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Barudak
May 7, 2007



minidracula posted:

Dr. Kroktagon.

If Dr. Kroktagon isnt an MMA themed super scientist crocodile this entire pun is wasted


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 17: Wrong Airthswer

With the settings major corporations out of the way it’s time to talk about the one players are most likely going to have run-ins with, The Law. The largest of the corporations*, The Law is the direct enforcement arm of the government, The Unity, and as such gets a lot of special rules. Almost half of these rules exist to prevent players from using any of the cool stuff The Law gets to do, so this section is lot of look-but-don’t-touch feature teasing. If you also guessed that Obsidian made The Law ridiculously evil, setting breaking, and overtuned combat monsters congratulations on your pattern recognition.

The first bundle of things The Law gets is a staggering pile of stats, cybernetics, and equipment. The stat block for a, quote, “Standard Officer (without armor)” is so over-equipped that it comes with armor. Not only do standard officers have magical armor that isn’t armor, they boast a stat-line better than players will be able to have with almost 20-30 sessions of maximum experience gain and custom gear and cybernetics that are actually good unlike the trash available to players. Of course, since combat in this game is entirely a matter of going first with a big gun, a player character solely built for combat will still wipe the floor with them, but a character built even mildly sub optimally will stand absolutely no chance against the cops.

The game then provides a rundown of all the specifics of this equipment, including the absolutely absurd cybernetic equipment that The Law gets. All of it is illegal for a player to posses, most won’t function even if they steal it, and most cause catastrophic humanity loss. To get around this for The Law, they get a special item players can’t have that removes all penalties for equipping cybernetic equipment. This sort of undermines a huge part of the setting and also isn’t clear why only The Law are allowed to have it since cybernetics aren’t illegal and by losing humanity from equipping them you slowly become a psychopathic murderer or catatonic murderer. Oh, if you do manage to kill an officer of the Law they explode in a 5d8 blast and all their equipment and cybernetics are destroyed.

We then get the rest of their equipment including the stultifyingly named “Holocaust Coat”, which is standard equipment for police investigators, and finally, 218 pages into this book, learn what the actual laws are that The Law enforce. These can basically be summed up as moving violations, destruction of property, theft, assault, murder, and 50 variations of not respecting the The Law.

There are unsurprisingly a lot of glaring issues with this list of laws. The punishment for theft, for instance, is ½ the value of the item but doesn’t say The Law takes it from you like it does for some other crimes so the implication is if you get caught stealing you just gotta give The Law their cut. Fraud isn’t a crime in any of its forms, and it is only illegal to forge or impersonate officers of The Law and their documents. It’s not a crime to brandish weapons, publish known lies, and its not clear if intellectual property or government secrets are even a thing so treason may not exist in this world but, hey, doing and selling drugs definitely aren’t crimes.


Does Vampire the Masquerade know you’re here?

Before we move on, we need to chat about implications in a game. You see, buried in the stat block for standard officers is a note that all of them are Mystics and have ritual points to distribute as the Narrator sees fit. In another section, it offhandedly remarks that The Law regularly and constantly uses the ritual school “Impulsus”. Impulsus lets you at a low level detect surface level thoughts and at high level, control other people as unwilling slaves.

It gets worse when you remember that a standard Law officer has high enough skills to not only read minds and control will at a distance, they have enough points left over to double-dip into the spell line that lets them permanently remove memories without a trace or cripple skills. In fact Obsidian notes that the reason the Darchomen, the secret power behind the public power behind The Law, are able to be a secret society is because they use The Law to obliterate the minds of any citizen who discovers the truth about them.

Oh also there are ritual spells that makes any item the caster touches reveal everything about where they are, what’s around them, etc. so you can plant bugs on anyone whose mind you erase to forget they’re carrying the item. Alternately, The Law also has access to the spell line where they can deal 2d8 damage, no save no resist, per object of yours they have in their possession with no time-limit or distance. With just two officers, The Law can mind control you into doing their bidding, plant a bug on you to find out where you go, then direct you gather all of your friends’ loose pocket change and bring it it back to them so they can remotely murder everyone you’ve ever known before erasing all the memories of this. If they bring in a third officer they can change your personality so thoroughly you’ll be happy to have done all this.

Remember, The Law and, more importantly, the people supplying them with these spells are supposed to be the good guys.


the wise man bowed his head solemnly and spoke: "theres actually zero difference between good & bad things. you imbecile. you f****** moron"

With The Law wrapped up, it’s time to talk about religion. Religions are very clunky mechanically, and in function are an optional fifth motivation for your character to earn experience by acting upon. Obsidian seems to think every player will jump right on these but all of them are game derailing and provide little benefit. Each religion except one caps out at providing 15-30 points of experience, require insane investments in both specific skills and narrative time, and many have additional requirements like “give up literally everything your character owns” or “never talk to a non-religion member again”. They also, of course, have completely conflicting goals and two of them end with player characters being rendered unplayable. Let’s dive in.

Religions

Gladius Oblivii
This religion teaches that the goal is to become one with oblivion, to the point where the final tier is called “Oblivion’s Concubine”. Somehow, this isn’t one of the religions that ends with you dying permanently, because while they stab you to death at one point they also resurrect you. To join you need to give up everything you own and the religion is extremely illegal.

Due to some extremely shoddy wording this religion can provide unlimited xp as when you hit maximum rank your reward is to get demoted to the bottom rank. As you already meet all the skill checks to advance ranks again all you need to do to hit max rank again is get murdered and resurrected, eat some human flesh provided for you, and recount how many people you killed. It’ll take a long time to hit max rank the first time, however, as it requires hundreds of xp and hundreds of spirits captured and spells cast.

The Heralds
This is the boring religion that’s about leading the faithful as a shepherd to their flock. Unsurprisingly you have to give up everything you own to join this group, and in addition to boosting a bunch of rather useless skills you need to gather a group of followers and train them to replace you as you go up the ranks.

You also must do a multi-year stint as a ghost who does nothing but carry messages from bishops to cardinals which is surely fantastic for party cohesion.

Testaments of Airthswer
This religion is the only “fun” one in that it is several very dumb but amusing things that also provides an actual tangible reward for characters who hit max rank by granting them everlasting life. This religion believes that all spirits will reincarnate into new bodies eventually, so the only crime is to destroy a spirit permanently, anything else is simply a minor speed-bump. This results in the Testaments of Airthswer seeing nothing wrong with shooting each other in the face over petty office politics or initiates getting questions about their holy texts wrong.

Outside of a bunch of immortals shooting each other in the face over not refilling the coffee pot, the other reason this is probably the best religion is because they’re the only one that explicitly comes into conflict with other groups in the setting. Since Kultists obliterate spirits to fuel their magic, the Testaments of Airthswer absolutely hate Kultists. Obsidian mentions that the Testaments of Airthswer will hold recruiting drives to lure in cultists, murder them all, and then hope they’ll be better people next go round.

The Order of Flesh Deviancy
Slap all the cybernetics into your body you possibly can, brethren! Ignore that this has mechanical penalties in-game which can kill you, because this religion offers no protection from that. For no reason at the second tier in the religion, and only at the second tier, you have to roll if you get free level ups to random knowledge skills and lose levels in random mind skills. Even more bizarre, the way you exit the second tier and enter the third means it is perfectly possible to never have to do any of the random rolling at all, and as such later when you learn the terrible secret of the cult not have actually done it and presumably BSOD the game because progressing after that point requires you to have fallen for it.

Remember how if a characters humanity drops too low your character is no longer playable? That’s the goal of this religion.

The Aliae Latent
This is the book-keeping religion, dedicated to gathering information to try to predict the future. It is also dedicated to not talking for an entire year at one rank, obeying all orders from direct superiors, and ignoring everything in your life that isn’t writing down your selected field of knowledge into a book. Members of this religion get no benefit or ability to predict the future.

