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Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Nuns with Guns posted:

I could get making the monsters ultra deadly to set a tone (but why bother treating them as combat enemies at all when being escape-or-die fail conditions would get the whole miserable affair over with sooner?)

Then the adventures treat every enemy as a D&D combat encounter you're expected to beat in order to advance/nab loot, and you start seeing how approaching genres and settings with rules designed for high fantasy dungeon crawling was a terrible idea that poisoned the well for a long, long time.

the other thing is that the setting as presented had incoherent internal logic, which makes every other facet really have to shine on its individual merits. Since d20 combat is already a well documented cluster gently caress of poorly executed systems, expecting the combat to carry its own weight was unrealistic at best.

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Nuns with Guns
Jul 23, 2010

....?


Freaking Crumbum posted:

the other thing is that the setting as presented had incoherent internal logic, which makes every other facet really have to shine on its individual merits. Since d20 combat is already a well documented cluster gently caress of poorly executed systems, expecting the combat to carry its own weight was unrealistic at best.

Seriously, before that review I wouldn't have guessed that anyone could gently caress up "space prison falls into hell and everyone fights demons" as a game premise in so many surprising ways

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Nuns with Guns posted:

Seriously, before that review I wouldn't have guessed that anyone could gently caress up "space prison falls into hell and everyone fights demons" as a game premise in so many surprising ways

All they had to do was be Space The Suffering. That's all they had to do. The Suffering: In Space is a game I would play.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk






Chapter 6: The Illuminati - Finally, Church and the (Evil) G8 Summit




Both of these groups are pretty one dimensional and consequently this makes them fairly predictable. You get exactly what you'd expect from reading the label on the tin, and the only real mystery is why they were even included if they were going to be so anemically fleshed out. The Final Church later gets its own source book / adventure module, but AFAIK the Bilderbergers don't receive any follow-up support after their little blurb.



Ohhhhh it's a black pentagram these dudes must be hardcore scary and powerful whoaaaaaa!

Occult Masters: The Final Church - They're the nameless bad guy mooks that you can throw at your players and that your players can kill without any moral quandaries. The membership is mostly composed of what Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell thought rock & roll music and D&D would do to your average teenager in the 80's. Thrill kill cults, psychopaths, serial killers, lone highway murderers, all of these colorful individuals and more comprise the membership of the Final Church. I guess the only interesting thing here is that the book acknowledges that although almost none of these groups are directly associated with each other, all of their murders and bizarre rituals all tend to follow very similar methods and patterns, as if each of these isolated groups is somehow being masterminded by a much more purposeful, malevolent intelligence (they totally are, and it's The Devil). Permanently stamping out the Final Church is thus extremely unlikely, because each individual cell of these fuckers operates more or less independently, and a thwarting the plans of one group to blow up a school bus full of nuns and puppies in Boston won't really impact a different group's plan to kidnap and ritualistically murder everyone that's left handed in Des Moines.

HQ & Branches: The Bohemian Grove, near San Francisco CA (because why not, a group that's explicitly a decentralized network of anti-social psychopaths would absolutely have a declared, central base of operations).

Power & Resources: Occult tomes, spells and artifacts, followers that are either deranged enough or have been brainwashed to willingly engage in suicidal maneuvers, "vast monetary resources" (:confused: how? from what?).

Followers: "Hundreds of thousands" (:confused: again! how in the gently caress?).

Secret Knowledge: Mastery of Diabolism FX is really their only specialization.

Primary Goal: World Domination!

Common Missions: Kidnapping, ritual murder, drug trafficking, human slave trade, organ legging; basically anything that you could qualify as indisputably Evil.



Enjoy some randomly placed flavor art! The choice to include this picture in this chapter is just as incomprehensible as the content of the image.



This is the only art that these guys get because their conspiracy is as removed from the public eye as possible.

Wealth of Nations: Bilderbergers - Each February, the membership of the Bilderberg conspiracy convene a summit at some extremely exclusive and posh hotel and they spend a week charting what they believe will be the course of humanity for the coming year. The conspiracy is comprised of the ultra wealthy and elite, people so rich that you've literally never heard of them because they've completely removed themselves from public scrutiny. They're the stereotype "council of impossibly rich people that believe that everyone that is poorer than they are merely pawns to be used and abused in whatever manner they see fit" and I guess in that capacity they successfully fill their niche.

The most interesting tidbit of information that gets dropped midway through their write-up is that, due to their extensive monetary connections as hedge fund managers and usurers and money launderers, they've actually got financial ties with both the Greys and the Sandmen (we still don't know anything about this group) and they can leverage the assistance and the technology of either of those Stranger conspiracies to accomplish any given mission. This conspiracy is literally the clique of cool kids from high school that will always have a cooler car, flashier clothing and more exciting sexual prospects than you do; they're the Batmans and Ironmans of the superhero genre, where being fabulously wealthy is always the most OP super power. Seriously though, having access to both Grey and Sandman tech means that their agents, while certainly not the most numerous, are arguably the best equipped out of all of the terrestrial conspiracies.

HQ & Branches: Two shared primary headquarters, one in New York and one in Amsterdam.

Power & Resources: More money than God and access to the kind of future technology that other conspiracies can only dream about.

Followers: Estimated to be less than 1300 people all told, but they're the best equipped 1300 people that money can buy.

Secret Knowledge: They control the world's financial markets and have working knowledge of futuristic alien tech.

Primary Goal: World Domination!

Common Missions: Manipulation of stocks, currencies, futures; really any kind of financial market. Maintaining relationship with Greys and Sandmen to keep their awesome future tech flowing into Bilderberg hands. Social engineering on a global scale, in order to prepare humanity to accept their rightful place of subservience beneath their Bilderberg overlords.


NEXT TIME: The United Nations and the U.S. Federal Government.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


I've also run the module in The Final Church, Web of Evil, and it's got probably the most taxing section of an rpg module I've played or run. There's a part where you are in an abandoned hospital wing trying to rescue some children captured by the cult of Belphegor (okay Baal-Phegor but same difference) and a whole bunch of the cultists are disguised as entirely normal hospital employees and pretend to be just that until they think they're in a good position to harm the party. But it's not like the PCs can just waste them on sight because they have no reason to believe there might NOT be some employees held hostage.

Holy poo poo thinking about Web of Evil makes me want to write a follow-up where his next plan is to get libertarians to mine PhegorCoin (actually solving demon-summoning formulas to call him into the world).

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.




INTRODUCTION

Horror on the Orient Express, first published in 1991 for CoC 4th edition, is a classic award-winning big box campaign that's considered one of the classics of the game alongside Masks of Nyarlathotep. Aboard the famous Simplon Orient Express, investigators go on a massive tear across Europe in search of the pieces of the Sedefkar Simulacrum, fighting cultists and monsters every step of the way. The original box set has become something of a rare collector's item, but it was brought back by Kickstarter in 2014 for 7th edition with several totally new scenarios added. It's considered by many to be one of the best RPG campaigns ever written.

Is it? Well…

Even back in the 90s, HotE was criticised for being (unsurpisingly) extremely railroady. The new edition has included a bunch of advice to accommodate the investigators loving with the carefully laid-out story, but it's not enough. The scenarios are full of setpieces that make for great horror literature but as gaming essentially require the players to sit there and listen to you talk at them; some of the worst parts of the campaign have awful things happening around them that they're given absolutely no power to change. On top of that, it's an extremely deadly campaign, with something like a 70% investigator attrition rate if you don't pull your punches.

