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Jul 30, 2005

PurpleXVI posted:

Godbound hack! Just make each type of bending a Word.

This is also correct.


Oct 9, 2012

Jokatgulm is tedium.
Jokatgulm is pain.
Jokatgulm is suffering.

Avatar combat should obviously be Dread derived, each successful pull gives you a boomerang stunt and tipping the tower means the boomerang doesn't come back until the next scene.

Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.

NutritiousSnack posted:

PtbA isn't good for action, it's good to great at emulating at genre, mood, and storytelling. Which okay is HALF of what makes Avatar work, but the cinematic fights of Avatar or (other) kung-fu or battle manga can't be replicated or really played that way. Kids in general are going to jump in expecting the system to emulate the later and it won't.
What games/engines are good for action, in your mind?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Infinity RPG: Haqqislam
Money Matters

Funduq Sultanate has easily the largest wealth gap between rich and poor. It is the heart of the Silk trade and the base of Qapu Khalqi, and while the richest and most powerful capitalists on Bourak live there, so do many of its poorest people. Most of its interior is wholly uninhabitable, used largely as training for the Qapu Khalqi or traversed by the Silk-bearing maglevs. Old and abandoned spaceports litter the landscape, now entirely redundant thanks to the orbital elevator in Dar El Funduq, which is cheaper and more accessible. Some are still used by merchants trying to operate off-grid or by criminals smuggling goods off the planet, though. The military is meant to keep an eye on the old ports, but it's very easy to bribe guards to look the other way. The actual population is mostly along the coastline, which is much lusher and more lively.

We can skip over the city of Balisehr, which is only notable for being very military and orderly, to head for Dar El Funduq. The city is largely an unplanned sprawl, organically growing over time, and many streets have ended up blocked by construction, with unofficial bridges and bypasses built between buildings. The streets are a shifting maze of constant new construction that would be near impossible to navigate without constantly updated AR maps. Locals are often very proud of their knowledge of unlisted shortcuts, though, and the ability to get across the city without technological aides is the mark of a native. Neighborhoods give way to each other chaotically, with slums ending abruptly for marketplaces, roads taken over by popup bazaars and more, with no unified plan or architectural style.

The people are just as diverse and chaotic, speaking many languages and practicing many customs. The majority are still Haqqislamite, but there's large Christian neighborhoods, the famous Jewish Quarter that is the largest Jewish community in the Human Sphere, and plenty more minority faiths. The city can easily overwhelm travelers with its sounds and business, as hawkers, live and recorded music, the sounds of traffic, the calls to prayer and the general noises of life mixing together into an unending roar. Government action is treated as an arbitrary and uncaring force, and most citizens are used to the Sultanate doing things without explanation or apparent reason, like closing off districts or suddenly clearing an old building to provide a more direct route for some wealthy patron. Once the government's orders are done and their changes made, the people just flow back into the area and make it their own again, reconstructing homes and businesses as if nothing happened.

One of the more famous makeshift bazaars is Tuccarlarin Evi, the Home of Traders. It was originally put together in an unfinished garden near the center of the city, but quickly expanded into nearby buildings, taking over empty homes, knocking out walls and growing through alleyways until it had formed a huge three-dimensional maze of stalls and shops, famous for its excellent food and diverse products. While it was once threatened with officially mandated destruction, a number of rich and influential tourists protested the order, as they found it charming, and it's been safe ever since. Its more organized counterpart is Bes Mil, the Five Mile, which is a huge enclosed road near the Helezon space elevator. It's a massive shopping center geared towards cutting edge fashion and high technology, with large playgrounds, live theatres, lovely restaurants, several surgical centers and an integrated heated indoor water park, all aimed to snag newly arrived tourists.

The wealthy tend to live in the foothills around the city in gated communities, away from the urban sprawl. Most of these estates are large but very plain on the outside, not advertising the vast opulence concealed within. They tend to have high walls and dangerous security teams that often incorporate at least one Odalisque. Most of the locals avoid these neighborhoods, not wanting to deal with the city officials, Silk Lords and wealthy merchants that live there. Of course, there is an exception: thieves. The Akinti crime network (literally 'stream') are ambitiousand become the talk of the town after pulling off several daring and successful raids of secure gated compounds. In fact, there's been an entire Maya drama made about their theft of the Al Massat gemstone from the Ustalar family estate, and it's very popular. No one is sure how the Akinti keep succeeding and avoiding capture, with rumors suggesting they're actually a fairly broad network of criminals across the city who have some connection to off-world Submondo groups.

Hakkari is a town better known as the Silk Fortress, home to the massive facility where the strategic Silk reserves are kept under heavy guard by the Sword of Allah. The Hachib consults with the Silk Lords each year to determine how much Silk can be sold - enough to keep up with demand, but not enough to drop prices, ideally. It's a very careful and delicate balance that has to take into account diplomacy as well as money, but it's generally been successful in making the Silk Lords obscenely wealthy and boosting the economy of Bourak. The town outside the fortress is mostly farmers, growing groves of figs, pomegranates, pistachios and carobs, all modified to survive in the harsh conditions of Funduq. The results tend to be smaller than average and somewhat bitter, but enough to keep the settlement going and make some money. The local farmers resent the Muhafiz soldiers deeply, and the feeling is generally mutual, as both see the other community as parasitic. The farmers are usually unhappy with the low prices they're given for their crops, and they get really mad when the fortress' forces claim new land for themselves for no apparent reason. The soldiers, meanwhile, consider the farmers to be manipulative jerks who would have long since left without the captive market in the fortress.

The conflict between farmers and soldiers is forgotten when outsiders show up, however. The farmers are still proud of their involvement in Hakkari's defense of Silk, and the soldiers will defend their food source with extreme prejudice. When there's trouble and a harvest is ruined by weather, the soldiers are often assigned to help with replanting and repairs. When strangers arrive in town, the farmers always make sure the soldiers hear about them quickly. The entire town enters lockdown when a Silk-bearing maglev arrives, and this is one part of accomodating the fortress that the farmers don't ever complain about - they're too used to it by now. There have been a few attempts to breach the Silk Fortress in the past, usually involving bombing the maglev tracks and trying to bust in during unloading. These have all have the plans that were more subtle, but one of those actually came close to success. Specifically, one team made it into the Fortress, but the local farmers noticed their outside handler was spending too much time in his hotel and tipped off the Muhafiz agents, who investigated and found a comms array and revealed the entire plot.

The Gabqar Khanate is a weird mix of lawless and tightly controlled depending on where you are. The Nasiat farming and Silk production that happens there is the foundation of much of Bourak's wealth, and the government protections around the industry are exceptionally strict and shape the lives of the people living in the region. Life is often quite difficult, as there is almost no terraforming of Gabqar so that the Nassiat can keep growing. The entire region is under martial law at all times, though effectively the controls are limited to the major cities; outside them, the rest of Gabqar has no law whatsoever beyond what is enforced by whoever happens to live nearby. Most of those people are criminals, either organized crime groups or renegade tribes living out of mountain tunnels and valleys. While the military has made some efforts to clean things up, the valleys and caves are just too easily defended and extensive and the landscape too harsh - the kind of extended work that'd be needed to really clear out the criminals is just not feasible. As long as the Silk gets made and loaded onto the Maglevs, the Khanate is considered to be doing its job.

We can skim past the city of Hunza - nothing new there. The city of Khiva Kala is more interesting - the source of most Nassiat and a center of Silk production. The plant grows in the valley and mountainsides around the city, and it's stored in refineries and silos around the valley edge. The city is heavily divided between rich and poor. The poorer classes work the slopes and refineries, living out of large and cramped dorms away from the main city. The well-established rich have huge mansions in the city center, while newer wealthy families live on large townhouses around the outskirts. The old money groups heavily enforce the class divide through patronage, inheritance and complex financial work. While the poor are often unhappy with this, little has changed in the years since the city was founded, for better or worse. After all, the old money owns most of the fields and refineries, and that's the heart of the city's economy. More positively, the city's at least a clean and beautiful place with lovely gardens and excellent architecture...though much of it sits empty and is there for show. The gardens are all enclosed, though, with artificial lighting and hermetically sealed environment controls.

Despite the grand shows of wealth in the gardens and architectural design, the city is rather slow and not very lively. There's a nightly curfew to keep workers off the streets, and while the young and wealthy hold parties late into the night, there's little else going on after sunset. The city often feels quite empty, save for the soldiers and cops that watch every corner. They enforce curfew and the system of martial law on all but the richest families and can be quite forceful about it if pressed. They are most common around the warehouses and storage facilities for Silk and Nassiat, and these patrols are also the most heavily armed guards in the entire city, because robbery attempts are pretty common. The maglevs are loaded up with Silk every Friday and sent off with grand ceremony and military fanfare.

For a very different place, we head to Kum-Dag, a criminal haven in the rural reaches of Gabqar. It is a Kyrgyz town that often serves as a forward base for the Kum biker gangs of the Tien Shan mountain range, who regularly roar out of the mountains to race across the wastes, sell weapons and drugs, or raid Silk production. There is no law in Kum-Dag but the Kum, who descend from the mountain riders of the steppes (and, in particular, usually the Kyrgyz, as noted). While the Kum are the most visible and obvious criminals in Gabqar, they usually serve as just the muscle for more sophisticated organized crime. They deal in drugs and weapons and protect illegal Silk convoys, but they don't usually organize above that - that's left to their allies and/or bosses. While the military has tried to wipe them out before, some of them even fairly successful in destroying bikes, burning labs, and killing gangers, it's always been very costly in both money and lives. The Gabqar Khanate has essentially settled on trying to maintain a level of peace instead, brokering deals with the Kum gangs rather than starting with force.

The Kum are rough sorts, territorial and prone to offering protection agreements to towns in their zone to keep other Kum from raiding them. The bikers love to fight, party and ride huge and noisy machines, and they brawl with each other often over turf and prestige. Hell, even parties and celebrations of alliance can easily erupt into violence if someone insults someone else. Kum-dag is technically neutral ground for the gangs, made of jury-rigged buildings and ramshackle huts with little plan. Storms can easily destroy much of the town at any time if they're unlucky, so a lot of the more lasting buildings are dug into the ground to protect against wind, and there's tunnels and escape routes throughout it in case of raids. While the town has a reputation for sex, drugs and violence, it's not entirely deserved. Yes, that stuff happens, but the town's also pretty well-funded thanks to good mines in the nearby foothills, which the gangs use to create new bikes and tools. While Kum-dag bikes are infamously tied to the Kum and the Kyrgyz mountain folk in general, they're also exceptionally popular with bike racers and wealthy young people, which brings more money into town, and the bike engineers often run side businesses producing remote joint housings. The locals are tough, hard-working folks who are great with machines and more than able to hold their own with the bikers and criminals that travel the area.

Kum-dag is also notable for its mercenary market, which pulls in many tough or desperate folks looking for quick but dangerous money. The markets are held in a series of caves beneath the town and are always busy. Ex-soldiers, gang members, roughnecks, hackers and chop shop doctors meet with clients and recruiters for off-the-books work, often employed by the Silk Lords or other traders hoping to get a leg up on rivals or get revenge on someone else doing the same to them. Any kind of mercenary skillset can find work there, as long as you're discreet and able to keep a secret. The Kum-dag markets do not forgive those who betray an employer even once the contract is up, and anyone who does is placed on their Maya-listed X Board - a bounty board listing all those the markets have deemed should die, no questions asked, for a tidy sum.

Most of the actual illegal activity in Kum-dag is outside city limits - the weapons factories, drug labs and brothels aren't kept within the town proper, but rather in the old mines, caves and other reasonably concealed areas that provide safety from the wind and some amount of plausible deniability. That said, the cops rarely come around any more after the deals made with the Kum. The Khan can call on the bikers to serve with the Sword of Allah, and most of the biker gangs consider it an honor to do so. In return they are allowed to exist on the frontier, away from the more peaceful cities. After all, it's far easier than the past alternatives that have been tried.

We get two example Kum gangs. Orzubek's Karakci ('Outlaws') hold land west of Kum-dag, and used to be rivals with another local gang, the Irfaz Satanists, until the Satanists lost their leader, Radbuk Beg. They've since made an alliance with the Satanists' new boss, Kasym Beg, and sometimes ride out to help him. The Karakci are are large and quite rich, maintaining a number of brothels and an illegal gladitorial ring in the mines around Kum-dag. The gangers like to hang out in town and currently have an effective but tense truce with the law after a shootout ended up killing six of the gang and just as many soldiers. They are easily spotted by their large belt buckles and fondness for knuckledusters. The other is a much newer gang, the Kuyundar ('Tornadoes'). Their name comes from the party drug they famously sell, which drives people to a frenzy of activity. Their leader, Bubusara, has become quite feared despite the male-dominated culture of the Kum, alongside a few other women leading biker gangs in recent years. It's said that Bubusara was the daughter of a Kum-dag miner who was kidnapped by the Kuyundar for ransom, but ended up in charge. There's several versions as to how, all involving extreme violence. The gang is also sometimes called the Dancers - originally an insult due to their focus on party drugs, but now an admiring nickname due to Bubusara's rise to power and reputation for terrifying violence against those who don't respect her.

The area around Kum-dag is also the home of Seitek's Death Ride, a circuit of land races between the Kum gangs. They take their name from a Kyrgyz hero of the past, and they're always through dangerous mountain passes - made far more dangerous by the sheer lack of rules regarding what riders are allowed to do to each other. Many die while competing over the four to six legs of the Death Race, and the only real rule is no using guns on each other. Anything else is open season. The winners of each leg earn respect and glory, and often rise in power within their gang. The races are always accompanied by raucous parties full of all kinds of vice.

Nothing new on Semetei, the city with poison spores, or Tamerlane, the mining city split between two families, though Tamerlane remains a hotbed of worker uprisings, sabotage and street violence. The cops are unable to do anything about it, as both the Vitsin and Usenov families are very rich and powerful in the local government. While several ranking officials have asked for official Khanate aid in calming the situation, as yet the military hasn't arrived in force. The rumors that they're coming have only been making the tensions rise further, as both families seek to become dominant before they arrive.

Next time: Iran But Not

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I think that this recalls the arguments that have been had in the Chat thread about, let's say, theme vs. emulation, with the big example being Dark Souls. Is the ideal Dark Souls RPG a rules-light narrative game focused on exploring the themes of [argument about what Dark Souls is about], or a tactical combat game that calls to mind the mechanics of Dark Souls?

That's an apples-and-oranges comparison to Avatar, because Avatar isn't a game. I think it's safe to say that anyone buying, say, a Dragonball Z RPG will want a game with long combats where PCs invoke specific fighting techniques, etc. The only thing I will prescribe is to know your audience and give them what they want.

