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Other RPGs / Review of Cyberpunk Red
« on: December 19, 2020, 10:21:14 PM »

I apologize for the delay since my last review. I'm lazy and reading through a multiple hundred page roleplaying game book to analyze it is work and that's about the best explanation I can give you.  As is standard, I have no idea what I'm getting into here.  I've never looked at any of the previous Cyberpunk editions and haven't played Cyberpunk 2077 because I generally wait for games to be patched and on sale before I buy them.

Normally this is where I'd talk about the history of the game and when this edition was published (which is this year) and blah blah blah but honestly I'm going to assume that you're all like me and only care about it because of the video game so we'll just skip that part.  If you do care you probably know it anyway.  All I know is that this general system has been around for a while so I expect the technology aspects to be a little off.

The pdf is 458 pages, cover to cover.  Looking at the index, none of the chapters/subchapters are numbered but the book is laid out as follows:
 - Never Fade Away (This is italicized so is probably a short story)
 - View from the Edge (Or how to play a role-playing game)
 - Soul and the New Mechine (Making characters)
 - Tales from The Street (Probably more about making characters)
 - Fitted for the Future (Stats, skills, equipment)
 - Putting the Cyber into the Punk (CYBERWARE, and also something called cyberpsychosis)
 - The Fall of the Towers (Another story)
 - Getting it Done (Using skills, etc)
 - Friday Night Firefight (Combat rules)
 - Netrunning (Hacking rules)
 - Trauma Team (Damage/healing rules)
  -Welcome to the Dark Future (In game history)
 - The Time of the Red ("Current events" most likely)
 - Welcome to Night City (About night city, where you will most likely be)
 - Everyday Life (Appears to be a lot of flavor stuff about getting into the game)
 - The New Street Economy (Pretty self-explanatory)
 - Running Cyberpunk (Also self-explanatory)
 - Screamsheets (I have no idea)
 - Black Dog (One last story)

After the index we get what is basically an explanation for why this book exists, and the answer is because CD Projekt Red wanted to make a Cyberpunk video game.  This ruleset was created by the creator of Cyberpunk specifically to be a version that fits both video game and tabletop game requirements.

Never Fade Away is a short story so I'm skipping it as is customary for me, and I'll just skip over the other stories as well.

View from the Edge

As expected, this is an intro to Cyberpunk.  We got some in-universe language about what cyberpunk is and a general overview of the technology and history that make up the world.  Cyberpunk has a feel for it that looks like they're explicitly trying to make it not seem like Shadowrun (the word punk is in there for a reason).

Then we get "A Tabletop RPG primer".  I'm explicitly told that since I know what I'm doing I can skip this part and so that's what I'll do.

Lastly in this chapter we get a glossary of different street slang to get you into the mood.

Then there's an in-universe advertisement webpage.  That was unexpected, but neat.

Soul and the New Machine

There are three basic concepts to live by as a Cyberpunk player.

#1 - Style Over Substance
#2 - Attitude Is Everything
#3 - Live On The Edge

If that doesn't differentiate this from Shadowrun then nothing well.  Now on to something a bit meatier.

There are ten roles in Cyberpunk Red, and each role has it's own special "Role Ability" which starts at a value of 4 (we're still a little over 100 pages away from finding out what that means but a value of 4 means you've been doing this for about 4 years).  Each role gets a one-page description and there is a basic overview of what the role ability.

1) Rockerboy - Rock-and-roll rebels who use performance, art, and rhetoric to fight authority. (Role Ability: Charismatic Impact)
2) Solos - Assassins, bodyguards, killers, and soldiers-for-hire in a lawless new world. (Role Ability: Combat Awareness)
3) Netrunners - Cybernetic master hackers of the post-NET world and brain-burning secret stealers. (Role ability: Interface)
4) Techs - Renegade mechanics and supertech inventors; the people who make the Dark Future fun. (Role ability: Maker)
5) Medtechs - Unsanctioned street doctors and cyberware medics, patching up meat and metal alike. (Role ability: Medicine)
6) Medias - Reporters, media stars, and social influencers risking it all for the truth - or glory. (Role ability: Credibility)
7) Execs - Corporate power brokers and business raiders fighting to restore the rule of the Megacorps. (Role ability: Teamwork)
8) Lawmen - Maximum law enforcers patrolling the mean streets and barbarian warrior highways beyond. (Role ability: Backup)
9) Fixers - Dealmakers, organizers, and information brokers in the post-War Midnight Markets of The Street. (Role ability: Operator)
10) Nomads - Transport experts, ultimate road warriors, pirates, and smugglers who keep the world connected. (Role ability: Moto)

When it comes to making a character, there are three different methods.

1) Use a template
2) The fast and dirty way
3) Calculating everything using pools of points to buy things

All three methods have flowcharts to help with the character creation (the first two methods share a flowchart).  The first two methods involve rolling stats, the third buys them.  The first two methods get all of their gear assigned to them, the third appears to buy every single item individually.  From the flowcharts these look like the big differences.

Regardless of which flowchart you are using, here are the basic steps:
 1) Pick a role (and set role ability to 4)
 2) Run the Lifepath
 3) Generate Stats
 4) Calculate derived stats
 5) Set skills
 6+) Equipment

Tales From The Street

This is the chapter about running the lifepath.  The lifepath is a flowchart full of tables with options to roll from (with the ability to choose an option if you think the roll doesn't fit your character).  Some tables have more than one thing you roll for, and they are rolled separately.  I'll go through them and give a basic description of each.

 1) Cultural Origin - What part of the world are you from?  What is your native language?  (Everyone knows Streetslang.)
 2) Personality - What is one of your core personality traits?
 3) Personal Style - What is your clothing style?  What is your hairstyle?
 4) Affectation - What is one fashion item you always have on you?
 5) Motivations and Relationships - What do you value most?  How do you feel about most people?
 6) Most Valued - Who do you value the most?  What possession do you value the most?
 7) Family Background - What was your family like?
 8) Environment - Where did you grow up as a child?
 9) Family Crisis - What bad thing happened to your family?
 10) Friends - How many friends do you have?  What is your relationship with them?
 11) Enemies - How many enemies do you have?  Why are they your enemies?  What are their resources?  How will they act if they see you again?
 12) Love Affairs - How many tragic love affairs have you had?  Why did they end?
 13) Goals - What is your life goal?

In addition, there are also role based lifepaths.  They go over career specific parts of your life.

Fitted for the Future

Now we're getting into the basic rules of the game.  We start with character statistics.

There are 10 stats split up into 4 groups.  The Metal group contains Intelligence, Willpower, Cool (just how it sounds), and Willpower.  The Combat group contains Technique and Reflexes.  The Fortune group contains Luck.  The Physical group contains Body, Dexterity, and Movement.  Stats go from 1-8 generally (but can go higher). 

Each method of character creation has its own method for stat generation.  For the template method, find the table for your role, roll a d10 and directly copy the stats that the table says you have.  You can't have crappy stats this way but you can't deviate from what the table says in any way.

For the "fast and dirty" method, use the same tables as the template method but you roll a d10 for each stat individually which means less balance between stats but more potential variety between them.  Once again, you can't deviate from what you rolled.

For the calculating method, you get a specified number of stat points.  It's your basic point buy method on a 1-for-1 basis.

Derived stats are all about why you don't want to dump some stats.  HP are derived from Body and Will.  Humanity (which helps stop you from being a homicidal sociopath and is lost by installing cybernetics) is derived from Empathy. 

We then move on to skills.  Like most games, skills are complicated and I'm not going to do a deep dive here.  There are nine different skill categories based around what kind of skill it is.  All skills have an associated stat.  Skills are purchased, and some skills cost more to purchase than others.  Skills have ranks from 1-10, languages are a skill, and everyone starts with some basic skills.

Just like stats, the different character creation methods have different ways of selecting starting skills.  If you're using the template method, write down the skills that are listed on the table for this purpose.  Period.  If you're going fast and dirty, you get a pool of skill points and buy your skills based off of the list of 20 skills available for each roll (and you have to buy your basic skills, they aren't free).  The calculating method is like fast and dirty but you aren't limited in what skills you can buy.

Once skills are selected we move on to the equipment phase of character creation.  Here we get a general overview of what is what (with specific items being in the Night Market chapter).

Weapons are split between Melee, Ranger, and Exotic (with different weapons using different skills).  Non-exotic ranged weapons get attachment slots.  Armor has an armor rating (called Stopping Power) and Armor Penalty (which penalizes stats) and is purchased separately for the body and the head.

