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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



A: I think Michael Myers works better than Jason for that metaphor because while yes going to Camp Crystal Lake is trespassing where you shouldn't like S&G (he said in a tortured metaphor), Halloween is the intrusion of the terrible into the mundane for incalculable reason. For some reason the Boogeyman is suddenly real and nobody can comprehend why.

B: I do like the resulting environment even if it's kinda stupidly grim. The MMO is dead and all that remains are the players that couldn't or didn't log out. It's been a bit tortured to get to this point but I still do like that this whole thing hinges on millennia-old misunderstandings and bad translations.

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Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

If they had simply left those two questions and answers out, I think it would have been a hell of a lot more effective.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Humbug Scoolbus posted:

A bit farther away from the blasphemous, voodoo is a legitimate religion that reveres Christ

1. the implication here is that the only "legitimate religion(s)" are ones that revere JC? :discourse:
2. i would love to know what tortured trail of anti-logic allowed the author to reach this conclusion


Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Q: Is there any kind of afterlife for the Meek?
A: No. After life you rot.

Q: What happens to my soul when I die?
A: It dies too. While the soul was thought of as eternal before the Revelation, it wasn't. It was just the part of each person that was saved and taken to the afterlife. Without an afterlife, the soul has proven to be as mortal as the flesh.

so the idea is that you're pioneers rebuilding civilization in the wake of global catastrophe? because now you've got a version of the modern world where there is definitively no afterlife (and presumably everyone left alive objectively knows this) so once you knock off the horsemen and the beast you could actually create a paradise on earth.

what are the odds the author immediately decides everyone left behind turns into amoral nihilist sociopaths because "WITHOUT THE CARROT AND STICK OF HEAVEN AND HELL HUMANS ARE JUST DEBASED ANIMALS". you know, despite all of the people in actual reality that do not subscribe to any religious doctrine and yet mysteriously aren't thrill-kill cult members

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Freaking Crumbum posted:

2. i would love to know what tortured trail of anti-logic allowed the author to reach this conclusion
Oh that one I can handle because it's legitimately true. Voodoo as we know it in a proper cultural sense is a syncretic religion that takes the trappings of Catholicism and integrates them with traditional African beliefs thanks to everyone's favorite looming specter of past atrocities, the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Because Africans tended to be more or less thrown together at random thanks to colonialism and the fact that people believed "Africa is a land of savages", you had people from Yoruba mixing with folks from Dahomey and more bonding together over shared horror and finding faith in compatible (yet markedly different) ideologies that often had a root in ancestor worship. This fusion of various religious traditions was a comfort and helped keep the communities together under the oppression of slavery. However, outwardly maintaining this faith was frowned upon by the white communities along the Atlantic coast.

So how do you keep your cool in the face of horror? Adopt the tools of the oppressors. The British may not have been particularly Catholic (hello Anglican church!) but the French, Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch most certainly were. Cloak your traditional ancestor worship in the guise of Catholicism: the Supreme Creator becomes Bondye, the Good God. Bondye listens to the petitions of the loa oh wait did I say loa no I meant saints. The Saints will deliver the pleas and prayers of the faithful to God as long as tribute is paid in the form of service and ritualized offerings.

And then of course because you're combining two somewhat compatible syncretic beliefs, you have kids and you pass those onto your kids who do that in turn and through the ages you end up with Haitian, Louisianan, Dominican and Cuban Vodou. Fundamentally, the line between Vodou and Catholicism is heavily blurred and it really is a religion that pays more attention to capital G God more than people realize. And it really is a legitimate religion that is recognized and respected.

Now granted it's not as Jesus-focused as American fundamentalist Protestantism is but they do have love for the Son of God.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




The Haitian Revolution contained a voodoo movement that proclaimed Christ is Black and calls on Haitians to liberate themselves by killing Whitey. It ruled.

Hostile V posted:

A: I think Michael Myers works better than Jason for that metaphor because while yes going to Camp Crystal Lake is trespassing where you shouldn't like S&G (he said in a tortured metaphor), Halloween is the intrusion of the terrible into the mundane for incalculable reason. For some reason the Boogeyman is suddenly real and nobody can comprehend why.
They're half-right. Jason Voorhees punishes (mostly) adolescents for (mostly) entering a liminal space and breaking taboos. That's pretty Old Testament stuff.

Michael Myers is the opposite: a wounded child who is more-or-less trying to claw his way back into the womb. His entire existence is a primal scream against maturity--against having his mother-figure taken away from him by her budding sexuality--so as a man he's a ravening Shape where an adult ought to be. So if you see God as this punitive force operating on bizarre logic you can't identify with, then Myers is your guy.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The one thing about the Old Testament God that isn't reflected: everyone knows the rules. Old Testament God lays out extremely clear rules for what you can and can't do. Now, OT God doesn't ever explain said rules or why they are in place, but they are all very clearly written out and documented.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

The one thing about the Old Testament God that isn't reflected: everyone knows the rules. Old Testament God lays out extremely clear rules for what you can and can't do. Now, OT God doesn't ever explain said rules or why they are in place, but they are all very clearly written out and documented.

Dude loves Covenants and you can't do Covenants unless everyone knows the Covenant.

