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Mr.Misfit
Jan 10, 2013

The time for
SkellyBones
has come!


JcDent posted:

[...]

Oh, your Russian Peasant OCC found a Turboclass SuperLass Magblast railgun? Good luck powering it up without catastrophic overload, firing it without breaking your spine and making enough money to bribe people who would know where a reload could be found.

So what I´m getting from this is that you hate for your players to have fun?

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Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



JcDent posted:

I think the problem that loot-mill based games have is that IRL personal weapons don't have big differences. An assault rifle is an assault rifle is an assault life, and there's really no overwhelming "damage" and accuracy increases (unless you're comparing a clapped out Khyber pass AK and a customized HK417). So if you want to take on a tank, you need something beefier - and goons make a lot of noise about how an RPG-7 probably won't do poo poo against a modern Western MBT. So you need an ATGM for that, but it's a very different weapon from a rifle.

That is, unless you start giving people mag rifles or whatever.

A solution would be to split a game like Rifts in tiers, with some classes/races/guns being available only to higher tier people.

Oh, your Russian Peasant OCC found a Turboclass SuperLass Magblast railgun? Good luck powering it up without catastrophic overload, firing it without breaking your spine and making enough money to bribe people who would know where a reload could be found.

I think the real secret is to divorce yourself from linear damage schemes and go with opposed-roll, logarithmic-scaled resolution, where it still has similar escalating values, but if you can read the probabilities right, you can see that there's still a chance, even if it's slight. And the cool thing is that stuff that adds to that to that roll like adding dice to a die pool or Fate points or Hero points or Karma can change those probabilities so you can disable big mecha and tanks and poo poo with small arms, so you can have both your realism and your cinematic flair at the same time.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Young Freud posted:

Actually, this got started with the Southern Cross books, because, upon a rewatch of Robotech, I realized that Siembedia has no concept of either "plot armor" or "the golden BB", since there's several scenes of the main characters fighting those big bioroids with personal weapons and wearing just their body armor (which was made MDC in those books), not to mention the open cockpit of the hovertanks.

Point taken! To be fair, I think forgetting Southern Cross is pretty natural. Granted, stuff like the open cockpit was just bad robot design in general.

Savage Rifts just gets around the MDC issue by having Heavy armor that can only be damaged by Heavy weapons... unless a GM says otherwise. It avoids the scaling issues and at least gives an out for players with clever ideas.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Young Freud posted:

I think the real secret is to divorce yourself from linear damage schemes and go with opposed-roll, logarithmic-scaled resolution, where it still has similar escalating values, but if you can read the probabilities right, you can see that there's still a chance, even if it's slight. And the cool thing is that stuff that adds to that to that roll like adding dice to a die pool or Fate points or Hero points or Karma can change those probabilities so you can disable big mecha and tanks and poo poo with small arms, so you can have both your realism and your cinematic flair at the same time.

Another option is to not try to model everything from mice to tanks with an ablative hit point system.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Point taken! To be fair, I think forgetting Southern Cross is pretty natural. Granted, stuff like the open cockpit was just bad robot design in general.

Savage Rifts just gets around the MDC issue by having Heavy armor that can only be damaged by Heavy weapons... unless a GM says otherwise. It avoids the scaling issues and at least gives an out for players with clever ideas.

I prefer the heavy weapon system compared to MDC, but it's one of the areas I always felt Savage Worlds could just drop. It makes sense from it's wargaming background where you don't necessarily want a large squad of extras to take down a tank by just pouring on machine-gun fire until the aces land in their favor...but in a game focused on a smaller team of player characters it doesn't seem necessary.

Most Heavy Armor has enough toughness that they're in no danger from small arms fire and most Heavy Weapons work more from massive AP values than anything else. So if a player's assault rifle does manage to get the 10 Aces in a row needed to inflict a single wound on an Abrams...fair enough I say.

Might be more of an issue if I used the WW2 era stuff where a tank could easily have less Toughness than an above average PC...but that's also fairly easy to correct.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




LatwPIAT posted:

Another option is to not try to model everything from mice to tanks with an ablative hit point system.

Yeah, it's falling into the same trap of being way too complicated and yet not complicated enough.

Even Civilization style 'pikemen beat tanks' has both plausible explanations and real-life precedent, and in-game it's just a matter of numbers. And force multipliers. Which is fitting as a tank in unfavourable terrain is incredibly vulnerable. (Actually fitting in Civ V at least where tanks are an upgrade to cavalry units, which have extra mobility but don't receive defensive bonuses at all)

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ghost Leviathan posted:

plausible explanations

WWII Italians is not a plausible explanation :colbert:

Mr.Misfit posted:

So what I´m getting from this is that you hate for your players to have fun?

Well, that, and this prevents the Tier game from being accidentally broken. Sell the turbo gun, get some AK-48s to replace your 500 year old mosins and spend the rest on moonshine.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





JcDent posted:

Well, that, and this prevents the Tier game from being accidentally broken. Sell the turbo gun, get some AK-48s to replace your 500 year old mosins and spend the rest on moonshine.
Maybe if you have a story that is turning into Russian peasants shooting tanks with megalasers, you should either have a discussion with your players about how this does somewhat impact your plan to do a low-key, mood-heavy story of the Sand Plague menacing the town, OR: you lean into it.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Nessus posted:

Maybe if you have a story that is turning into Russian peasants shooting tanks with megalasers, you should either have a discussion with your players about how this does somewhat impact your plan to do a low-key, mood-heavy story of the Sand Plague menacing the town, OR: you lean into it.

"Talk to your players" is an option forgotten more often than "not playing".

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




There's something to be said for Russian peasants jury-rigging megalasers into artillery pieces to kill GI Joe tanks.

Also, Venture Bros was right, GI Joe are the bad guys.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ghost Leviathan posted:

There's something to be said for Russian peasants jury-rigging megalasers into artillery pieces to kill GI Joe tanks.

Also, Venture Bros was right, GI Joe are the bad guys.

October Revolution 2: October Harder

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


The Rifter posted:

Warning!

listen up

The Rifter posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

take warning

The Rifter posted:

The fictional Worlds of Palladium Books® are 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 demigod, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

take warning

The Rifter posted:

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

really gotta take warning

The Rifter 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.

:toot:



The Rifter Rifts Round-Up Special '98, Part 1: "Palladium Books is Hot!"

Well, I didn't exactly plan to do this. The Rifter is the Palladium house magazine, sure, but since it wasn't particularly "canon", I figured I didn't need to sweat it too much.

The Rifter #1 posted:

Optional and Unofficial Rules & Source Material Please note, that the vast majority of rules, tables, characters, equipment, adventures and stories are "optional" or "alternative" things one can include in his campaign or enjoy reading. They are not "official" to the main games or world settings. For example, The excellent story, Siege Against Tolkeen, is likely to be very different than Siembieda's "official" world book(s) when it comes out. Likewise, Siembieda had not considered putting high-tech Wolfen in Italy and may not include them in any "official" sourcebook. As for optional tables (like the Nightbane® Morphus Tables) and adventures, if they sound cool or fun, use them. If they sound funky or inappropriate for your game, ignore them.

All the material in The Rifter™ has been included for two reasons: One, because we thought it was imaginative and fun, and two, we thought it would stimulate your imagination with fun stuff that you can use (if you want) or which might inspire you to create your own wonders.



A lot of it is, basically, just fan material Palladium has opted to publish without giving any seal of approval. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's what they do. Then I came to Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia, which tossed a good chapter's worth of overflow material into the magazine. When Rifts World Book 21: Splynn Dimensional Market referred me to issue #4 for metaplot material, I knew I was in trouble. It was worth covering, but how? It didn't really fit as an add-on to any upcoming review. And then issue #2 had more "official" material...

So here we are.

This covers The Rifter issues #1 through #4, published in 1998. First off, I'll sum up the "unofficial" material for each issue, and then cover the "official material" in greater depth.