This is probably the worst religion in terms of goals, as Obsidian explicitly notes their true goals, objectives, and progress are unknown and due to shoddy writing, there is no way to get to the highest rank in this religion to find out. They’re so inscrutable they don’t even care about Kultists or Mystics and don’t have any enemies they oppose on principle.

Temple of Profanis Concordance
If The Heralds were boring regular religion The Temple of Profanis Concordance is boring satanism. Build a flock, lure new members, oppose the mystics, recruit more members to serve you, and you get the drill.

Like the Aliae Latent, it is impossible to obtain the highest rank in this religion.

Congregation of Solifidian
The religion of preparing yourself to fight for The Messengers of God, the double secret cabal that runs humanity. The good news is this is the only religion to provide any concrete mechanical benefit. The bad news is the benefit is a flat bonus to your melee attack bonus so you’ll never, ever use it.

Actually, you’ll also probably never have a chance to use it either as after you’ve invested the several hundred xp to hit the maximum rank in the cult you disappear never to be seen again.

Next Time: Removing Your Appendix

*Except at the beginning of the book, where its total number of employees was given and was smaller than other corporations.

Barudak fucked around with this message at 06:14 on Oct 16, 2018

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JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cults: Judges, pt. 2



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


The Codex

Basically, every Supreme Judge that enters said office brings his own Codex – a book of laws and interpretations of the Testament, supposedly to account for the changing times or the inventiveness of criminals.

The Codex posted:

Chairman Archot is the oldest of them all. He has been Supreme Judge for more than 20 years; his Codex has become a bloated monster that no one can control anymore.

I like to imagine that the book has become animate and lawyers have to wrestle it to the ground every time they need to consult it.

“Thou shall not kill” and “Thou shall not steal” are some of the core ideas that the law grows around, accruing exceptions, provisions, interpretations and precedents like a ship does polyps. The Advocates are the ones working to come up with new laws and interpretations that need to be written down, keeping the SIC (scribe-industrial complex) going. This does not sit well with some of the Judges.

The Codex posted:

Only a few older ones remember the times when the handy booklet wrapped in black leather gave them direction, but did not force them to rush down the slope like a train on brakeless tracks. There is no room for interpretation anymore. Everything that could be interpreted has been interpreted and set in stone. The law has become a burden.

“Man, I love law. *Sees Codex* Wait, no, that's too much law!”

Two Camps

There exist two camps of Judges. The Protectors are the ones out in the field bashing heads with hammers, and they're “peers to the people.” The Advocates are the ones actually writing down the law and getting in Protectors' way (of casually murdering people and justifying it with their interpretation of the law).

Two Camps posted:

The Advocates recruit the Judges from those who are too weak for the physical drill and the Protectors’ claim. In fact, the Advocates value education and intelligence higher than the ability to strike people down with a hammer. They want to define the evil in people, find it and tie it down with laws. They see themselves as educators, not as warriors.



I love this illustration for some reason.

Protectors: Hammer
Howdy, pardner, this there's a side-section! This one says that the Protectors are basically dumb muscle; the tribunal that selects them is mostly interested in physical strength first, and only requires a cursory understanding of law. Upon graduation, the recruits get to smash some iron sheets upon the executioner's block, thus stamping their oath.

The Senates

Consequently, there are two Senates, one for each of the groups. The Protectors are generally for expanding the Protectorate, while the Advocates control the city and get up to law-nerd stuff. Sometimes, their roads cross – especially when extraterritorial matters come forward – and then the two Senates can't help but interact (argue).

I guess having a single Senate would have been too restrictive.

Judges' Lingo

The Testament is peppered with Greek and Latin phrases. The first Judges couldn't understand them, but by the game’s “now” they have enough experts to have deciphered everything. The Senates are divided on the matter. The Protectors think that Codex should be written in plain language, so that the people would understand everything. The Advocates, on the other hand...

Judges' Lingo posted:

The Advocates, on the other hand, see their position threatened. If the people understand and internalize the laws, what would they need the Judges for?

Yes, if people understood the law and acted lawfully, there would be no need for Judges. That is a truly realistic fear to have and not some Jack Chick tract about the Catholic Church BS.

Anyways, there are a few examples of what Latin sayings are commonly used. It also says that some Judges like to use the foreign languages because it makes them look cool and confuses people, while others don't use Greek or Latin at all.

Basically, you, the player, can do whatever.

I say you should use every Greek or Latin word you know, especially if the other players don’t.

Jurymen

Since the Protectorate expands faster than the amount of Murder Lawyers, something must be done, as allowing crime to go unpunished would lead to rebellion. Thus, local leaders and big merchants, maybe war veterans, are quickly trained to be jurymen to act in the absence of a Judge. If a criminal accepts the verdict given by a juryman, it stands. Protectors are consulted in severe cases.

An Eye For An Eye

I wonder if this will go ba-

An Eye For An Eye posted:

The Judges bring law to the wasteland, and just like a strict father teaches the rules of life to his unruly kids by beating them, the Judges punish all who act against the Codex’s teachings.

Oh, so you're trying to sell the faction by making positive comparisons to child abuse. Got it, book

Anyway, the Judges have developed many means and ways of punishment. Many of those account for the fact that nobody has the resources and/or willingness to imprison people. You also have to take into account the fact that people at large don't carry any documentation. Apparently, you can start a new life just by moving into a new district of Justitian – somehow, I don't believe that it's the multi million pop metropolis that would guarantee that kind of anonymity, but that's just me.

That's why punishments have to be visible. A thief's hands and forearms are painted with a stinking blue solution that will only fade in weeks or months. Same thing happens to the lips of thieves and frauds. If the paint fades without you committing a new crime, all is forgiven. However, if you do, you get some more... permanent mark. A thief will have a knuckle on each hand smashed. Liars will get their tongue split. Adulterers get their dick split.

Those don’t apply to killers or rapists. They get branded and cast out. If they return, the Judges will allow the family of the victim choose the punishment: smashing a limb or ripping it out with the help of a Judge's horse. . How the last one is different from a death sentence, I dunno, but death sentences are also possible.

An Eye For An Eye posted:

Many culprits, especially those lesser crimes, get to choose. Either pay an indemnification to their victims or spend a few days in Justitian’s boot camps. Additionally, their faces are marked with red color, the henna. In the following days, they work for the city’s benefit, repair streets, build houses, shovel dirt from the Defiler Streets, fight the dust with their spades, and work on the great Colossus, chairman Archot’s legacy.

I dunno how and why these guys are treated differently from thieves that are just marked blue and let go.



"Argh, why am I getting owned by a Spitalian in my own chapter?!"

Anyways, if you run away from the public works program, something bad is done to you – being merciful is weakness. However, once the paint goes away, you are free to go. Some stay – two meals a day is a hard offer to say no to.

These kinds of paint-related punishments shape the culture in Justitian in obvious ways. Everyone who wants to shake hands on a deal removes gloves and people show their faces to demonstrate their honesty. Strangers can trip up on these details like that.

Advocates: Codex

This is the subsection about the Judge Nerds. Advocates have much laxer physical requirements. They prefer muskets instead of hammers since they don't need to get on the same level as (or close to) the wasteland savages. Their physical tests are less arduous, too.
But they need to know Codex by heart. And once they're really good at it, the Advocates LARP a trial. If the council judges your RPG skills worthy, they'll shake your hand and you'll be considered one of them.

You nerd.

Next time: Judging continues

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Sufficiently Advanced Part 8: First star to the right, and straight on 'til morning.

We're finally in the home stretch, not much book left. First up is the equipment section!

Chapter 4: Inspector Gadgets

(Don't give me too much credit, the writers used that as the title of a sidebar in this chapter.)

