Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
IshmaelZarkov
Jun 20, 2013



jakodee posted:

Prevent this choice by never introducing your friends to role playing with D&D. This means they will HAVE to learn a second system to play D&D and thus not be afraid of new games.

If I could go back in time and change things, by god I would.

It'll be rules-lite cyberpunk games from here to the end of the world. People would ask, "Hey, we could play a game based on those Lord of the Rings books! With elves, and orcs, and eugenically sound alignment systems meaning murder is almost always the morally superior choice!" and those people would be hunted for sport.

My alternate timeline is cruel, but fair.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Burning Wheel uses similar systems for In-depth Social Stuff (Duel of Wits) and In-depth Sword Time (Fight!) as well as one roll and opposed roll versions of both. When played properly doing the argument as the character would and being relatively strict about what Persuasion can do versus saying that no, the argument you just worded was definitely Rhetoric so people don't just do Point Point Point with Persuasion every volley (which is easily countered) it really shines. The character with the better skills will usually win, but it's extremely rare to get a full blowout so that one side gets absolutely nothing from the exchange.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The main distinction between combat and out of combat in Spire is that you have to roll for everything happening in combat generally, and Spire works on Blood Bowl rules where every single time you put dice on the table you might two GFI then you fall down and die that's Blood Bowl roll a lot of 5s and get ruined.

Having to roll for most things in an action scene is insanely dangerous compared to other stuff.

jakodee
Mar 4, 2019


EthanSteele posted:

Burning Wheel uses similar systems for In-depth Social Stuff (Duel of Wits) and In-depth Sword Time (Fight!) as well as one roll and opposed roll versions of both. When played properly doing the argument as the character would and being relatively strict about what Persuasion can do versus saying that no, the argument you just worded was definitely Rhetoric so people don't just do Point Point Point with Persuasion every volley (which is easily countered) it really shines. The character with the better skills will usually win, but it's extremely rare to get a full blowout so that one side gets absolutely nothing from the exchange.

The fact that Burning Wheel managed to find a system for both sword fights and debates that feel like sword fights and debates specifically is really rad.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

SunAndSpring posted:

Some day I hope I post something of interest here but then again the last time that happened, I had like 6 people including one of the lead developers saying not to do it for some dumb reason.

Like I dunno it just sucks to make poo poo that gets no engagement because I can’t make it seem exciting (but who really can with this poo poo), so if I want to find something interesting, I’ve got to pray some goon has never touched it here and that it’s something goons know.

Buddy, you're doing fine. Keep on posting

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








Is there anything mentioned in that Dragonlance box set about the origin of gully dwarves, kender, etc.? I recall someone in the very abortive Let's Read thread saying that gully dwarves were a sideways miscegenation reference, which if true is quite :stonk:

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

NGDBSS posted:

Is there anything mentioned in that Dragonlance box set about the origin of gully dwarves, kender, etc.? I recall someone in the very abortive Let's Read thread saying that gully dwarves were a sideways miscegenation reference, which if true is quite :stonk:

That's already mentioned in PurpleXVI's review:

PurpleXVI posted:

And for your weird daily kick of racial purity bullshit, gully dwarves are the result of humans and dwarves loving and producing fertile hybrids. Because of course, something's gotta be wrong with that.

a computing pun
Jan 1, 2013


wiegieman posted:

Well, it treats a social conflict the same way it treats any other conflict. You can cause Social stress or consequences by having your stealth person sneak into the bad guy's mansion and steal his secret plans to destroy the community center so you can distribute them to various news outlets, and you can tag him with negative aspects by using your own social skills to show him up at that same party in front of the movers and shakers. He can fire back at you by using his own social abilities (probably augmented by stunts representing large amounts of money and lawyers) to mess with your life and get you foreclosed on or something.

Yeah, I know; I much prefer the way Fate handles it. I'm just saying that that particular way doesn't have much *mechanical* depth. In terms of mechanics, a social conflict goes basically like a physical conflict in that you make a few Create an Aspect actions to build yourself some aspects with free invokes and then burn those off to hit with a couple of hard Attack actions to force the other guy to give or be taken out and there's not much more to it. Which is fine! Fate's not a tactics game, the interesting stuff is mostly in the fiction, not the mechanics.

i'm just saying, it's able to do social conflict well because it does it without actually mechanicising any simulation of what one does to win a debate or run a newspaper smear campaign or whatever; it leaves its mechanics very abstract. While, like, say, Shadowrun, with an equally simple core mechanic of "make an opposed die roll based on skill, compare results" has a few hundred pages of rules on suppressing fire and recoil compensation and flanking and damage from explosions in confined spaces vs. open spaces, and it does all this in service of trying to make the mechanics non-abstractly simulate sci-fi gunfights. (Which it partially succeeds at, at the cost of being a billion pages long and incredibly fiddly)

and to my knowledge literally every game that has ever tried to provide simulationist mechanical backing that's specific to social conflict has either made something that feels nothing like actual social conflict does (i.,e, fails at simulation) and is also lovely to play.

jakodee
Mar 4, 2019


a computing pun posted:

and to my knowledge literally every game that has ever tried to provide simulationist mechanical backing that's specific to social conflict has either made something that feels nothing like actual social conflict does (i.,e, fails at simulation) and is also lovely to play.

As mentioned, I think Burning Wheel does this.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


NGDBSS posted:

Is there anything mentioned in that Dragonlance box set about the origin of gully dwarves, kender, etc.? I recall someone in the very abortive Let's Read thread saying that gully dwarves were a sideways miscegenation reference, which if true is quite :stonk:

So, the ORIGINAL RACES were Humans, Elves, Dwarves and (Irda) Ogres.

Ogre Ogres happened because the Irda fell from grace and became too evil to be smart.

Gully dwarves happened because humans and dwarves hosed, producing stable and fertile hybrids.

Kender, Gnomes, Goblins and Minotaurs happened because the magic rock(the Graystone) that had the magic gods' essence trapped in it, the one the dwarves somehow finagled off the moon, wandered by and polymorphed a bunch of people into new races.

Variant elves like the sea elves just seemed to happen because they happened.

jakodee posted:

The 4th answer, an unspeakable heresy of immense power:

Play a better game.

Good luck finding a game that allows for physical violence, doesn't use some variation on Hit Points and isn't unplayable dogshit.

I also know it's hip and cool to hate on D&D, but I legitimately enjoy 2nd edition AD&D and still run campaigns on it.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

So, the ORIGINAL RACES were Humans, Elves, Dwarves and (Irda) Ogres.

Ogre Ogres happened because the Irda fell from grace and became too evil to be smart.

Gully dwarves happened because humans and dwarves hosed, producing stable and fertile hybrids.

Kender, Gnomes, Goblins and Minotaurs happened because the magic rock(the Graystone) that had the magic gods' essence trapped in it, the one the dwarves somehow finagled off the moon, wandered by and polymorphed a bunch of people into new races.

Variant elves like the sea elves just seemed to happen because they happened.


Good luck finding a game that allows for physical violence, doesn't use some variation on Hit Points and isn't unplayable dogshit.

I also know it's hip and cool to hate on D&D, but I legitimately enjoy 2nd edition AD&D and still run campaigns on it.

Definite me too on that one. I could never get into 3.5 for fear that my character might die from a hernia if I forgot to get the "Take a poo poo" feat.

I do remember several years back playing through the "In Search of Dragons" trilogy. Nobody wanted to play a Kender, so the GM let me bring in a multi-classed psionicist/thief with the Investigator thief kit who was a "Tallboy" halfling that most Krynn would initially think was a Kender. His backstory was that he was a Guardsman from Greyhawk, specialized in Telepathy, Lawful Neutral, cold, ruthless and kind of rude. He was a blast to play because he'd match the suspicious/insulting good dragons sneer for sneer and say things like "Please find some other thoughtlessly ignorant way to embarrass your species aside from impugning my honor."

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


jakodee posted:

As mentioned, I think Burning Wheel does this.

It even does wider social conflict stuff! Duel of Wits can be used to represent a single debate or be stretched out to be a political campaign where each volley is your approach for an entire month's campaigning. You do Point with Persuasion to put up nice posters of how you're going to make everything better, next month though you do a Rebuttal using Rhetoric so make sure everyone knows your opponent is lying and to set everybody straight on the facts. It's rad.

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011


PurpleXVI posted:

Good luck finding a game that allows for physical violence, doesn't use some variation on Hit Points and isn't unplayable dogshit.

I also know it's hip and cool to hate on D&D, but I legitimately enjoy 2nd edition AD&D and still run campaigns on it.

""some variant on hit points" is such a broad statement to be inherently meaningless. There are specific mechanical and thematic issues to the way that Hit Points are presented that are not ubiquitous to games that have some means of determining when a character can't fight anymore.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Meinberg posted:

""some variant on hit points" is such a broad statement to be inherently meaningless. There are specific mechanical and thematic issues to the way that Hit Points are presented that are not ubiquitous to games that have some means of determining when a character can't fight anymore.

