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Thuryl
Mar 14, 2007

My postillion has been struck by lightning.


Red Metal posted:

the 3.5 dodge only applies to a single enemy at any one time

The way people talk about their 3e games online has convinced me that there are a surprising number of GMs who really do just throw one solitary CR-appropriate enemy at the party for 90% of fights, so I guess it has some value if you find yourself with a GM like that, but geez.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Generally, if you have to have +x feats, a good way to liven them up to have some side bonus as well, It's what Fantasy Craft and Starfinder did with Toughness, and though their examples still aren't great, must-have feats, they don't feel like total wastes of page space either.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Serf posted:

toughness should just give you a +1 AC and like DR 10/-

Reminder that the Fighter's Armor Mastery, a level 19 ability, gave DR 10/- in the PF playtest ... and then it was nerfed by 50% in Core.

Kaza42 posted:

This may be my atrophied 3.X system mastery showing, but why is Dodge poo poo? I mean, it's boring as gently caress, but +1 stackable AC (and doge bonuses are stackable) seems pretty strong. Just like how in 4e, the "everyone must take these feats, to the extent that most DMs just give you them for free" are the ones that are small but stacking bonuses to AC and accuracy

Pathfinder actually made Dodge just give you a flat +1 Dodge bonus to AC, but it did still have that problem where to-hit vs AC ratios scaled in such a way that you could never push your AC high enough for it to matter all that much.

Starfinger is a bit better in this regard because the math was "reconfigured" to more resemble the 4e model where to-hit rates normalize at around the 60% level (although of course Dodge no longer exists in Starfinger IIRC).

Shart Carbuncle
Aug 4, 2004

Star Trek:
The Motion Picture


My research into the lineage of Star Trek Adventures led me to the offshoot Mutant: Year Zero from Fria Ligan/Free League, and holy crap it seems like a good-rear end game. Itís got a lot of the good ideas from more modern indies like Burning Wheel, but without coming across as so esoteric. Has anyone played it? It doesnít seem to get much discussion around here.

Itís weird, because Modiphius publishes it, but itís way different from their Mutant stuff. Itís kinda like a Traveller situation where the property has branched off through multiple licensees. I wish theyíd given Star Trek to these Swedes.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Thuryl posted:

The way people talk about their 3e games online has convinced me that there are a surprising number of GMs who really do just throw one solitary CR-appropriate enemy at the party for 90% of fights, so I guess it has some value if you find yourself with a GM like that, but geez.

it doesn't help that a lot of modules were written that way, and that the DMGs heavily implied if not outright stated that that was how it was supposed to work

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




I ran my entire first campaign that way. I'm a slow learner.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017


In defense of the single big monster, it makes combat tremendously easier to run. There's a reason a horde of zombies gets treated as, well, a horde.

Having said that, I really appreciated how 4e made the fundamentals for an interesting encounter very clear and straight forward (Skirmishers versus Artillery versus Elites) even if they didn't execute it perfectly.

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.


Wikipedia Brown posted:

My research into the lineage of Star Trek Adventures led me to the offshoot Mutant: Year Zero from Fria Ligan/Free League, and holy crap it seems like a good-rear end game. Itís got a lot of the good ideas from more modern indies like Burning Wheel, but without coming across as so esoteric. Has anyone played it? It doesnít seem to get much discussion around here.

Itís weird, because Modiphius publishes it, but itís way different from their Mutant stuff. Itís kinda like a Traveller situation where the property has branched off through multiple licensees. I wish theyíd given Star Trek to these Swedes.

Hell YEAH M:Y0 is good. Its Mechatron supplement (the one) just got an English release for Kickstarter backers, and I'm already pining for Elysium, the latest expansion about non-mutated vault humans.



Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Terrible Opinions posted:

While this is true, One with Nothing isn't a terrible card. It's actually fantastic.
... How?

DalaranJ posted:

Yeah, I was going to say dumping a handful of swamp cards into the discard is pretty powerful.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Zereth posted:

... How?

I don't know the exact specifics, but over the years black has gotten an absolute shitload of cards that do something when they hit the graveyard. The trick with most of these cards is figuring out how to get them in the graveyard in the first place, since usually the thing they do is awesome enough to warrant the extra trouble. A one-mana card that dumps your entire hand is a godsend for decks built around these cards.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




A lot of games have similar mechanics, both discarding your hand and plundering your own graveyard/discard pile.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


I think at least part of designing a card game with as many options as Magic is throwing in ideas which on the surface seem terrible, and trusting that your player base will find some sort of innovative use for them.

I think a key difference between the million billion Magic cards and the million billion feats available for Pathfinder et al. is that Magic cards are designed from the ground up to interact with other systems, whereas feats are usually intended to be standalone character upgrades -- any synergies they have are unintentional.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



One mana to dump your hand is a godsend in, say, a Madness deck. Cards with Madness are cast for a lower cost when discarded, then exiled.

Serf
May 5, 2011




gradenko_2000 posted:

Reminder that the Fighter's Armor Mastery, a level 19 ability, gave DR 10/- in the PF playtest ... and then it was nerfed by 50% in Core.

while looking it up i discovered for the first time that DR doesn't work against spells lol. meanwhile in Shadow of the Demon Lord lots of enemies specifically get a trait that halves spell damage against them and gives their enemies a bane to making GBS threads them with spells.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Really there should be a mechanics heavy game where all character options are designed with the same interactivity of magic cards. The closest I can really think of is 4th edition and even then not really.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 6: "4. It is the secret creation of the Coalition States designed to ruin and discredit psychics (unlikely since the CS has a fair respect for psychics and has a large number in their military and police force, including Psi-Stalkers and Psi-Hounds/Dog Boys, but then the Coalition tends to get blamed for just about everything)."

Psi-Colaô
By Julius Rosenstein & Kevin Siembieda


Yes, they did put a ô on that one. Oh, Palladium.

Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:

WARNING: We would like to remind our readers that drug dependency, regardless of any perceived short-term benefit, is dangerous and destructive. None of us at Palladium, encourage or condone the use of drugs without proper medical supervision. Illegal drugs destroy people. Not just the user, but those who love him/her. Please, don't do it.

Caffeine isn't cool. Caffeine kills.

It may seem weird to dedicate an entire update to Psi-Cola, but it doesn't really fit in the class section or the monster section, and it's six pages dedicated to one drug. That's right, Psi-Cola gets roughly the same amount of space as Psyscape itself. Also, the warning that Palladium likes to add regarding druuugs always feels a bit odd. After all, 90% of the time, drug rules in games are the tabletop equivalent of Reefer Madness, punishing characters with a spiral of penalties any anti-drug movement would be delighted with.

So, what is Psi-Cola? Well, it's a North American drug (in cola form) that either instills temporary psychic powers on a non-psychic or enhances the powers of an actual psychic. It's of a mysterious origin, and we're given several different theories including it being a pre-Rifts drink, a creation of the Splugorth, created by rogue alchemists, or made by the Coalition to ruin psychics (which seems unlikely, given their widespread usage of psychics). It has a secret formula that's "aged" under exposure to a ley line, after which it's ready to serve.


"Taste the Inner Strength Points."

Psi-Cola & Psychics

Non-psychics hate the taste, but find it acts as a stimulant and regular usage can grant a minor psychic power while the person remains dosed up. They can become addicted to it, but it's rare because of its unpleasant taste.

Psychics, on the other hand, get an immediate recovery of power (2d6 Inner Strength Points), a delicious taste, and can get extra powers if they're regular users. Psi-Stalkers can use Psi-Cola in place of feeding on the magic power (Potential Psychic Energy) of others, but it makes them into "lazy gluttons", we're told. Dog Boys have their supernatural-sensing powers heightened. Nega-Psychics and Psi-Nullifiers gain increased immunity to psychic powers, but gain additional skill penalities when off of Psi-Cola due to becoming "totally insecure and uncertain".


Despite showing up several times in illustrations already, this species will not be described or statted until World Book 30.

Side Effects from Psi-Cola

So far, not bad. But this is Palladium and this is a druuug, so we've got the other shoe dropping. You can have one dose every 48 hours with no risk of addiction or side effects. More than that, and you have to make a save vs. poison for each dose, with a cumulative penalty for each dose taken in the past 48 hours. And if you're taking enough to get those bonus psi-powers (a six-pack), there is an over 98% chance of addiction, because of how the cumulative odds add up. Whether this is intentional or is a typical Palladium math fumble isn't clear. In addition, if you become addicted and then go clean, you then also get a another random (20% x bottles drunk in 48 hours) separate chance of relapsing. Whether this is in addition to the previous odds is unclear, of course.

