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JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ghost Leviathan posted:

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.

Say no-no to false-lie fiat currency! Buy-get warpstone today!

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8one6
May 20, 2012

When in doubt, err on the side of Awesome!



Nessus posted:

Four words for you buddy:

Ratcoin: backed by rats.

A warpstone powered bitratcoin mining rig works by un-mining the ratcoin in other Skaven's wallets.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Delicious warpstone-infused rigberries. Mmm-mmm.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I'm fairly certain that a ratcoin mining rig is called a slave.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




The Skaven seem like they're maybe not so much creator's pets as they are just really fun to write.

HerraS
Apr 15, 2012

Looking professional when committing genocide is essential. This is mostly achieved by using a beret.

Olive drab colour ensures the genocider will remain hidden from his prey until it's too late for them to do anything.





Skaven are the one faction besides Orcs and Gobbos where you can write just whatever stupid poo poo that makes you chuckle in there without it feeling completely out of place

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Mors Rattus posted:

I'm fairly certain that a ratcoin mining rig is called a slave.

Well, at first you could just use off-the-shelf slaves, but now you can only make a decent squeakcoin from ever-increasingly complex biomechanical contraptions made from slaves and warpstone. Thus, the price of slaves skyrocketed, causing the slavers to be more and more audacious in their raids. Now the Empire is dangerously close to understanding exactly how dangerous Skaven really are; certain military leaders have been having pointed, purely hypothetical conversations with members of the Ratcatchers' guild, usually after a lot of brandy.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




wiegieman posted:

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.
That, or it should just be treated like any other source of extra damage. Like in 4e, it could be an encounter, daily, or utility power. I could see a striker class with poison as its special feature.

What matters is that poison isn't something that anyone can just easily acquire, which creates a bunch of obvious problems. Being the history nerd that he was, I don't know why Gygax didn't just point out that in real life, poison is unreliable-to-useless and difficult to weaponize without modern technology. Maybe the problem arose after his first group killed its first basilisk and wanted to harvest gallons of poison from it.

Speaking of which, any of you ever have issues with your players wanting to keep everything they kill as a trophy? I mean, I've kept smilodon fangs and displacer beast hides, but when they want to collect every giant rat skull they can it gets kind of creepy.

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!


Halloween Jack posted:

Maybe the problem arose after his first group killed its first basilisk and wanted to harvest gallons of poison from it.

Then you just point out that the reason there aren't basilisk farms around milking poison for every Chaotic Evil assassin to be a save-or-die machine, is because the poison rapidly denatures outside of the creature's body. Lasts long enough to murder someone in reach of the basilisk, but not so much at the bottom of some adventurer's backpack.

Halloween Jack posted:

Speaking of which, any of you ever have issues with your players wanting to keep everything they kill as a trophy? I mean, I've kept smilodon fangs and displacer beast hides, but when they want to collect every giant rat skull they can it gets kind of creepy.

It's funny, the 2e DMG actually points out that this is a natural consequence of players making magical items out of legendary creature bits.

Personally I'd just ask them where they're keeping it all and then once they settle on, "well, I guess I'm wandering around with a pile of skulls in my arms/strapped to my back" NPC's start avoiding them or chasing them out of town for smelling like a rotten offal pile. If it's some sort of pathological obsession, though, I'd start keeping pets away from them.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Just have their adventurer house have a big ol' trophy room, like some kind of hunting club.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


In our upcoming Pathfinder game, the druid of the group is a monster hunter, and I just know we're going to have a room full of aberration parts by the end of this.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




PurpleXVI posted:

Then you just point out that the reason there aren't basilisk farms around milking poison for every Chaotic Evil assassin to be a save-or-die machine, is because the poison rapidly denatures outside of the creature's body. Lasts long enough to murder someone in reach of the basilisk, but not so much at the bottom of some adventurer's backpack.
Gary was fond of harsh and overreaching solutions to simple problems; at least, that's what comes through in the actual game. The rust monster, for example.

quote:

It's funny, the 2e DMG actually points out that this is a natural consequence of players making magical items out of legendary creature bits.

Personally I'd just ask them where they're keeping it all and then once they settle on, "well, I guess I'm wandering around with a pile of skulls in my arms/strapped to my back" NPC's start avoiding them or chasing them out of town for smelling like a rotten offal pile. If it's some sort of pathological obsession, though, I'd start keeping pets away from them.
I never read through the 2e DMG, but I recall a similar thing in the back of the 2e Book of Artifacts. It notes that requiring legendary creature bits is a good way to prevent PCs just creating whatever magic items they want, but then they have to give advice on how to avoid your PCs seeing monsters as things to be plucked and pickled.

With my group, I just told them that harvesting and cleaning animal hides and bones is not simply done, and that they'd be walking around with a sack of rotten offal.

Mors Rattus posted:

Just have their adventurer house have a big ol' trophy room, like some kind of hunting club.
Trophy rooms are good for giving the PCs stuff that's an awesome memento but useless and unmarketable, like a crystal statue of the gnoll king and suchlike.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

IMPROVE IMPROVE

Fleshmoulding is a total afterthought. For one, it's less than a page long. For two, it's got our good buddy Steve's fingerprints on it in the 'Surgery Skill' and 'Surgery Checks'; look man, we know Heal-10 is what you require for actually using this Talent at your table, but that's no excuse to forget there's an actual Heal skill that Surgery modifies and that Surgery is a Talent. Fleshmoulding is the pinnacle of Moulder science, where they just kinda lock somebody in a room with some Warpstone and then rub them with unguents and take notes on their little clipboards and nod seriously because this is how they think science works. As long as it's got enough glowing tubes and a clipboard it's real science, right? Not just randomly mutating the hell out of someone to see what happens? I'm not sure if this is intentional but I actually love the little 'trappings of science, but really not doing anything but throwing poo poo at the wall and seeing if it sticks' touch on our rats.

You need to expose your target to Warpstone (and unguents!) for 1 hour per 5% of their Toughness stat. You also decide how much Warpstone you're using to affect the difficulty of their Toughness test against getting mutated. 1 Warpstone per 20% of their Toughness is a Tough+30 test (you'll do this one for most subjects, honestly) up to 5 Warpstone tokens per 10% of their Toughness if you want them to make a Tough-30 test. However, if they succeed the Toughness test against treatment nothing happens. You just waste your Warpstone and their time. If they fail, they get to roll on the IMPROVEMENTS table. If they fail by 10+, they do that, but also roll d5 Mutations. If they fail by 20+, they just get d5 Mutations. If they fail by 30+, they die, waste of time and research subject. So you effectively only have a 20% chance of actually causing any Improvements (10% of 'only' causing Improvements) no matter what you set the difficulty at, since going out of bounds on failure will just kill them anyway. In fact, you're best off giving them an 80 or 90% chance to save vs. Toughness because it's more economical with the Warpstone AND you can't accidentally cook them OR accidentally gently caress up and only mutate them horribly. This whole adjustable toughness difficulty thing was not well thought you. You make a 'Surgery Test' as well to reduce your Warpstone use, by 1 Token per DoS. No difficulty is given for the test. Even the errata, which tells us to use Heal rather than Surgery because Surgery isn't a Skill, Steve, doesn't actually tell us the difficulty to assign. I guess just assume it's +0?

