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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Alien Rope Burn posted:

F&F Superstars™

This actually makes me want to see some sort of statistics on F&F up to this point. Longest review, most prolific reviewer, game that generated the most anger, stuff like that.

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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



So this apparently exists, but I'm not reviewing it.

quote:

The CreepyPasta RPG contains everything you need to make your favorite creepypastas come to life in your own roleplaying universe. This book and a handful of dice are all you need to get underway. The CreepyPasta RPG uses a new "buy-die" roleplaying system that promises easy to understand mechanics that do not falter under complex scenarios.

The CreepyPasta RPG provides everything a GM needs to run a campaign- no more, no less.
  • Unique, simple but not too simple, die system
  • Basic Weapons and Gear listing (No additional expansions required)
  • ZERO FLUFF (Under 100 pages)

That said, here's some choice material from the DriveThru preview.

quote:

There are nine attributes in CPRPG, and each attribute will have a number of dice which represent how good or bad a character is at a task. For example, you could have five eight-sided dice, (5D8) and two ten-sided dice (2D10) in your Strength attribute. Dice are rolled for any given task. You may have up to 2D12, 4D10, and 8D8 purchased in any given attribute. When the Game Master (GM) asks you to roll an attribute, you roll up to Four dice of those purchased. Once you roll the dice, you ignore all but the top two highest results, and add them together. For example if you rolled 2D12 & 2D10, and rolled 2-5-5-9, then you would only count the top two and add them together. In this case you would add 9 and 5, making your result 14. GMs will often give you a ‘difficulty’ for a task, such as 12. In which case, you must meet or exceed the given diffi culty in order to complete said task.

quote:

Exploding Dice
If a die is rolled for an Attribute check and it gets the maximum result, such as rolling an 8 on an eight-sided die, or a 10 on a ten-sided die, you get bonus dice. Bonus dice are added to the pool of dice and can sprout additional dice just the same. This is called “Exploding Dice.” See below.
Each 8 rolled on a D8 gives you 2D10
Each 10 rolled on a D10 gives you 2D12
Each 12 rolled on a D12 gives you 1D20

If you roll a 20 on 1D20 the die does not explode, but you will automatically get a ‘critical success’

quote:

SIMPLE EXAMPLE OF AN ATTRIBUTE ROLL
The GM asks Joe to roll his Dexterity plus Athletics to cross a bridge on foot. The GM gives the difficulty of 12. Joe has 5D8 and 2D10 in Dexterity, and a 1.3 in Athletics. PCs can roll 4 dice for attributes and Joe chooses to roll 2D8 and 2D10. The eight-sided dice roll and come up as 7 & 6. The ten-sided dice come up as 9 & 3. Joe's top two dice rolls are 9 and 7. Adding them together he gets a score of 16. Adding his Athletics Proficiency of 1.3 brings him to a grand total of 17.3. This would mean that Joe Succeeded. The GM tells Joe he crosses the bridge.

EXTREME EXAMPLE OF AN ATTRIBUTE ROLL
The GM asks Joe to roll his Dexterity plus Athletics to cross the bridge. The GM explains that the bridge is old and worn down so the difficulty is 14. Joe has 5D8 and 2D10 in Dexterity, and a 1.3 in Athletics. Rolling 4 dice in Dexterity Joe chooses to roll 2D8 and 2D10. The eight-sided dice come out as 8,8 and the tensided dice come out as 1,10. Two of his eight-sided dice, and one ten-sided die have “exploded.” Joe also rolled a 1, so his end result will be reduced by 1. Joe grabs his bonus exploding dice of 4D10 and 2D12. He rolls on his ten-sided dice 3,1,9,10, and his twelve-sided dice gets 7,12.

Joe is very lucky. He did get another 1, so his end result will be reduced by 2, but he gets 2D10 and 1D20 as bonus dice to roll still. The ten-sided dice get 2,6, and the twenty-sided die rolls a 17. Joes’ top two dice rolls in the entire pool of dice are now 17 and 12. Adding them together he gets a score of 29. Subtracting the two 1’s he rolled brings it down to 27, and finally adding his Athletics Proficiency of 1.3 brings him to a grand total of 28.3. This would mean that Joe got a Critical Success. The GM tells Joe that not only does he cross the bridge with ease, but he finds the flaw in the bridge can be fixed by tying up a single rope, making it easier for the rest of his party to cross.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 12g: Coffee is for closers.

So there's one question I'm sure many of you have asked: "so what the hell are you supposed to do in Nippon Tech?"

It turns out that one of the answers is "run a megacorp".

quote:

Along with the battles in the streets and alleys of Nippon Tech - ronin versus ninja, ronin versus gospog - there is another kind of war being fought in the realm. It is a quiet struggle, one fought not with guns and knives, but an even more devastating weapon - money.

To the victors in such conflicts go wealth and power; to the losers, financial destruction and complete absorption by the conquering entity. The corporate duelling which takes place between the Business arm of the Rauru Block and 3327's mega-corporations is quite different from any other type of combat in Torg, and thus requires some special rules. Refer to these rules if one of your players chooses the role of a Mega-Corporation CEO, or a Storm Knight obtains control of a megacorporation at some point in your campaign.
Yes, "Mega-Corporation CEO" is one of the available character templates. And if you pick it (or the GM feels like giving you one), you can start the game in control of your very own mega-corp and fight 3327 at his own game!

So yeah, Nippon Tech has its own "domain" rules.

To start, the CEO needs to set up a corporate structure diagram for his company, while the GM does the same for the competition (or just uses the one provided for Kanawa Corporation).

quote:

In the diagram, represent each corporation with a rectangle and write the name of the corporation inside that rectangle. Then write the name of the holding company at the top of the page, and beneath it, list all the company's direct subsidiaries and draw a line between the subsidiaries and the holding company. Then put down all of the under-subsidiaries and lines connecting them to the subsidiaries that own them.

The recommended size for a starting mega-corp is a holding company and two subsidiaries, and the book also recommends that the first target in 3327's setup should be Windigo Inc. (a marketing/PR firm) since it's the smallest of 3327's holdings with only three subidiary holdings.

Once you have your corporate structure in place (and have named it), now you have to figure out the starting "stats" for each company. There are four: stock price, assets, income, and debt. In keeping with 90's game design, this is handled via random rolls. There are two tables to start with, one of which is a flat d20 roll because the CEO's skill doesn't matter yet.

For each company in your structure, you have to determine the base stock value because everything else derives from this. You roll an unmodified d20 to see how much each stock is worth in yen, which can range from ¥7,000 to ¥20,000 per share. Every company starts with one million available shares, 20% of which are owned by the CEO. The rest of the shares are assumed to by held by generic stockholders and/or other PCs.

Now that you know how much each stock is worth, you determine the overall value of the corporation's assets. This is done by taking the rolled stock value and multiplying it by the number of shares available. But since you always start with one million shares, you're just multiplying the stock value by a million so I don't know why they didn't just say "multiply by 1,000,000". Fortunately, Torg realizes that we might not be good enough at math to add six zeros to the end of a number, and provides us with a handy table to do the math for us.


Thanks, guys.

Assets don't represent flat cash, of course. Assets include factories, land, resources, that kind of thing. Not that it matters what your assets actually are, because the mechanics only care about the value.

Next we determine the company's starting income. To do this, we roll another flat d20 and cross-reference the result with your assets on the Income Table to see how much they earn each month.

Your starting debt is figured out the same way; cross-referencing your assets with a different d20 roll. This gives you two values: the starting amount of debt you owe, and what your minimum payment per month is. Things like payroll and such are considered part of your debt.


EVE Online: the RPG

I like to think that Torg was the first RPG to make serious use of scientific notation.

Oh, wait, there's one more thing we need to calculate for each company. Each firm has an amount of liquid cash, which is your monthly income after your monthly debt has been paid and you dealt with all the corporate warfare stuff.

Once you've done that for all the companies you control, you can finally participate in Corporate Duels.

Like most stronghold/domain management stuff, you deal with it on a month-by-month basis. You can still run around and shoot dudes and fight bad guys all you want, but at the start of each game month you have to go through a whole sequence of steps.

The first thing you have to do is determine stock fluxuation. As we all know, stocks go up and stocks go down, and in the most realistic economic model ever made this is determined by a roll of a die.

The GM rolls a d20; on a 1-5 it's a "bear market" (bad), and on a 16-20 it's a "bull market" (good). Then the CEO on each side rolls their business skill, and looks up their total on a table to determine what percentage your stock value changes. And there's a pretty wide swing here, from -30%/share to +30%/share depending on how well (or badly) you roll and the current state of the market.

The next step is asset/income adjustment, where you just multiply stock value by total shares, then apply the percentage change to the company's income.

Now you can transfer funds between corporations, which just means shifting cash around.

Next each company has to make its minimum debt payment. The minimum payment is 1% of its total debt, and interestingly in this stage you can only pay the minimum amount. If a subsidiary company can't make the payment, its stock value drops by 5% regardless of how well you rolled back in the stock fluxuation step. If a holding company can't make the payment, then it has to put up a subsidiary for sale in the next step. If the core holding coproration can't make the payment, then the whole shebang folds and everybody is out of a job.

After that, the GM has to set up potential corporate sales. He rolls a flat d20 to see how many outside companies are available for sale (zero, one, or two), and if there some available he rolls up their starting values and company type. Note that you can't buy these until later. Each side can also put their own subsidiaries up for sale at this point if they need the cash or were forced to in the last part.

Now you get to engage in corporate espionage. This just a d20 table the GM rolls on to set up an adventure hook for the players to go on and disrupt the other company's standings. Unfortunately, as near as I can tell it doesn't tell you exactly how your actions can affect the competition. I mean, I guess that blowing up a warehouse would cost the owner X amount of yen, but is that just subtracted from their assets? And how do you determine how much an office building is worth? Or a valuable piece of data? What if you learn about and stop a bribe; how does that affect the numbers?

Anyway, the next step is to allocate funds. You take your liquid funds available, and then allocate some or all of that money to various "corporate maneuvers", which happen next.


Exciting board room action!

Corporate maneuvers are the "actions" of corporate warfare. This is where your CEO finally gets to use his business skill because everything before this point was all flat rolls. Each month, you can perform as many as you want and can afford. Obviously, both sides of the conflict get to do this stuff.

quote:

This means that the gamemaster should decide on the allocations for the Kanawa-controlled firm involved, while the players decide upon what actions the Storm Knight-controlled corporation will take.
Boy, they're really busting out the quality advice here, aren't they?

So what are our options?

Well, for starters we can invest in capital; for every ¥100 million you invest your assets go up by 10%. This will also cause your stock price and income to go up at the end of the "business turn".

You can purchase stock in any company on the board, even ones controlled by your enemy. You can only buy available stocks this way; trying to buy more is a hostile takeover, and is done differently. A company's available stocks is a percentage of the total number of shares not held by the CEO, and the percentage is based on the current state of the market. Buying the stock requires a business roll, with the difficulty being based on the number of shares you're trying to buy. Exceeding the target number doesn't get you more shares than you wanted, but fortunately if you don't roll high enough to get the number of shares you wanted you can still buy shares based on your final total. The purchaser's assets increase by the total value of the purchased shares. It's also worth noting that when someone buys stock in a company, the company's owner does not get that cash; it's assumed to go to the shareholders.

You can also sell stock. The CEO can only sell the stock he owns (the starting 20% of the shares) at cost, and that money goes right into liquid funds. This works like purchasing, where you have to make a business roll to see how many shares you actually manage to sell. This means that it's harder to sell off large amounts of shares at once, which makes sense because nobody wants to buy into a company when the CEO is selling off all his shares.

You have the option of purchasing bonds, either in the "blue chip" or "junk" varieties. Money used for blue chip bonds is put aside for six months, at which point (assuming you're still in business) it returns with 10% interest with no roll required. Junk bonds, however, require a business roll against a difficulty of 14. Success means you get a 20% return on your investment, if you fail then you default and lose all that money.

Any company can issue bonds, again as blue chip or junk. You can issue bonds for up to your minimum monthly debt payment as blue chip, but more than that and they're junk bonds. The cost of the bond plus the 10%/20% is added to the corporation's debt total, but from what I can see there's no reason to do this because all it does is put you further into debt with no benefits whatsoever.

This is the point where you can pay off debts by just paying out of your liquid assets.

Now we start getting to the stuff where you're actively loving with the other company's stock.

A stock assault is when you attempt to forcably reduce the value of another company's stock. To do this, you spend money in ¥100 million increments, each payout letting you make a difficulty 8 business roll. The better you roll the bigger a hit the target's stock value takes, from ¥100/per share up to ¥1000/share for a "spectacular" success.

You can perform a stock defense to prevent this from happening by spending ¥100 million to cancel an attacker's payout one-for-one. So if one person spends ¥500 million on a stock assault, and the defender spends ¥300 million, then the attacker only gets to roll twice.

You can attempt a hostile takeover, which is when you attempt to buy more stock in a company than is actually available for sale. Once you allocate funds for this, you make a business roll with a target number of the opposing CEO's base business skill. If you succeed, you buy the stock as normal. If you own more than half the stock in a company, you sieze it and add it to your corporate structure.

And again, you can perform a takeover defense by just allocating money, which cancels out the attack's allocated money one-for-one.

Lastly, you can perform corporate restructuring for ¥100 million, which just lets you rearrange your corporation's structure.

Technically after you take all your corporate maneuvers, you move to the final phase. But since Torg is one of the worst organized RPGs ever written, afer all the maneuver descriptions we're informed about something you're supposed to do before you do your maneuvers. At least, I think you are...it says you're supposed to do this before the "corporate operations phase", but there's no phase with that name. I'm assuming they mean maneuvers here.

Regardless, you can try to purchase new companies that were offered by the GM by bidding on them. Each CEO rolls their business, with the higher roll being able to bid on a company first. This is just a basic back-and-forth auction that goes until one person backs out. The winner places the corpotation in their structure and pays the cost. Any companies not purchased in this phase are discared, as it's assumed they're bought out by other megacorps.

The end of the corporate management sequence is stock and asset adjustment, which just means you calculate all your new values based on all the goings on. Oh, and now they talk about how the GM should take the PCs blowing up competitor's assets into account, and it's just "give it a value in yen, deduct it from the owner's assets". I mean, I figured that was the case, but again there's no info or guidelines for things that are a little beyond "we blew up X yen worth of stuff".

