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In Soviet Czechia: Game Reviews You
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:58 am    Post subject: In Soviet Czechia: Game Reviews You Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So today we're going to be doing a little bit of a review of the Czech exclusive RPG Drači Doupě Plus, or as it is known in short hand: DrD+. In case this wasn't immediately obvious from the name alone, this is an old school Dungeons & Dragons clone. The things that make it different from any of a thousand fantasy heartbreakers you will never play is that this one was designed behind the Iron Curtain by Czechoslovakian gamers in secret, and then released to the masses shortly after the wall came down in 1990. It has retained something of a Czech fanbase, being the only RPG written for a Czech audience, and we are dealing with the 2nd edition (from 2004).

This review will necessarily be incomplete, because the book is written in pretty dense Czech and I am crawling through it on my tongue. Also because I only have the player's guide, which doesn't have the whole of the rules in it. There is also the PJ book (essentially the Dungeon Master, although an excessively literal translation is "Mister Cavern"), and the Beastiař (Monster Manual), and a separate book for each class that tells you what the class' actual abilities are (yes, really).

Copyright Violation? This is Eastern Europe!

The first thing you have to remember when reading this is that this was designed by people who had nothing but contraband copies of original D&D and maybe Die Schwarze Auge to work with. So they totally missed the boat on nearly all innovations of gaming through the 80s, let alone 90s. Really, we should be comparing this work not to its literal contemporaries like Shadowrun or Vampire, but to its conceptual contemporaries like Tunnels & Trolls or Rolemaster. But the second thing you notice is that in Czechia, noone has to hear you bitch about copyright laws, so they gleefully rip off anything they were able to get their hands on. Here's the race table:



Yes. Really. They have Hobits, because Tolkien's estate never bothered to sue them and force them to use some gaming code word like Halflings or Pucks. Also, Dark Elves (Temny Elf), Dwarves (Trpaslik), and Orcs (Skřet) have Infravision. Seriously. Because we are totally gaming in 1978 here. Also note that Trolls (Kroll) regenerate. I don't think they have access to copies of 3 Hearts and 3 Lions, so they are doing this simply because Gygax's Trolls regenerated and nothing more.

It isn't all bleakness, there is seriously a tiny essay about how the races are all rebalanced from Tolkien because the races in Lord of the Rings are totally unbalanced. However, you will note that even a casual glance at the table will indicate to you that the stat mods are pretty damn harsh and that the correspondence between race and class are probably pretty harsh. This impression is correct.

You could even call with 80% accuracy the nature of the six attributes that characters possess just by looking at that chart. Sil is Strength, Int is Int, and so on. The only one you'd be blindsided by is that they dropped Constitution and replaced it with Agility - that's Obr.

Outdated Ideas Run Rampant

We're pretty familiar with arguments as to whether some new gaming system or expansion piece is a good one or not, but we almost always come to them from the standpoint of people who live in the modern era and have built upon experiences of older experiences and the modern zeitgeist of acceptable behavior. This is in no way similar to the situation from which the DrD+ writers came to the table. So in addition to such simple things as characters being unable to leave one of the six starting character classes and wealth being measured in Copper, Silver, and Gold - you got really offensive things that the rest of the world abandoned a long time ago. For example, here are the stat modifiers for different sexes for each of the basic races:


What this means is that if you are a Wizard, the chances are very good that you are a Dwarf. And specifically a female Dwarf at that. Because that way you get a Willpower boost and no Intelligence penalty. If you are a Cleric, you are almost certainly a female Hobbit. And chances are very good that if you are a Thief that you are a female Elf. All Fighters, and I do mean all of them, are men.

The classes are Fighter, Thief, Ranger, Wizard, Theurg, and Cleric. Of those, they pretty much do exactly what it sounds like they do. The only part that is at all confusing is the Theurg, which is basically a Wizard with a different spell list. I don't know how different, because the spell list does not appear to be in this book.

You might have also noticed that there were asterisks on several races and sub races. Those are the races that you are not allowed to play without PJ permission because the default assumption is that they will be attacked when you go to town. Seriously.

