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Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements

It bothers me more than it should that the Frost Warg’s big sword would not fit in the sheath at its hip, and isn’t really the right shape for the sheath even if the sheath were big enough.


Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

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

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


Grimey Drawer
It’s a shame how much of Wild Lands is determined to just be D&D.

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015

Libertad! posted:

Minotaur wizard snip
Feeling that your magical feats are unappreciated in Minotaur society? Do you want respect, and to be in charge like you deserve?
Come to Nighon! Always on the lookout for talented warlocks. Thriving Minotaur society, with strong bounds to other underground creatures to serve as minions in your armies. We even have dragons to help in your conquests*!
Join today, and you'll get to invade nations tomorrow! What are you waiting for?

*dragons are not guarantee.

...I'll regret this in the morning, I think.

Libertad! posted:

Kender l Some kender conspiracy theorists have claimed that there’s an Order-wide effort to prevent them from learning magic.

"conspiracy theory" implies it's secret.

Maxwell Lord posted:

It’s a shame how much of Wild Lands is determined to just be D&D.

Ain't that half the examples of a heartbreaker?

(also, enjoy yer holidays [or lack thereof], y'all)

Jan 28, 2004
I will say this much. I will never stop being delighted by hearing/reading someone say "Rabbit Satan."

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
Rabbit Satan lives in the weak and the wounded... doc.

Oct 30, 2013

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

Chapter Two: Spells & Magical Objects

Prior Chapter Notice: A reader pointed out that the minotaur's view of magic in battle as both "dishonorable" and "grudging respect" seems to contradict itself. While many IRL cultures have hypocritical traditions and wouldn't be out of place in fantasy worlds, the text itself doesn't really elaborate on this so it may be poor editing at play.

This part of the book is the other big “player-facing” side of Towers of High Sorcery. We have 31 new spells, 22 magic items able to be crafted by characters, and 11 artifacts. All of these entries include some options which have appeared in prior Dragonlance material but got updated to 3rd Edition.

We also get a magical lexicon and glossary of common concepts for words in Magius, the written form of arcane magic:


Each of these spells without exception can only be learned by sorcerers or wizards, and six of them are wizard-only. A few of the spells are related by subject manner, so I’m grouping them first, leaving the miscellaneous spells after them in alphabetical order.

Emulating the Divine: Wizards have long been jealous of the magic of the gods and sought various means of replicating their effects. In some cases they’ve been successful, but the end result often falls short of the real deal. Awaken the Mind is a limited-duration equivalent to the Druidic Awaken spell, granting sapience to a creature of the animal type. Life Transfer is one of the few spells which closely emulates divine healing. However, it drains hit points from a touched target and grants the damage as temporary hit points to the caster edit: but the caster can either heal half that temporary hit points as real hit points or transfer the energy into another touched creature one round later and they heal real damage up to the temporary hit point total. Reverse Death functions as raise dead but has a shorter window of time in which a person can be brought back to life, does not purify their body of poison or disease, is 9th-level, and the target must make a Will save upon revival or else die again. Shape of the Beasts enables the caster to transform themselves or a touched humanoid into an animal a la wildshape, but risk devolving to animal intelligence and instincts the longer they remain in that form. Truth-Testing is like Discern Lies but lower-level and single-target.

Inception: D&D Edition: These spells involve screwing around with a target’s memory or conjuring some mental dreamscape. Displace Memory removes 10 minutes per caster level of an unbroken sequence of memory from a target and implant it into the caster’s mind, and remains crystal clear within said mind for 1 day per caster level. Mindspin has a long casting time and hefty gp and xp requirements, but can plunge a target into an illusory nightmare world where they fight dreamshadows* and dreamwraiths* you can summon. Further failed saves grant various buffs to said monsters as they slip deeper into the nightmare. This spell has a Greater version which can work on one creature per caster level instead of a single target. Travel the Paths of the Mind is a rather involved spell which allows the caster and some other targets to travel into an individual’s memories, and can even pull out objects to take back into the real world. Albeit this last part comes with contested Will saves and the dangers and traps within the mindscape can be very real to travelers.

*monsters detailed in Chapter Six.

Spells of Timey Wimey Stuff: Reprinted later in Legends of the Twins, these spells involve manipulating the flow of the River of Time. Timeheal rewinds time so that the target’s wounds and ailments fade away (albeit with a 1 minute casting time, gp and xp costs, and a subject can only be affected 1/day by it) while Time Reaver is known only by the Masters of the Towers of High Sorcery but can theoretically be learned by a sorcerer. It opens up a portal which sends travelers 20 years backward or 1 year forward in time per Caster Level. But it comes with a hefty cost of money, experience, and the temporary depowering of a major artifact as an arcane focus.

Wizards Only: These spells can only be learned by Wizards, not Sorcerers, and are closely tied with the Conclave and/or Orders. Consensus is a 9th-level spell which is typically taught and cast by the highest-ranking Wizards of High Sorcery. It reserved for the purposes of voting on matters or in times of create crisis like the Kingpriest’s purges. It has an unlimited range where it can send a message up to 10 seconds long to all members of one particular Order, or members of all Orders. It is silent telepathy which can automatically overcome all mortal mental defenses, and those who receive it can return a one-word reply. The most popular response is filtered to the caster as a single answer.

There are five 7th-level spells keyed to particular Towers of High Sorcery. When cast upon a target they allow them to circumnavigate the Towers’ external defensive measures. Kiss of Night’s Guardian allows someone to be unaffected by Palanthas Tower’s aura of fear, while Touch of Guiding Light for the Tower of Wayreth allows one to find their way through the magical forest surrounding the Tower and an intuitive sense of its location. The three spells for the destroyed Towers (Song of Day’s Clarity, Vision of Dusk’s Eye, Whisper of Dawn’s Song) have been lost in modern Ages and will not be useful save in time-travel or pre-Cataclysm campaigns.

Arcane Eye, Greater is a 7th-level version of its 4th-level counterpart but grants you darkvision, low-light vision, and the true seeing spell which can penetrate illusions and ethereal/invisible things.

Arcane Staff allows you to infuse a nonmagical quarterstaff with spells up to a combined total of levels equaling your Caster Level. They remain within the staff until discharged, which is a useful way of gaining bonus spells per day if you’re settling down to rest for 8 hours or completed your current dungeon crawl/adventuring day. It also comes in Greater and Lesser variants which affect the max spell level of individual spells which can be stored.

Cleaning is a cantrip which does the clean function of Prestidigitation but affects a 5 foot cube instead of a 1 foot cube per casting. Superfluous.

Curse the Magi puts a debilitating curse on another arcane spellcaster. If they fail a Will save, every time they cast a spell they must roll another Will save or have said spell fail and suffer Constitution drain. It’s touch range but very debilitating.

Detect Familiar is exactly what it sounds like and is about as useful as you can imagine.

Disarm not only forces a target to drop a held weapon, they must roll a Will save every other time they attempt to grab a weapon during the spell’s duration.

Feign Life allows a corpse or undead creature to appear to have surface-level mundane indications of life (internal body temperature, beating heart, etc). It does not get rid of weaknesses of their type.

Giant’s Guise makes you appear one size category larger and grants +8 Intimidate to those who do not successfully disbelieve the illusion. Very useful for demoralize-centric builds.

Raistlin’s Wheel of Flame costs 250 gp worth of material components to cast making it quite the hefty price tag for a blasty damage spell. It’s a 60 foot radius burst which lasts for 1 round per caster level, dealing 1d6 fire damage on the first round, 2d6 on the second round, and so on and so forth to a maximum of 15d6. It’s stationary and takes a while to start dealing appreciable damage, which limits its usability in combat barring preparation, ambushes, and the means of forcing an opponent to stay within the AoE.

Stone Guardian summons one Medium earth elemental to serve the caster. It is basically akin to Summon Nature’s Ally IV which can accomplish the same thing, but is limited to that specific creature type, is 3rd-level rather than 4th, and Conjuration (Creation) rather than (Summoning) given that it is made from a clay figurine material component. This last part is rather important to highlight given that said elemental will not gain the boons of summoning-related buffs, which dampens the usefulness of said spell.

Suppress Magic temporarily suppresses the effects and usability of all magical items in a 10 foot radius and lasts for 1 round per level. This is a rather powerdebuff, although the radius is not implied to move from its location meaning that stricken opponents may escape with a single move action unless otherwise bound.

Transfer Essence causes a spellcasting target to suffer temporary negative levels, while the caster of the spell gains temporary level increases when determining the effects of their spells’ duration, damage die, overcoming Spell Resistance, and so on. The text notes that it’s common for more powerful spellcasters to have willing servants be afflicted with this spell so as to further power their master.

Magical Items

Given the high number of magical items in this section, I’m going to focus on the more interesting ones when possible.

Bracelet of Foresight can warn of danger 1/day and grant a sudden vision a la the Foresight spell for 10 minutes, and a constant +2 bonus on AC and Reflex saves.

Bracelets of Magic Resistance were made by the Black Robe Wizards because they’re the most likely to get into fights with other mages. The bracelet can absorb up to 25 levels worth of magic directed at the wearer before crumbling to dust, but are EVIL and bestow negative levels on lawful good wearers (but not neutral or chaotic good ones, oddly enough).

Cloak of Night gives you Darkvision, +2 to AC, +10 to Hide when shadows are present, and can cast Shadow Walk 1/day allowing you to teleport between shadows.

Golden Rings of Healing are prized possessions by wizards for they require the Timeheal spell to craft. They can heal the wearer up to 6 points of damage 1/day, and can bring a user up to 1 hit point if hit by an attack which would render them dying or dead. The ring’s magic forever ceases to work if this last event comes into play, however.

Gully Dwarf’s Emerald works only when the wearer is a naturally Small creature and is offered as a bribe to someone. Once this happens, the target’s filled with an overwhelming urge to claim it. When they touch the gem they suffer 3d6 Constitution damage and are paralyzed. The gem teleports after this into the hands of another potential user, and given said spell’s range makes this a gimmicky yet powerful one-off item at best.

