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Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Does Dodge work against ranged attacks now? Defense isn't subtracted from the normal pool, but dodge seems to be a separate roll?

I never was a fan of how defense doesn't apply to ranged attacks because 'you can't dodge bullets.'

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Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Kavak posted:

Why in the world does it express damage per attack as a spread rather than dice?

The xdy convention just wasn't widely adopted yet. All random numbers were expressed as ranges, rather than as the dice used to generate them.

quote:

And is there a set Hit Die for its type?

Hit Dice didn't come in different sizes for monsters.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


I tried it a little bit, but we never got past the 'roll up characters and have a bar fight' stage.
Things I remember:
It's like those old RPGs where random chargen can cripple or kill you before you even play, but instead of killing YOU you're rolling to see how many of your siblings died of syphilis.

The combat system is agonizingly granular. Like, I think it's broken down to tenths of a second, and you track movement separately from attacking.

To shoot something, you lay down a clear plastic sheet with a targeting reticle on it over a paper with a silhouette that matches your target as much as possible, then draw a card and roll a die to see where the shot actually goes. If the shot lands on the silhouette, you hit. Cover can be represented by slapping a barrel or a wall or something over the silhouette. Hit the barrel, then yay cover helped. This is super janky in practice, and there's not NEARLY enough silhouettes for realistic play. On the other hand, it makes me think the system could be designed around an app. Choose a silhouette from a list, drag cover onto it, have the app scale the silhouette size based on distance, and touch the screen where you're trying to shoot.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Kurieg posted:

The Machahuitl had a spear(Well maybe more like a spearaxe?) equivalent that was capable of piercing armor but only barely and while Obsidian is very very sharp it's as fragile as glass.

The atlatl, on the other hand, was reported to punch right through a conquistador's breastplate. It doesn't matter as much if the obsidian tip is fragile if it only has to work once.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Doresh posted:

Throwing weapons in general seem to get the short end of the stick in modern media. Even something like a sling can be downright evil, especially if you use lead ammo with nasty edges. That'll burst your head like a melon in no time.


The real reason to use a sling is so that you can write crude insults on the bullets.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


It's the difference between twitter and blogging, really.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


It wasn't just Gygax incorporating the mace=no bloodshed thing into their works. Off the top of my head, it pops up in Clifford Simak's Fellowship of the Talisman in 1978, which I think is a little late to be a direct influence on the cleric, but probably taps into the same source material.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


The math for exploding dice isn't even hard to calculate, so there's no excuse for designers not doing their homework and basing their game around the actual expected values.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


That investor statement did get one thing right, the greatest threat to GW is GW.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


In TNG, the transporter pretty clearly makes a replicator copy at the target, what with all the talk of pattern buffers and double Rikers and so on. Ok, fine.

In TOS, though, they don't have replicator technology. That means the transporters had to be actually moving your for real body through space, or warping you there, or something, but the original is clearly moved, not duplicated.

That means that starfleet used to have a transporter that didn't kill you, but they decided to replace it with a model that does.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


The lack of an official Space Skaven army list in 40k is really the only proof anyone needs that Games Workshop hates success and money.

I mean, the background could literally just be 'rats infesting a ship mutate into ratmans when the ship is lost in the warp, come back wearing cute pointy gas masks and fighting everyone with WWI style chemical warfare', bam, done.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Mors Rattus posted:

RIP Chaos Dwarves, squatted for being too cool

Yet another sin of Age of Sigmar is that Chaos Dwarves were slowly returning to the game, and then welp.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Max's speech about hope in Fury Road comes to mind.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


I just love how often an NPC's motivation is 'Hmm, I want fortune and power. How can I get it? Ooh, I know, I'll try being extremely loving competent.'

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Prism posted:

I'm honestly not sure why it's being called Starfinger here. Just a joke I don't get, I guess.

I admit to having just skimmed some of the entries.

Starfinder would have been a dumb name. I mean, how hard is it to find a star? They're made of light. We found jillions of them without even having to get our lazy asses up out of the planet.

Starfinger, is kind of clumsy and awkward, but it at least evokes going out and doing something, reaching out to touch those distant stars. Not a great name, but it's at least serviceable.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


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

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


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

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


One of the themes that crops up in Lovecraft is stuff like non-euclidean geometry, because that was a newish branch of mathematics at the time (hyperbolic geometry in particular), and the entire concept of it freaked Lovecraft the gently caress out. (Euclidean) Geometry was one of the few areas of math that he could kind of sort of get his head around, and I get the feeling the very thought of the 5 Euclidean axioms possibly sometimes being invalid was terrifying to him. That's the kind of eldritch knowledge eroding your concept of reality and breaking your mind that he's envisioning.

The poor bastard never even heard of quantum mechanics. We've long since established that all the sensible, intuitive, reasonable laws of physics that we'd been operating under for centuries are really just a crude approximation of the TRULY loving WEIRD math that's actually going on. And humanity, faced with this revelation of truths incompatible with traditional wisdom, promptly harnessed this new knowledge to trick rocks into thinking faster. The effect on our sanity is debatable, but we didn't all get locked in sanitariums.