At this point you're done with the monthly management. One thing to bear in mind too (and again, they don't mention this until the end, and in what seems like an unrelated section) is that every quarter you have to pay out to your shareholders. This means that every company in your structure has to pay out 1% of its income. Failure to pay this means that the company gets +10 to its stock fluxuation roll until it can pay out.


So now I'm sure you're all wondering what the hell the point of all this is.

The answer, believe it or not, is that it's a way to kick 3327 out of the High Lord's seat.

It's important to remember that despite the power of the Darkness Device, 3327 is still subject to the Laws of his world. Not only does he have his responisibilities as the CEO of Kanawa and everything back in Marketplace, Daikoku (his Darkness Device) is also attuned to the nature of Marketplace and has become as addicted to "profit" as 3327. Yeah, it only cares about profit in terms of how much possibility energy its fed, but still.

If the war on Core Earth ever became unprofitable, if the Kanawa Corproration ever dipped into the red, 3327 would be hosed. According to the laws he himself set up in his culture, he would immediately be stripped of his position, have all his possessions siezed, locked in a room, given 24 hours to recoup the losses, and either commit suicide or get shot in the back of the head, his choice.

And Daikoku wouldn't help him at all. In fact, it'd sever the bond with him and vanish, possibly saying "I guess you've lost it, kid" on the way out, and seek out a new person to empower as High Lord of Marketplace. It's doubtful Kanawa's new CEO would want to hold onto an unprofitable venture, so it's pretty likely Kanawa would be out of business for good.

Corprorate warfare is intended to allow the PCs to do that. Obviously it'd take a while, and the book suggests that you start with the PCs taking out a few smaller megacorps before tackling Kanawa itself, but still it's a potential win condition.

---
You know, I'm kind of torn on this. On the one hand it's a lot of math and it's pretty dry for the most part. On the other, it's modern-day domain management and that's pretty cool. The whole corporate warfare thing is an interesting way to allow players to fight against 3327 more-or-less directly.

Still, I can't imagine this was something that saw a ton of use.


NEXT TIME: Remote offices, miracles, gear, and character templates

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Zereth posted:

Is it just me or if you have 19 billion in assets and roll a 16, is your minimum mostly payment really, really small?

Oh man, amazing catch. I had to look at that like five times before I saw what you meant.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



quote:

Unlike a Lovecraftian god, the Wyrm cares about humanity, the Garou, and everything else. It hates everything.
Just as an aside, this sentence sums up why I hate Lovecraftian horror. Alien space gods who don't know we're here while stomping on us are a lot less scary to me than alien space gods who are specifically gunning for us.

I had this whole thing I wrote up a while ago about how Jack Kirby's Darkseid and Terry Pratchett's Auditors were better cosmic horror than anything Lovecraft wrote.

That's my story, I'm just going to go over here now and be a total nerd.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



That Old Tree posted:

I think the big problem is that the books act like these characters are all supposed to have coherent, solid magical traditions, which is after all what makes the warring factions make any goddamn sense. But then a lot of the time no one seems to care, including some of the authors, because ~the truth~ means none of that actually matters. And then, uh, why did I spend $50+ on these books all about these dumb delusional factions that are dumb and delusional?

Because supplement treadmill, that's why.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 12h: Work Sites, Assets, Human Resources, and the Exit Interview

The next few chapters are pretty short, so I'm just going to cover them all in one big wrap-up post so we can finish up with the realm.

Chapter 7 is called Flash Points, and is the obligatory collection of "typical" adventure sites, with maps and a hook or two each. Nothing to spend a lot of time with, but let's run down what they have anyway.

First up is the John Woo staple, the Yakuza Armory/Safehouse. This is pretty much what you'd expect: a place for the Yakuza enforcers to hide out and gear up. Now that 3327 is effectively running the whole show, security's been beefed up from the old days of "a few scowly guys in sunglasses". Getting in quietly requires keycards and "invoices" from one of the Yakuza's cover companies. Getting in loudly involves the sorts of weapons you'd expect it to.

Taking a Yakuza warehouse can net you a lot of hardware, and maybe a drug shipment or two if you're lucky.


This place is very...rectangular.

The Rauru Block Headquarters isn't a generic location. In fact, the HQ is actually the summer home of one of the member CEOs. It's a nice, large two-story house up near the mountains in Osaka, and sadly doesn't have much by way of security. The only reason 3327 hasn't just killed everyone who lives there is because he's still in the early, subtle stages of the takeover.

quote:

An unknown percentage of Samayura's servants are actually corporate ninja, who serve as bodyguards to the industrialist and the other CEOs who visit the palace.
I guess people are acclimating to "corporate ninja" pretty well if Core Earth companies are starting to get them on the payroll.

Ueno Park is the Core Earth headquarters of the Shiki, who you may remember are the Marketplace-based eco-warrior rebellion. A bunch of operatives managed to come down the bridge and have set up shop in the area around the park.


Not that I blame them, the place is beautiful.

And that's a good thing, because the shifting of Japan's axioms has turned the park from one of the country's main tourist attractions into an area rife with criminal and gang presense. Currently control of the area is a tug-of-war between the Shiki and the gangs, with 3327 waiting for one side to wipe the other out so he can come in and mop up whoever's left.

Next up is the good old-fashioned Gospog Factory. As stated previously, 3327 doesn't rely on gospog like the other High Lords do; having giant monstrosities wandering around killing people doesn't really help the whole "secret takeover" thing, so he relies more on human operatives.

That said, 3327 isn't stupid. He knows how useful gospog are, so he's still making them. He's just doing it in a converted hydroponics lab instead of a giant field full of dead bodies.

Then there's the Sons of the Wind Temple, a.k.a. "the dojo you have the big martial arts smackdown at". It's in a suitably out-of-the-way place that requires a difficulty 15 climbing roll to get to, and even when you reach it you might think it was an old Shinto temple. There's really no reason to come here except to meet the Sons of the Wind and then get attacked by ninjas.

Lastly, the Izumo-Taisha Shrine is one of the oldest temples in Japan, as well as being one of the most important. Legend says that all the Shinto gods gather here every October, and given everything that's going on now that might actually be happening.

A number of Palanic priests have set up shop here, some from Marketplace and other converts from Core Earth. The Shinto priests who maintain the shrine allow the Palanic priests sanctuary, unaware that a lot of them have turned their back on their pacifist ways and are actually sneaking out to sabotage 3327's assets. 3327 hasn't made a move against the temple yet, because he knows better than to sent task forces to attack one of the most important sites in the country.


Now we go to Chapter 8, Miracles of Faith. The Spiritual axiom of Nippon Tech is just below that of Core Earth, so miracles are possible, but very hard to pull off. Back in the cosm, only priests of Palan were capable of performing miracles and even then it took years of training. In the realm, Shinto priests are finding themselves capable of performing miracles under the new rules.

That said, there's really not a lot here, though. I might as well just run down the full list:
  • Bow Master gives you +3 to your missile weapons skill for a day.
  • Call Animals summons all animals (or one specific animal type) in a 600-meter radius. That's a third of a mile. That's a lot of animals. Note that you can't control or communicate with them without using other miracles.
  • Captivate requires you to speak for a solid minute, which will cause the targets to be unable to do anything but listen to the priest until he stops talking or the target is attacked.
  • The Death of Sound is an indie prog rock band a ridiculously overpowered miracle that cancels all sound in a 150 meter radius for five minutes. That's one and a half football fields. I'd imagine any benefit you'd gain from stealth would be negated by everyone in the building panicing because they think they all went deaf.
  • Detect Deception will allow you to detect all untruths for an hour.
  • Flame Burst causes an existing flame to explode to "20 times greater than the original source".
  • Ghost Walk lets the target do the walk-on-rice-paper thing, leaving no trace of passage. The target cannot be tracked with the tracking skill, but can be tracked with the detect miracle rite.
  • Pathway is divine GPS; you know the best route to any geographic location.
  • Purify Poison does what it says on the label.
  • Spirit Flight is basically "astral form". Your spirit is set free, allowing you to move around ignoring obstacles. You can't move more than 300 yards from your body without increasing the difficulty of maintaining the spell, and you can't interact with things in the physical world. You are completely invisible (except to detect miracle), and can interact with spirits. This lasts until you return to your body.
  • Spirit Quest just gives you +3 to Spirit-based rolls for an hour.
  • Staff of Palan gives the priest's staff +1 to its damage value.
  • Sword Master is the same as Bow Master, except the bonus is for melee weapons.
  • True Vision lets you see in the dark and detect hidden doors and panels.
  • Voices of Stone allows you to talk to rocks. It does not force the rock to actually tell you anything, which means you could cast the miracle and get nothing for it.
  • Wings of Sparrow gives you a whopping +1 to your dodge for an hour.

Oh, and there's a miracle that creates a whirlwind that flings stuff around hard enough to hurt people called Kamikaze. I mean, yes, "kamikaze" means "spirit wind" but come on you had to use that word? It's not like the associated baggage that comes with it isn't widely known.

Leaving that awkwardness behind we come to the Equipment chapter. Here we learn the current exchange rates ($1 = ¥140), and this is important because all the prices here are given in yen. They also give a table of how much the value of the yen will deflate over the course of the invasion because that matters. I mean, it's not like they did that for any of the other realities or realms. I'd imagine having Generic Fantasy World land on England and northern Europe did a number on the economy there, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing in the Asyle book about that.

Anyway, we get the usual list o' weapons here. The normal firearms don't have too much that's really worth talking about because it's all "modern guns, just a point or two better" stuff, although it's interesting to note that a bunch of guns publicly sold by the Kanawa Corporation's subsidiaries are made from plastics, which means they don't set off metal detectors. I'm sure that isn't causing worldwide problems.

The melee weapons section is actually a lot leaner than you'd expect. Yeah, there's the katana and the manriki-gusari are included, as they were in any 90's RPG that even mentioned martial arts, but apart from that you've got the shimsi sword (the smaller ninja katana), nunchaka, and throwing stars and that's it.

That's not to say there's not more weapons, it's just that they've been teched up a bit. So you have shock swords (always deal a K result on top of everything else), heat-seeking throwing stars, spring-loaded stiletto, and the EMP Sai that can knock out all electronics in a 10 meter radius for two minutes.

On the plus side, we do have power armor. Sort of.

quote:

Rijato Battlesuit: One of the most sophisticated suits of armor in the realm, the Rijato is solar-powered and equipped with wrist-blasters, magnesium flares, and magnetic repellors which allow it to fly. It is not intended to be worn, but can be controlled from afar via a cybernetic helmet. This armor is beyond even the Tech axioms of Nippon, and at present only the prototype is known to exist (it was stolen by its inventor before 3327 could appropriate it). It is not available on the open market, and there is no way of knowing if it could ever be duplicated.

Due to the strain of maintaining cybernetic control of the armor, for every hour in which the armor is in use, there is a -1 penalty to all of the controller's Mind-based skills. These skills can be returned to normal by resting for a number of hours equal to the time spent operating the armor.

The wrist-blasters do damage value 18(range 3-40/200/5OO), the magnesium flares are damage value 9 (range1-6/15/40-unprotected eyes only),and the armor can fly at a speed of 70 kmh.
I know it sounds more like a plot device than gear, but believe it or not there's a reason for this entry which we'll get to in a bit.

The improvement in technology has made the dream of "domestic robots" come true. At least, it came true for people who could afford the ¥2.1 million price tag. The Mitsubishi Home-Domo will cook, clean, perform household maintenance, and even provide early warning against gas attack! Sadly, they don't tell you what it looks like so I don't know if it's a humaniod robot or if it looks like something from Runaway.

The "Adventuring Gear" section has all the espionage gadgets you'd expect; electronic lockpics, grapple guns, tracers, signal scramblers, that sort of stuff. But the main attraction here are the "domestic" electronics.

Why? Because trying to predict technologies will never not be funny.

quote:

Zamftech Monolith: The RISC17-based Monolith computer features a single chip containing the 64 bit video coprocessor, floating point co-processor, and voice recognition processor. Comes bundled with touchpad, 32Mb memory, multiple output option module, including both color and tactile compatibilities and a 1 Gb optical drive. Memory can be increased to 256 Mb and up to seven additional optical drives can be daisy-chained to the primary drive.
I think that's supposed to be a desktop computer.

quote:

Misaki XE Laptop Computer: The hottest selling portable in Marketplace and Nippon, tlus unit features a fast RISC15 processor-a single chip containing the 16 bit video coprocessor, floating point co-processor, and voice recognition processor. Comes with 16 Mb memory, 100 Mb storage, and weighs less than four pounds.
Less than four pounds and 100 Mb storage? For only ¥120,000/$859? Sorcery!


I imagine it looks like something like this.

quote:

Sony Talkman: The latest revolution in cellular technology, the Talkman is a personal telephone no larger than a wallet. It can be worn on a belt or inside a suitcoat to receive calls at any time, and can also be used in conjunction with the Zamftech Personal FAX.
You can also buy scramblers and descramblers for your phone. Just remember to set it to "vibrate" before you infiltrate a Kanawa location.

quote:

Nintendo 32-Bit NES III: Nippon's most popular home entertainment unit, available cartridges include Zelda V, Ninjn Castle, Mega-Corporate Wars, Ronin Rampage, and Evander Holyfield Ten Count. Unit comes standard with stereo headphones and 6" 64-bit color display.
Remember when we cared how many bits a console had? :allears: Although I'm impressed that the NES III has a larger screen than a New 3DS. Just for the record, in 1991 the SNES had just come out in the states, and the original brick Game Boy had been out for about a year and a half.

Finally, at long last, we come to the character templates. There aren't that many templates for Nippon Tech or Marketplace, with the core set having a whopping two, both from Marketplace:

The Contract Ninja does bad things for money, but doesn't take pleasure in it. That said, he's not liking how a lot of his bretheren are starting to enjoy their work a little too much. Going against the clan made him a target, so now he's on the run and looking for...other options when it comes to employment. His tag skill is martial arts.


The Disgruntled Corporate used to work for Mitsuyana Industries, one of the companies on the wrong end of 3327's rise to power. She didn't like that; she also didn't like that working for the wrong company could get you killed by ninjas, assault teams, or street gangs for hire. Sick of seeing the downward spiral that is Marketplace "corporate politics", she put in her notice and headed to Core Earth to be a consultant. She starts with a Panasonic Currency Emulator ("manufactures copies of up to 1, 000 units of any paper currency per cartridge", not mentioned anywhere else, probably illegal as gently caress), some gadgets, a fake ID, and ¥5,000,000.