That aside, it's still a fantastically written campaign with scenes that you and your players will probably remember for the rest of your lives. Get ready for, in no particular order: brutal cult-on-cult violence, magic train sets, vampires, the Baba Yaga, blackshirts, olms, dragons, animal chimerae, clockworks, a night at the opera, a journey through the Dreamlands, the ghost of Johann Winckelman and truly horrific amounts of skin.



The books supplement the black-and-white art of the first edition with historical photographs. It's great.

What's in the box?

The HotE PDF set will run you like $60 and then uh, exponentially more if you actually wanted the hardcovers in a box (which doesn't in fact seem to be available at the moment?). But for your money you're getting a lot of product here. The scenarios themselves are spread across three books, with another three books giving you a campaign guide, handouts and a set of NPCs you can have appearing on the train. There's also maps of Europe showing the route of the Express (and air routes if your players are smartasses, but more on that later), maps of the major stops for both the keeper and players, maps of the individual train cars, an Orient Express travel companion and a little Sedefkar Simulacrum prop for the players so they can keep track of the pieces. Like I said, a lot of product.

For this update, I'll be glossing over the campaign guide. A lot of it is pretty dry historical information – if you're really curious about the nitty-gritty of 1920s train travel, you can do your own research.



The Simplon Orient Express

The campaign guide opens up with a brief but informative history of the SOE, from its genesis by Georges Nagelmackers to its gradual decline in the late 70s. In the 20s where the main campaign takes place, the Express is the way to travel Europe. The name of the Express is synonymous with luxury and its passengers are the rock stars of European society – socialites, businessmen and even royalty are the kind of people investigators will be rubbing shoulders aboard the train. The Express line stretches from Paris to Constantinople with stops in pretty much every major city along the way. These places are where most of the action actually happens, with the Express serving as a kind of base of operations for the investigators.

There's a full guide to the operations of the train, including full descriptions of the train staff and their roles, details for every cab and carriage and a full list of the Express' stops and checkpoints. There's more than enough information here for the keeper to field any question the players might throw at them, including more esoteric details like the thickness of the carriage walls or the contents of the emergency equipment boxes. Particularly relevant to investigators is a discussion on travelling armed – handguns and shotguns are easily acquired and will pass through most customs with only small fees, but knives and other concealable melee weapons are considered low-class criminal weapons. And sorry to say, but the classic tommy-gun is an expensive import that's more trouble than it's worth.



There's also a surprisingly in-depth section on international air travel in 1923. There were plenty of trained pilots left over after the war, along with the aircraft and other pieces of infrastructure necessary to make commercial flights a reality. War planes like the Farman Goliath were converted to accommodate passengers, complete with in-flight refreshments. However, planes were also noisy, uncomfortable, under-heated and often required emergency landings. This is to say nothing of the potential disasters that could (and did) occur from trying to navigate the totally uncontrolled airspace.

Why's this section here? It's possible at one point or another that the players will bring up the possibility of flying to their destination, especially by the end of the campaign. The book's very forthcoming with all this period-relevant information, but doesn't actually give you much to work with if the players are dead-set on flying. The book suggests a few kinks you can throw in if you wanna try and get players back on the track, but I don't like this approach. My advice? Sit the players down and say, 'Listen, all the cool stuff is on the train, there's nothing I can do for you if you don't get on the train, the campaign has Orient Express in the title so please, pretty please, get on the loving train.'



The numbers between locations are the miles.

The Campaign Itself

HOTE is made up of 19 scenarios, 8 of which are optional and can be left out if so desired. Out of the optional scenarios, four of them happen in the same time-frame as the rest of the campaign and have logical places you can slot them in. Two of those take place entirely in the Dreamlands. The other four take place in a variety of alternate time periods from 330 AD to 2013. The 2013 scenario is meant to be a kind of coda to the rest of the campaign, but certain things the investigators do can trigger the others, like uncovering a certain journal.

For this review, I'll be covering every 1923 scenario in chronological order, saving the alternate time period ones for the end.

The investigators start in London then travel through France, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and finally Constantinople, then back again. They are running a tight schedule and will have at most a few days in each city, but the game also recommends playing a little loose with the train schedules so that there's always an Orient Express train available when they need it (for the record, in the winter that the game takes place in there should only be three trains a week if you wanted full historical accuracy).



The Sedefkar Simulacrum

Over the course of the campaign, the investigators are trying to collect the various pieces of a Mythos statue called the Sedefkar Simulacrum. It's extremely ancient, probably pre-dating humanity, but much like the One Ring it wants to return to the area that's now becoming modern Turkey. It was unearthed in Byzantium and came into the hands of a crazy motherfucker named Sedefkar, who was the first to unlock its power and commune with the god he called the Skinless One (who is an avatar of our old buddy Nyarlathotep). He also wrote the Sedefkar Scrolls, a mad set of grimoires that taught him all of the wisdom he had learned from his god.

It's changed hands many times since the fall of Byzantium and has found many would-be owners who craved its power. All of them want it and will do whatever it takes to get it.



The Investigator Survival Guide

HOTE is absolutely brutal on investigators to the point that I've heard of one dude actually framing the sheet for a character who made it all the way to the end alive and sane. Between the constant physical danger and regular sanity-shattering horrors you'll be lucky if you finish with the same investigator you started with.In addition, there's multiple encounters that could end up a TPK if the players roll bad and the GM is particularly merciless. There's opportunities in a couple of the scenarios to pick up powerful magic artefacts, but while they're good I don't think they're game changers – plus both of them have hefty drawbacks.

One thing I did when I was setting up a game and which the book also recommends doing is to make a character with a backup in mind, some friend or relative who's in communication with the team and will be willing to pick up the slack if things go bad. There's also not one but two very capable NPCs shadowing the investigators for pretty much the entire adventure, either of whom could come through in a pinch to save the team's bacon. The book even suggests using rules from the pulpier Achtung! Cthulhu to make the PCs stronger.

For this adventure, all the CoC classics like Library Use and Charm are vital for survival, along with some combat skills for the latter scenarios when things get hairy. In addition, a good team will have a strong mix of languages – French is the lingua franca of the Express, but without a translator for each stop along the way investigations will become very difficult.

The book finishes with a couple of essays. The first, A Continent of Horrors, goes through every country in Europe and lists inspirational material and CoC books that use that country as a setting. Celluloid Train Horrors discusses the history of railways in horror fiction. Finally, there's a page of random newspaper headlines that the keeper can drop into the campaign like tavern rumours.

So that's the campaign book! Next update, we'll get right into the campaign proper.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Under the little-used “ante” rules of AD&D, once the players beat an encounter, they gain ownership of the card from

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 56: The Deck of Yuan-ti and Troglodytes

326: The First Wave

As the party are traveling through a path in the jungle, four yuan-ti pureblood priests (who, being purebloods, appear human) come and invite them to visit their temple just down the way and share news. They’ll get an adequate meal, good advice about how to avoid danger in the jungle, etc. The food’s not even poisoned! They will try to get the jump on the PCs and capture them for food, though. There’s already 20 priests who formerly manned the temple imprisoned below.