In addition, we get a typical lovingly-crafted page-long table of side effects including amnesia, telekinetic poltergeists (even if you don't have telekinesis), gaining a hostile alter ego, accidental power usage, panic attacks, etc. Addicts get double the side effects, and as we know, anybody who downs enough to get the benefits is almost certainly going to be an addict. And that all sounds pretty terrible, but at least kicking the habit isn't as punishing as it is for Palladium drugs, and permanent debilitation doesn't happen (like it does for many of the Splugorth drugs) other than the higher risk of relapse.

Legal Status, Availability, and Cost

It's illegal in a lot of places but not that hard to find anyway and... do we want to go through each one? I bet I don't. Coalition, Dweomer, and Northern Gun make it illegal, (New) Lazlo restricts it to medical use only, Psyscape sells a watered-down version and enforces rehabilitation for addicts, etc. It's relatively cheap where it's available and can often be found underground even where it's banned. Also there's sometimes fake placebo versions sold. "These fakes sometimes make people sick, occasionally hurt or kill people, and add to the negative reputation of the notorious drink." Another angle of PC fuckery, no doubt.

Next: Monsters. "Psychic monsters?", you may ask. Kinda. Mostly just monsters, though.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 14:12 on Mar 13, 2018

Captain Hats
Jan 6, 2009

ELF


Ratoslov posted:

I don't know the exact specifics, but over the years black has gotten an absolute shitload of cards that do something when they hit the graveyard. The trick with most of these cards is figuring out how to get them in the graveyard in the first place, since usually the thing they do is awesome enough to warrant the extra trouble. A one-mana card that dumps your entire hand is a godsend for decks built around these cards.

Back in the day it was also a legit tech choice against Owling Mine, a deck archetype that relied on filling your opponents hand and then punishing them for it. Completely flushing your entire hand was a really strong thing to be able to do in that scenario.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Terrible Opinions posted:

Really there should be a mechanics heavy game where all character options are designed with the same interactivity of magic cards. The closest I can really think of is 4th edition and even then not really.

That seems like a nightmare to playtest though.

Glagha
Oct 13, 2008

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAaaAAAaaAAaAA
AAAAAAAaAAAAAaaAAA
AAAA
AaAAaaA
AAaaAAAAaaaAAAAAAA
AaaAaaAAAaaaaaAA



No one uses One With Nothing for Madness or getting cards in the graveyard. It's better to play them or use them for something useful, hence why Wild Mongrel was so good for so long, because it had a repeatable discard effect so you could get those cards in your grave while feeding a cheap creature. One With Nothing was basically good specifically as sideboard tech against Owling Mine because if you resolved it more than once, you basically just won because there wasn't a drat thing that deck could do to you if you didn't have cards.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Honestly I'm surprised we haven't seen much in the way of a homebrew rpg that just uses magic cards as the tools. The handles are in place already to control power level, the old mmo trinity is in place, and it's be easy enough to build monsters. Just pump their toughness and have them use landless small decks of themed attacks.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 3: Skills

So now we get to the fun bit; skills. It is interesting to note that Monte Cooke worked on RoleMaster prior to joining Wizards of the Coast; I suspect some of the inspiration for how 3e skills work probably came from there. Simply put, each level, you receive a number of skill points; multiplied by 4 at first level. Some classes get more skill points than others, and some classes get more class skills than others. Ultimately, this means that some classes have more out of combat utility than others.

Some skills are only available to members of specific classes - this was removed from 3.5, making the skill either simply not a class skill (aka a cross class skill), or removing it from the skill list and making it a function of class level for those classes that received it. For example, only Bards and Rogues could learn Decypher Script (the ability to work out roughly what unfamiliar text says).

To increase a skill, you buy ranks in the skill with skill points. A skill check is simply a d20 + ranks + ability modifier + other bonuses - any penalties; where contrary to popular belief a natural 20 can fail if the skill is low enough and a natural 1 can succeed if the skill is high enough. If the result is equal to or higher than the Difficulty Class (DC), it's a success. This is part of the reason I feel like players should only roll dice if the GM asks them to - if their skill is too low, the GM can just straight up tell them they can't do it, and if their skill is high enough the GM can just tell them it works. Some skills can be used entirely untrained, but a few require at least one whole rank. To buy a rank in a class skill costs a single skill points, and to buy a rank in a cross class skill costs two. At first level, you can spend up to four skill points on any given skill, and as your level increases, you can have spend up to your level +3 skill points total on a given skill. You can purchase half ranks, but your number of ranks is rounded down.

Now, if a skill check is such that there are absolutely no consequences to keeping trying until you succeed (opening most locks, for example, or searching a room for a secret door), then instead of rolling repeatedly until you succeed, you have the option of taking 20 times as long and assuming that you rolled a natural 20 - at that point, if you had any chance at all of performing the task, it succeeds. This is called Taking 20. There is also the option to Take 10 - if there are no distractions (such as immediate danger from other sources, or combat), then for most skills you can simply assume that you rolled a 10 if that would be sufficient for success. This is the other reason I feel like players should only roll dice if the GM asks them to - in most cases, the players should be Taking 10 or 20 on their skill checks, simply because if doing that would be sufficient to get the job done, then it wasn't an interesting enough challenge to be worth the time rolling.

Some of my descriptions will refer to standard, move and full round actions; these will be explained when I get to combat, but in general, in a single six second combat round, you can do a move action and a standard action, two move actions, or a single full round action. Finally, we have the option to Aid Another - this is a flat DC 10 to grant someone a +2 to their check, meaning that a character can practically always Take 10 to do so. This is useful in helping elderly wizards to climb walls and suchlike.

As for the skills, I'm not going to present them in the order listed in the book (which is alphabetical); instead, I'm going to present them by related groupings so as to better illustrate how they work. To begin with, I'm going to start with the athletics and acrobatics types of skills; Climb, Jump, Swim, Balance and Tumble, as well as one related skill; Use Rope (yes, that's a skill in 3.X; they removed it from Pathfinder, assuming that all adventurers should know it anyway and it shouldn't need rolling for). All of these skills can be used untrained, and all but swim take the armour check penalty if your armour has one.

Use Rope basically governs your ability to do exactly that; to tie knots, to bind prisoners and generally use rope for stuff. Honestly, I can see why this skill was removed. It can be used untrained, and it is DC 10 to tie a knot, so outside of combat, anybody with a Dexterity 10 or higher can tie a secure knot in a couple of seconds. A special knot (such as a slip knot, or one that remains secure until given a sharp tug or the like) is DC 15 - a Dexterity 12 and 4 ranks are enough to allow you to Take 10 on this. Likewise, splicing two ropes together and tieing a rope around yourself with one hand are DC 15 tasks. Use Rope is a class skill for Rangers and Rogues only; everybody else has it as a cross class skill. If you have five or more ranks in Use Rope, you get a +2 synergy bonus to Climb and Escape Artist checks involving rope. Synergy bonuses are essentially where one kind of training aids you in another task; another example is that certain knowledge skills grant synergy bonuses to related practical skills.

Speaking of climbing, the Climb skill governs exactly that. Climbing has a mix of low and high DCs - scrambling up a hill that's just a little too steep to walk up, or using a knotted rope to climb a wall are DC 0 tasks; unless something is making them more difficult, literally anybody can do them out of combat, and anybody with an 8 or higher in Strength can do them in combat without needing to roll. Climbing a knotted rope by itself, or using a rope to clime a wall, are DC 5 tasks; Literally anybody can do these out of combat (since untrained and a Strength of 1 gives you a -5, and Taking 10 then gives you a total of 5), but during combat there's the potential for failure (and thus falling). Climbing a very rough wall or the ships rigging is DC 10, meaning that most people can do this out of combat, but those of below average strength will struggle without help. Climbing a surface that has hand and foot holds is a DC 15 (if you've ever seen a climbing wall, this DC roughly represents the beginners wall) - this is the point where regularly pulling this off is going to take training and fitness. Climbing a rope by itself is equally difficult, as is climbing an average tree. That said, all of these tasks are doable by a level 1 character with Climb as a class skill and a Strength 12 or higher.

At DC 20, we have climbing an uneven surface, such as a typical ruined wall or dungeon wall. Without spending a feat on Skill Focus (which is a +3 to the skill) and a Strength 16 or better, you're not going to pull this off regularly at first level. Finally, at DC 25, we have the difficulty of climbing a cliff with no easy hand holds, an average brick wall, or an overhang. Even with high Strength and Skill Focus, you're not going to pull this off regularly until you reach around level 5-6. At least, not usually. There are a few situations which can modify the DCs of these checks. Firstly, a Climbers Kit (which costs 80 GP - not cheap) will give you a +2 to climb checks. Secondly, if you have a solid surface roughly at right angles to the wall you're climbing to brace on, that reduces the DC by 5; if you have a solid surface roughly parallel to the one you're climbing, that reduces the DC by 10. As a DM, it's worth bearing these things in mind - if a good way to get past an obstacle is to climb, it might be worth designing rooms such that they look too difficult to climb at first, but there are ways of making the climb easier. Climb is a class skill for Barbarians, Bards, Fighters, Monks, Rangers and Rogues - as such, this might be a decent place to give the Fighter a little bit of out of combat utility at low levels - while the Fighter might have to do a difficult climb, they can then lower a rope for everyone else, making their climb much easier.

