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Barudak
May 7, 2007



Servetus posted:

I suddenly want to play in a western medieval fantasy setting written by a Chinese writer who knows as little about Europe as the people writing Jade [Blank] know about China

In my experience you can easily do this yourself. For Europe, just take all your stereotypes you already have and run wild, but remember all of them thirst for blood of non-Europeans, most especially the british*. For America, call your game Guns Akimbo: A Big Nosed Violence Action Game

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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.

It’s five days until Halloween. I’ve got a bottle of pinot noir and the complete discography of Clan of Xymox. Let’s do this.

quote:

Hold on to your asses, rear end-holders.

--Heinrich Heine, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted




When I was a 7th grade band geek, my friend Jonathan told me about a new game his big brother was playing. “You play vampires,” he said, and that was all I needed to hear. My mother had cravings for Count Chocula when she was pregnant with me; I’ve been consuming vampire anything since I was a fetus.

“What kind of game? Like a board game?” I whispered as I drained the spit from my French horn. Soon, I had managed to learn about roleplaying games without D&D even being mentioned. I don’t remember exactly how or how much I pleaded with my parents, but Vampire: the Masquerade was not under the tree that Christmas. Instead, after I’d unwrapped my other presents, my parents asked me to get the paper off the front stoop. There it was, wrapped in brown paper.

Mom and Dad have regretted it ever since.


Why This Matters

It would be a waste of energy to try to full explain Vampire’s importance to the industry. If you’re interested, I refer you to Shannon Appelcline’s Designers & Dragons Vol. 3: The 90s. Spoiler: There’s a reason that the cover features an ankh logo.

Even if you don’t care for Vampire or the many games it inspired, White Wolf changed the industry. They made room for a whole new kind of game and experimented with new publishing models. Companies such as Atlas, Eden, Dream Pod 9, Last Unicorn, and others published games that were far afield from the World of Darkness, certainly not imitators--but I can’t see them publishing the games that they did, the way that they did, without White Wolf setting a standard.

That said, Vampire: the Masquerade inspired at least a few games that were nakedly aping its style. I don’t think any other roleplaying game besides Dungeons & Dragons has ever inspired so many companies to mimic it so closely and so shamelessly. When you crack open a World of Darkness ripoff, you can immediately recognize it by the block quotes from such scattered sources as Percy Bysshe Shelley and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Ron Edwards once lamented in his essay “More Fantasy Heartbreakers” that it was dispiriting to see RPG writing turn into a contest “to see who could present a game with prose that imitates Vampire the closest.”

When I mentioned that I wanted to review Vampire, someone suggested I start with the first edition. I probably should, but...the first edition wasn’t the one on my doorstep on Christmas morning.

Preface: The Damned

Before we even get past the author credits page, Mark Rein$Hagen lays some heavy poo poo on us:


Also, a shout-out to my dogg Bulgakov, holla at your boy


A warning that you’re messing with Dark Sided Stuff, and a dedication to Vaclav Havel. Clearly this game is a little more serious in tone than its antecedent Nightlife.

The text itself begins with an essay titled Monsters, Monsters, Everwhere… The gist of it is that societies have always imagined supernatural Fiends, and in every age, these monsters reflect social anxieties. The evolution from trolls, demons, and witches to creatures like Godzilla reflect our changing concerns and values. Of course, modern people are aware that Godzilla isn’t real. But our rationalist conception of the universe allows us, even forces us, to come back around and examine our monsters as aspects of the human condition. Vampire’s tagline is “By becoming a monster, one learns what it is to be human.”


Vlad Tepes is Alive and Well and Playing Bass for Fields of the Nephilim


The next section--printed in Gothic font on a grey background--is a letter “To W.H. from your most devoted servant...V.T.” I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining what is implied here. The letter purports to apologize and explain for some unnamed incidents. The author, an admitted vampire, separates fact from fiction with regards to their nature and their powers and weaknesses.

Since much “serious” papal literature on vampires concerns identifying and destroying them, our pal V.T. starts with that. Sunlight burns a vampire like a raging fire. Vampires sleep during the day, and are very difficult to rouse. Even when they do, they are very sluggish.

Speaking of fire, they’re especially vulnerable to it. Decapitation is also lethal. Staking a vampire through the heart will only paralyze them until the stake is removed. They can be harmed by other weapons, but heal quickly. (He mentions being stabbed by W.T.’s “American friend.”)

Religious symbols are powerless against vampires, much less crossed candlesticks and the like. Except for very rare individuals with powerful religious faith, who can channel this faith through religious symbols to repel a vampire.

Garlic and wolfsbane? Mirrors and running water? Crossing thresholds? All meaningless. Vampires can go where they want, and they can’t drown because they can’t breathe.

Vampiric powers are many and varied, and many of the legends are true. Sharp senses, super strength, and hypnotism are all very real. So is shapeshifting, though this is a rare ability.

Vampires are created through a process called the Embrace. A vampire drains a victim of their blood, nearly to death, then feeds the mortal some of the vampire’s own blood. The mortal awakens as a vampire. The process is indescribably painful--V.T. compares it to “the sting of vinegar on a cut finger,” the pangs of starvation, and sleep deprivation, magnified a thousandfold and suffused through every tissue of your body. A newly created vampire can think of nothing but their hunger for blood.

So, the anatomy of a vampire. First, they’re clinically dead. They don’t have a heartbeat and they don’t bleed; their blood doesn’t flow unless they force it to. (No one knows why impaling the heart paralyzes them, since the heart seems to be useless.) In fact, they have no other body fluids--if they cry, they cry blood.

They don’t eat, or breathe, except to speak.Their digestive system withers and they become more pale and lean than in life. Their hair, nails, and so on are nightly restored to the state they were in at the time of death. (So if you’re thinking about becoming a vampire, you might want to get a haircut and a bikini wax.) Sex is possible, but vampires have no real sex drive.

The canines become long and retractable. Vampires like to feed from the carotid artery, and when they’re done, licking the wound will heal it. Human blood is the fuel that powers a vampire. They consume it to wake each night and to heal wounds, and if they don’t feed, they go mad and eventually give in to a bestial, murderous frenzy.

The Hunger for blood is a vampire’s constant companion and endless torment. It’s never fully sated, and it combines all a human’s base drives into one. Vampires don’t want food, or water, or sex, or drugs--they want blood, and the taste of blood is pleasurable beyond human imagination. All vampires are addicts like you can’t believe.

Part and parcel with the Hunger are two concepts that vampires call the Beast and the Riddle. The Beast is a vampire’s animalistic urge to seek blood and a safe place to sleep, and destroy anything that gets in its way. Kill, eat, sleep, repeat: that’s the Beast. The Riddle is “A beast I am lest a beast I become.” If you resist the Hunger for too long, you’ll snap and go on a rampage. If you do nothing but feed and sleep, you’ll lose not only your sanity, but your sentience. Some vampires seek a sort of spiritual transformation called Golconda, which supposedly allows them to control the Beast.