The Rifter #1

  • Rifts City Creation Rules (by Eric J. Lind aka the Tungsten Avenger): The standard organizational rules from Ninjas & Superspies, Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms, or Rifts Mercenaries, only this time for cities. We'll have a similar system in Rifts World Book 19: Australia, but I can't say they've ever enthused me. Maybe if you put them in the player's hands, they'd be a little interesting? They're still never fleshed out enough to be really useful, but are just complicated enough to bog things down a little.
  • The New Roman Republic (by Rodney Scott): Rifts World Book Null: Rifts Italy. This has Wolfen (wolf-people from Palladium Fantasy) pop through a rift and set up a psuedo-Roman republic in Italy, which honestly does fit with their existing characterization and I like it. I'm less fond of Sicily being run by human supremacist Mafiosos that are buddy-buddy with the Coalition, though.
  • The Knights of Kamnos (by James M.G. Cannon): This introduces a new planet to the alternate Phase World setting (from Rifts Dimension Book 2: Phase World) called Kamnos which was settled by otherdimensional humans rifted there by happenstance. They founded the "Knights of Kamnos" as their defenders, who are set up as fairly forgettable rivals for the Cosmo-knights. There's a class for them, and it gives some physical bonuses and randomized superpowers. Also, it has ridiculously high requirements so ain't nobody playing it RAW.
  • The Hammer of the Forge (by James M.G. Cannon): hahahahahahHAHAHAHAHA- anyway, this is a piece of ongoing fanfiction taking place in the Phase World setting that will continue on through over 50 issues. No, really. Has anybody actually read all of this? Let me know if you did and what you thought of it. Then, you might want to get a check-up on your mental health.
  • The Siege Against Tolkeen (by David Haendler): Another ongoing piece of Rifts fanfiction, this time about the Coalition invasion of the magic community Tolkeen. Has nothing to do with the later books about that. Probably going to cover this later? Maybe? We'll see.

We also get the news that Agents of Gaming (mainly known for Babylon 5 licensed games) had licensed Rifts for a 28mm miniatures game. It was eventually dropped and never released. We also get some cancellations of books - Siembieda planned to write Rifts® Japan 2 but never found the time (and never has). Rifts® Lemuria was planned to be written by Steve Sheiring, but-

The Rifter #1 posted:

Unfortunately, he quickly (and I suspect a bit painfully) discovered that writing did not come easy for him — which is probably why he's Palladium's Director of Sales and my right hand man and not a professional writer.

Yes, Sheiring is the guy who would be found to have been robbing Palladium for years. Lemuria was eventually released well over a decade later under a different author.

Rifts books announced for 1998 that have never ever come out at the time of this posting: Rifts® Scotland and Rifts® Dimension Book: The Grand Paladins™.



The Rifter #2

  • The Rifts Connection: Crossing Realities, Timelines, and Possibilities (by Kevin Siembieda): Official material, but it's reprinted in Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers, which I already reviewed, and can be found under the header "The Megaversal Perspective".
  • The Blood Shaman (by Steven Trustrum): A new wizard O.C.C. intended for the Wormwood setting (from Rifts Dimension Book 1: Wormwood. Engages in self-harm and blood sacrifice for boosted P.P.E. but goes crazy and has to be evil, like you do. Can heal people by making them drink their blood for maximum edginess. Lastly, it gets some blood spells that do loosely blood-themed stuff.
  • Techno-Wizardry as a Career: Its Value and Its Cost (by Mark Sumimoto): Mainly just a discussion of Techno-Wizardry and Techno-Wizards in the setting. Adds the Texas Slinger O.C.C. (has specialized gizmos for gunfights), Techno-Wizard Aviator O.C.C. (specializes in ley line vehicles and magic aircraft), Techno-Wizard Gun Bunny O.C.C. (can make weapons and armor more quickly), Techno-Wizard Vamp Hunter O.C.C. (has a slightly adjusted spell list and a list of anti-vampire gadgets), and lastly, the Seduced Techno-Wizard O.C.C. (become an undead monster with techno-wizard bionics attached).
  • Understanding the Techno-Wizard (by Jason Richards): More discussion of Techno-Wizards' role in the world. Adds the Combat Techno-Wizard O.C.C. (slight bonuses to combat and more fighting spells) and the Techno-Wizard Thief O.C.C. (slight adjustments towards illusion and sneakiness). Really rad art by Burles in this article. Both this and the above article add a ton of new weapons, armor, and gadgets as well. It's a shame that the new stuff isn't official, techno-wizards could really use a bigger list of equipment to build. You'd think they'd have more by now, but...
  • The Hammer of the Forge and The Siege Against Tolkeen continue.

Siembieda apparently had to quash some internet rumors in this issue, such as Wizards of the Coast buying Palladium, Palladium buying White Wolf, or Siembieda going blind after laser eye surgery. Thanks, internet! Speaking of the internet, though...

Next: Hack the system!... wait, no, you're dead.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 15:57 on Sep 3, 2018

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Makes me nostalgic to see Trustum in the credits, harkening back to the ancient email list days when he would be like one of a handful of dudes who had some really neat ideas.

The thought of Palladium buying WW makes me to laugh.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Rifts is so baffling. How did it ever make enough money to release all those books? Were people so used to lovely business practices that they forgave all the promised and never released books? Was such shoddy rule writing the norm back then?

What is it that Rifts has (besides the kitchen sink) to make it so long lasting?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Siembedia being stubborn really is the big part of it.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Robindaybird posted:

Siembedia being stubborn really is the big part of it.

Unless he turns tricks behind the porno theater to keep the presses rolling, I dunno how that helps.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Rifts City Creation Rules (by Eric J. Lind aka the Tungsten Avenger): The standard organizational rules from Ninjas & Superspies, Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms, or Rifts Mercenaries, only this time for cities. We'll have a similar system in Rifts World Book 19: Australia, but I can't say they've ever enthused me. Maybe if you put them in the player's hands, they'd be a little interesting? They're still never fleshed out enough to be really useful, but are just complicated enough to bog things down a little.

We used the other variants a few times to create a PC-owned circus and a couple of private armies. I love the idea behind these sorts of construction kits, but a friend took things way too far by statting out every last mentionable NPC.

We retconned the circus's freakshow as a bunch of displaced Nightspawn, and rolled up random morphus forms for 'em.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Bieeanshee posted:

We used the other variants a few times to create a PC-owned circus and a couple of private armies. I love the idea behind these sorts of construction kits, but a friend took things way too far by statting out every last mentionable NPC.

We retconned the circus's freakshow as a bunch of displaced Nightspawn, and rolled up random morphus forms for 'em.

I've seen other games do stuff similar and more quantified to make things fair. Shadowrun 4e had a Lifestyle breakdown where you could make safehouses, hideouts, and hangouts for individual PCs or the group. The rules where just an extension of the SR4 point-buy, so it was very plug-and-play, and could be used or not. The players could buy benefits and flaws for the place, like how accessible it was to the city, how hidden, what's the security, the neighborhood, etc.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





JcDent posted:

Unless he turns tricks behind the porno theater to keep the presses rolling, I dunno how that helps.

I think you're underestimating just how much of a 'read but not play' market there is for this game.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



and I need to dig it up, but there's a few stories from ex-employees about how he basically kept the lights off in most of the building, and basically doing things the hard but cheap way, cutting corners wherever he can.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Robindaybird posted:

and I need to dig it up, but there's a few stories from ex-employees about how he basically kept the lights off in most of the building, and basically doing things the hard but cheap way, cutting corners wherever he can.

Oh, yeah. One account from the Palladium HQ had lights off pretty much everywhere save the private offices and everything was pretty silent. They said it felt like a mausoleum, if I remember right.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Dawgstar posted:

I think you're underestimating just how much of a 'read but not play' market there is for this game.

It doesn't hurt that Palladium splatbooks are cheap. They're almost an impulse buy, compared to other modern RPG books.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Bieeanshee posted:

It doesn't hurt that Palladium splatbooks are cheap. They're almost an impulse buy, compared to other modern RPG books.

yeah, they're all paperpack books on plain paper, that cuts way down on the production costs.

gourdcaptain
Nov 16, 2012



Robindaybird posted:

yeah, they're all paperpack books on plain paper, that cuts way down on the production costs.

I think I heard that Palladium basically bought their warehouse, offices, and printing gear outright back during their heyday instead of renting them or contracting out like most companies did (for very understandable reasons)... and as a result has pretty low ongoing expenses for the bare minimum of chugging along that they do.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Robindaybird posted:

and I need to dig it up, but there's a few stories from ex-employees about how he basically kept the lights off in most of the building, and basically doing things the hard but cheap way, cutting corners wherever he can.

