This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
The message boards have been upgraded. Please log in to your existing account by clicking here. It will ask twice, so that it can properly update your password and login information. If it has trouble recognizing your password, click the 'Forgot your password?' link to reset it with a new password sent to your email address on file.

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - BoxCrayonTales

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 6
Other Games / Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story
« on: January 01, 2021, 07:59:48 pm »

Naturally, the game has come under fire by the twitterati for featuring female characters with... large tracts of land.

I do think society has a problem with simultaneously sexualizing and demonizing women with large breasts. But SJWs are hypocrites: they call for a diversity of body types to be represented but demonize any body types that don’t fit their misogynistic parameters.

Other Games / Wagadu Chronicles, an afrofantasy MMORPG (w/ 5e tie-in)
« on: October 01, 2020, 03:02:21 pm »

I'm glad people are working on actual afrofantasy rather than trying to churn out more bland eurofantasy with a thin veneer of progressivism.


"The Lost Delinquents of Rollings High"
A visual novel, with an 80s anime inspired look.
You play as Marty Greenwood, a high school senior just about to graduate from Rollings High School.
Marty lives in the peaceful mountain town of "Franks Hollow" and this is his final week of senior year.
Prom and exams are coming up, along with a host of school events, the final week promises to be brimming with High school mischief and memories!
But there's something terribly wrong in Franks Hollow....will Marty and his friends be able to discover what it is before prom and graduation?
Inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft, cheesy RL Stine books, choose your own adventure novels and dating sims of the 90s, Rollings High is a fun game aimed at the thinking player.
Your choices matter, great care has been taken to ensure your choices effect gameplay events and your relationships with your school friends.
Be immersed in the wacky town of Franks Hollow, extra care has been made to bring to life the township of Franks Hollow with exploration of the town, school and shops, along with TV stations, restaurants and even a VHS rental store.
Discover the mystery of the town, you can play the game as an enjoyable dating sim with a cast of lovable high schoolers, or you can get serious and try and discover what's really going on in Franks Hollow....

Found this interesting article on mythology/folklore that you guys might find useful:

I found the implication that the immortal eastern dragons shed their brains every so often to be surreal, but if the immortal hydra can regrow its heads doubled then it's not all that unusual I guess.

Have you used dragon parts in recipes, remedies, forging, etc? How did that work out?

I love Puppetland because of its surreal and disturbing setting. Also, the review by Fatal & Friends is neat because it highlights how Puppetland has suffered internal contradictions due to feature creep in second and third edition.

What do you think of Puppetland? What do you think of the feature creep and internal contradictions?

So there's an OSR for lots of things now. Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Exalted... why not World of Darkness?

EDIT: For example, Opening the Dark is an OGL retroclone of the Storyteller rules.

I have talked about his topic in the past. My current desire to rekindle it was sparked after I skimmed the 5e release of Scarred Lands Creature Collection and noticed that a number of monsters have seemingly arbitrary types. For example, the flay beast is [beast] and the blood reaper is [aberration] even though both are giant aggressive praying mantises created by the same titan.

The problem with the 5e taxonomy mechanic is that it is hierarchical when it does not need to be. The definitions of several types are vague, inconsistently applied, and often arbitrary. In some cases one may be unable to determine the most appropriate type for a monster: it could fit into multiple types, is more appropriate with multiple types, or the monster's concept may not fit into any of the types given in the rulebook. This is a problem because the taxonomy mechanic is relevant for any effects that specify a target's type, such as healing, enchantment, and summoning spells, or the ranger's favored enemy.

By comparison, 13th Age, FantasyCraft, and Pathfinder 2, among others, dispensed with hierarchical taxonomy mechanics. Under their mechanics, a monster may have as many types as appropriate to its concept.

For example, monsters like the chimera and hydra are typed as [monstrosity] when real world academic sources clearly refer to them as dragons.

D&D takes most of its monsters from Indo-European mythology but its taxonomy mechanic is hardly appropriate for them. Mazes & Minotaurs (Greek myth setting) limits its taxonomy to animates, beasts, folks, monsters, and spirits. Trudvang (Scandinavian myth setting) limits its taxonomy to beasts, beings of the mist, creatures of nature, dragons/wurms, jotuns/tursirs, and trolls.

I question the need for a taxonomy mechanic at all. How necessary is it, really? What is the purpose of having it? Are there more intuitive ways to implement it? Why does it exist in-universe as part of the laws of physics/magic/study?