IMO Apocalypse World is a very good action game in terms of, like, both the MC and the players getting to narrate action scenes that feel cinematic, with obstacles and complications instead of two sides slinging weapons at each other until one side drops. It doesn't usually compress whole fights into a single die roll like some narrative games do, and has special rules for stuff like pitched battles and gang war on top of a fleet of moving vehicles. But it doesn't have the tactical intricacy of e.g. D&D 4e, the Fragged games, Lancer, etc.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 18:30 on Jan 25, 2022

Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Avatar is a uniquely difficult show to emulate, because its fights are both gorgeously choreographed and animated as well as being character studies where the emotional beats mirror the physical ones. The Last Agni Kai is both one of the best looking fights I've ever seen, it's also a master class in showcasing personality through combat, and is the culmination of three seasons of character arcs and growth. You can't make an Avatar game that treats combat as either a character-driven narrative piece or as a tactical kung-fu battle. It has to be both, and that's very hard to pull off.

spider bethlehem
Oct 5, 2007
Makin with the stabbins

Icon part 5: Jobs: The Vagabond

These are your movers, your shakers, your strikers, your haters. Blessed with the ineffable cosmic ability to move diagonally, they are fast, dish out tons of single-target damage, and they have a fair amount of defensive vocabulary but no armor. Their Meter is called Finishing Blow and it gives their powers extra juice when they include a bloodied enemy in them. This has an obvious and immediate problem: your character’s best poo poo doesn’t come online til the second half of the fight, and since mob enemies have one hp and thus can’t be bloodied and regular ones have 24-40 (at chapter 1), you’re going to have to spend some time chipping away. Altogether I think a sneak attack or precision damage mechanic might be a better expression of the intention going in here, the finishing blows tend to be powerful, so once it comes online you can really start cleaning house.

Another thing to note about these fellas: they have the highest Defence (AC equivalent) and +to hit bonus in the game, and they are immune to miss effects and AoEs from Dodge. That means fielding challenges for them can be complicated, and they have a higher likelihood of a crit (20+ roll) than most of the other Classes. They also have autocrit and autohit both. The games goes way out of its way to signify that these guys are Strikers, and should be treated as such. I can't tell if I'm just sensitive to it as a DM or because I like to play Strikers myself, but these Jobs are monsters on the field. A lot of fun to play as and against.

To refresh your understanding of the vernacular, this is a link to the previous post with the glossary of combat terminology.


Vagabonds are the mercenaries and wanderers of Arden Eld. They know how to slip a knife through the chest plate of a knight or the armor of a monster, how to move quietly and quickly, and how to fling a knife with deadly precision. Vagabonds boast high damage and even higher mobility. Extended Dash and Skirmisher lets them move faster and further than other classes,while Dodge lets them avoid damage unless targeted directly. They make use of Stealth,Blind, Evasion, and Finishing Blow to crush weak enemies and avoid their counterattacks
Class Traits:
Extended Dash - Your dash action can be taken for 1 action.
Prowl (1 action) - Gain Stealth
Skirmisher - You can move diagonally
Dodge - You are immune to all damage and effects from missed attacks. You become immune to all damage and effects when you save successfully against something. You have resistance to damage from area effect spaces.
Meter - Finishing Blow
Your actions with Finishing Blow become more powerful when they include a bloody foe as aTarget.

Vagabond Gambit:
If you take a Vagabond Ability as a non-Vagabond class, you get Finishing Blow.

Class Statistics
Chapter 1:
Health: 6
HP: 24
Elixirs: 2
Armor: 0
Defense: 12
Speed: 5 (Run 3, Dash 5)
Attack bonus: +2
Fray damage: 2
Damage: D8/2d8/3d8
Basic Attack: Physical Melee or Physical Range 4

Chapter 2:
Health: 8
HP: 32
Elixirs: 2
Armor: 0
Defense: 14
Speed: 5 (Run 3, Dash 5)
Attack bonus: +3
Fray damage: 2
Damage: D10/2d10/3d10
Basic Attack: Physical Melee or Physical Range 4

Chapter 3:
Health: 10
HP: 40
Elixirs: 2
Armor: 0
Defense: 16
Speed: 6 (Run 3, Dash 6)
Attack bonus: +4
Fray damage: 3
Damage: D12/2d12/3d12
Basic Attack: Physical Melee or Physical Range 4

Get ready for some edgy theatrical nonsense with our first contestant:



{No flavor text here either. Playtest, what can you do)

Tumbling: You can phase through characters. Moving up or down elevation costs 0 extra movement for you.
Curse the Eyeless: You have evasion against blinded or slow characters
Cheap Trick: When an attack misses you, you can teleport 1 space in any direction.
Stack Dice: When you score a finishing blow, the next random d6 you roll as part of an ability
becomes a result of 6. This ability doesn’t stack with itself.

Light Godly Ranged Attack
True Strike
A shard of primal elden magic, summoned with a snap of the finger.
Effect: Target a line 6 area. Roll a d6, then count the squares out from you. The space rolled is the attack space. Other spaces have no effect.
Attack: Autohit: deal light godly damage and inflict burning.
Finishing blow: Boost damage to critical.

I. Slay: Character releases a blast 1 explosion around them, inflicting light godly damage and burning to all characters
II. If there’s a burning character in the area, roll 2d6 and pick either result.
You may deal damage equal to to 25% of a nonmonstrosity character’s max HP instead.

Heavy Physical Melee Attack
It is not enough to rudely and plainly strike your foe down. One must make it entertaining.
Attack: On hit: deal heavy damage, Miss: Light damage. Critical hit: Critical damage.
Effect: Before attacking, dash exactly 3 spaces in a straight line with phasing. The attack can only target characters in cardinal directions.
Effect: The attack target and all foes you pass through must save or become slow
Finishing Blow: Boost damage

I. If you start the movement from a higherelevation, fly instead.
II. Critical Hit or Slay: Character explodes in a blast 1 area effect, inflicting burning to characters other than you
Charge: You may change the dash effect to dash 1 or dash 5

Spinning Top
1 action, stance
A blur of cape, a flash of color, the gleaming of blades.
Stance: When you take this stance, or when it refreshes, roll 1d6+1 and immediately move that
far. You can interrupt this movement with other actions. When you slay a character or score a finishing blow, refresh this stance, rolling again.

I. When a finishing blow refreshes this stance, roll 1d6+3 movement instead of 1d6+1
II. You gain phasing for characters in this stance, and moving through characters’ spaces with movement from Spinning Top costs 0 movement
If you end the movement from this stance stance adjacent to a piece of terrain, refresh this stance. This effect can only trigger once a turn.

1 action, mark
They can’t hit what they can’t see.
Mark: A foe in range 5 must save or be marked by you. While adjacent to your marked foe, you have evasion against their attacks and ignore engagement from them. At the end of their turn, they can repeat this save to clear the mark and all effects.

I. While adjacent to your marked foe, you can teleport to any space adjacent to them by spending 1 space of movement.
II. Effect: Your critical hits blind your marked foe
While you’re adjacent to your marked foe, you have evasion against all characters

1 action
Watch this.
Effect: You hop on top of another adjacent character the same size or larger, sharing their space. You can no longer move independently in any way, but move when they move. A foe can pass a save at the end of their turn to end this effect. If you are hit by an attack or you or your target are forcibly moved apart (such as from shove), this effect ends. It also ends if either of you are defeated. You can also end it at the start of any of your turns. Characters can only be affected by one pole trick at a time, and a character can’t use pole trick on a character in pole trick.

I. When Pole trick ends, you can fly 3 as an effect.
II. If you Pole Trick on an allied character, that character gains the benefit of your tumbling and skirmisher traits while you’re still in this stance
While in Pole Trick, gain stealth at the start and end of your turn.

Interrupt 1, Summon
What they thought was you was merely a magical mockery
Trigger: A character misses you with an attack
Effect: Teleport 2 spaces and summon a decoy in your original space, or as close to it as possible.
Summon: A decoy is a magical illusion of yourself. It’s an intangible summon. When targeted by an action or ability, it explodes and is destroyed. Characters in a blast 1 area around it must save or become blinded and become burning. You are immune to damage and effects from your own decoys.

I. If a character is already burning, they fail the save and are also slowed
II. When you’re bloody, this becomes Interrupt 2
The triggering character must save or gain hatred of the decoy until its destroyed

3 resolve
Heavy Attack - True Strike, Godly
Bring out the fireworks. Fire up the elden magic. Time for a showstopper.
Effect: Target a line area of 1d6+3 spaces. Teleport adjacent to the first foe in that line, then deliver a killing blow, dealing godly damage. This ability has different effects depending on their position on the line.
Damage from this ability cannot be boosted and has innate 1 bonus damage. Roll damage once, then apply it the listed number of times.
4 spaces: Inflict burning, refund resolve
5-6 spaces: Deal light damage twice, inflict Burning
7-8 spaces: Deal light damage three times, inflict Burning
9 spaces: Deal light damage four times, inflict burning, and the character is stunned.

Slay: Character explodes, dealing godly fray damage and inflicting burning to all foes in the battlefield, regardless of range or line of sight.

These guys sound insanely annoying to play both as and against, but you can see the intention: swooping through the main combat line, exploding and blinding people, occasionally using Stack Dice to drop Death just where you want it. This is a deliberate design to unpick a knot that was recurrently coming up in playtesting, where players and enemies would get in a tight little scrum in the middle of the battlefield and not come out until everyone was dead - the Fool creates lines of action in and out, and with Pole Trick they can give an ally a ton of movement tricks to get out of a bad situation. This is pretty much Vagabonds in action: a ton of sound and fury, signifying, oh, a bunch of saving throws maybe, and then once enemies are blooded and Finishing Blow is on the table, they drop the curtain.

Whether that works in practice? I haven’t seen this one spun up but I’m interested.



Divine punisher, wielder of the Holy Chamber

Aether Shell: Every third attack you make upgrades any hit into a critical hit.
Divinity Bullet: If your attacks critical hit, they deal bonus damage
Run and Gun: You can split up and interrupt any movement you make with ranged attack abilities.
Deadeye: Gain +1 Boon on to-hit rolls against marked characters of any kind, even if they were marked by another character.

Light Ranged Physical Attack
Range 3
A flash of gun smoke, and the shine of gleaming steel.
Attack: On hit: deal light damage. Miss: 1 damage. Critical hit: Boost damage.
Effect: You may dash 2 before or after the attack.
Critical Hit: You may dash 2 after the attack
Effect: Inflict electrified on your target. If they’re already electrified, deal bonus damage
Finishing blow: Boost damage

I. Gain flying while dashing as part of this action
II. Effect: After this action, you may electrify a character in range 3
Increase the distance of all dashes by +2 as part of this action

1 action, summon
Calling out their true name, in a flurry of celestial wings, you summon your bound spirit.
Summon: Summon an astral seraph in range 3, a phasing, flying summon that trails after you.
• At the end of your turn, you can teleport your seraph to a space in range 3 of you, otherwise it takes no action or movement on its own.
• You can target your seraph with a ranged attack. If you do, the seraph takes no damage or effects, but re-directs the attack to a new target in range 3 of the seraphim, using your attack roll, line of sight, and effects from the new location. Attacks that the seraph re-directs electrify their target. on hit and count the seraph’s space as the origin space for cover and effects.
• When you trigger a Finishing Blow with an attack against a character in range 3 of the Seraph, they may teleport adjacent to that character and deal godly fray damage
The seraph lasts until you use this ability again, or until reduced to 0 hp.

I. Allies can also ricochet attacks off the seraph
II. If your seraph is in range 3, you can use your standard move to teleport to any free space adjacent to it.
Effect: When you ricochet a shot off the seraph, after the attack resolves it shoots a flurry of divine bolts, dealing piercing fray damage to all marked or electrified targets in range 3 of it.

Heavy Ranged Magical Attack
Mark, Range 3
With your heavenly chain skillfully whirling through the air, you dispense divine justice.
Attack: On hit: Deal heavy damage. Miss: Light damage. Critical Hit: Critical Damage.
Mark: Your foe is marked, hit or miss. As long as your foe is marked by you, at the start of your turn, if they are in range 3, they take piercing magical fray damage from you as a bolt of divine
lightning shoots between you.
Critical Hit or Hit against electrified foe: You may shove your target 1 space towards you.
Finishing blow: Boost damage and you may shove your target 1 space towards you

I. Gain evasion against your marked foe while they’re in range 3 of you
II. Your attacks against your marked target may gain shove 1, but they can only be shoved towards you
When Astral Chain’s damage or shoves trigger, they also triggers on all hostile characters within range 2 of your target

Interrupt 1
Fan the hammer.
Trigger: You score a critical hit
Effect: Fire up to 1d6 shells from a sidearm at foes in range 3 of you, each dealing 1 godly damage. Each foe can only be hit by one shell.

I. If you fire 4 or more shells, gain stealth after this interrupt resolves
II. Electrified characters can be hit by three shells
Hot chamber inflicts electrified and has a range of 4

1 actions, mark
You lash out with Aetherial cords, lassoing your enemy in an inescapable web.
Mark: Mark a foe in range 3 of you and lash to them with an astral chain, then end your turn.
If that target ends their turn further away from range 3 from you while marked, the chain snaps. That foe must save or they take piercing fray damage and become blinded. The mark then ends, even on successful save. If you score a finishing blow or critical hit while your target is marked, shove your marked target 1 away from you

I. Gain evasion against your marked foe while the chain is intact.
II. You can plant your end of the chain in the space where you stand when you take this action.
Interrupt: When the chain snaps, you can fly as an interrupt in an arc AoE as far as possible towards your foe until you are adjacent to them, by the shortest possible route. Every character you pass over takes piercing fray damage as an area effect.

1 action, stance
The world goes still, and is split by a bolt of lightning.
End your turn and gain Stance: Your next hit is upgraded to a critical hit on hit. When you critical hit, this stance ends.
Finishing Blow: Refresh this stance
Effect: Roll a d6 after the attack resolves. On a 4+, gain stealth

I. After the Ace attack resolves, roll 1d6. On a 6, the stance refreshes.
II. When Ace refreshes, you can eject the bullets from your gun and deal 1 godly damage to a character in range 3 as an effect
Your Ace attack causes a blast 1 explosion around your target as an area effect. Characters inside, including your target, must save or become blinded.

Heavy Ranged Physical Attack
3 resolve
Become one with your weapon. Smite your foes with high caliber justice. Empty your gun to deal godly fray damage to each foe in line of sight and range 4. then Go Beyond Gun. When you Go Beyond Gun, you draw on raw Aether to pull bullets from nothingness. You can fire an extra shell at any foe in range 4, dealing godly fray damage. This can be the same or a different foe. You can then choose to keep firing shells at the same or different foe, one at a time. Before you fire each shell past the first, roll a d6. On a 2+, you can fire normally, on a 1, your gun jams and overheats. This ability continues until you overheat or have fired 6 shells. If your gun overheats, you cannot attack until the end of your next turn.
Go Beyond Gun has the range of the battlefield and can fire up to 8 shells.