Okay, so if hitpoints only defines the kind of hitpoints you don't like, what separates hit points from some other numeric estimation of your character's physical health?

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




PurpleXVI posted:

Okay, so if hitpoints only defines the kind of hitpoints you don't like, what separates hit points from some other numeric estimation of your character's physical health?

Hit points are a binary metric. Either you're fine (whether that be at 100 hp or 1 hp) or you're in negatives bleeding out, which doesn't map to the idea of a desperate swordfight. Systems like 7th sea use Flesh Wounds and Dramatic Wounds to track damage, and systems like Fate use the stress tracks to track minor cuts and bruises and Consequences to track damage that matters.

Poil
Mar 17, 2007


A lot of system gives you penalties at certain intervals below 100% hit points, if that matters.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





You could dismiss any system that models the impact of receiving violence in a series of graduated steps as being "hit points," leaving you with only Dwarf Fortress, which models the body as a physical entity and does physics calculations under the hood for every bite, sword blow, and falling rock.

If you want something whose bedrock is reasonably accurate to how much damage a person could bear, GURPS I think is OK. You can interpret the random details in damage rolls as things like "wow, 4 points from that bullet, I guess he missed your vital organs" vs. "you do - drat! - 11 damage, he dies." However, this is technically also HP, it's just that it is relatively fixed.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

wiegieman posted:

Hit points are a binary metric. Either you're fine (whether that be at 100 hp or 1 hp) or you're in negatives bleeding out, which doesn't map to the idea of a desperate swordfight.

I think that's a way too narrow and D&D-centric definition.

I think what characterizes hit points is their ablative nature. You have some number of hit points, and you can have these ablated away to make bad things happen to you. This makes wounds cumulative along a single track, with one or more thresholds associated with it. It's distinct from systems without some way to make wounds cumulative towards a threshold, such as HârnMaster.

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011


There’s also the sheer numbers involved, of hp vs damage dealt, and of the way that the game contextualizes that information. Blood Stress in Spire feels very different from hit points, despite kinda being hit points, because of how the game stresses the roles of violence and how fallout can happen at pretty much any point from any stress, but also it might not. It creates a different dynamic which effects how the game feels and plays and has the effect of making squishy characters feel squishy without actually being in a ton of danger of dying right away.

Harm clocks function in a similar way, but they’re more predictable and in Apocalypse World, they’re linked to the idea of the doomsday clock, creating this thematic connection between a character’s death and the end of the world, while making both things as given possibilities within the setting and the rules. Yet, with a lot of armor, PCs can take a ton of punishment and a combat focused character can do a lot of damage, yielding a final result that feels far more cinematic than violence in Spire.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

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


wiegieman posted:

Hit points are a binary metric. Either you're fine (whether that be at 100 hp or 1 hp) or you're in negatives bleeding out, which doesn't map to the idea of a desperate swordfight. Systems like 7th sea use Flesh Wounds and Dramatic Wounds to track damage, and systems like Fate use the stress tracks to track minor cuts and bruises and Consequences to track damage that matters.

Being a binary metric is one of the best things about hit points, and one of the rare points where early D&D prioritized good gameplay over an attempt to simulate reality or fiction.

Kwathi
Nov 7, 2010


SunAndSpring posted:

Some day I hope I post something of interest here but then again the last time that happened, I had like 6 people including one of the lead developers saying not to do it for some dumb reason.

Like I dunno it just sucks to make poo poo that gets no engagement because I can’t make it seem exciting (but who really can with this poo poo), so if I want to find something interesting, I’ve got to pray some goon has never touched it here and that it’s something goons know.

I'm a complete lurker and usually don't post due to being lucky if I even have time to get caught up reading the thread, but for what it's worth, I've been interested in reading your review because I've read In The Loop, and I'm curious how Fria Ligan handles a more traditional genre. It sounded like you were about to get to the quirkier setting stuff, so I was looking forward to that. Not a lot of posts doesn't mean no one's reading, and a review triggering another 18 pages of people rehashing arguments that were old hat in this thread five years ago isn't necessarily a good thing. Write what you find interesting, probably someone else is interested too, even if they don't post.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Dragonlance



Appendices

A good bit of what's in the core book from here on is what you could charitably call appendices, so it's just gonna be this one post to go through them, a quick look back, and then by the next post we'll get started on the canon adventures. Oh boy will we ever.

The first appendix we hit is basically just a bunch of canon NPC's from the adventures statted up for use.

quote:

One of the greatest strengths of the DRAGONLANCE® saga is its cast of well-developed characters. Ansalon contains many unique heroes, each with his or her own goals and motivations, hopes and fears. In addition to well-detailed heroes, Ansalon has a huge and varied cast of allies and villains who help shape the world and its conflicts.

This is a bold loving claim. Not the part about there being a lot of NPC's, this is true, but about them being well-developed. It's worth noting that almost every NPC here is in the mid to high levels, there are scant few NPC's here you could introduce to a starting level party without the party getting annihilated in seconds(if hostile) or completely outshone(if accompanying or allied). There are four, four, NPC's below 5th level, two of them are gully dwarves, one an innkeeper and the last has a note that she's probably secretly a Silver Dragon so uhhhhh I think that kind of blows her being fourth level out of the water. This is out of 32 statted-and-described NPC's, even a generic(albeit metaplot-related) hunter is 6th goddamn level which is the point at which a fighter-class character can be expected to solo a decent number of human-equivalent enemies without eating poo poo. On the other hand 17 of them are 10th level or above. There are also at least two avatars of the gods in here(Reorx and Gilean's, respectively). Though at the point where you're giving NPC's almost 900 hit points, maybe it's just to just write "N/A" or "the PC's lose if they try to fight this guy."

A few of the NPC's are actually useful, but even the text admits that most of them are really only useful for giving out quests or for being the target of quests to kill bad guys.

The second appendix is on the gods:

quote:

Each of the 21 true gods appears in the following pages, along with the High God, who is beyond creation. All of these gods are NPCs, and their involvement on Krynn should be limited to providing adventures for PCs.

Please loving keep this in mind when we get unto the adventure modules. The gods are as follows:

Good Gods
Paladin, Generic Goodness
Mishakal, Healy Goodness
Majere, Productive Goodness
Kiri-Jolith, Chopping up Evil
Habbakuk, vaguely defined good acts
Branchala, Musical Goodness
Solinari, the good wizard moon

Evil Gods
Takhisis, Store-Brand Bad
Sargonnas, Evil Vengeance
Morgion, the flu is his fault
Chemosh, undead stuff
Zeboim, evil sea stuff
Hiddukel, lies
Nuitari, the bad wizard moon

Neutral Gods
Gilean, neutral
Sirrion, fire
Reorx, making stuff
Chislev, animals
Zivilyn, plants
Shinare, birds
Lunitari, magic moon for the sake of magic

And as I think I've mentioned before, almost none of them bear any relevance whatsoever to either the metaplot or anything that happens in the adventures. Takhisis and Paladine are relevant as they have, despite what the book tells you, a tendency to be physically present in some of the canonical adventures. Reorx's avatar is also a cast member more or less throughout an entire book, and one of Mishakal's artifacts is extremely plot vital. Outside of that, though? They and their priesthoods might as well not exist. Hell, they don't even loving have any importance in the creation myth.


generally any Dragonlance art that doesn't involve faces or expressions can look pretty cool

The third appendix is a short bestiary. Much of what's in the bestiary is stuff we have in most other settings, like centaurs and griffons, with no twists at all on them, but there are a few new creatures that are specific to Ansalon. Foremost among them would probably be the Draconians, they're the result of Takhisis corrupting the stolen eggs of the good dragons, quite literally, according to the fluff, by jamming Tanar'ri spirits into them, this causes them to explode into roughly man-sized humanoids(multiple per egg) with traits inherited from the type of metallic dragon egg they were created from. They basically don't age, they can't procreate naturally and they love to get drunk, that's about what they've got in common with each other.

Auraks are created from Gold dragon eggs and are shapeshifting special agents of the dragon armies, as well as being innate magic-users with a laundry list of spell-like abilities including casual mind control. If you manage to down one(not easy, considering that they're roughly equivalent to eighth-level Fighters with mage abilities slapped on top for funsies), they first go into a berserker rage and then, if they survive in that state for long enough, or get hurt enough, turn into a malicious ball lightning that chases people and electrocutes them until it explodes, which also happily has a chance of totalling your gear. About the only safe way to engage them is at maximum range with spells or siege equipment, and a GM springing one or more of these on the players without giving them a chance to engage with those sort of means should expect to be tarred and feathered since getting badly damaged by them is almost guaranteed.