Jump is likewise self explanatory. There is a minimum distance that you make with a jump, regardless of how you roll on the check - anyone can jump five feet with a run up, or three feet without, for example; likewise, anyone can jump two feet up. After that, distance is based on how much higher than 10 you roll - for a running long jump, you get one foot per 1 over 10 on the check; for a standing long jump, it's per 2 over 10, for a running high jump it's per 4 over 10 and for a standing high jump it's per 8 over 10. This is limited based on your height - the furthest you can jump with a running long jump is your height * 6. Assuming you are roughly six feet tall, that gives you 36 feet with a DC 41.

For reference, that's roughly 7 feet further than the current world record for the long jump; the roughly 29 feet that is the world record is DC 34 - an athlete with Strength 18, 8 ranks and Skill Focus (Jump) still requires a 19 to pull it off - which makes sense, given that it's the best a real life human being has ever done. It can be done at level 5. By level 15, a character who started with a 15 in Strength can regularly break the real life world record for the long jump; I do not believe this is accidental. A running high jump has a maximum value of your height and a half - someone of six feet tall can reach 9 feet, which is roughly one foot higher than the real life world record. This is a DC 38 check, compared to the DC 34 to make the current world record. Again, this means that someone who focuses in jumping can, by mid teens in levels, trivialise real world records, and I do not believe this is an accident. I'm not sure if records are kept for standing long jump or high jump, but I suspect that I would get similar results.

There are a couple of spells that make you even better at this - the Jump spell gives you a +30 bonus and removes distance limits, while Expeditious Retreat simply doubles the limits. The Run feat increases your distance by a quarter, but not beyond the limits, on a running jump, and five or more ranks in this skill give you a +2 bonus to Tumble. Jump is a class skill for Barbarians, Bards, Fighters, Monks, Rangers and Rogues.

Swim is also fairly self explanatory; swimming in calm water is DC 10 - if you are reasonably fit and have had a lesson ever, you can swim in calm water. Rough water is DC 15 - you need to be a pretty strong swimmer (4 ranks; Strength 12) to do this without any distractions, and stormy water is DC 20 - this is a serious challenge that even strong swimmers will struggle with. A successful roll allows you to move a quarter of your speed as a move action, or half your speed as a full round action. If you fail, you simply don't make any progress. If you fail by 5 or more, you slip underwater and start drowning. Remember how I said Swim doesn't take an armour check penalty? That's because Swim takes a penalty equal to a fifth of all the stuff you're carrying with you in pounds. If you're wearing full plate, that's a -10 penalty. DO NOT SWIM IN loving PLATE! Unless of course you're level 15 or some poo poo, and once again can do things that real life humans can't. If you're underwater, you take a cumulative -1 penalty per round spent underwater - whether it's because you're drowning or because you're swimming underwater deliberately. The Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG) covers drowning. Swim is a class skill for Barbarians, Bards, Druids, Fighters, Monks, Rangers and Rogues.

Balance is once again, fairly obvious. A successful check allows you to move half your movement as a move action; a failed check means no more movement that round, and a failure by 5 or more means you fall. Movement on a solid surface wider than a foot does not requires a check. A solid surface 7-12 inches wide requires a DC 10 check; 2-6 inches DC 15; and fewer than 2 inches DC 20. Likewise, movement on an uneven floor is a DC 10 check. If the surface is slippery or at an angle, add +5 to the DC; if both, +10. If you get attacked while you're on a narrow surface, you're considered off balance, losing your Dexterity bonus to AC and giving a +2 to hit to whoever is attacking you. If you take damage, you must roll balance to avoid falling. If you have five or more ranks in balance, you maintain your Dexterity bonus to AC. You can take a -5 penalty to move your full speed. Five ranks or more in Tumble give a +2 bonus, meaning that a level 3 PC with 15 Dexterity, along with six ranks each in Tumble and Balance, could walk the tightrope on a regular basis.

Tumble is basically your ability to do flips, rolls and other acrobatic stunts not covered by Jump. In practical terms, tumble is generally used for three things: reducing falling damage, getting past enemies without provoking attacks of opportunity, and impressing a crowd. Doing it as a performance uses the DCs for the perform skill, which I will discuss later. To reduce falling damage, you make a DC 15 Tumble check, and if this is successful, you reduce the distance fallen by 10 feet. Also, with a DC 15 Tumble check, you may move 20 feet as part of normal movement without provoking any attacks of opportunity. As a DC 25 check, you can even move through the five foot square in which an enemy is standing without provoking. This can be done once per round. On a fail, you still get your movement (including through enemy squares) but you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal.

If you envision your character as a Traceur, pulling off stunts like this, then invest in Balance, Tumbling, Climb and Jump. By around level 5, you can be about as good as David Belle is in real life, and by level 10 you'll be about as good as the character he portrays here. Tumble is a class skill for Bards, Monks and Rogues. Five ranks in Tumble improve your ability to fight defensively; this will be explained when I get to combat.

The next group of skills I will look at are the skills for dealing with other people; Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate, Sense Motive, Innuendo, Disguise, Speak Language and Read Lips.

Bluff is the art of lying convincingly, and is rolled as an opposed roll vs your target's Sense Motive. The nature of the lie may give your target a bonus or a penalty - assuming that the your target rolls a 10, has no ranks in Sense Motive and a Wisdom of 10, a lie where the target wants to believe you will be successful on a 5 or better; one that's believable and doesn't affect the target too much will be successful on a 10; one that's hard to believe, or puts the target at risk, will be successful on a 15; one that's really hard to believe or entails a large risk will be successful on a 20; and one that's almost too incredible to even consider will be successful on a 30. If you fail by 10 or less, the target doesn't go along with what you're trying to get them to do; if you fail by 11 of more, the target sees through your lie. That said, Bluff is not mind control; if you convince them the sky is green, then they walk out and see a blue sky, they'll feel bloody foolish for being tricked, rather than thinking that they're hallucinating...

You can also use the Bluff skill to feint in combat; as a standard action, you make a Bluff check vs your opponent's Sense Motive; on a success, your target doesn't get their dexterity bonus against your next attack, provided it is made the following round. This use is OK for Fighters, if their target is really nimble, and hard enough to hit that the lack of dexterity bonus to AC is worth sacrificing an attack this turn for, but where it really shines is in the hands of a Rogue, where it often allows Sneak Attack damage to be pulled off in situations where such would otherwise be really difficult. Bluff can also be used to create a diversion to allow yourself to slip into a hiding place. It is a class skill for Bards and Rogues, and five or more ranks provide a +2 bonus to Innuendo for sending messages, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Pick Pockets and Disguise checks made to stay in character.

Diplomacy is used to make people like you more, to be more convincing than a second person, or to negotiate a deal. In the latter two situations, you roll opposed Diplomacy checks to see who gets the better deal and/or who is more convincing. For the first, you roll vs a set DC based on whether or not the person likes you already. If you fail, you're unlikely to make them like you less, while if you succeed, they might be more willing to help you, depending what you ask them for. Diplomacy is not mind control; no matter how high your Diplomacy roll, you're not going to get someone to give you command over their armies unless they honestly believe you are up to the task. They like you more, and they might be willing to take serious risks on your behalf, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily going to do exactly what you ask. Diplomacy is a class skill for Bards, Clerics, Druids, Monks, Paladins and Rogues.

Gather Information is used to go out for a few hours and find information on a subject. For more generalised information, it's a DC 10 check; for something more specific, it could be anywhere from 15 to 25, or even higher. Retrying is possible, but may draw attention. This skill is a class skill for Bards and Rogues.

Intimidate is the art of being a scary motherfucker. If you get a result of better than 10 + their hit dice, they're scared of you. Congrats. How useful this is to you depends on how you use it; much like the other two, it is still not mind control. It is a class skill for Barbarians and Rogues. If you're familiar with 3.5/Pathfinder then no, I did not forget to add Fighter to that list.

Sense Motive has three roles; firstly, it is used to oppose Bluff rolls, as described under Bluff. Secondly, it is used to get a feel for the social situation you're currently in: is the person you're talking to trustworthy, what's the mood of the room, etc. It's just a hunch, so you don't get details; you just get a bad feeling. This is a DC 20 check, meaning that you have to be pretty skilled (level 3, with skill focus, six ranks and 12 Wisdom) to pull this off reliably. The third use is to tell if somebody is under the influence of an enchantment. This is a DC 25 check. Five or more ranks in Sense Motive give you a +2 to Diplomacy; this stacks with the +2 from Bluff, if relevant. It also gives a +2 bonus to Innuendo checks to intercept a secret message. Sense Motive is a class skill for Bards and Rogues.