Vampires are functionally immortal, so once they ensure that they’re safe and fed, their biggest problem is simply keeping their minds occupied and not giving in to despair. Here they’re presented with further paradoxes. It’s hard to fit into mortal society, and even harder to watch your friends and family die off. But living like a hermit will make you starve or go mad. Imagine the trauma experienced by war veterans, now imagine living with that as it builds up over centuries. You can choose to become detached from humanity, but that too is a road through madness to the clutches of the Beast. As they age, vampires gain knowledge and power, but often their grip on humanity slips. Elders occupy themselves with cutthroat political games.

So where do vampires come from? No one knows. Most vampire lore comes from an ancient text called the Book of Nod. There is no complete edition, only conflicting fragments--but they all claim that vampires are descended from the Biblical Caine. The curse and mark of Caine was vampirism, and he established a city where he and his creations ruled over mortals. Caine created three vampires, called the Second Generation, who in turn created an unknown number of Third Generation vampires, after which Caine forbade any further Embraces. When a great flood came, Caine took it as a sign from God, and abandoned his children. The Third Generation rose up and slew the Second, and later the Fourth Generation against the Third, and 2,000 years later, their mortal slaves revolted against them. The city fell, and vampires insinuated themselves into the civilizations of ancient Greece and Mesopotamia. The rest is history.

There are legends that Caine still wanders the earth, and apocalyptic myths that the sleeping survivors of the Third Generation will someday awake and destroy their children, and the world along with them.

Vampires society is organized under a principle called the Masquerade. Throughout human history up through the Middle Ages, many vampires flaunted their power as an open secret. But the Inquisition of 1435 brought a newfound power and organization to the war against heresy. Most of the victims were innocent Christians and Jews, of course, but many vampires and genuine diabolists were killed, until vampires were in danger of extinction. A group of survivors formed a society called the Camarilla. Their first and foremost law is the Masquerade: vampires must present themselves as mortals, hiding their nature and their powers. Their polite term for one another is Kindred. Their second aim was to influence society so that no one even believes in vampires--thus, vampires helped foster philosophy from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. That doesn’t mean Kindred secretly rule the world and engineer all human beliefs. Marx was human, and Kindred had nothing to do with the rise of fascism.

(Historical note: Vampire plays fast and loose with history, basically going along with the narrative of Genesis, the concept of the Dark Ages, the “Burning Times” myth, and being extremely Western-centric. I assume the Inquisition of 1435 is based on the [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Florence]Council of Basel[url].)

The key to understanding the Camarilla is that it’s more like a mafia syndicate than a real government. It’s made up of several Clans, and the polite and every city of significant size is ruled by a Prince (male or female). Princedom belongs to whoever can hold onto it, and it’s up to the Prince to interpret and enforce the Camarilla’s laws. So in practice, cities can vary widely from tyrannical dictatorships to anarchic collectives with a presiding figurehead.

Every city makes its own rules and resents intrusion by outsiders. The Camarilla has a powerful Council of Elders, but in practice, it’s extremely difficult to travel the world telling Princes how to run their cities. The Camarilla’s laws are called “Traditions” for a reason. There is a rival sect, called the Sabbat, that disregards the Masquerade and humanity itself. They control much of the Northeastern U.S. and basically act like slasher movie villains.

The Prince enforces the Masquerade, keeps track of Kindred living in the city, and controls the creation of new Kindred, among other Traditions I’ll enumerate later. Although the Masquerade is almost universally regarded as common sense, many young Kindred, called anarchs, resent the other Traditions and flout them as much as they can get away with.

Now is a good time to talk about what happens when someone drinks vampire blood. First, Kindred often create Ghouls by feeding vampire blood to mortals. Ghouls remain mortal, but they don’t age as long as they have vampire blood in their system. They can also develop vampiric powers. These run out quickly if they lose their steady diet of vampire blood. Ghouls are in the cellar of Kindred society, kept in the dark and fed on poo poo. Some believe that they are vampires, and many go insane. (Yes, you can have your own Renfield.)

Second, the only way to “lower” your Generation is to drain an elder vampire to death in a process called diablerie, consuming their soul to increase the potency of your own blood. But simply drinking another vampire’s blood doesn’t give you power over them--quite the opposite! If you drink a vampire’s blood three times, you become “blood bound” to them, unable to disobey them. Elders often use this to control their children, and ghouls are Blood Bound as a matter of course. What’s more, it’s said that very old elders have such potent blood that feeding from mortals no longer sustains them, so they must feed on younger Kindred.

This is a major drive of conflict and paranoia in Camarilla society. Young Kindred fear slavery and predation, and elders fear being overthrown and annihilated.

Vlad ends his letter with further apologies. He says that he’s glad that his plans failed, and has followed the fortunes of Mina’s family with interest, leaving contact information. But he admits that he’s written the letter in part because he’s weary of eternal life, and knows it’s likely that sending the letter is signing his own death warrant.



Aw yeah, that's the stuff.


Next time, on Kindred: The Embraced: An introduction that explains “What be a roleplaying???” and gets into the themes of the game.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:51 on Oct 27, 2017

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Upon reaching 9th level, a DM will automatically attract the attention of



The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 10: The Deck of Ogres and Owlbears

66: Ogre Bridge

[sigh] ...look, it’s another bridge over another ravine with another creature standing there demanding a toll. An ogre, in this case. “Though most ogres are reputed to be tremendously stupid, this one seems calm and self assured, with none of the stupid miasma common to many ogres evident in his eyes.” Dude, their intelligence is 8. Talking about “stupid miasma” is pretty harsh.

He’s holding a javelin to throw the minute someone casts a spell, and demands 20 gp a head to cross. He’s “a calm and reasonable ogre,” happy to let them climb, fly, or hike around - he’s laying claim to the bridge rights, and those only.

This is #19: Toll Bridge?, but with an ogre instead of goblins. Not a fan of these toll encounters. They’re just… so… boring. Pass.


67: The Beauty and the Beast

A beautiful wooded dell houses a nymph. As the PCs enter it, she warns them to look away, and if they don't, save vs blindness. She asks them for their help with an ogre who's fallen in love with her. (She's a seventh-level spellcaster with an at-will save-or-suck effect, I think she can handle herself.) The PCs don't actually have much of a choice in the matter, because the ogre immediately comes bellowing in trying to kill them.

Well, this is ham-handed, sexist, and dumb. I do like that if they save her, the nymph "promises to assist them in their own quest." I can only imagine the crazy plans PCs would come up with to abuse her weaponized beauty. But I couldn’t run it without wanting to slap myself in the face. Pass.


