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Sep 10, 2003

peed on;

JackMann posted:

One of the most fascinating things to me about the games that get reviewed in this thread are places where the writer had something really cool in the setting or the system, and then veered away hard. I love that liminal space between good and bad game design, that part where if they'd just gone slightly differently, they would've had something great.
This was one of the key insights in Ron Edwards's original Fantasy Heartbreakers essay - that one of the heartbreaking things about FHs is that every one he looked at had something interesting or original or truly cool buried in there somewhere, usually as an aside that gets quickly tossed out so the author can go back to reinventing AD&D's wheel.


Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora
Eldoru is the best thing to happen to this thread in a long time and I appreciate your work, JackMann.

May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee

I do kinda want to play in a game where "A Wizard, A Space Marine, and two different versions of cat men go on a quest to throw the One Ring into The Dark Sun" now.

No, not Torg.

No, not Rifts.

No, not D&D 2e.

May 20, 2012

When in doubt, err on the side of Awesome!

Tibalt posted:

I do kinda want to play in a game where "A Wizard, A Space Marine, and two different versions of cat men go on a quest to throw the One Ring into The Dark Sun" now.

No, not Torg.

No, not Rifts.

No, not D&D 2e.

It's called GURPS and if I were still in high school I'd run the hell out of that campaign.

That Old Tree
Jun 24, 2012


Cythereal posted:

Let's face it: none of that, even the Keeblers, was particularly outlandish by this thread's standards.

Yeah, the only reason I briefly entertained the thought that it might be an April Fool was because of the clock on my wall. I was totally hooked because every last thing was absolutely believable.

Very well done, JackMann and friends.

Dec 20, 2017
Zone Stalkers, Part 1

Hey everybody, let’s read Eclipse Phase: Zone Stalkers!

This is a short splatbook for Eclipse Phase, released in May of 2014. Like all the first edition Eclipse Phase books, it’s available for free on the designer’s blog. Go get it so you can read along!

Now if you know anything about Eclipse Phase, you know that it can be a difficult game to love, and even more difficult to actually run and play. But I don’t think I’m alone in really liking the treatment they gave Mars.

If you’re not familiar with the Eclipse Phase setting, the game takes place in the transhuman future, ten years after Seed AIs (the TITANs) experiencing a hard takeoff exterminated 90% of humanity (the Fall) and rendered earth uninhabitable. Mars has been labeled the new home of transhumanity by the Planetary Consortium, the main ruling body in the Inner Solar System, and is gradually being terraformed. The population is divided between glittering cyberpunk cities controlled by the hypercorporations, and a vast outback filled with farmers, nomads, and other assorted “rednecks” . The two groups don’t get along and are locked in a low level struggle for control of the planet’s future. If you’ve ever read Robinson’s Mars Trilogy it’s almost exactly like that.

From a gameplay perspective, Mars has all the main setting elements of Eclipse Phase packed into one place. Crazy morphs, communism, capitalism, nanomachines, cyberpunk cities, alien landscapes, indentured slaves, bomb throwing anarchists, killer AIs and deadly alien viruses. It allows the GM to tell all kinds of stories without getting bogged down by the things that can make Eclipse Phase a chore to run, like the omnipresent surveillance that pervades the rest of the setting.

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, what is the TITAN Quarantine Zone?

Zone Stalkers, Page 2 posted:

Part graveyard, part dormant beast, the TITAN Quarantine Zone (TQZ) is a wide swath of Mars that was never reclaimed from the TITANs after the Fall. When the hot war phase of the Fall ended, it became evident that the war machines and exsurgents that still range free in the Zone were no longer advancing on Martian settlements or attacking in any organized way. Some thought that the leaderless monstrosities should be encircled and wiped out. Instead, war-weary transhumanity settled on a contentious policy of quarantine that continues to this day. Now the Zone is a no-man’s land, a source of sleepless nights to Planetary Consortium policy makers, and a major place of interest to Firewall— both as a target and as a source of knowledge about the TITANs and their works.
Neato! The Zone is very obviously inspired by Roadside Picnic, and the splat draws more inspiration from the novel than it does the subsequent Stalker film and game series. More on that later.

Next, we get an explanation of why the Zone is still there (the Martian government doesn’t have the power or political will to get rid of it), and where the Zone is (“a roughly triangular area with vertices running from the eastern slopes of Arsia Mons to just southwest of Olympus Mons on the Amazonis Planitia to Gale Crater, south of Elysium”). This section would have been improved by a map, but one already exists in the splat Sunward so it’s not a glaring omission. Then we get a little descriptor of the type of terrain you’re likely to encounter in the Zone.

Remember when I said this was obviously inspired by the Mars Trilogy?

Insertion and Extraction
This section summarizes the situation at the Zone border and how the Sentinels (which is what player characters are called in Eclipse Phase) would mechanically get in and out.

Now my first instinct is to make fun of this for being bloated with modifiers like the rest of Eclipse Phase. But in all honesty I think it provides a good mechanical shorthand for getting in and out of the Zone, including an interesting choice between stealth crossing the border and mobility once you’re inside the zone.

This section also gives us some detail about the Martian Rangers who patrol the Zone border. The Rangers are a Martian federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the entire planet outside the cities. They’re one of my favorite parts of Mars because they provide a huge variety of character depth and diversity. A Martial can be anything from The Man With No Name to Vash the Stampede to Judge Dredd.

The rep listed indicates who each Ranger Department is most closely affiliated with. C-rep is corporations and capitalist economies, f-rep is the media, @-rep is anarchists and communists, g-rep is criminals, and i-rep is Firewall (space Delta Green, and the faction the players are assumed to work for).

There’s a brief description of how inadequate the Ranger departments are for patrolling the entire Zone border. They treat things trying to leave far more seriously than things trying to go in. If they think you’re an infection risk, they call in the big guns. The Tharsis League (the Martian federal government) has a contract with Direct Action (a ubiquitous mercenary company) to plaster anything that presents a serious breach of quarantine with a barrage of missiles.

Zone Stalkers, Page 6 posted:

Given the infection risks to the planet, the defense contractors will happily blacken a 1-kilometer radius around a target, and they have the firepower to do so.
Recall how in Roadside Picnic the border guards would shoot at you all night and day, but would never venture inside the Zone to come get you.

Finally, we get a table of travel speeds and miscellaneous rules for moving around inside the Zone.

With all this in hand, an expedition to the TITAN Quarantine Zone fulfils the same basic gaming function as a Hex Crawl in a fantasy RPG.

Which is good, because next comes Threats

Wow! Look at all those random encounters! I’m going to briefly talk about the ones I find most interesting, and that are new to the Zone Stalkers book. A lot of them are a few lines of descriptive text and instructions to reference another splat - most of the TITAN baddies are statted out in the GM section of the original Eclipse Phase corebook. If I miss something you think sounds interesting, you should crack open the book (remember the link above) and take a look yourself.

The book presents the descriptions in alphabetical order, rather than the order of the D100 table. Probably for the best.

Zone Stalkers, Page 8 posted:

A TITAN physics experiment has left an invisible field in which a powerful force or repulsion either pounds matter to the ground (50%) or hurls it into the air (50%). The point person on a team may notice the occasional streak of windborn dust being born up or down with a successful Perception Test. If they fail and bumble into it, they or their vehicle will either be tossed into the air, before flipping backward out of the zone, or will be smashed into the ground and need to be pulled free.
This anomaly is pilfered right out of Roadside Picnic. It also clues us into which translation the authors were reading. The new translation refers to a graviconcentrate as a “bug trap”, while the old version called it a “mosquito mange”.

Zone Stalkers, Page 9 posted:

A group of predator exhumans (p. 362, EP) has come to the Zone to test their strength against the exsurgents. Depending upon how badass the team looks, their reaction may range from avoidance to ambush to demanding that the team hand over one of their number and watch while the exhumans eat them alive before letting the survivors pass. If defeated or sufficiently intimidated, they may share information on the area, possibly even acting a bit fanboyish toward high-rep ultimates.
This is a fun idea, but mechanically it may prove to be a bit of a letdown. If we crack open the Eclipse Phase corebook as recommended to stat up our exhuman friends, we find that they aren’t exactly going to strike terror into the hearts of the average group. Their main attack is a bladed weapon that literally does not deal enough damage to pierce even a modest suit of body armor, melee weapons being something of a joke in Eclipse Phase. You could feed yourself to them as requested and they would gnaw on you ineffectually for hours like a man struggling to open a jar of marinara sauce. Clearly, there is room for improvement here.

Zone Stalkers, Page 9 posted:

A swarm of headhunters (p. 383, EP) appears from over a nearby ridge and dives in to attack. They’ll carry off any heads they capture to a still-active recharging bunker, outside of which lays a grisly collection of heads in various stages of decay.
Headhunters are another baddie with a fearsome reputation in-setting whose mechanical representation fails to live up to the hype. They're like the manhacks from Half Life 2, only when they kill you they lop your head off and spirit it away so your brain can be peeled and uploading. For this reason, the bunker is a nice touch.

Zone Stalkers, Page 11 posted:

This invisible, virtually undetectable zone 1d10 meters in radius transmutes matter as the matter transformation exsurgent psi sleight (p. 372, EP). Bones in biomorphs are softened to a rubbery consistency, leaving limbs passing into the zone useless. This effect cannot be resisted but can be fixed by time in a healing vat.
Another riff on Roadside Picnic. In the novel, Burbridge the Vulture steps in a pool of hell slime (or witches jelly if you’re reading the older translation) and has the bones in both feet dissolved.

mellonbread fucked around with this message at 06:02 on Apr 2, 2018

Dec 20, 2017
Zone Stalkers, Part 2

After the random encounter tables we get a section on TQZ Denizens, monsters unique to this splatbook.

Zone Stalkers, Page 12 posted:

Prior to the Fall, the TITANs experimented with ways to weaponize captured pod morphs. In one program, they scanned the central nervous systems of hundreds of Earth-based predators. They sleeved these “egos” into simulspace bodies that duplicated human pod morphs. Those that learned to control human bodies were allowed to run for millennia of subjective time, during which the TITANs tailored their environment to rapidly teach them to use their cyberbrains to full capacity. Their greatest success were the ny’knikiin: a species of voracious predators derived from mantis shrimp. Ny’knikiin can run on any transhuman-built cyberbrain. Their simulmorphs, modeled on pleasure pods, had virtual mesh inserts, so the TITANs taught them a language employing their headware radios and pheromones. Then the TITANs began talking to them. These communications were preceded by the “god scent,” a simulated burst of pheromones that prompts genitals-clutching lust and slavering hunger.

The TITANs taught the ny’knikiin to use transhuman technology to fight, to heal, to fabricate gear, and to implant cyberbrains in their newborns. The ny’knikiin’s own name for themselves means “Those who can scent God.” The Yazidis named them “ny’knikiin” after a demon in Yazidi mythology. Ny’knikiin use their cyberbrains and mesh inserts very differently from transhumans. Data structures in their cyberbrains are analogous to sensory and language centers in the human brain; these directly employ their mesh inserts to communicate.

Ny’knikiin are semi-nomadic, ranging in bands but also maintaining small domes. If they capture transhumans, they either eat them or steal their bodies. Pod cyberbrains are wiped to house a ny’knikiin ego. Biomorphs are decerebrated to make room for a ny’knikiin cyberbrain. Synths, they recycle. They’re not exsurgents and kill or exile those who contract the virus. Ny’knikiin have beautiful, doll-like features, but they trim back their lips to produce permanently bared teeth and sculpt the tongue to make it long and pointed. Their vocalizations are limited to wails and grunts made to frighten prey.

Firewall is unaware of the ny’knikiin, although once discovered, a Research Test in the Eye’s archives may turn up reports of “exsurgent-infected” pods that might have really been ny’knikiin. It’s also possible the TITANs seeded them on exoplanets.
Ever since The Oatmeal did that strip about them, people can’t get enough of Mantis Shrimp. The accelerated simspace “evolution” is a cool detail.

Zone Stalkers, Page 13 posted:

Wastewalkers are exsurgent cyborgs designed by the TITANs to fill an infantry role in ground operations. Unlike many exsurgents, they’re intelligent and employ sophisticated tactics. During the Fall, they used waves of lesser exsurgents as shock troops and indirect fire spotters while providing fire support from the rear. “Feral” wastewalkers survive without TITAN control in places like the TQZ. There they run in packs, with an alpha dominating and coordinating the others.

Wastewalkers are tall and wiry. They wear smooth, white masks that completely cover the face and may in fact be part of it. Their masks are starkly minimal, with circles for eyes, a narrow slot at the mouth, and short, horn-like protrusions that curve up from the cheek bones to one side of the eyes and end in rounded-off nubs. Their arms, legs, and fingers are elongated and spindly, with jagged protrusions at the joints that give their bodies a sketchy appearance. Wastewalker hands end in long, sharp claws. They’re covered in a hidelike, patterned, black material that might be skin or might be polymer armor. Humps high on their backs, from which several long, thin cylinders protrude vertically, house hives of fabricator and disassembler nanobots. The humps hold feedstock and nutrients and fabricate ammunition for the weapons growing from wastewalkers’ arms.

Wastewalkers communicate with each other in bursts of noisy, pulse-modulated sound, like static blasting out of a distorted speaker. The few recordings of this sound have never been decoded; linguists believe they are encrypted. Wastewalkers are known to emit signals on radio frequencies used by the TITANs, so perhaps there’s an unspoken component to this horrid language.

