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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

As mentioned elsewhere, I playtested Code of Bushido for Greg Stolze, and the final version doesn't resemble his first manuscript at all, aside from there being a tournament and a murder. He wasn't even informed that it was being rewritten - he was paid for his work, though, even though it was entirely rewritten by AEG's in-house writers (Wick, Soesbee, Vaux, and Kapera).

I also find it amusing that for some reason they used a AD&D / D&D coding style for the adventures for some reason, though stories in a given series were rarely connected. Instead, the coding was thematic, so "B" was the Bushido series, "I" was for Intrigue, "L" was for "City of Lies", "M" was for "High Magic", and "S" was for Shadowlands (the most prolific of the series). Each only got around two entries, except poor Intrigue (one adventure), and Shadowlands (three adventures). Of course, there were a number of uncoded adventures, and even though the Otosan Uchi adventure optionally ties into like four or five of the coded adventures, it doesn't get a code itself. By the time second edition rolled around, they had given up on doing adventures, and also the coding system.


Oct 10, 2005

I Forgot To Hail King Torg

I feel like that one is the absolute worst of the 1e adventures, and they basically ignored it from that point on; even though 1e/2e writing was metaplotty as all hell and constantly made references to events that happened in adventures (usually with an assumed railroad and ending, despite a lot of the adventures having pretty loose/multiple outcomes), the only thing I remember seeing mentioned ever again was Yoroshiku.

Which brings me to my other L5R 1e adventure complaint...the names. 1e wasn't great about it, but this adventure is real bad about names that aren't just "not names", but go full-on "words barely related to the person, that would never be names, that also show up in Japanese 101 vocab lists". I made fun of it when I ran L5R by giving all of my Unicorn NPCs super dumb names, mostly food puns.

Feb 15, 2012

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

AmiYumi posted:

I made fun of it when I ran L5R by giving all of my Unicorn NPCs super dumb names, mostly food puns.

My favorite L5R name pun comes from a fox-clan samurai my brother played, Kitsune Udon.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

There are no shortage of awful 1e adventures, sadly. Way of Shadow and Twilight Honor would probably be my contenders for the worst, but they had plenty of competition. Oh, and there was an "order" for the adventures as it turns out, but they weren't in the same series; like S-2 follows B-1, for... some reason. I dunno why. They don't seem connected.

And between characters like Uikku, Seppun Baka, and the Otaku family in general, there's a lot of in those early L5R characters.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Kurieg posted:

Well I know I've still got two books to finish up, and I will, but I've also gotten my hands on the finalized Beast: The Primoridal printing.
It's not as bad as the initial kickstarter offering but they've somehow managed to backslide some from the first backer copy. I don't even know how they did that.

So I'll do my best to finish up stupid adult witch fetish party relatively soon.
I've been waiting for this day to come.

In other thread news, I believe MonsiurChoc mentioned the lack of availability of Ravenloft 3E books when he started his review of the series. It's worthy of note that Wizards of the Coats has started putting those out in PDF form at DrivethruRPG/RPGnow (only the core book so far), so if you're into that sort of thing you now have access to it.

Aug 23, 2009

I always thought of Legend of the Five Rings as one of those 90's-as-gently caress but apparently it came out at the tail end of the decade. Huh.

Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo

Regarding stupid names, I ran with numbers in Scorpion Emperor. Ichiro, Nishi, Sanjuro, all the way up to some Bayushi named Hachiman.

Oct 21, 2012

Witch Girls Adventures: Respelled: Part 9: Pre-Generated Characters and Other Loose Ends

The lone appendix in this book is just the dumping ground for gameplay rules that weren’t put up front for some reason. Along with some pre-generated PCs and their sheets. Along with the rules regarding actions, this is how much characters can lift…

(Missing a zero on that last one...)

…and this is how fast they can go if you use the optional move speed rules.

And now, some pre-generated characters. If you were sad about the lack of truly terrible art in this book, don’t worry. Soto did the portraits for these characters. And because they were obviously traced from poser models, they all have the same lovely dead-behind-the-eyes stare and arthritic hands.

Ami Cutter

On the outside, Ami is an “overly dramatic” girl from a “good” magical family who is concerned with fitting in. On the inside, she feels the need for speed and wants to be a broom racer. They don’t give a reason for why she would want to hide this desire or why it would be in any way unacceptable. Probably has something to do with her family.

Her sheet describes her as being a middle class girl who is “human-shy and deadpan”. She has the Drama Queen and Flier talents, the Oracle heritage, and the Book-Worm and Broom Talker knacks. Nearly all of her skills have a +6 in them. (None of them have less than a +4.) In fact, she has a ridiculous amount of skill points for a starting character (24 Mundane and 35 Magical), and at least 4 of the points are unaccounted. One of which is the free rank in Acting she should have from the Drama Queen talent. Her magic and skill spread makes her out to be more of a monster hunter than an aspiring broom racer.

Angela Saint-John

Angela discovered magic through her love of music. As a result, she had an easier time adjusting to the magical world than most, and has come to love the adventure of it all. She meets every new challenge with grace, a smile, and a song.

Angela has the Outsider Savant niche and uses her Social die to cast spells. She has the Brave and Calm talents, the Melodious heritage, and the Magician and Naive knacks. She has a violin as her foci, which she’s tuned to give her a bonus to Mentalism spells. This allows her to do things like her signature spell, “Puppet”, a Mentalism 3 spell that lets her mind control people. 7 of her Mundane skill points (which include a lot of +5s) are unaccounted for, including the free rank of Focus she should have for having the Calm talent.

Jessica Chimere

Jessica fixates on the fact that she and her parents are from another dimension. They won’t tell her anything about the dead world they’re from for some reason, so she spends her time studying up on the multiverse. The only hints about her origins are that she has the Half-Immortal heritage and she uses chakrams as a weapon. Also, her picture creeps me out.

Jessica is a Gothique with the Eclectic niche. She has the Goody-Goody talent, but she also has the Instant Karma knack and her signature spell is an Alteration 3 spell that shrinks people. So you can imagine what she’s supposed to do in a lot of situations. She has the right amount of skill ranks, but she’s missing a free rank of Curse. She also has the Chubby knack, if you couldn't tell, along with the Urban talent.

Laura Vivo

Laura’s divorced parents spoiled the poo poo out of her and always told her how beautiful and special she was. Yes, you guessed it, she has the Mary Sue talent. That’s pretty much it.

Laura is an Insider with the Strange Relations niche. She has the Eccentric talent along with the Mary Sue one, the Dreamer heritage, and the Lucky and Attitude: Scatterbrained knacks. 2 of her mundane skill points are unaccounted for.

Nana Muraille

Remember when I mentioned that Harris had just got into Doctor Who when he wrote this? This character proves that. She is the former companion of “Professor Clue”, the main character of the in-verse TV show of the same name that turned out to be real. (Complete with a pulsing magical machine and a sharp wit.) She met him when she was loving around with a program that could let her see into other dimensions, and accidentally summoned some sort of nasty. Since then, she’s been trying to find him again.

Nana is a Techie with the Cosplayer niche. She has the Geek and Witty talents, the Warper heritage, and the Big Bank, Wards, and Attitude: Curious and Short Attention Span knacks. Her signature spells are a Time and Space 2 spell that stops time and a Cybermancy 3 spell that lets her teleport through electrical currents. She has the right amount of mundane skill points and has an unaccounted for magical skill point.

Rosie Flowers

Raised in a hippie commune in New York, Rosie is probably the sweetest witch you will ever meet, which runs counter to the typical stereotype of witches with Hag’s Syndrome being evil. Not that you can tell when every witch in this setting is some flavor of rear end in a top hat. She loves the outdoors, her “shadow-glider” (and familiar) Mr. Chippers, and hates violence.

Rosie is a Rustic with the Demeter niche. One of her signature spells is an Alteration 3 spell that turns people into animals. So despite being the sweetest witch in the world, she will probably still turn you into an animal if you annoy her. (Her other signature spell, an Elementalism 2 spell called “Green Thumb”, isn’t explained.) She has the Rural and Trickster talents and the Ghost Magnet, Natural Telepath, Pacifist, and Flammable knacks. She’s also got an unaccounted for magical skill point.

And that’s it! The book is over! The only things left are a blank character sheet and advertisements for all of the other wonderful supplements you can buy for this game, including one for this very book.

Next Book: The Official Guide to Coventry School for Girls, wherein Witch Girls goes back to its claimed roots, we learn about the best magic school in the multiverse, find out where some of the Shrinking Sorceress characters have been hiding, meet Diet Lucinda, and gawk at one of Harris’ self-inserts: the most inept immortal ever.

Adnachiel fucked around with this message at 19:49 on Mar 26, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ethereal Player's Guide: I Hope Something Better Comes Along

So, first up, positive Domain features!
Aspected Domain (Uncommon): One elemental strand dominates the Domain. Those within the Domain, when using Songs or skills associated iwth that element, get +1 TN.
Common Tongue (Common): Everyone in the Domain understands any spoken or written language, regardless of what languages they actually know. Unlike most Features, a Domain's master can deliberately turn this on; turning it off is sometimes harder.
Deceitful (Rare): The true nature of the Domain is hidden. Unless you know the secret of revealing its true nature, everything looks and sounds like something else. Domains can also be susceptible to deceit, such as the Domain called Faerie. These places allow you to use Dreaming to mask or reveal something without actually altering its true form.
Domain Artifact (Uncommon): The Domain caontains a powerful artifact that, for some reason, cannot leave. The Domains creator or creators must pay XP for it. The artifact feature 'Unable to leave Domain' is worth -3, or -4 if leaving will destroy the artifact entirely.
Dream Magnet (Uncommon): The Domain attracts dreamscapes of a certain type in great numbers, even in the Far Marches.
Fierce Figments (Rare): Typical figments in the Domain have 2 Ethereal Forces. They can still be Dream-shaped away, but there is a penalty to the TN of -1 to -6 depending on the Domain.
Healall (Rare): Mind and Soul HP recover at twice normal speed in the Domain.
Infinite (Rare): The Domain is millions of times larger on the inside, even infinitely large in one or more dimensions.
Intrusive Domain: Attunement (Rare): The Domain can actually grant attunements to those that live there. This costs 10 CP for the spirit and 5 CP from the Domain's master. Domain Attunements are rare but as powerful as Servitor Attunements. The most common is Universal Assertion, more on which later.
Malleable (Uncommon): When making Dreaming rolls to change the Domain, there is a fixed bonus between +1 and +6 to the TN.
Mobile (Rare, or Typical for Micro-Domains): The will of the spirits in the Domain can move it in the Marches. Each spirit's will accelerates the Domain equally, so two spirits can cancel each other out. Without this, Domains move either randomly or along a set course made at the time of their creation, and more slowly. Micro-Domains are mobile by default, but larger mobile Domains are rare.
Visible Anchors (Common): The Domain's master can sense anchors within it and can move or destroy them with a successful Will roll.

