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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Joe Slowboat posted:

This is extremely good.

The Morrites would probably lose their poo poo, but I could see Morr sending signs to tell his priests to knock it off, the Nehekarans are cool in his book. Maybe add to it an unusually progressive Tomb Princess who says gently caress it, this is her land and her people, and if her people are part of this newfangled Empire then so is she. Set up a meeting with this Emperor dude so they and their bureaucrats can meet and hash out the politics and legalisms of the necessary oaths of fealty and whatnot.

Season to taste with vampires and conservative elements of the Empire trying to sabotage the whole thing.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Cythereal posted:

The Morrites would probably lose their poo poo, but I could see Morr sending signs to tell his priests to knock it off, the Nehekarans are cool in his book. Maybe add to it an unusually progressive Tomb Princess who says gently caress it, this is her land and her people, and if her people are part of this newfangled Empire then so is she. Set up a meeting with this Emperor dude so they and their bureaucrats can meet and hash out the politics and legalisms of the necessary oaths of fealty and whatnot.

Season to taste with vampires and conservative elements of the Empire trying to sabotage the whole thing.

I can't see Morr actually being cool with it, but I can see him going 'but prioritize this one well after, uh, the entirety of Sylvania'.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Morr himself absolutely hates the Undead because they should all be resting in the Realm of Morr.

But that's the thing, things that piss off cults happen all the time in the Empire and keep going through anyway. It is, in fact, possible to imagine a campaign where a couple grave-robbers accidentally wake up an Egyptian king or queen sleeping in Averland and by a series of ridiculous events, find themselves forced to help them become Elector Count rather than the two rear end in a top hat noble families currently fighting over the seat. Plus, Morrites are patient and they have bigger problems. And at least Mummies hate the hell out of Vampires, right?

E: That was the logic of the game I was in where Vlad was returned to help out with a Nagash problem for the Empire in the 2700s and named Elector of the newly created Grand Province of Sylvania. "We'll get to you after we deal with the progenitor of all undeath."

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:20 on Feb 28, 2019

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Eh, Vlad is no worse than any Talabeclalander count.

Also, speaking of Tomb Kings: replacing your feuding nobles with mummies might just be replacing them with undead feuding nobles.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

The best thing that could come out of bringing Tomb Kings into the Empire is giving bickering nobles a better understanding of just how good they have got it. Trying to gently caress with Karl Franz will look a lot less appealing if they know that they could end up being the subjects of Settra, a Tomb King so terrifying to force almost every other Tomb King into submission by just his presence alone.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It is also good of them to point out there are still tombs in the Empire region (After all, Vlad first ran into proto-Sylvania while he was a soldier in the Nehekaran army, stationed out in the colonies as a mortal man) so that you don't have to go all the way to a distant land that doesn't have a campaign book to deal with Mummies.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



JcDent posted:

Also, speaking of Tomb Kings: replacing your feuding nobles with mummies might just be replacing them with undead feuding nobles.

True, but in the meantime it might be hilarious. Imagine being the folks trying to convince Imperial authorities that no, really, there genuinely is an ancient mummy with an undead army who's poised to take over a province and wants to be brought up to speed on the legalities involved in replacing the incompetent/dead/missing Elector Count because she genuinely thinks she's the best person for the job and she would like to know her exact responsibilities as the new lord of this region.

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


All the mummy talk seems tailor made to fit my Bretonian campaign. Because I now finally have my antagonist/ ally to help/ hinder the group in taking down a necrarch who thinks he's Drachenfels.

The group, by the by, consists of an Ulrican knight, a road warden, two barrels of gunpowder (they get to be their own character), a wood elf of the not-crazy variety and a high elf who's totally not racist (she has human friends, you see).

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



RedSnapper posted:

All the mummy talk seems tailor made to fit my Bretonian campaign. Because I now finally have my antagonist/ ally to help/ hinder the group in taking down a necrarch who thinks he's Drachenfels.

The group, by the by, consists of an Ulrican knight, a road warden, two barrels of gunpowder (they get to be their own character), a wood elf of the not-crazy variety and a high elf who's totally not racist (she has human friends, you see).

I hope the wood elf grows more and more horrified the more she learns about the local ones.

"okay but why do they take your children" "we don't know" "and they come back?" "...sometimes?" "and you think i'm one of these fae?" "...are you not?"

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




The wood elves from Laurelorn are like crystal city Tolkien style ones who live in not-Lothlorien. I'd expect them to get really weirded out by the hellforest.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Mors Rattus posted:

I hope the wood elf grows more and more horrified the more she learns about the local ones.

"okay but why do they take your children" "we don't know" "and they come back?" "...sometimes?" "and you think i'm one of these fae?" "...are you not?"

I can only imagine other Wood Elves talk about the Bretonnian versions while miming playing a banjo.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Bestiary

One, two, three meddling Adventurers! Ah-ha-ha!

Wraiths are another sort of angry ghost that wants you dead. The difference between them and the other kinds of angry ghosts is that a Wraith is going to try to kill you whether you disturb its rest or not. This is because they're the ghost of a Necromancer who tried to grasp immortality in a manner similar to Nagash and hosed up and died. They think it's total bullshit how you get to breath and eat and they take offense at all of these 'alive' things when they aren't, so they'd like to correct that. Interestingly, Kinear dismisses them and all other spiritual monsters. Given Chaos's focus on transcendence via demonhood, I suppose the existence of other soul-like non-corporeal beings that continue to persist is anathema to Chaos. We also get a Bret saying the only thing you can hope for to kill one of these things is an actual Grail Knight, since you need magic weapons or you're dead. Also a story from a peasant about how they sussed out and burned down a Necromancer lair back in the day and ever since there's been a pissed off Wraith living in the ruins; nobody goes near that place anymore. The common soldier just plain can't deal with one of these; you need Priests who can bless weapons, or Wizards.

Our Verenan priest, Heinrich Malz, talks about how Wraiths are actually more likely to come from an extremely determined but incompetent Necromancer. You see, a competent one would be able to make themselves into a free-willed Undead Lich. These ones hosed up, but they've got just enough magic and spite to hang on in the world and try to kill you. Constantin von Carstein spends his time laughing at them and boasting about how, as a Vampire, he can do all those 'alive' things when he wants to while they're stuck screaming about not having a body anymore. He also says any aspiring immortal should come to him; it's up to the Von Carsteins who gets it, in his mind.

The Wraith locked in that burned out Necromancer lair just yells at the interviewer for being alive and threatens to kill him to see if he can still be so smug about having a heartbeat or circulatory system when he's loving dead. Wraiths! Sore losers of Necromancy!

Also extremely dangerous! Unless you have the tools to deal with them, they're basically invincible against a normal Adventurer and hit for Damage 3, but completely ignore armor. If you see one and you don't have a Wizard, Priest, or magic weapon, run.

Vampire Bats are boring. They're just giant evil bats, the same way Giant Wolves were giant evil wolves. They eat people. We don't even get anything cool about why the Von Carsteins like bats, because Constantin is determined to be one of the worst Von Carsteins since Manfred. The stories are all just variations on 'In Sylvania, bat eats you'. The only good bit of their writeup is Rikkit'tik suggesting you either treat them like a Vampire or better yet, get a subordinate high on warpstone powder and leave him to get eaten. This kills the bat.

Vampires, though? This is where you got all your Vampire fluff before they wrote Night's Dark Masters, and so they have one of the longest entries in the book. The Common View on them mixes between jealousy of their eternal youth and hotness, a desire to have their magical powers, enough sense to say 'But they're insanely dangerous, stay away!', and our good buddy Pike stepping in to say he's no more objection to burning ancient and noble Undead, no matter what they claim. Vampires loom large in the popular culture of the Old World, and they like it that way.

Waldemarr of Nuln gives us a lowdown on where they came from, which we all know from NDM already. They were first made in the great city of Lahmia, back in the ages of Nehekara, about 4000-5000 years ago. Though he concludes that as the older vampires are all more powerful, the fact that a human nation overthrew their first city and killed most of them is reason to hope that any Vampire can be beaten by sufficient skill and courage. He's completely correct; no Vamp is invincible. Rikkit'tik suggests powdered warpstone and ground silver in a garlic oil base. Rikkit'tik's approach to killing Vampires is the one taken by most successful Vampire Hunters, and it occurs to me now that Eshin would actually be quite good at the job. Assassination is the best way to deal with Vamps. Drakar the Chaos Warrior pops up after a long absence to spit on Vampires as unchanging, refusing to undertake the change between life and death or go to their rest as all things should. Before NDM made it more explicit, this is the first place in the line you really see the reasoning for why Chaos hates Undead so much; Undeath denies Chaos souls, and more important Chaos places value on transcendence into the Aethyr while Vampires persist in the physical.

We also get a long overview of all five of the major Lines of Vampires from a Priest of Verena, talking about the murderous Blood Dragons, the tyrannical Carsteins, the subtle Lahmians, the bestial Strigoi, and the bugfuck crazy nerd Necharchs. It's nothing new if you've seen the NDM review, but it's a solid overview that will tide a GM over and help suggest what kinds of plots to use these Vamps for. We'll later get actual stats for a typical mid-tier Thrall of each of the Lines, too, and it's here that they introduced the first of the Blood Gifts. Like Dragons reducing the Attacks of one of their foes by 1, or Lahmians being able to mind-whammy people but only outside of combat. All five flavors of Vampire are extremely dangerous even in 'mook' form in this book, boasting 60+ WS, good Attacks, magic, lots of Wounds, etc.

We also get a very long story from Schultz about going into Sylvania after a girl who'd gone to be bride to a Von Carstein (not, somehow, realizing the guy was almost certainly a vampire. Schultz, buddy, I know there are mortal Von Carsteins but that was a dumb move), and arriving too late to stop the wedding. To celebrate their new family member, the family told him and his men they had one day to ride out of Sylvania before they'd hunt him down and feed him to the new Von Carstein. He and his men took flight and managed to make out, and he's never taken a job going to Sylvania since.

What's really interesting is the Vampires justifying themselves in their own words. They only interviewed a Carstein (Hi, Constantin, you dick), a Lahmian, and a Blood Dragon; I'm not sure why they didn't include a Strigoi and Necharch perspective. I guess only the hot Vampires get to make their own case. Constantin once again gives exactly the spiel you'd expect, saying he's a good shepherd who keeps his humans safe from far worse predators like Chaos, so what does it matter if he occasionally eats one of them? The Dragon talks about how excellent it is to have eternity to practice and learn, knowing he won't age but will instead get stronger with each passing year. The Lahmian claims that her people are trying to guide humanity into a better future, and that without her the primitive tribes of the Empire never would have formed such a cohesive and powerful modern state. She positions herself as the champion of modernity, whose guidance will help the humans achieve something magnificent, while without her people they would be consumed by Chaos or civil war yet again.

