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JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


90s Cringe Rock posted:

My mobile internet's trying to save me by not letting the twitter hellsite work right now but the tragic meat machine tweet seems relevant here.

I'm about a year away from getting an implant that streams twitter to my brain so I could be angry all the time (I'm calling it "Butcher's Nails"), so here's the good tweet:

https://twitter.com/mspowahs/status/957995279092875264

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ADBOT LOVES YOU

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I remember that thread.

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:

I’ll just go on and scratch a few more checks in the “Eclipse Phase may in fact suck rear end” column.

Eclipse Phase does in fact suck rear end. The mechanics are a mess and generally poorly thought-through, with a bunch of vestigial systems that most sane players will ignore, and the only reason it gets any praise is either rabid transhumanists(I mean, I get it, who wouldn't love to be a killer robot or get their brain swapped into an effortless perfectbody, but that doesn't make the game good) or people who notice the heavy left-wing slant and go: "ah, it hates capitalists, that's good. the rest of it must be good, too..."

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Kaza42 posted:

It's a decent fanfic, given the steep grading curve that implies. It has some genuinely good bits, some genuinely bad bits and a lot of mediocre bits. It probably doesn't deserve the heavy scorn it gets from some people, but definitely doesn't deserve the worship its biggest fans give it
It's a cult recruiting tool, just like the other super big Harry Potter fanfic.

echopapa
Jun 2, 2005

El Presidente smiles upon this thread.

Terrible Opinions posted:

It's a cult recruiting tool, just like the other super big Harry Potter fanfic.

What cult is My Immortal recruiting for?

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





My Immortal isn't a fanfict it's art.

I was referring to Dumbledore's Army.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Out-of-sequence post: does anyone have any questions/suggestions/requests w/r/t Cult Ranks in Degenesis? I already have the next post down, but if anyone's interested in anything specific (say, gear you auto-get, Cult Potentials, requirements, NSFW char art etc.), I'll be down to post.

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




Terrible Opinions posted:

My Immortal isn't a fanfict it's art.

I was referring to Dumbledore's Army.

(in absolutely thickest possible Boston accent) next year, you’re gonna be in here regurgitating Jordan Wood, talkin’ bout, you know, the Year of Darkness and soulbonds and your fake Lord of the Rings charity

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Modern AGE

Post 4: Always Carry Handcuffs

So, Combat. We're going to talk about combat first, as it has the most natural implementation of the Stunt system. Getting in a fight is pretty recognizable for anyone who has ever played a 'traditional' RPG. You roll a Dex test for Initiative (which cannot generate SP, though you can have a Focus in Initiative for a +2), you note the number, everyone acts in order. You get 1 Minor action and 1 Major action (or 2 Minors) for moving, shooting, striking, charging, setting up to pursue if an enemy tries to flee (really important for melee characters to keep someone with a gun and fast feet locked down), bandaging wounds, etc etc. If you take the time to aim before swinging or shooting, it gives +1 to hit, but remember: How much of a boost +1 is varies a lot depending on where you ended up in the probability curve. This is actually an important part of the game's numeric design, especially in combat. There are lots of things that let a highly skilled fighter trade some to-hit for extra effects or damage because a highly skilled fighter is probably so high on to-hit that trading -3 or something takes them from like 98% to hit to 90% to hit, while someone who needed a 10+ still has good odds of hitting but can't afford such luxuries.

There are no active defense rolls in AGE; characters have 10+Dex Defense as their basic TN to be hit. They also have Toughness equal to their Constitution; this is used to reduce damage from incoming attacks based on game type. They also gain extra Defense and Toughness as they level, based on the campaign type. In Gritty, you will never gain Defense or Toughness. In Pulpy, you gain +1 Defense or Toughness at every 4th level, but have to alternate between them; you basically just choose which goes up first. In Cinematic, you get +1 Defense and Toughness every 4 levels. Remember that Toughness reduces all forms of damage in Cinematic, Impact/Stun damage (melee weapons, basically) in Pulpy, and only Stun damage (unarmed fighting, tasers, etc) in Gritty. To deal with increased DR, all attacks also do +2 damage in Pulp and Cinematic games.

This makes guns very, very dangerous in Pulp and Gritty games. In everything but Cinematic (and maybe even in Cinematic), the intention is that a gun coming out is a serious escalation to a scene. Remember that characters generally start with 15-30 HP, and in Gritty games they never gain more. In Pulp, they still gain significant HP if they have a lot of Constitution (1+Con per level, minimum 1), and in Cinematic, they gain d6+Con per level until 10, then 1+Con per level, so those characters can potentially eat a few bullets. To give the scale of what a standard 9mm pistol does, they do 2d6+Genre Modifier+Perception Score, but any weapon that is semiautomatic is assumed to be firing more than one round and so adds the Stunt die result to damage, even without a Stunt being rolled. So effectively, a handgun does 3d6+Per and often +2 on top of that. Compare against HP and take into account lacking DR against it in a pulp game. Guns are dangerous. In a Gritty game, you basically cannot ignore a gun; the suggestion for Gritty games is to play stuff like detective serials where when you have the game's one actual firefight it's a huge deal and extremely lethal.

Cinematic characters can potentially shrug off bullets like it was nothing, mind. All characters can wear body armor, which will protect from some degree of Impact/Stun and Ballistic damage, though heavier armor will tank your Defense. The thing is, if your Defense wasn't good to begin with, you don't lose a lot by wearing heavy Ballistic Plate to an action scene if you can get it; reducing gun damage by 6 (and Impact by 4) is worth more than getting hit 6% less or whatever. And the very basic 'ballistic cloth' armor that can be hidden under or in clothes will still give you 2 Impact/4 Ballistic at no cost to your Defense. Heavy armor is a tradeoff that helps heavy characters survive when their Defense wouldn't have helped. Light armor is an excellent bonus everyone can make use of.

For contrast, most melee weapons are much less lethal. Big ones like a Sledgehammer hurt like hell (2d6+3+Str+Genre Modifier), but most are in the d6+1, d6+3 range. An actual greatsword hurts like hell (3d6 base), but how often are you going to be toting a zweihander in a modern adventure game? Add to that that outside of Gritty games, most people can reduce damage from melee, and it looks like melee eats poo poo next to a gun.

The thing is, you're in a modern game. Guns are often more regulated, harder to get, and draw a lot of attention. They're also much more lethal; in a Gritty game, you cannot say you're 'shooting to wound' and people will be fatally wounded and in need of emergency care to save their lives, at least. In a Pulp game it's up to the GM and players if they can 'non-lethally' kneecap someone or something. In Cinematic games, sure, go ahead, you're cool action heroes and it's entirely your choice if any kind of weapon kills someone or you just shoot some scenery onto them and knock them out without serious issues. Melee weapons like a staff or baton (or your fists) can knock people cold or subdue them without having to leave a bodycount for the authorities (and so you can ask the fascist agitator you beat the poo poo out of how he's linked to the local police.) As a sidenote, all the action examples are stuff like that; the heroes foiling fascist coups, discovering links between hate groups and the cops, etc. When it isn't your more traditional mad scientists. But even more importantly, melee weapons (and especially grappling) unlock some really good Stunts.

So, I've said what a Stunt is. You roll doubles on 3d6 for a check, you check the third die, you generate that many SP. So if I roll 3-3-6 AND I succeeded on that check, I get a 6 point stunt. If I roll 1-1-1 and fail, no stunts. If I roll 1-4-4 and succeed, also 4 Stunt points. Rolling triples has no effect. When you generate Stunt Points, your Stunt might cause another roll, like giving you a second attack or setting an ally up to shoot someone immediately outside of init order or making a second roll to control a grapple; these rolls cannot generate additional Stunts so you can't infinite attack chain no matter how lucky you are. You can also pick more than one Stunt; the pool of points is just that, a pool. Some Stunts will let you spend a variable number of points, but otherwise you can't do the same Stunt twice on one roll. You can also choose to make a Stunt Attack, where you forgo doing normal damage to generate at least 1 SP and to generate +1 SP if you roll a Stunt. This is useful for when you're trying to grapple someone, or you REALLY need to push someone off the edge of a ledge or something.

Stunts do stuff like force enemies to move, let you move after your attack, force a disarm on an enemy, taunt an enemy into having to attack you instead of others, sheer away enemy cover, do extra damage, give you a follow up attack, give an ally a follow up attack (much cheaper), break through enemy DR, destroy scenary to make enemy movement or chasing harder, move you to the front of Init, give you temporary HP, let you dive for cover while firing at the same time, etc etc. As a rule of thumb, if it was something you needed a fiddly feat or an entire special attack maneuver for in most standard RPGs, it's available as a rider for successful attacks from the Stunt system.

Also note: Automatic Fire is only modeled via Stunts and that Semiauto/Auto bonus damage rule. Some of the Stunts for Guns will let you walk your fire from an automatic weapon into other people, or shoot the same target a second time for bonus damage (better than or in addition to the basic 'attack again' Lightning Attack stunt anyone can do for 3). Ammo similarly isn't modeled in a granular way; unless you're on Gritty, you always have reloads on you but you only need to reload when you miss an attack and your Stunt Die is lower than your gun's Ammo rating. Otherwise it's assumed you're reloading smoothly among your attack sequences or that like a proper action hero, you don't bother with reloading unless it's dramatic.

Melee's exclusive Stunts do stuff like Disarming enemies, destroying their armor (and actually making the armor a huge hindrance to their Dex and ability to move because they have broken armor hanging off them) or weapons, destroying their ability to move, opening enemies up to getting murdered by your allies by tanking their defense completely, or grappling people. Grappling is very powerful if you're good at it and get a high SP stunt. Especially if you carry a chain or handcuffs or rope. Grappling can take human shields for cover, immobilize enemies for allies to hit, take people to the mat (with you on top of them and punching them), pin them, or for a 5 point stunt if you have something to do it with, basically take someone out by cuffing their hands behind their back or otherwise restraining them. They can still potentially break out of that if they're really dangerous, but against most human-like opponents? That move can be a fight-ender. As a result, most Grapple tests take a second, opposed Fighting (Grapple) test as part of their Stunts to control your target, but the Grappling talents help with those.