Negative Domain features!
Acidic (Rare): Any sapient being in the Domain at midnight loses 2 Mind HP.
Doomed (Uncommon): The Domain is facing destruction, perhaps fading or facing a prophecy of imminent disaster. At some point, it will vanish or become entirely uninhabitable.
Dream-Caul (Rare): To enter the Domain from the Marches or exit itno the Marches, you must pass through a border reality not designed by the Domain's creator, which can be hostile.
Hostile[/o] (Uncommon): The Domain's environment is dangeorus, perhaps due to a curse or destructive weather. This can be designed deliberately by the Domain's creator, unlike most features.
Incomplete Mastery (Rare): The Domain's master cannot automatically sense attempts to use Dreaming in the Domain.
Intrusive Domain: Discord (Rare): The Domain can alter the nature of those that live there, granting them Discord. Every week spent in the Domain forces a Will roll to avoid gaining one level of the appropriate Discord. However, any levels of the Discord already possessed are added to the Will roll TN.
Oasis (Uncommon, or Common for Micro-Domains): The Domain appeared naturally, and so has no master.
Unbound (Rare): The Domain is cut loose in time and occasionally skips 'forward' to the future. It vanishes from the Marches for some period, then returns, and for anyone inside, no time has passed at all. The GM may allow Unbound Domains to skip backward occasionally, appearing before their departure, or even jump randomly through time.

M<ixed features!
Bilocational (Rare): The Domain exists in two locations at once, and can be entered or exited by either one.
Bonded Master (Uncommon): The Domain's master only has to roll Dreaming if another tries to contest their changes. However, the master cannot leave the Domain, and their moods affect it heavily.
Living Domain (Rare): The Domain is alive, complete with Celestial Forces. It may have good or bad relations with its inhabitants.
Multiple Mastery (Rare): The Domain has two or more masters. A spirit can serve only one master at a time, but all masters rule the Domain and must be honored.
Primal Force (Rare): The Domain has incarnated part of itself as a primal guardian or bane. This force cannot leave the Domain, but within it it has nearly infinite power, though it obeys precise and predictable rules. It could be a ravaging monster if not sacrificed to, or it might be a guardian of justice in the Domain against those who violate its laws. While these beings are very powerful, they have no Celestial Forces and cannot hear the Symphony or have true free will.
Quirky (Ubiquitous): Almost all Domains have strange attributes - a constant must that obscures anything more than five feet away, shading everything green, making artifacts glow, causing sounds whenever someone is alone, whatever.
Regenerates (Rare): When manipulated physically or by Dreaming, the Domain slowly returns to its previous state. Figments return from death, walls repair themselves, trees grow back within hours.
Serendipitous/Hidden (Uncommon): Serendipitous Domains give +1 to +4 to the TN of anyone trying to find them, while Hidden Domains give 1 to -4.
Sticky (Rare): Spirits always succeed at anchoring ot the Domain, but after doing so, receive -2 TN to anchoring anywhere else. Domain rulers must roll Will at -2 to grant residency elsewhere to a spirit stuck this way, as well, and will not know if they failed automatically.
Time Effects (Common): The Domain's time flows at a different rate than the Marches in general, though Essence recovers at the normal Marches rate. The timeflow need not be regular, either.
Transcendental (Unknown): The Domain exists on a different level of reality than the Marches. If God was a spirit, Heaven and Hell would be a combined Transcendental Domain. Spirits do not know of any such Domains, nor how to make any, but they keep looking in an effort to prove they exist at all.
(Rare): The Domain's creation is incomplete, and its physical laws are not yet set. When someone succeeds on a Dreaming roll with CD 6, an amplified version of the effect spreads throughout the Domain. The same happens on a failed CD 6, but the effect is twisted into a malevolent form. Even the Domain master cannot overrule these changes.

Ethereals are the natural inhabitants of the Marches, and they're enemies as often as friends. Unlike celestials, they have no unifying goals. The War doesn't matter to most of them. They have no supreme leaders or governing bodies. They are more like humans, made of countless tribes, often solitary or working at cross purposes. Some spirits dream of uniting the whole Marches, overthrowing God or so on, but the idea is no more practical than uniting Earth. Spirits are a rather contentious lot, and often have less in common than an American does with a Bolivian. If there is anything they all share, it's a desire to grow in power and a fear of being consumed. All are both predator and prey. There are, however, reasons for ethereals to be allies, and most games will have the PCs be allies in some way.

Most spirits are individually weak, especially compared to celestials. Thus, they often band together for mutual protection and to harm othjers. These gangs, like human ones, can be quite powerful, but are more likely to fight each other than celestials. Being made of different kinds of ethereals, they rarely hold topgether well without a strong and charismatic leader. They are mostly found in the Far Marches, occasionally with their own Domains. They're hard to keep togehter without an external threat.

Ethereal tribes exist, made of spirits that share the same Image or motif. They function similarly to gangs, but also explicitly want to foster belief among humans, to increase their Essence. They have an intrinsic reason to band together and are more likely to remain loyal even without a strong leader. They are also more concerned with humans, and so more likely to attract celestial attention. Some tribes join larger gangs, and tribes often fight each other like gangs - for example, the Benevolent Space Brothers adn the Greys hate each other. The most famous and powerful tribes are the pantheons. They are the most potent forces in the Marches, and no one really wants to cross the Olympians even in their weakened state, for example. If the GM allows god PCs, a pantheon game has a lot of potential.

Som Domains foster cooperation and loyalty among their inhabitants, and some actively recruit. These may have ideological rulers or may just be mercenaries who trade benefits for service or even just Essence. Being a 'citizen' of a potent Domain is rather like joining a powerful gang. They may or may not offer protection outside the Domain, but at the least will give a safe place to anchor, which is worth a lot.

Anyone who isn't a friend is a potential foe. Not all ethereals are immediately hostile and not all enjoy preying on the weak, but it's common enough that paranoia is reasonable. Besides the fear of ethereal predators, there's also reason to fear the Tsayadim, other angels, Beleth's demons and territorial Domain masters or gods. Hiven the fact that anyone can appear to be anyone else in the Marches, trust is rare and traps are common. While this paranoia may seem gloomy, ethereals can be quite friendly when they establish each others' identities. Still, only the most potent are immediately friendly to strangers - no one else can afford to be.

Few powerful spirits are active predators - it stops being useful or satisfying as a way to gain power, after a while. Most predators are good at dream-eating, but little else. Many of the most successful ethereals began as figment-hunters, however. Some even hunt inside Domains, though that's risky. The most bountiful prey is in the Vale of Dreams, with all those human dreamscapes to rade and figments to catch, but it's also the riskiest ground to hunt in, fr fear of Malakim and demons. Some spirits are embarrassed to have once been cannibals, but others accept it as normal. A few even revel in it and continue to devour others when they can. Consumption of disobedient minions or vanquished rivals is not rare even in the upper levels of ethereal society. While some ethereals dislike it, few can claim to have never devoured a figment that bothered them.

Ethereals outnumber celestials - probably by quite a margin - but few can deny that the celestials are the most powerful group in the Marches. Individually, an angel or demon can usually take on spirits that vastly outnumber them without problem, and their willingness to use celestial combat makes them quite fearsome. There are rare ethereals that can match the average celestial, sure, but few can hope to match a powerful celestial, especially a Wordbound, and the weak celestials don't come out to the Far Marches often. Plus, it's like killing a cop - you get the whole rest of their friends out hunting for you. While some ethereals claim the power of celestials is exaggerated, no one forgets what the Purity Crusade did. Thus, most ethereals are hostile and fearful towards celestials, and the exceptions are often bootlickers, sellouts or suicidal, depending on who you ask. Most are not really able to distinguish between the Archangels or the Princes - only a few have even a viable working knowledge of celestial politics. Still, each Superior does deal with ethereals slightly differently.

Everyone knows Blandine. Her servants are despised by those that want to use humans as an Essence farm, but most other ethereals are neutral towards her. Blandine has little interest in them except when they harm humans. A few spirits even get on decently well with angels of Dreams and work to help keep hostile spirits out of the Vale. This works only for spirits motivated by genuine benvolence, however - those seeking reward are turned away.
David ignores the Marches. He tends to allow ethereals to live if they don't encroach on Heavenly territory or harm humans. While he isn't friendly, most ethereals are not especially threatened by Stone.
Dominic is the one that laid down the law forbidding ethereals to go to Earth. This and his strict enforcement of monotheism means that Judges are feared and loathed, though not as much as the Sword, as they rarely come to the Marches. Rumor has it that Dominic sometimes collaborates with sirits, but these rumors are unlikely at best.
Eli was once friend to several of the old gods, before monotheism. Some say his friendship didn't end then, too. Angels of Creation are some of the few angels that ethereals feel they can deal with in good faith, though the older gods hate Eli and his angels for their promotion of the Yahweh cult.

Gabriel is both admired and feared by ethereals. Her volcano is a treat on the horizon, an elemental manifestation of God's power. She is a visionary, a spark seen in many dreamscapes, and has indirectly given life to many ethereals...but she's also a deadly instrument of Yahweh and best avoided.
Janus is rarely seen in the Marches, and his angels take ethereals on a case by case basis. Like other elemental Archangels, Janus has a lot in common with primal spirits, and they see him as a sort of kin, if in the enemy camp. If Heaven needs something acquired from a pagan god or Beleth's Marches, the Wind is who they send, so Windies have sometimes cultivated relationships with ethereal allies.
Jean focuses on the corporeal, but has done projects in the Marches. He has little tolerance for ethereals, however. Angels of Lightning work to limit contact with ethereals and enforce the Earth ban strictly.
Jordi knows that animals dream, but he trusts Blandine to take care of them. He doesn't care about ethereals and rarely has reason to deal with them, but he doesn't mind if his angels befriend them, and some do get on well with animal spirits.
Laurence is hated more than any Archangel by ethereals, with the sole exception of Uriel. Laurence enforces the Earth ban, allows no deals and does not sanction alliances. The presence of an angel of the Sword all but guarantees impossibility in negotiations with spirits.
Marc is pragmatic and is known to communicate at times with powerful spirits or pagan gods. Angels of Trade know who to talk to, and ethereals know that Marc will negotiate.
Michael is uncompromising about the Earth ban...but as long as they know their place, he'll leave them alone. He even respects the old gods a bit. While he is the boot that keeps them under Yahweh's heel, a number of war gods and Struggle spirits admire Michael, and those that hate Hell have worked with angels of War at times.
Novalis is kind to ethereals. Her angels never harm those that don't harm others, though they'll encourage spirits to leave Earth peacefully. Her angels are rare in the Marches, but are treated in as friendly a manner as any angel might be able to expect, save for those spirits that mistake kindness as weakness.
Yves has said that ethereals can have fates and destinies, but has not assigned any angels to minister to them, which most take to mean that ethereal fate and destiny is irrelevant to humanity. His angels tend towards neutrality with ethereals, who regard Yves with a mix of awe, fear and contempt.