What's interesting about this is all three talk about why they 'deserve' being Vampires. Their self-descriptions are all justifications of their immense privileges. Vampires can't resist the urge to justify themselves, one way or another. They also justify themselves as better than Chaos, which has the benefit of being true. A Vampire is a horrible bastard who eats people, but at least they don't want to unmake the world.

Hams Vampires are great partly because they embrace and enjoy being what they are. Oh, they'll indulge in tragic angst and woe when it suits their melodramatic natures, but for the most part they love their incredible power and consider what they are to be a privilege. Even if they justify themselves, it's partly because they think so highly of themselves, not because they feel a moral obligation to do so or any real guilt for who they are. Like Mummies, they're still free to act differently, but the supreme self confidence and the lack of reaction to blood, plus their thirst for delicious necks tends to push them more in the megalomaniac villain direction.

And that's it! Finally, all that fluff is done. Next we'll talk about how they derived the stats for monsters, the general categories of enemies, and some of the mechanical standouts and losers among the Bestiary in how well they work in gameplay.

Also, as to the Commentators, Rikkit'tik is obviously the best. But I'm also very fond of Captain Schultz and Albrecht Kinnear. Kinnear is important because he's an example of Chaos actually doing something clever, but knowing what Chaos wants you to know about it is actually a really cool use of this whole 'in character' perspective gimmick. I like Schultz because he's your PC after they've finished a campaign and they're writing their memoirs. Also, a lot of his advice is actually solid gameplay advice. It's neat.

Next Time: Game Mechanics!

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 19:24 on Feb 28, 2019

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


Night10194 posted:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Bestiary


I'm actually reading the Bestiary along the writeup. I don't know why, because I already read the Bestiary - but what the hell, it's a great book (and a great writeup).

Re: Elves- I'm planning for all kinds of intra-elven racism and culture shock for when they get to actually meet the Asrai starting with "You Ulthuani are not Real Elves" and ending with "You mean you guys don't steal imperial children and offer them to the forest spirits? What the hell is wrong with you?"
I'm hoping to squeeze in an oblivious Bretonian knight NPC, who absolutely refuses to believe that the Fey are actual elves, and to talk the fifth player into rolling a Kislevite Ice Witch for extra culture shock and more misunderstandings.

I might be rambling about it but I'm actually pretty hyped about the campaign because A- that's the first time in YEARS I get to GM WFRP (and I hold a lot of sentiment towards the system - my frirst three years of gaming were exclusively Warhammer) and B- the first part of the campaign actually managed to 'cure' the H-Elf player of her Warhammer trauma (her introduction to the setting was a GM with a tendency to go "Lol, you get raped by 100 goblins" which made her detest fantasy RPGs in general and Warhammer in particular for the next decade).

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



...

but

but goblins don't even have

that's not a thing

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Bestiary is one of the few times I think a book written primarily in in-character fluff works. There's also a firm authorial voice and enough actual information; the one guy who is outright lying to you gets outed in his first ever entry to tell you he's doing it. Dividing it into 'common', 'scholar', and 'their own words' does a good job of giving you the impression of primary and secondary sources. And doing it that way does a good job of telling you what 'everyone' in setting knows about a monster, which actually makes writing adventures easier. When you know the common knowledge on a troll or a minotaur, you know what the Burgomeister tells the Adventurers he's hiring them to deal with. Instead of obfuscating things from the player, they're more interested in writing about a setting where a lot of what you'll get up to isn't common knowledge, and I think that's a valid approach to building up your monsters.

Plus, it gives you lots of space for your professional monster hunter or scholar to impress people by knowing exactly what they're dealing with.

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006







Grimey Drawer

Night10194 posted:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Bestiary

I'm also generally not a fan of in-universe takes on monsters, but this book has won me over. Rikkit'tik in particular is a pro, and I respect that.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Selachian posted:

I'm sure the Rockerboys-as-combat-guys is tied back to the punk aesthetic, where musicians doubled as hardass street brawlers who could kick the poo poo out of you with their Doc Martens (or at least tried to present themselves that way).
I was looking through my old Shadowrun books, and was reminded that "Rocker" was one of the sample characters Jeff Laubenstein illustrated for the 1st edition! The Rocker has mediocre combat skills, and her only gear is a leather jacket, a guitar, and a knife.

In the second edition, the Rocker and the Burned-Out Mage was dropped in favour of a Bodyguard and Combat Mage.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I dunno if tha Skaven is that ace, especially if his poisons aren't backed mechanically.

Great, now I'll have to read NDM in the archives.

GOD THING I HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD BEFORE THE PHYSICAL STARTER FOR 4E COMES OUT WHEEE

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!


Big Mad Drongo posted:

I'm also generally not a fan of in-universe takes on monsters, but this book has won me over. Rikkit'tik in particular is a pro, and I respect that.

Rikkit'tik feels like he has extremely strong potential as a supporting cast NPC in any game with a bit of mild humour.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:




Part 4b: Can’t wait to practice cyber-geology!


As mentioned earlier, every role has about ten skills that make up their career skills. Coming up with a custom role is just a matter of selecting a package of skills. CP2020 offers two examples of custom roles, but then muddies the water by giving one (Model/Actress) an undefined special ability called Pose. What does Pose do? Your guess is as good as mine! While there are some guidelines for making up new skills, I think creating new Special Abilities opens up a whole can of worms, especially when they range widely in utility. Along with their Special Ability, these are the career skills for each role:

Solo
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Handgun
  • Brawling or Martial Arts
  • Melee
  • Weapons Tech
  • Rifle
  • Athletics
  • Submachinegun
  • Stealth
Nomad
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Endurance
  • Melee
  • Rifle
  • Drive
  • Basic Tech
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Brawling
  • Athletics
Rockerboy
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Perform
  • Wardrobe & Style
  • Composition
  • Brawling
  • Play Instrument
  • Streetwise
  • Persuasion
  • Seduction
hey, remember how in section two CP2020 hinted this was a combat class? Only one combat career skill!
Netrunner
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Basic Tech
  • Education
  • System Knowledge
  • Cybertech
  • Cyberdeck Design
  • Composition
  • Electronics
  • Programming
Corporate
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Human Perception
  • Education
  • Library Search
  • Social
  • Persuasion
  • Stock Market
  • Wardrobe & Style
  • Personal Grooming
Techie
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Basic Tech
  • Cybertech
  • Teaching
  • Education
  • Electronics
  • Any other three tech skills (Gyro, Aero, Weapons, Elect. Security)
Med Tech
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Basic Tech
  • Diagnose
  • Education
  • Cryotank Operation
  • Library Search
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Zoology
  • Human Perception
Media
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Composition
  • Education
  • Persuasion
  • Human Perception
  • Social
  • Streetwise
  • Photo & Film
  • Interview
Cop
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Handgun
  • Human Perception
  • Athletics
  • Education
  • Brawling
  • Melee
  • Interrogation
  • Streetwise
Fixer
  • Awareness/Notice
  • Forgery
  • Handgun
  • Brawling
  • Melee
  • Pick Lock
  • Pick Pocket
  • Intimidate
  • Persuasion

Rather than try to write about the skills in any organized way, I’m going to do a stream of thought writing as I read through these. You might call it “Reviewpunk”

  • There are two skills for Attractiveness, only one has a defined benefit...of increasing Attractiveness. It says that better attractiveness increases chance of persuasion, except the Persuasion skill on the next page doesn’t mention attractiveness at all. There is no reason for Attr to be a stat.
  • There’s an Endurance skill, but only vaguest suggestions of when Endurance would need to be checked, and no indication of what occurs if you fail.
  • A Rockerboy with an Oratory of 6 or higher gets a +1 to CL. This is the only skill that has this sort of synergy.
  • Apparently Mike Wallace is an interrogator, while Barbara Walters is just an interviewer. Sure, whatever Mr. Journalism Undergrad :jerkbag:
  • The Leadership Skill uses Captain Kirk as an example of impossibly high leadership. Did someone forget what genre they were writing for?
  • Seduction: “In certain cases, Referees may want to average this skill with a player’s Attractiveness to get a more realistic outcome.” Oh, gently caress off!
  • The Persuasion skill increases our Hitlerwatch to 2. For some reason I remembered it being higher.
  • To find out the difference between Streetdeal and Streetwise, you have to go to the Anthropology skill! Streetwise is about knowing Street and gang customs...according to Anthropology. Funny that the Fixer doesn’t get it as a career skill then. What does Anthropology have to say about, y’know, Anthropology? “With Anthropology, you know that the customs of a N'Tanga tribesman require that a young man kill a lion in order to be accepted as an adult male.” :cripes:
  • Why the does the Netrunner have Composition as a career skill. It’s for writing “stories, articles, and songs”, it has nothing to do with what a Netrunner does in game or even day-to-day, unless creating a Timecube website is a part of every hacker story that I just wasn’t aware of.
  • I love that there’s a separate skill for pretty much every school subject, and then there’s also a skill called “Education.” And then another skill for “Expert” for specialized fields. The most hilarious is Geology. Investing 8 skill points into this skill lets you...teach high school geology! But there’s also a separate skill for Teaching :eng99:
  • One thing I haven’t mentioned is that certain skill will have a number next to them, from (1) to (4). This is a multiplier for the Improvement Points needed to raise that skill indicating that it’s harder to learn (though this has no bearing at character creation). The first place this crops up is languages. Certain language groups are easier to learn than others. Take a guess which groups are easier. It’s Western European languages. Now to be fair, there is a 1 point reduction to the multiplier when learning languages from your native tongue's language group, but we’re still left with the fact that RAW it’s easier for a native Mandarin speaker to learn English than it is to learn Cantonese.
  • Physics is the only skill that has a prerequisite, requiring a Mathematics of 4 or greater to learn. That is literally all we know about the skill
  • Systems Knowledge gives you “basic knowledge of the geography of the Net,” to the point that at 9 or above “you know the entire Net like the back of your hand” :allears:
  • It looks like there’s another skill that gives benefits to other skills: Zoology at 8 gives you a +1 to Wilderness Survival...specifically “any Wilderness Survival skills.” While there’s only one Wilderness Survival skill, at least one writer thought it was important to capture the differences between surviving in a desert, a jungle, a tundra, etc. That’s what this game is about, right?
  • There are separate skills for Fencing and Melee. Fencing only applies to swords, while Melee works with all hand-to-hand weapons. :pkmnwhy:
  • There are seven different skills for operating vehicles.. In the one nod to sanity, all these skills say that having this skill at 3 makes you a competent driver or pilot. We’ll see why this is important later.
  • At least one of the writers got tired of writing the same skill comparisons, which is why for all the gun skills the descriptions are “This lets you use such-and-such. See Handguns”. Shame he didn't say anything to the guy writing the "_____ Tech" skills.
  • Play Instrument is a Technical Skill. Which is funny because the example the book gives for how skill checks work states that Johnny Silverhand’s Tech stat is only a 3. :mmmhmm:
It’s not as bad as Palladium, but...god drat.



