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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Have you never seen Worlds of Wonder? BRP doing superheroes, space adventure, and generic fantasy in the same box?
No. Sounds terrible.

I'm not a particular fan of BRP as a system. Like I don't have lots bad to say about it, much as I don't have much bad to say about graph paper from 1980.

unseenlibrarian posted:

And then there's the Ringworld RPG based on BRP, with characters with skill levels at 5000 percent .
One problem BRP shares with D&D 3, at least in some of the BRP games I've looked over, is some skills (namely combat skills) going well over 100%. Like, what does it mean to be better than perfect at a skill?

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unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

At least for combat, a big thing is that skills over 100 percent increase your crit and special success rate. So if, say, you've got a 1000 percent skill, (which, yes, is ridiculous, but) you get a critical on 50 or less on a d100 (And basically if you hit at all it's a special success, which can have varying effects.)

In Runequest having a combat skill above 100 percent also let you split it and take multiple attacks or parries, as long as the end result for the multiple actions were 50 percent or more. So if you had 120 percent attack you could trade one 120 percent attack for 2 60 percent, or whatever.

For non-combat stuff, the benefit is mostly the critical/special success stuff, which made opposed checks for the other guy harder. For example, if you succeed at a stealth check and someone else succeeds on their check to find you, they'll spot you. If you get a special or critical success, they need to have a special or critical success to see you, so if your skill is so high that you always get a special success and the other guy's got a normal human success chance, well.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy

Josef bugman posted:

So would something like Runequest or Heroquest count as d20 design?

I'd like to throw in that while Heroquest uses a d20, it's definitely not d20 design.

For one thing, it's a roll-under system.

For another, it's an opposed roll-under system, with the GM also making their own roll-under against a Resistance stat.

There's a formal system for determining what the Resistance is, so the GM never has to pull anything out of their rear end, such as setting a "DC" in D&D 3e. This system causes the Resistance to rise with every session to reflect the need for the players to get better in general, to rise as the players succeed, and to decrease as the players fail. It doesn't care about how "real" the difficulty is, but rather is concerned about maintaining story beats.

Finally, the rolls in Heroquest aren't concerned with breaking down actions into their disparate parts: the player wants something, the GM sets an obstacle, they both agree on the stakes involved, and they roll to see if the player wins the stakes.

Barudak
May 7, 2007





Preface: Last Exodus the Interactive Story Arc of the Third and Last Dance is a roleplaying game from Synister Creative Systems published in 2001 and designed Sean and Joshua Jaffe. It’s a metaplot heavy, playing card deck using, religious themed urban grunge game. Unless I am otherwise notified it appears to be completely out of print with no digital versions available. Should this be incorrect I will update to include where it can be bought to give the original developers income.

Part 2: Starting the Book, Badly

To kick off this part, please understand I didn’t intend to write so much about what constitutes about 6 pages of content total. Unfortunately for both of us, instead of getting to gobble up some dire metaplot, we need to work through the extremely bad way this game starts off and the frankly awful advice it gives new players. Worse for you, for some reason TLE uses non-standard size pages so it doesn’t play nice with my scanner so you’re just going to have to learn to deal with the image quality I can provide.

That out the way let’s start this game up and… slam immediately face first into a wall of gobbledygook. Ostensibly we open the book with an article written by an in-universe character named Nicholas Van Zant  in an underground Zine called “Seig Heil Giuliani”. By the by, TLE is pretty self-serious and expects you to play every thing it presents very straight-faced.


I feel you, buddy

NVZ’s rambling article, as it turns out, is basically a cliche-salad. It’s about how the world is super dull and nothing interesting happens in it and everyone is a mindless drone and we were all promised super cool things like a world war and nuclear armageddon. Yes, the game compares “flying cars” equally with “nuclear armageddon” as things we were promised and denied by our lame real-world present*. In the last 3 paragraphs it finally sets up the premise of the game by saying that right now, thousands of messiahs are being born who will reshape the world.

We then, after jumping past the table of contents, get a disclaimer. Why this isn’t page one and instead after the table of contents I don’t know and I couldn’t tell you. I’m not going to copy it since it’s quite long and mostly concerned with saying that if you’re offended about their usage of religions to pass on this book, and that for those who don’t pass on it they hope experiencing and roleplaying this deep and mature subject matter will leave you a changed person. Hilariously though, the very first thing the disclaimer talks about, yes even before it discusses religion and its smug sense of self worth, is to make it extremely clear your characters are not meta-plot important.

Remember those thousands of messiahs the book led off with? That’s right, the game follows its tease of its setting by telling you in no uncertain terms you can’t be the important people or influence the story. This my friends, is the TLETISAOTTALD experience.

We then get another passage of pointless navel-gazing from NVZ, with some paragraphs appearing to be copied or earlier versions of the introductory fiction mentioned above. As you attempt to read this additional, confusing, metaplot conflicting word salad TLE interrupts with a breakout box to quote you some lyrics by Dream Theater with full and complete artist attribution and where you may note the name of this game was lifted from. This will be a recurring theme throughout the book down to each faction having a specific lyric and song.


Turns out there are surprisingly few songs featuring noted cool person “some loving LIAR”’s username
                                   
We are then introduced to the game’s three main annoying textual commenters at the same time as the game tries to introduce what this book is for. And I mean literally the same time, some of these text boxes overlap and interrupt each other and start at different elevations on the page so there is no good way to read this at all. The commentators exist to have different perspectives, chat dialogs with each other, and provide additional information by interrupting the flow of the text they’re talking about completely. The layout actually gets worse after this page, if you believe it.


No matter where you choose to start reading, you lose
Art: Peter Johnson

The “what is this book” section that the commenters are yelling over states the book is for playing a roleplaying game, and then for no discernable reason then explains to us what a LARP is in detail even though the only rules for LARPing in this book are 6 paragraphs at the back of the book. The game helpfully points out that this book represents only the beginning of a story, not its middle or end and before that sentence even ends tells you that they are writing towards a specific ending. Following the Charlie-Brown-kicking-the-football of player agency, It then in a single sentence sums up how little TLE respects its players:

“This will allow you and the other players in your group to shape your own little corner of The Last Exodus’ continuing story or “metaplot”.”

After telling you that you can’t disturb their metaplot, what can you do in TLE? Well there are two kinds of roles to play, starting with a Dungeon Master Storyteller  Director. We’ve gone only about 3 paragraphs from the “you can have a corner of our sandbox” I copied above, and the game tops itself by telling you the reason to play as the director is because it feeds your ego. Yes, the game literally calls out that everyone has to listen to the director, they define the story, and they judge everything so if this power sounds in TLE’s words “addicting”, TLE recommends you consider being a director.

After deciding which of your egotistical and cruel friends will be Director, time for a description of the other role, Players. Somehow, the game finds another poisoned well to dredge up some bad advice and says that within a story like the Matrix, Morpheus would be a Director controlled NPC. It then shames the guy in your group who can’t make it regularly by calling him Tank which, drat, cold. You may have noticed I’ve describe a bunch of jokey references to the Matrix but not mentioned what players actually do, but that’s because the book actually doesn’t either. It, in reference to what are a player’s responsibilities, says verbatim:

“[...] all the players require is the ability to show up.”

The game then explains a role-playing campaign as a concept. Despite the fact the game literally titles itself as THE INTERACTIVE STORY ARC it tells you one-shots are totally valid. Despite this, TLE contains no actual rules for one-shots and the rules all fully assume you’re playing a long, ongoing narrative based on their metaplot.

We need to stop for a moment now, and this is skipping ahead slightly, but I feel like I really need to call this out. This is normally the part where the book will tell you to play an ongoing narrative**, tee-up it’s metaplot, and really get you salivating at the prospect of reading 18 pages of not even comic-book level writing. The problem here is, TLE doesn’t contain even a single adventure or objective to kick off its INTERACTIVE STORY ARC so you actually can’t play the game’s story using the core book.

Lastexodus.com was supposed to complement this book and give you your metaplot updates from there, no need for setting books. In fact, even if they printed any of the listed “Upcming Products”, none of those books are adventures or story content. Somehow, this book contains 18 pages of pure metaplot backstory and 40 pages of setting detail and a set of throw-away, single paragraph-long suggestions for possible alternate campaign plots at the back of the book are more playable than the INTERACTIVE STORY ARC the game is named after.

We then get one of those one-act plays that are a description of play. During this description of play, the Director makes one of the players do a check which, when passed, reveals that there is nothing he could learn using that check with the note that the director is literally smirking in amusement at trolling his player by making him do a pointless check.