Balance is a Decadent Western Ideal

One thing I can see is that the manner in which characters gain abilities is not the same. That is, while I am unable to tell you what abilities a Fighter actually gets without reading a different book, the rules do graciously tell you how you would go about getting them as you go up levels.

If you are a Fighter or a Wizard, you pick something called an "archetype" at character generation, and that gives you a pile of abilities to begin with. Thereafter, it locks you on an advancement railroad where you get more abilities as you go up in level. You can apparently plead with the PJ to have some of these incoming abilities replaced with other ones more appropriate to your character, but the PJ only is supposed to agree to this if you have been doing stuff relevant to some other archetype. The actual example is that if you have been living in the wilderness as part of your adventure, the PJ might let your knight character take fighting abilities off the Barbarian advancement instead of the Knight Advancement. Be prepared to suck a lot of DM penis or min/max your character background.

If you are a Thief or a Theurg, your powers come to you in selectable skill trees. Apparently, things with a lot of prereqs are very powerful compared to things that don't, so if you specialize a Thief or Theurg character you are probably better than one who doesn't. We've all seen advancement like this, so I don't need to go into it overmuch.

But the real descent into madness is the advancement scheme of the Ranger and Cleric. They don't have one. The player asks the PJ for stuff, and the PJ either gives it to them or not. They don't even gain powers when they level. Stuff just happens. If the PJ decides that your Cleric needs to get some divine intervention, they do. Otherwise, they don't. The book suggests that the PJ should set up some sort of puzzles or something with an interactive world that the player can then attempt to figure out what the fuck they are supposed to be doing in order to have power rain down on them, and if they don't they are specifically supposed to sit down, shut up, and like it.

Meanwhile, character generation allows you to select having good stats or having a good background. If you choose better stats, your stats are higher, if you choose a good background, you get more points to distribute between family connections, money, and skills. I don't know how good skills are because I can't find them in this book. Family connections don't seem to do anything except act as a limit to how many points you are allowed to put into Skills or starting cash. But yes, there is nothing stopping you from rolling up a nobleman with shitty stats and a pile of money and then get them killed and have your next character come in as some wundrkind orphan halfling girl who is a genetically superior Cleric.

Welcome to the Kafkaesque Nightmare

So just to make sure you haven't forgotten that we are living in a bizarre Kafkaesque wilderness of nonsensical numbers and contrary information, I present to you, this:


What the fuck? Is that gamma and beta functions? Yes. Yes it is. And you're probably wondering why the hell anyone would do that to a set of rules that people are supposed to follow. And I don't have a good explanation. What I can do is simplify that concept to something that makes a tiny bit of sense: The idea is that there are completely arbitrary game numbers and there are real world weights and measures. And there are tables that convert one to the other. And for some reason they decided to name the process of applying the identity of things on a table gamma and beta functions. So throughout the rules, you will be given Greek letters and function notation instead of being told to look something up on the table.

But let's get to how crazy those tables actually are for a moment. Here's one:



So what do we see there that makes it so crazy? Well, first of all the tabular information is not written up in blocks. They only list the midpoint of each table entry, so if something is traveling at 4,240 km/h you are expected to use subtraction to figure out that this number is closer to 4000 than it is to 4500, so you use that table entry. Apparently, it would have been too much hassle to write "3800-4249" on the table. Much easier to simply ask the players to do math every time they want to derive a number.

This sort of counter intuitiveness permeates every part of the game. It is extremely common for a set of directives to give a quite round about description of what you're supposed to do. For example, rather than buying up your attributes to a maximum of 3 and applying modifiers for Race and Sex, you apply modifiers to race and sex to a set of zeros and then create a new set of racial maximums by adding 3 to all of those numbers and then buy your stats up to no more than those numbers. Part of this is because Czech is just inherently bad at describing how math works, but a goodly portion is a willful decision to be excessively baroque and florid by the authors.