You can find the thread here if you have archives. If you don't:

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Well, one thing I can talk about is the general office atmosphere. I worked from home mostly since the office is about thirty miles away from my house (I'm in NE Detroit), but once a week I'd go in for various things and it was always weird. The office is dead quiet, all the doors are closed, most of the lights are kept off (to save electricity)... it's like a tomb in there. Also, Kevin has no personal boundaries, wants everyone to be BFFs, and will tell you the most intimate details of his personal life at a moment's notice. The man has no filter. It's a pretty strange, inappropriate, and toxic environment.

There's more there at the link but that's the gist of it.

Bieeanshee posted:

It doesn't hurt that Palladium splatbooks are cheap. They're almost an impulse buy, compared to other modern RPG books.

Yeah, bear in mind that Palladium cut its teeth on selling TMNT and Robotech books that were $7 or $10 apiece which was a great price point for kids like me. Rifts was the high price point step up for them around $12 or $17. Both Vampire Kingdoms and Mystic Russia originally retailed for $17, which is a bit of a testament at their drive to keep to the same price point over nearly a decade. The Rifter originally would retail at $8 a (perfect-bound) issue, with them claiming they were trying to keep the price as close to at-cost as they could, with no ads other than their around six-page barrage of house ads.

A side effect of Palladium's attempt to keep as many books in print as they can and the advent of Amazon is that a lot of the early books are just as cheap now as they were back then, if not cheaper. All the books I've reviewed I bought used; the only one that was really hard to find at an affordable price was the Rifts Game Shield.

gourdcaptain posted:

I think I heard that Palladium basically bought their warehouse, offices, and printing gear outright back during their heyday instead of renting them or contracting out like most companies did (for very understandable reasons)... and as a result has pretty low ongoing expenses for the bare minimum of chugging along that they do.

That would explain a lot, if so.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2e: The New World - MORTAL COMBAT

Aztlan is home to far fewer formal dueling schools than Theah. That's not to say they don't have Duelists - it's just not formalized at all. Dueling is legal on the entire continent and has little to no oversight. Masters of various styles take on students pretty much at their own whim, and may travel vast distances to do so if they feel like it. Duelists really have just one job in Aztlan, and that is war. Once trained, a Duelist has no real trouble finding a job in a national military force. Typically they do so in their own homeland, but not always. There's always a need for Duelists to fight, either as unit leaders, military champions or as part of a squad of Duelists working together to crush lesser units. Each nation has at least one dueling tradition maintained by their military forces for war, and warlords and generals are often Duelists. The Aztlani also do fight in duels of honor, but without any kind of governing body over these duels, they are always unofficial and can happen anywhere for any reason. They tend to be extremely violent, and a surprising number are to the death. Even those that are not rarely end at first blood.

After the first Thean contact, Thean Duelists saw many differences, obviously, between themselves and their Aztlani counterparts. The Aztlani found the entire Duelist's Guild idea to be bizarre at best, as most of them were soldiers. The Theans found the chaotic, disordered mess and frequent bloodshed to be similar to the bad old days before the Guild was recognized. However, on those occasions when they'd try to convince the Aztlani of the use of a Guild, they tended to be laughed at. Still, the two groups have slowly begun to learn each other's styles. It's slow because they rarely mingle - there's grudges on both sides, and both groups are known to raid the other when they get a chance. Thus, taking on foreign Duelists as students, who may be traitors or double agents, is rare. However, it does happen occasionally.

The first documented Thean to be fully trained in an Aztlani style was Elicia Zambrano, a Castillian Aldana fencer who won the trust of an ocelotl and learned from them. Since then, both groups have been slightly more open to training each other. More recently, a Castillian soldier by the name of Manuel Maria del Rio has dubbed himself the Ambassador of Dueling between the two continents. He has no formal backing from the Guild, but they haven't stopped him, either, so he takes it as permission. He has spent most of his adult life trying to build up bonds between duelists of the two continents. He is a master of several Thean styles, and he willingly surrendered himself to a Tzak K'ani force, earning the trust of their warleader and training them in Thean fencing in exchange for learning their own styles. He has continued doing this throughout Tzak K'an and has now begun making inroads in the Alliance and Kuraq. He claims to be the foremost Thean expert on Aztlani dueling styles and culture, which may be true.

Icniuhtli is a Nahuacan style originally, created by and always most popular with the Ocelomeh, though it is used by other organizations now. Using this style, lightly armored warriors armed with spears weave in and out of combat, striking and fading to leave each other openings and take advantage of those left by the others of the unit. While an Ichniuhtli Duelist is dangerous alone, they are even more deadly as part of a team, coordinating their strikes to overwhelm their foes. The current greatest master of the style is without doubt Tlaloc of Milllahco. He and his brothers and sisters are a squad of elite Ocelomeh, some of the best in the Alliance. Some say their deadliness is because they are all family, while others say they have a mystical link to an ancient jaguar totem. It doesn't matter which is true, if either - what matters is they're called on for the deadliest missions, and their coordination is so perfect that they never need to speak to coordinate. Each knows where the others need to be and trusts them to be there. Tlaloc and his family haven ever been defeated when they work together. This is the style learned by Elicia Zambrano, who surrendered to Tlaloc in battle and earned his respect, learning the style directly from him. She has now returned to Castille, where she has slowly begun taking on students. Her schools of Icniuhtli are unique in that they never accept singular students - only groups, who must train together as a unit. The Style bonus is Jaguar's Guile. When you wield a spear in one or both hands, you may perform the Jaguar's Guile Maneuver. When you use it, you deal 1 Wound, and the next time the target takes Wounds this round, they take one additional Wound. Further, you may select one ally to immediately act, spending Raises as normal. If the selected ally uses their Action to deal Wounds to your target, the target takes (your Wits) additional Wounds. You may use this only once per round.

Quetzuo is a style originally formulated by the Quetzuo Warriors to hunt witches and sorcerers. They used techniques that kept their target fixated on them, and these useful techniques eventually spread to other Tzak K'ani forces for hunting and war. Quetzuo Duelists use a shield in one hand and a weapon in the other, usually a club, knife or spear. The shield, called a Challi, is round and made from wood and leather, always handmade by the Duelist during training. It is often decorated with feathers and precious stones, with the amount of ornamentation reflecting the Duelist's rank or status. While training, a Duelist wields their master's Challi until their own is completed. While they do, the master selects a Yencotetl, a stone that may just be a rock or may be a large turquoise. As the student completes each lesson, the master chips off part of the Yencotetl and uses it as part of a mosaic on the student's Challi. By the end of training, the Challi is a piece of art representing the student's journeys and trials in learning. Duelists become very attached to their Challi, and the greatest of honors is to be gifted your master's Challi, a sign of great trust and respect. The style bonus is the Challi Taunt. While using a shield in one hand and a weapon in the other, you may peform the Challi Taunt Maneuver. You use your shield to throw the target off balance, dealing 1 Wound. The next time the target would deal Wounds this round, they deal (your Weaponry) fewer Wounds, and if they try to deal Wounds to anyone but you on their next action, they must spend (your Resolve) Raises to do so.

Hatz'ik is a style originating from the peasants of Tzak K'an, relying heavily on a quarterstaff - a very easy weapon to get ahold of. Legend claims that it was originally taught by a traveler in the mountains, who would ask nothing in return from their students. The style has boomed in popularity recently, and is known to be practiced by the warlord Iktan Cha'zah to great effect in battle. In the hands of a Hatz'ik master, the staff does not stop moving until the fight ends, spinning and striking constantly. Many instructors teach that it doesn't matter how slow you move, as long as you never actually stop. For the master, however, the staff moves so quickly that it is nearly impossible to follow, creating a zone around the Duelist in which no one can enter without being struck. Once the enemy is worn down by repeated blows, the momentum of the spinning staff is unleashed for a terrifying crash. The style bonus is the Hatz'ik Spiral. When you wield a quarterstaff in both hands, you may perform the Hatz'ik Spiral Maneuver. When you use this, any character that causes Wounds to you while the Spiral is active takes 1 Wound. The next time you use the Slash Maneuver this round, you deal (Panache) extra Wounds and your Spiral ends. (Presumably it also ends at the end of the Round if you don't Slash.) You may use this only once per round.