68: With a Friend Like This…

In a hilly area near civilization, an ogre, Groog, approaches the party. He wants to be an adventurer. “He just knows he’d be pretty good at it - after all, he’s pretty good at killing things already.” Indeed. He’ll threaten them if he doesn’t let them join. Of course, the card says he’s going to cause trouble, like, all the time, being temper-prone, impetuous, greedy, and possessing repulsive eating habits. Basically it’s telling the DM to punish the PCs for taking him on as a party member.

I suppose that’s acceptably gameable. I wish Groog had a couple of redeeming features as well, though. Let’s say that while he does possess all the above flaws, he’s also deeply grateful to the PCs for giving him a chance, dedicated to becoming a great adventurer, and wise enough to not make the same mistake twice three times. (His dialogue is written like “Groog smash all,” but the card also points out that his Intelligence is 10 - clearly he’s just a beginning CLL (Common Language Learner) and his language skill will improve over time.)

Those modifications in place, I’ll keep it.


69: Owlbear Lair

The PCs have wandered into some owlbears’ territory. Two of them attack the party, fighting until dead. The PCs can find their lair. In the lair are the remains of victims and 200 pp.

It says there can be three immature owlbears in the lair also, if you wish. In stark defiance of everything I know about baby bears and baby owls, the owlbear cubs “are not very cute,” and they will also attack.

Throw this one on the “exactly what I would have run if I’d rolled “2 owlbears on a random encounter table” pile. Pass.


70: Trophy

On the arctic edge of civilization, the PCs hear rumors of a huge, rare arctic owlbear, and are recruited by a big-game hunter to help him hunt it and carry it home (but absolutely not to help fight it, since he’s doing this for the bragging rights). The hunter is “basically a good guy” but talks incessantly about his old hunts. He’s startled when the owlbear attacks, though, slips and hits his head, and falls unconscious.

I’m not sure what motivation the PCs have to go along with this guy besides curiosity, but maybe he can serve as a guide to get them somewhere in return. Besides, they don’t have to take him up on the offer if they don’t want to. Keep.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Dallbun posted:

Upon reaching 9th level, a DM will automatically attract the attention of



The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 10: The Deck of Ogres and Owlbears

66: Ogre Bridge

[sigh] ...look, it’s another bridge over another ravine with another creature standing there demanding a toll. An ogre, in this case. “Though most ogres are reputed to be tremendously stupid, this one seems calm and self assured, with none of the stupid miasma common to many ogres evident in his eyes.” Dude, their intelligence is 8. Talking about “stupid miasma” is pretty harsh.

He’s holding a javelin to throw the minute someone casts a spell, and demands 20 gp a head to cross. He’s “a calm and reasonable ogre,” happy to let them climb, fly, or hike around - he’s laying claim to the bridge rights, and those only.

This is #19: Toll Bridge?, but with an ogre instead of goblins. Not a fan of these toll encounters. They’re just… so… boring. Pass.
More like

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Well, just bought all of All of Their Strengths on drivethrurpg's Halloween sale. Thanks thread!

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


Servetus posted:

I suddenly want to play in a western medieval fantasy setting written by a Chinese writer who knows as little about Europe as the people writing Jade [Blank] know about China
I’m suddenly reminded of the “Valkyria Chronicles” anime, which included a festival in WOrld War fantasy-Poland that was just straight-up a Japanese summer festival, down to putting the whole cast in yukata* for some reason in a world with no Japan analogue.

Autocorrect tried to turn this into “gulags”; holy poo poo dark

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Obviously, all wizards are essentially taoists.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Halloween Jack posted:

It’s five days until Halloween. I’ve got a bottle of pinot noir and the complete discography of Clan of Xymox. Let’s do this.






I've always love pointing this out.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Well, just bought all of All of Their Strengths on drivethrurpg's Halloween sale. Thanks thread!

You're welcome!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Halloween Jack posted:

Next time, on Kindred: The Embraced: An introduction that explains “What be a roleplaying???” and gets into the themes of the game.

You're doing second edition, I presume?

AmiYumi posted:

I’m suddenly reminded of the “Valkyria Chronicles” anime, which included a festival in WOrld War fantasy-Poland that was just straight-up a Japanese summer festival, down to putting the whole cast in yukata* for some reason in a world with no Japan analogue.

Yeah, when we were discussing it earlier, Valkyria Chronicles came to my mind in general.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, when we were discussing it earlier, Valkyria Chronicles came to my mind in general.

No lie, Valkyria Chronicles is legit amazing and I would love to have an RPG based on it

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Kaza42 posted:

No lie, Valkyria Chronicles is legit amazing and I would love to have an RPG based on it

We cannot afford a magical girl gap!

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


Betrayal at House on the Hill, 3

In time for Halloween, let's have a couple more Haunts.

The Web of Destiny
Trigger: Find a Bite in the Catacombs, Furnace Room, or Junk Room.

Oh dear. This might be the first really terrible one.

Whoever revealed the Haunt gets caught in spider web and has eggs laid inside them. They're going to hatch in 9 turns; if that happens, the heroes lose. They can't move; all they can do is attack the web, and other heroes can attack the web too. It defends with Might 4 and has to be hit a number of times equal to the number of players. The heroes also need to get the eggs out of the victim's guts, which is a Knowledge 4 roll if you have the Medical Kit, or an instant success if you have the Healing Salve. (Heroes are allowed to search the Item deck for the Medical Kit if they don't have it yet.) Finally, one person must leave the house, which requires a Knowledge or Might 6 roll to get the door open. As soon as one person's out, the heroes win.

Now, how about the traitor? They're.. the person with the highest Might. If there are 3-4 players, they immediately drop dead when the Haunt starts - apparently being "eaten by the spider". The spider that.. isn't in the room with them. It starts in the room as the person who triggered the Haunt. During its turn, the Spider must move towards an explorer that "isn't the haunt revealer" and attack them if possible.. which means it can end up attacking the traitor, because they're not necessarily the haunt revealer. The main nasty about the Spider is that its stats increase every turn it's active, ranging its Speed up to 6 and its Might up to 8. If there are 5-6 players, the traitor.. um, doesn't get any rules at all. I guess they're just beating on the other guys. Yay spider? I guess? Oh, once the eggs are removed from the poor sod who got bitten, the Spider and the traitor can attack them, but until then they can't.