If the PCs decline, the purebloods will just try to capture them that night out in the jungle.

Well, it’s not inspired, but at least they’re not disguised as random beautiful jungle women. I’ve said keep for worse.


327: The Halfbreeds

In a dense jungle. Three yuan-ti halfbreeds live some caves nearby, and will ambush the party. The only clever twist here is that they’ll hide in the brush, wrap their tails around a long weapon like an axe or polearm, and have it sticking out of the brush over to the side of their body, hoping their enemies will attack the decoy and let the yuan-ti get the jump on them. Oh, and one has a scimitar +1 (the ultimate treasure), and they’re all wearing platinum amulets.

Is that enough to justify an encounter card? Eh. It does provide some nice linking suggestions, though - that the nearby caves might lead to the yuan-ti temples from 326: The First Wave or 328: The Dark Secret. I appreciate that there can be follow-up on-hand if the PCs poke around. Keep.


328: The Dark Secret

There’s a temple deep in the jungle dedicated to “an ancient reptilian elder god.” These snake-temples are all over the jungle, apparently. Four yuan-ti abominations live here and maintain it. They keep flocks of wingless birds as a foodstuff, which is a nice touch.

If the PCs camp nearby, the abominations will sneak out and try to murder them. As far as treasure goes, there are three tomes of revisionist yuan-ti history, which is awesome. The card says they’re only worth 100 gp each, though.

They’re clearly just checking off monsters here: yuan-ti purebloods, check. Halfbreeds, check. Abominations, check. However, yuan-ti historical propaganda is truly excellent treasure, and justifies this encounter all by itself. Snake-man manifest destiny. Snake-man phrenology. Snake-man conspiracy theories about how the handful of grubby mammals who defeated Lord Ssss-tharaj were actually the tools of a lizardmen plot, because it’s completely implausible that they could have pulled it off themselves. The possibilities are endless. Keep.


329: Invasion Force

Troglodytes have been attacking the humans in a small mountain town. They’ve hired the PCs “to lead a force against the loathsome reptiles.”

“The party may attempt a confrontation in two ways.” (And no more! Ain’t no room for your namby-pamby creativity or negotiation here!) They can ambush/intercept the raiding parties and they’ll give up after three bands of 12 troglodytes are killed, or they can go to the troglodytes’ lair and just murder all 90 of them at once. :black101:

“Successfully eliminating the tribe will lead to the troglodytes’ treasure trove, filled with 3,500 gp in silver, gold, and platinum pieces, pilfered during raids on the town.” (Obviously the troglodytes prioritize stealing human coinage, because ????.) “In addition, several personal items, such as portrait lockets and monogrammed bracelets, are present in the troglodyte coffers. The coins are impossible to trace, but if any party members are caught with the personal items, the entire party is run out of town with recompense for removing the troglodyte threat.”

Huh? What do they… what? Run out of town? How did the card writer think this was going to play out? What kind of Snidely Whiplash, mustache-twirling-evil party isn’t going to go right back to the town with the mementos and say “hey, we found these, you can have them back now”? It's not like they're valuable - they're portrait lockets and monogrammed bracelets owned by rural mountain folk!

I’m mostly uninspired, with a dash of confused, by this card. Pass.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 16:42 on Dec 13, 2017

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy


I've run the 2014 version of this campaign and I'm looking forward to reading this.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Dallbun posted:


329: Invasion Force

Troglodytes have been attacking the humans in a small mountain town. They’ve hired the PCs “to lead a force against the loathsome reptiles.”

“The party may attempt a confrontation in two ways.” (And no more! Ain’t no room for your namby-pamby creativity or negotiation here!) They can ambush/intercept the raiding parties and they’ll give up after three bands of 12 troglodytes are killed, or they can go to the troglodytes’ lair and just murder all 90 of them at once. :black101:

“Successfully eliminating the tribe will lead to the troglodytes’ treasure trove, filled with 3,500 gp in silver, gold, and platinum pieces, pilfered during raids on the town.” (Obviously the troglodytes prioritize stealing human coinage, because ????.) “In addition, several personal items, such as portrait lockets and monogrammed bracelets, are present in the troglodyte coffers. The coins are impossible to trace, but if any party members are caught with the personal items, the entire party is run out of town with recompense for removing the troglodyte threat.”

Huh? What do they… what? Run out of town? How did the card writer think this was going to play out? What kind of Snidely Whiplash, mustache-twirling-evil party isn’t going to go right back to the town with the mementos and say “hey, we found these, you can have them back now”? It's not like they're valuable - they're portrait lockets and monogrammed bracelets owned by rural mountain folk!

I’m mostly uninspired, with a dash of confused, by this card. Pass.

I really love how the residents of the town don't seem to want any of their money back, they just get irrationally angry if a group of murder hobos wanders back into town and doesn't immediately relinquish their sundry personal effects.

A) If the party is able to ascertain in the cave that the personal items are of little to no value, there's a 99% chance they don't even bother to truck them back out of the cave and

B) Okay residents of this small mountain town, you were beset by trogs in sufficient number that you couldn't kill them yourselves, found some murder hobos to do it for you, and now somehow you expect that you'll be able to drive away said murder hobos that were clearly powerful enough to murder 90 trogs in open combat? come the gently caress on, you're lucky they don't decide that they are now the boss of the town and that you're all their property

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!


Dallbun posted:

Under the little-used “ante” rules of AD&D, once the players beat an encounter, they gain ownership of the card from

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 56: The Deck of Yuan-ti and Troglodytes

You know, maybe that would actually make an interesting magical item. "Use" the card and instantly the encounter just forces itself, whether the players are in the right location or not, and no matter what's going on. In a tough fight against some enemies in the middle of a volcano? Play Card 327 and suddenly you're in a jungle fighting some chump Yuan-ti in the jungle instead, possibly dragging your volcano-themed enemies along into a location they're not prepared for, or maybe just suddenly relocating yourself to a safer position in the nearest Yuan-ti infested jungle.

ArkInBlack
Mar 22, 2013


PurpleXVI posted:

You know, maybe that would actually make an interesting magical item. "Use" the card and instantly the encounter just forces itself, whether the players are in the right location or not, and no matter what's going on. In a tough fight against some enemies in the middle of a volcano? Play Card 327 and suddenly you're in a jungle fighting some chump Yuan-ti in the jungle instead, possibly dragging your volcano-themed enemies along into a location they're not prepared for, or maybe just suddenly relocating yourself to a safer position in the nearest Yuan-ti infested jungle.

It 100% makes everyone nearby go through the encounter with the card activator acting as the GM for when they come up with ideas that go off script. This could work for a goofy one shot.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


DnD question: who created these chaotic evil races, or are they just result of some of the non-magical evolution that should still happen in DnDland?

Also, what does "hit dice" mean exactly? Like, chief trog is six hit dice while femtrog is 1+1 hit dice...