Post-Fall, wastewalkers are thankfully rare, but many still range the White Zone or lair in ruined habitats such as Qurain. Lacking orders from the TITANs, they’ve taken to defending the territories they’ve staked out, alternately cooperating with or hunting other exsurgent types. They still need organic nutrients, but the terraforming of Mars has helped them to survive. They’ve taken to hunting small animals, gathering vegetation, and preying on the occasional zone stalker. When not patrolling or hunting, they may sit immobile for long periods, feeding by letting their nanohives forage for raw materials.

Wastewalkers replenish their numbers by restraining transhuman victims and placing a mask on them, which quickly fuses to the face. Once masked, the new recruit metamorphoses into a wastewalker within a few days. It’s not known whether the process is reversible, nor what the result would be if an uplifted animal were masked. It is known that it works only on biomorphs; synths are immune.

Unfortunately the wastewalkers and the ny’knikiin are both quite bland mechanically - human sized enemies who use human sized tactics to shoot you with human sized guns in a human sized firefight.

Zone Stalkers, Page 14 posted:

Yazidis are a religious sect of Kurds abandoned in the TQZ during the Fall. Rather than perish, they became infected with a mutant strain of the Watts-MacLeod virus, in effect becoming exsurgents. Other exsurgents and many TITAN war machines simply ignore them. They’ve since adapted to live among the dangers of the TQZ. Laden with survival gear, they dress in ragged, desert-patterned ghillie suits purpose-built to foil the senses of TITAN warbots. Their lifestyle revolves around subsistence nanofabrication and maintaining concealed greenhouses (much like the nomads of the Martian north). Yazidi gear is unusual in that everything has access jacks. To avoid detection, they only use wireless meshes within shielded camps.

The Yazidis were already a close-knit community before the Fall, most having emigrated from Germany, but religion now occupies a central place in their lives. They revere Tawûsê Melek, the Peacock Angel, whom they believe granted their async powers to help them survive. Peacock and sun motifs are common on their clothes and gear.

Yazidis aren’t hostile. Usually they hide from outsiders. Many have been killed by the Rangers when they went too near the Zone perimeter. On occasion, they approach transhumans who go deeper into the Zone, offering to barter. A few zone stalkers are rumored to get most of their artifacts this way, but if true, the details of their arrangements with the Yazidis are well guarded.

When Yazidis do make contact, they sometimes offer visions of Tawûsê Melek to guests using the scenario sleight (p. 371, EP). Those who accept are shown the Yazidi story of the Fall, including their survival, which they attribute to the Peacock Angel and other heavenly beings. Visions last an eyeblink, but are much longer subjectively. A character who submits to a Yazidi vision must make a WIL x 2 Test. If they fail, they’re infected with the Yazidi variant of Watts-MacLeod. They gain the following traits: Psi (Level 1), Mental Disorder: Cosmic Anxiety Disorder, and Mental Disorder: [player’s choice]. They don’t initially gain any psi sleights. For each week spent living among the Yazidis and practicing their lifestyle, the character may ignore the effects of the cosmic anxiety disorder for 1 month. Because this requires a dangerous trip in and out of the TQZ, many of those infected stay with the Yazidis permanently. Finally, within the boundaries of the TITAN Quarantine Zone on Mars only, exsurgents are neutral to the character, only attacking if the character takes hostile action first. War machines only attack if “hungry” (e.g., fractals scavenging for raw materials).
Keep in mind this was all written before Yazidis started appearing in the news w/r/t all the ISIS stuff. This was back when the average person had never heard of them. The part about getting the WML virus (the psychic version of the exsurgent virus) from them and being bound to the Zone is a great plot element. It’s an excellent alternative to the Futura Project if you need to explain how your character got psychic powers.

After this comes TITAN Artifacts. These are the reason Stalkers go into the Zone in the first place.

In brief you’ve got
  • BREEDING CRABS, crustaceans that attach to your genitals and make you horny
  • FABRICATOR NANOSWARMS, nanomachines that disassembles things and rebuilds them in strange new patterns
  • HALCYONS, bird shaped things that get you high
  • HALFTONES, ampoule shaped things that get you high
  • MORPHGROW, ooze that makes your body grow faster and larger
  • SPORTS, malformed TITAN medical experiments
If it seems like I’m a little disappointed with the selection, it’s because I am. There’s nothing as evocative or mysterious as something like an empty, it all seems pretty similar to things transhumans could just make themselves. This is the weakest part of the book in my opinion.

Up next, we’ve got a few Locations

There’s the Canyon of the Creepies (a canyon full of robots infected with the exsurgent virus) and the Mogura Bunkers (with nothing interesting inside). There’s a blurb about Qurain,, a pre-fall Muslim city state which happens to be the setting of Million Year Echo, one of the few published modules released for Eclipse Phase.

The most interesting location, and the one that’s given the most detail, is the White Zone. This is the center of the TQZ, where the real action happens. The White Zone has a few points of interests in it, the most interesting of which are:

Zone Stalkers, Page 18 posted:

These hexagonal grids of smoky, impact-proof glass hold the imprisoned egos of asyncs. Touching or walking on any of the panes triggers their powers— perhaps along with tortured pleas for release. A handful are found on the surface, but they’re more common below ground, where the comet strikes can’t destroy them.

Wastewalkers have carved out a town of sorts here. The town itself is several levels deep in the tunnels, but the most-used entry points are at the foot of the mensa, where comet strikes are uncommon. These entries vomit forth midden heaps of scavenged refuse stripped of useful elements. They’re surrounded by orderly grids of ramshackle buildings—an odd combination of military camp and shanty town.

The town is unknown to Firewall, and so what goes on here waits to be discovered. Why would an exsurgent species whose basic social units are packs of hunter-nanoforagers have a gathering place? Do they come here to increase their numbers through the pleasures of the breeding crabs? To wait for a sign from their silent creators? To make plans for their own place in the solar system? Is “town” even a proper description for this gathering place; might it have purposes very different from those for which transhumans build settlements?

What of the things underground? Is there any truth to the rumor of the Seethe, a massive, computationally dense pool of gray goo somehow held in confinement here? What of the thing seen in a satellite photo of the breach opened by a comet impact, controversially interpreted by one Firewall analyst as a massive, photosynthetic, grub-like organism, tended by other exsurgents in a deep chamber so that it would exhale breathable atmosphere?

The pinecone shaped objects in the background are presumably fractal barrows, one of the Zone’s distinctive terrain features.

There’s a section called FIREWALL AND OTHER GROUPS which describes the various factions and their relationship to the Zone, but it’s all stuff you could have figured out on your own. Nobody who wants the Zone destroyed has the power to do so. For now, they’re stuck observing and containing.

Dec 20, 2017
Zone Stalkers, Part 3 (Final)

Last but not least, there’s your TQZ PLOT HOOKS

Zone Stalkers, Page 19 posted:

BioTeka, an ambitious hypercorp startup, seeks a leg up on its competition by collecting specimens from the Zone for study. A caravan of heavily armed BioTeka vehicles (mostly crasher trucks) ran the Zone perimeter and spent several weeks tracking and trapping wild artificials and exsurgents. They’ve bribed key Ranger and League officials to look the other way when they exit a few days from now. This leaves it to Firewall to prevent them returning the contraband monstrosities to BioTeka’s labs on the outskirts of Noctis-Qianjiao. Possible complications includes exsurgents escaping from the caravan en route, Ozma taking an interest, and divided loyalties for Lost Generation player characters when research reveals that the company’s young executives share their origin.

Bored rich kids have been running the Zone, doing video and XP shoots in the ruins, and sneaking back to civilization (see Death Valley AF9, p. 10). Aside from representing an infection risk, they’ve set in motion a meme that trivializes the dangers of the TQZ, breeding complacency and even dangerous copy-cats. Can a countermeme then be crafted to undo the damage they’ve done?

What should have been a routine patrol ends with a Ranger flyer wrecked in a dust storm—20 klicks inside the Zone. The Rangers are prepared to deploy a search team to its last known position, but someone high up in government has other ideas. The patrol officers saw something they shouldn’t have, and now the Rangers are being ordered to leave their comrades to their fate. Hands not quite tied, the Ranger officer calls in a marker—one with a Firewall proxy’s name on it. Firewall’s interest is only heightened by the possibility of a coverup. Can the team reach the downed Rangers in time—and keep them alive long enough to learn what they saw?

The PCs are approached with an offer from an unusual client. Several unknown organisms have been stolen from a colony of Factors visiting the solar system (they refuse to identify the exact nature of the specimens). The thieves have taken them to a lab inside the perimeter of the TQZ. Will the humans be so kind as to locate this facility and burn it thoroughly? Recovery of the missing organisms is not requested and in fact undesirable; the infection risk is too severe. Returning with the identities of the perpetrators and information as to the nature of their research is worth a bonus. Utmost discretion is, of course, required.
A bit basic, but serviceable. I’m not sure where they’re getting the idea about “divided loyalties” from. Every Lost character I’ve ever had in my games would probably have greeted their former classmates with a bullet.

And that’s all she wrote! At 19 pages, Zone Stalkers could fit in a pamphlet, but it’s far and away the most “table ready” splatbook Posthuman ever released for 1E. Eclipse Phase always had a real problem with translating the intricately detailed setting concepts and world into something actually playable, and more books like this would have gone a long way toward addressing that. I’ve actually used a lot of the stuff in here, which is more than I can say for something like Argonauts (which provides an intricately detailed summary of future university ethics procedures).

Like I said in post one, give it a read yourself and check out the other books if it tickles your fancy. It’s all Creative Commons so you’ve really got nothing to lose.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

JackMann posted:

I'm gonna be completely honest, I figured I was caught when BinaryDoubts caught the Keebler bit. Thanks to all the people who played along. Special thanks to folks like Alien Rope Burn, Unzealous, and InklessPen who helped me come up with some of the stuff for Eldoru. I'm sorry to those who were upset to have been fooled, but I think most people enjoyed the ride. Maybe in penance I'll review a real game sometime.

A lot of the stuff in the game comes from bits in this thread and System Mastery. One of the most fascinating things to me about the games that get reviewed in this thread are places where the writer had something really cool in the setting or the system, and then veered away hard. I love that liminal space between good and bad game design, that part where if they'd just gone slightly differently, they would've had something great. I don't think this review would've been half as interesting if the rules hadn't had at least some interesting ideas to bite down on.

I went through and tried to think of as many things that could be fun and simple and made them unnecessarily complicated. It was important to me that the setting be something that should be fun. Space opera meets dungeon fantasy is a pretty cool idea for a setting. Being able to have a space marine pal around with a wizard should be a great game. So I had to start from there and then move as far away from it as possible.

Things that particularly inspired me: That one dude who went on a rant about how his players should be trying to import mustard instead of picking pockets or going on adventures, which gave me the blood turnip trade. The Pathfinder dev who played with his mouse, giving me "pull-ups aren't possible because I can't do them." Any number of systems with too many skills, particularly when they don't offer nearly enough skill points for players to spend. Every 90's game that let you break the action economy. TheIronJef's seduction skill watch. His and Jon's hatred for merits and flaws systems.

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it, and I'm glad you guys did too.

I loved it so much, I was ready to put it next to C°ntinuum. :allears:

Best prank of the day.

Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

NS1: Vengeance of the Long Serpent

This adventure is quite a leap from the prequels because it's meant for PCs of 5th level. Going by Medium Advancement in Pathfinder that would require 15,000 XP. It's likely that the party may be a level or two short, particularly if they rushed through the Ice Palace in Wyrd of the Winter King. Even if they took care of most of the encounters, the jump between 3rd and 4th is nearly double (5k to 9k). I believe that the AP is meant to be Medium Advancement, but I've heard of gaming groups due it on Slow. I can only speak to my personal experience running this on the Medium Advancement Track, but I genuinely can't see running this campaign on Slow unless you artificially pad out the campaign with random encounters and sidequests. Still, we managed well at level 4, although we had relatively powerful PCs minmax-wise at this point.

As for the adventure proper, it takes places 6 months after Wyrd of the Winter King in the season of summer. While in the busy port of Halfstead, there is much fanfare as the Long Serpent pulls into harbor. Many onlookers are familiar with the Jarls' ship and eager to learn of events, but the Vikings who come off bear looks of defeated men and women. Not all survived the voyage, and family members discover their loved ones' absence all to obvious even when unspoken among the crew. Hallbjorn Bolverkson walks off by himself to the nearest tavern, which also bears his namesake: Hallbjorn's Folly.


He appears a bit happier if the PCs make introductions, asking about their time on the mythical iceberg and the fate of the huscarls who went with them. During the conversation he explains (with liberal use of boxed-text kennings) what happened to the crew of the Long Serpent and their jarl: the ship made land at a coast rich with game of seal and whales. But they were ambushed one night by strange men who attacked their camp. Jarl Olaf Henrikson was one of those killed. The cry for vengeance encouraged their pursuit tomorrow, and they cornered their new foes in a hall full of strange treasures and trinkets. The last surviving attacker was taken, and told Hallbjorn's warriors of a village of stone dedicated to 'Althunak' further north before cursing his name. Hallbjorn responded by slaying him and tossed his body into the sea.

Having taken significant casualties, the voyage was made back south with what loot they got to trade for necessities back home. At this point Hallbjorn asks the party if they are courageous enough to join him among new replacements to avenge their jarl. He produces some of the strange jewelry and gold taken as loot, which PCs familiar with the Ice Palace's decorations can recognize being similar in design.

