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Jun 14, 2015

slime time

Oh boy SenZar

oh no SenZar


Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Night10194 posted:

This isn't just distasteful, it's *boring*. One of the fun parts over in Fantasy is watching the various weird peoples and countries all end up having to tolerate each other to work together when Chaos comes knocking. While that still happens a fair amount in 40k off the books, the whole gleeful fanatic purifiers of genocide thing just gets old. Your only 'sanctioned' interaction with a ton of stuff in the setting is 'chainsaws, flamethrowers, and rocket pistols.'


40K gets such ridiculous special treatment it has almost single-handedly driven me out of gaming as a hobby in the past. If you took that revolting setting and removed the Games Workshop branding, or even just ran a find-and-replace over the setting-specific terms and faux latin, this very thread would be denouncing it from the rooftops. Genocide and why it's awesome! A pogrom on every page! Or at least the ones that aren't titty space nuns being slaughtered so their purity rubs off, no really that's a thing that happened.

I have never for a moment bought the "oh it's meant to be ironic" excuse. Even in the 80s it was a hell of a lot less ironic than people wanted to think. But no, people played the tabletop game and liked it, and they don't want to think a thing their teenage selves liked could actually be fascist apologia or that their fellows round the table might have less than pure motives behind their enthusiastic demands to burn more heretics. If only the RaHoWa guy had thought to release a miniatures range!

And yet...and yet...we got Rogue Trader, a deeply entertaining concept (gothic mercantile Star Trek, basically) with some fluff that manages to stop short of the vomit-inducing crap, and even some bits of Deathwatch can manage to be noble. These are of course the bits written by Fantasy Flight themselves rather than Games Workshop, but it cements my suspicion that the majority of people don't actually play "canon" 40K, they play a nicer version toned down just enough to let all the PCs be fascist bastard power fantasies once a session but otherwise act within social contract norms and feel like they're achieving something.

The worst possible thing you could do to a 40K RPG player would be to force them to actually play in the setting written in Games Workshop's own codexes (and frankly some of the stupider ends of Dark Heresy) with an uncompromising GM ("you have blasphemed against the Emperor, the next five sessions will be your torture and execution. Roll Willpower to see how often your PC screams"). But frankly I think most 40K fans could do with having their noses rubbed in it like that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

There's a reason the Tau are more interesting when they don't brainwash people but are instead just Blue Starfleet in a universe where that's a comically dangerous thing to be.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Scion: Origin: Knackered

So, most advancement is through XP. The XP pace is determined by the group, with the ST handing it out based on story milestones and completion, and PCs getting it by Deeds and spending Momentum. Typically, however: You get 1 XP for showing up. If you achieve your short-term Deed, you get 1 XP. If everyone achieves their short-term Deed, everyone gets another 1 XP. If you achieve your long-term Deed, you get 2 XP, but cannot earn this reward again until everyone else has gotten it, too. If the players manage to spend half the Black Pool in a single scene, everyone gets 1 XP, as long as that amount is more than 1. (What's the Black Pool? We'll get to that in, uh, a while.) If the group hits a story milestone, everyone gets 1 XP, or 3 if the group completes a story.

XP can be spent on Skills, Attributes or Knacks, though the game wants you to only do so at the end of an arc. A dot of an Attribute costs 10 XP, a dot in a Birthright costs 5, changing your Favored Approach costs 15, adding a dot to a Skill costs 5, and a new Knack costs 10. You must be supernatural in some way to be able to buiy Knacks. On top of spending XP, however, players are allowed to make sheet tweaks after every session. Tweaks have no cost. The following are allowed as tweaks:

  • Shift a dot from one Attribute to another, or one Skill to another.
  • Swap an inactive Knack for an active Knack; you have to already know both, obviously.
  • Write a new short-term Deed.

You may, as a note, only have five Deeds active at any given point. Also, the ST can let you spend XP or use a Tweak during play if they're feeling generous - but anything you change that way is stuck until the session ends.

So, what do your Paths do? Paths give you access to anything relevant to yur concept - if you're a cop, you can get into the police station. If you're filthy rich, you have money. You may also invoke your Path. This part of the game says that when you Invoke your path, you can:
1. Once per session, call on a connection (that is, a group of associates related to the Path) or a contact (a specific person related to the Path).
2. Once per session, add +2 dice to any roll that plausibly involves your experience related to the Path. On a roll that's Path-boosted, you can also spend successes on Twist of Fate stunts.

Twists pf Fate were mentioned before, but again: they let you edit the world. At Origin-level, they aren't explicitly supernatural changes. However, any character with a Legend trait can use Twists of Fate stunts to achieve supernatural effects. So if your Path is King of Beggars and you have Legend, you can use a Twist of Fate to summon all the beggars in the city as a flash mob, or temporarily heal a beggar of some illness. The main thing is, Twists need to stem from the fictional principles of your Path, and everyone has to agree it's fine.

Connections are the people and resources your Path gives you access to. Connections come in three types - access, group and contact. Group connections are some well-defined collection of related people - so, Jane can probably use this to call on her professional colleagues for help. Contact connections are specific NPCs related to the Path that you have a relationship with - Jane's advisor, maybe, or the trail guide who helps her out. Access connections are the things your Path just lets you use - so Jane can get into academic databases. Once per session, your Path connections may require you to perform a task, which you can take on as an extra short-term Deed. Typically, these are things you can manage within a single scene, though often at a slight burden to you. If you do not complete your obligation, your first attempt next session to use your connections is at Complication 2.

Contacts are where things get weird. See, whenever you invoke your Contact, you get 2 points, which you can spend to create or boost Contacts. Each Contact starts at a rating of 1 and has one tag, and each additionaly point can add one tag or one dot. (I think. It isn't entirely clear.) Tags define what a Contact can do for you, and in situations where they're useful, they add their rating as an Enhancement to your roll. Tags are stuff like Dangerous ('is good at fighting'), Informant ('good at finding clues'), Loyal ('will never betray you'), or Numerous ('can be used to get temporary helpers').

When you want to invoke a connection, you declare which one you're using and roll an appropriate Skill + 2 dice. If you're using a Contact, they do what you need. If you're trying to leverage your access, you get Enhancement on your next roll based on your successes. You may call on any given connection twice per session, which contradicts the stuff above. If you've already invoked a Path twice this session, you can, quote, "still inoke it for more dots." Which contradicts what we were just told. The first time you do this, you get the Suspended Condition, which gives Complication 2 to engaging with anyone in the Path group until the session ends or you fulfill a specific obligation the ST gives you. If you do it again this session, you get Revoked, which means you cannot access your Path's connections until you dedicate a long-term Deed to getting back in their good graces.

Again, I have no idea how this actually works because the rules contradict themselves three times.

So, Knacks! Knacks are generally fairly subtle at Origin tier, rather than explicitly or blatantly supernatural. Mostly. Until you get a Legend trait, if you somehow have access to supernatural Knacks, such as by being a supernatural critter like a Kitsune, you can only ever use one supernatural Knack at a time. (Which really isn't much different than normal, since at Origin tier you can only have one Knack active at a time regardless.) Knacks often require a Knack Skill roll, which is a skill role determined by the ST and player, and the ST chooses the Arena, the player the Approach. Many Knacks also require you to spend Momentum. Momentum spent on Knacks does not provide the normal bonus dice. Knacks that provide Enhancement can also bend the rules a bit - most of the time, Enhancements require you to roll first and get a success before they add successes. Some Knacks can make them add their successes regardless of your roll. Knacks cannot, generally, be applied to anyone two Tiers higher than you or more, unless they specifically say otherwise. If two supernatural abilities oppose each other, you also have to make Knack Skill + Calling rolls to see which applies, with ties favoring the defender.

Any Calling can learn the following Knacks:
Aura of Greatness: You pick one of Leadership, Empathy or Persuasion. You get Enhancement 2 to one roll of that skill per session because you're super cool.
Born to be Kings: The first time you would add to the Momentum pool each Scene, add 2 points instead of 1, because you're super cool.
Scent the Divine: You can sense other Scions and divine beings and which pantheon they belong to, either by scent or sound that only you can detect. (The ST is instructed that they can, if no one takes this, feel free to randomly hand out the effect if they want to. There's a chart listing what scents and sounds are associated with which pantheon, for the core ten.)
Somebody's Watching Me: Your divine parent is always ready to help. In any scene where you would be in danger, either two Mooks or one Professional show up to help you fight, but leave when the scene ends.

Creator Knacks help you craft, shape or destroy objects. Crafting rules (and Creator Knacks) can easily be used for plans, computer code or esoteric effects as easily as physical ones, as a note.
Innate Toolkit: You suffer no penalty or injury for performing your craft with your bare hands when you'd normally need special equipment.
Perfect Rendition: You may flawlessly illustrate or recreate images of anything you have ever seen with photographic clarity, without a roll. This requiresa Clash of Wills if the thing was obscured supernaturally.
Reverse Engineer: When you take something apart, you instantly understand how to rebuild or recreate it.
Flawlessly Platonic Ideal: Whenever you create or improve an object, you may ignore up to (Creator dots) of Flaws. In combat, you can upgrade light cover to heavy with a roll. If you have materials, you may spend Momentum to transform normally non-protective items, like cardboard boxes, into light cover.
The Unlimited Quartermaster: You always know where to find mundane crafting supplies without a roll. Unless the thing is extremely rare or your access is blocked by a rival, you can get it easily, assuming you can pay for it and are fine with shipping time. If something or someone ever prevents you from doing so, you get a Clash of Wills.
We Go All Night: When you're working on a project, you can work for (Creatore Knack Skill) days straight before you need to rest for a day.
Wireless Interface: You can use up to (Knack Skill) electronic devicess simultaneously without touching them, though you need to do a mixed action to do anything else while doing so.

Guardian Knacks grant resilience and good senses, to help protect others. Typically, you have to pick a specific person to protect, and it's worth noting that most party members will rarely need it - they usually are able to fight. Protect those who are weaker than you.
A Fortress: At the start of any combat scene you make a Knack Skill roll with Enhancement 1. You can spend these banked successes on stunts whenever someone attacks you but misses. Your stunts from this can do things like let someone you're protecting immediately disengage, heal minor injuries or armor damage, or get additional attacks against people that attacked your charge.
A Purpose: You select an ideal to dedicate yourself to. Whenever you act to defend that ideal, you get +1 Enhancement on applicable rolls, including Stunts gained from other Knacks, if you can have more than one Knack.
A Sentinel: Pick a person or group of trivial targets as your charge. When you guard them, you and they get +1 Derfense for as long as you're in the same range band, and you get +1 Enhancement to keep track of or defend them.
A Talisman: You can bless an object with a Knack Skill roll. Anyone bearing the object gets Enhancement 2 to defend or protect against a specific person, thing or situation of your choice when you lay the blessing. If you are making a talisman for your protected charge, you don't need to roll.
A Vigil: When you stand guard over someone, somewhere or something, you don't need to eat or sleep while you stand vigil, as long as you can see the protected target. While you can talk, move around and so on, you must devote your time to standing guard. You can only do this for one thing at a time.
A Warning: You can sense danger by spending Momentum to double your successes on any roll to detect ambushes or tell if someone means harm. If you are doing this while protecting your charge, you don't need to spend Momentum.