Reminds me of the one story where during the conquest of the Land, some of the neighbors of the new Israelite tribe are looking at the swath of mythic destruction they're leaving in their wake and go 'okay, we want to be on these guy's good side, but their God has ordered them to destroy a lot of stuff' so they come up with a plan where they bring old bread with them and pretend to be from very far away, such that the Israelites believe they're from out of the Land and make covenant with them as peace without remembering to ask God first. Then they find out they're tricked and God says 'No, you can't attack them, because you made a deal and gave your word that you wouldn't and while I'm annoyed you didn't ask me, covenants matter'.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Lightning all striking your rear end because you said a bat wasn't a bird.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Night10194 posted:

Resolving the main theological doubt of your theological horror setting in two questions in a sidebar, definitively, is a very odd move.

Also, when were the second group of rear end in a top hat aliens added to Infinity?

Campaign Paradiso, a supplement for second edition, from 2012. It was intended to add some continuing story and experiential mechanics to the game, and some papercraft trains.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013



I like the Tohaa. :colbert:

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Halloween Jack posted:

Lightning all striking your rear end because you said a bat wasn't a bird.

Bats are bugs.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Tsilkani posted:

I like the Tohaa. :colbert:

I would genuinely like to know why.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Hostile V posted:

And it really is a legitimate religion that is recognized and respected.

that wasn't the part i was being sarcastic about. my reading was that the second part (reveres JC) was what informed the first part (legitimate religion) with the implication being that without the second half, the first half couldn't stand on its own.

if this is a situation where i have become overly sensitive to the subject material then i apologize for any unintended insinuation.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




grassy gnoll posted:

I would genuinely like to know why.
You ever have artichokes stuffed with chorizo?

oriongates posted:

I worked on a mini-setting based on an extremely loose version of the rapture, called "After J-day". The rapture happened, the world was ruined and the chosen were taken to heaven while those judged unworthy were left on Earth, to be slaughtered by the forces of hell after the gates underneath Megido were opened. As the survivors of all of the armies of the earth gathered for a last, doomed stand against the demons the courage of the sinful inspired a schism in heaven. In the second great rebellion a small army of angels left heaven and descended to earth to fight alongside them. They successfully beat back Satan's forces and sealed the gates again.

The players play as rebel archangels a couple of decades later, wandering the Earth, left a monster-filled wasteland by the war and full of post-apocalyptic cliches: warlords and cults, mutants, monsters and the walking dead, as well as the various apocalyptic Beasts and the threat of escaping demons. The problem is that using their powers in defiance of heaven means corruption and eventual transformation into a devil, if they aren't cautious.
Can I like, buy it anywhere

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Freaking Crumbum posted:

that wasn't the part i was being sarcastic about. my reading was that the second part (reveres JC) was what informed the first part (legitimate religion) with the implication being that without the second half, the first half couldn't stand on its own.

if this is a situation where i have become overly sensitive to the subject material then i apologize for any unintended insinuation.
Ahh, I gotcha. We're having Religion Chat all up in here I figured it was just an applicable moment of education and poo poo, no worries and I see what you mean.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hostile V posted:

Ahh, I gotcha. We're having Religion Chat all up in here I figured it was just an applicable moment of education and poo poo, no worries and I see what you mean.

Yo if you ever want to share religion facts do it because religion facts rule.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Joe Slowboat posted:

Bats are bugs.

Calvin, they are not bugs!

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Robindaybird posted:

Calvin, they are not bugs!

Who's giving this report, you chowderheads or me?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Sigmar's Heirs

I've been avoiding this book a long time

Well, it's finally time for the official Empire Book. Sigmar's Heirs is the first book written for the line past the Core and man does it show. In a line that got considerably better as it went on, Sigmar's Heirs stands out for not really knowing what the hell it wanted to do. Worse, a bunch of important content for it got chopped out to be put in other books; you remember the huge writeup of Middenheim that accompanied Ashes of Middenheim? Middenheim, Talabheim, Nuln, and Altdorf all have big mini-campaigns or campaign chapter books written for them, and all the details on those cities are there. There is jack and poo poo on the most important cities in the Empire in this, the Empire book, and this, the Empire, the nation with the largest and most important cities in the setting. You'll get more information on random villages in the middle of nowhere than you will on the Empire's capital. The organization of this book is also a mess, and this is the one book in the line that tries to publish a 'demographic' list of the populations of every random town in the Empire. It ends up putting the Empire at a population, total, of about 478,000 or so people (I counted! I lost my notes on it because I did it months ago) when added up. By contrast, the actual HRE during the 17th century often had about 20 million or so. This is why they stopped doing this in later books; it wastes a ton of page space for something no-one will ever use and it's ludicrously underpopulated as is.

You remember how the Bret and Kislevite books had themes and strong ideas running throughout? The Empire book doesn't really know what to do with the Empire. It's too short to be detailed (If you clip out the adventure included with it, it's less than 100 pages of actual content) but it still tries to cover every province and everything about the Empire, ending up doing it all in a very cursory style. Its adventure hooks aren't particularly interesting, and it lacks the later style where they really nailed down adding 'and here's a way to play with it!' in all of their content. The main theme running through the Empire in Sigmar's Heirs is mostly 'Archaon wrecked it' and the main suggestion for alternate timelines in the front is 'Well what if he's still around and super dangerous'; there's no real solid sense of Imperial culture or daily life. Each individual province gets a short write-up, but these are fairly short and not very exciting. We also get a hodge-podge of classes in the back of the book that don't really have any rhyme or reason to them; there's nothing that yells 'Imperial' the way the Bret Careers and Kislevite Careers got their countries across.