To improve skills or gain new ones, players earn Improvement Points (IP) points in the particular skill. It costs 10 points to learn a skill. Afterwards, the number of IP needed to raise a skill is equal to your current skill rank times 10, times any IP Multiplier for the skills that have them. There are three ways to earn IP. First is with Self-study and practice. This gets you 1 IP a day, but you can only increase your skill rank to 2. The second method is to find a teacher or sensei. This will net you 1 to 5 IPs a session, up to the average of the teacher’s rank in Teaching and the skill you want to improve. Finally, you can get IP by using the skill in gameplay. Referees are told to reward IP based on a combination of doing well, “role-playing ability” and teamwork. A player can hypothetically earn up to nine IP, but the book suggests not awarding more than six IP per gaming session (doesn’t clarify whether that’s per skill used or overall).

Let’s take a closer look at Johnny Silverhand. The example starting skill list given says that he starts with the Play Instrument skill at 5. If we flip towards the back of the book, we get a sample adventure where Johnny is an NPC. This stat block has his Play Instrument skill now at 9. Assuming 6 IP points a session, it would take 59 sessions to improve his skill to that level. Even getting the maximum points every session would still take 39 sessions.

What I’m trying to get at is that character progression in CP2020 is hosed.

There’s one last item covered in this section, and that is Reputation. As you get poo poo done in the setting, your character gets a Reputation that ranges from 1 (known to those involved in the same incident) to 10 (known worldwide). This has two effects. First, whenever they encounter someone new, that NPC rolls a d10. If they roll equal or under the PC’s Reputation, they know the PCs exploits, and this can influence their initial impression (for better or worse). The second way Reputation comes into play is with Facedowns. If two combatants are about to fight, they first make a check of Cool + Reputation + 1d10. Whoever has the lower score can either back down or take all subsequent attacks at -3 until he or she defeats this opponent once. While it’s unclear how this would work on fights with more than two combatants, it’s nice to see there actually be support for at least one non-violent way of resolving conflicts.

It’s just that there’s no interaction between this mechanic and any of the skills we just went over. Contrary to what you might expect, having a high Authority or being skilled at Intimidate doesn’t actually impact your ability to, well, intimidate.

(There’s also some stuff about negative reputation for being cowardly, but come on, when are PCs ever going to be cautious)

And that’s it for skills. We’re almost ready to go out and raise hell in the dark future. All we need now is the gear. But before I cover that section, it’s time to finally compile Jamie story from the rolls we made in part 3, see what her strengths are, and narrow down the type of gun she’s got.

Next time: I’m probably going to copy a Canon Film by sheer coincidence

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 00:56 on Mar 1, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ah, old style Skill Lists. Seduction Skills. They never change.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Let’s wind the clock back to the year 2008. Savage Worlds is still a relatively new system, and Deadlands got upgraded to it under the new Reloaded line in 2006. Although there were one to two page side encounters and free online content bridging the 2 year gap, Deadlands Reloaded was lacking a proper adventure on its own, much less sourcebooks of any kind. And when it came to published modules, the Weird West had a problematic track record of the worst of 90s metaplot. As has been observed with D&D 4th Edition’s Keep on the Shadowfell, a bad opening adventure can harm an otherwise great system in setting the wrong first impression.

Coffin Rock defied these expectations. It still holds up strong a decade later, and I ran it on three separate occasions in introducing gaming groups to Deadlands. An open-ended mystery in a creepy mining town, it skillfully weaves the setting’s mechanics and tropes that few of its predecessors matched.

My Groups: I established hooks for my 3 playthroughs for the PCs to stay in town. One group had a traveling lawman sent to town to investigate a mysterious fire at the Mayor’s house along with the Church’s new mining veins. The second group had a Huckster member of the Agency who was tasked with finding a copy of Hoyle’s Book of Games believed to be in town, while the Harrowed and Martial Artist PCs were hunting for a Triad gangster believed hiding out in town. The third group was originally passing on by, but the depressed new Mayor Hambly deputized them once the crooked Marshal was killed for the fact that there was literally nobody else suited to the job.

I’ll refer to said gaming groups as the Lawmen group, the Agency group, and the Deputies group respectively. The Lawmen group did not complete the adventure, only getting in 2 short sessions before real-world priorities disbanded the players.

Introduction

Coffin Rock is a mining town that fell on hard times. So named for the oddly-shaped rock formation peering over the nearby hills, its rich veins of copper mines were the primary source of income. When the mines dried up, Mayor Daly committed to the Sunk Cost Fallacy and continued buying up failing mines in hopes of literally striking it rich like in the old days. Over time more people left town to the point that so he began paying them just to stay in the town. He was even desperate enough to bring in Marshal Bryce, a crooked lawman on a power trip, who had little desire to improve the community. After Daly’s death his manor burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances, Bryce seemed to be the closest thing to Coffin Rock’s leader.

Things turned around when a new Christian sect known as the Brotherhood of the New Covenant settled in the area. Reverend Cheval’s sermons brought some hope and solace, but the man’s intentions were far from ideal: he is a patsy for an evil spirit known as Ahpuch feeding his delusions of gaining immortality. By binding a mountain spirit known as Tacheene, he began creating clay-like abominations as free labor to dig the mines, many of whom menace the town’s environs. Marshal Bryce, who stole the dearly departed Mayor Daly’s mine claims and was behind the manor burning down, was not too keen on sharing power with some holier-than-thou preacher. But upon hearing about the monstrous labor force made him open to working out a deal.

And this is far from the town’s only troubles. Our adventure begins with the PCs riding into town for any variety of reasons, being open-ended in whatever way the GM believes will encourage them to stay rather than high-tailing it for the hills.

What I Changed: I made Cheval and his cult Satanists in each playthrough; it wouldn’t immediately tip off the party to the Reckoner metaplot, but was something recognizable to players and fit tone-wise with the setting than an obscure Mayan death god. I also decided to keep Marshal Bryce and Reverend Cheval as enemies, but in a sort of cold war in neither of them antagonizing the other too much on account of their respective positions. I made it so that Reverend Cheval was the one who bought the deeds to the Cooked Earth Mine at a bargain price from Bryce, who naturally felt cheated at the turn of fortune.

A Twisted Town

This is a location-based adventure, meaning that there’s no particular order in which events may be triggered. Some NPCs and locations will point the party in a certain direction, but they’re not necessarily a prerequisite for triggering a scene. The gradual accumulation of clues will hopefully lead PCs to the culprit of Coffin Rock’s wrongness, which is in the Cooked Earth Mine outside of town proper.

Beyond the above, Coffin Rock is a Fear Level 3 location, slightly above the setting average of Level 2. There are several events which can raise said Fear Level in town, to a maximum of 5, and just about every location has a short entry on how the environs and the inhabitants’ behaviors change based on said Level. But persistent themes outside of town include seams of blood-red rock which become more visible as said Fear Level rises, ore stones taking on a skeletal look, and the earth itself becomes dry as dust. Mirrors and other reflective surfaces in town have a tendency to reflect people’s worst insecurities which causes many inhabitants to grow depressed. Every time a human soul dies around the area the church bell tolls on its own accord regardless of the Fear Level. Someone on Fantasy Grounds made a handy-dandy list of things which happen and change due to said mechanics:



The adventure is quick to remind the GM of the church bell during likely combat scenes. Overall this is a really cool and innovative means of showcasing one of Deadlands’ core mechanics to the GM, while also being a great mood-setter to the PCs. The changing atmosphere demonstrates how their actions (or lack thereof) in fighting the darkness can make a difference.

Note: A realm’s Fear Level is the accumulated sense of fear, hopelessness, and other negative emotions which the Reckoners (the setting’s cosmic horrors) thrive off of. The higher the Fear Level, the more dangerous a place gets, and it is easier for the Reckoners to manifest supernatural evils within the area. At Fear Level 6, a place becomes a full-on Deadland which is a blasted hellscape.



The town of Coffin Rock itself contains about 20 buildings of note, although around half of them have full-blown scenes and encounters. I’ll cover the most interesting ones here.

Heartbreak Hotel: Unless they want to camp in the mountains or hope an abandoned house is comfortable enough, Coffin Rock’s only proper inn is the Crystal River Hotel but the peeling paint makes it read “Cry a River Hotel.” The sole proprietor in this expansive, hollow place is Carl Testeverde. He’s been heartbroken ever since his wife died, and at Fear Level 5 her spirit will manifest, causing a ruckus while also verbally abusing Carl to the point that he commits suicide in two days’ time unless the PCs intervene.

A Flawed Jewel: The Jewel Theater is the town’s only dance hall and brothel of note. But the entertainment here is far from ideal. Lanterns cast a sickly red light on the dust-strewn interior whose own silk drapes hardly do little to provide any illusion of fanciness. The prostitutes are haggard, either lounging near the front for customers to come on by or boringly going through the motions of onstage shows. At Fear Level 4 the soiled doves resort to getting their clients drunk to rob them and dump them in the cemetery (alive) outside, while at Fear Level 5 the evil energy in town turns them into ghoulish cannibals who feed off of their clients.

What I Changed: I made it so that the Jewel Theater’s staff were cannibals from the get-go. Two of my full playthroughs had Lizzie Pierce, the former dancer at the local saloon, hire the PCs to retrieve her belongings which inevitably put them at odds with the owners. The Agency group heard that Lizzie had a Hoyle’s Book of Games among her belongings, while the Deputies group were in it for cold hard cash. The former group came up with a good distraction to divert attention (drunkenly fall onto the piano in back) while one of them broke into the upstairs room to retrieve said belongings while also finding some meat of dubious origin. This last part in particular prompted them to scope out the place, discovering the cannibalism via a huckster’s Hunch, and thus mount a shoot-out in the Theater. The Deputies group were more improvisational and got caught stealing the belongings, resulting in a fight against the newly-revealed ghouls.