One of the things I like about weapons in Cyberpunk 2077 is that there aren't specific stats for every single type of thing.  Pistols are either medium, heavy, or very heavy.  There are examples of each, but you don't specifically stat out every kind of pistol you might want and try to figure out ways to make them different from each other.  Other types of ranged weapons are split up the same (for example a sniper rifle is a sniper rifle) and melee weapons come in four categories. 

To determine what you get, each method comes into play again.  Templates and fast and dirty get predetermined equipment based on their role and in addition get money to buy additional equipment or keep at their discretion.  Calculated characters just get a bunch of money and have to buy everything individually, including equipment we haven't gotten to yet.

After weapons and armor, you get an outfit.  An outfit is more than the clothes on your back, it is everything that you carry with you from day to day and since you'rea Cyberpunk character this includes a bag containing food and clothes and toothbrushes and whatnot because who knows what might happen.  An outfit is separate from Fashion which is how you dress and has its own sub-section.   Once again, templates/fast and dirty get what the table says and calculated characters buy whatever (but they get additional money specifically for fashion that you can't keep the change from).

Non-execs live in a rented cargo container with first month's rent and kibble free (yes, you're eating kibble).  Execs get fancier digs but they also have to pay rent each month.  Nomads can live in their vehicle due to their role ability.

Putting the Cyber into the Punk

Now we're onto my favorite part of any futuristic RPG.  Cyberware!  Cyberware is split into 8 types and each type has separate limitations on how many pieces and be installed.

As you expected, templates/fast and dirty get what the table says (with humanity loss already calculated for you) and calculated characters buy whatever.

But wait, there's more!  Assuming you can convince the other players to take advantage of attractive employment opportunities, you too can get free cyberware by joining the (covert) military, taking up a life of organized crime, or selling out to a corporation!  Of course there are downsides to these options, but they're all on the role-playing side and all you care about are those sweet sweet numbers right? Who cares if a bomb might be hidden inside of your body.

Then we get to The Fall of the Towers which is another story and to be skipped.

Getting It Done

Here is the chapter on non-combat rules (and some combat related ones too).  Initiative is Reflexes + 1d10.  On your turn you get a move action and an action.  Skill checks are d10 based too (of course) and stat + skill + roll.  It's all pretty easy to understand for anyone coming from the d20 system.  Crit successes are exploding dice (roll a 10, roll a d10 again and add it, can't get a third roll) and crit failures are exploding dice but bad (roll a 1, roll a d10 again and subtract it, can't get a third roll).  I like this better than auto-suceed/auto-fail.

Here is also where you learn what the Luck stat does.  You get a luck pool with points = stat which refill on a per-session basis and can be spent to increase rolls by +1 per point spent.

We also get a skill overview, which is basically what can you be expected to do at different skill levels with a base of 10 being a professional level of competency.  Role abilities are also described here, as are rules on multiclassing between roles (which can't be done at character creation).  For multiclassing, you just buy rank 1 in the new role with your improvement points (which we haven't gotten to yet but are probably just XP you use to buy character improvements with, pretty standard) and that's your new job.  You can spend points to improve your previous role but it's not the role you're seen as anymore.

A little bit on role abilities, they're all interesting and all dramatically improve as more points are put into them (with a maximum of 10 as normal).  I like them.  (As a Nomad you can put ejection seats in a helicopter and there are rules for what happens if you eject into helicopter blades.)

Friday Night Firefight

Here's where we move onto the combat specific rules, with a refresher on initiative and actions.

Since armor mitigates damage but doesn't make you harder to hit, combat works differently than what you might be used to.  Ranged combat to-hit targets are based off of the type of weapon being used and how far away the target it (unless the target has an Evasion of at least 8 because then they can roll to dodge bullets).  Since even normal people can attempt to dodge melee attacks those are straight up contested rolls.  Defender wins all ties.  Damage is all rolled in d6's.

There are of course special rules that can be used for ranged attacks (such as suppressive fire) and different rules for different kinds of melee combat (martial arts as an example).  Other special rules include things like rules for a human shield and how taking damage fucks up your armor and penalties for being wounded.  I like this game.

Being under 1 hp means rolling death saves (failing a death save is the only way you can die).  Critical injuries happen when you roll at least two 6's on your damage dice and confer actual penalties on top of automatic bonus damage (none of this multiplied damage on a crit in this game).  If you're hit while under 1 hp you automatically suffer a critical injury and get penalties on your next death save.

I want to say that vehicle combat is a little more complicated but it is covered in 4 pages so it really isn't that bad.

Interestingly, there are also rules for social combat, in the form of facing someone down.  The person who loses either backs off or takes a penalty to all actions made against the winner.  Nothing like a little intimidation.


Here it is, the hacking/decking chapter.  I expect this to be horribly complicated, I've never wanted to play a decker outside of a video game just due to the complexity.

The good news here is that netrunning doesn't take place in its own separate initiative count.  When it's your turn you either take a "meat action" (action with your body) or "NET actions" (netrunning actions).  You get your regular move action regardless.

The bad news is that this chapter is still over 20 pages long so while netrunning isn't anywhere near as bad as some Shadowrun rulesets I've seen it is way more complicated than "meatspace" actions.

All in all I was prepared to hate this chapter but it's not bad.  My main worry is that if I play a Netrunner there doesn't seem to be much you can do to boost your checks and black ice makes me paranoid.

There are also rules for how to create a net for someone to run (which is pretty simple) and how to set up your own net to control automated home defenses and whatnot.

Trauma Team

The chapter on healing, injury, and death.  We get the same information here that was in the combat section on wound states and critical injuries and death saves.  We also get rules on how to stabilize and heal naturally.

We also get information on what skills can heal what, trauma team insurance (like modern ambulances but they're armed and armored and you have to pre-pay for them to come), hospital visits, and everything else health related (such as drugs and therapy).

Welcome to the Dark Future

This chapter is all fluff and no crunch (but in a game like this that isn't a bad thing).  A timeline of how the world got to be the way it is can be found (divergence from our timeline started in the late 80's it looks like). 

The current year is 2045 (which I guess is why the system is Cyberpunk Red and not Cyberpunk 2077 like the video game). 

The Time of the Red

Where the previous chapter was about how the world got to where it is, this chapter is about what the world is now.  It's interesting but again all fluff and since I don't know any of the previous material (and am not running a game in this system) I'm not actively invested in it.

Welcome to Night City

Here's the story of Night City (the city the game is expected to take place in) with its history and current situation and whatnot.  It is made up of different zones, some safer than others, and all the information about who has power where and what role they have and what gangs there are and everything you need to make a believable city for your players.

Everyday Life

Where the previous chapter was about what the city itself was like, this chapter is about what life is like in general.  Crime and punishment, everyday technology, guns, vehicles, and other information about other general day to day items that aren't crunchy rules that need to be referenced.  It's nice.

I mentioned kibble earlier, here we learn that kibble is not actually dog food (so that's something at least).

The New Street Economy

Here we have not only the expected information about what do things cost, but we also get information on how the economy got the way it is, how to generate a night market (kind of like a big swap meet), and midnight markets (too exclusive for you to get into). 

When buying a weapon you can cheap out and buy poor quality, or open your wallet wide and buy excellent quality.  Poor quality weapons jam up, excellent quality ones give you a bonus to attack.

There are other economic rules here too, they're all pretty standard.

Running Cyberpunk

This is more than your standard "how to run a game" chapter but less than the amazingness that is the equivalent in the Alien RPG book that I have previously reviewed.  The first half of this chapter is all about how to really get into the feel of Cyberpunk and not just general hints for GMs.

The second half of this chapter is what I've been waiting for a while to find out about experience improvement points!  If the mission was a success, IP are granted to everyone with the possibility of bonus IP for individual players that stood out to the GM as deserving of more points.  If everyone failed then IP are still granted but it's a little more complicated.

IP are then spent on improving skills and your role ability (or gaining new role abilities) with the cost being based on what the next level would be of the specific thing you're improving.

We also get sample statted up NPCs to use and random encounter tables.


So screamsheets are the new newspapers, and this chapter is "news" about different things and what the players know and GM knows about what is going on.  They're basically a bunch of plot hooks/mini adventures.

To finish out the book we have the last story, Black Dog, and a three page character sheet.

Final Thoughts

I like it, I like it better than any Shadowrun version I've ever read which is the closest thing I can compare it to.  It's streamlined and interesting and I couldn't run it because I need pre-written adventures but I could totally play it.  Definitely a keeper!

D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder / Pathfinder 1E is getting a spin-off
« on: October 05, 2020, 09:38:28 PM »
It's called Corefinder and it's to Pathfinder what Pathfinder is to 3.5.  Legendary Games is publishing it.

