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Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.
I think the issue is kinda complicated here, since from the sound of it it's to Warhammer Fantasy RPG what Warmachines is to Warhammer, right? (or whatever) And I think generally wargames tend to kinda require deeper fluff than RPGs do, since you're trying to sell people on buying a whole bunch of characterful miniatures, not just a set of rules to play pretend with. And a big chunk of the audience for a RPG is going to be people who play the wargame, since there's a significant audience overlap.

And Warhammer books have tons of fluff in them, and they're the elephant in the wargames room, so obviously people must love the fluff, right?

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JcDent
May 13, 2013

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

Ghost Leviathan posted:

I think the issue is kinda complicated here, since from the sound of it it's to Warhammer Fantasy RPG what Warmachines is to Warhammer, right? (or whatever) And I think generally wargames tend to kinda require deeper fluff than RPGs do, since you're trying to sell people on buying a whole bunch of characterful miniatures, not just a set of rules to play pretend with. And a big chunk of the audience for a RPG is going to be people who play the wargame, since there's a significant audience overlap.

And Warhammer books have tons of fluff in them, and they're the elephant in the wargames room, so obviously people must love the fluff, right?

Well, there's fluff and there's fluff. For example, you really don't need to know the details of Horus Heresy to play any of the 40K RPGs - knowing "Chaos Bad, Emperor - Good/God" is enough. Similarly, you don't need to know the background of WHFB to gently caress about as a ratcatcher, but it is kinda cool.

Serf
May 5, 2011


Halloween Jack posted:

Setting a D&D game in a gunpowder world is not as easy as it sounds--it's a surprisingly tall order to decouple AC from armour.

You can do scaling bonuses to defense, which is elegant and logical. The problem is that D&D monsters weren't designed with the assumption that everyone wears padded or leather armor at 1st level and gradually scales up. (See also: the BECMI Mystic.) I recall there's an OSR Old West game that does it, but it's not really trying to be compatible with other OSR games. (If it has any resemblance to Boot Hill, Idunno.)

Some games just keep the armor mechanics in place, or adapt them to the setting, which results in weird stuff like pirate games where the PCs will be desperate to get ahold of munition armour, or modern adventure games where everyone must go around in military body armour if they know what's good for them. (A good example is the OSR game Ancient Mysteries and Lost Treasures. It's inspired by a mix of pulp archaeology and technothriller fiction, but leans on the latter with regard to combat because it replaces D&D armor with a a remarkable preoccupation with various kinds of Kevlar vests and trauma plates.)

A method I'm going to try is to assume a base AC by class, which they can improve if they have access to their armour, and can boost further if they're willing to wear heavy armour with all the problems that entails.

take the stats for a crossbow, erase "crossbow" and write "rifle"

you're welcome

Barudak
May 7, 2007


Obsidian: The Age of Judgement is a roleplaying game by Apophis Consortium published first in 1999, and this review uses the 2nd Edition from 2001. Written by Micah Skaritka, Dav Harnish, and Frank Nolan. Obsidian is a post-apocalyptic anarchist corporatist literal hell on earth secret knowledge crunchy dice-pool game. It is purchasable online here if you’d like to support the authors of this work.

Part 11: Refer to Form 103-2

The rest of the “Inhabitants” chapter is about how to build, manage, be a member of, and operate corporations in a zone. If you thought that Obsidian might have put the sections on the schools of magic in the same chapter as corporate governance as a commentary on the similarities between them and their blending nature between magic and human society in the setting you thought wrong.

Corporations are divvied up into 6 tiers of size, from the smallest which are “extortionist gangs” and “prostitution rings” to the largest which are equivalent to the government of the setting which sort of begs some questions the game doesn’t bother to address. If you haven’t gotten your fill of the number six at this point in the game, you’ll be thrilled to know that every corporation only has six possible employment ranks in it. At the bottom and top levels they use religious titles of authority like Archbishop, but in the middle the whole thing gets muddled with titles like “Circuits” and whatever the designers “Neobellum” translated to.


Subtlety is dead and we have killed it

Each of these positions have very specific, rigidly defined pay-scales, authority, and ability to control their employees under them based on the rank and size of the corporation. How is this enforced in our techno-corporate dystopia? More pressingly the game made 30 credits sound like a huge sum of money but the absolute lowest “drug runner” can not make less than 300 credits a week with their housing costing 250 credits a month. The richest person in the game only makes 100 times the poorest person in this game so I’m not sure Obsidian is totally aware its dystopic corporate hellscape is actually pretty fair.

As a member of a corporation you have certain, irrevocable rights regardless of your level in the business. By being a good employee, and good here is simply “follow your direct supervisors orders” or “be put into harms way by your corporation”, you earn points you can spend in your corporation. These points can be spent on things like getting an entire months pay in advance, taking an immediate pay bonus, getting some sick days, getting a raise, access to your companies entire network of specialist employees, or free rent amongst a huge list of things you can do. The only really dumb one is getting the ability to generate free points for yourself as anyone else in the corporation can spend the same points to cancel out yours so it’s entirely whether you Narrator wants to be a jerk about letting you keep the reward.

After that its a detailing of exactly how many members of every rank a corporation has to have and then a list of things corporations can buy when you are developing them. By buying these things, you also increase the number of employees a corporation can have, and they stack up really quickly so even a tier 2 player corporation will have well over 300 employees. There aren’t any rules for how to generate these points after character creation even though that seems to be the entire point of this section to have characters build their own business from the ground up as a long-term roleplaying thing so ask your DM Narrator.


I’m not sure you’d want to “contact” him. Get it? Get it? Philistines

After that it is the list of what you can buy and it varies from the bad like a Warehouse which has no mechanical rules whatsoever to the offensive like Slave Labor to the previously mentioned weaponized business acumen that causes everybody else to die because wording mechanics in natural language is never, ever a good idea. If none of that sounds your cup of tea a starting character who makes no investments into any additional corporate points is perfectly able to buy corporate traits like “Employment Benefits” and “On Base Living” so they never pay rent, get free medical care, and automatic ongoing raises. Obsidian’s apocalypse may have killed almost the entire human race but it solved the housing crisis and unleashed powerful labor laws.

In addition to things, corporations can have contacts although some character templates also grant these. These contacts basically function as little more than keys to access some upgrade. One contact gives you the ability to buy legal heavy weaponry, another access to higher tier spells, another body modification, and you get the picture. The least well explained one is the Veilis which, in addition to letting you change your identity, for only 25% of your new weekly salary can get you a high-paying job with no oversight so theres no in game reason you couldn’t just take an infinite number of these to get infinitely wealthy*.

I kind of want to pause and go over how odd this whole section is in this game. Everything sandwiching this content is entirely focused on your standard murder-hobo style game, with players entirely able to earn enough money from contracts and killing to pay for everything in the book and advance their character. Outside this section there are minimal rules for how things like the police, purchasing large expensive things, or even the economy actually works. It’s not even stated that all players need to be in the same corporation, so not only is there an entire subsystem about how to do your job and get paid, every player may be doing this without other players requiring multiple individual story sessions to do things like request sick days. This entire thing is an irritating mix of half-baked and missing key rules and way, way too specific and it doesn’t really mesh with anything else in the game leaving it a weird bolted on appendage.

With that, join us next time for a big pile of random items and a 6-pack of murder

Next Time: You Can Steal A Murder

*In roleplaying though it be hilarious to have dozens of corporations collapse overnight because nearly every single job in them is being filled by one player who isn’t showing up to the meetings

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.

Serf posted:

take the stats for a crossbow, erase "crossbow" and write "rifle"

you're welcome

That's pretty much what we're doing for a modern D&D game. Also, guns can be used as wands.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

HELL SERPENT
Lipstick Apathy
Crossbow chat: the advantage is supposed to be that you don't require special training to use it, so you can expect every class to be "proficient" in crossbows, as opposed to, say, only Fighters and Rangers, etc knowing how to use bows, but the problem is that A. classes that don't know how to use weapons instead use spells, so crossbows still don't really get used, and B. most people don't really play D&D in mass combat mode, where having fifty peasants armed with crossbows might actually matter.

OvermanXAN posted:

It's worse. It's still 3.5 derived, from what I can tell, but Taking 10 is a feat now. A multibuy feat, once per skill. With skill prerequisites for effect :smithicide:

I would like to clarify that Pathfinder 2's Assurance feat is not the same as 3rd Edition's Take 10.

3rd Edition's Take 10 gives you a base roll of 10, plus modifiers. If it's a DC 12 Athletics check, and you have 16 Strength, and you Take 10, you pass with a result of 13.

Pathfinder 2's Assurance gives you a final result of 10. If it's a DC 12 Athletics check, and you have 16 Strength, and you use Assurance, you fail with a result of 10.

Now, the final result does increase to 15 if you're an Expert in the skill, or 20 if you're a Master, or 30 if you're Legendary, but:

* You can't become Expert in a skill until at least level 2
* You need to take the Assurance feat for every skill that you want to use it with

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

It turns out the company whose entire business model was 'continue making off-brand version of the last edition of D&D while screaming that change is scary and wrong' doesn't really have many design chops.

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Barudak posted:

*In roleplaying though it be hilarious to have dozens of corporations collapse overnight because nearly every single job in them is being filled by one player who isn’t showing up to the meetings

It's that episode of The Amazing World Of Gumball, "The Pizza", where Larry, the cardboard box headed wage slave that apparently works all the jobs in Elmore, gets repeatedly stiffed for a tip that he quits his jobs, leading to a Mad Max apocalypse.

PoontifexMacksimus
Feb 14, 2012

Comrade Gorbash posted:

Really it's the introduction of the socket bayonet that truly drives the wholesale rethink of warfare.

Siivola posted:

The socket bayonet was the last nail in the pikeman's coffin, but I think convenient field artillery and just the sheer size of armies are what made body armour eventually take a break for a couple of centuries.

Cythereal posted:

Eh, the steel helmet never went out of style. It just took a long time for armor to catch back up to having a reasonable chance of stopping certain intentional attacks rather than shrapnel and glancing hits.

The gunpowder revolution is often overstated, or at least misconstrued. Full plate armour postdates gunpowder weapons, and was developed as much in response to them as anything. Certainly China and the Muslim world never used the heavy plate armour guns would supposedly be made to penetrate.