Andrealphus has been friendly with love and fertility gods, but always from a dominant position. Some of his demons satisfy their desires in ethereal brothels, but most gods now Andrealphus as a user and abuser...but better than Beleth at times.
Asmodeus wants to keep ethereals in their place. He'll offer Earthly service to subservient lackeys, sure, but he'll destroy any ethereal he finds that isn't serving Hell. It is believed that the Game employs a network of ethereal spies.
Baal was once worshiped as a god, and some ethereals claim he was one, only becoming a demon after he threw in wit Yahweh and then rebelled. The gold gods have mixed feelings towards him - his views on God are similar to theirs, but he treats them as solid inferiors. Still the War will sometimes work with warlike spirits.
Beleth is known to all. Many ethereals serve her for protection and Essence. Those that do not, she ignores, as long as they do not help Heaven and don't poach in her territory. Demons of Nightmares are treated with respect, if some loathing, and spirits rarely dare to be openly hostile to them.
Belial ignores the Marches except to set fire to dreamscapes, spirits and angels at times. This means ethereals do not like him, when they are aware he exists.
Haagenti has adopted some Hunger spirits as pets, and some of his demons like to bully ethereals. For this, they have a bad reputation in the Marches. Still, they don't go there often.
Kobal dislikes Beleth, so he avoids the Marches when he can. Some of the darker trickster gods get support from him, but not usually in ways they like. Demons of Dark Humor are good at making friends when they want something, but the wise do not trust them.
Kronos cares only about human fates, not ethereals. He frowns on spending too much time in the Marches. Ethereals know this and are glad of it.
Lilith deals extensively with ethereals, and even sends 'ambassadors' to major Domains. Many ethereals owe her favors, and they know she can get demons to help them if needed. Because of her, Lilim (especially Frees) tend to be treated slightly better than most demons by ethereals.
Malphas talks to ethereals, and has sometimes convinced them he is their friend. Of course, he is just using them and setting them up against foes.
Nybbas is powerful in the Marches, second only to Beleth in ethereals serving him. He will promote their Images in exchange for cooperation, and crush those who displease him. Still, human Essence isn't channeled exclusively via the Media, much as he likes to pretend otherwise, and some resist his temptations.
Saminga treats all spirits as boring figments to ignore. Some demons once tried to make 'Death Domains' in the Marches. They Domains were created, but did little more than cause a few minor nightmares before they were abandoned entirely.
Valefor's demons usually go to the Marches for theft. Spirits do not trust them, but sometimes make deals with them if needed.
Vapula conducts a little research in the Marches, and treats ethereals as test subjects. While Vapulan demons and artifice spirits are happy to talk ideas, most other ethereals stay far, far away.

Next time: Dealing with outsiders

Spiderfist Island
Feb 19, 2011

In terms of Illusory Time, this part of the review is not late.

Chapter II: Character Creation

So we’re now finally going to the character creation chapter, where we’ll learn how to create a character who can quest for Runes and maybe help to destroy the world in the Hero Wars.


To create a human Adventurer, the player rolls 3D6 for each of the following characteristics. This provides a range of from 3 (low) to 18 (high) for each characteristic and this range gives the basic parameters of human development.

In terms of deviating from AD&D, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree for RuneQuest when it comes to the very basics of how a character is made. One major difference is that “roll 3d6 in order” is the default for RuneQuest, while for AD&D they spend an entire paragraph warning against this specific character generation method in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. That being said, it’s 1978 and the AD&D DMG hasn’t been published yet.

Interestingly enough, what dice you roll for each characteristic changes depending on what your character’s race is. The game assumes that you’re making a human character, but has all the needed rules for PC non-humans in the Monsters chapter. Skimming ahead, RuneQuest deviates from AD&D by statting out monsters based on the same basic rules as PCs (a full set of ability scores/characteristics), so the idea that “players and monsters should use the same design basis” is already present in game design.

Anyways, there are seven characteristics in RuneQuest 2E.
  • Strength/STR: how strong a character is. This limits what weapons and armor they can wear, along with extra weapon damage.
  • Constitution/CON: how healthy a character is. Determines their HP and also their resistance to poison or disease.
  • Size/SIZ: how big a character is. This influences “his ability to do and absorb damage.” High SIZ makes it hard to hide or dodge attacks.
  • Intelligence/INT: the character’s ability to learn and understand new skills and magic spells.
  • Power/POW: the strength of a character’s soul and magical ability. POW allows for better magic, but they also caution that having too high a power level makes it hard to hide. That’s pretty rad.
  • Dexterity/DEX: a character’s speed and coordination. Just like in D&D, this means more than just manual dexterity like it would anywhere else.
  • Charisma/CHA: factors into gaining hirelings and accessing training, along with “various other uses.” Like in AD&D, this isn’t a measure of your beauty. We’ll see how useful CHA is later down the line, they promise.
So, I’m of the opinion that you can learn a lot about a game from looking at their ability scores or their equivalents. They tell you what the game designers think is critical, essential information to know about a character, and how they want to quantify such things as well. So, as someone reading this 40 years later, I’m a bit baffled by what they decided to have for characteristics. Why did they decide to have SIZ as a stat, and make size such a granular thing? Why no “wisdom” or “perception” stat? It appears from this list that RuneQuest 2E’s designers are focused on modeling the game primarily from a perspective of physical combat. Which makes sense, since Steve Perrin was a founding member of the SCA. The fact that over half of the abilities in RuneQuest 2E have the same names and weird definitions as AD&D is testament to its beginnings as Steve Perrin’s own houserules.

Abilities: Basically Everything You Actually Do


Each Adventurer has various abilities which he will be able to improve with training. His characteristics will influence how he does initially with each ability. The following list goes through each major category of abilities and demonstrates with a table how each class of ability is influenced by characteristics.

So, this is the part where we actually see how characteristics affect a PC’s ability to do things. “Abilities” is a catchall term in RuneQuest 2E for all the stuff like actions, passive defenses, HP, and basically every other aspect of a character that isn’t “magical.” As with all the “bend bars/lift gates” stuff in AD&D, modifiers to character abilities are based off of a table and can’t be figured out based on just looking at the characteristics you rolled.

However, unlike AD&D, the conversion from the characteristic number into a % modifier to that ability takes on the exact same format each time, save for HP and damage bonuses:
Characteristic                Characteristic Roll
                    01-04  05-08  09-12  13-16  17-20  Each +4 After

Low-modifying Stat   -5%                         +5%     +5%

High-modifying Stat  -10%   -5%           +5%    +10%    +5%
For an RPG in 1978, it’s nice to see that there’s at least a little mechanical consistency present.

Each ability is modified by at least two different characteristics, and to prove that it’s the most realistic RPG out there, the authors have an explanation as to why for each ability. Of note is the fact that POW modifies just about every ability since it’s a measure of how well-attuned they are to the universe. POW is starting to look like it’s the God Stat of RQ2E both thematically and mechanically.

There are 9 character abilities covered in this chapter:
  1. Attack: how well you can hit an opponent. Attacks in RQ2E are meant to represent multiple feints and stabs rather than a single strike, much like in AD&D. Most of the text implies that the Attack ability is structured in mind of melee combat.

  2. Parry: your ability to deflect blows with a weapon or shield. I’m beginning to notice a definite assumption of melee combat in RQ2E’s rules.

  3. Defense: your ability to dodge attacks, which is a penalty to your opponent’s attack roll. “In modern Japan, they have turned it into the martial art of Aikido, but no one in the ancient world we game in has developed this as a discipline. All Defense is learned through experience.” The text goes on to show how a character’s defense can increase by first 1) successfully dodging an attack within the margin of error caused by your current defense score and 2) succeed on a % roll under their INT score. I believe that this method is used later in RQ2E as well as in later Chaosium works like Call of Cthulhu. With multiple opponents, a character splits up their defense score between each opponent. Sounds like a bit of a bookkeeping headache.

  4. Hit Points: how much you can get hit before dying. This isn’t a +/-% thing, but is instead just a flat bonus or penalty to max HP. Your base HP is equal to your CON score, and your SIZ and POW add a few extra to the score.

  5. Damage Bonus: this is the weird one: first, you average your STR and SIZ, and then you compare it to the table to see if you get an extra bonus die on your damage rolls.

  6. Perception: you ability to notice interesting or strange stuff.

  7. Stealth: your ability to hide and move silently. Unlike most other abilities, high POW and SIZ characteristics are a definite problem if you want to be the Grey Mouser or Garrett.

  8. Manipulation: your ability to work your fingers well. Pickpocketing and trap removal are directly invoked here, which shows how little removed the assumptions of RQ2E are from AD&D for what you’ll be doing.

  9. Knowledge: your book lernin’. All your academic skills are modified by this.
While this isn’t exactly spelled out here, seven of these abilities are essentially your character’s base modifiers for a bunch of related actions. The other two, HP and Damage Bonus, are the odd ones out. Essentially, Abilities are the equivalent of ability score modifiers to skill checks or attack rolls in 3rd/4th/5th Edition D&D.

Improving Characteristics

So, in AD&D, it’s pretty hard to increase a character’s ability scores until they gain access to the wish spell. In RuneQuest 2E, there’s a whole bunch of ways to do so, most of which involve the mechanical concept of training. However, you can’t improve a score past max of dice rolled for characteristic + 3, which is 21 for humans.