What I Changed: Naturally the last adventure I ran rendered the mystery of the Long Serpent moot, so I decided to have it be that the PCs were on guard at home while an expedition to the Far North was made. The default story hook works, even though it has the offscreen death of the PC's boss. It motivates them via vengeance, as well as potential greed for more mercenary-minded characters with the loot found. As Inga and the daughters were alive, I had some role-playing scenes with them, with Inga wanting to help fund their voyage as well as having her suddenly being thrust into responsibility as the next jarl in line.

Once the PCs accept his offer Hallbjorn becomes a new man. Through the next day he quickly stocks the ship with a crew of 50 and ready to sail again on the morrow. He has a deal with Jarl' Henrikson's widow and families of the lost crewmembers: grant them a share of the loot obtained in the journey back to the Far North. He graciously gives 500 hacksilver each for PCs to outfit themselves and their animal companions/retainers with supplies for at least 2 months.

The Voyage North

This adventure, including both the voyage and their time in the Far North, is expected to last for 2 months give or take a few downtime events. There is a mechanic for food to track for the crew. Supplies can be restored via random encounters (giant crabs are surprisingly edible) and hunting with appropriate skill rolls. Additionally, a lot of loot here (and in the Far North) is less coinage and more things like blubber, ambergris, walrus and mammoth tusks and the like. Basically resources from animals which would be worth a pretty penny. Given that the PCs have a ship and crew, there's no listed weight and the profits gained for PCs are presumed to have taken into account the 50 something other sailors getting their due as an abstract resource (you can get a lot of stuff from a whale's body). I like this touch: one, it cuts down on excessive book-keeping and two it has a believable sense of loot acquisition outside the typical "dungeons full of treasure chests" vibe.

The first chapter of this adventure is a mixture of random and set-piece encounters at sea. Encounters are rolled every 3 days, meaning that PCs are fighting at the top of their game in terms of spells and per-day abilities. The encounters include storms, a non-hostile dragon turtle, a dire shark who's only a threat to those who fall overboard, a giant squid which makes a hit-and-run for tasty morsels, and an island with a sea hag.

The first set-piece encounter includes the opportunity to harpoon a narwhal: this endeavor is handed as skill checks rather than straight combat, and grants a good bit of supplies, treasure (ivory), and of course Experience Points. The second encounter is far more serious, as a red sky at morn indicates a brewing storm. In spite of the preparations undertaken by the crew, Mother Nature gives the Long Serpent the fight of its life. PCs have to strain the oars to maintain forward momentum, and the temperature is dropping causing freezing water to spill onto the deck. There is a risk of PCs becoming exposed to cold weather from getting soaked, losing their footing, and even falling overboard depending on the results of their skill checks. Hallbjorn is at the rudder, and his lifeline is snapped as he and several other crewmen wash away.

This is no ordinary storm, for a few sailors swear they saw a beastly visage in the waves; one that has an uncanny resemblance to face on the coinage taken as loot by Hallbjorn from the last expedition. Hallbjorn's seeming death is a scripted event. This is to make it so that the loss of leadership causes the sailors to debate who to nominate in his place. This will be one of the PCs, but several factors determine exactly who gets the role (trained in Profession Sailor, worships a sea god, acted with courage, etc). They won't be completely in the dark, as Hallbjorn's maps and notes are still onboard to consult.

Our final encounter before Chapter 2 of NS1 occurs two days after the storm. A lone Ulnat warrior in a kayak was blown offshore and suffering from thirst and exposure. If the PCs save him, they learn that his name is Yilithi (he doesn't speak Nørsk but can gesture), and he can give directions to his village.

What I Changed: At this point in the AP I realized that there was a heavy male bias in NPC demographics, so I changed Yilithi to be an Ulnat woman named Aluki. Her role in the story was more or less the same, but the players liked her so much that they later had her on a Leadership cohort.

Continued in next post

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 06:50 on Apr 2, 2018

Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Vengeance of the Long Serpent, Second Part of Post

Exploring the Far North

This portion of the adventure gets a lot more sandboxy. There's a main goal which unfolds, but the PCs have more or less relative freedom when and how to handle it (as long as their food supplies last). The big picture is that ten years ago the Children of Althunak cult is on the rise again thanks to an Ulnat outcast named Elvanti. Angered at the fact that a women he desired wouldn't marry him, he fled when everyone else told him to stop being a "Nice Guy." Filled with revenge against those that spurred him, Elvanti made his way to one of the cities of the Uln and made a pact with the demon-god. Coming back to Ulnataland with fell supernatural powers, he froze the elders of his tribe in magical ice and and did the classic "I am the Dark Lord, join me or die" speech. Over time his cult grew, and it was members of this cult who attacked and slaughtered Jarl Olaf Henrikson and the people of the first voyage.

The various numbers on the above map represent Ulnat villages and in 2 cases the burial mounds of the jarl's crew (which the PCs should not loot unless they want to fight risen dead and their own crew) and a big temple to Althunak under construction. Most of the villages are having trouble, either under the thrall of cultists or at war with them. Killing or driving off the cultists (who can range in number from 3 to 18) liberates a village and lends the aid of Ulnat warriors (who are Rangers) to fight at the PCs' sides. The relative center of the Children of Althunak's forces and their leader in the region are headquartered at the Second Temple of Ice and Stone (first one is far north in the ruins of an Uln city). The adventure is "won" once the PCs successfully lay siege to that shrine. Strangely enough, the sailors on the Long Serpent are not discussed how/if they are deployed to help liberate villages.

There are random encounters in the Seal Coast of Ulnataland, although they're mostly mundane yet vicious arctic animals. One of them's a herd of mammoths who have the most to give in food and hacksilver ivory as loot. Although they are incredibly strong and risky to fight unless the PCs have a means of outrunning them, separating one from the herd, and/or get off a lucky save-or-suck spell.

What I Changed: The adventure runs the risk of becoming very samey in terms of combat. Besides their boss at the Temple, the Children of Althunak have universal stat blocks for every village: rank-and-file cultists (Barbarians) and spellcasting shamans (Adepts) who have ice mephit familiars along war-trained dogs (wolves). I spiced things up by having one village overseen by a single shaman who oversaw a kettle of demon-gods (dogs with fiendish template); I had the village with the magically-frozen elders home to some assassin demons, and put a few hala demons (aerial) at the Temple of Ice and Stone.

An additional complication is the large amount of allied NPCs which could prove hard to handle. I had it so that the forces represented total units for the eventual assault against the Temple rather than constant travel companions. 1 or 2 NPCs can show up when liberating smaller villages, but I had a system where for every allied warrior I would subtract 1 enemy NPC/monster during the temple assault to represent casualties and distractions among the opposition.

As for how the PCs are supposed to get the gist of this, Yilithi is insistent for them to visit his home village of Laquirv (area 5). Once they get inside, Yilithi's father introduces himself and explains the geo-political climate of the Seal Coast along with Elvanti's backstory. He's surprisingly fluent in Nørsk, once having accidentally visited the Northlands via a freak storm blowing him off-course (trait seems to run in the family). He hopes that the arrival of the Dragon Riders (their term for Northlanders) will be a boon in fighting those who sold their souls to Althunak, and tells the group about the Legend of Heroes' rock: a burial tomb which may provide guidance of how those long before once vanquished evil. He also mentions the idea of liberating villages to gain allied forces if the PCs do not come up with the idea themselves.

Heroes' Rock is technically an optional dungeon, but contains some important equipment and some information on the rise and fall of Althunak in times long past. It's quite small, 4 rooms and only the entrance has guaranteed combat: a golem made of skitched skin animated by a spider swarm. The burial vault contains pictographic murals explaining the history of the Uln and Ulnat people. At one point the specters of the three Ulnat heroes who fought the original Cult of Althunak materialize: if the PCs can prove that they they have good intentions said spirits will loan their magical treasures to the PCs for the duration of their war against the cult. If the PCs try to renege on the deal (keep the loot for themselves afterwards), said specters will hunt down the PCs to take back the items. Although there will come an opportunity for the PCs to gain these as permanent treasures in the next adventure

The magical items are quite good. They include a +1 animal-bane scimitar, a wand of fireball with 13 charges, scrolls with the fly, mending, and tongues spells, and the legendary sword FELLFROST!

What I Changed: I learned sometime that the IRL Inuit fashioned some tools out of meteorite iron. I decided to reflavor Heroes' Rock as being the dug-out remains of a meteor containing cold iron, which gave the village of Laquirv an advantage in resources. Both in being useful for metalworked tools and for the materials' ability to harm demons.

Against the Children of Althunak

The final chapter of Vengeance of the Long Serpent discusses how the Children of Althunak react at the large-scale level to newfound resistance. They will fan out in patrols around the coasts with kayaks and move mobile villages inland. The cultists also need to stock for provisions so they won't fortify a single base and hold down indefinitely. Unless the PCs tip their hands do not know the nature of the force ("are they Ulnat or foreigners, random or tactically coordinated, etc?") so they are divided in how to handle the threat.

As for the Temple proper, it is located on a plateau which gives the cultists an ample field of vision which to spot intruders, and is labor-intensive in the requirement of slaves for its construction. Specifically, a big-rear end statue of Althunak is the major project: a gaping maw, a crown of icicles, and dried blood for a nice paint job. The guards can be quite varied in number (1d10+10) with 1d3 hunting dogs per cultist, and the adventure encourages the GM to alter the numbers depending on the PCs' forces to ensure a reasonable challenge.

The High Priest of the Coming Winter is here at all hours. He has levels in Adept, a rather low-power NPC spellcasting class, but the trick up his sleeve is that he's a werebear unafraid to mix things up. Several of his spells are geared around buffs such as bull's strength and bless, and he has obscuring mist and web for battlefield control. Defense-wise he's quite tough, with DR 10/silver (which the PCs are not guaranteed to have via loot) and up to 22 AC depending on which form he takes.

When the fighting starts, the cultists will defend the cella (main house of worship containing the statue). There are noncombatant family members of the cultists and slaves present, the latter of whom will not take to arms unless the High Priest is slain. At this point the slaves will take up arms of fallen cultists and turn on the remainder as well as the noncombatants and dogs unless the PCs stop them.

What I Changed: I removed the presence of civilian cultists from this as well as their potential slaughter, on account that role-playing out the consequences of war crimes didn't fit with the previous adventures' derring-do heroism and overall wouldn't lead to good times with my gaming group.

Once the cultists are defeated, the surviving Ulnat will topple the statue of Althunak, and there's a king's ransom worth of loot to be claimed in the cella (over 15,000 hacksilver worth). After the Seal Coast is freed from the Children of Althunak's grip, the Ulnat present several goodwill offerings for the PCs before they leave for home, including various trade goods and a staff of the woodlands which can do various druidic spells. They also hope that the PCs return again as friends and trading partners. Back at Halfstead, Olaf Henrikson's widow is expecting a portion of the proceeds. Although the deal was with Hallbjorn it would be the honorable route for the PCs to maintain this deal. If the PCs do so, the widow will let the party keep the Long Serpent on account that her family won't be using it for some time. She says it is better served on the high seas than rotting away on land.

What I Changed: I used the deal with the family members to show off the gift-giving experience campaign house rule even though it is meant to be used for the party's servants and hirelings.

Concluding Thoughts: This is a pretty good adventure. It starts out linear but opens into a bit of a sandbox, has abstracted treasure which makes sense in the context of the world, the natives are not helpless people waiting to be saved but fight alongside the PCs for an eventual battle at the main temple, and speaking with the legendary heroes to get their magical gear on loan is in line with Spring Rites' Hægtesse. Such options make getting new equipment feel like momentous occasions. The Northlands has a pleasant variety of adventure types, and after a "race against time" and "dungeon crawl" adventures, the "sandbox liberation" that is Vengeance of the Long Serpent helps keep things fresh.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! Althunak is pissed at this major setback, and although there are no explicit encounters the adventure suggests peppering the next few adventures with signs of his displeasure: cold-based monsters appearing out of nowhere, localized freak weather, etc. Good thing the PCs will be wrecking the original Temple of Ice and Stone in the next adventure, NS2: Beyond the Wailing Mountains!

Jun 14, 2015

slime time

Holy poo poo, I was completely fooled. Good job, JackMann.

Oct 14, 2011
Nicely done, JackMann. Now, let's see if I can finally get this last update to the 3.0 PHB posted...

Nope, still not working. Maybe I need to delete my Something Awful cookies or some poo poo...

Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

hectorgrey posted:

Nicely done, JackMann. Now, let's see if I can finally get this last update to the 3.0 PHB posted...

Nope, still not working. Maybe I need to delete my Something Awful cookies or some poo poo...

I notice that if it's a really long post, splitting the post into two parts helps. I did that with some of my Northlands entries.

Oct 14, 2011

Libertad! posted:

I notice that if it's a really long post, splitting the post into two parts helps. I did that with some of my Northlands entries.

Thanks; this seems to be working.

D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 7: Magic (Part 1)

Here we are, at the penultimate chapter. The chapter on magic begins by explaining that there are two types of magic: Arcane (used by Wizards, Sorcerers and Bards) and Divine (used by Clerics, Druids, Paladins and Rangers). In addition, most spells are part of one of eight different schools of magic. We then get a couple of examples different spells: Charm Person to get a goblin to give the party information (since the goblin thinks of the caster as his friend); Summon Monster 1 to provide a Rogue with flanking for a turn; and Burning Hands to roast some kobolds.

