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MIDDENARDE - PART 7
    by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 6
    by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 5
    by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 4
    by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
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[#] MIDDENARDE - PART 7
02:20pm EST - 12/12/2016
Middenarde




So far the only piece of art I haven't liked. In parts of this piece it just looks like there's pixelated artifacting at first glance.

2 - BESIEGED

After the art, this bit starts off with a :wikipedia copypaste: dump of historical trivia that has literally zero bearing on the setup for the adventure, which is as follows: There's noble infighting in England, the PC's are on the receiving end of a siege. This is gonna suck. On the bright side, here the PC's are starting at level 12 and so they can begin the battle with some of the gamebreaking abilities mentioned earlier in the review. The players are outnumbered about three to one, however, so even that would probably take a bit of cleverness. Additionally, if the players haven't actually earned a knighthood in the previous adventure module prior to playing this one, the GM is encouraged to just have them as squires to whoever's actually leading the defense, meaning they don't get to really make any important decisions unless they also have the social skills necessary to mind control him. Or kill him and take his place.

We're given a description of the castle in text, but no maps or similar overviews, which is strange considering that the game encourages using maps and grids for all your combat. In fact, none of the .PDF's have even included a map of England or similar for a sense of scale and distance, presumably assuming that the players can just go ahead and google themselves up a map of 1450's England and work off of that.

quote:

You should have informed your players before the game began that they would most likely not be leaving Castle Lawshall, so they should have made their characters with useful long-term skills that they can pass the time with.

...

They can also take a break and relax, socializing with each other or their superiors if they have any. The GM should strongly characterize a handful of NPCs for the players to repeatedly interact with, whether they be the castle’s lords, high-ranking soldiers, the chaplain, older servants, or whoever else may be residing inside its walls. This will be important for building tension and intrigue in the days to come. Conflict between these NPCs, and the NPCs and individual players, will drive the social aspect of the adventure, as the players can choose to try and diffuse tensions or exploit them for personal gain. Inevitably, hundreds of people trapped in close proximity to each other will not get along.

We're also, as mentioned, encouraged to bring in characters from the previous adventure module, which will almost certainly have ended in a TPK if the players invested in any long-term or crafting skills at all, rather than raw combat prowess to match their NPC opponents. And of course, the lazy fuck who wrote this piece of garbage didn't write up any NPC's like that himself, offloading the entirety of that effort to the GM. Of course, he does offer SOME help... consisting of a bunch of meaningless minor events such as chickens escaping the coop. A servant committing suicide and...

quote:

A horse being exercised in the Ward bucks its handler, and its loud whinny startles one of the practicing archers, whose shot goes wide and hits someone nearby, possibly one of the players.

Players randomly getting hit by arrows with no warning, save or anything. Awesome. Mostly the random events are either A) "someone's having some harmless fun, like playing some dice or having a snowball fight in the yard."(the siege is during winter) or B) "someone does something implausibly retarded." Like bored soldiers letting out a fucking captured boar and teasing it in the middle of the castle. Like what. Boars are fucking scary and actually catching one alive probably risked several lives in the process. I know people do stupid shit, but Jesus, that one just seems implausible even in a fantasy setting.

So anyway, after the first couple of days of the siege littered with this random garbage, we get some actual events, which are also garbage. Like, in theory it's not a bad idea to have some enemy soldiers infiltrate the castle at night... except they kill a patrol on the walls and put on their uniforms, then pretend to be friendly soldiers, gathering intelligence and preparing to open the gates on a future day. Because yeah, everyone's just gonna believe they're part of the defending crew because they're wearing the right uniforms. No one will miss the three or four guys who are mysteriously gone. No one will see the great big ol' fucking blood spatters on the tabards. Stelath is a bit more complicated than goddamn Hitman. A force of 200-something isn't a place where it's easy for someone to disappear or for others to vanish into the crowd.

If the players don't find the infiltrators after they start cutting more throats and stuff inside the castle walls, they'll manage to stay hidden for ten days before opening the gates. Maybe the first day is plausible, but that's about it. These infiltrators are literally also all that happens, minor GM-invented events aside, for the first week of the siege. Then we get more minor events, and just like the first, they're characterized by the fact that they're just shit that happens to the PC's and other defenders, not, for the most part, anything they can react to, or try to head off with clever planning and good management/leadership. Just "this guy dies" or "this stuff gets broken" or "lol now you have less food" entirely at random.

Next, fourteen days into the siege, the attackers have tunnelled under the castle and into the basement levels, where there's a catacomb, and have started sneaking men in and mapping the place out as best as they can without getting discovered. Also snatching a servant away to interrogate about the layout and defenses... then pulling the same moron Hitman trick with him by stuffing someone else into his clothes and hoping no one fucking notices. In general, it feels like this would be a way more interesting game from the perspective of the besieging force, since they're really the only ones actually getting to do shit, if their deadline wasn't "we run out of food" but "reinforcements arrive to break the siege," and they had to come up with tricks to break the defense. Like digging tunnels, sneaking in, using magic, bringing a squad of Trailblazers to harass the defenders with sonic booms, etc.

At three weeks in, the attackers finally mount an actual attack, assuming they haven't managed to win by sneaking people in to take the leadership hostage or open the gates already. After surviving this, which is just more straight-up combat, the GM is finally supposed to suggest to the PC's that: "Gee, you're fucked if you don't go call for some help!" and now the PC's have to sneak out and summon help from a nearby castle. You'd think this is one of the first things the defenders would try to do, if they didn't have it on good authority that there was help already on the way.

Anyway, blah blah, the players ride off, the trip is pretty much trivial since they're at least level 12 and can ice any common soldiers who try to stop them or bandits they might blunder into unless the GM is an absolute retard. Then they reach the nearby count, who just wants to be promised something in return for helping, really just about anything will do it, and then...

quote:

"With Count Ipswich’s army behind them, the players can feel confident that they will win the day if they return to the castle before it falls. Since there’s no significant threat to the players anymore, the last session or two should be spent reflecting on the trials they’ve overcome, the friends they’ve lost, and the horrors of war."

"Now have the PC's spend two entire sessions doing fucking nothing." And then it ends on the PC's getting a bit of money and the chance to participate in more exciting medieval warfare which the adventure module leaves thoroughly and utterly undetailed. Also, again, why would you make two adventure modules heavily featuring large group combats, or even army vs army warfare, without any rules for making those proceed faster other than "kill 1dx soldiers from each side per round" for the siege?



3 - INNOCENCE LOST

This time, we're going to Wales! Basically, the players are Welsh, they're being dominated by the English who want their magical Welsh gold. So he sends some goons into the Welsh mountains to prospect, they don't return, so he goes down to the local village and asks some peasants(the PC's) to go poke around the caves and find out where his mans went. The PC's, presumably, accept, otherwise this is gonna be a pretty short adventure. Also according to the writing, Welshmen hate being farmers and prefer having dangerous adventures. All of them.

So, the baron's men show up and make the proposal to the village at large. Surprisingly, the PC's are the only ones who consider it seriously... oh wait not fucking surprisingly because the offer is to leave their lands behind to go on a potentially dangerous adventure into the mountains, to a location that may already have killed one group of the baron's men, in exchange for barely enough money to buy a fucking bottle of wine. And not a GOOD bottle of wine, they can afford one of those if they all pool their rewards together.

But anyway, assuming that the PC's are fucking morons, they go into the mountains and find out that the baron's men were eaten by a fucking griffon. Which was badly wounded in the fight and has a fucking polearm sticking out of one eye socket. Ow. It has a pretty good chance of mangling at least one of them before they get the better of it, though it being wounded gives them a better than normal chance of winning. The cave contains a bunch of garbage and decent equipment(all already pre-damaged, enjoy keeping track of those fucking durability scores, nerds!), and a locked chest which the PC's will likely flub lockpicking(DC 15), and if they break it open, lol they smash the potion inside, which also ruins the scrolls inside, basically depriving them of the best loot in the cave.

Then they come back, get paid worth a bottle of wine by the baron's men, go to bed, and some other baron, jackass that he is, attacks their village. The attacking soldiers are, in fact, more dangerous than the gryphon due to their larger number, meaning they both have more HP and get more attacks. Also we're just told there are "far too many soldiers for them to fight," so presumably if they do try to stand their ground rather than legging it into the woods, you're supposed to give them a TPK. This situation, we're also told, is supposed to make the PC's want revenge on the raiders, meaning that their entire motivation from this point on is to kill or severely ruin this guy who's destroyed the village that the players have known for all of one session. Maybe have it last a bit longer so the players will actually give a shit, Mr. Writer Man.

quote:

The players will soon realize that they have no hope of doing anything to the Baron Cruciaith and his army without allies and power. The allies they can hope to make by diplomacy and bribery. The power will only come through training and adventuring. Fortunately for them, every town and city in Wales is rife with gossip about ruins and ancient sites which are said to hold artefacts of magical power.

So far, the game's wimpy magic available to the PC's is distinctly superior to the physics-breaking fuckery that Knacks can provide, so just signing up as mercenaries or becoming tradesmen or something would probably be a safer way to get the means necessary for revenge. In any case, the text now dumps a ton of potential places to explore for power and money on us but, as is usual, no fucking map.

GRAVE OF THE WOLF SPIDER

The players are warned away from the spooky grave by the local peasants! The spooky grave is spooky as they approach! There's a fresh corpse inside the spooky grave! ...and ultimately nothing happens and they just get some free money and a free sword.

MYNYW CLEARING

A clearing with a MYSTERIOUS RITUAL CIRCLE that compelled a monk to kill one of his brethren when said brethren advocated razing the ritual circle for being heathen and awful. The players won't find out about it unless they happen to get this one particular random monk in a tavern drunk, and then they have to either force him into the wilderness or poke around his old abbey to find it. Their reward for finding it is a pittance of gold, a scroll of healing and having to stab a monk(because the monk is angry that they're desecrating the place for loot).

GRAVEYARD OF SAINTS

So, there's another spooky burial ground, but this one is in the mountains and requires hiring a guide to take them most of the way there. They'll be warned off by a guy who lost his arm trying to loot the place before them... but not really told why or how he lost his arm there. Just: "BEWARE, THIS PLACE WILL CUT YOUR ARM OFF." Then once they get there they get attacked by fucking SKELETON WARRIORS. Their reward for killing all the skeletons and looting the graveyard is finding an ANCIENT DRUID in MAGICAL HIBERNATION whom they can awaken as a level 7 ally who'll just help them as thanks for waking him up. Though, this is the weird part, despite being a Celt, he confirms that the Devil exists(Satan put him in magical hibernation for tricking him out of collecting a soul).

Why are there no rules for divine shenanigans in the game? If Satan canonically exists, God must as well, Miracles must as well. Prayer ought to have real power and stuff. But no, the only magic is DRUID MAGIC and GYPSY MAGIC.

LIBRARY OF ANVALLUS

This time, while the party's passing through a town, a guy who's angry about the shoes he just bought, spots the PC's and immediately cheers up, feeling that they look like ROUGH DUDES who would be up for going to Ireland with him and raiding the LIBRARY OF ANVALLUS. Getting to Ireland goes off without a hitch, and then they get searching!

quote:

Every hour they search, allow the party to make a Very Difficult Visual Acuity (DC 16) check to find the ruins of the library. If they fail to find it before nightfall, they can return to Kilmacthomas and come back the next day. Be sure to make it entertaining; that is why Brendan is there, to guide their search and keep their morale up. He should lead them across the mountains and talk to himself and them about his thought process.

I'm sure you can all see why this is fucking stupid. I doubt I need to comment much. Keep in mind, the PC's are rolling 3d6, at most 3d6+1 or 3d6+2, to hit that DC16, but more likely just straight 3d6, and there are four of them. But anyway, eventually they probably find the library, either because the GM gets tired of all the failed checks or they pass one. They find their way in, with their guide waiting outside because he knows damn well its dangerous. Upon arriving they discover that most of the library's contents have been eaten by glowing worms, and then 500lbs of rock block the exit and a stone golem with a sword animates and tries to kill them. Thankfully the Golem is a huge chump, it has really minimal armor, despite being made of stone, and is basically incapable of dodging any attack, so there's a good chance the PC's will have it dead before the first round of combat is over.

The reward is, as usual, a bunch of generic magic potions and scrolls with their boring D&D-lite magic.

SHRINE AT RHOS

Again, some RANDOM STRANGER just happens to have a clue to a major celtic artifact site and decides to let the PC's in on it. In this case he's just a bored guy who wants to prove he knew the right hints to find the place, not someone who asks to come along and get a cut. Actually finding the orb at the SHRINE OF RHOS(yes, it's just a big glowing blue orb) has no real challenge, the challenge is that the Orb itself basically has a save-or-die effect for anyone who touches it or looks at it too much(how much is too much, or how long is too long, remains undefined by the author). Even attempting to use Attunement to figure out what the Orb is all about has the same save-or-die effect.

If they succeed, though, they basically have an ORB OF MIND CONTROL, though they have to pass the check again every day or it turns on them and tries to brainwash them. Other than the orb, just some zombies and some cultists guarding it. Forgettable.

In general that describes all of these locations so far. One item, and then on to the next. So I'm just gonna start skipping the remainder unless some of them have SOMETHING interesting in them. Like, about the only interesting thing about the next place is that it has angry merpeople. A ruined castle that has some bad poetry, generic monsters and some CRYSTAL GOLEMS that are actually moderately threatening. And then they go to a Welsh castle through a magical portal, kill some bandits, kill some more skeletons, kapow, more generic magic items. And now the adventure's out of dungeons to explore, so they gotta go get their revenge on the Baron who burnt their home village down.

Or just, you know, retire, rich and happy, in Ireland or something.

Hilariously, the last part, about actually getting the revenge, is incredibly threadbare. We're not even given the baron's stats, we're just told where he lives, and what his daily routines are, and the rest is left up to the GM to decide himself. And then there's a Welsh pronounciation guide.

Jesus, these adventures were some tepid trash.

EDIT: That's it for everything Middenarde so far. But if the creator carries through on his promise of a heavy rewrite, I'll review that as well, if the changes are large enough to warrant it.

~PurpleXVI

[#] MIDDENARDE - PART 6
02:17pm EST - 12/12/2016

Hostile V posted:

Every Monday I make the hike to the apothecary for all of the beeswax suppositories I can carry for my mother in law who got a fever from losing both of her legs but getting an infection before she got her new prosthetics. I can't tell if the apothecary is undercharging or overcharging me; I can't read and I don't know if a songbird is actually capable of writing by dipping its beak in ink. I just keep giving it money until it stops looking angry and starts nodding.

When I walk home, my dick shoes slap against the pavement in a rhythmic beat. Sometimes I like to walk in such a way that it becomes music. Sometimes I'll see patrols of dog soldiers being lead by a bear lieutenantant with a bird sergeant perched on its head. I like to walk so my loud steps match up with the time of their exercises and drills, but if it's hot the beeswax melts all over my hands so most of the time I just go home quickly.

When I get home and finish cramming all the pills up into where they need to go, sometimes I like to take the wife and kids out to the meadow where we can watch the town doctor roll bodies down the hill until they come back to life. It's become a bit of sport to bet on how long it takes for them to live again. When there are no more bodies to resurrect, I head to work manufacturing rifles. My job is to figure out how to streamline the speed-loading process.

I dunno, I guess my life is sort of average and boring.

Hilarious as this is, some sort of ANECDOTES like this, written in first person, about medieval life, might not have been bad. From the perspectives of knights and lords, peasants and clergy, adventurers and druids and whatever. Have all of them be at least partially unreliable narrators so the GM can throw in his own twist on things if he wants, without having to countermand "canon." It would at least have been a far sight better than the muddled mess of trivia that we actually got.

Middenarde



ADVENTURE MODULES





Middenarde has three Adventure Modules, 97 pages of them, in their own .PDF. There's zero introduction for the .PDF as a whole, instead we get two pieces of(as usual, excellent) art, and then we leap straight into the first adventure module...

1 - SCROLLS OF POWER

So, there's some historical trivia about noble infighting in England during the appropriate period, then we're told that this time history's different, because a conspiracy attempting to unseat one of the kings isn't just powerful in money and manpower, it's also trying to acquire dark gypsy magics(seriously, a Romani magical scroll) from a merchant, who doesn't know the value of what he's got lying around on his back shelves. They bungle it, getting the merchant suspicious of them, and rather than taking a fat load of cash to sell them some dusty paper, he packs his bags and legs it. He gets stabbed by an assassin in a tavern, however, where the PC's just happen to be having a drink, and then he gives them a QUEST to avenge him with his dying breaths.

quote:

The players, all hard-working men and/or women of Westbury, happen to be sharing a table that winter evening, and in the aftermath of the gruesome killing, they are brought together by their determination to uncover the reason behind his murder. With his dying breaths, he sends them on a journey that will make them pawns in a dangerous game that may have terrible and far-reaching effects on England and all of Christendom.

quote:

Scrolls of Power is intended for a group of 3-6 ordinary level 1 characters, all peasants of the town of Westbury, toiling away for its lord and living in houses owned by him.

I feel like one of the bigger issues with this is that we're in a country that ostensibly has guards and some degree of authority, rather than large swathes of monster-infested wilderness and a mostly-absent central authority. The player characters are likely people with jobs, apprentice whatevers, cobblers, blacksmiths, farmers or something. And yet they're still supposed to be eager to pick up a mysterious and magical quest, rather than just telling the guards that this guy got shivved and would you please stop the guy with the knife before anyone else gets stabbed. Why not just assume that the players ARE the guards summoned by the locals? That'd make considerably more sense. I mean, if they're "toiling away" for their lord... won't the guards come after THEM if they just pick up their pitchforks and go adventuring?

quote:

The quiet roar of many simultaneous conversations is interrupted by a shout from the middle of the crowd. A hush instantly falls over the ale house as all heads turn to the source of the commotion, where a man in a black robe and a hood has seized what appears to be a merchant or some other member of the middle class. The man pulls a dagger out of the merchant's side and shoves him to the ground, before making a move for the door. As the assassin pushes his way through the front doors and into the dark, the barkeep points and shouts, "Stop him! Call the lord's men!"

So, there are multiple hilarious things about this. Cutting back to the Setting, specifically Clothing, section of the "core" book...

quote:

Black would have been rarely worn unless for religious reasons: mourning, a pilgrim’s garb, a priest’s cassock, a scholar’s robe (scholars were still largely church educated).

If you're an ASSASSIN, why the fuck are you wearing what is, essentially, a highly visible and noticeable colour, and stabbing a guy in the middle of a crowd, rather than just wearing something normal and murdering the dude later in the night, when most people are in their homes and asleep? Everything about this is so poorly conceived and planned. Also, by the game's rules, you couldn't kill a healthy guy with a single knife stab to the torso, at least, not instantly, he'd have to start bleeding out. And bleeding out can be stopped or stabilized by normal Bandaging skills, so the book, here, has to remind us that we're not allowed to save the merchant, only stabilize him for a couple of seconds with a pretty difficult(DC 15 from 3d6, with a maximal bonus of +1 at this point). Also despite clearly describing Bandaging in the core book as the skill used for this, it here says we should use Heal for it.

By default, all they're going to hear from the merchant before he dies is:

quote:

“The scroll… you’ve got to save the scroll. Don’t let them find it.”

And then the authorities show up and take over. If they try to pursue the assassin, the writing says that no matter what, he just escapes. But based on this incredibly vague amount of... nothing at all, they're supposed to wait until the guards have left, being pretty ineffectual, then loot the dead guy's room. Barring them passing some mildly challenging spot checks(sorry, Visual Acuity checks), they'll find nothing. Also if they fail to pat down the guy's body for the key to his room(in the middle of the fucking common room with everyone watching), before the guards show up and take the body away, the innkeeper will just go: "Oh, whatever, dead guy, not my problem, go take his stuff."(there's technically an Influence check to convince him to do so, but it's really easy, and if you've gotten this far without them getting into the room, they're probably gonna go start training the local birds instead.)

Also at this point we're told that if the players patched the merchant up enough to "provide more information" before dying, that doesn't mean more information right when they patched him up, but instead more information upon visiting him, half-dead, the next day, at the local physician's house. Of course, he then dies immediately after providing exposition.

quote:

is able to speak with the players and tell them who he is, what he knows about the scroll, and where he’s hidden it, making the task of retrieving it much easier. Unfortunately, he knows very little about what it does, who wants it, and why they were willing to kill him for it.

Aside from the assumption that "wow, we four peasants can totally make some money off of messing with a conspiracy that stabs people in broad daylight!" the players still have no motivation whatsoever to fuck with this. Especially since they now know it's a magical scroll, and it's reinforced that magic is looked upon as heretical, even suggested that the players may be unwilling to mess with the scroll as a result.

quote:

Once the party has found the Scroll of Power, inform them (assuming they don’t ask) that the best place to take it if they want to determine its purpose is the closest town, Riversdale. Also inform them that if they’re willing to wait a day, a caravan of Romani travelers (known pejoratively as ‘gypsies’) will likely pass through the village to peddle their wares and may be interested in purchasing some of the things they’ve obtained from John. Furthermore, they might be able to pay one of their wagons to take them there, which would make the 40km journey considerably easier. If they’d rather leave right away, that’s fine; there are several villages along the way where they can stop, including Warminster, Heytesbury, and Codford.

Still struggling with why a bunch of peasants would do this, the answer is apparently "because the GM tells them where their players should want to go." Also ha ha wow the gypsies are all fucking assholes, like, amoral scam-artists to the point where it feels a bit like a racist stereotype.

quote:

the Romani are in the business of finding or making and selling magical trinkets, they don’t actually much care what they do as long as they can get Englishmen to pay top penny for them. If you’re feeling particularly evil, you might allow them to meet an elderly Romani woman who will, for a ‘nominal’ fee, offer to read the runes on it.

Their attitude basically written as "fuck whitey, let's pass him a magical nuke so he can blow himself up while we laugh." The players at this point are probably 2nd level unless the GM says "fuck that noise, this is retarded," and the adventure module encourages immediately throwing level 4 and 3 enemies at them. Combat-specialized level 3 and 4 enemies, with magical potions, real weapons, and generally unless the players sent both their initial and second skill points on combat, expect at least one of them to die or lose a limb here. The book acknowledges this and suggests letting anyone who died make new characters who join the party for ????? reasons, starting at level 1. They should level up relatively quickly if the GM isn't a fuckface, but even so, for the few seasons where they're behind, DC's will be fucked with regards to them, and it also makes the reasoning behind why the party is on the quest at all even harder to sustain.

The module also says that the assassin at first tries to convince the players to give up the scroll peacefully... but says nothing about what happens if they do. Do they get an invitation to the conspiracy? Maybe a cash reward to stay silent? Does he attack anyway? Who the fuck knows.

So anyway, assuming they don't get a TPK, the party arrives at Riverdale.

quote:

Most importantly, they’re going to want to find someone who can either read the scroll they’re carrying or tell them what to do with it. This will be difficult; there are few people in England who can actually use the scroll the party is carrying, due to its incredible power, and there are none in Riversdale. No matter what, their search will likely uncover the wrong sort of attention, and they may face threats from both unaffiliated thieves and continued attacks by the organization behind the merchant’s death.

Why didn't they just go to the guards and go "yo, look, that dead guy was carrying a magical scroll and said it was dangerous." in the first fucking town, get escorted to the local lord to give testimony, etc.? That could've been more interesting, as the assassin(s) could've come after them because A) they have the scroll and B) don't know if the players know more than they do and... it would've just generally made some degree of sense.

But anyway, they arrive in Riversdale, and the only quest-related thing to do there is to find out that there's only one guy who knows a lot about magic scrolls, and he lives outside of town. 37 kilometers outside of town. In another town. Just far enough for the PC's to be ambushed again on the way there. This time the opposition is more equal in level, but unequal in numbers and, again, probably considerably better equipped, for one thing actually wearing armor and, again, having magic potions of healing and stuff, which gives, once more, a pretty good chance of the PC's getting chopped in half by these combat specialized enemies. UNLESS, of course, the enemies flub a morale roll.

quote:

Whenever the target witnesses an ally fall in battle or lose a limb, they must make a morale roll to continue fighting. If the group has a leader, he or she may roll an Influence check with a DC of 20 minus 1 for each member of the group still alive, even if the leader is not in sight. If successful, no morale roll needs to be made. Otherwise, the target makes a Willpower check with a DC of 12 minus 1 for each ally who is still in sight. If the target fails his morale roll, he is too frightened to continue fighting.

Probably the best strategy in either of the forced combat encounters so far is to just focus on killing the weakest enemy so the rest are forced to make morale rolls, since none of them have any Willpower to give them bonuses on that front. If the players manage to take the leader alive, they can get a sub-quest! A sub-quest that results in them getting fucking sliced wide open since it most likely involves, without any fucking warning, combat with a level 20 opponent. No armor, but decked out in badass combat skills(almost purely combat skills except for being literate, actually...), boosted attack dice, boosted evasion dice and ha ha wow. Even on a four against one situation, the players will fucking die like chumps since there are no rules for opponents getting less block/evasion dice against multiple opponents, or having a limited number of blocking/evading actions per turn. Their only reward for getting out of this alive is a letter that tells them that someone wants the scroll they have and is willing to kill them to get it.

what a grand reward

So, they meet the guy who knows about scrolls. He tells them jack shit except that he can point them to ANOTHER guy who knows MORE about scrolls. Or he can pay them for the scroll and they can go home, considerably richer, since they don't really have much motivation to keep going, unless it's now revenge against the jackasses who keep trying to have them killed. Mr. Level 20 then shows up(if the players didn't capture the bandit leader and then meet and kill the guy first) and tells them that if they're tired of almost being murdered, they can join his evil conspiracy instead, and get fucking rich off of it.

Staying loyal means they go to Southampton and, again, get told that the local wizard doesn't know what the fuck they've got their hands on. What a useful guy. So he sends them to London. We're told how dangerous it is to travel overland to London, but there's no thought given to the fact that the players could take the long way around by sailing from Southampton to London, since we're only given land-based encounters, none sea-based.

Anyway, they arrive at the last wizard in the adventure's house, he deduces that the scroll is intended for making a brainwashed clone of the King, sends a messenger to the court to get knights to show up and secure it, and then the wizard and the PC's wait. Until the Badguy Conspiracy shows up and starts battering the door down. It might go badly for them, though, since the wizard is fucking Level 47 and has attack dice better than what any PC can have(he has d12's, where PC's can only upgrade to d10's), he could probably handle this encounter by himself entirely, since he's a combination of badass wizard, badass archer and badass fencer(despite the book insisting he's "no good at combat" in the description). Poor evasion dice, though, but if the PC's can just keep the bad guys away from close combat with him, he can probably start blasting them out of existence pretty fast, trivializing the fight somewhat.

quote:

The GM should exercise good judgment as to how long the fight will last before help arrives, but 32 rounds is recommended, as that’s how many attempts the soldiers will have to make on average for a dozen of them to enter the fray. Sir Ronald will at first attempt to kill them as they enter with his crossbow, but if they start to overwhelm the group, he will focus on keeping his allies alive as long as possible. Two full sessions is also a good length for the fight, as it will allow for the building up of tension over the cliffhanger, and then combat can be resolved the next session.

So, the creator is recommending a fight between 17 combatants. Four PC's, twelve Badguy Goons and the Wizard Warrior. He suggests 32 rounds of this fucking mess, stretching over two full sessions, Jesus Christ. Any fight that starts to last longer than an hour is something I, personally, rush to a conclusion since at that point my players are probably starting to get distracted unless it's something really pivotal. Also all the attacking soldiers are level 15 and, as is usual for enemies in this game by now, entirely combat specialized. The players are unlikely to be any more than 10th level, and will probably have invested in utility skills as well, so they're probably going to get, as usual, fucking sliced wide open.

I'd also like to point out that after EVERY combat forced by the adventure module, it starts off the post-combat description with "IF THE PARTY IS ALIVE." If the party isn't alive, the GM and module writer have fucked up, that's what. You chode.

So, the LOYALTY path in this adventure is basically being sent from location to location with a fight at each location, or between each location. It's pretty dull. What about the BETRAYAL path? If they hand over the scroll to Mr. Level 20? Well, much the same, but more interesting since, rather than being arbitrarily ambushed at various points, the players are initiating the fights and, seeing them coming, can be more creative with use of their non-combat skills and gear in easing the way. For instance, killing loyalist guards before they can remove their corrupt captain. Or infiltrating a castle to make sure the gates are open and the defenders disorganized in advance of the bad guys' attack proper. The fights are generally also better balanced and less likely to end in TPK's, both because they're not surprise ambushes and because, well, the enemies aren't always numerically superior and higher level than the PC's.

They've also got a way more powerful wizard buddy this time, level 55. Anyone the players can't take down, he can probably either soften up for them, or straight-up nuke from the back row. But in this case, instead of the final fight being in a wizard's study, they're busting into the royal palace and killing the king's guards so the wizard can make an evil clone of him that will serve the bad guys. Surprisingly enough, the bad guys actually keep all their promises and BETRAYAL players get pretty much the same rewards as LOYALIST players.

Buddies with the king, land, titles, money and basically no reason to ever leave any longer unless they want to fire crossbow bolts at passing peasants for chuckles.

What a garbage fucking "adventure." Which I'll note will just hard lock if the players neither pass the spot checks in the dead merchant's room, or stabilize him enough to tell them where the scroll is the next day.

Addendum: I want to point out that when I mentioned to the author that the PC's could bypass a lot of his encounters just by sailing from Southampton to London, he expressed surprise that London wasn't landlocked. Yes. He didn't know what the River Thames was. This man trying to write a more or less historically accurate RPG about England.

~PurpleXVI

[#] MIDDENARDE - PART 5
02:12pm EST - 12/12/2016
Looking back to see what you can break the game with, I also noticed that the knack Trailblazer, which improves the party's travel speed(not under any particular conditions or after any check), just straight increases travel speed by 25% for the entire party. There's no party size limit, there's no "isn't cumulative"-note. The average walking speed is ~3.1mph, however, it doesn't say this is our travel speed with any particular method of travel.
So, you know, fuck it. Think of the fastest medieval method of travel you can, a bunch of fast horses, sailing ships, or, hell, the 250 years ahead we can go with Anachronism. What was the fastest method of travel invented in the year 1700? Then tell me how many Trailblazers we'd need to propel that method of travel past the speed of sound, or light, or some other arbitrary absurd barrier. How about escape velocity?

potatocubed posted:

Assuming a nice slow stroll of 3 mph (converted to 4.8 kph) and an increase of +25% with each Trailblazer, a group of 41 people would clock 45,138 kph -- which is 12.5 km/s, which is just slightly faster than the 11.2 km/s required to achieve escape velocity at sea level.

I did some sums with some super-fast 1700s ships too but it only dropped the group size down to ~32. It's probably easier to grab another 10 Trailblazers than it is to buy a ship, so.

Green Intern posted:

So if I fired off one arrow, then rolled a 17 on my Visual Acuity check, I'd find two arrows?

Bonus!

ZeroCount posted:

In the grim darkness of Middle Ages Europe a small duchy is terrorized by local Birdlord who keeps sending his swarm of Trailblazer pigeons to join the parties of hapless travellers and immediately propel them into the stratosphere

ZeroCount posted:

Every time I try to put out a warrant for the Birdlord's head a crow appears outside my window and psychoanalyses me so hard that I spend 2d6 hours as a completely helpless wreck.

Middenarde



I apologize for starting off so many of these posts with quotes, but I some of these comments really help illustrate the bonkers shit in Middenarde, and it'd be a shame if they weren't in the archive, too. Thanks for helping make this review entertaining!

8 - SETTING



WHORES WHORES WHORES posted:

Towns and cities still found walls important even after their defensive use had waned because they forced citizens to use the gate, so their governments could tax and monitor trade going in, and pass useful laws controlling who did what where. For instance, cities banned whoring within their walls, or dictated that all brothels must be within one street of a certain gate.

What is it with RPG's and rules/trivia about whores, harlots and wanton doxies?

quote:

Rather than the fantasy staple of town guards ringing a bell and shouting “twelve o’clock and all’s well,” most big towns and cities had proper bands who would play brief musical bars every hour on the hour to let people know the time, and remind them the guards were still on duty.

I am in no way enough of a history buff to know how much of this stuff is true, so I'm counting on some passing good samaritan to do my work for me, and really just posting the things that seem almost hard to believe. Also Dear God, some of this is useful to know, like which names were commonly in use, in order to give a different atmosphere to a 1450's England than a 2000's England, but then we start drifting into irrelevant garbage like who takes whose name after marriage. And why the fuck are you dropping irrelevant trivia on what underwear peasants own? REALLY, THIS IS IN THE .PDF.

Peasant Pants posted:

The average peasant farmer wore a loose collarless shirt or undershirt of cotton, hemp, or linen, with either no underpants or loose linen or hemp underpants with open flies front and back, held up with string or linen ribbons. Undershirts often went down to the knee and split into two tails at the groin, so they fulfilled the role of underpants. They were often worn to bed.

Trousers would have traditionally been made in two parts, knee length mains and detachable lower legs that can be removed so they don’t get wet or muddy during messy work, but at this point one-piece trousers were starting to come back into fashion. Wealthier peasants would wear knee britches and woolen tights, to imitate the fashion amongst the aristocracy and wealthy merchants.

WHY WOULD ANYONE NEED TO KNOW THIS FOR THE PURPOSE OF AN RPG. When the players crash through a peasant's bedroom because they brought too many Trailblazers and their experimental tank made out of tower shields went too fast, he'll either be wearing pants because no one wants to look at his poxy balls, or he'll not be wearing pants because it's being played for comedy. We don't need to know which is more realistic.

Cock of the walk posted:

The more phallic you could make your footwear the manlier a man you were, although the priesthood threw a fit about shoes with points so long they turned back over to touch the top of the shoes, referring to them as the “devil’s claws.” When the nobles and merchants started wearing pointy shoes with testicle shaped bells, the priests declared it to be a sign of the end times. No one cared about this until peasants started to do it, at which point the nobility decided that whilst very phallic footwear for nobles is fine, if it spread to the lower classes it will eat away at their moral fibre and cause chaos, and the fashion ended overnight. This is why by Tudor times stylish shoes are square-cut at the toe.

I... okay, I know sometimes crazy shit happens sometimes. But this just sounds too bugfuck insane and apocryphal to be real. But, even assuming it was real, why would it matter, if your GM is spending his time describing how much the blacksmith's shoes look like cocks, it's time to start inching slowly away from him at the table, by the time he starts in on the testicles bells, you can probably dive out the window with only moderately crippling cuts and run down the street.

90% of this section is just utterly irrelevant trivia about clothes, names, titles and warfare. Well, I guess the warfare might not be totally irrelevant... except that there are no rules for mass combat or war in the main .PDF or any of the others. So if you wanted any sort of proper war campaign, you'd need to abstract like crazy, make shit up, or roll those potentially 10 times for every single member of a 500-man force involved in a fight... and their numerically similar opponents, too. And the two-hundred war dogs the PC's bring to the fight. There are a few relevant bits, like mentioning that medieval medicine wasn't very advanced and was composed of 90% leechcraft... but then a bunch of pointless trivia about what diet a physician will prescribe if you're tired and have no sex drive(mostly onions).

Butt medicine posted:

Suppositories, made of drugs mixed with beeswax or tallow, are good for patients who need a slow release of drugs to cure an ongoing, long term illness. If someone is too weak to feed themselves a doctor should try liquefying their food, adding some medicine, and pouring it down their throat. If that fails, a large funnel can be used to “feed” the patient via their anus; if they can’t keep their food down without it coming up again, just pour it in the other way and hope that helps.

Because what I need to know for an engaging game in an interesting setting isn't about any on-going conflicts or dramatic cases that could be used as examples or quest hooks, instead I need to know when the local witch doctor is going to jam a funnel into my character's ass and pour chopped onions in there. There's a lot on the horrors of medieval surgery and amputations... somewhat mollified by the fact that we know that if our character loses a leg, prosthetics will make him walk as good as new. This gets all of four pages, while religion barely gets two. Because ass funnels are more likely to drive medieval adventures than, you know, the fucking Church.

There's also some TERRIBLE focus, the section with the medicine is known as "Food and Medicine," then we get the Church section, and then after that a Meals section. Wouldn't that have fit better under Food and Medicine? The religion section, of course, wastes no time in telling us where whores a legal and what they're called. Thank you, Middenarde, thank you. I don't particularly mind that there's a chapter on "meals," though, again, what was historically eaten could be a nice bit of flavour for a game that actually tries to be historically accurate. You know, assuming that this game in any way succeeded at that. I'd also like to point out that the "setting" section only focuses on England. Not even the British Isles in general, no Scotland, no Wales, no Ireland, literally just England. Not even goddamn France.

Not sure we needed the "schedules," section, either, since it just tells us that people wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to work, eat dinner, go to bed in the evening.

JEW MAGICS posted:

Magic was believed to exist, many church scholars claim to have memorized the true names of devils as laid down by Solomon, and thus can command them to do God’s bidding and leave good Christians alone. One bishop of York claimed to have a fairy manservant, also bound in a similar way. After the 1480s, the church quietly cracks down on these claims, mostly for being based in Jewish Cabbala. After the 1480s alchemy is largely also left to the Jewish minority of Europe, but of course anything useful alchemists find becomes the property of trade guilds, particularly any advance in metalworking. Jewish alchemists in Prague in the 1460s experimenting with lead will stumble upon adding antinomy, making lead hard enough to cast into letters that hold their shape, and so inventing mobile type, a technology that Jews are promptly banned from using, and kick-starting the Renaissance. These intellectual forms of magic in England existed only within fringe groups of the church, which at this point includes all the universities.

Wait, is he saying that type-casting and printing are "intellectual forms of magic"? These wandering paragraphs are a wonder.

GM's Guide



The GM's Guide is relatively short, so I figured I'd have it here at the end of the main book and then do the Adventure Modules book on its own afterwards.

What is the GM? posted:

The GM is not playing to win. A tabletop campaign is not merely an asymmetrical game that the Game Master is attempting to achieve victory in. A Game Master has absolute control over the proceedings and therefore must exercise restraint. In truth, the GM is not even constrained by the rules laid out in any of the books. You may strike your own path if you so choose, so long as your players find it fun. That is the only goal you are really trying to achieve: to give your players a good time.

The GM is not his or her players’ master. They can walk away at any time and are under no obligation to put up with you. When the relationship between the GM and his or her players turns from arbitrating to adversarial, or even antagonistic, games fall apart. Remember, you as the GM have total control only over how the game is played, not over the people who play it. Concessions may be necessary to keep them entertained, so long as they do not attempt to run the show through you. You should not attempt to impose your uncompromising vision on them if they don’t enjoy it; why should they stay if they’re not enjoying themselves?

As much shit as I give the writer of Middenarde, this is a good pair of paragraphs, and in general, the section on how it's the GM's roles to adjudicate and arbitrate, to keep everyone having fun, not just one person(and especially not if that one person is himself), to stay prepared, to be the guy who keeps track of the rules, is pretty solid. Wouldn't quite be Middenarde without some sketchy stuff in there, though, would it now?

Oops posted:

In general, Middenarde allows for and even encourages characters to be manipulated and fought just like NPCs, and conflict might be resolved in-character through a duel, but if tempers grow heated, it is up to the GM to intervene and resolve matters.

This seems to suggest that PC's are subject to social skills just like NPC's. That's always a horrible idea. Never take away player agency that way, and especially don't let another player take away a player's agency, because once that shit is going down, unless one of them agrees that it would be an interesting situation or whatever... you've almost certainly got some antagonism going that's gonna be hard to tone down. But reading this section, for the most part, you get the impression that the writer has played in his fair share of games(probably even GM'ed a lot of them, considering how much he lauds the GM for being such an amazing and important person willing to do all the truly hard work...), some of which met painful ends due to drama, bad GM's or scheduling issues, and is trying to help future GM's avoid those things.

90% of the rest of the book is just a bunch of pre-made NPC and animal/monster enemies. This place does confirm that "Hyperborea" exists, however, since it's apparently where Griffons come from. Why not tell us something about that place, jackass? Seems more interesting than Cockboot County in England. And then a bunch of gems with magical powers like "is made from piss"(no other qualities) and "can cure any disease." In fact most of these gems are related to curing poisons and diseases, it gets a bit same-ish.

But, at least the GM's Guide got us another sweet piece of cover art. Could've been worse!

~PurpleXVI

[#] MIDDENARDE - PART 4
02:03pm EST - 12/12/2016

ZeroCount posted:

Middenarde might have the worst gap between theme and mechanics that I've ever seen.

Theme: It is a harsh and gritty world. Life is short. You will not prosper.
Mechanics: Revive the dead with batteries. Erase yourself from the memories of others. Kill a man by calling him fat.

hyphz posted:

Also a Watt is a measurement of energy over time - a joule/second. If you're Frankensteining it up that is usually portrayed as a delivered in a single instant in which case you'd need less than 20 joules to raise the dead, which you could probably get just by sliding the body down a hill since the rule doesn't say the power has to be in the form of electricity.

If it has to be over time then you'd need a big ass battery even if you were using lightning, because a bolt's peak of 1TW for an instant will blow anything else.

Don't get scientific terms in your fiction, guys.

Middenarde



Now, what we've all been waiting for... to see how high-mortality our high-mortality game really is!

7 - COMBAT


Timg'd because it's page-breakingly wide. Open it up, though, it looks awesome.

7.3.1 Normal Attack posted:

A normal attack may be made as a full-round action with either a melee or ranged weapon. The attacker declares a target, and then enters the attack phase as per section 7.4.

I mean, actually attacking someone is relatively simple, as it turns out, but the writing does everything it can to make EVERYTHING sound more complex and technical than it is.

STILL ATTACKING posted:

Arrows that hit targets may be recovered by picking them up. A Visual Acuity check (DC 16) will return a number of missed arrows equal to the roll minus the DC, plus one. A ranged weapon will take damage as though it hit even if it doesn’t hit, so roll the weapon’s damage dice regardless.

We're getting fifty kinds of garbage bookkeeping rules before we get to actually learning how to finish off our damn attacks. I don't give a shit about my arrows, just let me know how to hit someone. Also joke's on you if you think that's the next thing you're gonna read because you're at point 7.3.1 and attacks are just over at 7.4! Because there's another 22 subheadings in the way. And then we get to the actual attacking because I skip all of the fucking idiot intervening points and I want to get to the action. I'm instructed that an attack consists of rolling the ATTACK DICE POOL vs the EVASION DICE POOL. I've never been told what these are. Scroll back, find rules for INCREASING the pools, but not what they start at, realize that it's yet another thing only shown on the fucking online character sheet.

Either pool starts at a single D6, and you can invest in increasing your pool(by adding a d4, though keep in mind, for weapons, it's only for a single type of weapon, you have a separate pool for each type!), or bumping up one of your dice in the pool to the next level(d4 to d6, d6 to d8, d8 to d10, and that's the max). When rolled, the pool totals are ignored, and instead the two highest dice are compared to each other in value. Ties resolve in favour of the defender, and if the attacker rolls poorly enough, the defender gets a free counter-attack. Though no word on whether this can, in itself, trigger another counter-attack if flubbed badly enough, trapping two characters in an eternal loop of missing each other.

Now, if we hit someone, we roll 3d6 to determine hit location(rather than just using 3d6+static modifiers from skills as our initial attack, allowing us to determine the hit location and whether or not we hit in one go.), then we roll damage(both to our weapon and our enemy/our enemy's armor. Also as far as I can see, shield bashing is almost always aa more effective weapon than, well, actually using a weapon), assuming our damage penetrates, we then apply damage to the location we hit, and to our opponent's total vitality points, calculate whether we sever or cripple a limb, make a second attack and dodge roll if there's enough damage to sever to determine if we do sever the limb, and if we do sever a "minor" limb or a head, the defender may additionally choose to roll to only lose part of that hit location rather than all of it(also bafflingly, it's harder to cripple a bodypart than it is to entirely cut it off?). And then we may also have to roll for bleeding.

So, in a worst case scenario, for a single attack defense, assuming no infinite counter-attack loop, we're going to be rolling 2(attack and evasion) + 2(counterattack + evasion) + 1(hit location) + 1(damage) + 2(extra attack and evade to determine severing) + 1(losing a minor part rather than severing) + 1(bleeding) = 10 rolls for a single attack. And we have to alter weapon durability, armor durability, maybe VP and potentially stats(from losing body parts) with every attack, so at least 2 values, possibly 4.

And that worst-case scenario isn't even particularly unlikely. We can assume that there's no counter-attack, which would at least reduce the rolls by 2, but almost every sharp weapon can cause severing and bleeding, and all of them have the damage values necessary to sever a limb if you don't fuck up the roll completely. The game does live up to high mortality, though, if you aren't wearing any armor, most weapons can kill you in two blows(or one if they lop off a limb and you bleed to death, or just cut your head wide open). Of course, that's assuming you ever get hit, if you've got a pavise(which is also one of the best possible weapons, damage-value-wise, except that shields sadly don't get any special attack knacks), you're unlikely to ever get hit by anyone since that gives you a 2d10 to block attacks with(rather than using your evasion pool).

Also for the cost of either of the two most powerful weapons(great axes or two-handed swords), which do tops 2d8+8 or 2d6+6 damage, you can buy two attack dogs, each of which can do 2d6 damage. And there's an Animal Handler knack that allows you to permanently upgrade an animal's attack damage(+1) and its attack dice(adding to the pool or simply increasing the dice it attacks with), meaning that the optimal strategy is to hide behind two pavises while a swarm of dogs(or bears, you can train wild animals, too, at that knack level), does all the fighting for you. To speed things up, the Animal Handler then trains a bird(I'm not shitting you, you can do this) to be an animal handling assistant of his own skill level. It can do all the animal training while he's out, and when he's back training some particularly difficult wild animal, it can assist him, boosting his own animal handling by 50%. The only thing slightly limiting the power of an animal trainer is that there are cumulative penalties to training the same animal over and over, but considering that dogs are already pretty powerful and just need to be better at hitting... no great issue(considering how cheap cats are, though, they may be more cost-effective because enough attacks will eventually break ANY armor or fortification).

Sadly, it doesn't specifically say that the bird also gets the knacks allowing it to boost animal combat stats, only that it gets the trainer's skill points, otherwise you could entirely farm out the entire process to a bunch of hawks or pigeons. But you could teach a bird to be a surgeon, a blacksmith, a wizard, an alchemist... any non-combat skill, really. So if you can catch enough birds and train them, you can replace paid human labour with free bird labour. Just as long as you don't teach any of them Mercantile so they can negotiate for better wages. I'd also like to note that "Heft," the skill for increasing carrying capacity, is non-combat, so with enough personal ranks in it, and enough birds to train, you could create, say, a flying fortress, or an airship. Or just get carried everywhere by your trained blacksmith birds.

But anyway, sorry for that aside. Back to combat. If you lose your arms, it sucks. If you lose your head or torso, you die. If you lose your legs, don't worry, you'll be penalized while missing them, but medieval prosthetics will restore full functionality, according to the game's rules.

There are also optional morale rules, but any group of 17 or more, with a leader, will never retreat. Alternately, anyone who can see 9 or more allies on the field, will never retreat either. Because literally the only modifier for morale rolls is how many men the leader is commanding, or how many friends you can see, not how many of your buddies just got gorily disembowelled. Did you start out at 500 men and just watch the remaining 491 get demolished by a horde of dogs and birds, lead by a madman on the back of a bear huddling beneath two shields? Doesn't matter! There are still nine of you left, you're invincible!

Zereth posted:

I wonder if it actually has rules for losing limbs in the combat section.

Does it EVER. The only thing preventing you from relatively easily lopping off someone's arm with an ordinary knife is that daggers lack the "severing" tag. Pretty much any axe or sword hit that actually HITS, if it hits someone unarmoured, is extremely likely to chop something off unless it hits the torso, which has a comparatively high(but definitely not insurmountable) threshold to being lopped in half. I can post the numbers, if people care.

~PurpleXVI

[#] MIDDENARDE - PART 3
01:59pm EST - 12/12/2016
NOTE: A couple of these posts will be pre-faced with quotes from the original Something Awful thread, when someone posted something that I thought was too funny not to include in the review itself. So you're going to have to deal with my shitty sense of humour. Nerds.

ZeroCount posted:

So what I'm hearing is that Middenarde is terrible at being the shitfarmer game it pretends it is but it is actually quite serviceable for playing Exalted.

EDIT: "Okay so the plan is for Jim to hide the river, forcing the invading army to a standstill. While they're stopped Joe and Sam will let themselves get captured so they can brought in front of the enemy general. Joe will then flip it around so they are all in jail instead of him and Sam will take advantage of their surprise to instakill all of them perfectly. They will then make their escape over the hidden river using the motorboat I just built."

EDIT2: "Also you have to tell me whether this plan is a good idea or not."

I'm quoting this for the express purpose of getting it into the F&F archive, because it made me cackle like a madman when I read it.

Middenarde


4 - KNACKS

We're still on Knacks, about halfway through, let's see if there's anything else interesting in there.

Miraculous Savior posted:

Requirements: Heal VI

Some say Jesus Christ healed the lame, but you can keep them from becoming lame in the first place. Up to an hour after a body part is severed, you can reattach it with a successful Heal check (DC 18) and apply a poultice of herbs. Note that it will be nonfunctional for a month, and you must perform an additional check with a DC of 12 for them to ever regain full feeling in the limb. The target must be alive for this to work. No doctor capable of this feat can explain it.

Confounding the Grim Reaper posted:

Requirements: Heal VI, Miraculous Savior

You have exceeded the expectations of your profession to accomplish the one thing thought entirely impossible: cheating death. With a set of Crafting Tools designed for this one purpose only, you can bring back to life anyone dead for less than a day, or a week if their body is kept cool. The process takes two hours, and only succeeds on a successful Heal check of DC 20. You must also have a power source (of at least 20 Watts, or 125 thousand potato batteries) to restart the brain. The recently revived are restored to 1 VP and remember nothing from the moment of their death to their resurrection, as though no time had passed. You cannot revive anyone who was beheaded, bisected, or died of natural causes or disease.

Low. Fantasy. Adventures. With. High. Mortality.

You know, unless Doctor fucking Frankenstein is in your goddamn party! Good thing you don't have to wait for a thunderstorm, either, because the guy with Anachronism can build a simple battery and the wizard can cast Lightning Bolt on the machinery. Meanwhile, over on the Influence side of the Knacks, we're continuing with the "why do I need a fucking feat for this shit?"-trend from the combat knacks, as you need special knacks to piss people off, intimidate them or distract them. How would you ever do any of this without special training. Also, seeming harmless so you'll be ignored in combat requires healing skill as a prerequisite, rather than any sort of acting talent.

Suggestion posted:

Requirements: Influence VI, Skilled Manipulator

You’re so charismatic, people tend to do what you ask without thinking twice. With this knack, you automatically succeed on Influence checks against people who are capable of understanding you and of friendly disposition towards you. A friendly disposition is at the GM’s discretion and may constitute being in a good mood, feelings of respect or admiration, a previous acquaintanceship, etc. The knack Skilled Manipulator may be useful.

Also hey there, mind control! Obviously still limited by the limits on the Influence skill I noted in, I think, the very first post, that is that it really can't twist people's intentions THAT far, but anyone who doesn't hate you will magically do anything that they could be technically bribed into doing, now, for free. Skilled Manipulator, the prereq that it states may be useful, has the effect of people not knowing that you just manipulated them. Now, I have to point out, that most people, if they know you're fucking with them to get them riled up, or angry, or sad, or to make them ignore you or go along with what you're saying, won't do it. Much of that shit only works because people are unaware of the manipulation. So what happens without Skilled Manipulator for all those other skills? Do people go along with it for a minute, realize you were a fuckface, then keep all the gold you bribed them with and not do what you said after all?

For that matter, Influence is affected by bribing people, and it's still an influence check when you are, for instance, trying to incite them to violence and get them angry. Is that fluffed as throwing your wallet at their face over and over? Flicking gold coins at their nose until they get really pissed? It's the same for intimidate. The Investigation skills, again, start in on the whole "why do I need a feat for this?"-thing.

quote:

You can tell what left that mark. By succeeding on an Investigation check at the GM’s discretion, you can determine through the properties of a mark or blemish, exactly what caused it. The scuff of a boot versus a shoe, what type of knife blade nicked it, and what profession would have wielded such a blade, how heavy or strong the person or thing marking it may have been, et cetera.

Then again, other times you get to literally REWIND TIME.

quote:

Seeing into the past can sometimes be more useful than the future. With this knack, you can systematically rewind a room by rearranging it, so that you can get a clear image of how it looked at some point in the past. The DC is how many hours in the past you wish to reconstruct it, minus how many hours it has been since it was last disturbed (or days, if the room is rarely touched). This can give you an idea of who did what in it, even re-staging events.

There's a knack that's required to hear stuff that you haven't specifically declared that you're trying to listen in on, a set of knacks that build up to literal echolocation. Seven skillpoints into lockpicking, you finally get to even attempt to disarm traps. Actually knowing what stuff is worth is also a knack roughly that distance up the Mercantilism tree. And the apex-level Mercantilism ability is literal mind control, if they fail the initial roll and you sell them something "for a favor," they have to complete that favor. They can be annoyed at you and unwilling to go along with future bargains, but as per how its written, they're "bound" to complete the task for you. Psychology lets you just steal your opponent's combat abilities, even if you've never seen them displayed, just BAM, now you know them as well as he does and can use them against him... or anyone, in fact, it doesn't actually list an expiry point for these "mimicked" knacks. The only requirement is that they're learned from your "opponent."

So I guess the "optimal" strategy is to have one combat monster character, and everyone else just focuses on psychology so they can copy whatever he learns by sparring with him, because someone you're sparring with is technically an opponent. Then afterwards you call his mom a whore and he keels over for 12 hours, crying to himself while you walk away.

Crippling Word posted:

Requirements: Psychology VI, Disrupt Concentration, Mimic

Nothing is more devastating than effective emotional manipulation. With a DC of 20 + their ranks in Willpower, you may make a Psychology check (with a +3 bonus from a successful Sense Weakness) to deliver such a vehement and toxic insult that whomever receives it is turned into a sobbing wreck. They are unable to do anything on their own but defend themselves from attack for 2d6 hours.

Also since all they can do is "defend themselves from attack," that would imply that they can't, for instance, swim. So if you use this on someone trying to swim a river, they'll sink weeping to the bottom and drown.

Just A Rat posted:

Requirements: Stealth IV, Shadow-Walker

It’s a natural assumption that if you can’t find someone, they’ve probably buggered off somewhere else. And you have to let your guard down some time. With this knack, anyone who spotted you has forgotten about you within an hour. If you leave the area and return, they will not be looking for you.

It's a shame so many of these knacks are attached to a bad system that loudly declares it wants to do the opposite of delivering this kind of absurd fun. Because some of these aren't actually BAD. Mimic could, with some limits, be interesting. This seems like an amazing stealth apex power. Crippling Word is a great way to give a social character, a somewhat overpowered, way to join in combat. In any case, the remaining knacks are just boring +x bonuses, so I'm gonna skip those.



5 - EQUIPMENT

This isn't gonna be a very interesting chapter, though I want to note that there are eight kinds of polearms, but only one type of bow(no difference between longbows and shortbows). Also everything you're wielding will inevitably fall apart, armor and weapons both, just from natural use. Because truly, the most compelling part of any game is to track your fucking equipment's HP with every swing you make. This chapter also encourages the GM to track how much PC's are eating and drinking, and whether or not they should suffer penalties from dehydration or malnutrition. At least the different kinds of food and drink don't have different hydration values and nutrition values.

Herbs posted:

All herbs weigh ¼ unit and cost 8d, and take 2 MH to craft. They can be used to treat wounds by making a Heal check with a DC equal to the number of VP the patient has lost to determine which humours are imbalanced. The physician then applies a poultice of the correct herbs, made using a mortar and pestle (½ MH), and the patient gains 1 bonus VP while resting for each different herb applied. If no mortar and pestle is available, the herbs can be applied raw at one third effectiveness.

We also clearly needed stats for nine different breeds of dog and three different breeds of cat. As a happy note, cats can't kill you in a single attack, it'll take at least five, or three if they're hitting your head. It took me a while to figure this out, since your maximum and starting Vitality Points are listed nowhere in the .PDF, instead being hidden away on the pre-made character sheet. If that character sheet ever gets taken down or removed, the players are shit outta luck. In the course of trying to find this out, I also noted that actually attacking someone, is the 28th sub-heading in the Combat chapter, rather than, say, the first or second. Also, a bite from a dog will do more damage than getting stabbed with a shortsword or getting impaled by a javelin. In fact, dogs are fucking dangerous in this game, you'd rather be beaten by a mace or eat an arrow from a bow than getting bitten by a dog.

This is also the chapter that has the spells, and they are literally D&D spells. Fireball, Owl's Wisdom, Lightning Bolt, Flying, Invisibility, Hold Person, Haste, Blink... thoroughly unimaginative. When I pointed this out to the creator, he told me that this game was actually a hobby that he'd been working on for the last 7 years, and that none of the friends who'd played it had EVER complained about this, so clearly I was wrong.



6 - PLAYING THE GAME

This chapter starts off with some of the dullest details on carrying and lifting capacity I've ever read. Do some people actually enjoy this sort of petty bookkeeping bullshit in their PnP RPG's? Oh and also there are luck points, which we get a finite amount of, one for each level-up, non-recoverable unless GM arbitration says we get some. They can be used for rerolls and for healing less HP than a day of rest, so they don't really do THAT much to tip the balance considering how sparse they are.

KNOWN AS LEVELING UP posted:

A character’s skill progression is modeled through the gaining of levels. A level is gained when a character receives enough XP to pass a threshold known as XPTNL, and they receive eight hours of sleep. The character’s XP is then reset to zero, and they receive a new XPTNL equal to 9 plus the square of the character’s level. This is explained in more detail in section 2.2.

When a character gains a new level, a process known as “leveling up,”

I've literally never read a more spergy description of gaining XP and leveling up. Jesus Christ.

Malnutrition posted:

You can’t survive off of hardtack or travel rations forever. Characters need to eat real food or they will suffer adverse effects from a limited diet. Every time a character eats a meal, they should make a 3d6 nutrition check with the DC listed for that food. If they succeed, they suffer no adverse effects. Otherwise, they must make a note of how many checks they have failed, in total, since the last time they had a filling meal, and suffer all of the appropriate penalties:

Oh and the malnutrition penalties are permanent. Generally this chapter is nothing but petty ways for a GM to hunt you for not being omniscient. "Ah, but you only bought NORMAL pants at chargen! Now there's a blizzard and you don't have fur pants! Roll to save vs hypothermia!" "Roll to save vs dysentery!" "Roll to save vs malnutrition!"

Dysentery posted:

Dysentery can be contracted from tainted foods or water. At the GM’s discretion, he or she may secretly roll a 3d6 when a player consumes food or water and determine whether they suffer dysentery

Also on average, any food you don't cook yourself seems to have roughly a 50% chance of giving you dysentery, which has a very real chance of killing your character. The section on how the GM can kill you with dysentery, malaria, smallpox and syphilis is bookended by the rules for throwing objects at stationary targets(or willing catchers) at one end, and the rules for attacking a stationary target at the far end.

Combat rules coming up in the next post. Let's see how HIGH MORTALITY this game gets.

~PurpleXVI

[#] MIDDENARDE - PART 2
01:55pm EST - 12/12/2016
Middenarde





4 - KNACKS

Knacks are similar to feats, in that they're abilities with skill-prerequisites(and sometimes feat prerequisites) that give you new abilities that are, generally, meant to be more interesting than a generic +1 to doing a thing. In Middenarde, you get these, but at each level-up, you can get a +1 to a skill, or you can get a Knack, so good luck ever getting many of these especially considering that some require over ten skill points invested purely in combat abilities and prerequisite combat Knacks. In other words, despite the creator's comments about how characters are meant to not be hyper-specialized(despite no rules preventing this, like, say, separate combat and non-combat skill point pools), there are obviously skills made for hyper-specialized characters, which can only be attained by hyper-specialized characters.

To get an idea of how much specializing they'd require, getting the "apex" sword Knack would require 15 points. You get a minimum of 10 XP per session, with suggested 20XP for a session in which they actually accomplish something, 50 for hard goals. So let's assume that you get 30XP per session, since some are just shooting the shit, others involve minor goals, and some involve major goals. To get to level 14(because we get 1 free skill point at first level) we need...

10+13+18+25+34+45+58+73+90+109+130+154+178+205... 1142XP. Divided by 30, that's 38 sessions of play where you invest in NOTHING but combat skills. Even if we assume the GM is super generous and the game fast-paced, with 50 XP per session, that's something like 22 sessions of specializing in nothing but combat, if someone wants to beeline for that knack. And if they don't beeline for it, damn, it's gonna take them a long time to get there.

Now, if we look at the actual knacks themselves...

Middenarde posted:

Parrier Seeking the Flaws

Hang on a mome-

Middenarde posted:

Subduing the Honored Foe
Tenacity of the Final Warrior
Two Birds with One Spear
Crashing Wave Blow
Kangaroo and Child

Okay, we get it, you like Exalted(and what the hell do kangaroos have to do with spear combat...). I wasn't expecting DRAMATIC MARTIAL ARTS STYLE NAMES in my SHITFARMER: THE DYING RPG, though. Anyway, the first thing that I notice, aside from the crazy requirements and the stupid names, is the imbalance in knack distribution. Swords have PILES of them, six pages, while blunt weapons, spears, daggers, flails and axes have only two each. Considering that some are just renamings of the same basic attack, like a knockdown for swords and a knockdown for blunt weapons, why not just combine some of those into a general "melee combat" knack tree, and have some of the branches be specialized per weapon?

There's also no overview of the skill tree anywhere, or even alphabetic organization, so if you want to find the prerequisite for a Knack you really like, prepare for some paging back and forth. We also get to revisit 3.5th edition D&D's Fighter feats in the sense that stuff that should just be basic abilities, gets gated behind investing in Knacks. For instance, keeping enemies at bay with a spear, that is, getting an attack against them if they try to charge past the point of your weapon, requires a Knack.

Opportunistic Attack posted:

Requirements: Readiness I, Specialization: Spear II

The extended reach of your spear can keep foes from getting anywhere near you. Whenever an opponent attacks you with a non-Reach, non-ranged weapon, you may counterattack them as long as you are using a spear. Your counterattack occurs before their attack. This knack can be used as many times per day as you have ranks in Readiness.

I'm sorry but this is the fucking basic POINT of a spear, so essentially polearms can't even be used for their intended purpose without investing four skill points(three for prereqs, one for the knack.) into them, and reading on you can get the exact same ability with a dagger. There's a similar feat for getting an advantage when using polearms against mounted enemies. Similarly, it takes eight skill points(six skills, two knacks) to get to knock people down with a blunt weapon. You can only get an advantage for attacking someone from behind if you're using a dagger(and then again, only with knacks)...

Pincushion posted:

Requirements: Heal I, Specialization: Dagger IV

Knowing where important nerves are on the body, you can target them in a way that works much like a form of Western acupuncture. Whenever you hit an opponent with a dagger, you can choose to leave the dagger in the limb, rendering it inoperative until it is removed (as though picked up). The limb is treated as though crippled. You can only use this knack on minor and major limbs.

I'll be honest here, I've never been stabbed with a knife, but I suspect that you don't need special skills to not pull your weapon out after stabbing someone, and that generally having a knife through your arm will discourage you from using it even if it's not in a special nerve cluster. I mean, really, just getting a glass splinter in my foot is enough to discourage me from using it until its removed. Normally I wouldn't complain about this, but in a game that prides itself on HIGH MORTALITY and REALISM? Fuck off. Continuing on with daggers, they might be the best weapon, seeing as how they can copy spears in keeping enemies at bay and also get to instantly kill anyone.

Really.

Gentle Embrace of Death posted:

Requirements: Specialization: Dagger V, Stealth III, Backstab

Getting into a protracted and noisy fight is sometimes undesirable. From a hidden position, you can roll a Stealth check versus Visual Acuity against an opponent. If you succeed, you stab that opponent in the back of the neck with your dagger, disabling them. They will choke to death on their own blood, and die within 6 minutes, blacking out in 3 minutes. Anyone in the room can roll a Listen check (DC 10) to hear them.

As long as you're not spotted, you can kill anyone, regardless of HP, armor or what they are. An elephant? A dragon? Beelzebub? As long as they don't see you coming, they're dead within six minutes. There also doesn't seem to be anything that really defines a "hidden position," so presumably it just means that you, personally, are not being seen by the target. Just need someone else to distract your victim in combat and it's an in-combat instakill, too.

There's a ranged skill that allows you to attach things to your arrows as long as they weigh "less than a half-unit." Checking the list of equipment, this means that you cannot, for instance, use this skill to attach a rope(weighs two units) and fire it over some battlements, or in fact, anything of utility. The only things you can attach to your arrow is a torch, gunpowder vials, some articles of clothing, knuckle dusters or darts. So it's effectively useless for "utility" purposes, but at no point does it write whether firing a pair of knuckle dusters at someone's dumb face adds the knuckle dusters' damage to the arrow or what effect it might have.

It just gets dumber the farther we get into the chapter, mind you. For instance, we've got an entire skill devoted to nothing but rope use... but knacks for things like rope snares also exist for Animal Handling, making it an even more purposeless niche talent.

At this point I'd also like to address the magic in the game. Namely: It feels like the author forgot 90% of the rules for them. There's the Attunement talent, and there are spells in potions and on scrolls later, there are Attunement knacks related to memorizing spells, but nowhere is there even a single page with an overview on magic and its effects and how it works. There's a knack that lets me memorize a spell from a scroll and cast it at will, which "counts as a use on the scroll," but nowhere does it seem to say that scrolls have limited uses, or even what the limited number of uses is. The scrolls appear to have "Man Hours" for crafting listed, but there's no crafting skill to craft them with, unless that's assumed to be Literature or Exotic.

All I can really find that references the functioning of scrolls is the specific spells on them, and what they do, and that you need Attunement to read a scroll off a spell, but then it also says that you need Craft: Literature(Runes) to do it in the first place!

Attunement posted:

Easy: Identifying the purpose of a potion.
Intermediate: Sensing the presence of a magical item in the room.
Hard: Casting a spell from a scroll with Craft: Literature (Runes).

After searching everywhere I eventually give up and search for "runes" in the .PDF, and finally find where the actual scroll/spellcasting rules are... sandwiched as a single paragraph in the Equipment chapter, between Pets and Potions. It turns out that scrolls have four uses per rank, and apparently the only purpose to "memorizing" a scroll is that it's necessary for copying it, and also that it lets you have your hands free while casting the contents... since it still consumes a use of the scroll. Also for some reason, the more uses and the higher quality a scroll has, the harder it is to actually use(the DC increases. For instance, for a highest-level, "Glowing" scroll, you'd need to pass an Attunement DC of 18 and a Craft: Literature(Runes) DC of 22, but if the scroll is basically on its last legs, the DC's would only be 3 and 7, respectively, instead. Why? You'd think that more garbage-quality scrolls would be harder to use.).

There are no rules for creating magic from scratch, so if you get your hands on a scroll of decent quality, you should just lock it in a safe somewhere after memorizing it, and then become rich by using your craft and attunement skills to mass produce scrolls of Flying or similar. There are prices listed for scrolls, but all of them are out of reach at chargen, so it's basically up to the GM entirely whether any points invested in Attunement will be worth jack shit. There don't appear to be any potentially horrible consequences for fucking up scrollcrafting other than some wasted paper.

Now, Cleverness knacks...

Cleverness posted:

Common Sense
Requirements: Cleverness II

“Common sense is not so common,” as Renaissance philosopher François-Marie Arouet would put it two hundred years later. Once per day, when you or a party member are about to make a decision that would be counterproductive or result in bodily harm, your Game Master will warn you against doing so.

Wasted Effort

Requirements: Cleverness III

Insanity is doing things over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s best to simply not bother to do it at all. Once per day, you can ask the Game Master if attempting something, or repeating it, would have any effect, or if it would just be wasted game time. The GM is obligated to tell you whether it’s worth your time, but not what would happen if you did it.

Unmarked Spot

Requirements: Cleverness IV, Common Sense

Clever people always have a nagging voice at the back of their head when they’re forgetting something. Once per day, when you seem to be about to gloss over something that you might never come back to, the GM should hint at your error, suggesting you spend a little more time looking around.

Alright so, what's the point of a hyper-lethal game that requires CAREFUL CONSIDERATIONS... if you can just buy feats that mean the GM has to absolve you from actually using your brain? Plus, in any case, what sort of jackass GM doesn't at least obliquely hint to the players when they're about to get themselves killed doing something stupid or about to waste their time on something pointless?

Anachronism posted:

Requirements: Cleverness VI

Some people are just ahead of their time. You are one of those people. You are capable of envisioning anything that has yet to be invented, up to a number of years in the future equal to 25 times the number of ranks you have in Cleverness. Unfortunately, this wild imagination is useful only for getting stares and beatings unless you’re capable of crafting the things you envision. You must spend 1 MH per year in the future to create a coherent enough blueprint of the invention for anyone to be able to craft it.

I guess this is what puts a limit to the Craft:Exotic skill, at last. Skills cap out at 10 points, so you can really only get 250 years into the future with this. Since the game is assumed to take place in 1450, that means up to the year 1700 for technology. Just at a quick glance, I can see how this could be used to upset the setting rapidly and make yourself the richest man, woman or street urchin around in short order. It takes 1 year's worth of man-hours per year into the future you want to "invent," but you can spread this out over a team. The game's intended for 4 to 7 players, supposedly, so just make seven crafting-obsessives and have them sit around collecting XP just for existing until they can invent all sorts of timeline-breaking shit. What would YOU make with this to upset the game setting?

Cover Up posted:

Requirements: Disguise II

Using the tools at your discretion, you can make things disappear. You can conceal any stationary object, like furniture, doorways, tunnels, et cetera as something else, or hide them from view entirely. Any casual observer will not notice them, and anyone searching for it must pass a Visual Acuity conflict against your Disguise DC. If they know the object is supposed to be there, they must succeed on a Cleverness check against the Disguise DC to be alerted to its absence, unless it’s something they intended to use and are confused to find missing. In either case, they may add their Cleverness ranks to their Visual Acuity ranks in their attempt to uncover it.

The game appears to have no real provision for "taking 10(or 20)", and only PC's get to break the odds with Luck Points, so good luck to the scrub NPC's who try to figure out where you hid their stuff. It also says any stationary object. I'm not seeing any limit in size... so you can literally use this to disguise a bridge, then when the advancing army of 0th-level pikemen and their generals arrive, they can't find the river crossing and will have to abandon their war. You could use it to hide a ship at harbor. Or a house. Or a castle. It doesn't even list a minimum time it takes to use... in general the only time unit used outside of combat is "man hours" for crafting, otherwise rounds and turns only exist in combat.

Conceal posted:

Requirements: Disguise III, Cover Up

Smuggling is a useful talent, whether you’re carrying illicit goods or much-needed protection. You can conceal a number of units of items equal to your Disguise bonus on your person. Any casual observer will not notice them, and anyone searching you must pass a Visual Acuity conflict against your Disguise DC.

Units are the game's made-up weight values. Let's assume we have Disguise 10, what can we then hide on our person? Sadly there are no "units" listed for animals, so we'll never know if we can hide a horse under our coat, and nowhere are "units" translated to pounds or kilos or something we can use for items not in the book. A raft or a door are entirely possible, however. Also, at maxed disguise, we can hide two coffins on our person. Now, from that I guess we can extrapolate a bit. "Units" are listed as being "Weight," not something more nebulous like "encumbrance" that might encompass size as well. At a quick google, the "average coffin" seems to weigh between 100 and 300 pounds. So I guess we can hide 200 to 600 pounds of "stuff" under our coat if the authorities come poking around.

Sadly this means we can't smuggle an adult horse around in our pants. But a young one...

Or we could just carry one coffin and 100 to 300 pounds of person inside it. I'm gonna skip over some of the stuff I looked over, but we can carry 1% of a siege tower(in "units"), and the only siege tower weight I found online would put that 1% at 1.6 tons of stuff we can hide under our coat. Maybe the author should've just gone ahead and written "pounds" or "kilos" instead.

EDIT: A friend pointed out that the person you're concealing could also have the same Knack and, themselves, be concealing another person(and/or coffin) and so on.

Moving on to the Escape Artist knacks!

Turning the Tables posted:

Requirements: Escape Artist IV

They thought they had you under control… but they were wrong. At the cost of a -1 penalty to your Escape Artist check, if successful, you can restrain anyone standing adjacent to you the same way you were restrained, effectively switching places. This does not work if what you were restrained with requires something special to open it, like a key you don’t possess, or a lever that’s not within reach.

Now, it's already hilarious that you can warp out of ropes and capture your captor. BUT! It doesn't say they have to be the ones who restrained you in the first place. Tie your hands together, walk up behind someone, use this skill... and now you're free and their hands are tied together. Or their feet. Or whatever... or wait a moment. A key you DON'T possess? If you handcuff yourself, and have the key, then you CAN use this, and they'll end up NOT having the key! Or lock yourself in a box with the key, when they walk up to examine it. SHAZAM. Now they're in the box! You're outside!