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


JcDent posted:

DnD question: who created these chaotic evil races, or are they just result of some of the non-magical evolution that should still happen in DnDland?
Both, but mostly the former. Most D&D evil races are directly inspired by other fantasy works, so it depends on what their deal was in the original work. Most of those were created by an evil god, evil wizard, evil wizard-god, or generic corrupting force, or were from an evil dimension. Some others were just races that were automatically bad guys due to some intrinsic quality, either a lack of "civilized" virtues or by being physically obligated to do some awful thing to survive. All types often were stand-ins for terrible racist stereotypes.

JcDent posted:

Also, what does "hit dice" mean exactly? Like, chief trog is six hit dice while femtrog is 1+1 hit dice...
In older versions of D&D, technically monster HP were also rolled, so monster stats had a number of dice (d8s) indicated. This was also a handy way to calculate certain spells effects - sleep could affect X hit dice of monsters, starting with the monsters with the lowest HD. Rolling dice for monster HP is however a pain, so statblocks started indicating a set HP alongside the HD. The HD was a vestigial element to make sure spells like sleep still worked, plus it provided a guide for the minimum and maximum HP for a monster if you needed to tweak it.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer


I've got a copy of the original edition still floating around. I'm still impressed with the quality of the handouts and props they managed to jam into that thin cardboard box.

Definitely looking forward to more of this review. :)

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




JcDent posted:

At least nothing is lost here, since neither Last Dance nor Satanis have a setting or idea that's interesting. Too bad about Starfinger (elves in spaaace!), Unhallow Metropolis (this one has an interesting setting... that's not explored), Abandon All Hope (giant prison ship crashes into hell) or Cthulhutech.
We've come full circle. Abandon All Hope is supposed to be CONEX Convict Connections: The Roleplaying Game. But it fails at that because it spirals downward, not into Lovecraftian madness, but into the authors' personal sex fantasies.

Empire of Satanis ought to be the sequel to CONEX after everyone has become an evil rear end heart-bitin' ghost motherfucker.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Comrade Gorbash posted:

In older versions of D&D, technically monster HP were also rolled, so monster stats had a number of dice (d8s) indicated.

So that 1+1 Hit Dice is 1d8+1 hit points, to be clear.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Battle Mad Ronin posted:

It is a streamlined retroclone with heavy metal aestethics, and a marketing strategy that masterfully plays on outrage.

I do not think you will ever get a more honest game than LotFP. Including, and not limited to “Yes, this game is garbage”. Getting mad at LotFP or calling it out on being in bad taste is 100% what you are meant to do, what appels to the audience and how the game is marketed. The game’s marketing strategy really is a work of such outstanding beauty it almost brings tears to my eyes. I remain convinced that James Raggi could have been the Don Draipier of the 21st century had he chosen to go into the ad buisness.

Comrade Gorbash posted:

I submit that the shock-jock, "own the libs" approach may be on purpose, but is still fundamentally terrible.

Also when you scratch past the surface of "people are taking this too seriously," you quickly realize the "this" isn't the game so much as sexism, harassment, rape culture, racism, and the whole gamut of socially regressive bullshit.

Raggi really made the whole concept of the OSR work for him. Originally, it was just about having free, accessible versions of old editions of D&D so that anyone could publish supplementary material for them. LotFP, as a rules document, is just a particular interpretation of B/X with some tweaks, some comments on 3-point alignment, and a skill system. As a platform for publishing supplements and adventures, it's 100% Garbage Dick.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!



Oh, thank you for this gift, I can already hear my girlfriend telling me stop laughing.

And thanks for the Hit Dice explanations. Sounds stupid, tbh, but I understand how someone with verisimilitude brain spiders would come up with it.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

JcDent posted:

And thanks for the Hit Dice explanations. Sounds stupid, tbh, but I understand how someone with verisimilitude brain spiders would come up with it.

It used to be - in the wargame tradition D&D is derived from - that a on a successful roll (a 'hit'), an attacking unit killed its target. Some units in Chainmail were supposed to be extra tough, so they required multiple hits. A Hero required two hits, and something as big and fierce as an Ogre would require four.

"Hit Dice" are these values all multiplied by 1d6. So instead of having 1 HP and inflicting 1 HP of damage to whatever it hits, your average soldier has 1d6 HP and inflicts 1d6 HP of damage on a hit. At a guess that change was made because even Gygax realized that losing your character to a single hit made for an uninteresting game.

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



PurpleXVI posted:

You know, maybe that would actually make an interesting magical item. "Use" the card and instantly the encounter just forces itself, whether the players are in the right location or not, and no matter what's going on. In a tough fight against some enemies in the middle of a volcano? Play Card 327 and suddenly you're in a jungle fighting some chump Yuan-ti in the jungle instead, possibly dragging your volcano-themed enemies along into a location they're not prepared for, or maybe just suddenly relocating yourself to a safer position in the nearest Yuan-ti infested jungle.

The player's arch nemesis is some kind of wild mage who apparates upon them, cackles just out of their reach, and then draws a card, throwing it down dramatically and suddenly warping the sunny autumn road they are traveling down into a river between two magic lakes polluted by a mad magic lab.

Emrikol
Sep 30, 2015


JcDent posted:

And thanks for the Hit Dice explanations. Sounds stupid, tbh, but I understand how someone with verisimilitude brain spiders would come up with it.

It's basically just level equivalent for NPCs for the purpose of determining hit points and saving throws. It's not a complex, esoteric concept.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




JcDent posted:

And thanks for the Hit Dice explanations. Sounds stupid, tbh, but I understand how someone with verisimilitude brain spiders would come up with it.
Hit Dice aren't a brain spider idea. It's an extremely "gamist" idea by guys who were cobbling together different design concepts from the wargames they had played. Like how Armor Class was adopted from a naval wargame. That looks weird in retrospect--even calling it "Armor Class" is peculiar. But it made perfect sense when the only thing affecting Armor Class was what type of armor you're wearing.

Now if you start writing essays about how Hit Dice are actually a perfect reflection of how wound trauma works, but healing surges ruin everything, that's the brain spiders at work.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


I think it's brain spidery because of variability. Why the hell do you need to have trog chieftain in the range of 6-48 HP instead of 32 HP if not to account for not all chieftains being the same (verisimilitude) or to keep players guessing.

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!


marshmallow creep posted:

The player's arch nemesis is some kind of wild mage who apparates upon them, cackles just out of their reach, and then draws a card, throwing it down dramatically and suddenly warping the sunny autumn road they are traveling down into a river between two magic lakes polluted by a mad magic lab.

<PC's> "But wait! This wild mage is your enemy as well as ours! We should team up against him!"

<Ogres> "We'd love to, but see, here, at the bottom-" [the Ogre hands the PC's the card] "-it says we fight to the death no matter what."

<PC's> "So, what, you're magically compelled to?"

<Ogres> "Oh, no, we've just got a very strong work ethic. We're not going to go off-script just because someone asked us to. We're hoping to set a good example for young ogres across the world, not to feel compelled to give in to stereotypes of being simple-minded and easily swayed."

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


LatwPIAT posted:

"Hit Dice" are these values all multiplied by 1d6. So instead of having 1 HP and inflicting 1 HP of damage to whatever it hits, your average soldier has 1d6 HP and inflicts 1d6 HP of damage on a hit. At a guess that change was made because even Gygax realized that losing your character to a single hit made for an uninteresting game.
I could swear it was 1d8, but it may be my own faulty memory. Or is it that the base Monster HD changed across versions?

