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DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.

Prism posted:

Well, I meant why physically put them in at all instead of just flying by sensor? Like, being phobic about the inability to look outside is not a problem if there is no way to attempt to look outside. You might not even know it hits you that way.

Edit: This is less a problem with the RPG though and more a minor point of issue with the source material, which I'm not familiar with.

IIRC, the only known substance capable of withstanding extremely high hyperspace speeds is completely transparent.
Most human ships don't have windows big enough to cause the problem that was described though.

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Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements



TLE might have been 'inspired' by Jesus Christ Superstar? Otherwise I got nothin'

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



History of the World: Part 1



The timeline of Known Space diverges from Earth as we know it sometime in the 80s. (Naturally, we're looking back 33 years on upon these projections.)

The 21st century was marked by the development of zero-gravity industries and the first stages of space mining, which led to the Belter culture/civilization. (Fusion power was also perfected in the early 21st century - here's hoping! - which makes all the rest of this stuff hang together, from a certain point of view.)

Attempts to colonize Mars failed, but the Belt thrived, not least from finding magnetic monopoles, which were extremely valuable. Earth proper gradually became more and more unified and cooperative over larger and larger scales, with a general upward trend that had a range of disasters. A world police/military, the ARM (Amalgamation of Regional Militia, or perhaps Acronym Retroactively Made), developed, and did a lot of technology cop work, keeping the "Superman Insurrection" of a bunch of biotech companies down.

Earth's population stabilized at about 18 billion, with widespread "Fertility Board" authorization becoming generally accepted. Contraception was mandatory, and most people only got the right to have one kid apiece (so two per couple) which could be revoked if you had a bad genetic disease, or upped if you had super-desirable genes as well as some other obscure routes.

Society was wracked by the ease of organ transplants, which became a primary course of medical intervention, not least because of medical science making transplants more and more easy. Organleggers, who illegally broke people down for parts, were a major target of the ARM. Society in general got real happy with the death penalty for a while - execution was by being broken down for parts. This problem was eventually abated by development in artificial organs, cloning, and the development of Boosterspice, but cultural memories are long.

Interstellar colonies were founded by, first, sending out Bussard ramscoop robots to explore nearby stars, and then by sending out starships full of frozen aspiring colonists. The ramrobots had some programming errors, most notably that they sought Earthlike conditions but not a generally Earthlike planet, leading to anomalies like Jinx (two habitable bands on a moon that has a gravity of 1.78G) and Plateau (earthlike conditions on a large plateau jutting well above the rest of the atmosphere, which was dense and poisonous). Having no way to return home, the settlers made the best of it.


hey babe, come to the thread often?
i have a tasp
i'm into that

Humanity also ran into aliens.

The first were Dolphins, who of course are our neighbors, and who had become citizens of Earth and UN members through the 21st century.

The second was Kzanol, a survivor of the "Slavers," a species of powerful telepaths who had dominated the galaxy billions of years ago. Kzanol was in a stasis field, and he was eventually returned to it, but Slaver technology became a big thing - not least because it was possible to find some Slaver relics in similar stasis fields here and there.

Third were the "Bandersnatchi," who had been food animals raised by the Slavers. Handless but intelligent, they survived on Jinx, and the Jinx Institute of Knowledge was founded to figure out how to talk to them. (In addition to being very durable, Bandersnatchi were essentially titanic single cell organisms with chromosomes the size of sausages - so they didn't mutate.)

Fourth was a so-called "Pak protector," a hominid from the direction of the Sagittarius constellation who had came to "save us" from something or other. This creature exposed Jack Brennan, a Belt miner, to some chemical agent, mutating Brennan severely. Brennan summarized a threat from the "Pak," a warlike species who we should keep an eye out for, because they'd wipe out humans for being dangerous mutants. He then vanished. Earth learned how to make gravity manipulation technology from the Pak ship, though.

Fifth were the Kzin, who conquered the colony world Wunderland and were held at bay by Belter laser systems and the power of reaction-drive ships used as weapons for a while. (This also represented a conclusion of a 250-year era of peace, which is no small thing. Imagine if Earth had been war-free since 1777!) The Kzin were powerful warriors loosely resembling humanoid, man-eating tigers. We Made It bought the hyperdrive from the Outsiders and hyperdrive-equipped human ships were able to win the war - the Kzinti had no hyperdrive.

The Man-Kzin wars did not go well for the Kzinti, with the score something like this:

First War: Eventual human victory and liberation of Wunderland; seizure of a Kzinti world, named "Down"
Second War: Human victory after fending off a surprise attack; liberation of the Kdatylno
Third War: Human victory; liberation of Canyon and the Pierin home system
Fourth War: Human victory; armed landing in the personal estates of the Patriarch of Kzin

The impact on the Kzinti will be discussed when we get to them, but there was a religious movement among them that theorized that God had created humanity - NOT the Kzinti - in His image. They would pray while wearing human-skin masks in the hopes of fooling God long enough to win a war.

The Puppeteers also showed up, founding a trading empire and then ditching it several hundred years later because they found out the galactic core was exploding and in a mere few tens of thousands of years, a massive radiation wave would reach Known Space! Probably.

The human parts of Known Space are in a loose cooperative state with an Interworld Council wrangling details and handling interplanetary disputes. Earth is the big horse at the trough, but Jinx and We Made It are distinctly independent, with the smaller colonies tending to lean towards Earth. Earth's UN supports a "Federation of Human Worlds," but the proposal has not yet borne fruit.

Up next: Earth, Belt, Canyon, and maybe another planet or two!