In the great gunpowder empires of the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal dynasties bows, armoured cavalry, swordsmen etc. never went out of style, coexisting with technologically advanced cannon and muskets for centuries without being supplanted.

I would say the rise of the homogeneous musket armies of early modern Europe is entirely the result of the rise of capitalism: first in terms of the new Foucaultian discipline complexes allowing for easier enforcement of dehumanizing military drill; the destruction of communities and their traditions of war as cultural expression, making it instead an object of scientific management and time-motion studies.
Secondly, in the rise of fiscal debt financing and an international military-industrial complex, further decoupling local communities from the conduct of war to the point were they would be incapable of sustained armed resistance. Saltpeter is far more rare and difficult to process than iron, requiring tapping into advanced international trade networks.

Without those social transformations you're looking at a Shogun: Total War situation, handgunners just one unit type among many.

PoontifexMacksimus fucked around with this message at 14:09 on Aug 9, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - Death Mountain

The Green Mountain towers over all the other peaks of Ashur, and its summit is always covered in mist. The oldest carvings, at the mountain's base, date back to the first century. As you climb up, the carvings get newer, more elaborate and more celebratory. It is said that Khalil climbed the peak with his daughter on his back, and no one knows how even now. When Irshad descended, no one but her father had ever climbed to the top. When she took the blind boy up to it, he became the third ever to be there. when she came down, she left a rope to help others reach the summit, and it has not broken yet. All would-be Assassins make the climb, as do some others - curiosity seekers and those who would ask the Guardian for help, mainly. Some outposts and inns at the foot of the mountain offer fruit, nuts and a bed. As the path goes upwards, it splits into carved stone steps, so steep that they're basically letters, and from there, to rope bridges that must be crossed hand-over-hand. The people at the base say it's best to go at night, when the dark keeps you from seeing how high you are on the bridges. At the top of the mountain is the First Garden.

It grows in the mouth of a dead volcano, guarded by a boy centuries old. Sometimes, Anashid or even Orthodox climb to offer him praises and gifts, or to ask for a task to do to make the world better. For the Anashid, the boy is more holy than anyone but the Prophets themselves. It is widely believed that he can see the future, and that he selects those to kill in order to prevent needless deaths. Rumor has it that he can read minds, for he seems to know people more deeply than they know themselves. Speaking to him is like speaking to a natural event rather than a person. Those that kill for him are given leave to wander his Garden, but none ever see it the same way, for every Assassin eats a different fruit and every Assassin is changed. Now, however, the Guardian is crippled. Black liquid oozes from a wound on his leg, which cannot be healed. While he is wounded, he refuses to enter the Garden, even though many beg him to, saying that the Garden can heal anything. He refuses. The black ooze leaks down the mountain, glowing darkly.

On the far side of the mountain, the part that no one climbs, is the Valley of Ghosts. It is built into an old copper mine, a sort of village that is almost a parody of Bit Habubti, all twisted earth and stone. Here, the Assassins walk openly and without disguise, sharing the strange kind of intimacy that comes with being the only killers in a pacifist nation, both respected and hated. It's like any other village in most ways, even more normal than many others in Ashur, for the Assassins are not pressured to become more fanatical. However, while the Assassins feel no need to flaunt their oddity, they came to this place to live with death, and it is a place of killers and ghosts.

The First Cathedral dates back to the burial of Yesu. When he lay dying, Yesu told his followers to carry his body into the desert, to follow the sun for five days, and on the fifth, to bury him in a mountain valley where the small rocks on the ground looked like bone. When he was buried, a great fig tree grew where his body had been. Water flowed from his open mouth and soaked the ground, filling the valley with life and forming a deep, clear lake, at the bottom of which can still be seen the bone-like stones. The fig tree rooted in the stone, its roots becoming so wide and tall that they were islands in the lake, with other seeds nestled on their backs. These grew into many trees - trees of all kinds of fruit and nuts. In their infancy, these trees were bent and looped and tied and trimmed, built into a living tree Cathedral, with mirrors hung from their branches to reflect the light. Yesu's tree is a pilgrimage site year-round, but especially during the Spring Equinox holiday, when Orthodox gather from across Ashur to eat figs and celebrate Yesu's burial, bringing new mirrors to thread into the trees, dancing and singing. Until last year.

On the first day of the celebration last year, there was a total solar eclipse, which lasted for five days. On the fifth day, the Guardian of the First Garden arrived - the first time in known history that he had left his mountain fastness. Everyone was scared - and moreso when a shrouded figure emerged from the shadows, never before seen. The Guardian summoned a shield of pure light, bathed in darkness, and using the shield, he fought the shadowy figure, driving it into a corner to prevent its escape. He drew forth a blade of pure sunlight, but at the last moment, the Guardian faltered. He stumbled back, shocked, and his shield faded. A great wound appeared on his leg, oozing black pus, from a concealed weapon of the shadow figure. With a scream, he slammed his blade into the ground, and the figure vanished. Now, the wound will not heal. In the following days, the lake of the First Cathedral began to grow murky, and the fig tree no longer bears fruit. The other trees of Ashur have begun to imitate it, the many nut and berry bushes of the valley growing barren. If this continues to spread, within no more than five years, Ashur will be fruitless.

Current Relations posted:

Anatol Ayh: An Ashurite stays suspicious of Anatol Ayh. She views the heart of the Crescent Empire as a government of conquerors just waiting for Ashur to show weakness - and she may be right. Empress Safiye has sent two delegations of "diplomats" since the disaster at the First Cathedral, and while those diplomats say they want to help Ashur recover, many believe they merely scout and spy for the Imperial war machine.
Persis: Persis is the home of Ahurayasna, which does it no credit in Ashur's eyes. At best, an Ashurite considers Ahurayasna infantile; at worst, he sees it as theologically dead, a religion prone to denying the complexities of Heaven, Earth and human nature. Nowadays, rumors have the darkly dressed figure who attacked the Guardian at Yesu's Tree somehow Yasnavan-related; this has not made Ashurites feel better about Persis.
Sarmion: Ashurites pepper all travelers with questions, but that goes triple for travelers from Sarmion. Few practicing Yachidi live in Ashur and, particularly since it was the faith of the First Prophet, Ashurites want to know everything about it. Because Yesu came from Sarmion, and many of his first followers were converted Yachidi, the Orthodox are particularly eager to convert current-day Sarmions; discussion and lines of questioning can (not infrequently) turn awkwardly evangelical.
Tribes of the 8th Sea: Many Ashurites consider the 8th Sea Tribes comfortably similar to different Orthodox villages - and if they are more violent in practice, at least they are not much more hierarchical. Many villages have made arrangements with 8th Sea tribes, trading nuts and fruit for cheese and butter. More disappointingly, tribes from the desert sometimes raid villages for fruit, but for centuries, this caused little tension - the raiders rarely killed and there was always more fruit to be found. But now, with the fig trees fading, fruit grows rarer, and some Orthodox tribes have started to speak of striking back.

People! Athro Benu Nairu is the inventor of Ashurite paper. Before her, Ashur had no locally-made paper, and most Orthodox resented imported paper because it was both very expensive and made from wood pulp. Athro grew up Elohim and learned how to make reed paper while playing near her home. As a teenager, she made several batches, but her parents told her that Elohim had no need of paper. A month later, the tribe visited Bit Habubti, where she saw a library and was stunned to learn from a librarian she spoke with exactly how much paper cost him. Within two years, she had gone from Elohim to the first (and only) Ashurite industrialist. Aided by the librarian, she set up a paper factory, hiring apprentices and buying up reeds at a decent price. Money poured in, the factory grew, and she began spending her energy on marketing, giving away paper at Abbunatu, teaching people how to cut it into silhouettes and starting a side business selling ink, pens and brushes. Athro is now the richest woman in Ashur, and she's looking for partners in business, particularly those with access to litography tech and printing presses. However, there has been pushback. Athro's sheer enthusiasm makes her a polarizing figure, and many consider her love of money to be un-Ashurite. Lately, purists claim she is 'endangering' the cultural division between temporary and permanent writings. Even her parents currently oppose her.

Sami Eliyahi grew up in the Empire, to Empire-loving parents. They were privateers for the Emperor, happy to raid people under the law. For a while, Sami loved the Empire too, seeing the life of freedom through the rose-colored lenses of childhood. However, as he grew to manhood, his love for his parents could not prevent him from realizing they were unlike most pirates he knew, and were fighting not for the Empire's lofty ideals, but because his father was cruel and his mother bloodthirsty. When his father broke the law and seized slaves from a raid on a Numanari ship, Sami had no choice but rebellion. Under the cloak of night, he freed the victims and fled, heading for the place Ashurite pirates had often sung of - the Green Mountain, where he could unburden himself and find peace. He climbed the treacherous path to the Guardian and confessed of his sins. When he was done, however, he still felt deep guilt. The boy told him: "Justice is not confession, but action." And so, Sami died, and lived, and died, and lived, until one day, he woke up and was Assassin. He is now a trusted member of the Alnniqabat Lilnnusr, and was trusted to guard the First Garden while the Guardian left to fight at Yesu's Tree. However, under his watch, a single fruit was stolen, and he has no idea how. He never saw anyone enter, after all, and he fears it was an inside job.

Miran Benu Pleroma was terrified of the flooding of the river Arantu. They came quickly and stayed for weeks, spoiling food and spreading disease, but it seemed nothing could be done...until Miran went with his aunt to visit Persis. There, he saw a complex system of irrigation, dykes and levees that prevented river floods. Inspired, he went home and joined the Pleroma in hopes of improving Ashur. That'd be when the local villagers told him that diverting the river's flow was against the will of Theus, the local Elohim said that irrigation was needless, and...well, even life-saving measures were resisted because change bad. In Persis, the shah could have forced it through anyway, but the Pleroma were weak. Miran saw so many problems from this inflexibility. Broken roads, unfixable because trees grew through the gravel. Vigilantes hired to defend villages because there were no armed forces or police. Ashur, he saw, was broken. He could fix it, if he had the power. As the Guardian lies dying, Miran secretly imports weapons to equip his loyalists and form a standing army. He plans a coup d'etat, to become the first shah of Ashur. He is bitter rivals to the reformer Moonif, who wants democratic councils and a national guard instead. He is Strength 4, Influence 6.

