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Oct 9, 2012

I like the grigsbane, which keeps magical pests away "unreliably." So, 50 orbs for something that may or may not actually work? (Or, more likely, works until the DM decides that it doesn't.)

Night10194 posted:

By god it's Slamwise Gamgee's music!

He's got him in the Shire Sharpshooter! It's over!


Oct 9, 2012

Catching up from a couple pages back, but what amuses me about the Mustard Mafia excerpt is how much contempt Smolensk lavishes on the idea that a PC might think to pick a pocket or cut a purse in the crowd. As if pickpockets haven't been making a living since, probably, the invention of the pocket.

I ran a short XXVc campaign back in the day and still have a bunch of stuff for it. It's a great setting but the rules let it down. I was working for a while on a conversion to the old Star Wars d6 system, but I never tested it out.

(Anecdote time! I never actually paid for any of the XXVc material. At that time I was working for Random House, which had a distribution deal with TSR. One of the advantages of working at a publisher is that you can get your hands on lots of free books -- everyone gets courtesy copies, and most people don't actually want most of what they get, so every floor had a book dump box where you could toss your surplus books and just take whatever you wanted. And since there apparently weren't many gamers at the company, a lot of TSR product ended up in the dump boxes. I used to sometimes come in on weekends, go floor to floor collecting TSR stuff, and then keep what I wanted and sell the rest to a game dealer for half price. And that is my corporate corruption story.)

Oct 9, 2012

Young Freud posted:

Holy poo poo, did you get a copy of some of the other XXVc books? Like "No Humans Allowed"?

I used to have that book and it was great but I sold it during some desperate times and all the copies are super-expensive now.

/rummages around basement

Nope, no No Humans Allowed. I could have sworn I had a copy, but I guess not.

I do have Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (the adventure), Earth in the 25th Century, The Belt, Mars it25C, NEO it25C, Hardware, Luna, Phases of the Moon, and Inner Worlds. So a bunch of world splatbooks, a couple of adventures, and a gear supplement.

Oct 9, 2012

Maxwell Lord posted:

Overall the variety is interesting- most players will want to be one of the “Human” types because they have the fewest drawbacks, and I do think they maybe go a little overboard with this- even if you want the authenticity of species bred to live in very hazardous environments, breathing apparatus could be made more reliable and not something you have to keep track of. The section closes out with a few notes on deciding age, personality, appropriate names etc. For gender they have the standard “we use ‘he’ for simplicity’s sake” thing but there’s no mechanical differences and they even mention that cross-gender play is okay, which is about as progressive as TSR were willing to get in 1990.

In my experience, Spacers were really popular. Their limitations (needing a vocoder to speak and needing light to survive) are minor, and never needing a spacesuit is quite handy.

Oct 9, 2012

Snorb posted:

Also, my exploit strategy was a little different. I just went to the spaceport on Aurora, started bar fights with RAM soldiers, killed them and looted them of their gear, sold it to the equipment store, and repeated until I had six suits of Battle Armor w/ Fields. (Then I went to New Elysium to repeat the process and get Venusian Laser Pistols, and to Tycho to do this until I could afford the best melee weapon in the game.)

The only exploit I ever heard of was for the part of the game where Buck teams up with you -- I understand a lot of people deliberately let him die, or killed him themselves, because he dropped some of the best loot in the game.

Oct 9, 2012

Besides the problems already noted in the skill system, XXVc suffers from what Call of Cthulhu players would recognize as the "doctor problem." If you want to be an effective Medic or Engineer, you'll find yourself having to spread your points out across a lot of skills, while your Soldier or Scout buddy can pick a couple skills to be good at, dump all her points in them, and work just fine.

Oct 9, 2012

Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

You can tell it's a real game because it's got DND stats except different names and 5 instead of 6. Some thought and effort was actually put into this. What the gently caress.

"Ice Jester"? Oh, poo poo, the big bad guy is an evil clown. Well played, Wendy's.

Oct 9, 2012

Maxwell Lord posted:

You can also try to just lay someone out by bludgeoning them. You take a -4 penalty to your attack, and the target has to make a System Shock roll at half their normal chance to succeed, or get knocked out. (You also still deal damage, and it's not subdual.) It’s not clear how long anyone stays knocked out in this way.

IIRC, the bludgeoning rules are the only thing that's not ported more or less wholesale from AD&D 2E. I think Pondsmith just wanted to have rules for those times when the hero clonks a guard over the head to sneak into the villain's base.

Oct 9, 2012

I'm a bit cynical about it myself, because IME it's tough to get players to do stuff away from the table (my face-to-face group constantly wastes play time doing stuff like splitting up treasure that could be trivially handled online).

Oct 9, 2012

Maxwell Lord posted:

And that’s it. So yeah, a few flaws, I’m convinced ship maneuvers were supposed to do something but it was getting to be too much rules (the other problem with ship combat in RPGs, how much additional complexity do you want to introduce?), but I do like the bones of this. Does better than most at giving people poo poo to do, attacking systems matters, and because close range is so advantageous you get a kind of age of sail feel with ships pulling up alongside.

Yeah, I always thought it was one of the most glaring flaws in this game: it's named for a guy who's supposedly the best pilot in the cosmos, it has an entire class dedicated to flying things, and there's no actual guidelines for using piloting skills in a fight other than "uh, roll dice and make something up."

Oct 9, 2012

PurpleXVI posted:

While I know you're meant to love and hype your own product, this seems a bit full of itself. What setting isn't full of Good vs Evil fights, especially back in those days where (intentional) moral grays in RPG's were a somewhat rarer meal? Oh poo poo, the exciting and rare chance to be a good guy! Holy gently caress! Not that I don't like being a clear-cut good guy on the side of good sometimes, but this just feels up its own rear end.

I'm gonna try to be fair here: Dragonlance was different from TSR's earlier adventure products not just because you were a "good guy," but because it was supposed to give you a chance to be a Big drat fantasy novel Hero. Even previous module chains like the GDQ series or the Slave Lords series or the Desert of Desolation series didn't really attempt to have much of a plot -- they were loosely linked adventure sites where you could go, bash monsters, and loot stuff, and maybe you stopped the Big Bad or maybe you just ran away or got killed. But in Dragonlance, the plot was front and center, and while there were still traditional-style dungeons, there was an overarching epic quest you were supposed to be pursuing. And that was very appealing to those of us who wanted to play fantasy heroes, not shitfarmers scrabbling for coppers.

This, by the way, is why a lot of grogs roll their eyes back in their skulls and start frothing when you mention Dragonlance around them. For them, it was the point when things all started to go wrong and D&D fell from the One True Gygaxian Way.

(and yes, I ran part of the original campaign back in the day for my group, so I'm well familiar with its issues.)

Oct 9, 2012

EimiYoshikawa posted:

Was he in the movies, the kind of prominent guy in Lothlorien who also showed up to lead the Elvish contingent at the siege? That guy always seemed, like, almost as important 'round those parts as Galadriel, but I honestly can't remember if he even had a name.

No, that was Haldir. He was a pretty minor character in the books, basically an Elven border guard. He met the Fellowship at the border of Lorien after they escaped Moria, guided them through Lorien to meet Galadriel and Celeborn, and then took them to the Great River afterward and saw them off.

Jackson expanded his role in the movies by having him bring a troop of Elvish archers to Helm's Deep, which doesn't happen in the books. Were Tolkien purists annoyed by this? You bet they were!

Oct 9, 2012

From what I understand, the whole business of Raistlin constantly talking in whispers came from his original player, and Weis and Hickman just ran with it in the books, regardless of what his game stats might have been.

Oct 9, 2012

Mors Rattus posted:

Yeah, as a CYOA it’s fairly innovative, I was just reading it as some heartbreaker at first.

I should note that there's a free Java-based version of the Fabled Lands gamebooks available here. I think there's also an Android version floating around out there.

The biggest catch about Fabled Lands is that it's only half finished. The creators intended to publish 12 books, but only six were printed during the dying years of the gamebook fad. The seventh got published through Kickstarter last year. This, of course, means that you will occasionally find yourself on quests that try to send you to books that don't actually exist.

Oct 9, 2012

ChaseSP posted:

I think I prefer that to be honest.

From what I remember in the 1E days, there was a general feeling that dragons were too weak for what were supposed to be some of the most fearsome enemies in the game. Even the mightiest huge ancient red dragon had "only" 88 hp, and dragons were subject to special subdual rules that other monsters weren't. This led to many variant rules intended to power up dragons, particularly adding more attacks (tail lash, wing slap, etc.), and eventually to 3E's supergenius caster-dragons.

Oct 9, 2012

There's actually one option in the final scene the writers never thought of, and I know it because it's the one my players chose when we ran these adventures.

Namely, when Verminaard is demanding that you hand over the Hammer, say "You want it? Go chase it!" and throw it in the convenient bottomless pit.

Oct 9, 2012

The second adventure in Age of Ashes (the current Pathfinder adventure path, and the first one for PF2E) has the players meeting and helping out a clan of dark-skinned elves who live in whatever the not-Africa part of Golarion is called. It's decently handled, from my reading.

Oct 9, 2012

PurpleXVI posted:

They are, at least, decently statted and kitted out, but the party's now lacking a primary arcane caster of any kind(and how the hell is Gilthanas higher level as a Magic-User than as a Fighter? Did 1E have dual-classing rules and are they somehow applied to this poor sucker so he's only gaining levels as a Magic-User? Jesus.)

Welcome to the wonderful world of 1E racial level limits! If you're an elf with a Strength of less than 17, you can never become more than a 5th level fighter. But if you're a multiclassed fighter like Gilthanas is, you still divide your XP between your fighter and magic-user classes, even though that means you're flushing away half your XP. That's what you get for wanting to be good at more than one thing!

Yes, this means Laurana will never level up again. I recall later rules were added (in Unearthed Arcana or 2E, I forget which) that allowed a single-classed demihuman to rise 2 levels higher than the limit, so Laurana could potentially rise to the dizzying heights of level 7.

Selachian fucked around with this message at 02:37 on Dec 13, 2019

Oct 9, 2012

PurpleXVI posted:

Yeah, part of the problem with making your own characters for the 1E version of the DL modules, though, is that at least part of the canon party(like Goldmoon) must still be around as NPC's, quickly leading to party bloat, and that so much stuff assumes the presence of the canonical characters. Deviating too much, like having any Evil characters or even more Neutrals than Tasslehoff, is also heavily penalized by some things like the Last Guardian, and even some traps and items, that will just completely gently caress over non-good or in some cases even non-Lawful Good characters.

It can be done, obviously, but it requires extra work from the GM, and frankly I don't believe the module chain is beatable without heavy reworking of all encounters and character power levels or the main characters' Obscure Death rule.

I have to say that's simply not true. When I ran the modules for my group, I didn't use any of the canon Heroes of the Lance (Goldmoon was replaced by a PC cleric, for instance). I did use some of the plot-important NPCs, such as Elistan and Theros, but they mostly went off and did their own things instead of following the party around. I did have to adjust some encounters since my group was smaller than the canon Heroes, but it wasn't anything like a massive rewrite job. Honestly, AD&D is not really that mechanically rigorous.

Oct 9, 2012

PurpleXVI posted:

Well, I mean as a GM you can technically do anything that you want and ignore anything, but the modules mandate the presence of some of the canon party PC's as NPC's, so if we're staying reasonably faithful to them, you can't do that. :v:

It's been a long time since I read them, but as I recall there's like one bit in the foreword that says "You MUST have the Heroes of the Lance along," but I don't remember anything in the modules that actually requires the presence of the Heroes. You do need a cleric for the whole business with the Disks of Mishakal, but there's nothing that says it has to be Goldmoon -- and frankly, after Pax Tharkas, Goldmoon becomes irrelevant anyway because Elistan takes over as Chief Prophet and Evangelist. (Presumably following the rule that every church must be headed by a beardy old guy.) A lot of the character bits -- such as the tension between Tanis, Gilthanas, and Laurana, or Sturm and the Solamnic Mustache Boys -- are barely mentioned in the modules; they're left for the players to roleplay out.

Oct 9, 2012

Night10194 posted:

I think the novelty of 'actually you are the main characters' probably did a lot of heavy lifting for it.

It did. I've mentioned it before, but if you compare Dragonlance to the other modules being published in the 80s, it absolutely was something new, exciting, and different. Yeah, it looks lovely now when we're looking back at it with 30 years of improved adventure paths and RPGs in general to draw on, but hey, drivers back in the 1920s thought their Ford Model Ts were awesome too.

As for rewriting, well, modules were written by Professional Writers who obviously knew the game better than you, teenage DM, or they wouldn't be Professional Writers.

Oct 9, 2012

Nessus posted:

It's a real town! It's honestly pretty piquant since I gather Gary was ahead of the term on becoming a post-industrial shithole.

It's also probably best known as the hometown of Michael Jackson and his siblings. Draw your own conclusions.

Oct 9, 2012

SirPhoebos posted:

I got to admit I'm a sucker for a nice looking grid map, and that tower there is refined grog cocaine.

It *looks* awesome, but I can assure you that it's a colossal pain in the rear end to actually draw out during play.

Oct 9, 2012

Everyone posted:

Even in AD&D 2 I could describe some action, the GM would consider it, assign some to hit penalty to it along with the effect it was successful and off we'd go. In the "improved" version, I'd need to take Feats for everything outside of the most basic actions and even Feats for some of those. So low-level combat tended to be:

"I hit him. I hit him a se-cond time. For a third time, I hit him."

Swashbuckler Player: I tumble through the window, jump for the chandelier, use it to swing toward the guard, let go and go feet first into him to knock him down as I pull my rapier, put it to his throat and demand "Tell me where you're keeping her Highness, you wretched dog!"

The thing is, in AD&D days, the DM's response to that would probably be something like, "Okay, roll a Dexterity check, then a Strength check, then another Dexterity check, then roll to hit at, oh, -4, and if you fail any of these rolls you fall on your face." Or an argument over whether or not you could actually do all that in a single round.

If you think I'm exaggerating, there was an article in the Dragon about using attribute rolls to help decide actions, and it suggested breaking down an action into parts and calling for a roll for each one. One of the examples it gave was a fighter trying to climb a rope up a cliff before monsters could get him. It suggested a Dexterity roll to grab the rope and then a Strength roll to climb it. Quite a lot of DMs thought that way, which is why so much problem-solving in the old days revolved around using spells and magic items. Their effects were right there in the book in black and white, so you didn't have to throw yourself on the mercy of the DM's judgment.

Oct 9, 2012

StratGoatCom posted:

The Less Wrong Mock Thread: The Big Yudkowsky

Literally one of the things that got me to spend the :10bux:.

There is good reason why I use Yud as the type specimen for the 'The various weird cult leaders in the futurist community who run outfits like MIRI, Lesswrong or the Lifeboat Foundation'.

There's also a Let's Read thread for Yudkowsky's Harry Potter fanfic in TBB:

Oct 9, 2012

EimiYoshikawa posted:

I maintain that it's possible for someone to play a non-terrible Kender in a group with other people who won't hate your guts for your RP.

But it would just be so loving exhausting, compared to so many other, less problematic, character options, that why would someone capable of doing that ever want to, other than as some sort of masochistic point-proving exercise?

We actually had a kender in the group when I ran Dragonlance. But the player ignored the whole "stealing from everyone" aspect and played him as a halfling who just happened to have a lot of random tchotchkes in his pockets.("Wait, why do you have a ball of string?" "Oh ... *shrug* ... must have found it somewhere, I guess.")

Oct 9, 2012

Libertad! posted:

The 3rd Edition sourcebook Races of Ansalon made not one, but three tables for determining what random items a kender has in their pouches. The overall usefulness and value of said items depends on the kender's level (and if they have levels in the Handler Prestige Class and/or the Lucky feat):

The 1E Dragonlance Adventures book, IIRC, also had a Random Kender Pocket Item Generator chart (and also had a chance of randomly discovering a magic item).

Oct 9, 2012

megane posted:

I'm sure Mayor Nugget will do a great job, despite having nearly-illegible handwriting and a history of calling for war while refusing to join the military.

"The mayor's a chicken! A chicken, I tell you!"

Oct 9, 2012

Spectaculars is a supers RPG by Rodney Thompson's Scratchpad Publishing. It's a lightweight system that emphasizes casual drop-in play, with fast character creation, minimal GM prep, and short scenarios that can be resolved in a single session. In this, it's very similar to Scratchpad's Dusk City Outlaws.

Spectaculars comes in a big heavy (and, at $75, expensive) box containing:

- six character trays, which are quite nicely designed and hold all the sheets and cards you'll need for your character
- one sheet of punch-out markers
- a whole lot of cards
- a bag of dice
- five pads: one pad of character record sheets and four series pads (Explorers of the Unknown, Eldritch Mysteries, Streetlight Knights, and Clash Among the Stars)
- two 60-page booklets, the Rule Book and the Setting Book

To start playing, you pick one of the series pads. Explorers of the Unknown is traditional four-color superheroing in the Avengers/JLA/Fantastic Four style, with an emphasis on high-tech villains, Eldritch Mysteries is magic-powered supers, Streetlight Knights is street-level crimebusting, and Clash Among the Stars is for space-based heroes like the Guardians or the Green Lanterns.

The first couple pages of the series pad are team options. Players choose one and fill out checklists -- this game has a lot of checklists -- to determine the team's backstory, how they got together, what sort of resources they have, and such. For example, the options for a Streetlight Knights series are Wards & Mentors (everyone on the team was recruited and/or trained by the same person, such as the Bat Family, or Team Arrow) or Neighborhood Watch (the team has come together to clean up their part of the city, like the Netflix Defenders or the Birds of Prey). These sheets are used to track who's a member of the team, as well as the team's reputation in three areas (Public, Media, and Government).

Next on the series pad are six Archetype sheets. Each Archetype sheet offers checklists for the character's origin, vulnerability, Resistance (see below), and how they get around the city -- i.e., whether they use their powers, have a swing line, have a vehicle like the Blackbird or a Quinjet, or whatever. The Getting Around entry is meant mostly to establish how your character arrives on the scene -- it's not meant to substitute for actually having powers like Flight or Teleportation, and it's up to the narrator to enforce the difference. Each Archetype also has a special ability to set it apart from the others., and a list of potential personality traits to choose from.

Most Archetypes have 100 Resistance (hit points), but it's up to the player to define what form their Resistance takes: it could be a force field, armor, ability to dodge, or sheer willpower and toughness. The fact that a spandex-clad Vigilante and a steel-encased Power Armor Pilot have the same Resistance may give simulationists hives, although powers like Armor or Super Toughness can also play a role in how long you can stay in a fight. At 0 Resistance, you're out of the fight, but all Resistance is recovered at the end of each fight.

Here's an example of an Archetype sheet, the Avatar from Eldritch Mysteries (front and back). Note that every hero and villain Archetype has several examples of "real" comics characters that fit that Archetype, which can be handy when figuring out what you want to play.

Oct 9, 2012

Once you've picked your Archetype, it's powers time. The game includes a 25-card deck of Common Powers, which can be used in any series, and a 15-card deck of powers for each series pad. The narrator (GM) shuffles the common powers and series powers together, and each player draws five powers. You can keep up to three for your character; if you keep fewer than three, you get extra Hero Points per fight (about which later).

There's also a deck of Basic Power cards. You can, if you wish, replace any of your power cards with basic powers: Flight, Super Strength, Super Toughness, Energy Blast, or Signature Weapon. Basic Powers are more one-dimensional than powers from the deck, and you get an extra Hero Point for taking one.

You then arrange your power cards in order of priority: the first power is your Superpower (80% chance of success); other powers are your Lesser Power (70%), and Minor Power (60%).

After powers comes Identities: who you really are, and what your skills are. Again, there are 25 Common Identities and 15 series-related identities for each series; the narrator shuffles the common and series identities together and each player draws three, keeping one. Each identity card has a list of skills, and some questions to use as prompts when you're writing your backstory.

To finish character creation, you select (not randomly draw) a Team Role card, which defines the main way you contribute to the team and gives you a special ability that you can invoke by spending Hero Points. If you're a Tank, you're good at taking hits; Artillery and Strikers can pile on damage; Leaders and Boosters can enhance other characters' abilities; and so on.

You get at least one Hero Point per conflict, and more if you've taken fewer than three powers or if you've switched any of your powers for a Basic Power.

Here's an example of character creation. Let's say we're playing Explorers of the Unknown and I've chosen the Construct archetype (i.e., an android, cyborg, robot, or what have you).

My power draws are:

Weather Control seems like a weird choice for a construct, but I could pair it with Super Senses: I have the power to sense and alter the local microclimate to produce freak weather at my command. Just call me … Chaos Butterfly! I'm a weather-monitoring AI that has achieved sentience and learned how to not only measure, but manipulate, the weather.

I could also take Binding if I wanted to be able to trap enemies with powerful winds or blocks of ice, or toss it in favor of Flight from the basic power deck, since it seems natural for a weather controller to be able to fly. Or I could just stick with two powers and take an extra two Hero Points.

My identity draws are:

Anyone who calls themselves Chaos Butterfly is probably flamboyant enough to be an Actor, so I'll go with that. Clearly Chaos Butterfly has been drawn to the stage as a way of experiencing as many human emotional states as possible...

On the other hand, I notice that Telcom Transmission is one of the options for Getting Around on the Construct character sheet. Hmm … Teleportation, Sound Manipulation, and maybe Super Senses – I could be the Phone Phreak instead! Or I could go with Binding, Super Senses, and Super Strength from the Basic Powers deck and be a knockoff Spider-Man.

Okay, you got any better ideas? No, seriously, if you can come up with something better based on those draws, I'd love to hear it.

Backstory can wait – Spectaculars wants to keep character creation simple so you can jump into play quickly, so it recommends not getting too tied up into origins and such until after you play the first issue.

You may notice that the power cards only give the broadest description of each power, without any definite benchmarks. Spectaculars doesn't really care about setting numerical limits on powers; it's up to the player and narrator to define what a character can do with their powers. Signature Weapon, for instance, can cover anything from batarangs or Daredevil's billy club to Mjolnir. The series you're playing can also help define your powers as well. In a Streetlight Knights series, someone with Super Strength might be closer to Jessica Jones or Thunder from Black Lightning, but in an Explorers of the Unknown game, Super Strength might be on the level of Wonder Woman or the Thing. This level of abstraction isn't for every group, but if you're used to lighter supers games like Masks, you can probably make it work.

While this method of character creation is fast and surprisingly fun, sometimes you do get a draw that just doesn't make sense for your Archetype, or doesn't inspire any ideas. And there are some corner cases – what if your Power Armor Pilot doesn't draw the Armor power, or your Speedster doesn't get Super Speed? It does require some flexibility on the narrator's part, and it's an optional rule to do away with random draws and just allow the player to pick the powers they want. I enjoy the random aspect – I find it can prompt interesting ideas that I normally wouldn't have thought of – but random, or even semi-random, supers generation isn't for everyone.

Also, Spectaculars doesn't expect you to play the same character for an entire campaign. If your character turns out to be a dud, you can always create a new one next session, or bring back an old one that no one's using.

Oct 9, 2012

With character creation out of the way, we turn to the Setting Book. This book includes a list of all the various common setting tropes and NPC types for a supers campaign, with more checklists for each: The Super Prison, The Megacorporation, The Dystopian Future, etc. Here's a typical Setting Book page:

These can be filled out by the narrator alone, or collaboratively by the narrator and players. You don't need to fill out the entire book at once, however. At the start of the series, you fill in the first couple of pages, called The Basics, which include details about the city the campaign takes place in and important landmarks, how common supers are and how they're viewed, and how lethal super-powered combat is.

Then, as the game goes on, if you need details on The Super-Science Lab, The Hero Academy, or The Team Mentor, you can turn to the appropriate page and fill it out; there are also spaces on each page to record events involving these places or people. This takes up about two-thirds of the book; the rest of the book is record sheets for noting details on minor NPCs and important events from each issue you play. So as you play more and more games, the Setting Book will gradually fill up with details about your particular Spectaculars universe.

Each series pad includes about a dozen issues (scenarios) to play, as well as villain Archetype sheets to help the narrator come up with villains for each issue. There are frequently multiple villain options for a particular issue, which helps the narrator to customize each game even further. Despite my earlier grousing about the price, you do get quite a lot of content for your 75 beans. There are also some further hero archetypes buried deeper in each series pad; these Archetypes are intended to be unlocked by playing certain issues. For example, playing the Alien Invasion issue in Explorers of the Unknown makes the Alien Refugee hero Archetype available to players. However, there's nothing stopping you from declaring that all Archetypes are available at the start, or bringing Archetypes from one series into another.

As for the gameplay itself, Spectaculars uses a percentile system: you say what you want to do and roll the appropriate power or skill rating. Depending on what you're trying to do, the narrator can also add up to four advantage dice (d8s) or challenge dice (d10s) to the roll. Advantage dice are given out for using the environment in a clever way, doing something particularly entertaining, or exploiting something you've learned about the opposition; challenge dice are used when circumstances are stacked against you. You can get both kinds of die on a single roll, and the rules urge the narrator to be generous in handing them out.

The game includes custom advantage and challenge dice; the advantage dice are marked with symbols on half their faces, the challenge dice on six faces. Each die that comes up showing a symbol gives you a boon (advantage) or drawback (challenge). You can, of course, use regular d8s and d10s, so you're not required to also buy special dice if you get the digital edition.

Details of boons or drawbacks are up to the narrator to adjudicate, although there are lists of possible effects for inspiration. The more you get, the more beneficial or severe the result should be. Boons can include knocking an enemy back, doing extra damage, giving another player advantage dice on their turn, learning a secret about the situation, achieving a secondary goal in addition to what you were trying to do, healing some Resistance, and so on. Drawbacks can mean putting yourself in a bad position, taking damage, or having to draw from the Deck of Complications.

You can also spend Hero Points during play to increase your chance of success (1 hero point = +10% chance, but also one extra challenge die) or do a team maneuver with another hero to give them two advantage dice on their roll. One thing I like is that team maneuvers don't require an action – you just explain how you're helping and pay the Hero Point. This helps encourage creative thinking and teamwork.

While this system is quick and easy to learn, it does put a lot of weight on the narrator to keep the advantage and challenge dice flowing and come up with interesting boons and drawbacks. At times it can feel like early stunt-based systems like Feng Shui or Exalted, where you end up adding a bunch of unnecessary flips to a straightforward attack to get those extra bonuses.

Oct 9, 2012

Since this is a supers game, combat is a frequent occurrence. Initiative is handled via cards – each hero gets one card, as do most minor villains and minion squads. Major villains can get two or more cards. The narrator gathers the cards for everyone involved in the scene, shuffles them, and deals them out in a line, and then initiative goes along the line left to right. Some team roles and powers allow the players to readjust the initiative track once it's been dealt. At the end of each round, the narrator shuffles and re-deals the initiative cards.

When your card comes up, you can move and take an action. Spectaculars uses 13th Age style ranges: you can either be Up Close to something (close enough for melee attacks), Near (close enough to hit with a ranged attack, or a big weapon like a telephone pole), or Far (ranged attacks only). Moving from one range to another requires a single move action.

Actions can include taking a second move, attacking with a power, or using a skill. You can attack with any power unless it specifically says you can't use it offensively, as long as you can justify it. Want to attack with Flight? Describe how you're dive-bombing the enemy. To attack, you roll against a power's rating, and if you successfully hit, the damage you do is equal to your roll, possibly modified by boons or drawbacks. Yes, that means your superpower (80% chance, remember) can do anywhere from 1 to 80 damage.

Opposition comes in the form of major villains, minor villains, and minions. Major villains have multiple initiative cards, usually one per player, and 100 Resistance per initiative card, and may have several powers as well. Minor villains usually have just one power and/or attack and one initiative card, and 50 or 100 Resistance.

Minions are a special case: they come in squads rated for size from 1 (a few henchmen) to 10 (hordes of flunkies), and each successful hit on a minion squad reduces its size by 1 regardless of how much damage you roll, although boons, team roles, and Archetype abilities can increase the number of minions taken out at a time. A minion squad's maximum damage is equal to its size x 10, no matter how high it rolls to attack.

If you look back at the power cards from the character creation post, you'll see that most powers have special benefits and/or power stunts that can be invoked by placing Time Tokens on the power card. These can include hitting multiple targets, doing extra damage, getting an extra action, and so on. However, once a power has Time Tokens on it, it cannot be used again until all the tokens have been removed. At the start of your turn, you take one token off each of your powers that has one. Only heroes can use these benefits – villains don't get them even if they have a power drawn from the deck. This helps keep things simple for the narrator when running multiple villains.

This is a fast, almost too fast, and swingy system; it's entirely possible for a lucky roll to knock a minor villain out in one hit. If you let the players just stand toe to toe and slug it out with the villains, fights can be quick and boring. But including Complications and Objectives helps make things more interesting.

Besides the villains, most Spectaculars fights include a variety of Complications and Objectives that are meant to distract the heroes from just punching villain face. Maybe there's a helicopter crashing, maybe the villain has seeded the area with bombs that need to be found and removed, maybe the villain's henchmen are looting the bank vault while you fight. Each Complication or Objective has a row of boxes, usually one to three. If a player acts to take care of the Complication or Objective and makes a successful power or skill roll, one box is checked off. Once all the boxes have been checked off, the situation has been successfully resolved.

Each successful roll to progress a Complication or Objective earns the player one Hero Point, and completely resolving one can provide other benefits, such as a boost to the team's Reputation. However, some Complications, such as the crashing helicopter, are Critical: they get an initiative card, and each time their card comes up, the narrator crosses off one of their boxes. If more than half of the boxes get crossed off, the Complication ends in failure: the helicopter crashes, and videos of you muffing the catch are now all over YouTube. There are also opposed Objectives, such as the example of villains looting a bank vault – for these, both sides have a success track, and the first side to fill all the boxes in theirs succeeds.

The game also includes a Deck of Complications that the narrator can draw from if a player rolls too many drawbacks, or if a fight just needs something to pep it up.

In between fights are what are called Interlude scenes. These are mostly handled by freeform roleplaying with the occasional power or skill roll as necessary. Each player states their goal during the Interlude: e.g. track down the villain's lair, investigate the strange doohickey they found, or work on their Aspiration or Turmoil (about which more later), and based on this the narrator creates a situation to play through.

Most issues will consist of a fight or other dramatic scene, an Interlude, and then a bigger fight at the end, so it's easy to play an issue in a single session. The pattern of fight-freeform Interlude-fight shows a clear influence from Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, but that's hardly a bad thing.

Oct 9, 2012

After the first issue is completed, the players are encouraged to write down an Aspiration and a Turmoil for their hero. An Aspiration is an overarching goal for the character: “I want to find out what happened to my parents,” “I will never rest until I defeat <villain name>,” “I need to perfect the design for my Chronosynclastic Infundibulum.” Turmoils, meanwhile, are sources of drama: “I have to take care of my sick old aunt,” “My snoopy coworker keeps trying to figure out my secret identity,” “Can a being of living electricity find love in the big city?”

Creating an Aspiration and Turmoil for your character earns the team one Continuity Token. Continuity Tokens are kept in a pool for the team. They can be spent to either create a back issue (declare that your character has faced this particular enemy or situation before and you know something about how to handle them) or a retcon (create a new fact about a character, setting detail, or situation).

Character advancement is handled simply. Each character record sheet has a track:

The character marks off a box on the track each time they either complete an issue or successfully play through an Interlude scene based on their Aspiration or Turmoil. At four places on the track, the character earns a Story Reward, which can be used for a variety of benefits, including changing out one of their powers, adding a new skill, changing Archetypes, or gaining an in-setting benefit such as acquiring a sidekick, getting a new vehicle, becoming rich, or making an arch-enemy. There are even fourth-wall-breaking rewards, such as getting your own toy line, animated series, or solo comic. Story Rewards tend to broaden rather than heighten the character's capabilities; the basic statistics stay the same, and you can never acquire more than three powers. That means even an experienced hero isn't that much more powerful than a raw newbie, so you can bring a new character into an ongoing series without having to worry about keeping up.

At the end of the advancement track and the fifth Story Reward, the character retires. It's up to the player what form this takes: you can just hang up the cape, step back to become a team mentor or leader of an agency, be lost in an alternate dimension, die heroically, or even switch sides to become a villain. Retiring a character gives you an origin bonus on your next character, such as getting extra Hero Points or being able to choose instead of randomly draw some of your powers.

And that's the rules. The remainder of the Rules Book is a set of random origin generation tables for heroes, and advice for the narrator on how to run the game, as well as how to create your own issues and series, and some optional rules such as non-random character generation.

I'm not completely sold on Spectaculars -- I like a little bit more crunch in my supers systems, although not to the point of Hero or M&M. But it's an excellent resource to have if you ever need a quick, easy change of pace for your game group, or something to run a fill-in session with very little prep and rules-learning effort. And some of the game tools, such as the Setting Book or the Deck of Complications, can be useful even for supers games using other systems.

Selachian fucked around with this message at 04:41 on Apr 18, 2020

Oct 9, 2012

Falconier111 posted:

I think a part of it was a bunch of extremely awkward people discovering something they felt endorsed people accepting them as they were, barging into various spaces where they thought they could be their regular creepy selves, getting called out for being creepy, and withdrawing as a response, no self-awareness needed. Granted, pop culture was not kind to them, but instead of trying to fix their poo poo a lot of them decided the "tolerant" people they got burned by were hypocrites and closing their communities off. Also, bronies first emerged on 4chan right about when Gamergate was transitioning into the MRA movement, which meant they were perfectly positioned to get involved in one of the movements that would later coalesce into the alt right. And a bunch of people who thought tolerant people were hypocrites, with personal experience for them to appeal to? Perfect recruiting ground. I'm willing to bet that's part of why this creature carries that specific ideological bent; a lot of alt righties worship the free market but think they need a strong and militant government to protect it from any and all outside influences – and communism? The perfect enemy to hold that system together. Mix all that with right wing nostalgia, blend with RPG mechanics, and serve.

, the game.

Oct 9, 2012

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game is a Gumshoe-based horror game by Robin D. Laws, inspired by Robert W. Chambers's stories of the King in Yellow.

For your $100 US, you get a slipbox (which folds apart into two GM information screens) containing four 9" x 6" books, one for each of the game's four campaigns:

- Paris casts the PCs as art students in fin-de-siecle Paris who are drawn into occult mysteries.
- In The Wars, the PCs are soldiers fighting in a seemingly endless European war, encountering strange weapons and stranger monsters on the battlefield.
- Aftermath is set in an America that has just thrown off the yoke of an oppressive emperor. The PCs, as former insurgents, must help decide how to rebuild the newly liberated country.
- This Is Normal Now is set today, in our own world, where there is absolutely nothing weird going on.

The books are sturdy and solidly bound, with built-in bookmark cords, and should stand up to plenty of handling.

YKRPG uses a variation of Gumshoe that Laws calls QuickShock Gumshoe. It mostly differs from standard Gumshoe in the areas of combat and damage, as well as being entirely player-facing – the GM never rolls dice. Most of the game rules are in Paris, the first book.

To create a character, each player chooses one of seven investigative kits, each of which provides four investigative abilities. In Paris, the PCs are assumed to be American art students living in 1895 Paris, although it's possible they could be from other countries as well, or even be non-Parisian French. The kits available for Paris are:

Architecture Student
Belle-Lettrist (i.e., a journalist who specializes in opinion and essay writing, instead of straight reportage)
Landscape Painter
Muse (someone who may not have artistic talent themselves but helps to support and inspire artists)
Portrait Painter

If not all kits are chosen, the players can add abilities from non-chosen kits to their own. If you have more than seven players, the extra players can be Gadabouts (dilettantes), choosing four abilities from the main kits.

Players then choose General Kits, which provide 32 points assigned to the ten general abilities, producing ratings between 0 and 8. Players can also design their own kits by assigning their own points. The book notes that going below 6 in Composure or Fighting can make things difficult, although some of the provided kits have only 5 in Fighting.

The above is if the campaign is being run in Horror mode, which produces less capable and more fragile PCs. You can also play the game in Occult Adventures mode, which gives you +1 to Composure and Fighting and +1 to the two highest general abilities in your kit, or 36 points if you're building your own.

The General Kits available include:

Former Cadet
Cool Customer
Former Med Student
Raised on a Farm
Raised on the Streets
Spent Time in a Factory

Once you've picked your Kits, you can give your character a name, gender, and background; the book notes that you do not have to include historically accurate 1895 views on race, gender, and/or orientation in your game. At this point, the book also has a sidebar explaining the X-Card system for dealing with potentially problematic story elements.

Those elements chosen, you assign a Drive – a reason your character might be drawn to investigate the supernatural instead of just locking the door and staying home. A list of common Drives is included, such as Curiosity, Ennui (“I'm so terribly bored, only the supernatural excites my jaded senses”), or Rationalism (“there must be a reasonable explanation and I'll find it!”), or you can come up with your own Drive.

Next comes That Deuced Peculiar Business, a quick description of something weird and unexplainable that's happened to your character in their past, like bizarre recurring dreams, glimpses of monsters in the mirror, cryptic messages appearing on the wall, or receiving a misaddressed package with a strangely designed and bloodstained dagger in it. The Drives and the Deuced Peculiar Businesses are tools for the GM in designing scenarios that the PCs, and players, will find compelling.

Finally, go around the table and, in turn, ask each player to name one of the other PCs they depend on, and one that they tend to protect. Each player must choose from characters who haven't already been picked. These relationships are also a motivational tool for the GM and a way to ensure that the group stays together.

Next comes a description of the investigative abilities available to the players. These are divided between Academic (knowing stuff), Interpersonal (getting people to tell you stuff), and Technical (being able to do stuff). The investigative abilities available in Paris are:

Art History
Assess Honesty
Belle-Lettres (being able to write with wit and style, as well as knowing important people to write and gossip about)
Bonhomie (being charming and attractive)
Culture (general knowledge of the arts)
Demimonde (knowing your way around the underworld)
Inspiration (motivating people and making friends through a positive attitude)
Military History
Miscellany (trivia buff)
Natural History
Officialdom (bureaucracy)
Reassurance (getting people to calm down and trust you)
Society (being able to behave around the better classes)
Steel (impressing people by being a tough badass)

Investigative abilities work much as they do in other Gumshoe games – if you're in a situation where one of your investigative abilities can lead to a clue, you get the clue. Unlike other Gumshoe games, the investigative abilities don't have point ratings. Instead, you get two Pushes per scenario, which can be spent when you want to make exceptional use of one of your investigative abilities, such as using an interpersonal ability to get someone to go above and beyond in helping you, or using an artistic skill to produce striking, memorable work. Each investigative ability includes a brief list of what it can be used to do, and in some cases what a Push can get you.

Oct 9, 2012

In YKRPG general abilities work like typical Gumshoe skills: each has a numerical rating that is used to roll tests, and a pool of points equal to the ability's initial rating, which can be spent during gameplay. Ability pools refresh at the end of each scenario.

The general abilities for Paris include Athletics, Composure (the ability to keep your poo poo together in the face of the weird and terrifying), Fighting, First Aid, Health, Mechanics, Preparedness (the ability to have useful items on hand), Riding, Sense Trouble, and Sneaking. Preparedness, it should be noted, only covers items that aren't already suggested by other Abilities you may have. For instance, if you have Sculpture, you are assumed to have access to sculptor's tools, sketching supplies, etc.; Photography means you have a camera and film, and so on.

For tests, the GM assigns a difficulty between 2 and 8 (4 being average), and the player rolls a d6. Before rolling, the player can spend points from the appropriate general ability pool to earn a bonus on the roll. The GM may also choose to skip the roll and just have the player spend a certain number of points, for situations where the result shouldn't be in doubt but the PC still has to expend a certain amount of effort to get there. In other situations where the GM can't think of a way to make failure interesting, a test can be used to determine whether the PCs have to pay a price for success or not. This section also includes rules for cooperative skill use, as well as competitions between PCs.

Note that there are no negative consequences for letting a general ability pool drop to zero, even Health or Composure – other than not having any further points to spend on tests.

Next comes a discussion of how to use investigative abilities to collect clues; as with other Gumshoe games, the GM is expected to provide clues to the PCs who have investigative abilities appropriate to the current scene. The book describes various methods of revealing clues to the players – sometimes it's more entertaining to wait and allow them to decide which abilities to use to analyze the situation, but other times, if they're feeling bored, confused, or unmotivated, the GM may need to just drop the clue on them directly. The book also discusses how to run searches and how to handle things if no one has the ability needed to find a clue.

Here, the book also discusses the various types of clue: core clues, which are absolutely necessary to solving the mystery; leveraged and prerequisite clues, which only make sense when combined with another clue; and pipe clues, which seem meaningless at first but which may gain significance as the PCs get deeper into the mystery.

Time in the game is measured in intervals (the time between the discovery of each core clue), sessions, and scenarios (1-2 sessions, usually). Pushes and general ability points refresh at the end of a scenario, although the GM can give partial refreshes where it seems reasonable. One particular partial refresh, the “whew,” can be given out in situations where the PCs seem frightened of something that turns out to be harmless – it allows the recovery of 2 points of Composure.

Combat is handled a bit differently from other Gumshoe games -- at least, the ones I'm familiar with. When a fight breaks out, each side starts by defining its goal: escape, kill the opposition, steal something, etc. Based on this, the GM assigns a Difficulty using this table (for Paris -- other YKRPG campaigns have different tables, as we'll see).

As you'll note, this table makes it relatively easy for the PCs to run away from a fight, but killing anything other than weak opponents will take effort and expense of Fighting points -- these are art students, not hardened killers, after all.

Players declare how much they're spending from their Fighting pool for the upcoming test; high spenders go first. Each player then declares their action and rolls a Fighting test against the enemy's difficulty. If you beat the difficulty, you succeed at the action you described and then pay a number of Fighting, Health, or Athletics points equal to the enemy's Toll – if you can't or won't pay the Toll, you take the enemy's Minor Injury card.

On the other hand, if you fail the roll, you describe how your action fails. If you failed by only 1, you take the enemy's Minor Injury card, and if you fail by higher, you take the Major Injury card.

The GM then notes down the margin by which the player failed or succeeded the Fighting roll; anything more than 3 becomes a 3 and the player gets a special benefit (see below). The GM keeps a running total of the margins. If the PCs are piling up a positive margin total, the GM can describe how they're beating up on their opponents, but if the margin total is negative, the GM describes how the opponents are getting closer to victory.

If, once all the PCs have acted, the margin total is higher than 0, the PCs win the fight and achieve their stated goal. Players with high margins get to narrate how they contributed to the victory, then lower-margin players can add their own bits. Any player who got a margin higher than 3 can either gain an extra Push or refresh a general ability that's not Fighting, Health, or Athletics.

On the other hand, if the margin total is negative, the PCs lose and their opponent gets their declared goal. The PCs can't be injured any more than they've already been through the Toll and whatever injury cards they've received, but they can find themselves in a bad situation as a result of losing, depending on what their opponents' goal was.

Laws points out that this system is suited for handling dramatic situations that are sometimes difficult to play out under more typical RPG combat rules – for example, if the players just want to steal something from the opposition and escape, or where a stronger opponent might want to beat up or capture the PCs but not necessarily kill them. (And related to the Night's Black Agents discussion, there's nothing stopping the PCs from setting their goal as "Get captured but make it look good"!) While true, this is also a system where fights are resolved by going around the table and everyone rolling once; it does require that the players and GM take an active hand in coming up with dramatic narration to keep it interesting.

Simple fights (such as knocking out a watchman) can just be resolved by a single Fighting test if the GM feels it's appropriate.

I don't want to drag this post on too long ("too late!"), so I'll save the discussion of the shock/injury system for the next post.

Oct 9, 2012

I admit I winced at the description of the Daring Gambler, but then I hate putting myself in situations where I have to hope for a lucky roll. This seems like an attempt to implement 4E's bravura warlord, who got benefits to hand out to their allies by putting themselves in personal danger, rather than having their allies try to make risky rolls. And I don't think I'd like the Supreme Tactician, either -- I don't like playing "do I use my benefit now or save it for next round even though it might end up being wasted?" (See also: the 4E shadow-based Assassin.)

As mentioned in the last post, getting in a fight usually requires you to pay a Toll in general ability points if you win. If you lose, however, you'll be taking injury cards. Each enemy has a major and minor injury card listed in its description. There is also an extensive list of Hazards, which require the player to roll a test, usually Athletics or Health for physical Hazards, or Composure for mental hazards, to avoid having to take an Injury (physical) or shock (mental/emotional) card. Failing a Hazard test by 1 gives you a minor injury/shock card, and failing by 2 or more gives you a major card. Laws warns against setting up situations where the player gets a minor injury on success and a major injury on failure -- even having one card can be a big deal.

Here's an example of a couple of injury cards. Say you've gotten into a punch-up with some gendarmes who don't understand why you need to get into the Louvre before midnight, and it doesn't go your way. The entry for gendarmes in the list of enemies gives their minor injury as "Black and Blue" and their major as "Badly Beaten."

There are no actual cards included in the set, which seems a bit cheap for a $100 game, but there are over 100 each of shock and injury cards printed in the book, and you can always print your own from a PDF. The cards cover a wide variety of situations. The list of Hazards includes such things as Cobra Strike, Angry Mob Sets Upon You, Falling Chandelier, An Alluring Entity Tugs At Your Heartstrings, You Gaze Willingly at the Yellow Sign, and You Witness Man's Inhumanity to Man, each with its own possible minor and major consequences. Have your PCs stopped in at a dubious restaurant and eaten bad oysters? That's a Difficulty 4 Health test....

Or, more seriously, has a PC just received the news that a close friend has been brutally murdered? Difficulty 5 Composure test:

As you can see, most cards include instructions as to how they can be cleared. All cards are discarded at the end of each scenario, except those that, like "Waves of Grief" above, have the Continuity keyword -- those stick around until you act to get rid of them.

If you ever have 3 Injury cards (4 if you're playing at the Occult Adventures level) your character dies in a way that you and the GM agree is appropriate for the situation. Cards with the nonlethal keyword, such as the food poisoning cards listed above, cannot be the final card that takes you out, but they still count toward the limit, so you'd better be careful not to get another one! Similarly, if you have 3 (or 4) Shock cards, your character goes insane and is removed from play -- steps out the nearest high window, runs off screaming into the night, or is carted off to the asylum, as you and the GM decide.

Oct 9, 2012

Ithle01 posted:

So far I'm liking the system for Yellow King, the fact that it appears to move pretty quickly is something that I really like in its favor and the minor/major cards for conditions and injuries is a cool idea, but I'm not too sure about having to make minor/major conditions for each negative outcome. You said there's around 100 of them so that sounds pretty comprehensive.

Sure, there are a lot of cards to pick from -- there are about 100 shock and 100 injury cards, taking up almost 40 pages in the back of the book. Even if you're using an enemy or hazard that's not listed in the book, there are plenty of cards that cover being shot, stabbed, punched, clubbed, clawed, bitten, poisoned, set on fire, strangled, drowned, magically aged, having a heavy thing dropped on you, bombed, and more. On the shock side, there are cards for multiple flavors of being afraid, guilty, humiliated, hypnotized, despairing, unsure of objective reality, numbed, cursed, enraged, and various mental afflictions caused by getting too close to the Yellow Sign, reading The King in Yellow, or encountering Carcosan entities. Having to assign cards for a particular situation on the fly can be a bit of a pain, but looking for something comparable on the enemies and hazards list makes it easier. The fourth YKRPG book, This Is Normal Now, also includes a chapter on creating your own cards.

The game rules take up about 70 pages of the 240-page Paris book. The next section of the book, another 67 pages, includes:

* a guide to starting your first episode
* a history of Paris in the 19th century, from the Napoleonic era through the “present day” of 1895
* descriptions of neighborhoods in Paris – the PCs, as poor art students, live in the Latin Quarter – and locations in Paris, both fictional and real, for them to visit.
* A list of people, also both fictional and real, with descriptions and their dates and ages in 1895, who the PCs might bump into. This includes prominent artists like Degas, Cassatt, and Gauguin, musicians like Debussy and Satie, and authors and poets like Proust, Verlaine, and Mallarmé, as well as a wide variety of cultists, occult investigators, criminals, spies, detectives, and more, with notes on how they might fit into your PCs' adventures as patrons, victims, or helpers.

Next comes a discussion of who, and what, the King in Yellow might be. Laws's version of the Yellow King is based entirely on Chambers's work, without involving HPL or August Derleth's later additions, particularly Derleth's identification of the King with Lovecraft's Hastur.

The only details we get on the King in Chambers's stories are snippets from unreliable, and often insane, narrators. We know the King dwells in Carcosa, a place with white skies and black stars, near the mist-covered Lake of Hali, perhaps somewhere near Aldebaran or the Hyades. He has two daughters, Cassilda and Camilla, who may be allied or opposed to him -- in the fragments of The King in Yellow that Chambers quotes, they often seem terrified of him. And the King goes masked and cloaked, although what others think is a mask may actually be his real face. On Earth, people learn about him from The King in Yellow, a play that -- like similar Lovecraftian books -- provides forbidden knowledge while destroying the sanity of those who read it. The King may have cultists or followers on Earth, who use the unnerving Yellow Sign to identify themselves.

Based on this, Laws offers a variety of possible interpretations for your campaign. Perhaps Carcosa and the King really exist on a faraway world or dimension and are trying to invade our world; perhaps they're a lost ancient civilization; perhaps they're fantasies created by a mad writer that are somehow becoming real; or perhaps it's all some sort of bizarre meme that contaminates minds, making people imagine things that aren't there.

Following this is a listing of possible enemies for the PCs to fight, including their difficulty, the toll they can inflict, and the injury/shock effects they can have. This includes mundane enemies (dogs, angry peasants, gendarmes), creatures based on French folklore (ankou, nain), standard pulpy horror opponents (mad scientists, vampires, cannibals, beings made from sewn-together corpses), and things from Carcosa (including the King himself). Here's a typical enemy listing:

Finally, Paris concludes with a sample adventure, “Ghost of the Garnier,” which Laws describes as a “Carcosan spin on The Phantom of the Opera.” The PCs learn of a new play, Cassilda, being produced, that seems to be based on The King in Yellow. As they investigate, they discover a sinister masked figure lurking around the theater who seems to have an unusual interest in the young singer who is starring in the play. (And yes, there is a chance the PCs may get a chandelier dropped on them during their investigations.)

Selachian fucked around with this message at 19:02 on May 2, 2020

Oct 9, 2012

The Wars is the second book in the YKRPG set. In The Wars, the players take the parts of a squad of soldiers in 1947, in an alternate version of Europe locked in a seemingly endless war known as the Continental War or the War of Reclamation. This is not World War I or II, although it draws from elements of both of them. But the war is also fought with increasingly weirder and more dangerous machines, because it's not only Earthly nations involved; the powers of Carcosa are also taking a hand in the fighting, and the influence of the Yellow King is spawning unearthly horrors on the battlefield.

The PCs in The Wars are a team of French soldiers, although non-French characters can be included as members of the Foreign Legion. Soldiers can be either men or women – you can make having female soldiers be unusual, or not, as you prefer.

The PCs can be a squad of military police, AWOL soldiers, or specialists in weird missions, whatever suits the players and GM; the important thing is to ensure that the PCs have a mission or specialty that allows them enough freedom to act without having to constantly check in with their commanders. Laws mentions that in his home game, he based the players' unit on the "Ghost Army" from World War II, which traveled around the war zone confusing the enemy by setting up fake tanks and truck convoys, posing as members of other units, and making bogus radio broadcasts.

As with Paris, characters are created by combining an investigative kit and a general kit. The first investigative kit, Lieutenant, should be assigned by the GM to whichever player they think will be a good leader.

The other kits include:

Private (civilian occupation: medical student)
Private (civilian occupation: merchant)
Private (civilian occupation: peasant)
Private (civilian occupation: photographer)
Private (civilian occupation: writer)

The civilian occupations ensure that the privates have different investigative abilities divided among them. And yes, Laws notes that private is not a French military rank, but it's easier than teaching your players French ranks, unless you happen to be French yourself.

Laws suggests that if you played Paris, the Lieutenant should go to whoever played the Architect, the Sergeant to the Sculptor, the Medical Student to the Poet, the Merchant to the Portrait Painter, the Peasant to the Landscape Painter, the Photographer to the Muse, and the Writer to the Belle-Lettrist. It is, of course, not required that you do it this way, and you can just let the players pick whatever kit interests them.

General kits include the following, with the note that you can build your own kits by assigning 54 (for Horror campaigns) or 60 (for Occult Adventures) points to the general abilities. This is almost double what Paris PCs get, but as we'll see, The Wars characters have more general abilities to spread points around. The general kits include:

Grease Monkey
Raw Recruit

As with Paris, each player creates a Drive and a drat Peculiar Thing for their character. If you also played Paris, each player should establish a connection between their Paris and The Wars characters. They could be a descendant, they might have met and received a mysterious warning from the older character, they might be obsessed with the older character's work, or whatever the player can think of. There is no need, however, to establish relationships between the PCs; the chain of command and the pressures of the war zone should do that well enough.

The Wars includes some new investigative abilities, as well as some transferred over from Paris or renamed. These include:

Blueblood (you are recognized as a gentleman/lady among the upper class, and can expect deference from servants)
Humanities (a catchall for art, cultures, languages, and other stuff that doesn't usually matter much on the battlefield)
Lowlife (basically the same as Paris's Demimonde)
Military Logistics
Military Science
Political Science
Salt of the Earth (you're one of the good ol' boys)
Terrain (the ability to read maps, study a battlefield for best positions, spot ambushes, etc.)

Besides these, the investigative ability list also includes Assess Honesty, Inspiration, Intuition, Negotiation, Occultism, Photography, and Reassurance, which work as they did in Paris.


Oct 9, 2012

New general abilities for The Wars include:

Battlefield (keeping yourself alive in the middle of a mass combat; as with Fighting and Composure, you don't want to skimp here)
Morale (useful for restoring other people's Composure and treating shock cards)
Traps and Bombs

Besides these, The Wars characters also have Athletics, Composure, Fighting, First Aid, Health, Mechanics, Preparedness, Riding, Sense Trouble, and Sneaking as general abilities, and these too operate as they did in Paris. Having both Preparedness and Scrounging seems a bit redundant to me.

While combat is handled the same as in Paris, The Wars has a different combat table:

Difficulties and the Toll are lower, and The Wars's soldiers are better at killing than Paris's art students, but it's also harder to run away from a fight.

PCs are also allowed to Hunker Down once per scenario to refresh their Battlefield and Athletics pools, temporarily finding shelter to snatch a moment of rest, trade stories about their sweethearts back home, or wonder what this damned war is really about.

Other than these changes, however, the rules for investigations, tests, fighting, shock and injury, etc., are the same as they were in Paris. The Wars includes a new table of hazards, including such things as Giant Squid Attacks the Lifeboats, Inside a Structure When Bombers Take It Out, and You Show Fright, Inviting the Mockery of Fellow Soldiers, and a new set of shock/injury cards appropriate to these dangers.

The remainder of the book is background and campaign design information. The War is being fought between two sides, the Loyalists (the players' side) and the Enemy. The GM can select whatever European countries they want for each side, although France should be among the Loyalists. If you played Paris and the PCs had friendly relations with a non-French person during that campaign, that person's country can be on the Loyalist side. Based on these decisions, the GM draws a battle line across a map of Europe – and then moves it back a short distance towards France, representing the fact that the Loyalists are on the defensive and have lost territory.

During the timeline of The Wars, America remains neutral under the rulership of Emperor Hildred Castaigne (see Chambers's story “The Repairer of Reputations,” as well as the next book, Aftermath).

The exact issue that sparked the War is up to the GM to determine. Maybe the Loyalists are democracies and the Enemy are authoritarians or monarchists – or maybe it's the other way around. Laws does, in a sidebar titled “Not Everything Has to Have Hitler In It,” warn against the temptation to bring in alternate-world versions of Hitler or any high-ranking Nazis – he feels it's better to keep a certain philosophical distance between the fictional Continental War and our world's real European wars.

The GM also determines what the Yellow King's interest in the war is. Is it a proxy battle between him and his enemies (whoever they may be)? Or perhaps it's a war of succession between the King and one or both of his daughters, or perhaps the Carcosans are simply feeding off the death and misery produced by the war, and want to drag it out as long as possible. Or maybe a major villain from your Paris campaign is involved in spurring the war somehow.

Military technology in The Wars is just slightly different from the real world, thanks to the influence of Carcosa. Weapons tend to be elaborately carved and decorated with patriotic symbols in Belle Epoque style, emulating organic shapes. Radio has not been discovered; instead, the PCs are assigned a boitenoire, which is basically a wireless fax machine/typewriter, to stay in touch with their commanders. Instead of tanks, the battlefield is menaced by stalkers (giant multi-legged war machines), and aircraft are designed to look insect- or batlike.

Besides normal bullets, small arms can also fire discourager rounds (which implant a psychic suggestion against crossing battle lines), quisling rounds (the same, except they suggest you betray your superiors), white-sky rounds (which implant a suggestion against attacking Carcosan creatures), or suppurator rounds (which produce horrifying diseased wounds that leak black goo). Weird weapons like these are powerful, but have a psychic cost (I.e, possible shock hazards) for both the user and the target, so overusing them can be a short trip to shell shock.

Enemies for The Wars campaigns include enemy soldiers, Carcosan creatures drawn to the battlefield, and warspawn – monsters created by the intersection of battlefield horror and Carcosan influence. These include such beasties as the whatsisname, which attempts to join your unit while psychically persuading you to remember it as a beloved comrade, or swarms, masses of animals – birds, rats, dogs – melded together into one crawling carpet of fur and bones and teeth.

Also included is a chapter of People, one-paragraph thumbnail sketches of various NPCs for the players to interact with, including commanding officers, fellow soldiers, civilians, and enemies.

Next comes a discussion of how to design scenarios for The Wars and different campaign premises. Even though the PCs won't usually be directly on the front lines, Laws explains that they should never feel that they can move freely around the war zone without danger, and should never be certain that a person or place will be the same if they leave it and then return. He suggests including "hazard scenes," where the PCs face enemies or danger without a chance to obtain clues; even a peaceful trip back to headquarters can be interrupted by artillery fire or enemy bombers. As the campaign ramps up, the threats the PCs face can get weirder and weirder: hungry ghosts, psychic mines, former companions returning as undead.

The eventual endpoint of a The Wars campaign should be figuring out how to end the war. This can involve occupying (or successfully defending) Paris, killing the villain who's provoking the war, stopping an Enemy super-weapon, or finding a way to banish the Carcosans back to their own planet/dimension/time.

The book concludes with a scenario, “A Feast for Wolves,” where the PCs witness an aircraft crash that leaves many friendly soldiers dead. But when they visit the crash site, the bodies are gone. Perhaps the villagers in the nearby town of Gevaudan might know what happened to them...

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