Those are pretty...dull, and point to the problem Nippon Tech's always had; the writers had no idea what characters would do there. Fortunately, the realm book added a bunch more options.

The Corproate Ninja used to work for the weakest companies. Not because of honor or a love of the underdog, but because the opponents put up more of a challenge. As the corporate war spread into Core Earth, he was approached by agents of the Rauru Block and hired to fight for them. This is just the Contract Ninja, updated with the stuff from this book.

The Kashi Hacker is a Marketplace freedom fighter from a long line of people who've been fighting the corproate overlords. Unlike most of Kashi, she doesn't rely on sabotage and propaganda. Instead, she got a corporate position to gain access to the computer networks of the megacorps. When she learned of the Core Earth invasion, she got herself added to the project. Now, she uses her skills to aid the Rauru Block and diseminate information to Storm Knight groups. She starts with a hilariously clunky laptop, and her tag skill is science.


The Mega-Corporation CEO is from Core Earth, and knew something was off about Kanawa from the start. This caused him to become a bit of a business pariah as the companies he used to have good relations with started dancing to Ryuchi Kanawa's tune. Refusing to play ball resulted in one of his factories being bombed and the murders of a good number of his higher-ups. Now allied with the Rauru Block, his main contribution is in the financial sector. He starts with a Brooks Borthers suit, ¥1 billion, and (of course) his own megacorporation. His tag skill is business.

The Priest of Palan started out as a low-level office drone. Then he heard the words of Palan, the idea that all men were equal regardless of wealth or position, the idea that the world was beautiful once and could be again. In a moment of clarity, he left his company (costing them 300k credits on the way out because gently caress those guys) and joined the priesthood. And everything was fine until the Termination and thousands of Palan's faithful were wiped out. He managed to insinutae himself back into corporate life as a low-level beurocrat to get to Core Earth, and is now helping mobilize resistance. His tag skill is focus.

The Rauru Block Agent is, well, some guy with a gun. There's no real background for this guy, and his description boils down to "you see Japan going down the toilet and are fighting back". His tag skill is evidence analysis.


The Rijato Armored Warrior is the guy who developed and stole that power armor we read about back in the Equipment chapter. His tag skill is science.

quote:

For years, you were an integral part of the crack research and design team in a South Korean electronics firm. Shortly before the Possibility Wars broke out in various nations, you and your crew were working on plans for an armored battlesuit, something beyond the limits of current technology. So absorbed were you in your work that you took no notice of the purchase of your firm by the Kanawa Corporation.

Finally, it was ready, a prototype suit of armor that might never be duplicated. Devastating wrist blasters, magnetic repellors for flight, and various other devices made it virtually priceless on the open market.

Then the word came down from the 75th floor of the Kanawa Building in Tokyo: the Rijato belonged to the mega-corporation. You didn't want to see your work turned into a weapon of destruction. You slipped past the guards at the research center, altered the helmet so it would respond only to your mind, and stole the battlesuit.
Yes, he didn't want his suit of power armor with the wrist mounted blasters used as "a weapon of destruction". Because it'd have so many domestic uses I guess.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CISRRn3wolk


The Ronin is actually a samurai from Marketplace. He inherited the title from his father, but while traditionally a samurai would serve a master, he descided that being a free agent would work out better for him in the long run. This turned out to be a bad descision, because a contract from 3327 himself led you to kill the elderly mother of a Shiki leader. He then made the worst mistake of his life: telling 3327 he wouldn't complete the contract. This branded him a criminal with a sizeable price on his head, sending him into hiding until he learned of 3327's movement into Core Earth. His tag skill is melee weapons.

The Shiki is a street punk who's joined with other punks for mutual survival. Nobody cares about the lower classes in Marketplace apart from the Shiki group, and this kid was part of the front-line fighters who had to deal with MarSec and would raid warehouses for things like food. He was hand-picked to go to Core Earth, where he hooked up with other like-minded individuals. His tag skill is fire combat/

The Son of the Wind was living in a remote temple when the invasion happened, but could sense the change in the land. Calling together the Sons, he petitioned that the group should take up arms and fight the invaders. Unfortunately, most of the Sons felt that the best course of action would be to remain in seclusion rather than risk getting wiped out. Unwilling to stand by and do nothing, he left the temple and entered the world at large for the first time. Adjusting to things has taken a while, but he doesn't regret his choice for a second. His tag skill is martial arts.

The Yakuza Enforcer is one of the old guard. He was respected, feared, and wealthy. But then there was the takeover. The restructuring. All of a sudden he found himself working under a different daimyo and being sent to raid corporations and threaten businessmen. Which made no sense; what the hell did the yakuza care about electronics firms? A little digging revealed that Isei Sagato wasn't the one actually in charge anymore, and that the yakuza was being used as a blunt instrument in a much larger battle. He's still in the yakuza, but now he's doing a little...moonlighting on the side. His tag skill is fire combat.

And that, at long last, brings us to the end of the Nippon Tech book. So what does the future hold for 3327?

Within a year 3327 does manage to drop a second bridge in Sacramento, California, driving back the Living Land and making an enemy of Baruk Kaah. 3327 did this by uprooting Living Land stelae and quickly replacing them with Nippon Tech ones. To the outside world, this looked like the Living Land territory was just receding from around Sacramento for no reason. Dubbed "The Miracle of Sacramento", this spurred the stateside development of the Kanawa Corporation with the grateful backing of the American government.


For Torg, this is pretty mundane.

He also expands westward from Japan, dropping two more bridges in Japan and siezing Taiwan and South Korea. From there he begins moving into mainland China.

That's not to say it's all gravy for 3327. Tharkoldu agents, still pissed that he was responsible for their failure in Russia, begin sabotaging Nippon Tech stelae in America. As a result, Kanawa expansion hasn't been as fast as 3327 would like.

Unsurprisingly, 3327 doesn't have too many allies among the other High Lords due to the fact that he sells weapons to the good guys and has been doing the land grab trick. The only ones who'll have anything to do with him are Uthorion (who's so weakened he'll take any help he can get) and Mobius (who's crazy).

The early failures spur 3327 to begin striking harder, which is the first step on him being revealed as a High Lord. That revelation wouldn't come for about three years, but before then he starts expanding faster and further.

Then Tharkold will drop a bridge on L.A., and 3327 will suddenly find himself in a much shakier position.

---
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Nippon Tech.

I feel like Nippon Tech is right up there with the Living Land in terms of being a really interesting setting idea that falls flat due to bad presentation and lack of thought about what you'd do there. I realize that the 90's were a ways before we as a hobby started asking things like "so what do we actually do with this?". But even so, there doesn't seem to be any effort put into things apart from there being martial arts and megacorps.

I said this before, but Nippon Tech should be "Robocop and Judge Dredd by way of John Woo". All the elements are there: the out-of-control corporate culture, the huge gap between the haves and have-nots, the inbuilt crime drama and revenge story motifs.

But none of it hangs together. Each concept lives in near total isolation from the others, leaving everything feeling disjointed.

I remember someone saying that in the original Feng Shui that the Buro was included so that people had a place to get high-tech guns from, but the developers didn't expect that people would want to go to that juncture and hang out.

I get the impression that Nippon Tech suffered from the same problem. They needed a place for PCs to get weapons and high-tech gear, so they created this realm. But oddly, they didn't realize that if you make a region in your setting and earmark it as being important, then people are going to want to go there and learn more about it.

Ultimately Nippon Tech ends up being another example of Torg's biggest problem: good ideas, poorly implemented. And it's a shame, because who wouldn't want to play in the RPG equivalent of Sleeping Dogs?


NEXT TIME: A different reality! What will it be!?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Selachian posted:

So, all it takes is one bad disconnection roll and this guy's insanely expensive, almost irreplaceable suit of power armor breaks, right?
Right. Just like pretty much everyone else because at some point you're going to go somewhere your gimmicks don't work.

quote:

How about Aysle next? I have ... fond memories of the horror that is the Torg magic system.
See below, but yes. I will be attempting to make a spell.

Young Freud posted:

No mention of the Impala Chaingun? Man-portable gatling gun being used in Yakuza wars sounds like it's pretty important. But, you're right, there only really difference with Nippon Tech weapons is that they're chambered for higher calibers like the 13mm Chunyokai (being the Desert Eagle point-five-oh before Magnum Research even created the caliber) or having huge magazine capacities like the SC Kyogo T11 assault rifle, with "four times the ammo per clip as the AK-47 or the M-16".

Then the better guns like the Hachiman "Big Thunder" pistol and the Militech A-35 rifle ended up in the Kanawa Personal Weapons book, taking the whole shine off those guns.
Well, they kind of shot themselves in the foot with the fact that Marketplace technology is barely above that of Core Earth (the Tech axiom is Nippon Tech is only one point higher). When you get right down to it, there's not a lot that really differentiates it from Core Earth apart from the martial arts stuff.

quote:

I always figured that Nippon Tech was really more the place for James Bond-style gadget-based superspy espionage adventures. 3327 himself looks like he's a Bond villain and the higher-tech meant you could have explosive pens and fight guys with prosthetic claw hands and metal teeth. Or stuff out of Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD: a Helicarrier and rocket bikes wouldn't be out of place in Nippon Tech. I don't think NT was meant to be a catalog for "high-tech guns", because you have if you wanted straight-up high-tech gear and guns, you had cosms like the Cyberpapacy and later Tharkold that produced gear that would blow away anything produced by Kanawa. Even the one-off prototype Rijato Battlesuit pales in comparison to the Chod power armors from Tharkold or the GWI Devastator, which are mass-produced power armors. I really think they wanted Nippon Tech to be the "Ninjas and Superspies" realm, just like Nile Empire is the "Pulp Adventure" realm, Asyle being "High Fantasy" realm, Orrosh the "Horror" realm, Living Land being the "Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lost World" simulator, and Cyberpapacy as the "Cyberpunk" realm.
But again (and I know you'll agree with me), there's a huge gap between what they seemed to want and what they actually put out. There was little to no thought put into reinforcing the themes of most of the realms outside the world laws. Instead it's new mechanical subsystems and long boring lists of every minor location. Orrorsh and the Nile Empire got off okay, but the rest...well...

It's why I'm trying to be really really hopeful about the new Torg stuff. I want Torg designed and presented with a modern "focused design" mindset.

THAT BEING SAID, my next Torg chunk will probably be a repeat of the Nile Empire, taking my old posts and fixing all the problems I see in them now so they can get archived by inklespleen.

After that, I'm either going to do Orrorsh or Aysle (for which I will still attempt to create a spell). After those will be the Living Land and Core Earth, and then the realms that dropped in later.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



e: Stupid post getting lost then reappearing while I retyped it... :argh:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



unseenlibrarian posted:

While part of the reason for all the melee weapons in Traveller is just "All the other games have them", for some reason it was a -thing- in sixties and seventies sci-fi that everyone would be fighting with swords in space because "Let's puncture space-suits with rapiers and not shoot holes in the ship walls" was a thing that came up in more than one book back then.

Also, they're not so clumsy or random as a blaster.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Hey inklesspen, did you see my response to your thing at the end of the last thread about my reviews?

1) The Apocalypse World and Misspent Youth reviews were completed.
2) I would like the old Torg review replaced in the archive with the "rebooted" one.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



inklesspen posted:

I saw the second one. Did not see the first one. I'll get to the Torg stuff "soon", but possibly not this week, sorry.

Both the Apocalypse World and Misspent Youth reviews end with a promise of more posts. Were these posts made? If so, I'll need to add them.
Yeah, there were. The last Apocalypse World post is here.

Also holy poo poo I forgot to finish Misspent Youth. I could have loving sworn I did because of the whole thing where I was trying to get it done before I met the author again after telling him I'd review it. I need to finish that since I'm a dumbass.

There's no rush for you, though. I was just checking since I'm rebooting the whole Torg thing and will be reposting content.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Thanks, man. Sorry for being a pest.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



There's nothing inherently wrong with using random tables for inspiration or to get past a bad case of writer's block. The problem sets in when people start using random tables for everything, using them to replace coming up with stuff on their own.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



PurpleXVI posted:

I don't think that's necessarily bad, no amount of random tables will completely generate a character for you, conceptually. At some point you'll always need to make some connections or add in some explanations(if you don't, then you've certainly found or made the holy grail of random generation), like why your anemic Literature major starts with an RPG-7 and fifty pounds of ham in her inventory or why the town of Townshire has a population of 75% sentient ostriches. The main issue with random gen is when the random generation affects mechanics and isn't balanced, in a lot of systems there's way too much chance of being given an unplayable character OR causing too huge a variance in character power. A game is often less fun if one guy is Superman and the other guy is The Amazing Left Nostril.
This is why Reign's random character creation option is so good. It works because a) you're starting with a baseline human and building up instead of having the D&D swingyness, and b) you're not just generating your abilities, you're also generating why you have those abilities. Hell, you can even mix the random chargen with pointbuy if you want.

Thank god the Reign character generator is saved on Wayback.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Zereth posted:

Except isn't that guy's suit of remote control armor not compatible with the axioms of anywhere including where it was developed? The thing's going to gently caress up, sooner rather than later, and there'll be no way to fix it.

Well, let's look at the numbers.

The battlesuit is Tech 25. Nippon Tech is Tech 24, and since the character is from the Nippon Tech realm his personal Tech axiom is also 24.

Using the suit in Nippon Tech will have a decent chance of disconnection. He's using a device that has a higher axiom than both himself and the reality he's in. That's a four-case contradiction, which means that he disconnects on a roll of 1 to 4 when using the suit.

If he does disconnect, he'll have to try to reconnect. If he's in a fight that has to be his next action. It's a reality skill roll, but at least reconnecting to your home realm while in that realm is difficulty 0.

The thing is, though, there's only three realities he can use the suit without heavily risking disconnection: the Cyberpapacy (Tech 26), Tharkold (also Tech 26, but doesn't show up until later), and one of the SPOILER realms. Everywhere else it's going to be a four-case contradiction, and in those three it's still a one-case since the armor's more advanced than the character.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Zereth posted:

I feel like they didn't actually think this through when making

I was about to say "this character type" but you could put nearly anything in the gameline there and have it still work, couldn't you. :shepface:
drat near. Remember, using anything in a reality that doesn't support it will risk disconnection on bad rolls.

