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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Battle Mad Ronin posted:

Degenesis strikes me as both over-explained and very hard to comprehend at the same time. It's like the whole is lost in the many details, and at the end you can't see the wood for all the trees.
I'm curious how much is that we're getting an interpreted and thus clearer version. I also think they leaned too hard into it being FUTURE EUROPE or whatever, because it just - to my own eyes - comes off as creepy and weird with undertones of migrant panic. It would have been more effective, I think, if they had either outlined some kind of Forgotten Realms situation and then dropped the bomb on it, OR if they had inverted the map and had "BTW, this setting is actually Europe/North Africa XXX years on, here's a quick sidebar outline on what the gently caress happened!'

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By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




And here's another thing: all the details only serve to make the setting as boring as an unsophisticated PC game.
If the game was only a couple of pages explaining that the world is hosed and suggestions for campaigns it could have worked, as is I'm completely uninterested in the struggles of the murder-doctors and religious fanatics.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


The, ugh, Cult were given short descriptions long ago, both in terms of the page count and me posting.

There were as long as say the section on Souffrance and as clear as any other description in the book.

What doesn't help is that the descriptions keep referring to cult classes, which are hard to keep in one's head.

Plus, if I remember correctly, one of the "cults" is Fallout Vault Morlocks or something, which is bizzare, since they're based around their vault and not spread out like Spitaliers.

It makes sense that Spitaliers have the widesr reach, since they're doctors concerned with the fate of mankind - which includes fighting Spesis whenever it happens. Anabaptists - and Jehamedans - are also interested in spreading, like religions do.

I guess the Chroniclers (Admech) don't get much attention since they don't want to tech up the game too much.

Hopefully, this will become clearer once I get yo the crunch parts in about five years.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




This might be cleared up if I go back and read more carefully, but I'm a little bewildered regarding who the PCs are supposed to be in Degenesis.

I like high weirdness in post-apoc RPGs, but yeah it is hard to get invested in the war between two factions of completely crazy people.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




And the constant edgyness, what does primal punk even mean?
And I really didn't need the lovingly detailed information on the Pheromancers' gland biting, disgusting isn't the same as adult themed.

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Nessus posted:

I'm curious how much is that we're getting an interpreted and thus clearer version. I also think they leaned too hard into it being FUTURE EUROPE or whatever, because it just - to my own eyes - comes off as creepy and weird with undertones of migrant panic. It would have been more effective, I think, if they had either outlined some kind of Forgotten Realms situation and then dropped the bomb on it, OR if they had inverted the map and had "BTW, this setting is actually Europe/North Africa XXX years on, here's a quick sidebar outline on what the gently caress happened!'

Didn't get the migrant panic vibe at all.

I think the idea in using future Europe is to create something instantly recognizable as changed and in a state of chaos.The pre-apocalypse serves as a sharp contrast to the post-apocalypse, letting us know that the situation isn't supposed to be like this, this is not a desirable status quo. Forgotten Realms is supposed to be like it is in the source material. There's no point in abolishing feudal society, contaminating magical pollution or hunting down all the dragons. Europe is not supposed to be like it is in Degenesis. So you can more easily get the players invested in taking a hosed situation an trying to un-gently caress it by degrees.

LazyAngel
Mar 17, 2009



Spire part 2

As was pointed out, the guys behind Spire did also come out with Unbound, which for some reason I thought had been covered in F&F. Maybe I'll get to it after Spire. Maybe pigs will sprout wings... who knows?



Welcome to Spire


So Spire is quite a focused RPG, as the characters will always be Drow revolutionaries, in service the Ministry of Our Hidden Mistress, a paramilitary cult worshipping a now-forbidden goddess of protection and vengeance. It's not glorious heroism, and they're probably not going to survive - even their families would probably turn them in to the City Guard, and the Ministry itself is a fickle and far from trustworthy master.

We kick off the text proper with the usual basics; die notations (this game uses D3 through D10), and the what-is-a-roleplaying-game bits (fairly short in this case). Then into what makes Spire different from run-of-the-mill fantasy;

Magic is hard it's not rare, but there's always a cost; divine, god-sanctioned magics exert the mind and soul (or even the purse), whereas riskier occult powers are even less reliable.

Magic items are rare usually re-worked, cobbled together fragments of ancient treasures.

We're not off to the wilderness. Spire is the setting, and unless something goes spectacuarly wrong, that's where the game will take place.

There's no morality system This isn't Good vs. Evil, and the players are going to be carrying out some very morally dubious acts in the pursuit of their goals.

There aren't any monsters With some caveats, everything they'll be going up against is, or was, a person.


The Rules

The basic mechanics of Spire will be familiar if you've read or played any of the *world games or hacks, as those are the main inspiration for a lot of the core design. When a character wants to do something, and there's something at stake, they roll a d10 against the following chart;



This looks a bit harsh, but if they've got a Skill they add a d10 to the roll and take the highest result. If they have a Domain relevant to the roll, they add another d10. Finally, if they have at least one Knack relevant to the situation, they add a further d10. Some situations or enemies will also have a Difficulty, usually from 0 to 2 - this is subtracted from the number of dice you roll, and if that number goes less than one, the extra points of difficulty shift the result of your roll down one level.

Stress is the consequence for failure (or partial success); either d3, d6 or d8 worth, depending on how critical or dangerous the situation is, and is applied to one of 5 tracks, or Resistances;

Blood stress is damage and fatigue
Mind stress covers insanity and mental instability
Silver stress hits characters' money and resources
Shadow stress increases the chance of their actions being revealed to their enemies or the authorities
Reputation stress is damage to your social standing

Every time stress is taken, the GM rolls a d10 against a character's total stress - if this is less than this amount, they take Fallout based on how much stress they've acumulated; this comes in Minor, Moderate and Severe flavours, and depends on the source of the latest stress hit (a variant rule is given if you want a less lethal game - treat each resistance seperately instead of using the total). There's a silver lining - taking Fallout does reduce your stress; more for more severe fallout.

Taking fallout when you've only got a bit of stress causes Minor fallout - things like Bleeding (Blood), being Shaken (Mind), Compromised (Shadow) or having to Pawn a piece of equipment (Silver). If you've got a bit more stress on you, then you'll be taking Moderate fallout - you could suffer from Memory Holes (Mind), have a Vendetta declared against you (Reputation) or get Arrested (Shadow). Finally Severe fallout usually results in permanent changes to a character, or spins off its own story arc; escaping death by being Chosen by a god (Blood), being Turned by the authorities (Silver or Shadow), or being Burned as a sacrifice by the Ministry (Shadow).

Fortunately, all the character classes provide additional resistance slots that aren't counted when rolling for fallout (and some equipment does the same - armour, for example, gives extra Blood slots) - this is the nearest thing this game has to conventional stats. In addition, a character can dump all their accumulated stress by laying low, keeping quiet, and letting the plot move ahead outside of their control. They can also remove stress narratively, by performing relevant actions (like buying the services of a back-alley surgeon to heal Blood stress), or by carrying out a Refresh action specific to their class (which has the added benefit of being able to remove stress from any resistence).

One point to note is that for all of this, only the players roll for actions, or to resist the actions of NPCs and the GM is only rolling for stress and fallour - indeed, the game suggests the GM keeps players stress totals hidden, although I'm not sure how practical this would be in play.


I think that's long enough for now. Next time I'll talk character creation.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Battle Mad Ronin posted:

Didn't get the migrant panic vibe at all.

I think the idea in using future Europe is to create something instantly recognizable as changed and in a state of chaos.The pre-apocalypse serves as a sharp contrast to the post-apocalypse, letting us know that the situation isn't supposed to be like this, this is not a desirable status quo. Forgotten Realms is supposed to be like it is in the source material. There's no point in abolishing feudal society, contaminating magical pollution or hunting down all the dragons. Europe is not supposed to be like it is in Degenesis. So you can more easily get the players invested in taking a hosed situation an trying to un-gently caress it by degrees.
I don't know, perhaps everything is so hosed up that only by being more hosed up can we unfuck the hosed-up hosed-uppedness by having everyone roll around in bug mud and squeeze bug zits.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Halloween Jack posted:

This might be cleared up if I go back and read more carefully, but I'm a little bewildered regarding who the PCs are supposed to be in Degenesis.

I got you, fam.

That post covers both cultures and cults. Reading it reminded me that Neolybians and Scourgers are two different things, for example.

And, yeah, I don't get the migrant panic. The Africans are doing a bit of reverse colonism and they're clearly the faction with superior tech and organization here.

Meanwhile, you have such non-cultures as Scavengers, vaulters and Free Clans in the grouping of Cults - why? It's not like you have Scavenger-central that rules all the Scavenger kin and enacts scavenger laws.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



JcDent posted:

And, yeah, I don't get the migrant panic. The Africans are doing a bit of reverse colonism and they're clearly the faction with superior tech and organization here.

Even so, I doubt you can play as someone from Kilmonger's Wakanda in Degenesis.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Young Freud posted:

Even so, I doubt you can play as someone from Kilmonger's Wakanda in Degenesis.

I did what I didn't want to do, and checked KATHARSYS, the "actual game poo poo" book, and you can totes play as Scourgers, and their illustration is really cool.

quote:

Some combos of Culture and Cult are uncommon, but not impossible; not all Cults are present in every Culture. In the list, you will fnd the Cults commonly encountered in the respective Cultures. A Character does not have to adhere to this, but an African Jehammedan needs a drat good explanation.

By the way, game mechanics preceed character creation in the book, so they devs knew how to format the books where it counts.