Baaz are from Brass dragon eggs and probably the only kind you could regularly spring on your players as mook enemies. They don't have a laundry list of magic powers, they have reasonable stats and their only on-trick death is turning to stone for a while before falling apart, so there's a chance for them to temporarily trap melee fighters' weapons. This means that there's a good argument for engaging them at range or otherwise thinking about what you're doing, and enemies without stupid unavoidable "gently caress you" attacks that still make players think about how to engage them are a good addition.

Bozak are from Bronze dragons, they've got another laundry list of spell-like abilities, though not as absurd as the Auraks', and their on-death trick is that their bones explode, doing all of 1d6 damage in a small area. Suggested numbers of 2d10 at a time, and HP in the range of 4 to 32, means you could probably have a fun time if they're in a formation and you drop a few from range, potentially triggering a chain reaction of exploding Bozaks.

Kapaks are much the same, weaker stats than Bozaks, made from Copper dragons, turn into acid rather than exploding but their death-effect is otherwise mechanically the same except it also destroys all affected gear without any kind of saving throw which, depending on how the GM adjudicates what gets in contact can be a real gently caress-you, even if it's just your weapon. It doesn't even say it accounts for magic gear or the like. Still, arrives in groups of 2d10, has less health than the Bozaks. Hit 'em with a couple of longbows from maximum range and pick through them once the acid's lost its potency.

Sivaks are from Silver dragon eggs and have the second-best basic stats, outclassed only by the Auraks, but don't have an incredibly annoying list of abilities or a day-ruining death-effect. Instead they have two abilities that actually make them interesting to use in a story, firstly they can assume the shape of anyone they kill, and if you kill one, it turns into a copy of you for three days. This gives them some actual story uses beyond "2d10 show up in a random encounter, fight to the death."

At times the writing verges on almost humanizing the draconians and making them useful as something other than enemies(and, really, any even vaguely competent author should be able to see the potential there), as they seem to be quite aware(and even somewhat depressed, thus explaining why they drink so much) over being a species with an expiration date(even noting that some Baaz draconians are refusing to accept their extinction as inevitable, though for now all they're doing is trying to steal more dragon eggs, of any alignment, to try and replicate their original means of creation). Considering the means and conditions of their creation, it wouldn't be hard to think about how their "evil" might be as much nurture as nature.

After the Draconians there are dragons which are, again, D&D Generic, and then there are the goblins. Now... technically, Dragonlance goblins are the same as other D&D goblins, but their description is loving something else. I mean, I know that fantasy is kind of a classic realm of "this species is bad by nature, don't think about it, just kill them with no moral qualms." But, take, say, the D&D monstrous manual, the worst it says about goblins is that they overhunt areas they live in and kill more than what they strictly need to eat(congrats, this also describes humans). Now let's have a look at how Dragonlance describes goblins, which is basically nothing but how they're an inferior, evil species that can't even make basic tools and only has negative personality traits.

Goblins posted:

Personality
Goblins are on the whole unpleasant and brutal creatures. Although some folk have known non-Evil goblins, or even intelligent ones, these examples are clearly exceptions. Most goblin folk are honorless brutes who want only to kill, eat, sleep, and pass gas.

Born Killers: What do goblins do for a living? Kill! Kill! And kill again! All goblins are vicious fighters with no sense of honor or justice, and they have no compunction about using anything as a weapon, no matter how dangerous it may prove to be. They revel in glory, reject fear and cowardice in battle, and have very good reasons for giving ground when they themselves retreat.

Snivelling: Although fierce in battle, among themselves goblinkin can be world-class grovelers, bootlickers, and whiners, able to flatter shamelessly and deflect blame almost as an unconscious reaction. Superiors expect this treatment and bully their inferiors, and they in turn appease their masters in the same way. Much of this snivelling is simply a cover for the backstabbing, double-crossing, and treachery each goblin holds in his heart.

Shortsightedness: As a group, the goblin races rarely look beyond their next meal, battle, or plunder. This makes them excellent troops for Evil leaders who need a quick army. Fortunately, this character flaw also limits goblins’ ability to carry out extended campaigns against civilized lands. Goblins aggressively take what they want but have little patience for longterm sieges and marches.

Mighteousness: The goblin races believe in force. Consequently, their leaders are the strongest and fiercest members among them. Merging separate tribes into an army is nearly impossible because goblins from other tribes may as well be elves.

Honorlessness: Goblins have no shame and will lie, cheat, or steal to get what they want. No contract with a goblin is binding unless one is in a position to enforce it. This doesn’t mean that goblins never cooperate or that they steal constantly. They cooperate if they must or if it serves their own interests, and they steal only when they think they can get away with it.

It just seems a bit much! Even by D&D standards! There are literally less words devoted to how evil Takhisis, the goddess of outright evil, is than there are words devoted to what an inferior and terrible species goblins are.

After that, there's-



Yep, you're seeing that right.



Dragonlance has loving aliens.

Okay, okay, so these guys are the various "lost folks of Krynn." I.e. races that don't technically exist any longer or you shouldn't encounter but they're in here anyway because no reason or because they were mentioned off-hand at some point during the DARKEST DEEPLORE. Like the lizardmen, the Bakali, who helped out Takhisis way back but aren't actually evil and-

quote:

Yet, perhaps they left their mark on the world. The only people to ever crossbreed with that poisonous race, the goblins, sired the dark-blooded trolls who make their home in the marsh and swamps, once home to this lost race of wyrm.

-and more weird anti-goblin racism and miscenegation that leads to horrible mutants. Sure, why not. Mind you how the gently caress does a reptilian species that literally lays eggs crossbreed with goblins, who are mammals.

The alien looking guys are the fairy "huldrefolk" who just happen to leave big stone circles and the like around and dwell in an alternate dimension and are psychic. So they're basically loving alien Greys in Dragonlance that have weird elemental powers.

The last appendix is the "special artifacts of Ansalon." Almost all of these are straight from the books/adventure modules, so we'll deal with them when we get that far.

Thoughts

If you pitched Dragonlance to me without telling me any details, I'd be interested in it. "It's a post-apocalyptic setting where the gods are real, but have abandoned the sapient species of the world because they were considered to be too huge fuckups." You could do a lot of interesting stuff with a setting like that. You've got a gritty post-apoc world but one that could quite possibly be saved by reconnecting with the gods, somehow, like a slightly more hopeful Athas. Alternately, maybe everyone decides that gods that are willing to throw burning mountains at them for failing to act right, deserve no mortal power or worship, no matter how much they claim to be "good." Maybe the world experiences a technological renaissance as people are forced to find alternatives to fading magic. There's potential there.

But the more detail anything in Dragonlance has, the worse it is. The details are where we get Kender, or the idiotic workings of the Towers of High Sorcery, the hugely unbalanced race options, the weird goblin racism, tangential fairy alien grays, nuclear weapons, a truckload of dragonfucking and a setting that demands we take dragons seriously as a threat while describing how hidebound tribesmen hunt them in kayaks with harpoons.

So I'm looking forward to tearing into the lovely adventures.

Tune in next time for... DL1: Dragons of Despair!


skeleton warrior wishes you good luck and good night until then

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Thanks Skeleton Warrior!

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Have fun routing the living, Skeleton Warrior!

Edit: I kind of wish I had my hands on the Time of the Dragon boxed set. It detailed the far side of Krynn, which was very much not Dragonlance. For one thing, the poo poo the gnomes built worked, very well.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 17:54 on Nov 30, 2019

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Bieeanshee posted:

Have fun routing the living, Skeleton Warrior!

Edit: I kind of wish I had my hands on the Time of the Dragon boxed set. It detailed the far side of Krynn, which was very much not Dragonlance. For one thing, the poo poo the gnomes built worked, very well.

I do in fact have access to .PDF's of that boxed set as well, I love the detail of the minotaur empire there, plus the weird thing is that the Taladanian(Taladassian? Whichever) goblins actually got a comparatively nuanced write-up.

Guess I know what I'm reviewing after 20-something modules unless someone beats me to it!

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

SunAndSpring posted:

Some day I hope I post something of interest here but then again the last time that happened, I had like 6 people including one of the lead developers saying not to do it for some dumb reason.

Like I dunno it just sucks to make poo poo that gets no engagement because I can’t make it seem exciting (but who really can with this poo poo), so if I want to find something interesting, I’ve got to pray some goon has never touched it here and that it’s something goons know.

I've found your review of Forbidden Lands interesting. If I haven't been directly engaging with it, it's only because I didn't have anything specific to say about it; it doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed reading it. Actually, the fact that the game is so unfamiliar to most F&F readers may be why there's less engagement with it than about some of the other games. If you look at most of the comments about some of the other games currently being reviewed that are getting more engagement—Spire, the Dragonlance boxed set, to a lesser degree the Buck Rogers game—most of the comments are from people relating their own experience with the game or the setting, or relaying other information they know about it. Most of the posters here don't know about Forbidden Lands, so they don't have their own experience with it or opinions about it to post. That doesn't mean they're not interested in reading it. If anything, the fact that this game is so little known may make it a more interesting or significant subject for a review than the games and settings most people already know. (Compare the also currently ongoing review of The Dark Eye, a game which more people here are likely to have heard of than Forbidden Lands, but which still isn't terribly well known to most people outside Germany... note that it isn't getting nearly as much engagement as the Dragonlance or Spire reviews either, probably for similar reasons as yours. It's no reflection on the quality of the review or on how much people are enjoying it.)

