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LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

One thing that's very easy to miss is that (almost) all Exsurgents have Psi-Gamma and Psi-Epsilon level abilities. This makes them frustrating to play against because the most useful of those are save-or-mindfuck abilities, but it does make the Exsurgents formidable enemies. Each hit from one of those whipping tentacles can be 1d10+4 Stress and Trauma or -30 to all your actions, strip the character of the ability to use a combat skill, or mind-control them to shoot their friends. In addition to the GM-fiat "turn off all electronics in the area" Psi-Epsilon ability. In addition to the touch effect of trying to infect you with an Exsurgent virus.

And if you have Watts-MacLeod yourself, the range increases from Touch to Close so you're definitely being reprogrammed to shoot your friends first.

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wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


LatwPIAT posted:

One thing that's very easy to miss is that (almost) all Exsurgents have Psi-Gamma and Psi-Epsilon level abilities. This makes them frustrating to play against because the most useful of those are save-or-mindfuck abilities, but it does make the Exsurgents formidable enemies. Each hit from one of those whipping tentacles can be 1d10+4 Stress and Trauma or -30 to all your actions, strip the character of the ability to use a combat skill, or mind-control them to shoot their friends. In addition to the GM-fiat "turn off all electronics in the area" Psi-Epsilon ability. In addition to the touch effect of trying to infect you with an Exsurgent virus.

And if you have Watts-MacLeod yourself, the range increases from Touch to Close so you're definitely being reprogrammed to shoot your friends first.

So what you're saying is that Eclipse Phase is the no fun zone.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Razakai posted:

After 2 excellent spheres, we come to one that is... less so. Barroom is an odd sphere that focuses on a mix of using improvised weapons and buffing yourself via getting absolutely shitfaced. If you want to be Jason Bourne killing guys with a rolled up magazine, look no further.
"Drunken Master" paths in roleplaying games are always utterly pointless dogshit ripped off from gimmicky fighting game characters that were themselves ripping off Drunken Master. They usually come with convoluted subsystems where you get drunk, which gives you penalties but also bonuses, improvised weapon bonuses that don't matter because they're still worse than using whatever weapon you carry, and often some capstone ability that gives you a lovely underpowered breath weapon.

I just remember Drunken Master stuff as one of those lovely cliches from the D20 boom era that wouldn't loving die. It's like how the first thing everyone homebrewed for their favourite cyberpunk game was dual-wielding and power armor.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

wdarkk posted:

So what you're saying is that Eclipse Phase is the no fun zone.

Well no, but actually yes.

As a Call of Cthulhu-style climatic eldritch abomination that you're genuinely not supposed to have a decent chance against (which is the inspiration for these: the Whipper is an ill-tempered Elder Thing and the Creeper is a Shoggoth) they're decent. Short-ranged so you might have a chance to run away, but likely to kill you with no recourse very, very fast if you get close.

Outside of that specific role, they're not going to be very fun.

StratGoatCom
Aug 6, 2019

Our security is guaranteed by being able to melt the eyeballs of any other forum's denizens at 15 minutes notice




LatwPIAT posted:

Well no, but actually yes.

As a Call of Cthulhu-style climatic eldritch abomination that you're genuinely not supposed to have a decent chance against (which is the inspiration for these: the Whipper is an ill-tempered Elder Thing and the Creeper is a Shoggoth) they're decent. Short-ranged so you might have a chance to run away, but likely to kill you with no recourse very, very fast if you get close.

Outside of that specific role, they're not going to be very fun.

Though if you're clever, you can give them a bad day with any number of environmental owns - like in X-threats, some whippers got rekt when someone put down some super future lubricant and sent them careening into each other, with obvious effect given their blade-tentacles.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon
the wolf must hunt

Understanding the importance of hunting to werewolves is the game's key GM advice. Everything werewolves do is filtered through their instinctive hunting urge. Werewolves don't investigate crime scenes - they hunt clues. Werewolves don't fight intruders - they hunt them down. Werewolves don't go shopping - they hunt for what they need at the store. Literally - the game's example of trying to make this mindset clear is a pack going grocery shopping. They decide what they need, research strengths and weaknesses, find prices and locations. They note the pressure points and personalities of vendors, split up and move through the grocery store. If possible they will isolate and work on salespeople to find the ones willing to give a better price. They'll pick the one that demonstrates least resistance and focus in, bargaining until they get what they want. At last, they will depart with their prey (the thing they wanted) in tow, leaving the poor salesperson with a smaller profit and a nagging sense that they barely escaped alive. No matter what, a GM should make the players feel like they are hunting. Werewolves aren't human, and they frame their world in the lens of the hunt.

We begin with a series of six campaign pitches. They're meant to give GMs a framework on which to hang their own ideas, so they're a bit bare-bones and focus on themes, goals and what a pack might need to do to 'win' the scenario. Each is meant to be highly portable, able to fit wherever your pack's territory is. First up: Turf Wars. This is your stripped down, basic Werewolf game. Your pack has to defend its territory against all intruders. No werewolf pack is merely entitled to territory - you fight for what is yours. The best packs know the strengths and weaknesses of their territory, understand its needs and ensures they are provided for. Strong territory means strong pack, but strength also means jealousy. Spirits grow tired of sitting in Shadow, eating diluted Essence rather than drinking from the firehose. They wield their Influences to reinforce their own interests and find weaknesses in the Gauntlet where they can slip through. You might allow some limited incursion if you believe that it's the best way to handle spirits, as long as it doesn't damage the territory itself. However, few packs are willing to tolerate a buildup of murder, disease or despair spirits in their borders, no matter how theoretically well-behaved.