GitP thread about it.

Paizo forums thread about it. (Contains a link to the Legendary Games Discord server in the first post)

I expect this community to never move onto it because I'm the only one who wants to learn all the systems but conceptually I'm interested to see how this goes.

Edit: I'm reading through the threads and will post an overview of actual crunch information.

Other RPGs / Nanshork's System Reviews
« on: July 06, 2020, 01:36:15 PM »
I own (and read) a whole lot of different RPG systems.  It was brought to my attention that because of this, people wanted to know what my opinions of different systems are.  So I wrote up some system reviews and they weren't poorly received so this is a thing now (at least for now).

I review things from a mechanics perspective and with an eye towards helping people figure out if they want to own the system or not.  Because of this my reviews are a little different from everyone else's. 

Alien: The Roleplaying Game
Cyberpunk Red
Mork Borg
Mistborn Adventure Game
Starfinder (An introduction and not actually a review, just a comparison of Starfinder vs 3.5/PF)

Feel free to comment/ask questions in the review threads themselves.  I also take requests and you can ask for those here (or ask questions or whatnot).

Other RPGs / Review of Mistborn Adventure Game
« on: July 06, 2020, 01:26:52 PM »

The Mistborn Adventure Game is published by Crafty Games in 2011, and this review was a request.  Not only am I going into this review blind (the same as the last couple of reviews), but I don't know anything about the source material and only vaguely know who Brandon Sanderson is.

The PDF is 563 pages (including covers, etc) and I've been informed that this includes a lot of short stories which pad the page count and I won't care about because I've never read a Mistborn book.

Right out of the gate this book is laid out a little strangely.  It is three books in one (and I am using the word book literally, right out of the table of contents). 
 - Book One: The Mistborn Adventure Game (What would be a PHB in another system)
 - Book Two: The Treatise Metallurgic (I have no idea what is going on here)
 - Book Three: Always Another Secret (The DMG equivalent book)

Word of warning: I'm going to completely skip over all of the short stories in this book.  I don't care about them and am not even going to read them but I can pretty safely assume that anyone buying a game "Based on the best-selling novel series" (as written on the front cover) does care so the stories aren't a complete waste of space.  However, if I wanted to review short stories I'd be doing that instead of this. 

Skipping stories, we're now in the Introduction, and I have to say that the world of Mistborn as described is weird.  It's the effective technology of the 18th century but then volcanoes erupted and the sky is blotted out by ash and there are undead and we've got some sort of V for Vendetta oppressive government/church running everything and wealth is measured in the secrets you know.  Also some people can use metal to do magic.  And PCs are running around trying to make things better.

It's not the worst setting for an RPG that I've ever read, but I can definitely say that I still have absolutely no interest in reading a book from that setting.  Please note that if this is completely wrong and not what the Mistborn books are about that I'm just summarizing what's in the RPG book so blame the authors of that.

Thankfully there is a bunch of setting information after the introduction for people who are interested in the setting.  I'm clearly not so I'll just skim through it.  We've got the desolate world of Scadrial where all all civilization is a part of the Final Empire which is ruled for an immortal god-king who ascended to the throne a thousand years ago.  It's all very grimdark sounding.

Magic is broken down into three basic fields: Allomancy (eating metal do do things), Feruchemy (storing powers in metal to be used later), and Hemalurgy (using metal spikes to steal abilities from others).  There are 19 different metallic elements and alloys used int eh Metallurgic Arts, and you're pretty much not going to be able to use any of them.  Most practicioneers can only use a single magical style and metal and two of them are inborn with the third being a closely guarded secret.

After that we get the general "what this is" section of most RPG core books.  Mistborn is a storytelling game so from experience I am prepared to not like it.

On to Book One!

If 3.5 is your game of choice, be prepared to not like Mistborn.  "For those of you who've played RPGs before, the Mistborn Adventure Game is a relatively rules-light, strongly narrative storytelling game. There are no levels, no "grinding" for XP, and no killing things and taking their stuff."  Why does a rules light game have a core rulebook that is over 500 pages?  At this point I honestly don't know.  Oh look, a note from Brandon Sanderson.  Mistborn is a storytelling game because those are his favorite types of systems.  Remind me to never play a game that he's running.  Also he wanted a game that could be run in PbP (I'm not sure how that's a design goal but okay).

Mistborn is a d6 system that explicitly requires you to have at least one friend. (Paying with strangers is not allowed!  I'm joking but it does say that friends are required to play, along with dice and paper and imagination.)  The GM is the Narrator (as expected in a storytelling game).  Brandon Sanderson pops in again to talk about how you don't have to read the books to play the game.  I expect to get annoyed at his sidebars by the time this is over.

Okay, first major critique (bias against storytelling games aside).  Want to know what is right after the "Getting Started" section?  A bunch of sample characters.  I have no idea what is going on or how even to make a character but look, here are a bunch of pre-mades with backstories and everything ready to go.  This annoys the crap out of me.  Fuck you pre-mades, I'm not even going to read you later when I know what your sheets actually mean.

After the pre-mades is a glossary.  I'm going to skip past this too, it's another very poorly placed section.  Glossaries go at the end of a book!  They shouldn't be a chapter in the beginning!

Now, on to what might be the little bit of crunch this game actually has.  Character creation mechanics!

There are three Attributes: Physique, Charm, and Wit.  Generally they range from 2-6 (with the number being the dice poo.

There are three Standings: Resources, Influence, and Spirit.  These range from 2-10.

There are four Powers: Allomancy, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy, and Mimicry (there is a shapeshifting race that can mimic the forms of dead people they eat).  Powers are rated individually (of course).

There are Traits which is pretty standard for a storytelling game.  These range from skills to physical characteristics to relationships to whatever.  Just make them up!  Traits can be used to grant bonus dice to rolls (or lose dice).  Negative traits exit but they aren't things you pick and they are "actually one of the best ways to develop and enhance your character's personal story".  I'm rolling my eyes if you didn't notice.

There are three Resiliences: Health, Reputation, and Willpower.  All three are derived stats (they are calculated by doing math with other existing stats).  A resilience of 0 means you have been defeated (which doesn't always mean death because this isn't that kind of game).

We also have props which are "not just 'stuff' to collect for that rare moment they're needed - they're an essential part of the character".  All props are equipment and they're "permanent".  If your prop is a sword cane and you lose your sword cane then you get a new one "off screen" unless the GM says otherwise.

Characters have Destinies and Tragedies because a storyteller game isn't a storyteller game unless you have a backstory that takes up at least a page.

Character creation is done as a group because part of your character is defining the crew that you are all a part of.  Brandon Sanderson doesn't like random people thrown together in an adventure, he says so himself.  It's "harmful".

Then you come up with a phrase that is a character concept.  This goes on your sheet.  I don't know why.  Then you answer a survey and put those answers on your sheet as well.  I feel like I'm reading census instructions.  Stats are also generated as part of this census process, they aren't randomly generated.

Once you've finished your stat generation and most of the rest of the census, then you get to pick your race.  This is because specific powers are restricted to specific races so that has to be last.  Races do not have a mechanical impact aside from that.

Even though this is a level-less system, characters can advance through things called Advancements.  Advancements are granted per session and up the the narrator.  You can get advancements for things like "making a critic choice at a Turning Point in the game" or "staying in character" or "selflessly improving the quality of the game for everyone" (an example there is adjusting your actions to get the Crew back on the game rails).  Things like this are why I really don't like storytelling games.

Advancements are tracked on your character sheet (until you spend them) and you can't have more than 20 at a time.  Some Advancements have a cost of 20 so know what you're saving up for before you spend your points.

After character mechanics we delve into how to play a storytelling game, blah blah blah.  Rolling dice is both different and really weird.  Okay, you figure out your dice pool (max 10, min 2).  You have a target difficulty number anywhere from 1-5.  You roll your dice.  6's get put aside because they improve your rolls.  You then take the highest set of matching dice and those are your result to be compared against the target difficulty.

What happens if you roll a bunch of numbers that don't match each other?  I have no idea.  You can't even fail without matching numbers according to what I'm reading.  This is insane.

You then take your result and subtract the difficulty from it to get your outcome number.  Positive outcome is good (higher is more positive), negative is bad (all negatives are a failure) and a 0 is just barely succeeded.  Those 6's you rolled and boost the outcome number as can some other stuff.  This is only for situations where degrees of success or failure would matter.  Negative outcome rolls also introduce complicates so they should still be tracked.

As a storyteller game with all kinds of different stats, Mistborn runs combat differently than you might be used to.  Conflicts encompass all kinds of, well, conflicts, including combat.  This means that all kinds of actions are possible using all kinds of dice combinations and targets get to roll defense dice based on what stat is defending against the "attack".  For a rules-light system this is actually pretty complicated (although most of the work is on the GM's side). 