Cyberware anywhere outside the Cyberpapacy? Risks. Guns in about half the realities on the map? Risks. Magic most places outside Aysle? Risks.

In actual play it doesn't happen that often, but it's still a pain in the rear end because you either have to waste a turns in combat reconnecting or have your character swapped to a different concept. In the last Torg game I played, my snakry Nile Empire two-fisted private eye got turned into a hardass Tharkold soldier, and the American secret agent/black ops guy got swapped to the Living Land and couldn't use any of his cool gadgets or most of the skills he was built around.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



wiegieman posted:

Isn't the whole point of storm knights that they don't have stupid disconnection problems? That they can go be a wizard in a a place magic doesn't work?

Hahaha nope! The thing about being a Storm Knight is that you can resist being changed.

Normal people ("Ords") can store only a single possibility point. When a reality zone replaces a different one, every ord in the zone will eventually transform to the new reality. It might take a while, but eventually they're going to switch. When they do, they unknowingly spend their one point to survive the change. Normally that point would be refreshed by the reality, but the Darkness Devices redirect that "refresh" to the High Lords.

Storm Knights are people who can store more than a single point, and can keep their original axioms with them. This is represented by the reality skill, which you have to roll to reconnect. Even so, loving up a reconnection roll can result in you changing to the new reality.

Yes, a wizard can go somewhere where magic doesn't work and cast spells, but each time he risks disconnection because he's doing something not supported by local reality.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kurieg posted:

I thought you could spend a possibility to make a bubble of your reality and not risk disconnection for a while, but since possibilities are rare that's not something you'd want to do 100% of the time.

You can, but reality bubbles only last for 15 minutes, and have to be fueled with possibility points, which are also your experience points.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Serf posted:

I'll admit that I laughed at this because I love Big Trouble in Little China. But this and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuff really has no place in the book. The latter would be cute if there was a Buffy RPG, but I don't see how it belongs in an unrelated WoD book.

Well, they would have been timely references back when Mage first came out in the 90's. Nerd culture's moved on a bit since then.

Although technically the reprints are for people who did play the originals in the 90's, I guess...

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 13a: Welcome to the Nile Empire...now DIE!


Those are supposed to be mummies, not monkeys.

Robed priests offer sacrifices to the ancient Egyptian gods to honor their High Lord.

Mathematicians, astronomers, and engineers build great works designed to channel the mystical energies of the world to smite their enemies.

Brave explorers find an an artifact in a forgotten tomb, awakening the mummy bound to guard it. Can they escape the mummy and the cultists who also seek the artifact?

A pair of murderous thugs face justice in the form of a mystery man shrouded in smoke and bearing twin pistols.

Just another day in the Nile Empire.


The New Empire of the Nile

A reality away from Core Earth is the world of Terra. Of all the invading realities, Terra is probably the "closest" to Core Earth, sharing a nearly identical history. Of course, there are a few differences.

First of all, in Terra the current year is 1936. The Great War is still a recent memory, with nations recouping losses and trying to figure out what will happen next.

Second, magic exists and technology is a little...different. Early discovery of what is termed "weird science" has affected the larger landscape of the world. Rocket Rangers in jet-powered flying suits fought in the Great War, governments develop superweapons, and countless scientists create impossible devices. Generally speaking, though, weird science hasn't really affected day-to-day life that much.

Third, there are the heroes and villains. "Mystery men" are abound, armed with strange powers, wierd science devices, and their own two fists. They are all that stands between normal folk and the churlish villains that seek to control the world.

Fourth, and most importantly: millenea ago, the man who would become Terra's High Lord was born.

Three thousand years ago in ancient Egypt, pharoh Amat-Ra had an illegitimate son named Sutenhotep. Sutenhotep was a natural leader, and managed to conquer most of northern Africa in his father's name. Despite his victories, the circumstances of his birth would prevent him from becoming pharaoh when Amat-Ra died. Instead, Sutenhotep's half-brother (and Amat-Ra's legitimate son) Toth was chosen to inherit the throne. Sutenhotep was so furious that Toth was chosen, despite the fact that he was clearly the better leader, he swore that he would not only conquer Egypt but "conquer time and eternity itself".

Exiled after an atempted coup, Sutenhotep returned home after 15 of stewing in the desert and raising a new army. This time, he managed to defeat Amat-Ra and sieze control of the nation. Sutenhotep's first order of business was to kill all his father's advisors, and his second was to order the mummification of the still-living Amat-Ra in "tribute to his station".

Amat-Ra's death was slow and torturous, but before he died he was able to curse Sutenhotep and his reign.

quote:

Amat-Ra's curse took effect almost immediately upon his death and quickly caused Egypt's fertile crops to be overcome with blight. The lands shifted into arid, barren deserts and once-complacent peasants turned into unruly rioters. A mere six months after Sutenhotep took power, he was murdered during a public speech. The large audience in attendance bore witness to his assassination, and nearly all cheered uncontrollably for days as Sutenhotep's self-proclaimed desire to rule forever was brutally crushed.

Nearly all.

Fast-forward to August 12th, 1897. Exactly three thousand years after Sutenhotep's death.

A small group of cultists, descendants of Sutenhotep's original followers, assembled on a small island in the Pacific called "Khem" and performed long, profane rituals intended to bring Sutenhotep back from the dead.

And they succeeded. Their lord and would-be pharoh once again walked the earth.

But Sutenhotep wasn't stupid. Yes, he had conqured death, but he knew that this world wasn't the one he left. He didn't immediately send out armies or start scheming takeovers. He went into the world, and studied it.

Sutenhotep spent the next few years acclimating himself with the new world he found himself in. He spent some of this time in hiding, studying books brought to him by his followers. When he felt ready, he traveled to America to see the new world first-hand. It was his stop in San Francisco that would change the world forever:

quote:

Having been thrust entirely into the world of modern science without the intermediate development years, his studies were not clouded by those restrictions that Newton and Edison had floundered in. Combined with his own knowledge of magic and their unnatural effects, his concepts of science were not limited to the realm of Newtonian physics. His genius allowed him to see beyond the scientific community's nearsightedness and discover the world of "weird" science.
Armed with this new discovery, Sutenhotep returned to Khem and began to prepare for his conquest of the world. But that would require money, and so he created a new identity for himself, one worthy of his rank and goals: Sutenhotep was dead, and Dr. Mobius was born.

Mobius spent the early part of the 1900's committing crimes to fund his wierd science research. As his crime spree continued, he became more and more confident and began operating at a higher profile. It wasn't long before scientific prodigy Dr. Alexis Frest was able to predict Mobius's next move and aid the police in capturing him.

(In case you're wondering, Mobius's MO was to commit a robbery, then use an invisibility belt to hide in the room he committed his crime in. He'd wait patiently for the police to arrive and perform their investigation, and then just follow them out the door when they were done, probably trying not to laugh.)

Mobius managed to escape custody thanks to a teleportation device, and laid low for a few years. He tried his hand at crime again in New York, but once again met defeat, this time at the hands of private eye Rex McMasters. Frest was brought in once again and, using a thought-scanning device of his own invention, learned of Mobius' teleporter and confiscated it before sending Mobius to jail once more.

It took three years of scrounging small devices in prison for Mobius to make a replacement.

Mobius's first act upon freeing himself was to kidnap Frest and his family. Mobius continued his crime wave, only to be thwarted by the rising number of "mystery men" around the world. Foremost among them was the hero known only as "The Guardian", and it was in 1925 that Mobius and the Guardian would have a fateful meeting.

Mobius had learned of an ancient artifact that would give him the power he needed to finally conquer Terra. Breaking into a museum, he found it on display: a small statue of his patron god Sebek. The Guardian was there to stop him, and as they fought Mobius let slip the location of Frest and his family before managing to escape.

The Guardian single-handedly freed Frest and his family, and together The Guardian and Dr. Frest assembled a society of pulp heroes to put an end to the threat of Dr. Mobius once and for all: The Mystery Men.

Dr. Mobius, however, would vanish soon thereafter thanks to the artifact: the Darkness Device known as the Kefertiri Idol. Armed with the power of the Darkness Device, Mobius was able to travel to other worlds that were more ripe for the picking, conquer them, drain them dry, and move on without having to worry about those accursed heroes interfering.

Which brings us to the Near Now. Mobius has already conquered nine other cosms, with Core Earth being his "Tenth Empire", or (as he calls it) the "Nile Empire". The new reality he has brought down on Northern Africa has not only effectively turned back the clock to the mid-1930's, it's also brought the power of magic and weird science to the world, reshaping it to his whims. Now the ancient guardians under the pyramids awaken, forgotten artifacts surge with mystic power, and madmen design impossible weapons in hidden laboratories in Cairo.

Forutately, this new reality has brought new heroes with it to stand against them.



Dr. Mobius, High Lord of the Nile Empire

There are two important things to bear in mind about Mobius before we get to specifics.

First off, he is completely, utterly insane. Mobius is fond of dangerous schemes, bizarre deathtraps, and maniacal laughter. He takes a personal hand in his plans, and loves pitting himself against heroes of every stripe. In many ways he's a spoiled child, convinced that he's owed everything and taking things by force when denied. Despite this, he's still a genius and is capable of both high magics and incredible scientific discoveries. He is a meticulous planner, preparing back-up plans and plotting things to the point where he could give you an exact percentage of his progression in any scheme while he strapped you under the death ray. In fact, he's probably the only High Lord the characters would interact with directly since Mobius loves getting his hands dirty and facing off against do-gooders.

The second is that, despite conquering nine other realities and being a High Lord, Dr. Mobius never conquered his home cosm of Terra. This has a few implications, the main one being that the Nile Empire on Core Earth is not exactly the same as the reality of Terra. Because Terra's possibilities are not being siphoned by a Darkness Device, the normal flow of advancement isn't interrupted. The axioms of Terra are a little different from the Nile Empire's, and while the Nile Empire has a distict Egyptian bent to everything, back in Terra it's still more or less 1936 Earth and Dr. Mobius is Public Enemy Number One instead of the High Lord. Nobody is sure why he never took over Terra, but those in the know suspect it's the lingering effect of his father's curse.

(This also makes Terra unique among the home cosms of the Raiders; it's the only one that hasn't stagnated developmentally due to the normal flow of possibility energy being interrupted.)

In fact, Mobius's maelstrom bridge doesn't even lead back to Terra; it leads to the last cosm Mobius conquered. The Nile Empire is at the end of a "chain" of realities, meaning that to get from Core Earth to Terra would require travel across nine other cosms (that, unsurprisingly, were never actually detailed. Or even named.). This also means that it's a bit tricky for characters from Terra to get to Core Earth, but the game handled this by having Frest make a one-way, one-use bridge from Terra to Core Earth to send a bunch of hero types across.

Given all that, here's Mobius's overall agenda:

1. Achieve immortality. Yes, the Darkness Device makes him effectively immortal, but Mobius wants the real deal, without having to rely on an outside force. After all, the Kefertiri Idol could get bored with Mobius and ditch him at any moment. Right now, his best shot at immortality would involve becoming Torg.

2. Increase Personal Power. Nothing surprising here; for Mobius it's always been about power.

3. Expand the Boundaries of the Empire. The Nile Empire is the largest realm on Core Earth (taking up about a third of Africa), and Mobius just keeps on expanding southwards. Waves of shocktroops and death ray-equipped tanks make most resistance a joke. Also, when he extends his reality into the desert it retroactively becomes dotted with mystic sites and tombs full of ancient artifacts, which he can then plunder. So it's pretty much win-win.

4. Discover and Acquire Eternity Shards and Artifacts. Mobius sees these as tools to be used, weapons to be denied enemies, or bait to lure heroes into deathtraps.

5. Remove the Curse of Amat-Ra. The curse his father laid on him millenia ago still persists, and Mobius suspects that the curse is the cause for every large-scale failure he's ever come across. He's right, too; the curse slowly drains his possibility energy and causes him to automatically suffer setbacks in dramatic conflicts.

6. Solve the Mystery of the Tiles. In his investigations of places of power on Core Earth, Mobius has discovered mosaic tiles. The tiles are much older than the Earth, and are clearly alien in origin. Mobius doesn't know what they mean, but he's determined to find out. This bullet point is related to the first published adventure series, at which point it stopped mattering.

7. Explore the Ancient Mysteries of Earth's Egypt. When the Nile Empire's axioms washed over Core Earth, many of the old Egyptian legends were brought to life. Because this Egypt is different from the one Mobius remembers, he seeks out these new legends to determine their usefulness.

8. Weaken the Other High Lords. This is the lowest priority because Mobius is well aware that the High Lords fight like cats in a sack at the best of times. If there was a way to give himself a significant leg up, he'd take it of course. But until then, he's content to let the other High Lords tire themselves out fighting each other.


Really, this happens in the Nile Empire about every five minutes.

Axioms and World Laws
Let talk about how things operate in the Empire.

As stated before, the Nile Empire operates as per 1930's Earth for the most part, but the higher magic and spiritual axioms make things a little more interesting.

Technology: 21 - The Nile Empire is a little behind Core Earth tech-wise. Widespread electrical power was "recently" introduced, and most things we take for granted (like electric razors, color film, and toasters) are considered "cutting edge technology". Most methods of mass travel are pretty slow, with steam trains and slow carrier aircraft being the norm. Likewise, medical technology took a significant step backwards, and immunization isn't quite the standard procedure it used to be; disease is a very real danger.

Social: 20 - Socially speaking, things in the Empire are similar to Core Earth. The Empire does run on a large bureaucracy managed by Mobius's "overgoverners", though, and Mobius's troops enforce their rule. There's also this:

quote:

One important difference in the social arena between the Empire and Core Earth is the fact that the Terran cosm (and thus the Empire) never underwent the sexual revolution that rocked western civilization in the 1960s and '70s. An indiscreet unmarried couple from the Terran cosm that spends too much time together is the target of scandal and ridicule. Also of note is the fact that women in both the Terran cosm and the Nile Empire enjoy near-complete equality with their male counterparts, unlike the women of the Core Earth cosm of the 1920s.
In terms of entertainment, black-and-white films are still around, although the concept of "movies as art" hasn't hit yet. The main source of public entertainment are pulp novels, which, in the Empire, tend to be a bit more factual than you'd expect.

Spiritual: 17 - Unsurprisingly, people worship the Egyptian gods, and the truly devout are capable of performing powerful miracles. In addition, powerful religious artifacts exist. Most of these artifacts are buried in the African deserts, and races to them between Mobius's forces and Storm Knights are pretty common.