Also, a game set in Europe that's both recognizable and strange is fun for us Euros, ya know.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cultures: Franka, pt. 4



Degenesis: Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 2: Cultures




This was in on the page describing Ziggurats and Swarm Attack. Jehamed Prime has a very French name for a not!Muslim

The Passage North

Parasite is the breeding ground for swarms, that much we (and the NPCs) know. They usually build up during the summer and go out in autumn. But the city stayed silent for several seasons, which made Spitalians suspicious. They sent people into Parasite and demanded intel from free Clans.

All for nothing, because “six months ago” (...before the start of canonical game time?), Paris barfed out a huge swarm of bugs. It was heading towards the Passage North to Briton (not Britain). The usual preparations were taken: buoys were placed, valleys were flooded, picknic baskets were left unattened, etc.

The bugs simply rushed over them.

'The Passage North posted:

Something was different this time. Pale bodies swam along in the stream of chitin, dove and came up again somewhere else.

I guess the Sepsis/Pheromancers/alien shrooms developed Sinapse Creatures to control the swarm en route and not just at the Ziggurat relays.

Borderpost North was overrun, devoured, and with it, the Passage North was lost.

Borderpost South

You can't get into France over the Ardennes. Take one step and the fear pheromones will send all the loyal serfs/drones into 28 Days Later-mode. The Passage South is all that remains.

Somewhere Northwest of Basel, a Helvetic bastion, the Spitalians built an outpost. Considering Franka's problems with body odor pheromones and bugs, the outpost is made up of windowless bunkers connected by foil tunnels “taller than a man.” There's a huge-rear end tarp covered plaza that supposedly fits thousands of merchants - the Helvetic Sappers built it. In the even of emergency, the outpost can be sealed for days.

By the way, do you remember that staff with a tank that contained a molusk like creature from the Spitalian trailer?

Borderpost South posted:

Every day, hundreds of people come through here, padding through the disinfection showers, then through a lane of spears rammed into the ground, the so-called Splayers. At the end of their shafts, there are glass cartridges full of nutrient liquid that each contain a tract of flesh called Mollusk by the Spitalians. The passersby watch them nervously. Their life depends on them. When the Mollusks twitch, the life expectancy of the people in the disinfection pool can only be measured in seconds.

Only Pscyhonauts/spore mutants/abberants and those spore junkies excite the Mollusk, so the Spitalians react with spear and flame, which is quite reasonable when you consider the stakes.

The Bordepost also serves as a place that collates intel on termite mounds, gathers expeditions and gives caravans a place to rest.

The Passage South

The Passage South goes from Borderpost South to Dijon before turning to Lyon. There are house-height TV screens lining the road, which show an eye followinh the travellers. If you get close, the masked face of the Oracle appears.

The Passage South posted:

It names the locations of ancient artifacts that can be exchanged for drafts at the nearest Chronicler Cluster.

It's just a quest hook dispenser!

The trade line then goes south, crosses the Mediterranean and reaches Montpellier. Neolybians trade there, selling stuff like stuffed elephants and gazzelles, as well as Machine Men (what?) straight out of their Surge Tanks. I wonder why the people of Europe, pressed as they are for resources, would want such exotic vanity goods when they probably need better guns and medicine, but what do I know.

The walls of the city are guarded by Spitaliers who monitor the termite mountds/vents that can be seen in the distance. “Yes, they are coming closer,” says the book in one of the more annoying displays of conversational tone.

The route then goes towards Toulouse, the heart of free Franka. There, they clean up books that have spent probably hundreds of years in Parasite to readable condition, to remind people that there's a past other than just permanent pest control duty.

The people there are not blind to the PUAmancer threat. Spitalian activity is visible and the citizens themselves toil to make fire ditches and douse the ground with oil. I don't know if just spraying oil on the ground is enough to make a firepatch that will stay flamable for more than a day or two, but I'm not a siege engineer.

Aquitaine

It's called “the next station on the Passage South,” which just raises more question over what exactly is a Passage and what area does it cover.

Actually, I made a map!



The green line is the "passage South," which... doesn't look like a passage? Also, I marked the location of the destroyed Borderpost North with a blue X.

Anyways, it's a breadbasket country and also commentary on Church feodalism or whatever.

Aquitaine posted:

On the fields, Anabaptist Ascetics toil. They weed out roots, carry away rocks and dig ditches. Those who collapse from exhaustion are dragged to the cathedral in Saint-André in handcarts by singing children. In the sacral building’s coolness and anointed with the Elysians’ invigorating oils, they quickly recover. A sip of crystal clear water from the font, and it’s back to work.

I think Elysians are an Anabaptist support class? This game could really use to explain more of such basic stuff upfront. Since I have read the chargen rules a bit, many of these proper nouns are level descriptions in certain Cult (which is functionally identical to your class), which are linnear as far as first ~3 levels go, although you can branch out later in the game.

There's a paragraph stating that basically all of the European Cults are present here, albeit the peace is uneasy.

East of Bordeaux is a Chronicler Cluster build from parts of planes and ships, with the architectural blueprint likely based on “picture of iron filings in two overlapping magnetic fields.” Scrappers ply their trade on the coast, looting whatever they find – including some intriguing floatsam:

Aquitaine posted:


Day by day, the surf washes ashore ships and containers. Some have burst, the metal at the breaks pitted and blackened. Many hulls still carry fist-sized holes, their superstructures gutted. On some, symbols are still visible. Circles linked by lines, forming odd shapes. No one in Europe has ever seen this sign language or can translate it. Is there a culture beyond the Atlantic Ocean?

Something might yet live in the Americas – we'll find out if the game ever gets world book expansions!



Incidentally, the latest book in the series seems to be called "The Black Atlantic"

Next time: we end our stay in Franka with a look at Briton and Britain

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk








Chapter 6: The Illuminati - The Rest of the Best






Hello! It's been about four months since I last updated this review; turns out starting a new job has a way of eating up your free-time until you finally get back into a groove. At this point I've finally got a handle on the workload, so I should be able to return to updating this regularly-ish.

When we last left off we had finished covering the mysterious meddlesome Greys and their three pronged cultural apparatus. The remaining groups in Chapter 6 get maybe a half-page or less of text, so I'm going to try and wrap them all up here so that my next update can move into Chapter 7.


The Sandmen - Finally, we get the low-down on these guys! They've been mentioned multiple times, but all we really know is that they're in bed with the Bilderbergers and that they've infiltrated multiple levels of the US federal government. The NWO is nominally aware of their infiltration of the government, and it's likely they've completely replaced the entire population of at least one rural US town. But who are they, and what do they want?

As it turns out, Sandmen are the cybernetic slaves/client race of an entirely different alien species, the Etoile. The Etoile are a race of cybernetic Koosh Balls that have a mastered the integration of technology with biological organisms, performed largely via functional nanotechnology.


Presented for your consideration, an Etoile.

Their ultimate goal is world domination, and the existence of Sandmen is their plan put into motion. Basically, the Etoile slip through open doorways into Earth and unleash nanite clouds, either in lightly populated rural areas where they can basically transform and enslave the entire population over the course of a week, or in densely populated urban centers where multiple people could go missing without being noticed. Both methods further their goal of converting homo sapiens into a completely subservient client race which will ultimately hand the entirety of planet Earth over to the Etoile with an obedient smile. It's implied that there could be other species that the Etoile have previously enslaved with their nanites that wouldn't necessarily be "Sandmen" because they aren't human, but AFAIK this plot hook doesn't get further development (although there might be a template for creating a Sand<being> out of other species in Chapter 8). So why are converted humans called Sandmen? The nanites that convert a given human into an Etoile cyber-puppet have standing self-destruct subroutines that engage whenever an individual unit runs the risk of being captured or destroyed; essentially the nanites spontaneously disintegrate themselves and all of the moisture within the human portion of their bodies, evaporating the cellular bonds within the host so rapidly that they quickly decompose into nothing more than a pile of inert carbon. Thus far, no human organization has managed to capture or imprison a Sandman while subverting the self-destruct mechanism, so nobody's been able to reverse engineer their incredible cybernetics.

Right now the Etoile have only made tenuous progress towards their goal of world domination because very few of Etoile have managed to find an open doorway into Earth, and also because they're actively eradicated by the Greys whenever the Greys uncover them. The Greys aren't opposed to the Etoile for a noble reason; it's just that the Greys have already spent millennia slowly grooming Humanity to become their client species, and having the Etoile pop up and try to undo all of their hard work really pisses them off. To that end, the Etoile have begun experimenting with other ways of bringing human slaves into their fold, most notably by partnering with a few other Illuminati groups and offering them their incredible cybertechnology in return for information and favors and etc. Any Illuminati agent that's got access to Etoile tech would currently be one of the most dangerous humans alive.


The Kinori - We've already covered much of the Kinori lore indirectly, because they were one of the first Stranger species to have visited Earth following the end of the most recent ice age. As such, their history is irrevocably intermingled with the history of humanity. We already know that they lived in harmony with the early Atlanteans and Egyptians and that they've had long-standing partnerships with both the Free Masons and the Rosicrucians. Despite the numerous times Humanity has spurned them or blamed them for causing some kind of harm they've mostly kept to themselves and only ever acted towards us with beneficial intentions. They Greys have always had a seething distrust of the Kinori because they view the Kinori as another potential threat to their plan to groom Humanity into a pliable client species. They probably wouldn't mind as much if the Kinori were also willing to become subservient, but the few times the Greys made that proposal, the Kinori just laughed and went back to being wizards - consequently the Greys hate sorcery and this is another reason for them to fear & distrust the Kinori.