Point being, "Lovecraftian Horror" is stuff that's scary to Lovecraft in particular. He wrote convincingly because he really was horrified, but that doesn't mean the stuff that scared him is universally terrifying. We'll never really get the same impact, because we're already comfortable with the universe being weird as hell. The doofy theory that reality is actually a COMPUTER SIMULATION is just as existentially terrifying as Azathoth, but even the true believers just keep making electric cars instead of curling up into a ball and gibbering about how someone could trip over the universe's power cord at any moment.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


For what it's worth, the elven cat and elven dog weren't invented for D&D; they're just stolen from celtic mythology. The fairy cats are cait sith, the fairy dogs are cù sith.

The D&D versions are way more boring than the mythological ones, though.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Who do you pair with a loose cannon paladin? A dwarven cleric stubbornly counting his days to retirement?

You'll definitely need a young, edgy gnomish tinker ready to HACK THE PLANET as a supporting character


Optional variant: a young, edgy ORCISH BARBARIAN ready to HACK THE PLANET as a supporting character

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


The one thing I really remember about the Known Space books was the feud that Niven had with a slashfic writer that ended up creeping into the official stories. Not because Sternberg wrote kzinti porn, but because he wrote kzinti porn wrong and it was disrespectful to the rich sci-fi lore that Niven had created.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


gradenko_2000 posted:

I for one would like it if you went into the DMG, because that's really where the bulk of the "no, really, D&D 3rd Edition was about doing old-school dungeon crawling" feel comes through and where I am prepared to die on all the hills possible.

The 3.0 DMG has my favorite example of 'artist did not understand instructions' illustration ever, so I'd love to see that.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Libertad! posted:


Loptr/Loki is the bad apple of the Æsir. Giant blood runs through his veins, and he hopes to one day unseat his father Wotan/Odin as the new All-Father. Although known for deception and malice, he's given prayer and offerings due to his dominion over fire (a necessity year-round in the cold lands).


Kind of a petty thing, but it always bugs me when Loki is presented as Odin's son.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Yeah, Loki is Odin's blood-brother, not son. Amusingly, I don't know of any stories of HOW Odin and Loki came to be blood brothers. Loki just showed up one day and insisted that obligation be met.

I get changing around the myths to suit the game world, and it's not like there's any single coherent mythological canon, but dangit I like Loki and he doesn't get enough respect without dumping daddy issues on him, too.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


The intention is that monster armor class would more or less scale with the fighter's worst iterative attack, and all the better attacks would be free damage. Things obviously didn't work out like that, not least because full attacks are a PITA to get sometimes, so the full BAB attack becomes the only visible one, and designers for some dipshit reason don't want monsters to be reliably hit in combat.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


The 'Of Course I Can...' section is also a really direct way to tell the GM what kind of things you WANT to be doing.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Hahaha, Koschei makes me think the authors read those old posts about turning the Dread Emperor, from D&D3.5's BoVD, from a WOW SO EDGY child abductor into a 'pretends to be the devil so he can protect them' child rescuer.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


When I mashed spelljammer into 4e, one of the things I did was just say that a spelljammer helm is an artifact that you can cram onto any vessel, and then the normal operation of that vessel lets it travel through wildspace. No one actually has to put the spelljamming hat on, but you do need to crew the vessel normally.

Also, it works on any vessel. Sailing ships are nice and familiar for the job, but feel free to cram your spelljammer helm onto a horse-drawn carriage. Or a lightning train.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Night10194 posted:

They have come to spot a sort of 'dashing young patient', though, and make a point of assigning them the eldest sister working at a shrine. Many Adventurers have come to realize this has the side effect of getting them the best and most experienced of a shrine's doctors, and have taken to faking a desire to woo beautiful young priestesses in order to get better medical care.

I love this.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


In the fantasy setting, you can see why plague victims would worship him. Just do his bidding and spread his diseases, and you don't have to suffer or die! It's win-win!


40K's take on Nurgle seems to begin and end with 'pustules are rad!' though. Maybe if they leaned a little harder into Nurgle being the chaos god of Garbage Pail Kids it would feel a little more thematically consistent.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Gun Jam posted:

IIRC, that's true for spotted hyenas only - for the rest (like the striped hyena - if I see one over here, it's this one), the male is bigger, and not matriachal.

Edit:The art do show gnolls as spotted, though.


It turns out it's less true than we thought for spotted hyenas, too! Turns out, females are only slightly larger on average than males; individual diversity far outweighs the effect. The most critical factor in how successful in the pack a spotted hyena is is how much support it gets from other hyenas. Females that stay in the pack with their mothers and sisters tend to have lots of friends, males that leave the pack to go find a mate in another pack have less backup. But sometimes males stay with their friends and have the backup needed to show dominant behavior, sometimes females leave the pack and are bottom of the totem pole in their new home.

