Here we fucking go
Original SA post
Here we fucking go
Adeptus Evangelion is a bizarre game. It's an attempt to use 1st edition Dark Heresy, of all things, to write a giant robot game about tormented teenagers forced into the cockpit of weird biomechanical robots to fight angels while a ridiculous conspiracy goes on in the background. It's based on Evangelion, but really, it's based on what a lot of fans wanted from Evangelion rather than what was really there. This is the kind of game where, when writing about a series that was about a depressed kid in a shitty situation working through his depression, the authors decided what really mattered was writing pages and pages of gun and weapon rules so they could simulate every weapon anyone ever sold with an EVA action figure. This is a book where the author based it on Dark Heresy because there's a shitty fanfiction where fucking Warhammer 40k 'makes Shinji man up!!!!' because God forbid there be a protagonist who isn't excited about all the crazy violence and madness around them. That's the reason they welded this to this system.
A little history about me and this game: I've run two campaigns I still look back on fondly, but I also know the actual rules system presented here had almost nothing to do with why those campaigns were good. Any game can be fun; the measure of a game's actual quality as a rules system and set of fluff is how much the material within the game's books actually contributed, and with AdEva, I can comfortably say only a single rule really contributed anything to those campaigns. And they removed that rule. We'll get to that when we get to Ego Barrier, this game's replacement for WH40KRP Corruption. See, what I'm reviewing here is the edition that's publicly available, AdEva 2.5. I ran AdEva original. The systems are close enough, and both based on a base system I know very well, and so I still feel this meets my requirements for review. I picked this game up because I was really into Dark Heresy back in college and the premise of a Dark Heresy giant robot game sounded so goddamn weird that you know, why not? Free fan game anyway.
Ad Eva is a bad game. A very bad game. We're going to go into why it's bad together, but it's amazing because it's terrible on pretty much every level. And that's the thing: This isn't some minor thrown together hack, this is the 3rd iteration of a system that a bunch of people have been working on and playing with for years. The book also really shows that it's an amateur offering, because it's both terribly organized and very, very over-long, and requires an additional GM's guide to actually run the game. They don't reprint any of the rules from DH, so you'll need the DH1e core book at your table, plus the player's guide, plus the GM's guide, and somehow without even retelling any of the DH rules they've got well over three hundred pages of material that really needed an editor with a weed whacker. All the new Talents have their actual game effect mixed in with their fluff, and man had I forgotten how much harder that makes them to read. The game tries to have a goddamn X-COM tech/gear porn metagame, with research rules, gun development, a council of funding nations, etc, in goddamn Eva. The show where the technical specs of the robots do not fucking matter. Lots of concepts are introduced over a hundred pages before they're explained.
You know how it gets when the same group of playtesters/designers work on something for a long time and forget that a new reader doesn't know what the hell a Spread Pattern or the Breach stat is? And that maybe you should put some of this stuff before the players are making decisions about their characters' abilities with it? What does my Eva's SOUL PATTERN mean? What is a Feedback Threshold? What is Synchronization Disruption? It's going to be a really long time before you find out, but they're going to come up early! In the interest of preserving the terrible structuring and amateur layout of the book, I'll be mostly reporting this stuff in order, with maybe a few reminders and refreshers as I go.
Also, as you might expect from a game about tormented teenagers piloting giant robots written by anime fans, there's a persistent layer of slime on a lot of the advice/implications of how the book wants you to handle interpersonal relationships. We'll be fucking getting to that.
But you know, let's start at the beginning. Instead of a Homeworld, you pick a background for your pilot or Ops Director. We'll get to the goddamn Ops Director. For some reason the Ops Director isn't actually described until near the back of the book, despite being a Career and PC option. You can be a Neospartan (Asuka), someone trained from a very young age towards the goal of being an Eva pilot when they're needed. You can be a Prodigy (Shinji) who was grabbed off the streets and thrown in the cockpit as soon as they realized you could make an Eva move. You can be a Manufactured (Rei) who was cultivated and grown towards driving an Eva. You can also be an Impact Survivor (Misato), who hopefully isn't driving an Eva because in my experience groups with an Adult Pilot tend to go weird fucking places but who makes a good Ops Director. See, awhile ago, Antarctica fucking exploded and billions of people died. The world is under UN control. Your PCs grew up in this post-Impact world and don't necessarily know how awful the direct experience of Second Impact was. Unless you're an Impact Survivor and lived through it.
These background pick a bunch of abilities, 2 positive and 2 negative, from lists permitted to them. For instance, Neo Spartans are often better prepared for what's coming and can take some bonuses to physical combat, but in return, they're emotionally fragile or have stunted initiative or whatever. Prodigies can be luckier, better rounded, or more emotionally stable at the cost of being untrained combatants or flipping the fuck out when they realize a missed shot hit a residential district (understandable). Manufactured can be tough or genetically augmented or have a pile of backup clones that make burning Fate easier, but they're weird and inhuman. Impact Survivors are capable and experienced, and often resilient against further trauma. However, they've usually seen some serious shit and have some nasty scars from living through the apocalypse. That kind of thing. Also want to note one of the potential Manufactured traits is 'anyone using social skills against you gets +20 because you're actually 3'. In context with some other shit, that's going to be really creepy!
AdEva also introduces two other things to normal DH character creation: One, you don't roll down the line, you roll your stat rolls and then pick which stat each roll goes to. Two, you have a new stat: Synch Ratio. This is how well you naturally synch up with your Eva, and is one of your most important stats. In the original version I played, Impact Survivors got an absolutely dogshit SR value to discourage you playing an adult pilot. That's been changed to the point that they're viable pilots (they get a -5 instead of the original -20) probably because there's always been a subset of the game's community that fucking loves adult pilots despite it being a bad idea for a lot of reasons. The original idea with the Impact Survivor was 'this character has high stats in general but can't be a pilot'. That's changed. In general, Background barely affects stats: You either get two +3s, a +5, and a -5 or in the case of the Prodigy, +5 to Synch Ratio with no drawbacks. Neospartans get +5 Tough, +3 WS and BS, -5 Fel. Manufactured get +5 Int, +3 Synch and WP, -5 Per. Impact Survivors get +5 Fel, +3 Tough and Int, -5 Synch. People all have at least 2 Fate Points, with usually a 20-30% chance to have 3.
But you know, now let's get to the gem of a concept that told me I needed to write this shit up. There's always been a merits and flaws system bolted onto AdEva, right? In the original edition, you used starting EXP to buy assets and got extra starting EXP for taking personality/physical flaws. It was about as bad as any other Merits and Flaws system. But there's a specific change to how they contextualize it here in this 2.5 release that is just fucking precious. They separated it out from the EXP system, right? Instead, you buy a special currency for your Advantages by taking negative traits about your character. I want you to guess what they called this currency.
That's right, it's DEPTH
. Think about what that means about storytelling and writing in this context. The implication being that a character acquired their depth as a character solely through their negative character traits. You have to acquire DEPTH through being unhealthy or insane or whatever so that you can be good at things, because character traits always exist in balance in a compelling character, too. That's just writing. That's how you write. I don't make these rules, they're just universal to good storytelling and character writing.
Like, the contextualization as DEPTH tells you so much about the writing instincts of the authors. The system itself is the most Merits and Flaws ass system that ever Merited or Flawed, down to the bog standard 'Hey GMs, punish your players if they don't play these up all the time, because many of them are purely roleplaying Drawbacks' and 'Hey if you want to be deep and cool and monopolize game time take even more Drawbacks than you get benefits for, it will make you a super good character!' implication. It's the exact same shitty Merits and Flaws stuff we've seen a thousand times, and a nice reminder of why these kinds of subsystems generally aren't considered good game design.
And of course, our intro to the section is some shitty in-character fiction about how everyone in NERV (the weird giant robot agency) is so sociopathic and violent and crazy and all the pilots have grim PTSD and blah blah.
It's a common refrain in nerd games that want desperately to be taken seriously as deep writing that everyone is miserable, everything is awful, and look at how grim and mature and dark we are. This game is just wall to goddamn wall of that stuff. The original Eva was a show partly about depression and isolation, so flawed people working through their issues and bouncing off one another in personal conflict is fine for a game based on Evangelion. The problem is it's just the most juvenile grimdark shit. It mistakes volume for, well, depth.
Next Time: They fucking called one of them 'Unshippable'.
Earn thy DEPTH
Original SA post
Earn thy DEPTH
So I'm going to be going into a lot of detail on these because the Assets and Drawbacks are one of the big parts of the game. The game practically fetishizes your character having tons of issues. Again, the characters having issues is not a problem; its the presentation and mechanism of it all, with the idea that the issues themselves are what give the characters DEPTH (Seriously, not gonna stop harping on that because it says so much) rather than the way those issues shape a coherent and interesting character.
So, you can take up to 25 points of Drawbacks to get up to 25 points of Assets. I'm not normally going to go into this much detail in this book for obvious reasons (It's boring to read huge lists of abilities for a game that, let's be real, almost none of you are going to play and that's free on the internet) but I feel like this aspect of the game merits it since it's so central to the writers' vision of Tormented Anime Pilot times. Also, despite all the stuff on enforcing Drawbacks as roleplaying earlier, every Drawback has mechanical disadvantages attached so, uh, I guess that already enforces it. Also note, most of these descriptions are fucking long in the book. They give a lot of fluff mixed in with the crunch and really needed an editor.
Big Ego is worth 10 Depth. You think you're the best. If someone else seems to be hot shit, roll WP at +10. If you fail, you have to take a -20 on some action soon as you try to add extra flair and show off better than that dumb Ikari kid. If you succeed, you can choose not to do something stupid at the cost of -10 to Fel, WP, and Int for an hour because you're so mad.
Chronic Pain is worth 10 Depth. Whenever you'd take Fatigue for the first time, you take 2. Given you can take up to TB+1 Fatigue before a PC passes out, this can be bad. Given passing out in the cockpit is a way to make your Eva go berserk (we'll get to that), a Berserker PC might actually benefit from this drawback. Can't take this with 'High Endurance'.
Clumsy is worth 5 Depth and gives -10 to all Agi tests except Dodge, the one that matters most
Compulsive Behavior is worth 5 Depth and gives you a weird quirk you have to do. You take -10 to all actions until you do your OCD quirk once a session. How destructive this is is entirely a case of GM May I.
Coward is worth 10 Depth. You take a -20 to Fear tests. If you remember the DH Fear system, this is fucking crippling if you ever run into anything that causes Fear, like maybe those eldritch abominations you fight with a giant robot made of meat as one of the central gameplay conceits. Obligatory you mustn't run away. Can't take this with 'Fearless'.
Damaged Goods is worth 5 Depth and just gives you 10 Insanity Points. The game fucking loves the Insanity system from DH despite it being a pile.
Dark Secret is worth 10 Depth and is awful. Just awful. There's something terrible about you, or something awful you did, and if anyone finds out there's a big 'ole chart of negative effects as they realize you're an edgelord OC. These are:
Anger: Don't talk to me or my pilot son ever again. The character who found out won't speak to you for d5 Sessions.
Denial: They get a Delusion from the Insanity rules that you're totally normal and not secretly a serial killer or whatever edgelord shit you came up with.
Evasion: They won't get near you for d10+2 Sessions. You know, this weird random 'two characters won't interact for X sessions' thing is really awkward if the other person is a PC.
Fear: They treat you as having Fear (1) for d5 Weeks, too in awe of your originalness to ever steal from you.
Jaded: They gain 15 Insanity points for 'picking the boring option', according to the book. That's a fuckton of insanity to gain not to have to deal with 'I can't talk to or interact with one of the other central characters at the table', authors. Maybe if your consequences were at all interesting you wouldn't have to worry about people skipping out on them.
Acceptance: If the GM permits, nothing actually happens and they're okay with how you like to torture squirrels or you're secretly a super alien from another dimension or whatever.
Like, this is absolutely terrible. This trait is just asking to derail a game.
Dependent is worth 5 Depth. You latch on to people and if they ever tell you off, you take -10 to all rolls for d5 Hours and pick someone else to latch on to. Again, notice how many of these sound really fucking annoying
to play with.
Depressive is worth 10 Depth. You roll WP at the start of each session. If you fail, you gain 1 Fatigue from being sad and it won't go away for d5+DoF hours of game time. Depending on the session, this is either going to fuck you (having any Fatigue in DH is -10 to everything) or be totally meaningless. Also given Shinji's struggle with his depression is one of the theme of Eva, I'd expect this to be more central.
Dim is worth 5 Depth. You're a deeper character because you're dumb. -10 to Int skills.
Diverse Troubles is worth 5 Depth. You take an extra Negative Trait from a different Background. So a Neo Spartan who is an idealistic sort could take the 'flip the fuck out when I blow up a building' trait from Prodigy. This isn't that bad; you could construct an actual twist on a background with this, even if it's very mechanically punishing.
Duty of Care is worth 15 Depth. You have a dependent NPC like an anime little sister or something who you need to take care of. You suffer penalties if anything happens to them. You gain a huge chunk of insanity when the GM inevitably kills them for cheap drama. You lose a lot of your spare time taking care of them and halve the benefits of the much later explained Time Management system. You need GM permission for this, but should also get lots of extra time to interact with your special relationship and it's strongly recommended it not be another PC.
Fanatical is worth 10 Depth. You're totally devoted to a cause, person, or ideal. You permanently lose a Fate point
, which is mechanically equivalent to surviving death or turning into Tang, if your GM ever rules you refused their orders or went against them. This is fucking nuts!
Foe is worth 5 Depth. It's the generic 'somebody hates you and will nebulously try to mess with you' and can represent everything from assassins to a janitor who is pissed off you put a penny in the door (the janitor from Scrubs is basically one of their examples).
Hoarder is worth 5 Depth. You don't give stuff up. You store and hoard. If you need to give something to someone, roll WP to make yourself do it, or have someone use Command or Charm on you. Ergh. Again, this is just annoying. Most of these traits just make a PC annoying to play/play with.
Impetuous is worth 10 Depth because being MANLY and HOT BLOODED is COOL. You can't stop to do anything important in combat until you've fired a full auto burst, charged someone, or shot someone at close range.
Inattentive is worth 5 Depth and gives you a -10 to Perception tests even if they don't use the Perception stat.
Ineptitude is worth 5 Depth. Pick one Basic Skill. You can never succeed. You will never overcome your crippling inability to dance.
Lonely is worth 5 Depth. You get -10 to everything if you're alone because you hate being alone. This doesn't apply in your robit since the support staff is yelling at you.
Low Pain Threshold is worth 5 Depth. You halve your TB, rounded down, for purposes of personal scale damage reduction or Feedback Threshold. We still don't know what Feedback Threshold is, but effectively crushing your TB probably isn't a good idea.
Medicated is worth 5 Depth and is the most GM May I shit. You pick a stat besides WS, BS, or Synch. Every week you don't get your meds you suffer -1d10 to that stat. For every week you're unmedicated, not only do you suffer that temporary penalty, you lose 1 point permanently in that stat. Permanent stat loss is a big deal! And you know you're going to have to go unmedicated, because otherwise what does this Drawback actually do? It's all a matter of how much and when you're going to get fucked mechanically.
Meek is worth 5 Depth and is -10 to Fel skills.
Overweight is worth 5 Depth and makes your Agi bonus 1 point lower when you have to run outside your Eva. No effect in the Eva, where the vast majority of combat is going to take place. Hey look, gimme points.
Phobia is worth 5 Depth and makes you test Willpower when you run into your Phobia. You do NOT get any bonuses to Fear tests on this check. If you fail, you immediately suffer a Trauma roll (not a Fear roll) as per DH. Ech. Again, GM May I. Who knows how often this will fuck you?
Physically Challenged is worth 15 Depth and sees the PC crippled. They can only crawl outside their Eva, unless they have their wheelchair or braces, in which case they move at half speed. No effect in your Eva. Also, -10 to all Tough tests. How much this is even going to matter comes down to whether or not anyone ever takes a shot at you in pilot form.
Poor Vision is worth 5 Depth and halves the range of any ranged weapon you use, which is fucking awful. Or would be if any ranged weapons were worth a damn outside of the huge cannons with unlimited range. We'll get to that.
Prejudice is worth 5 Depth and hooooo boy. I'm just going to quote here. "The character considers one demographic to be subhuman, and will not tolerate their presence. Should they be forced to, they suffer -20 to all rolls during the interaction as they can't contain their disgust." Yeah, that's a fun thing to bring to the table. One of the consistent themes here is these don't make your character interesting, they just make them a prick or a problem at the table. Or they're down to 'how much is the GM going to decide to fuck me'.
Repellent is worth 5 Depth and halves your Fellowship with 'a gender of your choice' because you 'come off as a sleeze, or you're awkward, or-' generally if someone take this it's a warning sign.
Sadistic is worth 10 Depth and is also a warning sign about a player. If you have a chance to hurt someone and think you can get away with it, you must. If you don't, you test WP. If you fail, you lose a Fate Point for the session. If you really want to hurt that person, the test is at -30. Note your PC does this to everyone
and it should be both 'physical and emotional'. If someone takes this, kick them out of your group. The general encouragement to be uncomfortable at the table is one of the worst parts of this piece of shit game.
Second Fiddle is worth 15 Depth and has you be totally dependent on an NPC or other PC. You get -30 to resist their social skills, you'll never cross them or show them up, and you do everything you can to please them. Also suffer huge Insanity if they're hurt or they die. They can also choose to make you suffer -10 to everything for an hour by saying something mean to you, at will. Like, I get it. Unhealthy power dynamics and shit like Gendo being a piece of shit are a part of Eva, but put in this context this is just begging for abuse and bad feelings at a gaming table.
Short Fuse is worth 5 Depth and just means you respond to 'stress' with a WP test or you'll punch something.
Shy is worth 5 Depth and gives you -20 Fellowship when dealing with crowds or strangers. Once you know someone the penalty goes away.
Suicidal is worth 5 Depth and means you have to make WP tests to actually back off from danger.
Unlucky is worth 10 Depth and gives you a 10% chance of not actually getting the benefits of a Fate point (even though it's still lost) whenever you spend one. This is terrible.
Unstable is worth 10 Depth and permanently reduces your Synch Ratio stat, one of your most important stats, by 1 for every 3 Insanity you take. Trap option.
Wimp is worth 5 Depth and halves your SB.
Normally, I don't go into this kind of detail. Normally I wouldn't list all this shit out. No-one is here to read a wall of text about how to actually play the game and I swear I'll spare you the dozens of pages of gun porn that are coming up later when they come up. But first, I want you to see just how much of this material there is. Second, it's absolutely critical to the message and story this game's authors are trying to tell, so I feel it deserves the same emphasis they gave it. And it deserves pointing out how little of this shit actually makes for a compelling character or a fun gaming experience. Remember, everyone is encouraged to take 25 points, and required to take at least 10, with some encouragement to maybe take more if you want to be a 'deeper' character. This is one of the critical components of how the authors see roleplaying and the themes of Evangelion. Yes, Eva is about a bunch of deeply flawed people. But this manifestation of it is designed to cause discomfort. Can you ever see yourself *not* booting someone who takes Sadistic out of your group the second they write it on their sheet? Can you see that leading to a fun gaming experience? The stuff like Second Fiddle is practically designed to cause creepy shit.
This aspect of the game is part of its core, and it's absolutely rotted. This is not how you portray flawed and deep characters, this is how you write about a bunch of stupid assholes who make for shitty gaming. I also want to emphasize: I cut a lot of words out in summarizing this. This section is 8 pages, on its own, in the core book.
Next Time: Seriously. Unshippable.
Original SA post
Assets give you significant mechanical bonuses where Drawbacks caused you to be deep. Some of the advantages and how they work tell you some unpleasant things about how the game tends to go in the hands of some players, I think. Again, because this is one of the core aspects of the system and how the designers think you build cool and unique characters, I will be going into way more detail than I usually do; I don't blame anyone who skips these sections. Just read the bit at the bottom, it's kind of important.
Academic costs 10 Depth, and for some reason, requires you start the game with 40+ Int. You know 2 Common Lores and a Scholastic Lore of your choice, and get Talented (+10) in one of them. This represents being a child genius who has a college degree, an important anime archetype, apparently. It's also not very useful, as Lore skills are extremely GM May I.
Athlete costs 10 Depth and is extremely good. You get the ability to spend a single Fate point to wipe all Fatigue, you get the ability to test a physical stat to see if you can raise them faster while working out between missions, and you get the ability to use your fists as d5+SB weapons instead of d5-3+SB while carrying more weight. The last isn't likely to come up, the second is situational, but that first ability is gold because Fatigue can be really dangerous.
Catlike costs you 5 Depth and gives you Move Silent and Shadowing as skills. Given the game is going to insist over and over again pilots have no choice but to run and hide if there's a confrontation on the ground, knowing how to be stealthy might not hurt. Alternately, good for sneaking in your 40m tall ridiculous meat-mech.
Celebrity costs you 15 Depth and makes you a pop idol, boy band member, or whatever. You get Peer (Fans), Peer (Media), and Talented+Trained in a Performer skill of your choice. Requires GM permission 'because it will affect the tone of your game'. Not really worth the points mechanically.
Charming costs 5 Depth and gives '+10 to Fel with the gender of your choice'. The 'gender of your choice' part tells you what the devs anticipate this being used for, and it sets my teeth on edge. Especially as they're going to make it clear they like the idea of social skills being used on PCs the way they're used on NPCs later. Which is a huge no no.
Common Sense costs 5 Depth and lets you ask the GM once a session if what you're about to do is a bad idea. As the GM is only supposed to answer 'based on what you reasonably know', this gets the double whammy of being a GM May I ability AND one where the GM can lie to you if they feel like playing power games, and in this system and context that bears thinking about.
Cynic costs 10 Depth and means you're a cool kid who questions EVERYTHING, man. You aren't one of those sheeple, you know how the world REALLY works and ergh. You get the Scrutiny skill and +20 to resist Charm and Deceive. Again, you're a PC. Resisting Social Skills should not be a part of things. Especially not with what they've already signaled about the context of people using Charm on PCs.
Driven costs 10 Depth and gives you a Fate Point atop your normal pool. Your GM tells you if you're defying the odds enough to actually use it. It can't be burnt to avoid death. Again, GM May I is always a bad sign.
Eidetic Memory costs 5 Depth and is, as usual, something thrown in when one of these Merits and Flaws systems is running out of Merit ideas and the deadline is coming up. You get Total Recall from Dark Heresy. Yawn.
Egghead costs 5 Depth, and gives you both Training in and Talented in any individual Int based skill of your choice (like Tech Use. Take Tech Use). You can take it multiple times, unlike most, up to your Int Bonus.
Fast costs 5 Depth and lets you run away, even though you mustn't. You can spend Fate and your Reaction for the turn to full move in any direction, at any time. You also get +1 Agi Bonus for movement outside your Eva. Eh. Giving up your Reaction can often be a death sentence depending on the fight, but melee is the strongest general tactic in the game and closing into melee might be worth it sometimes? Maybe.
Fearless costs 15 Depth and gives a simple +10 to Fear, but also counts your Insanity as 20 higher for purposes of Fear Immunity. Remember, in DH, you're immune to Fear Ratings of IP/20 and Fear only goes up to 4. So this makes you immune to Fear at 60 Insanity instead of 80. It's useful; Fear can be crippling for a lot of reasons. Just is it 15 points useful?
Healer costs 5 Depth and gives you Medicae (God, I hate that name for it) and Master Chirurgeon (Heal people better) from Dark Heresy. Note how many of these just give you a random starting skill, versus how many of the other ones cripple a part of your PC. It's telling, no? You also get a first aid kit. 5 points for being able to be a medic in an emergency is one of the better deals for these 'just get a skill' ones, though; Medicae/Heal in DH/WHFRP are really useful skills.
High Endurance costs 10 Depth and lets you test Toughness any time you gain Fatigue to gain 1 less, min 0. It also makes your Feedback Threshold (whatever that is, we won't know for 100 pages) 1 point higher. Can't take it with Low Pain Threshold. Definitely useful, as it has tangible benefits.
Incredible Sense costs 5 Depth and gives you +20 to tests with one sense. Smart people take Sight or Hearing, because the likelihood that taste/smell/touch comes up is far lower. Potentially worthwhile; 20% is a huge bonus and perception tests can be life or death.
Innovative costs 10 Depth and gives you an extra Fate point like Driven, but you spend this one while trying to undertake clever plans. GM decides if it's acceptable. GM May I is still poison.
International costs 5 Depth and lets you start knowing an additional language and makes it cheaper to learn more. For when your GM insists on playing language barriers. Eh.
Mad Skill costs 5 Depth and lets you be crazy to be good. Any time you gain Insanity, you can spend a Fate point. If you do, you get +1/2 your IP to all tests for 5 rounds, then roll on the Trauma table as you break down. Given how much this game fucking loves the Insanity system this could actually be insanely (heh) good.
Made for Each Other costs 5 Depth and lets you pick one of your Eva's traits instead of rolling randomly. You can take it up to 4 times, if you want to actually pick your robit's quirks. Given some of the quirks, this can be really worth it.
Military Nut costs 5 Depth and sigh, means you're such an avid wargamer or whatever that you're actually a strategic genius, getting Common Lore (War), Scholastic War (Tactics), and Talented in both. Note this is better than Academic for this specific function, at less cost, and without the dumb 'have to have a 40+ Int base'. Lores are still a crapshoot of whether or not they'll actually get rolled.
Mimic costs 5 Depth and just gives you Mimic from DH. You're good at voices.
Paranoia costs 5 Depth and gives you DH Paranoia. Given DH Paranoia is +2 Initiative and a chance of warnings before ambushes and shit, this is ridiculously worth it.
Prepared costs 10 Depth and gives you a measly 100 Bonus EXP. You start with 400. The GM's guide suggests an average of 500 a combat session (300 for sessions with no combat). This is insignificant and you're spending one-time special Depth on it. Trap option.
Privileged Family Name costs 10 Depth and means you're on of the Illustrious Ashford Family Name or whatever other ridiculous pseudo-nobility you want to play at for your anime bullshit. Authorities won't bother you because they know your family. You also get the ability to call in a political marker once during the campaign. Eh.
Resilient Metabolism costs 5 Points and gives you +20 to tests to resist illness, Resistance (Poison), and the ability to ignore the Toxic weapon trait entirely. Depending on if this extends to your Eva (It does say it works at E scale) this is actually potentially really good, because Toxic can fuck you up. Taking d10 unreducable damage if you fail a Toughness-Whatever test is bad news and being able to no-sell it might be worth the points.
Shrewd costs 10 Depth and gives you an extra Fate to be spent on negotiations. You are Business Kid, doing Business! Probably the most well defined of the Conditional Fate Assets, and the least useful unless you're the Ops Director.
Soldier costs 15 Depth, because being a grim, cool soldier who has fought in child soldier wars (or an old Impact Survivor) requires IMMENSE depth to pull off, right? You get +20 to WP tests to snap out of (but not initially resist) Fear. You get Jaded from DH (Never take IP from non-magical fear or blood again). You unjam weapons as a half action. You do d5+SB with fists. You're a badass. A badass original character. No-one will steal you. Joking aside, the grab bag of advantages for this one is actually pretty good.
Thrill Seeker costs 5 Depth and gives you a 10% chance to get your Fate Point back if you spend it while doing something crazy. Eh. GM May I and
a small chance of triggering? How can I say no?
Troublemaker costs 10 Depth and makes you too cool for school. You get 2 skills of your choice from Concealment, Silent Move, Sleight of Hand, Gamble, and Deceive (these are, at least, useful skills) and get a -20 to resist Charm attempts from characters in positions of authority. They can still Intimidate you at 0 penalty. Again, with context? Thanks for that thought, AdEva.
Uncanny Luck costs 5 Depth and gives you Gamble, because you're lucky. It also lets you subtract 2d10 from a roll result once per session. Definitely worth 5 points.
Unremarkable costs 5 Depth and gives you, uh, Unremarkable from DH. Lame.
Unshippable costs 5 Depth and a universe of terrible implication. You gain Chem Geld (Immune to seduction) from DH and the Charming Asset doesn't work on you. You're 'naive' OR perhaps 'strong willed'. A special note says you may still willingly enter romantic relationships; this Asset just prevents people using Social Skills on you to make you enter them.
Hoooo fucking boy! Let's let those Implications sink in! You probably thought I was just being paranoid when I was pointing out how creepy a lot of the 'Use Charm on a PC' implications felt before! Well, I wasn't, because I knew fucking Unshippable was coming up. What this says about the mode of play that the designers assume for their game is really, really fucking bad. Not to mention how many horror stories I've heard from people who've made the mistake of playing AdEva with people they didn't know and trust not to go to the places that kind of Asset implies the designers assume the game can and will.