The book opens with a brief description of the geographical regions of the Empire; it's a huge place, and climate and character change a lot depending on what province and which region you're in. The Empire's borders are mostly formed by natural barriers, save the northern border with Kislev and the Sea of Claws, and most of those barriers are mountains. The Grey Mountains to the west separate it from Bretonnia, while the huge swampland of the Wasteland separates the parts where the Grey Mountains end from the coast and Marienburg. The Vaults separate the southern border from the roads to Tilea, and the Black Mountains keep the eastern borders of the Empire. The most important geographical features of the Empire are the massive rivers that run all through it; the Empire literally couldn't exist as a polity without them. The Reik, the Stir, the Talabec river, and all their associated smaller rivers are more essential to the Empire's logistics, transport, and communication than any human-built road. River traffic is absolutely vital to the Empire's existence, because the Empire is very heavily forested. Those forests are mostly unexplored; going too deep means you run into swarms of Goatman Prime and all manner of monsters and no-one wants to do that. So while the Empire is one of the most developed regions in the setting, never forget there are vast swaths of forest that no human has ever mapped. Hell, no wood elf has ever mapped some of it. You want to have a hidden place for players to explore in the Empire? Put it in the forests and drop vague clues about it.

The only relatively unforested area of the Empire is in the southeast. Parts of Reikland (The south-central main province) are perfect agricultural territory and feed much of the Empire, and the Southeastern province of Averland has most of the Empire's grazing land and livestock. Ostermark (eastern middle province) has some unforested veldt, too, which serves as a raising ground for Imperial horses. The northern Empire is very heavily forested, and the furthest north sections are quite cold; one reason Ulricans prefer to live in the north. The farthest north parts of the Empire are also off the river network, and have to rely on much more dangerous and slower roads through the northern forests; travel is much more dangerous when you can't sail, much slower, and much more expensive, so towns and villages in these regions are much more isolated.

One important bit of Imperial character that DOES come across in this book is that the Empire is the most multicultural society in the setting. Elf, Dwarf, Human, and Halfling all live there, and the Empire's central location and huge size and development mean that international trade and travel is more common here than anywhere else in the setting. Humans are, of course, the main inhabitants of the Empire, and tend to have a slightly benign stereotype of the other species; 'Oh those halflings, all such good cooks! And elves are such good dancers!' that kind of thing. Dwarfs and humans get along quite well; this is the book that likened the relationship between dwarf and human to an uncle with a favorite nephew. Humans respect the dwarfs and their role in Imperial history, though human engineers and smiths sometimes grumble about their dwarven neighbors 'taking jobs' from them (since dwarf-craft is always in high demand). The dwarfs like to remind the humans of how much they owe them, but in a good-natured way; they think of humans as proteges, and the Imperials as the best of the lot. After all, dwarfs are short, bearded folk, fond of drink and industry. Imperials are, to them, tall, bearded folk, fond of drink and industry; a natural sign of the good influence of the dwarfs.

Elves generally don't see themselves as part of the Empire, even if they live there, and their nervousness about its comparatively meteoric rise back to stability and importance after they helped Magnus is hidden behind a veneer of scorn. The elves who actually live in the Empire, the wood elves of the Laurelorn forest, still maintain their independence but have increasingly admitted that their fate is tied to the Empire and that if it really turned against them, it would be extremely inconvenient. They try to get along with their human neighbors for the most part, and hope to be left alone. Some of them go further, entering the Empire to try to safeguard it and make sure the humans don't gently caress everything up, never admitting that they do this because they're reliant on the humans for protection from truly overwhelming threats. This is quite a different relationship than the Bret have with their wood elves! We get a sidebar telling you to make elf characters relatively rare in the Empire, and promising more on elfs and dwarfs when they get their own sourcebook, which sadly never happened. Humans look at elves as powerful and weird, but also find them really, really annoying; elves like to speak slowly and simply when talking to humans, because they feel they need to put things in terms a barbarian's descendants can understand. Elves are generally particularly scornful of Sigmar; maybe they're jealous he's way less of a total rear end in a top hat than their lovely chief God.

Halflings claim that Sigmar saved them from something, but they don't really remember what, and neither do the humans. As long as the Empire has existed, there have been halflings. And the halflings have always backed the humans; they really like the way the humans will just forget about them and do all the serious fighting while the halflings continue on making pies. They contribute, of course, and they're proud of their contributions; halflings still serve as scouts and archers for the Imperial army sometimes, and their contributions form some of the cornerstones of Imperial cuisine. They also make great spies, assassins, and thieves, because everyone knows halflings are provincial, harmless types, right? Everyone else sees the halflings as walking jokes, and elves tend to view them like adorable, favored pets, but the halflings don't mind. As long as everyone else is dying in the muck, they're happy to continue doing their thing, even if they know they'll get dragged along too whenever things get really serious.

Next Time: I'm not rewriting the entire 2522 years of fictional history for like the 4th time

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Halloween Jack posted:

You ever have artichokes stuffed with chorizo?