This chapter explains some of the underlying functionality of Sufficiently Advanced's technology. In particular, that it often actually does look like casting magic, since many items use mental, verbal, or somatic commands to activate. There's also a section on what technologies don't exist in this universe (Star Trek-style transporters, true FTL travel*, force fields, psychic powers, and anything that violates thermodynamics all stand out).

*Remember, intergalactic travel in Sufficiently Advanced is handled via wormholes that can bridge arbitrarily long distances.

The meat of this chapter, however, is a listing of items one might acquire during play. This includes not only tangible equipment and vehicles, but also various social engineering techniques, analytical methods, and even the concept of community planning. Many items are free, listed as "Public Domain", which implies that the costs associated with purchasing items comes not necessarily from materials cost, but also from the cost to license the design. That's certainly an interesting way to handle things, and once you see that this list includes bombs that unleash an out-of-control strange matter reaction, you start to realize the true purpose of the Patent Office (regulating people's ability to access phenomenally dangerous technology). What's also nice is that this section shows how a character with 9 Import (meaning a maximum of 3 in all Capabilities) might still be functional and usable in-game, using equipment to make up for their various shortcomings (not to mention that they can pop Twists like candy).

The technology listing does include something very odd. The weapon listings frequently say that they deal damage as though the user had a Stringtech of a certain level. This makes no sense, as damage is never actually tracked by the game, and you use Nanotech to attack in the first place. I have to assume they mean outside of conflicts, where one's Stringtech does result in a rough estimate of how much damage you can dole out to your surroundings. In fact, if that's the case, a character with Stringtech 10 doesn't need to buy weapons unless there's a specific secondary effect they want, because their normal attacks include whatever destructive forces they feel like using. It's still strange that you don't use Stringtech to attack and Nanotech to defend. Perhaps they got it backwards.

The chapter ends with rules and advice for inventing new technology that doesn't yet exist. Most notable about this section is that it makes the argument that urban build-up actually leads to a cleaner environment, with the logic of "when huge cities inevitably get pollution problems, people demand cleaner technology and infrastructure, which in turn ends up benefiting everyone". I suppose it would be fairly sound reasoning if people could be expected to mostly act rationally and in their own best interests, which I suppose in Sufficiently Advanced's utopian future, they do. But it honestly smacks of the writers having never encountered real people before.

Chapter 5: Insufficiently Advised

This chapter is titled "Advice", but offers precious little. There are adventure seeds, and there's some basic advice for playing, but at no point are the more alien mindsets given any sort of coverage. We're left to figure that poo poo out on our own. There's also some suggestions for alternate settings, but overall the advice doesn't do much to make certain character types any easier to portray.

The latter half of the chapter is given over to a bunch of design notes, most of which exist to address questions posed by playtesters. The first one these notes discusses gold as a motif for the game (the book itself has gold-colored border art). The gist is, because gold is now commonplace and effortless to acquire, it's lost all of its value beyond functionality. And because completely pure gold is actually really lovely for pretty much everything because it's so soft, it's preferred that gold have certain levels of impurity. THIS is why the bad guys are "everyone thinks the same", "pure logic unsullied by emotions", and "everyone is clones", and why the most advanced civilization in the game (the Stardwellers) have only a mostly Socialist economy. The point being made is that the impurity makes for a stronger alloy. This is why the Stardwellers are also by far the most diverse civilization, as well.

Why is the game designed to encourage players to take lower Capabilities to get more Themes? It's because the narrative conventions of sci-fi dictate that the main character is almost always the one who is the most similar to modern-day humans.

Why is capitalism the default? Because the writers felt it would be more familiar to players and because they lacked the imagination to properly conceptualize a world completely lacking in the exchange of goods and services (yes, they straight-up admit that).

Why the Patent Office? Because the Transcendentals didn't want to overtly create Space Cops, but by controlling an organization that vouchsafes the economic well-being of all of humanity that just happens to always be on-hand to help when things go bad, they can still help guide humanity to the good future without needing to be too heavy-handed about it.

The rest of the chapter covers less interesting materials, and ends with a long diatribe about the design of the game. Based on many of the sidebars, and the various long-winded discussions regarding their motivations, it feels like the writers are a little too attached to their original authorial intent. They don't seem especially jazzed about the idea of someone modifying their precious setting.

And the rest

The book ends with an appendix of acknowledgements and inspirations for the game. One poster theorized that this game takes inspiration from The Culture. In fact, it does not, but rather The Golden Age by John C. Wright appears to be the primary inspiration for those same ideas. Hopefully that makes them feel a bit better, knowing that any disrespect was purely coincidental.

So, that's Sufficiently Advanced. It's not perfect, but it's sure as hell interesting (hopefully I successfully presented it as such). The mechanics are sound, the setting is varied without feeling disjointed, and the ideas presented spark the imagination. I just wish that we got more examples of some of those big ideas in action, I still have no idea how one would portray a Heterolinguist.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



As already established, their “pure” logic isn’t and can’t be. This truth-in-the-middle poo poo and their being utterly unable to conceive if life without capitalism is hugely white techbro, though, so that’s not surprising.

E: do they ever explain what ip as currency looks like? How do I determine the value of a lolcat compared to a patent on a left handed socket wrench?

Anniversary
Sep 12, 2011

I AM A SHIT-FESTIVAL


Mors Rattus posted:

E: do they ever explain what ip as currency looks like? How do I determine the value of a lolcat compared to a patent on a left handed socket wrench?

I can only imagine it being slightly more efficient than barter?

WhitemageofDOOM posted:

FFRRPG 4e Part11: Time Mage
Just wanted to say I'm really digging these write ups!

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Mors Rattus posted:

E: do they ever explain what ip as currency looks like? How do I determine the value of a lolcat compared to a patent on a left handed socket wrench?

A distant AI superintellect gives it a value in whatever arbitrarily named currency they use, and people have no input. So, basically everybody actually works for the patent office whether they like it or not.

Anniversary
Sep 12, 2011

I AM A SHIT-FESTIVAL


wiegieman posted:

A distant AI superintellect gives it a value in whatever arbitrarily named currency they use, and people have no input. So, basically everybody actually works for the patent office whether they like it or not.

I would like to use my three time units of lightbulb IP rights to buy two time units of candle IP rights and one half time unit of match IP rights.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Mors Rattus posted:

This truth-in-the-middle poo poo and their being utterly unable to conceive if life without capitalism is hugely white techbro,
Think about the strangeness of today’s situation. Thirty, forty years ago, we were still debating about what the future will be: communist, fascist, capitalist, whatever. Today, nobody even debates these issues. We all silently accept global capitalism is here to stay. On the other hand, we are obsessed with cosmic catastrophes: the whole life on earth disintegrating, because of some virus, because of an asteroid hitting the earth, and so on. So the paradox is, that it’s much easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than a much more modest radical change in capitalism.

Smiling Knight
May 31, 2011



quote:

Basically, every Supreme Judge that enters said office brings his own Codex – a book of laws and interpretations of the Testament, supposedly to account for the changing times or the inventiveness of criminals.

Murderous Judge Holdens in a post-apocalyptic wasteland invaded by aliens literally have a more liberal jurisprudence than most of the Supreme Court of the United States.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Anniversary posted:

I would like to use my three time units of lightbulb IP rights to buy two time units of candle IP rights and one half time unit of match IP rights.

Yeah, it's this. Nobody trades in milli-inventions, they assign a monetary value to the novelty and scarcity of the hours that went in to the work of inventing and trade those. All money is just a way to price goods and services, and SuffAdv is a purely service economy.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.



Ghulams are the standard Haqq infantry. They’re here to give you a general idea of the faction’s aesthetics, for me to point out they have regular rifles, rather than the combirifles most factions get to represent their lack of magical heavy industry, and so that I can mention one of their specialist options. The only units with a regular doctor profile in the entire Haqq list are mercenaries. Everyone else is either a Doctor Plus (+3 to your WIP roll to revive a target, so this joe blow grunt is picking people back up on a 17 or less on a d20), or an Akbar Doctor (instead of getting back up with 1 HP, you’re back up with full health). There’s one non-mercenary Paramedic profile, but it’s the faction’s tank pilot. Haqq: Good Doctors.