In Flesh, other werewolves also might envy your success. A smart pack will build alliances and relations with neighbors...but between werewolves, these friendships can only last until someone scents weakness. Ultimately, your pack is the only real group you can trust. At some point, the benefits of trying to seize some of your territory will outweigh the costs. Hell, it's true in reverse - you should understand your neighbors' territories and their strengths and weaknesses if possible. You may need to exert pressure on them to ease them off your own land, or you may want to redirect unwanted intruders away from your territory and onto theirs. A problem for your neighbors can easily replace a problem for you. Sure, you may see this as a betrayal...but other packs may not agree. 'Fair play' is an idea that all packs must decide on their own. Understanding your neighbors' territory also lets you know when something goes horribly wrong - because when your neighbors fall, you understand where their attackers may come for you from next.

A Turf Wars campaign works best, we are told, when the GM already has a clear antagonist in mind. The PCs might know about them at the start, such as a greedy real estate developer trying to drive them out with help from corrupt cops or a powerful local spirit demanding they pay tribute, or might not and might need to investigate and identify the problem. For example, they might just know the cops are cracking down on local gangs, including members of their pack, or might only know that a lot of spirits are fleeing across the Gauntlet to avoid some form of spirit persecution and gain some freedom. For enemies from this book, Granny Stitch is called out as a potential enemy for this, or a distraction from their true enemy. The Wasp Hosts also make for a nice, straightforward foe, with their tendency to build a hive and kill a lot of people - some of whom may have been part of your pack.

Victory, obviously, comes from hunting and defeating the foe. For a shorter game, this is straightforward enough - isolate the prey, tear away their defenses, go for the kill. Once the prey surrenders or is slain, you win and have defended your territory, rendering it safe until the next big challenge. Hooray! For a longer or more complex game, the initial prey might just be the first part of a larger web of foes. Your real estate developer is dead now, but he answered to a larger conglomerate, and they're not giving up on your land. Why? Well, it could just be frustration, sunk costs and refusal to lose, or it might be that something there is more important than the pack realizes. The death of a spirit tyrant can easily leave a power vacuum that the rest of its court will rush to fill, loving up local resonance and potentially leading to the creation of dangerous magath as spirits seek out non-traditional prey in pursuit of power. The cycle of identify threat -> confront threat -> eliminate threat is the core gameplay loop of a lot of Werewolf games.

Give and Take, on the other hand, is Werewolf-as-political game. Werewolves may not be human, but they are raised by humans, and they are cooperative social animals from two sides - wolf and human. They instinctively need a pack, and they are naturally suspicious of those outside their pack. When the hunt needs more than any one pack can give, however, they adapt. No one pack can do everything, and some things need cooperation or at least not getting into each others' way, and this is why protectorates form. They are united for, quite literally, protection - to protect packs from threats or each other, often, as they formalize territory and territorial challenges to avoid constant, tiring vigilance against other packs. They may also form to protect something greater. There are not a lot of things that Forsaken packs will coordinate with each other to protect, but they do exist, and protectorates formed around them tend to develop their own rituals and customs that create a sense of unity or identity even between disparate packs.

Whatever the reason is, internal or external, a protectorate always needs careful negotiations to keep the peace. That work can bring fame and Renown to the packs that do it, and scorn to the packs that can't manage it. It also means that there's two different sets of challenges here. The first is based on why the protectorate exists, either to stop enemies or to protect opportunities, and the second is about the balancing act of keeping it around. Underneath all of this is still the need to hunt, and every pack is going to view their duties to the protectorate, if they have any, through that lens. The reason the protectorate exists should be clear and known. If everyone can't agree on the purpose, it's not going to stay together at all. For your pack to be able to do politics, they have to be able to remind everyone of why they're working together in the first place. It won't make them any more willing to take a bad deal, but it can keep them at the negotiating table.

The worst dangers may well be from inside the protectorate, however. There's always going to be someone looking to take advantage of everyone else or finding ways to betray the rest. This might mean Bale Hounds eroding things from within or just a pack that doesn't think it's getting a fair deal. It's also important to remember that packs include Wolf-Bloods and humans as well, and even if the werewolves are happy with a deal, their supporters may not be. Human threats are a frequent reason for werewolves to focus on political or indirect approaches. Sure, it's usually easy to kill a given human, but that tends to just unite humans in pursuit of the killer, bringing in more problems for everyone. The Church of Lupus et Fidelis may also notice werewolves revealing themselves, and that's a threat to your will and personal agency thanks to their ability to redirect your hunting.

To 'win' in this campaign frame is to keep the protectorate together until it's no longer needed. When the enemy finally arrives, you might lead the combined packs to victory in battle, or you might get everyone to track and hunt the prey through their territories, coordinating searches and pinning them down at last. Maybe you slowly root out the corruption festering away in the protectorate packs and expose the traitors, then lead the hunt to kill them. The key, in all cases, should be the web of alliances the PCs have maintained, the favors they owe and oaths they swear. Your allies might not like each other, may not want to work with everyone, but they stick with it because they value the PCs and their decisions.

Next time: Canaries in a Coal Mine, A Mixed Blessing

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!


You know, I feel like something that would have massively improved Eclipse Phase would have been if they cribbed more from Alastair Reynolds. Specifically, stealing the Melding Plague to influence the Exsurgent Virus.

In the RS universe, the Melding Plague makes nanotech go rampant, eating and incorporating everything around it, going berserk, occasionally creating something still useable or chimeric(in one recorded case), but usually just destroying it utterly given time. (this was a bad thing for much of humanity since they'd gotten to the point where entire buildings were made from active nanotech components, reshaping themselves to their residents' needs and desires, softening themselves pre-emptively against impacts if someone fell, that sort of thing)

If the Exsurgent Virus had required active nanotech to be a threat, it would A) have given a reason to not just have nanobots everywhere, B) made exsurgent attacks less save-or-die if you weren't full of nanomagic and C) give exsurgents an actual attack plan other than "lol lets just lick them all so they get infected B)" focused around reaching and infecting a hab's nanofabricators. While giving conservative factions an actual point, a reason to resort to older and more secure tech, and to resultingly also have a more classic economy other than "we're villaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains lol."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon
wolf must hunt the

Canaries in a Coal Mine has a bit more complex a setup - there a pack that had a territory, defended it well, managed it well...and then they vanished. No one has any idea where they went. The PC pack has been handed the territory by everyone else! They're sure you'll do great. Absolutely certain. And...yeah, it's a set-up, no one actually has your best interests in mind. Until the last pack's disappearance is resolved, however, no one wants anyone powerful to have the territory in case it turns out to contain something really stupidly dangerous that'll gently caress things up for everyone. Better, then, to send in a bunch of young and inexperienced werewolves to investigate and find out what the hell happened. At worst, they can be expendable bait to lure out the monster.