This is the Vagabond I have the most experience with, and it is a real sumbitch. Lots of single target damage potential and lockdown abilities on the field of play. The Limit Break is a little anemic, but there are a whole class of bad guys in the game who only have 1 hp, doing piercing fray (normally 2 damage) just categorically obliterates them. The single target lockdown can be very annoying against the systems marquee enemies, the Monstrosities, who are meant to be threats to a whole party, but that’s what they’re supposed to do. Some might balk at the electric cowboy who bounces bullets off the face of an angel of the lord for being confusingly themed, but on the table, it’s a ton of fun - not quite as dogfighty as the Fool, but the fact that they can be in cover from their enemies while bouncing shots off their angel is huge in combat, and getting Dodge + Evasion against their marked target means that 50% of the time, out the gate, anyone attacking them does absolutely nothing. It’s a real walk through the raindrops kind of deal, and it works until you get separated and whittled into kindling.

Also, at this point the “eject your hot brass all over someone for chip damage” is essentially house style for Massif. Hey, if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.



Nocturnal Assassin

Shadow walk: While in stealth you have phasing
Soul Freeze: Attacks deal bonus damage to characters inflict by Frostbite
Darkside: When you teleport for the first time on your turn, you leave a shadowy twin behind you in the space you left. Your darkside is a size 1 intangible summon. It doesn’t take actions or movement on its own, but when you make an action that targets another character, you can make it from either your location or the twin’s location. When you teleport again, you can choose to either replace your old twin or keep it.
Meld: You can spend your standard move to swap spaces with your shadow twin, teleporting. You can make this move even if your speed is 0.

Light Ranged Magical Attack Range 4.
By the power of darkness.
Attack: On hit: deal light damage. Miss: 1 damage. Critical hit: Boost damage.
Effect: You may teleport to an adjacent space to your foe after the attack.
Effect: Inflict frostbite. If your target already has frostbite, deal bonus damage.
Finishing Blow: Boost damage

I. Critical Hit: Instead of teleporting adjacent to your foe, you may attempt to swap places with them, teleporting. They can save to avoid this effect.
II. You may teleport to any space in range 2 of your target instead of adjacent.
Master talent: NINJUTSU
Has the range of the battlefield against blinded or frostbitten characters.

1 Action, Mark
With the flick of a wrist, you hurl a spectral blade, marking your foe with an umbral seal.
Effect: Flick a dagger at a character in range 3 and line of sight. That character must save or become marked. While marked, that character is frostbitten and at the start of your turn you may
teleport to any space in range 2 of that character as an effect. If your marked character dies, you can attempt to transfer the mark to a newcharacter in range 3 of you as an interrupt (save avoids).

I. Gain stealth after you teleport
II. When you teleport, deal 1 godly damage to your target
Master talent: TWINTAIL
You may throw an additional dagger at a different foe, marking both. You may teleport and deal damage to one or both foes when this ability activates.

Heavy Physical Melee Attack Close blast 1
From beneath a cloak, out from flying sleeves, or hidden in coils of hair - infinite blades.
Attack: On hit: Deal heavy damage. Miss: Light damage. Critical Hit: Boost damage Area Effect: Light damage
Effect: Attack target must pass a save or become blinded.
Finishing Blow: This ability inflicts frostbite and deals bonus damage to all characters

I. Critical hit: Increase blast size by +1. This could cause it to overlap your space (you are immune).
II. After this attack, you may teleport to any adjacent space to an affected character
Master talent: SHUKUCHI
You can teleport 3 spaces before and after using this ability.

1 Action, stance
Draw down a veil of shadows to mask your countenance. Harden your heart.
Stance: Gain stealth. Your next attack, hit or miss, inflicts frostbite and forces a save or your target is blinded. This stance ends after you attack.

I. Finishing Blow: Refresh Veil
II. Increase the range of all teleports by +1 under the effects of veil
Gain phasing with veil, and moving through terrain or other character’s spaces with Veil costs 0 spaces of movement.

Interrupt 1
You capture a thin silver thread of spilled life force of a foe and use it to tear open a space of night and cold.
Trigger: You slay a foe.
Terrain Effect: Mark a blast 1 area around that character, then create a terrain effect in that area. This cloud of shadow does not create cover or block line of sight, but inside the zone, all characters (including you) have permanent stealth. The area disperses at the end of the next round. If you trigger this interrupt again, you can replace the zone or keep it.

I. When you score a finishing blow, refresh the duration of your Nocturne zone until theend of the next round.
II. Keep stealth even if you leave the zone
When a foe is defeated in the zone, increase its size by +1, up to a maximum of blast 3

1 action
You step through the air, emerging from the shadows of your foes, where they find only gleaming knives.
Effect: Teleport adjacent to a character or summon in range 3.
• If they’re an ally or allied summon, repeat this effect.
• If they’re a foe, you may deal fray damage to them, then roll 1d6. On a 3+, repeat this effect.
• Characters can only be targeted once as part of this action
Finishing blow: Repeat this effect without rolling.

I. Finishing Blow: Deal light damage instead
II. After Danse Macabre resolves, you may teleport adjacent to any affected character.
Deal fray damage once to the final foe targeted by this ability for every character you teleported to prior to them, up to three times.

Limit Break: Abyssal Ecstasy
1 Action 2 Resolve
A prayer and a drop of blood, and soothing darkness cloaks the battlefield. Effect: Yourself, all allies and allied summons gain stealth, and all foes are blinded. These effects end if a character takes or deals damage, or saves against them with a save at the end of their turn.

The stealth effect from this ability does not break on you when you take or deal damage, but instead lasts 1 round. Extend this by 1 round when you slay a foe.

This is the other one I’ve seen in combat a lot and it is a crowd pleaser. Exploding with Death Blossom and teleporting around the battlefield, using Centipede Technique to cross a whole battlefield by zipping through enemies and allies, using Shrike to absolutely ruin a dude’s day… If the Fool is about straight lines and dashing through, and the Freelancer is about swoops and arcs, the Shade is about unconnected points of darkness that eventually blot out the light. Their limit break is cheap enough that if the other players were onboard, they could kick it off every other turn. As far as knives in the dark character setups go, this is one of my favorite implementations.

An interesting thing I’ve come across in playing Icon with two groups and a low two digits group of people is that everyone playing Icon has gravitated to one job or another pretty much immediately. The power gamers tend to be drawn towards Enochian and Demon Slayer, the glory hounds go for Lopper and Freelancer, the people who want to make everyone else’s life confusing and loud go for Mendicants - the healers, controllers, and messiest Class, and one which we will cover next time on ICON!

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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

Clapping Larry

Hel posted:

Avatar combat should obviously be Dread derived, each successful pull gives you a boomerang stunt and tipping the tower means the boomerang doesn't come back until the next scene.

Dread is a terrible game if you have palsy/tremors.

Dec 22, 2003

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

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Dread is a terrible game if you have palsy/tremors.
Or even just bad fine motor control!

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

spider bethlehem posted:

These are your movers, your shakers, your strikers, your haters. Blessed with the ineffable cosmic ability to move diagonally


Dec 20, 2017

spider bethlehem posted:

Their Meter is called Finishing Blow and it gives their powers extra juice when they include a bloodied enemy in them. This has an obvious and immediate problem: your character’s best poo poo doesn’t come online til the second half of the fight, and since mob enemies have one hp and thus can’t be bloodied and regular ones have 24-40 (at chapter 1), you’re going to have to spend some time chipping away. Altogether I think a sneak attack or precision damage mechanic might be a better expression of the intention going in here, the finishing blows tend to be powerful, so once it comes online you can really start cleaning house.
Maybe this was explained in an earlier post, but: how does this finishing move based class fit into a game with a sharp distinction between monsters (which fight to the last breath and can be killed without consequence) and sentient foes (who surrender or run when the going gets tough)?

I'm imagining a scenario where fights keep ending before the Vagabond player can deploy a finisher, because the enemies break contact or give up when they hit the HP range where the finishing moves are viable. Leading to frustration that the Vagabond doesn't get to do what their class is supposed to be good at, unless they want to chase down and kill fleeing enemies after the battle is over.

Jun 20, 2008

The diagonal movement thing is deeply weird and a little off-putting to me.

Nov 12, 2020

Minimal commentary here, but just as an observation from having played a Freelancer in the playtest adventure: the fixed "every X turn" mechanics in ICON are annoying to track and deeply unfun to work around. I ended up getting some other combos going pretty well, though. Not very unified in terms of mechanics but there's enough you can kind of play off other moves.

Not nearly as much as a class you're about to get to can, though.

spider bethlehem
Oct 5, 2007
Makin with the stabbins

The "diagonal movement is Vagabond only" was probably the biggest hurdle to me and to a couple of my more tactically-minded players to getting invested in the system, but on the grid it does a good job of making them feel mobile and hard to pin down in a way that a lot of the game's default zone control abilities have to work to keep up with.

mellonbread posted:

Maybe this was explained in an earlier post, but: how does this finishing move based class fit into a game with a sharp distinction between monsters (which fight to the last breath and can be killed without consequence) and sentient foes (who surrender or run when the going gets tough)?

I'm imagining a scenario where fights keep ending before the Vagabond player can deploy a finisher, because the enemies break contact or give up when they hit the HP range where the finishing moves are viable. Leading to frustration that the Vagabond doesn't get to do what their class is supposed to be good at, unless they want to chase down and kill fleeing enemies after the battle is over.

This thought occurred to me too. Icon does have the rule that knocking down doesn't equal killing unless the player says so - they enter a state called "defeated," the same state players go into when they get zeroed out, in which they can't take damage or take actions until Rescued by an ally, and very few monsters have Rescue as an action. So while this conjures a bit of a narrative issue ("Tell me how you nonlethally bounce a .44 off an angel's face to put this guy down") fatal takedowns are a choice, not a default.

In my experience, Finishing Blow acts as a fight accelerator. Some of the enemy types have explicit Officers or Summoners who are massive force mulitipliers for their side, so focusing them down to the ground makes the other side way weaker, and narratively, their defeat can easily start a rout. In practice this tends to be that once the fight has been going for a bit and the important enemies sussed out, suddenly the Vagabonds' damage against them spikes and their vocabulary becomes much broader. Enemies can have Finishing Blow and similar abilities, so the stakes go up sharply as rounds pass, kind of like 13th Age's Momentum die - but players can get back up after being bloodied, NPCs can't.

I have yet to see it become an issue on the field of honor. It's a bit weird that it's not an expendable resource like the Stalwart's Heroics or the Wright's Aether, but it does make a notable change to the feel of the game. Like the diagonal movement.

SkyeAuroline posted:

Minimal commentary here, but just as an observation from having played a Freelancer in the playtest adventure: the fixed "every X turn" mechanics in ICON are annoying to track and deeply unfun to work around. I ended up getting some other combos going pretty well, though. Not very unified in terms of mechanics but there's enough you can kind of play off other moves.

Not nearly as much as a class you're about to get to can, though.

I am deeply not looking forward to explaining the Mendicants. Seer in particular.

spider bethlehem fucked around with this message at 21:03 on Jan 26, 2022

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Infinity RPG: Haqqislam
Assassin Land

Iran Zhat Al Amat Shahnate is one of the great successes of terraforming, turned from an arid desert to a beautiful, lush area, especially on the coasts. It is famous even off planet for its resorts and spas, and it is one of the most diverse and eclectic regions on the planet. However, not all of it's like that - the Alamut subcontinent remains an arid waste. Common rumor is that the entire terraforming project in Alamut has been abandoned on orders from the Old Man of the Mountain and the Hassassins. They are said to have hidden bases through the area, including their supposed headquarters, the Holy Mountain. Alamut stretches from the Iran Zhat Al Amat side of the Tien Shan mountains to the city of Turfan, and most of it looks like rocks. Lots and lots of rocks, easy to get lost in and with only the native succulents and grasses appearing for plant life. The natives and other survivalists are able to use the rocks as landmarks, and there are a small number of settlements in Alamut, but most have failed either due to the difficulties of finding food and water or due to raids from the Daylami tribes, which are the only people to have thrived in Alamut.

The Daylami people are typically on the smaller side, tough and wiry, and live mostly in the mountains around eastern Alamut. They're highly independent, rejecting most government aid and carrying themselves as warriors, raised to survive in a land that would kill anyone else. They have barely any connection to the Haqqislamite main government and essentially live entirely apart from the rest of Bourak, exploring Alamut's deserts and raiding any settlemetns in range of their caves. It is rumored that they trade with the Hassassins and train them in survival techniques, and that they consider the Old Man of the Mountain to be their chief of chiefs. Thanks to the rumors surrounding the Hassassins and the Daylami violence, the entire subcontinent is barely understood by most people and considered a place of menace, mystery and terror.

Most of the Iran Zhat Al Amat cities are not expanded much here - we can skim past Turfan, the only city in Alamut and mostly a fishing town, and head to Norouz, the far larger province that is home to lots of resorts and sculpted ecosystems. We can skip past Maracanda, mostly notable as a travel and trade hub, and Qorsaptar, a slow-paced tourist town that is even more into games than elsewhere on planet. The capital of Ravansar, however, is more notable. The government buildings are mostly hidden by the large gardens around the city, except for the Palace of Keyumars, the home and central government offices of the Shah and the center for a lot of Haqqislamite diplomacy - both internal and external. Ravansar, after all, is full of Theriacs, medical resorts that serve as one of the biggest draws of Bourak. The city is always full of travelers and tourists - Maya stars, rich businesspeople and more - plus lots of artists and doctors relying on their tourist patronage.

Ravansar exemplifies the work-life balance focus that makes up so much of Bouraki culture. While the people work hard, almost all of them take their leisure time much more seriously, pursuing personal hobbies with great gusto, even the many stockbrokers of the busy financial district. The locals benefit heavily from the Theriacs, which host the best cosmetic surgeons and dietitians on the planet, along with specialists in most forms of general treatment. There's gyms all over the city, plus amazing restaurants...and a strong culture of pursuing pleasure while maintaining active health. Life expectancy in Ravansar is higher than anywhere else on Bourak, and studies have shown its people tend to be happier than most other places, too. The city's very planned, with most of the permanent population living in neighborhoods in the surrounding foothills, while tourists and travellers keep to the coastline resorts and hotels. The city center is a mix of official buildings and gardens. The city's place as the jewel of Bourak is carefully cultivated, designed to give outsiders the best possible impression, and the planetary government will go out of its way to keep it that way.

From here, we move on to the various islands. Bahiti's home to more fungal species than anywhere else but is otherwise boring unless you just like really colorful mushrooms. Olabisi is the island used by locals to get away for vacation, with a focus on adventure sports and especially windsurfing, with yearly competitions now sponsored by various major resorts after the windsurfing Maya channels took off. The best surf is during sea serpent breeding season, so it's pretty exciting. Baniya is home to a bunch of minor farming communities and possibly some smugglers, no other info. Karli, near the north pole, is the coldest spot on the planet - half of it is always covered in ice, while the other half houses a few fishing communities that hunt the Solh, large squid critters that grow up to 3 meters long and have tentacles covered in sharp hooks coated in hallucinogenic jelly. (The jelly also causes cardiac arrest, so it's not used recreationally.) Solh fishing is very dangerous, but Solh meat is an expensive delicacy that is highly in demand in upper class restaurants, and the jelly can be sold to medical researchers...or to criminals looking to poison people or trying to derive a less lethal recreational drug.