I told you all these fucking Assets just to get to that last one. It looms over the entire list. I'm not being hyperbolic; once you see that one, go back and read some of the other Assets and Drawbacks and bask in the horrible and cosmic Implication.
That aside, on a general design note, Assets are incredibly dull. Remember how the Drawbacks often crippled your PC or made you a huge asshole? These are all like 'Oh I guess you get an extra starting skill'. Nothing here really feels worth a powerful metacurrency like DEPTH that you can only get in one place at once time. My recommendation is to just take 10 minor Drawback points then grab, I dunno, Athlete or Luck+Metabolism or something. Nothing here is actually worth what you pay for it when you consider how shitty Drawbacks are.
Normally I'd recommend Unshippable, but let's be real: If you needed Unshippable, you needed to get out of that group yesterday and to never play with those people again. Unshippable is the kind of Asset that shouldn't fucking need to be a character resource in a game. Seriously: Do not game with people who would make 'Take this to not be forced into relationships by dice roll' necessary.
Next Time: PC Classes.
Shootman, punchman, get punched man, Wizard
Original SA post
Shootman, punchman, get punched man, Wizard
So, our character classes reveal another problem with the organization of this book, but to be fair it's kind of one every single Hams game has had and one that's a bit hard to avoid. There's going to be a shitload of Talents and abilities and the Careers are DH1e style 'you unlock this Advance table once you've spent X EXP' careers, rather than WHFRP2e full advance tables or Black Crusade/Only War 'here's your list of EXP costs' tables. Thankfully, the career concepts are extremely simple and easy to describe, so even without being able to tell what all of them do yet I can tell you what they're for.
Stat scales are also very different from DH; you generally use less EXP to advance in your stats. A 'good' Advance is 100-250-500-750 like in DH, a 'medium' advance is 200-350-500-750, a 'bad' advance is 250-500-750-1500, and an 'excellent' advance is 100-200-300-400. Also, every single pilot starts with Speak (English) (Should probably be 'home language'; what if you're playing in Japan, or Russia, or China?), Literacy, and then either another language or a Common Lore. They also all start with AT Field (Deflect) (We'll get into this later), AT Power (Neutralize) (Completely necessary for angelic combat, we'll get into it later), 2 skills of their choice that are NOT Dodge or Awareness (Those two are important and advance separately), and a couple upgrade points for their Eva based on their type. Also get 400 EXP to spend.
Ranks go 0-1000, 1000-2000, 2000-4000, 4000-7000, 7000-9999, and then top at Rank 6 at 10,000+.
Skill Proficiency is one of the other few good ideas they had. The bulk of the game's mechanics are focused almost entirely on giant robot combat, and that goes for character resources. If you want extra skills, they're cheap and you get X number of picks each rank. You also get a few slots for upgrading those skills to +10 or +20. This helps make the careers much easier to make, since the designers don't need to be worrying about important questions that vexed DH1e's designers, like when it's permissible to give the party's Scum actual stealth skills or the weird insistence that 'ride horse' is a high level ability reserved for the mightiest.
The Skirmisher is our first career, and it's Asuka, ostensibly. You don't bother with AT Field magic or the biological nature of your robot. You're all about your robot as a giant weapons platform. You fight with the two most effective physical combat styles: Melee and Heavy Weapons. The Skirmisher tries to be so good with basic combat that they can get around an Angel's bullshit, and they're often good enough to do this. With some newly introduced mechanics compared to when I actually ran the game, ranged combat is more viable, but rifle/pistol scale weapons still kind of suck. Heavy weapons are where it's at, just like in DH. Interestingly, there's no longer any need for weapon proficiency. If the weapon is mounted on your Eva, you know how to use it. This was done because in the earlier editions, players learned proficiency for weapons, which also carried over to when they were on the ground if they ever found themselves under attack. Some of the designers hated the fact that pilots, being trained combatants with a bunch of EXP in fighting skills, kind of tended to rock the average soldier despite being 15 years old (Evas are piloted almost exactly like infantry combat, just scaled up, which is one of the few good decisions). So, now you don't have to spend EXP on learning to use new weapons, but you're also non-proficient with pretty much anything when you're out of the cockpit.
Skirmishers are fast as hell, have good WS and BS, have amazing Perception for some reason, suck at WP and Synch, and are generally a boring but very effective class. You want to be an unimaginative but useful basic fighter, this is the class for you. They're the most equipment focused class, and get lots of Structural and Weapon upgrades (Armor, gadgets, and guns) but pay more for the base biology of their Eva. They tend to approach the Eva like it was a huge cyborg and treat it more like a vehicle. They play an awful lot like a Dark Heresy Assassin, and given how effective Dodge Tanking is and how useful high skill can be, they'll do their job just fine.
The Pointman is supposed to be Rei and was, when I played, the most redundant and useless class in the game. That may have changed; I'll have to go over their talents and things more to check. This is the tank/support class, and if you know 40kRP you know 'tank' doesn't really do much. They're great at Toughness to an absurd degree, which is potentially useful since it helps you resist passing out in the cockpit. They're also good at WS and BS, good at Agility, and have excellent Fellowship. Also bad at WP and Synch. The Pointman focuses on stuff like taking hits on their arms (which they can survive losing) or slowing down enemies, and ostensibly sets up the Skirmisher and other characters to win battles more easily. In practice, when I was playing in the older editions, there was nothing a Pointman did that wouldn't have been done better by having another Skirmisher who killed enemies faster. They'll spend a lot of a fight acting as a budget Skirmisher while trying to get the enemy to target them so they can throw their Toughness abilities in its way, and to do that they basically have to be right next to an ally.
In my experience, in a system like DH, the best status effect is dead. You're better off just trying to put the enemy down faster, and taking hits is never as safe as avoiding them. But you know, the tough self-sacrificing type who loves their friends and loves getting their arm torn off dramatically is a staple of anime, so here they are. They're good at Biology and Structure but have poor Weapon upgrades, because they need armor and they need meat.
The Berserker is Shinji, ostensibly. They're a pilot focused on their bond with their Eva, and on making the Eva go crazy. Hilariously for the class intended to be Shinji (sort of), the Berserker is buff and huge, getting Excellent Strength and Toughness and good Weapon Skill and Synch Ratio. They're bad at Agility and Willpower. Wow, sure seems this game hates Willpower. Almost like it's excited for your characters failing Fear tests or being easy to manipulate. They get all kinds of wild stuff like 'add some of your own Strength Bonus when fighting in the Eva' or abilities that make it much easier to drive the Eva into its crazy Berserk mode. They also have Frenzy! Well, Bloodlust. Frenzy didn't sound cool enough, I guess. At least it gives a WS bonus instead of penalty, now? Still stops you parrying, though, so you're going to die. They also kind of suck at dodging, which is a bad thing for a melee specialist. They are all melee specialists. This is fine, because melee is one of the most powerful combat options.
As time goes, the Berserker learns to eat angels, regenerate, and do all kinds of crazy biological soul tricks. They're good at Biological and Weapon upgrades, because they want a chainsaw and they want it now, and they want a huge beefy right arm behind it. They suck at Structure because you cannot possibly contain The Beast and all its meats. On one hand, they're powerful. On the other hand, a lot of what they do takes away your ability to make decisions for your character because now the Eva is in charge. That kind of sucks. They're also the second best AT Power user because of their high Synch.
The AT Tactician has no parallel in the show and is a wizard. The 1st edition AT Tact was terrible. They focus on manipulating their Absolute Territory or Absolute Terror or whatever field, the exact name doesn't matter. This is a weird sort of sacred boundary within which the Eva or angel or whatever can exist, and it's the huge shield that provides angels with near immunity to conventional weapons. You can do all kinds of Laws of Physics warping shit with it, according to the AT Tact and their space wizardry. How good the AT Tactician is will depend entirely on the AT Powers list and chapter 100 pages from now. They're decent shots but terrible in melee (bad at both WS and Agi), they have excellent Int and Per, they have good WP, and they have good Synch. They get almost no physical combat talents, but in return they get huge piles of Space Magic. Just piles and piles of the stuff. Their advance lists are absolutely full of high level Space Magic, picked up well before any other class can learn it. Where others use the AT Field for a few tricks, the AT Tact relies on it completely.
They also get good advances in all 3 Eva upgrade points, for some reason. I'd have expected them to have bad Weapon Upgrades, seeing as I don't think most of them really use weapons very often. AT abilities can theoretically do all kinds of things, relying on your Synch Ratio to generate a pool of points you use for deflecting attacks (Your AT field is never going to stop an angel, so it's rarely worth using it for this), turning down the enemy's AT field (so your mates can shoot them), or casting spells. If you play any other class, your AT Field is going to be a minor afterthought. If you play one of these guys, everything else will be a minor afterthought as you focus everything on being a Space Wizard.
We do not, in fact, have everything needed to make a character yet. We only have what's needed to make a pilot. The sample character will be holding off until we get to the Eva, and that's waiting for us right through the massive pile of Talents that's coming up.
Next Time: Goddamn, they made up a lot of random Talents.
Were the dozens of Talents in DH not enough
Original SA post
Were the dozens of Talents in DH not enough
So there's a lot of Talents. A LOT of Talents. I'm not going into all of these, I'm just going to talk about their general tenor and how they work out. Lots of the Talents are extremely specific and designed for specific classes rather than general use like the abilities in most of DH; in DH and WHFRP, Talents are very general and classes often vary more in when
you learn them. Here? No-one else is getting Precision, that's the Skrimisher's whole 'thing'.
Some interesting things, looking at normal Talents from DH: They heavily limited multi-attack Talents. The Skirmisher tops out at Swift Attack (2 attacks). The Berserker never gets an extra attack outside of Furious Assault (All Out, Hit, then can All Out again, giving up all defenses to swing twice at huge to-hit bonuses). Also, they never actually say which version of DH they're using, but from some context clues I can tell you it's DH1e, so we haven't swapped over to the thing where Swift Attack is 'Semiauto, But Melee' yet. This means most characters are going to struggle to get through Active Defenses with melee. This is a major reason the Skirmisher has some of the options they have.
See, the Skirmisher gets talents like Precision (Weapon Type). They take that, then pick from a big old list of 'Precisions', like 'My melee attacks can only be Dodged, not Parried' or '-20 to Dodge my stab', or 'I always deal at least 2 Wounds a hit even if you tanked everything'. Skirmisher also doesn't get Crushing Blow or Mighty Shot because some of their Precision abilities do the same thing. The Talents that have been added for the physical combat classes aren't out of line with the norms for DH mechanics. DH's mechanics have their own problems, and adding dozens of Talents to them doesn't really solve any of them, but combat in this game is fundamentally different from combat in Dark Heresy and I understand a desire to alter its mechanics considerably. This is the general mold we'll see for all of the classes.
One of the issues comes not so much with physical combat as with Berserk and AT Powers. AT Powers are a huge portion of the Talents, and only one class truly engages with them. Berserks are very complicated, and split up all over the fucking book. Your Eva has a Soul type that determines how it goes Berserk, and then your Berserk talents are all also modified by Soul Type and errgh. There's a huge amount of this stuff and it only really applies to the Berserker. Most of the subsystems are entire subsystems invented almost entirely for one class rather than an attempt to make a more cohesive or general design. This means you have to memorize a huge number of abilities if you want to run this game, in a system where you already had to memorize a huge number of abilities. This is, again, what I mean when I say this game really needed an editor.
Unbound by worries about pagecount, this is how we end up with a game that has a player's guide that is over 250 pages long without having to write up its base resolution mechanic or system
because those are in Dark Heresy. Similarly, this is 250 pages without anything on the enemies; when the Supernatural Berserk's upgrade talent says 'You acquire the Heavenly trait' I have to look in the GM's guide to see what the hell that actually means (It means you can spend Space Magic points without actually lowering the shield the Space Magic provides you, which is really useful and something all the angels do, which makes Space Magic much easier on them). Oh, I had also somehow missed that going into their version of Frenzy specifically disallows you using multiple melee attacks. There are so many things in these descriptions that require you to wade through the uninspired fluff to get to the actual gameplay elements that it makes reading them an absolute chore, especially as I need to be cross-referencing two other books.
This is why I keep calling this stuff amateur. DH is not a concise or well edited book, either, but it's better than this. I hadn't realized exactly how much I appreciated things like Myriad Song's 'here's a tiny bit of fluff well off the body of the Gift, then solely game text' until I tried to wade through this. I don't need to read how you're collapsing the delta waveform when you use the IMPOSSIBLE wizard talent or whatever. I don't give a shit about your technobabble. I need the bit where it says 'You may now play GM May I with one AT power and try to convince them you can do anything with it' (lol). That's the gameplay bit. I don't give a shit about all this fluff. I don't care that the 'Evangelion is a force that defies NERV's expectation'. I care about the bit of actual mechanics in From the Grave that let you Spend Fate to try to Go Berserk and get back up at 0 Wounds when your robot was downed. Stop mixing this shit together! It's making it harder to report and the fluff writing is awkward fan writing anyway!
Also stop making entire Talents out of 'thing they did in the show once' goddamnit. I know they had the whole episode where they had to learn to dance together so they could dual drop kick a pair of dancing angels. That was a thing. It doesn't need its own description as 'A stylish move favored by aces, which you count yourself among' and a whole paragraph of rules and an EXP cost. But that in itself is indicative of a lot of AdEva's approach to writing for its setting, and thus deserves some examination. 'A thing they did once in the show to kill the monster of the week' becomes 'a major tactic that we wrote a bunch of rules for'. A big moment in the show to show the Evas aren't actually fully controlled because they're alive is turned into a power-set because it would be cool to drive the crazy robot that eats angels, and so Berserking becomes a subsystem. The actual mechanics of the AT field don't really matter in original work, but instead they get turned into a huge array of spells for a wizard class. Everything is mechanized and has a whole paragraph of rules or more devoted to it in multiple spots throughout the book.
Which is really the end of the Talents section; they've put a ton of effort and even a fair amount of mechanical creativity into the Talents. Take the Skirmisher's big Capstone, where they get a 20 point floating pool of bonuses every turn that they can throw around their actions and reactions until the start of their next turn. That's not a terrible idea for a super capstone, especially if they're trying to be higher power than DH (And they are definitely doing that). Or the Pointman gaining the ability to impede and debuff the angel while trying to reduce its AT field so the others can shoot it; if you're not going to do damage, that's a good use of your time. The actual design of the Talents isn't so much the issue as the fact that none of them really address the core issues of DH's combat system. When we get to damage, everything's still mostly going to bypass your armor (and theirs). The combat system still has all its old flaws, it just has a massive amount of additional complications placed on it. Nothing changes or addresses the fundamental issues.
In fact, the fact that it's often PCs vs. Big Boss is going to make most fighting an awful lot easier than the designers intend. I often don't think they understand how precious that one Reaction action a character gets is, because this is Dark Heresy, and
So Talents are full of a ton of material, and it isn't all terrible, but what it is is inconsequential. And again, everything in the next hundreds of pages is going to be mostly about how to fight monsters with a giant robot. Now I am a man who likes a giant robot fight. I couldn't tell you why, but fuck yeah, mechs. Completely inexplicable. But the level of Giant Robot Fighting Rules, combined with the normal rules it's working on already? It's a huge amount of complexity for very minimal gain. The authors never met a subsystem they didn't want to toss into their robot fighting game. Which is annoying to me, because complexity is something you ideally want to minimize; the fewer things players have to memorize, check, and consult, the better. Even in a crunchy system, you want to cut whatever you can.
But you know, fan project, unconstrained by Pagecount or professional editing, worked on for years. This shit is like kudzu.
Next Time: The Giant Robot
What's an Eva? Is it my mom?
Original SA post
What's an Eva? Is it my mom?
You pilot an Eva by getting into it and then using the normal infantry combat system scaled up to super robot level. You do not use your pilot's stats for Strength or Toughness, but your Eva does use your direct WS, BS, and Agi. This means that a faster pilot has a faster Eva. Being quick on your feet and skilled with weapons is very important to driving a giant killer cyborg. Intelligence, Willpower, and Perception will come into play while piloting, but they're much more nebulous. Strength is useless for any non-Berserker PC; only Berserkers get an ability to add their SB to what their Eva can do. Similarly, Toughness is only marginally useful for a pilot. A high Toughness will give you more Wounds (AdEva adds your TB to your base Wounds), slightly more DR, and make you need to take more Fatigue to be knocked out in the cockpit. Fatigue is more important than it was in DH, but if you're a Berserker there are reasons you might actually want to be KOed in the cockpit. Also, if your cockpit gets breached, you take d100 Wounds, so, uh, good luck saving yourself with 1 or 2 more DR.
Pilots wear a form-fitting armored suit and silly little cat-ear looking 'neural chips' because this is a mecha anime. You climb into a cockpit (Entry Plug) that is then inserted into your robot and filled with the infamous orange goo called LCL, which I will be calling tang from here on in. The tang helps create a link between your pilot and the Eva unit, and serves as impact cushioning and life support. You have hand controls and readouts and shit, but you really see the world through the Eva's eyes and control it with your mind/soul; these things are just foci and dramatic devices. Naturally, you can still speak just fine through all that tang. If you try to drive your robot without your form-fitting anime uniform, you suffer -20 to Synch Ratio. Put on the plugsuit.
There's a lot of hyperbolic fluff in this game about how the Eva is the ultimate weapon that ever ultimated, even from characters who don't know that they're heavily restrained alien horrors with (possibly) a human soul shoved in their core and cybernetics. Which is hilarious in light of the next bit: Your Eva needs to operate on an extension cord. If you're ever unplugged (Hit by an AoE that blows off your cord, need to move beyond the cord) your batteries only last 3 rounds. Better get to another power cord or win the fight quick. You'll later get options for improved batteries or an antimatter reactor or whatever that will negate this subsystem, and in the context of DH combat it's never been that big of a deal either; fights are usually pretty decisive.
Still, 'Oh no, the Eva is so powerful and strong! The ultimate weapon that might end mankind in giant robot wars after we beat the angels!' and 'Oh no, the Eva has run out of power after a few minutes and is tethered to a huge support base by necessity' are not too things that gel together very well. I always preferred to write them as an insane stopgap, a weapon that could get through an angel's seeming invulnerability but that was otherwise seen as a kludged together and desperate measure, piloted by children because they can't seem to find adults who can Synch. I get worrying about them if you know what they actually are and that they can break free, but the text going rapturous about how invincible and amazing the Eva would be against conventional forces and blah blah blah is just annoying.
Another big change from DH: Every body part on an Eva has an HP pool. Same for angels. This actually changes DH combat significantly and makes things like Called Shots and the spread of damage from Full Auto actual factors in combat. The issue is your HP pool on every body part is quite small, save for the Body. An Eva has 30 base Tough and Str, then its pilot's BS, WS, and Agi. It gets 2+TB Wounds on its Head, 4+TB Wounds on each limb, and (TBx2)+5 Wounds on the Body. Losing the Body or Head can defeat the Eva. Critical damage to limbs cannot destroy your Evangelion. All body parts have a base AV of 4. Almost everything in the game is Pen 2-4 at least. Like in DH, Armor is mostly useless.
The intent of the body part HP system is for you to take a lot more Critical Damage without dropping than you do in DH. Get an arm blown off? Pick it up and beat the angel with it! Similar, losing your Head can't actually kill your pilot even though it will destroy your Eva (the Eva can be fixed after the fight). Only Body crits threaten your cockpit, and on any destroyed result that threatens it, you have about a 20-30% chance of taking d100 damage or 'merely' taking d10+10 as you successfully eject (which will hurt, but you almost certainly have the Wounds to survive it). The problem in practice is that a lot of the critical results stun or otherwise disable you. This is usually a death sentence if you were already in trouble. Especially when you start to take Fatigue and other problems from the injuries feeding back into the pilot (hey, that feedback thing). You also just don't have the DR to avoid going into crits if you take hits, especially with how powerful angels can be. Nothing about the way the limb system is deployed actually fixes the rocket tag nature of 40kRP combat.
Eva movement is measured in decameters, because 'E Scale' is 'x10'. Evas also move faster per point of AB than DH characters; twice as fast for purposes of moving and charging, 1.5x as fast for purposes of running. This makes it easier to move significant amounts of distance than in DH, but weapon ranges are still very long (and some of them are effectively infinite) and there's much less cover in an Eva scale battlefield. Also, in practice, you're probably going to have to close with an angel for reasons we'll get to when we get to the AT/Deflection system, which is probably the worst subsystem in the game despite attempts to fix it in this update. Still, I appreciate at least trying to make characters more mobile at base than the very static DH.
There's an entire section on 'why do the Evas appear bigger in some parts of the show than others' and a talk about how well they're really about 40 meters tall and 400-600 tons in weight but you see abstractions! And it's some pretty dumb shit. The exact size of your robit doesn't matter, just that it's huge and you're fighting a goddamn undisguised angel who isn't here to tell you to be not afraid. They go 'Oh, the 3 rounds of battery don't exactly match your 5 minutes in the show, but that's ABSTRACTION, it shows we are Game Designers!' and this is a waste of page space.
The fun part comes when you roll for distinguishing features on your Eva. You roll 4d10 and keep all 4 dice, then match the results against the tables for your Eva's History, Construction Quirk, Mutation, and Soul. So say I roll a 3, 8, 10, and 2, and I really like the 3 result for History, I assign the 3 to History and then assign the other numbers where I will. The quirks and features are fun and give the machines a good bit of personality, which is important because your Eva is a character in its own right. Making the robots is, I admit, pretty fun. The tables include things like being a high grade super prototype that costs more to run, being a shitty boondoggle whose surplus funding has been used to get it more weapons due to the Military Industrial Complex, all kinds of weird Eva souls, huge size, small size, weird mutations, a fat Eva...it's neat. They also have significant mechanical effects. You'll see the details when we make our example Evas.
You also customize your Eva with Upgrade Points, bought with pilot EXP. Upgrades are 'tiered' based on a clumsy attempt to add in X-COM esque research subsystems to the game. This game fucking loves subsystems. It will take some time before you can buy up the more impressive upgrades since they need to be researched and added to your robit. Biological Upgrades are used to buy more Strength, Toughness, and Wounds as well as other unusual, fleshy add-ons. It is extremely easy to get the 'Fire Heavy Weapons as if they were rifles' upgrade for your Eva even early on. If you're a gunner, get ready to use heavy guns. Structural upgrades add more armor, holsters, equipment carrying slots, sensors, etc. You can also get Ablative armor later on that tries to address the rocket tag by giving you some free hits.
Weapon Upgrades don't just upgrade weapons, but buy base weapons. Unlike your other upgrades, Weapon Upgrades are chosen per mission; your pool is how many points you have to spend loading up from available tech and tiers, as well as how many points you can spend upgrading what you buy. Every Eva also automatically has access to an incredibly shitty assault rifle (the shittiness of the Pallet Rifle is a running joke. Though I did have a player kill an angel with one. By throwing it through the thing's core) and a surprisingly useful vibro-boxcutter. It says a lot that the 'default' gun is a worthless joke weapon and the default melee weapon is a solid workhorse. We also get a lot of fluff about how producing your weapons is costing billions and starving thousands of people around the world, because we're GRIM and DEEP. I'll go into the actual weapons later. They are poorly designed.
And that's it for making a robit! Now that we have all the components, we can finally make a couple example pilots. Feel free to toss out suggestions.
Next Time: Poor Dumb Bastards
Mustn't run away
Original SA post
Mustn't run away
You know, it's a good point. There's a bunch of randomization so we have no idea how accurate he is, but yeah, let's make Shinji Ikari himself.
He's got an 11, a 9, an 11, an 8, a 15, a 10, an 11, a 10, a 7, a 15, and a 13, so he drops the 7. Shinji's mostly average with a couple good stats. He puts one 15 into Synch Ratio, which goes up to 60 from Prodigy. The other goes into Agility because he would like to run away, for 35. His 8 goes in WP because it's Shinji, and his 9 in Fellowship, I think. The rest get slung around randomly and they're mostly average. By the end, Shinji is WS 31, BS 30, S 30, T 31, Agi 35, Int 31, WP 28, Per 31, Fel 29, Synch 60. He's good at synching, pretty nimble, mostly average. Our little everyman.
Being a robot pilot that fell into the cockpit, he takes Beginner's Luck. Whenever he spends Fate, he gets +10 on the reroll. Shinji is definitely not a Natural Talent (+5 to any stat besides the useful ones, WS, BS, Agi, or SR), he's DEFINITELY not Stable (Your worst Drawback is negated until you're out of Fate), Synch Flux would fit (Whenever your Synch varies, more likely to go up), but for Shinji it's got to be Expert Coward. He automatically succeeds at breaking grapples and can withdraw from a fight as a half rather than full action. If you must run away, it pays to be good at it.
Shinji is definitely Unprepared (Take +1 Insanity every time you take critical damage that causes Insanity) and has an Open Mind (His Feedback Threshold is lower. This makes him more likely to take feedback Fatigue and pass out. Which will make Eva-01 wake up. Score for the Berserker!).
He gets an average roll for HP, so 3+6 (Prodigy)+3 (Toughness Bonus) for 12. Average for a human DH character. He's luckier on Fate, rolling a 10, and so he starts with 3 instead of 2 Fate. Lucky Shinji.
Weirdly, I don't think Coward actually does that great at fitting him here on the Drawbacks table. Instead, he's a Civilian (Flips out when he accidentally kills dozens of people) for 10, Depressive for 10 (It's fucking Shinji, man, this is even more defining than his worries), and Dependent for 5 (He craves positive reinforcement). That makes him sufficiently deep to have maximum points! And this hits the problem that none of the Assets really fit him much. I guess he's Unremarkable (Everyman) for 5, Uncanny Luck for 5, Fast for 5 (No Shinji! No running!), has Mad Skill for 5, and was Made for his Eva for 5 so that he can assure it's got a Savage Berserk, because Unit 1 is crazy.
Shinji is obviously a Berserker since the entire class is based on him. His starting skills don't really matter, but I guess he'll take Concealment and Athletics for running. Then he's got Japanese, Common Lore (Japan), and literacy. He buys Awareness for 100 EXP because you need it, he buys Bestial for 100 because '+1 Pen with natural weapons, +d10 damage while Berserk' is catnip for a Berserker, he buys Ghost in the Machine for 100 because 'Remove the -30 penalty for Berserk Rolls' is, again, Berserker catnip, and he picks up an extra Bio Upgrade for 100. Berserker gives him 1 free, and one Weapon Upgrade, so he's got 2 Bio, 1 Weapon in his pool.
In earlier editions, I might note, your Eva gave you like +15 to hit. Designed to negate early game whiffing. Shinji does not have this bonus, since he is made in 2.5, so he's going to be on a 30% to hit (60 if he goes All Out, at least?) for awhile.
His Eva gets a 7, 8, and 5 for results. He picks his Soul from Made for Each Other, and takes a Mighty Soul; Eva 01 is confident and dangerous. He uses the 5 on Construction to have a Hulking Giant with -5 Agility but +5 S and T. He uses the 8 on History for Mismanaged because the 7 result would have been disastrous (Your Eva always goes after other Evas when Berserk via Nemesis, which is, uh, BAD for a Berserker) so his Eva is a clunker that takes worse crits because the Marine Corps demanded it have VTOL. The Mutation becomes 7, which is Small Scale Model, -2 to AP on all locations but -10 to enemy to-hit against him.
His robot is somehow, at the same time, a massive boondoggle screwed up by its designers, extremely strong but slow, tiny, and pugnacious. He spends his Bio points on +5 S and T so he at least has TB 4, SB 4. His Weapon Points will only matter when combat comes up and there's not much worth spending them on yet anyway. Shinji is not at all ready. His robot is tough enough, and armor isn't that useful anyway, but he's not a great fighter and doesn't want to be here anyway. The Savage Berserk means that when he's knocked out or his Eva takes damage while unpowered, he tests SR+0. If he succeeds, his robit gets back up without power requirements, attacks the nearest enemy, gets +30 Str and +10 WS, and then takes a WP or Fel -10 test to shut itself back down after the battle, or else it goes on a brief rampage against allies/structures.
So there's Shinji Ikari. Completely unready for this shit, not a great warrior, and reliant on his robot.
For the second, probably more effective PC, we have Nise Asuka, Her player thought this was going to be a game about being genetically engineered badasses, and so took Manufactured. She then notices the little thing saying 'Manufactured should be autistic or sociopathic' on their blurb and ignores it, thinking that's silly. Seriously, who suggests this. I know Rei was weird, but 'hey how deep all the artificial humans are on the SPECTRUM' is insulting and weird. There's a lot of romanticization of mental illness in this game's writing. I digress.