The Stunts seem daunting, but the list is well defined and you get used to using them in combat quickly. They do a good job of making combat feel more dynamic, and they're an interesting choice for one of the primary methods of randomizing combat. Enemies also stunt, and every enemy statblock includes 'favored stunts' so you don't need to spend too much time on their special moves while getting across their personalities and behavior. They recommend players pick some signature combos they like and write them down to save time, too.

Still, it produces a fair amount of depth in a fight while giving you a good way to describe what's happening. Disarms, forced movement, struggles over a gun, wrestling, etc all come up much more than they did in games like WHFRP, and I appreciate it. Action scenes feel like proper action scenes, and for a fairly simple generic system, that's really nice. Keep in mind these special moves are available to pretty much anyone; Talents and things will modify their costs or make them easier or help you with follow up checks, but anyone can do these things. It's a really nice way to design an action-adventure system.

Next Time: Not Killing People

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


Beyond the gopher holes, there’s a world going on

Wild Lands’ setting chapter starts out with cosmology.

Now, this is unfortunately a game where a working knowledge of planes is going to help you puzzle out how to interact with enemies. I get why this is here. I don’t care.

There aren’t stakes in this chapter, there aren’t any good adventure seeds. There’s nothing to get your teeth into. There are some good and evil gods, and there are some locations. Heroic NPCs are good but hard-working, evil monsters are cruel but malicious. Fine. I just described every mainstream fantasy roleplaying game’s setting.

I even understand why the setting is laying out its first principles. This is its “In the beginning, there was…” moment. I still don’t care. If I’m playing a Cold War game, I should probably know about the general geopolitical situation, and some recent history. Maybe you could stretch it out to the late 19th century with some understandings of that century’s revolutions and wars if you were running a politics-heavy scenario. I would not need to know about the detailed history of the Protestant Reformation or the Mongol invasions, even though they’re drat important events. I definitely wouldn’t expect to sit through a presentation on ancient history when I signed up for a rolicking adventure where I fight mustache-twirling KBG agents on top of a train.

Anyway, there’s the classical elemental planes for no drat reason, Heaven, Hell, and “The Strange,” which is the Lovecraft dimension. Octopi and Squids (enemies only, fools) are supposed to have come from the Strange.

Do you like fantasy proper nouns? Too bad, buddy, because there’s a bunch of gods you’re expected to know.

Oro the Golden - Good
Portfolio - Healing, Life, Light, Lightning

Golden stag. Oro’s followers roam the generic fantasy landmass formatted for an 8.5x11” piece of paper Great Isle doing good, generically. They heal people. They don’t like demons, especially Rasselbok’s creations. Get used to Rasselbok.

Tal’ila Harbinger of Justice - Good
Portfolio - Justice, Law, Truth

A silver unicorn. Likes contracts and laws. Worshippers are guards, judges and detectives. Truthiness. There’s no comma in that name. Maybe “Tall-Ill-uh Harbingerofjustice” is a specific name.

Honorable Taur - Good
Portfolio - Honor, Nobility, Wisdom

“The followers of Taur seek honor above all else. Devotees gain honor by performing good acts and resisting any action that would be seen as evil or unjust. To lose honor would mean to lose status with Taur and rank within an order. Clerics of Taur are often warrior monks who defend against evil while paladins of Taur are Knights who strike out at evil.”

As in minotaur, see.

Orsa the Mystical - Neutral
Portfolio - Arcana, Knowledge, Air, Intrigue

A crystal bear that likes to know things. See, she views the world as a puzzle, and her followers want to solve this puzzle, if you will, and

Gharns Lord of Winter - Neutral
Portfolio - Death, Water, Ice, Winter

GHOST MOOSE Worshippers aren’t afraid of death, but they hate the undead. Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it’s said that Gharns visits the natural world during winter.

Terra Lady of Stone - Neutral
Portfolio - Earth, Stone, Gems, Battle

Obsidian wolverine. Dwarf god, but with no grudge-keeping.

Astria Lady of Summer - Neutral
Portfolio - Fire, Summer, War, Baking

Lion, but with a mane of fire. You know, baking being a domain of the god of fire is pretty good! Among the usual followers of this type of god, the text calls of “critters who love fire.” Probably the best god entry just for those two points alone.

Rasselbok the Twisted - Evil
Portfolio - Corruption, cruelty, poison

Jackalope Satan, supposed by the leading intellectuals of the world to be the cause of evil species, since anyone who worships Rasselbok inevitably mutates and becomes evil. No mechanics for mutation, and ol’ Scratch was banished to Hell by Oro, so I guess it doesn’t matter? Or they’re still able to reach out from Hell and screw with everyone else? This is all a little mushy throughout the rest of the game.

Trak’uul the Undying - Evil
Portfolio - Undead, hatred, darkness

Dracolich what causes zombies. There’s actually a story here! Back before critters were a thing, Trak’uul was a gigantic dragon. But when the death god showed up for his due, Tentacool here ran away to Hell, and is basically plotting ways to go back to the real world and live eternally. But also, basically Vecna. Definitely something to work with in this entry, though.

XyXrl - “Assumed Evil”
Portfolio - ????

It’s Cthulhu. Not even Hastur or Nyarlathotep. Cephalopods, do you understand?

The Great Isle



See that? That was five pages of Fantasy Environs where heroic heros hero heroically and dastardly dastards do dastardly deeds.

Organizations

When you hit level 3, you can prestige class instead of gaining a level. Would have been great to have this in the section about leveling. Your options are joining a religious order, a magical college, or a guild.

You’re not missing much, though. Take the Order of the Divine Light. You get the ability to feel uneasy in the presence of demons within 50 grid squares, and you can pop 15 MP to light a 10 (no unit used) diameter area, which makes Hell-monsters take -1 to rolls for three rounds. That is, technically speaking, more interesting than a skill point or HP/MP. Your organization options are not mechanically balanced against each other, of course. Which do you want more, +1 Evasion or +10 AP (no word on how it refreshes, though), or +1 die to brewing or identifying a potion?


Yeah, pretty good.

Mounts are in this section. Ants, bees, chickens, geese, herons, sparrows. I would have liked to see some reptiles, but lizards of any stripe in the bestiary are sentient and evil, so I guess that’s out.

There’s a section on clothing, and that’s cool! Clothing is way more important than most games credit, and somebody’s sartorial choices are usually huge markers as to their personality, background, and all sorts of stuff. Leather in this world is from a particularly durable plant, which you can do all kinds of things to. It produces a sort of cotton bud too. Presumably the critters of Wild Lands aren’t big on wool for the same reason I wouldn’t wear a scarf made out of barbershop sweepings.

Food is touched on. Regionality is strong in the culinary arts, both for preference and determined by what’s available. We're not told what regions cook what. Berries, nuts and grains, but not those berries, nuts or grains, are common foodstuffs. Meat comes from bugs, crustaceans, fish and birds. Delicious food is known to have magical powers, which - gimme more of that. Give me more stuff that immediately makes me want to whip up Guy Ferretti, the wandering healer and gourmand, benefactor to countless mom and pop shops across the Great Isle.

Calendering is based off a calamitous event. Only two of the seasons are the same length, and “winter” is called “The Time of Gharns.” Bet you thought we were done with that crap. We’re told about Christmas and Halloween expys, which strongly feature a departing souls motif for both options. Again, I want to know more about that. Baking is considered a competitive sport. That’s just tossed off in a sidebar!

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



JcDent posted:

Out-of-sequence post: does anyone have any questions/suggestions/requests w/r/t Cult Ranks in Degenesis? I already have the next post down, but if anyone's interested in anything specific (say, gear you auto-get, Cult Potentials, requirements, NSFW char art etc.), I'll be down to post.
Yeah what's up with the Palers?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Yeah what's up with the Palers?

Anything in particular?

They have at least one bit of interesting stuff that I remember, yes...

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Hey System Mastery, Cheese Dudes has one less competitor:

Boxturret posted:

it died op


literally 3 days ago

i don't know if this is the same one you're thinking of but i do remember this one coming up before

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



JcDent posted:

Anything in particular?

They have at least one bit of interesting stuff that I remember, yes...
Really anything, but especially whatever Potentials they get. Very curious to see what's up with albino vault-dwellers.

Spector29
Nov 28, 2016



JcDent posted:

I'm about a year away from getting an implant that streams twitter to my brain so I could be angry all the time (I'm calling it "Butcher's Nails"), so here's the good tweet:

https://twitter.com/mspowahs/status/957995279092875264

Now see, the weird thing for me is that I've been identifying as a Transhumanist for years, but I don't live in an area that has, like, cult meetings. I also browsed LessWrong for a while before discovering it was a hive of absolute nutters. All this bio-determinism stuff attached to Transhumanism is new to me, and it make me sad. All I want is technicolor hair, a functioning body, and the ability to live forever. Why do weirdos with weird politics have to ruin things I like?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I'm torn between the desire to chrome up and still being able to touch my girlfriend.

Getting a girlfriend really puts a damper on one's dreams to be put in a robot body and be sent into space to shepherd teraforming robots.

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




Spector29 posted:

Now see, the weird thing for me is that I've been identifying as a Transhumanist for years, but I don't live in an area that has, like, cult meetings. I also browsed LessWrong for a while before discovering it was a hive of absolute nutters. All this bio-determinism stuff attached to Transhumanism is new to me, and it make me sad. All I want is technicolor hair, a functioning body, and the ability to live forever. Why do weirdos with weird politics have to ruin things I like?

Not living forever is an actively desirable trait given the way the world is going.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


JcDent posted:

I'm torn between the desire to chrome up and still being able to touch my girlfriend.

Getting a girlfriend really puts a damper on one's dreams to be put in a robot body and be sent into space to shepherd teraforming robots.

Well, it's like Gouda said. To be willing to actively throw your life away over completely stupid nonsense, you absolutely have to be a virgin.

Speleothing
May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

Like us commoners would be allowed to live forever. We'd end up with shorter, more disposable lives while the trillionaires buy bigger mountains to fortify.

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




JcDent posted:

I'm torn between the desire to chrome up and still being able to touch my girlfriend.

Getting a girlfriend really puts a damper on one's dreams to be put in a robot body and be sent into space to shepherd teraforming robots.