As for "the last time that happened", that had nothing to do with the style or quality of your review, only of the content. Your Deviant review was (IMO, at least) well written; it was just maybe premature. You shouldn't let that deter you from doing other reviews. (Until this comment, I actually hadn't realized you were the same poster from the Deviant review—not that it really would have changed anything if I had.)

If you don't feel like continuing your review right now and want to take a break, of course there's nothing wrong with that. (Heck, I've sort of been taking way too much of a break myself with my Deities & Demigods review... I will get to the next part soon(ish), I promise!) But don't be discouraged from continuing, or from doing other reviews. I don't think amount of engagement is necessarily a reliable measure of how interesting people are finding the review.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Jerik posted:

I've found your review of Forbidden Lands interesting. If I haven't been directly engaging with it, it's only because I didn't have anything specific to say about it; it doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed reading it. Actually, the fact that the game is so unfamiliar to most F&F readers may be why there's less engagement with it than about some of the other games. If you look at most of the comments about some of the other games currently being reviewed that are getting more engagement—Spire, the Dragonlance boxed set, to a lesser degree the Buck Rogers game—most of the comments are from people relating their own experience with the game or the setting, or relaying other information they know about it. Most of the posters here don't know about Forbidden Lands, so they don't have their own experience with it or opinions about it to post. That doesn't mean they're not interested in reading it. If anything, the fact that this game is so little known may make it a more interesting or significant subject for a review than the games and settings most people already know. (Compare the also currently ongoing review of The Dark Eye, a game which more people here are likely to have heard of than Forbidden Lands, but which still isn't terribly well known to most people outside Germany... note that it isn't getting nearly as much engagement as the Dragonlance or Spire reviews either, probably for similar reasons as yours. It's no reflection on the quality of the review or on how much people are enjoying it.)

As for "the last time that happened", that had nothing to do with the style or quality of your review, only of the content. Your Deviant review was (IMO, at least) well written; it was just maybe premature. You shouldn't let that deter you from doing other reviews. (Until this comment, I actually hadn't realized you were the same poster from the Deviant review—not that it really would have changed anything if I had.)

If you don't feel like continuing your review right now and want to take a break, of course there's nothing wrong with that. (Heck, I've sort of been taking way too much of a break myself with my Deities & Demigods review... I will get to the next part soon(ish), I promise!) But don't be discouraged from continuing, or from doing other reviews. I don't think amount of engagement is necessarily a reliable measure of how interesting people are finding the review.

Remember too that every review doesn't have to be a 20,000 word Let's Read, though that's what it's drifted towards. Some of the better reviews from the beginning days of this series of threads were the ones that hauled up the weird or silly things about obscure games and finished the book in a couple of posts. If walls of text aren't fun and you don't feel like it's worth the effort, build a curated sandcastle of words instead.

Midjack fucked around with this message at 19:06 on Nov 30, 2019

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Midjack posted:

Remember too that every review doesn't have to be a 20,000 word Let's Read, though that's what it's drifted towards. Some of the better reviews from the beginning days of this series of threads were the ones that hauled up the weird or silly things about obscure games and finished the book in a couple of posts. If walls of text aren't fun and you don't feel like it's worth the effort, build a curated sandcastle of words instead.

Absolutely with Midjack on this. A comprehensive review doesn't necessarily give you every single page or reference, it just tells you what's stand-out or interesting. Reviews that just slightly reword and replicate the book are... usually not all that engaging, and the interesting parts tend to get lost in the wall of words.

MadDogMike
Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?

PurpleXVI posted:

At times the writing verges on almost humanizing the draconians and making them useful as something other than enemies(and, really, any even vaguely competent author should be able to see the potential there), as they seem to be quite aware(and even somewhat depressed, thus explaining why they drink so much) over being a species with an expiration date(even noting that some Baaz draconians are refusing to accept their extinction as inevitable, though for now all they're doing is trying to steal more dragon eggs, of any alignment, to try and replicate their original means of creation). Considering the means and conditions of their creation, it wouldn't be hard to think about how their "evil" might be as much nurture as nature.

Interestingly there was a short story about trying to redeem draconians by good dragons (these were their corrupted children, after all) that basically didn't work because the draconians were too frightened by the idea of going that far from what they knew, so somebody definitely thought about the possibilities. I believe later on they did discover how to reproduce without stealing eggs and the resulting draconian nation/race was much more neutral, they weren't working for Takhisis by then at least if memory serves. They had certainly been generally portrayed in large part as professional soldiers working for a harsh boss (with admittedly no real familiarity with ethics or even much about civilian life) rather than pure evil monsters.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

Dragonlance

A few of the NPC's are actually useful, but even the text admits that most of them are really only useful for giving out quests or for being the target of quests to kill bad guys.]

I did appreciate that there were a couple of the evil guys you could potentially manipulate in doing bad stuff to the bad side. The supplement at least broached the idea that "Hey, maybe not every battle against evil has to end with "We murder him to death and steal his poo poo. Yay for the good guys!""

I admit I wish this was being done under first edition so you could all appreciate that Dragonlance was kind of the proving ground for some of the second edition. The Wizards of High Sorcery laid the ground works for specialist wizards and making the illusionist a specialist wizard instead of its own class. The Moons thing might've fallen flat, but it was cool that a Wizard of High Sorcery didn't look like the bog standard mage in the book. The Order of the Stars finally put forth the idea that cleric were priests of actual god and didn't all look alike. That some gods granted special abilities and different spell selection.

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


MadDogMike posted:

Interestingly there was a short story about trying to redeem draconians by good dragons (these were their corrupted children, after all) that basically didn't work because the draconians were too frightened by the idea of going that far from what they knew, so somebody definitely thought about the possibilities. I believe later on they did discover how to reproduce without stealing eggs and the resulting draconian nation/race was much more neutral, they weren't working for Takhisis by then at least if memory serves. They had certainly been generally portrayed in large part as professional soldiers working for a harsh boss (with admittedly no real familiarity with ethics or even much about civilian life) rather than pure evil monsters.

The Legion from Fragged Empire would make a great point of comparison for more fully fleshed-out Draconians. Bred for war, the war is lost, and now they have to keep on going somehow.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Spire and Black Magic and Strata

Post 10: The Good and the Indifferent

So, Strata is a mixed book. It's a book I'd still recommend; the good bits are good enough that the entire book is worth it. But it's much more mixed than I'd hoped. The sole reason for this? Over half of Strata's 231 pages are pre-made adventures. We'll talk about this part first. The issue with the pre-mades isn't even their quality (though not all of them are good) so much as that Spire just doesn't feel like a system where a fully pre-made adventure is going to help that much. I feel like you'd get most of what's useful out of all of them by just printing the hook for the adventure, mixed in with more normal setting fluff.

For instance, one of the adventure seeds is that the players run a high end patisserie that funnels its profits to the resistance, spies on aelfir customers, and stays 'in fashion' at all costs so it can continue to do both things. This is a good adventure hook. Owning a business that is popular with the occupiers and uses that to inform on them and funnel their money to the resistance is a great idea for a game. Then you add an entire staff of NPCs (rather than the players) who initiated the plot (they killed an aelfir general, and they're wavering in their loyalty to the Ministry and tempted to just run a patisserie) and you get the sense they felt they had to just to have a full adventure, even as the number of staffers fills out the entire shop and might crowd out the players. They're not badly written or anything (the hyena mascot is a very good boy), just they don't feel very necessary when the adventure's already given you the useful bit on the first page or so. Heck, if you want the dead general part, just have the players whack the guy on orders from the Ministry as the thing that starts the shop spiraling out of control and makes them choose between their loyalty to cake and their loyalty to Lombre. 'Hey your shop has done enough, kill this guy and anything more you can do is gravy (also you're probably going to die)' would fit perfectly as a midpoint to a game with this hook.

Add to this when they actually get to the adventure bits your players can affect, they're very general. You'll be doing most of the filling in of these plot hooks yourself, because Spire is a narrative system. There's no saving you tons of mechanical prep-time by having pre-made balanced encounters or dungeons or whatever like you might get in something like D&D or WHFRP (Not that I've usually been that impressed with that aspect of pre-mades there, mind). The pre-mades are really just extra-detailed plot-hooks with maybe a few extra mini-mechanics (like a stat for how much a rogue drow noble house has taken control of Spire that checks campaign fallout, etc) that simply take up too much of the book. You'll still be doing most of the legwork yourself and god knows what your players are going to get up to anyway.