Can I like, buy it anywhere

It's very slender right now. As part of the work I'm doing on my Badass Kung Fu Demigods game I came up with about 6 micro-settings as examples of the sort of games you could play with the system, one of which was After J-Day. So it's basically a page-long setting description meant to be paired with the setting-agnostic system. When it comes time to actually produce this as a product I'm pondering expanding some of the micro-settings into 5-10 page mini-setting booklets and After J-day is one of my favorites so it might get that treatment.

The last complete draft is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZPw62RESBlu0JZ_8PibtD2SA77uo4XIz/view?usp=sharing

After J-Day is on pg 57, and an example of play in the setting (two angels fighting a mortal who has merged with a portion of the being Wormwood) on page 64.

It's one of the settings I use to show the system can be used for more serious settings, since the default is kind of "Exalted meets FLCL" levels of go-nuts.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



So re my earlier comment: the rule I was thinking of was that in 1e you reduced enemy magic resistance by 5% for every mage level you had over 10. That apparently didn't make it to 2e, carry on.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Pathfinder 2: We're gonna need more booze:

Chapter 9: Playing the Game:
We're introduced to three modes of play: encounter mode, exploration mode, and downtime mode. Encounter mode is your standard 6-second battle turn, exploration mode is its own thing, and downtime mode is day tracking for things like crafting, looting, etc. There's a short section on checks, including the 5 proficiency levels and a short revelation that they've cut all modifiers into 3 different types - item, circumstance, and conditional. This is actually not a terrible change, as bonuses of the same type don't stack and it cuts down on the giant pile of buffs people used to pile on in 3.P.

Also, shields totally do give a passive AC bonus but only if your armor proficiency bonus is higher or equal. This is a stupid system and I hate it.

We finally get a definition of what a critical failure is, and it's just rolling a 1 on the die.

There are abilities that can instantly kill you as death effects again.

There's also a hero point system where everyone gets 1 hero point, and you can earn more by doing stuff the GM likes OR bribing the party with food (it really says this). You can store up to 3. Spending 1 lets you lose the dying condition and go to 1 HP, 2 lets you reroll a d20 roll, and 3 lets you take an extra action in a round.

Perception! Apparently senses are divided into "precise" and "imprecise" senses, so you can use precise senses (like vision) to see creatures unless you can use a seek action to locate hidden dudes. Senses like hearing are imprecise and can't be used to pinpoint creatures. Various special senses like echolocation, blindsense, etc get assigned one of these categories.

The book lays out four detection levels: Seen, concealed, sensed, and unseen. Unseen is basically undetected and you can't do anything to it, sensed you know the creature is there and what space it is, and if you fail a DC 11 flat check you can't affect the target with spells/attacks/etc. Concealed is sensed but the check is 5 instead of 11. Seen is of course normal operation fighting a guy in the open. This actually isn't a terrible idea, as it helps stealth have some degrees. Unfortunately looking at the stealth rules you can just jump to unseen with one sneak check, so there's no real reason to use any of this poo poo for anything other than environmental effects.

We then go to encounter mode, which doesn't have much new aside from the three actions. It's basic D&D combat, you've seen this before. There's a list of actions, and in addition to the raise shield action there's a "shield block" reaction that reduces incoming damage by the shield's hardness but also deals damage to your shield.

Mounts eat your actions to do stuff and penalize your defenses. Don't ride a mount.

Exploration is its own weird little minigame. There's a list of tactics such as cantrip spamming, sneaking, tracking and so forth, some of which fatigue characters or force them to move at half speed. If you're fatigued you have to spend time resting to regain fatigure to use your tactic.

Downtime lets you retrain, but there are no hard and fast rules for time or any of that crap so you just argue with the DM until he lets you exchange your crappy +1 to saves against emotions for literally anything else. You can also craft items and whatnot.

Finally the chapter closes with a list of conditions.

Next time: Game mastering!

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




TheGreatEvilKing posted:

There's also a hero point system where everyone gets 1 hero point, and you can earn more by doing stuff the GM likes OR bribing the party with food (it really says this). You can store up to 3. Spending 1 lets you lose the dying condition and go to 1 HP, 2 lets you reroll a d20 roll, and 3 lets you take an extra action in a round.

Wow, what an economy!

What kind of justification is there for this horseshit? Is there any? Because this is pre-playtest draft spitballing levels of bad. This should be stuff you give a little bit of thought and revise well before publishing a playtest document that you literally sell for money.

I mean, obviously I can presume a lot of unkind reasons this saw print, but are there dev notes or threads on Paizo's forums talking about why they bothered to have this terrible thought in the first place?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Say, you said you get 3 actions a turn; how does multi-attacking work? Do you get hosed if you do anything but plant feet and swing? Is raising your shield for lovely blocking/AC going to stop you full attacking because lol Fighters?

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



That Old Tree posted:

Wow, what an economy!

What kind of justification is there for this horseshit? Is there any? Because this is pre-playtest draft spitballing levels of bad. This should be stuff you give a little bit of thought and revise well before publishing a playtest document that you literally sell for money.

I mean, obviously I can presume a lot of unkind reasons this saw print, but are there dev notes or threads on Paizo's forums talking about why they bothered to have this terrible thought in the first place?

There are forums. I haven't gone into them because I value my sanity, but part of the closing post will be mentioning their design goals. I think it's safe to say they fail most of them.

