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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Populism is a specific political trend with a specific origin and for most of its history was associated with working-class, left-wing activism.

It's now regularly employed by the mainstream media as a dogwhistle for "too much democracy is dangerous because poor people are retarded psychopaths."

https://twitter.com/CitationsPod/status/1012058999624265729

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 13:22 on Aug 2, 2018

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Island Nations

The lands of Prince Gespucci Bernoulli mostly run along the eastern coast of Vodacce. They are protected from land forces by swamps, mountains and shallow coastal waters, but they depend on the sea to survive. The cities that have sworn to him are Pioto, Porto Spatia and Saint Andrea, as well as the town of Orduno, whose name is either from Lake Orduno nearby (according to Prince Bernoulli) or a lost bet with a Castillian admiral (according to the locals). The first and greatest of his holdings, however, is the island Potenza, at the mouth of Lake Rosa, which controls all sea trade to Caligari and Falisci lands. The ability to tax their trade and the Bernoulli exclusive license to trade with the Crescents has made Potenza wealthy beyond measure. It is one of the oldest cities in Vodacce, and as it grew from a simple island hamlet, the architecture of the city changed as well. In the ancient center, the streets are cramped and twisty, while further out they are grand boulevards. A hill over the harbor once held a fortress, but now it holds the Bernoulli manse. The manse is an immense creation of white marble, gilding and frescoes, showing off the Bernoulli wealth. However, it is also armed just as heavily as the fortress it was built on top of. In Gespucci's lifetime, no enemy has ever withstood its cannon fire.

Most of Potenza's wealth is from its crafters, called colonelli in the local dialect. This is most apparent in its secretive guild of shipwrights, who operate out of an artificial lagoon behind 30-foot walls, always patrolled by armed guards. They can make a barque in a day or a carrack in a week, and their complex, called il Arsenale, has been very difficult to infiltrate. Most know that membership is hereditary and permanent, and the guild forbids marriage outside its ranks. Within the complex is a huge longhouse made in the shape of an upturned hull. It is called il Bastimiento, and it serves as the guild workshop for all parts of a ship. Work surfaces use the cantilevered decks, with a system of tracks and pulleys to move pieces up, down, fore and aft. If you don't want to wait for one of the traveling platforms, it is common to just swing between the rigging ropes that make the system work. Daylight comes in through large portholes, reflected by mirrors to move it to anywhere it is needed for lighting. At night, chandeliers are lit and meals and celebrations happen.

The outlying districts are known as Gli Ghetti, the ghettos. In 900, the city's population began to run out of island space, and so land was constructed, built out with lumber from the mainland on thousands of wooden pilings sunk into the bay, with stone platforms on top of them. These were used as the foundations of homes, piazzas and more, and the time, salt and dirt of the waters have turned the pilings into something closer to stone than wood. The outlying ghettos are architectural wonders, with streets of water, navigated by single-oared boats. Flooding is frequent, even in wealthy homes, and the people have just gotten used to occasionally having to wade through their own living rooms. Inevitably, some parts of the ghettos fall into the bay every so often. War, storms and earthquakes account for that. These are rarely cleared out - people just build on top of the fallen pieces instead.

Thus was born la Citta Sommersa, the Drowned City. Divers, called somozzatori or frogmen, swim under Potenza, navigating the pilings in search of fallen treasure. Among the young poor, it is common to goad each other to acts of greater daring and longer trips under the city. It is, of course, an extremely dangerous activity. There is essentially no light down there, and you must navigate by touch and memory. The locations of air pockets are closely guarded secrets, as overuse makes them bubbles of death, rarely replenished if ever. It doesn't help that the waters under the city are treated as a dump for everything from sewage to bodies. This is extremely unsanitary, and also pulls in squid, sharks and worse. While there is much wealth to be had under the city, and many sommozatori do become rich, many others die, never returning from their trips beneath.

The biggest, oldest and most beloved festival each year in Potenza is Carnivale. Some say it dates back to the triumph of a Prince over rivals, others to some religious event connected to the First Prophet, others that it was originally a pagan rite. No one actually remembers the truth, and the truth doesn't matter - everyone takes part. All winter, each person works to produce an extravagant costume for Carnivale. Custom and tradition say you must make your own, but more recently, the wealthy hire tailors to do it for them. Doing so is quite scandalous, however, for it goes against the key spirits of Carnivale: equality and anonymity. Anonymity is provided by the secretive colonelli guild of mask-makers, called the mascherari. They stand on street corners wearing fine masks, and can be approached to schedule a home appointment. These appointments are always attended by a mascherari wearing a different mask, though sometimes it's the same person. Once the details are decided, they make and deliver the mask in a locked box. Occasionally, they will give a poor person a far, far finer mask than they can actually afford, to better confuse the issue of class, though they would never make a substandard mask for a rich person. Because of this, only the mascherari can identify the revelers, which makes them extremely powerful. The licentious festivities mean they end up knowing many secrets and shames of the wealthy, which they aren't shy about using to protect their business or advance their goals. During Carnivale, anyone may approach anyone else. The secrecy of the costumes ensures equality of status, with all that matters being the skill of your costuming. All may behave exactly as they desire, and drunkenness and sex are very common, as are pranks. Those who do not take part in the festivities are often thrown into the canals, and even Fate Witches may take part, exchanging their translucent lace veils for fully concealing black silk.

Prince Donello Falisci owns the banks of the Fiume di Vino, from the mountain source north of Sedilo to the mouth on the shore of Lake Rosa. While Vaticine records say its name is Fiume Divino, the River of God, everyone else agrees it is the River of Wine. The grapes grown in Falisci lands are why they are the wealthiest estates in Theah. Falisci wine is so good that lesser nobles have gone bankrupt to buy but one bottle, and even the best courts consider their cellars worthless if they don't have a few of them. Baccante is the chief Falisci city, and it is the Vodacce people imagine exists - rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards. Its wine is famous, and even the worst table wine in all of Baccante is leagues above its equivalent elsewhere. Not that wine is their only export - just the most famous. Baccante does a fair amount of general trade, given its location on a major river. It ships ores from the mountains on down to the sea, for example. Prince Falisci is proud of his lands being open, and he gives excellent price breaks for import and export as long as you do your business in Baccante, making its market one of the best in the region.

This is all because Baccante is a carefully constructed illusion. Prince Falisci may be gentler in his schemes than the others, but he is still a skilled player of the Great Game. Powerful people, lulled by wine and gentle river air, are prone to saying things they shouldn't, and the city is full of Falisci informants. Baccante's carefully maintained appearance has been the work of decades, and the highly skilled bureaucrats that run the city know exactly who pays their wages and where they owe their allegiance. Their warmth and courtesy is an actor's, not a friend's. By making the city appear neutral, by caring for public safety, sanitation and trade, the Faliscis have made themselves a clearinghouse of intelligence from across the continent. The other Princes know the risks of visiting, but also its value. Where else can you catch up on intrigue and gossip from across Theah?

In the ancient Numanari catacombs under Baccante, you can find the city's worst-kept secret: Il Bugiardo, the favored drinking establishment of expats and spies, built into the ossuary itself. It is run by Lelio, an exile from Potenza, who is famous for his many outlandish lies, many of which have a kernel of truth. They're like puzzles to be solved, and those that manage it are usually quite proud of doing so. He, meanwhile, just likes telling stories. Within il Bugiardo, combat is strictly forbidden, as Lelio says it disturbs the dead, whom he is responsible for. Those that disregard this policy often disappear in the catacombs.