Magic: 12 - In addition to mythology being made real, the arrival of the Empire has brought two new schools of magic with it: mathematics and engineering. Most practitioners were brought over the bridge with Mobius's troops, but a few transformed folks have been able to learn them. Still, it means that most magic power is controlled by Mobius to some degree.

In addtion to the axioms, the Nile Empire has three world laws that it inherited from Terra that help shape the realm.

First is the Law of Morality, which states that everyone in the Empire is either Good or Evil. Period.

The Nile Empire exists in a state of black-and-white morality. Every single person, regardless of circumstances, falls into one of these two categories. It's an approximate 90%/10% split between Good and Evil in Terra, but in the Empire it's more a 60/40 split.

Basically, "evil" people put their own self interests first, although they're not adverse to working with others if they can get something out of it for themselves. "Good" characters, on the other hand, look to common interests first.

quote:

Thus, stealing is usually an evil act since the thief is acting upon his or her own self-interest instead of the interests of the victim and community. By this same token, murder, extortion. and fraud are usually evil acts as well. Note, however, that one need not be a socially defined criminal in order to be evil. According to the Terran axioms, the old man who chases small children off his lawn for no other reason than the satisfaction of screaming is evil, as is the miser who refuses to give his employees time off when they are ill or injured. At the same time, not all "good" characters are crusading crime fighters. A shopkeeper who minds his own business, pays his taxes, and shows concern for his neighbor's sick aunt is "good," as is the bystander who gives directions to a lost motorist.
In play, this effects how characters can act. Ords are unable to act against their "Inclination", although they can be tempted from one side to the other. Possibility-rated characters can act outside their Inclination, but doing so costs them a Possibility, and the GM can force the character to change Inclination if they're breaking it too often. However, if you're not in the Empire, you can break your Inclination when you want even if you're in a reality bubble.

It should be pointed out that trying to perform a morally "grey" action is a one-case contradiction, meaning you disconnect on a 1 on a d20.

The world law does give characters two mechanical abilities: you can sense someone's Inclination when you play an alertness card, and it's possible to seduce someone of the opposite Inclination to your side through Charisma checks. Success can cost the target possibilities or even get them to either pay 2 possibilities or change Inclination. However, if you try to change someone's Inclination and fail, it costs you a possibility.

There's one final effect of the Law of Morality: "The Price of Evil". This is the effect of both Amat-Ra's curse and the axioms of the Empire; any time an Evil character enters the Empire he has to immediately forfeit a possibility. Evil doesn't pay, kids.

The second world law is The Law Of Drama, and it's what makes life in the Empire what it is. Basically, it means that anything that happens involving possibility-rated characters will be as melodramatic and exciting as possible. If a scientist is kidnapped, he will have a lovely daughter who will seek out heroes for help and one oh whom she will fall in love with. If you're chasing someone through the city streets, there will be cars pulling into the street in front of you or handcarts to swerve around. If you get into a fight, the furniture will be destroyed and if there's a window someone will go through it. When the bomb is found, there will be enough time to defuse it with two seconds left on the detonator.

Going hand-in-hand with that is the last world law, The Law of Action. The Law of Action states that possibility-rated characters are capable of amazing stunts and feats of ability. In game terms, that means that p-rated characters can spend two possibilities on an action, roll twice, and choose which die he wants to add to his original roll. It's expensive, but it can give you the added "oomph" to make that roll when you really need it.


Car chases never go out of style

The combination of these world laws create a reality where advenutre is as important as gravity, where the stakes are always high, and where heroes and villains constantly clash. Magic is woven into mathematical formulas to ward against a swarm of invading mummies. A private eye jumps out a third-story window clutching a valuable lost idol while firing back at the thugs in the room he just escaped. Two cars barrel through crowded streets, a masked woman perched on the hood of the trailing car ready to leap to the pursued vehicle and save the kidnapped child inside before he is sacrificed to a forgotten god. And above it all is the specter of Dr. Mobius, weaving his insane schemes in his bid to become the Torg.

Just another day in the Nile Empire.

NEXT TIME: The red line travels across the map!

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



So I found two things while searching for a decent scan of the Nile Empire cover:

First off, this is a map of the world, showing the territory of all the realms at the beginning of the war:


Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a larger version of this.

For some reason, West End never made a map that showed all the realms at once in relation to each other. All you ever saw were the maps of the realms "up close". Hell, the Cyberpapcy map didn't show the Aysle border even though they're like 20 miles apart and you'd see it on the map at the provided scale.

That said, if anyone knows how to do something like that on a Google Map or something, please let me know. They actually gave out the exact latitide and longitude of all the stelae in the first Inifiniverse Update, so it's possible to make an actual accurate world map.

The other thing I found was this mock-up of the cover of the Revised & Expanded hardcover:

source

You know what we got instead?



:what:

The best part of that cover is that I'm pretty sure there's no way by the rules that a character could have cyber and a magic sword without worrying about disconnection all the drat time.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



By the way, I haven't really touched on the "fiction" part of Torg, mainly because it's terrible. Here's the "intro story" for the Nile Empire sourcebook:

quote:

"Have you ever pondered the concept of infinity, Dr. Flash?" Dr. Mobius asked his unwilling guest.

Dr. Flash slipped free from the fickle grasp of pain for a moment and pulled his head back, aiming the most menacing stare he could muster in the general direction of his hooded inquisitor. The chains which had bound his arms and legs for the last seven hours had finally begun to saw into his flesh, pulling a series of unfamiliar agonies from the shadowy recesses of his limbs. As Dr. Flash slowly sank back into the sea of pain, he began to notice a shrill whine screaming in the distance - a whine not entirely unakin to that of the bone saw be had heard in the neighborhood butcher shop as a child.

Suddenly animated, Mobius began speaking with uncharacteristic vigor. "Try to overcome your discomfort for a moment, Dr. Flash, and roll the idea about in your mind. Imagine a string of sand grains laid end-to-end stretching from here to the sun, or the vastness of the Nile River as seen through the eyes of the amoebas that explore its waters daily. Think of the lone pebble on the shores of the Red Sea and the single drop of blood fished from the river spilled during the First World War."

Dr. Flash tried to focus on what the madman was saying. Somewhere in his ranting was sure to be a due on how to escape this trap. In the shadowy background Dr. Flash could see the robed priests of Khem standing ready to serve their Pharaoh. There would be no help from them.

"Now, imagine a paradox so grand in scope that it dwarfs all such comparisons," Mobius continued. "Your entire universe is one of those sand grain stepping stones to the stars. Everything you could ever hope to know is of less significance than the amoeba exploring the Nile. On the scale of the infinite, all the blood that will be shed during the Possibility Raids is scarcely equivalent to that single drop."

By now, Dr. Flash was having a problem sorting Mobius' sentences into their component words and the words into their component syllables. The whine was steadily growing louder, so loud now that Dr. Flash could feel the vibrations in the core of his upper molars. It was closer, bringing more pain upon its noisome whir.

Where were the Mystery Men? Dr. Flash wondered suddenly. Surely they had noticed his absence! He remembered when he joined that organization of costumed heroes. He remembered the pledge that bound them in their fight to end Mobius' evil empire. For him, he thought regrettably, the fight would soon be over.

"I guide your mind down such paths only to provide you with a fair glimpse of your future predicament," Mobius explained, caring little if his guest could hear his monologue or not. "Soon I shall subject you to the Omegatron, my own homage to the glory of eternity. Beneath its beacon, you will feel pain unlike any you have ever imagined. Over and over, your veins shall be torn from your flesh, your limbs ripped from their sockets, and your organs crushed to dust. And since the Omegatron draws its power from a tiny chunk of Etemium, your agony shall be without end. The machine will keep you alive for eons, constantly expanding the horizons of your pain and introducing whole new worlds of torture! Such is the penalty for defying my rule!"

Mobius tossed Dr. Flash's boom belt into a corner, smiling beneath his hood at his brilliance. "You won't be teleporting out of my clutches this time, Dr. Flash." The Pharaoh signalled the priests and they began to busily manipulate a series of levers. The sounds assaulting Dr. Flash grew louder with each lever that was thrown, and the Omegatron moved into firing position.

"I regret that I cannot stay to witness your demise - but as it will continue unabated for the next millennia,
I'll be able to catch itatmy convenience," the Pharaoh called over the noise as he turned to leave. "Oh and Dr. Flash," Mobius triumphantly screamed, "be thankful that I decided to treat you so mercifully!"

The Pharaoh's booming laughter at this final cruel jest was the only sound that Dr. Flash had heard in the last five minutes. It echoed throughout the temple, following Mobius as he exited but also remaining as a tell-tale sign of his pervading presence.

Now the whine of the Omegatron swam back into Dr.Flash's awareness. Soon its beams would snap on, and only the pain would remain. Forever and ever, Dr. Flash forced his eyes to open.

The priests regarded him with all the interest that a cook pays fu boiling water. Gathering all the strength he could muster, Dr. Flash shouted above the painful noise. "You should never have left me alive, Mobius," he warned. "I swear that someday I will escape and stop you here, in this cosm called Earth, before you can spread your evil any further through the cosmverse."

But the only response to the hero's threat was increased pain as a priest twisted a dial. And the insane laughter that followed him into oblivion...

Believe it or not, that's not the worst-written fiction in Torg by a long shot.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



senrath posted:

You mean what's coming this year?

I know someone who's working on it, but he's under an NDA and won't tell me what's going on with the system.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



chiasaur11 posted:

I can believe it.

I mean, don't get me wrong. The narration is dire, and the dialog is nowhere near good. But some of Mobius's dialog works, in a mad science pulp villain way, and the bit about how he can afford to miss watching the hero die... since he'll be dying for all eternity! is prime evil megalomaniac. It's bad writing in a subgenre where a little bad writing can actually help the atmosphere.

Actually, given some of what you've said about Torg, I wouldn't be surprised if that was on the better end of the spectrum. If that's the case, I'm very grateful you haven't been touching on the fiction, and would prefer it if you continued to do so.

The Asyle sourcebook has a fiction piece that is eight page long that describes how magic works.

Eight. Pages.

Eight.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



unseenlibrarian posted:

I didn't know Brandon Sanderson worked on TORG before starting his regular writing career.

quote:

The brass hinges on the door squeaked loudly, announcing Mathea’s entrance into the classroom. The murmur of conversation died the instant she crossed the threshold, her appearance as effective as any silence spell ever cast. She moved quietly to the podium, setting down her notes and her hindsight bowl. She unstoppered her flask, emptied water into the bowl, and uttered a spell. She faced the class, looked sideways at the bowl, and an image of a whiteboard appeared behind her. Another spell, and a colored marker began to write for all to see:

Mistress Magister Mathea of the Two Towers, First Arcanum, First Division.

She turned over the first page of her notes as she absently pushed back strands of gray-streaked hair to a comfortable resting place above her spectacles. The notes were familiar; the students before her were not.

For one thing, they were all human. Not a dwarf, elf or giant among them. For another, they were clothed strangely; many wore tight-fitting straight pants, shirts with peculiar angular collars, or more comfortable looking woolen overshirts called “sweaters.” The women wore similar outfits, or skirts which would be completely useless in the field, having no pouches or pockets sewn into them.

What was truly strange was not their appearance, but their attitudes, their patterns of knowing, their view of reality. These students had been selected by Core Earth officials and approved by Pella Ardinay. They had an aptitude for magic. But they had no conception of how magic worked, no experience with its day-to-day uses. One of Mathea’s favorite examples of theorem application and restrictions, the breakfast brownie, would be meaningless to these students. They had probably never seen a brownie — at breakfast or any other meal.

Mathea cleared her throat. “Good evening. This is First Arcanum. I am Mathea, Mistress Magister from the Arcane Academy of the Two Towers. I am here through the graces of Lady Ardinay to further her efforts in helping the people of your land adjust to the reality it now holds. In Aysle, magic is pervasive; trying to adapt to Aysle without an understanding of magic is futile … ah, yes?” questioned Mathea, indicating a frantically waving youth garbed in black leather. His hair was thin, vertical and tricolored. He lowered his hand when Mathea acknowledged him.

“When I’m done with this, can I make the bullets in my Uzi explode on target?” he asked. There was a titter from one of the other students. The rest waited quietly for an answer.

Mathea took a deep breath. “Combining magical principles from Aysle with the technical artifacts from your Britain is a subject considerably more advanced than what we must cover here. Should you fail to learn — and learn completely — what I have to teach, magic will be of little use to you. Once you have mastered the knowledge I present to you, then perhaps you can experiment with the possibility of exploding bullets.”

Mathea waited a heartbeat for her words to sink in, then plunged ahead. “I have a question for you. What is magic?”

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



FMguru posted:

-
Man, TORG really was the ur-game of the 1990s, embodying all of that decade's design pathologies. Including, in this case, the tradition of soaking up pagecount and wordcount with bad, just-above-fanfic quality, in-universe fiction meant to illustrate some feature of the setting or rules.
You should have seen the novels. Sadly, the second and third novels of the original trilogy seem to have been lost to the ages, but a few of the other novels are available in PDF format. Like the one where the Gaunt Man tells his loving life story.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



FMguru posted:

Bad tie-in novels were a 1980s thing (Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms) that stretched into later decades. Filling up game books with bad fiction was a 1990s thing, and TORG looks like it was a big innovator there, like it was for so many other terrible 1990s RPG design trends (metaplot, supplement treadmill, unkillable key NPCs, etc.)

Technically, yes, the High Lords were "unkillable" since they had thousands upon thousands of possibility points, not to mention that the Darkness Devices let them get around the whole "you can only spend one possibility per roll" restriction. Even so, they still had full stat blocks. Even though apart from Mobius the PCs would probably never actually meet any of them.

Also the original novel trilogy is the lead in to the base set. It's not a tie-in, it's the backstory. The books would reference NPCs and events from the trilogy with the assumption that you read them and remembered everything that happened, because very rarely would they summarize metaplot events after the fact.

For instance, a lot of early books refer to something called the "Miracle of Sacramento". I've been a Torg fan since the beginning, and I never knew what this was or what book it was in until literally this week when I did the last post for Nippon Tech and I stumbled across it in the first Infiniverse Update.

In conclusion:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



unseenlibrarian posted:

Don't forget that the game designer of the "Five Realms" RPG-within-an-RPG that was based on TORG and TORG's game designer was actually the anti-Torg, Apeiros!