Nawal Island is notable because it's a lovely, comfortable place that required relatively little terraforming and has become one of the few places where native and earth-based lifeforms exist happily alongside each other. Also, because it's home to the planetary capital, Khadijah. Khadijah is a city made for governing, and while it is a thriving place that is quite beautiful, it is very much a city where everyone cares about politics over everything else. Every citizen there is involved on some level in the political maneuverings of Haqqislam, and most conversations revolve around political debates and beliefs. Most people make a point of getting informed on all sides of the issues they debate, too - a fairly unique cultural development to the city and its approach towards the two-path study of Haqqislam as adapted to politics. Outsiders often see Khadijahans as wishy-washy or confusing, as they seem to swap viewpoints quickly and easily, but in truth this is less about not having an opinion and more about valuing the examination of issues from multiple perspectives.

Khadijah is always busy and often at the heart of Bouraki news, so the locals tend to be less focused on leisure than most of the rest of the planet. Much of the population is not permanent residents, but rather people seeking political careers or work in the planetary bureaucracy, and they often return to their native homes once they're established. Those politicians and bureaucrats who choose to stay permanently are often mentors to the next generation, and often end up with devoted followings. The entire city was largely designed by two people, the architects Hajar al-Atar and Hasan Ali, and so it forms a consistent artistic statement in its designs. The two men, now both well into their eighties, remain a major influence on architecture both in-city and across the planet. The main breakouts from their design are the representative buildings of the regional governments, which deliberately draw on styles from the cultures most common in their regions. The city is home not only to the Palace of the Hachib, but also to the Majlis al-Bourak and all of its many Diwans, which take most of the city center.

As a show of respect to all of the cultures that exist on Bourak, every local festival and holiday celebrated anywhere on the planet is also celebrated in Khadijah. This means there's a shocking number of days off for most of the citizens, and the Majlis has actually been forced to legislate the number of official holidays that can be celebrated anywhere on the planet so as to ensure that government work in Khadijah can actually get done - if you want a new holiday, it probably has to go on a day shared with another one in another region. I imagine this also makes the place pretty chaotic on a regular basis, since all those festivals have a lot of setup that needs doing and a lot of festivities.

Our final planetary region is Parthalia Island, settled by Indonesians primarily. It is home to a number of diverse subcultures and tends to keep itself more separate from the rest of the planet's culture. It is heavily threatened by monsoons each year and even outside the monsoon season it is almost always very rainy due to the island's foothills and location on the water. The island's people mostly grow an engineered strain of rice, known as Beautiful Rice, which serves as a staple of Bouraki diets. The farmers have gone to some effort to exterminate the Bourak Parasol from the island, as it thrives in the wet environment and takes up valuable paddy space. Most architecture on the island is on stilts due to the frequent floods, often several meters off the ground...even on the parts of the island where it's not actually necessary.

Parthalians are often considered deeply insular and somewhat seditious and rebellious. They keep to themselves and don't deal with other regions outside of trade, to be sure, but they aren't actually more seditious than anywhere else, on average. Rather, they are maligned due to a number of high-profile scandals involving PanOceanian agents using the region for safehouses and espionage. After these agents were taken out by the Hassassins, the media went into a frenzy over it and Parthalia's reputation has yet to recover. This mostly means the locals feel unfairly hated and are distrustful of the rest of Bourak. They do have some of the cutting edge biomedical research facilities, which may be why so much espionage was going there, and while Ravansar is where you go for resort medicine, if you want something new and potentially illegal, Parthalia Island is the spot, as it has the laxest laws around medical ethics and use of experimental treatments. While the law has occasionally investigated the grey market bioscience facilities and shut a few down, often the investigations are shut down or sidelined before they can even really begin, which has led to much speculation about police corruption in Parthalia. Its most famous city is Bahal, the City On Stilts, which is infamous for its black market and seed ybars but otherwise not super different from the rest of Parthalia - it's just a smuggler's haven.

Next time: Space Muslims

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Infinity RPG: Haqqislam
Orbital Space Assassins

Fareedat System has been known to humanity for centuries, but is relatively recently colonized. It's grown faster than other colonies largely thanks to the skills and resources of the original Salik, the pilgrims that first landed on Bourak. Besides Bourak itself, Fareedat System is home to four planets, and Bourak has the Moons of the Seven Imams as well. Ababil is the planet closest to the sun, notable for being small, largely molten and geologically unstable. It's mainly used to house high-security research labs in solar-powered compounds. Only the highest reaches of the government know what kind of research happens on Ababil, though - it's believed that even the Hassassins don't know for sure.

Out past Bourak is 'Uj ibn Anaq, a stormy gas giant with a heavily static-charged atmosphere. For a long time it could only be observed, not interacted with, due to the electrical charge, but scientists have been able to get closer thanks to purchases of new ship technology from the Nomads. A number of probes have been sent into the planet's deep atmosphere to see what the core is like, and initial readings suggest it is full of Teseum veins. This has started a rush to develop mining equipment and vessels that can withstand the massive gravitic forces and charged atmosphere of the planet, but so far, all are incomplete and mining operations cannot begin. They've had to settle for harvesting hydrogen from the upper atmosphere, and many large stations have been built in orbit to do so...and to take advantage once the capability is there to get to the Teseum core.

Al-Mi'raj is the final planet of the system, another gas giant, but with much calmer winds and a safer atmosphere than its neighbor due to being mostly methane and nitrogen. However, the atmospheric makeup also causes reflections from the cloud layers, which can create mirages and false appearances of other ships or orbital stations, making it hard to tell where things really are and what the accurate ranges are to them. It's very easy to get lost in the atmosphere, especially because the fluctuations of the ionosphere make most navigational equipment malfunction or fail, so flying without visual guides is itself risky. The mining stations around the planet have had recurring problems with shuttles getting lost or descending too deep into the gravity well, but the nitrogen mining is profitable enough that this hasn't ended operations. The planet is also home to a number of hidden pirate bases, as the reflective atmosphere makes it easy for them to hide. Al-Mi'raj's pirates are too canny to go after the miners around the planet itself, and instead focus on attacking trade and cargo vessels as they exit the Sari Han vila booster nearby.

The Moons of the Seven Imams follow a very complex orbit, and when three or more are in alignment, there can be extreme tides on the planet. Their names reflect the virtues of Haqqislam, rather than being named for any specific imams - it's meant as a metaphor. Hikma ('Wisdom') is the home of the largest off-planet community of Haqqislamites, with the moon serving as an experimental settlement. The experiment is almost ready to enter full operations, meaning it's gone very well indeed. Millions were spent developing the biodomes and generators there, and the lunar colony is often used as proof that Haqqislam is as much a major nation as anywhere else in the Human Sphere, ready to take on space itself. Underneath Mecca 1, the central outpost, is a secret Hassassin base called the Inverted Mountain. The base is meant both for training Hassassins in space environments and also to allow them access to the Eye of Allah satellites that provide Bourak with atmospheric predictions, Maya access and surface monitoring. The Hassassins have tapped into the system to create key blind spots that prevent their bases on Bourak from being detected by the security network.

Tafawut ('Tolerance') is mostly an empty rock, except for a ruined old complex, the Mountain's Grave, which is believed to be the former headquarters of the Hassassins. (It's not, but the Old Man of the Mountain encourages the belief because it makes people think the Hassassins have even more influence than they do.) Rahma ('Mercy') is mostly home to off-planet warehouses and computer stations containing secure files off the main network. Eadala ('Justice') was the site of another attempted lunar colony, but the surface proved too unstable for construction. The Hassassins have a secret facility under the moon's surface, though - trainees are buried alive in a tunnel system designed to cause fear and terror with simulated moonquakes, to help free them from fear entirely. Sadaqa ('Charity') is home to mining stations for various minerals, and that's about it. Tawadae ('Humility') is home to the penal colony of Hirasidan, where prisoners work various mining operations. It's the last destination of the worst criminals that Haqqislam has, because even on a really nice planet like this, there's still cops and prisons. It ain't perfect. Amal Haqiqiun ('True Hope') is highly radioactive thanks to large uranium veins, and is mostly used for top-secret weapons testing labs.

There's also four orbital stations worth talking about - well, kinda. I think three of them are, but there's also a fourth. Three are orbiting Bourak, and one sits near the Vila booster out by Al-Mi'raj. First, we have Gelismek Station, the gigantic, sprawling mess atop the Funduq orbital elevator, which is primarily notable for being full of great shops and restaurants but also an extremely chaotic design that's easy to get lost in. Very little of note there. Surat i-Najm is more interesting - it's an orbital base intended for...something important, the book isn't totally clear on what, but it's a big enough deal to have been sabotaged three times with explosives and EMPs. It remains unfinished, and most believe the Druze Society is responsible as a Druze transport was captured during one of the attacks, though its involvement has not been officially confirmed. So that's a possible hook.

Alnamar ('Panther') is currently being built over the city of Saif in the Al Medinat Caliphate...which is a problem, because it's highly illegal. It's backed by a number of wealthy families and claims to be only an astronomical research station, but journalists recently exposed the existence of advanced transport and docking stations aboard it, revealing its true nature - it's intended to be a passenger and trade station, in violation of the laws that permit only the Funduq Sultanate to maintain orbital transport stations. It has been ordered to cease all operations, but construction continues and it'll be complete soon despite the order.

Last up is Zulqibar Station, the main base of the Qapu Khalqi fleet, which floats near Al-Mi'raj's Vila booster and is very, very well-equipped. It's always been fixed and upgraded with the newest weapons technology, with new materials brought in from across the Human Sphere to make it more efficient...but thanks to the number of business interests that take a hand in its development, it can never actually reach peak efficiency as its plans are constantly being updated and changed. Half of the station is bare and spartan, used for defensive infrastructure and engineering facilities, while the other half is decadent and shiny, meant for corporate reps, officials and diplomats. It's infamously the place to go for hiring mercenaries in the system if you don't want to actually land on Bourak, and Haqqislamite law is only somewhat enforced there. The government allows this because they believe it's useful to have somewhere to do illicit business away from the main planetary society.

Next time: Out on the caravan routes

Dec 20, 2017

Going in for a second bite at the apple, because I was thinking about this in an unrelated context today

spider bethlehem posted:

This is a deliberate design to unpick a knot that was recurrently coming up in playtesting, where players and enemies would get in a tight little scrum in the middle of the battlefield and not come out until everyone was dead
How do ICON's attack of opportunity rules work? In my experience the unwillingness to disengage from melee combat and reposition is usually a response to the action economy and AOO rules - if you try to move out of combat, you lose the chance to attack that turn AND the other guy gets to hit you for free. In the long run you might be better off repositioning, but on a round by round basis the optimal choice is to stand and deliver.

Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."

megane posted:

PRRPG, conversely, seems to have been written without any sort of thought about the show or what happens in it whatsoever. 5e has Monks in it. Has anybody watched the show? Dave, you watched some of it, right? Which color's the Monk? What do you mean, "they don't really have classes?" What kind of d20 designer are you??
Creepily enough they do actually have classes if you go by Super Sentai's definition:

Secret Power of Justice
Roaring Jurassic Power
Barking Beast Power
Mysterious Miracle Power
Booming Machine Power
Extreme Fighting Power
Exploding Science Power
Prepared Chanbara Power
Endless Galaxy Power
Dispatch Patrol Power

The only category that doesn't make a dam bit of sense is secret power of justice which includes pirates, thieves, a dysfunctional group of adventurers, and a nuclear disaster analogy. So in theory you could make a class based system work under the logic of power sources.


The first thing that draws my eyes is the discussion of Humanity's place in the universe. To those who more closely follow the Boom! comic series, is this comics lore? I won't copypasta, but it goes on about humans are a young species, how humanity has lived in ignorance of the wider galaxy, and that mankind sees the threats with fresh eyes. Sure, a lot of this could be inferred from the series itself. But, is it explicit?
That's where they are getting the color mechanics from.

Jun 14, 2015

slime time

Suddenly the way the roles were divvyed up in Zenkaiger makes a lot more sense.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Infinity RPG: Haqqislam
O-space-is? Spacoasis? There's A Pun Here Somewhere

While every nation maintains their own trade stations throughout the Human Sphere, none of them can match the caravanserais of Haqqislam for comfort, culture and usefulness to travelers. Their origins lie with the original pilgrimage to Bourak, when the settlers had few resources due to the drains of the Energy Crisis. They put together funding from many wealthy families and companies to get ships and technology from NASA remnants, and the cost of space travel was often high due to lack of support from PanO or Yu Jing. Even the Nomads were wary of aiding the pilgrims, for fear of being taken advantage of, though they eventually did help to force the other major powers to have more competition.

No one is sure how many pilgrims were lost in the journey, whether from pirates or detainment by Yu Jing for encroaching on their space. Others vanished in wormholes, and many of their ships were prone to malfunction due to age - their engines blew up, their crew starved when supplies ran out, and more. All of these dangers were known at the start, but it was clear that the original plans had underestimated them. The Safar Council overseeing the pilgrimage realized they'd need to make way stations for the faithful to stop in for resources and repairs. As the stations went up, the trip got easier, and they eventually became a vital part of Haqqislamite identity. The pilgrimage route from Sol to Bourak is maintained, though fewer follow it each year. To continue making money on space industries, the groups that set up the original route decided they needed to find new ways to profit off it. As it became clear that a large fleet wasn't needed to move pilgrims any more, they turned towards commercial shipping - and in doing so, they quickly grew to become one of the most important parts of Haqqislam.

While some may be gaudy or home to criminals, most are charming, friendly and comfortable places where you can find many strange and unexpected goods. However, it isn't the resources that make them so beloved by travellers - it's the culture. Everyone else has trade outposts and platforms, but they're all business, even the Nomad ones. Caravanserais are homey, friendly and give a chance for people to feel a little at home in space, but with an exotic touch due to the freedoms of space. Those unused to it are often shocked on first arrival, for the Haqqislamites make a point of acting as if their caravanserais were the same as any planet. They are often decorated with ornate and expensive rugs and tapestries and centered around a large water fountain, despite the expense that represents in a station, with a full garden and mosque.

Of course, while they might be homey, the stations also have a reputation for dealing in illegal goods and services. Most of them tolerate a limited degree of criminality to make trade easier, as long as the criminal enterprises obey the rules set forth by the Qapu Khalqi. They're allowed to make money off vice within fairly broad limits, as long as they provide the Haqqislamites with intelligence they gather on foreign officials. That said, there are crimes that the Qapu Khalqi do not allow, and they come down hard on anyone that seem to be abusing the Haqqislamite people. The setup is, basically, that as long as crime is relatively discreet and nonviolent, criminals can keep doing it with minimal trouble. Officially, of course, there's no tolerance of crime - but that just means that they can punish those who break the deal with as heavy a sentence as they want.