So, yea. In a 3 player game, that's 2/3 players somehow eliminated from the game - the "traitor" (for being eaten, and although they can play the Spider, its moves are algorithmic) and the haunt revealer who's stuck in the web. If you don't have several heroes with decent might, you could be in real trouble if you just keep flubbing rolls to destroy the web. It really feels like they wanted the haunt revealer to be the traitor, not the random person with the highest Might, but couldn't get it to balance, which can lead to all kinds of weird things like the trapped hero just removing the eggs themselves. By the way, the heroes don't get to know about the 9 turn time limit, because having the game end with "um, your time you didn't know you had just ran out! You lose!" is fun and interesting.

I Was A Teenage Lycanthrope
Trigger: Find the Dog on the Balcony, or in the Dining Room, Master Bedroom, or Servant's Quarters.

Well, even if you're actually the old Professor, you're a werewolf right now. All your traits reset to their starting values, then you get extra points equal to the number of players, and your Might or Speed (your choice) go up by 1 every round. You can't be normally killed and all damage you take is halved. Go kill or bite all your buddies. Any time you defeat one of them, they get to make a Sanity roll 4 or join you in werewolfishness. Oh, and the Dog is on your side now too, for some reason; it can turn people into werewolves when it attacks them too.

So, if you're not a werewolf, your goal is to go get a Revolver and make some silver bullets for it. To get the Revolver (unless you already have it or it randomly spawns) you have to go to one of 5 specific rooms and test Knowledge 5. To make the silver bullets, you need to go to one of 2 specific rooms and test Knowledge 5. Once a hero has both, they can kill any werewolf and/or the Dog in one hit. To win, they need to kill all the werewolves, including any that were created from bitten players.

So, we have the usual problem with specific rooms. And the Werewolf turning out to be the guy with the revolver. And an objective to kill an enemy with higher Speed than the PCs, meaning they could just run away. And the risk of the only heroes left being people who can't make Knowledge 5. And, and.. urh.

The Floating Eye
Trigger: Find a Holy Symbol(!) on the Balcony, or in the Dining Room or Master Bedroom.

So, this has nothing whatsoever to do with holy symbols. Whoever has the lowest Sanity? A giant floating eye descends from a spaceship to meet them, even if they're in the Basement. They're out of the game; they get in the spaceship to, I don't know, hang out with the floating eye (and they don't know why). They're now playing the Alien, or if there are 5-6 players, two Aliens.

Aliens are essentially regular monsters with Might 6 and an area mind control ability. They can make a Sanity check against every hero in a room; if they succeed, that Hero can now do nothing on their turn but walk towards the spaceship and then get on it, which wipes them out. To free them, one of the other heroes has to attack them, dealing half damage in the process. Once someone's been mind controlled, they can't be controlled again. The main way the heroes win is by smashing up the spaceship, which requires Might 5 rolls in the room with the ship. Make a number equal to the number of players and it's gone.

Well, that's dumb. I mean, I've literally just spent about 10 seconds after reading this to realize that what the alien needs to do is to just wait in the room with the spaceship until people arrive to smash it up, then go for a mind control attack which will cause any heroes to instantly enter the ship on their next turn. I suppose the saving grace there is supposed to be that the traitor doesn't get to know that the heroes are trying to destroy the spaceship. The heroes do get to know about the mind control and its effect, so they should.. I don't know, try to bait them into using the mind control attack early? Anyway, it's definitely another case of "the traitor might as well just run away". Might 6 aliens are no slouch, so using regular attacks on separated heroes seems like a good idea. Hope there isn't a single hero with really high Speed who will be sprinting for the spaceship if they're controlled..

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Pretty sure the revolver can fire down straight lines from room to room, making it somewhat more functional to have the end of the haunt be 'hunt down all the werewolves.'
That being said I've been in two games where that haunt got drawn and they were absolute massacres, the wolves tore through us like tissue paper.

It's not a particularly balanced game but it's a fun one for board game nights.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





AmiYumi posted:

I’m suddenly reminded of the “Valkyria Chronicles” anime, which included a festival in WOrld War fantasy-Poland that was just straight-up a Japanese summer festival, down to putting the whole cast in yukata* for some reason in a world with no Japan analogue.

Autocorrect tried to turn this into “gulags”; holy poo poo dark

That's a god tier autocorrect.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Unless you’re specialized, you take a -2/-4 penalty when dual-wielding

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 11: The Deck of People, Polecats, and Rats

71: Heretics

As the PCs move through a high-class area of the city, they see “flickering lights as if from candles flickering around the corners of a poorly-drawn curtain.” When they investigate (because the DM never mentions details like that unless they’re important), they hear chanting and stumble into 10 evil cultists worshipping an illegal evil god. The cultists are surprised, then charge the PCs howling for their death. “The PCs now have an enemy looking for them, in the form of a fanatical, underground religious organization.”

The Enemy Within, it ain’t. Those are some badly-hidden evil cultists. Also, hidden cultist plots tend to fall apart in the face of charm person. I’ll keep this, but make a few changes. The cult is not illegal (that would insult the evil god, which the government does not want to do) - it’s just socially embarrassing, like being a Satanist in the U.S. The cult members are more likely to be verbally defensive than physically aggressive.


72: Town Watch

...I’m going to reproduce this one in full.

Town Watch posted:

Area: This encounter can take place anywhere in town, at any time the PCs are in dire need of assistance. Should disaster befall them on the city streets, this card may be used to extract them from the situation (if that is what the DM desires).

Situation: The DM can use this card to save the PCs when the party has gotten itself into too much trouble. Whether they are being chased by an angry mob, or have been involved in a bar fight with someone who intends to carry it further, this card indicates that the town watch has happened along at a fortuitous moment. The watch is comprised of 2-20 men, each armed with the prevailing weaponry of the district (spears, swords, maces, or whatever weapon the folks this town normally use).

If the PCs are clearly the wrongdoers in this situation, the watch will arrest them and drag them away from the scene. If there is no clear villain in the case, the watchmen make sure that everyone disperses, and they will deal harshly with those who resist their orders.

Quick Stats: Town Watch: MV 9; AC 5; F3, F1 (8); hp 22,7 (a); THACO 18.20; #Att 1; Dmg by weapon MR Nil

What we have here is a fundamental disagreement between me and the author over the purpose of these cards. And not just with me - this card is at odds with the entire rest of the deck so far.

Let’s look at the most repeatable, least detailed card we’ve seen. Maybe #49: Bee Sting? But that’s still a specific thing that happens. I can pick it up during a game, look at it, and say “You’re all riding along peacefully when suddenly, Eliana’s horse rears up in a panic. Roll DEX.” The card introduces a brief scenario to spice up the action and add a little unpredictability.

THIS card is written under the assumption that the card will go back into the deck afterwards - basically that the deck will function as a glorified random table that can be rolled on again and again. But that’s absolutely not the case with most of the other cards in the deck. The PCs in a campaign are not going to encounter two ring of spell storing-packing goblin hustlers (I hope). Even if someone’s horse is stung by a bee twice in one campaign, I would raise an eyebrow as a player.