Nise rolls a 15, 20, 12, 15, 17, 12, 15, 13, 11, 9, and 12. This means dropping the 9 she'll be below average in 0 stats. This also reveals something else: The differences from rolled stats matter a fuckton more in a DH system than WHFRP2e. Stats are harder to raise, go up less, and have a hard cap of +20 rather than the +40 max in WHFRP2e. So Nise's insanely lucky rolls (Seriously, Faker here is amazing) will forever put her much higher than Shinji. She wants to be a Skirmisher because she wants kickass giant chainguns and loves Real Robot shows. Thus, she takes a stat spread of 35 WS, 40 BS, 32 Str, 35 Tough, 37 Agi, 37 Int, 28 Per, 37 WP, 31 Fel, 58 Synch. She continues rolling great and gets 14 Wounds and 3 Fate. Nise is sure she's going to kick the asses of whatever weird aliens this show is about.
For her Traits, she takes Superior Specimen for +3 to her physical stats, raising her to 35 Str, 38 Tough, and 40 Agi base. She hasn't yet realized S and T don't help her robot. She also takes Distinguished Donor because it's a flat +5 Depth and more Advantage points are cool, right? For drawbacks, she takes Guillible because hey, +20 to peoples' social skills against her won't matter, right? Not like those are going to be used for anything weird. And Mental Conditioning, so she has to make WP tests to disobey orders from NERV. She thinks this will be used for the cool betrayal scene or something where her robot heroine fights through it and breaks free to join the rebels or someshit. This campaign is going to rule.
For Drawbacks, she wants to get this shit over with as soon as possible and takes Ineptitude (Singing), Short Fuse (Hell yeah, hot blood), Impetuous (Hotter blood!), and Lonely. She wants to kick ass and hang out with her buds, and thinks being unable to sing at all will make for a good running joke. For Assets, she takes Soldier because hell yeah she's a supersoldier born and bred. Then Athlete because she's also going to be buff as hell. She'll then grab Resilient Metabolism because the test tube didn't make no quitters. As an added bit of hilarity, since Athlete and Soldier stack their +2 SB for purposes of lifting, she can easily lift 135 kg above her head with no test, going up to 180 if she spends a little on S and T later. Nise is going to be the baddest. For her two random skill picks, she takes Command and Intimidate so she can be an officer.
She takes the Commission (General) Talent for 200 for +2 damage with basic slug weapons, especially as it says it makes her shells HE which sounds awesome. She buys 2 Weapon Slots so she can bring the Gatling Gun you can start with. She grabs 1 Bio Upgrade so she can buy Bulging Biceps and make her mech as buff as her. She's excited to make the robit.
She gets 3, 6, 9, and 10 for her Robot rolls. She spends the 10 on Destined to Meet for History, which gets her an additional Feature of her choice from this table. She spends 6 on Mutation for Steel Giant: +2 Armor and +10 to enemy to-hit for her robit. She spend 3 on Soul, for a Twin Soul robit that seems to respond as an extension of herself and gets an awesome run fast/snipe Berserk, the Hunter style. That sounds awesome and she wants to fluff that as a hyper mode where she and the robot are super in synch. She spends the 9 on Reinforced, giving her +1 Armor but -1 Rounds of Power. She's a sniper, what does she need power for? She grabs Redacted for her History choice and so gets another Construction or Mutation, getting an 8. She takes Multieyes, for +5 BS but a chance she's blinded if she takes Fatigue.
She thinks this robot looks awesome and names it Unit X-13 Valkyrie. She's going to come up with cool attack names for it, a speech for going into super mode, and she definitely buys the Gatling Gun. She has no idea that spending Commission on General weapons was a mistake or that this gun is terrible. It's a fucking giant robot chaingun, how can it suck?
And there are our two examples. Shinji Ikari and someone who just wanted to meld Real Robot Aesthetics with Super Robot Hotblooded. Hopefully, there will be another robot game out there for Nise Asuka.
Basically what I imagine happened with Nise Asuka's player is that she looked at what's actually in the book (200+ pages of Fighting Robots) and concluded, reasonably, this was meant to be a game solely about Fighting Robots and kickass explosive chainguns since they got so much attention. It's an easy mistake to make. This is because that IS what the vast majority of the rules are about, after all. So reasonably, one could say AdEva is primarily about giant fighting robots after all.
Just with all that weird slime they dumped on it too in the quest for Depth.
Next Time: Synch Ratio and You
Original SA post
A slight note on the Evas chapter: I made an error in listing their Armor values. An Eva actually has AV 7 on their central Body, AV 4 everywhere else. So Asuka's Valkyrie has AV 7/10 instead of just AV 7, which is actually a bit more survivable. Still only has 5 HP on its Head, less armor, and it'll die if it takes enough Head damage, though. If the mountain-shooting singing screaming blue diamond aims for your head specifically, you know your GM is being a dick.
That correction out of the way, let's talk about Synch Ratio, one of the more important new subsystems because of its interactions with the AT Field, which, uh, we'll get to in a minute because it's yet another goddamn subsystem (and the worst one in the game). Your Synch Ratio is almost certainly your highest base stat, and you generate a Synch Bonus as per normal; every 10 points of Synch Ratio=1 point of SRB. This is important, because your Synch Bonus is your AT Field Strength. Again, this chapter won't get into why that's important, but I can: It both determines how hard it is for an attack to break through your field and how many points you get per round to try to use AT Powers. As one of the most important AT Powers (and the one everyone has) is spending points 1-1 to reduce an enemy's field, you can see why this matters; you'll almost always need to cut an angel's powerful AT Field down to size before your buddies can shoot it. For that alone, every pilot wants a good Synch Ratio.
But Synch doesn't just do that. It also represents how 'in tune' you are with your Eva. They're driven by the linkage of minds/souls, after all. Thus, at certain thresholds, your Synch starts to do odd things. At 20 or less Synch, you can't pilot an Eva. Your Eva just shuts down if your Synch gets wrecked down to that level. At 21-35, you can only take half actions and it's difficult to move the Eva, but you get +1 Feedback Threshold. At 36-80, your Eva operates completely normally. At 81-100, you get an awesome ability: Any time you spend Fate to reroll a test, you can use your current Synch as the TN on the reroll. Also reduce Feedback Threshold by 1.
That sounds awesome, right? It is. But then things start to go wrong as you get dangerously in synch with your killer robot angel. At 101-150, you start to take d10 Ego damage a round (We'll get to Ego) and your Feedback Threshold becomes 0; any Critical damage to your Eva fatigues you as you feel everything. If you pass out now, your Eva auto-Berserks. At 151-200, any event that changes your Synch Ratio makes it go up and can no longer make it go down. You also take d10+5 Ego a turn. You ALSO suffer any Critical damage the Eva does as direct Wounds on your pilot; say my Eva takes Crit 5, I take 5 Wounds and can't reduce them. You also get a free Fate Point per round to spend on anything besides Burning it. If you hit 0 Ego in the Eva, your Synch Ratio will keep climbing every turn until the battle is over, and your Eva will keep Berserking. At 201+, you gain two angel traits described in another book: Heavenly and Superior Action, while taking d10+10 Ego a turn. Superior Action reduces the cost of your actions; Full Actions are Half, Half can be done as Half or a Reaction, and you can use the Attack action twice in one turn now. Heavenly means when you spend AT on powers, neutralizing, etc, it will no longer reduce the points available for your shielding. An Eva pilot at 201+ is basically a demigod even if they're dying in the cockpit the whole time.
They have an entry for 400+ but it's 'Who knows what happens here? SEELE wants to find out.'
How can your Synch get so damn high? Synch Disruption happens whenever you suffer Ego damage or gain Insanity Points while in the cockpit. Roll 2d10 exploding dice, add up the total. If it's odd, drop your SR by that much. If it's even, raise it. You can only suffer one Synch Disruption a round no matter how many times it should be triggered. As you can see, this can slam you into the dirt or rocket you towards demigodhood really fast during a fight if it comes up.
Finally, FEEDBACK THRESHOLD is explained. It's equal to your TB. It's how much Critical Damage you can suffer in the Eva before you start taking feedback Fatigue from the pain. If your Threshold is 3, for instance, as soon as your Eva has more than 3 Critical Damage (negative HP) on a body part, you take 1 Fatigue every time it takes more Crit to that part. Remember, Fatigue is a flat -10 to everything if you have even 1 point, but if your Fatigue exceeds your TB, you get knocked out. And then it's Berserk time.
There's also a long section about Fate Points and how they usually can't be spent to heal your Eva or unstun your Eva as opposed to your pilot. There's also some advice not to take pilots' limbs and stuff if they have to Burn Fate to survive (They say it's because you're less disposable than in DH, but I say it's because there are less cybernetics!), unless, of course, they're a very good roleplayer who is eager to embrace more depth for their PC! Of fucking course. It's very passive aggressive about 'don't hurt the player more, they already failed your scenario, unless they're a real roleplayer who can TAKE IT'
Ego Barrier is something I remember genuinely fondly from the edition I played. The Ego Barrier/personal AT Field is your ability to remain distinct as a person and an individual. Without it, you just collapse into a gestalt of LCL (Also known as tang), the stuff filling your cockpit. In the version I played in 2.0, Ego replaced the normal Corruption system from DH. It was a much slower process of chipping away at a character's ability to be an individual person as they started to suffer weird empathic events and altered perception, and the slow process was absolutely the centerpiece of one of the two campaigns I ran. When you turn into tang at 0, your PC isn't gone; you can Burn Fate to come back 3d10 days later. Since the campaign it was big in was one-on-one (the other one I ran was a group game) I added in a big, weird mystical experience where the PC experienced her life through the eyes of others because heck yeah, that was the fun part. The Tang Episode was one of the climactic moments of that game, and the slow degradation had built towards it for a long time.
In 2.5, they completely removed the slow degradation/alteration system and turned Ego into a stock of Soul HP. You get 20+5xWPB. It goes back up 10 per game month. You suffer no effects as it ticks down, only a sudden dissolution into tang at 0. It's solely a secondary HP system. You can still Burn Fate to come back, and they do introduce one interesting element to that: When you do, you come back physically changed based on your perspective on yourself. They don't do much with it; it's just Test WP-10 to get back into a better body (Large chance of minor cosmetic change you want, small chance of +2 to a stat, 10% chance of erasing some permanent injury), Test WP+0 to come back normal, and if both fail, come back with a flaw like a cosmetic change you don't like, -5 to a stat, or permanently halved Ego
. That's sort of a waste of a potentially interesting part.
One of the reasons I'm talking about how it was when I played vs. how it is now is because AdEva wants to be taken seriously as a game about deep character interaction and roleplaying and mystical experiences, right? It wants the social aspects of the game and the out of the cockpit character drama to be a big deal. It doesn't have any mechanics for it. Nothing to guide those experiences. Not even any play advice beyond the Implications you see in some of the slimier bits. The old Ego Barrier system, as much as it had some mechanical flaws, actually DID provide a slow, weird degradation of the self in contact with alien forces that built up to and culminated in a climactic 'you have lost yourself, how do you find your way back and what do you learn' incident. That kind of weird experience and its focus on the character's interaction with the world and their sense of self and ability to relate to others despite being separate beings? That's the stuff Eva is about, goddamnit. And here it's just turned back into a simple Soul HP system.
One of the reasons I made Nise Asuka as an example PC is because her assumption about the game is legitimately reasonable from just looking at the rules. Of the 250+ pages in this Core Book, the vast majority are about shooting aliens with a chaingun. From this, you could reasonably assume the game is about shooting aliens with a chaingun. There's very little actual support and few mechanics for the things the game wants to be about, because it's too busy adding another subsystem for loading specialized ammo into your alien shooting chaingun. And the rules for the chaingun shooting aren't even that good! There are just a lot of them! If this game was better written towards what it wanted to be, it would be spending much more time on how to handle stress, interpersonal conflict, and mental health. Given the grace with which it handles anything to do with storytelling or interpersonal issues at present, though, perhaps it is a mercy they focused on the alien shooting in their mechanical design.
There's also a Time Management system, where every month your PC chooses an activity to minorly buff themselves. Physical Training raises a physical stat (Str, Tough, Agi) by 1 per month (2 if you have Athlete and succeed a test with that stat), up to +3 over a PC's lifespan. Combat Training does the same for BS/WS. Education does it for Int or lets you gain a single Basic Skill (Or an Int based Advanced Skill if you use 2 months). Spending time on your hobbies relaxes you and makes you recover 20 Ego instead of 10 that month. The Operations Director (Oh, we'll fucking GET to the pile of Bad Ideas that is the OD) can spend time doing paperwork to get the team extra resources. Therapy can lower IP but never actually cure Insanities. General Rest gets you nothing but heals all Critical Damage and you have to do it if you suffered any Crits; you're in the hospital. Social Interaction gives +1 to Fel, up to +3 during your lifetime.
It's a simple, unobjectionable little 'what did you spend time on between fights' system. It's inoffensive, but also mostly irrelevant. Like most of the rules in this book. This book could easily be 1/2 or even 1/3 the length it is and very little would be lost, but amateur project, no editor, and no sense that they should be trying to be concise. Everything needs rules! Everything needs its own rules! No need to generalize!
Next Time: AT Fields and You
AT FIELD AT MAX POWER!
Original SA post
AT FIELD AT MAX POWER!
Oh, AT Fields. The AT Field (the book is very adamant that it is an ABSOLUTE TERRITORY field, NOT and Absolute Terror field) is a very important metaphysical concept within Eva. It is the barrier between an individual mind and the world, the space within which the you that is you can exist. Angels have such powerful AT Fields that they create an altered, sacred space of reality around them that can render them immune to conventional attack, among other things. Part of the reason Evas are necessary is that they, too, can generate an AT Field and pierce an angel's. Naturally, for the game's purposes, the main focus on the AT Field is its use as a shield, a weapon, and a way to cast spells.
AT Fields are absolutely the worst subsystem in the game, and it's really amusing to see how they've tried to change them to be better without actually grasping why they were such dogshit. An AT Field generates AT Points equal to its AT Strength, with AT Strength equal to your Synch Bonus (or, if you're an angel, the 10s digit of your Light of the Soul, which is really just Synch but for angels). That same Strength becomes your Deflection (or 1/2 that Strength in the case of a lot of the field types). When you get shot at, an attack has a Breach value. If the Breach doesn't equal or beat your Deflection, the attack just bounces off your field. Breach is equal to a weapon's Breach Value, +The ATS of the attacker IF it's a Melee Attack OR a Ranged Attack within 20 dam
. So only close range shooting actually lets you add your own field strength to breaking through. You also add +1 Breach per 2 DoS on an attack, or +1 Breach per 1 DoS if you have the Skirmisher's Weapon Expert. This biases the game strongly towards melee and close range.
Note most weapons have base Breaches of like +1-+2. Only Positron weapons really go through AT Fields on their own. Also, the book is really, really unclear on if your ATS for purposes of breaching fields goes down if you've spent ATP on spells this turn. It does, by the way, as far as I can figure out from the wording of some of the stuff. There's really no clear reason for there to even be a distinction between ATP and ATS except for the fact that angels don't lose ATS for spending ATP, since they have Heavenly. As it is, it's just an unnecessary complication. You also regenerate your full ATP/ATS every round, minus any you're maintaining on spent powers. So say I have 5 ATS, I use 5 to Neutralize an angel, and then next round I walk it back to 3, I now have 2 ATS/ATP left to spend on other things or use for Deflection.
Now, Breach is itself a big improvement over the original system; when I played, Deflection was a flat '10% per point of Deflection you negate an incoming attack unless it pierces AT Fields somehow' and most angels have a Deflect over 10. As a result, step one of every fight was for someone melee focused to move up and work on turning off the angel's field to let the ranged characters play at all. But it all gets into a general preference in the game rules for melee over ranged; even with the Breach system, Asuka is going to be doing jack shit if she's at her full 50dam (or more) range with her chaingun, and all the 'super longshot' sniper heavies are worthless except the Positron Gun unless Shinji's up there turning off the enemy AT Field. But at least there's a mechanic for your Eva to bull through the field without putting everyone on Neutralization duty.
Note that any points you're spending on Neutralizing or using powers or whatever cost you Deflection. Even at 0 ATS left, you still count as having an AT Field up if you only have 0 because you spent all of them. ATS/ATP also gets at one of the weaknesses in design for the AT Tactician. They have a couple very clunky ways to get more ATP (They can bank some one round and spend it plus their generated ATP for the round with a Talent, or they can willingly take Ego damage to generate more ATP with a talent, or they can link fields with allies and spend their allies' fields, too, with a Talent.) but they have no way to just generally get and use more. And some spells cost more than 10 ATP to use. Also note: If you use ATP for an attack spell, your ATS for Breaching is equal to the Breach value of the spell, but also the ATP spent on the spell. Regardless of range. So soul laser some motherfuckers.
The AT Tact isn't actually weak, just awkward. AT Powers are quite useful. One thing, though: Deflection is functionally useless against angels. They try to have this tradeoff with the Field Patterns you can spread, where a bunch of them give passive benefits but halve your Deflection; why would you care? You're never going to stop a high Breach angel unless disruption has made you run hot as hell, in which case just turn off your current field and switch to a new one. Also, you have to declare an action to spread your field, but it's a free action now. In the original, it used to take you your full first turn of a fight to spread your AT field. I don't know why they even have it as an action unless you really don't want your field on at the moment for collateral damage reasons or something (Turning on your field does not actually cause Collateral Damage. That's a mechanic).
The real issue with the whole AT system is that measuring the fields precisely and blah blah is totally unnecessary. It seems to have started as a way of modeling mechanically why conventional forces can't hurt an angel, when all you have to do is write down 'Only a being with a strong AT Field can fight and defeat a being with a strong AT Field'. Instead it became this big, complex subsystem that's really annoying to use and slows down combat, plus punishes players who try to actually use long range options. Yes, yes, in the show their guns never work outside of the Great Positron Cannon they kill the fucking blue diamond with. So? You're already messing around with the format of the show a lot; fights in the show are very monster-of-the-week-how-do-we-kill-it rather than extended punchups where just being strong enough and having combat talents eventually defeats the monster.
You could even still keep AT Powers around; the gameplay role for the AT Tactician is fun and definitely open for a cooperative battle game. Just the whole system they interact with is annoying and very difficult to balance. Also, hilariously, most AT powers do not use the stats AT Tacts are good at beyond Synch. Many even rely on WS, the one stat they're terrible at.
Next Time: Actual AT Powers
Original SA post
You know, of all the things to annoy me in the edition transfer, it annoys me most they took away the AT Tact's ability to use their own Cross Blast. I want to kill people with a combination of my brain and unnecessary exotic symbolism, game!
The AT Fields you can use are Deflect, Accelerate, Bunker, and Layer. Every character starts with Deflect. It's easy to get one or more of the others on any PC, too, which you'll want to do because Deflect isn't very useful. Also, I notice they left the ATT's Quickspread power in (they used to get a Talent to spread their field as 1/2 action instead of a full action) despite the fact that spreading your field is a free action now. Editing!
Deflect just gives you your full remaining ATS after any points you spend on powers in Deflection. It doesn't do anything else. Everyone can do this automatically. Accelerate halves your Deflect (though not your ATS; you just get 1 Deflect per 2 ATS) but also effectively counts your Agi Bonus 1 higher per point of Deflect it's giving you. Note this movement bonus goes down as you spend points. But if you just planned to throw up your field and leave it on, this is fucking golden. Bunker also halves your Deflect, but as long as you have 2 or more Deflect from it, you become completely immune to AoE attacks. Anything inflicting an AoE hit just bounces off, no questions asked. Potentially awesome. Layered Field is kind of meh, giving 1/2 Deflect and then 1 AV per 2 points of Deflect. So effectively +1/4 ATS to AV. Maybe if you have nothing else to do. Still, they're all better Deflect Field, because angels are going to punch right through that shit.
Offensive powers are a little limited, but very powerful, potentially. Friction Flood, for instance, can only be used at 20 dam but it hits an enemy with a freeze field that halves their movement. What's more, if they move, for every 2 dam they move, they take 1 unstoppable wound to every body location. That includes their Core, the part you have to break to kill an angel. You need a full action to cast and a half action to maintain this, but still. 'Stop moving or you die' with no check to cast, no save, etc is pretty fucking crazy!
Repulsion throws people around and potentially does a ton of falling damage. Rutherford Chain has you rip off part of your body, give it an AT field, and use it as a living bomb. The other spells are basic medium attack spells, but you can supercharge their damage and pen by spending more ATP, which still helps them burst enemy fields. Teleforce Blast is good for that, Kinetic Wave is an AoE which has its own problems (especially as you're often fighting only one enemy) with collateral damage, but both are acceptable basic magic attacks. Weirdly, Teleforce Blast requires Manipulation 3, which you don't get for several ranks, while the AoE version requires 2, which a Tactician can get at Rank 2.
Chaos Punch lets you punch an enemy with WS (That thing the ATT isn't good at. Other classes can use AT powers, though) to lower their available ATP by 4 while also hitting them with a melee weapon. Entropy Flux lets you change the damage type of a melee weapon and buff its damage and pen. The first ability is mostly meh (only really effects Critical Effects) but the second part can be helpful. Especially as the points spent on enhancement still help you breach. Restrict Shot lowers the collateral damage an attack does. Meh. Spatial Funnel reduces the accuracy of full auto, but makes an entire burst land on one point on the enemy, and increases range. If they dodge one shot, they dodge them all, though! Very useful, potentially. Also lets you add the ATP/ATS spent on it to the weapon's Breach. An ATT can make Asuka's chaingun useful! Wrap Beam lets you try to deflect beam weapons that don't have more Breach than you do ATP spent on the power, and even Ganon Tennis them right back at their shooter. Neat.
Dirac Sea powers are all about space-time warping. Krashnikov Tube is a hugely expensive (10 ATP) power that lets you wormhole punch people or redirect attacks coming at you with wormholes (though it's quite difficult to do so). Dirac Cache lets you make extradimensional spaces to store extra guns or ammo. Dirac Jaunt used to be so much cooler; I remember an ATT using it to take his friend to the moon to demonstrate he'd discovered FTL in one of my games. It's your usual extremely expensive, extremely restricted, 'can potentially hurt you and everyone you bring with you' teleport spell that can take you up to 10km, now. You used to be able to get to the moon! Inverted Field lets you drag people into altered spacetime with you and stick them there. Phase trap lets you grab an enemy and drag them into a personal altered space together with you that outsiders can't effect.
Anti-AT Field is in the Utility powers for some reason. It costs *21* ATP to turn on and is 'rewrite reality'/'wish' level magic. You take ego damage every round you're playing magic tea party and you can choose to have a huge explosion go off or just do 2d10 irreducable damage or whatever. It's effects are nebulous! AT Flare is a basic 'draw agro' power, which is good to have in a game; it gets angels' attention. AT Ping scans for active AT Fields in case you're fighting something invisible. Barrier lets you throw down a much stronger Deflection barrier for people to hide behind. Float gives you wizard jumpjets. Inertia lets you telekinesis objects around a little. Kinetic Manipulation lets you manipulate things as if with your robits' hands at a distance. And good old Neutralize is the workhorse of AT, which lets you just throw points at turning down an enemy's field. If you keep using half actions to maintain it, you can even keep your own ATS for purposes of Breaching their field even as you spend your ATP on doing so. Otherwise, you can just maintain it as a free action after turning it on with a half action.
So that's AT. There's some cool stuff you can do with it, but there's no real coherency and the subsystem itself is overcomplicated trash that didn't need to exist at all, made to fulfill a purely narrative role. Hooray! Also, demerits for having a 'Well, uh, REWRITE ALL REALITY!!!!' spell.
Next Time: Use Gun On Alien.
Stat goddamn everything
Original SA post
Stat goddamn everything
So, now that I've talked about AT and you know that unless you're in close most weapons aren't great at breaking an AT Field, it's time to talk about the shitload of guns (most of which suck) and melee weapons (which are quite powerful).
To start with, one of important mechanical bits of the game is that they really want to do military wank/X-COM stuff as well as making Eva. So as you fight, you unlock Research Points based on how well you do at limiting collateral damage and killing angels. You get 10 Research base, 20 if you do extremely well in a battle, 15 if you do great, and 11-15 if you do good. We'll get into how you define all of those later. You spend research on unlocking new technologies. Research didn't used to be its own separate thing, but rather something you spent your general 'Surplus' reward for winning battles well on. Now you get Research and Surplus both. Surplus is meh, since you use it to build base structures and stuff and can't upgrade your mechs with it and very little of that stuff is particularly important. Research is where it's at.
Once you spend 60 research on weapons and armor techs (spending enough research to unlock a tech is usually 30-50) you move your tech level to Tier 2, as you just generally get better at science. This immediately unlocks the Tier 2 versions of everything you've already unlocked, and means future weapon categories will be unlocked at Tier 2, too. You can still buy the Tier 1 versions if you want. I'm not sure why you would outside a few edge cases, but you can. Once you've spent 180 research, you unlock Tier 3. Note that spending 50 to unlock, say, Positron Weapons (DO THIS THEY ARE THE BEST GUN IN THE GAME) and then 10 towards unlocking Heavy Progressive Weapons (out of 30) will cause you to become T2.
You don't need to do any actual research to unlock Ballistic and Progressive weapons as categories. Heavy Progressive Weapons just lets you take other general weapons and make the Progressive, essentially making them vibroblades. Most of the melee research trees don't unlock specific weapons so much as they unlock new upgrades to put on the general melee weapon chassis you already had from the start.
A good way to look at some of the issues with weapons is to compare the two weapons every Eva gets. The Progressive Knife and the Pallet Gun. A Pallet Gun is a terrible, terrible gun designed as the first proof of concept for Eva scale automatic weapons. It does d10+2 Pen0 with 0 Breach, fires at S/2/3 (So Single, 2 shot Semi, 3 shot Full), has only 6 rounds a magazine (and carrying more ammo is difficult; Evas don't have backpacks, just their weird shoulder pods) at 50 dam base range. It's going to bounce off most angels, especially as it's Breach 0. Meanwhile, the Prog Knife is d5+3+SB, Pen 4, rerolls damage once and takes best, and is Proven (3) so no damage die can roll lower than 3, on d5s. So 9-11 damage a swing in the hands of a basic Eva with basic strength, with Pen 4. Two chances to Fury due to the Progressive reroll. It's a great melee workhorse. Plus, as a melee weapon, you'll always be throwing your ATS into breaching their field at close range.
This is because of a dumb bit of 'realism'. They want to hammer home that the initial guns were 'difficult to make' since they're the first generation of giant robot guns. So the initial rifle, pistol, and chaingun all suck. Leaving you with 0 good physical ranged options without research, while everyone gets a free, excellent melee weapon. If you somehow don't gain any other weapons techs, either, ballistics don't get much better: You get a +2 Pen, higher clip assault railgun (compared to the Pallet Rifle), a pistol with full auto but only d10+2 Pen2 like the rifle, a powerful rocket sniper that does lots of collateral damage, and a railcannon that USED to be a 3d10+3 Pen4 monster and is now d10+5 Pen4 with +3 Breach and infinite range. Also, all Heavy Weapons across all trees besides the Chainguns (there's another, better chaingun in another tech tree) and a T3 Eva rocket launcher require T2 tech and a structural support upgrade to mount on an Eva at all, and get blown off if it takes any Body Crits.
Now note that that d10+2 on the Chaingun (it fires Pallet Rifle rounds, just at a higher rate) is not going to do shit to most serious enemies. Asuka has picked the trap option of being a ranged character in AdEva before you get any of the good guns. A melee character is fine right out of the gate, but ranged takes investment. On average it's going to be 2-3 battles before she gets any better weapons.
But maybe it's just the Ballistics that suck. That's how it is in X-COM, right? This is trying to be X-COM. You can unlock Masers easily, and they must be good, right? Upgrading to Lasers rocked in X-COM.
Haha, they're terrible. Masers are better than ballistics, and they do pierce armor okay and have a ton of ammo. Their Commission upgrade is +2 Breach, which is pretty useful. But they actually do less general damage as you level them, instead increasing in fire rate. They do reliable but low damage, all having Proven (4) so every damage die does at least Damage 4. Most have Pen 3-4. Most do d10+2 or d10+1. There are also overheating high-powered HELIOS guns that actually do enough damage to hurt things and set targets on fire, but they can also explode. The only real winner in the Maser category is its big T3 heavy weapon, but it's a doozy: The Siege Maser has unlimited range, 2d10+3 Pen5 Breach 2, and a special rule called Beam. If you hit with the first shot, you can just keep spending a half action every round to keep hitting with the same DoS and the same (failed) enemy Dodge until they're dead, you're forced off target, or you run out of ammo.
