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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ronwayne posted:

Is there a term in economics for what a bad idea it is to have whatever your currency is also be an important ingredient/good in your economy as well? I know I'm trying to ascribe anything like sanity to the skaven, but imagining a manratten project where you also had to pay for everything in uranium as well is uh.

They did exactly this.

The undetonated nuke is still under Middenheim.

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Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Yeah, so it's funny that their special snowflake new spells are so much better than the actual overpowered Skaven spells from tabletop. Warp Lightning is just straight the best magic missile (with the downside that yes it can hit you as well) and Plague doesn't do some pitiful bullshit where you get a poo poo debuff, it just kills things. Vast, vast numbers of things if you high-roll.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feinne posted:

Yeah, so it's funny that their special snowflake new spells are so much better than the actual overpowered Skaven spells from tabletop. Warp Lightning is just straight the best magic missile (with the downside that yes it can hit you as well) and Plague doesn't do some pitiful bullshit where you get a poo poo debuff, it just kills things. Vast, vast numbers of things if you high-roll.

Plague will actually kill vast numbers of things; it'll just do it in a week or two. Which is hardly useful for in-game combat magic. Still, 14 day infection where you test Tough or lose 5% Tough every day, dying if it hits 0? Plague is basically Summon Smallpox. The general problem with disease spells is the same as with poison: They kill slowly (sure, that poison is save or die, but it has a 5 round onset time, during which you might just kill the foe by Wounds, etc) and are most valuable as something that lingers on after an encounter and fucks over PCs, compared to being used by PCs.

What does Warp Lightning actually do on TT as opposed to just being a slightly shittier Lightning Bolt here?

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


On TT, Warp Lightning inflicted d6 Strength 5 magic missile hits at a 24 inch range. A 1 on that d6 would inflict that single hit on the caster. The spell could be upgraded to inflict 2d6 hits, too.

With good rolling this would obliterate entire units of line infantry as well as the usual magic missile jobs of blasting small and delicate units like light cavalry, skirmishes, and lone characters.

Edit: for comparison, most magic missiles just do a single d6 of strength 4 hits. Useful, but canít gut entire blocks of infantry or endanger heavy cavalry like warp lightning can.

punishedkissinger
Sep 20, 2017



Ronwayne posted:

Is there a term in economics for what a bad idea it is to have whatever your currency is also be an important ingredient/good in your economy as well? I know I'm trying to ascribe anything like sanity to the skaven, but imagining a manratten project where you also had to pay for everything in uranium as well is uh.

It's like the absolute worst possible barter system you could design.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


kommy5 posted:

On TT, Warp Lightning inflicted d6 Strength 5 magic missile hits at a 24 inch range. A 1 on that d6 would inflict that single hit on the caster. The spell could be upgraded to inflict 2d6 hits, too.

With good rolling this would obliterate entire units of line infantry as well as the usual magic missile jobs of blasting small and delicate units like light cavalry, skirmishes, and lone characters.

Edit: for comparison, most magic missiles just do a single d6 of strength 4 hits. Useful, but canít gut entire blocks of infantry or endanger heavy cavalry like warp lightning can.

That explains the original descriptions in the book's fluff of Warlock Engineers annihilating whole columns of troops at a time with lightning.

I'm a little glad they toned it down since Skaven magic is insane enough as is, but perhaps they did so a bit too much. If they were going to do so I might have suggested dropping the self-shock chance.

E: Also, by contrast, Stealth gets an amazingly lovely 'capstone' Magic Missile: Warp Stars. You summon ghostly Ninja Stars and throw them, equal to your Mag, for a Half Action and CN 26. They are each a Damage 2 Magic Missile. Every one that causes damage does, at least, do 5 Wounds extra if it does at least 1 Wound if the target fails Tough-20 (poison). Still, Damage 2-3 attacks have a good chance of bouncing off the kind of thing you whip out CN 26 spells for.

Thinking about it, that actually makes Warp Stars pretty great against big monsters with fairly low DR and a lot of HP, at least.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 15:50 on Dec 15, 2018

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Ronwayne posted:

Is there a term in economics for what a bad idea it is to have whatever your currency is also be an important ingredient/good in your economy as well? I know I'm trying to ascribe anything like sanity to the skaven, but imagining a manratten project where you also had to pay for everything in uranium as well is uh.

I dunno, but it shows up all the time in both fiction and amateur economics. See also Dragonlance, where steel is so rare that they're not on the gold standard, they're on the steel standard. Yes, you can make a pretty good living melting down swords into coin in this monster-infested land.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Night10194 posted:

Plague will actually kill vast numbers of things; it'll just do it in a week or two. Which is hardly useful for in-game combat magic. Still, 14 day infection where you test Tough or lose 5% Tough every day, dying if it hits 0? Plague is basically Summon Smallpox. The general problem with disease spells is the same as with poison: They kill slowly (sure, that poison is save or die, but it has a 5 round onset time, during which you might just kill the foe by Wounds, etc) and are most valuable as something that lingers on after an encounter and fucks over PCs, compared to being used by PCs.

What does Warp Lightning actually do on TT as opposed to just being a slightly shittier Lightning Bolt here?

Oh yeah, it's not BAD in this, but the tabletop version is I think each model in the unit you target takes a toughness test or takes a wound, THEN you roll to spread to the next unit in the army, then again, until it either peters out or every single unit in their army has to pass T or take a wound.

I need to track down my Warhammer Armies: Skaven to confirm exactly what it does but you can potentially straight gut a whole army in an instant with it.