This is getting funny now. There's still roughly half the knacks to go, but this post is long enough for the time being.

~PurpleXVI

[#] MIDDENARDE - PART 1
01:52pm EST - 12/12/2016
Middenarde



So, while waiting for the Kult revamp/remake/restart to release, as well as waiting for Desborough to release his Gor RPG which someone made me promise to review, someone actually contacted me, wanting me to look over their Kickstarted RPG before finalizing the final draft sometime around Christmas and releasing. So keep in mind, hopefully what I critique is exactly what the author will fix... though I have my doubts, since my issues with the game are somewhat fundamental. The Kickstarter promises:



Footsoldiers Kickstarter posted:

Foot Soldiers is a low-fantasy, high-mortality game of medieval strife. A pen & paper RPG system set in England in the 1450s, Foot Soldiers challenges you to take the role of a peasant or a commoner, someone without riches or fame to their name, and bring them to greatness, or die trying. Foot Soldiers tells the stories of real adventurers, people who aren't exceptionally gifted or exceptionally lucky, but still have to make a living. Some of them end up as the skeletons that always litter the floor of dungeons. Others survive, but bearing the marks of their trials, missing limbs and scars. They are ordinary people, like you and me, trying to leave their mark on the harsh and divided landscape.



Classless: In Foot Soldiers, you are not typecast. Like in real life, what you are good at is what you pursue, and no two characters must end up alike.



Statless: Human beings are not defined by statistics, but the strength of their initiative, the skills they hone, and the favor of God. Simply put, there is no system of several physical and mental attributes (Strength, Endurance, Charisma, etc.) that govern a character's ability.



Accurate: The book includes a detailed description of the setting, written by a British archeologist, and the equipment is accurate to the time period.



...



In Foot Soldiers, you are not what we consider "the hero." Characters in Foot Soldiers have no plot armor. Every violent encounter is a brush with death. A weapon is a weapon, intended to maim and kill, and even the unskilled can deal serious damage to an unlucky foe.



This is very much unlike what I'd normally be interested in, so I can hardly be considered an entirely dispassionate and objective reviewer, but I'm going to give it a shot. Straight off the bat, though, it's giving me some serious Fantasy Wargaming flashbacks, which is a bad thing(also you should go read that review if you haven't before, I find it consistently entertaining). I'm going to go through the RPG as I read it, rather than going all the way through it first, to give a genuine first-impression as far as possible. So, let's begin!



1 - INTRODUCTION









The text is separate from the actual art in the .PDF, so I'll probably end up copying them separately when they overlap, to show off the art better.



To give the game fair credit, something that I absolutely cannot fault is the art. It's competently done, the style is great, so far I haven't seen any Magical Realm-esque content and... for once it's just nice to review something with art that wasn't made in fucking Poser or was screenshotted from a bad ninja anime. Unfortunately, the rest of the .PDF isn't quite as visually pleasing. There's art separating the chapters, and that's it, the only prettification that the rest gets is a black-and-white border.







It's a functional layout, but really boring, and the large text size also annoys me when the game moves on to listing stuff like skills, since it means more flipping through the book. I'm just generally not a fan, but, that's about all I can comment on with regards to the presentation, let's move on to the substance. As you may have noted, there's a quote on that page, in the upper right. Every chapter starts with a quote, usually from someone that can be called a philosopher of some sort(there's a Sartre one next, for instance), and it just feels really, really 90's. Like in a bad way, not in a funny, B-movie way, just: "I thought we had tried this enough and realized it was a bad idea. Why are you still doing it?"-90's.



You may also note that there's a suggested order to read the book in at the bottom of that first page(or, well, third page, after the cover and the index)... the book is NOT organized in that order. In fact, it's organized almost the reverse of that. It recommends reading the character creation second to last, but instead the character creation is immediately after the introduction and glossary. So why not just organize the book that way rather than forcing the player to flip back and forth? I'm going to ignore this recommended reading order thoroughly.



Then we move on to the subsections present at the start of most RPG's. "What is an RPG?" and "What's the theme of this RPG?" Normally I'd ignore the former and just breeze through the latter, but in this case, I'm going to actually check them out, because they're a bit different from the standard in terms of content.



What Is Roleplaying? posted:

Middenarde is a Role-Playing Game, abbreviated as RPG, wherein players create “characters” meant to be real people within the fictional setting of the game, and attempt to step into the “role” of those characters. One player is the host, most commonly referred to as the Game Master, who does not play a single character but rather controls the world and the story that other players react to. The process of pretending to be a character in a fictional world and reacting to fictional events as that character would is called “roleplaying.”



For one thing, I've never seen this written so patronizingly, with such a massive assumption that the player is retarded and just picked up the book at random, expecting it to be, I don't know, about accounting or something instead.



What Is Middenarde? posted:

It is and it isn’t. Many RPG systems emphasize “heroic fantasy,” which focuses on stories with an epic scale, typically featuring heroes with superhuman powers, battling grand forces of unquestionable evil, going on quests, and delving into ancient ruins. They are frequently beyond the laws of the land, looked up to by its populace, and relied upon to solve crises. Even fledgling heroes are typically more powerful than fathomable by most human beings, and the course of their experience is a straightforward path from relative rags to unimaginable riches. The only thing heroic fantasy characters have to worry about is where the next adventure is and how to spend their newfound wealth.



Middenarde, on the other hand, is designed to be “low fantasy.” The characters in Middenarde begin their journeys without much fortune, and their upward mobility is difficult and hazardous. There is no definite end to a character’s experience in Middenarde, except of course death, but even the most experienced characters are not wildly super-powered.



And it's always kind of sad when an RPG starts off by taking these petty shots at other RPG's, suggesting that they're not deep, that they're pitiful power fantasies or whatever.



What Is Middenarde? posted:

Middenarde is also designed to be “high mortality.” Mortality is defined as “the state or condition of being subject to death.” In heroic fantasy, characters rarely die. When they do, it iseither because they got in way over their heads, or their deaths serve to move the story forward in some way. They have what is commonly called “plot armor,” which means that the plot of the story protects them from harm unless it is dramatically appropriate for them to be hurt, and they frequently escape from dangerous situations and violent battles with hardly a mark on them.



It keeps on like that for another full page or so and pretty much instantly blows any good faith or good will the game had garnered from the excellent cover art.



What Is Middenarde? posted:

Middenarde is a low-fantasy, high-mortality game, so it may not appeal to people who are averse to death, or are only interested in playing powerful and awesome characters.



Don't play this if you're one of those fun-having scrubs, guys. Then there's the glossary, FIVE PAGES of it. I feel like if you have a five-page glossary, either you're terrible at explaining terms in the actual text, or you just have way too many non-standard terms you made up to feel special when, instead, you could've just used some more generally accepted term for something.





Let's have some more of the art. It's nice.



2 - CHARACTER CREATION



In what's pretty much standard-issue terrible formatting, this game drops character creation on us earlier in the book than the rules, meaning that unless we jump to the back and read the later sections first(though to be fair, the book does suggest we do that), we have no actual idea what the impact of any of our chargen choices are, except in the most general sense. We're also greeted by YET MORE HARPING ON about how we're going to die face-down in the fucking mud five feet off our doorstep.



STOP HAVING FUN posted:

In Middenarde, no characters are intended to be “heroes” at their inception. In fact, most characters will not even be the master of their own destiny, and will have to struggle for their very survival. It’s likely that no one outside of their family and close friends even knows who they are or will remember them when they are gone. Therefore, when you envision your character, you should imagine someone who is at the very beginning of the journey that will define them as a person.



...



Imagine them as the seeds that will eventually grow into a sturdy plant. Of course, there is much competition among flora, and few seeds planted actually grow to fruition.



I mean seriously! This is just getting beyond the fucking point of parody now. "You're going to die horribly and no one will miss you! Also my metaphors are painful and superfluous!" This also introduces a link to an online character sheet that we can use to set up our character, that's not too bad, though it does reveal some worrying hints of what's to come, such as grittily-detailed HP, split up over eleven separate body parts, like Right Foot(Major) and Right Foot(Minor). It isn't exactly Eoris, nothing quite that bad, but if your game prides itself on being high-mortality, then shouldn't the sheet be similarly simple, so that if Bob the Baker gets killed by a squirrel or a house cat, I can rapidly generate Carl the Clown to replace him? And then Dan the Dirtfarmer after that?



In any case, at level 1, we get a single skill point, we get to decide whether we're right or left-handed and we 31 pence(though, bafflingly, the shorthand for pence in the book is consistently d. So we'd be starting with 31d). 25 of these have to be spent on a single "heirloom" item, though, and any of them not spent is lost, for largely incomprehensible reasons. The example character gets a weapon that isn't garbage, a shirt, some pants and some hardtack. Flipping ahead to the equipment section, there are literally prices and stats for different types of shoes, for loincloths, aprons and wimples. Holy shit. Literally ALL you can afford outside of your shirt and pants is your single "heirloom item," so try to avoid starting off unarmed or something like that. Jesus.



The next section is to tell us that the example character dies after getting ten level-ups and being "stabbed by a thief." That sure is an exciting life for "Jason Baker," the example character. Makes me eager to tread in his footsteps! There are, thankfully, also rules for not being a dirtfarmer that dies just past the doorstep. But the game warns us before using these...



Starting At Higher Levels posted:

Don’t start at too high a level, though; it’s counter to the spirit of Middenarde to begin with too much wealth and power.



Good thing the author's here to tell me what me and my players should enjoy doing with his game. What a jackass.



3 - SKILLS





So, to do anything in this game, we roll a 3d6 and attempt to pass an arbitrary TN set by the GM to succeed. This is pretty simple. To help us do some of these things, we have skills, in which we can have ranks. Nothing REQUIRES ranks to be attempted, ranks are just straight +1's to the roll. We get one of these +1's starting off. Some "skills" are also just passive bonuses to stuff like damage, blocking and armor.



Difficulty posted:

On a 3d6, you can only roll a number from 3 to 18, and your chance to roll a 10 or an 11 is significantly higher than your chance of rolling a 3 or an 18. However, a Difficulty Check may be lower than 4 if there is no chance of failure unless the person is hindered in some way.







A Difficulty Check may also be higher than 18 if someone without the skill has no chance whatsoever of succeeding, but someone with experience might. For example, on a DC 25 task, someone with 10 ranks in the skill would have a 9.26% chance of success, but someone with no ranks in the skill would have a 0% chance of success. Additionally, a DC 19 task may be impossible for one person with no experience, but two people with no experience may work together to achieve a 0.46% chance of success.



So, a couple of things that get me here. Firstly, why is there even a TN for something you can't fail at? Shouldn't you just straight up succeed at that? Is he expecting people to roll for all of this shit? Secondly, thanks for listing out some random, pointless, percentage odds. Maybe you should, say, provide a table of those odds? Like Godlike does? That would help people have a genuine idea of their skill level, and give the GM a genuine idea on how to set TN's to hit certain odds, at least roughly. And after that little pointless aside on probabilities, we're straight into the skill list. Which ends with an overview of skills, rather than starting with it, and the massive text size means there's barely space for two skills on a page at once.



In an attempt at helping us play the game, each skill has examples of what would be considered Easy, Intermediate and Hard challenges for it. It's not a bad idea, but in practice it... raises some questions.



Acrobatics posted:

Easy: Walking a sturdy log across a stream.

Intermediate: Navigating the ceiling beams of a building.

Hard: Crossing a wide gap between buildings, using a chandelier to swing between platforms.



I mean, again, why are you making anyone roll for walking across a log over a stream? That's the sort of thing I'd only even consider rolling for if it had been a really calm session, so I could pretend at some drama and we could all have a laugh over how Edith the Elk-Herder managed to avoid having her trouser leg soaked. I'm going to skip some of these skills, because a lot of them are pretty standard(though quite a few of them overlap, for instance, we need both Investigation and Visual Acuity, but for some reason there's no Auditory Acuity, and there's both Animal Handling and Riding, there's three different negotiating skills, Psychology, Influence and Mercantile, you've got both Healing and Bandaging as separate skills, etc.), and just going to get to the ones that baffle or annoy me.



Attunement posted:

This skill is used in sensing and manipulating the supernatural. There is plenty of mystery in the world. In the Middle Ages, much was unknown, and superstition was rampant. Because Middenarde takes both the real history of the world and the beliefs of the time as seriously as possible (being what is called ‘low fantasy’), it is assumed within reason that they were all true.



Easy: Identifying the purpose of a potion.

Intermediate: Sensing the presence of a magical item in the room.

Hard: Casting a spell from a scroll with Craft: Literature (Runes).



Like this. This skill and its accompanying flavour text raise SO MANY questions. It's supposed to be based on Middle Ages myth, assuming that most of its real "within reason"(what does that even fucking MEAN). Is the Orlando Furioso real? Norse Myth? Arthurian Legend? Slavic folklore? You can't just drop that in there. And then you've got shit like "casting spells from scrolls," pretty sure that's nowhere in Middle Ages myth, instead being present only in fantasy RPG's for the most part. And I mean, what can I sense, exactly? Can I use it to spot ghosts? Fairies? Do I generally get to use it to manipulate any magical item, like an old witch's crystal ball? Baba Yaga's hut?



Cleverness posted:

The all-around ability to figure things out, especially when your character should be able to but the player may not. The skill may be used to solve a challenging riddle when enough hints have been presented, draw connections between seemingly unrelated pieces of data, or understand when the odds are not in your favor. It’s best used to keep the campaign going at an even pace or to prevent players from making exceedingly poor decisions.



Easy: Understanding that a pit of bubbling green liquid is deadly acid.

Intermediate: Remembering an element of your training, resisting a temptation.

Hard: Identifying Norman architecture from a book you read ten years ago.



Willpower posted:

This skill governs one’s force of will. The ability to resist temptation, the urge to survive, and the strength of one’s conviction are all measures of Willpower.



Ah yes, those BUBBLING GREEN PITS OF ACID, so prevalent both in myth and historical Europe! I'd also like to note that this says its used for "resisting temptation." Willpower, it has basically the exact same description, except that Willpower is just a passive skill(i.e. a static number, there's no mention of what it's used for here in the skills chapter, whether it increases some other value or just matters on its own), while cleverness is something actually rolled.



Concentration posted:

Easy: Solving a crossword puzzle.

Intermediate: Reading a scroll while dodging sword swings.

Hard: Wriggling out of your bonds underwater.



There's also Concentration, which is basically just a weird skill to even have, in that it's straight-up: "If you fail this, and you're stressed, you don't get to do that other skill you wanted to use." Instead of just applying a penalty to the other skill's roll due to the stressful circumstance. Why add a separate skill check? These examples are also weird. The Hard and Intermediate examples suggest what stress levels will require a check(drowning and dodging sword swings, respectively), while the Easy one doesn't, unless solving crossword puzzles just makes the author's adrenaline start pumping, veins in his head throbbing and excitement making it hard to think of anything other than what 11 Across could possibly be.



The Craft skill, which, like usual, is split up into multiple sub-categories, just in case a player wants to be a master wainwright or something. But one of the categories...



Craft:Exotic posted:

In general, anything that isn’t covered here or anything that may be from another time period, assuming the character has the appropriate knowledge to create such a thing.



This just seems like an excuse to get into an argument with your GM about what knowledge is necessary to craft an AK-47. The closest thing the game has to a "knowledge" skill would be other craft specialties, or Cleverness, so if you want to do this by RAW, there aren't really a lot of ways for the GM to limit player knowledge without demanding they roll one of those. There also seems to be no specific skill for MAKING magical items, so I guess Craft:Exotic is also the skill if you want to make Excalibur. Just generally seems like the sort of skill that's a warning sign if any player has it. There are already craft categories for everything INTENDED to be in the game, so why is this one even there?



At this point I'd also like to point out that there are some passive skills, which I haven't been noting, because they're very dull, that give a +1 for every two skill levels. Considering that you only get ONE skill point per level-up, that just seems like a great big old "fuck you" to having any sort of fun. Enjoy spending your entire level gaining a big, fat, nothing.



There's a skill ENTIRELY for using ropes, "Fettering." And a skill entirely for escaping from bonds and traps, "Escape Artist." Those two certainly couldn't have just been rolled into one skill or been made part of something else. Madness. The passive skill Heft which does nothing but increasing your carrying limit, in case you wanted to be the party's mule, tasked with just carrying piles and piles of shit for the rest. Probably the safest occupation in the game, really, since "carrying stuff" doesn't seem to have a skill check you can fail(Heft is also one of the skills that can be advanced in infinitely, there's no skill check for lifting stuff, and XP gains are just tied to "sessions" rather than to actually accomplishing anything, though GM's are advised to offer more XP for accomplishing cool stuff. So nothing's really preventing a given character from eventually being able to lift and carry anything). Investigation is also a weird skill, since it includes both straight-up spotting stuff, and also getting information for people, which seems more like it should have been under one of the three social interaction skills.



Influence posted:

The ability to convince others to do things your way is affected by this skill. Note that it has limits; for instance, no amount of smooth-talking will convince a servant to let a dirty peasant into the lord’s manor without good cause, and people will not betray their loyalties or ideologies. Each day’s worth of pay offered along with this skill adds a +1 bonus. All Influence checks involve at least an idea of what you might say to accomplish your goal; charisma requires substance.



So, in Middenarde, you can only convince people to do what they already want to do or are likely to do, and while you need good arguments to get them to do anything at all, better arguments won't result in bonuses, only money will, and everyone who can be influenced, will also be influenced better by more money. It won't make anyone suspicious at all that they're being offered huge amounts of cash for what seems like a petty task, or offend them when someone tries to bribe them, it's a universal constant. Similarly, you can negotiate with anyone, even if you don't know their language, though it means you're likely to get worse prices.



Blocking, Disarming and doing more damage with Brutality are general passive skills, work for every weapon. Perform, however, the ability to play musical instruments, something which the game in fact straight-out says is a waste of your skill points, is carefully specialized by instrument. There's ALSO a separate skill for actually specializing in a weapon, though. Also in keeping with historical realism, you can invest in Stoneskin which just passively makes you better at shrugging off people straight-up wailing away on you.



Survival posted:

This skill governs the kinds of activities you need to do to stay alive; the basic skills of any outdoorsman, like starting fires. This skill can also allow you to get the bare minimum of food and water you need to survive in the wild, if you roll successfully each time you need them. However, these meagre meals have a DC of 15 for malnutrition. It’s impossible to eat like a king on nuts and berries, no matter how good you are.



Ahhh, yes, rolling to avoid scurvy, the true, exciting depths of an RPG, and fits in well alongside all those mythical heroes of Europe that we're going to be including. I remember that time Merlin got dysentery. Swimming doesn't actually say what the penalties for failure are, they can't be getting dunked under water, because you have to make a swimming check whenever you try to dive and then stay under water, too... how do you fail at diving underwater? Do you become magically bouyant and IMMUNE to drowning? Technically, if the generic answer to "you fail" is that "the opposite of what you're trying to do, happens," this seems to suggest that the safest thing to do if you're a bad swimmer is to keep trying to dive, because then you'll never end up underwater(I actually asked the creator and he confirmed that, yes, attempting to dive and failing would result in staying on the surface.).



So, how's the system doing on those promises after three chapters? Classless, sure, but characters get so few points to customize with that they're basically all clones. Statless? Ha fucking ha, they still have stats, just more defined by their equipment than their character. Accurate? Fucking pffffffffffft.



BUBBLING GREEN PITS OF ACID



And there's still another 150 pages of this. I can't wait to get to the combat rules.

~PurpleXVI

[#] Simple10: Simply Bad Game Design
03:27pm EDT - 4/21/2016
Simple10

Today it's time to bully badly-designed "indie" RPG's.

Again.

But unlike Hc Svnt Dracones, at least Simple10 seems to be freely distributed rather than something the creators are charging money for.



There's also art, which varies between "bad" and "bland." Mostly it seems to be an RPG designed by someone who's never actually played or read another RPG, despite the foreword describing the creators as "veterans," and somehow this 82-page .PDF(60~ pages of which are just class abilities) took "years" to make.

The Basic Rules

I'm going to sort all of the rules first, which is counter to the game's organization. For some reason they decided it was a great idea to list the races and classes for some 60 pages before really explaining what any of their abilities and modifiers do. The one thing the game does manage to deliver, at any rate, is that it's simple. You roll a d10 vs a TN, if you roll over, you succeed. A 10 is always a success, and a 1 is always a failure. The basic TN is 6, which means that you're going to have great fun fucking up every other time you try to do something, unless the GM decides to give you a nicer average TN.

The formatting and editing are also terrible, I'll note, but I can give that a pass for a project that has no formal editor(though the constant ass-backwards wordings and typographical errors, combined with the generally awful font choices, makes me wonder what the three people on "layout" were doing).

Let's move on to combat, because the bad combat rules are basically why I wanted to review this thing in the first place. At first glance, combat is so basic as to be inoffensive, you trade blows, costing each other "Hits," until someone reaches zero "Hits," at which point they're "Helpless," and lie around losing "Wounds"(when attacked or just over time), while trying to recover. If they reach 1 "Wound," they're out of the battle(or, if someone walks over and finishes them off, dead, losing the last wound can only happen if someone else attacks you to finish you off.). If you recover, or if someone else helps you recover, you default to being restored to full "Hits."

Then you look up how to attack enemies and how to be attacked by them, and it all goes to shit.

The difficulty of hitting an enemy defaults to 6, as usual, if you're of the same "tier."(a stand-in for "level"). For every step you're above them, the TN to hit drops by one, for every level they're above you, the TN rises by one. The higher you roll, the more damage you do. Here's the example damage table against an enemy of the same level.

Simple10 posted:

R O L L 6: 1 damage
R O L L 7: 2 damage
R O L L 8: 3 damage
R O L L 9: 4 damage
R O L L 1 0+: 5 damage

If only the rest of it was as straight-forward and sensible.

Simple10 posted:

Enemies rarely roll on their own. They are instead assumed to roll the opposite of what the attacking player rolled. Enemies that nobody attacked deal 1 Hit to a random player at the end of the turn each.

But wait, what's the OPPOSITE of a roll? Is the opposite of a 10 a 1? The opposite of a 9 a 2? Or is it a -9? Dice rolls don't have opposites. Besides, enemies don't need to roll anything to attack players, because check out what happens if you roll under your TN, here's the table for, again, an enemy of equal "tier."

Simple10 posted:

R O L L 5: 1 Hit lost
R O L L 4: 2 Hits lost.
R O L L 3: 3 Hits lost.
R O L L 2: 4 Hits lost.
R O L L 1: Instantly helpless

The "logic" is that whenever you miss with a "combat action," your opponent "counterattacks." This also means that 10% of the time, your character is going to attack, fall on his face and be unconscious in the mud. However, that may be the safest place to be, after all, enemies don't roll to attack, and it specifically says that they do 1 "Hit" of damage when not attacked themselves. When you're Helpless you no longer have Hits, you only have Wounds. By the rules as worded, anyone on their face in the mud, bleeding out, is immune to mooks damaging them(it might seem logical that extra "Hits" would spill over into "Wounds," but again, this isn't stated anywhere.).

"But obviously, Purple," you're thinking, "These rules only apply to evenly matched opponents, where there's a chance of an attack instantly being met by being knocked on your ass!"

Ha ha, no.

When your tier rises, that's true, the TN falls. But, here's the thing, and they spell this out explicitly in the PDF:



By the rules as explicitly spelled out, you will always have a 10% chance of KO'ing yourself with any "combat action," which is a delightfully vague term that could probably be stretched to include most skill use and, for instance, firing a bow at someone. It doesn't matter who or what you are, as long as you're not a generic enemy who's denied his roll to attack(and, frankly, it's probably safer not to be rolling at all), every tenth attack will knock you out(or every 5th, if you're using a two-handed weapon, which critfails on a 2 as well as a 1).

Art Interlude

So who wants to look at some art before we move on to the badly-written class abilities?

Because, hopping back to the start of chargen, there are also races! Because you can't have a fantasy RPG without races.



You can play as an anime human and, as per usual for humans in RPG's, have a tiny bonus in some edge cases.



You can play as an anime elemental, and, somehow, have even less noteworthy abilities. You get "telekinesis," but literally no thoughts on how it might interact with mechanics at all(also note that at the top of the page it says that Simple10 is in "4th edition," I can't tell if it's a joke or if it literally took them four editions just to get this far. What was 1st edition? A coin flip?).



You can be a furry, with the ability to eat anything, and being agile. Each race also has noted alternate races it could function as, retaining the same racial ability, in this case it suggests that the "Capra" could also be replaced with catfolk or elves. This amuses me since it'd also mean that elves would retain the ability to eat non-food items, crunching up old cans for lunch.



You can be a second kind of fursona, granting you permanent flight. Amusingly enough, shooting at enemies from the sky with a bow would still subject you to the 10% chance of KO'ing yourself with every attack, so it, in an entirely unintentional way, doesn't quite break the game.



No real hiding it, like half of the race options are various animal people. Considering how mechanically minor the differences between them are(it literally comes up to a +1 in most cases, if even that in some of them), I wonder why they didn't just throw them up as a "pick one and make up a fitting race"-list.



Not really sure why rock elementals should have tits. Probably have the only really "powerful" ability, because they have a 50% chance of ignoring anything that makes them Helpless, once every four rounds of combat, leaving them at 1 Hit instead.



You can be sketchy insect people with an HP bonus.



Or you can be shoggoths who are immune to mind control, probably the dullest extradimensional terrors ever.



Bad Class Abilities

Obviously, I'm not going to list out every ability, but I'm going to point out that they're almost all badly written. Even the ones that are mechanically non-confusing, are littered with vague terms like "nearby," which seem like a great way to get into an argument with the GM for half an hour about what "nearby" includes. Is it within arm's reach? Everyone in the room? More? Less? Or "Inspire," which has the non-combat use of letting you play music, though the actual mechanical effects or rewards of doing this is entirely up to the GM... which seems like exactly what would happen if any PC said "I pick up a lute and play a cool song." Some are just thoroughly pointless:

Con Artist posted:

On success, whatever you say, no one thinks you are trying to deceive them. Characters with evidence or knowledge contrary to your claim may disprove you. Outlandish or ridiculous statements can be seen through. This skill also applies to forgery of evidence and documents.

For the cost of a third of your starting skill points, you get to lie as well as just about anyone else, which is to say that generally people won't assume you're lying unless what you're saying is absurd or there's proof to the opposite! The only niche use of this skill, as written, is in case you're dealing with someone who doesn't trust you and would suspect you of being a deceitful liar no matter what you said.

Terrify posted:

Scary stories are the oldest kind of stories. 8+ renders a group of targets helpless.

So how much is a "group"? Can I knock out an entire crowd of people? Is this affected by tiers? Also at chargen you get to pick one skill you have a +2 to using. This means it's possible to start out with the ability to instantly knock out a "group" of enemies of equal level, 50% of the time.

There are also constant references to having "minions" or "pets," but no actual mechanics for them beyond skills affecting how many you can have. It never says anywhere what "tier" they act at, whether they have skills and classes of their own, etc.

Mend posted:

Don’t be such a baby, ribs grow back. A target regenerates grievous injuries such as lost extremities, damaged vital organs and internal bleeding. Cannot be used in combat, nor restore hits or wounds.

This would be great if there were actually any mechanics for losing limbs or breaking bones. There aren't! So this skill is only useful by GM fiat, since it doesn't actually interact with any mechanics. You get the option to reverse it, which sounds kind of cool and horrifying... except that it doesn't actually heal any damage, so presumably the reverse wouldn't actually cause any damage. So I guess you get to make people's bones snap and splinter, their organs pop out and their limbs fall off... but somehow it doesn't actually hurt them or make them any easier to fight.

Healing Hammer posted:

Mercy and fury are but two hands holding the same weapon. Can direct your other action at an ally, healing them for as much as it would have damaged a foe, or damaging them on a failure.

What "other action"? This skill doesn't grant a second action, and players only have one action per round. Do they mean we get two actions, and the first hurts an enemy, then the second heals an ally for as much as we hurt the enemy? Or do we get one action that heals instead of hurting, but the phrasing is terrible? They should have just named this "Simple Ways To Argue With The GM For 10 Hours." Though I guess it doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely as Simple10.

There's also a skill, "Inure," that gives immunity to a "damage type," but nowhere does it say what the game's damage types are. "Target is immune to a specific damage type (fire, ice, poison, possessed etc) for a short time." How long is a "short time"? Is it enough to dash through a wall of fire, or enough to run across a volcano's caldera? What even counts as a "type" of damage? Swords? Is "sword" a damage? Or "sharp"? Who even fucking knows with this stupid game.

They also clearly didn't even notice how breakable their game is. The "Knight" class gets an ability that means the first action they take in combat always rolls the minimum needed to succeed. You can combine classes. What if you make a Knight/Bard who uses his "Terrify" on the first round of combat, knocking out a "group" of enemies? Congratulations, every combat encounter in the game is now over before it even has a chance to start.

Hat Magic posted:

You can pull off amazing tricks out of your hat. Conjure anything small enough to fit through the hat out of it, regardless of length. Difficulty Tier depends on the item Pulling out a generic object (e.g.: bouquet of flowers) is equal to the caster, +2 tiers to pull out a specific object (e.g.: the key to this exact door), +4 tiers to pull out an object wider than the hat. Rolling too soon for the same object after failing will cause failure regardless of roll because the universe catches wise to your tricks. Enchanted items can’t be pulled out.

But why would I WANT something specific? If I can pull out anything small enough to pull out of a hat, and my hat is large enough... a door? Sure, lemme just get out a cutting torch to burn through the lock. An enemy encounter? Sure, let me just pull out a few chunks of refined uranium and a beryllium sphere. I mean, there isn't even any limit to length, I could just pull out an unending rod of pure gold until any given opponent goes: "I'll take that as payment for fucking off."

And so on. There isn't a single class in this "game" that doesn't have at least one skill that isn't incomprehensible, broken or has a completely broken interaction with another skill. The creators of this game should feel bad for having made it.
The short version: This is what happens when you make a game without first having played/read other games and learned from them, or if you think you're smart enough to reinvent the wheel without fucking up the same way everyone else did at first.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 18
11:58am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

The Cyclops Wizard strikes you dead with a thought



The Void and the Citadel

So around the DESERTED CITY, which is surrounded by a TALL WALL is THE VOID, which is pure black(hello Dark City nice to see you here in Ripoffsville). It's a windless, room-temperature void that nonetheless has a pitch black, featureless floor. Nothing here except for an occasional escaped creature from the Deserted City and stuff dropped by people who went to the city and then vaulted over the walls.

Oh and then there's the Citadel.

Basically it's a huge, rambling, weirdly-designed place of concrete, stone and barbed wire. Everything inside is huge enough for a giant to walk around in, but 99.9999% of the residents are just 7-foot, floating, naked, androgynous humans that if they see real humans will scream until a bunch more come around and then they'll kill the humans by tearing them apart. There are no stats for them, so I assume it's a "you die if the GM wants you to"-thing.

Speaking of which, the 0.0001% of the population that AREN'T floating naked people is a giant robed cyclops who sits on a throne, wears a porcelain mask and has a claw for one of his hands. He listens to weird reports from the not-really-human people and if he ever notices a human in his Citadel he'll-

quote:

If the figure notices the human explorers it can kill them instantly with a thought and paralyze their souls with pain until a servant can drag the souls off to the land of the dead.

-do that. There are no descriptions of what this figure does, why it exists, how it thinks or any suggestions for what it could possibly do in a game.

Under the Citadel is The Machinery.

The Machinery posted:

There are several pits in the floor around the citadel that lead to a massive underground space. The space is sweltering, filled with steam and smoke, and there is an omnipresent roar of machinery. As far as the eye can see in every direction (including down) there is a lattice-work of machinery that combines every type of tech known to the human visitors: steam pipes, gears and chains, old vacuum tubes, computer circuits. Ladders and walkways crisscross the space, giving access to all the machinery. Yellow light bulbs give a diffuse light to the space. At intervals are binocular shaped viewers attached to a circuit boards. Looking through one a person will see pixilated, amberand- black, bird’s-eye views of our world.

...

Dozens of stories down is a blood-soaked concrete floor covered with rows of huge bodies. They’re about 20 ft. tall, naked and have human anatomy. The rows of bodies merge into the vanishing point in every direction. Each body has hundreds of wires, pipes and gear shafts impaling them through blood encrusted holes. The bodies appear asleep and are breathing slowly. They look like a random selection of every age, ethnic group and physical condition. Every once in a while a body will shudder, sometimes make a groan, and the movement will cause machinery around and above it to break, bringing a horde of engineers.

If visitors are lucky, they may see the body of someone they know or they may see giant versions of their own bodies. Bodies of the Touched seem slightly more restless than most of the others (as do the bodies of babies and children). The bodies cannot be awakened or killed. Injuries heal almost instantly.

The place is also full of giant steampunk spiders which, while they have superhuman stats, at least lack any instakill attacks! Hooray! Something the PC's can actually interact with, though so far we have no reason why they would ever want to!

The Land of the Dead



Basically the Land of the Dead is a long, boring canyon where you walk down until you forget everything. If you stop walking or make a fuss then monsters torture you until you get walking again. EXCITEMENT. There is literally nothing to do here, the monsters aren't statted, there are no locations beyond THE CANYON OF WALKING and there are no people beyond THE DEAD and THE MONSTERS.

Subconsciousnesses

Surprise! Everyone has a pocket dimension in their subconscious, or multiple, rather, one for each psychodynamic. The Ego appears to be the police of the subconscious, as it prevents anyone from breaking into the Halls of Memory(a big trapped, locked and barred library of everything you've ever experienced, it's possible to steal or destroy memories), the Doors of Perception(a steampunk factory processing sensory information, fucking with these can give a person hallucinations). Aside from them there's The Reptile's Realm(basically just a big wilderness, neither particularly harsh or nice, it's possible to survive there), the Id's Realm(a delightful place full of every awesome sensation you've ever wanted to experience, all the good food, all the best sex, all the craziest things to see. If you poke a hole in the bottom, though, and walk out through that, you emerge from an orifice in one of the bodies described under The Machinery). Troubles are basically all of a person's insecurities and phobias, and they haunt the subconscious as aggressive little critters. Small ones are mooks to stomp, big ones are major villains. Considering that you can erase memories by fucking around here, I have to wonder if killing all the baddies in someone's brain would make them less worried about life...

Oh and this section also claims that "the severely autistic do not have a conscious self." Feel free to poke at that. And the rest of the PD realms are not described yet, if ever.

Dreams

Because we weren't ripping off Kult enough yet. There's even a fucking Dreaming skill. All the stuff in the subconscious apparently leaks into dreams, but the Ego disguises them with symbolic imagery to prevent you becoming aware that your brain is full of squatters. This is stupid.

Psychodynamics


Because I'm getting tired of copy-pasting this stuff and fixing the formating

Having the PD's as conscious, somewhat-independent entities is actually interesting, and you could genuinely do some fun or funny stuff with it. Imagine if instead of having separate PC's, all the PC's are just on-the-run PD's from one guy? Maybe they're out to save their "owner," or they've fled because they got tired of his head, or maybe they're just taking a road trip to get a break from chilling out in his brain.

You can literally break into someone's brain and kill off their PD's to eliminate certain urges entirely, though. For instance, break into someone's head, murder their Thanatos and then destroy the Realm of the Thanatos and you end up with someone who has no desire for death whatsoever, in fact probably someone who doesn't think about it at all. Someone without a Shadow would probably be a model citizen.

Further confusing things, psychologically, you can apparently take all these subconscious chunks of your brain and make them part of your conscious, via MAGIC or EXTREME PSYCHOLOGY, basically taking responsibility for them, which... doesn't really describe what it does to your head, except presumably now the GM can no longer compel you to become suicidal or a rapist at will. But it does give you +5 Willpower(HELLO AWESOME MAGICAL ABILITIES) or if you already have 20+ Will, it also gives you +5 points to spend on other things.

Being a complete sociopath apparently integrates your Super Ego and Shadow right off the bat, so I guess that going shopping for that enriched uranium gets even easier if you're just doing it for laughs.

Oh and then there's some art of an Id, just in case you wanted to fight one. I no longer want to fight one. Predictably the Id is just a big selfish jackass who does whatever it wants and doesn't care about anything else.



The descriptions of the various PDs' behavior just makes me further want to run the Psychodynamic Road Trip Game.

Super Ego posted:

Behavior- It travels around peering over people’s shoulders, rifling through their belongings, glowering at them and demanding to know what they have been doing and are planning on doing.

The Super Ego finds every psychodynamic except the Ego to be suspect and thinks of them as enemies. It hates the Shadow worst of all. The Super Ego has a stormy relationship with the Ego: sometimes friendly with it and sometimes hating it.

Typical Attack- A Grab: Pain...

I like to imagine that the Super Ego grabs other PD's by the ear and hauls them around until they say uncle and do as they're told. It also looks like whichever parent you had that was strictest.

The Reptile is a lazy lizardman who just chills in the sun and snacks on stuff. It doesn't really care to talk to anyone or do much beyond just chilling out. The Ego is, as mentioned earlier, THE BRAIN POLICE, it keeps the other PD's from taking over the wheel and also covers things up because it doesn't want to upset anyone.

The Anima...

Anima posted:

Most Common Appearance- A woman in a thin white dress. Her appearance is constantly shifting depending on her mood. At times she is young, beautiful and voluptuous, her lips so full that they part involuntarily. At other times she looks plump and kindly. At other times grey streaks appear in her hair, her lips scowl and her eyes have a cruel glare.

Psychology- This is the repository for suppressed ‘feminine’ thoughts and behaviors, yet because Western cultures subdivide feminine into several disparate roles, the Anima has a split personality with a seductive side, a mothering side and a cruel side all trying to make themselves heard.

OH YEAH ONLY THE WEST HAS ODD THOUGHTS ABOUT WOMEN AT ALL. RIGHT RIGHT. LET'S GO LISTEN TO THE NOBLE SAVAGES SOME MORE.

The Stranger is a big cat, as in a big housecat. The other PD's don't really mind it but it only bothers them when it "wants to help them with something." Considering that it has no opposable thumbs and can't speak, I really, genuinely wonder how the fuck it can help anyone with anything.

The Shadow is a blowhard, an inversion of the appearance that the conscious self has(or how they perceive themselves), but even though he looks like an asshole and will be an utter cunt to anyone he meets, he doesn't actually attack people without good reason.

The Shadow posted:

Psychology- The Shadow is a compilation of all the suppressed traits that would have made the conscious self feel like a ‘bad person.’ Cruelty is most common among these traits. Also common are arrogance, sexual ‘perversion,’ prejudice, atheism, jealousy, dishonesty and self-hatred. The Shadow will never attempt to hide any of these traits from anyone, it is intensely proud of them.

So The Shadow is also That Guy who'll loudly and at length tell you about his porn and all the other shit about him that you really do not want to know and don't give a fuck about either.

The Thanatos is a gothy fucker who sits around in places full of DEATH and talks about how beautiful and awesome they are, then gets depressive when talking about life. To further complete the "goth" analogy it feels like an outcast that none of the others like, because, don't you know it, none of the other PD's want to die.

The Animus posted:

The Animus is a caricature of what the conscious self’s culture considers masculine. He is stubborn, bullying, impatient, arrogant, quick to anger, crude, brave and has a huge sexual appetite.

Bubbles

Pocket dimensions that try to force people to take part in pre-scripted events and then kill them off. Essentially all these things are anything you imagine, so if you fantasize about killing everyone at work, out there, somewhere, there's a Going Postal Bubble where anyone who pokes their head in either gets handed a gun or gets shot.

They look for people who imagine things similar to them, then they invade their minds and suck them in. Once you're in, you can break free by doing something completely opposed to the "script," but this requires a difficulty 30 Willpower roll, meaning that Joe Average needs a natural 20 to succeed. Welcome to being railroaded, CHOO CHOO.

THE CREATION MYTH



Step 1: Grandpa makes a bunch of people.
Step 2: Unbirths them all but one.
Step 3: This person cuts themselves to make a horrible mutant person out of.
Step 4: Then rape occurs between these two, which makes all the humans.
Step 5: The world is created as it is because the rape victim wants revenge.

Oh and if you paid attention, The Deserted City is apparently Sophie. Thorn/Spear obvious connection.

Advice on Running A Game

First a big box of Horror Stuff To Rip Off. Named titles: Alien, The Blair Witch Project, The Exorcist, The Grudge, Hellraiser(CLIVE BARKER ALERT), Night of the Living Dead, The Ring, The Shining, Silence of the Lambs and The Sixth Sense. Things to rip off from these: "Sabotage everything the players try to do" and "throw in a creepy kid."

Then a sidebar on Railroading. I'm going to throw it in here in its entirety because of a specific paragraph.

Railroading posted:

Since In Dark Alleys is a horror game, it is important to put PCs into dangerous situations. Yet many players will feel either that it is their duty as players to fight the GM’s attempt to put characters in danger or that it is ‘good roleplaying’ to have the characters avoid dangerous situations.

Thus, unless the GM and players want to have the adventure end at “So you avoid going in the creepy house and you live happily ever after,” it may be necessary to take away some of the players’ free will and force characters along a certain path. There are two ways of doing this: covertly and explicitly.

Covertly railroading characters means making it appear that the players have choices for their characters, but making it so that every choice the characters make ends in the same outcome. This method is liable to piss-off players when they realize what’s going on. If nothing else, players who discover they are being covertly railroaded will fight back harder than ever against the path the GM has set out for them.

Explicitly railroading involves telling players how their free will has been shortcut. The easiest way to do this is to simply start the adventure in the dangerous situation and then fill in the back story. E.g. “You’re in a creepy house, and this is how you got here…” GMs may even enlist the help of players to come up with a creative solution for why their characters ended up in this dangerous situation, thus giving the players a sense that they do have input and that they have not violated their characters’ concepts. Explicit railroading is less likely to cause player anger than covert railroading.

There are also two example adventures that I will not go into in detail, in the first a guy's soul has gotten lost, go recover it. In the second they find a CURSED DVD(TOTALLY NOT THE RING GUYS HONEST) and shit goes down.

And you know what, fuck it. On that rape-tastic, railroading-endorsing end, fuck In Dark Alleys.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 17
11:49am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Most of these objects come from Christian martyrs, repressed Victorian girls or homosexual sex in public restrooms.

Artifacts

So these things come in a few different forms, first are "Shatter Relics," which are caused by intense emotions breaking the threadbare fabric of reality.

Relics of the Martyrs posted:

These relics come from early persecution of Christianity. Most of the martyrs were celibate women who died simultaneously fearing death, hating their executioners, joyful that they would be martyrs and lustful for an idea of Jesus upon which they had projected their repressed sexuality.

Sorry, did I say intense emotions? I meant intense boners, because apparently all of this comes down to dicks. Also this next one is going to make some biology/medical person's head explode, brace yourselves for flying skull chunks!

Finger of St. Raphael posted:

A finger bone wrapped up in an old cloth in a wooden box. A person clutching this relic cannot be harmed by any amount of heat. However, he or she is also unable to combine sugars and oxygen to create chemical energy, so he or she loses 2 pooled END per round.

A round is half a second, and an unmodified character has between 1 and 20 END. Besides that, the other two example Christian Martyr Artifacts are an arrow(St. Germaine's) that makes all matter near it transparent and all light sources nearby far more intense. The second is a tooth(St. Oglethorpe's) on a chain that makes corpses explode into swarms of screaming, aggressive locusts if brought near them.

The Victorian Girls posted:

At the height of Victorian England’s prudishness, a few women were unlucky enough to grow up without any knowledge of their own sexuality or female anatomy. they were from very religious upper middle-class-homes.

Their mothers died at an early age and they were never lucky enough to make friends with servant girls who could have explained things to them. They grew to adulthood with no knowledge of sex, masturbation, procreation or menstruation.

They only knew that there was something about their anatomies so sinful that nobody would dare speak about it. Many were so unprepared for menstruation that they believed they were dying. Shatters occurred when joy and lust (at discovering the potential for sexual pleasure) coincided with fear and hatred (of their own bodies). The shatters were quickly covered up by the powers-that-be in the Victorian government and the relics were confiscated and hidden away.

The Victorian Girl artifacts are... Eliza Preston's preserved fetus that lets a person's Shadow speak through it! Mary Sutton's "bloody rags" which will bleed forever until everything within 100 feet is covered in it! And...

Elizabeth Hartford's Labia posted:

Two strips of leathery dried flesh. If placed on either side of a human orifice they will attach, becoming living flesh. The orifice will become lined with teeth. If any part of any living thing (save the owner of the orifice) is placed within the orifice, the living thing will be devoured. The orifice pulls the creature towards it at 40 STH, strong enough to break bones. Once the mouth has caught hold of a piece of flesh, there is no way to save the victim without tearing or cutting off the captured parts. The mouth does 2 BLD damage per round to the victim. The mouth can consume any amount of flesh and consumed flesh is never seen again.

The goddamn Cunt of Vecna.

The third category is the Shatter Artifacts produced by those wacky dudes sucking dick in public bathrooms. The first is named, I shit you not, The Glory Hole. It's a piece of wood with a hole in it, if you look through the hole you can see Invisible things, and if you poke anything through the hole the poked-through part phases out and can interact with the Invisible only for a while. I don't really need to say anything more, do I?

The second is the Vertigo Card which, continuing IDA's habit of hiding kinda neat things inside all the other shit, is kinda neat. Well okay, the un-neat part is that it's a piece of folded paper with dried semen on it. The NEAT part is that if you unfold it, time in the area passes twice as fast, and if you, for instance, spin it, everything in the area is spun, flung against walls by centrifugal forces, shake it and everyone in the room you're in will get rattled up and down, etc.

The third is a severed, dessicated finger which, if put on the ground, starts to shake until it's violent enough to trigger an earthquake. HOWEVER, consider this: Once it's on the ground, it just keeps shaking until it reaches that magnitude, nothing says that it can or will stop on its own. And presumably if the entire area is fucking rattling like crazy, it's going to be hard for anyone in the area to pick it up and stop it. So presumably if anyone drops this and doesn't scoop it up again quite fast, an entire country is going to be fucked to gravel by never-ending quakes.

Blessed Objects are stuff given from the rather-incompetent POWERS BEYOND to the human authorities that support their goals. They are: A magical table leg, if you spend most of your day near it you become super-healthy. A whip that flicks a new Psychodynamic into control of a person every time you whack them, allowing you to cycle through personalities until you have one that'll tell you what you want to know. An Islamic vorpal sword. A magical mauseoleum that can be used to revive people with human sacrifice. A magical Cane of Charisma. And a badass skull cup that lets you kick your own soul into the aether to go for trips.

Dances can apparently only produce objects that make people crazy from handling them. The example items aren't very interesting.

Chunks of the Deserted City also count as artifacts, the first type is mementos, which always show perfectly happy androgynous humans. The longer you stare at these, the more you'll start glowing and becoming superpowered, until you explode into ash from being too hotblooded. Literally. The second type is just objects, which are always unbreakable and useless and the only thing they have about them that's interesting is that they turn into stuff that people fear or desire very much when no one's looking. The last category is Tools which are Normal Objects That Do Supernatural Stuff. Like the White Fluid, a vial of milk that makes you vomit up a soul-less perfect copy of yourself. The Black Knife, a knife so sharp it cuts holes in reality. Or the Gray Book, another of these "whatever you're most afraid of will be what you see in it"-objects. Which really just sound like Brian wanted to write something spooky but couldn't come up with anything.

The next category is Subconscious Artifacts, stuff dragged out of the brains of people you've visited, like for instance a Wonderlander's Playland. The example item is a knife from the mind of a woman who secretly hates herself and bangs lots of strangers without using a condom, so anyone stabbed by it becomes irreversibly ill until this lady gets some mental help. We're reminded that all this is because of her parents.

And lastly there are Annotated Volumes, basically these are books so scribbled-up by Scribblers that they can teach you supernatural powers if you can tolerate their Philosophy 101 wanking going on for pages and pages and pages on end. Predictably half the example books are written by Jung, Freud and Nietzsche, that is, before someone wrote all over them.

SECRETS OF OTHER WORLDS

Summarizing the intro: Other worlds are whack shit but our tiny human minds can't comprehend them so we subconsciously reform them into something that SORT of makes sense to us. Linear time, three dimensions of space, that sort of jiggery.

The first line of the next paragraph is that all supernatural skill rolls have between +20 and +60 modifiers, this means that anyone with even a single rank in Untouchable and decent Willpower, for instance, is literally invincible. Dances actually become kind of interesting here, since minds can affect reality and Dances are literally wandering minds, so with a bit of a rewrite of their fluff they could become useful sidekicks rather than monomaniacal parasites. Also remember Masks? In THE OTHER WORLDS, it literally transforms the disguised thing into the thing it is disguised as. So holy shit can you hilariously break everything with that EVEN MORE.

Also since Reapers are both visible and tangible here, technically the party could take turns committing suicide and fighting off the arriving Reapers until they're all Survivors and outfitted with Survivor powers to Be Goddamn Unkillable. But that's just me considering how to break this game in half, not that it needs much effort.

So just to make this interesting, before I wrap up this post, let's hit the first of the Otherworldly Locations: The Deserted City. You ready?

THE DESERTED CITY


Spooooooooooky

This place basically looks like whatever a group recognizes as "urban."

quote:

To a group of hunter-gatherers that have never seen a city it would look like a massive deserted encampment, in an endless forest clearing, filled with huge huts. To a group from Japan, the city would take on a slightly Japanese flavor. For instance, some of the rooms inside buildings would have sliding screens and tatami mats.

Though any cultural exposure, even if only through media, to "Western Cities," sees them as such. It's always night, it's always cold, there are street lamps that keep the worst of the darkness at bay and it's always goddamn deserted. But of course you can hear someone sobbing and moaning in the distance because it's gotta be SPOOKY. The place looks like it was super-fancy once, but now it's pretty run-down and dirty, and everything that isn't nailed down has been removed.

"When the PCs can find a sign that’s not too faded to read, the text is just words like “pain” “horror” and “death” repeated over and over again."

"GPS systems, compasses and cell phones don’t work. Radios play a woman sobbing on every frequency."

The Wound: So something big and awful poked a hole in the city and now THE GROUND IS BLEEEEEEDING. Basically it's a big black thorn and if anyone pokes at it they just die. Either later fluff sections will expand on this thing or it's just added because OMG BLOOD IS SCARY.

The Sewers: Some enterprising architect figured adventurers might drop by and decided to make sure the sewers were spacious enough for people to run around in. Also instead of water they have BLOOD. BLOOOOOOD, SCARY BLOOOOOOD. Also sometimes the blood is replaced by black fluids and if you touch them you die. Sometimes there are immortal people stuck in the walls that do nothing but wail and moan and you can't kill them or talk to them, so they're basically just decor.

CREATURES OF THE CITY: Organic robots that run around "doing tasks" in the city that the PC's aren't supposed to be able to ever understand. Also it's emphasized that they might just randomly reach out and kill PC's. The example creature is a pillar of flesh with a flower of babbling faces at the top. If anyone tries to interact with it, it'll wrap the flower around their heads and scream at them until they die. Also if you don't get someone away from it in two rounds(1 second, remember), they'll be rendered permanently deaf by the cacophony. Much longer and it'll liquefy their brains.

So that's THE DESERTED CITY.

I think I'm going to try to finish off IDA in the next post, because I just read ahead and spoiler: The entire world was created by rape.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 16
11:47am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Hideo Nakazawa, Atomic Ghost



H-Tech

So we're still in the GAME MASTERS ONLY section about all the WEIRD SHIT BEHIND THE FACADE. And the first thing we bungle into his H-Tech. This has been name-dropped a few times before, oddly enough, only Heroes have anything to do with this, really. You'd figure there'd be some sort of Mad Inventor class/Secret Life...

Essentially the same slap-dash labourers that designed the Storks and left them capable of mis-delivering souls apparently designed the laws of reality, leaving them full of loophopes and exploits. H-Tech devices are any devices that exploit these holes, and according to conventional laws of physics they simply Should Not Work. The entry here tells us that there will be MORE TO COME, but for now all we're told is that H-Tech devices for seeing the invisible and touching the intangible are kind of common. Also apparently it's relatively easy to make a vest that turns you into a Survivor if you die while wearing it, as it keeps Reapers at bay, leaving the soul with long enough time to figure out how to jumpstart the body's systems.

CRACKS IN THE FACAAAAADE

I.e., more times where the contractors that built reality fucked up and did things on the cheap with plywood and duct tape.

Shatters: Someone had a REALLY INTENSE EMOTIONAL MOMENT and that left a hole in reality related to what happened to them. Like if someone had an INTENSE TIME while getting burned there'd be an area where THINGS WOULD BURN or something. One of the example effects is "gravity reversing," I'm not sure what sort of trauma would trigger that. Absolute terror while bungee-jumping?

ATOMIC GHOSTS: Apparently nuclear weapons DESTROY THE BODY SO QUICKLY that the Reapers never get a call that someone is about to die, hence they completely miss their appointment with the soul that just got de-bodied. And of course all of the ATOMIC GHOSTS are Japanese people who are super-racist against white people. Of course. The example ATOMIC GHOST is a Japanese guy who... possesses white people's bodies and then uses them to do lots of drugs and ruin their lives/health. For instance, since this is Brian, he often possesses white people and uses their bodies to rape their families.

Soul Misfits

A variety of weird things that can happen to souls. Guess we finally get to find out what having a HORSE SOUL means.

No Soul: Apparently the SOUL BUREAUCRACY is so stretched by MORE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE that either they're running out of souls to distribute or just keep fucking up because they're rushing. So loads of kids end up not getting souls. Soulless people have no true consciousness, they're basically just biological machines. Apparently the soulless also tend to act as properly Souled people expect them to, meaning that if you enter some weird little country town with nothing but soulless and expect them to come for you with sickles and cannibalism, they will. So I guess if you're a really upbeat and positive person, Soulless will be your best friends forever.

Identical Twins: One soul, split in half. Not very interesting, really, just the generic TWINS CAN FEEL WHAT THE OTHER FEELS-myths.

Two Souls: Jekyll & Hyde, essentially. One is mostly in charge, but if it's KO'd due to drugs or some weird psychological effect, the other takes over for a while.

Humans with Animal Souls: Will like things that their stereotypical animal soul enjoys and be a bit less smart than normal humans, that's it.

Animals with Human Souls: See, Dog King of LA, the.

Cancer Souls: Some tumors have SOULS, which apparently just makes them into huge assholes who ENJOY killing the person they're in and makes them hard to treat.

Soul H-Tech: If you play with genetics you will most likely, literally, create Soulless monstrosities because the Storks are too fucking dumb to figure out how to shove a human soul into a non-standard package. Frankly the fact that mere genetic changes can affect this makes you wonder if, for instance, people with chromosomal disorders do not have souls in IDA, or what about people who are simply odd mixtures of rarely-mixed genetics? Like a German and a Peruvian or something? Do they also have a higher risk of not having souls? Fucked if I know, the implications are just amazingly stupid.

Awakening

See, Kult Ripoffs.

So basically the world is miserable to keep us busy enjoying FLESHY THINGS and fighting for survival, because otherwise if we didn't do that, we'd invent NEW PLAYTHINGS and these NEW EXPERIENCES would TOTALLY BLOW OUR MINDS and we'd see through the illusion and you know what? We still don't know why this is a bad thing. So far NO ONE has told us SHIT about why the Powers From Beyond are assholes to humanity. Did we borrow their lawnmower and never return it? Fucked if I know! IDA sure doesn't see fit to tell us yet.

So essentially what wakes people up is emotional/psychological extremes. Too much suffering, too little suffering, etc. Being awakened really just means you can remember stuff about THE WOOOORLDS BEYOOOOOOND and have some of the same powers as characters with Secret Lives, but more under control. Like you can command Wrigglers(Misfortunes) without wacky rituals, you can "Get Lost" without needing to be actually LOST, that sort of thing. And of course, since they've Awakened under severe psychological duress, they also tend to be mentally damaged as all hell.

The example Awakened is someone who was sold from a Russian orphanage to AMERICAN PEDOPHILES. So basically she got raped for years and years until she went so crazy that she killed the EVIL AMERICAN with her AWAKENED POWERS and now she's a complete nutcase. But... aside from that, she's actually VAGUELY COOL. Essentially, she's abused to the point where the only people she can empathize with are children, and perceives all caretaker/parent figures as abusers. She Lost-walks her way from dark place to dark place, essentially a boogeyman figure. If she finds a lost child in one of those places, she'll basically keep the child captive until their parents/caretakers come looking... and then kill them.

quote:

Olesya does not need food or water. She only want to sit in the darkness, sing little songs to herself, play games with random items, and be left alone. She uses her Lost-like abilities to travel between basements. If someone opens a door to whatever basement she is in, she will flee. If unable to flee (e.g. surprised while sleeping) she will panic and use her telekinesis to wring their necks. If she encounters a crying child her empathy will be aroused. She will keep the child from screaming (by paralyzing his or her vocal cords), will hold and caress the child, will wait for the adults to come down into the basement, at which point she will kill them. She thinks she is doing the child a favor. She is unable to realize that the children might not want their parents killed.

Awakened Animals: Hello "Jaws!" Basically animals that have been driven insane by horrible stuff become of human intellect and physically superpowered, able to revive themselves from situations that would have killed them, and of enhancing their physical abilities besides.

Supernatural Serial Killers: Basically they're Heroes who're either rapists or dispassionate "professional" murderers.

Jekyll: Basically one of their Psychodynamics sometimes takes the wheel and runs their body for a while. So take one of the Psychodynamics listed in an earlier post and have them care about nothing but the realm that PD is all about.

Algernons posted:

When people are born with little or no mental capacity, intelligence sometimes develops spontaneously. The soul begins to think for itself without depending on the neurons of the physical body. It is this tendency to develop intelligence where there is none that forced the powers-from-beyond to lock human souls in the bodies of intelligent animals (it is safer for humans to have limited intelligence than to develop nearly unlimited intelligence).

An Algernon goes quite suddenly from being profoundly subnormal to being a genius. The more retarded they were, the more likely they are to become Algernons. The change can happen at any time, but it is most likely to happen during a trauma or extreme stress.

Then there's an example Algernon and Jekyll. Basically the Algernon had Down's and now her new intelligence has made her OCD and besides that she very easily gets fascinated with a single thought and forgets everything around herself. All she really does is play the stock market with her MATH MIND and become rich. The Jekyll is a schoolteacher who used a SUPER TECH DEVICE to... become a dominant psychopath who rapes her students and is a total prick besides, except when her Shadow isn't in charge in which case she's just a shy little lady.

Creepy Kids: No, really, that's what the book calls them. Basically these are child versions of the Secret Lifers. Thankfully the only ones noted are Lost, Outcast and Wonderlanders, there are no 10-year-old Androgynes. Lost Kids are kind of cool since they're basically driven by their internal fantasy worlds into imagining that, for instance, "through this old closet is a path to somewhere magical!" and they can actually use that to Get Lost somewhere. Outcast Kids are either weirdos who hex their classmates or they're like Constantine and go screaming insane and get electroshock therapy. Wonderlander kids don't really need any describing.

The Creepy Kid NPC is a Lost child who got separated from her mom in a mall and has been unable to get properly back to reality ever since then, Getting Lost from location to location without much control. Most of her time she spends skipping from mall to mall across the world, joining up with whatever kids she meets there and pranking the hell out of mall security. She could almost be a PC for a very light-hearted IDA game. One accidental wandering into a mall in the Deserted City found her a cursed doll which she can wave at people and it'll tell them the thing they fear most of all, scaring them away and giving her a chance to leg it.

Cults: Somehow this is just a tiny side-note about some Native Americans who made ANTI-BULLET SHIRTS with which they FOUGHT THE WHITE MAN.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 15
11:35am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

SECRETS OF LOS ANGELES

And now we're into Quest Hook Territory. This is where we're going to be relentlessly pounded with badly-designed NPC's that the PC's are supposed to empathize with or fight.

Fulfillment Dynamics

Imagine a Scientology that is capable of using high-tech devices to selectively deleting parts of people's brains until they're mindless servants. Pretty much the same, masquerades as therapy/religion, actually has some techniques that could be useful if used well, but actually just works to make a profit and dominate people. Their SECRET DEVICE That allows them to do the brain deletion was designed by the founder after getting high and having drug-fuelled occult orgies for a month.

Founder is somehow a theist despite actively believing God is just a metaphor.

The Dog King of LA

A super-intelligent dog is behind a loan shark business, he has robot hands and likes fucking female dogs. This is all because he secretly has a HUMAN SOUL. He uses his MIND POWERS to get people he doesn't like mauled by dogs.

A PORTAL

Oooooh if you go into a spoooooky supernatural men's room one of the stalls will teleport you to another dimension! Oooooooh! Also you might get shivved by crack addicts hanging around there, ooooooooh!

The Devil Boys

Vietnamese gang hires an Animist to do his weird wizard stuff for them. This works out pretty well and now they're powerful. Like pretty much every other "evil" NPC, we're told how much he digs drugs and getting laid. And like every "ethnic" NPC so far, their shaman freaks out whenever he has to interact with people of other ethnicities.

The Blue Bus and The Lake Creature

The Blue Bus is basically public transit for another dimension. Really, the supernatural in IDA sucks shit at keeping hidden, since people who get on the wrong bus literally get driven to some horrid otherworldly place called The Citadel.

The Lake Creature is a huge, five-limbed, headless "humanoid." It lives in a lake until people near the lake are really depressed/angry, then it crawls out and looks at them with the ghosts in its stomach and they go catatonic forever. It's basically a Soul Janitor.

The Invisible

Another layer of reality which is full of life-sustaining jelly and all the public servants of reality live. Reapers, Storks, Rumblers, etc. etc. Also pretty much everything bad in the world is caused by them, including psychological problems, natural disasters and so forth. I guess this also means that meteorology and tectonics are SCIENCE LIES since THE INVISIBLE controls earthquakes and hurricanes!

Wrigglers

If you stand still for too long, one of these things latch on and cause some of the following miseries. Medicine can deal with the systems but never the cause, since the cause is an INVISIBLE GHOST WORM. Despite the fact that there are five Wrigglers to every human on Earth, and 1.5 Wrigglers(on average) attached to every person, only 1 out of 10 diseases are actually caused by these guys. Well, in the West, anyway. We're not told how it is in the ENLIGHTENED FOREIGN REGIONS.

quote:

Common: asthma, clumsiness, coughing, cramps, dizziness, fatigue, forgetfulness, headaches, indigestion, infertility, insomnia, nervousness, nightmares, nosebleeds, poor temper, tinnitus.

Rare: anemia, epilepsy, erotomania (an insatiable desire for sex), exhaustion, extreme vertigo, fetishism (inability to have sexual pleasure without some odd element present), hallucinations, sourceless pain, tooth loss, weakness, weight loss.

Very Rare: heart attack, stroke.

Haunter

quote:

Appearance- It looks like a naked human corpse, pale skinned and half rotten, hanging upside down with its legs attached to a wall. Although its mouth doesn’t move it is constantly saying things like “run away, this place is dangerous, get out of here, you’re going to die here.” When it moves it prefers to slide along a wall, although if it must it can leave the walls and float in midair.

Oh man this is just so TOTALLY UNLIKE conventional horror. They would never have scary corpses hanging around. Basically these guys' jobs are to police places where reality is broken and spook people off by mumbling weird shit at them.

Rumblers

Disaster superbugs! Somehow scientists never notice the crazy shit these guys do.

quote:

Some sink into the ground and create earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions; others float up into the sky and create hurricanes, floods or ice-storms.

Misc. Weirdos From Beyond

Wolves: Scrap broken or un-needed Invisible entities. Look like manta rays.

Crying Girls: Invisible crying girls that sit around looking miserable in the hope that someone who can see the Invisible will take pity on them. SURPRISE, SUCKERS, if you do that then she is a TRAP and will instakill you by crushing your heart with her ghooooost haaaands.

Starers: The same, except they look like old weirdos who will reach into your brain and give you a stroke.

Bad Talkers: Ghosts who mumble to themselves until you go insane. They have tentacles and shells and ooooo spoooooooky.

Storks: Bring souls to babies. Horses, cats and dogs are apparently the only non-human species who get to have souls.

Please note that 90% of these things just hang around and fuck shit up for EVERYONE. There are so many around that the PC's can't really deal with them, and if the PC's can't see the Invisible at all they can't even stop them locally. Only the Storks(who bring souls) have an even vaguely useful-to-humanity function. And if you get into a fight with these things, most of them can basically instakill you.

Servants of the Powers From Beyond

Grey Men

So these guys can edit history and mind control people. They can, at will, alter any written or otherwise-recorded data. So good luck ever having evidence of ANYTHING if they don't like you, or they can scramble the data on your PC, smartphone, whatever to fuck up your equipment. Made a map? LOLSCRAMBLED. But maybe the PC's can take them in a fair fight!

quote:

-Can instantly read and comprehend anything on any storage medium (books, papers, punch cards, film, magnetic tape, CDs, hard drives, etc.) within 20 ft. (6 m.).

-Can instantly change any aspect of the physical world except human anatomy. Takes 1 to 10 rounds depending on the severity of the change.

-Can change human anatomy with a roll of 1d20 vs. 10 (humans get moderate difficulty opposed will roll).

-Can command humans to do, believe or remember anything at 1d20 vs. 10 (humans get moderate difficulty opposed WIL roll).

-Can pass through walls.

-Can know what humans are thinking within 20 ft. (6 m.).

-Can browse through human memories (the humans experience spontaneous recall of those memories).

Or no, they can't, because their lungs are now full of sarin gas and their legs have come off. Or maybe their clothes caught fire or the floor is literally lava. Their "typical attack" is to pelt you with instantly-created bullets of poisonous diamond. Oh and they're superhumanly intelligent and since they can read your thoughts good luck ever fucking hiding from them.

Surgeons

These guys can unlock any blockage just by touching it, cannot be captured on film and can make you pass out just by looking at you. Then they haul you into a pocket dimension and use you for medical experimentation until they get bored.

Angels

Pass messages to the mortal servants of the Powers From Beyond and are the ones prodding Rumblers into action when a city needs to be consumed by magma or something similar. This is their entire purpose. Also if they dislike someone specifically they just glow very brightly until the person is roasted to death.

Torturers

quote:

These are beings that the powers-from-beyond have allowed to run free in this world, usually in human form, hunting, torturing and killing humans. They are allowed to torture and kill as much as they want so long as they don’t leave any evidence that they are supernatural. Once they start breaking that rule the powers-from-beyond or the powers-that-be hunt them down and destroy them. The powers-from-beyond may occasionally call on them to kill a specific human.

The torturers all have some sort of grudge against humanity. They like toying with humans and proving that they are superior to humans.

But why? What fucking sense does this make? They can just use angels and Gray Men to incinerate/delete people they have trouble with and have less risk of these crazy murder-bugs cluing people in to the existence of the supernatural! Shit, isn't one of their conspiracies convincing everyone that the Abrahamic religions are real? Then DIVINE INCINERATION from angels should be COMPLETELY IN LINE with their fucking goals.

Anyway these guys are shapeshifting deathspiders that are allergic to silver. The example Torturer has a really shitty sense of humour, like HK-47 with Down's, and just hunts humans to help its poor self esteem because it's actually afraid of us and wants to convince itself that the mean old humans can't harm it any longer.

The Red Sun

We used to have another sun, THE RED SUN, which was intelligent and tyrannical, so the Powers From Beyond flung it into space and gave us a stupid, less-troublesome yellow sun. Now THE RED SUN wishes to return and resume its dominance! Luckily, despite being a literally star-sized mind with FTL travel capabilities, it's too stupid to remember where we were.



Thankfully while it has lots of dumb, down-on-their-luck people convinced that they will become GOD KINGS OF EARTH when it returns, so far all the Astronomers it's contacted in their dreams have apparently decided not to help it, or dismissed its contact as just dreams. Its servants become immune to fire and can make people burn just by concentrating on it really hard for a minute or so. Considering that there's no obvious sign of them being the source of the burning, there's really no way the PC's could ever defeat an even slightly intelligent servant of the Red Sun.

The Red Sun also doesn't need any wacky ritual to summon it, it literally just needs a really good astronomer to think about exactly where in the Milky Way Earth is, then it'll travel here at WARP SPEED, beat up our Yellow Sun behind the school and rule us once more. So it's kind of a... if these guys are succeeding enough to be noticable, we'll have noticed it because we're already fucked. The only PC's who'd ever know about these guys or wrangle with them would really be if one of them was an astronomer they were trying to kidnap, or the PC's were a team of Professionals.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 14
11:33am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

The word Secrets has started to lose all meaning to me

Alright, still a bit before Wraeththu, I think I've got about 80 or so pages of IDA remaining, and they're going to be all the juicy fluff stuff. Before I'm done with that, I'm going to get my scanned hooked up and then you can all partake in Wraeththu with me.

Secrets of the Professionals

These were the servants of The Man who killed all the noble freedom-fighting rapists and such. It starts with the bombshell that Powers From Beyond are responsible for the fact that we're not idiots chilling in the trees any longer, they're responsible for Scientific Rationalism, the rise of nations and Monotheism.

quote:

Smart leaders realized that is was what they were doing, not who they were, that gained them favor of the powers-from-beyond and so they kept doing it, even passed it down to their successors. The kings of Israel had favor of the powers-that-be because they practiced monotheism and discouraged homosexuality. This favor allowed the Jews to triumph over many superior forces. Yet after the death of Christ, Christianity emerged as a proselytizing monotheism capable of converting the Roman empire from paganism. Favor of the powers-from-beyond quickly transferred to the Christians.

Yet Christianity was born in a time where many cultures were coming together to share their beliefs: Greek philosophy, tribal mysticism, pagan occultism, even ideas from Buddhism found their way into Israel. Gnosticism (see p.152) developed as a variant of Christianity, yet the tenants of Gnosticism were dangerously close to the truth. Gnosticism was a threat to the powers-that-be and its enemies were given special favor by the powers-from-beyond in order to eliminate it.

Honestly if anything really pisses me off about shit like this and Psi-Watch it's how they steal all these genuine issues/historical things and turn them into BIG BADS FROM OTHER DIMENSIONS ARE CAUSING IT! Hence basically raping all of the nuance out of them. And how all the people they don't like are SECRET SERVANTS OF THE BIG BADS.

A sidebar informs us that all Western witches were bullshit. Even in YE OLDE TIMES it had no power because I guess the West has always been TOO LOGICAL. All the witches who had "power" were really just crazy people with poison that they used to kill neighbours, husbands and livestock.

Back to the Professionals, seems that the Inquisition were the first of these guys. So they've basically been mondo assholes since inception. How are they supposed to work as PC's again when their entire job description is "kill what the other PC's are"? Templars, Assassins and Islamic empires were also superpowered by EVIL POWERS FROM BEYOND. The Renaissance? Caused by the EVIL POWERS FROM BEYOND favouring merchants instead of churches, I guess Capitalists are also an extension of Cthulhu.


Written language? Western medicine? ALL EVIL!

So these guys are the Order of the Protector and to ADVANCE IN THE RANKS they at some point tell you to kill someone you know is completely innocent, just because they say so. Apparently they're testing to see if you're retarded, and you only get to progress if you are. "By the twenty-fifth degree the Professional must be willing to kill children or torture innocent people." What is the fucking sense in only allowing amoral sociopaths to progress? Why would you give more powers to the sort of people who'd feel no moral twinge at using them against you? This is fucking stupid.

Revelations posted:

Fifth Degree: Many small cults pop up which ‘accidentally’ gain supernatural powers. These cults should be wiped out quickly, if they don’t destroy themselves first. One group believes they worship a ‘red sun.’ They seek out astronomical charts and have the power to start fires.

Sixth Degree: Certain strong emotions can shatter reality. Places, objects and people associated with shatters can have dangerous powers to warp reality. Christian martyrs, repressed Victorian young woman and anonymous homosexual sex in public places were the source of many shatters.

OH NO, A CULT THAT'S MASTERED MATCHES. And secondly, how the fuck is this supposedly "enlightened" asshole managing to stereotype and degrade homosexuals more than the people who think they should all be burned at the stake? Because yes, anonymous gay hookups in bathrooms are such a huge thing. And straight people are totally not prone to it because they're being manipulated by the Cthulhus into believing the nuclear family is a great idea!

Professionals get all of two NPC's! The first is Lawrence, a forgettable Professional that will kill you with guns. The second is Wallace, one of the people who CONTROL THE WORLD.

quote:

He hates poor people, sexual “deviants” and smart-ass progressives.

...

Besides gaining power, his other pleasure in life is having sex with children.

...

In a given day he might ‘fix problems’ by financing a military coup, manipulating markets to cause an economic depression in certain countries and paying the mafia to assassinate a public figure.

...

When he slips past his security to have sex with children his only protection is his personal assistant, who has a ballistic vest and automatic pistol.