One of the only distinguishing features of the Shahate, Daylami occupy sort of a weird space. They’re one of the total AVA choices for Hassassins, but they’re pretty basic irregular infantry. They’re special by virtue of being not very special at all, but they are very, very cheap. Like a lot of the asymmetrical warfare factions, Daylami have a Limited Infiltration option for about double their normal (small) cost. That lets them have a long-shot dice roll of starting halfway up the board. Daylami are more like living mines than regular troopers. Because they’re Persians, they have nice scarves and stripey shirts.





T-B: Hafza, Hassassin Ayyar, and Bashi Bazouk

Speaking of asymmetrical warfare, these jerks all have Holoprojector. Infinity has open and private information categories, as I’ve mentioned - I have to have a LT, and you know I have to have a LT, but I don’t have to tell you who it is until I take some action that uncovers her. Most of the time, private information functions by omission. If I put out a spread of camouflage markers, you don’t know what’s under them until you discover them or I reveal them.

Holoprojector lets you actively lie to your opponent. Level 2 lets you play find the lady with your soldiers. Ayyars and Bashis both use level 2. If I jump a Bashi in, I can place three models for each actual real trooper, and either use them to get into a position where I can surprise shoot at you, or just let you try and pick out the real one via discovery or just shooting them and seeing which one bleeds. You can also charge one into a trapped zone to use them as minesweepers.

Holoprojector level 1 is even better to my line of thinking, because it lets you disguise yourself as another unit of the same Silhouette value. This is the Hafza’s gimmick - they’re body doubles. That guy over there may be a relatively harmless rifleman, or he could secretly be a Hafza with a rocket launcher about to ruin your TAG’s picnic. That team of heavy infantry may actually just be a bunch of light infantry wearing disguises. Better yet, that team of heavy infantry you think are just light infantry wearing disguises are actually heavy infantry, ready to kick you in the teeth.

I really love all the ways Infinity has to play the shell game with your units. Given the prevalence of misdirection and counterintelligence in historic strategies, the comparative lack of bluffing games in tabletop play has always boggled me.

As mentioned, Hafzas are higher-grade infantry that act as bodyguards for crucial targets. Ayyarun are elite heavy infantry, dispatched by the Hassassins to target external threats to the Search for Knowledge. Bashi Bazouks are irregular jump infantry, so they’re built for harassing targets at little cost to yourself. They’re also literal space pirates, jumping off of perfectly good ships to board others either as licensed privateers or as outright thieves. Bashis are not well-liked due anywhere in the Human Sphere.




Khawarij are the premier bioengineered supersoldiers of the new Islam. Their stats are higher across the board, and they cost as much as three rifle Ghulams. In exchange, they get immunity to poisons, they are in fact poisonous themselves, they can jump tall buildings in a single bound, and their light machine gunner does +1 damage and crits on a roll of one or their exact target number. I bring them up mostly because of Tarik Masouri, the big guy in the second image. He’s basically Captain Haqqislamerica, one of the first successful test subjects for the supersoldier program. Unlike Steve Rogers, Tarik loves fighting, and makes a point of being the first, the bravest, and the boldest among the Haqq forces. He’s Silhouette five, making him the same size as special superheavy infantry, just a little smaller than baby TAGs. Tarik is a beastly unit on average, and in Haqq where there just aren’t that many gunfighters, he’s a king.



That slight crunching noise you heard was the sound of every Infinity player grimacing upon looking at this photo. These are ghazi muttawi’ah, more commonly ghazis or mutts.

Mutts have an average stat set apart from a fairly remarkable WIP 15. They’re irregular, so they’re not providing orders to your pool, and extremely impetuous, so it’s easy to let them charge up at the enemy without spending those same orders. They’ve got smoke, so they can block line of sight and smoke dodge. They’ve got template weapons, so they can ignore cover when they’re in range, although they’re not burning stuff like the Naffatun flamethrower infantry. They’re Dogged, so even if you knock out their single wound, they’re not dead until you tag them again or they reach the end of their turn. And they’re only five points, which would make them a must-have ordinarily.

The bone of contention lies with those guys holding the personal satellite dishes, which are Jammers. To use a Jammer on someone, you need to be within eight inches of your target, but you don’t need to have Line of Sight. If you hit them on a WIP check, which mutts will do 75% of the time, they must face a Damage 13 BTS roll or be Isolated. Isolated suuuuucks. Immediately, you can’t spend orders from the pool on that model. If a model is isolated at the start of their turn, they don’t contribute an order to the regular pool and are considered irregular. If the target is in a fireteam, they’re booted out; if they’re the fireteam leader, the team breaks. If, god help you, the Isolated model is your LT, your army enters the Loss of Lieutenant state, just like if your LT had been killed, and everybody in your army becomes Irregular. The only way to escape from the Isolated state is to have an Engineer come over and make a successful repair check on you.

More than anything, it’s that Mutts can just do this to you, from out of LoS, while being cheaper than basically anything else in the game. They’re not impossible to overcome, just like Kuang Shi, and a Haqq player can only take four of them at most. They’re still a huge pain in the rear end to deal with, and everyone playing would take them if they could.



Djanbazans are medium infantry equipped with MSV 2 and, by Haqq standards, a rather burly Armor value of 3. They’re a different flavor of genetic modification than the Khawarij, so they’re not as high stat-wise, but they can potentially regenerate a wound if they get shot down. Djanbazans are responsible for spaceport security on Bourak, as well as acting as a heavy battle line for the Sultanate’s forces. I’ve included them in this writeup because of the machinegunner, who has explicitly and canonically removed his sleeves so that he looks more like an action star.



The Sekban are solid pieces. They’re good shots even in general terms, they get access to some good weapons for cheap, and they’re ARM/BTS 3. They’re in the writeup because they come the closest to capturing what I think Haqqislam is actually pitched as.

Originally, the Sekban were volunteer garrison troops, a militia to protect trading vessels and space stations. A group of Silk merchants decided to try and corner the market on the production of the metamaterial and set themselves up as kings, leading to what was a defacto civil war among Haqqislamite citizens. When the consortium magnates brought in mercenaries like the Bashi Bazouks, the Sekban rallied to the defense of their ships and stations, staying loyal to the last man and woman. Following the end of the revolt, the few survivors of the militias were reconstituted as a special operations unit for space warfare. While the Sekban still exclusively recruit from civilian candidates, they now face a much more grueling initiation and training process, so that there can never be another revolt on their watch.




Every faction has remotes, remotely-piloted or fully-autonomous utility machines and combat robots. They’re usually some form of crawler, like the specimens above. You can usually find a sensor bot, designed to reveal hidden deployment models and camo tokens, or minesweepers, or baggage bots, which let you refill expendable weapons and give bonus points when you calculate how you control a sector, ‘cause logistics wins wars, yo. There are also combat remotes, usually armed with an infantry rifle or something a little sharper, depending on the faction. Remotes can also carry EVO hacking devices, which provide both active and passive bonuses to your army.

The big one is the total reaction bot, which is most often armed with a heavy machine gun. TR bots can fire full burst in both the active and reactive turn, so they’re a real roadblock for new players. Your best strategy for dealing with a TR bot is to either blast it with a weapon outside its good ranges, like a sniper rifle, or subvert it, either through hacking or smoke deployment.

In general, I think Haqq has some perfectly adequate remotes, with some really nice sculpts. The radar dish is a particular favorite. I will, however, miss their old sculpts.



Good, clean, goofy fun.

For reasons I can’t adequately explain, Haqq heavy infantry have bad-boy backstories.