The rounding rules are actually pretty simple. Things round off, halves round to an increase in magnitude. This means that when you are averaging negative numbers, halves are bad and when you are averaging positive numbers, halves are good. But at least the concept is simple. Explaining this takes them about five paragraphs, during which they insist that the process in question is easy. While they have a great many examples, they do not have an example showing the difference between rounding a -1.5 and rounding a 1.5 (or anything similar). Which is odd, because that's the only point that is at all tricky about the rounding rules at all.

d20s have not been invented yet

The RNG of the game is handled with d6s. This being Czechia, they are k6 rather than d6, but the concept is identical (the K stands for "Kost" because you are literally "rolling the bones"). Normally you roll 2d6, a roll they call "2k6+" because they fuck with you if you roll a 2 or 12. On a 2, you subtract an exploding coin flip from your roll. One a 12, you add an exploding coin flip to your roll. On average, that means that a 2 is about equal to a 1 and a 12 is about equal to a 13, but it's a lot more work.

You'll note immediately of course that those stat modifiers are therefore titanic. As a Troll you get +3 to your Strength just for getting up in the morning, which when combined with the 3 points you are likely to put into Strength during point allocation, shifts an effecting target number of 7 to an effective target number of 1. Which is pretty much the entire RNG.

But you may have noticed that the speed table I linked to was talking about bonuses in the 30s. I... really don't know what the fuck that is about. But as near as I can tell, when they say "bonus" they don't always literally mean a number that is going to be added to a die roll. Sometimes it's just a game usable number. Your hit points are a "bonus" for example, as is your speed. You don't roll them, or at least, I hope you don't because they have a tendency to be more than 10 and the RNG is still 2d6. It's not even distinguishable to check the "bonuses" that have pluses in front of them, because sometimes they just do that to distinguish them from negative numbers. And sometimes they don't. It's really kind of a crap shoot. Actual bonuses to die rolls don't always get pluses in from of them either, so they might list an Agility number as "3" or "+3" even within the same paragraph. It makes it hard to figure out what is going on sometimes, even leaving aside the language barrier.




More later. But probably not right away, because it takes me a while to get through this stuff. I'm leaning heavily on Odango-chan here to translate words I don't understand. Which is a lot of these words.

-Frank


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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DragonChild
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
So throughout the rules, you will be given Greek letters and function notation instead of being told to look something up on the table.


I can't tell if this is genius, or utterly and irredeemably insane. Maybe both.
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Clutch9800
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think it's pretty cool.

I wonder how many other instances of gaming penetrating the Iron Curtain there were.

From a Gaming History angle it's fascinating.

Clutch
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Wait... Odango-chan? You've befriended Sailor Moon?

Also, this game sounds like quite a mess, yet it intrigues me. I almost want to run it just so I can be called Mister Cavern.
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Nachtigallerator
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 7:49 pm    Post subject: Re: In Soviet Czechia: Game Reviews You Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's fascinating how culture can be dissonant in different countries even today. I'm not sure if more examples of horrible, horrible early attempts at RPG-making are needed, but they are certainly entertaining ^^

Oh, and also:
FrankTrollman wrote:
Die Schwarze Auge

I may be missing a reference here, but the correct german article (and title of the game) is "Das". I'd also like to point out that the game's name literally translates to The Black Eye, which is what you get when you try to discuss it with the fanbase. Ow.

nitpicky reguards,
Nachtigallerator
(who could rant about contemporary editions of DSA being on a similar level of crazy)
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Maj
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Koumei wrote:
I almost want to run it just so I can be called Mister Cavern.


Agreed. I would totally DM more if there was an awesomer title.

Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dayum....I'd say about 10% of college students never, ever, figure out how function notation works. For them, f(x) means take f and multiply it by x, and there's nothing I can do to explain how that's not right.

Put a greek letter in there? No h'way.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Koumei wrote:
Wait... Odango-chan? You've befriended Sailor Moon?


According to his blog, that's his online code name for his girlfriend. Who is apparently Czech? Or at least more so than him if she's translating.
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Juton
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm curious about Czech gamers, if you've ever met any. Are they a similar archetype to the cheetos and mountain dew loving nerds of the west or are they something else?
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Clutch9800
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Juton wrote:
I'm curious about Czech gamers, if you've ever met any. Are they a similar archetype to the cheetos and mountain dew loving nerds of the west or are they something else?


From what I've observed, gaming and it's fans are a bit different in Europe.