Regardless of national origin, the carvanserais are very popular with those who must travel in space frequently. The most common travellers are known as Caravaners, those who crew the ships that make a living by transporting goods and people between the stations. They are often considered to be part of caravanserai life despite not living their permanently, and at the caravanserais they frequent they are treated as family and welcomed warmly. Most caravaners are insular sorts who prefer to keep to themselves, and they are renowned for their ability to tell when things are going wrong aboard a ship. Many spend little time, if any, on actual planets. The people who run businesses aboard the stations are known as the Bayie, and they can be from just about any part of society, though they tend to fall into two main types - those who are seeking their fortune by pursuing risk and reward in the stars, and those who have fled their old lives due to debt, disgrace or criminal charges. Other long-term residents of a caravanserai are known as Tafili, and they often are fairly poor or poorly connected. Some are criminals hiding off-grid from some pursuit, others exiles who have nowhere left to go, and...well, a small number just like living off their wits on space stations and don't mind not really having a proper place.

None of these groups include the service personnel, clerks, imams and soldiers that manage the stations and their people. Each caravanserai maintains a dedicated administrative section and garrison, built around the Central Control that runs the entirety of the station's computer systems. The Muhafiz maintain offices near the Central Control on all caravanserais, as do the Qapu Khalqi, and any other forces used for security. (Most maintain a friendly relationship with a local pirate or corsair that will help defend the station in exchange for some cargo.) Security and station personnel do not really have a special name, but are held in high esteem and considered respected citizens, on par with the Bayie.

Caravanserais are set up for comfort of visitors, and while there's certainly taxes, fees and similar, they're made as easy and unobtrusive as possible. This is because while the caravanserais are intended to aid travellers in space but equally they are meant to spread Haqqislam's power and influence, and so they are as much a PR effort as anything else, plus a massive aid to the Haqq intelligence apparatus. Pretty much every other nation wishes they'd had the idea first, but have never been able to copy. The stations are required to have a standard set of amenities - refueling, spare parts and other supplies, for example. Some of the bigger ones have specialized in certain roles or become famous for various local businesses or restaurants, so people have their favorites, of course. What few realize is how much visitors are watched and studied by the Muhafiz and Qapu Khalqi. They are treated as mere guards - a pretense the Haqqislamites are are very happy to play up. They use lower tax rates and appealing business settings to encourage even normally cautious businessmen to let down their guard, and the Haqqislamite economy booms in part because of the information that passes through the caravanserais.

Of course, the stations are still at risk from attacks by enemy forces or pirates. The caravanserais do have to care about defense, and most take a two-pronged approach to it. First, they invest heavily in defensive guns, fitting themselves out with powerful weapons on their docks to protect those who come by. Upgrades and new constructions are frequent due to the access the Qapu Khalqi have to the best technologies. Second, and more importantly, they build alliances. The deals they make with powerful corporations and criminal groupsare used to build a reputation for power among pirates and ne'er-do-wells, reminding them of the consequences that will hit them if they kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The governors of the caravanserais often exaggerate how well connected they are, but the best of them are able to call on entire fleets of corporate or criminal vessels with a single word.

We get a few example caravanserai, though not much on any of them. Bandakar is a calm, quiet little station in the Helicon Belt, out on the Human Edge. It's set up to be as boring-looking and uninteresting as possible, in fact, and it has fewer visitors than almost any other caravanserai. Despite this, it remains open, probably because it's a haven for money laundering and a clearing house for pirated cargo. Certainly it's known to those in the Edge that if someone you love or something you need has been taken by pirates, the caravanserai's security forces are almost always able to serve as intermediaries for ransom negotations. Parsipur's Palace in the Guanxia Asteroids is doing rather less well. It was once a thriving location, its gilded exterior long since cut up and sold off to cover debts. Each year, more businesses shut down due to lack of resources. The owner-governor, Nozar Parsipur, died of illness after wasting his family's money hunting for a wormhole near the station. While he never did find it, some researchers and explorers believe he was right about it existing and still come by to discover the so-called Treasure Hole of Parsipur.

Kosmet used to be famous for being the place to go for spacecraft parts and other technological bits and bobs. It sits near the Svalarheiman Vila booster servicing wormholes to Shentang-Yutang and Neoterra, overseen by the Qapu Khalqi Sekban Special Naval Unit. It was an ideal place to steal new technology from other powers as part of its repair duties. The Qapu Khalqi also happily installed spyware and listening devices on various ships...but since the start of commercial warfare between PanO and Yu Jing, it has stopped doing so nearly as often. Not because they got caught, mind - rather, the station now serves as valuable neutral meeting ground between the two powers, O-12 and the Nomads. They're still happy to deal in ship parts and technology, but now they make far more in rent than they ever did in repair work. Our final

Our final one is Yanbue Alruwea, the Fountain of Splendor. It's hidden away in a small asteroid belt in a mostly-empty travel system. It's mostly notable for being home to a truly massive number of churches, temples and similar from all kinds of religions. While the Haqq mosque has a plurality of attendees, each year more groups arrive to try and spread their own beliefs, and it's become something of a pilgrimage site for several different religions. The friendly competition between faiths is catered to by the station's businesses, who have invested heavily in printing to make whatever holy books are required.

Last, we get some charts to generate random caravanserais. Two - one to roll on for size, ranging from a dozen people in a tiny station to a floating space city with 400 permanent residents, far more hangers-on, and tons of guns. Second, what the station focuses on - food and water and supplying various colonies with them, cutting edge tech and medicine, playgrounds for the rich and powerful, arms dealing and military tech, or information dealers and Hassassins pretending to be one of the other kinds.

Next time: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

spider bethlehem
Oct 5, 2007
Makin with the stabbins

mellonbread posted:

Going in for a second bite at the apple, because I was thinking about this in an unrelated context today

How do ICON's attack of opportunity rules work? In my experience the unwillingness to disengage from melee combat and reposition is usually a response to the action economy and AOO rules - if you try to move out of combat, you lose the chance to attack that turn AND the other guy gets to hit you for free. In the long run you might be better off repositioning, but on a round by round basis the optimal choice is to stand and deliver.
The main way Icon handles this is that moving adjacent to an enemy costs an extra square of movement, in a game where most creatures have 3-4 squares of movement total. This is the main way they handle terrain and zone effects, too.

There aren't too many attack of opportunity type powers. The main stickiness options stalwart PCs and enemy NPCs have are Vigilance, which makes it so adjacent enemies can't use Dash - a common form of mobility power attached to attacks and also serving the same purpose as in 5e, the "full move" option. This tends to force enemies to stick to them or else commit to moving away. You can't split up movement in Icon so this ends up holding otherwise mobile characters in place. The other major zone of control maneuver is Guardian, but that just lets you interrupt enemy attacks to take the target's place for them. The way this works in practice is enemies tend to end up always fighting the Stalwart no matter who they attack, which is fun, but not a straight counter like AoOs are.

Edit: Per Abbadon vigilance is getting changed in the imminent 1.3 edition. It's becoming an attack of opportunity. So you're not the only person who noted the lack.

spider bethlehem fucked around with this message at 04:46 on Jan 28, 2022

Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."

Leraika posted:

Suddenly the way the roles were divvyed up in Zenkaiger makes a lot more sense.
Ok how did it not make any sense? The zenkaigers represent technology, dinosaurs, animals, magic, and vehicles which are some of the more common motiffs in super sentai.

Also, this discussion reminds me of this clip from RPM.

MadScientistWorking fucked around with this message at 02:16 on Jan 28, 2022

Jun 14, 2015

slime time

Not in that it didn't make sense, but that that distinction was an actual thing instead of 'hey let's grab some of the most popular sentai and theme the heroes after them'.

Jul 15, 2017

Are there even broad enough stereotypes among the colors to justify this sort of thing in Sentai/PR? It doesn't feel like it. Jen from Time Force feels like she shoots all Pink 'they're just the girly one' stuff in the head. And she'd do it, too, don't cross her.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Dawgstar posted:

Are there even broad enough stereotypes among the colors to justify this sort of thing in Sentai/PR? It doesn't feel like it. Jen from Time Force feels like she shoots all Pink 'they're just the girly one' stuff in the head. And she'd do it, too, don't cross her.

Not really, the PR:TTRPG makers pretty much pull solely from MMPR

Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."

Dawgstar posted:

Are there even broad enough stereotypes among the colors to justify this sort of thing in Sentai/PR? It doesn't feel like it. Jen from Time Force feels like she shoots all Pink 'they're just the girly one' stuff in the head. And she'd do it, too, don't cross her.
No. That's what Covok mentioned with her comment about Ziggy and Tommy who are both green rangers. Tommy is kind of a serious brooding loner who has trouble adjusting to the team. Ziggy is a comedic ranger who only became one to prevent the bad guys from winning. To give context to how much of a stark difference it is Ziggy's first lines as a Power Ranger was," Im a Power Ranger!!!! Noo.... I don't want to be a Power Ranger anymore I don't want to be a Power Ranger anymore." The closest analog to Tommy in Power Rangers RPM is Ziggy's friend the black ranger.

As for Jenn yeah she was more of a leader than the actual red ranger. Also, here's the leader for this season's super sentai which made did joke that the leader wasn't red.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


F&F 2022: Power Rangers: special sentai edition

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20

MadScientistWorking posted:

No. That's what Covok mentioned with her comment about Ziggy and Tommy who are both green rangers. Tommy is kind of a serious brooding loner who has trouble adjusting to the team. Ziggy is a comedic ranger who only became one to prevent the bad guys from winning. To give context to how much of a stark difference it is Ziggy's first lines as a Power Ranger was," Im a Power Ranger!!!! Noo.... I don't want to be a Power Ranger anymore I don't want to be a Power Ranger anymore." The closest analog to Tommy in Power Rangers RPM is Ziggy's friend the black ranger.

And then there's the blue ranger.

Sep 6, 2019

Who's the person the Blue Ranger is fighting who sounds a lot like Karen Gillan but who probably isn't Karen Gillan?

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20

Everyone posted:

Who's the person the Blue Ranger is fighting who sounds a lot like Karen Gillan but who probably isn't Karen Gillan?

By process of elimination of her being literally the only female villain mentioned for RPM.

May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.

RPM is unique in that the Black Ranger is the protagonist. Also, it has a clear protagonist.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

America After Dark, Part 4: Sparkle Sparkle!

Deadly Sparkle is a road-trip adventure that takes the PCs through every city covered in America After Dark. The adventure outline says “This is how it’s supposed to work in theory. Of course, your players will find a million ways to change it.” But Deadly Sparkle is a very linear adventure, and a very forgiving one to boot. Most of what the PCs need to know can be learned just by asking around…or by interrogating the many, many people who will try to kill them. It's mindless hack and slash and I think I like it.

The adventure centers around Sparkle, a new version of “crystal metheline.” (Look, you couldn’t just Google this stuff in 1991.) It’s a glittery crystalline power which is usually liquefied and injected, like heroin. So what’s different about it? It was invented by a member of Black Solstice, the cult of evil Sorcerers who want to conquer the world. Besides euphoria, Sparkle temporarily gives its users the Kin Edge, Aura Sight. In addition to seeing lots of weird colours, maaan, they can see Kin. What’s worse, the sight of a Kin aura gives them a huge adrenaline rush and changes their blissful stupour into violent frenzy. (Side effects? Pressure builds in your vitreous humour, causing glaucoma-like symptoms that get worse and worse until your eyeballs burst.)

For most Kin, the average human is no threat, and even being ripped to pieces by a mob is only an embarrassing setback. But if more and more of the Herd use Sparkle, well, do I even have to say it? The Kin are hosed.

The story starts at the Zone-Zone in New York City, where the PCs have been invited to hang out and see industrial rock band Theory of Obsolescence. A Crowley named Thick Eddie wants to hang out and talk in one of the back rooms. Eddie has no sinister intentions, but some Herd are hanging out and doing Sparkle. One of the users says “Everything’s glowing…” soon followed by “You’re not human!”

So the PCs are attacked by a small group of screaming clubgoers who are tripping balls. Beating them up is child’s play, but even with the band playing, the fight will attract attention. Hopefully they didn’t rip them to pieces.

What happens next depends on whether or not they talk to other Kin about it–and getting the word out is definitely the right move. Either way they’ll be invited to talk with a local leader of their faction–Samantha X for the Commune, Razor for the Complex, and so on. If they spread the word, they’ll be promised a reward. If not, the invitation won’t come until a few weeks have passed and stories about Sparkle users being murdered pop up in the news. This will get them chewed out.

Since the PCs were the first ones to discover Sparkle, they have a responsibility to take point in dealing with it. Samantha X or whoever will promise them a reward–or, if they didn’t tell anybody about what happened at the Zone-Zone, it will be penance for being jerks.

The PCs can get a lead on Sparkle just by asking around the local clubs. Now that they’ve noticed it, it seems to be everywhere. Soon the PCs will run into a dealer named “Tyrone the Peacock.” He has a couple of tough friends, but of course they’re no match for the PCs. Tyrone himself has just been introduced to Black Solstice and is in way over his head. When the PCs make him realize this, he’ll admit that he gets his Sparkle from a fancy uptown club called The Silver Yacht.

The Silver Yacht is on the top floor of a high-rise not far from Broadway. It’s members only, and the security guards are Black Solstice initiates armed with automatic weapons.

The PCs will have to either deal with a guard at the front door, or a half-asleep guard and an electronic lock if they go up the back stairs. Inside, the Silver Yacht is a fancy yuppie bar with a nautical theme. Even if the PCs slip in quietly, they probably don’t look like they belong there, and acting rude will just get the cops called on them.

With a bribe or a threat, the bartender will introduce them to a manager who can actually sell them some drugs. But in his office, the manager denies everything, sweating bullets. If they make him talk…do you remember a spell from the Magic sourcebook, called Omerta? It’s going to come up a lot. The manager is a Black Solstice member. He’ll blurt out some information about the lab where the drugs are made, and die with a bloody froth on his lips. If any of the PCs are Wyghts with the Necropathy Edge, they can keep him talking. If they threaten the manager with True Death, he’ll give them some information about the drug lab’s defenses.

All of this assumes that the PCs go to the Silver Yacht at night. If they go during the day, it’s mostly empty. They can break into the manager’s office and get the lab’s address from a nudie calendar that the manager uses to keep his appointments. They’ll also find $2,100 in cash, about $1,500 worth of cocaine, and Black Magic ritual implements–skulls, candles, herbs, that sort of thing.

Assaulting the Sparkle lab is the last part of the New York leg of the adventure. It’s a boarded-up building in a hellish part of the South Bronx–buildings razed by fire, abandoned cars, burn barrels, and not a working streetlight in sight. When the PCs roll up, they may notice the glint from someone watching them through the windows with binoculars.

The building is protected by a dozen guards, a half-dozen lab techs in no hurry to fight, and 3 Sorcerers. The toughest part of the fight isn’t the Sorcerers, but the fact that the guards are crooked cops. If the PCs wipe them out, they’ll have a citywide manhunt to deal with when they return to NYC at the end of the adventure.

Assuming the PCs prevail, a lab tech named Joe Sellers is willing to talk if the PCs promise to protect him from Black Solstice. Joe will break into a computer and give them the addresses of labs in DC, Cleveland, and Chicago. He’ll warn them that the addresses seem like vacant lots, and that the shipment of Sparkle to DC went out weeks ago, before the NYC lab was even built.