EDIT: Also yeah, it looks weird when you examine it from our perspective, but if you track how it came into being each individual step makes sense. Eventually TSR took a step back, looked at it in total, and immediately identified it as a legacy mechanic that could be done more simply and more effectively. Unfortunately, game design became so quickly encrusted with cargo cult thinking and sacred cows that it took a long time for it to finally get sloughed off, and even then it caused plenty of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth from the "that's not how Gary did it!" (which really means "that's not how it was when I was 12!") crowd.

Comrade Gorbash fucked around with this message at 19:14 on Dec 13, 2017

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Comrade Gorbash posted:

I could swear it was 1d8, but it may be my own faulty memory. Or is it that the base Monster HD changed across versions?

The latter. OD&D is d6, AD&D is d8.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


JcDent posted:

I think it's brain spidery because of variability. Why the hell do you need to have trog chieftain in the range of 6-48 HP instead of 32 HP if not to account for not all chieftains being the same (verisimilitude) or to keep players guessing.

They never rolled hit dice for monsters in 3.5, They got max HP for their first HD and then the average for all the rest (2.5 on a d4, 3.5 on a d6, 4.5 on a d8, 5.5 on a d10, and 6.5 on a d12, rounding up I think)

PoontifexMacksimus
Feb 14, 2012



PurpleXVI posted:

Far as I know there's no rule that stuff has to wait a certain period before being reviewed. :v: I mean, obviously if you're pasting every page in the book into your review, yeah, it's a bit close to piracy, but if you're just snagging choice paragraphs or sentences that are interesting/broken/hilarious/important, it's no different from any other sort of Day 1 review, which I've yet to hear people try to claim is piracy.

So I'd say go right ahead.

Say, speaking of, would it be appropriate for the thread to show which Osprey paintings the art for that totes real olde English RPG you reviewed was copied from/based on?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


That just sounds needlessly confusing.

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



The Match, or Wrestlers Frequently Make Bad Decisions

It’s finally time to wrassle. The basic structure of wrestling in Kayfabe is that the players take turns narrating the match, and the dice are used to determine how well it plays with the crowd. Each segment of narration, and the Wrestling roll afterwards, is a Move Set. The book talks a little about how during a match, wrestlers are constantly communicating with each other. Typically the way it works is the person who is going on offense tells the opponent what move they’re going to do, so the opponent can get into the right position. (If you’ve ever watched a Botchamania video, the “Everybody Talks Too Much” segments are basically the ring mics picking up the chat between wrestlers.) Essentially at any given time one or another wrestler is “in control”, and so their player takes on the duty of narration. (If both wrestlers were created by the same player, the Booker plays one.) This whole section starts with some basic advice on how to do it- describe what the audience sees, have the action go back and forth (i.e. don’t give yourself all the offense), and stick to the booking sheet. It’s fairly similar to how it works in KYR or World Wide Wrestling.

The question is, who’s in control? Matches traditionally start with the Heel doing initial narration, though the book says this may vary. (Indeed, in actual wrestling, the heel is usually the one controlling the match.) The players may decide, or they can make an opposed Wrestling or Work Rate roll if they can’t.

Anyway once someone starts narrating, there are five things that can switch the narration to someone else. One is if the focus of a match moves away from the narrating wrestler- say, if it’s a tag match and the narrator’s wrestler tags out, they’re not really the focus anymore.

A wrestler may try to Seize Control of the narrative, once per Move Set. They can do this if the narrator is making the wrestler do things they wouldn’t normally do, or exposing one or more wrestlers to unnecessary risk, or anything else that would make a wrestler in the moment try to take over. They can do this either by Carrying the Match- making an opposed Work Rate roll to convince the narrating wrestler that they know better, or by “Stretching”- taking control by force, which uses an opposed Wrestling roll. Stretching can be considered a Clout use if done maliciously.

The third thing that can happen is the roll at the end of the Move Set failing- this is interpreted as “Opponent misreads the narrator” and indicates some kind of miscommunication. The Move Set still took place, but the person who picks up the narration must explain what went wrong. If there are more than two wrestlers, the one with the highest Work Rate takes over, if there’s a tie then the Referee (either a PC or controlled by the Booker) takes over for a Move Set and then hands it off to someone of their choice.

Any time a new wrestler comes in, they take control of the narration. Finally, at any point the player can choose to give up control of the narrative to someone else.

So, the Move Set, defined at last. It’s a series of moves the narrator describes, adding up to 1 minute of match time and followed by a Wrestling roll. Whoever performed the bulk of the moves in the Move Set- which may not be the same as the narrator- makes the roll. The roll adds or takes away Heat from the match the same as it’s been described elsewhere. It may actually sometimes be the case that a minute passes without anyone actually making any wrestling moves- say they’re blown out or there’s some plot thing that changes the dynamic, etc. The Booker can either call for a Mic Skills roll here or just advance the time by 1 minute.

The Wrestling roll can be altered in a few ways. Some of it’s from Assets and Flaws which affect how many dice you roll, but also a wrestler can choose to Hold Back- to just sorta half-rear end it for some reason. You can roll as few as zero, meaning yes, you can auto-fail a Move Set. I’m not sure why you would, but well, drama happens. Sometimes wrestlers get pissy.

Conversely, there’s “Sandbagging”. You know when a wrestler bodyslams or suplexes someone, the other guy is usually helping- they learn to shift their weight in such a way that they’re easier to pick up. Sandbagging is when you don’t do that, (edit:) or intentionally "no-sell" your opponent's moves (i.e. not making it look like they really hurt) and it’s usually for similar pissy reasons. Here it’s for basically any move that depends on the other guy to some extent, which for wrestling is pretty much all moves. Any time a Wrestling roll is made, a player involved can announce that they’re sandbagging and cancel out any number of 6’s rolled up to their Wrestling trait. The text mentions that “old school” wrestlers love to do this to kids they think don’t understand the need for cooperation. You can also intentionally Botch a Move Set- the mechanics work the same, but the rules specify this risks losing Clout unless it’s approved by the promoter.

But finally there’s an upside to all this. Using one of your wrestler’s Signature Moves in a Move Set means you can add 2 dice to your Wrestling roll; using your Finisher means you can add 5. These are cumulative, since a Move Set has many moves- if you use three sigs and your finisher, you’d get 11 extra dice. You can only gain the dice twice for every signature move, and once per finisher; however they can still be performed many times in the description. Also the way this is phrased, the benefit only accrues if the wrestler doing the move is narrating, which makes sense.

Wagering Match Heat is where your Work Rate comes in handy. It represents trying to pull off a big dramatic moment in a match- kicking out of a pin at just the last nanosecond, shrugging off your opponent’s blows, bumping the ref, etc. Once per Move Set the narrator can have their wrestler wager Match Heat up to their Work Rate stat. If the Wrestling roll succeeds, the Match’s Heat is increased by that amount (or to put it another way, you get back the wagered Heat x2), if it fails, you decrease it by that amount (i.e. the wagered Heat is lost.)



