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[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 9
06:59pm 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.
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!




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