The catch though is that only a few of the characteristics (STR, DEX, and CON) can be improved by training, while INT, SIZ, and POW can’t be altered by mundane means. CHA is handled completely differently from the physical stats in terms of improvement, and is “changed by the success or failure of previous ventures which have a definite influence on the Adventurer’s current CHA.” So, basically up to campaign events and Referee fiat, with a few extra rule/suggestions thrown in. In addition, a character’s STR or CON can only be improved up to the levels of some of the related characteristics: CON can only go up to the value of the character’s STR or SIZ, whichever is higher, etc.

So how do you improve a stat? Training! Training is described in Chapter II in terms of the cost to pay the teacher (in silver coins) and the time needed on an hourly basis to increase the stat. The whole aspect of “training as advancement” is something that’s in a lot of games from this era, but I have to say that it really hasn’t aged well. In RuneQuest 2E it isn’t explained whether you’re supposed to handle training as just between-session bookkeeping, or are meant to be role-playing interactions with NPCs. Since the book describes the types of guilds that can offer this training, I’d assume it’s the latter, but who even knows. Hopefully this will be clarified later.

Starting Equipment: A Not-So Classless Game

Of course, this is a realistic fantasy RPG. We’re not finished creating a character until we get our starting gear and cash. So, what do PCs get and how does it vary?

It turns out that RuneQuest 2E determines your starting equipment and wealth based on your character’s social background, which is rolled on a table. I’m not sure how well this translates to humans in regions outside of Dragon Pass or Pavis, let alone for the Elder Races, but I suppose that simplicity is something we should be happy for at this point. Players first roll on a d100 table to get their character’s background (Peasant, Townsman, Barbarian, Poor Noble, Rich Noble, or Very Rich Noble) and then roll for their wealth based on that result. It’s not an even chance for each background, either– you have to roll 00 or (100) on a % roll to be a very rich noble, and Townsman, Barbarian, and Peasant are the most common backgrounds. Rich and Very Rich nobles even have a yearly income unlike the other backgrounds– they have an estate they can go to when they need cash.

In addition to your starting wealth, characters have a pre-defined set of starting items composed of some default stuff and then extra stuff based on your background. It should be noted that only Poor Nobles and above start with a weapon by default. If you want to fight, you need to buy a weapon first, prole. In conclusion, income inequality is a serious issue in the Lunar Empire that can only be addressed by breaking up the too-big-to-fail Temples of the Reaching Moon. Or, in all seriousness, this may be realistic but I don’t find it a very fair system for determining starting PC resources.

The Rurik Sidebars

Starting in Chapter II and continuing throughout the rest of the book are sidebars describing the creation and adventures of the hypothetical PC Rurik and his pals. These are actually pretty useful examples of play that are useful for anyone wanting to see character creation and other mechanics in play. I don’t have too much else to say about this, but the use of the expy Rurik to demonstrate various aspects of RQ2E was really helpful for me when reading this book.

What I Think of All This

By the end of Chapter II it becomes very clear how RuneQuest 2E is more than just a set of house rules for AD&D. Not only are there no classes, but the methods of advancement for PCs are intended to be based on in-game training and learning, rather than an abstracted XP system related to gaining money, killing monsters, or finishing adventures. RQ2E also uses a strong reliance on percentile rolls for basic actions, which are already grouped into seven major types because of the abilities. That being said, the importance and role of abilities aren’t exactly explained well within the rules, at least to a modern audience.

Interestingly enough, there are less decision points in character generation for RQ2E than in AD&D. Nearly everything except your character’s race is randomized during character creation in RuneQuest, and that really just determines what dice you roll for characteristics and what cults you can join later. Everything else is based on dice rolls until the session starts. In AD&D, the randomness is mostly frontloaded in the form of ability score rolls: the rest of character creation is based on choosing a race, then a class, then whatever starting gear they can afford. Character creation in RQ2E is pretty quick, but at the cost of player control over the process.

It’s also neat to note that unlike other systems or houserules of the time, there’s no gender-based penalties or limitations on what stats a PC can have (during character creation, at least). Coupled with the detailed Kyger Litor cult later on, RQ2E's core book probably gets the award for “most feminist or gender egalitarian early RPG” by default.

Next Time: Reader Participation Point!
Do we:
A) move onto Chapter 3: Mechanics and Melee, or
B) don't wait until we finish reading the book, and create Goonalda of the Lowtaxanoli Tribe? (No other input needed, since she's already a default human and that's all you can choose in RQ2E)

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

Windriders Of The Jagged Cliffs Part 6:
Bioengineering for fun and profit

So now we get to the part of the rhul-thaun that's actually a little bit interesting: life-shaping.

First thing we're told is that player characters should not be allowed to be life-shapers: the skills involved are too complex, lengthy and restricted to be available to adventurers. So that's at least a 50% reduction in interest right there. And admittedly, its not like Life-Shaping is all that impressive to begin with...once you get over the novelty of it its easy to realize that advanced psionics or arcane magic leaves it in the dust and even basic stuff like elemental clerics are going to be able to pull off much more impressive poo poo than your average life-shaper.

This is the life-shaped equivalent of this guy

Life Shapers in Society

The book can't really seem to decide whether or not life-shapers are assholes. On the one hand it stresses many, many times that lifeshapers absolutely respect all life and consider their skills an awesome gift and responsibility...but then we're basically told that almost all life-shapers are jerks pulling the strings of Rhul-Thaun society to suit themselves and are more or less a bunch of arrogant little bastards. The only life-shaping sanctuary represented as "good" are the shapers in Glerran who are on the verge of outright rebellion against the traditionalist shapers in Thamasku and are straight-up funding anti-shaper groups in Sar-Tosh.

Despite this, the shapers are granted a huge amount of reverence and respect among halfling society and it isn't hard to see why: they provide all the necessities that keep the cliff communities going like food, transportation and even buildings. Indeed, the entire cliff-dwelling schtick wouldn't work at all without the shapers to provide food that the halflings can't farm on cliffsides and flying creatures to allow the halflings to get from place to place.

A big deal is made of Gil-Ogres, the second-in-command of the lifeshapers of Thamasku (and thus the second in command of basically all lifeshapers), who has been pushing for more and more power for lifeshapers in order to "restore the glory of the past" and, of course, get power for himself. He fosters the belief that life-shapers are superior to other halflings and that the only way to try and regain some of their former abilities is to utterly dominate rhul-thaun society.

But here's the thing...don't they pretty much control everything already? Literally everything from clothing to buildings to food is produced by them and their creations, they have a monopoly on literally every important product and its already stated that the clan leaders will pretty much bend over and kiss their own asses if the life-shapers tell them to, because if they don't then the shapers could simply say "no more food for you until you agree."

So what exactly is it Gil-ogres and his cronies want? More paperwork? They can already pretty much make any demands they wish and its clear that this has been the status quo for centuries if not millennia. The only thing they aren't involved in is the day to day problems of running a city or clan and why would they want to bother with that? A big deal is made of all the scheming and planning going on for gil-ogres bid for power but its not really clear what more the life-shapers could do to dominate halfling society. Do they just want bigger hats?

It even notes that life-shapers have threatened clan leaders with the possibility that they possess a virus that would kill all life-shaped creations. Of course this is false, and ridiculous, considering that no one would have more to lose from that act than the life-shapers themselves.

The only thing that is mentioned as being forbidden to the lifeshapers is experimenting with incomplete or lost life-shaping rituals to try and recreate them...and of course they do that anyway.

I'm sure he knows what he's doing

How Does Life-Shaping Work

The ancient Blue Age halflings started their life-shaping with the discovery of a simple form of coral ("a porous rock-like plant"). It was easy to manipulate and very hardy and so with pruning or growing techniques they could shape it into tools or structures.

Step 2: ????

Then they could manipulate any organism into just about anything.

That's more or less as much detail as we get. The "building block" of life-shaping is a substance called Pith, a kind of primordial soup that contains the basic nutrients and substances common to all living things and takes the form of a clear, syrupy liquid. "various processes" stimulate Pith to produce specific organisms or creatures.

There are three types of life-shaped creations: Creatures, Products and a third type that isn't clearly classified (basically something that's alive but not capable of any kind of independent existence). Creatures are actual animals or beings that have been produced by lifeshaping, they're usually mobile and capable of at least some form of independent action or thought (although they're not sapient). Products are actually be byproducts of other life-shaped creatures (for instance arrowheads produced by a gecko whose scales have been specifically engineered to be hard and sharp and to shed). Products aren't alive and thus don't need to be fed or tended. The third category (things like their living buildings) lack any ability to move, act or think on their own but are still technically alive and so require nourishment and tending of some kind.

A common "subtype" are grafts which are symbiotic organisms designed to become a part of their hosts and draw nutrients from them, in exchange for performing some kind of useful function. Usually they fall into the third category, but some grafts count as separate creatures.

Because they are alive, creatures and (unnamed third category) have hit points and armor class, generally between 1-3 HD. They're not very tough as a rule. Weapons and armor are tougher and can be purchased at greater expense in exchange for more HD.

Here's the sucky bit: every blow (whether you're attacking or being attacked) inflicts 1 damage to your weapon! And you thought the breakage rules for bone or obsidian weapons were bad. Fortunately weapons can heal...but only at the rate of 1 hp per day, that means that you probably have to give your weapon a week off or so after every single fight to get back to full hp! Armor is both better and worse: any damage you take is divided evenly between you and your life-shaped armor. On the one hand this means your armor is going to die very quickly...on the other you're taking half damage. If you've got the cash life-shaped armor is one of the best defenses out there. Of course, if the armor dies then it stops providing any bonus at all.

Life shaped objects have AC 8-10 for soft objects, 4-6 for tough ones and 0 for really tough stuff like armor or weapons. Generally attacking a life-shaped object on your person requires a called shot...but area of effect spells hit not only you but any life-shaped objects!

Oh, and because they're alive they also can suffer from diseases or poisons. In fact, there's a flat 1% chance per week that any life-shaped object you own comes down with some kind of infection, with a 10% chance that the condition is fatal to it! If non-fatal the disease cuts the object's bonuses in half for 1d10 days (-2 to attack for shaped weapons, and a 2 point AC penalty for armor).

Other Weapons and Armor

Not all weapons and armor of the Rhul-thaun are actually living. Most are just products of life shaped creations, for instance leather or chitin harvested from creatures bred to produce it, or creatures bred to produce horns that, when shed, make excellent spear-tips, plants that grow spiked-club branches, that sort of thing. These objects are treated as normal.