Frank can speak to this from more personal experience, but from what I understand, in Europe a person is considered a bit odd if they don't have a hobby. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of this side of the pond.

I do know that from pictures of game events, even the smaller ones, there was a larger contingent of attractive women than you see at small events over here.

Anyway, Frank can speak directly to the situation in the Czech Republic.

Clutch


Last edited by Clutch9800 on Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Red Archon
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In Finland, roleplayers are only considered "strange," but not in an insulting way. The are no real stereotypes, except within the gaming community. There's also a fairly large female presence, in comparison to what I've understood about the US RP scene.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My Finnish flatmate Tuomas once decided that he had a "feeling" and needed to destroy a chair. So he picked it up and through it across the hall and then smashed it with his feet. Also, I've met some of his friends whose idea of a good time is to st phone books on fire. I don't know what you have to do to be considered strange in the land of Tarja and Anette, but I'm guessing it's pretty weird.

Anyway, I think I should throw out a few more key points. I haven't figured out how he injury system works. Like, at all. There is an injury related table that is... pretty weird. I'll be working on that some in the next few days. But I do want to talk about the bonus loose material in the back pocket of the book. It includes some colored tokens that seem to be for keeping track of injuries or something, some character sheets, a questionnaire to help actualize your character, and the index. Yes, the index was not included in the book, but they give you a bonus insert that is a rather sketchy index for the book.

Let's talk about those character sheets for a moment. Each one is two pages front and back. And there is a different character sheet for each class. The character sheets are nearly the same until you get to page 4, where they are completely different one from another. Seriously, here are the page 4s of two classes (Cleric and Theurg):



The Cleric's Hexagon is divided into Life, Death, Chaos, Order, Good, and Evil - with the obvious antonyms pointed at each other. The Theurg's character sheet has a fucking calendar on it. I don't know why.

I'm still not sure how combat works, seems complicated. There are a lot of numbers that are divided by other numbers. The game has a special rule where you can't do less than one point of damage, so if your damage is less than 1 after division, you convert it to a number of sixths and then roll a k6. If you roll equal to or under the number of sixths, you inflict 1 point of damage and otherwise you inflict zero.

Characters have an attack and defense number. Your melee attack and defense are both half your Agility, but Attack is rounded down and defense is rounded up. Your ranged attack value is half your Dex rounded down instead. That sounds like your modifier would be pretty small, but this seems to be in addition to your Combat number, which varies depending on what class you are. If you are a Fighter, it's just your Agility. If you are any other class, it is your Agility plus some other stat relevant to your interest divided by two, rounded up if the total is positive and down if it is negative.

Which means that the way class primary stats work, Fighters and Thieves have much higher combat values than you do. Because you're trying to get your class primary stats in the +3-6 range, and the other stats have a tendency to be somewhere between -2 and +2. Each class has two primry stats, which are different for each (no class has primary stats split between mental and physical). So as you might imagine, Thieves have a ranged attack that is ludicrously better than anyone else's (not counting spells here). The Ranger is Strength/Dex, and uses Agility and Dex for his Combat value. So while his Ranged value is good, his Combat value is no better than the spellcasters. The Fighter gets to use raw Agility for his Combat value, so he has good Combat value (probably 4 or 5), but his ranged value is garbage. Meanwhile the Thief is the other class with a good Combat Value (averaging her two primary stats), and uses one of her primary stats for Ranged attack as well. So... Thieves use Bows. I don't fucking know what Rangers do. They have leaves on the back of their character sheet.

-Frank
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I wonder if over-complicated rules is an symptome of non-english RPG's or of European RPG's?
Or is it just "Das Schwarze Auge" (The Dark Eye).
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Korwin wrote:
I wonder if over-complicated rules is an symptome of non-english RPG's or of European RPG's?
Or is it just "Das Schwarze Auge" (The Dark Eye).


Overcomplication is a hallmark of first wave reactions to Dungeons & Dragons. The first thing people do when the concept of role playing is introduced to them is to add more material. Every time.