Night10194 posted:

Say, you said you get 3 actions a turn; how does multi-attacking work? Do you get hosed if you do anything but plant feet and swing? Is raising your shield for lovely blocking/AC going to stop you full attacking because lol Fighters?

I think I mentioned this, but if I didn't you can make attacks at -0, -5, and -10 and each costs an action. If you get an agile weapon the penalty is reduced to -4 and -8. Yes, you get totally hosed if you try to move, but seeing how godawful the penalties are and my suspicions AC is a lot higher this time around you might be boned. This is an "as I read through it" review, so I have yet to get to the playtest adventure. We'll get there.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



TheGreatEvilKing posted:

Pathfinder 2: We're gonna need more booze:

Exploration is its own weird little minigame. There's a list of tactics such as cantrip spamming, sneaking, tracking and so forth, some of which fatigue characters or force them to move at half speed. If you're fatigued you have to spend time resting to regain fatigure to use your tactic.

I'm sure the implementation is atrocious, but this is potentially neat? Can we have more information?

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Halloween Jack posted:

The Haitian Revolution contained a voodoo movement that proclaimed Christ is Black and calls on Haitians to liberate themselves by killing Whitey. It ruled.
It was specifically killing French people. Though most of them got killed in the following civil wars, there wasn't any animosity against the Polish volunteers who chose to stay in Haiti even though they were white. Though I guess there is an argument that given it was the 1800s Poles didn't count as white yet.

Also Voodoo is a significantly more Christian than American Protestantism by any measure that matters. :colbert:

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Angrymog posted:

I'm sure the implementation is atrocious, but this is potentially neat? Can we have more information?

I'd been planning to put more stuff about this in the playtest adventure when we look at how these mechanics would be applied, but I'll include some more info in my next writeup post.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Pathfinder 2: We're gonna need more booze:

Chapter 9 addendum: Exploration mode in more detail
So exploration mode is triggered whenever you're wandering a town, dungeon, or the wilderness and works on either feet, mph, or miles per day. The tactics listed are: Casting a spell, Concentrating on a Spell, Covering Tracks, Defending, Detecting magic, Following Tracks, Hustling, Investigating, Searching, Sneaking, and Wandering. Everything except hustling (double speed) and wandering (regular speed, no side effect) makes you move at half speed, Spell tactics and hustling can only be done for 10 minutes before you get fatigued and have to rest.

Generally these things all just consist of "you can move at half speed and make a skill check/use magic". There's no actual play or counterplay or goals really, just that your standard "I search for traps" is now an Investigating tactic. There's also a short section of "social tactics" which include partying (to use Diplomacy), conversing (deception/intimidation), looking out (perception), shopping (does nothing and I'm not sure why it's a tactic) and stealing (which fatigues you for...reasons). All in all it comes across as random organization for the sake of organization rather than using your Ad Hominem attack to smash the king's Appeal to Authority. It's like they read the criticism of D&D 5e having 3 pillars of roleplaying and having rules for only combat and not exploration or roleplaying - then invented some rules to fill in the blanks.

There is more on this in:

Chapter 10: Game Mastering:

The chapter starts out with a request that you use the official Pathfinder Playtest adventure and fill out their survey. As my survey feedback would probably be "your ideas are terrible and I want my $50 back" I'm not sure I'm what they're looking for.

Anyway, we get some surprisingly not terrible (if unneeded) advice on how to run a game - consider allowing new player options instead of dismissing it out of hand, use circumstance bonuses, make a ruling and look up the rules later, etc. There's a short bit on running encounters on how you shouldn't use tactics if it would be less than ideal to do so. Now, their example is fairly idiotic as they give the example of a fighter taunting a giant to get it to stop beating up the wizard and attack the fighter. This seems like a problem that could be solved by game mechanics, such as say giving the fighter area lockdown abilities or even an MMO-style taunt, but who am I to question Paizo?

Next is running exploration mode. The guide is to just have players declare their actions and then match them to the exploration mode tactics, which raises the question of why these tactics even exist. There is, once again, no meaningful difference between searching for traps and the investigating tactic.

The authors then segue into skill DCs by level, and boy are these a doozy! There's a table of skill checks by level and then 5 difficulty levels per character level. Lest we confuse this with errata 4e's weird love of scaling skill DCs to the players, the text takes great pains to inform us that tasks don't get harder as you level up. Now, for some MATH!

The level 0 skill DCs are 9,10, 12, 14, and 17. A first level character with an 18 in a stat has a +5 with a trained skill due to trained being a bonus of your level. Thus they fail the trivial task on a 1,2, or 3 for 15% of the time - which is actually fairly large considering how routine the task is supposed to be. Imagine if Pavarotti had given a terrible performance 15% of the time - he wouldn't have a good reputation at all! The book says that more skilled members of the party should just kinda auto-pass trivials.

Some of you are probably wondering what happened to the take 10 and 20 rules. Guess what? You need to burn a feat for that. That's not to take 10 on all skills, that's to take 10 on ONE skill. Now, this 10 is WITHOUT YOUR MODIFIERS, so by level 2 you are back to being unable to auto-pass checks. At third level you can raise your favorite skill to expert and take 15, allowing you to auto-pass trivial AND low on a level 3 challenge - unlike level 2 where you could auto-pass neither. What I'm getting at is the skill math is hosed and no thought seems to have been put into Assurance at all.