Tzolran is a style focusing on distractions and opportunities. It was originally a game played between bored soldiers, using whatever you grab to distract your enemy. Fighters keep low to the ground, weaving back and forth to throw the enemy off balance. The game used sticks, but in combat, Tzolran Duelists typically use a knife. In the original game, the fighters would start back to back, quickly dropping and facing each other, staying low. They would throw dirt, leaves or anything else around at each other, darting back and forth to confuse each other and dodge attacks. Once one of them was struck, the round ended and they would start over. The first to land three strikes won. The name of the style comes from Xriisateh Tzolran, the first warrior to use the game in active combat. Since then, many have followed her lead, as it is quite effective. The style bonus is Dust Trick. When you are using a small weapon, such as a knife, stiletto, small club or so on, in one hand and nothing in the other, you can perform the Dust Trick Maneuver. When you do, you grab sand, debris or other such things and hurl it into your target's eyes. The next time they deal Wounds, they deal (Finesse) fewer Wounds and they create an Opportunity. If this Opportunity is activated, the next source of Wounds on the target deals 2 additional Wounds. You may use this maneuver only once per round.

Waglichina is a style created and used almost exclusively by the Tupaq warriors of Kuraq. The style is taught at P'alqacamba by Suway's priesthood, and is designed to hunt and kill gods. It is designed to keep enemies off balance and knocking them to the ground, to allow the other Tupaq to swarm the target and kill them. However, the style has now spread beyond the forces of Suway, much to their chagrin. Disillusioned Tupaq warriors brought it out of Kuraq to the other nations, and now both the Nahuacan Alliance and the Tzak K'ani have begun training warriors in the style. Within Kuraq, however, the Tokoyriq hunt down and capture any rogue Waglichina masters that seem to be teaching others. The style bonus is the Waglichina Rush. While using a heavy weapon (such as a club or axe) in one hand and nothing in the other, you can perform the Waglichina Rush Maneuver. When you do, you deal 1 Wound as you trip, push or otherwise knock a foe to the ground. You also apply Pressure to the target to remain prone. Until they overcome this Pressure, they take 1 additional Wound whenever they take Wounds.

Next time: Boats, Secret Societies, and the Dumbest Thing In The Book

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
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7th Sea 2e: The New World - A Question That Really Didn't Need To Be Answered

So, first off, new boat stuff.
New Origins
Kuraq: While this Ship has less Cargo than its maximum, it can have 10 additional Crew.
Nahuacan Alliance: When making a Risk related to trade, such as getting the best deal possible or holding back goods to get a secret from the buyer, you get 3 Bonus Dice.
New Backgrounds
Foreign Built: A foreign shipwright was involved in the construction. Select a second Origin; your Ship gains its benefits as well.
Sole Survivor: Your Ship was the only survivor of a port raid by a foreign power. Select the nation that attacked. When in Ship Battle against that nation, all PCs gain 2 Bonus Dice.
New Adventures
Across the Sea: Travel from Aztlan to Theah (or vice versa) and back again. When transporting goods from one continent to another, you may carry 1 additional Cargo.
Blessed by the Gods: Complete a request given to you by an Aztlani god. When rolling dice during a Sequence while aboard the Ship, you may spend 1 Hero Point to make 10s explode on that roll.
Outclassed: Defeat a ship that is larger, has more cannon or has more crew. The first time each round that your Ship takes Hits from another Ship, reduce the Hits by 1.

Anyway. On to Secret Societies and the dumbest reveal. Okay, so. The Guardians of Aztlan are a secret society that knows the truth of the age of Imperial Aztlan. They are the oldest organization in the entire continent, and have the only accurate records of the age before and the Fall. They are the only people who know that the Fall was not a literal destruction, but a movement of Aztlan. They know the true cause. While most scholars believe that the ancient Aztlani provoked the ire of the Old Gods, the Guardians know the truth: the Syrne enslaved the Old Gods and used what are now called the old machines to shift the entire continent of Aztlan into the alternate dimension called the Seventh Sea. The Syrneth were the god-kings of ancient Aztlan, kept safe from all outsiders by having shifted their realm to another world. Yep, we're doing this.

At some point, for no clear reason, the old machines failed. Some say it was intentional, that they were never meant to be permanent, while others in the Guardians argue that they were broken by whatever force destroyed the Syrneth. The Guardians should have prevented it, all agree, but by the time they realized it was happening, it was too late. Aztlan returned to Terra. Since then, and even moreso since the arrival of the Theans, the Guardians have sworn to defend the Aztlani from any and all outside threats. They wield their accumulated knowledge against any situation that threatens the continent, and now, they are needed more than ever...yet also divided more than ever.

The Guardians do not all agree on what to do, you see. One group, who call themselves the Protectors, believe that the so-called 'Thean menace' is too much even for the Guardians. They believe that, given the frequent attempts by gold-seekers and power-hungry attempted conquerors to control or abuse Aztlan, the best thing they can do is reactivate the old machines and move the continent back into the Seventh Sea. That is the only way to keep the Aztlani safe. The other faction, the Progressives, believe this would cause far more harm than good. The only way to truly protect the Aztlani, they argue, is to let them handle the Theans on their own. Further, they point to the active role of the current gods in protecting the people as proof that the Thean situation is under control. Neither group seems likely to budge from their position.

While the Theans are the biggest recent concern of the Guardians, they are far from the only one. The oldest and most respected Guardians remind their younger allies that the greatest enemy is not from across the sea, but from under the ground. From the time of the Aztlani Empire, the Guardians have existed to defend the land against their common foe: the Old Gods, bloodthirsty and immortal beings who once demanded vast ritual sacrifices to slake their terrible hungers and avoid their vicious wrath. The Syrne once handled this issue by enslaving the Old Gods and moving Aztlan to another dimension to weaken them. Obviously, the plan didn't work as intended, though fortunately the Old Gods were trapped in the Seventh Sea during the Fall. They can no longer directly influence Aztlan. They remain trapped even now, waiting for a time when enough blood sacrifice is performed for them, in their name, that they can re-enter Terra and reclaim the continent. After the Fall, many Guardians went missing, along with a number of important documents. Some fear that the Old Gods corrupted these defectors, and that their inheritors retained the texts and knowledge of the language of ancient Aztlan, allowing them to perhaps help release the bloodthirsty deities. The truth is far worse than even the Guardians know, however - those rogue Guardians' descendants are their greatest foes, the Council of the Old Gods.

The Guardians are made of those who have devoted themselves to service to the continent of Aztlan and all its people. Most are taken into the conspiracy as children, usually orphans or those purchased from poor families. They are raised as Guardians, taught important skills. Typically, an Initiate will remain with only one Master during their formative years. They are trained in a number of areas, including learning how to read and write in Old Aztlani, advanced combat techniques for ranged and close-quarters fighting, understanding and use of ancient Aztlani technology and more. Once a master feels their initiate is ready, they present them to the Grand Master's Council. The Initiate is tested, and made a Master if they are found worthy. If not, the Initiate is assigned to a Grand Master for more lessons. A new Master is an independent member of the Guardians, serving as they see fit. They often work closely with their old instructor, who is often the closest relationship they have in life. Grand Masters are chosen from the best Masters in the group. If they accept the offer, they are retired from active duty and made a Grand Master. The role of the Grand Masters is to monitor activity related to ancient Aztlani technology and particularly the old machines, as well as directing the Guardians' efforts against the Old Gods.

The Guardians primarily care about defending the Aztlani peoples, regardless of nation, religion or status, from external threats. Their greatest foe has always been the Old Gods, but the Theans have recently occupied their attention as well. The group prefers to avoid attention if at all possible. Providing the Grand Masters with information about an external threat is worth 3 Favor, and defeating an external threat to the Aztlani is worth 6 Favor. You may spend 7 Favor to request access to an Aztlani Empire text or artifact, which may contain dangerous information and technology greater than any Terran nation has access to; as such, you're expected to return it. Gaining the aid of a Master costs 4 Favor. Masters are Strength 8 and are never sorcerers.