Now, your challenges in a Canaries campaign are simple - you have to establish yourselves, deal with the mystery and deal with the territory's resources. The place is wealthy - lots of mundane resources, plenty of Loci, defensible boundaries. You can establish yourselves a claim it, and you're mostly supported in this by the local packs. However, you have to make sure you don't expose weakness to those packs or give them too many answers - because once they have all their answers, they're going to want that territory back. While mystery remains a threat, they're content to watch and wait. Once it's solved, that fight will be coming. Plus, well, there's the mystery itself. If whatever killed the last pack is still there, you're definitely its first new targets. No one really thinks you can take it out, but you might weaken it before it goes after anyone else - that's what the other packs are thinking. If you die without giving any answers...well, there's always inexperienced packs looking for land, right? You may not even have been the first to take the job.

The book notes that an idigam such as Anaba'hi might work well for this scenario, requiring skill, patience and wit to uncover and reveal. The last pack clearly got too close to it for comfort and it wiped them out. Perhaps it has kept their bodies hidden in its territory or has warped them into servants it can command now. Whatever the case, victory over this scenario requires solving three main issues, two of which the pack will know about for sure. First, the possibility that whatever vanished the last pack is still present, and second, that the werewolves on the sidelines will be swooping in to take the place once it's been cleared. The third, less obvious problem is upkeep. The territory must be cared for. The last pack established a balance, but without them, things are going to go bad. Each system they set up that fails will cascade into more failures if not stopped. This is basically a horror movie scenario, but with werewolves instead of the Scooby Doo gang. You know something's wrong, but not what, and as you follow the clues, dread will build as threads start to unravel and lead to the truth. Everything will go wrong at once near the end, as the truth is uncovered and must be dealt with, along with the outside packs waiting for just this chance.

A Mixed Blessing is a campaign dealing heavily with Luna and spirits and faith. Luna is a fickle deity, their desires sent out in symbolic, heavily metaphorical dreams, when she bothers to tell anyone at all. The Forsaken have faith that the messages brought by the Lunes are true. However, at this point, every Cahalith in the region has been having the same dreams - prophetic visions that have lasted several nights. A new lunar cycle is starting, and Luna will bring new werewolves to her service. They will be known by their Auspices, which will not correspond to the moon phase during their First Change. These wolves are to be gathered together and formed into a pack. There is no detail beyond that. How will the PCs of this Blessed Pack know what Luna wants them to even do?

Obviously, being part of a prophesied superpack means your life won't be boring or safe. The cause the PCs are gathered for might be obvious or might not. Even when there is no guidance, though, everyone will be watching them. The other werewolves will watch and judge, as Luna clearly wants them to do. If she wanted the pack to go unnoticed, she wouldn't have shouted about them to everyone nearby. While the PCs have many allies, everyone is very wary about being caught in Luna's madness as well. They'll have no fewer foes trying to stop them, too. The spirit world will be divided on whether to help or harm, and while the Pure may say they ignore the Moon, they're not going to let one of her plans go off without interfering. Why might this be happening? It might be because the Geryo are reappearing - Wolf's first children might be enough to draw Luna's attention, especially the elder horrors like Quattuor or Zahakeryon. They are no tribe's favored prey and come from a time before werewolves even existed, after all. Their existence threatens Luna's order, and...well, honestly, even the Pure Firstborn have little interest in allowing the Geryo to exist and threaten the Shadow, their broods or the sanctity of the hunt. A really big one is the kind of existential threat that could unite Pure and Forsaken at least temporarily.

This scenario is a chosen-one story, a heroic journey for the PCs. They are foretold by the stars, given wise counsel by elders, but ultimately they are the only ones that can save the world. Still, it'd be unwise to forget that Luna is the most fickle of spirits, and she is not above using werewolves to amuse herself. The PCs are going to change the world - that much is clear and obvious. When Luna says she's specially marked people for greatness, everyone takes notice. The PCs must discover their purpose and then decide whether to go along with it or not. Yes, the spirit-gods may have set the board and rules, but it's up to the PCs if and how they will play the game set before them. They might oppose Luna's will, or they might not. The most important thing to keep in mind is that, whether it feels like victory or defeat, the PCs' own choices should be paramount. This is prophesy, but it's up to them how to interpret it and how to achieve or oppose it. The PCs should change the world, and should have to live with how they've done so.

Next time: Pangaea Reborn, Wolfless

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


PurpleXVI posted:

You know, I feel like something that would have massively improved Eclipse Phase would have been if they cribbed more from Alastair Reynolds. Specifically, stealing the Melding Plague to influence the Exsurgent Virus.

In the RS universe, the Melding Plague makes nanotech go rampant, eating and incorporating everything around it, going berserk, occasionally creating something still useable or chimeric(in one recorded case), but usually just destroying it utterly given time. (this was a bad thing for much of humanity since they'd gotten to the point where entire buildings were made from active nanotech components, reshaping themselves to their residents' needs and desires, softening themselves pre-emptively against impacts if someone fell, that sort of thing)

If the Exsurgent Virus had required active nanotech to be a threat, it would A) have given a reason to not just have nanobots everywhere, B) made exsurgent attacks less save-or-die if you weren't full of nanomagic and C) give exsurgents an actual attack plan other than "lol lets just lick them all so they get infected B)" focused around reaching and infecting a hab's nanofabricators. While giving conservative factions an actual point, a reason to resort to older and more secure tech, and to resultingly also have a more classic economy other than "we're villaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains lol."

