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Mar 25, 2013

Obviously you get someone to carry the printer and paper for you in return for nebulous awards.


Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


Grimey Drawer

Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Rocket Ships: Smithers, There's A Rocket In My Pocket

All spaceships in XXVc are rocket ships; they use the same basic technique of fuel combustion, though the technology has advanced. Rockets take off and land vertically, and while they’re accelerating they have gravity pushing things towards the back, so a rocketship can be thought of like a flying skyscraper, the decks stacked on top of the engines. The main difference from old-school rockets is they have enough power and fuel to do braking maneuvers just before landing, instead of turning over halfway through.

There are six major categories of rocketships. Fighters are small one-or-two man vehicles, very fast but with limited range- they have small atomic motors which aren’t enough to travel between planets, though they can be carried by larger ships. Fighters are often customized to their environment- Martian fighters have large wings for better maneuvering, and have hulls which can withstand the Martian sandstorms. Venusian fighters are closer to dirigibles, designed to “swim” in Venus’ heavy atmosphere. There are some rules for the penalties faced when, say, a Venusian fighter is on Mars (+6 initiative/reaction, and it’d take 2 HP per round to its Hull during a sandstorm.)

Cruisers range from 50 to 1,000 feet in length (though few are larger than 200 feet), and have powerful fusion converters enabling interplanetary travel. They have fins for atmospheric stabilization but maneuver on their engines alone. The book says that when piloting a cruiser, you should think to yourself, “What should I do with a jetliner armed with lasers and missiles?” That is a question with many answers.

Asterovers are small shuttles used to make runs between orbit and a planetary surface. Like fighters they can’t travel between planets. They have small amounts of cargo and living space.

Battlers are your capital ships, giant military vessels starting at 1,000 feet long and maxing out at around 2 miles. They have hundreds of crewmen, can carry fighters (usually between 20-50), and also usually have a lot of ground troops on board (enough to assault a city.) They’re the only ships described here that cannot make planetfall; they do sometimes skim the atmosphere to gather gas for fusion drives, though, so they have some atmospheric streamlining.

Transports are built to take cargo and passengers between planets, and so sacrifice speed, maneuverability, and most armament just to make the trip. They come in all shapes and sizes, but usually only have a crew of two (a rocketjock and an engineer) living in very cramped quarters.

Freighters are smaller than Transports, and are built to carry small but valuable cargo. As such they tend to be better armed and more maneuverable. The kind of ships adventurous rogues are found in- in other words, the PCs.

Spaceship construction is largely centered around tonnage. You determine your ship's tonnage based on the kind of ship it is (a light freighter is 30-50 tons, a medium cruiser is 55-200, etc.), picking a number in that range so long as it’s a multiple of 5. (No 33-ton ships etc.) This determines your ship’s length, width, basic cargo space, speed, and maneuverability. Smaller ships get bonuses to their initiative and AC, while very large ships get the inverse. This has the effect of making the fighters very hard to hit indeed, which can be a bit annoying (and doesn’t seem entirely balanced, seeing as they’re on the low end of the XP value scale.) You also get a Speed score out of this, used in combat and when you’re moving in a planet’s atmosphere.

Tonnage also determines your ship’s hit points, which are divided into six categories. Your Hull has HP equal to the ship’s tonnage x4, Sensors/Commo and Control systems both have HP equal to tonnage x1, Life Support gets HP equal to tonnage x2, and Fuel System and Engine both get tonnage x3.

Your options for Armor Class are basically determined by your kind of ship: civilian craft get Civilian armor (AC 8), Military Armor (AC 6) is for fighters and light cruisers, Maximum Military Armor (AC4) is for cruisers ≥100 tons, and Battler Class Armor (AC 0) is for Battlers. Finally, you have individual weapon spaces equal to your tonnage divided by 10 (rounded down)- most weapons take up one space, but some are larger.

There’s a whole section on Buying a Ship- basically it boils down to, the base cost of a good used ship is tonnage x 10,000 credits, you can spend more for a New ship with higher HP values than normal (though the bonus they get is permanently lost when they’re damaged), or less for a Poor ship with each section having a chance to be damaged or even unusable until repaired. Financing is available, but generally the PCs aren’t expected to be able to buy a ship out of the gate. Of course, as interplanetary heroes of space, you may be coming into ship ownership in… other ways.

On to operations! Fuel costs 20 credits per HP of fuel (you basically use the system HP as your fuel gauge), so a full tank for a 30 ton vessel costs 1,800 credits. It also costs 1,000 credits to load a ship’s reactor with atomic fuel rods, but those rods last five years. There’s a list of costs for replacement systems, if you’re in port and don’t want to spend days on end restoring small amounts of HP to something- these costs aren’t based on HP or tonnage, but they’re all in the thousands or, in the case of the nuclear engine, tends of thousands. It takes only 1d6+4 hours to swap out a module. There’s also costs- and number of spaces required- for weapons. Spaceports charge their own docking fees, ranging from 50 to 200 credits a day, and there are all sorts of supplemental charges you can ding the players with if you wanna really be annoying about it. A ship needs to carry around five pounds of food and water per person on board per day.

I’m not really sure most of this detail will be useful, but I’m one of those who thinks outer space RPGs should be focused on adventure and heroics and not on trying to manage the economics of rocket ownership, so I feel like little would be lost if this were mostly handwaved. Again, that’s me though. Sci-fi RPGs often feel a need to get wrapped up in this stuff.

Spaceports are classified as Class A, B, or C- A is the best, with all kinds of facilities and replacement parts, B spaceports will have most of what you need and can mail order the rest, and C spaceports are basically open-air landing pads and maybe a fuel pump.

Space travel works a little differently from how it does in our century. Because rocket ships have lots of fuel and efficient reactors and whatnot, they don’t have to spend most of their fuel just on achieving escape velocity; they can (and do) actually fly under power most of the way, making travel between planets much faster. This is where the map and the ruler come in- the referee can track orbital positions and therefore the overall distance you have to travel from one planet to another, and the ruler shows rates of travel based on how much fuel you’re spending per day.

Ah, but what if you’re spending no fuel? The game doesn’t give options for cutting acceleration and continuing at your present speed- which should work- but if you do run out of fuel, and aren’t orbiting a planet, you deviate from our original course by 15 degrees in one direction or another (roll a die), and continue moving at the 10-HP per day rate. If you run out of fuel near the surface of a planet, you start falling- the pilot must make a Difficult or Impossible skill check to land, otherwise you just crash.

Finally, in an atmosphere, a ship can move at a top speed of 1,000 mph for every point of Speed it has. For every 1,000 mph you’re burning 1 hp of fuel per hour.

And this is hella long already, so I’ll split off Space Combat into the next post.

Feb 13, 2012

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

There are many, many things I could and would do with a jetliner armed with lasers and missiles.

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

New Horizon Part 4: History and a bit of adventuring

Now that we're getting into some real IP-heavy stuff, I'll refrain from posting large blocks of text. Right off the bat, however, I want to share a bit of text regarding Valery. She was the tutorial character in the original Knights & Legends. Turns out she was more than met the eye. She founded the monolithic church that most people are a part of 350 years ago and then vanished. But not really. She reappeared a year after the last campaign ended, calling herself Omega-V. She was branded a god but that apparently warrants only this footnote.

Chapter 1

From here on out, pretty much all of the text is read-aloud. You're here at x o'clock. You see some stuff. You go over there at y o'clock. A pretty white lady with red hair asks you to buy some bread [buy, decline, shop around]. The campaign itself is laid out sort of like an open-world JRPG. Do a bunch of questy stuff. Once you complete it, you're free to gently caress about until you want to continue with more questy stuff.

Real heavy stuff. We open on a bustling tavern at 17:50, focusing on the tavern wench wandering about with her breasts almost popping out. Really.

We discover one of New Horizon's big innovations here, the Spontaneous Event. That makes them sound neat, as if they're little vignettes you can drop into various places. Here, however, Spontaneous Event basically means "something happens and the players can react". There are three of them before the party tucks in for the night - someone accidentally spills beer and you can decide if you assault and murder a black guy, a wench gets pulled around by her right arm "in what looks like to be a complete uncalled for jest" and you can play the hero or ignore it, and some dude offers you a coin for the drink that you supposedly bought him, which you can deny.

Our first sidequest involves getting some harpy talons and bonemeal. This quest shows off the author's love for repeat phrases - "That's when you accidentally step on what appears to be, harpy dung! That's when, you hear a very loud shriek from the top of the cliffs to your right," and two paragraphs later, "That's when you spot one of the harpies". We've also forgotten what we murdered some number of harpies for. Our final blow knocks off some of their pinions, which we gather to complete half of our quest. That just leaves the bonemeal, which is daunting "sense" the merchant asked us to take it from some undead. After a grueling battle with the English language, we re-slay the skeleton of a humanoid warrior and pull off its right feet.

We discover our first real quest - emigrate to another nation and find the king's missing wife and child. Keeping in mind the read-aloud states that we've all got 600 kescs and the fare for the boat ride is 300, we decide instead to do a bit of ocean travel by way of grandad's rotten old rowboat because we're poor. This works. We arrive tomorrow morning, greeted by some mourning mist. You narrowly avoid some unidentified floaty light things.

There's another black guy we can pry at for information. He's super fat and his "overweight takes its tows on his body". I'm not going to be talking about every single bullet point but I wanted to call out this one now. Skin color isn't mentioned pretty much at all, except for when you're not supposed to like the person (they're black unless the person is royalty) or you're supposed to find them attractive (they're a redheaded white lady). This happens a few times.

The quest comes to a close with everyone safe and happy. *ding*, we can now use shields and maybe choose a new class and occupation.

Chapter 2

We're asked to head out to a different nation and offered a sum of coin. This is where we're introduced to an old Knights & Legends staple - responses that lead to consequences no one in their right mind could have guessed. This one - "you're camping; you should set a watch." If you set a watch, you get to fight three skeleton knights. If you don't set a watch, the skeleton knight thing doesn't happen and you all contract influenza instead.

Turns out you're going to overthrow the dude you helped last time. But first, an angry black man with a nappy afro that you can placate by maybe killing his wife if she's cheating on him. She is! With that other black guy we don't like! You can blackmail them for cash or kill them for less cash.

Skip a bunch of pages of read-aloud. You kill or incapacitate the queen, a level 3 stabby lady, and decide to bring her with you. The dude you're with converses with the king in text that's identical to read-aloud ("Sidney, then lashes out! You filthy dog, you aren't fit to be king! After I kill you I'll deal with your heir.") before killing the guy in an epic play-by-play fight that you can't interact with.

You feel guilty about the heir maybe dying so you take a vacation to experience therapeutic massages (and maybe bring some girls home) in Kenjiwah.

Chapter 3

We learn that the floaty orb things are aliens from Xanadu, our moon. We get to fight a group of them now.

Luckily the Xanadulian Spitzfraun is just reminiscent of Monte Cook's Nibovian Wives, meaning you probably don't have to have sex with them and create the progeny that will become YOUR DOOM.