...Actually, do. Do forget that.

The only self-insert Gary Stu in history who doesn't actually do anything. At all.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



So Ryan Macklin is looking for writers for some upcoming Katanas & Trenchcoats supplements. Two of the questions he wants asked are "what is your favorite 90's RPG" and "what does 'The Dream of the 90's' mean to you?"

Part of me is really tempted to throw my name into the hat. Part of that part of me is tempted to link him to my Torg review so he can see how I'm capable of breaking 90's design down to its component parts. :v:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



People might be entertained to know that cyber-Highlander RPG Legacy: War of Ages is part of the current Bundle of Holding.

quote:

Originally published by Black Gate Publishing in 1993 during the sensational early popularity of White Wolf's World of Darkness, Legacy: War of Ages casts players as Highlander-style Immortals with swords and trenchcoats in a Techno-Gothic modern world gone mad. Its moody angst is as '90s as you can get. ("They are Immortals: That is their gift, and that is their curse.")

But the swordfighting combat system is fine and flavorful. Few other RPGs since GDW's En Garde have made flashy swordfighting such an integral part of the setting. Like the first Highlander film, Legacy is one of the more interesting modern-day answers to classic sword-and-sorcery.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 13b: Bullet Lists of the Nile Empire

The first real chapter of the book is a high-level description of the Empire, so let's dig into it.

As was pointed out last time, Mobius has been expanding his realm very rapidly. In fact, he controls a pretty sizeable chunk of Africa right out of the gate.


The Nile Empire, about three months after the initial invasion.

This is the map of the Empire at the default setting "start", about a month or so after the initial invasion. As you can see, Mobius has been pretty busy. He controls a pretty sizable chunk of Africa, and has gotten deep enough into Saudi Arabia to start being a threat to Iraq. We'll talk about how well that works out for all involved later.

Like all the High Lords, Dr. Mobius has come to Core Earth to oversee his forces personally. Of course, Mobius is a busy man and can't do everything by himself; that's why he has his five "Personal Advisors". These five people are second in power only to Mobius himself.
  • Ahkemeses is the High Priest of the Empire, and it's his job to read the omens and act on them. Even though he worships all the Egyptian gods, his first loyalty is to Mobius and he's more than willing to break his religion's precepts.
  • Rama-Tet is the head of the College of Mathematicians and Mobius' grand vizier. Like all grand viziers, he has his own agenda and is more interested in his own goals than in what Mobius wants. He's also a powerful magician, again, like any grand vizier worth his salt. He's basically the Starscream to Mobius' Megatron.
  • Muab is the Royal Builder, and as such doesn't actually advise the pharaoh. Instead, his focus is almost entirely on his work: building monuments to Mobius and running the Society of Engineers.
  • Teth-Net is the Royal Marshall and head of Mobius's military. Despite being totally loyal to Mobius, the High Lord has secretly implanted a poison bomb in Teth-Net's brain just to be on the safe side. Although this is Mobius; he might have done it because he thought it was funny.
  • Felix Bannerman is the Imperial Accountant, and started out as a small-time hustler on Terra who happened to be very skilled at finance. He's not Egyptian, which makes him feel nervous around Mobius and the rest of the Advisers. Well, that, and the fact that he's skimming off the top.

Below the Advisers are the Overgovernors. There are ten Overgovernors, some of whom have been with Mobius throughout his reality-hopping career. Mobius shares the slowed aging with his Advisers and Overgovernors, so some of these folks have experience running things in other realities. Others are recruited from the invaded cosm.

Each Overgovernor has control of a different area of the Empire, and are allowed more-or-less total autonomy to run things as they see fit. They are picked by and report directly to Mobius himself, and every ten weeks they meet to discuss the state of the Empire as a whole.
  • Tanya Paterksi was a skilled spy back on Terra, and is a consummate planner. She's faced off against Nippon Tech forces on multiple occasions and won every time.
  • Wu Han is Terra's equivalent of Fu Manchu; an oriental criminal mastermind who is fond of riddles and leaving hints for his enemies. He's also an accomplished weird scientist.
  • Lord Millon Avery is a Terran jewel thief and was an ally of Mobius back in Mobius's supervillain days. Avery got his position not by earning it, but by blackmailing Mobius shortly after his discover of the Darkness Device. I'm not sure how you could really blackmail someone bonded to a Darkness Device, but there you go.
  • The Red Hand, born Michael Mayhew, was another of Mobius's old allies. Armed with an electro-gun and outfitted in a crimson zoot suit, Mayhew became a supervillian for the kicks and teamed up with Mobius back in the old pre-High Lord days. He's loyal to Mobius, but would leave if he found something more interesting to keep him entertained.
  • Natatiri was originally the servant girl of a former Overgovernor. She was having an affair with the Overgovernor, but when he insulted her honor she assassinated him. Dr. Mobius liked the cut of her jib and promoted her to her master's former position.
  • Ramses is a fanatic warrior who is probably the only one of the Overgovernors who isn't plotting againt Mobius. He's slowly becoming aware that the other Overgovernors might not have Mobius's best interest at heart.
  • Seselek is the oldest of the Overgovernors. He is loyal to Mobius, but his age is catching up with him and lacks the energy to really carry out his duties. Even though Mobius has instructed the Darkness Device to slow Seselek's aging, the Kheferti Idol doesn't seem to like Seselek enough to keep him young. Smart money is on him being the next Overgovernor to die.
  • Herunut has been an Overgovernor since the first Empire, but is not seeing the glory of following Mobius anymore. Instead, he's seeing the suffering; in fact, his Inclination is starting to shift to Good and wouldn't need much to push him to the other side.
  • Lastly, there's Madib Al-Hebpsa. Madib is actually Mobius himself, divested of his usual costume. He uses this identity to keep an eye on the other Overgovernors and learn about plans against him. Mobius doesn't realize that Rama knows who Madib really is; Janya and Sesetek know one of the Overgovernors is Mobius in disguise but they don't know which one.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, every single one of those named NPCs listed above is fully statted out. Even the ones who are non-combatants.

Below the Overgovernors is a structure of governors, advisors, governor's advisors, and bureaucrats. But there's a problem here, which I'll get to in a second.


Everyone in Torg talks like this. Everyone.

Outside the structure of Mobius's followers is the military, which is mostly filled by shocktroopers, backed up by traditional armor units and weird science destructive devices.

And this is the problem I mentioned a moment ago: this is another point where we get into Torg's "I don't care about this level of detail" problems. This is what it says about Infantry Organization:

quote:

The smallest unit in the Imperial Army is a squad consisting of 10 men.

In addition to the normal equipment issued to each soldier, every squad is equipped with a Kocha machine gun. Squads are under the command of enlisted veterans.

Four squads make up a platoon. Platoons are commanded by lieutenants, the lowest ranking Imperial officers.

Three platoons make up a company. In addition to the equipment belonging to its platoons, each company has an attached mortar group consisting of five 81mm mortars . Companies are commanded by officers known as veteran lieutenants.

Four companies make up a battalion. Each battalion has an attached artillery group consisting of five 81mm mortars and five 105mm howitzers. Battalions are commanded by field majors.

Three battalions comprise a wing. The wing is the largest pure infantry formation in the Imperial Army. Wings are commanded by officers known as overmajors.
Why do I need that level of detail? Torg isn't a military simulation, and the Nile Empire is pulpy goodness, not military drama. At the end of the day, does it really matter how many platoons are in a company? What's more, you get this info for Infantry, Armor, Artillery, and Airborn divisions. It also tells you how these groups are organized into Battlegroups, which are just three-letter designations for a chunk of the army. I mean, it's only a page and a half or so, but it does the same thing for the structure of over-governors and governors and so on. It has nothing to do with the focus of the setting or game. It's just cruft.

For instance, they talk about Mobius' personal Battlegroup: Super Battlegroup Mobius. That sounds pretty important, right? Like the kind of thing we should know details about, right? Nope! All we learn is how many platoons and infantry and tank units it has. Do they have the best gear? Do they get to play with Mobius' high-tech toys? Who's in charge? Who knows?

And then we run into Torg's other recurring problem: bouncing wildly from topic to topic. Because now we get a brief forray into how Mobius uses his gospog. Or how he doesn't use them, I guess...there are only 50 gospog throughout the Empire, and they're only second-planting ones. He mainly uses them for "special missions". Oh, and unsurprisingly they look like mummies.

At which point we hammer back into talking about military organization with garrisons. Which is just two paragraphs and a small stat block that boil down to "a garrison is manned by generic infantry, here's their stat block".

Now that we're through all that, we get to something important: how Mobius expands his territory. The heading for this section is called Moving the Stelae because gently caress decent headers.

Mobius has managed to expand so quickly because he takes a very straightforward approach to it. One thing Mobius has in spades is strength of numbers. When he wants to sieze a new area, he sends in wave upon wave of shocktroops, artillery, and weird science weapons at the problem. Once he wipes out any resistance, his agents rush in and plant the stelae. The troops already there act as the "believers" needed to empower it, and boom. Another chunk of land for the High Lord.

Nile Empire stelae, by the way, take the shape of jackal-headed idols. They can't be buried underground, so Mobius hides them in plain sight by putting non-stelae jackal-headed idols everywhere throughout the Empire.

Now, I know some of you are thinking "superior numbers are one thing, but 1930's military technology probably wouldn't stand up to modern military hardware". And you're pretty much right. For that exact reason, Mobius has pushed the boundaries of weird science and reality-based technology to develop the reality bomb. These bombs don't do any physical damage; what they do is temporarily alter the reality for two miles around the explosion point to a Nile Empire pure zone. And since it's a pure zone, contradictions are impossible. Anything not allowed by Nile Empire axioms simply won't work, which will generally include most Core Earth military hardware. And while everyone's trying to figure out why everything is busted, Mobius' troops can mop up easily.

Rality bombs are incredibly difficult to make because they require a substance called "eternium", which is generated by drawing power from Eternity Shards. Even at peak efficiency, Mobius can only make about five reality bombs a week.

quote:

Etemium is an element of pure possibility energy distilled down from eternity shards (atomic number 772, atomic weight 1611.022). Its synthesis is one of Mobius' proudest accomplishments.In its pure form, etemium resembles a glowing blue rock with swirls of red.

Eternium has two main functions. First, it is the crucial ingredient of the "reality bombs" which Mobius uses to temporarily alter the reality axioms of an area in preparation for an invasion. And second. a chip of eternium is capable of functioning as an infinite power source when properly connected to a gadget or gizmo. All charge-using power components connected to an appropriate chip of eternium can draw energy from that chip forever, with no recharging necessary. The greater the power requirements of the gizmo, the larger the chunk of eternium needed to power it (a component with an adventure cost of 1 or 2 might require a piece of eternium the size of a bottlecap, while one with an adventure cost of 6 or 8 might need a piece the size of a golf ball). Eternium has thousands of other potential uses which Mobius is only beginning to discover.

Since the amount of eternium that Mobius can synthesize directly corresponds to the number of eternity shards he can recover, and since such objects are quire rare, there is presently not very much eternium to go around. Most of the element that is synthesized is used to create the vital reality bombs.
And in keeping with the poor book organization, this definition is a sidebar in the section about the overgoverners.

Really, this whole chapter is just...unnecessary. You get all these named NPC who are supposed to be important, and are running whole regions of the Empire, but there's nothing about what makes each leader unique. They don't put their own personal stamp on their territory, they don't favor a certain type of henchman or scheme or whatever, and except for Wu Han I don't think any of them get mentioned again in the game line.

Same with the military stuff. Yes, it's useful to get a general outline of how Mobius' war machine works, since a large part of his plans involve his army pushing further south through Africa and expanding his realm, but do I really need to know how many infantry in a platoon in a battalion or whatever it is?

I hate sounding like a broken record, but these guys had zero idea on how to write tone.


This exact scene is happening somewhere in the Nile Empire at any given moment.

Anyway. The next chapter is Cities of Adventure, and deals with the major cities of the Empire.

Approximately 60% of the Empire's population live in the cities, with the remainder living and working in the farming communities that feed the cities. The reality shift has changed the major urban centers of northern Africa to a technological and social level that best equates to "1939".

quote:

The vast majority of the urban citizens ultimately work for the Imperial government, but, again, Mobius has sold a few scattered businesses back to wealthy, favored Earth people. Approximately 10 percent of the Empire's manufacturing industry, 15 percent of its packing industry, and 30 percent of its merchants are independent. Nearly 100 percent of the Empire's entertainment industry is in the hands of independent businessmen. Saloons (which sell only overpriced "legal" liquor), movie theaters,and dance halls are all fairly common in large cities.
Cities are policed by the military, especially when the Nile floods and all the farmers have to move into the city. During these periods, inflation and crime rates go through the roof.

The largest city in the Empire is Cairo, which has been hit particularly hard by the axiom wash. For some unknown reason, Cairo has changed into a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The place is a magnet for every gangster, crooked official, and petty criminal in northern Europe. Vice is the main business, ranging from drugs to bootleg alcohol to prostitution. Really, take the Chicago from any period gangster movie, redress the sets to be more Arabic, and that's what Cairo is like now.

In fact, Cairo has gotten so bad that Mobius has pretty much washed his hands of it. He's got more important things to worry about, and it's a convenient dumping ground for military leaders or bureaucrats that have been annoying him. The military still has a presence in the city, they just don't do anything except run what amounts to a citywide protection racket.

Cairo also has a very large black market. It's said you can buy anything in Cairo, and if you know who to ask that can extend to mystic artifacts or weird science doodads.

The only real "bastions" of Good in Cairo are the underground newspaper The Cairo Connection, and The Living Truth Agency.

The Cairo Connection is basically an anti-Mobius newspaper, but it can serve as a source of information for Storm Knights. Amazingly, we get maps, descriptions, and stats for all four of the paper's staff, which is more information than we got about Cairo.

The Living Truth Agency is a private investigation firm owned and run by hard-boiled private dick Rex McMasters. The only other employee is his partner/secretary Sadi Bel-Adda.

quote:

The agency is located on the second floor of the Nabib Building, which also houses a cut-rate apothecary shop and a health clinic. Making a left at the top of the stairs, the Living Truth Agency is the first door on the right (the words "Living Truth Agency, Rex McMasters, Prop." are written in gold on the door). Entering, you find yourself in an outer office, with a desk and chair, a telephone, and a typewriter. Behind the desk sits Sadi Bel-Adda, McMaster's partner and an adept magician.