You can’t spell “My name is John Wick” without “Kim”
Art: Derek Stevens

In summary; TLETISAOTTALD

Next time: Adventures in Page Lay-PLOT AND BACKSTORY-out

*Spring 2001, you were so magical
**The game uses Casablanca as an example of a one-shot story. It uses a different example, obviously, for ongoing narratives like it is trying to cultivate. First one to guess correctly gets a shoutout in the next section.

Barudak fucked around with this message at 03:48 on Oct 17, 2017

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk






Chapter 5: The History of the World




We are told that comprehending the world of Dark*Matter requires us to understand that all things are connected - no matter how unlikely that may seem - and that everyday life is just a filter that hides the alien creatures, occult conspiracies, and supernatural forces that toil endlessly to take over the Earth!

The reason that the Dark*Matter campaign is named Dark*Matter is because in the game universe, dark matter particles are real, quantifiable things that exist, and the total amount of them that exist throughout the universe oscillates between periods of high and low tides. No, there's no explanation given for why the amount of dark matter in the universe fluctuates, nor what law of physics governs this process; it just happens the way it happens, so loving deal. When the universal dark matter tide is low, physics behaves like we would normally observe, obeying Newtonian principles or the principles of relativity according to your frame of reference, and all other worlds, dimensions, and timelines are separated and segmented away from each other. Supernatural things can still occur, but it's extremely unlikely, and even correctly following some occult ritual that's proven to create a supernatural effect requires a significantly greater expenditure of resources. When the dark matter tide is high, all of the separate dimensions start to collapse into a single "prime" universe and all kinds of supernatural wackiness slips through the cracks between realities and aliens can visit the Earth and the Lost City of Atlantis can be accessed via warp gates and every other kind of schlocky, Sci-Fi channel-esque science fiction can occur. In case it wasn't clear, the Earth of 199X presented in Dark*Matter is at the crest of the highest dark matter tide ever recorded, which is what allows your investigator to go on all of these bizarre adventures.

Which very neatly sums up one of my major beefs with Dark*Matter, especially as it pertains to the world building/metaplot as presented in the book: almost everything of any historical significance was directly or indirectly caused by supernatural or otherworldly forces pursuing their unfathomable designs for world domination. This is something that a lot of other FAF reviews have discussed and at length, but it really kills my ability to enjoy the fictional Earth presented in Dark*Matter if human being are more or less completely absolved of any of the horrific decisions we've made as a collective species because there was always some alien overlord or occult gestalt or some other contrived supernatural abomination that was masterminding the whole thing. As has been previously stated, it's also hugely disrespectful to the people that had to suffer through the horrors of real human cruelty to imply that all of their torment wasn't really that horrific because the guilty parties were being manipulated behind the scenes. I don't know if there's a term for historical revisionism within a fictional narrative, but if there is, Dark*Matter is guilty of it (fwiw, the humanocentric "You Did It!" universe presented by Greg Stolze in 2E Unknown Armies is infinitely more palatable to me).

The other issue I have, which is much more of a game play issue, is that IRL I'm not actually scared of aliens or vampires or mothmen or any other imaginary cryptozoological specimen. They aren't real, I know they're not real, and when all of the horror and tension is supposed to come from the perceived threat of imaginary monsters, I just can't get into playing a character that's scared. Dark*Matter is supposed to borrow at least a little of the conceptual horror from other fictional sources like the Lovecraft Mythos or the X-Files, but the fact that it leans so heavily into the "monster of the week" style explanation for everything, and barely even pays lip service to the horror that other human beings can willingly inflict on each other for terrifyingly trivial reasons, kills my ability to pretend that I am playing a scary game.

Anyway, you aren't here to listen to me bitch about my hang-ups! Instead, we're here to review loving pages and pages of metaplot that, in true 90's game design fashion, will hardly ever be relevant over the course of an actual game play session. Chapter 5 isn't even the single longest chapter in the campaign guide, but the fact that the vast majority of the 21 pages of metaplot are largely irrelevant makes reading it kind of a chore. Like, when I was a teenager and I got the book for the first time it was exciting to read about the secret history of the world (as envisioned by Wolfgang Baur and Monte Cook) but re-reading it as an adult is just an exercise in frustration. It's insufferable naval gazing vomited over about a tenth of the entire page count, and most of it isn't even shocking or controversial or edgy; it's just drivel, and a lot of the mysteries have the laziest loving explanations you could contrive (ex: the entire Quetzalcoatl mythology was the result of the Aztecs misinterpreting the final instructions from their alien overlords regarding their eventual return to Earth).

Ready to see how boring the secret history of the world can get?


10,500 BCE - The first Strangers (a collective term for all of the alien, supernatural, or occult entities not native to Earth) of the current era set foot upon Earth. The highest local concentrations of dark matter are in what is now the Upper Nile region of Egypt, and the Strangers that ride the dark matter wave from their dimension to ours are the Reptilians!


Yes, those Reptilians, the ones that every racist uncle believes secretly run the U.S government by successfully impersonating every President, ever.

Anyway, their name for themselves is the Kinori, and they encounter the homo-sapiens that live in the Nile region and they get along pretty well. The Kinori are innately powerful wizards and Hermetic magic is their racial arcane school and they teach these early humans the secrets of Hermetic magic. There's plenty of arable farmland and plenty of room to expand and both species end up intermingling a fair amount and everything is copacetic.


6,000 BCE - The second group of Strangers to visit Earth rides the dark matter tide in a massive interplanetary star ship and winds up in low Earth orbit. These strangers are the alien Greys and they decide to land on Earth when their star ship systems detect massive energy fluctuations coming from what is now the island of Thera, but was then the insanely advanced nation of ATLANTIS!


The Greys are totally the frail-bodied, bulbous-headed dudes with huge black eyes that every "I WANT TO BELIEVE" nut believes abduct human beings for recreational anal probing.

The Atlanteans had unique technology that no other human civilization could match and they had already established colonies and trade routes across the Atlantic Ocean, the most significant of which was the colony city of Lubaantum (est. back in 7,500 BCE) in South America. However, the reason that the Greys decided to visit Atlantis was because the source of the mysterious energy fluctuations was a series of bizarre, green stones that covered a significant portion of the island. The Atlanteans admitted that they didn't know what purpose the stones served, and although the Greys believed that they looked manufactured as opposed to being a naturally occurring phenomena, since they were otherwise inert and not causing trouble, the Greys decide to let the issue drop. Since they had already flown all the way across the galaxy, the Greys decide to plop down stakes with the Atlanteans and they create a super-cool society full of science and psychic powers and awesome mysteries.

Eventually the Kinori-backed Egyptians and the Grey-backed Atlanteans ran into each other and began a mutually beneficial cultural exchange. The Greys hated Kinori wizards for reasons that are never explained, and they hoped that by intermingling the cultures the human Egyptians would recognize the superiority of Grey science and tech and psychic powers and would abandon the Kinori sorcery. The Kinori decide not to start a war over ideology and tell the Egyptians that they can be wizards or psychics and the Kinori will still be cool either way. The hybrid Atlantean-Egyptian civilization flourishes like crazy and goes on to colonize the rest of Africa, North and South America, and even Antarctica (?) and everything is really great for everybody for a few thousand years.

2,705 BCE - The mysterious stones that originally drew the Greys to Atlantis spring to life! It turns out that the Host of Heaven was mega-pissed that the alien Greys were corrupting the children of God (man) with their technology and psychic powers and blasphemy and God finally decided that enough was enough. Angels armed with flaming swords and the wrath of the Almighty pour through the doorway that the Theran device opens and it takes the combined effort of the Kinori, Greys, and Atlantean-Egyptian empire to push back the invading Host. They manage to win, but barely, and both the Greys and the Kinori get all freaked out about the whole situation.

In response, they Greys decide not to slow-leak their technology and psionic powers to humanity any more and go into full-bore cultural assimilation mode. They start uplifting the Atlanteans at an ever faster rate, holding back none of their mastery of science or psionics. The Heavenly Host caught them off guard with their initial invasion and the Greys vow that they and their Atlantean allies won't be caught unawares again.