If the PCs get themselves killed, they’ll have to go back and investigate the lab, only to find that Black Solstice has cleared out…in too much of a hurry. They’ll be able to find the addresses on a computer that was left behind. Either way, it’s clear that the DC lab is the priority because it will be up and running within a week. The PCs’ faction will send other Kin to wipe out any remaining Sparkle dealers in New York.

The PCs’ factional contacts in DC will point them toward the Stopwatch, a dingy and derelict sports bar. Most of the patrons are old men slowly drinking themselves to death. The PCs are looking for a Sorcerer named Chinners, who gets his name from the fact that his last name is Chin and he has a really big chin. He’ll gladly talk to them until he realizes what they are, at which point he’ll stall for time while his guards close in. They’re members of the Tigers gang.

After beating the crap out of Chinners and his friends, they can make him talk–whereupon he’ll die just like the manager of the Silver Yacht. All they’ll get is the address of a house in a bad part of town. (If the PCs are subdued or killed, they’ll wake up in the lab. They’ll have to survive interrogation and break free.)

The Sparkle lab is in a ruined brownstone that’s become a trap house. The PCs can just walk right in, stepping over discarded syringes and nodding users as they go. One of them will point at the PCs and shout “Monster!” but they’re too high to get up, much less fight. However, this will bring another gang of Tigers rumbling down the stairs, followed by another Black Solstice cell.

Here the narrative just assumes that the PCs kill all their enemies in a battle to the death. The moment the last evil Sorcerer drops dead, a phone rings. The phone is in the actual drug lab, which is a perfectly clean white lab space in contrast to the rest of the building. The person on the other end is an idiot who will spill some info about Black Solstice before realizing that he’s not talking to one of the drug chemist Sorcerers. (You’d think there’d be a comedy bit where his Omerta oath makes him drop dead, but not.)

So that’s it. The PCs visited our nation’s capitol just to get in a bar brawl, then slaughter a rival gang in a magical shootout in a trap house. The PCs already know that their next stop is Cleveland.

The PCs’ faction contacts will direct them to a bar called Skinny Joe’s. On the walk there, they come upon a horrible sight in an alleyway–a woman who’s been flayed alive. Strangely, she’s still wearing a length of black chain around one leg. It’s only possible to save her if there’s a Sorcerer in the party–the Healing Edge won’t work, but a healing spell like 911 will!

The woman is also a Vampyre, go figure. If she survives, she’ll be too hosed up for a while to do anything but mutter about a “skinless thing.” After she feeds, she’ll snap out of it and identify herself as Joanna Scum, a member of the ManHandlers gang. She’ll stick up for the PCs to every gang in Cleveland, and even fight with them. She figures out that she was attacked by a Skinthief, of course.

If she doesn’t survive, remember, Vampyre: she’ll dissolve into mist and wake up in her bedroom, skin and all. The PCs will run into her at some point, but the sooner the better.

When the PCs go to Skinny Joe’s, the place is a trap. It’s not Black Solstice–they just tipped off Frostbite, the tattooed bodybuilder albino Werewolf who commands the Limbo Wolves. As far as he knows, the PCs are a rival gang moving in on his turf.

The PCs aren’t supposed to fight the Limbo Wolves, really. It even says to emphasize to the players that they’re hopelessly outnumbered by a small army of outlaw biker Werewolves and their human friends. (If by some miracle they do start a fight and win, they just find leads to the next location in a drawer somewhere–it’s the most boring way to succeed and the way to success.)

Frostbite is a reasonable monster, and he can easily be persuaded that the PCs are on his side and Sparkle is an existential threat to the Kin. Knowing that Black Solstice played him for a fool really pisses him off! If Joanna is with them, it will more or less happen automatically.

Frostbite not only tells the PCs where to find the Sparkle lab, he’ll insist on backing up the PCs in the raid. What’s more, he’ll call the leaders of the ManHandlers, who are the hired muscle guarding the lab. They’ll agree to turn on Black Solstice immediately.

When the PCs attack the Sparkle lab, they’ll meet up with the Limbo Wolves and the ManHandlers. If they haven’t met Joanna yet, they’ll identify her by the black chain, which is the “colours” of the ManHandlers. By the time they reach the lab, they’re at the front of a caravan of Werewolves On Wheels and Monster Biker Castratrixes.

The Sparkle lab is inside a big house in a poor suburb. When the PCs assault it, Joanna screams–she sees the Skinthief who is, at this moment, wearing her old skin.

Don’t threaten me with a good time.

Because the ManHandlers turned on them, the lab is only defended by a few Sorcerers and 10 Skinthieves. The plan was to make a fighting retreat inside, then let the Skinthieves attack from the rear. But without the ManHandlers, they just don’t have the numbers to pull it off. Unless the players feel bummed about not getting to roll enough dice this session, the fight is a massacre and you don’t even have to play it out.

There’s nothing of use in the drug lab. A lab identical to the one in Washington, a bedroom for the Sorcerers, an apartment for the ManHandlers, if you want to steal clothes from a gang of implicitly lesbian biker assassins from a 70s exploitation movie.

After the fight, the PCs will meet the leaders of the ManHandlers, a pair of stone-cold psychopathic identical twins named Tandi and Suzanne. They want information, so they’re going to torture a surviving Sorcerer with their Claws. If the PCs insist, they’ll step aside and let them take over. The PCs don’t have to torture the guy to get them to tell them the only thing he’s gonna tell them: ha ha, you’re too late, the Master of the Inner Circle is on his way to Chicago.” Then he coughs up blood and dies like all the others. Join Black Solstice! Become immortal and die anyway! It’s a really lovely health plan.

So this update is long enough as it is. Next time we’ll finish the rest of Deadly Sparkle, and this book.

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?

This adventure feels like the opposite of a Ctech adventure.

CTech: No matter where you go or what you do, you basically end up failing anyway.

Nightlife: No matter where you go or what you do, you end up succeeding anyway.

I think I prefer the latter of the two.

Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.

Interstitial: Our Hearts Intertwined
Part 4.8 - A Passage

Welcome back to our Interstitial Review! After the complete downer that was the Linksmith last session, it's time to move on to some of the better backer playbooks - and we'll try to fit in the game's miscellaneous Advanced Moves, too.

Let's resume by taking a look at a fun, flashy, and very slightly over-the-top playbook: the Prodigy!

I’m surprised they didn’t include Gary Oak on the name list, honestly! But yeah. This is all about playing the ‘cool rival’.

Or just the too-cool-for-school protagonist, given Lelouche and Jotaro Kujo. And, as you can see, we’re at the anime playbooks I mentioned last time.

See, this is something I can get behind. If you’re having over-the-top world-hopping adventures, why not throw some anime into it?



Eyes of Heaven
When somebody is attacked by someone you have a Link with, spend that Link and roll with Mastery.
On 10+, you copy their attack, cancel it out, and gain the upper hand.
On 7-9, you must either both take Harm, or neither of you take Harm.
On a miss, you take the Harm and are wide open to worse consequences.

That’s right, Eyes of Heaven is not only the title of that one JoJo fighting game, but a reference to the infamous Jotaro asspull of literally just... having your opponent’s power. It's a cool enough move, too. Protecting your friends by recreating the enemy attack.

The only problem is you have to have a Link with the enemy beforehand, not with your friend.

And that’s why Dark Links are a legitimate tool. Don’t forget to make those rivals!

Y’know? Fair. I didn’t think of that, but it makes complete sense here. It also synergizes with One Thousand Birds, too.

I have comments about that One Thousand Birds, but I’ll make them when we are there.

For other moves, Blue Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose is a cool move, but you’re going to need a friend to supply you with Locked Links to make it work.


Blue Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose
You have a signature technique that can be used just for this situation. Choose a Basic Move for this to represent.
When you use your Signature Technique, spend a Locked Link to immediately act as if you rolled +10.

Also Kaiba reference.

The world could use more Yu-Gi-Oh references.


Dual Identity
You have someone or something special linked to you who can help you surpass your limits. When you let them take over in order to pass an obstacle, spend a Link and roll with Heart.
On 10+, they succeed in a flashy way.
On 7-9, their action suffices, but their power is too much.
On a miss, you can’t focus and are knocked prone.

Moving on, I… don’t really get Dual Identity. Is this supposed to be a ‘give in to the dork side’ sort of move, or something?

I think it’s supposed to be like the fox spirit in Naruto, or a stand in JoJo. It doesn’t make much thematic sense, even if it’s a fun move.

I guess it could be a Final Smash, or something.


If There’s No Door, Then I’ll Make One!
When the way forward is unclear, roll with Mastery to open a new path forward.
On 10+, the opening is directly advantageous to your goal.
On 7-9, it’ll get you there with time.
On a miss, you still make a path, but also cause something terrible to happen.

If There’s No Door, I’ll Make One! is a good solid move. I honestly really like it.
(I know we’ve done a lot of dunking on the game so far, but there is some good stuff in it, and it’s important to mention it when it shows up. This game isn’t all bad.)


One Thousand Birds
When your spite and rage is palpable, Spend a Dark Link to immediately add and choose Deal Great Harm for one of your Use Magic options.

Now, to jump back really quick, One Thousand Birds. This directly implies that you can’t choose the same thing twice on Use Magic to do extra damage. And that’s kind of lame. That’s all.

I mean, it does make sense with how the rest of the system is. And doing extra damage is a big effect, considering…


As a base, most important NPCs have 4 Harm, whereas smaller mooks have 2 or even 1.

…that it’ll OHKO most enemies!

Or you make enemies with a lot of health, so that it’ll take more than two PCs rolling successful attacks to kill any enemy. This game doesn’t have good rules for making enemies, honestly. But I digress!

Well, sadly, as a NPC, you still take 4 (or maybe fewer) successful attacks for enemies to kill you. But, if you bite it as The Prodigy, you can pass on one of your Moves with Next Generation.

The obvious drawback with this move is that it requires you to die.


Next Generation
When you ll your Harm Clock, you can make one final act to pass down a move from yourself to another.




I always knew you were a ham, this whole time!

From a GM’s perspective, I will say I did make an exception for this move, so it also triggers if you retire a character. It’s actually exceptionally hard to retire a character in this game compared to other PbtA games.

Retire specifically, as opposed to ‘die’, change playbooks, etc? Or any sort of thing that leads to you playing someone else?

I mean, changing playbooks implies you’re the same character in a new role. This is specifically something that takes your character out of play, and away from the story. So retiring and death, basically. I wouldn’t count the “become a NPC” Harm Clock option.

Yeah. As long as the DM is playing along, you really only die in Interstitial when you want to.


I Will Judge You Myself!
When using Strike with Intent against someone that stands against your ideals, roll with Light and take +1 Forward on your next move if the strike is a success.

I Will Judge You Myself! Is a nice improvement to Strike With Intent, but since the Prodigy’s Light and Dark both start at -1, if you take this move, you’re basically locked into using it.

Which, to be fair, could be seen as the price of anime power.

It does feel weird to me that the cold anti-hero rear end in a top hat rival has a high Heart score and a bad Dark score. Though I guess those characters are usually charming.

Smell you later!

Now, let’s look at the Advanced move. What I Have is Not a Dream, Because I Will Make It a Reality. Say that three times fast. It’s just a mouthful.


What I Have is Not a Dream, Because I Will Make It a Reality
You have ascended to the power you deserve. Spend a Link to make your Mastery stat equal to the amount of Harm you have. This lasts for the rest of the session.

Very anime.

Sadly, it’s not that good. The playbook’s Mastery starts at +1, and can be raised to +2 through the normal level-up process. So the only real benefit of this is to raise it to +3, ‘cause… well, at +4, you die.

Honestly there are two real thoughts I have looking at this move.

1: Why isn’t his move +Dark and giving you the chance to kick rear end?

2: With this and Birds, I feel like this book’s intent is for you to Use Magic to do massive damage through anime superpowers, and I’m not sure I like the build strategy, even though I like this book.

Don’t forget it also synergizes with Blue Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose, too. So you avoid the major drawbacks of Cast Magic if you have Locked Links to spend.

Though I might use it on a Light or Dark move to be sure that I can succeed on a weak move. But, I do believe that we’ve covered everything except the Link move.


Link Move: I Want to be Stronger for Someone Else
When you Make a Link and are surprised with your connection with someone else,
you get +1 forward to Deep Dive or Defend Them.

I… don’t get it.

I mean, like, I do get it, and it fits thematically, but mechanically it’s at odds with choosing the type of the Link before you make it. This feels like it’s meant to proc on the 7-9 case when your Link Move triggers but ‘the Link isn’t what you intended’.

I mean, after I ran this game, I’m surprised you don’t have a Dark Link with me.

I remember it being the most amazing and incredible time and showing what tabletop games are really capable of…

…by which I mean to say, pure fanservice.

That's always nice to hear. And we’ll definitely have more to say about it once we finish this entire review. But we’ve still got a few more playbooks to go over.

So we’ve met our anime rival, but here's our anime protagonist: The Knucklehead!

Wow, who needs to be the Chosen when you can be this guy?

Fun fact: Both this and The Prodigy have the character question “How important is it for your character to look really cool?” and I don’t even feel that bad about it.
And, like the Prodigy, there’s some cool powers in this playbook, too.

Sadly, some of them aren’t completely thought out. Like, Dance, Water, Dance! seems cool, but what does having a bunch of clones do?


Dance, Water, Dance!
You focus your energy inwards and create clones of yourself. Roll with Mastery.
On 10+, you create 5 clones that can move individually.
On 7-9, you create 3 clones that move as a unit.
On a miss, you summon an embarrassing excuse for a clone that draws unwanted attention.

Make a Kingdom Hearts reference. That’s about it. And as much as I’m down for cool narrative bonus moves, this effect is… narrative combat. That’s about it. I’m sure someone could make something creative from it though.

There’s more narrative combat with the next move, You’re Too Slow! Though at least I get the reference this time. And this move does seem both useful and cool.


You’re Too Slow!
When you are attacked by someone who looks down on you, you may Spend a Link to dodge and immediately appear in an advantageous position.

Actually, hold on. How many of these moves do narrative combat things? We’ve just covered the first two. But, I Sprouted From the Concrete is also narrative.


I Sprouted from the Concrete
When a rival gets a leg up on you, Spend your Link with them, and get an immediate 10+ on your next roll to counter them.

It’s at least a bit more mechanical. A free 10+ on a contextual roll.

True. And Interstitial is a pretty narrative game to begin with, if I’m being honest.

Now we get to what I think is probably the most busted move of the kit: He Has the Most Dangerous Power, to Turn Those Around Him to Allies.


He Has the Most Dangerous Power, to Turn Those Around Him to Allies
On a successful Convince Somebody roll, the convinced person gains a Light Link with you, and you will gain a Locked Mastery Link. If you already have a link with this person, replace it with this Locked Mastery Link.

The Shonen protagonist has to compete with their rival, “What I Have is Not a Dream, Because I will Make it a Reality.”

