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Valatar
Sep 26, 2011

A remarkable example of a pathetic species.


Lipstick Apathy

theironjef posted:

It's been a few years, but we now have official art of Helga the Punch Witch, our character created in Witch Girls Adventures: Director's Cit, along with Synnibarr adventurer and real balloon enthusiast Captain Chester Balloonman:

It might just be a perspective trick with the witch hat, but Helga's head looks slightly too small, it's kinda freaking me out.

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DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


[quote="“theironjef”" post="“477350207”"]
It’s been a few years, but we now have official art of Helga the Punch Witch, our character created in Witch Girls Adventures: Director’s Cit, along with Synnibarr adventurer and real balloon enthusiast Captain Chester Balloonman:



We commissioned the pieces because we’ll be playing them as D&D characters in an upcoming Twitch thing for the One Shot network.
[/quote]

Is his scarf feeding ammo to his hand crossbow?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 20c: Are we there yet?

Before we can get to the Land Below proper (which is to say, the land of Merretika), we still have another chapter of dangerous plants and beasts to get through. This chapter is called Entering the Caves, which feels more like it should be called We Need to Pad This Out to 90 Pages.

This may be a close second to Aysle for my least favorite book in the game line.

For some reason we start the chapter off with about half a page about Belladereth Dularent, an Ayslish researcher who first discovered the Land Below because who the hell could possibly care. We then get a general description of the realm in a grand sense.

quote:

The Land Below is a huge mass of rock in the form of an oblong cylinder. It is nearly 25 million kilometers long and over 10 million kilometers in height and thickness. The cylinder is everything in the realm - there is nothing "outside" the cylinder, not even a void. There is simply no physical space outside this amazingly large hunk of rock.

Within the rock are millions of caves and caverns. The surface area of the known tunnels easily exceeds the surface area of the Earth. The whole of the realm is filled with an oxygen rich atmosphere especially hospitable to humans.

The caves are home to all kinds of creatures both known and unknown. Many creatures have migrated across to the Land Below from Earth. Unlike the Earth, there was never a great cataclysm to wipe out the dinosaurs, so most varieties of Earth dinosaurs can found. Creatures from all of the major epochs can be found within different sections of the caves. In addition, creatures seemingly native to the Land Below are quite common, encompassing all of the major biological groups.
One thing in particular that drives me up a wall about this book is how it constantly describes caves. As in, telling me that there are caves, that they're all over the place, that they're full of plant life, and so on and so on.

I get it, okay? I get that the caves can be different sizes and that there's all kinds of weird plants and poo poo down there. You told me that in the first chapter, I didn't forget this 20 pages later. I'm honestly wondering if this was a "pad the book" thing, or if they were worried that the reader wouldn't "get it" without the constant reminders.

Of course, in a few chapters' time I'm going to be complaining about the unneeded levels of detail on other stuff.

I have been doing this for over four and a half years.

...

So! Let's talk about plants!

quote:

The dominant plant life forms of the Land Below are moss and fungi, although ferns can be found in small quantities. More sophisticated plants like bushes and trees can only be found in the domed worlds.

The fungi come in all shapes and sizes, with some growing as high as ten meters. Common species are less than one-meter tall, with several short stem-like protrusions growing vertically out from the main root. They typically have well-developed roots which are able to absorb the requisite nutrients and moisture from the soil, while the protrusions absorb scarcer materials from the air. They are an excellent source of nutrition for most of the animals in the realm.
And it just goes on like that for about a third of a page. Which doesn't sound too bad, until I realize that I've never shown what a typical page of text in a Torg book looks like.


Imagine trying to describe a whole line of books, that all read like this, for years.

Now do you see why it takes me so long to write and summarize these things? Torg books have very little art (I think I've posted like 75% of it over the years), so the majority of the books are these loving walls of text with badly-sized section headers and things generally not described in a logical order or given the attention they should be.

For instance, in this chapter we go from "more Caves 101" to plants to animals to describing two of the civilizations in the Land Below, and the two civilizations barely get more descriptions than the animals in this chapter!

Whatever, let's just get through this chapter.

The plants described are all either monsters or mysterious healing herbs, and have the usual lazy "bad Scrabble hand" names, such as "Sata'Char", "Tbathap", and "Zeta'ckl Moss". Each plant type except for the drowners gets one paragraph of description and mechanics, so clearly the writers cared as much as I do about them.