Transhumanism is only forgivable in virgins and folks who haven't figured out they're ace yet, it's true.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

grassy gnoll posted:


The Great Isle



See that? That was five pages of Fantasy Environs where heroic heros hero heroically and dastardly dastards do dastardly deeds.

Setting aside, I do like the art style on the map. More settings should use this kind of brightly-coloured tourist map, I think. It pleasantly reminds me of the Fallout 76 map and for all that game had problems, using a faded 50s tourist map to navigate (and tattered gas station maps in the original games) was an excellent idea.

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



DL9: Dragons of Deceit


why is someone with Solamnic facial hair and armed with a dragonlance riding an evil red dragon while meeting with Fizban, a supposedly good mage?

Son of a bitch, it's loving Douglas Niles again, so far his modules have been some of the worse ones. Anyway, the start of this module is a bit weird. At the end of DL8, losing the High Clerist's Tower is clearly marked as a loss condition whereunder which western Ansalon is doomed to be conquered by the Dragonarmies in short order, even if the PC's escape alive. However, the start of DL9 also accepts that the tower might have fallen and the players simply fallen back to Palanthus.

As usual we've got Elistan, Laurana, Sturm, Gilthanas, Derek, Aaron, Flint and Tasslehoff on this expedition. In addition, if we're lacking sufficient PC's, we have Gunthar uth Wistan, grandmaster of the Solamnic Knights, a level 13 asskicker ready to roll with the party. He's strictly superior to basically every Fighter in the party so far. And Silvart, from DL7, also returns and is a mandatory PC for this part, which means one of the players gets to be a loving Silver Dragon. Of course, since she's still under the Oath, she's not technically allowed to bust out her draconic form. In her elf form, she's just a high-level Thief/Fighter, but she can continue to use some of her dragon stats in elven form, like her Thac0 10 and 70HP, which make her much better at combat than a thief of her level normally would be. She also gets to use herbs to cast certain healing spells like a Cleric. It otherwise doesn't specify whether Dargent(the dragon's true name) in her Silvart guise can still use her innate spells, but even without that she's pretty powerful.

Chapter 13: The Silver Messenger

This chapter is literally a single page long and starts with the players having just finished DL8 when Silvart shows up and goes: "'SUP LOSER NERDS, I'm pretty sure the reason the Good Dragons are bound by the Oath to not help you dorks is something hidden in Sanction, the malign supervillain lair of the Dragonarmies. You guys wanna come with?" And since they have literally no alternatives nor plot hooks, and every NPC encourages them to do this, they will.

Chapter 14: Into the Dragonlands

They can either travel to Sanction overland or by sea, and by sea either by their own ship or on a chartered trip with a captain that hates the Dragonarmies. Overland travel is basically impossible unless the players get a map showing them a secret pass into Sanction, since there's a mountain range they need to cross, and the non-secret pass is infinite encounters, while trying to cross the mountains without a pass has a 20% chance of provoking a Dex check per character, per hour, or they'll trigger an avalanche dealing 3d6 damage to that character. Crossing the mountains without a pass takes... six days. Assuming an 8-hour rest per day, that's 16*6 = 96, a potential 96 checks, which can each trigger 3d6 damage. A maximum of 1728 points of damage for a whopping 115.2 Ra, the most insanely dangerous thing in the entire series of modules thus far. Even assuming perfectly average rolls on everything, let's see... 19.2 checks(rounded down to 19), the worst Dex in the party belongs to Flint, he'd screw up half his rolls, so 9(if we round down again) rolls of 3d6 damage, up to 162 points of damage, for 10.8 Ra, or 5.4 Ra if we assume also average rolls on the damage.

Jesus Christ.

Travelling overland is otherwise somewhat unrewarding, the players can travel relatively freely in the overworld, but most places they can reach are either under siege or Dragonarmy strongpoints like Lord Soth's castle which are undetailed except for how many things will show up to skullfuck the party. For instance Lord Soth himself has 3 Banshees as bodyguards and "undead of all types" in his fortress. The only thing it's suggested the players can interact with is that they can support a Solamnic dictator trying to take over a castle while the real owner is away fighting the Dragonarmies, except that's not really detailed either.

Going by land also has the problem that no matter which path they take, Fizban will latch on to their party, somewhere, somehow.

The smarter choice is going by sea where they encounter Fizban in the middle of the ocean on a small rowboat and can choose to just let him drown rather than bringing him along. The sea also has the advantages of zero random encounters, aside from Fizban there's literally only one encounter where the players are set upon by a Dragonarmy privateer craft crewed by minotaurs, and if they defeat the minotaurs they can steal their ship and their letter of marque, which will allow them basically free access to Sanction's harbor. If they don't do that, they'll have to either outrun the warships guarding the harbor or come up with a good excuse why they should be allowed in freely rather than in chains.

It's pretty obvious, considering that it has an actual detailed encounter rather than just endless random encounters, that the author intended for the players to go by sea. Going by sea the players can also sail into the maelstrom at Istar's former location to try and kill themselves and make the agony of being in Dragonlance end.

Another way to get into Sanction is essentially to fail any combat encounter, at which point the players are captured and hauled in right to their objective.

Chapter 15: Sanction

Sanction might as well be a loving skull carved into the side of an erupting volcano, it's a town whose main industry is evil temples and which is surrounded by three constantly erupting volcanoes, to the point where the town is literally full of rivers of molten magma. The place has a constant temperature of 100F/38C, to boot. This place, where everyone should be vomiting out bloody chunks of their lungs on a daily basis, and where the streets are literally being eaten away by lava, is where the forces of evil have their secular headquarters, it's also the HQ of Ariakas, mega overlord of the Dragonarmies. Even just crossing the bridges over the lava rivers causes 1d4 heatstroke damage to anyone who fails a saving throw vs breath weapons, meaning most of the natives should be keeling over on a regular basis.

The place is such a mess that if the players actually get inside and just try to look vaguely like an organized troop of mercenaries, no one will give a poo poo, even if they start murdering other mercenaries in the streets over slights perceived or real, since everyone's used to small matters of bullying exploding into bloody violence. They might well have to regularly murder a few locals, mind you, since, not being draconian, ogre or minotaur, those three groups will try to pick on them. In one detailed encounter, a bunch of minotaurs will show up and try to rape any female PC's or NPC's unless the players murder them. Classy.

Out on the plains, the party might have encountered some resistance fighters if they came by land, and the leader might have asked them to help save his brother who's enslaved in Sanction. This plot thread feels somewhat forgotten, since he's given a location in Sanction's slave cells, but no real description of what'll happen if the party tries to free him, except that he and the other slaves will "try to help," which won't amount to much since Nathan's power level is roughly where a few of the party members were back in DL1.



He's one of the slaves pulling Ariakas' slavemobile.

The only three locations of any detail or interest in Sanction are three temples, to Huerzyd, Duerghast or Luerkhisis, none of which are real deities in the setting. Huerzyd is the home of the SHADOWPEOPLE, a bunch of weird magical telepathic bat people who live under Sanction. Duerghast is where they'll get hauled off to if taken prisoner, and Luerkhisis is their final objective. If they get taken prisoner and hauled off to Duerghast, the Shadowpeople will bust them out of their cells and introduce them to their mighty telepathic hivemind before showing them how to enter the temple of Luerkhisis. If the players decide to, for whatever reason, climb one of the volcanoes around Sanction, that also reveals a secret path into the Temple of Luerkhisis.

Let's just assume they get there, somehow.


Still can't get over these dumbass pauldrons which appear to be standard-issue for male Dragon Highlords

The Temple of Luerkhisis is important for three reasons.

Firstly, it's the only place the players can get their hands on some serious loot that actually justifies a bit of exploration(though not much, there's literally one location with worthwhile loot, the rest is all just more fights with draconians in various locales around the temple).

Secondly, they can bust into Ariakus' room while he's not home and poo poo on his bed. Outside of being around to interrogate the PC's if they get captured, Ariakus is mysteriously and inscrutably unfightable in this module.

Thirdly, this is where a bunch of evil wizards are using dragon drool(no, really) as part of a ritual to turn good dragon eggs into evil draconians.

quote:

The chanting has reached some kind of climax, for the hooded figures pause. Suddenly, a drop of saliva from the red dragon’s hideous maw plops onto the egg.

Immediately, the silvery surface turns black and slimy. Like some poisonous tumor, the egg begins to grow, changing shape and writhing as if in torment.

The egg becomes huge and begins to split apart. Instead of the silver dragon that should emerge, however, many squirming, lizard-like figures spill forth.

The egg has just given birth to several dozen miniature Sivak draconians.

As a bonus I suppose nothing says the players can't scoop up a handful of baby Draconians and raise them as their own kids at a later stage.

Anyway, the mages are high-level and evil, and also guarded by a Copper Dragon that they convinced... somehow, that guarding the eggs from anyone trying to rescue them was the good thing to do. The players can convince him that he's an idiot and hosed up if they use basic things like "logic" and "not being morons." Temporarily putting a stop to the corruption rituals requires fighting a 10th-level Cleric and Mage, as well as the big drooling red dragon helping with the ritual. It's not actually required, though, having seen the ritual is all the evidence that Dargent needs to declare DRAGON WAR.

Using magic telepathy that Dragon Highlords seem to get as part of their job perks, Ariakus senses that someone's figured out the Dragonarmies' secret and calls up all his goons on the Evilphone to go chase down the intruders. At this point, whether the PC's have met the Shadowpeople or not, one of them shows up and goes: "Hey nerds, you're about to die unless you follow me" and leads them into a secret passage brimming with random draconian encounters(though at this point since Dargent can drop the disguise and just vaporize enemies with breath weapons, that should trivialize much of the combat, so the GM is encouraged to just add dragons until the players feel threatened) until they reach the supreme Shadowpeople hivemind that can teleport, which teleports the players to safety.