EP struggles with the technoprogressive paradox of not wanting to admit when more advanced technology has just made us more miserable, in the net. Even humanity being hoisted by its own AI petard is written off by "alien god AI, whatcha gonna do? lol" or hypercorp infugee indentureship being written off by "when capitalism ends, so will the bad stuff."

Ronwayne fucked around with this message at 20:16 on Sep 9, 2019

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!


Ronwayne posted:

EP struggles with the technoprogressive paradox of not wanting to admit when more advanced technology has just made us more miserable, in the net. Even humanity being hoisted by its own AI petard is written off by "alien god AI, whatcha gonna do? lol" or hypercorp infugee indentureship being written off by "when capitalism ends, so will the bad stuff."

EP struggles with, uh, a lot of things. But yes, also that.

AI God only got made evil by bad alien flu, nanotech disassemblers would never make us sad, the people with the coolest memes and best tech are obviously the superior society even if it relies on not getting voted out the airlock as its only fundament.

Every time I think about it, it tempts me with the boondoggle of doing a major houserule rewrite to unfuck their multitude of terrible system and fluff decisions even though I know no one but me will ever give a gently caress.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon
must hunt the wolf

Pangaea Reborn is a mid-and-post-apocalyptic campaign. The Pure have achieved their ultimate aim. They won. The Gauntlet was torn open, releasing the world of Spirit into the world of Flesh. This is the endgame, though it is not what the Pure expected it to be. The world is shattered. The Gauntlet is gone in almost all of the world, thanks to millions of spirits ripping through it at once. The world is ruled by spiritual Influence now, as the spirits living in an area shape it to their whim and hunger. Boundaries shift jarringly, as antithetical spirits no longer keep to areas seperated by natural physical boundaries and orderly resonance. Nothing will ever be the same again. The physical world isn't completely vanished - the Forsaken managed to hold some stuff together as pockets of resistance, isolated territories where the Gauntlet still stands and Shadow is locked away from Flesh. These are the last bastions of free humanity and those few spirits that oppose the new order. The Forsaken lost - but they have not lost hope.

The threat is, uh, the world's dying. The spirits that pushed the Pure to act never really thought much about the consequences of their desires, and the world as it currently exists is not a friendly one towards any number of spirits. Computers spirits, car spirits and other spirits of human-made things are going to have a ton of trouble living without human society, and emotion-spirits of anything but despair or madness are not doing much better. Magath are common threats in this world, as desperate spirits turn to new food sources for lack of appropriate Essence. Spirits that thrive on chaos and change feast on weaker spirits, never stopping to think about how their vast amount of new prey might affect them.

The Pure tribes are less cohesive now. The Fire-Touched serve their spirit-masters with the zeal of the brainwashed cultists they are, using that servitude to blind themselves to the world's state. The Ivory Claws are desperately trying to use their bloodline refinements to raise up a new Wolf, but their genepool is dwindling by the day thanks to the deadliness of the new world. The Predator Kings have declared that this world was always their plan, for sure, while avoiding the parts of the new world where even they would have trouble being the apex predators. In this confusion, Luna's Bane the Moon-Shunned may well attempt their long-planned murder of Moon. They would be able to use the carnage to delve into the deepest parts of the Shadow, seeking out Luna's throat to end her forever. Without the Warden Moon's help as the queen of boundaries, it'd be impossible to ever fix the world - so you'd better stop that.

Victory in this scenario could be just surviving. Creating an oasis of normalcy in a world of spiritual chaos is a victory, especially maintaining a Gauntlet in an environment pushing to collapse it. Fighting off the inevitable waves of hungry spirits, angry Pure and anything else crawling out of the spirit-ruled world is going to complicate the job, of course. On a grander scale, though, the PCs might aim to fix the world. This could be done, with sufficiently grand quests. The Warden Moon lives, and while Moon is alive, the Lunes help the Forsaken. Moon is probably key to restoring the balance and boundaries, but even with their aid, it will take huge rituals and powerful fetishes to restore the Gauntlet, either spontaneously across the entire world or piecemeal with heavy defense of each gain. In this time, it may even be a good idea to seek alliance with the Spider Hosts, who despise the shattered Gauntlet as much if not more than werewolves, though they have almost certainly suffered heavy losses and will be suspicious of any werewolf approaching them.

Wolfless is a game that isn't about the werewolves. A pack is more than its wolves, and in most packs, Wolf-Bloods and humans take on a number of roles that the werewolves are just not suited for. They keep things running in the mundane world, interact with their counterparts in other packs or even just make sure everyone gets their bills paid. For some packs, the werewolves are only called on for a hunt, while others don't even have werewolves. The world is dangerous, and if all of a pack's werewolves die, the rest has to carry on without them as best they can. In this scenario, the PCs are Wolf-Bloods or normal humans who belong to a pack. The humans may or may not know that werewolves are real; if they don't, they still know they're with the pack, even if they can't precisely say why. What they know for sure is that things are out there that want them gone, and there's no one else around to protect them, so they have to do it themselves.