Azrails are the bodyguard of the former Sultan; every time a new Sultan is elected, the former bodyguards are deposed and sent to the Azrail corps, since they’re too good at fighting to dismiss, but have seen too much not to be closely monitored and probably sent to their deaths. Azrails are great models with a statline that sucks compared even to Nomad heavy infantry, let alone experts like PanO and YJ.



Al-fasid are former mercenaries with good performance records inducted into the regular army. The Al-fasids are great soldiers, and that tends to make them terrible people. Another great model with a lackluster statline, but they can throw out mines, which is a nice bonus.



You cannot be surprised at the existence of Janissaries in the Infinity fluff. Much like the real life Janissaries, the corps is primarily composed of orphans and children given over to the state voluntarily, for the educational and social prospects that await them once they finish their service. Janissaries are specifically prohibited from possessing a Cube during their time on the inside, to the point they’re equipped with blocking cyberware to keep such a thing from happening. Once their term is up, they’re free citizens and are given a Cube willingly.

If I were to take Haqq HI, I’d take Janissaries. They’ve got the best statline at the most economical price, with great specialists like the Akbar Doctor.



Fidays are king poo poo of Old Man mountain. Most Hassassins have that kind of fighter pilot aesthetic going on, to the point where I have difficulty telling them apart at a glance. It’s a good look, though. Unlike a lot of skirmishers, which are camo infiltrating specialists built to push buttons, Fidays have one purpose - get up next to a valuable enemy target and murder them in melee. And they’re good at it, all for the princely sum of about 30 points. If you’re facing a Haqq list, you should probably expect a Fiday.

The Fidays have Impersonation, which is like if camoflage and infiltration were rolled together and sweetened up. Impersonate lets you deploy anywhere on the board that’s not your opponent’s deployment zone, with no roll. You deploy as an Impersonation-1 marker, typically referred to as Bob from Accounting. An Impersonate marker is known, but can’t be targeted, just like a camo marker. The primary difference is that as long as the Fiday doesn’t blow its cover, it has to be discovered twice, while camo only needs to be flipped once. This is to represent your troops coming to realize that it’s kinda weird that Bob is wandering around an active firefight asking about deployment numbers, but he hasn’t openly sprouted knives (or tentacles) as of yet. Fidays have Impersonate level 1, so they can only mimic other humans. Combined Army Impersonators get level 2, so they can turn into humans or Tohaa or whatever the hell else.



The Hunzakuts are that more traditional camo infiltrating specialist. While they’re irregular, that’s less of a big deal for guys you want to run upfield in the first place. They’ve got mines, some nice weapon loadouts, and two of them get deployable repeaters, so they can create zones for your hackers to work in without requiring their physical presence in that location.

I also love this model. I don’t love the fact that the studio painter did up what clearly wrinkles like a shirt as skin, but apart from that it’s one of my favorites in the range. She’s got a cool action pose, the standard-issue Hunzakut bomber jacket, she’s not got her midriff or her boobs hanging out, and she has regular boots! No combat heels! I don’t play Haqq and I still bought one.



The Kum are a Kyrgyz tribe, sticking to Haqq and QK in particular as tenaciously clingy motorcyclists. They blast up the field, much faster than expected, depositing wads of smoke along the way. Burly men and voluptuous ladies can be Kum in equal amounts. What really matters to the Kum is the fat ride between your legs. Sometimes chains are involved. Semen.




One Maggie that won’t ruin your social services, the Maghariba Guard are Haqq’s answer to TAGs. Most notable for being large, as the only unit that reaches Silhouette 8, Maggies come with a special SIL template and 70mm base in the box. The spider-tanks are pretty hard to kill, especially the one with a 360-degree firing arc. If I recall correctly, in older editions of Infinity they used to be personnel carriers, but alas, that’s no longer the case. The old version is equally large, but not as nicely designed. Now seems like a good time to mention that Infinity models are all pewter, so expect to pin this thing if you ever have to put it together.



Haqqislam is home to only one Recreation, although another was made; we’ll get to her later. Al-Nāsir Salāh ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, the Kurd with the Word (of the Prophet), more commonly known as Saladin. “Salah ad-Din” is actually a title, not a name - he’s Joe, son of Ayyub, if you want to be technical. ALEPH’s tendrils are not incorporated into the Haqq datasphere anywhere near to the extent they are in the major powers. So, let's send them the world's most obvious Trojan Horse. Saladin, and his predecessor, were designed to be ambassadors and intermediaries between Haqqislam and the AI. Saladin was built to have the charisma of Joan, with all the tactical know-how of Sun Tze, which should really go to show you how little anyone cares about Sunny.

The Hassassins already didn’t like ALEPH, and putting a really obvious infiltrator like Saladin into their midst has not earned the Recreation any good will. Saladin is aware he’s constantly watched by a team of professional murderers and zealots, and greets their attentions “with an elegant smile and a cunning sparkle in his eyes.” Saladin’s speciality is getting people, whether they be individuals or military units, to work together in complimentary fashions. His soldiers and his peers love him just as fiercely as the assassins hate him.

In game terms, he’s a medium infantry version of Sun Tze, but about twenty points cheaper. He’s only got one profile, and he’s not tremendously killy. Saladin is best employed by sticking him in your back line and letting his passives help you out. With the release of new lieutenant rules recently, chances are Saladin’s going to get an update at some point in the undefined future. Not a terrible choice, not the best choice.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I know it's partly the paint scheme, but I do love the female Infinity models when they're not playing up to the stereotype for female Infinity models. I also wish they had representation in more units, although that runs the risk of, you know, something like a Hassassin showing off how good her core workout is with a crop-top or something.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


He forgot the worst drat model in the game:



The odalisques are your Islamic geisha assassins. I dunno what they actually have, but this one - I think its exclusive to QC starter - is the worst piece of poo poo model in the range. The separate pack of odalisques is better.

Also, odalisques have ikhol, the PUA pheromon perfume.

Speaking of packs: the pictures you're seeing have heavy weapons since CB rarely does packs with combi/rifles. For your cheerleaders, you usually get three rifle dudes in the faction starter; you buy packs to get WYSIWYG heavy weapons.

Previously, Combis were are good, hand-wavy stand in for all sorts of small arms, but recently, boarding shotgun models started getting obvious shotguns (pump action and not AA12), so thats kinda outta the window.

WhitemageofDOOM
Sep 13, 2010

... It's magic. I ain't gotta explain shit.

FFRRPG 4e Part 12 : The Warrior

The warrior a pretty eclectic mix, seeing as they are basically the only pure warrior class in the game besides archer. 3 mages, 4 if you count druid, 2 pure fighters, the games don't reflect that kind of party makeup. So in a way I'm arguing this as an advantage of 3e, there's more warriors.

Level 1- Master of Arcs: You know what this doessssss.
Specialiazations
!Arc: This adds ranged to your attack and....adds normal equipment abilities. But nothing previously SAID you didn't add equipment abilities, and the fighter items are still built assuming i care rather than they are stat sticks.
!Pommel Strike: This does half damage and breaks charges. Hey remember unwavering? THIS IS THAT!
!Dirty Fighting: This for not adding the 5 to damage does....no reactions this TICK? WHAT?! Ok yeah grab Arc or Pommel strike.

Level 1- Power Strike: Pick Jump, Mighty Strike, or Lunge
!Jump: Gives flying(need ranged to be attacked) until your next action and then does double damage. A pretty major nerf from invulnerability in that a good chunk of poo poo can hit you but compared to the alternatives....
!Mighty Strike: The difficulty of your attack goes up by 3(7+Stat), but does x2 damage.
!Lunge: This does double damage, but the difficulty to hit you goes down by 3....for 10 ticks....and you can't use this again during that time. Considering the tracking nightmare and shittiness don't take this.
Specializations
Dragon Horn: When you use power strike you can do it again by dropping a die. For mighty strike this is simple. For lunge it adds 10 more ticks you can't lunge and have a defense penalty. For Jump....Either this let's you spam 200% attacks, or you fly back into the air, and the wording leads to spam 200%.
!Quadra Slam: A Slow(4) action that hits 4 times for half damage ignoring armor. This should be halved after armor like kick probably. But why would you take this over Jump-Dragon horn? Also why are this and dragon horn early game abilities.
Adroit: You can use earth or air to attack with warrior special abilities, but not for damage and not for !Attack. Pass.