Healer Knacks help you heal people.
The Bare Minimum: You can always safely tend to wounds, even without sanitary medical gear, at no increased difficulty or risk.
Combat Medic: When you tend to an ally's wounds in battle, once per turn you can remove any minor injury they've got, including armor damage, without a roll. However, you can't make mixed actions while doing this.
Damage Conversion: When you spend an action to heal someone, even yourself, you can convert any Injuries to one grade lower.
Doctor's Kit: At the start of any combat scene, you can roll your Knack Skill. Any successes are banked and can be spent on Stunts whenever an ally is in the same range band as you and takes an Injury. You can use these stunts to heal injuries, mostly.
Immunization Booster: You pick (Knack Skill) targets to care for. While you care fore them, they get +2 Enhancement against disease, poison and recovery from injury. NPCs are automatically protected and do not need to make rolls.
Surgeon with the Hands of God: You halve the time needed for any medical procedure, and never get increased difficulty for critically ill or injured patients.
With a Glance: When you spend time interacting with someone, you can automatically tell what ailments or other pertinent medical information apply to them, though you need a roll to diagnose supernatural diseases.

Next time: More Knacks.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Everything in 40k is more interesting when you're playing as the people who dare to be decent in a hellish world. The problem is, all official material really isn't made to go along with that kind of thing, and so at a certain point, why not just take some of the imagery and make your own setting?

Apr 27, 2017

PurpleXVI posted:

Anyway, the cover is... I wanna say pretty goddamn 90's. I also kind of want to know who the hell THE BRÜNE is, to deserve a pseudonym while everyone else goes by their real names. On the first page of the book, where everyone else is capitalized normally he, she or it is also in ALL CAPS. Seem to have been a primary artist for the game, as far as I can tell. If you can believe it, SenZar also has a pretty hefty flock of playtesters(credited, anyway), somewhere close to 80. And, as a charmingly 90's touch, all of the creators' "how to get in touch" email addresses are That's totally going to date the book even if nothing else gave it away.

I am friends with one of those 80 play testers who talks about how he tried to save it, I could forward any questions people have about the history of the game.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Mors Rattus posted:

There's a reason the Tau are more interesting when they don't brainwash people but are instead just Blue Starfleet in a universe where that's a comically dangerous thing to be.

The original idea of the Tau as 'Actually the heroes, but they're a relatively minor power whose struggle will be surviving long enough to adapt and become an actual force and who will be on the razor's edge of defeat at all moments until then' was so, so much better.

Poland Spring
Sep 11, 2005

Hell even with the brainwashing they're still light years ahead of pretty much every single other faction

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Scion: Origin: Knicknack

Hunter Knacks are, at the mortal level, all about pursuit, tracking and avoiding detection. They do not require you to literal stalk someone, though - you can do so figuratively, such as pursuing a hacker through a mainframe or hunting down an evil kami hidden in some blueprints. The main thing is you have to be pursuing opposition.
Apex Predator: When someone of lower Tier attacks or tries to hunt you in return, they must increase the cost of all Stunts applied against you by 1. If this target is your quarry, this increases by another 1.
Eyes in the Blinds: You may spend Momentum to invest some power into a small token. You can put this anywhere in the Field that you're aware of. As long as it's in place, you can observe the area as if you were present, which lasts for one day of in-game time or one session, whichever is longer. You can have someone else place the token if you like. If the token is destroyed or removed, the effect ends, and the more dots of Hunter you have, the harder it is to notice.
Internal Compass: You always know your precise direction, no matter what. You never need to roll to navigate somewhere or to stop being lost. If entrapped in a magical maze, you get Enhancement 2 on the Clash of Wills.
Keen-Eyed Predator: When you enter an area, you get to make a Knack roll and ask (successes+1) questions about things like what kind of hazards or present, where the exits or safe entries are, how many enemies are present, which is the biggest threat and so on. The ST will answer honestly.
Most Dangerous Prey: You can name an enemy your quarry. You get +1 Enhancement on all rolls against them while in pursuit, including attack rolls, until the session ends or you catch them, whichever comes first. Attacks against your quarry can also use special stunts to let you do extra movement or prevent the target from moving.
Silence in the Woods: When pursuing a target, you are completely silent, getting +2 Enhancement to avoid detection based on sound or vibration, which applies before the roll. You cannot be detected by sound via recording equipment while this is active, either.
Worrying Hound: While pursuing a target, you cannot get any increase in difficulty even if they fly, hide in water or try to lose you. You always have some idea where they went, and get +1 Enhancement to keep up with them or apply stunts from other Hunter Knacks. When hunting your named quarry, you get another +1 Enhancement.

Judge Knacks are all about seeing and analyzing the truth and being just.
Eye for an Eye: When you get an injury, you may spend Momentum to inflic tthe same injury on the attacker. They must have attacked you directly, not just done area attacks or had you jump in the way. If the target can't take the same injury for some reason, they get one of similar severity.
Indisputable Analysis: You can spend a minute or so observing something you want to analyze and make a Knack Skill roll. You get the successes as Enhancement to all rolls to analyze and investigate the specified incident for the rest of the thing, and this Enhancement applies before you roll.
Lie Detector: Anyone of Tier lower than yours gets +2 Complication to lie to you. If you are currently casing and they're somehow involved, they just can't successfully lie, period. The ST also will tell you when they lie, or if they believe something is true but might not be.
Objection!: Pick a target. Anyone targeting them gets +1 Enhancement to rolls, applied before they roll. You can also use a stunt on your attacks against them to make them have to roll to avoid havin to either flee or get +2 Difficulty to all attacks.
On the Case: When you investigate something, you are casing. While casing, you get +1 Enhancement to discern motives or find clues, applied before you roll. Casing lasts until the end of the session.
Quick Study: You halve the time it'd take to do an investigation, or quarter it while casing.
The Truth Arises: When you talk with someone alleged to have committed a crime, you can make a Knack Skill roll. On a success, if the target is guilty, the let some info slip that connects them to it. The ST will tell you beforehand if the target has no valuable info to leak.

Leader Knacks are all about swaying people and keeping order. Many of them rely on your followers. Followers are typically not PCs, and are often trivial targets, though not always.
Captain of Industry: When you take charge of a group, you can roll your Knack Skill. You can reduce difficulty for actions taken by the group based on your successes, with a limit of people inspired equal to (Leadership + Leader) - or ten times that per point of Momentum you spend. The difficulty decrease explicitly does not apply to you, but while inspiring people, you get Enhancement 2 on Social rolls involving leadership, including stunts gained from Knacks.
Cloak of Dread: You are super scary. You can Spend Momentum to double successes on any Knack Skill rolls to intimdate people, and enemies of lower Tier won't attack you. Nor will extras.
Good Listener: When you chat with NPCs, they will tell you a clue you're looking for if they know it, no matter how untalkative they are. The ST will tell you beforehand if they don't, and you immediately know they're irrelevant to your goals. You do not need to roll for this.
Grand Entrance: When you make a first impression, you roll your Knack Skill. On a success, you get +1 Enhancement on all Social rolls made towards the target until the end of the session.
Lighthouse of Society: When you are in a tense or chaotic situation, as long as the crowd hasn't been directly scared by magical means, you can get them to remain calm and do as you say in an orderly fashion, no roll. Supernatural stuff requires a Clash of Wills.
Perfect Poise: You are immune to nonmagicla fear, and get Enhancement 2 against magical fear, applied before you roll. You get Enhancement 1 on Social rolls involving grace, poise, composure or keeping a poker face, applied before you roll.

Liminal Knacks are about travel, messages and silence.
Beyond Memory: Anyone trying to describe you or recall specific details of interacting with you has to roll to remember anything at all, and has Complication 1 to recall your identity on top of that. You can spend Momentum to double successes on your Knack Skill rolls to avoid passive detection or notice, though not active searching.
Complete Privacy: You cannot be eavesdropped on, your phone can't be tapped and your lips can't be read by mundane means - or anything similar, for that matter. All attempts to tail you get +2 Difficulty. However, this works only against covert attempts to invade privacy - TSA can still check your bags and people can still break into your house.
Experienced Traveler: When you go somewhere new, no matter how remote, you pick up the most important social mores, behaviors and language needed to get by. You get +1 Enhancement to rolls to blend with the culture, if a roll is even needed, applied before you roll. When you attend social rituals, you always know the rules and appropriate dress code, even if you weren't invited.
Flatlander: When you hit someone with an attack, you get access to special stunts and Enhancement 1 to use them. These stunts can remove someone from reality until their next turn, lower Initiative or reduce the distance between you. Because magic. Look, this one's weird.
Neither the Minute nor the Hour: You can make a prediction about the details of someone's death, which need not be a true one, and make a Knack Skill roll against them. If you win, they get +1 Difficulty to all actions for the rest of the scene.
Unerring Delivery: You can send a message via another person - a random stranger, a spirit, a ghost. They will deliver that message, no matter what. This message will be delivered to your intended target in an instant, even if you or they are not in the World or are in places where texts or emails cannot reach.
Unobtrusive Visitor: When you observe or infiltrate somewhere oyu don't belong, you can spend Momentum to appear as someone unassuming and invisible, such as a janutor. As long as you just collect info, observe, and take no hostile action, everyone overlooks you. This ends when you do violence or leave, whichever is first.

Lover Knacks mess around with relationships, attention and emotions.
Fluid Appeal: When you interact with someone, you can tell what they enjoy about other people. Any later interaction allows you to shift your freatures to be more appealing, giving +2 Enhancement to any persuasive social action, including but explicitly not limited to seduction, which applies before you roll. You can't use this to conceal your identity.
I am a Fire: You can push people - including yourself - towards a relationship. For two NPCs, you work with the ST to determine how this sudden, passionate relationship happens. If you target a PC, this doesn't work without their player's permission. Targeting yourself, you get +1 Enhancement to all Social rolls involving your chosen partner until the end of the session.
Lover's Intuition: When you touch someone, you understand their love life, and can ask a number of questions based on a Knack Skill roll + 1 to learn who or what they love, who they're involved with, who they're close to and who they want to be involved with, among other things. When used on PCs, you need the player's consent.
On Your Side: When you make a teamwork action with someone you are devoted to, intimate with or romantically involved with, you get +(Lover) Enhancement to spend on stunts, including those from Knacks.
Not A Fighter: When you're in a fight, as long as you don't attack anyone, enemies will not directly target you. You get +1 Enhancement to disengage or withdraw. You must have a partner or followers present for this to work - if you're solo, you can't just not get attacked.
Perfect Partner: Double the benefits you provide from teamwork.
Soothing Presence: When you enter an initial social encounter, you reduce Attitude by 1. For any other interaction where you try to get someone to relax, calm down or be welcoming, you get Enhancement 1 on any rolls that apply or any stunts gained from Knacks.