It's so complicated that after the chapter on Conflicts there is a chapter on extra rules for Physical Conflicts (aka Combat).  After that is a chapter on Social Conflicts.  After that is a chapter on Mental Conflicts.  I guess since Conflicts are pretty much the main thing anyone is going to be rolling dice for I can understand it, but we're talking about 60 or so pages just about how to roll dice.  This is terrible, I can't even be bothered to read these rules because they layout is so bad and there are multipage examples all over the place breaking up the flow.

Next we have a chapter called Changing the World which has rules on Standing rolls and Resources rolls (such as buying equipment) and a bunch of other things.  I'm already annoyed at the conflicts rules and things here aren't any less complicated.  Rules-light my ass.  It doesn't help that every little thing that might be rolled has multiple paragraphs of examples.  Just give me some quick dirty tables and be done with it Brandon Sanderson!

Pushing past all of that, we get a chapter on the shapeshifting corpse eaters.  They're special and get special rules.

Book 2: The Treatise Metallurgic

I'm going to make a prediction right now.  This whole book is going to annoy me with hyper-specificity and too much non-rules text.  Let's dive in.

We have the basic rules of Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy.  Each is more complicated than expected but nowhere near as bad as the conflict rules (and normally you'll only have to worry about one of them anyway, unlike conflicts). 

Next we have overviews of each type of metal, how they are used in the different types of metalmancy, and little Brandon Sanderson thoughts about each one that I just can't be bothered to care about anymore because he and I just don't see eye-to-eye about some really basic stuff.

All in all this book is so much better than the previous one. Everything is well written and concise, things make sense, examples aren't long and rambling.  I feel like it had a different editor.  My prediction didn't come true though, that's a plus.

Book Three: Always Another Secret

Okay, we still have over a hundred and fifty pages to go and we're at the DMG section.  This game is explicitly a collaborative storytelling game.  This is hammered home right here if you didn't believe me before.  The Narrator has "rights" including being able to Veto things and "play too".  There are pages and pages about how to narrate things and tell stories and make characters and this is just so boring.

Then we get a whole chapter about exploring the books.  I know this is based off of the books by didn't they already say I didn't need to read the books?  I guess I don't need to read them because the world information is laid out here in this chapter.

Then we get a chapter on how to make a story.  Don't forget to add a twist!  That's step three.

Pretty much this whole book is how to be a narrator.  Chapters 8 and 9 have characters from the books and general NPCs, and chapter 10 is making your own NPCs.  There is no rules text in Book Three.

Final Thoughts

I hate it.  I hate it because it is a storytelling game, I hate it because Brandon Sanderson is obviously a very rambly writer who writes a paragraph when a sentence would do.  I hate it because I don't know what happens if your roll your dice pool and you don't get doubles so there are giant rules questions about the very basics of how the game works.  The layout is terrible.  Everything is terrible except for Book Two.  I liked Book Two.  If you want ideas about metal based magic then look at Book Two and use it in a different game.


I have been informed that the only part of the book that I actually didn't have a problem with (Book 2) was written by Brandon Sanderson and that he didn't write any of the rest of it.  Apologies to Brandon Sanderson, you are a good writer.  You just teamed up with crappy writers to write this rulebook.

Other RPGs / Review of Mork Borg
« on: June 26, 2020, 11:15:34 AM »

Mork Borg's official website is here.  Coincidentally, you can purchase them from Free League, the same company that makes the Alien RPG that I last reviewed.

Mork Borg is a game that I honestly have avoided looking at for as long as I've known that it existed.  It's an OSR game with a tagline, and the tagline is: "A doom metal album of a game. A spiked flail to the face. Rules light, heavy everything else."  The word Artpunk is also thrown around on the store page.  Just do a quick Google image search for "Mork Borg" and you'll see the insanity that makes up the inside of this book.  Therefore, this review is being written as I read the book for the first time.  We'll see how this goes.

Mork Borg came out in 2019.  There are four companies listed on the copyright page as well as a handful of names.  Ockult Ortmastare Games and Stockholm Kartell hold the copyright, my assumption is that Free League is just a distributor (two separate Free League companies are listed).  Also of note, Mork Borg is Swedish for Dark Fort and is pronounced Murk Borg.  I'll probably keep pronouncing it Mork Borg and nobody will notice because I don't actually talk to anyone about this game.

The book is 96 pages, including the covers, and has no index whatsoever.  My pdf has bookmarks in it but I don't know how trustworthy they are so we're just going to ignore them for the most part and do something a little more stream of consciousness.

From the very beginning I can tell that no matter what else this game has, it has flavor.  Between the front cover and the copyright/print information page are two pages worth of tables.  We have a name generator (roll a d6 to pick a table, roll a d8 to get a name from that table).  We have a d10 Occult Treasures table which has items like "This torch
burns for an immortal hour. Hold it and live. You can lose limbs and enter negative HP and won't die unless you drop the torch or it burns you."  That's a 7.  Why would you roll on this table? I have no idea, but it's pretty clear from the start that this game is fucking weird. 

Then we get a table for Traps and Devilry (which is a d12 table listing traps).  Next a d12 table for weather (and each weather type has an adjective).  "Sou-thick mist" and "Black as night" are two examples.

Continuing this table theme, the next page is covered with a d66 table for Corpse Plundering.  "The remains of something worthless crumbles in your hands."  Some would constitute as treasure, some are just weird ("Note with PC's names. One is crossed out."), and some are bad.  None of them are boring (except maybe the high ones that just give you silver).

After that we get the standard pages about who made the game and when was it published and a full page of art.

And we're now shoved directly into the rules.  No "what is an RPG" here.  No "get some dice and some friends and have a good time" language as is standard.  Instead, we get a page that looks like this.

We get pages and pages of how dark and terrible the game world is, with none of this "Grimdark" over the top worldbuilding that some games are known for.  Some of it is...difficult to read (and not difficult because of content, it is literally difficult for my brain to decipher what I am looking at), but honestly if you're ever wondering how to describe things in a horror campaign then here's your source material.

There's also a map of the world (kind of) and descriptions of major places/countries within it.  And more unique art.

Oh look!  Identifiable rules text!  The Calendar of Nechrubel (it appears that Nechrubel is the name of the world) says the following:
The world trembles. One can feel it in ways sharp and subtle, mysterious and clear. One by one, inevitable events demand their placce.

Illustrating this, the Game Master (GM) rolls a die each dawn. A result of 1 activates one Misery. The die used is determined by the GM and the group.

The GM then rolls d66 to determine which misery occurs. The same Misery will not befall the world twice.

There is a table going from d100 to d2 for what die is rolled based off of "When will all this agony end?" or how long you want the game to be able to go on.  The miseries are laid out as psalms with the results as flavor text and not rules text.  Psalm 7:7 (which can only happen when all other rolls of a d66 have happened) has the following rules text:

The seventh Misery will always be 7:7 and the world finally dies. The seventh seal is broken for the seventh and final time.

The game and your lives end here.
Burn the book.

I'm not sure what's going on exactly, but this might be one of the most enjoyable RPG book reading experiences that I've ever had.

Next: Character Creation.  Please note that I am taking verbose flavorful text and condensing them into actual rules.  I don't want to ruin the book by giving away all of its neat details.

Everyone starts with 2d6 x 10 silver, a waterskin, and 1d4 days worth of food.  You then roll 1d6, 1d12, and 1d12 to see what other starting gear you have from three tables (one die roll per table).  You can start out with magic scrolls, but those will be described later.

According to a handy chart, after you've randomly determined your equipment you will randomly determine you weapon and armor, roll your stats, roll your HP, and pick a name if you want to but "It will not save you".  There are then optional rules for starting with a class and then using the class instructions for all gear (so you can play this game either classless or with class), rolling on tables way later in the book, and rolling omens.  I'll get to all of those as they come up instead of flipping back and forth.

For weapons, you roll a d10 (or a d6 if you started with a scroll) and get the weapon shown.  You could start with a femur or a zweihander, and if you don't like what you started with you'll probably get a chance to roll up a new character and try again soon enough.

Armor is a d4 (or a d2 with a scroll) and higher is better. A 1 is no armor (and it just goes light/medium/heavy after that).  No scroll use is medium/heavy armor (or with zweihand weapons).

After that there's a 1 page equipment description chart with costs of gear (femurs are worthless) as well as services or pets.  There are also rules entries for gear that have special rules (such as what the medicine box does).