It also goes without saying it can hit your units too.

Like anything it changes exactly how it works each edition of course. Who knows what it does right now.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 16:13 on Dec 15, 2018

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

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


It's basically a particularly extreme form of commodity money, which is not a terribly uncommon thing in the real world, although stuff like Warpstone is probably too rare to make an effective currency base.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Sometimes I think Warpstone only seems rare to surfaceworlders because the rats get-get all of it first.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

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


Night10194 posted:

Sometimes I think Warpstone only seems rare to surfaceworlders because the rats get-get all of it first.

So they're not just Nazis, they're also De Beers? I can dig it.

8one6
May 20, 2012

When in doubt, err on the side of Awesome!



Night10194 posted:

Sometimes I think Warpstone only seems rare to surfaceworlders because the rats get-get all of it first.

So their doing the surface a service since warpstone mutates the gently caress out of everything.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





The only time I can recall there was a big to-do with warpstone on the surface was Mordheim and there it fell in a meteorite, I think.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Dawgstar posted:

The only time I can recall there was a big to-do with warpstone on the surface was Mordheim and there it fell in a meteorite, I think.

And when the Skaven blew up the moon during the End Times.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Yeah, even Chaos worshippers can't get a lot of easy use out of Warpstone without horrific side-effects, iirc. Skaven are strongly resistant to its effects and thus capable of finding all manner of creative ways to use it. Most places with a lot of Warpstone are places remotely sensible people and wildlife gtfo out of ASAP, I figure.


Ratoslov posted:

I dunno, but it shows up all the time in both fiction and amateur economics. See also Dragonlance, where steel is so rare that they're not on the gold standard, they're on the steel standard. Yes, you can make a pretty good living melting down swords into coin in this monster-infested land.

Transformers often has Energon be the Cybertronians' currency, fuel, food, ammunition and literal lifeblood. I suppose the closest equivalent for humans would be water, like on Arrakis in Dune.

A commodity currency makes some sense if it's something so ridiculously useful that pretty much everyone who trades in it also has some practical use for it. You see examples in the real-world in black markets and developing countries, cigarettes tend to be the most common. Which makes sense, given they have a lot of people who want them, are easily stored and transported, one cigarette is much like another, and you can make a deal for one or one thousand of them. In some African regions cell phone minutes are used as a medium of exchange. (Battletech's C-Bills come to mind)

On thought, it actually makes a lot of sense given Skaven society is so dysfunctional and full of distrust that one thing they must by necessity agree and trust each other on, the medium of exchange, is something they all know has inherent value and use while also being convenient.

Ghost Leviathan fucked around with this message at 17:11 on Dec 15, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

Be The Rat

So, this is the big selling point of this book: Playing as rat nazis in a ridiculous Paranoia-esque campaign. Normally, RPGs are pretty cooperative as a medium. Playing in RPGs that feature player vs. player conflict can get difficult, and the book acknowledges they can strain friendship. It tells players to keep a lid on the worst PVP stuff and stick to things like stealing credit from one another or trying to ensure you and you alone get the biggest reward, rather than outright killing one another. Grab for glory and stuff, and when things go wrong, if one of you is falling behind and in deep trouble, the rest of you should feel comfortable running like hell and being pleased that Stevsnik is making the minotaur stop to eat him so you can all get away. That kind of thing. Only go back for a comrade if he's got the loot. And above all, talk to your table about the level of backstabbing they think will be fun rather than annoying or frustrating.

I'm always glad when something that's going to feature heavy player competition or backstabbing starts off with 'For God's sake, all talk to one another and make sure to agree on a line you find fun rather than just going all out'.

Next we get the best section in the book: How to Play Skaven. Keeping with the theme that the fluff is good and the mechanics are not, this is a really good, concise set of behavioral guidelines and Skaven tropes. As an added aside, one of the things I appreciate about Skaven is how many actual rat behaviors they implement. Little things like being intensely curious but always wanting to have a safe place to retreat to, or being very social but liking to have a social pecking order, or even just the fact that they brux and boggle for similar reasons to actual rats? All nice details.

Step 1: Squeak. The linguistic tics of Skaven are very important, and kind of tricky to do. The advice here is to try to talk like your mouth can't keep up with your brain. Short, sharp sentences, like you're going back and correcting yourself mid stream of thoughts. Use the comma sparingly, use not the noble semicolon; these are inventions of the man-thing. Try to keep things to the essential parts of your message unless you're flattering a superior, in which case get poetic and throw in backhanded compliments. The general character of Skaven speech is more important than remembering to repeat words all the time. The pattern of rat-prattle really helps bring them across and helps with getting in character.

Step 2: Cower. You are not a noble and mighty warrior. You are not even someone pretending to be a noble and mighty warrior. Your society thinks noble and mighty warriors are loving weird. Skaven will reconsider their odds at the first sign of trouble, and they're always looking for trouble. Always be considering your odds in every situation. Act nervous. You're not so much paralyzed by fear as it's constantly part of your behavioral calculus. If your best odds lay in doing something crazy, do it; a cornered rat can be astonishingly brave. But if you've got a chance to back out of something really dangerous without getting in trouble, consider carefully what's in it for you before you go ahead; you don't owe anyone anything, and you definitely don't owe them your life. You're important, after all.