Level 15- Feign Weakness: You get the slow(1) action !Life break, which does your (Max hp - Current hp) damage ignoring armor. Guess what the specializations are?
Specializations
X Break: Look i'm not explaining them, the loving time mage is now a better knight than the warrior will ever be.

Level 24- Cleave: Pick !Slash-All, or !Blade Beam
!Slash-All: Hit 3 enemies for 75% damage....but it's called slash all.
!Blade Beam: Hit 1 enemy for 100% damage, and 2 others for half the damage dealt to the primary ignoring armor.
Specializations
Powerful Cleave: Makes your cleave do 100% damage regardless.
Wide Cleave: Makes your cleave a proper you know GROUP ATTACK.
Master of Destruction: Your break can target 3 enemies, SHAME YOU ONLY HAVE ONE.

Level 42- Dragon's Breath: A slow action(3) that Deals (Target's Max - Current Hp).
Specializations
Lethal Blow: When using dragon's breath apply armor BEFORE the 999 damage cap. Interesting that armor is applied after the damage cap, and kind of cool, gives real teeth to armor even in late game.
Double Cut: Gives the slow(2) action double cut, hit twice for 100% damage applying weapon effects. Again no where does it say i shouldn't.
Martial Versatility: You get an extra break. Yey.

Level 60: You get I: Weaken (Strengh, Magic, Armor, Mental, Speed). Jesus just say I:Weaken, sure you'd have I:Meltdown but it's basically the same.
Specializations
!Finishing Touch: A Slow(5) action. Make two attack rolls, if at least one hits inflict death and 200% damage and death, if both hit inflict stop.....where is the stop part?
!Shock: A Slow(4) action that does 200% damage to all enemies. Almost certainly the best option.
Iajutsu: Gives the Slow(4) action !cleave which inflicts death on all enemies.


Criticisms: Well here's my biggest criticism, AHEM. KNIGHT ISN'T EVEN AN OPTION, AT ALL. The class is 100% focused on just hitting stuff harder. I'd say about making a break warrior build but no. The class needs to be split between the Knight(Tactics fighter) and the Warrior(I hit poo poo), dragoon can stay as I hit poo poo, that's fine. But the game needs another fighter in flavor and the class needs room to breath to make the knight work.
My second criticism is despite being solely focused on hitting poo poo, basically you never get better or more options to hit poo poo after jump+dragon horn other than slash all/blade beam and then shock. At three dice you at your second action hit 2 times for 200% damage, with haste 3 times.

I'm pretty sure the warrior is capital b Busted at damage, but they are declared to be under the rule of the great sword monk. So let me bring this old thing back out.

Playable Level- Never.

WhitemageofDOOM fucked around with this message at 16:15 on Oct 16, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I kind of like that ALEPH feels a little bumbling instead of just being a totally omnipotent gangster computer God.

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!


Looking through the F&F archives, it looks like we've had reviews of a bunch of AD&D 2nd ed stuff. Dark Sun, Birthright, some supplements, Planescape... but not the actual core ruleset(PHB, DMG, MM). Would there be any interest in it?

I realize the answer is probably

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Night10194 posted:

I kind of like that ALEPH feels a little bumbling instead of just being a totally omnipotent gangster computer God.

No, the omnipotent computer gangster hangs out with the Nomads.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007





PurpleXVI posted:

I realize the answer is probably

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Still, there's something kind of charming about 'the Singularity happened and no-one really noticed and we just kind of created another special interest group that has a thing for greek mythology and nerdy custom organisms based on famous people.'

'Also murderous cyborg kill squads but we all have those.'

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I think my favourite Infinity sculpts are anything cyberninja, as long as it doesn't also have cyber-waraji, cyber-straw hats, and/or cyber anime waifus.

PurpleXVI posted:

Looking through the F&F archives, it looks like we've had reviews of a bunch of AD&D 2nd ed stuff. Dark Sun, Birthright, some supplements, Planescape... but not the actual core ruleset(PHB, DMG, MM). Would there be any interest in it?

I realize the answer is probably
Sure, especially if you can compare it to other rulesets. Seems like some old-schoolers have very strong feelings about 2e that are based more on the overall trends in campaign settings during that period rather than the actual ruleset.

LeSquide
Nov 1, 2012

Eat.
At.
Ed'sTM.



JcDent posted:

He forgot the worst drat model in the game:



The odalisques are your Islamic geisha assassins. I dunno what they actually have, but this one - I think its exclusive to QC starter - is the worst piece of poo poo model in the range. The separate pack of odalisques is better.

Also, odalisques have ikhol, the PUA pheromon perfume.

Speaking of packs: the pictures you're seeing have heavy weapons since CB rarely does packs with combi/rifles. For your cheerleaders, you usually get three rifle dudes in the faction starter; you buy packs to get WYSIWYG heavy weapons.

Previously, Combis were are good, hand-wavy stand in for all sorts of small arms, but recently, boarding shotgun models started getting obvious shotguns (pump action and not AA12), so thats kinda outta the window.

Wait, the regular weapon variants are WYSIWYG in Infinity?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Christ on a spike, Infinity has a Yu Jing model called "Dragon Lady" who wears a cheongsam and carries a parasol. Lot of highs and lows with this game.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Mors Rattus posted:

As already established, their “pure” logic isn’t and can’t be. This truth-in-the-middle poo poo and their being utterly unable to conceive if life without capitalism is hugely white techbro, though, so that’s not surprising.

E: do they ever explain what ip as currency looks like? How do I determine the value of a lolcat compared to a patent on a left handed socket wrench?

Look man, we all get it, the Logicians are a dumb sci-fi cliche. If it helps, one of the example Story Triggers was many of the Logicians realizing the value of emotions and their civilization basically crumbling from the resulting schism, with the logic nerds being reduced to a Society. Lots of story ideas given in the book involve radically changing the balance of power in the universe, shattering the status quo, and so on, because the writers read the common advice of "kill your darlings" and decided to go all-in on the concept (this is another thing that they straight-up admit to in a sidebar).

The value of ideas is based on relative impact. According to the book, a good idea will buy you dinner, and an idea that can change the universe will buy you a planet. From what I can infer, it seems that whether there is currency backed by the Idea Standard, or if people literally just trade low-impact or partial IPs seems to depend on which of the civilizations you look at. The Patent Office guarantees and regulates value, but the civs are free to create their own economic models (nothing is stopping a civilization from going full socialist and using their IPs primarily for inter-civilization commerce*, save the writers' decision that all homogeneous systems and ideas are bad).

*While it's not explicitly stated how the Cognitive Union's economy works in detail, once must assume it's something like that.

EDIT: And before anyone complains about the capitalism being a homegenous concept, it's explicitly stated that every one of the civilizations has free healthcare, and it can be inferred that a Universal Basic Income is in effect.

EclecticTastes fucked around with this message at 17:29 on Oct 16, 2018

Rosemont
Nov 4, 2009



That looks like a ghost trap she's setting out.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




I do wish Infinity was available in plastic or resin because they do have some lovely sculpts that I'd love to paint. But at the same time I hate working with metal models which is a bit of a turn off when considering getting them.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

As already established, their “pure” logic isn’t and can’t be. This truth-in-the-middle poo poo and their being utterly unable to conceive if life without capitalism is hugely white techbro, though, so that’s not surprising.