If anybody could help me out with this, I would really appreciate it.

There were a lot of urban fantasy and conspiracy RPGs in the 90s. Nightlife, World of Darkness, Immortal: Invisible War, Nephilim, etc.

Nephilim was adapted from a French roleplaying and was cancelled after a few years. I find this a shame, because I found its premise fairly interesting compared to its contemporaries. (I'm also just plain sick of World of Darkness' stagnant monopoly over the urban fantasy tabletop scene.)

Many of the 90s games had elaborate metaplots and secret histories... none of which the PCs could be part of and personally invested in. In Nephilim, the past lives mechanic meant that you could have been personally involved in historical events during a past life. Maybe you were a conquistador, a founding father, a French revolutionary, an apostle, etc. This lets the PCs have more hands-on experience with the invisible history compared to a game like World of Darkness.

And unlike, again, World of Darkness, the politics didn't reek of high school cliques. The PCs could join "major arcana" (based on the Tarot), which were schools of thought rather than off-brand ethnicities or high school cliques.

The premise wasn't about being all goth and emo, but about going on quests for enlightenment. There were clear rules in the rulebook for achieving enlightenment once you reached sufficient statistics.

The main antagonists, the secret societies, were composed of ordinary humans and not paranormal immortal monsters. Human beings could have a lot of temporal power in this setting rather than being food for the monsters.

It also has plenty of wacky 90s ideas like the Knight Templar as villains, the dinosaurs having an intelligent civilization that raised a second Moon, elemental spirits building Atlantis and directing human evolution, science being a lie and the world actually operating on a series of magical fields reflected off the planets, etc. I particularly liked the way the setting actually bothered to invent an in-universe theory behind magic with its magical fields, since typical urban fantasy games just crudely tack magic onto modern Earth without really thinking through the ramifications on basic science.

I especially liked how the setting explained that history was heavily influenced by the conflicts between the secret societies, because typical urban fantasy settings ignore the effects of magic on world history. Realistically, magic would have resulted in history going down a completely different path. Nephilim cleverly cheats by claiming that history went down the path it did because of magical interference, rather than despite it. (Sure, World of Darkness does the same thing, but this time human beings have agency rather than being pawns of monsters.) Nephilim also didn't shy away from integrating World War II like White Wolf did, claiming that the Nazi's secret societies sacrificed people (and nephilim) to use their blood for magic.

There were only a few flaws, albeit major ones:
  • The PCs were body stealing parasites, which for some reason drove players away even if they otherwise had no difficulty playing vampire supremacists in another game. Chaosium apparently had a problem with this and several writers wanted to rewrite the nephilim as humans awakened to their past lives and magical nature, but didn't do that. I personally think that, yeah, the nephilim should be rewritten as reincarnating human souls and not body thieves.
  • The rules and backstory were extremely intimidating for new players, raising the barrier to entry. The past lives in particular added a lot of complication to character creation, and there wasn't any rules for recalling past lives during play.
  • Chaosium released dramatic revisions of several core mechanics in supplements, such as the magic system. In the rulebook the magic system was generic D&D-esque, but the Liber Ka revision changed it to be subtle and influenced by real world occult beliefs.
  • Chaosium seemingly didn't do enough to explain "what do the PCs actually do?" but that's probably less important compared to the preceding issues.
  • Like some other RPGs based on originally non-English properties (e.g. In Nomine), Chaosium adapted and altered the material rather than translating it faithfully. I don't have a problem with this, as the original French version is apparently really strange according to my research. The rulebooks' geography sections were France-centric, so publishing for an Anglo-American audience would require switching to an American-centric geography anyway. The in-game jargon that it used was even more obtuse and unbelievable than a White Wolf game, if you can believe that. I'm so glad Chaosium went with jargon like "past life" and "elemental creature" rather than the French version's "effet-Jesus" and "effet-dragon."
I've been following nephilim a little bit for the past decade, archived some homebrews, and researched the original French version. Just last year the French version received a fifth edition through kickstarter, so it apparently still has a fandom in the Francosphere. That inspired me to start doing some homebrew of my own to revise the rules and setting further for general BRP. The Liber Ka magic system was revised and reprinted as Enlightened Magic in 2014 for general BRP.

Anybody else remember Nephilim or have thoughts about it?

Other Games / Anybody know Starcraft?
« on: December 27, 2019, 06:29:54 am »
I played this franchise off and on over the last two decades. My thoughts may be summed as follows: great gameplay, great artwork, abysmal storytelling.