Next time: The Secret Societies That Don't Piss Mors Off By Answering Setting Questions That Should Be Left Open

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Are Syrne and Syrneth the same thing? I am confused.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


JcDent posted:

Are Syrne and Syrneth the same thing? I am confused.

Syrne is to Syrneth as Swede is to Swedish.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2e: The New World - The Great Jaguar

The Jaguar appears in legends across Aztlan. Some speak of the prior age, claiming that a lineage of werejaguars founded the Aztlani Empire. The Nahuacans once prayed to the god Tahtli Ocelotl, 'the Great Werejaguar,' who was the Chief of Magicians, the Great Sorcerer and the Great Shapeshifter. The priests that dedicated themselves to this god were said to be the greatest of sorcerers and wise people. In modern Tzak K'ani, the jaguars are creatures of night, symbols of the sun on its nightly journey to dawn. They worship or at least know of a jaguar deity whose domains include war and the underworld, and the jaguar is known to be a powerful spiritual animal of great strength, skill and dominance. Even the Kuraq hold jaguars in esteem, and the Wild People to the south worship a star that they say is a jaguar, a god of jaguars, bears and pumas. The jaguar is vital to Aztlani cosmology. And the Jaguar's Heirs are the descendants of the most honored traditions of Aztlan.

The Heirs are a society of magicians and sorcerers who wish to gather all of the sorcerous knowledge of the lands of Aztlan and advance magical knowledge. They encourage experimentation with magic and will even support research into forbidden areas like necromancy. As long as a magician uses their power to help others, the Jaguar's Heirs look on them kindly and support them. Thus, the Heirs contain members from all Aztlani nations. They are open-minded and welcoming, discriminating against no magic-user, no matter what their origin or field of study. The only limit they place is that no sorcerer must ever use their powers for evil. If they do, they draw the wrath of the Heirs, who may even summon a were-jaguar hunting pack to destroy such magicians.

To join the Heirs, all you need to do is use magic to help the needy. They don't care where your magic comes from or what it is, as they believe magic, in general, is a gift of the gods. Thus, they are the only Aztlani secret society that has a sizable Thean presence. Express an interest in joining and they will find you. They have spies across Aztlan. Then, they will assign you a mission to prove your worth, show your magical skills and prove your resourcefulness and determination. Once you pass, you are an Heir. The greatest members of the society form the Inner Circle, who control the Face of the Jaguar. They are the judges and administrators of the Heirs, and anyone that wishes to join their ranks must put their life on the line to serve the society. Only those who spend years in faithful service can advance to these high ranks.

The jaguar is known to be both a creator and a destroyer. It brings fortune, but also disaster. The Heirs consider the study of magic to embody the nature of the jaguar, for they too wield the powers of creation and destruction. The Heirs follow what they call the Way of the Jaguar, which commands them as follows:
  • Using magic in malign ways is expressfly forbidden.
  • A sorcerer must report any malign magical activity she discovers.
  • An Heir must follow the bidding of the Inner Circle.
  • No sorcerer outside the Heirs can be taught the secret of the Face of the Jaguar.
Breaking these laws draws the ire of the Heirs, with serious consequences. The Heirs have been known to forbid use of magic or even to kill, if they think that a sorcerer's crimes are bad enough.

The Face of the Jaguar is the greatest gift of the Heirs - the ability to shapeshift and take on the form of a werejaguar. In this form, the Heirs are deadly, especially to sorcerers, for they retain all magical abilities in the form of the werejaguar but combine them with the beast's swiftness and power. As more joined the Heirs, the Inner Circle eventually decided that the power was too much, and must remain guarded by the Inner Circle. Other Heirs could request the use of the power, but would not be taught how to call it down personally. Thus were the hunting packs born. A hunting pack is a group of Heirs (and, more rarely, non-Heir allies) who are granted the Face of the Jaguar for a single night. This is generally given only for the purpose of hunting down an evil sorcerer. Once the task is complete, all werejaguars must return to the agreed on rendezvous point in order to return to human form. If dawn comes without the Inner Circle turning you human again, the sun will claim your soul and kill you instantly. Due to this, many Heirs prefer to just let the society know about Villains without actually taking up the werejaguar's form. Others will even face down the villain alone rather than risk their lives as jaguars.

The Jaguar's Heirs mostly care about recovering ancient magic and artifacts, expanding magical knowledge and hunting down evil sorcerers. Discovering an unknown text or artifact, or presenting innovative magical research of any discipline, is worth 4 Favor. Defeating an evil sorcerer is worth 8 Favor if you do it without werejaguar help. Calling on the aid of a werejaguar hunting pack costs 10 Favor. You and any PCs you choose can join the hunting pack. If you do, you become werejaguars for one night. Werejaguar NPCs are Strength 8, Nocturnal, Shapeshifting and Swift. PC Werejaguars may use any of these Monstrous Qualities, and retain all of their own abilities within reason. (Lacking hands may cause problems, for example.) The transformation lasts only one night. Accessing a magical text or artifact of the Heirs costs 3 Favor, and you're expected to return it.

The Pochteca date back to 1474, or the Nahuacan year Eight Rabbit. It was founded by 12 Nahuacan merchant families, who feared that the Alliance's rulers would fear their economic power, and so they made a pact with the Great Speaker. They would abandon all the visible trappings of wealth and success, and in return, they would do business without fear of noble interference. Over time, however, the Pochteca realized their wealth could become something more. They swore to use their wealth and power to help the less fortunate across Aztlan, reorganizing themselves into twelve guilds, each based out of one of the major urban centers of Nahuaca. At first, they mostly worked to ensure the poor received basic necessities. It became clear, though, this was not enough. They realized that the problem was not in the amount of wealth and resources but its distribution. Thus, they dedicated themselves to bettering the lives of the common people across the continent. Sometimes they do this by distributing clothing or food, sometimes by stopping those elites that abuse their power. They will bribe, coerce, even threaten these misguided leaders, to ensure the improvement of the daily lives of normal people. Some rulers, however, are too stubborn and powerful to be stopped so easily. In these cases, the Pochteca use their wealth and influence to incite people against them and to help any that oppose such villainy.

The Pochteca are organized into mercantile and craft guilds specialized in different areas. Each operates from a major Nahuacan city and is run by a group of three to five elders known as Mothers and Fathers, who speak for the guild. Each is responsible for some aspect of the Pochteca's general operations. The textiles guild, for example, ensure that all members have access to weapons and armor if needed, to protect the less able, while the merchants' guild handles sending out spies to seek out villainous leaders. All members do what they can to help the common folk, but the guilds and their elders give guidance and direction on how to do it.

Anyone can join the Pochteca, if they are able and willing to serve. The original group were all wealthy merchants, but now they will take on anyone who wants to make Aztlan better. The lower ranks include merchants that lead trade and exploratory missions, porters and warriors that protect caravans and fight for the people, or spies who unobtrusively gather information. Elders in each guild are recruited from within their own members. These Mothers and Fathers direct their guild and communicate with the other guilds, meeting once each year in Pepechotlan to discuss strategy and discoveries. Few who do not attend the meetings ever understand that they are driven by something far more vital than mere profit and greed. They want to make Aztlan a better place, and, ideally, one day redistribute the wealth such that all citizens prosper regardless of status.

The Pochteca care about gaining and redistributing wealth, reshaping society with the power of capitalism and funding rebels against tyrannical rulers. Helping protect a caravan, performing diplomacy in the name of the society or informing the Mothers and Fathers of a misguided ruler is worth 2 Favor. Deposing a Villainous ruler is worth 5 Favor as long as the replacement is an improvement. Gaining access to Pochteca storehouses for up to 2 Wealth in trade goods or a minor Aztlani relic costs 4 Favor and you're expected to pay it back or return it when possible. Requesting the Pochteca's aid costs 6 Favor to get just about any material good, political secret or access with rebel figures you might need.

Next time: The Other Illuminati

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Good news! On the third try, I actually got a copy of SenZar through to the scanner guys and I now have an immortal, OCR'd and dropboxed copy of it and can continue the review.

Sadly, I asked the mods, and even though the game is 100% out of print and such, it'd be too much of a gray area to publicly post a link to it or something like that, even though I really wanted to share it with everyone.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



:allears:

Wait, third try?

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Leraika posted:

:allears:

Wait, third try?