Okay, so Masers were mostly a waste of time. What about this N2 Shell gun? This fires bullets with a tiny antimatter warhead and they're mecha-scale 40k Boltguns because lol Shinji+40k. They're also terrible, for the same reason 40k Boltguns were often considered 'low tier' in later 40kRP. They don't have full auto until you get to the chaingun at Tier 3, and they don't do enough damage to make up for their low rate of fire, at d10+6 Pen 1. They all have Tearing at least, so 2 chances to Fury? The thing is, d10+6 Pen 1 looks decent, until you compare it to melee. At T2 (You will almost certainly be T2 if you have N2 guns, they cost 50 to unlock), even with no other melee upgrades, let's look at our new friend the Prog Knife MK 2. d5+4+SB, Pen 5, still Proven 3. Let's put it in the hands of an average pilot who isn't even a melee specialist, with average strength on their Eva. d5+7 Pen 5 is, effectively, up to d5+12 if they had the armor to blow through. And the pilot has the same two chances to Fury, can store it in a wing dock, has the whole ATS thing, etc. They're not only probably outdoing your N2 Gun, they can multiattack if they have the Talents, which the N2 Rifle and Pistol can't. The chaingun would probably be better if it had more range, but it's the same damage as the others, just automatic and locked up at T3.
So N2 was probably a waste of research. Is there no hope for shooting motherfuckers? What's that on the horizon, is it the best guns in the game? It is! Positron Weapons are what you want. Like N2, you're probably going to be T2 when you get these. Unlike N2, both T2 Positron Weapons are amazing. The rifle is the only good rifle in the game, and the cannon is probably the best heavy weapon. Positron weapons use their Pen as their Breach value. That's their thing; they're anti-AT weapons. They also count any increases to Pen as increases to Breach. The basic rifle has solid single, semi, and auto fire, a decent magazine cap, great range, better damage than ballistics or masers, and better pen, too. d10+3 Pen4 with good range, good breach, and good ammo means it's the first and only rifle worth a damn. The Positron Cannon is a portable cannon that does Pen 8 (And Breach 8) and 3d10
damage, and while it only has 3 shots it's easy to reload. And that's at T2! At T3, if you can find the time to set it up and sit still firing it, the Great Positron Cannon can't be moved around the field but does 4d10 Pen (Breach) 12. With a range of 'Fuck you.' These weapons are the salvation of Asuka's build.
You also can't really add many cool upgrades to guns, so they're mostly useful as bought.
Melee weapons, on the other hand, consist of a bunch of basic Progressive weapons and then a bunch of unpowered weapons and ways to power them. You can make Polythermic weapons that cut through enemy weapons (but not natural ones), set enemies on fire, and do significant bonus damage to enemies on fire. You can make any of the basic melee weapons Progressive (A Progressive Great Weapon is 2d10+2+SB Pen 3 Breach 1, and rerolls its lowest die. Great Weapons: Not just for Acolytes!). Pneumatic Weapons auto-confirm Fury, add +1 to damage, and kill any enemy Reactions for the rest of the turn on Fury as you leave them gasping. Tesla weapons straight do +1d10 damage, +2 Pen, but can only inflict 1 Critical damage a hit and become E, the shittiest damage type. Chain Weapons replace your SB with a d10 and can't parry, but also still hit the enemy if they're parried, just on the arm instead.
Melee weapons! Significantly more damage, easier to break AT Fields with since you want to be close anyway, use your SB, possibly multi-attack, and generally kick ass, compared to all the work you have to do to make guns work. Hurrah for game balance! Sure, sure, you have to get close to use a melee weapon, but come on, you have to have SOMEONE get close to use a gun anyway. What's funny is how much they toned down and worked on guns between editions, and then spent it all giving melee weapons more and better powers, instead. Similarly, Positron Weapons are actually more powerful than they were last edition, and they were already really worthwhile. One player used to say 'For every problem there's a solution, and that solution is a Great Positron Cannon.', and that was before they handed it another d10 of damage; the old GPC is the normal, portable Positron Cannon, now.
Which also reflects another weirdness of this whole mess. The GPC comes from the show, right? They use it to kill Remiel, the giant mountain-exploding screaming laser diamond. It basically never comes up again until they try and fail to use it on an orbital target later. The whole 'constant march of X-COM tech' isn't really a thing in Eva. For the most part they just spray their useless rifle at something, then get to the punching. But here it's this whole attempted strategy layer subsystem and it's just weird.
If it was better done, it'd be a fun sop to gameplay. As it is, get Positron Guns as fast as possible so your Ranged characters stop screaming, then grab whatever melee tech seems coolest. Then maybe Ablatives so the Pointman stops being such a sad, sad class. Much of the complexity of this game just results in 'solved' systems because the designers don't actually understand Dark Heresy and its failings very well; they try to disguise how shallow the gameplay actually is by having tons and tons of rules instead.
Next Time: Actually use gun on angel
Original SA post
So, before I can talk about combat, if I'm going to go into exactly why Combat is such a fucking mess, I need to tell you about one of the worst decisions in all of AdEva, the Operations Director. So, if you know the show, there was a NERV officer who served as Shinji's chaperone and direct commanding officer. Misato Katsuragi was a pretty popular character. So of course her archetype gets turned into a PC class. The problem is, the Ops Director is not a kid, and does not pilot a giant robot, in this, the game about a group of kids who pilot giant robots.
The other problem is the OD adds a bunch more unnecessary, time-wasting subsystems to the game, and is intentionally created to cause the Decker Problem as if this was somehow a good thing. For those not familiar, the Decker Problem refers to the problem in early Shadowrun where the Decker plugs into the matrix to perform a complex subsystem, while everyone else gets some pizza and talks about the game last night or something. There are a ton of things that only the OD interacts with. On purpose. There's also some really weird changes to the design of the OD in 2.5 compared to V2 to try to also make them a badass superspy on the ground, at the same time as the game as switched from encouraging pilots to investigate the plots and conspiracies to declaring '14 year olds can't be batman!' and saying they should never do so.
That is, as an aside, a really weird change between the edition I ran and this one. In V2, you were actively encouraged to have investigation sections and the players trying to unravel what the hell was going on if they wanted to get into that. There were also actual plot hooks and suggestions for out of combat adventures, like the PCs being invited to meet important politicians and funding being on the line based on how well a bunch of traumatized teens comport themselves at a state dinner. Those were actually kind of fun. I miss that kind of thing. In 2.5, that's all out of both the core and GM book. Pilots also used to be reasonably dangerous (as per DH Acolytes, so not worldbeaters, but on par with a normal soldier) outside their entry plug because many of their skills translated over. That's explicitly gone with lots of admonition that pilots should be helpless outside their Evas.
This creates a situation where, if you want to do Conspiracy Stuff by the book as written, the OD plays Dark Heresy (normal) as a Super Acolyte while everyone else does, um, something. Then the OD exposits at them later. This is done to avoid actual exposition, which the book says is boring. The OD also has a ton of stuff only they interact with, to make up for the fact that they do not get to actually play the main mechanical point of complexity in the game (shooting a giant alien with an explosive chaingun). Some of what they can do is useful; they're good at shouting encouragement to panicking PCs or sometimes pulling out bonuses to hand out at a critical moment. Some of it is useless; they command all conventional forces on the field in a game where most of the time conventional forces are, by design, a total waste of time.
The biggest point of design in the OD is their stat growths: They're good at every single stat in the game except SR, because theirs is 0. They're Excellent at Strength, Toughness, Perception, Intelligence, and Fellowship. They're meant to be much more competent (in general) than the pilots. They also get all kinds of normal Dark Heresy stuff because they're essentially playing Dark Heresy while occasionally yelling at some kids in a robot and commanding some doomed tanks. The game even acknowledges the OD is basically playing a parallel, different game than the pilots. It's also very eager to point out the OD is in command and can order the pilots around. It gives a little bit about how you should be careful with who you make OD but given the earlier stuff in Assets and Drawbacks, and later stuff coming in the GM's guide, this is actually a warning flag for me in this game.
The OD gets their own entire tree of talents to interact with their subsystems, because of fucking course they do and this is why this book is 260 pages long without a core resolution mechanic, bestiary, or anything else. It needs an equal length GM's guide to run the game! I'm just going to keep harping on that because it's awful. They can do stuff like call for more useless mooks, buff the useless mooks (they remain useless unless a PC is neutralizing the enemy, and even then they're not very), call in an N2 Strike at the cost of a Fate Point (Antimatter bomb), hand out actual buffs to the PCs which is the main useful thing they do, and do superspy stuff. They get abilities like 'Burn Fate to say that NPC works for me and has been doing so the whole game secretly' or 'Spend Fate to arrive through the window as the pilots are in danger, with a gun'. Which are kind of fun, but the problem is it's still a different game. If the pilots are in danger, given how pilots on the ground play now, that's just Ops Director o'Clock and they don't really have much of a role in the scene.
Similar, all the spying and investigating stuff is the OD doing it on their own, while the pilots do something else. The OD also does ALL of the basebuilding and picks the Research for the team; they have sole control of all resource management in those subsystems. There's also a phase of combat where you command Conventional Forces trying to slow down the angel for some reason (It's a waste of time). The OD does that alone. The OD somehow plays too much and not enough at the same time. Plus, they're often not with the pilots because they're off doing their spying or paperwork or adult things, to the extent that the game suggests giving the OD's player a second PC who is just a schoolmate or peer of the pilots to play with them so they don't get left out in pilot centric episodes.
Think about this. All of this is stupid. All of this is going to split a group's attention, and is an excuse to introduce a shitton of subsystems that only exist because the OD exists as a PC. Also, let's take something like our buddy Asuka: The OD counts for purposes of her Mental Conditioning and her Guillible, so the OD's player could effectively control her PC by giving her orders, RAW. Also, with the creepy shit from earlier, I'd be really wary of introducing an adult PC with actual authority over the other PCs in a game with Unshippable. That's how you get Bliss Stage, AdEva. Do you want Bliss Stage? Please don't fucking answer that, I know the answer.
There's also just the fact that the ODs in the games I've played in basically all ended up mostly irrelevant and useless. In play, the class just doesn't contribute that much that's necessary. The book also suggests basically punishing your group if you don't have one by having the GM take control of all resource distribution instead of the players, and by generally feeding them information via NPCs rather than actually having them involved investigation of the conspiracy or whatever. I got some better advice for you, AdEva: If the players aren't going to be involved in a portion of the game, don't fucking bother. Also, without an OD, you remove the Conventional Forces. Oh no, whatever will we do without descriptions of hundreds of UN soldiers being murdered by kaiju without being able to hurt them? That's a really critical part of the game that requires extra hours of playtime.
Similar, the OD just breaks the game's premise. The premise of the game is Giant Robits and Teenagers. A character who operates wholly outside of it, and has to play a totally different game, requires splitting off a ton of time, effort, and energy to run two campaigns at once, and while the GM is attending to one, the other has nothing to do. The Conventional Forces are similarly a narrative issue: If they CAN kill an angel, you're in a position where the Evas aren't really necessary and a lot of the stuff about them ends up looking silly (since part of the premise is it takes an AT Field equipped Eva to kill an angel). But similarly, if they can't hurt one, why bother playing them out on the field and wasting time? You're really just rolling to kill 3d100 UN troopers and create d1000 orphans at that point.
If I was to redo the OD, I'd make them an NPC the players design from a pool of points and bonuses and buffs, creating a sympathetic adult who hands out cheerleading bonuses as a resource the whole group spends together in combat. A shared 'this is the guy or gal we can depend on at work, and here's what they do for us' NPC would do more for the game while keeping the focus on the whole group of players, and on hitting a giant flaming wheel of eyes with a right cross before getting turned down for the prom. Which is what it's really all about.
Next Time: Okay, FINALLY, Asuka Uses Gun On Angel
Roll for goddamn everything.
Original SA post
Roll for goddamn everything.
So, combat. At a certain level, if I'm being honest, I wouldn't actually mind AdEva missing the point of Evangelion entirely to be a combat game. I love mech fighting, I love tinkering with mechs, a game where Asuka pulls a chaingun and blows away some imaginative cosmic horror with HE shells while Shinji passes out in the cockpit and lets the mech do all the fighting and there's also a wizard and a tank around too would be fun. It wouldn't really be Eva, but it would be fun.
The problem is the entire combat engine is dogshit. We won't be getting to the bestiary and how to design angels for some time, but suffice to say DH is NOT made for 3-5 on 1 boss fights. Every single angel they built for the system is a shitty gimmick boss (which, to be fair, show accurate) because in a straight fight they'd get action economied into the ground. Everything about the combat system is designed to conceal the lack of actual tactical depth behind a lot of random rolling and...you guessed it! SUBSYSTEMS! That's like, the Dev Team's one move.
Let's start off with our next unnecessary subsystem! When you detect the angel, roll to see where you intercept! 10% chance you intercept them in the ocean, 25% on land, 25% 'near your base', 30% chance they make it right outside the base before you know they're there, 9% chance they somehow GOT INSIDE YOUR BASE (a giant fucking kaiju, mind you. Some of them have wizard powers but STILL) and 1% chance they're not detected until they're in the base's 'geofront' and near their goal, which will kill everyone. You roll to see if they go through a city. You pick your battleground. You do all kinds of shit and the region you fight in will determine if you have turrets, conventional forces, where you'll have traps, power sources, how much collateral you'll do and fuck I just want to punch a wheel made of eyes goddamnit.
Now let's think of why this is total horseshit. One element of an engaging serious encounter in a tactical RPG is planning the fucking map
. Plotting out where there'll be cover, what areas the enemy(ies) will try to go, where objectives are, what needs protecting. Randomly rolling to see where you fight the fucking thing is the opposite of that! You want to carefully plan these encounters because every single one is supposed to be a significant setpiece
. But here's the game, expecting you to randomly roll and then what, to have prepared six fucking battlemaps? Have the people who designed this game ever GMed? Do they have any idea what they're actually asking the GM to do?
We get a totally unnecessary section on what we already know: You kill an angel by breaking its AT field (or using weapons that can Breach it), damaging its body until it's critted into being open, and then destroying the Core. If you're a really good shot/fighter, you can go right for the Core and skip step 2. The Core is the only actually vital organ an angel has; if you don't destroy the big red ball somewhere on the thing's anatomy, it will regenerate its body eventually no matter what you do to it. In practice, if you disable an angel with crits and it's down for a couple rounds, the Eva kick circle will have no trouble blasting the Core. No-one involved in designing this game understood that '2-3 rounds where I can't move or dodge' means 'dead as fuck' in Dark Heresy, especially when you're the only foe on the field. So in practice do Step 2 and Step 3 is a formality.
Next we get another dumb, boring add on. You run a Defensive Line of conventional units, with no Eva support and no way to hurt the angel, while it tries to advance forward. If you can stop it for 6 turns (I'm not sure how, the thing is immune to all your fire and under no obligation to shoot your units) the Evas will get deployed with some minor bonuses and you'll get more conventional backup in the actual fight. The faster it bypasses you or kills all conventional units on the Defense Line (which, again, why would it? They're 0 threat. All it has to do is move forward) the less ready the Evas are. Winning the Defense Line will give all your units +1 Power (there's a Power System for units) in the upcoming battle, and give pilots a bonus on Fear tests because if the angel is that much of a stupid dipshit it can't be a big deal. Again, you have nothing that can actually stop the angel. The most you can hope for is a few trick units and traps that can slow its advance. The only way this phase matters at all is if the GM decides it does, in which case why are we playing it out? Almost none of the bonuses for winning matter. Also, only the OD plays the game at this point.
The OD gets all kinds of abilities to add to Defense Lines, but...again, all the angel has to do is just keep motoring and it wins. There's no rules for drawing its aggression or how it behaves. You have no mechanical levers to actually interact with beyond the fact that a few of the extra tricks you can pull in may slow the angel's movement. Nothing you fire can hope to do damage.
And you know, let's back up and talk about what it would mean if you could
. When I ran back in V2, Deflection was a 10% chance per point of deflecting attacks. I used the Defense Line rules once or twice before realizing this was time-wasting horseshit, but even worse? Once, the conventionals won. Yeah, that's right. A low Deflection angel got unlucky and got its head blown off by rail-tanks that then cored it before they could deploy the Evas early in the campaign. It was kind of cool as a one time thing, but it undermines the premise a bit and more importantly, it's kind of a huge anticlimax. But if that can't happen and the conventionals can't even injure the angel, why even play out the section? Why push tanks around and fire guns and shit when they just bounce? It's because this section is meant to be misery porn and something for the OD to do. It's there for military wank and their dumb side fiction about hard military men yelling about how their boys are dying while those DUMB KIDS throw fits about having to fight. That's right there in the chapter fiction. It's a dumb waste of time that thinks it's adding complexity and raising stakes.
Next, the Evas finally fucking launch and mostly fight like normal DH. You also scan the angel with the MAGI supercomputers at base and maybe get some information on it. Fighting in a developed are causes collateral. Fighting in an undeveloped area causes less. You win by more if you cause less. Undeveloped areas have less turrets, generators, etc to back Evas up, but the turrets and conventionals are still mostly useless even if you open the angel up for them. The actual rules for conventionals are all in the OD section, but each unit has a Power to show how many of them there are and get little special attacks and minor support moves to back up the Evas at higher powers. They're mostly fucking useless. There's an entire mass combat system that doesn't matter just so the OD can push units around the map while the Eva units, who actually matter, win the battle. Each wound dealt kills 1 power of units, etc, and so an angel will just fucking murder every individual unit with each attack. The most useful units are the VTOLs that come out to drop gear and ammo and batteries for Evas, really.
They give a big spiel about how you're in a giant robot, ready for combat, and confident going in, so you don't make Fear tests like normal DH. Until you get within 20dam (you know, the range to Neutralize, or actually breach the field), the monster causes you any Insanity or Ego damage, or it beats an Eva. Any time it does this, you roll Fear with its normal Fear rating (so -0 to -30. Remember: All pilots besides the ATT have poor Willpower advances and few anti-fear Talents until very late. They're going to get fucked). There's an even worse than normal Shock table you roll on, at d100+10 per DoF on the Fear test. If you get over 130 on that table that pilot is insta-defeated by Fear
and cannot participate in the battle. That kind of shit. Once you've failed a Fear test during a fight, you stop testing, but if you succeed you keep testing every time the conditions happen, which puts you at even more jeopardy than the shitty DH Fear rules normally do.
When it's over, you check Collateral Damage. You inflict Collateral by using any AoE attacks (more the larger they are), firing on full auto (unless all rounds land), being deployed at all (1 per Eva just for playing, thanks!), losing limbs, going Berserk, or being defeated. Also, the angel probably causes a bunch when it explodes into a cross on being killed.
After the fight, you get Surplus (used to build more conventionals and turrets, so useless) and if you got 10 or less Collateral (very hard to do), you get 20 Research. 15 if you got 11-15. 10+d5 if 16-25. Just 10 if more than that, and less and less Surplus and shit. Also, the book tells you millions of people suffer worldwide for the cost to repair and maintain your Evas if you take too much. Yay.
Evas also have their own crit tables! I'm not going to produce these in detail, but let's just say losing limbs sucks (you often get stuns, insanity, etc). Losing your head kills your Eva. Losing your Body kills your Eva and might kill your pilot, usually having 20-30% odds of crushing the cockpit for d100 damage or merely doing d10+10 vs. your TB and couple Plugsuit AV. Also, if your Eva is defeated, you try to eject. You also suffer Ego damage based on the number of Wounds and Critical Wound you took (1 per Wound, 2 per Crit). Ejecting is insanely dangerous. You only have a 10% chance of everything working and getting you safely out of combat. You have better odds of the ejector trapping you in your dead Eva and causing it more damage (or boiling you in the LCL for d10 more damage from a thruster misfire) than of everything properly working to get you to safety. Also good chances of wounds from a hard landing or your cockpit landing where someone can step on it. Who the fuck designed these ejection seats!?
If you're really losing, they can deploy an antimatter mine against the enemy to try to slow it. Somehow this won't kill it, or you (AT Fields!) but will do massive collateral damage and kill everyone else within 10km. This is obviously bad. The OD can get the ability to call in these N2 strikes, for whatever reason. They do hurt the angel, a little, and might give you time to repair and re-engage, but eh. If you've lost so badly that they're using the N2 mines, you've probably lost your campaign.
So that's combat. Look at how unnecessary almost every part of that was. Oh, also, no angel stats or rules until the GM's book, so Asuka still
can't shoot a fucking angel with her chaingun. She's getting impatient as hell! Look at what a mess all of that information was. None of it is fun to play. It's just a bunch of ritual steps before you get to a pretty basic boss fight at the end, usually with a dumb gimmick. Also, Collateral makes AoE weapons a huge drawback and often not worth using, and only Research really matters among your spoils at the end of battles.
AdEva is a game that ignores basically everything about its source material's actual themes or structure in favor of being a combat game. It is a really shitty
combat game. Not a single fight in this game was actually memorable enough that I remember it 8-9 years later. The fights are the boring part. The fun part was playing characters and dealing with insane situations. And yet this book is 200+ pages of rules for those boring fights, with no actual material on anything else!
Fucking hell this game is a trainwreck!
Next Time: Pointless Base Building Minigame.
You Must (Not) Construct Additional Pylons
Original SA post
You Must (Not) Construct Additional Pylons
You knew there'd be a base-building minigame, right? Subsystems! Once again, this is a subsystem only the OD really interacts with. The players will live on your giant NERV base and spend all their time going to school on an on-base school, probably in a fortified city like in the show. There'll be hidden secrets below the base, like in the show, that explain why the angels keep attacking this one specific place. Your job is to keep the goddamn angels out of here, because once one of those pricks gets in there's no stopping Third Impact. Given Second Impact annihilated an entire continent, this is something to avoid unless you're the inevitable insane doomsday cult that's actually running NERV. And even they only want it to happen on their timetable, under their conditions; it's only fun when they
do it. No angels allowed.
They also come up with some bases for you, and by giving each base a distinct mechanical effect but absolutely no guidelines in what mechanics to give any future bases you make, they make it much more awkward to pick your own base location. Also, the Boston Base is absolutely the best one, because you start with +20 Research. That puts you one adventure off unlocking, say, Heavy Progressive or Chain weapons (or a good way towards Positron). Given almost every melee weapon base is actually T1, getting a Progressive Spear or something (d10+3+SB Pen3 Breach 2+ATS? With Tearing?) early on is a really good deal. The other bonuses are an extra Weapon Upgrade for everyone if you start in Berlin, -1 to Collateral cost for a defeated Eva in Hamburg (Useless), Recessive Buildings (Take less Collateral for fighting in a city) for Tokyo-3 (they have lost two (2) prior Tokyos), or a tiny number of extra conventional turrets for Area 51 (lol). Okay, so, compare those: A battle or two's research progress, kickstarting your entire tech development and putting you ahead of the game, or a grab bag of mostly meh abilities.
Every single Evangelion pilot has a Boston Accent now. All of them.
There's also wishy-washy suggestions for a sea-based campaign where you fight at sea using the awful crush depth/sea equipment rules. There's a suggestion of having a giant helicarrier for, uh, reasons. No, I don't know why you'd bother, I guess they just wanted to write about it and not really give any useful suggestions for doing it because they think it looks cool. Also a generic 'Oh what if you really play up how magical and spooky angels are and be Lovecraftian!!!' suggestion. To be fair, AdEva DOES have a better ruleset than Cthulhutech if you just want to play Cthulhutech. The real solution is to play neither.
You start each campaing with one (1) Pallet Rifle and Prog Knife for each Eva, as well as a wing-dock to sheath the prog knife in. You have the Magi supercomputers to provide unnecessary Christian imagery. You get some shitty prototypes of the environmental gear in case you have an adventure that calls for them without the OD having read the GM's mind and picked the right envirosuits to waste money on for the Evas. You get one carrier plane to airdrop each Eva in case you need to do an intercept (no idea how a single plane carries a 40m tall robot). Note that airdropping without the A Type Jump Jets is very dangerous to both Eva and pilot. You also get some mobile support batteries and the OD gets to place a bunch of support structures around the base.
You also get to build more structures or order environmental gear with the bonus Surplus money you get after good battles. There's all sorts of minor traps and things you can put down to make the OD feel useful and cool. Some of them might even help a little. All of it is a huge waste of time given how much time you're expected to spend on it. I know when I think Evangelion I think tedious base building minigame. I guess if you max out turrets and build in the Rail Turret system they do d10+10 Pen5 once per round with 0 DoS, so if you've Neutralized the angel completely that's useful damage. If it has even a single point of Deflect left they bounce off, though. Unless you build the Maser turrets, which do d10+10 Pen0 but gain Breach 5 when maxed, so that might actually help, too. Not a lot, but hey. Misato needs to feel useful.
You also get some advice about the characters for a NERV base, namely that you should have some. I'm not being sarcastic, that's about the long and short of their advice. They list a bunch of official positions and say 'well someone should be in this position and they should be important and give people information' but there's nothing about making these people interesting or how they really interact with the players besides saying your Designated Gendo probably rarely does. It also compares the Designated Gendo to an Inquisitor in DH and has a big speech from an in-character Commander about 'MORALITY IS THE SACRIFICE TO WIN THIS VICTORY!!!!!' because that's the groundbreaking fluff writing we come to AdEva for. They suggest the Vice Commander should be a foil for the Gendo instead of a full character, which is an odd suggestion when the GM is playing both characters. There's a lot of implication the GM is going to be playing multiple 'Bridge Bunnies' (their term for the command deck officers) yelling exposition at each other like in the show. That's engaging gameplay.
Every character is written about what they'll exposit about. There's nothing about giving these people relationships or building their relationships with the PCs. There's no actual character to any of the character suggestions, here in a game that's supposed to be all about character driven drama. But that shouldn't be a surprise. These people write like a goddamn TVTropes page.
Also you probably have something important in the basement that only your Gendo and SEELE or SEELE stand in know about.
And that's it for the base building. It's a vestigial subsystem that doesn't need to exist, even moreso than most of the other ones. Which is really a fitting note to end the mechanical writeup for the corebook on.
Because next time, we're getting into the goddamn fluff and 'worldbuilding' as the writers miss the point some more.
Next Time: World a'splode
Pen Pen, No!
Original SA post
Pen Pen, No!
So, in the show Evangelion, something called Second Impact happened. It was really bad. It annihilated the entire continent of Antarctica. Just gone. There's a reason we're on Tokyo 3, and it's because Tokyo 1 is underwater and I'm not entirely sure what happened to Tokyo 2. Within the context of the show, this is partly to show that we really want to avoid 'Third Impact', partly to show that these conspiracy chucklefucks that make up some of the adult cast of the story are responsible, partly because some shots of old flooded Tokyo are cool, and partly to explain why the UN is somehow in charge of the world. Also, Eva was made in the 90s; UN In Charge Of The World wasn't that uncommon in the 90s. You do find out a little about what happened; the Katsuragi Expedition tried a 'contact experiment' with what they thought was the progenitor of humankind. It wasn't. It was Adam, the progenitor of angels, and he was real pissed about being woken up and so turned into some kind of giant of light (which obviously resembled an Eva) and somehow the big red spear got involved (I think) and then Antarctica exploded.
This is why a penguin lives with Shinji. He is a refugee.
Still, in the original background, the exact political situation that leads to the UN (and the doomsday cult conspiracy) being in power is vague, because it isn't that important to the story. The story isn't really about political maneuvering. Can you guess what AdEva's going to give us a bunch of? And that it's all going to be really bad? When it's left more vague, you can buy 'Shit got fucked on a scale unimaginable in human history, people band together to try to rebuild, Japanese boy takes in a hyper-penguin to do his part'. Bam, that's backstory, on to the real story. When you add in a ton of direct detail, you have a lot more room for shit to be laughably wrong. And totally irrelevant to the kind of story Evangelion is trying to tell. Hell, it would even be pretty irrelevant to 'Giant Robot X-COM', and the more I've been writing this review the more I wish The Game Nise Asuka Thinks She's Playing existed because I would play the hell out of Giant Robot X-COM.
Also, this next section includes nothing about The Conspiracy because this is the Player Book and players shouldn't see any of those kinds of details about your setting! They need to be surprised. There's no mention of SEELE at any point in the player handbook anymore; this is a marked change from V2, because what's the point in hiding SEELE when most of your players have probably seen Eva?
So anyway, we get more details on the exact effects of Second Impact and they officially hit a 'I'm calling bullshit on recognizable human society existing' point. According to the book, the explosion stressed the planet's mantle so bad the Yellowstone Caldera erupted and the force knocked the planet into a new orbit. Not to mention the loss of the entire southern polar ice cap. Tsunamis wrecked the entire global south and drowned Australia, coastal cities throughout the planet were lost, and '2 billion people died in the first 19 hours'. The 'panicked human locust swarm of refugees' from the worst affected regions caused terrible wars. India and Pakistan exterminated one another entirely with WMDs for reasons, removing the entire Indian subcontinent according to the authors. The book claims that the wars of Second Impact destroyed 'London and Tokyo 1' but that while Russia, China, and the US all went to war for various reasons no-one actually pulled out the ICBMs. I'm just shaking my head at the refugee 'locust swarms'.