That sure is a big whateverthehell that is.

Only two animals are described. Atten are birdlike critters that are very common in the caves. They've adapted to the perpetual darkness by having sonar, and adapted to dealing with prey by having razor-sharp talons. By themselves they're not much of a threat, but when you stumble into a nest of 30 of them protecting their eggs, that's a different story.

The other new creature is the Rassitar, which is basically a big cave-dwelling crocodile. The book can't even come up with anything interesting for them, so why should I?

We from here we get descriptions of two new underground civilizations, the Kets and the Wanneck.

Kets are short humanoids with "pale brown skin" and oblong heads, with the eyes set deep in the skull. They have four fingers on each hand, but with two fingers each opposed to the other pair. They're pretty low on the Tech scale (they're just recently getting into animal domestication), and are very hostile to outsiders due to their low numbers. That said, they have a "predictable" facination with both magic and technology, as well as a good amount of knowledge about the local plant life, so they'd probably made good guides.

The Wanneck are a "proud, but friendly people" with solid builds and "deep brown to black skin." They have a multi-tribal structure, but interestingly none of the wanneck tribes have ever warred with each other. They started a few permanent city-states and have learned to use metals, so they're clearly advancing up the tech tree pretty well. The wanneck are hospitable and not above giving explorers food and shelter, as long as you're willing to pay them back in communal work.

I can't really think of a good segway for the next topic, so let's go on to Domed Worlds.

Dotted throughout the Land Below are what can best be described as "bubbles", ranging from a few hundred to several thousand kilometers across. These are the Domed Worlds, and while each of them is unique they all abide by the axioms and World Laws of the Land Below. Only one of these worlds is described (Merretika, which we'll finally get to next chapter), but we don't really get any information about what they're like.

quote:

The domes worlds are rare (perhaps one every few thousand kilometers), but they provide a much easier existence than that of the caverns. Each domed world normally has several unique species of creatures (as well as many common to the Land Below), as well as at least one intelligent race. Terrain within the worlds is frequently plains or mountainous, although swamps, jungles, forests and even deserts can be found in some of the worlds.
...which is fine, except that given the axioms everything here is required to operate under, there's only so many things you can really have show up in these worlds.

Sometimes you can also stumble into the remnants of Lost Civilizations; ruins with a clear influence from ancient Core Earth cultures such as Hellenic Greek, Mayan, or Imperial Chinese. Or from civilizations that have no clear analogue on Core Earth or any of the invading realities. Regardless, they always seem to have been abandoned centuries ago (despite only existing for about two years) and can be a source of strange artifacts.

The chapter closes out with this section about Knowledge:

quote:

Once characters have entered the Land Below the most valuable treasure is knowledge. Characters will be desperate to secure steady supplies of food, water and shelter from the more aggressive creatures. They will also want to acquire weapons and probably salves and potions made from the natural plant life.

They can be given this information by native tribes or wandering individuals.

After a time the wanderlust of the characters will ignite the desire to leave the Land Below no matter how comfortable an existence they may have been able to eke out. They could always just wander back into a dimthread to lead them to Earth, or they might enter Merretika and discover the Nile pit or the Living Land waterfall. They might also encounter other groups of wandering Storm Knights, and between them they may be able to formulate a plan for escape. The final option is to have them acquire a mystical artifact loaded with divination knowledge so that they may be able to find their way home.
"Here's twenty pages of information on making cave diving more detailed. But when they're fed up, just let them leave."

--

...

Yeah, I got nothin'.

NEXT TIME: You have reached your destination.

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 19:20 on Oct 13, 2017

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!


Hostile V posted:

Though I also very vaguely remember In Dark Alleys being lovely and bad and wrong about gender and sexuality when it came to the sexomancer class that let you turn your penis into a big bitey death animal and also shift your genitals at will.