Innuendo is the art of using double entendre for sending and intercepting secret messages. It is DC 10 for a simple message, DC 15 for a more complex message, and DC 20 for a really complex message, or one with new information. The same DC is used to intercept the message, with the check receiving penalties for each relevant piece of information unknown to the person doing the intercept. This skill is a class skill for Rogues.

Disguise is the art of pretending to be someone else - both making yourself look like them, and acting in character. This is rolled as an opposed roll vs another person's Spot skill. The more different from you your disguise is, the more penalties you take (a -2 penalty per different age category, for different gender, different race or different class, but a +5 if you only change minor details). If you are disguised as a specific individual, then people who know that person will get bonuses to their Spot roll - people who know them by sight will get a +4, people who know them reasonably well get a +6, close friends get a +8 and people who know them intimately get a +10. Spells like Alter Self and Polymorph give a +10. This is a class skill for Bards and Rogues.

Speak Language isn't really a skill; instead, you may spend skill points to speak a new language - two if it is cross class, or one if it is a class skill. If you are literate, then you are literate in all the languages you speak. Speak Language is a class skill for Bards only.

Finally, Read Lips is pretty self explanatory, and is a skill that is only available to Rogues - it is trained only, which means that a whole rank is required in the skill (half a rank isn't enough), and only Rogues are allowed to buy ranks in it. It is usually a DC 15 check; if you fail by 5 or more, you draw an incorrect conclusion about what you saw being said.

Next, we have the related skills for being stealthy and finding or noticing things - Spot, Listen, Search, Hide and Move Silently.

Hide and Move Silently do not have specific DCs; they are always opposed checks vs someone's Spot or Listen, respectively. You receive a -5 penalty for moving any faster than half movement speed (a slow, careful walk), or a -20 for running, and they are both take penalties from heavy armour. Both of these skills are class skills for Bards, Monks, Rangers and Rogues.

Spot is primarily used as an opposed roll to notice something or someone trying to remain hidden. You take a -5 penalty if you're distracted, and a -1 penalty for every ten feet away the hidden thing is. Spot is a class skill for Rangers and Rogues.

Listen, meanwhile, is used when you're uncertain whether a thing might be heard - this applies both to someone attempting to move quietly and to the sounds of a fight in the next room, through a closed door and 30 feet or through a stone wall, whichever gives the smaller penalty. Listen carries the same distance penalty as Spot, as well as a -5 to hear something through a closed door or -15 through a stone wall. Listen is a class skill for Barbarians, Bards, Monks, Rangers and Rogues.

It is worth pointing out at this point that the majority of human guards will probably only have a Wisdom of 10, and will only have at most two ranks in Spot or Listen. This means that even untrained, a careful character can still avoid notice by closing doors behind them, keeping a decent distance from anyone they want to sneak past, and sticking to darker areas that give spot penalties. Just don't try it in full plate.

Search, meanwhile, is what you roll to find a thing when you're searching a place. Finding one specific item in a single chest, for example, is DC 10. The average person can just do it. Finding a simple trap or a secret door is DC 20; the average person can generally do it given enough time. Finding more complex or magical traps is something only a Rogue can do (with a couple of exceptions). A well hidden secret door might be DC 30 to find. Dwarves are able to find complex traps made out of (or built into) stonework, regardless of whether or not they're Rogues, and a Cleric can cast Find Traps in order to be able to find complex traps - but they must still succeed on the search roll. Search is a class skill for Rangers and Rogues.

Now, we have the skills for Nature, Animals and the Wilderness. These are Animal Empathy, Handle Animal, Ride, Intuit Direction and Wilderness Lore.

Handle Animal is a trained only (with a couple of exceptions) skill that deals with the care and the taming of animals. Handling a domesticated animal is a DC 10 check, and is the first of the two exceptions. This involves the care of domesticated animals, as well as getting them to perform usual tasks (such as getting an ox to pull a plow or the like). Pushing a domesticated animal to do what you want is a DC 15 check, and is the second of the two exceptions. This involves getting more out of an animal than you usually would, such as getting the horses to go faster if you're in a carriage and you're being chased. Teaching an animal to perform tasks is DC 15, or DC 20 if they're unusual (such as teaching a horse to come when you whistle). You can also rear wild animals and magical beasts from a young age to make them effectively domesticated, and you can train a wild animal or beast to perform a task, but it'll only do so for you. Handle Animal is a class skill for Barbarians, Druids, Fighters, Paladins and Rangers. If you have five or more ranks in Handle Animal, you get a +2 bonus to Ride.

Animal Empathy is basically Diplomacy, but for dealing with animals and magical beasts (though you take a -4 penalty for the latter). It is a class skill for Druids and Rangers, it can only be used trained, and only Druids and Rangers may train it. Five or more ranks in this skill give you a +2 bonus to Handle Animal

Ride is, simply put, the skill of staying on the back of a mount. Most general riding tasks do not require checks; staying in the saddle is a DC 5 check, as is guiding a horse with your knees. It is a DC 15 to use the horse you're riding as half cover (this adds to your AC, but if you're missed by less than that bonus, the attack hits your horse instead) or to land safely after falling off a horse. Getting your horse to leap is also a DC 15 check. Controlling an untrained mount (i.e. a horse that hasn't been trained to remain calm in battle) in battle is a DC 20 check, as it rapid mounting or dismounting of a horse. If you're riding bareback, then you take a -5 penalty to ride checks. This skill is a prerequisite for a few mounted combat feats, and it is a class skill for Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins and Rangers.

Wilderness Lore requires very few ranks for most tasks; hunting and foraging sufficient food and water for yourself is a DC 10 check, and you can support an additional person for every 2 you beat this by. This lowers your overland speed by half. For DC 15, you can give yourself a +2 to fortitude saves vs bad weather if you move slowly (or +4 if you remain in the same area), and can provide that bonus for one other person per 1 that you beat the DC by. Finally, you can avoid getting lost or falling into natural hazards; likewise at a DC 15. Finally, this skill is used for tracking, but this use of the skill requires the tracking feat. Wilderness Lore is a class skill for Barbarians, Druids and Rangers. Five or more ranks in this skill give a +2 to Intuit Direction.

Intuit Direction is the art of being able to work out where north is on an almost instinctive level, and as such is Trained Only. It is a DC 15 check; if you succeed, then you know which way north is; if you fail, you don't. On a natural 1 (I believe this is the only skill where this is the case) you believe a different direction is north. This check is rolled in secret, and is only rolled once per day. Intuit Direction is a class skill for Barbarians, Bards, Druids, Rangers and Rogues.

Next up, we have the skillset that the Rogue is best known for - these skills are Disable Device, Escape Artist, Forgery, Open Lock and Pick Pocket.

Disable Device is how you disarm traps and do general sabotage, and it is a Trained Only skill. Something simple like jamming a lock is DC 10, sabotaging a wagon wheel is DC 15, disarming a simple trap is DC 20, and dissarming a complex trap is DC 25. Doing these things so that nobody can tell they have been done by looking increases the DC by 5. If you fail by 5 or more, something goes wrong; in the case of sabotage, you might think that the sabotage worked when it didn't, or in the case of disarming a trap, the trap goes off in your face. Rogues (and only Rogues) can use this skill to disarm magical traps. If the Rogue beats the DC by 10 or more, they can choose to leave the trap entirely intact, and simply tell the rest of the party how to get around it without setting it off. Disable Device is a class skill for Rogues only.

Escape Artist has a couple of uses - escaping bonds, and wriggling out of being grappled. This skill slipping out of rope binding (this is opposed by the Use Rope check of the person who tied you up), slipping out of manacles (DC 30), contorting your way through spaces so tight that you really shouldn't be able to fit (DC 30) and escaping a grapple (opposed by the grappler's grapple check - this will be explained when I get to combat). Escape Artist is a class skill for Bards, Monks and Rogues.

Forgery is fairly self explanatory, and is opposed by the spot check of anyone who looks at the forgery in question. The reader gets a bonus or a penalty based on how well they know the type of document, how well they know the hadnwriting of the person whose handwring has been forged, and whether they take more than a cursory glance at the forgery. You must be able to read and write the language that the forgery is in, for obvious reasons, and as such Barbarians can only learn this skill once they have learned to read and write. Forgery is a class skill for Rogues only.

Open Lock is also fairly self explanatory, and is Trained Only. There are set DCs for the kinds of locks you can pick; DC 20 for a very simple lock, DC 25 for an average lock, DC 30 for a good lock and DC 40 for one of the best non-magical locks in the world. These DCs make more sense than one might think: an Open Lock check takes roughly six seconds, and there are no penalties for failure, so anybody with a Dexterity of at least 8 and at least one rank in Open Lock can open a very simple lock in about two minutes. With a Dexterity 12 and 4 ranks, that makes a 25 entirely doable, and the best non-magical locks in the world can be done at level 5 with 8 ranks, Skill Focus (Open Lock), masterwork tools for an additional +2, a 16 in Dexterity and two assistants. A level 15 Rogue with 18 Dexterity, 18 ranks and Skill Focus (Open Lock) could open that lock solo in a couple of minutes with improvised tools (-2 penalty), and at level 20 with a 20 Dexterity could do it in an average of 12 seconds (+29 to the roll, so 11+ on the d20; just barely too high to Take 10) in the same situation, or do it in 6 with regular tools. Open Lock is a class skill for Rogues only.