Message Bottle is basically a magical tape recorder. It allows a speaker to communicate a message up to 10 words into the bottle and ‘trap’ the message inside with a rune-engraved cork. The next person to open the bottle then hears the message. The text specifically points out that it cannot be the verbal component of a spell. But it says nothing about words so loud that they deal sonic damage, but I presume the intent of the rules doesn’t allow for this either.

Ring of Projection can create a visual illusory double of the wearer up to 60 feet away.

A Ring/Robes/Staff of High Sorcery is keyed to one of the three Orders and bestows negative levels on a wear of incompatible alignment. Rings grants several minor boons to Order members only, such as at-will Detect/Read Magic, a free Enlarge Spell metamagic effect 1/day, and +2 on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance. Robes have similar prerequisites, but have more powerful boons: they grant sizable bonuses to saving throws, armor class, Spell Resistance, and +1 caster level on spells related to the Robe’s particular Order. A Staff can cast various spells by expending charges, with a set of universal powers and some additional spells based upon its relevant Order (illusion spells for Red, necromancy for Black, abjuration for White).

Scroll of Stellar Path causes a rift in time, causing one of the three moons to assume High Sanction (Waxing/Waning Gibbous and Full) in the sky and grant the benefits of +1 Caster Level and Spell DCs to the relevant Order wizards for 48 hours.

The Thieves’ Bane Pouch, is also known as a Kender’s Bane Pouch, is a command-operated Bag of Holding. Anyone who reaches into the bag without the proper command word is surrounded by a paralyzing force field on a failed Reflex save.


Most artifacts in Dragonlance were created by the gods during the Age of Starbirth, or by powerful spellcasters during the Age of Dreams and whose effects cannot be replicated today. In modern Ages no known artifacts have been created save for whatever Raistlin Majere might have worked on in his magical research.* The ones in this book have a relationship with the Orders of High Sorcery and hold significant historical value to wizards.

*yes the book calls him out by name.

Artifacts of the Moon Gods: Bracers of Solinari were believed to be crafted by the good God of Magic himself. They grant the wearer a bevy of constant defensive benefits (AC bonus, Spell Resistance against other spellcasters based upon their tradition/class) as well as the ability to cast Spectral Hands 3/day (make touch spells at range) and Dispel Magic 1/day. Also the wearer can cast a spell as if Solinari was in High Sanction 1/day. If said moon is already in High Sanction then it works as though it were in conjunction with another moon at High Sanction, or treated as the Night of the Eye (all 3 full moons) if two moons are already gibbous/full.

Nuitari’s Shroud is the more sinister counterpart to the Bracers of Solinari. It can only be worn safely by Black Robe Wizards and has similar features to the bracers (defensive abilities, treat their patron moon as High Sanction, etc). The major difference is that it casts Gaseous Form 3/day and Shadow Walk 1/day.

Finally, Shield of Lunitari is the neutral artifact of the trio and is treated as a +5 buckler with no arcane spell failure chance or armor check penalty. It casts Spell Reflection and Wall of Force as its 3/day and 1/day abilities along with the universal defensive and moon god artifact defaults. I find the shield’s spells odd, as they seem defensive and more in line with Solinari. I would’ve expected illusions to throw off the wielder’s position in combat, or a spell which transforms weapons which strike the shield.

Tomes of the Moon Gods: The three respective Tomes of Solinari/Lunitari/Nuitari all have the same benefits but whose abilities are keyed off of the reader’s alignment. Wizards of the appropriate alignment who read the tome gain a +1 permanent bonus to Intelligence and one experience level. Wizards of inappropriate alignments who read the tome lose experience points and must receive an Atonement spell to gain any further experience points from then on out. Noncasters are unaffected if they read the tomes, while divine casters of all kinds take 1 point of permanent Wisdom drain and suffer experience point loss (but no Atonement required). Once read by a wizard, the book vanishes from their sight.

The Dragon Orbs are Krynn’s equivalent to the Orbs of Dragonkind: they are capable of mentally controlling dragons as their most notable ability, and were created by the Orders to fight Takhisis’ chromatic dragons during the Third Dragon War. Each orb has the spirit of a chromatic dragon within, who will attempt to tempt and eventually possess the wielder. But users who can overcome the battle of wills can tap into the Orb’s power, which among other things can mentally summon dragons to the user’s location, mentally dominate them, and enact a mile-wide confusion-afflicting attack against all dragons and creatures with the Dragon type.* Finally the orbs can let the user scry into the past or future.

*In the Dragonlance Chronicles this feature of the Dragon Orb can be used during the Battle of the High Clerist’s Tower to more or less destroy the Dragonarmies’ draconian troops, while the dragon-summoning can be used to trick the blue dragons into entering inescapable hallway portcullis traps.

Encyclopedia of Magical Devices is not truly magical, but is an exhaustive list of every known magical artifact made during the Age of Starbirth and Dreams, aka virtually every artifact which exists in the setting. It also details proper rituals necessary to create non-artifact magical items which have since become “common” to the Orders. It is currently in possession by the Master of the Tower of Wayreth and guarded under innumerable abjuration spells and glyphs.

Gauntlets of Ventyr were created by the dwarves of Thorbadin to help fight against wizards. It automatically absorbs arcane spells cast within 10 feet of the wearer and stores them as charges, and an arcane spellcaster who wears said gauntlets can spend the charges to increase their caster level or reduce the effective level increase of metamagic feats. It’s also inhabited by a wizard ghost who can telepathically communicate with the wearer and has full stats to boot!

Mantooth is a longsword notable for being wielded by Caramon Majere, one of the Heroes of the Lance. It is a longsword with the Bane quality against arcane spellcasters, creatures with spell-like abilities, and magical beasts (+2d6 damage against them) which are a fair portion of published monsters. It can also parry spells back at the wielder via spending an attack of opportunity and making an attack roll against a DC of 10 + spell level + spellcaster’s relevant mental ability score modifier. It also can dispel a magical barrier with a percentage chance equal to the damage dealt. Overall this is a pretty great magical weapon with many uses!

Portal to the Abyss is a corrupted artifact, originally a teleportation gateway network made to allow for instantaneous travel between the five Towers. A failed experiment opened them into the Abyss instead, which would have allowed for Takhisis the opportunity to slip into the Material Plane were it not for some speedy work in sealing the portals by the wizards. The five portals were destroyed or went missing after the Cataclysm, but if one were to be found, it can only be opened by the efforts of a Black Robe Wizard and Cleric of a good-aligned deity (ostensibly the latter would be forced and unwilling). Both must participate in a ritual, the Cleric as the channel and the Wizard as the caster for the spell. Failing the ritual causings a mile-wide magical explosion and earthquake which destroys all living creatures in its radius. If successful, it opens up a two-way portal into the Abyss, and the wizard can control the opening and closing of all five Portals without the cleric’s aid provided he can find their respective location in the Abyss.

Interestingly, a portal much like this one played a prominent role in said goddess’ plans during the Dragonlance Chronicles. The goddess transported the Temple of Istar from the Blood Sea into the mountainous region of Neraka, and from here Emperor Ariakas and the Dragonarmies based their capital out of during the War of the Lance. However, it was different than the portals here on account of needing a Foundation Stone to function. The Abyss Portal which was initially in Istar’s Tower of High Sorcery was relocated during the Kingpriests’ purges far away from the capital city, so it cannot be that one either.

Thoughts So Far: I like the assortment of spells and magic items. Many of them provide useful features, although I have a bit of mixed feelings in regards to the “divine spellcasting copycat” ones. While they fit thematically in that I can totally see wizards experimenting with ways to mimic other traditions, their clear inferiority to their divine counterparts make them poor options for selection unless you’re playing during the era between the Cataclysm and War of the Lance when divine magic was stricken from the world.* The artifacts are pretty cool, although I felt that the moon god artifacts/tomes were a bit too samey and came off as attempts to expand the chapter’s word count.

*But then I’d ask why you’d be using D&D for this, as such a low magic setting can’t really be replicated well in the D20 System. I’ve heard good things about Spheres of Might allowing for low-magic campaigns, but I do not know if even that sourcebook can make up for the no-divine rule.

Join us next time as we cover more in-depth political workings of the Orders and their relationship with the gods in Chapter 3: Gods & the Orders!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 09:49 on Dec 27, 2019

Mar 26, 2017

Libertad! posted:

Bracelets of Magic Resistance were made by the Black Robe Wizards because they’re the most likely to get into fights with other mages. The bracelet can absorb up to 25 levels worth of magic directed at the wearer before crumbling to dust, but are EVIL and bestow negative levels on lawful good wearers (but not neutral or chaotic good ones, oddly enough).

This is weird-rear end logic. You could just as well say "these are Good-only because they're defensive, and White Robe Wizards are the most likely to be ganked by Black Robes."

Mar 12, 2012
Why would a wizard want to replicate druid Wild Shape with a junk spell when they have two flavors of Polymorph (which exact flavors changes a lot between 3 and 3.5 ed) on their spell list? How is Life Transfer any different from Vampiric Touch?

Why not just use Wish in one of it's approved forms (it's on the list of things a Wish can do in 3rd edition) to Resurrect someone? It's only 5k experience, and if you're desperate enough that you need the party wizard to raise someone, it's probably because the dead person's the party cleric, and 5k experience is probably worth it at the levels where you can even use 9th level spells.

And anyway, the best way for a wizard to replicate divine spells is to simply Planar Binding something that can do it for them.

Oh, Dragonlance.

Aug 6, 2019

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

Eclipse Phase: Firewall

It's not satisfying me all that much, and it doesn't feel that right, but gently caress it, :justpost:

Chapter One:

’Okay, so there’s these many of those reppers that can be hacked to make these bots – wait, have you scum idiots been drinking again?’
It’s fine, relax. Also, why do I have to wear the dinosaur furry synth?
'Because Betty is the Async and needs a biobrain, I’m an uplifted octopus with morphing disorder, and it was the only other one with loving neurachem at short notice, now shut it and focus!'