Non-werewolves have a lot of problems that werewolves ignore. Keeping the utilities paid is not a glamorous job, but unless a pack lives out in the woods, it's essential. The humans and Wolf-Bloods of a pack tend to notice the pack's more mundane problems well before the werewolves of the pack will. When a reporter notices a spike in crime stats around a pack's territory and comes for a story, it's often these people who deal with the problem - it's quieter when a bunch of humans make a reporter feel happy and give them a non-story than it is when the reporter gets killed by wolves. Talking and/or money make the problem go away easier than terror. In such a game, the werewolves of a pack may actually end up being one of its greatest problems. If the wolves get wind of an issue, everyone knows how they'll handle it: hunt something. Werewolves can be subtle, can misdirect or protect, but all too often they see a problem and decide it is a nail for the one really big hammer in their toolkit: doing a murder. Humans are tough and think they control the world, and the real problem is that once the terror of the hunt is over, once the Lunacy ends and the mental wounds scab, the humans are back.

Winning a Wolfless scenario is pretty similar to winning, say, Turf Wars or any of the other scenarios. Keep the territory strong, identify threats, handle and eliminate them. Indeed, a Wolfless game might be a fun alternating thing with your main game, taking on the role of the Wolf-Bloods and humans that handle the issues the werewolves can't or don't. In just about all the past scenarios, there are roles for these folks to do big, important stuff. A pack is everyone in it.

We end out with a section on resonance and the important details of the world that a Werewolf GM can easily forget about or be less experienced in handling. Most notably, this is about the sensory and setting details that are key to the hunt, because werewolves hunt a lot. A lot. They use both sides of the Gauntlet for their hunting, and while the geography of Flesh and Shadow are not exact mirrors, they usually match up decently enough that many say that Shadow reflects Flesh. Broadly speaking, the geography of Shadow maps to the important resonances coming from Flesh, but tends to change far less rapidly than humans change the physical world. You can use this for detail stuff. A hospital in Flesh may also be a hospital in Shadow. The hospital may itself be a spirit, luring in smaller spirits of disease, death and life so it can trap them in its door-maw and eat them, or it might be unawakened ephemera - that is to say, just a building full of other spirits in their own predatory ecosystem. It might be a mix of both - big spirits may well allow smaller spirits to live inside them symbiotically if that makes life easier for it.

Alternatively, the GM might decide the hospital hasn't been around long enough to be reflected in Shadow. In this case, its shadow reflection is open parkland that has not yet noticed it was bought up by developers. The spirits of youthful enthusiasm and animals still run across the area, but they grow hungrier and hungrier as the flow of resonance from the Flesh fades. They grow sick as the spirits of illness surround and encroach on their territory, drawn in by the new resonances flowing out of the hospital built on those grounds.

Resonance and Influence, as a note, need not be the same categories. They are similar, but it can help to see resonance as a broad concept of which Influences are facets. A typical, unremarkable suburban home inhabited by a typical, unremarkable family is likely to have a resonance of 'home' or 'family.' It might include things like 'stasis' or 'love' or 'frustration' as resonances, but you don't need to list all that out because of how broad the meaning of 'home' can be. None of the spirits in the area need to have 'home' as an Influence, though they certainly could. Structural or building spirits might have Influences covering strength, unity or inflexibility. Emotion spirits tend to have Influences pertaining to their specialty emotion, and will try to use these to encourage their preferred mood among the family and fight back other emotional Influence. Electrical elementals or tool spirits may stick to particular locations, guarding their food supply, and will largely ignore all the emotion spirits. While they all have widely differing tastes and natures, they all find 'home' to be a palatable and safe resonance to eat.

A number of tables are provided giving examples of what kind of resonances, spirits and physical inhabitants can be found in various areas. These are super useful for a Werewolf GM, because it can be really hard to figure out what common stuff you're going to run into on the fly. These tables cover climate (which you'll run into even in human-controlled areas and which will influence entire regions excepting parts specifically designed to keep the local climate out), natural geographic features (which are more local and tend to be heavily based on nature and local flora and fauna, though not entirely, and ranging in size from 'a pond' to 'a cliff' to 'a swamp'), urban settings (similar to natural features in area of impact but typically more dynamic due to both the speed with which humans change things and the more potent emotional and symbolic resonances; these can range from 'an airport' to 'a park' to 'an office building' to 'a highway' so they vary wildly in size), and zoning regions (well, not quite zoning, but an area humans think of as commercial draws in different kinds of spirits than a gated community, a suburb, or an area everyone knows is rundown or crime-ridden). Human expectation and purpose have a shockingly strong influence on the Shadow.

After the tables are brief descriptors of what kind of things might different resonances may contribute to the spiritual feel of an area and how spirits of these concepts want to make people act or feel. There's a similar section on hunting styles, so that you can take the descriptors of Hunter's Aspect and have some idea how an NPC might interpret their actions through the lens of that kind of hunt, along with tables showing common hunting styles by Auspice and Tribe. Less useful, those, but still good for figuring out NPC wolves on the fly.

After that, the book is basically over. We've got the Conditions Appendix that is mandatory for every nWoD book (not too big this time, only 2.5 pages) and a one-page quick reference for making Pure characters.

The End.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Mors Rattus posted:

A number of tables are provided giving examples of what kind of resonances, spirits and physical inhabitants can be found in various areas. These are super useful for a Werewolf GM, because it can be really hard to figure out what common stuff you're going to run into on the fly. These tables cover climate (which you'll run into even in human-controlled areas and which will influence entire regions excepting parts specifically designed to keep the local climate out), natural geographic features (which are more local and tend to be heavily based on nature and local flora and fauna, though not entirely, and ranging in size from 'a pond' to 'a cliff' to 'a swamp'), urban settings (similar to natural features in area of impact but typically more dynamic due to both the speed with which humans change things and the more potent emotional and symbolic resonances; these can range from 'an airport' to 'a park' to 'an office building' to 'a highway' so they vary wildly in size), and zoning regions (well, not quite zoning, but an area humans think of as commercial draws in different kinds of spirits than a gated community, a suburb, or an area everyone knows is rundown or crime-ridden). Human expectation and purpose have a shockingly strong influence on the Shadow.