In addition they've got the weird stuff: life-shaped weapons and armor available only to halflings. Pictures are provided mainly from Psionic Artifacts of Athas which includes a lot of life-shaped gear...but oddly with very different stats or rules.

Better hope your sword doesn't have a cold

Shell Armor: The halfling equivalent of plate-mail (also comes in "half-shell" for those looking for ninja turtle references). This has 6 HD (5 for half shell) and provides AC 0 (2 for half shell). It's a living shell of hardened chitin supported and held together by fibrous tissues.

Hide Armor: This is a superior form of leather that's tougher, lighter and more durable. In addition to granting AC 7 it cuts the penalties for thief skills in half compared to normal leather. Despite being a "product" it has a listed HD of 3.

Sheath Armor This armor comes in a jar. It's a pot of paste that can be applied all over your body which will then harden in areas that you don't flex (so your joints remain free). It provides AC 4 and has 4 HD. A special version "Hidden Sheath" armor is actually a creature, reacting to blows by hardening but staying clear and flexible otherwise. It stays hard until 10 rounds have passed without an attack.

Climbers Shield This is a mushroom-looking creature whose stalk is a tentacle grafted to your back. The "cap" is chitinous and tough and it is capable of detecting attacks and moving itself to block it. Since it mounts to the back or shoulders it makes very good protection while climbing. It has 3 HD.

Spineshield: Also a creature whose limbs wrap around your arm like a normal shield but it is capable of launching the spikes on its back against your foes (but you sacrifice its shield use when firing it or smacking someone with it). It's got 2 HD.

Armblade: This is a 4 HD graft that is basically an organic sword attached to the back of your arm. It does more damage than a shortsword (1d8) and you can't be disarmed and your hand remains free to hold stuff. There's also the "armspike" which is less damaging (1d6) but slightly cheaper.

Clawgrafts: Tiny little sharp grafts which meld to your fingertips. They give you a claw attack depending on how many grafts you have on a hand: 1 claw is one point of damage, 2-3 inflicts 1d3 damage. 4-5 inflict 1d6. They have 4 HD, presumably that's per individual claw.

Deathspray: I'd just like to remind you that the halflings love and revere all life. The Deathspray is a poison squirt gun. Hitting someone with the spray of liquid requires an attack roll and it can only hit a target up to 15 feet away. The victim has to be sprayed in the eyes, nose or mouth (there's no specified penalty for this, presumably you just have to be able to target those parts of the body) and takes 1d6 damage from the caustic fluid. They are also exposed to type H poison...which is really weak. It does 20 damage (10 on a save) and has an onset time of 1d4 hours. 4 HD.

Flashlance: A spear which is actually a creature with a rapid-fire "headbutt". Essentially by squeezing the base the spear telescopes rapidly and then retracts to its normal size in a flash, inflicting 1d10 rather than 1d6 damage. It's not clear why it even has an entry for using it as a normal spear. 6 HD.

Grappler: This is sort of like the Deathspray except instead of shooting out bio-engineered pepper spray it fires a mass of tendrils which entangle and yank whatever it hits. The cords reach up to 30 feet and those entangled have a 50% chance to have their arms trapped, preventing any arm use and either way they lose Dex and shield bonuses and have a 25% chance to be pulled to the ground. Escaping requires a bend/bars lift gates roll (meaning, almost impossible for most people). The biggest disadvantage is that it takes 1d6 rounds for the tendrils to retract into the creature after the victim is freed. 6 HD.

Hurling Titan: Remember mercurial weapons from 3.5? Well this is their dad. The Hurling Titan is a huge (for a halfling) maul or mace with a liquid filled core, which means it does more damage than you would think (1d8). So not very impressive (and despite the name it can't be thrown).

Life Leech: The life leech is a 7 foot polearm with a 2 inch ball on the end. It isn't actually very tough at all (3 HD) but when tapped against a creature the ball absorbs nutrients and water from them, inflicting 1d12 damage...except it also apparently injects a sedative causing any future attacks with a life leech against the target in the next 24 hours to inflict only 1d6 damage. Seems kind of stupid, maybe it was originally designed as a piece of medical equipment and the halflings just lost the manual so they've been awkwardly using it as a crappy weapon. It's noted that it requires "special combat techniques" since its too delicate to be swung hard...but no mention as to what that actually means.

Mandibles: This is just a halfling sized mancatcher polearm, except if you don't want to catch someone you can just have the thing give them a nasty pinch for 1d6 damage. Considering its meant as a way to imprison someone its surprisingly flimsy: 3 HD.

Quickstrike: The shortsword to the armblade's longsword. The quickstrike works much like an armblade except its blade is retractable, allowing it to be concealed under long sleeves and making it much easier to handle day to day life. 4 HD.

Don't ask how that's supposed to fit in that critter

Shockstick: This is an oddly adorable little creature who folds up its hard shelled body into a ball and stiffens its long tail, turning itself into a mini-mace (1d6 damage) and the first blow and every 3 strikes afterwards it'll generate an electric shock for an additional 1d6 damage. 3 HD.

Spinethrower: The spinethrower is a kind of spiked mace which can be used as a melee weapon (1d6+1 damage) but is primarily used to launch spines as a ranged attack. Each attack launches 1d6 spines and each spine inflicts 1d3 damage and requires a separate attack roll. Spinethrowers have 1d4x10 spines and regrows its spines in 1d4 days. 4 HD

Spore Pods: Bio grenades! They look like tiny eggs and produce a 10 foot radius cloud of gas when thrown. They come in three varieties: irritating (one round stun, then -1 to hit and damage for 1d4 days), sleep (1d4+1 rounds of sleep) and Poison (2d6 minutes onset, 30/15 damage). Obviously the sleep grenade is by far the most effective.

Warstaff: The halfling answer to the gythka. The warstaff is the weapon you see in the picture of two fighting halflings above, a staff with bulbous heads that project bladed points. Inflicts 1d8+1 damage and has 4 HD.

Splitting this post in two. next one will handle life-shaped equipment and general use items.

Nov 6, 2011

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

"You know all this cool stuff we spend half the book talking about? *Never* let your players do *anything* interesting with it, *ever*."


Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

Not to mention that one thing Dark Sun does not need more of is weapon-degradation rules. Not only do you have to worry about killing your weapon by hitting someone too many times, some of these have to be fed and watered and even can get sick!

Aug 23, 2009

"Don't feel bad about not getting any of the cool stuff in the book! It all actually sucks!"

Spiderfist Island
Feb 19, 2011

IIRC, during the 3.X era some fans made officially sanctioned 3rd edition rules for the Dark Sun setting that continued where the metaplot ended off. One of the few "published" books was a 3.5 update of most of this information, with the addition of rules for playing lifeshapers!

... which was a prestige class.

The fact that life-shaped creatures in the 3.5 book aren't technically, you know, alive but instead are golems with a subtype similar to the Living Construct tag kind of further negates the initial premise of the whole magic art. As someone who got interested in Dark Sun during the 3.X era, I'm ultimately really glad that they reset the entire setting to just after Kalak's death in the 4th Edition books.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011



Instruments: Musical instruments for characters who study music or use music when casting magic. These can have the Foci add-on applied to them and the item chart includes entries for drum sets and pianos. I like this section only because it gives me a host of amusing mental images of witches casting spells with gongs, keytars, and theremin.

I tried to make my first Unknown Armies character a theremin-wielding Adept, but it's not the most portable instrument. You can simulate them on smartphones now but that defeats the point of waving your hands around to do magick.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

18 Extra Feats is a D&D 5th Edition DM's Guild product by someone named Igor PhoenixRion that's currently retailing for a buck. I'm not going to go through the whole thing because drat, it's a 5 page PDF with 18 feats for a buck, but there's this one particular feat I want to bring up because it's just too perfect for this thread:



Prerequisite: Charisma 13 or higher

You are a notorious wencher, easily making your way with the opposite sex and using it for your own purpose. You gain the following benefits:

• You have advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) and Charisma (Deception) checks when you deal with a person of the opposite sex, if that person is not hostile.

• When you are in combat against a person of the opposite sex, and that person makes an attack against you, you can use your reaction to say some biting or honey words and impose disadvantage on that attack roll.

• When you are trying to charm a person of the opposite sex with a spell, that person has disadvantage on the saving throws against this spell.

These benefits work only against targets who can be naturally attracted by you.

The rest of the material is not much better. We're talking on the scale of "if you fall from a height of 20 feet or less, you can use your Reaction to land on your feet instead of falling prone, and you take half damage from the fall"

Mind you, a feat is supposed to be in competition with a +2 to an ability score.

The Crotch
Oct 16, 2012

by Nyc_Tattoo

Please tell me there are also feats called "Cherchez la Femme" and "Confirmed Bachelor".


For when you want to give your bro a good back rub.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013

Confirmed Bachelor may be the best Fallout perk ever, if only for making people upset by gay men being strictly better than straight men mechanically.

Aug 21, 2007

The tools of a hero mean nothing without a solid core.

All I can imagine from Heartbreaker is along the lines of
"The dire badger hits you for 18 damage."
"Ah, but is it a female dire badger?"

Sep 23, 2007

Spiderfist Island posted:

The fact that life-shaped creatures in the 3.5 book aren't technically, you know, alive but instead are golems with a subtype similar to the Living Construct tag kind of further negates the initial premise of the whole magic art. As someone who got interested in Dark Sun during the 3.X era, I'm ultimately really glad that they reset the entire setting to just after Kalak's death in the 4th Edition books.
As someone who played it back in the 2e days, I'm glad about this too. Most of the metaplot dumbness was exclusive to the novel lines and dumped all at once in the revised core, just in case you forgot where TSR was actually making its money. Hope you weren't planning to use certain prominent antagonists! Or even try to keep to the brutal post-apocalypse fantasy theme.

It's kind of a shame too. The Revised edition Dark Sun map had a lot of cool-sounding locations and interesting ideas, but it withered on the vine before ever really exploring much of it. Then again, considering the rest of the revised supplements that might be for the best...

Jan 7, 2015

gradenko_2000 posted:

18 Extra Feats is a D&D 5th Edition DM's Guild product by someone named Igor PhoenixRion that's currently retailing for a buck. I'm not going to go through the whole thing because drat, it's a 5 page PDF with 18 feats for a buck, but there's this one particular feat I want to bring up because it's just too perfect for this thread:

The rest of the material is not much better. We're talking on the scale of "if you fall from a height of 20 feet or less, you can use your Reaction to land on your feet instead of falling prone, and you take half damage from the fall"

Mind you, a feat is supposed to be in competition with a +2 to an ability score.