Seeing that shit was fucked, Europe turned over all its armies to the UN for...reasons. Then the UN somehow convinced Russia that it could keep Eastern Europe if it joined and turned over its army. There's no talk of how a victorious China (they took over almost all of their neighbors and became even more of a superpower) was convinced to sign up. The US signed up so that the UN would 'take care of the South American problem' because South America was A: Pretty fucked up from the explosion of a continent and B: Has of course remained a lawless savage mad-max hellhole and keeps sending those 'locust' swarms. Seriously, you can read a lot into the authors' politics from all of this. Anyway, look at how much less
plausible this is than the barebones 'some awful shit happened, we came together and empowered the UN so we don't all starve to death'. Plus, that had the value of obviously being minor backstory rather than getting a detailed explanation of how it happened. Here, we've got WWIII happening in a post-apocalyptic world but somehow the shattered western Europeans (who should already have been part of NATO and thus were already an international alliance) handing the UN their armies and somehow that makes the UN a superpower that makes Russia back down and do the same? They don't even bother talking about why China would bother, especially as China was doing really well in their backstory. China survived the Impact well, had a fully intact army, was expanding its borders, and then just...stops and hands everything to the UN, too.
Oh, they explain China later: China suffered a revolution while in the midst of taking over its neighbors and the communist party somehow fell despite China at the same time having one of the most intact and powerful militaries and states in the world. Then they were invaded by and humiliated by the UN and completely crushed and made to be subservient. All without any WMD use. The UN then turned around and told all territory China took over that it had to be part of China now and helped China put down any pro-independence protests. The UN is kind of bipolar like that I guess. China also bought the rights to re-colonize Australia because they need more space. The most important part of China for Eva is that the UN outsources all the manufacturing of Eva weaponry to China. None of the rest of this ridiculous Tom Clancy bullshit where China is at once a superpower that takes all its neighbors and at the same time a weak nation easily humiliated by a western military alliance actually matters to the giant robot punching.
Oh also China nuked Tokyo because Japan looked like it wanted to save its wonderful friends the Koreans. Of course.
Russia did what Russia do and took the opportunity to attack Eastern Europe. MAD kept anyone from using nukes (aside from what happened to Tokyo and somehow London? I don't even know who nuked London. They just say London was nuked 'from beneath its streets' so, uh, I guess SEELE did London for Reasons? Had to destroy the magic mace that is the Queen I guess) during all this WWIII Clancy bullshit, because no-one is going to miscalculate or panic while the entire world is falling apart and at war. Russia would have taken over all of Europe but was stopped by severe famine. Russia then joins the UN for no real reason but because they have to for the plot to work. Later they imply Russia is reliant on the UN for food, which is a slightly better reason, but still. Also, they gave up their nuclear deterrent to the UN and has become the UN's space agency.
The US lost its president (to being assassinated by SEELE for reasons), its coasts, and the giant fucking super volcano erupting. Then the 'locust swarm' from Mexico showed up and the US ended up (if you read between the lines a little) enslaving the refugees to rebuild (they mention rebuilding was enabled by the camps of 'cheap Mexican immigrants' after all). It shifts the economy back to industry, booms, fixes itself, and then when the damage is fixed, somehow this causes a massive '22% drop in GDP' that economically destroys the nation? I would think having rebuilt everything would lead to better times. You can then use all the stuff you rebuilt, book. Your entire economy doesn't just collapse the minute you don't need to build more roads anymore; now you move the economy to using those roads to move goods and people. The US has shining coastal cities rebuilt with systems of dikes to reclaim the land and kept clean of the riffraff, and then sad bundles of refugees and the unemployed elsewhere. Also it made Canada join it. Take that, War of 1812!
Also there's no explanation of why or even really if the US joined the UN. They just kind of did. Like Russia. They'll later claim it's all The Conspiracy, but c'mon.
Germany's doing well and 'totally could have beaten Russia on its own'. France is being France and has become a major center of the new UN. England is 'efficiency arising from tragedy' with its new 'England First' policies and dead royal family. A nationalistic England, that cares about England and England alone, has rebuilt its nation, it's strength, and its pride!!! What was this written by, a Brexiteer? Israel destroyed the Middle East with 'the Samson Option', going crazy with nukes as it collapsed in the early post-Impact chaos so that the authors don't have to write a Middle East at all. Any surviving countries like Turkey shoot refugees on sight. Central and South America are mad max hellscapes. Libya is stable and intact, as is Egypt (lol). Africa 'was never in the best of shape to begin with' and is even worse now. Saudi Arabia somehow survived the generic 'The Middle East is Nuked' plotline with its 'hyper competent defensive forces' and again, lol.
And, that's AdEva's version of the backstory. Tell me, does that add anything to your game of FEELINGS and ROBOT FISTFIGHT? No. Not only is it stupid (and pretty revealing of both the profound ignorance and politics of the authors) but it's all just a pointless distraction. Second Impact matters mostly as something to set the stakes, to tell you that the last time people fucked around with the stuff NERV and SEELE fuck around with an entire continent exploded and it caused a new global order. We don't need all of this terrible Clancyfic wank, because the point of the Impact isn't 'oh man let's have some awesome milwank wars!!!' but rather 'The previous generation fucked the world pretty hard' and 'Also don't fuck around with Adam, nothing good happens'. The details don't fucking matter you dumb nerds!
But you know, it's only going to get worse from here. Because you see, that was the end of the Player Book. Next time, join me as we get into the deep secrets of the GM's Guide (which again, is necessary to run the game at all, so I'm counting them both as one book for review) and we get into The Game Asuka Has Actually Signed Up For.
Next Time: Terrible GMing advice and The Implication
You Must (Not) GM Like This
Original SA post
You Must (Not) GM Like This
This is probably the worst part of the entire game. The GM's book is a huge disaster of a book, even worse than the Player's Guide. The Player's Guide has some hidden creepy implications and basically everything about that backstory/setting fluff (I certainly did 9 years ago; I checked my copy of V2 and the awful fluff is still there. I mostly just ignored that bit I suppose), but it's mostly a bunch of wank about subsystems and badly written rules. A reasonable person could ignore/miss much of that and make a character like our version of Auska expecting to play Giant Robot X-COM and maybe have a twist where their boss turns out to be evil. The GM's guide (and experiences with the game itself when played outside of the people I know and trust as my regular group) are why I say this game is actually creepy as hell.
First, we get an archaic warning about 'No! No players in here! This is GM country, for powerful and great GMs!' One of the things I hate about this book is the implication that GMing is a position of power or privilege, the status of a great creator/author who has a Vision they're going to show to the players. There's a lot of keeping secrets from your players here, a desire to surprise them with sudden twists in premise and setting. There's an idea that the GM is telling a super important, deep, and mature story, and their vision matters. For instance, they say you shouldn't stick too close to Eva because even if your players aren't familiar with the series, they could figure out all your twists
by watching it and then what would you be left with? This says a lot about how they view writing. And of course, the characters can't get along; this is Eva. Now, on one hand, that's true. But there's something about the way they promote the negative relationships and flaws of the characters that just sets my teeth on edge. There's a constant 'you're being a bad GM if people are comfortable' implication in their writing about GMing that goes counter to all good GMing sense.
In essence, the writers don't understand the difference between portraying dysfunctional characters and having a dysfunctional table. At all points, you're urged to make things worse, promote conflict, and especially promote unhealthy relationships and power dynamics that translate badly into group play. And you do this all without any talk of safety mechanisms. I use the example of Monsterhearts as an example of a better version of this kind of play because it's a game concerned with keeping a table from being uncomfortable while playing Love Disasters. It's similarly game about adolescent protagonists making terrible mistakes in the face of stressful situations and angst. And more importantly, it's got a bunch of safety rails on it, like the way no-one can Turn Your Character On without your consent. No-one can just roll dice to demand you want to fuck them. Meanwhile, here, we've got the constant implication that lots of Social Skills are going to get used on PCs the same way they're used on NPCs
; multiple Assets provide bonuses against being Charmed, Unshippable exists, and then there's stuff like Asuka's 'Make a WP to disobey any
order from a NERV officer'. Now a reasonable person might assume that means Asuka is going to have a dramatic moment later where she has to make WP or else she'll turn on her friends or something, who will then have to beat her robot and rescue her from mind control or something. That's why she has it; in her case it would be a reasonable player taking that to build in a plot hook about conspiracies. But the way the game is written that's probably not how it ends up.
Now, I've talked a lot about Implication here; maybe I'm overreacting, right? Maybe it's all just awkward fan writing. No. See, under the 'Mood and Lethality' section, they talk about how to properly GM this game, the players will have to accept 'A certain degree of sexual imagery' in among the normal wank about horrific fates for PCs and 'hopelessness'. The only thing to assess about that is if it's 'hurting player interest in the game'; your goal, according to this GM's guide, is solely to keep them playing your game, not to address actual concerns or discomfort at the table. Here's a direct quote: "If the players come to you with serious concerns about the direction events are taking, you should consider your options. Don't allow yourself to be bullied into a direction contrary to your plans
." It talks about maintaining some awareness of 'OOC consequences' but only in the context that if you kill off PCs or something their player might be bored and leave the game. It's entirely about how to keep the players in your fucking magical realm.
One of my players, on re-reading the books and talking about all this with me (years after playing the game together), articulated it best. What bugged him was the sense that all of the power games and things are through implication, and only really come to the fore when you read the GM's guide and see their attitude about how to handle worries about sexual imagery or themes, or other serious concerns about a game's direction. It knows what it's doing and it keeps it hidden in The Implication, because then you get a character like Nise Asuka taking what they think is a plot hook and then turns into horrible magical realm bullshit at the table. This is borne out by my experience, wherein I made a PC for an ongoing group, designed the backstory and everything, and then when I came in and was already part of the game, was only then
informed the party's adult pilot was in a pedophilic relationship with my PC's daughter. Or the guy who was in one of my games who later asked me why 'the girls weren't liking his PC' and asked me as GM to use my position to make the game a harem anime for his male pilot since the rest of the squad were girls (played by, you know, actual players). I ejected the guy, sure, but what he thought I was going to do for him as a GM said a lot
, especially in concert with that other experience.
So yeah, I'm not being too harsh on this. Stuff like the implementation of the OD, the constant insistence on making the pilots more helpless, the poor WP stats, the existence of Unshippable, etc all implied a lot. But the GMing chapter saying 'Don't be bullied out of your vision!!!' and solely treating player concerns as 'how do you keep them in your game so you can keep being DEEP to them' is the final nail in the fucking creepy coffin. Everything that's come before makes the focus on 'surprising' players really sinister. Now, a reasonable group of healthy players and GMs are not going to automatically turn this game into awfulness. But what pisses me off is that the GMing advice and previous structure of the game definitely enables and encourages doing so, thinking it makes the game 'deep' for people to be uncomfortable.
On a less creepy level, the GMing advice just isn't good GMing advice. For instance, on 'keeping players interested', it's all about how much plot you give them, not about paying attention to what they want out of the game. If I had Shinji and Nise Asuka as PCs in my game, I'd want to have a talk with them about differing expectations and how both could have a good time playing the nervous normal kid and the wannabe supersoldier. You could navigate those two PCs concepts and make a game they'd both enjoy with some work. Instead, the focus here is on who gets plot spotlights, when, and how you should give more plot time to the people more interested in your game but not so much that the people who were already bored check out. Also, you should totally give the OD a kid NPC to play too so they can always be playing the game while also having their own solo adventures on the side, because God knows they're not awkward enough for a group yet.
There's also a bunch on how to pace out the campaign and advancement, with the goal of making sure players only actually get their high level abilities late in a campaign. It's mostly boring.
The emphasis on 'keeping players' over 'happy players' is also really, really bad from a GMing standpoint. The goal of GMing is not to inflict your grand vision on your players. It's to enable your friends having a good time and exploring ideas while doing something creative. Yes, I like to try to tell stories I think are worthwhile when I GM. I write about stuff I think matters, silly elfgames or no. But if a player came to me and told me 'I really don't like this theme and it makes me uncomfortable' I would be happy to discuss how we can remove it from the game or alter the course of events. This is a collaborative medium and your players have a say in what they're participating in. Because my players are my goddamn friends, and hurting my friends so I can pretend I wrote the great American novel in an elfgame is fucking stupid. You can deal with tragic, horrific, and awful things in an RPG without actually making people uncomfortable and unhappy OOC. If you're writing about abusive relationships, depression, isolation, and the things Eva is actually about, you better goddamn well put some safety rails on your game because you're going to need them. Not talk about 'not being bullied' out of your 'vision' for events.
In short, fuck AdEva. The best part is the rest of the GMing advice is going to be a laundry list of telling us the writers don't know a goddamn thing about writing or storytelling, so that 'grand vision' they gotta not be bullied out of isn't even going to be interesting.
Next Time: Window Dressing
It's a conspiracy
Original SA post
It's a conspiracy
So, what's this grand fucking story you're going to tell, with its 'certain amount of sexual imagery' and all? What are these amazing secrets and twists the GM needs to keep from the players? The next chapter is going to be all about what the idiots writing this think
are good writing prompts, cool alternate conspiracies, etc. If anything, everything here only makes me more angry at the sections before it, because fucking hell, this is what they think is worthwhile plotting?
So, obviously, we get SEELE. You know, I don't actually remember much about SEELE from the show. You know why I don't? Because they actually don't matter that much. Well, they do; they exist to drive the plot, and to further drive home that Gendo Ikari is a bastard and that Shinji's fervent desire for his father's approval is misplaced because the man should not be emulated nor admired in any way. SEELE is a mysterious council of mysterious conspirators who want mysterious things and who are clearly kind of a doomsday cult based on the idea of 'human instrumentality', a transcendent idea that eventually the individual and the AT Field will be done away with entirely and everyone will become a sea of tang that exists as a single grand gestalt consciousness.
As far as I remember, no reason is ever given for this, but given the themes of isolation and loneliness in the original, a powerful group yearning for all people to become one even if that erases all currently understood human existence certainly makes sense. Here, the authors claim it's because SEELE thinks humanity has reached its 'evolutionary limit' and will stagnate and decline, so they have to transcend and fucking hell. I don't think that was in the original, but if it was, I sure as hell don't remember it because I'm going to let you in on a secret: The Conspiracy's details aren't very important. They're an antagonistic force that drives the plot. We get a bunch on what each of the SEELE members might be, with one left generously open in case the GM wants to make up a conspirator.
Next we get our Original Conspiracies, Do Not Steal. The first is the Eigenhart Initiative, who are completely generic transhumanists who broke off from SEELE over the whole 'tang' proposal. They were not excited about tang, they wanted to live forever with robot bodies and see future cars. They also 'believe mankind has reached the end of their evolutionary potential' because Transhumanism and Eugenics have History. Eigenhart relies on SEELE existing in a campaign, since they're explicitly a splinter off of SEELE, which means you'll have two conspiracies for your players to barely interact with. They want exactly the opposite of SEELE and want to instead strengthen rather than collapse the human AT Field, since they believe this will lead to ubermenschen who can each define their own existence as they see fit. A lot of terms get thrown out in their description because it used to be at the end of the main book, and was moved here before any of these terms are explained, so 'they want a handful of powerful Tabbris-like individuals' doesn't make any goddamn sense yet. I know what Tabbris is, sure, it's Kaworu (a human-like angel), but that ain't coming up for another hundred or two pages. Hell, I don't even think Adam or Lillith have come up at this point, either. Anywhere.
Anyway, Eigenhart at least has a plausible campaign structure reason to exist, crazy as their plans are, too. They're there because there's a chance your players hack off SEELE, and given your players pilot giant robots that need a huge support structure to work, hey, look, alternate and competing conspiracy in case you need to run away and get someone else to maintain your robots. Which is a legitimate thing to have around, Eigenhart's actual goals are just so goddamn boring and generic, as is almost everything else about them. They're designed to provide a simple 'humanity fuck yeah' technophilic group that players can end up defecting to, because the authors are definitely sympathetic to Eigenhart's overall goals.
These two were the only two in V2. Eigenhart is generic but at least has a structural role it can fulfill (and a better writer could make something of their vision of the world being one of ultimate, separated, eternal loneliness). SEELE was always a plot element with some connection to some of the major central themes that mostly existed to drive action. We get two extra conspiracies in this book and they are both fucking stupid.
Charon is a group formed after a science experiment supposedly proved there was no afterlife and that souls just decay in the open after they die. Somehow, they have a plan to kill millions of people and then use those souls to construct an artificial afterlife, which will then suck in any other souls for as long as humans keep dying and give them a heaven. To do this they'll need a Pilot and their Eva, for reasons, who will also die and have their souls obliterated in the process. They will need to convert and court a willing PC pilot to do this. This is their entire thing. They exist to try to convince a PC to kill themselves and millions of people to make an afterlife because they got scared by some psuedoscience. This is dumb as all hell.
Societas Eruditorium is even worse. They're...literally just generic techbros who think that a world ruled by 'the wisest' will be a technocratic paradise. They think the world is set up to discriminate against the best and smartest and that the small destroy the great while using the fruits of their labor because no! Fuck! Get out of here, Ayn Rand! This is not your home! They want to gain a stranglehold on Eva technology, build the creepy Mass Produced Evas, and use them to take over the world. That's it. They've got no plans for instrumentality, no plans for transhumanism, they're just a bunch of mad scientists who want to invent how they can cut the pilots out of the process and make unstoppable superweapons. They also control dozens of agents throughout NERV's disgruntled nerds, upset their genius is not being recognized and eager to make Nerd Paradise based around 'enlightened authoritarianism' and 'a golden age of REASON'. The GMing advice on them talks up how incredibly powerful and awesome this conspiracy is, and how you'll need to plan carefully, otherwise the nerds will be invincible because they are too smart for your players and have agents at every level and control all technology and fucking hell this is dumb.
Look, at least Eigenhart pretended
to engage with the normal material at all. Idiot soul-wizards and The Techbros don't really have a place in a campaign. Not to mention there's no actual material put towards explaining how putting them in will shape a campaign. Do they replace SEELE? Are they side-villains? What is their actual purpose? What story do they tell? They're just assholes.
We also get a bunch of suggestions for Alternate Second Impacts, but they're again just presented as twists without any consideration. 'Oh, it was actually an asteroid and woke the slumbering angels' or 'it was a plague' or 'there's a rift in spacetime at the pole' and again, none of these ask why that twist would be more interesting or what kind of story it enables. They're just twists for the sake of twists. Also, still no actual explanation of Adam and Lillith, so the suggestion of 'It was LILLITH at the pole!' doesn't really do much until the next section.
Next Time: Pointless MacGuffins
Original SA post
So, it's time to talk about Adam, Lillith, and all the weird shit that might be under your base drawing monsters to you. Lillith and Adam are designations for incredibly powerful alien beings that landed on Earth a long time ago. They knocked one another out of it before either could fully create their intended paradigm of life on the rock-ball they'd landed on, and the LCL (tang) from Lillith accidentally kickstarted all life on earth. I can never remember exactly how much of that is from the show, but given Kaworu and the stuff he says I'm confident at least that the two paradigms of life definitely are. The angels are the children of Adam, and attack NERV to try to get at what they think is Adam, held below their base in the 'Terminal Dogma' vault. They're doing this to wake Adam back up so he can clear out all the Lillim-pattern life and get back to making a sweet angel planet for angels, with no humans and Lillim and where it's absolutely normal to be a flaming wheel made of eyes. That sounds like a pretty cool planet. Unfortunately, humans are on this planet. Anyway, in the original show it turns out Lillith is actually the weird as fuck thing crucified down in Terminal Dogma, not Adam. Adam is a tiny embryo in a box, because it turns out even he doesn't survive Antarctica getting vaporized unscathed.
Lillith and Adam weren't supposed to go to the same planet, supposedly. That was an accident. Since we are also accidents, waking Lillith up might not be helpful. Humans might be Lillim, but Lillith didn't mean to make them and might decide to Tang everybody and start over. Whether Lillith or Adam is under your base, you do not actually want either of them to wake up. One of those ends in death, the other potentially ends in tang and crosses, and you want to avoid End of Evangelion as much as possible. Also your Evas are probably made out of Adam. Or maybe Lillith. Also your dead mom. The point is, while Adam and Lillith as progenitors of two different paradigms of life is actually important to Evangelion (Kaworu is really important, after all) it always felt like it was more of a metaphor for having a dead mom and a bad dad (or in Kaworu's case, a dad whose orders mean 'you are going to have to kill the guy you love and everyone like him if you succeed and then exist forever in loneliness'. Adam is also not a good dad).
There is also the Lance of Longinous, which is the code-name for what seems to be an alien weapon found pinning Lillith in place. It's what keeps her locked down down there in the tang mines. It might be entirely necessary to keeping her dormant. It can also one-shot any angel and break any AT field when thrown. The problem is that it will reach escape velocity when you do this, and soon it will not be on Earth anymore, with no easy way to pull it out of orbit. If an angel gets it out of orbit, it will be bad. Also, Lillith (or Adam, depending on campaign) might start waking up if they aren't stabbed with it. I'm actually okay with the Lance as a gameplay thing; a last secret you can pull out when you're absolutely losing in the moment and the long term consequences don't matter, because if you don't throw this thing through that thing singing Handel's Messiah up in orbit we're all fucked now
(as they did in Eva). Adam vs. Lillith or whatever locked up in the basement doesn't really make a lot of difference in a game. Having the option of responding to a loss with the alien artifact you barely understand that will have consequences later? That's at least a neat story decision.
Now we get into the stuff they made up rather than took from the show, and it's a lot more dull. Eva Type 0 is an Eva that is an actual clone of Adam or Lillith rather than being designed based on their children. It's a hyper-prototype that kills the pilot because it's too powerful to drive properly. 30 seconds of driving it will doom you to Tangtown even if your Ego survives the drive, and you can't come back from getting tanged by this thing. It's basically 'sacrifice a PC to win a fight'. There's also the Guidestone, which is a made up thing that explains everything and is a gift from the race that created Adam and Lillith as terraforming machines. I don't think this ever came up explicitly in the show, the idea that Adam and Lillith are terraforming devices. Anyway, this is a dumb add-on plot point for a super item that is designed to help mankind eventually 'ascend' and become a proper powerful creation of the 'First Ancestral Race', and it actually explains the entire plot in exposition if someone can get at it. This is a stupid fucking thing to put in an Eva game and I don't know why it's here besides the fact that the game's authors are hacks.
There's also the possibility presented here that there's actually nothing under your base, and you just have a beacon designed to draw the angels by making them think their objective is here. In this case, this is a trap designed to get around how your Evas are not mobile weapons, so you can lure the angels into an empty basement and then twat them with sticks. Which is actually pretty hilarious. Just an endless parade of cosmic kaiju getting lured down into the dark and beaten senseless by traumatized teenagers.
As you might notice, the Buried Treasure section is kind of sparse! And doesn't actually talk about any of the campaign or story implications of anything it raises! This is because the GM's guide is put together from a ton of smaller publications written by the community of the game and is even worse organized than the main book.
Next Time: The Writers Reveal They Are Hacks (more)
The Theme is Putting Things In That Look Like A Thing
Original SA post
The Theme is Putting Things In That Look Like A Thing
By now almost everyone knows the crosses and angels and Christian symbolism in Eva was there because it looks totally sweet. To that end, we get a bunch of suggestions from the authors on bringing in and plundering different religion symbolisms and iconographies for your Eva game so that it can be Original Eva, Donut Steel. They have a very cursory 'hey Mesoamerican stuff looks totally sweet, right' section where they say that the ending of blood sacrifices could bring about the end of the world and the Evas be deployed to stop that happening and it's very find and replace. None of what they suggest here will actually change the game at all. Still effectively just a bad Giant Robot X-COM. Same for the suggestion to go Lovecraftian, because of fucking course there's one of those.
I think the stupidest part of the Lovecraft section is how proud they are of it, declaring it a 'super off the beaten track' idea to use Lovecraftian horrors in a game about fighting giant cosmic horrors in a meat robot. That is like, the hackiest hack you could make. Eva punching Cthulhu is the image that launched A: A thousand fanfics and B: All of Cthulhutech. It's the only reason anyone ever paid any attention to Cthulhutech, because on some level we all want to see a giant robot pick up a fucking boat like it was Pacific Rim, make a quip about 'Here's your goddamn snooze button you overhyped space squid!' and then whack him with it. Everything in the Lovecraft section is, after beaming about how 'creative' it is, A: I think literally the plot of some kind of other mecha anime? Isn't there a mecha anime about 'grimoires' and giant robots or something with sexy Nyarlathotep or something? I am not an anime expert and B: Again, literally a find-replace. The Magi system is replaced with the Alhazred system. SEELE is Nyarlathotep gettin' up to his old tricks. Effectively, you still just get in the goddamn robot Shinji and fight the giant gribblies, who aren't effectively any different.
There's nothing HERE. "Wouldn't it be cool if you just stripped out the original religious imagery and replaced it with a different anime!?" isn't interesting, and it isn't creative. Also, it ignores that part of the reason Eva's imagery became famous is because whether by accident or not it actually kind of works. The stuff it's talking about really does work with images of divinity, and especially with concepts of the sacred. The images evoke the feelings that work for the story it's telling. Just running a fucking find replace with whatever you thought looked exotic is not necessarily going to get you something that looks cool, and it's basically pointless. No-one gives a shit that you say this was a magic device built by the Great Race of Yith, or that NERV is now the 'Miskatonic Defense Initiative', or whatever. No-one cares as long as it acts exactly like an Eva, the structure of the game is exactly the same, and the threats are the same general scale and flavor. It's fucking window dressing that doesn't even have the good grace to be interesting you goddamn hacks!
But you know, the next bit is my favorite part of the whole book. It's the part where these chucklefuck hack idiots try to discuss 'Theme' and reveal what they think that is. Now, those of us who aren't idiots know a Theme is a central concept to a text. So for instance, Eva has a theme of isolation and depression, because so much of the story revolves around the distance people have from others and how that's both a frightening and lonely thing but also a necessary element of individuality that must be navigated to have a distinct existence in the world. These fucking idiots will tell you the two 'easily recognized' themes of Evangelion are 'Evolution' (because it has progenitor aliens and talks about where life came from; they don't even deploy the fact that Adamite/Lillim life struggle against one another for this one) and 'The Hedgehog's Dillemma'. The Hedgehog's Dillemma is a concept
the characters in the story discuss as it relates to the theme of isolation you stupid assholes. It is the idea that the hedgehogs want to be snuggly and warm, but are covered in pokey-stabby bits, so getting close to snuggle is painful. Thus, emotional vulnerability can lead to tremendous pain yet all people feel the need to display it and reach emotional closeness with others.
Again, that's a concept, which the characters discuss, because it relates to the actual themes of isolation. Themes, by the way, are only for 'the ambitious GM'. Gee, I can't imagine a simple GM like me could ever write something so advanced as a Theme. Why, I'd have to be the deepest writer to ever try to write something deep if I was going to pull that off! If you're such a master of your craft, they suggest a couple Themes and how to evoke them, and it's fucking hilarious.
One theme could be DREAMS! As in, things you see when you're asleep, because did you know humans spend a lot of our lives asleep? We do, it's crazy. I can speak to this, as a human. You can evoke this theme by having the pilots describe their dreams, and having their dreams maybe even start to come true in the angels' forms and things! Why, some of the game could even take place in dreams. NPCs might have dreams too! Or even nightmares! You can even point out how alien angels are by not having them sleep
or if they do they don't have dreams, man!
. And you can make it so players don't tang, they just fall into a deep dream
in their dream coma
You could also try to evoke the theme of GROWING UP by having angels grow up during battle and turn into second battle forms after starting out larval! "In many ways, Evangelion is a story about a boy who fails to become a man." is a sentence that summons forth the dread power of Deadhorsiel, 69th Angel of Anger at the Protagonist For Failing to Perform Masculinity (and you could make the real argument that in the original show ending, Shinji does, in fact, make the transition from child to adult as part of his ability to accept himself and that it's only the stunted little shit of End of Evangelion that fails to grow). Oh, or if you want to get to a really magic realm of Theme, you could have the angel AGE REGRESS characters, mentally, so they act like small children! Also, in such a campaign, the Eigenhart Initiative should be central because they want humankind to grow up and they're all about personal responsibility!