A side bar gives us the following regarding spell preparation:

What is a spell? posted:

A spell is a one-time magical effect. Most spellcasting characters - Wizards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins and Rangers - prepare their spells in advance and use them when the time is right. Preparing a spell requires careful reading from a spellbook (for Wizards) or devout prayers or meditation (for divine spellcasters). In either case, preparing a spell means casting the first and lengthiest part of it. Only the very end of the spell, its trigger, remains to be activated. After preparing a spell, the character carries it, nearly cast, in his or her mind, ready to use. To use a spell, the character completes casting it. Spellcasting might require a few special words, specific gestures, a specific item, or any combination of the three. Even though most of the spell was essentially cast ahead of time during preparation, this final action is known as "casting" the spell.

It's an interesting bit of fiction for the implied setting of D&D, and if I'd actually bothered to read that bit when I first played D&D, I might not have had the same problems with it as a game - Vancian casting always made far less sense to me in fiction when the terms used were memorise and forget, and the same terms were used by a lot of veteran players around the time I first got my hands on this.

This is where the game describes the casting of a spell. First, you choose which spell to cast - if you prepare spells, then you pick one of your prepared spells; if you cast spontaneously, then pick a spell known. You always have the option to use a higher level slot to prepare or cast (depending on whether you prepare or cast spontaneously) a lower level spell, but this does not improve the spell in any way. This, incidentally, means that you can in fact play the world's worst Wizard with an Intelligence of 10 all the way to level 20 without losing out on spells per day - while you can only cast cantrips, you can still cast 40 of them per day...

Spells that have a casting time of one action are cast as a standard action, and go into effect immediately. Spells with a casting time of a full round are cast as a full round action (surprise, surprise) and go into effect immediately before your next turn. Longer casting times naturally take longer to cast - a spell with a casting time of one minute cast on your first turn goes into effect immediately before your 11th turn, and so on.

There are six standard ranges for a spell (all of which include the caster: Personal means that it only affects the caster; Touch means that it can only affect a target that the caster touches; Close means it can reach up to 25 feet away, +5 for every two caster levels; Medium means that it can reach up to 100 feet away, +10 per caster level; Long means that it can reach up to 400 feet away, +40 per caster level; and Unlimited means that it can reach anywhere on the same plane of existance. Some spells don't have a standard range, and instead simply have a range expressed in feet.

To cast a spell that has a target, you must be able to see the target - which usually means you need line of sight, but remote vision might also help in some cases. You also need to specify a target - you can't simply say that your Magic Missile targets "the leader of the bandits" unless you can identify which of the bandits is the leader (or successfully guess).

For rays, you need to have line of effect - that is to say, there needs to be a completely unobstructed line between you and your target. You need to make a ranged touch attack to hit your target, and cover will apply (since the ray actually needs the target). Other attack spells also require line of effect to work, as do summoning spells.

Some spells create clouds of gas or fog, which spread out from an origin point. This can spread into areas you can't see, but you must be able to see the origin. This also applies to burst spells, such as dispel Magic or Fireball. A cone shoots away from you in a direction you choose - it is as wide at its furthest point is it is long. Some of these spells can be shaped, often in discrete 10 foot cubes.

Most spells grant a saving throw to reduce or negate the harm caused by the spell. The save might negate the harm entirely, do a different, lesser kind of harm (for example, a spell that would normally kill simply deals damage), do half its usual damage, or may simply not be allowed. Magic objects, and objects being used or worn by a character, may also make saving throws against spells that specifically target objects, using the character's saves unless their own are better. Also, some spells are usually harmless or beneficial, but allow a save anyway (for example, somebody who does not wish to be healed magically can attempt to resist it with a Will save). The DC for these saves is 10 + the level of the spell + the casting stat bonus of the caster (so Intelligence for Wizards, Wisdom for Clerics, and Charisma for Sorcerers). When a spell has a different level for different classes, use the one relevant to your own class.

When you succeed on a saving throw against a spell without obvious physical effects, you feel a hostile force or a tingling, but you cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. The example here is that if you cast Charm Person on someone and you fail, they know that someone has tried to use magic on them, but they don't know what kind. You can tell if a target of a targetted spell has succeeded at a saving throw, but you canot sense this for area of effect spells (including such things as Zone of Truth).

You can, of course, choose to simply fail your saving throw - this is what is generally assumed to happen with healing spells under most circumstances. You can even choose to lower any special resistances to magic if you wish (for example, an elf can choose to allow a sleep spell to affect them).

A spell that does not explicitly target objects does not affect any object being carried or worn by a creature. However, if the creature rolls a natural 1 on a saving throw, there is a chance that a randomly determined item will also be struck. Unworn items are will be affected by area of effect spells - magical items get saving throws, while non magical items are assumed to fail their save and take whatever effect the spell would usually have. The DMG covers magic item saving throws.

Some characters have Spell Resistance (SR) - while some rare spells do not allow SR to apply, most do. To affect a creature with SR with a spell, the caster must make a caster level check (d20 + caster level) and get at least equal to the SR of the target. A creature can voluntarily lower their SR - this is often done so that they can receive magical healing - but this naturally leaves them vulnerable to other spells.

Most durations are measured in rounds, minutes, hours or some other easy to use increment. Once the time is up, the spell ends. If a duration is variable, the DM is supposed to roll it secretly. Some spells, such as Cure Light Wounds, have an instantaneous duration - the healing doesn't go away, but the magic is only around for as long as it takes for the healing to occur (which is instant). Some spells have permanent duration, in which case it will last until somebody removes it. Some spells require concentration to keep going - concentrating on such a spell is a standard action, and no other spells may be cast in the meantime.

For touch spells, you can hold the charge as long as you wish (though as mentioned under Combat, if you touch anything or anyone the spell immediately goes off) - this means that you can cast Cure Light Wounds on the first turn, and then wait until somebody has been hurt before walking up to them and using the spell on them.

Some spells may be dismissed; this is a standard action, and involves using a modified version of the spell's verbal component. If there is no verbal component, then the spell may be dismissed with a gesture.

There are six kinds of spell component, and each spell has at least one of them. All of the components for the spell must be present for the spell to work. A verbal component is a spoken incantation, which must be spoken in a strong, clear voice. A Silence spell or a gag spoils the incantation, and thus prevents the spell from being cast. A deaf spellcaster has a 20% chance to screw this up due to mispronunciations.

A somatic component is measured and precise movement or the hand or some other part of the body. At least one hand must be free to provide a somatic component. Naturally, if you are being grappled, you cannot do spells which require this component, and if you're wearing armour, you risk failing any arcane spell with a somatic component.

A material component is a physical substance or object that is annihilated by the spell as part of the casting. If a spell requires, for example, a pearl worth at least a hundred gold, then casting that spell five times requires five such pearls. Unless a cost is given for a material component, the cost is negligible. You shouldn't bother to keep track of such components; if you have your spell component pouch, you have all you need.

A focus is a prop of some sort; much like a material component except that it is not destroyed by the casting (thus it can be reused). As before, unless a specific cost is listed, you can assume you have it so long as you have your component pouch.

A divine focus is much like a regular focus, except it must be of spiritual significance to the caster. Sometimes a divine spell allows for such a focus to be used where the arcane equivalent would require a material component.

Finally, some spells cost XP to cast. These are spells like Wish, Miracle and Commune. That XP is permanently spent, and can only be re-earned the old fashioned way. You cannot spend enough XP to lose a level, and thus must have sufficient XP above what your current level requires in order to cast the spell. That said, you are not required to level up upon gaining sufficient XP; you may instead choose to keep it aside for spell casting purposes.

Casting spells also requires concentration. If anything happens which could interrupt your concentration while you are casting, you must make a Concentration skill check to not lose the spell. I listed the DCs back when I was discussing skills, but it is worth pointing out here that if a spell takes longer than a standard action to cast, further injury to the spell caster can force further Concentration checks - Sorcerers in particular need to be aware of this, since using any metamagic on their spells increases casting time.

A spell caster can also counter spells as they are being cast. In order to do this, the spell caster must ready an action to counter a spell from a specific opponent. If that opponent attempts to cast a spell, the spell caster immediately gets a Spellcraft check to identify the spell being cast. If this succeeds, then the spell caster can attempt to counter; if not, they can't. In order to counter a spell, the spell caster must have the same spell available to cast, Dispel Magic available to cast, or a spell specifically listed as being opposed to the spell being cast. Related spells cannot be used in place of the actual spell (for example, Delayed Blast Fireball cannot be used to counter Fireball). Metamagic is not taken into account for the purposes of whether a spell is the same spell. If you cast the correct spell, then both your spell and the other spell negate each other.

Your caster level is basically your level in the class that the spell was learned from. For example, a level 10 Wizard has a caster level of 10, while a level 2/8 Wizard/Sorcerer has a caster level of 2 for Wizard spells and 8 for Sorcerer spells. You can cast a spell at a lower caster level than usual, but the caster level you use must be high enough to cast the spell in the first place. This would rarely come up, but it might be useful for situations where you want to hide just how powerful a spell caster you are.

Spells can fail from Arcane Spell Failure from armour, failing a Concentration check, or from being cast on a target that's not appropriate for the spell in question (for example, if you cast Charm Person on a dog - even if that dog has been polymorphed into a human). In all such cases, that casting of the spell is wasted. This includes spells which only affect targets with sufficiently low hit points or hit dice, and no, the GM is not under any obligation to tell you in advance whether a spell would be wasted when you choose to cast it.

Some spells (such as Invisibility) end if the person under the effect attacks anybody. An attack is defined as all offensive combat actions, even those that don't inflict damage. It does not, however, include summoning magic, as this does not directly harm anyone.

Some spells give bonuses - with only a few exceptions (Dodge bonuses, most Circumstance bonuses and Armour bonuses gained from using both armour and a shield), spells with the same bonus type do not stack. Instead, the target simply receives the best bonus of that type in effect at any given time. This also applies to penalties; only the worst is taken.

Some spells have descriptors; they don't have any real mechanical effect, but some people gain bonuses to saving throws against spells with certain descriptors (such as Mind Affecting or Language Dependent). In the latter case, the spell only works if the language used with the spell can be understood by the target; otherwise the spell is wasted.

Some spells are able to bring back the dead. When a living creature dies, its soul departs its body, leaves the material plane, travels through the astral plane and goes to the plane where its deity resides. Creatures that didn't worship a deity instead go to the plane of their alignment. Raising the dead involves contacting this soul - provided it is free and willing to return, the spell may succeed. If the soul is either not willing or not free to return, the spell is wasted. The soul knows the name, alignment and patron deity (if any) of the character attempting to bring them back, and may choose not to return on those grounds.

You can prevent a character from being brought back from the dead in a couple of ways; the most certain is a spell called Trap the Soul, which prevents the soul from moving on to the afterlife in the first place. More common is to destroy the corpse, as the most common resurrection magic requires at least some part of the body to be intact in order to work.

Finally, being raised from the dead usually costs the character a level of experience. XP is set midway between the required amount for the previous level and their current level (i.e. if you were level 5 when you died, you will return as a level 4 character with 8,000 XP (level 4 requires 6,000 and level 5 10,000)). Honestly, level loss is a bit of a pain in the arse, and I usually prefer to roll up a new character rather than resurrect one that died, but if you really want to keep playing your current character, it means that death isn't completely toothless. If a level 1 character is raised from the dead, they instead permanently lose a point of Constitution. The level or Constitution loss cannot be repaired by any kind of magic, though XP may still be gained as normal and and Constitution may still be increased through levels.

Oct 14, 2011
D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 8: Magic (Part 2)

As mentioned before, for a Wizard, preparing a spell essentially involves casting the majority of the spell in advance, leaving only the smallest portion remaining to complete the spell. This process requires at least 15 minutes and up to an hour, and it requires at least eight hours of rest (not necessarily sleep, but there must be no movement, combat, spell casting, conversation or basically anything metally or physically taxing (including taking watch). If this rest is interrupted, then an additional hour of rest must be had, and at least one uninterrupted hour must be had prior to the preparing spells.

A Wizard may choose not to prepare all of the spells they could cast that day - instead leaving some slots empty in case they're needed later. This preparation of spells midway through the day takes a minimum of 15 minutes, and spells which have already been prepared cannot be swapped out with new ones. Once prepared, a spell remains prepared until it is cast - though some magical effects can cause prepared spells to be lost.

At this point in the book, we get an explanation on magical writings - basically, describing magic in writing requires a special notation, much like how we use musical notation to describe music and mathematical notation to describe mathematics and physics. While everybody uses the same magical notation, everybody uses it in their own unique way - it takes time and a Spellcraft check to decypher magical writing, or else a casting of the Read Magic spell allows the writing to be read without a check. Once it has been decyphered, it does not need to be decyphered a second time. Alternatively, the writer of the notation can grant automatic success.

A Wizard can prepare spells from borrowed spellbooks, but it is difficult. Assuming it has been decyphered, preparing the spell requires a Spellcraft check of DC 15 + spell level. If this check succeeds, the spell can be prepared once; a separate check must be made for each preparation, and once a check is failed, the spell cannot be prepared until the next day.

Wizards learn new spells in a number of ways. The one way in which they're guaranteed to learn spells is by levelling up - every level, they are assumed to have been doing their own research during their downtime, and as such receive two spells of any level they can cast when they level up. Specialist Wizards must take at least one of these from their specialist school.

