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Pen & Paper Roleplaying Central => Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion => Topic started by: HappyDaze on September 21, 2021, 07:49:39 PM

Title: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 21, 2021, 07:49:39 PM
Spinning off from another thread:

Soulbound is a D6 pool-based RPG by Cubicle 7 set in Games Workshop's Age of Sigmar world.

What's the world like? It has some common elements with Warhammer Fantasy, particularly the gods, but it's a very different setting. It's designed for mythic fantasy with high-powered heroes walking the same worlds (yes, plural--there are eight "Mortal Realms" and a few other demi-words beyond those) as the characters. Here Sigmar is literally the God-King and players could conceivably have a conversation with him or the other gods. The baseline magic level of the setting is considerably higher than the Old World of WFRP. Anyway, after the death of the Old World, the gods all got together and made the worlds better places...until their alliance fragmented. Then Chaos came and shit got bad. A long time later (no hard timeline dates) Sigmar lauches his big counterpush with his new army of Stormcast Eternals, and the results lead to the current Age of Sigmar.

The PCs in this setting are the Soulbound. Essentially, back when the gods were all buddied up, they came up with a ritual to unite bands of mortals into special ops teams. The Soulbound did some cool stuff in the prehistory but were largely gone by the time the gods broke up their club and Chaos invaded. But now the gods are again seeing the need for them, so the various factions contibute their quirky badasses to form Soulbound Bindings. This is how the game gives us ways to combine a bunch of oddballs together in one party.

Characters are built by choosing a faction, a species (many factions only have a single species), then an archetype. The archetype gives you your basic options for attributes, skills, talents, and equipment. In all cases, each archetype has certain fixed/mandatory bits and some optional bits to select from a short list. Character creation can be very quick.

The mechanics are based on a D6 pool with tasks set as X:Y where X is the target number and Y is how many successes are needed. In general, extra successes beyond the Y give a better result. For many tasks, the X is set to 4, with advantage shifting it to 3 (or 2 with greater advantage) or disadvantage shifting it to 5 (or 6 with greater disadvantage). In combat, the X is determined by comparing the attacker's Melee/Accuracy with the defender's Defence (these values are based on Attribute + Skill combos and modified by certain talents and gear, like shields that improve defence). There are lots of general combat options--even without considering the special options offered by some talents--are fairly robust.

Spellcasting provides versatility--a starting spellcaster gets 6 spells for the cost of one talent--but some of the spells are hard to cast and there are penalties to failing the casting roll (some of them are really bad too).

Miracles (used by Blessed priests of various tyoes) are rather powerful and generally provide more kick than spells. The downside is that each miralce costs a talent, so the priest typcially has fewer effects available than a spellcaster.

There's a lot more I can cover, but does anyone have any specific questions?
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: oggsmash on September 21, 2021, 07:59:38 PM
  I would assume most adventures center around finding tools to combat chaos/investigating chaos incursions or the like?   I am curious as to how advancement works (more granular like Gurps or Savage worlds, or more big bump like a level gain in D&D or Pathfinder).
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: oggsmash on September 21, 2021, 08:03:46 PM
 I do not know if you are familiar with the boardgames using Age of Sigmar miniatures (the silver tower, shadows over hammerfell) that are essentially dungeon crawlers.   But if so, are the themes similar for the most part in the game, or is it a bit more meta themed as compared to WHFRP (where it seemed most adventures are pretty grounded in helping or accomplishing things on a smaller scale). 
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 21, 2021, 08:13:12 PM
  I would assume most adventures center around finding tools to combat chaos/investigating chaos incursions or the like?   I am curious as to how advancement works (more granular like Gurps or Savage worlds, or more big bump like a level gain in D&D or Pathfinder).
Soulbound Bindings are created and initially tasked with quests of various types, but they are also allowed a lot of autonomy after that to do whatever is necessary for the cause of Order (or Death, if you have the Champions of Death sourcebook and want to play a Binding of undead).