You may think I'm being a bit mean here but the fact that we have this kind of boondoggle is really a wider indication of what's wrong with the mechanics of this book. The people doing the mechanical work just left all kinds of little holes that a GM has to fix, or that absolutely needed Errata (only some of which got it), and that's just shoddy work. An attitude of 'The GM can fix it' or 'spot ruling can fix it' is a bad sign for a game's mechanics, even if it's true; the GM shouldn't have to fix it. Anyway, our Improve-Improve table, assuming you get the 20% chance to actually get on it, is mixed. You've got a 10% chance of getting +2d10 Int, Str, and Tough, plus gaining Fearless, Strike Mighty, Strike to Injure, Natural Weapons, Frightening, and doubling your Wounds. Chances of pulling this off are low, but you do this to a Mighty Skaven and you now have the most powerful character template in the game. Yes, I know this is mostly for making a Tyrant out of a random peasant or trying to make Roger not suck, but c'mon, you put out rules for genetic enhancement some PC is gonna toss another PC in the tubes. You get a 20% chance of +d10 Int, Str, and Tough, +50% Wounds, Strike Mighty, Natural Weapons, Menacing, Strike to Injure. You've got a 20% chance of +3d10 Str and Tough, all that good Fearless and stuff replacing the character's normal talents, and giving them a 0 BS and a Rat Ogre's 'In Need of Direction' rule that means they need to be directed by a fellow partymate. 10% chance to give them +2d10 to a random stat, -2d10 to another. 10% chance to give +d10 Insanity. 10% chance to give d5 Mutations. 10% chance to kill them. 10% chance for 'GM's choice, I dunno, something wild happens'. The table is just completely random and not well thought out.

So yeah, a vestigial little mad science system that either results in the strongest character type in the game or just lolrandom fucks them up, weighted reaaallly heavily towards the latter. It's a good thing Moulder's whole 'physically able pet class' schtick works because actual Moulding sucks. I couldn't fit this in anywhere else, and it's too long to go ahead with Rat Campaign rules after while being much shorter than I'd normally like for an update, so that just adds even more annoyance to the procedure. Fortunately, we're not done with mechanics and can get back to the better parts of the book.

Next Time: Rat Campaign

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Prism posted:

In our upcoming Pathfinder game, the druid of the group is a monster hunter, and I just know we're going to have a room full of aberration parts by the end of this.

3.5E had a prestige class in Stormwrack which has this kind of trophy collection as a legit class mechanic: the Leviathan Hunter. If they've got a trophy from a given type of monster on display somewhere, they get bonuses against that type of creature from thereon and at higher levels can start to share those bonuses with the party. If they're actually wearing a trophy from a monster they've killed, those bonuses improve further.

Leviathan Hunters are encouraged and expected to keep extensive trophy rooms and work as many trophies as they can into their outfits or make them into magic items to use.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Prism posted:

In our upcoming Pathfinder game, the druid of the group is a monster hunter, and I just know we're going to have a room full of aberration parts by the end of this.

The real thrill is killing monsters to eat them.

THE LEGENDARY DRAGON CUISINE!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do5EtrPJ0GY#t=161s

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

I say again, stick together, you idiots!

"Any PC should be willing to fight the Skaven on the principle that they're an irredeemable horde of monsters that seek to dominate and enslave the world." is our first bit on a Skaven campaign. After all, who looks at a bunch of Nazis arrayed against them as their foe and goes 'Naw, don't want to punch that?' The annoying bit is it then goes into the Skaven Conspiracy as an excuse to not reward your players for fighting Skaven and to have the official authorities of the Empire (but only the Empire, remember absolutely everyone else knows Skaven are real) come after them. This is uncreative, even if you're going with 'the Empire doesn't acknowledge Rat Nazis are a problem'. You can always find some eccentric secret society of ratfighters who are willing to pay the PCs; they could be hired by a crazed one-eyed Witch Hunter who 'knows the truth' and needs 'men and women of stout character' to fight the rat, that kind of thing. Even if the Burgomeister thinks those rats are just Beastmen, people pay Adventurers to kill Beastmen all the time, too. You just end up with less warning that the little shits have rifles, and the standard gameplay loop of a lot of WHFRP already has 'Players get hired for standard D&D style quest, BUT ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS' as it is.

Now, as for running a game where you're playing as Skaven, one thing I wish they'd emphasize a bit more is that you're best off sticking to comedy campaigns when you play as the Rat Nazis. I will give them one big thing on playing Skaven over playing 40k Imperials: There's no long sections about how necessary what the Skaven do is. You're a bunch of hosed up people living in a hosed up society. There's a lot more time devoted to 'these guys have machine guns and still manage to lose to muskets, because they're Nazis and that makes their Wunderwaffen unreliable as hell, their officers a bunch of preening, strutting jackasses, and generally makes them make Very Bad Decisions'. We never get an 'apology' for the Skaven Under Empire nor anything about how 'if you really think about it, perhaps they have Some Ideas' like you do with 40k Imperials.

We also get the suggestion that if you're going to do anything longer than a one-shot, you need to start thinking about ways to prevent PVP even as your rats try to contrive to get more medals than one another. Most of the suggestions center around using the inherently social nature of the Skaven and their desire to have someone else get shot instead of them to make them prefer to stick together. If everyone is useful, and if you have a powerful central figure giving them orders that has either been very profitable for them, or that they all hate and need to work together to undermine, you can keep your little team of rats together much more easily. If there are political consequences for murdering each other, you can similarly rely on the ratmen to stick together, because they aren't high rank enough to get away with going 'gently caress you I do what I want' and ignoring their orders. Cultivating an 'our little in-group of PC rats against the world' mentality means you can save the final betrayals and things for the game's climax, after the rats have gone through the plot and made good and it's time to divvy up the rewards of victory.

The other issue for rats is that they're cowards. You can't really run a Skaven campaign without the PCs running off and failing and trying to pass the blame for it off on rivals; it's going to happen occasionally. At the same time, as the main characters, they're going to need to both demonstrate agency and also sometimes take pro-active action in the world. You don't want every hard encounter or dramatic moment to end with them tripping the least popular rat as a distraction and running off into the tunnels, even if it would hardly be a Skaven game without failure. The single biggest way to get rats to take risks is the promise of positive reinforcement, status, and the adulation of their peers. Rats care what other rats think about them. They want this more than money (though they also want to get-get Warpstone because that brings status) or even material comfort. The most overriding desire of almost every rat is being told they are awesome, and having their inner narrative about their personal superiority affirmed by others. Your Skaven PCs can be those so hungry for status they will actually take the initiative on their own, going out and having adventures without even being threatened so that people will ooo and awww and tell them they are the Best Rats.

Skaven fighting Chaos is also a specific and perfectly good campaign seed. Skaven may be born out of Chaos mutation, but they think the 4 Chaos Gods and their followers are, at best, cold-brain no-fur distractions that will weaken the surface world a little by standing in between it and the Skaven when they make their latest dumb headlong charge into the teeth of the forces of Good. Horned Rat is best God, will eat-kill other Gods, Chaos and otherwise. If Chaos actually seems to be winning at the moment, it's time for the rats to step in and show it its place under their boot. Similarly, if Chaos is losing, they might have to get involved and try to drag those idiots over the finish line at whatever task they needed the armored barbarian hordes to accomplish. You might also be sent to go make (and break) treaty-pledges with the dumb no-furs or their furry but stupid Beastman friends sometimes. They'll never notice you never honor those treaty-pledges! They're dumb! You can trick them easily, right? And then everything's on fire and your rats are running like hell from a flying crystal magic elf that is incredibly pissed off at them. Good times!