Step 3: Sniff. As a corollary to the above, always keep your nose to the ground. Someone is always trying to get one over on you and you don't know what's around the corner; rushing in before you know what's what will only get you killed. Sniff around, be curious. Assume there are ulterior motives to everything, because there almost certainly are. Once again, always keep in mind 'what's in it for me' and 'what's in it for him' before you do anything. If the answer is 'not much', consider how you can get out of it.

Step 4: Spit. Skaven are spiteful little bastards. Every Skaven knows he's the most important ratman ever, and everything would be great if only all the other ratmen would stop loving it up for him. The Skaven are the master race, and you, personally, are the most important and best of the greatest race that exists in all of the world. You SHOULD be back home, being fed luxuries by servants as your 'peers' scrabble around and fawn over your greatness. You SHOULD be in charge, and Chieftan, or maybe even Warlord, or on the Council. Everyone else is holding you back. The other rats are all sabotaging you because they're jealous. The surface-worlders are a tide of vermin who exist only to make things harder for the Master Race and need to be taught their place, which you'd do, except all those goddamn other Skaven keep messing up because they're idiots, not like you! It's never 'good enough' for a rat and they're all temporarily embarrassed uberratten.

Step 5: Whine. In keeping with the above, Skaven whine. A lot. Keep it from getting annoying, but when things aren't going great for you you should sometimes just sit down and have a good complain. If your squad routs, it's the fault of the Clawleader's poor leadership, not because you ran away. If your team gets lost, it's the jerk who sold you a bad map. If it's too hot, or too cold, or it's raining and you're stuck on the surface and wet and miserable, it's some drat Grey Seer trying to crush your spirit with dark magic because he knows how great you'd be if you were just comfortable enough to think, damnit. Nothing is ever your fault. It's always a plot. Always a scheme.

Step 6: Scrape. Of course, you'd never say that to your boss! You've got to know when someone is powerful and you've got no choice but to fawn and compliment and do everything you can to please them. You live in a totalitarian society full of powerful oligarchs who will happily make an example of you. Skaven generally don't question the system, because they're afraid that if they did that, they'd never get their turn on the top of the pile. Every rat who is fawning over their boss is dreaming of making that guy lick their boots some day. That guy, and all their co-workers. They aren't conditioned to want to throw off their oppressive masters, they're conditioned to dream of becoming oppressive masters. Every indignity suffered is another idea for what you'll do to these pricks once you rule everything.

Step 7: Chew. Also following from there, if you're in charge, twist the knife and abuse authority every chance you get. Revel in it. Being Important is the single greatest pleasure in a Skaven's life; it means that to some degree, others are forced to recognize the greatness you know is within you. But be careful; you're still a coward, and you still know they outnumber you and you need them for things. Play underlings against one another for your favor. Use unfairness to keep them divided. And be careful not to push them too far, or else they might actually work together and eat you. They need to fear you, they need to know their place, but they need to also think that accepting it is a better deal than taking the risk of trying to kill you.

Step 8: PREEN. The best step, having played a Skaven. Every Skaven knows they're amazing, as above, and Preening means showing it whenever possible. Show everyone your shiney medal! Tell exaggerated war-stories about your incredible achievements, minimizing the contributions of others and taking credit for everything! Just as every failure is some rear end in a top hat trying to bring you down, every success is solely due to your incredible talent and rugged individualism. Take credit for everything! Show off! Besides, self promotion can make your superiors believe you're important, which means they're less likely to get you killed casually.

Step 9: Mark. Rats piss on everything. Anything a superior hasn't marked with their scent could be yours. Let everyone know what you own. In a more general sense, just be possessive and greedy. You need everything. Even if you don't need it now, you never know when you'll need it later. Grab for loot the same way you grab for glory and don't let anyone tell you it's enough!

Step 10: Devour. You are always, always hungry. Any excuse to eat something edible, take it. You should always keep in mind that every Skaven is inherently food insecure, and that a desire for food drives an astonishing amount of their society.

Step 11: Survive. You don't want to die. You'll surrender to enemies, offer to become a slave, take any indignity, so long as you live. As long as you're alive, you can get revenge. To a Skaven, nothing is worth dying for. After all, if you're dead, what reward could you possibly enjoy? As long as you're alive, no matter how deep a hole you've gotten into, you might be able to dig your way free. If you're dead, that's it, and what do you care about the other jerks who live on past you?

Step 12: Lie. Skaven lie. A lot. Never attack anyone head on or directly. Attacking directly makes it an even fight and puts you at risk. Try to bargain. Make treaty-pledges. Break treaty-pledges. Wonder why no-one makes treaty-pledges with you afterwards. Assume everyone else is lying, too. Assume everyone else thinks like Skaven. Never tell your bosses the whole truth; they don't need to know, and the more you know that they don't, the more power you have for yourself. Then wonder why none of your underlings ever tell you the truth. Never make the connection between these things.

And that's how to be a Skaven conceptually. Next will come all the mechanics as we go over the rules for making lazy, brilliant Chosen, squeaking, scrabbling Common rats, and massive, posing Pillar Rats Mighty Skaven. In which the mechanics get kind of weird and Stormvermin are like rat space marines.

Next Time: Make The Rat

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Night10194 posted:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

Be The Rat


Step 1: Squeak. The linguistic tics of Skaven are very important, and kind of tricky to do. The advice here is to try to talk like your mouth can't keep up with your brain. Short, sharp sentences, like you're going back and correcting yourself mid stream of thoughts.