The most common means of gaining spells is for a Wizard to copy a spell from either a scroll or another Wizard's spellbook. This process takes a day, and requires a Spellcraft check of DC 15 + spell level, with a +2 bonus if you're specialised in the school of magic. If this check succeeds, you now understand the spell well enough to transcribe it in your own words into your spellbook. If the spell is copied from a spellbook, the original remains intact, but if it is copied from a scroll, the magic is removed from the scroll. On a failed check, you cannot learn this spell until you gain a new rank in spellcraft, regardless of the source. If you were trying to copy from a spellbook, it cannot be copied from that spellbook; if you were trying to copy it from a scroll, the magic does not disappear from the scroll.

The third and final means of gaining new spells is through independent research. This is covered in more detail in the DMG, but essentially it can either duplicate an existing spell or create an entirely new one.

Naturally, a Wizard's spellbook only has enough space for so many spells - a typical spellbook has a hundred pages. Writing a spell into your spellbook takes one day per spell level, +1. A level 0 spell takes a single day. Each spell takes up two pages per spell level, while a level 0 spell takes up a single page. Having done the maths, assuming that a Wizard only gets spells through levelling up and takes the most powerful spells they can while attempting to not waste spellbook space, a level 20 Wizard requires four spellbooks. The kinds of Wizard you're more likely to find in play will generally require a few more, meaning that as Wizards reach higher levels, they tend to pick up a spellbook specifically for travelling, which includes only the most regularly used spells on their list. The special inks and other materials required for writing in a spellbook costs 100GP per page.

Sorcerers and Bards do not use spellbooks and do not prepare spells; they learn spells only by levelling up, and they may cast any of their spells known that they have sufficient slots for. However, they must have 8 hours of rest, and 15 minutes of meditation to ready their mind for the casting of spells.

Any spells cast during the 8 hours immediately prior to regaining arcane spells are counted against the spells a character may regain - for example, if there was an attack in the night, and the wizard had to cast a fireball, the Wizard has one fewer third level spell available to them when it comes time to prepare new spells.

When it comes to divine magic, things work a little differently. You must pick a certain time of the day when you create the character (or first take a level in a divine casting class). At that time of day, you must spend an hour praying and meditating in order to receive spells from your patron. As with the Wizard, you can leave some slots empty for later preparation. While preparation requires peace and quiet, it does not require rest. On the other hand, it must be done at a certain time every day, and if the opportunity is missed, spells may not be prepared until the following day. Divine casters must also deal with the recent casting limit, as described above.

As we reach the end of the chapter on Magic, we get a description of the eight schools of magic.

Abjuration is comprised entirely of protective and banishment spells - antimagic field, protection from evil, dispel magic and banishment are the examples given here. If multiple abjuration spells are active within 10 feet of each other for 24 hours or more, the magical fields interfere with each other, creating barely visible energy fluctuations. Barriers created by abjuration spells do not push away creatures within the area already.

Conjuration is comprised of four kinds of spells: Summoning spells bring a creature or object from another place to a place you designate, and sends them back once the spell ends; Calling spells fully transport a creature from another plane to the plane you are currently on; Creation spells create an object or creature in place, and Healing spells heal things. The main difference between Summoning and Calling is that Summoned creatures don't die when brought below 0 hp but instead return to where they came from, while a Called creature that is killed is dead. Calling extraplanar entities is a dangerous task, and requires a decent amount of preparation. Magic Circle and Dimensional Anchor allow the Conjurer to keep the being in place, while special diagrams can make these traps more secure.

Divination spells give you more information - Identify, Detect Thoughts, Clairvoyance and True Seeing are good examples of this school. Many of these spells have a cone shaped area that moves with you, and if you study the same area for multiple rounds you can often gain additional information.

Enchantment spells are one of two types: Charm spells change the way a creature views you (often making them see you as a good friend), while Cumpulsion spells force the subject to act in some way or changes the way their mind works. Sugession, Domination and Charm Person are good examples of this school.

Evocation spells manipulate energy, and are the main source of damage dealing magic. This is the school of magic that lets you throw around fire and lightning.

Illusion spells focus on deceiving the senses or minds of others. They cause you to see things that aren't there, not see things that are, hear phantom noises, remember things that never happened, or any number of things. They also include spells that create illusions that are so powerful, they can have a real impact on the world. Illusion magic commonly comes with a Will save to disbelieve, provided they have a good reason to - for example, an illusory floor over a pit only gives a save to disbelieve if you interact with it in some way (such as stepping on it - though at that point, it might be a little obvious).

Necromancy spells manipulate the power of death, and include pretty much all spells related to undead and many that cause instant death.

Transmutation spells change the properties of a thing, making them grow, shrink or changing them into a different thing entirely.

Finally, we come to special abilities - spell-like abilities are basically abilities that a creature has that mimic a spell, except they don't have verbal, somatic or material components. They are treated as spells in all other ways, and as such can be dispelled by Dispel Magic and do not work in areas of antimagic.

Supernatural abilities include things like a medusa's petrifying gaze, a spectres ability to energy drain and a Cleric's ability to turn undead. They aren't spells, and as such aren't subject to SR or Dispel Magic, but they still don't work in areas of antimagic.

Extraordinary abilities include a Rogue's evasion ability or a troll's ability to regenerate. They are not magical in any sense, though they may break the laws of physics.

Natural abilities are things a creature can do that aren't any of the above, like a bird's ability to fly.

The final chapter provides the spell lists for all the spell casting classes. Wizards and Sorcerers take spells from the same list. It also includes details of the Cleric domains. A Cleric chooses two domains, and gains one spell per spell level per day which may be taken from one of these two domains. In addition, each domain grants a special ability to Clerics of that domain.

The elemental domains (earth, air, fire and water) give a the ability to turn/rebuke elementals of the opposite and same types respectively, which works exactly the same as their ability with undead.

The alignment domains (law, chaos, good and evil) give a cleric a +1 to caster level on aligned spells.

The Animal domain allows a Cleric to cast Animal Friendship once per day, and grants Knowledge (Nature) as a class skill.

The Death domain gives a Cleric the Death Touch ability - once per day, you may make a melee touch attack, then roll a number of d6s equal to your Cleric level. If this is higher than the number of hit points your target has remaining, they die. If not, nothing happens.

The Destruction domain gives a Cleric the ability to smite once per day. This gives a +4 attack bonus, and a damage bonus equal to their Cleric level. This must be declared prior to making the attack.

The Luck domain allows you to reroll one roll per day, but you must take the result of the reroll even if worse.

The Magic domain allows you to use scrolls, wands and other devices with spell compltion or spell trigger activation as a wizard of half your cleric level. If you are also a wizard, your actual wizard levels stack with this.

The Trickery domain gives you Bluff, Discuise and hide as class skills.

The War domain gives you a free Martial Weapon Proficiency (if necessary) and Weapon focus with your deity's favoured weapon.

Oct 14, 2011
Turned out I needed to split the post into three - apparently my connection to the site can't handle a post of more than roughly 15,000 characters...

D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 9: Magic (Part 3)

So yeah; I'm not going to describe all the spells because I could just as easily send you a link to their 3.5 equivalents and most of the spells would be identical. I will, however, describe some of the more interesting ones. They are listed in alphabetical order in the book, so that is how I will present them here (because I am lazy).

Antimagic Field is a level 6 Wizard/Sorcerer spell or a level 8 Cleric spell, and it prevents any magical effects from working within a 10' sphere, centred around you. Note that this means that you cannot cast spells yourself while the effect is active. Magical weapons that enter the area of effect become mundane weapons (though still masterwork, so you still get the +1 to hit), and innately magical creatures are not harmed (though they lose their supernatural and spell like abilities).

Arcane Lock adds a +10 to the DC to break down a door, and otherwise makes it magically locked. The Knock spell does not remove an Arcane Lock; it merely suppresses it for 10 minutes.

Atonement is used to do a couple of things: it reverses magical alignment change; it can restore class features to a Paladin who unwillingly commited an evil act (note that it cannot restore a Paladin who willingly commits an evil act); and it can allow a Cleric or Druid that incurred the anger of their deity to regain their spell casting abilities. If this was intentional, it costs the casting Cleric 500XP; if it was unintentional, it costs no XP. This spell can also be used to tempt a character to your own alignment - it cannot be used on an unwilling target. It is noted that this use is mainly intended as an in character reason why a character might drastically change alignment.

Clone is a level 8 Wizard/Sorcerer spell that allows a wizard to create a duplicate of a creature's body. If the creature being cloned is dead, then so long as the soul is free and willing to return, it may return to the clone rather than to its old body. This is the only way a Wizard can bring someone back from the dead and it is, interestingly enough, a Necromancy spell. I say interestingly enough, because Raise Dead, the Cleric equivalent, is a Conjuration spell. Personally, I preferred the flavour of having pretty much all the healing spells be Necromancy spells, but meh.

Contagion immediately gives a subject a disease. The diseases are described in the DMG, but suffice to say they are all loving nasty. This is a fourth level Sorcerer/Wizard spell, or a third level Cleric spell.

Cure Minor Wounds is a level 0 Cleric and Druid spell which cures one point of damage - enough to stabilise someone who is dying, but probably not much more than that.

Delayed Blast Fireball is a seventh level spell that creates a more powerful fireball than the regular fireball spell. You set a delay of up to five rounds, after which it explodes.

Dimension Door allows you to teleport yourself from where you are to any other spot within long range. You always get to exactly where you desire, and cannot do anything until your next turn once you have cast it (so you cannot take a move action). If you arrive in a plave that is already occupied by a solid body, you become trapped in the Astral Plane. Each turn you may make a Will save (DC 25) to return to the Material plane.

Disintegrate is a sixth level Sorcerer/Wizard spell. A thin green ray springs from your pointed finger. You make a ranged touch attack; if you hit, then you may disintegrate either a 10 foot cube of non-living matter, or a single creature or object, whichever is smaller. A creature or object that is hit may make a Fortitude save; on a success, they take 5d6 damage; on a fail, there is now a small pile of dust where they once were (which counts as enough remains for Resurrection, but not for Raise Dead).

Permanency, naturally, makes a spell permanent. This costs XP to do. There is a list of spells which may be made permanent by default, but a Wizard/Sorcerer may research the ability to apply it to other spells in the same way that Wizards can research new spells.

Phantasmal Killer is an Illusion spell that creates an image in the target's mind of the most fearsome creature they can imagine. The subject first gets a Will save to recognise it as not being real, and if touched gets a Fortitude save to not die. On a successful Fortitude save, the target takes 3d6 damage. If the target succees and is wearing a helm of telepathy, they can turn the beast on you instead, at which point you must make the same saves.

Polymorph Other permanently changes the target into a different form of creature, though it does not change the intelligence stat of the target. Polymorph Any Object changes the Intelligence stat of the target, and may also be permanent if used in this way. This is how you turn someone you don't like into a newt (though in the latter case, they at least get better after a week or so).

Power Word Kill kills a single target with a hundred or fewer hit points, or kills a group of people within 15 feet of 200 total hit points or fewer (no individual may have more than 20). Anybody with more hit points than this survives. There is no saving throw.

Ray of Enfeeblement gives a -1d6 enhancement penalty to the target's Strength (-1 per 2 caster levels to a maximum of -5), which cannot drop the ability below 1.

Rary's Mnemonic Enhancer allows you to prepare additional spells or to retain a spell that you have just cast. It's a fourth level spell, and limits you to three levels of spells. It also requires an ivory plaque worth at least 50GP.

Rary's Telepathic Bond allows a group of creatures to communicate with each other telepathically for a couple of hours - potentially useful for adventures where stealth is important.

Reincarnate restores a creature to life with their former mental abilities, but in a new physical form chosen at random. This form might be that of a fae, an animal or, if you're very lucky, a human, elf or halfling.

Shadow Evocation and Conjuration are Illusion spells that allow you to fake any Evocation or Conjuration spell of a lower level than these spells. There is a will save to disbelieve Evocation spells; if this fails, you treat the spell as the real thing, including its usual effects. If it succeeds, you take 20% of the usual damage.

The Summon Monster spells take a full round to cast, and therefore the summoned monster does not appear until just before your next turn. It's important to remember this, because this spell is often used as an example as to why the Fighter is unnecessary at high levels. Higher levels of this spell can produce either more powerful creatures or larger numbers of smaller creatures.

Transmute Rock to Mud, and it's counterpart Transmute Mud to Rock, are a pair of spells that can are basically opposits. It takes a standard action to cast either one. The latter gives a reflex save, but the ability to turn otherwise solid stone into mud has a number of very useful applications in the right hands.

Trap the Soul is how you make sure someone you don't like is never, ever coming back. It traps the soul into a gem, meaning that they cannot be returned from the dead until the gem is found.

True Resurrection can restore to life people who have been dead for upwards of a century, and whose bodies are completely gone, so long as you can identify the deceased in a completely unambiguous manner. This spell is a 9th level Cleric spell, and is the only way to bring someone back from the dead that does not cost a level. This uses up a diamond worth at least five thousand gold pieces.

Wish may duplicate any Wizard/Sorcerer spell of 8th level or lower, any other spell of 6th level or lower, undo harmful effects, create valuable items, increase ability scores (only by +1, but two to five wishes in immediate succession may increase a stat by as much as 5), create a new body for use with Resurrection, transport travellers or undo a single recent event. You can wish for more than this, but this gives the opportunity for the GM to screw with you (ideally in ways that are funny and allow you to get something out of the experience rather than simply vindictive).