But, let’s just make this move clear. The text, as written, applies to ANY successful Convince roll. Meaning any 7+ on a Convince can make anyone think kindly of you. This is… I don’t hate the Knucklehead, but this move is kind of OP.

Told you. It does seem a little overboard, but, like, this is what shonen protagonists do, right? Accumulate a menagerie of true friends?

(Seriously, though, it could probably use some rebalancing.)

To add to this, you can take a side level in Disney Princess by taking Art of Summoning.


Art of Summoning
Choose a society of animals and form any Locked Link with them. When you need a helping hand, roll with the corresponding stat.
On 10+, you summon a powerful adult.
On 7-9, gets you a serviceable but scrappy youth.
On a miss, you get a baby you’ll have to protect.
Failing to protect them negatively affects your relationship with the society.

It's weird that it emphasizes animals. I think in general it represents Kingdom Hearts summons, and that includes Genie and Tinkerbell… and I don’t know any Shonen off of the top of my head that focused on animal allies.

I dunno. I had a player in my second game of this use it to be Kamen Rider Decade and summon other riders in his upgraded form. Though he was not the Knucklehead.


Gear Second
Spend a Heart Link to gain absurd speed and agility: roll for two separate Basic Moves in immediate succession.
If either move fails, you Take Harm and are left wide open, needing to regain your strength.

Anyways, Gear Second. This move is way too weird, honestly. Thematically it means speed, but the system is narrative and doesn’t have initiative. You can already take two turns in a row if the narrative permits it. This just makes it cost something.

Wait, you can take two turns in a row? The characters I was playing never took two turns in a row.

That's because a major PbtA GM tenet is to share the spotlight. Plus… in a game where the enemy doesn’t have a “turn”, does having two turns in a row actually matter?

Oh. Weird move, then.


Let’s Go Back Together!
When things are at their worst, roll to Limit Break. Instead of a forward, you may choose to roll with Advantage.
If you roll +12, everyone in the party gets the bonus.

Sadly, Let’s Go Back Together! is another weird move— the idea is good, but Limit Break is… still +1 to someone else’s roll. The question of why you’d choose to use it is worth asking, even if you do get a base +1 to the roll from the Knucklehead’s Light stat.

I think it’s supposed to be that your use of Limit Break grants the other player advantage. That’s the best-case interpretation of a badly worded move. It’s also actually useful, compared to just arbitrarily rolling with an extra die.

OK, that makes more sense, and is useful and cool. I get it now.

This game could have really used an editor in places.

This is why you actually hire an editor instead of turning the job over to friends…



I mean, I’m a perfectionist. That’s almost as good.

No, Quackles…


:cripes: You made that joke already!

(Yes, Next Generation has shown up again. It made sense, sort of, on the Prodigy. Seeing it again, though, I’m wondering if the designer was trying to copy their favorite mechanic from another PbtA game.)

I mean, it is a very anime move. Let’s put it on the other anime character book… though I don’t know about other games having this move, Masks does have the subtitle of “A New Generation.” Don't know if that has anything to do with anything.

Both of the ‘anime’ books were designed by the same person. It shows. The advanced move, This Is To Go Even Further Beyond! is similar to the Prodigy’s.


This is to Go Even Further Beyond!
You have unlocked your potential. Spend a Link to make your Heart stat equal to the amount of Harm you have. This lasts for the rest of the session.

It’s just a Dragon Ball reference, and Heart instead of Mastery and… I wanna say a GioGio reference but I could be wrong.

It could really be set on a better stat, too, like the other one. Maybe Mastery?

That just leaves the Link Move.


Link Move: To Be the Hero is All I’ll Ask
You’re driven to be the hero of your story! When you Make a Link with someone, they know you’re a hero. You gain +1 forward to Convince them or Limit Break with them.

Hey, it synergizes with Let’s Go Back Together! and Most Dangerous Power. (I’m not saying that full name again.) Honestly, this move, by itself, makes the Knucklehead very powerful if you make the right choices.

The narrative aspect is nice too. If you want to be the Shonen protagonist and be the hero, you can! And let everyone see your conviction by how you connect with them. It’s a very specific, thematic class that I can respect.

So that leaves two more ‘extra’ playbooks to look over. Unfortunately, the design of the next one is… erm. Not that great.

The Memory! You might notice something unusual about this playbook: the stats are missing. This is because the Memory’s stats are… more directly influenced by who they know around them. And this comes at an utterly drastic cost.

So, obviously, this is Xion from 179 Days. Because that’s what you get when 358/2. I do have a story associated with this book, but in order to get it you do have to know the main move. Go ahead and show them the moves, Quackles.

That first one, right there. I’m Only Here if You Remember.


I’m Only Here if You Remember
Your stats are equal to your Links [of that type] minus one. A stat cannot go higher than 3.

Well, that’s nice. In those who remember you is strength.


Whenever you roll a 1 on a die, you lose a Link. You do not lose two Links for rolling two ones at once.

OK, less nice— you have a ~30% chance of losing a Link any time you roll— but presumably this playbook has a ‘cycling’ strategy where you gain new Links as you lose the old ones. It can’t be too bad, can it?


If you lose all your Links, you die.


There it is, folks. There’s the issue with the Memory. If this line wasn’t here, this would be a fine playbook. But with it, it’s a terrible one, and picking it has a risk of leaving you without a playbook at all at the most inopportune moment.

So, during their “Door to Darkness” series of oneshots, one of the players played the Memory as mid-life crisis Tony Hawk.

I don’t think that character made a single roll in the session where they didn’t lose a Link, and they died like 15 minutes into the session.

The Memory is fragile, and the book admits that. Your friends have to slowly build you up and let you become stronger because of this. This is mostly done with your Link Move.


Link Move: Hey, Can You Introduce Me?
When a friend talks about you and how much you mean to them with someone, they take +1 forward to Make a Link with that person and you get the same Link that they make.

So you need your friends to talk you up, like an ethereal live-streamer.

(Don’t forget to like and subscribe! :j:)

I suppose it’s one way to think of it. Also nicer than just dying. But the rest of the moves are building on this theme of weak but slowly building power. You build these connections, then use them to have nigh infinite power.

Never Forget, pretty clear. Roll with a high stat, and get Hold that you can use to not lose Links from your main ability.


Never Forget
At the beginning of a session, roll with your Highest Links.
On 10+, Hold 2,
On 7-9, Hold 1.
Spend Hold to ignore losing a Link.

This is the fourth and final move in the game that uses Hold for something.


Make a Big Impression
When you Interfere or Limit Break with someone, on a 10+ you may also form a Link with them: either Dark for Interfere, or Light for Limit Break.

I’ll Always be There to Get My Friends Back
Whenever you would lose a Link from rolling a 1, an ally may lose a Link instead.

While we’re on the subject, Make a Big Impression and I’ll Always Be There To Get My Friends Back also focus on ways you don’t have to lose Links, or can easily make new ones.


Inside Memories, I can Live Forever
When you would Take Harm, you may Spend a Link instead. Unlock a Link to heal one Harm.

Heated Moment
Whenever you Push Through Stress, you may Spend a Link to succeed as if you rolled a 10+.

Ultimate Form
When you need to draw on your power to save your friends, spend Links Freely. You may choose from the list for each Link.
• You deal Great Harm
• You Heal someone's Harm completely
• You remove a friend from Danger
• You draw all attention onto yourself
• You may transfer your Marked Experience to a friend

Then, Inside Memories I Can Live Forever, Heated Moment, and especially Ultimate Form are all about ways to spend those Links. (And possibly die in the process. Especially if you’re using Ultimate Form.)

Honestly, this feels like the devs were trying to turn another KH character into a playbook again.

I mean… Extra spoiler alert, but Xion is the final boss of 358/2 Days, she turns into a big rear end monster, and defeating her does erase her from everyone’s memory.

But… you remember it.

Yeah, because it got fixed in KH3 I think. I haven’t played it yet. Either way that’s the reason she’s not mentioned in KH2.

That just leaves two more moves. “I’m Glad I Got to Meet You” is pure flavor that lets you sense where your connections are. This can be awkward if you have a Link with a villain you’re trying to track down, but otherwise not much.


I’m Glad I Got to Meet You
You are drawn to people who have connections with you. You can locate anyone you have a Link with a sense of direction, distance, and time

Please, Please Remember
When making a Link, you and your party may treat 7-9’s as 10+.

Then there’s Please, Please Remember, which… honestly, this might be the reason you’re playing this playbook at all, mechanically. Guaranteed Link perks whenever you make a Link and get 7+, for the whole party? Yes please.

Yeah, that advanced move is amazing! I’d take that in a heartbeat. Probably a reward for taking such a stressful book.

But, we’re not done yet. We do have one more playbook. This one was a Kickstarter-exclusive book, so if you choose to buy this game you won’t get it sadly. However, I do think it’s one of the best, most functional playbooks in Interstitial.

Presenting The Hunted!

So when eliasswift says this was an ‘exclusive’, he doesn’t mean you have to buy it as an add-on now that the game’s published. You could only get it in this Kickstarter.

And, I’ll straight up say this: I think that’s bullshit. It’s genuinely disgusting when it comes from a supply and demand standpoint.

I’ve seen (and backed) RPG Kickstarters with stretch goals for extra classes. I’ve seen (and backed) board games with Kickstarter-exclusive minis and components. And that makes sense. You’re paying extra money for a game to spend its earnings to give you higher quality components. To give you more that costs them more.

Here, the person on the Kickstarter basically paid an extra 20 bucks to get two more pages in a pdf, and those pages printed on an extra page of A4 printer paper. And, as much as I think The Hunted might be the best playbook in Interstitial, and might be one of the better playbooks I’ve seen in a PbtA vacuum, I don’t know if it’s 20 bucks worth of parts and labor.

So to properly do the Hunted Justice, we’ll need to show its Link Move, as well as the playbook’s unique mechanical feature: the Adversary Track.

This playbook is about being an aloof loner, for a very good reason. The Link Move by itself isn’t particularly special, aside from using a pseudo-hold (‘Distance’), having reasonably strong options, and being frustratingly non-standard in how it works with Make a Link (the Memory’s Link Move had this issue, too, but I never had a good opportunity to mention it).

But the Adversary track… whoof. The presence of this encourages you to keep your Links spare - and gives you something (or someone) to be worried about.

And it makes those Links so much sweeter. We joked about how we were overloaded with Links on our characters, but the Hunted needed to pick and choose, know when to be aloof and when to have that strength. Not that the other characters didn’t have their connections and didn’t care about everyone they met, but The Hunted gave those connections weight.

Though, once again, the Link Move is clearly passive and doesn’t trigger on a Make a Link move. It has the roleplay trigger of creating boundaries. That’s always annoying.

So, the move ‘Hunted’ is simply about having an Adversary. However, most of the other moves let you manage it in some way. Don’t Expect Any Favors and Just Passing Through (and arguably Leave Me Alone) are all part of the ‘edgy loner’ tree.


Don't Expect Any More Favors
When you roll 10+ to Make a Link, you may reject the Link and gain one Distance.

Just Passing Through
When you turn down someone's offer of hospitality, mark experience.

However, it’s the capstone to that tree that’s eye-opening: Destiny is Destiny.


Destiny is Destiny
When you accept your fate and face your Adversary alone, you may lose all of your Links to grasp for power in desperation. When you do, roll with Dark.
On 10+, you aren't forgotten.
On 7-9, pick one.
You destroy your Adversary and yourself.
You call upon the Darkness for aid, and it heeds you... for a price; destroy your Adversary if you immediately change to a playbook of the GM's choice.
On a miss, die.
Note: If you take this move, you may not take Our Hearts Intertwined.

“On a miss, die.”

And you know what? Of all the playbooks that have weird ties to death conditions… This is one I actually just straight up like. The formatting is weird, though.

I think that’s supposed to be italics. But yeah, I do like the move. Even if it’s scary as heck.

My main issue, ignoring the lack of bullet points, is… What happens on a 10+? 7-9 you make the choice and see if you win, 10+ you just… aren’t forgotten. Does that mean you ride off into the sunset, your final battle offscreen? Or does that mean you make a choice and your friends remember you despite your sacrifice?

I think you die or have something horrible happen to you no matter what. But it’s marginally more heartwarming.

Weird wording, but a good move for the darkest timeline.


Worlds Apart
When you cast your mind outward to sense other worlds, roll with Heart.
On a hit, ask one question.
On 10+, take +1 forward to Make a Link.
• Is _____ in this world?
• What world did _____ last enter?
• What’s the closest world to this one?
On a miss, you receive a vision of your Adversary.

Worlds Apart seems like a cooler, specific Deep Dive.

Pretty much. It’s nice to see between the worlds. This might be a good move for the Displaced to steal.


Conference Call
You may talk to your Adversary at any time, across worlds. When you do, take +1 forward to Deep Dive.

And Conference Call has “I will taunt you”, old-school Carmen Sandiego energy.

A good move for if you want a more cat-and-mouse style Hunted relationship, though the Hunted leans into a more long-term, hiding-away relationship.

But what’s really important here are the two moves that deal with learning to open up and accept connection: Coming Clean, which leads straight into Our Hearts Intertwined.


Coming Clean
When you open up about your Adversary, mark the Adversary Track once to form a Link of your choice with everyone present.

Our Hearts Intertwined
When you stand against your Adversary with your friends at your side, roll with Light.
On 10+, choose three.
On 7-9, choose one.
• Deal Harm equal to your number of Links of any kind.
• Protect your friends from harm.
• Take +1 ongoing against your Adversary.
Note: If you take this move, you may not take Destiny is Destiny.

Oh! It said the thiiiiiing!

Our Hearts Intertwined is, very simply, the big final battle move. You and your friends coming together to fight the good fight and take down this villain. Whoever they may be.

So much of this is self-explanatory as far as characters go. But it’s an exciting book to talk about.

Would you say the book is good because it’s self-explanatory? Or, if it’s not just that, what other reason(s)?

From a PbtA standpoint this book: Sets up drama both with NPCs and PCs that isn’t guaranteed to be toxic. It directly tosses a villain into your storyline, giving fodder for the GM to feed on. And also adds weight from a player’s perspective, more than any of the other books… at least outside of something like “CHOSEN MAIN CHARACTER.” And stuff.

So if that’s the case… why weren’t the other books like this? Like, if this is made by the base game designers, they’ve proven they can design well. So… what went wrong? Where did the wheels fall off?

The wheels fell off at the Anachronism and Amalgam… Because they were both made by “Wheels.”

Joking aside, I think this book works because it’s not a direct character tie-in. It’s an actual narrative archetype that’s matters, that makes sense. It’s not trying to be KH. Or anime. I don’t know about everything else.

Yeah, pretty much. I think we’ve come to the same conclusion: that the things that really hurt the game the most are when it tries too hard to be Kingdom Hearts.

Because the heart of the game (ha) is solid, but the framing is not quite right.

Sounds about right. So… How would you rate these extra playbooks?

Well, the Prodigy and Knucklehead are fun. The Anachronism is also solid. And I do like the Hunted.