So, method acting

Ghost Leviathan posted:

(Battletech's C-Bills come to mind)



I had forgotten the central premise of that setting, beyond punch-shoot robots, was that everything is run by Ma Bell.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ronwayne posted:

So, method acting

At the very least, they warn you: Don't try to talk in a high-pitched squeaky voice to talk like a rat. You'll annoy everyone.

E: Another really important bit of this book that I want to get across: It never apologizes for the Under-Empire. There's never any 'oh they're justified in X because-' or any praising of their glory and strength like you get with the 40k Imperium. There's no 'lesser evil'. There isn't even much praise of their science; it's played for explosive comedy. Skaven society as it exists is a fascist mess and there's no pretending it has positive aspects or glorious uniforms or any of that poo poo. The trains don't run on time, and never will, specifically because the trains are being built and run by fascists.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:31 on Dec 15, 2018

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


JcDent posted:

So Hobgoblins are basically Cossacks?

I see them as more like spartans.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Are there a lot of chaos cults among the skaven? It seems like they'd jump at anyone offering them personally extra power, just keep it secret. Well, probably not Khorne. But very definitely Tzeentch (be better at overcomplicated plots) and Slaanesh (make better drugs).

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I don't know if the Chaos Gods are sufficiently rat-supremacist compared to the Great Horned Rat. Also, are rats capable of being non-Seer sorcerers?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Joe Slowboat posted:

I don't know if the Chaos Gods are sufficiently rat-supremacist compared to the Great Horned Rat. Also, are rats capable of being non-Seer sorcerers?

Yes. Sorcerers and Plague Priests come from non-Seer rats, after all. Normal Skaven can and do learn magic, they're just really, really not supposed to. The Seers really prefer to disintegrate anyone else trying to use magic and most Sorcerers keep their ninja magic secret. Plague Priests are protected by the fact that Pestilens is a Great Clan; there's always been open enmity between them and the Seers.

Chaos is mostly kept out by the fact that the Skaven prefer to instead beg the Horned Rat for more power themselves, and see themselves as above Chaos since they think of it as a man-thing religion for idiot no-furs with cold brains. It still happens occasionally, though. They mention Skaven even occasionally try to learn Necromancy and get vaporized for that, too.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

They mention Skaven even occasionally try to learn Necromancy and get vaporized for that, too.

And there is a legit undead Skaven necromancer pirate lord out there with his own crew of zombie skaven.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Night10194 posted:

Yes. Sorcerers and Plague Priests come from non-Seer rats, after all. Normal Skaven can and do learn magic, they're just really, really not supposed to. The Seers really prefer to disintegrate anyone else trying to use magic and most Sorcerers keep their ninja magic secret. Plague Priests are protected by the fact that Pestilens is a Great Clan; there's always been open enmity between them and the Seers.

Chaos is mostly kept out by the fact that the Skaven prefer to instead beg the Horned Rat for more power themselves, and see themselves as above Chaos since they think of it as a man-thing religion for idiot no-furs with cold brains. It still happens occasionally, though. They mention Skaven even occasionally try to learn Necromancy and get vaporized for that, too.

It's legit this sort of thing that is why, even if Pestilens had some leadership who were working for Nurgle, the clan as a whole has basically stolen all that plague poo poo for the Horned Rat. For god poo poo it doesn't matter if a couple of dipshits up top are secretly like 'heh heh heh we work for Nurgle, owned losers' if everyone else believes all this plague poo poo is in fact the Horned Rat's and wouldn't give Nurgle the time of day.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The objection to the Plague Priests knowing magic is more 'we would like to have a monopoly on bullshit powerful magic', as well.

Which is a reasonable sentiment. They have other theological issues like 'they have power that we could have' and 'they are extremely icky even for us', but the core is 'we would like to have all the magic and for no-one else to.'

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


There is also the fact that they are chaos worshipers anyway, as the Horned Rat is a chaos god with his own daemons and everything.

As of Age of Sigmar he has buffed himself up enough that he is now considered on par with the other four.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Ratoslov posted:

I dunno, but it shows up all the time in both fiction and amateur economics. See also Dragonlance, where steel is so rare that they're not on the gold standard, they're on the steel standard. Yes, you can make a pretty good living melting down swords into coin in this monster-infested land.
It seems like in these situations you'd start seeing a lot of weapons with iron bodies and steel edges, like glorious Nippon.

People don't do economics well in a lot of ways. In Dune people act like the Fremen are subsistence farmers. No they aren't: they are fundamentally a culture, dependent utterly on a complex technology! They engage in trade, it is just mostly with spice smugglers.

Nessus fucked around with this message at 23:56 on Dec 15, 2018

KingKalamari
Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack


Time, once again, to delve into darkness: A horrible, savage land ravaged by the horrors of the D20 system. I return you to...



The Wilderlands of High Fantasy | Part V: Not-So Popular Mechanics...

Previously on The Wilderlands of High Fantasy: We learned that whoever adapted this thing to the D20 system had no idea what they were doing! We were introduced to the unplayably bad Sage; the slightly less unplayably bad but still useless Alchemist; the Amazon, who was also under-powered but to the degree that the existing martial classes in 3.x were; and the Witch, who was seemingly designed with even less thought than the other three yet somehow managed to be so overpowered it broke the game right in two.

Today we're going to finish up character options by diving into Prestige classes, skills, homelands, languages and feats! Let's see if these things continue the tradition of careful balance and mechanical consideration the rest of the book has shown a complete disdain for!

Prestige Classes a.k.a. "It's 4:50 on a Friday, just throw some poo poo together!"