And so it is that what people often do is jump right in and start adding complications to the war game aspect. Why don't we have rules for cutting of limbs? Or dropping your sword? Or throwing sand at peoples' eyes? Why not make axes different from warhammers? And so on. Getting things simple again is an iconic presentation of second wave RPG responses. The ones that were made after checking out how Runequest or Rolemaster had crazy bullshit happening all the time - because anything that happens on 1% of the die rolls happens all the fucking time when you've made a couple hundred rolls.

DrD+ is very much a first wave game. And that is why ranged weapons in this game have a minimum strength, a threat rating, a damage modifier, a "type" (B, S, or D - only throwing stars and throwing axes are "D"), a range, and a weight. And no, I do not know what the threat rating (Ůtočnost) of a ranged weapon does. Melee weapons don't have a range, but they do have a length and parry rating. Also, there are different weapon stats for attacks with a fist, a gauntlet, a knee, or a kick.

-Frank
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Clutch9800 wrote:
I think it's pretty cool.

I wonder how many other instances of gaming penetrating the Iron Curtain there were.

From a Gaming History angle it's fascinating.

Clutch


A blog post on the Polish fantasy heartbreaker RPG "Krysztaly Czasu" (Time Crystals), originally published 1993.

One of the comment responses has a bit of context about the pre-KC gaming environment in Poland:

Quote:
First of all, Polish rpg market before 1993 was virtually non-existent. The only rpgs available back then were copies of copies of copies of American handbooks brought to Poland by some lucky people who had uncles, aunts or whatever in the USA. Those who had such copies were treated like gods. People would copy those books by hand (sic!). The original version of KC was distributed in a similar manner: some would copy the game by hand, but there were also copies in .TAG files (they are still roaming ‘round the internet) on diskettes

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Juton wrote:
I'm curious about Czech gamers, if you've ever met any. Are they a similar archetype to the cheetos and mountain dew loving nerds of the west or are they something else?


Considering the flow of European board games that we've seen for the last 15 years, and how different they are from US board games, I suspect there's a different perception of gamers in general, especially "casual" gamers.
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Clutch9800
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
Korwin wrote:
I wonder if over-complicated rules is an symptome of non-english RPG's or of European RPG's?
Or is it just "Das Schwarze Auge" (The Dark Eye).


Overcomplication is a hallmark of first wave reactions to Dungeons & Dragons. The first thing people do when the concept of role playing is introduced to them is to add more material. Every time.

And so it is that what people often do is jump right in and start adding complications to the war game aspect. Why don't we have rules for cutting of limbs? Or dropping your sword? Or throwing sand at peoples' eyes? Why not make axes different from warhammers? And so on. Getting things simple again is an iconic presentation of second wave RPG responses. The ones that were made after checking out how Runequest or Rolemaster had crazy bullshit happening all the time - because anything that happens on 1% of the die rolls happens all the fucking time when you've made a couple hundred rolls.

DrD+ is very much a first wave game. And that is why ranged weapons in this game have a minimum strength, a threat rating, a damage modifier, a "type" (B, S, or D - only throwing stars and throwing axes are "D"), a range, and a weight. And no, I do not know what the threat rating (Ůtočnost) of a ranged weapon does. Melee weapons don't have a range, but they do have a length and parry rating. Also, there are different weapon stats for attacks with a fist, a gauntlet, a knee, or a kick.

-Frank


I remember those days. It was when gaming was leaving the hallowed halls of the Avalon Hill Institute for Obscenely Overcomplicated Wargames and moving into RPG's and "Beer and Pretzels" games. The Wargamers found the RPG's to be way too uncomplicated, thus we got products like "Arms Law", "Claw Law", and "Spell Law".

Good Times......

Clutch


Last edited by Clutch9800 on Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Draco_Argentum
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
I don't know what you have to do to be considered strange in the land of Tarja and Anette, but I'm guessing it's pretty weird.


And I was going to make a Nightwish joke off his name too.

Maybe theres something like the Dragonlance moons system going on for Theurge magic. That'd have the requisite level of unhelpful complication.

What are those bars with the curved lines on the cleric sheet all about? Thats honestly stranger than the hexagon since we've seen pretty much that in so many magic systems already.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Draco_Argentum wrote:

What are those bars with the curved lines on the cleric sheet all about? Thats honestly stranger than the hexagon since we've seen pretty much that in so many magic systems already.