Law and Disorder: Marshal Thomas Bryce is a sadistic, paranoid man, a poor combination for a lawman but a great excuse for him to hassle newcomer PCs in town. He’s accompanied by six deputies, and a few of the wanted posters in their office have been deliberately defaced. At Fear Level 4 the posters sometimes show the faces of the viewer, with the word “alive” struck out in red ink. A miner sees this and presumes that people in town are out to get him, and takes some hostages in an abandoned building. At Fear Level 5 Bryce and his deputies wholly embrace their darker sides and turn the office’s jail into a medieval torture chamber where they poke out people’s eyes and flense prisoners alive.

Bryce will not get involved in the various bad goings-on in town, letting the chips fall where they may unless it personally affects him or his deputies. In some cases he actively profits off of it, such as the soiled doves at the Jewel Theater who give him a cut of whatever valuables they’ve taken off of their unfortunate clients.

What I Changed: Not so much “changed” as how Bryce crossed paths with the PCs. The Agency group’s fight at the Jewel Theater drew Bryce’s attention as well as the Triad goon they were hunting for alongside him. The Marshal was on the take so he sought to get the PCs to disarm. They did not, and after killing him, the Triad guy, and 4 out of 6 deputies they found a note in Cantonese confirming the arrival of a “specialist” from Iron Dragon to deal with some trouble in the mines.

The Deputies group had a PC with the Wanted hindrance among them, so an encounter with Bryce was inevitable when he tracked them down. Said Wanted PC challenged Bryce to a duel and won; the deputies were sore losers, but fled once half their number were killed by the other PCs.

The Lawmen group were poking around in the newspaper archives, the mayor’s office, and the burned-out manor as part of their investigation. The timing of these visits caused Bryce to freak out, and he ambushed the PCs in the graveyard by getting a blackmailed miner to lead them there as detailed in the church entry below.

Fool’s Gold: Ever since the veins dried up the local assayer Ike Turnbull found himself without a job. He turned to drink and hardly spends time at the assay office anymore, hanging out in the Six Feet Under saloon. At Fear Level 4 he starts murdering miners to loot their valuables, hiding their bodies in the office basement. At Fear Level 5 murderous greed afflicts the minds of ten townsfolk who besiege the office. If Ike Turnbull dies, the corpses within his basement will rise as undead!

Wet Goods: Reverend Cheval planted an inverted cross brimming with black magic in the town’s general store, causing the place to gather dangerous levels of omnipresent mold everywhere. The owner Ray Wisely has done everything he can to halt the spread, but to no avail. Whether on their own or hired by the man, the PCs can explore the store. There are no monsters here save for insect swarms on Fear Level 5, and the mold can induce fatigue or a horrible wasting disease at Fear Level 4. The inverted cross is hidden under a patch of accumulated mold and can be found out either via Notice or certain magical spells.


What I Changed: Only the Deputies group investigated the store. I made it so that the mold ate through the floorboards, provoking Agility rolls to avoid falling through and possibly coming into contact. One of the PCs did and had to be pulled out by rope. They managed to find the hidden cross and broke it, presuming quite rightly that black magic was involved.



Unholy Communion: The Brotherhood of the New Covenant poses as a Protestant Christian denomination, blending in perfectly with the myriad other sects which dot the American frontier. A little over a dozen in number, they are all corrupt and serve the foul spirit inspiring Cheval. They are always smiling, and their Deacon Robert Plume has taken over for the Reverend’s absence. They have a ready excuse for just about every suspicious activity connected to them. For the Reverend’s absence, they claim he’s “scouring the countryside for the source of evil afflicting the town.” For the church bell ringing at odd times, the steeple is said to be drafty and there is no ladder or easy means of climbing up. The copper-clad podium if inspected closely will show that it doesn’t distort reflections which as a result makes them look a bit too perfect. The podium serves as a portal to the Cooked Earth Mine that only Reverend Cheval or the spirit Tacheene can use.

The nearby graveyard has several open pits, and if the PCs end up on Bryce’s bad side he’ll browbeat a miner into leading the PCs there so that he and his deputies can ambush them. Additionally, at Fear Level 4 Cheval will instruct his cult to dig up the corpse of Mayor Daly and reanimate him as undead. He’ll start to wander near his ruined home and will raise the Fear Level by 1 if the PCs do not intervene once the townsfolk begin to see it.

What I Changed: I never used the walking corpse hook, on account that overall it is not a difficult monster for a whole group to take on, and I preferred using the other methods of raising Fear in town. Each playthrough group visited the church at some point, but only the Agency group took the time to get a ladder and climb up to the steeple.

What’s Up, Doc? Dr. William Osgood is a dermatologist and the town’s only doctor. He’s always had an unhealthy obsession with the makeup of the human body, and as the Fear Level rises he’ll act out on these urges more often. At 4 he’ll try to disguise his mutilations as risky surgical operations, and at 5 he’ll barricade his office as he turns the place into a torture chamber to experiment on hapless patients.

Fade to Black: Jonah Thurgood is perhaps the town’s most normal inhabitant. He is more aware of the strange manifestations in town and smeared his windows with soot to avoid giving off reflections. Beyond giving the PCs information about the outlaws in the hills, he will begin building weapons at Fear Level 4. At 5 he’ll barricade the smithy and shoot anyone who tries to break in as the surrounding town goes to Hell.


Six Feet Under: The chandelier may be dirty, the stairs rickety, and the seating arrangement haphazard, but this is the only place in Coffin Rock with steady business. It’s populated by a variety of NPCs, and just like in D&D it’s a good place to visit to pick up adventuring hooks: the absinthe-addicted new Mayor Hambly has seen the spirit Tacheene in his dreams, the piano player’s bandaged-up arm is the result of Dr. Osgood’s “operation,” and the former dancer Lizzie Pierce wants someone to retrieve her belongings from the Jewel Theater after noticing her peers’...stranger behavior.

Furthermore, an Indian shaman by the name Laughs at Darkness has been leaving subtle markings around town. He hopes of attracting perceptive-enough eyes to seek him out by the large rock formation outside of town, and hopefully put an end to the region’s troubles. Via a Notice roll a PC will start seeing water stains, patterns of cracks, and other phenomena which looks like the “coffin rock” formation overshadowing town. Soon he’ll begin seeing it everywhere.

What I Changed: I had it so that PCs who sat down for a friendly game of cards with the miners could get bonuses on future social skill rolls in town and earn some money via the Gamble skill. I began the session proper in the saloon for the Agency group.

School House: All of the families with children left Coffin Rock for their sake, leaving an abandoned school house to show for it. However, there is one little girl still within town, as a spiteful wraith who feels hurt by her living peers’ abandonment and begins killing people walking the streets near the school. Once she kills three people the Fear level increases by 1, and those investigating the area will be hit by poltergeist objects and hear a little girl’s echoing laughter. Her remains are a skeleton in a cupboard, and only by giving the body a burial may the wraith be permanently dispelled.

What I Changed: Only the Deputies undertook this endeavor. I peppered the school house with some popular novels of the period, such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This was a way of showing the party what made for good readin’ out on the frontier besides the Bible. For those who could read, at least.

Newspaper Office: This abandoned building’s archives can showcase the history of Coffin Rock if investigated. However, falling through the rotten floorboards will awaken several swarms of mice who dart out into town and get everywhere. The hordes of these annoying, diseased varmints put many townsfolk at their wit’s end, raising the Fear Level by 1. The town can be rid of said mice if 5 swarms are found and destroyed.


Run to the Hills

Whether following up on clues about the Cooked Earth Mine or other areas in the hills, the PCs will eventually venture around outside Coffin Rock proper. There are three potential encounters for them to find here.

The first is Shelly Pearl Daly, who came to Coffin Rock too late to find it under the thumb of Marshal Bryce. Knowing that her father would never voluntarily give any deeds to such a man, she had to retreat after a violent confrontation. She’s assembled an impromptu gang of sorts of Coffin Rock’s women who suffered the depredations of the Marshal and his deputies. The PCs will first encounter her in a fight with a blood man, a monster created by Reverend Cheval baptizing victims in boiling mud. If they help her, they can learn her side of the story and possibly recruit her gang to retaliate against Bryce and any other bad guys.

What I Changed: Two out of three groups came into contact with Shelly Pearl at some point. The Lawmen while planning to go up to the mine, and the Deputies while on patrol outside the town. For the Agency group I ran the other 2 encounters for them instead.

The second encounter is with a group of outlaws from Kansas lead by Hank “Mayhem” Archer. They’re laying low in a hidden cave, but will eventually make a raid on Coffin Rock when the Fear Level hits 4. If Bryce is alive the outlaws and outlaws-in-lawmens-clothing will exchange fire before Hank’s men retreat. If Bryce is at any point killed then the outlaws will ride into town and raise a ruckus, raising the Fear Level by 1 if the PCs don’t take care of matters. They’re all wanted men with a total combined bounty of $2,900! Not too shabby!

What I Changed: For the Agency group, I made it so that the outlaws were Iron Dragon muscle. Kang made a deal with Marshal Bryce to lay down track near Coffin Rock, something the original mayor would not have agreed to do. Due to Bryce’s hostility with Cheval’s church, he wanted to use Kang’s Triad to help him drive the cult out of town. Their initial assault failed, so they’re now waiting on a “specialist” skilled in dealing with supernatural evils.

The Martial Artist PC disguised himself as said “specialist” and visited the gangsters alone, successfully tricking them into revealing their employer’s plans for the region. The party killed them off later.

Finally, there are groups of undead miners roaming about the hills, having risen from manitous (evil spirit servants of the Reckoners) possessing their corpses. At some point a zombie horde will rush to Coffin Rock due to the concentration of fresh brains there, raising the Fear Level by 1.

PCs poking around the giant coffin-shaped outcropping requires a Vigor roll to avoid gaining a level of Fatigue, but it houses an entrance to a kiva. Waiting outside is the Indian shaman Laughs at Darkness, who offers the hospitality of smoking with him in his home. He explains how there’s an unseen spiritual battle being waged, and the PCs are designated champions to fight the great evil plaguing the land. Those who accept his offer of a test will cause the shaman to throw hallucinogenic herbs into the fire. They will see the spirit Tacheene who will explain his plight, along with visions of people being tossed into pots of boiling mud only to arise as abominations. Laughs at Darkness will be gone by the time the PCs come to, never to be seen again.