They're also the class with a detailed NPC whose stated purpose is to rape straight people. It's also declared that they tend to become supersex hobos who receive magic guidance on where to find their next enchanted gloryhole. Also generally the constant implication that if you're anything but straight(and thus oppressed by MUNDANE SOCIETY) you must constantly be hunting for more sex, usually with new and often anonymous partners every time.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Comrade Gorbash posted:

But it's the macro level problem of Starfinder. They couldn't commit to a concept. Making Starfinder just "Pathfinder plus Starships and Laser guns!" is kind of a boring choice, but it's a choice. Making it it's own thing is a choice. But it comes down so perfectly in the middle of those decisions it's not anything. It deviates too far from Pathfinder's assumptions to just be PF in space, but it doesn't deviate far enough to do anything interesting that isn't cribbed from Pathfinder. This is just another case of it. If you don't want your setting to have fighters, just say that, and say "hey you need at least two people to be effective in space in our setting." But of course they didn't do that.

Paizo wants to be everything to everyone, and while that's a good marketing decision, it's not a great design decision. Not that it would have been hard to fix, but either they were lacking the will or the time to do so.

Granted, it's tough not just going for direct comparisons with Fragged Empire to point out, "So, these guys addressed the problems with variable crew sizes back in 2015, including fighters..."

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Paizo wants to be everything to everyone, and while that's a good marketing decision, it's not a great design decision.
Wasn't "d20 is a universal system" one of Dancey's original talking points for 3e? I remember something along those lines.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Evil Mastermind posted:

Wasn't "d20 is a universal system" one of Dancey's original talking points for 3e? I remember something along those lines.

Dancey wanted it to be not just a universal system, but effectively the only system, or close enough to it.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




PurpleXVI posted:

They're also the class with a detailed NPC whose stated purpose is to rape straight people. It's also declared that they tend to become supersex hobos who receive magic guidance on where to find their next enchanted gloryhole. Also generally the constant implication that if you're anything but straight(and thus oppressed by MUNDANE SOCIETY) you must constantly be hunting for more sex, usually with new and often anonymous partners every time.

i was gonna say, wasn't that the game where the entire sex wizard class was based around having non-consensual encounters with strangers to teach them magic, so I'm glad the answer is "of course it is".

I get the whole text by omission thing, but the comparison to rules for abortion makes the whole situation even weirder. okay, you had enough sense to decide that abortion really wasn't a topic that needed to be mechanically addressed by your game, but somehow homosexuality and racism and other unnecessary poo poo needed to be in there? that makes it seem less like an error by omission and more like an intentional decision.

also, it's interesting to hear that the game later embraces all of the vitriol of your average teenage atheist when talking about the evils of Christianity. it definitely sounds like the rules were written by someone that was raised in a strict, conservative household and some aspect of designing this game was a gently caress YOU DAD to having to go to church, but then a lot of the underlying assumptions implicit in religious doctrine just slip into the game without any critical examination.

"Modern Christianity is a bunch of charlatans and snake oil hucksters preying on the sheeple!

Also finding out you're gay could drive you insane because it's so icky! . . . What?"

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Reading those rules about motivation and adjustment makes me think that the anti-millenial nags and scolds read those rules and figured "Well by now they'll be in their 20s" and have carried on from there, possibly while eating child eyeballs from a bowl.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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I really get the sense that the KidWorld writers have never actually met a child for any significant length of time.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


Mors Rattus posted:

I really get the sense that the KidWorld writers have never actually met a child for any significant length of time.
I most assuredly hope not.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Mors Rattus posted:

I really get the sense that the KidWorld writers have never actually met a child for any significant length of time.
What would honestly be a lot more plausible if not for the need to wedge in child soldiers would be communes where surviving blind adults provide guidance, teaching and raw strength and younger children do most of the actual poo poo-work. Children can do a lot with some guidance, especially if there is necessity afoot.

Like this is weirdly infantilizing. But, it's about literal children.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Valatar posted:

We already have a winner! If teleportation requires an absolutely fixed point in space to work, it cannot possibly work on a planet, given that Earth rotates at 1,000 mph and is moving along its orbit at 70,000 mph. Any attempt to teleport would be instantly lethal, leaving the person nineteen miles above or below the destination point, assuming a six second casting time.

Or teleportation just works on relative position.

Or, more significantly, making rules for the sake of good gameplay and justifying them with whatever in-universe handwave you want is something 3.x-based games need more of, not less.

Like I know dunking on Paizo and 3.x is fun but sometimes folks try a little too hard.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Tuxedo Catfish posted:

Or teleportation just works on relative position.

Like I know dunking on Paizo and 3.x is fun but sometimes folks try a little too hard.