Chapter 17: War in the Skies

It feels like an extremely Deus Ex Machina thing, and kind of lame, that the players are literally just teleported to Good Dragon Island north of the continent of Ansalon. Like... getting out again, and escaping Sanction(since just popping Dargent to dragon form and flying off in the main street might get them dogpiled), could have been a decently interesting challenge if they didn't decide to just... skip it. In fact the Shadowpeople feel like a really weird and random addition to Sanction, especially since the players will really only encounter them if they either investigate the temple to Huerzyd or get captured, the latter of which mostly requires them to gently caress up a combat encounter or be incredibly stupid.

Anyway, GOOD DRAGON ISLAND.

The dragons are very upset and want to put the party in DRAGON JAIL until the party tells Aurumnus the Gold Dragon(no, really, that's his loving name, I poo poo you not) about how baby Draconians are made(perhaps they've got a few stuffed in their backpack to show off. the game does not account for this but the party clearly needs more mascots), which makes the dragons declare DRAGON WAR on the forces of evil. They instantly whip up like a literal two-hundred loving dragons, and give the PC's each a dragon mount with mounted lance(no word on whether the polar bear and any of the sabertooth kittens also get their own mounts) and decide it's off to get fighty. The players' dragon mounts are randomly decided in type and age category, which is dogshit since the age category of the mount, if nothing else, can decide a lot about their power.

This drops the PC's into an aerial battle with twelve evil dragons, supported by ground-based heavy artillery, while the majority of the dragons dogpile into the temple of Luerkhisis to purify it of all life that isn't precious eggs.

The main problem with this is mostly that the fight is decided by initiative almost entirely. Dragonlances and dragon breath weapons both run off current HP in determining how much damage they do, which means that striking first is likely an instant kill(since mounted lances deal damage equal to mount + rider HP, and the target only has mount HP), while striking second means that you've likely already had some of your offense ablated off by a breath weapon(though the saddles on the good dragons are shielded, and the rider receives half damage on a failed save or zero on a successful save). It's meant to be a cool aerial dogfight, which it could potentially be if not for the breath weapons being involved. 1E and 2E AD&D also hadve some moderately clunky aerial battle rules which require keeping track of speed, height, turning ratios and location for every combatant, especially since the dragonlances can't be used against targets who have height on you.

Anyway, once the party wins this fight, the module is over! The PC's have now closed the air power gap between the evil Dragonarmies and the good factions.

Also, thankfully, there are no scripted actions for Fizban in this entire module, making his presence completely irrelevant unless the GM loves harrassing the party with lovely homebrewed fishmalk antics.

Kree! I guess our Christmas present is that this module was mercifully short! Remember kids, stay on the railroad tracks and daddy Niles won't have to hurt you with endless avalanches!

Thank you for the wisdom, Skeleton Warrior.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Next up: DL10, Dragons of Dreams

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Dragons of Deceit: 3rd Edition Changes

This is the last blog post I ever wrote on my own campaign. I did complete the Chronicles, it’s just that all this writing was quite a bit of work.

1. Lord Gunthar Uth Wistan is not a playable PC option. On a similar note, the “obscure death” rule is lifted here in the AD&D manual:

quote:

Remember that player characters are no longer subject to the obscure death rule. If a PC dies, he's gone forever!

Given in 3rd Edition that divine resurrection is easily a thing at this level (12th-13th) this is not as large a hindrance as it is in AD&D.

2. On a similar note the character D’argent is impersonating is not under PC control. Given she is shape-shifting rather than using magic jar spell (mind-swap bodies) she never assumes her true dragon form unless the PCs are fighting an evil dragon (such as Harkiel in Sanction). She is still a powerful option when taking humanoid form in 3e, as she has access to 6th-level spells.

3. We have brief role-play write-ups on two characters in Palanthas: Captain Karyzzal who can lend the PCs a ship to sail to Sanction, and Lord Amothus who...doesn’t really do much of anything.

4. The Tower of High Sorcery generates a powerful fear effect preventing people from walking up to it. It is more vague in AD&D, but in 3rd Edition its outer limit is given mention that it functions as a Fear spell at 20th caster level. Any closer than 500 feet is an auto-fail and can affect even beings immune to fear. In AD&D the limit is 100 feet instead.

5. If the PCs meet and rescue Fizban at sea (or in the alternate land encounter), it will mention that he and D’argent will not be on speaking terms during this adventure due to the combat between the two during Dragons of Light. The adventure will also mention that he can do a one-time “fall guy” bail-out if the PCs end up captured in Sanction or ‘inadvertently’ wander into a trap or hazard which the party failed to notice.

6. Several encounters are changed a bit: the adult blue dragon who the PCs can encounter at sea is much stronger and has more staying power than his AD&D counterpart. Howevering, spells such as Shivering Touch and save-or-die/lose spells can still make for a quick combat. A potential save-or-die hazard of whirlpools at sea will not kill PCs who end up in a sinking ship. Given how many different types of races/spells/feats/etc exist in 3rd Edition, rules are instead given for how strong the whirlpool’s current is and how long it takes for the ship to sink to the bottom of the sea. Also Swim checks for swimming out of reach. Patrolling scrags (aquatic trolls) are higher in number from 4 to 11 and led by a leader with levels in Ranger.

8. Land encounters are a bit different, and have static number of enemies instead of rolling randomly. The random number of dragons at Vingaard keep is kept at 2 instead of 1d6, while the war parties Dargaard Mountains number only 20 hobgoblins to fight instead of 40.

9. Warren Windsound, a rebel leader in the swampy Dragonarmy terrain of Estwilde, got some stat upgrades. He’s a multi-class Fighter/Rogue of a total level of 10; in AD&D he was just a 5th level Fighter.

10. Now that 3rd Edition has been released after Final Fantasy VI, you can now play this iconic “evil empire city” music when the PCs visit Sanction.

11. This has applied to some prior settlements such as Tarsis and Palanthas, but 3rd Edition has city stat blocks: mentioning the alignment of the governing power, the people of note, racial and class demographics (D&D, not economic) and so on. Sanction’s rather novel in that it also lists the breakdown of the city guard and Red Dragonarmy presence, listing the number of soldiers of each class (the Red Dragonarmy Reserve Company has 2 7th-level Fighters, 18 2nd-level Fighters, etc).

12. Instead of a random encounter generator of who to meet on the streets and their race and class, there’s a more brief and holistic overview: the city is filled with dangerous violent people attracted by the Dragonarmies’ promises of wealth and power, the soldiers are belligerent, while the original human natives who lived here before their rise work in the service sector such as taverns, inns, and shops catering to the soldiers and mercs.

13. Several named encounters in the city have more detail: witnessing ogres fighting human mercenaries provides stats if the PCs intervene. In an encounter between an ogre-minotaur clash, PCs who aid the ogres will have the giants clap them on the back, saying “you small folk aren’t so bad after all” and advise them on which army camps to avoid.

14. Technically part of changed encounters but important in that it acknowledges the possibility of pulling a fast on one an otherwise overwhelming opposition: PCs who see Emperior Ariakas’ procession have the opportunity to follow it to the Temple of Luerkhisis (entering is another matter) and thus gain a clue of where Ansalon’s emperor stays while in Sanction. If the PCs are brave or canny enough to rescue one of the slaves, they learn that his name is Nathan and he and the other slaves were freedom fighters part of a local insurgency. The slaves (both in this encounter and imprisoned in the Temple of Luerkhisis) are similarly-martial and have some decent stats (5th-level Warriors) who can at least cause a dent in some of the weaker enemies through sheer numbers if liberated; in AD&D they are not trained in combat.

15. Penalties to resist breaking under torture are a DC 20 Constitution roll rather than rolling a d20 under your Constitution score to succeed, which makes it much harder. Certain feats can provide bonuses, such as Iron Will and Endurance. The torturer is given a name and stats, a hobgoblin rogue named Lord Craven, accompanied by an ogre barbarian named Grunk the Ogre (i’m not repeating myself, this is how the adventure stat block refers to him).

16. There’s a lot less handouts, like the artwork on dragonlances and saddles for dragonriders, Lord Gunthar’s personal journal while he travels with the PCs, and a full-page artwork of Silvart/D’argent in both her elf and dragon forms. A bit of a sad loss IMO.

17. Remember that Mob template I mentioned back in Dragons of Ice? Well it’s actually used for Dragonarmy soldiers this time! But only humans, goblins, and hobgoblins and not draconians, ogres, or minotaurs.

18. In the giant army camp (ogres, minotaurs, trolls, etc) PCs in the AD&D version will be bullied mercilessly by soldiers of said races looking for a fight. In 3rd Edition monster stats are listed as merely potential encounters.

19. There are no random encounters in the Temple of Heurzyd, with empty rooms filled up with more appropriate encounters. In AD&D they included things like swarms of rats/carrion crawlers/stirges and possibly some draconians, but one room has a beefy Elder Black Pudding ooze. Same thing for the Temple of Duerghast, but with more Dragonarmy soldiers and captured arena animals instead of scavenging vermin. A penned dire tiger, if communicated with via magic, can join the party out of gratitude.

20. The Temple of Luerkhisis (Ariakas’ dwelling and secret dwelling of the good dragon eggs) has its front gates guarded by two shifts of a rotating pair of red and white dragons; the white one is less attentive and thus is easier to sneak past with a suitable disguise. Ariakas can be encountered during the day, presiding over an assembly in the audience hall.

21. Clerics of Takhisis are renamed Dark Pilgrims of Takhisis. Those within the Dragon Empire’s territory who shown the right amount of competence as well as Lawful Evilness have the chance to undergo clerical training in one of the large religious centers, thus engendering a sort of pilgrimage; they were detailed in a spin-off novel but became a bonafide prestige class in 3rd Edition (sort of a cleric/rogue hybrid, but which only the priest corrupting the good dragon eggs has levels in in this adventure). They are much stronger level-wise, being 9th-level Clerics with access to some pretty debilitating spells (Dispel Magic, Blind/Deafness, Confusion, etc), whereas in AD&D they were merely 3 Hit Die enemies.

22. Ariakas’ bedroom has a Mirror of Life Trapping in both versions, but in 3rd Edition there’s an internal mechanism of a swift-moving tapestry to cover it which can throw off observes (who may think it was the tapestry and not the concealed mirror which caused a person to disappear). The Emperor’s personal treasure room also has several potions and a bandolier holding sheathes of various wands.