The Kinori also react, but without as much blind panic. See, the Kinori knew what the Theran device was, or at least what it could be, because all it really did was open a doorway between Earth and another dimension (in this case, the High Heavens). But since the Kinori had come to Earth via a dark matter doorway too, they at least knew how to permanently lock them shut - good ol' fashioned multi-ton stone blocks that interposed the focal point of each doorway. This ends up being the real reason for the construction of the pyramids all over Egypt - the Kinori tell their human constituents that they pyramids are monuments to dead pharoahs and etc. but what they're really doing is just piling thousands of tons of rock directly on top of all of the known doorways in Egypt. It's not a stylish science fiction solution with uncomfortable overtones of our own military industrial complex, but damnit, the problem is solved (temporarily, within Egypt). Egyptians carried on the symbolic act of building pyramids long after their practical, doorway blocking purpose ended, so not all pyramids lead to a sealed doorway.

The Kinori either don't explain this solution to the Greys, or more likely, the Greys have no interest in the "solutions" provided by backwater reptile sorcerers, and the Greys decide they've got to come up with their own super-science solution to the Theran doorway.


2,150 BCE - Disaster strikes! The Greys had built a massive telluric generator next to the Theran doorway (a power plant that draws power from the planet's magnetosphere); it's not clear if the device was meant to seal it, or to re-activate it, or intended for some other unknown purpose. Before construction could be completed, something activated the generator, and in its incomplete state the device engaged in a critical core meltdown. The resulting explosion was visible from space; it shattered Thera into 3 smaller islands and basically wiped Atlantean civilization off the map in the blink of an eye.

They Greys were more or less secure, as they primarily lived within the original city-ship that had brought them to Earth; however, the catastrophic failure of their first attempt at uplifting another sentient species sent shock waves through the Grey community. Some Greys thought that perhaps a group of Kinori sympathizers within Grey High Command had acted covertly to destroy the telluric generator because they feared the progress that it represented. Other believed that their human constituents in Atlantis had gotten too curious and too greedy for their own good and had ignored the Grey warnings about the device being incomplete and attempted to initiate it anyway, with apocalyptic consequences (because blaming the victim is always the easiest solution). Still other Greys believed that perhaps the Heavenly Host had managed to make covert contact with the Kinori and Atlanteans and had convinced them to destroy the device to prevent their doorway from closing, in exchange for some eternal reward in the High Heavens.

If a direct cause for the catastrophe was ever found, the Greys have never revealed it. To this day, the Greys consider the clandestine destruction of the Theran generator to be the first conspiracy on Earth. The destruction of Atlantis set back human civilization hundreds of years, and all of the extant Atlantean colonies on the other continents were forced to continue forging their own path through history, no longer able to take advantage of the knowledge or advanced technology of their Grey overlords. Indeed, without the necessary maintenance for the far future devices that allowed many of the colonies to exist, most of them eventually died out, the inhabitants forced to move on to new lands and start the arduous process of creating a civilization from scratch.

The human survivors of the Egyptian-Atlantean empire stuck out in blind fury. Although the Greys immediately began a self-imposed exile from Earth by boarding their massive city-ship and escaping to low Earth orbit, many of the Kinori that had originally befriended the Egyptians didn't believe that the human need for vengeance could be directed at them. They were dead wrong; in fear and frustration, the humans attacked the only remaining Strangers they could find. Overnight, the Kinori found themselves the victims of unmitigated human aggression, and they were forced to flee into the hidden, deep warrens they had dug as emergency bunkers for just such an occasion.

With the retreat of Strangers from the world stage, human history began the slow process of rebuilding. It would be millennia before human civilization had reached a point where they had recovered even one-tenth of the scientific and technical knowledge that was lost with the destruction of Atlantis.


NEXT TIME: The entirety of Native American civilization is created as a prank by particularly mischievous Greys.

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!


That's some amazing loving metaplot. REPTOID SORCERERS ALLY WITH ATLANTIS AND ALIEN GREYS TO BATTLE GOD'S ANGELS OVER THE FATE OF HUMANITY. Like that's some amazing poo poo that not even loving oMage could come up with.

Night10194 posted:

I think WHFRP2e is one of the only games I've ever played where the whole 'everyone uses exactly the same stat system, PC or NPC' thing actually works.

I think the fundamental point, for me, where it works or doesn't work, is simply: How much behind-the-scenes poo poo do I need to derive what matters to most NPC's(i.e. saves, combat stats and a couple of social/sensory check modifiers)?

In a game like WHFRP, the stats are basically what I'm rolling in most cases, so there's no real distance between them and derived values. AFMBE or Fading Suns, again, it's just stat+skill for most stuff, so "statting" out NPC's like PC's makes sense and isn't really an extra burden.

But when you get around to 3e D&D where the stats I care about in most situations are derived from a half dozen modifiers at best, it's easier to just skip to the final output because it's rare that anything that affects the NPC cares specifically about whether it's loving with, say, Strength, rather than the final BAB.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 02:53 on Oct 17, 2017

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also crafting out a character in d20 takes for loving ever, so trying to build, say, a high level NPC or monster from scratch takes a long time.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




PurpleXVI posted:

That's some amazing loving metaplot. REPTOID SORCERERS ALLY WITH ATLANTIS AND ALIEN GREYS TO BATTLE GOD'S ANGELS OVER THE FATE OF HUMANITY. Like that's some amazing poo poo that not even loving oMage could come up with.

in the sense that the Dark*Matter universe is supposed to be a place where any random National Enquirer headline about "OBAMA HAS A GAY MUSLIM SON WITH REPTILIAN CLONE OF HILARY CLINTON" is objectively true, they hit the ground running and never let off the gas.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



I am honestly jealous you're doing this, because even this small chunk really makes me want to sink my reviewing teeth into it and just rip it to shreds.

Also: my guess for "series" is Star Wars.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

unseenlibrarian posted:

And then there's the Ringworld RPG based on BRP, with characters with skill levels at 5000 percent .

What has a stat of 5,000?

unseenlibrarian posted:

At least for combat, a big thing is that skills over 100 percent increase your crit and special success rate. So if, say, you've got a 1000 percent skill, (which, yes, is ridiculous, but) you get a critical on 50 or less on a d100 (And basically if you hit at all it's a special success, which can have varying effects.)

In Runequest having a combat skill above 100 percent also let you split it and take multiple attacks or parries, as long as the end result for the multiple actions were 50 percent or more. So if you had 120 percent attack you could trade one 120 percent attack for 2 60 percent, or whatever.

For non-combat stuff, the benefit is mostly the critical/special success stuff, which made opposed checks for the other guy harder. For example, if you succeed at a stealth check and someone else succeeds on their check to find you, they'll spot you. If you get a special or critical success, they need to have a special or critical success to see you, so if your skill is so high that you always get a special success and the other guy's got a normal human success chance, well.

Just to add, anything in the thousands is even ridiculous relative to gods. In 7th edition CoC, Cthulhu has a Size of 1,000 and Azathoth has a Con of 1,500 for example and most of their other stats are in the hundreds.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

Just to add, anything in the thousands is even ridiculous relative to gods. In 7th edition CoC, Cthulhu has a Size of 1,000 and Azathoth has a Con of 1,500 for example and most of their other stats are in the hundreds.

I legitimately don't understand why they bothered to stat out any of the Gods in CoC, to this day.

Like, why even give them an HP total when one of the rules is 'Even if you somehow defeat this with a battleship cannon or something, the thing revives immediately.'

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

I legitimately don't understand why they bothered to stat out any of the Gods in CoC, to this day.

Like, why even give them an HP total when one of the rules is 'Even if you somehow defeat this with a battleship cannon or something, the thing revives immediately.'
A large part of the conceit of Lovecraft's horror was that the "gods" were just like the Visitors in Roadside PIcnic, ultimately. They were not "gods" in the way we usually use the term, and we only treat them as such due to our own limitations.

Maybe Yog-Sothoth and Nyarlathotep.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Nessus posted:

A large part of the conceit of Lovecraft's horror was that the "gods" were just like the Visitors in Roadside PIcnic, ultimately. They were not "gods" in the way we usually use the term, and we only treat them as such due to our own limitations.

Maybe Yog-Sothoth and Nyarlathotep.

That's sort of irrelevant to the fact that giving them 400 HP and a 100% attack is a waste of page space in an RPG when you could've just written 'Make a Dodge check or die, then run like hell.'