Pick Pocket is, to be a little repetitive, a little self explanatory, and is also Trained Only. This check has both a fixed DC and is opposed by the target's spot check - if you beat the DC, you succeed; if not, you fail. If you beat the spot check, then you don't get caught; otherwise, you do. Basic sleight of hand, like making a coin disappear or palming something of similar size, is a DC 10 check; lifting a small object from a person is DC 20 - if you put ranks into bluff as well, then at level 2 you can Take 10 on this. Additional attempts are harder; a +10 is added to the DC. This skill is a class skill for Bards and Rogues.

The end is finally in sight; we just have two groups left to get through. The first, is Knowledge and Magic - We have the separate Knowledge skills, Decypher Script, Spellcraft, Scry and Use Magic Device

The Knowledge skills are separate skills for each field of knowledge, but they all work the same. Really easy questions are a DC 10 - practically everybody knows the answer to these. At DC 15, we have basic questions that a person may or may not know the answer to, and 20 to 30 is the DC for the really hard stuff. Someone who is untrained a given Knowledge skill may only attempt this for common knowledge; i.e. a DC 10 check. Knowledge Arcana is a class skill for Bards, Clerics, Monks, Sorcerers and Wizards; Knowledge Religion for Bards, Clerics, Paladins and Wizards; Knowledge Nature for Bards, Druids, Rangers and Wizards, and any other Knowledge skill for Bards and Wizards.

Decypher Script is a Trained Only skill, available only to Bards and Rogues. This skill is used for working out what writing means when it is written in an unfamiliar language. This skill is rolled secretly, and there is a Wisdom check of DC 5 on a failed roll to ensure that you don't draw any false conclusions. The simplest messages are DC 20. Longer texts may be DC 25, and ancient texts could be DC 30 or even higher. Note that you can't take 20 on this, since this skill cannot be retried.

Spellcraft is used for identifying magic; either as it is being cast or where it is already in place. It is also used for learning spells from a scroll or another spellbook - on a failure, this cannot be retried until a new rank in Spellcraft is gained. Learning a spell from a scroll or spellbook is DC 15 + spell level, as is identifying magic as it is being cast. Identifying magic already in place is Dc 20 + spell level. Finally, it can be used for some miscellaneous magical tasks, such as drawing runes, identifying glyphs or symbols, or understanding weird magical effects. Spellcraft is a class skill for Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers and Wizards.

Scry is used for remote viewing of places and people, or for telling whether or not this is being done to you. As such, only Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers and Wizards may train this skill, but anybody can use it untrained.

Finally, Use Magic Device is a Trained Only skill, available only to the Bard and the Rogue, which allows a character to essentially fool a magical item into working for them when it shouldn't. This includes pretending to be a different race, class or alignment, to have different ability scores - or it can also be used to activate a magical item without having any idea how it's supposed to be used. This is rather risky, since you cannot Take 10 or 20 on these checks, and a failure to activate a magical item blindly by 10 or more results in a mishap.

And, last but by no means least, we have the miscellaneous skills; Craft, Perform, Profession and Alchemy - I include Alchemy here, because Alchemy is essentially a Craft skill, but for Alchemical stuff. As such, in 3.5 it was merged into that skill.

Profession is a Trained Only skill, and over the course of a week, you earn half your check result in gold pieces. This is a class skill for everyone. It is mentioned here that the average wage of an untrained labourer is one silver piece per day - most such people have probably never seen a gold piece in person.

Perform allows you to make money using your skill at performing. A DC 10 check will get you a few coppers per day, DC 15 will get you a few silvers per day, DC 20 will get you 3d10 silvers per day, DC 25 gets you a few gold per day, and DC 30 nets you 3d6 gold per day. This skill is also the prerequisite for a number of Bardic musical abilities. Perform is a class skill for Bards, Monks and Rogues.

Craft and Alchemy, as mentioned, work essentially the same way. Basically, each kind of thing you intend to make has a set DC, and you make a craft check in order to make the thing. First, you work out the price of what you want to make in silver pieces. Then, you make the check. On a successful check, multiply the check result by the DC - that's how many silver pieces of progress you've made that week. Once you've got to the full price, the thing has been made. It's worth noting here, that a battleaxe costs 10 gold pieces, or a hundred silver pieces. A battleaxe is DC 15. A blacksmith with 4 ranks in Craft Weapons, Skill Focus (Craft Weapons) and an Intelligence of 12 can Take 10 to get an 18 - multiplying the two together, we get 270; enough to finish the axe in half a week. Making a masterwork weapon is DC 20, done separately from the DC 15 check for the axe - a Dwarf with the same stats could make such a thing because of their racial bonus. Because a masterwork battleaxe would cost 310 gold, or 3100 silver, creating such a weapon would take roughly eight weeks (a handful of days from 20*15 for the basic axehead, followed by 20*20 for making it the best it can possibly be).

Two months might seem like a really long time to make a nice axe, but it's worth remembering that this was pre-mass production, and that making this kind of weapon, the kind of weapon that costs more money than than the average level 1 PC has ever seen in their entirely life up to that point, actually does take quite a long time in real life. Your average blacksmith will not have these for sale. These cost a hundred gold pieces to make, so they would only make them to order. Making such a weapon would cost a little over a hundred gold pieces for the materials, and the blacksmith would want paying in advance for those. A masterwork weapon, incidentally, is the kind of quality of weapon required to create a magical weapon. By itself, it gives a +1 bonus to hit. Craft is a class skill for all the classes.

Alchemy has one additional ability: the ability to identify substances, potions and poisons. This has a DC of 20-25, and for the first two requires a gold piece worth of materials per attempt (or 20 gold pieces to Take 20). Identifying poisons, on the other hand, requires the use of a spell called Detect Poison. Alchemy is a class skill for Bards, Sorcerers and Wizards.

Well, that was longer than expected. A lot of this stuff, I didn't quite realise when I was younger. I honestly thought that a good blacksmith absolutely had to be level 5 at minimum, and that the Fighter could never even be competent at sneaking around. A lot of my original dislike for 3e came from those misconceptions. That said, it's probably for the best - that dislike led me to playing other games, and since then I have come back with fresh eyes. Next time, I'll be looking at feats. It'll probably be a very short post - which really sucks for Fighters, given that that's their special ability...

Edit: poo poo, I forgot about Appraise. Well, that's what happens when you try to do a detailed look at a skill list this long. It is far too loving long. There are some very good reasons for some of the changes 3.5 made from 3.0.

So yeah, Appraise tells you how much something is roughly worth. If you're trained, then you get an exact number on a success, and a rough estimate (2d6*10+30, for a number between 50% and 150% of the price. If you are untrained, you get the rough estimate on a success, and nothing if you fail.

Edit 2: I also managed to forget Concentration. Sometimes, concentrating on casting a spell during combat can be difficult. You roll this skill to see if you get to cast this spell. Do you cast spells? Get this high enough that you literally cannot fail it if at all possible.

hectorgrey fucked around with this message at 22:47 on Mar 13, 2018

OutOfPrint
Apr 9, 2009



Fun Shoe

hectorgrey posted:

D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 3: Skills

Holy Hell I forgot how much of a clusterfuck this was. There are dozens of skills, all with their own rules, a lot of which are traps, four different types of skills (class, cross-class, untrained, and class dependent), none of which actually make the game more fun to play, and all of which being entirely dependent on one ability modifier no matter the context.

My favorite 3.0 moment was my half-orc monk in a game that went comedic, fast, punching through a guard's face, snarling "Run away!" at the other guard with the first guard still attached to my monk's punching arm, then subsequently failing the Intimidate roll because he had a 6 in Charisma. The DM allowed me to retroactively switch to Strength for that roll, because the first guard's brain was at the second guard's feet, and the roll was successful.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Could have been an entertaining failure:
Guard falls to his knees screaming for his life hysterically.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


The issue with doing a CCG or a CCG-alike as your core conflict resolution tool is just the time it takes - chances are decent that you'd be playing a CCG with some playacting on the side. Granted, that wouldn't be much different than D&D 4e's "miniatures skirmish with playing on the side", but it's a lot easier to handle a party of four miniature characters than a party of four magic decks.

Not saying it wouldn't be worth trying, but it'd have to be a CCG light enough to get in and out of the way but still be interesting, and I think that's a lot trickier than it sounds.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



It'd be interesting to try, but you'd need to strip down and repurpose the magic cards a lot, make the decks a lot smaller, etc.