Any other fans here?

Design, Development, and Gameplay / Hacking the Storyteller System
« on: November 06, 2019, 01:44:46 pm »
As an experiment, something I wanted to do was devise a retroclone of the Storytelling System that addresses problems I perceive in the rules and settings of White Wolf's game materials. I received enough positive feedback on past snippets that I decided to make a thread here to further discuss my ideas.

This is based on Opening the Dark SRD (a retroclone of ST) [EDIT: Mirrored here if scribd is giving you trouble] with some influence from the unofficial WoD Point Buy Rules (which helpfully breaks down some recurring designs).

I don't have encyclopedic knowledge of every iteration of the ST rules, so if I make any mistakes then I appreciate being corrected or information on obscure rules that might be relevant.

I'll start with character traits. Most ST games have generally used some variation of attributes, skills, advantages/disadvantages, superpowers, and experience points. Your typical game design 101 stuff.

I've seen essentially three methods of dealing with attributes: ST-er, ST-ing, and Everlasting.
  • ST-er pioneered the format of nine attributes divided into Mental, Physical, and Social. The format is basically this: Mental: Intelligence, Wits, Perception; Physical: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina; Social: Charisma, Manipulation, Appearance.
  • ST-ing adds a second axis of Power/Finesse/Resistance. This replaces Perception and Appearance with Resolve and Composure.
  • Everlasting divides attributes into Mind, Body, and Soul. Mind and Body are identical to ST-er Mental and Physical. Soul consists of Presence, Inspiration, and Spirit. The sum of Soul attributes is used to determine the character's magic point pool.

Attributes generally range from 1-5 for normal human beings. Characters normally can't have scores of 0, as that indicates automatic failure in most iterations of the rules. The ST rules almost never went into detail on what happens to characters with scores of 0, scores that negligible but not 0 (e.g. the attributes are human ranges, so Intelligence ratings fall apart when applied to animals), or lacked a score entirely; OtD helpfully provides some rules on this.

The arrangement of skills is arbitrary so I don't really have much to say here. ST-er generally organizes skills by whether they are informal (talents), formal (skills), and technical (knowledge). ST-ing simply organizes them by mental, physical, and social like the attributes. The Trinity Universe games includes default pairs of attributes and skills to save time. Similar to Attributes, Skills are rated from 0-5 for normal humans; 0 indicates no training and 5 indicates you're a PhD, Olympic athlete, or whatever.

Some iterations introduced the concept of "specialties" for Attributes and/or Skills to simulate what other RPGs called sub-skills and similar.

Other Traits
This category includes most traits that aren't attributes or skills, as well as any traits derived from attributes. Examples include willpower, hit points, speed, size, etc. The specifics vary between different iterations.

Hit points are divided into several degrees of damage severity, with most ST games having at least two such degrees. Some iterations have three. Traditionally more severe damage displaces less severe damage, although OtD tracks them separately. Hit points may be fixed for all characters, or be derived from Stamina.

Soak is basically like armor and is derived from Stamina Attribute. If hit points are derived from Stamina, then Soak generally isn't used.

Willpower is used to boost the results of rolls, like similar mechanics in other games. How it is calculated and used varies immensely between different iterations. For example, V5 uses it as mental hit points.

Speed and Size generally aren't statistics in most iterations save CoD. In CoD, Speed is defined as walking rate in feet/second and is derived from the sum of Strength, Dexterity, and a "species factor" (an old periodical's optional rule adds Athletics to that equation). Size is added to Stamina to determine hit points, with the standard adult human being Size 5.

This category includes all the other miscellaneous ways that a character could be quantified. Examples include social connections, wealth, other personal quirks, etc. Advantages may be purchased with experience points or acquired/lost through roleplay.

At this point, the ranking system starts behaving differently since Advantages are not necessarily rated linearly from 0-5 like Attributes and Skills. It is common for Advantages to have "empty" ranks that serve only to increase experience costs.

Disadvantages may or may not be rated. Rated disadvantages are typically used to reduce the costs of advantages, and optionally may be bought off by paying experience points. Unrated disadvantages provide free experience points whenever they impede the character.

The CoD rules introduced rules for temporary advantages/disadvantages known as conditions/tilts. These represent the effects of, for example, poor weather, altered consciousness, broken legs, sudden realizations, etc. These cannot be purchased or removed with experience points, only roleplaying.