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


My guess for series is Buffy. I think it'S the right time period.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

That's sort of irrelevant to the fact that giving them 400 HP and a 100% attack is a waste of page space in an RPG when you could've just written 'Make a Dodge check or die, then run like hell.'
POST YOUR CHARACTER TWEET NERD

e for actual content: While Call of Cthulhu is definitely a legacy system in a lot of ways, given its chosen area of effect, many of the horrible entities you would encounter COULD be defeated with explosions, axes, ballista bolts and directed energy blasts, either temporarily or in a permanent way. This doesn't go against the fiction in like over ninety percent of the cases.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Really, all the combat blocks in CoC are just baffling when combat is never, ever expected to be used as a solution in the RPG itself, since combat takes significant investment to be any good at, PCs are always fragile, and most monster statblocks for combat are just a long series of 'lol nope'.

Which is funny, because in Lovecraft's writing you had poo poo like running gunfights with Mi-Go.

E: I think CoC is the only RPG I own that I have never, ever actually played or run, because none of my players have ever been interested in it. They'd be way more into it if it was more like the fiction it was based on rather than its own weird 'You die a lot, all the time really' milieu

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 03:52 on Oct 17, 2017

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

What has a stat of 5,000?


Just to add, anything in the thousands is even ridiculous relative to gods. In 7th edition CoC, Cthulhu has a Size of 1,000 and Azathoth has a Con of 1,500 for example and most of their other stats are in the hundreds.

It's been years since I read it so I don't remember specifics, but...

So one of the things with Ringworld is that it's pretty much standard BRP of its era, complete with 'get more percentages to spend on skills based on your years of previous experience.'

What it doesn't have in common with them is any sort of real aging penalties so you can have a starting character in his or her 200s. And after a certain point there's nothing to do but boost skills to ridiculous levels. Oh, and this dude can be inthe same group as someone in their twenties. Instead of Angel Summoner and BMX bandit it's omnicompetent great grandpa and the punk kid.

Not the only BRP game to have characters throw around stupid numbers though; Granny Keeneye in Griffin Mountain has a Pow of 5000.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Freaking Crumbum posted:

The hybrid Atlantean-Egyptian civilization flourishes like crazy and goes on to colonize the rest of Africa, North and South America, and even Antarctica (?) and everything is really great for everybody for a few thousand years.

Atlantis and/or aliens being in Antarctica is a thing in some circles, or lost civilizations in general - At the Mountains of Madness was set in Antarctica, and it plays on the continent being vast and mysterious (truth is, it's mostly boring rather than mysterious) and who knows what's buried under the snow? Add in the profound isolation of anything set in Antarctica and how hostile the environment is, and you've got a setting ripe for adventure, especially the spookier kind of adventure. The Thing is one particularly prominent and well-executed example of the appeal of Antarctica as a setting for paranormal stuff. The upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters movie features Ghidorah being found frozen in the Antarctic ice.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

Really, all the combat blocks in CoC are just baffling when combat is never, ever expected to be used as a solution in the RPG itself, since combat takes significant investment to be any good at, PCs are always fragile, and most monster statblocks for combat are just a long series of 'lol nope'.

Which is funny, because in Lovecraft's writing you had poo poo like running gunfights with Mi-Go.

E: I think CoC is the only RPG I own that I have never, ever actually played or run, because none of my players have ever been interested in it. They'd be way more into it if it was more like the fiction it was based on rather than its own weird 'You die a lot, all the time really' milieu
I've been in a bunch of sessions of it, to be fair never yet a campaign. The memetics are mostly bullshit. Fights are dangerous but in scenarios I have been in, there have usually been like, 0-1 fights. The book does not generally blast your mind. Maybe I just blundered into top tier play but the game itself has some of this advice in it, I think. A Call of Cthulhu game should in large part look like mostly-normal historical/modern roleplaying that creeps up on something from Elsewhere and addresses it somehow.

It is actually my favorite system to teach noobs because the central mechanic is incredibly simple.

Valatar
Sep 26, 2011

A remarkable example of a pathetic species.


Lipstick Apathy

Alien Rope Burn posted:

(Which is probably the real reason why fighting classes tend to suck, not because people are trying to sabotage them, but because the fighter was bad from the outset and people just treat that as the example to work from. It's also why people freak out when you deviate from that.)

D20 warriors suck because there was never a very good way to balance limitless melee attacks against limited spell slots in a way that isn't instantly broken by the 30-minute adventuring day. Arcana Evolved attempted it by a flat upgrade on melee damage and introducing combat rituals to give melee people their own limited combat boosts to handle, which was a certain improvement over 3.5 melee but still didn't quite bridge the gap. 4E did bridge the gap, by filing the serial numbers off of magic and giving it to everyone. Now your fighter can run in and swordchuck five people for 4d12 damage and scatter them around the map, so when it comes to raw numbers everyone is more or less on equal footing. Of course, the people who loved their metamagicked up 3.5 wizards promptly poo poo themselves about the loss of caster supremacy and the pushback buried 4E well before its time.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


D20 Fighters also suck because damage is the absolute least efficient way to defeat an enemy within the system.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy

The "pop culture" impression of Call of Cthulhu is that it's this super-lethal game where lives are a dime-a-dozen and you might as well run from everything because el-oh-el the GM will eat one investigator per turn, but it's definitely possible to run a "pulpy" game of it (across all/most editions) without changing too much, especially if you make it more about the cultists rather than the monsters themselves.

Yeah, sure, it's impossible to kill Azathoth, but you shouldn't be encountering Azathoth in the first place unless you failed to stop a bunch of rituals being performed by folks are really quite vulnerable to machine-gun fire.

And between Azathoth and a plain old crazy human, a Byakhee still "only" has about 14 HP and 33% dodge.

gradenko_2000 fucked around with this message at 04:14 on Oct 17, 2017

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I always thought the thing that tended to make even encountering a monster a coinflip was the Sanity system, but having never used it in motion, I might be misunderstanding quite how often people suffer Temporary Insanity.

E: Like, my experience with it is mostly limited to seeing the sample adventures in the book, but stuff like the crazy monster that lives in the haunted house because some dumbass university students summoned it ages ago? It has a ton of Sanity checks in rapid succession and the book even calls that the main threat there, since it's very likely you accrue enough in a short time to go mad. It just looked like rolling the dice to see how hosed you are until you maybe win.

If it plays much different in practice, that would explain a lot about the game's longevity.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 04:22 on Oct 17, 2017

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy

I had a response typed up about how it does work differently in practice, but you mentioned published adventures, and that sounds like a fun rabbit hole to jump into. I'll see if I can do a read through of something like the CoC 7th Ed quickstart

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

I always thought the thing that tended to make even encountering a monster a coinflip was the Sanity system, but having never used it in motion, I might be misunderstanding quite how often people suffer Temporary Insanity.

E: Like, my experience with it is mostly limited to seeing the sample adventures in the book, but stuff like the crazy monster that lives in the haunted house because some dumbass university students summoned it ages ago? It has a ton of Sanity checks in rapid succession and the book even calls that the main threat there, since it's very likely you accrue enough in a short time to go mad. It just looked like rolling the dice to see how hosed you are until you maybe win.

If it plays much different in practice, that would explain a lot about the game's longevity.
Well back then they didn't have anything better. I can say that when I've run tournament modules, people start running into the general neighborhood of possible temporary insanity towards the end of a four hour session.

The thing is that you make a check against your sanity, and if you pass, you take way less Mental Hit Point Damage. Sometimes none, or like, 1 point vs. 1D6+1. You also will eventually cap out - like the absolute most Sanity you can lose from encountering an entire convention stadium full of Deep Ones is 6 points. Which is enough to potentially drive you around the bend, obviously, but you probably wouldn't spaz out and eat your gun.

Generally any sort of monster encounter is going to be the climax or near to it. This isn't REQUIRED, obviously.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


gradenko_2000 posted:

I had a response typed up about how it does work differently in practice, but you mentioned published adventures, and that sounds like a fun rabbit hole to jump into. I'll see if I can do a read through of something like the CoC 7th Ed quickstart

It's why the piss poor adventures in the WHFRP books are such a drag to me, because when someone just has your book (in my experience anyway) new GMs will often look to the sample adventures as a basic example of play. Dead Man Stomp looked pretty legit (prohibition adventures with the mafia and a black jazz musician with a ruined life and a magic trumpet that raises the dead), as did The Haunting (Evil poo poo in a house and lots of hints about how to deal with it), but the other two are 'Encounter 10 mi-go with rayguns, shrug, you'll figure something out, also 15% chance everyone dies every day you spend doing this adventure' and the aforementioned sanity fun time rapid assault.