OK, that's just illustrating the numbers. Each of those bars contains the name of a stat you are supposed to write down and the place for writing it down, and the line between the two is curved.

What gets weirder is the actual contents. You have an "Aspect Strength" that is half your Charisma plus half your character level, and you have a spiritual resistance that is half your Wis plus half your character level. You use those as modifiers for a regular 2k6+ roll when casting or countering magic respectively. This is why your Cleric is a Female Hobbit. Because as an orphaned Hobitka Kněz, you appear to be able to start play with a Charisma of +7. Starting at first level with a spellcasting bonus of +4 on a 2d6 RNG seems like a generally good plan.

But that's not all! On the left side of the character sheet you are given three things: the hexagon of primal forces, your list of primary abilities (not the same as the primary abilities for any other class), and your Spells. I'll get to the primary abilities in a moment, I just want to point out that as a Cleric your spells have room for two values: a number, and an "Osoba." An Osoba is like a "name" but it's a different term than they use for other labels and means specifically an individual person or bird. Or in this case: spirit or god (I think). So the game seems to be totally going through its threat in the basic rules to force people to talk to spirits and pokemon them in play and have that be the Cleric's primary source of ability gain. You seriously pick up a "Rating 6 Charmander" or whatever, and then thereafter you can cast Charmander Spells at Rating 6. I'd have to get the Cleric book or maybe even the bestiař to know what that means.

But let's talk about the Primary Abilities for a bit. You have four of them:
  • Empathy
  • Clairvoyance
  • Meditation
  • Exorcism

And each of those has a space for a rating and also up to nine little check boxes for quality level. It's actually just the word "level" but since it's a different word for level than character level, I think maybe it should be translated as "Grade".

They make the same distinction on the right side of the character sheet with your write-in secondary abilities. Those have a space to write in the ability, and a space to write in annotations. But they also have three check boxes of Grade and three check boxes for levels of "Depth." Grade and Depth are evidently different, in addition to not being the same thing as level.

The Ranger Character sheet has little leaves next to the write-in abilities (called "alignments" for Rangers) that are divided into 10 segments, five for "theoretical knowledge" and five for "practical application." Thereafter there is space to write in a name, "mechanics," and a space to write in a "useful number." You also have space for your Totem, and also for your amulets, herbs, and medicine bags. You also have a little block to write in up to six animal companions.

-Frank
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Crissa
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The more you talk about this game, the more interesting it is. I like how all the classes seem to be very unique. Of course, it seems poorly balanced and waaay too complex, but very interesting.

-Crissa
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CatharzGodfoot
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Seems more like a MUD than a pen & paper game.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So we labored through the appearance and leveling rules. Appearance is split into 3 categories: Beauty, Scariness, and Respectability. Each of these have base numbers which are three attributes added together and divided by two. They explain it much more convolutedly, in which it is the average of two stats plus half your Charisma. Also, when discussing the ins and outs of the system it seems they don't really get the fact that adding half your Charisma is exactly the same as the benefit you get from either of the stats that are being averaged.

The base numbers are:
    Beauty: (Dexterity + Agility + Charisma) / 2
    Scariness: (Strength + Wisdom + Charisma) / 2
    Respectability (Intelligence + Wisdom + Charisma) / 2


So it tells you that Wizards have the highest respectability because they have Intelligence and Wisdom as primary stats. But actually, any of the primary spellcasters have precisely the same incentive to increase respectability, because any two mental stats are as good as any other. Indeed, you can actually get a higher respectability bonus as a Halfling Girl Cleric than you can as the master race for Wizards: Dwarf Women Wizard.

So I'm not really sure what having a completely ludicrous appearance bonus does, since the exact effects appear to be in the PJ's guide. But apparently you can get a divine aura of show stopping awe from being pretty enough - and you specifically get bonuses to that sort of thing by bathing, putting on jewelry, and wearing tailored clothes. So I suspect that Female Elven Thieves (who are the most beautiful thing in the game) can invest in skanky outfits and have that be a viable combat strategy. Also, unless there's some kind of real ultimate power in one of the Fighter Railroads (Knight, Fencer, Gladiator, Brawler, Barbarian, or Mercenary), the Female Elven Thieves are far and away the most deadly combatants in the game.