You'll also spend a lot of time fighting other Skaven in a Skaven game, for obvious reasons. As the Master Race, nothing is more dangerous to you than another Skaven. Other Skaven see the world properly, and even worship the powerful Great Horned Rat, the best God and the only really powerful one. That makes them a threat. Skaven don't want to see other Skaven make it. Another Skaven who sees your PCs rising in status and glory and realizes they're going to die might take a look at your rats and say 'If I going to die-die, we all going to die-die!', because they're respectably spiteful. Even more important than preparing to INHERIT-INHERIT is making sure that Ted from Accounting doesn't get to Inherit-Inherit anything because he's a jerk and you deserve everything he would've gotten. This extends to Great Clan politics, and so the more important you become and the closer you get to the inevitable Great Ascendancy, the more the clans will fall to fighting over who gets to be the top winner, something they'll hire you to help with.

Finally, you do intend to take over the world, so maybe you'll remember to fight Imperials or other normal Surface Worlders occasionally. This bit is actually a footnote in this section and I actually love that.

By the other side of the coin, normal PCs have all kinds of adventures they can have fighting Skaven, which is part of what makes Skaven popular. You can do everything from racing to stop their Doomsday Devices, to trying to stop them blackmailing human politicians and authority figures, to preventing assassinations and kidnappings or rescuing slaves, to exploring the Under Empire to look for fault lines to blow up. There are way more options for plots with Skaven than there are for most of the forces of Evil outside of maybe Vampires, because you never know what the hyper little rats are going to try next. They bring variety, and they have the fault lines and cracks to let a PC adventurer party really mess them up. The rats are funny, but they can also be run as a genuinely awful threat, depending on the ratio of explosions to actual large armies that are threatening the surface world. You can scale the rats up or down; a group of Clanrats is an easy first enemy for rookie PCs, which can clue them in to a larger plot where they encounter scarier and more ridiculous rats as they advance. And because they're so prone to falling to pieces because of one unexpected misfortune, a group of 3-6 determined badasses really can totally ruin the latest plot for the Great Ascendancy.

Finally, to round out the Campaign section, we get some stats for the various monsters that live in the Under Empire's tunnels, and a random encounter table for down there. The monsters aren't very exciting, but the encounter table has the cute detail of having a 'Heroes' result and a 'Skaven PCs result', and one of the nastiest random encounters for the Skaven party is d10 meddling Adventurers.

Next Time: The Pre-Made, and final thoughts on rats

Tibalt
May 14, 2017


I think the "Skaven aren't real" plot would work better if people refused to believe they're really here, right under your feet at Nuln or Middenheim or Altdorf. The Skaven aren't murdering people to keep their existence secret, they're murdering people to keep the sprawling metropolis of Under Altdorf hidden. "There are more rat men than men me in Middenheim!!!" Is the sort of conspiracy theory that people could honestly disbelieve and get the Witch Hunters to start eyeing your rabble rousing group as fearmongers.

That fits into the UFO sort of deal going on, let's you keep the heroic but disrespected Ratcatcher Guild, and still keep the the disbelieving Burgomeister and Gutter Runner hit squads who keep it in the shadows.

Edit: it also solves the suspension of disbelief required if your players bring back a dead rat man. Everyone knows mutants and beast men hide in the sewers but look! You killed it, it's dead, problem solved, ok you're ranting about an electrical train depot run by rats under the sewers, let's get you off to the asylum shall we?

Tibalt fucked around with this message at 20:28 on Dec 17, 2018

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Agreed, I think that's a better take on it. "Oh sure Skaven exist but surely they can't be here, we'd know."

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Children of the Horned Rat

Wait, a decent pre-made?

Color me surprised: The pre-made adventure actually scales well and it's a good 'first encounter' style story for getting players into the spirit of fighting ratmen. They come across a small village in Wissenland that's having trouble with sheep mutilation and has recently had the sergeant of the local militia turn up dead. The local miller and his family have also gone missing. The mayor died a few months back and a lovely Sigmarite Friar and con-man (who is convinced he's a righteous shepard, even as he slides in to take over the village) is currently leading the village of Dottersbach and making defenses worse because he's more interested in staying in power as new mayor than protecting people. There are maybe a few too many subplots (the local merchant is also being threatened by the mob, the aforementioned Friar is a problem, and the newly appointed replacement militia leader is a guilt-ridden man who realizes he ducked out of the patrol that got the sergeant killed to get drunk) but they're the kind of thing you can drop or pick up as you prefer.

What's actually happening is that some Skaven slaves who escaped their masters have moved into the area to steal food and try to think of what to do next. The slaves aren't the real problem; players will probably defeat them in a short and nasty fight, only to rescue the one human Slave that was among them and learn from him that the real problem is the slave-hunters who are coming to get them back. If the Skaven can't get their slaves back, they'll try to raid Dottersbach to take human slaves as replacements. With the militia poorly trained and equipped and the people terrorized by the odd disappearances (though you actually discover the Miller wasn't killed; he's an ex-soldier who has fought Skaven before and when he spotted one on his property he got his wife and kids and fled to the next town over. They're actually fine), it's up to your PCs to organize a defense against the incoming slave raid. The actual hunting party is highly variable, and if you want, the Tilean Mob shows up to collect from the town merchant at the same time as the Skaven attack and can even be convinced to join in and fight the Skaven (Tileans hate the drat things) at the cost of the PCs owing a mob boss a favor. There's lots of possible outcomes to the adventure and room for a lot of dramatic scenes and PCs inspiring the militia to help (off screen; the book is clear that having 8 Militiamen fighting a bunch of Clanrats with full, rolled combat will slow things down too much and so preparations should affect what the PCs personally take care of). The only really glaring issue is there's no real payment and the adventure relies wholly on the PCs deciding they're going to investigate an odd situation for no reward. They never get paid in the end, which is a bit of an oversight. If they saved the village, and especially if they helped the local merchant, you'd think someone would pony up a reward.

Still, it's actually a fun adventure with a good hook and a lot of options and ways to mess about with what the PCs have to do, depending on their characters. A party of 2nd tier characters with some good fighters might face Gutter Runners and a Rat Ogre. A party of fresh 1st tiers will just have to lead the militia against Clanrats and a Clawleader. The scalable nature of Skaven threats really helps make the adventure something you can scale up or down and the adventure leans into that, giving a bunch of suggestions of what level of ratfight to throw at them for the dramatic final conclusion.

And really, the pre-made actually being decent is a good example of why the Skaven make a good enemy for an RPG. They can be all kinds of things, and they try all kinds of plots. You can make Skaven into comic relief, serious threats, intrigue enemies, straight military enemies, monster wielding enemies, and in all these things your PCs can make a difference and ruin the Skaven in ways that the Skaven actually care about. They've got a lot of personality and energy, which also makes the prospect of playing as them in a comic campaign surprisingly fun. Their history even shows that maybe they didn't have to be how they are; there are a lot of things keeping them that way, but primarily those things are things that came out of the powerful among the Skaven making choices to keep their people miserable. Skryre's technology could revolutionize the world, but it won't, because it's being built by greedy, lovely Nazis. The Skaven happily tolerate Pestilens because they're useful for genocidal plagues. Moulder's medical technology and mastery of life could do so much, but instead it's twisted towards corporate bottom lines and biological planned obsolescence. Eshin and Mors both have a slight hint that a more honest and positive government could revolutionize the Under Empire, but they keep a lid on it for their own personal power instead. The Skaven are the Skaven because of the Skaven, as much as their God finds it hilarious and helps to keep them that way. That's surprisingly compelling when one of your other major enemies is basically reshaped into being what they are by the force of their Gods.