As for stats, there are four.  Agility, Presence, Strength, and Toughness.  Roll 3d6 per stat (or 4d6 if not using classes and drop the lowest), then compare your roll to a chart.  This will give you a modifier of -3 to +3, only the modifier is recorded on your character sheet.  Difficult Ratings go from 6 to 18, and rolls are a d20 +/- your modifier.

Carrying capacity is based off of item size (just like the Alien RPG, and being encumbered increases the difficulty rating of Strength and Agility tests.

Hitpoints is Toughness + 1d8 (minimum 1).  Zero HP makes you Broken, Negative HP makes you Dead.  We'll probably figure out what broken means later.  And we do, on the very next page!  When broken, roll a d4.  The higher the roll, the worse off you are.  A 4 means you're dead.

Combat in general takes an interesting tactic.  All rolling is done by the players, Creatures and NPCs do not roll.  For initiative, roll a d6.  1-3, enemies go first.  4-6, PCs go first.  Agility checks are made for individual initiative within a group.

Attack and Defence rolls are also all made by the PCs against specific target numbers.  If a player succeeds the attack test, they hit.  If a player succeeds the defense test, they are not hit by the enemy.  Both attacks and defenses can Crit and Fumble.

Lastly we have some more basic rules.  There are two kinds of rest, basically a short rest and a long rest although tye aren't called that.  Resting requires food and drink to restore health.  If you meet someone and don't know what their reaction to you will be, roll 2d6 and consult a table.  Lastly, enemy morale exists in Mork Borg but only for enemies.

"Leveling up" is explicitly at the DMs discretion.  Since Mork Borg doesn't actually have levels, and Mork Borg is a game of mixed blessings, at any time the DM thinks that a character should be improved a bunch of random stuff happens.  Roll some dice to see if you gain HP, roll a d6 to see if you get treasure, roll dice against your stats to see if they go up (or down, that can happen).

Okay, now we get to powers.  Powers are written on scrolls, and you can only use a certain number every day and successful use of a power requires a roll.  They can crit and fumble just like attacks.  Scrolls can be unclean or sacred and there are ten powers for each.

Characters also get a random number of Omens which help mitigate some of the randomness of Mork Borg.  Once you've used all of your Omens, you randomly get more after resting.

Lastly, we get EVEN MORE RANDOM TABLES!  Are you unsure of what kind of character to make in Mork Borg? Roll!  We've got traits, physical appearance, bad habits, backstory, and more, all with more of the amusing Mork Borg flavor that is growing on me.  You can have the bad habit of "Best friend is a skull.  Carry it with you, tell it everything, you trust no one more."  I love it.

Oh look, hey, the optional classes are here.  Each class has its own traits and stat generation, including HP and Omens.  Here the the classes that you can be (all descriptions are taken from the book).  Oh, and you can roll for your class because this is that kind of game.
 - Fanged Deserter: You have thirty or so friends who never let you down: YOUR TEETH. Disloyal, deranged or simply uncontrollable, any group that didn't boot you out you left anyway. But your parliment of teeth - enormous, protruding, thick and sharp - have always been your allies.
 - Gutterborn Scum: An ill star smiled upon your birth. Poverty, crime and bad parenting didn't help either. In your community an honest day's work was never an option. Not that you ever tried, what are you, some kind of mug? A razor blade and a moonless night are worth a week of chump-work.
 - Esoteric Hermit: The stone of your cave is one with the stars. Silence and perfection. Now the chaos of a fallen world disturbs your rituals and the caul of night grows blacker than your cavern's gloom. Irritating!
 - Wreteched Royalty: Bowed down only by the memories of your own lost glory, you could never submit to anyone else. Not you, of noble blood! (Not that you expect any of these peons to understand the depths of your sorrow.)
 - Heretical Priest - Hunted by the Two-headed Basilisks of the One True Faith, this heretic can be found raving in ruins, traipsing endlessly down dusty roads and desecrating cathedrals by night.
 - Occult Herbmaster: Born of the mushroom, raised in the glade. Watched by the eye of the moon in a silverblack pool.

After classes we get monsters.  Each has more of that weird, weird art and fun flavor text and the whole work is just more messed up the more I read this book (although we're almost done).  Did you know that goblins are cursed creatures and that if one damages you and you don't kill it that you will turn into one yourself, "a ruined mind watching its body-prison perform terrible deeds"?  Man that's dark.  I love it so much.

Lastly we have the obligatory introductory adventure.  THis one is called Rotblack Sludge -or- The Shadow King's Lost Heir.  It's a 15 room dungeon with random encounter tables and  is as dark and gloomy as I have come to expect.

Oh wait, that wasn't the last thing.  EVEN MORE RANDOM TABLES.  Also a handy one page rues overview sheet because this book actually needs it with its unique style and pages of art.

Final thoughts: As I mentioned, I've been avoiding this game.  I didn't think I would like the book, everything I read about it made it seem overhyped and like a weird art project more than anything else.  Banksy meets RPG.  However, I liked it.  The style works, the page layouts work, the system is actually pretty balanced for a game that flat out tells you that every PC will die if the campaign goes on long enough.  I don't know how it would be to run as a regular game, but I think this one is a keeper.

Other RPGs / Review of Alien The Roleplaying Game
« on: June 13, 2020, 09:08:30 PM »
I read a lot of RPGs and there was enough interest expressed on the Discord that I'm going to write this review.  If enough people seem interested I'll probably do more (focusing on core rulebooks of different systems and not adventures or supplements within any one system).  We'll just start with this and see how it goes.

Alien is an officially licensed RPG that came out in 2019.  It is published by Free League, a Swedish game publishing company that also did the Tales of the Loop game (which I haven't read but won a lot of ENNIE awards).

The pdf is 400 pages and split up into 13 chapters.  The chapters are:
1) Space is Hell
2) Your Character
3) Skills
4) Talents
5) Combat & Panic
6) Gear
7) A Hard Life Amongst the Stars
8) Your Job as Game Mother
9) Governments & Corporations
10) Systems & Planets
11) Alien Species
12) Campaign Play
13) Hope's Last Day

Yes, the GM is called Game Mother.  This means that the players can ask mother what the situation is.  The book is full of little things like that which please me and give me the feeling that the game was designed by people who care about the source material.

At 400 pages you'd expect the book to be packed with a heavy rules system and things to read and remember.  The 3.5 PHB pdf is 325 pages after all.  However, this isn't the case and that is mostly due to layout. 

The book is full of art, maps, in-universe language to help you get a feel for the Alien universe (it reminds me of the Shadowrun books where you get quotes from deckers), pages where quotes from the movies are centerpiece of the page (every page of a new chapter just has the chapter name and a movie quote as an example), and a lot of "wasted space" around the rules text.

Here is an example:

If nothing else, the character sheet is a single side of one page.  Don't be intimidated by the book length if the character sheet can be summarized by a single page.

I'm mainly harping on the length like this because I mentioned the book length to a friend of mine and they immediately decided that meant the game was too complicated to deal with.  It really isn't.

With that overview out of the way, moving on to content.

Chapter 1 - Space is Hell

This is mostly what you'd expect from the intro chapter of a roleplaying game, but it sure as hell isn't laid out like almost every other RPG book I've read.  I had to get down to page 23 for the "What is a role-playing game?" section as an example and that section is a whole two paragraphs.  The people assume that you have a basic idea of what you're getting into which is a good thing in my opinion.

First things first, the chapter is called Space is Hell.  The first page of the chapter tells you that "space is vast, dark, and not your friend".  This is a horror RPG, and it is very clear that at some point in time one or more players are probably going to die.  You shouldn't be surprised by this, most people die in Alien movies, but it is very good that they said this up front.  This game definitely is not for everyone. 

Second things second, xenomorphs are not the only thing that you might face in Alien, don't expect space marines vs alien queens every game, or even every campaign.  Horror can be horror without needing to throw creepy crawlies around everywhere. 

After that, there's a basic overview of what the world of Alien looks like.  Players will be in the frontiers of space.  We get pages about what that is like, about the nation-states that rule territories of the frontier, and that non-government entities are also worth mentioning. 

Then we get into some more specific information.  The game takes place about three years after Aliens 3 (Alien Resurrection was hundreds of years after that movie so it is being ignored.  I don't like that movie so I'm happy ignoring it).  There is a convenient timeline which includes the public knowledge from every Alien franchise movie that takes place up to the game's "current" year.  A book called "Space Beast" has been written about the events of Aliens 3 from the perspective of one of the prisoners and it has been made public, albeit illegally because the book was banned instantly.  Not everyone believes what it says, and those that do have different interpretations.