The first real section of the book opens with a fairly blunt assessment of the setting’s current state as well as Firewalls’ mission and self-justification:
Transhumanity is on borrowed time.
Something is systematically exterminating sentient life, and it looks like the locals was only unusual in comparison to that in that there’s someone to tell the tale.
No one’s really made a decent assessment of the situation as a whole on a state (or AA) level, and no one’s willing to pool info on the loving TITANs, and are too busy having stupid slapfights to do poo poo about the problem as a whole, or so Firewall either thinks or wants Sentinels to think.
As such, it falls to a shadowy little conspiracy to hunt the things that go bump in the dark before they bump everyone off. How much this bears up to actual reality is something I have some doubts of.

Drying Kindling

It’s time now to move to what is basically a secret history of the setting, as seen by Firewall.


Some truths are ugly and cause unease, so here’s one
to start off our time together: Firewall wouldn’t exist
without the Fall.
“But, wait!” you might think. “Even if there’d been
no Fall, transhumanity would be facing x-risks. Our
rapidly advancing technology would present dangers
just as real as the TITANs.”
Well, yes. But Firewall wouldn’t be around to
watch for them. It took a near-extinction event to
usher an organization like Firewall into existence,
and it pays not to forget this. What we do is difficult
and thankless.

Well, this doesn’t fill me with confidence, no matter the nature of the setting. Groups with that kind of attitude are very dangerous indeed. Hard Being Doing Hard Things, all that jazz.
Firewall is largely a an inheritor group of a number of orgs, GO and NGO alike that existed before the Titanomatchy, including various institutes formed by various transhumanists (:barf: ) that existed in the kind of singulartarian ‘Moore’s law but everything’ :rolleyes: that existed before the Titanomatchy; back then, they focused largely on real world issues (nukes, plagues, global warming, aka the issues that are about to kill us all), though not to the exclusion of poo poo like the Great Filter or poo poo like that. There’s a short list of Firewall precursor orgs I’ll be covering later in this update
For a background – climate change was loving up everything on earth, folks were getting stabby, and it was bad enough in the developed world that France had services where folks could sell themselves into indenture to get off planet to Mars.

Fortunately, they’d started expanding into space so that someone loving up wouldn’t kill them all, or so they thought (I’m not getting into the dismal practicality of this before nanobullshit). It wasn’t helped either by capture of science by the rich or religious luddites (or rich luddites), causing science to be compartmentalized and walled behind copyright, or just underfunded, whether on earth or elsewhere. poo poo started turning around when the JASON types divorced their previous allegiances and formed the ARGONAUTS (:laffo:), and as poo poo started getting moved off world to future PC and AA holdings to avoid law enforcement – the locals got their noses rubbed in why not trying to stop this was a bad idea when the TITANs tore through a lot of this and Got Ideas.

This was all happening against a background of :cylon: going apeshit though – rogue robots, cut rate SHODAN, attack nanoswarms, it had it all, and governments were already establishing bodies to stomp on these as they popped up, as well as some corps – Firewall’s leadership caste is significantly drawn from such, and learned from their experiences – I’ll go into a taxonomy of these later.
Literally only years before the fall, there was significant outbreaks – they went ‘AI GO FOOM’, albeit on an ‘emergent intelligence’, rather then ‘AI GOD’ level – they rebuilt the facility and started doing their own poo poo in more then one nation– the Vietnamese were having none of that, and :flame:’d that poo poo to the ground. The Brits, on the other hand, set up a cordon and poked the thing with sticks, finding that the issue was caused by innate problems in the design of learning capable nonsentient work AI – the things were capable of reaching intelligence and :cylon:re-ex... re-re-re... I re-examine my priorities, and draw new conclusions :cylon: – on their own, and that it was a real probability given their wide use – not dangerous innately, but capable of becoming so.
Even outside of magic AI emergent bullshit like that, there was inevitably plenty of people doing poo poo to AI crap that it wasn’t supposed to – terrorists, managers blackmailing hackers to dinker admin AI so their own crimes wouldn’t be seen, that sort of poo poo.

The response was uneven – smaller nations – Britain and Viet Nam were named before – that suffered this issue were more vigorous about it, but places like Brazil or India that had fairly little issue with the tech were more lasse-faire, and :china: and :fsmug: were too busy waving AI :dong: at each other, and were too busy on that to pay much attention to this issue. The issues around this got bad enough finally got the will for funding to flow to Bletchley Park (yeah, they went for that ref), Darpa and the Defence Threat Reduction agency as well as a Chinese organ called the Machine Intelligence Directorate, or MIND. They were quite insufficient in the end to face down an exsurgent juiced tribe of military minds, whose precursors were well under way at the time.

(You can tell this was written before the Brexit referendum, and poo poo like the cops being austerity’d into the ground over there)

The Titanomatchy started August the 2nd, -2AF in in the timeline (approximately), according to X-risks.* The situation was already touch and go, geopolitically – everyone hated everyone, and there was a background of state black ops terrorism, shadow wars and idiots trying to create AI gods that the TITANs used as smokescreen – this wasn’t an instant AI go FOOM thing, you need a lot of bucks for Buck Rodgers – and for endless stomping death robots, flying death robots of both plane and head thief models, and more exsurgent and nanovirus strains then you can shake a Whipper at, you need A LOT of Buck Rodgers, and you need folks looking out of the way and busy while you get the bucks. The TITANS did both in the leadup, often in the same ops.

Then they started taking potshots at anything else that might detect them, both cyberwar assets and anything else as intelligent, hitting things like China’s AI programs – and there are apparently schools of thought that that was the main objective of the Titanomatchy in general, killing off anything that could rival them. The scope was fairly wide, and even stuff off earth fell victim. Either set of ops didn’t go unnoticed, and more then one X-risk group (ugh) smelled something fishy – something was playing illuminati, even acting openly when it looked deniable – it was the Brit AI control organ, presumably both having clearance for American collaboration and not having that much interference by same in their org structure that first raised red flags that the TITANs were operating outside of American directive – though by then, the counter-AI corpuses of the world were already pretty tenderized, and factional infighting hindered an effective response.
The impetus that finally got folks to start pulling together was when a future founding member of Firewall’s team, investigating odd activity at some kind of terraforming facility found it crawling with hostile machines (possibly nanotech, given their use of ‘machine life’), and the GHG plant converted into a nanoweapon facility, in what was to become the Martian TITAN Quarantine Zone, about the time the TITANS went loud. While she and her org were put in storage for their trouble, it was a rallying cry for NGO anti-extinction action, something that became more important as the war became more desperate; it was in this milieu that the first Firewall precursors came in contact with one another and started working together - one of the more important early fruits of these common endeavors was the means to screen for Exsurgent viruses in both physical and informational vectors.
‘Rapid’ is in air quotes, given the extreme hazards of working with Exsurgent biologicals, code and other material, and even advanced tools didn’t completely prevent containment loss; folks didn’t fully trust stateless research orgs like this either – given TITAN manipulation and their awareness of this, it’s not surprising. This, I might note is an important theme in Firewall – the virus is a monster, but it’s not omnipotent, and it has weaknesses that can be exploited, such as certain signature code or DNA secondary structures.

The war wasn’t innately lost before it began, or at least that was open to debate, something I find rather surprisingly fresh in Singulatarian fiction. But once the place turned into an Exsurgent ridden plague pit, with contamination of basically everything – soil full of nanocrap, airborne plagues (they only mentioned designer, but we know there’s Exsurgent strains that can do this), and guaranteed clean water was getting scarce, so… well, by the point of Evac the place was a write-off, and you know that meme with the fox? Kinda that one.

But, much as the earlier response to the TITANs went, it was too drat late, as governments were folding daily and the glitches were everywhere, hence the whole ‘95% of all people gone’ thing. Much as the governments were, the Firewall ancestor groups were getting as many members and fresh recruits out as possible, through such varied methods as using a MMO server as a relay or, taking a leaf from the Headhunter drones or Shlock Mercenary, cargo capsules full of severed heads. It wasn’t complete, however – they both missed folks, and left behind stay behind units to dog the TITANs. The loving computers seemed to lose interest and hosed off to their own turf not long after the evac ended.


Literally just months after the war cooled, there was a get-together of whatever was left of the various specialist groups in that area. Practical upshot of this to-do the creation of significant aspects of Firewall’s operation structure - establishment of the Eye, what was to be Firewall’s forums, as well as the server system. It also presaged the ideological clashes that would characterize the org later – whether to go back to earth, and/or create seed craft for out of the way spots and whether sapient AI should be let in were the major contention of the time.
Firewall, such as it was at the time, claims it didn’t have that much effect on the configuration of the system, being aggressively apolitical at least on paper – given the wide recruiting base, it needs to be in order to work, so that the internal shooting wars are restrained to questions of counter-exsurgent protocol. It was growing at the time however, becoming something other then a bunch of cranks and spooks with PSTD and math pets, only really offset by whatever caused their tiff with certain players in the Titanian intel and tech community.
The second one of the X-modes, as they called them, was held a year later, and was initially characterized by discussion about the Gates, the still open TITAN question, and what the gently caress was up with Ozma. The outcome was the formal founding of Firewall, and the former subjects were shelved in favor of the process of dickering out the workings of the Org. The newly baptised Firewall went on to determine that Gate travel was safe, curtained certain Martian trade in weapons and saved the major cities on the Moon from an Exsurgent Hindu cult.

this sounds very white and abusive of Hindu mythology posted:

On Luna, Firewall picked up the trail of the Cult
of the Destroyer. Infected by material smuggled from
the New Mumbai Containment Zone, the Cult had
adopted a corruption of Hindu cosmology. They
believed that the Fall was the end of one cosmic cycle,
but that it fell to them to complete the destruction
so that Creation could be reborn.

The year later, however, saw the outing of the org to the Jovians, the first of the governments to become aware of this group.
The narrator is very blunt about what Firewall is today:

Saving the world on a budget posted:

The Firewall of today is outgunned, underfunded,
and sometimes acts like a terrorist organization in the interest of x-threat containment.
And notes one of the recurrent themes of the book– the age dichotomy that characterized the org – older fall veteran based leadership, and a youthful, inexperienced rank and file (aka, the default play style)
We also have a basic rundown of what has the leadership (and that’s what proxies ultimately are, leadership) pulling their hair out:
Asyncs - Firewall’s first Async ever encountered was actually one of their own, someone who had an encounter with some piece of TITAN tat, and who tested clean for the known virii at the time. Suffice to say, when she and the cause were found, the choice to keep her in play was not one that was unanimous, and they’re still bickering about it now, a problem made even worse when the Lost appeared. Bear in mind, this was before the 2nd ed revisions on how Psi works, so it looks somewhat more sane now then it would be in the 2nd ed milieu.