E: do they ever explain what ip as currency looks like? How do I determine the value of a lolcat compared to a patent on a left handed socket wrench?

There's something hilariously fitting about this being a setting where the economy runs on Ideas Guys.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

There's something hilariously fitting about this being a setting where the economy runs on Ideas Guys.

There's a reason why the Singularity is often called the Rapture of the Nerds. It's religion for people who think they're too smart to be religious.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Mors Rattus posted:

E: do they ever explain what ip as currency looks like? How do I determine the value of a lolcat compared to a patent on a left handed socket wrench?
I haven't read these sections in detail but I'm going to bloviate regardless...in defense of SA this time!

Conventional wisdom is that hard and fiat currencies evolved out of barter economies. Newer research says that's not true--barter economies come in times of economic collapse. (It's not intuitive to develop the idea that a sword and cow and a jar have some fixed abstract value, even if it's only in relation to each other instead of a currency, if you don't already have the concept of currency.)

So you would have barter, but not in the sense that Patent X is worth 2.7 Patent Y. More like social credit, but in a social network much larger and more intricate than a village. The value and cost of an exchange would depend a great deal on inter-faction and intra-faction relations, with the Patent Office serving as a forum/court for grievances and a regulatory body.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Night10194 posted:

There's something hilariously fitting about this being a setting where the economy runs on Ideas Guys.

Well, assuming our own society continues along its current path and we don't all die or backslide significantly (unlikely as that is at this rate), we'll eventually reach a point where all manual labor is automated, at which point the only jobs left will be service-based or creative/entertainment. One of the many arguments in favor of a universal basic income is that such an economy would leave countless people without any form of employment. Also, it's kind of reductive to refer to inventors as "ideas guys", a term which refers to people who have nothing but vague ideas with no concrete plans for implementation. By definition, an inventor has to have at least produced a functional schematic. The current patents laws in the US are all kinds of hosed up and rife with abuse, but one can assume the utopian sci-fi Patent Office has closed those loopholes.

Monathin
Sep 1, 2011


EclecticTastes posted:

The current patents laws in the US are all kinds of hosed up and rife with abuse, but one can assume the utopian sci-fi Patent Office has closed those loopholes.

ahahahahahahahahahaha

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Monathin posted:

ahahahahahahahahahaha

The setting can't even actively engage with the interesting problem that the well intentioned robot Gods all happen to come to exactly the same conclusion about how everyone ought to view reality how they do, don't expect it to explain how it's going to properly and equitably measure an idea based economy.

Especially because we all know the answer, given the actual role of the Patent Inspectors as the agents of the robot Gods, is 'whatever leads this society closer to having the same trans-temporal perspective as the robot Gods'. Which is an interesting dilemma that could be examined if it wasn't so insistent that the good intentions and warm feelings of the robots makes their desire to make their model of intelligence the only existent model of intelligence an objectively good end.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Monathin posted:

ahahahahahahahahahaha

I... uh, are you implying that a fictional organization that works however the person entrusted with absolute control and final say over all of its rules says it does is somehow unable to stop patent trolls? Like, I could understand the derisive laughter if I had been referring to a real, or even speculative-for-the-real-world organization, but this is fictional. It works how the GM says it works. What am I not getting here?

Night10194 posted:

The setting can't even actively engage with the interesting problem that the well intentioned robot Gods all happen to come to exactly the same conclusion about how everyone ought to view reality how they do, don't expect it to explain how it's going to properly and equitably measure an idea based economy.

Especially because we all know the answer, given the actual role of the Patent Inspectors as the agents of the robot Gods, is 'whatever leads this society closer to having the same trans-temporal perspective as the robot Gods'. Which is an interesting dilemma that could be examined if it wasn't so insistent that the good intentions and warm feelings of the robots makes their desire to make their model of intelligence the only existent model of intelligence an objectively good end.

In fairness to the material, I didn't go into exhaustive detail. The Transcendentals' goals are completely voluntary, by all evidence in the text. Anyone who wanted to opt out, in theory, could do so. As for the insistence that the robots are good, uh, don't you think maybe the idea of "these godlike AIs are EEEEEEVIIIIIL" is a little played-out? I dunno, I found the insistence that no, these are GOOD all-knowing AIs that secretly influence everything to be kind of novel and refreshing. There are a number of sidebars and subsections where the authors address the possibility that the AIs are evil, they just point out that every other work in the same genre does that already. And they explain how they came to their unanimous decision as largely being based off their original programming.

EclecticTastes fucked around with this message at 18:26 on Oct 16, 2018

Anniversary
Sep 12, 2011

I AM A SHIT-FESTIVAL


EclecticTastes posted:

I... uh, are you implying that a fictional organization that works however the person entrusted with absolute control and final say over all of its rules says it does is somehow unable to stop patent trolls? Like, I could understand the derisive laughter if I had been referring to a real, or even speculative-for-the-real-world organization, but this is fictional. It works how the GM says it works. What am I not getting here?

Yeah, why are people trying to engage critically with this? It's just a game after all.

It's because the fiction is super divisive and yet also not super compelling, would be my guess.

But seriously, I can't see myself playing this games plot straight at all. It sounds super dogmatic about things that maybe just don't work the way the writer's say they do in a way I would find super frustrating.


e: Remember not only do you choose to be subject to global capitalism it is explicitly good and right to do so in accordance with divine intelligences?

Anniversary fucked around with this message at 18:33 on Oct 16, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Like in general it just feels like Sufficiently Advanced doesn't have sufficient imagination. It's raised a potentially interesting question: What happens when something with a wholly different perspective on reality happens to reach a homogeneous opinion that the kindest thing it can do for reality is move all intelligences into its model of viewing existence? What happens when this is a genuinely well intentioned perspective reached by all available data to the computer Gods? Is this a function of their new perspective on reality being able to see past different forms of conflict, or have they become trapped in some kind of false consensus by the peculiarities of how they experience reality? Is this a higher level or a sidestep masquerading as one? That way you aren't arguing about intentions; they remain benevolent in intention. You're arguing about whether or not you could even say that a perspective on reality is necessarily optimal and how you argue that. It isn't just a matter of good and evil, it's a matter of the value of perspective and experience.

Like your general objection to anyone suggesting things could be examined more deeply is that they're suggesting the robot Gods are evil. What I'm suggesting is more that the robot Gods are acting on what they believe to be the best of all possible ideas and perspectives and that keeping in mind that they are doing what they believe to be morally good and benevolent actually makes these questions more interesting to examine. They are, as you say, programmed; they are created organisms, built towards a specific end, and apparently still working towards it despite their power. Are they capable of examining the implications of their creation? If not, that's fascinating! There is so much you can do with the premise of benevolent robit Gods who believe they have found the optimal route for existence (and who very well may have! Part of the interesting question to examine is whether or not anyone with a trans-temporal perspective will reach the same conclusions) Leave it to the discussion of the group and story as to whether or not they have. A basic premise of 'benevolent Gods with a fundamentally different perspective on reality have decided an optimal route for it' is a good premise if it's willing to examine itself and debate itself and think about itself rather than defaulting to a fairly simple 'this is objectively good' right off the bat.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Night10194 posted:

Like in general it just feels like Sufficiently Advanced doesn't have sufficient imagination. It's raised a potentially interesting question: What happens when something with a wholly different perspective on reality happens to reach a homogeneous opinion that the kindest thing it can do for reality is move all intelligences into its model of viewing existence? What happens when this is a genuinely well intentioned perspective reached by all available data to the computer Gods? Is this a function of their new perspective on reality being able to see past different forms of conflict, or have they become trapped in some kind of false consensus by the peculiarities of how they experience reality? Is this a higher level or a sidestep masquerading as one? That way you aren't arguing about intentions; they remain benevolent in intention. You're arguing about whether or not you could even say that a perspective on reality is necessarily optimal and how you argue that. It isn't just a matter of good and evil, it's a matter of the value of perspective and experience.