Then there's some general game information about what careers people have in the frontier (aka a basic class overview before we get to the classes section), how to roleplay the Alien system (or any other system really), "game modes" (one-offs or campaigns, one off's are called Cinematic Play because it's like the movies and most players will probably die), and other basic information.

The main thing that stands out is that Alien is a d6 dice pool system.  Sometimes you will roll a d3, and sometimes you will roll a d66 (like d100 but 2d6's instead of 2d10's).  There are two "types" of dice.  Base dice succeed on a 6 (this just means that a 6 is a success and everything else is a failure).  If you ever roll Stress dice, those trigger panic on a 1.  You can buy specialty Alien dice with symbols on the faces, or just color code which type of die is which when you roll.

Chapter 2 - Your Character

Before anything else, I want to make it clear that you are not allowed to play as a Xenomorph.  It isn't ever going to happen.  You're a human or an android, and androids aren't all bonuses with no negatives.  You should also clear it with the GM before you play one.

Character creation is pretty simple.  First, pick a Career (class).  Second, spend points on Attributes (they are Strength, Agility, Wits, and Empathy.  Wits includes sanity).  Third, spend points no Skills.  Fourth, pick Talents.  Then extra stuff like gear and name and everything else.  The everything else is different than many games but I'll get into that later.  After every session you gain at least 1 experience point, you then spend experience point on more skills or talents in 5 xp increments.

The classes are: Colonial Marine, Colonial Marshal, Company Agent, Kid, Medic, Officer, Pilot, Roughneck, and Scientist.  Kid is just what it sounds like, we have kids in the movies so you can be a kid in the game.  I know people that would have an issue with playing a game where kids get killed so just talk with your group.  Roughneck is just a generic blue-collar worker, it has nothing to do with military slang.  Every class gets a "key attribute".

Okay, you picked a career.  Time for Attributes.  Player attributes range from 2-4 and your key attribute can be raised to 5.  Everything starts at 2, you get points to divvy up as you please with each increase costing 1 point.  Your score is how many dice you get to roll.

Next, skills.  There are 12 skills, ranks are from 0-5 but you can only spend 3 points on skills listed in your career (like Class Skills) and 1 point on other skills (like cross-class skills).  Higher ranks would happen from spending xp on skill points.  As you can see from the sheet, skills have associated stats.  Your dice pool for skills add your skill level and attribute score together, even at 0 ranks.

Then you get a talent from the ones listed for your career.  Talents are kind of like feats.

Now we're at everything else.  Starting stress is 0.  Health is equal to your Strength score plus any adjustments from talents.  For name and appearance each career has some starting suggestions if you're not sure what to choose. 

Your Personal Agenda (see the character sheet) is either chosen for you if your character is pre-made or you make it otherwise.  Taking actions to further your agenda gives you bonuses.  For those reading closely, this is the first hint that Alien is a cooperative storytelling game (but I like it anyway).

Your buddy and rival are selected from among the other players.  This is used for the GM to create "interesting situations".  AKA if I make your buddy the one that's in trouble then I know you're more likely to go off on your own to help just like people do in the Alien movies.  These can change over the course of a game but not mid-session.

PvP is explicitly called out.  The GM can decide that PvP has escalated beyond the point of no return (say if you shoot another player).  When that happens, whichever one is the one that "turned traitor" becomes an NPC if still alive and the player gets a new PC.  Basically, there are rules in place to stop everyone from just killing everyone else without explicitly preventing it because it is possible that you have a damn good reason to do so.

Lastly, gear.  Career determines starting gear plus starting cash.  In addition, you might have noticed the Signature Item section on the sheet.  This is a sentimental item with no actual benefit.  A picture of your family can be a signature item, an assault rifle cannot. 

Encumbrance is also a thing.  Strength determines how many regular sized items you can have.  Heavy items count as two regular ones, light items count as 1/2, and tiny items (like your signature item) don't count at all.  You want to know what else does count?  Food and Water!  Nothing says survival horror like the possibility of being trapped on a spaceship and starving to death because you're too afraid to go to the canteen.

Chapter 3 - Skills

There are twelve skills, three per attribute:
 - Heavy Machinery (Use/repair/jury-rig/break/etc heavy machinery)
 - Stamina (Any physical stamina use, such as surviving a disease or the cold vacuum of space)
 - Close Combat (Melee attacks)
 - Mobility (Dodge/climb/sneak/jump/etc)
 - Ranged Combat (Ranged attacks)
 - Piloting (Piloting both spacecraft and ground vehicles0
 - Observation (Seeing things and noticing details about those things)
 - Comtech (Computer/communications technology use)
 - Survival (Surviving hostile environments)
 - Command (Commanding other people to do things including to stop panicking)
 - Manipulation (Lies/threats/etc)
 - Medical Aid (Saving lives and restoring health)

When using a skill, first describe what you do to use the skill.  Then, add your skill level to your attribute and roll that many dice (plus any possible stress dice).  If you roll at least one 6, you succeed.  Otherwise you fail.  More 6's equal a better success (for each additional 6 you choose a stunt listed from the skill and apply it).  These include things from "you show off" to "inflict one more point of damage" depending on the skill and the situation.  Players are encouraged to describe their success or failure with the help of the GM. 

Opposed rolls still exist, whoever gets the most successes wins the opposed roll.

If you fail your skill check is that the end of it?  NO!  You can "push" the roll.  First, increase your stress level by 1 point.  Second, grab all the dice that you roll and an additional number of stress dice equal to your now current stress level (plus any other modifiers like from gear or help from other people).  Third, roll them bones and hope you don't roll a 1 on any stress dice!  You can only push a roll once unless you have a talent that says otherwise.  Yes, stress helps you succeed on checks but the more stressed you are the more likely you are to panic.  Panicking can auto-fail your skill check and if you're firing a weapon and you roll a 1 on stress dice you also empty your magazine in a freakout episode in addition to any panicking.  More on panicking later (in the appropriate chapter).

Because of this, there's a sidebar about how dice rolling is only for situations where it is needed.  No searching the hallway every 5 feet for two hours because your Gygaxian GM loves traps in this game!

Group rolls are done differently than you would normally expect.  Only the person best at the task rolls and then everyone succeeds or fails together.  Obviously combat rolls aren't rolled as a group.

On a last note, if you have any story points from good agenda roleplaying then you can spend one to automatically get a 6, in addition to any other 6 you actually rolled (including rolling zero 6's).  Story points max out at three so you can't save them up forever until you fight an Alien Queen and spend ten of them to one-shot her.

Chapter 4 - Talents

Talents are like feats in D&D.  Career talents can only be learned by characters with a specific career, general talents can be learned by everyone  Starting characters get one career talent.  Each career has 3 career talents.  They help specialize your character.  Is your medic good at relieving stress, good at empathy, or good at performing medical aid when someone is about to die from a critical injury?

Chapter 5 - Combat & Panic

This chapters contents are pretty self-explanatory.  How do maps work?  How to play if you don't have a map.  How do lines of sight and zones work (a general term for areas, on a spaceship a room or hallway is generally a zone regardless of size)?  Time is rounds (seconds), turns (minutes), and shifts (hours) and again there's some wiggle room because this is a cooperative storytelling game and not Traveller 5 with pages of rules on how listening works.

Stealth gets a section which includes rules on motion trackers.  So do ambushes and sneak attacks.

Initiative is done using cards (which reminds me of Savage Worlds).  You can use their specialty cards or just A-9 of a single suit.  Lowest number goes first.  You get two actions on your turn, a slow action and a fast action or two fast actions.  Attacking is a slow action, moving is a fast action.  Movement is based on how many zones you can move through.

We've got rules on close combat (which includes rules on blocking, grappling, shoving, and retreating without getting hit), and rules on ranged combat including range modifiers, cover, ammo, and shooting full-auto).  You don't track bullets, you track full reloads of your weapon (you only run out of bullets due to stress, just like the movies!).  You can also take the Overwatch action which is basically readying an action to shoot someone if you see them.

On to damage, the thing players worry about the most.  As I mentioned, Health = Strength (plus modifiers from talents).  Armor gives you a dice pool to try and reduce damage (as a free action).  You heal one point of damage every turn (5-10 minutes) of rest.  If you drop to 0 health you roll for a critical injury, and if you are still alive you can crawl and mumble and not do anything that requires a dice roll.  Every time you're hit you roll for another critical injury but can't go below 0 hp (dead isn't below 0).

The critical injury roll is a d66 and has an accompanying table.  63-66 are auto-death, and there are a lot of "you'll die soon if someone doesn't help you" rolls such as severed limbs and cut arteries and punctured organs.  On 11-12 nothing bad happens at all though, so there's that.