SO. I got one copy, the one I made the initial review bits from. But it started falling apart in the binding pretty fast, so I sent it to the scanner people to preserve it... it vanished in the mail.

Found a second copy on eBay, had it sent directly to them... it vanished in the mail.

Found a THIRD copy on eBay, had it sent directly to them from an address closer to where they were... and it actually arrived.

Now I'm just waiting for the other two to pop in at the scanner's in the next week or so. Like, it'd almost be disappointing if it didn't happen.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




The Rifter Rifts Round-Up Special '98, Part 2: "Each setting and genre will have its own terms for these radical elements, such as Cybermancers for practitioners of magic, Psychers or Psibers for psionics, and just about anything for super powered data dancers."


I ain't trying to translate that.

Hacking, Cyberjacking and Supernatural Data Theft Across the Megaverse®
By Wayne Breaux
Official Rules for Rifts®, Heroes™ and the Megaverse®


So, these are official rules in The Rifter #2 that expand hacking and use of headjacks in Palladium games, but we'll focus on only the Rifts portion. Given this was done by the author of Spirit West, I admit my hopes aren't high.

Ultimately, this is the purest 1990s view of hacking: "cyberjacking" deposits you in a Tron-like environment where you can float around and "catch a ride" on a "passing bundle of energy". Naturally, it looks a lot like a dungeon hallways and tunnels. Aside from security personnel and AIs that can rove around like city guards, high-tech computers have a "Reality Enforcement System" (RES) that creates a virtual environment that limits one's actions by the limitations of the virtual world. The RES can't be hacked without gaining "control of the CPU", so you can't easily shut it off.

Dying in virtual reality makes you save versus coma/death; if you succeed, the "cyber-death" reduces Intelligence by 1.

The Rifter #2 posted:

Sanitariums throughout the megaverse are filled with cyber-drones who thought they were better than they actually were, console cowboys too cocky to admit defeat, others who were addicted to the rush of the direct brain stimulation and cyberjacked until they're just a shell, and those few who gambled on that last big payoff that didn't.
Sure, sounds legit.


Breastortion can strike at any time.

Despite the fact we've previously been told long-distance communication is generally dead in Rifts, it says "hacking Triax from North America might be a bit difficult, if not impossible". How? Well, in any case, Rifts has all the cyber so we can apply all the rules here.

The Rules

So, in order to do things in cyberspace, you have to write programs that let you do so. Programs either simulate skills or equipment, and are half the % of the Computer Programming skill used to make them. You can take a penalty to improve that skill; -5% to the programming roll for every +10% added to the skill, to a maximum of 92%. Writing a program takes about 1d4 hours. So adventuring around in cyberspace is mainly intended to be like real adventuring, but you have to take hours and hours prepping any skills or stuff you need. You can also make programs for spells or psionic powers at one-fourth of your Computer Programming skill to start; you have to make a % roll whenever activating them to see if they work and pay all normal costs. There are also rules for making guns.

If you're just hacking the old fashioned way, you just roll your Computer Hacking... which, I'll remind, starts at an abysmal 15%, and only gains 5% per level. That means, before skill bonuses, you can't get higher than 85%. Penalties range from a minimum of -10% and go up to -75%. If this sounds like a problem, it probably is.

Fighting in cyberspace is like real life, but you use Intelligence instead of Prowess and get combat bonuses equal roughly to one-fourth of your skill, rounded down (so +0 to +4), and you get bonus attacks depending on your level. However, all attacks do damage straight to your hit points. Given your average hacker only starts at 10 HP (and gains 1d6 per additional level), the fact average weapons do 3d6 or 4d6 damage (or as much as 10d6) makes combat a case of rocket tag for the most part.

Cyberjacking and Supernatural Hacking

Headjacks now give combat bonuses in a cybernetic realm and add +10% to your computer skills (the latter is only relevant for like, ghosts or superbeings that can enter computers physically). Robots and AIs get the same bonus. Psionic powers can give a variety of potential bonuses, making psychics flatly better hackers (particularly if you have electrokinesis or telemechanics). Techno-wizards can make telepathic computers that don't require jacks, or use a new Machine Empathy spell to do the same thing. Energy Disruption gets pretty busted in that you can knock out a security operator or an AI on a failed save of theirs for the duration of the spell. Metamorphosis: Energy is a new spell that lets you enter a computer physically and use your own skills (But not equipment? It's unclear.) normally.


Should've been O.G., not G.O.

Equipment

You can buy "cyberjack armor" that potentially reduces damage and works like armor in cyber-space... complete with the "Armor Rating" rule where I guess people can shoot where your armor isn't? But if it's on your connection, and not on your body, then... no, it doesn't make sense. There's VR equipment that avoids the risks of cyber-death at the price of lower combat and computer bonuses. You can also buy dedicated computers for hacking that can give tremendous bonuses.


"What? I am a stylish, sexy hacker, like Jolie!"

Occupational Character Classes

There are a variety of classes for most of Palladium's games, but I'll focus solely on the two Rifts ones.
  • D-Bee Computer Empath (100%): For some reason, this is only available to D-Bees, but not specific D-Bees, weirdly, other than having potential for psionic powers. I'm not sure why it's basically blocked off from humans, but maybe that's to "balance" it with the following class? This is a psionic class that focuses on psionic powers useful for hacking, except... it doesn't have Computer Hacking. Nor can it select Computer Hacking as a skill. Really? How'd they miss out on that?
  • Coalition Digital Reaper (65%): A more military-oriented psionic hacking class that... once again, doesn't start with Computer Hacking (why would a security expert be missing this?), but can and will at least select it as an additional skill with a bonus. You can remove the psionics for extra skills, but given you have more than enough computer skills, it seems redundant. Pretty solid if you're using these hacking rules and are up for playing a bone-azi.


"Wait, you wanted me to hack computers? I brought my vibro-blades and- well, this is embarassing."

Conclusions

On the face, the rules aren't that bad. At least they tie into the existing combat rules, and though they have all the issues those do, it isn't necessarily any worse. And I'm willing to give them a pass on the super-silly, very '90s Tron view of hacking. It probably shouldn't be Sneakers; this is Rifts, after all. But there are several issues.

One, the main issue is the "netrunner dilemma". If only one person in the group hacks, the GM basically has to invent whole "sub-adventures" or encounters that only the hacker interfaces with while everybody else pulls out their phones. Now, to their credit, they give multiple means of accessing computer systems, so it's possible to have a group that can all venture there together if they have the right magic or psionics, but unless you're gearing a group with these rules in mind, somebody's likely to be left out.

Two, it's deadly. Most hackers using can take two or maybe three solid hits. While you can get "armor" for your datajack, there's still going to be hits that bypass it entirely. Of course, that also raises the unanswered question of what happens if a mega-damage creature with no hit point value enters a computer (like through the metamorphosis: energy spell). Do they maintain their mega-damage and become unstoppable? Are they converted to normal damage values? Do they roll a new hit point value just for the internet? It's not clear.

Three, skill values in Rifts are anemic, doubly so for the Hacking skill. You can't really be an effective hacker until around levels 6 to 9. Low-level hackers end up with skill values of about 7-20% on any program they design, so you're going to fumble around incompetently until you have a year's worth of play. And while that's a symptom more of the skill system than these rules, they exacerbate it.

It could be a lot, lot worse. Its at least functional. But it's still very much a Palladium system.

Next: A perfect lineup of writers to reject.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk








Adventure 1: Exit 23 - Interrogation and Ambush






Jane and Donna decide to search the hallway in front of the rest rooms.

Dark*Matter posted:

The corridor just outside the restroom is dark and cold. At the end of the hallway, a door leading outside swings in the vicious, gusting wind, banging loudly against the wall. Fingers of swirling snow already dust the floor near the open door.

To your right, the building's arcade is a dark cavern, with the regular chatter of video game demo loops silenced by the loss of power. Suddenly, soft whimpers arise from somewhere inside, like someone is hiding in there.

Jane rolls a Good success on an Awareness - Perception check and catches the sound of stifled sobs coming from the arcade. Again she draws her service pistol and motions for Donna to follow her, creeping slowly towards the sound. She announces her police credentials over the droning howl of the blizzard, and both women are surprised when something leaps up from behind the Asteroids machine and sprints towards them!