If I ever go around to making my own heartbreaker RPG, I'll make sure to crank this up to 11 and split every social interaction skill/ability into "same sex" and "opposite sex" versions. Maybe also the other skills/abilites ("Let's make armor for the opposite sex!"). And stats. And then I relase a supplement about hermaphrodites and transgender people.

"The gently caress do I roll against a genderfluid target?"
"Well, roll a d20. On a 1-10, you use your same sex skill..."

"What skill do I use against an Eldritch horror?"
"You take the average of your same and opposite sex skill - unless the monster has some phallic symbolism going on."

Doresh fucked around with this message at 10:05 on Mar 27, 2016

Apr 10, 2013

by Smythe

gradenko_2000 posted:

18 Extra Feats is a D&D 5th Edition DM's Guild product by someone named Igor PhoenixRion that's currently retailing for a buck. I'm not going to go through the whole thing because drat, it's a 5 page PDF with 18 feats for a buck, but there's this one particular feat I want to bring up because it's just too perfect for this thread:

The rest of the material is not much better. We're talking on the scale of "if you fall from a height of 20 feet or less, you can use your Reaction to land on your feet instead of falling prone, and you take half damage from the fall"

Mind you, a feat is supposed to be in competition with a +2 to an ability score.

Wow, that's really a piece of heteronormative, homophobic crap. 5e really has the poo poo audience it deserves.

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?

(it's a Black Tokyo supplement)

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

PurpleXVI posted:

(it's a Black Tokyo supplement)
I glanced at that and saw Jet Girl, Jet Girl and Girl Standing on Office Swivel Chair.

Feb 13, 2012

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

PurpleXVI posted:

(it's a Black Tokyo supplement)


Chris Field, how do you FUNCTION.

May 28, 2004

Strong And/Or Free

This is about that fetish where people want to gently caress planes, isn't it?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Nah, this can be pinpointed to Strike Witches, a horrible anime about girls who are also planes and fight in wars and are supposed to be cute.

This is kind of a genre in anime. A really lovely genre.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Nancy_Noxious posted:

Wow, that's really a piece of heteronormative, homophobic crap. 5e really has the poo poo audience it deserves.

I mean I could sort of understand whenever this comes up in System Mastery from a book published while or before Bill Clinton was President, but this thing was written in 20-goddamned-16.

Dec 23, 2012

Mors Rattus posted:

Nah, this can be pinpointed to Strike Witches, a horrible anime about girls who are also planes and fight in wars and are supposed to be cute.
You're mixing Strike Witches up with Kancolle. In Strike Witches the girls are WWII fighter pilots who fly with magical thigh-high engines, united against an alien invasion.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Why do you know that?

Jan 7, 2015

Mors Rattus posted:

Nah, this can be pinpointed to Strike Witches, a horrible anime about girls who are also planes and fight in wars and are supposed to be cute.

This is kind of a genre in anime. A really lovely genre.

I guess Chris sorta "improves" on the formula because his Not-Strike-Witches aren't underaged girls (at least from the looks of it) and actually wear clothes that cover their panties. Progess? Oh wait, there's a furry.

And I really don't get this genre. If you're gonna make mecha musume, don't just stop at the legs. Make it loose power armor or something.

Mors Rattus posted:

Why do you know that?

Anime 101, n00b.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 15:38 on Mar 27, 2016

Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten

The main characters of Strike Witches are named after actual historical pilots, one of whom is still alive as of this post.

I really hope nobody told him.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ethereal Player's Guide: It's Time To Play The Music

Angels rarely get a friendly reception from ethereals. Angels of Dreams and the Sword are those most commonly met, and they tend to be seen as existing just to keep ethereals in line. In fact, they tend to be there to protect humans in Heaven's territory, and even the March Guardians of the Sowrd rarely pursue the spirits they drive off. But occasionally, angels will go hunting for ethereals on Heaven's wanted list, and these teams have been known to be rather indiscriminate in their violence. Thus, when spirits see angels, they expect trouble and either hide or get ready to fight. There are exceptions - a few spirits work with Heaven and sometimes there's been deals made with pagan gods. Since ethereals can't enter Heaven, these negotiations must be done in the Marches, and if invited, angels will be given safe passage and even a guide. The unexpected, however, have to get past a lot of fear and resentment, and will need to convince spirits both that they're not here to kill people and that there's a reason to cooperate. There are, however, spirits that hang out around the Vale, ready to help in exchange for Essence or protection. They tend to be weak, know very little and be mostly useful as guides. If more specific assistance is needed, it's best to consult an experienced negotiator. Dreams has a few, as does Trade. Laurence's Guardians often know quite a bit, but rarely admit to personal knowledge of any ethereals.

As with angels, demons are feared...but spirits are more willing to negotiate with them. Hell is known to be about self-interest, and so spirits can understand how to deal with them. Some thereals, of course, are automatically hostile to demons, but most are not. They do, however, expect demons to be selfish, treacherous and exploitative, so they'll demand whatever they can get away with for any service. Ethereals in service to Beleth are always nominally friendly to her demons, and even the independents try not to offend Nightmares. Demons thus have the best luck when Nightmares is around to help. Lilith can always get help, too...for a price. The Media's often got weak spirits sucking up to them, but little respect from ethereals with power. Of course, there is the problem that some Princes, like Baal, Malphas or Kobal, actively antagonize ethereals for fun.

Most ethereals find the War irrelevant and care nothing for human souls. They don't expect either side will be nice to them if they win, so most would prefer Armageddon to never come. However, spirits do know celestials obsess over the War, and they'll happily take advantage of that if they can. Some even have ideological affinities with a side. The Hindu gods, for example, are unofficial allies of Heaven. Other spirits throw in with whichever side seems to be losing, in the hopes of prolonging the war, while others, like the Aztecs or Norse pantheons, try to arrange for their own sides in accordance with their own apocalyptic myths. Ethereals that sign up to take part in the War for one side are rare, but do get special privileges, rather like Soldiers. Dominic does not officially permit this, but Judgment will rarely smite an etheral who is clearly aiding Heaven.

Most humans in the Marches are dreamers. A few do travel beyond, however. Some are ethereal half-breeds, though most of these were wiped out long ago. A rare few of these are gorgons, monstrous humans who are warped by their nature. Ethereals often try to identify and hide or protect their half-breed children, and will teach them how to survive and hide in the Marches. Any human that learns the Dreaming skill can also become a lucid dreamer. Most are unaware of the Marches and never exit their dreamscapes, but a few learn how or are taught as Soldiers. Without a guide, hostile spirits are likely to harm those who have no patron, but some survive. Most Soldiers and sorcerers aren't lucid dreamers, but some learn. They can get in over their heads easily, but Dreams and Nightmares both try to train them on how to survive in the Marches. Saints rarely spend time in the Marches, but they can use the Dreaming skill much like celestials...except that, as humans, they retain personal dreamscapes and all the protections they offer. Undead, on the other hand, do not have dreamscapes. In fact, they can't even enter the Marches without the Corporeal Song of Dreams or the Dream-Walking attunement. And dream-shades we've discussed before.

Most ethereals want to go to Earth. It's a source of freedom and Essence. Spirits there have many powers, but survival is much easier with human help. Those who remain in the Marches also benefit from humans assisting them, if only by sending Essence. There's a number of ways ethereals can deal with mortals. Not all humans realize they're helping ethereals. Spirits will dupe them, making phony cults or even working with knowing collaborators to fool others and gain Essence. After all, an ethereal can spy on dreams and offer you lots of benefits from that information. Besides Essence, spirits get material aid on Earth this way - shelter, allies, funds and so on. Some even try to build a power base to resist the Host, but most have more modest desires.

A few old gods retain pagan worshippers, and some are even getting a resurgence thanks to neo-paganism. Most have no real contact with a spirit. However, ethereals do pay attention to their believers, if they can find them. (They don't always know where the Essence is coming from, see.) Worshippers who are dedicated and sincere and have the potential to be useful may even get personal visits. Of course, they may also be visited by someone masquearding as their god - stealing worshipers isn't uncommon, given the limited supply of pagans. The ethics of pagans in service to a god vary. Most see themselves as benign, but might do bad things if their god tells them to. Some gods actually do care about their worshippers, but others just want Essence and power. Most try to keep their followers away from angels, and tend to seek out the more anti-Christian pagans. Most gods also prefer to aovid demons, but some will ally with sorcerers or Hellsworn, and some that serve Beleth will even lead their worshippers into the clutches of demons for indoctrination.

Worship is not, of course, the only way to gain Essence - the right kind of belief works just as well. At least two tribes of ethereals masquerade as space aliens, both in dreams and in the real world, to gain Essence. Likewise, the many Santas, Easter Bunnies and Sherlock Holmeses all benefit from belief that is not true worship. They are unlikely to manifest corporeally, but can manipulate people into serving them via dream messages.

Sorcerers can be useful...though the Hellsworn ones are off-limits to ethereals. Those that aren't already bought by Hell are valuable resources, though, if you have some knowledge to trade them. Ethereals rarely establish longterm relations with sorcerers, though, because demons of Fate are zealous in killing any they don't control. Sorcerers are rarely stable enough to avoid attention for long periods, so it's best to just use them and move on.

Ethereals are explicitly fictive in nature, creatures of story and dream. But it's not fiction to them. They don't abide by the conventions of stories because they're convention, but because it is their nature. They take their lives seriously. Sure, humans can acknowledge the absurdity of sex while retaining a sex drive. And a minotaur can grasp why it's funny to spend his whole life guarding a labyrinth...but he has the drive to do it anyway. Dream and legend ultimately relies on the human ability to reach for and grab the stars. Ethereals, built from these dreams, do not think small. Nightmare tempers them with fear of extinction, sure, which keeps most from rising above their origins...but they aren't petty. If a spirit sees a chance to achieve some greater goal, they can rise above. Even the smallest ethereal has a higher purpose. They don't have Words, and usually their amibiton relates to personal power or fulfilling the purpose of their Image. Some, however, also seek to advance belief in the world, either in themselves or in a set of values they hold dear. Since gods tend to have afew concrete concepts linked to them, they may also want to increase the strength of those concepts.