After the tables are brief descriptors of what kind of things might different resonances may contribute to the spiritual feel of an area and how spirits of these concepts want to make people act or feel. There's a similar section on hunting styles, so that you can take the descriptors of Hunter's Aspect and have some idea how an NPC might interpret their actions through the lens of that kind of hunt, along with tables showing common hunting styles by Auspice and Tribe. Less useful, those, but still good for figuring out NPC wolves on the fly.
This section is so good that I wish it was in the WtF 2e core book, or was also sold separately as a PDF (though to be clear: everyone should buy Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon). Just the exact kind of "yeah but like...what does all this stuff look like, to a first-time ST or group of this?" that really helps you wrap your head around both running and playing the game.

Good book, good writeup. Good times.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

Preface
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Setting
Interlude: A History of Face Grabbing
Chapter 3: Storytelling
Chapter 4: Rules
Chapter 5: Character
Chapter 6: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 1: Clans
Chapter 7, Part 2: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 3: Disciplines
Chapter 8, Part 1: Dramatic Systems
Chapter 8, Part 2: Dramatic Systems

Chapter 9: Drama

quote:

The only good policeman is a dead one
The only good laws aren’t enforced

--Neil Gaiman, Enter the Wu-Tang

What’s with this “Drama” chapter? We’ve already had two separate chapters on how to GM this thing, and one I just covered was called “Dramatic Systems.” While those systems were the narrative mechanics, this chapter is advice on using the rules to resolve common situations. The idea is that if you know how to use the rules without getting bogged down, you maintain the momentum and dramatic tension.

This includes the rules for the most important part of every roleplaying game: combat!


I didn’t even know Einsturzende Neubauten performed at Ringling Bros.

The Action Economy

White Wolf’s games were the first ones I owned. The rules design may leave a lot to be desired, but they trained me to have a healthy loathing of any system that tries to define precisely how many pounds I can lift, how many meters I can run, and how many seconds a combat round lasts. No 90s game is complete without an Internet flamewar over how many punches or bullets you can sling in a 3-second turn. Vampire doesn’t really have that problem.

Vampire defines a scene in the same way as a play or film. Scenes that are “just” roleplaying are still scenes--downtime is defined as the kind of thing you would just narrate, like extensive research or traveling to another city.

Combat and other tense situations are called Action Scenes. In an action scene, a turn is defined as however much time it takes for each character to take one action. In a street fight, each action probably does take a few seconds at most. But it could be longer than that in a chase scene, and longer still in some kind of social combat.


You’ve never loved anything in your life as much as this chapter loves leather jackets and New Wave hair.


Dramatic Systems

Yes, the title of the last chapter is also a section heading in this chapter. These entries are advice on how to resolve common situations that could get more complicated than a single Attribute+Ability roll. The whole lot of them are presented as suggestions, not rules, so you can change them or even disregard them if you’d rather just roleplay it.

Awakening: Vampires sleep like the dead. To awaken during the day (usually in response to some threat) roll Perception+Auspex. Humanity rolls may be required to stay awake for any length of time.

Climbing: Dexterity+Athletics, with a bonus die if you have Protean claws.

Hunting: Y’know, this is a tricky one. While the moral horror of being a bloodsucking monster is a central theme, it’s not the only theme. There are times you’ll want to deal with the practical question of feeding without derailing the narrative, especially since Kindred rarely hunt as a pack.

(Longtime writer Rob Hatch once remarked, “Which is more obscene: the Revolting Revenant, or a player distilling murder down to ‘I attack the bum and recharge my Blood Pool?’” Actually, Rob, the autistic zoophile PC template was a terrible idea in itself.)

So here’s how the recommend you resolve quick-and-dirty feeding: The PC gets 1 die per hour spent hunting, with bonuses from Herd and Fame. The Difficulty is based on the feeding ground--slums are easy, a gated community is hard. On a success, regain 1d10 blood. A botch means something goes terribly wrong. Or if you don’t have time for that, give them the blood and later tell them that they contracted a disease. Oh, brother.


Crazy that Paula Abdul never released this video.


Feats of Strength: Your Strength+Potence sets the baseline of how much you can lift or how great a feat you can perform without rolling. To “push” it higher, roll Willpower and raise it one step per success.



Repair: It’s an extended Dexterity+Repair task, with Difficulty and needed successes based on the nature and extent of the repair. A weird glitch has a high Difficulty but can be resolved quickly, while replacing broken parts is easy but takes a lot of time.

Sneaking: Dexterity+Stealth opposed by Wits+Alertness. You can make it an extended test if they’re trying to cover a lot of distance through a patrolled area.

Shadowing: Actually quite complicated. The stalker rolls Perception+Investigation or Streetwise to successfully follow each turn. But they also need to roll Dexterity+Stealth opposed by Perception+Alertness. The stalker needs a certain number of successes to tail the target all the way to their destination, while the target needs 5 successes to definitely spot the pursuer. There are also optional rules for two people stalking one by trading off. They made this an overcomplicated stealth minigame that’s not very fun.

Swimming: Dexterity+Athletics. This is only worth mentioning for the notes that vampires sink in water, sunlight penetrates it, and sharks are known to eat carrion.

Stunt Driving: Another complicated minigame! Roll Dexterity+Drive, but your pool is limited by your vehicle--three dice for a bus, 9 for a sports car. Vehicle types also have a listed Safe Speed, and your Difficulty goes up when you exceed it.

Pursuit: Chasing someone on foot is simple and should have been the model for how all such things are handled. Roll Dexterity+Athletics, Difficulty 6. If the chaser gets enough successes they can strike or grapple, if the chased gets enough they’ve lost their pursuer.

Stealing: Dexterity+Streetwise for shoplifting and pickpocketing, while burglary should be handled with extended Perception+Stealth rolls. A liquor store holdup is a Manipulation+Intimidation roll, with the victim’s Willpower as the Difficulty.


Negative space makes me horny.