Oh, you can also suffer from permanent mental trauma.  Fun times.

Here's a good excerpt from a sidebar to give you an idea of why things are so brutal.
Handling Death

The death of a PC can be traumatic, but try not to see it as a failure. Instead, consider it a dramatic peak in your story - a moment to remember, a fallen comrade to mourn - and then get back into the action as soon as possible. In Cinematic scenarios like the one included in this Starter Kit, the GM will generally have another character or NPC ready for you to play.

Other bad things that might happen to you include Stress & Panic.  There are 9 ways to gain stress including pushing skill rolls, taking damage, firing full-auto, and when Scientists on your team don't know what the fuck is going on because they failed to use a talent properly.  That last one is one of those little things that just make me happy to see because if fits in so perfectly.

I've talked about rolling 1's on stress dice to make a panic roll.  There are 5 other ways to have to roll a panic roll.  When making a panic roll, roll a d6, add your stress, and consult a table.  A low result is good, a high result is bad.  The higher the roll, the worse the result until we get to 15+ and you go completely catatonic.  Just as resting can restore health, it can also remove stress.  Unless you're starving or freezing to death or something else equally bad.  Your signature item can be used to remove a point of stress but only at specific intervals (once per session during a campaign).  Very high panic rolls are where permanent mental trauma has a chance to pop up.

Other things to worry about: Starvation, Dehydration, Exhaustion, the vacuum of space, Explosive Decompression, Freezing, Falling, Explosions, Fire, Disease, Radiation, Drowning, Suffocation, Synthetic individuals (aka androids), and Xenomorphs.

Vehicle combat also has some rules but it is only a couple of pages, it works basically the same as regular combat.

Chapter 6 - Gear

Weapons can grant a bonus to your attacks when using the weapon and deal a specific amount of damage (damage is not rolled).  There are also entries for range, weight (how many normal item slots it take up for encumbrance) , cost, and other comments (like is the ammo armor piercing or does the weapon have a power supply that might run out of energy).

Unarmed attacks are terrible, always have a knife or something as a backup.

As I mentioned, armor gives you a pool of armor dice that you roll to try and negate damage.  Some armor also has an air supply or other benefits (such as a built-in comm unit).  For $50,000 you can drive a power loader like Ripley used.  +3 to Heavy Machinery and Close Combat!

There's also other gear including ship AI, data storage (10 zettabytes of data on a disc for $30 is pretty future proof sounding to me), and other random stuff that you might have.  Vehicle stats are also in this chapter, as are their weapons.

Chapter 7 - A Hard Life Amongst the Stars

This is the worldbuilding chapter but it has some crunch in it so shouldn't be ignored just because you've watched all of the Alien movies hundreds of time.  Travel between the stars and hyper-sleep (including possible repercussions of) are here.  Life in space, on planets, on spacestations, etc is here.  Information on living expenses.  Different currencies.  Salaries (assassins and CEOs make big bucks).  Communication, including communication difficulties.  All kinds of other world building stuff.  If you're going to write a campaign, this is the chapter you want to read.

And then, for some reason, hardcore spaceship rules!  Not in the gear section with the vehicles, oh no.  Spaceships are special babies and go in the section with stars in the title because Space!  Spaceships are so ridiculously expensive that you should just assume you don't get one unless the GM says otherwise (or the adventure says otherwise). 

Space combat is here too.  It is different from Vehicle Combat.  Why is all the spaceship stuff shoved in a corner away from the vehicle rules which are in logical places?  I don't know, and it is the only serious formatting issue that I have with this book.

Spaceship combat is complicated.  It is 4 phases, has its own special map, and is fast and brutal.  Spaceships have their own critical injury tables, which include REACTOR DETONATION, as well as their own panic rolls.  Space piracy is possible but combat can be over in two full turns with one or both ships exploding so pirate at your own risk.

Other RPGs / Introduction to Starfinder
« on: April 04, 2020, 06:31:22 PM »
I like Starfinder, so I decided to write up this introduction to the system because some other people might like it too once they see what it's like.

A big thing to remember is that Stafinder is NOT Pathfinder in space, it is a different take on the D20 system.  The base lore is basically Pathfinder in the future, but there's a lot more to it than that and this post will just be about mechanics.

Instead of just making a big list of the differences, I'll break it down into sections (mostly like in the book but now you don't have to read it to know what's going on). 

Ability Scores: This is about what you'd expect except that point-buy is the default (with 10 being the base number for each stat) and rolling is an optional method.  Every class has a key ability score so you know what the most important stat is for you right out of the gate.

You gain ability score adjustments from your race (PF standard here with a total modifier of +2 per race).  In addition, you get one point from your theme. 

Themes: Hey look, we're already at something new.  Theme is just what it sounds like, it's a central theme for your character (you can choose to be "themeless" but that is pointed out to be a less powerful way to go so don't do that). 

The theme choice is a combination of background/training/goals/destiny/however you want to flavor it.  There are 9 themes (not counting themeless) in the core book and more books add more themes.  Each theme grants you benefits at 1st, 6th, 12th, and 18 levels as well as a +1 bonus to a specified ability score.  If you want to be an Outlaw you pick the Outlaw theme and get some Outlaw specific freebies and don't have to spend skill points or feats or whatever trying to make yourself more of an "outlaw".

Races: As I mentioned, races use the PF standard of having a total modifier of +2 (so humans get +2 to anything and everyone else gets two +2 bonuses and a -2 penalty).  The only new thing here is that races also have a HP section.  Humans start with more HP than rat people aliens and lizard people aliens get more than humans (2-6 is the standard range).

Hit Points: Hit Points are statically granted, not randomly generated.  You get HP from your race and then the listed HP from your class each level.  In addition, at every level you gain Stamina Points on top of HP and Con grants extra Stamina, not HP.  Stamina get reduced before HP.  In addition, nonlethal damage is just like regular damage except it can't reduce you below 0 hp so it isn't tracked as a completely different type of damage. 

Resolve Points: Another new thing, and definitely not Action Points.  Resolve points are either used to activate class features or to help you not die, and how many you have is based on the ability modifier of the key ability score of your class.

Classes: There are 7 classes in the core rulebook with a few more added in supplements.  Each class has a key ability score (some let you choose your score between two options).  This basically means that every class has abilities which are based on that score (so you don't have a fighter equivalent which cares about stats for combat but doesn't have class features).  There are no dead levels (at a minimum you gain a whole new level of spells that level).

Classes are very open-ended in way that I really like.  Each class has some core abilities (spells or a robot companion or bonuses with skills) and then you get a couple of lists to pick class features off of which drastically reduces cookie cutter builds (and this is good because multiclassing is allowed but there are no prestige classes at all, it's not a thing). 

In addition, everyone gets Weapon Specialization for free at 3rd level for a group of weapons so they can kill things in combat (and SF weapon specialization is bonus damage based on your level).  Also, ACFs exist but they're called Archetypes and they aren't class specific.  The Archetypes replace specified class features based on your original class and then you gain the new class features. If you want to focus on being cybernetically augmented or a sage or a divine champion then there is an Archetype for that and you don't have to try to shoehorn it into whatever build you're already going for.

Lastly, spells cap out at level 6.  Starfinder does not have a Wish equivalent, high level spells are just not in the game at all (as are most of the game breaking spells in general).

Skills: This is basically PF standard.  Maximum of 1 rank per level (doesn't matter if it is trained or untrained) and you get a +3 bonus for trained skills with ranks in them.  There are only 20 skills, and Profession is the only one where you pick a specialization.  All knowledge skills are now their own actual skill.

Equipment: Two things first: WBL is still a thing and Starships don't count as gear and aren't a part of WBL.  The big thing is that every item has a level.  If you're level 6, you should have weapons of around level 6 (which do more damage then level 1 weapons).  It is the same with armor and everything else.  Armor worn by level 20 characters is better quality than armor worn by level 1 characters, it isn't just the same armor with +10 worth of magic crap on it.

Magic and magic items still exist.  Magic weapon enhancements are called fusions (and there are rules for swapping them around) and armor can have upgrades which are not magical.  Weapon fusion cap is based on the item level of both the fusions and the weapon, armor upgrades are limited by the upgrade slots in the armor.  There are also augmentations (aka cybernetics/biotechnology), both technological as well as magical (Necrografts!).

Combat:  There are now only 2 armor classes, Kinetic Armor Class and Energy Armor Class. Different attacks target different armor classes and each armor has a value for both (though that value might be 0, and the higher the armor level the better the values).  No more of this flat-footed/touch stuff.  Saving throws are as normal.

