Reviews and Ramblings
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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GM Startup Guide by PurpleXVI - 06/10/09
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DORF FORT ELLPEE by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
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Hc Svnt DraconesFursona Construction Simulator v1.0Character Creation [#]
FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 8
11:54am EDT - 8/03/2015
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.
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)
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.
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...
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...
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