Nessus fucked around with this message at 06:25 on Nov 10, 2017

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


Joe Slowboat posted:

TLE might have been 'inspired' by Jesus Christ Superstar? Otherwise I got nothin'


I'm given to understand that many people found that show inspirational but no one else had written a completely unplayable yet pretentious game and marketed it.
I've heard more engaging games described by people too high to move.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

I've heard more engaging games described by people too high to move.

Thread title!

I really hope it is an Andrew Lloyd Webber play somehow, as that would the most ridiculous inspiration for TLETISAOTTALD (How is that pronounced, anyway?)

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.
The description of Winged Lancer (a take on Winged Hussar?) keeps making me ponder what happens when one gets their hands on a Pegasus.

Also I kind of want to play a Russian cowboy. That accent would be absurd.

Oooh, ooh, new idea; dodgy pegasus salesman.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


Inescapable Duck posted:

(a take on Winged Hussar?)

Yup. Kislev is everything east of Berlin and west of the Urals, ruled by Catherine the Great with magic powers.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.
I can totally start with a pegasus, if it can't actually fly, due to frailty, stupidity or obesity.

(I'm picturing a cross between horses and pigeons, attitude wise)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

There are a few more Known Space aliens not mentioned. The Kdatlyno, blind former slaves of the Kzin with super hearing, the Trinocs, three-eyed hypercapitalists, and the Grogs, sessile lumps of flesh that mind control prey animals into their mouths telepathically.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Mors Rattus posted:

There are a few more Known Space aliens not mentioned. The Kdatlyno, blind former slaves of the Kzin with super hearing, the Trinocs, three-eyed hypercapitalists, and the Grogs, sessile lumps of flesh that mind control prey animals into their mouths telepathically.
Oh, they're coming alright. I'm not sure if they can put a Grog on a skrode to go to the Ringworld with. Probably.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Just give the Grog a monkey to carry it around.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Mors Rattus posted:

Just give the Grog a monkey to carry it around.
It seems like Grogs are statted but are not recommended for PCs, presumably due to their great powers of psionic dominance!

open_sketchbook
Feb 26, 2017

the only genius in the whole fucking business
Usually, when I listen to System Mastery, I like to think about how I could make a game with the same conceit as the one being reviewed, but, you know, better.

Dark Continent did not inspire such feelings. Holy poo poo, what an awful idea for an RPG.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.
Fallen Rib

Barudak posted:


*Seriously, I have no idea what it is. Any guesses?

I'm going to guess Rent, since it also undermines its own themes at every opportunity.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016

wiegieman posted:

Yup. Kislev is everything east of Berlin and west of the Urals, ruled by Catherine the Great with magic powers.

Sylvania disputes this, as it lays claim to being the setting's Romania. You can also make a case that the Border Princes (WFRP actually has a source book for them!) also takes the place of the Balkans.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010
Inscribed on the wall is a rune that will teleport all who look on it into

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 23: The Deck of Crime, Intrigue, and Balors

131: Mistaken Identity, Version 3

The PCs wander into a small village, and everybody seems to recognize one of them. Someone tries to pay them back 100 gp, a tavern proprietor offers them the usual (which, if accepted, is the PC’s favorite food), and everyone’s extremely obsequious towards them. They even have a lovely wife who says it’s been so long and tries to drag them home, at which point they run into the PC’s double coming out of their fine house.

“How the encounter is resolved is up to the DM: it can be a doppelganger, a long lost twin brother, or anything else. Whatever the case, it is sure to be amusing.”

Will it, though? Off the top of my head, I’m not coming up with anything more interesting than the suggested options, and neither seems particularly entertaining in practice. ("Hey, I've got a long lost twin brother! ...cool, I guess?") Myself, I’ll pass.


132: The Fugitive

In a high mountain pass. It’s a beautiful day. Way down below, in the distance, they can see dust kicked up by a group of galloping horses on a distant road. Up here, they find an old man trying to fix the broken wheel on his cart. The mule’s not being cooperative. He asks for the PCs help, says he’s a famous artist, and promises to paint for them if they escort him across the mountain. Actually he’s a fraud who uses cantrip to “paint” temporary art and sell it, and which is why he has to run before the relentless pursuit of the police lieutenant obsessed with his capture flee from the knights in the distance. I guess knights are fantasy cops. Keep.


133: Hazardous Passage

Medium danger in a dungeon. It’s a long passageway. There’s a summoning circle taking up the entire width of it, and inside is a balor. But it’s invisible, because that’s a thing balors can do, of course. It says the circle is “too large for the PCs to simply step over its boundary along the wall,” though I’d probably let them try with DEX checks. It suggests levitation or whatever - it’s safe as long as you don’t disturb the magical dust that’s making up the circle on the ground and keeping the thing imprisoned.

Interesting, though potentially incredibly dangerous. I guess I’ll keep it.

Incidentally, the card notes that the encounter is worth 500 XP for passing the circle, or 46,000 XP “in the unlikely event the PCs defeat the balor.” Haha, wow. The Monstrous Manual XP value is only 26,000...


134: April Fools

A “gaily bedecked” normal town. Everyone has little smirks on their faces. It’s a festival celebrating the local trickster god, so everyone plays pranks on each other all day. The PCs will be targets, though unfortunately the examples given are a little passé: giving wrong directions, or dumping mud on them from a second-story. If the PCs take this badly, they’ll earn ill will. If they get in on the pranking themselves, they’ll gain good will. Keep.