Sage Knacks are about knowledge, learning and teaching.
Blockade of Reason: You cannot be tricked, coerced, swindled or conned by anyone of lower Tier, and you get a Clash of Wills against supernatural attempts, which you have Enhancement 2 on.
Master of the World: When inside a Field, you may define up to 3 points of Enhancement, Complication or any combination of the two that are readily apparent to your perception but not obvious to others. They must reasonably conform to the Field's features - a shotgun behind a bar, say, but not a bazooka. No matter how many Scions you have with this power, only three total can be applied to a Field at once.
Palace of Memory: You have perfect, flawless memory, no roll needed. You may get rolls to rediscover clues messed in prior scenes, and may declare narrative advantages you remmeber without needing to invoke your Path every time.
Presence of Magic: You can always tell when you are near something or somewhere truly sacred or magical, by whatever means you choose. The ST must tell you if objects or places are magical or sacred, no roll needed.
Office Hours: When someone comes to oyu with a problem you can solve, they get +1 Enhancement to resolve it themselves if you work them through it. If you can't solve it, you get the bonus to rolls to solve it on your own. Both bonuses apply before the roll. You may spend Momentum to cause an NPC to come to you with a problem.
Omniglot Translation: When speaking or reading foreign languages, you understand them perfectly and have no accent. You can translate amazingly, no roll needed. If translating mystic or divine languages, you are still fast, but need to make a Knack Skill roll.
Speed Reading: You halve the time needed for any academic research. Once per scene, you may establish you've read about a subject, getting Enhancement 1 to the next applicable roll, with the bonus applying before you roll.

Trickster Knacks help lie, cheat and steal.
Blather and Skite: When you say nonsensical things to someone, they have to spend a moment trying to figure it out, giving you time to do something. This works automatically on those of equal or lower Tier, but needs a roll for higher Tier. For each success, you buy one turn or five minutes, whichever is more immediately applicable, before anyone realizes you've done something and are alerted. If used on a PC, you can't succeed without the player's consent.
In Sheep's Clothing: You don't need to roll to disguise yourself, and may easily change your hair, skin or eye color, apparent gender or height (within a few inches), though you can't take on someone else's exact appearance. This disguise cannot be seen through unless your speech and actions give you away. The ST may require, at their discretion, rolls to blend in.
Light Fingered: You do not need to roll to steal or pickpocket anything you could conceal in your hands. If used on a PC, you must have the player's consent. You can't steal anything curently in use - to get someone's wepaon, you'd first have to disarm them.
Rumor Miller: You can make a Knack Skill roll to cause a rumor of your choice to spread about someone, making sure it reaches the ears of whoever you intend to hear it.
Smoke and Mirrors: Once per scene, when you'd be Taken Out, you can spend Momentum to negate the damage and move one range band away from the attacker, leaving only a brief afterimage that crumbles to dust.
Takes One to Know One: When you're the target of a scam or lie, you know it. You don't know the truth, just instinctively are aware you're being lied to or cheated.
Wasn't Me: When you do something with legal or social consequences, you may transfer the blame to someone else of equal or lower Tier, which lasts until the end of the session, plus 1 scene per success on a Knack Skill roll. To do this to a PC, you must have their player's consent. Once the delay ends, anyone of higher Tier who was duped realizes it and will probably seek vengeance.

Warrior Knacks are for fighting.
The Biggest Threat: When you make a show of force or intimidate a foe, you can make a Knack Skill roll to force them to focus on dealing with you first, getting +2 Difficulty to attack anyone else.
Close the Gap: The first time you make a combat movement roll in a scene, you make a Knack Skill roll instead. You may spend the banked successes on stunts for the rest of the fight. These Stunts include being able to Rush without having to roll, prevent enemies from Disengaging from you or ignoring Difficult terrain.
Death By Teacup: When you use an improvised weapon, it takes on the stats of any existing weapon of similar size or shape that you choose. This lasts until you no longer hold the object, it breaks or you are no longer used it with a Warrior Skill - whichever comes first. For thrown objects, it lasts until impact. This is compatible with the Master of Weapons Knack, within that Knack's normal limits.
Enhanced Impact: Whenever you deal Injury with your Knack Skill, you also knock the target back one range band. (This deals no extra damage.)
Master of Weapons: At the start of each session, pick one of your weapons to be your favored one. When using it, you may add (Warrior) additional Tag points to it, which do not have to fit the existing weapon profile. For example, you may add the ability to strike at Far range to a sword. You can spend Momentum to swap what weapon benefits from this, but can't use it to purchase Tags with negative cost.
Trick Shot: When you use a ranged weapon to show off, you convert any extra Difficulty caused by your showmanship into equivalent Enhancement, which you may use on any Ranged Attack Stunt except Inflict Damage. This bonus is applied before you roll.
Well Tempered: When you wear no armor, you have the Armored tag. When fighting minor characters or anyone of Tier lower than yours, this stacks with any increased difficulty of the Inflict Damage stunt granted by other armor.

Next time: Combat rules! Also, combat rules.

May 4, 2013

Enough sideburns to last a lifetime.

I think I finally got the whole 40k thing by comparing it to another, related product of British culture: namely, the British extreme metal/grindcore scene. It started out with ludicrously over-the-top everything, from lyrics to music to song length, all cloaked in irony meant to highlight how bad things were, due to connections to the anarchist and hardcore punk scenes. You’d have bands like Carcass, who primarily wrote about gory violence, that were formed by hardcore vegetarians and animal rights activists. As time went on, bands formed around the sound that didn’t quite get the politics or intent behind it, until you end up with people who act surprised when they learn about the origins. The extreme sounds filter out, get adopted and co-opted, and eventually you have whole genres about how no, actually, murder and darkness are things to aspire to, eventually culminating in garbage racist RPGs by Norwegian felons.

With 40k, the universe gradually shifted from bleak, over-the-top 2000 AD fans to people who like the aesthetic but don’t care about what’s behind it. And that’s where the fascist apologia comes in - a media form built on critique loses the people who were making those critiques, and the aesthetic that’s effective as a skewering of people and politics in a particular place by a particular group turns into a glorification, because that’s how the text reads. I’d say it’s not worth rescuing, because the same people who argue for encouraging the Catholic Space Nazis and see them as cool will be unable to accept changing what it’s turned into.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Basically the conclusion I came to eventually, as well. 40k isn't really worth rehabing partly because the extent of change necessary is such that you should just write your own thing at that point.

Which is a little sad because I have had some loving *great* games with Dark Heresy. Like, this review is weird for me because the game and setting are deeply flawed, but the game is competent enough and functional enough and I had all these good experiences running it in college.

Lucas Archer
Dec 1, 2007

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks – Weapons, Equipment, and Monsters

Change of plans on the order in which I'm writing this. I'll go over the map stuff when we start off on level 1 of Barrier Peaks. First, Barrier Peaks introduces a lot of different types of equipment, none of which is easily used for the adventurers due to their technological ignorance. Gems, jewelry and other valuables can be found but the real treasure is all the future tech poo poo scattered throughout the dungeon. Almost all of the tech that can be found is charged by power discs, which are essentially portable batteries shaped like a small coin. They have a maximum of six charges and can’t be recharged.

Before we get to the items, we have to cover the technological items system. “Whenever a new item is discovered, the character may attempt to operate it or merely stow it for later inspection. Any attempt to use such items must use a flow chart to simulate ignorance.” We get four of them, and the simplest one is shown below. There are charts for complex non-lethal items, simple lethal items and complex non-lethal items (complexity increasing with each one).

Put a token on the start position and have the player roll a D10. Lower is better, and there are modifiers that can apply. Rather than listing them out I’ll say it’s better to be smart, bad to be dumb, and it’s easier if you’ve seen the item used before or have had someone tell you how to use it. “The DM is encouraged to show the appropriate picture and to describe the steps taken whenever players attempt to learn the use of an item.” I’m a fan of this system both because it’s not something you expect when you play D&D, but also because all the weapons and items look loving weird. It would be difficult to make this step feel “natural” if you had a bog-standard sci-fi stars wars looking blaster as the blaster pistol. Everyone knows how to use that. But the ridiculous looking blaster we see in this module is alien to us, as players. So I just feel like this system works, thematically speaking. I can’t speak to practicality though, having never actually witnessed it in action.

The Blaster Pistol. Look at this crazy thing. The description for the items are all given as if explaining to someone who’s never seen it before. “When found, this item will usually be folded. It weighs about 1 ½ lbs. and will unfold to about 1 foot. It is composed of a U-shaped section of metal rod with a black rivet on one end and an attached piece of thick glass mounted in a frame. This glass is about the size of a hand mirror. On one side of the frame are 2 raised discs, while on the other is a fine mesh, mounted on a rod. The two sides of the glass are dark on one side (the firing side) and clear on the other (the viewing side). In the hinge joining the handle and glass frame is a slot about the size of a coin.” The glass is the viewfinder, displaying targeting information. You grip the bottom handle, thumb on the button to fire. The top dial turns on the viewfinder, the bottom magnifies the screen. Power discs go into the coin slot. The pistol does 5-30 damage, save v. petrification for half. It will disintegrate armor unless the armor saves and destroy all shields less than +3 immediately. It takes 1 power charge per use, and can fire 2/round.

The Blaster Rifle. From what I can tell, this is one of the most powerful weapons you can find. You fit this bad boy on by putting your arm through the leather band and fitting the big metal plate against your shoulder. The band automatically constricts to a comfortable fit so you don’t need to hold onto it the entire time; helpful. It has three differently colored buttons. The black button is a disruption beam, vaporizing “anything short of hull metal when it hits”. Save v. petrification to only take 5-30 damage and be stunned for 1-4 rounds. Shields are destroyed and armor needs to save or be destroyed as well. Nice, what else do we have? The white button fires a heat beam, melting anything in a 4’ beam that fails their save v. petrification. Any metallic armor reduces the saving throw by -7(!), but magic bonuses from armor are added back. Finally, we get to the red button, the flame plane. Really a flamethrower, it shoots a triangle of flame out 5”. Anything inflammable begins to burn, and creatures take 4-24 damage, 2-12 on save v. petrification. This is the only setting which does not harm armor. It can fire 1/round and takes 2 power disc charges. Too bad you only get 3 shots before having to change the disc, and power discs aren’t exactly common.

The Laser Pistol. Just put your hand through the hole and take hold of the bottom grip. The beam comes out through the ruby rod on top. It can fire 2/round and only takes ½ power disc charge. Save v. petrification or take 2-16 + AC of target damage (so negative armor classes reduce the damage). However, if not saved against, there is a 10% chance of damaging a limb (rendering it useless) or the head (instant death!). That’s a fun surprise!

The Laser Rifle. Sweet shades. It’s really just a more powerful version of the laser pistol, but with the added bonus of the specs (without which, if you fire the rifle, gives targets a +2 on their saving throws). It can fire 2/round and takes a single power disc charge. 2-20 damage + AC, same as the pistol. Moving on.

The Needler Pistol, one of the few weapons that doesn’t require a power disc to use. But at first glance, this could be anything! I love it. This thing shoots bundles of needles out of the small muzzle, which do 1-6 hp per needle. The dial switches the firing pattern from broad to narrow – narrow is single target (d4+4 needles hit), while broad can target up to 5 creatures (1-2 needles per target). Maximum damage by the needles is limited by AC though - only AC 6 or higher can take full damage. If your AC is 0 or lower, you take no damage from needles. I’m assuming at high level AD&D, it’s easy to get your AC pretty low, so this looks kinda like a poo poo item. HOWEVER: there is an ~optional rule~. Anyone hit by the needler makes a saving throw. Roll a 1 and they take 12 damage and permanently lose an eye. Fantastic.