I'm sure the pre-mades are useful to someone; my take on pre-mades should always be taken with a bit of a grain of salt since I usually don't use them in any system. But even if they are, I'm not sure they're 'more than half the book' useful to anyone.

But enough about the less useful bits of the book: The actual fluff stuff is mostly gold. I'm not going to go into too much detail (considering these sections are the main reason to buy Strata) but the High Society part especially does an amazing job of further fleshing out the aelfir as antagonists. You get neat details, like how the aelfir are ruled by a glacial immortal queen whose power flows from the north pole. Spire, however, is so far south that the aelfir there can regard her as a quaint anachronism and ignore her, which infuriates her, but she's so cold and slow that she won't try to purge their heresy for centuries, by which point she might show up to find Spire enormously different. Or bits like: drow use messenger birds to carry messages. Aelfir think that's too crass, so they use hummingbirds. The problem is hummingbirds can only carry tiny messages, so they send them in swarms to all give their little bits of the full message. Yes, aelfir invented bird-twitter and then the annoyance that is twitter-threads. They would.

There's also some interesting stuff on why you might be able to turn young aelfir, and the advantages and disadvantages of the types of aelfir patron you can find. Guy who's playing around at being a traitor for his gap year? Won't try to micromanage you, doesn't care what you do with the money, probably won't bother betraying you later, but will pull his money out as soon as it starts to actually show on his trust fund. Idealistic aelfir woman who believes she can make a radical new type of art out of anti-racism? Will help you wholeheartedly and do her best, but probably wants to be part of the cell herself, probably has no espionage training, and probably wants to dictate exactly what you do to make sure it's properly artistic. Besides, she's adding a high elf to it, that makes the rebellion better by aelfir reckoning. Yes, you can run into the problem of aelfir recruits trying to white savior your cell, assuming they know better than the oppressed group that's been hiding stuff from the oppressors their entire lives and accidentally leading you all off a cliff (the cliff is Paladins). Which is hilarious.

At the same time, they have a lot of money and potentially a lot of influence, and you need both.

Strata also adds a nice little 'potential allies within this district' list of NPC concepts and how the PCs might turn them. From an aelfir who is just super into having drow lovers (and so wants to be with the rebellion because he thinks drow rebels are hot-blooded and great) to a 'pampered' pet drow who loving hates her high up master for surgically altering her to be more artistic (her mistress thought she was doing her a favor, making the woman look more aelfir) there's some nice stuff in here. Plus the sheer excesses of the aelfir can be hilarious, like the one who wanted a coat made of live songbirds but who has to have an army of servants following them at all times to feed the birds and keep them alive because anybody can have a coat of dead songbirds. The art also continues to be fantastic. The High Society section is really my highlight of the book, as is the Inksmith.

The Low Society section is good too, don't get me wrong. It's just more uneven. I would have really liked more on the actual work of the Works, so to speak. There's plenty on the fantastical sides of the Spire; I'd like a little more on how the people of the Works actually live. The addition of a bog-standard zombie plague as the main bit on the Works district is one of the missed opportunities of the book. The addition of a Gazetteer Extra Advance is pretty good, though, since the Works is also where the city's massive printing presses blaze away at truth and fiction. They get a special ability that is 'HAVE A CRAZY CONSPIRACY WALL FULL OF RED STRING' so there is that. The Gardens have some decent stuff but again, it's mostly about cults and witches. The picture where they show drow using statues of drow to trick predatory moss into trying to eat the statues so they can farm it is pretty awesome though. You also get rules for human tools used as weapons, such as the 'chained-saw' or the 'pneumatic sheers'. They aren't great (they increase Difficulty by 1 even though they hit like...well, a chainsaw) but still pretty fun. You can also become a plant wizard druid down in the gardens if you want.

The Perch fills in a ton of great stuff on the Small Gods, too. They're all so attracted to the place because Perch is a precariously perched shanty-town that wasn't supposed to exist and the people there can't build permanent religious structures. So Gods who have lost everything come there to find whatever worshipers they can among people who will happily worship a God that is willing to be a rope or an axe or a hip flask. It's great. I love the picture of an old angel of the aelfir Old Gods being lured into an axe with a little worship like it was peanut butter on a mouse trap. You get a ton more on the Bound (drow vigilantes who bind the Small Gods into their tools, one of the PC classes) and how, exactly, they do their binding and what it means. It's good stuff.

And you get a really nice filling-in of the Underspire of Derelictus. My favorite bit down there is that the aelfir almost never show up, except to hunt people for sport or kidnap children sometimes (anyone who has played Necromunda shouldn't be surprised there are Spirers in Spire), so people have made them into mythic Golden Ones. Another cute thing: Sometimes, when they grab a drow child from the desperate poor in the Underspire, a popular thing to do with them is to bring them up to a life of luxury just for the absurdity of it. Some aelfir kidnap drow children from the poorest regions so they can shower them with money and luxury, rather than the more standard torture opera or enslavement. The legends of the Golden Ones down in Derelictus are great. This is also an excellent backstory for a PC or a way to whack an aelfir official when they take their heir down to learn to hunt for people or something, down in the dark where anything could have gotten them.

There's way more in Strata and it's worth picking up for the first half of it alone. The fluff in Spire really is one of the big draw points and I would happily pay for more sourcebooks of it; it's where you get many of the best adventure hooks and ideas. The pre-mades are much more mixed because A: This just doesn't feel like a system where a pre-made has a lot of points where it can truly save prep time and B: The most useful part of each of them is the hook itself, anyway. I'd have loved another Domain and then about half as much time devoted to the pre-mades; as it is they make Strata a more mixed recommendation than the core book. But it's still a recommendation. If you liked the core and want more, Strata is definitely worth it.

And seriously, the Inksmith is aces. The class design in Spire in general is one of the best and biggest hooks to getting people excited for the game and excited to make changes to get advances. It's real good.

Next Time: Sparked by the Revolution: Spire's SRD

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




Re; Dragonlance


There's a bit of running plot that I kinda liked, in that a lot of the evil folks that worship Takhsis eventually mellow out after they wise up to the fact that they're just being used, and there never was a place at the table for them in the first place. There's a bit where the Alien Blue Dragon Overlord tells Mina to go gently caress herself when she shows up to bring him back into the fold. All he wanted was to be shown the respect of a valued servant, and to rule in her name, and Takhsis is such a selfish rear end in a top hat she can't even do that much.

The draconians are a bit gimmicky with regards to their abilities, but they actually get a couple of standalone novels that flesh them out fairly well (if memory serves) and make them interesting. They find out about and then rescue the first and only batch of female draconians that were made in secret, and eventually found their own nation in the remains of an abandoned dwarf colony. They shift towards neutral as they focus more on building their fledgling nation, and mostly abandon the wars of a goddess who never gave a poo poo about them.

Its still mostly bad, but I remember liking parts of Dragonlance.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Dragonlance



Dragons of Despair/Dragons of Mystery

Welcome to the very first Dragonlance adventure, module DL1. Just to make things properly confusing, though, you'd probably want to start by reading DL5 which contains world and setting information, primarily stuff we've already gotten from the boxed set, but also a decent bit of stuff with background on the canon characters. Y'see, unlike most other things that have pre-genned characters, where they're there for newbies or drop-ins who lack the familiarity or time to make a character of their own, Dragonlance wholly expects you to use the pre-generated characters. They are, of course, the protagonists in the associated books(the book/module timeline is a bit confusing. As far as I can tell DL1 through 4 were written first, then the first book, then the remaining books were written, and then the last modules.

DL1 through 2 are the first book(Dragons of Autumn Twilight), DL3 and 4 are not in the books, DL5 is unrelated to any books, DL6 through 10 and part of 12 are in the second book(Dragons of Winter Night), DL11 is intended to cover the strategic parts of an overarching war going on partially in the background, sometimes in the foreground, of the modules, and I think DL13 and 14 fit the last book(Dragons of Spring Dawning). And in case anyone asks, yes, just to gently caress with anyone with OCD, there's no "Summer" book... in this series. There is in fact a "Dragons of Summer Flame," but that one's more properly associated with another series that hands over the torch to a "second generation" of characters(generally, as implied by the "second generation" term, children or somehow bearers of the torch handed to them by the original protagonists).

Now if this is confusing, I apologize if I've understated the size of Dragonlance as a franchise. The thing had in excess of a hundred books, outside of modules, sourcebooks and rulebooks, just as associated fiction. The various modules and sourcebooks add another about 60 entries, so probably there are 200 or more Dragonlance books across both fiction and game, and the editions it's been published for.

The Companions of the Lance



quote:

Because DRAGONLANCE™ is a story, certain “name” heroes and villains are important. They should not die until the right point in the story (sometimes, they shouldn’t die at all!). What happens when the wrong person gets killed?

That’s where a special rule—the “obscure death” rule—comes into play. If a “name” character (any DRAGONLANCE PC or featured NPC) dies prematurely, that character meets an “obscure death” so that you can bring him or her back later.