135: Hostages

So the PCs have attracted the attention of a wizard kidnapper, Fargone (Thief 9, Wizard 9). He’s made a cell that’s only accessible by teleportation (but has a slot for food and air), and he tries to pop over to the PCs with a helm of teleportation, grab someone, teleport back to the prison, and teleport out by himself. Then he’ll send a ransom note to the others.

This is one of those weird encounters that really runs with the implications of the setting. If there’s reliable teleportation magic wielded by self-interested people, then this encounter does logically follow. I’m not sure I like that flavor of fantasy, but it’s certainly very AD&D. I'm also reluctant to keep it, though, because whenever you have an NPC use a permanent magical item, that item will likely end up in the hands of the PCs by the end. And teleportation is a pain that I want to reduce the incidence of. Pass for me, I suppose.

P.S.: It’s a shame. In another life, this wizard could have put his teleportation magic to good purposes, but in the end he was just too… Fargone. :cool:


136: The Hunter

There’s a cabin in the forest decorated with the mounted heads of good-aligned creatures (unicorns, pegasi, blink dogs, a pixie, etc). Their skins are hung inside. The weapon racks inside are empty. The hunter will return eventually, dragging two aarakokra. He’ll attack without any conversation if he sees them. He’s a level 12 fighter.

Works for me. Keep.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 14:40 on Nov 9, 2017

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.
I was going to be baffled by Blood Music as an inspiration but I figured it out, a book where everything goes to poo poo and nothing can stop it inspired them to make a game where the PCs are utterly unimportant and can impact nothing at all.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Dallbun posted:

134: April Fools

A “gaily bedecked” normal town. Everyone has little smirks on their faces. It’s a festival celebrating the local trickster god, so everyone plays pranks on each other all day. The PCs will be targets, though unfortunately the examples given are a little passé: giving wrong directions, or dumping mud on them from a second-story. If the PCs take this badly, they’ll earn ill will. If they get in on the pranking themselves, they’ll gain good will. Keep.

Now an actual, proper Feast of Calends with a Lord of Misrule would be an excellent thing for a party of medieval travellers to walk into.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016

Feinne posted:

I was going to be baffled by Blood Music as an inspiration but I figured it out, a book where everything goes to poo poo and nothing can stop it inspired them to make a game where the PCs are utterly unimportant and can impact nothing at all.

Blood Music is a really weird and creepy book. It also stars the absolutely dumbest protagonist alive. Well, for as long as he lasts, anyway. Seriously, I think he’s the guy that trained the “scientists” on Promethius.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

kommy5 posted:

Blood Music is a really weird and creepy book. It also stars the absolutely dumbest protagonist alive. Well, for as long as he lasts, anyway. Seriously, I think he’s the guy that trained the “scientists” on Promethius.

Well I mean if he were in the business of making good choices he wouldn't have turned a significant portion of the earth's surface into a nightmare meatscape.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Dallbun posted:

Inscribed on the wall is a rune that will teleport all who look on it into

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 23: The Deck of Crime, Intrigue, and Balors

131: Mistaken Identity, Version 3

take out the "meets their mysterious twin" event and the whole encounter is actually a wizard/demon/campaign boss loving with the heroes.

it's basically the plot to any spider-man cartoon featuring mysterio, or any batman cartoon featuring the mad hatter, where the villain is trying to get the heroes to accept a subliminal fantasy reality so that they're no longer thwarting their plans in actual reality.

the fun stuff starts when the PCs begin to realize that something's amiss and start trying to break the simulation in creative ways so that they can wake up and punch the bad guy who has them mesmerized/hypnotized/enchanted/etc.

edit: there's a comic or cartoon where the whole JLA gets this treatment and superman is the first to wake up and he's mondo-pissed and wrecks the poo poo of the thing that's hypnotizing everyone and it's pretty cool

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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

Freaking Crumbum posted:

take out the "meets their mysterious twin" event and the whole encounter is actually a wizard/demon/campaign boss loving with the heroes.

it's basically the plot to any spider-man cartoon featuring mysterio, or any batman cartoon featuring the mad hatter, where the villain is trying to get the heroes to accept a subliminal fantasy reality so that they're no longer thwarting their plans in actual reality.

the fun stuff starts when the PCs begin to realize that something's amiss and start trying to break the simulation in creative ways so that they can wake up and punch the bad guy who has them mesmerized/hypnotized/enchanted/etc.

edit: there's a comic or cartoon where the whole JLA gets this treatment and superman is the first to wake up and he's mondo-pissed and wrecks the poo poo of the thing that's hypnotizing everyone and it's pretty cool
I was thinking that it's at least the second card with a party doppelganger, so if you combined them you could get a whole subplot going.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010

Freaking Crumbum posted:

edit: there's a comic or cartoon where the whole JLA gets this treatment and superman is the first to wake up and he's mondo-pissed and wrecks the poo poo of the thing that's hypnotizing everyone and it's pretty cool

If you're referring to the story I'm thinking of, it's a comic and cartoon - Alan Moore's "For the Man Who Has Everything," and the second episode of Justice League Unlimited.

That does seem to be a better way to run the encounter, especially if the villain doesn't quite grok sentient humanoids and doesn't understand why they would want to leave a life of comfort and ease.

Comrade Gorbash posted:

I was thinking that it's at least the second card with a party doppelganger, so if you combined them you could get a whole subplot going.

The intro did assure us that you could use these cards "to design an entire campaign." And what a campaign it would be. :allears:

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.
That sounds like a different story where the Justice League gets kidnapped by aliens who have a device that suppresses all their superpowers.