Oh.

I guess that pretty well hammers home that this guy is an Ultimate Badguy. Also apparently he hates himself. Also I like how the methods of the Guys That Rule Everything is apparently just to make the world miserable. Because, I mean, totally, stability and normality would be harmful for everyone! It's not like some of these supernaturals are directly triggered by seeking extremist religion(Cannibals) or being despondent and drugged-up(Lost, Faustians)! And those things never happen when times are bad! This is stupid.

Secrets of the Scribblers

As we already know, Scribblers keep in contact by believing any fucking thing they see written on a wall. Why they haven't all died because a Professional wrote a recipe for nerve poison annotated with: "TRY THIS TO ACHIEVE ENLIGHTENMENT," I don't know. Especially as they're all Philosophy students, essentially, and hence would probably not know a recipe for nerve gas if they saw one written down. But hey, this is IDA, the Evil Powers of Evil are terminally retarded and just wash away the graffiti instead.

There are also only 500 Scribblers world-wide, yet apparently they're all concentrated enough that they can pass each other these physical messages. One guy with a camera near a painted-up wall and the Professionals could get the identities of 99% of them. This. Is. Stupid.

quote:

Metaphysics- Although the techniques Scribblers use to gain supernatural abilities can be traced back to Gnosticism, Greek mysteries, occultism, psychotherapy, surrealism and even rituals stolen from the Templars, all rely on the Scribbler’s disbelief in the physical world as their source of power.

So I guess if you like surrealist art enough you become a WORD WIZARD????

quote:

Scribblers disdain the world of external phenomena which they believe keeps them from the truth.

I fucking know, right? Fuck empirical data! I'm just going to believe my way to the truth! Because Plato gave us so many scientific advances!


An example of a library book ruined after Scribblers have had their filthy hands near it

Their NPC is an old, disillusioned dude who did experiments to confirm that reality was a lie. But wait, wouldn't that entail empirical data? Wouldn't that entail humouring the real world for long enough to do experiments? Isn't this... GAH! Fuck internal consistency, I guess! He's also a terrorist who uses his magical powers to attack the FBI, police and schools. Great guy! He also hates the world so much that he basically Nihilistic Rages everything around him into destruction unless he tries to control it.

Secrets of the Survivors

Yadda yadda, not much new here except we're told that the "storks" are actually ghost birds, not actual birds. At least that makes the setting make a bit more sense. We also get stats for Reapers, who are dumb as fucking rocks. Literally an Intellect stat of 0. But thankfully, as we know from the stat chapter, INL doesn't actually determine how cleverly you can act.

Reapers posted:

Do not die of old age, and their memory is limitless.

...

Reapers are about as intelligent as a cat, yet they have instinctual knowledge of various things that are dangerous to human life. They thus excel at problem solving where the problem is how to alter the environment to kill a person. They are emotionless and fearless. They do not communicate. They only do the job they were created to do.

...

Reapers are beings created and manufactured by the powers-from-beyond to do a specific job. They are the smartest and toughest of the beings manufactured for use in this reality. They are the main line of defense between humans and immortality.


Reapers look kinda neat

The Survivor NPC is a guy who got told of a MAGICAL CAVE by MAGICAL INDIANS and went there and the Reapers chasing him got vaporized by the creepy cave. Since all it took to get this done was basically to interview every mystic weirdo in sight and since the Reapers were apparently dumb enough to follow him in there and get disintegrated, it's really a wonder that there are any Survivors not free of their Reapers. Also he's lived for so long that he's now an asshole because apparently living for a long time makes you bored, and when you're really bored you become evil.

quote:

He often forces his lovers to join him on dangerous adventures (robbing convenience stores, driving up to gang members and calling them ‘putos,’ driving the wrong way on the freeway) which he does simply to enjoy his dates’ fear.

Also note that he's staggeringly rich and important. So, how the fuck does he get away with doing ALL THIS HIGHLY PUBLIC SHIT, AND BEING A VERY VISIBLE FIGURE, and not getting tracked down by the Professionals? They were apparently canny enough to hunt down Scribblers when they were just writing anonymous notes in a fucking library book, but they can't find and incinerate this asshole? Also despite being born in 1820 he has somehow not spent his time learning anything beyond how to be a really good wrestler and how to snap people's necks. Interestingly enough he uses the hilarious "breaking necks is fucking simple"-loophole to be monstrous at it.

He does sort of make a decent enemy, though. He's not hanging out in alternate dimensions and he's brutal enough with Flesh Control and similar to make for a murderous boss battle. Plus he's a giant asshole so the PC's would have a reason to end up fighting him. On the other hand he pretty much stays out of all supernatural business, so the PC's would really have no fucking reason to fight him unless they want to wring the location of REAPER KILLER CAVE out of him.

Secrets of the Wonderlanders

quote:

In Brief- Victorian Children’s book authors discovered how to travel into the subconscious of kids by linking the subconsciouses to a vibrant fantasy world, learned to become immortal by living in those subconsciouses.

It wasn’t until 1910 that the children’s books authors used techniques recently developed by Freud for probing the subconscious mind to determine that the playworlds were manifestations of the children’s subconsciouses. Using an admixture of spiritualism, occultism and Freudian techniques the authors discovered ways to send their consciousness into the playlands of their children.

An ailing elderly member was in a Playland when her physical body died, but she soon contacted the other members to tell them she was still alive in the playland. The group devised a scheme for their own immortality. They would each escape death by hiding in the playlands of their children, then convince those children to do the same.

You know, I hate to say it, but so far this is pretty much some of the sort-of coolest stuff in this book, once we get to the details of the Wonderlanders. Hell, you could base an entire game about Lost and Wonderlanders diving into Playlands to kick these guys in the junk, because they're basically brainwashing the poor kids whose Playlands they're in. The whole thing's layered sort of like bubbles, if a mind dies, then the Playland it's created dies as well. But if the owner dies while in a Playland, the mind keeps going, essentially, I presume, making that Playland "self-sustaining" as long as no one charges in and fucks it up.

quote:

Humans have incredible power over reality. They can make things ‘exist’ simply by believing hard enough. The requisite belief is emotional and not intellectual. Humans have to feel the truth of a thing, which is a power which dawns with the birth of imagination and slips away quickly as a young person becomes more indoctrinated into the rules of “real” and “not real.” The ability to imagine things real peaks at around 4 or 5 years.

OH, YES, WE ARE INDOCTRINATING CHILDREN, TOO. TAKING AWAY THEIR MAGIC BY TEACHING THEM ABOUT THE REAL WORLD. Fucking IDA, is there any part of the modern, adult life you don't loathe with a passion? But yeah that's it, a creepy cult of old brainwashers are using children's minds as hideouts to be immortal in by basically programming them to believe in these things and nurturing these beliefs as they grow up.

The Wonderlander NPC is a "spider at the center of the web,"-type, living within Playlands within Playlands within Playlands, etc. until she's tucked away deep enough that no one who doesn't know she exists will ever find out. Her only real goal is to keep her "empire" existing and expanding, and if anyone ever threatens or pisses off "her children," or might get in the way of them developing proper Playlands, she basically wanders into their brains and shreds their Psychodynamics, making them them insane or braindead.

She's made herself a Playland mansion where she spends her time puttering around in the garden like a nice old grandmother, and she forces "her children" to resume their child forms and personas when visiting her, otherwise she beats them to within an inch of death. She's a right old cunt. But all in all, she could kind of work as a game villain, assuming the PC's have ways of keeping her from just murdering their minds in passing.

Anyway, that's it for all of the Secret Life secrets. Beyond this is now the setting fluff, creatures/enemies and at least one pre-made adventure, by the looks of it. Thankfully we'll soon be done with this pile of shit.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 13
11:24am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Up to my neck in secrets

Secrets of the Heroes

If you remember, Heroes were our lovable semi-insane vigilantes who had either animal familiars, Generic Occult Powers or High Tech Devices that helped them DO BATTLE WITH EVIL. This section basically tells us that they are literally serial killers who are just more picky about their victims.

quote:

Familiar: These Heroes have come across a partially awakened animal. This is a servant of humanity from before human souls were trapped in this reality. Like human souls, these servants are more-or-less immortal and are kept prisoner by the powers-from-beyond in the bodies of animals. Due to some supernatural or h-tech accident the animal became partially awakened and regained some of its powers and intelligence. It cannot remember its life before this world, nor can it escape from the body it has been placed in, but it was able to find its former master.

Wait what? Kult? What are you doing here? What did Brian do to you?! Way to jack Kult's setting and make it even worse, jackass.

Their end-of-section note is a stained piece of paper from a Hero detailing his HEROIC EXPLOITS. First he kills some drug dealers, then he kills a prostitute, then he murders some "gangbangers & family members." After every killing he obsessively washes his hands and notes for how long. Finally he kills a supernatural creature that begs for mercy and tells him it's just taking revenge for MEAN OLD HUMANITY that used to have its kind as slaves back when we were powerful! (hello again Kult) He then scrubs his hands until he can see muscle and tendons.

The Hero NPC is... something.

quote:

Richard was born to a working-class Black family. He was a sensitive, shy boy. His father left when he was seven and this sent him into a spiral of isolation, self-hatred and loneliness that left him friendless during his adolescent years. He entertained himself with fantasies of violence, of him slaughtering armies of racists, terrorists, mafioso, etc. Soon he was living more in his fantasies than in the real world. After high school he had a series of demeaning customer service and manual labor jobs that barely paid the rent. He was poor, lonely and desperate.

One evening blood started to drip from his ceiling. He called the cops but nobody came. He went to check on his neighbor and found his neighbor hanging from his neck, pierced with a dozen kitchen knives and masturbating. There was an explosion and a knife cut his hand. Moths started flying from the wound until Richard bound the wound up.

The wound would not heal and continued to expel moths whenever unbound. Richard decided the moths were either a curse or a gift from god, and that he was responsible for using them to smite sinners. He trained and equipped himself as a vigilante. Over the next 30 years he killed more than 100 drug dealers, as well as pimps, rapists, abortion doctors, convenience store robbers, carjackers, child molesters, serial killers, innocent people who he mistakenly thought were committing crimes and innocent people who were hit by stray bullets.

quote:

His most intense relationships are imaginary relationships with the people he saves. There are a number of terrified young women who he harasses with anonymous letters and phone calls. Richard has a black and white view of morality: anyone who kills or rapes deserves to die.

So basically we have a wannabe-tough guy with a hand that shoots moths. How the fuck does this guy manage to rack up over 100 kills including shitloads of supernatural things without getting his head taken off? The moths will "fly out and bite people," but all it does is create distracting pain and briefly blind them with the swarm, not actually doing any damage. This guy has no concept of subtlety, so why hasn't a Professional offed him by now? Why hasn't some random goon with a shotgun offed him? Why, in fact, haven't the fucking COPS done something about this guy who runs around on the streets in riot-armor dual-wielding silenced pistols? MOTH HAAAAANDS isn't exactly subtle or an ability that lets you evade a manhunt.

Unlike most of the other NPC's, I guess at least he's functional as an opponent because he has no truly bullshit/unbeatable powers, and the PC's have reasons to find him(and the ability to do so) and murder his eerie, fuckfaced self.

Secrets of the Lost

quote:

There have been Lost as long as humans have had souls. Becoming Lost was frightening and dangerous: an aboriginal person who got Lost would most likely wind up in the camp of some group who spoke a different language and would kill a stranger.

Yes, because those horrible savages would murder anyone who looked different on sight! This is only mentioned in relation to this, apparently all other eras have Lost bungling into only CIVILIZED COMPANY that accepts them as friends.

quote:

Psychogeography was created in 1958 but didn’t really become popular until the 1980s. It was popularized by the Situationists, a group that was influenced by the Surrealists and Existentialists. Psychogeography is the art of wandering a city at random and mapping how different parts of the city made one feel. Some of the psychogeographers became Lost.

This is apparently a real thing. But judging by a quick browse, he's simplifying it to the point of aggressively missing some of the point. Then we get BLAH BLAH MORE KULT RIP-OFF, THE BODY IS A PRISON FOR THE SOUL. YOU CAN TOTALLY BE FREE OF THE "TYRANNY OF SPACE" IF YOU FIGURE THIS OUT.

Killer Lost sidebar posted:

Although very few Lost have ever thought to do so, it is possible for very powerful Lost to use the Grab Bag skill to kill people by remote. They need a body with a large hole in it. They can then reach in and pull out the internal organs of an enemy. The Grab Bag skill requires that the person not know what’s in the container, so the Lost can’t know that the body they are reaching into doesn’t contain the organs of their enemies, which means they can’t know whose body it is they are reaching into. This skill is therefore extremely difficult to use. Yet when done correctly it allows a Lost to kill an enemy anywhere in the world and the enemy doesn’t have any means of defense.

Welcome to a sidebar which, while kind of cool, is basically useless for the game. If an enemy has this, the PC's will just keel over dead, missing vital organs, with no defenses, no way of tracking him down. If the PC's do this, they trivialize any fight against any human opponent as long as they have access to a morgue or can find and kill someone whose intestines they do not know in detail.

Revelations posted:

The Lost doesn’t experience revelations by being told things but by seeing things. The Lost have the ability to wander out of this reality, to see the subconscious, the land of the dead, the deserted city, the citadel and the machinery of this reality. A member of the Lost may even find the sleeping body of his or her true self. Whether the Lost has any idea what it is they are seeing is another matter.

Metropolis? The Citadels? What sort of ass-tastic ripoff is this turning out to be? I mean seriously, we've yet to reach the fluff on these parts, but so far it's REALLY sounding like they're just ganking Kult fluff left and right.

The Lost NPC is a brain-damaged old Mexican who has maxed levels in all the Lost abilities(Grab Bag, Get Lost, Homing), he has brain damage to the level of Kender/Fishmalk ADHD, no concept of morality and practically no ability to remember things past the last few minutes. If anything pisses him off he'll instantly whip Grab Bag'd submachineguns out of the nearest container and hose the party down with bullets.

So basically: He's got powers the PC's will never be able to beat, he can always avoid them or kill them and is untrackable, making him an awful choice for an enemy. And his brain damage means that he's completely useless as an info NPC. He couldn't even be used as a pre-made PC because of a combination of his power level and brain damage.

Secrets of the Outcasts

IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS, EVERYONE BELIEVED THAT THE CRAZY SCHIZOPHRENICS HAD INSIGHT. THEN WE LOST THIS CLEVERNESS AND THOUGHT THEY WERE CRAZY, AND LOCKED THEM UP, OH WOE IS OUR LACK OF WISDOM. NOW THEY ARE WANDERING ARMIES OF CRAZY HOBOS WHO HAVE CULTURE WARS ABOUT WHETHER THE MIND WORMS ARE DEMONS OR ALIENS.

The explanation for their SEEING SHIT is basically that they have SOOOOOOUL EEEEEEEYES like what Cannibals get when they pluck theirs out, but most people are, and I quote, "too lazy to see the truth." Not blinded by metaphysical bullshit or physical limitations, just too LAZY.

quote:

They may discover that this world is a machine: storks bring souls to human fetuses, wrigglers plague us with problems to make sure our lives are not easy and when we die reapers take our souls away.

My mind is full of WHAT THE FUCK? Are we talking ghost storks? Spirit storks? Is everyone born without a visiting physical stork some sort of soulless machine?

Nothing noteworthy about the Outcast NPC or End Text, except that the Outcast NPC is actually kind of useful. He's not overpowered or cripplingly insane. He's in charge of a bunch of crazies at an institution, meaning he has a group of minions that could technically cause trouble for the PC's without instakilling them, and he Sees Shit like any other Outcast, so he could be a good info NPC.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 12
11:18am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

MORE SECRETS

Secrets of the Animists!

quote:

In Europe, the last real Animists (“witches”) died in 1490 (see p.206 for more). Today, modern society is encroaching on the few remote wilderness areas that still have animistic cultures and converting those people to Christianity or Islam. There has been recent interest in shamanism by Westerners, but this ‘neo-shamanism’ is no threat to anyone. The neo-shamans approach shamanism from a framework of western thought and ideas and, like modern occultists, are almost never able to achieve real power.

THE WEST IS SUBJUGATING THE TRUE RELIGIONS THAT UNDERSTAND THE SPIRITS, yet it only mentions Animism, Islam and Christianity. What about polytheistic-yet-not-animist religions? Were they also evil creations of the POWERS-THAT-BE? Or did they have power, too? I guess IDA doesn't bother to consider these things. Nothing in this world but WHITE MAN VS BROWN MAN, HERMAPHRODITE VS THE NON-GENDERQUEER.

Some animists are also powerful enough to become WIZARD GHOSTS when they die.

quote:

Much of Animist practice involves identifying, removing and even attacking people with what many Animists call ‘misfortunes’ and Outcasts call ‘wrigglers.’ These are the invisible beings that cause many of humanity’s diseases and other problems. Yet not every illness is caused by an invisible creature. Some are caused by microorganisms or physiological failures, just as scientists and doctors believe, and Animists find themselves powerless in the face of these illnesses. In cities the proportion of illnesses caused by microorganisms and toxins is greater than in Animist’s aboriginal homelands. Thus many Animist healers find their powers faltering in the face of modern medicine.

So wait, in the West, most illness IS caused by scientific things, and can be resolved by scientific means... then maybe the Powers That Be are just oppressing the Animist stuff because it seems like ineffectual bullshit to them? And the GM may happily decide that an Animist can't do something about some trouble because SCIENCE DID IT, NOT SPIRITS? And wait, if the West is largely right about how we treat things in our part of the world, how are we misguided by stomping out this shit?

And for that matter, if illnesses in far-flung corners of the world are NOT science-caused, shouldn't that mean that things like quinine and vaccines wouldn't work against native diseases? Because they'd be EVIL SPIRIT WORMS?

This makes no fucking sense.

quote:

Animists’ ‘guardian spirits’ are really human psychodynamics. The ‘spirit world’ they live in is really the combined subconscious realms of the psychodynamics. When Animists are possessed they are allowing psychodynamics (or occasionally Dances, see p.193) to take control of their bodies. Most of an Animist’s psychodynamics take the form of entities from the Animistic culture’s myths. Insomuch as the ‘spirits’ have self-awareness, they believe they are those mythological figures.

Ah, I guess the answer is that even the Animists are wrong and TRUE SUPERNATURAL POWER is... actually granted by incarnate Freudian psychodynamics? I suspect that my brain is going to start leaking out of my eye sockets when we reach that bit.

The Animist NPC is an absurdly powerful WIZARD GHOST who never hangs around in the mortal realm if he can help it, on account of Reapers wanting to collect him for the afterlife. So basically he's never going to be anywhere the PC's can interact with him if it's up to him, and he's lost most of his memories when his physical body died anyway. Despite having an above-average intellect, his reaction to "white persons" is to circle them like an animal and throw rocks at them.

Secrets of the Cannibals!

Background: The Dead Sea Scrolls were actually all sorts of crazy Gnostic heresies that revealed how to become a Cannibal!

Wizard Secrets: Normally the soul conforms to the body, Cannibals know how to rigid it up so they can lop off parts without losing a chunk of their soul in the process, and then use that part of the soul to do what the lost part of the body used to do.

That's seriously all there is about them. Oh and their NPC is a floating, limbless, mostly disassembled corpse who will punch out your heart if you disrupt his meditations. He has literally no contact with, or understanding of, the modern world, and spends all his time hanging out at a monastery and chanting and/or meditating. He's even less likely to encounter any PC's or deal with them in a helpful manner than Indian Ghost Wizard from the Animists.

Secrets of the Faustians!

quote:

In Brief- Experiences, and the desire to express them, in undisturbed abandoned buildings coalesce into entities (‘Dances’). These entities become powerful and intelligent when they reproduce themselves in human subconsciouses. Powerful Dances can make backup homes and can turn humans into undead experience-machines.

This section actually makes Dances intensely creepy. They're these blobs of sensory input that want to replicate themselves and guard themselves. So first they get some Faustians who keep them safe, then they get those Faustians to create copies of the places where they were created, in both feel and appearance. Then they capture weak-willed people, even weaker than Faustians, or the Faustians capture normal people and break their minds.

Then those people get stuck in one of those replica locations and get to just stay there, forever, experiencing those same experiences over and over and over and over and fucking over, to perpetuate the Dance. And eventually, the Dance will be sated with that, and will need to "bud off" again. But before it reaches that point, it'll want to accelerate the pace of saturation. It does this by cutting its captives in half, vertically, so they can experience twice as much at the same time. So you have these severed corpses just prancing around old, mouldering apartments, reading books, listening to the radio, looking at pictures...

Even for Faustians the Dance grows in their head like a tumor, slowly stealing more and more neural processing power and pushing out all other influences. This is really how Dances become sentient, by processing themselves on human neural architecture.

Of course, Dances are kind of vulnerable because you can either burn down their core lairs, kill their servants or even just run in and experience wrong things, or mess up the lair so that the drones there experience non-Dance things.

Sadly, the Dances feel kind of peripheral to the setting as a whole. If they were more intelligent, more prevalent or had any plans beyond PRESERVE SELF they could be kind of cool setting villains. As it is, Faustians get the wimpiest and least interesting powers and even if they manage to discover the Dance inside their own heads and take control if by pure force of will, all they can force it to do is abandon its hosts. Dances don't even know enough by themselves or learn enough things outside of what they are that they can be used as handy informants. Kind of a shame.

The Faustian NPC is a black hobo with chloroform and a silenced pistol. Unlike the others, she's more of an antagonist NPC and PC's might A) actually encounter her and B) might actually be able to fight her if they do!

The little shred of fiction at the end details a patient who's an obvious Dance-host. The cops broke into one of its lairs because of the missing people, and chopped-up puppets, inside, and arrested the only surviving puppet(this guy). The people in the asylum who're keeping him stored(because they figure he's insane, not possessed) start reporting that the other inmates are beginning to act like him, talk like him, draw things he describes... becoming more Dance-puppets.

Next time: More secrets! Including one that is pretty much a straight-up rip-off from Kult! Oh boy!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 11
11:10am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Cities & Secrets

Chapter Four: Los Angeles

And finally, at long last, we actually get to all the SETTING stuff. The very first bit is Chapter Four, which is an excessively long chapter about Los Angeles, being the "basic" setting for In Dark Alleys.

Looks like not even Brian could really fuck this one up, though, and the mistakes are relatively minor. For instance, a sidebar mucks up the history of Noir, in part as detailed by a friend I asked to look it over because he loves his detectives and I figured he'd know more than me.

Ran posted:

First, the Maltese Falcon was a book before it was a film, and it predated Marlowe by ten or fifteen years.

Second, it wasn't really based around L.A., though it may have done LA's reputation that kind of damage internationally. I wouldn't really be that surprised; the facts of the matter wouldn't have a lot of bearing on what people took away.

Third, Chandler was in no way the father of Noir. He wrote a lot of influential books, but he was also largely following in Hammet's footsteps, I think -- I may tend to idolize Sam Spade novels more than Marlowe ones, though.


The sidebar in question

The start of the chapter focuses on historical issues I don't know well enough to critique but which SEEM mostly factual(the one thing I suspect might be his bias is his insistence that the natives prior to Europeans settling the area had holy crossdressers, anyone know how true this is? No one I asked seemed to have a clue).

quote:

The L.A. area Indians also had people who dressed and lived as the opposite sex and were generally considered holy.

There's also an insistence that Liberals in LA are basically evil, while everywhere else in the country they are Noble Progressives, in LA they apparently only support good causes because those causes subtly benefit themselves. But they hate homeless people and minorities.

I'm also told by Americans that this bit...

quote:

In 1914, Birth of a Nation was filmed in L.A. This movie showed the Klu Klux Klan as the saviors of a South in crisis after the end of the Civil War. Birth of a Nation was generally regarded as the greatest movie of its era by White Americans and it began the shift of the movie industry from the East Coast to Hollywood.

...is somewhat exaggerated in how it portray's people's joy about Birth of a Nation, apparently it wasn't quite so universally acclaimed. But I guess, to Brian Vajra, white man has to be EVIL MAN in all ways possible.

The demographic sections and the descriptions of how miserable it can be to be an illegal immigrant or homeless seem pretty straight-up with no hyperbole, which is a first. Really the most hilarious part of this section is the small bit of art it grants us.


I mean, look at that shit!

I suspect SOME of the stuff about how evil the LAPD is are exaggerated but, you know, I just don't know enough to really make that call. But if anyone wants to correct me, they're basically presented like the cops out of a cyberpunk story, showing no respect to anyone who isn't directly paying their wages, which is of course rich, white people in walled-off communities.

Slightly un-necessary is probably the "Sex Industry" headline that gives us a detailed shopping list of what it costs to buy various services from prostitutes in different parts of LA. I mean, yeah, okay, I can totally see when it's relevant to know how much a crack-addicted prostitute charges for a blowjob???

But really, it's a mostly unimpressive chapter which doesn't prepare us at all for...

CHAPTER FIVE: SECRETS OF THE TOUCHED


tl;dr, this chapter will blow your miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind

Holy shit aren't you just EXCITED? I totally know I am until I realize that alphabetic organization means we're stumbling headfirst back into Androgyne Avenue. Hang on to your balls before some bishounen with a monstrous, fanged penis steals them from you.

SECRETS OF THE ANDROGYNES

quote:

Since prehistory, people have chosen to dress and live as another gender, either with or without the knowledge and sanction of society. Almost every culture in aboriginal North America had what Whites called “berdache”, people who lived as the other gender and were often considered holy or powerful.

In the mid 20th century, when homosexuality was thought of by most homosexuals as a terrible secret (and by society as a crime and a mental illness), men met in public restrooms known as ‘tea rooms’ for anonymous sex. Many of these men lived as heterosexuals except for the few minutes they spent in these tea rooms. Occasionally the sex would lead to a supernatural accident, usually killing the participants. Nobody wanted to admit to being there, so nobody reported or talked about the supernatural accidents.

Later in the century, tea room sex lost most of its power as homosexuality became more accepted and homosexual sex roles and rituals standardized.

Just let that sink in for a moment. Gay sex wasn't dangerous because it might get you beaten to death by intolerant maniacs, it was dangerous because you might accidentally wizard it up and teleport your own head off or something. Then the GENDERQUEERS arrive and they're new and enlightened and their WISE PHILOSOHERS figure out how to recreate the TEA ROOM INCIDENTS to become... The Androgynes.

quote:

When an Androgyne tries to eliminate gender roles in hirself, two things happen. First, the Anima or Animus becomes weaker as more of it is incorporated into the conscious self. Less psychological energy is caught up in that psychodynamic and the energy is available to the conscious self. Second, genderless sex has less to distract participants from the pure sharing of pleasure and is thus more likely to cause a minor awakening in the soul. Androgynes are trained to recognize these minor awakenings and take advantage of the brief weakening of the laws of physics.

I'm really glad IDA doesn't have a sci-fi supplement of any kind, I can only imagine warp cores that are 24/7 orgies dedicated to weakening the laws of physics enough that the ship can travel at FTL speeds.

quote:

Some have found that “miracles” have favored societies that were sexually restrictive, helping them thrive and destroy more permissive civilizations. To an Androgyne historian, the bible is a chronicle of some supernatural force, masquerading as ‘god’, manipulating historical events to wipe out sexually permissive pagan religions.

BECAUSE EVERY NON-ABRAHAMIC RELIGION WAS A 24/7 JIZZY FUCKFEST ORGY BETWEEN BISHOUNEN LADY-MEN.

quote:

Various elder Androgynes are in possession of artifacts from sex-related shatters including: Mary Sutton’s Bloody Rags, the Vertigo Card, and the Glory Hole (p.244).

I fucking swear to God.

The Androgyne NPC we get for this section is basically a guy who rapes rich people with his mutant genitalia to "terrify them with bizarre changes during sex." He was first enlightened to the existence of WIZARD SEX when some gay dudes banging in a toilet stall next to his accidentally chopped themselves apart like something out of the fucking Event Horizon. Please note the constant stereotypes that all gay dudes are trawling for dick in public bathrooms, because they're all over the fucking place.

quote:

Vox has almost completely stopped thinking of hirself as male or female. Vox thinks of hirself as a lover, explorer and, most importantly, as a freedom fighter trying to save humanity from the tyranny of gender. Sie doesn’t think it’s wrong to destroy property or ruin the lives of those who support, consciously or not, gender roles. Vox loves to confuse, disorient and scare ‘normals.’

Vox's standard reaction to being attacked is, and I quote: "An entangle with hir genital probe."

I don't want to be alive any longer. So I'm going to leave you with a GIFT while I regain the motivation to keep breathing and tackling the rest of the SECRETS OF THE TOUCHED. It is the gift of POETRY.

Passion, by CrotchPower posted:

I stare into your eyes. You seem more real than any person I’ve ever met. Your mouth opens slightly. I feel like I am running down a hill and as the incline grows steeper I must run faster and faster to stay on my feet. Yet there is no fear here, not in this world we have carved for ourselves. Your breath is hard and fast. I can feel my heart pounding in my lips, the lobes of my ears, the tips of my fingers. The air between us is filled with warm moisture. Every part of my body aches with desire to touch you.

We pull ourselves together. We both know the steps to this dance, make them in perfect harmony, although neither is leading. There is softness in your skin, but strength under it. Your body presses against mine and my breath is taken away. We kiss and time is banished. Only this moment exists. Your taste is on my tongue. Your smell fills my nostrils. The warmth of your skin is all over me. Your wordless sounds of pleasure fill my ears. To me there is only you. There has never been anything else and never will be anything. You are the universe.

We lay ourselves down. In no hurry, we slide over each other, positioning ourselves so we can each discover the fire burning between the other’s legs. A touch there and we feel electricity leaping between us, traveling through our spines, filling our bodies with a holy vibration. For a moment we are tentative, afraid that this experience will be too intense, that it will obliterate us. Yet we cannot stop, the parts of our minds that make decisions are like tiny insects buzzing against the wrath of a hurricane.

Our fingers dig into each other’s flesh. We pull ourselves closer and closer together. Our bodies rock in harmony. There is no longer any difference between giving and receiving pleasure. Our bodies have no shape, all we are is moving and feeling. The waves of pleasure grow higher and higher. What once would have been heartstopping pain is now crashing ecstasy filling all known worlds.

And as we reach a crescendo, something stirs in the darkness. Something that is us and yet more than we can ever imagine. Two things for which time and space and life and death have no meaning reach for each other across a terrible void. And the world shakes. Across every reality that has been or could be, thunder crashes. Petty gods are shaken on their thrones. For ours is the passion that can destroy the heavens.

Next time: Animists and... all that other misery. I'm kind of hoping that the Faustians and Survivors will salvage this section.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 10
11:05am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

An un-history of moderately popular ideas

A history of unpopular ideas

This section is ostensibly Brian telling us about SHOCKING PHILOSOPHIES that have been LOST TO THE AGES(sort of) because either the AUTHORITIES suppressed them or because they just horrified people too much. In practice it's more our beloved author being a completely useless fuckbrain about everything he touches. Let's go over his fuckups in order.

Also note that the second section of each philosophy is "tenants." Yes, he really fucks up writing "tenets" for each of them, every fucking time.

Animism

We largely went over his fucked up perception of Animist beliefs with the Animist class, but there are a few new gems here.

quote:

Anything that works via unexplainable means, e.g. a medicinal herb, is believed to work via spirits or supernatural power.

...

People who are physically or mentally ‘different’ than others are often considered to have more power, and in many cultures the role of shaman is often given to mentally ill people who would otherwise have no useful role in the tribe.

To recap: All animists believe everything they don't immediately understand is SPOOKY GHOSTS and they put crazy people in charge! Noble savages! Also all animist systems adhere to the exact same tenets. True facts.

Supposedly Animism scares people because INVISIBLE FORCES control things! Presumably the same people afraid of the concept of Animism live in constant terror of gravity and string theory.

Buddhism

One of my friends, Softface here on the forums, commented a bit on some of these as soon as the screaming migraine the writing gave him passed. I've added his quotes for the stuff I admit I don't really know well enough to nitpick greatly, as he usually knows these things better than me.

Softface posted:

Buddhism - It looks like Varja's knowledge of karma came exclusively from the show "My Name is Earl." You have no idea how much I wish people would learn that karma is a complex idea which affects your incarnation in the next life rather than reducing it to petty aphorisms.

This pretty much sums it up, as Karma is essentially reduced to an alignment system that takes you farther or closer from Nirvana, as the book describes it. You reincarnate over and over until you're Lawful Good and then you win the game of life.

This scares people because it's "pessimistic."

Platonism & Neo-Platonism

This is Brian yanking one out to the fact that he knows the old "shadows on a cave wall"-analogy. It doesn't even have a purpose in this fucking chapter as it's not really illustrative of any current patterns of thought(I know what we've inherited from it, spent most of last semester learning it, so no need to point that out to me) and there's nothing shocking enough about it to give it a "what scares people"-section.

Gnosticism

The requisite element for all modern "horror" RPG's with supernatural/divine elements. To the book's credit, as far as I can tell he didn't fuck this one up.

Descardian Skepticism

Softface posted:

Descartian Skepticism - It's cute that he included this. "Some credit Descartes as the first to come up with the concept of virtual reality." And those people are idiots.

What Scares People posted:

The perpetual and unconquerable uncertainty. Humans can never be sure, no matter what they discover, that what they experience is true.

How unpopular was this idea again? I do not really recall it inspiring any witch hunts, and I'm pretty sure that anyone "terrified" of these ideas would have a mental breakdown after watching a soap opera.

Sadism

De Sade was mean. De Sade thought all people were fundamentally mean. Spoooooooooky. What scares people is apparently that Sade was a maniac who advocated hurting people. I really cannot see how this is a weird reaction, in fact I'd say it's pretty sane to be adverse to philosophies that involve unbridled sadistic behavior towards others.

Marxism

Softface posted:

Marxism - Starts out with "Karl Marx (b. 1818, d. 1888) was a German, atheist, economist as well as a heavy drinker and cigar [s]moker, who created the first complete economic theory of Communism. Marx died without seeing a Communist evolution." which just seems to me like needless character assassination. Plus his timeline of the History of Communism is entirely off.

Aside from that he seems obsessed with Marx's characterization of capitalists as "vampires" since he mentions it three times in the short blurb.

What scares people: Marx used the word vampires! Oh no! Dracula is a banker! No literally, what Brian says is scary about Marx's writing is him describing bankers as vampires.

Nihilism

You know how the Nazis basically misinterpreted and abused Nietzsche's writings? That's kind of what Brian does here, in pretty much the exact same way.

Softface posted:

Nihilism - Where to even start with this? Apparently Nietzsche was the most influential Nihilist writer, despite a large portion of his work saying NIHILISM IS BAD. STAY AWAY. He then goes on to entirely misunderstand the ubermensch, which shouldn't be mentioned here in the first place, even worse than Ayn Rand does. For some reason, he felt the need to include this: "He had a big walrus mustache and piercing eyes." and concludes with "After WWII he was so strongly associated with Nazism that no serious academic would dare discuss his ideas in a positive light." which is like some sort of anti-truth. By writing this he erased some of our collective human knowledge.

For those not up to date with the Niet and his moustache... essentially the argument goes that you should never accept any knowledge without investigating it critically, that you should never let anyone tell you how to perceive things, but instead turn things over yourself and then come to a conclusion. What conclusion you come to does not matter, but just doing this lets you rip your way free from the crowd.

If you then decide that's carte blanche to claim everything is false and start stabbing people for laughs, you're a nihilist fuckhead. If you keep your head on straight and decide for yourself a purpose rather than what people say it should be, you're a step above the crowd, an Ubermensch, who has some degree of responsibility towards the rest of the world by helping others reach that same level.

According to Brian, Ubermenschitude is entirely a genetic thing and the Ubermensch are destined to RULE THE MASSES OF SHEEPLE. If anyone needs to take a break here and just hold their head in their hands, that's understandable.


I don't think Nietzsche ever wrote anything about whether being a Nihilist would get you more fine ladies, though

Freudian Psychoanalysis

What scares people: "People are initially off-put by the idea that they, and everyone else, had incest fantasies as children."

Essentially it's less that Freud scares people, more that his ideas gross them out a bit.

Despite saying that Freud has essentially been discredited and discarded by most sane people(though some individual ideas may survive among the larger establishment of psychologists and psychotherapists), a quick read of the description of Freud's "tenants" reveals that it's basically word-for-word the psychodynamics earlier in the book. I guess we know where the author's sympathies lie.

Surrealism

Softface posted:

Surrealism - "Although people still love surrealist-style art, the revolutionary and anti-rational ideas of surrealism are scary. Surrealism is about acting without censorship of thought, which many associate with chaos and anarchy. Nonsense is fine when restricted to a piece of canvas, but when people try to apply it to the important matters of life it becomes threatening." Please, Varja, never write about anything related to art again, because you are clearly a child.

Existentialism

A sidebar ties Existentialism to Lovecraft's books for undefined reasons. Aside from that... Just about the only thing that Brian gets right is that Existentialist fiction is often heavily about a protagonist struggling with the idea that they Have To Make A Choice, that they are not required to just go along with the flow in their lives.

He helpfully summarizes the rest of Existentialism as "like Nihilism except for a few minor things." Existentialism is also the cornerstone of Atheism!

Jungian Psychology

Like Freud except that he liked religion and also he wasn't sciency enough so no one ever uses him for anything scientific! Apparently this is also what scared people.

Punk

Softface posted:

Punk - FUCK YEAH PUNK ROCK. At least he admits that there's no single statement to represent this "philosophy," and takes the time to tell us what exactly a poseur is.

What Scares People posted:

People fear punks because they don’t know what societal codes a punk has chosen to reject and thus a punk is unpredictable and possibly dangerous.

Punks = Fishmalks in IDA.

Paglian Feminism

quote:

Paglian feminists believe that sex is powerful and females are inherently more powerful than men. Females are also more a part of nature, which Paglia describes as Cthonian: ugly, dark, terrible, unpredictable, amoral and gross. Out of fear of the Cthonian and a desire to reduce the power vacuum, men have created culture, society, religion and science.

If Brian is to be believed, Paglian Feminism is some sort of reverse crypto-psychotic misogynism, insisting that women cannot be intellectual... and are somehow better due to it???? Also that women should be prostitutes so they can subjugate men with their vaginas.

I don't know if this is IDA being completely insane or Paglian Feminism being completely insane or a combination of the two.

Postmodernism

Postmodernists hate science and academia, unless the latter is taught by non-white lesbians. Also all postmodernists never create anything worthwhile, they just circlejerk words until they end up in a linguistic mess that only other postmodernists can understand.

They also think it's adorable, but completely wrong, whenever someone tries to be honest.

Preview of the following chapters:

May 98 – Journal of Genderqueer Poetry posted:

‘Passion’ by CrotchPower

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 9
10:59am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

What?! We didn't hit game mechanics yet?!

Well, we did now. This section starts out pretty calm, re-affirming the basic mechanic that we already know, adding a bit more like the basic, non-skill things stats can be used for, no surprises there.

Save vs Shock posted:

Save vs. Shock Difficulties

Easy (10): Seeing a small child driving a car.

Moderate (20): Seeing a dog driving a car.

Hard (30): Seeing a mass of spiders driving a car.

Legendary (40): Seeing floating globs of congealed blood connected by chains driving a car.

The Hard difficulty one just cracked me up. That and moderate aren't SHOCKING, they're fucking hilarious! Frankly I'd be more freaked out by a kid driving a car, I mean, if a swarm of spiders are driving a car they probably know what they're doing, that kid might skid out and flatten me.

Fucking up our roll gets us a -X to everything(where X is how much we missed the roll by) for as many hours as what we flubbed the roll by. This is also where we're told that # of failures = what we flub a roll by, and # of successes is how much we overshoot our needed number by. Flipping back a few pages, this reminds us that Blood Sigils work for a number of days equal to our successes, making it even more ridiculously broken! Say hello to a week-long typhoon, City Of Choice!

Using Psychodynamics

Fucking finally, I was starting to think that these dumb things were just here to troll us or something. Firstly they can be used as empathic intuition, for instance we can use our Thanatos as a sort of danger sense or something, or use our Shadow to discern if someone has bad intentions. No specific difficulties are set for these rolls, so I guess it's up to our GM to determine when it's incredibly easy to figure shit out and when it's not.

Alternately, we can use them kind of like FATE aspects, in any situation where this particular PD is relevant, we can roll it vs 20. For each point we overshoot, we get a +1 to everything we do in the scenario. Like, Shadow is our aggression and general anti-social side, if we just want to flip out and do something unpleasant and selfish to someone, we can use that. The example in the book is just that, someone using their Shadow to kick the shit out of their boss. Thinking about it for a moment, this means we can use our Thanatos pretty much whenever we want someone to die. Starting with our THAN at 20 means we're guaranteed to have between a +1 and a +20 bonus whenever we're trying to kill people. Or I guess we could use our SHAD for it, too. Point is: THIS IS INCREDIBLY BROKEN.

Okay, let's look back for a moment.

Black Market, buying Uranium. Difficulty 40. If we max the relevant attribute, okay, sure, that makes it something that only happens on a 20. Pimp out the skill a bit, say, for +8, and we've now got an 12-20 range for succeeding. But then let's say we're doing it because we're an incredible asshole. And our Shadow is 20. That means we're basically rolling 2d20+28 instead of 1d20+28, practically guaranteeing our success.

Since Legendary difficulties are now easily within reach as long as we can find the right motivation, let's look at what our supernatural powers can do.

Animate Toys: Human-intellect, non-sentient servitors.
Area Knowledge, Supernatural: Find working mad science devices in garbage bins.
Birth Servant: Legions of indefinite-lifespan, dog-sized servitors with near-human intellect and a grab pack of super-abilities.
Flesh Control: Ridiculous levels of shapeshifting, near-instant regeneration.
Grab Bag: Every use is another thousand bucks or some ridiculous item. Wow, all these garbage bins are full of shotguns!
Homing: Hey! Check it out! I walked into Heaven! Or Area 51!
Imaginary Powers: I'm going to spend several hours as a flying, invisible creature with 30+ Strength! Watch your heads, little people!
Masks: "Make a building look like a dinosaur." Yeah, okay. The world is fucked when we have this power.
Nihilist Rage: ANIME ANNIHILATION SPHERE.
Mortification of the Flesh: Body? What body?
Untouchable: Literal invincibility if we want it, or 1/10th damage on reflex(I'm sure it's not hard to find a psychodynamic that wants self-preservation in combat situations).

Now, the downside is that the GM can also our our psychodynamics against us, in which case he adds the PD level to his roll, and we oppose it with Willpower. He has Impulses: "You do this thing because I say it's in-character, fuck you." Slips: "You say this thing because I say it's in-character, fuck you." And Hindrances: Which are like when we help ourselves with a PD, but in this case every number over 20 is how much we're penalized in the situation. Like our Shadow might fuck up our social interactions or our self-preservation PD's might try to prevent us from getting into danger.


A quick cheat sheet on the basic situations these can definitely help us with. And yes, you're right, the GM can use a high THAN to impulse us towards killing ourselves! Better hope you invested in Willpower

Combat & Health

Alright, so BDY is for blunt damage, BLD is for stabby/shooty/choppy damage and INCY is for everything once we run out of those two. The only reason, really, that we shouldn't just invest everything in INCY is that once we hit zero BLD we can only stay conscious for as many rounds as we have Endurance, and we're going to need some medical care otherwise. Of course, if we have something like Flesh Control we really just need a quick nap afterwards and we'll have fully regenerated. But if we DON'T, we might want to be slightly careful.

Or we can just have Revive which instantly recovers us to 1 BLD if we run out of INCY, though the farther we get knocked below zero INCY the harder it is to make the roll. Still, we'll have a high REPT or something that'll give us a ridiculous bonus on trying to stay alive.

As far as I can tell, until we actually get KO'd, we aren't actually any worse at doing stuff, even if we've got so many bullets lodged in us that we jingle when we move.

Armor actually works in an interesting fashion, each piece has an AR(Armor Rating, coverage) and a PR(Protection Rating, actual defense added). If someone hits us and they don't overshoot their minimum needed roll by more than our AR, our armor works. If they overshoot it, they've managed to hit a hole in our defenses.


Some of this art is just goofy enough to be kind of awesome

Then there's some boring shit about saving throws against disease, amnesia and drug addiction. Nothing interesting there, just more of the same: "ROLL 1D20 + THIS STAT TO NOT BECOME A CRACKHEAD."

The skills section is also kind of hilarious, despite the intro saying: "NO MONSTERS, PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR IS WHERE IT'S AT," a good few of the examples involving danger are about "monsters made out of rotting flesh" and similar horror tropes. And a tense chase is about NUMBERS, NUMBERS, ROLLS, NUMBERS, rather than storytelling.

Combat itself is just more of the same 1d20+STAT+STAT vs 1d20+STAT+STAT business, though it's further 'sperged up by each side having a DIFFICULTY they're rolling against, and the actual numbers compared to each other being how much they beat that difficulty by. Nothing's particularly noteworthy about it, aside from it being a bit nitty and gritty about ranges and other such things that frankly no one is going to give a fuck about. Though there are a few odd things, for instance if you hose down an area with gunfire you can be a deaf-blind clumsy cripple, and still hit people, because then it uses your Intelligence as your relevant stat.

Though it's vital to note that once you're gotten someone pinned with a Wrestling attack, they're NEVER getting free, because your difficulty to maintain the Wrassle is 10, and theirs to break free is 30, meaning you're essentially getting an automatic +20 on your roll compared to theirs.

In its defense, there's a relatively wide variety of actions you can use in a fight, but that's honestly something I'd appreciate more in a videogame where there's something to keep track of all the numbers for me, here it feels more like an option to get tangled up and neck-deep in paging through the book while arguing about what the difficulty for Grab(Strangle) is and someone telling you that you're mixing it up with Grab(Pain).

Their COMPLEX COMBAT EXAMPLE is someone getting attacked by a SPOOKY LITTLE GIRL IN A DRESS and then throwing her on the ground and stomping on her head. As much as I hate SPOOKY LITTLE GIRLS in horror, and as much as this is derivative, boring piss, I do feel like those kinds of movies/stories would be vastly improved if the protagonist just opened up on the little shit with a flamethrower or a submachinegun.

Also, as far as I can tell, nothing about scoring a really good hit improves your damage, so I guess damage from all weapons is static. Paging back, this means that unless someone has specifically taken some defects that lower their total health, most people will survive holding a pipe bomb while it explodes. It's also pretty much impossible to drop someone with a single shot. And odds are generally that, thanks to various supernatural shenanigans and armor, most people will soak up more. Especially seeing as how, while lots of weapons are illegal, there's apparently no raised eyebrows if you buy a full suit of SWAT armor, which basically renders you invincible to firearms unless someone's got armor-piercing ammunition.

The combat ends with TIPS FOR GM'S

Tips for GM's posted:

1. Never let the PCs get into a fair fight. Either the PCs should be ambushed, or the PCs should be doing the ambushing, or the PCs should be vastly superior to the people or things they are fighting, or the PCs should be vastly inferior to their opponents.

Translation: Either the PC's should be in fights they can't lose or fights they can't win. The remaining 8 suggestions are just bookkeeping stuff which largely can be summed up as: "Enemies never do anything clever unless it comes to running away, and take notes before your PC's get into a fight."

Next time: "A History of Unpopular Ideas"

Watch as Brian Vajra tackles these important subjects in a sensitive and informed fashion:

Unpopular Ideas posted:

Animism, Buddhism, Platonism and Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Descartian Skepticism, Sadism Marxism, Nihilism, Freudian Psychoanalysis, Surrealism, Existentialism, Jungian Psychology, Punk, Paglian Feminism and Postmodernism!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 8
10:50am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Still nowhere near done

Equipment



The equipment list is RETARDEDLY comprehensive, starting out with guard dogs, capuchin monkeys and police horses. This is the sort of thing I'd expect to see in a D&D manual, not in a goddamn "urban horror game." It also seems to be one of those games you do not want to play with an obsessive-compulsive GM as it's got lists for all sorts of nitty gritty survival things like bottled water and dust masks.

Imagine the excitement when you finally manage to Get Lost your way into Area 51 and the GM tells you all that everyone who didn't bring bottled water is now suffering from dehydration and has perception penalties because they didn't think to buy a dust mask! Of course there's also a listing for trench coats.

Condoms, giant rack-mounted servers, armors that appear to have listed their issues with the wearer suffering from heat exhaustion, birth control pills(apparently it's a misdemeanor to own these without a prescription? What? Is he trying to illustrate the gruesomeness of the Old White Men in charge or is US law really that crazy?), rules for overdosing on caffeine and roofies. There's so much stupid shit here that no one would ever need to specifically note on their damn character sheets, if need at all.

Someone who's got more experience with drug use than me could probably go through the drug list and nitpick the various effects/side-effects/withdrawal effects of these drugs. For one thing, I've never heard of anyone smoking marijuana who complained of suffering from sudden amnesia after a couple of joints...

As a side-note, remember how the Ultimate Genitals could do "3 ragged damage"? We had no comparison for that before. Now we do. A pickaxe does "3 bladed damage," that's right, that ability turns your dong into a goddamn pickaxe for murdering people with. How the fuck does this still allow anyone to have intercourse without killing their partner?

Tear gas grenades are listed under "self-defense" and along with flashbangs, apparently it's totally cool for random civilians to own and use these without registering or having permits.

But the huge shitloads of LIST PAGES aren't done here.

Bonus Characteristics



Suffice to say, if it's some sort of modifier to your character's physical, social or mental condition, it's in here. For a bit of racism, just to kick it off, "being raised in the ghetto" automatically gets you levels of Criminal and Combat skills. Shitloads of them, in fact(onsidering that your starting pool of skill points gives you probably around ten skill levels in total, the three skill levels in Crime from being RAISED IN THE GHETTO is pretty considerable.), it's an advantage. I mean, hell, not like growing up in something definable as a ghetto might leave you socially disadvantaged or anything! Naw, it's just the SCHOOL OF THE STREETZ. Or something. I find it kind of offensive, anyway.

Outside of the fact that being raised in a ghetto and having prison experience lets you start off with a cool +6 skill ranks in crime and +3 in combat(which is hilariously awesome for anyone keeping note, compare with our predicted plausible amount of starting skills without any boosts), the advantages aren't that bad. But the disadvantages kind of edge into some creepy business when the very first one is having an "Abusive Partner" who basically tries to ruin everything in your life and is a match for you "in a fair fight."

On the other hand, considering that you and your party probably have a combined total of Fuckloads of supernatural abilities... I don't really see why this state of affairs would last for long. I mean, it would be an unsettling state of affairs for normal people, yes, but when your Animist friend can just give him a heart attack or your Lost friend can dump him in Shanghai... and considering the skill difficulties of Psychotherapy it shouldn't take more than a day to deprogram your psychological dependency on him. It kind of defuses the drama a little.

Disadvantage: Alzheimer's! How the fuck is this even playable unless your campaign is silly enough that it turns him into a goofy Mister Magoo character? If played in a silly fashion, though, it could kind of be an amusing concept for a Lost. He doesn't wander into other worlds because he's stoned out of his gourd, he does it because he just sort of mentally fizzled out on where the world is. But, y'know, considering that spousal abuse and AIDS are the diadvantages right before this one, I don't think that was Brian Vajra's thoughts.

Having a kid is also a disadvantage if you need to take care of them... 'cept it gives you ten Bonus Points, enough to harvest Prison Experience and Raised in a Ghetto, and the kid itself is not just some fragile beanbag you have to protect. No, the kid has goddamn 100 skill points, as much as you! It costs 40 points for a level of an "adult" skill, admittedly, but this kind of elevates them to the level of "potentially handy sidekick" rather than "useless fleshbag." Shit, with the Masks ability they could verge on being invaluable aides for distraction and flim flam purposes. The kid also levels up rapidly, getting another 50 skill points and 4 attribute points every year... so let's see, they start out at 3 to 5 years old, this progression stops at 10... 40 for a level of an adult skill... By age 6 or 7 they could be a goddamn police sharpshooter if their parent has any sort of Combat ability.

Fuck, you could teach them the goddamn Neck Snap ability if the parent is a hitman or something, recreate the movie Leon/The Professional but even more hilarious. And they're giving you points to do this.

So by the D's we reach "Disfigured." It makes you hideously ugly, something that penalizes your Seduction rolls so far as to be impossible to pull off, and make you look memorable(just wear a fucking mask)... and it gives you six bonus points. For comparison's purpose, a thing that give you 1 bonus point: a criminal record that prevents you from ever legally owning a firearm. A potentially-fatal allergy or being hunted by a serial killer is 4 bonus points. Chronic pain, epilepsy, a crazy stalker or a dissociative disorder are two points each.

For more crazy points comparisons, having a sexual fetish or herpes are 2-point disadvantages as well. Yes, because I can see so many situations in which having sores on your dick or needing to wrap it in latex to get off are as crippling as a fucking epileptic seizure or some maniac sitting outside your window, writing things on it in his own feces.

quote:

Lonely (Gives 2 BP)- The PC starts the game with no friends. The PC’s family provides little or no companionship. The PC is unhappy and would like to have someone he or she could talk to or hang out with.

So either this is the most incredibly depressing game ever or these two points turn out to be a super-cheap bonus when the PC meets the rest of the fucking party.

Being hunted by the Mafia, a corporation or the fucking government... is less of a penalty than being an illegal immigrant.

quote:

Lingering Abuser (Gives 1 BP)- The PC lived for several years with someone who sexually, physically or emotionally abused the PC. Now that person is no longer able to hurt the PC (either dead, in prison for a long time, or too weak to hurt anyone), but the abuser’s personality left such a deep impression in the PC that the PC feels his or her constant presence. The PC dreams about the abuser, has momentary flashbacks of the abuser being around, and hears the abuser’s voice in his or her head. What’s worse, if the PC loses control the PC may find himself or herself acting exactly as the abuser would, even speaking with the same tone of voice.

Years of traumatizing, sexual/emotional abuse! One bonus point! I mean, it's not like you're too ugly to ever get laid or anything! Ha ha! You've just got crippling nightmares about him!

Morbidly obese: 1/3rd of the points of being too ugly to fuck! Being old gives us 15 Bonus Points for every decade after 50 years of age. The stat penalties THAT give us would cost EXACTLY 13 bonus points to buy back. Someone sure did the maths on this one! Fucking idiots. Not to mention that the penalties are negligible enough that if we just blow the points on skills and super-sweet advantages instead, we come out even more on top.

At this point there is really no point to not playing a 60-year-old, scarred badass with a child sidekick, who's spent years in jail and was raised in the ghetto. The actual downsides are negligible, because "prison experience" does not actually require us to take "criminal record," unless we're playing in someone's creepy erotic roleplaying campaign then "seduction" likely won't get much use(and if it did, then any Secret Life with Masks could pretty much just pretend they didn't have the disadvantage) and I've already illustrated how having a kid is actually an ADVANTAGE in this game.

Phobia is +3 Bonus Points and, well, as we saw a couple of posts back, anyone can fucking cure that. So just have another PC take Psychotherapy and rake in the sweet, sweet bonus points.

Shit, I could really go on and on about how many things are considered minor compared to not getting laid, so just pretend that if there's anything in this game universe less bad than having AIDS, Alzheimer's or being a heroin addict, it rewards less bonus points.

Terminal Illness: The most aggressive version drops several stats by 1/4 every week, presumably we die when it hits zero. Compare to Old Age which drops several stats by 1 or 2 every decade, and Terminal Illness is only two points more. On the other hand, this one actually does make for a pretty interesting plot hook/character motivation, hunting for a supernatural cure for what ails them. Maybe it's a Scribbler or something who knows the supernatural exists and teams up with some Lost and Survivors to try and "petition" the Reapers for an extended time. The sort of crazy faustian bargains that could result from THAT could be the core of an even more extended campaign.

And of course it ends with the predictable, final disadvantage of "Virgin." One bonus point!

I'm really not sure if this chapter is just the product of REALLY bad maths, or the product of Vajra having no fucking clue what the actual impacts of most of these disadvantages are. For someone with a BA in psychology, he sure doesn't seem to know much about how horrendously damaging some things would be to the human brain.

Next time, Chapter two! Game mechanics!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 7
10:34am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

ULTIMATE GENITALS



So this is the section on supernatural powers, which span the stretch from Incredibly Creepy to Incredibly Broken and with some boring ones besides. I'm really only going to bother with the ones from those two categories, though I'll mention the remainder to illustrate the stretch these abilities cover.

Note that these work exactly like normal Skills except that ranks are more expensive(10 or 20 points), they have a governing stat and we can buy more ranks in them for +4's to our rolls, hence it's roughly the same level of difficulty to make them unfailable(i.e., not difficult at all). Outside of two exceptions, WIL or AWR govern them all. So we've still yet to see what Psychodynamics actually do, besides provide a very over-complicated alignment system.

The chapter starts, predictably, at A, with some simple and unworrying abilities. Animal Form and Animate Toys, neither particularly unsettling. Though oddly enough, turning into an invisible ghost animal that can go through walls has a higher challenge level than turning into a physical wolf that is easily spotted, can't float through walls and might get shot by a farmer. We then skip through the B's until we hit Birth Servant. This is an ability that Androgynes get.

Birth Servant posted:

The PC must be in a body with a uterus and vagina to use this skill. The PC gives birth to a servant which does a pre-determined task or follows orders. Servants look like bloody fetuses which crawl around on all-fours. It takes at least 4 rounds to gestate and give birth to the servant. Duration:See below.

Easy (10): Mouse sized servant, 1 STH, 2 SPD, 1 BLD, can do 1 predetermined task, dies within 5 minutes. If it has fangs or claws it does ½ bladed damage, choose 1 ability (text box below).

Moderate (20): Rat sized servant, 2 STH, 3 SPD, 2 BLD, can do multiple predetermined tasks, dies within 1 hour. If it has fangs or claws it does 1 bladed damage, choose 2 abilities.

Hard (30): Cat sized servant, 3 STH, 6 SPD, 1 BDY, 2 BLD, can follow verbal instructions, dies within 24 hours. If it has fangs or claws it does 1½ bladed damage, choose 3 abilities.

Legendary (40): Dog sized servant, 4 STH, 8 SPD, 1 BDY, 3 BLD, 1 INCY, has near human intelligence, lives until killed. If it has fangs or claws it does 2 bladed damage, choose 4 abilities.

The noted abilities are stuff like claws, being amorphous or being able to fly. It takes "four rounds" to produce one of these creatures, and I'm guessing that a round is somewhere between a matter of seconds or a minute. Since this ability otherwise doesn't note that it consumes any health or exhausts an energy source, nor that you're limited to a specific number of servants... one creepy Androgyne wizard could flood half a city with murderous spider-fetuses.

After Birth Servant, we turn around and hit Blood Sigils, which is the opposite side of the spectrum, not particularly worrying, but incredibly broken.

Blood Sigil posted:

The PC can draw arcane symbols with his or her bodily fluids then energize them with his or her will such that invisible forces will accept them as ‘commands’. When seen by those who can see the invisible, the sigils appear to glow. Duration: 1 day/success or until the body fluids are wiped off or destroyed.

Easy (10): Anyone in the area will be either more or less likely to suffer from misfortunes and medical problems.

Moderate (20): Every hour spent in a marked building there is a 1 in 20 chance of dying of heart attack or stroke -or- anyone staying in a marked building heals 1 BLD and 1 BDY per day.

Hard (30): Mark someone for scrutiny by the powers from- beyond -or- cause a natural disaster to ravage a city -or- create a portal to ‘the citadel,’ an alien world inhabited by dangerous monsters.

Alright, so, Moderate basically turns any goddamn building into a fucking DEATH ZONE. Drawing these sigils appears to take no specified time. They can last for up to several days. So even assuming we don't crunk up to pulling off Hard sigils that smite the entire fucking city with tornadoes like we're playing Sim City and spamming the "Disaster" button, we can still murder dozens of people if we find some sort of relatively populated building(like an office building, school or hospital) and scrawl one of these in the damn basement. Or hell, even on the outside should work. And anyone who sees it who ISN'T supernaturally empowered probably just thinks it's some weird-ass graffiti scrawled by a hobo.

In fact since it doesn't specify that the drawer is excepted, it's probably a good idea to draw it on the outside to avoid that 5% chance of having an instant heart-attack.

The next ability is Change Gender and really wouldn't be that strange if not for the Legendary ability, which gets its own sidebar...

Change Gender posted:

The PC can change his or her sexual anatomy and appearance. Gives +10 to the roll if the PC is experiencing a strong orgasm. Duration: Permanent.

Moderate (20): Change gender, minimal change of appearance (PC will look like a ‘male version’ or ‘female version’ of hir last body).

Hard (30): Change gender and appearance (change ethnicity, build, hair color, features, etc.).

Legendary (40)- Change into an androgynous being with no genitals, multiple genitals or inhuman genitals.

ULTIMATE GENITALS posted:

With a legendary Change Gender roll, the PC can have genitals that are not on any natural being on the planet. The PC’s genitals can have any form and be made out of tissues with all the powers of any other part of the human body. It would not be impossible, for instance, to create genitals with working eyes.

The most popular configuration, often called ‘the flower and the snake,’ allows the owner to engage in any sexual activity a male or female could, as well as to:
-Reach out up to 7 ft. (2 m.) to grab and manipulate objects with 25 STH.
-Pierce objects with a probe doing 3 bladed damage (pierces armor as 6).
-Grab onto flesh with retractable barbed teeth (do negligible damage unless the flesh is ripped away, which does 3 ragged damage) and reel the flesh in at 25 STH.
-Feel objects with extreme sensitivity (+20 to touch based AWR rolls).
-Chew up (and later spit out) wood, flesh, plastic or softer types of stone and metal. Does 2 ragged damage per round.

I think this particular quote really requires no fucking commentary at all. Jesus, Brian Vajra, why would you ever come up with this?

Another broken power is "Command Misfortune," which the Animists get, because OF COURSE the weird foreigners are focused around talking to animals and cursing people! You basically scream at a local spirit to harass someone, and most of the time it'll just give them a nosebleed or make them cough for a few minutes or something similar... but there's a random chance they'll just straight-up have a fucking stroke or heart attack.

It's followed up by "kill a motherfucker straight-up in cold blood," which Survivors get. As long as they get the ability to See Reapers... they can also buy the ability to command Reapers, and the 20-difficulty one is "command a reaper to collect a specific soul." We seem to be swerving rapidly into the Kult territory of "a lot of these powers are only marginally useful, the remainder will let any player with half a brain kill everything, even if he isn't trying to min/max."

I mean, shit, it doesn't even take a fucking ritual or any time to command a godddamn soul-collector, apparently. It's difficulty 10 to send them to a specific place, and 30 to tell them to ignore a specific soul. So you can pretty much just order them all to fuck off if you want a group of people to be safe.

Flesh Control lets you shapeshift and min/max your physiology. Interestingly enough there are no downsides to fucking it up, you won't accidentally give yourself sickle-cell anemia. And it requires no knowledge of medicine, biology or anything else to know how to improve your body. Since there's no limit to how often you can do this, or any requirements to doing it(except that the changes require nutrients, so I guess you can't do it while dieting), you can just spam rolls over and over until you succeed and get some pretty solid boosts to your physical stats(for every level we have, Strength, Endurance and Speed can be increased by +4. Considering that the max natural level is 20, that's actually a pretty respectable boost). A single Hard check also allows us to heal fast enough that we regrow lost limbs overnight.

Really overwhelming me with my character's potential fragility here.

We then hit the three signature powers of the Lost, which are all three hilarious and incredibly breakable. Behold.

Get Lost! posted:

The PC can dislodge himself or herself from space and time by becoming lost. The state lasts only as long as the PC doesn’t know where he or she is. Being intoxicated gives +10 to skill rolls. Anyone following the PC (keeping the PC in sight) will become lost and will end up wherever the PC ends up. Duration: Until Stopped.

Easy (10): Get lost after walking around an unfamiliar neighborhood for an hour.
Moderate (20): Get lost inside a large office building.
Hard (30): Run around a corner and get instantly lost.

So, since we can booze up to boost, just having a high Willpower means we can basically sprint around corners and jump around in places without a care.

Homing posted:

Prerequisite: Get Lost (1). While in a lost state (see Get Lost), the PC can think about where he or she wants to go and will end up there more-or less instantly. Duration: Permanent.

Easy (10): End up in the type of neighborhood (but not specifically the location or city) the PC wants.
Moderate (20): End up in a specific place the PC has been to before.
Hard (30): End up where a specific item or person the PC has seen before is currently located.
Legendary (40): End up in a place the PC has never been to but which has been described to the PC (including places outside this reality).

Now, okay, firstly we can just warp around without abandon, especially if we've had a drink or just have a decent Willpower or a few ranks in Homing and Get Lost. But the shenanigans are already kicking in: Any place that has a corner to walk around allows us to use this, so we can basically easily warp into stores we've been in during the day, gank shit, and warp out again. Our finances are now resolved, as are any needs for weaponry. Oh and we can probably win just about any fights we get in.

If we want to REALLY be a dick, though, we get enemies chasing us, pop into some really dangerous location(or just somewhere quite far away), shake them, and then pop out again alone, leaving them to be incredibly miserable somewhere they can't hurt us.

There's no range limitation at all, so just, say, take a holiday in China or something, and you've got a safe spot to dump people, friends, items and yourself. Hell, manage the Hard difficulty and you just need to have seen a bad guy once, and you can pop into his home at night and set his bed on fire or cut his throat.

But there's a third signature power for the Lost.

Grab Bag posted:

Prerequisite: Get Lost (2). If there is a container and the PC has no idea what’s in the container, the PC can reach in and pull out whatever he or she wants, given that the item is something that actually exists inside a container of this type somewhere in the world. The difficulty is based on the rarity of the item. When the PC uses this skill to get an item, that item disappears out of a container somewhere in the world. The PC can conceivably use this skill on his or her own pockets, but only if the PC is so out of it that he or she has no idea what might be in those pockets (e.g. is coming off of a week-long drinking binge). Duration: Permanent.

Easy (10)- Pull $5 or a plastic comb out of a pocket.
Moderate (20): Pull $50 or a pocket knife out of a pocket.
Hard (30): Pull $200 or a loaded pistol out of a pocket. -or- Make an object disappear by putting it in a pocket.
Legendary (40): Pull $1,000 or a picture of another PC’s mother out of a pocket.

So all this really requires is that we have some friends with pockets. Because we have no idea what they might have in their pockets, and conceivably somewhere in the world, someone has a gun in their pocket. Presto, whammo, infinite armory! And shitloads of cash besides.

On this page we also get told that Wonderlanders basically get to turn invisible, get +40 Strength, fly or a bunch of other superhero-style tricks. It's still as easy to activate as the other powers, but ADDITIONALLY they get up to a +15 bonus by meditating on it beforehand. So if they meditate/concentration for an hour, they can relatively easily have these powers for an hour or so. Either that or they can just activate them round to round, see...

The shortest duration possible is A Round. Activating the power only takes more than a round if the PC wants to concentrate on it beforehand for a bonus. Hence, there's really nothing stopping a character focusing up to turn Invisible for an hour and then using his Unarmed: Assassin neck snap to kill everyone in a ten-block radius because they can't see him coming, boosting it up with the +Strength power just before every neck snap to ensure that he succeeds.

I guess that would be horrible to WITNESS, heads popping off like champagne corks left and right, as some giggling invisible maniac twists their skulls off, but not particularly horrifying to play as.

Most of the other powers I'm skipping are just generic "HAVE VISIONS!" abilities or "DREAM TRAVEL," though one of two are somewhat cool, like "Masks," which allows you to dress up something like something else, and everything will see it as what it is dressed up like. For instance, put a Hulk mask on someone and everyone will see him as the Hulk. Put a stovepipe hat on a tree and everyone will see it as Abraham Lincoln.

It's not overpowered, it's handy and it could provide for some hilarious shenanigans. Someone needs to roll 1d20+AWR and hit 40+ to see through this so, yeah, if you get a good idea with this ability, mechanics aren't stopping you from trolling the world.

It is immediately followed by "Mortification of the Flesh," the signature ability for the Cannibals and oddly enough also available to Survivors. It's what lets you allow to maintain a "phantom" version of a body part, and it has a difficulty of 30, with a -10 penalty if used after removal, none if used during, and you can get up to a +10 bonus by chanting/meditating beforehand for long enough.

Every part we're already missing increases the difficulty by 5, though, so we can't just end up as a floating, ghostly torso unless we really dump all our skill points into this and have some crazy Willpower besides.

Obviously we can remove our arms and legs, and the resulting limbs act as though they have maximum human, or superhuman, strength and speed. Removed eyes give us Predator Vision Modes, and lacking ears allows us to understand all languages. As a bonus, missing an eye, yet still seeing with that eye, isn't really something that'll blow our cover, considering that people will just assume we're using our normal eye.

And there are a bunch more internal things we can remove without anyone being the wiser. For instance our brain, which hoses us down with sweet +5's to Intelligence, Agility and Awareness, so there's really no reason not to sit around chanting for ten hours while someone cracks our skull open and yanks out our gray matter as the first damn action of the game. Sure, we'll have to invest in 20 Willpower to make sure it succeeds(otherwise, yeah, we're KINDA FUCKED), but the total of +15 to our stats rather makes up for that. Removing the heart gives us a total of +15 more health points(+5 Blood, +10 Incapacitate), since we start with 12 total, THAT'S PRETTY HUGE.

With those being the two ones that would kill us very instantly if we failed, those should probably be taken first by any aspiring Cannibal, both for the sweet bonuses and because with the mounting difficulties, they're ones we really do not want to fuck up. Phantom Lungs would be another +11 health levels(+4 Blood, +7 Incapacitate), plus no need to breathe, phantom stomach/intestines removes our need to eat and if we remove our tongue we become a powerful telepath that can scream people psychically into submission.

Oh and really, with the exception of using our telepathy, no one is ever going to tell that we have these changes unless we go to the doctor, and since they make us largely invincible, there's no reason that would ever happen. Both Cannibals and Survivors also get to pick Flesh Control, so at least numerically, both are just kind of broken compared to the others. Especially since neither are any of the Secret Lives that require you to kick out skill points in order to have a decent life.

Nihilist Rage is the following ability and it kind of amuses me. Remember how, in Otherverse: America, Lifers could hate/disbelieve evolution so hardcore that it would hurt mutants more? Cannibals and Scribblers get to expand this to a point where it affects all of existence.

Nihilist Rage! posted:

The PC creates an aura of disbelief of the physical world that causes all inanimate objects to crumble, break, fray or corrode. Duration: Permanent.

Easy (10): Things within 7 ft. (2 m.) become much easier to break (difficulty for STH feat or amount of damage required to break is halved). PR of armor is halved. Anything which degrades over time does so twice as fast.

Moderate (20): Everything within 15 ft. (5 m.) cracks, corrodes, sours or frays. Anything bearing weight (e.g. a chair someone is sitting in, the tires of a car) breaks or bursts. Parts of the room the PC is in may collapse. Nearly anything can be broken or destroyed with bare hands. Armor is ineffective. Machines and electronics don’t work.

Hard (30): Everything within 30 ft. (10 m.) cracks, melts, twists, blackens and corrodes as if exposed to a fire or strong acid. Sinkholes appear in the ground, clothes fall apart, buildings collapse. Weapons are too brittle to do any damage.

Legendary (40): Everything within 60 ft. (20 m.) disappears, leaving a semi-spherical crater. The edges of the crater are black as if there had been a great explosion. Anyone in the area is dumped into another plane of existence.

So let's assume we haven't min/maxed like crazy. This ability requires no warm-up, no rituals, nothing. And there are no obvious rituals or special effects marking us as the source. We might get pin-pointed as the center of the decay, but since every thing within 5 meters of us just started collapsing(what if we're standing next to a building? Will its walls give way?), people are probably going to be too busy to do anything.

Oh and since "nearly anything can be broken or destroyed with bare hands," we can use this to tunnel through walls or punch tanks apart, assuming that their own machinery doesn't rattle apart their now-fragile forms.

Also note the Legendary ability. Is it just me or is this starting to seem kind of anime?

Oh and Untouchable, the ability that turns Scribblers, the nerds, into complete combat monsters. See, basically it lets you close your eyes and phase out of reality, taking between half(difficulty 10) and none(difficulty 40) damage. Normally it requires you to concentrate, but you can use it reflexively in combat at a -10 penalty to your roll. Even then, if we've got good Willpower(which we probably have, since anything supernatural we do likely relies on it, no matter our Secret Life), we're pretty much guaranteed to meet the half-damage(10) and have good odds of getting to quarter-damage(20). If we know something is coming, 1/10th damage(30) isn't impossible either, and hell, at that point we can just close our eyes, put on some rollerskates and let our allies use us as a mobile shield, shoving us ahead of them, secure in the knowledge that we're basically immortal. Scribblers also get Mortification of the Flesh, so a couple of quick rituals to yank out our heart and lungs, and we've got hilarious amounts of health besides. And shit, we don't even know what body armor is going to do to us yet.

But we're already looking at 300% normal max health and 1/4 damage from all sources, aside from wacky magical/spiritual shit.