I'm not actually sure what edition I have. I bought it back in high school, so it's like 15-16 years old.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Yeah, Dead Man Stomp was powerfully legit as a sample adventure.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Freaking Crumbum posted:

NEXT TIME: The entirety of Native American civilization is created as a prank by particularly mischievous Greys.

Stupid Aztecs. Stupid Native Americans.

Years later...

Soulless Native Americans. 'Beaners'.

I'm not for a second going to accuse Cook of bigotry, but the repetition of these themes is seriously creepy.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




MonsieurChoc posted:

My guess for series is Buffy. I think it'S the right time period.

Agreed, this was my first thought too.

gradenko_2000 posted:

The "pop culture" impression of Call of Cthulhu is that it's this super-lethal game where lives are a dime-a-dozen and you might as well run from everything because el-oh-el the GM will eat one investigator per turn, but it's definitely possible to run a "pulpy" game of it (across all/most editions) without changing too much, especially if you make it more about the cultists rather than the monsters themselves.

Yeah, sure, it's impossible to kill Azathoth, but you shouldn't be encountering Azathoth in the first place unless you failed to stop a bunch of rituals being performed by folks are really quite vulnerable to machine-gun fire.

And between Azathoth and a plain old crazy human, a Byakhee still "only" has about 14 HP and 33% dodge.

This is how I think it should be run too, and Chaosium doesn't disagree. Quiver and wail as the cult and its monstrous allies chase you through the abandoned whatever, then come back one week later on ritual night with milsurp MGs and a bunch of stolen dynamite and settle the score. Less "Oh the incomprehensible and blasphemous non-whiteness" and more Old Man Hendersons, basically.

Also, while I agree they're artifacts of 1980's RPG conventions, I'll speak up in defense of giving cosmic horrors statblocks. I like the idea of being able to kill a Great Old One, even if it takes an armored division's worth of firepower. I was never a fan of the fatalistic tone Call of Cthulhu leans into by default- yeah, Yog-Sothoth and Nyarlathotep are gods and you might as well try to turn back the tide with a machine gun, but Cthulhu got hosed up enough by a little ship propeller he had to retreat.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



unseenlibrarian posted:

It's been years since I read it so I don't remember specifics, but...

So one of the things with Ringworld is that it's pretty much standard BRP of its era, complete with 'get more percentages to spend on skills based on your years of previous experience.'

What it doesn't have in common with them is any sort of real aging penalties so you can have a starting character in his or her 200s. And after a certain point there's nothing to do but boost skills to ridiculous levels. Oh, and this dude can be inthe same group as someone in their twenties. Instead of Angel Summoner and BMX bandit it's omnicompetent great grandpa and the punk kid.

Not the only BRP game to have characters throw around stupid numbers though; Granny Keeneye in Griffin Mountain has a Pow of 5000.

Ringworld did have a kind of interesting system with what they called "root" and "branch" skills. You'd have a "root" skill like Physics that would be capped at somewhere around 30-50% depending on your stats, and then you'd put extra points into "branches" like Particle Physics, Astrophysics, High-Energy Physics, etc. It was pretty innovative back in the day for a system that wanted to be about exploration, experimentation, and science instead of combat. But as with many finely grained skill systems, you would frequently run up against the problem of "Okay, I have Theoretical Physics 200% -- now what can I actually DO with it in the game?"

eschaton
Mar 7, 2007

Don't you just hate when you wind up in a store with people who are in a socioeconomic class that is pretty obviously about two levels lower than your own?


unseenlibrarian posted:

What it doesn't have in common with them is any sort of real aging penalties so you can have a starting character in his or her 200s. And after a certain point there's nothing to do but boost skills to ridiculous levels. Oh, and this dude can be inthe same group as someone in their twenties. Instead of Angel Summoner and BMX bandit it's omnicompetent great grandpa and the punk kid.

So you’re saying it’s true to its source material.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





eschaton posted:

So you’re saying it’s true to its source material.
Louis Wu was balanced out by being extremely depressed, while Speaker was of course going to dominate most combat encounters that didn't resort to variable swords or similar. Teela, well, let's not talk about Teela right now.

Actually let's talk about Teela. Teela is the product of a program attempting to create lucky humans on the theory that human history was marked by collective good luck to the point where some parties got suspicious about probability manipulation. Evidently it succeeded, which is part of why Larry Niven stopped writing in Known Space: when the narrative conventions become explicit, it becomes harder to create genuinely challenging plots.

Mechanically speaking I suppose you would reflect this by giving her an unlimited supply of Fate points or whatever, if with some caps on their use, since she was specifically portrayed as "lucky," not as Gladstone Gander.

Nessus fucked around with this message at 05:05 on Oct 17, 2017

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Alien Rope Burn posted:

The modern presumption that fighters are crap is not something that entered my mind at the time. It is orthogonal to how classic d20 design was done. Generally speaking, it wasn't considered. Granted, some folks caught on - BESM d20 correctly points out that spellcasters are overpowered (and then goes on to make its own flavor of design mistakes), and there's books like By the Numbers that posited Clerics, Druids, and Bards as the most powerful classes. Close, but not quite. But those weren't really part of the mainstream of d20 design.

You may as well ask why an Italian of the 17th century wasn't eating pizza every day. "All the ingredients are around you!", you cry to some hapless peasant, and they look you in the eye, and say, "Eat tomatoes? Nobody eats tomatoes! Are you mad?!"

I get what you're saying, it's just that I don't really have a problem with powerful PCs. Wizards should warp the fabric of reality with their words of power, Clerics should dispense miracles to the crowds they walk through with a touch, angry Fighters should crack the earth with their step and cut down swathes of lesser men. I just have a problem with some of them being able to do it, and not others.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








On the topic of "intended" play vs. what the rules actually encourage in Pathfinder, or more generally in D&D and its clones, I've taken to calling that whole business of dungeon crawling and risk/rewards-adventuring as "playing fantasy actuaries". After all, Gygax himself used to work as an insurance underwriter before cofounding TSR. So why then haven't we seen any games in which the group plays as literal fantasy actuaries?

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Night10194 posted:

It's why the piss poor adventures in the WHFRP books are such a drag to me,

Do you have a sense of which of them are worthwhile? I have a group that's considered playing for that Old World charm, especially Brets, and I'd love to know if the Bret quickstart or the Duchy of the Damned adventures are worth poking at.
Or that collection of short adventures. (I got the humble bundle, so I have all the books from 2e).

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





ADVENTURES AND DANGERS

What fun shall be had within KidWorld? Well as y’all have astutely pointed out, not much! This game is what most people think of when they hear the words “sandbox RPG” and boy howdy they’re not wrong. In fact, there’s a whole section dedicated to Adventureless Mode, aka “I’unno, just do whatever, mommy’s busy”. “The major disadvantage to this mode of play is that players will be tempted to strike off on their own quests and leave other players with nothing to do.” is what the game says about Adventureless Mode. And, like. Yeah. “Go off and pursue personal goals oh gently caress you’ve split the party oh crap oh dang.” Let’s ignore Adventureless Mode though. What does the game think adventures should be about then?

Exploration

Find food and supplies and weapons in pristine locations, explore unfamiliar places, hit the road with your friends and go as fast as your small legs can carry you. Exploration is all about roving the USA with your crew and seeing what you encounter along the way, or as the game calls it “A TV-Style Campaign” in the vein of Kung Fu or Star Trek. It’s a character-driven sort of game where it’s in your best interests to ignore impending human extinction. Dangers are mostly traps, other people, nature…pretty much everything.

Rebuilding Society

This is kind of a “no poo poo” one. There are some sub-goals listed to this which make sense: defense, law enforcement, medicine/sanitation, technology, education, government, agriculture and trade. The campaign is all about doing your best to re-establish some or all to bring back the old world as best as you can. Again, noble effort, kind of doomed.

Searching for Utopia

In this case, you’re hitting the road to try and find a place where kids and adults exist in cooperative harmony. The game wants these to be super rare but frankly I would have to imagine it’s probably a bit more common than that. Not to say that they’re everywhere, it just can’t be all doom, gloom and child-sized leather fetish raider harnesses. Obstacles along the way are mostly encountering false or evil utopias or starting your own or having to defend one you started.

Searching for Lost Family

A good hook that isn’t as easy to accomplish as it sounds. Family is broken down into parents, siblings or children and it’s not just that you’re finding them. You’re making sure they’re safe and not enslaved or injured or in a cult or have stooped to depravity to survive.