Like I love Magic but I'm also not gonna pretend that it cannot take for-loving-ever to resolve a game or even to make some decisions.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



I figure it has to be cubed first.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

Alien Rope Burn posted:

The issue with doing a CCG or a CCG-alike as your core conflict resolution tool is just the time it takes - chances are decent that you'd be playing a CCG with some playacting on the side. Granted, that wouldn't be much different than D&D 4e's "miniatures skirmish with playing on the side", but it's a lot easier to handle a party of four miniature characters than a party of four magic decks.

Not saying it wouldn't be worth trying, but it'd have to be a CCG light enough to get in and out of the way but still be interesting, and I think that's a lot trickier than it sounds.

the tricky part is designing a 4 vs 1 card game.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



rumble in the bunghole posted:

the tricky part is designing a 4 vs 1 card game.

Magic's actually tried that a few times, with Archenemy being the main official version, though the Hydra event from Theros' promo was also a thing, and fans inventing Horde format.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017


GM: "The Duke casts Fact Or Fiction"

The players all groan, one grabs in head in despair.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 7: "They once enjoyed a carefree life of swimming through the oceans eating sea plants, frolicking with other sea life, climbing onto land to sunbathe or explore, and occasionally piggybacking rides on the larger animals."

Monsters of the Magic Zone, Central & Eastern North America

I get the impression this book was probably initially hurting for page count or something, because that's the only real explanation as to why this book - ostensibly about Psyscape and psychics - includes 60 pages of monsters and D-Bees. Some relate to the psychic theme, but many don't. Still, all the same, let's get into them.


More like Vein... Hawk?

Blood Hawks are supernatural, rapacious... hawks. They have some minor psionics to detect other psionics and magic to avoid dangerous prey, but are otherwise aggressive mega-damage hawks. Not even that big, just megahawks. That's pretty much it.


"I know it's a little spartan. It's a fixer-upper."

The Dark Behemoth is a generic, truck-sized predator that burrows and tunnels and "often plays cat and mouse games", an oft-repeated phrase in these sections, but also says they "seldom use any finesse or tactics". Guh, make up your mind there. In any case, it takes a ridiculous amount of damage to fell it (average of 570 M.D.C.). It also has special face tentacles that can grapple, and a special bite attack when it dies where it does extra damage and then locks its jaw upon death. Because it's important to make sure your generic monster gets that one last "gently caress you, PC".


Fatality.

The playable-despite-being-in-the-monster-section Darkhounds get a lot of mystery. This is despite their fact is that their almost-certain origin is is that they're dog boys magically corrupted by Alistair Dunscon to betray the Coalition. It didn't work out so well, since they retained some of their loyalty to humanity and busted loose. And so they're feral, mega-damage dog boys that have formed into wild tribes throughout the region. There are some timeline issues, since Alistair's reappearance 12 years ago doesn't seem long enough to breed corrupted dog boys like this. But I guess you can just blame magic. There's at least an interesting note that though official Coalition orders are to kill them, most actual Coalition soldiers on the ground consider them to be good luck omens and don't do so. They're kind of an neat alternative to the dog boy with a reason to skip the Coalition, so I'll give them a pass.


"Is that a monkey?" "He's got a gun!"

Siembieda loves creatures that are generic toadies / sidekicks for bigger bads, and the Dragon-Ape fills that role this time around. They're greedy, cunning, and sadistic - technically you can play one, but they make sure to throw tons of passive-aggressive shade on that notion instead of just saying "no". "If a rare unprincipled, good or aberrant Dragon-Ape, the character will be viewed by most people as a feared and hated monster not to be trusted, and as a wimp and a loser by fellow Dragon-Apes and similar miscreants." About 10' long, they're modestly tough (avg. 205 M.D.C.), can fly, regenerate, and get a variety of low-level spells to use.


What happens when you mix a cat with another cat.

Nowak's Dragon-Cat is a psuedo-reptilian large cat that are pretty nice guys because, hey, that's a twist or something? No reason given, mind. They sometimes befriend humanoids and forge telepathic bonds with them (complete with extra mechanical bonuses); be sure to petition your GM for one of these to be your rad sidekick, I suppose. They're tough-ish (avg 160 M.D.C.) and get a variety of sneaky spells and psionics. Also, they hate evil because they do! Justify why on your own time, I suppose.


Totally on land.

Though it's pictured in water and flies through the air, this next predatory monster is still called the Land Ray for some reason. It's like the third or so ray-based monster (and at least the second flying one), but the Perez art is still pretty rad. They're psychic psuedofish, and fly around telekinetically while protecting themselves with a psychic body field. However, since they're just S.D.C. creatures and their psychic force field doesn't protect against energy, you can just kill them with one shot of a mega-damage laser pointer. They have a variety of telekinetic and psychic attacks to use, though. A neat visual, but the mechanics don't seem well-thought out - it can't even eat other mega-damage creatures with its S.D.C. bite!


"Did you notice my new hat?"

Necrophim & Soul Snakes are- well, see, you have a soul snake, and it offers an eeevil union and symbosis with a mortal creature to grant them power, because it's evil. And don't worry about killing a creature they bonded with, because they totally knew what they were getting into! Totally!... somehow. Also:

Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:

The Necrophim is typically a female, for the Soul Snake uses guile and seduction as one of its favorite tools for manipulation, as well as a weapon of destruction.

yea dudes r not hot ok

So the snakes go around turning women into tentacle skull monsters like you do, and drive them to evil because that's the alignment it has on the sheet. Though it keeps comparing them to gods or deities, they're not quite godly at about 500 M.D.C. They have a "Lust for Blood" as they have to feed on the innards of humans and D-Bees (like pandas and bamboo, only for your intestines) and can metamorph into foxy ladies because soul snakes like seducing. That's biblical symbolism! The snake can cast evil magic spells (mostly curses and spells with "evil" SFX) while the necrophim gets to strangling people. Also they get all the mind bleeder and super psionic powers, the former because they got reprinted in this book. And I get to move the gently caress on, because this monster is gross and dumb.


The potato of the sea.

"The Psymbiote (pronounced Sigh em be oat) is a small, greenish-brown, worm-like creature with a short, fat body from which branch dozens of tiny tentacles. Really, it looks like something from a bad, 1960s pre-Rifts science fiction movie." Way to throw some shade on your artists, Palladium, gosh. So, these creatures had a appallingly idyllic life, which is pretty much the stage cue for capitalism the Splugorth to show up and ruin everything by enslaving them. They lobotomize them, then implant them as psychic energy battery symbiotes in other creatures, then profit. Once the psymbiotes found out what was happening, they bonded with the Splugorth's goons and brain slugged them into obedience, forcing a rebellion and escaping through the Splugorth's dimensional portals across the multiverse. They've become more callous and manipulative due to their desperation, but mean well more often than not.

They get a farcical amount of psychic powers, but are mostly just vulnerable otherwise as weak M.D.C. creatures. They can bond benevolently or take over people, and apparently hundreds of thousands of them live in Earth's seas now. Would've been nice to know in World Book 7: Underseas! It's kind of neat to have a well-meaning race of puppet masters fighting to free slaves from the Splugorth, even if their background is ridiculously maudlin.


And then, suddenly I looked up to see: monster dick.

Shadelings are black hovering humanoids that might be evil ghosts or aliens but all that really matters is that they float around doing evil stuff just 'cause. While they're not much tougher than an armored human, they're immaterial and can only take damage from energy and magic (no mention of psionics, work that out yourself!). They get the abilities of a random spellcaster type, some mental psionics, and the ability to bore readers to death with their creeping genericity.


"Look, any old fantasy art will do, the fans don't care if it's actually Rifts!"

The Lipoca / Sun Demon is an evil, manipulative supernatural creature that tries to set itself up as a god. And, y'know, the necrophim did too, and I have to wonder at what point we end up with a city that's just where a bunch of these types of cult-leading monsters (because there's got to be at least a dozen now) set up and it's all just competing monster cults trying to play useless, pointless four-dimensional chess against each other. (You'd think that'd what Atlantis would end up being, but apparently not.)

What about the Lipoca? Well, they pretend to be Tezcatlipoca or a relative thereof (even though we're nowhere near Toltec territory in this book). We get a ridiculous amount of space put over to how manipulative and clever they are - nearly a full page - and they have around 1500 M.D.C. and a ton of powers out their rear end very vaguely involving sun and fire themes. It's a neat and creepy visual that's wrapped around what's now an extremely tired concept of the evil manipulative Satan-figure with the thinnest of gimmicks slapped on to pretend it's a new creature. What does it have to be manipulative for? It has 1500 M.D.C.! "Nature evolved me to be a immortal walking tank that shoots magical fire in all directions, but I decided to get into politics."


It's reused art, everybody run!