While Baccante is the most visible Falisci city, it is not the center of their power. That is La Vigna, half a day north of Baccante. The compound there contains ruins that date back to the Old Empire, tastefully integrated into the modern buildings. The Falisci are masters of entertainment, and even the favorites of Charouse covet an invitation to a La Vigna gala. Their wealth fuels things like wine fountains, the greatest courtesans, delicacies from across the continent and more, all for the select few. Favors are exchanged, treaties brokered. It was here at La Vigna that Morella Giacinni's marriage to Leon Alexandre was formed. The entire villa is set up to facilitate dealmaking and conversation, with many private areas. For things that Prince Falisci considers of great importance, he will invite guests for a tour of his cellars, to sample rare vintages. This is an honor rarely given, and almost always results in the parties involved making a deal (and getting quite drunk).

Between the two cities, one can find the Postumi, 'the hangover,' as the Church of Saint Dorothy in Agony is commonly known. It was built a generation ago to house dishonored women, and quickly became a dumping ground for those who failed to measure up to Vodacce ideas of womanhood. Here, noble and common woman could mix freely, and gain a Vaticine education. The church always claimed they read the lessons to the girls, but if any were caught reading, well, no one who cared was around. Prince Falisci, when he took his family's crown, soon realized the women were among the smartest people he'd ever met. He stayed for some time, discussing theology and history with them, and began to visit frequently. After a few years, the Mother Superior suggested formalizing things, and the Falisci clerks brought over reams of business documents, contracts and even some of their less sensitive diplomatic letters. The analysis of the church women astounded Prince Falisci, as they discovered several merchants cheating the family and even found troubling inconsistences in reports from people considered close allies. The nickname Postumi comes from the clarity and pain that these reports brought. Donello has begun soliciting their opinions on more sensitive topics, even recruiting some of the women as his agents. The relationship has continued to deepen, with the Faliscis providing the women with all their material needs and valuing their input.

Next time: Villanova

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



I just realized that although I have very fond memories of reading old Forgotten Realms supplements on the loo and playing Baldur's Gate, I've never actually read the rules for AD&D. I'd like to fix that! However, I'm a bit broke right now so we'll have to make do with something that's freely available on the Internet:

For Gold & Glory: Old School Roleplaying


(Walter Crane: La belle Dame Sans Merci, oil on canvas, 1865)

The back cover posted:

For players and game masters alike, For Gold & Glory™ is compatible with the second edition of the “advanced” version of the world’s most popular role-playing game.
Nudge nudge wink wink. :smaug:

Said edition of the most popular RPG in the world is something of a mystery to me. While Forgotten Realms supplements for it were my first experience with tabletop role-playing games, I've never actually played that game. My first D&D experience was 3.5, with a group who (like most) didn't much bother with a close reading of the rules and thought Toughness was a good feat. All I know about AD&D I've learned through osmosis and reading the OSR thread.

So let me crack open this book and read it myself for once. I'll try to do a fairly close reading of the material, but spare you the boring bits.


For Gold & Glory: Table of Content, Forewords and Chapter 0: Introduction

The book begins with a clear and helpfully hyperlinked table of contents. It's a big, nearly 400-page book, but the core rules only take up 94 pages. Most of the book is actually appendices, detailing magic (114 pages), treasure (90 pages) and the bestiary (60 pages). The book concludes with an index (thank you so much), one final appendix for OSR legalese, and a character sheet. A list of tables (also clickable) is also included, and I have a feeling I might actually have to reference that every now and then.

I absolutely will not go through the appendices spell by spell and monster by monster, just so you know.

Before the first (zeroth) chapter, we also get forewords by the author Justen Brown and the editor Moses Wildermuth.

Jason Brown posted:

Cracking open the original 1989 player’s guide, the first illustration you’re drawn to is a full-page oil painting by Larry Elmore. Entitled “Dragon slayers, and proud of it!” the painting depicts five adventurers triumphantly posing before the body of a very young green dragon dangling from a tree as a fisherman would present his prized catch. A small wooden box at their feet held gold coins, a few glittering gems poking out here and there. The adventurers weren’t wearing ridiculously exaggerated armor, bikini-mail with bare midriffs and massive cleavage, or wielding fifty-foot long paper-thin swords. Our heroes were a lightly armored elf archer, a cleric with a hammer and a holy symbol etched on his belt buckle, a massive bearded warrior with rusty chain mail, a smaller raven haired female warrior, and a mysterious looking magic user cloaked in red.

To me, this picture is how I imagine the quintessential adventurers. These allies had braved some distant lair, defeated a mighty monster (as even newborn dragons are not to be trifled with), collected a modest treasure, and escaped with treasure (and a few scars) that tell entire stories. These heroes were the invisible men and women I created in my fantasy video games. I knew that I held in my hand a gateway into majestic worlds yet to be told and I quickly met many people whose vision we all shared. These dragon slayers have made a hobbyist out of me and I’m proud of it.
:shobon: I like Elmore's art too. Here's the piece Brown's referring to:



Moses Wildermuth posted:

Even though I didn’t know it at the time, my first gaming experiences were in hybrid games. Thirty years later, I can now see how my first GM had intricately woven rules from the (then) new, “Advanced” version of the game with his favorite house rules pulled from the “Basic” games that came before it and the now infamous RPG magazines of the day: the Dragon, Dungeon, Polyhedron, etc.

For Gold & Glory™ pays homage to this hybrid style of gaming. My primary concern when I took over as editor of FG&G™ was to lay nothing less than a solid, old school foundation similar in style to the second “Advanced” version of the game. My next concern then became to fix any obvious errors and fill in any obviously missing rules.
Okay, this is good to know. I will be making some "haha eighties" jokes and generally judging AD&D by what I read herein, but strictly speaking Gold & Glory Trade Mark is not a 100% faithful clone. AD&D was probably a worse user experience.

After all this, we finally get to the oddly-numbered introductory chapter!

...It's exactly what you'd think it is. There's a very short history of D&D "The Fantasy Medieval War game", a shorter "What's an RPG?" paragraph and some suggestions for play: Everyone should have fun and if you have a stinker in the playgroup, you should tell them off. You shouldn't metagame. You should bring paper and dice.

Notably, the Introduction includes the core mechanic for the game: If a situation is not covered by some other rule, you should roll a d20 and add some modifiers. Higher is better. How high is enough? Don't worry about it! Higher is better.

Like always, there's also an example of play, and for what must be the first time in my life, I've read it. A four-person party has just finished murdering some frog-men, and enter a ruined moathouse. The ranger (apparently named Ranger) tries to follow some tracks but unknowingly spooks the brigands keeping watch. The thief (named Thief) wanders off, spots some gold coins and gets ambushed by a giant spider, at which point the brigands lurking in the moathouse decide to make an entrance. It looks grim for our heroes. The GM does not say "roll initiative".

Judging by the example, the game apparently has "skill checks" to read tracks, spells that don't require dice rolls and d6 rolls to avoid surprise. Surprise checks are actually d10.

quote:

Wizard can cast sleep which may be the key to winning the battle.
You don't say.

After the example of play, we get a short glossary of terms:

quote:

Ability Check: A roll of 1d20, plus modifiers, against a relevant ability score. If the result is equal to or less than your character’s ability score the action succeeds. As a general rule, any action not covered by the rules should be handled with an ability check.
:dawkins101: Turns out higher's not better.