23. One of the secret entrances into a tunnel beneath the temple is guarded by an ice devil (gelugon).

24. The copper dragon prisoner has been tortured, poisoned by Wisdom-draining substances, and threatened by Emperor Ariakas himself that 100 eggs will be destroyed for every intruder which gets past him. His addled mental state is a result of the aforementioned trauma rather than in AD&D him being “not very bright.”

25. The stats for the baby sivak draconians are excised and presumed to be treated as noncombatants due to this.

26. To make up for the loss of prior handouts, we get an illustration of the corruption of the good dragon eggs:



27. Since D’argent is not a PC she will automatically offer one of the heroes to ride on her back during the aerial assault of Sanction. In AD&D it was up to the player controlling her whether or not to allow such a cool thing.

28. We have a totally badass illustration of the metallic dragons flying to war:



29. Saving this for the end, but of the major NPCs Emperor Ariakas underwent some changes: he’s multi-classed 23rd level character in both, but in AD&D he’s a Cleric/Fighter who does not have a full spell list but can be presumed to have any conceivable lower-level spell on hand. In 3rd Edition he’s an arcane spellcaster instead, with levels in Wizard and Knight of the Thorn for his spellcasting, with Fighter, Legendary Tactician, and Dragon Highlord for his martial side. Technically speaking the Knight of the Thorn is an Age of Mortals thing for spellcasting Knights of Takhisis, but as Ariakas is meant to be the ur-concept he has levels in a Prestige Class that doesn’t yet exist.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 08:19 on Dec 27, 2019

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


There's actually a third version of this adventure, Lords of Doom as a CYOA AD&D gamebook also by Douglas Niles. In that one you play the part of Gilthanas as he and Silvara sneak into Sanction to discover the egg-drool thing. I think I have that book out in my garage in a box somewhere.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Loxbourne posted:

Setting aside, I do like the art style on the map. More settings should use this kind of brightly-coloured tourist map, I think. It pleasantly reminds me of the Fallout 76 map and for all that game had problems, using a faded 50s tourist map to navigate (and tattered gas station maps in the original games) was an excellent idea.

*remembers Age of Sigmar maps*

Yeah, no.

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!


Everyone posted:

There's actually a third version of this adventure, Lords of Doom as a CYOA AD&D gamebook also by Douglas Niles. In that one you play the part of Gilthanas as he and Silvara sneak into Sanction to discover the egg-drool thing. I think I have that book out in my garage in a box somewhere.

If I remember right, and thank God around this point my memory of the books starts to break down somewhat into disassociated dreamlike images, either because the books were that badly written or my brain is finally starting to edit them out of long-term storage, that's similar to how the actual novels went.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


Pretty sure the whole 'Gil and Sil team-up' mystery of the eggs adventure was entirely off-screen, and only relayed second-hand once they got back to the Main Cast in the books.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


EimiYoshikawa posted:

Pretty sure the whole 'Gil and Sil team-up' mystery of the eggs adventure was entirely off-screen, and only relayed second-hand once they got back to the Main Cast in the books.

It was. So, the gamebook was kind of cool to be actually able to "play through" that aspect of the novels. They also did a kind of "prequel" to Dragons of Flame with Prisoners of Pax Tharkas and another one called Shadow over Nordmaar featuring a character with amnesia who could morph into two different character types depend on which path he chose to try to remember.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


JcDent posted:

*remembers Age of Sigmar maps*

Yeah, no.

They have actual maps now. Which is nice.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Chapter One: Wizards of Ansalon

Dragonlance was in a rather interesting position during the 3rd Edition era of gaming. Albeit an official setting, Wizards of the Coast wanted to focus on its three major worlds for publishing: Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk (albeit in bits and pieces), and the soon-to-be-released Eberron. In 2003 the company released a main campaign setting book for Dragonlance, but for further sourcebooks and material gave limited licensing rights to Sovereign Press for 5 years, which then became Margaret Weis Productions around 2007. The then-new studio had a lot of material to draw from, so they began with the most well-known aspects. During the first year, priority was placed on setting sourcebooks for the most iconic eras: the War of the Lance and Age of Mortals, the latter of which was already an unpopular setting among fans. Ironically loaned out to yet another third party studio,* it was considered the worst book of the 3e Dragonlance era.

*Fast Forward Entertainment.

But beyond the “setting” sourcebooks Sovereign Press needed ones for the other iconic features: the honorable Knights of Solamnia, the power of the gods, the time-traveling shenanigans from the Legends trilogy, and eventually a 3rd Edition conversion of the original Chronicles were all planned for and eventually published! In tackling this monumental feat, Sovereign Press started with Krynn’s color-coded wizardly orders with a book dedicated to them and all things arcane.

Towers of High Sorcery is a mixture of fluff and crunch; in addition to the oodles of new feats, prestige classes, and mechanics which were the highlight of the D20 system, the book goes into detail on the society and philosophy of the Orders and other wizardly organizations of Ansalon. It also covers those dabblers and renegade mages who choose to remain independent.

The Gift of Magic

Our book opens up with a brief discussion of arcane magic, also known as sorcery. It is the metaphysical clay which the gods used to create reality, and which mortals could use the ability at a lesser (yet no less wondrous) rate. In times long past arcane magic was a raw and barely controlled energy which mortals could directly access. It was known as Primal Sorcery, and when utilized during the distant Age of Dreams its destructive power caused the three Gods of Magic to institute more precise formulas and rituals as safety measures This form of magic is called High Sorcery to distinguish it from its older counterpart; its use is referred to as the Art, and practitioners of the Art are known as wizards. Three orders were set up to research, study, and regulate its use, associated with with their patron deity’s moral outlook on how to best harness magic. Solinari, the white moon, was the conscience of wizards and taught his followers to use their powers for the common good. Lunitari, the red moon, represented the balance and taught her followers to prioritize magical research in and of itself and is thus neutral. Nuitari, the black moon which can only be seen by the Black Robes, encourages followers to gain power irregardless of moral reservations and is thus evil. But unlike divine magic, High Sorcery’s ability to be accessed by practically anyone with the right materials and tomes meant that independent mages could learn this Art for themselves.

Creatures with natural spellcasting such as dragons still retain primal sorcery, but this power would remain locked away from the majority of races until the breaking of the Graygem of Gargath and the arrival of Chaos into the world.

The talent for wizardry is not something a person is born with; the pre-magical lives of many wizards differ widely, although they most often come from educated backgrounds where literacy is available, making their numbers relatively low in the current Ages. In times long past the Conclave, the primary governing body of the Orders of High Sorcery, sent representatives in search of people who displayed talent and/or interest in the arcane arts, with formal tests to determine their worthiness.

3rd Edition Notes: Arcane casting classes which require a spellbook or some sort of formal training are counted as High Sorcery/wizards, while those which are spontaneous casters (spells become known as you “level up” and don’t need a spellbook) are counted as Primal Sorcery/sorcerers.

Only the elven nations still maintain wizardly aptitude tests; most countries in Ansalon have varying degrees of anti-magic sentiment due to the power mages wield as well as political and religious reasons. In the Fifth Age, the Age of Mortals, some among the Orders have applied these standards to wielders of primal sorcery as well, although their existence and how best to deal with them is a hot-button issue among the Conclave.

Most arcane education in modern times takes two forms: individual master-apprentice relationships or boarding schools where teachers preside over classrooms of students. The former is by far the most common, and lessons widely differ and are often restricted to the skill set of the mentor in question. The latter is rarer due to the amount of money and resources required. Magic schools beyond Wayreth only really took off after the War of the Lance, when Raistlin’s fame in fighting the Dragonarmies began to turn public sentiment more favorably to wizards. The Orders used to have five Towers of High Sorcery which were the Ivy League equivalents of magic schools, but only the Tower of Wayreth still serves its original purpose. Arcane schools can gain funding from the Conclave but must abide by a set of universal standards: schooling lasts for 8 months from autumn to spring, dorm rooms are gender-segregated (to “avoid distractions from studies”), students under 16 years of age require a legal guardian’s permission to enroll, and class subjects are split into categories of novice/intermediate/advanced.

But there is one formality which the Conclave applies to all wizards of sufficient skill, formally-trained or no: the Test of High Sorcery. Perhaps the most iconic and feared ritual of the Orders, the Test is just as much an inward moral assessment as it is testing the competence of the wizard in question. Whether as simple as finding a letter mysteriously appearing in one’s dwelling or consciously seeking it out by one’s own hand or mentor, the prospective mage travels to the Tower of Wayreth* and meets with senior wizards to determine if they’re ready.

*The other four Towers were capable of administering Tests, but their destruction during the Kingpriest’s purges reduced the Test to the last remaining Tower.

The Test is individually customized based on the skill set and background of the test-taker, and the intention is to make the wizard aware of their strengths and follies and what path in life they wish to take in life. But every Test has two questions of vital importance: “is there anything more important to you than the gift of magic?” “And when challenged, will you sacrifice those things for the Art?”

The weight of these words is vital, for those who fail the Test are executed; even the good-aligned White Robes deemed it a lesser evil to kill unworthy students than pass powerful magic into their hands which can inflict potentially greater harm. To those wizards who pass, they are given a set of colored robes inducting them into one of the three Orders, and often bear some physical or emotional scar as a reminder of their trials. Official membership in an Order comes with many material benefits from an expanded formal social network of peers.

I can’t help but feel that the “pursue magic beyond all other affairs” is biased heavily in favor of the Red and Black robe ideologies, perhaps the Reds more than the Blacks. The Black Robes’ emphasis on selfish power precludes moral concerns, but on the other hand one can argue that said selfishness may be detrimental to magical innovation and research if say, they suppressed knowledge so as to retain a position of uncontested eldritch power. The Reds may be a bit “enlightened centrists” in regards to the Balance, but knowledge for knowledge’s sake lines up best with these questions. And while the penalty for failing the Test is made known to all prospects (and can refuse to take the Test provided they stop honing their magical skills henceforth) the use of murder can be seen as a rather large moral compromise among some gaming groups.