So in the end, this book presents a compelling, funny enemy in enough detail to do a really good job of getting across their unique personality and energy. It's just, as a friend pointed out to me, the rules feel like they're built by the rat people: They're shoddy, fall apart at the slightest kick, and they're rather unstable. With more mechanical care and attention, this could've been the best of the Enemy Splat books; as it is it's probably the weakest. There's no hidden mechanical gems here like Chaos Lord creation, and it's hard to top Warhams Vampires as enemies as it is. It's still a good book and worth using. The material's exciting and there are tons of ways to come up with fun adventures with it. Just you're going to have to do some tightening up and fixing when it comes to the mechanics, and that's always a big knock against an RPG book. End of the day, though, it's a good addition to the Warhams Fantasy line.

Next Time: Something that has nothing to do with hams

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




FMguru posted:

"Avalanche of minutiae" was a pretty common characteristic of 60s/70s fantasy as a form of cheap verisimilitude. You came up with your own calendar, system of weights and measures, names for days/weeks/months, numbering system, currencies - or sometimes multiple versions of them - because in your imagined secondary world there are no miles or Saturdays or pounds. I think everyone was trying to be Tolkien, with the appendix full of fiddly details and timelines and calendars.

I'm not surprised a game supplement tracking back to that era fell into the same trope. Gygax's Greyhawk from the same time period was also full of similar boring ungameable nonsense (also: population numbers, migration maps, linguistic distributions, etc.). One reason I could never get into Tekumel (also from this era) was the investment required to learn all of Barker's invented terms for common things, although I know for a lot of people part of the fun of Tekumel is immersing yourself in its fully alien liguistic milieu.

As a style of worldbuilding, it's really fallen out of fashion. My favorite recent example is GRRM's World of Ice and Fire, in which people's ages are expressed in numbers identical to what we know (an 8 year old in Westeros is the same as an 8 year old here on earth) despite the fact that the hyperdetailed world (which just saw the publication of a 700 page pre-history of the setting) doesn't have stable seasons or year-lengths. When asked about it, GRRM just shrugged and quoted the opening credits to MST3K, because even he knows that no one has time to continually flip to the back of the book to translate sentences like "their army is camped 17 kelmor from the entrance to the pass; we have five glizma before it is closed to us; we must hurry".
My take is that Tolkienesque worldbuilding is the standard and has been for a long time. For me, the main difference between Tolkienesque high fantasy and "sword and sorcery" is that the latter is concerned with wandering protagonists, with the setting built around the plot of their adventures, and built up only as the author publishes more stuff. It's true that Smith and Howard (for example) laid some foundations for their stories that aren't gone over in exhaustive detail in the pages of their stories, but Howard's essay on the Hyborian Age doesn't hold a candle to Tolkien's organized cosmology.

Of course, few authors have the education to invent whole languages to give verisimilitude to their settings like Tolkien did, but they aim to do as much detailed worldbuilding as possible, largely for commercial reasons. If you can get people hooked on a setting, you can keep selling them sequels and spin-offs stuffed with side-stories and bits of "lore" long after the original story (and original author) is creatively spent. It's hard to imagine a new protagonist having new and unique adventures in Reith's Tschai or Elric's Young Kingdoms. (I think Stormbringer is a good exception that proves the rule: Jon and Jef of System Mastery rightly pointed out that as a campaign setting, the Young Kingdoms are a list of places where Elric went, exhausted the one interesting thing going on there, and moved on. After all, the universe he lived in literally died with him.)

FMguru posted:

Speaking of recurring characteristics of 60s/70s fantasy, is Wilderlands also one of those fantasy settings with SF elements grafted into it (a crashed spaceship, a citadel protected by robots, a malfunctioning AI computer that's worshipped by the locals as a god, a long-vanished race of Ancients whose leftover high-tech artifacts seem magical, etc.)?
Extremely.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


If anyone really needs a fix of Wilderlands right now, check out RPPR After Hours. They did a three-part "Wilderlands Vacation Guide", plus several other episodes cover Judges Guild supplements.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Double Cross

Insert Anime Opening

Well, this is gonna be different. Very different. I want to talk to you all about a very curious game about playing viral superbeings in an incredibly shonen anime supers game. I don't really care about its default setting (though the default setting is fine, it's like Aberrant with way less 90s edge and way more anime) because I've never actually run a game in the default setting. The default setting isn't even that important; the game doesn't spend a lot of time on it and it's more a vague set-up for you to play out your cool supers game than a detailed and organized world.

No, I want to talk to you about this game because I love its mechanics. It's a great example of a game whose mechanics play into the genre and tone it's trying to convey very, very well. This is a game where your MP bar is also an escalation mechanic and a corruption meter at the same time, and it actually works. Fights have a sense of momentum. There's a good combo system in place for building up huge supermoves, and there are reasonable limitations on using them that prevent everyone alpha striking all the time. There's just enough fluff on the various power sets to suggest flavor, but there's a ton of room for you to fill in whatever you want. This is how I've used this same system for 'Parasite Eve 3' and 'Biblical Fanfiction star in biblical fanfiction'. All you really need for this system to work for your supers game is a sense that your powers are somehow dangerous and that your supers need to balance between running hot for power and keeping themselves at a level where they can get back into safe bounds when the fight is over.

As another note, while I love this game's mechanics, the game's translation is pretty rough. It reads a lot like a 90s JRPG and can be pretty hard to work through. This leads to things like 'I got a fundamentally important rule about power combos wrong for a full year of play'. I don't blame anyone who says this game can be a nightmare to learn; it's very complex as is and the rough translation makes it even harder to understand some of the wording.

But enough about why I'm doing this, let's talk about Double Cross. In normal Double Cross, you're Japanese characters living in a world where an insane magical virus that does whatever whimsical superpower poo poo it feels like got released from an ancient dig site about 20 years ago. Because this is anime, the guy who discovered it A: Is a very powerful superhuman now B: Is probably evil and C: Dubbed it THE RENEGADE VIRUS. It gives people superpowers when it goes active, and it's dormant in almost all of the human population. The superpowers are awesome, but if you overuse them you can end up at high Encroachment, with the virus replacing your personality and sanity and turning you into a ravening genetic horror. Those with powers are called 'Overed' (Bwahahahah!) and those who go nuts are 'Gjaums' (which apparently means germs or something?). Overed can resist going crazy by a mixture of willpower and a phenomena known as 'Loises' (for Lois Lane), whereby they keep some strong human connections via friends and loved ones that strengthen their identity against the virus.

The only solution to a crazy Overed or a Gjaum is a sane Overed, so naturally there's a big hidden international effort to recruit (force) Overed to defend the world (and grant enormous temporal powers to the people running the show). The United Guardian Network are the 'good guys' who want everything to continue as normal and want to keep the Renegade virus secret, while benefiting immensely from the Japanese magic teenagers they recruit and indoctrinate. Opposing them are the False Hearts, who believe the Renegade virus should be known to all the world, primarily via False Heart boots stomping on human faces and setting up a new world ruled by the 'superior' Overed. They're dicks. They're led by Professor Caudwell (who, this being an anime, has taken on the codename Iscariot, because of course he has), the guy who discovered the virus in the first place, now an incredibly powerful superhuman with a bunch of creepy genetically enhanced children (no mention of who he had them with) who do his bidding. Your standard game is punching these guys in the dick while also navigating the weird conspiracy that recruited you and dealing with the weird superhuman underground of hyper assassins and incredibly anime stock characters.