One good reason to play a pre-generated Companion of the Lance in these adventures is that you literally get a get-out-of-death-free card. You're not allowed to die until your ordained time, so you can do whatever dumb poo poo you want and the GM just has to clutch his head and desperately fudge poo poo to keep things on track. Essentially you're supposed to get knocked to zero HP and then tumble off a cliff, into a ravine, get captured, actually just get knocked unconscious, it was a Tanisbot instead of the real Tanis, etc. whatever, you don't die, now get back on the railroad tracks, vermin.

The same goes for villains, where they're supposed to just straight no-sell anything that'd kill them with "special defenses" until their ordained time to die, or it was a doombot, or they just get resurrected by evil clerics offscreen and return to their track like good puppets.

quote:

All PCs brought into the DRAGONLANCE game from outside the campaign are subject to normal death. Remember, the lack of clerical magic in Krynn makes it very difficult to obtain a resurrection spell.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm already hype to learn about these Companions of the Lance(tm) that we'll definitely want to play as rather than anyone else. They are...

Flint: He's a dwarf. As generically dwarfy as it is possible to be. Friends with Tanis, grudgingly tolerates Tasslehoff. 4th-level Fighter.
Tanis: A half-elf. Angsty about his split heritage, tends to be the one that gets involved in romance drama including. Ran away from his home in elf-land in part because of drama with his adopted wholly-elven sister, and now has a boner for Kitiara, an evil Human that shows up occasionally. 5th level Fighter
Sturm: Lawful Good Fighter who really wishes he was a Knight of Solamnia. Notable for the fact that the art likes to show him with a sword-and-board setup while the rules insist he's got a magic two-handed weapon and no shield. 6th level.
Raistlin: An extremely OC do not steal human mage. Starts out Neutral and has, I poo poo you not, hourglass-shaped pupils because of his very deep and traumatic and meaningful test in the Tower of High Sorcery. He's third-level and is constantly described as weak and sickly despite his bog-standard Constitution and Strength of 10 each. Everyone in the party starts out with some magic items, but his is a literal named Artifact. Brother of Caramon. Half-brother of Kitiara.
Caramon: Brother of Raistlin, a generic well-intentioned 6th-level Human Fighter. Is all boners for Tika, a barmaid. Half-brother of Kitiara.
Tika: 4th level Fighter dual-classed from a 3rd-level Thief. Is pretty into Caramon and doesn't have much of an importance until then.
Tasslehoff: Oh boy, it's the party's intolerable Kender jackass. gently caress Tasslehoff. Also in this edition of Dragonlance, Kender still get to backstab people for bonus damage, they don't yet have a Handler subclass. 4th level.
Goldmoon: A NOBEL SAVAGE Cleric who doesn't actually get access to divine spells until some way into the first adventures. Hangs out with Riverwind. 5th level Cleric.
Riverwind: Another NOBEL SAVAGE that I literally can't remember anything about except that he protects Goldmoon. 5th level Ranger. Is always an NPC.
Laurana: Tanis' sort-of sister(he's the adopted one), full elf, a 4th level Fighter. She got Tanis kicked out of the home because she told her brother, Gilthanas, that they'd promised to marry each other one day and Gilthanas didn't want no foul mudbloods in his family.
Gilthanas: Tanis' sort-of brother and kind of a racist rear end in a top hat. A level 5/4 Fighter/Mage.

And a whole bunch of other losers we'll bumble into as appropriate. The whole cast isn't going to be around from the first moment, but the core party of Flint, Tanis, Sturm, Raistlin, Caramon and Tasslehoff will almost always be there, while Goldmoon and Riverwind join the party relatively early on.

Now, one of the first things you might notice here is that these characters are by no means balanced. You've got a 6th-level Fighter alongside a 4th-level Fighter, just for the most obvious starting issue. Some characters have no magic items, while others have literal artifacts.

Their backstory for getting together as a party is that Tanis and Flint, business partners, end up tolerating Tasslehoff because he has the maps needed to open up new trade routes(which they find out after catching him stealing their poo poo). While travelling, they bump into Raistlin(performing magic tricks for money) and Caramon, and Sturm who prevents Tasslehoff from robbing a wizard. In the background of all of this, we're told, Tanis and Kitiara gently caress in the woods somewhere. Flint ends up hiring them all as security for his trading trips and they go around earning him fat stacks of cash for a few years, until trade starts dropping off from an excess in monsters and badguys. They all decide that a good way to pass the next few years is that they're gonna split up, look for any signs of the true gods(it being 300 years since the cataclysm with no signs of divine magic), and then meet up once a year to discuss what they've found. And that's basically where Dragons of Despair starts, on one of their yearly meet-ups.

The remainder of what Dragons of Mystery contains is essentially just the setting details we already know.

Dragons of Despair(again)



Let's get this adventure on the road.





We're provided with two maps, one of which is readable and in colour, but lacks event keys and markers. And one of which is borderline unreadable, black-and-white, and does have event keys and markers. For anyone who doesn't feel like having severe eyestrain, just refer to the coloured map and note that the game starts just slightly east of Solace.

quote:

The air surges fierce and sweet, carrying the clear musk smell of the woodlands. The soft murmur of stirring leaves, of insects, and of small animals fills the landscape. The clear highland sky blushes with the end of day and fades into starry sleep. This is home.

There are another five paragraphs like this, and then we're instructed that anyone playing a pre-gen should flip over their character sheet and loudly read the story on the back. Anyone not playing a pre-gen should just remain quiet because they don't get to have any stories. Then a bunch of hobgoblins ride up and go "NYAAAARGH GIVE US THE CRYSTAL STAFF NYAAAARGH WE'RE VILLAINS" and attack because they're assholes. They are ridiculously outmatched by the party and probably even Raistlin could solo the encounter by beating them to death with his artifact staff.

quote:

Event 2: Goldmoon Found. Roll 1d4. The result indicates how many encounters after the beginning of the game this event takes place.

"Suddenly, soft music begins. Its source is a slim, beautiful girl. Lyre in hand, she slides gracefully to sit; nearby, a large plainsman raises a flute to his lips.

The girl’s eyes are a bright sky blue, her skin a buttery tan. Most striking of all is the flowing white gold of her hair. Plush white furs trim her woven cape. A single feather folds back along the right side of her head.

Her voice clear as winter air, she begins to sing . . ."

The Song of Riverwind is in the center of this module. If Goldmoon is a PC in the adventure, have the player read the lyrics aloud or, if he or she has natural minstrel abilities, sing them with the music provided.

Ah, street musicians, if only the hobgoblins could have attacked them instead. Anyway, the next stage of the adventure literally will not progress until the party stops flicking coins at these two and recruit them instead. If any PC's are injured, Goldmoon's staff will casually leap out of her robe and whack them, healing them for all damage taken. It is, of course, a crystal staff, and gasp, the hobgoblins were after these two hobos all along. For some reason Riverwind must be an NPC and cannot be a PC, but now Goldmoon's player actually gets to do something. If no one plays Goldmoon, she and Riverwind will always be around as NPC's.

If the players don't recruit Goldmoon and Riverwind, they'll just keep loving showing up repeatedly until the party does. BUT THOU MUST design at its finest. Like, if they don't even show up injured and get the free healing, there's no indication that they're anything other than bad musicians. The text doesn't even say what kind of riot it'll cause when the staff heals someone in full daylight, possibly with other NPC's around, considering that divine magic and healing hasn't been around for hundreds of years, and is now suddenly happening in front of them.

If the players dally for too long, an increased number of cursed events will happen. Bad weather, thunderstorms, the dragonarmies beginning their invasion of Ansalon and their being forced to sing songs. No, really.

quote:

Event 4: Reading of the Canticle. On one of the nights the party is camped (your choice), pass around the Canticle of the Dragon found at the end of this book. As though around the campfire, have each player read one verse aloud, from first verse to last, until they finish the poem.

Weiss and Hickman like to fancy themselves musicians/poets and most of their books have at least one homemade song or poem at the back, in the case of the songs, usually with musical notation. I've never tried to play, or heard anyone try to play any of these, but I somehow don't have a lot of confidence that they're any good.



Anyway, having read the book, I know that the authors actually want the players to head into Solace before any of this happens. It's a town built entirely in huge, though somewhat squat, trees, and thus a massive fire hazard. The players are supposed to be herded towards the Inn of the Last Home so the GM can read some bad lines from the barkeep and Caramon's player can engage in a kind of weird romance with Tika(they've got a 6-year age gap and he's known her since she was 14, so it's kind of an older brother/younger sister situation that eventually turns sexual and while there's nothing outright wrong about it, it just feels a bit weird, especially since it feels like the text tries to make her sound younger than the 19 she is).

quote:

The barkeeper: “A magical staff! I bet it was forged by demons from the terrible Darken Woods. There are terrible mysteries in that place, there are! Och, what an evil place.”