Ziyane Benu Tamra is Anashid but has always had a natural talent for botany. She fought endlessly to gain respect in the field, and was mercilessly bullied for it as a child, as she was seen as trying to usurp the place of the Orthodox by doing her beloved hobby. Despite this, she has risen to become a leader in the field of agriculture, celebrated for her innovations. Her most notable is the forty-fruit tree, a multiple-graft tree that grows 40 varieties of stone fruit. Those who have seen her work say she is touched by al-Musawwir, and unfortunately, she believes them. Arbella, a jealous rival, spiked her tea with the amanita mushroom, which should have killed Ziyane. Instead, it gave her visions in which al-Musawwir spoke to her in adoration of the forty-fruit and told her They wished it to replace Yesu's Tree in the First Cathedral. Not that that's easy. Most believe the poisoning of Yesu's Tree was done by the shadowy figure that fought the Guardian; Ziyane knows better. In one of her visions, 'al-Musawwir' showed her how to create a pitchy, black poison with which to kill the tree. She suspects that the shadow figure was merely a diversion set up by al-Musawwir to allow her time to apply the poison to the roots. Now that Yesu's Tree is dying, Ziyane must only replace it with the forty-fruit, which would be much easier if she could convince the other Anashid she was a Prophet and that they should obey her. She is Strength 3, Influence 8.

Next time: Persis

PoontifexMacksimus
Feb 14, 2012

Anyway! I remain impressed with the amount of world building in 7thS, but I did have two minor quibbles:

1. There seems to be an inordinate focus on local folklore and forest goblins, because I am not sure how they are supposed to fit in campaigns of high intrigue, international piracy and gallant swashbuckling. Are your big-hatted heroes supposed to spend much time hexcrawling the wilderness?
2. People on average seem too nice! Most monarchs, apart from designated villain nations like Mbey or the French, seem like genuinely good people, idealistic pacifists or outright democrats. It’s fine and fun to have a country like the Commonwealth that’s explicitly a chaotic experiment, but looking at the leaders on the world stage it’s hard to imagine the world couldn’t end up happy and peaceful even without player intervention. A few too many heroes and a few too few villains, perhaps. (And the occasional character too much like the perfect GMPC players are supposed to be super excited to be best buds with...)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - Not Persiaran Has Problems

Persis lies in the east, with variable weather, high mountains and many climates. Between the border highlands, there are idyllic grazing valleys, forests, coastal basins and more, historically fought over by many warlords. Right now, Persis is a place of danger and fear. Shah Jalil wields military force and ideological suppression to control an otherwise passionately independent people. The old laws against native sorcery and religious expression brought rebellion, which now turns to desperate measures to drive out a stronger occupier. Unless someone intervenes, ambition and spite may destroy centuries of cultural exchange.

Shah Jalil Khata'izadeh took the throne in 1642 and pretty much immediately fell in love with Emperor Istani, adopting his views on the importance of Anatoli cultural norms overwriting Persic ones to cement imperial control and modernize Persis. With Istani's help, Jalil declared martial law in 1648 to crack down on insurrections. The Persic Ilman Corps became enforcers of a police state, elite foreign mercenaries that despoiled Yasnavan temples, schools, even traditional gymnasia and neighborhoods in search of insurgents and separatist thinkers. It was only a year before Istani himself adopted some of these measures in the creation of his Magician's Registry, the Sihirbazlarin Kaydi. It was a joint creation of Jalil and Istani, mandating life imprisonment for any "practitioners of devil-worship," and requiring all sorcerers to reveal their name, location and spellcasting power to the Imperial Av - that is, the Imperial Hunt. On the surface, it was a defense against idolatry, as both Dinists and Yasnavans denounce devil worship and devil sorcery. Individual rulers and governors had broad latitude in interpreting the act, and Sarmion, for example, didn't protest it but never actually put it into practice. However, in Persis, the Imperial Av were given free rein to investigate any Yasnavan under the excuse of saying that devil worship was often visually indistinguishable from Yasnavan practice. The Avcilar, 'hunters,' would interrupt Yasnavan service in search of 'sorcerers' or 'diabolists.'

To register was an act of great expense for a sorcerer, who needed to leave home, head to the nearest Av office, suffer invasive and insulting interviews and aggressive suspicion, and then, if they were Yasnavan, give up sorcery if they didn't want to perform it at the beck and call of Jalil or break the law. It is no surprise, then, that some chose instead to rebel. Rebel and imperial fighting destroyed many Yasnavan holy sites and sorcerous sancta. Even at best, it was a devastating loss of culture and art. At worst, it unleashed demons. Historically, Yasnavan sorcerers had practiced the arts of demon- and jinn-binding, and during the Haxamanisiya Empire, marauding demons were ended as a problem by having the the government sponsor summoners and binders to hunt down demons and trap them beneath daxdanas or Temples of Hymn, or inside mountain tombs. Over the past century, these places often became rebel meeting sites, and when Jalil realized this, he had the Ilman violate many of the sites in search of rebels, allowing the trapped demons to break free.

While most demons are scary, they aren't that much brighter or more dangerous than angry wild animals. Mightier spirits and jinn, however, are subtler and harder to catch. Many are invisible and intangible, preferring to empower the weak-minded and emotionally vulnerable to do their dirty work for them. Sorcerers were once the first line of defense against such creatures, but public practice of sorcery, let alone any sorcery that involves demons in any way, is now an excellet way to attract Avcilar to hunt you. While some Dinist abjurations can block or prevent demonic spells, entire demons are typically too large an order for any but the best abjurers, and so the number of demons now infesting Persis continues to increase.

Jalil and Safiye are always studious polite to each other, with Jalil showing her all grace and courtesy when she is in Persis, even leading her on tours. However, it should be made clear: Jalil despites Safiye for damning his lover Istani to certain death in the 8th Sea. Jalil's propagandists ensured that on her first trip to Persis, Safiye saw almost no conflict whatsoever, in an attempt to convince her the nation was entirely under control and happy. However, an attack by the insurrectionist Eternal Flames near the end of her tour that got foiled by her Chavra proved otherwise. Safiye ended her visit by explaining her new laws to Jalil, particularly the ending of the sorcerous registry, which he protested in the name of national security, and the destruction of class, which he didn't even respond to. She gave him ten years to implement the decrees.

Sorcerous registration has now formally ended, but the intelligence services retain the old records. They've spent five years - which would be 2 more than have happened since he was told to stop, so I guess he started early - developing the infrastructure needed to covertly continue their surveillence. The head of this covert movement is the organization called the Ox's Fist, designed based on the Imperial Av, who report directly to Jalil. Their leader, Amira Fridazadeh, is fanatically loyal to Jalil and will not stop until she captures or kills every devil-worshipper in Persis. Meanwhile, the average Persic has no real idea what to think of Safiye. Her intelligence and grace are a big bonus, as most still believe that a ruler should literally emanate farr as proof of divine empowerment, but it's not quite enough. The Dinists doubt her commitment to protecting them, while the Yasnavans doubt her because she leads al-Din. She is most popular among the moderates, but they're growing rarer these days. While her calls for reconciliation between Dinists and Yasnavans appeals, it will not be easy to counteract almost a thousand years of disunity, especially with Jalil refusing to do so much as lift a finger to help her.

Persic legends are told by parents to entertain and educate their children. They are told of figures like Ashty, the discoverer of fire, Tahmures, the first herder and first human ever to bind a demon...and most of all, they learn of the Katabic villain Azdaha, who first conquered and united Persis. Because Namirha, the great evil, coveted Persis, he enthralled Azdaha, a young lord of Katab. Namirha cursed Azdaha with two serpents that grew from his shoulders, whispering stolen wisdom and evil magic into his ears. This drove Azdaha to murder his father, seize his lands and conquer the tribes surrounding his new capital city, Siphon. He was the first shah, and he demanded daily human sacrifice in order to feed his shoulder-snakes, who consumed only human brains.

Taking up her own apron as a flag, the blacksmith Ziba united the pastoral Persics, the 8th Sea tribes and even the wild beasts in resistance to Shah Azdaha. Her prayers for victory drew down Dawna, the Angel of Victory, into her body, granting her massive vulture wings that bore her into the sky and gave her the strength to raise an ox-headed mace and bend a bow no other could. While Ziba's forces defeated the servants of Azdaha, human and demon, they could not slay the king, for he had been made immortal by Namirha's blessing. Instead, Ziba nailed Azdaha to the Heykal Alzzalam, his Dark Temple of Namirha that lay below the palace at Siphon. There, he writhes in torment even now, his serpents continually devouring his brain, which continually regenerates. His final curse as Ziba imprisoned him was this: "Just as you drat me to darkness, so I drat you to your own. A devil born of your own heart will haunt you and every Shah who sits the throne you stole from me." And indeed, a qarin did set upon Ziba the Beloved and every shah to follow her. Only the shah may perceive their qarin, which is in fact their self-destructive and evil tendencies given personification, and only the shah can bind the qarin away. Not all have managed to do so.

Shah Korvash the Great of House Haxamanisiya conquered the largest Terran empire since the Aztlan Empire, extending into Khemet, Numa, Curonia and Ussura to the west and into the 8th Sea and Cathay in the east. The empire updated and expanded the Solar Code, a set of laws granted by an ancient sun god to King 'Ammurabi of Karanduniash in ancient Persis. It established the Persic class system and many of its governmental and military traditions, and its satrapy system is still the Persic government model. Client-kings, called satraps, govern the provinces but pay tax and homage to the Shahanshah of Siphon - a Persic word meaning 'emperor,' essentially. Persic art flourished under the Haxamanisiya. However, when it finally outgrew its ability to collect taxes, many satraps revolted, and the Empire fell to Iskander the Great of Malcedon. He overtook many of its former holdings, returned Anatol Ayh to the Anatoli and drive the Persics back into their own borders. He claimed much of what would become the Crescent Empire, leaving the rest of the Haximanisiya holdings to the Numanari.