Actions are pretty much as expected except Full Action has replaced Full-Round Action and a Full Action takes up your Swift too.  Immediate actions are gone and there is now the Reaction action (Attacks of Opportunity are a Reaction).

Vehicles also get their own rules which include rules for chases.

Starships: Having a starship is pretty much just assumed, as I mentioned it doesn't even count against you in terms of gear.  Of course, some premade (or homemade) adventures will make you earn one in some way or another.  FTL travel is done in the Drift which reminds me of nothing so much as the 40k warp except it isn't full of daemons and won't drive you insane.

Starships are complicated, they get a whole character sheet to themselves.  They have tiers, and their tiers are more like CR than Item Levels (including factional tiers).  However, the difference between starship tiers is bigger than CR.  You can either just pick a starship, or build one yourself.  Building one doesn't involve money in any way, each tier gains a specific number of Build Points.  Each frame (basic type of ship such as racer, shuttle, transport, etc.) costs a specific number of Build Points.  Whatever points are left over are used for components (power core, thrusters, drift engines, weapons, etc).

Starship Combat: Honestly this is the most complicated part of Starfinder.  As long as you are a part of the crew, you get to pick a role (captain, pilot, gunner, etc).  Each role gets to take an action during combat so everyone gets to do something.

Starship combat is done using a hex grid.  Starships have four firing arcs (forward, aft, port, and starboard).  Different weapons are in different arcs.  There are stunts you can make (with handy visualizations) and checks are required.  Up and down are not included, but this definitely is something that would be difficult to run without a battle map.

Thoughts?  Was this useful for anyone?  Is there anything that I should delve more deeply into?

[Pathfinder] Goblins! / Behaving Like Goblins - IC
« on: August 25, 2019, 09:23:49 PM »
You are goblins of the Licktoad Tribe. Or at least you will be someday. For now, though, you’re whelps—ravenous, amoral, grumpy goblin children who learned to stop eating rocks only a few months ago. But with every day that passes, your whelping cage seems smaller and smaller. The outside world increasingly beckons to your goblin curiosity (and appetite), but the hateful cage bars holds you at bay.

A few other whelps flourish in the cage, even as the smaller and weaker ones are thinned out. Kettlehead stands literally head and shoulders above the competition, being a goblin of impeccable flatulence and having already fashioned himself an impressive hat from a teapot left lying too close to the cages. Even adult goblins—legendary Chief Rendwattle Gutwad among them—have taken note of Kettlehead and his advanced skills of poking the rest of you with sticks and delivering bruise-inducing noogies.

But today is special. Today, instead of a bucket of fish heads, whelp-wrangler Loptop brought a key and unlocked the door to your cage, spilling you sorry lot into the world for the first time. Other Licktoads gather around, eyeballing you and chewing on the fish heads that should have been yours. “You all are too big for cages,” Loptop snorts. “But you’re not Licktoads yet. Licktoads gotta be useful. Licktoads gotta be tough! Licktoads gotta earn their places in the tribe. And that’s what you’re gonna do now! Show us where you belong, even if that ends being the boneyard!”

Loptop lines all of you up with the other whelps, but excuses Kettlehead for his obvious superiority.  After a few awkward moments, she continues.  "You will do challenges!  First challenge, Animal Fiendship!"  The gathered adult goblins form a circle around you and one brings out a cage full of head-sized scarlet spiders.  Loptop then challenges each whelp to tie a leash to a spider.

[Pathfinder] Goblins! / Dice are for rolling, not eating!
« on: August 20, 2019, 10:24:33 PM »
Dice rolling thread (not dice eating thread).

[Pathfinder] Goblins! / We Be Goblins! - Character sheets
« on: August 20, 2019, 09:44:09 PM »
Sheets go here.

[Pathfinder] Goblins! / Goblin Talk - OOC
« on: August 14, 2019, 02:59:30 PM »
Okay, we've got a board.

There are five goblin adventures. Do you all want a one and done or to go through them all?

Board Business / Stepped Down as Mod
« on: February 04, 2019, 09:27:49 AM »
All technical issues of the board have been resolved and everything that could be easily done in the input request thread has been done.

I have now stepped down as a mod and am a normal board member again.

Play By Post / Goblins
« on: January 22, 2019, 06:52:42 PM »
I am thinking of rinning a short silly level 1 adventure (that could be continued with more short silly adventures) where everyone is a goblin.

This is the adventure.

The system would be Pathfinder, the adventure is designed for pre-made characters so I would let everyone make their own but sources would be limited (otherwise you'd all just steamroll anything). I think we'll just stick with premades unless that's a big deal.

Would anyone be interested?

More information is available upon request of course.

Board Business / Community Input Requested
« on: January 21, 2019, 08:49:06 PM »
Okay, so as we all know I've been around forever and I'm a mod now.  I've been fixing a bunch of technical issues (and I found one that looks like it can't be fixed without migrating the forum again so I'm just leaving that one alone).

As part of my forum support duties, I'm branching beyond tech support and have two questions for all of you.  I don't care how long you've been here or how many/few times you've posted, I am welcoming all input.

Question 1: Is there any functionality that people would like added or changed?  This could be something big or small, as an example the Dice Roller and Bookmarks are features that were added to the forum. 

Question 2: Is there anything that we can do to stop forum activity from being so low?  Should the Mods mod more (it would be hard to mod less)?  Should I hack into GitP and forward all of their traffic over here?  (I can't actually do that.)  Should we just give up because nobody wants to talk on a message board anymore?  Logins aren't super low compared to what I remember historically but people just aren't posting like they used to.

Board Business / Technical Issues Resolved
« on: January 06, 2019, 06:53:56 PM »
Okay, the issue of posts having eaten text and weird question mark symbols in them should now be resolved.

Are there any other technical issues that boards have had that anyone wants me to look into?

Board Business / Behold your new Mod
« on: December 24, 2018, 01:25:25 PM »
Hi everyone, I am now a mod.  Surprise!

Specifically I'm going to try to fix all of the technical issues that we've been having lately.  Whether or not I'm going to be pulled in for actual mod duties is up to the other mods.

Hopefully I'll get things sorted out relatively quickly.

Board Business / Easy Table Coding
« on: August 02, 2018, 05:31:13 PM »
I just discovered something and want to share it with all of you.

If you're like me, coding tables from scratch is a pain (especially ones with lots of columns).

However I have found a website that accepts table data from Excel (or any other spreadsheet program) and converts it into a basic bbcode table that you can then adjust (adding colors or lines or whatnot).  It can also output code for html tables as well as for putting into a wiki.

Homebrew and House Rules (D&D) / Homebrew Reviewing and General Help
« on: April 02, 2018, 12:10:59 AM »
If you're looking for a homebrew reviewer, look no further for I am the Homebrew Connoisseur.  I am here to make all of your homebrew review dreams come true! *Will not actually make dreams come true.

As you might (or might not) already know, I have been titled the Homebrew Connoisseur (as well as the board's official Discord channel).  I've been reviewing homebrew for....a long time.  I like to think that I've gotten pretty good at it (and other people seem to agree since I've got this nifty title now). 

If you want me to look at something, let me know.  I also have a tendency to remember things that I read and have become something of a homebrew encyclopedia.  I don't know everything that is in the homebrew compendium, but I probably know some things that aren't in there.  If there's something specific that you're looking for let me know, maybe I can help you find some homebrew that can help you out.

Feel free to post here, or you can send me a PM.  If it is something small I'll try to get to it quickly.  Larger projects will go into my to-do list which is in my "Notes to Self" thread mentioned in my signature and I'll try to get to them as soon as convenient.  General questions/posts will get responded to as soon as I have an actual answer for you.

Like other helpful threads that I post, I'm starting this but it isn't just for me.  If someone posts something and you have an answer, tell it.  If someone asks for reviews and you want to review it, do so.  I can't do everything (despite what some people might thing  :p).

In addition, the different homebrew compendium threads lost their stickies as part of the reorganization of this sub-board.  They might not be updated anymore, but I still think that they might be helpful to others so I have linked to them below.

Homebrew Compendiums
[D&D 3.5] Homebrew Compendium
  - Martial Discipline Compendium
  - [3.5] Rewrite Compilation

[D&D PF and 4E] Homebrew Compendium

Board Business / Initial Posting Requirements
« on: January 17, 2018, 12:27:28 AM »
The restrictions on new people posting have been removed, people no longer have to introduce themselves to gain access to post on the rest of the board.

Was this intentional?

Board Business / PbP Game Master group
« on: December 27, 2017, 12:20:18 AM »
So, this exists as a user membership group and I just discovered it.

Is it used for anything?  I ask as someone who is running a PbP game.

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