Behind her desk is the door to McMaster's office. The office features a set of filing cabinets, with McMaster's desk and chair up against the windows that look out onto the street. A ratty old couch rests against the left wall, and on the right is a closet.

The closet actually has a secret panel that hides McMasters' secret: the costume he wears in his nighttime identity as The Silver Scarab, the electro-gun wielding mystery man.


Either someone is being taken off the case, or someone is demanding pictures of Spider-Man.

Moving out of Cairo, we travel to the imperial capital of Thebes and Luxor. Technically they're two separate cities, but thanks to the axiom wash they've sort of joined up into one large city.

The main "attraction" in Thebes is Mobius' royal palace, from which he rules the realm when he's not out loving with Storm Knights. Thebes also has the Grand Temple of Osiris, the College of Mathematics, the Society of Engineers, and the main headquarters for Super Battlegroup Mobius. Unlike the newspaper office, none of this gets any detail.

Luxor's main point of importance is the 72,000 square foot Grand Temple of Ra. The Temple is topped with a giant artificial sun of Mobius' design, and is capable of illuminating all of Luxor, Thebes, and the nearby city of Karnak. In fact, on "auspicious days", the sun it lit an hour before sunrise and darkened an hour after sunset.

But that's just a side benefit. The real power of the artificial sun is that it's a good, old-fashioned death ray. It has a maximum range of 150 miles, and hits with an explosive radius of 4000 meters. It's damage rating 55, which is a base 24Wound KO 28 shock, aka "you're just loving dead". Fortunately the power drain is so immense it can only be fired once a month. That said, there are six back-up batteries in case of emergency. The death ray can only be fired by Mobius himself, as it's keyed to his thought engrams.


"Modern" city life

The city of Karnak wasn't a city until the reality shift, which is when it changed from a small village to a respectably sized city overnight. The main (and only) point of interest here is the Temple of Ptah, which has a strange curse: it actively attempts to drive out the living. Entering the Temple causes it to make intimidation checks against you every time you enter a room or corridor. The first time it succeeds you take shock damage, the second time you have to flee.

Khartoum is the second-largest city in the Empire (after Cairo). It was taken over shortly after the initial invasion, and Mobius has made it the center of the Empire's railway system. The main temple here is dedicated to Horus.

quote:

The other tidbit that makes Khartoum interesting is the ancient Earth legend of a magical fire opal hidden somewhere beneath its streets. The opal is said to give its bearer fantastic mind control powers. Mobius uncovered the legend shortly after his invasion and has had a team of mathematicians stationed in Khartoum looking for the opal for months.

Memphis is the home of Wu Han, and he's built a sort of mini-Chinatown here to serve as a power base. Mephis houses the Temple of Wadjet, which is the center of a cult known as "The Sisters of the Serpent". The cult seeks to make Wadjet a more powerful god than Sebek, and given that Sebek is Mobius' patron god, this causes a bit of tension around the city. Right now the cult has a very tenuous alliance with Mobius, but one side would betray the other in a heartbeat if it suited them.

Alexandria is the third largest city in the Empire, and home of the famous lighthouse that's one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. There's also a large Colosseum here, which Wu Han has been employing for gladiatorial matches where heroes are forced to fight each other to the death because why the hell else would you have it?

The rest of the chapter are "generic" city locations with incredibly basic maps: a gin joint, a mummifcation parlor, a tomb, things like that.


It never pays to be the last goon in line.

The next chapter is Lands of Danger, which covers locations and areas in the larger Empire.

The biggest change in Africa is the Nile Basin. When the axiom wash happened, all the modern machinery used to control and take advantage of the Nile were destroyed, leaving the Nile in its more "ancient" state. This means that the annual flooding that happens around July is no longer managed and mitigated by technology, and people have to deal with the flooding by moving into the cities. That said, the Nile Basin is still the main source of farmland in northern Africa, except that now it's pretty much completely controlled by Mobius's forces. A side-effect of the reality shift is that the Nile now has a larger-than-normal amount of crocodiles and asps now.

The change in realities also affected the Sahara Desert in general, populating it with nomad tribes and peppering it with lost tombs, ancient forgotten cities, and hidden oases. This is all part of Mobius' larger plans: with all these sites appearing, he can raid them for magic artifacts or eternity shards before anyone else stumbles onto them.

For example, the Oasis of Firrah lies deep in the Sahara desert, hidden behind burning sands and howling winds. According to ancient legends that are really only a few months old, Bela Firrah was an Arab trader who stumbled upon the oasis when seeking a source of water for his shady trade caravans. He sent out troop after troop of his men to claim it, but none of them returned.
[quote]
The stories of what happened next are unclear in many respects. But it is said that along the way Firrah found the bodies of the earlier parties, all with their water flasks full, their trails a great circle, as if the sun had driven them mad. After many days of traveling, Firrah's party came in sight of the oasis. They whipped their camels into a gallop, but as they drew near, a fierce sandstorm arose. Blinded, their mounts in a panic, Firrah's men fled into the desert, never to be seen again. Firrah himself struggled to the water's edge, reached out and touched the sparkling blue liquid...

Firrah's body was found the next day by a nomadic tribe. His skeleton gleamed in the sun, the bones blasted clean by the force of the sandstorm. One finger was stretched toward the pool, a pool the nomads would not drink from out of fear.[quote]
This legend may or may not be true, but it sticks around because of the possible fortune in gold at the bottom of the oasis. Or it may just be a fable made up to scare people away from one of Mobius's projects.

The isle of Hespera in Lybia is another example of the types of changes an invading reality can bring, because neither the island or the lake it's in existed before Mobius's arrival and were created whole cloth by the axiom wash. The reality shift caused the legends about the "home of the Amazon warriors" to become fact, and transformed archaeologist Hippolyta Kosmos (oy) into Queen Hippolyta. The transformation was Hippolyta's "moment of crisis" and made her possibility-rated as well as transforming her to Nile Empire axioms. Hippolyta has assembled women from the Empire and Core Earth to her side, and so far Mobius and the world at large are unaware of what's happening on the island. Despite her Good Inclination, she's not 100% convinced yet that she should bring the fight to Mobius, prefering instead to live peacefully on Hespera. That's not to say that some of her Amazon warriors haven't left the island to fight for the side of good, of course, but so far she's not angling to become a major player.

Scattered throughout the Empire are Weird Science Research Centers. These are where Mobius's forces develop their unique weapons and devices. Protected by minefields and artillery, these sites can be a treasure trove of new experimental gear for heroes brave enough to penetrate the defenses and defeat the squads of shocktroopers there. There's not much else to say about these facilities, even though the Nile Empire book spends five pages on WSECs, describing them in the usual ammount of unnecessary detail. I mean, I get that these are the types of places PCs will be hitting up a lot, but still. The cities don't get that much detail!


Do we really need a map for this?

The mixing of Core Earth and Nile Empire axioms has had more subtle effects on the landscape, such as the transformation of Egypt's network of gold mines into The Land of the Dead, a sprawling network of catacombs and caves that wind under most of eastern Egypt. These are the mines where Empire officials sentence criminals and opponents to, to spend the rest of their lives digging for gold for their pharaoh. Rumor has it that some of the caverns actually stretch halfway around the world to North America, and the extended cave network is a favorite hiding place for the Empire's many pulp villains.

Lastly, we learn how Mobius gets along with his Middle Eastern neighbors. Spoiler: not very well.

Things have gotten very strange in Ethiopia. The spread of the Empire transformed the Ethiopian forests into a full-blown rain forest, complete with lost temples and hostile "native tribes". Between this new source of artifacts and the country's established gold and diamond mines, Ethipoia has become a high priority target for the military. Although Ethiopia's army has pretty much fallen apart under the assault, the only reason Mobius hasn't just taken over yet is because the terrain makes it difficult to move troops in. Ethiopia is surrounded by mountains and is at a very high elevation, which Mobius' war machine isn't built to deal with. As it stands right now, both forces are in a rough stalemate, although Mobius keeps a few battalions on the Ethiopian border to keep them boxed in and to keep control of the mines on the country's border.

Dr. Mobuis was smart enough to realize early on that Israel was going to be a major threat, so he made it a point to move into their territory as soon as he could before they had time to assemble an effective defense. The western half of Israel is now under the Empire's control, but he's been unable to get in any further due to the Israeli forces not only putting up a better defense than Mobius expected, but also raiding into Empire territory. Isreli and American forces have set up a resistance outpost in Massada and are beginning to harry enemy forces.

Things are a little tenser with Libya. It's important to remember that this game was written in the early 90’s, so Muammar Qaddafi was still in charge at the time. The oil fields of Libya were an early target for Mobius, so Qaddafi made a bargain: if Mobius stopped trying to invade, accepted 45% of Libya's crude oil production, and give Qaddafi access to weird science weaponry to use against the West, Qaddafi would not detonate the nuke he buried in the oil fields and irradiate the world's main source of oil. Mobius agreed to these terms, partially so he can concentrate on other battefronts, but also because he doesn’t know what a nuclear bomb is because they don’t exist in Terra or the Empire. Yet.

Lastly, there’s the Sudan. Sudanese forces have fallen back into a defensive position. Fortunately, they’re being supported by the Soviet Union’s “Soviet Psychic Group”, whose psychics have been able to predict attacks by Nile forces. It's not known if Mobius knows that 3327 is behind the SPG, but for now Mobius isn't pushing too hard in that direction due to having bigger fish to fry.

--
Man, that's a lot of fluff of varying degrees of usefulness. And while some of these are clearly more useful than others, there's just a bizarre mix of what the writers thought would be useful. Yes, I'm more likely to need info on an adventuring site than a whole city, but even so there should be more info on the city rather than one building. Cairo, largest city in the Empire, gets less detail than the Temple of Wadjet! Did they not realize that people would spend more time in a city than one building?

I mean, there's full walkthroughs of the Cairo Clarion newspaper office and the Living Truth Agency that are longer than the information on Karnak. Why do I need the detailed layout of a private eye's office? All you need to say is "it's a 30's private eye's office" and bam, everyone knows what you're talking about.

But don't worry, things only get dumber from here.


NEXT TIME: Skills and powers! No, not the AD&D book.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Young Freud posted:

Which, when you start thinking about it and you start looking into stuff released later, reality bombing Africa is a bad move, since most of the militaries and militias are using WW2-level equipment anyway.

Your warlord's Toyota technical might change into a Studebaker but the DShK in the bed was made in 1930s and those AK-47s everyone's armed with are cutting-edge Tech Axiom 21 infantry weapons, because whoever wrote the Torg books knew of the similarities between the Sturmgewehr and the Kalashnikov.
Torg struggled with the screwed-up edge cases around axioms, especially the Tech axiom. Situations like "this gun would work with X axiom value but was manufactured under X+3 axiom value so it's still a contradiction" crop up all the time.

Like, a 9mm pistol is allowable under Nile Empire 1930's tech level. But if that pistol was made in the Cyberpapacy, even if it's a bog-standard 9mm pistol with no cybertech, it'd still be a one-case contradiction because it was made using materials not available in 1930-whatever.

It's why Kanawa's weapon factories all operate at different tech levels. Swords intended to be sold and used by people in Aysle aren't mass-produced, they actually have to be forged from scratch because even a modern alloy would cause a contradiction.

The Player's Guide has an "optional rule" regarding this:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Hostile V posted:

I can't believe Mobius was killed by a psychic Japanese teenager, his grandpa, his grandpa's friend, a dog and the two other guys they picked up along the way. They were actually looking for someone else but figured "eh, can't hurt to do some more good".

Wait, what?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Young Freud posted:

This is the common problem with anything with a Tech level or axiom. Nothing is built in a vacuum and there's hundreds of examples of someone doing it first 20-50 years from it's mainstream introduction. For instance, electrically-powered rotary guns like Vulcans and Miniguns might have entered into military service around in the '60s, but even Dr. Gatling put a motor to crank his gun when electric motors became available in the 1890s. I found out the other day that Calico-style helical feed magazines have been around since 1870s with the introduction of cased cartridges.
Well, this really is the whole problem with how Torg handles the whole realities-can't-mix thing. They have all these axiom that are supposed to represent what is and isn't possible in a reality, and even set it up as both a mechanic and in-setting metaphysics (the Everlaws).

But then as things progressed, you ran into all sorts of situations where they either work against the players or just flat-out don't make sense. Going by the equipment list, a baseball bat wouldn't "work" under Living Land axioms, even though it's basically a club. A longsword has a higher Tech axiom than a shortsword.

It doesn't help that the game does a piss-poor describing what happens when you try to do things outside your axioms. Sometimes it's a case of things just not working, sometimes you forget the knowledge of how stuff works.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Alternate Haagenti comedy option:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



LornMarkus posted:

My apologies if I missed it somewhere already, but are these DX supplements available to buy anywhere? Cause this all sounded great and someday I'm gonna play the poo poo out of this game.

They're on DriveThru and IPR.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 13c: You don't buy pulp powers, you just rent them

Before we get into "cool" pulpish abilities, let's take a quick look at the more mundane new skills we get in this book.
  • Egyptian Religion is a general knowledge skill, and is used in one of the Nile Empire's new magic systems.
  • Hieroglyphics lets you read hieroglyphics. Not sure why we needed a new skill for this, but there we go.
  • Mathematics is a magic skill for another of the Empire's magic systems.
  • Scholar (Master Criminal) is used to plan your big supervillain heists. The way it works is that you roll this skill while planning your caper, and during said caper you can substitute the skill total you got for any roll you'd make.
  • Engineering is another new magic skill.
  • Hypnotism does what it says on the label and covers your basic creepy mentalism. Putting someone under requires a roll against the target's Mind+5. Once under, you can interrogate with a +5 to your skill, or implant a post-hypnotic suggestion.
  • Weird Science is used to make weird science devices.

The Terra sourcebook that came out later and covered Mobius' home cosm added a bunch more.

  • Espionage is your general spycraftyness skill.
  • Journalism can be used to interrogateinterview people to get information, or to present information in a way that can sway people's opinions.
  • Photography is your skill at taking pictures. That's it.
  • Politics/Diplomacy is your knowledge of world events and your ability to talk nice to foreign dignitaries.
  • Research is, uh, your ability to research things. Technically this is like the core evidence analysis skill, except that you get the info "after the fact" instead of from an immediate location.
  • Science: Archaeology is obvious.
  • Science: Cartography is likewise.
  • Petty Crime is all about being a street thief or hustler.