It was just really hard for researchers to actually get a good idea of what's going on, because it's super hard to tell the sexes apart.


Point being, hyenas are rad and I hate always-evil-demon-gnolls.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Best siren:

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Robindaybird posted:

God drat it, I'm so annoyed by Deadlands that I'm going to try to hack my own Weird West setting, with Blackjack and Hookers and no loving CSA Apologia

The legions from hell walk the earth, take a look at the american south and decide that's loving evil poo poo even by their standards and whole-heartedly join the war for abolition.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization
by Bard Bloom and Victoria Borah Bloom



”The Back of the Book” posted:

You've lived your whole life within sight of Treverre's snakey walls. You know the look of a field of opal roses, the smell of Lake Laicrane at dawn, the sound of wherriwheffle calling to their flocks at sunout, the humming feel of a thousand spells as you walk by the magic academies. But you can't know what the world is like until you've leaned over the bow of a skyboat and felt the wind in your fur, looking at the whole World Tree spread out beneath you, green branches going forever, wiggling trails of rivers and mountains along them, the ancient cities just little patches like civilized lichen. I can sneak you on to the Crown of Leaves! We'll sail away, see the great courts and the vertical wilderness, meet wizards and heroes and bakers and professors and monsters and gods, and experience everything.

Yes, I'll just say this up front. This game is furry as gently caress. Fortunately, it's much more of the Ironclaw or Albedo brand of furry than anything like Hiccuping Seven Dragons. If nothing else, it doesn't spend any significant amount of time or page space on economic theory.

The basic gimmick of the World Tree setting is that the game world is artificial. It was created by gods to obey certain laws of physics that happen to correspond neatly to rpg mechanics. The World Tree itself was explicitly created to be, among other things, a place to have adventures. If you've ever been amused with the concept of "game rules as physics”, this game takes that concept and runs with it.

Just for context, World Tree was released in 2000, about the same time as, or shortly before, the release of D&D3.0. I point that out now because in a lot of ways World Tree seems very D20 inspired, but it's a case of parallel evolution, rather than being another D20/OGL book on the pile.


The back of the book again posted:

Welcome to the World Tree! Its upper branches are fifty miles wide and thousands of miles long; city-states dot the landscape amongst the forests and fields on their flat tops. The Verticals, the sides of the world-branches, are wild and dangerous and full of monsters, and never more than twenty-five miles away from even the most civilized areas.

In the countryside, you will find mainly Herethroy, peaceful and agrarian. But move into the cities, and you will find others: the loyal and social Cani, the clever and obsessive Rassimel, the merry and mercurial shapeshifting Orren. Look into the woods to find a village of proud and heroic Gormoror, or a solitary Sleeth on the hunt. Sneak into the dark corners of society to find an occasional Khtsoyis, thuggish and brutal. Rarely, you may see a Zi Ri, immortal and mysterious.

These eight prime species, to whom the gods have given access to all of them magical Arts, have built good lives for themselves, mostly peaceful and prosperous. But for those who hear the call to adventure, by design or by accident, the Tree can be a perilous place still…

Filled with stories and advice from the inhabitants, this book gives you the detailed information about the World Tree and its prime cultures you'll need to play your own stories of intrigue and magic on the civilized frontier, together with a completely integrated rules system.

There's a LOT to cover in this book. It's about 300 pages, and very text heavy, so I'm probably a loving idiot for even hoping to get through this without burning out.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


The book starts out with a very basic title page, credits page, and table of contents. One interesting touch is that the contributing artists section also lists every page where their art appears. Many of the artists are familiar names from the furry scene of the turn of the millenium.

The TOC tells us that we're in for a fairly standard organization. The first third of the book is devoted to establishing the world, then comes character creation, followed by the rules of play, and the last third of the book is dedicated to all the lists and tables that an RPG of this era requires.

First off:
Prelude:Into the Verticals




A short piece of fiction establishes the character of Azliet and how she got started on a life of adventure. Azliet is in fact the sample character; we'll be seeing her again as an example of character creation. I'm pretty sure this story is a dramatization of an actual adventure run during the game's development/playtesting. Azliet is a Cani, the dog species, and before she started adventuring she works as a healer. The story is framed as Azliet explaining to her family what sort of trouble she got into after she comes home. It turns out that one of her patients, also a Cani, got herself knocked up by someone other than her spouse. The patient tried going to a ritual mage to have a Purebreed Puppy spell cast, (spells in this setting seem to have very on-the-nose names), but the mage basically extorted her. Azliet, being a good girl and too helpful for her own good, volunteers to help by trudging off into the wilderness to find a substitute for the rare magical ingredient the mage demanded. She decides not to ask her family for help, because Cani tend to be gossips and this is supposed to be a big secret, so instead she goes to the local hooligan miscreant adventurer hangout to try to find some recruits within her budget.