With that being said, there's not much new information in this chapter. It does posit one possible alternative origin story for the Kinori; rather than being one of the first refugee Stranger species to visit Earth during humanity's pre-history, they might actually be a rebellious client species of the Greys! Grown from tissue banks on the Grey mothership, in this story they were originally deployed to help scout out and terraform the Earth and somehow along the way they fell rear end-backwards into sorcery along with the ancient Egyptians. Having access to a source of power that could rival the Grey's psionics, they were able to leverage their power into an uneasy termination of their client status, which would make this the ultimate reason that they Greys continue to resent and distrust them.


Aum Shinri Kyo - The fact that this group even gets passing mention as an Illuminati conspiracy is hardcore proof that this book was written pre-9/11. Matter of fact, I don't think there's any mention of any terrorist groups from the Middle East, even despite the fact that they had attempted other acts of terror within the US prior to 9/11. That's almost the basis for a wild "what if" kind of story - what the hell would a post 2001 Earth look like if 9/11 hadn't happened? Now I'm bummed that I haven't heard of any fictional setting that explores that concept.

Anyway, Aum Shinri Kyo is a terrorist group based in Japan that supposedly has ties to the Spetznaz and the KGB because Boris Yeltsin is one of their shadow patrons (90's AS HELL), ties to the Korean Unification Church because the CIA is one of their shadow patrons, and ties to the Yakuza because they're also Japanese so of course they do. Aum Shinri Kyo is a bit player in the Illuminati world stage but they're trying really hard to break into the big leagues. The included adventure seed is that Aum Shinri Kyo agents have been observed around the Nikolai Tesla Historical Museum and have been obsessively collecting any information they can about his old research because they want to use it to make an earthquake bomb. The Tesla plot hook is whatever (because of course it has to be Tesla) but looking back on this book from 2018, I'm still blown away that Aum Shinri Kyo is even mentioned at all, let alone proposed as an actual threat to global stability.


The Centurians - If Cambridge Analytica and Facebook and Google were all literally the same company and they used their multitude of culled user data to subtly engineer social change to benefit their shareholders - oh wait, that's already how those companies work.

Okay, if the senior leadership teams of Facebook and Twitter and other social media companies harbored obvious nationalist sentiments, with the end goal being to leverage their mountains of user data to create of a monolithic one-world government which they ruled - oh wait, that's our current reality.

drat, Monte and Wolfgang got surprisingly prescient with this group. Basically the Centurians are the newest Illuminati conspiracy on the block, but they're also extremely tech savvy and believe that the terabytes of user data they can access are going to be their path to world domination (and given current events, they're on the right track). The Centurians, as a group, are made up of the owners and CEOs and billionaires that run these tech companies, and their cabal is based around a weird fixation they have with the Holy Roman Empire. Basically, they're insanely wealthy megalomaniacs that love to cosplay as Cesar's Legion from Fallout: New Vegas and they're the first people in the setting to understand the power of aggregated user data. Props to Monte and Wolfgang for envisioning the most plausible threat to global stability decades ahead of time.

The adventure seed is that their Cesar's Legion cosplay isn't just cosmetic and the organization is actually arranged in a hierarchy with titles like Lictor and Prelate and so obviously there must be a Cesar figure at the top. The players are hired to infiltrate the group and attempt to figure out who / what Cesar is. Cesar could be a person, but it could also be the nascent AI the Centurians are feeding all of their terabytes of data into, with the belief that this AI will transcend human decision making and become an omnipotent, flawless ruler (that they control).


The East Coast Boys - What if the Piratebay.org but based in Massachusetts? That's basically the entire characterization of this group. The adventure seed is that an anonymous source shared a torrent of stolen data on their servers that actually included blueprints for some obscure Grey technology and the players are asked to figure out who actually uploaded it, where the data was originally stolen from, and to track down everyone that managed to download the blueprints before the torrent was killed.


Knights of Unity - What if the Proud Boys lived on Cliven Bundy's ranch? Again, Wolfgang and Monte predict an actual threat to national stability decades in advance. The Knights of Unity are ex-KKK, ex-Aryan Brotherhood, ex-other-racist-gangs that all decided to purchase a ranch in Montana and stockpile guns and food for the coming RaHoWa that they're conveniently trying to instigate. They've got an online presence that uses contemporary Baptist and Evangelical teachings to try and disguise their nationalist messages and the only thing they hate more than minorities is the liberal government. The adventure seed is that the sermons from their online church heavily imply that they have intimate knowledge of some other Illuminati group, and the players get hired by the other group to infiltrate the Knights of Unity and figure out whether they actually have the real dirt on the other conspiracy or whether it's a "broken clock is right twice a day" situation.


The Mafia - It's the Mafia; there's not much to say here that deviates from actual history. The adventure seed is that a Mafia boss goes missing right before he was able to finish negotiating a truce between two warring families and the players get hired to figure out what happened to him before the negotiations completely break down. Obviously each family thinks the other one is responsible, but the trail of clues leads the players to discover that some Stranger group abducted the Mafia boss. The DM gets to decide which group took him and why!


MUFON - The Mutual UFO Network is a public group that exists to study and classify UFO phenomena. That's it. The adventure hook is that someone from MUFON accidentally manages to figure out some real, damaging information about the Greys and is poised to go public with it. The players are hired to figure out what this person knows, and then either silence them, protect them, steal the info for themselves, or some combination of all three.


ODESSA - We already know that in Dark*Matter Hitler survives WW2 and ends up relocating the Nazi party to a Martian base. Odessa is the Earth-based remainder of the Nazi party that attempts to keep tabs on the situation here so that Space Nazis can eventually return one day and conquer the Earth. They're actual Nazis that still exist in secret enclaves so the players can persecute them with extreme prejudice. The adventure seed is that Odessa starts buying up all of the land around abandoned long range radio towers and the players are hired to figure out what specific nefarious plan the Nazis are going to attempt. There's not much going on here (as presented) and I still feel like it was a missed opportunity to further explore space Hitler leading a Martian Nazi party (which is already a gonzo concept). If you're already going to acknowledge that Hitler survives WW2 in your setting, you basically have to go whole-hog with it or else it becomes an unnecessary, atonal detail.


The Priority of Zion - The Biblical Jesus of Nazareth had an Earthly wife and produced children with her before he was crucified and these dudes are the ones that have been tasked with ensuring that the bloodline of Christ remains pure. The adventure hook is that they plan to use the most recent scion of this bloodline to kick-start the Rapture and if you really want to see how that ends, just read the first few TPBs of the Preacher comic. Short version: centuries of inbreeding produces a "messiah" that can't even be taught not to constantly poo poo himself. Anyway, since the theology presented in the Bible is objectively true in the Dark*Matter universe, the scion of Zion will likely be a powerful psion or something equally ludicrous. This whole subplot bores me to tears so it's hard for me to muster any real interest here.


The Skull & Bones Society - Again there's not much to say here that deviates from actual history. The adventure seed is that the Society is actually a necromancer cabal with ties back to the Kinori wizards of ancient Egypt and rumors abound that each US President is raised as a lich in service of this group upon their death. The players are hired to infiltrate the Society and determine whether there's any truth to this rumor, and if there is, to escape with as much evidence as they can grab.


UMMO - UMMO claims to be a Stranger from another planet named Iumma that has heavy concentrations of Dark Matter. They send missives to random scientists all across Earth marked with their symbol )+( and each contains extremely advanced formulas and theorems and data pertaining to whatever field the scientist in question specializes. Supposedly, several recent scientific breakthroughs were the direct result of a researcher mysteriously being given the answer to a question they couldn't solve on their own, and in each case UMMO provided the answer.

The adventure hook is that nobody really knows what UMMO is. A group of people with knowledge of UMMO begin to usurp its symbol and attempt to spread disinformation that misleads certain types of scientific research. The players are hired by a group of scientists who have all benefited from UMMO, and are asked to determine where these fake UMMO missives are coming from. It's possible the whole UMMO schtick is just an elaborate hoax identity that many different people have used over time, or maybe UMMO actually is a Stranger entity but it's got some hidden agenda behind what kind of science it's trying to teach to Humanity; the notes that end up sabotaging different experiments are still coming from the same entity (just with the intention of stopping some specific kind of research).


The Vril Society - A bunch of people that believe ancient Atlantis didn't cease to exist after it sank beneath the waves; instead, the inhabitants of Atlantis used their super-science knowledge to bore into the Earth's mantle and transformed themselves into a race of mole people (named Agharti) living inside pockets of hollow earth. The Vril Society is thus dedicated to using seismographic tools to try and find these hidden pockets of Agharti, with the belief that they will be friendly and willing to share their fantastic technology with the surface world again. The adventure seed is that an off-shore drilling operation in the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the Mediterranean Basin, reveals a massive fissure within the seabed that contains structures too complex to be naturally occurring. The players are hired to explore the fissure by the Vril Society (Journey to the Center of the Earth-style) and hopefully recover lost Agharti technology, and maybe even make contact with a living Agharti person.


Whew! That's chapter 6 finished. Overall, I'm not a huge fan of how the various Illuminati groups were handled - things like clearly defining their base of operations and manpower and resources feels too game-y to me, like reading an entry from the AD&D Monstrous Manual and seeing NO. APPEARING and HABITAT and LOOT TYPE but for mystery organizations. I get that Alternity itself is the direct descendant of TSR game design, but I ended up being more interested in the smaller Illuminati groups that get only a paragraph or two of exposition, as opposed to the bigger groups that get all started out. I also feel like the default setting for Dark*Matter (players work for the Hoffman Institute) is a little too sandbox-y for the included adventure hooks to really congeal into any kind of clear plot or story arc.