Other quick notes: AC goes from 10 to -10 instead of being unbounded like in later editions. Initiative is a flat d10 roll between parties, not individual Dexterity checks. A turn is ten rounds instead of the other way around, and I can already tell that's going to trip me up hardcore later. Unlike ability checks, both attack rolls and saving throws need to be equal or greater than their target numbers, just like they do nowadays, because it's 1989 and consistency hasn't been invented yet. Finally, unlike in second edition, the great big bugbear of the game is now called THACO: "To Hit A Combat Opponent". I have no idea why, THAC0 did nothing wrong.

The chapter concludes by outlining how a character is created. Roll stats, pick race and class, choose alignment, choose skills, buy equipment. While old grogs might bristle at the separation between race and class, this is familiar stuff for us younger folk. The book says to read chapters 1–6 before making a character so I guess we'll have to wait a couple of updates before digging out the dice.

Usually I skip the introductory chapter altogether, but it turns out this one had a bunch of fairly important stuff in it. I knew making an F&F was a good idea!

As a final note, in the best "free OSR rules" tradition, all the art in the book is public domain. Lots of 19th century chivalric romance, Renaissance portraits and romantic monsters. They're all of good quality and really well chosen for a cohesive look. I'm a huge sucker for that pre-Raphaelite look, so I'm actually enjoying the art a lot.

Coming up next: Chapter 1: Ability Scores!

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



I know it's not always feasible, but it'd be great if more game PDFs have hyperlinks as well as bookmarks to make it easier to navigate them, it'd be a pretty solid QoL improvement

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Good old 2e. It's where I started RPGs, so I'll always have a bit of fondness for it.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


Night10194 posted:

Good old 2e. It's where I started RPGs, so I'll always have a bit of fondness for it.

What makes it fun/good? Other than the Nostalgia ofc!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - MY NAME IS VILLAINOVA I AM EVIL

The Villanovas are used as bogeyman across Vodacce, and invoked to ward off lesser evils, particularly Prince Giovanni Villanova. They are utterly ruthless, pragmatic and amoral. Their lands make up the tail of the peninsula, between the mountains and the sea. Their main city is Serafino, which appears at first glance to be a paradise. It has a deep natural harbor, fertile land for miles around, lovely mountains in the distance. Its architecture is graceful and highly vertical. However, it is not a trading or craft hub in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a thriving black market city, dealing in exotic poisons, unusual weapons and stolen goods. It's not even really illicit, given the Villanova approach to law. Murder, drug possession, poisoning - these aren't really crimes in Villanova lands. What'll get you imprisoned and beheaded is tax evasion or disrespect to nobles.

L'Universita dei Serafini is where the real treasure is, however. Rumors say the doctors there vivisect people to learn more about the body, and whether that's so or not, they are certainly on the cutting edge of medicine, often literally. Their students claim to have cured side sickness by careful surgery, and others have claimed advances against typhus, cholera and even white plague. There is the dark side, though - not one of the students or faculty swears to do no harm. Whenever a new poison or chemical interests the Villanovas, they have the university test it. Typically, this means grabbing a prisoner, sending them over, and subjecting them to tests. If the prisoner survives, their sentence is halved. If not...oh well. Sure, not all of their work is sinister experimentation on humans. They also perform quite standard chemistry to create medicines. Of course, these experimental medicines are then used in live human testing, but hey, any chance to cure a life-threatening illness is worth the risk, right? At least, that's what the faculty say. They are also one of the only institutions at present that performs post-mortem dissection of human bodies to learn more about organs and body systems.

The lands of Prince Vincenzo Caligari cover the fertile eastern shore of Lake Rosa and the mountains south of Porto Spatia, which forces essentially all of their trade to go through Bernoulli. This has made the Caligaris expert blockade runners and smugglers, which only fuels their artifact trade. The mountains end up producing a lot of rain over Caligari lands, giving rise to il Bosco Grigio, the Gray Wood. This actually refers to two forests. The first is beech, chestnut and oak west of the mountains, near the city of Rinascita. While the Caligaris maintain all hunting rights there, citizens may explore the wood and gather anything fallen from the trees freely, particularly deadwood. This has prevented much undergrowth over the years, so the western forest is quite airy and open, favored by young lovers and those that wish to talk in private. It is also where Prince Caligari keeps his store of Syrneth artifacts, within a mausoleum deep in the wood that has a door that is reputed to be solid dracheneisen. Its locking mechanism is clearly Syrne in nature, regardless of its makeup, and only the Prince ever enters it.

The other forest, on the eastern side, is evergreen - pine, fir and spruce, mainly. Clouds and fog linger there, making it feel haunted. As the mountains reach the sea, they drop off to sheer cliffs and granite sea stacks. This is the realm of the Longona, the legendary beautiful goat-women of the peninsula. Local folklore claims that any man that can convince a Longona to marry him will have prosperity for three generations, and a few sailors tend to die each year trying to find the goat-women. Whether they even exist or not is a matter of some debate locally, and it certainly doesn't help that wrecker groups work the coast, luring in ships with false signals. Once they smash the ships and kill the crew, they scavenge the cargo that washes ashore. The people of Rinascita claim that the lingering fogs are the souls of the drowned, awaiting the call of Theus or Legion. Few spend time in the haunted wood, fearing the dead, and so it is an ideal camp for bandits...which just makes the wood even more dangerous.

Rinascita is both awe-inspiring and oppressive. It is made mostly of dark granite from the nearby mountains, and while it towers over the land, it has a dark, bleak feeling to it. Most of city life actually happens outside the walls, with the main market lying just outside the city gates. The interior's cyclopean architecture give it a sense of emptiness even in the busiest times, and it is famous through the continent as a place of learning, especially about antiquarian sources, though it is not generally described as pleasant. The streets follow a clear if alien pattern, with long, arcing boulevards that connect seemingly random points, with few alleys given how the buildings seem to be stuffed in. The roads bend back on themselves in zig-zag patterns, which can make travel within the city frustrating. The locals are, at least, extremely friendly, largely because the most direct routes across the city involve going through other people's homes. Thus, they have developed a culture of hospitality and kindness, using human touches to offset the confusing, somewhat alien architecture and empty streets. Within the buildings, shared wine and meals are common.

All of the twisting roads emanate out from the center of the city, where a huge tower of smooth stone exists. It is known just as L'Edificio, The Building. It is aligned to the cardinal directions and is over a hundred and fifty feet tall. It is also home to the largest collection of books on the entire continent. The complex is maintained by an order of librarians called the Eruditi, and they give Prince Caligari detailed information on all visitors. Their leader, Bibliothecarius Anacleto di Rinascita, is beloved by the people, happy to discuss anything from conspiracy theories to politics with anyone who wants it, noble or common, as well as helping other researchers, telling off novices and assisting visitors in navigating the library. The place has more works that date back to the Old Empire than even the Vaticine, and they've protected a number of 'heretical' books from the Inquisition, as well as protecting a number of texts on the occult that exist only within the library at this point, largely philosophical or theological in their bent. The collections contain books on just every subject, and they have been accused before of hoarding forbidden knowledge. Anacleto has commented that such complaints seem to largely emanate from Verdugo, who, quote, "never met a book he didn't want to burn." L'Edificio is open to everyone, but no book is permitted to leave its premises for any reason. Thus, many visiting scholars painstakingly copy important passages and sleep within the building itself while seeking knowledge.