At the bar, there's three potential adventurers. The Rassimel (raccoon) knight-wizard is a huge dick and says he's not going to waste his time helping an adulteress avoid consequences for her actions. Maybe next time don't open with your patient's whole case history, Azliet. The other two adventurers are Rrenga; a Sleeth (panther) freelance mage, and Herobash; a Khtsoyis (Flying cephalopod thing???) brute and blunt object enthusiast. They also think that that knight-wizard is an rear end in a top hat, so they agree to help out of spite. A bit of haggling ensues: Azliet doesn't have a lot of money, but healing magic is always valuable and she agrees to bind some useful spells to her new companions. The story ends with Azliet, her old college roommate that decided to come along too, and the two newcomers hiking to the edge of the branch they live on, and starting their descent into the Verticals, the wilderness of weird twisted plant life that grows on the side of the giant branch.

The tone of this story suggests that the focus of World Tree is on fairly personal adventures. While it's certainly possible to run a game about huge world-threatening events and epic conflicts, I think the Blooms were more interested in smaller scale events. We’re given a quick glimpse into what daily life is like in the setting; the different species tend to all live together if not without prejudices. Magic is commonplace, binding (whatever that means) a useful spell 14 times is considered a two days of skilled work but is otherwise unremarkable. Cani have very complex relationship drama family bonds. In some ways, the setting sticks to genre traditions: bars are the best place to pick up adventurers, and professional wizards are jerks.

Also, Herobash named his clubs “Hero-club” and “Bash-club” and that’s kind of cute.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Evil Mastermind posted:

I'd just like to point out that my local library has a copy of this for some reason.

Great, you can read along, then! :D

World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 1:The World Tree
The meat of the book starts off with an explanation of the setting. This is an understandable starting point; the World Tree is not an Earth analogue! Trying to summarize this might get confusing, there’s a lot of worldbuilding going on here, so if there’s anything that it seems like I’m glossing over, I’ll probably come back to it later.

The titular World Tree is huge, so large that in the thousands of years that people have lived on it, they’ve barely explored a tiny fraction of the surface level and almost none of its depths. It is literally a tree, the kind that branches out into multiple trunks. The main trunks are about 200 miles across, and no one has any idea how tall they are. No one has ever seen the ground. In fact, whether or not there even is such a thing as the ground, or if the roots are just sort of free floating, or if the tree just goes down infinitely is an open academic and religious debate.

People, and basically all “normal” living things, live on the tops of the tree’s branches. The tops of the branches are flat bark, covered in rich humus and teeming with smaller plant life. You probably could follow the branches out and walk around on the World Tree’s leaves, but there’s not much interesting out there.



Seven creator gods made everything in the World Tree universe. The entire project was Virid’s idea; she made the Tree itself and all the plant life. Mircannis and Reluu made the domestic animals and the normal varieties of wildlife. Hren Tzen and Paranenzu made a bunch of weird creatures that had to get shoved off to the obscure corners of the world. Gnarn made a bunch of cool monsters, and Accanax got bored and slacked off until the last moment, at which point he slapped together a bunch of lovely monstrosities and just tossed them around wherever. Then the gods made the people, eight species of people that are collectively called the prime species. Everything about the World Tree is created with the primes in mind. This much everyone agrees on, because the gods literally showed up and said so. On the other hand, the gods never actually said what the actual purpose of all this is, and there’s as many different theories about the subject as there are theologians.

Arbology
Because geology isn’t a thing when you don’t have a ground. The Tree itself gets described in a little more detail: hundreds of trunks, each tens of thousands of miles apart, have been identified, although most haven’t been visited yet. No one’s ever found any sign when or if the trunks stop. One trunk is designated the “main” trunk. It’s the tallest, presumably at the center, and it’s where the primes were placed after creation. The ring of nine uppermost branches of the main trunk are collectively known as Ketheria, and they form the center of prime civilization.

Branches generally extend from the trunks in rings of five to twelve main branches, and each of those branches could have sub-branches extending off of it. A main branch is about 50 miles wide, and tens of thousands of miles long. For comparison, the continental United States are somewhat less than 3000 miles across. Walking down a main branch is a LONG trip.

Most branches are fairly level, possibly angled slightly up as they move away from the trunk, with a few gentle turns back and forth along the way. Some branches are all messed up and poke out at weird angles, but people live there anyway. Usually the tops are flat in the middle, with streams and rivers that flow toward the trunk. The terrain gets bumpier toward the edges, until you got some rough hills dividing the flats from the Verticals.

The Verticals are the sides of the trunks and branches, and they make up the untamed and untamable wilderness. Sometimes the edges are bumpy enough that there’s enough flat land to live on; this makes for bandit territory. Sometimes the Verticals are just cliff faces. Either way, it’s not a safe place to be ever, and people only live there out of necessity, not choice.

Underneath the branches is uncharted territory. There’s no particular name for these places, because people almost never go here. On the other hand, life, uh, finds a way, and this where many of the really weird plants and creatures ended up. Especially ones that can fly.


Prime Territories
In the thousands of years since primes were first placed on the World Tree, they’ve spread out fully colonize about two dozen branches, and another 30 or 40 are partially colonized. For the most part, primes stick to the highest branches if possible; they’ve expanded down maybe four or five layers. Most of civilization is around the main trunk, but a few colonies have hopped over to the branches of two other trunks.