And so we come to the end of the PHB. My next update will be on the beginning of the DMG. You know, there's a surprising amount of good advice in that book - I wish I'd paid more attention to it when I was younger. Oh well...

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?

JackMann posted:

I'm gonna be completely honest, I figured I was caught when BinaryDoubts caught the Keebler bit.

Are you kidding me? lovely puns and bad naming like that are a perfect fit, I mean, you've got the Keeblers in "Ballads of Eldoru," just a couple of weeks after SenZar had "Tygors" as their tiger people.

JackMann posted:

I'm sorry to those who were upset to have been fooled, but I think most people enjoyed the ride. Maybe in penance I'll review a real game sometime.

I'm not upset to be fooled, I'm just upset that there won't be a 3rd edition of Ballads of Eldoru.

Jan 29, 2009
Honestly with that level of production, I'm more impressed than fooled.

I really wanna see the layout of an octagonal grid though, just for time cube shenanigans.

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

It was most impressive. I feel really, really dumb for not catching on once the skill list was posted. A separate swimming skill for freshwater and saltwater should have been a dead giveway...but nope somehow I felt it was something that might have been done. Heck, that was the only bit that got me even a bit incredulous...even the ridiculous climb modifiers didn't flag as unbelievable.

EDIT: And I'm not sure how many people were in on this, but everyone piping up over the weird stuff about the author or game's history did a great job of selling the prank. Thanks for those who twigged to the prank early and played along to sell it.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

hectorgrey posted:

For touch spells, you can hold the charge as long as you wish (though as mentioned under Combat, if you touch anything or anyone the spell immediately goes off) - this means that you can cast Cure Light Wounds on the first turn, and then wait until somebody has been hurt before walking up to them and using the spell on them.
"Healing spells have a touch range" was one of those D&D-isms that threw me off until I looked closely, because I'd been used to decades of RPGs where you could cast from range.

hectorgrey posted:

Casting spells also requires concentration. If anything happens which could interrupt your concentration while you are casting, you must make a Concentration skill check to not lose the spell. I listed the DCs back when I was discussing skills, but it is worth pointing out here that if a spell takes longer than a standard action to cast, further injury to the spell caster can force further Concentration checks - Sorcerers in particular need to be aware of this, since using any metamagic on their spells increases casting time.
One of the lesser-known "we made the Wizard more powerful" issues with 3e is that "casting defensively" in order to avoid provoking AOOs requires a Concentration check of [15 + spell level].

Setting aside the fact that most spellcasters can simply take a 5-foot-step away from an attacker before casting, a level 17 spellcaster with 10 Con and 20 ranks in Concentration will have an 85% chance to cast a level 9 spell without provoking an AOO

Even at level 1 they already have a 45% chance to avoid provoking, and Combat Casting immediately improves that to 60%.

As an example of how other games tried to address this particular issue, Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved set the DC to ([Spell Level] + [the attacker's attack bonus, or 10, whichever is higher]). A level 17 Fighter might have an attack bonus of +34, turning that 9th-level spell defensive casting roll into an impossible DC 43.

Pathfinder handled this rather badly: the check was still the same as in 3e, but if you failed the roll, you lost the spell entirely rather than provoking. In some ways that's a harsher penalty, but it wouldn't matter since the check was still just as easy to pass.

hectorgrey posted:

Wizards learn new spells in a number of ways. The one way in which they're guaranteed to learn spells is by levelling up - every level, they are assumed to have been doing their own research during their downtime, and as such receive two spells of any level they can cast when they level up.
This was a huge change coming from AD&D, where you weren't really guaranteed to learn any spells except if you were a specialist.

hectorgrey posted:

Naturally, a Wizard's spellbook only has enough space for so many spells - a typical spellbook has a hundred pages. Writing a spell into your spellbook takes one day per spell level, +1. A level 0 spell takes a single day. Each spell takes up two pages per spell level, while a level 0 spell takes up a single page. Having done the maths, assuming that a Wizard only gets spells through levelling up and takes the most powerful spells they can while attempting to not waste spellbook space, a level 20 Wizard requires four spellbooks. The kinds of Wizard you're more likely to find in play will generally require a few more, meaning that as Wizards reach higher levels, they tend to pick up a spellbook specifically for travelling, which includes only the most regularly used spells on their list. The special inks and other materials required for writing in a spellbook costs 100GP per page.
This would have been a notable restraint on the power of Wizards, if anyone actually paid attention to it.

hectorgrey posted:

Sorcerers and Bards do not use spellbooks and do not prepare spells; they learn spells only by levelling up, and they may cast any of their spells known that they have sufficient slots for. However, they must have 8 hours of rest, and 15 minutes of meditation to ready their mind for the casting of spells.
Sorcerers, besides being a demo unit for the fancy new metamagic system in 3e, were also arguably a response to the very strict spell-learning rules of AD&D: you trade away the ability to learn every spell in exchange for being able to cherry-pick the best spells.

Unfortunately as we've seen above, Wizard limits on spell-learning were simultaneously relaxed going into 3e, eating significantly into the Sorcerer's niche.

hectorgrey posted:

So yeah; I'm not going to describe all the spells because I could just as easily send you a link to their 3.5 equivalents and most of the spells would be identical. I will, however, describe some of the more interesting ones

I took the liberty of looking up and comparing the spells that were significantly changed by the 3.5 revision:

Blade Barrier in 3.0 created a spinning disc of blades whose plane of rotation could be horizontal, vertical, or slanted. And it had a damage cap of 20d6.
3.5 changed it to either be a linear wall that's 20 feet long-per-level, or a circle of blades with a radius of 5-feet-per-level (and a height of 20 feet either way. And the damage cap was lowered to 15d6.
Presumably this was done to avoid all of the complicated arguments over the orientation of the blades.

Blindness/Deafness in 3.0 had to define the effects of blindness and deafness in the spell description itself
3.5 changed it so that it simply referenced (and inflicted) the generic status effects of Blinded and Deafened.

Call Lightning in 3.0 had a casting time of 10 minutes. It also had a duration of 10 minutes per level. As soon as you finished casting the spell, you could call down a lightning bolt immediately, and then another lightning bolt every 10 minutes after. The bolts would deal 1d10 electrical damage per level, up to 10d10. Finally, you needed the weather conditions to be cloudy/stormy, and you could only use the spell outdoors.
3.5 changed it to a 1-round casting time, and a 1 minute-per-level duration. You could call down a lightning bolt once per round, and it would deal 3d6 electrical damage. You no longer needed specific weather conditions to cast it, but if they were present, the damage would increase to 3d10. Finally, the spell was made to work both indoors and underground, but still would not work underwater.
The 3.5 revision was a significant upgrade in the "usability" of this spell.

Endure Elements in 3.0 would grant Resistance 5 against a particular energy type.
3.5 changed it so that it would protect the target from the hazards of being in below-negative-50-degree, or above-140-degree weather.
This is a significant nerf, but then Endure Elements is a level 1 spell.

Eyebite in 3.0 would let the caster inflict either a charm effect, a fear effect, a sicken effect, or a fear effect on a target.
3.5 changed it to only comatose/panicked/sickened conditions against targets with 4 HD or less, panicked/sickened conditions against targets with 5 to 9 HD, and only the sickened condition against targets with 10 HD or more.
This is a significant nerf, but then probably deservedly so, since a charm or fear effect on all possible targets is incredibly powerful.

Flame Arrow in 3.0 would let you turn projectiles into flaming projectiles, which would deal additional fire damage equal to half your caster level, up to +10.
3.5 changed it to add a flat 1d6 fire damage

Harm in 3.0 would reduce a target to 1d4 hit points, no save, no spell resistance.
3.5 changed it to deal 10 damage per caster level, capped at 150 damage, save for half.

Similarly, Heal in 3.0 would remove all hit point damage (and a number of other conditions)
3.5 changed it to retain the condition removal, but the healing was technically capped to 10 HP per caster level, capped at 150 HP.

Haste in 3.0 is probably the most infamous of the revised spells. It granted a +4 haste bonus to AC, allowed a character to jump 1.5 times as far, but most importantly gave the target an extra "partial action", otherwise what would be known as a standard action. This was a huge buff that broke the action economy wide open.
3.5 changed it to only grant a +1 AC bonus, but also a +1 bonus to Reflex saves and a +1 bonus to attack rolls. The target's movement would also increase by 30 feet. To nerf the action economy aspect, the "additional action" could only ever be used to make an extra attack, and only if the hasted creature is making a full attack.

Neutralize Poison in 3.0 would instantaneously remove any poisons on the target, but would not remove any damage/effects already inflicted.
3.5 changed it so that on top of that, the spell had a duration of 10 minutes per level, and target would also be immune to any further poisons for the duration.

Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere in 3.0 would let you hurl a sphere of freezing matter which would ice-over any body of water that it struck. You could also shoot a cold ray that deals cold damage, or hurl an ice grenade.
3.5 changed it so that you could only use the first form of the spell.

Reduce in 3.0 reduced a target's size by 10% per level caster level, to a maximum of 50%, but it still had its own definition of what that meant, including changes in weight and height and its own set of penalties just to strength.
3.5 changed it so that it would simply change the target's size to one category smaller, to be completely consistent with the rules written for such an occasion.

Righteous Might in 3.0 increased your size by one category, and all that that implies (which is weird that this spell and Enlarge Person played by those rules, but Reduce did not).
3.5 changed it to add a clause about what would happen if you were in a space too small to hold your new size - you could make a strength check to burst any enclosures penning you in.

Scrying in 3.0 used to require a skill check using the Scry skill
3.5 changed it to be based on Will saves instead, since Scry was no longer a separate skill

Wall of Force in 3.0 could be a wall, or be forced into a flat, vertical plane, or a sphere or hemisphere.
3.5 changed it to remove the sphere/hemisphere options

Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer

JackMann posted:

I'm gonna be completely honest, I figured I was caught when BinaryDoubts caught the Keebler bit. Thanks to all the people who played along. Special thanks to folks like Alien Rope Burn, Unzealous, and InklessPen who helped me come up with some of the stuff for Eldoru. I'm sorry to those who were upset to have been fooled, but I think most people enjoyed the ride. Maybe in penance I'll review a real game sometime.

A lot of the stuff in the game comes from bits in this thread and System Mastery. One of the most fascinating things to me about the games that get reviewed in this thread are places where the writer had something really cool in the setting or the system, and then veered away hard. I love that liminal space between good and bad game design, that part where if they'd just gone slightly differently, they would've had something great. I don't think this review would've been half as interesting if the rules hadn't had at least some interesting ideas to bite down on.

I went through and tried to think of as many things that could be fun and simple and made them unnecessarily complicated. It was important to me that the setting be something that should be fun. Space opera meets dungeon fantasy is a pretty cool idea for a setting. Being able to have a space marine pal around with a wizard should be a great game. So I had to start from there and then move as far away from it as possible.

Things that particularly inspired me: That one dude who went on a rant about how his players should be trying to import mustard instead of picking pockets or going on adventures, which gave me the blood turnip trade. The Pathfinder dev who played with his mouse, giving me "pull-ups aren't possible because I can't do them." Any number of systems with too many skills, particularly when they don't offer nearly enough skill points for players to spend. Every 90's game that let you break the action economy. TheIronJef's seduction skill watch. His and Jon's hatred for merits and flaws systems.

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it, and I'm glad you guys did too.

It does say a lot about how absurd some of the stuff that has been reviewed in this thread, that everything you posted did seem somewhat plausible. Still, props to devoting so much time and effort into making an actually good April Fools joke.

Jun 20, 2008

Cassa posted:

Honestly with that level of production, I'm more impressed than fooled.

I really wanna see the layout of an octagonal grid though, just for time cube shenanigans.

dare you enter the mystical realm of hyperbolic geometry

The Skeep
Sep 15, 2007

That Chicken sure loves to drum...sticks
that just reminded me that HyperRogue exists.

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
Can't you create a tessellating grind alternating octagons and squares?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Scion: Hero
We're Number Two! We're Number Two!

Lugh Lamhfhada, the Long-Handed, is also known as Samildanach, or Many-Skilled. It is often bragged that he is not the god of anything, but the god of everything, and it's only partial exaggeration. Lugh was the child of Dian Cecht's son Cian and the Fomorian Ethniu, another attempt at bringing peace. However, when Bres sided with the Fomorians, Lugh sided with the Tuatha. He was raised in fosterage by Manannan mac Lir and the Fir Bolg Tailtiu, who gave him many gifts, like the water-walking horse Aenbharr and the truth-seeking blade Fragarach. His skill at the spear earned him his nickname, Lamhfhada. His other title and his job as the god of excellence were earned when he came to Nuada's court to help plan the battle against the Fomorians. He was a master of all skills and arts, but each he offered up already had a god for it. At last, he asked if they had anyone else that was a god of all of them at once, and so he was accepted and made leader in the battle. He knows the sorcerous arts as well as those of battle and mortal skill, and may assume the mystic posture of the Fomorians by covering one eye, using one hand and standing on one foot. His Scions often inherit some of his Titanic magic - for example, his most famous child, Cu Chulainn, could perform the battle transformation called riastradh, which none could stand against. Lugh's Scions tend to be overachievers and champions, who work hard but make it look easy. While other pantheons can grow nervous when they use Fomorian power, the Irish gods see nothing wrong with it. Lugh Lamhfhada's Callings are Creator, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry, Epic Dexterity, Epic Strength, Forge, Health, Order, Prosperity and War.