Very few in Vodacce are sure what to make of the rise of the Lucanis. Three generations ago, the then-head of the family, Michele Lucani, was given a keep, land and wealth at the tip of the peninsula by the Villanovas. He claimed the title Prince. It is sometimes said to be in name only, but the past century has seen the Lucanis grow beyond mere jokes. Still, as new arrivals and near-vassals of the Villanovas, the Lucani have struggled to assert themselves and are protected largely by a network of advantageous marriages. The current Prince, Michele Lucani (after his grandfather), has made the biggest strides towards legitimizing the family's claim to rule by power.

The family's prime claim to nobility is their long occupation of the city of L'Aquila, once a port of the Old Empire. From there, the Lucani ships patrol the Vaticine Gulf for pirates and trade along the shipping lanes of the Widow's Sea. Their claims are bolstered by the family's inarguably powerful streghe, whose mastery of Sorte is unrivaled. L'Aquila is full of Numanari ruins, and many of its structures are equally old. As the empire faded, L'Aquila preserved a measure of its grandeur; the city guard even use the old legion barracks. The residents are fiercely proud of that legacy, and they're known for being honest and hardworking people. The city's main claim to fame beyond this is its textile industry, the best in Vodacce. The clothmakers, tailors and lacemakers of L'Aquila are famously fashionable. Their carpentry is no less skilled, and ornamental works from L'Aquila are common both in domestic settings and for ship figureheads, at quite high prices. They also produce semiprecious stones in the mountains nearby, and their ceramicists are famed for the rich clay they use. The city also has its own unique artform, opere di commessi, in which variously colored stones are inlaid on a slab to make intricate patterns. Masters of the art are rare and their prices are extremely high. Recently, the city's been flooded by Castillian immigrants, which has taxed their resources and brought an influx of Castillian culture. The locals and Castillians get along quite well, and trade with Castille has picked up as a result, at least.

In the center of the city is a huge circular ampitheater, dating back to the Old Empire. Il Anfiteatro, as it is called, was once home to gladiatorial bloodsport. Now, it is used for an idiosyncratic tradition of the city. Any man accused of a minor civil offense that threatens his reputation may demand trial by combat. If he wins or the accuser declines the challenge, the crime is expunged and forgotten. If he loses, he must abide by the arena's judgment. Combatants fight to surrender, or to the death if both sides agree to it. Most of the duels are young men fighting over women or people accused of petty theft. Serious crimes are generally rare in L'Aquila, and when they happen they are beyond the arena's remit. The Castillians have also introduced the tradition of el Baile del Toro, the bullfighting art. While the locals were initially repulsed by what they saw as elaborate murder of livestock, they've warmed to it after the goring of several would-be Vodacce toreros, which convinced them that the fight actually required much more skill than they'd initially believed. There's something happening in the ampitheater most weekends, with many coming to watch and bet. Even nobles attend sometimes.

The ancient baths of the city are also still extant and important. They are unrestricted by class or even gender, and are used as a place to socialize, do business and soak. No one is sure what keeps the hot water flowing, but it still works, whatever it is. The Lucani discourage exploration. The only area of the baths not open to the public is a small, secluded pool reserved for Fate Witches, one of the few places they can be unrestricted by chaperones. While eavesdropping on them may learn much, the prospect of pissing off a lot of witches generally keeps people from trying. The baths, called Le Terme dell'Imperatore, are one of the big reasons people like L'Aquila so much - they get to mix regardless of social class, free of the trappings of society, and it's made the city a friendlier place. A lot of higher-level business happens there, as it provides an excuse for people to mingle when they normally wouldn't, and so contracts are debated in principle while bathing and formalized later. While the Castillians still find the idea of mixed bathing rather licentious, getting over that somewhat has helped them integrate.

Deep below the city is a large natural cavern, carved out by the sea and tides: Il Sottomarino. The cavern system is riddled with passages, none of them accessible at high tide, and the natural harbor within can hold up to five large ships. It can only be reached by the Numanari Approach, and only a few know how to enter it in the first place. The Explorers, if they knew of it, would be crawling all over the place in search of artifacts; they do not, though the place is still littered with machinery of the Old Empire, some of which still works. The Old Empire used the cavern as storage space, aware of its limited access. When the Lucani found the place, undisturbed for centuries, they found neatly packed weapons, long-dissolved food and two dilapidated rowing ships. Now, they have repurposed the cavern, albeit with similar uses. It stores food, arms and ships, and the family has spent several years tunnelling from their estate into the cavern, for easy access in case the Villanova ever try to retake the land.

Next time: Mondavi and Vestini

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

Josef bugman posted:

What makes it fun/good? Other than the Nostalgia ofc!

What I will say of AD&D 2e is that it was written much more clearly than 1e.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

gradenko_2000 posted:

What I will say of AD&D 2e is that it was written much more clearly than 1e.

Yeah. There's several things that people -think- of as 2E innovations that were actually in 1E, just buried at the end of an unrelated paragraph in the DMG. Off the top of my head, Bows that get your strength bonus to damage is one example.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Robindaybird posted:

I know it's not always feasible, but it'd be great if more game PDFs have hyperlinks as well as bookmarks to make it easier to navigate them, it'd be a pretty solid QoL improvement

Some day, I’ll sell everybody on the mighty power of EPUB.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Josef bugman posted:

What makes it fun/good? Other than the Nostalgia ofc!

Well, it had the Buck Rogers XXVc setting which I actually kinda like.

PurpleXVI
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?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Josef bugman posted:

What makes it fun/good? Other than the Nostalgia ofc!

In my mind, at least until 4E, the best class balance of any D&D game, and better than 5E, too. Everyone(possibly bards excepted, but gently caress bards) could be useful and interesting. Also some of the best supplements and settings available. And, I will insist to my deathbed, the best DMG ever written, in terms of actually addressing "how to GM well" with some relatively universal lessons and examples.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Josef bugman posted:

What makes it fun/good? Other than the Nostalgia ofc!

For me it's basically entirely nostalgia. I was too young to really critically evaluate systems back when I played it and I haven't played it since my old group in high school switched to 3e, so I really couldn't tell you. It's what I ran my first games in, though. Hodge-podged together messes of ways to include other media I liked, the way god intended D&D to be run before it became official shovelware policy with the OGL.

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


Halloween Jack posted:

Sigmata is so bad I'm just going to have to play ref and blow the whistle on this poo poo.

:toot: If McCarthy was president in 1962, there would not be humans alive on this planet anymore. Also, he was already an alcoholic and maybe addicted to opioids by the time Murrow got to him.

:toot: Even if he didn't start nuclear war, if his presidency was a series of military blunders, why hasn't the U.S. collapsed? And what are our allies doing while we're turning the Cold War into a hot one, that we're losing? What happens to American jingoism when we pick fights with the Eastern Bloc and lose?

:toot: Does the game's setting info even try to address how the regime is dealing with domestic economic collapse? Again, how are our allies responding and why hasn't the Communist world taken advantage?