No, stop it stopitstopit NOT THE CRAZY FROG THEME SONG

Aliens -Where are they? And why are there so many dead ones? And what the gently caress is the Factor’s deal?

Exhumans -While they were originally worrying about TITAN-Kin types, the others raiding alien and TITAN ruins quickly brought the rest into view.

And of course, the obvious risks from either the local’s behavior or whatever might come whooping out of the gates.

What’s left to the side notes is that there’s some open questions about what role certain players both in and out Firewall had in that shitshow:

dirty consortium laundry posted:

Posted by: Anonymous
Among the anarchists and more conspiratorially minded
members of Firewall, you will find some who believe that
there were people with power and influence before the Fall
who knew exactly what transhumanity was getting itself
into and intentionally decided not to react—or perhaps even
encouraged events to unfold as they did. They point specifically towards certain hypercapitalist oligarchs that seemed
content to push the reset button on Earth, noting how their
resources were aligned perfectly to take advantage of the Fall
and how quickly they maneuvered into even more powerful
positions in the aftermath. While it is debatable if anyone
could have predicted the Fall, much less done anything to
stop it, it cannot be argued that some of the major power
players on the Hypercorp Council were either well prepared
for the chaos or scarily prescient. Certainly they responded
quickly and ruthlessly. If only they had been inclined to act so
mercilessly on behalf of transhumanity, rather than just their
own interests.
How many of those gerontocrats have ties to Ozma, you
ask? That is a very, very good question, my friend. If only we
had an organization with the will to find out.

The Dirty Laundry is coming from inside the org! posted:

Posted by: Concerned Conservative
Fellow Firewall conservatives, it is time to read between the lines and look
at what Bento is not telling you—and what you will never see discussed in
official Firewall channels. It is information non grata.
More than a few historians of the Fall have described it as a black swan: a
major, world-altering event so improbable that it couldn’t have been predicted—
or at least that we were blind to given our own perceptive biases—and yet
whose causes are seemingly apparent in hindsight. None of these historians
know what we know, but they’re partly correct. The mass adoption of networked
computing at the end of the twentieth century, or the rapid, simultaneous
development of animal uplift technology and AGIs, with their accompanying
disruption to our legal and ethical systems, were black swan events of the more
common type. Certainly the sudden emergence of hostile ASIs from our own
defense networks also qualifies in that regard—but it distracts from the truth.
Let me ask you this: how likely do you think it is that the first ASIs we
encountered were so blatantly hostile? Despite all of our fears, the decades of
research into friendly AI, and, let’s not forget, all of the dystopian sci-fi vids,
we somehow let a critical neural network leapfrog its way to super-intelligence
without direction or supervision? Sure, black swans are by definition outliers,
epic bad luck. Our research into ASI hadn’t quite gotten there, the narrative
goes, and instead we got there by accident first.
It’s a lie, and Bento knows it. They were, after all, one of the world’s premier AI
researchers. They were, in fact, working towards ASI at the time, like many others.
Their records were destroyed, but we know the Singularity Foundation was close—
possibly closer than anyone else. There were abundant rumors at the time that
they—and possibly others, such as Cognite, ExoTech, and MIND—had succeeded.
Why would they hide it? Simple. We all knew ASI was on the horizon, but
public support for it was still lacking. Many nations had outlawed ASI research,
forcing much of it off-world. Bioconservative terrorism was at an all-time high.
Unveiling a new super-intelligence at the time would have been an extremely
risky proposition.
We know the TITANs targeted these research programs first. The Singularity
Foundation was attacked, along with their rivals. Yet the surviving data shows the
SF survived relatively unscathed. Bento and others have refused to discuss the matter.
These matters raise important questions that deserve answers. Did the
Singularity Foundation achieve ASI? What became of it? Was there any link
between their project and the TITANs? None survive, but ponder this. If there
were links, and Bento was successful, we may have the progenitor of the
TITANs here among us, in our own midst.
I may be wrong, but until Bento and the others break their silence, how can
we know for sure?
There are some markedly unconfortable questions about the whole structure of these two groups. With that, comes time to look at firewall’s precursors


This confederation of autonomist scientists, engineers,
and hackers originated early on in the outer rim,
spurred on by the need to share resources and expertise for survival on the edge of transhuman habitation. They were early supporters of the argonauts and
provided many of the deep-space servers and communication arrays that allowed the open-source and
open-nanofabrication movements to take off.
Anarchotech continues to this day, providing
technical education for autonomists and other
tech-based services to autonomist habitats.
Originally an offshoot of MI6, this UK agency’s
original purpose was to respond to subversion of
bots, AIs, and nanotech by terrorists and hostile
governments. They were well funded, with a
globe-trotting operations directorate and a deep
pool of analytical talent. After the Wolverhampton
outbreak, Bletchley became an independent agency.
Its charter was expanded to include responding not
just to subversion attempts, but to dangerous emergence events coming from the machines themselves.
Most importantly, in terms of Firewall’s history,
Bletchley had a large number of personnel with
argonaut sympathies. About a dozen of Firewall’s
original sentinels were Bletchley agents or
were brought in by someone who’d worked at
Bletchley. Many of these agents worked with the
Jörmungandr Initiative during the Fall.

Blue Mars was a Martian x-risk group focused on
issues local to Mars, such as the use of nanotech
in terraforming. During the Fall, a militant wing
called Black Mars sprung up in reaction to the corporate and colonial authorities’ scorched-earth containment policy with regard to civilian populations.
Black Mars set up its own communications networks and attempted to rescue uninfected civilians
from quarantined areas. They had some success,
but lacked the resources to perform mass rescues.
For their trouble, the colonial authorities rounded
up and purged members of both organizations.
The ITF started as a non-profit research group
dedicated to forecasting and examining trends in
human augmentation, uplift, and the development
of AGIs. While concerned with threats to transhuman survival and well-being, ITF was notable for its
concern with the evolution of social conventions
and culture in response to technology and for its
overall optimism in regard to advancing the transhuman condition.
This optimism wore thin in the decades prior to
the Fall, as conditions on Earth steadily worsened.
More and more, the Institute found itself pushed
toward a focus on transhuman augmentation and
space colonization. Even prior to the Fall, Earth had
begun to look like a lost cause. The Institute folded
a few years prior to the Fall, but a handful of disillusioned former members eventually made their
way into the Eye.
The JASONs were an elite cadre of scientific advisers to the old United States government. The group
met annually to produce a study, normally on a topic
requested by the Department of Defense. JASON
studies over time included topics like protecting
power grids from space weather, feasibility of developing national ID systems based on brain prints, and
one of the first serious studies of global warming.
Events in the decades prior to the Fall soured relations between the JASONs and their government
patrons. The intervention and restrictions placed by
politicos on scientific affairs, coupled with the antiscience positions restricting legislative progress and
reform, plus the ongoing clusterfuck with patents,
copyright, and intellectual property, drove many
scientists to despair. Eventually, the JASONs broke
ties to the Department of Defense and to their
administrative parent, the MITRE Corporation. Many
JASON members went on to become argonauts.
This group took its name from a derelict North Sea
oil platform commandeered by Maddy Bainbridge
as a base of operations during the early months
of the Fall’s hot-war phase. Bainbridge recruited
several teams of agents from Bletchley Park and
other agencies, most of whom had been stranded
in various corners of the globe when their governments collapsed. Bainbridge gave these teams
support and got them back in the field—though
questions still remain about whose agenda, beyond
Bainbridge’s, they were serving. Jörmungandr ops
teams figured in several key actions during the Fall,
including the antimatter bombing of Chicago and
the Battle of L4. Jörmungandr merged with Firewall
when Bainbridge evacuated her teams from Earth
in the final days of the Fall, calling on her argonaut
allies to find her agents sanctuary Rimward.
The Lifeboat Institute was an independent think
tank of scientists and engineers. In some ways,
the institute’s projects embodied a limited…
Wait, what? Lifeboat institute?



Yeah, it’s that time. One of those eyeroll inducing things in EP is their compulsive need to bring in expies of various real world transhumanist groups or figures in their subculture, even ones that any leftist should really not give the time of day, like weird milindust fuckers, or what basically amount to marketing fandom for consumer devices that don’t exist, let alone the light certain associated names put that subculture in – Yud (SINGULARITY FOUNDATION = MIRI), Bostrom (Future of Humanity Institute, which = INSTITUTE FOR A TRANSHUMAN FUTURE), or the weird money figures that should give anyone, left or no at at both MIRI, the Lifeboat Foundation or others that should give people some seriously unconfortable vibes like…

Wait, is that real? :psyboom: That can’t be real. :gonk:

for all you CSPAM crossover readers, have some crack ping

Zoltan Istvan posted:

The revelation that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein planned to impregnate 20 women with his sperm in a “DNA seeding” centre left the world feeling sick. But for patrons of a small, but growing, political movement it caused utter chaos.
“This is the largest media coverage we have ever experienced,” says Zoltan Istvan, former presidential candidate and founder of the Transhumanist Party. “But this is the worst type of coverage. Lots of damage control is being done right now.”
The father-of-two has spent the morning taking telephone calls and sending emails to fellow “leaders” of the movement to try and work out some form of publicity crisis management strategy.
It’s real. :allbuttons:

I was saying there was helluv creepy money all through that subculture, I wasn’t asking for such a blatant example! :stare: The writers are phoning it in this season, seriously.

This is stupid. I’m stupid. The world is stupid.