If they refuse the test, he’ll give them fetishes which will teleport them into Coffin Rock’s church, in the middle of a group of shocked and angry cultists.

What I Changed: I had it so that Laughs at Darkness was being menaced by a group of zombies when the PCs stumbled upon him. I also timed the undead horde to sweep into town after teleporting out of the Cooked Earth Mine, having been drawn to town by the rituals conducted by Cheval’s cult as a means of raising the stakes.

Although a different ethnicity than the standard trope, Laughs at Darkness felt way too much like a certain stereotypical mystical minority stock character, so I gave him more personality. First, I noticed that a kiva was Hopi in origin, and the man was far from home up in Colorado. I gave him a real Hopi name, Alo, and made it so that he was en route to the Ghost Dance gathering in Sioux territory as an emissary for his tribe. I researched that the Hopi do not have shamans or priests in the technical sense as every member of the tribe is trained in spiritual matters, so I reflavored his Arcane Background as him having a preternatural “knack” for sensing the unseen. Along with his gallows humor laughter, made him a bit of an odd bird among his home village. Originally Laughs at Darkness would creepily cackle constantly, so I made his sense of humor more like Joker’s from Mass Effect, cracking wise even as the PCs are gunning down zombies.

Alo and an entourage of fellow Hopi travelers spotted Cheval conducting his hellish baptisms, causing the cultists to attack, with him the only survivor. Sensing that something was greatly amiss, Alo began creating the various signs around town in hopes of recruiting more people to stop Cheval’s cult. In both the Agency and Deputies group he accompanied the party as an Allied character under the players’ control. His original stat block (which would never see the light of day otherwise) was a super-powerful shaman with a host of powers, but I toned him down to a level in line with the PCs specializing in defensive and buffing magic.


Dust to Dust

This section covers the Cooked Earth Mine itself. The place is a ways out of town, and its entrance is a huge open rift in the earth with a creepy red glow and indecipherable whispers (heard on a Notice roll) emanating out of it. A raise on the roll (4 or more above the Target Number) makes it sound like the voices are coming from the mine, begging for help. A makeshift elevator has been rigged with a trap by the cultists to drop rocks from above on whoever tries to use the device.

Further on down, the source of the glow reveals itself as crimson veins criss-crossing the tunnels. The souls of miners whose bodies were turned into blood men will manifest as ghostly apparitions, telling the PCs their tales of woe. They are unable to get close to the spawning pit, but if the PCs choose to act as vessels for the ghosts they may be able to get close and get their original bodies back.

What I Changed: There’s no way in hell my gaming groups would let ghosts possess them, especially not in a horror game; they’d think it was a trap. Instead I had it so that said ghosts were in the bodies of the blood men within the mine, and when slain the souls of the miners materialize, thanking the PCs for freeing them from their earthly torment before going on to the afterlife proper.

The main fight of the mine takes place in a hot chamber with a pit full of boiling mud. The spirit Tacheene is paralyzed in a transparent sphere of magical energy, his open wounds pouring magma-like mud into the pit below. Reverend Cheval will be ordering two blood men to push a hostage into the pit by the time the PCs reach the chamber, and he’ll angrily order the monsters to attack while he jumps into the pit itself and teleports back to the church. Statwise the blood men are slow and dumb yet strong creatures which can set a target on fire with a melee attack, and can do the same but at short range by blasting mud from their bodies.

Once the blood men are dealt with, Tacheene will be freed and thank the PCs for rescuing him. Weakened, he can only use his powers to stabilize the portal in the pit enough for the party to safely pass through. It reveals a dizzying array of images of the various buildings around town, including the local church where Cheval and the cultists are now conducting a ritual to summon a demon. Alas the portal is not stable enough to send the PCs all to one place, so it randomly sends them individually to various locations within town one hour later.

What I Changed: The whole “cutscene time” of the villain performing an action and then escaping without the party able to do anything felt a bit cheesy. In the Agency and Deputies playthroughs I had the PCs fight Reverend Cheval in addition to the blood men in the mines. In this case his second-in-command, Deacon Plume, is the one conducting the ritual back at the church. I also incorporated the zombie horde encounter as a climactic moment, as the ambient evil magic of the ritual drew them to Coffin Rock. Instead of splitting the party I had them materialize in a random area in town, rolling 1d20 and comparing the number to the listed locations on the map. The Deputies group encountered a crazed Dr. Osgood, while the Agency group ended up in the burned mayor’s manor and had to deal with unstable foundations when fighting the zombies.



The final battle of this adventure takes place in a church, with Reverend Cheval chanting in a blasphemous, inhuman tongue while reading from a cursed tome. Cheval, who has the stats of an offensive Black Magician and some leadership edges, is accompanied by 3 mook Cultists per PC armed only with daggers. Cheval will summon a demon in 5 rounds unless the PCs wound him or disarm him of the book. If summoned, the party will have a very tough fight against a strong demon immune to non-holy weapons, but if Cheval is killed said demon will vanish back to Hell along with the stained glass windows dramatically exploding for AoE damage.

What I Changed: Both groups began at Seasoned rank and had multiple spellcasters with offensive powers, so I had the demon materialize automatically.

Freeing Tacheene and killing the cultists will cause things to change for the better in Coffin Rock. For one, Tacheene’s freedom will put an end to the blood men along with the creepy blood-red veins on the land. Mirrors no longer give distorted imagery, and if Bryce is still alive he and his gang will flee town. The true land deeds in the Mayor’s office which went unnoticed by Bryce will be found, and Shelly Pearl will inherit her father’s legacy. She proves a competent new mayor, and PCs will be treated well by the town for as long as they stay. Finally, new copper veins start popping up in the Cooked Earth Mine. And to top it all off, PCs can lower the Fear Level by using the Tale-Telling mechanic, a means of spreading hope by newspaper, oral folklore, or other means of getting the word out.

*but could be uncovered by the PCs during play and possibly used against him

Final Thoughts: Coffin Rock does a lot of things right, even more so than the four major Reckoner Series of Deadlands’ major antagonists. It’s open-ended, has multiple means of resolution and gathering clues, and makes heavy use of setting tropes and mechanics. Most residents have either a minor task or information for characters to follow up on, and there’s a good mixture of mundane and supernatural dangers that the latter doesn’t feel too in your face save at higher Fear Levels.

The only major weaknesses are that the adventure may be “sped up” if the PCs go the Cooked Earth Mine too early, and that an encounter with Laughs at Darkness infodumps a fair bit of the mystery. Given that the writers expect the PCs to stay in town for about a month, this seems a rather slow rate for the adventure; my playthroughs took place over several in-game days.

Join us next time as we cover Back East: the South, where we cross the Mississippi to set foot in the Land of Dixie!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Bestiary

Mechanics!

So, first let's talk about some general trends in creature design from a mechanically standpoint. First off, most creatures in WHFRP2e are based on their wargaming counterpart. When you see a Gor with a TB of 4, SB of 3, WS of 40 something? That's because a TT Gor is WS 4, S 3, T 4. They then add in ones digits based on how good or bad they think the thing should be at that stat. So a Gor, who is a pretty decent fighter, has a 40 WS, while a Bestigor (a better Gor, like the name says) has a 45, even though they're both WS 4 on TT. Generally, for every Wound something has on TT, it has 10+X, where X is whatever variation a designer though seemed good for this critter. So to go back to our Gor buddy, he's got 12 (like most starting PCs) while the Bestigor's got 14 (like most PCs who just finished Career 1). If you need an extra badass monster to be a boss fight, there are monster 'careers' that serve as buff packages; take as much or as little as you want and apply it to the monster's base profile.

Surprisingly, given Warhammer's general reputation on balancing issues, this actually works surprisingly well as mechanical guidance for designing monsters. Most of the monsters in the book are the sort of thing a party can eventually deal with using the combat system if they have to. You'll probably be running for the hills at the sight of a pissed off dragon for a long time, and trying to avoid head-on fights with even 'generic' vampires, but you'll get there.

To demonstrate this, and because I feel a mechanical failing of the book is its focus on Johan Schmidt, Average Schmuck, I'm going to call in two of the PCs from recent campaigns I've been in as a different sort of mechanical benchmark. One of them is a heavily focused Bretonnian monster hunter and Questing Knight, who will be showing off what a PC at the absolute edge of the PC power curve can do and helping demonstrate why I was wrong in my initial assessment and the Virtue of Heroism is actually broken as hell (in an extremely metal way). Joan of Lyonesse is a Questing Knight who has completed her Questing Knight Career and isn't sure what the hell is going to happen next. She enjoys hunting giant monsters with a two handed sword, trying to be a perfect hedge knight so that the Lady will overlook her gender, and secretly hates fighting on horseback.

She's not just a third tier PC. She's a third tier PC in an especially powerful class who has completed the career, coming in at a whopping 77% WS, 33% BS (Bretonnian), 58% Str, 59% T, 62% Agi, Int 45%, WP 58%, Fel 60%, with 20 Wounds, 3 Fate, the Lucky perk for an extra Fortune a day, 3 attacks, and a suit of plate and a greatsword. She's got a full array of combat talents, like Strike Mighty, Strike to Injure, and Sturdy to bear her armor. And she's got the Virtue of Giles d'Breton himself, Heroism. Which causes any attack that does over 10 Wounds to instantly cause a critical of a value equivalent to how high it got over 10. Joan is basically as badass as a PC fighter can get; she's in one of the strongest fighting tracks in the game, she's got decent rolled stats (Standouts in WS and Agi, everything else was average-ish at base), she's got a unique and extremely powerful Knightly Virtue and she's finished a 3rd tier career. She's here to show off that someone with all this can kill pretty much anything in this book by themselves; I'd be confident throwing her at almost anything that didn't take magic to kill short of a dragon.

Our other guest is Vinthariel, Vinny to his friends. An elven gangster who was totally ex-Lothern Sea Guard (actually officially, ever since he did a shady hit for the Elf CIA), he's a much less optimized character who meandered around being a criminal and serving as muscle for a bunch of wizard grad students. Also got kicked in the dick a bunch by a Master Assassin but showed that rat what for. At WS 59%, BS 58% (He's not a great shot for an elf, so sue him), S 45%, T 51%, Agi 55%, Int 24% (lol), WP 49% and Fel 47%, with 17 Wounds and 3 Fate, plus 3 attacks, a longbow, rapid reload, a two handed sword, and a bunch of combat talents. Vinny's no turbo-fucker like Joan, but he's a much more reasonable shot at a combat PC. He was enough to serve as muscle for an entire campaign, after all, and he was definitely a cerifiable badass. He'll be our mid-high combatant, for showing off just how far someone who's more 'average' and less specialized can go when we get to specific monster examples.