After the coming of the Second Prophet, al-Din spread rapidly through Persis, much to the worry of the Yasnavan upper class. Dinist anti-authoritarianism and mystic paradoxes seemed to glorify unholy anarchy and lies, and many satraps outlawed al-Din as a threat to civilization, which at the time was inextricably linked to Ahurayasna. In this period, Anatol Ayh began invading Persis and Ashur, and when the Anatoli Sultan Jalal declared his nation a Caliphate, the invasion efforts against Persis were increased in the name of liberating Persic Dinists. The fighting only ended during the Vodacce attacks of Sarmion in 705, forcing the two nations to unite against the common foe. With the Crescent Emperor then replacing the shah as ultimate authority, Anatoli culture flourished in Persis, leading to pushback both culturally and politically. In the chaos of the Fetret Devri, Persis declared independence from the Empire, and many of the satraps struggled to become shah. These petty conflicts and the fights between Dinists and Yasnavans lasted until the coming of the Iron Khan in 1219. The Persics murdered the diplomats the aging Khitai Khan had sent them to open trade, and in retaliation, he spent two years conquering the land. The Khanate policy of religious freedom ended much of the Dinist/Yasnavan tensions for a time, and various Khazar khanates held Persis until 1507.

The warrior-poet Khata'i of the Khednegu Order emerged, determined to take the throne in order to protect the interests of Persic Dinists. He led a band of Dinist zealots to victory over the nominally Dinist but extremely unpopular Gurkaniyan Khazar Khanate, establishing the Khata'id dynasty that even now rules Persis. He was an enthusiastic modernizer, and many Persics, especially in the upper classes, converted to al-Din under his rule in order to gain his favor. When the Empire invaded in 1532, Khata'i's son, Shah Tehmasib, fought them for 20 years. However, in 1555, Persis surrendered, and many Persic Dinists welcomed imperial rule, as it increased their privilege. Many Yasnavan Persics, enraged by Crescent soldiers destroying their holy sites, and a few Dinists that agreed with them began an insurrection that has only grown more and more violent and desperate since.

Next time: Castes

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014

NoWayToTheOldWay posted:

Anyway! I remain impressed with the amount of world building in 7thS, but I did have two minor quibbles:

1. There seems to be an inordinate focus on local folklore and forest goblins, because I am not sure how they are supposed to fit in campaigns of high intrigue, international piracy and gallant swashbuckling. Are your big-hatted heroes supposed to spend much time hexcrawling the wilderness?
2. People on average seem too nice! Most monarchs, apart from designated villain nations like Mbey or the French, seem like genuinely good people, idealistic pacifists or outright democrats. It’s fine and fun to have a country like the Commonwealth that’s explicitly a chaotic experiment, but looking at the leaders on the world stage it’s hard to imagine the world couldn’t end up happy and peaceful even without player intervention. A few too many heroes and a few too few villains, perhaps. (And the occasional character too much like the perfect GMPC players are supposed to be super excited to be best buds with...)

1. There's explicitly a society (secret would be pushing it) that you can be part of that's entire thing is monster hunting, so if players decide "Yes, this is what I want to be doing" and take Die Kruezritter during character creation then they have indicated they want to be engaging in Witcher style shenanigans and it's a good idea to have the monsters described and available. One of the really positive things in character creation here is that it really strongly signals what kinds of encounters players want their PCs having.

2. Despite idealistic monarchs, every nation presented has major societal tensions between at least one thing the monarch is doing and what a major social group wants. There's no nation where there isn't inherently some sort of conflict going on. I think part of the focus is avoiding large scale wars going on because when that happens it's a lot harder for PCs to meaningfully interact because the scale suddenly turns into "wargaming" and the system is not built for that.


Not directly related to this, but since there's been the discussion of IKRPG backstory, or just RPG backstory in general... I think that's just such a matter of opinion that I wish people would stop arguing about it. I personally like having the backstory because it makes it feel like the setting is a specific place and there's a basis for all the poo poo going on. I understand a lot of people find it impenetrable, and I get that. I will say that SPECIFICALLY in the case of iron Kingdoms, the backstory so heavily informs a lot of the in-setting groups and what they're doing that it's worth covering, since it's relevant to both of the aforementioned undead dragons, the Protectorate of Menoth, the elves, and the Circle Orboros (who will come up if someone ever gets around to covering Unleashed.). Regardless, as said I feel it's a matter of personal taste, certainly in the case of IKRPG or Warhams Fantasy RPG, where it was determined well in advance of the books being written due to being from a pre-existing wargame. Now, if it's something like one of those 90s era World of Darkness styled heartbreakers, then it becomes significantly more a question of "Why were you spending time on this poo poo instead of ensuring you have functioning rules"

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Warning!

So, I've got a terminology dilemma.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

These next two books love using the word "Gypsies" and "Cossacks". The latter term isn't really an issue, even if it's misused at points. The former... well... this is a book of the 1990s.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

The fictional world of Rifts® is violent, deadly and filled with supernatural monsters. Other dimensional beings often referred to as "demons," torment, stalk and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demigods, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

You won't see me use "the g-word" myself but where the book uses it in quotes and the like, I'm leaving it in. I'll use other terms. It feels improper to call them Romani, because they're such a gross stereotype as to not really be comparable. But it doesn't feel right for me to use the word.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Some parents may find the violence, magic and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

Maybe that's trying to eat my cake and still have it afterwards, but I didn't think it was proper to just erase it from the record, either. This book uses it. The next book uses it a lot.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Please note that none of us at Palladium Books® condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.

And that kind of problem isn't going to end with this book, so I needed to set my policy firmly. I'll do my best to use different terminology than the book does, but I won't hide its usage of it in direct quotes and terms. I'd pretty much already did this in Spirit West, but there's your warning going forward.




Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 1: "Maybe the decision not to put the Russian project on the shelf was a bad idea."

So, as I hinted in my last review, the story of Russia is an old one, as old as Mother Russia:
  • Kevin E. Krueger offers to write a manuscript for "Rifts® Russia".
  • Kevin Siembieda gives the thumbs up and starts commissioning art, and puts out an advertisement before he has the manuscript.
  • Krueger turns in the manuscript.
  • Siembieda reports it "was a mixed bag with a lot of cool ideas and names, but missed the mark and went in directions that seemed inappropriate, and didn't seem to have much of a Russian flavor."
  • So Siembieda rolls up his sleeves and sets to writing two books he didn't actually intend to write in the first place.
  • The books are knocked out about five months late and their whole publishing schedule went askew.
Siembieda expresses regret twice about deciding to write it and even takes time to complain about a week-long power outage inbetween. But, despite his Michiganian kvetching, we have a Russia book to review, don't we? Well... I do, anyway.


You don't get to find out about these cover girls until the end.

This is the first of two Russia books. The second one will be Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia™, which was released very shortly thereafter, at least. This one mainly details cyborg warlords and communists. Even though the Soviet Union had collapsed by the time of this writing, it still exults in Cold War-era stereotypes, because... well, that's what Siembieda grew up with, presumably. Well, it certainly gives this book that essential "Russian flavor", or at least the Russian stereotyping that kept Americans relatively sane during the Eighties. And though Rifts doesn't really have standardized "splatbooks", this book serves as the "cyborg book" in the way that Rifts Sourcebook 3: Mindwerks was the "crazy book", and Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star was the "mutant animal book".

But where is bear? I see no bear in this book. I see ATV that is bear. I see power armor that is bear. I see man that is named bear. I see also alien monster that is kind of like bear but is really no bear. How are you having Russian flavor without real genuine bear? Also faux Russia accent, it is funny! Russia is funny when it is not terrifying and invading and undermining other countries and ruining elections. Where is bear?!


Sometimes Warlord parties get a little rowdy.

Hearsay about Russia from Erin Tarn

So, Erin Tarn has heard some hearsay about Russia! Imagine that. See, after the cataclysm that brought the rifts, Russia was plunged into winter for 80 years. A... highly localized winter, I suppose, given no other regions suffered it. How did this happen?

:iiam:

And so people fled to other areas for the most part. However, then the winter went away, 20 years later, everything was back to Bambi and birches. People returned to Russia in a land rush like you do, but had to contend with local demons and monsters, who had returned to Russia in a victim rush. In turn, some of the settlers would militarize, becoming the Warlords of Russia. Who are sometimes referred to by Siembieda as "Cossacks" whether or not they are actually ethnically Cossacks. And then they fought and fought and fought and fought! Foughtfoughtfought! Foughtfoughtfought!

the warlords of russia shoooow

Also there are mutants because Chernobyl and poo poo, only now there are more Chernobyls. It's a franchise now. In any case, the Warlords are both good and bad, sometimes saviors and sometimes bandits, but ultimately they have the guns and cyborgs and make the rules. The grand majority of the country is still wilderness, though. But then she hands the mic over to Vladimir Kroslavsky... a surname that, as far as I can tell, may only exist in this book. But it's got that "Russian flavor"! It has both Vlad and Slav! Also he has that curly mustache! So Russian! So Slav!


He's so Pringles.

Hearsay about Russia from Vladimir Kroslovsky

Vlad tells us a lot of the same stuff only with more "Russian flavor".

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

"When the time of the Long Winter came, many of the Russian people — humans — could not endure the cold and hardships that came with it. My Great, Great Grandfather tried, so I know of what I speak. He talked about rich farmlands buried under 10 meters (33 feet) of snow and ice. Only hunters and scavengers had any prayer for survival, but even the wolf struggled and fled to the east.

So, it turns out each Warlord has their own branding and particular cyborgs, since each has claimed different cyborg facilities. But despite the fact they can make cyborgs, they still ride wild animals, because "they are not fragile like men or machines". Ah, sure, sure. Makes sense when you're a half-ton cyborg. You can build a man into a walking death machine, but making a half-track that rides through the snow without breaking is way tougher than that, I guess? Of course, more likely is that Siembieda got fixated on the notion of Cossack cavalry and will clawhammer that in to all of Western Russia no matter what-

In any case, Moscow got blown into a mysterious supercrater, but that's okay! Nearby there's New Moscow, which is home to the Sovietski, who are high-tech, fundamentalist communists. :ussr: For the record, I can't find any real-life use for "Sovietski" other than a mail-order business that specialized in selling old Soviet Union military surplus around the '90s, so I have to wonder if that's where the authors nabbed the name from. In any case they're the local human supremacist enclave, though not zealously genocidal like the Coalition is. They'll actually turn out to be relatively tolerant of D-Bees once Rifts World Book 36: Sovietski comes around. (Yes, there are at that many, and yes, that just came out at the time of this writing.) Siberia is apparently a hellscape of monsters and cold poo poo and few go there.