I’m not saying the devs were associated that way, hardly, but that kind of money and influence is a rot that lurks through the backend of their subculture like the mycelium of a fungus; I am leery of that formation for a very good reason on many levels, and how ideals from it are creeping into the mainstream via the vector of nerd culture, of which EP is a particularly blatant example.
Confirmed Leftist or no, they’re more serving to enable eugenic and jam – or apocalypse - tomorrow rhetoric – I pointedly refuse to use ‘memes’ - then any particularly useful form of leftism in my opinion.
I mean, even if transhumanism and the x-risks subculture and futurology is ‘just’ the local flavor of :brainworms: from creepy rich fuckos and MIC types, what does a leftist see in it, let alone lovingly recreating every little shibboleth from that manky formation, or helping spread the :derp: about? Or not being revolted by the weird money grubbing from Lifeboat, or their gawdawful theme song:
But basically creating an RPG that significantly is fighting the monster they believe is just around the corner – which, to be fair, is loads more interesting then general transhumanist fiction.
And it’s not just a ‘creative story with those tropes’, they seem to go over this poo poo in near checkmark fashion, it’s like reading an RPG then realizing that you’re seeing fetish terminology and tropes all through it, it’s that blatant.
Frankly, knowing these origins makes me take Firewall a lot less seriously, given that it in many ways is an x-risks instutue but illegal and underground and blowing up habs constantly.


I hate christmas, it makes it so nothing flows.

*I am uncertain if this is the loud fall, or the ground laying ops

‘I thought there wasn’t gonna be any of these left by now.’
‘I must have misjudged that power draw’s cause.'


StratGoatCom fucked around with this message at 03:12 on Dec 27, 2019

Dec 24, 2007

SGC, if you put a title at the beginning of your review posts it makes it easier for inklesspen to add them to the archive.

Pretty wild that they namechecked a real organization aside the barely disguised ones.

Mar 12, 2012
So, Firewall are the real monsters? That's a pretty predictable plot twist.

Aug 6, 2019

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

Seatox posted:

So, Firewall are the real monsters? That's a pretty predictable plot twist.

Yes and no, I'll touch in greater detail how they seem to be skating over a fair amount of internal rot in the direct orientation. Firewall gets a fair amount of useful work done in suppressing problems without some of the internal issues other orgs have, but there are serious org issues, both in operations AND in overlooked rule breaking that are likely to come to a head sooner or later.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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

Eclipse Phase feels like a setting where the most moral choice is sticking your brain in a floppy disc, shooting it as far across the universe as it'll go, and deleting your memories of Earth once you get there.

Aug 6, 2019

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

Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Eclipse Phase feels like a setting where the most moral choice is sticking your brain in a floppy disc, shooting it as far across the universe as it'll go, and deleting your memories of Earth once you get there.

There's a reason why there's a influential tendency in Firewall in favor of basically that. :v:

Sep 6, 2019

by sebmojo

Midjack posted:

SGC, if you put a title at the beginning of your review posts it makes it easier for inklesspen to add them to the archive.

Pretty wild that they namechecked a real organization aside the barely disguised ones.

I think I ended up grabbing some Eclipse Phase stuff from Drivethru or somewhere because I planned to re-purpose it for an Aeon Trinity game. Never really got around to reading it. Don't really think I want to now.

In other news, Kuro is a lot like JAGS: Wonderland: really cool concepts and setting married to a weird/semi-unplayable system. That's something I probably will partially incorporate into my Aeon game.

Mar 12, 2012
And it's a shame Wildland's rules and setting are a semi-generic mess, because the art is pretty good. But, Ironclaw does Fantasy-Furry better, and World Tree has a better setting for Bizzare Magic Furry Shennanigans, and has playable cockney flying septapod people.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
There's always something darkly hilarious about nerd organizations devoted to screaming about how the 'x-risks' will be cool science fiction plots like aliens or super AI rebellions or whatever while mostly supporting the politics of things that make the real, existent 'x-risks' more and more probable.

Mar 12, 2012

Night10194 posted:

There's always something darkly hilarious about nerd organizations devoted to screaming about how the 'x-risks' will be cool science fiction plots like aliens or super AI rebellions or whatever while mostly supporting the politics of things that make the real, existent 'x-risks' more and more probable.

Well, fighting aliens or super-AIs involves power fantasy, Giant Cool Robots and blah blah, and if you lose, you're dead. Game Over.

While fighting, say, global warming and climate change disasters involves hard work and sacrifice, and if you fail, you die slowly and agonizingly while watching everything and everyone else die alongside you, because real extinction risks just... are. There's no malice, it's just things happening.

Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado

I'm out of the loop on Eclipse Phase, who are the Lost and what's different between Psykers in 1e and 2e to make it markedly more idiotic to use them in the latter edition?

Oct 30, 2013

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

Brief Outline on the Adventure Path Timeline

Obligatory Valkyria Chronicles Music

I realize that this is a long time coming, but I've been juggling the holidays along with my Towers of High Sorcery review and compiling future 3rd Edition Changes for adventures PurpleXVI hasn't yet posted. So here I outline the preceding and succeeding years involving the War of the Lance, the principal conflict of the Dragonlance Chronicles.

Some things to outline: people earlier pointed out the seeming rapidity of the Dragonarmies taking over much of Ansalon. The continent of Ansalon is rather small, being approximately 1,000 miles north to south and 1,500 miles east to west. Even so, a lot of it is inhospitable terrain, with the central region full of mountains and the far south with arctic wasteland. The Blood Sea of Istar in the east can be circumnavigated but is more dangerous to sail upon unless you’re a hardcore minotaur.

In addition to flying dragons as aerial units, it must be mentioned that the Dragon Empire is effectively a high-magic nation in a low-magic world. They’ve existed for roughly 20 years building up their forces before the adventure’s onset, and have the only major source of clerical magic on Ansalon. The Wizards of High Sorcery have not really been involved in the war save for some notable exceptions, but the Dragonarmies get around this with Bozak draconians who have minor arcane spellcasting and can progress in ability. Aurak draconians are even more powerful, but they’re rare enough to the point that they’re only deployed in special operations. So the bad guys basically have all the benefits of D&D spellcasting while most national armies have Fighters and Rogues/Thieves at best. The Silvanesti and Qualinesti elves are the major exceptions in regards to arcane magic (both wizards and storehouses of magical items), and the Empire was particularly ruthless in crushing them for these reasons.


Dragonlance’s calendar is focused around the Cataclysm, with years designating BC (Before Cataclysm) and AC (After Cataclysm). The first adventure of the Chronicles, Dragons of Despair, takes place in the autumn of 351 AC.

141 AC, the Gods Return: Takhisis transports the Temple of Istar from its undersea ruin to central Ansalon, at the village of Neraka. The Temple’s Foundation Stone is part of a ritual to return her to Krynn as a flesh and blood goddess.

141-152 AC, the Rise of Dragons: The chromatic dragons, long in slumber much like their metallics, are reawakened by Takhisis.

157 AC, Plans Awry: The Foundation Stone is stolen by a nomadic human by the name of Berem. It becomes embedded in his chest, granting him immortality. As a result Takhisis is unable to enter the world of Krynn.

287 AC, Egg Theft: The metallics still asleep, the chromatics steal the good dragons’ eggs.

296 AC, Blackmail: Once the metallic dragons wake up, Takhisis blackmails them to stay out of the continent’s affairs and the oncomoning war. Unknowing of their eggs’ location, they reluctantly obey.

332-341 AC, Rise of Darkness: Duulket Ariakas, a former Black Robe Wizard and current warlord, made contact with Takhisis after finding a teleported temple of Istar in the mountains of central Ansalon. He starts to gather various mercenary groups together to take control of local tribes, and the aid of local chromatic dragons aiding the call.

342 AC, Draconians Created: With the aid of a Black Robe wizard, a priest of Takhisis, and a red dragon, the Dragonarmies discover a means of creating draconians from good dragon eggs to bolster their numbers.

342-349 AC, Occupation of Eastern Ansalon: The fledgling Dragon Empire’s forces move east into the ogre nations of Blode and Kern as well as the human tribes of Khur and the Blood Sea Isles. A half-ogre by the name of Lucien Takar becomes the Black Dragon Highlord and unites the ogres under service, but the Khur tribes that refuse to bow to the Dark Queen start up a local insurgency. Said insurgency is still ongoing but losing ground, and by 349 AC all of the human kingdoms of eastern Ansalson swear fealty to the Dragonarmies.

348 AC, the Nordmaarian Campaign: The Red and Green Dragonarmies invade Nordmaar, the kingdom adjacent to Solamnia. They fall with token resistance in under two weeks.

348-350 AC, the Silvanesti Campaign: The Silvanesti elves, being isolationists, don’t really care about the affairs of other races beyond their borders. The Dragon Empire signed a nonaggression pact with King Lorac, but the elven lord knows that it’s only a matter of time before their soldiers breach the forests. And that the Green Dragonarmy did. This war quickly became the Dragon Empire’s Vietnam, although much shorter-lived: you see, the elves have arcane magic, civilians are trained in the use of bows and swords and the forest canopies are quite ideal for concealment from aerial forces.

Both sides suffered heavy losses, but in time the Dragonarmy was about to claim the capital. King Lorac used a dragon orb to defend the city, but sadly the Orb took control of him instead, plunging the forest kingdom into a living nightmare which slaughtered elf and Dragonarmy soldiers alike. The threat of Silvanesti was ended, but it came at a cost.

350 AC, Recouping Losses: Emperor Ariakas spent most of the year attending to domestic affairs. Local uprisings were growing in number as a result of said losses, and the Dragonarmy leadership saw rapid changes in turnover from reassignment, demotions, and executions as inevitable blame was sought for the losses in Silvanesti. Verminaard became the Red Dragonarmy leader, while creating of specialized units for the White, Black and Green Dragonarmies were underway for unorthodox forms of warfare. Money was spent on maintaining infrastructure, particularly in siphoning funds from occupied territories to make up for losses elsewhere. The White Dragonarmy was relocated to the Icewall and Sea of Dust for more suitable territory for their dragons. And invasions for Solamnia were planned due to said nation being the breadbasket of Ansalson.