The region called Ketheria is the most completely civilized area, at least by primes. They’ve lived there long enough that the branches have been connected by platforms ringing the entire trunk, basically making a big artificial “land” mass. Ketheria is a geographical (arbographical?) region, not a political one. It’s made up of a bunch of city-states and principalities in a web of political alliances.

Further down the trunk, the tree gets darker and cooler as more and more branches block out the light from the sun. After 5 layers or so, it gets cool enough that primes aren’t eager to live there. 20 or 30 layers down, it gets dark enough that normal plants have trouble growing. As you go further down, the sky gets darker, the air gets colder, the terrain gets rougher, and the monsters get scarier. Past 30 layers, things start getting really weird and all the rules get thrown out.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Bieeanshee posted:

I gotta say, I like the structure of the World Tree. It's intriguing.

The author loves making this kind of 'a single feature expanded out into an entire world' kind of settings. Way back when WotC was doing its 'Invent the next D&D setting!' contest, the one that Eberron ended up winning, his entry was a world that's a single infinitely tall waterfall. I can see why it didn't get picked for a D&D setting but I still really like the imagery.

World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 1:The World Tree cont’d

Astronomy
The sky is a clear dome over the World Tree. Blue during the day, dark blue-green at night. The sun is a crystal globe that follows a horizontal circle around the horizon, about 18° up from the horizontal plane. Since the sun doesn’t actually orbit the World Tree, the day/night cycle isn’t determined by the sun dropping below the horizon. Instead, the sun actually turns on and off over the course of the day. At dawn, the sun ignites, filling with flame from bottom to top over the course of the morning. At noon, exactly one third of the day after dawn, the sun is completely full of fire. Sometimes it overflows and flames drip down. Then from noon to dusk, the fire slowly fades, drains, or dies out, until the exact moment of sunout, two thirds of the way through the day. The last third of the day is night. The sun is still in the sky, a barely visible empty globe occasionally lit by the many other celestial objects.


Yeah, you can just look up and wave at the divine entities that created you. They might even wave back.

There’s two moons. The bigger one is the Hollow Moon, a donut shaped rock that tumbles around the far edge of the sky and tries to dodge all the other stuff out there. Sometimes bad things happen when its rotations end up pointing the hole at the world. The closer one is the Silver Moon. It’s close enough that people have flown there, and the god of time has a house there.

The stars are all the way at the back of the sky, behind all the other celestial objects. Some twinkle, some don’t, some move around, some don’t, and that’s about all anyone knows about them.

There’s also some less familiar celestial objects:


I kind of like the idea that there's three swordfighting trees just loving around in the sky all the time, and there's no reason for it, they're purely decorative.

Directions
North and south wouldn’t make a lot of sense on a giant tree. Directions are generally given radially in terms of the tree trunk: Trunkward and Outward for toward and away from the trunk, rollward and roll’gainst for moving around the trunk in the same direction as the sun or the opposite.

If you’re not on a main branch, you probably use walkward or walk’gainst to describe walking toward or away from the main branch, because that’s more locally useful. If you’re a scientist or a navigator, you might give directions in terms of celestial objects. Reluu never moves around, so he’s often pointed to as the equivalent of “north”.

Up and down are universal. Trying to explain gravity on a globe to a World Tree native would probably earn you very dubious looks.

Common Materials
The short version is that almost everything is some form of plant or animal material. Even stuff that would obviously be a mineral on earth, like clay or jewels, often has a plant-based equivalent on the World Tree. Cookware is usually leather treated with fireproofing magic. Cheap blades are made out of the tough flesh of meng nuts. There’s even plant material that’s the equivalent of modern plastics.

Actual minerals exist, but are extremely rare and precious. Glass, ceramics, metal, and stone either have to be found by exploration, or created by magic. Iron is the most precious of minerals, since it has a particular useful magical property.

Magic


Magic is everywhere. It comes in many varieties. Spontaneous magic is the most common. Every prime and most living things can spontaneously cast simple spells as naturally as walking or talking. Pattern magic is considered “grown up” magic because it’s much more consistent and reliable. A normal prime will learn a dozen or more pattern spells related to their profession and daily life. Bound magic is a new invention, which lets people purchase pre-packaged spells set to go off under specific conditions. This lets powerful specialized mages provide spells to anyone who can pay, and the social ramifications are still rippling through prime civilization.

Time and Seasons

This just breaks down how clocks and calendars work. Not terribly important, except that one World Tree year is 2/3 of an Earth year.

There’s nine months in a year. The seasons more or less break down into Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter. Climate is basically determined by divine fiat, since there’s nothing like Earth’s orbit and planetary tilt and weather fronts and stuff. Also, crammed into the middle of autumn is an extra month-long season called Surprise where the weather is completely monkey-cheese random. It might be frozen one year, scorching hot the next year, and it might rain apples the third year.