NEXT TIME: Chapter 7: Mystery Sites Around the World!

LazyAngel
Mar 17, 2009



Spire part 3

We've gone through stress and resistances, now for the other parts of a character in Spire.



Skills and Domains

As mentioned in the rules explanation, characters have access to Skills and Domains which let them roll extra dice on tests. Both are simple; Skills relate to what you're doing, Domains to where you're doing it, or who you're doing it to, and they're binary; you have them or you don't - there's no levels of skill.

The Skills in spire are pretty self-explanatory; Compel (all forms of persuasion and intimidation), Deceive, Fight, Fix (machines, people, anything), Investigate, Pursue, Resist, Sneak and Steal. Domains cover the various parts of Spire's society; Academia, Crime, Commerce, High Society, Low Society, Occult, Order, Religion and Technology. Rolls get an extra d10 from having the relevant skill and/or domain - so if you're fighting a street gang down at the North Docks, the roll will be Fight + Crime or Fight + Commerce, depending on which domain you have.

Each additional time a character gets the same skill, they get a Knack, a specialisation in that skill that gives them mastery when the situation matches their specialisation (adding another d10 to the roll). Only one mastery can ever apply to a roll, so you're never going to be rolling more than 4d10, unless a class ability says otherwise.

Equipment

Spending money and resources in Spire is simply a case of taking Silver or Reputation stress, and equipment is handled in a very abstract way; when you acquire an item that matters to you, you define a positive aspect and a negative aspect for it. If you take advantage of the positive aspect, you get Mastery on a roll. If you have to rely on the negative aspect, the roll is made at +1 difficulty. Examples include;
  • A beat-up old cart, with hidden containers for smuggling
  • A strong parasol in gaudy unfasionable colours
  • A bottle of moonshine that tastes beyond foul, but will polish metal to a mirror shine

Weapons and Armour

Weapons and armour are a bit more complicated; they're defined by how much stress they inflict or soak, and a set of *World-style tags. So a poisoned knife might be (D3, Ongoing D6, Concealable) - it does d3 stress when you succeed in a Fight action, then the target has to make a Resist check at the end of the scene or take another D6 stress (usually Blood). On the other hand, a human retro-engineerd galvanic arquebus (think steampunk lightning gun) would be (D8, Extreme Range, Dangerous, Unreliable) - it hits like a truck, can be used from a considerable distance away, breaks if you fail a roll with it for the scene, and finally explodes if your highest d10 is a 1 or 2.

Armour adds extra Blood resistance slots, and can help or hinder the character in other ways - a suit of Guard riot gear protects you very well, but it's Heavy, negating the use of Pursue or Sneak to give extra dice, whereas Iron spider-weave armour gives less resistance, but lets you camouflage yourself in amongst the pipes and foundries of The Works, in the bowels of Spire.

Bonds

Finally, all characters have Bonds - connections with other people, groups or organisations. They give two benefits; once per scene, if you act in a way that benefits one of your bonds, you can act with Mastery, and you can take stress to bonds to get them to do things for you, although you might have to ask nicely (or bribe, intimidate, etc). This acts the same as any other roll, getting an extra dice if it's something the target of the bond is good at, plus another if it's in on their home turf.

Like characters, Bonds can also take stress and fallout, which can result in damage to, or the severing of the character's relationships.

Bonds are defined by their scale - Individual, Street (a small to medium organisation) or City (a large organisation), and a given bond gets bonuses working on a scale smaller than itself - having the City Guard on your side against a street gang makes things a bit easier all round.

Next... character creation and classes - possibly some of the most interesting bits of the game

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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





The Northlands are a distant, cold realm on the edges of known civilization. It is a beautiful place, with scenic fjords, skies alight with the aurora borealis, and glittering morning frost. But beneath this scenery is a harsh land of independent holdings, where a king is a man with a long hall and an ample fleet, where justice and vengeance go hand in hand, where monstrous kingdoms of wolfin worshipers of Fenris and giants of Jotunheim can eclipse human holdings if their wyrd wills it.

Although it is more high-magic and made by different publishers and writers, a lot of Midgard's Northlands are reminiscent of Frog God's Northlands Saga. The social structures divide into thralls, karls (freemen), and jarls who the former freemen choose to serve as part of a greater community via informal oaths. The political landscape is fluid on account that divine right or royal bloodlines do not prop up a jarl's right to rule; instead merit is based on their own community trust and holdings. Although home to a variety of races, there's enough cultural similarities to the point that a human, trollkin, or goblin hall share common etiquette customs. In addition to jarls, democratic assemblies known as Žings help settle disputes, forge alliances, and conduct trade. Both at the Žing and in other circumstances, justice can be dispensed via a holmganga duel or payment of a wergild in valuables or blood. Sometimes a duel is not enough, and blood feuds can spiral out of hand as communities call upon sworn oaths and obligations to pull ever more people into the fracas.

Northlanders hold a special reverence for fate, the collected destinies of all peoples whose lifepaths are weaved into the threads of the Norns' loom. They do not believe in chance, but they do give credence to luck which indicates a favorable skein of fate playing out for an individual. Charming men are called "woman-lucky" while skilled sailors are believed to possess "sea-luck." This determinism gives most Northlanders a strangely optimistic attitude: there is no use in complaining, and good folk should struggle on as best they can and hope that the rest of their thread is more fortunate. Nothing lasts forever and all things must come to an end, even the gods when Ragnarok shall fall upon the world.

METAPLOT: Speaking of the end of the world, one of the more pernicious dangers of the Northlands is the rise of the Cult of Ragnarok. Although the timing is wrong and the stars are not right, many details spoken of in skaldic history are coming to pass, and people grimly prepare for Fimbulwinter. This is of course Loki's fault, who entered into an alliance with Boreas and Chernobog to create an evil cult to spread chaos of a "false Ragnarok." The cult operates via a widespread network across the region and counts many members of the major races along with monstrous allies.

Kingdoms of the North


Björnrike is home to the largest gathering of bearfolk on Midgard. These anthropomorphic people reign over coastal plains and rolling halls, and the region's home to many bears of supernatural power prized as animal companions by druids and rangers. They live much like the Northlanders of other races, save that their feasting halls are much richer in honey and fish. The city of Bjeornheim sits by a coastal delta and river, using a network of ferocious beehives as a unique defense against monsters and raiders. As the city's inhabitants smell of honey, residents are immune to the bee's wrath. The mead brewed by Queen Yohana Honeyhair is known as the finest ale in the North, and many merchants brave trips here for the legendary taste.

METAPLOT: The Cult of Ragnarok's created a balm which can ward off bees and is deploying it in trade against the kingdom's enemies.

I love this country; now that bearfolk are a playable race in Midgard, Dovahbear is now a legitimate character concept.

The Bleak Expanse is the largest territory of the Northlands, stretching to the farthest reaches north to unexplored lands. It is a tundra where the god Boreas reigns supreme, who rules from a mountain known as the Tower of the North Wind. At its foothills lies the city of Geskleithron, where one can buy bottled magical storms and frozen souls and memories. Massive sheets of ice known as living glaciers animated by the wind god slowly make their way across the land and to the sea.

The rest of the expanse is populated mostly by hardy humans known as skraelings and some frost giants from Jotunheim. Numerous legends speak of lost palaces and tombs swallowed by the ice, and there's a small army of fire giants who live in a magically-heated region surrounding a geyser known as the Boiling Tower. The fire giant leader Aunvindri Against-the-Wind nurses an unknown grudge against Boreas and makes for an unconventional ally for travelers. Many an adventure found themselves indebted to the fiery warriors after being rescued from the Northern Wind's icy minions.

Huldramose is an unconventional land situated between the marshlands of two rivers. A pair of elfmarked queens claiming descent from the empire of Thorn rule here, and the majority of its population are trollkin along with a small number of humans and fey races. The realm is so named for the Huldra, women trollkin warriors who comprised the first valkyries among Wotan's ranks. It is traditional for women to train in the fighting arts here, giving rise to many shield-maidens. There are still those who doubt the effectiveness of female warriors, but Huldramose's veterans soon change their mind if they live to tell the tale.

METAPLOT: The queens of Huldramose found a sapling of a World Tree and are hiding it in a section of their royal household. Although they intend to keep it secret, its swift growth means that its discovery by the wider public is inevitable.

Jomsborg is an island home to a four thousand strong society of berserker mercenaries. A fair portion are out on raids or contracts from various rulers, but the rest remain here to train for their next deployment. They abide by a strict code of conduct to defend each other in battle, to never flee, and to not speak ill of their fellows (irresolvable differences are resolved by holmgang). They have a humans-only policy, and prospective warriors can join by undergoing several trials of strength and martial valor.

METAPLOT: A trollkin by the name of Solveig Rockhurler wishes to join the order and has challenged one of their members as part of the trials to enter. He is not the only trollkin seeking to join their ranks, and there is great debate over whether their requests should be entertained.