We're not pretending we're not in Japan anymore as there are geishas all over the place. First order of business, you can buy a standard massage or a happy time special.

You run into a geisha immediately afterward who is exactly as offensive a stereotype as you might be thinking.


Harol, are you hear to fight in the tournament? You have big long sword! Uhh, makes me very happy to see so many foreigners in our tiny little country!

She then drops her robe to reveal an even thinner robe, unties her hair, and then asks you to go in the water with her. If your character is single, maybe this is your chance!

You quickly discover your quest for the chapter - four nubile ladies, Fukimi, Saori, Naomi, and Fook-Yu, are going to be forced into marriage with Oroshi Nabunga and two are prepared to commit harakiri tonight. So being the valiant invaders you are, you go kill him and steal his sword. At this point, the four women are objects for you to do with as you please. You could pawn them off as farmhands or you could settle down with them. Beware! They'll take a quarter of your income (and that will rise to half if they have a child).

Just kidding. I mean, that all does happen, but the real final quest involves heading out to the middle of nowhere because some lady (probably an attractive white lady with red hair) asks you. When you get there, she requests that you kill a death knight and head through a portal to the abyssal plane where you eventually choose to slay a blood dragon. You came all this way so you do it despite her saying she can't pay you. And without prompting, you take the dragon's nine pound blood clot. You can use this to interact with a new NPC that's so powerful he can paralyze you if you even think about attacking. He can make you one of three potions that increases your stats using that clot, I suppose setting you up for the expansion campaign.

The stats for the death knight, blood dragon, Pointed Moon Lady, and assorted enemies that you encounter aren't present in the list of enemies we covered last time. They're just kind of in the vicinity of where they appear in the campaign.

Kredits (no, really)

The author claims to have run an in-depth playtesting campaign with many people who asked to help. Presented here are three playtesters, one of whom is the author himself.

I think I've probably made my feelings abundantly clear on this game. If anything, I've been more polite than some of the only other reviews you might locate. The language used makes it hard to talk about and you might look at my comments in this update regarding black people and the Japan expy and think I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'm really not.

So, a question to the peanut gallery. There are thirteen free supplemental items for this game and more are coming out all the time. Do you want to hear about ezo-latin food? How about stealing breastmilk from babies? The author's apotheosis? They're all one page, I believe, so there might be one more update in me if people want more.

Jun 20, 2008

I dunno if it's changed in Sixth World, but cyberdecks were restricted (i.e. requiring of a license), rather than illegal, in past editions. Your PC only owns one for doing crimes, obviously, but they're also used legitimately by IT and cybersecurity types so you could theoretically pass yours off as legal when the cops ask you about it.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


Flail Snail posted:

I think I've probably made my feelings abundantly clear on this game. If anything, I've been more polite than some of the only other reviews you might locate. The language used makes it hard to talk about and you might look at my comments in this update regarding black people and the Japan expy and think I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'm really not.

So, a question to the peanut gallery. There are thirteen free supplemental items for this game and more are coming out all the time. Do you want to hear about ezo-latin food? How about stealing breastmilk from babies? The author's apotheosis? They're all one page, I believe, so there might be one more update in me if people want more.


get to the author as god, I'm disgusted so far but I need to hate.

Nov 19, 2010

He... really named the stereotypical Japanese geishas "Fook Mi" and "Fook Yu?" :cripes:

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

Flail Snail posted:

I think I've probably made my feelings abundantly clear on this game. If anything, I've been more polite than some of the only other reviews you might locate. The language used makes it hard to talk about and you might look at my comments in this update regarding black people and the Japan expy and think I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'm really not.

If people want to know what the author is like, they commented on a review on RPGnet


When SJW extremists post their reviews... Personally loved the part that says classic K&L was copper (because I demanded it) when in fact it was nearly gold. And the other wild speculation that the print version of New Horizon doesn't exist. Just what the F is this poo poo? All this hating is indeed very unhealthy for you. Let's not forget the part that the writer claims I used their ideas gtfo this made me cringe. Sounds just like the typical RPGGEEK Sleezyness to me, too bad I can't reply because they banned me for being "antagonistic" go figure. Can't wait to get a real professional reviewer!

I think that paints a picture fairly succinctly.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


Snorb posted:

He... really named the stereotypical Japanese geishas "Fook Mi" and "Fook Yu?" :cripes:

A joke that didn't work that great even in an Austin Powers movie.

Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Deities & Demigods 1E
Part 13: There's a 5% Chance That This Will Make Sense

(No, that's not what I said in the last post would be coming "Next Time", but it's been long enough since then I figured nobody would remember anyway.)

You're probably guessing that those hieroglyphics in the upper right don't actually mean anything. You're probably right.

And so finally we get to one of the Big Three... the three ancient mythologies that even the average American who has little or no interest in history and anthropology will have some passing familiarity with, and will be able to name a few gods from. Most such people may not recognize the names of Anshar or Nuada or Guan Yin, but they've almost certainly heard of Thor and Aphrodite and Anubis. (Not coincidentally, these would also be the only three ancient mythologies to make it into the 3E Deities & Demigods.)

The plus side of these mythologies being so well known is that Kuntz and Ward don't get them as drastically wrong as some of the other mythoi. That's not to say their treatment of the Egyptian, Greek, and Norse myths is completely faithful to actual mythology, by any means, but they're not as utterly, deliriously wrong as most of the other mythoi we've seen so far.

This was kind of a long chapter, and I turned out to have kind of a lot to say about it, so, yeah, I went over the character count again and am going to have to split it into two posts. Sorry about that; I really don't expect this to keep happening with every chapter.

This Erol Otus drawing only appeared in Deities & Demigods starting with the third printing—apparently TSR decided that if they were going to remove the Cthulhu Mythos they ought to at least add a full-page drawing as a consolation prize.

This mythos, too, appeared in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", of course—in fact, it's the very first mythology in the book. (As I've mentioned before, the mythologies in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" aren't in alphabetical order—or any other sort of systematic order as far as I can tell.) As with the Chinese Mythos, though, I'll only comment on the entries there if there's something particularly interesting about them or significantly different from their presentation in Deities & Demigods. In fact, let's just assume that's the way things are going to go from now on unless I specify otherwise.

Here's the introduction to the Egyptian Mythology section in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes":

Egyptian Mythology posted:

The ancient Egyptians had a culture lasting over 3,000 years. It is only natural that their faith would undergo a change. Their Gods aged with Ra starting as the ruler and growing senile and Osiris taking over after being killed by Set. The pantheon presented is one with Ra in prominence only because there are more Gods in this early group.

That's not only the introduction to the Egyptian Mythology section in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", as it happens; it's also very close to the first paragraph to the introduction to the Egyptian Mythos chapter in Deities & Demigods. Yes, while in the other chapters we've seen so far the introduction to the "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" section has been significantly different from the introduction to the corresponding chapter in Deities & Demigods, in this case Deities & Demigods just copied the introduction from "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" almost word for word:

Egyptian Mythos posted:

The ancient Egyptians developed a culture lasting over 3,000 years. It is only natural that their faith would undergo a change in that time. Their deities aged, with Ra starting as the ruler and growing senile and Osiris taking over after being killed by Set and being brought back to life. The pantheon presented is one with Ra in prominence only because there are more beings of power in this early grouping.

Now, it's true, of course, that the Egyptian mythology changed over time (like every other belief system that lasted for a significant length of time), and it's certainly fair enough to choose to present the mythology as it existed in one particular time fairly early on. I do, though, have maybe three or four eensy objections here. First of all, Osiris certainly grew in importance over time, but he never really supplanted Ra as ruler of the gods; in mainstream Egyptian mythology I think Ra was pretty much always considered the head of the pantheon, though he was sometimes conflated with other deities. (In fact, the third-edition Deities & Demigods and the listing of gods in the fifth-edition Player's Handbook both reflect this, listing as the head of the Egyptian pantheon not Ra by that name, but "Re-Horakhty", a combination of Ra and Horus.) Even if we do accept that Ra's importance faded somewhat with time, I don't think there's any mythological basis for claiming that he was growing senile; that just seems like a... really weird thing to say. (It's true that in later Egyptian myths, there was a belief that Ra aged along with the sun over the course of the day, but, you know, that meant he was old and arguably senile in the evening, but by the morning he was young again.) But whatever, sure, I guess now Ra is rooming with Odin at the Woodshead Hospital.

Second (or maybe third if you count the above as two separate issues), it also strikes me as a bit strange to say that the early myths had more gods. Surely the ancient Egyptians may have added to their myths over time, but I don't think they were known for removing gods from their pantheon. Now, granted, technically the text in Deities & Demigods (unlike the corresponding text in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes") doesn't say there were more gods in early myths, only that there were more beings of power, and I guess you could make an argument that later myths put the spotlight on a smaller number of gods and left more gods on the sidelines, but even so I'm not sure that's true. I mean, obviously I'm not an expert on ancient Egyptian mythology (just like I'm not an expert on American Indian mythology, or Babylonian mythology, or Celtic mythology, or Chinese mythology, or...), and maybe there's more to this than I think, but it doesn't sound right to me.

The last objection here is maybe a bit more of a nitpick. I'd mentioned in a previous part of this review that Set wasn't originally considered evil in Egyptian mythology; he was originally a benevolent protective god, and only became villainized relatively late in the course of the civilization, more or less coinciding with Osiris's rise in popularity. So if you're going to say you're specifically drawing on the mythology from before the rise of Osiris, that means you're specifically drawing on the mythology from a time when Set was still widely honored and respected. So what's he doing as a lawful evil enemy of the rest of the pantheon? But of course, D&D writers have always loved their evil gods, so it was probably inevitable they would have made Set evil given the slightest excuse to do so.

Anyway, that's the end of the introduction to the Egyptian Mythology chapter in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", but the introduction to the Egyptian Mythos chapter in Deities & Demigods goes on for another three paragraphs. The first paragraph is about Egyptian temples.

Egyptian Mythos posted:

Temples were many in Egyptian society, but each city had only one major deity. All the other deities could be worshiped, but only in an inferior position. Temples always follow the same design and differ only in size and splendor.

The rest of the paragraph describes that design in depth. The next paragraph gives three more sentences about the temple sanctuary and really probably should have been part of the same paragraph—I guess the writers thought that paragraph would have been too long (which, okay, I guess it kind of would have been), but the paragraph break comes in a really odd and arbitrary place. Then the third paragraph discusses the duties of Egyptian clerics. Apparently the Egyptian gods are sexist:

Egyptian Mythos posted:

Female clerics can rise no higher than the 9th level in ability, but it is necessary for all 11th level males or higher to take on a female cleric as a consort and advisor, and these women often rule in the stead of their male counterparts when the males have to be away from the temple. The female clerics keep all official temple records.

This can't, incidentally, be attributed to historical authenticity, since historically in the ancient Egyptian priesthood men and women were actually of surprisingly equal status, and during the New Kingdom era the priestess holding the position of God's Wife of Amun was the most powerful priest in Egypt.