But on the flip side, the Amalgam is niche and overcomplicated, the Memory isn’t worth it, and the less we say about the Linksmith, the better.

Would you say the same? Or is your take different?

Sounds about right to me. No arguments here.

So, we’ve covered all the playbooks. Before we go, should we finish by talking about advancement and the advanced moves?

That sounds good. Basically, each playbook has one of these:

This tracks experience, and lists the Advancements a player can take. 5 experience is worth one advancement; in this game, you gain experience by failing rolls, making Links with your lowest stat, or spending Links for Experience.

So far, this is completely par for the course for PbtA - though the most common method of marking experience, by failing rolls, isn’t mentioned in the book except in passing. You’d only know the details if you’d played another PbtA game. Where’s an editor when you need one?

It is mentioned once, and very poorly. In the overview, under Advancing, it mentions failing rolls. But it’s not blatant.

But, this game has a special thing called Advanced Moves. Now, these do occasionally exist in other games. But they’re just added to the list of advances, saying something like “after five advances, you can pick from these now.” And they give you some more powerful advances.

Interstitial gives you a free advanced move as an extra during your third advance. You can choose the one from your playbook, or from a big list. We’re about to go over that list.

So this list is kind of… varied. Let’s start with Tank a Shot. Aside from the obvious generic benefit, this also powers up the other Advanced Moves of the Prodigy and Knucklehead, if you can somehow get two Advanceds at the same time.


Tank a Shot
You have an Extra Harm on your clock, giving you a Harm Clock of 5.
When you have 1 Harm remaining, you gain +2 Forward to your next roll.

It should be noted that the game implies you can take multiple, but rules as written it looks like you just take one once you take a third advance.

This gets weird with the next Advanced Move, Rewrite your Link Move. This move specified you can take it multiple times, and for some playbooks this is a useful thing, as you’ve seen.


Rewrite Your Link Move
You may rewrite your Link Move. This option can be taken as many times as you like. Work with the GM to make something good!

Most of the Link Moves for each playbook are either usefully generic, or aspected towards a specific ‘build’— and that second case is when you’d want to use this: to get a Link move best suited for your ‘build’, instead.

Of course, it doesn’t provide any guidance on what counts as a good and not under/overpowered Link Move, so who knows what could happen?

Next up is Prophecize, which is a doozy. I think I’ve seen it used once, and that was as part of the finale of the podcast season one. It’s fun, and the limited use makes it mostly harmless, I think?


Your character may only use this once. You may state something about the world that is unequivocally true. This could be something like, “The enemy will show up here at this time” or, “The barriers between worlds are no longer passable.” You get one sentence with one main idea, and you can only do it once. Spend a Link.

[Further errata: This move can only be taken once, by anybody. That means if your friend took this move, then it’s gone. It’s a one hitter quitter so use it wisely... Or don’t, wish for a fish. I’m not going to stop you.]

I have to admit that ‘once ever per campaign’ is a heck of a thing to drop in the list. How was it used in the podcast?

They got to the villain lair, and half of the cast didn’t feel like fighting because of the weird moral ambiguity of Nobodies. And then, halfway through the villains enacting the plan, one of the players says, “I would like to use Prophecize.” Character turns to the bad guy and says, “And this is where the organization turns on you.” And half of the “villains” jump him and it turns into a big old brawl.

OK, that sounds pretty cool. Arguably, that’s an ‘ideal’ usage of the form.

Of course, someday, some smart-aleck player is going to have, for their prophecy, this:

Charles Dickens posted:

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

It’s one sentence! :v:

(Dickens was paid by the word.)

Also, I hate the emphasis on Errata. Like, why don’t you just say “this move can only be taken once and used ever” instead of “your character may only use this once?”

Also why the "wish for a fish" line? The worst thing to come out of the indie rpg revolution was creators putting informal, conversational text, usually an attempt at being humorous, in their rules sections. I’m looking at you, everything published by John Wick under John Wick Presents.

Wait, John Wick? The assassin in the movies? There’s a tabletop game about him?

No, the 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings guy.

Oh. Wait, if he wrote L5R, then he technically still kills people. :v:
Anyway, I am curious why they didn’t just rewrite it when the time came to add the errata. They’re on the same page, so it seems weird.

Next up on the list is Lingering Will, which basically turns you into The Memory lite after you die.


Lingering Will
When you complete your Harm Clock, you become untethered to the world of life, and you begin to fade. Choose one:

You may choose to survive for as long as others have Links with you. Every time you roll or take Harm, somebody loses a Link with you. When everyone has forgotten you, you no longer exist.

You may choose to survive for long as you have Links with others. Every time you roll or take Harm, you lose a Link. When you have forgotten everyone, you no longer exist.

More like The Memory hardcore. You’re guaranteed to die here.

It’s another direct reference to Kingdom Hearts, how Terra turns into a living suit of armor who is a secret boss battle in one of the remakes.

Every time someone says ‘direct reference to Kingdom Hearts’, we find out one of the game devs did the mechanical equivalent of kicking a puppy.

He gets better!


Still, it does theoretically seem like it could make a more dramatic ending for your character than just dying, if you really wanted.


Home Base
You have a home base on a world. Describe it. You can always travel back there to regroup and find new paths to other worlds.
While there, you can share stories of your friends you’ve met along the way. You may share your Links with your party. They get Heart Links of whatever you share.

Moving on, Home Base seems like a really cool move— except it’s the sort of thematic benefit you could sweet-talk your DM into giving you for free.

At least taking the move gives you a mechanical benefit. The idea of forcing the PCs to take this move to have any sort of base seems stupid though.

And you can’t even get one until halfway through the campaign. It feels like it’d be simpler to just negotiate with the DM.

Last on the moves list, we have Gain Strength. It seems… straightforward and useful? Not much to say about it, really.


Gain Strength
Once per session, you can choose to Spend a Link to automatically roll +10.

It does kind of undercut a few other moves that give you 10+ on specific moves, but I think this is still solid.

But that covers the advanced moves. Anything else to bring up?

I think that’s everything we want to put in this part. Honestly, the advanced moves feel like a very mixed bag. Some are useful, and some… [exaggerated shrug]

At this point, we’ve covered most of the rules of Interstitial, in all their weird and wonderful glory. But there’s a few more things that deserve looking at - the game’s obligatory yet unused setting, and a section of advice to GMs that sheds more light into what this game was going for. Next time!

<=To Be Continued==

Jun 14, 2015

slime time

I really dislike PBTA playbooks that require you to spend one of your starting ability choices on something the class needs to function. Never Forget should have been baked into the Memory's default skill.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Infinity RPG: Haqqislam
A Pirate's Life For Me

Piracy is illegal literally everywhere in the Human Sphere, and space pirates are known as the lowest of the low, heartless, violent and desperate people who hurt others. Unless they're privateers! Privateers (or corsairs, as they tend to be known in the public imagination) escape much of the condemnation that the Human Sphere's societies heap on pirates. They are legally considered to be part of a state's armed forces, as long as they only go after ships and cargo of an enemy. If captured, they must, in theory, be treated as prisoners of war. (Reality often means this is not actually what happens.) While most nations condemn the practice of privateering, they also all engage in it on some level. Haqqislam is just the one that openly allows it and has raised it to a major pillar of their power structure, as a number of their colonization fleet were turned towards the practice rather than becoming simple merchants once Bourak was founded. The Haqq bureaucracy has developed an extensive system of rules and regulations on privateers, giving the corsairs some sense of legitimacy and allowing the government plausible deniability to cut loose any of them that end up in too much trouble or become too vicious.

Most other nations do not offer the extensive system of privateering that Haqqislam does, but everyone does maintain some corsairs - they just don't usually issue an actual, formal letter of marque. That's mostly a tool of Haqqislam. The letter is a contract giving the corsair captain the right to target specific enemy nations or organizations and seize their ships and cargo. It must be held at all times by the captain for them to legally be privateers, not pirates. The Haqq Admiralty at the Diwan al Jund issues most letters of marque, but the bureaucracy is notoriously slow, which means would-be corsairs rack up huge bills for docking and crew wages while waiting on approvals. Most corsairs instead choose to register with branches of the Diwan al Jund at caravanserais, gaining temporary letters of marque. These are valid for only one expedition, but often much easier to get - largely because the caravanserais are run by Funduq and tend to be open to bribes.

A letter of marque in the modern day is not a physical document - it's a data file with government encoding, biometrically associated with a specific captain. The file lives in the captain's comlog and is heavily protected against tampering, and specifies quite a lot. It lists the owner of the corsair vessel, the identity and biometric data of the captain, and a complete crew manifest, excluding any mercenaries hired by the captain. It lists the ship's name, ID codes, port of registry, weight, armaments and cargo capacity. It specifies what targets are eligible for attack, ranging from specific ships or people to entire organizations or nations, along with how long the permission is granted for - one raid, until a specific date, or until hostilities are officially ended by the Haqqislamite government. It will specify a division of profit - by default, ten percent to the government, three percent to the docking authorities where loot is auctioned off, two percent to the Haqqislamite Naval Compensation Found (for provision of the families of space workers killed on duty) and the remaining 85% split up among captain, owner and crew however they have privately agreed. There will also be a list of standard clauses specifying when force can be used, how captives must be threated and what counts as illegal looting. It will also contain an updated account of all loot taken and reports on all raids, prepared by the captain.

The terms and conditions cannot be altered once laid in, and most of the details of cargo manifests and billing accounts are handled by lesser AI; while they're relatively secure, they are more vulnerable to hacking than the rest of the letter of marque. Forging a letter of marque is extremely difficult, but hijacking one by mutiny or suborning a captain is somewhat easier. Most non-Haqq governments are skeptical at best as to the legitimacy of the letters, no matter what Haqqislamite legal scholars argue, and while captured corsairs can hope for Bourak's legal aid, they're almost always in for punishments nearly as bad as for actual pirates if they lose their cases, and the Haqq do not always have the political power or will to save their corsairs. Under Haqq law, letters of marque are only valid in times of "conflict," but conflict is defined quite broadly - it's not just war, it also includes territorial skirmishes, trade disputes, sufficiently heated diplomatic situations, retaliation against certain insults and similar. This is intentional, to give the corsairs wide operating latitude.

Generally, a letter will target a specific enemy nation, but not always. Corsairs are permitted to attack any ship affiliated with their specified target, whether mercantile, military or a pirate itself. They may claim any cargo on such vessels, and ships carrying cargo to or from enemy ports are generally also valid targets. That said, ships directly owned by the named enemy are usually the cleanest targets to justify, so most corsairs prefer them. Neutral vessels with enemy cargo are allowed but much riskier, legally speaking, because of the political considerations of dragging the third party into the conflict. If a corsair is captured doing this, the Haqqislamite government almost always abandons them to their fate rather than risk widening the conflict to a new foe, and corsairs are explicitly advised to clear raids on third parties with the Diwan al Jund in advance or to have powerful patrons if they're going to try that poo poo. Looting and violence against a crew that surrenders without resistance is explicitly forbidden, and destruction of a vessel is allowed only if boarding is impossible. (In practice, this rarely matters - you don't blow up an enemy ship because you make no money doing so.) Corsairs that get too violent often end up targets of naval actions, sometimes by the Haqq themselves.

The letter of marque's provisions on looting specify that targets not in the letter may not have their poo poo stolen, and that it is forbidden to take the personal property of captured crew or passengers as booty - with the exception of weaponry, which may always be seized. When possible, a corsair is supposed to let any uninvolved parties go free, and if there is no reasonable transport available, they are to be kept safe until they can be dropped off at a safe port. Captured booty and vessels must be returned to the port of registry for the letter, with all documents and records on the raid immediately delivered to the local Diwan al Jund office, including a complete after-action report from the captain. Prisoners are to be handed over to the authorities for interrogation and then either release or transfer into military custody. If the raid is deemed legitimate, the booty is then auctioned off within a few weeks. On Bourak, these auctions are orderly and even quite boring. On caravanserais, they're often far more chaotic and bring in far shadier types to bid, with security often required to break up bidding disputes. Corsair auctions of this type are often used as a general neutral ground and dealmaking festival for all kinds of criminals.

The public generally tends to like corsairs - they're dashing, romantic figures in most Maya media, bound by an honor code even if they exist outside the law. Part of this is a propaganda effort, and corsairs are fertile ground for dramas, video games and puff pieces, such as those of the Maya channel Sabot!, which runs an action-drama docuseries called Buccaneers in which its reporters embed with corsair crews, or the drama Red Skies, a barely-veiled fictionalization that centers around the life and times of "Red" Roksaneh Belisehri and is massively popular all over the Sphere. Those who have been captured by corsairs tend to be less generous in their views, and most merchants and naval types hate them outside of Haqqislam...though even they sometimes partake in corsair-based Maya entertainment, because good fiction is good fiction.

The Haqq would love it if all corsair work kept to their rules and regulations and went as planned. In reality, though, space piracy is a messy business, especially during boarding actions. While the rules may be clear and concise, actually applying them is far more complicated. Corsairs have to figure out if a target really is legitimate, what the political ramifications of an attack might be, whether their crew can be relied on and more. Situations can change fast, and it's important for a corsair to not just be a good pirate but also an adaptable one. Generally speaking, a crew is split into two main divisions - the actual ship's crew of the corsair vessel and the boarding party. The crew is usually quite skilled and highly disciplined, within the bounds of 'having been willing to become a legal pirate.' The boarding parties are often rather wilder sorts and more difficult for the captain to control. What kind of people they hire depends on their tactics - some favor hackers, ex-spies and precision pilots, going for information gathering and precise, clean hits. Others use drilled boarders to take control of a situation as fast as possible. No matter what, a crew usually ends up having a number of specialized skills and a few notable gaps that have to be covered.

Hiring mercenaries can be a good way to fill those gaps...but a mercenary has to be paid on success or failure, so that's a consideration. Most mercenaries like hiring on with privateers for this reason - it's good field work and good pay even if you don't end up having to do much. Most often these are Nomad mercs, usually somewhat reckless and good fits for a pirate crew. Some stay so long they practically become part of the crew proper, but this tends to piss off ALEPH, because when that happens, the crew usually becomes more willing to target ALEPH's ships as involved third parties.

Next time: How to host a raid

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

PurpleXVI posted:

Nightlife: No matter where you go or what you do, you end up succeeding anyway.
Hey, it's not like you have infinite lives in this game. You only have, like 25. And you can only get up to like 45 or 50!

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Interstitial continues to show it's the weakest when it's trying to shove KH plot beats into playbooks (Memory is absolutely dire, it feels like a playbook for someone who actually didn't want to play but looking for a good excuse to bow out because 'they did give it the good ol' college try').

Also is it me, or is the art much better in this Nightlife Adventure path than before.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


Nightlife keeps being well ahead of its time.


spider bethlehem
Oct 5, 2007
Makin with the stabbins

Halloween Jack posted:


what a consistent delight this is. You've got me thinking about hacking together something in Friday Night Firefight + a FITD skill system to run a Nightlife adventure where the PCs have to fight to keep Crystal Deth out of the Tenderloin in 90s SF

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