So, really, while a bunch of these powers SOUND interesting? Almost none of them seem like they fit in a goddamn horror game. Either it puts the horror powers in the hands of the PC's(Blood Sigil) or it gets closer to superhero stuff(Flesh Control, Mortification of the Flehs, Untouchable). There's no danger to using any of them(even the Animist power that opens you up to spirit possession says that your guardian spirit instantly boots out any malevolent spirits if they try to come close), unless you save replacing your brain/heart/lungs for last as a Cannibal and fuck up the roll.

Really, the impression I have of this game so far is that it would likely work far better if the PC's did not have Secret Lives, but instead the SL's were relegated to villains and NPC's as the supernatural shit that the PC's fight. I mean, imagine being up against a Cannibal society, never knowing if some guy in a wheelchair is about to shiv you with an invisible hand or just roll past. A group of the Lost could basically ruin your life by being able to go anywhere you are, or sending you off to far-off places, making you miss work, appointments, etc. Professionals could hunt you for knowing too much, Survivors could mark you as a sacrifice to the Reapers...

These are really all good potential VILLAINS, but kind of shit potential heroes in a horror game, and their powers really do not change that at all, only emphasizes it.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 6
10:22am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Day Jobs, Skills

Day Jobs

Day Jobs are, predictably, what we're doing while we're not out doing our Secret Life thing, unless we're a Professional in which case the two are basically the same. Some give us Bonus Points(because they suck), others cost us Bonus Points(for being awesome), and some do neither. Of course we still have yet to know how many Bonus Points we start with(if any) or what else they can be spent on. The book helpfully tells us that we can learn more about them on page 111. We're currently on page 58.

Well-organized!

The Day Job section also doesn't get any introductory art, so let's pretend we're in a better setting and that one of the optional Day Jobs is Pirate Space Robot.



Most of the jobs have both perks and drawbacks, even the better ones. Sometimes they're minor, for instance, Alternative Health's perk is that we meet a lot of people(which could be handy for, say, an Outcast or Survivor keeping an eye out for shit going down). While the Drawback is that on account of us being unconventional, we have no pull or authority within the legit medicine establishment.

"Boring Customer Service Job" has the disadvantage "has to deal with lots of crazy assholes," factory workers effectively have a lower Endurance because they're exhausted at the end of every work day, that sort of thing.

Interestingly enough, while these Jobs set our skill costs(apparently, skills are still a chapter away, so not sure what these numbers actually MEAN...), none of them have any skill requirements. As far as I can tell, we can be a Medical Professional with Int 1, or a firefighter(Dangerous Field Job) with rock-bottom physical stats.

It's not that fascinating a chapter, but there are some interesting bits.

From Business Manager:

quote:

+4 BP for Useful Inventory (PC makes or carries something that may be useful in an adventure, e.g. reproduction medieval armor, occult books, bondage gear)

I like how swords, De Vermiis Mysteriis and gimp suits are rated as being equally useful for an adventuring party in this setting. Only a few of the other optional bonuses for professions are very useful or interesting, though, for instance, an IT tech might be maintaining some FBI databases or something, giving him tangential access to information that way.

Numbers-wise, starting with a shop full of leatherware, having your own car, being a member of the Mafia and having access to the FBI's databases is rated as being of equal cost. Some of these seem a bit handier than the others.

Homemaker is an optional job, with disadvantages for either having a spouse that thinks you should be barefoot-and-pregnant, or having kids that need taking care of. Both of those make for excellent quest hook-ish things, I'd note. Having to take care of things without disturbing your family life, or reapers hounding your car while driving the kids to school.

Some of these things, though, just seem like there's no way to use them in the game. Like being the District Attorney or a police chief. I mean, these are roles that NPC's could fill, but not PC's. They're so high-profile that having any sort of Secret Life outside of a Professional would border on the totally impossible. Though it does conjure up the image of a "loose cannon" cop Lost who gets drunk and pops up in criminal lairs with a ridiculous handcannon, or booze-walks the SWAT team past hostage-taker cordons to attack them from behind.

Or for that instance, why are there even rules for being a Religious Professional who becomes a bishop? I mean, yeah, sure, a priest who's a Survivor or something could be fucking interesting, and it's basically where Cannibals would start out, I suppose. But which of these Secret Lives would at all work with being a goddamn bishop?

Being a social worker and a prostitute are of the same cost level, despite it being noted that prostitutes are regularly victims of hate and violence, and the worst it says for social workers is "the work is stressful and tiring." Sure seems a lot less bad than the risk of being stabbed by some maniac because he wants to make a vest out of vaginas.

But that's really it, I'm sure that there are some minor things I might've missed, like maybe some of the skill costs are completely irrational, but right now we just don't know enough to make sense of it. But we might soon! Because here's the Skills section.

Skills

Again no art for this section. Lame-sauce.

But at any rate, we have 100 skill points to spread between some skills here. Basically all skills are split into the categories ACAD(Academic), ATHL(Athletic), CMBT(Combat), CRTV (Creative), CRIM (Criminal), TECH (High Tech), INVS (Investigation/Espionage), LABR (Labor), MEDI (Medical), PEOP (People) and TRAD (Traditional).

Our profession determines what the skills in each category costs.

For instance, let us say that our obese Hispanic astronaut is a FORMER astronaut. He/she is an Outcast who saw the terrible truth behind the Moon Landings and, while drowning his/her panic in Twix bars, got out of the business and became a Paranormal Professional.

This instantly eats up 10 of our skill points to learn Act Normal(otherwise we'd have to be a homeless guy, retired or homemaker, I guess the kids don't mind their mom clawing at their faces to get the bugs out). If we wanted a better job, we'd have to burn 20 or 30 points on it.

Being a Paranormal Professional also takes up 4 Bonus Points, but we'll burn that bridge made out of numbers once we get to it. This leaves our skills costing the following:

Skill Costs: ACAD 5, ATHL 7, CMBT 15, CRTV 5, CRIM 12, TECH 7, INVS 10, LABR 6, MEDI 7, PEOP 6, TRAD 7

Fighting is going to be ridiculously expensive to learn, criminal stuff as well, and oddly enough, for someone whose job is likely going to involve a lot of research and investigation, INVS is our third-most expensive category. Flipping ahead to page 136, it seems that just BUYING a skill only means we can use it at all, it takes another purchase(another level) to get any bonuses, in this case +4 per level above the first.

I recall the basic mechanics and head back to page 3 to confirm them.

"All mechanics are based on a simple system: The sum of attribute + skill + modifier(s) + 1d20 must be equal to or higher than the difficulty of the proposed action."

It's FAR easier and cheaper to have 20 in an attribute, than it is to have a rank of 6 in a skill, meaning that attributes matter way more and, I assume, cover multiple skills to boot. Going ahead one page confirms this. So unless later pages tell us that the original, simple description of the basic mechanics was just a lie, we don't really NEED much more than that first rank in a skill.

Seems like difficulty checks tend to come in increments of 10, too. 10, 20, 30 for Easy, Moderate, Hard. So from chargen we can essentially be sure of beating every Moderate check and have a 50% chance of hitting Hard checks, and that's completely without skills.

The Hard example for Business(An Academic skill) is "Hard (30): Borrow money to buy a shipment of 100,000 pens from China then sell them to an American company at a 100% markup."

So with 20 Intelligence(the governing stat) and a bit of skill in this, we can basically double our money regularly if our GM is a chump and just goes straight by what it says in the book. A lot of these skill examples are AMAZINGLY useless, though. As in, something that could never conceivably come up in an urban horror game.

Law, International: "Hard (30): Prepare a brief, on behalf of one country, seeking reparations from another country for war crimes." Maybe if reapers were behind that genocide, otherwise... not really seeing it.

quote:

Science: Psychology (INL)- This is knowledge of the theories and research concerning the workings of human and animal minds.

Easy (10): List some of the consequences of not enough dopamine.
Moderate (20): List Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Hard (30): Name the likelihood of each attachment style.

I like how the trivia that is Maslow's Hierarchy is more complicated to understand/remember than neurochemical voodoo. Or at least, to me, the outsider of the subject who knows about Maslow's but couldn't tell you shit about dopamine to save my life, it just seems a bit poorly conceived.

quote:

Bicycle (AGY)- This is training on various terrain with racing and mountain bikes. Gives the following maneuvers (with +4 for each level after the first, see Vehicle Skills, p.137).
Jump (20): Jump the bike over holes or obstacles.
Sharp Turn (20): By leaning over almost to the point of touching the ground, the PC can make tight turns.
Skidding Turn (30): By skidding the rear tire, the PC can make incredibly fast and tight turns.
Stairs (20): Go up or down stairs or similar impediments.
Swerve (20): The vehicular equivalent of a dodge.

Law: Criminal (INL)- Prerequisite: Law: Basic (1). This is knowledge of prosecuting or defending those who have been accused of crimes.
Easy (10): List the elements of murder.
Moderate (20): Figure out whether the ‘deal’ the district attorney is offering a criminal defendant is a good deal or not.
Hard (30): Get the evidence obtained from a not-quite-legal police search thrown out.

So according to In Dark Alleys, pulling a "tight turn" on a bicycle is barely any more difficult than, or costly to learn, than enough law to defend and counsel people effectively in court.

This also seems to have taken Kult's lead on the Fist of the North Star thing. Check this out.

quote:

Assassin: Unarmed (Combat)- Techniques for quick and efficient unarmed killing of a surprised opponent. Gives the following maneuvers with hands and feet:

+4 to Grab (Strangulation)
+0 to Special Action: Neck Breaking (Requires a hold on the victim’s head. If successful, instant paralysis and death. STH + AGY +1d20 vs. 40)
+4 to Stomp
+0 to Knockdown

Now, starting with 20 in Strength and Agility is relatively trivial, though it might require us making our character a drooling retard, so let's just say we have 15 in each, if we're #47 we have to be pretty physically fit anyway. Just there, we've got 1d20+30 vs. 40, that's a 50% chance to instamurder someone. But for every rank we have in this over the first, we get a +4. Assuming we've got a class that doesn't have prohibitive casts on CMBT skills, we can pretty much guarantee an instant kill on anything with a head that we can sneak up on.

And this is what we can do well before even reading the combat rules to break its numbers, contemplate supernatural powers or anything else. Outside of this, the CMBT skills are just lising every damn kind of weaponry you can learn, from Anti-tank rockets to kung fu.

The CRIM skills kick us into game-breaking with the first column as it lists its first (40), or "legendary"-level difficulty.

quote:

Black Market (CHM)- This is knowledge of where and how to purchase illegal goods and services, how to bribe officials, where or how to sell illegal goods and services and how to determine the value of black market goods and services. The PC is at -10 in any other than the PC’s home area and -20 in other countries. This skill also allows the PC to start play with illegal items (see p.88).

Easy (10): Buy an infraction level item (e.g. a dime bag of marijuana) or pay for a blowjob.

Moderate (20): Buy a misdemeanor level item (e.g. a switchblade) or bribe a cop to forget about a speeding ticket.

Hard (30): Buy a felony level item (e.g. a machine gun) or hire an assassin.

Legendary (40): Buy a capital level item (e.g. weapons-grade plutonium) or hire mercenaries to overthrow a government.

Sadly we don't get to add together two stats for this one, so we'll have to actually invest in the skill itself. But even so, it would be trivial to have the 20 Charisma to give us a shot at making this work at all, and if we choose to start as a gang boss or something, we could relatively easily pump skill points into this and start off making nukes in our basement.

Knowing how to deal with being high without being useless(Drug Resistance) is also a Criminal skill, I guess that in the world of IDA you don't smoke up unless you've got a felony record.

Remember the "Law" skill that would basically let us get defendants out of court thanks to procedural infractions? It's got LITERALLY the same costs and difficulties as "Card Counting," a skill for getting a bonus to playing Poker and Blackjack. I mean. Really? Not to impugn poker players, but REALLY?

HIGH TECH posted:

Anonymity (INL)- This is knowledge of how to access the internet while concealing the source of the access. This is typically done through anonymous re-sender servers operated by privacy advocates.

Easy (10): Send an anonymous email for a $5 fee.
Moderate (20): Make an anonymous VOIP phone call for $1/minute.
Hard (30): Chat anonymously, live and for free.

Invest your points correctly and you can either buy machineguns on the black market or chat anonymously online! These tough choices, man!

quote:

Data Pirating (INL)- Prerequisite: Research: Internet (2).
This is knowledge of how to obtain free software, music, even movies and television files via the various file sharing networks and piracy rings on the internet. Downloading the data can take seconds or days depending on the size of the file and amount of success. A PC with this skill starts with $2,000 in pirated data per skill level, anything else must be pirated during gameplay. The skill also includes knowledge of how to crack the copy protection or digital rights management schemes meant to protect data from being pirated.

Easy (10): Find an mp3 of a rare track from an out-of-print album by a popular country singer.
Moderate (20): Find a camcorder-taped copy of a major motion picture that just came out.
Hard (30): Find and crack a major A/V editing software suite weeks before it goes on sale.

Even accounting for the fact that IDA came out in 2006, this is pretty hard to excuse. Note the prereq., note that "criminal law" has one less rank of prereq costs. It's literally costlier to know how to find a shitty, handi-cam movie online than it is to know how to be a lawyer in fucking court. My God.

This whole section is just a mess of badly conceived numbers. Investigation for some reason houses a "WMD's" skill, a Brainwashing skill and a Torture skill. The latter two will, again, if you min/max, basically allow you to crack anyone's will easily. They get to oppose you with their Willpower, and only that, no beneficial skills, so you're pretty much guaranteed to have the upper hand on them if you invested in the skill at all. And WMD's I guess is there so you know what to do with the fucking weapons-grade plutonium you've got in your garage.

quote:

Psychotherapy (CHM)- This is training in helping people overcome psychological problems and traumas using various forms of therapy (talk therapy encourages people to discover their own feelings and mental processes; cognitive therapy teaches people to avoid illogical or harmful thoughts; role-playing therapy helps people prepare to deal with real-life situations; exposure therapy helps people deal with fears by slow exposure to the source of the fears).

Easy (10): Help a patient overcome a mild phobia.
Moderate (20): Help a patient deal with the psychological effects of a recent severe trauma.
Hard (30): Help a patient overcome an ego dystonic sexual fetish.
Legendary (40): Help a patient discover that he or she is paranoid and delusional.

Note that psychotherapy has no theoretical prerequisites at all, and depends entirely on your Charisma and nothing else. Your intellect is irrelevant, your psyche is irrelevant, your willpower doesn't matter, nothing but how charming you are. This skill is also filed under People skills, alongside stuff like Seduction.

Also, hey, check it out. Even if you have a Charisma of 0(impossible) and only first-grade training in psychotherapy, it's 50-50 odds to rid someone of a phobia! Man, check all those suckers actually STUDYING this shit. Curing people is EASY AS BALLS. I mean, shit, if we actually had the appropriate stat and skill points we could heal everyone's brains easily.

...hang on, wasn't this game supposed to be about craziness and psychological horror? Hm.

Surgery's got much the same difficulty levels. Fixing someone who's been stabbed through the fucking heart is pretty much guaranteed to succeed if we have just basic levels of Surgery and an above-average Intelligence. How are there even any Survivors in this setting? They just need to get near an even vaguely-competent doctor and they'll be healed.

After all the other categories, though, there's the Traditional, or TRAD category of skills that all Day Jobs have an easy time learning, relatively speaking. Even hobos can be skilled acupuncturists! Similarly, tracking, wilderness survival and building a storm shelter out of discarded tin cans. And I do mean every Day Job. While it's cheapest for Homeless, Retired and Alternative Health Day Jobs(5 per skill or skill rank), it's only 7 for someone who's working in "Trendy Customer Service," Politician or Religious Professional.

I guess even the bishops have to blow off some steam by hunting The Most Dangerous Game.

This section is just an utter fucking mess.

At least that's it for the skills. I was going to do the Supernatural Skills, but this post is already pretty bloated, so I'll save that for tomorrow or something. There is some crazy shit over there.

Next post! ULTIMATE GENITALS! (yes, that is a real sidebar title)

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 5
10:12am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

We'll get back to the actual rules any week now...

Slow start to the semester, so I may as well hammer down a few more SECRET LIVES.

Professional



Basically Professionals are cops or FBI agents or mafia guys(????) or VATICAN SECURITY or corporate security or SOMETHING of that order. They do their job, then one day they end up FIGHTING THE SUPERNATURAL and, for some reason, both kill a ghost(or whatever) and don't consider this big enough news to tell the press that HOLY SHIT GUYS, THE UNDEAD ARE REAL!

This gets them a raise and an invitation to join an Organization, always a Fraternal Lodge(yes, like the Freemasons) which is ruled by OLD WHITE MEN who are now suddenly their pals. As they rise through the lodge, they are one day invited to join the SECRET SUB-LODGE, which is all about defending society from the supernatural badthings.

Of course you can also elect to not join a lodge in which case you're still a cop who shoots ghosts, you just never get to learn why nor get any supernatural training.

What You Know posted:

-One type of threat is humans who have gained paranormal skills or powers.

-Some of these humans are trying to destroy society (or perhaps even destroy reality itself).

-Some of these humans are in dangerous occult groups that meet in or near bars, accident survivor support meetings, gay/lesbian bookstores, libraries, immigrant communities and abandoned buildings.

-Other humans don’t have control over their powers and go around causing problems unintentionally.

...

-Sometimes inanimate objects can be the source of paranormal events. The PC has been encouraged to give these objects to the Order for safekeeping.

-Sometimes places are the source of paranormal events. If informed, the Order can pull strings and make sure these places lie abandoned and unused.

...

-Some of society’s most powerful and important people have a relationship with the Order.

So, to summarize. These guys are oMage's Technocracy, everyone but Faustians who actually work with their Dances seems to have a decent idea of what they actually are, and Freemasons control the world.

There's also a huge sidebar about the Freemasons and similar/related lodges, but none of it seems crazy and, in fact, it seems pretty similar to what you could find if you just looked them up on Wikipedia. On the upside, hey, it's not crazy. On the downside, hey, it's kind of uninspired.

Also as a side-note, some of them have other supernatural humans as contacts despite this technically being the direct opposite of their job description.

Scribblers



quote:

Many who would become Scribblers were already questioning the basic principles of modern philosophy and religion long before they ever heard from another Scribbler. Many were philosophy students who finally found a philosopher who made sense, only to find that nobody considered this philosopher anything other than a joke. The initiate’s favorite philosopher was studied only because it was interesting that someone who seemed so smart could be so wrong.

At some point those who would become Scribblers came into contact with some phrase, most often scrawled on a wall or on a piece of paper hidden in a library book. The phrase said exactly what the initiate had been thinking for years yet
never knew anyone else believed in. It might have said that what we can see and touch is only a tiny part of what there is to reality. Or it might have said that human consciousness can’t have been created in or designed to live in the mundane realm. The clear disdain for orthodox beliefs the graffiti showed was as important to the initiate as any theories the graffiti put forth.

After that the initiate kept his or her eyes peeled for more messages and learned where to find them. Although they could pop up anywhere the writers had the audacity to put them, they were most dense in run-down, seldom or neverused locations where nobody would ever bother to clean up graffiti. The initiate may have discovered, for instance, a ratty old bathroom stall in a dive bar where the walls were coated with scribbling in dozens of hands. For many initiates the discovery of their first ‘bulletin-board’ was the most ecstatic moment of their lives. Sitting for hours, they read not only statements of unorthodox beliefs but also debates, discussions, references to books, references to other bulletinboards, references to places to find supernatural phenomena, reports of supernatural experiences and directions for occult experiments. Many of these experiments included meditating on the falseness of the material world.

Yet another Secret Life who spends most of their time hanging out in public mens' rooms! Badumpsch. Their thing is that they found a supernatural ritual that someone spray-painted on a wall, or painted on a bathroom stall, and instantly took it as gospel and went home to try it. I guess being a gullible idiot is another path to supernatural power.

Their main activities are either said scribbling to contact other scribblers, or scribbling little creepy notes and graffiti to SHOCK THE MUNDANES and make them realize what the world is really like, maaaaaaaan. From their perspective, these guys are basically stuck in the Kult universe: A hostile shithole designed to hide the truth from us, everyone's out to get us, and the authorities have secret armies to stomp our faces with if we get too close to THE TRUTH.

For some reason one of their powers includes learning how to COMMAND ANIMALS and some of them become totally-mean terrorists "destroying the foundations of power." BUT, how is this a "Dark Side" to them? I mean, if The Man really is suppressing the truth and trapping us in a twisted society trying to hide that having weird genitals is humanity's real state, or whatever, wouldn't this be just the logical, and good, thing to do? Fucked if I know.

Their party role seems to be "that geek with all the books who researches shit."

Survivors



Survivors died, making them fit their name pretty badly. Then, while their bodies were technically dead, they saw the reapers(no, not the Mass Effect ones, no, not the generic scythe guys either, just weird blue blobs) collecting souls and whigged out. Or at least as much as you can whig out while being discorporated. And willed their bodies to take them back, their hearts to start beating again, and dodged the reaper's, metaphorical, scythe by a hair's breadth.

Now that they know what happens to the dead, they are so utterly shit-scared of it that their terror gives them supernatural powers of regeneration and recovery, even curing prior disabilities. It specifically includes mental retardation as one of the things that get fixed. No word on whether it also fixes insanities.

They also got stuck being able to see the reapers permanently. Turns out these reaper guys hang around where bad shit is about to go down(but never at sudden, randomly violent incidents), and the Survivors often run around trying to get people to safety when they see reapers congregating. Of course, the reapers have apparently not taken lightly to this and have started trying to murder Survivors through violent accidents and the like, blowing up their gas stove or whatever, getting their house to burn down around them while they sleep. In fact most Survivors have heard stories of fellow Survivors being killed in their sleep and are now refusing to sleep at all, as far as possible.

Others become death cultists, deciding that killing people for the reapers to harvest will get them off their backs. That they somehow have to "pay off" their own survival. If this was actually the truth, it would be kind of interesting, balancing morals with ensuring your own survival.

And finally we only have one secret life left.

Wonderlanders



quote:

At a young age, Wonderlanders became entranced in a fantasy world of their own creation. Each had an “adult friend” (usually a relative or friend of the family) that took a special interest in them and helped them escape into the fantasy world. The help may have included giving them a place to play alone and giving them toys or books. Some adult friends invited their young Wonderlander to come stay with them until some family crisis resolved itself. Most importantly, the adult friend told stories to the young initiates based on their own fantasy worlds.

Am I the only one who feels like this sounds just a slight bit creepy? But anyway, after this, the Wonderlanders forget all about this stuff and grow up. Then ONE DAY, when they're FEELING DOWN, they remember it! Weird hobos and living toys are suggested as some of the means of reminding them. Alternately...

quote:

For other Wonderlanders it was a message they received or evidence that they found that suggested that their adult friend had been psychologically manipulating or experimenting on them. The Wonderlanders found out that their adult friends had unusual interest in their playlands and knew things about them that the young Wonderlanders had never told anyone. Parts of the messages were, for some Wonderlanders, instructions from the adult friend telling them how the power of the Playland could be harvested in time of need.

Doing more research, Wonderlanders discovered that the same thing had been done to other children, perhaps even by the same adult friend.

Which doesn't really defuse the creepiness of the first quote.

Also apparently Playland isn't a nice place. Seems like a lot of Wonderlanders end up stuck tracking down escaped Playland creatures causing trouble for people, or busting into Playland and dealing with shit there which causes trouble in the real world some other way. Their abilities related to Playland are very vaguely worded in this section and we'll have to puzzle about the exact stuff later once we get to the actual powers part of the rules, but for now it just says that stuff can move between the real world and Playland, Playland has aggressive, malevolent and non-intelligent predators, as well as semi-intelligent, "exaggerated" inhabitants. Sometimes the Wonderlander can turn local reality into something that follows Playland rules.

Dark Side posted:

Wonderlanders were experimented on as children, often by people who had an unhealthy obsession with children and childhood. What was done to them is still not entirely clear. In the course of figuring it out, some Wonderlanders start performing their own experiments with children. Many of these experiments may harm children.

Abilities posted:

Playland Phenomena (Mandatory Disadvantage)-

In addition to the powers the PC consciously controls, there are phenomenon which will happen against the PC’s will. Toys will animate, portals will open to playland, playland entities will cross over into this world, etc. These events are most likely to happen when the PC is under stress. There is a small possibility they will help the PC, but if they have any effect on the PC’s life they are most likely to cause trouble. Sometimes when a PC has a desire he or she is unwilling to act on (perhaps because of moral considerations, fear of disapproval by others, impracticality, etc.) some playland phenomena will attempt to act on that desire on the PC’s behalf.

There's also a bit of illustrative fiction.



The final sidebar of the Secret Lives section informs us that being a child is a miserable, horrible existence of existential angst and worry, only salvaged by the fact that all children have ADHD and will forget about bad things after a couple of days.

quote:

The one thing children have going for them is their incredibly short attention span, which allows their periods of stress and dread to be interspersed with periods of joy and abandon while they are doing something fun. Adults tend only to notice and remember the latter, which is why so many adults mistakenly believe that life as a child is more pleasant than life as an adult.

And that's it for Secret Lives. Next time... Day Jobs! Skills! Supernatural Skills!

Sneak Preview

Birth Servant (WIL) posted:

The PC must be in a body with a uterus and vagina to use this skill.

Aren't you just excited?

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 4
10:03am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Drunk, disorderly and covered in giant bugs

Heroes



You know that guy who buys knives off the internet, shows off his katana and tells you how he hopes someone is going to try jumping him in a bad part of town so he can cut him up? Those are Heroes. They're basically your general wannabe-vigilante, so mal-adjusted they can't even hold down a job or a social life(except chatting with other Heroes about leads). Most of them have never even fought a mugger, much less a flesh-hungry ghoul.

PC Heroes, on the other hand, are actually the crazies who have saved some people while dressed up as Batman(really, it suggests vigilante costumes) and have somehow tumbled to the fact that there are supernatural threats to people out there as well. Some are genuinely crazy, some are desperate, most mean well, but some end up being the sort of people who cut off a purse-snatcher's finger with a bolt cutter and mail them to his family.

They also get some degree of supernatural power, either a magical familiar(cat, dog or horse), a high-tech device(that normal science says should just do nothing, or maybe explode), have occult training(wizard Batman!), got an inheritance meaning they can start off buying anti-tank missiles, have superpowers for another reason,

Shattered Person posted:

Shattered Person- Once the PC, or someone the PC was near, had an intense experience, one in which he or she felt both pain, pleasure, fear, hatred and joy all at the same time. Most likely the experience involved sex. Somehow the strength of this experience ‘broke reality,’ making the laws of physics go haywire in the surrounding area. Anyone nearby was killed and the PC survived only through extreme luck. Thereafter the PC found that his or her body warped the laws of physics around it.

have an enchanted SOUL MATE or some other such crazy shenanigans.

You get the dealy-o. These powers are made with a vaguely BESM-y "cobble shit together and fluff it as you please"-method, and as we have yet to actually know shit about the system beyond our stats and hit points, we can't really tell whether any of this rocks or sucks. Props for suggesting high-tech or secret-government-tech devices powered by MOON ROCKS, though, that's the sort of old-style comic book hilarity I approve of.

The Lost



Basically they can teleport. But only while drunk. Or possibly stoned out of their gourd. And they discover this power by getting crunk as all Christ, not giving two-shits and accidentally teleporting all over the place until a fellow Lost who's learned to control his abilities a bit tells them what the deal is.

quote:

At adventure one, the Lost has been experimenting with his or her powers for months and is starting to get a handle on what he or she can and can’t do. The Lost has wandered through a lot of interesting places and has even passed very briefly through a place that seemed unearthly: an eerie deserted city, a giant concrete space of unknown purpose, a space filled with endless bizarre machinery, a dark canyon filled with naked marching people, a place with a featureless black floor and sky, or a place that seemed like something from a children’s book.

Honestly? They seem kind of neat. They also learn how to bring friends along. This makes them kind of a great cornerstone for a party, especially as it suggests that these friends often come along to help them investigate the weird places they find.

This would be a great setup for the entire party just being a group of buddies checking out some cool shit, accidentally Lost'ing their way into Area 51 or extradimensional spaces, etc. etc.

This... this doesn't completely suck shit! They also learn to travel without being drunk, eventually, but it still helps.

There's also a random table for generating places to pop into, all of which could basically work as adventure seeds, and a sidenote on Lost combat, suggesting that when really experienced they can pop around a corner, into a gun store, grab a gun, pop out around another corner, unload on their enemies, and then disappear once more. Or possibly their very pockets just become handy, extradimensional spaces full of random shit.

These guys rock.

Outcasts



Outcasts are the poor people who see weird crazy alien shit and likely end up labelled as schizophrenic or something if they talk to anyone about it. Some learned to turn it off, at least some of the time, and the remainder usually goes completely fucking bonkers.



The book helpfully illustrates the sort of horrifying bullshit they can see and which normal people can't. Not all of it's that blatant, though, sometimes it's weird symbolic shit, like seeing human skulls on a part of a person's body and then it turns out they have a tumor there. So Outcasts spend a lot of time trying to find patterns and explanations for their visions.

A lot of 'em apparently also become hobos.

Their "What You Know" also suggests that Dances may be some sort of gestalt minds created by coalescing pools of memories in old places.

These guys probably have the most expansive What You Know section, really pointing out that they've done some research into the weird shit, see more than the other Secret Lives, etc. Mix a Lost and an Outcast in a party and you'll never run out of stories. The Lost takes them weird places, and then the Outcast sees some vague shit that starts them on the road to cracking the puzzle or just gets them more interested than the place alone. Or the Outcast sees something fucking weird, and the Lost gets them on the road to pursuing it or learning something more concrete.



Along with the whole SCIENCE IS FOR WESTERN IGNORANTS-thing, I'm getting a kind of... Scientology-ish vibe. I mean, we know from the Animists that most mental ailments are actually evil spirits, and the stuff about secret voices whispering to people from beyond the aether kind of reinforces that. Is it just me? Kind of a distrust of the psychological and medical establishment?

As for powers, an interesting aspect is that they get better at seeing supernatural shit if they deprive themselves of sleep. They also get to intimidate Dances, by threatening to burn down their buildings or get the police interested in them, meaning that the Dance will either send a Faustian servant to aid them or otherwise try to assist. That could actually be a decent hook to stitch a Faustian into a party, the Dance has him permanently assigned to help them out and be their gopher to get the Outcast off its back.

All in all, these three classes/archetypes don't seem too bad. Or maybe it's just that after the Androgyne, almost nothing seems that bad

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 3
09:47am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Still living secret lives

Animists



The summary: You believe in PROPER FOREIGN OCCULTISM and can hence use your WILLPOWER to MANIPULATE THE SPIRITS.

The long version: Much more retarded than that!

The Chosen posted:

Almost every Animist is a first or second generation immigrant from a culture that believes in spirits, magic and magical practitioners. Most have a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle who is an Animist. As children, most were respectful of their elders and their people’s ways. Most were smart with an especially good memory. A significant percentage survived a near-fatal injury or illness with the help of an Animist. A significant percentage have suffered from what western doctors would call a mental illness.

Stupid western doctors and their "science!" Thinking they know things!

The Initiation posted:

Animists grew up in communities where the people around them believed there were spirits everywhere. Some spirits live in objects, some float in the air, some live inside people’s bodies and keep them healthy. The people believed in these spirits as strongly as anything they could see and touch. If someone’s car broke down, it was assumed the spirit of the car was angry. If someone had headaches, it was assumed that a ‘misfortune,’ a spirit dedicated to causing trouble, was attacking the person. If a person was depressed, it was assumed that one of his or her guardian spirits had wandered off.

So they grew up in communities where education was a thing that happened to other people and their friends and family died regularly of easily treated ailments because they insisted it be cured by rituals instead of medicine! Except, this is IDA, so they were actually right and our foolish western views are wrong.

Basically you were chosen by an elder Animist as an apprentice and slowly learned how to do this crazy shit. The trick is that all the rituals are just bullshit to appease people and make what you do look more flamboyant, while in fact your power is acquired from doing immensely stupid things that almost kill you. Like starving yourself half to death or taking dangerous drugs.

Why this doesn't mean every meth-head or person who's overdosed and survived doesn't have a posse of spirit buddies, I can't tell you. Presumably their WESTERN OPINIONS prevent them from being good at these things. You think I'm kidding right? Just turn the page.


WHITE PEOPLE CAN'T WIZARD

Literally: Trying to understand how things work makes them not work, if only you were like the enlightened foreigners who just accept rituals and weirdness instead of trying to use their heads...

I'm trying to figure out if this is more offensive to people from foreign countries who actually DO try to think about things, or to every person with a working brain in general.

A "typical evening" for animists includes finding lost guardian spirits, curing diseases, helping violent gangs and cursing white people! No, not kidding about those last two. Apparently this is common enough that it's listed under the general Animist behavior. There's also a "DARK SIDE" listed where some animists are, gasp, immoral and will use their skills to stop members of their community opposed to arranged marriages or trying to get a college education!

What You Know posted:

The fact that your people were subjugated by imperialists, despite your people having powerful Animists, suggests that the imperialist conquerors had their own spiritual power (whether they knew it or not).

So I guess white people CAN wizard, just not consciously???? Or did the British Empire have an advance guard of stealthy Androgyne sorcerers working for them without them knowing it? Fucked if I know! This isn't elaborated on AT ALL.

Bonus insulting scientists section!

quote:

Aboriginal people pass down knowledge about nature, but it is only the information they find useful for their actual survival. If you want pointless facts about how insects mate or diseases that effect trees, ask an entomologist or a botanist, not an aboriginal person.

Hah! Knowing about biology and insects is USELESS if it isn't about what you should eat or avoid! This is all from a sidebar about aboriginal people being in tune with nature is a "myth," mind you.

quote:

Aboriginal don’t pretend that they fully understand how nature works, and so when they do something to the natural world and something bad happens, they try to never do that thing again. If someone drops a food dish on the floor and the next day there’s a terrible storm, they decide never to let food dishes touch the ground again. Thus they avoid a lot of the western world’s mistakes, but they also fill their lives with pointless prohibitions.

They're also like adorable retarded children who'll make up absurd magical laws at the drop of a hat plate! I mean seriously, what the fuck? While I know that these things CAN happen, I'm pretty sure that, as pattern-recognizing creatures in general, humans usually understand that just two things happening next to each other doesn't always connect them, unless the former is always preceded by the latter. Just... Christ.

If you're an Animist you're also forced to have a "cannot into modern society"-disadvantage that means you can't have any jobs other than "prostitute" or "boring factory worker" unless you pony up the points for the special skill "Act American." You literally cannot understand spirits if you understand going to college.

Then there's a five-page sidebar about native religions which doesn't seem to be offensive or wrong, just wordy, wordy, wordy. It'd take someone more knowledgeable than me to point out if IDA is somehow wrong about these various things. I guess their stereotypes about the peoples might be insulting but, again, I don't know how true they are, and stuff like "Hmong people don't like physical contact or making eye contact," might actually be right, it doesn't seem straight-up insane or insulting enough for me to call it either way.

quote:

Cambodian girls who go against cultural norms are often labelled "slut" or "prostitute." This is especially likely to happen when a girl has premarital sex or complains about her domestic situation (even if she is being abused).

Why yes, thank you, this is so completely different from other cultures that it needed to be pointed out. And it also makes all Cambodians sound like rampant misogynists!

quote:

Men, on the other hand, are not looked down upon for having premarital or extramarital sex. Since men are free to have affairs, married women have been known to attack their husband’s mistresses. In Cambodia there has been a rash of attacks by women who poured acid on the faces of husbands’ mistresses to permanently disfigure them.

It also feels like he's trying to make Cambodian relationships in general sound like a crazed, free-for-all brawl where acid and knives are thrown around with reckless abandon, women are abused and men are evil people who abuse their cultural privileges to sleep around every chance they get.

I take back what I said earlier, some of this stuff IS kind of offensive. But I still can't dredge out any more hidden gems, so let's move on! To...

Cannibals!

Surprise: This one is actually NOT about tropical flesh-eaters.



Also their art? Kind of awesome!

Essentially what's going on here is that you've got some largely-Christian(with some Jews and Muslims involved) sub-sect that goes by Ye Olde Gnostic Shenanigans. The God of the physical world is evil, reject the physical! And as an extension of this they declare that "the taboos of the physical world are meaningless," eating human flesh is just the ultimate "fuck you" to Evil God and his taboos.

Unlike the former two groups, these guys are relatively intellectual and spend a lot of their time studying religious texts and trying to get a greater understanding of what they're actually about, debating theology with their fellow Cannibals, etc.

On powers, their low-degree stuff is basically being able to phantom-replicate the limbs and pieces they remove, emulating them to a point that they might as well not be missing anything at all. Though the downside is that they can't really run a marathon in public if they have no legs, as they have to keep their Supernatural Bullshit on the down-low.

quote:

Cannibals break taboos to break themselves of an emotional connection to the physical world. Usually they break taboos by themselves or with fellow Cannibals. Some Cannibals, however, break taboos with people against their will. Some do so in the belief that it is not immoral to kill, rape, molest or mutilate people’s physical bodies because those bodies either don’t matter or are inherently unholy. Others believe that they are helping people by forcing them to break taboos.

But even with this, most Cannibals are on personal quests for enlightenment and don't really involve the rest of the world unless it wants to be involved somehow. Kind of looking forward to seeing what their potential powers are, later on, as both "Ecstatic Rage" and "Nihilistic Rage" are among them. But that's it, really, the entry for Cannibals(and for Faustians as well) is literally only half the length of the Animists or Androgynes, if even that. Probably more like a third of the latter's length.

Speaking of Faustians, they're actually kind of awesome.

Faustians



And, incompetent art aside? They do look kind of awesome, too.

This one is easily summarized and doesn't have any bad writing or horrific ideas. Essentially you were a person with REALLY bad willpower, you gave in easily to drugs or some such, or got yourself into the utmost depths of shit thanks to debt or something similar. Maybe got involved with crime. Then at some point where you were utterly desperate for aid, you somehow sent out an unconscious, psychic plea for help, and something answered.

A thing called a "Dance" takes up residence in your skull and gives you the mental fortitude not to fuck your life up again, and in fact to start taking it back. In return, it gives you urges to do certain things. Largely they just consist of guarding some old, abandoned location(often urban) and finding some odd, old objects to take there. Occasionally it gives you an artistic talent, and some of what you create must be brought there as well.

It rarely communicates verbally, and only does so incredibly curtly when it does, instead preferring to just give you an incredible URGE to go get those hobos out of that old church down the street... and leaving the means entirely up to you. The Dance is amoral as FUCK and doesn't care if you skin them alive or just pay them to go get drunk somewhere else. On the other hand, disobeying your Dance can get you in trouble. At low levels of disobedience, or if you just shirk your duties for a while, it can strip away the mental fortitude it granted you, leaving you to fuck up your life again. At high level of disobedience or if you directly try to counteract its goals(destroying whatever location it wants guarded, for instance), it may "try to get you killed," considering that it can give you "urges," I'd assume it mostly does this by trying to make you walk into traffic or do dangerous drugs, that sort of thing.

Still, as strange alien entities go, these don't seem too bad to be allied with. Not concerned with human people's survival, but not fixated on getting them killed either.

I rather hope these get fleshed out more later in the book, somehow. But even if they don't, this is already enough to base an entire setting or game off on its own.

And that's about it for Faustians. Told you they were succinct! Tune in next time for...

Heroes! Lost! And the Outcast! The latter of which get some pretty rad art...

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 2
09:30am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys

Still generating characters

Step Three: Attributes

This works basically the same as Psychodynamics except now we're statting up our physical self rather than our brain. Mostly.

Agility, Awareness, Charm, Endurance, Intelligence, Speed, Strength and Willpower are our eight stats and there is literally nothing weird, surprising or twisted about any of them. 1 sucks, 10's average, 20's totally awesome.

Well, I lie, there is one odd thing: While Strength increases our melee damage(as per pretty much every RPG in the history of ever), so does Speed. But only for our kicks. Either the logic is that if we're fast, we've also got damn good leg muscles, or the creator is just deranged. Who the fuck knows? Oh and also Intelligence has nothing to do with being smart or clever, apparently. It lets us think faster and be better at complicated tasks, but "Intelligence is not cleverness or wisdom, any PC can come up with a clever plan or completely miss the obvious, no matter their Intelligence."

We also have 12 points to distribute to our Health Attributes. Body, Blood and Incapacitate. Body is our superficial HP which apparently only covers against blunt damage, Blood is our mid-range HP that soaks up everything and Incapacitate is our "lose this and you're fucking DEAD, dude"-HP.

Knowing no more about the system, currently, it seems like there's no reason not to pour it all into Incapacitate. It says that blunt weapons do double damage to our BLOOD POINTS if we're out of BODY POINTS, but nothing about them doing double damage to Incapacitate points. Again, maybe there's some underlying brilliance that only becomes obvious once you know the entire system... or maybe the author is just a fuckwit.

Step Four: Secret Life

There are 11 of these, and we're just going to run through them in the alphabetical order they're presented in. This is also going to be our first proper look at whatever passes for "fluff" in this game.

Androgynes



There's also art for every Secret Life

quote:

In Brief: Have discovered there is a power to human sexuality, a power beyond and capable of changing our bodies and our genders.

Other Names: Genderqueers, Metasexuals, Two-Souls, TransTantrics.


So seriously, is there any fucking "dark horror" game out there that manages to resist the temptation to have some sort of retarded sex wizards? Any?

quote:

Those who are chosen are most often those who are seen acting in a way that defies stereotypes of either the straight world or the gay world, e.g. a straight woman who gets into bar fights, a straight man who goes to clubs with gay male friends, a male crossdresser who makes no attempt to act feminine, an otherwise ‘butch’ lesbian who wears a pink dress, etc.


So this is a group made out of tomboys, cross-dressers and people who just dress hideously in general. Their "initiation" consists of a sexual encounter and, I shit you not, one of the locations suggested for this place is "a jail cell."

Oh fuck it I'm going to quote this shit in full because I could not possibly summarize it in a way that would make it seem more ridiculous than the actual writing.

Jesus Christ in Heaven posted:

Most Androgynes are initiated via a random sexual encounter. They meet someone at a club, bar, house party, LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual) bookstore, P.F.L.A.G. (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meeting, jail cell, college lecture, protest, tea room, etc. The initiator is usually very androgynous and the initiate finds hirself instantly and powerfully attracted to the person. Drunk on passion the initiate follows the initiator to a secluded place (most often the initiate’s home) and they have sex.

During intercourse, through, something undeniably supernatural happens. Perhaps the androgynous stranger changes gender. Perhaps the two briefly switch bodies. Perhaps the androgynous stranger’s genitals transform into something not human. In most cases the initiate is so overwhelmed with shock, physical exertion and pleasure that sie passes out. The initiate awakens the next day to find a short note with a cryptic statement like “what’s between out legs is so powerful that even the heavens fear it,” or “sex is the most powerful thing a human can do, that’s why society puts so many restrictions on it” or “only when you stop letting society tell you who and what you are can you find out what you’re capable of.”

Along with the cryptic half-explanation is a time and address for the initiate to find out more.


I'm starting to miss Black Tokyo. Oh and then the thing starts using "hir" and "sie" for pronouns which just makes me want to strangle the author. Fuck that ridiculous bullshit.

The new member is initiated by picking up a bunch of anonymous challenges from the ANDROGYNE UNDERGROUND to either dress like the opposite gender or fuck members of both genders. An alternate introduction is to hang out with "the pre-eminent genderqueer philosophers," something that sounds like it would drive me suicidal rather than discovering magic. Unless that magic would let me make my/their heads explode.

quote:

Only after the initiate has proven hir willingness to transcend boundaries of gender and orientation will the initiate be rewarded with another sexual experience, often with hir original initiator. In this experience, though, the initiate witnesses having hir body switched, hir original body’s gender changing, and being transferred back to hir original body but this time as another gender.

The sudden change of gender has different effects on different initiates. Some are able to hide it via careful choice of clothing and makeup and go on with their normal lives. Some adopt new identities. Some quit showing up to work and, when they can no longer pay the rent, become homeless. Wherever they end up they are always left with instructions on how and where to find their next supernatural sexual encounter.


PLAY AN ANDROGYNE IF: You want to be a roaming hobo searching the dark alleys of reality for supernatural blowjobs.

So while they fuck their MYSTERY PROSTITUTE, they get to roam through his/her(I refuse to write "hir" If I can get away with it) memories and learn that the ANDROGYNE UNDERGROUND is about EXPLORING SEX MAGIC and ABOLISHING THE IDEA OF GENDER.

quote:

The initiate learns that sex has incredible power, and that intense sexual experiences can lead to a temporary breakdown of the rules of physics. This is a dangerous power and most who have such experiences are killed in the process. The genderqueer movement is the only way to shed the sex act of its cultural ‘baggage’ and thus have some hope of accessing its power without being killed.


I'll be honest, this actually makes me look back on Kult's HELLSTALKER BONERS with fond memories. Somehow this shit is just WORSE.

quote:

Yet for all their powers the Androgynes must practice in secret or else they will be hunted down and killed by the ‘Powers-That-Be,’ a conspiracy which they presume secretly rules mundane society and enforces gender stereotypes. Androgynes have been told that the Powers-That-Be’s agents have their own supernatural powers, although few Androgynes have encountered an agent and lived to tell about it.


Much like Otherverse: America, I'm already feeling an INTENSE desire to play the "bad guys" and hunt down the insufferable fucks who use terms like "mundane society."

Typical Evening posted:

Most androgynes spend a portion of their evenings meeting with other androgynes. They meet in private homes, college classrooms, GBLT bookstores and in the back-rooms of gay bars. They discuss the theory and practice of androgyny.

Androgynes spend many of their evenings out on the town experiencing what it’s like to interact with people as a member of a different gender. Few androgynes are in a monogamous relationship. Most are sexually active and seek to explore the potential of passion by having sex with many different people as many different people. Thus they spend many of their evenings hitting the bars and clubs, both gay and straight, where singles congregate. A good evening means bedding an interesting person, exploring passion and the power that comes with passion, and leaving the lover with a supernatural experience that will alter hir life forever.

Some androgynes think of themselves as cultural terrorists whose duty it is to disrupt gender roles. They remove signs from bathrooms, paste gay porn on the walls inside churches, seduce famous and important people and then “out” them as gay, spray anti-gender graffiti on walls, dress statues of famous people in drag, etc.


Wow, I hope Androgyne SEX MAGIC involves something that makes them immune to herpes, otherwise these people likely aren't being hunted down by Men In Black, but rather by the CDC who're hoping to control an outbreak of whatever dozens of hideous plagues these people's genitals are crawling with.



EXCITEMENT SIDEBAR

This shit is incredibly fucking wordy and there is really no way to summarize it much without losing the impact of it.

A brief paragraph on WHAT YOU KNOW which is basically DESTROY GENDER, USE BONER SPELLS and then...

quote:

-The rich white men who rule the world want to protect their power by discouraging experimentation with sex and gender roles.

-Heterosexual monogamous relationships are a means of keeping wealth and power concentrated in families by keeping lines of paternal descent clear


So if boners are so magical, why aren't these people who "rule the world" using them for their own sex magic? I mean, seriously. It seems like the easiest and most enjoyable way to get your wizard robe and hat. Just bone a lot of people! This is not explained except to the depth of MUNDANES BAD MEAN PEOPLE.

Supernatural Skills posted:


The PC can purchase the following skills at 10 skill points per

level:

Be Other (WIL)

Birth Servant (WIL)

Change Gender (WIL)

Switch Bodies (WIL)


There are others, but I'm already dreading our eventual encounter with the chapter full of horrifying magical abilities that will no doubt be later in this book.

Recommended Equipment posted:

Recommended Equipment- Makeup Kit, Wardrobe, Condoms, Makeup: Theatrical.


And of course it's suggested that your character's day job is being a prostitute.

That was more exhausting than I'd expected. At least the remaining Secret Lives can't be as bad. Tune in next time for...

Animists! Cannibals! And Faustians!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 1
09:19am EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys



Part 1: Twilit Corners

Aside from an earlier skim for some bad art for people to giggle at, and people telling me that oh boy oh boy is IDA bad, I've had no prior experience with this RPG. This is pretty much a blind read, so if anyone who knows the RPG better has anything to add on specific points(relevant info about the author, stuff I've missed or overlooked, or things that only really become apparent after a good bit of play) feel free to comment.

As per usual, these games have a foreword...

IDA is apparently a horror game(shocker!) but there are no common tropes or pre-known monsters for us to cling to!

quote:

This is a horror game, yet players are not given the comfort of a monster they know from legends: there are no ghosts or vampires or devils. Instead, the ‘monsters’ are the people, places and things that we depend on and believe in and that suddenly turn malevolent when their true nature is perceived.

And then right afterwards he ruins this acceptable concept by elaborating on it.

quote:

In Dark Alleys draws style from three main sources:

-Movies from the Japanese “horror revolution” (and their American remakes).

-A number of American Indie comics whose creators found innovative ways of bringing readers into the damaged psyches of the protagonists.

-A certain sci-fi trilogy that uses questions about the nature of reality to form the basis for furious action.

Man, what is there even to say about this? Except that I have no idea what "certain sci-fi trilogy" he refers t- oh wait a fucking moment. Is he talking about The Matrix? I mean, I guess you could SAY The Matrix was related to horror, but only in the poor execution of the sequels. My mind is already spinning at this idiocy of Fieldsian proportions.

The setting for this horror is basically the generic Modern Occult "just like the real world 'cept there are totally monsters in the basement," and apparently the particular part of the world that will be elaborated on for IDA is Los Angeles. Characters are just "those dudes who know weird shit is going down."

quote:

Game Mechanics- All mechanics are based on a simple system: The sum of attribute + skill + modifier(s) + 1d20 must be equal to or higher than the difficulty of the proposed action.

And I guess the system is basically D20. Alright. Kind of a shaky start, but this could either shape up to be something worthwhile or something incredibly, hilariously, agonizingly bad. Knowing my luck I think I know which we're in for.

Why Alleys?

This is a long, meandering sidebar/intro about why it's In Dark Alleys. About how modern society values BEAUTY MORE THAN TRUTH and how THE ALLEYS BEHIND THE FACADES SHOWS THE REAL WORLD.

"This game is about those who are tired of the shallow pleasantness of façades, tired of being told comforting lies, tired of a standard of mass-manufactured prettiness that strives to be as inoffensive as possible."

And really it makes me suspect that the author was probably bullied a lot in high school. Hell, he probably still gets wedgies to this day.

Character Creation

Chargen is nine steps and is largely recognizable from other games. Pick a concept, design a personality(which we've got 80 points to do, this step is labelled "Psychodynamics"), attributes(another 80 points), Secret Life(what we know about THE ALLEYS), Day Job(OUR FACADE), Skills, Equipment and the usual Advantages/Disadvantages shenanigans.

Sadly, unlike Kult, I doubt we can make the Fist of the North Star here, so let's wait and see what the book lets us make.

Step One: Character Concept!

Let's see, recommended points to fill out... Family, Gender/Sex...

sex/gender posted:

What is the PC’s gender and sexual preference? Is the PC looking for any kind of long-term relationship, and if so then what kind? What does the PC find attractive in a man/woman? Does the PC have any kinks? Does the PC ever wish to have children?

So, we are exactly... five pages in. Counting the front page. This is literally the first page of chargen, the first page past the index. And we're being asked to consider if our PC has any sexual fetishes. Maybe it's just a little bump in the road. I'm going to pretend it is. It'll be gravy and sunshine from here on!

...Ethnicity, personal history, appearance, all standard...

Ah! Something interesting! Drive! What our character's motivating passion is. There are a few example motivations and they can all be summed up as either: YOU WISH TO KNOW THE TRUTH or YOU GET A KICK OUT OF THIS or YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE.



There's also a sidebar summing up the ten or so Secret Lives we can choose from, but I'm going to ignore that by now and wait until we get the actual write-ups on them so we can go into them in-depth.

Psychodynamics

We have 80 points to spread across 8 personality elements, with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 20 in any given box. Having a high score in any given one apparently risks it "interfering with rational thought." We can elect to have these things "corrupted" with future disadvantages, too, and this chapter tells us what happens if one of these is such.

ANIM is the strength of our male/female side(masculinity or femininity, but the opposite of what our physical gender is), and apparently at 20 we're supergood at interacting with the other gender, while at 1 we're completely incapable of interacting with our opposites. If corrupted: "the opposite gender is frightening and reprehensible." Definitely a corrupted psychodynamic for most people on the internet, then.

EGO is basically self-control and self-understanding. At 20 we're fucking in charge of ourselves, at 1 we can't keep our own head on straight. It also incorporates some aspects of raw willpower as it generally lets us ignore discomforts and interruptions. If the EGO is corrupted, our brain keeps dredging up things and memories that we don't like.

ID is "the part of the PC that seeks pleasure and avoids discomfort," if it's a 20 we really hate things that suck and love nice things, at a 1 we're an ascetic monk that couldn't give less of a fuck. If this one is corrupted we love things that aren't pleasant, but then wouldn't they be giving us pleasure? Meaning that our scale is merely inverted compared to THE MUNDANES? Fucked if I know. I'm having trouble figuring out how this one matters at all.

REPT is, oh boy, "the PC’s most basic instincts, those we share in common with reptiles." If it's 20 we're really concerned with SURVIVAL(and boning) and will react very swiftly and decisively in matters involving these. Oh and we also won't really care about morals if they get in the way. So I guess it makes us a very pro-active rapist. If it's a 1, we rely on ideals and logic to resolve things rather than just reacting to what we want here and now, but we also have slow reactions in "life or death"-scenarios.

Corrupted Reptile posted:

If the REPT is corrupted, the PC’s instincts will tell the PC to do bizarre and unhealthy things: e.g. eat a newspaper, go to sleep on a cold sidewalk, have sex with a relative, attack a larger and meaner person, etc.

SEGO is our super-ego. It's the part of us that fears being punished for doing bad things. At 20 we like cops, don't break the law. At 1 we've got no conscience and don't give a fuck about breaking rules unless we have a good reason not to do so, so basically it makes us a raging asshole because it also means we ignore social norms. The corrupted version of SEGO is kind of hilarious, though, as it makes the character feel guilty about things that no one gives a fuck about, like brushing their teeth or whatever. TOOTH COPZ HERE TO BUST YO ASS FOR USING TOOTHPASTE.

SHAD is Shadow, our dark side! The higher this one is, the bigger a jackass we are, and we need a high EGO and SEGO to keep it in check. If it's a 1, we're basically a nice guy who never thinks about kicking down the neighbour's door and stabbing him in the throat. Or maybe not. It can also mean we're a complete and utter sociopath and our destructive impulses are ones we AGREE with, rather than ones we avoid. Corrupted SHAD is actually kind of interesting, as it locks away part of the personality to be under the control of the Shadow, for instance an artist may only be able to draw while entertaining his darker impulses or such.

STRA is Stranger, or basically: "Are we afraid of different things?" At 20 we're a xenophile who loves new people and new cultures and take inspiration from their weird new things. At 1 we're a bigoted moron who makes fun of everything we don't already know what is. If it's corrupted it's... odd, in that we develop some sort of self-loathing where everything like us has bad attributes in our mind, and everything similar to others has good attributes.

THAN, Thanatos! At 20 we're a crazy death-cultist...

Thanatos posted:

At 20 THAN, the PC has an obsession with and desire for death. The PC likes morbid humor, has little fear of death, and generally thinks death will be a good thing. Death will be like going to sleep after a hard day. Knowledge that death is inevitable helps the PC deal with the trials of life. The PC also likes the idea of an armageddon where the whole world is destroyed.

And at 1 we apparently have trouble dealing with hard times because death doesn't seem like a nice way out. So let me just re-emphasize this. This is a stat that either makes us cheerful because we're obsessed with death, OR makes us miserable because we can't deal with the idea of killing ourselves. Does this seem fucked up to anyone else?

If this one is corrupted then we just think OTHER people need to die.

Ultimately it feels like most of this could have been boiled down to two, maybe three stats, since half of them in some way or another go: "Do you violate social norms or go along with them?"

Next time: Stats! Secret Lives! Day Jobs! And More!



I know I certainly can't wait!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 7
01:42pm EDT - 8/16/2015
KROMORE



So I get back to Kromore for the final stretch, the fluff chapters, after two weeks of being too sick to write worth a damn, and I immediately wish I was sick for a third week: The fluff chapters are fucking awful. And not just the entertaining, Fieldsy kind of awful where every second page is about cocks, but also the sort of terrible editing that makes me wonder if Gene Ray wrote this. Sections will jump from a paragraph about alien invasions to paragraphs about how much of a random planet's surface is covered from water with no warning. Let me quote an example section, just so you can tell I'm not joking:

quote:

Fear of attacking unknown aliens from the worm hole located in the Alpha-1 nebula are often discussed as priority scenarios amongst high ranking galactic commanders in later era time lines.

Riddled with ancient islands and history, the planet Kromore has seen its share of alien visitors for close to ten thousand years. Most of the planets land mass has been either destroyed by nature, war, rebuilt by new nations, or formed into stable living environments.

The planet of Kromore is made up of nearly 40% water.

Much like the rest of the book, terms are thrown about haphazardly and only explained twenty pages down the road, if at all, and often the description completely fails to answer most of the questions you have. I'll try to put some sort of sense to the book's ramblings but it's not easy, so this will probably get a bit incoherent, too.

How the fuck you pronounce "Жo-Rin."

So anyway, the core of the setting is that the "Жo-Rin" are moustache-twirling evil aliens from an evil galaxy with an evil lich king, and the Tesck(the entirety of their description is "blind and matriarchal," they're blind because they're from a part of space without any light. Really.) are decently-nice Ancient Aliens who, in the face of the Жo-Rin conquering everything they see, evacuate species from their homeworlds and transplant them to others so they can survive. Unfortunately, despite having the capacity for inter-galactic travel(Earth is in this setting and is in a separate galaxy from the planet of Kromore, the Жo-Rin eventually conquer Earth and strip-mine it), they seemingly dump just about every species they rescue on Kromore, which is, in galactic terms, right on the Жo-Rin's doorstep.

quote:

It is believed the Tesck have gathered most of the life forms from the surrounding galaxies to the refugee planet Kromore in hopes of protecting them against the Жo-Rin and their vastly growing control on galactic space.

(The Tescians also apparently suck balls at this "rescuing species"-gig since Kromore has about a half dozen intelligent species, yet there's supposedly a couple hundred other sentient species that the Tescians never bothered to rescue or otherwise work with.)

The Tesck generally fuck around being useless albeit well-intentioned, then there's the Alliance(largely Kromore) who fuck around being "good guys" and mostly spend their time getting their ass kicked, the Prime(Earthling refugees with some other refugee species, none of which we're ever actually told a fucking thing about despite their supposedly being huge parts of one of the major factions in the setting) who can actually belt the Жo-Rin but then turn out to be dictatorially-minded and the Жo-Rin themselves who do evil things entirely because they're evil. Once you've read this, you largely understand the "metaplot" of the setting. It's in the specifics that things get really stupid, for instance, the Жo-Rin are a species of galactic conquerors... but a group of Kromorians in the fucking middle ages manage to defeat a Жo-Rin settlement attempt and drive them off.

This, coincidentally, also creates vampires when some idiots decide to eat Жo-Rin corpses, these vampires are just generally vampiric(about as generic as imaginable) and get recruited by the Prime as their secret police/special forces when they briefly occupy Kromore. This is a nice arrangement that lasts until the Vampires discover that the Primes, not being total fucking idiots, had made special vampire-killing gear in case their cannibalistic allies ever completely lost their shit and had to be put down.

quote:

The council discovers the Prime has hidden information about new weaponry equipment specifically designed to kill Vampires. The clash between Vampire and Prime is violent and leads to the fall out between Vampire and Prime overnight. A civil war within Kromore between Vampire and Prime leaves nearly all Vampire extinct in the year 4300 ASC. The small war opens the door for further corruption scandals to unfold within the Prime governments on Kromore.

Inexplicably, killing vampires somehow leaves the Primes open to more corruption than having a secret bunch of bloodsuckers with mind control powers as part of their oganization.


A vampire

And since we're talking about vampires, let's also talk about the H.I.V.E.. Because they're the second secret underground species haunting everyone, basically they're little bugs that mind control people by crawling inside their spine and pretending to be the host for the two to four years until the host curls up and dies, leaving the larvae looking for another host. A brief side trip into H.I.V.E. fluff is one of the first side trips the setting of Kromore does, in the middle of explaining the galaxy's geography, revealing to us that the H.I.V.E. larvae both die rapidly without a host and are capable of just chilling out on an asteroid for years while waiting to crash on a planet where they can infect someone.

quote:

The planet spawns H.I.V.E. regularly, but without host bodies nearly all of the young hive lings die shortly after birth.

...

The home world of the H.I.V.E. is known to harbor massive amounts of young larva H.I.V.E. waiting for passing rocks and ships to latch onto.

(We're also told we can play a H.I.V.E. infectee, which comes with no downsides besides requiring "intense roleplay," and just gives us a grab-bag of expensive abilities for free. We only need to switch bodies every few years.)

Also keep in mind that for every paragraph I'm writing here, the fluff section of Kromore has ten paragraphs about, say, Kromore's moons(one is blue and icy, the other is red and volcano-y), after which we get told that wormholes are dangerous and full of bad aliens, and that Kromore is 40% water and that now the book is going to tell us why the Steampunk shit is totally justified and really works!

quote:

Steam transfer technology developed out of the end of the Age of Nations movement when fossil fuels and combustion engines were placed on the side line for a cleaner steam transfer technology.

The process involves tubing shaped in a 2-part cylinder consisting of a primary (tube side) and a secondary loop (shell side) made from special super alloy metal compounds. An exhaust valve is located often on the secondary loop allowing for pressure to release in the event of pressure build up.

Except no, we're not told anything. It winds up for explaining all the steampunk shit but then instead just tells us that steampunk stuff requires a cylinder made from special super alloy metal compounds, and that it has a safety valve. Also on Kromore, batteries that are literally just containers full of highly pressurized steam which are, in this setting, more efficient than actual batteries holding an electrical charge. Then, in the usual whiplash fashion, it's a leap into a paragraph about living conditions in modern Kromore, about how they were super cramped, and also about Kromorian identification papers when Kromore was occupied by the Prime. Apparently the Primes, if I'm reading this shit right, and I'm not sure anyone can read this right, would blow up Kromorian villages if the "galactic allies"(by which I assume off-world aliens?) of Kromore did not apply for Kromorian citizenship.

...and then we reach the actual Timeline for everything, way after all these fucking incidental facts.

Timeline

The timeline is just so dull, it's literally an incredibly dispassionate recital of everyone who was ever at war with anyone, and when they were at war with them, and the occasional anomalous event thrown in. Like, a giant comet hits Kromore's moon and plunges the world into a hundred years of darkness, but that just sort of passes and the only real upset is that people get very angry at wizards afterwards for no real fucking reason, when they never had any problems with wizards before and wizards were completely unconnected to causing this. After the darkness passes, the Kromorians spend 450 years murdering the Жo-Rin who'd tried to settle their planet. This apparently happens well before the invention of the printing press, so I can only assume that these DANGEROUS GALACTIC CONQUERORS were literally defeated by swords, bows and maybe some primitive gunpowder weapons, especially since magic is still basically banned and no one's using it.

Like, this is roughly some 6000 years of history and the only noteworthy thing is the comet, the Tesck dropping off more loser species on Kromore and a bunch of savages with sticks beating up an alien species with plasma guns. Everything else is really just some permutation on "and then these guys invaded those guys and some other dudes were angry." It doesn't help that half this shit is never explained, like the STEAM METAL MEN destroy a nation by using nerve gas and the S-BOMB. What's the fucking S-Bomb? It's never been mentioned before, it's not in the armory section, it's nowhere else in the fucking document. Is it the STEAM BOMB? Did they parboil an entire fucking nation? What? Explain yourself to me, Kromore, you piece of shit.

Also now the Tesck show up and just hand over technology to people, but apparently don't seem to give a shit about all the warring and killing, and they're kind of absentee-parents considering they weren't around to give a fucking hand with clearing out the Жo-Rin or helping anyone when the planet had a hundred years without light. Somehow, floating cities are constructed before computers, not like you'd want anything to help you with all the calculations necessary to keep a fucking city afloat by whatever means you intend. Also for some reason the planet has an organized rebellion terrified of nuclear steam power(same as normal steam power, but now the STEAM BATTERIES are "charged" by nuclear reactors) and computers, also exploring space is now apparently commonplace without any mentions of space programs being initiated and the METAL MEN decide to all throw themselves into a black hole. A mysterious black hole.

It's almost a footnote that the Жo-Rin just wade in and conquer Kromore, the core location of the setting. It gets literally as much text as some minor trade treaty does earlier. Then in as much of a footnote, the Prime are introduced, showing up and saving Kromore from the Жo-Rin. They're described as "tyrannical," but this is rarely explained, except that they hate wizards and force everyone to carry an ID card. There are no great racial purges or abusive laws passed that the book ever tells us about, I guess we're just supposed to insert our own villainy for them. The metal men show up again, blow up the Tesck homeworld, turn out to have an evil virus corrupting their brains, fight everyone, get cured and then a paragraph later they jump into the black hole once more. 800 years pass without anything happening, one of the moons of Kromore turns into a pure dark void, swallowing anything that touches it, is designated a no-fly zone by the Prime, and then in the next paragraph we're told that mining on the moon(which was just a paragraph ago an all-destroying forbidden area) has unearthed a new horrific menace called the Leech.

Also the book keeps using "empirical" instead of "imperial" and it's annoying me way more than it should.

Two paragraphs ago, the Leech are described as "devouring" Жo-Rin ships alongside everyone else's, but now we're told that they're encountering the Жo-Rin for the first time and the two just casually form a symbiotic bond to become an entirely new species. The metal men return after 1600 years of being in a black hole and, despite being literally over a millennium and a half out of date, technologically, are totally helpful to the good guys by blowing up some Жo-Rin. At this point the fighting with the Жo-Rin is over 2500 years old and literally the only noteworthy thing they've done is to occupy Kromore for half a decade before the Prime booted them.

Congratulations, you're now caught up on all the notable points of Kromorian history. I.e. literally fucking nothing except that magic is now banned and we have space travel, compared to the start of the setting.

What remains of the book is mostly trivia, first there are the stats for Жo-Rin, Ancients(which can apparently just casually eat suns, why even stat something that powerful?), enemy Ferrians, enemy Gyx, enemy Zatilok(hidden deep inside a bunch of fluff rather than being with the other enemy stats), enemy vampires(the only enemies to get more than one type of stats, to account for different tiers of stats, apparently every enemy Ferrian is level 10) and enemy shadow demons(but no stats for Tesck, who only get a description, Metal Men, or so many other things we've been told exist). Next up, there's a bunch of forgettable data that largely amounts to telling us what sort of exports the various nations have during various time periods, practically nothing of any real consequence unless you really need to know that the Kingdom of Kelmoria was big on exporting hammers. There are the major religions, all of which have existed unchanged from the start point of the setting's history and then 10,000 years onwards... and that's the fucking book, really.

It doesn't make for an entertaining review despite being a frustrating read, because so many of the stupid, frustrating things are in the editing, and it's hard to really convey just how much it overreaches itself in trying to have TEN THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY and then devoting maybe five lines to fucking two thousand years of said history. And a major event like an entire species, the Metal Men, having their brains corrupted, and whatever it takes to uncorrupt them, taking up a grand total of half a page. The quest to cure an entire fucking species of a corrupting infection takes up less space than what was spent at the start of the book to tell us how to effectively railroad our players.

Fuck this book. I'm done with it.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 6
01:23pm EDT - 8/16/2015
KROMORE



THE RULES

202 pages into Kromore and we actually get to the rules in any sort of concise format. We had a "RULES BASICS" at the start that only told us how many dice to roll, and nothing else. We had some scattered stuff in the Skills section on how skill checks worked and what a given difficulty of a check was. But it's not until 202 pages in that we hit the majority of the ruleset. Just to recap what we've already been told, though, because the game doesn't do that for us even though we were introduced to them a couple hundred pages back... the basic check is a roll of STATd4+SKILLRANKS with no weirdnesses or complications, no critical successes or failures, you either beat a static number(for most checks) or an enemy's roll.

The first thing the chapter tells us is that we're gonna need a board or battlemat(informing us in the process that hex grids are vastly superior to square grids), this makes sense when we check the index and find that literally the entire rules chapter is combat, leaving the full extent of non-combat stuff as what we can do with skill checks and the few spells that aren't about throwing some variety of painful elemental energy at enemies(or summoning things to cut their faces wide open). Then we're told how to roll initiative, what a round consists of(five seconds of real time, split into three actions that we can assign as we see fit, unless we do a single thing that consumes more than one action, like some spells... and about half the list of default actions, like attacking with a two-handed weapon or just about any skill check. Some things, like putting on heavy armor, require up to nine actions, meaning that they consume a total of three full rounds). All these actions are just actions I'll note. No major, minor, free, bonus or whatever separation, removing the need to keep track of any such goofery.

In the game's defense, it's all pretty neatly organized. There's one table that contains all the default actions, you can quickly check if something provokes free attacks if done at melee range and how many actions it takes... attacking and defending is also relatively simple. Rather than having separate dodge and damage resistance, like most modern games, or having one huge dodge pool like D&D, there's just one big soak/damage resistance pool. First dodge subtracts from incoming damage, then your shield, then your armor and finally it impacts your life points. Shields and armor also have their own pools of hit points, which, when drained, mean they're coming apart and can no longer soak up anything, as well as a damage resistance stat indicating how much they can soak per round. It's a bit abstract, definitely not for anyone obsessed with verisimilitude, but it seems like it'd make combat flow pretty quickly since you're just rolling once to attack(weapon damage + Muscle or Agility + your combat bonuses), versus a static number(Dodge+Shield+Armor).

quote:

FINISHING A TARGET
A character can spend a 3 actions to kill an unconscious and immobile target with direct contact to Life Points of that target. This is a target unable to fight back. Considered a mercy killing or a murder.

Despite my moderate praise, though, the writing is still fucking awful. What does it even mean to have DIRECT CONTACT TO LIFE POINTS OF THAT TARGET? This is nothing compared to the next section which uses CRITICAL CALLED ATTACK so many times it's lost what little meaning it has, including all its permutations like "critical called area attack" and "critical call called attack." For some reason the mechanic for making targeted attacks isn't just "called attacks," it's critical called attacks. It's making me dizzy just trying to read these pages.

quote:

Any attack can deal critical damage. The amount of LP dealt in an attack to a region represents a critical hit to that region. A critical hit is a one time attack and the amount of LP taken at one time from an attack represents the devastating blow.

Sure, any attack can deal critical damage, but "critical damage" is something that only happens when you hit a specific region of someone, and you can only hit specific regions when making critical called attacks, not when just attacking normally(unless we're supposed to assume that normal attacks are critical called attacks to the torso/"body"? ...which it tells us several pages later, almost at the end of the actual combat rules). These sure are some words but fuck if they don't lose all meaning in this idiot writer's hands.

The rules for critical damage are surprisingly detailed and brutal, and reward having some sort of medic or healer in the party. Basically any attack will cause at least a temporary effect(in the case of limbs and body, most likely just a "scar" for low damage), but if you go more than 24 hours without medical treatment, a lot of them advance into becoming permanent effects(this also happens if someone completely fucks up trying to heal a temporary effect). The name is a bit of a misnomer, though, as "permanent" effects can still be cured by medicine(and for that matter, "temporary" effects aren't temporary either, they don't seem to go away with time? I can't tell). It... doesn't say whether permanent effects replace the temporary effects, or simply stack on top, but I have to assume that they stack on top, otherwise broken bones would magically heal themselves after 24 hours.

Though either way it leads to some weirdnesses, like severed heads not causing death until 24 hours later, severed limbs not bleeding until 24 hours later, gushing arteries(which you'd be lucky to survive for a couple of minutes, 1 LP lost per round, 5 seconds, between 10 and 15 LP's in most cases, critical damage causing the bleeding likely already removing the majority of your LP's... a tourniquet can solve the problem temporarily, I suppose) turning into internal bleeding. A severed arm will, 24 hours later, cause the much slower internal bleeding(1LP per hour), while a severed hand instantly causes a gushing instadeath artery(likewise losing any "appendage," defined as an eye, finger, toe, ear or "other." That's right, losing an ear will make you bleed out faster than someone lopping off your fucking arm), yet broken arms and legs also cause instant bleeding... okay there's something fucking goofy here, though I can see what the author was trying to do.

Moving on to the section about movement and facing, which is largely just common-sense stuff about when someone is considered to be facing, flanking, etc. I also have to give Kromore props for illustrating everything with diagrams. Most of it is, as said, pretty common sense, but it ensures that there's literally no doubt and everyone can follow along, even if they're relatively unused to RPG's and boardgames. It also starts to become obvious that Kromore is really envisioned as a combat-heavy boardgame, more than an actual RPG, in most cases, especially in light of all the character abilities being, in 95% of all cases, aimed towards combat uses only.