Languages
The World Tree has a lot of different languages, none of which would compare neatly to any Earth language in terms of grammar or sound. Animal people just don't have the same shaped mouths as humans, after all. There’s a very rudimentary universal language; maybe about 2,000 words and no complex grammar. Even non sentient animals will often understand the basic gist if you yell at them in common.

Beyond common, there’s dozens of families of language, and dozens of languages in each family, related to each other (or not) in more or less the same way Earth languages are. That is, region has much more to do with language than species. Sleeth have a silent hunting language of gestures. Khtsoyis also have a silent gesture language, but it’s mostly obscenities. The gods have their own completely unrelated language; a few primes have learned the basics of it.

Pronouns
Actual World Tree pronouns are usually species based, not gender based. Because not every species has a male/female binary, the text also uses “Zie/Zir” as an extra pronoun, but this doesn’t have any diegetic significance.


Tl;dr: This game secretly has chocobos.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


kommy5 posted:

World Tree has been very interesting to me. But I am curious to see what they actually do with this concept. Original world building by itself only goes so far, after all. I'm curious what kinds of adventure seeds are supplied and what kind of PCs they envision for this imaginative setting. And how much they play around with this concept of 'the rules mechanics are the physical laws'.



Before I forget to point this out, one major notable thing that's missing from World Tree entirely is any kind of metaplot. There's lots of examples presented, but there's absolutely no "This is our story, the players are just watching it."

Even though there's a lot of setting detail, I think this book really did "Draw maps, leave blanks" long before PBTA codified the principle. Things like "Weird stuff happens when the hollow moon points at the world, and you could probably fly there if you're really resourceful" leaves lot of room for player and GM creativity, I think.


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People

OK, so the world is neat and all, but you can't have a story without people. This chapter is split into two parts: a detailed description of each of the eight prime species, and then a quicker overview of the non-prime people of the World Tree.



As mentioned, there are eight prime species; one created by each of the gods, and then an extra one created because one of the gods hosed up and wanted a do-over. The prime species all share civilization, rather than entire kingdoms being a single species.



It's kind of interesting to see this Y2K take on RPG species, especially considering how the discourse on portraying race has progressed since then. In any case, every prime species is very distinct. There's not even two races as similar as dwarves and orcs, really. One thing I appreciate: There is no "default" race that all the others are compared to. That is, there's no human equivalent. No baseline species that only has some handwavey "I dunno, they're adaptable?" to make them stand out.


This picture isn't really related to anything right now, there aren't even any Cani in it, but I still like it. It gives a neat little slice of life view. That wall of snakes isn't metaphorical or anything, by the way. That's a perfectly normal way to protect a city.

Anyway, the prime species. Each species gets about half a page of story, generally a representative of the species describing themself, and then a description of appearance, social structure, naming styles, art, diet, moral attitudes, variation, and how they tend to view the other species. All of the stats and mechanical effects are saved for another chapter, so we'll have to revisit everyone later.

Cani
The dog folk

Hey, it's Azliet again! She goes on to explain how she was a wild puppy and always got into trouble no matter how much she wanted to be normal. She married into a family of eleven(!!) spouses and had some puppies, which are extremely normal Cani things to do. Then she started getting caught up in trouble again, partly because of her also-wild brother, and then later because of wanting to help a patient in the opening story. The story talks about a concept called affan, which seems to be some kind of authority that is apparently very important to Cani and not to anyone else. Also, it confirms that she did return successfully from that adventure and helped her patient out, happy end.

The first thing the actual description makes clear is that Cani are a) extremely social and b) extremely loyal. If there's a powerful political family somewhere, they're probably Cani just because Cani care the most about having big powerful families and about forming up into packs, families, and nations.

Loyalty is instinctive and unavoidable. A Cani that's part of a group, for any reason, for more than a couple weeks will develop loyalty to it. This doesn't replace any existing loyalties, and a grown Cani will find they often have to balance many conflicting loyalties, but it's there and it's real. A disloyal Cani is almost unthinkable, the stuff of horror stories. They're well suited for adventuring life; they work well in teams, their hide is tough enough to count as a light armor, and their teeth and claws, while not ideal weapons, mean they're never completely disarmed. Unsurprisingly, they also have the keenest sense of smell of all the primes; they can distinguish two brothers by scent, even when following a days-old trail.

The differences between male and female Cani aren't readily visible to most other species. (Aside: A lot of the artwork gives female Cani decidedly curvy bodies. Chalk that up to artists being artists.) Cani can effortlessly tell the difference by scent. So can Sleeth, but Sleeth don't give a poo poo. Cani love fashion, and will dress up quite extravagantly given the opportunity, with the exception that their tails are always left uncovered and unhindered; it's just too important for scents and social cues.

Azliet's big family is completely typical for Cani; most live in a longhouse with a dozen or so adults in a single group marriage (although it's actually structured more like a fever dream of poly tumblr; each spouse will have a specific and distinct relationship to every other spouse. Husband/wife, mate, co-mate, brother-brother, etc.) along with all the children, and probably a selection of parent, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Cani don't need or even want privacy, so living space is communal, divided up by purpose (kitchen, gathering area, playroom, workshop) rather than "Azliet's room."