Advancement is entirely based on goals. The Binding has a short-term and a long-term goal. When they are completed they give XP and you choose another goal. Each character also has individual short-term and long-term goals that work almost the same way. There are no character levels, when you get XP, you spend it directly to raise an attribute/skill rank (escalaing costs) or buy a new talent (each talent is 2 XP). Between adventures, there is a system of "Endeavours" that covers things like making new gear, learning new spells, training companion beasts, and a lot more.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 21, 2021, 08:13:54 PM
I do not know if you are familiar with the boardgames using Age of Sigmar miniatures (the silver tower, shadows over hammerfell) that are essentially dungeon crawlers.   But if so, are the themes similar for the most part in the game, or is it a bit more meta themed as compared to WHFRP (where it seemed most adventures are pretty grounded in helping or accomplishing things on a smaller scale).
I'm not familiar with any of those, so I couldn't say if they are similar or not.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: oggsmash on September 21, 2021, 08:46:42 PM
I do not know if you are familiar with the boardgames using Age of Sigmar miniatures (the silver tower, shadows over hammerfell) that are essentially dungeon crawlers.   But if so, are the themes similar for the most part in the game, or is it a bit more meta themed as compared to WHFRP (where it seemed most adventures are pretty grounded in helping or accomplishing things on a smaller scale).
I'm not familiar with any of those, so I couldn't say if they are similar or not.

  Your other answer sort of covered this.   Basically a specific task to complete, but a good bit of wiggle to do other things as well.   I think I will snag a copy.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 22, 2021, 08:25:14 AM
One of the key mechanics in the game is Mettle. This is a pool of points based on your character's Soul/2 (round up), possibly modified by certain talents. PCs start with 1-2 Mettle. Mettle refreshes 1 point per turn (up to the character's max). It can be spent to modify dice rolls in a couple of ways, is the fuel for certain talents (especially miracles), and it can also be spent for extra actions. We found that these extra actions were often the most effective way to spend Mettle, and thus most characters perpetually had 2 actions per turn. Only the toughest of enemies (Champions and Chosen) have Mettle, but when they do, they spend it just like PCs (meaning extra actions is usually the best way to spend it).
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 22, 2021, 08:46:20 AM
How do opponents work in Soulbound? Glad you asked!

There are four types of opponents: Minions, Warriors, Champions, and Chosen. Minions are just what they sound like and have pitiful skills and die after taking 1 point of damage. Warriors are competent and even dangerous in numbers, but they tend to have skills individually below that of PCs and they lack both Mettle and the ability to withstand Wounds. Champions are upgunned Warriros with (sometimes much) greater skills and the ability to use Mettle. Chosen are another step highter, can use Mettle, can withstand Wounds, and are generally boss baddies. The core book comes with a reasonable large selection of opponents, bu there is also the Bestiary which puts the vast majority of options from the Age of Sigmar wargame into the RPG.

On a side note, some Minions (usually very weak ones) can form swarms. The mechanic is simple, with the groups pooling Toughness (a swarm of 10 Grots has 10 toughness and a Grot dies for each point of damage suffered). Offensively, these guys get +1d6 per member, so the 10 Grots make a single attack at 12d6 (the base attack of a Grot is 2d6). They don't improve their Melee/Accuracy though, so it's still likely they need 6s to score hits against all but the least combat-capable of targets,
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: ChrisFox on September 22, 2021, 09:11:02 AM
Thanks for the write up, Happy. I played Warhammer back when it was based on Rolemaster / MERP and it was a terrible system. So many players maimed literally in character creation.

This system sounds a lot cooler, and I've always liked the Warhammer world. Might give this a look.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: Godfather Punk on September 22, 2021, 10:09:44 AM
I only played the free Crash & Burn scenario with the starter set rules and pregens, but the players and I had a blast!

Unlike Warhammer, in Soulbound the player are Superheroes. Dealing massive damage, surviving impossible odds, ... (like crashing an airship into a forest fire).
The WarPriest on the team after his normal attack used Mettle almost every round, to Heal everybody in range (both the heroes as the commoners they had to protect), while the Kurnoth Hunter (Treeman Ranger) could rain arrows on the Minions, and the Stormcast Eternal was just a Beast in Combat, taking the 'Tank' role literally. Swarms of Ratmen or Goblins? Bring 'em on!

Definitely a contender for what we'll play next, after our current D&D campaign ends.