The rub is, Superman figures out that doesn't make any sense because their powers all come from different sources- his are natural, Wonder Woman is magical, Green Lantern has alien supertechnology, etc- and figures the only explanation is that they're being mentally blocked to be unable to use their powers. So he puts himself in harm's way and his invulnerability protects him, since that can't just be turned off (red sunlight notwithstanding), and the spell is broken.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Inescapable Duck posted:

That sounds like a different story where the Justice League gets kidnapped by aliens who have a device that suppresses all their superpowers.

The rub is, Superman figures out that doesn't make any sense because their powers all come from different sources- his are natural, Wonder Woman is magical, Green Lantern has alien supertechnology, etc- and figures the only explanation is that they're being mentally blocked to be unable to use their powers. So he puts himself in harm's way and his invulnerability protects him, since that can't just be turned off (red sunlight notwithstanding), and the spell is broken.

I was definitely referencing the story Dallbun mentioned but it's clearly a premise that gets reused multiple times.

the funniest thing to me is that batman is rarely the one that solves the riddle. deep down, he's still a scared kid who just watched his parents die and he's willing to basically accept anything that allows them to be alive again, even if it requires massive willful ignorance on his part.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
There have been at least a couple stories with Batman where he was basically unable to buy into the lie and accept happiness. Batman TAS did an episode, and Grant Morrison wrote a storyline with that premise in his JLA run. Of course, Grant idolizes Batman.

Barudak
May 7, 2007

The Justice League episode where it shows Batmans fantasy is his dad beating up joe chill and as Superman takes off the mind control from Batmans face Batmans dad starts to lose the fight then gets killed again is some good rear end imagery.

Also I blame this thread for making me listne to Thrill Kill Kult and I am super glad I was too young/not into that scene of music.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!
Oh hey, I had read Blood Music when I was little. Well, the short version, maybe.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

I was definitely referencing the story Dallbun mentioned but it's clearly a premise that gets reused multiple times.

the funniest thing to me is that batman is rarely the one that solves the riddle. deep down, he's still a scared kid who just watched his parents die and he's willing to basically accept anything that allows them to be alive again, even if it requires massive willful ignorance on his part.

It makes sense in that case in particular simply because Batman doesn't have powers, and while he does make an effort to understand superpowers of his allies and enemies and how to counter them, he doesn't really think of them as an aspect of someone's being.

And it depends; BTAS had an episode where Batman was trapped in a mental world where his parents had never been murdered, he's happily married to Selina Kyle, and there's even a Batman out there protecting Gotham of his own accord. It started breaking down pretty quick because he couldn't accept it. (also because anything he tried to read was weird and illegible, hinting that it was a dream)

On that note, does give me some interesting ideas for using mind control and such things on PCs both as a puzzle and exploration of their personality. (the key thing about making 'it was all a dream' plots not infuriating is to have the dream be interesting in as of itself and provide its own story and resolution advancing the character development. Also, you still get experience from it.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

Inescapable Duck posted:

On that note, does give me some interesting ideas for using mind control and such things on PCs both as a puzzle and exploration of their personality. (the key thing about making 'it was all a dream' plots not infuriating is to have the dream be interesting in as of itself and provide its own story and resolution advancing the character development. Also, you still get experience from it.)

Also, if someone is actively having some kind of mystical experience, this is a good time to have a few actual plot points slip through, too. Little things the person mesmerizing the PC doesn't realize they're letting slip.

As long as people feel like they got the chance to explore something, learned something, and maybe also accomplished something most players will be fine with 'most of what just happened wasn't real'.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Inescapable Duck posted:

It makes sense in that case in particular simply because Batman doesn't have powers, and while he does make an effort to understand superpowers of his allies and enemies and how to counter them, he doesn't really think of them as an aspect of someone's being.

And it depends; BTAS had an episode where Batman was trapped in a mental world where his parents had never been murdered, he's happily married to Selina Kyle, and there's even a Batman out there protecting Gotham of his own accord. It started breaking down pretty quick because he couldn't accept it. (also because anything he tried to read was weird and illegible, hinting that it was a dream)

On that note, does give me some interesting ideas for using mind control and such things on PCs both as a puzzle and exploration of their personality. (the key thing about making 'it was all a dream' plots not infuriating is to have the dream be interesting in as of itself and provide its own story and resolution advancing the character development. Also, you still get experience from it.)

and the reason behind the villain doing it wasn't really to break batman down, or to faciliate a plot - he's just scared shitless of Batman and wants to not jump at every shadow.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 20d: Merretika

Here we finally are: a third of the way into the book and we finally get to the central location.

Merretika exists in an enclosed dome about 320 km in diameter and 130 km high at the tallest point. Floating just below the top of the dome is Helephez, a tiny sun that lights and warms the whole realm.

There are six available entrances to Merretika. Four of them are just generic caves so we don't need to talk about them (even though the book does). The other two are connected to both the Living Land and the Nile Empire, so those get some more detail.

The direct connection to the Living Land is The Great Waterfall.

quote:

The source of the waterfall had been a subterranean river, but just a few months ago Rec Pakken created a giant chasm in Michigan, and used a permanent
dimthread connection to connect to Merretika.
The Waterfall itself is about 300 km tall before it actually hits the dome itself, at which point there's still a 60 km drop into The Lake of the Giver, at which point the water flow splits into Merretika's three primary rivers. Interestingly, no information is given in how someone is supposed to survive the trip down the falls, because this section is literally only two paragraphs long.