America should have elected MLK as Supreme Party Leader of the Liberation Socialist Party with how the right completely failed the way politcs are actually written in this book

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





NutritiousSnack posted:

America should have elected MLK as Supreme Party Leader of the Liberation Socialist Party with how the right completely failed the way politcs are actually written in this book
It almost seems like the idea is that the US did become a Soviet state, which, I mean, was unlikely but hardly impossible. Did the creator consider that and then realize that given the national mood in the tabletop gamer tranche the reaction would have been more like



no matter how many "but GUYS the Soviets did bad things TOO" entries there were?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Italian Bread Basket

The lands run by Prince Alcide Mondavi are quiet and sleepy, largely. They produce most of the crops made into food for the rest of the nation, particularly rice. It has made the Mondavi very, very rich, but the other princes tend to look down on them for being peasant-like. Prince Mondavi ignores the insult - he doesn't like society parties anyway. He has only one extravagance - La Montagna di Cacciatori, his hunting reserve that surrounds the only mountain in his lands. It is known as Hunter's Mountain, and is the remnant of an ancient volcano. The elite corps of game wardens make sure none of Mondavi's prey, animal or human, escapes the mountain. He has imported the white bears of Ussura, wolves from Eisen's Angenehme Wald and even a lion from the Crescents, though he found it to be poor sport in the cool climate. The deer on the mountain are usually enough for the local predators to survive winter, and the lower areas are trapped to keep any from escaping. Peasants avoid the place, thanks to all the dangerous beasts, and tend to be very generous with the wardens. Everyone takes great care never to speak about the occasional person going missing or coming out of the reserve with bullet or sword wounds, assuming they notice in the first place.

The primary city of Mondavi land is Elemosina, a small city on the Vaticine Gulf. It primarily works the rice trade, dealing mostly to Castille and Eisen these days. It's a valuable trade, but very boring. Most of the city's liveliness comes from foreign sailors bored of the lackadaisical attitudes of the locals. They often start brawls just to have something to do, and crews often bet on the outcomes. The city comes alive only on market days, when the locals display a passion and understanding of agricultural goods that outsiders often find baffling. The price of a bushel of rice often leads to arguments or even duels, though there is only one recorded death over crop prices - a duel over carrots in 1327. The victor's grave is an informal pilgrimage site for farmers before the market starts. The city has few indigents and little poverty. Prince Mondavi claims he has enough work for all, and he does indeed go out of his way to employ paupers and derelicts, which has earned him a charitable reputation. Even if he does prey on some of them instead.

Palazzo di Agitazione, the home of Prince Mondavi, is unusual for being within the city proper rather than an estate in the country. It is a vast, sprawling palace, but not an ideal one. It takes up nearly a fifth of the city's land, with 2143 windows, 1252 fireplaces and 67 staircases, plus gardens with 1800 fountains. Maintenance takes a small army, and it'd be impossible without the Mondavi wealth. However, the place's design seems to make Fate Witches uncomfortable, rendering them unable to use their powers in it, which makes it much safer for Prince Mondavi to have guests over. Few streghe ever visit twice, as the experience is deeply unpleasant. Prince Mondavi's wife, who is a powerful witch, has her own modest home distinctly away from the palazzo, and spends little time with her rather introverted husband in general. Apparently they do love each other, however, and they have three daughters. Prince Mondavi also makes an effort to consult his wife on all matters, trusting her completely.

The Vestini are the second-most-recent family to seize a principality. Their claims to nobility are somewhat dubious, as their women rarely have Sorte, and when they do it is weak. Free of the magic, however, Vestini noblewomen tend to be educated, often quite well. They may not (legally) read and write, but math only requires knowing numbers. Vestini women compete with witches for marriage by learning skills that a Fate witch will almost never possess. It is said that they do not need magic to run their husbands' lives - just a tally book, schedule and pen. Prince Alessandro Vestini isn't especially altruistic about this, though - his wife is one of the most intelligent women in Vodacce, and without her aid, his lands would have fallen to ruin long ago.

Pacatezza has always been the Vodacce hub for commerce in the Vaticine Gulf. It deals in goods coming down the rivers from Ussura, Eisen and Castille, giving it a cosmopolitan nature to add to its reputation for sophistication. Sailors love the place. It is famous for two things - its guilds and its women. Unlike L'Aquila, its guilds are epicureans - chefs, painters, sculptors, goldsmiths and jewelers, dedicated to the physical delights. Likewise, its courtesans are famous for their intellectual abilities and sophistication in and out of the bedroom. They are not cheap. Jennys come to the city from across Theah for the chance to attend a courtesan school in Pacatezza, hoping to gain sophistication and patrons while bringing something exotic and a little unknown. Not all make the cut, however, given how high the standards are.

La Passione is the most famous of the courtesan schools, built in a former church of the same name. The Vestini are famous for educating women far beyond other principalities - or, indeed, anywhere else in Theah, in some subjects. Many of the family's non-sorcerous women attend the school for a few years before going to find a husband. The Vestini neither deny nor exalt the sexual side - what people do in private, they say, is their own business. By educating women about sex and surrounding matters, the women become equipped to fend off brutes and recognize worthy husbands. While this still isn't the equality of women elsewhere, it's sights better than the lives of women elsewhere in Vodacce. In large part this is due to the headmistress, Desiderata, who encourages her students to learn martial skills as well, to ensure they can defend themselves. The school is also famous for the tradition of la Tarantella, the Dance of the Spiders. In this tradition, things are reversed - courtesans use pseudonyms but go unmasked, while their suitors and other guests must use the clothes, masks and manners of the courtesans. This is freeing for the courtesans and a sobering look at their lives for the other guests, who quickly learn how much work goes into having to constantly keep up interesting conversation.

Sadly, for all its loveliness, Pacatezza has a dark side. Local folklore claims the weak sorcery of the Vestini is not a failure of the blood, but the curse of a dying strega. Legend has it that an immensely powerful witch found a Vestini courtesan seducing her husband, became furious and tracked the man to their love nest, where she committed suicide and cursed the pair with her final breath. Whether this is true or not, the area it is believed to have happened has been abandoned for decades. Few residents will willingly live in the eastern quarter, called the Bassifondi, and it is largely home to indigents and criminals. Whether it's a curse or just urban blight, it is the first thing people see of the city when they come down the Vestini River - open sewers, collapsed buildings, rats. The only people who often frequent the area are La Passione's students, who come to distribute food and medicine. While this charity may seem out of character for Vodacce, not a single student or teacher of the school fears anything in the streets of the city.

Not all of Vodacce is controlled by a prince. Fontaine should, in theory. It sits on the Sejm in a fertile valley right next to rich mineral deposits. However, getting there is just too much trouble. The western mountains rise 10 to 14 thousand feet high, and there are few mountain passes. Plus, there's avalanches, wolves, bears and possibly undead. It's made the citizens of Fontaine far more rugged and self-reliant than the lowlanders, and the Great Game has little to do with their lives. They actually have radical suffrage, in which every adult, man or woman, votes for the mayor, whose few jobs include resolving disputes and ensuring public safety. The implicit challenge to the Princes that the town represents has been mostly ignored due to its small population and remote location. It is, however, a haven for those pursued by a Prince's men. Here, such outcasts can enjoy a life free of Vodacce politics, drinking Ussuran booze and talking Sarmatian political theory and Vaticine vs Objectionist theology. Aside from the iron mines, which bring out ore for Fontaine's exceptionally high quality steel, the mountains remain mostly unexplored. Rumors abound of Syrneth ruins above the snowline, but only one man has ever claimed to have found one, and he went mad shortly after and died of exposure, having torn the skin off his own face with a rock. Still, archaeologists and Caligari agents come through every so often. They return either empty-handed or...well, don't return.