We've been talking about Image a lot so far. What is it? Ethereals come into existence with a sense of purpose, an integral part of a human dream or cultural legend. They know who their foes and allies are from birth, what their role is. They carry that little piece of their origin with them. They leave the dreams that created them, but the dream remains a part of them. Humans try to find purpose. Ethereals don't - they know their purpose. They struggle to transcend their roles and natures. The spirits refer to this original nature as the mask or Image. A dream image of a police officer can become its own person - but it still has the Image of a cop. Multiple ethereals can share an Image, though details usually vary. Ethereals who share the same Image tend to become either strong allies or vicious foes, with little in between. Image describes something more important than your appearance - that's changeable. Your Image is your inner self. You can grow beyond your Image, and many do, but you can't escape it. If your Image is a master spy, no matter what you do, at heart you remain a spy. You can settle down as a gardener, but your old skills and identity are always with you.

Figments of all kinds are common as dirt, but only a few awakened spirits possess true self-awareness. In recognizing their nature, they transcend their origins. The most common ethereal philosophy defines your typical figment as an automaton - complex, but ultimately finite. An ethereal with self-awareness got it when a new layer of complexity infused them, opening up infinite, non-deterministic potential. Etherals tend to argue a lot about what that new layer was - some say a formless, mindless consciousness blends with the dream from outside reality. Others say ethereals that awaken are the dreams of the Marches itself. A few hold to theories of emergent complexity, or that ethereals steal a bit of soul from their dreamer. Almost all ethereals, however, believe that transcending their nature and Image is both philosophically important and vital to survival. Still, they view their Images in many ways.

Many ethereals see the Image as a sort of seed of the person they should be. A mailman naturally seeks work as a messenger. As their strength grows, they may look higher - into delivering diseases and curses to their foes, into carrying weather or the moon through the sky. They take their Image as a sort of microcosm for their destiny, giving them a purpose to realize on a larger scale. A fringe bleief, the Divers' Metaphysic, has become the common parlance on this. It holds that the Marches hate self-awarenss, and like an oyster, they try to smother ethereals by covering them in a layer of dream. EThereals cannot survive without these dream layers, and ultimately, they either absorb the layers into themselves, becoming 'pearlescent' in scope, or they die under the weight of dream. This touches on a major theme in post-Crusade ethereal beliefs: stasis and contentment lead to death.

Ethereals with seriously inconsistent Images - a Caucasian Australian aborigine or a killer tiger with a human personality, say - have a difficult choice. Being themselves can make it hard to find a suitable home or lifestyle. The alternative, however, is to reject all or part of their Image, the 'chains of the flesh.' And rejecting part of your nature doesn't exactly make it go away. Oftne, that missing aspect lurks just beneath the surface, waiting for their will to waver. It manifests itself in small ways - perhaps a shadow that doesn't match a form, or footsteps that sound like the 'other self.' Ethereal 'messiahs' show up every few centuries to denounce Images as a base constraint on the higher self, arguing that an ethereal sentience can detch from dream-stuff and become a creature of pure will. Some hold this as a route to enlightenment, others as a path to God's power. No one faults hte motivations, but these messiahs usually run into a few problems. First, few ethereals can conceive of a life that completely transcends their Image. Second, most of these messiahs have a variant on Holy Martyr as their Image, which makes them seem rather hypocritical.

Some ethereals take their Image as a symbol and metaphor of their nature. It doesn't define them - it represents them, like a totem or a flag. They cherish their Image as a sacred truth about themselves, rather than a bit of dreamstuff that shapes them. A nightmare of a teacher might choose to take their nature not as a call to horrify, but as a metaphor, and become a patron of teachers, helping them by 'removing' officials and parents that try to interfere with proper education. Ethereals sometimes ascribe the creation of life to the mindless Chaos, who wielded a sword that cut a hole in the Marches, from which magination and inspiration bubbled up. It takes only one drop of this inspiration in a mortal's dream to create an ethereal, they say, and to bathe in its waters would be to achieve perfection. Some ethereals see their Image, metaphorically or literally, as the key by which they access this primal inspiration, and by meditating on their Image, they can open the door to its endless wells.

The first ethereal to formally identify a basic truth was Kelinci, a noble martyred in the Purity Crusade. She saw that when an ethereal is within an environment resembling that from which it was created, the ethereal becomes a bit more real. The experience invigorates it, it feels good. Some thereals even get addicted to the sensation, which can be a problem when their native environment is 'high adventure' or 'a ruthless environment of double-dealing.' Many ethereal see their Image as a bond between themselves and their appropriate environment. A unicorn's identity gives it a tie to the wild and fae, no matter what it goes. No matter what it does, the forest will be its home field. Unless it utterly alters its nature, it will retain a sense of place there. This choice isn't binary - a unicorn need neither totally embrace nor reject this about itself. It could draw on that natural understanding of forest and faerie to become a guardian spirit of the woods or a librarian in Avalon. It might abandon its shape as a unicorn without ever abandoning its sense for that natural environment - about equivalent to a human changing their job and focus without changing the general field they work in.

As a general rule, ethereals are pretty good at what their Image is about. Nightmare monsters are good at catching and eating kids. Gunslingers can shoot well. Unicorns can detect virgins. Some ethereals, however, have the Image of a screw-up, so they may well be bad at their supposed specialties, if the dream they came from was of someone bad at their job. These ethereals usually get an Image bonus when doing something wrong. When an ethereal fulfills its Image in a grand way, it often becomes more potent. This is known as Image enhancement. Skilled and heroic Images are hard to enhance - but a screw-up's easy. Just make a few really colossal blunders. A few incompetent ethereals have hosed up so much and so badly as to be nearly immortal and omnipotent, their jinx foiling any attempt to destroy them - and their attempts to destroy themselves.

Under normal circumstances, your Image never changes. Even gods rarely change their basic nature. Those ethereals that want to change their Image usually just take a new shape and start lying about what they are. EThereal PCs that want a new Image do have some options, hgowever. The best surgeons of the Marches know techniques that can alter your nature. These results are crude and often fatal, but Asklepios, Avicenna, Chiron, Hiawath'a and similar ethereals have had successes. An ethereal who tries to assume a god's place using a ritual challenge likewise either dies or is massively transformed. Finally, certain natural features of the Far Marches can alter your nature. Thus, a player can have their character seek change this way, or ask the GM to allow a retroactive change, and have had their spirit lying all along about what their Image actually was.

Next time: Power

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

wdarkk posted:

The main characters of Strike Witches are named after actual historical pilots, one of whom is still alive as of this post.

I really hope nobody told him.

Chuck Yeager? I think he knows and either it was couched as an honor and no one told him of the fetish material behind it or he just doesn't care.

Jan 7, 2015

Young Freud posted:

Chuck Yeager? I think he knows and either it was couched as an honor and no one told him of the fetish material behind it or he just doesn't care.

The funnier - but highly unlikely - alternative is that he owns a bunch of figuarts and hugging pillows of "himself".

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

NHP advocate.

Spiderfist Island posted:

B) don't wait until we finish reading the book, and create Goonalda of the Lowtaxanoli Tribe? (No other input needed, since she's already a default human and that's all you can choose in RQ2E)[/b]

Not an empty quote.

Dec 24, 2007

Doresh posted:

The funnier - but highly unlikely - alternative is that he owns a bunch of figuarts and hugging pillows of "himself".

This is now canon.

Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Chapter 10: The Book of Magick: Part I: Casting Magick

M20 posted:

The ultimate irony of the Ascension War is that everyone’s basically doing the same thing, yet they’re killing one another over their impression of how and why they do it.
If you don't believe in Chaos Magick, you're an idiot.

To cast magick in M20, you need to answer four questions:

M20 posted:

What do I WANT to do, and HOW will I do it?
Can I use what I KNOW to get what I WANT?
Did I succeed or not? And…
What happens either way?

Five questions. Five questions, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. Six questions...

Magick in Mage works by a series of rules (that are universal, and a close approximation to how the metaphysical rules of MTAs works) that are based on the mage's ability to capital-W Will things as they please. How they Will things is, otherwise, arbitrary (except for all those focus rules you need to follow). To wit:

M20 posted:

That’s true even for the simplest Rank 1 perception Effects. You could have three Virtual Adepts using the same Effect in three different ways: one might activate a scanning app on his cell phone; the second could close her eyes, do some three-part yoga breathing, and extend her senses outward; and the third takes a few hits off a joint, open his eyes and sees deeper than the usual levels of human perception.
Paradigm? What's that? Nah, you might believe that the entire world is a computer simulation, but marijuana and yoga are how you cast magick.

OK, so you want to cast magick. So you answer the five questions, which involves a four-step process:

M20 posted:

Step One – Effect: Based on your character’s abilities and needs, decide what you want to do and how you want to do it. This is called the Effect: the thing you want to accomplish with your magick.

Step Two – Ability: Based on your mage’s focus and Spheres, figure out if you can create the Effect you want to create… and if so, how your character will make it happen in story terms.

Step Three – Roll: Roll one die for every dot in your Arete Trait. The difficulty depends upon the Effect you’re trying to use; whether it’s vulgar or coincidental; and whether or not someone’s watching you.

Step Four – Results: The number of successes that you roll determines whether or not you succeed. If you fall short of your goal, you may roll again on subsequent turns in order to get more successes. (See Rituals, Rolls,
and Extended Successes, pp. 538-542.) If you fail, the Effect fizzles out. And if you botch, bad things happen.
Step 1 and Step 2 are the same...

That's all there is to casting magick: You need to go through a fourthree-step process to answer fourfive questions.

After an explanation of Paradox, there's many many pages of tables and charts for casting magick with MTAs' freeform magick system. And the charts are... something. The tables for determining the Arete roll to succeed and the Paradox effects are perfectly adequate (and unlike certain earlier MTAs books, are not positioned at an oblique angle to the page, thankfully). Exactly how to determine the number of successes necessary to accomplish something with magick is somewhat difficult, since it uses a table of examples. And perhaps it's just my borderline autism speaking[1], but I've never really found examples and descriptions to be good guidelines for determining other things; 5-10 successes are necessary to create simple life-forms[2], blowing up buildings, summoning Otherworldly creatures, having absolute control of a mob of people... but what can I do with Time magick at 5-10 successes? Entropy? Prime? For that matter, how big is the mob in question? It's somewhere between 2 and 200 people, but no further guidance is given.