Okay, was that theme too deep? Did the mental age regression stuff get too magical for you to withstand its realm? How about goddamn Puppets. Let's have a theme of Puppets. People think puppets are scary. You want your game to be scary. Maybe Evas are puppets. Maybe Manufactured are like puppets. You could hang Lillith from a big marionette, because we're all locked in here with a goddamn crate of puppets! Your villain could be, perhaps, a very clever 'puppetmaster', a concept that is both easy to write and not at all played out! Everyone could be, get this, like puppets
dancing on his string, to draw out the deep literary meaning of your work. Angels could like, put strings on your Eva and drive it, like a puppet
Look at this shit. I'm not exaggerating any of it! This is their thing! This is how they tell you how to write for theme and concept in your campaign! There are two things you need to see that tell you everything about the way the AdEva authors see fiction. One is the bit where you earn 'Depth' by taking negative character traits, showing they contextualize the depth of a character by dysfunction and misery alone. Two is everything about the fucking 'Mythology and Theme' chapter. The people who wrote this game have absolutely no ability to do even the most threadbare of critical analysis. They don't know how to write anything. They take on a legitimately weird, very flawed, complex work like Evangelion and that shit up there is what they come up with. Find-replace 'mythologies'. 'Theme' where they think Theme means 'literally put a goddamn puppet in because the theme is puppets'.
We are locked in here with idiots, and their crate of puppets.
Next Time: More dumb organizations
You gotta have blue hair.
Original SA post
You gotta have blue hair.
I was going to write them up but they aren't at all important or interesting. They're 'we hate the UN and are terrorists' 'we love Jesus and are terrorists' 'we love angels and are terrorists', and finally 'Wait you're making fucking children fight cosmic horrors? You bastards! Find some adults to do it!' as the only interesting group. The Concerned Parents' Alliance is just a political action committee that protests the use of child soldiers. They want to find a way to stop the pilots having to fight, and they want an explanation of why the UN is making kids pilot the giant robots. You could get a decent subplot out of that since it's founded in actual concern for the characters' wellbeing and it's kind of a reasonable objection when the general public knows jack and shit about Evas except that they exist.
Instead, we're getting into the 'Apocrypha'. This is a bunch of random rules, concepts, and lectures from the designers and as you might imagine it's a huge fucking mess. Our first talk is on the subject of Angel Hybrids, or 'Playing Rei'. In the last edition, you could take Angel Hybrid as an asset, with it bringing with it total fear immunity (but an inability to Frenzy or anything like that, though your Eva could still berserk) and the inability to drop below 40 Synch at the cost of having a Dark Secret. The book says they removed it from this edition because putting it in the player material made players think it was up to THEM if they wanted to play as a weird Manufactured with alien DNA in them, when it's really all up to the grand GM's vision. Players shouldn't have say in the main plot and concepts of a campaign, they are not the kinds of grand authors who could pull off themes
Instead of the basic package, because they want to make sure an Angel Hybrid is super special, they give a bunch of different abilities and tells you can give them. Now, the Angel Hybrid isn't in the PC book, so the only way a player who isn't familiar with the show even knows it's a thing is if the GM tells them (assuming they don't read the GM book, which it insists they not do). It costs 15 Depth and gives you some weird advantages and disadvantages; you can adjust your Synch (up or down) by d10 a round, or you might have +20 Ego, you might have vague plot visions, or you might be harder to kill (does not apply to robot). The Synch Ratio one even reduces Ego damage by 1 per instance, so it's probably the best option. The Tells are stuff like 'immune to Psychology, including Fear', or 'All Int skills are Basic, -5 to Per or Fel', 'Int and Per equal Ego' (which is actually kind of interesting), 'You have Sadistic because you're a sociopath' (with all the normal issues that brings), etc. Now, here's the really bad part. You also begin with a GM-determined 'do you know you're an Angel Hybrid'. If you don't, you get no real benefits from being one until you know. If you know, you get your full abilities. If you know and someone else does, they're after you. If you're known to everyone, someone is after you and
you get -5 Fel. Also, the GM chooses all of this
. So the GM can pick out a player, tell them they can take Angel Hybrid on their Manufactured, and then tell them they have Sadistic and have to play it out. That, obviously, has the potential to go incredibly fucking wrong and is another example of how badly this game handles GMing.
This game is intentional in making the GM Power Trip a part of the game. You know, that shitty thing most TT players have run into at least once and really don't want to deal with. Combined with The Implication, this is not good.
The next bit is the S2 Organ. An S2 Organ is something that apparently powers the Angels, and something Unit 1 developed after it ate one of the angels. In V2, getting S2 Organs let you ignore the power system but also introduced something where if your Eva goes berserk it doesn't go to sleep automatically and might wander off or try to go stargazing. It represented a point in your campaign where you were no longer really bound to your Base of Operations and could start intercepting angels elsewhere. That wasn't represented by the show (until the MPEvas, which had no need of umbilicals) but it did make for a fun moment to change up gameplay. The designers of 2.5 hated that idea and instead wrote it up that the S2 Organ is entirely a matter of GM Fiat, as is what it does, rather than something you attain by research or eating an angel. They have a big boldface 'Getting an S2 organ is a contract with the player that they will be more important when Third Impact happens and will have an important role in your ending!' which is definitely something to hand out by fiat alone in a group game, good plan AdEva. Also, the GM doesn't have to tell you what the organ will even do. Again, all this GM Vision!!! bullshit makes me mad.
We also get some bad rules for prototype giant shotguns, chainsaws, and flamethrowers, all of which are bad on purpose to explain why they didn't enter full production. Good to know, AdEva, I'm happy to have some worthless prototype weapon stats as an explanation for why my PCs don't use them. Good use of page space. There's also rules for an Eva to carry a huge backpack with an anti-matter generator to refuel their buddies, and also for it to explode like an N2 mine if an angel targets it, so eh. They also introduce a new Trait that you get if you play one of the scenarios where you get mentally assaulted by an angel. Cold Blooded (X) (Where X is how well you played along with the GM's VISION!!!) gives you X free Ego/Insanity damage per session, blocking that many points before you start taking damage to either. That's a really useful trait. Don't you want to play along with your GM's Vision so you get those delicious in-game bonuses? A deep player would play along. They might even be able to write a theme
. Fucking creepy bastards.
There's also some really bad, awkward rules for fighting in space, which aren't even especially useful without the old S2 system. I had a big fight in orbit when I was running, but I never would have run such a thing without unlimited Eva power. There's a shitton of rules for the orbital fighting, but they're unlikely to come up and they're really annoying. Much like the rules for underwater fighting. It's almost like DH isn't a particularly flexible combat system that definitely wasn't made for trying to fight in vacuum or the Marianas Trench.
Next we get to one of the dumbest things in the book. So, in V2, you learned Weapon profs and such like anyone else as a pilot, right? You spend all your time using your brain to fight like a soldier in a 40m tall deathbot, you pick up how to shoot a gun. The authors hated the 'action pilots' that developed from them being on par with a DH Acolyte on the ground, and so stripped the pilots of any weapon profs because as we know, a 14-16 year old could never learn to use a rifle, especially not as a child soldier. They then give an 'on foot' armory for enemies and the Ops Director (since pilots don't know how to use any of these weapons) full of significantly stronger-than-DH Autogun weapons. When I had on-foot trouble pop up when I was running back in the day, I just used basic d10+3 Autoguns because why wouldn't I? They want everything to be d10+6 at least.
But that's not the dumb part; I understand not wanting the pilots to be able to be hardened killers on the ground. I can't imagine Shinji Ikari kicking someone's ass (Nise Asuka, on the other hand...) so fair enough if that's how you want to play. The thing that bugs me is A: The Implication still exists and so I'm instantly suspicious of any attempt to make the pilots totally helpless and dependent on either the OD or other adults and B: Why provide all this material that the majority of players won't get to interact with at all unless it's trying to kill their PCs? The guns being so powerful also makes it very easy to die in any on-foot danger that pops up. The other thing that's dumb as shit? Their generic terrorist mook? 65
BS. And this is in DH1e, so full auto gives +20 and range is probably giving +10. UN Spec Ops are 75%. Those are scores even the mighty OD can't really reach. So even if the intent is to have the badass OD swoop in with their gun and protect the pilots, they'll get gunned down by the armored supersoldiers they're up against because in trying to wank about how much better a 'real' soldier is than the pilots, they made them better shots than fucking fluff Space Marines. Hell, the 'lesser angel' kaiju-spawn thing is WS 85%! The enemies are all so turbo-charged that even the Mighty OD is just going to get pasted. I know Misato got her ticket punched by UN SpecOps in End of Eva, but c'mon guys!
At those kinds of stats, it's hard for the PCs to even have a scenario where they're running away from the terrorists with guns or whatever. It's just nuts, and betrays more lack of understanding of the base system they're even working with. What is even the intent of these guys except to please the idiots in the game's community who always whined about how the kids were 'too good' of soldiers compared to 'real operators'? (There were definitely those types).
Next we get a bunch of minor house-rules, like 'You roll an Eva per pilot then each pilot picks theirs from the pool', or 'Base of Operations gives a bonus' (I thought it already did? It definitely did in the player book), or '01 or 100 cause a huge critical success or failure', or 'no power restrictions so you can fight anywhere anyway'. The last one is one I want to call out: "Individual Players get bonus fate for roleplaying that pleases the GM." I am a great enemy of 'the mechanical Roleplaying Award' even in contexts where I don't suspect it's going to be used for manipulation or coercion. I find they usually end up being 'the most extroverted player gets rewards' even when they're written against that. I like rewards to be earned on a consistent basis and as a full group; even if you're going to hand them out subjectively it's better if 'meta awards' like Fate and EXP are per group rather than per player. But here? I really don't want this game
having awards for pleasing the GM.
And that's the Apocrypha. Next time, join me as we get into what they think are cool pre-made adventures. If you know me, I'm not very fond of pre-mades in the best of times, but I do see an important role for them: They're a great teaching tool for a new GM. They can do a lot to set expectations of play, show a GM what a 'standard' game is going to flow like, and help teach them what kinds of modifiers and rulings are 'standard' for a game. Done badly, a terrible Intro Adventure can really taint a game's first mechanical impression, like it did in WHFRP2e and Dark Heresy.
Just guess how good the pre-made/sample scenario prompts will be for this
Next Time: Just itching to kill men
The thrilling action thrills
Original SA post
The thrilling action thrills
So the 3 Action scenarios are really 'fighting something other than an angel'. One is 'have a dumb fighting robot tournament with other branches of NERV'. One is 'The children, who are not normally used for this, must now kill hundreds of men with a detailed 'make conventional forces have any kind of chance against the AT field' subsystem' (I know Asuka does so in End of Eva but everything about the fluff in this game has been just champing at the bit to turn the Evas loose on normal people as it is), and 'play as a bunch of NERV agents doing infantry work in the aftermath of or during the last angel fight'. Curiously, the PC team all have normal DH level stats, so it's undermined by the horrible mechanical imbalance between the NERV agents and that 65% BS super-terrorist hyperwarrior up above.
Operation Thunderdome is the stupidest of these, wherein the NERV branches have set to arguing about whose robot can beat up whose robot like the various commanders were also spoiled children playing with action figures. It should happen during 'an unusually long period with no angelic attack'. At the very least it all takes place in a simulator, so there are no actual stakes but also no-one is blowing up dozens of buildings just to show off. They have three whole events for your 'tournament arc', because of course, each with their own rules of engagement and prizes for winning. First you have a basic fight with one another's squads. Then you have one on one rounds. Then a free-for-all. The winner of the basic fight gets a 'Good Quality' weapon trait from DH (despite your weapon upgrades being a pool of gear you can select for each battle rather than owned weapons; this reward actually doesn't work with the current system). The winner of the one on one elimination rounds gets a free Upgrade Point. Same for the Last Man Standing. There's some fluff about how organizing the prizes starves millions of people because they cost so much. This entire thing is dumb as shit.
Obviously, this exists so that your players can trying their 'builds' against each other and against other Evas. The problem is this system is not
designed for 'PVP'. For one, a Pointman or ATT is a support class, so they're probably going to get their shit kicked in by Skirmishers and Berserkers. Fighting other Evas just means you're going to have the same AT Field issues as you do when you fight angels; guns are still going to require you to get close, melee is still going to rule, etc, only now since you're in smaller one-on-one fights and all Nise Asuka is either going to clean the fuck up if you have Positron Guns or she's going to get slaughtered if you don't. Evas are also (generally) quite fragile compared to an angel, and need to have weapons that output the damage to kill a hardened angel. As you might imagine, that means Eva scale firepower will blow away Evas. It's just going to be games of rocket tag with abilities and units not actually designed to fight one another. The book even admits actually playing all 3 events will be a slog that you won't want to do, and so suggests only actually playing out one or two.
If you think the scenario you've written is so long and dull that it shouldn't be played out entirely, maybe you wrote a fucking boring scenario
The next scenario is 'Storm the Front', wherein human forces attack your base with the intention of shutting NERV down for good. Maybe the UN finally figured out you're run by an insane doomsday cult that's trying to turn everyone to tang. Maybe terrorists somehow have an entire army. Maybe some unaligned state thinks it can steal your giant robots or someshit. There's a ton of wank over how professional and powerful a human army can be over the 'stupid' angels, and how it will be a new type of threat the pilots will have to meet very differently.
If you guessed that means all this operates entirely on a different combat subsystem, YOU GOT IT. Is it overcomplex? You know it! Does it suck? Hell yeah! Would it be totally miserable to play and does it only exist to wank off about how your walking tank kills hundreds of guys? You better fucking believe it! You get all kinds of rules for specialist units of elite or conscript infantry, all kinds of irrelevant abilities for them, and all kinds of fluff about how Commandos are the tierest onest of all operators to ever operate operationally! The only real thing the infantry try to do is get past your Evas and get into your base so they can start trying to take it over. Once they're in, you have a time-limit to finish up outside and then kool-aid man through the Geofront and start killing COD protagonists. This is even measured in time; once they're in, you've got 2 hours if they're conscripts, 1 hour if they're elite, etc and you can 'kill one unit per Eva per 5 minutes' once you bust down the wall. They get abilities like trying to sever your power cables, but nothing really solves one of the fundamental issues facing this scenario:
There are no conventional units that mechanically threaten an Eva with a spread AT field. There are all kinds of special rules for the infantry to try to act against your Evas, but, uh, it's infantry trying to fight something the size of a building with a magical soul shield. And their heavy backup and tank support explicitly can't hurt you because it's all using the normal Conventional Forces rules. The only scenario (you better fucking believe you roll for wargaming scenario) that actually poses a threat to the Evas is one where the enemy deploys Evas. The Jet Alone (nuclear conventional mech) or T-RIDEN-T (METAL GEAR) can show up at these fights, too, but they don't really have the Breach necessary to threaten you outside of the Jet Alone Prime and its magical radhammer. Also the enemy can have an N2 mine, and ugh it's just an ill-thought-out mess as an excuse to have the pilots shoot hundreds of people.
There is, of course, no thought given to how murdering shitloads of people in a genuine military assault (or even having to kill other Eva pilots) might affect the teenager pilots psychologically or as characters. This is solely here for ACTION!
If you win you get a ton of surplus. If you lose you die. Surplus isn't actually very useful anymore now that it isn't used for Research. So good job, hope you had fun with the boring military wank episode. This scenario fucking sucks and doesn't even have enough mechanical support to run itself.
The final Action Scenario used to be recommended in the core book as something to do back in V2. The NERV Tactical Unit goes out to run around in the middle of the latest kaiju battle to rescue downed pilots, save trapped civilians, etc. in order to get the players a refund on Collateral Damage and make their victory better if they succeed. Alternately, you play as these same adult soldiers having another important adventure for NERV as they try to clean out spies, stop terrorists from threatening the pilots, or otherwise have military adventures. To be honest, this isn't a bad idea for an occasional 'break' scenario during a campaign. The stakes are there; you're trying to save people or do important work. But you don't lose the campaign if they all die, because they're by nature a side party. Running through a crazy kaiju battle and dodging the Evas and the angel both to rescue people actually does kind of sound like fun every now and then.
The problem is the Squad isn't very good. They're about mid-tier DH characters, and won't be able to compete with UN Special Forces or The Terrorist Hyperman. Also, all the scenarios for it are incredibly wishy-washy, to the point that the GM will be writing any adventures that occur here entirely themselves. There are suggested rewards, but nothing about what parameters count for achieving them. Enemy stats given are out of whack with the players' relatively weak PCs. This whole idea feels like it was balanced for the old V2 'on foot' stats, where enemies were much weaker before they decided they had to be Invulnerable To Pilots. As a result, while a promising side-story idea, the actual mechanical support just isn't there for this concept to work. Still, it's both the least stupid and the least terrible of these three stupid and terrible scenarios, so I guess that counts for something.
Next time, though, we get to see what these idiots think makes for comedy
Next Time: Behold, the kickmen
Behold, the Kickmen
Original SA post
Behold, the Kickmen
So, the last set of terrible ideas were all about ACTION SCENARIOS for HARDCORE BATTLE. Now we get something even worse: The creators' idea of comedy scenarios. Also each with a subsystem. Holy hell, you can write an adventure using the 300 pages of rules you already have
, they don't all need subsystems! Sometimes I think these scenarios are less about inventing scenarios and more about inventing an excuse to write subsystems so they can get their name in the book's credits or something. But Jesus, the core book is already long and full of rules! How can they possibly need entirely new little subsystems for every goddamn adventure idea?
Anyway, the comedy scenarios are predicated on the idea that there was a lot of silly shit in Eva, and there certainly was. Pen-Pen sits, lurking, unobserved, being a penguin. They claim that having some silly stuff happen will 'make it more cruel when you burn everything the players lover to cinders, and you want to be cruel, right'? If you're being cruel, you'll run these scenarios!
Comic relief is an important part of a grim or serious story. You need to have moments of levity or everything gets miserable. People make terrible jokes in awful situations. So there could be some value in writing some comic scenarios for your giant robot fighting teenagers and their issues. The problem is, you want to keep a consistent tone. You don't want to completely break the tone of your story, or derail the actual characters. You can have an AdEva adventure where the pilots have a day off, don't have to deal with anything horrifying, and go do something fun and get up to some light comic antics to show off their relationships and foibles. It would still tell you something about the characters, you can fit it into the world, and it would be a fun break. Or to give credit to the V2 version, you could take some of the old adventure seeds like "The pilots must navigate a high class state dinner because a Head of State wants to meet the people saving humanity; funding depends on the actions of a bunch of bored teenagers in badly fitting suits." That's a good comic scenario seed.
Instead, the ideas presented here are just stupid. And not funny.
Our first idea is that to test the robots, they want to have a dance off. In the robots. That's the entire scenario. I can't write that much about it. It's just a giant robot dance off, with a (you knew this was coming) complex subsystem for deciding how many risks you're going to take on Fellowship and Agility in order to dance better. You will naturally be mechanically punished if you don't have a three to six paragraph ridiculous description of your robot dance. There is encouragement for the players to actually physically perform their robot's dance for the webcam or in person at the table. Players who out-dance the others will receive small permanent boosts to Fellowship and Agility, while their NERV branch gets rewarded with slightly more funding. That's the entire adventure. It's all 'oh isn't it funny they're doing a dance, but in a robot'.
Look, I know, Shinji and Asuka trained on DDR to dance-fight a splitting angel so they could drop kick both halves of its existence at precisely the same moment. They did that and it was cool. In many ways, Dance Like You Want To Win is the archetype for the fighting system in AdEva, where the pilots perform in synch and with aid from their conventional turrets and things to win a straight fight with the monster they're up against that week. This does not mean making the robots dance is an instant winner of a mission. This is just basic monkey-cheese 'oh man, they're robots and they're dancing'.
The next isn't any better, because it's Robot Soccer (Football, but I'm an American so even though I like Football I'm going to be American about this). Yep, you get out there and try to Do Goals in your Evas. That's the adventure. You're sponsered by Fifa. Asuka has a vuvuzela, dating this scenario. 'The game lasts 90 minutes but for sanity's sake don't play every minute in gameplay' and jesus fucking christ, there's an entire shitty mechasoccer subsystem. You collect Dominance Points and use them to power the Big Kicks (they are not called Big Kicks, but they should be) as you run around chasing a ball in a giant robot. If you do well you get some bonus funding from Fifa. That's it. That's the scenario. It's just "Giant Robot Soccer" out of nowhere.
I could go into a lot of detail. I could tell you all the rules and modifiers for your Big Kicks as you try to Do Goals as the grand robot kickmen, but does anyone care? I submit to you, none of us care. No-one is going to play this. I'd wager almost no-one played it when it was first written. Up to 15 rounds of 'intense soccer action' in which you just play out dumb actions and the poor goalkeepers sit and wait to roll a parry check. They even say you should let your goalkeeper's player play with their DS at the table or something because nothing happens for the goalkeepers, it's all about the kickmen. This is just stupid as all hell, and again, it's not even funny. The joke is just 'robot soccer'. There's no actual comedy.
Finally, your PCs get commissioned to endorse something. Someone wants the saviors of humanity showing off their product and NERV has funding issues. Your players will then perform a live 30 second take for the ad. Remember, a lot of this game was played entirely on IRC back in the day. Where that couldn't really be done anyway. "PCs are horrible little monsters, and this is doubly true for Adeptus Evangelion, where being an insufferable twat is part of the rules." is an unintentionally revealing statement made with the intent of playing it off as a joke; that really is about how they see their game. The judging rules talk about how 'if anyone is naked, something has gone horribly wrong' and 'judge the PCs performance based on how much it decreases your faith in humanity' and jesus this is forced.
The results range from a tiny amount of surplus to making the company involved go bankrupt, giving you Dark Secret (Was In The Ad), and making your branch owe money. There is no mechanic for owing money. You also lose Ego Barrier for being terrible. Everything about this scenario is dumb. And again, not funny.
So, that's three incredibly unfunny scenarios that don't fit into the tone or setting of almost any long-running game ranging from Giant Robot X-COM to Just Eva. That was a complete waste of everyone's time. And again, all of them had their own subsystem. That is going to continue
. This is seriously one of the most painful parts of the book for me to handle, because holy shit is the entire Scenario section awful.
Next Time: Oh, the drama of the subsystems.
Original SA post
So all but one of the Drama session ideas focuses on a single PC. They're also all terrible, but you hardly needed me to tell you that; I'm sure you've got enough of a sense of pattern recognition at this point. Let's get right into what these people think is dramatic.
The Room is an adventure where one pilot or the OD is kidnapped by a mysterious group of mysterious people, much like Fuyetsuki's experience in the show where the NERV subcommander is forced by SEELE to provide some goddamn backstory. You're then put on the spotlight, drugged with a truth serum, and unable to resist answering questions honestly. But for each question you're asked, you may ask one. Meanwhile, the interrogators are played by the rest of the group and given secret objective by the GM. Objectives they want to accomplish by asking you questions, on a time limit set by the GM. 'It is recommended you at least try to make it look like the questions and objectives have something to do with your game's themes' so I guess I should throw a puppet in there somewhere.
The interrogators similarly have to answer the captive's questions honestly for some reason, and if one tries to lie twice they're taken out back and shot by their own organization for mysterious reasons (They're removed from the scenario with 'their future uncertain at bet', we know what that means with stupid vague conspiracy organizations). So you just kind of have a back and forth backstory episode for a bit and then they let the pilot/OD go. That's it. NERV gets some Surplus for all of this, and if the pilot was wily in stretching the bounds of the 'game' and didn't give everything away, they get some bonus skills like +10 to Scrutiny.
That's really it for the Room. It's a vague scenario of vague conspiracy mystery. There's no actual dice mechanics or anything (does that count as averting a subsystem? They still have the 'rules' of the interrogation after all) and nothing to it besides 'spooky people ask spooky questions and answer cryptically for an hour or two'. Interrogators who played well may show up later as mysterious presences in the mysterious story that is mysterious. There's barely enough here to actually write up.
Touched By An Angel is a scenario where you get your mind contacted by one of the aliens and have a mystical experience where it tells you you're a bad person. Normally, 'I get my mind touched by an alien presence and have to confront the things I hate about myself' would be something I'd be down for, but in context and with The Implication I am not at all happy with it here. The issues here are many-fold. One of them is that, you know, there's a whole subsystem where you have a huge mechanical reward dangled in front of you (that potentially massive Insanity/Ego resistance talent discussed in Apocrypha; that's a huge
benefit for a PC) and where whether or not you get it is down to how well you play along and do exactly what the GM wants. Two, this is AdEva. I really don't trust this game with this kind of situation, and that's proved correct when we see the giant list of 'roll to see what spooky mystical thing they see and who seems to be saying it!!!!' results. It isn't just that this has the potential to be creepy in that special power-tripping GM AdEva way, it's also a really boring way to do this scenario.
The player picks up to 5 personality traits that they dislike about themselves, and assigns each a 1-5 Disquiet rating. No more than one per rating. The rating is how much you hate that part of yourself. The total value of those traits is the amount of Cold Blooded (mental resistance) you'll get if you win, so you are strongly
mechanically encouraged to play along as much as possible. They tell you the tables are only there if you need them to 'unsettle' players but to 'make the imagery more distrubing' as you go. After the angel tells you why you're bad and confronts you with shocking imagery
, you choose how you respond: Justification, Denial, or Acceptance. If you Deny or Justify, you roll Willpower for Deny or Fellowship for Justification, and if you fail you take Disquiet Ratingxd5 in Ego damage. If you succeed, you gain Disquiet Rating Insanity Points. If you accept it, you have to have 'roleplayed correctly' but only take the Disquiet rating of the issue in Ego damage. So Accepting is basically always correct as long as you have enough Ego. You only get to use Acceptance if you did exactly as the GM wanted and played along with the spooks 'perfectly', otherwise it's save or take huge mental hits. At the end, you tally up your damage and if you aren't a puddle of Tang, you get that extremely useful Cold Blooded trait with value equal to the total Disquiet you dealt with.
Also, this happens to players individually. It might happen to multiple players, but they sit and wait their turn while you recite spooky imagery at one player and they try to guess what you want so they can go along with it, take minimal damage, and collect their big reward. In any other game I'd just think this was ham-handed, but combined with The Implication I really don't like this one. Any attempt to resist the GM's interpretation of your character rather than accept it is met with an immediate 'save vs. massive mental damage'. It's a scene about the GM telling you how your character is, while getting to throw 'spooky' and 'deep' imagery (possibly rolled off a chart) at you with the advice to make it disturbing. At the end, if you played along you get big rewards. Considering the rest of AdEva this is a particularly bad scenario.
Who wants warcrimes!? The next one is the Trial of the Century, wherein whatever you did last session was really bad and killed tens of thousands of people or something. Maybe you put out that Anti-AT Field in a populated city. Or called in an N2 Strike on someplace not yet evacuated. One of the pilots is on trial and it's time to start calculating the Criminal Index and warming up the Hague subsystem, baby! You have a Criminal Index of 50-200 (above 200 would get you 'killed on the spot', below 50 'isn't important') based on how much Collateral you caused and how stupid it was. Ordered an N2 strike on Beijing? 200. Threw an angel through the Louvre? 50. That kind of thing. The trial can range from 'destroyed an important landmark' to 'millions are dead and a nation is threatening to withdraw from the Valentine treaty and leave the UN'. The trial lasts 'Index/25 +1d5' days. Each day you pick a trial tactic (what skill you'll use) while the OD frantically tries to help you off screen.
If you have a high Criminal Index you'd better hope the OD has your back and a bunch of IOU talents they're willing to burn on this, because every successful tactic use reduces Criminal Index by d10+DoS and every failure increases it by d10+DoF, while the OD can just burn an IOU Talent for -25 Index right away. There are also other shady tactics that all boil down to 'roll dice, remove some Criminal Index if you succeed'. At the end of it all, you check how much Criminal Index you still have. If it's less than 50, you get off. The closer to 0 it is, the better you get off; at 0 you become tremendously popular somehow and get Fel bonuses and things for having been so wrongfully accused. Up to 75, you're banned from robot fights until NERV pays reparations. Up to 90, you're imprisoned for d10 Months for those warcrimes or until NERV pays reparations. Again, 10 Surplus to get you out isn't a huge deal now that Surplus is much less useful. Up to 100, they have you shot unless you burn Fate. Above 100, they have you shot AND the entire NERV program is imprisoned for being lunatics. Your campaign is basically over.
At the end of the day, the entire scenario is just rolling dice. There's no actual strategy whatsoever and it's just a detached series of very random skill checks. The consequences aren't serious up until they suddenly are, and they're likely to put a player out of play for awhile while everyone else keeps playing. This is terrible and pointless.
Finally, The Three Arrows is a scenario where the OD throws up their hands and brings in a child psychologist, a martial arts master, a teacher, or something and has them try to impart cryptic lessons to the pilots. Naturally, these lessons will prove completely essential in the next angel fight. You come up with how much authority the consultant has, how they will punish unruly pilots, and how they will try to teach them their wise lesson. They also suggest if the consultant is a 'real soldier' and a pilot gives them lip you have them beat the pilot silly, so there is that. Good to see you're still there, Real Soldier Wank Guys. The suggested lessons are all pretty standard stuff about working together, and all bring in an angel that will require working together, because that's what happened in the show when they beat the dancing splitting guy with the coordinated giant robot fight routine. They suggest tricks like, say, an enemy where another ally can parry or dodge for you but you can't parry and dodge to make you stick together.