DX is a fully d10 based system. No other dice are used. Generally, you roll d10s equal to your Stat in a test, with there being a [Body], [Sense], [Mind] and [Social] stat. You only keep the highest die on a roll, and add your Skill and modifiers to the result. If you get a 10 on any dice, they're called a critical and you set them aside and then roll them again as a second dice pool. If you get any 10s, you do this again. For every time you rolled another pool, you add 10 to your result. So, say I'm rolling 8d10, and I get 2 10s, I'd count that as a 10 and then roll 2d10. Then I get a 4 and an 8, so I'd add 8 to 10 and say I rolled an 18 for the check. That's not the complicated part. The complicated part is some of your superpowers will lower the Critical Value for a check. A common power every Overed has is called Concentrate, and it sets your Critical Value anywhere from 7 to 9 for superpowered attacks. In that case, any die that meets or exceeds your critical value on a check counts as rolling a 10. As you might imagine, having a 20-40% chance of a 'critical' per die with die pools that are usually 5-15 dice or so (or more, for some character types) can lead to pretty long 'critical chains' sometimes. It can also take a little while to roll and read. Note that the book will not tell you any of this about criticals and the basic dice system for a long time.

No, the first things we talk about are the optional personality/background rolling system and deciding your Syndromes (power sets). You can choose to roll or freely decide on anything in your background, with separate tables for someone born a UGN grunt, someone who was an Ordinary High School Student until they started throwing cars, someone who was an ordinary adult (DX is totally fine with you playing well adjusted adults and professionals), and someone who was really into crime. We also get a bunch of example characters and they're actually quite useful, or would be if we had any real context for what their numbers mean. One thing that's clear from the Example PCs: You really want to focus on one or two stats, and only one or two styles of attack. There's Melee, Ranged, and 'Renegade Control' (Magic, so I'm just going to call it magic) and they generally run off Body, Sense, and Mind respectively. Some other characters can attack with Social but it tends to be one of the less useful stats. Still, the example characters are dumped on you without any real context so I'll mostly be ignoring them for now and moving on to PC creation.

When creating your concept, you want to fill in your Origin (where you came from, not where you got your powers), your Life Experience, a hint of what kind of NPCs you've crossed paths with in your backstory, some recommended Lois archetypes, and how you awakened to your powers, as well as your secret darkest urge, the thing your virus wants you to do. The Awakening and Impulse (Darkest urge) will combine to determine your base Encroachment Rate, or how close to crazy (and powerful) you start each session, usually in the high 20s low 30s. 100+ is where things get dangerous and most powered attacks cost you 4-7; we'll be talking a lot about Encroachment Rate later. At every stage in your backstory, you can either roll on a chart, pick from the chart, or just freely write your own thing; just get your GM to approve a starting Encroachment value if you want an unusual Awakening or Impulse (just pick the values from some of the premade ones and mash them together).

After you've done that, you pick your Syndromes. Syndromes are your superpower sets, and are essentially character classes. The average character in DX actually has 2, and almost all the combinations will work. You can also choose to have a single Syndrome, which makes its powers potentially stronger and grants you access to two really good 'pure' powers from your set, or you can choose to have 3, but they're all weaker and this is really tricky to make work. It's highly recommended you stick to 1 or 2 Syndromes unless you've got a really specific build in mind and you loving love doing character optimization. Syndromes have fluff, but what really matters for them is their mechanics; you can fill in a lot of your own fluff beyond the basic suggested manifestations of powers.

The Syndromes are:

Angel Halo: An attacking/wizard Syndrome, Angel Halo is based around lasers, hyper-perception, illusion, and stealth. It tends to be the more precise but slightly lower damage version of a blaster. It can also use stealth and precision to supplement either a melee ambusher or a sniper.

Balor: Gravity and space-time manipulation makes for a hell of a tank, debuffer, and ranged attacker. Balor has a lot of cool no-sell powers and ways to slow down and debuff enemies. It works well with any power set that would be enhanced by being tough as nails or able to gently caress with your enemies' initiative and movement. You can just as easily make a great 'sticky' melee tank with it (if you have a melee focused second set) as a powerful wizard.

Black Dog: Cybernetics, technomancy, and lightning powers. Black Dog is very well rounded and works well with other power sets. It gets a lot of self buffs that are 'always on', simply adding to base Encroachment but giving you permanent stat boosts. You can install a railgun in your arm or shoot lightning everywhere. It can do a little of everything and supplements a lot of other sets well, or makes for a flexible Pure type. They're also really good at reducing damage.

Bram Stoker: Blood magic. These guys are weird as hell and get a special pet-class option where they make blood clones, which is really powerful but runs you insanely hot and can make you go crazy quick; your blood clones run off the same Encroachment as you do. Still, pet classes are uniformly quite useful. If you don't want to do that, they have a lot of good enhancement powers that run off your HP or let you drain HP from others, because magic vampire powers.

Chimera: Chimera does one thing and does it insanely well: Smashing poo poo. You want to be a giant werewolf or the Incredible Hulk, Chimera is all about shifting into a giant warform to get +5 Body Dice and then punching so hard you can put a hole in a battleship. They also get one of the best Flight powers, so people who think they can escape your crazy melee focus by flying like cowards will not be able to do this, especially as they also then get a power for knocking people out of the air. If not backed up by another power set, they can be a bit fragile and often lack for AoE, but they punch like a train.

Exile: The other Shapeshifter/pure Physical class, whereas Chimeras turn into big monsters and animal people or the Hulk, Exiles are horrifying goo people. They focus a lot more on accuracy, flexibility, multi-target attacks, and damage resistance than the Chimera. They actually get the best HP booster in the game; if you want a lot of HP so you can no-sell attacks by being shot to pieces before horrifically putting yourself back together while laughing, Exile does that. You might be thinking they'd work well with Chimera. You would be right; Exile-Chimeras are really goddamn good. They can lack for raw damage compared to a Chimera, and most of their powers are more expensive to use.

Hanuman: Superspeed and sound control. They make surprisingly good wizards and buff-meisters; you can play a superspeed bard who encourages people with magic sound waves. They also work well as another physical attacker class, focused much more on getting around and breaking enemy defenses. They do not, notably, get extra actions except with their limited-use restricted-to-later-in-a-fight ultimate powers. DX knows modeling superspeed by giving someone two turns would make superspeed the most powerful power set.

Morpheus: Morpheus makes stuff. They summon incredibly good weapons, armor, etc, and have one of the best basic magic attacks in the game for some reason. They can summon and pass out gear far better than anything you can requisition, and a Pure (or running hot) Morpheus can learn the spell 'Create Giant Robot', so that's definitely a point in their favor. Their hidden weakness is they're extremely EXP intensive; their powers take a lot of investment and their own Syndrome doesn't help them use the gear the summon as much as you'd like.

Neumann: Superhuman intelligence and skill, Neumann is a buffing and support class that also specializes in martial arts and two-fisted gunfighting. They are the only class that gets an actual dual wield power! And it's actually great! They can do a lot of great stuff to buff allies during the setup phase of a round, without using their action, but it costs a lot of Encroachment and usually doesn't benefit the Neumann themselves. Their actual combat abilities are diverse and consistent, but not as powerful as bigger Syndromes. Still, you can narrate everything to empower your allies, which is a critical anime role.

Orcus: Orcus is the power of 'domain', where you spread particles around and make the plants and space in an area obey you and honestly Orcus has no idea what it wants to be. That extends to its powers. It has some wizard poo poo, some plant and animal control for buffing or debuffing, weirdly the best summoned armor in the game outside of Morpheus, and in general I have always been disappointed with every Orcus villain I've made. Their most useful powers are dice fuckery; they can cast a spell where they point at that 7 you're trying to crit-chain off for your last die and go 'nah that's a 1', or point at the 2 an ally rolled and go 'nah that's a 10', allowing them to crit one more time. Otherwise they're kind of a weird mishmash.