We then get a brief rundown on the political structure of wizards; this is expanded on in chapters three and four, but for now we get the basics. The previously-mentioned Conclave is a council of twenty-one wizards which has a governing Head who steps in when the council cannot come to a decision. Any member of the Orders can theoretically join the Conclave, but it is a lifetime membership and applicants must demonstrate sole loyalty to the Orders and magic beyond all other concerns, which typically means that they forsake prior political and national loyalties.

Furthermore, each Order of High Sorcery has a Master of its own, while each Tower of High Sorcery is presided over by a Master who is ultimately responsible for its affairs. There’s not much discussion of how one becomes an Order Master, but a Tower Master is chosen from a list of candidates assembled by the Conclave. The wizard’s skill set, as well as their community ties with the Tower’s region and the political make-up Orderwise, are all considered. Once chosen the Master becomes responsible for the Tower’s day-to-day upkeep and undergoes a ritual to merge their life force with the Tower’s essence. This grants them an unbreakable supernatural hold over the building’s foundations and the surrounding environs.

Interspersed throughout this section are some small in-character notes and letters by notable wizards from the setting, such as Raistlin and Dalamar. We even get stats for the two, although the former only as a 1st-level apprentice when he was just 16 years of age. I have no idea in what campaign you’d use this besides either time-travel or a pre-War of the Lance magic school campaign.

Races & Wizardry


Although it can be said in general terms that sorcery is a rare and feared art in Ansalon, the various cultures and races have approached the Art differently. The fact that its use knows no racial or cultural boundaries* means that the Wizards of High Sorcery often insert themselves into every community of note during the current Age of Mortals. In some cases it may be as formal as a small keep or outpost, while others may be a single wizard or small band venturing between settlements.

*Although inherent Intelligence/Charisma modifiers can make certain groups more naturally gifted at its manipulation than others.

Humans tend to number the highest among wizards in spite of the elves being more tolerant due to human flexibility and their population spreading evenly throughout Ansalon. The city-dwelling and formal nations are more trusting of the arcane arts than rural and nomadic humans, but this isn’t much of an improvement. Even commoners give wizards a wide berth unless the individual mage in question can be trusted and has existing community ties. In Solamnia the governing Knights don’t exactly trust them but they’re not outright hated, while in Khur the populace overwhelmingly hates arcanists save for the Mikku tribe who are often regarded as the oddball group by their peers.

They’re put in their own individual categories, but the Half-X Races tend to join the Orders or take up arcane spellcasting due to being either socially isolated or caught between two cultures. As a result, they find some comfort in a community they can call their own. The exception are half-kender, who inherited a bit of their kender parentage’s side and find it hard to focus on their studies.

Elves hold arcane magic in high regard, but ones who join the Red or Black Robes become outcasts in their community. The Silvanesti have a formal House Mystic which has a joint relationship with the White Robes, while the Qualinesti capital had its own arcane school and their proximity to the Tower of Wayreth meant that they worked together on many projects. The Kagonesti wild elves are an exception in that they have no formal institutions and thus have less wizards (but not much of a social stigma against htem), while the sea elves tend to practice magic independent of the Orders. Sea elf renegades cannot be easily brought in line by the Orders on account of the difficulties of long-term undersea travel, even with magic.

The Ogre Races are an interesting case study. The initial chosen of Takhisis once presided over the first mighty civilization, but it fell due to cruelty and slave rebellions. The modern-day fallen ogres lack the intelligence or resources to study wizardry, and thus tend to treat wizards as threats. The exception are ogre magi, offspring believed to be a throwback to their first empire. Ogre magic tend to be revered for their power, and as a rule they don’t bother joining the Orders due to having their own formal network of master-apprentice relationships.

The Irda, those good-aligned ogres who weren’t cursed with ugliness for their evil ways, often live as solitary travelers posing as elves when away from their island homes. While they count a large amount of wizards among their ranks, they view themselves as being too rational and wise to need self-regulation. They treat the Orders of High Sorcery in a back-handed condescending way, viewing it primarily a “worthy institution for the lesser races” who they regard as irrational and aggressive and thus in need of a guiding hand.

Minotaurs view arcane magic as a crutch that the weaker races use to make up for physical shortcomings, and its use in battle is seen as dishonorable. As a result, the majority of minotaur wizards are those who are weaker than most of their kin and turned to alternative practices to minimize their shortcomings. The ones living among their races’ seafaring empire are renegade mages and focus on spells ideal for warfare given that such sorcery is the kind their people at least grudgingly respect. The minotaurs who leave their homeland have it even harder, in that they’re making a conscious choice to abandon their people; as a result, minotaur wizards that join the Orders are already outcasts among outcasts.

Dwarves have a long-standing cultural distrust of wizards due to the archmage Fistandantilus’ participation in the Dwarfgate Wars. After the Cataclysm fell, many old trade routes and communities were destroyed, leading to a massive food shortage in the dwarven kingdom of Thorbadin. The mountain dwarf clans barred the Neidar, or hill dwarves, from entering their ancestral homeland as the rest of the world became more dangerous.

This ‘betrayal’ caused the Neidar to ally with various human factions to break through the gates of Thorbadin, Fistantantilus among them. The archmage cast a cataclysmic spell which devastated both armies and led to a premature end of the War. Thus the hill dwarves hate wizards due to fear of being betrayed again, while the mountain dwarves remember how close Fistandantilus’ magic brought their kingdom to destruction.

An exception exists among the “dark dwarf” clans. The Theiwar clan are long-standing practitioners of wizardry in an organization known as the Obsidian Circle. The Circle pays devotion to Nuitari and have an alliance with the Black Robes even though they’re technically renegades. While the Theiwar count many primal sorcerers among the populace, the Circle regards them as threats to be destroyed. The Daegar often learn from the Theiwar, and prefer magic which can enhance their physical abilities and objects. The Zhakar, or dwarves infected with a race-wide fungal parasite, do not much care for High/Primal divides and accept whatever magic is practical for learning.

There are no recorded instances of gully dwarf wizards, not even minor dabblers, due to their races’ legendary stupidity, although there are a few primal sorcerers reported in recent years.

Gnomes are curious about magic as they are with just about anything which can be studied and researched. But they tend to regard its practice with disdain when so many spells can be replicated (either practically or in theory) by machinery. They study wizardry as a means of understanding magical cause and effect, and their cultural peculiarities means they almost always conduct such research in their city of Mount Nevermind rather than the continental schools or Towers. The gnomes have produced more than a few genuine wizards among their ranks, whose spellbooks are even larger and more baroque than usual. There are no known examples of gnomes who took the Test, not even the more powerful ones. In the latter case, such gnome archmages mostly lived uneventful lives in Mount Nevermind consumed by research rather than more earthly concerns. As a result, they more or less go unnoticed by the Orders.

Kender love magic, but the feeling among wizards is not mutual. Their whimsical nature means that formal training is a nightmare for mentors and teachers, although the Afflicted Kender (a subrace that became traumatized by the destruction of their home city) are better suited to learning but tend to be suspicious of the Orders. Some kender conspiracy theorists have claimed that there’s an Order-wide effort to prevent them from learning magic.

Centaurs overall violently hate arcane magic, and instead give credence to divine magic as practiced for generations. A few young centaurs who left their tribes to travel the world are more open-minded and thus a few joined the Orders.

Draconians are a young race who post-War of the Lance are finding their way in the world. They have been most familiar with the Black Robes, often serving them as minions. Draconians overall are more likely to be primal sorcerers, although only the auraks (who are the smartest and most magically-proficient) and the bozaks (who were trained as highly-disciplined ‘mage-warriors’) show inclination to High Sorcery in any conceivable number. There are rumors of some sivaks who used their shapechanging abilities to take the identities of murdered wizards to learn the Art, but nothing can be proven.

High Sorcery and Arcane Prestige Classes


The final section of the first chapter covers new class options for the wizards of Ansalon as well as an updated reprint of the Wizard of High Sorcery prestige class from the main setting book. One thing I would like to note is that while some of these PrCs may be better than others, none of them are a real ‘downgrade’ to the core Wizard class barring the Sylvan Mage exception. This is because the Wizard’s class features are mostly spellcasting and a bonus feat every 5 levels, and magical prestige classes grant more spells per day of an existing casting class during their progression. The Wizard of High Sorcery, Dreamshaper, Sea Mage, Spell Broker, and Winternon are all full progression, while the Griffon Wizard and Renegade Hunter grant +1 level of progression every odd-numbered level and are only 5 levels long, meaning you only lose out 2 levels at most. The Dark Dwarf Savant’s the odd man out, a level 10 class with a total of +7 levels in an existing casting class, and the Sylvan Mage is a 10 level class which grants casting progression every odd-numbered level.

Wizard of High Sorcery is a Prestige Class symbolizing those who completed the Test and formally joined one of the three Orders. I covered it in a prior review of the Dragonlance Campaign Setting, but the major change here is that you no longer have to specialize in a school to qualify. Non-specialist wizards have to choose a specialty school favored by their order and are thus treated as one from then on out, but those who were already specialists gain even greater power (+1 caster level and saving throw DC on related spells) at the expense of choosing an additional prohibited school. Overall it’s a pretty solid choice for specialist wizards, and some of the Order Secrets are pretty good.

Dark Dwarf Savants are worshipers of Nuitari and established ties with her aforementioned Order during the Age of Mortals. They count sorcerers among their ranks as well and tend to plot various evil schemes in the mountain kingdom of Thorbadin. Their primary class features include the manifestations of magical mutations which grant +2 to an ability score of choice per selection but become more resistant to healing spells; the ability to permanently sacrifice up to 3 spell slots to prepare a spell as a spell-like ability (which allows them to avoid gold/steel piece cost but must spend the virtual currency as more expensive experience points); and bonus item creation feats.

The Savant loses 3 levels worth of casting class progression, but the ability to turn certain spells into spell-like abilities has some pretty powerful potential.

Dreamshapers are illusionists of Lunitari who study dreams and the Ethereal Plane to gain increased power over mortal perceptions. They were instrumental in rebuilding Silvanesti after the War of the Lance, when nightmare-spawned horrors were still numerous. They can coordinate efforts among their number to power all of their spells, using the mechanics of Faerun’s Red Wizards from the Dungeon Master’s Guide as part of a wider “dream circle.” Their other class features include saving throw bonuses against illusion and mind-affecting spells equal to their class level, and a +1 to +3 bonus on illusion (phantasm) spells depending on their class level. They have some steep prerequisites in terms of minimum level (you’ll be 10th when you gain your first PrC level) but overall they’re a pretty solid choice for illusionists, moreso if you have a Leadership cohort who also takes levels in it to take advantage of the circle magic.