It is possible to try and “Shoot” during a match. Shoot is wrestling for “real”, and, yes, occasionally a wrestler will try to injure another for some reason. Most recently there’s been an issue with luchadora Sexy Star hurting her opponents for real, basically trying to make herself look more badass even though there’s now only one promotion that will book her. Anyway at any time the narrating player declares they’re trying to injure their opponent and by how much, and if the Wrestling Roll succeeds they do that much damage. It’s really easy then to hurt your opponent, which is- kind of accurate, sadly. Wrestlers really have to trust each other, they’re putting their bodies under someone else’s control in a way.

The balance to this is that unless the promotion has somehow okayed a shoot fight (which has happened- the WWF’s “Brawl For All” was a famous disaster, and the less said about Inoki-ism the better), doing this in a match means you lose Clout equal to the amount of Injury inflicted. It is of course also very illegal. So there’s that as a balancing force.

But even if the wrestlers aren’t being dicks to each other, there’s a chance of injury of course. Basically the Booker has to decide, after a Move Set is narrated, if injury has been risked, and there’s a table to help decide things. To summarize, working “stiff” (trying a little too hard to make your punches and kicks look real), working with chairs and tables and kendo sticks, and having anything performed by an untrained wrestler is Low Risk (2 points of injury); ladder spots and piledrivers and poo poo like barbed wire or thumbtacks are Moderate Risk (5 points); falls from around 10-20 feet and the use of explosives, fire, broken glass, etc. is High Risk (15 points); and there’s Insane, for stuff like falls from 30 feet or more, setting people on fire, using actual weapons, etc. that can result in 30 points of Injury or just plain death. If the Wrestling Roll for that Move Set fails, injury points are assigned. However, if the Wrestling Roll succeeds, an amount of Heat equal to the injury risked is added to the match.


This was the least-gross picture of CZW I could find. For accuracy's sake, imagine there are a bunch of fluorescent light tubes everywhere and that the guy is bleeding profusely.

There are also times where the Booker may feel that injury is impossible to avoid and can just assign points automatically. Finally, there’s blading. This is the ancient practice of wrestlers concealing razor blades on their person, and when they’re about to take or have just taken a particularly sick bump, they cut themselves on a safe-ish place (usually the forehead) so they’ll bleed enough for the fans to see without really getting too hurt. Doing this in-game gives a wrestler 1 point of Injury and adds 5 Heat to the match. (Since publication, blading has fallen a little out of fashion- the WWE don’t want blood on their shows, and there was also a controversy with Abdullah the Butcher, who bladed so often he has permanent forehead scars, wrestling and bleeding without telling anyone he had Hepatitis C.)


Abdullah the Butcher receiving the HOF ring he'd later have to sell to pay legal expenses.

Ending a match normally works pretty simply- you’ve done as many Move Sets as the time the match has in minutes, last Move Set should be the end of it. It is possible for the ref to end a match early as part of a management decision or due to injury. In the last minute of a match a wrestler may announce they’re extending a match to try and get more of their moves in- they simply explain how they’re extending (kicking out of a pin, or not pinning the other guy) and take control if they don’t have it already. If more than a minute gets added to a match the Booker may decide to have the referee call it, in which case whoever extended it loses a point of Clout. I am… actually not familiar with this particular kind of thing happening but I suppose it’s good that there’s a case for it.

Finally, a wrestler may try to change the finish. This requires an opposed Wrestling roll between them and their opponent. The chapter is nearing its end here so there’s no explanation of the consequences for doing this, but I think it’s fair to assume that they are not good. In real life “going into business for yourself” can be a career ender.

The chapter ends with a 7-step explanation of Match Advancement- basically a good summary of each “turn”- followed by an extended example of play, with Magnus battling the Vindicator for 7 move sets. We see Heat being wagered, injury being risked, control being taken over, even interference from a manager- it’s a pretty good breakdown of what to expect.

So that’s the wrestling part of Kayfabe. I like that it boils down to a simple process that can be made more complex by what you actually decide to do in the fiction. I do wish Work Rate mattered a little more relative to Wrestling, to better demonstrate how someone can actually get heat with a crowd while being technically sloppy, but I’m not sure how you would do that. (It could be argued that someone like Hulk Hogan would still have a solid Wrestling score- it's not like he's bad- and is just savvy enough to let his opponent do a lot of the work, while someone like the Ultimate Warrior had more problems living up to his image.) It’s generally a good system.

That wraps it up for The Show. Next Time, we begin our delve into The Booker’s Section!

Maxwell Lord fucked around with this message at 20:21 on Dec 13, 2017

Mr.Misfit
Jan 10, 2013

The time for
SkellyBones
has come!


Dallbun posted:

The latter. OD&D is d6, AD&D is d8.

That´s a fascinating and good thing to know. I´ve often wondered about this because differing OSR rules often give monster stats with only hit dice and don´t tell you the dice size, which drives me crazy, personally. Knowing then on whether they adapt OD&D or AD&D apparently makes an even bigger difference than I thought.

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

quote:

It used to be - in the wargame tradition D&D is derived from - that a on a successful roll (a 'hit'), an attacking unit killed its target. Some units in Chainmail were supposed to be extra tough, so they required multiple hits. A Hero required two hits, and something as big and fierce as an Ogre would require four.

Kevin Crawford sort of brought that back with his OSR games like Godbound, where PC attacks knock off HD from monsters instead of HP, so you can convert the kind of epic hero who can smack a dragon down in 1 or 2 hits directly into an old module.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I'm surprised Kayfabe doesn't have anything in there about selling, and the possibilities of under or overselling, either to build heat or to gently caress someone over.

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

Mors Rattus posted:

I'm surprised Kayfabe doesn't have anything in there about selling, and the possibilities of under or overselling, either to build heat or to gently caress someone over.

No-selling is rolled up into sandbagging- I just noticed that now but didn't put that in the post. Not sure how overselling would be best handled.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Dark Matter: Xenoforms




Turns Out There Are Lots of Extradimensionals (Part 1):

The extradimensionals section, which is a catchall for all sorts of poo poo that comes from outside our normal reality, is really drat long. There’s eleven things in the section, and that’s way too much for an update, so I’ll try and get six done now and five next time.

Black Dog:



You may be conceptually familiar with the idea of the Black Dog, a creature that appears as a dark omen (it’s come up in literature ranging from The Hound of the Baskervilles to a Harry Potter book). Well it turns out they’re real, they’re from another dimension, and they can in fact sense when bad poo poo is going down and appear in the vicinity of such things for whatever reasons a big black dog from another dimension does anything. They apparently will sometimes adopt families or places and act as guardians for a time.

They’re big and quite powerful dogs in combat, with some poorly specified rules for causing fear. Being from another dimension, they’re very probably hard to kill in any final way and that’s certainly how I’d use it if I were going to include one in an adventure.

The adventure hook is a bit long and complex this time. A black dog is appearing at the site of a housing development under construction, where a series of accidents have been slowing progress. There is local folklore of a ghost seen in the company of a dog, who when alive had disappeared in the woods gathering berries. The ghost is very real and the black dog is her guardian, and the players may or may not try and find her remains to encourage her to move on. In the meantime, a paranormal investigation team attracted by the publicity spends the night on the site and one of them disappears in the woods. It turns out the researcher and the kid were killed by the same thing, an ekimmu (recall they’re basically vampires), and killing it is what will actually lay the ghost to rest and cause the dog to disappear along with it.