The problem with using inexact language to describe in-game effects is that it easily creates a situation where two people have different opinions on what something means. To Alice, "a mob" is about 12 people. To Bob, it's about 70. So when Bob reads in the rules that he can command 70-ish people, he comes across a situation where he thinks "right now, I'm going to use my magick to command as many as possible in this group of 100 people". Then Bob's ST Alice sees Bob roll 10 successes and says "you now command 12 of them". And this is a lovely situation to place Alice and Bob in, because Bob feels disappointed and Alice can't really go back on it. Well, she could, but Alice knew that Bob could mind-control 12 people and made the group number 100; if she knew Bob could mind-control 70, she might have made the group number 550 people. Besides, having to do this negotiation over every single power that's ambiguously described takes a lot of time.

Yes, Alice, Bob, and their friends could all sit down ahead of time and work out exactly how many people 10 successes can mind-control, but a) that's what the 700-page book on playing MTAs is for, and b) the book makes no indication that they should do this.

[1] I can cry about ableism though, right?
[2] And what is a "simple" life-form, and what distinguishes it from a complex life-form? Is there a standard for this? Do I have to count base-pairs in their genome? Distinct organs? How often they're used to "disprove" evolution on creationist talkshows?

There's a table of difficulty modifiers, and a "personalized instrument" and a "unique instrument" each add -1 Difficulty. So far OK. An "unfamiliar instrument" gives "+2/+1" to the Difficulty, which I'm supposed to interpret how? A personal item from the target gives "-1 to -3" (note the inconsistent notation between unfamiliar instruments and personal items), with no further elaboration. And then there's this note at the bottom:

M20 posted:

Minimum difficulty 3, maximum difficulty 10. If you employ the Thresholds option, max difficulty is 9; in the latter case, extra modifiers add to threshold, requiring one additional success per +1 difficulty modifier.

Modifiers that would take the difficulty above 10 add additional successes at a one-to-one ratio; a +3 modifier to difficulty 10, for example, would demand at least three successes.

If you use both the threshold option and modifiers that take the difficulty above 10, then each additional +1 difficulty over 9 demands an extra success. A +3 modifier to difficulty 9 would require at least three successes.
If you don't remember what Thresholds are, don't worry, there are no pointers to which page said rule is written up on here.

First, I wish to note the irony that while the Threshold is presented as an optional rule, the rules for magick need to write up a functionally near-identical version of it anyway, to let difficulties increase beyond 10. You might remember that this is the same thing that happened with the core rules anyway, where Degrees of Success are already a thing. Then, additionally, the third line repeats the latter half of line one for no reason; that +1 difficulty increases the required Degrees of Success by +1. Good job, Lindsay Woodstock! It's also somewhat interesting to note that Degrees of Success are used for two things. First, DoS is used to determine whether you can accomplish your magickal effect. Further, DoS is used to account for Difficulties higher than 10. However, if Difficulty is higher than 10 and you're casting something with a high DoS, the required DoS is not increased.

For example, if you have Difficulty 8 and a minimum DoS of 3, it's pretty hard. If you have a Difficulty 10 and a minimum DoS of 3, it's extremely hard. If you have a Difficulty 13 and a Minimum DoS of 3, it's not harder than when Difficulty was 10, because you needed 3 successes anyway. Not that it really matters when the difficulties are so high anyway, but it makes for a strange edge case.

Using Correspondence gives a minimum Degrees of Success based on how far away, or how familiar, you are with the thing. The "Range" tables goes, in increasing order:

M20 posted:

1: Line of Sight
2: Very familiar
3: Familiar
4: Visited once
5: Described location
6: Anywhere on Earth

I realize that in M20, physical or geometrical concepts of "range" are arbitrary illusions, but I still baulk at "Very familiar" and "Visited once" being used to describe distances. (And, again, how am borderline autistic me supposed to discern between "Familiar" and "Very familiar"?)

Damage follows a progression of:

M20 posted:

1: None
2: Two levels
3: Six levels
4: Eight levels
5: Ten levels
6+: Number of Successes x 2
I again note that they use an actual "X" and not a multiplication sign. Bad form.

Mind can usually only cause Bashing damage. Most other spheres cause Lethal. Vulgar Entropy, Life, and Prime can cause Aggravated damage. Prime 2 and a point of Quintessence can let any magickal attack cause Aggravated damage. Time and Correspondence can't cause damage by themselves. Forces gets, effectively, +1 successes when successfully cast, and can deal Aggravated with fire and electricity. Hint: buy Forces.

There's an optional rule that lets you spend excess successes on an Arete roll to get bonus effects. These effects are, notably, more powerful on a per-success basis than the regular effects they replicate. For example, excess successes can be traded for damage at a 1:2 basis, which means that a 2-successes damaging spell does 2 damage, while a 2-successes 1-success not-damage spell does it's usual effect and 2 damage. I think. It says "additional damage", but the rules for using spells to cause harm already specify what additional dice can do, so what's the point? The same applies to duration; spending 1 success to increase duration gives the same effect as 2 successes on a spell rated in terms of duration.

And now my favourite part of the tables; the "I Disbelieve!"-table, which I will quote in it's entirety:

M20 posted:

Believability Difficulty
No loving way! 3
Hard to swallow 4
Implausible 5
Possible 6
Probable 7
Likely 8
Too damned likely! 9

In addition to the usual problems I have with holistic descriptions like this, "probable" and "likely" mean the exact same thing. They're synonyms. Probable is "likely to occur or prove true", while Likely is "probably or apparently destined". Unless you use the definition that has "likely" as "very probable" but I feel the fact that these definitions are not consistent only underlines my point. This table is useless and something inside me dies a little every time I see it.

Similar problems plague the table for determining how powerful magickal illusions are; at three successes you can affect three senses. At four successes, you can affect several senses. At five successes, you can affect multiple senses. At six, the illusion gives "full sensations". Now, tell me, how many senses are included in "several", and is it a different number from the ones in "multiple"? I can guess that it's supposed to be more than two, implicitly (but it would be nice if they hadn't used words that just mean "more than one"...), but it's no help to ST or player. This goes back to my example with Alice and Bob; Bob thinks that his 4-success illusion affects about 5 senses; sight, hearing, touch, smell, and balance, while forgoing the less useful ones like taste, nociception, thermoception, and propriception. Alice meanwhile thinks that "full sensations" is supposed to mean the five traditional senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell), and says that 5 senses is way too much for a mere 4 successes. All of this could have been avoided if old-school White Wolf authors didn't have a crippling phobia of hard numbers.

And you can age people too! Depending on your number of successes, the ageing is "minor", "noticeable", "severe", "to decrepitude", and "to bring of destruction". Now, since it's only at the second level that the ageing becomes noticeable, and "minor aging" is 3 successes, 3 successes of Time magick has basically no effect.

Now, Paradox! The Paradox effects are a glorious mess.

Whenever you acquire 5 or more Paradox on a single roll, you cause a Paradox Backlash. When you trigger a Paradox Backlash, you roll your Paradox rating as a pool. Each success means you lose a dot of Paradox. However, fancy effects happen when you discharge Paradox this way:
Successes: Effect
1-5: 1 level of Bashing damage per success and a Trivial Paradox Flaw
6-10: 1B/success or a Minor Paradox Flaw
11-15: Pick one: 1L/success, Significant Paradox Flaw, Paradox Spirit visitation, or Mild Quiet.
16-20: 1L/success and 1 permanent Paradoxor Pick two: Severe Paradox Flaw; Paradox Spirit visitation, Moderate Quiet, or banishment to a Paradox Realm (Is that damage and either a Paradox flaw or two effects from the list, or either damage and flaw or two effects from the list? )
20+: 1A/2 successes and pick one: 2 permanent Paradox, Drastic Paradox Flaw, Paradox Spirit visitation, severe Quiet, or banishment to a Paradox Realm

It really annoys me how inconsistent it is; at 1-5 successes, you get damage and a Paradox Flaw, while at higher levels it tends to be damage or a Paradox Flaw or some other effect. Now, speaking of those other effects, at 11-15 successes, you can get a mild Quiet. Checking the adjacent Quiet table, 11-15 successes on the Paradox roll is a Level 4 quiet, described as "Mage either gets trapped in a mindscape of his own design, or else behaves so irrationally that he becomes a danger to himself and everyone nearby.", including "Deadly fanaticism", Mindscape or constant hobgoblins", or "Violent sociopathy".


Oh, and Severe Quiet? That's Level 6 and says "Mage goes Marauder and becomes a Storyteller character."

Anyway, Mages can sometimes see auras. This is useful for a number of reasons; you can always tell what mood someone are in, and it also allows the easy identification of other supernatural creatures; Faeries have rainbow-coloured auras, Vampires have pale auras, the ghosts have faded auras, the sick and dying have fading auras, werecreatures have bright and vibrant auras, and I can't tell what Nephandi auras are like because it looks like Brucato has ejaculated onto the page; instead of a sensible entry, it says "Wouldn’t you like to know?". What, has nobody seen a nephandi and lived to tell about it? If nephandi auras are distinct, then surely it would be noticeable what their auras are like? And if nephandi auras look like any other mage's, then wouldn't mages know that you can't tell who is a nephandi? AND IF I'M THE loving ST, WOULDN'T IT BE REALLY USEFUL TO KNOW WHAT MY PLAYERS SEE WHEN THEY LOOK AT A NEPHANDI WITH AURA-SIGHT?

"I look at him with my aura sight. What colour is his aura."
"Uh... 'Wouldn't you like to know?'"
"I would. That's why I'm looking at him with my aura sight. What's his colour?"
"No, seriously, that's what it says: 'Wouldn't you like to know?'"
"Oh, so he's a Nephandi. Right. I blast him with Forces, Prime, and 4 dots of Quintessence."

The last part of this chapter is 2.5 pages of common magical effects and the necessary sphere ratings to cast such magick. Useful, but it's sorted not by the Sphere necessary, but by what the effect is. There's a list of Body Magick feats, including Matter, Life, Prime, and Time effects. Which is great if you need to know how to do something, or if you have almost all the spheres, but if you have only a few spheres, it means you have to look through every single table on those 2.5 pages to learn what you can do. If the feats had been sorted by sphere, it would be easier to just look up your own spheres to see if you can do something.

Argh, this book. It's so bad and Brucato is a smug wanker who can't write rules to save his life.

Next: Part II: The Spheres

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 13:56 on Mar 28, 2016


Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Whenever somebody vomits that kind of nonsense onto a page, it's because they weren't creative enough to come up with something actually good.

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