I don’t get it. I don’t need a card to say that the town watch might show up in town if there’s some kind of disruption. That’s just obvious. Pass.


73: Hunted to Extinction

In the mountains, there are lots of little animal hidey-hole caves around. The PCs notice little eyes peeking at them, and if they remain still, some critters come out to investigate. With an INT-3 check, they can tell they’re not just large ferrets, but feresals, “ferret-like creatures widely believed to be extinct.” There are six in all.

“The PCs can make over 1,000 gp if they bring one to the attention of a local bestiary; they can earn 1,000 XP by allowing the creatures to live in peace.” Well, that was the easiest 1,000 XP ever.

Wonky XP award aside, I guess that’s a reasonable random encounter. I mean, it attributes a modern understanding of taxonomy and species endangerment to PCs who should probably have a less scientific worldview, but that’s AD&D 2E for you. Keep, I suppose.


74: Rat Plague

In a large city, the PCs see a lot more rats than usual scurrying around. As in, they’re ALL OVER. The residents are in a panic. The same thing happened a century ago, when the city “purchased a rare magical item to control the vermin.” The building that houses said item (a ring that works like a potion of animal control with a much wider effect) is now surrounded by hordes of rats, which the card claims the PCs will have to fight through. The card suggests that once they activate the ring, they can lead the rats into a nearby swamp.

There’s a magical solution to the problem, but where are the rats coming from in the first place? Did someone leave the rat faucet on?

There are lots of questions here, but at least they’re entertaining ones. Keep.

By the way, before you get any ideas about stealing this artifact and becoming the RAT LORD OF THE WORLD, “Note that the ring only works within a 5-mile radius of the city.” I guess they must have had it commissioned. Thus, your PC will just have to use their new rat army to rule this city with an iron fist.


75: Knotty Problem

In a tavern, a large rat jumps on the PCs’ table and starts waving its arms. It’s a polymorphed wizard, using pantomime. It has a little necklace of knotted string. If it can be untied (probably by a thief), the spell will be reversed. “The alignment of the wizard is left to the DM's discretion; if good, he might reward the PCs.”

I was on board until the end there. The interactions with the wizard are going to be the most significant part of this encounter; the knotted string is only a hook. I don’t really want to come up with an interesting wizard and a potential reward off the top of my head, card. Pass.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



I love the intros you do for these even if theyre dumb little jokes.

Knotty Problem is obviously a Wizard Fetish and as a player Im not dealing with it.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

What happens if you cut the string?

Also, dumb jokes as the intros to entries are the best thing.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Starfinger Core Rules Part #28: "So take home a deck of [Starfinger] Condition Cards—and all its space goblins—today. Please."

Jason Keeley, Starfinger Design Team Member, Paizo Blog posted:

These goblins have already tipped over the office fridge and are starting to gnaw on boxes of Flip-Mats. Oh no! I think they've made it to the serv—



They published the Adventure Path before the Alien Archive.

And why wouldn't they, really? Here you are, with your new copy of Starfinger Core Rules hot in your hand, but you don't have enough to run it. Ideally, you want the Alien Archive to complete your game, but it's not out for two whole months. So you pick up Dead Suns 1 - Incident at Absolom Station and run it with your friends. Eventually the Alien Archive comes out, but your friends ask: are you going to run Dead Suns 2 - Temple of the Twelve? And, well, it's the next part! It's only natural to run it. So why not?

Paizo wouldn't want to sell you the Alien Archive right off the bat, as a marketer. What you want to do is put everything else out there, whether those are Starfinger Pawns, Starfinger Condition Cards, Starfinger GM Screen, Starfinger Player Character Folio, Starfinger Combat Pad. Man, you wanted that Alien Archive, but maybe the pawns sound handy. So you pick those up and use them while running Incident at Absolom Station. Then, when the next set of pawns drops, it's designed for use with Alien Archive. So why wouldn't you pick them up? And when the minis come out, well, you're already used to using the Flip-Mats...

There's even a subscription for Starfinger accessories. When I harped a bit about Starfinger Core Rules declaring itself "everything you need", that was a soft target. Maybe it was just a typo. A marketing typo. But it's even softer when you realize that by no means does Paizo want you to just buy the core. I mean, they do, but what they want is to get people invested long term. And if they can get you to play through a year of a six-part Adventure Path, you're in. You're invested.

And that may sound like a condemnation, but I'm actually somewhat impressed. It's savvy. And it's hard making money at RPGs, and I have to admire anybody who can manage it. After all, most games you can walk home with the core and maybe a supplement or two and run for six months to a year without dropping money again. Paizo makes money at it - pretty good money from all appearances. Their GenCon booth is downright spacious, as you can see below. A lot of people just credit them for seizing the existing Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 fandom as the secret to their success, but I'm not sure that would be sustainable. I think it was relevant to their intitial success, but building on that success, we see all the lessons brought forth here in Starfinger... for both good and ill.

James L. Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Gnome Stew Interview posted:

Starfinger APs will be very much like Pathfinder APs, and we hope that you’ll subscribe! They’ll come out every month, so you’ll be getting two complete adventure paths a year, just like with Pathfinder. The books themselves will be a bit smaller, but they’re going to be your primary vector for all things Starfinger—in addition to the adventures, they’ll also have setting information, new rules systems, new monsters, etc. Unlike with Pathfinder, where we have a bunch of different product lines, Starfinger’s going to have a much smaller number of releases—mostly just the adventure path. So instead of getting your rules from one line, your setting info from another, and so on, you can subscribe to just one line and get pretty much everything.

James L. Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Geek & Sundry Interview posted:

With Starfinger we’re looking to do away with the distinction of “This is a rules book, this is a campaign setting book versus an adventure. If you like Starfinger, subscribe to the Starfinger line, get the adventure path, and that’ll also give you your rules for things related to it. The hope is that every month people will be getting another cool bite of that universe, whether it’s lore or crunch. You know, Paizo came from Dungeon and Dragon [magazines] and I used to be the editor/developer on Dungeon Magazine and that had the same vibe. Even early Pathfinder was just a monthly Adventure Path, and that was how we told you about the world.

James L. Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Game Informer Interview posted:

The adventure paths will be not just where we’re presenting adventure information, but really where we’re expanding the setting and the ruleset. It’ll be a little more comprehensive and address a lot of different things. So our hope is that means even more people will get into the adventure paths, just as their regular way to get more Starfinger content. With Pathfinder we had more of a pick and choose thing where it was: “Decide which elements of Pathfinder you’re most excited about,” and you can subscribe just to that. With Starfinger, we really want to say: “No, this is the game.” The stuff that we put out is going to be so important that you kind of just want to get the Starfinger stuff rather than some set of the Starfinger stuff, and in exchange, we won’t put out 10,000 books and make you go broke.