Your direction compared to the other side of the planet is moving at great speed in the opposite direction.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Mors Rattus posted:

Your direction compared to the other side of the planet is moving at great speed in the opposite direction.

I'm quite certain there's some kind of mathematical relationship that's fixed if you're talking about two points on the same sphere no matter how that sphere is moving, but variable when talking about two objects rapidly moving in unpredictable directions relative to each other.

I'm also certain it doesn't really matter.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


PurpleXVI posted:

They're also the class with a detailed NPC whose stated purpose is to rape straight people. It's also declared that they tend to become supersex hobos who receive magic guidance on where to find their next enchanted gloryhole. Also generally the constant implication that if you're anything but straight(and thus oppressed by MUNDANE SOCIETY) you must constantly be hunting for more sex, usually with new and often anonymous partners every time.

uhh

Did someone do an F&F of In Dark Alleys yet?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Tuxedo Catfish posted:

I'm quite certain there's some kind of mathematical relationship that's fixed if you're talking about two points on the same sphere no matter how that sphere is moving, but variable when talking about two objects rapidly moving in unpredictable directions relative to each other.

I'm also certain it doesn't really matter.

The problem becomes when the game itself decides to bring it up. As in this case. The correct answer, of course, would be 'spaceships have teleport shielding, but it's very expensive to produce for anything larger.'

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Kurieg posted:

uhh

Did someone do an F&F of In Dark Alleys yet?
Yeah PurpleXVI did it back in 2012, it's on the archives.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Mors Rattus posted:

The problem becomes when the game itself decides to bring it up. As in this case. The correct answer, of course, would be 'spaceships have teleport shielding, but it's very expensive to produce for anything larger.'

That raises even more weird, ambiguous narrative/mechanical questions than this does.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Tuxedo Catfish posted:

That raises even more weird, ambiguous narrative/mechanical questions than this does.

Why? It means you can have teleport-shielded boss lairs.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Trying to nitpick Starfinger's justifications implies there's some reasoning under the surface other than game conventions and weapon types. There really isn't as far as I can tell; this is the game without nightvision goggles or translator technology, after all. Mind, there don't need to be technical details or physics reasoning if you're just doing space opera, but that makes it feel strange and incongruous when they try and justify things in terms of setting details.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



theironjef posted:

It's been a few years, but we now have official art of Helga the Punch Witch, our character created in Witch Girls Adventures: Director's Cit, along with Synnibarr adventurer and real balloon enthusiast Captain Chester Balloonman:



We commissioned the pieces because we'll be playing them as D&D characters in an upcoming Twitch thing for the One Shot network.

They are wonderful. When's the stream?

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Tuxedo Catfish posted:

That raises even more weird, ambiguous narrative/mechanical questions than this does.

No?

Starfinger's justification for this poo poo literally undermines itself, whereas "the shields every starship uses have the side effect of preventing teleportations" is pretty loving straightforward.

I'm not entirely sure why they specifically don't want people teleporting between ships when everything else remains fair game, but, Paizo.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



That Old Tree posted:

No?

Starfinger's justification for this poo poo literally undermines itself, whereas "the shields every starship uses have the side effect of preventing teleportations" is pretty loving straightforward.

I'm not entirely sure why they specifically don't want people teleporting between ships when everything else remains fair game, but, Paizo.

so you can't scry and die the bbeg and steal his starship, natch

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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but what does god need with a starship

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



He doesn't need it but he might want one around because it looks real cool.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Leraika posted:

so you can't scry and die the bbeg and steal his starship, natch

Sure, but then we're down a rabbit hole where the end is "how about don't make teleportation so powerful in the first place?" And the reason against is pretty reliably going to be "because that's how it was before."

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



That Old Tree posted:

Sure, but then we're down a rabbit hole where the end is "how about don't make teleportation so powerful in the first place?" And the reason against is pretty reliably going to be "because that's how it was before."

Yep! So instead they went with YOU JUST CAN'T, OKAY.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Green Intern posted:

They are wonderful. When's the stream?