Okay, so...two things.

First off, those are some drat granular skills that would barely ever see use. Why do I need to know how good my photo is? Why does studying Egyptian history need as many as three different skills? It's like loving Rope Use or Profession: Blacksmith; they didn't realize that you don't need skills for every potential thing PCs might want to do. I know it was years before anyone thought of "if failure doesn't mean anything, don't roll", but come on, who used these?

Second: there are skills there that are clearly meant for NPC use only. Petty crime and Scholar (Master Criminal) in particular aren't the kinds of things cinematicly heroic pulp hero PCs will be doing on a regular basis. Even if they're doing a "reformed criminal" thing, what's wrong with just expanding use of the base streetwise skill?

And what makes this all worse is that characters don't get a ton of skill points. You get your 16 adds at character creation, and after that you need to pay out possibility points. And as we'll see in a moment, Nile Empire pulp heroes can get hosed on metagame currency harder than Shadowrun mages get shafted on Karma.

So. Pulp powers.


I hate it when the book tries to be clever.

Pulp powers are a "by-product" of Terra's and the Nile Empire's weird science doings. In fact, unlike every other realm-specific ability in the game (cybernetics, magic, martial arts, etc.), pulp powers are only available to characters from either the Nile Empire or Terra. Also, only p-rated characters can have pulp powers, so no Ord NPCs can do this stuff.

Each power is basically a self-contained rules chunk that you generally don't have to roll to use. They cost one possibility each at character creation, and there is technically no limit to how many you can have.

Note my use of "technically". Let's explain why.

Let's look at a typical power's stat block.


I'll get back to "Adventure Cost" in a second.

The "action value" is the fixed effectiveness value of a power. For some powers, this value is fixed and replaces other rolls; for example you can use your flat Mega-Sight value instead of rolling your Perception skill. Other times, it's used as the base of a roll like a normal skill.

"Range" is self-explanatory.

"Tech Rating" only comes into play if you're trying to build the power into a weird science device.

Now remember when I said before that you technically only pay one possibility at character creation to buy them?

The "Adventure Cost" is how many possibilities you have to pay at the end of an adventure to keep the power. If you don't pay this cost, you lose the power forever.

I'm going to say that again so we're all clear.

If you don't pay out a power's adventure costs in possibilities at the end of an adventure, you lose the power forever.

Oh, and in the Terra sourcebook they added another requirement: if you don't use your powers often enough, you can lose them.

quote:

Powers that are not used during an adventure start to "fade." A character who does not make a meaningful use of any of his powers (gamemaster's discretion as to what a meaningful use is) should start to lose the power. After two or three adventures, the character should start losing the power, and when it is gone, it is gone permanently.

The intent behind this rule is to keep players from selecting a bunch of powers at the beginning of the game and then just using them when they want. In reality, no character should have more than two or three powers (super attributes and super skills don't always fit into this limit), and the character certainly shouldn't be able to go through a menu of powers during an adventure.
Pulp powers are one of only two special abilities in the entire game line that has this cost, the other being playing as a non-human from Aysle. Magic, miracles, cybernetics, martial arts, all that poo poo? You buy it once and you're set forever. Even with playing an Ayslish non-human, you don't lose your elvishness or whatever, but you have to deal with some harsh penalties for an adventure or two until you're taken back to Aysle territory. But pulp dudes? You have to pay out or you're immediately hosed.

And here's the thing: there's no Fate-style Refresh in this game. You're expected to get maybe eight or nine Possibilities per adventure. Even two minor powers can cost you half of your payout, and that's assuming you're getting all the awards. There are ways to reduce the adventure cost of powers that we'll get to at the end of the chapter, but there's no way to reduce the cost to 0.

So if you have the mind reading power, you're going to have to pay out 5 Possibilities each adventure to keep being able to do that, but a mage who buys a spell that does the same thing just has to buy the spell once and that's it.

Between the core set, the Nile Empire book, and the Terra sourcebook, there are 35 pulp powers all told. The game wants to make it clear that these are not meant to be used to make a costume-wearing superhero character because that is not what this is about.



This is total BS, however, because almost every NPC with pulp powers in the rest of the game line is pretty much a costume-wearing superhero. If they don't want characters to have the more out-there powers, then why didn't they just say "this power must be built into a weird science device unless you can give your GM a good reason why you have it"?


I don't know what power this is, but it's shiny.

There are 38 pulp powers split between the core set (6), the Nile Empire sourcebook (23), and the Terra sourcebook (6). A small handful appear dotted throughout later supplements (one of the SPOILER cosmbooks in particular), but for the most part that's all Nile Empire characters got to choose from. Of course, I'm not going to descible all of them, but let's take a look at a few.

Animal Friend allows you to talk to animals for 3 Possibilities per adventure. Animals are only capable of communicating simple ideas (so "are there Empire shock troops around the corner waiting for us?" is not valid, but "is there danger here?" is). Communication also requires a roll: your CHA+2 versus the animal's Spirit to successfully communicate. You can try to convince animals to do your bidding with a second roll, but you can't use this power to get an animal sidekick.

Darkness creates a field of darkness in a 5-meter globe around themselves. I'm not sure if that means a 5 meter radius or diameter, but regardless it blocks vision for everyone but the user, inflicting the standard penalty for fighting in the dark (-5). This also has an adventure cost of 3.

Electro-Blast is "the ability to project a powerful bolt of energy from the hands", but again this isn't about playing superheroes! The blast has an attack value of the user's STR+10 (so probably around 20 or so total; about as powerful as an AK-47) and keys off the user's Dexterity, but generating a successful attack total deals the user 2 shock, even if you miss. This has an adventure cost of 4.

Flight is pretty straightforward; your airspeed is based of your Dexterity, but you need the flight skill to perform fancy maneuvers. The adventure cost is 3, and the tech rating is 24, which is one higher than Core Earth's, which means that in the 90's we were close to creating jetpacks.

Growth is the ability to increase your overall size by a factor of 3, with appropriate increases to your Strength and Toughness, which both go up by 7. The downside is that being huge makes it easier for you to get hit. Oh, and the adventure cost of 5.

Jump lets you long jump up to your DEX-3 meters on the ol' number-to-value chart, and standing jump a third of that distance. With an an average Dexterity of 10, that's a value of 7, which equates to 25 meters/82 feet. So it's a pretty substantial distance, but I don't think it's worth 2 Possibilities per adventure.

Mega-Scent can be used to detect or track people by scent. Your smell power is such that you can detect people from up to 50 meters away, which is pretty drat impressive. This costs 3 possibilities/adventure.

Shrinking, usually the purview of a mad scientist's ray, costs 12 possibilities per adventure; again, you get like 8 per normal adventure. With this, you can shrink down to 2 inches tall, increasing your Dexterity by 5, decreasing your Strength and Toughness by 5, and increasing your stealth by 10.

Super Attribute and Super Skill each have an adventure cost of 3, have tech ratings of 27 and 26 respectively (even though it explicitly states that you can't build these powers into a device), and let you go over the normal stat/skill maximums. Buying Super Attribute gives you three more stat points, and you can go above the normal human max of 14. Super Skill gives you three skill adds and lets you go over the usual +3 limit on skills. You can buy these multiple times for more stat/skill points.

Telekinesis (or "TK", as the book helpfully informs us) is the ability to move things with your mind. The effective strength of the power is your Mind+5, cross-referenced on the big conversion table. An average Mind of 10 would let you move something up to 1,000 pounds. You don't have to roll to just move stuff, but if you want to throw things, that needs you to roll against the target's defense plus the mass value of the object. You can't use this power to move people who don't want to be moved (no idea why), and TK isn't capable of precise movements or fine work. Believe it or not, the ability to toss around half a loving ton without trying only has an adventure cost of 4.

Water Breathing is a very situational power that nonetheless costs 2 possibilities per adventure. All it lets you do is breathe underwater.

(Just for the record, here's the full list of available powers from the three books: Animal Friend, Chameleon, Dark Vision, Darkness, Dazzle, Dispersal, Electro-Ray, Emotion Control, Fear, Flight, Fog Screen, Force Field, Gravity Control, Grow, Illusion, Invisibility, Jump, Mega-Hearing, Mega-Scent, Mega-Sight, Mind Control, Mind Reading, Power Neutrality/Resistance, Running, Shrinking, Super Attribute, Super Skill, Swimming, Telecommunication, Telekinesis, Teleportation, Ultra-Sight, Wall Walking, Water Breathing, X-Ray Eyes.)

Now, that's all expensive as hell, right? I mean, even having one "level" of Super Skill is going to cut into your XP curve, let alone having to pay out for something like Mind Control at 5/adventure.

Fortunately, the game designers realized that forcing people to keep buying their abilities is pretty rough, but instead of reducing costs or working out a different mechanic they instead added a system for Power Flaws.

quote:

Powers are not always perfect. In the Nile Empire they often come with a flaw which can make life difficult for heroes. Of course, the flip side is heroes in distress generally make a story more interesting, and whenever a story becomes more interesting, there are Possibilities to be gained.
In the same way that Possibilities are sort of the early evolutionary version of Fate Points, Power Flaws are a sort of proto-compel. Only, you know. Clunkier.

The way it works is that you can attach a flaw of some sort to a power, such as "stops working when I am around handwavium" or "doesn't work on the color yellow". If the flaw comes into play and actually makes things more difficult you get X possibilities. There are three levels of flaws:

  • Three-point flaws will inflict a stymie on the character, or inflict a point of shock damage while around the trigger.
  • Six-point flaws can cause your power to stop working for a while, or grant your opponent a roll again when you use your power. The effects of six-point flaws will linger for a minute (six rounds) after the triggering condition is removed.
  • The single nine-point flaw is the "fatal flaw", which means you take an automatic wound each round you're around the flaw's trigger.
The thing about flaws, though, is that the value of the flaw is only determined by the effect, not the cause. Any narrative weakness of any type is allowed. The example of the six-point roll again flaw is a character that's helpless if he's lassoed by metal wire. Because that's a situation that'll come up a lot.

It is possible to attach multiple flaws to a power, but you can't have more than one flaw of each value.

quote:

Example: Cobalt has a power setback which affects his two super attributes and his grow power. In any scene in which he is bathed with a mix of mystic and weird science forces, he would earn 18 Possibilities. As the adventure cost of his three powers is 11, Cobalt's player must assume that his character will run across this combination fairly frequently in order to pay for his expensive powers.
Yeah, I'm sure that's a situation that can be worked into a lot of adventures easily.


Pictured: Totally not a superhero

Just to complicate matters more, the Terra sourcebook has a second flaws system: advanced flaws.

quote:

In The Nile Empire sourcebook, a basic system is presented for invoking "power flaws." These flaws were designed to help player characters pay their adventure costs for their different powers - and to make their characters more interesting.

In the first case, it succeeded. Stymie, setback, and other flaws certainly come across with the possibilities, giving the character a chance to pay his costs.

However, in the second case, they are a little flimsy. Fortunately, since Terra is so removed from the Possibility Wars, it has developed a different style of power flaws. These advanced flaws give more "character" to the powers a character has, making them and the character more interesting, and they provide a fun dlallenge for roleplaying.

Advanced flaws reduce the adventure cost of powers they're attached to. They don't have fixed "costs", but vary depending on how the flaw manifests.

For example, the Activation flaw means you have to perform a specific action of some sort to use the power. The example in the book is that "Meteor Lad might have to touch a piece of the meteor he gained his flight power from before he can fly", but again they said on the previous page we're not supposed to be playing superheroes.

Anyway, an Activation flaw that requires you to simply touch a badge would be worth one point, while having to make a roll to activate the power in the first place is worth two.

Activation Time is pretty much the same thing; the long it takes for your power to actually go off, the more the flaw is worth.

Burnout means that the power has a chance to become unusable for a period of time on a bad roll, even powers that you normally wouldn't roll to use. The longer it goes away for, and the easier it is to happen, the more it's worth.


The way the table works is you determine the d20 roll in which the power stops working, then the duration, and add the reduction bonuses together; having a 20% chance that your power goes away forever with each use reduces the power's cost by 8, but having it go away forever on a 1 reduces it by 5.

Also, in another wonderful case of Torgian design, the third level is "you lose the power until the end of the next adventure", but if you don't use a power in an adventure you lose it forever. Does that mean that the rank 3 version is effectively the same as the rank 4 version? And if it's not, does the character still have to pay to keep the power he couldn't use?

Power Reserve means that a power is only usable a certain number of times per adventure. The power draws from its own "energy pool" of 1 to 5 points, each use costing one point. This reduces the power's cost by 6-uses. And this flaw is so poorly described it doesn't explain how it actually works until the example of how the flaw works.

The final flaws are power reduction and situational modifiers, which is where you reduce a power's mechanical values to reduce the cost. You know, reducing the duration or strength or whatever. Unfortunately, these are "play it by ear" flaws, because there's no guidance on what constitutes a point of cost reduction. Maybe reducing water breathing's duration from "unlimited" to an hour is worth dropping the cost by a point...unless the GM thinks that even an hour is too much (since it's not a situation that comes up much), so he might say that dropping the power cost by one knocks the power's duration down to 10 minutes. You know, the usual fun having no real guidelines gives you.

Normal and advanced flaws can be combined on a power, but you can never reduce a power's cost to below 1. You can also "link" multiple powers to one flaw for an all-or-nothing effect, reducing the overall cost of the powers but applying the flaw's effect to all the powers.


--
So there we are. Torg's not-superpowers system. Really, it's not that, just a bit limited, but the whole adventure cost thing is ridiculous for what you're getting out of it.

Still, it pales in comparison to what we're going to see...

NEXT TIME: Building pulp gadgets! Get your slide rules ready!

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Count Chocula posted:

Nybbas and Rex are the best - you could easily have them win the war, since the Angels are so clearly uncool. But most of the demons are too. Maybe they engineer a twist ending?
If you need to keep Kobal, maybe him a low-level Wordbound in Nybbas' organization.

Geez, that's halfway into hell's version of "Entourage", isn't it?

Would Haagenti be Turtle?

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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



You know, I'm writing up the next Torg post, and trying to make a weird science gizmo as an example, and now I'm actually wondering which is more aggravating: trying to make a pulp gizmo, or trying to make a magic spell.

I mean, the spell-making system is batshit insane (and we'll get there), but at least one you're done the spell just works and you don't have to keep maintaining it and fixing it and poo poo.

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