Then, on the NEXT page they introduce ordinary tasks like tree climbing, which is a level 0 challenge with a trivial DC of 5 while the table has the trival DC at 9. What the hell?

There's a short section on environment and traps which is fairly uninteresting.

Next time: Treasure, Appendices, and thread participation!

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Clear ether!


The Lensman series consists of seven novels written in a chronologically inconsistent order: Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensman and Children of the Lens, all of which were serialized in Astounding Stories magazine from 1937 through 1948. The author, E.E. "Doc" Smith, rewrote an earlier work (Triplanetary) to serve as a prequel and wrote a bridging novel, First Lensman, revising the rest of the work to be more internally consistent in 1954. Smith wrote another novel, The Vortex Blaster, in 1960. There were also three authorized side-novels by David Kyle (The Dragon Lensman, Lensman from Rigel, and Z-Lensman). There was also some anime - a movie and a two-season TV show, apparently not widely regarded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBod6EKQaok

The Lensman series has been tremendously influential, and is the progenitor of the entire "space opera" genre. I don't say "a" on purpose. Essentially everything in that field starts here in some form. The US Navy deliberately modeled their combat information centers on a hypothetical command ship Smith invented; power armor, intergalactic travel, and bizarre aliens that are nonetheless relatable despite spectacularly inhuman psychologies are common. As is the power creep. Thankfully enough the novels end not long after the point where they are using exotic-matter inertialess planets operating at multiple times light speed as kinetic kill weapons, but they get there from "Take this tractor-beam warship and try to figure out what the space pirates are using for power."

GURPS Lensman was written and published in 1993 by Sean Barrett. It is not available for retail or PDF sale at present, although you can probably get it secondhand - which is also where you would need to get the Lensman books. I have a complete set and have enjoyed them, but the books have issues - Kyle's books clean up a lot of it, and much of it was likely rooted in ignorance or apathy (a la Howard) rather than fear of a black planet (a la Lovecraft). The GURPS book does not do anything particularly new or imaginative with the material - it simply collates it and reifies it. Nonetheless, there are ideas here that may bear fruit seen in the light of modern day.

I. Introduction, history and society


no pressure or nothing

So, that's the setting. The Arisians are presented as assholes with ultimately good intentions, while the Eddorians do pretty much everything evil in order to satisfy a fundamental lust for power existing for its own sake. These are cartoon sketches, even if perhaps the same recent history that makes things like Sufficiently Advanced seem overly naive also makes the Eddorians more plausible.

The setting history is summarized in a couple of pages, including a cute aside suggesting Arisian interference to prevent the development of transistor electronics on Earth. (Civilization's electronics - and apparently that of their enemies - runs on extremely refined vacuum tubes, about which more later.) The big divergence point is the Cuban missile crisis going hot due to a radar failure, at which point Earth crawls back up and lurches into space. This appears to be the work of Sean Barrett; the entire Lensman corpus was written by the time of the missile crisis.

One of the premises of the setting is that intelligent life is extremely common, with seal-like people on Venus (which is, of course, a tropical hothouse, not what it is now) and slow-moving estivated guys on Mars. There are also squat supermen on Jupiter, though that's where it ends. The plot involves a lot of desperate fights and spy-novel thriller chases. When a guy named Bergenholm creates a fast interstellar drive, law enforcement breaks down, and the titular First Lensman goes to Arisia to get the Lens as a tool for law enforcement.

The Lens is presented as an unforgeable identifier, a universal translator, and (for humans) a telepathic enhancer. Getting a Lens requires you to pass muster with the super-brains on Arisia -- and it is explicitly noted that some number of people who make it through the Earth academy system that produces Lensmen candidates go to Arisia and do not return. Other planets do things their own way, and it is offhandedly mentioned that most of the point of the academy system is to improve the prospective Lensman and the jillions of candidates who wash out, because the Lensmen themselves could spot out "Lensman material" among babies in the crib.

In GURPS terms being a Lensman is a 100-point Advantage with a bunch of requirements. Summarized:
* Officer (Rank 4+) in the Galactic Patrol
* Sex restrictions depending on species (see next update)
* The nastier Mental Disadvantages (Bully, Sadism, Pyromania, etc.) are a no-go. If you have a "Split Personality" all the components have to meet the requirements. Secrets are variable - Mentor of Arisia will learn 'em, so GM's option.
* Honesty, the "Lensman's Load" Code of Honor, and Sense of Duty (Civilization) are required.
* Also, you need a little bit of Telepathy power. Implicitly you just need to not NOT have telepathy, rather than formal Power.
* You get to have Enemy (Boskonia) as a result. ("Boskonia" is the umbrella term for The Bad Guys, since "Eddore" is a massive in-universe secret.)

The benefits are significant. You get the Judge Dredd level of Legal Enforcement Powers - Lensmen are able to judge, jury, and execute at their discretion without criticism or oversight. The Lens also gives you 50 points to blow on various mental advantages. Humans have to buy up telepathy powers and skill, while the three other main alien races mostly enhance their native Telepathy and buy off Weak Will/buy up Strong Will. These points are tracked separately from others: if Lensman Jackoff buys Telepathy Power 8 with 40 of these points, then spends 10 more points buying up to Power 10, he has Power 2 when he takes off his Lens.