Emotional/Personality Traits
This category includes all the traits, rated or unrated, that were introduced to measure a character's personality, moral values, willpower refresh methods, sanity, blah blah blah. Examples include nature/demeanor, virtue/vice, humanity, aspirations, intimacies, etc. These traits have been inconsistently maligned by the fandom for years, and if you're familiar with ST games then I don't need to explain why.

The rated emotional traits were typically used to resist negative mental influences. If Resistance Attributes are being used, then those emotional traits aren't used.

I don't consider these traits remotely necessary. I do think a dark/light side mechanic would be a great way to get players to roleplay, but that's it.

Power Paths
The ST games devised several different ways to represent superpowers, such as Exalted's charms, Aberrant's enhancements, Scion's purviews, etc.

Perhaps the most common are the "power paths." These work a bit like supernatural equivalents of skills in that they are rated from 1-5, but unlike skills you cannot use them for general tasks related to the name of the path. Instead, each rank in a power path gives you one exception-based power like "give a one-word command" or "read auras."

A key problem with the power path mechanic is that it generally forces you to purchase exception-based powers linearly even if they're just a grab bag of tricks. The OtD rules point this out and state that characters may buy powers out of order if it fits their concept. Some games (like Werewolf) had rated powers but didn't place them into linear power paths.

Traditionally there is only one power per rank, but there could be any number of powers for each rank and those choices are arbitrary. The smarter implementations (like WoD Point Buy) let you purchase any number of powers if you have the prerequisite rank.

A key problem with the World of Darkness games is that every splat had to reinvent the wheel when it came to powers. I'm not remotely interested in that: like Nightlife, Everlasting, WitchCraft, or Godbound, I'm going to use universal guidelines for superpowers.

Arts and Praxis
This category is for Ars Magica-style syntactic magic. This grants you far more leeway in creating effects than power paths, with the drawback that it is much more difficult to use. Various ST games have introduced additional mechanics to make inconsiderate magic use excessively dangerous.

A Praxis may be defined however the GM wants, from narrow to broad. Like Ars Magica, a GM could decide to require two Praxis used for every effect: one to define what is being done (e.g. creation, destruction, perception, transformation) and another to define the target (e.g. birds, water, minds, death).

Syntactic magic could potentially be available to any character regardless of their build. If you're inventing a dedicated wizard splat, then it helps to either make syntactic magic unique to them or make them better at it then everyone else. I'll address this in more detail when I start brainstorming splats.

This category includes the innumerable magic point traits used over the years, often named "essence". It ranges from a simple measurement of how many power points you can hold all the way to several statistics independently measuring the potency of your powers, your resistance to others' powers, how many types of power point pools you can have, etc. The White Wolf school of design likes to be obtuse.

Experience Points
The ST rules let players accumulate experience points to spend on increasing the ranks of PCs' traits. Different iterations have used wildly different costs. Traditionally scaling costs are used, which leads to problems because character creation assigns ranks linearly. CoD introduced the concept of linear experience costs, although it introduced new problems.

I prefer linear experience costs, if only to reduce the amount of math involved.

Traits above 5
Attributes, Skills, and Advantages are traditionally capped at 5 ranks. Different variations of the ST rules have included different methods for adjudicating scores of 6 and beyond.

Commonly characters may be allowed to increase their traits to an ultimate max of 10, and/or purchase Power Paths or Epic/Mega-Attributes that boost the traits further. However, this leads to the common problem of unwieldy dice pools.

Task Resolution

Task resolution for all iterations of ST rules have involved some variation of rolling a number of dice equal to Attribute + Skill and counting all the dice that meet or exceed a value set by the GM. In my opinion, the cleanest implementation were the CoD1e rules. However, I do acknowledge minor critique of that method that is accounted for by the OtD rules. I will discuss that in more detail in future posts.

So the ST rules are serviceable on their own, but IMO White Wolf's writers have generally been poor at game design in general. In following posts I will outline my ideas for reform. In the mean time, I welcome any feedback, critique, advice, suggestions, etc.

I'm not a fan of World of Darkness or Chronicles of Darkness, but they hold a monopoly over the urban fantasy market. There are some other urban fantasy games, but nothing approaching the level of setting detail as the White Wolf games.

Anyone interested in brainstorming different urban fantasy settings?

LitRPG and GameLit, short for Literary Roleplaying Game and Game Literature, are two sides of a very young genre of literature that takes cues from the conventions of tabletop and computer roleplaying games, such as dungeon crawling and character classes. In LitRPG, statistics and and character progression are explicitly part of the narrative; the explanations for this vary: it may be taken for granted, the setting may be a literal game, or comedy comes from contrasting the game rules with reality. In GameLit, that is not the case and any concept of level progression may be implicit or vague at most if not absent altogether.