Note this is not he Warhammer World, ChrisFox. This is after the apocalypse wiped out the Olde World, Chaos conquered all, and after a thousand years of licking their wounds, the forces of Law are just starting their counteroffensive and have to rebuild the Mortal Realms. No more hobbits, the dwarves are either lava worshipping nudists or steamtech mercantilists, some (Dark) elves remain but most Aelves are either worshippers of Kaine (god of assassins), Treehuggers or underwater dwelling soulharvesters*. I think there are also still some humans around...

*) in the metaplot, the Light Aelves have also just turned up, so if you want to play Glorfindel style elves, and if you buy the Champions of Order supplement, you have that option too.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 22, 2021, 11:06:04 AM
The WarPriest on the team after his normal attack used Mettle almost every round, to Heal everybody in range (both the heroes as the commoners they had to protect)
My players made their own characters for that adventure, and the lack of a priest (or any significant healer type) was almost certainly what led to a TPK in the final encounter.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: KingCheops on September 22, 2021, 12:40:22 PM
How well does advancement work?  I've gone through the rules but haven't played a campaign so I'm curious about how things ramp up.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 22, 2021, 01:03:59 PM
How well does advancement work?  I've gone through the rules but haven't played a campaign so I'm curious about how things ramp up.
I can't really say. I had a session 0 and three sessions of play before we hit a TPK. Several characters had completed a short-term goal, and so had an XP unspent, but no long-term goals had been completed thanks to the efforts of the Mighty Dizzleshroom and his pet dankhold troggoth.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: KingCheops on September 22, 2021, 01:36:29 PM
Ah okay.

What did you find was very deadly for the group in the starter adventure?  I note you mentioned no War Priest or other healer.  Can we get a description of what did them in?  Shaman magic and/or troll vomit/smash?
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: horsesoldier on September 22, 2021, 01:41:09 PM
I have such resentment for what GW did to Warhammer Fantasy that I can never give this game a fair shake.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 22, 2021, 02:08:15 PM
Ah okay.

What did you find was very deadly for the group in the starter adventure?  I note you mentioned no War Priest or other healer.  Can we get a description of what did them in?  Shaman magic and/or troll vomit/smash?
Drizzleshroom can cast spells with 8d6 and +2 Focus (he can increase the result of one die by 2 or 2 dice by 1 each). With Arcane Bolt, that's a nasty hit. He also can, once per encounter, cast a spell as a free action (on top of actions from his 2 Mettle) and he can also use a free action to give one ally another action--which is really nasty on a dankhold troggoth. Drizzleshroom also has a high awareness making it almost impossible to hide from him. Casting Mystic Shield on both himself and the troggoth in turn 3 (when they emerge into the encounter) made both of them a fair bit harder to hit. Oh, and Drizzleshroom could also Unbind spells considerably better than the PC could cast them (for comparison, the PC battlemage was casting at 6d6 with +1 Focus).

The dankhold troggoth has really high Defense, resistance to magic, and a 24 toughness (unless Drizzleshroom is not present for the final encounter, but he had previously escaped, so...) plus it regenerates 4 toughness per turn. Even though it only has armour 2 (which is still pretty good), it's a very hard target to take down. When it attacks, it grabs with 10d6 and +2 Focus (as before) and a really high Melee meaning it hits most targets on 2s. It was often hitting for 7-8 damage at a time, and then the target is grabbed (Restrained condition) which then means the troggoth can spend another action (it has 2 Mettle and gets an extra action from Drizzleshroom too) to squeeze for an automatic, armour-ignoring 5 points of damage. Characters attacked by the troggoth went from perfectly fine to Mortally Wounded very quickly.

Prior encounters were tough too. There was one with Squigs doing Boing! Smash! which is a living cannonball attack that was 5d6 (needing 5s to hit most of my PCs) and a damage of 2 + Successes...but with this attack the final damage was doubled (before armour). This means that even 2 successes was an 8-pt hit, which, even accounting for armour, took characters to Mortally Wounded in 2-3 hits.

Before that there's a shitty encounter that is all about special case rules. No, really. The rules for the encounter use Deadly Hazard terrain but in a way that is non-standard. Why the hell they choose to use bespoke rules for a special case in an introductory module is beyond me, but if the PCs didn't know exactly how to game the encounter they would have died. I ran this one with full transparency for them and helped them to understand the weird-ass mechanics. As it was, they came up with a system that only barely let them survive it (but would have totally had a cascade failure if any one of them went down). Again, this could have been much easier with a priest spamming area heals every turn.

