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Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



PurpleXVI posted:

Personally, I dislike having more than a 75% chance of loving up when I do something that's plain generic for my character. But that's predicated on the ability attack being binary, either win or lose, do thing or do nothing.

A lot of wizard spells have halved or partial effects even if the target sticks the save, or affect multiple targets so it's entirely possible some of them may make it, or they've got powers that there are no saves against, and in a fight with enemies of varied power levels, you might be able to one-shot a bunch of the mooks, clearing the path for the fighters to the big guy. Or you could focus on buffing the fighters if you know these particular targets are highly magic resistant, etc. Or even focus on some terrain-affecting spells that, since they don't actually target an enemy directly, don't get a save, but could still flip the fight by blocking off reinforcements or retreat or something else.

It'd be valid critique if the save-or-die spell was the only option the mage had.

I mean, the "pass your attack roll to mildly irritate the enemy" maneuver is the only option most non-casters have in D&D. "This is so powerful that it needs to be able to fail" is a reasonable argument against save-or-suck mage spells (though probably an argument against including them), but it's not an argument for the attack roll.

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Ultiville posted:

I mean, the "pass your attack roll to mildly irritate the enemy" maneuver is the only option most non-casters have in D&D. "This is so powerful that it needs to be able to fail" is a reasonable argument against save-or-suck mage spells (though probably an argument against including them), but it's not an argument for the attack roll.
Complete the circle, make it your Rotation Check. If you blow it you hosed up your skill rotation and did lovely DPS, but you still did SOMETHING!

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Oh man, I remember the idiot shitstorm when D&D 5e tried to let the fighter deal tiny bits of damage on a miss. It's a shame they gave up on that, it was a tiny glimmer of a good idea

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

PurpleXVI posted:

Dragonlance



Dragons of War!

I enjoyed the High Clerist's Tower as well for several of the positive reasons you outlined. It also goes to show you that Dragonlance always wanted to be a war game; the high number of PCs and DMPCs, the Battlesystem rules, the mook hordes, the big battles with Thorbadin and the Ice Folk encampment really struggled against the AD&D default rules.

The later games in the Fire Emblem series they handled the concept of high PC numbers well: there was a small core team, but a bunch of minor characters who had their own convo options and self-contained sidequests but weren't vital to the plot. But you wanted to keep them alive because numbers matter and various unit classes/weapon types/etc play off of each other in a rock/paper/scissors way. What I'm saying is that Dragonlance can learn a thing or two from Fire Emblem.

The War of the Lance sourcebook goes into more detail on the Dragonarmies' military campaigns and the timescale, but I'm not at home yet so I'll save it for a later post.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Kaza42 posted:

Oh man, I remember the idiot shitstorm when D&D 5e tried to let the fighter deal tiny bits of damage on a miss. It's a shame they gave up on that, it was a tiny glimmer of a good idea
It was a good idea, but it ran afoul of the #1 design goal in D&D: Don't Make Baby Cry.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Fire Emblem also frequently talks as though your army is more than the 25-35ish elite oddballs who get names and faces. The idea that the big battles are larger in storyline than they are in strict measure of gameplay could well be a good idea for a game like DnD because when you bolt mass combat onto a game not really made for it you usually wind up dropping that first m.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Whenever I have mass combats in a normal RPG, the thing I point to is Banner Saga. Where it was always clear you had a much larger force but the combats were just you, personally, deciding how much to risk your best soldiers to protect and make things easier for the off-screen mooks.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Omnicrom posted:

Fire Emblem also frequently talks as though your army is more than the 25-35ish elite oddballs who get names and faces. The idea that the big battles are larger in storyline than they are in strict measure of gameplay could well be a good idea for a game like DnD because when you bolt mass combat onto a game not really made for it you usually wind up dropping that first m.
Battalions being like lock-on supplemental parts to your core character is very clever, but I imagine the D&D worldview would swiftly lend itself to "aha, I use my batallion as disposable trap trigger nerds!" or "I train my group to all go for a headshot on the enemy general, and since there's over 20 of them, statistically speaking one should get a nat 20!" etc.

For the unfamiliar, in Fire Emblem 3 Houses you get to equip squads/platoons of dudes as support for your named characters, who provide stat bonuses and optional techniques and level up a little on their own. There is a skill you can focus training on to equip better and stronger platoons. There are a couple of people with unique abilities that make them (potentially) stronger without a unit attachment, seemingly making it explicit that the idea is "yeah, normally speaking, everyone will have one."

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!


Nessus posted:

Battalions being like lock-on supplemental parts to your core character is very clever, but I imagine the D&D worldview would swiftly lend itself to "aha, I use my batallion as disposable trap trigger nerds!" or "I train my group to all go for a headshot on the enemy general, and since there's over 20 of them, statistically speaking one should get a nat 20!" etc.

"Your battallion realizes you're treating them as disposable meat, they haul you into an alleyway and beat you to hamburger, then rifle through your pockets."

"While your group bombards the enemy general, they fail to suppress his heavy infantry who move in and cut them to ribbons."

Though, really, if you're playing with people like that, they'll always find a way to poo poo on things.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

I cannot find the exact quote, but one person asked if anyone ever confronted the Dragonlance writers for the faults of their adventures.

I cannot say for the Chronicles specifically, but back in the early Aughties there was one incident where Hickman wrote some gaming group advice for sessions which more or less amounted to "make things interesting" if the game dragged on or got boring, even if it involved inter-party conflict. Monte Cook later retorted that such advice would cause a gaming group to fall into anarchy.

Hickman took offense to this and retorted. Cook then disengaged from the argument rather than adding fuel to the fire.

Cannot find direct sources, but there was a convo about this on EN World.

Another thing to consider is that as far as I can tell, such feuds didn't really happen or spill out in public,* so something like a guy at Gen Con accosting Weis or Hickman could happen, it likely wouldn't have gone anywhere positive or been reported on beyond word of mouth anecdotal evidence. This is compounded by the non-confrontational nature of geek social fallacies and the desire not to be known as the geek who bad-mouthed a D&D luminary.

At risk of beating a dead horse, Gygax's statements on women and Native Americans were never taken to task until after his death, not even in the threads where he made his arguments about "biological determinism" and "nits make lice." Something far more minor like the Dragonlance adventures would have been even less likely to cause a nerd confrontation or end up news-worthy.

*until very recently thanks to social media and the culture wars.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 23:19 on Dec 19, 2019

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Nessus posted:

Battalions being like lock-on supplemental parts to your core character is very clever, but I imagine the D&D worldview would swiftly lend itself to "aha, I use my batallion as disposable trap trigger nerds!" or "I train my group to all go for a headshot on the enemy general, and since there's over 20 of them, statistically speaking one should get a nat 20!" etc.

For the unfamiliar, in Fire Emblem 3 Houses you get to equip squads/platoons of dudes as support for your named characters, who provide stat bonuses and optional techniques and level up a little on their own. There is a skill you can focus training on to equip better and stronger platoons. There are a couple of people with unique abilities that make them (potentially) stronger without a unit attachment, seemingly making it explicit that the idea is "yeah, normally speaking, everyone will have one."

Fire Emblem had perm-death and no means of recruiting beyond story-based characters. In Valkyria Chronicles if you're dumb enough to kill off all of your non-essential characters they will be replaced by literal nameless mooks who are worse stat-wise in every way. A tabletop equivalent would be something which gives you incentive to keep the good troops alive, and lock the "bad mooks" into a punishment routine where your army's gotten so desperate they're scraping the bottom of the barrel in peasant conscripts.

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!


Libertad! posted:

At risk of beating a dead horse, Gygax's statements on women and Native Americans were never taken to task until after his death, not even in the threads where he made his arguments about "biological determinism" and "nits make lice." Something far more minor like the Dragonlance adventures would have been even less likely to cause a nerd confrontation or end up news-worthy.

To be honest, I don't think it's that people didn't want to "take it to task," more that most people hadn't heard of it. I've been a D&D player since 1E AD&D(first game was a Dragonlance game, too, woo! I played an elf.) and I'd never heard those quotes from Gygax until this year, thise thread.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

To be honest, I don't think it's that people didn't want to "take it to task," more that most people hadn't heard of it. I've been a D&D player since 1E AD&D(first game was a Dragonlance game, too, woo! I played an elf.) and I'd never heard those quotes from Gygax until this year, thise thread.

That's pretty much where I am. The only time I ever even heard Gygax's actual voice was when he voiced himself on an episode of Futurama. I don't use a lot of social media. My experience with Facebook turned me off of it. There's a few people I'll check in on via Twitter, but I don't actually "follow" anyone. So I'm pretty far from being "in the loop" about stuff like this.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Libertad! posted:

Fire Emblem had perm-death and no means of recruiting beyond story-based characters. In Valkyria Chronicles if you're dumb enough to kill off all of your non-essential characters they will be replaced by literal nameless mooks who are worse stat-wise in every way. A tabletop equivalent would be something which gives you incentive to keep the good troops alive, and lock the "bad mooks" into a punishment routine where your army's gotten so desperate they're scraping the bottom of the barrel in peasant conscripts.

Fire Emblem 11/Shadow Dragon is the one and only FE that took after Valkyria Chronicles by having a mechanic such that if you were under a certain number of units after every map you were given mooks to make up the difference. Said mooks were pulled in from a big long list, had exactly baseline stats, and about halfway through that list (in the localization at least) you got characters with mocking names that essentially called you bad at the game for chewing through enough characters to see them.

In an intriguing bit of bad game design the game also locked access to sidestories with high value recruits behind number of total characters, IE to get some choice allies and items you had to deliberately let people die.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Dragons of War: 3rd Edition Changes

Obligatory blog post.

Note: I'd like to mention that we're getting close to the home stretch of Dragonlance Adventures. After this Dragons of Deceit is our last Winter adventure, and Dreams, Faith, and Truth detail what the PCs who escaped from Tarsis with Alhana Starbreeze on griffons have been up to. Said Spring adventures are meant to take place at roughly the same time as the Winter arc (Ice, Light, War, Deceit). Dragons of Triump is technically "Spring" but has the PCs from both groups reunite for one last grand adventure to take down the Dragonarmies and bring peace to Krynn.

1. The Morale System is more or less unchanged and transitions well to 3rd Edition interestingly enough, along with the one-page outline of a Simplified Battle Resolution System. There is no mention of Battlesystem, as by the time this adventure was released there’s enough mass combat rules (D20 and otherwise) that the adventure trusts gaming groups to use whichever ones suit their tastes best.

2. The AD&D version refers to the High Clerist’s Tower as the Clerist Keep in some places. All such mentions are changed in 3rd Edition to be consistent.

3. The journeys for travel time dispense with wilderness hex and give flat rates for travel based on their current location and there they wish to go to next.

4. The Tower of Crystyn is guarded over by a Retriever demon rather than being entirely abandoned. The PCs have to work to get their magical loot.

4. The magical items the Solamnic Knights can give the PCs from their treasure are mostly updated into their closest equivalents, with some exceptions: a Cloak of Invisibility becomes a Cloak of Resistance (bonus on all saving throws) while a +3 longsword becomes a +2 mighty cleaving longsword.

5. If Theodenes, the gnome DMPC from Dragons of Light, is still with the party and they visit Mount Nevermind, the gnomes express concern that the PCs are traveling with “a mad gnome” whose success rate with his inventions are too high, and they treat him passive-aggressively. If the other PCs complain or confront the gnomes’ poor treatment, they see the error of their ways and agree to start up a diversity relations program. It will take 13 months to get properly set up, but Theodenes will be greated better in the short term.

6. More maps. We have a nicely-detailed full-page map of the city of Palanthas:



The Tower itself (and the surrounding terrain for the mass combat battlemap) has maps in both, although the 3rd Edition the Towers are oriented slightly differently and are in black and white artwork spread out over several pages.

7. If the PCs meet Astinus to ask for advice on the Tower, artifacts, etc he has some in-character descriptions. This is in both Editions, but some bits of the text are changed slightly:

1st Edition posted:

Even as the Cataclysm rang across the land, it was placed carefully on a dais at the base of a great shaft surrounded by well-secured doors.

3rd Edition posted:

Orb—Even as the lost souls of the Tower wailed in agony, it was placed carefully on a dais at the base of a great shaft surrounded by well secured doors.

8. In the AD&D version it is mentioned that the PCs could gain the aid of Palanthas’ local army in exchange for 80% of treasure found in the High Clerist’s Tower. This option does not exist in the 3rd Edition version.

9. The precipitation on one of the higher-elevated passes to the Tower turns to snow, making it impassible for 14 days.

10. Yarus is 20th level rather than 23rd, but he’s still very powerful. We also get some full stat blocks for Lord Gunthar Uth Wistan, who is a rival of Derek Crownguard and both seek the seat of Grand Master (whose position is appointed by the Knight’s Grand Council).

11. There’s a vampire cleric of Sargonnas working in Lord Soth’s undead army. He has infiltrated the High Clerist’s Tower in search of a way to rally the ghostly forces within to serve the deathknight. Put privately he’s after a crown worn by the evil priest of Sargonnas believed to be interred within the tomb, in hopes that it will free him from Soth’s service. This Crown of Kurnos is equivalent to a Book of Vile Darkness, and wearing it counts as though reading from that accursed tome.

12. There’s no Battleystem rules, but there’s a side-bar detailing the numbers and divisions of the opposing armies during the battle along with brief statistics (60 2nd level human fighters, 180 bozak draconians, etc) for specific divisions along with their leaders if applicable.

13. The random treasure location table for the Tower has slightly altered magic item results, notably the replacement of artifact-level items such as the Book of Exalted Deeds/Infinite Spells with lesser yet still potent options like Bracers of Archery, Greater or Mace of Disruption. Additionally, each room is noted as a Possible Goal Artifact Location for things like the chess piece, Dragon Orb (yes there’s two), etc.

14. Some of the room-specific encounters have been incorporated into a random encounter table which the DM can trigger when the parties enter a new room or if there’s been a lul in action. Some of them have been altered a bit: the gully dwarves’ “secret mission” to find ‘the great steel marble’ was a result of a cleric of Morgion (disease and rot god) tricking them into recovering the Dragon Orb for himself. One member of the wandering kenders is given a stat block and name (Kipper Snifferdoo) and is actually a new cleric of Gilean (god of knowledge and leader of the Neutral gods). There’s a wingless undead dragon abomination known as “Sthank” which the aforementioned vampire cleric let loose in the tower to preemptively kill any living opposition that may be encountered in the Tower.

15. Vindar of Khurman, the guy who issues a one on one combat challenge to one of the Knights in the tower, has a more fully-realized stat block. He’s armed with a Sword of Life-Stealing which can bestow negative levels on an enemy and give the user temporary HP.

16. In the novels, Derek Crownguard met a most undignified end. In the AD&D version his fate is left up in the air and his only mention is for a leader stat block in the Battlesystem. But in 3rd Edition he will be one of the commanders who desperately mounts a suicidal run (“things will only get worse so we attack now) and the fate of him and those under his command is left to the GM. In AD&D, Crownguard’s PC card shows up in the next module, so I presume he is meant to survive.

Edit: Derek only performs this maneuver if the Knights' morale drops low enough (8 or less).

17. Although implied in the original AD&D version due to its sacred status, in 3rd Edition it is explicitly mentioned that Derek Crownguard and NPC/DMPC Knights will not accompany the PCs into the High Clerist’s Tower.

18. For PCs scouting into the enemy encampments proper, we have stat blocks for Bozak Elite Guardsmen (Bozak with levels in Sorcerer)* along with tougher-than-usual Baaz soldiers (levels in Fighter). In AD&D they were just run of the mill variety of draconian.

*In Dragonlance's 4th Age (the time of the Chronicles) spontaneous casters such as sorcerers did not exist, and Bards did not have magical powers (the Master class from War of the Lance was a partial substitute). However, dragons, fey, and other beings with an innate tie to the land and cosmos of creation could access such power without being bound to a god or the moons, and Bozak and Aurak draconians were natural sorcerers. However, the Dragonarmy propaganda taught that said draconians gained their power from Takhisis herself in an attempt to keep them in line.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 02:01 on Dec 20, 2019

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Omnicrom posted:

Fire Emblem 11/Shadow Dragon is the one and only FE that took after Valkyria Chronicles by having a mechanic such that if you were under a certain number of units after every map you were given mooks to make up the difference. Said mooks were pulled in from a big long list, had exactly baseline stats, and about halfway through that list (in the localization at least) you got characters with mocking names that essentially called you bad at the game for chewing through enough characters to see them.

I think fielding the team of Wymp, Laim, Auffle, Rejek and Wieklin is hilarious, but that's me.

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!


Libertad! posted:

8. In the AD&D version it is mentioned that the PCs could gain the aid of Palanthas’ local army in exchange for 80% of treasure found in the High Clerist’s Tower. This option does not exist in the 3rd Edition version.

I was going to mention this bit more, except... there are no stats for the Palanthus units, plus by the time the party has the treasure in the High Clerist's Tower, they can just bust out Yarus and the Ghost Guys anyway. It'd work if they could bribe them with the promise of treasure instead... but even then, no rules for it. Not even a suggestion that the assistance of another army would give the Solamnic Knights a morale boost.

Libertad! posted:

13. The random treasure location table for the Tower has slightly altered magic item results, notably the replacement of artifact-level items such as the Book of Exalted Deeds/Infinite Spells with lesser yet still potent options like Bracers of Archery, Greater or Mace of Disruption. Additionally, each room is noted as a Possible Goal Artifact Location for things like the chess piece, Dragon Orb (yes there’s two), etc.

The pre-presence of a Dragon Orb at the High Clerist's Tower always bugged me a bit. Like... the Dragon Orb from Icewall would have a narrative use if there wasn't one at the Tower, so the players could still activate the dragon trap, but as it is, it's just... pointless. It has no purpose in the story.

Libertad! posted:

16. In the novels, Derek Crownguard met a most undignified end. In the AD&D version his fate is left up in the air and his only mention is for a leader stat block in the Battlesystem. But in 3rd Edition he will be one of the commanders who desperately mounts a suicidal run (“things will only get worse so we attack now) and the fate of him and those under his command is left to the GM. In AD&D, Crownguard’s PC card shows up in the next module, so I presume he is meant to survive.

I had genuinely expected the module to kill off Sturm in this section, unless I misremembered his death from this bit. In each book it mentions that sometimes the narrative will call on a PC/NPC to die permanently, so I had expected a bit more of a bloodbath among PC's, I suppose.

Also Christ I completely forgot Theodenes the instant after he appeared. I suppose technically he and Vanderjack are also still with the party and at this point they've got a small army of hangers-on of their own, not counting all the animals, since it never specifically says when most of them actually leave.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

PurpleXVI posted:

I was going to mention this bit more, except... there are no stats for the Palanthus units, plus by the time the party has the treasure in the High Clerist's Tower, they can just bust out Yarus and the Ghost Guys anyway. It'd work if they could bribe them with the promise of treasure instead... but even then, no rules for it. Not even a suggestion that the assistance of another army would give the Solamnic Knights a morale boost.


The pre-presence of a Dragon Orb at the High Clerist's Tower always bugged me a bit. Like... the Dragon Orb from Icewall would have a narrative use if there wasn't one at the Tower, so the players could still activate the dragon trap, but as it is, it's just... pointless. It has no purpose in the story.

My theory is that there was concern that the PCs may somehow miss the Dragon Orb in Sleet's treasure hoard in Icewall Castle. But that feels like an rear end-pull. Also the discussion of the possibility of Feal-Thas surviving and returning later at the Stone Dragon in Dragons of Light, it makes me wonder if the Icewall Castle section was at some point an optional detour.

quote:

I had genuinely expected the module to kill off Sturm in this section, unless I misremembered his death from this bit. In each book it mentions that sometimes the narrative will call on a PC/NPC to die permanently, so I had expected a bit more of a bloodbath among PC's, I suppose.

Slight correction on my part: Derek only performs this if the Knights' morale drops low enough (8 or less).

quote:

Also Christ I completely forgot Theodenes the instant after he appeared. I suppose technically he and Vanderjack are also still with the party and at this point they've got a small army of hangers-on of their own, not counting all the animals, since it never specifically says when most of them actually leave.

Vanderjack and Silvart are called out as potential DMPCs to accompany the party into the Tower, along with Theodenes.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


The problem is that you're trying to whack all of that stuff on DnD, where martials have the binary choice of attacking or not, and the effect on the enemy is entirely based on damage - not shaking them, not making them reposition, etc.

Making regular attack into an auto hit doesn't solve poo poo, it just makes into a videogame autoattack, which is about as exciting.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





JcDent posted:

The problem is that you're trying to whack all of that stuff on DnD, where martials have the binary choice of attacking or not, and the effect on the enemy is entirely based on damage - not shaking them, not making them reposition, etc.

Making regular attack into an auto hit doesn't solve poo poo, it just makes into a videogame autoattack, which is about as exciting.
Yeah it does, it makes it so you don't have an extra step to see if you wasted your time or not. Old family secret.

Now if you want to advocate for everything being a move like in 4E I would agree with you but there is some room for just a plain vanilla "I attack the guy". You can even frame it as "in exchange for not doing anything more advanced, you just roll damage and do that damage, barring DR or whatever. Maybe you build up super meter."

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.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Mars: The Rich Part of Town

We’re finally here; Mars is the biggest player in the Solar System, the seat of the campaign’s adversary, and it gets the longest writeup in the book. Mars is defined by RAM, the former Russo-American Mercantile Combine, which rules pretty much all of the planet. The Martian people are prosperous, rich, well-educated, and all they have to put up with in return is a corporate dictatorship that governs every aspect of their lives.

Mars has been the most extensively terraformed of the planets, using techniques ranging from genetic manipulation to orbital mirrors to slamming ice asteroids onto the surface. Mars has two large seas, the Boreal Sea in the northern polar region and the Sea of Hellas south of the equator. The Boreal Sea has already been seeded with genetically engineered marine life, but the Sea of Hellas is still being stocked. There’s also a series of lakes called the Marineris Chain, and with all this water even the relatively undeveloped highlands of Mars have some plant life.

There are two major population centers on Mars. Coprates Chasm is on the edge of the Marineris Basin, is home to sixty million people, most of whom live in arcologies along the chasm wall, though many RAM executives live in pyramids at the bottom. It’s a giant city-state covering a few hundred miles of the canyon. The other major population center is based around the Mars-Pavonis Space Elevator, a massive feat of engineering rooted at the top of Pavonis Mons, an extinct volcano located on the equator. It’s described in more detail in the Technology Book, suffice it to say it’s 146 miles tall and has habitation all up and down its “stalk”. Beyond this there are a few agricultural settlements in the far North near the Boreal Sea, and the Martian Free States scattered around the highlands, which are also inhabited by the Desert Runners.



Martian cities tend to be built as arcologies, with clean geometric designs, the pyramid being a favorite. Martian citizens have a very yuppie thing going, lots of suits, mostly in red, gray, brown, and black. Blue is only worn by the Workers, who are on the bottom of the social hierarchy. Again, RAM makes this all one giant police state, with everyone under constant surveillance and Enforcers around to kill, torture, and blackmail anyone caught doing anything illegal.

There follows a bit of history of RAM itself. After the whole Masterlink incident and the brief war which followed, the Soviet Union collapsed into division and confusion, and the US wasn’t in much better shape. With neither powerful enough to push the other around, they formed an alliance just as others were emerging and the SSA was formed. Terraforming Mars was a harsh and brutal affair at times, and the Russo-American joint government exercised harsh control over the colonists. As the citizenry grew tougher, RAM grew too big for the rest of the SSA to control, and the resulting Ten Year War cemented RAM as a totalitarian government with a corporate structure. The current government is compared- almost inevitably- to the Japanese corporate empires of the 20th Century, taking control of workers from cradle to grave, only the Japanese corporations don’t have secret police.

RAM’s current President is Simund Holzerhein, and has been for a hundred and fifty years. His actual body is in cryogenic suspension underneath his estate on the forest of Pavonis; the Simund running things is his uploaded digital personality, inhabiting the RAM Main Computer. He also has various family members in key positions, and control of the subdivisions gets regularly passed around between over a hundred family groups. While RAM has a lot of branches, the part players will generally be concerned with is RAM Security, which controls both their internal secret police and their system-wide military operations.

RAM Security is broken into five divisions. Internal Affairs is described as a descendant of the KGB and CIA, and they make up the secret police, broken up into Enforcers and Interrogators. IA personnel tend to be hardened veterans, and many are cybernetically enhanced. The book even takes pains to point out that the secret police sometimes do good things, they’re still doing terrorism and murder and making use of mind control drugs and subliminal messaging.

Corporate Security are low-level guards and grunts, and only assigned to low-priority work. The Space Assault Corps is the space division, representing five fleets full of battlers, heavy cruisers, fighters, etc. RAM never has problems getting ships. Ground Enforcement Corps are garrison troops and the front lines of most ground operations, quickly trained, sometimes genetically modified to handle different environments (though the way the book phrases this is a touch confusing.) The Planetary Assault Corps is a rung above, heavily armed and armored Jump Marines often given cybernetic enhancement. Finally you have the Bio Mechanized Assault Forces- the Terrines. The Terrines are given the best of combat tech and cybernetic enhancement, and it’s said any two of them are equal to a whole squad of regular fighting men. There aren’t that many Terrine squads, thankfully- the development of Terrine soldiers has a high mortality rate and there are only about a thousand Terrines available at any given time.

RAM’s military policy can be summed up as a continued plan for expansion, going back to the colonial days when they were fighting the Martian environment. They’ve got a good foothold on Earth, but have yet to subjugate it completely, and they want to take that before moving on to Luna and Venus. They’re wary of starting a war with any of the other major powers of the Solar System; they’re not quite ready for that. It’s a strategy described as similar to the Nazis, waiting to strike until they’re sure of their position. Venus and Mercury are their major adversaries, and ships from all three planets tend to keep their distance as they patrol the spacelanes. Right now they don’t see NEO as a major threat, and their attention is turned towards Venus and Mercury. This may change.

The section finishes up with a look at Mars’ satellites. Phobos is the other end of the Mars-Pavonis Space Elevator, dragged into geosynchronous orbit, hollowed out, and filled with spacedocks, warehouses, hotels, etc. Deimos was originally used as a construction shack in the early terraforming of Mars, and is now home to a major fleet base, space academy, and detention facility for military and political prisoners.

I would have liked more detail on the Martian highlands and what the Desert Runners are up to in all this, but Mars got a lot of attention during the game’s lifespan and so more is detailed in other books. I also kinda like how RAM is given a kind of collective motivation, the idea of a tough colonial mindset turning into a fascist ideology as soon as they get the upper hand.

Holidays will probably distract me for a bit, but after that, we will head into the Asteroid Field!

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Nessus posted:

Yeah it does, it makes it so you don't have an extra step to see if you wasted your time or not. Old family secret.

Now if you want to advocate for everything being a move like in 4E I would agree with you but there is some room for just a plain vanilla "I attack the guy". You can even frame it as "in exchange for not doing anything more advanced, you just roll damage and do that damage, barring DR or whatever. Maybe you build up super meter."

Look, I played Dragon Age 2, doing boring attacks until one or two of your abilities recharges is not fun.

Now, since I'm taking some saber classes, I can say that there's more to fighting mano-a-mano(or a-orco) than just the hit/no hit binary. Feinting, taunting, countering... even getting tired!

By God, if I can be angry about shootman games reducing firefights to hit/no hit, I can get mad about melee as well.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





JcDent posted:

Look, I played Dragon Age 2, doing boring attacks until one or two of your abilities recharges is not fun.

Now, since I'm taking some saber classes, I can say that there's more to fighting mano-a-mano(or a-orco) than just the hit/no hit binary. Feinting, taunting, countering... even getting tired!

By God, if I can be angry about shootman games reducing firefights to hit/no hit, I can get mad about melee as well.

Yeah actual fencing is way, way more fun and complicated than anything a D&D fighter gets to do. Half the things you learn in your first month fencing require elaborate feat chains for non-4E Fighters, or have penalties to pull off despite the whole point being they make your job easier.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One approach I actually quite like is the one in the AGE system, where you build your own special attacks and stunts out of a points pool when you roll doubles on 3d6. It's a surprisingly nice solution to getting rid of the dozens of 'I do X' 'martial maneuvers' littering games like WHFRP and D&D by just folding them into the attack and mostly making them available to anyone.

Turns out people are way more likely to use 'situational' abilities like maneuvering someone or disarming them when those things generally go off automatically when you get a special attack result and if you don't, you still hit someone and hurt them (or you do the thing in addition to hurting them). Which produced some pretty fun fights in the Resident Evil game I used it for.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Joe Slowboat posted:

Yeah actual fencing is way, way more fun and complicated than anything a D&D fighter gets to do. Half the things you learn in your first month fencing require elaborate feat chains for non-4E Fighters, or have penalties to pull off despite the whole point being they make your job easier.

It also includes quite a few whiffs.

On a related issue, precision strikes? gently caress off, you're always targeting some part of the opponent and not just flailing and hoping for the best.

The probably insane/least realistic approach to this was either some early DnD or other game that made you roll for what hand-to-hand attack you made.

"Ugh, yeah, as a trained fighter, I have no loving clue of what I'm going to do"

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I think Secret of Zir'An had a system where you "spend" your margin of success to achieve different effects, the simplest of which was more damage.

There's also Burning Wheel's scripted combat, but I don't know how many people want to do that.

Night10194 posted:

One approach I actually quite like is the one in the AGE system, where you build your own special attacks and stunts out of a points pool when you roll doubles on 3d6.
This sounds similar to Fragged Empire's system where you have options for "Strong Hits" (any time you roll a 6 in their 3d6 system).

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

I think Secret of Zir'An had a system where you "spend" your margin of success to achieve different effects, the simplest of which was more damage.

There's also Burning Wheel's scripted combat, but I don't know how many people want to do that.

This sounds similar to Fragged Empire's system where you have options for "Strong Hits" (any time you roll a 6 in their 3d6 system).

What happens is you roll 3d6, and the 3rd d6 is the 'stunt die'. If you get doubles on any of the dice, you get Stunt Points equal to the Stunt Die's roll, which you can spend on a table of effects to build your special move for that roll. Talents and stuff can modify how much Stunts cost or give you extra Stunt points (the leadership tree giving allies bonus Stunt Points while you're around is awesome).

The ease of moving people around with a two-handed weapon meant that the very strong character with a pipe sent a fair number of zombies and other foes flying. But what are you putting cliffs in your fight scene for if not to have the option of throwing things off a cliff?

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


Wicked Little Critta

Wild Lands plunges straight into character creation. The first thing you’re asked to do is pick the species of your character, since this is a funny-animal game.

On one hand, as a very first-time thing, it’s kinda interesting to just present your players with an aesthetic choice and have them pick whatever appeals to them first. On the other, you’re asking your players to make a meaningful mechanical decision along with that choice, without knowing literally anything about the game system, and it’s devoid of impact if you play the game more than once. There’s also some implied knowledge throughout the game you’d only have if you had played tabletop games before, and in some systems that’s fine, but it says right on the cover this game is for ages twelve and up.

Some kind of briefing about the resolution system should be mandatory for any game under the sun. Don’t let your players make uneducated choices.

There’s a callout text in the intro to chargen that I treasure. It reads

quote:

No matter what the player’s artistic ability, it is highly recommended that they doodle a portrait of their character before playing if able.

And I love this. You can tell this came from a writer who teaches illustration. There’s a spot blocked out for it on the character sheet, too. A+, this is great and I want it in more games.

The term “critter” is used in place of “people,” which rubs me the wrong way for reasons I can’t really put my finger on. Your critter type can give you a stat bump, a special ability, or a bump to derived stats. Nothing gives you negatives, which is always a good sign. But! What mechanical benefits you get are wildly variable, and there’s not been any effort toward balance made here.


A lineup of some of the critters.

Note that in the above image, you can see the unit marker off to the left side there. It’s called a “stalk.”

I cannot stand cutesy special names for common things that should be otherwise instantly comprehensible to a lay person. Thankfully, Wild Lands never reaches Cranian levels of excess with this gimmick, but it’s a loving subsitution cipher in the middle of what’s intended to be a reference document. Here, a stalk is a foot. Like, to the point where an early release of the game had “foot” typoed into place of “stalk” a few times. Currency does this too, and we’ll touch on that towards the end of this update.

Each critter gets a full-page spread with color illustrations. There’s a blurb on their general appearances and personalities, usually with a specific callout toward height. I get noting how big or small a thing is in a Redwallish game is, but it’s got a lot of numbers attached to it for something that I haven’t actually found associated with a mechanic. I’m hoping I’m missing something and I’ll trip over it in the course of this F&F.


Meese.

Mice
One generic unit of adventurer. Humans from D&D. You can read the blurb above, but I want to call out a few things. One, apparently there’s enough magic around and it’s commonplace enough that mice use it to give themselves punk dye jobs. This isn’t touched on much in the setting chapter, and that seems like a misstep.

Two, can you tell me in a vacuum the value of +1 Int? Or whether being able to sprint at 2x speed is worth giving up your other actions that turn?

Let’s get into that.

Chargen goes pick critter, roll stats, pick skills, buy gear.

The stats are

Physicality - strength and con together, called out as favored for combat characters. Determines HP.
Agility - Speed and acrobatic ability. It’s dex, but also your move rate.
Intellect - Int. Less useful since there aren’t spell slots, but pretty huge. Determines MP, which we have instead of spell slots.
Social - It’s Cha, and the only thing it does is let you make social rolls.

Stats are generated by rolling 5d6 and dropping the lowest. Assign the remaining values of your choosing to your stats. If I rolled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, I could then make a character with P 5 A 4 I 2 S 3, ferinstance.

Your stats determine your dice pools when making tests. But hold up, because we have to do derived stats before we get to the resolution mechanic.

HP is Phys x6. But there’s a death spiral! If you’re below 50% HP, you take -1 die to all your rolls, and -2 if you’re under -25%. It’s 2019 and there’s no reason for poor-get-poorer mechanics in your high adventure games anymore.

MP is Int x5. MP regenerates after a 6-hour rest, or specifically noted as going back to full when you rest at an inn - no word on how long you have to kick up your feet in front of the fire, though. If you’re out of MP and want to use an ability, you can burn HP instead.

Movement is Agi x 9.

Evasion comes out of the blue with the resolution mechanic, and being a derived stat, and it's run off a table instead of a formula, AND it’s another drat step in combat that should be a to-hit value. Evasion scales with AGI in a staggered every-other-level fashion, except if you have Agi 1, where you just don’t get anything. Great in a system with random stats.

You can roll a number of Evasion die to counter an attack against you, up to your total number per round. Now we have tracking a depleting pool, too.

The actual resolution mechanic in this game is to roll a pool of d6s, then count the number that come up five or six. Those are your successes. For Evasion, evasion successes cancel out attack successes. Okay, straight forward. Why weren’t we clued in on this earlier?

Skills aren’t great! You get two skill points. Each skill point gives you +1 die to your pool when the skill would be relevant. Two skills ain’t much, especially considering you’re told to invent the skill list yourself. There are some examples, and they key off the abilities - as an example, the Agility examples include Swords, Tumbling, Leaping, Balancing, Card Tricks, and Sleight of Hand.

(There is a sidebar indicating that if all the players agree, they can override the GM to say that a skill is applicable in a given situation. This is Extremely Weird, and smacks of some tense moments during playtesting.)

Okay. So, why would you pose example skills that have built-in redundancy, and how is a bonus die at stabbing someone equivalent to knowing how to do a card force?

It gets better, though, because when you level up, you’re not given a set of powers to choose from. You can pick one of these three options:

Get 1 skill point, which you can use to learn a new skill. They do stack, at least, if you want to specialize.
Gain 6 HP. That’s one point in Physicality, but without the increase to your dice pool.
Gain 5 MP. As above, but with Intellect.

That’s a crappy reward, especially considering that XP is individually tracked. There’s D&D style XP tracker you have to use to determine if you level, and for some reason it stops at level 7. Skills are the only way to increase your dice pools that I can find, and they do so very slowly. No new abilities, no new mechanics from leveling, just a bonus die, if you don’t need to try harder to not die, or have juice for your gimmick.

All of this is on top of a probability curve that sucks. An average difficulty requires two successes. Keep in mind you’re rolling a d6 to determine your pool. Roll really badly and you may not have the ability to accomplish the most basic tasks unless you’ve spent some of your very rare, though unfortunately not very valuable, skill points on whatever that subject may be.

Keep all this in mind while I run down the rest of the critters.

Phooka
Things take a sharp dive right off the bat with the Phooka. Imagine the mouse illustration, but they’ve got moogle pom-poms at the end of their tails and little devil horns. These are fey critters from the elemental plane. You know what that means, right? They’re dangerously kenderish.

Phooka get +10 MP, and can float. So, they get the least useful part of +2 Int, and they can float ten feet stalks per round. How high? Dunno, doesn’t say, it’s narrative. That’s an objectively suboptimal choice, and it’s a hidden flaw until you’re familiar with the game.

Pech
Before we get moles, we get stone moles. They look like tiny armadillos, and their colors are sexually dimorphic.

Pech receive +12 HP, and the Stone Armor ability, which they can use at will, either on themselves or someone within three stalks. Stone Armor gives less Armor Points to a target than the most basic armor in the game.

Moles
They’re dwarves.

Moles are boring to talk about, but they consistently have the best art in the game. More of that later.

Moles get +1 Phy, and can see up to 30 bales in the dark. “What’s a bale,” you ask. Well, as the next chapter helpfully points out, a bale is the measure of range. One bale equals one bale.



What it actually means is “30 grid squares.” Much, much later in the book, we find out that a bale is three stalks, so each grid square is three feet. But sprinting is measured in stalks. Got it all?

Voles
Moles Voles are halflings. There’s almost as many of them as there are mice. We’re told they have a city, which is implied to be of some import. They’re quite small.

Voles gain +1 Soc and +1 die to any stealth rolls. So, actually pretty good, or at least efficient.

Squirrels
These are “less common,” but we’re not given a point of comparison. They’re wood elves, and come in black, white and grey varieties. But also, squirrels can come in black, white, brown, grey, golden, and red shades.

Squirrels receive +1 Agi and +2 to any climbing checks. Two dice is a big bonus! It absolutely does not stack up to a +1 to stealth checks in any way, let alone some of the +2 ability bonuses we’ll see shortly.

Rabbits
Rabbits are guardians, brought up to believe in service and justice as noble pursuits. They often become paladins or clerics. At the very least, that’s a more interesting take than “they’re cowards” or “they like reproducing” like you might expect.

Rabbits get +1 Int, +1 Soc, and can jump 3x their height.

Put aside the fact you can freely set your character’s height. Rabbits are about three to 3.5 stalks tall, while a mouse is usually around 1.75 to 2 stalks in height. Let’s assume a mouse is of average Agility, which means that they can sprint 18 grid squares in a full round, to the exclusion of all other things. An average rabbit would move 9 grid squares, still have a minor and a standard action, and since jumping isn’t called out as any kind of special movement, vertically leap three grid squares in height as a freebie. Keep in mind the rabbit gets a bonus Social die on top of everything the mouse gets.

Hobs
Bat goblins, that used to be rabbits before [REDACTED].

Hobs are resistant to dark/void damage, and for the cost of 10 MP, can turn into a shadowy bat that moves at four times their normal speed. So, faster than our mouse, again lets you act normally, has a specific duration not keyed to combat rounds, and you can’t do it ever if you rolled a 1 for your Int.

Ichneumon
Aasimars to the Hob’s tieflings, I think they’re some kind of celestial ferret? They glow in the dark, and the lady Ichneumon is dressed like a barbarian samurai. I’m not particularly sure what’s up here, truth told.

Everything goes immediately to hell in the rules section, because Ichneumon can detect evil in a 60 stalk (remember, 20 grid squares) range. Yes, creatures come in objectively Evil and Neutral types. gently caress! They also have Lay on Hands, but it heals 3d6 HP, and that’s kind of an odd decision. They’re limited by MP, rather than attempts per day or HP total per day, at least.

Otters
They’re really tall, and “otter adventurers are unique in that they can fight monsters deep underwater where other critters cannot go without magic.” This is a gigantic can of worms to crack open, because the only mechanical support you can even remotely associate with that statement is that otters can hold their breath for ten minutes - they get to be Guybrush as their power.

Otters take +1 Agi and +1 Phy, which should really be +1 Phy and +1 Agi.

Badgers
The tallest thing in the setting that’s a playable character, as specifically noted in this entry. Solitary and stoic.

Badgers are the only PC species to get a full +2 ability, to Physicality. They can also rage in combat, giving them +2 dice for all melee attack rolls until the end of the fight, after which they have to rest for twelve hours.

So, +4 dice, which is more than most critters will get to start with, and it lasts an indeterminate time, plus it recharges at a rate that doesn’t match any of the other rest intervals.

okay

The next update will cover equipment. We’ll be here a while. In the meantime, I invite you to consider a logic puzzle. Place these units in order, smallest to largest: nut, berry and grain.

grassy gnoll fucked around with this message at 16:43 on Dec 20, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Modern AGE

Post 1: All Mechanics, All the Time

Modern AGE is an attempt at creating a 'generic' action-adventure system for modern and urban fantasy adventures, designed by Malcolm Sheppard and based on an engine made by Chris Pramas, the lead designer from WHFRP 2e. From what I can tell, much of the stunt and dice system from this game came out of lessons learned designing WHFRP2e; lots of it strikes me as an attempt to make things that never really came up in WHFRP useful. Similarly, the shift to a 3d6 dice pool instead of a d100 and 'having the skill just gives you a bonus' skill system makes a system that produces generally competent action-hero type PCs. I've used it for one campaign and played in one campaign using it, and if you like conventional RPGs (as I tend to) it's pretty good. There are some awkward parts, some bits that aren't as well thought out, and some oddities, but the base system is competent and the Stunt system is genuinely fun for action scenes, even if it can be a little awkward outside of combat.

However, as it's an attempt at a generic system (it reminds me of Cinematic Unisystem, really) there is no fluff attached to this book. There's plenty of advice on using this book to play in other settings or adapting it to different tones and types of modern action-adventure gaming, but it's pretty light on story and fluff. Which means this will be both a shorter dive, and probably a bit dry since it's going to be nothing but a look at game mechanics.

The entirety of the system is based around the d6. You roll 3d6 for every test, with the third die noted as the 'stunt die'. This die generates extra points for spending for narrative benefits or special attacks when you roll doubles, but it also determines degree of success (if that's important) and sometimes you'll add it to damage or healing or something else if you have an ability. A normal roll in AGE is 3d6+Stat, +bonuses for stuff like having a Focus (skill) in what you're doing or bonuses from your Talents. Characters are constructed entirely out of a stat list, a few Focuses, and their Talents. It's also a 1-20 level system, but each level is just '+1 Stat, +1 Talent, +1 Focus'. Stats soft-cap at 5, with it costing 2 levels to go up to 6 from there. In a game with a base DC of 11-13 and a 3d6 roll? There's good reason to soft cap the stats there. A Focus is a narrow skill that grants +2 to rolls relating to it. Say I'm an academic and have Intelligence Focus (Biology) and a 3 Int, I roll 3d6+3 for most academics checks but 3d6+5 for Biology. While stats can be negative, or 0, the 'average' for a PC is a 1, giving them good odds of hitting a DC 11 'average' check even in stats they aren't focusing on.

The stats are self-explanatory for the most part: Accuracy (Shooting people), Communications (Talking, charisma, etc), Constitution (Taking hits, the base of your Toughness, which resists some kinds of damage), Dexterity (Dodging hits, the base of your Defense, which is the difficulty to hit you in combat), Fighting (Punching people), Intelligence (Thinking), Perception (Spotting, doing damage with ranged weapons), Strength (Smashing, doing damage with melee weapons), and Willpower (Self control). You have the option of rolling for stats, and the rolling array is generally designed to produce similar overall stats to point buy, but the point buy method is better balanced considering the importance of your base stats. The rolling method (roll 3d6, check on a chart, see what result that gave you. Produces mostly ones and twos, very unlikely to produce below one, reasonably likely to give you one three) is presented as default and can be roll-down-the-line or roll and assign. Otherwise you just get 12 stat points to spend on your abilities, maximum 3 in any ability. Like I said, the point buy system is better balanced and stats are significant enough that I'd generally prefer to use it.

You also roll for background and social class, which is a bit odd but I don't mind that kind of randomization and it's easy enough to just pick if you prefer. If you got a higher class background, you can always pick a base career attached to a lower class background as you 'slum it' at the cost of your Resources stat (though you'll still be richer than someone who was actually lower class). I have the feeling some of this is the legacy of stuff like WHFRP, but again: You can just choose if the randomness annoys you. The various 'backgrounds' give one randomized bonus rolled on 2d6 (usually +1 to a stat or one Focus) and then a base +1 to a stat, a choice of two Focuses, and a choice of two Talents. For instance, an Aristocrat rolls on a table that can produce +1 Accuracy, +2 Resources (We'll get into those in a bit), Communications (Persuasion), Dexterity (Riding), +1 Perception, Communications (Gambling), Communications (Leadership), or +1 Willpower. They also get +1 Communications, a choice of Communications (Etiquette) or Intelligence (History) and then the Affluent or Contacts Talents at rank 1.

Your Profession isn't a character class, but rather what you did (and might still do) prior to being an adventure story protagonist. These give your base Resources (You roll Resources vs. Purchase DC to get new stuff or buy favors), base HP, an extra Focus, and an extra Talent. They're simple things like "Security" or "Soldier" or "Scholar". Finally, you pick a main Drive for your character that gives you another Talent and an 'improvement' to your HP, Resources, contacts, reputation, etc. Things like 'Rebel' or 'Builder', you know the drill.

The Focuses are generally very narrow, but because they're much more 'a significant bonus on top of your wide base of competence' I'm okay with that. A character with a 3 Dexterity, for instance? Real good at pretty much everything involving Dexterity, just they'll be even better at stuff involving any Focuses they have. This is generally a very positive change from the fairly restrictive skills in something like Warhams. Given the engines have the same lead designer and I see the bones of Hams in this game, I'll be comparing the two sometimes. Talents are much like in WHFRP or 40kRP, except they all have 3 levels and most are actually pretty neat. Lots of them adjust Stunt costs and gains in and out of combat, or otherwise interact with the Stunt system. Most of them are quite useful. It's also pretty easy to get a Talent you're focusing on to level 3; you might be able to start with it at 2 from your Career and stuff, and you gain 1 per level with fairly few restrictions on spending them. It's not hard to get to Master in something you want to be good at; those third tiers on the Talents aren't some super far off and distant thing, but rather something you can get in 2 levels if you have the first level already.

You also have Relationships, equal to 1 OR your ranks in Communication, whichever is higher. These are the people, organizations, etc so important to your character that they can inspire your actions. They can naturally be good or bad. Relationships between PCs can only be by consent; both players must agree on the bond and the nature of the bond. You can have up to 3 points in a Relationship, but you may only start with 2 in any individual Relationship at PC creation. These get activated to give you bonus Stunt Points on an action related to that person or bond once per session.

Another important part of the game is deciding if you're playing in Gritty, Pulp, or Cinematic mode. Gritty is basically 'don't get into combat, ever' and isn't particularly well balanced for a system where you're going to generally score hits in a fight. If you're playing in Gritty mode, you will never increase HP as you level up and you'll get access to instant-kill stunts and things. Gritty characters can't soak damage from melee weapons or guns, either; only from fists and stuff. The lack of DR and the low HP generally means Constitution is much less useful in a Gritty game, and Dex will be king in any combat encounter because it's basically all going to be rocket tag. Pulp is the middle ground, where you gain 1+Con HP a level (also retroactively improving HP if you put Con up later), you get to soak non-gun damage with your Con, and Pulp generally feels like the 'default' play mode for the game. Cinematic lets you soak all kinds of damage with Con, gives you tons more HP, and makes crazy stunts and mook rules part of the game. Throughout the game you'll find sidebars talking about how to adjust rules for the three play modes. I generally don't think Gritty is particularly well balanced or well thought out, but the game I ran was in Pulp and it worked pretty great. Cinematic mostly just makes the PCs way more powerful in a fight but doesn't fundamentally change things quite the way Gritty does.

All in all, it's pretty simple, though there's a fair amount of flip time as you get used to creating character. In general, Modern AGE feels like a mixture of Cinematic Unisystem (in that it's a 'generic' system that manages to be decent at what it tries to do) and lessons learned from the Hams games and their design. Probably why I ended up liking it, considering I'll always have a fondness for Cinematic Unisystem and the combat system in AGE does actually fix most of my niggles about Hams. Also, as a nice bit: The game explains what each mechanical option is doing for you at each phase of character creation, and you know the resolution system and the general scale of DCs by the time you're building your PC. It's nice to be informed and that's one of the values of a fairly simple task resolution mechanic.

Next Time: Example PC!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Halloween Jack posted:

I think Secret of Zir'An had a system where you "spend" your margin of success to achieve different effects, the simplest of which was more damage.

Storypath does this too - though depending on which game in the system, your first bit of damage might be free, or it might not be.

90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006
:gay:


Nuts are biggest because they come from trees. Berries are smallest, because they come from bushes that are smaller than grain stalks.

That writeup was disappointing but I am eager to see more Moles. Jesus though, detect evil?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


You weren't kidding about this being super heartbreakery.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Welp, there goes my enthusiasm.

Grain's smaller than nut's smaller than berry.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


JcDent posted:

Now, since I'm taking some saber classes, I can say that there's more to fighting mano-a-mano(or a-orco) than just the hit/no hit binary. Feinting, taunting, countering... even getting tired!

Burning Wheel. It even has those things (except getting tired) in the social combat! It's good!

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


EthanSteele posted:

Burning Wheel. It even has those things (except getting tired) in the social combat! It's good!

I like all that in Burning Wheel (and Blade of the Iron Throne, etc), but the thought of trying to run all that with a big group of people is maddening.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Modern AGE

Post 2: This is why you don't roll stats

We'll be making a rolled character, to show off that rolled characters often have more or less than 12 stat points total and demonstrate why the rolled system does not balance as well. Since I used this system for a Resident Evil game (and generally would use it in place of All Flesh Must Be Eaten in the future), assume this is a protagonist for a Resident Evil Spinoff.

Our hero starts off strong with a 15 (15-17 gets you 3) for Accuracy, so 3 Accuracy. Then a 13 (12+ gets you 2) netting them 2 Comm. A 10 for Con is still a 1 (9+ is 1), and a 12 gets a 2 Dex. An 11 gets a 1 Fighting, 7 gets 0 Intelligence (You have to roll 5 or lower, on 3d6, to get a -1), 8 gets 0 Perception, 17 gets 3 Strength, and 15 gets 3 Willpower. Note this adds up to 3+2+1+2+1+0+0+3=15 character points. This character is 3 points ahead of a point-buy character. Yes, their attributes are distributed a little randomly (they'd probably like the 3 Strength in Perception to go with Accuracy, or the 3 Accuracy in Fighting), but you can also choose to roll and then assign your scores if you wish. In general, higher or lower total rolled stats will put a character much more significantly ahead than they would in a system like Warhammer; the differences between a 1 and a 3 are much more significant than the variations you'd get in WHFRP 2e. I understand enjoying rolling for concept generation, but it would be easier to come up with something else rather than risking unbalancing characters this way.

This character will be a young woman, and since she's kind of a lunkhead but she's boulder-punching strong, we'll name her Christina. Rolling a d6 for Background and getting a 3, she's Lower Class. Rolling again for actual background, she's from a laboring/working class family. She gets Focus: Fighting (Brawler) for her 2d6 table result. Being a Laborer gets her +1 Constitution, plus Strength (Might) or Dexterity (Crafting). She's strong as hell, so she takes Strength (Might). With a 2 Con, 2 Dex, and 3 Strength, Christina is in excellent shape even for an action hero. She gets her choice of an Unarmed Combat Style Talent or Party Animal for being a Laborer, so she'll take Striking Style and punch like she had a knife on her at all times. She's well equipped to punch a zombie's head off. Rolling her actual Profession, she gets a 5; Clergy OR she can take the Outsider option of Fixer. At the same time, a badass Methodist Elder who can put a Hunter in a headlock is awesome, so she's taking Clergy. That gets her Intelligence (Theology) or Willpower (Faith), and she's taking Willpower (Faith). She gets 15+Con starting HP (17), Inspire or Oratory (And takes Inspire, it's an awesome Talent), and she's got okay Resources at 4. Her 2 Comm means she's still good with people, but a 3 Willpower and her +2 in matters where her faith comes up means she's basically completely unshakeable. Remember, this is a 3d6 system and a DC 13 is 'hard'. Needing an 8+ is really good odds.

She takes the Leader drive, because she's a community leader who always finds herself at the forefront of things. This gives her the ability to take Inspire (Expert) since she can gain it again. She also takes Health for her Drive Improvement and raises her HP to 22. She's tough as nails, she punches like she had a knife or club, she's in good shape, she's brave as hell, but she's not the smartest hero. Her 2 ranks of Inspire both give all her allies +1 Willpower while she's conscious and around, but she can also spend a full turn yelling inspiring things to give her allies d6+Comm HP back and a +2 on their next test once per battle. Which is great. One more level of Inspire and she'll start giving allies +1 Stunt Points on every Stunt (combat or non) if she's around, because she's such a good leader.

Also pretty drat good with a gun, which is a nice plus. Elder Christina is nobody to gently caress with. As you can see, even at level 1 she's a pretty capable general action-adventure character. Even having a 1 or 2 in a stat is already enough to be 'decent' with everything that stat does. Some situations might call for you to have a Focus or be unable to work with them, though; you might have a 4 Int but if you have no training at all with computers, unless you have the Improvisation Talent or the Theory and Practice Talent, you might not be able to try a hacking check. Improv lets you always attempt checks even if you don't have the Focus the GM called for, while Theory and Practice lets you substitute intellectual Focuses for much more physical ones at a minor penalty. In general, as long as you have a +3 or better total check, it's safe to say your character is genuinely 'good' at a thing. So Christina there is 'good' with all guns and thrown weapons, good with her fists, strong as hell, and completely unshakeable. At actual feats of might (like busting down a door or lifting a stalled car's wheel out of a ditch), she's truly exceptional. Just don't ask her to solve puzzles or hunt for clues.

Next Time: More on Talents and Focuses

StratGoatCom
Aug 6, 2019

Our security is guaranteed by being able to melt the eyeballs of any other forum's denizens at 15 minutes notice




Quick question about post formatting? I've got my first EP F&F ready, but I'm not sure how to get it all in - do you edit to add the extra text or do I have to buy plat?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Is the problem that it's too long for a single post or something? If so, break it into multiple posts.

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!


JcDent posted:

It also includes quite a few whiffs.

On a related issue, precision strikes? gently caress off, you're always targeting some part of the opponent and not just flailing and hoping for the best.

The probably insane/least realistic approach to this was either some early DnD or other game that made you roll for what hand-to-hand attack you made.

"Ugh, yeah, as a trained fighter, I have no loving clue of what I'm going to do"

I can kind of see this one making sense, though, like, if each round isn't just a single swipe, but an exchange back and forth, you may in fact not know what openings you have to exploit until your opponent makes his move and you've got his measure.

Night10194 posted:

What happens is you roll 3d6, and the 3rd d6 is the 'stunt die'. If you get doubles on any of the dice, you get Stunt Points equal to the Stunt Die's roll, which you can spend on a table of effects to build your special move for that roll. Talents and stuff can modify how much Stunts cost or give you extra Stunt points (the leadership tree giving allies bonus Stunt Points while you're around is awesome).

I have to admit, this sounds like something that would regularly slow combat to a crawl, if everyone has to decide what they're doing after making their rolls and then slowly cobbling together a series of choices from that. On the other hand, I can see the attraction in a system where you always accomplish something, even if that's just "distracted enemy" or "did minimum damage," but pick your option off a list of eventual results. It feels like it would need to have a relatively limited list of specific moves, though, rathe than a table to build special combos out of, in order for it to move with any speed.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

I have to admit, this sounds like something that would regularly slow combat to a crawl, if everyone has to decide what they're doing after making their rolls and then slowly cobbling together a series of choices from that. On the other hand, I can see the attraction in a system where you always accomplish something, even if that's just "distracted enemy" or "did minimum damage," but pick your option off a list of eventual results. It feels like it would need to have a relatively limited list of specific moves, though, rathe than a table to build special combos out of, in order for it to move with any speed.

It only slows it down until you're used to the list, in practice. It's easy to see stuff like 'set up my ally for a team attack' or 'do more damage' and pick from there. I found it made for really entertaining combats and made lots of things that usually get ignored when they otherwise replace an attack actually get used. I didn't find it any slower than running something like D20.

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