Salamandra: Salamandra is all about fire. Well, fire and ice. They're thermal control in general, so if you want to burn someone with all the thermal energy you sucked out of the guy you froze last turn, you can do that. They're good at wizard stuff and lots of direct damage, being the pure damage blaster to Angel Halo's precision character. They can also supplement a physical character very well. They're straightforward, sure, but like Chimera, 'I'm really good at loving murdering people' is a legit specialization.

Solaris: Chemistry and mind control. Solaris is the only power set that can regularly use Social to attack. They're way more about buffs and debuffs (and heals) than anything else, but they're really good at it. They can also pull stuff like suddenly turning their buffs and heals into AoEs that help the whole party, which is really great. Don't underestimate them due to a lack of direct damage; when they pull out all the stops and give the party Chimera -1 Crit Value (stacking with Concentrate for a 6, or 50-50 odds per die they crit) and +15 dice, no-one's going to be laughing at the silly buff-meister anymore.

A PC picks one or two of these, which then give them their base stats, then spends 3 points filling in to make sure none of their stats are at 0. Then they pick a profession, which gives them a couple skills and an extra stat point. Then you go pick 4 starting powers, put 2 levels into them, and you're done. Sounds simple? I'm going to be talking about powers for goddamn ever because going over what you can do with each Syndrome is key to understanding the game. If there's a flaw in character creation it's that your starting abilities are only enough for maybe 1 or 2 tricks. You'll grow and fill in over time, but you start out very simple to play.

What weird combo should I make for our example anime?

Next Time: An Example Character

LaSquida
Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.


Morpheus and Neumann!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Neumann/Solaris. As long as Neumann's in there.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Anything + Orcus, which is my favorite Syndrome.

Also another big problem with DX's chargen stuff: you buy the cool fluff tricks with the same currency you use to buy your actual character functions. I generally recommend/see recommended that people get one or two free Simple Powers at chargen too.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I don't think I brought this up when we were discussing the problems inherent in superhero systems*, but Double Cross works very well because it's a specific setting with its own specific thing; it's not trying to let you build any superhero you've ever read about, accommodating everything from vampires to aliens to robots in the same setting and system.


*Help! Help! I'm being simulated!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Double Cross

I cast create doves

So, a Morpehus-Neumann combo has the obvious route of 'Two guns, fired whilst leaping through the air and yelling'.

To that end, we begin our aspiring one-person action movie montage by rolling a d4 to see if they're a criminal, government jackboot, normal person, or Ordinary High School Student. That's right, I'm going absolutely full randomization for this to show you the kind of ridiculous backstory that results in. We get Ordinary High School Student, because the Anime Gods are watching. Flipping a coin, our young anime is a young lady.

With a 31 on the Origin Chart, our parents are rich investors. No suggestion of what they invest in, that's up to us. The suggested Lois for this is our rich business dad. Dad's a rich science investor who might be investing in some shady science and Umbrella type stuff but he loves his daughter.

A 48 on our Experience chart as a Student says our young woman is a MAJOR SUCCESS. She's an honors student, or she's a prodigy at something, even before she gets superhuman martial arts and genius and the ability to create guns out of thin air. Our recommended Lois for this (you get 3 total 'lasting' Loises) is a rival, so we've got an anime rival we beat out for first place as an honors student, I'd say.

Our important NPC encounter is a Benefactor that our young anime feels indebted to. She wants to be a scientist and one of the scientists her dad works with has taken her under their wing, helping her with her exams and advising her about college. Perhaps said scientist has SINISTER AMBITIONS (or maybe not).

Our young anime awakened to her powers because she saw someone she cared about getting the poo poo kicked out of them and that would not stand. This gives her a base Encroach of 16. Going to say she saw her science buddy being threatened by shady corporate commandos or something who wanted her to keep going on some research she didn't feel comfortable with, when our anime suddenly manifested stylish magic armor and a pair of revolvers and explained this would not stand.

The dark urge of our viral superbeing infection is a LUST FOR BATTLE. While our young anime is normally restrained and reasonable, part of her is just itching to dive through a cloud of doves while emptying her infinite magic revolvers into some genetic horror. This adds another 16 to her base Encroachment, for 32.

Her Positive Emotion about an NPC is Sincerity: She trusts her father is doing his best, no matter how shady the world of hypertech science investment gets. Her negative is Repugnance: Her science rival at school is kind of a prick and I dunno, he's really angry a girl beat him out on the honors list and he's being a huge jerk about it beyond all reason. Young Makoto (I think her name will be Makoto) ain't got time for Shinji's weird sexist bullshit about how girls 'shouldn't' be good at science and engineering, she's busy trying to stay on top of the honor's list while also being a real life action heroine at night.

So there, that's the background of Makoto Tachibana, wealthy heiress, gunfighter, and aspiring scientist with magic summoning powers and incredible genius. It's actually not that incoherent.

Her actual mechanics are a little weirder. See, Neumann obviously starts with a lot of Mind, but it doesn't actually use Mind for anything, since it focuses on physical attacks and buffs. So she starts with 0 Body, 0 Sense, 3 Mind, and 1 Social from Neumann, and 1 Body, 2 Sense, 0 Mind, and 1 Social from Morpheus. Added together, she's got 1 Body (kinda frail), 2 Sense (Average for a human), 3 Mind (Bright), and 2 Social (Average) to start. She dumps all her starting points in Sense to be better at shooting. She'll count as a Researcher, since she's spending all her time on science, giving her +1 Mind and a bunch of Knowledge skills in science. She'll also dump her 5 starting skillpoints in Ranged because she's going to be a gunfighter. So at the end she's Body 1, Sense 5, Mind 4, Social 2. She's sharp, perceptive, and decent with people, but kinda noodly.

She gets 20+(2xBody)+(1xMind) HP, for 26 HP. This isn't very much. She can get knocked down easily, especially as she doesn't have any bonus HP powers available.

She gets (2xSense)+(1xMind) Initiative. Init lets a character go first; there's no rolling, the values are just compared. She's got 14 Init, which is great for a starting character. Makoto draws first.

She gets a couple powers just for being an Overed: One of them is Resurrect. As long as she's below 100% Encroachment, if she's KOed, she gets right back up at d10 HP, and adds d10 to her Encroachment. She also starts with Concentration 2 in one of her Syndromes, which means as long as an attack is using a power from that Syndrome, she can pay a little extra to give it Critical Value 8. She takes that in Neumann, since her active attacks will be coming from there. She also gets 'Warding', which turns all non Overed into a scene into Extras when activated; it basically gets people to clear out or pass out so you can have big anime superfights. It's a matter of taste; I mostly ignore it in my games.

She then buys Hundred Guns (Create gun) from Morpehus because hey, guns. There's also a power literally called Double Creation, which lets you make multiple guns at once when combined with stuff like Hundred Guns and makes them better for doing it, so that's perfect. She buys Create Armor so she can summon her cool costume at the start of battles, too. And finally she buys Multi-Weapon (Ranged) so she can fire both guns at once, combining their damage ratings into one big attack. As this is an active attack power, she can combine it with Concentrate, so she has a good bread and butter move. She puts both her starting power levels in Hundred Guns to make her summonable revolvers stronger.

And there you have it. As you can see, she kind of only has one gimmick to start with. It'll take awhile for her to branch out and learn to do more stuff, like disintegrate people with the power of creation, heal people, or narrate scenes in order to make her buddies stronger, but off the bat she's got a summonable costume, two guns, a melodramatic hook (evil science corporation threatening her dad and her science mentor), and she's ready to shoot some dudes.