Also, besides being sexist, the Egyptian gods in Deities & Demigods are really mercenary:

Egyptian Mythos posted:

Egyptian clerics can only rise in levels by donating large sums to the sect for its use (in AD&D terms it is necessary to donate the equivalent of the needed experience points in gold in order to rise in levels).

Again, I'm... pretty sure this doesn't have any historical basis.

So, on to the gods. Starting, of course, with:

RA (sun god) "Pharaoh to the Gods"

"Take that, illustration border!"

As the introduction says, the leader of the mythos is Ra, who is neutral good and for some reason lives on the Prime Material Plane.

Ra posted:

He rides through the air in a huge war galley made of part of the sun and called the Matet (this galley changes into a simple barge at night called the Semktet). It travels at a rate of 24", is surrounded by flames (which inflict 40 points of searing damage on contact), and is never affected by magic.

Yes, that's right. Not only do we, as usual, get lots of useless information on Ra's combat abilities, we get statistics for the combat abilities of his boat, too.

Also an illustration. Wait... who's steering the ship?

Ra posted:

This god prevents fighting among the other beings of the pantheon and is able to reduce all conflict to a state where only the clerics of each sect are able to do battle, with their respective gods never taking a hand, unless Ra himself is out of commission.

Uh, wait, so was Ra out of commission when Set personally murdered Osiris? Except from the introduction I guess we're basing this on an early version of Egyptian mythology and that hasn't happened yet. So... will Ra be out of commission when Set personally murders Osiris? Eh... whatever.

The only difference worth noting in Ra's entry in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" is that instead of saying it inflicts damage it says it "is immolated for 40 points", which makes it sound like the barge is burning up.

ANHUR (god of war)

Anhur, doing a classic cartoon villain "Curses!" pose.

Anhur "always appears as a human", except that we're told in the next sentence that he "shape changes", which seems to imply that he does not always appear as a human, unless he only shapechanges to the form of another human. However, he only shapechanges "when attacked by more than one being", except then we're also told that he "commonly fights in +4 scale mail", so does his armor shapechange with him, or...

Anhur posted:

A worshiper of Anhur offers sacrifices to him in battle, in the form of powerful enemies. If a follower of Anhur promises the god a foe's life as a sacrifice, and the foe is at least twice as powerful as the worshiper (considering levels, hit points, special abilities, etc.), then if the worshiper is successful, there is a 1% chance that Anhur will immediately grant him or her sufficient experience to raise one level of experience.

On the one hand, there would seem to be no incentive not to just offer the life of every powerful foe as a sacrifice, just in case that 1% chance happens. On the other hand, how often in any edition does a D&D character fight and win against a foe twice as powerful?

Like Ra, Anhur lives on the Prime Material Plane for some reason.

Oh... he's also "unusually tall". That's... important, I guess.

ANUBIS (guardian of the dead)

I'm not sure what the top of that staff is supposed to be shaped like.

Anubis doesn't live on the Prime Material Plane. He lives on the Astral Plane. So... okay. The Egyptian gods just want to be different; they don't want to hang out on the Outer Planes like those plebeian gods. Well, all right, most of the remaining Egyptian gods do live on the Outer Planes. Most, but not all; we'll still get a couple more gods living on the Prime Material Plane, three on the Elemental Planes, and one on the Ethereal Plane... but I'm not sure why so many of them are on the Prime Material Plane. Huh.

Anubis posted:

Anubis appears as a man with the head af a jackal.

Anubis has what I think is the most circumstantial combat ability so far: he can animate any statue of himself, which I guess can be handy if he ever... gets in a fight near a statue of himself. Which I guess he sometimes does, because there's a 5% chance that he will come and kill anyone who robs a tomb with an image of himself, because the writers of Deities & Demigods really loved having small random chances of the gods doing things, which seems pointless because that means those chances almost never matter, but the DM still (theoretically) has to roll just in case this time they do. Anyway, if the "tomb has been consecrated especially to Anubis", the chances of his appearing go up to 10%, but that "involves the intercession of a 10th level priest and the sacrifice to Anubis of 50,000 gp worth of precious gems."

By the way, in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", the chances of Anubis's showing up are larger—he has a 5% chance of coming to kill the robber of any tomb, and it rises to 25% if the tomb has an image of him in it. Also, he has the head of a dog instead of a jackal. He still animates statues of himself, though.

But, getting back to Deities & Demigods, the writers aren't done throwing random percentage chances into Anubis's entry. We're then told that since Anubis is the "collector of souls for transportation to the house of the dead"... um, actually, this part is sufficiently longwinded and awkwardly worded that I'm just going to quite it rather than try to summarize it.

Anubis posted:

In his role as the collector of souls for transportation to the house of the dead, there is a 20% chance that a dead being (worshiping any Egyptian deity) will, while in the process of being raised from the dead by a cleric, attract the anger of the god, and as a result that cleric will be forced to go on a quest for the purpose of increasing the power of the cult of Anubis (no saving throw; judge's option as to the quest).

Yeah, okay.

Finally we're told that while Anubis can use magical powers in combat, he's especially fond of just biting enemies to death. Oh, Anubis. Have some dignity.

APEP (king of serpents)

Apep is presented as a unique monster rather than a god, which, really, is fair enough; I don't think anyone in ancient Egypt ever worshipped Apep. Which, of course, didn't stop Wizards of the Coast from making Apep into a full-fledged god (or at least demigod) in third edition.

Apep posted:

This creature of the Abyss is the deadly enemy of the gods, particularly Osiris. Apep is the physical embodiment of chaotic evil in the Egyptian mythos. He is usually attended by 5-50 flame snakes (q.v.), who act at his will.

Apep doesn't appear in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", but it has a different evil reptilian being in his place:


Apesh posted:

Apesh looks like a dragon turtle straight out of D&D. Its main attribute is the power to summon 1-4 of any evil creature per day to fight for it. In battle it relies on its shapechanging power to kill its enemies. It is very fond of allowing maps to its many treasures to be found by lawful beings and then taking a personal hand in killing them when they try to take the gold.

And no, this isn't just a typo or another name for Apep; Apesh and Apep were distinct beings in Egyptian mythology, though Apesh was rather more obscure. I'm not sure the writers of Deities & Demigods knew they were distinct beings, though, since they never appeared in the same D&D book.

Also, it probably goes without saying that in Egyptian mythology Apesh did not look like a dragon turtle, which... wasn't a thing. He did look like a turtle, though, so, uh, close enough?

APSHAI (god of insects)


Apshai is a great praying mantis, able to shape change at will and call an insect plague on a person, town, or country. He can control any type of insect (of a non-divine nature).

Yeah, that's all we get about Apshai except for a sentence about his, ugh, combat abilities.

This god is kind of a weird one. Yes, Apshai really does come from Egyptian mythology, but he was definitely not a major god. He wasn't really a god at all. He was just kind of a... well, an insect that the dead had to confront on their way to the afterlife, mentioned briefly in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. He doesn't seem to have really been a praying mantis, either. More likely a flesh-eating beetle.

So why was such an obscure entity included as a god in Deities & Demigods? Well, I had a theory as to why:

Please note that there are no dragons in this game.

That's the cover to the instruction manual of Temple of Apshai, one of the earliest computer role-playing games. This game took place in a temple of "Apshai, the insect god", now a buried ruin inhabited by monsters including six-foot antmen that smelled like vanilla. The game was released in 1979... the year before Deities & Demigods was published.

So that seems like a likely inspiration, doesn't it? Well, that's what I thought at first, until I realized something that completely falsified this theory.

Sure, Deities & Demigods was published in 1980... but "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" was released in 1976, before Temple of Apshai, and Apshai was in that book too (and, as in Deities & Demigods, was an insect god in the form of a praying mantis). So no, I guess Apshai wasn't in Deities & Demigods because of Temple of Apshai. Rather, Apshai was in Temple of Apshai because of "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes". As with Tower of Druaga, the D&D entry came first.

No dragons, but there are plenty of ants.

So that brings us back to the question, then, why was this obscure entity in "Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes"? I don't know. Maybe because Kuntz and Ward were thumbing through the Book of the Dead at random, ran across the mention of Apshai, and decided to throw it in. Why not.

BAST (cat goddess)

:nws:Link to NSFW image on external site:nws:

Bast posted:

Bast's bitter enemies are Set and his minions. When fighting evil with her claws, she often teleports about and shape changes so that she can use more claws in battle.

Uh... so what does she shape change into? Like, just a giant ball of claws, or...?

Not that it matters, because again, we're talking about a god's combat abilities, and who cares.

Anyway, returning to the persistent theme in this book of gods having pointlessly tiny chances of reacting to things, there's a 2% chance of Bast noticing when someone kills "one of the cat race", and if she does there's a 5% chance that she'll react to it, either by killing the slayer or by demanding "that he or she devote one-half of the rest of his or her life to Bast." So, you know... I guess by these rules every time the PCs slay a giant lynx or a kamadan or a luck eater or a nonafel or one of the dozen other cat monsters that exist in first-edition D&D, the DM is supposed to roll to check for the one in a thousand chance that Bast will show up and kill them. Or force them to serve her.

("Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" has Bast significantly more reactive: there's a 40% chance that she's see a being killing "one of the cat race", and if she does she'll come and kill them, period, unless they're "very powerful", and then she'll demand "that he or she raise the cat to life and devote one half the rest of their life to Bast." So... yeah, don't kill a cat in OD&D. Though OD&D didn't really have any cat monsters anyway except for the displacer beast, which was introduced in the first supplement, "Greyhawk". So, yeah, I guess in OD&D RAW if you kill a displacer beast there's a better than one in three chance that a literal goddess shows up to avenge its death.)

Also, all of Bast's priests have special powers against snakes. Because clearly that's a cat thing. No, really, I think it's because Bast is an enemy of Set (in Deities & Demigods, that is, not in actual Egyptian mythology), and Set... is connected with snakes, I guess? I mean, he didn't really have any connection to snakes in Egyptian mythology (if anything, his opposition to Apep made him an enemy of snakes—or at least of one snake), but in Deities & Demigods he... doesn't really have much connection to snakes either, actually. Though his symbol is a coiled cobra for some reason, so I guess that's enough.

BES (god of luck)

Bes posted:

Bes appears as a mountain dwarf as described in the MONSTER MANUAL.

Also not a thing in Egyptian mythology: dwarves. Though yeah, in a lot of his ancient Egyptian depictions, Bes did kind of look like a dwarf, so, okay, fair enough I guess.

Anyway, Bes likes people who take gambles, and if he's "really pleased (judge's option)" by seeing someone take a big risk, there's a :sigh: 5% chance that he'll "give the being a luck stone, no strings attached. (DMs must exercise discretion in this.)" Yeah, because the luck stone (or, as it's actually called in the DMG, the "Stone of Good Luck (Luckstone)") is one of the most potentially powerful items in first-edition D&D, not least because it affects even rolls to randomly determine treasure. Are you hoping to find a specific extremely rare magic item? Well, the luckstone can multiply your chances by a factor of well over a hundred.


Flame Snake posted:

This creature is an enemy of the gods, and is related to the great serpent Apep. It appears as a small harmless grass snake and is most often found sitting coiled on the highest pile of treasure in a tomb... The Egyptian hells swarm with flame snakes.