Dark*Matter posted:

All at once, someone dressed in a McDonald's uniform and apron stands up from behind the Asteroids machine. It's Danny Wood, the kid that was working the fryer, and he's obviously scared out of his wits.

"Please tell me it's gone!" His voice quavers. "I don't know what it was, but I was sure it was gonna kill me!"

His head swivels side-to-side, barely restrained panic clear in his eyes. His gaze falls on the open exit door, and he bolts for it while screaming "I gotta get out of here!"

Jane immediately moves to intercept Danny and throws a hand on his shoulder to try and slow him down. While Jane tries to wrangle him, Donna thinks quickly and shouts "You know, whatever you saw is STILL OUT THERE!" and this causes Danny to freeze like a statue. Jane keeps herself between Danny and the exit door and slowly moves backwards to shut it, never taking her eyes off Danny. Just as she manages to force the door shut, Danny turns to see the dead body still propping open the door to the men's bathroom and he begins shaking uncontrollably. Donna tries to say something to calm him down, but lacking any Interaction specialty skills, she attempts an untrained Interaction roll and flubs it. Danny keeps trembling but refuses to respond verbally, and after a short discussion, Jane and Donna realize they'll have to frog-march him back to the donut restaurant with the others for his own safety.

Back in the donut shop, Nadine and Doug have placed the injured businessman on top of a table near a wall, using his balled up jacket as a pillow. Nadine does her best to ensure the businessman's condition doesn't worsen, but she's aware that his wounds require medical attention beyond what she can scavenge from the truck stop. While the other patrons hover around the businessman with a mixture of morbid curiosity and fear, Doug takes the briefcase he recovered over to a table near the far corner of the restaurant and begins to fiddle with the locks. Since he doesn't have the Lockpick specialty skill nor the Manipulation broad skill, he has to attempt an untrained Dexterity check, and fails; Doug doesn't make any progress cracking the briefcase locks.

Jane and Donna return to the restaurant with Danny in tow, which causes a minor commotion. Anne Banks, the cashier, rushes over to him, concern visible on her face. He doesn't react to her presence, even when she wraps her arms around him and begins sobbing into his shoulder. Donna is able to pry Anne away and Jane asks Nadine if she can try and help snap him out of his fugue state. Nadine has experience with trying to get through to recalcitrant patients, and makes an Interaction - Charm roll to try and get him to speak to her. She rolls several successes, and after calming Danny down, learns the following information (with Jane hastily scribbling down his responses in her duty notebook for future reference):

Dark*Matter posted:

What did you see?
"I was over in the arcade playing Asteroids when the power went out. I started to leave the arcade, and suddenly the hallway door burst open. A wall of snow and ice blew in, and it looked like there was something in the middle of the snow, some kind of big animal like a wolf or bear or something."

What did the thing looks like, exactly?
"I don't know! It wasn't like anything I've ever seen before. It was part ice, part snow, and part animal. Its claws looked frozen solid, and it had two glowing red eyes. The blizzard air seemed to swirl around it and change its shape even as I was looking at it, and the sound from the shifting wind was like some voice speaking a language I've never heard before."


The perspective is wild here. Is the old man bending over a counter with a phone and the demon's sneaking up behind him, or is the old man upright and standing in front of a counter that's horizontal to the wall and the demon's now 12 feet tall?

What did it do?
"It went right past me and into the men's bathroom. I looked around the corner into the hallway, and I saw that dead guy come staggering out with those giant icicles sticking in him. I heard someone else yell, and then that frozen thing came back out again. It paused briefly over the dead body, like it was inspecting it or something."

Where did it go?
"The animal turned towards the open door, but then it caught my eyes and looked right through me, like it was tryin' ta tell me it coulda killed me if it had wanted to. Then, it exploded into a swirling cloud of snow and ice and flew back outside again. It's still out there somewhere!"

Nadine and Jane continue to try and coax more information out of Danny, but that's everything useful he can provide based on Nadine's successes.

While Nadine and Jane are speaking with Danny, Donna notices Doug fiddling with the businessman's briefcase and offers to help him unlock it. Donna does have Manipulation - Lockpick and manages to pop the case open on her first try. Inside, she and Doug discover a small snow globe (about 10cm in diameter) and a stack of handwritten notes and reports from the businessman, indicating how he found the snow globe and detailing his allegiance to the Hoffman Institute. On this point, the books suggests taking aside any players that read through the notes and reciting for them all of the information contained in the Adventure Background (minus anything about Jacob Dumont, since Jonas still doesn't know that he's being hunted). The snow globe itself seems to contain a miniature replica of the White River Station, but since Dark*Matter doesn't include any kind of sanity mechanics, this is just an odd flavor detail with no immediate gameplay consequences. Donna asks if she can keep the snow globe and Doug agrees, as long as he can keep the briefcase and the associated documents.

SUDDENLY:

Dark*Matter posted:

The wind howls outside, and the snow continues to fall. The building is dark and cold, an icy chill creeping into every corner of the structure. Mabel and the other attendants of the White River Station have scrounged several gas lanterns from various storage rooms and lit them, but they're providing little heat and the minimal light provided still leaves the donut shop dim and shadowy.

Abruptly, bright light fills the lobby. One by one, the headlights of every car that's parked outside the station are being turned on. Over the raging blizzard you can also hear a cacophony of car horns and car alarms going off simultaneously, accompanied by the sound of windows and windshields being shattered.

At this point, the demon realizes that it still hasn't accomplished its mission, so it's trying to lure the people outside where it will have the advantage in combat. The heroes don't have to do anything of course; they can let the demon trash their cars, and right now it's still focused on trying to get them outside, rather than fighting them inside. However, several heroes have gear/weapons/valuables in their vehicles, or just might not want to have to role-play the conclusion without a working vehicle, so it's likely they'll take the bait. It's assumed that every hero that goes out to investigate keeps their car from being destroyed, while every hero that holes up inside the truck stop gets their car thrashed.


ACTION POSE!

Jane's on point to protect everyone in the diner, so she's predisposed to figure out what kind of animal is causing all this ruckus. Doug likewise wants to try and get a picture of it as he senses that whatever this thing is, it's at least a one-of-a-kind supernatural encounter and he knows plenty of people that would pay handsomely for proof. Nadine understands that she'll be most effective trying to keep everyone in the diner safe, and Donna doesn't see any reason to risk her life fighting a deranged predator animal if she can help it.

For Jane and Doug:

Dark*Matter posted:

The wind screams and rages all around you as you stumble out into the snow. It's much deeper than it looks, almost up to your knees, and you can't see anything with the snow whipping past your eyes. The instant that you both have exited the White River Station, all of the car alarms go silent.

Anyone that went outside is now involved in a combat encounter. Both Doug and Jane immediately have to make perception checks or eat a surprise round attack from the winter demon. Luckily, they both pass their surprise checks:

Dark*Matter posted:

Despite the poor visibility and the biting cold, you sense an even greater cold approaching you. And then you see two points of fiery red, like sinister eyes burning into your soul.

Of course, avoiding the surprise round attack is just the beginning. The demon is still in its home terrain and takes the initiative, immediately trying to slash Doug with its icicle talons. Doug's not so lucky this time, and the demon stabs him directly through his right arm, dealing 3 Wounds and 1 Stun. Doug's hurting pretty good, and immediately decides that it's not worth his life to try and grab the rest of his photography equipment. He spends his action running back into the station (and since there's no system of opportunity attacks, he can do so at no risk). Jane attempts to draw a bead on the demon and fires a round from her service pistol, but it quickly vanishes back into the swirling blizzard after slashing at Doug and her shot misses the mark.

The demon acts first again and attempts to throw three deadly icicles at Jane. The icicles strike true and, due to their supernatural sharpness, penetrate even the kevlar vest she's wearing, dealing 5 Wounds and 2 Stun. This actually puts Jane over half her total Wound threshold, which prompts an endurance check to see if she remains conscious. She doesn't have Resolve - Physical Resolve and has to make an untrained Constitution check and fails, which causes her to drop unconscious. Doug watches this go down from the inside of the station, and spends his action to dash outside, pick up Jane's 9mm and then drag her body back into the station.