Usually when a Cani family wants children, all the women in the family will schedule their pregnancies around the same time, so even though single birth is normal, there's still a "litter" of puppies all the same age to grow up together.

Outside the longhouse, Cani find other ways to organize. There's nine clans, descended from the originally created families. Clan membership is hereditary through the mother's line, but each Cani is also fully aware of all their secondary clan associations. While there's some political power to the clans, their function is mostly to enforce exogamy; two Cani of the same clan mustn't bear a child (although sometimes the male will officially change clans to one of his auxiliary clans to get around this.)

Between families and clans, Cani group up according to extended families, guilds, nations, clubs, and sports teams. Two Cani meeting for the first time will spend the effort to find some connection in common. Sharing a clan is easy, or being in the same trade guild, but if those don't work they'll most on to common friends, having gone to the same school, or even just having relatives that happen to have the same name. If all else fails, they'll just invent a made-up social connection that lasts long enough for their loyalty instinct to kick in, at which point they'll laugh off the "misunderstanding" since now they're friends and that's enough of a connection.

Cani have two concepts that have no direct human equivalent; affan and choofing. Affan is basically dominance in some social setting. A queen would have affan in government, a head chef has affan in cooking, one adult in the longhouse will have affan in organizing chores. In any social situation where someone can take charge, affan comes into play. Cani love this. Obeying the person with affan is natural and instinctive, not a cause for resentment.

Affan is determined by a process called choofing. This is also an instinctive urge; even if the head-chef has been doing the job for years, from time to time all the cooks will feel a neat to test their position in the chain of command. A choof takes the form of some kind of contest related to the affan being held. There's even a big book of etiquette describing how the rules should be determined. In general, the more powerful the position, the more rarely a choof is held. Clan leaders choof every five years, leaders of nations every three. Juvenile Cani will choof several times a week to sort out where they fit in their groups of friends.

Along with these concepts are emotions that are also alien to humans. Deffa is the emotion the loser feels; an acceptance of the loss, recognition of the winner's position, and loyalty to the affan-holder. Salaffan is the converse; the winner feels a loyalty to and a drive to protect the loser, rather than humiliate or injure them. These emotions fade after a couple days, but in the moment they are very strong, and both the winner and the losers will feel satisfied and even happy about how things turned out.

While individual Cani aren't particular powerful by World Tree standards, they're probably the dominant race just by virtue of organization. A Cani might not win a one on one fight, but they have friends, family, and clan backing them up if need be.

Artistically, Cani tend towards stories about conflicting loyalties, with complicated resolutions that bore other species to death. Their visual art isn't special one way or another, but they are fond of making scent-sculptures that only Cani and Sleeth can perceive as the artist intended.

Cani are omnivorous, but prefer meat-heavy diets for energy. They like to eat several times a day, often in big communal dining sessions. Visitors to Cani kitchens need to be careful; Cani have no concept of "tastes bad" or even "smells bad." Your friend that likes to eat durian in public has nothing on these people. That isn't to say they'll eat rot or poison, but it does mean that they're perfectly happy wearing a cologne of eau de carrion.

Loyalty is at the core of Cani moral norms. This can be to their disadvantage; if someone kidnaps a Cani and sits with them long enough, the Cani will form a loyalty to their kidnapper. Also, their tendency to think in terms of the pack can lead to heinous behavior; if one member of a group considers a crime or misbehavior, the idea can spread, blame gets divided, they goad each other on, and the ugliest aspects of pack behavior can manifest.

While Cani are generally described as being doglike, there's a lot of diversity in breeds, including forms more like foxes, wolves, or jackals. Being of a distinguished breed, such as one associated with a powerful family, is a point of pride, but not generally the most important factor in social position.


Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People cont'd

Gormoror
The bear folk

The introductory story for the Gormoror is a warrior describing how his uncle died honorably in battle. The old man had an infected wound that was going to kill him, but he didn't want to die in bed. So his nephews hired some adventurers to take them out in the wilderness and pick a fight with the biggest, meanest monster in area; something called an ogre-worm.



So, if it's not obvious, the Gormoror are the Noble Savage type. While the text isn't really so specific, the artists tend to go for stereotypical indigenous American styles. They fill the same niche as Klingons, or Earthdawn trolls. The word "barbarian" gets use a lot. There's a few interesting ideas to make them stand out, but to be honest I think the broad-strokes pitch for Gormoror is kind of lacking.



Physically, male Gormoror are bigger and more ursine; they have a bearlike muzzle and large claws, where the females are smaller and more humanoid, lacking the fangs and claws. On the other hand, there's very little difference in personality or social status between the genders.

They're happier living at the margins of society, sometimes even as far as the Verticals; the stereotypical Gormoror only bothers going to civilization to trade or to raid. They tend to organize in rough tribes, led by a chief who holds their position by heroism or by raw strength, until someone else comes along to take it from them.

Daily life is rough, bordering on brutal, but not out of cruelty. They just love fighting. Male Gormoror will get into vicious fights over anything, biting and clawing and not satisfied until blood flows. Gormoror women are just as eager to get in a fight, but they don't have fangs and claws so they use knives instead. Men get whiny about getting stabbed, and arguments about whether knives are polite to use in bloodsports is the Gormoror equivalent of arguing about leaving the toilet seat up.

Gormoror relationships are theoretically monogamous, but with the drama dialed up to 11. It's not real love unless fits of jealousy lead to bloody fights; at least during the courting period.



Every Gormoror wants to be a hero, but the definition of hero is variable. For some, it's about performing great deeds, protecting the week, fighting oppression, etc. For others, it's a more Classical variety of hero; basically just as violent an rear end in a top hat as possible, beating up whoever they can, plundering whatever they can grab. Raiding a village, killing a few guards, and running off with as much loot as possible is considered honorable somehow. Bands of Gormoror will happily raid each other, or arrange duels between warriors of equal strength, and this tends to improve friendly relations between the tribes.



Gormoror duels have certain manners to be observed. Fights should be as equal as possible, such as setting aside a weapon against a weaker opponent. Maiming or killing your opponent is a faux pas, and killing your opponent so hard they can't be revived is REALLY bad form. Keep doing that and no one will duel you anymore, and there goes your social life. Letting your opponent surrender honorably is laudable, and a good way to get a new drinking buddy.



Honor is as important to the Gormoror as loyalty is to the Cani, both culturally and instinctually. A Gormoror doesn't give their word of honor lightly; once given their word MUST be upheld. No limits, no weaseling, no half measures. If you break your word through no fault of your own, you still broke your word. If the world's greatest monster tricks you into making the oath in the first place, you're still bound by it. If you're mind controlled, you still broke your word. Gormoror have a special hatred for mind mages.

A Gormoror that has never broken their word of honor is in gavm hau. Most Gormoror are in this state; they're careful not to give an oath they'll break. It's cowardly to never swear an oath, but you can just swear some kind of short term goal, like victory in battle, and most will do so at least few times.

If a Gormoror breaks their word, they enter a state called gavmkjorok. This is a sort of psychic stain; any Gormoror can tell at a glance, and most other species can tell if they study carefully. While in this state, a Gormoror is expected to perform some kind of miserable penance. Skipping bathing, living with the livestock, ashes in the fur, that sort of thing. Acts of heroism are right out. When the period of penance ends, the psychic blotch fades, but leaves its mark on their personality. The Gormoror is forever more considered gavm fenjosk, honorable again, but not as honorable as before. This is a disadvantage in some cases of tribal law, but doesn't otherwise prevent heroism.

If a Gormoror finds they're facing an oath they can't keep, or are subject to conflicting oaths, they have one way out: write a long dramatic poem explaining the dilemma, and then commit ritual suicide. If no one resurrects you, then your honor is considered undamaged.

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Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People cont'd

Herethroy
The cricket folk



Herethroy are the farmers, villagers, and generally simple folk of the setting. They're hobbits, if hobbits were over 6 feet tall, went clank when they bump against furniture, and laid eggs. If I were to run a game right now, I'd probably play them like an episode of Letterkenny.



Physically, they're a lot like the Thranx from Alan Dean Foster's Commonwealth novels, except bigger. I wouldn't be surprised if the Thranx were a direct inspiration, at least for the visual. The string of balls tail is kind of weird, though; I have trouble visualizing it even with that illustration for some reason.

Generally, Herethroy like to live in small villages, about 50-100 people. Basically, if a village starts getting big enough that you need someone to be officially in charge, it's getting too big. Elders and village priests are as much governance as they generally feel they need.

Herethroy biology is kind of weird. They have three-plus-one genders. Male, female, and co-lover are the three genders needed for reproduction, both-female is an extremely rare gender that's not quite equivalent to intersex. The only visible difference between the genders, outside the bedroom, is that males tend to be a little smaller, co-lovers are considered the pretty ones, and females are larger and considered common and plain. Although the co-lover doesn't contribute any genetic material, they're still necessary to the process, and are considered the main parent to the child. Both-females are prejudiced against. Sometimes they're accepted if they're willing to behave as a co-lover, which are slightly uncommon and thus valued. If they're not willing, or the village is particularly intolerant, they'll be exiled or killed; a fairly obvious hook for why a Herethroy would turn to a life of adventuring.



Another similarity to the Thranx. Also, I'm kind of amused at the thought of the most reckless dipstick in the party being basically the village kid on a rumspringa.

That's about all there is to say about Herethroy. It turns out, when you make "They're usually boring" into defining feature of the species, it leads to a short writeup. OH WELL. Even both of the short fiction pieces are basically "HI I work a boring day job, but sometimes I have to go out on an adventure when times are tough."




Luckily, the next species is my favorite. :cthulhu:

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