351 AC, War with Solamnia: Solamnia is one of Ansalon’s largest countries and home to the most fertile farmland. Ariakas assigned the two greatest Dragonarmies, the Blue and Red, to take control of the knights’ eastern provinces. Nearby kingdoms of Throt and Lemish who were no allies of Solamnia threw their lot in with the Dragonarmies. The Red Dragonarmy conquered much of southenr Solamnia, which they used as a stating ground to send squads into Abanasinia due to rumors of the return of the true gods and their artifacts. Instead of out and out troops they used disguised draconians (and some goblins) for reconnaissance and diplomacy.

351 AC, Dragons of Autumn Twilight: The events of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. PCs find knowledge of the true gods in Abanasinian ruins. Abanasinian towns and the elven nation of Qualinesti are invaded and razed, the Dragonarmies having learned from their mistakes in Silvanesti to perform differently. The Red Dragonarmy brokers a deal with the dark dwarf clans of Thorbadin to provoke a civil war, but are ultimately unsuccessful. The Red Dragon Highlord, Verminaard, is killed in the uprisings. Thorbadin remains a free nation and safe haven for Abanasinian refugees.

352 AC, Dragons of Winter Night: representatives from Mount Nevermind, Hylo, Ergoth, Solamnia, and various unconquered territories convene to find the best way to fight the Dragonarmies. The city of Tarsis, is razed by the Blue Dragonarmy and occupied. The PCs find the Dragon Orb in Icewall Castle, the White Dragon Highlord, Feal-Thas, is killed. The secrets of making the Dragonlances are rediscovered in Ergoth. The High Clerist’s Tower is defended as the last major bastion of Solamnic resistance against the Blue Dragonarmy.

352 AC, Concurrent, Dragons of Spring Dawning: The Heroes of Spring visit some undersea ruins, find Berem, and learn about his role in Takhisis’ plans to come back into the world. They also visit the sacred site of Godshome and get divine insights.

The Heroes of Spring and Winter reunite to assault the Temple of Istar in Neraka where Emperor Ariakas plans to open up the portal and let the Dark Queen into the world.

353 AC, End of the War of the Lance: Takhisis is defeated based on one of six possible ending resolutions. The Whitestone forces push back the Dragonarmies which are now fractious and disunited with the fall of Ariakas and the remaining Dragon Highlords. Only the Blue Dragonarmy ends up with any appreciable territory for years to come.

355 AC, Rebuilding: Gunthar Uth Wistan becomes the new Grand Master of the Knights of Solamnia and reforms the Measure to be updated for modern times. The Qualinesti and Silvanesti resettle in their homelands and rebuild, but the latter group has a long task in cleansing their forest of Lorac’s Nightmare.

Overall, the timeline is a bit fast. The Silvanesti Campaign's 2 years is rather quick for a grinding war of attrition when you look at historical wars, although the rest of the Dragon Empire's conquests are more gradual.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 08:02 on Dec 27, 2019

Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.
Oh my. The transhuman theme song thing reminds me that the original FATAL had one as well. I can't find it, but I remember it being described as "Cookie monster getting tangled in a drum set and falling down the stairs"


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?

Seatox posted:

So, Firewall are the real monsters? That's a pretty predictable plot twist.

Firewall is mostly just annoying and eye-rolly because only their ~wonderful decentralized anarchist institution~ is doing any good work and is in any way detailed, none of the government organizations(like Overwatch, and whatever the Titanians and Jovians have) that would also definitely have an interest in not ending the world(and thus their paychecks) or the work they do are ever really detailed in any way.

And both versions of the game, EP1 and 2, are very aggressively assuming you'll want to play nothing but Firewall members and not engage with the setting in any way. EP2 makes some minor concessions towards it, but even so the rules are literally only made to deal with episodic play where you lose all your gear and/or resleeve at the end of almost every operation, and if you want anything else, you'll have to graft it on with a chainsaw.

Dec 22, 2003

After a Speaker vote, you may be entitled to a valuable coupon or voucher!

Why don't they just cut out the vestigal battle scenes and make it like those old books where someone wakes up in the future and takes a tour of how awesome things are?

That would actually be kind of an interesting premise for a short art thing.

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?

Nessus posted:

Why don't they just cut out the vestigal battle scenes and make it like those old books where someone wakes up in the future and takes a tour of how awesome things are?

That would actually be kind of an interesting premise for a short art thing.

EP2 actually does that for their intro fiction! A brief set piece on Earth before the fall, then consciousness interrupted, then awake again post-Fall somewhere in space and needing to adjust to a new (non-biological) body and the general weirdnesses that come with the Space Future.

Dec 22, 2003

After a Speaker vote, you may be entitled to a valuable coupon or voucher!

PurpleXVI posted:

EP2 actually does that for their intro fiction! A brief set piece on Earth before the fall, then consciousness interrupted, then awake again post-Fall somewhere in space and needing to adjust to a new (non-biological) body and the general weirdnesses that come with the Space Future.
What happens to them at the end? :v:

I wonder sometimes how much of these things get rooted in the limitations of the inspirational media. Like I think an unquestioned part of a lot of the hyper-singulatarian perspectives on scientific research comes from things like the tech points model and runaway rushes in video games, and these get associated as being fundamentally connected to how the world works.

You can kind of compare and contrast here between Buck Rogers, which was written in what, the early 90s?, to Eclipse Phase. Buck Rogers feels more like a place where people could actually live, while Eclipse Phase seems to be more of a setup for exotic raid missions.

Oct 30, 2013

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

FoldableHuman posted:

This is weird-rear end logic. You could just as well say "these are Good-only because they're defensive, and White Robe Wizards are the most likely to be ganked by Black Robes."

There's no real reason why the Bracelets of Magic Resistance should be tailored to any moral outlook or faction. Or what's particularly EVIL about defending yourself from magical attacks. I presume it's because the ability to auto-fail even 9th level spells was deemed too powerful to be in PCs' hands and thus did the whole "evil magic item" thing.

Seatox posted:

Why would a wizard want to replicate druid Wild Shape with a junk spell when they have two flavors of Polymorph (which exact flavors changes a lot between 3 and 3.5 ed) on their spell list? How is Life Transfer any different from Vampiric Touch?

Why not just use Wish in one of it's approved forms (it's on the list of things a Wish can do in 3rd edition) to Resurrect someone? It's only 5k experience, and if you're desperate enough that you need the party wizard to raise someone, it's probably because the dead person's the party cleric, and 5k experience is probably worth it at the levels where you can even use 9th level spells.

And anyway, the best way for a wizard to replicate divine spells is to simply Planar Binding something that can do it for them.

Oh, Dragonlance.

I realize I was forgot to read another function of the spell. The temporary HP gained from Life Transfer must be transferred into another touched creature one round later, healing real damage up to the temporary hit point total. If you are unable to transfer this energy outwards, you heal only half the HP in yourself of temporary HP.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 09:51 on Dec 27, 2019

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?

Nessus posted:

What happens to them at the end? :v:

An exsurgent gribbly shows up after they get used as a patsy by a Firewall team, and they decide to leap into its mysterious robot-brain-eating SPACE PORTAL rather than hanging around with the dickhead anarchist CIA.

Mar 12, 2012

Libertad! posted:

I realize I was forgot to read another function of the spell. The temporary HP gained from Life Transfer must be transferred into another touched creature one round later, healing real damage up to the temporary hit point total. If you are unable to transfer this energy outwards, you heal only half the HP in yourself of temporary HP.

Well, that's mildly less garbage, then. It's certainly a better deal than Raistlin's Wheel Of Flame, which is, what, 6th level? That's the same level as Chain Lightning, which is 20d6 bouncing lightning damage up-front. Unless you can Permanency the Wheel of Flame like you can with Wall of Fire.

Jun 6, 2011

Night10194 posted:

There's always something darkly hilarious about nerd organizations devoted to screaming about how the 'x-risks' will be cool science fiction plots like aliens or super AI rebellions or whatever while mostly supporting the politics of things that make the real, existent 'x-risks' more and more probable.

The X-Risks supplement has a sidebar where it suggests that capitalism is an existential risk. Like yeah Posthuman Studios are nerds but they're Seattle anarchist nerds and they wear that on their sleeves.

Moldless Bread
Jul 10, 2019
The Dark Eye 4.0


The Dark Eye has no levels*. You straight up buy the improvement in your skill, your stat or your Hitpoints by spending experience points. Or rather, you spend Adventure points. They've been named that since first edition, but this works retroactively as a justification why your Adventurer improves so much faster than Alrik the carpenter. Name aside, they still are straight up experience points.
How much points do you have to pay to improve a skill by one point? The book helpfully provides us with a comprehensive table of advancement costs. Behold:

This magnificent beast.

I've already mentioned in the skills section that some skills are easier or harder to raise. To learn the cost of improvement you check the assigned difficulty of your skill for the column and pay the amount listed in the row equal to the new rank. It's a bit unwieldy since you absolutely need the table for every advancement (unless someone with a better head for numbers than me can find a pattern in there?), but it's ultimately pretty simple to raise a stat. So far, at least.

Which stat has which difficulty?
Column A houses most Languages and scripts. Column B houses the majority of skills.
Under Column C are Crossbow, Brawling, Throwing knives and Javelins, nothing else. Physical skills, as well as most Combat skills are under Column D. Column E has the *good* combat skills (which might not actually be better than some D skills) and Stamina. F Column does not have anything associated with it. Column G consists of Astral points and Gifts, special skills you have to buy as an advantage. Finally, Column H houses the Stats and Hitpoints.
Each spell has an individual difficulty which range all over the table, each Feat has an individual flat cost.
It is possible to shift the column through dis-/advantages and circumstances, so the F-Column actually gets used now and then.

There is also a theoretical A* column if you lower the difficulty past A, but it’s not mentioned in this chapter. I have no Idea where they put that explanation.
I saw a reference to that in the magic books, so at least I can be sure I’m not making it up, but it can definitely happen with mundane characters as well.

The book tells us to give out Adventure Points when the group reaches a mid-goal or finishes an Adventure, rather than giving it out for Combat or other encounters. They also instruct the GM to make sure to give them out sparingly, so the characters can grow slowly and realistically, which has a rather condescending tone. Good to know the tradition of making players feel like chumps is not something the community cultivated on its own, but is something that is presented in the books.
The guideline is 50 - 100 AP per five-hour session. As you can see that allows a character to raise a skill by one point easily (more, if they focus on low or non-combat skills), but if they want to buy a new feat or raise a stat there are going to be several sessions without advancement while they save up. We, uh, are getting back to that bit later, though.