We saw these mentioned in Apep's description; now we get stats for them. They're chaotic evil monsters that are... kind of pathetic, actually; they only have one hit die, and their bite does a maximum of two hit points of damage. The best thing they have going for them is a breath weapon that does fifteen hit points of damage. Also, they have magic resistance and a decent armor class. Still, these things are enemies of the gods? Somehow I don't think the gods are going to be too scared.

By the way, flame snakes did appear in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", even though Apep didn't. Except they were called fire snakes. And they were actually a lot tougher; they had 20 hit points and their breath weapon did 35 hit points of damage. They still looked like grass snakes and sat on piles of treasure, though.

GEB (god of the earth) also known as Seb or Qeb

Okay, so Anubis isn't the only Egyptian god to have a staff with a tip shaped like nothing in particular.

Obviously the names of most if not all ancient Egyptian gods have multiple different English transliterations, so I'm not sure why only Geb gets alternate versions listed of his name. Anyway, Geb's description is almost entirely about his combat abilities. In fact, the only part that's not about his combat abilities is the first sentence, "Geb appears as a heavily muscled man." So moving on...

HORUS (son of Osiris) "The Avenger"

Insert topical Avengers joke here. I don't know. I haven't seen the movies, but I'm sure there's some reference that can be made. Maybe something about Hawkeye?

According to some sources, there were actually at least two different Horuses in ancient Egyptian mythology, sometimes called Horus the Elder and Horus the Younger. It's Horus the Younger that was the son of Osiris, while Horus the Elder was one of the oldest gods, so I'd say the version in Deities & Demigods represents Horus the Younger, except that I'm not sure Kuntz and Ward were even aware of the difference. Then again, I'm not sure how much the difference was important to ancient Egyptians, who may very well have just seen the two as aspects of the same god and not worried about the contradictions in their origin stories, so, eh, I guess I'd give them a pass on that.

What I won't give them a pass on is the fact that once again the vast majority of his description is about his combat abilities. We get half a sentence of description, "Horus appears on the earth as a muscular man with a hawk's head," and then we launch into a lengthy paragraph of what he does in combat. (I say "half a sentence" because while the quoted clause could stand on its own as a sentence, it doesn't—it's the first half of a compound sentence the second half of which is about how his "main attribute is the ability to triple the power of any weapon or magic item he uses.")

We do get a second, much shorter paragraph that isn't about his combat abilities, but which is about Deities & Demigods' other pointless obsession, that being a god having a tiny random chance of reacting to some event. In this case, we're told that "When a 'good' person seeks righteous revenge, there is a 5% chance that the god will aid by increasing all of the being's ability scores to 19 until the deed is done." And yes, "good" is in quotation marks. I'm... I'm not even going to bother speculating as to why.

ISIS (goddess of magic and fertility)

:nws:Link to NSFW image on external site:nws:

Okay, yeesh. There are four goddesses in this pantheon, but only two of them have illustrations, and both of those are drawn in costumes that leave their perky breasts fully exposed. I guess it's possible that the artist for this chapter (Jeff Dee) thought the ancient Egyptians really dressed that way, but I think it's much more likely he just wanted to draw boobs.

"Isis usually appears as a beautiful well-proportioned female," because of course she does. She likes creating "magical charms" that each resist the effect of a single spell, and she has a 5% chance :sigh: of giving them to anyone who creates a new spell or magic item. Did any DM ever consistently roll for all the tiny chances for all the gods' reacting to various events?

NEPHTHYS (goddess of wealth and protector of the dead)

Nephthys is the twin sister of Isis, and of course she also appears as a beautiful woman, and she almost certainly would have walked around with her breasts hanging out if Jeff Dee had bothered to draw her.

Nephthys posted:

Nephthys was once married to Set, but she left him when that god turned to evil.

In Egyptian mythology, Nephthys was indeed married to Set, but I'm unaware of any myths in which she left him. I guess Kuntz and Ward just didn't think a chaotic good and lawful evil god could be married. Even though the chaotic good Chalchiuhtlicue was said to be married to the lawful evil Tlaloc in the Central American Mythos. Hm.

OSIRIS (god of nature and the dead)

Osiris, seen here doing jumping jacks as part of his morning exercise routine.


Osiris usually appears as a muscular green man. He is the lord and protector of the dead. Vegetation or anything made out of vegetation has no effect on the god. His also is the power to raise the dead, no matter how long in that condition.

Then we get the requisite long paragraph about his combat abilities, and the almost as requisite shorter paragraph about his having a 5% chance of doing something. In this case, "if one [of his clerics] does a great deed for the religion (judge's option). that cleric may (5%) be given a wish." ("Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes" doesn't have the 5% chance; it just says straight out that "if one [of his clerics] does a great deed for the religion (judge's option) the priest is given a wish." Still includes that wishy-washy "judge's option", though.)


Osiris is second only to Ra in power and rules in Ra's absence.

He's actually given a full 400 hit points like the leader of a pantheon, though as mentioned above I don't think he was ever really the head of the gods in actual ancient Egyptian mythology. Osiris was considered the king of the dead, and sometimes also the "king of the living", but he was never the king of the gods.


Is it just me, or does it kind of look like it has a windmill tattooed on its wing?

Phoenix posted:

The phoenix was said to exist and be watching at the time of the creation of the universe, and it stands for everlasting life beyond even the power of gods to attain.

The phoenix wasn't Egyptian, so I'm not sure what it's doing in this chapter. Well... the Greek historian Herodotus did repeat accounts of the phoenix being found in Egypt, but then Herodotus also wrote about griffins in northern Europe and "headless men with eyes in their breasts" living in Libya. To Herodotus's credit, he didn't relate these accounts uncritically as unquestioned truth; he generally explicitly said they were things he had heard of but could not personally vouch for—and that goes for his account of the phoenix as well, which he admitted he had never seen and that he didn't believe all the stories about. So anyway, the only connection the phoenix had with Egypt is that a Greek guy said they were found there. Certainly there are no mentions of the phoenix in any ancient Egyptian sources—there was a magical bird called the Bennu that some scholars have suggested may have inspired the Greek phoenix, but even that is dubious at best. So, yeah, if Kuntz and Ward wanted to include the phoenix in Deities & Demigods, it really belonged in the chapter on Greek Mythology, not Egyptian.

Anyway, the phoenix is of course presented as a monster, not a god, and it's pretty much what you probably think: it's on fire, it attacks with its wings and beak, if killed it explodes and is reborn 3-18 rounds later.

Phoenix posted:

There is no way by which the phoenix can be killed permanently. Even if its ashes are destroyed, it will rise again, seemingly out of nothingness.

Being that it's just a giant bird that doesn't seem to be hurting anything, I'm not sure why anyone would be interested in killing it permanently anyway.

In "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", the header for the phoenix reads "PHONEX (Phoenix)". I don't know why. Did anyone ever spell it that way?

PTAH (creator of the universe) "Opener of the Ways"

Is he wearing a bald cap?

Ptah posted:

Ptah appears as a dwarf with eyes that reflect the universe. He exudes a feeling of great power. According to legend, Ptah formed the Prime Material Plane out of the Ethereal, and created the Egyptian pantheon of gods. However, he is not really a member of their group, and generally makes his own way.

We also get information about how Ptah is a "master of planar travel" and can force people to other planes or "teleport anywhere in the multiverse with accuracy", and then we get information about :sigh: his combat abilities and :sigh: how he has a 5% chance of rewarding people who come up with "highly useful" inventions. (15% if they're worshippers of Ptah, and 20% if they're clerics.) He rewards them with a special magic item called a Thet which is only mentioned here inside Ptah's description instead of having its own entry. Anyway, it's a charged item that lets wielders become ethereal or create an anti-magic shell that doesn't affect their own spellcasting. There is absolutely no information on what a Thet looks like, so you can use your imagination. A jellybean? A spork? It's up to you!

Okay, I looked it up online, and a thet looks like this:

So kind of like a stick figure guy with his arms at his sides, though that's probably not what the ancient Egyptians were going for.

Also, it was strongly associated with the goddess Isis, so why Ptah is handing these things out is anybody's guess.

SEKER (god of light)

This time the artist just completely gave up on deciding what the tip of his staff looked like.

Seker posted:

Cousin to Shu, Seker appears as a rather ordinary man.

What a vivid description. He's not just ordinary, he's rather ordinary.

Seker posted:

Seker is one of the gods of the afterworld, and protects neutral good souls (of the Egyptian cults) after death.

And that's all the information we get about him besides his combat abilities. One of which is that he "casts shafts of light from his hands that kill any undead they touch (range 500 yards)". Which I mention only because we get a bonus drawing of his doing just that:

At least, I assume that's what's supposed to be happening here, although the middle figure looks less undead and more blob of Play-Doh. Also, I like the way the mummy looks like it's trying to hold the bandages in place over its forehead.

In Egyptian iconography, incidentally, Seker was often shown with the head of a falcon. I only bring this up because it seems a bit odd that he's not given the head of a falcon in Deities & Demigods, despite many of the other Egyptian gods being described with animal heads. I mean... you could make a case for the Egyptian gods having animal heads (because that's the way the ancient Egyptians depicted them), or you could make a case for them having regular human heads (on the grounds that the animal heads in their depictions were meant as symbolic), but let's be consistent.

The description of Seker in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" is basically similar, though shorter, but it does have one interesting bit:

Seker posted:

[Seker] can use all of his powers shapechanged as opposed to all the other Gods who cannot.

Wait... so usually gods who can change their shape lose their powers when they're not in their normal form? And this is something you didn't think was important enough to mention anywhere outside of the entry of the one god who's apparently an exception to the rule?

SET (god of evil and the night)

Set, seen here making use of his specially designed posing stool.

Set posted:

Set is a scaled humanoid with the head of a fierce jackal. He is totally dedicated to the spreading of evil and has attributes to match.

Okay, we've already covered how Set wasn't originally evil, and we've touched on his implied but not explicit association with snakes; now let's talk about that "head of a fierce jackal" thing. (Though this was already touched on in KingKalamari's review of Wilderlands of High Fantasy, since Wilderlands apparently heavily drew from 1E Deities & Demigods.) I don't think any jackals have ever had heads remotely like Set's head in the illustration. Still, saying that Set has the head of a jackal isn't actually completely unfounded. Some Egyptologists have indeed proposed that the animal whose head Set has—and the full body of which is often shown in other depictions of Set, or in hieroglyphics representing him—was meant to be a jackal (and that the differences in the depiction of Set's head with Anubis's are intentional for the purpose of distinguishing the two gods). Others have identified it with different animals, including the donkey, the okapi, or the aardvark. All of these, however, are minority views; the mainstream modern consensus is that this animal, called the Set animal or the sha, is an entirely fanciful beast that was never meant to correspond to any real-world animal. As amusing as it might be to have a god with the head of an aardvark.

Fear Set, bane of ants and termites everywhere!