Verdict: A cool and flavorful thing rather than an enemy to mash, always good.

Blood Devil:



The Blood Devil is Spring-Heeled Jack, pretty much (possibly literally). It looks like a stereotypical devil and likes knives, long jumps across rooftops, and stabbing people with knives. It’s clearly some kind of demon but not clear if it’s part of some race or a unique entity. It likes stalking and murdering folks, because it’s a loving demon and doesn’t really need a reason to do awful poo poo.

The Blood Devil is pretty fragile but does have some decent combat options. It of course has knives, but in a pinch can melee with its claws. It has some Diabolism FX (a defensive spell, a spell that can temporarily control people, and the ability to conjure hellfire) and a special FX skill that’s technically a superpower from the FX sourcebook, Mighty Leap. This lets it execute the crazy jumps Spring-Heeled Jack was rumored to be able to execute.

The adventure hook has the PCs assisting an investigation where this thing was caught on a dash-cam attacking a police officer. Where the last one maybe overspecified things, that’s pretty much all we get here as far as deets. The rest is up to the GM and how players want to proceed with investigating.

Drabbuk (Least Demon):



Drabbuk are basically the demon equivalent of the disposable mooks from any given sentai or anime show. They’re made out of a bunch of flesh (either that of the demon who created them or a donor) and some FX energy, and are used to do all the poo poo-work the demon doesn’t want to do.

They’re weak, stupid, and generally not very effective except in numbers but they do have one significant advantage. Since they’re not truly alive, they are almost impossible to kill for good and only completely pulverizing their head will keep them from just coming back for more later on. A called shot to the head will also do it, and any wound or mortal damage inflicted in such a shot will instantly kill them and also cause them to explode for light stun damage in a small radius.

The adventure hook features a young boy with a natural talent for miracles being targeted by a cult. His mother asks the PCs to protect him then dies from acute scorpion-magically-teleported-into-your-throat-itis. The cult gets a bit shook should the PCs step up and summons a demon to help, who in turn creates some drabbuk to assist the effort. The PCs then have to deal with these assholes attacking all through the night while the demon tries to sell them on abandoning the cause in return for whatever it thinks they’ll buy. This could be a good fit in a larger campaign where the demon could really offer them something that would matter in terms of what has been happening in recent adventures.

Verdict: If you don’t want to send the loving Putty Patrol at your party why the hell are you even a GM?

Fader:



Are you familiar with the Philadelphia Experiment? Allegedly a test of the alleged Project Rainbow, supposedly a US destroyer was successfully made to vanish entirely through some sort of super-science (naturally tied to Nikola Tesla because why not bring him into it too). Well it turns out it totally worked, the equipment teleported the ship nearly 200 miles away for a few minutes and then returned it to its original position. There was a slight kink as far as the effects on the crew, though. Most of them just went crazy, known as the lucky ones. Others were burned from the inside out. Some simply vanished entirely, and others were fused into the goddamn superstructure of the ship. Those who fell into none of those categories became Faders.

Faders may look human and may act in a manner consistent with their previous identities, but they have in fact been taken over by some kind of creature from wherever the ship went. This causes them to require electromagnetic energy to live and gives them a bunch of weird dimensional powers. What all they might be up to isn’t really known, if it’s even possible to really understand what entirely alien things from a world that is nothing like ours might want beyond maybe getting back to where they were.

Faders in combat are kind of like a normal human except for their signature Dimensional Science FX powers. They can teleport vast distances with relative ease, fade in and out of tangibility, and most horrifyingly they can cause persons and objects to become partially permeable to normal matter in order to fuse things into other things. Like say fusing you into things that are not you, making you not be alive anymore. It really loving hurts to get hit by this attack and then hurts just as much to be removed from the object.

The adventure hook has a high-energy physics lab attacked and several guards dead after a ghostly figure is seen on cameras walking through walls and poo poo. The equipment is sabotaged and the PCs are called in for help by the director, who by the time they arrive has been replaced by someone else who tells them to get lost. What all is going on is up to you at this point.

Verdict: There’s a lot on these guys and they’re probably the right kind of enigmatic, especially since they tie into a pretty famous urban legend.

Isci ba Fan (Greater Demon):



Demonic encounters are not a uniquely human thing, and Isci ba Fan, the Demon of Silence is a demon of the Greys. They sacrificed one of their city-ships to try and kill it, but that turns out to have been in vain as it managed to escape and lingers on as an incorporeal presence. Isci ba Fan is just a bunch of bodiless darkness normally, relying on possession to interact with the physical world. Those it possesses appear shrouded in shadow at all times, and it will generally try to cover this up by staying out of the light. It’s been stuck without a body since a mishap long before it first encountered the Greys, and its goal is to try and get back to its former existence. How this might be accomplished is unspecified, and even it likely doesn’t know.

This thing is as nasty as you’d expect a Greater Demon to be really. It’s super hard to kill given it’s nearly impossible to injure (the whole not having a body thing works in its favor) and it’s got all kinds of high-level psionic powers. It doesn’t really have a lot of ability to do damage per se, but that’s not really the kind of threat it is.

There’s no adventure hook for this guy, he’s a singular villain and if you want to use him for something it’s up to you to figure out how.

Verdict: It’s a demon from a non-human culture and I’m all about that.

Kwakarian (Lesser Demon):



Kwakarians are demons that delight in pointless and brutal violence. They like watching other people carrying out such acts at least as much as they like doing it themselves, and will often hang around people and goad them into violence. They’re very difficult to see when in shadow because they’re demons don’t ask for too many details, so they will often hang out in dark areas where they’ll generally be considered a trick of the light.

Kwakarians aren’t really that powerful in a fight with a real opponent and aren’t going to stick around for such a thing. They are much more about bullying and torturing, not so much about getting filled full of bullets.

The adventure hook again starts in some other theoretical adventure probably, where an opponent has a shadowy figure hovering behind them making suggestions. Then, later on, the PC who noticed this starts getting increasingly vicious and brutal suggestions as to how they should act in combat. It turns out one of these guys has decided it likes the cut of their jib after they killed the person they were previously messing with and now they’ve got to figure out a solution.

Verdict: These guys are alright I guess, at least they’re not stealing demons from D&D or something.

Next Time: Extradimensionals Two: Extralectric Boogaloo.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Maxwell Lord posted:

No-selling is rolled up into sandbagging- I just noticed that now but didn't put that in the post. Not sure how overselling would be best handled.

Probably also sandbagging if done to gently caress with someone, I guess, like the time Shawn Michaels did it to Hogan.

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!


I like that Dark Matter acknowledges that the aliens have their own unique demons and supernatural things that might also cause trouble for humans, now they've met each other. Any demons for the Kinori?

anti_strunt posted:

Say, speaking of, would it be appropriate for the thread to show which Osprey paintings the art for that totes real olde English RPG you reviewed was copied from/based on?

I'd be interested in it, if slightly disappointed, because the art was about the only non-retarded thing about that RPG. :v:

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Feinne posted:

Dark Matter: Xenoforms

Verdict: These guys are alright I guess, at least they’re not stealing demons from D&D or something.


one thing that's a bummer is that the "race" of demons that get presented in the core book get a moderately sympathetic write-up, and the idea that maybe they're just misunderstood or unfairly put-upon by the Heavenly Host makes sense within the context of what the Heavenly Host has done throughout history. they look like how we've been taught demons "should" look, but they're no more or less inclined to Evil than your average human, and it's entirely likely that they're being exterminated by the Heavenly Host for less than objectively Good reasons.

then the monster manual has demons but they're all just LOL MURDER DEATH KILL I loving LOVE KILLING LOL and it completely undermines the narrative that was being built in the core book.