If only the game was better.

I believe some folks will point to one recurring joke I did and conclude "well, he didn't want to take it seriously anyway". And that's fine, it'll happen. I make a lot of fun in my reviews, I do, but it's not necessarily a criticism in and of itsel. However, I ran Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 for years and wrote hundreds of pages of fan material, some of it even licensed by Wizards of the Coast. I knew d20 very, very well back then. And while the game is profoundly flawed, I think you could take the Lego bricks of late-era 3.5 and make a pretty solid game. Unfortunately, Pathfinder dialed the game back to 2003. However, with nearly a decade since its release, I figured Paizo might be itching to do something new. I was legitimately interested to see, at the very least, a refined version of what they've been doing.

And let's get this out of the way: the major improvement is in the classes. They're far more robust and balanced. Granted, some are much more flexible or powerful than others, but the tiers of balance have narrowed, at least. The Envoy is obviously the weakest of the lot - fans have been calling that out as well - but there's nothing quite as bad as the Fighter or Monk were in Pathfinder. Feats have improved, if only incrementally - there's nothing as bad as Dodge or Weapon Focus was, though a number of the weaker feats (Lightning Reflexes, Skill Focus) were retained for some reason. Even spellcasting is much better balanced - still broken, but far less so. In general, the tiers between classes have narrowed significantly and there aren't any that seem straight-up unfun to play.

Where the game completely lost me was the equipment, though. It's simultaneously exacting and abstract at the same time, trying to be "realistic" in tying weapon damage to specific guns... but also making the entire economy abstracted in relation to it. But, at the same time, it wants to have "real" costs in an effectively unrealistic economy, and adds a layer of bookkeeping on both the player and gamemaster side of things without significantly improving the game aside from being able to do a it costs X to fire this gun for Z seconds reference. I'm not sure, in particular, in a "game for everybody" you'd have game accounting like this. It could have been trimmed down immensely.

Then we get into the effectively rushed and seemingly unfinished material - the vehicle rules, the limited spaceship rules, the broken DC values of many rolls, etc. For a company of Paizo's stature, this is inexcusable. While a game like Starfinger is near-impossible to fully playtest, given the time it takes to play out a full campaign and the number of mechanical options, the points where it breaks down should not be so immediately obvious. Some break points are inevitable, but here they're just nakedly clear on a extremely basic reading of the rules. And unlike the equipment section, this isn't a matter of personal taste, but numerous places where the rules lead to unintended results, like a starfighter pilot being unable to shoot and maneuver at the same time, or cars having to take turns at under 10 MPH.

And the setting - well, it has some interesting ideas. A lot of the odder worlds have interesting hooks, but the book doesn't have enough room to flesh them out. However, the feel of a "fantasy space setting" generally falls flat. Though we're told that magic and technology have fused to an extent, there's very little that gives that impression in the actual equipment section, which generally leans towards a standard sci-fi arsenal with a few magic oddities. And when we get to the worlds, that's even less so - the only reason to know it isn't just a standard sci-fi setting is because they insist otherwise. But magic only shows up with they absolutely need it, such as the necromancers of Eox, and then vanishes behind the curtain behind a veneer of standard space opera. The villainous factions in particular fall flat, having all of the cartoon villainy of the chaos factions of Warhammer 40,000 without the humor or heavy metal bombast. And without nuance or depth to carry them through, you mostly have just human-faced monsters to replace the orc hordes of old.

In fact, Starfinger is brazenly derivative at points. And that's not actually a problem if you have enough creative energy to make a recycled idea interesting again, but Starfinger... often feels like it's just filling out quotas. "Did you like Jedi, we've got those! Did you like Aliens? Got those too. Firefly? Don't worry..."

James L. Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Game Informer interview posted:

I actually think that the second Thor movie, The Dark World, watching that I remember at the time joking: “Oh well, that’s my favorite of any of the Star Wars movies,” because there’s so much of that which has that futuristic fantasy feel, where there’s starships blasting people, but also magic. So I think that felt very akin.

Oh, geez, I would've been totally down for Space Thor. Why didn't they make that?

Ultimately, it's a disappointment, and it makes the brazen push towards the "gotta buy it all!" marketing ring even more hollow than it would normally. It's disappointing. After all their years on working on somebody else's game, I'd have thought they'd be more willing to push the envelope than they did, but Starfinger is exceedingly "safe". There's very few surprises for dedicated Pathfinder fans, and not much to attract people who didn't like Pathfinder to begin with. Whether or not it's intentional, it seems aimed at milking their existing audience rather than significantly growing it.



But I don't know why I'm that surprised. Of the three principal designers, there isn't any apparent game writing experience outside of the d20 design bubble. James L. Sutter has written almost exclusively for Pathfinder (aside from some previous Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 magazine work). Robert G. McCreary started writing as a Pathfinder fan and has exclusively only ever written for Pathfinder. Owen K.C. Stephens is the only time you find broader experience, having gotten his start writing for the first edition of Star Wars d20, but even then he's only written for d20 material, like the Everquest Role-Playing Game or Gamma World Sixth Edition. While I have no doubt they might be familiar with games outside of the d20 bubble, they don't have professional experience there. And in Starfinger, that shows. Instead of innovating, it's more often just reshuffling chairs.

Once again, I wanted to like it. I actually kind of miss picking out the perfect prestige class for my character and finding weird mechanical combos. I miss the weird ideas that came out of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 later in its lifespan - the odd new races and classes, new kinds of magic, new options that turned the game on its head - and to an extent, Pathfinder has some of those. However, compared to its forebears, Starfinger is far more conservative. While Wizards of the Coast attempted to push the envelope on a relatively regular basis, Pathfinder lives in mortal fear of alienating its subscribers or introducing anything that might shake the game's compatibility with existing Adventure Paths.

It's still okay to play, and I have no doubt people will enjoy it. There will no doubt be uncritical reviews out there, much like the sort of softball marketing-masked-as-interviews I've gotten to quote throughout this piece. You can probably do a fair amount of game without seeing the cracks. But the fact that the cracks are there - and that they're obvious on a simple cover-to-cover read - means I just can't recommend it, especially in an industry that has games like Ashen Stars, Fragged Empire, or Stars Without Number. Or even just Star Wars. No doubt Starfinger will be a hit, but it feels it's as much to do with marketing as it might have to do with merit.

And that's all...

... wait, the Alien Archive is out? Already? The review took that long to- FUUUUUUUUUUU-

:munch: Back to it, then.

Next: This review is now over. If you have experienced any frustration because of this review, please enjoy a calming musical interlude before the next review. Thank you for reading.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 15:30 on Oct 28, 2017

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



Can't wait until you get to one of the worst/least balanced haunts in Betrayal The Blob. I did some awful shenanigans to everyone when I was the traitor, and had access to secret passages.