This looks like one of those toy pistols that has all that poo poo that spins arounds and whirls inside colored plastic when the trigger is pulled. It is the Paralysis Pistol. It fires in a 6” cone, and the length of paralysis depends on what range you get hit at: short (2”) will paralyze for 3 turns, medium (4”) for 2, and long (6”) for 1. Successfully save and it’ll be reduced to rounds, or slowed at long range. Fires 1/round and takes 1 power disc charge.

There are a few suits of power armor in the dungeon and they’re pretty loving badass. Wearing a suit of power armor gives you an AC of 0, 50 shield hit points (regenerating 1 per round), 50 armor hit points, a built in laser pistol, among other powers. What more could a growing adventurer want? How about 18/00 strength for grasping and lifting, immunity to gases or airborne contaminants, infrared sensors and an anti-gravity system? It’s internally powered so no need to hoard power discs for this thing – in fact, the book says “it is only rechargeable at specialized terminals. None of these terminals exist [here].” So it’s not rechargeable. It looks like the only thing that really drains the power is the anti-grav system – which can last up to an hour of continual function. For each round used in operation, it has to recharge for one turn. If that runs out however, the shut powers down. My dickish DM alarm bell is ringing – since the text doesn’t explicitly state what happens if someone is inside when the power shuts off, I can totally imagine an adventurer being sealed inside a suit of dead power armor. Unless you run the anti-grav constantly, I don’t think that would be a problem though.

The wound healing canister adds to the parties healing powers with a spray that heals 2-24 damage and cures any diseases, infections or spores on the skin. A full canister has 6 charges, and there’s a useful dial showing how many charges remain. One spray = one charge.

Finally, there are also multiple types of grenades scattered around. They come in four flavors: explosive, poison gas, sleep gas, and incendiary. They have timers, giving a 2-5 second delay before exploding once activated. Explosive grenades do 5-10 damage within a 10’ sphere, save for half. Those within the blast are stunned for 1-4 rounds and deafened for 1-4 turns, less for those near the blast. It can also create shrapnel from normal material. Poison gas grenades are save or die. Successful saves will be begin puking everywhere for 1-6 rounds and be unable to fight. Sleep gas grenades are save or sleep for 2-5 turns. It requires two consecutive saves to fight off. Incendiary grenades do 2-12 damage, no saving throw. Everything that can catch fire does. For 1-3 rounds, anyone inside original blast radius continues to take 1-6 burning damage from the residue. Hope you don’t gently caress up trying to figure these things out!

While Barrier Peaks has quite a few interesting monsters, I’ll get to many of them when they are encountered. These are three of the most common.

These guys look kinda like daleks from Doctor Who. However, they are the police robots, the programmed lawful neutral police force encountered in the dungeon. They seem pretty tough. The bog standard version comes with 60 HP and a 20 HP shield that regenerates 1/round and an AC -1. All four of those arms can be used as weapons (2 having 18/00 strength). Included in the robot itself is a built in laser pistol, six various grenades, a paralysis pistol, a tractor beam which pulls objects like the telekinesis spell, and a pressor beam which pushes objects like the same (capacity 300lb). They can also never be surprised and are immune to cold. However, they (and all other mechanical devices found) have a weakness to electricity. There’s a chance each time a robot is hit with electric damage it shorts out entirely. It’s a pretty low chance though. Finally, these robots usually will make any attacks non-lethal – they’re trying to arrest you, not kill you. However, there’s a 25% chance any police robot has gone homicidal and will fight for blood. Police robots are pretty common early on in the dungeon, and can make continuous appearances throughout. They’ll carry either a red or an orange card (keys).

That thing looks scarier than a police robot at first glance, but don’t worry. It’s just a worker robot. There’s both big and small varieties. The big ones move cargo around, while the smaller ones work on repair projects and such. It doesn’t make mention if they’re immediately hostile so I think if the adventurers encountered any while wandering the halls, I would play it as a non-combat encounter (unless my group decides to “investigate” it). They do have one big move though – if attacked, there is a 10% chance a large worker robot will activate its heavy duty tractor or pressor beam – capacity is 2,000 lbs. I’m not sure how much damage that would do but I’m betting it would be a lot.

Get used to seeing these guys because they are everywhere in the first level. The standard vegepygmy is a “vegetable creature” that live in tribes and hunt and scavenge. All they eat is meat, no matter how rotten. They naturally adapt to their environment, color wise, so they usually get some good camouflage when on their home turf. Normal bands have a chief with some bodyguards and sub-chiefs for every 50 vegepygmies. Arrows and other pointy weapons do poo poo to them – 1 point of damage on hit. They’re also immune to electricity. They reproduce by either propogating buds from their bodies, or by a patch of russet mold. I’ll talk about that when we get to it because it’s part of an extremely cool trap. We’ll encounter these guys really soon.

In addition to other monsters, there are a few more items I’ll get to when we encounter them in the dungeon. As for this, next time we’ll take a look at the map of the first level, and dive into the Barrier Peaks.

Jul 19, 2012

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

World of Pugmire
The GM's chapter opens up in a welcome out-of-character and rather frank way.

At some point between now and when Pugmire starts. Humanity dies out. We don't know how, the dogs don't know how, and it doesn't really matter. We left behind nanotechnology, quantum computers, artificial life forms, and other more bizarre things. Animals evolved to human-like intelligence either through our direct guidance or by being exposed to our leftovers. These are called "Uplifted" animals.


Uplifted dogs were not only given new abilities, but they also had medical problems like hip dysplasia, diabetes, and collapsed tracheas removed to make their lives more comfortable.
"I acknowledge that pugs live in a perpetual state of suffering but they're just so cute so we handwave away the fact that we've bred them into a thing that should not exist"

There are still non-uplifted animals, and dogs, but "Dogs" just call them "canines". to differentiate. And yes, the Dogs have dogs as pets.

But the uplifted animals don't live in the post-apocalyptic ruins of old new york. What's been left behind is hazy and indistinct. There are zombies and ruins but they're removed from a 21st century context. They do know that the Old Ones existed in a variety of times, and technological advancement. But they don't know about the Bronze Age or the Renaissance, instead they just have the "Ages of Man" in a sort of vague sense. They're aware that Newspapers are from "an earlier age" than e-readers but don't know who invented the printing press. They uncover concepts like democracy and medicine and try to reverse engineer the concepts but they don't have context for these terms.

So dogs have rebuilt to a roughly mideval level of technology mixed in with several anachronisms. Anything they can't understand is simply 'magic' and treated with a mixture of religious reverence and intellectual curiosity. Also, dogs refer to the whole of mankind as "Man" not out of any sort of gender implication. but because the term "Mans Best Friend" has achieved a sort of deific context for them. They use "man" in phrases where we would use "God" (I swear to Man, Man drat it, etc) Though in other contexts they also use "Old Ones" if necessary.

Dogs know that they were uplifted, but since they view Mankind as a sort of god-figure, they believe that this is literal. They were lifted up and placed at the side of the divine. The Church of Man believes that all species that were uplifted(though it gets a bit more vague as to how the other species were uplifted) are worthy of respect because the old ones have blessed them all. But dogs are "Mans Best Friend" and thus the holiest of the uplifted.

Physically dogs are about the size of humans with some variance, between four and 7 feet tall. Since the ancient texts state that humans were bigger than dogs, some scholars have extrapolated this to believe that humans were 12 or 20 feet tall. They're more like humans than they are canines. They're bipedal, though they can run on four legs to go faster they're not as good at it as canines, and they have fingers. They can see in full color, still have fur and tails, etc. They live to be around 40-50 years old. They're a puppy till 10, young adult till 15, adult till 25, mature adult until 35, and an old dog after that.

The book goes into some more detail on "Families" here. Dog families are huge and sprawling, and usually dogs marry distant relatives. Sometimes dogs marry into other families, or adopt. So you'll sometimes see a Large muscular malamute looking "Papillion". Dogs don't recognize the "Breeds", those are purely a game mechanic, but they'll say things like "Small chatty dogs like the Pugs bother me." If a family finds a relic of the old ones, they're declared a noble breed.
Buuuuut ignoring the sentence from earlier "Some dogs that find love outside their families are cast out to become pariahs." Because sure.

The book namedrops uplifted fish and birds that rule the waters and skies before immediately mentioning that they are both Sir Not Appearing In This Book. Instead we get Cats, Rats, Badgers, and Lizards.

While there is a bit of historical animosity and inherited stereotype from their time at the foot of Man. Dogs and Cats were literally at war just a few decades ago, so there's some real tension here.
The Monarchies of Mau are a loos confederation of independent city-states. They're autonomous groups that work against each other as much as they do other species. Over the centuries six main monarchies have formed out of a coalition of houses that work together in a complex political web. So cats have a surname and a house name.
And if you're thinking "Wait, six monarchies? Does that mean there's a Strength City and a Dex City and a Con City..." Then congratulations, you have pattern recognition.
Outside of the war there are other reasons dogs might not trust cats. For one, cats see spirits and have ties to the dead that extend to literal actual necromancy.

This has led dogs to believe that cats are unwholesome and defile the dead for their own fiendish purposes. Also many cats who have left the Monarchies ("Moggies" are the equivilent of "Strays") have difficulty finding legitimate work in Pugmire, and are forced into less savory occupations. So dogs naturally assume ALL cats are like that, and the cycle repeats.

Rats are equal parts dismissed and vilified.
Dogs and Rats have had conflicts for as long as either can remember, but Rats don't have a city or empire that can be attacked or negotiated with(anymore, they may have had an old city but if they did it was long overrun by monsters). So they live in old ruins, mines, caves, heaps of garbage, etc, in search of "Shinies" that they can trade to other species in exchange for food or shelter. Some rats who manage to live in pugmire create criminal empires because they know they'll never get fair treatment from a dog, which enforces the stereotype, cycle repeats.

Some of the rat's negative reputation comes from the Cult of Labo Tor, sect of rats that worship Man's 100 Theories. The White Mice wear white robes and bleach patches of their fur white, and believe that the 100 Theories can only be discovered through the science of Man. Though "Science" to them means "Capture other people and subject them to horrific and deadly experiments". Most rats reject the White Mice but they're almost impossible to root out.

And otters and polecats and weasels and ferrets and wolverines(oh god there's 6 of those too...). They don't seek to build a civilization as much as they want to take it from other people. The various factions don't cooperate very well, and there's tales of a legendary Ferret assault against a dog city that had just been conquered by Polecats. But rumors are circulating about a badger king, Kibu the Red, that's seeking to bring the various settlements and armies together in unison against the other species.

Nomad tribes that roam the more aird parts of the world in colorful caravans, acting as traders and messengers. Some lizard tribes settled in cities built on the small areas of green between the deserts and civilization, many however are content to simply move from location to location as a collection of tent cities, making thier living through barter, scavenging, and ad hoc work. Most lizards cover their faces when speaking outside their community and use strange magic to defend themselves.

Demons and The Unseen
Dogs attribute things like Rabies, Cannibalism, and Mange to invisible Demons. They might be right, the book doesn't say. But demons are a constant threat to Pugmire.

History of Pugmire
Centuries ago, dogs lived as small families taking up residence wherever they could. Whenever larger groups would try to build a city, dogs would start to perish by unseen hands and the survivors would flee in terror. Eventually a Pug re-awakened his ability to sense the unseen and started travelling between encampments flushing out and killing the demons. It wasn't long before dozens of families were following him. But all the good land was claimed by the cats of the Monarchy of Korat. The unclaimed land by the Acid sea was difficult to grow crops on, and a river poured tainted water into the nearby plains, creating a thick boggy mire. But they had no other choice so they settled the mire.