"I'll review another Rifts book, I said. 'What could go wrong?', I said."

We get some teases of stuff that'll be in Mystic Russia, like knock spirits, domovoy, Russian ghouls, ectohunters, demon hunters, and... Gyp... ethnic wanderers. Yep. We're not out of the nineties yet. You may think you learned all you needed to groan about Romani stereotypes in Rifts World Book 5: Triax & the NGR, but they'll be back!

Next: Russia, Russia, Russia!

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 17:37 on Aug 9, 2018

megane
Jun 20, 2008



do people actually play rifts on purpose

if so, why

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
It's like this: imagine that you insist on playing a fully verisimilitudinous game where 1 attack roll = 1 gunshot or punch, and the difference between a bullet and a bomb must be properly simulated. Also, this system must be able to run everything from "soldier fighting vampire" to "dragon fighting mecha."

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
I'm trying to figure out how you'd play a game by accident now. "Did I really buy a box that says Oops! All Siembieda?"

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017

megane posted:

do people actually play rifts on purpose

if so, why

Because you can play about anything. The rules are bad, yes, but what other easily-available game let you play a dragon alongside everything else without hemming and hawing about it? Like right there in the corebook? And it has toys! Big robots! Lasers and mutant animals and magic flying surfboards!

Those rules, though. And the writing. Man. They're not good. I'd just play nuTORG instead these days.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - How to Persic

Persis is the origin of a lot of Crescent culture - religious imagery, poetry, spots, governmental organization. Its caste system was kind of unique to it, though, at least before it was formally abolished. There were three castes: the free, called amelu, the slaves, called ardu, and everyone else, the mushkenu. Under the Solar Code, social mobility was rare but possible - a slave could buy freedom, a mushkenu could learn privileged trades and rise, an amelu could be stripped of rank due to a crime. It just didn't happen often. It is also worth noting that while slavery was only abolished three years ago, most people in the Empire - including most Persics - hated slavery even before that. It was seen as cruel and outdated; most Persics just believed that they couldn't manage to change it, in large part because a lot of their focus was on fighting Istani and his war on wizards. Anyway.

Amelu were the hereditary nobility, government officials, commissioned military officers, priests and professionals, including doctors and artisans. Crimes committed against them had a higher punishment, though any fines they had to pay or penalties for crime were also increased, to prevent them just buying their way out of problems. It was only semi-successful. Ardu were chattel slaves. Their one real right was the ability to own property (including other slaves), which their master could not just confiscate. The child of an ardu was ardu unless they married an amelu, in which case the child was amelu. There were a few laws meant to protect the slaves - a crime committed against a slave was considered to be committed against their master, and a crime committed by a slave was considered to be committed by their master. Masters had some but not total discretion over how to punish criminal slaves; they could not kill them or permanently injure them unless the shah gave permission. All others were mushkenu - unskilled or migrant workers, low status artisans, enlisted or conscript soldiers and most of the urban poor, for example. Severity of punishment for crimes committed by mushkenu were reduced, but so were the punishments of crimes committed against them.

Empress Safiye ordered the abolishment of this system, which Persics were unhappy about largely because of the paperwork that would involve, and because, for the nastier sorts of Persic, the ardu had been cheap labor. However, for all that Jalil is a wicked man, he enacted this particular change very quickly, finding the Imperial laws on social class significantly more straightforward; bureaucratic and social inertia still resist, however. Many Persic nobles saw the Solar Code as a protection they had now lost. Certainly, some of the flaws were undeniable, but now there were many questions. The tools an ardu used belonged to their master. What happens to them? Can an amelu now commit petty crimes freely, as their wealth will greatly outstrip the petty fines? Is it really not worse to rob a priest than a loan shark? Further, this has done little to abolish informal social class division, which were more important to daily life than the formal castes. Within each caste, social status varied wildly - literate and artistic professionals, for example, enjoy much more wealth and acclaim than even the best carpenters can hope for. Longstanding classism continues to enforce many social distinctions, and the law has not caught up.

Persics have herded livestock since time immemorial, and while herding is not any more praiseworthy a profession in Persis than elsewhere, it is part of the national identity in the same way soldiering is in Eisen. Agriculture supports the herds, and so wheat is the most important crop, followed by rice. Persic is also rich in minerals, which has often attracted would-be conquerors, but ensures that they will never, ever run out of salt, iron, copper, lead or gold. Persic crafts are the majority of their exports, particularly their pottery, bronzes, rugs, fine clothing and sculpture, which are all very popular internationally.

Persic families typically live in large housing compounds - and when I say family, I mean family. The entire extended family typically lives in one compound, and in cities, often specialize in a specific business, trading to meet needs that lie outside that business. In rural areas, families are typically more self-sufficient, growing their own food and educating their own children to secondary levels of education, tending to their own sick as needed. Elders who are too old to work lead and speak for the family compounds, and multiple families typically meet up outside compounds for worship. Recent oppression has pushed much Yasnavan worship back into the compounds, of course, and the hearth is often treated as a makeshift Temple of Hymn for Yasnavan families, many of whom attend Dinist services as well to avoid social suspicion.

Persic modesty demands that all, even visitors, cover their head and minimize the display of bare skin, especially the shoulders and legs. This is habitual for most anyway, given the chilly nights and the hot sun. In high security areas, however, Ilman will request the removal of any veils. All classes pursue good grooming and fashion, as appearing to not care about your appearance is a social faux pas. Even cheap fabrics tend to be sturdy and handsome, with bright contrasting colors appearing in the clothes of even the poor, with no clothing being flimsy, ever. Persics usually dress in layers, but everyone wears at least a shirt, loose trousers, a vest, jacket or robe, boots and some form of hat, turban or headscarf, regardless of gender or class. Wool is common, though more expensive clothing uses a lot of cotton, silk and precious metal. The rich spend a lot of money on jewelry and impressive hats, and they often wear their hair and beards long and elaborately coifed into various structures by use of jewelry and tiaras.

Persis is renowned for its sweets, and Persic cuisine combines dried fruits into many savory dishes. Their desserts and pastries are often honey-soaked or coated in syrup, then filled with ground pistachios or walnuts. Saffron is an important spice, used in many dishes of all kinds, and saffron-producing flowers can be seen all over the place. In lands where Ahurayasna remains dominant, chicken and lamb are more popular than beef, particularly chicken filled with pistachio stuffing and served in rich sauces and saffron rice.

The Persic military was once renowned for conquering much of the world. Now, they actively police their own people. Persis is best known for its specialist units, which tend to a limited number of things extremely well. The Immortals got their name from the Numanari, who called them that because as soon as one fell, another took their place. They wore scale armor and carried bows or slings, but they specialized more in close combat using large wicker shields, short spears, swords and daggers. Modern Immortals use updated, modern versions of the same arms and armor, taking the role of heavy infantry, best suited for urban areas or sieges, where they are extremely good at holding tight spots. Cataphracts are their cavalry equivalent, also named by the Numanari (this time, for their full-body mail or scale armor). They fight using a shield and either a lance or a sagaris, a form of heavy hammer or axe. They specialize in flanking maneuvers and cleanup of enemy units already softened up by the rest of the army.

Executioners get their name because of historic shahs using elephants to crush the heads of captives sentenced to death. They ride war elephants into battle. Elephants have been largely unknown in modern warfare due to the fact that ancient tacticians found hard counters to them, but they can easily devastate an unprepared army. The Executioners use long spears and muskets from atop the howdah, or elephant seat, mounted on the back, or fire back-mounted ballistae and small cannons. The army also has various tribal levies, provided by tribal chieftains and satraps. These may be anything from Khazari-style horse archers to artillery, but most are horse or camel cavalry. The Ilman Corps was founded by Shah Tehmasib during the Anatoli invasion of the 16th century, created as a counter to the Janissaries. They were formed from the toughest captured prisoners of war, and were the first military section to universally adopt the musket. Ilman were technically ardu, but highly paid and socially respected ardu. Jalil has turned the Ilman into his military police, in the belief that it'd be fairly easy to compel foreign slaves to control his people. They hated the job and the never-ending fight against the rebels, however, and they thought their task was over when the class system was abolished. Instead, Shah Jalil has used his qarin to control their minds by evoking the lesser qurana within them, implanting many of them with magical loyalty and obedience to his orders.

The Pahlavani is the name used for rebel warriors, though literally it means 'wrestler.' The rebels often met in zurkhanehs early in the insurrection, though they now prefer less conspicuous meeting spots. Pahalavani favor stealth and mobility over heavy armor, and typically dress in dark, padded clothes that blend easily into crowds and shadows. They have had a hard time getting guns, though the ATC has been starting to contact various rebel factions to sell them. Most of their weapons are meant for ambush tactics or urban combat - bows, slings, cheap pistols, crude grenades, clubs, short swords and knives. They often lace their blades in snake venom.

Ichneumons are not regular troops, but a group of specialists from the Dinist city of Danavad in the north. They are a society that defends Dinists in general, and hardcore pacifists in particular. They train using the composite recurve bow, adopted from the Khazari, and while it requires more strength than modern muskets, it is much quieter, faster to reload and more accurate, with almost four times the range. Ichneumons travel as they please, and while officially members of the Persic military, they have wide latitude in how they operate. They wear a traditional grinning metal war mask to conceal their identities and they rarely speak. The closest they have to a commander is the Dinist chaplain Gilda Banuzadeh, who passes battle plans to them via notes left at shrines. Recently, the Ichneumons have had increasing contact with Empress Safiye, which Jalil is not happy about. Under the Empress' encouragement, Gilda is now seeking an ancient artifact, the Journal of Muna, which was written by one of the Second Prophet's most loyal followers. Within it should be the entirety of Khalil's belief in peaceful protest and kindness, and if Safiye could get her hands on it, it would be a huge support for her new laws - something Jalil will stop at nothing to prevent.