We're told that, as has been standard with the rest of the book, all the prestige classes in the PHB and Psionics Handbook are viable in the Wilderlands though NPCs with prestige classes (In keeping with the general "Life is hard and it takes twice as long to level" sentiment) are very rates but the game suggests some minor modifications or bits of lore to better fit them in:

Arcane Archers: These guys are mostly either associated with the Viridian Emperor or are associated with the Elf kingdoms. Any others are probably independent weirdos who are wandering drunk and crazy through the woods with magic arrows.

Sidebar: Elven Superiority
Elves have come up a lot in this setting: It's been pointed out that, even compared to other settings, there are a lot of different Elven subtypes in The Wilderlands and they're generally treated as being really rad. I think this is probably a remnant of the era in which this setting was originally published: Back in the days of OD&D your only consistent option if you wanted to play a nonhuman were the standard Tolkien races: Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits (Later renamed "Halflings" after threats of litigation from the Tolkien estate) and Elves were far and away the most powerful option...

Elves were the original Gish class of D&D (OD*D had a very fuzzy distinction between "Race" and "class" that would eventually split into the more concrete "Race and Class" of AD&D or "Race as Class" of Basic) and were specifically supposed to choose whether they wanted to play as a Wizard or Fighting Man before each individual adventure. This, on top of the fact that they lived a super long time, got a bunch of generic bonuses and were generally rad is probably the major reason Elves are so highly represented and powerful in this setting.

It's an interesting note that hearsay has that Gygax included the Tolkienesque races as options only on demand from his players: Gygax was much more a Sword and Sorcery guy as opposed to a Tolkien guy and originally intended players to mostly just be humans ala Conan and his imitators. Non-human races had a bunch of weird limitations to how high a level they could reach, supposedly as a "balancing" mechanic because Gygax had a weird mental block when it came to nerfing things (See also: AD&D's method to handling poison).


Arcane Trickster: A bunch of these guys work as spies for the Invincible Overlord (For all the good that's done him thus far...)

Archmages: After giving us an unnecessary repeat of the general idea of this class as seen in the DMG (Why doesn't the book do this for other prestige classes?) we're told that being a generalist magic user in this setting is fairly rare: Most of the big name wizards down in Tula (aka "Magictown USA") are specialists (Or "Chromatic Wizards") and the mages of Valon are mostly about water and ice magic. This means Archmages tend to be random, magical hobos who wander the land so they can learn magic poo poo. It's also said that wizards from Karak aspire to be Archmages, but doesn't specify if that means there is actually a contingent of these guys in Karak or if Karak Wizards actively hate their homeland and want to lead the hobo life.

Assassin: Common among the secret police forces of the various major city states. We're told multiclassed Rogue/Achemists often pursue this prestige class (Which, from what we've seen of the Alchemist in the previous installment and what we know of the Rogue's general effectiveness in 3.x means most Assassins in this setting suck really bad). Apparently the original Orichalans of the Dragon Empire had the best assassins ever before everyone hated them into extinction.

Sidebar: Orichalans?
So, the Orichalans have come up a bunch thus far in the book but there's a lot that has yet to be explained: I believe I may have skipped over this a bit in the History section given how long and boring it was, but The Orichalans were believed to be the rulers of the Dragon Empire of yor who have been hunted to near-extinction by the other civilizations for reasons we've never really been given. All we really know about them beyond that is that they were purple and their descendants are really self hating. Hopefully we gets something resembling an explanation of these guys and why everyone hates them...


Blackguards: With all the evil deities of the Wilderlands setting and the general corruption of authority there are Blackguards aplenty. Particularly notorious is "Lokaug Vishnak" and his band of assholes who apparently wander the area Southeast of the City State.

Dragon Disciple: These guys mostly hang out in the Valley of the Ancients where ruins of the Dragon Empire are most common (And all the weird 70s sci-fi stuff is most prevalent). While not a requirement to take the class, many are descended from Orichalans.

Duelist: You're most likely to find these guys in cities or on pirate ships (Which the book seems to regard as surprising, apparently having never seen an Errol Flynn movie). There's a rumour that the Azurerain Pirates are all Duelists and Warwick is teeming with them (A line presented in a way that seems to present the old Grognard idea of "Game mechanics as how the setting actually works on a metaphysical level").

Dwarven Defender: Apparently one of the most common prestige classes and the one all the high level Dwarves gravitate towards because Dwarves are a generic, gestalt mass in every single fantasy setting ever.

Eldritch Knight: Common to Valon and the Elves (surprise, surprise)

Hierophant: Common among the upper clergy of the church of the god Mycr. This is again presented in a way that makes it sound like Prestige Classes are a literal, objective thing people can be in the setting rather than a loose thing for mechanical purposes.

Horizon Walker: This one actually presents a new mechanical restriction rather than just telling us where these guys congregate! Before you can become a Horizon Walker you need to gain familiarity with one of the planes (Does the material plane count? The book refers us to the "Gaining Familiarity section later in the chapter, so we'll see but I like how useless the restriction is if the plane in which the setting takes place counted for the requirement). Most common amongst Rangers and Sages, which means very few people probably take this prestige class as I don't think your average Sage is going to make it to a high enough level...

Loremaster: You'd expect this to be a Sage thing, but we're explicitly told that most Sages never meet the magical requirements (Translation: Sages are terrible at everything and will never reach prestige class level).

Mystic Theurge: Not too much interesting information here, just a list of deities (Hecate, Thoth, Mythra and some Druidic gods) whose disciples would be drawn to this prestige class.