Searching for the Cure

I mean good loving luck? All the info about the Plague originated from this area but I put it in earlier. There are some examples of hypothetical cures that the PCs could work towards, however.
  • Sight Chemicals: This is a multifaceted idea but it starts with properly identifying Eye Bleach in the eye. With that knowledge, it could be replicated in labs and mass produced, it could be found in animals and they could be bred for harvesting Eye Bleach or unaffected retinas from animals who can’t catch the prion. All of these are pretty drat hard for kids to do, though.
  • Halting the Prion: Scientists were actually working on a way to stop the prion from replicating before everyone ended up going blind. The actions of 5:5 haven’t helped in this regard at all. The computers need a lot of power to run properly and this scenario would also need knowledge of biochem/physics/programming, a supercomputer, specialty software and a tissue sample of someone who never caught the Plague. Again, you are children (or blind adults).
  • Artificial Sight: An alternate option for sight is that some scientists were working on small retinal cameras that would connect to the brain and work like proper eyes. The game admits it’s not feasible for every adult in the world to be equipped with ocular cameras but you could at least implant them in scientists to have them work on curing the prion. Out of all the other options this is the most likely to succeed to a certain degree; the cameras have already been made and some of the prototypes are functional. It still involves children performing eye surgery.
  • Treating Infertility: While important, this definitely takes a backseat to fixing the blindness problem. This would mostly involve trekking across America to find people who’ve had kids since the Plague and figuring out if they had anything in common.
And, assuming this succeeds and a cure or remedy is found, this leaves the PCs with having to figure out a way to make children and adults take medicine. Untested medicine. Well, less tested medicine.

DANGERS

Here are a bunch of common dangers to be found divided into three sections: danger from kids, from adults, from non-humans.

From the Childrens
  • Mean Kids: some kids are just assholes and will do stuff along the lines of hurting other kids, bullying them or trying to control their actions. There’s not really any advice for dealing with them besides “use your head and avoid if possible”.
  • Crazy Kids: crazy kids are basically hanging on a thread of 1 ADJ or so, too emotionally volatile to control their anger and preferring to immerse themselves in escapist activities. If “pushed” (and pushing can really come from a variety of stimuli, intentional or unintentional) they tend to fly into violent rages where they’ll attack themselves or others with no disregard for safety. It generally takes realizing that they’re severely hurting someone to snap them out of it, or the presence of something that scares them, or simply running away until they exhaust themselves.
  • Prejudiced Kids: your garden variety sexists, homophobes, racists or religiously intolerant. The upside of prejudice (I use upside loosely, mind) is that they need to be in sufficiently large number to act violently or they’ll just bluster with no delivery. The problem, of course, is that when they have enough numbers…they will commit and act in such a way to put the onus of responsibility on the group but not themselves.
  • Despotic Kids: sometimes communities elect tyrants or tyrants force themselves onto groups. They rule through fear and crave loyalty, doling out harsh punishments regardless of consequence because they’re kids and they don’t think poo poo through. And because they’re kids, their reigns of terror don’t last particularly long because the loyalty of other kids is capricious at best. Worst case scenario, you have a child-sized coup d’état.
  • Popular Kids: popular kids hurt others to make themselves look good in the eyes of their peers and peer pressure is a hell of a drug. Sometimes this takes the form of groups of tough kids whose toxic senses of masculinity pushes them to prey on the weak and constantly prove their worth as boys. Either way, the intent isn’t necessarily to kill, just bully…but hey, child mortality is on the rise and even cuts can become deadly with infections.
  • Warring Kids: these children are fighting for some cause or fighting some other group of kids. Who knows? Your big concern is keeping yourself from becoming a target through accidental crossfire or breaking some taboo they don’t explain to outsiders.
  • Groupthink Kids: Groupthink kids fall under parameters a bit outside of prejudices, bullying for popularity or continuing wars. It generally involves a mass delusion caused by peer pressure and adoption of a dangerous idea like kids deciding to take ‘an eye for an eye’ seriously. Occasionally this takes the form of kids playing a game and enforcing the rules of the game to an extreme degree, like if truth or dare was a valid and binding social contract. Or it’s just prejudice taken to an extreme degree.
  • Bandit/Slaver Kids: There's a pretty fine overlap between being a bandit and being a slaver when one considers how many slavers turn to theft to survive between sales. Both groups are around 4-6 kids working together to either trick other kids or run down and capture an adult. Bandits will generally prefer to just steal things rather than invite open confrontation they might not be able to survive. Also slavers in general just tend to be incredibly amoral about who they sell to, selling kids to adults or adults to kids with no regard for loyalty to either group. Kids who tend to sell other kids to adults often find themselves in the position of getting rare items out of it the adults can't use anymore that will help them with their jobs, items like tasers or chloroform.
  • Foreign Armies: America and Canada utterly failed at making child soldiers. Correction: loyal child soldiers. Others didn't. There are rumors that some other nations might have armies of child soldiers on their way to make landfall in America and create colonies to stage a proper invasion. Why? Well a lot of countries blame America for the plague because it started in Denver and because America lost its poo poo during the initial Plague. So any day now ships will be washing up on shore and armies of child soldiers lead by blind commanders will take beaches, make colonies, loot and plunder and enslave Americans. Yep. Any day now. It's been four years but any day now.
  • Section 6: Section 6 is an actual military threat. Originally Section 6 was part of a government program where soldiers and scientists cut up kids and adults alike to study the prion. Section 6 was a sub-project dedicated to exposing child soldiers to drugs that dramatically heightened their ability to receive sensory information. The main side effect was hallucinations and paranoia...which didn't go away when the scientists stopped administering the drugs. Actually their heightened senses didn't diminish either. The project was scrapped and the kids were either supposed to be mothballed in asylums or euthanized, but every single test subject managed to overpower their captors and escape into the wild, their paranoia too strong to let them work together. The Sixers are now hermits and half-blind teenagers living alone on the razor's edge of sanity, too deadly to approach and too irrational to talk to.

From The Adults
  • The Military: Despite the overwhelming failures of conscription, the military didn't really fall apart or go away. Unable to successfully bring their foreign postings home due to riots blaming America, the presence of the military is that of a well-equipped skeleton army desperately keeping itself together. Some, like Harkness, ended up going full raider. Others ended up becoming cults or became militarized eye-eaters. The rest are still loyal to the USA and the chain of command, resorting to atrocities to get food and water and ammo because they’re doing what they must out of loyalty to their country. If a line is drawn at all, it’s set by the unit’s commander.
  • Slavers: Adult slavers have to take different tactics than kids. Most groups are mobile and nomadic, staying on the move to make sure kids don’t follow or get wise to their common tricks. The more active slavers infiltrate areas at night, learn them and then attack kids while sleeping. More passive slavers will set net traps as best as they can in areas they know kids will pass through. Others will have a Mouth play nice and use their charm to shave kids off the group and pick them off one by one or lure them all into a trap. And then you have the eye-eaters, who will just fuckin’ do whatever because they can see and turn most of their kids over to buyers missing one eye.
  • Crazies: a “crazy” is a mentally ill or developmentally disabled adult who has managed to survive the Plague and is roaming the earth. Some homes and institutions shut down and the patients ended up on the streets, some of them got kicked out of communities because they didn’t have the resources and a large amount of them have issues exacerbated by the blindness. Or their illness wholly stems from all the traumas of the post-Plague years. Point is that they survived and kids don’t really know how to handle an adult with a rage disorder or a self-harm disorder or an adult with unmedicated depression or auditory hallucinations. The game says that the ones who survive in the wild are have moments of lucidity and the danger stems from them suddenly becoming irrational to the kids who find them. The fact that people with untreated mental illnesses would be doing their best to get by in an apocalypse is realistic. This is still pretty goddamn lovely and it has a lot of different examples of behaviors they would display.
  • Eye-Eaters: yeah I think we’ve said enough about them. This is pretty much where all the info about Haddock and eye-eating mechanics came from.

Neither Childrens Nor Adultens
  • Wild Animals: this section has stats on gators, crocodiles, bears, mountain lions, multiple breeds of poisonous snakes, rats, cats, feral dogs, wolves, bees, wasps, scorpions, black widow spiders and fire ants. Hey, there’s an idea for a KidWorld campaign: Space Ghost Coast to Coast Babies.
  • Diseases: how to die from bacterial meningitis, cat scratch fever, chicken pox, the flu, measles, rabies, tetanus, tuberculosis and whooping cough.
  • Traps: how to construct and stumble into pit traps, spring-loaded projectile traps, explosive traps, gravity-based traps (thing what falls on you), spring-based traps (bear traps, getting hit in the face with a tree branch, snare traps), one-way passages, living traps (a pit full of snakes) and sharp hazards which are just pointy things laid out for someone to hurt themselves on.