Soon after they settled in, a dog named Anastasia Akita uncovered strange writings in a nearby cave that spoke of ancient gods called Man, as well as information on how to drain the mire and clean up the river. She believed the discovery of such knowledge to be a miracle and gathered other dogs to her cause. The Pug found out that Anastasia had this information and decided to work with her. In return for her help in building his kingdom he declared her growing collection of followers to be the kingdom's official church.

The Rise and Fall of the Hounds
For years the Pug family ruled Pugmire, supported by the Church of Man. However other families felt that they would be best suited to rule the kingdom and should have equal say in government. The queen at the time instituted a royal court and the leaders of each family could act as advisors to the crown, but this wasn't enough for the Hounds.

The Duke of the Hound family went to the church and argued that rather than having a single family rule by royal decree, each family needed to do something to further the cause of the Kingdom and the Church. Any family that found and presented a relic of Man would be considered a noble house. Since the church would have final say on who would become nobility they leapt at the chance to become a political power, and the queen saw the way the wind was blowing. Rather than subject her descendants to a long and bloody civil war, she abdicated and asked the dukes and duchesses to decide amongst themselves who would rule. Of course the Hound won.

However, the other various hound families thought that they would get preferential treatment under his rule. But he was fair and even handed. Some of the branch families found their own relics and became their own houses, by the time the King was too old to carry on his duties his house had diminished to a fraction of it's size. Over a dozen different hound families vied for the throne but the nobles threw their support behind the Papillons. Outraged, most of the Hound branch families left Pugmire to build Houndton to the south. For years the two kingdoms had economic and political conflicts until the Queen worked out an agreement with the ruler of Houndton. He would swear fealty to Pugmire and become Lord Mayor. Pugmire became an empire.

Imperial Exploration and the War
That settled, Pugmire cast their eyes to the Acid sea.


Many artisans and engineers, seeking new challenges, struggled to make a ship that would survive the intensity of the waters in the Acid Sea. Eventually, the answer was found in Pugmire’s most valuable resource: The Man-given miracle mineral of plastic.
Making ships out of plastic was incredibly expensive, but Pugmire was becoming a rich kingdom, and so a handful of plastic ships were created. The area south of Houndton was used for the construction of the fleet, and thus Waterdog Port was created.
Did I mention that Pugmire uses plastic currency? Pugmire uses plastic currency. They literally mine plastic.

The monarchy of Korat bargained for access to Waterdog Port, but they were unwilling or unable to contribute the cost of building more ships. Tensions flared and brawls between dogs and cats at Waterdog port became increasingly common. The Queen banned all cats from Waterdog Port until Korat could control it's citizens, but the insult was too great to bear. They used the incident as the key to their ongoing negotiations with the other 5 kingdoms and they unified to force the dogs to give up Waterdog Port entirely, and cripple pugmire.

Long story short, the dogs lost control of Waterdog Port, which the cats renamed "Mau's Glorious Waters", but then the cats relinquished control over it since the natives were fighting them tooth and claw. Now Waterdog port is independent. The queen died in her sleep, and her successor negotated a peace treaty.

Dog Culture

What the poo poo is this.
The Word and Code of Man
The Word of Man is the ideology man laid down for dogs, according to the church. The full word is massive, volume upon volume compiled by the Shepherds of the Church from what they've learned and feel is right. But since no one memorizes the entire bible, they came up with their own Commandments. The Code of Man.

Be a Good Dog
You know, someone else put this far better than I can.

"Good" is a nebulous concept, and basically the church uses this as a beating stick, any violation of the other Tenets of the Code means you aren't a good dog.

Obey the Master
Obey those who are in charge. This is how a Kingdom functions. Some dogs rankle under this tenet, believing that they are their own Masters, or that only Man can be called Master.

Bite only those who endanger you
"Bite" isn't literal, but basically don't attack someone who isn't a threat. What constitutes a "Threat" is hotly debated.

Defend your home
Almost no one debates this one, except on what you can call a home. But if someone's threatening your family you can probably "bite" them.

Stay loyal to those that are true
If you betray a friend to save your family, are you still true? Are you loyal? are you a good dog?

Protect all from the Unseen
Fetch what has been left behind
Find Masterworks, Bring them to the Church. Make the church more powerful.

Then there's 7 paragraphs on how dogs consider eachother friend and how dogs marry and that the nobility of pugmire tries to encourage people to marry along family lines or for reasons of political gain... but then this pops up.

I mean on the one hand, yes. But on the other hand you're in a medieval level culture that rather harshly punishes those who stray outside of their gene pools. I'm all for this but there's other problems that need fixing first, Yosha.

Technology and Magic

There's a blurry spectrum between what the dogs consider Technology and what they consider Magic. If a dog achieves a real scientific breakthrough they're probably lauded for "Unearthing a Secret of the Old Ones". A piece of magic that the dogs can replicate and make commonplace becomes Technology. There's also blurring of the lines in other ways. A suit of armor that's lighter and stronger than metal is "magical" even if it's not really Magical.

Time and Money
Dogs use Plastic as currency. 10 shards make up a Chunk, and 10 Chunks make up a Coin. Any particular shard, chunk, or coin might be different than another shard because Dogs are kind of new at the whole Currency thing, and prices can vary based on time, location, scarcity or whim.

Dogs sort of inherited the idea of a 24 hour day but they haven't figured out how to actually keep time. So a Day is the time from one sunrise to the next. an "Hour" is any length of time where the sun or moon moves in the sky but doesn't change from morning to night. a "Wag" is however long it takes a dog to wag their tail, and is used in parlance as we would "Second".

Yes, dogs drink. "from bowls and waterskins (mugs were briefly fashionable, back when the Pugs were first in power but dogs with long muzzles couldn't drink from them without making a mess)"
I don't know why this paragraph is here other than as an excuse to include this artwork

and really they just could have not.

There's not much here worth repeating other than that the Pugmire police force wears blue tabards (Because they're the Good Boys in Blue), and there's a Dog KKK Called the "Friends of Man" who lynch cats and the leaders of the Friends of Man are actually possessed by demons and are trying to get a possessed dog onto the throne of Pugmire. Because... sure?

The City of Pugmire

This mostly just a section of adventure hooks for storytellers. But it boils down to Westwall Quarter = Religious District, Northgate Quarter=Laborers District, Southgate Quarter=Merchants District, Riverwall Quarter=Cat Slums. The one thing i noted that actually made me laugh was the section on Mr. Meow's Grooming. Which is the best groomers in all of Pugmire, such that nobles will sometimes disguise themselves and sneak into Riverwall to get their fur done. The constabulary is absolutely convinced that he's up to some nefarious deed, and he definitely puts up pretenses that he is. But he's not a criminal. He's a patriot. He's an old spy from the Dog/Cat war and he puts all his profits into helping the poor and downtrodden cat families living in Riverwall while he acts up a big scheme so that the police are spending more time hassling him than poor people. He's waiting/praying every day for the bug out order so he can scoop up the families he's rescued and take them back to Mau.

There is however this great 2 page art spread, which I share with you now

Other Locations
Fearful Forest
The boundary between Pugmire and the Monarchies. No sane cat or dog chooses to cross it alone. There's all sorts of strange things living in the forest, sentient trees being the least of it. A few roads have been cut through it during the war but even the army doesn't like using them.

Houndton is a collection of Castles and their surrounding peasant housing. One for each of the nascent hound families. Whichever the ruling Hound is, their castle becomes the seat of government. Some families are well equipped for this as they have held power several times. However the Transylvanian-Hound family was financially devastated by their brief rule as they tried to build a long winding road to their castle which was on the tallest crag in town. and Castle Transylvanian-Hound stands empty, mouldering and looming over all of houndton because OF COURSE IT'S A loving DRACULA CASTLE THERE'S loving TRANSYLVANIAN HOUNDS AND FFFfffffff...

Mutt Town
Right on the edge of the fearful forest because no one else wants to live there, but no one will bother them there. They've created an industry out of exploring and harvesting the forest and provide wood and rare plants to Pugmire.

Waterdog Port
"Primarily governed by finance, as well as spite" Coin rules the day in waterdog port. It's not completely lawless, but if a thriving contraband industry ruffles the fur of those in Pugmire and Mau well all the better. Pugmire and Mau let them exist in this state because they have the only shipbuilding industry around and it's cheaper and safer to sail from Waterdog than it is to brave the forest.

Masterworks are the magic items of Pugmire. And most of them are exactly the same as they would be in 5e... except not. Because not only do magic items need to be attuned, they need to be "refined" to bring them up to snuff. A Baseline Amulet of Health sets your constitution to 18, a refined one sets it to 20. How do you refine magic items?

Spending your level up advancement, of course.

Those things you only get 9 of.

Masterwork weapons start off as normal +1 weapons, but can be refined a whopping 4 times. That's quite a bit of an investment, but if you do..


•The bonus the weapon provides is increased
to +2.
ºº If this refinement is taken again, the bonus
the weapon provides is increased to +3.
ºº If this refinement is taken a third time,
the weapon adds a number of damage
dice equal to the user’s proficiency bonus.
For example, if the user’s proficiency
bonus is +2, then successful attacks roll
three damage dice instead of one.
• The weapon now does an additional damage type.
A level 10 character using a fully refined greatsword rolls 7d12 damage when they attack.

This seems very powerful, but a very large investment for a character that's probably already starved for feats or ability score increases... which is why I'm now going to pull these sidebars out of the "How to run a game" chapter.


Dynastic Play
An alternative to continuing to play after level 10 is to have interconnected chronicles. In dynastic play, once the player characters have reached level 10 and played through a story or two, they settle down and have or train puppies. The players create new characters that are the puppies related to or mentored by their original party. If the original character had a masterwork, that could be passed down to the new character as an inheritance or gift, and any improvements to the artifacts are kept by the new characters — a clever way to “power up” your new puppy characters! Then you can start a new chronicle detailing the adventures of the next generation of explorers, and you can reference events and characters from the previous chronicle.
I.. just.. no. If you want people to keep getting more powerful why not just keep the 20 level system?


Playing Beyond Level 10
Sometimes, you just don’t want the game to end. All of the player characters have reached level 10, but the players want to keep playing and, more specifically, keep improving their characters. On the surface, there’s nothing stopping this — it’s easy enough to allow players to keep taking improvements for their characters, and to keep increasing their proficiency bonus every two levels. However, in my experience the game tends to break down after level 10: Enemies become easier and easier to defeat, and characters end up with so many different tricks and abilities that it can be hard to keep track of them all. But if your group is eager to play a group of old, grizzled veterans ready to take on the most dangerous and powerful things in the world, enjoy!
Yes, 5e's math is kind of broken, there's a reason why most 5e games don't go past level 10... but compressing 20 levels down to 10 doesn't actually fix that problem.

The Masterwork chapter also introduces Exotic Weapons... which aren't Exotic Weapons, they're wands and Staves, except not really. They're just really powerful ranged weapons that deal strange types of damage, can only be fired every other round, and if you fail the ammunition saving throw they crumble into dust. And since they're exotic weapons you need to spend one or two advancements progressing through the Weapon Aptitude tree to use them, so only Archery Hunters can really use them without the fear of a d20 roll just rendering your levelups pointless.