Because we need to give a complete page over to The Nile Pit! The Nile entrance to the caves is a nearly perfectly circular 5,000 km pit dug straight down from the Land of the Dead. The top of the pit is surrounded by mining areas and staging areas, used by Mobius to move troops down into Merretika itself. This is handled by a specially designed levitation device, which is really just a large round platform under a giant ray that has the flight power built into it; the platform can carry about 60,000 kg of supplies, but the trip takes about 20 hours.

Oh, and since this is a Nile device? Yeah.


That's strange, my eye just started twitching.

Because God loving forbid we just have a thing that doesn't have mechanics attached to it. Bear in mind that there's a whole page of text dedicated solely to the background and day-to-day use of this thing.

quote:

The Nile expedition uses a backpack radio to command the operator. Each trooper carries a flashlight and a radio; once he has passed through the Land Below pure zone he turns on the flashlight to see how far down the cave floor is. Once the bottom is spotted, he radios for the operator to slow the flight speed. Both the flashlight and the radio only cause short-range contradictions in the Land Below dominant zone. There is a slight margin of error (due to the intricacies of the machine and human error), so delicate goods cannot be sent down unless they are well-packed.

And once again, since nothing in Torg is presented in no sort of real order, we get to a brief description of Helephez, the miniature sun. The various races in Merretika all worship it as the creator of the universe.

Here's the thing, though. Helephez, the sun...has a stat block.

No, really.



That's the sun's stat block. Not listed in the block itself is that the sun attacks with a spiritual attack that's about twice as damaging as a direct mortar shell.

Now, the book does explicitly say that the sun is actually a creature, which does nothing but just hang in the sky and provide a perpetual day.

But.

You know how we talk about how rules-as-physics lead to all sorts of ridiculous edge cases, like how Aylsih Ords have a pretty decent chance of killing themselves when casting utilitarian spells? This is even worse, because it raises so many ridiculous questions and scenarios.

To start with, why make the sun a creature in the first place? What does that add? What does it accomplish? What's the point?

But then we look at the stats. They're really just there to provide difficulties for social attacks and spells, but again these just raise ridiculous outcomes. You could potentially bluff the sun. Or "stymie" it. You could maneuver around it and distract it.

Except that it's unintelligent. The Mind stat is lower than an animal's. Again, all it does is hang in a specific spot in the sky. It's just...there.

So why give it stats?

Seriously, what's the point? Were they honestly worried that PCs were going to get up there somehow (no idea how; there's no tech and barely any magic) and try to blow up the sun? Was that a concern?

90's design. I don't miss it.

But anyway. We're finally in Merretika.


Biomes!

The domed world is comprised of various different biomes under a perpetual day. There is no night, no seasons, no other types of weather except "hot day" and the occasional light rain.

The three largest land types are the savanna that takes up the rough middle of the dome, the dense jungle to the "north" of it, and the mountains and volcanoes to the "south".

(Directions like north and south don't really make sense in Merretika, since compasses don't work and the concept of cardinal directions doesn't exist for the native tribes. The terms are just used relative to the provided map for convenience.)

There's not really much to talk about in terms of generalities here, even though the book goes into just over a page telling us what savannas, jungles, and mountains are. The only real thing to note here are the volcanic fields in the mountains, which (in accordance with standard Lost World procedures) are always either erupting, have lava flows, or are at least billowing smoke.

We do get some description of the various rivers and lakes, though. The main body of water is the Lake of the Giver at the base of the Great Waterfall, from which the three main rivers flow. There's the River with no Bottom, which is chock full of whirlpools and waterfalls until it hits the volcanic lands; the Tall River, which is completely uninteresting; and the Leopard River, which is only notable because it has crocodile-like creatures in it.

And if it seems like I'm rushing through this part, it's only because I am. This stuff is actually more boring to write about than it is to read, because there's really nothing to talk about. We're about to get into some actual points of interest, but after 35 pages of who gives a poo poo it's hard to muster up any enthusiasm.


I'm pretty sure you shouldn't get your exposed cyberware wet.

So let's talk about some of the Landmarks you can explore.

In the "western" part of the realm is Misty Gorge, a kilometer-deep canyon at the end of the Tall River. Nobody knows what (if anything) is at the bottom of the gorge; the only local tribe who's spent any time near the place are the Darooni (who we'll get to next chapter), and they consider the place cursed. The humidity and waterfall make climbing into the gorge incredibly difficult, and the mists from the churning water make navigation difficult for people using magic or aircraft. And...that's pretty much it.

Huh. For a point of interest, that's not that interesting.

The largest volcano in the realm is Tanta Kallar, with a height of 1,500 meters. Another of the native tribes, the Pyrians, make their homes on the side of the volcano and have built their temple over the top of it.

At the end of the River with No Bottom is Smoke Canyon, a roiling mess of natural gasses and toxic fumes that will quickly kill anyone dumb enough to get too close. Even 60 meters away the fumes start to affect people, and at the canyon itself the gasses are strong enough to kill in under a minute.

Up in the northwestern part of the realm is the Abominari Temple, which is...different.

quote:

It is obviously the product of the Law of Wonders, with a trio of floating obelisks which revolve around a central point once every 16 earth hours. The obelisks float about two meters off the ground and are made of a shiny black and very hard (Toughness 21) stone. They are about four meters high and are covered with carved runes. Apparently growing out of the bottom of each obelisks are several long roots: at the base of the obelisk, they seem almost to be made of stone, but the ends are flexible and definitely plant-like.
Oh, neat, that sounds pretty cool! Too bad there's no information about what's here apart from one monster that lives nearby. That's it. What, you expected something interesting? Or something you could actually use in-game? You must be new here, then.