There's not a lot of worthwhile art to share in this section and I'm not sharing statblocks for any of these so here's a sidebar I feel is worth sharing.

SAMPLE ADVENTURES

Hey so children are awful and cruel and the game would super like y’all to know that. I dunno if you picked up on that? It might be too subtle. Anyway, here’s two adventures.

Little Boy Blue

The gist of this adventure is that this acts as an introduction to the world for the PCs, that this can act as a first session adventure. Walking down the road at night they're greeted by a Horse Rider who warns them of there being an eye-eater in the area and that it's smart to make their way to the nearby town. That town is Swidden, a town that actually has power because its ruler has managed to get a generator up and running. There are more specifics but let's keep it fast and loose and breezy: Swidden is suspiciously technologically advanced for a town that kid-only with nary an adult in sight.

Swidden is lead by Sam Dyson who I guess is the titular little boy blue? He's said to wear a brown leather jacket and blue jeans. I have no idea why this is called Little Boy Blue. I know it's a loving nursery rhyme but Christ sake pick a proper drat rhyme that fits the point of the mission. Anyway. Sam is a tyrant under the guise of a benevolent and good-natured whiz kid. He has a monopoly on all of the medicine and technology, possessing a working truck and a shotgun (that he keeps hidden). He has a working movie projector that was salvaged from a cinema, the town is powered by a surprisingly robust makeshift furnace, a functioning chainsaw and knowledge of how to make wine from fruit. The ultimate plan of his is to get a fence made, rope some cows and start raising cattle. Sam's rule is good natured on the surface and kids are happy to brag about the technology and accomplishments. The true nature is that he extorts the kids to get work done for him and basically profits all free labor with a smile. Trying to leave results in a perpetual debt that needs to be paid: a day's work to pay off staying there the night before. Defaulting on the debt leads to bad things happening and running away leads to worse things happening.

See before the Plague Sam's dad divorced his mom and got custody of Sam. And Sam's dad...well, he favored his new wife's kids so much that Sam started to act up under his roof. Sam was sent to juvie around the time the Plague started due to the fact that acting up became committing crimes. When faced with a court order to either taking him back or sending him to a group home due to the Plague, Sam's dad sent him to the group home. So when Sam escaped from the home during the Plague and found out that his dad was going blind...he decided to enslave his dad and keep him as a source of knowledge. And then Sam found out that eye eating restores sight to adults.

So. There is no eye-eater. Not in the common sense of things. Defaulting on the debt or speaking out against Sam leads to basic punishment: imprisonment, beatings, etc. People who attempt to leave Swidden are hunted down by Sam, killed and have their eyes fed to his father so he can be used to work on projects for Sam. Sam's gotten so reliant on this that once a week he'll leave in the dead of night to go hunting for eyes. The crux of the mission is to find out this horrible secret and then figure out exactly how to do this, probably by breaking into Sam's house when he's out or asleep.

This is not as easy as it sounds because Sam is a paranoid little bastard who has stockpiled all of the good books from the library and a lot of other goods.
  • There are three entryways via doors. The front door is locked and boarded up completely and is unusable.
  • The garage door can be entered...but you have to lift it and it makes a shitload of noise.
  • In the backyard is a sliding glass door with a padlock chain and bags in between the doors. Breaking the glass results in the bags puncturing and mixing the contents: ammonia and bleach. Save vs. homemade chlorine gas, kids. That being said this is the safest but least subtle way in because just, like, break the loving glass from a distance and wait for it to diffuse in the open air.
  • The only accessible window on the 1st floor is a bathroom window that requires some elbow grease to open and will only fit a kid who weighs less than 75 pounds. Behind the bathroom door (which opens inwards) is a giant hunk of scrap metal attached to a cord that swings through the doorway when it's 75% open. It hurts like hell and it's hard to dodge.
  • The second floor is accessible by a drainpipe that can only hold up to 80 pounds, but the windows are unlocked. There are three windows accessible through a variety of climbing options (including the drainpipe) but two of them have the same result: they're trapped. Inside the rooms beneath the windows are bed frames that have sheets stretched over them and the mattress removed to provide the illusion of a solid bed. Beneath the bare sheets are sharpened sticks that will impale anyone who lands on them and doesn't succeed on Awareness. These hurt substantially and in general just have a huge risk of penetrating your foot through your shoes and hobbling you. You do not want to fall fully on them.
  • There's one last trap on the way to the basement where Sam's dad is being held. Three of the steps on the stairs have been sanded smooth and greased, creating a slippery and uneven patch designed to make people fall. If you fall down the stairs, there's a few rows of nails that have been glued to the foot of the stairs, point-up. The damage is not enough to kill you but it's...super, super not something you want to experience. The best way to avoid this trap is to just go incredibly slowly and carefully down the stairs.
Sam's dad is chained up in the basement and his statblock is where we find out his side of the story. Phillip Dyson married out of engineering college and didn't realize that his new wife was a bit emotionally unstable ("women, am I right?" says KidWorld). She demanded that he move to Swidden (despite it being a huge commute to work) and give her a baby ("women, am I right?" says KidWorld, elbowing me in the chest). Then the relationship became more distant, she cheated on him with a younger man, demanded a divorce from him and then dumped Sam on Phillip ("WOMEN AM I RIGHT" yells KidWorld as my chest begins to bruise from the elbow). Ultimately the reason why Phillip paid more attention to his new wife's kids was because he was afraid of losing her too, but then Sam started criming and Phillip started to feel disgusted by the affect Sam had on his life and reputation and, well, now he's chained up in a basement. Phillip has sores on his ankle from his restraining chain, an awful smell to him and a wheezing rasp caused by the prion ravaging his lungs. When Sam found him, he was half dead. Now he's too despondent to kill himself or escape, considering this a just punishment for abandoning his son and wanting to atone by helping Sam help kids. Telling Phillip the truth about where Sam gets the eyes (Phillip knows the gist of what Sam's doing but guiltily avoids thinking about it) will lead to Phillip begging for death.

So how this resolves depends on how the PCs feel like approaching it. It's completely possible that the PCs never go into the basement like RL Stine commanded and they just try to leave whereupon Sam will try to hunt them down, overpower them with tech and take their eyes. If they kill Sam or just succeed in fleeing, this will result in retaliation by an angry mob of children. Killing Phillip is valid and will rob Sam of his greatest resource and lead to the collapse of Swidden. The best outcome involves dragging Phillip out of the basement and showing off the depths of Sam's crimes, where he'll end up realizing that the other kids don't love him but instead love his security and tech. There are three states of resolution to this outcome: the kids of Swidden riot and kill Sam, the kids of Swidden run Sam out of town, the PCs convince Sam and the kids to embrace Phillip as an equal and it no longer remains a tyranny but has a shot at becoming a utopia.

This is an alright mission but the traps are all bullshit and there's a bit too much of a feeling of Sam being an overpowered enemy with his advantages of a shotgun and other stuff. I dunno. It could use some toning down for an introductory mission but like all things considered it's decent. On a scale of 0-5, this adventure is a C.

Anyway here's more kids being poo poo.

How it Feels to be Invisible

Mmkay this one has more meat to the backstory than the previous.

Killian is a farming town with the basic staples of a small town. When all of the adults died, that left 28 kids because the military never made it to Killian. They have a general lacking of skills and mostly just hang out, scavenge, trade with people who pass through and deal with having many minor injuries going untreated. The problem with Killian is that it's a town run by an ideology and the ideology is pretty simple: the popular kids can't see the unpopular kids. It started off with a class divide of Popular and Unpopular and then a popular kid decided to ignore an unpopular kid to the extent of being like "I physically cannot see nor comprehend who you are talking about". This caught on with the other popular kids. And when you consider that the book defines the popular kids as, and I quote, "pretty, smart, charming and white" and the unpopular kids as everyone else...

Also for the sake of brevity I'm calling them Pops and Unpops.