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!


quote:

With Starfinger we’re looking to do away with the distinction of “This is a rules book, this is a campaign setting book versus an adventure. If you like Starfinger, subscribe to the Starfinger line, get the adventure path, and that’ll also give you your rules for things related to it.

This sounds absolutely loving terrible, I gotta say. As someone who's literally never run a pre-made module, nor ever found any temptation to, this sounds like: "If you want to free-form create your own adventure, instead of having a few dedicated rule/creature/magic books to flip through for inspiration or stat blocks, now everything is going to be split between the appendices of 900 loving adventure paths. Hope you remembered which one had the stats for the Space Gelatinous Blob."

Like, it sounds great for people with all the initiative and creativity of dry toast, who just want a book that has everything in it they need to run Space Cave of the Space D20's: Return of the Space DC's, but for everyone else, it sounds like a hot garbage fire approach.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011



Dallbun posted:

It says there can be three immature owlbears in the lair also, if you wish. In stark defiance of everything I know about baby bears and baby owls, the owlbear cubs “are not very cute,” and they will also attack.

That depends on if they're barn owlbears, because very young barn owl chicks are the likely origins of some Halloween decorations.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

PurpleXVI posted:

This sounds absolutely loving terrible, I gotta say. As someone who's literally never run a pre-made module, nor ever found any temptation to, this sounds like: "If you want to free-form create your own adventure, instead of having a few dedicated rule/creature/magic books to flip through for inspiration or stat blocks, now everything is going to be split between the appendices of 900 loving adventure paths. Hope you remembered which one had the stats for the Space Gelatinous Blob."

Like, it sounds great for people with all the initiative and creativity of dry toast, who just want a book that has everything in it they need to run Space Cave of the Space D20's: Return of the Space DC's, but for everyone else, it sounds like a hot garbage fire approach.

Nice. They're reaching all the way back to late-era TSR now, not just 3.0.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


PurpleXVI posted:

This sounds absolutely loving terrible, I gotta say.

It's basically a form of product tying, though not likely illegal. Basically, they're finding a way to try and drive selling you the whole product line so if you want monsters or feats, you'll have to pay for adventures and world material, and vice versa. It's worth bringing up because it's notably anti-consumer, no matter how they spin it. Granted, the presence of an SRD softens the issue of them being bad as references. After all, if all the AP material goes into the SRD, you can at least reference there, though that's hardly an ideal situation.

But I guess their answer to "how do we sell a thing we have to offer for free?" is "bundle it with things that aren't free". That ol' OGL does certainly cut both ways.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 17:42 on Oct 28, 2017

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


Bieeardo posted:

Nice. They're reaching all the way back to late-era TSR now, not just 3.0.

FF Star Wars is the same. Want to have your FaD proto-Jedi build a lightsaber? The rules are in the GM screen.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Well heads up yall arent going to like my upcoming rpg Subscription Fee: The Lootcrate where everything from splats, stats, enemies, items, and world building are stuffed into lootcrates. Collect all 12 variations of “first foe in the game” all the way to “completely untested ability which doesnt work correctly”

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Ooh! Will it include Class with Missing Mechanic?

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Bieeardo posted:

Ooh! Will it include Class with Missing Mechanic?

It might, but youll never know for sure until you get enough random drops to find that out!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Barudak posted:

Well heads up yall arent going to like my upcoming rpg Subscription Fee: The Lootcrate where everything from splats, stats, enemies, items, and world building are stuffed into lootcrates. Collect all 12 variations of “first foe in the game” all the way to “completely untested ability which doesnt work correctly”

Lootcrates are just a more extreme form of product tying, since they add randomness / gambling to the mix.

Not that I'd ever think they'd tie it directly to an RPG, bear in mind Paizo is no stranger to selling randomized product. They're really not adverse to that kind of thing, as it turns out.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's basically a form of product tying, though not likely illegal. Basically, they're finding a way to try and drive selling you the whole product line so if you want monsters or feats, you'll have to pay for adventures and world material, and vice versa. It's worth bringing up because it's notably anti-consumer, no matter how they spin it. Granted, the presence of an SRD softens the issue of them being bad as references. After all, if all the AP material goes into the SRD, you can at least reference there, though that's hardly an ideal situation.

But I guess their answer to "how do we sell a thing we have to offer for free?" is "bundle it with things that aren't free". That ol' OGL does certainly cut both ways.
Speaking of anti-consumer paizo pdfs are loaded up with so much metadata to prevent piracy that they noticeably lag when scrolling on my phone. The pirated versions of the same pdfs have no such issue.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Terrible Opinions posted:

Speaking of anti-consumer paizo pdfs are loaded up with so much metadata to prevent piracy that they noticeably lag when scrolling on my phone. The pirated versions of the same pdfs have no such issue.

I wish most of these publishers realize most of their anti-piracy tactics only hurt the legitimate users, and drive more people to pirate - since Spore's inital DRM and the hardrive-destroying Starforce also comes to mind.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


Betrayal At House on the Hill, 4

It's yet more Haunts!

Carnivorous Ivy
Trigger: Find the Book in the Abandoned Room, Balcony, or Catacombs.

So, this is the one I was referring to earlier. Because you found a book, any hero with the Gardening hobby or else the one with highest Sanity turns into Poison Ivy and decides to infest the house with carnivorous plants. They get a number of vines equal to twice the number of players, each of which has a Root and a Tip. The Tip moves around like a regular monster, but can only grab people when it beats them in combat. When it grabs them, they drop everything and thereafter are drawn towards the Root at a rate of 2 spaces/turn; if they reach the Root, they're dead.

The cure is for whoever found the Book to take it to the Research Lab or the Kitchen, where they can create plant killer with a Knowledge 5 roll. The plant killer destroys entire creepers in one hit with no roll required. If the traitor gets hold of the plant killer, they can toss it in the Furnace, the Chasm or the Underground Lake to destroy it; it can't be made twice, so the traitor wins if that happens.

So, hmm. Some nice ideas, but it's really location dependent. The layout of the map could pretty much determine if this is a cakewalk or impossible. Also, the rooms in which the Roots appear are fixed, and if they aren't discovered when the Haunt starts, the traitor can place Roots in them as soon as they are discovered. Which is really awkward, because anyone who discovers such a room could happily be there until the traitor's turn, whereupon a Root and Tip appear there and immediately grab them. They aren't immediately killed - that's only checked at the start of the traitor's turn - but still.

Wail of the Banshee
Trigger: Find the Spirit Board in the Charred Room, Gallery, or Servants' Quarters.