Although most of it descends from D&D, the largest output of LitRPG/GameLit fiction comes from China and Japan due to a larger population of writers with RPG experience.

It is possible for a given work to straddle the boundary. The Japanese novel series Overlord depicts literal video game characters being inexplicably transported into a GameLit setting.

One of the more annoying parts of elf-games in my opinion is that they tend to be fairly limited in their class options. After reading the Spheres of X books I can't imagine playing vanilla elf-games.

There are so many topics I could discuss: the Christmas tree effect, linear warriors quadratic wizards, weaboo fighting magic, yadda yadda. But I'll limit myself.

There are about four aspects of class design that I think could be used to inform customization options for games in the future: roles, spheres, traditions and power sources. I've synthesized these concepts from a variety of sources like D&D, PF, and the Spheres of X books (mostly the latter).

A role is the basic role that a character serves in a party. In early editions this was something like fighting-man, thief, magic-user and priest. In 4e it was called striker, defender, leader and controller. In Spheres of X these are called spherecasters and practioners classes.

A sphere is the capabilities that a character specializes in. In other words this is your spell list/school, martial maneuver list, class feature list, talent trees, etc. For example: healing, conjuring, fencing, beastmastery, etc. (The Spheres of X mechanics divide spheres into magic and martial. In contrast to traditional magic-user classes, spherecasters have to specialize in order to develop competence. Martial spheres include physics-defying effects, but these are segregated with a "legendary" tag in case the DM wants to arbitrarily gimp them compared to magic-users.)

A tradition is a layer of customization that gives the character additional flavor. For example: traditional classes/kits/archetypes/etc like wizard, barbarian, cavalier, etc would be examples of traditions. Traditions may be placed under the umbrella of power sources (see below).

A power source (or maybe "essence") is more fluff than crunch, but essentially explains where a character's capabilities come from. For example: martial arts, arcane magic, divine magic, psionics, primal spirits, phantasmal/shadow magic, etc. While the other aspects are more or less mandatory, this one is optional and arbitrarily defined.

I welcome any questions, criticism or advice.

I've seen some notable dislike of these new races in newer editions of D&D, often describing them as a "freak show" or similar.

Is this because such races aren't "demi-humans"? (I think that's the proper terminology, but the usage has changed over the years in different media so I can't be sure. Some D&D-based Japanese fiction uses the terminology differently, such as using "demi-human" as a synonym for "beastman" rather than Tolkien-style near-human races.)

What is the relevance of this from a socio-political perspective in the fantasy world itself?

Could it be solved by depicting the newer races with less obvious inhuman features?

At some point the official cosmology of D&D outright copied the beast lords and elemental lords from Moorcock. Although unrelated, D&D also devised a bunch of beastfolk races over the years.

To my knowledge, the two have never been linked in official materials or even 3pp.

I always thought linking the two could answer a lot if cosmological questions as well as provide some meta-commentary on taxonomy.

In real life, cats, dogs and hyenas are equally distinct. In fantasyland, is there a beast lord of hyenas or do the feline and canine lords compete for ownership? Is there an entire peerage system for the different taxonomic subgroups, like an Underlord of Foxes or a Baron of Maned Wolves? Where do fictional creatures like gryphons, manticores, hellhounds, sabertooth mouse lions and banthers get patronized? What even qualifies as a "beast" for this purpose?

There's been loads of different ways to represent beastfolk presented in D&D and 3pp. Typically beastfolk are just ad hoc, like catfolk and dogfolk and so forth. In some books they're presented in some more universal manner, like catfolk having a caste system for different pantherine genuses (and similar schemes for other types, like cervinefolk covering deer, elk and moose), or bloodlines based on mammal or reptile rather than genus (to cut down on the number of distinct races), or (my personal favorite) humans with animal heads.

I don't remember seeing the idea in any book, but something I came up with was that beastfolk were actually converts to the beast lord religion and gained animal features by adopting a particular beast lord as their totem. The rank within the faith would determine how bestial an adherent appears, ranging through (for example) anime catgirl to 2011 thundercat to Elder Scrolls khajiit. Of course, religious initiation could be replaced with any other measurement system, like tattoos, age, birth sign, etc.

What do you think? Have you done much world building with beastfolk in your campaigns?

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 6