Just at the edge of the dome is the Nile Empire Outpost, which is the staging area for all Nile operations in the realm.


Wow, a point of interest that's actually interesting!

From here, Field Major Achmed Tunakakan maintains a very shaky peace with the local Ohibi tribal village by dint of a "don't come near us and we won't burn your villages to the ground" policy. And even then, there's no guarantee he'd win in that scenario; he only has a force of about a dozen soldiers. Yeah, they have "modern" weapons, but that's still not a lot of people. Achmed has been smuggling extra supplies down the lift, but hasn't given Mobius any real details apart from "we found a giant domed world down here."

If Ahmed learns about The Sphere, though, his plans will probably change in a heartbeat. The Sphere is a large hollow globe embedded in the earth, big enough to hold a dozen or so people if they're really good friends. There's a person-sized hole in the side, through which someone can crawl. Meditating in the Sphere for 24 hours while holding a sliver of it will imbude the sliver with Possibility energy.

See, the Sphere is an eternity shard. In fact, it's the largest known eternity shard, with a capacity of "thousands" of points of P-energy. Possiblities stored in the shards can only be used within 150 km of the Sphere, and can only be used to boost combat rolls, but if someone with designed on conquest of the realm learned about it, it'd probably be a pretty high priority. Not to mention that regardless of anything else it's a powerful eternity shard, so many High Lords would want to get their hands on it. Especially Mobius, given that he can turn eternity shards into weapons.

Lastly, there's Ohibi Temple. This temple is one of those "you can't find it unless you know where it is" types of places. There's not much here to talk about apart from noting that the leader of the Ohibi uses shards from the Sphere here to power one of his people's more important miracles.

And...that's it.

--

Someone around here (sadly, I don't remember who) once said that setting material generally falls into two categories: stuff you use in-game, and bathroom reading material for the GM.

Most of this chapter falls into the later category, and is further complicated by not even being interesting reading. We finally get some details on places you can go, but aren't given any reason to go there, or even told anything beyond a surface description. There's only one place that can really be considered a plot hook (the Nile outpost), but there's no detail there that can be spun into a game. What's Ahmed's personal goal? How far has he explored? Is he loyal to Mobius, or is he interested in forming his own kingdom down here? You got me, because the book doesn't tell you anything about him.

What this chapter really drives home is how pointless this book is. There's nothing interesting to look at down here because it's all just...generic. We get two weird temples and they maybe get two paragraphs each. Yet describing a jungle gets about half a page because who knows.

NEXT TIME: Just a bunch of indigenouses

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Realm of the Ice Queen

In which we learn why Hags are a bit awkward mechanically

Arcane Magic is a feminine art. Having to contend with the forces of evil for so long, the people of Kislev have adapted to using magic themselves in ways that will keep them further from the Realm of Chaos and drawing more upon the purer power of land and leyline. They believe, in all sincerity, that any male wielder of arcane magic will eventually be drawn to pride, ambition, and anger and dragged down by the dark forces that surround their country. This belief is held by men and women both, and they watch the new Imperial colleges with significant worry. Color Magic not only permits both men and women to study it (something both Hag and Witch would agree is a bad idea) but also draws upon a much less reliable way to protect the user against Chaos, by splitting the magic into aspects and colors. Much better to call upon the land. Divine Magic can be practiced by anyone, but priests with magical power tend to be men. This split between Arcane and Divine as gendered magic is unique to Kislev. Their casting traditions for Divine magic work exactly like Imperial ones, just with different Gods and different spells like Dazh's orbital laser cannon (we'll get to that). Arcane magic, though, works very differently on a mechanical level.

Hags do not use the Channeling skill because they are not using the Winds of Magic at all, not themselves. They are calling to and cajoling the Spirits, magical creatures that are neither of this world nor of the Realm of Chaos. These manifestations of the Land are fickle and respect age, and so as a sign of their favor they tend to slowly make the woman calling them older and older. They may grant tremendous vitality, though; some Hags will be completely immortal, and totally unimpeded by their creaking joints and blackened teeth. Since they are bargaining with and commanding entities, Hags use Command the way normal mages use Channeling. This means Fellowship can be very important, and also means an experienced Hag will be a great leader who knows how to get bull-headed and fickle people to behave just as well as she handled bull-headed and fickle spirits. It takes a Half-Action just like Channeling, but if the Hag fails the test by 30 or more, she causes a backlash by the angry spirits.

Hags also cannot use their magic without using Ingredients. While a normal wizard could use all sorts of odd spell components to boost their casting roll, a Hag has to have her potions and strange talismans to work her curses and blessings. The ingredient will still boost the casting roll as listed, it just isn't optional for Hags. If a Hag tries to cast a spell and all her dice come up 1, she has to make a Willpower test to hold off the spirits. If she fails, she immediately gains a Witch Mark (we'll go over these in a moment) as they leave a trace upon her body and soul. If she fails by 30 or more, she also suffers a backlash.

If a Hag gets doubles, triples, or messes up those various tests by 30+, she causes the aforementioned spiritual backlash. If the spell still would've gone off from the casting roll, the Hag still casts the spell, she just also suffers the backlash from angry and fickle creatures. They may get bored and refuse to grant you more spells, they may curse you, they may stun you or force you to spend an extra half-action casting, they may appear and actually attack you for a time (and considering Dryads count as spirits and are the kind of thing that can potentially challenge a second tier fighter in single combat, this might be real bad), or dark power might leak through and cause you to roll a 'normal' wizardly miscast. They do mention a weaker witch should draw much weaker spirits if she pisses them off, at least.