Jotunheim is the most formidable kingdom of giants in the Northlands, if not in Midgard. Its inhabitants believe their homeland to be the site of their slain progenitor Aurgelmir and despair at how far they've fallen in might. Its population lives much like the rest of the Northlands, save that everything is bigger and the fire and frost giants are capable of living in more inhospitable climes. Beyond the fire and frost giants are the thursir, a breed of artisans barely stronger than ogres and low in status. Then there are the Jotun, who comprise the largest clan in population. The Jotun are the ones closest to their progenitor's size and strength, towering over buildings and each born with incredible magical powers. The frost giants cluster in the northeastern hills, while the fire giants live in a volcano range known as the Blodejord ("Crib of Earth's Tongue")

In games mechanics terms, Jotun are CR 20 Colossal Giants (Midgard Bestiary for Pathfinder) or CR 22 Gargantuan giants with Legendary Actions (Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition). They are meant to be campaign-ending threats, and they comprise 13,000 of Jotunheim's 36,000 population. This is far and beyond the typical power curve even by Midgard's standards; there's quite a few high-level NPCs, but they tend to be rulers of nations or community rulers; as for the Mharoti Empire, its dragon rulers number only 500 and likely comprise all manner of age categories. Even Mharot himself is a CR 20 fire dragon. Given the fact that the giants are no allies of humanity or the major races, it doesn't seem like a practical realm for most parties to venture to barring campaign's end. And even then they would not be able to stand up to a community of Jotun barring some good optimization strategies.

METAPLOT: The Cult of Ragnarok established its base in this foreboding region by allying with Utgard-Loki, a Jotun of considerable power and fame. He gives the cult members a safe haven, but beyond his reach not all giants are allies of the Cult. Some do not wish for Ragnarok to come, while others distrust non-giants in their domain who aren't thralls.

Beyond the communities of giants sits the ruins of Ansaroth, unknown to any written history book. Its halls inevitably lead to a single spiral stairway. Trolls, trollkin, bugbears, and frost goblins in service to Boreas are stationed here to stand watch for unknown reasons. The cursed ruins' many strange sights, odd sounds, and mysteriously-missing bands of patrols are slowly turning them paranoid against each other. They now fight among themselves with little provocation.

The small island of Skaldholm is famed for its bardic schools, hot springs with healing properties, and relative peaceful ways of its inhabitants. Rulership is determined by contests of singing, telling of tales, and competitive exchanges of insults every nine years. The crowned Master of Thyles sits at the network of spies and informants, and his power to destroy reputations with a choice catchy song or rumor makes it so few dare to vex this king.

METAPLOT: The knowledgeable skalds were one of the first to learn of the rumors of a coming Ragnarok, and the Master of Thyles was about to discover the truth of the matter before Loki stole this piece of memory. He did it by tricking him into exchanging a secret for this piece of knowledge. This "Riddle of the Forgotten Thing" is now something the people of Skaldholm are trying to solve to no avail, and the Master sent out his best explorers across the lands to find the truth.



Stannasgard is the most open of the dwarven reaver kingdoms. Its mines form the backbone of its economy and the temples sport large priesthoods of Wotan, Thor, and Volund. Blacksmiths and artisans from the southern realms make pilgrimages here to have their tools and anvils blessed.

METAPLOT: Stannasgard was once a major shipbuilding center, but a mighty red dragon named Visandred the Horse-Eater destroyed most of the docks. This will take years to rebuild and since many of the ships were bought ahead of time by foreign sovereigns, economic havoc is inevitable. Additionally, recent arrivals of trollkin raiders from Jotunheim encourage the town to spend what little it has in its coffers to forge weapons for an eventual battle.

Tanserhall is the oldest dwarven city, home to the legendary Cradle Cave where the gods Volund and Thor breathed life into the first dwarves. The people of this realm are more pious than other reaver dwarves, and enact an elaborate sets of rituals to ensure both gods are placated equally to avoid the wrath that supposedly brought low their old kingdoms. Entry into Tanserhall is nearly impossible even for other dwarves, as a complicated layer of bureaucracy, purification rituals, and trap-filled mazes acting as bait for "impatient waiters" keep all but the worthiest out.

METAPLOT: Chernobog's monstrous spawn are arising in the Cradle Cave's deepest reaches. Their disease-filled maws can turn warriors into more of their kind with a bite, preventing the dwarves from enacting a swift end to their spread.

Thunder Mountain is a strange island of relative peace in the Northlands. Ruled by a dwarven cleric of Thor and former adventurer, it is also notable for allowing a significant minority of humans, huginn, and winterfolk halflings as equal citizens. This rankles the more conservative realms, yet none has summoned the courage to raid the place and because it is home to the Order of the Thunderer. The organization hosts a sizable number of clerics, paladins, and warriors of Thor who have the greatest track record in fighting giants and the Cult of Ragnarok's agents. Initiates are gifted with a silver hammer as part of their membership.

METAPLOT: Agents of the Cult of Ragnarok assassinated two of the Order's greatest members: the archmage Delric and the scout Timesh. The Order's stepping up a recruitment drive to make up for these losses.

Nearby Thunder Mountain is Reykurbrand Volcano, home to Sinmara the wife of Surtr. She rules a portion of mountain around the caldera, and it's believed that a portal to Muspelheim is deep within the volcano. Sinmara is dismissive of talk about Ragnarok, confident that her husband will stay safe as long as his favored sword Lęvateinn (so central to the prophecies) is kept within a chest overseen by her.

Thursrike is home to the oldest structures in the Northlands, but alas most of them are inhabited by ogres, trollkin, and all manner of giants. They live upon vast herds of livestock and have trading ties with Jotunheim. They are not the only dangerous inhabitants here, as remohazes, white dragons, bands of yeti, and other monsters are common between settlements. The Cult of Ragnarok bases itself out of the fortress of Birgkrona, assisted by a contingent of giant allies. Other interesting locations here include Älvaträd, a living tree temple sacred to the Vanir with root-driven passageways, and the abandoned fortress of Kupparsheim which descends deep into a field of ice.

METAPLOT: A Jotun known as Laughing Kettil found that a bridge spanning a river gorge would make a nice backscratcher, and so he laid over the chasm for a rest. He hasn't gotten up in months, and seems oddly amenable to passersby using him as a bridge. However, he demands a toll in the form of a funny joke. In spite of his name, Kettil is a hard man to please, and he's not above squashing those who tell a really bad one. And even if a party's permitted to cross, his belly quakes from outbursts of laughter can plunge travelers to their doom.



Trollheim is one of the largest realms in the Northlands by population, its fertile forest sheltered from the worst of the winter's cold. A cosmopolitan place of humans, trollkin, dwarves, and other races, they are some of the north's most enthusiastic fighters and consider themselves the best of all people. A World Tree called Wotan's Tree is closely managed by religious huginn, and those who earn their trust can find portals to other planes among its branches. Legend tells that Wotan learned the powers of rune magic here. Trollheim's largest city is Noatun, guarded by a magical wall created by Njord (one of Seggotan's masks) to keep the waves of the wild sea god Aegir at bay.

METAPLOT: For unknown reasons (but most suspect divine intervention) the trollkin are breeding true in unseen-of numbers. They are expanding their reach and encroaching on the territories of dwarven reaver clans, causing more of them to settle in Trollheim to better carry out raids against the invaders. This is upsetting the delicate power balances of the regions' jarls; Uffi Toothless, one of the most powerful of said leaders, is considering elevating a trollkin to jarldom as a goodwill offering. However, this is met with hostility from more than a few people quoting obscure poems foretelling a trollkin jarl as one of Ragnarok's prophecies. Additionally, it's been seven years since Jarl Asvaldr of the Havardr clan led a grand longship fleet to the southern realms. The fleet seemingly vanished, and the human population of western Trollheim are nearly leaderless from the loss of so many warriors and jarls.

The Vargrike is a realm inhospitable to the two-legged races of the Northlands. Here the lupine people rule, from werewolves to worgs to winter wolves, all united in their howling praises to Fenris (one of Vardesain's masks). Other races are tolerated only as food or slaves, and what few land is farmed and tilled here is by said slaves and sedentary werewolves. The Moon Palace is the only "city" here, and it is a moss-covered ruin where an ancient werewolf queen known as Wargaz the Cruel rules.

METAPLOT: The wilderness surrounding elven ruins of Thorn's outposts saw a large influx of fey beings. They've been causing a bit of trouble by curing werewolves of their lycanthropy. This is hardly a blessing as the ex-werewolves' rivals are quick to take advantage of their weakened state.

Wolfheim is an isolated dwarf stronghold home to the most conservative members of the reaver dwarf clans. They raid and feud constantly, making continual trips across the Neider Straits to seize thralls to put to work in their mines or oversee their reindeer and caribous herds. They have an ancient pact with local winter wolves and worgs, who serve the dwarves as guards and scouts. The monsters are under no obligation to defend the slaves, who by law are forbidden from killing a wolf or wolf-like monster even in self-defense. Dwarves from less warlike cultures often seek out Wolfheim to test their mettle or find solace in what they imagine to be "true dwarven culture."

METAPLOT: The occupation of Krakova by the vampire kingdoms is seen as a great trial by Wolfheim's dwarves. They established the jarldom of Wolfmark on its shores and are a thorn in the undead's side. Additionally, there's talk to occupy and cultivate the lands south of the ruins of Nordheim for more grazing spots and better trade with Wolfmark.

Fallen Kingdoms of the North and Other Locations

Due to the tumultuous nature of Northland realms, the region's kingdoms are home to countless former domains. Before the elves stole them, portals to Bifrost connected Midgard to Valhalla, the Plane of Spears, and other heavenly planes. Beyond petty jarldoms ended by annexation and war, the three most famous fallen kingdoms are below:

Aurvang was once a dwarven hold famed for holding Wotan's sacrificed eye and the holy shield of the dwarven maiden Grajvar. It was brought low when a family of fire dragons incinerated the place after a trade deal gone sour. Dragons still hunt the fauna around here and the nearby valley, but rumors of halls of treasure is a potent lure for adventurers.