Also, yes, I let everyone have Simple Powers at character creation. Simple Powers are little tricks every Syndrome has that don't actually do anything in combat. Normally, you don't get these for free and have to pay small amounts of EXP for them, which sucks. These are cute little abilities like 'You can learn any language by listening to it for a minute' for Neumann, or 'perfectly recreate any meal or drink you've had or read about' for Morpheus. My usual houserule is everyone gets 2 of them from each Syndrome, as each Syndrome has 7. Makoto will have Ultimate Chef (Make food and drink at will), Almighty Instrument (if she cannot find the TV remote, she summons one), Metabolism Control (She can perfectly control when to fall asleep, when to wake, etc with her super mind), and Profiling (Can do Sherlock Holmes poo poo about NPCs, making all kinds of little deductions).

And thus we get Makoto Tachibana, freelance super-detective, ordinary (rich) high school girl, honor's student, and would be renaissance woman. PCs generally come out fun, but I wish there was more guidance on creating higher level character from the start if you want to start out with characters with more options.

Next Time: Getting into the power weeds

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I would watch Makoto do the anime. All of it.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Dawgstar posted:

I would watch Makoto do the anime. All of it.

DX's randomization stuff is the 'good' kind. It's vague and leaves you enough room to fill stuff in, being a good prompting rather than a direct 'this is your backstory and life-path'. As silly as it is, the authors also being explicit that you should freely reroll or say 'Hey actually with what I rolled before I really would like to pick this result on this part of the chart, or write my own thing in' is good. It's generally good for the rules to give permission to do that kind of thing, because if they do, it encourages first-time players or people who usually prefer to stick to exactly what's written to consider doing so.

Always better to give permission than assume that players will assume it.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Balor sounds interesting to me, I like it when "gently caress you, you don't get to... do much of anything really" debuffing is a viable combat archetype for a character. To me, that's more fun than simply blasting people.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Cythereal posted:

Balor sounds interesting to me, I like it when "gently caress you, you don't get to... do much of anything really" debuffing is a viable combat archetype for a character. To me, that's more fun than simply blasting people.

One of the other really neat things in the system is that pretty much everything you can do is useful. You generally have to commit to it. Durability will actually work out for you if you commit. Guard-tanking (damage reduction) like Balor will work. Dodge tanking can work. Debuffs are useful and because of how powers work, they can often be attached as riders to attack powers at cost of more Encroachment. Etc. You can make almost any mechanical concept work, you just need Concentrate, and everyone starts with it.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


Halloween Jack posted:

I don't think I brought this up when we were discussing the problems inherent in superhero systems*, but Double Cross works very well because it's a specific setting with its own specific thing; it's not trying to let you build any superhero you've ever read about, accommodating everything from vampires to aliens to robots in the same setting and system.

I mean, technically, you could probably do vampires, aliens, and robots just by going in heavily on a particular couple of syndromes (Bram Stoker, Chimera/Exile, Black Dog), but you're right that it's not actively trying to compare Batman and Superman.

Also giggling at the particular name "Makoto Tachibana". Night10194, did you pull that name out of a hat or have you been watching swimming anime recently?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Davin Valkri posted:

Also giggling at the particular name "Makoto Tachibana". Night10194, did you pull that name out of a hat or have you been watching swimming anime recently?

I have not. I play too many videogames sometimes so it's Makoto from Persona 5 from the honor student angle and Tachibana of Tachibana Real Estate from Yakuza from the investor one.

Also, it was just a choice to make her a gunslinger; swap her stats to Body instead of Sense and swap her to Infinite Weapons and she could just as easily be a bruiser using twin katanas and incredible martial arts.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Quick note: each of your Loises get a positive and negative emotion. You pick which of the two is directly expressed and which is subconscious/hidden/secondary.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I'd probably take a Black Dog Morpheus, because being a kickass cyborg is one of my most enduring dreams.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Double Cross

Powerful powers

So, before we get into actual powers, we're going to discuss a ton of stuff the game really should have done before you even made a PC. This game commits one of those common organizational sins: Everything about how to use the stuff you created is in the back. You know how I seemed to know exactly what I was looking for while building Makoto? That's because I've been running/playing this game for several goddamn years. When my players first made PCs for our first game we ended up with stuff like PCs with no Concentrated attacks, because you don't know how any of that works on first glance.

So we're going to talk about how power combos work, how powers are conveyed to the player, what puretypes do, what tri-breeds do, etc. We're going to get into the weeds and really discuss why the mechanics work how they work.

First: Power Combos are one of the key points of the game. During a round of combat you get a Minor action and a Major action. You also have a Setup phase before the round begins, and some powers can be activated then, outside your turn order. After that Setup phase comes the Initiative Phase, when you decide who's going first. A lot of Initiative effecting powers are used during the Setup or Initiative phases because then they can alter this current turn instead of next turn. A character taking their turn is doing their Main Process (the actual round). Finally there's a Cleanup phase when you apply Damage over Time, clean up stuff that's run out of duration, etc. You can combine any power that uses the same action type (Minor or Major) and the same number of targets and the same skill into a single action. You are encouraged to write down your combos and give them little anime names and descriptions. So take Makoto: Summoning her armor is a Minor action that costs 2 Encroach. Hundred Guns is ALSO a Minor that costs 3 Encroach. Double Creation is ALSO a Minor that costs 3 Encroach. She can combine all 3 of these powers into a single Minor Action to summon both her armor and both her pistols in one move. She gives it the name Lock n' Load, because of course she would, and writes down what powers are involved, what it does (Summons and equips armor, two guns, with +1 Attack Power each for Double Creation), and a little description of her costume (obviously ultra-modern looking biker gear and armor) and customized pistols (engraved, shiney, infinite ammunition).

Now, Concentrate says it's a 'Syndrome' power. What does this mean? This means it can be combined with any power that uses at least 1 power of that syndrome. I made this mistake for a full year! I thought the entire combo had to be from one syndrome! This is not the case at all! A Syndrome power can be combined into any combo that uses at least one power from that Syndrome, so say Makoto wanted to combine Concentrate with Multi-Weapons, her two-fisted gunslinging attack, and also Gigantic Mode, a Morpheus power that breaks your current weapons but hits a whole area of enemies. She could, because Concentrate (Neumann) is a Neumann Syndrome power, and there's a Neumann power in there. Now say she wanted to combine Multiweapons, Conc, and Reinforce, a Morpheus Syndrome-linked power that adds to base damage. She couldn't, because there's no non-Syndrome Morpheus power in there. Syndrome takes the place of 'skill' in deciding what you can combine it with.

Note also some powers are explicitly going to modify how many targets a power hits. They will say they do this, and it overrides the normal 'your combined powers all have to hit the same targets' restriction on combos.

Otherwise, you can combine as many powers together as you want. They just have to match on what kind of action they use, who they target, and what skill they use. This is a big, big BIG part of the game. Building and managing your combos is very important, because it's how you manage your Encroachment. The obvious cost of putting together big multi-power moves is that they rocket your heat up real quickly. Running too hot can leave you unable to rez (remember, Rez stops working at 100% Encroach, so you can actually get KOed there) or worse, if you can't come back from the infection and walk back under 100%, you lose your PC at the end of the session. We'll go into that more later.