Hags also get a special ability: While a normal mage can sense the presence of magic, Hags (including simple Wise Women in their first career) are especially sensitive to the presence of Chaos. They automatically and passively get a Magical Sense test to get a sense of foreboding whenever they are near something that bears the mark of the Dark Gods, even if the evil powers are trying to hide it. With an extra DoS, they can sense the direction and rough location of what's making them nervous. With 2 DoS, they can tell exactly what is wrong and where it is. If Baba Nadia says not to go into the spooky basement, the party had better drat well not go into the spooky basement.

Hags are really flavorful and cool, their problem is just that they don't get their actual lore until their 3rd career, so by the time you can actually curse people or force people to drink fish guts to cure their diseases (totally works, it's magic) you're a long way into a campaign, so it can be a little awkward. The Chaos Detection thing is a nice bonus, especially if a Wise Woman goes into the non-spellcasting routes they can go into instead; it'll make her token Magical Sense all the more potentially useful. Using Command in place of Channeling is a neat bit of flavor with the hidden bonus of making the Hag better at dealing with other people. We'll get to their actual spells after we cover the special parts of Ice Witches.

Next: Ice Witch Mechanics

Barudak
May 7, 2007

Im so glad Torg lets me roleplay investigating such wild things as “a river” and “a gorge” finally a game captures the adrenaline of a summer vacation to the american southwest.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.

Inescapable Duck posted:

And it depends; BTAS had an episode where Batman was trapped in a mental world where his parents had never been murdered, he's happily married to Selina Kyle, and there's even a Batman out there protecting Gotham of his own accord. It started breaking down pretty quick because he couldn't accept it. (also because anything he tried to read was weird and illegible, hinting that it was a dream)

Watching this episode led to me having my only lucid dream. Unfortunately, it turns out you are pretty dumb while asleep.


Evil Mastermind posted:

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


That's strange, my eye just started twitching.

Wait. Does this diagram have mechanical meaning in the system?

In the Invisible Sun contest I literally made a system where I had to explain electrical circuits 101 before you could actually play the game, as a joke. But this is a real thing, in a real game?

Barudak
May 7, 2007

DalaranJ posted:

Watching this episode led to me having my only lucid dream. Unfortunately, it turns out you are pretty dumb while asleep.


Wait. Does this diagram have mechanical meaning in the system?

In the Invisible Sun contest I literally made a system where I had to explain electrical circuits 101 before you could actually play the game, as a joke. But this is a real thing, in a real game?

100% Real. If you want to make super-science technology that only works in one of the many planes of reality of the game you need to learn magical electrical engineering. Don't worry if you were bad at that and conceptual physics was more your thing because thats what another plane of reality's magic system is based on.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


Don't worry, all of that nonsense is for older models. This year's model of the levitation unit requires you to have a basic knowledge of Thévenin and Norton equivalent circuits.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:

Grimey Drawer


Part Two: Building a Roster, or "How to quantify bad life decisions"

Character creation in Kayfabe is pretty quick, which is good because you’re going to be doing a lot of it. Setting up a wrestling promotion requires a Talent Pool, and the game recommends each player create from 4 to 10 characters. Most of these characters will be wrestlers, but there are also Valets, Managers, and it’s even possible to do Untrained Talent- people like commentators, backstage interviewers, etc.



Pictured here, backstage interviewer Renee Young being awesome.

Wrestlers themselves are divided into four categories. At the lowest rank on the pole are Backyard Wrestlers. Yes, the game actually does support playing a backyard federation, which is interesting when you consider that Backyard Wrestling is itself a kind of full-contact LARPing. Of course if you’re not playing a yard fed there’s no real point to these guys. Wrestling Students are still learning the ropes, literally- these guys will mostly show up if the promotion is a Wrestling School (as many small promotions are), but an indie fed might use them to job out as well. Starting Wrestlers are what the game says most of your Talent Pool should consist of, but the game also recommends each player create at least one Experienced Wrestler.

If you remember the intro paragraph, the game basically defaults to an assumption that you’re running an indy fed, big enough to have actual shows and PPVs but not quite where the big boys play. Here, the game establishes that further by saying any Experienced Wrestlers you create should have some reason they’re slumming it- they’re past their prime, they just don’t have Heat, etc.

Valets and Managers being distinct threw me a bit. They serve a very similar role, they’re someone who stands in the wrestler’s corner during a match and often interferes on their behalf or causes some other ruckus. The main difference is the real job of the Manager is to speak for their wrestler- they’re often paired up with people who aren’t used to the mic yet, or can’t speak English, or whatever, to help them get over. A good example in current wrestling is Paul Heyman, who “manages” Brock Lesnar in WWE- Heyman spits fire on the mic, and Lesnar just has to stand there and look intimidating. Managers often have some wrestling experience themselves, not the least because their job often leads to them being choke slammed, thrown over the ropes, etc.



RIP

Valets don’t do a lot of talking, they’re mostly there just for support- the common sight is a beautiful woman acting as arm candy for a male wrestler, which inevitably leads to romantic subplots, betrayals, and similar drama. But male valets are also often there as flunkies, personal ring announcers, human shields, etc. (Another current WWE example, the wrestler Carmella has her boyfriend James Ellsworth, a goofy-looking schlub of a guy who she has taken to leading around on a leash and guys I’m thinking Vince McMahon may have some issues.)

