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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Because fighters don't deserve nice feats
I suspect this is not the same guy who drew all the fucking terrible character art
FATAL & Friends Repost: Kromore, Part 5
07:07pm EDT - 8/16/2015
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.
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-
Interestingly enough not immune to fists or rocks
IMMUNITIES**: The spirit is immune to steel weapons and wooden weapons, stuns, KO, and poisons.
-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.
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.
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/