Issedon and the Vanguard Kingdoms housed powerful wizards and warriors standing guard against the legions of Boreas. Their line of fortifications formed a wall-like structure on the border of the Bleak Expanse. The Northern Wind's minions could not bring them down, so instead he created the living glaciers to swallow their lands. But the people of the Wall still stand as undead ghosts and vęttir ruled by an order of lich-commanders. Meanwhile, Issedon's sunken cities are populated by derro salvaging for artifacts, and a tower of this old kingdom has been unearthed along one of Trollheim's shores.

Nordheim was the greatest kingdom of the reaver dwarves which fell due to unknown circumstances. From the wrath of the gods to treachery from the elves, giants, Boreas, or even demons from the Ginnungagap are but a few of the wilder explanations. But the most popular theory's from a group of scholars in Skaldhome who propose that the people of Nordheim angered Thor in taking their slaughter to extreme excess.

METAPLOT: Several years ago the animals of the forest near Nordheim fled in vast numbers into Wolfheim. The reavers here sent a band of armed thralls to investigate, where they discovered a pit leading down into a temple home to an army of undead dwarves. The undead chased the thralls to the edges of the forest before retreating back to their domain. The skraeling tribes also speak of "ghost elves" in remote places in the mountains.

Our chapter ends with a list of miscellaneous locations in the Northlands for adventuring opportunity. They include the Isle of Buyan which holds Koschei's soul, a mobile cloud giant city so rich it's rumored their thralls live like jarls, the forbidden isle of Loki home to the trickster-god's minions, the Isle of Swords where the first holmgaga takes place and shield maidens oversee duels, ghostly Phantom Isles haunted by all manner of evil whose locations on the sea change place, shoals home to selkies that lure sailors to their doom, and barrow mounds where local communities give offerings to their undead inhabitants, and rumors of the fabled lands of Hyperborea in Midgard's utter north.

METAPLOT: Loki's servants guard an artifact known as the Loom of Fables. The loom is capable of employing powerful divination and illusion magic to monitor the Norns' threads and give false perceptions to prophets and sooth-sayers. The god erected a new hall to protect the artifact, which if destroyed will allow people to discover the truth of the false Ragnarok. Additionally, the Order of the Thunderer is researching a ritual to teleport people onto the Isle of Swords. They mean to draw members of the Cult of Ragnarok to the isle one by one, yet some worry that this ritual is in fact a trap laid by the cult.

Thoughts so far: The Northlands is overall a strong chapter. It manages to capture a Fantasy Scandinavia feel while having a healthy mix of political conflict, forbidding wilderness, and potential locations for dungeon crawls. The local cultures are varied enough to feel interesting and not be too one-note, although the kingdom of 13,000 CR 20+ elder giants stretches credibility even if they are far from united. Most of the region's metaplot is tied to the Cult of Ragnarok rather than a bunch of unrelated events, which may not be to everyone's liking. On the one hand, fans of the 2012 sourcebook can use most of the realm unchanged and provides an in-built villainous organization to oppose. On the other hand, said cult's wide reach steals some thunder from the other, more localized threats.

It has come time to leave the material world behind as we explore the Shadow Realm in Chapter 11!

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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



Beast the Primordial Player's Guide: Chapter 2 Part 2: Skipping through the rest of the septic tank.

Honestly I've spent too much time trying to figure out how to go over the rest of chapter 2. When honestly the best way to go over it is to just not.

It's not that good. It's basically a list of all of the families and hungers, giving a brief vignette of a stereotypical devouring for a member of that splat, stereotypical horrors, stereotypical feeding methods, kinships they stereotypically pursue, how they stereotypically feel about the various inheritances, etc. The kind of stuff you'd expect to see take up an entire chapter of "Familybook: Anakim" squeezed into 3 pages. The only thing worth commenting on (for values of commenting) are that Matt of course spends way too much time and effort talking about the Talassi. Their section opens up with a Talassi tying up a hero and explaining to them that they're not a rapist and that they're going to let the hero live so that they can go tell all the other Heroes how much they're not a rapist. Talassi kinships are also creepy and dumb. Because the "predatory nature" of most other monsters feeds into their rapist nature. They also love the "vulnerability" of changelings. They do love making kinship with Prometheans because they aren't human enough to twinge their molesto-sense so they can actually be friends with them.

Then we get to inheritances...

quote:

To further compound the issue, the frustration the Talassii
curse causes feeds into itself all too easily. Finally, the Captor
snaps, letting her Horror do its worst. It feels so easy and natural
to do it, and she keeps doing it, over and over again. She slips
into the poisoned narrative, and when she realizes how far she
has come, her anger pushes her the rest of the way through the
Merger. Whether that anger stems from falling victim to the
stigma or from trying to fight what feels so good to her now
matters little. She becomes the predator the world expects to see.

Matt is human garbage.

There's also 3 pages going over the different satiety conditions and how to game them for maximum XP.

No seriously.

So that's loving done.

Next Time: Now that Matt is gone, what do Beasts become?

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




5 content updates in a row has gotta be a record right?

Kurieg posted:

Matt is human garbage.

this checks out

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

quote:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

--Thomas Stearns Eliot, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

Interlude: A Dark History of Face Grabbing

I wanted to finish a Vampire update yesterday, but I was busy. I can only review Circle of Hands while smoking weed and listening to Sleep, and I can only review Vampire while drinking vermouth and listening to Clan of Xymox. I hope you understand. (Eventually, I'll review Vampire: Undeath. I guess I'll have to get into the Insane Clown Posse and get addicted to meth.)

In recompense I wanted to offer a brief interlude that touches on a crucial element of Vampire: the Masquerade that's been missing from my review thus far. It's very easy and very common to discuss every detail of a game while missing the forest for the trees. I'm talking about theme, of course. People have used vampire fiction to tell stories about addiction, exploitation, sexuality, alienation, and sin and redemption--often in combination. I'd even argue that most of the WoD edition wars over the years have boiled down to differences of opinion regarding theme.

But regardless of whatever other themes may be present in a Vampire campaign--sorry, chronicle--they are all ultimately stories about someone grabbing someone by the face. Their own face, or the face of another. It may arrive in the context of a pulse-pounding scene of violence where the grabbing of a face is the dramatic climax, or a quiet and deliberate scene in which a PC thoughtfully grabs their own face. But this is a vision that was presented consistently from the very start. These images are all from the corebook:



I reserve the rights to Mr. Bandanagrabber, Baby Bandanagrabber, and any other Bandanagrabber family character that might emanate therefrom



As a vampire, wearing Elvira nails is hiding in plain sight.



New Wave Face Grab



they cant troll you if there dead



Oh, where do I begin?



I mean, why would a guy with a bandana wanna grab another bandana? These are the questions I don’t want to answer.



You’re late. We already grabbed our faces.



Just leaving this here



His Joy Division shirt is also a vampire



The Bishop!



Who can forget that scene in 9 ½ Weeks where they have rough sex behind some Florida glass?



Peekaboo



So I was out with this girl, right? And she wanted to, y’know, grab my face...but she left her glove on. Weird.



You can fall, I will catch you I’ll grab your face

Time after time

Time after time

Time after time



Next time on Kindred the Embraced: The first of two GMing chapters!

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




That Japanese doomsday cult is rumoured to have acquired a nuclear device and tested it in the Australian outback, iirc.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

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


Ghost Leviathan posted:

That Japanese doomsday cult is rumoured to have acquired a nuclear device and tested it in the Australian outback, iirc.

"We, an organization that would have significant trouble acquiring a nuke, have acquired a nuke! What's next?"

"Blow it up where nobody will notice to make sure it works."

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Tibalt posted:

"We, an organization that would have significant trouble acquiring a nuke, have acquired a nuke! What's next?"

"Blow it up where nobody will notice to make sure it works."

it's definitely the "Canadian Girlfriend" of Illuminati rumors. the more interesting angle would be to come up with a weirder reason for why they would bother doing that.

like, their goal is ostensibly to cause mass human suffering and panic and loss of life. what better enables that than nuclear ordinance? how about the horrific Stranger that they managed to summon by using a nuclear bomb to blast open a Doorway that was believed to be permanently shut?

of course, it's been decades since ASK completed the ritual and the entire conspiracy seems to have all but disappeared from public view. did their ritual fail, or has its sinister purpose yet to even be discovered?

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib



Chapter Two: Gear

The Gear chapter is probably the worst organized in the book. We start with an assortment of special abilities weapons have, like high explosive, armor, minimum strength, cost, etc. These are in alphabetical order. This means that basic, essential parts of the rules, like how armor works, come after 3RB (three round burst).

The most relevant bits: Armor increases a character's Toughness in the areas it covers. Generally you're looking at torso, head, arms and legs. If a hit isn't a called shot or covered by a special rule, it goes for the torso. This means that if a character is wearing a plate corselet and no other armor, it takkes 3 more damage to Wound him, but if you try to hit his arm instead, you ignore it.

Remember how I said you get $500 to start with? The game sets all of the prices around that. It assumes you aren't actually paying $300 for a sword in Merry Olde England, just that that's a reasonable equivalent. This is probably a reasonable solution for a universal system.

Some vehicles and creatures have what's called "Heavy Armor." This means things that count as Heavy Weapons can hurt them. This is so you can't stab a tank to death with a switchblade.