Seduction: “Seduction is an unnatural means of gaining intimacy with another person, because every step is carefully staged and real feelings are not shared (they are faked).” Welp, this is the opposite issue of the quick-and-dirty feeding rules. How much do you want to roleplay seducing someone so you can (probably) attack them and drink their blood?

You’ll probably fail anyway, since seduction involves three stages and you have to succeed at all of them. The “opening line” requires Appearance+Subterfuge, followed by Wits+Subterfuge for “witty exchange,” then Charisma+Empathy for “conversation.” The Difficulties are the victim’s Wits+3, Intelligence+3, and Perception+3, respectively. After that you can say “Do you wanna get out of here? I’m thirsty,” and they’re confused because you’re already in a bar.

Fast Talk: You can use any combination of Manipulation/Charisma/Appearance+Acting/Subterfuge depending on what the Storyteller thinks is appropriate. Unlike most games, a failure leaves you with the option of walking back your confused, babbled lies and trying again, until you get a botch.

There are also rules for “Credibility,” which I guess is for when you’re not full of poo poo. In that case you roll Manipulation+Leadership against Intelligence+Subterfuge.

Interrogation: This is one of the few games I’ve seen that understands interrogation doesn’t always involve physically bullying or torture--though that’s certainly an option. Roll Manipulation+Intimidation to get useful information out of someone.

Facedown: When two people are just staring each other down to see who blinks first, each rolls Charisma + Intimidation against the other’s Willpower. First one to get their enemy’s Wits+5 in successes is the winner. This childish behaviour is very common among vampires.

Performance: The appropriate Attribute+Ability for a public performance can be one of many options. The Difficulty is based on how receptive the audience is at the outset, with successes indicating their reaction.

Research: Roll Intelligence+Investigation in an extended test, with Difficulty based on the obscurity of the information. Your first roll takes an hour, the second a day, the third a week, and so on.

Composition: Roll Intelligence + Music, Acting, or another appropriate Ability. The player chooses the Difficulty and the number of successes they’re going for, which is reflected in the quality of the final product.

Recollection: Since you could potentially be a thousand years old, there’s a roll to recall specific memories. Roll Intelligence + an appropriate Knowledge. A botch indicates you remember the event completely wrong, and are bound to roleplay this thoroughly...or the Storyteller will punish you!

Tracking: Roll Perception + Survival in the wilderness, or Investigation in the city. This is an unopposed extended test. There sure are a lot of ways to chase somebody in this system!

Investment: Yes, there are rules for investing in business. Roll Intelligence+Finance. Five successes raises your Resources level--so if you’re a Ventrue businessman, you may as well start the game flat broke!

Search: Perception+Investigation, with Difficulty from 7-10 depending on how well-concealed the hidden items are. There are notes that you should let people succeed automatically if they’re looking in precisely the right place, and give penalties if the player is clueless and just saying “I search.”

Although these entries are presented as advice, and far from all-encompassing, the overall scheme still strikes me as badly balanced. In particular, Dexterity is called for whenever you’re required to do anything physical, while Stamina isn’t called for once. Wits and Perception are also usually called in as resistance stats, something Requiem would formalize.

Anyway, let’s

quote:

Out with my crew, some punks got loud
Shotgun blasts echoed through the crowd
Six punks hit, two punks died
All casualties was applied to their side
Human lives has to pass just for talking much trash
We didn't know who they were, no one had the time to ask

--Carl Von Clausewitz, The Dark Knight Returns

Combat

Combat always begin with a Wits+Alertness roll for Initiative. Difficulty 4, count your successes. Failures go last, botchers lose their turn! Characters declare their actions in order of reverse initiative.

As you may know, the big problem with WoD combat is that each attack can involve four rolls: attack, dodge, damage, and damage resistance. That’s if nobody splits their dice pool. If your players are powergaming, they often will.

Attacking: Guns use Dexterity+Firearms, melee weapons use Dexterity+Melee, and fists and feet and claws and fangs use Dexterity+Brawl. The base Difficulty is based on the weapon.

Defending: Any time you’re attacked, you can spend your action to dodge by rolling Dexterity+Dodge. The Difficulty is 6 in melee combat, plus one for each additional enemy in melee range. The Difficulty to dodge bullets is based on the nearness of cover.

Damage: Weapons have a base Damage pool. With Firearms, you get to add your net successes to this pool, and with melee weapons you get to add your Strength. (You don’t get to attack successes from the attack roll to melee damage, but remember that Potence gives you automatic damage.) Then you roll that pool against Difficulty 6, inflicting 1 Health Level of damage per success.

Soak: A struck target gets to roll their Stamina+Fortitude against Difficulty 6, reducing the damage by 1 Health Level per success.

That’s a lot of rolling, but the basic mechanics are simple. So what are the nuances? First, the system seems to favour the attacker. If you dodge, you sacrifice your action--and if you want to dodge multiple attacks, you have to hold part of your pool in reserve! However, both the attacker’s and defender’s Difficulty are altered by the availability of cover, so taking cover is very effective.

That brings up another issue: positioning. Cover is central to the rules for ranged attacks, and multiple people in a melee together both raises the Difficulty of dodging and invokes penalties for flank and rear attacks. This is in a game that doesn’t advise using any kind of battle map, not even a vague sketch, and relies on the Storyteller to track everyone and everything meaningful when describing the scene.

A major complicating factor in combat is the ability to split your dice pool. At base, the rules for multiple actions are simple. Take the lowest applicable dice pool and split it between however many actions you want--limited by your weapon’s rate of fire or by what the Storyteller deems reasonable. Everyone gets to take one action before anybody gets to take two, and so on.

(Of course, Celerity just gives you extra actions at your full pool, which is why it’s the best Discipline.)