A speed 8 Banshee is spawned together with the person who found the Spirit Board, and from there moves according to one of five random strategies each turn: teleport 8 squares, run around in circles to the left, run in straight lines, run around in circles to the right, or move according to the traitor's commands. If it passes any explorer, they must make a Sanity check and take a varying amount of mental damage. The traitor's immune to this damage while they have the Spirit Board, but if it's taken away from them, they're no longer immune (although the person who gets it doesn't become immune, and the traitor is still the traitor)

The Heroes can't attack the banshee; they just have to exorcise it by making rolls in critical locations or carrying particular items. There are three particular rooms and two particular items that let you roll Sanity 5 for an exorcism point; and two different rooms and two different items that allow a Knowledge 5 roll. Each can only be used once. Get exorcism points equal to the number of players, and the Banshee goes buh-bye. Heroes win.

I'm not sure about this one, really. I mean, it makes sense enough, but the main threat having effectively random movement seems to make it a bit of a luck based mission. As with the Witch mission, the actual traitor character doesn't get to do much, which is even worse in this case because of their limited control over the monster.

The Dance of Death
Trigger: Find the Holy Symbol in the Abandoned Room, Junk Room, or Servants' Quarters.

So, this is the first Haunt that seriously changes it up. There's no starting Traitor. The Balloom and Pentagram Chamber, if not already in the house, are placed at maximum distance from the Haunt revealer. At the start of everyone's turn, they must make a Sanity 4 check to resist the spoooky violin music playing throughout the house. Anyone who fails takes a Sanity damage and must move towards the Ballroom that turn, although their other actions are not limited. If anyone fails a Sanity check in the Ballroom or their Sanity hits zero for any other reason, they join the dance and turn traitor..

Which unfortunately isn't very interesting. They can heal one of their traits, and thereafter their goal is to steal the Holy Symbol and destroy it by taking it to the Chasm, Furnance Room, or Lake. The only problem is that they need to make a Might 3 roll every turn or be caught up dancing and lose a Might point. In addition, you now attack with Speed. So you now have significant Multiple Attribute Dependency as well. So.. yea, being a traitor in this one kind of sucks. Plus, of course, all the traitors are likely to be hanging around the Ballroom, so everyone's likely to be running from that area, since there's nothing to be gained by going to that area. And the person with the Holy Symbol doesn't have to make Sanity rolls, so they're even more certain not to go there. And with the traitors missing the movement on a bunch of their turns..

So, what's the aim here? Well, the Hero who got the Holy Symbol has to move to the Pentagram Chamber. They can't give it to anyone else (although it can be stolen). Then, they need to make a Sanity 5 roll to whack the Dark Fiddler with the holy symbol, and repeat this a number of times equal to the number of players. That banishes the fiddler and ends the scenario.

So.. I'm not sure if the intent here is that someone has to steal the Symbol from the person who starts with it. But as it is, that one person runs for the Pentagram Chamber and everyone else hangs around sucking their thumbs because they can't do anything. There's no other monsters to protect the Symbol holder from or anything, and the Symbol holder is immune to the main feature of the adventure, so they just.. uh.. mill about and hope they don't go mad. If the Ballroom and Pentagram Chamber are close to each other, I guess there might be a problem, but otherwise.. well, it just seems tremendously dull and one-track.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Robindaybird posted:

I wish most of these publishers realize most of their anti-piracy tactics only hurt the legitimate users, and drive more people to pirate - since Spore's inital DRM and the hardrive-destroying Starforce also comes to mind.

Yeah. In general the PDF structure of Paizo PDFs is real weird, I tried pulling them apart several ways to clean up the images but sometimes various parts of an image were separated between layers and sometimes not. So there are different types of extractions (that's why sometimes the text is visible in images on the review, and sometimes faded, depending on which extraction job worked better for a given chapter).There's nothing as ugly as the aliasing issues on earlier Pathfinder PDFs, but I don't know enough about PDF construction to know why they end up with what they do when most other RPG PDFs I see have a much more straightforward structure. At one point one of their PDFs just halted my computer; not my PDF reader. My computer.

As for piracy, it continues undeterred.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





hyphz posted:

one-track

Did you mean

hyphz posted:

one-note

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah. In general the PDF structure of Paizo PDFs is real weird, I tried pulling them apart several ways to clean up the images but sometimes various parts of an image were separated between layers and sometimes not. So there are different types of extractions (that's why sometimes the text is visible in images on the review, and sometimes faded, depending on which extraction job worked better for a given chapter).There's nothing as ugly as the aliasing issues on earlier Pathfinder PDFs, but I don't know enough about PDF construction to know why they end up with what they do when most other RPG PDFs I see have a much more straightforward structure. At one point one of their PDFs just halted my computer; not my PDF reader. My computer.

As for piracy, it continues undeterred.
Based on what I'm seeing, it seems like Paizo is much more prone to taking a commissioned image, and then modifying it in some way to fit the formatting in a book.

The species images, for example, are very clearly each two separate pieces they overlaid. There's other examples where it looks like they masked something out or added an adjustment layer to part of it for whatever reason.

Nothing that's untoward, but it's not typical behavior.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Robindaybird posted:

I wish most of these publishers realize most of their anti-piracy tactics only hurt the legitimate users, and drive more people to pirate - since Spore's inital DRM and the hardrive-destroying Starforce also comes to mind.
I believe starforce could gently caress up your CD drive. Because it's from back when you needed the CD in the drive to play games. And, you know, you GOT optical discs of the game instead of just a steam code in the box.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Zereth posted:

I believe starforce could gently caress up your CD drive. Because it's from back when you needed the CD in the drive to play games. And, you know, you GOT optical discs of the game instead of just a steam code in the box.

I'm curious how it destroyed hard drives/CD drives.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Prism posted:

I'm curious how it destroyed hard drives/CD drives.
My guess would be requiring constant thrashing in some form.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Prism posted:

I'm curious how it destroyed hard drives/CD drives.
I don't remember exactly, but it involved shoving its code into the CD drive's drivers and loving with things.

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gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

Prism posted:

I'm curious how it destroyed hard drives/CD drives.

I think certain implementations of the copy-protection would interact badly with CD drives and hard drives to the point where they'd be constantly working/spinning. It wouldn't "destroy" the drive immediately, but it would put a lot of wear on the hardware. There were also implementations of Starforce that would inject itself into your computer at the OS (BIOS?) level, making it very difficult to remove.

I do distinctly recall one particular game, Settlers 4, where if your CD drive was "too fast", it would think that you were running it off of a hard drive and so had pirated it, which would make the game activate its anti-piracy "easter eggs". Your forges, which were supposed to output pig iron, would instead yield pigs. There were a couple of other changes which I can't recall offhand, but basically the game would be unplayable because the supply-chain would just flat-out not exist anymore.

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