Also we don't have falling damage in Kromore. We've got SASFAFF.

quote:

Surface & Stun From A Fitness Failure(S.A.S.F.A.F.F.)

I could literally not make this up. They invented an entire custom acronym for something that fills a grand total of half a page and consists of checking how far they fell(which requires paging back to the skills chapter, and seeing what height a given difficulty of skill check for climbing fits with), then referring to the matching row for what kind of damage they take(stun or lethal), how much damage and how many rounds they'll spend stunned. Despite the dedicated mechanic name, falling is actually reasonably safe in Kromore. Most people will have 10 to 15 Life Points, and a fall of 26 to 35 feet will do 3d4 damage(3d4+3 if it's on to a hard surface), which there are good odds of surviving(though you'll probably break your legs or something). The scale also isn't open-ended, damage caps out at 6d4(+5, for a hard or jagged surface), meaning an average of 20 damage from just about any distance(no special rules for atmospheric re-entry). With armor and shields being included in soaking falling damage... just a thick suit of platemail and a tower shield could let us survive a fall from near the edge of the atmosphere.

There are also a few weirdnesses here and there in the tables, being medium or large gives you a +1 to dodge, being one step up, huge, is a +2, then down to a +1 again for gigantic, 0 for enormous and -1 for colossal. Why that arbitrary bump for Huge?

More nice attention to detail in the combat rules, though, as we're told what side effects elemental damage has(rules for ice spells locking up enemy armor by freezing it, electrical spells breaking sensitive electronics, how long fires will continue to burn, and a handy table for converting ice magic damage to how much you can freeze solid, in case you want to use ice bolts to cross a river or something). Also standard damage values for various environmental objects exploding, like fireworks, gas tanks, etc.(according to the rules, the average person in Kromore is almost guaranteed to survive a "grill propane tank" exploding right next to him unless it rolls absolutely maximum damage. Most of my understanding of exploding propane is from videogames, but shouldn't that be relatively fatal? Of course, Kromore isn't too realistic. Cars in Kromore apparently explode like in Hollywood action movies, according to the table).

quote:

When something is frozen it requires time to thaw before it is useable again.

The table includes damage values for freezing warm-blooded creatures, but doesn't specify whether PC's survive cryogenic suspension or whether it kills them outright.

The end of the chapter is half a page of rules for time travel, which summarizes as follows: First we have to leave reality, then we have to use a captured soul of a Lovecrafty "Realm" creature as a guide to drag us back in time. We cannot go forwards in time beyond where we've actually been "naturally." However, any time traveller can bring along hitchhikers, and they CAN be brought further forward than they themselves have been. Unfortunately, all "technological" items crumble in the world outside the physical universe, so we can't smuggle plasma guns into the past and set ourselves up as a techno warlord. I've no idea what they define as "technology," though.

quote:

A character who alters a previous time will cause a ripple effect that generates a new time line.

This alternate universe exists within the realms and results in another matter realm.

Kromore’s history within this text represents the original history of Kromore, but that history has the potential for parallel versions if characters change the time line. This change allows for multiple versions and histories to exist within the universe of Kromore.

Coincidentally, the chapter titled "The Kromore Universe" begins on the next page, so I guess we'll shortly find out just what the canonical Kromore is like.

Right now, though, I'm kind of disappointed that Kromore wasn't more of an amusing clusterfuck in the rules section, so I'm taking a break.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 5
01:07pm EDT - 8/16/2015
KROMORE



Because fighters don't deserve nice feats


I suspect this is not the same guy who drew all the fucking terrible character art

So, the Abilities chapter is up next after the professions. Abilities are pretty much analogous to 3E/5E Feats, except that you get a shitload more of them, right down to being broken in the same stupid ways. For instance, I can pay an ability point for a permanent +1 to Fitness rolls. Fitness is basically Athletics from most other games. Jumping, climbing, swimming and squeezing into narrow spaces. However, if I'm not retarded, that same ability point will also buy me "Cooking Persuasion," also known as "Cakes = Mind Control," which basically doubles my pre-existing bonus to Negotiation(almost guaranteed to be more than 1) towards anyone already friendly enough to accept a piece of candy from me or unaware enough to not react before I shove something in their mouth. Or I could be a wizard.

The same one skill point is also all it costs for Innate Magic abilities(one each, but still) that let me conjure up weapons and armor for free and effectively without needing to bother with any checks(unless I decided to make the world's only wizard with Down's). Or I can learn necromancy, which lets me raise undead minions. Raising a minion takes a Hard(DC 19) focus check, but there's no penalty for screwing it up, and the time consumed in the casting is less than five seconds(two actions, a round has three actions and lasts five seconds). Of course, you only control the undead servant for 1d4 hours, after which it just shambles off to eat flesh.

quote:

NEGOTIATION: Negotiation tricks auto succeed on the Zombie, Intimidations and logic negotiations always fail.

It'd be great, though, if you had an undead minion without that problem, and one that couldn't be tricked. Skeletons have the same "tries to kill everything after a few hours"-issue, plus they take a whole round to summon. Time is money, can't just waste it on something as frivolous as bony guardians. That's why you use your 1 ability point to learn how to summon ghosts instead. Ghosts never break free of control, are moderately intangible-

quote:

IMMUNITIES**: The spirit is immune to steel weapons and wooden weapons, stuns, KO, and poisons.
Interestingly enough not immune to fists or rocks

-and have an AoE stun attack that stacks. Meaning you just need enough ghosts and you can zero out anyone's combat stats, after which you just need to raise a single skeleton to go around cutting throats. Assuming we make an ULTRA WIZARD who can do NOTHING but cast magic well, back-of-the-envelope, simple min-maxing allows us to roll 6d4+6 to attempt to summon a ghost, vs a DC of 19. That's a 50+% chance of making our DC, since our ghosts need no materials to summon(aside from a "grave or burial ground," but how hard can finding a graveyard be? We just take a few minutes' walk through the nearest graveyard and we've got our ghosts for the day), and we're not working off any sort of stat pool or resource, that means we can spend all our waking hours summoning. Our only real limit to how many ghosts we can make is that we can only summon a number of ghosts equal to our SOUL stat per day, meaning we'll cap out at 6(and there's literally no way for us to not get that many per day). Hence, as soon as you've made a necromancer, time is literally the only thing standing in the way of him conquering the world at the cost of only twice as many skill points as it costs a fighter to get +1 to jumping(twice because we also need to shell out the massive price of one skill point to unlock magic in the first place).

And since two PC races, one of which is available in most time periods(metal men) and the other of which is available in all time periods(Daeadrin humans, which also get a bonus to the Focus skill used for all spellcasting) are literally immortal and unaging... time is not that big an issue. Now, in the game's defense, it does gate "Rule The World With Magic Ghosts: The Ability" behind requiring the caster to be level 10... however the storyteller section recommends roughly a level-up per session, which is also about what you'll get if you use their manual XP-handout rules, so it's not really a huge barrier. You can spend the intervening levels pumping up your Focus skill to make sure you succeed on all your ghost summons and also learning combat magic that does more damage than any weapon short of artillery, has an AoE effect, has no hit roll(even if enemies pass their save, they still take damage and get hit with status effects) and doesn't require any ammunition, unlike all the really nice fighter weapons. It also still only costs one skill point to learn.

Ultimately all the abilities fall into this. You can either get a +1 if you're a fighter or you can expend an ability point to replicate a non-wizard's abilities(and if you DO decide to pick the abilities that give you a + to the Focus skill for spellcasting... you get +1d4 or +2 instead of +1 like you'd get if you chose better Fitness rolls). Jealous of the medic? Learn healing magic. Jealous of the sneaky thief? Learn to turn yourself into a table from level 1. Remember how Sci-Priests had a "melt stuff with their bare hands"-class ability? Well get fucked, that's a spell, too. Practically every magic tree has some sort of attack spell that rapidly levels up to outclass weapons. If we're impatient for ghost supremacy, at level 6, we can summon tornadoes. Anyone who touches a tornado has to succeed at an epic(DC 24) fitness check or get sucked in, flung away and hammered for shitloads of damage. And keep in mind that anyone not as min-maxed as our wizard will be hard pressed to roll 24 on a check. As a sci-magi we also specifically get the ability to double the effect of all spells from second level onwards, in exchange for an absolutely trivial focus check.

Of course, min/maxing our caster makes us awfully fragile. So it's a good thing we can use a first-level spell to turn ourselves into solid rock so we're difficult to injure(or even a rock so no one will ever even realize we're a mage). Shame that some spells require vocal and somatic components... which we can ignore with another first-level ability, permanently. Now we just need another party member to carry us, or to learn the first-level wind spell that lets us slowly shove ourselves along. We basically only need to ever stop being an inanimate object on occasion to eat.

I could really go on. But the point is: This is some wizard supremacy on a level I've rarely seen in any fucking game.

Skills

In the game's defense, there's really nothing wrong with the basic mechanics, I like how it leaves in some degree of randomness while still providing a very sharp bell curve and a generous static modifier, so players can generally rely on their skills and attacks landing in a given region of results, but with just a bit of randomness to provide some tension. There are also a lot of helpful rules for what you can do to make sure your skills succeed, "taking 20" from 3E expanded up to pretty much any span of time you could imagine... though it seems a bit excessive that the table also includes "1 year" and "1 lifetime," and that "1 lifetime" only provides 1d4 more than a year. Though I suppose it does encourage not wasting too much time. Unlike a lot of RPG's, there's also a useful table for GM's advising them on what DC of check is usually appropriate to what level of character... and the suggestions actually aren't bad.

There are of course, some oddities that crop up. For instance, the Charm(CHA) stat is used not just to negotiate, but also for medicine and grappling. Flying a plane or riding a horse both work off of pure Agility(and the same skill...). There are a few wonky things in there, though not exactly something unforgivable, though it doesn't really salvage the fuckups in the previous chapters.



This chapter really helps hammer home that either the author or his editor did not have English as a first language, though.

quote:

Hard: Identifying a face in a crowded market street, hearing a whisper from two closed doors away, or seeing a hidden item that took a great deal of time to hide. Doing a scan of an area to find hidden people or objects without the pretense of a Story Teller asking for the check is always a Hard or higher. This form of an awareness check is often at the level of a trained investigator or a detectives observation abilities.

Also the return to Railroad City! If you try to do something without the Storyteller specifically asking you to, it automatically becomes more difficult! Choo choo!

I also find it amusing that the hacking mechanics that it took Eclipse Phase, like, ten pages to make totally confusing, even an RPG as generally confused and ineffable as Kromore manages to make more natural and more easier to work with in the span of two pages. One check to breach a network, then successive checks to increase your "security level," and a given security level gives you certain privileges, for instance, at security level 4 you can copy data off the device rather than just read it, at 5 you can delete it, at 8 you can scour a network to alter or remove someone's identity and at level 9 you can make computers explode like a Hollywood hacker. Then a few quick rules for HACKER DUELS and what happens if you fuck up your hack checks.

What I realize at this point is that if you just cut out all the non-wizard(sorry, Grifter) classes out of Kromore, I'm actually not too opposed to the system itself so far. Most of the spells are actually... reasonably fun and useful-sounding(breaking the game with ghosts aside), the only thing that kind of poisons the game is that NOT being a wizard is 18 out of 22 class options, only one of those 18 options getting any fun abilities(Grifter), and of the remaining 4, Realm magic(Sci-Magi, Sci-Priest) is vastly superior to Innate Magic(Adept, Demon Hunter), at the same cost, and Sci-Magi by far get the more fun abilities compared to the Sci-Priest, so the game really only leaves you with two options to play. The basic mechanics are relatively easy to use and the developer did a lot of work to give you benchmarks for your numbers.

Of course, there's still combat and the EXCITING SETTING DETAILS left to shit on things, but if the combat isn't somehow a total shitpile(I'm guessing it might actually not be, though I doubt it'll make physical classes worth playing)... I could actually see myself scrapping the setting, telling three or four players to roll up some Sci-Magi and letting them loose to do some damage with fireballs. I'm also largely going to skip over the Armory section except for poking at the art, since they made the ~brilliant~ decision not to explain the equipment stats in the chapter that the equipment is in. There's probably some really broken rules, but I can't tell yet, all I can identify is when something stupid in the writing or art jumps out at me, like the fact that "Disrupter" weapons are illegal but nothing explains WHY they're illegal, for instance what they DO that's illegal when other guns are not.

There's also LITERALLY no sensible organization to the order that weapons are presented in. It goes like this: Melee, thrown, bows, shotguns, pistols, steamguns, "disrupter" guns, advanced melee, rocket launchers, the "dual clip" pistol(see below), lightning guns, flintlocks(just in case you thought it was by escalating technological advancement), powder wheel, plasma, cannons, mounted guns.


On the one hand, poor art and ugly as sin, on the OTHER hand, it's steampunk without any fucking meaningless gears and goggles.


I legitimately cannot tell what this is.


Breaking new ground in retarded weapon designs!



Also, if anyone's interested, this is the DA of the guy who did all the actually awesome Kromore art: http://balaskas.deviantart.com/

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 4
06:29pm EDT - 8/15/2015
KROMORE



More Classes Professions

"Outland Professions" are basically described as adventurers, characters who travel the globe getting into fights and stealing stuff. They consist of the Privateer, Mercenary, Duelist, Grifter and "Ferrian Vanquisher." Most of them are relatively unremarkable, aside from the Grifter and the usual bizarre wording and logic that pops up in some of the abilities.

quote:

Outland Trickster: The privateer is often stuck off grid from the rest of society. The privateer learns to combat the forces of mad men, wild beast, and thieves with the power of quick thinking. As 1 action and a hard survival skill check they can render a target prone until their next turn. The privateer uses their survival skill to find a weakness in terrain, environment, or enemy gear.

Because yes, I absolutely translate "often out in the wilderness" to "knows how to trip people up." Also note that despite this being related to fighting the forces of "mad men, wild beasts and thieves," nothing prevents you from knocking over a robot or a cop with this. It also simply specifies "target," so unless something is specifically unable to be knocked prone, you can flip over tanks, giant mecha and just about anything else with it. There's also no specified range, and the fluff on how it works is delightfully vague, so potentially you can do it from across a room as long as you can come up with an excuse? Or from even farther away? I mean, the fact that you can use a "weakness in the terrain or enemy gear" that, presumably, the player gets to invent himself opens it up to just about anyone, anywhere, in any situation, as long as you know they're there.

The real star of this update, though, is the Grifter.

quote:

Grifter Charm: A grifter makes a negotiate check in combat as 1 action and gains up to 1 point of their charm attribute as a bonus to attack that chosen target until it flees or is defeated.

...

The Grift: A grifter can steal anything from a target they have declared their grifter charm on as long as the grifter is within reaching distance of the object. The grifter is not required a sneak roll to steal the object nor is the target allowed an awareness check as long as the grifter has initiated combat and succeeded their grifter charm.

So yes, we can literally steal ANYTHING from an enemy as long as we're within reaching distance and manage to "grifter charm" someone. If you wanted to be very technical, you could presumably steal someone's eyeballs or, if you rule that "distance" only considers how far you can theoretically reach, and not what's in the way, also internal organs. Also again, even without wording it to instakills, remember that we have three actions in a given round, and unless specified otherwise, anything we do defaults to requiring one action. So even if we need to use one action to close up to stealing range, we can still steal a dude's weapon and armor. By the level where we get THE GRIFT, our Grifter Charm has also been upgraded to apply to three targets at once. So we can literally disarm an entire squad of dudes in one round if we can get into melee range.

The Grifter is made even more amusing by an ability detailed in another chapter, where any class is allowed to spend points to get a "Civilian Vocation." The first rank of the Chef vocation provides:

quote:

Cooking Persuasion: A chef gains the ability to cook amazing meals that can persuade targets by allowing the Chef to make a negotiate check against their target after feeding them a meal. The negotiate gains them x2 their normal bonus to negotiation against that target.

Also note that there's no limit on how long after eating a meal that they'll be easily persuaded by you. At the most aggressive you could rule that "feeding" means you have to at least serve it to them, so you can't be the owner of a candy shop or kebab booth that eventually makes an entire city vulnerable to his Negotiate attempts. So if you use your presumably sky high, if you're going for this, Negotiate abilities to charm your way into taking over an army's field kitchen or something, moments after dinner time you can declare you're starting combat and start liberating everyone of their gear.

It also notice that it just says a meal, not even necessarily a meal that the cook himself made. The RAW for Kromore is hilariously dire.

Weirdly enough this also seems to make the Grifter a far more potent thief in combat than out of combat and in any stealth situation, and looking up the rules for Negotiation, it's basically ROLL FOR MIND CONTROL. If you get 16 or more than the target number(determined by their Charisma), you can literally convince them of anything, and there appears to be no upper limit on how high skill bonuses can go.

Duellists and Mercenaries are both dull, except that mercenaries get the weird ability to make makeshift bombs out of "a simple fuel and a hard object. (Ex. Rocks, Tin can, Battery, etc.)," and can, at higher levels, and with a decent intelligence score, guarantee that they can make makeshift bombs so fast that they can make and throw them in the same round, and still have an action to spare. A quick glance ahead in the book reveals that these bombs made out of tin cans and batteries do more damage than "plasma sniper rifles," at least by just looking at the value on the tables and without involving any skills or other modifiers. By the point he gets to do this, the Mercenary also has three NPC companions, so he could just spend all three of his turns making bombs, passing them to his companions, and having them throw them. This seems to add up to way more damage than he could ever do by actually giving them or himself weapons, and cheaper, too.

Ferrian Vanquishers are only notable for the fact that their weapon is their hair, and telling us that apparently it requires "diamond blades" to cut Ferrian hair. Why no one captures Ferrians to shave them bald and weave an impenetrable set of clothes/armor out of their hair, I don't know.

Next up are the "combat professions," listing the Battler, Warrior, Combat Artist and Brawler. Including them, we now have the: Soldier, Duellist, Mercenary, Battler, Warrior, Combat Artist and Brawler, to list the ones that are just a fighter by any other name, and that's being very generous and leaving out some. In any fucking sane RPG they'd just be the same base class/profession but with different fluff and specializations chosen by the player after first level. And there's literally no interesting fluff or detail to any of them, they're all just a tiresome blur of combat modifiers. The Battler can go berserk and the Brawler is a 3rd ed D&D Monk, that's about it. The art does seem to try to outdo itself by being fucking awful in new and exciting ways, though!



And now it's time for wizard supremacy. Sci-Magi, who are chalk wizards. Adepts, who are sorcerers. Sci-Priests, who are "soulful combat fighters." And Demon Hunters, who are dark, brooding characters that no one trusts.

Sci-Magi

In addition to getting skill boosts and abilities of their own, some of them quite rad and even, dare I say it, kinda cool, Sci-Magi also have an additional column in their level up spreadsheet that no other class does, that grants them free abilities. Any class can buy into magic abilities, but these guys, in addition to getting as much shit as everyone else, gets them for free.

quote:

Chalk: A Sci-Magi can procure 1 piece of chalk every action without the use of an action to draw the chalk, but the chalk is required carried.

...

The Sci-Magi can also create chalk as 1 action and a basic focus check out of thin air if they need to. This created chalk disappears if the caster drops it and is only useable in a spell. Often casters use both created and drawn chalk for spells.

Chalk? Well, sure. CHALK, but what can a wizard do with CHALK? Well, for starters, a Sci-Magi can crush a piece of chalk, specifically, nothing else, to have it function as a flashbang that he's immune to. Chalk is also the item needed for most sci-magi abilities, drawing sigils, etc. and since he can just make more out of thin air, he can never really be disarmed of those abilities unless he's tied up. He can also find anything non-living(easily circumvented, just tell it to find the guy's shirt instead), without needing a check, as long as he has a "crystal" to imbue with a desire to find it, then he has a magical compass for finding it.

Chalk posted:

Doorway: A Sci-Magi can use chalk to draw doorways to the other side of a wall or structure.

...

Realm Fire: As 1 action the Sci-Magi can use a medium focus check to transform a piece of chalk into a blue fire like ball of energy.

...

Invisibility Spell: Using a hard focus check and 2 actions, the Sci-Magi can turn invisible with a crushed piece of chalk in both hands. ... Attackers make epic awareness checks to discern the location of the Magi.

An "epic awareness check" requiring that someone get over 24 as a result of d4's+skill modifiers. And no, it doesn't require any check to turn invisible, just chalk, chalk that you have an infinite fucking supply of. Without chalk, the sci-magi still has telekinesis and the ability to turn any reflective surface into a portal gateway. The text specifically calls out "the surface of the ocean on a still day," and specifies that it counts as one continuous surface, which happily negates the limits on how far two surfaces can be from each other. So, you know, have fun teleporting from one continent to another as long as the weather permits.

And this isn't even getting into the fact that anyone with Realm Magic can make an infinite army of ghosts. Yes, you heard me right, we'll get to that in the Abilities chapter.

Adept

Adepts don't get as much overpowered shit as sci-magi, presumably because they're not proper wizards and hence don't deserve proper supremacy. Instead they get to make inferior lesser classes like rogues feel irrelevant.

quote:

The adept can produce basic elemental items. The items are not completely stable and deteriorate into air after a number of mins equaling the adepts SOUL attribute. Often times the adept will create a key or something they are searching for without realizing it, but then the object vanishes again in a few hours. The items created are elemental in nature and fit into the hand of the adept as a solid item with no moving parts. Example: chalk, flint, wood, soft rock, metal, coal.

Suck it, lockpickers. Also if you want to break the game, point out that there's clearly permission for organic chemistry since coal is mentioned, and that there are plenty of toxic and corrosive substances that could do notable damage even if you didn't produce more than the weight/volume of a key, and they certainly have no moving parts. This stuff also takes up only one action and with an "easy focus" check to pull off, we can do it pretty much at will.

quote:

Homeopathic Touch: The adept can identify the status of a persons thirst, hunger, core temperature, sleep, salt hunger, and LP by touching skin to skin.

Though what the fuck is a salt hunger? Like is that a term in another language that means something, but has no meaning when translated literally to English? Please. Help. But aside from making rogues irrelevant and checking if someone's cold or hungry, basically they can throw fireballs and heal themselves, that's it.

Sci-Priest

quote:

The Priest is a soulful combat fighter

The jazziest of professions, but it's hard to judge whether they suck shit or completely break the game until we get to the crafting rules, because that's literally all these guys get a bonus to: Crafting and being able to melt non-living matter with their hands. Of course since this is expressed in hit points' worth of damage to stuff rather than in some sort of narrative term or a volume of decayed matter, it's impossible to tell how much it actually matters. I tried searching the entire book and nowhere does it seem to actually list what, say, an average door has in terms of hit points, making this ability entirely pointless.

Demon Hunter

Despite being in the wizard section, this one is actually a trap choice for fools who think fighters are relevant! That is to say, literally half their abilities don't work unless the storyteller is merciful and let them fight demons on a regular basis, as said abilities require demon blood, souls, etc. to craft items from. And of course their only actual cool ability, being able to trap demon souls in equipment for bonuses, is sequestered at the very top of their levels.

Tune in next time when we check out magic and abilities and how they let us become an evil overlord as long as we've got time to waste. And of course as long as we're a wizard, we don't get to break the game if we're not a wizard.

Pop quiz for the next update: Which of these three is it possible to do with/to a zombie: Negotiation? Intimidation? Or logical debate?

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 3
06:17pm EDT - 8/15/2015
KROMORE



Humans of Kromore

So, I was mildly wrong, there are 17 human nations, six of which are restricted by era, and the remaining 11 of which have existed, apparently, for the entirety of humanity's existence on Kromore. Obviously humans are not from Kromore since only the Zatilok are natives.

quote:

The disparity of Kromorian Humans are as vast and as their Earth ancestors. Though they share a historical bond, Human’s of Kromore distinguish themselves by the Kromorian nation they hail from.

All humans share an ancestry to Earth with the exception of Daeadrin who have an unknown alien origin. A merging of Daeadrin and Humans becomes the future Kromorian races. Though both Daeadrin and Kromorian Humanoids are identical at first glance, the Daeadrin are immortal.

Hmmm, yes, I'm sure that it's entirely reasonable to simply list an "immortal" race alongside the human races. Certainly immortality would result in exactly the same culture and statistics! It actually does, and Daeadrin don't even have the highest skill bonus total or anything. I guess they spend a lot of their immortal lives doing nothing productive that they can learn from. In general the human nations are described haphazardly, sometimes we learn what wiped them out, sometimes we don't, sometimes their government style is mentioned, sometimes it's not, the only constants are average weights and heights, and what their diet largely consists of. Not sure why the latter's so important unless the book contains a detailed section on gluten and nut allergies later on.

This section also reveals that when Earth was threatened by an alien species wanting to suck it dry of resources, humanity just relocated en masse to the rest of the galaxy. Considering that humanity had the ability to just do this, apparently before this insurmountable alien foe destroyed them or enslaved them, you have to wonder why humanity hadn't spread to the rest of the galaxy before then. Earth refugee humans are also for some reason far less restrained by their culture than the other nations, just getting a pool of free skill points to assign however they want, rather than having four to six culturally pre-assigned skill points.



Also note how every single non-human species live in exactly one location, with one culture, while humans have spread everywhere. Lazy fucking writing. Also note how there's an "Outlander Human" nation, even though they're specifically described as the "humans without nations or borders." I also skipped over dozens of terrible wordings because you guys have the gist of the bad writing by now.

Professions

Note that even though the game prides itself, in its sales pitch, on not having "pre-determined classes," instead it has pre-determined professions, which are basically treated like 3.x/5e classes, you gain a new "level" every time you level up, and you can use that to continue a profession you already have, or straight up just grab a tier of a new one. The text in the book here even admits that professions "resemble the concept of 'classes'."


I do legitimately like some of the art, though. This is really well done.

Military Professions

Soldier posted:

The one in the heavy armor carrying a two handed weapon in one hand while killing you with the other. That's a Soldier.

Soldier: Continuing in the proud tradition of shitty fantasy RPG's everywhere, by and large all the soldier gets is increasing numerical bonuses to shooting/stabbing things, or using things that shoot things. It turns out that "Operate," at least by the description here(yes, we still have no skill descriptions, so while making our character we have to guess at what half these things actually benefit), is about "operating" vehicles, meaning that's yet another huge part of the lifepath chargen that only really works with post-fantasy/post-medieval stuff and... hey, wait a minute, that also kind of means Soldiers don't fit into that stuff for shit either. So much for being setting-agnostic. About the only hilarious ability Soldiers get is "Weapon Redirect." Any time an enemy within reach of the soldier fails any action, including some attacks(specifically grapples and charges), the soldier just gets to pick them up and throw them away. It doesn't even have to target the soldier, and seems to completely ignore the target's weight and size. In fact, it specifically just says "attacker," so potentially a charging tank attempting to run someone over would count, or a giant robot just trying to move past and failing some check.

In general, though, even 3.x Fighters get more options than these poor goons(well, after a couple of feats, anyway).


SOME of the art, I don't like all of it.

Medic posted:

When everything begins to spin and the room grows dark a Medic is hopefully closing in. Lofting the wounded onto their shoulders and carrying them to safety, the Medic will slap a bandage on wounds before the target can realize they are pushing them back into the fray of combat. After all, who else are they going to hide behind as the bullets come flying past.

Medic: Fuck all not-wizards, I guess. In the same way Soldiers just get +attack, all Medics get is +heal and the special ability to carry allies a very, very short distance. So unless your friend collapsed just on the other side of some handy cover, this is fucking useless.

Pilot posted:

As the rush of air blows hair wildly into the open sky and a smile breaks across their face, it's evident the Pilot is having that dream where they are flying again.

Pilot: The pilot is yet another one-trick pony, in this case "fly better, fly better, fly better." Their few abilities that break the monotony is that above a certain level, they get a Red Baron-ish renown and get to intimidate enemy pilots just by telling them that they're in the air and fucking shit up, and that they get to "Cloud Fall." I.e., if they pass their skill checks they can drop from 100' with little to no damage, of course, if they fuck up their skill checks they probably die instantly, so you can't even really rely on it. And how often are you 100' off the ground in an RPG without your friends being so as well? I guess this might save YOU, but the rest of the party is still fucked. Good luck playing a Pilot unless the entire party does or it's a solo game.

quote:

Instinctive Foresight: Shady characters are found on refueling pads, in space stations, and within and environment vehicles are brought for repairs and construction. When the pilot is first to act in a fights initiative against enemies they gain a bonus 1d4 to their first attack in their rounds turn. Any time the pilot has a better initiative than their target they gain this bonus.

I also don't know why associating with shady characters somehow gives you an attack bonus?


Banned from DeviantArt for being too shit

Officer posted:

The Officer excels at controlling a large force of men and women on the battlefield. Their leadership abilities are unmatched by any other profession. Negotiating or blasting their way through conflict, the Officer is always prepared for any battle. An Officer is available through the background origin or by Story Teller approval.

Officer: I hope you like sitting at the back of the battle with a megaphone and giving everyone boosts in combat, because that's literally all this class gets to do

Knight Agent: Finally there's the option to be a "Knight Agent," if you have high enough stats, totally not a prestige class, honest, which basically means you're a member of the Kromorian CIA. Interestingly enough, unlike the four preceding classes, they acknowledge that Knight Agents will function differently in different eras... which they accomplish by changing the gear, and not the skills. They have the ability to interrogate enemies... except they don't use it to interrogate, apparently they use it to yell at enemies in combat and scare them into lowering their defenses? Why is this ability called "interrogate" at all? They also get the ability to PASS JUDGMENT which... again has nothing to do with passing judgment in a legal sense, instead it just means that the agent now gets a huge bonus to fighting.

With this level of fighter oppression, I can't wait to see what options wizards get.

Civilian Professions

Aristocrat: Interestingly, even though we have to beg storyteller permission to become an officer if we don't get it during lifepath chargen, nothing stops us from just declaring at level-up that Bob the Officer is now in fact Bob von Schnauzer, Officer and also heir to the Schnauzer mercantile empire. Despite being described as negotiators, diplomats and fast-talkers, almost every Aristocrat skill is somehow using their charisma to better beat up people in combat by distracting them. In fact, almost EVERY fucking ability so far, for all the classes, have been for combat. I think the only exception being that Officers get a military agent network that gives them a bonus on knowledge checks. Oh and I guess Aristocrats also get a monthly allowance depending on how charismatic they are.

Dark Blade: Half these guys' skills are prefaced with the word "Dark." Dark Sneak, Dark Survival, Dark Blade Veil, etc. which is no surprise to anyone. It also takes seven levels before this EPIC ASSASSIN CLASS actually gets any special ability making them better at sneaking. All their other abilities up till that point are just combat tricks. Did I mention that this game is REALLY FOCUSING ON THE COMBAT yet?


HELLO I AM A SUBTLE ASSASSIN, PAY ME NO MIND

Shadow: The first class to get almost as many non-combat boosts/skills as combat boosts/skills, generally related to stealth and traps, and avoiding being blown up by traps. A momentous day! They also have the ability to "trick" enemies in an undefined way to remove their actions in combat, at higher levels. They can steal "two actions" from an enemy, and as I understand it, PC's and NPC's only have three actions per round. Judging by the shitty wording, they can do this once per enemy adjacent to them... but nothing seems to require them to target different enemies, and it only costs them one action... so two Shadows working together could basically stunlock up to three enemies completely, as long as they're in relatively close quarters. Resisting being "tricked" is possible, but takes a "legendary" resistance check.

Inventor: Holy shit, this class only has one ability directly focused on combat. And it only took us nine classes to get there! Their one ability focused on combat is dealing double damage to artificial enemies, an ability that is, puzzlingly, named "Bad Breath." It's also, again, one of the few classes that acknowledge different eras. For instance, apparently even in eras without electrical devices, they're able to make short-distance, radio-wave remote controls that can set off, as per the book's example, trebuchets.

quote:

In tech level settings that do not allow for electronically machinery the device works as a short wave frequency radio or trigger device that can operate a trebuchet or device to be set off.

Christ, there's another 13 classes to go, including the "Combat" class category. Yes, Combat and Military classes are, inexplicably, separate from each other. At least the final category will be the various wizard professions, Sci-Magi, Adept, Sci-Priest and Demon Hunter. They, at least, have to be able to do some shit that not everyone fucking else can do. In fact, I think it's almost entirely guaranteed, by this point, that having access to magic will mean that they get a huge swathe of things they can do while fighters and thieves can eat shit.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 2
06:10pm EDT - 8/15/2015
KROMORE



Character Creation

So in Kromore's defense, at least the character sheet doesn't look Eoris-levels of bad, but much in keeping with the rest of the writing so far, the author just cheerfully launches into everything with what I can best describe as bad pacing. The very first page of chargen is just a huge smear of mechanics and how to calculate derived attributes. Also apparently how much you can carry, drag and push is derived only from your character weight, not your Muscle stat, just the first of what I'm going to assume will be many puzzling design decisions. Chargen starts off with a "lifepath" sort of thing, where we follow a flowchart through four decisions that give us some starting bonuses, as well as helping determine our starting money.

Most of it seems relatively setting-agnostic, meaning that Kromore might at least slightly deliver on being able to function through any of its five supposed settings, though quite a few lifepath options get "piloting" and "tech," which I'm not sure how relevant would be in the "fantasy" or "medieval" settings. Also, while we've had the basic stats explained, and know what they would benefit us for, we've had no skills explained so far, so, for instance, "Operate"? What does that help us do? And of course, almost all of the lifepath bonuses are skill bonuses. Also some puzzling choices, most of the bonuses to skills are static +X bonuses, and we've been told that skill ranks are static +X's to things we do, while stats define how many D4 we roll.

But there's a "+1d4" to skills in places, does that mean that I get a RANDOM bonus for choosing this lifepath option? Or that I get another 1d4 to roll whenever I use that specific skill? This isn't explained anywhere. In general, though, the lifepath doesn't seem too badly constructed, and is followed up by assigning points to our basic stats. It's a pointbuy system and, as a first for any pointbuy system I've seen, actually lines up some suggested stat arrays for new players, as well as doing some of the basic math for the player(how many free points a given array leaves them with for the next stage of chargen. Though the terrible organization of the writing and the occasionally "I ran this through Google Translate"-tier phrasing made me confused on the actual calculations and made me think the book got some of them wrong at first.). As clumsy a first impression as Kromore gives, this is actually a nice touch, as pointbuy is something that can occasionally trip up new players.

quote:

Players should remember they will automatically receive an equal number of free abilities to their attribute score totals.

A number of free abilities EQUAL TO their attribute score totals, as it turns out. But anyway, small slip-ups aside it's time for the EXCITING RACES OF KROMORE and oh my God what's wrong with your FACE.



Hahahah, what the fuck? Is she a smurf or something? Uh, I guess we've got four colours of human, the weird fucking things from Avatar with huge noses instead of huge eyes, and dwarves.

quote:

If players decide to choose a Human race they must select which nation the Human is from. Each Human race holds grudges politically and socially against one another.

I look forward to a list of all the human nations that have existed throughout KROMORE's 10,000-year DETAILED HISTORY, cross-referenced by which ones existed simultaneously, and with each one having a detailed rundown of who they hate and who they get along with. I'm pretty sure, though, that we're just going to get, like, five nations, and two of them will have a sidenote of "Only exists during STEAMPUNK ERA" or "Blown up during SCI-FI ERA, replaced with LASER COUNTRY." And, of course, only humans avoid being a monoculture.

quote:

All races start with the bonus language of Trade. Trade is a language comprised of 100 different words, phrases, and sign language symbols used for basic means of communication.

Wait, so, there's 100 words, 100 phrases and 100 sign language symbols? Or there's 100 if you tally up all the words, phrases and sign language symbols? Because the latter's not going to let you do much communicating beyond asking where the fucking toilet is or ordering a beer.

quote:

Natural Defense applies to a characters dodge and is always constant even when the character is caught prone or disabled.

Which makes me imagine a team of commandos trying to assault a sleeping Metal Man and falling all over each other because even though he's asleep, his Natural Defense is somehow still applying to his Dodge. I don't know if +2 is a lot, but I hope so, because that would be fucking ridiculous and a little bit hilarious. Like, I could see if it was applied to armor of some sort, but dodge? Why dodge?

quote:

Natural defense for some races is higher due to the races small stature or the races thicker than normal skin.

Oh, I guess because the designer is a lazy sack of shit and went with D&D-style "armor"/defense as being a rolled-together lump of all your defensive attributes, both dodging and armor.

quote:

Due to social relations, size, and origin several races have negatives applied to them. These are not bad qualities of the race, but represent their social and physical standings in the ever changing political world of Kromore.

I like how it represents their standing in an EVER-CHANGING WORLD, but apparently over 10,000 years, the world doesn't change enough for these things to be different during different periods. Jesus fucking Christ. This is even more offensive when the game, a paragraph later, acknowledges some degree of change in that some races only exist during some periods... and of course those are all shunted off to the appendices, but include, we're told, H.I.V.E. Vampires and "realm races."

Ferrians

quote:

“Bendai khu beiz’nehet y’ Razz-I”
-Death without battle honor is Razz-I

Why fucking bother to translate it if you leave out translating a word that's core to the fucking meaning of the statement?



So the Ferrians were transported to Kromore in "the 70th century BSC" by the "Tesck" that have so far gone completely unmentioned anywhere. They live on a continent referred to as "the jungle paradise of war"(???), and they used to live on another continent, but something fucked it up so that it's now "vastly uninhabitable for sustained life." As opposed to very temporary life, I guess? Fucking hell.

quote:

The Great Metal War during the era of Steam and Steel left it destroyed after the humanoid Innate wielder inhabitants formed an alliance with the allied nations against the Kalin Parliamentary Order. Metal Men arrived and destroyed the small island continent, a destruction the land never recovered from.

Hmmm, yes, these sure are a lot of terms. Not that I give a shit what they mean. But the whole thing is basically meaningless without knowing who the fuck these people or things are, what "humanoid Innate wielders" are.

quote:

Though the Ferrian have cat like appearances in the eyes and face, they are far more human than cat despite their tails and ears which are both docked at birth.

????????????????????????????????????

Nothing about them is fucking catlike, at all. Has this person ever seen a cat?

quote:

Exiled Ferrian in their native tongue are called “Razz-I.”

So "death without battle honor is exiled Ferrian"? Aaaaaargh.

Whatever, these guys are basically Cat Orcs/Klingons. BATTLE HONOR, tattoos, live in noble savagery, can wear their SUPER HAIR as armor, don't do much with technology unless it's for war, and when they're in other cultures they're mostly mercenaries or criminal muscle.

quote:

Many Ferrian do not seek honor battling amongst the stars unless something proposes a threat to their home.

The author of this is supposedly from New York, born and raised. You wouldn't have fucking guessed it from this writing, would you? I would've guessed, like, Poland, myself. Maybe Dutch. If I quoted every single fucking awkward or downright WRONG term or phrasing, I'd be quoting the entire fucking book so far. Did you know it's possible to "miss-use" magic? I just learned that, from this book.

Metal Men



quote:

Their existence was declared a mistake after many rebelled slavery in the Order’s military. Thousands of Metal Men were dishonorably discharged into space before their existence was revealed, but thousands more managed to escape.

Hard to tell if he's making a joke or actually thinks that a "dishonorable discharge" involves throwing someone away into the ocean or space or something. But anyway, they were a magical experiment into making SUPER SOLDIERS that accidentally developed free will, like basically every super soldier project in any piece of fiction, ever. At this point it would be a surprise to have an android that actually stayed true to the spirit of its programming or an artificially created species/creature that didn't eventually eat its creator.

quote:

In addition to their immortality the Metal Men all begin life at the age of twenty seven and never age beyond it. Their previous human memories are gone,

Except I guess they used to be humans, yet no matter what, they're always 27 years of age? What if you turn a child into a metal man? Does he become huge and buff? Do old people turned into metal men become young and strong? Can you even do that? Can they reproduce in any sort of way, resulting in a horrific sudden aging of metal man babies? Apparently they're engineered not to procreate, but some "metal women" mutate to "reveal" offspring(what? WORDS MEAN THINGS). So I if all metal men are instantly 27 years of age, that's gotta result in some weird stuff when giving birth, or possibly an Alien-like explosion during procreation. Gross.

But aside from that, if new-born metal men are a rarity, and they're all functionally immortal, does that mean that the player is most likely centuries, if not millennia old, and hyper-experienced compared to every other member of the party? I guess this is just completely ignored. And mind you, if metal men don't care about aging, what about other biological necessities? Do they need food and water? Do they breathe? Maybe this would be relevant to address, considering that their description makes them sound like fucking robots(metal skin, no aging, no natural procreation, outside of mutants, have trouble with "complex emotions.")

I'd also like to point out that while the Ferrians got an entire page to themselves, all the other species basically get a single half-page column. Also for some reason only half the races(Ferrian, Metal Man, Laerish) get a quote, while the other three(Gyx, Human, Zatilok) go without.

The Gyx



The Gyx get literally no biological or sociological details shared about them. Nothing. They're just some red dudes that the "Tesck" dropped off on Kromore a couple of times over the eras and who were generally enslaved or murdered by roaming packs of xenophobes, but now they're free.

quote:

The Gyx are known deadly with a small blade due to thousands of years in servitude.

Apparently a history of being enslaved means everyone assumes you know your way around a shiv. Or that you DO know your way around a shiv. I can't tell.

Zatilok


GAH, it doesn't get any less horrifying the second time

So, the Zatilok are apparently the only true natives of KROMORE, a bunch of NOBLE SAVAGES, not to be confused with the NOBLE SAVAGERY of the Ferrians.

quote:

Though they are the oldest, the Zatilok are the least technologically advanced of all Kromorian races. They are referred to as space monkeys by Kromorians, because they are no more apt at flying than a monkey is in space. A term used negatively against Zatilok.

This also makes no sense to me. Firstly, they're pretty clearly feline-inspired. Secondly, why would monkeys have trouble in space? I mean, if anything, a semi-prehensile tail, and feet that can be used for grabbing and clinging far better than human feet might actually be an advantage in a zero-G habitat. Hell, I'm pretty sure a lot of apes and monkeys would transition to zero-G/micro-G pretty fast, faster than some humans, in fact, once they got the hang of it. But anyway, yeah, they're cats, JUST LIKE THE FERRIANS, GUYS, NOTICE HOW CATLIKE THE FERRIANS ARE, but more catlike than the Ferrians because of their "furry complexions."

Laerish



quote:

“There was a wee man named Harboro Sam, He took up some drinkin’ with main sail in hand,With nothing but hot air to sail him to land, He shored up to sailors, befriending with man,He threw down his skivvies and threw up his hands SHOVE OFF UNLESS YE DRINKIN!”


–Laerish drinking tune, unknown composer, unknown meaning.

Everything in this book has an "unknown meaning."

quote:

During the time prior to the Three Kingdoms and over the era of Three Kingdoms, Laerish lived in barbaric clan houses and sailed long ships. The Laerish of this time focused on pillage and wealth along with technological advancement.

Their inventions eventually allowed them the ability to control technological trade and after several thousand years removed their instinct and aggressive anger from their social personalities.

So the Laerish are basically honourable Irish(or Scottish? Can't tell) drunk techno-vikings. Or something. Also they've got almost no women(for some reason?). Also everyone likes the Laerish despite the fact that the Laerish used to raid everyone and now, apparently, maintain a stranglehold on high-tech trade because they're just so good at it.

Wow, Christ, this is off to a great start. I'm going to handle the humans in a separate post, because it turns out there's actually a few pages' worth of nations/human variants. Not that I expect them to be particularly inspiring, but dealing with this writing is a bit of a challenge.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 1
05:43pm EDT - 8/15/2015
Kromore Roleplaying Game!



I crack open the book and it looks reasonably organized compared to a lot. Glancing at the index, for instance, the fluff is in the back, for once, rather than forcing us to read an ill-advised novel before letting us play the game. Basics, chargen, rules and then fluff. I suppose this means we'll be frontloading all the dry stuff and saving the real laughs until the end.



Or does it? DARK BLADE, that's a profession name right out of someone's shitty fanfic.

The Adventure

No, really, that's the title of the very first chapter. It gives us the basics of what a roleplaying game, as per usual, elaborating in detail on the role of the storyteller, how to tell a good story and some suggestions that seem to encourage railroading and DMPC's to keep the PC's on track and on mission. Mostly what stands out here are the damn weird phrasings, the next one is a particularly odd one, which kind of strange given that the developer doesn't seem to have English as a second language.

is this even English? posted:

Sometimes if players choose not to get involved in a situation a great story element to develop a mistaken identity theme can occur. Use all story that occurs around players to drive back to the larger story. Every choice including inactive choice is part of a story.

...

This form of manipulation of a story is called organic story telling and will create for your players the knowledge and belief that they can actually change the course of a story simply by making a different decision.

...

Adding a third grey area of perspective will layer realism of your story creating a deeper imaginative universe.

The third line is mostly just there because the phrasing, again, seems awkward as fuck. But in general this entire chapter heavily implies that you shouldn't actually let your players affect the story, or go off on their own adventures. Keep driving them back to the "larger story" and give them the "belief" that they can change the story, which may again just be shitty phrasing, but seems to imply that they should only BELIEVE they have the power, not actually have it. Then after that, the book dropkicks us into EXAMPLE COMBAT before we've even had a look at the rules basics.

quote:

“Kromore is on the verge of total civil-war between Steam Rebels and those who favor tech advancement. This real issue lingers at the back of your head as you ride the bumpy, uncomfortable, and yet highly familiar upper D train across the exposed open track over Mavens Sky District. The sound of steel reverberate a steady cha-chunking as the train car whistles against the steam filled airy exterior. An old Mavish woman clutches her purse next to a red skinned Gyxan who has been eyeballing a gold watch hanging from the lapel of a short and whiskery Laerish. The Laerish seems to check the watch impatiently every few seconds. He is finely dressed with a small bowler hat atop his head. Also in the car are three passengers. The first passenger of our players is Steve's character, Steve please describe your character."

The example of play rolls on with, well, excessive rolling. EVERYTHING gets a roll, even for NPC's.

quote:

Player Jane: "Ut oh. I quickly yell for everyone to duck."

"Ut oh?" Have I mentioned that this thing needs the loving care of an editor? Anyway, the players are on board a train, the train gets attacked by a driveby shooting from a hovercar, lots of dice are rolled that we don't really know a damn thing about because the example of play is well before the example of rules, a guy steals a watch and runs off, and then the example ends, continuing into some advice that's mostly praising itself about how awesome the example was and how great an example it was, specifically, of all the previous advice.

quote:

As the Story Teller you can always change the outside hovering vehicle to a civil police ship that is arresting the Laerish for stealing a top secret watch,

A top secret watch. But really, there's some good advice here, like what to do when the players ignore your carefully crafted railroad to engage in something they find more interesting.

quote:

Some ways of getting stories back on the right path are by reminding the players of story goals through a third party, friendly messenger, newspaper article, television program, or deadly assassin.

...

Without involving actual enemies to hack and slash, weather and natural disasters can add realistic layers to the story, but adding in Deux-Ex- Machina (god like) moments often can make the players feel insignificant. Use your major events sparingly and only to drive the story back on track or add drama.

For instance, have the world and NPC's nag them about the main plot until you lose your temper and try to have them killed. And don't forget that Deus Ex Machina should only be used for good railroading!

quote:

When dealing with Story Telling never take the power away from a player. Don’t tell a player how their character feels, instead present them with a scenario and ask them how their character feels. This motivates role playing and a bond between player and character. It’s also a lot more fun.

Don't take away power from the players by telling them their character's emotions, allow them to properly roleplay the anguish of being trapped in an unfeeling, railroaded world where evil assassins and blizzards stop their every attempt to deviate. I mean, this isn't bad advice, it just seems kind of hilarious when it's right after all that other shit. Then the book harps on a bit about how there are rules for literally everything you could ever want to do in or outside of combat, which seems to me less of a promise, and more of a threat that no matter what we try to do, we're going to be fucking rolling for it.

quote:

Sometimes the best stories start with the simplest of concepts. Here are a few of our favorite plot hook ideas: Rescue a missing person from some villains. Explore a cave or ancient tomb. Survive a natural disaster and travel back in time to stop it from occurring. Defeat a power hungry leader who is exploiting their citizens. Track down a stolen item and the one who stole it.

Outside of Bill & Ted, I don't think I can recall many stories with time travel that I'd define as "simple." Time paradoxes and becoming your own grandpa aren't exactly GM's First Adventure.

quote:

Players will find the system easily adapts to any game setting world.

Challenge fucking accepted. Start considering what worlds you're convinced Kromore won't work for, and we'll see how it turns out. My guess is that it's going to be basically "all of them." But who knows? It sort of flows into the "basic rules" chapter which tells us literally everything except the basic fucking resolution mechanic. We get told what the stats mean, how we calculate HP, how we calculate how much we can throw, what languages we know, and so on, all sorts of stupid minutiae. The closest we get to actually getting a basic mechanic before launching us headfirst into chargen is, as far as I can parse the bad phrasing, the mechanic for skill checks, where our skill level is a static modifier, and the associated stat is the number of D4's we roll... but no one tells us what the "average" DC should be, so there's no real way of judging whether it takes 1d4 or 10d4 to make us competent at something. I mean, it even tells us what the difficulty "categories" are("basic, easy, medium, hard, epic, legendary, unimaginable, uncanny, and in some cases ungodly."), but neglects to point out what a given "difficulty" translates to in DC.

Off to a great fucking start, here. I'm expecting some fucking gems once we get into the actual chargen, and even more once we hit the fluff.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 10
06:01pm EDT - 8/12/2015
Wraeththu

I put on my Rehuna robe and hat

MAGIC



The bad art starts up again in this chapter in a rather serious way. It also starts with a metric fuckload of in-character fiction which I'm going to summarize for you all, because fuck transcribing four pages of this trash.

Basically, back in YE OLDE ANCIENT TYMES, humans were totally enlightened because they were ONE WITH NATURE, chatted with the spirits, and believed that gods, demons and elementals were behind everything that happened. Human shamans talked to these spirits, fought the bad ones, etc. What directly led to humanity's "madness and decay" was the fact that we became advanced, started believing in science and became "robotic and isolated."

Then the Wraeththu writer starts wanking off about them not knowing if they were made on purpose or just an accident or yadda yadda yadda bullshit. And apparently the only thing that stops someone from being a bitchin' wizard is that they cannot PERCEIVE THE UNIVERSE correctly, seems like as long as you can just perceive everything as being part of everything, all energy interconnected, and everything as energy, you can wizard it up by force of will. There's also an expansion on how Wraeththu telepathy lets them send messages into both past and future when they get trained enough. We're also finally told that the MAGIC FLYING HORSES are actually real, and can ride through magical wormholes.

Short glossary: Agmara(Wraeththu Mana), Magari(Wraeththu spells), Majhahn(Wraeththu ritual magic), Nayati(Wraeththu temple), Rehuna(Wraeththu wizard), Ruhan(Wraeththu wizard in plural). I'm still personally fucking wondering where they get all these stupid terms. Can anyone tell me if they're ganked from some real-world language? Because that might make SOME sense, at least if those terms were used by a culture in North America or Europe, since those are the only places the Wraeththu seem to really be from.

Also the existence of "Dark Matter" means that science cannot explain the universe, because real Magic can't in any way be measured or explained by SCIENCE! Scientists secretly suspect that Dark Matter is magic, but they just never got a chance to admit it before the Wraeththu showed up and fucked everyone over. "Unfortunately, human scientists could not tolerate the idea that ancient peoples, whom they considered primitive, could have known more than they did."

Disintegrating things can apparently also be done magically really easily since you just tap every object's internal energy to tear it apart to atoms or warp it out of reality. Which makes you wonder why the fuck any Wraeththu Wizard would ever bother with the described-as-more-complex options of blowing it up, dropping heavy objects on it or setting it on fire. Wizard Wraeththu are directly encouraged to game the system to find the cheapest and least backlashy methods of accomplishing everything. Wraeththu players shouldn't also worry about not solving everything with magic, since their very EXISTENCES are magical. Every Wraeththu is a wondrous, sparkling unicorn of enchantment. This is followed by a short monologue on how we should just flip off technology and embrace wizardry instead, replacing guns with fireballs and computers with magical memory crystals.

Pretty much every paragraph includes or ends with a bit about how science can go get fucked because magic is the real power. More rarely there are also bits about how religion can equally go get fucked because having rules for how things work or believing in cause and effect makes you a worse wizard.

Science posted:

Science, in a human sense, has had its time. Its tools have either been abandoned or broken, and the more rigid of its views have been rejected by the majority of hara.

...

With the influx of magical knowledge, the unknown now has a framework for explanations about how the universe functions, and scientific facts aren't as cut and dried as they were. New theories and ideas are showing themselves and the mysterious of Dark Matter will be explained.

Don't ask me why the fucking obsession with Dark Matter. This chapter is also, oddly enough, where we have Wraeththu morality explained. Basically it's generic subjective morality where no specific acts are evil, it all depends on circumstances and intent, yadda yadda. There's also another fresh glossary about all the goddamn goofy magical accoutrements Wraeththu wizards us. Vakei, WIZARD DAGGERS with MAGICAL CRYSTALS. Shayyai, WIZARD BOWLS, that are very boring. Naqi, WIZARD DAGGERS that you use for the whole Bishie Herpes transferral process. Nayati, as mentioned, is the local WIZARD HUT or stone circle or where ever.

Sidebar: "Aruna plays a big part in the novels, so should not be ignored in this game." Hoo boy.

Aruna or Sex Magic: Alright, so it starts out by recapping that every Wraeththu has their wacky fucked up genitals and can get up to whatever craziness they like. Oh also that boning can be a MAGICAL RITUAL that affects reality. Also contradicting the very first thing I posted about this RPG, this bit also says it would be inappropriate to roleplay the dickings.

Then there's a bit of bullshit about "blah blah blah we're ripping off Paradox and vulgar/subtle magic from oMage blah blah blah we're unoriginal fuckfaces." And then we hit another gold mine:

Human Magic

To summarize! Humans cannot do magic right because we are selfish, afraid and do the whole Dogma thing where we try to systematize stuff and understand it(shades of In Dark Alleys! Hello!). Yet at the same time, apparently most humans believed in Miracles but hated Magic. Aren't Miracles basically stuff that's accepted as inexplicable bullshit from some Other Force? Stuff that cannot be set into a system or explained? So would that not make that... not-Wraeththu's-definition-of-Dogma? But anyway, we could totally have saved ourselves from destruction if we had learned how to throw fireballs and disintegrate stuff.

The few humans who figured out their WIZARDLY POWERS got locked up for being crazy or burned at the stake. So basically we can blame THE CHURCH and THE MAN for us not being awesome wizards.

(PS for those reading along: After noting all this science-hating stuff, please note that Wraeththu's spirituality and magic has been marketed as a real "spiritualism" that has been gobbled up by thousands upon thousands of Wraeththu fans! You may know some of these people!)


I told you there'd be more bad art

True Magic

Alright so, having awesome brains and an "androgynous spiritual being" is what allows Wraeththu to tap into magic that humans can't ever hope to approach. This follows a goofy-ass pseudo-alchemical system of elements and states. Air magic covers anything gaseous, including oxygens and chemical weapons. One example use is specifically creating more gaseous oxygen, so I can't see why you'd be barred from filling someone's lungs with sarin gas.

Earth magic, mysteriously enough, requires Strength as its major stat(it was Intelligence for Air), so I guess we have MUSCLE WIZARDS in the house, Earth magic includes manipulating and creating everything solid and radioactive. Hello Wizard Nukes. Fire is Dexterity and is heat, flames and anything combustible. And if these terms seem VERY EASILY ABUSED, then note that the intro text for this bit specifically says that what fits into which category is personal and basically up to how a given Wraeththu defines it.

Water is Willpower and is, predictably, creating and manipulating any liquid. Any liquid, I'm personally not seeing how this prevents us from gaming the system by creating liquid versions of normally-solid materials. Hello raining molten iron on assholes I don't like. For anything that isn't water, we need a "knowledge of their structure and effect." So some high school chemistry classes or a pre-apocalyptic chem textbook is all we need to fuck everyone over forever.

The four "spiritual" elements are Spirit(minds, basically), Kinetic(literally kinetic energy, yes, yes, this is going to be amazingly broken since the description of magic so far has left nothing to prevent us from accelerating someone's heart out of their ribcage at ridiculous speeds), Attraction(Gravity and magnetism. Make your own conclusions about how to break the world) and Plasmatic(The "miscellaneous" category for everything not already covered. The example given is basically electrical power and creating enough heat energy to weld things together).

Four "states" that can be fucked with, Temporal(yep, TIME MAGIC, time travel is specifically mentioned as an option), Phase(the odds of something happening, teleportation, stepping into other worlds), Destruction(fucking shit up, oh and it can be combined with Temporal/Spirit to completely delete someone from reality, not just exploding them like a Fallout critical hit) and Conversion(basically alchemy, we cannot change complex things into other complex things, but we can change lead into gold, that sort of thing).

It also took me a solid ten minutes to find the hidden paragraph that actually describes how magic works. It's another skill check, but they decided that nothing relevant to it should actually be in the RULES chapter, and the actual RULES for magic should be something like a literal fifty pages into the Magic chapter after shitloads of fluff. Did I mention that the magic parts during chargen will make NO FUCKING SENSE without having paged 150 pages ahead and reading the Magic chapter?

Gods & Goddesses: Wraeththu still have religion but it's ENLIGHTENED RELIGION with an androgynous, hermaphroditic God.

Then there's like a dozen fucking pages about the INCREDIBLY DULL tribal wizard levels and castes. Skipping that because my patience with this pile of shit has gotten worn kind of thin. And then MAGIC RULES. Which inform us that we can completely skirt someone's resistance to being fucked over by magic by, for instance, making molten iron above their head rather than in their lungs. This also lists how we can completely break this thing. Instead of limiting us to a few handy spells, the system determines what we can do by saying: "You can effect X volume/weight." Even a beginning Air/Fire wizard can affect a cubic meter(of nerve gas or pure burning), Earth is a bit more limited with a maximum of a kilogram(so what can we do with a kilogram of refined uranium?) and water gets 1 liter of any given liquid. And that's at the VERY LOWEST levels of knowing anything about this stuff, we could easily start at twice as much as these, and after a while we get exponential gains(level 1 is 1, level 3 is 4, level 6 is 32 and level 10 is 512).

Plasmatic gets a single kiloJoule, Kinetic and Attraction get 1 km/h/kg(a tad wimpier than the others, though if we find a small enough object we can hurl it at bullet speeds or better), Temporal is in days, and Phase and Spirit don't get units(though Spirit is suggested as defined number of souls/minds affectable at once). Instead they're defined by Storyteller Handwavium. Oh and for the record this is how much effect we can have not at any one given time, but every five seconds. Oh and if we want to have a big effect all at once, we can basically do a DBZ-style power-up and just focus our ability until we're hammering away at a higher scale at once. So for instance if we just sit around and pour Agmara into a single effect for a while we can hurl a truck across the sky.

Sure, this eats up Agmara, but we're talking something like 2 or 3 Agmara(of our starting 45, up to 450 if we've chilled out for a while), for every liter/kilo/cubic meter/day/soul/kilojoule/kph we want to affect. Oh and we can apparently perform human/animal/Wraeththu sacrifices and chain up their souls as magic batteries if we want to break the rules even harder, and we don't even need WILLING sacrifices! Awesome. Like just a given animal would be another 50 Agmara points, meaning say another 50 cubic meters of whatever gas we want. And the worst these unwilling victims can do is literally to make annoying sounds at us while we're tapping their energy.

Now, you might be wondering, what about the knockoff-Paradox effects? Well, it's like this, something as vulgar as(the book's actual example), shooting fire at someone from your fucking eyes incurs one point of "Probability." Up to 6 points or so won't really do any real harm, at worst we'll get -10 or -15 to one or two actions and be slightly unfortunate until then. Once that disadvantage actually incurs, we burn off a point of Probability instantly. But you know what? We can do better: As long as any magic we do is RITUAL, rather than spur-of-the-moment, it never incurs any Probability. So yeah, as long as we take a couple of hours to launch an artillery-like barrage of old cars at a nearby fortress with Kinetic and Earth power, we can do it with impunity. Bang off for a few drinks to chill out and recover Agmara, then show up, spend an hour making a car out of pure TNT and then hurl that at the enemy fort.

So yeah, another thing they FUCKED UP INCREDIBLY. And you know what? That basically finishes Wraeththu. There's one last appendix, basically a single pre-made adventure and GM'ing advice, but it's really fucking boring.
Thanks for putting up with this misery.

Stupid names for the final chapter: Myth, Twitch, Blackrose

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 9
05:52pm EDT - 8/12/2015
Wraeththu

Some of these rules are not 100% realistic

Rules

Alright, now let's figure out how the fuck we play this game. This chapter starts with four rules beyond the rules, basically rules on how to run a game without it being unfun.

Rule #1: "The Rule of What If and But!"
For Players: You're not allowed to argue with the Storyteller.
For Storytellers: Don't rule with an iron hand.

Rule #2: "The Rule of Common Sense"
Unless the numbers say otherwise, everything functions like it does in the real world. Apparently this game relies on the Storyteller to have some "common sense" and "insight into the world." I think that if he did, he'd have strangled the first asshole who suggested that they actually play this fucking game.

Rule #3: The Rule of Rules
Don't use all the rules, all the time, unless it'd make the game more fun.

Rule #4: Always Make Sure Your Players Love Their Characters
Help the players make cool characters, even if it means breaking the chargen rules ever so slightly. If your players get to have characters they enjoy, they'll actually want to hang around and play the game.

Ultimately nothing too odious and, honestly, the basic system isn't that bad. As we've already seen, it's a simple D20-rollunder system with a "who has the better margin of success" for opposed rolls. Even the combat probably wouldn't be too bad if they actually bothered to have an editor go over it and remind them to actually add in all the rules.

Another nice thing Wraeththu does is that it provides a huge, two-page table(I know, tables are usually bad, but stay with me, here) listing shitloads of common modifiers. Along the horizontal you have what the modifier is based on(like how familiar the character is with what he's doing, what the environment is like, distractions, combat stances, etc.) and along the vertical you have the extent of it. For instance, +10 in the "Situational Familiarity" Column is "an everyday task with which a character is very familiar." And +2 is "an action or task the character has performed only a few times in their life."

-2 for Environmental Conditions is "character is kind of uncomfortable due to heat/cold/something else," and -10 is "the temperature is so extreme the character is in pain or danger. Local objects could be flying around in the wind." I could think of a dozen situations where I as a GM could have used a table like this to flip over to in D&D, BESM or some other system, just so I had a good idea of what sort of modifier I should apply. At least when I was first finding my legs as a GM. So, actually, props to Ray-Thoo for this one.

It also turns out that psychic abilities and magic are actually two different things. Everyone it seems has PSYCHIC POWERS, while magic is only for Wizard Flowerdicks. The book reminds us that the things any Wraeththu can do are Telepathy(which apparently some humans can also do!), Thermokinesis and Healing. Telepathy does what it sounds like, no psychic warfare, just talking to others with miiiiind poooowers. Thermokinesis allows us to, as an average Wraeththu, heat or cool any object by 26 to 60 degrees centigrade. It only has 10cm range, though, and living things get a roll to resist it, so at first glance it seems like we can't be a Wraeththu Hitman who sneaks up on people and freezes their brains to lumps of ice by tapping them on the head.

After cracking the numbers, however, this seems like it's a lot easier than it might at first appear to be. See, Magic Resistance is basically (STAM mod + WILL mod)/2. At the human average(10), there are no modifiers for either, meaning that the only chance of someone not being brain-iced is if we fuck up our roll. So how much damage CAN we do? For each Agmara(mana) point, we can affect 1 kilogram of matter. ANY matter. Our starting Agmara is our weight in kilos/2, and our maximum Agmara is ten times that. We're of course going to be as ridiculously tall as possible, because we're powergaming, meaning a weight of approximately 90 kilos.

If we're completely fuelled up with MAGICAL ENERGY and ready to rock, we can then freeze 450 kilos of matter. At chargen, assuming it's not already warmer than 60 degrees centigrade. We regenerate a point per minute when awake, and two points when asleep, when meditating it's 4 points an hour. So it's not like we need to be CAREFUL with this stuff. The one obstacle is that it takes some time to wind up, so for every second we can only add another 1 kilo to the burn/freeze area(or 1 liter). The actual temperature change seems to happen instantly over the course of these 5 seconds, however.

I'm sure some biologists, physicists or chemists can enlighten me on the effects of heating/cooling a kilo of living creature or physical object by 60 degrees in the span of five seconds, especially since we can bypass any skin or surface layers. How would YOU break reality if you could do this? Oh and presumably boiling or freezing someone's brain/heart is instakill since there are no specific rules for how much damage it does and the start of the chapter says to use "common sense" and reality's rules for things we are not specifically told to roll for!

Healing, by comparison, is remarkably non-broken, and actually, gasp, acknowledges that genuine medical knowledge helps with being a healing wizard!

We've already gone over the shittily written combat system before, so I'm not going to dig into that again. Beyond the Morass of Combat there are tables. These tables are... suspect, because they insist that the average person(10 Strength) can lift 236 kilos. This emerges from the calculation of STR x 23.6 for lifting. It seems an oddly specific number, what with the .6, so I wonder what the hell the source of it is. Though I'm pretty sure this means that we can literally yank the floor out from under most enemies. What we can actually carry for extended periods of time is more sane, though, being only 20 kilos or so for the average person. There may also be some fuckery with the basic running speeds, I'm having trouble finding the definition of how long a "Phase" is, but if it's around a few seconds, the average person may be able to give Usain Bolt a run(literally) for his money.


Just when you thought I was going to let a post pass by without any shitty art

In the end the Rules chapter isn't too stupid. Something tells me that'll change next post, though, when we hit... The Magic chapter!

This chapter's stupid names: Wraith, Dustspinner, Binding-rocks, Muffy

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 8
05:45pm EDT - 8/12/2015
Wraeththu

Randomly generated Ray-Thoo

Chargen

Alright, so, before we continue, let's prod at the numbers a bit. Ignoring stats for the moment, we've got skills. On average probably around 60. Since it appears to be assumed that most people are going to swing around melee weapons, we'll need both a style and a specialization. Let's say we go Swords(Big Ones) with the style Two-Handed. Since everything's roll-under, anything under 10 is rather dire, and we can probably assume that a 50% chance to succeed is what we'll want to be able to rely on a skill.

This leaves us with 20 points burnt on being able to fight with even just one kind of weapon, and 4 skills beyond that which we can actually be competent at. Our stats are unlikely to ever give us more than a +2(barring an unreasonably generous GM, points-wise), so this means we get to do four things and swing one weapon. So much for Wraeththu being vastly superior to humans.

Past that little look at what the numbers actually mean, we get the usual derived stats, Energy, Composure and Psyche. How long we can walk, how easily we lose our shit and freak out, and how much PSYCHIC MANA we have. And then MAGIC! Complete with pseudo-philosophical ramblings!

Chaos and Order posted:

For example, a piece of paper and a house brick represent significant amounts of order. The shape of a wild tree, or the way fire dances, reflects the actions of Chaos.

Magic's split up into three general schools, Elemental(Fire, Earth, Air and Water), Energy(Spirit, Kinetic, Attraction, Plasmatic) and Changing States(Temporal, Phase, Destruction, Conversion). The Chaos & Order stuff seems to be a pseudo-Paradox thing, where fucking around too much with THE BALANCE OF THE UNIVERSE gets your ass kicked by reality itself. We are then told NOTHING AT ALL about how magic works, instead being pointed 100 pages further ahead if we want to know(yes, really handy to generate characters based on principles that are still 100 pages off) and dumped into Equipment and Hit Points.

The Hit Points actually follow a sane system, a sort of merger of White Wolf's health levels and hit points. You've got a buffer zone of "Minor Wounds"(Hit Points) that you can lose without being much more than in pain, and then you've got your final Major Wounds that require medical attention to fix, as you progress through piles of Major Wounds towards death, you start getting severe penalties to Doing Stuff. Every 10 Minor Wounds suffered also punches right through the buffer to deal a single Major Wound.

Generally the editing and organization are also alright for this part, usually things are in sensible locations and there are plenty of summations of most things, saving you having to dig through twenty paragraphs of flowery text looking for the calculations for, for instance, how many hit points you have.

Once we actually get to skill descriptions, though, there are some oddities. For instance, BLACKsmithing and WEAPON smithing are filed under brute strength, while ARMOR smithing requires dexterity and Mechanical Repair is also a BRUTE STRENGTH skill, you'd figure that fixing precision things that need to interlock well and etc. would require, again, either finesse or intellect.

In one of the rare occasions where I'll praise Wraeththu, it rewards picking non-combat skills by having some of them have skill synergies with combat, like being an epic-level butcher also granting you advantages with melee combat. Still no charisma-analogue, instead its role is split between willpower, intelligence and perception, meaning that everyone should be able to participate in social interaction, rather than having to choose between being good at socializing or good at fighting/thinking.

On the subject of combat skills, I still really don't quite understand why the various 1-handed and etc. styles are there at all, it seems like a pointless complication to split up how many hands you know how to use a sword with, rather than just saying you know how to use a fucking sword. I'm going to flip ahead to the COMBAT chapter real quick and see if they describe it any better...

Combat!

This is where I get completely confused, as nowhere does it seem to describe how you actually fucking ATTACK someone. Instead it goes completely obsessive about describing their weird-ass initiative system where every round consists of five sub-rounds and there are all sort of goddamn mechanics relating to what negates further sub-round actions that make me want to just go pick up my D10's and play Exalted, because it has a combat system that's better thought-out and written.

It seems like there might be a fun and tactical system here, but I can't parse it. I really cannot fucking figure it out. Even between the efforts of TWO chapters on combat mechanics, I still can't, for instance, find out how basic stuff like dodging works. It literally lists it nowhere, and just assuming that "dodging" is another skill roll doesn't seem sensible, because the way its calculated leaves it at a rock-bottom bonus, even on the pre-made character sheets, meaning that it'd never actually succeed.



There are a shitload of small-and-optional rules about encumbrance, armor weight and hit locations. The hit locations are split up into twelve "quadrants" of the body(yes, you read that right, TWELVE. QUADRANTS. The writer did not know what "quadrant" meant.), complete with different percentages of hit-chance depending on whether you're attacking someone from the back or the side. It looks like there are options for going full ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER with this shit if you want. Complete with specific rules for cranial trauma.

Each "combat phase" is split into five "slices," and you can act in more or less of these depending on your weapon and personal speed. If you only have 1 action, for instance, you only get to act in the third of five "slices," but if you have six actions you get to act in all five AND have a sixth "interrupt"/"spare" action that you can throw around at any time, for instance to block, roll, dodge or do some crazy bullshit.
Chargen, resumed

Then there's a list of MERITS & FLAWS, which some RPG's seem contractually obligated to include, whether they're a good idea or not. They're split into the sections of HUMANS ONLY, ones that can survive the crossover from human to RAYTHOO and ones that are only for the Wraeththu. Here we learn that Wraeththu cannot be blind, fat or have brittle bones. Sexual fetishes are apparently NOT destroyed by the crossover(it's a flaw), so sucks to be you if you have a fetish that doesn't work with a flowerdong!

Also, being a foot shorter than average is worth the same amount of flaw points as being addicted to drugs, just thought I'd point that out. To be fair, being shorter does, if I recall correctly, lower your total WIZARDRY POINTS, so I guess midgets can't be magical.

In general, though, the Merits & Flaws list isn't too bad, and largely sticks to PHYSICAL ones, meaning that there are few of those social/psychological merits/flaws that are so easily gamed for cheap points in other games.

And with that, we've passed the chapter that allows us to make a character. Keep in mind, though, if I hadn't paged ahead, I would literally have had nooooo fucking clue what any of these numbers meant in play! Good editing! Anyway, after this is RULES and MAGIC, those are the last two major sections. I really don't expect them to be all that horrifying. Rules I'll probably breeze through next post, but Magic might have a bunch of hilarious misogyny, racism and absurd assumptions about human psychology.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 7
05:25pm EDT - 8/12/2015
Wraeththu

Roll for Soume-Lam circumference

Also known as...

Character Generation

That's right! 159 pages into the book and we reach the first thing that has ANY relation to the rules whatsoever! And right off the bat we're informed what system we're using, it's called... The Storm System. At least they picked a pretty bitchin' name for it.

So let's take it as the text informs us about it. Everything is on a scale of 1 to 20, and 20 is the maximum human limit, while Wraeththu have no limits on anything whatsoever. 'cept... apparently... there IS an upper limit, but the Wraeththu just don't know it? And if they don't know it, apparently they can just completely ignore it? Goddammit! And then they completely ignore the system, so, just so we can actually UNDERSTAND this fucking chapter, I'm jumping ahead to page... 239 to see what the basic mechanic is.