So the Pops who acknowledged their Unpop friends or siblings ended up becoming Unpops themselves. Then the Pops started to hoard all the best resources because "no it's just us, we've never heard of a kid called So And So". When absolutely every attempt to make them get noticed, the Unpops started to steal from the Pops, which lead to the Pops putting everything under heavy lock and key and never letting their keys out of their sight. With this, the Unpops decided to just attack the Pops...which lead to the Pops deciding that it'd be a great idea to just swing a weapon around wherever they walked when they were outside of the safety of their barricaded homes. When I say weapons, I mean things like machetes, lengths of chain, cinderblocks on the end of a rope, etc. Nobody has died yet, amazingly. The Unpops have resorted to kidnapping and torturing or threatening the Pops into seeing them, leading to a current state of 10 Pops and 18 Unpops.

Which leads us to Alice Marie, the girl stuck in the flooding drainage canal, who the PCs will see on the way to Killian.

Alice Marie was locked in the canal by the Unpops who used a lock stolen from the Unpops. To better put the situation into perspective, there's a tunnel beneath the road into Killian with two sets of bars, one on each side of the tunnel. She's been locked in the tunnel on the side that opens after the Unpops threw rocks at her, ran her down, tied her up and put her in the tunnel. When she agreed to acknowledge them, the Unpops found out they didn't have a code to the lock because it was a stolen lock. And it's not helping Alice's panicked state of mind that rain is coming and there's two inches of water in the bottom of the canal already. Plus, the Pops know that Alice Marie is now an Unpop and most of them in fact don't even know she's in the tunnel...not even her sister Megan.

Ultimately through tracing the lock back through talking to the Unpops, the PCs will learn whose lock it was. They will also find that the Pops are ignoring them too because, well, the PCs are now Unpops. There are a few different solutions to this the game puts forth:
  • Break the lock: not easy due to the lock's quality. It's also not easy to pick the lock. Your best shot to break the lock would involve raiding the Pops' supplies for good quality hardware and tools.
  • Convince the Pops to stop the game and save Alice Marie: also not easy. The weakest link is Alice Marie's sister Megan who will probably pretty easily stop playing to save her sister. The problem is it's not Megan's lock. This would require the PCs to flip Megan into an agent without alerting the Pops so Megan could get the code from Cindy. Failure means that now Megan is an Unpop and is being ignored by the others.
  • Use violence: either sufficiently threaten or sufficiently overpower the Pops into losing the game so it'll be over. Again, not easy. The Pops have the best quality weapons and also tend to be bigger and older than the Unpops and in better shape. There's less of them but more of a challenge.
  • Trickery: what, no, we never talked to anyone by that name. Probably the easiest on paper to do and the fastest but, again, no plan survives contact with the enemy and with rolled dice.
Making things even further complicated is the fact that the GM is encouraged to keep track of how much water is in the canal and how hard it'd be to access the lock. Saving Alice is a timed mission: you have two hours to get the code unless you somehow gave her something to let her breathe underwater.

I don't like this mission. It just rubs me the wrong way, I can't accurately articulate why. I think it fundamentally comes down to the fact that this straddles the line between both halves of realism. I mean it perfectly straddles it to the point that it becomes uncomfortable.

But yeah. Those are two of the three sample adventures. Oh, did I say out of three? Well hold onto your butts because NEXT TIME I'm gonna finish the game with the last update that contains the other two alternate settings and scenarios, KIDNIGHT and KIDSURREAL. I will be ignoring the LARPing rules because they take up almost 20 pages of rules and mechanics and KidNight itself is 32 pages long and gently caress putting in more effort.

Anyway KidNight sure is more of this and KidSurreal...I actually like because it's a good kind of weird.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011



I like the idea of a game where the goal is to find a solution to a plague while things have gone to poo poo and anarchy rules, and the means to do so is kind of awful (even (especially) if it's something other than eating eyes).

...But without kids, or this focus on slavery, or improbable grimdark*, or anything else about this game.


*KidWorld wants to convince me that society as a whole will take less than four years to degenerate almost entirely into a man-eat-kid-eyes world, where the concept of mutually beneficial cooperation barely exists and both kids and adults collectively leap to slavery as a solution, and I'm not buying it.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy

Night10194 posted:

I always thought the thing that tended to make even encountering a monster a coinflip was the Sanity system, but having never used it in motion, I might be misunderstanding quite how often people suffer Temporary Insanity.

I'm speaking specifically for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, and in that game, if you lose 5 or more SAN in one SAN check, you're in danger of suffering a temporary insanity. You make an INT roll, and if you pass the roll, you become temporarily insane.

The temporary insanity has a number of knock-on effects, but for the purposes of this point about it influencing combat, it's supposed to last for 1d10 combat rounds.

As for how often it happens, here's a run-down of recommended SAN check costs:

pre:
0/1D2        Surprised to find mangled animal carcass.
0/1D3        Surprised to find a corpse or body part.
0/1D4        See a stream flow with blood.
1/1D4+1      Find a horrifically mangled human corpse.
0/1D6        Awake trapped in a coffin.
0/1D6        Witness a friend’s violent death.
0/1D6        See a ghoul.
1/1D6+1      Meet someone you know to be dead.
0/1D10       Undergo severe torture.
1/1D10       See a corpse rise from its grave.
2/2D10+1     See gigantic severed head fall from sky.
1D10/1D100   See Great Cthulhu.
So you're never going to go temporarily insane from passed SAN checks until you're literally seeing Cthulhu in the flesh, and in most cases you can still roll low enough on the SAN loss to avoid the temporary insanity.

[I checked, and CoC 6th Ed, which dates back to 2003/2004, still works largely the same way, except the temporary insanity is for 1d10+4 rounds.]

The other insanity that's in play is the "Indefinite Insanity". This happens if a character loses one-fifth (20%) of their SAN in one "game day", and only goes away if the character is in a safe place and lets the rest of the day pass.

[In CoC 6th Ed, it's triggered by losing one-fifth of SAN within one game hour, and it lasts for 1d6 game months.]

This is the more punitive one since it takes you out for what may well be the entire session, and an adventure that throws a lot of SAN checks at the players can "chip away" at SAN points over time. SAN can be as low as 40 for a new character, which puts your Indefinite Insanity threshold at a mere 8 SAN.

Depending on how often the GM/the adventure throws checks at the players, it'd be possible to lose 8 SAN through a combination of passed checks that still cost 1 SAN, plus failed checks that roll low on the SAN loss.

Having said that, the other thing to keep in mind when it comes to SAN is that characters are not supposed to take SAN checks for the same thing over and over - you might take a SAN check for reading an Eldritch tome, and for seeing a ritually-mutilated body, but reading the book a second time, or seeing a second such body might not require a check, or at least a milder SAN loss the second time around.

I hope I'm not sounding too much like some kind of defensive CoC stan, but I wanted to put my remarks in context.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The Kinori are adorable and cool. Pity the Greys seem to be handled way, way less well.

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





God Forbid ya like a thing.

I think the mind-blasting tomes poo poo is also dumb and derivative. Most of those things are just old dusty books. If you read the original Necronomicon, you wouldn't be able to get poo poo out of it because it's in classical Arabic. (Though you might see an illustration. That might be rough.) The SAN loss applies if you study it and try to comprehend it.

There are also ways to regain SAN points, largely through various forms of therapy or treatment. Reading out of the 7th ed rules: Private care gives you a 95%(!) chance of regaining D3 SAN per month, as well as curing any specific maladies that you may have gained (gibbering and so on). Institutionalization gives you a 50/50 shot. (A 5% chance in either case of losing more SAN as a result of lovely care or a fuckup.)

You can also regain SAN at the end of a scenario or campaign chapter - the example amount given is 1D6 - if you were able to deal with the problem without loving everything up or succumbing to the allure of prestige drama and eating a baby or similar moral lapses. You gain 2D6 when you boost a skill to 90% to represent the self-mastery involved. In-depth psychotherapy can throw in another D3 per month, and so can seeking to reconnect with one of your established character hooks (that one's good for another 1D6).

These figures are approximately the same for 6th edition, leaving aside the character hooks business.

There are two other big SAN related problems. One is that if you use heavy magic, or just about any "Mythos" magic, you have to slap some SAN points down. It hurts your perception of reality and psychological integrity when you figure out that if you play the flute at the right place and time, you summon a monster from Aldebaran. (If you hit SAN 0 you take no further penalty though! It's not a "price," it's an injury.)

The other is that "Cthulhu Mythos" skill crowds out SAN points; your theoretical max is 99 points, but if you have CM 30%, your actual maximum is 69. This is more of a long term career ender, or at least a reason to retire a dude with Cthulhu Mythos 58% and replace her with her eager intern.

Nessus fucked around with this message at 10:40 on Oct 17, 2017

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