Different guns have different rates of fire, so even assuming you can open-carry a longarm, you have to consider base Damage and Difficulty against Rate of Fire. Shotguns in this game are cinematic--they hit like a truck and are just as hard to avoid. But an assault rifle can attack three times for good damage. Since dodging consumes your action, splitting your attack pool isn’t such a bad prospect when your target may not be able to dodge at all.

The list of guns is far from exhaustive, but Vampire definitely started the 90s trend of games that professed an emphasis on roleplaying while nursing an odd preoccupation with equipment lists.


ROLEPLAYING NOT ROLLPLAYING!!!


No katana?




Despite a remarkably complicated combat system, I’ve always found that the best option is the simplest and least interesting: numberslam. Win initiative and do your damndest to one-shot your enemy before they can hit back. Some of you may disagree--I can usually crunch numbers with the best of ‘em, but I didn’t put nearly as much time into the game's combat math as I put into misquoting Ronny Moorings.

Fiddly Little Rules I Barely Used in a Decade of Playing This Game

Immobilized: If you’re held but still struggling, it’s -2 Difficulty to hit you. If you’re totally immobilized, it’s an auto-hit.

Range and movement: If you need to close distance and attack, it’s +1 Difficulty per 3 yards. It’s also +1 Difficulty to shoot at a moving target or while moving yourself, like a driveby shooting.

Aiming: You can add up to your Perception to an attack by spending one turn aiming per bonus die. This is insanely bad combat math, so you’d never do this unless you’re on sniper duty.

Called shot: +2 Difficulty. By itself, headshots don’t have any hard and fast rules for bonus damage.

Multiple shots: When you split your die pool with Firearms, you add +1 cumulative Difficulty per extra shot. (It doesn’t say you can make multiple attacks in melee. It doesn’t say you can’t.)

Burst fire and Spray: What would a 90s game be without autofire rules for fans to argue about? Burst fire is simple: you get +3 attack dice with +1 Difficulty.

Spray is its own thing: you get 10 extra dice, yes, but Spray is only for hosing down an area with multiple targets, and you split your big sweaty dice pool among several targets and exhaust your clip. Not a magazine, a clip. The chart says so.

Flank and Rear Attacks: Attacking a target from the side gives -1 Difficulty, attacking from behind gives -2 Difficulty. This game doesn’t have facing rules, so have fun ruling on that poo poo.

Stake: To stake a vampire you need to get 3 net successes and do at least 3 damage. There are stats for a wooden stake, but it doesn’t say you have to use a wooden stake.

Biting: Bites do aggravated damage, and as soon as you do any damage you can start draining Blood.

Claws: Just saying, they’re a drat good weapon. Perfectly concealable and they do aggravated damage.

Grapple: Do a melee attack and get more successes than your enemy’s Strength. Grappled targets lose their action, but make opposed Strength+Brawl rolls to break free.

Body Slam: This is not what you think it is. It’s a tackle. Make a melee attack, success means all your enemy’s actions are Difficulty +2, and they have to roll Dexterity+Athletics not to fall down. For actual rasslin’ rules, please refer to Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game or the Trinity Player’s Guide.



Armor

Sure, this game has armor. Wear a leather jacket, it’s a free +1 Soak. Anything more than that and you start taking Dexterity penalties, which is suicide.


Next time on Kindred the Embraced: Monstrous Compendium I: Mad Catholics!

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?



LatwPIAT posted:

One thing that's very easy to miss is that (almost) all Exsurgents have Psi-Gamma and Psi-Epsilon level abilities. This makes them frustrating to play against because the most useful of those are save-or-mindfuck abilities, but it does make the Exsurgents formidable enemies. Each hit from one of those whipping tentacles can be 1d10+4 Stress and Trauma or -30 to all your actions, strip the character of the ability to use a combat skill, or mind-control them to shoot their friends. In addition to the GM-fiat "turn off all electronics in the area" Psi-Epsilon ability. In addition to the touch effect of trying to infect you with an Exsurgent virus.

And if you have Watts-MacLeod yourself, the range increases from Touch to Close so you're definitely being reprogrammed to shoot your friends first.


StratGoatCom posted:

Worth noting that some of these can use guns and tools, which, for obvious reasons, ups the threat level dramatically.

Wrapper

it's SO HAPPY!
Threat level - Yellow/Orange


He is actually she - having gawked at Firewall, she's... well, Firewall suspects her, with good reason, to be something of a closet exhuman - you missed the funniest part, namely that they're afraid she'll engineer one.


Only uses I can think of is that either you're going to The Plantimal Planet and need something that can run on the local food and won't immediately stick out like a human or robot to immediate examination, or you're the kind of Async that needs a non-human body to not go scatty and this appeases the virus - though you'd have to upgrade to a brain box to get most use out of it. The Scurrier is far more useful as far as I can see, being a bilaterally symmetrical vertebrate, that can glide, doesn't have to lick EVERYTHING - one of the more significant drawbacks to that pod, I'm sure you can see - small enough to get everywhere, and in a pinch can be tweaked to pass as something like a odd looking Swarm Cat.

yeah I kind of missed a fair amount of stuff in the finer details, especially in the last couple of batches. I was getting really tired of the book and wanted to get it finished, so my apologies for that. Thanks for filling in the stuff I missed though, the actual lore stuff makes no mention of whippers using guns or anything, which seems like an oversight.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

juggalo baby coffin posted:

yeah I kind of missed a fair amount of stuff in the finer details, especially in the last couple of batches. I was getting really tired of the book and wanted to get it finished, so my apologies for that. Thanks for filling in the stuff I missed though, the actual lore stuff makes no mention of whippers using guns or anything, which seems like an oversight.

The Whipper is potentially capable of holding a firearm, but by default it doesn't have the skill to fire it. The GM could always just give it the skill to do so, but unlike Psi powers, it's not really suggested you do so. Exsurgents tend towards melee attacks, while TITAN creations often have firearms.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


♫ Meet the new thread, same as the old thread, say thanks to inklesspen. ♫

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