A man at a table: “Hooded men have been in town asking about that staff! An evil lot they were, too. I wonder if they were offering a reward.”

A man by the storyteller: “A man of the Holy Guard rode through two days ago asking about that staff. He said that anyone who had it or had knowledge of it should make haste to the Capital of Haven and meet at once with the Prelate of the Temple there — but I certainly do not want to get involved!”

The Old Storyteller: “I foresee great and terrible destiny in your eyes. There is a Blue Staff which you must return to Xak Tsaroth. There, in but a few days hence, you shall face your greatest peril in contest for the greatest gift given to man.”

A girl at a table: “It was probably found in Darken Wood. I hear that the ruins there are filled with wealth — and dangers to match. No one who has entered that place has ever returned to tell the tale.”

A boy dreams by the fire, “I saw the white stag up near Prayers Eye Peak just a few days ago! If only I could catch it. He who walks the paths of the white stag is blessed, I hear tell.”

So basically most of the NPC's are trying to chase you into the Darken Woods which is in the wrong direction, while the GM's mouthpiece, Fizban(that cursed loving character) very clearly tells the PC's to stop wasting time and haul off east so the plot can get moving. In the book, this is where the party meets Goldmoon and Riverwind, one of the local authorities shows up, tries to push Riverwind and Goldmoon around, falls in the fireplace, and Goldmoon heals him because she's not an rear end in a top hat. Then they have to flee Solace as a group because the hobgoblins are all up in their poo poo and they do not want their poo poo to get stabbed.

Anyway, presumably by this point the players have gotten the somewhat browbeaten point and are hauling off down the roads which are patrolled by Baaz Draconians in disguise. Not being psychic, they'll mostly just question the players(relatively politely, at that) about the staff and whether they've seen it, and let the players go if they say no. They'll only attack if they straight-up see the staff in the players' hands. The only NPC's around are terrified farmers who've been harried by hobgoblins and draconians, or have had their friends and family disappear in the night, and wish things would get better soon.

However, if the PC's have not gotten the point, the game does in fact have descriptions for stuff as far west and south as Haven, the only other real city in the area. The Seekers, who are described as pure assholes in the book, are in complete control of Haven, where they actually seem to be doing their best to control a lovely situation involving refugees coming in from all sides and will, if presented with the staff, actually echo that the players should please take it to Xak Tsaroth, since that will supposedly make things better(if the PC's try to hand it over to the Highseekers so an organized force with armed soldiers can undertake the quest, the staff will randomly murder one of the Chaotic Good councilmen because that is how "good" works in Dragonlance). Entering the Darken Wood brings the entire elven army down on them who'll try to arrest them and haul them off to the Forestmaster. Slipping around said army means that the forest's ghost cops, centaurs or pegasi do the same thing. The Forestmaster also, no surprise, tell the PC's to gently caress off east and get the plot moving, but will at least provide pegasi air taxis for the purpose of speeding things up.

Eventually the players will get out of the Seeker lands and enter the plains barbarian lands where they find that some rear end in a top hat named Verminaard has had his troops butcher the hell out of the local natives in some pretty brutal ways. Not good news. There are a few NPC's they can bump into, like a man fleeing some Draconians that they can rescue and heal up, but it's like a stuck record at this point since the only dialogue they ever get is "RETURN THE SLAAAAA-" I mean "RETURN THE STAAAAAAAFF to Xak Tsaroth, please and thank you."

The goal is to reach the eastmost map marker, 44, which is Xak Tsaroth. The surrounding terrain is all swamps and has potentially eight loving random encounters per day, ranging from some random snakes, to draconian patrols, to level-draining undead(loving really?) or the huge black dragon Khisanth just doing a drive by breath weapon nuking on the party. I mean, okay, half of these encounters will just straight up end the party, even if they're rolling with all of the canon PC's that could be present at this point(everyone on the list bar Laurana and Gilthanas), but let's say they only get one, let's say they get the loving wraiths. 2d6 of them, which have 5+3HD each and drain a level with each hit in addition to doing damage. They'll outnumber the party, almost certainly land some hits, and in a couple of whacks they'll be able to kill most members of the party or drain them so hard that they're essentially unable to continue the quest. Not to mention, how the gently caress do you even account for level-draining enemies in a module like this? What if everyone in the party drops two levels, how do you maintain any semblance of balance?

I'd rate the odds of the canon party, or even a non-canon party at the top of the suggested level range(4 to 6) and party size(6 to 8), surviving this swamp as very, very low if the GM follows the random encounter frequency and tables without adjustment of fudging. Jesus.

Kree! Whoever designed this hated the living more than I do!

You said it, skeleton warrior, you said it.

Next up: Xak Tsaroth. Surely it can't be any worse than the swamps

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

I found the patisserie thing confusing because apparently the employees are all imprisoned in the shop to the point that nobody can make a grocery run, which seems irrational even for aelfir.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Rand Brittain posted:

I found the patisserie thing confusing because apparently the employees are all imprisoned in the shop to the point that nobody can make a grocery run, which seems irrational even for aelfir.

It's also confusing because they're an entire party of 8 people (the hyena counts as a person to me) who have character classes and full backstories and everything about that says 'throw these out and give your PCs a patisserie, see what happens instead' or 'play these characters as a pre-made party' at best if you're going to use them.

E: The male midwife who runs the place is also a little weird. I'd be fine with having male spider-blooded in a game; that being a gendered thing in the core is something I'm happy to flex on either as a rarity or the Order being gender-integrated. It's more that he's a Midwife but it's like...just a character class. He doesn't actually have anything to do with the Order or child-care or anything. Which makes me go 'why is this character a Midwife'.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:21 on Dec 1, 2019

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





I’m back baby! Again! This time lean, mean and cutting out garbage nobody cares about like “resolution” and sticking to the good poo poo like insane subsystems and stupid setting lore!

Speaking of stupid setting lore:



You jaadi?

Appurtenances

Appurtenance is a smug dickheads way of saying “Accessories”. Not in universe, like Appurtenance just means Accessory. There is no reason to use it.

So anyway these are character things that aren’t in the character book that you can unlock by spending Crux, which remember, is one of the XP types. You can only have one. These are essentially incredibly dull prestige classes. The benefits aren’t bad, but they are boring as hell. I’m not going over all of them, just the interesting or spectacularly offensive ones.

Allied with Angels
You’ve got a guardian angel. Angel not actually included. It gives you two powers, Foresight and Protection. Protection is just a Get Out Of Death Free Card that you get once in the game. Foresight is supposed to be precognition but it’s the most boring form where you don’t get any actual foresight but just get bonus Bene in your non Sorcery pools. It’s just a buff fluffed as foresight but not actually providing any foresight at all. This one gets a gold star for being typical: It’s as disappointing as you can imagine and nowhere near as cool as being buddies with the Heavenly Host should be.

In League With Demons
Oh god. OK so this is explicitly worse than the Angels one in every way. In fact it’s hilariously terrible.

So you made a pact with Satan. This gives you one benefit: when you get down to 1 Wound from death, two level 7 demon warriors appear to protect your life. This also causes 2 Anguish (Mental Wounds), and gives you 1 scourge (negative modifier) to all your pools (stats). That Scourge lasts until you sacrifice another living thing to send their soul to Hell to pay your debt. The debt stacks up to 3 times: get the benefit stacked 3 times and Satan eats your soul on the next sunrise.

Now, I will give it credit. It’s interesting and flavorful! Like, this is a cool concept for a power that causes adventures! It’s also horribly designed. First obvious issue: You can get Wounds from things that demon bodyguards can’t help with. Combat or enemy attack? Sure. Poison? Disease? Wasting curses? Completely useless, but it still triggers and gives you the stat penalties even if it literally does nothing helpful. You get a soul debt because you got real bad Wizard Pneumonia? Too bad gently caress you.

The getting Anguish can kill you. You can get saved by demonic bodyguards, but kick the bucket the same instant through a heart attack, or just getting too sad to keep living, or something. Once again: It can literally kill you while trying to save your life which it might not do anyway

Also it just… happens whenever you hit 1 Wound from death. Fights over? Too bad, it triggers, gently caress you. While flavorful for a demonic pact… it’s not fun as a thing you have to spend XP to get and locks you out of every other Appurtenance


Not hating on this one: I legit think it’s cool and good. Like, this is a good thing. It's flavorful, useful, and a cool unique gimmick to be the Gun Wizard in the party. I Like This. Good on you Monte.

There are 12 of these. Of the ones that are interesting or at least like… fun? 3. With a Gun is one, the others are With a Beast which gives you a Familiar/Animal companion, and With Blood, which just lets you convert lost HP 1 to 1 to Sorcery points you can spend on your next action. 3 of 12 aren’t terrible or dull.

Misc. Other Stuff

There’s lots of terrible rule things that are boring and not worth going in depth on but I’ll highlight them in case people wanna know more.

