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Topics - Shrieking Banshee

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I have an aggressive love-hate relationship with Shadowrun. It's got so much stuff I think I like from a distance, and then I utterly despise up-front.
I find so much of it forgivable or re-workable (The nonsense of NAN, the hipster - spiritualism, the incongruous tone) If I could envision it in a way I think the game wants to be but just I can't read: I want to run games where it's rebellious and not soul-crushing.

This isn't a modern version issue or the like. I read the 1e books and rulesets and try to envision a rebellious game, but the nature of the worldbuilding, as well as the core assumptions of the game, don't lend themselves to being a badass cool rebel as much as a corporate pawn (but with a Mohawk), or at best a gangbanger that doesn't extort the old people I guess.
The corporations are just presented as too monolithic, and the forces at play as too overwhelmingly powerful and in control that nothing your party could do could change anything even on a small scale.
And it's not a grim tone that gets me. One of my favorite settings is GURPS: Reign of Steel and it's a way more miserable place than the 6th world. Its just written with more adventure hooks.

Now of course so much of the above is a rant, but I just wanted to get this feeling off my chest. I genuinely want help in running a punky, anarchic, gonzo, Shadowrun game but I can't really find any good material for reference stuff.

So I have read a bunch of different OSR materials and the nature of its combat maths kinda confound me in how they are 'supposed' to work.
As you level up, you go from things being hard to hit but easy to effect with spells, to things being easy to hit but hard to effect with spells.
I also know spells also scale up in effect, and usually do something on a successful saving throw anyway or don't grant one at all.

I'm left unsure what this is supposed to make higher-level combat like. Increasingly deterministic?
What's the effect of the combat supposed to be?

This isn't me judging it or the like, I just feel like im not 'getting' it and want some feedback/ explanation.

It's probably the case that the maths were just what they thought up at the time and didn't think it through any further then that.

I'm planning on a re-write of existing D&D 3e economics and magic item rules, for which Id like references to real history just for inspiration. I don't want to make a hyper-realistic economy just something that feels more real to me.

Anybody knows good reference material for knowing wages, and costs of living, and materials over the centuries?

While I would say I always like to make a character around a theme or concept more than around mechanics, I had just entered a discussion with somebody that prefers the character 'crunch' to help them make a character and understand the 'things you can do'.

I always attributed this behaviour to just power gaming or being munchkiny, but the person I had this conversation with is a good friend who has never been somebody like that.
It got me thinking about the other people I know or have played with that prefer high crunch because well...They probably have light autism.

I had recently been disavowing crunch in my games, but the nature of how higher crunch can be helpful to some has just got me thinking.

What do you think about the subject?

This is something I'm having trouble understanding about people with a deific fondness for games that had rules but then you ignored them or made up your own. I won't lie and say that I haven't just fudged rules, or just rolled with whatever was happening to move the game along. But that was made on a foundation of rules I generally liked and could use as written most of the time. Because that was a product I paid for. Functional rules.

When I hear some people reminisce about old school games, the fact that the rules were such vague and contradicting, unfinished, unrefined, clusterfuck is talked about with deep fondness. That somehow having bad rules, or non-existent rules made it better because if it was bad, then you can ignore them and make your own. Or just improv all the time.

So wouldn't the logical endpoint just be an improv night without any rules at all? If consistent rules and character-building gets in the way of the DM telling the story he wants, why have any rules at all? Why not just write up a short story with some people occasionally assisting with minor suggestions for individual characters?

Fundamentally I believe everybody can have the fun they want. Really this is more conceptual confusion for me. Personally, I believe it's just nostalgia.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Good OSR Bestiary?
« on: January 01, 2021, 12:21:30 PM »
Ima gonna be running a game of Godbound by play by post while outside of the timezone of my regular game.

And I want some inspiration for monsters and the like. Anybody got a good OSR bestiary to reccomend?

I have come to really loathe "Pop" Cthulu and "Lovecraft Inspired" works as of late. Which I find kinda sucks because I overall love Occultic Horror, and I find Lovecrafts best works fall inside of the genre. In fact his 'Cosmic' horror elements are probably the weakest. By themselves and to a modern audience. 'Cosmic Horrors' are black holes with an angry face. We live in a cosmos of constant horror. I find the attempts to spookify the narrative equivalent of natural disasters to be misplaced.

And while anything can be pop-interpreted and copycatted until people miss the point (Like Tolkiens Elves), I feel that Lovecrafts works have had it especially bad and I feel I can trace it too the Santity mechanic as a whole. Some people really hate alignment in D&D, well I personally hate Santity Mechanics more (outside of abstract simulationist videogames or board games). While stress and sanity are a large theme of Lovecrafts works, its been gimmicked, and I find unlike the Alignment system people don't reject it as much as they do alignment. Not because its not an 'accurate simulation of mental illness' (or whatever) but because it centerfolds the entire fiction on said element.