Manannan mac Lir is the God of the Sea, also called Manann. He has great respect from the Tuatha, whose Otherworld realms are all islands and whose Worldly home is also an island. He stole his position from his father, the Fomorian Ler, and now rules over the passage to Tir na nOg. He claims that the Isle of Man was named for him, and given the number of Axes Mundi around it, he may be right. He was the foster father of Lugh, and he gave the god many treasures, and owns many more. Any Scion that travels to his home and impresses him can expect him to be generous, though impressing him is never easy. He tends to manifest as a merchant, a sailor, a guide or a jester, always with a hidden agenda. When the Gaels drove out the Tuatha, it was Manannan who divided up the Otherworlds between them, for he knew them better than anyone else. He spends his time wandering the World to prank mortals and ferrying the worthy dead into the Underworld. His Scions are guides and travellers, but their plots and pranks can make dealing with them difficult. They tend to stumble onto deep mysteries with an alarming regularity, which feeds into the rumors that Manannan predates the Tuatha and has seen realms long since vanished. Manannan mac Lir's Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Trickster, and his Purviews are Deception, Journeys, Prosperity, Stars and Water.

The Morrigan is the Triple Goddess of Prophecy and War. Among her many names are Morrigu, the Morrigna, Badb, Macha, Nemain and Anand, but there are others. She is the Battle-Crow and the Phantom Queen, whose presence is the harbinger of doom. She has many curses, and she is three, always three, but which three changes almost randomly. She is the nightmare goddess Morrigu, the raven-hag Badb, the mare-queen Macha, the battle-frenzied Nemain, the earth-mother Anand, the prophetic sisters Morrigna. She is the ruler of the battlefield, her bloody prophecies commanding the tides of war and her magic spreading fear and confusion. She changes shapes with ease, being animals or crones or bean sidhe, and even her favor is not safe. However, for all she is feared, the Morrigan was instrumental in the taking of Ireland from the Fomorians. She meddles as she pleases, and soldiers and bikers dedicate their vehicles in honor of her war chariot. She and her Scions manipulate all conflicts, not just war, with a vicious joy. They do not apologize, and they straddle the line between pursuing their own will and allowing Fate to guide them. They rarely reveal their motives until later, and it is hard to trust these Scions, but the Morrigan offers them all advice: never start a war. Always end one. Once loyal, they never betray. The Morrigan's Callings are Liminal, Lover and Sage, and her Purviews are Beasts (Cattle, Crow, Horses), Chaos, Death, Epic Dexterity, Fortune, Prosperity and War.

Nuada Airgetlam of the Silver Hand is also known as Nuadu and Airgeadlamh. He was the king of the Tuatha when they came to Ireland, and he led them to victory against the Fir Bolg. Had he not lost his arm in battle, he'd have held the throne for a very long time indeed, but at the time the law barred any man who was not whole from ruling. In his place, Bres the Beautiful was chosen, but he betrayed the Tuatha. Dian Cecht made Nuada a new arm of silver, earning him his title, and he took the throne again to fight Bres, but allowed Lugh command for a better chance at victory. Now, Nuada is king only of his personal domain, where the sidhe love and respect him. Ever since Dian Cecht's son Miach regrew his arm, Nuada wears the silver arm as a gauntlet to appease Dian Cecht's ego, and he lends it out in times of need to his Scions. They tend to be judges, cops, activists, therapists or philanthropists, often championing the rights of the disabled. They see Bres as proof that the old tradition was garbage. Nuada Airgetlam's Callings are Leader, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Order, Prosperity and War.

Ogma is the Champion of the Gods, also called Oghma. He is the one who serves when the gods are challenged on honor to perform a duel or contest. He is half-brother of Lugh, son of Elatha and Ethniu. This means he's a full Fomorian, but he has always stood with the Tuatha. He was the champion under Nuada and under Lugh, and he is a god of might and physical feats. He does not lead, and nor do his children, but they are not muscleheads. Ogma is also the god of writing, poetry and eloquence, after all, and invented the ogham script, which allowed druids and bards to communicate secretly, bless graves and bind oaths. Each ogham rune is also associated with a tree or plant, as Ogma is the lord of sacred plants. Ogma and his children are not only champions of causes, but also historians, archivists and protectors of history. They compete, they fight, but always for something greater than themselves. Ogma's Callings are Guardian, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry (Oration, Poetry), Epic Strength, Fortune and Wild.

The Tuatha De cosmology is made of a number of mystic isles, each reachable by certain land-based Axes Mundi and many more by sea. These, collectively, are known as Tir na nOg, the Land of the Young. While that sounds nice, these fairy places are dangerous to mortals that plan to leave again - it's easy to get trapped in a reverie or bound by the laws of hospitality and obligation and become trapped for years or more. While some fairies are benign, others delight in trickery, or simply do not understand what mortals want or value, and may take offense at strange things. While common wisdom holds that the fairy folk descend from the Tuatha De Danann, not all believe it. Some say they've been there forever, some say they descend from the Fomorians or are their ancestors.

Technically, the underworld is part of Tir na nOg, in the form of the island Mag Mell, the Plain of Joy. It's a lovely place of plenty and sunlight and plants. While most make their way to Manannan's sea-chariot on their own, others get lost on the way and end up at Teach Duinn. Nearby is Emain Ablach, the home of Manannan's court. It is the Isle of Apples, offering up its orchard bounty to any guests of the sea god. It is possible to reach the place from the Welsh isle Avalon, and fistfights have started over why the two are so connected. Then you've got Hy-Brasil, the vanishing isle of mists, and only Manannan knows when or why it shifts in and out of the World - and even he might not be sure. There are also four island kingdoms in the far north, Falias, Gorias, Findias and Murias, where the Tuatha De learned their magic before they reclaimed Ireland. These island-kingdoms are mostly shattered ruins of wilder and older time, now, showing the early lives of the Tuatha. Beyond Mag Mell is the Land of Women, where fairies occasionally invite men to go. The women of the isle are friendly with Womanland, the Amazons and the shieldmaidens, who all take part in a shared cross-realm social media network with them.

The rest of the Tuatha Otherworld is split into personal domains, largely accessible via the Axes Mundi called sidhe, fairy mounds. Each of these realms is ruled over by one of the Tuatha, as decreed long ago by Manannan mac Lir after the Gaels drove them out of the World. Scions can bargain with Manannan or his sea fae for passage to these shores; there are other entries, but they are more dangerous, and the sea god doesn't appreciate people that circumvent his authority over the Otherworlds.

Next time: The Fomhoraigh

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 17:30 on Apr 2, 2018

Jul 15, 2017

I think you left out the Morrigan's Callings, MR. You've got their Purviews listed after them instead.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Dawgstar posted:

I think you left out the Morrigan's Callings, MR. You've got their Purviews listed after them instead.

Whoops! Fixed.

Poland Spring
Sep 11, 2005
Casual reminder that although that may have been a prank Wraethuthu actually exists and is real

Jul 15, 2017

Mors Rattus posted:

Whoops! Fixed.

Now that I've seen their Callings, it's a little odd one isn't Warrior. Or maybe it's not odd? I dunno much about Celtic stuff.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

The Morrigan is a witch, not a fighter. She commands battle flow and chaos but doesn’t usually take part personally.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Deathwatch and Rites of Battle

It's called the goddamn Omega Vault, there's nothing good in there.

Watch Fortress Erioch is so big it qualifies as a major stellar object. Even in a setting where the average combat spacecraft is a 2 km flying cathedral, the Watch Fortress is big. It is also built around something that was there long before the Imperium ever found the place, something called 'THE OMEGA VAULT', that is slowly opening new rooms and new items within itself as time goes. For some reason, the Imperials seem to think this is eventually going to turn out well instead of opening onto a hellportal or some incredibly powerful alien monstrosity. 40k Imperials are not smart people. No-one is sure how the Fortress ever got where it is, because it's built in a seeming Imperial style but was built millennia before the Imperium was really in the region. The underlying architecture is similar to something called a Ramilles Star Fort, a massive semi-mobile defense station, but with a great deal added onto it and built around the aforementioned OMEGA VAULT.

No, I'm not going to stop making fun of the OMEGA VAULT. There's a lot of cool stuff in Jericho, but the deus-ex-machina mystery-box vault is not one of them. I mostly forgot it existed when I ran DW myself.

The exterior of the station is constantly moving, since it's made up of immense support gears that create an ever-shifting maze inside. Gravity goes crazy among the outer components and can sometimes lead to your Marines solemnly trudging through an MC Escher painting, which is kind of cool but mostly pointless. No-one knows what most of the gears and moving parts are for, only that it's frightening to wander along hallways that keep narrowing and widening. There's some silliness about how it's so scary to xenos that it might have some kind of psychic horror generator but again, eh.

The Fortress also has immense jails and labs devoted to studying the many live xenos specimens that the Marines bring home. The only question they are particularly interested in is 'what weapon will kill this thing' and 'how can we exterminate its species better', so these are hardly a cheery place, or one possessed of much actual curiosity or scientific merit. There's an awful lot of grimdark torturing sentient beings to death to discover how they 'work' stuff going on here, though, as well as releasing captive aliens into the Hunting Grounds for target practice and tournaments. I mean, important live-fire exercises. No-one would ever imply that Marines like having a place to murder things in simple pissing contests solely because it's one of the only things they've ever been conditioned to enjoy.

The Inquisition does like keeping Tau around for behavioral studies on how they work without an Ethereal around, hoping to discover how the Ethereals keep them working together and what will happen if all of them can be eliminated. This includes a group of Fire Warriors who have been messed up by some kind of alien device that has convinced them there is peace between the Tau Empire and Imperium of Man. There is an Inquisitor who is specifically messing with this group to see how quickly they'll start resorting to shooting if confronted with 'dissidents' who claim the two empires are at war among the various prisoners. There's also a whole wing devoted to keeping hold of Hive Fleet Dagon vanguard beasts, like Lictors and Genestealers. Now, a Lictor is basically an Alien from the Alien movies if it was also able to turn invisible and could eat your brains to tell the Hive Mind your plans. A Genestealer is a horrifying alien bug that has relatively independent thought and that tries to infest others, implanting an alien organ that will make their children Genestealer hybrids and force them to protect and raise these creatures. These hybrids will then co-opt subversive movements and cause instability on their home planet, while spreading more genestealer infection. Once they hit a critical mass, they put out a call to the Hive Fleet to come eat the planet (and the hybrids, who are often rather surprised) while it is defenseless. As you might imagine, storing these things is dangerous and difficult. The Imperials do so because every hive fleet manufactures and uses its vanguard organisms differently. They keep these beasts to study them and try to understand how Dagon is using them and why, and if there are any unique genetics that can be used to tailor biological weaponry against them.

The lower reaches of the fortress are made into great catacombs and quarantine chambers for hiding dangerous books and artifacts. The zones are said to contain everything from blasphemous texts with mind-eating powers to a portal to the Eldar webway (though the latter is dismissed as fantasy), which it notes would be a huge goddamn security risk because the Webway is the Eldar FTL network and if you had a portal to it in your secret base you could have space elves popping in and out to get up to no good all the time. The Great Ossuaries are hilarious and awful at the same time: Marines love taking trophies, because again, glory and memories of battle are the only positive thing allowed to them without strings attached. So the Ossuaries are full of commemorations of their various genocides, slaughters, and 'purgings', where the bones of now-dead species can be found proudly displayed with 'BROTHER X KILLED A MILLION OF THESE'. The problem is, they built a great temple to their own mass murder in a setting with psychic resonance. The Ossuaries are haunted as ALL HELL. There are constant stories among the human staff that there is something deeply wrong with the place, and any psyker who enters can feel the agony and anger of the millions, possibly billions, of murders commemorated in that unholy place. As a nice note about the difference in Marine and Human psychology, many Marines find the Ossuarie soothing and spend times meditating there and giving thanks to their past comrades for the 'work' they represent, while almost any human who goes there comes back with nightmares and vows never to enter there again.

The Hunting Grounds are another testament to the joy Marines tend to take in their work and the extend to which they rely on murder for positive emotional reinforcement. Originally used solely for live fire testing to see what weapons killed what prisoner, a Commander Prascus built these up into a great tournament ground 400 years back. By murdering prisoners of war and alien beasts together, he reasoned that Marines of multiple chapters could have a nice, relaxing, fun way to get along and learn to work together before they hit the field. He considered these great sport and a wonderful way to hand out minor honors. Since their establishment, the Hunting Grounds have been expanded over and over, to the point of adding entire mock space-ship interiors and multiple habitat zones to give Marines a challenge. The current commander, Mordigael, is very fond of these tournaments and exercises, and more and more resources are devoted to letting Marines 'hone their skills' and win honor together for team-building.

This is one of the reasons I say the average Marine is a deeply broken person, a hero mass-produced and told to go and do heroic things by a fascist death cult. I appreciate touches like the Ossuaries being haunted and how they horrify a human but make a Marine, raised in a culture of counting glory in bodycount, feel contemplative and welcomed.

Next: More of this place.

Oct 9, 2012

oriongates posted:

It was most impressive. I feel really, really dumb for not catching on once the skill list was posted. A separate swimming skill for freshwater and saltwater should have been a dead giveway...but nope somehow I felt it was something that might have been done.