These two will only be coming up when we talk about some really stand-out monsters, but I feel like leaving everything to poor Johan means you don't get a sense of what leveled up characters are going to do to the contents of this book. It's not hyperbole to say Vinny and Joan kicked a lot of rear end; both of them are actual PCs who have seen a lot of actual play, hence using them as so extra examples for comparing monster stats against. Most of the monsters in this book can reasonably be defeated by a higher level party, and a surprising amount of the book can be soloed by a sufficiently badass PC. Fate and Fury make a huge difference, and specialized fighters really do become stupendously good killing machines.

Now, let's round this out with a general discussion of the types of monsters you run into in the Old World Bestiary before we get on to the standouts.

Fodder are something like a Goblin or Zombie. Anything with a Slaughter Margin below Average (usually defined by stuff with a WS under 30, SB or TB under 3, only a few Wounds, or whatever) is going to get totally dumpstered by PCs. Remember that Johan doesn't even take into account Fate, and Fate is a huge advantage in favor of a PC. Anything like this isn't even a real threat to non-combat PCs.

Mooks are stuff like Orc Boys, Skaven Clanrats, and Beastmen. These usually have stats about on par with the rolled stats of a starting fighter, and only 1 attack. They also usually only have 9-14 Wounds and some poor equipment, if anything. They're actually pretty dangerous at low levels. Johan will kick their asses one on one, but he's a trained warrior with some good gear. Joan and Vinny don't even blink at cutting down bunches of these guys. They're usually basic infantry from the TT game and serve as your usual serious enemies throughout a campaign.

Elites are stuff like Bestigors, Black Orcs or Chaos Warriors. These guys have actual armor, which matters a lot. They often have some good talents and combat tricks, and skills in the 45-55 range. These are the monsters that serve as boss fights for an early party, spicing up a fight with a bunch of normal Beastmen or something by tossing in lone Chaos Warrior or armored Bestigor commanding them. They usually have a Slaughter Margin of Challenging, meaning Johan can take them some of the time. Again, Joan and Vinny murder these guys, though they aren't quite 'easy' enemies for Vinny; he could probably take 2-3 Chaos Warriors without too much of a problem, but more would start to break through and mess him up.

Animals/Mounts are stuff like Giant Wolves, who aren't really all that dangerous but adding an extra combatant that makes their rider move a lot faster doesn't making a fight any easier. A WS 25 Goblin that does Damage 2 is puny. A WS 25% Goblin that does Damage 2 and is Outnumbering you because his WS 36% Giant Wolf is trying to do Damage 3 to you is way more of a problem for a low level PC. Johan can probably still take most foes on basic mounts, but he'll have a tougher time of it. Even Joan and Vinny have to be a little wary of enemies who can outmaneuver them or just overwhelm them on sheer numbers; DR 10 stops a lot, but it doesn't stop everything, and enough lovely enemies with +20% to hit can wear down even heroic level characters.

Monsters are a special case. Most Monsters are really big enemies with a lot of attacks, good damage, very high Wounds, but little or no armor, few active defenses, and low Weapon Skill. This is stuff like Giants, who have 5 attacks at Damage 7 Impact (watch out for that tree) but only 33% WS. A lot of this kind of foe has Unstoppable Blows, too, a monster (and Blood Dragon, and Strigoi) ability that gives -30% to WS to Parry their attacks because of their immense size and strength. These guys are serious threats, but more vulnerable than they seem unless they get lucky. Johan is probably going to go down to bad luck and a swing of a tree against a Giant, but Joan stands a good chance of killing one in a single turn (lots of Wounds intentionally don't protect from Heroism) and Vinny can probably handle one if he gets the drop on it or a chance to shoot it first. It should be noted here, WHFRP2e does not have any Size rules. The huge size of an enemy like a Giant or Griffon is symbolized by their big wounds, big damage, and especially their big attacks. How dangerous Monsters are varies widely, but most of them will go down surprisingly quickly to a determined mid tier party.

Demons are all offense all the time, except Plaguebearers, who are tougher and slower. Most Demons are primarily a problem due to forcing a Fear check when they first come into view, and due to how much damage they can do. They're kind of glass cannons, though, especially if you can hit them with magic. They also share the unique trait of outright dying if they fail a WP test on a round when they don't manage to hurt anyone in melee but take damage themselves. This is the most severe form of Daemonic Instability any of the Warhammer lines have, and it makes Demons much more beatable by lower level parties than they'd normally be. Still, Bloodletters and Daemonettes are trouble for Johan, while Joan and Vinny can both crush them.

Those are the general categories of enemies you'll run into in the book, but I'll be talking in more detail about the big mechanical outliers like Treemen, Dragons, Hydras, etc. I'll also be going into detail about some of the really iconic enemies like Chaos Warriors, because I think the Chaos Warrior is an excellent benchmark and early miniboss for combat characters to compare themselves against. In general the actual mechanical balance of the monsters is surprisingly acceptable for them having been converted minis stats. I think Monsters can be a bit of paper tiger, but I kind of like it that way; your players often get nervous when you plonk down a Hydra, then they feel awesome when they bring it down anyway.

Next Time: Johan, Joan, and Vinny vs. The World

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 06:13 on Mar 1, 2019

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




What a nice little Deadlands adventure, and aside from the oddly mischaracterized Hopi shaman there's no racist content!
I'm sure everything is looking up!
BRING ON THE PAIN, BRING ON THE SHAME SHANE

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Night10194 posted:

Ah, old style Skill Lists. Seduction Skills. They never change.

YOU CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT KINDS OF GUNS-BLAZING, MONOMOLECURAL KNIFE-EDGE CYBER ADVENTURES ARE BORN FROM Pilot (dirigible) SKILL!

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I've always been a big fan of statting up a whole town to base your characters out of, although this does run the risk of the PCs burning it down in the first adventure (and not even because they're dicks or anything, just sometimes stuff happens). And of course it's up to the GM to make the players want to stick around.

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


JcDent posted:

YOU CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT KINDS OF GUNS-BLAZING, MONOMOLECURAL KNIFE-EDGE CYBER ADVENTURES ARE BORN FROM Pilot (dirigible) SKILL!

Pilot (Vect. Thrust Vehicle) is no joke. We've had three characters die from the lack of it (one in the hovercar and two right under it).

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!


With regards to WFRP balancing, it feels like shades of the WH40k RPG stuff, where there's a bit of a tendency towards glass cannons at higher levels, and where not being hit at all ends up being the only thing that can really save you(or NPC's/monsters). Is that a correct way to read your post?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



PurpleXVI posted:

With regards to WFRP balancing, it feels like shades of the WH40k RPG stuff, where there's a bit of a tendency towards glass cannons at higher levels, and where not being hit at all ends up being the only thing that can really save you(or NPC's/monsters). Is that a correct way to read your post?

Going full armor is actually viable and suggested. A fully armored high-tier warrior with a sword and shield is your defensive powerhouse - they get a free parry each turn, which makes them hard to hit, and their armor soaks up the worst of enemy attacks, allowing them to survive poo poo they really shouldn't be able to. You still don't want to get hit a lot, but being able to tank one or two big hits is a big part of what makes knights so terrifying.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


RedSnapper posted:

Pilot (Vect. Thrust Vehicle) is no joke. We've had three characters die from the lack of it (one in the hovercar and two right under it).

Yes, but dirgible

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

With regards to WFRP balancing, it feels like shades of the WH40k RPG stuff, where there's a bit of a tendency towards glass cannons at higher levels, and where not being hit at all ends up being the only thing that can really save you(or NPC's/monsters). Is that a correct way to read your post?

Not at all. Joan and Vinny both have a very good chance of having even serious monsters bounce off them at DR 10. Armor and toughness are actually extremely useful, and combined with enemies missing some swings and you dodging a couple others, the odd blow that gets through won't kill you.

Take an enemy that's Damage 6, which is a pretty strong enemy (Heck, it's how much damage Joan does, and how much a Hydra does). That means they do 7-16 damage. Joan/Vinny are both serious fighters with good toughness and armor. That means ending up taking 0-6 damage a hit. Which means both of them have the HP to survive 3 or so max damage hits. It's actually really hard to get one-shotted in WHFRP2e and toughness/DR scales well with level. This is actually why Joan can afford to use a zweihander instead of a sword and shield, too; she can get by with only one Dodge a turn because she's tough as nails with 20 Wounds and plenty of DR.

When I was playing Joan, I got hosed up pretty often without going down. Same for Vinny; he tanked a lot of damage for the squishy wizards in addition to dodging a lot of it. When I mention a Master Assassin kicking him in the dick, that was a duel, where he took multiple hits from an equally powerful high level melee fighter, on average taking 2 wounds a hit. Heavy armor isn't usually negated, and heavy armor and toughness will see you through a lot of poo poo. You just prefer to dodge what you can. A high skill character will block some of the incoming damage, tank some of it, and have the enemy miss for the rest, but high tier PCs are actually quite survivable. I'll be showing that off when we get to the monsters.

E: The two things that are really different from 40kRP are A: Damage doesn't scale out past what the dice can randomize most of the time (Damage 7 Impact like a Giant is about as high as it gets outside of Greater Demons) and B: Very few things negate armor, so your DR is usually consistent. This is because armor is set up to be closer to how it was in the TT game in 2e. A chance stuff bounces off you, and if it doesn't, you still mitigate some damage. If you have equal Toughness to the enemy's Damage, Heavy Armor is effectively 50-50 odds you bounce their attack even after they're through all your defenses. Also, nothing rolls multiple dice, Impact just means they roll one die twice and take the best for damage. Impact is also why Joan uses a zweihander, so she gets 2 Fury chances (and thus probably 2 Heroism chances) per swing. It's worth trading a free Parry for that and the zweihander/longsword is the traditional weapon of the extremely awesome Questing Knight models anyway.