Next time: The Rebellions

Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010
Is there an ETA on when Panic! At the Dojo is out for non-backers? I don't see it on DriveThruRPG yet.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


megane posted:

do people actually play rifts on purpose

if so, why

i always wonder whether or not these types of games are just coasting on inertia / nostalgia from their original 80s/90s fan base or whether they actually appeal to the next generation of proto-nerds. i know companies like WotC try very hard to update / reinvent D&D for the next round of kids and obviously D&D itself is an extremely recognizable brand, but for these other RPGs that are more niche and that you would likely not hear about unless you were already into the hobby, are they really drawing in any new blood?

i mean, especially given all of the other, better, more functional, more elegant games that can still let you play a vampire dragon cyborg, why would someone new to the hobby pick up Rifts?

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Freaking Crumbum posted:

i always wonder whether or not these types of games are just coasting on inertia / nostalgia from their original 80s/90s fan base or whether they actually appeal to the next generation of proto-nerds. i know companies like WotC try very hard to update / reinvent D&D for the next round of kids and obviously D&D itself is an extremely recognizable brand, but for these other RPGs that are more niche and that you would likely not hear about unless you were already into the hobby, are they really drawing in any new blood?

i mean, especially given all of the other, better, more functional, more elegant games that can still let you play a vampire dragon cyborg, why would someone new to the hobby pick up Rifts?
I've seen Rifts' share of shelf space at my local FLGSs steadily dwindle over the last decade-plus. I suspect it's reached the stage where it's mostly bought by longtime fans (and then mostly for reading about the setting and metaplot advancements, not actual play).

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

FMguru posted:

I've seen Rifts' share of shelf space at my local FLGSs steadily dwindle over the last decade-plus. I suspect it's reached the stage where it's mostly bought by longtime fans (and then mostly for reading about the setting and metaplot advancements, not actual play).

In fairness this is most RPG material.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017

Night10194 posted:

In fairness this is most RPG material.

True, but during my time working at the game store it was the biggest game people seemed to read and not actually play. (By that point oWoD had stopped production, admittedly.)

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

I for one am excited to play the greatest possible of warlords and rulers.

[RUSSIA'S GREATEST LOVE MACHINES DON'T INTERACT]

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

Freaking Crumbum posted:

i always wonder whether or not these types of games are just coasting on inertia / nostalgia from their original 80s/90s fan base or whether they actually appeal to the next generation of proto-nerds. i know companies like WotC try very hard to update / reinvent D&D for the next round of kids and obviously D&D itself is an extremely recognizable brand, but for these other RPGs that are more niche and that you would likely not hear about unless you were already into the hobby, are they really drawing in any new blood?

i mean, especially given all of the other, better, more functional, more elegant games that can still let you play a vampire dragon cyborg, why would someone new to the hobby pick up Rifts?
This is absolutely true of Rifts and Palladium in general, and they're a pretty extreme case. Kevin's always overseen design with the attitude that you should never make a change that might alienate the True Fans, and as a result, the only good thing you can say about Palladium design is that no books are ever rendered obsolete. Of course, the rules are idiosyncratic and terrible to begin with and have only gotten worse. Also, anyone who complains about this isn't a True Fan.

As a result, he has an aging, ever-shrinking audience of True Fans, minus a lot of people who eventually gave up in frustration, and probably hasn't attracted more than a handful of new customers in years. (Any surge in new fandom probably comes from licensing: the Savage Worlds version of Rifts, and the new Robotech stuff.)

In my anecdotal experience, Rifts customers come in two types: Nostalgic fans who don't really use or care about the rules, and that insufferable guy who thinks that using a pointlessly arcane and complicated system makes him smarter than you.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017

Man, I suddenly feel bad for people who bopped on over from Savage Worlds to pure, unfiltered Palladium.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually
Call of Cthulhu, I think, is an older game that ticks along with a fanbase that does receive new blood, and whose products (which are heavily scenario-oriented) do get used for actual play at the table. New CoC stuff isn't just bought by a shrinking, aging circle of collectors and bathroom-readers.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Dawgstar posted:

Man, I suddenly feel bad for people who bopped on over from Savage Worlds to pure, unfiltered Palladium.

going from a drinking straw to drinking from the firehose of grognard for sure

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


FMguru posted:

Call of Cthulhu, I think, is an older game that ticks along with a fanbase that does receive new blood, and whose products (which are heavily scenario-oriented) do get used for actual play at the table. New CoC stuff isn't just bought by a shrinking, aging circle of collectors and bathroom-readers.

I feel like CoC gets by on much more widespread name recognition (the same as D&D) where even if you've never played the game, if you've been alive and consumed pop culture in the last 40 years you definitely at least brushed up against it. Cthulhu-themed content is in cartoons and movies and video games and board games and socks and back packs and etc. to an extent that i would guess completely dwarfs the general public's awareness of Rifts.

it's hard for me to be sure objectively because i'm obviously a self-selecting member of the nerd club, but i don't really think the wider pop culture has ever crystalized around Rifts in the same way that it has embraced D&D and Cthulhu.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
There's a surfeit of Lovecraftian stuff because most of his work is public domain--so much that many Lovecraft fans now openly loathe the overabundance of low-effort Lovecraft. You can't really compare Palladium to that.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



Halloween Jack posted:

There's a surfeit of Lovecraftian stuff because most of his work is public domain--so much that many Lovecraft fans now openly loathe the overabundance of low-effort Lovecraft. You can't really compare Palladium to that.
I think all his work is public domain, but maybe he did something for hire or whatever, like he did for Houdini. (Not Whodini.)

I knew people who played rifts in like, their middle school days. I think they did the classical thing of kind of sort of getting the main system idea and just playing pretend with that instead of getting crunchy in the rules. I think they bought it instead of GURPS because the cover art was better and it was next to Ninja Turtles.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

megane posted:

do people actually play rifts on purpose

if so, why

The answer is "toyetic power fantasy".

Honestly, even these days, there aren't many games that come close to Rifts' options in terms of power level and variety of goofy concepts. There are some, like Shadowrun, that probably owe their longevity to similar notions, but there aren't many games where a dragon, a walking tank, a wizard, and a hobo are regularly part of the same party. Granted, there are generic systems that support that kind of thing, but not many that espouse it.

I think the age of Palladium works for and against it. There are the diehard fans and supporters, but it's also given then a lot of time to alienate older gamers. But it's not impossible for them to pull new players in - mostly people who have only been introduced via D&D-alikes and the OSR. (I saw a real example of this during GenCon.) You also have the fact that a lot of people will judge a game on the cover and what cool characters you can play rather than how the numbers add up. Granted, Palladium's books are pretty dated on the inside, but if you didn't know a thing about the company, their GenCon booth would seem pretty interesting.

My LGS is pretty mercenary and a lot of games come and go, but Palladium has always been present there. I know the guy that runs it and if something doesn't sell, he finds a way to move it off the shelf, via sales or eBay. So it's got a steady audience, whether or not it's dwindling. We'll see how they cope with the loss of Robotech and the like, but Siembieda's probably one of the most determined people as far as staying in the industry goes. I think Savage Worlds was a shot of blood, and it's been selling steadily since its launch. It's a question of how long that lasts, though, and whether or not it finally gets any support.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually
CoC's longevity (continually in print and continually producing new material since 1981) is really quite something, and I've often thought companies would benefit by looking at how CoC does things.

- Their publishing plan is mostly scenarios and campaigns, making CoC one of the few RPG lines (along with D&D/PF) for which most of the output is scenarios and not sourcebooks or splatbooks or metaplot nonsense. Everybody always says "scenarios don't sell" but maybe they're just not doing scenarios correctly?
- A total lack of metaplot and all its associated 1990s offspring (iconic characters, lots of in-character setting material, etc)
- A big, complete rulebook that doesn't need expansions for a full play experience
- A loose approach to continuity and a willingness to fold in new elements (ideas and monsters and magic items and outer gods)
- A low barrier to starting to play. You don't need to inhale an entire bookshelf of Forgotten Realms or Exalted books before you have a feel on the game and its setting. I was very happy to see one of the first products for the new 7E being a collection of campaign kickoff and one-shot scenarios for new GMs and players.

A lot of these things are "old school" in a very agreeable way (and not in the tirelessly poring over the OD&D booklets way) and I think other game makers would do well to consider them.

(Fun Fact: CoC's Japanese-language corebook outsells the English-language edition)

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008

Lipstick Apathy

FMguru posted:

Call of Cthulhu, I think, is an older game that ticks along with a fanbase that does receive new blood, and whose products (which are heavily scenario-oriented) do get used for actual play at the table. New CoC stuff isn't just bought by a shrinking, aging circle of collectors and bathroom-readers.

CoC benefits from not having Sandy Petersen or whoever rewrite every book at the last minute too. It's helped as well by being a game that doesn't use the new toy gimmick like Rifts does because the players are assumed to be fragile and to die easily.

The game also has a shared fictional universe, the universes of Lovecraft and affiliated weird fiction writers, as a basis, established its cosmology early on, and swept away a good deal of the cruft, racism, Derleth being Derleth, etc. I'm sure Rifts would be a much better and coherent game if it had a coherent universe and a framework that wasn't people pitching ideas to Siembieda, Siembieda reverse engineering them over a weekend, making sure there's some new toy to pull people in, and then sending the book to press without any sort of editorial oversight or review. I know RPG's are notorious for lacking editors but most companies will at least make sure the book works within their universe. Siembieda just seems to tap himself on the head and say, "You don't have to worry about a universal cosmology when there are infinite universes." After that I assume he would go back to slamming together action figures on his desk and making laser and/or explosion sounds.

Even Ken and Robin, who are writers of Lovecraft RPG's, note that most Cthulhu RPG stuff is based on the CoC RPG canon and not the literary canon. They did such a good job the first time, most writers don't feel the need to change things up out of laziness and/or the fact that it's better than the scant literary canon.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

The answer is "toyetic power fantasy".