This one is merely generic, really. It's not that objectionable aside from the gleeful 'have the tough soldier beat the shit out of the 14 year old kid to learn them', and what's funny is I wonder what happens when they try that with the Berserker with Athlete, high WS, S and T and get their own shit kicked in? I'm sure it's not the sort of thing you're meant to play out, but it's a funny thought. Aside from that, while the various angel tricks are angel tricks, angel tricks are one of the central pillars of the entire combat system so it's hardly out of character. Aside from the general worries about power-tripping and the gleeful 'beat the pilots' and consistent talk of punishing the PCs, this one is probably the least terrible of the 4. It also actually leads into an actual kaiju fight, meaning it's the only scenario so far that engages with the core of the system's gameplay.
Still loses a lot of points for the 'punch the pilot' stuff. But at least it's not solely about one PC this time!
Next Time: The Horror, the Horror
Adeptus Evangelion Is Not A Horror Game
Original SA post
Adeptus Evangelion Is Not A Horror Game
So, that's what we start the horror section with. 'This is not a horror game, but here are some spooky horror scenarios!'. The sort of horror we'll be getting here is very randomized and not very scary. They're more of lists of spooky special effects and instant-kill saves than anything that might actually be frightening. I think part of the problem with all of these scenarios (besides the authors not being creative people) is that a proper horror scenario in this kind of game relies on tailoring it to your players' characters. You can't just throw spooky shadows and random tables with the equivalent of jump-scares at the wall and hope they stick; you need to work at what frightens the characters themselves.
With that said, let's get to our first set of spooky shadows and random tables with Nightmare in the 8th Dimension. This scenario has an angel with dimension shifting powers manage to banish all of NERV HQ to the shadow zone, such that your PCs have to get through areas of altered space and time (since you are now in the Shadow Zone) to get to their Evas and try to fight the thing. The 'horror' in this section comes from the tedious minigame of rolling for random dungeon-crawling issues the characters encounter as they try to make their way to their destination, then rolling a lot (or figuring out some obtuse stuff like 'oh we can make it through easily if we close our eyes') to gather or lose Progress. Did you guess there was going to be a subsystem
with zero actual meaningful decision making and a lot of rolling? You guessed right!
There's also a SPOOOOOOKY special effect where if a PC dies during all this, they actually die even if they burned fate, but then somehow you find them alive in the next room! Spooooooky!
You roll for other SPOOKY SPECIAL EFFECTS and dungeon crawl challenges as you go, each gaining or losing you Progress. They range from finding the starved-to-death and naked body of a PC (who gains IP) to shifty rooms or hallways you can't get to the end of to having to dodge or die as an angel-fired laser beam cuts through your path. You can also run into treasure rooms containing a bevy of useless assault rifles and 'supplies' (remember: PCs besides the OD do not know how to use weapons. Also, there is no actual combat in this adventure unless it's added by the GM) and you have to spend Progress to get to them, so, uh...don't? Getting to the Command Deck is mostly useless for you, since at best it just puts your OD in place on a command deck with communications down and a fair number of the staff dead or missing. It also costs as much Progress as getting to the EVA CAGES, which are, you know, the goal. If you get to the Eva Cages, there are a few more potential hurdles ranging from 'have to tear free of the docking clamps' to 'evil black shadow you have to somehow force back on foot stopping you from entering'. Once you're in the Evas, you fight the angel normally and try to save the base. Getting to Terminal Dogma without your Evas seems kind of pointless because what are you going to do, draw a sidearm and shoot the angel in the foot to stop it stealing your macguffin?
Oh, they also suggest that getting home might require a PC to self-destruct their Eva's core and burn Fate. The GM is free to just demand one player eat shit at random to actually end the scenario. Also, if you hit -5 Progress at any point, the angel wins and you all die because you took too long. Burn Fate or end campaign. The end, no moral. Also note several of the Progress event things can kill you, like the angel laser or the hallway collapsing.
For getting through all this bullshit, the book recommends giving out a Fate Point to everyone, 'aging the characters from contact with time and space' and giving them +5 to their three lowest stats, giving double EXP for the combat, or granting a big Research boost. You really see their definition of 'horror' in this adventure: Lots of rolling dice to see if you eat shit, lots of random special effects and jump-scares, no real depth.
The next adventure is just 'Man, I really liked Stalker the videogame but can't take the time to actually build up its persistent sense of place or dread, and also I want giant robots in it.' The Polarity Shift has someone have used an Anti-AT Field during the last fight, and now a Zone of altered space has come into being in a populated area. Your AT fields will protect you from the Weird Random Shit on the Weird Random Shit tables (yep, all randomly rolled tables again) as you walk on in and try to figure out how to use your team's ATT (You better have an AT Tact) to either make another Anti-AT field to cancel it or use one of the dimension shift powers to banish the Weird Shit to the shadow zone. That's the entire adventure. Also, there's a random chance every time you roll for Weird Random Shit that you roll 'lose the adventure' and need to flee before you take 4d10 unreduceable Wounds, Insanity, and Ego from touching THE RED LIGHT.
I could go into all the Weird Random Shit (they bring in the Perils of the fucking Warp table) but I don't care. This is entirely a 'roll for spooky special effect until you get to the center then hope you brought the wizard powers to win' adventure. You can also 'use any other plan the GM finds reasonable' I guess. Meanwhile there's a random chance you just lose every time you roll. If you brought the requisite Wizard Shit and win, you get d10+10 Research. If you lose and survive, you get d5. This whole 'ooooo, we flickered the lights on and off like a horror shovelware game on Steam!!!!' stuff doesn't do it for me.
The Boneyard is another dungeon crawl. Kind of funny how all the horror scenarios are dungeon crawls, in this, the game where you're attached to an umbilical. For this, your Evas gets the heavy N2 Reactor backpacks and structural support to wear them, so you can't run out of time inside the Spooky Dungeon. You're sent in to investigate why one of the Eva testing and manufacturing facilities (long since decommissioned) has gone completely dark. To investigate, they send in 40m tall killer robots. The base was an important base, until everyone there died in a spooky ghost incident while trying to demonstrate AT Fields early in Eva development. It was decommissioned and kept in lockdown until spooky ghosts began to appear again, and killed everyone again in another spooky ghost incident.
NERV is pretty sure your killer robots can handle some spooky ghosts.
There is, of course, a subsystem for Anomalous Activity Levels. The more stuff you do within the dungeon, the worse the spooky ghost incident gets. As you go through and bring your Evas into an area, you reach 'delta' and spooky ghost shit commences. Spreading an AT field or reading classified documents and files causes 'Charlie' and the spooky ghost shit gets more dramatic. Using an AT power or destroying part of the facility causes 'bravo', which is official The Spooky Ghost Shit Tries To Hurt You. Alpha level is special and will cause maximum spooks. Each area has different spooks for the various levels of ghost shit. At Alpha, you also start spawning angry ghost-phantoms that potentially want the pilots dead and are up to the GM.
The testing grounds for the Evas are zone 1, and as Spooky Ghost Shit levels increase, you see increasingly obvious ghost battles in the proving ground. At Alpha scale, GHOST PALLET RIFLES start shooting the players! The horror! In the armory, you see the fall of the facility more and more clearly until eventually you watch spooky ghost monsters killing spooky ghost holograms of the staff. Also, you can steal a giant chainsaw out of the armory or something GM willing, but they're all shit weapons (and the GM is advised to make them thus). In general, as the Spooky Ghost Shit level goes up, you see more and more of the fall of the facility and eventually hit 'oh no horrors is eating all the phantom recollections of the facility staff', so really I could just say that much and skip ahead.
Once you get to the actual Eva designing pits, you get to where they built the entry plugs. If you try to get into an abandoned entry plug, some bad shit happens to you because why did you get into an entry plug you found in an abandoned ghost infested facility, that was very foolish.
Finally, after lots of going around and getting spooked by jump scares, you eventually get to the actual Boneyard. It's where all the failed Eva spines are stacked up. Coming here reveals that an awful lot of Evas die for every Eva they successfully build that works for the pilots, and also immediately jams the Spooky Ghost Shit level to max for all of the facility. You are then attacked by Eva zombies that try to drag your Evas into the hell pit so the monster pit of zombies can eat the Eva and spit it out with new parts. This will kill the pilot unless they eject, but not wreck the Eva. The Eva zombies aren't especially powerful, and killing enough of them might end the Spooky Ghost Shit. Otherwise, the pilots eventually flee the facility and when they get out, the whole thing vanishes as if it was never there. There are a bunch of possible explanations for the Spooky Ghost Shit given afterwards, ranging from an advertisement for a dropped 'AT Berserker' class called the Apostle to 'this facility accidentally contacted some other cosmic horror' to 'it was all a parallel dimension!' None are especially interesting, though it's hilarious to see the Apostle getting talked up here. Someone was really excited about that class before it got dropped from the game; I think it might be in the forked Borderline edition with a bunch of other ill-thought-out-pilot-types but it sure ain't here.
So that's the Horror scenarios. Their idea of horror is a dungeon crawl where you roll for jump scare. Only Boneyard doesn't rely on absolutely random tables and tries to have a coherent theme to its horror element (the slow emergence of 'what happened to the facility') but it lacks enough definition to really work. With that, I'm finally done with the fucking scenarios.
Next Time: The Angels
A Choir of Angels
Original SA post
A Choir of Angels
So, it's finally time to get to our actual bosses! Yes, you have to get this far into the book before you actually have the material to run a combat at all. None of this is well organized. This used to be better in the V2 release, by the way; the angels were just where you'd normally expect to find bestiary in an RPG book. There wasn't a bloated scenario guide and all that other stuff between the actual rules about kicking ass and the ass you're intending to kick (if, indeed, such alien beings even possess asses).
We get a little fluff on the angels; they've existed for about 15 years, because their embryonic cores were scattered around when Adam and Antarctica exploded. They lay dormant, waiting to grow and become proper cosmic horrors so they could come at NERV HQ one at a time in a march of monsters-of-the-week. Angels are the life-forms Adam intended to create, each one of them completely unique and protected by such a strong sense of self (AT Field) that it deflects every conventional weapon short of an antimatter mine. The only organ an angel really needs is its Core; everything else can be regrown, regenerated, etc. They don't need food, their S2 (Super Solenoid, whatever the hell that means) organs provide them infinite power. Their objective is to beat the hell out of your Evas and get at the macguffin they need to initiate 3rd Impact and raise Adam, so that he can get rid of all these goddamn Lillim and their goddamn tang and make a planet for angels.
Angels have a bunch of general traits: Instead of Synch Ratio (they're not exactly synchronizing with themselves) they have Light of the Soul, because that's what the only angel to communicate coherently called his AT Field. They apparently contextualize it as a beautiful and sacred space wherein no other may intrude, which is actually quite interesting; if what Kaworu said about his AT Field is true, then angels generally want the total isolation of the self. But it's hard to make general statements about a highly individual species of unique aliens. The Light of the Soul works like Synch Ratio in generating ATS/ATP, but has different meta-effects. 1-50 LS gives an angel 1 reroll per combat per 50 LS. At 51-100, they also get +10 to everything. At 101-150, they double their TB. At 151-200, the +10 bonus is replaced with +20. And at 201+, the angel gets to take 2 turns a round. Being an alien creature with a totally alien mind, angels are completely immune to psychology. They also all get 1 Fate (which can be Burned to dodge any attack that should kill them or regenerate a body part and d10+TB HP to survive being taken out. They only heal their critical damage if they get out of crits with this heal) and can Fury like a normal PC. When they run out of Fate, they transition to a stronger state and gain Superior Action, reducing how long every kind of action takes and letting them take 2 attack actions in one turn.
They also have immunity to blinding and physical loss of senses within short ranges, because they can sense via AT Field. This means that almost all standard status effects are useless against them, especially as (with the AT mechanics) combat is going to be at close ranges. An angel's natural weapons aren't Primitive and can Parry. You remember that 'go 2 times' ability? That also just turns off if you somehow blow one of the angel's limbs off. Most importantly, most angels using ATP to cast spells do not lose ATS
by doing so. This makes AT using/magic angels extremely dangerous, especially as they get their own unique AT abilities. Curiously, most angels lack for Neutralize, but have some other way to blow through your comparatively weak AT Field.
Crits against angels don't usually take them down for that long (unless you got the core) but they DO seriously fuck them up. Lots of criticals will do things like 'halve the angel's TB for the rest of the fight'. No mention of if this is cumulative; if Asuka blows off both of an angel's arms, does it end up with 1/4 TB? I'm going to say yes. In keeping to the Prog Knife being a badass, Rending criticals are significantly more powerful than Energy or Impact; Explosive criticals are generally the most powerful. X Damage is a measurable advantage when you're going to need to crit the fuck out of the angel over and over to disable it and kill the core. Also note that killing the core will usually
make the angel explode in a massive cross/mushroom cloud depending on how hard you hit it. Evas will survive the damage. The surrounding buildings won't. Enjoy the collateral damage!
After all that, we get game stats for every single one of the canon angels. Of them, only Sachiel (First Angel), Shamsel (Second Angel), Matarael (7th Angel, killed by Pallet Rifle!), I kind of GUESS Bardiel (11th Angel, inside a possessed EVA-03), and sort of Zeruel (Super powerful 12th Angel, killed and eaten by Berserk Shinji) died in what could be considered anything like a normal combat encounter. I mean, what are you supposed to do in the normal combat system against a giant singing diamond that can shoot you through a fucking mountain (and that the designers gave a 90% BS and the +10 from LS, so it can't miss, and also added 'can't be dodged' to the shot). You shoot it with the GPC like in the show, I guess. Countersnipe the opera diamond. Or the orbital descent bomb angel. Or the orbital hallelujah insanity beam angel. Or the 'teleport you to another dimension inside itself' angel. Almost all of the canon angels required a gimmick to defeat because it was a monster of the week show, but also because the solution to a lot of the combat in Eva wasn't just 'be strong and powerful in combat'. The fact that the majority of their inspiration cannot, by their own admission, translate into the combat system they built
should perhaps have been a fucking warning they built the wrong kind of combat system.
But you know, let's look at our big chonky boy Zeruel, since he's supposed to be a big late game boss for an Eva team and since he actually works as a big boss encounter within the context of the show. Zeruel is a melee specialist with 90% WS, 30% BS, his str doesn't matter once we get to his weapon, 50 Tough, 20 Agi, 50 Per, 40 WP, 10 Fel, and 160 LS, so he's at +20 to everything. He's AP 10 on body and head, 5 elsewhere, has 30 Wounds on his head, 15 on his limbs, 30 on his Core, and 45 on his Body. Any attack that can't completely negate his AV halves its damage
and cannot Fury. So only GPC shots or boosted attacks with help from an ATT can actually seriously hurt him. Also can only take 10 wounds per hit, max. Also, he can just swap to Layered Field to give himself +8 AV everywhere so uh good fucking luck hurting him if he does, even the Great Positron Cannon needs buffing to get through that. He also has Lightning Attack (and remember, is 100% accurate) and his weapons do not have Pen or damage; they just do d10 Critical damage Rending every stroke. Oh, and they can't be Parried, only Dodged. So you know, have fun with that. This is their idea of a mechanical challenge; an enemy you can only numberslam whose numbers are 'ignore most of the system'. Even a completely berserk super-powered Eva is just going to get torn apart; you kind of can't recreate how the fight went in the show, where once Eva-01 went completely fucking berserk it just ripped Zeruel apart and ate him.
Another note: Most of these angels were significantly strengthened from their V2 stats. Meanwhile, pilots lost the +15% WS and BS they used to get in the cockpit and their heavy weapons options were mostly seriously weakened. Zeruel, for instance, used to just hit pretty hard and ignore attacks that didn't have 6+ Pen, but didn't have the 'halve all damage and no Fury unless it completely pierces AV with Pen' horseshit. Also had a 75% to-hit instead. And could be parried. Also used to just grab your Eva and swing it and hit another Eva with it, and I can give some respect to a big boy angel whose power move is 'use a giant robot as a bludgeon'.
Okay, maybe Zeruel's a bad example; after all, part of the point in the show is he'd basically won until Shinji's robot went completely nuts on him. Let's look at a way more normal angel, Sachiel. Sachiel is the first angel. He clocks in at 80 LS, 50 WS, 40 S, 40 T, 30 Agi, 20 Int, 30 Per, 20 WP, 10 Fel, with very Eva-like Wounds (5 Head, 7 Limbs, 10 Core, 20 Body) and light armor (1 on limbs, 4 on head, core, and body). He has some magic powers, but he's mostly a melee guy. Looks good so far, right? Then you get to his melee attack. d10+8 Pen 2 is powerful, but that's reasonable enough when he only gets 1 swing at 60% (really more like 70%, he'll probably aim) to hit. You can Dodge it, etc. But if he hits, you also take d5 Critical
immediately to that location, do not stop, do not check DR. Also, his ranged attack does not need to roll to hit and inflicts d10+8 Pen8 Breach 8 on an area of effect that can only be Dodged and auto-confirms Fury. You remember when I said Asuka's impressive looking armor doesn't matter? This is the first angel. And remember, once he has to Burn Fate (which he can do to either regenerate a wounded body part to keep fighting or to Dodge an attack he's afraid will disable or kill him) he's able to do that AND the arm-ram slam every turn. He'll still get action economied to death since he doesn't have enough toughness to stand up to multiple Evas like Zeruel, but he's a nice example of just how much damage angels do. DR/toughness absolutely won't save you against them; we're in 'dodge or die' mode like normal DH.
Also, for funsies, let's look at a non-angel enemy. The Mass Produced Evangelions from End of Evangelion. In that, recall, Actual Asuka takes out all 9 of them before they get back up and destroy Unit 2 while she's out of power. She does this in three and a half minutes. They mostly defeat her because they're hard to finish off, she's on a time limit, and there are 9 of them. Here? WS 50, S 40, T 40, Agi 50 for their stats that matter, and SR 60. With 6 Wounds Head, 8 Wounds Limbs, 13 Wounds Body and 5 AV everywhere else, 7 chest. But they're also highly talented Berserkers with Double Team, so when they outnumber you (and they will, there are 9 of them) they get +30 to hit (+10 base, +10 having Double Team, +10 buddy with Double Team) and all have Swift Attack (2 attacks). They also use a melee weapon that is either a Great Weapon (So 2d10+6 Pen2 Rending, already nasty) or can turn into a false Lance of Longinus (d10+8+SB (d10+12) Pen8 Breach 10 Rending Tearing), they all have a Fate point, AND THEY CAN FURY. Also they can fly, they can throw the lances, and they cause Fear (4) so Fear tests are at -30. Remember, all Pilots besides the ATT have Bad WP. You will get numberslammed. You will get numberslammed so hard.
It's also time to talk about 'Tabbris'. This name is never given in the show, but apparently shows up in other approved material, and the way Tabbris is handled really tells you a lot about how they can't handle major story concepts or a non-boss fight/numberslam enemy. Tabbris is a designation given to Kaworu, the pilot brought in to replace Actual Asuka when she has a breakdown and can no longer pilot Eva-02. He's a mysterious boy with silver hair and red eyes, which if you know anime should immediately set off all your alarm bells. At the same time, he shows a great deal of affection for and empathy for Shinji, and the two become close very quickly. I believe he's the first and only character to tell Shinji he loves him. Soon, though, he reveals who he really is and takes control of Eva-02 without actually being in the cockpit, just floating next to it with his personal AT field. Because Kaworu is an angel. The last angel. While Shinji begs him not to and knife-fights Asuka's empty ride, Kaworu explains a bunch of stuff about what he is and what he's trying to do. Before suddenly realizing the thing crucified down in NERV HQ is Lillith, not Adam. Shinji manages to grab him out of the air, and Kaworu begs him to kill him, saying that only one pattern of life gets to live and essentially that he'd rather die than bring about the end of man and kill Shinji. There's a shot of Shinji just holding him for a full minute before he pulls the trigger and does it. As you might imagine, that event is a pretty fucking important story event in the series! I mean it's Shinji being forced to kill the one person who offered him unconditional affection after finding out the guy he loved is an alien. You can see where maybe that would be a very pivotal moment. And also very specific to the original series, because Kaworu is a character
and most of the storyline is about that character interacting with others.
So let's see how they handle 'Tabbris'. They suggest several methods for your Tabbris, if you have one. One is 'The Reveal', where you suddenly get a suspicious new pilot exactly like in the show and then wham, Tabbris. For two, they suggest taking the Manu in your party aside and saying 'You're actually Tabbris and always have been' and then nerfing the hell out of them is they say 'I defy Adam and try to stay with the player'. Or for three,they suggest using him as an eeeeevil puppetmaster. Not a single word of their suggestions about him relate to how to actually write a character, or the interesting possible implications of an angel that appears human and is able to empathize with humans. Also, I've got to imagine that playing the whole campaign as a normal character and then having the GM suddenly decide 'oh no, all your backstory was made up, everything about your character is wrong, you're Tabbris' sucked. One of the most interesting moments that could be expanded on in the series, and...their concern is that if you're not careful, he'll too easily and cleverly sneak into Terminal Dogma and start 3rd Impact because your players could never catch or detect him. They still think of him as nothing but a gotcha or a boss fight. Gotcha Twists and boss fights are all these people have got
Next Time: Deadhorsiel, the 69th Angel of Anger at the Protagonist Not Performing Masculinity
Here come that Deadhorsiel
Original SA post
Here come that Deadhorsiel
Fucking finally, I can actually create a thread in-joke and I think you'll all be pleased with how he turned out. I can do it at the same time I show off how useless their official Angel Creation Subsystem is. First we choose an Order: Angels can be Warriors, Smiting, or Messenger angels. Warriors smash, Smiters shoot, Messengers status effect/mental attack. Deadhorsiel rolls a 24 on this table, and so is on 1-35%: Warrior. He is a tough angel of fight. Next we decide his Choir, which can be Guardian (Tough), Guide (AT), or Ruler (Minions). An 'Easy' angel won't have a Choir ability, but Deadhorsiel is being created with the Average angel rules. Easy angels also get -10 to all stats, Hard ones get +10 and ALWAYS have Superior Action, not just once they burn their Fate. Deadhorsiel does not deserve to be a Hard angel. He has a 75% chance to be a Guardian (it's the most common result for Warrior) and he gets a 69 (lol) making him a Guardian.
Next he rolls for Physical Form. He could be Humanoid, Winged Humanoid, Bestial, Limbless Bestial, Flying Bestial, 'Artificial', or Hovering Artificial. He rolls a 02 and is a Humanoid. This gives him +20 base WS and +10 to his Light of the Soul. He has a 50% chance to be a hoverer, too, and it gives him Hit Locations Head, Body, Core, L Arm, R Arm, L Leg, R Leg. He is not a Hoverer. He also gets d5+3 AP on his Head, Core, and Body, and d5-1 AP on his limbs. Given all angels seem to have heavier Body/Core/Head armor and then lighter Limb armor, but also seem to have uniform values, I'll roll once and apply those to all locations. He gets AV 5 heavy locations, AV 0 Limbs. Deadhorsiel is not the mightiest of heaven's host. As he does not yet have a TB, I can roll his Wounds but not fully generate them. He'll have TB+4 Wounds on his limbs, TB+1 Wounds on his Core, (TBx2)+7 Wounds on his Body, and TB Wounds on his head. Much depends on Deadhorsiel's LS and Toughness. Finally, he rolls for Size relative to an Eva. With a 47, he is the size of an Eva and gets no modifiers from size.
Next, he rolls d100s and checks a table for stats based on being a Warrior. He rolls a 97 for WS, which is a base of 60, +20 for Humanoid. Deadhorsiel has an 80% WS! He is a master of wars! He similarly rolls a 91 for BS, giving him 50%, his max as a Warrior Angel. He rolls a 34 for Str, and so only has a 30 Str. A 19 for Tough, so 30 Tough. This is not a good thing for Deadhorsiel! This is a bad thing! He needed TB! Continuing his cold streak with a 29, his Agi is 30, too. A 67 gives him 20 Int, but angels barely use Int so who cares. A 95 gives him 40 Per, but again, Per doesn't come up much in 40m tall robot fighting so, uh, good? 02 gives him a 10 WP. This pleases me: Deadhorsiel is a total coward. Not that it matters, he's immune to pretty much anything WP gets used for, but for flavor, I am pleased. A 12 also gives him 10 Fel, which is important: His Fear rating will only be 1, as Angel Fear is equal to their FB. A 05 faceplants his LS at 50+10, for 60. Shinji can completely Neutralize Deadhorsiel's bullshit field.
Deadhorsiel did not turn out to be especially formidable. But his Bullshit Rolls might fix him! (They are not actually called bullshit rolls). He rolls for melee attack! A 45 gives him WHIPS. He cannot be Parried, and does d10+3 (SB), Pen 6 (lol, AV is useless) and a roll on the damage type says Rending. His Whips have Toxic on them as their special bullshit, so test Tough or take d10 damage to the affected limb that can't be reduced, when struck. He rolls his Guardian ability, and I should point out some of these are, uh, troublesome. +6 AV would be problematic for early game weapons, though Deadhorsiel is light enough that they might blow his limbs off anyway. Orbital would be...problematic for PCs who have no way into orbit. Aberrant Core renders the Core invulnerable to non-AT attacks so, uh, the party wouldn't be able to kill him. Luckily for them, he rolls 'has 2 Fate Points'. So he will simply need to taste the curb a little more before he actually dies. Other abilities for Guardians were stuff like +20 to Tough and can use Tough for Dodging.
Finally, as difficulty adjustment, a custom angel gets 'CR points'. They get 1 per PC above 4 PCs (OD included), and then the highest Rank of the PCs-1. So a party of 5 at Rank 5 would have 6 CR. CR is spent on a pool of abilities, but each CR point also gives +10 LS and +3 Wounds on all locations. As Shinji and Nise Asuka will be engaging Deadhorsiel as a pair at Rank 1, and they do not have an OD (I had pondered making Central Officer Bradford, but he was too busy getting drunk and telling X-COM about the time he totally killed 80 aliens with his sweet hanzo steel to be available for OD work), Deadhorsiel will get none of these powers. These talents are things like 'Get Counter Attack and Wall of Steel so you can counter all melees' or 'Full Attack on the Charge' or 'increase stats a lot'. This is, by the way, the only point of 'difficulty adjustment'. Note Deadhorsiel already has a very high WS, and could have had much better stats already. Also, on a 96+ on his Light of Soul, he could have had 100+d10x10, so, you know, potentially more than Asuka and Shinji can ever breach as a 2 Eva team. There's no adjusting difficulty down
besides the basic Easy angel. The randomized elements have no consideration for balancing. Also some of the CR points can royally fuck specific players, like 'spend 1 CR for 1/2 WUP this battle' so fuck you Skirmisher/Heavy Weapons character. Some of them specifically tell you to lie to players, as well, which is always good. Always lie to your players. It's not like GMing requires trust.
You can also GAIN CR by taking Banes, weaknesses on the angel so you can buy big money prizes back in their strengths section. Banes are highly situational according to the book, and may not come up at all in the fight. Meanwhile, those big money prizes sure as fuck will! Another wonderful spot where a GM can fuck the players, right? 'You have d5 Rounds before it attacks, unless you attack it' is exactly equivalent to 'it has +20 Toughness', right?
Finally we have some suggested names and a table of random physical characteristics. We already know our angel's name. I roll some traits (they say just roll as many as you want and roll until it 'feels right') and get that he's got an Uncomfortable Aura, his Core pulses and throbs with energy, he got them freaky backwards bending knees, spooky fangs, and he twitches constantly. So he's a twitchy, uncomfortable angel that seems to be hopped up on amphetamines, scampering around on his weird backwards legs and whipping around with his big bendy whip-arms while roaring a lot with his useless fangs. There he is, folks. 500 pages in and I've finally got a boss fight rolled up for the sample encounter.
You might notice that this entire process was incredibly random. You might also notice that's not very good for something that's meant to be about creating heavily tailored, memorable boss fights. All the abilities you can roll are gimmicks, not real tactical abilities. It's simply hard to make a particularly strategic fight that isn't just Numberslam when you only have one enemy
and more importantly, almost every fight is going to involve closing to Neutralize and/or shoot at close range so you can use your ATS. Every fight will revolve, to some degree, around the AT field. The various gimmicks are telling; they're almost all 'give it a higher number somehow'. That's what the authors think difficulty is; high numbers so your numberslam has a lower chance of slamming hard in your direction and there's a much higher chance you get numberslammed back. If I'm going to have numberslam, I'd rather this shit be fairly simple; when I ran the test-fight between Johan Schmidt and a Chaos Warrior it took me like 5 minutes to run it despite it going for 8 rounds, because it was simple to resolve
. Here, a serious angel rather than a starter like Deadhorsiel is going to have a ton of abilities to reference, their AT powers, their multi-actions, etc. It'll all come down to Numberslam but it's got a lot of chaff thrown in the way to give the illusion of depth and that makes it take a lot longer. Which makes the Numberslam way more annoying. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with basic Numberslam; you just need to design around it and make things like target selection, movement, etc all count. Which they don't when your move is 'move close and Neut' and 'there's only one enemy piece on the field'.