Also, Joan is uniquely one-shotty and playing her is what told me that Virtue of Heroism shouldn't be permitted outside of either single player games or games where the group and GM have agreed they're okay with the Bretonnian being the biggest badass in the party, because that instant-crit chance comes up way more often than you'd think and is absolutely brutal. Glass cannons are also more common among enemies; those Monsters can drop pretty fast, especially with a whole party whaling on them. The pile of wounds doesn't last long under a determined assault by PCs who are doing 1-10 damage a swing.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 13:21 on Mar 1, 2019

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


JcDent posted:

Yes, but dirgible

With that at least the poor sods on the ground would've had enough time to run away and not get crushed. Then they'd have the chance to die in the explosion with the rest of the group!
(at 120% mortality it was a pretty lethal campaign. Not quite Vampire levels, but still)

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



JcDent posted:

Yes, but dirgible

Jokes on you, something like 40% of air traffic in Cyberpunk 2020 is blimps, supposedly due to restrictions in avgas due to the Middle Eastern Meltdown. Then again, the another 40% is VTOLs and vector-thrust aerodynes, which are pure gas-guzzlers.

The reality is that CP2020 is a Blade Runner take-off and you don't see fixed-wing aircraft in that movie, just spinners and blimps.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


They touch on it later on, but the primary fuel for most vehicles in CP2020 is an alcohol called CHOOH (pron. "chew").

This was the first RPG book I ever bought, and, sure, it's got a *lot* of rough spots regarding the rules, but I have a massive soft spot for Cyberpunk 2020. (Cyberpunk V.2.0.3.0., though? I will not speak of that.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Old World Bestiary

Proof of a Hero

It's time to see how well the characters fare against some of the signature beasts and terrifying threats of the Old World, as a way of covering some of the standout monsters and enemies. For purposes of these tests, I'll be reporting the number of rounds, hits, etc each of the played out fights took. And, of course, telling you the actual stats of what Joan, Vinny, and Johan are trying to take on. As you might imagine, Johan is not going to be having a good time in this post. For purposes of testing, Joan is using her greatsword exclusively, Vinny has his sword and shield, great weapon, and longbow (and will usually start with a round of missile fire before switching), and Johan has his sword and shield and halberd as options.

First up as a warm-up is the Chaos Warrior. At WS 51, BS 35, S 44, T 43, Agi 39, they've got a really good combat stat spread. They can also potentially have mutations that make them meaner, but their real signature is their heavy armor: They come with AV5. As it's Chaos Armor, it doesn't slow them down at all, but they also lack Dodge, somehow. Thus a Chaos Warrior's toughness is going to vary a lot based on if they have a Great Weapon/Flail or Hand Weapon and Shield. A Hand Weapon/Shield Chaos Warrior can Parry at 61%, after all; that's good odds. With an impressive damage reduction of 9, even if these guys are 'technically' line infantry, they're highly skilled, they hit hard, and they're the benchmark for serious warriors in the setting. You know you're a protagonist when you can take on an eight foot hellviking and win alone. They only get 1 attack standard, though, and have about 14 Wounds.

Johan faces a Warrior using a Great Weapon and does it with his Halberd. His only real chance is that he swings twice to the Warrior's one, and he's got an active defense while the Warrior doesn't. However, in the simulated combat, Sigmar is with Johan! It takes 8 rounds of the two exchanging blows, during which Johan takes 3 hits, one for 5 Wounds, one for 4, and one that luckily bounces off his helmet (that could have been a kill shot), and he delivers 5 hits to the Warrior, one for 4 Wounds, one for 4 Wounds, one for 1 Wound, one for 3 Wounds, and one for 4 Wounds, which inflicts Critical 2. That last blow to the head Stuns the Warrior for 9 Rounds, which should be more than enough time for Johan to kill him. As you see, even Johan Schmidt, 1st tier fighter with only a little EXP and gear, can potentially beat a Warrior. It was a near thing, though, and he got pretty lucky on his Impact damage rolls.

Vinny, by contrast, opens his fight up with elven archery, Furies on his first arrow, delivers 20-8=12 Wounds, misses the next shot, then hits with the third for 5 more Wounds, and Strike to Injure applies on ranged attacks. Vinny, uh, just puts two arrows into the Warrior's eye-slits like the gangster Legolas he is. Being an Outlaw Chief, Vinny's bow is a really big deal even if he's not the best shot for an elf. Damage 4 AP 1 is effectively Damage 5, and 3 attacks the Warrior can't answer or Dodge or whatever to start is big. This is going to be a theme for Vinny. Though he got lucky as hell with that first shot. You also see here a demonstration of why Fury is so powerful for PCs. You were probably already through their DR when you Furied. Now you're through and doing d10 damage, period. With the d10 still exploding.

Joan wins Init and, using Fortune to reroll one miss, hits the Warrior 3 times for Damage 6 Impact in Round 1. 5, 6, and 4 Wounds. Critical 1, +1 for Strike to Injure, doing Crit 2 and instantly stunning him just as Johan did at the end of his fight. She then puts her sword through the guy's skull on the ground, so Khorne can't have it. As you can see, what's a huge, 8 round boss-duel for Johan is a mook for Joan and Vinny. Johan should still be proud of himself, though. He killed a Chaos Warrior legit with no Fate or Fortune. Joan and Vinny also would've had a tougher time with a Warrior with a shield, and they both did really well on their damage rolls. Sure, Joan was rerolling hers with Impact, but still got 8, 9, and 7. She easily could have bounced off. Same for Vinny's arrows. Warriors are so tough that even a max tier fighter needs to put all three swings into them and get lucky on damage to put them down in one turn. I focus on the Chaos Warrior so because they're both an iconic enemy, and one of my favorite mid-level foes mechanically.

So the Warrior lost all 3 rounds handily. Let's try something scary. A Hydra. The Hydra is meant to be only a step below a dragon in terms of enemies. They do Damage 6 Impact, they have 5 attacks, 'only' 42% WS, and 5 TB with 3 Armor. And more importantly, 50 Wounds. They can also do an AoE fire breath attack at Damage 4 instead of meleeing, but that's not going to matter much in a duel. This is one of the most powerful individual monsters in the book.

Johan actually gets lucky, making his Terror test to fight the thing in the first place, then gets two hits in with his halberd, and even Furies on the second one for 22-8=14 Wounds, actually significantly injuring a Hydra. He inflicts 17 Wounds total in the first turn. This doesn't matter at all, as the Hydra then promptly kills the hell out of him on its return attacks, hitting twice for 9 and 7 Wounds and taking him out.

Vinny barely scratches it with his bow for 2. Reasoning that it's got Unstoppable, he uses his two-hander for this one. He gets in a good 8 Wounds with a Fury on his first swing, and bounces off on the second, missing his third. He ends up fighting it for 5 rounds, delivering 2 Furies in the process, one that did 8 Wounds, one that did 15. He eventually loses right at the finish line, going down after taking 6 hits himself, but he hit the creature 8 times, inflicting a total of 36 wounds. If he'd gotten a little luckier on his damage rolls he could have taken it down. He still had a chance, even if it wasn't a great one, primarily due to his slightly better DR (10 vs. 8 actually makes a big difference) and ability to use Fortune and Fury. If he'd had a few more Wounds or about 10 more points of WS he probably could have won.

Joan steps up to prove why Virtue of Heroism is broken as hell, landing 3 blows in round 1 and getting 7 Wounds, 5 Wounds, and then a Fury for 11 Wounds. With Strike to Injure, that's Crit 2 vs. the Hydra despite all its wound points. She does poorly on the critical roll, though, and only damages its armor on its body. She takes 7 Wounds in return, 3, 4 and 0, from 3 hits when it gets lucky and hits 4 times, with her Dodging 1. She delivers another 3 hits (using 1 Fortune to reroll a miss) and 14 more Wounds. The Hydra's hosed up and can't take another round of that, Heroism or no. It gets lucky and hits her 3 times, she Dodges 1, takes another 3 Wounds total. Then kills it on the next round with 3 hits (using Fortune to reroll a miss) and a second Fury. A Greatsword character delivering 3 hits a turn has a huge chance of one of those dice coming up a 10. And that's even without her Heroism crit really doing much. Her 20 or so WS on Vinny was really decisive; she didn't miss at all once Fortune came in.

Notice also how much of a difference Fortune makes. And how much Fury can swing a fight. And those are PC only advantages. A lot of monsters that 'seem' unbeatable will go down to a party of PCs whaling on them and fishing for 10s on damage, rerolling to-hit and dodge rolls, etc. The Hydra's relatively poor WS also hurts it a lot, but it was still hitting a fair amount; 42% odds aren't bad when you get to roll 5 times. You also see the value of Impact. When the d10 damage die is determining not only if you Fury, but if you get through their DR and do damage at all, it really matters that you get to reroll it.

But you all know you want to see the baddest motherfucker of them all take on these heroes. No giant lizard this, but rather a giant, angry tree. The Treeman is one of only 2 or 3 enemies in the book I'm not confident Joan can handle. He's got WS 81% somehow, unlike most monsters. He's got 6 SB, 7 TB, and 3 armor. He's got 46 Wounds and 4 Attacks. Everything he does is Impact. Treebeard is going to gently caress you up.

Simulated Johan actually survived a single round of combat with him! And even hit him! For 0 damage. Somehow, Treebeard missed him 3 of 4 and Johan dodged. And then got smashed with 3 attacks for 21 wounds, total. Treebeard goes HOOM.

Vinny doesn't do much better, getting in 4 wounds with 3 arrows before the angry tree man is on him, Dodging the Charge, failing to wound him back as Treebeard pulls out Lightning Parry just to shame him, and then delivers 13 Wounds in round 1 of full melee. Vinny's sword gets in 6 wounds on round 3, before he's smashed like a bug by the 81% accurate, 4 attack return fire. Treebeard, once again, goes HOOM.

Alright, Joan, you're up, and you hate evil trees. You also have the Virtue of Heroism, and deliver a 25-10=15 Wound blow on the first swing. Which does Critical 6. Which, uh, kills Treebeard in one blow. Joan hates that goddamn hellforest. Let's try that again, now that she's so succinctly demoed why Virtue of Heroism is broken as hell. She still gets a Fury on Round 1, but only delivers 10 Wounds so her Virtue doesn't trigger. Her other two blows, uh, bounce off. Treebeard is annoyed, and delivers 3 hits (one Dodged) for 9 Wounds. Joan's counter-attack Furies him for 8, finally actually misses a swing despite Fortune, and then bounces. She then takes 4 hits in one turn, ends up eating Critical 4, and is knocked out. Treebeard, still annoyed at being one-shotted because of a poorly balanced implementation of the Table Top Killing Blow rule in the first duel, goes HOOM.