After this is the Bestiary but there's nothing really groundbreaking here beyond some decent art I've already peppered through the review.

Pugmire has some really good worldbuilding, but they keep making rather painful sacrifices at the altar of OGL. The spellcasting system is a somewhat unique take on trying to balance the martial/caster divide, I like the way most of the classes are built. I just don't like that your level-up decisions are a massive logic tree with several failure points that wouldn't otherwise need to be there.

But that's all there is of this book, so Remember: Be a good Dog.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

I love how the Barrier Peaks weapons are not immediately recognizable as guns. If I came across the blaster pistol lying on the ground, I'd think it was a smartphone or computer of some sort, probably until I accidentally blew my head off. The lasers at least look like they could be some sort of weapon, but could be misconstrued as some sort of bracer with a stiletto or piercing weapon attached to it. And the needler is not obvious in which direction the actual muzzle is.

Lucas Archer
Dec 1, 2007

Young Freud posted:

I love how the Barrier Peaks weapons are not immediately recognizable as guns. If I came across the blaster pistol lying on the ground, I'd think it was a smartphone or computer of some sort, probably until I accidentally blew my head off. The lasers at least look like they could be some sort of weapon, but could be misconstrued as some sort of bracer with a stiletto or piercing weapon attached to it. And the needler is not obvious in which direction the actual muzzle is.

When I was flipping through the art book before reading the adventure, I saw the needler and thought it was some sort of healing item. The healing canister, I thought that was a grenade. And the blasters look like nothing I would expect to use as a weapon.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Awwwwwww, yeah, blasters and power armor in D&D fantasy. Ever since Might and Magic I've loved that poo poo.

Jun 14, 2015

slime time

I may have some bias, but basically every animal group sounds more interesting than the dogs.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Leraika posted:

I may have some bias, but basically every animal group sounds more interesting than the dogs.

Have to agree, Dogs suffer from Generic Fantasy Human Syndrome, where they culturally do not stand out in any way beyond being the playable group.

Jul 19, 2012

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

It doesn't help that their culture is founded on the principle of "Pugs are the best dog and could see demons so they made a kingdom and everyone in it is good"

You get into the seedier underbelly in the plot hooks section but most of it is just "Some Dogs are racist against cats".

I assure you that Monarchies of Mau makes the cats just as uninteresting because of their chronic backstabbing disorder and the houses being divided up by primary ability score.

Aug 27, 2013

With SenZar's intro there, the basic thrust of what the SenZar trio (or perhaps the SenZar duo, plus a helpful wandering ogre of some sort) wanted was to make a game where the player could feel like their character was powerful. Which... fair enough, that's a noble goal. Unfortunately, they also seem to be the kind of guys who want to counter criticism in advance, so when they write you get something weirdly combative right out the gate.

Unless the rest of the book proves me wrong, the use of Ayn Rand could be taken as more of a negative example of getting carried away. 'We're NOT crazy or jerks, we're just using male pronouns because we're used to it'.

It's awkward and a little worrying and the cliff is over there, but we haven't quite jumped off of it yet.

I'm sure it won't get worse.

May 13, 2013

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

I don't know how anyone could see that as N endorsement of Ayn Rand when her book was referred to as nightmarish.

As for Pugmire, I'd play a Necromouser at the drop of the hat.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


I was dissapointed that no black metal band by this name exist, but this short story sound like fun:

Necromouser posted:

Shreddy, a disgruntled cat, discovers the ability to bring back mice from the dead with the help of a broken All-In-One machine. He devises an evil plan to use the mice to get at the yummy orchid his owner has cordoned off to protect it from Shreddy.

E: waitaminute posted:

Publisher: FurPlanet Productions

or ?

By popular demand fucked around with this message at 11:42 on Mar 15, 2018

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.

JcDent posted:

I don't know how anyone could see that as N endorsement of Ayn Rand when her book was referred to as nightmarish.

Anthem is a dystopia. What the author is calling nightmarish is the strawman Rand is railing against, whereas the book itself is "thought-provoking." Edit: Excuse me, "thought-provocative."

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised

I do love the designs of the Barrier Peaks stuff, they look like genuine alien artifacts (or extremely advanced human stuff) and the descriptions are careful to keep them mysterious within context to emphasise how everything is so completely outside the understanding that the PCs should expect. Can see why the adventure has remained iconic, it has a pretty radical gimmick but actually has a lot of work put into it to make it work.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 8: "In fact, virtually all Yhabbayar are something of a cross between an Oriental Guru, child and Yoda!"

As detailed extensively above.

D-Bees of Note

Time for some more space-filling R.C.C.s. Granted, there's more of a psionic theme to these. There's effort. I don't know if I'd give it an A, but it's a start.

Finally, you can dual-class lamppost and cat.
  • Amorph R.C.C.: Ectoplasmic beings from the Astral Plane that happened across Psyscape. They can shapeshift cosmetically, have an automatic dodge since they can shift out of the way of attacks, and some basic psionics. They're literally allergic to boredom, and are supposed to be played as naive and innocent, but the book insists on the most insufferable rendition of that. "Players should play these characters like the classic nosy, annoying, eternally curious, but well meaning child who finds everything new and fascinating and snaps photos of everything from rocks with fungus on them to a full-scale CS Military operation."
  • Demon-Dragonmage R.C.C.: "Demons" that are basically dragon-themed humanoids, they have the special ability to ramp up their power ridiculously by beheading a dragon and attaching that head to their chest. Despite their description as demons, they don't seem particularly evil - well, aside from their dragon head removal rite of passage. Naturally, demon dragonmages and actual dragons don't exactly get along. They get the ability to spit fire, a variety of disconnected psychic powers (including Pyrokinesis), and get a wide variety of supernatural powers as they level up. Despite this being the R.C.C. section, they're "not advised" to play, and get the usual pass-agg "well you could play one we guess but good guys will hate you so much, you don't even know".
  • Lanotaur Hunter R.C.C.: These are psychic Predators, like in the movie? Only they look more like humanoid hairless cats. Kind of. I mean, they use magic instead of technology but are pretty much one-note honorable hunters. They can sense the supernatural, get "psychic reflexes" that give them automatic dodge, can lower their body temperature and reduce their scent, and have a grab bag of psychic and magical powers, including multiple means of teleportation and invisibility, and they get buried in psionic powers. Not allowed as a PC, presumably just so they can have their laundry list of random Monster Manual-style powers, but they're not particularly tough for mega-damage creatures outside of their nohittums power.
  • Power Leech R.C.C.: Remember Leech from X-Men comics? If not, he was a little green mutant child that could cancel out powers. These are like him (seriously, the art is spot-on only with a less bumpy head), only they can drain magic energy or batteries and eventually hulk out when they drain enough power. That's pretty much all there is to them, and they're the third R.C.C. in a row that players are warned away from. Despite that, as usual, they get all the rules you'd need to play them as PCs, complete with starting equipment and mention that "they can make a killing as a town champion, lawman, bounty hunter or mercenary". I have a feeling Nowak wrote them up as a PC option and then Siembieda just scribbled in a "no" instead or... something. They'll even have XP charts later. Make up your mind, Palladium!
  • Psi-Goblins R.C.C.: These are goblins in their most negative stereotype, and there are rumors that Alistair Dunscon dragged them over to act as servants. Despite that, they seem to have scattered all over the region, and they naturally feed on Faerie Folk. Curiously, they have only modest magic resistance, so don't know how they manage not just getting hit with Faerie Dance when they try. However, they're inclined to feed on just about anybody they can get their teeth into. "... they hate anybody who is more attractive (which sometimes includes all tall people), wealthier, or more powerful." They have a variety of tricky magic and psychic powers, but are mostly low-tier mega-damage baddies. Ironically, you can play them as PCs, even though they're described in profoundly more negative and antisocial terms than something like the Lanotaur Hunters.
  • Yhabbayar R.C.C.: "A teacher, philosopher, warrior and child all rolled into one." These are generically enlightened wizened D-Bees who can blow magical bubbles who just happened to get yanked by a rift onto Psyscape's doorstep. They get their whole own "bubble magic" system where they can place spells in a bubble that are released when they pop, and guide those bubble around psychically. They can also temporarily grant people their psychic powers by infusing them in bubbles and then popping them on the person. Doing anything with bubbles has a whole price list of I.S.P. costs, but they can use them to overcome some range limitations or send them around corners or the like. They can also sense the supernatural and life energy, get low-level spells, all sensitive and healing psychic powers, a variety of psionic powers as they level up, and automatically get all the Psyscape psychic buffs. It seems like it could be fun if you could do something a little more interesting than the guru / sifu stereotype, but I'm not sure why it's specifically a race rather than just a magical tradition. Speak backwards, optional presumably says Yhabbayar, yes.
  • Zaayr Crystal Dragon R.C.C.: Extra-rare special snowflake crystal dragons that have retreated to the Astral Plane to hide from hunters. This is because the interdimensional Splugorth hunt them for their magical crystal bits, and naturally hold a bit of a grudge against capitalism slavers as a result. However, they've come across Psyscape in their travel through the Astral Plane, and others live on Palladium World. In any case, they have light powers that can be used to turn invisible or to dazzle onlookers, radiate heat or breathe flame, and the variety of natural dragon powers (regenerate, teleport, shapechange, etc.). They get all "light" and all "darkness" spells, but it's not like those are keywords, and a variety of psychic powers leaning towards mind / healing / ESP stuff. Even for dragons, and even as dragon hatchling PCs, there's some definite power creep here.
  • Zenith Moon Warpers: Sexy people with canine heads can that turn into sexy people with human heads. Evil ones eat people, but good ones are just puckish rogues. Given that their type of head isn't specified, prepare for a sexy mastiff! (This is how furries begin.) In any case, they're diet werewolves with some roguish spells and psionics, but without all of the full-scale damage immunity. They also get some buffs during the full moon. Palladium books are already overloaded with dog-themed character classes; here's one more, slightly more magical and tricky than most.

drat muties.

When Furries Attack.

The Amorph, Lanotaur Hunter, and Power Leech are listed as "Patrick Novak & Kevin Siembieda". The Demon-Dragonmage and Yhabbayar are "by Kevin Siembieda, inspired by the art of Mike Dubisch" again. The Psi-Goblin and Zaayr Crystal Dragon are uncredited. All the "inspired by" points to the "pull out a piece of unused art, do a writeup, instant page-count filler" method as detailed by later Palladium writers.

Next: Fascist Filler.

"How do you tell a psi-goblin from a goblin? Our art looks the same, but we're in the psionics book!"

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 23:15 on Mar 15, 2018

Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

Barrier Peaks suffers from one of the same problems as Isle of the Ape, to wit, stuff is put in because it fits/sounds cool with no thought to how feasible it will be to run. You have to shortcut a lot. Isle of the Ape tries to do a combat of the PCs vs a whole tribe of hundreds of NPCs with defined roles and battle tactics without any kind of mass combat rules.

May 13, 2013

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

Brb, dualclassing as cat/lam post.

Sorry for missing out on the Ayn Rand bit.

Dec 22, 2007


Young Freud posted:

I love how the Barrier Peaks weapons are not immediately recognizable as guns. If I came across the blaster pistol lying on the ground, I'd think it was a smartphone or computer of some sort, probably until I accidentally blew my head off. The lasers at least look like they could be some sort of weapon, but could be misconstrued as some sort of bracer with a stiletto or piercing weapon attached to it. And the needler is not obvious in which direction the actual muzzle is.