Sticking with wrestlers for now, you’re first asked to do some thinking about their background, general backstory stuff like their goals, friends, enemies, etc. You should name three people important to them, and describe the main thing they consider important as well- whether it’s proving yourself, becoming a star, having a good time, etc. You then pick a couple of Trademark moves and your Finisher- these don’t really make a difference mechanically.

Next we get into Traits, of which there are four: Wrestling, Work Rate, Mic Skills, and Clout. The way most rolls work in this game is, you roll a number of d6s equal to your Trait, and if any of them are 6, you succeed. There are also opposed rolls- these are decided by who rolled the most 6s, and if that’s not enough then by who has the highest total, and after that the Booker decides. The game does say that most rolls will be for Wrestling, so there may be an issue of one stat being the best to have, but we’ll see.

Wrestling is mostly about the technical aspects, how good you can execute moves and sell your opponent’s, etc. Work Rate might be better termed “psychology”- how well you read a crowd and tell a story in the ring. It also represents how much other wrestlers trust you in the ring. Mic Skills are your acting ability, and Clout is your influence behind the scenes, how well you throw your weight around.

A Starting Wrestler gets 12 points to buy Traits. Untrained and Students get 6, Backyardigans get 4, Valets 8, and Managers and Experienced Wrestlers both get 18 and are the only people who can buy Traits higher than 5 with these starting points.

And now, Assets & Flaws! Because of course there are!

These are bought on a one-for-one basis- for every Asset you want, you have to take a Flaw. This is the game’s biggest mechanical weakness, since they’re not balanced 1-for-1, and some are clearly more impactful than others. There are also some that really only serve to raise or lower Traits- that does let you vary things beyond what the initial point totals and limits allow, but that’s it. Some traits let you take them more than once, with a cumulative effect.

The game also says that the Booker may award or take away Assets or Flaws as a result of roleplaying, to reflect things changing, which is… I dunno, may be best to let the player decide.

Listing all of these would take a long rear end time, and a lot of them involve mechanics that haven’t been described yet. Flaws come first since this is a sleazy carny business, and can represent things like addictions, constantly risking injury in the ring, having burned bridges in the industry, having a contagious disease, etc. There are also some that are just bland, like Bad On The Stick, which just lowers Mic Skills by 1. Some don’t have obvious mechanical effects- Limited Availability just means there’s a specific reason the wrestler won’t always be free (travel restrictions, has another job, etc.), and Poor Judgement just means you’re prone to making bad decisions (note: this is almost everyone in the wrestling business.)

There are some I find particularly interesting, though. A Dirt Sheet Target has one or more major wrestling fan publications out to get him (maybe for legitimate reasons)- they continually trash him in the press and watch out for you making waves in the locker room. This means anytime you want to spend Clout you lose Heat. A character with Fan Disdain just gains less Heat from every match- whatever you do the crowd just doesn’t like you. Fan Expectations means they expect too much, because you’re a legacy or come from some other sport or whatever, so whenever you fail a Wrestling roll you lose more Heat than you would. (There’s also a promotion-side version of this, Unrealistic Expectations, where you lose Clout when you screw up.) There’s even Negative Phantom Heat, which represents the promotion thinking that you’re less popular and deserving than you are, and that affects how much you get paid and your backstage Clout.

Assets are not quite as sexy, and also fairly wide ranging- from things like Acting Experience, being an Aerial Tactician (which gives you a bonus when performing moves off the top rope), being Financially Secure, or being Canadian. Yep- Canada has a reputation for great wrestlers, so being or even pretending to be Canadian lets you start off with an additional 5 Heat. I kinda like this. You can even start off with a spouse higher up in the company. On the downside there are still some bland ones, like “Match Psychology” which just gives you a point of Work Rate. Again I can see a role for this mechanically- if it’s important to you, you can start with a Trait higher than 5- but eh.

So basically, yeah, this is a very 2003-ish thing for a game to have, and like a lot of asset/flaw systems from around this time it's not precisely balanced and some of them are just writing down "is X". Oddly enough, when we get to promotion creation, things get a little more rigorous, so maybe Gwinn didn't feel he had time to rebalance the character creation part. That said, it's quite workable and prompts you to think about the person behind the character they're playing.

This is going long enough, so next post I’ll break things up with some examples! Suggest wrestlers, managers, on-screen personalities, etc.! I mean, there’s one I’m absolutely going to stat up, but any suggestions on your part will be glowingly appreciated.

Next Up: Examples and Finishing off Chargen

Maxwell Lord fucked around with this message at 06:55 on Nov 10, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
Idunno if this is represented mechanically, but a difference between managers and valets is that heel managers can receive violent comeuppance so that the wrestler they're managing is "defeated" without looking weak. Female valets don't get beaten up unless the promotion is being really gross.

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Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:

Grimey Drawer

Halloween Jack posted:

Idunno if this is represented mechanically, but a difference between managers and valets is that heel managers can receive violent comeuppance so that the wrestler they're managing is "defeated" without looking weak. Female valets don't get beaten up unless the promotion is being really gross.

Yeah but male valets (like Ricardo Rodriguez, Alberto Del Rio's personal ring announcer in WWE for a while) get kicked around all the time.

Mechanically the main difference is just that managers get a lot more points for traits, which actually kinda makes sense since valets tend to be either fully non-wrestling personalities or wrestlers who are still learning. Kimberly Page, for example, couldn't wrestle much or even talk terribly well, but she was there to look pretty and that she did.

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