But I feel thats just one massively misenterpreted element of this sort of horror, there is much more (visuals, themes, the entire idea of a mythos, execution). But I wanted to focus on how I feel at least it should be done right

A: You don't need tentacles. The monsters don't have to be aberrant or all that alien. To a certain extent lovecrafts monsters are not really all that unusual or different. His elder gods are largely just demons. But they took from scary new elements to create something new and at least visually differentiating at the time. Now its overplayed and they look like every other monster. Really any monster works towards occultic horror works in this, even traditional ones. Themes of corruption, or infiltration, or powerful beings being asleep or in control of places you don't want them to be in control works with just about anything. To a certain degree the focus is on mands hubris in relation to these beings, not how creepy they look. Werewolves work as well as deep ones. Vampires work as well as cultists. Anything thats a terrifying explanation for a unexplainable natural phenomena works.

B: It doesn't need to be apocalyptic or unstoppable. Inevitability is narratively boring. If you can't do anything about it, then your just writing a disaster film story with a shaggy dog ending. A horror that cares about the misery its to inflict is much scarier and a much worse prospect because it gives ways of interaction. A room with twisted shadows that play tricks on the mind is generally scarier then a pitch black room where you can't see anything at all. An evil that does have a use for humanity as eternal thralls in great suffering is generally a worse prospect then just being killed.

C: Sanity loss elements have to be used sparingly. Sanity loss causing items in lovecraft exist but work best sparingly and are not really all that different then a wand that makes you evil or something. The core is something that weakens you or corrupts you towards some perpose. Humans are deeply adaptable and adjustable. To a certain extent I find Lovecrafts 'And then a X popped out and drove X person crazy' a really dull narrative element. Works more for a ending zinger then a recurring narrative element.

Talks about what everybody uses as their preferred system for D&D-esque adventures got me to want to present what I use:

Spheres of Power (This is the website for the PF version)
Just as a warning: I do like the system so much I became a freelance writer for it (later) so if you feel that compromises my objectivity thats something Im saying upfront.

What is Spheres of Power?
Spheres of Power and might is a 3rd party supplement for pathfinder that pretty much replaces the existing Vancian magic system for PF. It has the following components:

Spheres: In place of schools of magic there are magic spheres. There are more spheres of magic (20+ some extras) than schools because each one is more specialized. Example spheres include: Alteration (Shapeshifting), Conjuration (Summoning Creatures), Creation (Creating objects or modifying them), Dark (Darkness related stuff), Illusion (Yup). There is some overlap in each sphere but each one is generally the best at what they do.

Talents: In place of spells learned or a spellbook, spellcasters get a number of talents they can invest into spheres. This is similar to feats. You must first invest a talent into a sphere to gain its base ability, but can invest further talents to either gain access to other spheres or increase your ability with one you already have.
This is similar to feat trees, but the vast majority (like 90%) of abilities that you can pick don't have pre-requisites except for possessing the base sphere.

For example lets say I want to play a blasty fireball chucking type mage. And lets say for whatever reason I have 5 talents. I can invest 1 into the destruction sphere (The premiere blasty sphere), which gains me access to a ray that simply deals bludgeoning damage. I can invest a talent into the sphere further to then gain the option to make that ray deal fire damage and burn continuously after a hit. I can then invest a further talent to allow myself to make a area of effect type ability in place of a simple ray.

I can then invest into alternate shapes that my blasts could do, or maybe invest in other spheres (Like maybe in conjuration to summon elementals).

Caster Level: Spell slots are removed from the system. In its place, what determines how good a class is at spellcasting is their caster level. In place of each magic class having a caster level equal to their level, they instead gain a caster level sort of like a base attack bonus. Weak magic is 1/2 your level. Medium magic is 3/4 your level, and High magic is 1/1 your level. Your caster level determines your sphere's abilities as well as their DC. And caster level stacks between different classes similarly to base attack bonus.
So a 5th level Wizard (CL 5) and 5th level Bard (CL 3): Would have a total caster level of 8. That 8 would determine the dice of damage he dealt with a destruction sphere blast, as well as its save DCs

Spellpoints: While many sphere abilities can be used as much as you like, stronger abilities draw from your spellpoint pool which is a limited daily resource.
So for instance in the destruction sphere the regular ray blast ability deals 1d6 damage per 2 caster levels (minimum 1d6), however by spending a spellpoint this increases to 1d6 per caster level. Shooting it as just a ray costs no spell points but turning it into an AOE blast effect would cost an additional spell point.

Casting Traditions: A big draw of spheres of power is customizability. By default, spellcasting comes with no further caveats than concentration. You can wear any armor you like and don't need to be verbal when casting (this includes wizards).
However you can create a casting tradition that modifies the way your spells work, by taking on drawbacks that limit your abilities in some way in exchange for some level of benefit (the drawbacks outweigh the benefits so this is mostly for flavor).
For instance I could make the classic mage drawback of no armor, verbal casting, and preparing investable spell points beforehand.