Red Wizard (aka Chromatic Wizards): Hey, it's those guys that got mentioned in the Archmage section! Hailing mostly from Tula, they're called Chromatic Wizards in The Wilderlands because the robes they wear are the color of the school of magic to which they belong. The requirements for this class are changed a little bit: You can be any race or alignment but when the book says they hail from Tula, they mean that as a universal constant. Taking this class requires the character to travel to Tula for training. The associated "Tattoo Focus" feat is also regionally restricted to Tula.

Shadowdancer: We're told that this is the ultimate "rogue acrobat" prsestige class, with the writer apparently forgetting that the class was called "Thief-Acrobat", which was a 2nd edition class kit whose only appearance in 3.x was as a prestige class that would have been mutually exclusive to this class. Unless maybe they meant "rogue acrobat" in the sense of an acrobat that's broken off from the circus and gone Rogue? They're often spies, particularly for the city of Tarantis.

Thaumaturgist: Popular with Witches (Who are apparently not satisfied with the godlike powers and versatility their class already gives them and want to throw some summoning action on top of it) and...Mystic Theurges? I feel the writer doesn't understand what a prestige class is considering the Mystic Theurge is already a prestige class, and one that requires you to already be multiclassing as both an arcane and divine spellcaster. So basically it's saying there are enough people running around this setting who are doing a terrible four-way multiclassing experiment that it was worth pointing out.

Psionic Prestige Classes: The game tells us that, like Psionics in general, these are entirely optional based on the DM's preferences and, even in games where Psionics are allowed, are exceptionally rare. They're also mostly the domain of Female Altanians and...Amazons? Hang on a second there, Wilderlands: Back in the section for Racial options the listing for Amazons specifically said, and I quote:

quote:

"Favored Class: Amazon warrior or druid. Despite their innate psionic abilities, Amazons are rarely psions or psychic warriors."

And yet now you're telling me most of the high level Psionic characters are Amazons? Keep your damned setting straight! I even went so far as to check what Psionic prestige classes the Amazon as a class would qualify for just to make sure and they would only just barely be able to qualify the Elocater at 8th level (All of the Psionic Prestige classes require a character to either be able to manifest psionic powers of a certain level or have a minimum number of Power Points in reserve. As all of the Psionic abilities Amazons get as part of their class aren't given a level for the power except for "Combat Prescience", which is a level 1 power, and none of the Amazon's abilities work off of Power Points this is the only psionic prestige class they are capable of meeting the requirements for).

Character Region and Homeland a.k.a. "poo poo! We need to pad this out a little more!"

We are then given a half-page section that takes entirely too long to tell you what essentially amounts to "Pick one of the 18 segments of the game map as your Homeland. This gives you extra skills as detailed in the next section".

Skills a.k.a. "I have +8 ranks in Minutae (Mindless)!"

The bulk of this section is some incredibly minor tweaks to use-cases for skills but we are also presented the new skills of Craft (Poisonmaking) and Sail, which are presented right at the start:

Craft (Poisonmaking) is the primary skill upon which the Alchemist class is based and can only be attempted if you have ranks in the skill. We're told that poisons are quick to make but expensive, tricky to produce and potentially hazardous to the crafter, because the Alchemist didn't suck hard enough already. Making a poison is keyed off your Int stat and works as follows:

The cost of materials for the poison is 1/4 its listed price is in the DMG for normal poisons or 3/4s its listed price in the DMG for poisons with magical ingredients (Because apparently run-of-the-mill Alchemists gouged the gently caress out of their consumer base).

If you want to save on the materials you can harvest then yourself, but this requires you to actually find a source from which to harvest them and then make a separate Craft (Poisonmaking) check at DC 13 (With +5 for "magical creatures or plants" and +10 for "outsiders or unique sources") to successfully do so (There's also a bunch of fiddly little bonuses from related skills that can boost your bonus to the check). This nabs you one dose (With more fiddly little bonuses to the amount extracted based on margin of success), however to actually identify an extracted ingredient or determine if it's still usable it requires another DC 15 Craft (Poisonmaking) check for some reason? How did I extract something without knowing what it was, anyway?

Even if you do extract the ingredients you still have to pay 1/5 the poison's original cost as part of the brewing process for some reason.

The DC of the poisonmaking check is calculated as 10+(Half the save DC of the poison the Alchemist is trying to make, rounded down), with a bunch of extra situational modifiers: Wanna make a double batch? +5 to the DC! Wanna do it quicker than normal? +5 to the DC! Is one of the ingredients from an outsider or other unique source? +10(!!!) to the DC!

Hey, remember when they said this skill could be done quickly? They lied! You have to make a check every day you're crafting a poison (Which means it can't be done in the field), if your roll for the day is successful you multiply your resulting roll by the DC which translates into the number of silver pieces earned towards brewing the poison. When your number of silver pieces earned equals the base value of the poison you've finished crafting a does of it! Nothing could be simpler!

Finally, if you fail the roll bad things happen: If you failed by 4 or less you just make no progress that day. If you fail by 5 or more you will need to pay for half of the raw materials again AND you get affected by the poison as though a completed dose had been applied to you! That'll teach you to play a goddamned Alchemist! The book also specifically notes that protective gear like gloves, a mask or magic will do nothing to prevent accidentally dosing yourself in this manner, though magic can improve your ability to make the save DC to resist the poison.