Griffon Wizards are elven warriors who gain a powerful bond with the eponymous flying beasts. They are most common among the aristocracy and martial orders of the Silvanesti and Qualinesti, and are exclusively White Robe wizards of Solinari. They gain a griffon as a unique familiar (and cannot have an existing one), but is more in line offensively as a paladin mount. They gain bonuses on concentration checks to maintain spells while riding their mount (which ranges from +5 to +10), and can gain temporary bonuses to their Strength and Fortitude saving throws (or Charisma and Reflex) as they draw on the power of their mount’s bond.

Their level 5 capstone feature lets them auto-succeed on all concentration checks while riding their mount. To non-D20 readers, a concentration check is rolled whenever a spellcaster takes damage or is in environmental conditions which can distract their spellcasting. Concentration DCs can climb really high with damage, and what this means is that a Griffon Wizard can pretty much cast spells without worry. With the aid of a flying mount, this is another solid class and only 5 levels to boot.

Renegade Hunters are wizards charged with keeping the power of the Art out of the hands of the unworthy. Sometimes it may involve teaching a renegade the boons of formal membership in the Orders, while other times it is a more violent choice resulting in the arrest or death of the renegade. Its prerequisites are a bit unorthodox, with skills and feats themed around investigative measures (Gather Information, Sense Motive, the Track feat, etc). Their class features revolve around the countering and shutting down of enemy magic and include things such as: treating their patron moon as being in a more favorable alignment 1/day*; automatically learn the Detect Lie spell and Mark of Justice spells at 2nd and 4th levels; can afflict an enemy wizard as though they had a patron moon being in Waning/Low Sanction*; and their 5th level capstone ability can let them temporarily reduce their own caster level and cause a target within 30 feet to suffer an equally reduced caster level 1/day for a limited number of rounds. Caster Levels lost this way can dip to as low as 0, which can eliminate the ability to cast spells at all!

*Order wizards’ DCs and Caster Levels can suffer bonuses and penalties depending on their phases.

The Renegade Hunter has some pretty potent anti-magic countermeasures, but they can only work on wizards and not arcane spellcasters in general, which drastically limits its use in most campaigns.

Sea Mage is a wizard who spent a lot of time at sea and learned to shape their magic in favor of their lifestyle. They are more physically inclined and less formal than most wizards, being closer to a sailor than a scholar in temperament. They are a full casting class up to 5 levels, but require a high base Reflex Save (+3) which means they need to multi-class to gain early entry. But in exchange they gain bonuses to skills related to seamanship; bonuses on Concentration and save DC when onboard a ship or in an aquatic environment; bonus feats related to agility and metamagic; and can affect an entire sea-going vessel with a single spell a limited number of times per day and can gain said spell’s benefits while in contact with the ship; and +1 caster level in regards to air and water based spells.

Dragonlance isn’t exactly known for nautical adventures, but I can definitely see this Prestige Class being used in Freeport or a more pirate-themed setting. The “target an entire ship with a spell” is open to some abuse, but its limited use per day keeps it in line.

Spell Brokers are the closest thing the Dragonlance setting has to “magical item shops.” They are wizards who utilize connections among merchant networks and communities to supply spellcasters with components and minor magical items, but mechanics-wise they are more akin to craftsmen. Spell Broker is a short 5 level full casting class and whose abilities are geared entirely towards item creation: they gain a bonus item creation feat every odd-numbered level, and can choose one among said feats to craft said items with a 10% reduction in gold and experience cost. They can transfer this feature every time they gain a new item creation feat, so they don’t have to be saddled with the mere scribing of scrolls when they learn how to create RINGS OF POWAH. Their other major feature is creating Items of Distinction and Renown at 2nd and 4th levels: they can reduce such costs by another 10% each and grant +1/+2 effective caster levels on the magic within said items for level-dependent variables and save DCs.

Another powerful class, which can be combined nicely with Eberron’s Artificer. Your party members will love you for this.

Sylvan Mages are those few wizards who came into contact with faeries and learned of their secrets. They are a level 10 PrC who only gains 1 effective spellcasting level every even level, the lowest of the classes here. This is a pretty big downgrade, so do the class features make up for it?

Well, not really. They gain some druidic class features such as wild empathy and the ability to cross unimpeded through natural foliage among other things, but what they get that druids do not are new Sylvan Rites every odd-numbered level. They permanently sacrifice a spell slot to learn a rite, and gain its use by meditating for 10 minutes in a natural setting. The Rites tend to be either 24 hour buffs to an ability score or the granting of a spell-like ability such as Speak with Animals, or a 3/day spell-like ability such as Sleep, Greater Invisibility, or Tree Stride. All in all, none of these features wow me or are something that seems worth the trade-off for more potential arcane spells already on the wizard’s spell list, and the spell-like abilities aren’t the kind which really benefit from being cast that way.

The Winternorn is our final Prestige Class, representing a tradition among the Ice Folk of Ansalon’s far south who learned to see into the River of Time. They specialize in divination and cold-based spells and are a full-casting 10 level class. Their class features include Cold Resistance which reduces damage from cold-based attacks and increases with level; can choose to change the energy damage of any spell they can cast to cold and grant the cold element subtype to summoned creatures*; and a limited number of times per day can see into their own or someone else’s wyrd and gain a +10 bonus on an Initiative, Knowledge, or Sense Motive check; and as their level 10 capstone ability gain the cold subtype which grants them immunity to cold-based damage but vulnerability to fire-based environments and elements.

*We get a new Cold Element subtype, which doesn’t really do much to a creature besides grant them bonus cold-damage on natural weapons, darkvision, damage reduction/magic, and the ability to treat icy terrain as normal terrain.

I really like the winternon, both in mechanics and thematics. The Wyrd ability is quite useful and can ensure that they go first (or close to first) in a fight when it matters.

Thoughts So Far: This chapter has a strong start. It has a good general overview of the history of arcane magic, what makes it different in the Dragonlance setting from divine magic, and examines how the various peoples of Ansalon view it. Its Prestige Classes are overall flavorful and have useful features.

Join us next time as we cover new spells and magic items in Chapter Two!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 04:23 on Dec 26, 2019

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




grassy gnoll posted:


Yeah, pretty good.

Mounts are in this section. Ants, bees, chickens, geese, herons, sparrows. I would have liked to see some reptiles, but lizards of any stripe in the bestiary are sentient and evil, so I guess that’s out.


So...are these really huge bugs or something? How does this work?

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



oriongates posted:

So...are these really huge bugs or something? How does this work?

And small mice.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



there are some absolutely massive beetles - some of them can be six and a half inches long, large enough the smaller varieties of mice could conceivably ride on, but they're more tropical critters.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Robindaybird posted:

there are some absolutely massive beetles - some of them can be six and a half inches long, large enough the smaller varieties of mice could conceivably ride on, but they're more tropical critters.

And they'd probably eat any mice attempting to ride them. No ducks as mounts? So you can go land, sea and air?

BTW, was there any review of Kuro by Cubicle Seven games? Apparently it's a horror game set in Japan circa 2046 about a more horror-themed version of the "Sixth World" from Shadowrun bringing magic and scary weird poo poo to a future Japan that likely had plenty of scary, weird poo poo to begin with because future Japan.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Everyone posted:

BTW, was there any review of Kuro by Cubicle Seven games? Apparently it's a horror game set in Japan circa 2046 about a more horror-themed version of the "Sixth World" from Shadowrun bringing magic and scary weird poo poo to a future Japan that likely had plenty of scary, weird poo poo to begin with because future Japan.

Archive says yes in 2017 though it wasn’t completed.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Loxbourne posted:

Setting aside, I do like the art style on the map. More settings should use this kind of brightly-coloured tourist map, I think. It pleasantly reminds me of the Fallout 76 map and for all that game had problems, using a faded 50s tourist map to navigate (and tattered gas station maps in the original games) was an excellent idea.

Yeah. WL's aesthetic choices, whatever its other merits, are pretty unimpeachable.

JcDent posted:

*remembers Age of Sigmar maps*

Yeah, no.

My man, if you think that map even slightly resembles the "our intern just learned about Photoshop filters" maps from the Sigmar launch, you need to get your eyes checked.

oriongates posted:

So...are these really huge bugs or something? How does this work?

I had a snide comment about the multiple mixed-up units of measurement in this game, but then I realized it only indirectly hints at this - it's a big beetle as beetles go, but your player characters are all under a foot tall. I feel like that should either be played up harder or just outright said, now that I'm thinking on it. Mouse Guard does much the same and actually runs with it, to the point where the PCs fighting off a (to them) skyscraper-sized deer is just one of their expected duties. Wild Lands needs more instant adventure and encounter hooks like that.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


The little creatures of nature, they don’t know they’re ugly

Wild Lands’ bestiary actually makes up a plurality of the book. At least it’s not spells!

Each entry that isn’t a generic critter has its own full-color illustration. Everything gets a little blurb about its behavior and habitats. Stat blocks go

quote:

Creature Name
Size category | Neutral/Evil Alignment | General creature type | Move in stalks

HP - AP
MP - Evade

Phy Agi Int Soc

Available attacks
Attack Dice - Damage - Damage Type
Range

Size is a general guide, but again has no particular effects. gently caress alignment. Do we benefit from knowing a giant fish is a type of fish? There’s no anti-fish weaponry in the game, to my knowledge. And again, a stalk is not a grid square in combat. Move of 120 st means you still have to divide by three, if you found that conversion while you were reading the rules.

Why are there separate HP and AP pools to track for NPCs? We don’t care if the orc has to skulk off and repair its armor. Why am I tracking an MP pool for a monster, when a cooldown is vastly easier to manage? Why do monsters get Evade dice, potentially cancelling out a player’s entire turn, instead of passively soaking damage?