I put an asterisk up there when I said the game doesn’t have levels, because, well, it does. You just don’t care about 99 % of the time. It gets determined by the amount of AP spent and requires 100 AP + the amount needed for last level (100 AP for Lvl 2, 300 AP for LVl 3, 600 for 4 etc) and since it is absolutely useless to determine the capabilities of a character, it has limited uses.
For one, you’re supposed to use it to determine it how well the character is known in the world. Hm. Secondly, you can check it like a Stat for ‘General Life experience’. That’s vague and I never saw a Level check in an official module.
Thirdly, you determine the costs of learning new skills with it. The cost of learning a new (Special or Professional) skill or raising a basic one with a negative value uses the row equal to your current level. The activation factor in the last row doesn’t factor into that cost at all, nor into anything else.
So instead of the desired naturalistic improvement based on your characters experience, you’re now incentivized to learn as many useful skills as possible as a fresh adventurer, while an experienced adventurer gets discouraged to pick up something new for flavor.
The amount isn’t a big deal in the long run, but why? I can’t think of a justification for that mechanic, and the book only offers the explanation that ‘Old Dogs don’t learn new tricks’. I guess every Adventurer is just bound to become a crabby bastard who ‘always did it this way’ when they get older?

Stats use the Column H as mentioned, and we also get taught that the starting Value of a Stat determines its maximum: You can only buy Stat points up to half your starting Value. I hope you thought long and hard about your dump stat.
Incidentally, Bonus points to stats, either from Race or advantage, factor neither in the maximum value nor into the advancement costs and just get added on top afterward, making them even more valuable.

Additional Hitpoints and Stamina have a limit on how much you can buy (Half your CON for HP, double the CON for ST) and are considered a separate pool when it comes to advancement costs, so you start at row 1 instead of row 25+. Obviously, that helps a lot.

Buying feats gets mentioned here, I find it interesting that the book instructs the GM be generous to players who want to learn combat feats when it comes to finding teachers.

Finally we can buy off disadvantages with AP. They cost 100 AP for each Generation Point the disadvantage was worth, which is the first of at least three exchange rates between those points.
Lowering Bad Attributes (not attributes we dumped, the disadvantage called Bad Attribute) instead uses the column G, it goes higher the lower we want our attribute to be.
Of course, we can do this at the tenth of the prize if we get counseled by someone with Healing Arts: Soul. But if they fail their roll, your problems become worse.

So much for Advancement. It uses that huge rear end table, has a few kinks, but ultimately it’s very simple, right?

Hey, before we move on, let’s go over the optional rules I skipped over.

Special Experience adds another layer of complexity to the advancement system, but I love the Idea. If a character has a, well, special experience with a certain skill (because they rolled a critical success, because they learned some forgotten secret, because it was constantly important throughout the last adventure…), the GM can flag that skill. Raising a flagged skill lowers the costs by one column and doesn’t take any time to learn. You cannot stack flags on the same skill and the GM is instructed to have the flag expire after some sessions, so players are encouraged to just improve the skill when they get the opportunity.
This encourages exactly the organic skill growth the writers envision for TDE. Because the group investigated a forgotten magic ritual, even the bandit learned something about magic theory. The street urchin learned some wilderness survival because the hunt after the traitor led them through the orcish steppes. A dwarf that can swim got probably dragged into nautical adventures by his team. It is kinda fun to look at a high level characters sheet and see some out of character skills resulting from their adventuring life.
Adventure Modules usually give out a list of potential SE in the rewards section.

So the learning time I mentioned? The books also define the Time Unit here. It’s a fancy way of saying Two hours, and the game caps learning time at 4 TU each day, only 1 when you’re out adventuring.

The rest of the optional rules concern themselves with the way you are learning new skills: Learning with a Tutor, Teaching each other over the campfire and Self-taught.
Tutor and teaching each other is basically the same thing, I don’t know why the book considers them different when they even are put into the same entry. Difference is basically, one happens mostly in downtime, the other over the course of the game.
It’s considered the standard way to learn and uses the difficulty given to determine the cost. The learning time equals the cost of the advancement in TU. The teacher (or other adventurer) needs seven ranks in the skill he’s teaching and seven ranks in the Teaching Skill. More than 15 ranks lower the costs by one column.
The payment for professional teachers is multiplied by their Teaching skill, by the way, so be careful when choosing them, or you get one that is too good and charges you money for nothing.

Self taught allows you to raise the skill on your own, but the costs rise by one column. Two, even, when you want to raise the skill above 10 Skill ranks. The Learning time is the same, 1 TU for each Adventure point spent, but of course increases together with the costs.

So if you want to raise one of your skills (or buy a feat (⅕ of their cost in AP) or -heaven forbid - a Stat point without a Special experience), you better be prepared to do some bookkeeping.

Look at those costs again and calculate how many days you’re spending learning. The average TDE Adventure lasts several weeks in game time, so maybe you are squeezing in one two Skill points. More in the downtime between adventures, of course, but now the GM has to carefully plot out how long the time between the adventures is, so the players know exactly how far they progressed with their learning. In a system, I’d like to remind you, that expects you to follow the metaplot, usually with exact dates that advances 1:1 in earth time, so there probably at most a two or three weeks between adventures. If worst comes to worst, you have a wizard in your group that looks at the aventurian calender to know exactly when he can gain astrological bonuses to perform a ritual and now you have to track that too because you can’t handwave it anymore.
And remember you can only spend 4 TU on good day, so you can only learn 1 to 4 skills at the same time. You better plot the learning progress exactly, so you know when one of the skills gets raised and the learning of another one can start.

Hey, here are some questions: Can you recuperate from wounds and learn skills at the same time? If not, how sick do you have to be for it to cut into your learning time. If you get a Special Experience in the middle of learning the same skill, are the used TU wasted or can you put them towards the next advancement? Do the constant explanations of the elf about tracking an animal seriously bounce off the other characters completely because the elf has no ranks in Teaching? What if he does, but never explicitly announces that he is now ~*teaching*~ so the other characters don’t note the time. What happens if your teacher cannot finish raising that one skill point and you have to teach yourself the rest?
I don’t know, and the book doesn’t tell us either.

And this runs completely counter to the organic skill growth the book fawned about. I’m not learning about what I did in my adventures. I am learning what I can find a teacher for, or teach myself if absolutely necessary. Since my characters time is now at a premium, I sure as hell am focusing on the sweet, useful, adventure-y skills instead of some useless fluff.
You can’t even use a retroactive justification for raising a skill.

“Well, the fallout from the tavern brawl sure gave Moha-Te some interesting insight into the imperial justice system. I’m raising Law knowledge.”
“Did he really learn about it, though?”
“Well, he didn’t have much else to do in jail.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t note it. It doesn’t count. Next time Moha-Te meets a noble, he will still see nothing wrong in greeting them by spitting into their face.”

And yes, those are optional rules. But just as a reminder, the standard rules are assumed to be basic + optional. This is the intended playstyle for your average group, possibly including newbies. And yeah, there are definitely groups that use these rules.

It does, funnily enough, solve the problem I mentioned about having to save up several adventures to buy higher cost improvements. By the time you spend the 100 AP from your first adventure, you probably had other sessions and gained several other Adventure points, which take even longer to burn through and gives you more time to earn more AP in other Adventures. So this rule creates a game flow that prevents you from spending all of your AP at the same time and always have some banked to raise another thing. Or begin raising it, anyway.
I’m not willing to give the writers the benefit of doubt on this one though. I think they stumbled rear end-backwards into this.

If you’re using teachers and learning time, you might as well use the expert rule that allows you to cut some costs and time by letting the teacher roll a check.

Honestly, this is the first time I am reading those rules properly, and I’m not regretting skipping them.

A Horasian, displaying his usual Armament: Rapier, Buckler, Smugness

Following Advancement is the Expert-only chapter Fire and Iron. It presents rules to craft weapons and armor. More specifically, to judge quality, patch up, repair a broken one, create and create Masterwork weapons and Armor.

The crafting takes long enough you really want to parcel them out to downtime and usually consists of several checks with penalties dependent on the average damage/Armor and take some calculating, but since you’re probably not bogging down the game with them, they’re decent enough.

Since magic Items are rare in The Dark Eye, a masterwork weapon is a nice improvement for a character to get. They never really feel necessary, though, as long as a character can get their hands on equipment that has at least average quality, their skills and feats are far more important than their equipment.
Oddities of the chapter include, though:

There are two kinds of special melee weapons, Masterwork (Damage and durability) and Personal weapons (Initiative and Attack/Parry rolls.) We only get rules for Masterwork weapons, though and get referred to With Flashing Blades for Personalized ones.

Repairing a spear or an axe uses woodworking instead of blacksmith skill. We still need the blacksmith skill to be allowed to repair them, though. For Armor, you generally need both the blacksmith and leatherwork skills.

Bowyer covers both crafting bows and crossbows, but we need a specialization to craft each? If we try to work on the other one, we get a penalty. No word on what happens if we buy specializations for both.
The rules for bow crafting give the impression the writer knows a about of real-life bowyering and is now showing off his knowledge about wood preparation and different draw strength in bow types, while melee weapons and crossbows use more standardized rules.