He can turn people into evil Minions of Set with a touch, regardless of their original alignments, and there's (ugh) "a 5% chance that Set may be watching when one of his worshipers does a highly evil act, and if so, Set will lend that being 2-20 Minions of Set for 12 weeks."

Hey, remember this part from the book's introduction?:

Dungeon Mastering Divine Beings posted:

If an entreaty for aid were heard one time in 100, surely each and every deity would be as busy as a switchboard operator during some sort of natural disaster.

Because given all these gods' having 5% chances or whatever to respond to various events, I'm not sure the writers remembered it. Apparently the gods are far too busy to actually respond to prayers, but they have plenty of time to personally kill tombrobbers and avenge cats and reward inventors and whatnot. They have their priorities.

Anyway, we've had a few mentions of a "Minion of Set". What's a Minion of Set? Well, it's the next entry in the book, that's what.

But I think I'll stop here for now and save them for the next post.

Next time: Curse Be On You Forever

Jul 8, 2003

Dawgstar posted:

Mostly it boiled down to the Weapons Specialist only going the same amount of times as somebody playing a support role. How it worked in my experience is everybody'd get their pass and then the Street Samurai would go two more times because the WS had to roll high to get two passes because, whoops, no initiative boosting. They're only rolling, what, 6+1D6 and hoping for an 11 to go again?* And that's not even considering stuff like the spell-lobber just flinging down an AOE spell and calling it a day (which is a Shadowrun problem in general). The crux of the problem - 'highly skilled is the same worth as lots of cyberware or spells or any other niche' - is that it just doesn't apply to combat characters. The player wanted to contribute via combat and did not feel they were really doing so.

*My player didn't buy the Booster Reflexes, buying - surprise - more weapons and such because he thought that was the pregen's deal which in theory it is.
I thought pre-4e it wasn't that the street same would go, everybody else, then the street same went two more times, but the street same went twice, then everybody else went and then the street same go to go a third time? Or if they rolled slightly better, they got all three actions first.

Halloween Jack posted:

You are correct, but you'd be surprised how many people houseruled 3e so that wired reflexes worked like in 2e. I remember people complaining about it on Dumpshock. Bad design can be addictive.
Oh, maybe I am thinking of 2e here.

EDIT: Also, I thought in Shadowrun 6e the rules for getting Edge if your side has low-light vision and the other doesn't doesn't actually specify that it needs to be in low light conditions?

Mar 17, 2007

Shadowrun: Speaking of modifications to missing numbers, for 5th edition the book about animals and wilderness etc is almost unbelievably bad. Apart from the normal poor layout, lack of editing, non-existent balance and trash quality you can expect it has no tables for the price or availability of animals. It has price and availability modification rules for if your dog dies and you want to clone it back (or want a second one I guess) or if you want to combine it with a porcupine or snake or whatever but nothing about the base values. I kept looking and looking until I gave up and googled it. The first result was from the official Shadowrun forums where someone was complaining about the lack of information and the author of the book replied how because not all the previous editions animal books had those numbers he didn't need to add them, heh :smug:.

The book also has some new mentor spirits but they're not in the index. Because instead of being ordered into their own little chapter they've been randomly sprinkled out around the book. But amazingly only one is a duplicate from an earlier book, with different stats of course.

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.

megane posted:

I dunno if it's changed in Sixth World, but cyberdecks were restricted (i.e. requiring of a license), rather than illegal, in past editions. Your PC only owns one for doing crimes, obviously, but they're also used legitimately by IT and cybersecurity types so you could theoretically pass yours off as legal when the cops ask you about it.

See, that would make sense, and the text even mentions that they're used by G-men and they're all corporate products, but:

(I) there indicates completely illegal, as opposed to (L) which indicates licensed. That designation puts the Farlight Excalibur up with deadly nerve gas as one of the only four items in the game too illegal to buy with your character generation money.

Zereth posted:

EDIT: Also, I thought in Shadowrun 6e the rules for getting Edge if your side has low-light vision and the other doesn't doesn't actually specify that it needs to be in low light conditions?

Like many of these things, it's stated multiple times in different places and is sometimes wrong. The description of the cyberware versions reads:


This modification offers a bonus Edge if the opposition doesn't have a vision enhancement to mitigate limited light.

Which yes, literally, doesn't actually state that there has to be limited light. But the Environment and Visibility section in Combat says:


If one character has a clear advantage over their opponent, they gain a point of Edge... consider low-light circumstances where one character has either low-light or thermographic vision and the other combatant does not. The character with the vision enhancement should gain an Edge in that circumstance.

So, yea, it doesn't necessarily state they're the same point of Edge.. but I don't need to poke too much at pedantic readings when the rules already says that two unmodified humans in a pitch dark room can fight perfectly normally (neither has an advantage, so there's no Edge given out, and that's it), and that if you are fighting in a dark room and the other guy's got cybereyes then turning the lights on doesn't change anything (the Edge was already given out in the first round).

Mar 17, 2007

Hang on, they only get that edge in the first round? If you are in a dark room shooting back and forth over ten rounds low light vision is only worth one edge in total?

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

To be fair, from what can be gathered, Egyptian women did in fact go topless in certain periods, but the illustrations are definitely more for 'artist is horny' than 'historical accuracy' reasons. My own theory on Set is the Set-Beast is a species that had gone extinct over time.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.

Clapping Larry

I've pretty much settled on running SR 3e as the only version. and the 3e Wired Reflexes are fine as long as you actually use the 3e, not 2e, rules.

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.

6: Rufus Rumblerore the talking dog who hacks

Let me come clean right away on this.

I do not like cinematic hacking systems in RPGs.

They work OK in films where their use can be mixed into the plot, and in video games where they're almost always subsidiary (nobody ever asks why every single PC is Warframe is a skilled hacker). But in RPGs, cinematic hacking takes a huge part of any sci-fi or cyberpunk setting ("technology") and distils the most powerful interaction with it down to a single heavily abstracted action. It completely fails to model the opportunistic nature of hacking, thus making it far too easy, and then typically makes sure there's a PC who can't do anything else. Folks always talk about the "decker problem" of the hacker player spending a long time at the table hacking while the others can't participate, but what about the one where the hacker either takes over a ton of fundamental bits of the setting or else has nothing to do?

So, as we saw, to connect to the Matrix in Shadowrun you need quite the show. First, you need a commlink to actually make the connection. The Commlink needs a Sim module to generate AR, which requires a neural interface in the shape of trodes or an implanted jack, then you need either Cybereyes or some kind of visual modification with an Image Link to be able to see it, then you need AR Gloves to be able to manipulate stuff in the AR environment. Unfortunately, the book doesn't say anything about what happens if you don't want all of these. Does the commlink just have a touchscreen you can fall back on? Does a subvocal microphone let you talk to your commlink? The same issue comes up with the biometric scanner which implies that if you don't buy it, your commlink doesn't have a biometric scanner (unlike most real high-end smartphones at this point) so how do you unlock it? No idea.

With all of this complexity, it is time to engage in the side sport I discovered with Fourth Edition: spotting PC templates and NPCs with broken AR rigs. In fact, apparently at one point the actual writer's guidelines for Shadowrun said that an NPCs commlink "shouldn't be mentioned unless it is an important part of their character", apparently forgetting that it sets the defence rating for every Matrix connected device the character has, which in 4e was everything.

Pretty much all of the sample characters are missing something, the most common omission being a sim module, and the second most common being the AR gloves. Now, you could argue that you don't need AR gloves, but there's no clue as to how you interact without them. In the NPCs, the typical Lone Star Aatrolman has a Commlink and absolutely no connecting hardware, and the Renraku Red Samurai has no sim module and nothing to connect it to. Also, the Elite Special Forces trooper has a commlink with Device Rating 8, which doesn't exist in the gear chapter.

So. For the purpose of working in the matrix, you carry over all your mental attributes from the real you, and also get four Matrix attributes which are governed by the device you're using: Attack, Sleaze (which apparently means Matrix stealth), Data Processing (thanks for making D not stand for "defence" guys), and Firewall (which is the actual defence rating). These also have a Device Rating. In Fourth Edition, the text said that if a commlink was missing one of the four stats, then use the Device Rating as the default. Sixth Edition doesn't have that anymore, and in fact explicitly states that any missing stats are 0, so all of the NPCs in the generic NPC section - including the Elite Special Forces Trooper - have all their matrix stats at zero. Data Processing, by the way, is the maximum number of devices you can slave to the Commlink, so if anyone wants to read through all the archetypes and count how many of them have too many connected devices then be my guest.

(Actually, technically everyone does, because the section that tells you how to calculate these values starts with "If you're a decker..", leaving nothing about how to calculate them if you are not. But that's small potatoes by now.)

What the Device Rating actually does is to set the hitpoints of your device - the Matrix Condition Monitor - which is calculated using Device Rating the same as Body for a PC. If a device runs out of Matrix HP then it's a brick until it's fixed using an Engineering test. As well as that, you also have to worry about Convergence - that is, the big bad Matrix police (aka the Grid Overwatch Division, GOD, groan). Any time you do anything illegal on the Matrix, or maintain access illegally to a device, your Overwatch score goes up by one, and when it reaches 40 you get promoted to Gol.. uh, sorry, your device gets instantly hit for all of its HP and you get dumped out of the Matrix.

There's also this example:

There's practically nothing in the book before this about "Matrix attribute adjustments", aside from one sentence in the stats section which says "you can rotate all attributes through your persona, even if they originated from different devices". This could reasonably be read to say that if you have different devices, you can use the best rating in each category, but apparently we're meant to conclude that it also lets you swap a device's stats with each other. The Erika MCD-6 has Attack 4 and Sleaze 3, and the Transys Avalon has Data 3 and Firewall 1, so at least the numbers are correct, but at least one swap is required for either of those stat blocks to make sense.

So! Let's hack. First step is to find the thing we want to hack, which is a Matrix Perception test; Electronics+Intuition, opposed by Willpower+Sleaze if the target is particularly trying to hide and has set their system to silent. Next, we might or might not need to roll initiative..

Uh. Ok. Certain systems in the Matrix are monitored by white-hat hackers (called spiders, although this is only briefly mentioned, causing a bit of confusion when other chapters refer to secure bank vaults protected by spiders). If a system's monitored, the Willpower of the monitoring individual is added to the difficulty to hack it. Unfortunately, this is mentioned in exactly one place in the whole book: the early hacking example. There are absolutely no rules on how you "monitor" a system or how difficult it is. What if there's more than one spider? Can the team decker monitor all their buddies' PANs at once or just their own, or are they not even monitoring their own if they're busy in a firefight? Dunno.

Anyway, if you want to roll initiative in the Matrix, it depends on whether you're using regular AR, VR, or "hot" VR which is illegally modded VR hardware with the filters removed (whatever that means). VR and hot VR give you the Matrix version of wired reflexes. In AR, you use the same initiative as everyone else; in VR you use Intuition + Data Processing with one extra initiative dice, or two for hot VR. This means that you have at most 3 Initiative Dice in the Matrix, which is not enough to get you an extra Major action.