Joppa was once ruled by the Joppa family, who rivaled the Vestini and Bernoulli in wealth. Now, the city is a monument to what happens if you lose in the Great Game. More than a century ago, their prince made a play to unite Vodacce under their rule, using alliances with the Lucani, Falisci and Villanova to undermine the other families and become emperor. However, Prince Villanova doublecrossed them and leaked their troop movements to the Vestini, who stopped them dead. In retribution, the other Princes sent armies to Joppa and overtook it, murdering the entire family or sending them into hiding. No one now claims the family name Joppa. Those who might have the right have long since severed all ties. Ruins dominate the city's old site. The city was largely undamaged by the attack, but most of its people moved to Five Sails or other parts of Vodacce. The ruins were overtaken by thieves and indigents, but they too left without work or merchants nearby. Now, a small enclave of Sarmatian merchantss have taken over the old estate, restoring and refurbishing it. These new homes serve as secret vacation homes, hidden within Vodacce yet untaxed by any prince. Few know of them, and the merchants plan to keep it that way. From the outside, the city looks empty and ruined, but deep in its heart, the estates light the night.

Next time: Sorte

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Nessus posted:

It almost seems like the idea is that the US did become a Soviet state, which, I mean, was unlikely but hardly impossible. Did the creator consider that and then realize that given the national mood in the tabletop gamer tranche the reaction would have been more like



no matter how many "but GUYS the Soviets did bad things TOO" entries there were?

So, The Price Of Freedom but you play as American collaborators volunteers in a Soviet occupation of peacekeeping intervention into the United States fighting freedom fighters reactionaries to the worldwide people's revolution?

Seriously, I recall a recent kickstarter about a game of a revolution of a totalitarian government, not sure if it was Sigmata, that the totalitarian government had vaguely USSR Communist imagery, like the leader was some bearded type portrayed in big banners on buildings. Kind of gave me a bad taste in my mouth despite the game having some interesting mechanics.

Young Freud fucked around with this message at 23:57 on Aug 2, 2018

Aschlafly
Jan 5, 2004

I identify as smart.
(But that doesn't make it so...)


Night10194 posted:

For me it's basically entirely nostalgia. I was too young to really critically evaluate systems back when I played it and I haven't played it since my old group in high school switched to 3e, so I really couldn't tell you. It's what I ran my first games in, though. Hodge-podged together messes of ways to include other media I liked, the way god intended D&D to be run before it became official shovelware policy with the OGL.

My experience was pretty similar. It is interesting to compare 2e and 3e and realize some of the poor design decisions that went into 3e, though.

3e solidly cemented the "fighters are terrible" trope. A 2e fighter at high levels is pretty scary: s/he gets extra attacks, has a great AC, has a ton of hit points, is the only one who benefits from super-high strength or constitution, and has the best saving throw progression against every type of hazard except spells. Paladins and rangers are still mostly better (the only fighter feature they sacrifice is weapon specialization, which is a damage bonus with a single type of weapon), but they have special alignment and ability score restrictions. A 9th level fighter also becomes a "lord" and attracts a huge number of followers--much more than a wizard does by building a tower, for example (compare this to 3e's "back to the dungeon" design mentality, which completely got rid of the base-building/leadership aspect altogether--probably for the better, but getting an actual army was one of the things that made fighters kind of cool). High level magic is still terrifying and powerful, but wizards aren't nearly as godly as they are in 3e, and a fighter can put up a decent resistance to the wide variety of "save or suck" spells.

The 2e fighter feels like at least a passing attempt at mimicking some of the mythical/fantasy material the class is supposedly based on. It's not a great facsimile, but it feels much more heroic than... whatever the hell happened in 3e.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Young Freud posted:

Seriously, I recall a recent kickstarter about a game of a revolution of a totalitarian government, not sure if it was Sigmata, that the totalitarian government had vaguely USSR Communist imagery, like the leader was some bearded type portrayed in big banners on buildings. Kind of gave me a bad taste in my mouth despite the game having some interesting mechanics.
That was the one that was about A Family Surviving The Thing, as I recall? To be fair to them most political imagery in that period wasn't drastically different, it just never was as prevalent in the USA and perhaps to a lesser extent the UK. But Giant Leaderface was not something the Soviets invented.

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



Josef bugman posted:

What makes it fun/good? Other than the Nostalgia ofc!

It was simpler than D&D 3e/4e, though that's not saying a lot and if you measure at the end of its life with the Player's Option series etc, it was more...differently complicated. It ended up with a bunch of stuff grafted on to it that didn't really have initial rules support, so lots of things introduced new subsystems and so forth (psionics being egregious with defense modes and similar nonsense). 3e was made to be expanded more gracefully in terms of mechanics, but the combinatorics got absurd in ways they didn't in AD&D2, since it didn't allow you to mix and match everything together in the same ways.

The mechanics I think were probably better than 3rd, but worse expressed. As others have said, it didn't just have the "my attack roll goes up and your defense goes up about as much" grind, where numbers get bigger but things don't meaningfully change - very few things penalized saving throws, so a powerful high level character was very likely to just shrug off anything that allowed a save. Ditto stuff like rogue skills, where you sucked at them early on but eventually got to the point where you were great at them regardless of opposition level, which did something to address the problem where spellcasters just do the same thing but better. And it had some great settings.

That said, I can't imagine looking at all the games available in 2018 and deciding to play AD&D 2E again, even with THAC0 translated into roll-and-add. Everything good about the system would be very easy to port over to a more modern game, and it still has many of the D&D sacred cows - ability score problems, spellcasters interacting with the system on a fundamentally different level - with some special ones thrown in that basically everyone ignores, like arbitrary level limits on nonhumans that either do nothing or force a character to become unable to continue to play. Between everything you'd need to update and everything you'd need to ignore, just play the settings you like in a good modern system. The whole point of RPGs is that you can write your own stories and components, after all.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Nessus posted:

That was the one that was about A Family Surviving The Thing, as I recall? To be fair to them most political imagery in that period wasn't drastically different, it just never was as prevalent in the USA and perhaps to a lesser extent the UK. But Giant Leaderface was not something the Soviets invented.



That could have been it, but I recall it was also steampunk revolutionaries but the trappings were very Soviet. I remember the thing about the Leaderface was that it was very bolshevik, despite looking more like Victorian that I was asking myself why have them rebelling against a communist-looking leader when it could be some bejeweled, gilded-crowned nobleman. It felt very off.

Fake edit: Ah, here it is, Gears Of Defiance.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/loremastergames/gears-of-defiance?ref=category_newest&ref=discovery&term=revolution%20game

It's very clear who the Empire of that game is supposed to be, despite being a steampunk game.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Aschlafly posted:

whatever the hell happened in 3e.

My general impression is that 3e's problem is that it tried to simplify or fix various mechanics while only looking at those mechanics in a vacuum and not how they actually interacted as a whole. A lot of it seems to have been an attempt to lower the amount of DM bookkeeping required (lowering the amount of NPC characters running around by removing player armies, moving learning spells to be player controlled rather than the DM having to remember to provide them with scrolls, or the rework to AC for one that was less immediately problematic.) Individually a lot of the changes make 3.x a lot easier to manage and keep moving, taken as a whole they give a lot of benefits to casters while penalizing martial characters in comparison

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I strongly suspect they never actually used a lot of the save-suck spells in playtesting because they were much less useful in 2e, since level equivalent enemies could ignore them often.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Young Freud posted:

It's very clear who the Empire of that game is supposed to be, despite being a steampunk game.