Let's talk about leveling. You get about 10 XP or a little less each session. There's a series of check marks about cooperation, goals, roleplaying, etc. and you are rated 1 to 3 on them, and then there are some optional criteria where you can get a bit more - but it basically comes down to 10 XP round about. Meanwhile, figuring out how much XP you need is simple. You add your current level to 15 and use the combined total as the modified damage bonus and then look it up on the injury chart - treating the hit points indicated as the required XP to level (yes, really). This means you need 20 XP to hit level 2, and the number of XP you need to level rises by less than one extra session per level until you get to about 16th level (by which point it'll be taking you 7 sessions to level). It spikes quickly after that, requiring 180 XP (18 sessions or so) to go from 20th to 21st level. 21st level is apparently the end.

Every time you go up in level, you are allowed to add one point to a primary stat and one point to a secondary stat. However, you have to split the points up somewhat, putting no more than 2 points into one of your primary stats before you put a point into the other. And you have to alternate bonuses to your secondary stats. So after 12 levels, you will have gained:

+8 to one primary stat
+6 to one of your non-primary stats
+6 to another non-primary stats
+4 to your second primary stat

So yes. If you are a melee oriented character, you want Agility first and Strength second. This means that since both Fighters and Thieves have Agility as a primary stat, both can pump Agility by +8 in 12 levels (no one else can do this). However, in the same 12 levels, the Thief can get +6 Strength but the Fighter gets only +4. In either case, the divergence from the Hobitka Cleric (who never bothers raising Strength) is titanic, and you can expect that challenges that are practically assured for one character will be practically impossible for another.

Also: the game casually talks about getting +3 bonuses here and there for having nice equipment, and the RNG is still just 2d6. The sample action is accumulating 11 points of bonuses to attempt to use a grappling hook with a difficulty of 15. For those keeping track at home: that action would be ludicrously implausible for any normal character to attempt, but the character with a masterwork grapnel and thiefy goodness, it's all but assured.

-Frank
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Lago PARANOIA
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:


Also: the game casually talks about getting +3 bonuses here and there for having nice equipment, and the RNG is still just 2d6.


You have got to be shitting me.
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
Indeed, you can actually get a higher respectability bonus as a Halfling Girl Cleric than you can as the master race for Wizards: Dwarf Women Wizard.


Dwarfs just aren't respectable.

Quote:
So I suspect that Female Elven Thieves (who are the most beautiful thing in the game) can invest in skanky outfits and have that be a viable combat strategy.


Oh I hope so.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lago PARANOIA wrote:
FrankTrollman wrote:


Also: the game casually talks about getting +3 bonuses here and there for having nice equipment, and the RNG is still just 2d6.


You have got to be shitting me.


The sample action in the basic actions resolution section goes like this:

Female Elven Thief is throwing a grappling hook onto a wall (Difficulty 13). Also there is some nasty winds, increasing the difficulty by 2 (to 15).

She has:
Agility +5
A Thief Ability +3
A really sweet grappling hook +3

She rolls two dice and adds them together and gets a 4. She adds 11 to that, and gets a 15.

So yeah: if something is out of your specialization, there is no fucking way you are ever going to succeed. Because Difficulty inflation is titanic because they give out specialization bonuses like mad. There is seriously an off-the-cuff statement in the appearance section where it talks about a ranger coming in from the forest and cleaning up and shifting her beauty modifier by ten. You know, on 2d6.

Weapons have an attack and Defense rating which add to your attack and defense numbers (which I shall remind you, are on a 2d6 RNG still). These numbers go from zero to +5 (there is even a two handed swordthat has a +6 to-hit bonus). That won't come up for a while, because people won't be strong enough to actually use two handed swords until they have gained several levels. The minimum strength on those things is +10, even with the bonus for using them two handed, you ain't pulling that off at chargen.

On the plus side: the riding beasts table has an entry for Llamas and Yaks.

-Frank
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