So, let's suppose that we are the archetype Decker, and attempting to hack the PAN of the archetype Weapons Specialist. We have no idea if he counts as monitoring his own PAN or not, but let us assume that he does not. Our Cyberjack and Shiawase Cyber-6 deck give us total Matrix stats of 8/7/9/8. The Weapon Specialist has an Erika Elite Commlink and no deck, giving him 0/0/2/1. There are two options for how to hack. One is to use Brute Force, which is quicker (the exact opposite of what it logically should be..) but potentially raises the alarm and causes Convergence faster. So we'll use the other option, Probe, which doesn't raise an alarm. That's our Cracking+Logic (Cracking 7 Logic 6), vs their Firewall doubled since they aren't monitoring (2).

Oh, wait, hang on. The Probe action is "linked to the Sleaze attribute". The text says that this means that "if you use an action or program that's linked to the lower of the two attributes, you take the difference between the higher and lower Attributes as a dice pool penalty to the test". But Probe uses Cracking+Logic, which isn't using any attributes? Apparently we apply this anyway. So let's swap our Sleaze and Attack before we start, giving us 7/8/9/8.

We are rolling 13 dice compared to the target's 2. We get five successes. They get none. The Weapon Specialist's commlink is Device Rating 4, so the backdoor we created will only be closed after 6 hours. With 5 net successes, using this Backdoor to gain Admin access will have a +5 dice bonus. Using it is Cracking+Logic again, this time vs Willpower+Firewall, which leaves us with the question of whether or not the monitoring counts or not. But still, cracking+logic+5, that is 18 dice, compared to the Firewall's 1, to gain Admin access without being considered to have illegal access.

So, here we see our first problem. If hackers are supposed to be involved in combat, then there's an issue in that a dedicated hacker, even a starting PC, can utterly shred any balanced character that is not also a dedicated hacker. So unless you are very generous with the monitoring rules, and allow your PC decker to monitor all their friends' PANs, anyone except them will be instant bait for any NPC hacker who is built to match the PC level. But don't worry. There's a balancing factor.

So, we've hacked into the Weapons Specialist's PAN. Assuming he's gone for all the juicy Wireless Bonuses, we can now take control over all his Matrix connected gear. And what can we do with it?

We don't know!

Yes, for all the hullabaloo about Wireless Bonuses and similar things, there is absolutely nothing about what can be done with a hacked device or piece of cyberware! There's control device and spoof command actions, which just says "you can take any action that could be taken at your access level to that device", but absolutely no clue about what that is for any given item! Wired Reflexes, for example, have the Wireless Bonus to make them compatible with Reaction Boosters. So can you just switch them off from the Matrix, when likely there is no reason they could receive any message from the Reaction Boosters telling them that? Who knows!

Literally 90% of the Matrix chapter is about combat between hackers, regarding bricking target devices, crashing hacking software (there's programs. They give you bonuses to hacking actions. You have to pay for them all because obviously there is no support for pirating them even though it's the first, easiest, and most obvious cybercrime), rebooting devices, and snooping on data. Nothing about the actual integration of the Matrix and combat, even though all those extra rules and specifiers were put in for that reason.

Next, there's a section on Hosts - that is, the major servers that make up the Matrix (which we have no idea about when and how they are used). They have a Host Rating, which translates into their Matrix stats, and they also have ICE, where we completely throw out anything about hacking and just straight up try to use the combat rules. And fail. The ICE have special Defence specifiers for what you have to roll to defend against them, but only one brief sentence about what they roll to attack you, which is the Host Rating doubled. They also have Attack Ratings, which implies they can have Edge (and there are Edge actions for the Matrix), which would be good if any hacking hardware had a Defence Rating to compare to.

There's also the mention that Hosts use their own architectural design to prevent hacking, and that a link to a deeply nested Host is a valuable thing to have, because without it you have to suffer Convergence based on your illegal connections to all of the nested Hosts. So, what's your explanation for why every single corporate Host isn't just nested 41 Hosts deep, guaranteeing Convergence before you can hack the last one? It'd be a lot cheaper than hiring a spider and running IC, not that money matters to the big corps anyway. Um.

And that's the Matrix. Yea, the whole thing gave me a serious headache paging back and forth to work out the missing bits. Obviously, there's nothing more we have to say about the Matrix at this point. Hey, what's that in the corner of the scrn? My kbd is scrw p a ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Oh, god. Alright. Next time, how the Internet is actually maaaaaaagic. And no, it's nowhere near as cool as actual fairies in the Internet.

hyphz fucked around with this message at 17:33 on Oct 13, 2019

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.

Poil posted:

Hang on, they only get that edge in the first round? If you are in a dark room shooting back and forth over ten rounds low light vision is only worth one edge in total?

Who knows? It doesn't say anything about how often it occurs, but "repeatedly looking at an opponent because your vision is better than them" was explicitly stated as an example of what not to allow regarding Edge, so..

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer

I was going to ask, 'whatever the gently caress happened to having a deck, having an interface plug, and not needing all of this other verisimilitudinous gear wank', but then I kept reading and realised that I just don't give a poo poo. What a joke.

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.

Bieeanshee posted:

I was going to ask, 'whatever the gently caress happened to having a deck, having an interface plug, and not needing all of this other verisimilitudinous gear wank', but then I kept reading and realised that I just don't give a poo poo. What a joke.

Some of the sample characters suggest that's still allowed, but again, there's no statements at all about what interface a Commlink has if you don't plug any funky stuff into it. I have no idea why you would need cybereyes and trodes, for example, because surely a direct neural interface can override your visual cortexes as well, but..

Jul 8, 2003

hyphz posted:

(nobody ever asks why every single PC is Warframe is a skilled hacker).
Probably they same reason they're masters of literally any weapon they can get their hands on.

Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Robindaybird posted:

To be fair, from what can be gathered, Egyptian women did in fact go topless in certain periods, but the illustrations are definitely more for 'artist is horny' than 'historical accuracy' reasons.

Yeah, if he'd drawn them completely topless that might actually have been better. Instead, they're fully dressed, but in costumes with gaps for their exposed breasts and apparently specifically designed to draw as much attention to those breasts as possible.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011


Or perhaps you could have gone for the "Minoan Snake Priestess" set up.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


Grimey Drawer

Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Space Combat: You get a gun! And you get a gun! Everybody gets a gun!

Almost every spacefaring game has to deal with the question of space combat, and frankly, it’s one they’ve all struggled with. The big question when you have all your characters in a ship and another ship starts firing is always, “What does everybody do?”, and the answer is usually, “Well, okay the pilot flies the ship, someone else is the gunner, then someone else fixes the engine, maybe the other person… runs the shields?” It’s never really that satisfying, because, well, who wants to be stuck with shield duty?

I think Buck Rogers XXVc gets closest to a good answer, one elegant in its simplicity. But before that, the game wants to talk about the basics, weapons and sensors. Well, it says weapons and sensors but then only talks about weapons so I assume something was cut somewhere. Anyway, weapons!

Lasers come in two varieties, Pulse and Beam. Pulse lasers work the same as the handheld variety, while beam lasers fire a steady, well, beam- in game terms they have better aim and a hit bonus because it’s easy to sweep across where a target is, but they do less damage since the energy isn’t as concentrated.

Gyrocannons fire small explosive shells, with shorter range and less oomph than missiles but a much larger ammo capacity and higher accuracy.

Missiles are given a lot of description- basically they’re smarter than modern ICBMs, which could easily be targeted by a rocketship’s defenses, and they can do weird things like throwing out magnetic fields or throwing out micro pellets to shred hulls. But in practical terms there are regular missiles, heavy missiles, and K-Cannons. They don’t have a lot of shots and aren’t very accurate, but do a poo poo ton of damage- especially the K-Cannon, which is a giant ballista. (The K is for Kinetic.)

Acceleration Guns are short range mass drivers, which throw flak at the enemy. They do a bit more damage than lasers to compensate for their short range and low accuracy.

All ship combat takes place on a hexmap, included in the box set. One hex is equal to 50 miles. The referee takes the appropriate counters (also in the box) and places them according to the situation. Each round you roll for initiative, and the way rounds work is kinda weird- ships use speed points- calculated from your ship’s speed rating- to perform maneuvers, and the next round begins with your speed diminished by how many points you spent, until everyone’s speed points are used up or every manned weapon has been fired at least once, at which point speed presumably resets. It’s a bit odd but I think I get what they’re going for? Basically gives faster ships more opportunities to act and react. The highest printed speed for a ship is 7 (the Krait, a RAM fighter) so it shouldn’t take too long to cycle.

In combat there are two major actions, maneuvers and combat. Maneuvers include movement (1 speed point per hex), turning (1 point per hex side), and special maneuvers- stunts which require the pilot to make a skill check. The example given is a pilot pulling off an inside loop to come around on an enemy’s tail, but here’s the thing- there are no actual rules for such maneuvers giving you a numerical advantage. Weapons don’t have firing arcs, there aren’t rules for flanking, etc. I get the feeling something was left out here.

As for firing, well, here we get to the solution I was talking about. Each of a spaceship’s guns needs to be manned at the start of a round in order to fire during that round. The game recommends that you have a Rocketjock flying the ship, an Engineer running between decks repairing things, maybe put the Medic on standby, and everyone else just gets to a gun. The freighters and light cruisers detailed in the game usually have 3 weapons available, so a 4 or 5 person party has enough weapons to go around. It’s just that simple, let more people shoot. I can’t believe more sci-fi games don’t just build their ships so that multiple people can attack in a round. In a pinch, if you’ve still got people with nothing to do, they can assist- assisting a gunner gives them a +1 to hit, and assisting someone making a Skill Check (for repairing, medic-ing, etc.) gives them a +10 bonus to their skill. You can move to an adjacent deck and still perform an action during a round, but moving two decks takes the whole turn. (The game’s ship plan maps show various decks and you’re meant to work out ahead of time how they’re arranged on top of each other.)

Each weapon has a max range in hexes, all within 6. Despite their max range, they’re all affected by distance: 1-2 hexes is short range with no penalty, 3-4 is medium range with a -2 penalty to hit, and 5-6 is long range, -5. Where ground weapons do variable damage, ship weapons always do a set amount, in multiples of 10- a Light Acceleration Gun does 20, a Missile does 40, etc.

Attacking is done just like on the ground, using the shooter’s THAC0 and the defending ship’s AC and AC Defense Bonus. Like I said this makes small ships very hard to hit (the Krait has a printed AC of 6 but an effective AC of 1, AND it’s described as having stealth capabilities that take it all the way to -5 as long as it’s moving!) If you hit, you roll a d12 to determine your hit location- Sensors/Commo, Controls, Life Support, Fuel, Engine, Weapon, Hull. All of these systems were given HP in ship construction, and the game supplies still more counters to track that damage. For weapons, you determine which weapon got hit at random and that weapon is destroyed. Other systems give various effects if they’re destroyed (or in some cases take half their HP)- a ship without Controls can’t maneuver, a ship with no Life Support means everyone has to put on a suit, Fuel means you go adrift, etc. Losing all your Hull means your ship falls apart and if you’re not wearing protection you die immediately. Also, any character in a section that takes damage must make a saving throw vs. Explosion or take 1d10 damage. If they’re reduced to 3 HP (or half their HP total, whichever’s lower), they can’t help to run the ship until they’ve been healed.