The "unforgable ID" part of a Lens comes from its status as some kind of psionic crystal. Each one is made by the Arisians and sparkles gorgeously when in contact with the appointed bearer. The Lens disappears shortly after its bearer dies. When not in contact with its bearer it looks dull and grey and will do 3d of damage per second to anyone touching it. (For context, the average human has 10 HP in GURPS.) Humans usually put theirs in a bracelet; sturdier aliens may get them mounted internally.

The "Universal Translator" is genuinely universal: a Lensman can understand any meaningful communication they can perceive. Concepts may not transfer if they are really alien, and a Lensman can't pick up radio transmissions without a receiver (or an organic ability to do so...) but no code is safe. It is interesting to consider if this would apply to steganography.

Most Lensmen are officers in the Galactic Patrol and either die in the saddle or move into staff positions - often due to severe injury that they manage to survive. Some Lensmen, due to long experience and successful missions, are given the "Release" - no, not that kind of release; essentially, they are completely freed from the requirements of the hierarchy and are bound only by their own conscience. These "Gray Lensmen" also become the specific personal enemy of Boskonia, which will now appear "almost all the time." A consolation here is that Gray Lensmen effectively have unlimited wealth - they can requisition essentially anything and the Galactic Patrol will pay for it.

So, those are the Lensmen. Horrifying, aren't they? You can see where they got the idea for the Psi-Corps. Or the Jedi, or the Green Lantern Corps...

In anything resembling actual reality they would be the true masters of their host culture. And this is honestly more or less the case in the books, which we will touch on when we start talking about planetary civilizations. The interior story-logic is that the Lensmen are actually incorruptible, and genuinely believe in their ethics. Presumably the Arisians test every prospective Lensman and if they find that they would break under pressure that wouldn't kill them, or who gamed the system to get in, they cut to the chase and kill them themselves. The situation is also buttressed by the First Lensman and his OG buddies taking down a corrupt political machine in North America connected to space pirates and criminals (how topical!), which gave them enough credibility to earn societal tolerance.



Our next update will be about sexism.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Ah, yeah, GURPS Lensman is famous for it's sexism.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



There's a great let's read/discussion going on about the Lensman books here.

https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?819911-WIreR-E-E-Smith-s-Lensman-series-Comentary-Discussion-and-a-hypothetical-modern-adaption

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Ratoslov posted:

Ah, yeah, GURPS Lensman is famous for it's sexism.
The (starkly) astonishing thing is that they honestly play it more up in this here supplement than they did in the original books. Doc Smith wouldn't win any feminist author awards, of course.

Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


Ratoslov posted:

Ah, yeah, GURPS Lensman is famous for it's sexism.
Accurate to the source material then.

The only Lensman novel I read was Galactic Patrol, which was mainly for historical context reasons. That book is super concerned about drugs, yo.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



Possible zwilnik sympathiser spotted, please alert the nearest patrol base.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Boscone will be unhappy...



More Setting Stuff

First, there's a section on slang which is pretty cringe-worthy and also annoys me a lot. Less than 42,000 people in the US and the campaign is presumed to start three to six months after the Seventh Seal is broken. How did people come up with a slang in that short a period of time? The book says that these terms are generally accepted across the US, with no mass communication how the hell did they spread that fast. That's minor though.

There's more on the rate of decay from the Blues (and how certain places and things are more resistant like Route 66), discussion of 'Ennui' which is a kind of apathy a lot of the Meek succumb to where they go through the motions of life in a daze, and further discussion of what the Lord did and did not do.

God granted humanity dominion over beasts, the ability to create life, the existence of a soul, and reason. He only took away one of those. In any animal encounter, the animal will not hesitate to gently caress a Meek up. There's no more, 'They're as scared of you, as you are of them...' now.

The Four Horsemen are stuck on Earth and are really pissed at humanity and God about equally. Famine's works have destroyed a lot of farmland and until the Blues purge the contamination. agriculture is rough. Pestilence has turned random surviving medications into poisons. War has made sure that the Blues affect weapons and ammunition far less, so it's easier finding a working shotgun than a baby stroller :freep:. No knows what Death is up to.

There's a section on travel discussing ground vehicle, water vehicle, aircraft (!), railroad(!!), and foot; and a section on dogs and how helpful they are to the Meek.

Finally, there's this...

quote:

The thing that took everyone by surprise is how generous God was. If you believed in a single, benevolent God and lived your life according to the doctrines of the religion that you practiced, you were admitted into Heaven. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Buddhists were all admitted. People who followed a polytheistic religion still had some hope, provided that they followed their religion's most benevolent god and followed the virtues of humility, self-sacrifice, and love.

If you had truck with the forces of evil in any way shape or form, you were damned. Pagans, practitioners of Magick and roleplaying gamers (ha ha) were all thrown into the pit. Those who used religion for their own ends were also damned, like televangelists, faith healers and mediums.

Oddly, many things that were thought to be sins before the Revelation turned out not to be. Drug use was not a sin, but drug abuse was. Adultery, bestiality, and rape (including sexual contact with someone under 13) were the ONLY sexual sins. Murder, bullying, and torture were sins, but other acts of violence were not. A frighteningly high percentage of soldiers were admitted into Heaven.