PurpleXVI posted:

I like that Dark Matter acknowledges that the aliens have their own unique demons and supernatural things that might also cause trouble for humans, now they've met each other. Any demons for the Kinori?

I think they get zombie or mummy kinori which are obviously bad guys. the kinori get the short end of the stick throughout the Dark*Matter setting, which is made worse by the fact that all they originally wanted to do was teach humans how to be awesome wizards and cohabitate in peace :smith:

Freaking Crumbum fucked around with this message at 21:22 on Dec 13, 2017

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.




DANCERS IN AN EVENING FOG – PART 1

Wherein the investigators visit the seat of empire, answer the call of an old friend in need, and a lengthy journey becomes desirable.




This adventure starts with the investigators in London, either brought there by a previous adventure or invited there by their old buddy old pal Professor Julius Arthur Smith. Smith is a well-travelled scholar and parapsychologist with half a dozen Science skills and a Bon Mot skill at 88. He's a member of the Oriental Club and his only friend in the world (aside from the investigators, perhaps) is his manservant Beddows. The book makes it clear he's a cool and likeable guy and if you play him right, it shouldn't be too hard to make the players love him.



The Professor.

Smith is speaking at the Challenger Trust Banquet-Lecture, an annual event where the trustees invite fringe scientists to give talks on their studies. They wanna hear crazy theories backed up by actual research and evidence, and the good Professor Smith happens to be a kind of Victorian Penn Jilette. He gives a pretty humorous lecture about some of the charlatans he's debunked in his time, but ends up discussing some of the real supernatural phenomena he's encountered – what he calls 'hauntings' but are essentially ghosts. The book details some of the evidence he includes in his slideshow, followed by Smith's conclusion that hauntings might hold the key to unlocking travel through other dimensions. Left to his own devices and given enough time, it's possible Smith will discover the Create Gate spell that makes extradimensional doorways.



This is the first instance of a recurring problem with the books, where they give you mountains of text – in this case, excerpts from Smith's lecture – and seems to expect you to just read it out aloud to your players while they sit there and listen. I really don't see a way to make a lecture, even one about the supernatural, interesting to listen to. In addition, Smith's lecture is partially a red herring. Ghosts won't be coming up for quite a while.

After the lecture, the investigators can roll Spot Hidden while talking to Smith to notice that they're being watched. A dark man with 'a moustache bushy enough to be classified as 'foreign'' (really?) is observing their conversation, and he immediately leaves when he's discovered. This is actually the first appearance of Mehmet Makryat, one of the major antagonists of the campaign.

The investigators have a couple of days to spend at their leisure before the plot kicks into gear.

Oh poo poo!



The front page headline on Saturday morning reports Makryat's death in triplicate. Three identical men are found dead in the Chelsea Arms Hotel, each one stabbed through the heart and carrying papers identifying them as Mehmet Makryat, a Turkish antique dealer and world traveller. The 'real' Makryat owns a shop in Islington, but is nowhere to be found.

The other headline of interest to the investigators reports the disappearance of Professor Smith and Beddows after their house is burned to the ground. Well, the book tells you to make them roll Spot Hidden to notice that, but wouldn't the disappearance of their dear friend attract their attention? I'd just give them the clue off the bat. That said, even if the investigators hit the ground running they're not going to turn up anything (aside from the journal that triggers the Blood Red Fez scenario, but more on that later) until the end of the day, when a cabbie delivers an envelope sealed with Smith's signet ring. It contain's Smith's calling card with an address in Cheapside and the following message:




The Burned Man


The address (in a disreputable part of town that a gentleman like Smith shouldn't be anywhere near!) belongs to a shady bedsit. When the investigators get there, Beddows ushers them in. His hands have bandages on them and he's visibly nervous. The curtains are drawn shut inside the room, but the figure of Professor Smith can be dimly made out on the bed. He's suffered severe burns – SAN 0/1D3 for an investigator who examines too closely, our first roll of the campaign! There's also a side table covered in various medications that a Medicine roll will reveal to be the kind of salves, solutions and analgesics that should be administered to a severe burn victim.

Smith tries to sit up when the investigators enter. He greets them in a wheezing voice and bids them to listen to what he says while Beddows takes notes. As he speaks, his voice becomes less and less audible, and it's pretty clear he won't be able to talk for long.



According to Smith, he's been on the search for the Sedefkar Simulacrum, which he describes as an evil occult artefact and a source of great magical power. It was broken into pieces and scattered across Europe in the 18th century, so Smith planned to gather the pieces and finally destroy them. The reason he gave the lecture was to try and find people who could help him, but he only managed to attract his enemies. Turkish madmen attacked their home in the night and tried to burn them alive, but Beddows managed to save them both. The Turks doubtless want the statue for evil deeds, and Smith begs them to recover it before they can.

His notes were destroyed in the fire or stolen by the Turks, but he has a pretty good idea of where the pieces are:

- The Simulacrum was owned by a Comte Fenalik who lost it after the French Revolution. It was dismembered in Paris, so a piece might still be there.

- Napoleon's soldiers carried a piece into Venice.

- At the same time, another piece wound up in Trieste. Smith recommends looking up Johann Winckelmann at the museum there.

- There might be a piece in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. He recommends speaking to Dr. Todorovic at the National Museum in Belgrade.

- One part was lost near Sofia during the Bulgarian War, but was probably buried somewhere there as a valuable.

- The final piece was actually in circulation during the Great War and sold to someone in Milan, but Smith doesn't know who.

The only way to destroy the Simulacrum for good is to bring the pieces back to its home: a place called the Shunned Mosque in Constantinople. He knows there's a ritual to destroy them in the Sedefkar Scrolls, but Smith has been unable to consult them. His voice nearly gone, he begs the investigators to help him in this task. 'Go, go quickly,' he whispers. 'God help you'.

Afterwards, Beddows hands them a valise containing 1000 pounds sterling, otherwise known as an absolute fuckload of money and more than enough to sponsor the entire expedition. He recommends taking the Orient Express as Smith was originally planning to, sadly noting that his master is accustomed to comfort. Beddows knows nothing about the Simulacrum, but if asked he'll mention that he plans to move Smith to a more secure location soon, and that he'll send updates via telegraph. Otherwise, he doesn't have much to say. If the investigators return to the bedsit later, all sign of Smith and Beddows will be gone.

There's a very good reason for that.

Next time: the truth about Mehmet Makryat.

Down With People fucked around with this message at 01:02 on Dec 18, 2017

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Five Eyes
Oct 26, 2017


Freaking Crumbum posted:

...
Occult Masters: The Final Church...
HQ & Branches: The Bohemian Grove, near San Francisco CA (because why not, a group that's explicitly a decentralized network of anti-social psychopaths would absolutely have a declared, central base of operations).

So are we to understand that the Bohemian Club is an arm of the church of megasatan?

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