Even in the beginning, the Tzaangors that bring the ship down were tough, but part of that is that 1/3 of my group was totally useless in ranged combat (the Witch Elf) and another was only modestly able to contribute.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: KingCheops on September 22, 2021, 03:00:15 PM
thanks for the detailed break down HappyDaze!
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 22, 2021, 03:14:48 PM
thanks for the detailed break down HappyDaze!
Much as with some versions of D&D, party composition can make a huge difference. Some characters have abilities that synergize really well with certain other characters (a high Mind character with Tactician is great with a powerful ranged attacker in the group, somewhat less so with a melee attacker buddy, and much less useful if the others rely on spells and/or miracles for their damage output). Healing spam seems almost mandatory to survive the big fights (but would probably make the lesser battles into time-wasting pillow fights).

I'll note that our Celestial College Battlemage did have a spell that could restore Toughness, but it was way less than what the miracles could do, and he even hurt himself miscasting it once.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 24, 2021, 08:43:55 AM
I've been looking over Champions of Death, where you play a Binding of undead in service to the cause of Death under Nagash, for the last few days. It's kinda cool that this game has an option for playing monsters (Ghouls, Soulblight Vampires, Wights, Nighthaunts, and Ossiarch Bonereapers) that still work neatly within the rules given and don't show any major power creep. I'm not sure I want to run these as protagonists, but they can also be used to create a "Legion of Doom" to oppose a Binding of Order-allied heroes.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: Orphan81 on September 27, 2021, 04:32:50 AM
Sounds thematically similar to Exalted in the sense of 'Chosen by the gods, imbued with their power, high powered fantasy ass kicking'.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 27, 2021, 09:06:35 AM
Sounds thematically similar to Exalted in the sense of 'Chosen by the gods, imbued with their power, high powered fantasy ass kicking'.
In many ways, yes, but with WFRP stylings rather than anime. Also, as it's not WW making it, Soulbound doesn't feature as much angst such as a "must hide who/what I am & can't ever revel in my power" angle (admittendly, the Dragon-Blooded exalted didn't have this so much under most circumstances) nor a "Great Curse" to make their lives hell (closest bit is that Soulbound are sterile and they have no afterlife to look forward to...but with Nagash dominating afterlives, that isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Also, while much of Exalted assumes that players will play Exalts of the same type (all Solars, or all Dragon-Blooded, etc.), Soulbound assumes that groups will be very diverse (a Daugher of Khaine, a Fyreslayer, an Idoneth Deepkin, and a Groot-wannabe walk into a bar...). I guess you could say that each of the Grand Alliances are their own thing, but I think that's more like saying "all Celestial Exalts" than just "all Solars" in Exalted terms.

Finally, Exalted relied a lot upon Artifacts/magical items, while Soulbound does not. Sure, some characters have essential items (like Stormcast Eternals and their signature Sigmarite gear) but it is considerably less powerful that the Artifacts I remember from Exalted (primarily 1e).
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: KingCheops on September 27, 2021, 10:13:33 AM
You could probably add Kharadron Overlords as dependent on gear since without it they are basically just normal Duardin without their sky pirate steampunk gear.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 27, 2021, 10:45:40 AM
You could probably add Kharadron Overlords as dependent on gear since without it they are basically just normal Duardin without their sky pirate steampunk gear.
Sure, and Fyreslayers need their runes too. In fact, almost all of the factions have a few nice pieces of signature gear, but I still think they are less high powered compared to  Exalted's Artifacts and Hearthstones (at least the rating 3+ ones).
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: KingCheops on September 27, 2021, 11:12:57 AM
Fair enough.  I tried cracking open my Exalted 2e book to give it a peruse.  The curiosity didn't last longer than one evening.  I can't really remember what it was like.

Even apart from the gear all the different culture groups are just so distinct that they're very interesting.  It takes a lot of shoe-horning to get some of them together especially the weirder ones like Idoneth Deepkin, Sylvaneth, or Seraphon (coalesced or starborn) but there's just so much cool stuff in the Age of Sigmar setting.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 27, 2021, 07:19:57 PM
Fair enough.  I tried cracking open my Exalted 2e book to give it a peruse.  The curiosity didn't last longer than one evening.  I can't really remember what it was like.