The dog, of course, is filled with socialist spirit and disapproves of this

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



the Dog will alert the guard unless our quick thinking rebel puts a bucket on it's head

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Small but class-conscious dog

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Nessus posted:

The dog, of course, is filled with socialist spirit and disapproves of this
Dogs are comrades.

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


Young Freud posted:

That could have been it, but I recall it was also steampunk revolutionaries but the trappings were very Soviet. I remember the thing about the Leaderface was that it was very bolshevik, despite looking more like Victorian that I was asking myself why have them rebelling against a communist-looking leader when it could be some bejeweled, gilded-crowned nobleman. It felt very off.

Fake edit: Ah, here it is, Gears Of Defiance.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/loremastergames/gears-of-defiance?ref=category_newest&ref=discovery&term=revolution%20game

It's very clear who the Empire of that game is supposed to be, despite being a steampunk game.


The child believes in norms drat it and killing a Tsar is mean as hell!!!

Nessus posted:

no matter how many "but GUYS the Soviets did bad things TOO" entries there were?

There are quite a few to put them on par with the other factions. Well try too, Liberals suck at any analysis of socialism or communism and the author figures this out halfway through his attempt at it

NutritiousSnack fucked around with this message at 04:38 on Aug 3, 2018

Aschlafly
Jan 5, 2004

I identify as smart.
(But that doesn't make it so...)


Maybe the state in question is supposed to be one that mixes right-wing and left-wing elements? Something like Khmer Rouge Cambodia or the DPRK?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Aschlafly posted:

Maybe the state in question is supposed to be one that mixes right-wing and left-wing elements? Something like Khmer Rouge Cambodia or the DPRK?
I am sure someone is out there who will say that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of both projects, simultaneously both liberal and neo-liberal. That said are you talking about Sigmata or Gears of Defiance?

Gears of Defiance, to give it its due, seems to be about surviving an oppressive regime similar in type (however classified) to the fascist and Soviet-style governments that ruled in Central and Eastern Europe for much of the 20th century. So you could argue it is more about an artistic representation of a general cultural tone and period rather than specifically endorsing Skub or Anti-Skub. Sigmata is quite different given how the guy is taking such pains to set something up; compare to Spirit of '77 where there's Super Nixon 70s Government, but they deliberately leave the details loose.

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012




For Gold & Glory: Chapter 1: Ability Scores

It's time for the Big Six! Pick up some dice, roll some stats and shed a tear for the way Baldur's Gate used to let you reroll forever.

For Gold & Glory includes four methods of rolling ability scores:
  • Traditional: Roll 3d6 in order and feel bad about it because there's no option to reroll
  • Contemporary: Roll 4d6, drop lowest, order as desired
  • New Age: Roll 4d4+2, assign as you want but it doesn't matter because they're all 12
  • Points System: You get 60 + 4d4 to divide between abilities (no less than 3 and no more than 18), with every 10% of exceptional strength costing 1 point.
Non-human races have ability requirements you must meet to pick that race. Racial bonuses and a warrior's exceptional strength are the only things that can increase a starting character's ability scores above 18.

What's "exceptional strength"? :iiam:


Strength

quote:

Strength (Str) represents raw muscle mass and is the most important ability score for warriors. A warrior with strength of 18 can roll a d% for exceptional strength. An 18/61 is stronger than an 18/35.
Oh. :ms:



Strength affects the things you'd expect, coming from a later edition: Melee attack rolls, damage, encumbrance and maximum carried weight. Note how you don't get any damage bonuses until 16, and non-warriors flat out can't get more than +1 to attack. The disconnect between attack bonuses (+3 at best) and damage bonuses (up to +6) is a bit odd to my modern eye. I'd hazard a guess this is because the range of possible ACs is so narrow that even a +1 is a meaningful bonus to hit, but hit points just keep growing?

In addition to the expected things, strength also affects attack rolls with the bow. The book directs us to Weapons and Armor: Bows for more information, but I'll do that later.

Strength also lets you open very heavy and stuck doors, as well as bend bars/lift portcullises. Forcing open doors is a d20 roll under the indicated number while bending bars uses a percentile die. You can also try to force open a locked door, but for that you need to use the target number in parentheses. (Don't even bother unless you rolled really well on exceptional strength.) You can reroll a failed attempt when you're bashing open a door, but every try takes an arbitrary amount of time and makes a lot of noise as you work on it. You can't reroll a failed bend bars roll. Either you deadlift the portcullis or you don't, working longer at it won't help.

Exceptional strength works weird with strength-affecting modifiers. Instead of going up to 19 or down to 17, you move from one category of exceptional strength to the next. This seems to mean that non-warriors (or warriors who didn't opt to roll for exceptional strength) get more out of Gauntlets of Ogre Strength or whatever, since those can boost them straight into 19 instead of getting stuck in the percentages.


Dexterity

quote:

Dexterity (Dex) represents reflexes and hand eye coordination. It is the most important ability score for rogues.


Dexterity only does a couple of things, but they're all quite handy. The surprise modifier affects the d10 roll to avoid surprise, but it's also used to adjust the saving throw versus breath weapons. Similarly, the missile attack modifier affects the penalties for dual-wielding. And just like in later editions, the AC bonus doesn't apply if you can't actually move.


Constitution

quote:

Constitution (Con) represents a character’s physical endurance and is important to all classes. A character’s base constitution is also the maximum number of times they can be resurrected.
People who are hard to kill also keep coming back, gotcha.



HP modifier is pretty self-explanatory. It's added to hit dice rolled and can not bring the result below 1. The modifier is also applied retroactively, so if your con goes from 15 to 16, you gain one extra hit point for every hit die you have. Note that non-warriors can't have a HP modifier greater than +2.

System shock is the chance to die from magical changes to their body, such as polymorphing or petrification. It's not rolled until the character returns to their original form. Similarly, weak characters might not actually survive resurrection. If you fail the resurrection roll, you go from "mostly dead" to "all dead" and can no longer be brought back. I don't know why these rules exist, but I guess having even unreliable ways out of being effectively dead is better than nothing.

Poison resistance is a modifier to saving throws against poison, but halflings and dwarves don't get it for some reason.

Lastly, constitution 20 and above gives characters supernatural regeneration. :gibs: They heal 1 HP in the indicated time (1 turn is 10 minutes), unless the damage was by acid or fire. :supaburn:


Intelligence

quote:

Intelligence (Int) represents a character’s cognitive reasoning and thought. It is the most important ability score for wizards


Only wizards give a poo poo. Max number of spells is per spell level. You can't retry a failed roll to learn a spell until you've gained an entire character level.


Wisdom

quote:

Wisdom (Wis) represents a character’s will power, comprehension, and common sense. It is the most important ability score for priests.


Another spellcaster stat, but this one comes with an upside for everyone: The mental defense modifier applies to all saves against spell effects that affect the mind.

Bonus spells are spells per day, and are cumulative. You risk failing at spellcasting if your wisdom is too low, so rangers and paladins should maybe not dump this stat altogether. Finally, if you're really wise you become immune to a bunch of save-or-die spells.

That last one probably applies for monsters too. I wonder if the book bothers reminding us of that in the bestiary.


Charisma

quote:

Charisma (Cha) represents a character’s personal magnetism and presence. It becomes important whenever any character expect to deal with NPCs. Charisma does not necessarily represent physical appearance, although this may play a role. A horrific monster could have a high charisma, commanding fear through his appearance. A beautiful princess could have a low charisma because she’s shy and introverted.