It seems like what we've got is a basic D20 roll-under mechanic. For opposed rolls, both sides try to roll under the relevant number, and whoever rolls the farthest under theirs(for instance, rolling a 3 when your number is 10, is better than rolling a 14 when your number is 15) succeeds. Critical failures/successes are reversed from D&D, predictably, so we want 1's and hate 20's.

Now back to chargen!

Background: This is the part where you decide who your character actually IS. None of this affects the system, but there are some pre-made questions to help you(this is actually a nice idea that more systems could benefit from) and some sidebars! For instance...

quote:

This game can be enjoyed just as much if you play a group of humans battling against the Wraeththu. Although such characters are essentially doomed either to die or one day be incepted, you can at least explore the world as a character perceived as the enemy.

Not sure if this means all humans fighting the RAY THOO are fucked due to being inferior or whether this is just a reference to the fact that humans definitely age while RAY THOO sort-of-maybe-kinda-don't.

For the humans, and for the human part of any Wraeththu's life, here are the relevant questions.

quote:

What did your character do at school, college? Did your character have a part-time job, or were they in full-time work? Was your character a member of any subcultures? Did your character take a specific educational path? What was your character's family life like? Did your character travel much or stay at home? How did your character hear about the Wraeththu?

So all in all, nothing too fucked up. Decide what he did, where he came from, what he liked, what he hated, whether he knows the world or if he's been sheltered from day one. Also here we actually get to see some sidebar quotes from the recently-Incepted, suggesting that the Wraeththu might just NOT be the height of intellectual perfection compared to humanity...

quote:

Can I change my name to Merlin? -Quote from a recently-incepted Sulh(PurpleXVI's Note: Those being the MAJYCKAL BRITISH WRAETHTHU)

And then, questions about the Inception.

quote:

Why did your character become har? Were any of your character's friends and relatives incepted? Into which tribe was your character incepted? Did your character know what to expect or was ti all new to him? Did your character have any strange experiences during the Inception? Did your character dream, and if so, how did these dreams affect them? When your character's body had fully changed and he awoke, what did he feel? With whom did your character have his first aruna, and was the experience positive or negative? Now that the character is no longer human, does he feel bound by humanity's laws?

Again, none of this is particularly odd, though it all basically pares down to two important questions: Was the Inception traumatic, horrifying and against your will? And what tribe did this to you? The sidebar quotes also start getting more obnoxious, descending into Fishmalkitude.

quote:

Peanuts! Don't mention peanuts near me. When you live with Chinchillas, peanuts become the bane of your life." -Calambus Mint

I mean seriously!

Anyway, finally there are two last categories of question, which I can't be fucked to transcribe. First Days(after Inception): "Who did you make friends with, who did you piss off, what did you do?" and Future: "What are your motivations?"

And then, SUDDENLY, huge side-section! "Women And Inception."

Kamagrians

quote:

In the world of the Wraeththu, women seem to get rather a raw deal. It appears they are unable to become Hara, and the Hara claim the best and brightest men to become like them. Women who wish to play characters in the world of Wraeththu may feel this is rather off-putting. After all, a Wraeththu character is neither male nor female(and yet in some ways both). Almost all Wraeththu have begun their lives as men and see the world initially from a male perspective. A Wraeththu is essentially a male character coming to terms with their new female nature, so women may find it unfair they cannot play a female character coming to terms with their male aspect.

Also apparently they're all Asians who live in the FAR EAST as part of tribe Zigane. The book also suggests that the character could just be a SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE who was incepted by normal Wraeththu(trying it for the 1000th time, just in case the other 999 dead women were a fluke) and yet it somehow worked. They turn into androgynous man-likes anyway, though, instead of masculine lady-ish things.

The alternative for women wanting to play female characters is to play a female human. "Female humans have far more potential as player characters than their male counterparts." Also apparently women are far less terrified of Wraeththu(well, okay, probably because Wraeththu blood doesn't make their genitals turn into horrifying monstrosities), and can totally get along with them far better than men. So you could be a lady hanging out with the ladyguys. "Women tend to be less physical in their attempts to fight the future." Then the book backpedals and says BUT, UH, YOU CAN TOTALLY PICK UP A GUN AS A LADY ANYWAY.

Oh and then comes the rape!

quote:

Human males are usually the ones trying to fight the Wraeththu, but women seem to be ignored by them. When the world starts to fall apart, might becomes the only justice. With women being physically unable to dominate men, they fall prey to man's desperation. They are often kept hidden away for safety and sometimes used as little more than breeding stock to replace those that the Wraeththu have taken. Taking this to an extreme, "rape gangs" may stalk the cities trying to ensure every woman is pregnant in a desperate and horrifying attempt to repopulate the human race.

As the physically weaker members of society, many women are forced back into the kitchen to do as they are told. With this climate, it is small wonder that many turn to Wraeththu society, running for the ironic safe haven of a Wraeththu city, happy to be rid of men. The Hara are happy to leave them alone, as women are of no interest to them as either mates or slaves. They also know women want nothing from them, they neither beg to be incepted or resort to violence as easily as men. So the Wraeththu are happy to treat them as individuals and trade and work with them as required. In fact, with Wraeththu being originally male, many may turn to women to help them deal with their newly awoken feminine side. Who else in the world is there to council the Hara about the new aspects of themselves?

The potential is already there; in today's society many women find close friendships with gay men, so why not with the Wraeththu? To a woman, Wraeththu may well seem to be perfect men. They are strong and powerful, as well as deeply attractive, with all that power tempered by a sensitive feminine aspect. It would not be surprising for many women to fall in love with a Hara, even when she knows that love can never be returned. However, in its place can often form a bond of love dependant not on sex or lust. Aruna for a Wraeththu is not only something reserved for those they love. So it follows that Aruna need not be an essential ingredient for any loving relationship as well. In such a way, a Wraeththu could easily come to a non-sexual but still loving relationship with a woman. Such a relationship would make them perfect adventuring companions.

Yeah, just read that. Think about it for a moment, and in the meantime I'm going to take this as a chance to sneak back into the crunchy parts of chargen.

Traits: Traits are basically more fluffy character generation stuff. The only crunchy part is the selection of tribe. Also it has a list of selected names that heavily added to the "dumb fucking names in this chapter"-list at the end of the post.

Physical Attributes: It starts out with some stuff about height and weight, apparently all Wraeththu are mass-produced when it comes to physical traits, as a given height will always result in approximately the same weight. You also want to be as HUGE as possible as apparently heavier Wraeththu can store more MAGICAL ENERGY.

Statistics: Interestingly enough, while we have physical and mental stats(STR, DEX, STAM, PER, WILL, INT) we have no social stats. For a setting which supposedly puts so much focus on mentally, seduction and social/sexual interaction, you'd think it'd have something like Exalted's social combat, or at least a Diplomacy skill. Still, I suppose that could be folded in under Intelligence, we shall see! All the stats have a little descriptive "fluff" paragraph which chronicle the adventures of Dag, Mint & Zip, terminally drunk Uigenna on a beer run. It's not exactly well-written, but it's a nice change from the overly dramatic examples you get in some books. As mentioned before, the human scale is 1 to 20, all stats start at a base of 4, then we roll 6d6, each die presents us with a number we can add to one stat, and finally we get 10 free points. And the starting limit in anything is 15(unless, the book says, we can sweet-talk our GM into removing that limit). So far nothing seems particularly fucked up or hard to follow.

There's XP(Development points), Merits & Flaws(not listed yet), Resources(your funds and equipment, this is NOT decided by stats or points, but entirely by your background, so the more Sue you write it, the more sweet gear you get!).

And finally...

Skills: As far as I can tell, you can end up rolling against EITHER a skill OR a stat, not the two added together, as in many systems. But each skill also has two associated stats, and those stat gives it a bonus or penalty(from -2 to +5, for the 1 to 20 range, you average the two stats to find where on the scale they lie). Your total skill points are dependant on minor boosts from Intelligence and Perception(at 15, your max starting, they'd give you a total of +6, with both at 20 it'd be a +15), +2d6 and finally a flat +45. The game promises a list of skills soon, soon! Just like it promises a list of Merits & Flaws soon, soon!

Combat Skills: Yeah, weirdly enough, combat skills are not normal skills, and they DON'T get stat bonuses? Except then the text backpedals less than a line later and says they DO get bonuses, just not bonuses for specific skills, instead you get general boosts to ranged and melee combat. You also need to specialize in EVERY damn weapon you use. "Pistol" is not just "pistol," you apparently need to specifically specialize in DESERT EAGLES or GLOCK 9MM or something. I'm sure a gun nerd can tell me whether this is completely irrational or not(I am suspecting that it kind of is). Oh, reading a bit down, it seems DESERT EAGLE is the specific example for the fucking Pistol skill. Goddammit.

So, to recap what the book says... you get your Base Combat Modifier to all weapons for which you have the relevant style(for instance, all pistols), but you only get a further skill bonus if are actually using your specialization: DESERT EAGLE. Except on top of this, there are also FIGHTING STYLES? I'm getting completely lost in this fucking text. Apparently, a ONE-HANDED fighting style, would only apply to the KATANA that the example character(AGROTH) is specialized in, not a broad sword. But you still need to have 10 in the STYLE to have 10 in the SPECIALIZATION. Also fixing your weapons is a COMBAT SKILL instead of a normal skill. I think, from re-reading it, that in addition to skill with the weapon itself... (Broad category: SWORDS. Specialization: KATANA.) you also need a combat style for what you want to DO with the weapon(like 1-handed or 2-handed for melee weapons). Styles also represent your maximum for other skills, if you have 2-handed at 12, for instance, and no other melee style, you cannot have any melee weapon skill above 12. There are no styles for ranged combat, so ranged combat dudes totally get it all cheaper, it would seem.

But it's fair! Because "anyone can pick up a gun and pull the trigger"(then what about bows, jackass? I thought tech was mostly falling apart in this post-apoc world!), while swords are apparently some sort of NOBLE ART that require years upon years of mastering, unlike dishonourable guns.

This is totally stupid and I'm putting the book down for now as it starts preaching on about how this system is for REALISM.

New stupid names for this chapter: Essence, Seraph, Crimson, Lynx, Tiamat, Shiva, Antarax, Foxhawk, Silver, Gorlagon, Blackfern, Thoth, Zap, Nubia.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 6
04:35pm EDT - 8/11/2015
Wraeththu



It's pronounced "Ray-Thoo"



Note: While I'm not going to show it off, I'd just like to point out that this section has quite a few "shitty editing" errors that even a basic spellchecker should have picked up, such as "soldier" becoming "solider." So much for production values.



Gelaming







My mind keeps wanting to read their name as "Gleaming," am I the only one? Anyway, these particular prettyboys have a country in the Balkans named Almagabra, which includes the Balkans themselves, part of Turkey and a bit of Europe. They also claim that they know how to make bishie babies. Their Thing is that they want to be the Best of the Best and are therefore poaching talent from the other tribes. They're SUPER magical even compared to how magical the other tribes are.



Also goddamnit, MORE mentions of magical horses! Apparently GIANT WHITE MAGICAL HORSES sometimes teleport to where they are, when they're out and about. What is this author's boner for magical horses? They've also mastered the art of never having to make compromises, it seems, as their clothes are "simple and practical" but also "stylish and flattering," at all times. And of course there are so many fucking words wasted on describing HOW THEY'RE SO GODDAMN PRETTY THAT IT DOESN'T MATTER IF THEY'RE COVERED IN PIGSHIT AND BLOOD, THEY'RE STILL GOING TO APPEAR STUNNING.



Kakkahaar







These guys are STEALTH NOMADS who do a lot of trading. They're rich as balls on account of selling and trading all the shit that the other RAY-THOO are too stupid to produce or grow for themselves. And of course, these are the author's reminder that ANCIENT HUMAN CIVILIZATIONS were morally and ethically superior to our modern-day one, and that we should totally LEARN FROM THEM, GUYS, because this is the Kakkahaar opinion.



So anyway, in the opening paragraphs they're simultaneously materialistic and mystic, interested in knowledge and obsessed with getting rich, great at stealth AND great at fighting, they have everything you might want to trade for, but they're short on necessities themselves AND they enjoy hedonistic lifestyles.



They all turn golden-looking when incepted, and have super-long hair, apparently long enough sometimes that it "covers their body like a shawl." Oh and they dress in appropriate deserty clothes, robes and stuff, but at the same time all their servants are dressed real fancy and occasionally wear nothing but their hair. So I guess they must go through a lot of servants who die in the cold of night or the heat of day. Also despite being nomads CONSTANTLY ON THE MOVE they love to weigh themselves down with shitloads of heavy gold jewelry!



Obliviata





Some of the art isn't TOTALLY bad



So these are the Islamic Nomad Wraeththu, basically. Where the Kakkahar are pseudo-gypsies, all MYSTERIOUS AND DISTRUSTED AND ASS-FULL OF MAGIC & DIVINATION, the Obliviata hang out in the Middle East and mostly just keep to themselves, not even doing much magical bullshit, but instead believing that "Allavé" guides them. Their tribal signet even has four crescents and a scimitar on it.



Except somehow THESE guys are the ones that the text says are spiritual descendants of the gypsies(or maybe they're all actually Bishie-tized gypsies, it's a bit hard to tell), and despite the NO ETHNIC HATRED clause from pages earlier, this still gives the Obliviata a bad rep with all the other tribes. Yep, other tribes specifically consider them "thieves and vagabonds."



GYPSIES posted:

"Even though they lack much in common with the old ways, having transcended beyond any ideals followed by their human predecessors, other tribes appear unable to forget the past and will not accept the Obliviata for the free hara they are, instead regarding them simply as thieves and vagabonds."




Maybe I'm just paranoid, but it reads to me like the author is suggesting that the ideals of the gypsies is/was actually based on HEE HEE LET US BE SNEAKSY THIEVES AND ROB THE WHITE FOLKS.



Also unlike the other tribes who BURN THE FAILED ONES, the Obliviata actually think they should help out the poorly-Incepted. Unlike the others who have ENDLESS DESCRIPTIONS OF HOW BEAUTIFUL they are, these guys are just described as "of refined features" and wearing desert-y robes. No fancy bullshit. Also the book cheerfully reminds us that the Americans were oppressing the Middle Easterners and THANK GOODNESS THAT THE WRAETHTHU FUCKED UP AMERICA SO THE MIDDLE EAST COULD BE FREE.



Sulh





What the future holds for the British



They start with the geography of Alba Sulh(the UK), the big island is Alba(Britain), to the west is Keltoi(Ireland) and the strait between them is the Monaig. Also of course the entire region of Alba Sulh is just soaked in magic, to the point where using psychic communication has replaced anything like letters or telephones. "Many claim to have seen strange and mythical creatures roaming the countryside there, and the Freyhella tell stories of sea monsters that prevent outsiders from getting too close to the shore."



Welcome to Fairytown! There's apparently so much fucking etheric energy floating around Alba Sulh that you can't even trust your senses to parse reality correctly in the area.



These guys are also Wiccans, Wiccan astrologists. Wiccan astrologists who can tap CRYSTAL POWER for magic. And mark them up as another tribe with SPECIAL HAIR, these guys believe their hair is magical! And they always tell you the truth, but it's actually not the truth, it's just what you already believe, so what they actually do is called lying in a lot of cases, making any statements as to their truthfulness completely retarded.



Uigenna





Can ANYONE explain what the fuck is going on with his hair? With his everything?



Alright, so these are basically the Sabbat Brujah of Ray-Thoo. They love guns, they love partying and they love FIGHTING THE MAN. They are also huge assholes. They're the guys who're holed up in the fucking Space Needle, and they kill pretty much fucking everyone they bump into. "In the cities that they began to populate, they would use their psychic abilities to lure human boys to them, offering promises of freedom, dark secrets and adventure." These are also the guys from the INTRO FICTION and, judging by this description, about as pedo-tastic as the Colurastes.



They've done so many drugs that it's somehow made them specialists in alchemy and making drugs to kill people and Wraeththu with. How does this even make sense? I could smoke meth every day for two years and it wouldn't give me a fucking PhD in chemistry! "Personal hygiene is not a great concern, as baths and fresh water are often a luxury in the slums and ghettos of the ruined cities. Despite this, many Uigenna are strikingly beautiful, in a bizarre fashion."



They're also the biggest idiots when it comes to Incepting, and thanks to them, many North American(sorry, Megalithican!) cities are now full of roaming, zombie-like mutants.



Unneah







Unneah are basically for the people who want to DRESS as stupid as the Uigenna but don't want to be Chaotic Evil meth heads. Also apparently these guys are the source of the stupid "THE GELAMING HAVE PEGASUSES!"-stories. They're also some of the only Wraeththu who realize that farming instead of scavenging is a good idea. And they're shamanistic people who are CLOSE TO THE LANDSCAPE.



Ultimately they aren't too interesting, they're just Uigenna-lite.



Varr





I shall name him... DARK SHADOW!



So these are the STRUCTURED MILITARY GUYS to the Uigenna's CRAZY BARBARIAN GUYS. They capture the STRONG AND POWERFUL humans who actually manage to fight well against them, give them the Bishie Herpes and throw them into the ranks for the next war. Oh and gasp, we know that they're kinda evil because... THEY HAVE TWO GENDERS, sorta. They've got the USUALLY WITH DICKS dudes who lead society, and then they've got the USUALLY WITH VAGINAS dudes who wear dresses and are hoping to one day get knocked up with "Harlings" by their manly husbands.



Generally, though, it's hard to hate them too much, because unlike the pretentious other fuckers like the Gelaming and Kakkahaar who have ORIGINAL SOCIETIES DO NOT STEAL, the Varr are just like: "Hey, humanity did have some pretty good ideas, let's just do shit their way." and it seems to be working out for them. They also prefer guns to WIZARDRY, earning them another point in my book. They've got horses, farms, livestock and are generally not retarded.



Minor Tribes



Freyhella: VIKINGS. GRRRRR. RAID ALBA SULH, BRAID HAIR, TRAVEL SEA, PARTY BIG.



Smalt: They live in the Caribbean, are good with poisons and have generally taken over human businesses and farms there.



Hokule: Pacific Islander Wraeththu, supposedly they live in volcanoes and love to party, and they only accept willing inceptees.



Kheops: Native American Wraeththu, which have subtribes named stuff like DARKRIVER and BLOODCLOUD. Sometimes they raid people, sometimes they just farm.



Inukshuk: Inuit Wraeththu. Apparently they don't even know how the fuck they got incepted, and don't seem to give a fuck about it. They just shrugged their shoulders and went on living as usual. Supposedly the only Wraeththu with a particularly good sense of humour.





Dumb Name Listing for this Chapter: Aries Strala, Marius Frost, Netspinner har Sulh, Dag Viking, Besta Zamhalama.



Next time! We finally get to the fucking rules!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 5
04:21pm EDT - 8/11/2015
Wraeththu

Why are we here?

Why are we here?

No, really, that's a headline for this section of the book. For anyone who cares, by the way, we're still some 50 pages from chargen, and over 100 from anything resembling rules. This thing is just loaded up with shitloads of miserable fluff. BUT ANYWAY, this particular fluff section has THEORIES about why and how the Wraeththu are around!

Theory One: The first Wraeththu was a horrifying mutant born from a human mother, part one of the creepy psychic kids from Village of the Damned, part misogynist(he hates his mother from birth, apparently), part crazy fucking rapist murderer. So he runs away from home after fucking another dude to death, and a hobo tries to eat him, BUT GASP, THIS MEANS THE HOBO GETS WRAETHTHU BLOOD IN HIM... And then those two are the start of the whole fucking mess!

quote:

Humans have abused and abandoned their natural strengths: In Wraeththu it begins to bloom.

Except I thought humanity's "natural strength" was the fact that we could make nukes and guns and chuck them at things? So weren't we expressing that quite excellently?

quote:

[Wraeththu's] bodies are immune to cellular destruction through time. As they are physically perfect, so must they strive towards spiritual perfection.

Then after that, we're presented with a bunch of OPTIONS, if we choose that this is true. Option #1: Wraeththu are all a horrible, horrible accident. Option #2: Wraeththu are someone's INTENTIONAL horrible, horrible fuckup, like a genetic experiment. Option #3: It's not true, and is instead a CONSPIRACY THEORY. So... I guess that's... not an option about it being true after all... Fuck it. NEXT THEORY.

Theory Two: Wraeththu are angels and/or devils, divine punishment/purpose. Apparently loads of pagans totally think this is an awesome idea and/or the truth. Christians and other followers of "traditional" faiths decided it was time to kill themselves because OH GOD THE END TIMES, while the Pagans all went "OH BOY GAIA IS KILLING US, THIS IS AWESOME." and rocked out.

Theory Three: Wraeththu have always been around, just hidden! Because flower-cocked bishounen with acid jizz and magical powers would be SO subtle.

Theory Four: They're the next step of evolution. More blathering on about how they have the potential to be FAR more stable and self-fulfilled because they don't have their male and female mental halves punching each other in the neck all the time. According to the book, as drastic a mutation as the Wraeththu occuring in the span of one or two generations is TOTALLY REALISTIC, because diseases have absolutely caused such things to happen before.

quote:

It is difficult for human scientists to accept that such a drastic evolutionary step could ever be natural, but many diseases have caused mutations in the past, and human technology, with all its advances, never did fully understand the workings of the human frame.

Evolution is a messy and misunderstood process. Even in the days before Wraeththu, some dual-gender offspring were born to humans, and on a cellular level, a high percentage of males possessed cells of the opposite sex.

Just a quick quote for any Bio majors in the audience who want an aneurysm.

THREATS

Threats, you might ask? What could ever threaten our perfect, unique bishie wonders? I'll tell you what. DIRTY GODDAMN HUMANS.


Hell yeah

I'm assuming that dude is a member of THE HUMAN RESISTANCE/THE HUMAN THREAT on account of A) not looking like a glam rocker, B) not looking like a girl and C) not looking like a goddamn retard. Also while the Wraeththu have basically descended into semi-primitivity, seeming only to have really retained technology when it comes to stuff like partying and drugs, the humans are apparently still fully teched-out with biological weapons, chemical weapons, missiles and other war machines. They built a huge, fortified border that protects THE HUMAN DOMAINS from any flower-dicked dongheads that get too close.

They're also described as Cunning and Devious!

quote:

That said, with regard to toxins, there is one substance that humans developed which is fatal to our kind. It was discovered during the development of DNA separation and profiling. A chemical was developed to separate the strands of DNA for use in profiling systems. You can appreciate the lethal application of this substance. The merest contact is enough to degrade a human frame at an astonishing rate.

Then the humans made an anti-Wraeththu version of this factually dubious substance and a few drops alone will melt them!

Threats that aren't as cool as humans

Nihilism: "We don't age, we can't have kids and most of us are too retarded to farm! Waaaaah, life is pointless!"

The Ancient Ones: So apparently they read a lot of leftover Lovecraft and thought that references to Old Ones and Elder Races were actual goddamn scientific literature. Because the Wraeththu are now fucking terrified of these things coming back and wrecking their shit. No details on what they actually are, but a lot of Wraeththu are scared shitless of them nonetheless, they think some ELDER RACE existed before humanity and that it'll doubtless be evil if it returns. I have to admit, THE HUMAN RESISTANCE vs Creepy Rapethu and Elder Things might be a better Lovecraft RPG than CTech...

Decadence: "OH MAN OH MAN WE MIGHT PARTY OURSELVES INTO DESTRUCTION."

Mythology & Legends

Okay, so there's a grand total of four of these. And they're all really short, let's summarize.

Gelaming Madness: So Immanion, the great big city in the Balkans that was TOO PERFECT FOR WORDS might be fucking Atlantis or something. Also supposedly the Wraeththu there ride fucking Pegasuses.

Werewolves of the Desert: So some people think there are REAL MONSTERS. Like vampires, werewolves, sea serpents, krakens and Pegasuses.

Even More Than We First Thought?: MAYBE WE CAN LEARN TO SHIT OUT KIDS AND MAYBE THERE ARE FEMALE WRAETHTHU.

CONSPIRACY: So some Wraeththu apparently dropped LSD and are convinced that the FLYING HORSES are messengers from ANGELS OUTSIDE OF TIME who created the Wraeththu.

And this is what passes for fucking quest hooks so far, I guess. Goddammit, why do the fucking flying horses pop up in three out of four of them? But that actually does finish off the major fluff chapter! Next up is Tribes! Again! Yes, they decided to list the fucking Tribes twice! Before we just got one-paragraph summaries, now they all get multiple pages!

TRIBES

Alright, so. There are eight major tribes, and a bunch of smaller tribes. Tribes are split into bands called Phyles, which are ruled by Phylarchs, and the Phylarchs are lead by an Archon.

quote:

While most tribes contain members from different human ethnic groups, many of them have adopted styles, customs and traditions from very early human civilizations. Wraeththu scholars have pondered this phenomenon, and several agree that it may have arisen because the planet itself retains certain memories or templates, like archetypes, which Wraeththu, being more attuned to the planet, absorb and manifest

So Wraeththu absorb and manifest these stereotypes entirely on grounds of being superior and more sensitive than humans... except that humans already did this first? This shit doesn't even have the vaguest pretense of internal consistency, sometimes. Of course, as mentioned before, despite being PERFECT AND AT HARMONY, the Wraeththu are violent fuckhats who love to murder each other for being from the wrong tribe.

Also we're reminded that the Tribes are not formed because of ethnic issues, as the Wraeththu are way above this completely human failing. They only hate each other for SENSIBLE things, such as being born in the wrong territory, or a citizen of the wrong state or... oh wait. Yeah, if anyone's confused, pretty much every tribe is limited to one or two major geographical parts of the world, so hating another tribe just for being another tribe IS essentially completely down to racism, as what tribe you're a member of depends on what creepy man-woman raped you, not what you believe in.

quote:

Ethnic origin does not appear to be a contributing factor, as it once was for the humans. This is undoubtedly because hara do not suffer the same psychological problems over "differences" that humans do.

Also despite humanity being basically obliterated in North America, and Wraeththu being MAYBE 1/10th the number that humanity once was, they're such utter mongoloids at infrastructure, farming and other necessities for survival that they're already suffering for lack of good land and locations.

Tribe #1: The Colurastes


Jesus, ladyguy, I think you have a fucking jellyfish on your head!

So these guys are apparently serpent-themed, which they "embrace," because the serpent has "long been the ultimate symbol for androgyny," which is fucking news to me. They never cut their hair, which supposedly bleeds if you cut it, and it may or may not be prehensile. Though all stuff leans towards it basically being head-tentacles. Also, just in case anyone was still in doubt: These assholes kidnap and bone children. Creepy shit! Somehow their recruits are much less susceptible to various mental disorders than the others, because being put through a HARROWING AND MISERABLE EXPERIENCE THAT ENTIRELY REWRITES WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE, ALONG WITH BEING KIDNAPPED FROM YOUR FAMILY, is apparently less scarring for children!

Also these guys can "feel others' emotions, even those of the dead." Though I shouldn't think a corpse has much in the way of emotions at any given moment. It must be a rather boring special power. Oh, yeah, and despite the lack of ethnicities, every tribe apparently has common enough appearances that they can have a subheading for describing their archetypal looks.

They worship some sort of snake-dude and are BROODING LONER ASSASSINS.

And then, before I can subject myself to more BISHIE BULLSHIT someone comes along and wants me for something. So you'll have to read about the rest, next time! And maybe we'll get to the system, too!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 4
03:57pm EDT - 8/11/2015
Wraeththu

Geography & Culture

Okay, so just to try and make sense of the dumb new names we're dealing with(There's nothing resembling an actual map so far). North America is now Megalithica, and the entire west coast collapsed into the sea, the humans are in charge of the east coast, and the Wraeththu are being fuckheads all over the center, north and south.

Almagabra is either South America or somewhere in Asia. I think it might be South America, fucked if I know, what's important about this place is that it has the CITY OF IMMANION, which is the magical idyllic city of the Wraeththu. On the other hand, it also has a place named "Floridana," so maybe this is what became of the West Coast and it's just sort of floating around in the Pacific somewhere? Fuck this stupid shit.

Alba Sulh is the UK, you can tell because they decided to name the capital fucking "Avalona." Seriously. Olathe seems to be the Middle East.

Just about the only two places that have recognizable names otherwise are Freygard(Sweden/Norway) and Nunavut(far north Canada).

The only places that are marked as THE HUMAN DOMINIONS seem to be Denmark, 'round the edges of the Baltic and Russia. The rest of Europe has gone Full Bishie. Nothing about Asia whatsoever.

Apparently despite the world going Full Post-Apoc just a decade or so ago, there's already a thriving entertainment industry among the Wraeththu. You'd think that, what with the vivid descriptions of biological and chemical weapons being deployed, nukes thrown around "with abandon," volcanoes, earthquakes and tidal waves, even the Superior Bishies would be fighting just to have a functional farming system or something going on.

Oh and apparently there are ghosts and demons now and they haunt places. This is really only given a side-mention so we know that there are SPOOKY HAUNTED FORESTS and shit.

Soda Lake Cat Lair: So there's this really spooky lake where some humans used to live but now the HUMANS ARE ALL GONE, so now it's full of SPOOKY CATS who are NEVER HUNGRY OR MALNOURISHED despite there being no food so all the Wraeththu are like "THESE CATS ARE OBVIOUSLY MAGICAL GUARDIANS OF THE LAKE." Oh and if you don't bring gifts for the cats I guess something bad might happen? Maybe they'll take a dump in your shoes while you sleep.

Did I mention it's barely been a decade or two since everything went tits up? Somehow this has still done enough brain damage to the Wraeththu that they refer to machines and cars as METAL BEASTS.

There's also a list of FAMOUS WRAETHTHU. Spoiler: They're all pretty, perfect and incredibly fucking boring. You've got the MYSTERIOUS ONE, you've got the WARRIOR GUY, you've got the PHILOSOPHER DUDE and oh wait, did I say THE mysterious one? Because like half of these are MYSTEEEERIOUS AND SPOOOOKY AND NO ONE KNOWS MUCH ABOUT THEM, EXCEPT FOR HOW PERFECT THEY ARE.

I'm sorry, this section is just so fucking bland I can't even make fun of it.

THE TRIBES(because OF COURSE there are tribes who each have their own distinct stereotypes and stat bonuses)

Colurastes: Pedophiles with prehensile hair.

Gelaming: Wizards and scientists.

Kakkahaar: Gypsy wizards.

Obliviata: Religious nomads.

Sulh: Literally the third out of five tribes so far to be praised for how ESPECIALLY PSYCHIC AND MAGICAL they are. Also British.

Uigenna: The generic GRAR FIGHTER BERSERKER dudes.

Unneah: Flamboyant pirates.

Varr: A bunch of military dudes and just about the only ones who don't prance around as completely androgynous, instead preferring to act masculine.

Religion

If you believe in some deity hard enough it becomes real, no, really. Which kind of offers puzzling questions of why major pre-Wraeththu deities didn't do anything to stop all the bullshit, or maybe turn the Wraeththu into pillars of salt. And despite shitloads of different religions, Wraeththu are totally too civilized to ever have religious wars. Because they're not huuuuumaaaaan, guuuuuuuuys.

Also if two Wraeththu make out they become telepathic together forever.

Inception

Selection: Supposedly enlightened beyond most human faults, Wraeththu nonetheless base most of their choice of inceptee on who looks really cute.

History: Despite their superhuman intellect, Wraeththu used to just cut people open with broken bottles, pour blood on them and see what happened. Now most of them are less retarded and use, you know, syringes and clean knives and shit.

Process: First they starve you and wash you for days. Then they shave you and bleed on you. Then your body forms a cocoon of shit and blood which somehow protects you from infection and saves you from having major organ failure while your DNA is being rewritten!

quote:

Internally the Wraeththu DNA will latch on to that of the humans in a manner similar to that of a virus. Then, harish DNA gradually overwrites the human code. Also the DNA brings ribosomes with it, which help the mutation process to change the human tissue and organs.

...

The genetic mutation takes place over the first two days, with the organs changing at a slower rate. The process is similar to an embryo gestating in a womb, as the cells and organs of the human are literally reborn.

Then you suffer miserably as your new pseudo-vagina gouges out a pocket inside your stomach for itself. Then your cock turns into a flower. "Muscles will at first retract, then regrow in a stronger form. The bone structure will become denser, but at the same time more flexible." And then the cocoon of human shit and scabs falls off and you're now a beautiful butterfly!

Also if no one fucks you afterwards you become a crazy zombie Wraeththu who attacks everything. And if you're not perfect and beautiful after the transformation, for instance if your bad eyesight or hearing has remained, the other Wraeththu will set you on fire or ritually murder you.


Mostly just adding this because the art style changes a bit around here, getting a bit more anime

There's a bit on the extremely boring tribe-specific Inception rituals, but the only ones that stand out are the Obliviata, who are the only ones that DON'T kidnap and rape random humans, instead only taking willing supplicants, the Varr, who actually do it in a scientific way instead of a religious fashion(note that the Varr are heavily implied to be the badguys of the Wraeththu tribes), and attend to the poor person with painkillers and stuff if the UTTER MISERY becomes too miserable, and the Colurastes, who, as mentioned repeatedly, are creepy, creepy pedophiles!

Bad names of the chapter: Wraxilan, Laice, Loveless.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 3
04:22pm EDT - 8/07/2015
Wraeththu

Aruna is the Wraeththu term for sexual union

Psychology



So today we study how Wraeththu think! If you suspect the answer is "superior to humans in all ways," then you're right! Trigger warning for any psych majors who read this, since you may have an aneurysm from rage. Delayed trigger warning for doctors and biologists for the previous post.

Attitude to Humanity: Predictably they think we're below them, but whether they kill us for laughs to treat us like animals is up to the individual Wraeththu. Wraeththu who start to think like humans in any way are "deprogrammed" by Wraeththu psych-wizards.

quote:

Whatever their viewpoint, every har can see that humans suffer great inner conflict between their masculine and feminine aspects, which is hardly surprising, as outwardly they have to conform to their gender's accepted stereotypes. Hara frown upon this black and white perspective of the world. However, many humans have now begun to realize that life isn't quite as black and white as they used to think. These individuals are now beginning to attain an inner harmony similar to that achieved by the Wraeththu.

Relationships: Polyamory! They can totally love each other but they have free sex across all bounds, because having an exclusive physical relationship with one person will inevitably involve jealousy and mistrust, and be self-destructive.

The Young: Wraeththu don't have any kids of their own(except for the Colurastes who Incept human kids and then fuck them), but they're totally superior parents to humans because they understand not talking down to kids, and under Wraeththu guidance all children mature much faster and become much more awesome! Treating children like children will only make them hate and distrust adults.

Belief

Belief posted:

Deep down, humans need to rationalize everything that they perceive through their senses. They want explanations for the things their minds cannot understand, for in not knowing lies fear. Fear of the unknown causes great problems for the human mind. Even if many of the answers they seek lie before their eyes, humans seem not to see them, or are too lazy and cannot be bothered to comprehend them.

Apparently "very few" humans ever bother to look for The Truth, but of course Wraeththu are superior and totally understand the universe much better. And they don't believe in religion or Gods either, of course they kind of have the advantage of being able to SEE SOULS, so that settles a lot of the fucking debate for them.

Existence

Existence posted:

Do we exist for a reason? Is there a meaning to life? If so, what is the great plan? These are questions that even hara cannot answer. Humans struggled to grasp the reason for their existence, which may have contributed to their downfall. Perhaps, if humankind had joined with Wraeththu, in accepting the force of nature, and had helped the earth rather than continued to abuse it, the rebellion of nature and the spread of horrific plagues might not have occurred. Humanity's self-importance and their misunderstanding of existence were partly responsible for their decline. This is illustrated through examples from their history, from the Crusades to the great world wars. Humans fell prey to their own failure to understand why they are alive.

What this meaning of life is, we're not told, but we're told that it's definitely not a desire for power, and that only the best and brightest of the Wraeththu understand this. Also apparently Wraeththu are deadly afraid of introspection, because that's a flaw they inherited from humans?

Self: "Because of the amalgamation of both feminine and masculine aspects of their psyche, hara do not face the same degree of inner conflict experienced by humans." You know, this goddamn focus on how important anima and animus are to the human psyche really reminds me of IDA's insistence of Freudian psych being gospel truth. But anyway, aside from that, Wraeththu are totally awesome and never racist, but instead the different TRIBES want to strangle each other, regardless of skin colour!

Also in these paragraphs we're introduced to someone named Velisarius and his incredibly stupid quotes, he's apparently one of the first fucking Wraeththu or something and a super-important prophet to a bunch of them.

Aruna

This one gets a BOLD headline because this is about Wraeththu cocks.

So they used to think boning was still just BONING, but then somehow through autopsies, an examination of the physical, they discovered the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of it? That part makes no fucking sense to me. Then they started using Tantric Techniques(described as the Ancient Art of Sex Magick) to discover the TRUE DEPTHS of wizard dicks. But what you guys are REALLY here for are the vivid descriptions of the sex organs, right? I sure fucking hope so, because here they come!

Ouana-Lim posted:

When aroused, the masculine organ of the har resembles a petalled rod, sometimes of deep and varied colours. It possesses an inner tendril which only emerges when stimulated by the feminine organs of any arunic activity. The secretions from the ouana-lim at this time possess healing and euphoric properties. There are seven energy centres found within the ouana-lim, which correspond to the seven main energy centres, or chakras, within the body's torso and head. Experienced hara can utilize these energy centres to intensify arunic energy during Grissecon(PurpleXVI's note: Boning SPECIFICALLY for dick magic purposes), or else to heighten pleasure. As in human males, hara possess two testes, but these retract into the body cavity when a har takes a soume, or feminine, role in aruna. The ouana-lim too shrinks during these occasions, and then most resembles a dense, many-petalled flower on the surface of the body.

Soume-Lam posted:

Behind the masculine organs lies the soume-lam, similar in some respects to a female generative organ, in that it is a self-lubricating passageway into the body. The interior of the soume-lam is pleated or furrowed, , but also elastic, to accommodate the stiffed petals of an ouana-lim. Like the masculine organ, it possesses seven energy centres, although only five of them are accessible during normal aruna. High Codexia Malakess, the Sulh researcher, says that the remaining two must come into play during procreation. During normal aruna, the secretions from the stimulated soume-lam mingled with those of the ouana-lim to create an intoxicating substance that can sometimes be hallucinogenic. The culmination of aruna often provides an extremely visionary and spiritual experience for those involved.

And then there's Pelki which, as we already know, is rape. And yes, all the body secretions of Wraeththu are extremely caustic to humans, and will melt them. Also there are EVIL DARK SEX MAGICS that can only be used by rapists! Spooky.

Magic!



To recap, Wraeththu can: Set stuff on fire with their minds. Move things with their minds. CREATE PHYSICAL MATTER WITH THEIR MINDS. Do telepathy. Heal people. Change temperatures. And probably whatever the fuck else they want, considering that the following examples involve mind control, changing the past, causing earthquakes and blasting castles to ash with energy bolts.

Also there's something kind of like oMage-style Paradox here. If you just disintegrate something out of hand, that's gonna cause Backlash, but causing a vicious earthquake to rattle it into rubble doesn't. Because the earthquake doesn't need a fucking cause, I guess! Fucking stupid.

There's a bunch of dumb bullshit about what they call their wizards but seriously who GIVES a fuck, none of it sounds funny and it's sure as hell not interesting.

Stupid names of the last few pages: Loveless, Sovances of the Kakkahaar, Zip Hamstring, Silk, Zillah Shemercy.

MEGALITHICA AND BEYOND

Aka., the fucking history/geography section where they throw out a bunch of stupid names and describe how wacky they are.

So in YE OLDE WAY BACK PAST shit was going bad. More wars, more plagues, more viruses, people dying, oh nooooooo. THE INTERNET also collapses. Fertility rates drop. Power networks and water supplies collapse. "Nuclear bombs were dropped with almost careless abandon. Whole countries were destroyed and deserts turned into huge, glass plains due to the immense heat of the explosions."

BUT GASP, THE PLANET FIGHTS BACK. Now you can add earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanoes to the list of things that hate humanity. You'd think that the volcanoes at least would be a stupid fucking idea, though, also killing off plenty of animal and plant life and shit like that. In fact doing about as much damage as human warfare.

Most people who can afford it move into CITADELS to avoid getting murdered by roving gangs, possibly lead by mysterious, huge martial artists that could make men's heads explode with their bare hands.

And then just to top it off, the fucking Bishie Herpes kicks the fall into full gear. Now they've got child-molesting, STD-infested, bishounen rapists roaming the streets and trying to kill people as well. Also the Wraeththu apparently kicked things into gear by being crazy-ass terrorist bombers. And of course they totally defeat the human militaries because they're miserable Mary Sues. Oh and apparently they can KILL PEOPLE WITH THEIR FUCKING VOICES.

Long story short humanity gets FUCKED. The end. Now the Wraeththu get to play around at screwing the Earth over!

And then I look and see that there's like 30 pages for the next section on the INCREDIBLY DULL places you can have INCREDIBLY DULL ADVENTURES ABOUT COCKS. So I put down the book and go do something more interesting...

UNTIL THE NEXT POST

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 2
03:57pm EDT - 8/07/2015
Wraeththu

...however, this should not be perceived as homosexuality

And we're on to the Introduction!

Introduction

Alright, so we're playing Hara, who are both male and female in one body, something which should "not be perceived as homosexuality," in case anyone ever thought this might be GAY or something. Sex is called "aruna," and is essential to staying alive. We're told we can "breeze over" the details, though, unless it's really important who we're fucking and where. However, this is just a ruse so the GM can ease us into the really creepy shit. Let me paste a roleplaying guide from deeper in the book...

Aruna and the Single Gamer posted:

Unfortunately, sex and sexuality are, for many people, a very embarrassing subject, and not one they really want to discuss while doing a hobby, especially when their mother may be in the next room. However, in a game of Wraeththu the subject must be broached somehow, after all the characters' lives quite literally may depend on it.

In Wraeththu you cannot ignore the whole aspect of character sexuality.

...

Love triangles and dark passionate pasts are a staple of fiction, and can only improve your game.

...

Most of our time in the real world is taken up with the pursuit of love and sex, so how can our characters be so ambivalent towards such issues? In most other role-playing games such issues are optional, but in Wraeththu they are essential.

...

In fact, one of the things that may have drawn your players to Wraeththu is the unique opportunity for such a role-playing experience.

...

As a storyteller you can assume the characters are taking Aruna with each other, simply as often as they have to. You still need to actually mention what is going on though, not ignore the act completely. Simply say "So once in the inn you all take Aruna and wake up the next morning."

(PURPLEXVI'S EXPLANATION: Aruna = Wraeththu boning, Wraeththu need to get their alien/mutant boners on or they die.)

With everyone aware that Aruna is going on, it becomes easier to take the next step.

When you are comfortable, you can move to the second level. Here you ask the characters to pick partners for Aruna. They still need only explain who and when rather than how and what they like. However, sex and relationships are now part of the game.

...

All characters need to do at this stage is specify which character(s) they are taking Aruna with, and(perhaps more importantly) who they are not. This develops relationships in the game as well as sex.

The third level brings more role-play into the activities mentioned above. Now it isn't enough to say what is going on, now you must describe it as well. It is essential at this point for characters to take on Aruna as an essential part of playing their characters. At this point you can bring sex magic into the mix as well.

...

By now the players should feel comfortable with theri characters taking Aruna and describing the way they like to do such things. Are they gentle or harsh? Do they prefer Soume or Ouana? (PURPLEXVI'S NOTE: This is basically "DOES YOUR SEA ANEMONE BECOME A PROUD SCHLONG OR A HORRIFYING PSEUDO-VAGINA?"). Is Aruna like an itch they like to scratch or a sacred spiritual union? Do they like it a lot, or not so much, and how do they treat their partners afterwards?

The last level allows you to be as graphic as you like. You can now bring in elements such as pelki(PURPLEXVI'S NOTE: Rape. When raping humans, Wraeththu sex sludge kills 'em) and all the darker sides of sex and Aruna. This need not be restricted to the NPCs either. Players should feel free to create quite nasty or sexually predatory characters, if they so desire. The storyteller is now able to bring in NPCs designed purely for sexual storylines and adventures. Such NPCs can act as sexual foils for characters, forming jealousies and love triangles in established relationships.

...

Don't get fixated on sex, as it can easily dominate a game.


And then the game tries to sell us the original Wraeththu books. Nice try, but no cigar.

Now, I have to say, the first subsection "What is Roleplaying?" is actually pretty well-written. It's actually formulated in a way that gets the point across quite well to anyone who's never touched the hobby before. "How Do I Role-Play?" is also surprisingly well-written, emphasizing various social aspects like not constantly trying to hog the spotlight, and the fact that a character doesn't have to be perfect and infallible to be interesting. Even the section on how to be a good GM is actually kind of great! It advises against railroading aggressively, against being too easy or too harsh on the players, suggests what volume of preparation is handy...

RAILROADING BAD posted:

Another aspect to bear in mind is that only an incompetent Storyteller plans the plot "to a tee" and then religiously sticks to it, without giving the players a chance to explore other avenues. If you want your players to keep to the plot, then give them a good reason to and don't force them into it. If you insist, for example, that they go to Location X, then Location Y, without doing anything else, you will probably end up with rebellious players, whose characters just sit there doing nothing or perform anarchic or insane acts out of boredom.


Even in much better games, this is some advice I've rarely, if ever, seen pop up, yet something that a lot of GM's could stand to learn from.

Live Action posted:

Due to the nature of the game, we do not suggest any players attempt to act out aspects of Inception or aruna. The Wraeththu are an inhuman race, the players are human. These acts should be confined to the imagination.


In order to not get too praise-y, I want to point out that the miserably bad art still continues for this section.



Some of it is flamboyantly hilarious, other bits are just sorta-okay

But the good advice comes to an end soon enough and we start hitting stuff about the actual gameworld.

quote:

It is the end of the world as we know it. Much has changed in the past decade and continues to do so. The greater part of human society has disintegrated, and the up-and-coming Wraeththu have set up small, feudal governments in the areas they control. Some Wraeththu have tried to develop different forms of government, taking ideas from the human administrations of past centuries and using them to suit their political aims.

...

Now imagine a world that has had enough of human depredation and, like any organism, desires only to rid itself of troublesome parasites. A few well-placed natural disasters have drastically changed the face of the planet. Weather systems have mutated and some major rivers now flow in new directions.

...

Over the last ten years, the human population has dropped by a staggering 50 percent, and is still dropping, with no hope of reverse. Even so, because they are a resilient species, groups of humans still strive to survive. In their desperation, and with a growing awareness of how dire their situation really is, many have returned to a more harmonious existence with the earth. Unfortunately, this about-face has come far too late. Other humans, victims of despair, have given up hope for humanity and simply roam the lands like lawless bandits.


Then we get to the Wraeththu. Apparently they popped up as soon as humanity started declining, so far with no real explanation. Androgynous, as we know, slim and fragile-looking, as we know, deadly warriors, "mystics and seers of great power." They poison humans with their blood to turn them into similar creatures, and apparently only a few of them have so far figured out how their genitals can be used to reproduce sexually.

Apparently they mostly "Incept" people who already hate humanity, meaning that most Wraeththu use their new superpowers to get revenge on a species they feel has bullied them since birth. Predictably, most humans blame the Wraeththu for all the shit that's going down and hate them. I think I'd hate these assholes, too.

So what does the world look like aside from this? Apparently the "Great Western Continent" is now called Megalithica and is under the boot of a human military government. The Wraeththu, on the other hand, bailed on this place pretty fast, moving east to the "Island of Alba Sulh"(the UK, I think) and then "moved east to the continent." Apparently Europe got more fucked than the US by all that went down and we were easier prey for the Wraeththu.

Interestingly enough, the Wraeththu are described as kind of horrendous, their behavior is called "raping cities and towns for resources and souls." And it seems like they don't really have any clue of their origin, either. Oh and apparently the Wraeththu can travel to other dimensions, too, so there's that. Props to the book, though, for suggesting that it's possible to play humans fighting against the Wraeththu as well, which would actually be kind of interesting! You've got this inhuman plague of post-human creatures, kidnapping people, spreading their way through the bowels of cities, lurking on the outskirts of settlements. Individually they're stronger than people, but a well-coordinated pack of humans can still take them down.


The Wraeththu

"The origins of Wraeththu are unclear, in the same way that human evolution is unclear." I thought we had a pretty good idea of wherefrom humans evolved? At any rate, this chapter is about the Wraeththu(as if the title wasn't a big clue). Apparently they're a big enough leap that natural evolution is completely out of the question, and the book waffles a bit on the subject, saying they could be aaaaaaaliens or a genetic experiment gone wrong. No clue whether there is a FOR GM'S ONLY section later that tells us which it is.

The book then instantly blows all goodwill left over from the decent "how to GM"-section by launching into a description of Wraeththu genitals.

MONSTER DONGS posted:

Wraeththu are creatures with both Ouana and Soume sexual organs, these being their equivalents to female and male genitalia.

..

Most creatures that use sexual reproduction to continue their species are unable to control impregnation naturally. Some believe that Wraeththu could be sterile, and therefore need no control. They maintain the species via the act of Inception, whereby Wraeththu blood is transfused into a human with a Naqi(PurpleXVI's Note: Fancy word for "a goddamn sharp knife.") and the recipient undergoes vast physical, mental and spiritual changes. These changes are then sealed by aruna, the harish term for sexual intercourse.


And then paragraph upon paragraph of how the Hara/Wraeththu are far superior to humans. They're faster, stronger, have better health, more efficient immune and digestive systems, heal faster, have more stable minds, no sexual anxieties or worries, and they're smarter, too. Their only real downside is that if they don't get their monster boners on for long enough, they start becoming mentally unstable and irritable. Oh and they also have telekinesis, pyrokinesis and telepathy. "We could speculate that the harish state of androgyny has contributed greatly to their enhanced mental condition." Then it caps the section by saying that it's KINDA POSSIBLE that humans could get psychic powers, too.

Let me just interrupt here, though, and say, that as much as I respect that FANTASY SHIT BE ALL WEIRD YO, this offends my understanding of psychology. I imagine that if you just had an unwanted, forced sex change operation performed on you, you would probably be a mental wreck for a while, even taking into account the superpowers you got in the bargain. Oh and let's not forget that everyone you ever liked or cared about will probably consider you a monster now, and that even if you "Incepted" them so they could join you, there's every chance it'd just kill them(in the prologue section, I think it was something like 2 out of 20 that survived the process).

On the subject of pronouns, we learn that apparently the Wraeththu themselves use "Har" as a pronoun, to the point of jamming it into other words. "Everyhar," "anyhar," "somehar" are just examples(everyone, anyone, someone). The same section also says that the psyche and memories are essentially unchanged after being Incepted, further bringing into focus the point that WHO THE FUCK WOULD NOT BE A PANICKY WRECK AFTER THAT EXPERIENCE? The section is also written in first-person by a Wraeththu who, hilariously enough, comments that he thinks the weird new pronouns are bullshit and "abominations of language."

I'm also not inlining it, but there's STILL more of the art, but it's just the same goddamn shit. Pale, ugly, badly-drawn androgynes looking confused or determined about things.


Inception

So, the Wraeththu are total cockbaskets, because as soon as someone's been Incepted, they usually force him or her to say that they totally let it happen of their own free will, despite the fact that kidnappings and such were involved in 99% of all cases. Then we get some stupid words! Forale: The fast before Inception! Harhune: The infection with Bishie Herpes! Althaia: The part where your cock falls off, i.e. the actual mutation process!

Also the Wraeththu have stupid names. Just on this page alone: Swithe Tresillian, Calambus Mint, Zackary Raven Black, Swooner har Sulh, Malakess har Sulh.

This subsection is mostly just fluff about how each Wraeththu group goes about infecting people(because OF COURSE they have wacky themed clans). The Uigenne are a tribe who cut people up for inception, the Varr are SCIENCE about it, the Colurastes choose children for Inception and happily fuck them afterwards, and presumably there are other weird-ass methods that aren't elaborated on just yet.


Wraeththu Physiology

More on how Wraeththu are totally better than humans! None of them are shorter than 5'8", they've got no body or facial hair, they lose all facial asymmetry, being Incepted counters baldness, your teeth become perfect, sometimes your skin colour becomes purple or gold, and sometimes your hair becomes anime-coloured. And supposedly one tribe even grows tails.

Agility: Far more. Muscles: Far better. Joints: Even more better.

You can't become fat, drugs never have any hangovers or side-effects related to them, poisons can't hurt you in 99% of all cases. You have magical healing and... even though earlier sections said Wraeththu were far more mentally stable than humans, apparently NOW it decides to state that yes, people can actually get mentally fucked up by the whole transformation misery. But luckily, Magical Wraeththu Healing can cure mental illnesses, too!

All senses are better, and you have super-awesome sixth and seventh senses and shit! But gasp, unlike other things, it's actually possible for Wraeththu to have flawed senses, oh my GOD. Aging causes no damage, and Wraeththu live a baseline of around 150 years or so.

DNA-wise, apparently Wraeththu have an extra base pair, K and L in addition to GATC. But apparently they have LESS genetic information because all the redundant parts of the genome have been flushed out? Also the "ribosome" has become more complex, but none of this has been elaborated on, possibly because the authors didn't know jack shit about science.

Are you impressed by how impossibly awesome these bishies are yet? I hope not, because the entire book is about that! Next time, even more bishies and the world they live in!

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Wraeththu RPG, Part 1
03:43pm EDT - 8/07/2015
The Wraeththu RPG

From Enchantment to Fulfillment



That gray shape behind the dagger is supposedly the genitalia of the Wraeththu. Nice introduction to the book, right?

So, page 1, book 1, let's take this from the top. Despite the quality of the contents, the cover does at least look reasonably nice, I mean, I have seen worse, and for a soft-cover it seems to be of reasonable quality. There's also a neatly organized index right at the start of the book, which is another pleasant surprise after shoving my way through the muddled, ill-organized jungles of several other games.

What's less of a nice surprise is the internal art... well, no, not art, that would insult artists, I believe the appropriate word is "miserable scrawlings of retarded children." Don't believe me? Have a look:



Our first look at the goddamn Wraeththu. A bunch of pale, prancing bishounen assholes. But any RPG can do bad art, the real misery lies in the writing, so let's get reading.


Prologue: Genesis

The intro story is a first-person viewpoint tale of a dude about to be Wraeththufied. Apparently he and a bunch of others have all been locked in a basement, strapped down, and starved and thirsted for several days. None of them seem to have believed that the Wraeththu were real before this happened, and it sounds like becoming one of them was not a choice they made willingly. Then someone cuts him open and pours Wraeththu blood on his wounds, giving him Bishie Herpes.

Then we get a flashback to what happened before our brave protagonist got captured! Apparently he's a chubby, acne-ridden, unattractive teenager. Super-clever, a nerd, supposedly got picked on for not being a jock. I think why he got bullied was his vocabulary rather than his braininess, though...

SADISM posted:

This in turn meant you were ready prey for those higher up the social hierarchy than you. Needless to say, I was near the bottom of said hierarchy, quarry that even other prey could hunt without many feelings of remorse or pity.

For all prey, there is a certain safety in travelling in numbers - the protection of the herd. Of course, the slowest was often culled by the predators, while the others scurried for safety. He or she became a sacrifice to the rampant sadism of humanity. Unfortunately, over the last few months, my "herd" had been culled. One by one, they had either transferred to different schools, moved on to other "herds" or had run away. Some kids had even killed themselves in despair over everything that had happened over the last few years.


Man, I was one of the nerdier kids back in my high school days and even I feel like shoving this guy around a bit for being a fucking dork. But anyway, he talks about how his BEST FRIEND, Adam, had disappeared a while ago. While wondering about what happened to Adam, he mentions that there are big, roving gangs forming. Between this and the mention of "everything that had happened over the last few years," we get an impression that the world is somewhat worse off than it is in our times.

So anyway, he goes to school, presumably gets bullied, comes back and then DUN DUN DUNNNN... HE FEELS AN OMINOUS TERROR... because a Wraeththu pedophile is going to kidnap his chubby, high-school ass.



Our protagonist

So he's briefly shaken out of his flashback by the Bishie Herpes giving him a gnarly, gruesome fever, and then sinks back into fever-dreamy flashbacks instead. Oh snap, PLOT TWIST, turns out it wasn't a Wraeththu scoping out porkins here for a kidnapping, it was THE BULLIES! And of course The Leader of THE BULLIES is the captain of the football team, "face and body of a Hollywood actor, personality of a barracuda."

ALPHA MALE posted:

Jamie never went anywhere without his "pack," all predators like himself, althoughthe was clearly their Alpha-male. And I had the misfortune of being the prey they had cornered this day. There was no reason for them to be out where I lived, except for the corner store across the street from my bus stop where they were remarkably lax about carding people for cigarettes or alcohol. From the reek of beer and tobacco surrounding those guys, it wasn't too hard for me to figure out why they were around here. I just had the bad luck to be in the area at the wrong time.

Jamie and his pack were infamous amongst the herd students for the strange types of "entertainment" they enjoyed. No one who'd been forced to entertain them ever said a word about it, but there was a strange sense about these victims, as if their spirits had been totally broken. I had always believed that my friend Rick had committed suicide because of somethign Jamie's pack had done to him, and that was probably the same reason Adam had run away as well.


And then they act like stereotypical jocks, knocking Our Protagonist around, calling him "piggy" and generally being douchebags. They drag him into a car and... FLASHBACKUS INTERRUPTUS.

Now he's crying after the Bishie Fever has passed and some EMOTIONLESS VOICE talks about how several of the victims have "already died" and how they're going to burn the corpses "before dawn." Also odd! Our protagonist is tied down less loosely! I wonder why?! (hint it is because he is becoming a skinny fucking bishie wreck)

BACK TO THE FLASHBACK. Vroom vroom, Jamie is driving Piggy the Protagonist through the city of Carmine! They drive into an alley and drag him into a dark room where a bunch of guys are breathing heavily. And basically it turns out these bullies are capturing nerds and selling them to the Wraeththu. And of course these Wraeththu, the "Uigenna," turn on the jocks and kidnap them for Bishie Transformations as well or something. Apparently the Wraeththu are mostly dressed in "vinyl and leather," just a minor note from that paragraph.

Flashback over, our protagonist wakes up and he's all OH MAN WHAT IS MY GENDER WHERE IS MY BODY OH WHAT. When a Wraeththu intercedes to lay some PLOT AND EXPOSITION on him in a highly dramatic fashion.



AAAAA OH GOD WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY PENIS

SLEEPING BEAUTY posted:

Then a shadow falls over me and a voice murmurs, "So, our sleeping beauty awakens."

It is the stranger from the basement: the tall, slender figure in ebony, ivory and indigo. He smiles and something within me stirs. There's something oddly familiar about him,. And beyond this recognition is another feeling.

He approaches me slowly. "Good morning, Mikey. I'd ask if you slept well, but I remember how painful the change is."

I pull the sheet up to my neck, say nothing.

He smiles wistfully and shakes his head. "What? Don't recognize me? No, guess not... I was a bit different the last time you saw me. Well, guess that means we need to be reintroduced. Down here, they call me Athame, but the name my parents gave me was Adam."

I stare at him, and shake my head in denial of his words, yet as I look into his eyes they are familiar to me, and part of me believes him.


So basically the only survivors of THE RITUAL are Mikey(aka Piggy) and Jamie, of course he and his entire gang also got bled on and it turns out most of them kicked the bucket in the process. Athame/Adam renames Mikey to Boline, "The light to my darkness and the darkness to my light." He also mumbles some shit about how Jamie is "no longer the top predator," which sounds VERY VERY WORRYING considering the sexually laden nature of this entire game.

BOLINE posted:

He leans over me and exhales. The steam of his breath conjures pictures in my mind: new possibilities unfolding, of dark days filled with riots, rage and flames; of a glorious glowing city filled with others like ourselves; of a new world rising from the ashes unlike anything anyone could have ever imagined. Something within me blossoms in the darkness of my soul as those images fill my mind, a glowing bloom of light that fills me with a new sense of purpose, a new reason for being. I am no longer Mikey, the frightened and ugly kid from the suburbs of Carmine. I am Boline, the blade who will help usher in a new world.




This appears to be the horrible thing that Adam/Athame has become. Jesus Christ in Heaven

And on that note, we finish off the introductory fiction. Next post we'll actually start on the game itself! THE END COMES.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 10
03:36am EDT - 8/04/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

The home stretch







So what's left? About 50 or so pages of Adventuring, Character Sheets, Advancement, Adversaries and ships, and I'm pretty sure there's going to be more retarded to find in there, or at least more shitty art. So let's chew through the rest of this pile of trash... and of course they fuck up right from the get go, with something as simple as suggested quest rewards.



> 300-500 for jobs with substantial personal risk.



Basically, a couple of sessions that we drag out with extended shopping trips or some sort of intercharacter drama can, unless we have rock bottom Ledger stats, basically land us as much money as a highly dangerous adventure. In fact, unless a given adventure only lasts one or two sessions, we're in fact almost guaranteed to earn more during it than we will at the end of it. Did anyone playtest ANY of this? Mind, they're allowed to "negotiate" for better payment, but it's not something they can mechanically roll, the book informs us, they have to have a legitimate argument for it. How about the argument that "hey, chief, I can earn more than this sitting at home and scratching my nads for a week, get fucked."?



quote:

Vectors don’t need to worry about muscular atrophy due to low or no gravity; they were specifically designed to adapt to such conditions.




And of course the everlasting parade of SPECIAL FURRY ABILITIES because ~superior genetics~ just fucking keeps on going, and going, and fucking going.



quote:

Fall damage is standardized across the game system regardless of what planet you’re on. It also applies in zero gravity situations where your character collides with objects.



Fall damage begins at 10 feet (6 feet for micro characters). Calculate how many feet you fell beyond 10, and multiply that number by 2. That is the accumulated damage on impact. So a character falling 30 feet with nothing to stop their descent hits the ground for 40 damage (20x2).




So, apparently velocity doesn't matter for this mechanic, which means that if you gently drift a hundred feet in zero-G at a snail's pace and then "collide" with an object, you'll gorily explode, going by the rules as written.



Remember how Eclipse Phase had transmitting a copy of your brain to another location, as a way of travelling, but with the cost of needing to use a local body and perhaps the complications that entailed? HSD just has magical technology that builds you a perfect body-copy on-site in a span of hours. Despite the fact that a "round trip" costs 1000 credits, which then includes the cost of manufacturing first one new body, and then a second, the game suggests that PC's can sell their organs to cover some of the costs. But why? Growing an entire new body is apparently fucking effortless, the work of hours, growing a box of new livers should take five minutes. Also, wait, why does a "Body Replacement" surgery, which just involves one new body, which doesn't need to be a carbon-copy replica of the original, cost 2500 credits, when this costs 1000? Can't a PC just ask for a new body to be transmitted to on arrival, rather than a copy of their old one?







There's a section on loans, which caps you at loaning 500 credits(your max is equal to your Econ:Strength*100, so in practice the cap is more like 300, but let's be generous), which we've already established you can just earn in a couple of game sessions with plain ledger rolls as long as you don't put them all at 1 dot or something.



quote:

A note to Guides: You do not always need to make loans available to players. Using just the rules mechanics it is possible for a team of players to borrow a substantial amount of money right off the bat. This is intentional, as it gives them a means to purchase things like ships without having to play a long campaign first. However, it can also be used to outfit them with high-tier weaponry much sooner than makes narrative sense. Players should keep in mind the sort of character they’re playing. It isn’t always particularly believable for the first action of say, a scientist or sports star, to take out two loans, go to the nearest store, and buy a high powered rifle and fully enclosed suit of active armor just on a whim.




I don't know, if I was a fucking PC in a sci-fi game sorta-styled as "horror," with monstrous space-creatures and fucking Libertarians all over the place, I know I'd invest in a sniper rifle and decking myself out like a Space Marine as fast as possible. So this seems like an entirely reasonable route of action, especially after the first encounter with something scary.







Why the fuck does the evil red bloodbad space creature of starterror have tits. Fucking Christ, HSD.







At any rate, the Adversaries chapter is mostly dull statblocks for a bunch of generic furry enemies, the only ones that get anything resembling fluff are Vitae Demons, Pale Men and Whispers. The red-titted wonder up there is a Whisper, while the Edgy Fursona above is a "Vitae Demon." Apparently if you can't feel pain, for instance if you're using Vitae, which also removes all need for nutrition or other things that generally keep a body and mind alive, it makes you go insane. Like, the whole description reeks of them having invented Vitae as a WONDER DRUG but then needing a reason why everyone wasn't just juicing up on it while letting the farms go fallow instead of having to eat, why they didn't just replace oxygen storage aboard spaceships and in spacesuits with it, etc., and they arbitrarily decided that while it keeps your brain alive without oxygen, and thinking without oxygen, and capable of controlling your body without oxygen, it just so also happens to make you go insane if your brain lacks oxygen.



For some vaguely defined reason.



So Vitae Demons are the completely crazy Vitae junkies that despite each vitae hit lasting only an hour, and despite their clearly not being able to function without it, somehow still exist. How are they paying for it? Is someone still hiring them when they're described as amoral sadists who know only violence? Do their Ledgers just keep piling on money for them anyway and corporate vending machines keep pouring out Vitae to sustain them? A Vitae Charge costs 150 credits, the book lists a Vitae Charge being consumed as lasting for "one hour" or "until the end of battle," whichever comes first. So a Vitae Demon, to survive, must apparently need... 3600 credits per day. This is enough to buy multiple Instant Death Cannons and suits of powered armor. So long story short, someone did not think about how the rules and fluff lined up, here.







Transcendent Manifestations are space ghosts. That's basically it, they're space monsterghosts that show up, do things because the plot requires them to and then... disappear? The game doesn't even really have any rules for why they show up, what they do when they do, or what makes them leave again. They don't even get any stats of their own, they just use some of the REAL TOUGH GENERIC GUY templates with some random superpowers slapped on. Also despite being Transcendent Manifestations, they don't actually get any of the space wizardry from Transcendent implants, despite the two being linked by fluff in very vague ways.







We don't learn anything about Whispers that we don't already know, they're bad and spooky and they kill dudes, and when they kill dudes, sometimes those dudes explode into more Whispers. They're also literally made from blood, when they die, they turn from "crystalline blood" back into plain normal blood. Also if you just hide for ten minutes, they'll turn themselves into crystal art installations. Seriously. If they can't find anyone to kill for ten minutes, they just shrug, merge with the nearest Whispers into a big crystal. If you attack the crystal, they all come back out again, but according to the fluff, blowing the whole thing up in one go will negate that. So just call in the Scrooge McDuck Battallion to nuke the fucking thing with their death rays.



Also if they try to infect someone who's got a Transcendent Implant, there's a 12.5% chance that the Whisper trying it, and all Whispers in the area, spontaneously explode. However, if the person with the implant ever tries to use their implant again, they explode, into more Whispers, without a save or any response possible, and if they don't have the requisite combination of stats and/or corporate allegiance to have information about this, the PC will just unknowingly be able to suicide at any moment by deciding to use their superpowers. Fun gameplay!







We also finally get art of the Pale Men... and they look a lot less Slendermanny than I had expected. Despite being TERRIBLE THINGS THAT CAN MURDER EVERYONE, they basically just have high stats and use guns, there's nothing really that unusual about them. The fluff doesn't particularly give them any motives or establish any behavior for them, and since they're all on Earth, which is a shithole no one wants to deal with... I can't really see why they would ever really feature into the game at all.



There's a section on ships which is largely space gun wankery, but does contain a section that's kind of weird. In normal combat, high-charisma characters can issue "commands," that basically buff comrades or allow them to switch places in the turn order, handy things like that, one of the few things I liked about the combat system, but it wasn't unique enough to merit my pointing out. In space combat, stuff like telling the ship to run quiet or telling people to "launch drones," is the counterpart, requires a specific level of charisma and command skill. Even if the "commander" is the one doing the thing themselves, instead of using a Mind stat and some sort of technical skill to know what to do, they still use Body:Presence(physical beauty) and the Command skill. The most complicated SPACE COMMAND is apparently ramming enemy ships, because "ALL POWER TO ENGINES" is clearly a complicated concept that only the most brilliant strategist can understand.



Other things that require a command check: Hitting the brakes and scanning an area.







So, the advancement section! Interestingly enough, the game doesn't run on XP or anything similar, but instead simply suggests giving a certain number of stat-ups/skill-ups/focus options per time played(either in number of hours or number of sessions), of course while this is somewhat novel, there's also no such thing as diminishing returns(more XP needed to be paid for the same amount of boost, for instance) or other things to limit hyper-specialization. It's also worth noting that you can't use these stat-ups to boost Economy and Community stats, and Mind and Body stats can only be raised to 3 this way. How do you get Mind and Body Stats up to 4 and 5? Why that's simple. Surgery! Surgery that you pay for... with ledger stats! It's at least somewhat expensive, being 1500 for a stat-up, either from 3 to 4, or 4 to 5, but it's not that bad if you really focused on your ledger stats. Also for some reason you can boost Body:Acuity by +1 just for 200 credits with an "Augmentation" operation that jams more eyes into your head.



I also somehow missed this, but for just 500 credits, you can get a Celerity implant that "levels up" one of your dice groups(d8's become d10, d10's become d12, etc.). Now, it can only be taken twice, and it has another 600-credit thing as a prereq, but one of our groups is already "maxed" out with d12's, so we only have three that need boosting, and that means we can just stat-dump something like Community and run around with three d12 groups instead pretty fast.



There does in fact not seem to be any surgery for improving your mind, now that I look around for it. There's Muscular Enhancement, and the Advancement section references a "Mind Enhancement" surgery, but it's not in the book as far as I can tell. Not sure if its an editing error or if mental stats really are capped at 3 for PC's.



You also can't increase Community stats at level-up time, only the GM can say when the party as a whole deserves to have them levelled up. But what about Ledger stats? Well. That's kind of funny.



quote:

Economy Traits grow as the player achieves certain conditions. Since your Economy Stat represents your footprint in the cash flow of the universe, it increases on its own as you achieve certain landmarks of wealth and importance.



Consult the following questions, and consider each one to be a separate condition.



Has the player completed three contracts successfully?



Has the player reached allegiance level 4 with a Corp? Temporary allegiance from abilities will not count.



Has the player team purchased a 1000 credit or higher item?



...



If any one of these conditions is true, you may add 1 to any Economy Trait. Once a condition has been met, it must be met again to count again. If you’ve reached allegiance level 4 in a corp or your team has purchased a 1000 credit item, you must reach it with a different corp or purchase a new one to receive the bonus again.




So, let me get this straight. If I start out by buffing my Ledger stats sky high, quickly earn 1000 credits, buy a death ray, then I get a boost to my Ledger stats, which will allow me to buy more death rays, or other stupidly expensive items(I guess it could be taken as meaning a different item each time, but I only need one Annihilate-status weapon, anyway). So it's like some sort of self-sustaining reaction where the richer I am, the faster I'll get richer. Then I'll use my normal level-ups to bump my body stats to 3 as fast as possible, so I can pay money to boost them even quicker... actually, surgery counts as an item, right? So hey, I'll get a ledger bonus for increasing my body stats under the scalpel, too!



This system is fucking stupid.



Also if you want the body/mind stat boosts you have to make a case to your GM that your character did something that made you deserve said stat boost. Hope your GM isn't a cockhead.



But what about proficiencies? Simple, you buy a trivial item that teaches you while you sleep. Seriously. As long as you get enough sleep for 14 days while wearing your stupid sleep-learning eye implant, you gain a proficiency point with no costs, penalties or checks, though it caps any given skill at 3(or 2, if you already have too many skills at 3). Considering that the item is of trivial cost, I'm kind of wondering why not everyone in the fucking universe has a baseline of 2 in every skill.



There are 30 skills, you can get up to at least 2 in all of them, 16 days per skill point(14 days of learning plus a two-day downtime period afterwards), meaning it'd take... 960 weeks, or 18 years, for it. So by the time everyone is out of their teenage years, they'll pretty much know everything, or early 20's if they don't make "Neuroplex" implants for toddlers.



Going above rank 3 requires "a special quest themed around the skill." I look forward to my exciting and inspiring Finance-themed quest my amazing quest themed around the "Swim" skill. Advancing above rank 3 also frees up another skill to rise to rank 3... players have the same max on rank 4 skills as on rank 3 skills. Rather than, perhaps, some sort of shared cap for "advanced" skills(anything beyond tier 2), indicating the difficulty of mastering everything. It's. Augh. It hurts my brain and it's fucking retarded.



And then the book just... ends. No metaplot suggestions, no premade adventures, nothing. Except for the list of fuckwits who supported the thing, accompanied by two last pieces of art crammed in alongside all the names.



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 9
03:35am EDT - 8/04/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones



Scrooge McDuck: Capitalist Space Marine







So last time we discovered that simply pouring all your skill points into physical stats let you effectively murder anything you could get close to, up to and including the setting's supposed horrifying big bads that killed everyone on Luna. And you could do this as a gecko. But what if you didn't ignore all your ledger stats? What could you do then? Could you, perhaps, get a "V-801 Mag-Lance," a weapon with the attribute "Annihilate," which means the weapon does a staggering total of 1000 damage. In a line, counting off damage for every object(like cover) or enemy in that line, until all 1000 points are spent or all objects and characters along the line's passage which are hit, are eradicated?