Whereas I didn't even bat an eye at that, because West End's DC Universe game allows you to specialize in various aspects of a skill, and one of the suggested specializations for the swimming skill is (cold water.) So, yeah, totally plausible.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012


Yeah! This thing sucks rear end in EVERY WAY. OK so first off just it appearing makes all fires go out and become impossible to light, and makes all dogs turn rabid and hostile. So right away your PCs get blinded in nearly every situation AND probably have to fight/kill a bunch of rabid dogs. The book does explicitly say the dogs target the elderly and young so you get to have a bunch of rabid dogs eating babies and grandmas. Thanks.

The Agathist itself does nothing except come up to the party if they have a Spell-Caster of some sort (ONLY IF THEY HAVE A WIZARD) and asks if they will give it permission to invert all physical matter in reality. As in everything solid becomes vacuum, and everything vacuum becomes solid. It promises that you will be given places of power in the new universal order (no clarification forthcoming) and if they agree it vanishes and the event (which is not described) will happen at some point in the future. Thanks.

Oh, and it will randomly kill an NPC your players have interacted with and vomit their decaying corpse in front of the party as a show of respect. Because it's alien see, that's why it murders NPCs. Thanks.

So yeah, this monster purely exists so the GM can: A. Make the players torches go out at a really inconvenient time, B. Narrate a scene of dogs eating old women and babies, C. Give the players a chance to accidentally destroy the universe for no benefit or reason, and D. Kill whatever NPC the players probably actually like because the GM didn't like that NPC and wanted you to like his special snowflake GMPC not that rad old-lady barkeep your players latched onto but NOW SHES DEAD FUCKERS HAH!

It gives no benefits when killed.

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 22:32 on Apr 2, 2018

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012


It's a giant robot wasp. It eats pain.

It's very sorry about this.

It will offer to pay people to allow it to watch them torture others. It like seeking out Inquisitors, Executioners, Witch Hunters, and such for this purpose. It wants to make friends with you when it isn't torturing you though! So it'll make conversation and try and build a relationship! It still has to torture you though.

This killing blow has jack-all to do with the actual monster, which is a totally mechanical thing, so gently caress if I know. I guess it could be a plot-point? Like, it's not objectively bad, but it's kinda random and doesn't fit the monster.

This thing is lame. It's kinda boring, only works if your game is full of torture, and does nothing interesting. Says a lot about the creator when he apparently just assumes torture scenes are common enough to need a wandering monster specifically for them.

Apparition of the Scorned

loving LAZY. Look at that art. That's what it ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE. A semi-transparent purple fern-thing with no detail.

This piece of poo poo is your typical "Eldritch Abomination" but it's a loving fern. I don't care if it's 70 foot tall, ITS A HOUSEPLANT.

It's carving a giant 3D rune into the Earth. How? IDK, no mention is made of special powers to dig through earth, what minions or hirelings it would have, anything like that. So it's making tunnels somehow. When it's done it'll... do a bad thing. No mention of WHAT, just "widespread devastation will ensue". That's helpful as gently caress.

In combat it's boring. Magic weapons only, 60 foot melee range, can inflict a poison that does 1d3 damage per round until a save vs magic is made.

Oh, and it fucks fighters: After the fourth round it will make a cone attack of acid that reduces the damage and protection of all equipment by -3, make a save Vs. Breath Weapon to avoid. gently caress you fighters.

It's a giant plant with nebulous goals and tactics that fucks fighters and is otherwise a boring fight with a giant fern.

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 22:33 on Apr 2, 2018

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012


Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 22:33 on Apr 2, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Scion: Hero
My Family Is Awful

The big problem the Tuatha and their Titans, the Fomorians, have is that they're all related to each other. This big web of marriages and births is complex even for them, and it's less about existential hate than it is about fighting with the in-laws. Even during the active war, members of both sides married each other or jumped ship to support relatives. The Fomorians have been driven from their homeland twice by the Tuatha, been declared Titans, and they simultaneously hate and wield their relationship with the Tuatha as a claim to legitimacy. They call themselves the Tuatha De Domnann, the children of Domnu, as a claim to be the true gods of Ireland. Yes, they're monstrous where the Tuatha are beautiful, but some believe they've always been related, even a single group before some of them were made hideous and cast out. There is evidence that Danu and Domnu share some history, perhaps two shards of a shattered Primordial, or Incarnations of the same deity, or two parts of a triple goddess with a long-lost third face. On the other hand, Tuatha poem-magic and Fomorian sorcery are very different in form, if not always effect. The leaders of the Fomorians are full Titans, but most are lesser titanspawn.

Balor of the Evil Eye is the grandfather of Lugh and led the Fomorians in war. His single eye spreads plague and devastation when opened, which takes four people and prying back seven layers of eyelid, with each lid releasing a new horror. Balor has never forgiven his grandson for using a sling-stone to turn his eye against the Fomorian host or for killing him. Balor's Purview is Chaos and his Virtues are Rapacity and Dominance. Bres the Beautiful is the half-Fomorian son of Elatha who betrayed the Tuatha and tried to enslave them. Poets exposed his evil with satire, and when the gods demanded that he step down, he called on the Fomorians to fight them. Some suspect that Bres, former king of the gods, still creates his own Scions. His Purview is Beauty, and his Virtues are Dominance and Prowess.

Crom Cruach is a Titan but not a Fomorian. He is something older and stranger, a third party in the war that desires worship and blood - firstborn cattle and children, mostly. He will turn 12 of the herd of his cults into monstrous stone servants that enforce his will with 12 idols of power. He is a Titan of agriculture, and if not appeased he will rot crops in the ground. His true form is an immense worm with a ravenous maw. He currently slumbers, if not very deeply, after being defeated centuries ago by the Scion Patricius. His Purview is Fertility, and his Virtues are Rapacity and Dominance. Then you've got Domnu, Mother of Titans. It's unclear if she literally birthed the Fomorians or if that's more a metaphor, but she is the counterpart of the Primordial Danu, a mistress of the deep places and a stoker of the fires of war. She wants to be the queen-mother of the Fomorians-as-Irish-gods, it seems. She is a facet of the same being that Danu is part of, but most never really understand that. Her Purview is Darkness, and her Virtues are Fecundity and Submission.

Elatha the Golden-Haired, the father of Bres, the Dagda and Ogma, is worth noting. Of all the Fomorian Titans, he alone refused to honor Bres' call for aid in fighting the Tuatha, and is the only full-blood Fomorian who is beautiful rather than ugly. As Titans go, he's a decent person, a noble creature whose whims are hard to understand. He sails about in a ship of silver and dresses all in gold, seducing people whenever he pleases. His Purview is Prosperity, and his Virtues are Fecundity and Honor.

The Tuatha believe they once had several Primordials, but most perished in an ancient flood that drowned all of Ireland before all the invasions started. Only one remains - Danu, the mother of the Tuatha de Danann. Scholars believe that this being has another name, and that Danu is only one face, but no one can prove it. She primarily manifests as a deity of the Otherworld rivers and earth, a sort of mother figure that occasionally chooses Scions from among mortals or makes them from dirt and rain. Her Scions never speak to her directly, but rather receive visions in the water or messages brought by selkies and fae. Danu's Callings are Creator, Guardian and Healer, and her Purviews are Earth, Fertility, Water and Wild. Domnu is, of course, her counterpart. The two tend to act as foils to each other, and some believe Domnu is the one that drowned Ireland, long ago, as a creature of the deep water.

The modern religion of the Tuatha is Ind Iress, an Old Irish term meaning, simply, 'the faith.' It's organized mostly around small, regional groups rather than any international structure, and it treats the words 'priest' and 'poet' as synonyms. These are scholars and teachers who preserve knowledge in ogham script and oral stories. They know the preferences of the gods in sacrifice and how to appease the fairies, as well as local tutelary gods of rivers and natural features. They carve ogham runes onto wooden wands to read omens and tell the future, and determine the best time and method for seeking divine blessings or to avoid divine curses. Sacred trees and plants are used to decorate homes, and votive offerings are left in groves, wells, lakes, pits and other sacred places. The gods typically prefer objects of war, like armor or weapons, or things of beauty, like art or jewelery.

Common Creatures found in service to Tuatha Scions include Hounds raised by Lugh or Horses raised by the Morrigan or Manannan mac Lir, who both favor these steeds. Followers are often bards or filid. A bard is a more ordinary poet-historian and satirist, while a filid is more rare and can perform greater and more mystic feats of poetry. The Fianna are also common - bands of 10-30 warrior-poets that hunt titanspawn, patrol the borders of the Otherworld and the World, and hunt down and beat up troublesome fairies. The Morrigan's Crows are common guides, who deliver prophesy and warnings, and fosterage to other gods is also common, granting divine foster parents as a possible guide, too. Notable Relics of the Tuatha include Claiomh Solais, one of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha - a sword that shines like a torch and chases after foes. The Irish Muscle Car is the modern take on the war chariot, a vehicle covered in weapons and other methods of clearing the path. The Spear of Lugh is another of the Four Treasures, famously impossible to endure for long in battle. There's also Uaithne, the Dagda's Harp, which is also called the Dur da Bla, the Oak of Two Blossoms, and Coir Cethar Chuin, the Four-Angled Music. It plays at its master's command and will attack anyone that gets in the way.

The Tuatha maintain good relations with their fairy subjects, who are far, far more active in interfering with mortal lives than the gods themselves are. They find the gods' chosen humans fascinating, see, and get jealous of them, so they tend to follow Scions around to cause trouble. The gods, meanwhile, can sense the war coming against the Fomorians, who grow more bold and offensive, and actively seek ways to disrupt their plans and ceremonies. The Tuatha also spend a lot of time supporting traditional Irish culture worldwide, both to support their people and reclaim lost treasures from their old, forgotten pasts. They view the Aesir as long-lost cousins, believing that the northern kingdoms were probably once Norse Terrae Incognita. Their relation with their Welsh neighbors is more contentious due to pride - many Tuatha view the Welsh as annoyances seeking to outdo them at every chance with the whole Arthur-and-Avalon business. Some believe the two (and the now-fallen Gaulish gods) were once an enormous team of Scions from a more ancient, lost pantheon, who split the Gaelic lands between them. If so, it might be the key to reviving the Gaulish pantheon. The Tuatha tend to be belligerent and angry towards the Theoi, due to a possibly inaccurate grudge. See, the Fir Bolg were at one point enslaved while in exile in Greece, and the Tuatha have just assumed the Theoi did it.

The great weakness of the Tuatha De Danann is their great strength: the geasa. The oaths, taboos and obligations of the Irish magic gives them power, but it also binds their fates and can make no-win situations. Just look at Cu Chulainn, ensnared by two of his own oaths.

The Virtues of the Tuatha De Danann are the twin halves of Enech: Honor and Prowess. Enech, your face, how you are viewed by others - that has a lot of power. It's why satiric poetry is magic for the Tuatha. Honor is the way of the wise ruler, a strength of character, generosity and hospitality. Honor bids you to fight fair and keep your word, granting every courtesy even to your foes. Reputation is born from the prosperity of your allies and subjects, and you must care for them, even if you hate your brother or wish to be doing anything else. Loyalty is Honor, after all. Prowess, on the other hand, is the bold warrior's nature, strength in battle. A mighty hero does not back down from a challenge and never shows fear or allows an offense to go unanswered. Prowess isn't just combat, either - it also encompasses skill in art, music, poetry and scholarship. It is about courage and confidence, and it never lets you remain neutral. Prowess demands you choose a side, and that you stick to that, no matter what. Do your best or go home. The conflict between the two largely comes from when they must pick one side or the other, or a situation pits two sides against each other. For example, the warrior Diarmuid Ua Duibhne had to choose - his lord, Fionn mac Cumhaill, had a fiance, Grainne, who decided she wanted to have sex with Diarmuid over the aging Fionn. She forced Diarmuid to choose - uphold her geis and elope with her, or stay loyal to his lord. In the end, he followed her challenge and betrayed the Fianna, selecting his Prowess over his Honor, becoming a fugitive from the vengeance that Prowess demanded Fionn seek.

Geasa is the Signature Purview of the Tuatha. A geis is a ban or taboo that grants power when kept and dooms you when broken. These can be blessings, curses, sworn oaths, mandates or prohibitions. This could be anything from Cu Chulainn's inability to pass on hospitality or eat dog, or it might be nonsensical rules you have to follow to not offend the fae. Scions can lay geasa on others, but must always uphold their own.

Next time: Making it all work.

Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.
Psst, I heard that having a proper unified header makes your posts easier to parse for the inklesspen's F&F archive.

edit: addressed to the noble Lusus Naturae sufferer, your sacrifice shall not be in vain.

edit II: also, looks like the monster names dropped from the second or third one onwards.

Foglet fucked around with this message at 22:05 on Apr 2, 2018

Terrible Opinions
Oct 18, 2013

How is it that in LotFP the universe ends so loving easily? Every single minor magic monster can end the universe, which makes it seem completely unbelievable that the universe exists at this point. Oh a cold ooze monster, if you let it touch the ground it freezes all matter on earth. How did this exist in 1600s Europe and remain unfucked with the whole time? Oh it's never explained and it is just assumed that until the PCs showed up that the universe literally didn't exist. It is the most artificial and stupid setup I've encountered in an RPG.


Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

OK fixed. Most of the names are gibberish or execrable dog-Latin so you're not missing much. And I've added the proper title, so we never forget this is a game with a literal METAL FONT title.

Also, like 50% of the fuckers in this book END REALITY. It's honestly goddamn tiring.

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