You can change your order or Forte! Changing Forte is really good. You get to keep all the stuff you’ve already gotten and get to start a new one, so there’s no penalty to min-maxing by skipping through Forte’s only getting the abilities you care about. Unless the GM stops you of course, but as written this is fine. Changing Orders will make your GM want to kill you. You keep your old stuff, but your new things are always at -1 until you progress in your new order up to where they were in the old. I can’t even begin to contemplate how horrifically complicated and insane it would be to have access to multiple orders worth of powers. I cannot see any GM who realizes how terrible this is allowing it to ever happen.

Patrons are a thing: Pact with magical being of higher order, you do a thing for them and get benefits. It’s lovely because they only detail a handful of sample patrons and have no guidelines for making them up.

Modalities are NPC copies of your PC that live entirely separate lives and you don’t know about each other. It’s a natural consequence of doing Magic poo poo. Most games would just make this a concept that would be fodder for adventures, meeting your NPC clone while adventuring and such, but Invisible Sun has entire detailed advice about how to make and stat and level them up because they’re clones of a PC, they have a full PC character sheet.

Shadow Characters suck and only idiots play them. They have no magic at all. They only have skills. Static bonuses. There is literally no reason to play them and I don’t know why they had to include rules for it.

Next Time: Gamemastering

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 20:17 on Dec 1, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Oh God, I thought we'd killed the Cube!

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012





Some of you have played Microscope. It’s even reviewed on this thread somewhere. Allow me to introduce its little, less well-known sibling. While the former focuses mostly on world-building, Kingdom is about… well… actually let’s allow the game to tell us that itself.

quote:

Kingdoms Are All Around Us…

Groups are stronger than individuals. In a Kingdom, we can work together to do great things. But we may not agree what path our Kingdom should take or what it should stand for. Can your vision of the Kingdom work with mine? Can everybody get what they want? Because if you’re part of the Kingdom, it makes demands on you too. You’re pressured to do what it thinks is right. The question becomes: do you change the Kingdom or does the Kingdom change you?

We Make Our Kingdom Together

A “Kingdom” is the game term for the community or organization that is the focus of our game. Any kind of community works, and we’ll decide what kind of Kingdom we want to play together. Our Kingdom could be…
… a frontier town in the Old West
… a colony ship crawling towards a distant star
… or the teachers and students of Sunnybrook Elementary School
Each of us will play a character who is part of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is what ties our characters together. It’s the center of all our lives.

And Watch It Burn

The game is about seeing what happens to the Kingdom and the people in it. How the characters change the Kingdom and how it changes them. As players, we all have equal authority to influence the game. It’s up to each of us to push the Kingdom in directions we find interesting. What will our Kingdom do? What will it become? Will it burn or flourish? Will iit stay true to its ideals–our ideals–or will it become some twisted shadow of our dreams?

The Kingdom’s fate is in our hands.

Yup, this is a game about an organization, or at least it claims to be one. In reality, this is a small deception on the part of the author, as we will see soon enough.

Creating a new Kingdom

The first part of starting a new game is creating the organization that your characters are going to lead. It can be done in 10 minutes, because there is very little mechanics that actually describes it. You start with a concept – any community with a common cause or identity is enough. It should include at least 20-30 people, so the characters have someone to boss around, but beyond that its size doesn’t matter. It can be a stellar empire or a criminal gang. The book gives an example of a concept.

quote:

Cactus Flats is a frontier town in the Wild West. There are ranchers, rustlers and gunslingers. The Sheriff wears a badge, but law mostly comes from the barrel of a gun.

The next thing that needs to be done is to pick three Threats (let each player come up with one). Each is some condition that could destroy the community, or at least seriously threaten its well-being. The players will mostly use them to come up with Crossroads (choices that the community needs to make) and Crises (the special events that happen when enough players decide to gently caress the Kingdom over). The author advises that at least one of them should be an internal one.

The example Threats for Cactus Flats are:

quote:

  • Outlaws and lowlifes have been drifting into town.
  • Railroad is not coming thru our town after all.
  • Drought. A long dry spell has made the rivers run low, making it harder to water cattle or crops.

The last thing that needs to be done is to come up with Locations, which will give the players ideas where to set their Scenes. Each person should come up with two. As the example shows us, the description doesn’t need to be very detailed.

quote:

  • Taproom of the Old Saloon
  • Boot Hill, the graveyard
  • Sheriff’s office & jail cell
  • Hanging Tree, lonely oak south of town
  • On the dry banks of the Cahoga River
  • Treacher’s Canyon, surrounding the road north to Fort Brook
  • Honest Cartwright’s dry goods
  • Abandoned mission on the edge of town, its adobe walls crumbling

And… that’s pretty much it. We don’t get an idea if our Kingdom is rich or poor (unless lack of money is one of the Threats), if its army is powerful or not, or even if it’s relatively strong or weak. For a game about people leading an organization, it’s probably the sparsest description of one I have ever seen. That is because the game is the Great Man Theory in the form of a book – its entire focus are characters that lead the community in question.

Creating characters

The first thing that every player needs to do is to choose a Role. It’s the most important attribute of all and the only one that actually influences the mechanics. That’s why it’s picked before you even have an idea who your character is going to be.

Powers are the ones who call the shots. When the Crossroads gets to its resolution, they are the one that actually make a decision what will the community do. They can also decide what actually happens to other characters (aside from killing them) – they can reward and punish them for support. This is purely narrative, though – an imprisoned character is still assumed to have enough clout to use their Role.
Perspectives are experts and advisors. They actually decide what consequences a choice is going to have and their predictions by default are assumed to be true. This lets them push the Powers into making the decisions they want. You don’t want the town to pardon the outlaws? Just say that if it happens, they are going to get bolder and take over – and it’s true until someone does anything to remove your prediction or you decide that you no longer want it.
Touchstones represent the common people: anything they say is automatically assumed to be the most popular opinion. If they’re tired with the war, everyone is. If they hate the outsiders, everyone does. Pissed off Touchstones can also tick additional Crisis boxes or clear them, so they can either blow the community up or make it content despite everyone else’s effort.

It’s assumed that there will be at least one character with each role during the Crossroads resolution. If there aren’t (because someone changed their role, which they totally can do), bad things happen.

After picking up the role, you actually decide who your character is. This should be someone that has a stake in the Kingdom survival – even if they can leave, this won’t be painless for them. What’s interesting is that the person’s description doesn’t actually need to correspond to the Role. For example, a King can totally be a Perspective, or a Touchstone – it just means they are a figurehead and someone else wields the actual Power.

The next step is choosing two locations your character can be usually found. Again, this is for the benefit of the players creating scenes: if they want to talk to the captain of the guard, it’s helpful to know they can usually be found on the courtyard or the battlements.

The next element to be chosen is the Wish or Fear. This is something that the character either really wants to happen, or is afraid it will happen if someone doesn’t stop it. The important thing is that Wish/Fear should be about the community, not anyone’s character. Therefore “I wish to be the king” or “I fear that I’ll be executed” are not valid; “I wish that the country becomes a worker’s paradise” or “I fear that our band of noble outlaws will become common criminals” are both great. This signals other players what issues do you really want to see in the game.

The Problem is something that holds your character back in any way. It can be a personal issue, like alcoholism or a chronic disease. It can be a problem with someone else, like a good-for-nothing relative or someone blackmailing you. It can be a bad reputation, being actually terrible at your job, or anything else. To be honest, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do – perhaps to give other players something to exploit or hold over your head. It seems like something that can be safely omitted; in fact, the update to the rules throws it out entirely (along with the Wish/Fear).

The last step of the character creation must be done by all the players together. Each one chooses the bond they have with the character belonging to the person on their left. These bonds can have a bit of antagonism – your character can consider someone else an incompetent fuckup, dislike them for some past misdeeds, or even want to see them go.

That’s all about preparing the game. Next time we’ll see how it is actually meant to be played.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


PurpleXVI posted:

Dragonlance

Next up: Xak Tsaroth. Surely it can't be any worse than the swamps

I barely restrained myself from posting way too much in response to this post, despite being a recovering lanceholic going on twenty-five years.

The one thing that really stood out to me, though, of all that garbage (not your posting, but the content therein, mind) was that Riverwind was NPC-only, and yet Gilthanas, who literally shows up late and then disappears early and often, was not?

The gently caress?

Also, Flint was only 4th level, despite having literally trained all the other characters in how to fight, and adventuring off and on for almost a hundred years?

Also, wouldn't Tika have had the most XP of all the characters, being a dual-classed 3/4 character, when her whole thing was being the youngest and least experienced person in the entire group? She's literally as good at fighting as Flint, despite never having picked up a sword in her life before things went to poo poo in Solace.

Also, wtf, Raistlin has a str, but especially a con, higher than low single dig- insert sound of head slamming into desk to cease this madness before it goes any further

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply