows the Houngan to give the afflicted target penalties to all their actions. Except, when the spell is first cast the target gets to make a Willpower: Resolve - Physical check to resist the effects, and if they get an Amazing success on this roll then they can't be affected by that Houngan's voodoo dolls ever again. Pretty great risk to take, on top of potentially having your Houngan possessed for upwards of a week.

Willpower: Voudon - Gris Gris creates good or bad luck charms that the Houngan can give to friends or trick enemies into accepting. Nothing especially remarkable.

Willpower: Voudon - Helpful Possession allows the Houngan to choose a Loa associated with any specialty skill and summon that Loa into their, or another participant's, body for 24 hours. The Loa doesn't completely take over the target, instead they passively grant a -1/-2/-3 bonus to the specific specialty skill for which they were summoned. You can have more than 1 Loa riding you at a time, but each additional Loa after the first imparts an escalating difficulty penalty to the spellcasting check.

Willpower: Voudon - Loa of Healing allows the Houngan to heal another target by trading their Stun (1:1)/Wound (2:1) points for the target's Wound/Mortal points. Also, the Houngan takes fatigue damage at the end of the spell regardless of how much damage was healed. This is strictly worse than Willpower: Monotheism - Cure but I guess having the option is better than nothing.

Willpower: Voudon - Negate the Spirit creates Zombis under the Houngan's control. Because an actual Voudon Zombi isn't an undead abomination and is instead just a living person that's been fed a poisonous concoction that makes them extremely suggestible, the Voudon has to provide food and water and etc. for the Zombis.

Personality: Voudon - Ayza's Juju is a floating Last Resort point (basically a Hero Point or Action Point or whatever analagous thing other systems have) that the Houngan can use instead of spending one of their actual Last Resort points. This is better than it sounds, because Alternity normally requires players to spend their limited XP to rebuy spent Last Resort points (yeah, it's one of those systems).

Personality: Voudon - Legba Rides is "Mother, May I?" for Houngan. Yep, they get one too.


We're finally done with all of the Arcane character creation options bullshit! I feel like the majority of the arcane schools are either poorly implemented or poorly balanced or both, and I'm still miffed that the Monotheism school literally confirms the existence of the Judaeo-Christian God in the Dark*Matter setting (and consequently implies that a lot of potentially offensive stuff inherent to that religion is objectively true). Diabolism is an extremely functional school but it's weighed down by the eternal "Bad Guys Only" albatross that every 90's RPG incorporates for evil character options, plus the existence of God confirms that Diabolism is genuinely, capital E "Evil" and removes any opportunities for nuance you might have wanted to explore. Enochian is borderline useless and the additional balancing factor of "let's play imaginary calendar planner" pushes it into unusable territory for me. Hermeticism is very nearly a no-poo poo D&D wizard, which means that they're objectively the best Arcane class if you're just looking to min-max your character. Shamanism and Voudon both have some spells that would likely be useful in a vacuum, but the potential downsides both of those Arcane schools incorporate make them undesirable for me as well - it will never ever be a good idea to include mechanics that just remove a PC from play for extended periods of game time because they botched one roll that was trying to accomplish something appropriately in-character in the first place.


Come back next time for Chapter 5: The Secret History of the World - More Metaplot Than You Can Shake a Stick at That Will Never Be Player Facing Information, Ever, Because Dark*Matter is 90's as gently caress!

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Hell yeah, bring on the stupid 90s metaplot.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





THE PLAGUE AND THE USA

We're gonna skip ahead a little bit to tackle what the true source of the plague is. The plague originally started outside of Denver Colorado because the government had a black-site medical lab where they were conducting bioweapons tests on Al Qaeda prisoners. One of the prisoners breached containment and the entire site locked down as per quarantine protocols and the site went dark. Now, things would've probably turned out differently if not for the fact that a doomsday cult was keeping an eye on the lab and saw the silence as the perfect opportunity to attack. The lab repelled the attackers but the gunfire and open conflict drew the media and that's when the supervisors outside of the lab decided to pull the plug and burn the lab and all of the possibly infected survivors inside.

The prisoner who broke containment was being subjected to a weapon that utilized prions, the little bastards that slide into your body and cause proteins to fold improperly. Now, the problem with burning the site to the ground was the fact that (like in real life) it takes extreme heat or extreme radiation to kill prions. Really all they succeeded in doing was creating a smoke that carried the prions and would ultimately result in the weapon going pseudo-airborne worldwide. So in about two weeks everyone who wasn't exposed to high concentrations had some prions in their body and in two more weeks their prions were in full-gear doing work in loving up their bodies. The main reason why so many people died was simply due to autoimmune reactions. The body knew something was wrong and it tore itself to pieces trying to fix it, killing the hosts with fevers and hemorrhaging. By the time doctors worldwide figured out what was wrong...well it was a little too late. People either survived or they didn't. The drugs to help people deal with the autoimmune reactions weren't really needed.

So people survived. In fact a lot of children survived, which...baffles me because yes this is a fictional fabrication but I wouldn't really say that a lot of kids have immune systems strong enough to handle a prion infection. But I'm just being pedantic and don't have the knowledge to back that claim up. Anyway. The survivors either came out of it fine or had lingering effects like neurological damage or permanent coughs or other respiratory issues. But then the blindness came.

Actually okay there were two other effects to having the prion integrated fully into your body. The first is sterility. The game doesn't really explain exactly how the prion makes people sterile or how successful it is in those regards. It just says most adults are sterile and kids and teens are just ????. Frankly sterility doesn't even have to be a part of this stupid problem. The main reason blindness happens is because there's an Unnamed Molecule that scientists haven't discovered yet which is vital to the functioning of the rods and cones. Without enough of it, a milky white fluid builds up in the eye and results in blindness. The problem isn't that the prion stops the body from making this Unnamed Molecule (henceforth called Eye Bleach) but it's that the prion eats Eye Bleach. In fact the issue is that it eats Eye Bleach faster than the body can produce it, which as most people who understand the biology will tell you is absolute loving nonsense because the eye is a closed, self-contained system. The Vitreous Humor of the eye, for example, is one of the few things your body makes once and then will never make more of.



But this is why children are still able to see: their bodies make Eye Bleach faster than the prion can eat it and as they get older the function slows down and it's a slow decline into blindness. This is also why people eat eyes. Eating eyes means the stomach will absorb the Eye Bleach which will carry the Eye Bleach back to the eye and temporarily restore sight. This is also absolute loving nonsense because the eye is still a contained system and how exactly is the milky fluid problem fixed. But I digress. Everyone is infected. Everyone will eventually go blind and also maybe sterile but the latter is way more of a crapshoot than the others. They say that by the time they reach the age of 16 they're just as sterile as the adults who got exposed to the prion but I say gently caress that and gently caress you. Mankind is already doomed enough with mass blindness and mass extinction, we don't need literal tweens being the only ones capable of bearing the next generation of feral children.

Also some of you may reasonably be saying "well hold on a second, there's no such thing as a bioweapon/disease/virus/prion that works 100% of the time". Y'all are correct. There are in fact adults and kids who are out there who are still able to see and basically either shrugged off the prion or integrated it smoothly into their bodies with no problems. Roughly that's one in a million who is immune. The book also says that every single person who is immune to the effects of the prion has "severe chromosomal abnormalities" and all developmentally disabled with a sprinkling of a chance of physical disability. Which just rings as a massive gently caress you to me. I mean, cool, there are people who are out there who are genetic goldmines to figuring out how to neutralize the prion. They are all disabled in some form and the harsh decline of the world doesn't guarantee their survival four years later. It also rings as a gently caress you to people who want to play the game and be like "my character is immune and will never go blind!" like some rear end in a top hat GM is just gonna stroke their lovely neckbeard and be like "well enjoy playing a character with Down Syndrome" as a loving rear end in a top hat GOTCHA! move.

So while people were dying, the good ol' government was blaming the plague on The Arabs. It is legit unclear if this is the government trying to cover its own rear end or if it's just irrational post-9/11 paranoia. Either way the government blames the Middle East, bombs them more and the government opens internment for select individuals and Muslims. The bombings, the deaths and the interments all went on for a few weeks before the deaths stopped and people started going blind. That's when the government and the military started kidnapping children en masse, dragging them off to military bases to make child soldiers for the glorious protection of the country from the savage foreign hordes. While this was happening, kids fled their homes, escaped capture or ended up trying to figure out what to do as adults tried to figure out how to handle going blind. Ultimately two months after the blindness started, every adult in America and the world was properly blind.

And this lead to the rebellions, the escapes from the military, the beginning of each side enslaving the other and four years of anarchy and collapse.



TYPES OF COMMUNITIES

Kid-Only
  • The most common form of government is an anarchy. Kids live in an area, form gangs, pick the area dry, move on. There are little to no defenses keeping them safe outside of numbers.
  • Ruled Towns are what happens when the kids choose a leader or someone manually takes the reins. The towns, of course, depend on the ruler; a bully could create a caste society where boys have more rights than girls or you could have a council of kids who attempt to rule fairly with votes.
  • Idea-Ruled Towns are towns where the kids have put their faith in either an ideology or an actual idea. The former is wishful thinking, really. You're not likely to see a bunch of kids following the tenants of Democratic Socialism or Marxism or hardcore Libertarian Anarchocapitalism. You're probably going to see towns where they believe candy is the only valid form of food or religious towns or that reading makes you go blind. The ideas they believe in become a twisted game every member of the town takes part in playing.
  • Caste communities are towns where kids who meet certain criteria deserve to be on top and rule the others.
  • Cadet communities are generally cadet-only and use military organization as a form of government. They're generally stable but of course run the risk of going full raider.
  • Horse Rider communities are mostly nomadic and built their lives around bringing their horses where they need to go. They're generally small anarchies that rely on informal votes for decisions.
  • Scout towns are the middle ground between Cadets and Riders. They travel, they exist on fringes, they're pretty well defended and pretty prosperous but they're also generally tolerant of letting other kids join. Scouts can do a lot, but they can't do everything. Letting a Builder or a Horse Rider or a Scholar join is just common sense. They often end up acting like frontier enclaves.
  • Tiny Towns are strange places where everyone is an Inheritor going through the motions of what they think society and civilization is supposed to be like. Everyone has a role to play...even if it just involves walking into an abandoned office building, doodling on paper and leaving after a few hours because you're a businessman. Worst case scenario the town is either a cargo cult or the Inheritor act is a cover for Libertarianism where everyone stockpiles something and attempts to extort it from the others.
Kid-Ruled

Kid-ruled towns are the ones most likely to either engage in slavery or at the very least put adults in a subservient position. Some of them are anarchies but a lot of their governments revolve around utilizing the adults in some beneficial manner and the security of the adults. It's kind of like if there was a bunch of apocalyptic survivors holed up in a hydroelectric plant and all of their decisions revolved around keeping the plant going and harnessing the electricity for the prosperity of the enclave. It varies between communities about who exactly is in charge, the adult speaking through the kid through manipulation or the kid because the other kids are too scared to interact with the adult. And it's unfortunate that a lot of these communities do pretty well in regards to agriculture, defense, engineering and medicine because it's built on the back of slavery. Plus sometimes the success of slavery leads kids to decide to enslave other kids.

Adult-Only

Adult-only communities are, generally, societies that never attracted kids, never kept kid slaves or lost their slaves and have just lived without. It's more the first two than the latter; once word gets out that adults keep kids as slaves, even the places that would be safe are viewed with suspicion. The government varies (democracy, theocracy, meritocracy) but a lot of their governments have annual meetings to act as group entertainment for everyone. They get by through careful scavenging, subsistence farming and raising livestock as best as they can. They have technology, but not much of a reason to use it because power sources are limited. They have needs, but most of their societies are surrounded by kid communities that fear them and won't trade with them. It's not great to be living in an adult-only community because it's just kind of grim and desperate. The big upside is that a lot of them have managed to at least make steps towards adapting to their blindness. A lot of communities use really ingenious traps (such as traps that sense light from photovoltaic sources because only kids would use flashlights) and have managed to do things like set up guide ropes or leave clay maps on pedestals that you can read with your hands to orient yourself.

Adult-Ruled

An adult-ruled community has a lot in common with proper American slaveholding tradition. Kids are worked 16 hours a day and fought over, used to guide adults and only educated in what the adult wants them to know. Adults in these communities generally know how to apply coercion via physical or emotional abuse to get the kids to comply and a lot of them fall when the kids figure out how to sabotage the society. The downside of these communities is that of the three types before them, they're doing the best. They have eyes to see and hands for fine manipulation and they're using their intelligence without being tortured to get what they want done. They have things like properly working farms and a chance of a genuine medical clinic being propped up on the backs of slave labor.

Utopias

Rare (to the point of the book saying that most people doubt they exist) communities exist where kids and adults are equals. Nobody is enslaved and everyone works together. They don't have to worry about keeping slaves in line or having to deal with groups that might cause their society to collapse (like slavers). A utopia is of course the ideal community by the classic definition of the word, a successful and safe place where they're able to be the strongest and most secure with their cooperation and mutual trust.

The book says it's also possible for a utopia to be a bad thing such as a raider communities where kids and adults work together to enslave adults and kids alike to sell them to the highest bidders, so. This book says a lot of stuff. Me, I'm just gonna go out on a limb and assume that utopias probably aren't as rare as the book posits.

There are rules at this point for making communities using Build Points and this pretty much goes over all of the things I mentioned above except for the fact that you can't make a utopia. There's also a picture of a kid smoking opium, which sure is a thing.

GEOGRAPHY OF THE US

The Midwest

Lots of food, lots of nature, lots of spread out people. Pretty safe place to be. Just watch out for all of the death by nature.

Each segment has a bunch of little notable places to focus on and I'll be including brief write-ups of each. Case in point:
  • Denver has become a balkanized collection of groups ruling over the city and laying claim to ownership. Okay maybe balkanized is the wrong word. If anything it's the American equivalent of the Holy Roman Empire. Anyway a lot of people came to Denver because that's where it all began...and couldn't leave by the time they went blind or just didn't know how to get out. There are just collections of all sorts of communities that make up the city, including the cult responsible for this whole mess.
  • The military is up in Cheyenne Mountain and has been holed up for the last four years down in NORAD. Nobody knows what they're up to and anyone who has attempted to enter (kid or adult) has never returned.
  • Down in Salt Lake City in Utah is the Store-It-All, a community of kids living in storage containers and owning adult slaves. Originally it was home to orphans attacked by a bunch of adults who wanted to enslave them, but the kids turned the tables and locked the adults in containers to enslave them. This...didn't pan out well. The kids listened to the adults, trusted them and a revolt by some of the slaves lead to one of the founders getting paralyzed when he was thrown down a flight of stairs and a bunch of the kids end up kidnapped. The remaining adults are kept in dehumanizing conditions, forbidden to speak (in theory; in execution there are many secret words exchanged between the kids and adults that the other kids don't know about) and used for manual labor. They're also used as mounts in gladiatorial combat between two kids or four kids and one adult. The community survives by popping open containers and exploring and the paralyzed kid (Jordi Howell) now rides on the back of a woman, controlling the community with an iron fist while trying to ignore that they're using humans as pack animals.
  • Camp Freedom is out in North Dakota in the remains of a Muslim internment camp that rose up and fought back against the guards. See, the military was unsure that they would be able to make proper child soldiers out of interned children and they were left with their families in the camps. When everyone went blind, camps fell one way or another (the people in charge let the prisoners go out of pity and insubordination, uprising, attacked by civilians wanting to free the prisoners, etc). Freedom put out a message in Arabic over the radio waves advertising a safe place for Muslims to practice their faith. And it wasn't a trap, but unfortunately bigots and hate mobs heard the message too and converged on the camp. The parents died fighting to the death to protect their children, who in turn picked up guns and slaughtered the mobs attacking them. Nowadays Camp Freedom is ruled by one of the kids and his surviving family members and is a Cadet community under the leadership of Gaby Arjem. It's a safe place where non-Muslims are accepted (but watched and not allowed to reach certain levels of power)...but Camp Freedom does enslave adults, using them for manual labor, cooking and cleaning. Insubordinate or treacherous adults are used as live targets for knife training before Gaby finishes them off with a bullet to the head.
  • The Citadel is the name given to two skyscrapers in Chicago where kids reside, using rope bridges and ziplines to get between the two of them because the streets of Chicago aren't safe for kids. The problem isn't adults. The problem is that someone let all the animals out of the Chicago zoo and the carnivores have slaughtered the herbivores and are thriving and looking for meat. The two towers have a friendly rivalry between each other but do share supplies and food, using daring scavengers and scouts to find supplies and goods while others hunt for food or raise gardens in the skyscrapers. There's some concerns about running out of room but nobody's really too concerned about it happening. The Citadel has also gone without seeing an adult for its whole existence, assuming that all the adults in Chicago have been eaten by predators. The real danger to their peaceful existence would be if an adult was brought into the Citadel and how the dynamic would change.
Northern US and Canada

All that's really said here is that the Scouts tend to be more powerful due to the wilderness. Also it sucks to freeze to death or get mauled by an animal. That's it.


This game has some real good art in places and I kinda hate that it does.

The East Coast

The mass deaths rocked the coast and most of the cities are generally abandoned. Fishing has gotten popular amongst children as a food source and there are a lot of gangs roaming the urban areas extorting food and goods from people they catch. But the coast is still pretty populated.
  • The government is still in DC but it's in literal hiding within the White House bunkers. Gangs of adults and kids fight over the Library of Congress, hungry for the knowledge contained in Braille and books. The museums are also jackpots of knowledge for Builders and Students who want to be inspired or know more. Outside of that, it's mostly home to vandals who want to gently caress up monuments.
  • The rest of these belong to the NY metropolitan area. The streets of NYC are generally dangerous with gangs of bandits that take slaves and work them to death in the name of urban combat. The other danger of NYC is the presence of eye-eaters that work alone and work apart from each other to hunt children and take their eyes. They haven't organized but even a single eye-eater is a threat if they're able to trick children into thinking they're still blind.
  • The Bastion is an adult-run enclave that consists of what remains of the city's government and their child slaves. They originally did their best to fortify the farms in Central Park but have retreated to their fortified buildings for rooftop gardens. They have good amenities (solar power, trap defenses, etc.) and 30 stories between them and the ground floor keeping them safe from raiders and bandits.
  • Central Park is home to a joint venture between Scouts and Students, turning the open park into a hunting grounds with a designated patch of it run by Students growing crops in greenhouses and open air. There's even been some success in raising domesticated animals by transplanting herbivores from the Central Park Zoo to hand-made paddocks and pens. They live comfortably and have a lot of work to get done but it's a situation that works for them...except when bandits attempt to raid them for supplies.
  • The Penitent Blind is a religious cult that's taken over the Metropolitan Cloisters and turned it into a proper abbey. Originally the group was just zealously religious adults who believed that a life of penance and contemplation on the nature of God would alleviate their condition. They grow food on the grounds but really don't have a lot of resources, mostly whiling away the hours through prayer and meditation. For protection, the cult allows teens to live there as long as they listen to lectures and practice meditation. Most of the teens who enter are given weapons and don't believe in any of it, mostly working as bodyguards for the adults as the adults slowly indoctrinate them into the cult. They remain bodyguards until they go completely blind and their indoctrination is complete, resulting in them retiring to lives of meditation themselves.
  • Doctor Island was previously known as Roosevelt Island and is home to many hospitals that did what they could during the outbreak. Eventually all that was left was an older doctor who selected girls to educate in medicine because he believed girls would be easier to control than boys. Now Doctor Island is controlled by his ten students and he lives well...as long as he does what they tell him to do. The girls do perform legitimate medicine and their services are a huge help to the people of the city. Kids generally pay in barter and anyone who threatens the peace of the island will have medical care permanently withdrawn. The girls also help adults...and often pressure the adults into entering indentured servitude to work off the debt before they let them leave the island.
West Coast

The west coast is basically said to be like the east but with more farmland. Which, I mean, have you seen the east coast? There's no shortage of that there. Anyway the main problem with the west coast is that cities like LA are totally abandoned because there was an interruption in the waterways that carry fresh water from the midwest to the coast. No water and a desert environment means that the urban sprawl has been largely abandoned as survivors move out into the farmlands for water and food.
  • Disneyland is a place a lot of kids want to go to, do...and leave. It's basically a pipe dream for kids who think they can make a life and living out in Disney but fail to realize how many other kids tried and ended up going elsewhere. Not to say that kids don't call Disney home. They do. It's basically like Vegas to them. There's just a constantly rotating population because it's hard to eke out a living in the park.
  • The Apiary is outside of Salem, Oregon and is a kid-only community of beekeepers. The leader, Sonia Gonzalez, made a promise to her grandparents that she'd keep the bees alive and her trek to Oregon ended up attracting followers who settled down with her. Barring an incident where they had to use the bees to scare off a group of adult slavers, the Apiary is peaceful except for winter when the slavers come try again and they have to survive off stored supplies. They do agriculture but mostly get what they need by trading honey and beeswax candles with other communities. It's not a perfect community, but Sonia has a good enough head on her shoulders to keep the kids in line and assign them jobs based on their strengths to keep the community running.
  • Harkness Air Force Base is one of the few military bases that's still running and still has its child soldiers. Devouring the suburbs outside of San Diego, the base is a sprawling monster because the leader (Commander Jim Winslow) has turned his men and his kids into highly-tuned raiders and slavers. They surround communities in the night with soldiers and landmines and then use military force to invade in the day, taking all of the food and resources and marching the survivors out in chain gangs for boot camp and assimilation. The main reason this whole thing is successful because Winslow uses what he calls "Siamese Corps" where a child is shackled to an adult, a gun is duct-taped to the adult's hand and their hands are taped together so the child can aim and the adult can shoot. But the entire thing might be getting too big and too unwieldy judging by how a group of child rebels are operating with drat near impunity beneath their noses.
The Southwest

The southwest runs into the main issue urban California does: not a lot of water. That and a lot of risk of death from poisonous animals. Life is hard for those out in the Mojave and that's a problem when you have Inheritor Border Guards and racial tensions caused from what kids were raised to think.
  • Four Corners is actually doing pretty well. Many reservations came together after the Plague and made sure their kids knew how to survive. Now Four Corners is home to sheep and cattle being raised by Native American kids banded together under the banner of a Navajo reservation, surviving and thriving in the desert.
  • Las Vegas is basically the slaver capital out in the desert. Home to families who fled there for one last kick, the goods started to run low and desperate parents started gambling on getting supplies them needed. Then someone put their kid up as collateral, and, well. Vegas runs by sheer dint of slaves alone, the casinos still running and the house still winning. The desperate come to the city for a thrill or for the supplies they need, putting up other supplies as collateral or enslaved kids and walking away empty-handed for the most part. The adults? They don't really care. The city keeps them happy and they're more focused on their own survival. The parents who put their kids on the table lie to themselves and claim that at least they know their child is safe.
  • For three and a half years, San Antonio was completely unsafe due to total anarchy and gangs of children waging brutal violence on each other in the streets. But for now that's changing thanks to a boy named Kwame Ofori and his plan to stop the violence by being more brutal than the others. Kwame is a Horse Rider and he had other Horse Riders backing him up, returning any violence inflicted on his group threefold. His settlement, Peace, is the safest place in San Antonio because they've unflinchingly struck back at anyone who would disturb the peace. The Peacekeepers are successful...but people are still trying to kill Kwame and topple him and his ideals.
The South

The south isn't great. Racial tensions and Confederate ideals have been reignited, creating child-run Klans and race-based slavery. Of course there are plenty of communities in the south that are just completely integrated because the kids grew up next to each other and didn't really care about race or skin color, but the fact that you have kiddy Klansmen running around is a problem. Go further east up into Appalachia and you find communities that are getting by just fine due to forming towns out of related kids who've had practical experience living off the land. Kids from the mountains are highly valued by groups for their knowledge of survival, hunting and agriculture.
  • New Orleans is flooded. When the power went down the pumps keeping the water out went down as well. Years and broken levees later you've got a flooded city being reclaimed by the swamp. Kids still live there, scavenging and living on boats, but it's an eerie city that's dangerous to live in.
  • Cape Canaveral is home to a bunch of teens who claim to be trained astronauts who offer education lessons to kids who want to go to space. The pitch is that they're working on the rockets and bringing the space program back up to snuff and they'll train the kids in how to operate in space. The lessons are bullshit and the entire thing is a scam to get kids to bring food to them.
  • Disneyworld is like Disneyland but in Florida.
  • Oklahoma is a lot like the Four Corners with kids from reservations picking up survival tricks from their relatives and putting them to good use.
  • Bertonville Louisiana is home to The Mission, a church converted into a theocratic community run by three teen boys who assumed the mantle of priests and prophets. The Mission is a pretty malevolent theocracy, accepting kids into the church for indoctrination to the beliefs of the Trinity (the three priests). God watches over you, the outside world is full of demons and heathens, purify yourselves in the eyes of the Trinity to become an Altar Boy so you can leave the church without dying. This last mission is helped by the fact that the Altar Boys kill kids who try to leave and then display their mutilated bodies, claiming they were slain by demons. Life in the Mission is a grim oppressive existence of obeying the strict theology of three teens playing at gods, hoping for salvation and doing your best to not break any of their rules. There are stats for the Trinity but basically you just need to know one is an-ex juvie bully who enjoys speaking of fire and brimstone and doing what he pleases, one is an embezzling task-master who cultivates paranoia and fear in the kids and the third is genuinely sincere in his beliefs they'll be saved and is afraid of the other two but too scared to speak up.

Happy October!

GROUPS
  • 5:5 is the violent doomsday militia cult responsible for attacking the lab in Denver. Their leader, Matthew, has given the cult the name based on Matthew 5:5, all that jazz about the meek inheriting the earth. They claim to have started the plague to enact God's will that all suffer so the righteous will regain sight and be accepted into the kingdom of Heaven and they've been recruiting kids and brainwashing them into the cult. Using kids and adults alike to transmit hidden messages through chapters across the US hidden in bible verses, they're dedicated to thwart all attempts to cure the plague because they believe it's against God's will. The old world had to die to create a new world run by kids who have been taught the ways of the world by Matthew...but the fact that kids are going blind as they age is a point of contention amongst the members of the church. Originally the doctrine was that all adults would die and let the kids take control. Now the official word is that the adults are advisors and kids are going blind because they're not pure enough and must reflect on their sins. Moving the goalposts will probably be what ultimately does the cult in when Matthew bites off more than he can chew.
  • Haddock's Brood is a cult of eye-eaters all taught the secret of eye-eating by one Edwin Haddock. Haddock was a serial killer who targeted kids and ate their flesh and eyes to consume their spirits and gain power. He got sick and was neglected in prison but ultimately survived to go blind. The staff decided to let him stay in his cell until death and the guards ultimately abandoned the prison...but some humanitarian ended up letting all of the prisoners out and Haddock ultimately survived to kill a kid and have himself a hearty dinner. He very well likely might've been the first person to find out the secret of eye-eating and it's not one he's kept to himself, selecting the desperate damned to become his disciples out of all of the others who were pretty rightly disgusted or tried to kill him. Ultimately the Brood is around 20 eye-eaters working together to steal into communities and feed themselves while feigning blindness. They're legitimately some of the most dangerous people out in the wastelands because, well, they're 20 adults with sight and weapons. As for Haddock...nobody really knows where he is anymore or if he's alive or dead.
  • Radio Operators are unconnected groups of people who still keep the airwaves alive. They coordinate intelligence and messages, they advertise communities, they trick kids into coming to places where they can have their eyes stolen or be pressed into slavery.
  • Mr. Vechhio's Kids stems from a group of children in New Jersey whose fourth grade teacher once made them perform the Milgram Obedience Experiment and the Zimbardo Prison Experiment before he was shitcanned when the kids complained to their parents about it. When the kids were all in military captivity, they all got around to discussing what they did under Mr. Vechhio's tutelage and what their parents said and what it all meant. Ultimately the conclusion they came to was that people could do bad things with little provocation and if the world was going to hell around them, someone had to stand up and speak truth to power for what's right and fair. Each kid burned a V into the back of their hand and when the base fell the kids scattered to the winds to teach the lessons they learned. They're committed to speaking out against evil and making sure someone has to be accountable for questioning a group's actions no matter the cost. Some of them are looking for their teacher still for answers to why he did what he did, others travel the states to stand up for the downtrodden and spread the message.
And outside of those, the book makes slight nods at the fact that there are groups that once held power in the past that are biding their time and trying to make plays for power, groups like the Catholic church or Mormons or communities that are becoming movements and cities.

RELIGION

Outside of the standard religions, a few newish ones have popped up due to the fact that kids aren't great theologians.
  • Abandoned Theology: God is dead or God has left. No God, no masters, no accountability, no punishment, no Hell. Mankind is doomed and has no chance of survival. Do what thou wilt. There's no one group in charge of Abandoned Theology, just adherents who act as priests that travel the US preaching the bad news while dressed as funeral mourners or in suits. Most of the followers are kids and its presence leads to a lot of death and selfish actions to put it mildly.
  • Angry-Dad Christianity: God is an abusive parent who seems nice and on the ball some days and other days he'll come home and hit you. And no matter how nice he seems when he's on, he's still ultimately an abusive dad. Angry-Dad Christianity is a degenerative form of Christianity that has been developed by kids who aren't able to approach The Problem of Evil from a philosophical standpoint. Jesus is either forgotten, considered another name for God or is considered to be the ultimate sibling who so loved his other brothers and sisters he gave his life to God to make God go easier on the others. A lot of practitioners and preachers are Inheritors wearing priest garb who proselytize to their communities and other kids because they think it's what a priest does. You also have practitioners who try to put other kids in God's sight to save themselves by introducing them to the religion.
  • God's War: Rich white men gave Satan the weapons he needed to make a plague to kill all righteous and good adults. All remaining blinded adults are evil and damned for their blindness is Satan's mark upon them. Everyone who died is on God's side to help stop the Devil. God's War is a cult of violently anti-adult kids in Miami who were originally in homeless shelters and came up with religious stories mixed with urban legends. This is a real thing, FYI. A much better book, New World of Darkness' Urban Legends, has a section briefly mentioning the homegrown religions of Miami's homeless shelters in regards to Bloody Mary. And here Bloody Mary comes up as well, functioning as the polar opposite of the Virgin Mary. The doctrine of God's War is to kill all adults, all kids who go blind are also evil and impure and also dig up your relatives and give them weapons so they can take them and help God fight. You should also break mirrors and stay away from water so Bloody Mary can't get you.
  • Luck: "Luckism" is basically just ritualized behavior where kids believe that luck is a real force and Fate(s) is(are) working for luck. Perform rituals to keep luck on your side, stave off bad luck and keep fate at bay. Luckism is an oral religion where every kid basically comes up with things that are lucky or unlucky and some opportunistic kids make a buck selling items to people that they claim are lucky.
  • Parent Worship: Parent Worship is basically a polytheistic religion where kids view their deceased parents as gods and pray to them for help and guidance. Veneration of the dead generally amounts to making shrines for their parents or treating their old houses as holy ground or turning mannequins into statuary idols of their parents by putting clothes and faces on them. Rituals vary depending on worshippers. It's not a popular religion unless it's in a town of Inheritors because, well, as things go on longer and longer and their deceased parents don't intervene...bit depressing, this one.
After this is a section on child psychology but meh. What's more important is the segment on THE FUTURE.

THE FUTURE

Mankind is hosed. We're probably going extinct within a few generations or less.

To elaborate, the real twist of the screw is that sterility is a thing with the Plague. Let's do some fast math based on the info provided.
  • World population in 2008 was 6.7 billion. If global population has been reduced by 90%, then that means there's 670 million people left. I'm counting both adults and kids. To compare it to past estimates, a world population of 670 million people is estimated to have been achieved somewhere between 1700 and 1750.
  • Kids outnumber adults five to one. So that means there are around 111 million adults to 558 million kids, ish.
  • God only knows how that math really shakes out when it comes to teens, adults and babies. Problem is that the 558 million is permanently dwindling as every second goes by and the kids age and go blind.
The absolute best case scenario for mankind is reversion to feudal agricultural systems due to knowledge loss and crumbling infrastructure. Every adult that dies and every kid that goes blind is a net loss of the knowledge of the pre-Plague world and the ability to act upon it. The new adults will at least know how to farm and how to hunt and practical applications of survival, but with the loss of the old world comes the loss of the medicine and quality of life that comes along with it. In two generations or so, you're going to have a world where adults rarely live past their 40s and the primary form of food comes from domesticated animals, gathered fruits and veggies and farming. Isolationism will generally be the norm because a nomadic lifestyle is too dangerous for most communities if kids are the only ones can see. Plus, child mortality will skyrocket...y'know if pregnancy wasn't actually nonlethal to the parents like the mechanics say. The mother will live but you're not keeping every kid.

What renders mankind extinct is the addition of sterility. For obvious reasons, of course. This previously imagined feudal existence is completely unsustainable because the birth rate will plummet. Because the sterility is so poorly defined, it's completely unknown if teenage women are capable of reproduction before they go completely blind but they sure can't have kids post-blindness (unless of course they're not actually sterile). The adults die, the kids become the adults, the next generation dies, all that's left is a constantly dwindling pool of children going more and more feral and likely breeding with each other as best as they can until what's left of the human race is a horrifically inbred shambling beast too unfit to reproduce and dying. All in the span of roughly a century if we consider diminishing returns and that fertility is not the dominant trait passed on by two fertile parents. If fertility is dominant...well I give them roughly the same odds of success due to inbreeding and isolation.

KidWorld! It's all hosed! You're never gonna cure that plague unless you lock all the surviving scientists in a room and constantly feed them child eyes! I super hate this wack-rear end junk science hoodoo poo poo! Join me NEXT TIME when we go over dangers of KidWorld and sample adventures and maybe alternate settings which are infinitely better than the core!

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Hostile V posted:

Actually okay there were two other effects to having the prion integrated fully into your body. The first is sterility. The game doesn't really explain exactly how the prion makes people sterile or how successful it is in those regards. It just says most adults are sterile and kids and teens are just ????. Frankly sterility doesn't even have to be a part of this stupid problem. The main reason blindness happens is because there's an Unnamed Molecule that scientists haven't discovered yet which is vital to the functioning of the rods and cones. Without enough of it, a milky white fluid builds up in the eye and results in blindness. The problem isn't that the prion stops the body from making this Unnamed Molecule (henceforth called Eye Bleach) but it's that the prion eats Eye Bleach. In fact the issue is that it eats Eye Bleach faster than the body can produce it, which as most people who understand the biology will tell you is absolute loving nonsense because the eye is a closed, self-contained system. The Vitreous Humor of the eye, for example, is one of the few things your body makes once and then will never make more of.



But this is why children are still able to see: their bodies make Eye Bleach faster than the prion can eat it and as they get older the function slows down and it's a slow decline into blindness. This is also why people eat eyes. Eating eyes means the stomach will absorb the Eye Bleach which will carry the Eye Bleach back to the eye and temporarily restore sight. This is also absolute loving nonsense because the eye is still a contained system and how exactly is the milky fluid problem fixed. But I digress. Everyone is infected. Everyone will eventually go blind and also maybe sterile but the latter is way more of a crapshoot than the others. They say that by the time they reach the age of 16 they're just as sterile as the adults who got exposed to the prion but I say gently caress that and gently caress you. Mankind is already doomed enough with mass blindness and mass extinction, we don't need literal tweens being the only ones capable of bearing the next generation of feral children.

I'm thinking it's probably aqueous humor, which is another closed system, but operates more like the blood-brain barrier of the central nervous system in which it's constantly fed and refreshed indirectly, than completely closed off like vitreous humor. Aqueous humor can eventually develop cataracts and glaucoma with age, but, guess what, there's already medical procedures that can stop that. Intraocular lens implants have been a thing since the turn of the 21st century and have been so common place as a treatment for cataracts that there's been talk of artificial lens with LCDs for perfectly-sighted military personnel, like the goddamn cyberpunk future we were promised. In fact, once that the disease mechanism is discovered or suspected, the government wouldn't bother with the child soldiers but instead rotate military units and put them under the knife with artificial corneas.

Also, what's stopping people from just eating cow eyes? There's not much difference between human and other vertebrates' tissues, enough that you can use cattle or pig tissues in human beings. Happens all the time.

Hostile V posted:

Also some of you may reasonably be saying "well hold on a second, there's no such thing as a bioweapon/disease/virus/prion that works 100% of the time". Y'all are correct. There are in fact adults and kids who are out there who are still able to see and basically either shrugged off the prion or integrated it smoothly into their bodies with no problems. Roughly that's one in a million who is immune. The book also says that every single person who is immune to the effects of the prion has "severe chromosomal abnormalities" and all developmentally disabled with a sprinkling of a chance of physical disability. Which just rings as a massive gently caress you to me. I mean, cool, there are people who are out there who are genetic goldmines to figuring out how to neutralize the prion. They are all disabled in some form and the harsh decline of the world doesn't guarantee their survival four years later. It also rings as a gently caress you to people who want to play the game and be like "my character is immune and will never go blind!" like some rear end in a top hat GM is just gonna stroke their lovely neckbeard and be like "well enjoy playing a character with Down Syndrome" as a loving rear end in a top hat GOTCHA! move.

This is where you start tricking your GM by pulling obscure chromosome abnormalities like Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, YY, or trisomy X as a counter-GOTCHA! move. gently caress, YY syndrome would be the easiest to game KidWorld given the stereotype from the 1970s of XYY people being violent criminals.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

All of that ridiculous 'science', and they still tried to play the magic retard card.

unzealous
Mar 24, 2009

Die, Die, DIE!



Today with a special guest letter!






Transcript:

Sir:

I hope you will forgive my presumption in writing to you without being previously introduced. I found your correspondence among my brotherís effects; he has been missing for a week now and my apprehensions have taken a turn for the worse.
Before my brother disappeared, he had developed a habit of taking long walks in the afternoon. He would return covered in a layer of ash and on several occasions I expressed my concern for his respiratory health. He assured me he was taking precautions and demonstrated how his handkerchief could be tied in front of his nose and mouth. This seemed an insufficient precaution and I begged him to reconsider his habits, but to no avail.
On one instance, after returning he instructed me to look at some photographs he had taken of the urban landscape. Of course, the fallen ash makes it seem greatly changed compared to earlier this year, but I found nothing remarkable in the photos. My brother pointed to various features in them and asked if I didnít think they looked like fantastical creatures; he was particularly insistant on a sort of giant salamander he supposed to be curled around an apartment building. I do not mind telling you that I began to fear for his mental stability, but I allowed myself to be reassured when he stopped demonstrating an obsession with these impossible creatures. Now, however, I must wonder if he merely started sending the photos to you instead.
If you know anything that could help us find him, or at least understand what has happened to him, I would be in your debt.
I have enclosed certain papers I found in his desk; perhaps you can make sense of them, though I cannot.

Sincerely yours,
R H D



Transcript:
Dear R.H.D,

Unfortunately I have not heard from your brother in some time. He had become fixated on something he referred to as a troll, though whether it is a creature or a location is beyond me. Occasionally he would write to me about times he spent surveilling it at night, seeing people come to it and perform some sort of oblation. Perhaps this troll is the Moloch he references in his notebook. Unfortunately, like you, I have not heard from him in some time. My best advice would be to follow his tracks, perhaps locate this Moloch or this Mr. S-. Based on the note the latter likely works as some sort of archivist or librarian, one which specializes in old or archaic works.
I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor, I know your brother to be a good man, and likewise know you to be someone of great cunning and resourcefulness. I have faith you will find out what has happened when you set yourself to the task. I know this in part because you were correct in assessing the handkerchief across the mouth as being insufficient to weather the toxic air outside. I attempted it this morning and am much worse off for it.
Actually, now that I think of it I was conversing to him about the same book I have been discussing with others, titled De Profundis. I will send you copies of what I have written already, perhaps a clue lies buried therein. Before I lost contact I had written a letter discussing it a bit more. I have taken the precaution of copying it beforehand, just in case. It appears as though my mild paranoia has paid off.

Sincerely,

Unzealous






Transcript:

Dear Reader,

I am feeling a bit better as of late. Perhaps I have simply come to accept my forced isolation and am trying to focus on the situation with a positive attitude. After all, I have not had so much time to myself in months, and I have gotten a great deal of reading done. Admittedly I still have a coughing fit now and then, and I have music playing constantly in the house to drown out the deafening silence caused by the ash outside snuffing out the sounds I had become so used to. But aside from that I am in good spirits. This has to end eventually, does it not?
We appear to be at around the halfway point of the book. I pray for your continued patience as we delve ever deeper into this tome. The next section is discussing a bit of the framework involved in crafting a game. They refer to it as the Convention which is the setting, style and themes you use during the game. The theme is the core ideas you want to explore and experience. If I may be so bold as to use my current predicament it would be one of isolation and dread. The dangers I face are primarily psychological. Inside my house, I am safe. Outside, I am not. But I recognize this is not a tenable situation. You could choose anything that sits well with your group as something interesting to write about, and the book provides several examples.
For instance you could be a group of people who have come out on the wrong end of a conspiracy and are only left with questions. How much of what is happening is a coincidence and how much is the machinations of a secretive and powerful group? With each discovery you can feel them slowly turning their gaze on your group and you wonder just how far their reach extends.
Conventions also cover the style in which you communicate with one another. Once again, using my own predicament as an example, I write letters as I would to a close associate. I am careful with my word choice and try to write in an eloquent and refined manner. But this would not be appropriate in all circumstances. If your group were members of a paramilitary organization or a corporation your correspondences might look more like After Action Reports or Corporate Memos. Likewise you should remember that you are writing as your character and should write as they would, using their vocabulary and idiosyncrasies. Some people might get straight to the point in a letter while others might approach it only after exchanging greetings and updates on their life and other goings on.
This section also covers the use of tables as a means of combating writer's block and moving the plot forward. They consist of words or phrases that are inspired by the themes youíve selected. In my case I might have chosen Ash, Burning Eyes, Isolation, Mysterious Footprints and Receiving Strange Letters. With these at hand I can choose one or more to write about during the next letter. If you want to test your creative abilities you can assemble a table beforehand and choose randomly which element you will include in the next letter, challenging you to weave it into the story as naturally as is possible. Though I would not personally recommend this if it would prove detrimental to the game itself.
The next part of the book is concerned with the organization of a society. Everyone should maintain Society Sheets either individually or, thanks to ingenious inventions like Google Documents, as a group. These would keep track of the themes of the game, what people are looking for out of it, the characters and their goals, and notes on the plot as it progresses. You should also have a clear idea on how much of the unnatural you should start with. It would be rather dissonant to start a game where one individual has never experienced the supernatural while a colleague is already knee deep in demons. You can also add an expected age range, and other bits of information that people might consider important. Iíve transcribed one of the examples from the book as an illustration.

Court Martial

Convention:
Weird Fiction / Jewellery Box

Time and place:
Eastern Europe 1915 and 1917-1918.
Plot:
Investigation of a small but mysterious episode from the Battle of Dukla Pass in 1915. A handful of low-ranking officers from the Austro-Hungarian army are to be charged with treason and sentenced to death. However, investigation of the documents, letters exchanged, and copies of orders suggests that the case is not as straightforward as it first appears, and the accused are likely to be innocent.
The players follow various leads in order to solve the mystery (for instance, this could involve a mass murder of a civilian population by the soldiers, laying down arms in the face of the enemy in spite of clear orders from above, and so on).
They get to investigate military documents (orders, reports, letters), visit old battlefields, talk to prisoners, look for witnesses, and withstand the pressure from above to find the accused guilty. And the war goes on...

Society:
The players play high-ranking officers, and also may play cooperating reporters,doctors, and anyone else who could be involved in the investigation.

As you can see this gives you all the information you need to create a character and begin writing letters to one another. Itís practically dripping with potential stories and intrigue, and even strange and inexplicable events for those so inclined. Iíve even taken the effort to painstakingly recreate the table accompanying it, filled with possible clues and complications for the story.

"This method may seem a bit patronising or limiting, but itís only actually needed at the outset of the game. The whole setup can gradually be phased out when the plot picks up, when following and developing it is the playersí responsibility.
In short, you donít have to restrict yourself to such a tight set of initial rules once the plot is safely established. And thatís exactly what the Society Sheet is Ė a base, a starting point for your exchange of letters."

This should be enough food for thought, for the moment. While my spirit might be willing my flesh is still as weak as it was before. I have been corresponding with an associate who is experiencing some rather unfortunate circumstances and I need time and energy to focus on those as well. I hope these letters continue to find you happy and in good health.

Sincerely,


Unzealous

unzealous fucked around with this message at 03:39 on Oct 15, 2017

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



So how did the prion infect the entire planet from a single facility going up in tainted smoke?

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


Every new detail I learn about Kidworld just makes it more unclear why anyone would want to play it, or even who the game is for. I really wonder if some of the games in this thread ever got played outside of the developer's close friends.

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 don't think De Profundis is ultimately a game I'm interested in but I heavily enjoy your review of it and the presentation style, unzealous.

Green Intern posted:

So how did the prion infect the entire planet from a single facility going up in tainted smoke?
It was rendered sufficiently airborne worldwide by the smoke I guess. Yeah that doesn't make any sense but why start now.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



BinaryDoubts posted:

Every new detail I learn about Kidworld just makes it more unclear why anyone would want to play it, or even who the game is for. I really wonder if some of the games in this thread ever got played outside of the developer's close friends.

My great question about it is, what are the PCs supposed to be doing? The game clearly wants you to be playing children and curing the epidemic is beyond their capabilities. Are the PCs supposed to be running a community? Fighting these threats? Being a threat? Making a bad community better? Nevermind the note that everyone's boned eventually, I'm not seeing a clear pitch for what you're supposed to be doing.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Cythereal posted:

My great question about it is, what are the PCs supposed to be doing? The game clearly wants you to be playing children and curing the epidemic is beyond their capabilities. Are the PCs supposed to be running a community? Fighting these threats? Being a threat? Making a bad community better? Nevermind the note that everyone's boned eventually, I'm not seeing a clear pitch for what you're supposed to be doing.

Welcome to every lovely RPG ever. *Especially* the grimdark ones.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Night10194 posted:

Welcome to every lovely RPG ever. *Especially* the grimdark ones.

Less sandbox, more litterbox.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I can't believe we've found a game even grimdumber and more pointless than Abandon All Hope, but here we loving are.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

I really did not expect Kidworld's review to turn out the way it has so far.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

I don't know why you'd do kidworld as an rpg. As a premise it's not terrible for a sci-fi book, I can see Steven King doing something decent along those lines, but it's a dumb fit for a game where you interact with things.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Green Intern posted:

So how did the prion infect the entire planet from a single facility going up in tainted smoke?
Yeah seriously, this seems like it'd gently caress over the US east of Denver but wouldn't impact the West Coast. I'm not sure what the prevailing winds are like.

Also, all those guys in sealed bunkers - hopefully they brought a lot of lady troops with 'em - would presumably be fine by now. I don't know how durable prions are but it seems like you gotta eat 'em raw and by now, years later, they'd all have been exposed to lengthy and extended bouts of radiation (from the sun) as well as temperature changes.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Starfinger Core Rules Part #18: "So if you want to play an Ursula K. Le Guin style science fantasy, or C.J. Cherryh, who whoever it is that you're into, you can do that in our system."
(James Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Game Informer interview.)



So, their first suggestion is to run published adventures, and they encourage you to do so.

Of course they do.

It however, notes that some people just run on some basic notes or off the cuff, and that's okay too. They suggest that when writing up an adventure, just keep to broad strokes and when you're thrown off your guard, just grab some reference material and wing it. Reference material like the Starfinger Alien Archive.

Because of course.

There's notes that some people stat out every creature, while others just reuse material from the Starfinger Alien Archive. Others only write down partial statblocks. Actual advice? Why have that when we have noodle arms and a big fat shrug! Have we mentioned there is this Alien Archive book, even after we said this was the only book you need unambiguously? Welll... you might need that? Maybe?

Of course you do.

Designing encounters is "both an art and a science" but is mostly just bog-standard d20 Challenge Rating (CR) stuff, which is never gotten any fresher. For example, an NPC has CR equal to their level which uh, is rarely ever accurate and will usually get torn apart by any reasonably competent group of PCs. In addition, it means a 7th level Envoy is supposed to be an equal challenge to a 7th level Technomancer and that's either hilarious, sad, or both. Even sadder is that a 10th level Soldier sans equipment is CR 9, because an humanoid NPC without equipment is only -1 to CR. Suuure, I'm sure that Soldier will be terrifying, coming at you with their 1d3 nonlethal meathooks. Hey, there's this book called the Alien Archive that can help you with your NPCs, maybe?

Because of course there is.

It may seem I'm being needlessly pedantic, but they were the ones that said that this was the only book you need. Once again, from Chapter 1, page 7:

Starfinger Roleplaying Game posted:

This book contains all the information you need to play Starfinger, whether you're a player or a Game Master.

Chapter 1 had no mention of the Alien Archive. And why not? I mean, all of us who are RPG hobby veterans know that D&D clones are oft-separated into several necessary books, but Starfinger is aimed at new players as much as old-timers. So why not bring this up in Chapter 1? The only reason I can think on holding off on mentioning it until the midst of Chapter 3 and not even emphasizing it until Chapter 11 is to more or less obscure that fact and to make like the entry price looks like the $60 cost of the core rule book, when the entry cost for a gamemaster adds in the $40 cost of the Alien Archive for a total of $100.

And then they'd like you to subscribe...

Making money isn't wrong. And getting a fair price for your game isn't wrong. And getting financially supported richly by your fans isn't wrong. But obscuring the true cost of your game is a problem, I think. Thankfully, the days of just picking up a book in a store and trying to parse it out are over, and there are places where you can ask online "What do I need to play Starfinger?" But it's still curious that they wrote that this book was the only thing you need more than once, knowing that it isn't.

Moving on, XP charts still have a detailed chart based on the challenge rating of the creature and the number of people in the party, and formulae to adjust that CR based on the number of creatures of a given CR and all that. There's some handwaves done towards the notion of "story awards", but XP is still primarily gained by eliminating, overcoming, or bypassing specific threats - mainly fights (on foot or spacecraft) and vehicle chases. It does add that they have to be actual threats, and going around committing civilian atrocities shouldn't be rewarded. (Of course, like many such games, it provides an alignment system where you can be any alignment you like!... but presumes you're good or at least neutral.)



We have charts detailing the value of loot that should drop from each encounter and what the wealth level of each character should be for a given level. It notes that since usable loot is miserably salable (you can only ever sell equipment for 10%, as it restates) to make up the difference in terms of story awards like job payments. Of course, there's also the complicated issue of having to figure out what items count towards a PC's wealth value and which are only worth their resale, which comes down to trying to predict which equipment a PC will use and what they'll stash...

There's also the question of "what happens if the PCs decide to sell their spaceship" and... Starfinger doesn't have an easy solution to that.

Starfinger Core Rulebook posted:

But starships are expensive-what's to stop them from simply selling their starship and retiring, or using the money to buy gear far too powerful for their level?

Uh, the fact that sellers can automatically evaluate a character's level and not sell them equipment unsuitable for it? C'mon, they covered this. Well, it says that the GM can just instruct them not to. If that's not enough, they can come up with a story explanation where it's actually lended by a patron, or it has an AI that doesn't wish to be sold (wait, does that make it a character, then...?), or other reasons it doesn't ultimately belong to the PCs. Ultimately, starships are meant to be kept aside from the normal gear and wealth structure.



We've given sample DCs for GMs, saying that:

Starfinger Core Rulebook posted:

A challenging DC for a skill check is equal to 15 + 1-1/2 x the CR of the encounter or the PCs' Average Party Level (APL).

Which, while not as unworkable as the computer or starship rules, results once again in math where tasks get slightly harder at a rate faster than the PCs gain competency. At level 1, a PC with maximized bonuses might have a +8 against a DC of 17, meaning they need a roll of 9 or higher to succeed. At level 20, a PC with maximized bonuses will be adding +32 against a DC of 45, meaning they need a roll of 13 or higher. And note that most PCs won't necessarily have maximized bonuses in the skill checks they're making all the time. Operatives and Envoys have it a little better, but ultimately the slow increase in difficulty applies for most PCs.

It notes that GMs can fudge rolls in desperation, putting Starfinger in the pro-fudge camp - and to use a GM screen for that kind of thing - but not to be antagonistic about it. In addition, it notes you can adjust encounters if PCs don't have the tools to do so, like ignoring a particular type of Damage Reduction or giving PCs a plot twist that lets them overcome it, but not to overdo it. (Of course, they could have written rules where random rolls can't result in unresolveable failure states - or just unfun results - but Paizo's not in that business.)

It notes that character death should be addressed as quickly as possible, resolving encounters and working out whether or not the PC is going to stay dead - "You aren't required to let a dead character return to life." - or return. If a PC is to return to life, the GM is encouraged to immediately whisk them to the situation where that can occur. Alternately, if a player is moving on to a new character, it's suggested a player can take up the role of an established NPC for the meantime until the new character can be generated. Also, because the equipment treadmill trumps all other concerns-

Starfinger Core Rulebook posted:

Thus, it's usually easier to simply assume that the dead PC's personal gear (though not necessarily important story items belonging to the group) is destroyed, lost, or otherwise goes away.

I know Starfinger: a Game of Space Accounting might not have been an attractive title, but it certainly would have been more accurate whenever the subject of stuff comes up.We're given a variety of other pieces of advice - Starfinger guides GMs to confront problem players and dismiss them if necessary, advises keeping campaign journals, tells GMs to resolve rule conflicts swiftly, etc. It ain't all bad, and a lot of it is good advice, though it's mainly mainly matters of XP and equipment that get any real depth.

Next: Standing on the sun.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 12:42 on Oct 15, 2017

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Starfinger Core Rules Part #18: "So if you want to play an Ursula K. Le Guin style science fantasy, or C.J. Cherryh, who whoever it is that you're into, you can do that in our system."
(James Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Game Informer interview.)

I will never cease to get pissed off when I see this kind of quote because it just isn't true.

Don't tell me I can play anything then give me the assumption that this will be a gear-porn action-fantasy game where everyone REALLY REALLY CARES what brand of laspistol I'm using in my strictly defined class and race boundaries.

unzealous
Mar 24, 2009

Die, Die, DIE!


gradenko_2000 posted:

I really did not expect Kidworld's review to turn out the way it has so far.

When I first saw the cover I thought it was about a fantasy land full of children and the kids had tamed a giant or something. Obviously this turned out to be wildly incorrect.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Night10194 posted:

I will never cease to get pissed off when I see this kind of quote because it just isn't true.

Yeah, I'm left going, "Uh, have you read those books? Because it turns out they're not about people getting paid a million billion dollars to shoot baddies."

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Hostile V posted:

[*]Angry-Dad Christianity:

i'm not sure if this is your phrase or the book's, but it made me laugh way too hard because i'm pretty sure that's the actual form people practice right now, today, in reality, without some imaginary plague to inspire it

the eye eating element is the thing that screams "THIS IS THE AUTHOR'S PRIVATE FETISH / WANK MATERIAL" to me. the rest of the setting is full of weird plot holes and involves fictional leaps of logic that basically no one would ever reach on their own, but the part about having to eat eyes to temporarily regain your sight is what sends the whole thing into piss wizard territory.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Freaking Crumbum posted:

the eye eating element is the thing that screams "THIS IS THE AUTHOR'S PRIVATE FETISH / WANK MATERIAL" to me. the rest of the setting is full of weird plot holes and involves fictional leaps of logic that basically no one would ever reach on their own, but the part about having to eat eyes to temporarily regain your sight is what sends the whole thing into piss wizard territory.

That or someone read/watched too much Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

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gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, I'm left going, "Uh, have you read those books? Because it turns out they're not about people getting paid a million billion dollars to shoot baddies."

brb drafting my campaign pitch for Space John Wick

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