Dark*Matter posted:

The white wolf-thing howls in anger as you both escape back into the station, and suddenly its corporeal form explodes apart into a thousand icy shards; a whirlwind of snow and howling wind dances and spins where the creature was standing. Dozens of shrieking voices seem to gibber and moan in the wind, accompanied by maniacal laughter. You can't see the creature any more, but you know it's out there, watching you.

And, before anyone else can react to Doug's panicked screams for assistance:

Dark*Matter posted:

You're screaming for help at the top of your lungs when you become aware of an unexpected orange glow illuminating the dark lobby; at the same time, the unmistakable smell of smoke! From further in the lobby, the magazine stand in the corner nearest the convenience store is blazing away, and the flames are spreading fast!


NEXT TIME: Smoke and Fire.

Obligatum VII
May 5, 2014

Haunting you until no 8 arrives.

Would it be possible for a heinously lucky PC or set of PCs to actually wound the demon in that encounter? If so, does the scenario account for the possibility?

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Nice to know that team fuckup is living up to expectations.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Obligatum VII posted:

Would it be possible for a heinously lucky PC or set of PCs to actually wound the demon in that encounter? If so, does the scenario account for the possibility?

yeah, the demon has a pretty significant weakness that the heroes didn't uncover yet (although only 1 of the 6 starter heroes could even theoretically discover it by this point). if you knew what you were doing, you could definitely stand a fair chance of defeating it in the first encounter (although knowing its weakness still doesn't stop it from stabbing you really hard). basically all heroes present would need to know the weakness and each acquire something that works against it, since the demon can't act more than once in a round and 6 heroes using their action in conjunction with the weakness could possibly take it down.

without knowing the weakness though, all 6 heroes just using regular attacks wouldn't make a difference. Alternity has a weapon & armor system not entirely different from the SDC/MDC system in Rifts, and this monster basically has mega damage armor; the only source of mega damage the heroes could bring to bear utilize its specific weakness, so no amount of handguns or grenades or conventional weapons would significantly improve their chances.

as far as "what if the heroes DO win this combat?" the adventure can account for that no problem. the monster is actually more of an environmental hazard, in as much as this first combat is supposed to teach the players "do not leave the truck stop building for any reason". killing the monster isn't even the victory condition for the adventure (although eliminating it does make subsequent sections much less deadly).

Leraika posted:

Nice to know that team fuckup is living up to expectations.

the Alternity system is really punishing when your character doesn't have the specific skill it's calling for. if you have just the broad skill you're not too hosed, but if you don't even have the broad skill then you have to attempt an untrained attribute roll with a +1 penalty modifier for good measure. basically you either hyper-specialize and hope the rest of your team compliments each others gaps, or you buy a bunch of broad skills out the gate and fill in the specialty skills as you find use for them.

Freaking Crumbum fucked around with this message at 02:42 on Sep 5, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2e: The New World - Evil Gods

In modern day, each nation has their own gods, who helped them rebuild after the Fall. In ancient times, before the Fall, however, all worshipped the same deities. These, called the Old Gods, are now forbidden, have been forbidden for a very long time. This, of course, does little to stop the Council of the Old Gods. Their goal is quite simple: restore the ancient ways of the Old Gods and return Aztlan to the light of its old glories. Of course, this implies the destruction of the current Aztlan to remake what once was. The Council's fine with that, because they're fairly certain they'll be spared by the returning Old Gods. They know that in the Fall, the Old Gods did not die - they were imprisoned. The Syrneth turned the Old Gods to crystal as fuel for their old machines, cursing them to be forever bound, and during the Fall, those prisons held - it was a close thing, but they did.

To free the Old Gods, the Council must gather the 13 Blood Crystals and return them to the Heart of the World. This is the only way to open the portal that will allow the Old Gods to escape their prisons, return to Terra, and conquer Aztlan. As is, of course, right and just. And which will, of course, cause the deaths of 90% of the current Aztlani peoples. Once this is all done, the Council expects to rule the ashes of the world, governing over an Aztlan with only one faith and one culture. There will be no more Nahuacan Alliance, no Tzak K'ani city-states, no Kuraq Empire. All such differences will fade before the might of the Old Gods.

The technology behind the Blood Crystals was discovered in ancient texts by the precursors of the modern Council. These texts of the prior age are the greatest treasure the Council has, and they revealed that in order to make a Blood Crystal, you need massive amounts of bloodshed - specifically, mass sacrifices of human beings by other human beings, dedicated to the Old Gods. Because of this, the primary job the Council has set its agent towards is to ensure there is conflict between large groups on the continent. Their best case scenario is open warfare, and so they work to push both rebels and rulers to greater heights of violence under any circumstances. They don't care who wins such conflicts because all they want is to benefit from the chaos and murder. Every violent death gets them one step closer to a Blood Crystal, and thus to the Old Gods.

The Council of the Old Gods is run by three leaders, known as the First Prophets - one from each nation of Aztlan. They have met in secret for the past thousand years in the Heart of the World, which is a location in which logic holds no sway, being halfway between this world and the Seventh Sea. Under them are a handful of Council members, lesser but still highly influential, and under them, large numbers of field agents. Council field agents rarely know all of what's going on, and are usually recruited from the desperate and hopeless. However, sometimes even apparently happy and successful people join the Council, because they see it as a way to remove the divisions and chaos of the world. They want an ordered, homogenous society without conflict or differences. What they fail to understand or willfully blind themselves to is that this can only happen once the world is destroyed.

PCs cannot join the Council. It is made purely of Villains. To become a member of the Council, you must face the Old Gods, covered in the blood of an innocent you have personally slain in cold blood. If you are not accepted, you are killed by the rest of the Council in sacrifice to the Old Gods. If you are accepted, the Old Gods whisper their twisted commands directly into your mind, shaping it to a form more to their liking. IE, an evil one that will sacrifice in their name.

The greatest strength the Council has is that almost no one that doesn't belong to it knows that it exists at all. They have infiltrated all nations of Aztlan and even have a handful of members among the Thean arrivals. They take all walks of life - noble or commoner, it doesn't matter, as long as you can provoke more death in the name of the Old Gods and bring more blood. Most Council agents are so disturbed by the violent initiation ritual, in which they must slay an innocent to prove their faith, that they never doubt their allegiance after that. The few who do are killed off unceremoniously when discovered, their deaths serving as one final contribution to the cause.

So, that happened! We then get a chapter on how to randomly generate Tzak K'ani city-states. Largely it involves rolling or selecting options from charts to determine the city's patron god, atmosphere, geography, ruler type and iconography. You then fit those together and massage them into a coherent whole. So, for example, we might roll 3, 5, 5, 6, 4. This would get us:

Iconography: 3 - Eagle. Eagles may be seen as semi-divine messengers of the gods, or may be used by local hunters on a more practical level. The city's symbol may be an eagle, talon, feather or win.
Geography: 5 - Hills. The area is a hilly region, or perhaps a bluff, mesa or ridge.
Patron God: 5 - Buluk Cha'wil. Buluk Cha'wil is the war and lightning god, revered by warriors and gneerals. He is shown as a grizzled, aging male warrior with glowing armor and a smoking, fiery axe. He values action, militarism, structure, power and sacrifice.
Atmosphere: 6 - Open. The people are warm, hospitable and generous with outsiders. They may be particularly pious and have a tale of a religious figure being taken in by someone generous, who was rewarded. They might just be really giving, nice people with a culture of friendliness. The are may be very harsh, and generosity is a survival trait - if you have water, share it, and if you need water, it will be shared, so to speak.
Ruler: 4 - Progressivist. The ruler believes stagnation is death, and that adaptation, growth and change to fit circumstances are what bring prosperity and wisdom.

so, bringing those together, we have a city that idolizes predatory birds as symbols of war and strength, holy to Buluk Cha'wil, the lord of storms and battle. They are located atop a rough mesa, and their generosity is an act of superiority. They rule over the local region as mighty warriors, and therefore they can make a show of strength by offering goods and hospitality to any visitor. Their ruler has been aggressively modernizing their military to maintain the local power base, and they have more guns than any other city in the area as a result. She is currently attempting to work out how to make guns.

Next time: Hazards

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Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



All of the Old Gods stuff feels like a massive tonal shift, and not in a good way.

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