Even apart from the gear all the different culture groups are just so distinct that they're very interesting.  It takes a lot of shoe-horning to get some of them together especially the weirder ones like Idoneth Deepkin, Sylvaneth, or Seraphon (coalesced or starborn) but there's just so much cool stuff in the Age of Sigmar setting.
I think they recognized that the Seraphon, in particular,  are very weird. So much so that they are in a separate pdf supplement rather than the core book.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on September 29, 2021, 02:02:12 PM
I read that they have an expansion coming out that will move the setting into another era of the evolving  metaplot. The default game is set during the aftermath of the Necroquake/Soul Wars (most of Age of Sigmar 2e), but the expansion will push it into the Broken Realms/Time of the Beast (end of Age of Sigmar 2e and start of 3e). The timespan between these two is not set, but seems to be centuries...but since Soulbound are immortal, you can move the same group forward if you like or play in the corebook's setting for a long time and never need the expansion.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: Chainsaw Surgeon on September 30, 2021, 03:01:13 PM
Appreciate the analysis.  This is in the running for our next big campaign.  I don't know a lot of the lore and this sums up the concept nicely along with the mechanics. 
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on November 20, 2021, 08:09:53 PM
Ended the rebooted campaign tonight. I was finding some abilities to be really imbalanced, and when certain characters are built around them, the game gets really unfun (for everyone but that player) very quickly. Some of the spells don't seem bad until you realize that, unlike with D&D, they can just be spammed over and over again. This means that certain "best moves" start appearing as obvious choices, and it makes play really boring for many encounters. Sure, there are ways around it, but there are so many of these holes that show up, that you fill one in and then step right into another. Perhaps with another edition some of these ugly burrs will get filed off.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: KingCheops on November 20, 2021, 08:17:02 PM
Well that's disappointing.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on November 20, 2021, 09:02:49 PM
Busted-ass mechanics can be present, like the Witch Aelf. This character can use Stealth along with Vanish to hide in plain sight. Now enemies that can't detect her (which is most of them) have Defense reduced to Poor against her next attack. Thanks to Backstab, her attack with a subtle weapon (like a bow or pair of daggers) deals double damage and ignores armour. This meant that she was often doing 6-8 damage per turn with her bow or 10-12 damage with paired daggers. How every turn? Because she had 2 Mettle.

Turn 1
Hide, spend 1 Mettle to Attack, spend 1 Mettle to Hide

Turn 2+

regain 1 Mettle, Attack, spend 1 Mettle to Hide
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: HappyDaze on November 21, 2021, 02:34:24 AM
Also, the second time around we had a War Priest...and it broke the fuck out of the game.

The basic healing prayer, when coupled with the spending of 1 Mettle (and remember you regain 1 Mettle at the beginning of every turn) can heal 5-9 Toughness as an AoE affecting all friendlies in a zone. Often, this is all of the PCs. Bizarrely, AoE damage effects do far less than 5-9 Toughness, often only doing 2-3 before armour is considered--and there is a risk to the caster if the roll goes bad. IOW, it is far easier to spam AoE healing than it is to inflict AoE damage.
Title: Re: So, a little bit about Soulbound...
Post by: Naburimannu on November 21, 2021, 07:44:55 AM
Thanks for the write up, Happy. I played Warhammer back when it was based on Rolemaster / MERP and it was a terrible system. So many players maimed literally in character creation.

This is a tangent, but what are you referring to here? I had both RM/MERP and WFRP back around first edition (late 80s/early 90s), and the systems were completely different. It's mostly Traveller that is famous for maiming during character creation, and it wasn't a big part of either of those games. I'd heard that some of the more recent mods of WFRP were different, but related to Rolemaster? If we're avoiding a thread derail, what can I be reading to get some capsule history here?

1e RM/MERP: 10 percentile-based stats, many fine-grained skills with 20+ levels possible in each, level-based character class commitment at creation, spending skill points on level-up.
1e WFRP: mix of percentile-based and single-digit-number stats, fewer skills and fewer skill levels, character professions changing over the course of play, spending XP directly on profession-enabled skill/stat changes, not the explicit foregrounded levels.