Ranged weapons tend to have a fixed damage, like 2d6. It can explode, but two characters both shooting the same gun will deal the same damage. Melee weapons, on the other hand, tend to do damage based on strength. For example, an axe deals Str+d6 damage. Notably, the weapon's damage die cannot be higher than your Strength. So if you had a Strength of d4, you would only deal 2d4 damage even if you were using a Str+d10 Great Sword.

Some ranged weapons (mostly machine guns) have minimum Strength scores. You take a penalty to your Shooting if you don't meet them.

If you fire a weapon at full auto, you make more attacks, but take a -2 penalty to shooting rolls.

After the special notes for weapons, we have Encumbrance. You can carry five times your strength die before you take a -1 to Strength, Agility, and associated skills. It increases by another -1 for every multiple of that, until you get to -3. That's as much as you can carry. This is why you don't want to just dump Strength, even in modern settings.

Next, we have more special abilities for armor and weapons, like kevlar, shields, scopes, flamethrowers, missiles...

It's all a bit of a mess. It makes it hard to find exactly which note you're looking for. Now, there is a nice index in the back, so it's not impossible to get what you need. But it's a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

We then get to Hand Weapons, which basically means melee weapons. They're organized into Medieval, Modern, and Futuristic. Some weapons have further notes, like warhammer having AP 1 vs. rigid armor. That means it ignore a point of armor from things like the plate corselet, but not a chain shirt.

You have your favorite medieval weapons here, plus things like billy clubs, brass knuckles, and laser swords.

Next, we get armor. It's organized like Hand Weapons was, going from medieval chain and plate up to futuristic power armor. Nothing terribly out of place here.

Now we get to ranged weapons, and here I have some issues.

First off, why do we go Weapons, to Armor, to Weapons? It makes it a bit of a pain when flipping through.

Next, you have an issue that there are way too many kinds of gun. The Ranged Weapon table is longer than the Hand Weapon and Armor tables combined. It adds in Black Powder to the table, which is probably fair, but the modern firears are just way too granular for this kind of game. Worse, you have some guns that are just straight up better versions of others. The only difference between an AK47 and an H&K G3 is that the AK47 does +1 damage and has more shots before you have to reload.

You could dump a good 2/3 to 3/4 of the modern weapons and improve this section greatly.

You also have a section on vehicle-mounted and anti-tank guns and a section on special weapons like mines, rocket launchers, catapults, and other big weapons.

Finally we get to mundane items. Unlike the weapons and armor section, this isn't organized by time period, so you have cellphone coming right after canteen (waterskin).

None of it really goes beyond modern day tech, and there's no real description of what any of these things do. I get that not everything needs mechanics, but it could be useful to give some indication of how players can use some of these things.

Weirdly, ammunition is just under mundane items. The organization in this chapter is the worst.

We close out with vehicles. Vehicle combat is a bit different than regular combat. Facing matters more, with different toughness values for the front/sides/rear, and values for acceleration as well as speed. Aircraft have a climb value, but it only really matters when using the Chase Rules, which are in the next chapter.

We'll get into the vehicle rules next chapter. They're actually decently abstracted, but they do require you to learn a slightly different system.

Overall, this is the worst chapter in the book. The guns are too fiddly, the chapter is horribly organized, and the it's tough to find exactly what you're looking for.

Character Creation

Old Man Henderson

Despite the fact that he's Old Man Henderson, I'm not going to make him Elderly. For one thing, he'd only be around 56 (he was 12 in '74). For another, he won't be kicking in any front doors with a d4 Strength. It would also interfere with his ability to haul around firearms and lawn gnomes.

We'll give him the following Attributes:
Agility d8
Smarts d6
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d4

Honestly, this is underselling him but we're working on a starting character budget.

We'll go with the following skills:

Fighting d8
Knowledge (Physics) d4
Knowledge (Portuguese) d4
Intimidation d4
Notice d8
Repair d6
Shooting d8

Notice is in there purely for Edge qualification.

We'll give him the full complement of Hindrances. He'll have Overconfident as his major Hindrance, with Quirk (Incomprehensible accent) and Delusional as his minor Hindrances.

Next, we're giving him McGyver, which lets him make little gadgets and tools from random crap he finds around, and Brave, which helps him succeed on fear tests.

That leaves us with enough hindrance points to raise the Vigor back to a d6 so he's tough enough to take a hit or two.

He ends up looking like this:

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d4, Knowledge (Physics) d4, Knowledge (Portuguese) d4, Notice d8, Repair d6, Shooting d8
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Delusional (Minor), Overconfident, Quirk
Edges: Brave, McGyver

When he fires a gun, he succeeds about 80% of the time, and gets extra damage 25% of the time. Shotguns get a +2 to hit, making that 98% to hit and 48% to get extra damage. He's decent in melee, and he can scrounge up random things to help out, and Delusional should let him justify all sorts of stupid crap to derail horrible railroads.

Going forward, I'd raise his Agility and Vigor a bit. Agility to help with raising Shooting and Fighting, Vigor so he can qualify for the Liquid Courage edge (become resistant to injury when you're drunk). Then I'd go for some nice combat Edges like Rock and Roll, Quick Draw and Marksman.

Race Creation

I'm going to go with Warforged, since most people should be familiar with them.

First off, they're constructs. Normally, that gives the, +2 to recover from Shaken, no Wound penalties, no extra damage from called shots, immunity to disease and poison, and the need to be repaired instead of healed. However, they're living constructs, so we'll let them suffer the called shot damage, but allow Healing to work on them. That ends up being a +2 ability.

They're tough, so they'll get a d6 in Vigor. This is also a +2. However, they don't have a great sense of self, so their Spirit takes two points per step to raise during character creation, and two advances to raise in play. That's worth a -3.

They'll get +2 Armor, at another +2, since they're pretty tough and effectively covered in armored plates.

Finally, since a lot of people don't trust them, they're Outsiders. This gives them a -2 to Charisma when dealing with non-warforged. As a minor hindrance, this is a -1 ability.

This ends up at +2 overall, making them a reasonably balanced race

On Cremefillians

Since I was asked, here's an example of a race from a setting book for Savage Worlds, the Cremefillian from Andy Hopp's Low Life setting.

First off, I was actually thinking of the Boduls when I said they break character creation rules. That said, despite the decrepit, slightly pathetic bent of Low Life, the races are actually more powerful than most regular SW races.

Instead of the normal racial abilities, the Low Life races have their abilities presented as free Edges. Cremefillians get two.

Spongy Flesh means they've absorbed all kinds of poisons from the environment around them. This makes them immune to poisons and radiation, while making anything that tries to eat them sick. It also gives them +1 Toughness for their "muffiny brawn."

Tweenking lets them carry a lot more than their strength would normally allow. They can carry three times their normal limit and ignore the strength limits on hand weapons.

They don't have any negative abilities or Hindrances they have to take.

So, obviously you don't really care about Strength too much as a Cremefillian. Let's give him a starting array of Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6. We'll call this fellow Medium Debbie.

We'll go ahead and boost his Fighting all the way up to a d12, taking 7 of his 15 skill points. We'll round it out with Boating d6, Climbing d6, and Intimidation d8.

For Hindrances, we'll go with Funny Looking, Hoardosaurus, and Innumerate, all from the Low Life book. Basically, Medium Debbie is a weird-looking hoarder who can't count.

Low Life characters all get one free Professional Edge, in addition to what their race gives them. We'll go with Price-o-corn, which gives Medium Debbie a d8 Wild Die instead of a d6 when on a boat, and a +2 to rolls against getting seasick or drunk.

With our Hindrance points, we'll take the Weird Edge Animal Magnetism. Once per day, Medium Debbie can attract a bunch of animals that stick to him and act as armor for a few hours. Also, animals don't like attacking him. We'll also give him Trademark Weapon for a +1 to his fighting rolls when using his favorite weapon.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Skills: Boating d6, Climbing d6, Fighting d12, Intimidation d8
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Funny Looking, Haordosaurus, Innumerate
Edges: Animal Magnetism, Price-o-corn, Trademark Weapon.

We'll give him a Big rear end Cleaver. This weighs 20 yorts (pounds) and does Str+d10 damage. As I said earlier, normally a Str 4 character would max out his encumbrance at 20 lbs and couldn't deal more than Str+d4 damage with a melee weapon. However, as a Cremefillian, Medium Debbie can carry sixty pounds without breaking a sweat, and will deal d4+d10 damage. With his d12+1 to hit, 8 Parry, and the 7 Toughness he gets when covered in woodland creatures, he is a snack cake to be reckoned with.

JackMann fucked around with this message at 08:43 on May 5, 2018

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cultures: Franka, pt. 5



Degenesis: Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 2: Cultures


Briton

And now, for a taste of something completely different, the lands to the north of the doomed Passage North!

Briton is the afree of Pheromancers. When their resident Psychonaut died years ago (fell from a Ziggurat?), the peasants got into a frenzy, “molested the corpse,” tore down the Ziggurat and just carried out a great de-phero-Stalinization. They sent for mercenaries to help maintain their freedom.

They got Lady of the Lake Leon Leoncoeur Anabaptists instead.

The Anabaptists came and declared Briton to be the place of the final showdown between man and demiurge. Anabaptists were quite good at their claim, too:

Briton posted:

It became exactly that, for the demiurge had a lot in store: The Psychonauts sent Ganaress with glands as big and bloated as a child’s head with sweet words on his tongue. A thousand human followers surrounded him, praising him as this era’s god.
Two days later, he hung from a Briton village’s fortress walls, flayed.

:stare: :black101:

Crazed protestant heretics can be crazy effective when they want to.