When we got the laser rifle picture when we were playing it, we correctly identified it as a weapon.

We thought it was a piston-style pile bunker and nearly broke one trying to get the spike to pull back. Actually, I don't remember the shades so it might have been the pistol. (We eventually figured it out, but a little later.)

Nov 8, 2009

Inescapable Duck posted:

I do love the designs of the Barrier Peaks stuff, they look like genuine alien artifacts (or extremely advanced human stuff) and the descriptions are careful to keep them mysterious within context to emphasise how everything is so completely outside the understanding that the PCs should expect. Can see why the adventure has remained iconic, it has a pretty radical gimmick but actually has a lot of work put into it to make it work.

I think Barrier Peaks also works because it's the kind of outside context problem that can work really well with the right group: an alien spaceship has crash landed on a fantasy world, send in adventurers to deal with the strange monsters.

Jul 15, 2017

Sadly the sexy psychic werewolves didn't make it into Savage Rifts.

May 13, 2013

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

Dawgstar posted:

Sadly the sexy psychic werewolves didn't make it into Savage Rifts.

Have to read that one day.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Because I'm still in a "comparator" mood, I wanted to do a little one-shot F&F, this time of Monte Cook's Revised Ranger.

There isn't a date on this PDF, but the inclusion of Ambidexterity means that this was supposed to be an alternative to the 3.0 PHB's version of the Ranger, and before 3.5 was released.

The primary issue with the 3.0 Ranger was that it didn't really do anything. At level 1, they would get the ability to act as if they had the Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting feats as long as they were wearing light armor and wielded two weapons, and then they'd also get Ranger spells, but beyond that, they had the same BAB as a Fighter, the same Hit Dice, and Favored Enemies, but that was it. Not only would "more feats" be arguably more useful, but the front-loading of their class abilities meant that they'd often be taken as a 1-level dip for the proficiencies and the two-weapon fighting ability, but never taken as a full class.

The 3.5 iteration would try to fix these issues, but before that ever came around, apparently Monte Cook took a stab at it himself:

* Same full BAB across both the 3.0 and the Cook version

* Where the 3.0 Ranger has a good Fort save and poor Ref and Will saves ...
... Cook's version has good Fort and Ref saves

* Where the 3.0 Ranger has a d10 hit die...
... Cook's version has a d8 (which he specifically says he did to "balance out" all the "good stuff" that he gave his version of the Ranger)

* Same Class skills across both versions

* Where the 3.0 Ranger gets 4 skill points per level ...
... Cook's version gets 6 skill points per level

* At level 1, the 3.0 Ranger gets Track as a bonus feat, Favored Enemy as an ability, and the special ability to act as if they have the Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting feats as long as they're weapon light armor and wielding two weapons ...

... Cook's version gets a bonus combat feat, Track as a bonus feat on top of that, and Favored Enemy as an ability

* Favored Enemy doesn't actually change: the Ranger selects a single broad category of enemies, and they get a +1 bonus to damage rolls, Bluff checks, Listen checks, Sense Motive checks, Spot checks, and Wilderness Lore checks against that enemy. They select a new category every 5th level, and then the bonus goes up by +1 for every previously selected category (so they end at level 20 with a +4 bonus to the first Favored Enemy that they selected)

* For the rest of the level progression, the 3.0 Ranger only just gets more Favored Enemies (as I mentioned every 5 levels), spellcasting starting at class level 4, and then at class level 9, they can take the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat even if they don't meet the prerequisites. Note that this doesn't give them the feat for free - they still have to spend the feat slot, they just don't need the prerequisites (which would be the Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting that they technically don't have, just act like they do).

... Cook's version gets those, and bonus feats at class levels 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 19.

* The spell progression on Cook's Ranger is a little better: they both get 1st-level spells at class level 4, but 2nd-level spells are acquired at class level 7, 3rd-level spells are acquired at class level 10, and 4th-level spells are acquired at class level 13.

In these latter three cases, those are 1 class level earlier than when the 3.0 version gets them. And Cook's Ranger gets one more 1st-level spell slot at class level 20.

* Cook throws in two new feats: the first gives you 1d6 more damage if you hit a Favored Enemy, and the other is 1d10 more damage if you crit a Favored Enemy. It bears noting that this latter feat's extra damage is only 44% larger than the former feat's extra damage, but crits are significantly less likely to happen.

* Cook lets their new Ranger learn some new spells from the Druid list: Barkskin, Commune with Nature, and Wall of Thorns

* Cook also creates three new spells:
Blight Enemy is a 2nd-level spell that deals xd6 damage per caster level, up to 5d6, but can only be cast against Favored Enemies.
Wild Stealth is a 3rd-level spell that gives you a +10 bonus to Move Silently and Hide checks, but only if you are outdoors, above ground, and in a non-urban environment
Unite Allies is a 4th-level spell that gives all your allies a +1 damage bonus against all your Favored Enemies

Let's recap:

Cook's Ranger gains 2 skill points per level, a good Ref save, 7 bonus feats, a single 1st-level spell slot at level 20, access to 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-level spells one class level earlier, two possible feats that only work against Favored Enemies, two new spells that only work against Favored Enemies, a stealth spell that only works in a nature setting, and three Druid spells.

As a trade-off, it goes from a d10 hit die, to a d8 hit die.

I think it's safe to say that this was a very unambitious revision that didn't really address the key problems of the class. In the event, the 3.5 revision would be much better, even just by looking at the Ranger getting a permanent animal companion, and even if that would be a crippled version of the Druid's ability.

Oct 14, 2011

To be fair, I'd still play that version of the Ranger over the one in the 3.0 PHB...

Feb 13, 2012

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

God, Save progression was probably the real worst idea of 3.0.

May 13, 2013

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

I just read how... spergy the advances in DnD get and my eyes just glaze over.

Oh, and some of them are trap options, since what you want in a fantasy roleplaying game is relentless rollplay optimization. Ugh.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Scion: Origin: Punching Hercules

The most basic combat system in the game, for fights which just aren't important enough to be actual fight scenes - a Scion rousting a mall cop, say - are resolved in single rolls using Down And Dirty Combat. NPCs can't start it, and PCs can't use it on foes of higher Tier. Each character involved declares their intention, and then make rolls. Whoever gets most successes wins and achieves their intent, with ties favoring the PCs. Teamwork rolls work here as normal.

For more detailed combat, we go to Initiative rolls as per normal physical action scenes, using Cunning + (Best combat skill), making slots to arrange among the party as normal, yadda yadda. Each round, a character can do either a simple or mixed action, but even with a mixed action they can only attack once. Reflexive actions can be done at any time, on anyone's turn. Reflexive actions rarely need a roll and just happen. Using Knacks is usually reflexive, as is looking around, drawing an object from a holster, moving no faster than your normal max speed or standing from prone; however, all of these (except using Knacks) count as an action for mixed action limits.

To attack, you pick a target and choose your dicepool. The target declares their Defense action, and if it's their first time this round being attacked, make their Defense roll. If your target is in range of your attack, you roll it, totaling your successes. You must first spend enough successes to buy down their Defense; at that point, you can start spending successes on stunts. Once you do, those stunts resolve and your turn ends. Dealing damage, incidentally, is a stunt - so if you only have enough successes to buy down their defense but no more? They aren't hurt or affected. Effectively, defense wins on ties.

A character only makes one Defensive roll per round, using their highest Resistance attribute. You use successes on your Defensive roll to buy Defensive Stunts, which persist through the round. You can spend Defensive Stunt successes on:
Dodge: The total successes on your Dodge stunt is the Difficulty an attack roll has to beat before they can start spending stunts. If you get no successes on your Dodge stunt, the Difficulty is 1.
Dive to Cover (Difficulty 1): You move up to a range band away to reach cover, which absorbs Injuries dealt to you as per hard armor.
Full Defense: If you choose to do this rather than Dodge, you roll your defense pool twice. This otherwise works as per Dodge and normal stunts, but it counts as your simple action for the round and can't be part of a mixed action.
Roll Away (Difficulty of foe's Composure): You move one range band away from your attacker.

As you can see, a defender that can get out of the foe's range is pretty safe! NPCs typically have a static defense rather than rolled one, for the ST's ease. Close Combat+Might is your default melee attack pool, and ranged attacks use either Athletics or Firearms, with different attributes based on range. If your attack hits and you still have successes left, that's when you apply attack stunts. Close Combat attacks can typically hit out to Close range only. Their stunts include:
Inflict Damage (1s): You cause an Injury condition.
Blind (2s): The target gets +1 Difficulty on all attacks with Ranged-tag weapons.
Break-up Grapple (1s): You end a grapple the target is involved in that you aren't.
Critical Hit (4s): You cause a second Injury condition.
Disarm (varies based on target's skill): You knock the foe's weapon to Close range, or Near for an extra success.
Establish Grapple (1s): You grapple the foe, causing the Grappled condition. (Grappled foes can't move unless dragged or thrown by the grappler, or they reverse or break the grapple.)
Feint (varies based on Dodge successes): You generate Enhancement on a specified ally's next attack on your target.
Knockdown (varies based on Stamina): The target is knocked prone.
Seize (3s): You grab something your target is holding.
Trip (Varies based on Dex): The target is forced prone.

While you are grappling someone, both of you can only use Grapple-tagged weapons, and you fight using..."Agility (Might)", except Agility isn't a skill. So...????? I'd guess Athletics or Close Combat. Fighting while Grappling gives access to the follwoing stunts, though again, if you aren't in control of the grapple you can't move until you take control or are thrown.
Inflict Damage
Break Free (Varies): You break out of the grapple.
Critical Hit
Gain Control (Varies): You take control of the grapple.
Pin (2s): Your target gets no Defense against other attacks. You must be in control of the grapple.
Position (Varies): You get Enhancement to your next grapple attack on the target.
Takedown (1s): Both you and your target go prone. You must be in control of the grapple.
Throw (Varies): You throw your target and end the grapple. You must be in control of the grapple.

Ranged Attack actions use Firearms. Stunts:
Inflict Damage
Critical Hit
Pin (Varies
: Your target gets a Complication on their next attack. If they fail to buy it off, they receive an Injury automatically based on your weapon.

Thrown Attack actions use Athletics. Stunts:
Inflict Damage
Critical Hit
Line Drive (Varies)
: You knock your opponent prone.

You can also use combat actions to just cause Complications for foes without potentially damaging them. There's rules for throwing really big things. Prone targets get -1 to Defense against Close characters but +2 against any other range. Standing from prone is reflexive unless someone is right near you, in which case you need to make an Athletics roll with Complication 1 to prevent them from smacking you while you do. There's ambush rules, but they reference Agility again; I'd probably use Subterfuge where they use Agility.

Damage comes in the form of Injuries. There are four types: Bruised (-1), Injured (-2), Maimed (-4) and Taken Out. Injuries will come with descriptive names, like Broken Arm or Concussed or Cursed based on what caused them. Everyone has a Bruised box, one Injured box (as long as they have any Stamina at all) and a Maimed box. For every 2 points over Stamina 1, rounding up, you get an additional Bruised box, and another Bruised box per level of Scale you have. Any time you take damage, you must choose one box and fill it; if you can't, you are Taken Out. Weapons with the Aggravated tag make the associated Injury condition Persistent (it won't go away unless magically removed). You may also choose to concede, becoming Taken Out without filling any Injury boxes beyond what you've already taken, if you think that'll help you heal faster from a fight you can't win.