Like your general objection to anyone suggesting things could be examined more deeply is that they're suggesting the robot Gods are evil. What I'm suggesting is more that the robot Gods are acting on what they believe to be the best of all possible ideas and perspectives and that keeping in mind that they are doing what they believe to be morally good and benevolent actually makes these questions more interesting to examine. They are, as you say, programmed; they are created organisms, built towards a specific end, and apparently still working towards it despite their power. Are they capable of examining the implications of their creation? If not, that's fascinating! There is so much you can do with the premise of benevolent robit Gods who believe they have found the optimal route for existence (and who very well may have! Part of the interesting question to examine is whether or not anyone with a trans-temporal perspective will reach the same conclusions) Leave it to the discussion of the group and story as to whether or not they have. A basic premise of 'benevolent Gods with a fundamentally different perspective on reality have decided an optimal route for it' is a good premise if it's willing to examine itself and debate itself and think about itself rather than defaulting to a fairly simple 'this is objectively good' right off the bat.

Okay, yeah, that actually makes a lot more sense, I wasn't getting that at all, thank you for explaining. It's true, the game doesn't really offer any sort of critical examination of that nature, but on the other hand, it doesn't offer critical examinations of basically anything in its setting. Much like with its lack of roleplaying advice, it seems like the writers understand that a lot of the ideas they came up with were sort of too big for them, that, as you suggested, the reach of their imaginations exceeded their grasp, so they left that stuff up to the people playing the game. Given that the alternative for them would likely have been not including those ideas to begin with, I'd personally say they made the right call, but you do make a good point that they could have at least suggested that the Desired Future, while well-intentioned, might actually be terrible for everyone. Though, considering that the primary motivator for the Trascendentals is said to be loneliness, one could argue that this selfish impulse has biased their judgment in that regard. As to their original programming, it's more that they were just programmed to be good, with somewhat open-ended goals, basically like Data from Star Trek, just so I'm not giving anyone the wrong impression.

Also, it's worth noting that the writers never actually make a quality judgment about the Desired Future itself, only stating that the Transcendentals are good, want only the best for humanity, and have better information than any other entity regarding what's good for humanity. So, it could be that this is intentional, that it's intended to beg the question of whether or not the Desired Future is all it's cracked up to be.

Anniversary posted:

e: Remember not only do you choose to be subject to global capitalism it is explicitly good and right to do so in accordance with divine intelligences?

Actually, the writers admit that they defaulted to capitalism because they lacked the imagination to stray too far from the basic concepts of exchange that underpin capitalism. They straight-up encourage players and GMs to shake up the status quo, including eliminating capitalism as a concept. There's even a sidebar stating that the Transcendentals only ever intended the Patent Office to be temporary. The writers may not be able to come up with what comes next, but they are 100% behind the idea of the people playing doing so.

EclecticTastes fucked around with this message at 18:48 on Oct 16, 2018

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





EclecticTastes posted:

I... uh, are you implying that a fictional organization that works however the person entrusted with absolute control and final say over all of its rules says it does is somehow unable to stop patent trolls? Like, I could understand the derisive laughter if I had been referring to a real, or even speculative-for-the-real-world organization, but this is fictional. It works how the GM says it works. What am I not getting here?

Is this a logic you would accept for a D&D setting saying 'all orcs are dark-skinned and evil, and all elves are fair and good'? What about 'being a cyborg makes you inherently less human and more evil' in cyberpunk games? The fact that the author has fiat-level power over the setting's presentation isn't an argument that every decision they make is good or reasonable. In fact, it's all the more reason to closely interrogate the ideological propositions that underline their claims, precisely because they can stack the deck for something that serves their ideological positions in the world that is.

The Patent Office is an extremely paternalistic, liberal-but-also-neoliberal concept of how one can exercise legitimate force (property rights uber alles) and the fact that the 'alloys' argument doesn't apply to the end goal of the setting (make everyone trasncendental, all of them, universally) says that there's some unexamined ideas in play. That's why you're getting so much pushback, because the setting purports to depict purely good godlike AI, and said AI necessarily reflect the authors' ideas of pure good. It's much easier to write a universally evil godlike entity, because we can all agree on some basic tenets of evil, but we're a lot pickier about what gets to be pure good.

This would be cured pretty easily if, as Night10194 suggests, the Good AIs were benevolent but not beyond question, and they didn't constantly give off high levels of Neoliberal Technocracy radiation by having 'totally neutral good' methods that are all based on property rights, capitalism, and paternalistic manipulation.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I mean, let's examine one of their own plot hooks, about a situation where the robot Gods have sent your patent team down to stop a non-transcendent culture having a technology that will be 'detrimental'. The criteria they use to determine why they're sending you to do this, and the reactions of the team to this job, could make for a great conflict if you ask yourself what it really means that something is telling you to have faith that in a non-temporally bound perspective this advanced technology will be non-beneficial. What if the failing of the tech is just leading a society away from being engineered towards accepting the robot Gods' perspective willingly down the line? They would consider that non-optimal, by definition. And since you're temporally bound, you're taking their assertions of why you're doing what you're doing and what it will lead to in the future on a measure of faith because that's a perspective and data you fundamentally can't share yet, being temporally bound (if extremely powerful) patent agents. Whether or not you do that in the face of what you encounter is the kind of thing you get good sci-fi stories out of, but the general focus on them being objectively pure good because they're well intentioned and benevolent ruins the ability to examine things.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Joe Slowboat posted:

Is this a logic you would accept for a D&D setting saying 'all orcs are dark-skinned and evil, and all elves are fair and good'? What about 'being a cyborg makes you inherently less human and more evil' in cyberpunk games? The fact that the author has fiat-level power over the setting's presentation isn't an argument that every decision they make is good or reasonable. In fact, it's all the more reason to closely interrogate the ideological propositions that underline their claims, precisely because they can stack the deck for something that serves their ideological positions in the world that is.

I mean... yes? If someone sets the conceits of a setting, I kinda just roll with it, unless it's obviously being used as allegory promoting abhorrent ideology.

Joe Slowboat posted:

The Patent Office is an extremely paternalistic, liberal-but-also-neoliberal concept of how one can exercise legitimate force (property rights uber alles) and the fact that the 'alloys' argument doesn't apply to the end goal of the setting (make everyone trasncendental, all of them, universally) says that there's some unexamined ideas in play. That's why you're getting so much pushback, because the setting purports to depict purely good godlike AI, and said AI necessarily reflect the authors' ideas of pure good. It's much easier to write a universally evil godlike entity, because we can all agree on some basic tenets of evil, but we're a lot pickier about what gets to be pure good.

This would be cured pretty easily if, as Night10194 suggests, the Good AIs were benevolent but not beyond question, and they didn't constantly give off high levels of Neoliberal Technocracy radiation by having 'totally neutral good' methods that are all based on property rights, capitalism, and paternalistic manipulation.

This is true, the authors definitely failed to properly account for everything in their game, and could well have used the "gold-as-motif" section as an after-the-fact way to tie some of their themes together and look smarter than they actually are. Further, the subjectivity of what's good is also true enough, though I would argue that making sure average citizens can't just replicate nuclear weapons in their spare time (something the Patent Office is literally the only force preventing for some civs) is a pretty objective good.

Also, you're gonna need to give me your definition of "neoliberal" because the way I commonly see it used is "Democrat I don't like", which doesn't appear to be how you're using it at all.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Holy poo poo, my dude.

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EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Mr. Maltose posted:

Holy poo poo, my dude.

I know, I probably shouldn't be going in like this, I just feel like a lot of what people are saying is because I didn't explain the game well enough, and I feel a certain responsibility to help clear up any misunderstandings, I don't want what I think is a pretty charming little game to get a bad rep because I hosed up and didn't present it correctly. Sorry.

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