That's a good question. The Mag Lance costs 1000 credits. It also has a size of "LAN" or "Lift-Assistance Needed," which means we can't move-and-shoot with it in the same turn without a Body:Strength of five, only achievable with a suit of powered armor(at least at chargen). It doesn't matter much since the Mag Lance specifically requires you to stand still to fire it anyway, but since the best suit of powered armor in the game, enough to let us actually survive a round of beatings from El Gecko(but not two rounds of it), only costs 500, we may as well see if we can get that, too. So our goal is to see how fast it's possible to milk 1500 credits out of the game's shitty Ledger mechanics.



So anyway, let's get started. Obviously we're going to be Family: Avialae, which gives us a +1 to Body: Acuity and lets us fly. Sadly, the closest we'll get in Species is simply Bird, so we're a Bird Bird who happens to look duck-like. Our "Morphism" will simply be the plantigrade/digitigrade one that means we look perfectly normal and don't freak anyone out.



pre:
                 Body(D8)/Mind(D10)/Community(D10)/Ledger(D12)

Dexterity * /***/* /*
Acuity ** /***/* /***
Resilience * /* /* /***
Strength ***/* /* /***
Presence * /* /* /***
On the left side of our stat spread, we pick up some Strength so we can carry our huge gun, we then grab some Mind:Dexterity and Mind:Acuity, the former lets us make more attacks in a round(assuming we have enough points in our Battle Pool) and also improves our initiative, while the latter lets us actually have a chance of hitting stuff, and also increases the range we can hit at. On the right side, obviously, we attempt to crank our moneymaking to maximum. We ignore Economy:Dexterity since all we can use it for is rerolls, while the others let us maximize our rolls.



So how much does this min/maxing actually get us to start with?



Our Ledger Score is Econ:Presence + Econ:Strength, so 6. Our starting cash is three rolls of (1d8*Ledger Score)+30, so minimally 114, maximally 234. Not quite enough to start out with a Mag Lance, admittedly. How many sessions would it take us to actually afford our instakill weapon, though?



quote:

Ledger Balance: Roll an Economy die and add your Ledger Score to the result; every dot you have in Economy is worth that many credits today.Add them all up and add the result to your Credit total.




So we get between 91 and 234 credits at the end of every session, simply as a default. On top of that, we can gamble with our profits by rolling Econ:Resilience and/or Econ:Acuity + Finance, with the former multiplying our Ledger Score by number of successes(every roll over 8), and the latter doing the same, but for our final profit result. We're obviously going to max out our Finance, so all our rolls are 1d12+3, meaning that it's basically impossible for us to get 0 successes on either roll and no multipliers whatsoever, and relatively likely that we'll get a multiplier of 2.



Assuming we just get average luck on our very first roll and get two multipliers of 2? 338 to 624 credits at the end of a session. Meaning that even if we completely flub most of the rolls involved, within three or four sessions(or less, if we get lucky, and it wouldn't even require getting that lucky) we could be hauling around an instakill weapon that can take down every pre-generated enemy in the setting and pretty much anything else the GM can generate. Give us a couple more sessions and we can be firing our weapon from a suit of powered armor that's basically like having our very own mech. Firing the weapon requires not having made any "move actions" the turn you're firing, or the turn prior, meaning that, going by the rules as written, you can just start firing on the first round of combat. The description makes it sound as though you need to spend an action setting up the weapon, but the rules for it don't actually require that, simply that you're not moving. So even in the middle of a fight, you can spend two turns firing off some other weapon, without moving, and then fire the Mag Lance, or you can simply fire the Mag Lance on the first round of combat since, with it being the first round, you haven't actually made any actions in the rounds before. And once we fire the weapon, it's basically all over for anyone we're firing it at, since even under the worst of possible circumstances(highest cover bonus), we've got about an 80% chance of hitting someone, and enough damage points to destroy an armored bunker and whoever's inside.



There's also some extremely poorly worded rules about our attacks being disrupted if we get hit in the round before we act(but since we don't declare our actions until our turn, we can just do something else if we get hit), but the way it's phrased "if you take hit point damage," suggests that as long as its our armor getting knocked around, and not us, we're still in the clear. And having our mecha power armor destroyed in one round would require a GM so out to get us that any fuckery we do within the realm of the rules would be meaningless anyway.



On top of all of that, the fact that we can also fly and buy powered armor to basically make us invisible is kind of chump change.



As mentioned, they also tucked away all of the cybernetics and surgery after the rules/combat chapter, for some reason, which I can kind of understand, because it's hugely underwhelming, even compared to the rest of the book. There are barely modifications, and about a third of them are basically cosmetic, while the remainder come with huge drawbacks or offer you stuff that you can get much cheaper just by buying it(like having built-in armor. Have fun paying twice as much as you would for powered armor that's three times as effective and boosts your stats, too!). Then there are the Reclaiming Surgeries, which vary between the neat and the retarded, but are mostly only things that Laterals would bother with(because they get them for free). Now, keep in mind, as I mentioned earlier, the fluff for all of the "Reclaiming Surgeries" is that they're about re-activating genes that your particular brand of animal had back when it was still an animal, and not an anthro thing, so...



Since when have dogs had genetically superior work ethic and healing saliva? Because those are some of the things they can recover with Reclaiming Surgeries. Also note that while dogs get these chump change boosts, reptiles get to be poisonous, scale sheer walls and regenerate lost limbs. So much for game balance.















Of course, I also promised you that there'd be space wizards in these chapters beyond the rules chapters, and damn straight, there are space wizards or, as the game calls it, "Transcendent Implants." Unfortunately, you can't even build your concept about being a space wizard or starting as one, the highest possible starting allegiance for a corporation is 2, and they require 4 before you can buy any, meaning that it's basically entirely down to GM benevolence whether you ever will have access to them, especially since only one corporation sells them. After getting one, it's also entirely possible that it'll be randomly locked at a power level where using it is literally suicidal.



Implants function at "Cuil"-levels, the higher the level, the stronger the effect(and the stronger the side effects), at level 5, using it means you die or stop being a PC in some fashion, usually in a very dramatic way. Your implant's Cuil level, at implantation, is decided by rolling 1d10-(Mind:Presence+Body:Presence), with a maximum result of five. Keep in mind that while Mind:Presence sort of makes sense for this, as it's effectively your "spiritual wholeness"-stat, Body:Presence does not make even a whit of sense for this, as it's your "physical beauty"-stat. But hey, sure, I guess being really fucking pretty makes you good at harnessing the POWER OF THE STAR GODS or whatever the shit this stuff is.



You also have a 1 in 4 chance of the implant you getting spontaneously turning into another implant after installation. Just because fuck you, dear player, for wanting to have fun with space magic.



Did I mention that some environmental effects, critical failures and Transcendent Implant usages can also escalate Cuil levels? Because self-destructing meaninglessly is what translates to "fun!"



quote:

If you took a Transcendent Implant and did not have enough Trait points to prevent the chance of a Cuil 5 implant, you leaped into this a little earlier than you should have. None the less, it is the character’s choice if they want to use their implant or not, and it could lead to a rather spectacular end depending on the situation. You can still use the small, utilitarian functions of your implant even if it’s Cuil 5, but if something should occur to force its activation, the You that was will be no more.




quote:

if something should occur to force its activation, the You that was will be no more




Man, who doesn't just love even more chances of random death?



But just to make things better, you don't always have to be at Cuil 5 to have your implant be useless and/or fatal to use! Let's take the Translocation implant, for instance. At Cuil 1 it lets you teleport(note, though, that as far as I can tell, the combat chapter doesn't seem to explicitly note what kind of action using these implants is. Is it movement? Offense? Standard? Support?) a given number of hexes in a fight. At Cuil 2, the same, but with a chance of being a bit off on your location. At Cuil 3, it drags along everything around you and the minimum warp distance is 10 miles... on a roll of 1 on the scatter die, you arrive a mile under your target location, if you arrive inside something solid, you die. Better hope you're teleporting to somewhere with a lot of caves. At Cuil 4...



quote:

4 Cuils: You and everything around you in a 100 foot radius translocate to an extreme location.

Roll a d10.

1-2: Earth

3-4: Mars

5-6:Venus

7-8: Random inhabited Jovian moon

9-10: Space

Once you arrive at your target world, refine your position using the rules in the previous Cuil. If you roll 9 or 10, roll the dice again to determine which planet’s orbit you arrive in. If you roll a 9 or 10 twice, you don’t arrive in an orbit at all. Your character arrives in the black with no point of reference, perhaps not even in the same solar system, and is effectively lost forever.




We've confirmed that Earth would be suicide to arrive on(unless you're El Gecko or Scrooge McDuck five sessions into the game, anyway). Mars, Venus and an inhabited Jovian moon are alright, empty interplanetary space is basically the same as death, pretty much. Of course, you may also get 9-10 twice and get warped out of the game, or the Cuil 3 rules might dump you inside solid rock or something. Fucking, awesome, right?



Excitation, or Pyrokinesis, at Cuil 4, has a 25% chance of throwing your mind into the void after briefly turning you into a fire elemental. Excitation, or Telekinesis, has a 37.5% chance of instantly destroying your body if you touch anything after activating it at Cuil 4. And on, and on, and fucking on. Most of the powers are handy at Cuil 1, useable with danger at Cuil 2, then at Cuil 3, some of them remain useful while others are basically game-ruining/character-ruining, and Cuil 4 are pretty much always fatal or have a really high chance of being fatal, just in a slightly less instantaneous way than Cuil 5.



And remember, just a single one of these shit-tastic implants costs 1500 Credits, as much as it would cost Scrooge McDuck to become a living tank with the Annihilate-effect weapon that, I'll just remind you, can't backfire and wipe him out of reality.



So, they managed to somehow make a version of the psionics from Eclipse Phase which are even more useless to the player, despite largely involving the cool, reality-breaking exsurgent shit that you wished your PC could get to play with. That's a fucking accomplishment!











I feel like I've been reviewing this fucking game forever. But thankfully we should be down to just one fucking post after this, one last post of shitty art and shittier writing.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 8
03:54am EDT - 8/03/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

Fursona Construction Simulator v1.0







Character Creation



Alright, let's see how badly we can break this game. The orders were for one combat monster(Lateral), one money monster(Scrooge McDuck) and one Total Fursona Nightmare(as many Morphisms as possible, Taur and Multiple-tails required). I'll start off with a detailed run-through of my Lateral Reptile(Gecko) character, and I'll probably breeze over the others a bit more. We'll start from the order the book presents things, so first Family, Reptilia, which contributes +1 die to Body: Resilience(though it doesn't let us go above 3 at chargen, so it's not really that noteworthy since we're not THAT hurting for points to share around) and a +2(a static +2, not a die, mind) to rolls to resist poison and disease. For Species, we're obviously a Gecko, so we get a (static) +1 to Medicine(but why, anyway? Are Geckos in any way stereotypically related to health or anything?) and two further +1's that we can share around as we please.



Now, I'd like to note that literally every species gets a "+1 to X, +2 other proficiencies of your choice," so why not just give them all a +1 to X and then have the "+2 to proficiencies of your choice" in the generic chargen sections that apply to everyone? Augh.



And then there's Lateralism, which gives us -1(dice, not static) to Community:Presence checks, but only conditionally, so I guess it's up to the GM if anyone finds us unappealing for looking like a normal animal, and a -3(static, in this case) to the generically named "Operate" for anything that's not specifically made for us to use.



We get three of our family-specific "Reclaiming Surgeries" for free, and, having read ahead, the "reclaiming surgeries" are basically a bunch of stuff related to the animal's pre-furrification form that give bonuses. For reptiles, some of them are pretty rad. Nobody gets attacks of opportunity against us, so we can run right up to someone and suplex them, this pleases me, and we get an "automatic +1 cover bonus." Since I haven't read up on combat, I have no idea if this is bonus dice or a static bonus or what the hell it is. But I'm guessing it's good.





El Gecko with his favourite futuristic weapon: a folding chair



With that out of the way, we can start cracking on the raw numbers. Obviously our D12 is going to be assigned to our Body stats, El Gecko is a legend among brawlers, D10's for Mind and Community, and the D8 for Ledger, because El Gecko cares not about money, only justice and sick suplexes. Five of our eight dots for the Body/Mind side of things go to pushing Dexterity, Resilience and Strength up to three dots each(each starts at a free one, we get another one for free in Resilience from being a reptile), a further two go to Presence, because what's the point of a wrestler if he's not flashy, ridiculous and attention-grabbing? And the last goes into Acuity because we want to see enemies.



Our Mind stats are solid 1's because El Gecko has taken a lot of blows to the head from folding chairs over the years. Ledger also gets left entirely at 1, because El Gecko is too stupid to realize his corporate agent has been ripping him off on contracts ever since he was first signed up, and that leaves our six free dots on that side of things to be assigned to Community. We pick Acuity, Strength and Presence to get our dots since El Gecko is all about raw charisma, not about subtle maneuvering or figuring things out.



As is my habit by this point, I'd also love to point out all the potential character builds/concepts the system prevents. Remember that the 8/6 has to be assigned Body+Mind or Community+Ledger. So you can't, for instance, make a rich and popular celebrity, because anything applied to Community stuff(popularity) would make you poorer(Ledger). Likewise, anyone strong is basically draining away his brains. So you couldn't, for instance, make a poor and somewhat socially awkward(due to isolation) ascetic who's been meditating, training and studying for some task for the last five years.



pre:
                 Body(D12)/Mind(D10)/Community(D10)/Ledger(D8)

Dexterity ***/* /* /*
Acuity ** /* /***/*
Resilience ***/* /* /*
Strength ***/* /***/*
Presence ***/* /***/*
At this point we can start calculating a bunch of derived stats... the calculations for which were unhelpfully and pointlessly presented at the very start of the chapter, before we got into any numbers of any sort, but which are, helpfully, reproduced on the character sheet.



Hit Points: 60

Readiness: 2(I think this is our Initiative)

Movement: 6

Nerve: 10

Range: 6



Mind Dodge: 2

Mind Resist: 2

Body Dodge: 5(Edit from Future Purple: Despite what anyone might think, no, this isn't actually used in combat at all, except against grenades. You can't actually DODGE attacks at all.)

Body Resist: 6



Thankfully we have no fucking clue what any of these numbers really mean, as all we've been told so far is really the difficulty for beating an unopposed roll(get 8 or above, with modifiers, on one of the dice we roll).



Next up, proficiencies! While our raw dots in something decide how many dice we roll, proficiencies are the static modifiers applied to all of our rolls. First we pick one corporation, and assign eight points to their allowed proficiencies. Then we pick a second, and assign six points to their allowed proficiencies. We also get +1 to a specific proficiency from our species, and a further +2 proficiency points to assign from it, but it appears there's no limitation on where we can assign those. We also can't have more proficiencies at 3, than we have dots in Mind:Strength, and nothing can be at 4 or higher at chargen.



Now, they fucked this part up a bit, because there's basically no proficiency you can't find by just taking two different corporations during chargen(fluff-wise they're the ones you've been raised by and worked for, respectively), yet MarsCo's entire "thing" is that they have access to all proficiencies... but none of them can be raised above two. There's literally no reason to pick MarsCo at all, it's 100% disadvantage. It's also a POINTLESS disadvantage, since at most you can have three proficiencies at 3 at chargen, and you can just raise those proficiencies, most likely only one or two, with the proficiency points you get from another corp and then pick all of your others from MarsCo! It's stupid.



Anyway, we go with Pulse because we're a jock, and raise "CQC"(Close Quarters Combat, apparently the catch-all melee/brawl skill) to three, or "Masterful," rating. None of the other skills seem particularly relevant to being a combat character at all(except for Ranged Combat, but obviously we won't be using that with El Gecko), so I'll save the proficiency points there for later in case it turns out that any of them have any actual combat application. Now, I'd like to point out that Operate is one of the proficiencies here, and that you can casually increase that to a +3 at chargen. Laterals get a -3 to Operate for anything not made for them, and that's applied to all laterals, whether they're snakes, dogs or whatever. With three d12 in whatever stat Operate uses, and the proficiency and penalty cancelling each other out, you've got a ~75% chance of success, meaning that a snake or a ferret can operate heavy industrial machinery about as well as a trained operator on most days.



I'm not sure if it's to their credit that it's possible to circumvent hard-set penalties and do ridiculous shit if you want to, or if it's the devs' failure that they made their supposed hard penalties so easily avoided.



We also get nebulous "allegiance points" for the corporations that we choose to have been raised by or been related to, but as most other things in this chargen so far, we really don't know the impact or importance of anything we're doing, but we're informed that it's on a scale of -5(worst enemy of a given corp) to +5(Board of directors!). Considering that +3 is the minimum necessary to be EMPLOYED, that's a very narrow fucking hierarchy of power. Not much room for middle management.



quote:

Being an Employee of a megacorp as a player character is a little different than being a general, run of the mill corporate peon. Player characters are always considered valuable assets, and are held on retainer rather than being put behind a desk all day, which leaves them free to pursue their own interests until they’re needed.




Yes, this is what being employed is like.



But anyway, chargen isn't over yet! Now we have to pick a "Focus!" Skills are organized into five more or less arbitrary groups(for instance, CQC, Ranged Combat, Security and Survival are in the "Combat" group, but stuff like Athletics or Sneak, which would most certainly be relevant to a combat situation, definitely more so than Survival, a skill for surviving in rough terrain, are in the "Generic" group. Booksmarts is in the Science group, but not in the Engineering group. Streetsmarts are Generic, rather than Communication, and so on.). For each skill in a group that you have at 3 or higher, you can get a Focus Ability!



Focus Abilities are a bunch of abilities that can be used Once Per X, anything from once per Day to once per Combat to once per Session(a terrible measure, mind, some groups have short sessions, others have very long ones. And Days are shitty measures, too, some adventures have barely one encounter per day, others have dozens in short, compressed spans of time). The large majority of the abilities outside of the Communications group are all combat-related, though, having little roleplay use, and the Communications abilities can be mostly described as "how to make the GM hate you utterly," since they largely amount to "social mind control," that allows you to effectively brainwash NPC's without really having plans or arguments to back it up, and just go wherever and do whatever.



And, once again, this whole chapter is full of numerical bonuses that we still don't know the worth of. Is a potential +3 to damage for an entire fight worth it? Overpowered? Tiny? We don't know, because we have no idea how much damage anything does yet. What is a "Battle Pool," even, and why would I want a bonus to it? Some concepts can be deciphered just by their name, but what the fuck is a "Battle Pool"? And of course there's also the usual paragraph-to-paragraph inconsistency we've come to know and love. An ability that temporarily boosts your Allegiance with a corporation to (by investing money from your ledger in them, and how, again, do we do that, if ledgers are all automated?) 3 gives you some pull with them and describes you as an "investor," but that doesn't make sense since we've been told that 3 is the bare minimum required to be an entry-level employee, so why would that give you any pull or interest to them at all, especially when the description states that they "know investors are temporary"? So it's effectively the same as them giving a temporary data entry monkey access to corporate benefits.



Actually taking any of these abilities before you've read how combat works or what equipment does wouldn't make any sense, so we'll put that on hold temporarily



Now we hit the "Ledger" part, i.e. how to figure out your starting funds. You add two of your Ledger stats together, roll 1d8 multiplied by that, and add 30. This is your starting money for weapons and armor, roll it again for your starting money for "general items"(what's a general item? Anything not gear and armor? What about implants that have offensive or defensive functions?) and roll it a third time for your starting savings, that you aren't allowed to use at chargen... but can use after the first session or whenever your GM arbitrarily states that you're allowed to. It's supposed to prevent players from making "too big" purchases right at the start of the game, but unless the GM rushes players into somewhere out on the cold fringes of civilization right away, I can't see how this would prevent the players from just saving some money for after the first session. It's stupid.



Also "any money not spent goes to your general funds," so, again, you can ignore their arbitrary start-up purchase categories and just save your money, then spend the first session going shopping(or second, if your GM is going to be retarded and follow the advice about restricting the savings).



How do we get more money? Our Ledger makes us more money at the end of literally every session. We roll a single Economy die(so if we've got our D12 in Economy, one of those), add our ledger score(those two stats added together from earlier, Econ:Strength and Econ:Presence) and then multiply it by the total number of dots we have in Economy. We can also make an Econ:Resilience+Finance and/or Econ:Acuity+Finance check. For every die we get on that which is 8 or higher(I assume that's what it means by "number of successes, since it's not been defined yet"), we get a success, and we multiply by number of successes(and if we get zero successes, multiply by zero, you fail). This is kind of a terrible decision if you've not focused in Economy, but it could basically mean that after a couple of lucky rolls from the first session, you've quadrupled or quintupled your starting funds and are now ridiculously rich.



There's an alternative rule which gives every player 75 credits, flat, at the end of every session instead of rolling for it. This, hilariously enough, basically invalidates all your Ledger stats and completely lopsides the entire chargen system by cutting out a quarter of it. Brilliant game design.



Anyway, on to Equipment! A category that already gives us some incredibly retarded things from basically the first page, like the Cleansweep(tm), made for Search and Rescue teams. It indicates lifeforms... and, on purpose, doesn't indicate where those lifeforms are, since it would make the search-and-rescue teams be lazy and not thoroughly sweep everything, if they could just, you know, head straight to whoever's trapped in the fucking burning building or buried under the avalanche or whatever. Jesus Christ. The book even calls this design "annoying, but a good decision," yet never justifies why it was a good decision.



There's also a bunch of stuff I can't see why a PC would ever need, like a "Flowform Generator," that allows you to levitate water, and that's literally it. It's a bulky, complicated device that allows you to fling water into the air and keep it there, which, I guess, might be handy if you're fighting enemies in a boat or something, or if everyone can swim, you could make a hugely obvious set of stairs to let you swim to/from something, though since it caps out at 30 feet of height, I can't really imagine it being easier than just finding a fucking ladder, and since it's huge and obvious it won't be useful for stealthily circumventing something. The field is also complicated to reposition, so it doesn't have any use as a portable device for drowning enemies or anything of that sort. And no, sadly, it must be from "pools at least a foot deep," we can't use it to levitate the water inside people and throw them all into the air then run past.



Remember how being a limbless or fingerless/thumbless lateral was supposed to come with disadvantages? Nope, for a tiny price(20 credits) that literally anyone can pay at chargen, you can have a telekinesis hat that allows you to glue guns to your head and push buttons(or pull triggers), albeit at short range, with your mind.



But most of the "general" category of equipment is frankly pretty forgettable, unless you really want to keep track of how many tents you've got or how many months' worth of rent you can pay. I have seriously yet to experience the gaming session that was made more exciting by figuring out whether the PC's could pay for their apartment or not. El Gecko doesn't care until we get to the weapons chapter, browsing through like fifty descriptions of futuristic assault rifles and reaching the "Hard Edge," which does our Body:Strength + 3 in damage(6, or maybe 7 to 14, because for some reason Hard Edges, despite being melee weapons, have an "ammo damage" listed as well, of d8, even though they don't actually use any ammo, being swords. I have no idea if its a misprint or intentional because it makes them pretty unambiguously the best possible weapon without even being the most expensive or hard to acquire), costs 50(the max we can start with among our three rolls is 168, but since we're already min/maxing a combat monster, obviously we rerolled until we got three maxed rolls while the GM was distracted) credits and is available from all corporations. We just choose that we aren't buying anything with our funds, El Gecko doesn't pay rent because he's always looking for new opponents to fight, and start the very first session by hitting up the nearest BuySpot to grab one, fluffed as looking like a folding chair with really sharp corners. We also glue the Vibrox boost to it for 20 credits, allowing it to basically ignore most armors and chip away at the remainder.



(Also, while all the generic gear, like drug injectors and tents, notes whether Micros/Taurs/Laterals can use it, or whether it costs more for them, nothing, at any point, makes such a distinction for weapons and armor, so presumably any dog can carry a Percussion Hammer in its teeth and wear power armor to make the Brotherhood of Steel jealous)



Speaking of armor, said chapter makes some annoying omissions that seem to refer to rules that were edited out at some point. Living Armor, for instance, can sometimes freak out and act on its own, rather than doing what you want it to(either berserking or sprinting for cover), and it says that when it does this, it uses its own stats, not necessarily yours. Yet at no point are its stats, or which specific stats it overrides, listed. It does work interestingly, though, rather than just being a static wall of defense, armor is a raw pool of extra hit points, which can be destroyed or worn down. This is actually something I'm a fan of, since it prevents annoying issues from other games where you need to make sure armor isn't so big that it makes half the party's attacks plink off while also keeping it high enough that the other half of the party can't just one-shot the big bad. Here, everyone can contribute to knocking chunks off of armor, and armor that doesn't give 100% coverage can still let "status effects" seep through.







Feeling relatively positive about these mechanics I then try to read the combat chapter and start feeling dizzy and nauseous due to the shitty organization of it. I'm still not entirely sure I understand how combat works, but... first, we look at our Readiness, one Body die + Readiness is our initiative score, highest always goes first, every round. 6+Readiness is how many things we can do in one round, some things eat up more than one point from this "Battle Pool"(and the number of times we can do a given action in a round is also limited by stats, stupid people, for instance, can only make one attack action per round, even though they can jog all over the battlefield) There's also a "Nerve Pool," a morale rating for each side, and if it drops too low for NPC's, they run, but... actually it's entirely meaningless to calculate or keep track of for players, it turns out, because the rules specifically say that the PC's can just elect that they're fighting on despite their Nerve Pool hitting zero. Why even HAVE this mechanic except for the hardcore grogs who MUST HAVE RULES for everything? There's even a paragraph later on pointing out that you can just go ahead and scrap the Nerve Pool entirely, but...



quote:

This system was designed to grant players a unique RPG combat experience in which caution and discretion is rewarded, rather than encouraging players and enemies to just rush into oncoming bullets with insane courage and kill whatever it is that’s bothering them at the time.




You're clearly murderhobo-loving swine if you want to play without the Nerve Pool.



There are also some surprises, for instance, ranged combat always uses Mind:Acuity as its stat, it doesn't matter how good your eyesight is, or how dexterous you are, or anything of the sort. All it takes is a stat previously described as...



quote:

Mind:Acuity represents your ability to perceive patterns. In everything. Hidden messages in code, connections between events, whether or not someone is related to someone else by virtue of their physical appearance. It also allows you to notice things others may miss. Often used in examining speech or text, this is typically combined with Booksmarts, Investigation or Spot to notice specific things about what you’re looking at. It is not used to physically locate something in a room.




Pattern-recognition. Pattern-recognition is the most important skill for firing a gun and hitting a target.



But, you know, who gives a damn about that. We've got a MELEE COMBATANT, here. After parsing the poorly written rules, I see that because we're stupid, we can only attack once per round, though we can sprint pretty well across the battlefield to bop the shit out of someone, also due to our huge Body:Dexterity, we roll 1d12+3 four times, and each result of 8 or greater is a hit. There's no dodging, or dodge skill, for melee. Or for ranged combat, for that matter, it appears that using cover is the only defensive action applicable to anything. I also think whoever designed the mechanic has played too many videogames, because you use cover by expending "defensive actions" to give enemies a penalty to hit you(assuming their shots would have to travel past the cover you're behind), but you get a penalty to your own attacks as well if you expend defensive actions before you make attacks, but since no one can attack you on your turn(barring you provoking attacks of opportunity by rushing past them), why not just assume that characters only actually take cover at the very end of their turn? Rather than adding a stupid GOTCHA rule if some STUPID NEWBIE does his actions in the wrong order?



In general a lot of the rules have weird things going on, two-weapon fighting, for instance, lets you reroll any of your main-hand weapon's attack dice, rather than giving you a boost to damage or letting you roll even more attacks, but warns that you "have to abide by the second roll." Which is weird, because you don't have to reroll the whole pool, by the wording, and there's no separation between a good success and a middling success, it's just a success, so just reroll the failures and leave the rest unrerolled. Also it doesn't care at all what your off-hand weapon is, as long as you have the Body:Dexterity and CQC needed to wield it, so you could pick up a stick and wave it around in your off-hand and still get the bonus.



Anyway, we've got four rolls that each have roughly a 75% chance to succeed, which means that we can easily succeed on 3 of them most of the time, at which point they do 7 to 14 points of damage each, for an average attack of 21 to 42 points of damage, with a further +3 to each attack that hits because we're a Lateral, which gives us a bonus bite as part of every succesful attack, jumping our damage from 30 to 51. This doesn't tell us a lot, but even the game's toughest armor for PC's only has 160 HP, and the average is closer to 40 or 50, meaning that EL GECKO can sprint up to enemies and shatter their expensive powered armor with a swing or two from his folding chair without much effort(or, actually, I remember, just plain IGNORE their armor if it's under 50, due to the Vibrox modification for his weapon, which most armor in the game is, or will be after the first hit or two). If we have an old branch in our off-hand, or a lead pipe or a small flag, anything that counts as a weapon to cheese the two-weapon rules, we can pretty much guarantee four hits per round, increasing us to 40 to 65 damage.



Taking a glance ahead to the "Adversaries" chapter, it's entirely possible for El Gecko to two-shot one of the supposedly near-undefeatable enemies of the setting, the "Whispers," or one-shot the "Palemen" that supposedly killed everyone who tried to investigate what was happening on Earth. The Whispers can do a pretty dangerous level of offense, but the weapons they're wielding are classed as "Medium" and hence can't parry El Gecko's "Hard Edge Folding Chair" which is classed as "Large." So it's pretty much down to whoever win's initiative whether he just wades into combat and smacks them around casually. In a shocking twist of the game devs actually remembering Laterals are around, they note that Laterals can't carry shields and weapons at the same time... unless they buy the aforementioned "magnet helmet" and attach the shield to it, suddenly making El Gecko with a large shield the equivalent to a mobile bunker(between the shield and his cover bonus for being a Lateral, enemies suddenly need a 12, not an 8, to hit him, meaning that a large number of enemies simply won't be ABLE to hit him at all. They'd need at the very least to be rolling D10's, and even then they'd need +2 or +3 on their Ranged Combat to land a hit, in melee the shield just works as an extra pool of HP), dual-wielding a stick in his teeth and a folding chair implausibly held in both front paws.



Also, in case you're about to call this post "ridiculous" for letting a gecko wield weapons... I'd like to point out that the "Lateral" morphism does not deny them the option to wield weapons and even, specifically, mentions them using weapons.



This is also what he can do prior to me taking a look at armor, cybernetics, reclaiming surgeries and magic, which would probably make him completely ridiculous even with the minimal money his Ledger stats would let him earn in a dozen or so sessions before the GM would start throwing the setting's "big bads" at the party.



It also turns out that Laterals, arbitrarily, can't grapple at all, except against other laterals, which seems bizarre to me, because some of the most dangerous animal attacks I've heard about, involve animals(like, say, alligators or crocodiles) latching on a human with their teeth and dragging them around, perhaps underwater, or just trapping them in a murderous, crushing bite.



And yes, in case you're wondering they put the huge rules/combat chapters in between the chargen/equipment chapters and the chapters with more chargen stuff like Reclaiming Surgery, cybernetics and becoming a Furry Space Wizard. Yes, this game has space magic, of course it does, we'll get to it.



I think this makes a pretty good initial case for them not having playtested their system worth shit, though. Next time, we'll see if Scrooge McDuck can somehow get the weapon with the "Annihilate" attribute(does 1000 damage worth to any target hit, or anything in between the weapon and the target. The strongest enemy and the strongest armor combined result in 260HP) from chargen or within a few sessions of it.



Edited to a URL instead of an in-post image because I realized it contained some furry ass that someone's boss might not appreciate seeing if he happened to glance over their shoulder. Not spectacularly NSFW, but still, just in case.

http://i.imgur.com/sjSeUMs.jpg

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 7
04:24pm EDT - 8/02/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

This post contains art of Mormon Charizard







Morphisms



So, in case everyone blocked it out, this setting has weird body shapes. I mean, weirder than being a cat or whatever, shit like "taurs." This is the chapter that has all of the weird deformities you can end up with, though you can bet that the amount actual treated as deformities with drawbacks are probably going to be minimal. We also can't just be Jeff Jenkins, Dog Detective Dude(Pththya, I want to point out that I made this comment before I saw your post, and only saw you when I previewed, so that's some weird fucking hivemind), we have to pick a wacky physical trait. This is an RPG about being human, guys. Each deformity has a drawback, a perk and a "momentum trigger," i.e. if you do a thing in combat, it "triggers" your "momentum" and you get a momentum boost, which is some temporary advantage. Some are generic, some are just weird and meaningless.



quote:

You must pick a Morphism, but if you don’t want to have any of the anatomically bizarre ones, take note of the first option: Plantigrade/ Digitigrade. All this does is describe whether your character walks on feet that look somewhat human (with the heel on the ground) or on paw-like toes. Pick the one most suited to your mental image and your Morphism requirement has been met.




So anyway. Let's go through the list!



Plantigrade/Digitigrade: For some reason, having normal person/animal person legs just makes you better at fighting and gives you more proficiency points. I don't know why. This is just how the setting works.



Atypical Patterning: You look real wacky, refer to the below image just for how fucking wacky you turn out. Looking like a GOFFYCK RAVER FURRY means you're camouflaged, no matter what your pattern is, as long as you're really acrobatic in fights, attacking enemies and then running away from them again. I'll also note that all of these weird deformities run with the whole "have a quote from each family of animal," despite them not being able to be stereotyped, and the ferret ones remain annoyingly fishmalky/hyperactive.







Hemivector: You look more human than most! Because humans are inferior to furries, you're more fragile, obviously, yet because humans are also sinister and deceitful, you become better at lying to people and talking them into things. Sneaky humans.



How did THAT get here?: Despite us being told about how the Vectors CLEANED UP THEIR GENES and MADE THEM MORE EFFICIENT, some weird mutation popped up in you anyway, and you get to mix and match animal traits. So you can be an alligator with feathery wings, a bird with fangs or something otherwise weird. It notes that these modifications are "non-functional," i.e. entirely cosmetic, and then a paragraph later notes that it just takes one brief doctor's visit and they become totally functional. Unless you actually do that, though, it's entirely a drawback that just makes you slower and, for some reason, it makes you a better wrestler/grappler in combat.





Mormon Charizard wants to tell you about Jesus



Hybrid: This finally explains a term I never really noticed much, earlier in the text, and hence skipped over. "Mutt-Reduction," which is a thing that means that while two given species can bang, and have kids, the kids won't look like a weird mix of the two, but instead purely inherits one parent's traits, appearance and family. Sometimes it fouls up, though, and the RACIAL PURITY of the Furry Space Future is despoiled, resulting in a Hybrid. It also means that anyone from either of your two parent species dislikes you, because RACIAL PURITY is good. The only advantage is that you get to pay for more "Gene Refreshment" boosts later on, whatever they are, I guess we'll learn. The "momentum" advantage for this one is the same as for the prior deformity, being "YOU ARE GOOD AT WRESTLING IF YOU PUNCH PEOPLE THREE TIMES IN A ROW."



Lateral: Remember those unfortunate furries that ended up with plain animal bodies because no one would do the merciful thing and abort them while they were in the tubes? This is them.



quote:

Being a tiny Gecko could be useful, but it also makes you rather vulnerable to boots. Lateralism affords the greatest advantage to disadvantage ratio of any of the Morphisms present here. Being able to slip through air ducts as a ferret or run at a cheetah’s true speed could be tremendously useful. But at the same time, you don’t have fingers or thumbs and you don’t stand upright. Consider your day to day tasks, and how many of them would be affected by even those simple changes.




Clearly the best use for this deformity would be to fluff your character as a pack of tiny geckos in a trenchcoat or suit who pretend to be a normal animal person. But I doubt the game would let you do anything quite that fun.



quote:

It’s worth noting, for the sake of roleplay and general association, that Laterals wear clothing. Despite the relative inconvenience of having to wiggle into pants, Laterals are Vectors: intelligent, integrated, contributing members of society who have been present since the earliest days of their existence. As such they are subject to the same rules of decency: you don’t wander around nude on the street. Laterals rarely begrudge it; they have as many feelings of modesty and as much desire to decorate themselves appealingly as any other person does. It’s a bit more difficult to get dressed without hands, but no one said having a rare morphism was easy. In most casual situations the illusion of decency is enough: a jacket, shirt, something to cover the majority of the body. Other people can then exercise the restraint of not looking where they shouldn’t. If nothing else, it keeps them from being confused for wild animals.




(Note that one of their bonuses is actually that they can be confused for wild animals, so, say goodbye to that minor bonus if you don't want people looking at your balls all day)



Good luck, you get to look like one of those pitiful animals whose owners make them wear pants, a shirt and some sort of retarded hat. Who even came up with this miserable fucking idea? Also, I note that snake-species furries HAVE to take this. I guess this means that no snakes, first off, have any limbs at all, and secondly, that most of them are fucking tiny. Unless you're a goddamn boa constrictor or something, what are you even gonna do? All you really CAN do is coil up on a chair all day and watch TV. At least a lateral, say, tiger, would have some paws to bop stuff, or a lateral bird would have a beak and claws to maneuver things around.



Aside from whatever advantages you might get, whatever minimal ones they might be, from your choice of animal, your only real advantages are in combat(socially and skill-monkey-wise you get completely shafted with massive penalties for just about anything more complex than pushing a button or saying hi), where you don't provoke HSD's version of Attacks of Opportunity and have a constant cover bonus due to odd size and shape. So you're great at fighting! With a body that can't wear most armor. And paws(or claws, if any), that can't wield most weapons. And. Well, I guess maybe we can glue a sword to your head.





This tiger looks so sad that someone made it wear a dress.



Micro-ism: You're tiny. Or, at least as tiny as your originator species was. I guess this is a better choice for Swarm Of Geckos Man than actual Lateralism, which just makes that modifier even more pointless. Their main advantage is, obviously, being absolute dodge monsters in combat, and the fact that they can still wield weapons(though they assume them as being some size categories larger), so they're basically Laterals except better, they even get the same permanent cover bonus on TOP of more dodge bonuses. This deformity is an excellent chance to highlight how fucking annoying the Mustelidae quotes for all of them are, though.



quote:

Mustelidae: YOU’RE ADAWWWARABUUUUU!




Imagine that sort of shit for every single "morphism."



Note, that while Micro-ism applies hard maximums to some physical stats, lateralism does not, and while lateralism allows, even outside of the GM fiat usually required for multiple morphisms, and even suggests, combining with micro-ism, it's not required. So technically you can be a tiny Lateral animal with absurdly maxed physical stats. Play a fucking sparrow and min/max your way to one-shotting people with one peck of your beak. I wonder if the game will let us do that.







Taurism: This is the only way for snakes to have limbs(arms only, though, no legs), which also buffs them up to normal human size, meaning that you can't be a tiny snake with a pair of beefy arms, like a horrible mutant Trogdor. Avians get another special variant of this, in that it just detaches their wings from their arms, actually making them angel-shaped, and explaining why they might be less shit at flying than other avians... though I'm not sure whether that would actually be the result. I mean, it actually seems like a way more awkward location for the wings with regards to actual flight(though perhaps better for dramatic posing, angels can look pretty cool).



One of their combat advantages is that you can attach a machinegun to their back and use them as a "stable firing platform." That's actually a reasonably entertaining idea. Aside from that, all they're good at is rushing enemies and shoving them around, which I guess is handy, assuming that this game has non-shit grappling rules. But what are the odds of that?





Can't be a furry RPG without fetishbait. Why is her midriff even exposed? Can't she afford clothes that fit?







Twin-Tailed:



quote:

Canidae: Alright, alright, I get it, you were young, you thought the kitsune look was hot, we’ve all been there, it’s time to get it removed. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s natural? Are...are you doing anything tonight?




Not, and I repeat, not, a furry fetish RPG, guys. Get it straight. But aside from helping someone at the game table get their rocks off, all it does is let you slap people around with your tail better in combat, and make you a mild pariah in social interaction.



With that out of the way, though, we can start to actually touch the system! Because now we're gonna do the things that actually affect our dice and things!



Actual character creation!





Beats the character sheet from Eoris, at least



So, anyway, note the Mind/Body/Community/Economy columns. We assign dice to those, we've got a D12, two D10's and a D8. For everything we roll using one of those columns, we use that die, and it's about rolling high, so obviously we've got one good, two average and one poor category. If we assume we put a D12 in Body, and need to roll to do something STRONG, and we've got five dice in STRENGTH, we roll 5D12, and we need an 8 or better on any one of those for a success. I've heard of worse systems. Most modifiers add or subtract dice, and specialties(called "proficiencies") add static modifiers to every die in the pool. So if we had a proficiency called BEING REAL STRONG, we'd be rolling 5x1d12+1, hoping one or more of them would be an 8 or better. If something is trying to do something to us, we roll a "save" instead, which is a single die(if we somehow use our Body to make a save, then a D12), plus one of our "defenses," which then has to beat whatever the difficulty of the incoming attack is. This is my understanding of the system so far.



And... it's actually not a bad system as such, I've certainly seen worse. Of course, it takes more than the core mechanic, we also have to assume that none of the numbers we get to use are completely unbalanced.



It's also not just aesthetics that the four columns are split into two blocks. We've got eight dots to assign to one block, and six for the other. Everything has one free dot to start with, we get another free dot from our choice of Family, and everything maxes out at three on chargen. Crunching a few numbers, this comes out to roughly ~70% chance of success for 3d12, ~65% for 3d10 and ~35% for 3d8, assuming no bonuses from proficiency, circumstance, morphism, etc. and that it's a totally standard out-of-combat roll. This, again, actually seems pretty fair. We can have a decent number of 3d12 and 3d10 skills to roll, and we start out with a reasonable chance of success, so we're not going to be failing at everything right out of the gate.



My main issue with the next part is the terrible terminology and some overlap.



Mind posted:

Mind:Dexterity represents your mind’s ability to wrap itself around new ideas and come up with creative ways to approach a situation.



...



Mind:Resilience represents your ability to bounce back from or resist mental trauma.



...



Mind:Acuity represents your ability to perceive patterns. In everything.



...



Mind:Strength represents your intelligence, in terms of sheer horsepower. It is how well you cogitate, how quickly you can compute a solution to a problem, or how much knowledge you can absorb and retain.



...



Mind:Presence represents your spiritual wholeness of being. A little abstract, but it plays a role in your ability to resist supernatural attack, operate supernatural equipment, and in some cases, exert your willpower over others.




For instance, Mind:Dexterity and Mind:Strength... how do I decide whether a situation needs RAW THINKING or CREATIVITY? Mind:Acuity feels like it should just have been called "perception," and Mind:Presence like it should just have been called "charisma" or something just a bit more traditional, though I appreciate the urge to try and stuff everything into a neat scheme, it doesn't always work out well.



Body posted:

Body:Dexterity represents your physical ability to manipulate small or complex tools, move, stretch, or contort.



...



Body:Resilience represents your ability to bounce back from or resist physical trauma.



...



Body:Acuity represents how acute your body’s sensory organs are. How well you see, how well you hear, how well you smell and what information you might pick up from your various senses.



...



Body:Strength represents the physical strength of your body. It also represents your endurance.



...



Body:Presence represents how wholly you embody the paragon of your being. Don’t confuse this for “beauty,” as it has nothing to do with whether or not you’re a pretty person.




A few minor oddities here, Body and Mind:Acuity could both overlap at points, it seems odd that Body:Strength is for Endurance, when there's a Body:Resilience right there, and I'm really not sure that any game needs more than one "Charisma"-esque stat. Though I do appreciate that they point out that Body:Presence can also be used for stealth, so stealth isn't purely a function of being dexterous(which often ends up being a god stat in a lot of skill-based RPG's), but also a function of knowing how to look unobtrusive. But seeing as how Body:Presence is entirely about LOOKING EXCEPTIONAL, it seems odd to put it in there, it would seem to fit better with Mind:Presence, in that it would seem to be an understanding of how your appearance works and how to modify it... if that makes any sense, I've been looking at this thing on and off for like, over an hour now, and it's probably doing bad things to my SAN score.



Community posted:

Community:Dexterity represents your ability to move throughout different communities without committing social mistakes.



...



Community:Resilience represents your ability to recover gracefully from failings in your reputation, or typecasting caused by your breed, career or morphism.



...



Community:Acuity represents your ability to pick up on problems, events or shifts in the local community simply by being there.



...



Community:Strength represents your reputation. It doesn’t necessarily make it a GOOD reputation, it’s just how widely your name is known in your community.



...



Community:Presence represents your influence throughout the communities of the galaxy. The higher the rating, the more fingers you have in other people’s pies.




This whole thing just gives me unpleasant flashbacks to Exalted and its desire to basically try and make "social combat" function like physical combat, right down to initiative rolls, but with arguments instead of swords. I repeat that I really think this is way too many kinds of charisma, and that a third kind of perception that only works on people, seems like a step too far in that category, too. You can already use Mind:Acuity to note if something's up just by people-watching, just look for patterns. And Body:Acuity should let you help spot anything that stands out or that people try to hide, simply by being eagle-eyed, so Community:Acuity seems to exist just to get shafted.



Economy posted:

This Stat governs many of the behaviors of your Ledger, which is one of the primary means characters use to advance their wealth and influence in HSD.



Economy:Dexterity represents the diversity of your Ledger. It helps keep your finances safe from market fluctuations and makes you more appealing to corps looking to hire someone with good market presence. In the balance process, this lets you re-roll the dice used to determine your credit value for the day.



...



Economy:Resilience represents the ability of your ledger to recover from outside attack.



...



Economy:Acuity represents your ledger’s ability to pick up on new opportunities and invest in your absence.



...



Economy:Strength represents the strength of your investments, and how much they pay. It also contributes to a corp’s willingness to pay you more for a contract, and your ability to demand more money for a sale.



...



Economy:Presence represents your physical footprint on the landscape of the corp market. You can use this Trait to “throw your money around,” which can get you admission to events or locations only interested in dealing with a certain class of individual.




I had a few gripes with the other three categories, but they were largely okay, perhaps with a few adjustments here and there, but this one is fucking shit. Firstly, how can your ledger even be different from anyone else's? They're all running on the same, ancient calculations and software, that no one is allowed to edit and no one can hack. So everyone should just have flat 1's(defined as "normal") here. Secondly, outside attack? How is anyone even going to attack your ledger? It's unhackable, as we're told, and since everyone's investments are automated, how would anyone even attack yours, specifically? And hell, if ledgers CAN be attacked, sabotaged and people's finances actually damaged, doesn't that mean that, despite all we're told, there probably are, poor, suffering furries that can't afford all the necessities of the day?



And wait, "in my absence"? So ledgers AREN'T automated, after all, but actually require furry intervention to function? And if people can intervene, and hence potentially fuck up, again, doesn't that mean that there are probably plenty of furries that DON'T have what they need, and the whole concept of the ledger as automated, behind-the-scenes welfare doesn't work? Colour me fucking amazed.



As for the Strength and Presence, options, here, I mean, come on, aren't they basically Mind:Presence and Community:Presence? But with a modifier called "filthy fucking rich" for Economy:Presence? The existence of this entire column is a terrible fucking idea. Go home and revise your homework, furry designers. They even admit that this whole column, on the whole, gets less checks and has less game impact than the others, so can't players just fucking dump this one hardcore down to its d8's and survive by stealing gear off dead enemies or starting the game by robbing some stores and whatever, since they can min/max themselves into unassailable superthieves/adventurers who now just need gear?



Now, what I will congratulate the devs on, even if they bungled it a bit, is the way they did their "specializing." It's a better version of White Wolf's Physical/Social/Mental split, in that even if you go Body, you've got some degree of social interaction to fall back on, if you go Mind, you've got something willpower-esque to fall back on. Unfortunately with the huge, missed thing that there's no combat whatsoever outside of Body, and nothing about knowing and thinking outside of Mind. The attempt at mixed categories, a sort of "archetypes," if you will, was a decent idea. Maybe if it had been something like... Savage/Civilized/Noble instead... Savage has RAW PHYSICAL CHARISMA, savage weapons(melee, brawling, etc), knows about nature, survival, that sort of thing. Civilized knows society, understands books, uses firearms, makes reasoned arguments for social interaction. Noble gets along socially by dressing in a way that impresses people(he has the money for shitloads of diamonds, after all, why not make a hat out of them?), has fancy, flashy weaponry, and uses his social connections as his form of "charisma."



But that's basically just designing a game from scratch, rather than pointing out how they could have not fucked up, so, eh.



At any rate, what I'd like to do at this point would be to read through the rest of the chargen, make fun of what needs making fun of for being stupid or poor design(and praise any of the, unlikely, gems to be found), then try and see how hard I can break the system. So, what sort of breaking should I aim for? Combat monsters? Invisible stealth guy? Something completely absurd like a five-inch gecko that Fist of the North Star's his enemies? Someone who breaks the game with money?



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 6
04:28pm EDT - 8/01/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

Transhuman Dicekin







Character Creation



Family



At long last we actually encounter some rules for playing the game. As is pretty much bog standard for most RPG's, we've got a plethora of values and numbers hurled at us right out of the gate, before we even really have much of a grasp of what they do, mechanically, because the chapters containing the actual rules aren't until after this one. I may skip ahead a bit to the rules chapters while doing chargen, in case I need to gain an understanding of whether a given chargen option is really as retarded as it looks, mechanically.



First step: Pick a "Family." This basically translates to "decide what kind of furry" you want to be, since they've got names like Canidae, Felidae, etc. what boggles me is that the rundown of chargen at the start also lists "species" and "morphism," as things we need to choose, so I suspect we're going to get incredibly detailed with what kind of ridiculous fucking space poodle we are. Also of course the families aren't organized alphabetically, that would almost make a whit of fucking sense. At a glance, each family provides a couple of generic "+1's" to stuff, no telling if that's particularly huge yet, though at a glance they already look ridiculously unbalanced, since you've got "resistance to exhaustion" basically equal to "has wings, can fly." Additionally you get to choose a retarded stereotype based on the kind of furry you are, like, dogs can choose to have SUPER LOYAL as a bonus, cats can be twitchy, birds can be claustrophobic, etc.



None of this makes any fucking sense from a setting standpoint, mind you, since all of the Vectors were made from human fetuses with animal features grafted on, basically. There would have been no reason at all to add animal instincts or neural structures to those kids at all. So there's no reason they'd adhere to animal stereotypes, especially seeing as how, canonically, most old human media is gone, so they wouldn't even worship human stereotypes of given animal groups.



The five families are Canidae, Felidae, Reptilia, Mustelidae and Avialae, and after the brief stat bit, we get a painful revelation that someone on the writing team was way too fucking fond of White Wolf, as it basically copypastes the thing that every old White Wolf splatbook did, wherein every single [family/tradition/club/whatever] shared their opinions and stereotypes on every other major faction. Mind you, though, wasn't one of the big things the fluff started on, something about how THE INTERNET and similar wonderful inventions basically disassembled everything resembling evil stereotypes except among the willfully ignorant? And hasn't the former chapters worked on establishing that corporate culture largely replaces nationstate loyalties? And so far we've heard nothing about any particular furry "families" preferring any particular corporations, so isn't it completely illogical for a given "family" of furries to even really have a shared culture, mindset or opinion of any sort?



Yes, yes it fucking is. HSD, ladorks and gentlegeeks. HSD.





I'm angry, angry about punching bags



Let's see what the non-existent, both in the real world and in this fictional world, nation of space dog people thinks of other space animal people! I might have missed it in the blur of retarded statements in the earlier chapters, but we learn here that dogs and cats were the first "Vectors" made, with the remainder arriving later. And of course they're of the opinion that cats are flighty, reptiles are cold and emotionless, and space person ferrets act wacky exactly like real world ferrets do! Totally not about playing a yiffy animal person in space, guys, this RPG is about being human. And seriously I can't even find anything to mock here, it's just so fucking dull.



Also I won't bother copypasting any of the stereotypes, or even mentioning them much, because they're just... the same shit for all five families, and really dull. Completely unimaginative.





In space, no one can hear you yiff



quote:

Felines were second in line in the first generation Vector wave, and sported the most females of the initial release.



...



At 700 years later, no one has any idea why, but the anomaly has helped produce an almost matronly bearing in the family.



...



They have been a part of every major conflict, every major boon, and every major development since the race began. Of course, so have the dogs and a handful of others, but they get enough credit already. Felines are known for ambition, trying to reach the top of their social or economic ladder and refusing to come down. Of all the Vector families, their social behavior most closely mimics that of their progenitor race. They’re typically stubborn and strongwilled, and are fiercely protective of what they’ve earned.




dictionary posted:

matronly

ˈmeɪtr(ə)nli/Submit

adjective

characteristic of an older married woman, especially in being staid or rather fat.




I DON'T QUITE THINK THEY KNOW WHAT WORDS MEAN. None of the above particularly reads "staid old married woman" to me, especially not the bit about them basically being ambitious and adventurous. Also why in God's name would starting out with more women make them more hsdsdsdsdsds. This book is gonna give me a stroke.





In the future we will all have bare midriffs for no good reason



Reading the bird people chapter, I get the impression that the writers weren't all on the same page, as their quotes mention the cats starting "three race wars." Firstly, again, if loyalties are to corporate nations, not species or location, how did "the cats," as a group, start anything? Secondly, "race wars" are a thing at all in the setting? Thanks for the fucking heads up, you fucking useless writers. Jesus. For some reason the "taur" bird people also fly better, but... why? Wouldn't they be way fucking huger and even less aerodynamic than the rest? I... I don't see the logic. I DO NOT SEE THE LOGIC. But hey, apparently in this setting, they do, and the bird people love their "angels" a lot!



Their art is also shit, try to figure out how they ever pick up anything without knocking it over.





Good luck drinking coffee, shitbird



The reptile section is another part that seems to jar with the earlier chapters. Nothing about the third wave mentions that they weren't just more "humans with bits glued" on, like the first wave was, during the actual fluff chapters, but the reptile section describes them as though they originated from reptiles that needed to be adjusted to human shapes and functioning, as apparently the "base creatures" they were made from were coldblooded and needed to be made warmblooded. The book also describes how they're "detached" because they're the most "visually different" Vector family... but then you get to their family art and they just... look like any other furry. When they're all basically human shaped with a few bits glued on, none of them are really that hugely distinct. They can even grow hair, so being the only superbald race doesn't even make them stand out.





Completely different from all the other furries, honest.



Mustelidae is the obligatory fishmalk family who're WACKY and UNPREDICTABLE but totally, like, DEEP, anyway, duuuuude. Just because ferrets are kind of wacky critters in real life. Since their "family" also includes a bunch of shit beyond ferrets, like fucking wolverines, it seems weird to base their entire stereotype on FERRETS SURE ARE GOOFY, HUH GUYS? I'd also like to point out that throughout this entire chapter, there's been all sorts of delightful references to craft-your-own-fursona options that I look forward to, like having two tails, or being a "snake," i.e. having literally no legs but just a weird, serpentine lower body. It also sounds like it's not restricted purely to the reptiles. So go ahead and enjoy imagining that applied to, like, a dog dude or whatever. Yuck.





Mustelidae is also fucking ugly, even compared to the rest



Species



quote:

the solar system is filled with billions of examples of every individual species, all intermingled and mixed. After 700 years,it’s awfully difficult to point to any single one and say “All wolves behave like you do.”




B-but that's. Hrrrrgh. That's what you fuckers just DID! Fuck you! Anyway, this chapter is mercifully short, there are five subspecies for each of the five families(except for the birds, who only get four, because NO OWLS, THEY'RE SPOOKY DUDES NOW), and the only difference is that they each get one small skill bonus and snakes have to have no legs. Considering that the differences between, say, a cougar furry person and a lion furry person, is pretty much entirely one of appearance, it seems kind of weird to tie actual stat boosts to such a choice, since it basically just seems to go: "Hey, if you want your character to have a bonus to this particular trait, he/she has to have stripes!"



It caps off with this retarded piece of art that I have to comment on, though, beyond the usual pissy little italicized textsnippet.







Okay, let's just look at what's fucking happening here. Easy shots first, the fucking font they use for all of these chapter-separating splash images is fucking shit. I hate it. I hope whoever made it has his dick splashed with acid. Secondly, this snake appears to be doing a SUBTLE ASSASSINATION(and, apparently, the "YOU ARE A SNAKE"-disability also means no arms! That's fucking retarded and hilarious at once), but it's got a fucking GUN STRAPPED TO ITS HEAD. How is it going to make a subtle getaway? How? HOW? It doesn't even have any hands to take it off with after shooting that giant chicken! What's the point of an assassin who can't even OPEN DOORS? How is it going to get in anywhere without making a huge, obvious hole in [whatever barrier] or asking someone to open the door for it?



THE FURRY SPACE FUTURE, YOU FUCKERS



Anyway, next post I'll poke a bit more at chargen, maybe actually get far enough to understand what all these bonuses do or whether they really matter, and then make a retarded fursona. In space.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 5
03:59pm EDT - 7/31/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

Would you believe there's still more fluff/setting bullshit to crunch through?







Setting



This section starts out with a glossary of Space Future Terms, which are basically a bunch of tiny fluff snippets to tell us more about living in the SPACE FUTURE, most of them are dumb and pointless, but a few of them are dumb and hilarious, and I'll paste from those.



Did you know that in the Furry Space Future, stores are outdated? Instead of buying physical goods, you just buy limited-use licences to 3D print stuff... which actually seems like an alright idea for a setting where 3D-printing/nanotech forges replace most traditional construction. Though it's partnered with the bizarre idea that you can only buy said blueprints in certain areas, called "BuySpots." That seems weirdly anachronistic. If you've done away with physical stores, why still tie purchases to a location?



Space suits are now called "Suck Suits," which sounds more like something related to some really bizarre fetish.



quote:

A physical surface that contains digital components capable of processing information and displaying it. Almost every piece of glass, metallic or reflective surface in a Vector community is a smart surface.




It seems weird that HSD's society is so much more "civilized" than EP's, everyone's on board with the hypercapitalist thing(so far, anyway, there's an antagonist chapter later on which I guess might include filthy unionist scum and others who want to share wealth), because it appears to be a perfect playground for anarchist/anti-establishment pranksters. Make an infinite-use 3D blueprint for dildos and go swamp some corporation's "BuySpot" with dongs, hack an entire city to display nothing but your taint on every fucking surface. But no, everyone seems to have just mindlessly gone along with the whole idea.



quote:

When they were first developed, smart surfaces blared advertisements and followed Vectors around with digital salesmen to the point that the community as a whole demanded a stop to it.




Also, as much as EP is hostile to hypercapitalism, I think it displays it more realistically than HSD, because in EP, corporations largely have power over their employees, yet still have to avoid massive scandals, since they're not invincible. In HSD, on the other hand, corporations instantly bow to the wishes of the public and their employees and seem to either have no actual power to throw around, or to be innocent of any real desire to ever abuse people, committing misdeeds largely out of ignorance rather than selfishness. Not to mention, did the corporations not need the advertisements or anything? Could they just cut them with no harm to their revenue streams? Nope, must've just been on a whim that they advertised for stuff, since they could just cut it out at the drop of a hat.



quote:

Ledger: An autonomous investment system that works on behalf of each individual to make them a functioning part of the flow of commerce. Its profit offsets the cost of living in a society with chronic nickel-and-diming, and ensures a partial income. Ledger systems are not distributed after birth, cannot be bought, and cannot be traded. Their encryption relies on certain codes and programs only possessed by a handful of people in the universe, and the system itself operates on a constant basis. It is not updated, tampered with, changed or modified, which makes it easy to notice if someone is meddling with it. By and large, Ledgers cannot be hacked. They do what they do based on centuries-old equations that grow naturally with the inclusion of certain variables, and anomalies are very easy to spot. The systems themselves are contained within the sealed archives of the corptowns in which people are born, and might be accessible by one in every 10 million people.




I just want to repeat the whole "Ledger" thing because it's so fucking stupid. I love how it's "not updated" and "based on centuries-old equations," and clearly in the centuries since the start of the setting, computing power has grown massively if we've now literally made every fucking reflective surface a computer, and Transcendent Technologies surely has holistic crystal power quantum computers or something, yet despite this program never being updated, and being based on ancient equations, apparently no one has ever thought to use this massive flood of computing technology to either exploit bugs in the system's equations or crack the encryption?



quote:

Also known as the Human Aural Resonance Effect, this phenomenon is the largest piece of unaccounted-for evidence known to Vector-kind that perhaps their understanding of their own history might not be all they thought it was. The human voice, specifically human singing, resonates in the Vector mind in an almost hypnotizing fashion. While Vectors can still function more or less adeptly in the presence of human singing, they become somewhat placid and susceptible to suggestion, and can even be calmed or manipulated if the right person is exerting the right pressures.



...



Very few uncompressed original human pieces have survived 700 years past the death of their world



...



When combined with the other curious discrepancy in the early days of Mars: the last of humanity choosing to die off or transform rather than push onward, this paints a disturbing potential alternate to the end days of mankind, in which they attempted to gain control of the Vector population, failed, and were subsequently killed off by the early Vectors themselves. It would mean an awful lot of early history was entirely manufactured, but it wouldn’t be the first time.




I want to point out that I have not read ahead at all, so if the book is setting us up for some sort of surprisingly rad twist where it turns out that everything we've read so far has been blatant propaganda bullshit, I'd be pleased, but I doubt it. If anything this seems more like "the humans were evil all along, only the furries have true moral purity, that's why hypercapitalism works for them."



quote:

The Shadow President is a single, faceless, nameless civilian that exists above the CEO. Each megacorp has one. Their job is as profound as it is simplistic: watch. Be the stopgap. Hold the corporate machine in check when it needs to be reined in, allow it to roam free when it doesn’t. Be silent and uninvolved while the business flourishes, but when it oversteps its boundaries, when it pushes too hard, bring the hammer down on it. It is suspected by those in the know that nearly every megacorp CEO assassination was only possible because the Shadow President determined that the CEO had to be stopped, and arranged it.



...



The nature of the order of succession is as mysterious as the people themselves, but it is suspected that the titles have been passed down from person to person for generations, carefully selecting brilliant individuals who can accomplish the weighty goals held before them. They’re geniuses, whose job is not just to keep the system from snowballing, but to use its assets in ways that will profoundly influence the universe while the greater machine worries about what this year’s spring fashion line will be. They walk the streets as normal people, see the effects of their titanic corporations, monitor their books and research, and silently weigh in their hands when it’s necessary. A slip of paper containing even one of their names would be worth billions. So far, no such document has been found.




In short, all those checks and balances, those distributions of responsibility and decisionmaking, such as shareholder councils and the like, don't actually work. What's necessary for corporations to act correctly and morally is a single, powerful CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY with ultimate power over them. At least they just decided to go, "UH, IT'S A MYSTERY" rather than trying to bullshit up a way in which none of these SHADOW PRESIDENTS would ever be corrupt assholes or fuckups. I also want to point out that the book describes one of the reasons to need the SHADOW PRESIDENT as being because the other entities controlling the company are too far-removed from the public, and can too easily seek safety in bunkers or in orbit if their decisions ever really piss someone off... so I want to ask you, what protection is better than PERFECT ANONYMITY? At least people know who to fucking blame with the rest of them.



Next, we're on to locations! Which starts out by describing that "skirmishes" ranging from "a couple of employees" to "a few hundred thousand" in size, happen with some regularity and often little warning. This is described as "worrying" to us, that is, us, the reader, and perhaps unsettling to us. But apparently to the people of THE SPACE FUTURE, this is just how business is done and nothing to whine about, highly implying that it's just a matter of culture and not, objectively, a bad thing. I'm absolutely boggled by whatever thinking came up with this... and then it turns out that the "locations" section has a dire dearth of actual locations, instead just describing types of locations like "urban city" and "a big cave" with a single, sparsely-detailed example of some of them.



About the only interesting parts are a couple of incredibly wanky space-stations briefly mentioned, one for idiot furries with mythical-esque forms, who live on a big space station where they permanently LARP themselves into a delusion that they actually ARE mythical creatures, like dragons, sphinxes, etc. They're somehow described as "noble" and "self-sacrificing," even though I remember most mythical monsters as being selfish and concerned largely with wealth and/or stealing attractive human women. The other's for idiot furries who idolize being ~wonderfully one with nature~ and all live as feral predators on a single space station... with no mention of what they hunt there, are there other furries there who worship the glory of being prey that gets messily murdered as food for the predators? Do they hunt targets? Do the predators hunt each other? Of course, despite ~abandoning all technology to live beautifully one with nature~, they're somehow still a match for the hunters with plasma rifles and railguns who regularly visit to hunt them for sport.



quote:

Being feral does not make you stupid, and smart animals hunt in creative ways.




Gotta make room for everyone's fursona, after all.



Blightspots are one of the few ideas in this book I actually like. Basically, growing bioships, like Transcendent Technologies does, is a tricky business. And sometimes, rather than forming correctly, they become a tumor, complete with the original ship's defenses and self-repair abilities, but now just sort of... spread across their construction facility(whether in space or planet-side), and aggressively resisting attempts to destroy them. But then again, I've got a soft spot for body horror type stuff.



After that is the bit that's about actual, defined, locations, the various planets.





Mars



Mars is incredibly dull, it's just Earth with taller trees, literally. About the most interesting part is the detail that Deimos was just casually demolished by automated debris-clearance machines in orbit, at which point I have to ask what challenges can really remain for players or anyone in this setting if a fucking moonlet can just be recycled for trash without anyone apparently noticing until it's too late.



The bit on Venus and its terraforming just makes me laugh, though, apparently it was a casual operation to increase the planet's rate of spin and give it an artificial magnetic field to shield it from solar radiation, and so I repeat: What fucking challenges are left? What technology even needs to be discovered? Faster-than-light travel seems to be about the only thing missing at this point. There's already a substance to make you immortal and planetary-scale engineering seems like a wave of the hand away.



quote:

During the course of the Venus terraform, the planet’s rotational speed would accelerate from one turn every 238 Earth days to an almost perfect 24 hour spin, in the opposite direction. Its core would be liquefied, its magnetic field restored, and its atmosphere stabilized.




When they terraformed the place, they were also fucking idiots, I'd note, deciding that what an awesome, habitable world totally needed was herds of giant sea monsters and dragons. Why yes, I would love to go settle on a nice, Earth-like planet where a giant, flying fucking goose with scales might incinerate me.



Europa's somewhat interesting, since someone's actually bothered writing up a bit of local culture beyond "this is where all the corporations live" or "they like taking trips to Mars."(for Venus) With the Europans described as superstitious and, in fact, particularly in dread of Jupiter, the entire surface colony effectively going into blackout when Jupiter's in the sky, and leaving it ambiguous whether being farther out-system, more isolated, and dominated by a single, odd, corporate culture(Transcendent Technologies) is what's making them weird, or whether it's because the heart of their planet is full of ineffable alien artifacts.



Lastly, there's Ganymede, which is dull. It's just a generic space-frontier, a moon basically covered in jungle, and Earth, which is also dull, because it's got even less of a purpose in the setting than Earth does in Eclipse Phase. Earth in EP at least has a canonical reason to be scavenged-on, and a canonical number of scavenger inhabitants. Earth in HSD has half its surface literally covered in Whispers, the red gooey crystal shell covers half of Earth and extends almost all the way to the moon(and the entire moon is also covered), and apparently it's made of Whispers that can just wake up and murder people. So like, good luck visiting Earth, everyone who ever has, in canon, has fucking died.



But on the bright side, that taps out setting and lets us see how badly done chargen is, which I'll do next post.



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 4
03:34pm EDT - 7/31/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

The missing ingredient for benevolent corporate overlords: Cat-ears and tails







Corps



We're now on to the section of the book that's about the current state of the world, not the highly implausible way in which the world reached its hugely implausible state. And just from the first paragraph, it's a fucking doozy. The chapter starts off by saying that sure, corporations have been dicks to people before, and unions will fill your ears with tales of it(of course phrased as though the unions are kvetching excessively and without merit), but that's not all there is to the story of person/corporation interaction!



quote:

But as was the case with many human endeavors, work and labor problems didn’t arrive out of nowhere. They trickled in from earlier problems of classism and mentalities of people-as-property, and in the American example, were assisted by an as yet undefined role of federal government in business affairs.



...



In HSD, the origin of corporate control stems from drastically different circumstances. At its heart is a single corporation that fled its own world with a message of unity, cooperation, innovation, and acceptance of the personal ideal.




To summarize, corporations and people only got along poorly because people believed in socio-economic classes, and because humanity hadn't made as perfect a corporation as furries were able to. Also, in some undefined way, The Sleeping Dragon of Government helped make people and corporations not get along well. One paragraph in and they're already knocking it out of the park. But how did furries, who are basically, at heart, just humans with bits stapled on, manage to do what humanity never managed to?



quote:

Seven hundred years is a very long time. People have had a chance to hammer out the major issues.




"They just worked at it real hard for a real long time! Duh! And now it works!"



quote:

Without a federal government to point their finger at, most corporations have had to serve as both representative and employer, and as such have become significantly more accountable to their employees. Those corps that ignored the needs of their citizens were removed, often violently, until they eventually got the message that certain behaviors were not going to be tolerated.




I am literally at a loss for words. The book is now mocking itself. If anyone actually believes this shit is vaguely plausible, they need to be admitted to a mental institution immediately. Without a system of checks and balances, without a legal system to prevent abuse of employees, corporations are somehow more responsible, not less. And the great, wide mass of furrydom is somehow a bunch of omniscient, self-sufficient consumers that cannot be manipulated by propaganda and disinformation, or bullied by monopolies or private corporate armies. No, instead, brave citizen militias totally take care of any mean corps so only the good ones remain! No business would ever act short-sightedly! No consumer would ever act illogically!



quote:

As for those born in a situation they couldn’t agree with? Well, competition is a wonderful thing. Somewhere out in the big empty is a Corp waiting for a citizen like you, and they’re all eager to bring in newcomers, if only to sap them from their enemies.




And in this theoretical market of wonders and fairy dust, there's always a shortage of manpower and workforce, so the employee always wields the power in negotiations and can simply go somewhere else! Even the janitors are, somehow, surely, something that there's a shortage of! Just join another corp because someone wants to deprive your current corporation of freshly-mopped floors!



No one who worked on this RPG has ever held a job.



quote:

At the top of the heap, however, is the Corp that runs the corpornation itself, to whom all others pay rent for the privilege of doing business. Its similarity to traditional government is clear, and the argument that all corpornations are benevolent dictatorships holds more water than many within them would care to admit.



...



For one, all megacorps are publicly owned, meaning the ones living within them have stock in their success. For two, there is no election, and as such, no campaigning, for advances in corporate status. Promotions work differently in every corp but still tend to hinge on performance rather than popularity. Corps will only move people up who have a better capacity to make the business successful or strong, and that strength filters down to the ledgers of their citizenship, who, by the very act of living there, all have a piece of the pie.




"It is like a traditional nation, except not, because it's better! And no one is ever promoted because their boss likes them more! Or because of nepotism! Only because of skill! It may be a benevolent dictatorship, but it works! The corporate trains run on time!"



The corporations also offer free schooling for everyone and they totally respect people who decide to break free of their pre-made assembly lines for educated employees, who actually get way better odds at advancement for BUCKING THE SYSTEM and being INDEPENDENT THINKERS! Corporations would never suppress your free expression!



After making my head explode, the book decides to explain what big corps there are.



MarsCo



To summarize: They're incredibly dull and generic, do a bit of everything, and are omnipresent on Mars. Also huge. Literally there's nothing interesting about them, not even anything to mock.



Applied Sciences and Robotics



They invented the first sentient robots, and those robots are considered to have a "soul" as long as their brain(the Core Consciousness) is powered. Which brings up a lot of weird questions. Is this just a political thing, somehow? Are they considered non-persons if powered off, say, for maintenance, and then powered up again? CAN they be powered down and powered up again at all, or does running low on batteries delete their brain? It's implied that whichever it was, it's an intentional choice of their design/legislation regarding them, and didn't have to be that way, so it seems odd and meaningless. They hit on the brilliant idea of raising their machines like humans, so they'd grow up to think and act like humans, but also got the bizarre idea that they needed to be child-sized when "born," and so keep having to have their brains transferred into new chassis as they grow.



Why? Because.



Also they somehow got it right on the first try. No fuckups or false avenues of experimentation or anything. First try just BAM, nailed an artificial, conscious brain.



Pulse



Did you know that genetic code needs to be "pure" and "streamlined," otherwise some random genetic flaw might just pop up a few hundred years later and turn everyone sterile? HSD taught me that! Wow, poor humans and animals on current Earth, with our "messy" genetic code, I bet any day now our children will come out looking like crawfish.



Pulse does sports for the genetically augmented, which seems pointless, seeing as how it's like sports with sanctioned doping. Also for some reason Pulse was tasked, back in the early days, with inventing new sports, since most Earth sports "wouldn't function on Mars" due to the reduced gravity. Personally I can't think of many that wouldn't. Maybe a lot where records would be rapidly broken or you might need to enlarge the playing field, or account for players suddenly being able to acrobatically leap over each other with limited effort. But I think most of them would work just fine except for being way more fucking fun to watch.