Treemen are one of the most dangerous enemies in the game. You may be noticing characters with Impact Fury an awful lot. This is because they have a 19% chance to trigger a Fury Chance every swing, if I remember my math right on the reroll. 100 possible outcomes, 19 of them include at least one 10. I use Joan partly to rescind my earlier statement about Heroism during the Knights of the Grail review: Do not allow a PC Heroism unless you're going for a really heroic feeling campaign; it's the most powerful Bret Virtue by far. The others are still good, but they don't let a character with a Greatsword potentially one-shot any foe in the game. The blow that killed Treebeard there would have one-shot a Dragon, as well. Or a Vampire Lord. Or a Chaos Lord. If you want a PC who has a chance against anything in the world and your whole group is comfortable with it, use Heroism. But be warned it's powerful as hell.

I picked the Chaos Warrior, Hydra, and Treeman to show off a few things. One, the Chaos Warrior is a great example of an enemy that starts out a boss and transitions to a mook as you go up in level. They're still dangerous and take focused fire, even from someone like Joan or Vinny, and they still hit for Damage 5 with good accuracy and skill. If you don't have Tome of Corruption, you can just toss one of the Monster careers on one to make a quick and dirty Chaos Champion boss fight, too. But they're still beatable in an epic duel by a little guy like Johan and you can throw a normal one at a starting party and expect them to win if they have a real fighter among them. They really work great as an enemy and a benchmark.

The Hydra was there to show off an especially powerful monster, but also how their low accuracy hinders them. Sure, he had a lot of swings, but even then he was only doing 0-6 damage to Joan and Vinny. Even the 'lesser' skilled combatant was able to hold his own against this thing. A full 2nd tier party (possibly with some mage support) can beat even fearsome beasts like this. Only Johan really got murdered.

The Treeman was there to show how those assumptions change when you no longer have poor accuracy mitigating the enemy's incoming damage some. Treebeard overwhelms someone's number of active defenses, he hits like a truck, and he's insanely accurate. He's also weirdly out of sync with his TT stats; I don't think Treemen were WS8. He also had the good grace to demo for me how Heroism is broken, but I thought he was an important part of showing off why most big monsters are 'good damage, high attacks, mediocre WS'. In a duel with a human-like opponent, they almost never get more than 3 attacks; a sword and shield character (or a two-handed character that activates Lightning Parry, giving up an attack to Parry right away) can fairly reliably try to answer two of those. Even a heavy armor and no shield character can usually hang for a couple rounds. Duels between skilled combatants usually last long enough for something to intervene or for an arc to develop for the fight.

Next time, rather than simulating these combats against mechanical benchmark characters, I'll just be going into some of the outliers and standouts among the monsters and talking about more of the trends in monster design and what it means for the combat system and the relative power of PCs. Still, now you've seen for yourself: Even Vinny was able to make a dent in a Hydra. Imagine what a party his level does. Especially when one of his buddies was a Bright Wizard, who are absolutely the highest damage ranged character type in the game. High tier parties can see some really epic fights with powerful monsters and big groups of dangerous enemies.

Next Time: OWB and what it means for Hams Combat

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:19 on Mar 1, 2019

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




You know Heroism doesn't quite work like that, right?

Heroism makes you Crit instead of getting a Fury when you roll a 10. It also explicitly changes how Impact weapons work - instead of two chances to Fury, they increase the Crit damage you do by 1. Grail Heroism gives you bonus damage equal to your target's armor, as long as you did enough damage to get even 1 point through.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

You know Heroism doesn't quite work like that, right?

Heroism makes you Crit instead of getting a Fury when you roll a 10. It also explicitly changes how Impact weapons work - instead of two chances to Fury, they increase the Crit damage you do by 1. Grail Heroism gives you bonus damage equal to your target's armor, as long as you did enough damage to get even 1 point through.

The text of Virtue of Heroism is "If your Damage Total on a melee attack is higher than 10, you automatically inflict a Critical Hit, even if the target has not been reduced to 0 Wounds. The value of the critical is the amount by which the damage you inflicted exceeds 10, so +1 for 11 points, or +4 for 14 points. If you would inflict a more serious Critical according to the normal rules, you do so. You may not use this ability with a magic weapon."

There's nothing about Impact in the ability text at all and I don't know where you got that part; perhaps you have a later printing where they changed it? The ability is very strong, so I could see it having been rebalanced. You are correct about Grail Heroism, but there's nothing on Impact or an interaction with Fury in Heroism. It's literally 'Inflict a Crit of Wounds Done-10 if you do over 10 Wounds in one blow'.

E: Ah, they did change it in an updated book. It's...still crazy strong. I only had the older version to go off of and a friend pointed out the update in the books sent out with the WFRP2e bundle when he checked his. What I posted was accurate to the text I had, though, and the text we used when I was playing her. I definitely see why they would try to cut down on crit fishing with that ability, but even the changed version is insanely powerful since Joan would just be inflicting Crit 6 with it every time she rolled a 10 on damage and cutting people in half anyway. Thank you for making me aware of the update, though. It's funny, in general that new printing would make it much better for a Heroism Knight to stick to a sword and shield because +1 crit value isn't that worthwhile if you have a 5 SB like Joan. Especially if Strike to Injure applies on that crit, which I've never been clear if it does.

Honestly, I think the new version is stronger, since it's mostly 'you have a 10% chance to get good odds of crippling/killing the enemy on every blow, regardless of their defenses.' When I played Joan, I killed a Bloodthirster in a duel. It took me 3 Furies to get one with high enough power to actually cut through and cut that thing down. With this version, the first one would've done it. To anything. For reference, Crit 6 at minimum demolishes a limb and leaves the enemy helpless or stuns them for d10 rounds, and only has a 10% chance of doing that. 90% of the time it'll mortally wound or kill your enemy in one.

I can't stop coming back to how weird this change is. I'm guessing it was an attempt to stop Grail Heroism from making Heroism so crazy (since a Grail Hero could probably Crit without even getting Fury), but it didn't address the core of why Heroism is so crazy, which is that anything that can outright bypass the Wounds system tends to be really unbalancing to combat. As for myself, when I wrote a nerfed version of Heroism to bring it back in line, I changed it to 'you no longer make a second WS test to Confirm Fury' as my own interpretation of how to make TT Killing Blow work better within the normal system framework.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 04:38 on Mar 2, 2019

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:




Interlude 1: Cyborg Pirate

(April, 198x)

: Hey, Roger! It’s Alberto! Did I catch you at a bad time?

: I always have time for a fellow filmmaker, Alberto. What can I do for you?

: My buddy Tito just dropped a script off with me, and I think it could be our breakout hit! How’d you like to be a part of something special?

: Well, I’m only producing 5 movies at the moment, I can certainly make room for the right project. Give me your pitch.

: It’s
The Three Musketeers meets The Road Warrior...but on boats!

: That sounds like an interesting combination, Alberto. Please continue.

: The year is 2010, and the Caribbean has descended into chaos. Pirates are back, but with speedboats, machine guns and robot arms. We have three orphans in Santa Domingo join one of these pirate fleets, the Sea Wraiths, eventually becoming a ruthless team of raiders. But they then discover that the fleet they joined are part of a grand conspiracy to take over the Caribbean, and decide to make their own destiny!

: Why do they leave these pirates?

: No one likes being lied to! Kids these days are in to being rebellious and all.

: Why not stop the conspiracy?

: That’s for the sequel.

: I see you are thinking ahead. As you were saying.

(Later in the conversation)

: The third of our heroes is the girl, who at first seems shy and detached, but is the best gunner in the seven seas. She cares for no one except her friends and the old sea dog that taught her how to use a rifle. She has a big gun fight with the instructor at the climax.

: I think I may have some contracts with Cameron Mitchell to use him for a weekend.

: Perfect!

: So this woman,

: Her name is Jamie

: Jamie...that doesn’t sound very Spanish.

: We can workshop it.

: True. But as I was saying, is Jamie going to be the love interest of one of of the previous two characters?

: I was thinking something more tragic. After escaping the pirates in the end, a careless accident takes the life of Ramon. Marco blames Jamie and the two break up.

: I like it, an unexpected twist. Plus we can spend a little extra on Ramon’s actor without having to bring him back for a sequel.

: Oh and Jamie’s parents are actually the leaders of the Sea Wraiths.

: Really? Does that come into play during the film?

: Not really. Again, make it a big reveal in the second film. We’ll be like
Star Wars!

: I’m liking your gumption, Alberto.

: I take it I got you on board, friend?

: Alberto, I’ve got an open weekend coming up in 2 weeks. How about I fly down to Rome with my lawyer and we hammer out the details.

: Magnifico! How much money do you think we need?

: I’d say we can get this boat sailing for just under 8 million USD.

: Roger, you are a miracle worker!

(4 months later)

: Roger, I profusely apologize for the contract blow up

: I appreciate it, but there’s no sense crying over spilled milk. We can just have Jamie’s stunt double take over the role.

: So do we just leave unmentioned the sudden change in looks?

: We can add a line about her getting a cyber disease the year before. The show must go on!

(1 year later)

: I talked to our investors, and they’re on board for doing
Cyborg Pirates 2. However, Marco’s actor got picked up for a Steven Spielberg production.

: I guess the movie is about Jamie then. I’ll call Tito and see if he can do a rewrite.

: Maybe we can make it about learning wrestling? I got a leftover contract from one of WWF wrestlers.

: You mean like Andre?

: More like one of the Bushwackers

: I’m sure he’ll do fine.



Name: Jamie “El Pistola”
Role: Solo
Ethnicity (native language): Hispanic (Spanish)

Stats (60 pts)
INT: 10, REF: 10, CL: 3, TECH: 6, LK: 3,
MA: 5, ATT: 3, EMP: 10( ), BOD(save): 10,
Run: 15, Leap: 3.75, Lift: 400, BTM: -4,

Career Skills (40):
-Combat Reflexes: 10
-Awareness/Notice: 6
-Handgun: 4
-Wrestling: 3
-Melee
-Weaponsmith:
-Rifle: 10
-Athletics
-Submachinegun
-Stealth: 7

Pick-up Skills (20)
-English: 6
-Streetwise: 3
-Swimming: 3
-Pilot (Boat): 4
-Demolitions: 4

Next Time: I'd buy that for a Eurobuck!

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 21:38 on Mar 2, 2019

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Wait a minute.

Isn't initiative in CP2020 Reflex-based?

And you picked the one career that has a career skill that actively boosts initiative?

And capped that and the also-Reflex-based Rifles out?

I take everything I said back. CP2020 isn't "a system with a lot of rough edges," it's loving busted.

EDIT: and of *course* you max out Body and Empathy. Good Lord.

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Barudak
May 7, 2007



Live by the crunch, die by the crunch

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