Britons saw Anabaptists metaphorically kick a Pheromancer in the balls so hard his neck glands exploded and they fell in love with the movement. Brest, St-Brieuc and Rennes are now the biggest Anabaptist cities and the people of the region are all too happy to support the fight with food and volunteers.

The Stukov Desert

Unlike the Northwestern bit of Franka that's full of angry Anabritons, Northeast is home to a dust salt desert – the Stukov Desert.

Gasses and spores from all of Franka float to this hell-hole, infecting... something. New kinds of bugs appear. Desert Clam – the one <location> + <animal name> monster to have never been featured in a DnD monster manual – send out tendrils to hunt passersby. Husk Spiders burrow into the ground to lay in ambush. Stukov Scorpions attack anyone that comes closer than 10 paces. Their extremely necrotic poison is valued by Spitalians, which probably makes player characters extremely interested in said Scorpions.

Though why would you willingly go to a salt desert is beyond me.

The wild clans live free in the Stukov desert, probably because nobody civilized is interested in this salty armpit of post-Eschaton Europe. They eat Dust Worms and Desert Clams (how healthy can it be to eat Sepsis mutated animals?), grind bugs into healing paste and fire arrows at strangers.

Legends claim that Stukov was a famed Justitian researcher who found semi-intelligent beasts in a system of chasms and valleys. Said beasts did not do much else but drag artifacts to store in their lairs. As proof, Stukov brought both artifacts and hand-sized (probably palm-sized) finely chinseled claws.

The maps, claws and artifacts are stored in the Chronicler's Central Cluster in Justitian, just waiting for some high level player group to steal them/get rewarded with them for a quest.

Britain

Despite the Brexiteer's efforts, the Britain was connected to Europe by the rim of the Janus Crater. The east side of it is cold and hard to navigate. The Atalantic side has coniferous forests and shrubbery (the region is dangerous for Spontaneous Overused Meme Overload). The ground also features porous rocks, “like a fist-sized deposit of an unknown substance in the stone had evaporated with the years.” Heck if I know the significance of that.

Post-Eschaton Britain is a mysterious land where few dare tread, with pillars of light grasping for the sun, lightshows, and slavers that wear a bulky apparatus on the back of their necks (mobile tea kettles?) all being reported. It's known as the Vulture's domain, whatever the gently caress that means. If the Vulture is a person, it's probably one of those old time cyborgs, like the Chernobog.

Next time: Pollen can't into space, but space can into Pollen.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


By the way, I just checked:
Cultures take about 90 pages in the book.
Clans take about 190 pages.
And there's a 20 page history section after that.

Then we'll be able to go onto Katharsys, the Rulebook.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



JackMann posted:

Next, you have an issue that there are way too many kinds of gun. The Ranged Weapon table is longer than the Hand Weapon and Armor tables combined. It adds in Black Powder to the table, which is probably fair, but the modern firears are just way too granular for this kind of game. Worse, you have some guns that are just straight up better versions of others. The only difference between an AK47 and an H&K G3 is that the AK47 does +1 damage and has more shots before you have to reload.

You could dump a good 2/3 to 3/4 of the modern weapons and improve this section greatly.

"AKs doing more damage" is one of those "know a little/know some/know a lot" things. People who think they know about guns (like most game designers) confuse the 7.62x39mm M43 cartridge with 7.62x51mm NATO, which has impressive ballistics thanks in part of the longer case length. 7.62mm M43 is an intermediate cartridge, a middle point between pistol cartridges and full-length rifle rounds used in precision long range shooting and hunting, and is really comparable to other assault rifle cartridges like the 5.56x45mm NATO used in the West. But even it's lacking, it's own ballistics aren't straight like the 5.56mm, dropping earlier in it's flight trajectory, and it's heavier bullet drills through a target instead of tumbling and disintegrating inside a subject like the 5.56mm. It's why the Russians largely abandoned the M43 cartridge in favor for the 5.45x39mm round, with it's similar ballistics to NATO round, and relegated the M43 to surplus and export.

So yeah, you could just drop AK47 and just use the M16's stats as "generic assault rifle" and that would be good enough.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


In most games, with the level of granularity they have, you could drop almost all the specific guns for 'pistol, big pistol, assault rifle, SMG no-one uses because in most RPGs it's just a shittier assault rifle since RPGs usually don't model the reasons you'd use one, useless shotgun, useful shotgun, and broken sniper rifle'.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




Night10194 posted:

In most games, with the level of granularity they have, you could drop almost all the specific guns for 'pistol, big pistol, assault rifle, SMG no-one uses because in most RPGs it's just a shittier assault rifle since RPGs usually don't model the reasons you'd use one, useless shotgun, useful shotgun, and broken sniper rifle'.

You forgot "cheap but useless sniper rifle" that most l33t sniper characters start with until they get enough money for the latter one.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


Night10194 posted:

SMG no-one uses because in most RPGs it's just a shittier assault rifle since RPGs usually don't model the reasons you'd use one

I don't know much about firearms, but I'm guessing it is largely down to weight, barrel length (to make it easier to get around corners indoors) and reducing over-penetration at close range?

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



hectorgrey posted:

I don't know much about firearms, but I'm guessing it is largely down to weight, barrel length (to make it easier to get around corners indoors) and reducing over-penetration at close range?

Also, it's a lot easier to carry around on patrol all day than a assault rifle, but unlike a pistol it's decently accurate.

There's a lot of weapons that have benefits that don't really see play in RPGs or video games, simply because stuff like being more comfortable to carry on patrol or being exceptionally reliable are annoying as heck to model.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



The lighter and shorter a weapon is the faster you can rotate it to aim at a newly-appeared target.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Yeah, SMGs are much better at close ranges.

Plus, they're good weapon to give for vehicle crews - before you develop carbines, PDWs and so on.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Night10194 posted:

In most games, with the level of granularity they have, you could drop almost all the specific guns for 'pistol, big pistol, assault rifle, SMG no-one uses because in most RPGs it's just a shittier assault rifle since RPGs usually don't model the reasons you'd use one, useless shotgun, useful shotgun, and broken sniper rifle'.
The big gun books that most modern games (like Twilight:2000 and D20 Modern) have are really funny for this reason. Zillions of pages and words and diagrams to describe weapons that...are essentially all identical to each other in play (because of the level of granularity most RPGs model and the abstractness of things like 'hit points')

Here's a pair of charts from the D20 Weapons Locker, showing all the M-16 and AK variants





Note the near total lack of gameable distinguishing detail between all these weapons, especially given the way most groups play (where no one really cares about an extra pound of encumbrance here or there, and combat ranges aren't usually precise enough to rally make a difference between taking a -2 to hit at 140 feet versus 160 feet)

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Everything is equally easy to obtain except for the AK-74UB, which by the rules only has a shorter range and higher price than the original AK-47. :psyduck:.

EDIT: The M4 Carbine, basically the US Military's service rifle, is statistically inferior in every way to an original M16. Somehow I don't think that's a Pentagon Wars type joke.

Kavak fucked around with this message at 16:26 on May 5, 2018

darthbob88
Oct 13, 2011

YOSPOS


Kavak posted:

Everything is equally easy to obtain except for the AK-74UB, which by the rules only has a shorter range and higher price than the original AK-47. :psyduck:.

EDIT: The M4 Carbine, basically the US Military's service rifle, is statistically inferior in every way to an original M16. Somehow I don't think that's a Pentagon Wars type joke.
Looks to me like it just has a shorter range increment, which TBH I'd kinda expect in going from a rifle with a 20 inch barrel to a carbine with a 14.5 inch barrel. What surprises me is that they don't model the carbine being a pound or two lighter than the full-length rifle.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I always enjoyed Feng Shui (and Feng Shui 2)'s laid back approach to weapons. Interestingly there SMGs do tend to have value because they're more concealable than an assault rifle but do more damage than a pistol (on average). Also if you make a 'KA-CHINK' sound and mime pumping a shotgun in person you get an extra point of damage, so that's cool.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui still listed dozens of guns before saying 'they're all mechanically identical' and should've had the same approach to model of firearm that it had to special ammo: Your Gun Character will swear it really matters and will totally think it does. It will do nothing mechanically.

It's just kind of a waste of page space otherwise. But then every single game in the 90s had 80 different mechanically identical guns. It was just kind of a sign of the times, I think.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




darthbob88 posted:

Looks to me like it just has a shorter range increment, which TBH I'd kinda expect in going from a rifle with a 20 inch barrel to a carbine with a 14.5 inch barrel. What surprises me is that they don't model the carbine being a pound or two lighter than the full-length rifle.

It also costs more. There's literally no reason to use anything but a base M16/M16A1 on that chart.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Does the system have rules for converting rifles? seems like a rather simple work for a gunsmith.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Night10194 posted:

Feng Shui still listed dozens of guns before saying 'they're all mechanically identical' and should've had the same approach to model of firearm that it had to special ammo: Your Gun Character will swear it really matters and will totally think it does. It will do nothing mechanically.

It's just kind of a waste of page space otherwise. But then every single game in the 90s had 80 different mechanically identical guns. It was just kind of a sign of the times, I think.
It's weird, because OD&D had the very sensible (given how abstract hit points and combat rounds were) "all weapons do 1d6 damage" rule, and it was only when SCA grogs got ahold of it that you had longswords and broadswords doing different damage until finally you get Gygax and his 23 different polearms and their 23 distinct statlines. And all other games sort of just took it from there.

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Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





And the biggest benefit of Feng Shui's guns description was they were entertaining to read. More interesting than charts.

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