Next Time: The Fall of Deadhorsiel
At last, fanfiction!
Original SA post
At last, fanfiction!
So, it's a sunny day in Tokyo-3 when Shinji arrives at the base to meet his dad. It's also a sunny day with a high chance of coked up kaiju, so Deadhorsiel is currently running around and making me roll for where he's intercepted while Shinji has an awkward introduction with the badass supersoldier that's going to be his wingman in this timeline. So while Nise Asuka's showing off lifting a munitions crate above her head and trying to be friendly with the nervous kid, we're rolling to see what Deadhorsiel's up to. He's detected on land, in the forests and mountains outside of Tokyo-3. They start the emergency building recess while Gendo shows up to tell his son to get into the robot and emotionally blackmail him with a wounded Rei, just like in the show! UN troops go out to get stepped on as the Defense Line phase begins. Shinji also rolls vs. his depression and gets a 21, so he's able to shake it off. Good work, Shinji.
Unfortunately for them, Deadhorsiel is completely immune to their attacks and cares not for their horseshit, so he's just going to book like crazy straight through all the conventional forces while screaming something that might translate to 'ANNNNNNOOOOO' the entire time. Now, RAW, he has to cross the 1km defense line, so 100dam. At a flat run, it takes Deadhorsiel 5 rounds to pass through the Defense Line without stopping to fight the useless tanks. Maybe he steps on some people on his way, I don't know. Checking the Defense Line results, this is an EXCELLENT BATTLE! The pilots get +3 to Initiative and +10 to Fear tests against Deadhorsiel, because they know he can be slowed down! Despite him, uh, running flat out the entire time. He was just too slow. Defense Line is poorly thought out
. They also get to meet him where they choose when the fight starts, gear in hand, and get two MAGI scans for him being such a slow silly angel. The UN troops are really relieved I decided to use this to show off how stupid Defense Line is.
They meet him on the Base of Operations ground, plugged in, with Shinji up front and party time Nise Asuka warming up her chaingun in the back. Shinji starts the fight in Neutralization range, Asuka starts at 25dam so she can warm up the chaingun (and get +10 to hit from range). Shinji rolls his WP, and does it at +10, because he's had some time to steel himself; it's good! Shinji makes his Fear test and DOES NOT RUN AWAY! Asuka rolls hella high on Init and holds fire, laughing madly over the radio. Shinji Neutralizes the angel, wiping out its entire AT field, and doesn't bother with his other action; he'll let the angel come to him. Asuka, however, after god knows how many updates, opens fire with her goddamn chaingun. And misses. She rolls Fate. And gets a 30. Now that doesn't sound great, but let's look at her to-hit here. She's base BS 40, +5 for multieyes. BUT this is DH1e, so her Full Auto is +20 to hit. AND she's in good range, so she's at +10 for that. So she needed a 75. She gets 4 DoS. Her gun hits 1+DoS times, up to its shots fired of 5. She hits with every single slug of the burst, and she starts in on Deadhorsiel's head. She puts, according to the DH table, 2 in his head, two in an arm, and one in his chest. Headshots inflict 12-7=5 and 11-7=4 Wounds, which puts him on Crits in the face. Serious crits. Arm shots inflict 13-3=10 and 10-3=7 and oh man his entire left arm is coming off. Body shot bounces but they can't all be winners. Deadhorsiel, in the first burst of effectively Pallet Rifle fire from the chaingun, has just eaten shit.
He takes Critical 2 and 6 to the head, and Critical 10 on his left arm. He, uh, Burns a Fate to try to heal the arm loss because holy shit man that was going to get him curbstomped (Halved TB, stunned d5 rounds, prone) but Asuka's headshots still stun him for a round. His arm just *barely* regenerates to 0 Wounds, negating the critical hit. He's wobbling, trying to figure out what the fuck just happened, and spends his turn stunned. Asuka keeps firing because hell yeah! She jams her gun. She spends Fate, swearing at it, and gets a 15! Which means she starts in the Body, goes into the Arm, wobbles to the Head, hits the Arm again, and then hits the Body. Also, hasn't missed a shot! The joy of Fate Points and old DH Full Auto. How did they not know this was busted? She tinks off the body, but does 13 wounds in one blow to the right arm, FURY CHANCE on the head, 11 more wounds to the arm (man, there goes another arm), and 5 Wounds to the body. She fails to Confirm fury but doesn't care. Deadhorsiel spends his second Fate to pretend she missed outright. He is mad and charging his power aura (though also still stunned until it's his turn). That's when Shinji charges. And stabs him in the arm. Since he's Stunned, he can't parry it. Shinji delivers 4+3+4-3=8 Wounds right to his wounded left arm, meaning Deadhorsiel loses the arm and takes -1/2 to TB. The angel is now extremely pissed, finally gets a turn, and tries to murder Shinji. He, uh, misses with a 95. He tries again! And hits! Shinji, with 0 Dodge Skill, rolls a 08 and dodges aside.
Asuka uses her last Fate after almost shooting Shinji in the back and, uh, also gets a 08. Every single shell lands, again, (despite the -20 for shooting into melee) this time on Deadhorsiel's legs, body, arm, and head. Off comes a leg from that lowered TB. Still dings off his body, does 14 wounds to an Arm, and then blows off his fucking head. Deadhorsiel has now lost his arm, his leg, and his head. Deadhorsiel is now stunned for d5+d10 rounds, blinded, his head has exploded like a melon, and he is praying for death. At this point, Asuka drops her chaingun, she says something about finishing strikes, Shinji doesn't know what it means, and the two of them proceed to make the helpless angel taste the curb for a couple turns of called shots with their knives and feet until they break the core. Eventually inflicting Crit 5 on it, as Shinji delivers the final blow. Deadhorsiel's terrible Toughness is his undoing once again, as he rolls a 50 on his Tough or Die test and his core cracks and he dissolves into blood. He doesn't even manage to explode. Deadhorsiel you were the worst angel ever.
The team has slain Deadhorsiel! Asuka puts up one giant robot hand. Shinji hesitates a moment, then realizes her intent and gives her a high five. They suffer 2 Collateral for moving the Evas up, but, uh, 0 besides that, so flawless victory with 20 Research and 25 Surplus. They then find out they're expected to live in shitty little apartments despite saving the goddamn world with a goddamn flawless victory.
Poor Deadhorsiel, thought of Lilim and died
Basically what happened. You would not believe how cathartic it was to watch that guy taste the curb. Note: Example battle really not all that indicative of normal AdEva gameplay, but goddamn was it funny. MVP is Asuka's Fate Points.
Next Time: Original Angel, Do Not Steal
Teleports behind u
Original SA post
Teleports behind u
The Archangels are a collection of 'mechanically complex' original 'super angels' for 'advanced groups'. I could go through all the dozens of pages of tedious OC angels. I really could. I'm not going to, because I don't need to. The final angel, the one they think is the goddamn coolest possible final boss fight, is all I need to dunk on this shit. Because on every level of his design, from his fluff to his abilities to even how he looks, Keter is just the perfect encapsulation of this game. So without further ado, let's get to the angel of the Crown.
So, first off, the name. It's a name from the highest point of the Sephirot, which I do not know much about because it's past the period of Jewish religion I studied (I am a 2nd Temple man), but from what little I know I believe it refers to the Divine will to create? Mors can almost certainly correct me or explain more. The source they probably used for it is the SCP Foundation website, though, where 'Keter' classified devices and phenomena are potential existential threats. Because that's all this boy is going to be. He's got nothing to do with perfection or divinity, he's just a big 'ole murder machine. But you know, that's fine, all the names and mythological references are just window dressing, right?
They describe him as requiring 'a theoretical mathematician and several whiteboards to describe!' because he's so incomprehensible and spooky! They have a picture. He's just a floating golden Eva with some spikey wings sticking off him. That's it. He's nothing special at all. There's no a single ounce of creativity to his visual design, no matter how much they throw around 'non-euclidean' or 'extra dimensional'. He's just a generic giant robot, no different from your Evas except that he's bigger and has higher numbers. You'll first discover he's stomping about when you find an entire city dead and all its people turned to tang to try to raise the stakes. He's made of magic supermaterial that's golden and shiney and doesn't exist in this universe, and only one piece of him will be in the universe at a time. He spreads a huge, ever-growing Anti-AT field and you have to get in there and fight him before he spreads it to the whole world and turns everyone into tang. You're also forewarned that NERV's science team should know all his powers except one and warn the players of how
cool and unstoppable the OC is
mechanically complex and interesting he is. Now, when I start in on his mechanics, I want you to keep an important question in mind. It's not 'how do they beat him' or 'who thought this up'. I'm sure he's been beaten in someone's game at some point, anything with stats has.
No, it's 'what decisions, tactically, can the PCs make to give themselves a better chance of winning?'
So, let's get Ketty's statblock out of the way first. One thing I notice: They almost exclusively use pure multiples of 10s for stats. I suppose they just like round numbers, but I also remember some of the people there whining that they wished DH was a 'd10 based system' because 'it should be anyway' and 'what's 4% actually matter if it doesn't get you a point of stat bonus' (It matters about 4%). Anyway, Ketty's rolling in at 70% WS, 70% BS, 60% S, 100% T, 50% Agi, 40% Int, 70% Per, 40% WP, 30% Fel, and 250% Light of the Soul. He's got Awareness+10, Dodge+10, and a typo: They actually forgot to double his TB for his Light of the Soul, so I don't know if that's intentional or not. It's going to be pretty important later, but by normal RAW he should have 20 TB. He also has Lightning Attack, because of course he does. His special weapons are his Arms, his Wings, and his Head; which item is sticking out of the warring sea of UNTIME he usually exists in is which item he can shoots/slash with right now.
Now, he's also got some unique abilities. Impossible Composition makes it so any limb that isn't actually in reality double its TB, so effectively 40. Anything not exposed is basically invincible. Quantum Physiology lets it pull a limb back and put out a new one in response to an attack, so the attack hitting that limb probably deflects off from Impossible Composition. The End Is Nigh makes him turn into a second, totally exposed All Core form is all his Limbs or the main Body are destroyed. This also doubles his Light of the Soul instantly, making him 500, meaning you're going to need 45 or so ATS to actually break him down to where you can fight him again so I hope you have a large party or you've gotten a lot of positive Synch disruption. Finally, Weep and Bear Witness lets him expand his magic Anti-AT field at a rate of d5 km per hour. Remember how one function of an Anti-AT field mechanically is to do 2d10 unreducable damage to every enemy in the field? He can do that to you once per 3 rounds. He can also fire a Remiel (Opera Diamond) Positron Beam (which basically does ATS Pen and Damage, no roll) at anything within his Anti-AT Field at any time. One of the 'challenges' in reaching him is meant to be getting to the center of his field before those 90% positron shots kill your party, which is a challenge that involves hoping he rolls badly, because you also *can't Dodge this attack*.
His arms aren't anything special physically: They do d10+6 Pen3 Tearing, but they add up the damage die and reroll and inflict that much Insanity on the pilot hit. No save. Which A: Causes Synch Disruption and B: That's 2-20 Insanity a swing. This is meant to be late campaign, in a game that loves the stupid Insanity rules. You're probably showing up with 50-70. At 100 you die. His Head fires a shot that does 0 damage, but 'save with Tough or be Stunned 1 round' and inflicts 2d10 Insanity, just like the arms. You cannot dodge this or react to it or save against it in any way. His Wings fire like an assault rifle, doing S/3/6 fire rate and d10+5 Pen5. They don't do a ton of damage, though they're respectable. They also inflict d10+1 per hit Insanity, of course. And cause you -10 to all tests per hit (Max -30) until his next turn. Also recall: He goes twice at all times.
Now, he is beatable: You saw what happened to Deadhorsiel when he started losing limbs, and at AV 5 and 15 Wounds his limbs can
be blown off, especially by Fury. He still suffers normal critical effects. But also remember, it's entirely up to him what limb he's showing at the time. You can't focus fire on a limb, and you have no control over target selection. None of the limbs, etc are especially vulnerable. There's no cue to figure that out during the fight. You just keep slamming his numbers and hoping you slam harder before his many AoEs and IP inflicting attacks drop you. You're also explicitly forewarned of everything about him except
that you're going to have to deal with an ATS 50 asshole second phase that can slam down undodgeable 100% (I forgot, he counts as Short Range at all times when firing) Damage 50 Pen 50 shots. In addition to the high accuracy Insanity causing attacks (or the explicitly unstoppable one) and the 'every 3 turns, 2d10 unblockable undodgeable' field. Oh, and his writeup on how to use him also implies he can make all 3 of his normal attacks every round after he's Burned Fate, so Burning Fate to become his 'all Core' form actually does count as him getting his limbs back for Celerity purposes. So he's got 4 actions a turn at that point and you can't reduce them until you kill him. This also means that all his critical damage might go away in the form transition if your GM decides the wishy-washy rules writing means that.
There's no actual strategy. He's just a pile of high numbers and gimmicks that all end up coming back down to NUMBERSLAM. Their big, complicated JRPG super final boss that they're really proud of is just 'roll dice and hope'. There's no tactics, there's no actual theme or concept behind him, he doesn't tell you anything about the characters by how they fight him or how they defeat him. He's just a flying golden Eva with a shitload of numbers to slam on you. He's completely creatively, mechanically, and conceptually bankrupt, and I can't think of a better final boss for this game than this piece of shit. Everything about him is totally non-interactive. It's just big numbers! So the answer to our question from before is 'nothing'. There's nothing you do. No decisions you make. You just hope you get lucky as you fire/slash away. They also have a backpatting little bit of writing where 'Welllllll, if you REALLLLY want to make him MORE POWERFUL so you can be crueler to the players (because what GM pulls punches on the FINAL BOSS!?) it's a hellworthy sin and raises the divorce rate worldwide if you do it, but just give him every AT power and let him teleport if your PLAYERS don't play FAIR' and really, fuck you, you idiots.
So, seeing as this is the final mechanical update of this review (everything else is pretty much all just fluff, a few apocalypse scenarios and some final thoughts) let's use this to talk about Boss Fights in an RPG. What's the role of a big ole' boss fight? I'd say it depends a lot on the mechanical and tactical complexity of your game. If you have a game where you don't have many meaningful decisions in combat like AdEva, then the purpose of a boss fight is actually drama. You're here to have a threatening looking enemy to numberslam with (or an enemy with a gimmick whose numbers are easy to slam after it's figured out) while you reveal character relationships and have dramatic moments. Only in a system and situation where you have lots of actual complexity to work with and multiple levers of mechanical decision making to pull is a boss fight really about 'challenge'. Because otherwise, the challenge is solely 'roll well'. Keter's entire challenge is 'roll well'. If I go into a fight I have a 10% chance to win, and I can't do anything mechanically to make those numbers better, the system and story better start planning for what happens if I lose. Because that's not a challenge, it's a longshot with 'you'll probably lose and then we'll need to decide what happens' attached to it. Hell, the GM doesn't even have anything interesting to play with with Keter.
This is one of the reasons AdEva's combat is so bad
. It wants to be about epic battles and hand-crafted boss-fights, but it's welded to a system that can't handle that, it doesn't know how to present that anyway besides big numbers, and the one-on-party nature of the fights doesn't leave much room for tactics as it is. And their response to trying to build an engaging combat is to build a complicated one, except it still boils down to 'roll well'. Keter is the perfect note to end the mechanical part of the review on, with his for-this-fight subsystems and lack of actual decisions, theme, or visual appeal, because he's goddamn everything wrong with the game in one spectacularly dull JRPG boss.
Next Time: Third Impact.
Komm Susser Tod
Original SA post
Komm Susser Tod
Well, here we go. Here's the last part of the book. After this is just final thoughts and then we're done at last. Just gotta get through Giant Naked Rei and the Tree Of Life and oceans of tang. The game assumes your campaign is going to end on Third Impact. That thing you spend the whole game trying to prevent is going to happen and maybe you're going to get a shot at ending it, or maybe this is going to end in tang, crosses, and sadness. Because that's how End of Eva went so of course your RPG is going to go the same place. Given End of Eva was basically a giant indictment of the kinds of fans who wrote this game, I suppose that's fair enough, right?
Our first scenario is Succession, where an angel gets to Adam and decides to absorb him and become New Adam, now with New Adam Flavor. The Angel immediately gains LS 400, doubles all its stat bonuses, becomes immune to crits that don't outright remove the limb or kill it, starts regenerating, and gains Heavenly. It then tries to get the Oyster Fork of Destiny (Sorry, the Lance of Longinous) and kill Lillith, then kill everyone and make a world for angels. Your goal is to kill the new angel god with either the lance, or by waking up Lillith and going 'Fucking hell, it's Adam! I know we're an accident, and also that we kept you locked in the basement for eons, please save us mom!' and hoping that somehow works. She might cause a different Third Impact after killing the rookie Adam imposter, though. Or maybe you can talk Lil out of it. And if the Lance doesn't work (and the Lance's abilities are GM fiat anyway) Adam (or the victorious Lillith) just ends the world anyway. If the Lance does work, uh...the last time the Lance worked we had an Antarctica. Just saying. We don't have one anymore. So there might be consequences.
The second scenario is where the angel gives Adam a kick and wakes him up. Adam then awakens as the Giant Of Light (Big 'ole superEva) and his numbers are going to slam the shit out of you, because they're even slammier and more numbery than Keter. Otherwise, things go exactly like the last one. It's barely a separate scenario.
Ascension, the third scenario, happens if you're a guy with a head full of evil plans, a chin full of beard, and a hand full of Adam. This is what would happen if Gendo was trying to take over the world rather than being desperate to see his wife again so he could be close to the only person he felt comfortable with or cared about. An individual has Adam grafted to them and has gained Adam Powers. This basically turns the initiator into someone with ATS 40, but a very squishy human body, since a Lillim can't have the full power of Adam. They also get power over angels as minions, and might even be able to create more, but if you neutralize that AT field and slam any numbers into this guy they are fucking dead. This means they're actually pretty easy for an endgame party to kill as long as they can get over the ATS hump. The book goes on about how anyone who achieves this is a master planner who will never just have a direct confrontation with you because they're super smart, blah blah. Get through whatever contrived minions and machinations this person has (probably some MPEvas) and then smash them like a bug and make a quip about a puny God and you've won. Kind of a disappointing Third Impact after the alien God and maybe having to wake up Lillith, no?
The Singularity Egg brings in the writers' favorite one-time thing that was barely in the show, the Sea of Dirac. An angel tries to technobabble and universe create itself into a new Adam. You want to stop it while it tries to turn the whole world into another world and then makes itself World God. Kill World God before it is World God. Save Current World. Lame climax.
Corrupted Source has an angel reach Lillith and, being a dumbass, try to wake her up and fuse with her instead of realizing that's not Adam like Kaworu did. This makes a flawed God-Machine that can't create new life, but otherwise you just need to kill it or something before it ruins everything and kills all humans. Also kind of lame. Also, they pull the Geofront up into orbit and if you aren't in your Evas the entire party dies and you play as another random NERV branch party trying to stop the apocalypse, which is beyond lame
The Original Plan has Lillith woken up by humans, but she doesn't do what they want. She's Lillith. She does what she wants, instead. And that's looking out at all this weird gunk growing on the planet and pondering if she's going to turn it all to tang and start over. They give no stats for fighting her with your Evas, though it's given as a possibility, but I'd assume she's about on par with Adam if it comes to numberslam. The more likely option is that, with your AT Fields, you're able to be recognized and manage to talk to your creator. PCs might convince her the world she accidentally made is a good world, anyway and let her just leave to do her job on another barren rock ball. That could actually be a fun ending, trying to figure out how to talk to a completely alien mother of your species and get her to recognize you have value and shouldn't just be tang. Reaching out to and communicating with a totally alien and frightening existence successful would be a fitting climax.
A Human Work is just Ascension, but with a human taking control of Lillith instead. They also might be in an entry plug inside her. Otherwise, it barely differs besides being harder since a human can use more of Lillith's abilities, apparently.
Human Instrumentality is the attempt to convince/trick Lillith into remaking mankind into a gestalt consciousness made of tang and crosses, as per End of Evangelion. If you want this to not happen, you have to take a ton of Ego Damage while joining the Tree of Life formed by the MPEvas (assuming you didn't beat them; you probably won't, but you might) and yelling 'HEY LIL! THEY'RE FUCKING WITH YOU! YOU'RE GETTING PLAYED, MOM!' until she listens. Then you gotta deal with Lillith, probably as per The Original Plan. I like to imagine the 'saved the world as it existed' ending version of this being a very embarrassed Lillith/Giant Naked Rei carefully stuffing each cross back into the tang, making a rebuilt human out of it, patting them on the head, and sending them on their way, primarily because it's funny.
In Doomsday, someone gets the idea of shoving Adam and Lillith together and everyone dies. This is the Rocks Fall Everyone Dies ending, explicitly. You do this to your players and they probably don't come back for the next campaign, and justifiably so.
The endings are okay. I think bringing in End of Evangelion, for which I take the reading 'This is revenge for the death threats for the original ending and an indictment of the fans who would make AdEva', is probably a mistake. There are better endings you could do for an Evangelion oriented story, but for the kind of game AdEva is, which is a combat game about Giant Robot X-COM, a final big battle with a creator and macguffins and saving the world and shit is probably fine. God knows that's how I ran it 9 years ago, so my hands are not clean of tang in this situation.
Anyway, that's the end of the books, but not the end of the review. No, no, we've got a final analysis of AdEva and all of this coming up. I ain't run outta ink yet, goddamnit.
Next Time: Night Runs Out of Ink
I want to GM in this world, but like, not the AdEva one. Other ones.
Original SA post
I want to GM in this world, but like, not the AdEva one. Other ones.
So, this has been my first review of something I fucking hated. This game is so much worse than I thought it was from memory. When I was running it in college, I missed the creepy shit (though in my defense, stuff like Unshippable is new in 2.5) almost entirely, despite having direct experience with it through the community of the game whenever I played outside of my normal play group. I loved running this game the two times I did. I had a great, great time writing both a one on one game and a group game with this system. At the time, a player told me 'You can really only play this game once before you know what's coming since it only really has one campaign structure, but it's a fun one' and I agreed whole heartedly.
I watched Eva because I was enjoying running AdEva off of what I knew from cultural osmosis and the V2 rulebook. It took until near the end of both campaigns before I started to realize the rules weren't adding anything to the game. The fun part was all the stuff we were doing, the stuff we were bringing to the table; AdEva wasn't doing any of it. Fights were something that became a foregone conclusion of high damage and Great Positron Cannons so we could get back to the character drama. That, combined with the experiences I had with the game's direct community and that sense of 'you can only run this once' made me shelve AdEva and my plans for sequels or additional campaigns, happy I'd played it and remembering it fondly.
I think it took getting knocked out of caring about 40kRP to make me want to take another look back at AdEva and see what it really was, rather than what I remembered it being like. It has all the flaws of 40kRP, but while I knew there was creepy shit in the game's community from my experiences with them, the degree to which it is hidden in the actual rules themselves makes my skin crawl. This game isn't just a massive, clunky mess of subsystems and bad design: It's a creepy as fuck game that has a lot of design that can specifically be used as a coercive in very unacceptable ways if the GM wants to do that. And I have every reason to believe there are GMs and players who want to do that.
I write a lot about the quest for 'maturity' in nerd culture and how toxic it can be because it tends to think that maturity is found in an ocean of blood, Hard Men Making Hard Choices, 'A certain degree of sexual imagery', and abuse. This game's authors think that what's coercive and toxic is dramatic. They think that having traits like Sadistic (where your PC MUST be abusive towards others, it's mechanically enforced) and doing so with no safety rails or mechanics makes for deep roleplaying. We know it doesn't, but it's telling that they think that. The people making this game think it's a deep and impressive story worth telling; look at all that horseshit about how you can't let players bully you out of telling your great story. The fact is, you don't write a deep story by sitting down and saying 'I'm going to write a deep story'. Stories acquire their depth through writing characters who feel like people, who people can connect with. You don't write a good world by writing out tons of details about it, you write a good story by having things actually fit together, and often by having something you're really excited to convey. It isn't a matter of how much you put in, it's what you put in, and how you do it. Your story can only be mature when it has confidence in itself; you can't force it by throwing in extra tragedy or exploitative sexual relationships or whatever. There are great, deep stories that touch on dark material. But they're great because of what they say and the way they say it, with genuine empathy for their characters and an understanding of their material rather than an arbitrary attempt to reach greatness through an ocean of blood and tears. More importantly, it is possible to write something optimistic, hopeful, touching or even joyful and have it be every bit as deep as tragedy. Darkness is not the essence of all artistic value. For fuck's sake, listen to Handel's Messiah or the Ode to Joy and they'll single-handedly disabuse you of the notion that joy can't be beautiful.
You don't find any of that here, in this game. You just find more toxic melodrama and wallowing in 'grimdark'. Grimdark is an absolute poison on genre fiction. Grimdark is the shit I'm talking about up there. The wallowing. The reflexive, constant cynicism without any real thought as to why one is being cynical. Evangelion, the source material, is a pretty dark show. Terrible things happen to the characters, most of their relationships are unhealthy, adults treat these important children who they're relying on like shit. An insane doomsday cult is plotting to essentially kill humanity as it is now so they won't be lonely or scared anymore. Because that's the thing, everyone in Eva is lonely and scared. Even the mighty conspirators with the world in the palm of their hands are doing what they're doing to stop being lonely and afraid and to try to find validation.
And that's why it mattered so much to me that it ended how it did originally, with Shinji rejecting that. A story about how all these epic forces can be traced back to fear, loneliness, and the desire to connect with others ending with the main character embracing emotional vulnerability and declaring that he wants to learn to love himself so he can exist and exist with love for others meant a lot to me. 'It's okay that things hurt sometimes and I can love myself despite it, enough to care about others and connect with them while accepting and recognizing their separate personhood' is a conclusion, flawed as Eva can be, that I find really beautiful. Evangelion is a flawed, weird work that is very much a product of the time, place, and people who worked on it, and I've only seen it once a long time ago. But I'm glad it exists.
AdEva captures absolutely none of that. Its mechanics are all about shooting an alien with a chaingun, and at the same time, that's okay. It's okay to write a simple story! Or a tactical roleplaying game. It would be 100% fine to put down Giant Robot X-COM. Hell, after doing this review I want the game Nise Asuka thinks she's playing
and hope it gets made some day (or that I have time to homebrew something that's an approximation). But that's the thing: So much of the trouble of AdEva comes from trying to be an important work, because it's based on an important work (Eva is really influential on its genre, after all) without understanding anything about that work. They think the big guns and oceans of blood matter. They think the darkness is what makes the work. And yes, the darkness is important, but not the way they think it is. It isn't because it's dark. It's because of how the characters react to it and live with it. And for me, it's especially because of how the protagonist eventually breaks through that darkness and embraces something of light in the end.
Look at the endings this game gave, and the super angel final bosses. They're all about numberslam and kaiju fights. Only the endings with Lillith have a hint of maybe getting at the sort of stuff I'd want to see in an Evangelion game, where someone has to deal with the fear of talking to an entity they don't fully understand to find a way forward.
AdEva is a useful game to examine, in the end, because
of its lack of value. It says so much about the consumption of and play of RPGs that a game this bad sustained its development as long as it did; the play group can make any game fun if you have sufficiently engaging characters to move forward with, after all. And its grasping, weird quest for dark meaning and how that feeds into creating a toxic atmosphere, or the way it engages whole-heartedly with surface level elements of the story without actually looking any deeper? It's a wonderful illustration of a lot of trends in the consumption of media and fandom. This is a Fan Game to end all Fan Games, because it has every single pitfall
of fan games. It is a game created with absolutely 0 critical analysis of mechanics, implications, or themes.
And so in the end, I hope this deep examination of this deeply flawed, worthless game can, itself, have some value in helping us do better. Negative examples are valuable, and this is an excellent negative example. I also know I got little personal in this final bit with what all this means to me, but that's kind of the point, isn't it? You can see a lot of what I believe through how I critique these things, both in what I enjoy as a designer/GM and what I like to write about when I write elfgame campaigns.
So that's it for this, a weird, terrible game about a weird, flawed, and fascinating work. Thank you all!
Next Time: Hats Now