Almost everyone who lived an extreme lifestyle (policemen, soldiers, politicians, rock stars, violent criminals, drug addicts, etc.) have gone to either Heaven or Hell. There are a lot of accountants and plumbers left over, though.

THEOLOGY OF THE END

It is important that, before playing The End, you understand the theological implications (and revisions) inherent in this game. (Due to the fact that religion is such a sensitive issue for many people out there, this is also where we explain what has been fictionalized for the purposes of The End).

The first and most important thing to come to grips with is that there is a fundamental misinterpretation in the New Testament. 'The Meek shall inherit the Earth" (Matthew 5:5) was not meant to comfort those who were downtrodden. It was a warning and a threat from Christ to those who were ambivalent in their religious convictions. This was quite clear in early manuscripts, but in the Middle Ages a great deal of the Bible was edited, revised, or outright changed to suit the needs of less than virtuous agents of the Church. The warning, thus muted, gave the peasantry a means to reassure themselves that enduring the curses of the world quietly would earn them power on earth when the time of judgment came.

Now, the characters have seen the truth. The warning that Christ gave to the world was ruined in editing, along with any hope the Meek had of being redeemed.
The second fundamental premise inherent in The End is that once the Revelation ended, God locked the gates of Heaven and Hell for one final time and abandoned humanity to itself. The Meek actually do inherit the earth in a bizarre form of poetic justice. The people who do not want to believe in God or the Devil are now no longer troubled by the fact that they are unsure of Their existence. The newly abandoned person knows that God and the Devil no longer take an active interest in this world. God isn't dead, He's just out to lunch.

This does raise a few points and issues. The first dilemma that the Meek face is the lack of an afterlife. Now that the characters are not going to Heaven or Hell, does anything they do on earth matter? The answer to this is yes and no. Metaphysically, there is no reward or punishment for your deeds anymore, therefore there is no such thing as a sin. A person can rape, murder, torture, and torment, and they won't be punished any more than a person who lives a virtuous life after the Revelation will be rewarded. This does not mean that the villain will get away with it, however. The laws of the earthly colonies will often issue death sentences for such heinous acts, and without any hope of an afterlife, many of these opportunistic sinners should think twice. Since God will not punish these people anymore, man has had to learn to watch out for himself.

The second thing that The End's peculiar theory has to address is the gifts of God. Humanity had received numerous gifts in addition to possible eternal bliss. Lordship over the beasts, creation of new life and reason are just a few of these gifts. God did take some of these gifts back. The animals no longer instinctively fear and respect humans, and will happily make a meal out of one if given the chance. A rat no longer needs to be cornered to bite a person, etc. Some gifts He did not take back, like our power to create a new life, our reason and our free will. Perhaps God had mercy on the Forsaken after all.

The third item is not one that a character needs to reconcile, but one that a player needs to understand. The most basic and fundamental assumption in this game is that Christianity is correct, with all that implies. Our version of God was fair and generous during the Revelation, rewarding anyone who followed a single, benevolent God in his heart and in his life. Likewise, this God struck down unmercifully those who had truck with the forces of darkness, magick and the banished pagan gods. As generous as God was with the good people, he showed no mercy to those who followed his opposite number.

We hope that this assumption does not offend any non-Christian garners out there. We did not base our game on Christian theology so that we could preach the Christian lifestyle. It just happens that the
Christian apocalypse stories are some of the most vivid and compelling of all apocalypse stories, as well as being one that most people raised in America has some contact or experience with. Shiva's dance that destroys creation may be a more popular story in India, but we're based in North America. When in Rome...

We also hope that our treatment of the Christian apocalypse stories doesn't offend any Christians out there. We did take a few liberties in interpreting the Bible in order to make this game more interesting and playable. This is a work of fiction, not a theological treatise. Take it as such.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



TheGreatEvilKing posted:

Pathfinder 2: We're gonna need more booze:

Chapter 9 addendum: Exploration mode in more detail

This managed to exceed my lowest expectations. Can't wait for the audience participation segment.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I am really annoyed by the idea that The End seems to have that the only moral systems that matter are predicated on rewards and punishments.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It's because it's fundamentally a very simplistic and facile understanding of religious ethics and soteriology that exists to get an edgy roleplaying game apocalyptic premise.

There are so many different ways to interpret what being 'saved' even means. What Apocalypse even means. Eschatology is an entire field of study/thought! And the idea that because there's nothing after life your actions potentially have less meaning is just absurd; you've just had it shown to you, directly, that the only thing that will ever matter anymore to the people who exist is the physical world. Moreover, God has now taken Himself out of the picture completely; you now know, as one of the Meek, that there is no God and He is never going to touch the planet again.

It is weirdly fitting to Revelation specifically that the 'lukewarm' should be set up for a specific punishment of sorts, but I doubt the author understood that at all (John loving hates the 'lukewarm' because he is against any compromise or reconciliation to more easily live within a Roman context). But the entire morality of this setting is in that weird mode where a nerd writes something so simple that it ends up morally monstrous because they don't think deeply about it.

See: Most of D&D Alignment.

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Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Christianity can easily be Morally Monstrous.

edit: and a lot of the game's take offends me. That's why I've been putting these direct quotes in this review.

Humbug Scoolbus fucked around with this message at 14:10 on Oct 25, 2018

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