Or lets say I wanted to make my wizard more of a heavy metal rocker pyromancer. I could take requiring a focus (In his case a guitar), and require he succeeds on performance checks in order to cast. In exchange I pick the boon that allows me to make intimidate checks to scare people whenever I succeed.
There are also sphere specific drawbacks that grant extra talents. For example I could take a drawback for destruction that grants me the fire damage type, but prevents me from dealing bludgeoning damage with my attacks.

Traditions are a great tool for customizing the gameworld and emulating different kinds of magic (Dark Suns Defilers or Preservers, Blood Mages, Chaos Magic, exetera). As a GM you of course get the final say.

Advanced Talents:
While most talents have no prerequisites outside of base sphere and no restriction, certain talents are locked away behind explicit GM permission and deal with abilities either too powerful or world altering.

For example the ability to make creation sphere items permanent is locked as an advanced talents. So if the GM doesn't want economies broken he could deny the use of said ability. Other examples of locked abilities include stuff like 'look into the future' divination effects or making tsunamis.

Rituals & Incantations:
As an optional system you may permit some use of classic vancian spells as rituals which function as slow casting spells (requiring minutes to cast) which can be learned and written into spellbooks. So for example if I want to allow long range teleportation (but I don't want it to be a spammable thing in combat) I could allow it in as a ritual, requiring 100 gp per casting, and requiring 2 hours to cast.

Incantations are even more esoteric versions of rituals (Which function like PF rituals from the occult book). Requiring weird pre-requisites or limiations but don't necacarily need you to be a mage to cast them. I could say you need to sacrifice a goat under a fool moon to cast animate object over an idol or something.

Overal benefits:

Its a system that rewards and permits character concepts and overall tones down the power mages have access towards while making magic more accessable for non-mages and makes magical multi-classing much more viable.
Its a VERY GM friendly system that allows you to easily fine tune the kind of magic you want in your game.

The system is free online with a wiki, and a 5e version is in development. Link to the discord with public playtests on the wiki.

What about spheres of might?

There is also a similar system for non-magic users thats compatible from the same company but I lack space to write it here. Also available on the same wiki.

I want to hear about what is the definitive Shadowrun game to check out. I'm more familiar with 4e and its mechanics, and from what I get Shadowrun has always had dumb plot elements and jank mechanics.

But what else is worth checking out?

Just for ourselves me and some friends decided to make an RPG together (Just primarily as a project to work on as friends). We threw around ideas and settled on some kind of fantastical wild west setting. Different factions competing for largely untamed territories with conflicts with each other and the natives.
The idea would be to focus on being lawmen and investigators for these groups. So you got your traditional adventuring, but also mystery and intrigue.
Trying to think up ways to make the setting genuine to the feel, so we are trying to play off things in reality (such as invasive species).

What sort of ideas and suggestions could you give?

Im enamored with ship combat. In space, on the ocean, in the ocean,  in crystal spheres suspended in flamable gas.
But I can never seem to find a good rulesystem thats both easy to play and allows the ship combat to be satisfactory, while also not becoming its core tennant.
What sort of systems have you read that have good ship combat?

Preferably for a D&D type thing, but I think good design principles can be carried over from any system.

Edit: Something with good and simple and easy to implement boarding action would be hot as well.

Well I decided to run a Godbound game in the near future, but I'm going to tinker with it to my liking. I know of all of Sine Nominees Stuff and generally love it, but what other great OSR content exists?
In my games I like to use skill-based systems a bit more (What I liked from SWN), and I like High Magic Magitech stuff.

So any ideas where to look for such?

Help Desk / How to move a thread
« on: May 12, 2020, 06:52:48 PM »
I posted a historical thread in a media section. How could I get it moved?

Media and Inspiration / The Islamic Golden Age: Why did it end?
« on: May 12, 2020, 06:50:32 PM »
Im on a historical kick recently, and studying up on history and the like from many places old and new. There is propaganda from back then and from now which makes understanding history pretty complicated.

So my current big question is that there was a theoretical golden age in the islamic world of science and study (especially astronomy), and that it ended somehow. So how did it end and why?
And if they where so much more scientifically developed then the west, then why did they not kick its ass more then they did? What did the golden age entail in practice? Bigger Buildings? Better metals? Better medicine?

I hear some explanations of how the Mongols screwed everything up, but the mongols screwed things up for allot of people, and Im not certain how much the mongols actually destroyed because I know they accepted knowledge from places they conquered to some extent.

Im no historian, but I just felt like asking these questions somewhere and was hoping to get some pointers where I could get some answers.

(Whoops I meant to post it in the other spot, how could that be done?)

I'm running a heavily modded Pathfinder game set in slightly pre-industrial time. The game is more about investigation then pure adventuring.

The players work for the government and their foes are part of a large secret organization. While Im good at improv, I like setting structure for myself and my players. Otherwise, it's like paying solitaire but every card is a blank I can pick.

Im looking for good faction mechanics for either PF rules neutral, or adaptable to PF. Any suggestions?

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