You can make called shots to target specific systems, with penalties ranging from -1 (Hull), to -6 (Sensors, Controls, a specific weapon.) You can ram ships if you’re on the same hex- the defending pilot can make a Pilot Rocket check to avoid damage. A collision between ships, intentional or unintentional, has each ship deal damage equal to its tonnage to the other’s hull. So the bigger ship always wins, whoever caused the collision. (One way to deal with those drat Kraits I suppose.) Finally, a ship that crashes suffers 10 HP of Hull damage for each 1,000 feet fallen, and everyone on board takes maximum damage from the fall (as explained way back in the saving throw section.)

And that’s it. So yeah, a few flaws, I’m convinced ship maneuvers were supposed to do something but it was getting to be too much rules (the other problem with ship combat in RPGs, how much additional complexity do you want to introduce?), but I do like the bones of this. Does better than most at giving people poo poo to do, attacking systems matters, and because close range is so advantageous you get a kind of age of sail feel with ships pulling up alongside.

Almost done with the rules book! Next, Digital Personalities and Scientists!

golden bubble
Jun 3, 2011


At this point I'm ok with Nier Automania hacking, where cyberspace is a big shootemup minigame.

Dec 24, 2007

golden bubble posted:

At this point I'm ok with Nier Automania hacking, where cyberspace is a big shootemup minigame.

Can't really do that in tabletop very well though.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

Midjack posted:

Can't really do that in tabletop very well though.

idk that's how TORG handled hacking the GodNet.

Dec 24, 2007

Young Freud posted:

idk that's how TORG handled hacking the GodNet.

That’s not how I remember it working.

Dec 22, 2003

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

Midjack posted:

Can't really do that in tabletop very well though.
Use your regular combat engine. Possibly with identity disks and recognizers.

Nov 19, 2010

Maxwell Lord posted:

(Rockets and rocket ship combat)

One weird thing that's never mentioned in the rules is that the rules text implies some weapons take more than one round to reload. None of the ship weapons have a "Rounds to Reload" value in the weapon chart. (Which is fine by me.) I've never really found a reason to buy gyrocannons over beam lasers, though. Beam lasers are cheaper to buy, have the same accuracy and damage, longer range than gyrocannons, and don't need reloading.

Also, I should mention that, if you're being feeling up to it as a ship gunner, you can fire a ship weapon at a human on the ground. They take ten times the weapon's listed damage, so if you're a warrior who lucked out with rolling Constitution and Hit Dice, you might be able to survive getting shot with a beam laser. Once. (The K-cannon does 1000 damage to a humanoid, but that's what happens when you get shot with a rail gun that fires projectiles the size of a city bus.)

Moonlit Knight
Nov 26, 2018

The Lone Badger posted:

If people want to know what the author is like, they commented on a review on RPGnet

And promptly got themselves permabanned, no less.

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.

7: Nowhere near as cool as fairies in the Internet

Ok. I'm not sure how to tackle this particular mountain of insanity, so let's go step by step.

First of all, there was the regular Internet that we use today. In 2029, it was attacked by something called the Crash Virus, which spread across the Internet and destroyed "software and hardware alike" before being halted by an elite US internet security squad called Echo Mirage, who were the first to use direct neural links in order to be able to fight the virus fast enough (and to get their brains fried by it). However, apparently "the damage had been done".

This resulted in the Matrix, "an advanced network" designed to work with those same direct neural links. But, hang on, weren't those links designed for the original Internet? How does the Matrix differ? More importantly, what prevented the virus reappearing on the Matrix, and who wrote it? We do not find any of these.

So. Renraku corporation were "pushing the envelope on advanced semi-autonomous programs" when they "stumbled into creating the first artificial intelligence". AI as a noun has a horribly messed up definition, but we'll assume that what they mean here is the first strong AI. Of course, creating one of those - and in doing so resolving a bunch of serious philosophical paradoxes regarding the nature of intelligence and its observation - by mistake would be ludicrous, but no matter. As a result of trying to work out how this AI worked, another one was created which was hostile, and which crashed the entire Matrix again in 2064.

So. The current state of play in Shadowrunland is the Matrix 2.0 which appears to be the same as the Matrix 1.0 except it's wireless. How does this stop it being attacked by AIs again? Move along, citizen. What actually stops it being attacked by AIs is the Grid Overwatch Division we mentioned last time, but why did they need to rebuild the network wirelessly? Huh.

So, around 2050 it was discovered that there were some people - first called otaku, then Technomancers - who could access the Matrix without needing any gear at all; they could simply process information on the Matrix with their own brains, and when the network went wireless that became even more powerful.

Ok. I can totally buy a machine empathy type of deal where someone can interact with computers with their brains, that's cool. But these guys and gals don't just do that, they actually become fully functional Matrix nodes, presumably meaning that their brains are running servers and networking protocols that weren't designed around that. They can actually run software, too. Seriously, they can just download a program and run it in their head, and they can do that even if they can't program. How is this explained? It isn't. It's all just "unknown mysteries".

(Oh, and running software in your head and making your very brain a part of a network made for machines in which you are natively interacting with them. How much Essence does it cost? Um, none. Why are you asking? What?)

Oh, and yes, there is that thing about the second Matrix having been built from one hundred dead Technomancers being used as the backbone. See, that could have been genuinely interesting if they'd mentioned that all the devices were secretly rebuilt to use the protocols of Technomancer brains rather than the brains adapting to the protocols, and how the protection against viruses and maybe AIs and maybe even GOD itself comes from the fact that the Matrix itself is technically sentient but afraid for its own safety, and.. but there's none of that. What there is is a lot of ridiculous handwaving about something called "the Resonance" which supposedly is, well, something to do with the Matrix and support for it, but we don't know what.

Still, the point of Technomancers appear to be the White Wolf style edgy outsiders of the setting. Everyone is suspicious of them, they're suspicious of everyone, they constantly try to hide their identity as Technomancers, and most of them even still carry commlinks so that nobody suspects them (and obviously not because without the Living Network upgrade, a Technomancer can't run their own PAN off the brain, and thus they still need a Commlink for pretty much any device functionality)

If you want to be a Technomancer, you need to take a Resonance grade in your priority picks (by which we mean you need to take Resonance at grade D because of the rule that taking it any higher results in having less total points at no benefit). Once you have a Resonance rank, you get a living persona which lets you connect yourself to the Matrix as if you were a device. Your Attack, Sleaze, Data Processing and Firewall ratings are equal to your Charisma, Intuition, Logic and Willpower respectively, and you have a pool of bonus points equal to your Resonance with which to increase them, which you can reassign any time. Also:

So, we are told that Technomancers don't have a Matrix Condition Monitor and they use their Stun Condition Monitor instead, but then we are told how to calculate the size of their Matrix Condition Monitor. I mean, even goddamn Synnibarr was better edited than this.

So, let's work this through. If we give up 20 attribute points (out of the max 24 we can have if we pick attributes as priority A) to have 5 in all of the four attributes we depend on as a Technomancer, then buy up our resonance to 6 with 5 adjustment points (at least adjustment rank C), and use priority D on Resonance to be a Technomancer at all, then we will have Matrix attributes of 7/7/6/6 after applying our Resonance bonus points. To get those mundanely, we would need a Grade 4 Cyberjack (Data 7 Firewall 6) and a Renraku Kitsune Cyberdeck (Attack 7 Sleaze 6) which would set us back 202000 nuyen, in reach if we picked Wealth as priority A or B. In fact, if we are devoting ourselves to decking then Wealth B gives us enough nuyen to buy a Shiawase Cyber-6 instead and have stats of 7/6/8/7. So being a Technomancer is a pretty expensive way of just getting to be a hacker.

So, what do we do now? You can still take regular Matrix actions, so if you want to hack someone, you basically do the same as you would when using devices, but use the calculated stats instead. You can go to AR, VR, or hot-VR whenever you like, and don't need any equipment to do so. But you also get Complex Forms! Complex Forms are the Technomancer version of programs, and you get 2 for each point of Resonance you start with. And the mental wear-and-tear of fading is resisted with Willpower+Logic.

Yes, that sentence comes completely out of the blue in the book, too. Each Complex Form has a "fade value" and we don't know what it is. What the book is counting on is that you'll have read the Magic section too and you'll know that casting spells triggers a thing called Drain, and that you'll be able to guess that Fading is just the Technomancer name for Drain, even though that's never explicitly stated. When you use a Complex Form, it hits you for damage that you must resist with Willpower+Logic; if the unresisted damage beats your resonance, it's real HP damage, otherwise it's stun HP. Also, every complex form you have running at a time gives you -2 dice to all actions. Yes, these are copy/pasted from the rules for magic spells, except that magic spells throw fireballs, turn you invisible or read people's minds, while Complex Forms, well, do Matrix stuff.

  • Cleaner drops your Overwatch score by 1 point per hit on Electronics+Resonance. Hey, if you're not using any electronics, why do you need Electronics skill? Move on, citizen.
  • Diffusion drains one of your target's Matrix stats by one point for each net hit on an opposed test, which would be incredible if it wasn't for the fact it's a sustained effect, which means it drains all of your Matrix stats by two points just by continuing to be in effect.
  • Editor lets you edit a file! By maaaagic! And with 3 Fading points!
  • Emulate lets you run a program from the ones available to regular deckers.. but you have to sustain it for another -2 to all dice pools. This literally makes many of the programs pointless because they give +1 or +2 bonuses.
  • Infusion is the opposite of Diffusion, it boosts a target's Matrix stats, but again has the substantial sustain cost.
  • Mirrored Persona creates a mirror image if you in the matrix which takes hits for you if your opponents don't succeed at a matrix Perception test. Amazingly, it doesn't need to be sustained.
  • Pulse Storm causes interference which gives -1 per net hit to the target's Matrix actions, although we don't get to find out how long for and there are Edge actions for acting without interference. Nevertheless, with no sustain cost and affecting every action, this is looking pretty much better than Diffusion.
  • Puppeteer lets you control a device by magic, has to be sustained, still doesn't say what it does, and does 5 Fading. What the heck.
  • Resonance Channel lowers your own interference level if it's been applied to you by someone else, but like everything else it has the sustaining penalty, so it's pointless if you get less than 2.
  • Resonance Spike is the Technomancer matrix attack move; it does 1 point of Matrix damage for every success on an opposed test, which unlike regular damage can't be resisted.
  • Resonance Veil lets you spoof some activity on the Matrix with an opposed roll for the target to realize it's fake.
  • Static Bomb isn't actually a damaging move; it lets you make a test against anyone who can detect you, and if you succeed, they lose you. But it's 6 fading. Owie!
  • Static Veil is.. weird. You make an opposed test against a target. While you sustain it, "the target will not accumulate Overwatch score from maintaining illegal access to a host on a Sprite". So.. why would there be an opposed roll, if this helps the target? That said, while sprites are a thing, there's no such thing as a "host on a Sprite" so meh.
  • Stitches heals Sprites. We'll meet them in a moment.
  • Tattletale inflicts Overwatch points on the target.