In addition to never having held jobs, I think we can clearly say the HSD devs have never played sports.



Also, each Corp has their own WACKY NAMING CONVENTIONS, I haven't mentioned the MarsCo and ASR ones since they're dull as dirt, but the Pulse ones are retarded. Instead of having last names, they just jam symbols next to their names, for instance: “James!!@-"(actual example from the book). Apparently this is meaningless as said symbols are never pronounced in any way, but Pulse employees tend to run around with, I shit you not, bright signs proclaiming their WACKY NAMES!!!!!!



Spyglass



Spyglass is basically the capitalist CIA-for-hire.



quote:

In the interests of preserving a working system of competition that served billions wonderfully, they were universally denounced and almost every major corporation in Sol outright refused to commission their services.




Good thing all the CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY are too noble and upstanding to use underhanded means to defeat their opponents on the free market! Also Spyglass isn't just the CIA, they're somehow also the legal system, and somehow their being RUTHLESS and AS EVIL AS EVERYONE THINKS THEY ARE is a "virtue," because they're equally evil to everyone? In some sort of weird vigilante justice way? How this, somehow, protects the free market, is admirable and is a workable business plan, I have no fucking idea. But apparently they're filthy rich despite actively declaring war on everyone with those statements.



quote:

And so the Spyglass Corp Community doctrine was established: we will be every bit as bad as everyone else, and we’re not going to pretend it’s not happening.



Since then, Spyglass’ primary goal has been the promotion of a truly open market without the facade of decency that has forever clouded it. Let the buyer beware, as they say. But more than that, let the seller beware that the buyer may shoot them in the face for lying to them, and if Spyglass courts find that there was in fact a lie involved, the buyer will be absolved of all crime. It’s a harsh system that leads to two possible outcomes: you get a lot of very honest people, or you get a lot of people who are very good at lying. Spyglass breeds both, and holds both in equal regard. If you’re going to deal with someone, anyone, know that they are a liar. Know that they want to cheat you. If you can accept that and pick your battles accordingly, things move along at a pretty even keel. If you want to call them on it, you call them as hard as you want to. But if they’re a good enough liar to survive legal scrutiny, well. You should have thought of that before you pulled your gun. Spyglass does not promote open violence or murder, but it does hold other general rights and decency in fairly low regard.



...



If you’re willing to just accept that someone, somewhere, is constantly watching you, and that everyone’s out to gouge you, and you play by the same rules, Spyglass corptowns are actually damned honest places to live. You know where everyone stands, you pick your friends carefully, and you keep them for life. You can find plenty of decency in a den of thieves; you just have to expect it to take a little while.




Add to the list of things the HSD devs have never done: Interacted with human beings outside of the internet.



Inner Ring Police Force



The private space police, whom everyone was absolutely terrified of when they actually had the fleet power to impose their will on corporations, but who are now "put in their place" and only police when people hire them to police. Thank goodness. They're described in more suspicious and negative terms than Spyglass, somehow.



Progenitus



So all of the health care corps were actually evil and capable of curing all illnesses and injuries and cancers forever, but not doing so to prolong their profits, and when a Spyglass group called Progenitus found out and released this to the public, everyone loved them and paid them a constant, minor tax to safeguard this vital knowledge and keep everyone safe from the Space Flu forever. Welcome to the corporate utopia, plebs.



Also they invented a substance that could literally free anyone ingesting it from all biological needs(breathing, eating, drinking, having organs, etc.), but somehow it was "unnatural," and they decided that it wasn't to be used.



Transcendent Technologies



That super-substance? These guys love it and use it to make all sorts of grotesque, modified creatures and even living spaceships. Despite their very existence being founded in "FUCK THE LAWS OF NATURE, WE'RE GONNA MESS WITH GENETICS" and their society already having created one other species from raw cloth(the sentient machine people), these guys are totally weird and bad and taboo.



quote:

Though still very much in its infancy, Transcendent technology has already redefined the rules of reality. Much of its function remains a well guarded secret, but the premise is that certain things in the universe gain resonance and power due to their very construction. The arrangement of their molecules interacts with the waves of radio in the air, and other unseen forces. Crystals, for instance. By arranging these reactive constructions in patterns that also react to each other, complex harmonies can be made. Like a series of reeds all being blown over by a single wind, a sophisticated symphony emerges that is more than the sum of its parts. The beauty of it is that these structures work on the scale of the universe: from atomic to galactic. Their size is irrelevant, they simply...work. No power source, no special attachment, no port, no plug, no emitter or receiver. They are, and so, they function.




Eager to make sure that no retarded idea is left out of the book, HSD also insists that "crystal energy" is totally a real thing.



Thankfully this is where the chapter ends.



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 3
03:10pm EDT - 7/31/2015
Cyborg Cat-tains of Industry. In space.







And we're getting right into the meat of it with the part that'll make you laugh at their insistence that this totally isn't a fetish RPG, guys. Honest. HONEST!



quote:

The destruction of Earth cemented the need for the Vector race to prosper more than ever before, and shortly after the war ended, the third generation project began with the intent to bolster the breeding pool and correct some of the errors of the previous generation. Dubbed “the Omega generation” by its progenitors, this was to be the last of the artificial creation projects for the Vector race.



...



allowing species that were normally genetically incompatible to breed and give birth to offspring that shared a species with one of the parents, but the necessary genetic variety of both.




After all, it'd be a damn shame if there were some characters that couldn't knock each other up! An outright fucking travesty, that.



Also, since it's an Eclipse Phase ripoff, it needs some obligatory horror elements. Now, where Eclipse Phase relied on the potential annihilation of humanity at the hands(or pseudopods, possibly) of a rampant, techno-organic virus with powers that broke the laws of physics itself, HSD one-ups them by going for something way more scary. Something way more sinister. Something way more... fowl. Sorry, I meant foul. No, wait, I meant fowl because their SCARY THING is owls. Fucking owls. Apparently when trying to make owldudes, they fucked something up and the only one that grew to maturity fucking murdered everyone in sight, scrawled something sinister on the wall and then snuck away. And of course that meant everyone gave up on making owl guys ever again.





Slender-owl



quote:

In the next few years, Mars’ terraforming operation would complete, transplanting the majority of Earth wildlife, with some variation, to Mars’ new climate. The deep canyons ran with fresh water and the largest mountains in the solar system sported snow and the finest views in recorded history.



...



First Generation Vectors were now 23 years old, with 30 of the original 108 females known to be pregnant, and the entire first generation population recorded as sexually active.




The need to point out that all the first mutants are fucking isn't really what I'm concerned with here, it's just another shitty "this is a fetish RPG"-detail. I just want to hammer home again, the point that makes me want to flip a table. Somehow these fucking people terraformed Mars in less than three decades, if the first Vectors aren't any older than that. But, anyway, after hammering the final nail in how shitty that is, the whole thing just... leaps forward 150 years to talk about what Earth is like 150 years after getting nuked out. Apparently Earth's water is drinkable again, 150 years after a worldwide nuclear war(is that even plausible? And why is it relevant? And how would anyone fucking find out from Mars?), and to complete the Eclipse Phase knockoffery(though I doubt it's the last we'll see of it), of course photography(from Mars, I guess? Since no one's ever mentioned a Lunar colony or anything else closer to Earth) shows that there are mooooonsteeeers on Earth. Totally nothing like TITAN monstrosities, I bet.



Hahahah, actually, I'm right, it's worse than that.



So they decide to send the last humans first to Earth's moon, to make a colony there, then the humans, literally all of them, apparently, decide to travel to Earth, on and off, to do some in-person investigations. It says there are 300 of them, but that they're also literally all killed in their sleep. So I guess either the horrors on Earth can leap to the Moon or all 300 of them decided to take a camping trip, without any security precautions or guards despite knowing that huge, mutated monstrosities were roaming Earth's wastelands. But then again, I guess it could also have been because what defeated them was worse than a monster. Worse than a TITAN exsurgent. Worse than a Chris Field RPG. It was... a meme!



quote:

Manned expeditions stopped for the immediate future as financial needs steered MarsCo toward other avenues of production and development, but the cameras continued to broadcast for 30 years after the deaths of their caretakers, before each one was systematically destroyed by an unknown life form resembling a tall, thin biped. It had the intelligence to remain out of the camera’s view until it was forced to approach the last one from the front due to its sheltered location. Naught but a shadow, with limbs too long and a skin too smooth, and a glimpse of a face with no eyes in it. The video reached viral status through Luna and Mars, but no further signs of the creature emerged within anyone’s lifespan.




The last humans were killed by fucking Slenderman. Jesus Christ,



Anyway, we're suddenly jumping ahead again. I think 200 years or so? And now Earth is totally safe again. All radiation, gone, all ecological damage, reversed, but I guess the place is still full of monsters. Slendermans and godzillas and whatever else. So anyway, being idiots, the furries decide to send more dudes down to Earth to try and scavenge, and of course after some more tacticool chatter about how they're taking precautions, they get murdered by Slenderman, too, after, of course, finding scribbled, mysterious "scripture" all over the stuff they were planning to scavenge. Again, I'd like to point out, we're getting no detail on some 200-ish years of technology, development and society, but we're instead being told about Slenderman killing furries on Earth. I'd also like to point out that one of the huge things promised in the intro was how the furries had abandoned all traces of old human society, yet the few descriptions we're getting sound basically identical to human behavior and society.



And of course the untelligible "scripture" corresponding to no known language was the exact same as what their fucked up owlthing wrote a couple hundred years earlier. Why they expect it to be text, and not just graffiti or modern art, I don't know.



We got more horrors in store for you, though, now I give you... FIAT CURRENCY!



quote:

Currency had been a point of some fluctuation and concern ever since Earth’s fall, but a more or less stable form of measure simply referred to as “credits” had been adopted and maintained for the better part of a century. Basing a currency on nothing wasn’t a new idea, but it was always a dangerous one. By now, rampant inflation and a lack of a stabilizing force was making the Credit dangerously unstable. Add to that the proliferation of micro transactions throughout the system that attached miniscule fees to everything from walking in front of buildings to opening doors, and Vector society was looking at financial ruin in short order.




They still seem to not be catching on that a corporate-run world is usually described as a dystopia for a reason. There seems to be just enough self-awareness, at times, to accept that corporations might do awful things, but they never actually seem to wake up. Also this next bit, I'm... I'm pretty sure it's retarded, because there's no way it isn't, but I'd love it if someone could pick apart just how terribly retarded it is, because I don't even know where to start.



quote:

The solution was a deceptively simple program developed by a 17 year old ferret on a bet, and subsequently cycled through the web until it appeared under the nose of MarsCo execs, who hailed it as the monetary equivalent to a miracle. It took the form of a stand-alone system of micro-investments that bought and sold in tiny amounts, constantly. A miniature stock broker that could plot long-term growth goals in a much smaller scale, making them profitable in the short term. By linking this system to the micro-transaction section of one’s bank account, it could offset the constant drain caused by everyday living. Issuing one of these programs to every Vector at birth ensured it had a lifetime to grow, making its comparatively small profit margin substantially larger, while at the same time fueling exchange. The constant and consistent exchange lent stability to the value of the Credit, which was in turn linked to the number of people using the system. In effect, the program turned the population of the Sol system into a physical base for the value of currency, one that would (barring an extinction event) continue to grow at a steady, predictable rate. The program was dubbed “the Ledger,” and became the closest post-humanity Sol had ever come to social security. Everyone got one, and it stayed and grew with them throughout their life.




So there's that, but it's starting to get hard NOT to quote everything, because EVERYTHING is fucking retarded, and getting dumber.



quote:

Mars reached a population of three billion in 400 years of colonization. Luna colony maintained a population of roughly 35,000 people, and produced personal space flight vehicles capable of travelling between Mars and Luna in less than a month’s time.




I'm going to crack the numbers here and I don't think they're gonna make me happy.



Humans: All dead and gone.

First generation Vectors: 180 individuals.

Second generation Vectors: ~3000 individuals.

Earth-Mars Refugees: ?????

Third generation Vectors: 10000 individuals.



The book clearly has informed us that a few thousand individuals is not enough to continue a species, because a few thousand humans survived the war and they died out(unless the humans just plain chose not to breed and elected to die out as penance for their sins), hence the first generation, second generation, and refugee generations of Vectors have all died out or almost so(remember, only the third generation can actually interbreed despite being different types of animals). This means we've got 10000(even if we assume the third generation can fuck everyone and knock them up, even outside their own generation, that's, what, twenty-thousand, max? Fifty-thousand if we're super generous with refugees?) individuals who have somehow managed to fuck their way up to three billion individuals in 400 years. And a society which, on a relatively virgin planet, has managed to boom its fucking infrastructure and agriculture absurdly enough to sustain them all. Captains of industry, totally believable science.



While I find another table to flip, because the first one's already gone through the wall, the terraforming of Venus into a habitable, Earth-like world is just sort of a footnote that happens without any real problems aside from space hippies complaining that maybe there are native Venusian lifeforms that are dying because the furries are cleaning out all the acid clouds they need to survive in. Oh no. There's also a footnote about a potentially interesting era where all ship-to-ship combat is with nautical boarding actions, due to ineffective weapons and heavy armor plating, but that's just swept away as "this interesting stuff is in the past, we're in a more generic space-world, now, where you've got all the stuff from your favourite space sim game. Pew pew, lasers. Also space cops."



So there's also an expedition intended to scope out Europa for settling, but, gasp, the scouts, before disappearing completely in the depths of Europa, find MYSTERIOUS STRUCTURES. They find signs of life once existing there and... THEY FIND THE MYSTERIOUS "SCRIPTURE" AGAIN. And their last transmitted message is "Hydra." Because Hydra couldn't just have been a goddamn computer virus that went haywire, it had to be a fucking ripoff of Eclipse Phase's alien virus that made the TITANs flip their shit. Congratulations, furries, you couldn't even be original about that.



Despite this, of course, and despite their probes still roaming the depths of Europa's oceans, now haywire, aggressive and mutated to vast, threatening sizes(did I forget to mention? They were BIO PROBES, modelled on orcas. Because there's nothing ethically shady about manufacturing relatively intelligent creatures as servants), the idiots decide to colonize Europa anyway.





The depths of Europa. Spooky



Lacking capacity for pattern recognition, the furries decide to go back to Earth. This time with mechs, and lasers! And of course they're too fucking stupid to think to quarantine the people returning from a hostile, by now rather alien, world, that has claimed all search parties so far. And wow, gee, oh gasp, some of the returning crewmembers are infected with nano-sized things that cause them to mutate, and which appear to break the laws of physics! Ooooo. Aaaaa. Wooow. A novelty the like of which we have never seen before. But anyway, the nanoviruses explode out of people, harvest people for more resources, and are crystalline things that look totally like a recolour of Slenderman with a tail.





OC Donutsteel



But anyway, because the furries are idiots and incompetents, everyone on the Moon, and a lot of people on Mars, die. And then all of Earth and the Moon start turning into red crystal and grow together into one big red crystal tumor. This just sort of happens and then nothing more really gets said about it. It's just a thing, okay, something exists that can infect literal planetary bodies. That doesn't seem to shake society or anything, or cause everyone to make nukes and just bombard the fucking thing until it drops into the sun. Nope, let's just cut the lore chapter here with a summary of things as they are!



So how are things? Well, governments are megacorps, which are enlightened enough to only have small mercenary wars, no great wars of conquest, and they never make WMD's, and also they allow all sorts of small, private competitors to pop up, because a truly enlightened business never attempts to become a monolithic monopoly. That would be ridiculous. Everyone's a furry now, except for the ones who are robots. Wait, what, robots? When did they mention robots? They didn't.



quote:

Substantial populations of robotic Cogs shore up the overall sentient contributors to everyday life and have lived alongside Vectors for centuries, in varying gradients of peaceful coexistence.




Because it's not like sentient fucking machines might merit major mention or have any sort of noteworthy impact on society! Better talk more about furries fighting fucking SPACE SLENDERMAN, wait, sorry, "Whispers" or "Pale Men." Better use the appropriate terminology.



quote:

The invention of transcendent technology has opened up amazing and terrifying new avenues of advancement, and keyed in a critical piece of the ancient and frightening puzzle that is the final days of human kind. Some who have received transcendent implants go insane upon tapping them, and exhibit behavior not unlike the Owl catastrophe centuries ago.




W-wait, what? What is "transcendent technology"? This is somehow connected to the metaplot but no one ever really bothered to mention it or explain what it is? Hello? Is the editor there? Or did he fucking kill himself after reading two pages and just leave the rest unedited? Christ. Fuck it, I'm done with the Lore, so that means I can take a break, you guys can look at this shitty art, and I'll be back with more miserable shit when I want to hate life again.



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 2
06:44pm EDT - 7/30/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

It was a lion, and it had wings.







Still Lore



quote:

That is, until the wild card arrived, walking cautiously out into the sun from the dark confines of one of the many bio-research labs that now littered the planet.



It was much smaller than a GeoMat, couldn’t reshape a mountain or boil rock into iron, and sustained mostly on fish and raw meat.



It marked the beginning of the end of the world.



It was a lion, and it had wings.




So whoop, OUTTA NOWHERE, hyper-awesome genetic research just happens. And dudes can just graft HAS_WINGS=YES into lion DNA and it flaps its way across the landscape eating people. Apparently, though, this level of genetic expertise hasn't come with any sort of wide-ranging, society-affecting consequences, like designer-babies, vat-grown organs or other things that vastly prolong human life. No, this avenue of research just made a beeline for WACKY PETS, and after making a Sphinx, it's apparently easy enough to also make "Griffins, dragons, hydras, all the marvelous beasts of myth and legend." Because identifying the necessary work to add feathered wings to a lion means you just need to copy-paste that genetic code to an alligator and you've got a dragon! Right?



Biology 101, sheeple.



And of course, while outraged, the governments are helpless before the CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY and can't do a damn thing about it when they decide to make hybrid monstrosities.



quote:

Before the governments of the world could so much as finish their gasps of shock and outrage, a brand new, multi-billion dollar industry was created. Clothing, accessories, custom pens and care-giving tools, and millions of requests for more elaborate and impressive creatures surged through the internet in an unstoppable wave of commerce.




Which leads to this quote I still have trouble parsing, I'm not sure if it's implied that the clothing, pens, etc. were somehow also genetically grown, or whether they just need to point out that HSD humanity is such a bunch of fucking suckers that they're now feeding their corporate overlords with billions upon billions of money's worth of merch. The quote's not that bad, though, it's just a breather before the part that's going to make every biology major's head explode.



Ready?



quote:

It was only a matter of time before some overzealous geneticist activated bipedalism in animals and tipped the final scale. To many, those bounds had long since been ground into dust, but this marked the inescapable truth. The first line of bipedal animals had human posture and anatomy paired with the animal-like dedication of domesticated pets, and the implications were too blatantly obvious to ignore.




Just a matter of "activating" that one line of "WALK UPRIGHT"-genetic code and BAM, now you've got fursonas walking the streets! And obviously the VERY FIRST GENERATION also look like humans have tits, no time for fuckups and intermediary generations that are shambling, drooling, damaged monstrosities. Nope, instant jump to something you wanna spank it to, just to make the moral outrage and claims that this whole thing is for dogfuckers seem even more absurd.



quote:

Sexual exploitation, abuse, allegations of bestiality and moral outrage, and to top it off, ludicrously high demand filled the media coverage of the day.



...



To some populations of the world, the new races were accepted as a logical progression of scientific expansion and the perfect companions for the elderly or infirm that needed loyal and constant companionship and something with the ability to manipulate their world. Up until now, that task had been delegated to helper robots, and this seemed a vastly superior alternative. Others were so disgusted by what they took to be blatant hedonism and hubris that they opened hunting up on the creatures, and piled the corpses up on their owners’ porches to show the community who owned them to begin with. On more than one occasion, the owner’s corpse was piled with them, with all mannor of profanity scribbled on their naked bodies. Lobbyists be damned, something had to be done.




This gives me a really strong Lifers vs Wiccans(I can't even remember what they're fucking called, now) vibe, the conflict from Otherverse: America. Because one side here has some genuine worries, the fact that people are creating a servitor species which have short lifespans, yet apparently are smart enough to serve in care positions for the elderly and infirm, and sexual characteristics, but are suggested to also lack the self-awareness and will to say no to someone who's their "master" or "owner." Yet there's no acknowledgement that any of these concerns have any kind of legitimacy, only vivid descriptions of the maddened extremes that the "conservatives" go to.



But, anyway, the governments finally get off their asses and, quite sanely, ban having any of these fucking monsters outside of Corptowns, or making new ones.



quote:

forcing corptown citizens to cloister further into their private utopias and watch as progress was crushed by the overbearing weight of stagnation.




Right back to describing Corptowns as utopias, so much for the brief moments of admitting Captains of Industry as having flaws! Also, you know, maybe the Corptown citizens could just own up and admit that this latest "progress" was fucking skeevy and creepy, then they could leave their towns with no worries. "Thankfully," someone mails all the project files to the Mars corporations. And having nothing better to do, and certainly no resource shortage, because why would a young colony on a barren world have that(no years are really attached to this, but since the first "sphinx" was to celebrate Martian independence from Earth's governments, and the Martian colonies existed some two years before that, I'm going to guess it's not much more than a decade onwards), they're clearly the greatest place in the world to start producing a population of limited-intellect creatures that can't really contribute, only consume.



Hilariously, the message attached to the data was "save them." The Mars colonies look at it, go, "Hmmmm... they're gonna be kinda retarded and useless. So how about we do something entirely different, that's not going to actually save the original designs?"



The original hybrids were animals combined with other animals, and some novel genetic code, these new ones are literally just human fetuses with bits grafted on while they grow in vats, which raises a whole bunch of OTHER ethical questions about what right someone has to alter an unborn child for the sake of their own amusement, aesthetic preferences or corporate profit.



quote:

MarsCo chose to approach the problem of intelligence from a different direction: they would turn the human into the animal, instead of the animal into the human. By manipulating cloned human “blanks,” or genetic fetuses built from scratch, and endowing them with the same appearance and features of the previously abolished species of bipedal pets, MarsCo reset the evolutionary clock and emerged with something new.



...



Armed with the full set of from-scratch genes at their disposal, MarsCo removed vestigial organs, improved the efficiency of critical organs to help increase lifespans, integrated various stopgaps to combat common health problems and even developed a muscular maintenance enzyme that would combat atrophy in low gravity environments and allow for the rapid adaptation between one world and another. Body heat maintenance was assessed so the presence of fur wouldn’t cause the instant smoldering of the person it belonged to, and secret communication to prominent genecorps who supported the plan helped fill in the blanks in the science to ensure that the experiment would succeed on the first attempt, out of fear that they may not get a chance at a second try. As Mars’ terraforming operation entered its final stage, the first non-human sentient race known to man was created. Due to the nature of their development, Vectoring human evolution down a dramatically different pathway, the new species were called “Vectors.”




Wait a moment. What?



"As Mars’ terraforming operation entered its final stage"



I realize that they're being very vague about the timeline, and that it could've been five years, ten years, maybe twenty years since the first settling, but it's described as though all of this happened rather quickly. And even if we're gonna be very generous and say that Mars can be terraformed at all, it's definitely not gonna be terraformed enough to be human-habitable on anything resembling a short fucking timescale, or with the resources of only three small colonies when, apparently, all Earth's major governments are opposed to them, and still maintain enough strength to enforce their legislation with regards to hybrid monstrosities on the Corptowns. Goddammit, fucking, shit.



Oh, yeah, and, I guess the "science" reminds me an awful lot of Wraeththu. "UH THEY MADE THINGS MORE EFFICIENT, THAT'S HOW THEY WORK."



They also made a breeding population of fursonas at first and steered and organized their breeding, which also isn't creepy or abusive or anything like keeping slaves, or anything. Totally not fucking weird, yo.



But anyway, cue the whole "THIS IS CREEPY, BURN THE ABOMINATIONS"-theater again, except this time the pro-furries are busting out the SICK BURNS.



quote:

Others argued that this was the realm of God, and humanity did not possess enough responsibility as a race to foster a new one. That too became a trick pedestal to stand on, as humanity certainly seemed to possess enough responsibility to kill a race. The sheer level of extinction on Earth was evidence enough of that.



...



Governments played the long game, and built their societies to endure under singular principles for the duration. The very presence of this new species would cause such a dramatic shift in those principles that many feared a general collapse. Vector phobia gripped mass populations, fueled by campaigns for support among their governments, as though the very presence of one of them on Earth would result in a viral collapse of modern civilization.




I literally do not understand half of that second statement. I'm not sure what the hell they mean about "Governments played the long game, and built their societies to endure under singular principles for the duration," but I guess it's meant to be something about how national governments don't tolerate dissent, because earlier there was a bit about how innovative and embracing of all new and awesome things the corporate governments were.



But anyway, the Martians keep sending Earth videos of happy furry children, which pisses everyone off. Nationalist militias raid corptowns, corporate militias and secury forces raid suburbs, both sides declare war. All of Earth's nations join together and organize an economic policy to guard themselves against the corporations crashing everything... and then the corporations crash everyone's economies within seven months and this is enough to make half of all the pro-nation forces defect or switch sides just for food and medicine for themselves and their families, because somehow corporations, without standing militaries or military traditions, manage to hold out for over half a year despite being scattered across Earth in widely spaced enclaves, and Earth's nations can't manage to stockpile food and medicine for their armed forces and their families for half a year's time.



What's Mars doing during all of this? Making more furries, because that's what really matters, I guess. Also it turns out that a couple of casual mistakes in genetic work don't create drooling, downsy fursonas, but instead makes "taurs." Yes, cat-taurs, lion-taurs, all the fucking furry something-taurs you can think of was because someone was sloppy at coding his fursona.



quote:

One wave was nearly completely lost when the bipedalism gene sequence utterly failed to express, and MarsCo was forced to try an experimental living-mutation technique to save them lest over three hundred fetuses be lost. The emergency save allowed the growing bodies to complete their gestation, but resulted in sentient beings that were completely animal in appearance. The irony of the accidental creation of a subspecies with human intelligence and an animal body from science that resulted from the destruction of a subspecies with animal intelligence and a humanoid body was lost on no one.




I love that even though they care so little for the rights of self-determination of the unborn to fuck around with them prior to their birth, just aborting them when they're clearly gonna have grievous birth defects isn't acceptable, instead they're going to try EXPERIMENTS that are gonna leave them fucked up forever. Wonderful. It's sure gonna be great having a human mind but no fucking opposable thumbs or ability to stand upright or, you know, generally exist in a human environment or manipulate human tools. Woo! Go Mars! THESE ARE OUR HEROES, GUYS!



quote:

By late in the second year of open war, corptowns were fighting back, building buffer zones around their territory to avoid falling victim to long range shelling. To the armies outside, they were now aggressively expanding, and lending legitimacy to the long standing rumor that all of this was just one more trick to destroy the traditions and values of the countries in which they existed. Civilians who refused to leave their homes as the corptowns reached outward to the surrounding cities were captured and imprisoned, or quietly disappeared.




More imprecise writing! Who was disappearing these people? Were the corporations kidnapping and executing people who refused to vacate territory for them? Or were the nations killing people simply for not being afraid enough of the corporations? This shit cannot possibly have had an editor. Anyway, Earth's nations still can't get their shit together economically, because corporations are ~just so dreamy~, so they decide to use nukes.



Thankfully the corporations have TECHNOMAGIC defenses so they can just "redirect" ICBM's, somehow. Just how much of the fucking Earth is corporate-owned, anyway? It's stated that the corptowns are all bottled up after the first furries pissed everyone off, but apparently they've got enough territory that even multiple successful nuclear strikes, despite the redirects, don't break their back. Also they're literally why the Earth gets nuke-fucked, because they force the nations to throw four times as many nukes at them, because three out of every four get "redirected."



The responsible reaction to Earth becoming a nuked-out wasteland is just to jab people up with random, animal-like mutations in the hope that a half-labrador or a half-tiger will be able to survive a nuclear war better than a human. Are there even any living things particularly resistant to nuclear fallout outside of some insects and, I guess, some molds/fungi? So far we've been told that the only "vectors" made have been mammals. So good luck surviving nuclear fallout because you've got a pretty mane of hair. Somehow, though, despite a NUCLEAR WAR GOING ON, there's still enough orbital lift capacity to shuttle most of these people to Mars until the nationalists smuggle a nuke on board one transport and blow up the spaceport on Mars.



quote:

Mars continued on alone, its doors to space now closed and too hindered by trying to support its local population through barely established agricultural systems to attempt to repair its damage or lend Earth any support.




GEE, MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE SPAWNED A COUPLE THOUSAND EXTRA MOUTHS TO FEED JUST TO MAKE A POINT, YOU CHUCKLEFUCKS.



Despite all the nuclear war, though, the Earth is largely surviving, and the corps are getting their asses kicked, but then someone, some fucking idiot, releases a MAGIC TECHNOVIRUS. Called Hydra.



quote:

It transcended digital communication, almost as though it could step behind the 0’s and 1’s and simply move electromagnetism to where it wanted.




It takes it literally an hour to hijack all of Earth's nukes, and then it just starts firing them all off until Earth is glassed. Simply because.



And after Earth gets snuffed out, there's still, like, ten fucking pages' worth of "lore" to go through. This is gonna hurt.



EDIT: Also, just so everyone knows, I haven't been ignoring any art, this book just basically has none. It's practically nothing but walls of fucking preachy text.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 1
06:35pm EDT - 7/30/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones



I'm not actually sure how to intro this, I have no idea how bad it is, maybe it's a hidden gem. All I'm going by is the ATROCIOUS SCI-FI FURSONA on the goddamn cover, it promises the sort of badness I've been needing a fix of ever since I tapped out Chris Fields' more noteworthy atrocities. So, let's see what we've got waiting for us!

292 pages, 70-ish for the setting, about as many again for chargen, and then about 150 pages' worth of rules, pregenerated enemies and the like.

Quote:

A quick page-through of this book will give you a general idea of what you’re in for in a HSD game, but only a general one: space fantasy, animallike characters, an apparent lack of humans, and the presence of a few creepy looking monsters, all pretty cut and dry. But, if this setting were only about being a fox person in a space suit, this book would be dramatically shorter. There’s much more in here than just that, and it’s in those nuances that even people who aren’t fans of the visual motif can find fascinating possibilities.

I think this may not be a hidden gem, as I read the very first page. It tells me about how this game is set after humanity destroyed itself, in the process replacing itself with cyborg furries, and how this somehow destroyed all old biases and reasons for discrimination.

Quote:

Their old planet was leveled, as was the vast majority of its cultural history and heritage, and all the previous biases associated with slavery, racism, classism, sexism, and so many others that all grew out of thousands of years of human cultural growth and change were effectively wiped out as the old race died and the new race took its place. Are such biases gone forever? Of course not.

At least it admits that those things aren't going to be gone forever, but I'm feeling a strange sense of deja vu, product of roughly 2003, on the Portal of Evil forums, where an evangelical furry ranted to us about the amazing future that science was going to bring, when he could have a self-lubricating anus and catgirl slaves, because science was going to provide that, it was just around the corner, any moment now, a furry Utopia.

Quote:

HSD is not about ‘getting in touch with your animal side’, as so many anthropomorphic systems encourage. You’re welcome to, if that’s the way you’d like to play it, but the setting is intended to allow you to get in touch with your human side instead. Not the culture you were raised in, or the history you’ve experienced; not whether you’re black, white, red, yellow, or polychromatic; not your geographical history or the wars your species has been in; your humanity. Just that. Devoid of the centuries of cultural momentum that currently governs our thinking and thrust into a brand new world with its own unique challenges.

Completely unlike all those other RPG's set in a world completely unrelated to Earth. So I guess this is gonna teach us all about love, friendship and the true meaning of Christmas.

But outside of acting like it's going to completely shatter the mold and blow our minds, HSD(I'm refusing to type out the full name any more than I absolutely have to, fuck it) starts out with the same "what is an RPG"-section we've seen a thousand times. Explaining to newcomers to the hobby what roleplaying is, what dice are, what a GM does, Rule Zero and all that stuff. So I'm not going to recap it, and instead we're going to dive into the lore chapter.

LORE

The Lore section starts off by explaining to us that most historical conflicts are because we're too separated by geography to understand each other, and governments brainwash us, but thanks to the magic of the internet, people finally started realizing that those living in other countries were human, too. Except of course for the staunch conservatives who couldn't understand the wonders of being online and playing Mortal Kombat against your friends in Vietnam.

Quote:

At first, this divide was a minor inconvenience. Acts and laws would come and go attempting to govern, censor or control internet based association. Most would be blocked or voted down by citizens more attached to their internet relationships than to their geographical ones, which only furthered the divide. When conflicts between nations arose, the situation grew dramatically worse. Now, communication between best friends suddenly became “consorting with the enemy,” and the public outcry was tremendous. As the world became more and more integrated, the chasm between the old regime and the people still trapped within it became more than many could stand. Civil unrest was on its way toward civil war when a new opportunity released the steam, if only to throw fuel on the fire later.


The Geomat? If that's a river or a road next to it in the lower right, I want to know how the fuck it's mobile. It's also described as "battleship-sized" in the text, this looks a tad bigger.

I feel like this isn't quite the 21st century that most of the rest of us are living in, where aggressive censorship is the last resort of a few, autocratic states and most governments don't try to legislate who you can talk to online, or what you can say to them, unless it involves something that's illegal in the physical world, too. But anyway, there's a New Opportunity! Coming along, it's the GeoMat(tm), a giant, mobile factory that can core raw materials out of the ground, 3D printing to make just about anything(including new copies of itself, I suspect 3D printing magic may be HSD's version of Eclipse Phase's nanotechnology magic) and is effectively self-contained. The description of it, is followed up by this paragraph:

Quote:

In stark contrast to the stationary mountain that is Government, there was the fluid river that is Business. In the free market, businesses could turn and twist and adapt, market themselves for different audiences, sympathize with different needs, and operate without the same tethers that bound so many private citizens. Theirs was the power of money, without which government could not sustain itself. Money bought leniency within the rule, and the simple greed of capitalism portrayed a sort of bizarre purity next to the holier-thanthou declarations of principles made by most governing bodies before they charged into some act of violence, conquest or general dishonesty toward their own citizens or others.

Well yes, obviously, who has ever heard of business involved in deceit or violence? This makes perfect sense and is a completely believable description of the real world.

Quote:

The knowledge that an entity was motivated purely by a desire to increase their profit margin in return for goods and services was refreshing next to the slew of lies, scandal, deceit and violence disguised as moral allegations and broad declarations of right and wrong that dripped from government bodies.

Hc Svnt Dracones, an accurate description of human psychology and behavior. I know I'm certainly more well-intentioned towards entities that I know are going to fuck me over, rather than ones that may be benevolent! But anyway, because the humans of HSD have terminal brain damage, they all love the corporations and swap national loyalty for brand loyalty, moving to Corptowns built by the Geomats. Also the Geomats were environmentally friendly, too! Because a mobile strip-mining operation totally isn't going to poison huge swathes of the countryside or anything. Mind, these things also apparently changed the entire world, but I'd love to see one of these fucking things trying to move around in Europe. Sure, in America, there's plenty of free space to strip mine, lots of empty space to move around in, same for most of Asia, Africa, South America... but I know that in Europe, at least, you'd never have that fucking thing far enough from a settled area not to be poisoning their water supplies or wrecking their roads, power lines, water lines, etc. when rumbling across them. But all the world's just one big homogenous blob, here. Every place loves corporations and benefits from Geomats

But, you know, CORPTOWNS, obviously now you get corporate citizens, they get corporate education, etc.

Quote:

Corporate education would leave a person in debt, but not impossible debt. Citizens that played the game could see light at the end of the tunnel, and it was reachable, unlike the old days of company stores. When the system was actually working, it worked beautifully, and corptowns shone like diamonds amongst the comparatively undereducated populations around them.

"Okay, so we're going to acknowledge that the corporations might be mean, too, but at least they're way more efficient than governments, and more HONEST about being mean, and people have better chances with them!" I'm going to almost be surprised if there isn't a line about how the trains in the Corptowns always run on time, this is leaning dangerously close to some people's worship of fascist/autocratic figures for being strong/efficient, even if they're dishonest/amoral.

Quote:

Space exploration long sat fallow due to an overall lack in returns. It was a curiosity, a public showing, but to most governments, not much else. That changed with the second generation of GeoMats, which were designed to operate in vacuum and under varying degrees of pressure. They were originally intended to work in watery environments to help alleviate the growing population of Earth by building out into the ocean, but when faced with environmental complaints and activism groups concerned about the potential impact on Earth’s largest feature, the corporate entities of the world turned their eyes skyward, and hit upon a new idea.

Why would we need to build into the OCEAN? We've got SHITLOADS of empty space on land, goddammit. Do these people even know anything? And operating undersea and in space aren't quite the same thing. Not to mention, like I've said, Geomats are described as battleship-sized. Getting something the size and weight of a battleship into fucking space, isn't a minor fucking accomplishment, and there's no mention of any new technologies that would make it workable. No warp gates, no space elevators, no big honking mass drivers.

I realize this may seem like silly nitpicking, but I'm treating this like the Wraeththu RPG, when it pretended that its mutations were scientifically somehow viable, rather than just saying "TECHNOBABBLE!" or "IT'S MAGIC!" This goddamn thing is really trying to present itself as a believable path the future might take, so I'm going to put it through the wringer. But anyway, let's pretend this makes even a whit of sense. Now the corporations are going to Mars! They establish colonies on Mars! And then...

Quote:

For the first time in history a company was created completely outside geographical government ruling, as no nation had yet established recognized control over any territory on another planet. By merging and splitting off from their parent corporations, this new entity severed its ties to any Earthlocked contracts, and refused to continue paying taxes to the nations from which their employees originated. It sent Earth’s political machine into an uproar, and made several very wealthy people in very tall buildings smile slyly as their Corp-loyal populations cheered this first decisive blow against the ancient sleeping dragon of government from which they had originally fled.

This is described as about two years since Mars settling begins. I'm sure these colonies are entirely self-sufficient and won't just horribly starve as governments embargo any attempts to send them food supplies. But maybe they just use the magic of 3D printing to print Martian dust into pizza or whatever the fuck. Also yes, I'm sure that people would cheer and praise corporations for refusing to pay taxes. Now, yes, sure, this is their corp-indoctrinated population, but one of the very first things the book told us about was how The Internet was freeing people from old, nationalist indoctrination. Is it somehow not able to free people from corporate indoctrination? Hmmm. It's almost as though the authors might have a bias here.

Also I suspect that legislation on outside-of-Earth territoriality would be fast-tracked and sorted out as quickly as possible the moment someone started mentioning the idea of off-world colonies. Gah, none of this makes sense.

I'm four out of twenty-ish pages of "History" in, and there's already this much stuff that strikes me as poorly-thought-out trash. I think I'm going to need to put this down for a moment.

Next time, more lore! We're going to get to the bit with the GENETIC MODIFICATION that makes the super furries that will inherit the Solar system(not Earth, though, Earth is totally fucked, because this wasn't cribbing enough from Eclipse Phase). I wonder whether it's going to make any actual biologists/chemists froth as much as Wraeththu did.

~PurpleXVI

[#] What if you\'re not prepared?
02:47pm EDT - 9/19/2014
  I think we've all been in this situation before(those of us cursed eternally to GM, and never to play, at least). Maybe the game hasn't been on our mind all week, maybe we've been distracted, maybe we've got ideas but none of them are quite polished enough to use for this session or maybe the ideas we WERE going to go with were simply reliant on the presence of the player who had to go ahead and work overtime or get sick this particular session, but we don't want to make the others miss a game just for that.

But it's only a couple of hours till gametime, and you're not prepared! What can you do?

Why you should be prepared

There are some things that are relatively easy to improvise, especially if it's a game that runs a lot more on thematics than on crunch, for instance like FATE, or if it's a game heavy on social stuff. But some things always require preparation, for instance combat. An improvised fight can either be a meaningless hour of mooks running into the players and being unable to harm them, or it can be a "CR 4"* creature pulling a total TPK(Total Party Kill) on a 10th-level party simply because you forgot to actually run the maths on its stats and abilities.

A dungeon crawl, of any sort or by any theme, can also quickly turn into a lot of oddly identical rooms and choices on whether to take the left or right turn fifty times in a row if you didn't actually prepare any content to fill it(or maybe if you didn't make a map, but one of the players IS mapping, he may come to the conclusion that they've wandered into some sort of wormhole or singularity because by now they've passed through their own route ten times without seeing the same things).

You may be introducing a major character un-statted, expecting him to make an epic escape or simply talk with the players(leaving you time to stat him properly for a future session), but when the players throw a punch out of the blue, and he's got no character sheet, you have to decide if he demolishes them out of hand or whether they just stab him, get away with it and you have to revamp your entire plot.

*For those not familiar with the D&D editions between 3rd and 5th, they used a theoretical system, "Challenge Rating" or "CR" to judge the strength of a creature. Unfortunately this CR was only loosely based on anything, and made a lot of huge assumptions(players always have a mage and cleric, for instance), not to mention was instituted for most creatures in a vacuum never considering splatbooks and supplements past the core three(PHB, DMG, MM), and ended up being about as useful as tits on a bicycle. A CR1(intended for a 1st-level party of four people) creature could utterly demolish a group, five times above that, while a CR10 creature could likewise be stomped by a group of 2nd-level characters.

So what do you do, then?

In short, the answer is to distract them. Most players tend to have a lot of easy triggers you can pull to give them the fast food equivalent of gaming. Something that doesn't leave them particularly filled over the course of the campaign, and which they'll get sick of if overfed with, but which they'll happily gobble down for a session every now and then and compliment you on.

Of course, it's also about knowing your players, depending on how much initiative they actually take in situations, it may be more or less easy to distract them. Players that take a lot of initiative and like considering choices and options and making plans are the easiest, while those that stare blankly into the air without clearly labelled options A and B(don't introduce a C or they'll probably panic) are, perversely, almost impossible to befuddle.

Each experienced GM probably has his own methods for distracting the players, but I find that there's a short-list I can make use of in most cases...

Shopping Trip

One of the most "classic" NPC's(at least to me) in just about any setting or story with even the faintest fantasy twinge is someone the players might recognize as CMOT Dibbler from Pratchett's Discworld books. In other words, a highly charismatic bullshit artist who will attempt to flog non-flying magic carpets, magic lamps full of nothing but spiderwebs and enchanted swords that couldn't cut toast to the players, but who does it with a smile and never gets offended if the players call him out on his bullshit(but does lament that they're leaving his 1d6+2 children, wife and assorted livestock to starve. Reroll the number of children for each lament, even if it's the same salesman).

In most cases, players get mesmerized by him, wanting to see what the next thing is, curious about whether any of the items actually have any use, even if unintended(maybe the magical sword isn't merely blunt, it actually sucks so hard that it makes what it touches harder to cut, could have defensive uses!), and are of course on the lookout for a bargain. Have him pepper the conversation with a few "facts" about what exciting origins these items have and you've got future quest hooks(especially if he offers to sell them totally legit maps to these not-at-all-tapped-out sources of artifacts).

Despite largely being a fantasy archetype(in my experience), he can, of course, also be jammed into sci-fi games, where he'll offer to sell them totally-not-stolen starcruisers and ancient alien doodads that will make the players young, virile and immortal. It's a bit harder in modern games(if there's no occult element), but it can be done.

Generally, the ease is that you can simply keep making up new products until the players get tired(which will probably be half a session if you play it well), and that each product is simply something that they want or might be interested in(vorpal swords in D&D, plasma guns in WH40k, a kebab not made from dog meat in a modern game), but with some sort of obvious, unmentioned flaw that is entirely obvious the moment someone uses it/holds it/looks at it(the sword can't cut hot butter, the plasma gun emits copious amounts of thick, greasy smoke when you press the trigger, the kebab is, in fact, made of plastic). As soon as the players point it out, the merchant offers them a discount or tries to explain away the flaw(It can cut anything BUT butter, just try it somewhere far away from him, the smoke will clear up in a few minutes, plastic is actually more nutritious than meat and vegetables).

Then when the players discard buying the item(or buy it heavily discounted, perhaps with a look towards scamming someone else), he brings out the next thing in his repetoire and laments for his starving children again.

Potential Crisis

This one is a bit simpler and a bit of a mindfuck, it doesn't always work, but when it does, you'd be surprised at how it can throw the players for a loop. It works best when the players are currently in the middle of travelling from one place to another with NPC's along, and it works simply by putting a potential crisis on the horizon. It could look like a natural disaster, it could look like an obstruction or it could look like enemies.

But it's not clearly ANY of them, and the players have to choose whether to delay themselves or head straight through it(and maybe the delay heads past/through something ELSE that looks worrying). Now, the trick is to get them trying to decide which option they'd rather take, or what to do to ward off danger. What they don't know is that no matter WHAT they do, they'll have made the right choice for avoiding danger, so they'll argue, they'll debate, they'll try to use their skills for more info, they'll ask NPC's(who will, of course, only contribute to the gridlock by supporting whichever argument is currently losing).

When they finally make up their mind, biting their nails... it'll turn out they were right, they'll be relieved, high-five and feel good about themselves. By then, of course, half the session might have passed and you might be able to go, "Gee whiz, guys, I'd love to keep running, but this seems like a decent cliffhanger and the next bit is something I'd hate to interrupt halfway through... how about we pause here and tackle the next part with a full session?" Players never seem to recognize that this excuse is almost always because you need to do more planning.

The Sims: RPG

Some players love to play with dollhouses.

Give them property, ANY sort of property, and they'll want a map. Then they'll try to decide what to do with each part. Where can they put a winecellar? What sort of drapes will the big window on the bridge of their starcruiser need? Should the necromantic chapel be lined with femurs or ribcages?

The ease of messing with this one is, again, down to player personalities, they have to actually enjoy this sort of thing, and also down to whether you can reasonably introduce any sort of property to them. Sometimes it's easy, for instance if someone's got some Manse-rating in Exalted and never bothered to stat it out because he just wanted the goddamn hearthstone, or if it's assumed that everyone's got a home in a Modern game but never expected their apartment to be particularly relevant.

But a few oblique questions that might suggest someone's going to get attacked in their apartment will get them started down the road on what they've got in their home, what it looks like and how they could best fortify it against zombie hordes.

This sort of thing mostly works well in the first few sessions of a game, however, and is hard to sneak in later. But hey, sometimes we need this sort of thing in the first few sessions.

Be a man, admit you forgot to prepare, postpone the session

Ha ha ha. I'm such a funny guy.

When have any of us actually done that?

Thanks for tuning in to yet another of my stupid rambles, and if you want to tell me how awesome or stupid I am for writing it, pop on to the IRC.

~PurpleXVI

[#] No Fun Allowed: Stross Edition
02:14pm EDT - 5/30/2014
Welcome to another edition of "Your Fun Sucks And You Should Feel Bad."

Today we're going to explore why Charles Stross is a goddamn hack and anyone enjoying his "The Laundry" novels should summarily sterilize themselves. Let's start with an introduction to the series for those of you who are suffering from senile dementia or have yet to read them(lucky bastards).

The Laundry proclaims that it's a different, unique take on the by-now somewhat tired old Cthulhu mythos and attendant concepts of universal nihilism, god is dead(or never was), terrible things lurk in the dark, etc. etc. Most of the basics are still the same, in that dark gods lurk in space, underground, and in the oceans, and doing the wrong shit can awaken them, end the world, or summon bad stuff. Now, where it tries to be different is that instead of sorcery... it's really just high-tech technology and mathematics that make it all function. And instead of a square-jawed manly investigator, our protagonist is basically a dweeby sysadmin for the tough guys who really DO go and resolve things.

Alright, so clearly, this isn't a bad concept. I mean, seriously, it could be fun, right? Possibly even funny, not taking itself too seriously, that sort of thing.

And for most of the first book, this largely holds true. Our protagonist is a bit of a dork, he does just enough to justify being the protagonist rather than a side character, but by and large he seems relatively realistic. It's not all love and roses, clearly, there's the issue that he still scores with the staggeringly hot girl, the terrible writing for his winceworthily stereotypically prancing homosexual roommates, etc. but it could scrape by as just a bit rough, rather than outright bad.

Then we get to the second book. It features the line "Occupied by a dead man's dick."

Now, the first book hints a bit that Stross maybe needs to go have a wank before he writes, but the second one cements it. Like, really, our protagonist teams up with a sex demon who, because of PLOT, has him psychically tagging along when she fucks a guy (and kills them in the process). Again, sex isn't necessarily bad, but when written in first-person-perspective by someone who clearly needs to get laid to work out some weirdness, it's not something I want to be along for. See because in one of the cases, the guy dies DURING the fucking, not AFTER, so our protag narrates himself jerking off while the succubus rides the dead guy's still-rigid wang. This is a no thing.

Also the stereotypical homosexual roommates get even more offensively mincing and our protag fucks a Deep One.

Still, if that was the worst of it, then you'd have to hate on a lot of authors for having badly-written sex scenes in their books. This is a thing authors do... no, what we REALLY hate on Stross for here is, much like the Dresden Files, essentially betraying the Laundry's core concept by the second book. Our dweeby sysadmin kills frogmen and generally acts like a fucking James Bond character more than a dweeby fucking sysadmin. It very quickly starts feeling like Stross put a bit too much of himself into the guy and desperately wants him to be a badass so he can feel like one by proxy.

Also, re-iterating: OCCUPIED BY A DEAD MAN'S DICK.

It's frankly a shame, too, because Stross actually does come up with a good concept for this one, namely somewhat-strained diplomatic relations between humanity(secretly, obviously) and the Deep Ones, getting more complicated when someone wants to basically snatch a doomsday weapon(a cybernetic Chthonian) out from under their noses and use it for Generic Villainy.

Essentially it's a story that would've been good if anyone else had been writing it.

So I can only assume that if you bother to read his shit, you're like Stross and jumping on the weird power-fantasy bandwagon, that your taste is shit, or that you like dead men's dicks.

Thank you and goodnight.

~PurpleXVI

[#] Eclipse Phase
08:56pm EST - 1/09/2014
More Fun To Read Than To Play


Now that "all" of Eclipse Phase is out and it's basically a "done" game until an eventual second edition or the rumoured FATE conversion happens, it might be time to look through it and see what it got right, what it got wrong, and which things they go so wrong we should just outright mock them for it.

A Brief Timeline


The original EP corebook came out in 2009 accompanied by considerable hype and containing basically everything you needed to play the game, but being at kind of a dearth for information about a lot of the actual gameworld(which can, I suppose, be excused, considering that said gameworld covered nine planets, countless off-planet habitats, asteroids, comets and exoplanets).

2010 provided Sunwards(near-Sol to Mars) and Gatecrashing(away-from-Sol locations accessible via the Pandora Gates) and both were essentially necessary to actually use any of those elements. Sunwards finally gave the Planetary Consortium, LLA and Morningstar Constellation some actual details and gave some canonical habs to work with. Prior to Gatecrashing, there were literally no mechanics or any sort of real information beyond a couple of vague paragraphs with regards to the Pandora Gates, it also had a lot of useful hard-scifi stuff for GM's who wanted to be detailed when making their own alien planets.

Panopticon in 2011 was the book where they made up for largely forgetting Uplifts and realizing that they'd made a relatively undetailed review of hacking and computer security in the core book, despite having a world where even half the population's brains could be hacked.

2012's Rimwards expounded on the Sol system from Jupiter outwards, again sorely needed considering the very, very vague sketch we'd been given of things in the core book.

Finally in 2013 we got what's looking to be the last Eclipse Phase book until the system gets an overhaul/conversion: Transhuman. It's the only book that's purely mechanics and zero fluff, containing a revised character generation system that does a lot to make things more interesting.

Oh and there's also Glory. Glory is going to get its own subheading.

An Overview of Eclipse Phase


The core conceit of Eclipse Phase is that some Unspecified Period into the future, things are going decently for humanity. We're expanding into the solar system and have experimented with Seed AI's(self-improving AI's) named the TITANs. Predictably, considering the ominous name and the utter stupidity inherent in permitting an intellect-singularity, the TITANs go insane and decide to start massively fucking humanity over. Earth rapidly becomes uninhabitable, billions are killed, displaced or forcibly have their minds uploaded into TITAN memory banks.

Earth is sealed off by the off-planet authorities, leaving the surviving TITANs either trapped on Earth or having escaped out of the system through the Pandora Gates, being newly-discovered alien artifacts connecting to vast networks of Pandora Gates in other solar systems, permitting instantaneous travel between them. The TITANs have at this point also basically evolved into horrifying things utilizing femtotech and nanoplagues, real Lovecraftian horror stuff. Humanity eventually stabilizes the situation, and this is where the players are introduced. The game intends for them to be agents of Firewall, a secret organization dedicated to preventing humanity fucking itself over by fucking with seed AI's, TITANs/remnant TITAN technology or alien technology in the future.

Oh yeah, there are aliens. We'll get into that later.

The main "novel" mechanics for EP are that minds can be uploaded and transferred, meaning that players can swap bodies. It also adds a "horror" element that minds can be stolen, modified and etc. But as most people know by now, "horror" RPG's are easier said than done.

What They Got Right


All of the in-setting fiction, from snippets to exposition to start-of-chapter/start-of-book storytelling is excellently written. It really does feel like they got people with writing experience doing this, not just random grogs who wanted to write about their goddamn waifu characters. It also feels like, by and large, thought was actually put into how all of the new technologies and concepts would change people's attitudes and lives. The art also deserves praise, as it's well-done, creepy and doesn't just gank some pre-existing aesthetic, but seems very dedicated to creating one of its own.

Everything about the game speaks of creators who really, really wanted to do something good, who really had soul, and some degree of talent, and invested both into Eclipse Phase.

What They Fucked Up


Sadly, just WANTING to do things right isn't a magical potion. Once past the writing(which does have its issues at times), the game starts to show some strain.

The core mechanic, 1d100-roll-under, is functional enough, but considering the low cap for skills and the lack of any modifiers like perks or feats, characters and monsters tend to end up very similar and there's very little room for describing a truly exceptional individual or dangerous enemy. Considering the hugely generous point pool for chargen, it's very likely that most characters will never see any growth after being created.

Equipment-wise and morph-wise(morphs being the setting's words for the bodies that can be swapped between), there are also a very few, very obviously superior choices that aren't even exceptionally expensive to make them something to aim for in the long run. You can start out with a "maxed" loadout during chargen except for one or two very specialized morphs. In fact, morphs are a specific issue in and of themselves. They're split into three groups: Bio(entirely organic), Pod(heavily mixed cybernetic and biological) and Synth(entirely robotic). Biomorphs and Synths each have their strengths and weaknesses, as well as some mods that the other group cannot use. Pods, on the other hand, have nothing unique or exceptional except for a tendency towards(very shit) natural weapons and low cost, they can't use any of the group-exclusive mods, and have no exclusive mods of their own.

They're really only useful to use if your GM regularly and viciously one-shots party members and they need cheap body replacements, because you may as well otherwise just make a hyperstrong, 'roided out, modded-to-the-max bio or synthmorph that he can't kill without cheap one-shots.

As mentioned, equipment-wise it's really bad. Literally only ballistic weapons are worth using, a bit of mods and special ammo and they're by far the superior choice for ANY situation. Armors have different kinetic/energy resistance values, but the difference is never huge enough to justify energy weapons over ballistic, and the Spray/Explosive weapons have even less going for them. Melee weapons are really only competitive if you focus EVERYTHING about your character on maxing their damage and then wear power armor to boost it further.

The issue is that the mentality appears to have been that players have a lot of sub-standard morph/equipment choices they might have to resort to in pressed situations, but since they can start from chargen with the best choices, it really requires the GM to take away a lot of their toys immediately after chargen, which is a dickasstastic goddamn move from any GM. Either don't give them the toys or don't just strip them away arbitrarily.

And starting off with all the best stuff and letting PC's make themselves superhard to kill and carrying a bunch of stuff they do not want to sacrifice also kind of sabotages resleeving(getting put into a new body) as a mechanic, because why would they ever swap unless it was for disguise purposes, upgrading(which there's little left to do) or after being killed(which they're unlikely to be)?

Another useless thing they added is Psi. One nanotech virus unleashed by the TITANs rewires your brain towards you being psychic, but without turning you into a monstrous, Lovecraftian terror. Sounds neat, right? Except Psi is basically entirely useless. It has one or two useful powers out of twenty or so, no combat applications, and generally sucks except as a plot hook. There are SOME really awesome, powerful psi sleights... but they're restricted for use by totally corrupted TITAN servants/monstrosities, not for PC's.

Despite really lauding the writing earlier, they also made some slipups there. The core book mentions an alien species, the Factors, that makes contact with humanity not too long after the TITAN issue... and then none of the other books ever really bring them up. They're not encountered on the other side of any Pandora gates and somehow they just seem to not affect humanity at all. They're just there, slightly odd, don't even switch anything up or introduce any cool new technologies. Similarly, two large groups, one antagonist to Firewall, the other neutral(Project Ozma and Oversight, respectively) get brief mentions in the corebook and then, again, never really get elaborated on all that much.

Ozma is just nebulously a bunch of dickheads with no real motivation for it that's ever elaborated on, Oversight(essentially the Planetary Consortium's police force/FBI/CIA) could be an immensely handy ally or potential enemy depending on how players handle situations... but there's nothing to really help the GM utilize them for it.

There are also some hilariously blatant writer biases in the setting. Religion tends to be disparaged unless it's Eastern, and adherents tend to be referred to as "clinging on" to their antiquated beliefs. The main religious force in the Sol system is the Jovians, who are entirely antagonistic and whose churches are literally just religious Wal-Marts, entirely corrupt and commercialized. Anything reminiscent of current social models or economic systems also tend to be ruthlessly portrayed as evil/sinister and part of mankind's eventual doom.

By comparison, anything related to Anarchy, Communism, Socialism and rebelling against THE MAN tends to be shown in a positive light. Even when it's completely absurd hedonism and insanity that results, it tends to have a less vicious vocabulary directed against it. And for the record, I'm actually a proponent of Communism and Socialism and I still think they're aggressive and ham-handed about the whole thing.

Oh and then there's Glory. Fucking GLORY.

Glory, Glory Hallelujaaaaaaaargh


A detailed review of Glory by yours truly

I reviewed Glory once, but here's the Cliff's Notes: It's a fucking hentai adventure about rapist fuck-aliens planning to spread boner-alien spores all across the solar system and infect everyone with their dongthirst. And it's official. It's not fanmade. It's shit on every level and it's utterly depressing that it was allowed to become a thing. It's an adventure that needs to point out that the exsurgent virus carried by the Glory exsurgents can be spread by sexual contact. Seriously.

And to make things worse it's even inconsistent and doesn't even manage to get its writing and rules working together. Fuck Glory.

Fuck it sideways.

A Small Saving Grace: Transhuman


The last released book, Transhuman, did a lot to make the game more playable, more than could be expected for a book that really only exists to market an alternate form of chargen. Original EP chargen was basically "assign points, buy skills, buy gear, go nuts." Transhuman, on the other hand, does "lifepath" chargen, two variants. One where you pick the life path yourself, from start to end, following the trail, and one where you randomly roll your route at each stage.

Either version ends up with less optimized, equipped and powerful characters than the original EP chargen, however, which suddenly means characters have a lot more to strive for, neither they nor the things they fight need to be bumping against the skill ceiling right off the bat to stay "competitive," they might have to improvise with regards to morphs, mods and equipment rather than all starting off with machine guns/sniper rifles packing Shredder ammo.

After having had my hands on Transhuman, I would really never recommend playing the game without it, and more than any other of the expansions, it should have been part of the core book.

The Final Verdict


Save yourself the headache and avoid Eclipse Phase until it gets a new edition/FATE sidegrade. Currently it suffers a good bit from forcing you to browse through supplements for specific morphs and pieces of gear/upgrades rather than having one unified list, and even Transhuman doesn't help out the issues with equipment balance, that a lot of it just... feels very similar. None of it really has any distinct properties that make it separate. Using a rocket launcher instead of an assault rifle doesn't change much except for descriptions.

The FATE edition, if it ever hits, sounds like it may have a lot of potential for making the game worthwhile, though.

~PurpleXVI

[#] Why the Dresden Files Are Bad And You Should Feel Bad For Liking Them
04:12pm EST - 12/06/2012
So as it turns out, someone was wondering why I had an issue with the Dresden Files, by way of wondering why I had an issue with the Dresden Files RPG.

Well, let's take a look at what the Dresden Files are, for those who don't know. The Dresden Files are basically the World of Darkness but where wizards are the top dog for the most part, they need staves and rituals to cast magic, not all of them are superpowerful, they've got a bureaucracy and by and large they're the most benevolent faction out there. The wizard we follow around is Harry Dresden, a low-ranking mage who works as a private investigator and is highly disliked by the rest of the wizardy fellas because he cut his magical teeth by being in the employ of an evil cultist whom Harry eventually murdered(mostly in self defense).

The core conceit is that Harry is not Gandalf, he cannot fireball his way through everything. Firstly, he must be subtle, the world at large thinks wizards and vampires are just a fairy tale. Secondly, spontaneous magic is tough and relies mostly on the charge left in his staff, ritual magic is way more reliable, and so he cannot magic himself out of trouble every time, he needs to use rituals and preparation. This is largely upheld in the first book where Harry deals with demon-summoners, vampires(reasonably classic ones, the Red Court) and pixies.

By the second book this is quickly in shambles and it only gets worse from there. First we get "splat-bloat" that would make White Wolf recoil in terror: Four kinds of vampires(Red, Black, White, Jade), three or four factions of wizards, demons, angels, dragons, three kinds of werewolves, two kinds of Fae and the list goes on. Secondly, Harry rapidly drops the idea that "he's gotta prepare" and starts to DBZ his way out of most conflicts with vividly-described energy blasts and masturbation over guns so overt you can literally hear Jim Butcher(the author) panting in the background. He has bondage sex with a half-vampire, fifty percent of the text is dedicated to describing tits(including a friend's teenage daughter's tits, eugh, Harry, keep it in your pants) and yes, it turns out that Harry's half-brother is a vampire.

In short, Harry rapidly becomes a goddamn wish-fulfillment Sue of the worst kind. He even redeems a fucking Biblical demon and becomes an archangel's chosen. It's goddamn stupid. Also by the point where zombies, undead T-rexes and wizard laser battles are spilling into the streets of Chicago for days on end, humanity in general would need to be suffering from severe brain injuries not to realize something was up.

The point where I finally gave up on the series was when Harry's half-vampire baby got introduced. Fuck's sake, Butcher.

~PurpleXVI

Jim Butcher blows goats

[#] BESM, 3rd Edition
12:40pm EDT - 6/14/2009
BESM is short for Big Eyes, Small Mouth, which some might recognize as describing a stereotypical anime character's deformed mutant face. And BESM is, indeed, mostly billed for running anime. All the art is anime-related, a lot of the fluff sounds pretty anime-tastic and it's hard to ignore that most of the system seems geared towards replicating DBZ or some sort of harem anime.

But that would be selling this thing short, because it can do so much more.

The Basics:

BESM relies on a simple mechanic of rolling 2d6+stat(of which there are three, possibly also +skill or some such) or 2d6+(defensive combat value/offensive combat value). In the former case you roll against a TN from 6 to 24, as decided by the GM, in the latter case it's an opposed roll. Armour and damage are static, so combat is fast and easy, with the occasional extra roll to control or resist some side-effect of an attack.


The Ups:

Extreme freedom for character creation. At first it looks like BESM merely has a sizeable list of pre-made abilities with everything from flight through sixth senses and highly customizeable weapons. But then right in the next chapter, it lets you customize those abilities with special limitations and side-effects that can make your character even more unique. If it's not for some GRIM DARK DARK GRIM GRIT game, you can make your character in BESM. BESM works well for sci-fi, fantasy and just about anything with a dash of supernatural or superscience.

BESM also handles high power levels really well since it doesn't, like some games, blossom into absurd numbers of modifiers, rolls or dice.

Simple mechanics and high customizeability are rarely wedded as perfectly as they are in BESM.


The Downs:

Freedom requires a lot of vigilance as BESM unfortunately makes it very simple to make completely broken characters, even without trying. Additionally, two characters made with the same point total can also end up highly divergent in actual power. So it requires a capable GM to make sure no one is going to hog all the glory in one form or another.

The art is pretty much fucking atrocious from one end to the other. It's actually so bad it might count as an Up because it's fucking hilarious half the time.


The Verdict:

Simple and customizeable, and the only things that mar it are essentially superficial.

~PurpleXVI

Look at me I can throw fireballs from my dick because I'm Goku

[#] GM Startup Guide
10:42am EDT - 6/10/2009
This is intended as a guide for startup GM's, for the people running their first game(or second, after the first one imploded dramatically and they want to do THIS one right...).

Read More...

~PurpleXVI

I am an awesome GM

[#] Weave: The Threads of Reality
03:03am EST - 1/30/2009
The Google Docs upload of Weave

So I talk a lot about making games, and I often add a lot of unsolicited advice about other people's game-making, I even tend to feel that I have a lot of ideas for improving professionally designed games. You know, the kind you buy for dollars(or pieces of bark and wood, if you're Canadian, you get what I mean.).

Here's my attempt at making a little thing of my own. Still very much under development, but I like to feel that even though I cranked this out over fifteen minutes of original writing, twenty minutes of talking to people and then five minutes of revising, this thing is pretty close to its final shape.

The basic concept is a game where magic(in this case Weaving) is synergistic with other skills, rather than some sort of separate profession that makes you way more powerful than others. Instead, the people with access to Weaving use it to craft impressive or useful items, to make themselves more powerful in combat, etc.

Of course, some people are capable of using Weaving without combining it with skills, more close to traditional magic, but this is a tricky and dangerous thing to do, as fate, known as the Great Loom, dislikes those who try to escape the predestined way of fate so grossly. In systemic terms, it temporarily robs you of Pattern(the way in which fate defends those vital to the proper happening of things with small miracles), making you more susceptible to being killed by accident or people with unpleasant intentions.

I like to feel that I've taken the chance to rob nice things from several systems(Earthflame's Mosaic inspired parts of the "Weaving" system, Trigger Discipline inspired the minimalistic approach and I've probably been inspired by a few other things without realizing it) without ripping off any of them.

~PurpleXVI

I made a thing!

[#] Trigger Discipline
02:16am EST - 1/09/2009
Latest version of the rules.

So, when I first heard of Trigger Discipline, I looked at the name, I looked at where it came from(/tg/) and assumed it was some crazy-detailed, realism-wanky piece of shit and completely ignored it. Later some people mumbled something about mecha and I still proceeded to ignore it, because, hey, come on, giant robots do NOT need realism, are we agreed? They need to be all BAM BAM BAM, SPEED, BOOM, POWER GIANT LASER KATANAS, KABOOM, POWER, SHAZAM.

On closer inspection Trigger Discipline actually turns out to be pretty close to this.

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~PurpleXVI

SURPRISE, BITCHES, IT'S AN UPDATE.

[#] Ultima Online: The MMORPG Version of PnP Gaming
04:29am EST - 11/19/2008
So, upon reading the subject line you're gonna ask: "LOL PURPAL MMORPGS IS ABOUT GRINDANS AND LOOTANS HOW CAN THEY BE ANYTHING LIKE A PNP GAME HUR DUR I'M GOING TO GO CHOKE ON A DICK RIGHT NOW?" Because, hey, I know you people. This is what you're like. Crazy for dick and retarded.

But, merciful that I am, I am going to tell you how Ultima Online is fucking awesome and worthy of your attention.

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~PurpleXVI

Surprise! This was a trapped .jpg!

[#] Jachin Akhenaton: Epic Death in Two Sessions
05:09am EST - 11/10/2008
So, what's more epic than a character who steps in, kicks a ton of ass, delivers some awesome one-liners and rides away with the girl at the end?

A character who goes out with a bang while saving the party, the world, the girl or all of them. Especially if he gets a fucking set of RESPEC' KNUCKZ from his deity afterwards.

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~PurpleXVI

Why do half my characters end like this?

[#] Board Games in the Hizzle, Yo
03:03am EST - 11/06/2008
So hey, board games. Most /tg/ folk love them, I mean, I'm pretty sure you could recruit most of us for a game of chess, checkers, Ludo or whatever. Still, there are less traditional games out there which nonetheless manage to be fucking fun. Let's have a look at some, shall we?

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~PurpleXVI

Best part of Doom? Making the chainsaw sounds.

[#] First DM's, now Players
12:33pm EDT - 10/29/2008
So, I dropped some HARDCORE ADVICING on DM's a while ago, but while they have a lot of the responsibility for whether a game works out or not, it's ultimately just as much(if not more) in the hands of the players.

Let's say you're a Player(Not a Playah, though that's entirely a viable type of Player in some games...), what can YOU do not to fuck up the fun? And what should you definitely not do? Plenty of shit. Let's get started.

(Disclaimer: Most of these issues are things I've personally encountered, I'm sure I've missed a lot and am exaggerating others simply because of how much they've pissed me off.)

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~PurpleXVI

I've got nothing clever to put here.

[#] DM'ing Blunders to Avoid and Miscellaneous Advice
05:07am EDT - 10/21/2008
Now, the way I see it, DM'ing advice is not a review of anything, nor is it exactly a ramble. But it does somewhat fit under game design, since you're designing a campaign world, a story and an experience. If LL disagrees, he can whomp this over. With that disclaimer aside, time to actually get started...

The focus of this article will basically be me, a pretty regular DM(and rare player), pointing out what gets on my tits and ruins my enjoyment of a game when OTHER DM's do it.

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TL;DR: Use moderation, don't try to play in your own game, talk to your damn players and motivate the little fuckers.

~PurpleXVI

Yes, I really AM this unoriginal.

[#] Random Chance And You
11:04am EDT - 10/20/2008
Except for a few diceless games and freeform RPG's, pretty much every game system we use has an element of random chance. Usually it's dice, occasionally it's cards and I wouldn't be surprised if there was something out there which used "Rock, Paper, Scissors" or something even weirder as its random factor.

Some systems are more random than others, some have their dice system specifically for the sake of more mediocre than extreme results and some are completely chaotic and unpredictable once you embark on a course of action that relies primarily on chance for you to succeed.

But how big a place should random chance have?

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So I guess the TL;DR of this whole mess is: Too little randomness makes the adventure pointless(they know what's going to happen 90% of the time) and susceptible to DM bias, too much randomness makes the adventure pointless because their actions are kind of meaningless with regards to what actually HAPPENS("You swing your sword and it turns into an angry red dragon. Everyone dies.").

~PurpleXVI

I have loud opinions about polyhedrons.

[#] So, you want to make a game?
01:21pm EDT - 10/18/2008
Got a concept? Awesome. Written some fluff? Perfect! Decided that you want a stat called Asskicking and a skill for Anal Circumference? That's wonderful.

Now throw all that shit out. It's just going to get in your way. When you want to make a game, you should forget EVERYTHING else until you have finished the very most basic part: Resolution.

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Anyway, this has turned long and incoherent. Here's the TL;DR version. Figure out how the system works and how you want it to work before you get started on anything else. And shit, don't be afraid to adjust an existing system to do what you want it to. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel.

~PurpleXVI

I figured I might want an avatar that, you know, was vaguely fitting.

[#] Exalted is for fags and Jeans
12:30pm EDT - 10/14/2008
You know what real men play? Lacuna

What's that? You haven't HEARD about Lacuna yet? That's because you're a useless lump of blubber and flesh who couldn't grow a real beard or sideburns to save his life. Good thing I'm here to make a MAN out of you.

The short version? If you've seen the Matrix, imagine yourself as an Agent in the world of Dreams, making the waking world a better place. If not? Here's the long version...

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~PurpleXVI

This is seriously from the best zombie comedy ever

[#] I'm liking this old-man reminiscin'...
03:46am EDT - 10/12/2008

darksun



Which means that you people get more stuff about 2nd edition AD&D. Topic for the day? Dark Sun. I figured that since I mentioned it in my last post, it would sort of make sense to tell people about it in this post.

So what is Dark Sun? The short description I always resort to is: post-apocalyptic D&D freed from a lot of the more annoying clichés of D&D.

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~PurpleXVI

So I'm running out of good horror, okay?

[#] Let's get Old Skool
04:36pm EDT - 10/10/2008

planescape



Back In My Day, when I first started playing 2nd edition AD&D, my very first RPG, I didn't start out playing Planescape. If I had it would definitely have scared me the hell away, because I was 12 or something. Planescape ain't for kids, it's not for hacking and slashing, it's not for min/maxing. It's the setting where a clever 1st-level character can do more damage than an Int 3, Wis 3 combat monster with more vorpal swords than digits. When you're 12, you just want to know that you found a bitching sword and how far that orc's head rolled when you cut him in half.

A lot of "modern" gamers missed out on this awesome setting, which was really one of the things that dragged 2nd edition AD&D above and beyond the hack-and-slash stigma that D&D is saddled with by a lot of people...

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~PurpleXVI

I HAVE SUCH SIGHTS TO SHOW YOU

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