Henchmen are NPCs who work for a character because they're cool people, while hirelings work for pay. Charisma bonuses only affect henchmen. Reaction modifiers affect "random reaction rolls during an encounter", but who knows what that means in practice. Depending on how important that last bit is, this doesn't seem like an important stat for either thing-killing or stuff-taking.

And that's the chapter!

I'm used to third edition's ability modifiers, so this mess of tables is really weird. Most of this stuff doesn't even matter in play because you need to roll pretty awful to suffer penalties and you also need to roll pretty hot to get any bonuses whatsoever. Even then, there's some kind of weird allure here. From third edition onwards the actual score you rolled has been completely meaningless, everything's derived from your modifier and the modifiers are effectively interchangeable through feats. It's all tummyfeels, but having all these weird fiddly derived stats is somehow charming.

I do like how superhuman scores in constitution, intelligence and wisdom actually give you superhuman capabilities that are more than just the regular effects scaling ever upwards. I can't quite decide whether exceptional strength is a cool boon to warrior types, or just dumb fiddling.


Coming up next: Chapter 2: Races!

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cogmunist Manifesto: This Machine Mauls Capitalists - an RPG Of Revolution In Steam-covered Cities

ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




Weird to act like the Soviet Union was good.

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004


Out here, everything hurts.






PurpleXVI posted:

In my mind, at least until 4E, the best class balance of any D&D game, and better than 5E, too. Everyone(possibly bards excepted, but gently caress bards) could be useful and interesting. Also some of the best supplements and settings available. And, I will insist to my deathbed, the best DMG ever written, in terms of actually addressing "how to GM well" with some relatively universal lessons and examples.

It also did a vastly better job than later editions of making magic items magical. The entire back half of the DMG is magic items with occasional backstories and a vast array of weird effects and conditions that makes them way more interesting than a Thing of Thingness +1.

PurpleXVI
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?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Liquid Communism posted:

It also did a vastly better job than later editions of making magic items magical. The entire back half of the DMG is magic items with occasional backstories and a vast array of weird effects and conditions that makes them way more interesting than a Thing of Thingness +1.

Thing is, in 2E, even a Thing of +1 At Stuff was more magical than in 3E, for two reasons. Firstly, magical items were vastly more rare, you couldn't just slap them together on a bench with a bunch of gold and XP, instead creating a magical item was a vaguely defined adventure in itself. And 5% of the time that drains a permanent point of Constitution from the caster to lock the enchantment in. So assuming most mages are weedy 9 Con nerds or so, that puts a pretty strict limit on how many Permanencied magical items they can create in their life time or simply without being a fragile, wheezing stick of a person.

The second thing is that while in 3.x a +1 is forgettable because you rapidly end up with double digit +'s to everything from your base advantages, and AC and the like rapidly shoot up into the double digits as well, 2E has a much more bounded scale. Few things have an AC better than 0, for instance, so a +1 weapon is always going to be a pretty meaningful upgrade in actually landing hits, and likewise armor in terms of dodging them. Stats are also usually more static, so they're likely to provide less new bonuses during gameplay, etc.

It's generally a game with more of an intentional dearth of exceptional resources.

I think the only thing I'd say 2E really lacks is that Player's Option should be integrated more into the base game(or at least most of it, gently caress the combat supplement, I do like a lot of the changes Spells & Powers, or was that Skill's & Powers, made to the chargen thing, making the classes more variable and interesting) and that it could have used a more robust skill system, because the NWP system was pretty barebones, honestly.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.


2e does also have probably the most diverse range of retroclones and modifications, doesn't it? (and sadly probably the largest amount of heartbreakers)

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


ZeroCount posted:

Weird to act like the Soviet Union was good.

Except that nobody is saying that in this thread.

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



Ghost Leviathan posted:

2e does also have probably the most diverse range of retroclones and modifications, doesn't it? (and sadly probably the largest amount of heartbreakers)
For straight retroclones, there's OSRIC for the first edition and For Gold & Glory for second, and that's about it as far as I know. I'm pretty sure the various flavours of Basic are where it's at for most OSR nerds these days.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

Siivola posted:

Strength affects the things you'd expect, coming from a later edition: Melee attack rolls, damage, encumbrance and maximum carried weight. Note how you don't get any damage bonuses until 16, and non-warriors flat out can't get more than +1 to attack. The disconnect between attack bonuses (+3 at best) and damage bonuses (up to +6) is a bit odd to my modern eye. I'd hazard a guess this is because the range of possible ACs is so narrow that even a +1 is a meaningful bonus to hit, but hit points just keep growing?

the AC range didn't really have anything to do with it - it was directly supposed to a disproportionately large bonus for Fighters, as a special ability for being a Fighter.

Siivola posted:

Exceptional strength works weird with strength-affecting modifiers. Instead of going up to 19 or down to 17, you move from one category of exceptional strength to the next. This seems to mean that non-warriors (or warriors who didn't opt to roll for exceptional strength) get more out of Gauntlets of Ogre Strength or whatever, since those can boost them straight into 19 instead of getting stuck in the percentages.

Yeah - Exceptional Strength was created in the Greyhawk supplement for Original D&D, and the discontinuity was a function of wanting something beyond a flat-18 Strength that only Fighters could have, and yet insisting that you couldn't go higher than 18 because 18 was the limit of human capability. So they write some fractional numbers for 18, but then if you ever got a 19 Strength, which was by definition a "superhuman" level of strength, there's a big jump.

Ultiville posted:

The mechanics I think were probably better than 3rd, but worse expressed. As others have said, it didn't just have the "my attack roll goes up and your defense goes up about as much" grind

One thing I want to throw out there is that AD&D did have what we now call an "item treadmill" - if you were randomly rolling scores, even with 4d6-drop-lowest-assign-as-desired, chances were you still wouldn't get an 18 in your primary stat (much less your Fighter getting an 18/00 in Strength), so you really did want that Circlet of Intellect or those Gauntlets of Ogre Strength. And you really did want a +1 Weapon because not only for the raw benefit, but because some monsters were straight immune to non-magical weapons.

The difference was that this treadmill was all randomized - if you were playing it by the book, the DM would create dungeons, roll randomly for their contents, and you'd go in and loot them ... and if you didn't quite get the item you wanted, you just had to keep going into more dungeons until you got it.

Now, in an RPG there's obviously much more wriggle room to negotiate, compared to praying to Everquest's servers - the DM might give you a quest for the Gauntlets, or they might let just buy the drat things for most of your gold, but something that I learned to appreciate in the AD&D -> 3e transition is that the creation of the Wealth-by-Level model was kind of like how MMO loot changed from being completely random, to something you could buy with tokens.

Ghost Leviathan posted:

2e does also have probably the most diverse range of retroclones and modifications, doesn't it? (and sadly probably the largest amount of heartbreakers)

Perhaps surprisingly, no. The D&D Basic/Expert sets are far-and-away the most cloned and most hacked versions of old-school D&D, followed by Original D&D, followed by AD&D 1st Edition, with 2nd Edition falling dead last. In fact, AFAIK For Gold & Glory is really the only significant 2e retroclone out there.

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Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.


gradenko_2000 posted:

Perhaps surprisingly, no. The D&D Basic/Expert sets are far-and-away the most cloned and most hacked versions of old-school D&D, followed by Original D&D, followed by AD&D 1st Edition, with 2nd Edition falling dead last. In fact, AFAIK For Gold & Glory is really the only significant 2e retroclone out there.

That figures, I was never particularly clear on the differences between them.

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