(The answer to the AP pool is that there are piercing weapons, but answering "Why do I have so many things to track in this simple combat engine" with "here's another thing to track," ehhhhh)

Layout problems abound in this section. Here’s the specific page that made me stop and pause while I was reading the book the first time.



So, that says “Frost Worg” up at the top left. It’s not a great typeface. The descriptive text for this monster is split over the previous page. There’s no reason for that, especially considering each chapter is a header over a mostly blank page. But hey, a tactics callo-oh. It’s just describing background info, not an actual combat routine.

The attack bar is always coded black with white text, so it does stand out pretty nicely. You run into issues with cascading effects, like Frost Bite here, not being immediately obvious as dependent entries.

Here’s the thing, though. Did you see the little grey bar down in the bottom right of the page? Where it blends in with the illustration, since it’s middle grey? The thing that gives the monster’s weakness and resistance? Kind of important to hide, and drat if almost every entry here doesn’t do something similar.

As a minor mechanical quibble, monsters in this game are really mobile. 30 stalks - rather, 10 grid squares per round - is standard, which is faster than the average PC by one square per round. Meanwhile, this guy’s tearing around at twice that rate. The fastest a PC could be would be an AGI 6 mouse sprinting, and that’d get them up to 32 movement per round, if that’s all they did. I feel like you’re going to need some really complex combat maps, or some really huge spaces to make all this worthwhile.

The actual content of the Bestiary isn’t much to write home about. There are a lot of big animals, some of which are evil. It definitely starts out on a bad foot, because the entries here are categorized alphabetically, unlike in the freakin’ character creation chapter. That means our first introduction to the wild world of Wild Lands is fish - A is for Aquatic. They’re fish. There’s a big fish, and a little fish, and a littler fish for Moles to fight. They eat critters.

There is, however, the Aquatic Horror. It’s a pistol shrimp that also has an ink defense and constricting tentacles. Apparently they’re pretty tasty, and you can turn their plating into armor. Pretty good! There's a lot of hooks, no pun intended.


I don’t like the composition of this illustration, but I do like Nux the Bunny over there.

The specific Bandit entry comes before the category entry for Bad Critters, and that’s not good. You got bandits, mercenaries, and cultists. They’re all evil, of course. Highlights - you can try to buy out mercenaries to avoid a fight, though no pricing guidelines are given. Lowlights - cultists can summon a demon once per day. Again, weird mechanical intervals, and have fun paging back and forth between bestiary entries while you double your workload as a GM.

Dire Beasts are D&D elemental giants. Frost Warg, Thunder Lynx, an assortment of salamanders that vaguely follow a slaan lifecycle gimmick. The salamanders have death conditions and they’re all terrible. Any time one of them dies, they drop their flaming sword, which turns to dust. In the same box, we’re told if another salamander picks up the sword (and by definition they have their own, which is not a pile of dust) it springs back to life. This is left as an exercise to the reader. If you kill a little yellow salamander, the juveniles, they explode after three rounds. Okay, cool! That means you have to plan out your combat, or take special actions, and generally maneuver cleverly, I dig it. Green salamanders, their larger brothers, explode after an hour, and cause 10 damage over time. What’s this going to be used for except a gotcha against the players who take a rest on a battlefield, or someone who didn’t bury enemy corpses as a matter of course? Whoops, you guys didn’t respect the elemental monsters trying to kill you, now you’re responsible for a forest fire that killed dozens.


What do they call a mole in Scotland?

Demons are demons from Hell the void. Okay, so picture a demon, right? Cool, whatever thing you immediately thought of is what you got here. The only one of any particular interest is the Shadow Bird, which is a shadow masquerading as a crow. They’re messengers for demonic cultists (and remember, worshiping Rabbit Satan inevitably mutates you into a monster, and that’s about all you get out of the bargain). That’s about it, though. Turns out quite a big crow still isn’t that much of a threat to somebody with armor and a polearm or crossbow.

There are drakes. Not dragons, it says “drake” very clearly right there. It looks like a dragon, and one of them is even a giant devious schemer, but there are no dragons here. End of story.

There’s fey, and I’ll be honest, I think it’s kinda sus to describe them as “good or neutral,” but we’re dealing with the kind of idealized Fantasia fairies here, rather than the awful monsters from mythology. Fungi folk! Not too bad! Peaceful mushroom guys that come in day, night and woodland varieties. No great shakes mechanically, but they’re happy to tend their worm farms. You might get a quest to go kill some goblins from these guys.

And speaking of, Goblins are all warped descendants of former critters. This is distinct from someone who worshiped Rabbit Satan recently, which are underlings. They’re wandering monsters without much of a society, living as thieves and bandits, and occasionally as the hired muscle for more powerful beasts. Goblins are called out as not very intelligent, except for the single one in a generation who is [s]Jareth[/i] an excellent tactician and leader who can organize a horde. Goblins get a bonus to “raid in packs of 6 or greater.” Like, total six or more goblinoids on the board? Six adjacent? Does it persist if you kill one of the six, etc? Goblins will also mechanically attempt to flee once they’re outnumbered. No word on what happens if there’s nowhere to run at that point.

Goblin Goblins, or the prototypical version, are weird. They’re the disposable mook of this game. They’re stupid with maxed AGI, but they’re also slow to move around the board. They can also huck grenades? No word on what goblin goblins once were, but I’d assume mice.

Orcs are also goblins, the twisted remnants of boars, which are otherwise nowhere to be seen in this game. Orcs start to vary things up a big - you get a base stat block, with some alternate powers to simulate a warlock instead of your standard axe guy. Orcs deal an extra point of damage for every successful attack they land, up to +3. If they whiff, that resets to zero. Have fun tracking that.

GNOll - Generic nonentity opponent, mk. II

Gnolls are a bit of a mess. Former rats that are supposed to be the sneaky assassin-y goblinoid. They have a follow-on to their main attack like a lot of aligned monsters, where they can spend MP to hit you with a point of poison damage if they damage you. But they also introduce facing into the combat system for a backstab entry. Surprise! We’re told gnolls come in packs of 8-12 like goblins, buuut we’ve also not actually been given any encounter-building framework at this point. It’s really all supposed to be keyed off that random encounter chart, but that also doesn’t tell you how many of the things you’re supposed to drop on the players.

There’s bugs and slimes. Have you played a fantasy game ever? Okay, moving on.

Strange creatures come from the Mythos plane. There’s lots of generic evocative names and mention of the dread god Too Many X’s. Suspects include Literally a Malboro but Upside Down, Bat with Too Many Wings, and that’s it. Welp.

Remember what I said about underlings in the goblin section? They’re the more recent addition to Rabbit Satan’s cult? Well, no they’re not, suddenly. Apparently nobody is worshiping Rabbit Satan actively, because they all turn into these things and they've been cursed for generations, but also there's a cultist entry for Rasselbok worshipers, so they are, and it's all very muddled. Underlings live underground and they don’t care for sunlight, but it doesn’t do anything to them mechanically. Kobolds are goblins, but weaker, and also uglier. Bugbears are orcs, but weaker, and cannibalistic.Trolls are more like a sahuagin, so a bigger, underwater orc, which is vaguely poisonous. They’re still weak to fire and regenerate, though.


I don’t wanna be buried...

Undead are the usual suspects, but they take damage from healing spells, like in Final Fantasy. No particulars are given as to what would happen if you rubbed a skeleton with the healing strawberry jam, and that’s a shame. Great illustration, though.

The bestiary closes with a template to make your own monsters! It’s a blank character sheet with no guidance whatsoever.

Treasure’s a mixed bag, oh ho ho ho ho. For starters, not much in the way of illustrations here - everything's a generic treasure chest or an adventurer going on adventures, which isn't bad, but a definite contrast to the equipment chapter. Most of these entries should be in the gear chapter, because there’s a lot of “that thing you had, but more” effects involved. You’ve got a bag of holding equivalent, a magic lightbulb, a movement booster, items to increase your specific typed damage (by a whole two points, yeesh). Nothing here will capture your imagination if you’ve seen a DMG from any edition before.

Random treasure is generated by looking at a category, from small to “Dragon’s hoard” (no dragons!). You can get one, two, three, five, or eight rolls on the treasure table, depending on the size of the loot drop. No clarification as to how much treasure should be provided at a given moment, of course.

A full 40% of your treasure rolls will be on the underwhelming coin table, which is usually not much for your trouble, either. You’ve got a ten percent chance to pick up a mundane weapon, which may not be of a type you’re specced for. 5% chance for armor, which you may not be strong enough to use. 5% of your draws will be an FF accessory, which you may already have. Mundane items make up a full 20% of the loot table, so enjoy getting to the end of the campaign and stumbling over someone’s used camping gear and half-eaten bottle of jam. 8% of the time you’ll get a magic item, which cascades into a sub-table roll. Finally there’s a 2% chance you pick up a mana stone - you know, the thing you need to do anything with your character once you hit level 4 and up?

I also have no idea if these are total rolls for the whole party, or if you’re rolling a potential eight times on the tables for each character. It’d be good to have a recommended level of treasure by level, but that ain’t here.

Here’s an example of each kind of loot I just rolled.

Small - 40 Nuts, or 4 Berries, the actually useful coins
Medium - A maul and a glaive
Large - a piece of jerky (heal a whole 5 HP, once), chainmail, 8 Berries (the useful coin)
Trove - oil, nutcake, 9 Berries, a sweet roll, and a flail
Dragon’s Horde - 7 Berries, a sweet roll, 36 Nuts, basic spellbook, gloves that give you +2 Phy, 32 Berries, the same basic spellbook, oil

If you’re going to have rewards and progression gated behind random rolling, it needs to be something exciting and valuable at every level. Bounded probabilities are a thing! You should never have the best possible loot drop for your players resulting in pocket change worth less than their starting funds and items they could buy at chargen.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


So you're telling me worshiping Rabbit Satan is a losing proposition with unimpressive demons that are supposedly formed of the thoughts and fears of their victims, and it mostly just leads to you being hollowed out and mutated?

That sounds familiar.

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

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



I feel like General Woundwart needs to show up and beat up Rabbit Satan to arrange for an interesting villain

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


General Woundwart was hardcore.

I still suspect Watership Down had something to do with why the rabbits were the crazy militaristic space fascists in Albedo.

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