Bruised or -1 Injury conditions have no ongoing effect beyond taking up the box. However, you can choose to have them get in the way and cause +1 Difficulty to an appropriate action in order to gain 1 Momentum. They heal, assuming no other intervention, after 2 days.
Injured or -2 Conditions also have no ongoing effect, but their Momentum gain requires a +2 Difficulty spike, and they take 2 weeks to heal naturally.
Maimed or -4 Conditions are the same, but their Momentum is a +4 spike and tey also take 2 weeks to heal.
When you are Taken Out, you can no longer take actions in that scene, but the party gets 3 Momentum. Until you are healed, any further hits in later scenes also cause you to be immediately Taken Out. These do not give 3 Momentum, but any time your lack of presence is a clear problem, the party gains 3 Momentum. To heal Taken Out, the injury must get in your way in a later scene, causing a +3 Difficulty spike.

Even if you are Taken Out, however, any enemy of lower Tier cannot kill a PC. Period. Death can only happen, incidentally, at the ST's judgment. Medicine rolls can downgrade Injuries, but you can only be healed this way once per session, and a given injury can only be downgraded once - and then only if you have an empty box ready for it, except for Bruised, which just vanishes. Taken Out, incidentally, is easier to heal the fewer other conditions you have.

Range bands are Close, Short, Medium and Extreme. Ranged weapons use different stats based on where you are - at Close range, they use Might as you try to force the weapon into position. Short is either Might or Dexterity. Medium is Dexterity or Cunning. Long is Cunning. Extreme is Intellect. You get +2 Difficulty per range band you are outside of a ranged weapon's max range.

So how do weapons work? Weapons are designed by a collection of tags which define how they are special. Weapons can have 3 points worth of tags, total, but some tags are bad and reduce cost. Damage types have no cost (well, except Aggravated) but you only get one. Tags include Aggravated (2 points), Arcing (it arcs, allowing you to ignore some cover, 1 point), Grappling (it gives Enhancement 1 on grapple attacks, 1 point), Reach (this weapon can make Close Combat attacks at Short range, 1 point), Shockwave (this weapon can hit all targets in a range band and is almost certainly magical, 4 points), Two-Handed (must have two free hands to use this, -1) or Versatile (+1 Enhancement when used to do any stunts besides Inflict Damage, 2). A sword, for example, is Lethal, Melee and Versatile, for a total cost of 2. An axe is Lethal, Melee and Piercing, also for 2 - they're good for getting past armor. A pistol is Concealable, Firearm, Lethal, Piercing and Ranged, for 3. A bow is Arcing, Lethal, Ranged and Two-Handed, for a total of 0. These are all generic weapons - your custom gear is probably cooler than that.

Armor also has tags, and again can ahve up to 3 points. Armor tags are stuff like Cumbersome (+1 Difficulty to athletic feats while wearing it, -1), Hard (you get an additional one or two injury boxes which, when filled, cause no conditions, 1 or 3), Resistant (Ignores a tag or type of damage on incoming attacks, 2), Soft (increases the difficulty of the Inflict Damage stunt by 1, can't be combined with Hard in the same armor, 1).

We also get Sickness and Poison rules. Sicknesses mostly cause Complications until healed, while Poisons inflict conditions that deal damage or other effects over time.

Next time: How2UrbanFantasy

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?

JcDent posted:

Sorry for missing out on the Ayn Rand bit.

Honestly, I misread it at first, too, and so did someone else I pasted it to who usually has pretty solid reading comprehension and English as a first langauge. I think the issue is just that the SenZar goons just aren't all that great at writing, not that anyone who misreads it is bad at reading.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Scion: Origin: Myth Levels

Scion admits to covering a vast spread of genres, and they've provided some pretty good advice on keeping those consistent, or at least inconsistent in ways you like. Most of Origin takes place at what they term the Iron Level, in which it focuses on the mundane lives of mortals, with the divine existing purely as signs and omens. At times, however, it veers into the Heroic Level, where the supernatural becomes apparent to some and the action gets intense and mythic creatures are part of life. The chapter has some of the standard advice to STs on how to, you know, not be awful and how to use description to reinforce themes and make a scene more real, and also how to do the research to make your myths feel right.

Their explanation on myths, though, is spot on, in ways that I haven't seen even with Glorantha:
1. There is no canon. All myths are true, and because of that, no myth is definitive. Dian Cecht is, simultaneously, a healer, a murderer, and a god that dies of disease despite being a healer. Apollo is a divine musician; Apollo loses to a mortal. Apollo brings sickness; Apollo protects against it. You can draw on multiple versions of myths and dance between them all through the same story, and no one can tell you that's wrong.
2. Myths express, not explain. A myth doesn't tell you why the sun rises or what lightning really is. Rather, a myth tells you how people relate the rising of the sun to their lives. They help people orient their lives, by giving them stories to build a structure around.
3. Myths arise from immediate needs. You don't get a city god before you get a city. To understand a pantheon and its myths, it helps to remember the interests of the societies that made them - and how those interests were fundamentally local ones. The relation between a god and their people generally mirrors the power structures of the society they were generated from.
4. Myths hide the present in the past. When a myth says that this is how things have always been, it can easily mean 'this is how we root our beliefs now.' They justify the status quo or bring about revolutionary ideas. This means that it's entirely valid to look at a myth and find a new meaning for it, even if it's been around for millenia.
5. No myth stands alone. Myths web together. Understanding one means learning about them all. Dionysus is not just part of one story, but many. No myth is a complete story, but rather a branch that leads into others, which leads into others, and so on.
6. No symbol has one meaning. Mount Meru is Mount Olympus, and it isn't. Both rise from the ordinary to the sacred, and both are mountains, so a Scion born from the myths that tell of Meru may understand Olympus, but each also has unique qualities that are not similar. Common ground is important, but so are the differences.

The game also offers some optional rules to tweak things like Momentum gain, encouraging players to take risks, and so on. Then we move into a discussion of urban fantasy and how to make mythic stories that fit on the lower fantasy level. It mostly focuses on using personal drama to push the intensity of emotion associated with most myths, and on ways to allow the supernatural to push through the mundane in subtle but surprising ways, using signs and portents and wonders, as the mythic intrudes on the mundane. We also get some discussion on story structures and linear vs branching structures.

Also of note are mythic tropes and ways to encourage players to follow them. Fate, after all, is real.
The Rule of Three: If a PC fails, and another deliberately chooses to fail at the same task, consider giving the third PC to try +3 Enhancement or even automatic success, because that's a thing that happens a lot in folklore.
Home Town Advantage: Many mythic beings are bound to a certain place or element. Outside it, they are often weakened, which you might represent by lowering their Defense or health boxes if the PCs can trick them out of their comfortable environment.
Stick To The Rules: In many folkloric stories, harm cannot befall the truly innocent unless they accidentally violate some rule - which needn't be a sensical, fair or consistent one, of course. But, for example, if hospitality is offered, most people will accept it even if doing so is a terrible idea that will get you in trouble...and, of course, sometimes refusing it is what breaks the rules. The main thing is, when people get in trouble without breaking a folkloric rule, consider it a red flag that something is up and needs to have a twist.
Virtue Is Its Own Reward: Demonstrating virtue despite suffering or trial should be rewarded. Quests weed out the unworthy and redeem those who transgressed. Make sure the tension between a PC's virtues exists, so they have to consider which to embody.
Beauty Is Only Skin Deep: The attractive option almost always hides consequences. The beautiful girl may be a fox demon, the red half of the apple is poison. Nobility can be found even in poverty and suffering. Often especially there. The unfortunate and wretched are often noble and beautiful souls, as what lies beneath the exterior is often different. The wealthy and powerful are often cruel, the downtrodden often virtuous.
Purity and Defilement: Objects and places touched by wickedness remember it. Houses, even people, can be possessed by evil spirits due to evil done there in the past or done to them. Purification is often a good option, whether by exorcism or other means. Salt and other substances held to be purifiers can be quite powerful.
Fantastic Children: A childless couple who long to raise a child almost always get to. Most often, this child appears in a strange way. Sometimes, the child is good and virtuous and heroic. Sometimes the child is wicked and inhuman. Almost never is such a child a normal person, and when they are, the parent is often strange and otherworldly.
Riddle Me This: Riddles and cleverness have power. They aren't all the Sphinx's riddle, but often, discovery and truth come from sudden, intuitive leaps. Some players like to solve these riddles themselves, but a GM should allow Academics or Culture rolls for those that aren't into that stuff. Another good way to use them is a cliffhanger at the end of a session, so that players can come up with a solution during the break...or not, and let them roll if they haven't.

Next time: The Baddies

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.

Clapping Larry

FMguru posted:

The first-ever appearance of Fate Points was as an optional rule in the 1980 TSR spy game Top Secret. You had a pool of Fortune Points that you could spend to nullify the effects of a die roll that would have killed you (provided you came up with a just-about-plausible justification for it). The 1983 James Bond 007 RPG had a really sophisticated way of using Hero Points to bump up your die rolls (and reduce enemy levels of success).

JB007 was a terrific game, way ahead of its time. I really need to review it for this thread.

JB007 is fantastic. I used its rules to do a Martians (WotWs style) re-invade Earth and succeed campaign.


Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Kurieg posted:

It doesn't help that their culture is founded on the principle of "Pugs are the best dog and could see demons so they made a kingdom and everyone in it is good"

Pugmire is a wonderful concept but you won't get this from the writing in the books. "Dogs attempt an Arthurian kingdom in imitation of their creators and manage a High Middle Ages one at least" should be a heck of lot more interesting than the authors made it. When I read it I felt the ideas would work better if they played with the post-apocalyptic aspect a bit more. I like that the setting deliberately leaves the reason for humanity's non-presence vague (we might be dead, we might have buggered off to explore the cosmos, we might still be around but beyond canine perception), but surely half the fun of the whole idea is dogs and cats and other animals completely misinterpreting human ruins and artefacts? To see ourselves through their eyes? The Man worshipped by canines is a mighty hunter and leader of great packs so they build a feudal society, the one worshipped by cats is cunning and self-reliant and sees all things, the one worshipped by rats is homely and fecund?

Oh, and the ambiguity around invisible demons is completely lost when you look in the enemies section and see the stats for one. The adventure modules openly have possessed dogs running around with demons who come out and act as bossfights when exorcised.

There's a starter adventure involving exploring the tomb of the founder of Pugmire who had a legendary artefact of Man that he used to unite the canine houses...and it's just a +1 sword. C'mon people, that tomb should be a nuclear bunker at the very least and the artefact should be something much more subtle and interesting. Don't just give me Waterdeep With Dogs, I want canine adventurers trying to understand the Consider Phlebas Command System and I want it now. Especially if the rat technology cultists have their own interpretation.

All in all, I feel there's the potential for a lot more than just Mr Schookums And His Woofy Pals Have A Generic Dungeon Crawl (you can tell a mile off the real reason pugs are the ruling class is that the author owns or likes them). I hope the setting gets fleshed out a lot more in this direction.

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