Vyarnect are generic demon-apes that are tailor-made thugs for your supernatural baddies. Granted, they have 200 M.D.C., so battles with groups of them as intended are generally going to slog down quite a bit. But I don't publish games, so what do I know? Lord Dunscon has a secret army of these guys, even though any human only has at best a 50% chance of communicating with them (usually like 25%), so I bet they're pro soldiers at taking orders. Also, everybody knows he's an evil wizard building up military might, why would they need to be secret? And where does he keep them? The basement? Aren't they unruly and bad at taking directions? Well, making sense is optional in the Megaverse.




"Hey, uh, I'm kind of stuck, a little help?"

Also we get notes on how Dunscon bred Spiny Ravagers (from Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign) to release into the wild in order to gently caress with the Coalition, but no word on how he might keep them from just rampaging across his own land. And for some reason we get nearly a page on how and why dragons use their shapechanging abilities. Why? What does it have to do with psionics or Psyscape?



actually i'm guessing it's so siembieda can use another piece of dubisch art he had left over of a dragon and we've got a really late book to fill

We do get credits under each creature. The Blood Hawk, Darkhound, Dragon-Ape, Shadeling, and Vyarnect are listed as being done by "Peter Murphy & Kevin Siembieda". Patrick Nowak is credited with the Dragon-Cat. The Land Ray and Psymbiote are credited as "Patrick Nowak with Kevin Siembieda". The Necrophim, Soul Snakes, and Lipoca are "by Kevin Siembieda, inspired by the art of Mike Dubisch". Nobody's taking credit for the Dark Behemoth - presumably that' Siembieda. I have a feeling they threw a lot of leftover content from Federation of Magic in this book or something, it'd do a lot to explain why out of the ten creatures here, only about three are psionics-themed. I guess "Psyscape and Federation of Magic's Leftovers" wouldn't have been as punchy of a title. The assortment of authors also makes it feel like Siembieda rounded up some extra help in filling out the page count to get this extremely late book shoved out the door.

Next: D-Bee F-Iller.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 02:27 on Mar 14, 2018

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Two things - one, one of our players had a Dragon-Cat that we called Cattle Bat because we were terribly clever teenagers. Second, I always wondered if the art for the Necrophim & Soul Snakes wasn't just something from Nightbane Kevin never got around to using.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Pathfinder (1st Edition) Alpha Playtest Release 1



Combat

* Cover used to work differently. In the playtest, you were supposed to draw lines from the corner of your square, to the corresponding corner of the target's square, and the target would get a +1 AC bonus for every line (out of four) that would pass through an obstacle. In Core, simply having at least one of these lines blocked is good enough to create cover worth +4 AC.

* Low cover also worked differently: in the playtest, if the obstacle providing the cover is 2-to-3 size categories smaller than the target, then the obstacle only provides half the cover bonus. Anything smaller provides no cover bonus. In Core, any obstacle no higher than half your height provides cover, but only if the attacker is within 30 feet.

* In the playtest, your Combat Maneuver Defense was computed as [15 + BAB + Str modifier + Size modifier]. In Core, your CMD was computed as [10 + BAB + Str modifier + Dex modifier + size modifier].

The playtest change itself meant that Combat Maneuvers would always be more difficult to pull-off relative to 3.5, but Core changing it from +5 to Dex modifier meant that it would always be hard, since high-level monsters could have Dex modifiers in excess of 20. There's a sidebar in the playtest explaining that beyond just "simplifying" combat maneuvers, the designers deliberately wanted to make them harder to execute.

* In Core, the Bull Rush definition specifically says that the movement caused by it does not provoke attacks of opportunity, unless the Bull Rusher has Greater Bull Rush.

* The playtest has a sidebar explaining that Grapple specifically no longer allows more characters to join in on a grapple, which was the subject of a couple of weird rules interactions in 3.5

* Another 3.5-to-Pathfinder change is with Trip: whereas 3.5 provided a flat +4 bonus to the defender if they had more than two legs or were otherwise "exceptionally stable", Pathfinder instead provides a +2 bonus to the defender for every leg past the second, which conjures up an image of a Giant Centipede with a CMD of at least 196.

Spells

* Black Tentacles, Crushing Hand, Entangle, Forceful Hand, Grasping Hand are rewritten in the playtest in order to describe how they'd work under the new Combat, Grapple and CMB/CMD rules, but are no different from the playtest to Core.

* Identify was changed from a complete identification in 3.5, to a +10 enhancement bonus on Appraise checks to identify an item. In Core, the associated skill is switched from Appraise to Spellcraft.

* Make Whole and Mending were rewritten in the playtest to describe how they'd work under the new item hit-point rules in Pathfinder.

* Stabilize, as I mentioned, replaced Cure Minor Wounds as a level-0 spell, since level-0 spells became at-will spells.

Gamemastering

* Pathfinder had to create its own experience table for leveling up, since those numbers weren't part of the 3.5 SRD, but the numbers are the same going into Core.

* Pathfinder also had to create its own experience reward table for slain monsters, for the same reason

(Pathfinder would also have to do this for wealth-by-level and other rewards, but that wouldn't show up until the later playtest releases)

* The playtest's rules for encounter building are a lot different from what Core would eventually settle on. I won't get into it because it really doesn't matter, but it was surprising, at least to me, that that wasn't settled this early on.

Later Playtests

Quickly going over Alpha Release 3:

* They revised Grapple one more time, because there were still too many different Grapple-states that needed to be referenced, even from Release 1

* There's an extensive section on Polymorph, intended to curb its power by limiting the effects to specific bonuses rather than letting players cherry-pick forms from the Monster Manual. This is one of the big bullet-points that Pathfinder always likes to brag about relative to 3.5

* There's a mention of an Optional Rule, that players should be limited to only having three buffs at a time, ever (excluding 1-round-duration effects), in order to avoid slowing the game down from having to recompute so many bonuses and whatnot. Does this ever get mentioned in the retail books?

* There's a sidebar about how it's a deliberate design decision that there's not supposed to be anything that "costs XP" anymore in Pathfinder, and in going through the 3.5 spells, anything that costs XP should instead costs five times that amount in GP.

* The wealth-by-level rules show up, and just like the other GM-specific rules, these are new and invented, since the original ones weren't part of the SRD.

Conclusions

The changes from the playtest to Core were ... not much. All of the big changes to combat, spellcasting, "dead levels", skills, feats, and class-specific abilities were all mostly done even by the first playtest release, and any changes from the playtest to Core were tinkering around the edges.

This isn't to say that Pathfinder didn't have a bunch of changes from 3.5, for better or worse, but that I didn't get the impression that there was a lot that changed from whatever feedback they were getting.

Whether that feedback was for more change and was overruled and ignored, or if the feedback pushed Paizo to be more conservative still with their design, I leave as an exercise to the reader.

The End

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Hey guys, throw me a concept for a pre-Visitation Scion. I'm getting back into my review now that...well, some questions I had weren't answered by Hero, so I have to discuss the problems that weren't addressed now. First concept I like gets made for chargen section.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

A local politician preparing for a tough fight in a special election is suddenly visited by Zeus, who announces that he's his father.

(Surely there's a funnier god than Zeus for this scenario if I had more time to think about it. Although I guess that isn't pre-visitation.)

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Mors Rattus posted:

Hey guys, throw me a concept for a pre-Visitation Scion. I'm getting back into my review now that...well, some questions I had weren't answered by Hero, so I have to discuss the problems that weren't addressed now. First concept I like gets made for chargen section.

A primatologist who keeps having near-fatal accidents and stumbles, Mr. Bean like, through fights where his enemies always seem to just miss him and hit their buddies instead (because he is actually the Handsome Monkey Prince and his dad wiped his name out of the Book of Death along with all the other monkeys.)

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

The bearded lady working a carnival attraction is actually the daughter of Guan Yu. Her beard is an inheritance because of his most famous nickname.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 9

The theme is that everything sucks, no-one can change anything, and everyone is evil.

The basic GMing advice is simple but solid: Always give players a fair chance to succeed, tailor your game towards what your players like, work towards having a good time, and communicate with your players. There's also a bit on how, as GM, you'll be playing the Inquisitor and you should work with your players to develop their boss. They might not know everything about him or her to start and you should feel free to work in some twists, but your players should have some say in the person giving them their jobs. There's also a note on how PCs are meant to be people who are a cut above average from the start but oh boy do the mechanics not bear that out until about Rank 5 3000 EXP in. PCs normally aren't a group before their Inquisitor throws 3-5 random people into a balanced party comp, which the Inquisitor does because they would like to succeed at their job. Once the team successfully completes a case and survives together, most Inquisitors will declare that a good team and keep those Acolytes working together until some of them die/go insane/turn Chaos. This is a perfectly fine framing device for why 3-5 people from far-flung worlds and backgrounds all get tossed together, and really, the heterogeneous PCs it allows for is one of the really fun parts of the framing device. A party of a Paradise World college professor, a battle-nun from Armageddon who is the daughter of a great Guard General, a simple Guard sergeant, and a Tech Priestess who grew up on a space hulk? Great! Your group of weirdos sitting in a space coffee shop or space bar after clearing out a bunch of horrors and swapping backstory is legitimately one of the fun parts of the game.

The game then gets into its themes, which boil down to 'No-one can make anything better, the Imperium is hosed, and everyone is evil'. You play as people who don't quite fit in in a highly stratified society, fighting for an agency that is as likely to fight itself or destroy the innocent as it is to accidentally kill the guilty. You're basically working for significantly less competent Witch Hunters. There's a lot of stuff about all the various evils you might fight, from insane psychic cults to rebels to incompetent planetary governments that need to be quietly regime changed before they degrade defenses further, but none of it changes that one of the core themes is that nothing you do is really going to matter. There is, essentially, no making progress in the 40k setting unless you're willing to dump a lot of the 40k setting, at which point why bother playing a 40k game? Just make your own techno-feudal space future without so much fascist apologia. God knows that's what most GMs and players are actually doing when they play 40kRP as it is, because the setting is actually really thin and small. It tells you it's big, because it has huge numbers, but if you're sticking to actual canon it's an incredibly constraining setting to write and play in.

This is what I mean when I say 40k isn't actually that good of a setting for an RPG. The book admits that the scale of action is so high that your characters won't matter. Travel is extremely awkward and difficult. Actual playable setting details are very sparse. You'll end up writing whole planets and things anyway, so why use this setting at all? The setting tricks you into thinking that it's brought a lot to the table while demanding that the individual author or GM do most of the actual inventing, and the stuff you get from the setting isn't even very good. 40k started life as a joke, and was probably better left as a joke, but it doesn't even have enough to really sustain itself as a joke, because it only has one punchline and it's 'everything is awful, blam'. 40k just isn't very good at being anything that isn't a big, bombastic war game. Everything is, by canon, too constrained and tight to really allow much wiggle room or action by the characters, and again: Once you put all that in, why not just say 'Okay I've written this colony, and you know what, I'm just going to use it as the setting and stuff the Imperium.' The best games I've had all focused on single planets or a single system or sub sector anyway.

You're meant to get about 200 EXP a session. Somehow I stuffed that up when running and gave 400, and it turns out that makes the game a hell of a lot more fun and makes the advancement less of a crawl. One of the things that was good about WHFRP2e is that the average 100 EXP a session meant you got at least one new thing to buy every session. If you're saving up to, say, advance a Bad Stat at the basic rate of EXP, you'll be doing so for 3 sessions. That's quite a lot of time! This also means that to hit the 15000 EXP cap will take you 73 sessions (with the 400 you start with) which is, uh, optimistic about the longevity of a game. This is also a little unfortunate because the feeling of progression as you move up the ranks is actually quite good. There are also rules for giving EXP per encounter, but these will usually end up giving you less EXP per session and so we never bothered with them when I was playing.

There's also a bunch of unnecessary subsystems with the various social skills that actually just boil down to 'Set difficulty, roll check' in the end anyway. I'm not going to bother going into too much detail.

And now we get to one of the biggest mechanical bed-shittings in the line. Fear, Insanity, and Corruption. Remember how Fear was a simple thing in WHFRP2e? Just save with WP+Talent Modifiers or freeze for a turn, still able to parry and dodge but not fight back? Or run away if it's Terror? Well, here, everything causing Fear has a Fear Rating. The higher the rating, the more of a penalty you get to save vs. fear. Fear 1? +0. Fear 2? -10. Fear 3? -20. Fear 4? -30. If you fail the WP test, you then roll on a FEAR TABLE with +10 per Degree of Failure on the WP test. Most of the results will give you things like a -10 to all actions for the rest of the encounter, being unable to approach the Fear causing enemy, losing actions, or if it's bad enough (though this is unlikely) d10 PERMANENT WILLPOWER DAMAGE. That's right, if the GM puts down a Fear 4 monster and your WP 30 Guardsman fails bad enough and gets unlucky, you're now WP 30-d10! Which is potentially like 1250 EXP worth of damage! The other problem here? Most enemies who cause Fear are Fear 3! Remember: There are entire classes who will have a hard time advancing their WP or gaining anti-Fear talents. Fear also causes Insanity points.

Insanity is now a line from 0-100 instead of 0-6+ like in Fantasy. At 100 Insanity, your PC is too shattered to be a PC anymore and is lost, no Fate allowed. Many Fear effects cause d5 or more Insanity per go. You also gain Insanity from doing awful things for the Inquisition, and gaining enough Insanity forces you to save with WP or suffer a temporary trauma (every 10 Insanity). Every 30 Insanity, you get a mostly-roleplaying-and-annoying mental disorder. The one upside to insanity is that you start gaining immunity to Fear as it goes. For every 20 Insanity, you become immune to a new Fear rating. So Fear 1 at 20, 2 at 40, etc. Meaning an Insanity 80 character is actually completely immune to further Fear checks and can only gain Insanity by their actions or scenario gains, now. You can remove Insanity, but it's at the cost of 100 EXP per *single point* so uh, I don't think anyone has ever done that. Much like the IP system in Fantasy, Insanity doesn't really add much to the game and isn't that well thought out.

Corruption is even worse. You gain Corruption when you fail a Fear check against demonic enemies, when you witness unholy rituals (which you know, Inquisitor's lackey. You're going to), or when you dabble in bad stuff or have bad stuff happen to you. Or if you're a Psyker. Psykers gain a shitload of Corruption and Insanity from Perils. For every 10 Corruption you gain, you good old SUPER loving IMPORTANT Willpower with a penalty based on how much corruption you have. If you fail, you take various permanent curses that do stuff like lower a stat by d10, or give you bouts of illness that cause -10 to everything in various situations, or other terrible problems. Every 30 Corruption, you pick 2 stats and roll tests against them. If you fail *either roll*, you mutate. Given you work for a bunch of paranoid secret police catholic space nazis, genetic impurity in your PC might be Really loving Bad if anyone finds out, not to mention most mutation is harmful and weird. You cannot use the same two stats for your second or third mutation test at 60 and 90, and naturally if you hit 100 CP your PC has fallen and you 'die'. Alternately, go play Black Crusade (This is, in fact, the intended explanation for most human Black Crusade PCs: They're DH/Only War/Rogue Trader characters who hit 100 CP).

Next we get a primer on the Dark Powers, but given I've already covered Fantasy's Tome of Corruption and that the Dark Gods really aren't at all different between games, we know Khorne, Tzeentch, Slaanesh, and Nurgle just fine, I think. Only difference being here that Slaanesh is *super into* eating space elves because they kind of caused her. There's also an actual system for Radicals and idiots to make pacts with demons. The pacts can grant some incredibly powerful abilities (Like Unnatural Toughness, regeneration, huge stat gains, enormous wealth, great knowledge, etc) and are actually mechanically hefty enough to tempt a player a little. They also represent a great way to make some scary boss heretics for your hapless investigators to find. The cost is, of course, you're now bound to a demon, it can make you do stuff to maintain your end of the bargain, and it costs a shitload of corruption (though amusingly, the demon slows down future corruption gain and makes it easier for you to hide yourself so as to keep its mole working in the Inquisition). You take 20 Corruption for making a pact. Ouch. If you betray the demon and deny it its price later, it withdraws benefits, causes one Malignancy (the Corruption curses), and steals a Fate Point, but you're free. Well, as free as you get with a powerful enough and intelligent enough demon to be making pacts running around waiting to do horrible things to you.

Legit, I like the Dark Pacts. They make for good enemies, and the complications they cause are the kind of thing you'd want to talk to the group and GM about before introducing, but they can give you huge stat gains, temporal power, etc that you might be really tempted to ask for in order to succeed. And you can still tell the demon to gently caress itself and then deal with the fallout and a new, really pissed off rival for your group, which is really a pretty ideal ending to such an arc.

Next Time: The Imperium of Man, and more yelling about the setting

JesterOfAmerica
Sep 11, 2015


Mors Rattus posted:

Hey guys, throw me a concept for a pre-Visitation Scion. I'm getting back into my review now that...well, some questions I had weren't answered by Hero, so I have to discuss the problems that weren't addressed now. First concept I like gets made for chargen section.

A luchador Incarnation of Ītzpāpālōtl, who is trying to find work after her league got shut down due to mysterious circumstances

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



Rand Brittain posted:

(Surely there's a funnier god than Zeus for this scenario if I had more time to think about it.

Probably Pluto.

The politician is running a shoestring budget campaign based on more open elections and campaign financing reform but then discovers their dad is basically the god of rule through old money.

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GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Rand Brittain posted:

(Surely there's a funnier god than Zeus for this scenario if I had more time to think about it. Although I guess that isn't pre-visitation.)

The funnier answer is always Sun Wukong.

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