To talk about character building, I also have to talk about EXP. On average, if things go well, you'll gain 15-20 EXP a session. You get a chart where you get 1 point for playing, 1-10 points for completing your mission, 0-5 bonus points depending on how close your ending heat was to 100% (you normally recover d10 per Lois you've got Encroachment at the end of the adventure, you can double the dice rolled by voluntarily limiting your heat bonus EXP to 3, and if you're still over 100 after that you can choose to toss those 3 EXP to roll again and add the number), then 4 points total for playing well with others, helping set up for the session, etc. I just give those 4 as extra gimmies with the 1 for playing because I don't like to quantify 'good roleplaying' as an EXP award. Also note, you gain EXP as the player or GM. The idea being that you keep a running total of EXP so you can build new PCs if someone goes nuts, or dies, or you just feel like swapping to a new main character for an arc. Similarly, the GM has an EXP pool in case you switch GMs and they want to make a PC to play. So if our hypothetical player gets tired of playing Makoto after she earns 100 EXP, they can switch to making a new PC who also has 100 earned EXP. They'll keep track of their EXP total so that if they go back to Makoto, they can level her up. The whole thing is meant so you can play around with swapping perspectives or run short comic book arcs rather than being locked to one PC, even if I prefer stable casts, which it works for too.

Anyway, the point is, EXP is spent to raise stats, raise skills, level up powers, and buy new powers. New powers cost 15, so about one session's EXP, to buy at level 1. Raising a power's level, which will improve its effects, costs 5 EXP per level. So for a whole new power, you could raise a power's level by 3. Raising a stat costs 10 EXP until it hits 10, 20 until it hits 20, 30 until it hits 30, etc. 10 is usually pretty effectively a soft-cap. Raising combat skills is 2 until 10, 3 until 20, 5 until 30, and then 10 per level after. Again, 10 tends to be something of a soft-cap, but that's giving you a baseline of one crit in a skill and that's pretty good. Non-combat skills cost less, because the game knows combat is way more important. They're 1 point until 10, then cost the same as combat skills, partly because non-combat checks rarely have a difficulty above 20 anyway. New Simple Powers, the little fluff powers, are 2 EXP each.

I mention the EXP stuff because it's very important to judging the efficiency of powers: A power you can sink a ton of levels into can end up a more efficient way to accomplish what it's trying to accomplish compared to one that gives a big per-level bonus, but has a low maximum level. This is also what Pure characters get: They can buy any power in their set to 2 points higher than the listed cap. So say you have a power that gives an awesome per level bonus but only has Max Level 3? The Pure can buy that to 5 and get way more out of it. In general, you get more out of maxing some powers rather than having to buy a ton of powers. This is also what I mean when I say Morpheus is really EXP intensive. Makoto's Pistols and Armor powers are max level 5 each, with the pistols doing 4 damage base, +1 per level, and the armor stopping 8 damage base, +2 per level. Her Double Creation adds +Level damage to her pistols, and has a max of 10. To fully max out her basic gear would cost her 75 EXP after creation, which is about 5 sessions. That's pretty significant. She might be better served finding other powers that increase the base damage and effectiveness of her weapons more quickly, but that will cost extra Encroachment. Balancing between these kinds of things is important for character design. One reason her Multi-Weapons is so valuable is it's a one and done power; as long as she has two ranged weapons, she can add their base damage together with that attack for only 2 Encroachment (+2 for Concentrating because be real, you're almost always going to Concentrate).

This is also one of the ways the various Syndromes balance out what they can do and stand out over one another. Let's take three extremely similar powers from three different Syndromes. Giant's Life Force from Chimera, Mark of the Twisted from Exile, and Pain Editor from Black Dog. All 3 of these increase your base HP by 5 points per level, at the cost of permanently raising your Encroachment by 3. They're all very useful ways to make an HP tank. But Mark of the Twisted is the most efficient power of the three, because the other two top out at 5 levels, while Mark can go up to 10. Now a character with multiple Syndromes that can take a power like that might take, say, Giant's Life Force after maxing Mark of the Twisted, but they'd do that because they're really going hard on max HP. Thus, while all three Syndromes can do the same thing, I say Exile is the most efficient (and thus best) at raising base HP. Lots of Syndromes have powers that do the same thing, but one does it cheaper, or better, or with fewer powers needed for a combo to pull it off; this is often how they differentiate themselves. For instance, lots of power sets can raise your base damage, but Salamandra and Chimera do it cheaper and better. A lot of character design comes from combining the strengths of one Syndrome with another. Take for instance the Exile-Chimera who uses Exile to get multi-target attacks, then Chimera for raw physical damage. They could have been effective with either, but now they have the option to use both, at the cost of not having the crazy focus and specialization of Pure.

To discuss Tri-Breed, we also have to talk about "Restrict" powers, or as I like to call them, Ultimates. Every Syndrome has a couple powers you cannot use until your Encroachment Rate gets above 80, 100, or 120. These are your super powerful ultra episode-ending ultimate techniques. These are where powers like 'Take another turn after this one' or 'Hit every single enemy in the encounter without friendly fire', 'actually no poo poo no-sell an enemy attack's HP damage (but not debuffs or other riders) once per session, no questions asked' or 'Do massive, massive shitloads of damage with a plasma cannon' live. These are really, really useful, but often cost a lot and can only be used when you're already in the danger zone. A Tri-Breed character cannot use most of these; they are limited to Restrict 80 ultimate powers, which tend to be good but not world-shattering. And even then, they can only use the ones from two of their Syndromes. They also have -1 to the max level of all their powers which includes Concentrate. The penalty of -1 to max does not apply to powers with only one level, at least. Given it takes a ton of EXP to start combining things widely enough to make having 3 power sets worthwhile...Tri-Breeds can be really tricky to make work. I'd generally steer players away from them.

Almost any Syndrome combo can work in my experience. You just have to know what you want to do from the two Syndromes. One of the flaws of the game is that you don't really start with enough powers to build a mechanically interesting PC yet; take Makoto. She can only really do one thing in combat (Shoot with Multi-Weapons) and she's kind of incentivized to focus on building that thing up early. Later she'll have way more cool options like buff spells, tactics, movement abilities, and magic, but that takes time. I suspect the fairly simple one-to-two-trick starting PCs are there to help people get acquainted with the system because gently caress, it's complicated already, but if you're already used to it I'd consider starting PCs with some extra EXP to play around with.

Also, for reference, at full powered up her guns will be making Damage 38 attacks by firing both of them. You do damage by taking the 10s digit of your final to-hit calculation, then rolling that many d10s +1 (so say I got a 35, I'd roll 4d10), plus the base damage. That's some pretty goddamn impressive damage output for someone who is only using a single (if maxed) base attack combo that only cost her 75 EXP. Thus we can say firing two pistols while leaping through the air is a viable combat tactic.

For the actual Syndromes, I'll be discussing their standout powers and general tenor, to give you an idea of what powers look like, but if I tried to transcribe everything I'd go insane by Black Dog.

Next Time: Energies of Light!

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!


The only archetype that really gets my attention is the Exile, but that's because I'm a sucker for body horror stuff.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Nessus posted:

Four words for you buddy:

Ratcoin: backed by rats.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyaA3rWWHHs

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

It really can't be stated enough how much of an elegant system Double Cross runs on, and how huge a pain in the rear end it is to puzzle out. Godspeed, Night.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


grassy gnoll posted:

It really can't be stated enough how much of an elegant system Double Cross runs on, and how huge a pain in the rear end it is to puzzle out. Godspeed, Night.

It should be noted: Absolutely none of the poo poo I just wrote about judging efficiency, etc is actually in the book.

You will get no build advice and like it!

I forgot to even go into Guard vs. Dodge and why they're both useful or not! That will be in the next post along with Angel Halo's stuff.

The gist is that Guard is 'I'm going to take the hit and add to my DR' while Dodge is 'I'm going to pray I can beat your attack roll with a Dodge check'. There are guard break powers that reduce Guard value, Guard powers that increase it, Dodges that let you use different stats for it, it's crazy!

There are so many interconnected details and they actually all matter!

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 21:01 on Dec 18, 2018

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