Tomorrow, here's the link: https://m.twitch.tv/events/122023?desktop-redirect=true

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable




Sweet. Thanks.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Even just saying 'spaceships maneuvering around in space makes aiming a teleporting spell too hard; you can't teleport onto another ship unless it is disabled or intentionally holding steady for you' would have been better, but no they had to be clever.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




it's motherfucking magic; i don't have to calculate the relative distance between poo poo. the spell teleports me inside the other space ship because it's a spell that teleports you places and it doesn't pay attention to what physical laws would or would not allow - the pertinent thing is that it is my will to be on that space ship and so the spell obeys.

gently caress, paizo, this is a solved problem. give me a job at your money factory, you nerds

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


I mean, "you can't teleport through shields" is literally how Star Trek does it, and because it's magic it'd need even less technobabble to justify. Just say shields are a specific application of magic circles or wards and that's why it messes with teleportation. Hell you could even pad your spell list with a high level teleport that can bypass shields, so players can salivate over it even though maybe one in a thousand campaigns will ever reach the level requirement for it.

KittyEmpress
Dec 30, 2012

Jam Buddies



Comrade Gorbash posted:

I mean, "you can't teleport through shields" is literally how Star Trek does it, and because it's magic it'd need even less technobabble to justify. Just say shields are a specific application of magic circles or wards and that's why it messes with teleportation. Hell you could even pad your spell list with a high level teleport that can bypass shields, so players can salivate over it even though maybe one in a thousand campaigns will ever reach the level requirement for it.

They kinda can't do that because iirc, teleport in starfinder is on a single classes spell list at the highest spell level as it is, meaning you need to be like 14th? Level to even access it. Can't really make a higher level version of it with that.

Valatar
Sep 26, 2011

A remarkable example of a pathetic species.


Lipstick Apathy

Yeah, the simplest solution would've been "No teleporting through shields." Boom, done. At that point you have to actually beat down an opponent before you can start teleporting the spess mehreens on their ship to mess with their poo poo, and you'd have to drop your own shields to do so, adding an element of risk to that sort of boarding action. And then the writing staff doesn't look like a pile of idiots who don't realize that everything in our solar system is currently hurtling through the universe at a couple million miles per hour.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Valatar posted:

Yeah, the simplest solution would've been "No teleporting through shields." Boom, done.

Hell, that's how Star Trek does it. Beaming through shields is a plot power reserved to a very particular few races like the Borg and Dominion.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


To Starfinger's credit, they don't want magic loving with their space battles because they don't want any particular class (spellcasters included) to dominate in the spaceship combat system, allowing any type of character to focus on nearly any role (skill lists and base attack bonuses permitting). That way, you aren't punished for not fielding an Envoy if they were the best commanders (they aren't, but just as a hypothetical example). And siloing that kind of thing off is perfectly reasonable.

But at the same time they want spellcasters powerful enough to teleport across the galaxy or make miniature black holes or make a phantasmal space armada... without impacting spaceship combat. The two things don't square and there's no real great attempt to do so. The teleportation explanation is just a symptom of that larger problem.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


This is why Spelljammer is the superior space setting. If the fighter wants to get involved in space combat, he can just stand on the deck and ask the helmsman to sail closer so he can hit the other ship with his sword.

Valatar
Sep 26, 2011

A remarkable example of a pathetic species.


Lipstick Apathy

Spelljammer also had a bit of a natural dampening effect on magic due to the scale of ship combat often being outside the range of spells. That and ship weapons required users with a decent THAC0, which were not spellcasters. If anything, Spelljammer was probably the setting least in the grip of caster supremacy as far as second edition stuff went. Especially since you were often plugging the wizard into your space boat as a battery.

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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!


Kurieg posted:

uhh

Did someone do an F&F of In Dark Alleys yet?

http://projects.inklesspen.com/fatal-and-friends/purplexvi/in-dark-alleys/

The saddest thing is that there are actually a few hilarious/amazing parts to the game, but they're buried under all the creepy, teenage edgelord poo poo.

Valatar posted:

Spelljammer also had a bit of a natural dampening effect on magic due to the scale of ship combat often being outside the range of spells. That and ship weapons required users with a decent THAC0, which were not spellcasters. If anything, Spelljammer was probably the setting least in the grip of caster supremacy as far as second edition stuff went. Especially since you were often plugging the wizard into your space boat as a battery.

2nd ed AD&D was generally pretty short on caster supremacy. Though I'd say settings with little of it, possibly even less of it, would be Birthright or Dark Sun. The former because mages are really rare and the latter because casting spells in puiblic gets you hunted down by a mob.

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