It's mainly this.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - Insurgency

Persis is an ideological warzone. Before Jalil took the throne, the various Persic Insurrectionist groups were divided into a few factions, but agreed on one thing: Persic independence from the Empire. Now, that's changed. Some still fight for Persic's independence, but many are focused within instead, trying to fight Jalil's laws or trying to save Yasnavan culture from being wiped out. The Simurgh's Feathers are the most moderate of the rebel factions. They take their name from the legendary king of birds, the Simurgh, which appears in both Dinist and Yasnavan folklore, and whose feathers have magic powers. Early in the rebellion, their only demand was Persic's freedom from the Crescent Empire. Now, they want a free Persis in which al-Din and Ahurayasna can exist in harmony, similar to the religious freedoms held under the Khazari. When Shah Jalil began tightening his grip, the group turned to a man named Sajad Dariushzadeh to lead them. He's a sensible, pro-Caliphate man and he has altered their goal from exiting the Empire to deposing Jalil before he can destroy Persis. The faction works secretly to fight the shah's plans, and have several times faced off against the Ox's Fist to protect Persic sorcerers.

The Eternal Flame are a conservative faction that has been growing in the past few years. They want to restore Ahurayasna to its place as the Persic state religion, and the expel Caliphate influences from Persis. They are not explicitly opposed to al-Din, but tend to resent it and its social primacy in what should be a Yasnavan nation. Flame zealots have launched several off-the-books attacks on mosques and Dinist communities. Eternal Flame strategy is to act on every level of resistance. Some put on nonviolent protests or acts of large-scale civil disobedience, others infiltrate Crescent government offices to commit sabotage, and others gather cells of soldiers to attack the Persic Army.

The Bivar Asp take their name from one of the epithets of Azdaha - Bivar Asp, the Ten Thousand Horses. They want to see the throne of the shah restored, but specifically to the lineage of Azdaha rather than of Ziba the Beloved, who they believe failed Persis. They will use any means necessary. An Azdahid shah might just released the serpent-king himself to wreak havoc on the traitors of Persis, allowing Namirha to scourge the world again. Why they want that part is not entirely clear. However, their extremist views make the Bivar Asp the most dangerous of the rebel factions. Their low-level thugs attack dervishes, burn mosques and poison water supplies as flagrantly as they can. Worse are their Shoulder Snakes, elite killers, spies and saboteurs who infiltrate the Imperial military and bureaucracy, pushing things towards chaos and conflict by subtlety and sabotage. The leader of the Horses at least has good reason to want the throne to go to the line of Azdaha - she is Sepideh Azdahazadeh, descendant of Azdaha and teacher of dark, serpentine magics to the Shoulder Serpents.

The Peacock Cult are a very young faction, preachers of the gospel of the Peacock Angel Azazel and Azazel's chosen champion, Briska Naynawi. A group of Ilman soldiers arrived at the Naynawi zurkhaneh to arrest her immediately after she declared herself, but she drove them off with peacock-feather arrows. Now she travels to the towns near Karanduniash, drawing in new followers and fighting evil jinn and demons with her holy arrows. She seeks the other six angels of Azazel's choir, whom she suspects have taken prophet-champions in the same way Azazel chose her. She now has to dodge Persic authorities and Yasnavan radicals, neither of whom are interested in her message of love, unity and syncretism of Yasnavan and Dinist theology.

Locations! Siphon is the capital of Persis, and has been since Persis existed. Once, it was a city of faith and fire, teeming with poets, riders and mystics. Now, even in peacetime, it is a city under siege. Jalil's brainwashed Ilman patrol the streets for any sign of rebellion, and the locals live in fear, both of the rebels and the Shah's forces. The Qazvin River brought the city's first settlers, for its banks were rich and fertile, good for farming and ranching. It was once the primary method by which the Persic navy got to sea, but they don't have one any more. The Khata'ids tried to rebuild it to fight the Anatoli in the 1500s, but couldn't get the lumber to do so. Since then, Imperial sanctions have prevented them from building any large vessels, and even their riverboats are imported from Cathay and Ussura. The Empire is unaware, however, that many of those riverboats belong to the ATC, or that the wealthy merchant Darayavahush, whose family has controlled the Siphon docks for almost a century, is now in their employ. He is a backer of the Simurgh's Feathers and wants the Company to throw their resources behind the cause. The Company has actually made deals with the Feathers, the Eternal Flame and the Bivar Asp, as they are eager to support any challengers to the Imperial throne, which denies them access to most of the Empire.

On the east bank is the Ox's Head, the shah's palace. It is a massive, towering megalith with relief carvings along its entire surface, making it a sort of de facto museum of Persic stonework and statuary, topped with the massive bull head statue that gives it its name. The interior is full of halls, apartments and treasure vaults to show off the shah's artwork, wealth, fashion and military equipment collections. In the very center is a limestone flower that grows towards the ceiling, surrounded by a ring of fire with a stone bridge over it. The serpents carved into the stone date back to Azdaha's rule, and are almost unnaturally realistic, centuries ahead of all other statuary of its time. No one has ever had the courage to unmake them. A secret stair under the throne leads to the Haykal Alzzalam, where Azdaha is imprisoned, alongside all the jinn that the Persic shahs have bound over the millennia. The palace is surrounded by a full square mile of parkland and support structures, such as the Ilman barracks, the royal zurkhaneh and circus, or Khata'i's Mosque. A more modern mansion sits on the riverbank and is used to receive dignitaries; the Ox's Head is great for dramatic proclamations, but it's drafty and intimidating, not good for receiving diplomats or entertaining heads of state.

Upstream is Mica's Arch, a tomb-like rock formation that spans the river and has been reinforced with ceramic tiling to fight erosion. This was built by the cult of Mica, Angel of Contracts, in 1511, just before they left their possessions behind, disappeared into it and were never seen again. Afterwards, a Dinist mosque set up there and has been going ever since. During the war with Anatol Ayh, the local Dinists took refuge in the Arch, which the caliph's guns never targeted. It is now under heavy Ilman guard, as many revolutionaries have targeted the Arch for demolition due to its status as a Dinist gathering point.

Khata'i rebuilt the western bank as a park, with universities around its edge, then Temples of Hymn and homes alongside market squares and cafes. However, most of these were leveled by the Anatoli cannons in the 1550s, and only their foundations remain. More temporary structures of brick, wood and mud rather than stone have been built on the ruins. Locals have occasionally tried to rebuild the more iconic buildings, like the Temples of Hymn, but tend to stop when the Ilman come to glare angrily at them. Unlike the noble homes on the east bank, the west bank is a tough place, ruled over by thieves' guilds and protection rackets. The law enforcement exists, but ignores most crime in favor of hunting for insurgents. Every few days, explosions or gunfire break the peace of the neighborhood, as a rebel cell attacks the Ilman or vice versa.

Next time: The TOMB OF INFINITE DEVILS

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017

Alien Rope Burn posted:

My LGS is pretty mercenary and a lot of games come and go, but Palladium has always been present there. I know the guy that runs it and if something doesn't sell, he finds a way to move it off the shelf, via sales or eBay. So it's got a steady audience, whether or not it's dwindling. We'll see how they cope with the loss of Robotech and the like, but Siembieda's probably one of the most determined people as far as staying in the industry goes. I think Savage Worlds was a shot of blood, and it's been selling steadily since its launch. It's a question of how long that lasts, though, and whether or not it finally gets any support.

Yeah, one thought we might get a whole roll-out of SW stuff as there is clearly a mountain of stuff that SW could adapt from the original but... yeah, nothing.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


Panic at the Dojo: Archetypes - Phantom, Punk, Teacher

PHANTOM

Phantoms are the weird archetype. Their psychic or magical powers give them the ability to adapt to any situation - what they lack in power they make up for in flexibility. They have an answer to every problem, and are pros at ringing out their enemies, but lack any serious offensive power.

Focused Phantom Ability: You always have access to the Unique Actions from all of your Stances, and their costs are reduced by 1, to a minimum of 1+ or 2 tokens.
Fused Phantom Ability: You get the cost reduction, but not the always-available ability.
Frantic Phantom Ability: You always have access to the Unique Actions from all of your stances. While you're in your Phantom stance, their costs are reduced.

Aura Style
Range: 1-3
Shields are the name of the game - give everyone shields, then benefit when they break. You gain a 3-point Shield at the start of your turn. Whenever an enemy within range damages a shield, you can move them one space. Whenever a Shield breaks within range, you gain 1 Iron Token.

3 Basic Tokens: Shield Up
An ally within range gains a 3-point Shield.

Good stances: Aura Zen is the obvious pick for shield stacking. Aura Song/Iron give you good support synergy and more tokens to Shield Up with. Aura Dance/Shadow give you tons of Speed Tokens, which you can then turn into more Shields.

Crying Style
Range: 1-4
An area debuff style that mitigates enemy attacks by weakening huge numbers of enemies. At the start of your turn, give one Weakness Token to all enemies within range. At the end of your turn, Challenge an enemy within range and give them a Weakness Token.

6+: Banshee's Wail
All enemies within range gain a Weakness Token, and all Traps and Walls within range become Rubble.

Good stances: Crying Control boosts your Range to 1-7, making your Weaken effects even more effective. Crying Blaster increases your Range while also offsetting your weak offensive power with Shockwave. Crying Vigilance lets you give even more Weakness Tokens to tough enemies. Crying Zen guarantees a Banshee's Wail every turn.

Puppet's Style
Range: 1-5
Despite the name, you're the puppeteer in this style, not the puppet. When you use Speed Tokens to move, you can instead move any ally, enemy, or non-Edge obstacle within range. If you move a Trap or Wall, they become Rubble.

3+: Pull The Strings
Move an enemy or ally you can see 3 spaces.
5+: Do it again.

Good stances: Puppet's Dance lets you turn Throw and Grapple into Speed Tokens, then spend them to move allies and enemies. Puppet's Control expands the range of your remote movement ability. Puppet's Shadow/Reversal let you keep your Speed Tokens between turns to move enemies throughout the round.

Spirit Style
Range: 1-3
This one's all about summoning phantasmal Copies and using them to fight safely at a distance. Your Copies ignore Edges and Walls, and after you move, you can move any number of Copies one space.

1+: Now You Se Me...
Place a Copy into an empty space within range.
3+: Place another one.
5+: Place another one.

Destroy 1 Copy: ...Now You Don't
Technically counted as a Token Action, but it costs a Copy instead of a token. Teleport into the space of the destroyed Copy.

Good stances: Spirit Shadow lets you move and create Copies constantly and escape from danger easily. Spirit Dance can spread Copies everywhere to trigger its support abilities across the whole battlefield. Spirit Iron/Power can use Copy teleportation to get around their speed penalties.

Vortex Style
Range: 1-3
This is probably the strangest of the Phantom styles, built around opening holes in reality and using them to move around the battlefield at will. Edges can't remove you from play, and when you're standing on an Edge space, you are considered adjacent to (and therefore can move directly onto) any other Edge space.

4+: Black Hole
Place an Edge into an empty space wtihin range. These become portals for you, and bottomless pits for everyone else.

Good stances: Vortex Dance/Shadow/Reversal give you enough speed to exploit all these Edges conveniently. Vortex One-Two/Power/Fury can use Edges to unexpectedly ambush enemies for heavy damage.

PUNK

Hey, it's this guy again. Punks are tanks, fighting by outlasting their enemies and hitting harder the more damage they take. Their styles encourage going full aggro and biting off more than you can chew, but if you survive, you can dish out just as much punishment as you took. Complexity: One star.

Focused Punk Ability: At the start of your turn, add a number to your Action Pool with a value of twice the damage on your current health bar, or 1 if it's full.
Fused Punk Ability: Same as Focused, but its value is halved.
Frantic Punk Ability: Same as Focused.

So, if you have a 12-HP Health Bar, but 7 HP on it, then a Fused Punk would add a 5 to their Action Pool, and a Focused or Frantic Punk would add a 10.

Bleeding Style
Range: 1
Tenacity made form - the more damage you take, the harder you fight. If you're at 0 HP, you don't get Taken Out - you can just keep fighting, until everyone on your side is at 0 HP at the same time.

2 HP: Lash Out
Technically a Token Action, but it costs HP instead of tokens. Push an adjacent enemy two spaces.

12+: I'm Still Here
Deal 7 damage to an enemy within range, then push them 7 spaces. No Form gets an Action Die bigger than a d10, so this is generally only usable using the Focused or Frantic Ability. Take as much damage as you can!

Good stances: Bleeding Wild can gain two bonus dice each turn when at 0 HP. Bleeding Blaster can hit multiple enemies at once with I'm Still Here. Bleeding Song can keep you healing allies even while taken out.

Brawling Style
Range: 1
This is all about building up power, then using that power to keep yourself alive. Whenever your Shield breaks, or whenever you deal damage without spending a Power Token, you gain a Power Token.

2 Power Tokens: Tough It Out
Gain a 2-point Shield.

Good stances: Brawling One-Two builds Power Tokens at double speed. Brawling Zen lets you stack multiple Shields for extra Power Tokens, then spend them on more Shields. Brawling Wild can spend Power Tokens on Fury, then gain more Power Tokens from the damage, then spend them on more Fury.

Flashy Style
Range: 1
Another interesting style, this is about doing less things, but doing them extra hard. After you roll Action Dice, you can combine two of the dice into one larger value.

X: Show Off
Perform two of Movement, Damage, A Challenger Approaches, Put It Out!, or Throw, as if you had spent an X on each of them. Can only be used once per turn.

Good stances: Flashy Reversal can get around Show Off's once-per-turn limit by using it on other people's turns. Flashy Shadow/Wild have naturally huge pools of dice to combine. Flashy Power is much more likely than any other stance to be able to pull off a 9+ Crush as needed. Flashy Dance can do some really amazing Throws.

Knockdown Style
Range: 1
Anyone who wants to take you down will pay for it with blood. Whenever an enemy damages you, deal 1 damage to them.

4+: Take It On The Chin
Each enemy within range deals 1 damage to you, taking 1 damage in turn from your ability. Then, deal 3 damage to one of them.

Good stances: Knockdown Zen can set up a shield, then Take It On The Chin to make everyone in your range take 1 damage from hitting the shield AND 1 damage from your Knockdown ability. Knockdown Blaster/Control increase your Range, letting you damage more enemies at once with Take It On The Chin.

Taunting Style
Range: 1
A tanking archetype isn't worth much without an aggro build, right? Whenever you take damage, gain an Iron Token. Whenever you take damage from the enemy with your Challenge, move one space.

1+: Is That All You Got?
Challenge an enemy you can see, then gain an Iron Token.

X: Not Good Enough
Give X-2 Weakness Tokens to your Challenged enemy, and discard the Challenge.

Good stances: Taunting Iron/Vigilance give you tons of Iron/Weakness token synergy. Taunting Reversal/Shadow can move out of turn to avoid the enemy they've taunted.

TEACHER

Another very strange Archetype, the Teacher does little direct fighting - your days of rear end-kicking are mainly behind you. Instead, you act as a power multiplier for the rest of the team, donating power and Action Dice to your disciples. Complexity: Two stars.

Focused Teacher Ability: At the end of your turn, gain two Inspired Tokens.
Fused Teacher Ability: Same, but only gain one.
Frantic Teacher Ability: Same as Focused.

Only a Teacher can use Inspired Tokens. You can spend an Inspired Token during an ally's turn to roll a d8 and add it to their Action Pool.

Paitent Style
Range: 1
A strange style that favors holding back for a long time. You can only take one Action per turn, but your Action Pool doesn't empty between turns. At the end of your turn, all your Speed Tokens are turned into Iron Tokens.

X: Waiting Game
Add X+1 to your Action Pool, then move one space. Can only be used during enemy turns.

Good stances: Patient Reversal can use two Actions per turn, one from the Style and one from the Form. Patient Song/Dance get lots of Speed Tokens, which you can then turn into Iron Tokens. Patient Shadow/Wild give you lots of little numbers. Patient Control/Power give you a few big numbers.

Side note on this one - the description in the text seems to suggest that the intent is to build up a bunch of numbers, then blow them all at once for one killer turn, but as written, that seems like it's impossible, because the style doesn't offer any exceptions for the "one action per turn" trait.

Elder Style
Range: 1-2
The style for a master who can still draw on his old skills. Any of the Unique Actions for the Form paired with this style have their costs reduced to 1+ or 2 Tokens. Once per turn, you can use a Unique Action from any style or form for any of your Stances at no cost, as if you spent a 7.

Good forms to have on your other Stances: Blaster Form (Amplify), Iron Form (Protect), Power Form (Crush), Song Form (Sing Along).

Good stances: Elder Shadow can use Stunt for only 2 Speed Tokens, rapidly teleporting around and covering the battlefield in traps.

Bad stances: Elder Reversal has negative synergy, since Counter Attack is unaffected by its cost reduction, and its ability to use unexpected Unique Actions is hampered by the one Action per turn limit.

Mastermind Style
Range: No
Kind of like Warlords in D&D 4e, but even more so. While in a stance using this style, you cannot take any actions. Instead, you make others take actions for you!

After rolling your Action Dice, instead of acting, you use each value to make an ally within line of sight take that Action with that die. It executes as if they had taken that action themselves. Since that means you can't get any Speed Tokens, you move one space after each Action performed by an ally during your turn.

Good stances: Mastermind Vigilance can make your allies weaken enemies for you, even at range. Mastermind Reversal can give anyone's actions to anyone else at any time. Mastermind Iron has Armor and doesn't suffer at all from the Form's speed penalty.

Bad stances: Mastermind One-Two/Power/Zen all have Abilities that do nothing if you aren't taking any actions yourself. Avoid those.

Motivating Style
Range: 1-2
A much more enthusiastic, heroic kind of teacher. At the end of your turn, all allies within range heal, and you get a free Inspired Token.

4+: You Can Do It!
Target an ally in range, choose two: They heal, they move two spaces, they gain a copy of a token they hold, they discard a token they hold.

Good stances: Motivating Dance/Shadow can put you in the position you need to be in to motivate people properly. Motivating Iron has double the defense/support options. The book doesn't list it, but I imagine Motivating Control is also pretty goddamn nice.

Training Style
Lead your allies by example! At the end of your turn, you give one ally a Training Token - this can be spent before performing any Action to increase all of its numbers by one, same as Take Aim last update.

3+: Watch Closely
Gain one Training Token. If you spend it before the turn ends, give an ally one Training Token.

Good stances: Any stance. I guess ones with lots of Action Dice, if you want to be ideal.

Next: Trickster, Underdog, Wanderer, Winterblossom.

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



FMguru posted:

CoC's longevity (continually in print and continually producing new material since 1981) is really quite something, and I've often thought companies would benefit by looking at how CoC does things.

- Their publishing plan is mostly scenarios and campaigns, making CoC one of the few RPG lines (along with D&D/PF) for which most of the output is scenarios and not sourcebooks or splatbooks or metaplot nonsense. Everybody always says "scenarios don't sell" but maybe they're just not doing scenarios correctly?
- A total lack of metaplot and all its associated 1990s offspring (iconic characters, lots of in-character setting material, etc)
- A big, complete rulebook that doesn't need expansions for a full play experience
- A loose approach to continuity and a willingness to fold in new elements (ideas and monsters and magic items and outer gods)
- A low barrier to starting to play. You don't need to inhale an entire bookshelf of Forgotten Realms or Exalted books before you have a feel on the game and its setting. I was very happy to see one of the first products for the new 7E being a collection of campaign kickoff and one-shot scenarios for new GMs and players.

A lot of these things are "old school" in a very agreeable way (and not in the tirelessly poring over the OD&D booklets way) and I think other game makers would do well to consider them.

(Fun Fact: CoC's Japanese-language corebook outsells the English-language edition)
I didn't know that about the CoC RPG material in Japan. I was wondering how all that kept getting into their pop media. I guess now I know.

I think CoC has a couple other playability benefits.

* No XP tracking poo poo. That is awful. We have computers for this, until we get rid of them and replace them with Mentats. I don't want to tally up every orc I slayed. CoC's skill check system has a simple logic.
* All those old scenarios are pretty much usable rules-as-written even up to the current edition. The big shift in 7th edition that is not strictly "a player-facing tool to deal with SAN issues" is that now stats are also on a percentage basis. All you have to do with the old numbers is multiply by 5. I am confident that if you are GMing an RPG that does not use the word "awesome" like an old timey telegram uses "stop," you can multiply a number from 1-20 by 5 on the fly with only a little help from your calculator/Mentat.
* A pretty approachable setting which is recent enough to be familiar while logically removing a lot of the adventure-derailing conveniences of the modern day.

About the only change I'd make would be to rename SAN to Psyche or something since it is in fact "mental hit points".

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