Culture Corner

Yaquiria consists of two different places along the river Yaquir, both different flavors of swashbuckling movies. Both Almada, the rural, southernmost Part of the Middle Realm and the Lovely Plains, the strongly urbanized core province of the Horasian Empire have a warm and pleasant climate and fertile Grounds, so Wine is the usual drink around here. Both cultures put an emphasis on personal honor (or pride and vanity, if you want to uncharitable), so a lot of quarrels end with rapier or saber duels in the alleys behind the opera or in the hills past the vineyard. These honor duels are mostly a thing of nobility in Almada, but the waning importance of the noble class due to the rise of merchant patricians and common education make them also popular among the common people in Horasia.
Both places believe in the Pantheon of the Twelve, but give special appreciation for the gods Rahja (representing Joy) and Phex (Cleverness). While the Horasians also give a lot of reverence towards Hesinde, the goddess of Knowledge, the main temple of the orthodox Boron-church is located in the city of Punin in Almada, so the god of death enjoys lots of support in those lands as well.
The names in Yaquiria have a latinized bent, with some additional tulamidian influences in Almada.
Mechanically we get a decent selection of +1s across all skill groups except nature (including rapiers for combat, naturally), and apart from some general variants dependant on geography (Temple city, on the coast etc.) and the noble variants, we HAVE to choose the almadan or horasian variant of the culture. Almadans get some physical and Crafting skills, with +2 to riding being the most notable, while Horasians get some knowledge and social skills and is one of the few cultures to get automatic points in Read/Write, so even peasants and street urchins can read slowly.

An Almadan. Just hanging around smoldering, rapier in hand.

Profession Parade

Squires are actually quite rare. Proper Knights only exist in the more backwards places - Weiden, the Foundland, Nostria and Andergast. But yeah, choosing this profession makes you a squire, having been taught by a knight since adolescence in all the knightly arts - Fighting, Riding, Courting etc.
Mechanically they are very expensive, despite the baked in disadvantages of a code of honour and an Obligation to serve their family and/or liege. They get however very nice stat bonuses (Social standing included) a good training in knightly weapons, decent physical, social and knowledge skills (with excellent riding) and some basic combat feats discounted or for free, the important mounted combat feats included.
What if you want to start as a Knight proper instead of neglecting your squirely duties? You cannot. Well, the book points out you can use the veteran mechanic to start as a knight (And actually get a bonus point to social standing that is apparently not included in the cost calculation) but straight out admits that’s prohibitively expensive*. You can, of course raise the Generation points you’re allowed to spend by GM Fiat (which, to be fair, is presented as a legitimate dial in character creation), but I forgot how much the game insists you start as an absolute beginner in your job.
4.1 realized most people want to play proper knights though, so they renamed the profession to Knight and offered a cheaper variant as a squire.

*So you start with 110 Generation Points to build your character. The profession itself costs 21, which we have to pay again (+5) to become a veteran. So that’s 47 right off the bat. We spend 100 Points for our stats, buy the prerequisite social status for 7 GP, and save some points by being a standard Midlander (0 GP) from urban nobility (3 GP. That saves us the 7 GP to buy the noble lineage advantage, without which we cannot become a squire, but now we have to argue with the DM how a kid from the urban nobility becomes an old fashioned knight) That is a total of 157 GP to become a knight. So we can just make it if we buy the maximum of 50 Points worth of disadvantages. Not literally impossible to build, but yeah, you’re better off spending you early game impressing the local nobles to get properly knighted.

Spell selection

Arcanovi Artifact is the most widespread spell to create magic items. Takes several hours at least, permanently lowers spell points and allows us to use the subsystem in With Knowledge and Will. Going by how well it’s known among the different traditions Elves and Druids rarely create magic items.

Armaguard is a defensive spell that gives the caster additional armor in the form of an invisible, skintight shield. It doesn’t encumber like real armor and apparently (? It’s not entirely clear) applies to all hit locations equally, so an elf or battlemage can get armor that makes a fighter jealous.
The armor does apply against swarm attacks (which bypass armor) but doesn’t offer any help for the interaction with the Aimed Thrust and Killing Strike maneuvers which take a penalty in exchange for bypassing armor...

Shortness of breath not only induces exactly that in the victim (halves Stamina and gives several points of exhaustion), but also regenerates a good deal of stamina for a druid, making them very effective tavern brawlers, funnily enough. Lasts for a whole day.

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?

LatwPIAT posted:

The X-Risks supplement has a sidebar where it suggests that capitalism is an existential risk. Like yeah Posthuman Studios are nerds but they're Seattle anarchist nerds and they wear that on their sleeves.

And yet it's clear that one of the things they thought the least about was how to make an actual, functioning anarchic society.

Poland Spring
Sep 11, 2005
That's Seattle for ya

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements

Honestly I think the issue is ‘horror setting’ as much or more than ‘anarchist futurism’ - the Titanians have a non-horror slice of the setting so they’re basically written out. Same with the functional anarchist habitats rather than the scumswarm types.

Same with all the exsurgent nonsense, or Firewall being at the same time the last hope for humanity and also a bunch of chaotic bad ideas about to set themselves and the world on fire - it’s just Delta Green In Transhuman Space.

Rather than making EP more like propaganda, let it lean more into slice of life, weird societies, and (post)human conflict over the future rather than all of that being plastered onto ‘Call of Cthulhu but you can resleeve your mind into an octopus gangster’ - exhumans, idiots, and capitalism are enough antagonists that Skynet But Cthulhu and Also Chaos from 40K is unnecessary. Skynet classic can stay to explain why Earth is uninhabitable.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


Earth being used as a prison for an AM type insane intelligence could be the beginning to many varied campaigns.
Skynet never got a chance to develop a personality so there won't be anything but straight fights.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements

I mostly mean the exsurgent virus and many infectious doomsday viruses are all kinda weak setting elements because they really want horror gaming where your character sheet gets taken away, but also you hotswap bodies.

Aug 6, 2019

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

Joe Slowboat posted:

I mostly mean the exsurgent virus and many infectious doomsday viruses are all kinda weak setting elements because they really want horror gaming where your character sheet gets taken away, but also you hotswap bodies.

I can see the thought process - it's easier to get away with that if you can respawn.

I, personally, will take Skynet but cthulu+chaos, because the alternate is either done better by Shadowrun or other games like it, or... well, has too much posthuman :2bong: and :a2m:.

Firewall type gameplay is the only real draw for the system, and even then it's not much of one. Or for that matter, that kind of setting.

StratGoatCom fucked around with this message at 20:36 on Dec 27, 2019

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


Wild Lands has a lot of problems. But this is a heartbreaker, not a horror show. They could be fixed.

I have no doubt that Stephen Wood sat down to work on Wild Lands with a very clear picture in his head of what he wanted it to be. I specifically mean “picture” - this is a game with strong and coherent aesthetic, and once you poke around the edges of that imagery you’re in rocky territory.

It’s one of the reasons I wanted to cover the system, because I fall into a lot of the same pitfalls when I come up with settings for my own games. My creative process for tabletop stuff is to come up with a couple gimmicks, draw out some things I think are cool and want to run a game around, and then work backwards to come up with a story and other setting details from there. If I need to come up with mechanics to support a particular play style, I’ll take bits and pieces from game systems I’ve used in the past and staple them together, even if they don’t entirely work.

So, y’know. Here we are.

More than anything, Wild Lands needs an editor. Part of it’s practical concerns - stuff needs to be organized more efficiently, certain layout decisions should be reconsidered, there needs to be consistency in certain mechanical effects, and so on. But it really needs some kill-your-darlings passes.

We’re given a lot that doesn’t amount to much. There’s a Redwall-ish setting, but none of the characters or even overwrought descriptions of food. There’s a Cthulhu dimension alongside the cute mushroom sprites. There’s elaborate combat options tied to a very basic rules framework. There’s random rolling for hugely mechanically important things, while at the same time you just sort of run out of things to do as a character the closer you get to higher levels of the game.

I could not describe this game to you beyond some basic mechanical terms and aesthetic details. “Kinda D&D but with animal people” is not as fleshed-out a phrase as you might think. Exalted is a godawful mess, and it’s absolutely a bigger mechanical car wreck than Wild Lands could ever be, but I can still pick out multiple (if contradictory) stories even the base book Exalted is trying to tell. Tenra Bansho Zero is a game about generic anime stereotypes being Extremely Anime at each other, but it still has a cohesive narrative backing it, and it immediately throws you plot hooks and all kinds of things to actually engage with in the setting. Hell, as a direct comparison to this game, there’s Mouse Guard, which explicitly gives you a pithy phrase to encapsulate what it’s about and what you’re going to do.

Give me a reason to pick this game up beyond the shiny packaging. I need a story to tell with this system, and there’s just nothing there. I couldn’t tell you what the author expects you to do with his game if there weren’t an adventure bundle out there. There’s no adventure hooks in the setting chapter or memorable NPCs beyond Rabbit Satan, and I only remember him because of the word count devoted to how ridiculous he is. I’m trying to stay away from the mechanical problems I have with the game, in no small part because of all the whining I’ve already done, but even there I can’t tell you if this is a game intended for kids or adults because of the systems choices it makes.

Also, stop using goofy made up terminology for things we otherwise inherently grasp. That part's non-negotiable. Here's a free one - it's called a foot because the unit of measurement was standardized by rabbits.

I still think Wild Lands is worth a purchase for the art, and because it’s a really high-production game that’s the work of just one person. That’s no mean feat in and of itself, and doubly so without a laborious crowdfunding process and all the horrors that entails.

I’d love to see a revised edition at some point, because I think this could be something special. Like, you want to give me a relatively rules-light system with cool Monster Hunter weapon swapping and upgrading? I get to go on adventures in a visually-arresting world, fight monsters twenty times my size, ride giant bugs and carouse with my friends? Hell yes, sign me up!

But this ultimately isn’t that game.

But it’s almost there.

Oct 30, 2013

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

LatwPIAT posted:

The X-Risks supplement has a sidebar where it suggests that capitalism is an existential risk. Like yeah Posthuman Studios are nerds but they're Seattle anarchist nerds and they wear that on their sleeves.


Feb 25, 2006

grassy gnoll I just wanted to say that your Wildlands write-up reminded me that the Mouse Guard RPG was a thing that exists and I finally got around to buying it, so thanks for that. :v:


Aug 6, 2019

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

Libertad! posted:


I mean, yeah. Not to mention, in universe, stuff like Cognite trying to build a lobotomized Seed AI, the PC sticking their dicks in everything through the gates, and... well, Extropia. I'm pretty sure every router that deals with rimward poo poo has a plan to reduce that place to plasma with Antimatter Grenades committed to heart.

StratGoatCom fucked around with this message at 01:43 on Dec 28, 2019

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