(Oh, hey, I just notice there's a Fork program with the text "Hit two targets with a single Matrix action without splitting dice pools." There is nothing anywhere else in the chapter about being able to split dice pools to hack multiple targets.)

So, rather oddly it seems that the best role for a technomancer is to buff the regular decker with Infusion and Static Veil and then not to do anything else because they're sitting on a -4 dice penalty.

Another thing a Technomancer might want to do is to go through Submersion which is "a spiritual experience" involving "learning the deep and dark secrets of the Matrix". Yep, we've jumped the shark completely at this point and stopped even pretending that this is supposed to resemble a technological system. Submersion adds 1 point to your maximum Resonance (but not your actual Resonance score), and gives you a passive power called an Echo which has no reason whatsoever to be called that, but hey. And these are even dafter:

  • Living Network lets you host your own PAN in your brain. At this point, there's very little advantage to doing that, but there you go.
  • Machine Mind "gives you the benefits of a Rating 1 Control Rig". Translation, you get +1 on all vehicle skill tests and a bonus point of Edge whenever you're controlling a drone. It's spending an echo for a 30,000 nuyen gadget and I have no idea why you'd do this because with that level of attribute dependency you are not getting away with being a technomancer and a rigger at the same time.
  • Matrix Attribute Upgrade gives you an extra 1 point to one of your Matrix Attributes. Probably the best choice.
  • NeuroFilter gives you a +1 bonus to resist biofeedback damage inflicted by ICE.
  • Overclocking gives you an extra initiative dice while in hot-sim VR. Aha! This is the only way to get two Major actions on the Matrix.
  • Resonance Link gives you an empathic link with another technomancer. You'd need to be in some pretty odd circumstances in an RPG to pick this.
  • Skinlink lets you connect to a device neurally just by touching it. Because an echo is worth spending to avoid having to plug it in.

Finally, there's Sprites. These go ahead with the general theme of copy-pasting the Magic rules into the Matrix chapter. One of the things that magic users can do is to summon spirits and give them instructions, and technomancers can do the same, except instead of being called spirits they're called sprites and we have no idea how the flying gently caress it makes sense that the "resonance of the matrix" can manifest a free-willed living being, that isn't an AI, and that can understand you. Instead of being summoned, Sprites are "compiled" (a term which makes no sense whatsoever in the context other than that somebody realized it was something to do with creating computer software); instead of being banished, they're "decompiled". Oh, and creating sprites is the one and only use of the Tasking skill which is specific to Technomancers, thus creating yet another dependency to spend points on.

If you want to summon, uh, compile, a sprite, you choose what kind of sprite you want and how powerful you want it to be, then make an opposed test against the power level you chose. You then suffer fading equal to the number of hits rolled on the opposed check, and assuming you're still OK, you now have a sprite who will do a number of things for you equal to the net hits you got. (Yes, this can be 0, so you can successfully compile a sprite who just immediately buggers off.) The sprite will only be able to function for 2 hours per power level you chose, unless you Register it, which is the one thing you can do with sprites that you don't have to do with spirits - it takes several hours work, and makes the sprite be recognised as a legitimate program on the Matrix, so it doesn't time out anymore, you can have several at once, plus you can tell it to help other people, tell it to sod off and then come back when you need it, or have it sustain your complex forms for you (which is going to be pretty essential).

So, There's five types of sprite: Courier, Crack, Data, Fault, and Machine; their power is set by their Level, which is your choice from 1-6; and their type determines the level-based formulae used to calculate their Matrix stats, and also what skills and powers they have. (Well, it says it determines their skills, but the sections only give lists of the skills, not their actual values.) Hey, we've already got 2 lists in this post, let's go for the hat-track with the list of powers:

  • Cookie: lets the sprite tag someone with a marker that monitors their behaviour on the Matrix for a while without their knowledge, then tells that to the sprite (who hopefully then tells you)
  • Diagnostics: lets the sprite give you a dice bonus to using or repairing a device.
  • Electron Storm is the sprite attack power, which causes Matrix damage and interference levels.
  • Hash lets a sprite encrypt a file with magic unbreakable encryption that only the sprite can break.. but only for up to 3 minutes. What on earth?
  • Override lets the sprite rig devices.
  • Phantom lets the sprite super-magically hide stuff in the Matrix, such that they can only be found with a specifically targeted Matrix Perception test that is opposed by the sprite.
  • Stability prevents glitch rolls from causing errors on a persona or device. It also protects them against glitches "induced by the Gremlins or Accident powers". Gremlins isn't a power, it's a player character bad-luck style Flaw. Accident is a creature power, but it's not used in the matrix.
  • Suppression confuses a host to prevent an IC from being activated for a few combat rounds.
  • Trap lets the sprite make an opposed roll to totally deny the target the ability to act as long as they sustain the power.
  • Watermark lets the sprite hide messages in the Matrix that only sprites and Technomancers can see.

So that's a thing. Our technomancer can potentially try to just summon up a 6/9/8/7 sprite with Cracking 6, although we don't get to find out what its Logic or Willpower levels are (the text on Matrix actions doesn't say anything about what sprites replace their mental attributes with, although bizarrely it does say what drones use. Yea, because a drone can hack. Um). Sprites aren't as problematic as spirits because the Matrix is less problematic than magic, but still, it does send the whole idea of the Matrix being a sensible thing not just jumping over the shark but over the entire school of fish.

Next up: vehicles and rigging! Then we'll do Magic, and then I can finally try to regain my sanity.

hyphz fucked around with this message at 23:02 on Oct 13, 2019

Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado

So Technomancers basically have Link Sense from the most recent (sixth) season of Yugioh, and just like the most recent season of Yugioh it's underexplained and underexplored. Yugioh VRAINS even has magic computer program spirits. Also appropriately Yugioh VRAINS sucked.

Jun 20, 2013

I'm writing a cyberpunky game based around player groups being hacker crews at the moment, and the greatest endorsment of my work so far is seeing zero overlap between what I've written and Shadowrun 6e.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

Is Shadowrun still a hot enough property for someone else to pick it up?

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!

Probably not right now no.
Unless you're German I suppose. The German writers for SR5 put out more solid material than what CGL did in general. To the point they even fixed editing issues in the core book, unless I'm misremembering.
I honestly have no idea how they'll handle SR6 though.

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

New Horizon Part 5: Supplemental supplemental

As of writing this update, there are 16 separate free/PWYW titles associated with New Horizon. I'm going to lump them together as best I can.

Additionally, all of the "add stuff" supplements contain three items. That makes discussion of the individual supplements difficult but, given they're all free/PWYW, there shouldn't be too many complaints.


Four supplements add a selection of regional dishes. All of them are priced somewhat exorbitantly given we gained 50 Currency Units when we risked life and limb to gather harpy talons/pinions and skeleton right feet.

Food has a name (like chimeric sirloin, direwolf beef, and lomo saltado), a price, an effect (END +1, +50% more elemental spell damage, heal 1d4 per turn), and a duration.

The Ezo-Latin supplement in this category is one of the few that contains :nws:an image:nws:. That image was modified for use in marketing material to have a throbbing buttock. Real classy.


Three are regional "landscapes". The politest description I can give is "Wurm Online screenshot run through an mspaint filter". It's unclear to me how to use these.

... Player Options?

Six could generously be described as containing play options.

We've got a few mystic runes. If I had to pick a favorite, wreathing your physical attacks with fire could be neat.

One supplement contains "forbidden spells". They all summon various creatures to fight by your side for three turns.

If you're a particularly rude and/or crude individual, Nasty Habits would be invaluable. You could read a quote about flatulence that probably makes more sense in Brazilian Portuguese, learn that making GBS threads where you sleep probably gives you fireskin, and discover that stealing "liquid gold" from a lactating woman boosts all of your stats. You can only do this once ever. And then a pithy and inappropriate "Got milk?"

There's an NPC creator. Roll 1d6 per column - name, gender, personality, body, country, and race. This is where we discovered Sha'Quita.

The final two are labeled "Trending Personalities". I feel like the first is meant to represent the game's author and the second is meant to be representative of reviewers of his game. I hope people don't think I'm overstepping by declaring these "completely worthless" - they each consist of three words with definitions that are so incorrect it's not funny.

So the author.


A natural leader, has the solution for most problems right away.

Above everyone else, a narcissist loves to play god, some even believe to be gods themselves.

Conquistadors are natural seducers. They love to brag about past spoils, and impress the opposite sex.

And everyone who has reviewed the game online thus far.


They love to dramatically complain and make a big deal of small things.

Harlots are flirtatious and inviting. They opt for less conventional ways of seduction to get what they want.

Machos behave like hotheaded, indomitable beasts. They will only listen to their mamma.


Finally, there are three quests. I'm not going to duplicate any of the maps here. They're free. Go look them up if you dare.

The Labyrinth of BiYatt

We've begun with the number inflation. You've been asked to go kill a snake demon with stats higher than an entire party of people who can very likely one-shot people with a 5d20 attack. You get 600 Currency Units.

The Cult of Chuchuluh

You're tasked with killing a false deity. The image is of a drooling face and the stats are so low the target shouldn't be a challenge to a party. Another not-so-subtle reference?

The Narcissist & The Peasant

Felix, the narcissistic creator of Ezora, has descended and wants to make the world whole. Will you kill him or join him?

Felix the Demi God Type-F has 999 HP, no weaknesses, and all skills and spells. Should you kill him, you get 9999 Currency Units.

Subtlety is for harlots, I guess.


There we have it. All 16 supplements. I'm sure more will be added this week - Narcissist came out on Oct 11 and the three landscapes came out today, Oct 13.

My take on the thought of a competent game designer regularly releasing little additions for free? loving awesome.

My take on finally sitting down and reading through all of these? I have regrets. I could have spent this time reading anything else given this game has a roughly 0% chance of reaching a table I'm at unless we decide to do some weird MST3K-RPG thing. I hope you enjoyed it, at least. I will not be covering the inevitable supplements that will keep coming out.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Robindaybird posted:

To be fair, from what can be gathered, Egyptian women did in fact go topless in certain periods, but the illustrations are definitely more for 'artist is horny' than 'historical accuracy' reasons. My own theory on Set is the Set-Beast is a species that had gone extinct over time.
Glorantha and Tekumel appear to be the only settings that can pull this off without intolerable levels of Horny.

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

I've pretty much settled on running SR 3e as the only version. and the 3e Wired Reflexes are fine as long as you actually use the 3e, not 2e, rules.
I didn't get to play as much 4e as I hoped. What were the problems with it? I knew that the Matrix stuff was confusing but I didn't play it enough to get a handle on how it broke down in actual experience.

I miss Pools from 3e, but let's face it, none of that stuff was well balanced.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

I remember that Direct combat spells (manaball etc) were hugely OP in 4E. And Quickened spells. And Possession traditions. And... magic in general.


By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007



New Horizons: at parts indistinguishable from some early internet awful netbook, and those are the good parts.

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