We are then given a needlessly long section on all the possible Knowledge subtype skills you'll run into, what they cover, and how they work. We're also given a list of DCs for specific uses of the skills and potential skill "synergies" that remind me of using related skills in Eclipse Phase 1e but written by an idiot who only ever played 3rd Edition D&D. There's also this general sidebar that begins the section and relates to all the knowledge skills and looks terrible:



The only major bit of note in the knowledge skill system is the description for Knowledge (Physical Universe) skill, which I called out as being weirdly broad-sounding in its first appearance. Turns out it's just as needlessly specific as all of 3.x's skills and is specifically about math and astronomy and poo poo, which raises the questions of "Why isn't it just called Knowledge (Math and Astronomy and poo poo)?| And "When is anyone ever going to roll that in this game?"

Next up we move onto Read Language. A big thing about this setting that's come up once or twice is that characters are not assumed to be literate by default. As a result, you can only use the Read Language skill if you're trained in it. You can only take ranks in this skill if you take the "Educated" or "literate" feats and even then if you don't take the "educated" feat specifically (or play a Sage) 1 rank in this skill costs 2 skill points (4 if you want to read an ancient or dead language!). Every rank you get in this skill allows you to read and write one language you speak.

Next we get to the new Sail skill: It keys off dexterity, allows you to pilot boats and other watercraft and can only be used if trained in it. If you're trained in this skill you don't need to make a check to board or disembark from a vessel (For gently caress's sake, why would that even require a check from anyone in the first place? What is going to happen if you fail that check in any but the most dire circumstances besides "Your character falls in the water and looks silly"?), everything else involving boats requires a check. This is worded in such a way that you can expect rear end in a top hat DMs to make you roll for even the most mundane of boat-related activities.

The section for calculation DCs is as follows:

Calm water = 10 DC
Rough water = 15 DC
Stormy water = 20 DC
Difficult maneuver = +5 DC
Unfamiliar region = +5 DC
Open water = +5 DC
Night = +5 DC
In combat = +5 DC
Untrained crew = +5 DC
Veteran crew = -5 DC

With some explanations to what the above conditions entail. Failure usually just results in no progress being made (Raising the question of why bother rolling for it in the first place) but in stormy weather or during diffcult maneuvers you need to make a second Sail check against a DC equal to the margin of failure to avoid capsizing. The lesson of this section: Never get on a boat.

We finally end on a section for the Speak Language skill that is about what you'd expect and not worth discussing in depth.

Feats a.k.a. "Feats Fetish"

This section lasts roughly a page and a half and was apparently written by someone who doesn't understand how feats work.

A few of them are obviously terrible, fluff-based things with few to no in-game benefits: "Amazon Blood" lets characters who didn't choose Amazon as their race take levels in the Amazon class, "Arcane Training" can only be taken by characters from the Silver Skein Isles and makes Arcane Casters a favored class for you if it wasn't already, "World Travel" lets you choose one additional region as being "familiar" to you; it can be taken multiple times but only at character creation.

The majority of these just give boring and highly situational bonuses to rolls: "Streetwise" gives you a +2 to Bluff and Gather Information if you're dealing with or pretending to be a criminal, "Forest Affinity" gives a +2 to Heal and Survival checks in a forest, and "Aristocratic Knowledge [Regional]" gives you a +2 to Diplomacy and Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) checks in urban areas with a population over 2,000 (Presumably in the selected region, but the book doesn't specify), as well as a +2 to Bluff checks when pretending to be a member of a higher social class and a +1 boost to your Social Standing!

The rest are mostly things that are mildly useful, but not in a way that stands out from the feats in vanilla 3.x: Feats giving you additional cantrips or situational boosts to saves.

The only feats I'd call out as actually being decently thought out are the "Educated" and "Literate" feats. These ones are pretty mechanically sucky (Literate just lets you read and write languages you speak while Educated gives you literacy in one language and makes all knowledge skills class skills) but at least work towards one of the setting's themes: Formal education and literacy are rare and exceptional things in The Wilderlands.

Languages a.k.a. "Are we done yet?"

We finally finish this chapter off with the "Languages" section, which I will not devote a separate section in this post to as it is super boring. The only things of note are that characters are not universally assumed to speak common, and the Bonus languages you can select are determined by the region you selected as your character's homeland.

And with that we are FINALLY finished with all the 3e crunch stuff! There's a certain degree of terrible mechanics I expected from this given the era in which this book was published, but this went above and beyond. The early 2000s was somewhat of a transition period in RPG design in which designers were just starting to give consideration to the ins and outs of game mechanics and how they enforced the type of story they wanted their game to tell but it was also an era in which the OGL meant that a lot of developers were drawn to the D20 system for their games regardless of whether or not it was a good fit. This thing somehow manages to go above and beyond the usual foibles of a third-party D20 product in that the system itself should work with the setting but the people who designed it had absolutely no idea how D20 was actually supposed to work.

Thankfully that's behind us for now. Next time: We move onto the setting stuff, which hopefully contains the weird 70s poo poo I've heard about from other people familiar with this setting!

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


KingKalamari posted:

because Gygax had a weird mental block when it came to nerfing things (See also: AD&D's method to handling poison)

I've only got a passing familiarity with Second Edition; how did it handle poisons?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Shoot that ill-considered Wilderlands madness directly into my veins.

God I haven't seen Dragon Disciples mentioned in like 10 years. I forgot almost all the generic 3.0 Prestige Classes even existed.

KingKalamari
Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack


Snorb posted:

I've only got a passing familiarity with Second Edition; how did it handle poisons?

Basically in the original AD&D Player's Handbook there's an extended section in which Gygax goes on a long tirade where he implores the prospective player to never use poisoned weapons under the justification that it would trivialize combat using the example that players could almost instantly fell a Red Dragon with poisoned weapons. To enforce this aversion Gygax goes so far as to declare all right-thinking NPCs despise the use of poison and will run off to get the city guard to arrest you should you try to use poison in their presence.

This all, of course, ignores the very obvious fact that Gygax is the guy designing the game and if he wanted to avoid poison ruining game balance he could have just changed how it works mechanically instead of making every setting filled with poison-averse zealots.

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!


Snorb posted:

I've only got a passing familiarity with Second Edition; how did it handle poisons?

Okay, so, basically... poisons were horribly lethal. Every single poison, if it got into your system, had a failed-save and a successful-save result... a few of the weakest poisons would do nothing on a passed save, but most of them would just deal a flat load of horribly murderous damage. Like we're talking enough to drop mid-level characters unless they maxed most of their HP rolls or had a high Con, and that's forgetting the ones that just had "death" as the result of a failed save.



Paralytic is 2d6 hours of being unable to move, and Debilitating is 1d3 days of having all your stat scores halved, which more or less guarantees losing any bonuses from them and being dropped into penalties across the board.

I don't have an overview of which monsters can hand out these prizes, but holy poo poo, that's still pretty loving bad even if it's rare.

Also even in 2nd ed, these had no prices anywhere in the book, no way of getting your hands on them. I think the only setting that really broke with that was Dark Sun, where one class(Bards, I think) would learn to mix up a random one of these poisons every level. So look forward to when the bard was the one busting out save-or-die attacks against every boss monster.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


PurpleXVI posted:

[Chart of mostly "your lungs fill with blood and you die in agony"]

Good Lord, I think I'll just stick to Fifth Edition's poisoned condition (and some poisons doing damage over time or having other effects while you're poisoned). Old edition poisons are loving brutal! D:

White Coke
May 29, 2015


Skaven are the Imperium if it had Ork tech.

Thuryl
Mar 14, 2007

My postillion has been struck by lightning.


Snorb posted:

Good Lord, I think I'll just stick to Fifth Edition's poisoned condition (and some poisons doing damage over time or having other effects while you're poisoned). Old edition poisons are loving brutal! D:

Basic D&D's poison rules were a bit simpler but not much more forgiving: poisons were save-or-die by default unless otherwise specified, with weaker poisons giving you a bonus to your saving throw. The Rules Cyclopedia had this to say about PCs using poison:

quote:

The use of deadly poison as a weapon is not a good act. Because of its dangers, poison may be declared illegal by local or regional rulers. In this case, Lawful characters do not typically use it. The DM may choose not to allow player characters to use poisons in his campaign. Warn players that, if they want their characters to use blowguns, monsters will have them as well.

...which at least suggests having the DM directly tell the players "hey, please don't use poison" as an alternative to getting passive-aggressive about it.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


I mean it's a legit problem, poisons often really are either deadly or not. Like yeah you get necrotoxic poo poo like a brown recluse bite which is closest to the idea of 'this does HP damage' but most poison is either too weak to do anything to a human, going to leave you feeling really lovely but you recover, or going to leave you feeling really lovely then you die.

Like I don't know how you model poison in a realistic way without it being really powerful.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 04:44 on Dec 16, 2018

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Feinne posted:

I mean it's a legit problem, poisons often really are either deadly or not. Like yeah you get necrotoxic poo poo like a brown recluse bite which is closest to the idea of 'this does HP damage' but most poison is either too weak to do anything to a human, going to leave you feeling really lovely but you recover, or going to leave you feeling really lovely then you die.

Like I don't know how you model poison in a realistic way without it being really powerful.

I think the real answer is to let poison be powerful and then address the fact that humans haven't actually used it that much in warfare. Probably due to a major difficulty in delivering it, it requires huge expertise to safely apply and use, and it's hard to acquire and keep.

Basically, being stabbed with a sword should be a much more sure way of killing someone unless you're a practiced assassin dedicated to poisons. Even cultures that use poisoned arrows don't have a huge advantage over cultures that just... have arrows, especially against other humans.

Or just say 'poison's not realistic in this setting, it's something about heroic willpower' and make it a debuff you apply with a sword or darts.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Feinne posted:

I mean it's a legit problem, poisons often really are either deadly or not. Like yeah you get necrotoxic poo poo like a brown recluse bite which is closest to the idea of 'this does HP damage' but most poison is either too weak to do anything to a human, going to leave you feeling really lovely but you recover, or going to leave you feeling really lovely then you die.

Like I don't know how you model poison in a realistic way without it being really powerful.

Base it around median lethal dose and reference dose?

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


I guess to extend my point, I don't think you can successfully thread the needle of it being realistic AND something that feels viable as an option for players and enemies (so neither too weak nor too powerful).

And yeah part of the answer is that poison use is in practice really rare as anything other than a specific tool of assassination because it doesn't really make an arrow or a sword WAY more deadly and isn't very easy to use at all.

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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




A fighter or barbarian can and should be able to stare down some poor goblin as he slowly pulls one of the 10 arrows they just got shot with out of their chest. Why should poison matter to someone like that?

Poison should only count when it's harvested under a new moon from the black lotus that grows in the shadow of evilhome mountain, and then it should be a plot point.

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